Since July, local dessert favorite, Awful Waffle, has been bringing mouthwatering sweets to NoHo Junction. Starting in February, however, the store will open a second location inside of Tampa’s bustling International Plaza Mall. That’s right—in a few short weeks, you’ll be able to get your waffle fix while shopping.
It’s pretty much the teenage dream.
To fully understand the excitement of this expansion, though, one would have to be up to date on the “bubble waffle” food trend. But if you’re not following #bubblewaffle on Instagram—never fear! I’m about to give you the complete rundown on what they are, where they’re from, and why you need one.
An international waffle trend arrives in Tampa Bay
Today, I stopped into Awful Waffle’s flagship location for a tour and tasting. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the operation’s founder, Pedro Miranda, who was just about as bright and colorful as his dessert creations. Radiating enthusiasm, he welcomed me into his aromatic workspace.
“I was selling kitchen equipment in Mexico when I first tried a bubble waffle,” he shared, guiding me past rows of candy toppings.
“And?” I prompted, waiting for the account of his love-at-first-bite moment.
“I didn’t really like it.”
Off my perplexed expression, he elaborated. “I didn’t really like it,” he continued, “but I knew it was a cool concept. I remember thinking, ‘If I could fix this, I bet it would sell really well in Tampa.’”
Crafting the perfect, massive bubble waffle cone
Today, the proof is in the pudding (or should I say ice cream?): his instinct was totally right.
The opposite of a normal waffle, which is square-shaped and indented with holes, the bubble waffle is circular and features convex “bubble” puffs. Colloquially, it’s like a big, inside-out Eggo.
In order to fulfill his objective of “fixing” the dessert, Pedro pulls each one hot off the iron and wraps them around creamy scoops of ice cream and indulgent toppings. The result is a soft, melty, “bigger-than-your-head” cone which is drippy and sloppy in all the right ways.
Now, I don’t know what it was that Pedro tried in Mexico, but I’m 100% certain that he “fixed” it.
Especially with his “Tough Cookie” Oreo creation.
Waffle pops and batter bites
Though the bubble waffle is undeniably the store’s best-selling item, Awful Waffle offers two other waffle-centric options: “Pops” and “Bites.”
The former is like a popsicle, but without the annoying melting factor. Made to order, each “pop” is composed of a hot Belgian waffle strip and doused liberally into an array of toppings. If you’re feeling creative, you can design your own. But if your indecisive, Pedro recommends the chocolate and caramel dipped “Candy Bar” with peanuts, or the white chocolate and cereal covered “Crunch Berry.”
The “Bites,” on the other hand, offer a lighter snack option for diners just looking for a nibble. An innovative finger food, each portion of bites is made solely of the “bubbles” from the store’s popular waffles. Available in vanilla or chocolate, and accompanied by your choice of dipping sauces, these snack-sized poppers are a super fun way to taste Awful Waffle’s signature batter.
Though Awful Waffle is known for elevating Tampa’s dessert game, their service is just as notable.
Think first-time discounts, pandemic sensitive take-home kits, and fresh samples of artisan popcorn while you wait (which is also made in house). If there’s one thing Pedro Miranda does better than waffles, it’s taking care of his customers.
And, with next-level hospitality like that, I wouldn’t be surprised if his upcoming expansion is the first of many.
Awful Waffle is located inside of NoHo junction at 1500 W Cass St., with a second store opening February 1st in Tampa’s International Plaza. For menu offerings and up-to-date expansion details, diners can visit https://awfulwaffleus.com/, or find them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/awfulwaffleus/.