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Bars bracket Gasparilla parade route

Gasparilla's Parade of the Pirates is a terrifically debauched bash that unites roughly 400,000 party people. Beer and Captain Morgan Rum and cola concoctions will be peddled at several "Gasparilla Charity Beer Gardens." But for real alcohol action you've got to go with the fabulous bars downtown and in South Tampa. Here are 10, in the order you'll find them along the parade route. Just don't try to hit each and every one. Or you might be that passed-out clown making the rounds on YouTube. Wade Tatangelo, Times correspondent

1 Wings Gone Wild: Found right where the parade kicks off, Wings Gone Wild is a fine place to start your day — it opens at 11 a.m. Slurp some warmup suds while noshing on finger-licking good jumbo chicken wings, all 16 flavors of them. I recommend the honey barbecue. Just be careful: These babies are drenched in deliciously huge spills of sauce. 3114 W Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa; (813) 832-9464,

2 Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant: A South Tampa treasure since 1997, Ceviche was on the parade route when it sat at the bottom of the gorgeously old Bayshore Royal condo tower. Now Ceviche is a two-minute walk north on Howard Avenue, but it still serves the best sangria this side of Spain. We suggest a couple of "grande pitchers" ($33.50) for your krewe. 1502 S Howard Ave., Tampa; (813) 250-0203,

3 Wine Exchange: Tired of chugging beer and squirming in the painfully long potty lines? Take a five-minute stroll up Rome (veer right on Snow) and stop by the Wine Exchange for a crisp, refreshing glass of cab, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc or anything else off the sublimely extensive vino list. FYI: There's a public restroom hidden behind Wine Exchange, on Snow Circle next to Color Me Mine. 1609 Snow Ave., Tampa; (813) 254-9463,

4 Four Green Fields: When the floats and plastic-sword-wielding freaks turn east on the Platt Street Bridge, walk the opposite direction. Grab some grub at one of Publix's outdoor food stands, then head over to Four Green Fields, Tampa Bay's most awesomely authentic Irish pub. (See sidebar.) 205 Platt St., Tampa; (813) 254-4444,

5 Dave Andreychuk's Grille: When the parade pulls a left on Florida Avenue, go a bit farther down Channelside until you hit the St. Pete Times Forum on the right and the bar of 640-career-goal scorer Dave Andreychuk on your left. Rejuvenate with a Slap Shot Margarita ($9) and the Steak MVP Sandwich ($7.95). Still thirsty? Score with the vodka-fueled Flip Shot ($9). 490 Channelside Drive, Tampa; (813) 273-6360,

6 The Hut Bar and Grill: Another favorite of Times Forum frequenters, the Hut (formerly Newks Cafe) holds sway in the food department thanks to its tasty offering of Florida's most famous fish. "The Original Crunchy Grouper" sandwich ($10) is a superior slab of corn-flake-crisp-and-almond-rolled sea creature goodness nestled between a pair of yummy buns. Enjoy any number of booze and beer choices being slung by a first-rate bartending/wait staff. 514 Channelside Drive, Tampa; (813) 307-6395,

7 Hattricks Tavern: When the parade goes north on Florida, sneak a left on Cumberland, go north a few steps on Franklin, and there sits Hattricks. It's the sports bar out-of-town and local businesspeople have been contentedly tippling at for the past decade-plus. Customers also dig the company of the super-friendly bartenders/servers. Just don't tell 'em Wade Tatangelo sent you. Trust me. 107 S Franklin St., Tampa; (813) 225-4288,

8 Boss Hog's: While the parade proceeds north on Florida, we party people will continue up Franklin until we find Boss Hog's on our right. Duck in and order the "Malibu Surprise." A pint of this four-white-rum-infused rad-ness costs a measly $5! Got the munchies? Try the "Pig Plate." This $7.99 steal is two open-faced cheeseburgers, macaroni salad and fries topped with meat sauce. Meat sauce! 511 N Franklin St., Tampa; (813) 226-2677,

9 Hub Bar: Tampa's all-time greatest dive bar, the Hub is also on Franklin, north of Boss Hog's. I recommend a glass of Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey with a splash of soda ($6). Want it super strong? Tell Jeannie Robinson — she's been working there 22 years and knows how to pour a stiff one. 719 N Franklin St., Tampa; (813) 229-1553.

10 Gilligan's Hideaway: The parade ends at Jackson and Marion streets. That's just around the corner from Gilligan's, the place to watch the madness from a covered deck while sipping an island treat like the Malibu Coconut and Midori-made "Professor's Experiment" ($7). Need to soak up some of that alcohol? Go with the blue-cheese-covered B&B Burger ($7.79). Beer snobs take note: A few doors down is the highly recommended Kelly's Pub, which carries hoppy delights like Chimay and Stella Artois. 202 N Morgan St., Tampa; (813) 301-9050.

. Worth scoping out

Four Green Fields

Tampa's most pleasurable pub is at the epicenter of Gasparilla. The famed, thatched-roof Irish establishment is charging a $10 cover Saturday ($25 for all-day parking but call ahead). Sounds pricey, but it's worth every penny. The setting can't be beat and the staff maintains its cool even with the place packed with rowdy, wanna-be swashbucklers. For the big day, Four Green Fields' killer kitchen will be closed, but delicious ham and turkey sandwiches can be had for $5. "We do what we do, it's been 17 years," says owner Colin Breen, with a smile. "We put away all the glassware and take all the furniture out."

So, how does a guy get a drink when the bar is packed five deep?

"Barking or whistling at us definitely won't get you served fast," says Ashley Renee, the tiny, tattooed bartender who will be working her fifth Gasparilla this weekend. "Be pleasant and make eye contact — and tipping works well!"

Publix on Bayshore

For Gasparilla, the Lakeland-based supermarket transforms its Bayshore location's parking lot into an all-ages-friendly carnival replete with 10 different food stations, live music from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and rides for the kids. Inside, the store will be staffed by every single one of its 160 associates — plus additional workers borrowed from surrounding Publix stores. All this is done to ensure that folks won't have trouble stocking up on popular items. "It's everything you expect from Publix, the friendly associates, the fresh food, leaked out into the parking lot," says Publix representative Shannon Patten. "It's a fun, family-friendly atmosphere and the perfect place to watch the parade."

Bars bracket Gasparilla parade route 02/04/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 4, 2009 10:02am]
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