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New downtown Tampa restaurants, bars give Gasparilla a try

It should come as no surprise that some downtown Tampa businesses have a love/hate relationship with Gasparilla. Of course, they love the cash-carrying crowds that descend for a day of revelry. But they also hate the craziness — and drunkenness — that comes with Tampa's biggest party. While some prefer to batten down the hatches, many try to take advantage of the masses. Here are a bunch of newly opened businesses that are giving ­Gasparilla a shot for the first time. — Susan Thurston sthurston@tampabay.com Fresh: Smart parade-goers know you've got to start out with a good breakfast (so you can drink beer all day long). Fresh restaurant sells bowls of your favorite cereal and does "build your own'' omelets on weekends for $4.99. You can't wash them down with a Bloody Mary (alas, no liquor here), but we trust you'll need a time-out anyway. 507 N Franklin St.; (813) 229-5500; eatfreshdaily.com.

Garage Bar & Grill: Park at the Grand Central building on Kennedy and grab some grub and grog. That's the hope of folks at the Garage, which opened in November. The industrial-looking sports bar serves pizza, quesadillas, burgers and sushi. It opens at 10 a.m. and will set up an outdoor bar. Bud Light drafts are $2; car bombs are $4 all day long. 1120 E Kennedy Blvd.; (813) 341-4433; ­garagebarandgrill.com.

Peppermint Reindeer Konfection Kafe: Hoping that chocolate cravings don't stop on Gasparilla, Tammy Childers decided to keep regular hours (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and see how it goes. Childers set up shop in December to serve downtown office workers and residents needing a quick chocolate fix or gift. Her adjacent 201 Twiggs Studio Salon offers manicures, pedicures, threading and other services. 201 E Twiggs St.; (813) 223-1666 for Konfection Kafe and (813) 225-1800 for salon; ­peppermintreindeer.com.

Pizza Fusion: Anyone adamant about recycling their Gasparilla bottles, cans and cups should check out this month-old eco-friendly pizza shop. The restaurant serves pizzas, sandwiches and salads using organic vegetables and hormone-free meats. Located at the base of the SkyPoint condo building at Tampa and Zack streets, it'll be a prime spot for Gasparilla revelers who want to see the parade but from a safe distance. Beer and wine? Of course. 777 N Ashley Drive, Suite C; (813) 463-1600; pizzafusion.com.

The Point: Formerly Raw Bar Sushi, this bistro along Ashley Drive is about as close you can get to the parade without being in it. It will serve drinks and food on the sidewalk patio from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and close to regroup during the parade. It will reopen about 5:30 p.m. with a limited menu of sliders, french fries, nachos and other munchies. A private party has booked the inside from 7 p.m. to midnight. 777 N Ashley Drive; (813) 422-5220.

Pour House: Landing in this poor house might not be too bad because, on Gasparilla, the Channel District bar will sell $3.50 bottles of whatever the bartender grabs from the cooler. Just don't go too early. The bar doesn't open until 1 p.m. It has 40 kinds of craft beer on draft, 65 bottle selections and wine. It doesn't serve food, but it sells beer and wine to go, which might be handy for people headed to post-parade parties. 1208 E Kennedy Blvd. at Grand Central; (813) 402-2923; ­pourhousetampa.com. (For a full review of Pour House, see Page 49.)

Sono Cafe: Add some sophistication to your Gasparilla experience by stopping in the Tampa Museum of Art for lunch or a cup of gelato. The Sono Cafe is open regular hours, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. That means it will be closed by the time the parade ends. 120 W Gasparilla Plaza; (813) 274-8130; tampamuseum.org.

Tiny Bites Cafe: Those looking for a break in the chaos might take refuge in the lobby restaurant at the Glazer Children's Museum. The pint-sized cafe will stay open until 9 p.m. to accommodate post-parade crowds at Curtis Hixon park. The museum will close at 5 p.m., the regular time. Menu includes salads, sandwiches and wraps. Juice boxes? Yes. Beer? No. 110 W Gasparilla Plaza; (813) 443-3861; ­glazermuseum.org.

Urban Cantina: This Mexican restaurant will start early to serve breakfast burritos, eggs and pancakes to parade-goers wanting a jump on the day. It normally opens at 11 a.m. but will fire up the grill by 9:30 a.m. for Gasparilla. In addition to the expanded menu, it will have beer and food specials and live music outside. Look for cantina employees passing out fliers downtown by the parade route. 200 E Madison St., (813) 221-8226.

Vivo Yogurt Bar: After quite a bit of consideration, the owners opted to give Gasparilla a try. The promise of so many people coming downtown proved too good to pass up. The shop will open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Time will tell if yogurt goes well with beer. 505 N Tampa St., (813) 228-7818; vivoyogurtbar.com.

New downtown Tampa restaurants, bars give Gasparilla a try 01/26/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 28, 2011 2:30pm]
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