Monday, September 24, 2018
Dining

Hungry at Gasparilla? Eight great restaurants near the parade route

Gasparilla. Some things are certain. There will be scantily clad pirates and liquid libations.
At some point, it is advised to eat some food. Here are some of the top places that are easily accessed along the invasion route.

GASPARILLA GUIDE: Tips on what’s happening, where to go, what to bring and more

DAVIS ISLANDS

Oggi Italian Street Food

Like so many of the restaurants on Davis Islands’ main drag, it feels like a sweet neighborhood mom-and-pop, one that would be equally at home on a windy side street in Sicily. The alleyway is filled with charming small tables illuminated by tiny white lights, a funky welded chrome archway and railings setting off the inviting front porch. It’s got real character, something magnified by a staff of Italian-accented waiters with the authentic balance of insouciance and helpfulness. It’s a short menu: antipasti, an array of roasted chicken options, a handful of hearty pastas and some truly excellent cannoli. Prices are a tad high, but considering the quality of ingredients, they seem fair-minded. 236 E Davis Blvd. (813) 252-7778.

Margaritas Mexican Restaurant

Estela’s was a landmark Davis Islands Mexican spot for years, but a few years back became Margaritas Mexican Restaurant. It’s the kind of place to kick back with a margarita (best one: the spicy version made with Sauza Hornitos tequila) and crunch your way through a basket of warm chips. A long list of dinner combos will require a substantial perusal and some cogitation ("hmm, do I want one relleno and one enchilada, and then a chalupa to round it out?"). These are mostly things you’ve seen before in workhorse combinations, with gooey pools of refried beans and scoops of neon-yellow rice. 209 E Davis Blvd. (813) 251-0558.

TRAFFIC: How to navigate downtown Tampa for Gasparilla invasion, NHL festivities

HARBOUR ISLAND

Jackson’s Bistro Bar & Sushi

Lounge, patio, sushi bar and waterfront dining room of steaks and seafood all spill over this busy station on the downtown cruising scene. It’s got an extensive wine list, plus good views of other people’s boats and condos. On any night of the week, Jackson’s is a fine place to sip, immerse yourself in swank and possibly spot an athlete. The waterfront venue also has possibly the best vantage point of anywhere for the annual Gasparilla Pirate Invasion. And when celebs come to town, they’re sure to drop by. Paris Hilton, Pete Wentz, Ashlee Simpson, Benji Madden and various Playmates have been spotted there. 601 S Harbour Island Blvd. (813) 277-0112.

American Social

It opened Oct. 30 and promptly threw a huge Halloween bash: sexy pirates, scantily clad skeletons, lots of those pneumatically enhanced superhero costumes. It was instantly cemented as a destination for Tampa’s youngish party people. It’s burgers and flatbreads and mac and cheese and fairly straightforward American pub food, served in a good-times sports bar setting. Sharing some small plates seems appropriate: A plate of simple grilled chicken skewers sitting on a bed of hummus with a handful of pita chips, beef strip loin sliders with a kicky horseradish sauce and a trio of corn tortillas cradling slow-braised brisket, peppers and a cilantro lime aioli are all appealing, easy finger foods. 601 S Harbour Island Blvd. (813) 605-3333.

GET CRAFTY: How to make your own Gasparilla wreath

SOUTH TAMPA

Mad Dogs & Englishmen

Co-owner Wilton Morley seems to do things his own way, and that has worked out just fine. This is a family place, a casual indoor-outdoor spot to meet for a pint and a nibble. The beer list favors Britain, the wine list is more global (prices very reasonable, by-the-glass pours very generous) and the servers and bartenders seem to be from all over the place. The menu features British pub staples (fish and chips, chicken curry) with some more eclectic offerings like red Thai curry and innovative housemade ice cream. 4115 S MacDill Ave. (813) 832-3037.

Yoko’s Japanese Restaurant

One of the reliable suppliers is this quiet but busy spot in the MacDill gourmet cluster. Students, professors, military brass and locals fill the small bar, snare tables or sit shoeless at tatami for tempura, bento boxes and clever sushi. 3217 S MacDill Ave. (813) 835-4311.

HYDE PARK

Goody Goody

The POX burger (pickles, onion and the fabled secret sauce), the butterscotch and coconut cream pies — these are things restaurateur Richard Gonzmart brought back to life when he reopened this Tampa original. It can make you nostalgic for a time you never experienced, burgers, skin-on fries, thick shakes (in other words, ballast for when the pirates have overindulged a bit). 1601 W Swann Ave. (813) 308-1925.

Bartaco

Food is super affordable, tacos all under $4, with sides that complete the deal for another $2.50. Then on the bar side, you’ve got come-hither Latin-inspired cocktails that skitter north of $12. So there’s this diner cognitive dissonance — "this is cheap" and "wait, I shouldn’t have another chorizo spice-infused margarita, but I want to." And second, the ordering process is fascinating and really seems to work. Built on the sushi bar idiom, each table has a little ordering chit. Then you pop the blue dragonfly card into the metal holder and a server swings by. 1601 W Snow Ave. (813) 258-8226.

BEAD LIFE: Where do Gasparilla’s beads come from and where do they go?

     
         
Comments
Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Andrea Gebbia grew up in Carrollwood, and now she is bringing the family business to the neighborhood of her youth.In late fall, Joe and Son’s Olive Oils is slated to open a second location."I feel so blessed having the ability to grow my...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/22/18
Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

RIVEVIEW – Amy Lin knows that her newest Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea store is in a location where previous businesses have not lasted.The short-lived Tap’s Brewhouse & Deli and even shorter-lived Top Shelf Sports Bar and Grill tried to r...
Published: 09/21/18
New restaurants: Olivia from Chris Ponte, Crabby Bill’s Off the Hook

New restaurants: Olivia from Chris Ponte, Crabby Bill’s Off the Hook

COMING SOON: OLIVIA Chris Ponte, right, has been a steady and notable culinary leader in our area for more than a decade with his flagship restaurant Cafe Ponte in Clearwater. A couple of years ago he mixed things up a bit by debuting On Swann in Hy...
Published: 09/19/18
Restaurant review: The Local doesn't stand out enough above its Tampa neighbors to make an impact

Restaurant review: The Local doesn't stand out enough above its Tampa neighbors to make an impact

TAMPA Do you have this debate? "Florida is not in the South." "Um, look at a map." I guess I am in the former camp: It seems Florida gets more Southern the more north and west you go, accents only creeping in as reliably as boiled peanuts up on the ...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/18/18
Chefs offer up a taste of what’s coming to Sparkman Wharf

Chefs offer up a taste of what’s coming to Sparkman Wharf

TAMPA — On Wednesday night, about 60 people got a sneak preview of what Tampa diners soon will experience at Sparkman Wharf, part of the $3 billion Water Street Tampa neighborhood that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners are developing in what...
Published: 09/14/18
What’s new in food: Clearwater Beach Restaurant Week, National Cheeseburger Day

What’s new in food: Clearwater Beach Restaurant Week, National Cheeseburger Day

DINE AROUND: CLEARWATER BEACH RESTAURANT WEEKPromoted by the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce, Clearwater Beach Restaurant Week is celebrating its ninth year Friday through Sept. 23. The culinary celebration offers foodies an opportunity to exper...
Published: 09/12/18
Restaurant review: Part fish shack, part high-end cocktail bar, Trophy Fish in St. Petersburg thrives on a fresh approach

Restaurant review: Part fish shack, part high-end cocktail bar, Trophy Fish in St. Petersburg thrives on a fresh approach

ST. PETERSBURGI value restaurants and people the same way, I suppose. I like those with a take. They don’t have to be the smartest or the prettiest, but the ones I like have a unique perspective, something that differentiates them from everybody else...
Published: 09/10/18
Updated: 09/11/18
Tampa’s Fly Bar and Restaurant will move locations

Tampa’s Fly Bar and Restaurant will move locations

TAMPA — Restaurant announcements for Sparkman Wharf and Strategic Property Partners’ 50-acre Water Street Tampa project have come fast and furious the past couple weeks. With a price tag of more than $3 billion and reading like a who’s who of Tampa B...
Updated one month ago
James Beard winner Anne Kearney to open Oak & Ola in Armature Works

James Beard winner Anne Kearney to open Oak & Ola in Armature Works

TAMPA — It was always part of the plan for the 22,000-square-foot Heights Public Market at Armature Works to have two anchor restaurants in addition to the fourteen quick-serve vendors. The developers debuted Steelbach, a sprawling steaks and chops b...
Updated one month ago
What’s new in food: The Artisan, Big Ray’s Fish Camp, Joe and Son’s Olive Oils

What’s new in food: The Artisan, Big Ray’s Fish Camp, Joe and Son’s Olive Oils

COMING SOON: THE ARTISANGulfport is heating up. I’ve been hearing raves about Golden Dinosaurs vegan deli, and now it seems that seasoned restaurateurs Michael Stewart, left, and Tom Golden will open an art and food collective called the Artisan in G...
Updated one month ago