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5 spots to grab a bite near the Gasparilla route

Hungry after the parade? These five spots have you covered, regardless of where you’re watching the pirates invade.
Grab a slice (or two) of the Cup & Char pizza at Forbici Modern Italian — just a few blocks away from the Gasparilla parade route in Tampa.
Grab a slice (or two) of the Cup & Char pizza at Forbici Modern Italian — just a few blocks away from the Gasparilla parade route in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Jan. 24

The annual pirate invasion is upon us, and with an abundance of restaurants and bars near the festivities, Gasparilla-goers looking for a drink or snack won’t have to walk far. Depending on where you are on the route, here are five spots at which to fuel up before or after the parade.

Counter Culture

The outdoor dining area and retractable bar windows at Counter Culture in South Tampa provide a prime spot for people-watching and views of Bayshore Boulevard.
The outdoor dining area and retractable bar windows at Counter Culture in South Tampa provide a prime spot for people-watching and views of Bayshore Boulevard. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

You can’t get much closer to the route than chef Jeannie Pierola’s contemporary counter-themed restaurant, which sits right near the start, on Bay to Bay Boulevard off Bayshore Boulevard. Serving brunch and dinner (reservations are a must), the restaurant’s open, airy layout provides a prime spot for people-watching while laying a foundation with a plate of cream cheese-filled French toast and a glass or two of something bubbly.

2909 W Bay to Bay Blvd., Suite 100, Tampa. 813-570-8660. cc-tampa.com.

BT To Go

If you’re looking for something quick to grab on your way to the parade, rather than a full sit-down experience, this fast-casual Vietnamese spot has you covered. It’s also a good pick for healthier options, with dishes like spring rolls, salmon soba bowls and chef BT Nguyen’s crowd-pleasing chili chicken cabbage salad. Hit the road with a crusty banh mi sandwich if you’re looking for something a little sturdier. Pro tip: Grab a Vietnamese iced coffee to-go for an instant pick-me-up.

3215 S MacDill Ave., Tampa. 813-559-1094. bt-togo.com.

Bayou Bodega

Bayou Bodega’s jambalaya is a flavorful and hearty take on the classic Cajun dish.
Bayou Bodega’s jambalaya is a flavorful and hearty take on the classic Cajun dish. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

If you’re near Davis Islands, swing by this Caribbean-inspired restaurant and replenish with a glass of natural wine and a hearty bowl of Puerto Rican rice and beans or the excellent Cajun jambalaya, which comes studded with hearty coins of andouille sausage, shrimp, okra and chicken. The colorful decor is inspired largely by the city of New Orleans, so those Gasparilla beads will fit right in.

241 E Davis Blvd., Tampa. bayoubodega.com.

Forbici Modern Italian

From left, shishito peppers, Impossible meatballs and suppli are served at Forbici Modern Italian in Hyde Park Village in Tampa.
From left, shishito peppers, Impossible meatballs and suppli are served at Forbici Modern Italian in Hyde Park Village in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
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What soaks up excess alcohol and refuels like a few slices of pizza? The pies at Forbici, particularly the excellent pepperoni-topped Cup & Char version, really do the trick. If pizza isn’t your thing, the Hyde Park Village restaurant’s menu features plenty of other dishes, including hearty grain bowls, pastas and meatballs. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are abundant and the restaurant sports a great cocktail list, too, if you’re looking to keep the party going.

1633 W Snow Ave., Tampa. 813-251-8001. eatforbici.com.

Haiku

The torch hamachi roll at Haiku features yellowtail, avocado, cucumber, lobster and serrano peppers.
The torch hamachi roll at Haiku features yellowtail, avocado, cucumber, lobster and serrano peppers. [ HELEN FREUND | Tampa Bay Times ]

If you’re catching the parade near the end of the route, walk a few blocks over to this downtown Tampa restaurant, which has a large outdoor bar and patio right on N Franklin Street. The Asian fusion spot features a selection of izakaya-style small and shared plates (Wagyu bao buns, anyone?), plus a solid list of creative sushi rolls. (The torch hamachi roll is a must.) The long list of craft cocktails, many of which pull from the restaurant’s sake menu, is the other draw and includes creative quaffs like the Dragon’s Breath Gimlet, which combines Nolet’s gin, sake, cucumber and ginger.

808 N Franklin St., Tampa. 813-644-5787. haikutampa.com.

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