1. Best Restaurants

Best boozy brunches in Tampa Bay

Get your chicken-and-waffle and mimosa fix at these lively spots.

Noble Crust

F.G.B.L.T. appetizer with fried green tomatoes, pimiento cheese and Tabasco-honey glazed pork belly at Noble Crust. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA | Times]

With locations in St. Petersburg, Wesley Chapel and Carrollwood (they are scouting Palm Harbor and Safety Harbor, too), Italian-Southern mashup Noble Crust is a smooth-running machine, much of it fueled by lettuces and herbs from its own Fat Beet Farm on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa. For brunch, what you need to know is that on Saturdays there are $8 bottomless mimosas, on Sundays you get a free mimosa with the purchase of an entree, and a DJ rotates each Sunday between locations for a musically curated experience. The lemon ricotta pancakes with fresh blueberries have been legendary for some time, as has the fried chicken and waffles with bourbon maple syrup. But I would call your attention to the short rib Benny, the bearnaise and velvety egg goodness heightened by plush, slow-cooked beef.

St. Petersburg: 8300 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 329-6041

Wesley Chapel: 28330 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel, (813) 703-2602

Tampa: 11618 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, (813) 463-0193

Price: $

Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café

Ernie's chicken and waffles is a tasty offering from the Soul Food Sunday menu at Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe. [STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times]

Soul Food Sundays has been a big deal for a long time, but here’s the interesting thing: Proponents include devotees of Kansas City-style barbecue (ribs, brisket and chopped pork) as well as Tampa Bay vegans, who get a whole section of the special Sunday menu. Vegans may want to opt for the giant mimosa instead of the Bloody Ella, which comes with ancho vodka, a barbecue rub rim and a hickory smoked pork rib balanced precariously across the glass lip. Owned by Melissa Deming and cheffed by Suzanne Crouch, Ella’s calling cards are many: a whimsical interior bedecked with the work of outsider or visionary artists, a pet-friendly patio, live music Fridays and Sundays (and occasional Tampa punk rock karaoke nights with a live band) and a menu of more than 100 rare and small-batch bourbons.

Address: 5119 N Nebraska Ave., Seminole Heights

Phone: (813) 234-1000

Price: $$


[JEFF HOUCK | Times]

I’ve written about Datz many times a year since it opened in 2009. Sometimes it’s because a bartender has won an award for kooky-yet-hip cocktails, sometimes because the marquee outside says something hilarious. But mostly because it’s a concept that seems ever embrangled in noteworthy change. Owners Roger and Suzanne Perry have a second location that will open in 2019 in St. Petersburg next to the James Museum (they currently run the small cafe inside the museum), and their big achievement in 2018 was the opening of Dr. BBQ, their collaboration with local ‘cue champ Ray Lampe. At the flagship, though, there are many devoted brunch fetishists. Lines can be long, but you won’t sweat it if you can sip a cocktail of Wild Turkey rye, espresso liqueur, cold brew and black walnut bitters accessorized with a powdered doughnut, right? The brunch menu has always had a “nothing succeeds like excess” motif: cinnamon roll waffles, chicken and waffles Benedict, breakfast corn dogs.

Address: 2616 S MacDill Ave., Tampa

Phone: (813) 831-7000

Price: $$

Gaspar’s Grotto

Gaspar's Grotto in Ybor City. [JAY CONNER | Times]

The decor? Imagine if A&E debuted a very niche show on pirates with a hoarding disorder. This has always been one of Ybor City’s guilty-pleasure good times. What do I mean? For $39.95, you get to graze from a 50-foot buffet arrayed in a whole lot of fishing netting, with free Champagne and mimosas as well as this: a 3-ounce carafe of vodka for the Bloody Mary bar. Is that three drinks or one? You decide, no judgment. There’s a carving station, waffles and omelets made to order, piles of chilled seafood. This is the kind of place for concerted day drinking, the kind where at 3 p.m. you have to make the call: wind down or rev up? There are two Sunday brunch seatings, at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., reservations suggested.

Address: 1805 E Seventh Ave., Tampa

Phone: (813) 248-5900

Price: $$