Gasparilla Guide 2023: Everything You Need To Know

  I t's that time of year! Gasparilla season. The pirates have taken over.  Me and another pirate, 2017 Another year has come and that means it's time for another season of Gasparilla. Lets get some of the more important questions out of the way real quick: How much does it cost? Nothing. Gasparilla is a free event. They do offer paid upgrades, but the parade itself is free. Where is it? The Children's parade and Day parade are off of Bayshore Ave in South Tampa into the Channel District in Downtown Tampa. The Knight Parade is on 7th Ave in Ybor City. Where do we park? I've found that the easiest place to park is the parking garages in Ybor. They offer parking + a bus into Downtown for a reasonable price (note: This has not been announced for 2023 as of now. This will change as the event draws nearer.).  You can also park on neighborhood streets. You'll get a few individuals who will try to scare you away. Keep in mind that they do not own the road and you are free

Black Rock Bar + Grill: Not Your Typical Chain Restaurant

Are you sure this is a chain restaurant?

Black Rock Bar + Grill, 2017

So, Stormy and I were sitting around, planning a trip to the movies, when suddenly, we both realized that we were pretty hungry. And, by "suddenly," I mean, we had known for a little while and were finally ready to get off our butts and go find something to eat. This Black Rock Bar + Grill replaced a personal favorite of mine, Mimi's Cafe (spoiler alert: I threw up after eating there), and it had been open for quite some time. The plaza has changed quite a bit with the bar in the back recently-ish being showcased on Bar Rescue on Spike TV. It was time to see if this place was the real deal. How did we settle on Black Rock? The conversation went something like this:
Stormy: "How about Black Rock?"
Me: "Is that a chain?"
Stormy: "Yes, but they only exist in Florida and Michigan." 
Me: "Lets give it a shot."
And I'm glad we did. 

The Bar, 2017

Black Rock's whole gimmick is that, if you chose to order their steak and/or seafood, they serve it raw with an "inch thick piece of volcanic rock." I'm going to leave that in quotes. The food comes out, you chop it up into bite size pieces, and then you cook your own steak and seafood on this rock at the times on the menu. The longest wait I saw was one minute for the seafood. I wont lie, it is a gimmick and I found it to be kind of a stupid gimmick. That said, I'll probably be back to give it a try sometime. Another aspect we didn't check out was their bar, though they did look to carry a handful of decent, locally made beers. We had a movie to catch, though. Beer would have to wait. The interior of the building was gorgeous, and it was pretty empty too. No competition for seating and a nice view of Dale Mabry as we ate. The picture of the bar above doesn't do this restaurant justice.

Black Rock Chicken Sandwich, 2017

But you didn't click on this link to hear me rave about the interior, did you? No! You came to hear about the meat and potatoes (literally). First, I have to give a huge shout out to our waitress, Jamie. She was attentive, fun to talk to, knowledgeable about the movie, and she took of us while we were there. If you do choose to check this place out, I'd definitely sit in her section! Anyways, Stormy and I opted to start with the pretzel bites with the garlic cream cheese and nacho cheese dips. This app comes out with the dips sitting on top of one of their black rocks with two sides of pretzels on either side of the rock. Easy to share. The dips were amazing and the pretzels were also just right. The garlic cream cheese dip had just the right amount of spice without being overbearing, and I tend to lean towards that dip over the cheese. The cheese was also very good, and got a lot better as you got towards the bottom. Then came the actual meal. I opted for a Black Rock Chicken Sandwich with onion rings and Stormy got the fish sandwich with Parmesan broccoli. The chicken sandwich was advertised as coming with "rock sauce" and said sauce came on the side. I thought that was kind of weird, but I dumped it on top of my sandwich anyway... I will say, the rock sauce was probably my least favorite part of the meal. Luckily, the sandwich itself was good enough to overpower the taste of the sauce. The onion rings were nice and crispy which is about all you can ask for. The chipotle mayo was a nice tough as well. Stormy's fish sandwich, which they claim is beer battered cod, was one of the best pieces of fish I've had recently. Full disclosure: I also haven't had much fish recently. The fish was still excellent, though the broccoli didn't seem to have much in the way of Parmesan. Excellent meal, regardless. The best part about this place was the price. It definitely didn't break the bank, and we managed to get REALLY full while there. The portion sizes are ridiculously big.

  Pretzels & Dips, 2017

Things you should know before you go:
- It is a chain, though the quality of the food will shock you.
- It's not as expensive as it looks from the outside.
- Jamie is the waitress you'll want to have. She was easily the best waiter/waitress we've ever had that we haven't built a relationship with.
- The portion sizes are huge, and even for a fat man like me, they were difficult to put down.
- You will have to cook your own steak and seafood.
- There are some craft beers, but not many.
-We have new t-shirt designs in our Spreadshirt store. Check them out! 

How do you feel about having to cook your own steak? What is your favorite chain restaurant? Leave a comment below. If you'd like more information on Tampa, check out my YouTube Channel and if you'd like to support my efforts, don't hesitate to buy a shirt from our Spreadshirt (New designs!!). Also, don't be afraid to click subscribe and you'll instantly be notified whenever a new entry is posted. If you'd like to meet other people who love Tampa, consider joining our Facebook Group. Thank you all and I will see you next time!