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

Rick's On The River: Yes, They Have Boat Parking

There are a few restaurants you can stop at on the Hillsborough River. This is one of them.

Rick's On The River, 2017

Rick's on the River is a Tampa mainstay. They've been on the Hillsborough River for as long as I can remember. When my dad used to take his boat out, we made it a point to stop in at Rick's every chance we got. Rick's claims to be a "Key West bar in the middle of Tampa." Stormy and I recently went to check it out and see if it lived up to what I remember, but that wasn't enough! My dad got his boat fixed up and it was time to find out, for sure, if this lives up to the memories. But you didn't come here for that.

Bar, 2017

Lets talk about the seating first off. There is a bar, there's a second room that breaks off from the bar, there's an outdoor bar, there's a seating around outside, and then there's the event space. There is no lack of seating anywhere in this place. The best part about this bar is that, despite it's regular, no frills crowd, they do have a decent selection of craft beer. I don't believe any of it is on tap, however. Prepare to go through a lot of bottles. The one downside is their seat yourself policy. It's great that you don't have to wait for a table, but there have been many times where I've had to wait on a server... And I'm not being picky here. Last time I was there, my parents and I waited for a good 15 minutes as nobody was sure who was supposed to be serving our table. Outside of waiting on servers, they do serve food...

Chicken Sandwich, 2017

This will be my most debated post when it comes to food. You're either going to love it or you're going to hate it, and there doesn't seem to be much in between. I settled on the chicken sandwich, as I've been on a spicy kick lately and that seemed to be my best option. While the chicken tasted exactly as it should, there wasn't much in the way of spice. That was slightly disappointing, but expected as a lot of restaurants keep it safe with their hot sauce. I also sprung for the Cajun fries, which seemed to be the biggest hit at the table. I will say, I wasn't a fan of their regular fries at all. The sandwich comes complete with pickles, onions, lettuce, and tomatoes which provides a nice touch to a simple sandwich. I do suggest pairing this sandwich with a Reef Donkey by Tampa Bay Brewing Company as I did (those of you astute readers probably noticed. I see you!). 

Cheeseburger, 2017

This is the burger that my parents ordered and split... And a burger that my dad absolutely hated. As he says, "I've worked in kitchens in the past and it takes a lot to impress me." While that may be valid for him, my mom didn't seem to enjoy her half either. All said, a cheeseburger is a staple of any bar or casual restaurant. To have two people with two completely different palates not like yours is impressive. I will say that a burger also doesn't have the same advantage that a chicken sandwich has in which you can hide a lackluster meal under hot sauce. They also settled for the normal fries, which I will agree, sucked. 

Outdoor Seating, 2017

Things to know before you go:
- You can arrive here by boat or car. It's one of the few restaurants on the water that you can pull up in your boat.
- It might take a while to get a server to come to you. They seem to get overwhelmed quickly.
- You will either love the food or hate it.
- You can also use their boat ramp for something along the lines of $6. 

Do you like the food or hate it? Is the chicken sandwich better than the cheeseburger? 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 (we have 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!