Mortar & Pestle: Coffee, Food, Alcohol? Sounds Like a Good Time!

There are a lot of opinions about this restaurant. Lets see what the Exploring Tampa crew thinks!
Mortar & Pestle, 2019
Coming from the ashes of a popular food truck, Mortar & Pestle is a concept that thrives to bring back the old timey pharmacies. You know the ones... You go to get a soda from the fountain, you wander the aisles, make your way to the lunch counter, then leave with your prescriptions. Located on the same block as local favorites Angry Chair Brewing and Trip's Diner, there's no lack of business to be had. This is also one of the few places in Seminole Heights with a real parking lot. Had you never read a review of this place and had you not heard about their filing for bankruptcy, you'd be impressed. The inside of the building is a hipster's paradise, with the industrial looking tables and chairs, the high ceiling, the steampunk-esque inspired decor. The inside of this building is cool. Next door is also a fully functional pharmacy that I wasn…

Gasparilla Guide: 2018

It's January! That means it's time for pirates to take over our streets!

Pirate Ship, 2017

I'm sure most of you, by now, are familiar with Gasparilla, Tampa's premier tourism event. But, to those of you who aren't, or to those of you who are looking to impress out of state friends with their Gasparilla knowledge, I present you with this guide. I will have as much information as possible. Lets get started!

Dates
First thing's first, when is Gasparilla and what are the differences between the parades? Good question!

January 20, 2018 11:00 am - 7:30 pm. 

This is known as the Children's Parade and it is an alcohol free parade leading from Bayshore Blvd into Downtown Tampa. Families are free to dress like a pirate and enjoy the parade, which includes beads and other cool collectibles being thrown into the crowd. This is the first parade of Gasparilla season and kicks off the month of festivities. 

January 27, 2018 11:30 am

This is the parade that is typically referred to as "Gasparilla." Taking place mainly on Bayshore Blvd through to Downtown, this is an adult pirate's dream come true. Alcohol is permitted on the streets (in parade vicinity), people dressed like pirates, parade, beads, sponsored events, you name it. There is no shortage of anything going on during this festival. The biggest warning I have for this event: Beware the street preachers

February 10, 2018 6:30 pm

This is the Knights of Sant Yago parade, or simply the "Knight Parade" (not night, despite what people may believe). This parade takes place along 7th Ave in Ybor City. The parade is a pirate invasion as they meet with the royal court. This parade, in my humble opinion, is much calmer than the "Day Parade" and if you can find seating on a balcony during this event, you'll have a much nicer view. 

March 3, 2018 4:30 pm

Taking place in the Channelside Bay Plaza, come say goodbye to the pirates of Gasparilla during a celebration of music, drinking, and fun. Once the pirates have been all liquored up and the key to the city has been returned to Mayor Buckhorn, the pirates will board the Jose Gasparilla and fire their cannons at the City of Tampa. This is the end of Gasparilla season.

Price

All of the Gasparilla events are Free! There is, of course, costs for parking, costs for alcohol, and costs for premiere events. During the Children's and Day parades, VIP seating is available as well as different parties, brunches, etc. For upgrades, check out the official Gasparilla website.

Parking

Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT park in front of houses off of Bayshore. The best way to park is to have a friend who lives down that way that will let you park in their driveway, but there are paid lots all around Gasparilla ranging in price from about $5 to $30 or more. Typically, the closer you park to Bayshore, the more you pay. Last year, the Ybor City parking garages worked with HART to allow you to park in Ybor City and take a bus over to Downtown and then walk to Bayshore, but I've heard nothing about it this year and it's a pain to find the pickup location after the parade.

Warning: Gasparilla is an event with a lot of drinking. There will be MANY people leaving this event and getting behind the wheel drunk. For as much as we tell people not to do this, many still don't listen. Here at Exploring Tampa, we strongly suggest you call an Uber. Also remember that many roads are closed during Gasparilla, so walking outside of the parade area before calling an Uber is greatly appreciated.

My friend Charles is offering you all $5 off your first four Uber rides. Use promo code charlesp2881ue to take advantage of it. 

DO NOT DRIVE DRUNK!

Costumes

Costume, 2017

If you're going to go to Gasparilla, you have to do it right! There are a couple of ways to do this:

1) You can go dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and let everyone know that you're a tourist and/or don't take this event seriously. Seriously, don't be that person!

2) Go to your local Party City and buy a cheap costume you'll probably never wear again and let people know that you take this event slightly more seriously than the common folk. If that's up your alley, Men's Costumes and Women's Costumes. I trust from there you'll be able to find children's and, if needed, plus size costumes.

3) Show your dedication to this city and our traditions by buying a fully customized costume. My two favorite places to go for Gasparilla are Anarchist Closet and La France. I will say this: When completing a fully custom costume, be prepared to shop around. Many stores will be out of the piece that you need, some wont carry the size that you need, and some just carry garbage. Also, you get what you pay for. The coat I'm wearing above (Pirate Fashions) was worn for both the Day Parade and Knight Parade, and it tore both times I wore it. Your mileage may vary, but I'm going to throw the warning out there.

Procedures 

As an adviser of the City of Tampa, I have to tell you these things. Coolers/wagons/chairs/etc are "strictly" prohibited during the Gasparilla festival. 

Now, as a resident of Tampa, I have to tell you, most of that isn't true. Stormy and I bring a wagon with us every year with chairs (I have REALLY bad feet), a cooler (we aren't getting stuck drinking Budweiser), and other essentials (camera gear so we can showcase Gasparilla on YouTube and on here). Be courteous. Don't walk through people's yards, don't knock people over with your cooler, don't throw up on people's lawns, don't use their lawn as a restroom... People do live on Bayshore. Please respect that. 

Downtown Tampa, 2017

History

Jose Gaspar is the fictional pirate in which the event is names after. "But Mark, why are we celebrating a fictional pirate?" Simple answer: Tourism. And it works! Hundreds of thousands of people come down to Tampa every year for the Gasparilla festivities and this year will be no different. Gaspar was said to be the last of the Buccaneers, of which our football team got their name. According to the story, Jose Gaspar sailed along the west coast of Florida during the late 18th, early 19th centuries. Gaspar was an officer in the Spanish Navy and didn't look like your typical pirate, allowing him to mingle with higher members of society. After his death, it was said that he buried a treasure along the coast of Florida that, to this day, has never been found. Happy hunting!

What is your favorite Gasparilla parade? How many beads did you catch last year? 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. Also, don't be afraid to click subscribe and you'll instantly be notified whenever a new entry is posted. Thank you all and I will see you next time!

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