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Pirates invade The Tarpon Turtle at the inaugural Tarpon Turtlerilla

I haven’t been able to convince anyone to go with me to Gasparilla, Tampa’s legendary pirate-themed holiday, since 2013 when my car was mobbed by hundreds of confused drunk people who thought the road was closed to traffic.  Thankfully, The Tarpon Turtle provided a safer alternative to Tampa’s celebrations this year with its inaugural Tarpon Turtlerilla.

The Tarpons Turtle, Tarpon Springs, FL.
The Tarpons Turtle, Tarpon Springs, FL.

The Tarpon Turtle is a Key West-themed waterfront restaurant off Tarpon Lake in Tarpon Springs, FL. Since I had yet to order from The Tarpon Turtle’s new island-inspired menu, I came hungry.  As we waited for the pirate boat parade to begin, I sipped on rum punch and sampled the Caribbean-inspired pepper jack cheese sticks in pineapple habanero marmalade and homemade pita chips with monkey butter.  For lunch, I had the very tender and delicious Cubano Beef tacos.  With six different types of tacos to choose from, these island-inspired taco creations appear to be a house specialty.

Rum punch, on special for Tarpon Turtlerilla.
Rum punch, on special for Tarpon Turtlerilla.

 

The Pepper Jaxx appetizer at The Tarpon Turtle: "Hand breaded pepper jack cheese sticks with a homemade pineapple habanero marmalade."
The Pepper Jaxx appetizer at The Tarpon Turtle: “Hand breaded pepper jack cheese sticks with a homemade pineapple habanero marmalade.”

 

Complimentary homemade pita chips with monkey butter at The Tarpon Turtle.
Complimentary homemade pita chips with monkey butter at The Tarpon Turtle.

 

Cubano beef tacos at the Tarpon Turtle.
Cubano beef tacos at the Tarpon Turtle.

As 3 pm neared, increasing numbers of boats docked outside The Tarpon Turtle, waiting for the festivities to begin.

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The main event was the 3 pm boat parade.  About a dozen boats, decorated to fit the traditional Gaspiralla pirate theme, made a circle around Tarpon Lake, waving and tossing beads to a small but eager audience on the docks.

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The Tarpon Turtle did a great job with this event, and I love their new menu.  I’ve watched the Tarpon Turtle go through many cycles of new owners and chefs through the years, and I must say this is the best Tarpon Turtle yet.

Jennifer Ring

Jennifer Ring is a freelance writer & photographer living in the Tampa Bay area, on Florida’s west coast, home to some of the best beaches in the state.

http://flillustrated.com
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