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