Dishcrawl Tampa - eats, treats and shuffling (zombie) feets

Disclaimer: I received discounted tickets for this DishCrawl Tampa event. All opinions are my own, with the exception of the vlog entry at the bottom of this post, provided by guest reviewer Kricket. Be sure to check the very bottom of this post to find out how you can save on future DishCrawl tickets.

Pelagia Tratoria Patio © Tracy G. for  Dishcrawl Tampa

A friend of the family had just moved to town when I first heard about Dishcrawl Tampa's plan to eat their way around International Plaza. That sounded like a tasty welcome! Adding to the fun, three of the four selected restaurants would remain secret until we arrived at our first stop, Pelagia Tratoria

We were greeted by our charming DishCrawl ambassador, Tracy, and settled in at the table above.  It was a perfect night for dining al fresco, warm with a light breeze. * I have to note here that I totally nicked the top photo from the Dischrawl Tampa website. Click here for their yummy photos and to read the official Dishcrawl blog post, which has greater detail on the restaurants and menus.  All other photo in this post are by me via iphone. *

The evening started with everyone finding a seat and chatted up their neighbors, while diving into a generous starter of delicious cheeses, duck Prosciutto, sugared almonds, olives, gooey honeycomb and other goodies. It was a wonderful melange of flavors. I was too busy eating and gabbing, so the picture above only shows about half of what was on each cheese board.

After initial drinks and nibblies, we were served two fantastic pastas: A seared scallop over squid ink linguine with crab and fresh cavatelli with a mushroom, truffle & veal cream sauce. The center dish was an interesting grilled pear and watercress salad with bacon and a walnut/cilantro pesto. It provided an effective counterpoint in taste and texture to the rich pastas. This was definitely my favorite restaurant of the night.

The funny thing is I can be a picky eater. I'm generally not a seafood or squid ink pasta fan and am mildly allergic to mushrooms, blue cheese and walnuts... but these fresh-made pastas and well prepared accents had me diving right in. I had to force myself to just taste and not devour everything, partly because of the allergies but also because we still had 3 more restaurants to tackle. 

By the time we waddled over to our next stop, The Capital Grille, I was already stuffed,I decided to take it easy on the heavy stuff.  We were led into a private room behind the bar and greeting with a glasses of their signature pineapple-infused vodka cocktail, the Stoli Doli. This cool, crisp beverage went down sweet and easy - very refreshing.

Almost everyone seemed to enjoy the robust tenderloin & mushroom sliders with a side of rich and creamy lobster mac. I decided to hold off - picky that I am I don't like lobster & the beef was too much for my already bursting pasta-belly. After the attentive staff brought out several more rounds of these dishes, we set off again. While I took a break from eating here, I still had a great time, enjoying the clubby atmosphere and lively conversation. 

Funny thing: Kricket and I had eaten at The Capital Grille the night before with my family. Everyone enjoyed that dinner. I ordered the sesame crusted tuna with gingered rice, which was almost perfect. The sesame crust was a bit too salty and the rice could have used more ginger - but very satisfying overall... and huge - as is everything on their menu, so come hungry!)

When it was time to move again we joked about needing to run around the block a few times, but it was just a short walk around the corner to Too Jays Gourmet Deli:

While some of us were already thinking about dessert, we were served bursting corned beef sandwiches, crunchy latkes and cheese blintzes. These were complimented by containers of sour cream, apple sauce and a fruit (berry?) topping. I happily inhaled a giant mug of Dr. Brown's cream soda and played with my new toy, the ollocip macro-lens for iphone4s. Too Jays definitely had the best lighting for point & shoot photography.

Here's Kricket taking some footage for her vido review which you'll find at the end of this post.

On the aside, this was an interesting mix of people to spend an evening with. While little groups mostly stuck to themselves, there were overflowing discussions and some very entertaining eavesdropping. Diners were of all (adult) ages and temperaments. Some folks were super serious, whipping out their very professional looking cameras and analyzing everything. Others were just hanging out having a good time. 

Clusters of diners left the deli in spurts. We were among the last to leave, having heard rumors of sweets and coffee but not entirely sure where we were going (our own fault as we were distracted by an animated conversation we'd been sucked into).  A very nice group of ladies let us tag along despite the fact that we kept talking about how much the emptying mall reminded us of wonderful creepy things-  like  spooky Twilight Zone episodes, 

(Remember "The After Hours" with Ann Francis? 
Gave me major heebie-jeebies as a kid!)

favorite post-apocalyptic scenes and famous zombie movies. Somehow Kricket, despite my camera-shy instincts, caught me performing the worse zombie imitation ever! I'm quite frightful .... but not in a good way.

Despite such silly shenanigans, our accidental guides managed to lead us to the final sweet stop on our gastronomic tour, Le Macaron. We were joyfully surrounded by a rainbow of gelato, macarons and.... yes... coffee! Looks like I forgot to take a pic of the cute skinny cappuccino shots - too busy drinking them. 

Now, if you are looking for the macarons you had the last time you were in Paris, these would probably not be it. I found these sweets to be much sweeter than their namesakes. However, after all of the savory and salty bites this evening they really hit the spot! Some of the more unusual flavors, like basil white chocolate, were the most satisfying. All in all a very sweet ending.

Properly caffeinated, the crowd started to break up and our ambassador, Tracy, handed out swag bags from International Plaza. They included a cute cheeseboard, tiny spatula and booklets of coupons for many of the shops and restaurants in the complex. A nice bit of lagniappe to round out a really great  evening. Oh, and totally forgot to mention the random drawings that bookended the evening. Lucky Kricket won a gift certificate to Pellagia Trattoria - talk about a warm welcome! And Tracy won a box of macaroons at the end of the tour - read more about this over at her blogpost.

So, if you're looking for an easy and entertaining way to discover some new eats and maybe meet some new people, I highly recommend going for a DishCrawl. Click here to find one in a city near you

If you are in the Tampa Bay Area, be sure to take a night away from the stove and get on board. Tracy was a fantastic hostess and excellent shepherd who kept us all on schedule. Plus everything from the food to the ambiance was well executed. Simply a grand time all around! Click here for more about Dishcrawl Tampa, including a schedule of upcoming events. And if you want to save a few bucks click here to follow them on facebook  & twitter as they often post discount codes for reduced price tickets.

As the Plaza closed for the night, we walked (ok, waddled) across the parking lot, passing this fun bumper sticker. I forgot I'd taken a photo & it seems like a good intro for Kricket's video review of the night's festivities, which includes my unfortunate video debut:


  1. I found a crawl in my area...6-18! I am so excited. Thanks

  2. If you weren't a zombie before the dishcrawl, you will be a staggering, overstuffed zombie after you are done. I can see them filling the streets moaning, "pasta ... pasta" and slavering at the cheesecake.