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Gators Tampa Guide Review

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The Bottom Line

If you are a Florida Gators fan, you will love the place. If your heart is with another team, however, you’ll have a good time but probably won’t want anyone to know about it.

Pros

  • The staff is very patient and friendly. They took their time with me as I debated what to order and explained what things were if I had questions.
  • Once you order the food comes out pretty quickly.
  • Almost all the meals are under $10 so they are budget friendly.

Cons

  • My con may not be your con. It’s like a shrine to the Florida Gators. As a University of South Florida Bulls fan this is a massive con for me.
  • If you get there too late on a night they charge a cover you might have to shell out a little dough to come inside.

Description

  • Address: 12754 Kingfish Drive, Treasure Island, Fla.
  • Phone: (727) 367-8951
  • Hours: According to the Company facebook page Gators is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
  • Parking: There is a huge lot on the side of the restaurant you can park in.
  • Company Website

Guide Review – Gators Waterfront Restaurant & Bar

As a University of South Florida graduate and fan of the Bulls I must admit I was quite reluctant to visit Gators. In fact, I’ve avoided the place ever since it opened in 1990. However, after working a wedding with a friend of mine she wanted to celebrate her birthday there and I felt I had no choice but to walk into a place that screamed “Go Gators!” So, that is exactly what I did somewhat kicking and screaming. Fine, that didn’t happen, but I was nervous about walking in.

Check out 10 places to grab a beer in Tampa Bay.

I made it a point to give the “Go Bulls” hand sign several times throughout the night and every time a picture was taken I threw the symbol in there if I could. I wouldn’t recommend this if you don’t like controversy as several bar goers didn’t take too kindly to this action. Luckily no profanity was thrown at me and fists weren’t either so I stand by my actions!

Every where you walk in Gators there is something Florida Gators oriented. Memorabilia, photos, statues, etc… This was gag worthy for me, but I can appreciate that it would bring fond thoughts to any Gators fan. It was neat to see all the history in the mini museum/ shrine to the Gators in the upstairs area. The bar was pretty spacious with indoor, outdoor, upstairs and downstairs areas where you can be served food and drinks. It would be a great place to have a small private party or to have a big bash.

If you are visiting SoHo in South Tampa, here’s a list of the bars out there.

Someone told me that when the Gators are playing football the bar gets pretty crazy. Big tents are placed outside in the front and every screen is tuned into the game for one big watch party. Wish the Bulls had something like this.

Now that I have made it clear I’m a Bulls fan through and through here’s my unbiased opinion of Gators food and drinks:

Until the night I visited Gators I had never eaten gator. Yes, I’ve lived in Florida almost three decades and hadn’t eaten it! I tried the Gator Bites appetizer and was pleasantly surprised that it was quite tasty. It tasted like chicken but with a chewier bite that somewhat reminded me of a crossbreed between fried shrimp and popcorn chicken. The sauce it was served with known as Gators’ secret “Bite Sauce” was absolutely fantastic. It kind of made me think of the sauce served with a Bloomin’ Onion at Outback Steakhouse only with a little more kick. I would highly recommend trying it!

I also tried the Baked Nachos and unfortunately I was disappointed by these. I have learned that most bars just can’t seem to do nachos right. They are always either too soggy or too many chips get neglected by the blend of cheese and veggies. The taste of them was pretty good overall, but they got so soggy that it almost made me wish I had ordered tortilla chips with all the cheese and veggies on the side. I could barely eat half of them and it wasn’t that I wasn’t hungry, I just got frustrated with the texture.

If I ever get the courage to walk back into Gator territory I’ll try the fish sandwich or the burgers. I was jealous of the folks that ordered these entrees because they looked so good and the recipients of these sandwiches were all smiles over their meals. Good for them! Lesson learned!

Check out the Tampa Guide’s review of Old Northeast Tavern.

Onto the drinks! The drinks here are pretty good. One of my favorites was a creamsicle shot. It featured whipped cream vodka and an orange liqueur. One that was a little too sweet for me was the Gator Tail. The best way to describe this drink is a melon ball mixed with a pina colada. It was good, but I could only enjoy a few sips before the sugar in it got to me. The bar is full liquor with beer and wine though so there are plenty of options to choose from.

The highlight of the night was the entertainment! The night we visited there was a 70s cover band and they were spectacular. Gators is known for being quite the nighttime venue on the weekends and they bring in musical acts that are really good at revving up the crowd and keeping them in a great mood. If you get there before about 9 p.m. you can get free cover and then just enjoy yourself the rest of the time. The time they begin charging a cover changes though so check the website calendar before you head out.

All Bulls vs. Gator jokes aside, Gators is a great establishment. If you are in Treasure Island looking for a decently priced meal and pretty good drinks Gators is a good bet. It was a fun environment to hang out in on a Saturday night and I wouldn’t mind visiting again. I might wear my Bulls jersey next time though.

As is common in the industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary meal for the purpose of the review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy. All prices and offering mentioned herein are subject to change without notice.

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