The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Ybor City Scenes

Posted on | August 26, 2012 | 21 Comments

Chef cooks in the window of La Creperia Cafe
on 7th Avenue, Ybor City, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012

TAMPA, Florida
Our accommodations for Convention Week are in the historic Ybor City neighborhood, walking distance from 7th Avenue, the major nightlife scene in Tampa. When I woke up this morning about 7:30 a.m., I decided to go get breakfast and eventually found La Creperia Cafe, which is a lot less la-dee-da than the name might suggest. A breakfast crepe and coffee was $11, with 77 cents tax and I tipped $3.25 for a $15 tab. (Hit the freaking tip jar!)

After breakfast, I took a stroll down 7th Avenue, which is sort like the French Quarter in New Orleans, in that it’s jumping all night and pretty quiet in the morning. All the local merchants are rolling out the welcome mat for the Republican National Convention.

A gay-themed welcome poster hangs in the window of an art gallery. As in other similar neighborhoods, a significant gay presence is part of the whole “gentrifying” yuppie vibe in Ybor City.

The Gonzalez Martinez Cigar Factor is also home to the famed Columbia Restaurant. Ybor City is historically known as the “Cigar Capital of the World,” and shops still feature hand-rolled cigars — quite literally, you can watch while they roll a cigar just for you.

A sign in the window of Gaspar’s Grotto advertises their award-winning Cuban sandwiches. Ali Akbar, his assistant Devon Wills and I went out for a midnight dinner Saturday night and I had the Cuban sandwich, which they serve with plantain chips. Gaspar’s Grotto calls itself a “Notorious Pirate Bar,” but the Saturday night crowd included more lesbians than pirates. NTTAWWT.





21 Responses to “Ybor City Scenes”

  1. Beto_Ochoa
    August 26th, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

    Lesbian Pirates? Well, they are notorious snatchers.

  2. Adrienne
    August 26th, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

    I was in Ybor City in my late twenties before it became “cool.” Absolutely best crab rolls I ever ate. All the food was good and I loved the Cuban coffee…

  3. lions
    August 26th, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

    Yeah when you are done with the tourist locations go to West Tampa(Arco-Iris). It’s a small place but you can get breakfast lunch for decent prices. Yes Ybor has bath houses too…

  4. PaulLemmen
    August 26th, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

    Ybor no longer represents anything other than the inroads the LGBT activists have made here in the Tampa Bay area. 10 years ago Ybor was THE place for enjoyable times. Now it is a crime-ridden area, drug-infested and unsafe for anyone.

  5. Dianna Deeley
    August 26th, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

    A friend of mine pointed this story out to me:

    I’d have added it in the First RNC Protesters Arrested thread, but I wanted it to be seen.

    Last comment – the blade isn’t a machete, is it? I can’t come up with the name of the blade style, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a machete.

  6. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    August 26th, 2012 @ 6:40 pm
  7. K-Bob
    August 26th, 2012 @ 6:41 pm

    I got to walk around the place one morning and was surprised how few businesses are actually open during the day. It’s mostly nightclubs, of the sort I wouldn’t want to be around (let alone inside of) without a little something in the waistband.

  8. K-Bob
    August 26th, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

    OK, “mostly” is an exaggeration. But the place was dead as a doornail at 11am.

    August 26th, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

    Times change. When I loafed in Tampa in the mid 70s–ostensibly going to college–teh gays just hung out at the Dennys on Kennedy Blvd. Or maybe that was just the trannies. That’s a long time and a lot of acid ago.

  10. JeffS
    August 26th, 2012 @ 7:20 pm

    Looks more like a Kukri, Dianna. Not actually a machete, although they can be used as one. Just an effective fighting knife, Just ask any Ghurka.

    August 26th, 2012 @ 7:29 pm
  12. jwallin
    August 26th, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

    I was never impressed with Ybor city. Especially after having to make a few service calls for water equipment in the back and basements.

    If you ever want to eat in one again, don’t into the back of a restaurant. That applies in many places but it’s particular important when the buildings are very old, the climate is warm and humid and the costs are high and the employees low paid.

    Get the picture?

  13. PaulLemmen
    August 26th, 2012 @ 8:36 pm

    The trannies still hang out there … while suing the Mons Venus for not hiring them …

  14. PaulLemmen
    August 26th, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

    The storm surge passing up Tampa Bay can still cause major damage … I’ve got sandbags ready! I just moved into a new place directly on a bayou (50 ft from my front door) and a 5 or 6 foot storm surge would flood the place …

  15. PaulLemmen
    August 26th, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

    If they are open at 11 am it’s most probably only a skeleton crew.

  16. Dianna Deeley
    August 26th, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

    Thank you! I was racking my brain and ransacking my memory for the blade name.

    I found a site that does sell the blade pictured as a “machete”, which raised my eyebrows, but whatever. It’s marketing.

    Kukri style is draw cuts, yes. Very effective, and utterly confusing to those trained in the traditional styles of Europe and the Americas. Less so to those trained in Filipino styles.

  17. jwallin
    August 26th, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

    Ybor City has pretty much always been a little sleezy. At least back to 1980 when I was there.

  18. richard mcenroe
    August 26th, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

    I told you putting Cheney out on the jetty to stare it down would work.

  19. More Fear and Loathing in Tampa | hogewash
    August 26th, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

    […] travelogue of Ybor City here. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInEmailPrintLike this:LikeOne blogger likes this. This entry was […]

  20. Adjoran
    August 26th, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

    I’m just curious as to how you know there were “more lesbians than pirates” in the place. I mean, if there are ZERO pirates, then it is a good educated guess, but you sounded certain.

    Appearance? Behavior? Gaydar? Or did you go up and ask them? (After all, you are working press).

  21. RNC Hangover: You Gotta Believe : The Other McCain
    August 31st, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

    […] Hangovers and Approaching Hurricane …Aug. 26: First Arrest of RNC Protesters ReportedAug. 26: Ybor City ScenesAug. 27: Journalism as MasochismAug. 27: Health Care Expert: ObamaCare Will Kill Estimated 40,000 […]