A fictional swashbuckler with a pet alligator and a penchant for good food blew into Tampa almost 40 years ago at the original Whiskey Joe’s Bar & Grill, and now has an outpost in the Rickenbacker Marina.
The vibe is Key West meets the Big Easy in a pet-friendly place with a menu running the gamut from crab cake sliders on toasted Hawaiian buns with slaw and corn salsa to mango salad with coconut shrimp and banana croutons. Snacks include jerk wings, beer-battered gator nuggets with chipotle mayo and quesadillas with shrimp and andouille sausage.
Chef Bobby Frank is a Florida native who started as a bus boy at a St. Petersburg retirement home and worked his way up. After graduating from Johnson & Wales, he did stints at Emeril’s Miami Beach and Norman’s in Orlando.
Flatbread pizzas bubble in a mixture of mozzarella, smoked Gouda and Parmesan with pesto and various toppings, good with a craft Shanghai Red ale.
The sustainable seafood of the day could be blackened red snapper in a Cajun rub with rice and bean risotto. There’s also battered fried shrimp, fish and chips and grilled grouper.
Arrive by boat and the chef will cook your catch for a fee. Bananas Foster hit the sweet spot here at old Joe’s new port-of-call.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.