Where to get your pumpkin fix in Tampa
By the time early October rolls around, most regions around the country see beautiful foliage and cool crisp weather. This is not so much the case in Tampa where temps unfortunately still hover in the high 80’s-low 90’s, the humidity is still unbearable, and the closest fall foliage lies hours away in Georgia. Despite the horrible weather and lack of traditional leaf peeping opportunities, there still lies the opportunity to enjoy everyone’s favorite fall flavor: pumpkin! Pumpkin treats in Tampa are easy to come by with so many restaurants (both chain and local) populating the large metro area.
Seasonal pumpkin goodies are in abundance this time of the year pretty much everywhere. Whether it be common chains or local businesses, many cafes, coffeeshops, and restaurants begin to roll out tasty autumn specials. From seasonal soups, to bakery goods, to special fall pastas, to everyone’s favorite, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, a little bit of pumpkin goes a long way in bringing up nostalgic fall memories.
Here are a few great seasonal treats to check out in the Bay area
Homemade Pumpkin Muffins at Sips Specialty Coffeehouse
This charming local coffeehouse is your best bet this time of year if you desire a cozy ambiance along with fall treats. Being one of the few Tampa area coffeehouses that decorates for fall/Halloween automatically puts Sips near the top of the list. Add in great house coffee, a special Pumpkin Spice Latte, and plenty of seasonal fare including Pumpkin muffins, Pumpkin Bread, and Caramel Apple cake, and you have a fall winner. Update: Sips is now under new ownership. Unfortunately, the entire vibe and food menu are now different. They no longer decorate and the cozy ambiance is gone!
Pumpkin Spice Latte (various locations)
Starbucks’ trademark autumn drink which spawned endless copycat recipes is a must try at least once despite the high price tag. However, if you would rather support local business, numerous cafes offer their own version of the ever popular seasonal indulgence. Treat yourself to a locally made PSL (and delicious Pumpkin Bread) at Buddy Brew Coffee in beautiful Hyde Park Village or The Haus, a rustic cafe with locations in Largo and Indian Rocks Beach.
Seasonal Pumpkin Cheesecake at Olive Garden
Once the weather cools down, it’s time to make your way over to Olive Garden for their amazing soup, salad, and lunch combo. The vegetarian minestrone and Chicken gnocchi are always delicious, but even moreso when there is a chill in the air. Wait for a cool wave in Tampa and plan a date to indulge in some Italian comfort food. Cap off your meal with a slice of their most delicious Pumpkin Cheesecake, by far the best seasonal autumn treat offered at any big chain.
Pumpkin muffin at Panera Bread
Although Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and numerous other coffee chains rolls out the pumpkin muffins each autumn, none compete with Panera. The casual bakery chain comes out with a perfectly spiced muffin topped with powdered sugar. Rich with warm fall spices, this muffin is just bursting with the right amount of Pumpkin flavor. Their house coffee is also delicious, so enjoy a light breakfast here, patio side if the weather permits.
Pumpkin Spice Poptart at Buttermilk Provisions (now Provisions Coffee)
Buttermilk Provisions is a local coffeeshop in Wesley Chapel known for serving a large assortment of allergy friendly pastries. Not only do they serve great organic, fair trade coffee, but they also offer many GF and vegan teats. During the fall, the lineup of seasonal fare is especially delicious. Be sure to try their amazing Pumpkin Spice Poptart. Other seasonal goodies include pumpkin spice donuts, apple cider donuts, and pumpkin maple scones.
GF/Vegan Pumpkin Bread at The Blind Tiger Cafe
The Blind Tiger is a local coffeeshop favorite which first opened in historic Ybor City. Today, there are several locations throughout the metro. In autumn, along with a cup of delicious coffee, you can also enjoy special fall treats including the ever popular PSL, plus the most delicious Pumpkin Bread. As an added bonus, the bread is both vegan and gluten-free, so everybody can partake in a bit of pumpkin deliciousness. It’s guaranteed to put you in a fall state of mind despite the hot and humid weather!
Pumpkin Macaron at Le Macaron
Le Macaron is a wonderful upscale French macaron/coffee shop with locations throughout the US. In Tampa, you can get your macaron fix at Countryside Mall in Clearwater, Tyrone Square in St. Pete, and the Shops of Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel. Le Macaron serves the renowned Lavazza coffee, so do enjoy an espresso to balance the sweetness of the macarons. Although there are many tempting varieties of macaron, you really have to try the seasonal Pumpkin. This delicious autumn creation features a sweet base and just enough pumpkin to bring a bit of fall into the air.
Note: macarons are naturally gluten-free as almond flour is used.
Autumn Squash Soup at Panera Bread
Panera Bread is the best chain when you crave a bowl of hot soup on a cool fall day (or a mild day in Tampa’s case). In addition to comforting favorites like Broccoli and Cheese and Creamy Tomato, you must try the Seasonal Autumn Squash. Nothing really says fall like a warm bowl of savory butternut squash soup. Add a fresh salad, a comforting bowl of mac and cheese, or a simple roll of fresh bread. Or, opt to have your soup served in a delicious bread bowl. Regardless of how you take your soup, Panera’s Autumn Squash soup is a treat not to be missed!
For those missing the great cool weather & fall ambiance of East coast & Midwest cities, check out my list of ways to make it feel like fall in hot & humid Tampa!