Anise Global Gastrobar
Tampa, FL 33602
I had been to Anise Gastrobar in Downtown Tampa a few times for cocktails, but had never actually been there for dinner. I ended up going for my best friend’s birthday last week and I really enjoyed it. It isn’t exactly inexpensive, but I was pleasantly surprised that the quality of the food was definitely above the prices we paid.
The restaurant is in the corner of a residential tower across the street from Curtis Hixon park in easy walking distance from street parking or one of the many garages downtown. The space is cavernous, with 18 to 20-foot ceilings, flowing drapes, indoor/outdoor seating and a beautiful bar area along the far wall. The music that night was contemporary pop and a DJ came in as we were eating and started spinning shortly after 9PM.
We were with a large party and it took a while to get our orders in. Eventually, we started with hand crafted cocktails, an old fashioned and a “blackbird sangree”, their house sangria. Both were well executed and satisfying.
Their seasonal menu skewed Asian last week, with plenty of bao steamed buns and noodle dishes seasoned through the menu with the charcuterie/cheese, tacos, vegetarian options and dolled up sandwiches. They specialize in small plates, and we ended up ordering three types of bao (chili beef, red curried chicken and Chinese BBQ pork), duck confit tacos and the braised pork belly bowl.
They do bao as folded in half clamshells of white steamed bread filled with meat and veggies and condiments as opposed to the Filipino-style siopao (large white buns with filling) that I grew up with. They were all delicious, but the red curried crispy chicken with cucumber and yogurt was the standout. I would’ve been perfectly happy eating three of those alone as my entire meal! They came on one plate, perfectly sized for sharing and my friends and I enjoyed passing them around.
We finished with duck confit tacos and the pork belly rice bowl. The tacos were good and flavorful, but the meat was a little tough and dry. I did enjoy the pork belly bowl served on sweet coconut rice with a generous portion of kimchi. The combination of salty fatty pork, the sweet rice and spicy kimchi made every bite an explosion of flavors.
At the end of the meal, we were too full for dessert, but some members of our party got the s’mores with house made marshmallow that looked out of this world.
We ended up over-tipping – there’s an automatic tip for parties over 10 that we missed. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and I look forward to going again.