Showtown

We’re heading to Gibsonton this morning. On the approach we saw this 30-foot mechanic wielding an enormous box wrench. It gave me the impression that he was waiting to use the wrench to pound into scrap any car that drove into the lot.

We visited Showtown at 10902 US Highway 41 South on 9 July 2011. They have a somewhat haphazard web site at http://showtownusa.com/. Note that the marquee says it’s a “Restaurant and Bar” yet the building says it’s a “Restaurant and Lounge.” And there’s a “Morning Happy Hour.”

We first went to this door, but it doesn’t really look like it’s actually a door.

We walked around the building looking for a door made of door, instead of one made of paint.

Finally, we found this one. Which, while it does appear to be a door for folks of diminutive stature, is actually a tall-folks door cleverly concealed. Just finding our way in was a lot of fun! (Turns out the first door was actually behind the almost-naked lady. Showtown starts you out with a bit of crazy.)

Showtown, for all the show so far, has a pretty basic breakfast menu. Good, relatively complete, but not with the circus-themed menu items you might expect, given the whimsy you find before you even get in the building.

The coffee, to our delight, appeared out of thin air.

Today’s a real treat! Not only are we having breakfast in a truly unique place, we also have Abbey with us!

To make things even better, we also have TBB fan Vinny. He is also Abbey’s dad.

As is more and more common these days, about now Marek suggested that perhaps he could take all the pictures. He took this nice shot of Abbey. That big red blob upper left? Marek’s finger.

And then they ran off to play foosball. I told you it was an interesting place.

Vinny, who is expert on any sport that involves a ball, gave a free lesson. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first foosball table Marek ever saw.

Marek, if you grow up to be a gold-medal Olympic foosball champion, you can look back and say that you got your start here.

While they were playing foosball and I was wondering why it was taking so very, very long for breakfast to come out, I wandered around to look at the extensive murals. Here’s the kitchen. We joked that they only had one chicken and we’d ordered two eggs, so they were in the back yelling at the hen “squeeze, Bitsy, squeeze!”

Here’s a bit of detail from the extensive mural behind our table. At first glance, you think there’s just a bunch of posters on the walls. Then you look closer and realize that this is an immense body of artwork in what otherwise is really a ramshackle dive bar with a restaurant tacked on.

Seriously, you get sucked in and lost when you start looking closer.

“Hey Vinny, how long you been waiting for breakfast this morning?”

“Four hours, it feels like!”

The kids started out playing tag.


Then they just took naps.

Seriously, the detail on this is incredible. I can’t remember the surrealist artist who painted like this with the extended shadows. Hopper did some like this, but there was that other guy. The dead one. Spanish. Cityscapes that were desolate and lonely, with intense shadows that were not possible given any realistic light source. Grrr, memory. Fails. Me.

The nice folks at Showtown brought us crayons. Funny thing about Marek: He’s not the least bit interested in coloring. Not at all.

But my boy can surely tell a joke. Here, here’s telling the one about the difference between a lawyer and a catfish (one’s a bottom feeder, and the other’s a fish!).

Aaaannnnd …. here’s breakfast!

Abbey’s pancakes were bigger than she was!

Marek had his new favorite, floppy eggs and bacon. That’s a lot of bacon, but he took care of it like a pro.

I had the pancakes, and when he was distracted I nipped some of Marek’s bacon.

Vinny had the biscuits and gravy, and the picture’s out of focus because, well, I’ve only got a lousy mobile phone camera and sometimes it just fails to live up to the moment.

I can picture Marek being a young man, out on a date with a pretty girl, and saying, hey, lookit how I can eat bacon! Because that’s what it appears he’s doing here.

The bill for all that chow, and it surely was a lot of chow, was about $30. Not the cheapest ever, but we did have four full breakfasts so that’s pretty reasonable.

If you head to the latrines you’ll encounter this tired woman. Showtown is fraught with this lovely, unnerving detail.

After we settled up and were just finishing some coffee, Marek and Abbey decided they wanted to really play foosball.

Marek volunteered to get quarters, for which he needed a grant from the National Foosball Foundation, A.K.A. me giving him a dollar.

Here, Marek and Abbey are shown negotiating the terms of exchange, one dollar for one quarter was the original request, but the counter offer of four quarters for a dollar was a better deal.

And then we all played foosball, Vinny and Abbey vs. Andy and Marek.

On the way home, Marek and I stopped to get flowers for Favorite Guest Reviewer Mom. Why? Because it’s a special occasion: We love her!

So what about the breakfast, you ask?

Here’s the Tampa Bay Breakfasts take on Showtown: The actual breakfast was really good. The pancakes were near to perfect. The bacon and eggs were just right. Toast was nice. Coffee was strong and black. People were friendly. Vinny and Abbey enjoyed the chow. The Gibsonton-appropriate circus themed murals were simply incredible and occasionally mind-bending. The down side is that breakfast took forever to arrive, and it’s clearly a bar that serves breakfast rather than a breakfast restaurant that happens to also have a bar. So there’s some really good and some sort-of-not-so-good to the equation.

As Tampa Bay’s only working Breakfast Professionals, we have to apply serious science to our reviews. Ultimately, it boils down to good chow plus good times plus price plus character, and Showtown has more character than any other place we’ve been to in the last three years. The only real significant complaint is that it took 40 minutes from order to delivery, but I just can’t get over the fact that Showtown is flawed yet awesome. Showtown, we’re going to forgive that 40 minute wait and reward the fact that this is clearly the trippiest breakfast location in Tampa Bay.

We’re pleased to award Showtown with a Tampa Bay Breakfasts Five Pancake Rating. If you go, tell them Marek and Andy sent you. And don’t sit on the south side.

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