UPDATE: Creative Loafing reported on August 3 that Jollibee willicially open in Pinellas Park. The full story can be found here.
Ladies and gentleman of Tampa, we are now expecting the much anticipated arrival of a hospitable bee in a chef’s hat. Yes, soon coming from the clouds bringing buckets of Chickenjoy is Jollibee.
The Filipino fast food chain is rumored to be coming to Tampa, according to reports in Creative Loafing. For a point of reference for how friggin excited you should be, when a Jollibee landed in Manhattan people waited in line the night before in the rain wearing bee costumes.
So, you can start gathering your tent and happy ass bee costume now so you can be ready to dance the jolly jig. And when you enter that Jollibee on that fateful day, and your smile shines like an atomic rainbow, here are some items to try.
You will eat Chickenjoy. You will crash your beak through its crunchy, garlicy, spicy layers. Seriously, this is the fried chicken that ran McDonald’s out of Manila back in the day. This is the fried chicken – accompanied by bowl of gravy – that will change your life. Don’t overthink it, Einstein.
2. Jolly Spaghetti
This is the sweet spaghetti, baby. If you have ever been to a good ole’ fashioned cookout with styrofoam plates and folks packing up plates of food in foil for those who couldn’t make it, well, you may have had spaghetti with hot dogs in it.
Similarly, Jolly Spaghetti is definitely not your traditional Italian spaghetti. The sauce is sugary – like banana ketchup – and you will find ham and hot dogs in there. Get over it. Shoot, get jolly. After all this is the place Anthony Bourdain called “the wackiest, jolliest place on earth.”
3. Peach mango pie
I am sure you remember those gas station pies that came in the sleeve, right? The buttery flaky crust and the fruity ooze in the center. Well, the peach mango pie is like those memories, but way better.
4. Palabok Fiesta
Filipino food has some great noodle dishes – pancit is probably the most classic – but you can put the Palabok Fiesta right up there on the Mount Rushmore of Filipino noodle dishes.
Rice noodles covered in garlic sauce, shrimp, crushed chicharrons and a hardboiled egg. Shut the front door. Most dishes on the menu are pretty accessible for Americans, but this is the one to try if you are interested in something decidedly Filipino and different.
5. Yum Burger
The most aptly described burger in the land. ’nuff said. Beef and a randy brand of special sauce.
Alright, dust off your red tuxedo and antennas, folks. Let’s make sure Jollibee gets a warm welcome in Tampa and fill our fat faces with chickenjoy and jolly foods until we do the Safety Dance or something.
Oh, and pro tip: save room for an ube (purple yam) dip cone. It’s a revelation.