My girlfriend and I have tickets to see Wicked at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center this Friday night, and we're staying the night at a hotel she booked near the Tampa Airport. As such, I come seeking early dinner recommendations near the airport (preferable) or the TBPAC, with the caveat that I don't know my way around Tampa very well at all. I already looked at the website for that Channelside mall complex, but nothing there looked too exciting.
I also know Gasparilla is this weekend, and we'd rather not get caught up in horrible traffic, crowds, or craziness. Neither of us will be drinking, so we don't care about bars. We're open to almost any kind of food except Indian (she doesn't like it) or Vietnamese (we get it all the time in Orlando), and we'd prefer local places to chains. Is there an iconic Tampa barbecue place nearby? Amazing burgers? Cuban that would impress the hell out of this Miami boy? Italian that isn't too foo-foo fancy? Nothing overly fancy or expensive, please, since we're just students right now, and the play tickets and a night in a hotel are a bit of a splurge for us.