Of all the winter squash that adorns grocery store shelves and produce department bins, none are as well-loved as the pumpkin. It is the star of the show when it comes time for dessert in the form of pie or cake, and coffee houses struggle to keep up with the demand for pumpkin spice lattes. Pumpkin also has myriad of health benefits, including high fiber content, beneficial phytochemicals and Vitamin A. Now you can enjoy the taste and health benefits of pumpkin without entering a pie-eating contest or overdosing on caffeinated drinks. These Tampa Bay restaurants have taken the humble pumpkin to the next level in these delicious seasonal dishes.
14303 N. Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL 33618
(813) 269-1500
www.grillsmith.comGrillSmith is not afraid to experiment with bold new flavor combinations. From filet tip egg rolls to smoked salmon bruschetta, everything on the menu just screams flavor. Perhaps that is how the Caribbean Pumpkin Crab Bisque was born. This rich, creamy soup is infused with crab meat, topped with toasted almonds and finished with a dollop of cream. Best of all, you can add it to any entree for only $3.99.

Jasmine Thai and Sushi Restaurant
1785 N. State Road 7
Margate, FL 33063
(954) 979-5530
www.jasminethaisushi.comIn the sweet and savory pumpkin curry dish at Jasmine Thai and Sushi Restaurant, the humble squash is married to the exotic flavor and pungent aroma of curry. The sweet flavor of cooked pumpkin mingles with the spiciness of curry and cumin. This dish can be ordered along with a meat or fish entree or as a first course before enjoying a meal of sushi.

400 Beach Seafood & Tap House
400 Beach Drive NE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 896-2400
www.400beachseafood.comSt. Petersburg’s 400 Beach uses only the freshest local ingredients in its culinary creations. One seasonal favorite is pumpkin coconut bisque, a rich and flavorful soup made with pumpkin puree, apple cider, coconut milk and a flavorful blend of spices. For a light and satisfying meal, you can pair the pumpkin coconut bisque with a house salad drizzled with pumpkin vinaigrette. You can even try making the bisque on your own with this recipe from the restaurant’s head chef, Ana Granucci.

Related: Best Pumpkin Treats In Tampa Bay

Pelagia Trattoria
4200 Jim Walter Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33607
(813) 313-3235
www.marriott.comPelagia Trattoria typically offers Italian cuisine, but that doesn’t mean chefs ignore seasonal flavors. The autumn-inspired shrimp and pumpkin risotto is one example, made with locally harvested pumpkins, fresh pasta and Gulf-caught shrimp. This scrumptious dish can be enjoyed along with the cream of acorn squash soup or with a traditional Italian house salad. If you’re in the mood for dessert, the pumpkin and Bailey’s cheesecake with caramel gelato is not to be missed.

Sandpearl Resort’s Caretta on the Gulf
500 Mandalay Ave.
Clearwater Beach, FL 33767
(727) 441-2425
www.sandpearl.comNestled in a world-class resort, Caretta on the Gulf is Clearwater’s only AAA Four-Diamond restaurant. Each dish is inspired by fresh, seasonal flavors and expertly hand-crafted. After enjoying a decadent meal of Hereford Ranch filet mignon, butternut squash pierogies or hand-rolled sushi, be sure to save room for dessert. The common pumpkin pie has no place here — expect a warm, spiced pumpkin souffle instead. Warm flavors of cinnamon and cloves mingle with sweeter flavors of pumpkin and molasses in this indulgent autumn dessert.

Related: Best Autumn Desserts In Tampa Bay

Amanda Mole has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and cooking since she was tall enough to reach the stove. She believes that food provides more than just vital nutrients: it is an irreplaceable part of countless cultural and social activities. As a Tampa Bay resident for the past 21 years, she is well acquainted with the incredibly diverse range of restaurants, bars, and food festivals that the area has to offer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.