Tony Carbone (left) with Tristan Snapp. (All of the photos supplied by Jay Snapp).

New Tampa has a lot of really good restaurants, but not many that specialize in breakfast and lunch and even fewer with as great a story to tell as Tristans Amazing Bites, the local food truck that is “Changing How the World See Down Syndrome, One Amazing Bite at a Time.”

Tristans Amazing Bites, which is based next to the Mobil gas station and Tampa Fire Rescue Station No. 22 on Cross Creek Blvd. every Tuesday-Saturday, 6:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., does more than just serve great food. It also helps tell the story of 26-year-old Tristan Snapp, who has not let being born with Down Syndrome stop him from living his dream of being the “front man” for his own food truck.

Tristan’s father and mother, Jay and Vickie Snapp, weren’t sure he was serious when Tristan first said he wanted to own a food truck. But, while his father admittedly loves to cook and Tristan likes working with people, Jay says that if Tristan showed he was serious about it, he and Vickie would support Tristan’s dream any way they could.

Tristan told his dad, a police officer with CSX Corp. (which is a leading supplier of rail-based freight transportation in North America), that his dad could be the cook and he could handle taking the orders and the cash register and at least help with the food.

Prime rib, which is available for special events.

“He seasons the meat, mixes the brownies and prepares the pudding cups,” Jay says.

Tristan received some of his early training at the Pro Kitchen Hub, a shared-use commercial kitchen in South Tampa that is located next door to Guthrie’s Chicken Fingers and provides training for those interested in starting a food service business. 

Following some training, Jay says Tristan started providing brownie bites and pudding cups for sale at the Bakery Box, a pop-up extension of the Pro Kitchen Hub with a service window next to Guthrie’s. In addition to working on his baking, Jay says, “that’s where Tristan learned how to use a POS (point of sale) system. He kept bringing up the food truck idea to us and we could tell he was definitely serious about starting one of his own.” 

That was back in 2020, when all Tristan had was an idea and the name Tristans Amazing Bites. He went to a crowdsource website where people compete to design your logo and Jay says that Tristan received “about 75 entries. He picked the one he liked best, his brother Tim designed his website and, in 2021, the new logo was put on a food truck and Trisans Amazing Bites was born.”

Jay says he had to earn his Food Manager’s certification, a four-hour class that Tristan attended with him. In addition to the flattop grill inside the truck, Jay says, “We got a large rectec pellet grill and both Tristan and I earned diplomas from the rectec Academy following an intensive three-day course in Augusta, GA, led by actual TV pitmasters.

Tristan and Jay Snapp and Tristan got to meet Tim Tebow at a Special Olympics event. 

“Tristan likes to brag that even though we both graduated, he got the MVP award,’ Jay says. “We’ve done prime rib, BBQ ribs and more on the rectec. We can cater pretty large events with it.”

Jay says that he and Tristan originally only brought the truck to special events because, “since I have a full-time job that requires me to travel, so there was no way I could stay on a regular schedule with the truck.”

Before settling in to their current schedule on Cross Creek Blvd., Tristan and Jay brought the food truck to events like the annual fund raiser for Gigi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Center on W. Hillsborough Ave., a fund raiser at Lutz Elementary (which caters to special needs children; Jay says, “We catered 1,000 brownie bites for them”) and a school in Brandon that wanted to cater a Teacher Appreciation luncheon.” The truck also recently provided a prime rib dinner at the Live Oak Preserve clubhouse. 

Tristan, who also works at the Publix in Wiregrass Ranch, graduated from the two-year “Stages” program at USF, where students learn both the school at HART transit systems. His Special Olympics softball team won a bronze medal at last year’s USA Nationals.

So, How About The Food?

Jay also says that he wouldn’t have agreed to a daily schedule for the truck if he didn’t have someone else who could do the cooking every day. So, when Tony Carbone, the former owner of the Wolf’s Den diner restaurant in Wesley Chapel that closed shortly after things reopened after the pandemic, said he wanted to get back into cooking for people, Jay knew he had found the right guy.

“I was a customer of Wolf’s Den,” Jay says. “And Tony had done just the kind of food we wanted to do.”

And, Tristan was sold on Tony, too. “He told me that although I’m still OK at it, Tony is now the Number One cook and I’m down to his Number Two.” 

The Breakfast Burger.
Try a delicious freshly made omelet and home fries from Tristans Amazing Bites on Cross Creek Blvd.

For breakfast, which is served anytime the truck is open, I’ve already enjoyed the fried egg & bacon (or sausage) Breakfast Sandwich and the breakfast burger. I’ve yet to try the omelet breakfast platter or biscuits and gravy, but Jimmy Gouveia, the co-owner of the nearby Grill at Morris Bridge, was picking up his order during my last visit. “I have to get my biscuits & gravy at least once every week,” Jimmy said. “It’s just so good.” The home fries (a huge order for just $4) are served with savory grilled onions and peppers.

There’s also a breakfast bowl, a meat lovers or pulled pork omelet on Cuban bread, a Rocco Jersey pork roll and even a breakfast wrap.

“What’s for lunch,” you ask? If you love BBQ pulled pork, try Tristans Amazing “Big Bite” Burger, with pulled pork and bacon on a delicious burger topped with sweet BBQ sauce. I also enjoyed Tristans Amazing Cheese Steak and the pressed Cuban sandwich.

Other options include regular or bacon cheeseburgers, BLTs on sub or Cuban bread, grilled chicken Philly subs and sandwiches and chicken or beef quesadillas.

And for dessert, yes, I also can vouch for Tristan’s brownie bites, although I’ve yet to try his pudding cups — but I’ve heard some of his regulars rave about them.

“The bottom line to me,” Jay says, “is recognizing that everyone has their own talents and abilities, and their own passions, and I am happy to support Tristan’s. If we can make the food truck work, maybe I’ll be able to retire (from CSX) early because I’d really like to be able to do something where Tristan and I can continue to work together. That’s my main goal.”

Tristans Amazing Bites is located at 10865 Cross Creek Blvd. For more information, visit or see the ad on pg. 40. Event catering also is available. The truck also is on Instagram and Facebook, so send a message if you have a special order.

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