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18 Best Bars in Tampa you Should Visit from a Local

Looking for the best bars in Tampa?

Tampa Bay, Florida is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.  The neighborhoods are all eclectic and have their own unique charm.

My good friend Kimberley Carrington has been a long-time resident and in the bar and restaurant industry for decades.  She is in the know where to go.  With the help of other friends and neighbors along the way, I have compiled a list of the 18 Best Bars in Tampa Bay. I proudly present – The Kimberly Carrington and Friends Countdown. You will definitely want to check out where the locals go.    

18 Best Bars in Tampa you Should Visit (As Recommended by a Local)

1. The Hub – 719 N Franklin St 

One of the oldest bars in Tampa. It may hold the oldest package liquor license. The Hub opened in 1949 at the 701 N Florida Ave location and has been a success ever since. It has had a few incarnations over the years, until It moved to its present spot at 719 N Franklin St.

This is the quintessential dive bar location, to get your drink on, check out the bathroom graffiti, play some foosball with my friend Kimmy, and meet every walk of life.

I have personally been possessed by spirits a time or two while drinking a Mia Tia. It leads to revelations over many libations. This place is one of liberation. An icon of the Tampa scene. “The Hub, as always 100 %”- Kris Hawkins

The Hub - 719 N Franklin St

The Hub/ Facebook

2. New World Brewery – 810 E Skagway Ave

A personal favorite of this author. The pizza is thin and gourmet. The bar is well stocked and has a great selection of craft beers. This bar and restaurant was a well-known Ybor favorite for years. It started in 1995 and spent 22 years at its first location.

It took a hiatus and came back better than ever in 2020 at its current spot in another historic neighborhood Sulphur Springs. You have to come to see the hand-painted floors with a world map. Kimberly Carrington’s name is immortalized on the floor along with her sisters.

The neighborhood goes on the regular because it’s down the street from us. It has fabulous food. It has great musicians and you can see many of our friends playing on the patio stage.   

New World Brewery

New World Brewery/ Facebook

3. Bula Kavananda Kava Bar & Coffee House – 5803 N Florida Ave 

My friend Jaia Wise turned me on to this little gem of a place. When my friends suggested there are all different types of bars. For those who don’t want or need an alcoholic beverage Bula is the place.

Do you want to get away from the typical bar scene? Come meet up with friends or bring your laptop. You’ll find that Bula offers an alcohol-free environment in a relaxing community oriented setting! It’s great alternative for those who are looking forward more than just drinking beer all day long.

4. Shuffle – 2612 N Tampa St 

Shuffle hosts The Heights Shuffleboard Society. It’s Tampa’s only indoor shuffleboard bar.  It boasts four indoor shuffleboard courts, a kitchen serving snack bar-style food, a bar serving lager, wine, alcohol, and six beer taps on rotation.

Come listen to live music weekly on the outside stage. The league nights, happier hours, and markets make Shuffle one of a kind.  Danielle O’Connor the owner makes sure her brainchild is running smoothly.  You gotta try a Zodiac Vodka Mule on draft and a house-batched Margarita on draft. Both mixed in the house. It will help you wash down a Spaghetti Sammie.

Thomas Leber says “Gotta throw my hat in for Shuffle! Great entertainment, music, bar staff & food. What more do ya want in a neighborhood one-stop-shop!?”

Shuffle

Shuffle/ Facebook

5. The Independent – 5016 N Florida Ave

My friend Rachael Matthews raves about this location!  “The independent has equal meat and vegetarian options, great beer, great music, and the best staff.”  I have taken a few lunch meetings there.

Conveniently located, this place has indoor-outdoor seating. They are proudly tv free. Don’t expect to catch a game here.   They have been a staple in the craft beer scene since 2009.  They also have a selection of wines from around the world.

The staff is knowledgeable and loves to educate newcomers.  There is something to do daily. Sunday live music series, Monday Indie Chess Society, Wednesday is the Indie Running Club & Wino Wednesday.  They also host a monthly beer education series.

The cafe’s food is simple and fresh offers plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. 

The Independent

The Independent/ Facebook

6. Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe – 5119 N Nebraska Ave

Ella’s southern comfort food is elevated to the next level. The libations are top-notch!  Ella’s premier bar incorporates craft and barrel-aged mixed drinks, and an assortment of 100 or more rare and small-batch whiskeys, It also has locally sourced brews and a broad wine list.

On Soul Food Sundays, Ellas flaunts an award-winning Bloody Ella (garnished with a smoked BBQ rib), goliath mimosas, and breakfast of champion shots worth the headache tomorrow. Soul food Sunday includes a Kansas City-style BBQ Brunch and live music is always happening since 2009.  This is another Seminole Heights Staple. The place is filled with art and sculptures.

Ella’s assortment of art has been organized over numerous years by proprietor Melissa Deming. Her enthusiasm and love for outsider art and found objects create a great visual stimulus while enjoying your unique eating experience. Many of the items are for sale and commissioned space is available. My friend Brandy Novak says “I prefer going to Ellas for the elevated food along with the good local music.” 

Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe

Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe/ Facebook

7. The Lowry Parcade – 213 W Waters Ave

This gem opened in 2016 and has kept going strong ever since it boasts to be Tampa’s first arcade and craft beer bar.

It has a rotation of craft beer that will make your head spin while you play all the beloved games of your childhood. Test your reflexes on the pinball machines. Battle your buddies for the top score on Galaga, Ms. Pac-Man, or Donkey Kong.

There is even skee- ball! A new food truck will round out your night if you’re hungry after all the excitement! My friend Jack Novak gives this place 2 thumbs up. ” Go for the beer, stay for the balls!”

The Lowry Parcade

The Lowry Parcade/ Facebook

8. The Corner Club – 1502 E Sligh Ave

The Corner Club, which was built in 1945, was originally a grocery store. It has been a local blue-collar dive bar next to TECO until it was sold and revamped in 2020.

A new life has taken over the old space.  It keeps its roots and original architecture with a brand new menu and beer, wine, and cocktails.  Come try their breakfast and lovely coffee menu. There are many mocktails and other drinks, like Mother Kombucha and herbal teas.

Music and events are always happening.  Vegetarian options as well as meat lover favorites for everyone in the group.  It’s a local hang out and the backyard patio is a nice outdoor space.  The indoor deco lends nods to the past.  Check out this little historic neighborhood spot right next to Sulphur Springs.  

The Corner Club

The Corner Club/ Facebook

9.Front Porch & Bart’s Tavern – 5924 N Florida Ave

Belly up to the outdoor Tiki Bar at a family business started in 2002 and perhaps the most seasoned restaurant in Seminole Heights. Situated in an 1898 Victorian House, they have inside seating, and outside seating on the patio and ground floor.

You will find Bart’s Tavern highlighting live music each weekend. If you have a good dog they are permitted external in the yard and down the stairs at Bart’s Tavern. This means you! Happy Hour Monday – Saturday  4-7 pm. Hospitality Monday gets half-price discounted drinks and food with ID.  Early Bird Specials for Dinner along with Daily Specials.

The meatloaf is not to be missed.  This is another local hot spot where you will meet all kinds of people having a mixed drink listening to live music or having an early morning breakfast shot and coffee martini.

Front Porch & Bart's Tavern

Front Porch & Bart’s Tavern/ Facebook

10. Skippers Smokehouse – 910 Skipper Rd 

You must not be from around here if you haven’t been to Skippers. One of the most Floricana concert venues in the United States, vIts Keywest vibe and swamp flavors make this s great night out.  The “Skipperdome”, is a backyard concert area, operating since the 1980’s that lies below  stunning hundred-year-old live oaks.

It closed for renovations during covid but it’s back and better than ever.  Skippers has been featured on television networks like the Travel Channel, Golf Channel, and CBS Sports.

Thursday Nights are Uncle John’s Band. Since 1998 UJB has performed Thursday nights at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa. This is a deadhead scene like no other. 

Skippers Smokehouse

Skippers Smokehouse/ Facebook

11. Tiny Tap – 2105 W Morrison Ave

A tiny gas station in the 1930s thru the 1940s became a tavern in 1951 and continues to serve beer and wine and a good time seven days a week.  It’s the kind of place where you can feel the authentic dive bar feel.  It’s always been a small place with people of big personalities packed in tightly.

Over 70 years of beer and wine have taken their time and the floors are a mess at best. The bathroom holds a certain charm and smell.

Bring cash and your quarters for the smoke and dust-filled bar has darts and pool tables.  This is as old school as a tavern in Tampa gets.  Seek it out and enjoy the blast from the past.  

Tiny Tap

Tiny Tap/ Facebook

12. Anchor Bar Downtown & Davis Island -514 N Franklin St, & 304 E. Davis Blvd 

The Anchor location was started in 2009 on the Island and has been a staple ever since.  The bar food is hot and delicious and the flatbread pizzas are as delicious as the burgers.  This is the best place to stop after a long day out sailing off of Davis Island.

We would stop in for a cold one and a bite before we drive off the island. The fish and chips are homemade and fresh.  Seems the perfect food for a seaworthy bar.  You can always get a stiff drink and have a good time at either one of the locations. 

Anchor Bar Downtown

Anchor Bar Downtown/ Facebook

13. Pegasus Lounge & Nightclub -14811 N Florida Ave

Pegasus Nightclub has happy hour from 11 am-7 pm every day!  The liquor store adjacent to the club opens at 11 am daily.  Live music in the evenings and bottle service is available.

Open Jam/ Mic night, Djing, Karaoke, and live music weekly. For those who want to spice up your Wednesday 10 pm -3 am Pornaoke. Yep, that’s right.  Vintage Porn will be played in the background on a big screen as you karaoke your favorite tunes. This is perfect for a first date.

You can really get to know someone by their song choices and their reaction to the on-screen visuals.  They hold several awards for being one of the best nightclubs in the country.  Get the VIP experience, and reserve a table. My friend Brad Freshour warns “Eyes on the singer, please!”

Pegasus Lounge

Pegasus Lounge/ Facebook

14. Hooch and Hive – 1001 Cass St

This is a happening place. Interestingly it was started by local beekeepers who wanted to have a positive impact on Tampa’s creative scene.

This bar is in the West Riverfront neighborhood in Tampa. I have been there a few times for group parties.  It’s a music center at night and a workspace during the day.  The food and cocktails are on point. Try the duck and waffles.

The beer menu is constantly rotating like in most good bars and the cocktails are unique handcrafted delights.  It’s the Bee’s Knees and you will want to check out the scene of artists and hipsters. The focus of the passions of the city’s subcultures and the bar is influenced by the forward thinking creatives in the area.

Hooch and Hive

Hooch and Hive/ Facebook

15. Crow Bar – 1812 N 17th St, Tampa

The Crow’s Nest Beer Garden is a place where you can enjoy live music and special events nearly every day. The venue has several weekly programs including The Beer Garden Sessions, which showcase local musicians on Sundays from September through November.

This is a place where you can come and experience the smells, sounds & colors of our local culture. You’ll also get an up-close look at how artists from all over paint or spray their work as well as interact with them live on stage! Plus there will be food popups every week–something new each time.

Crow Bar

Crow Bar/ Facebook

16. Pix Liquors And Lounge -10005 N Florida Ave 

Open 365 days a year, PIX is your friendly neighborhood bar serving Tampa for over 40 years. The full liquor bar is open from 9 am – to 3 am.

As you arrive their vintage sign lets you know you’re at one of the oldest bars around. Monday night is Bingo Night so grab your daubers!  The play starts at 9 pm and bottle prizes are happening. This is a great place to play pool and has hand-crafted no-frills but thrills cocktails with your local friends.

This is a staple in the area and Robyn Nagel believes in Pix prices. ” They have the cheapest shots in town, I’m sure of it!”  This pool shark would know where the tables and drinks are the best. This is part of the Liquor Depot Chain in Tampa.  Take a look at their booze selections.

17. The Castle – 2004 N 16th St 

The Castle started in 1992 and has been through several changes through the years. Only Open on Friday and Saturday 10:30 – 3 am.

It’s one of Tampa’s longest-running spots. Its nightclub atmosphere is unique and the best place to dance.  Here you can let go and let it all hang out. Don’t miss Midnight Mass every Friday or Communion after Dark every Saturday.  This is where the people watching really happens.

The Goth/ Industrial scene is alive and well here. The Endless Vampire Ball is an event of the season.  The facility has 5 different themed sections and is always ready to host a private party: The Saloon, The Main Hall, The Courtyard, Tower, and Dungeon. Take your pick and get there quickly.

The dress code is whatever you desire to wear, My neighbor  Shellbell remembers back in the old Ybor days. She gave us this tidbit  “When The Castle first started, My Art Gallery was called the Nunnery. It’s where the Dungeon is now.” Oh, how times have changed! 

The Castle

The Castle/ Facebook

18. JT’s Roadhouse Bar – 13609 N Florida Ave 

The next time you’re looking for a good game of pool, stop in at this bar. They have everything from breakfast to dinner and will serve whatever food joint with the best drinks around! Not only that but they also offer some amazing wings or cheesesteak as well so if it’s been awhile since your last visit then now would be quite pleased by all those things on tap !!!

I frequent this juke joint with one of my favorite long-time pool players Robyn Nagel. Buckets of beer are the best with friends.  “JT’s Roadhouse has excellent service, good food, and good drinks. It’s clean and they do lots of benefits for people.”

JT’s Roadhouse Bar

JT’s Roadhouse Bar/ Facebook

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