Guide: Top 8 Local Bars in Tampa

Drinking in Tampa is a mixed bag. Lots of bars close early and many overcharge for drinks that contain almost no alcohol or have downright terrible service. City officials and bar owners are also regularly working against each other. There was even an incident in 2013 where the city once tried to change the closing hours for bars to midnight?!

At the same time, Tampa is home to one of the largest United States Bartenders Guild chapters in the country and holds an excellent Repeal Party in December every year. Tampa has a booming craft beer industry and plenty of wine dives around town as well as liquor distilleries on the horizon.

Ybor City and South Tampa have been had their moments in the sunshine for nightlife and over time both have waned as Seminole Heights, Tampa Heights, and Downtown Tampa become the center of town. Only time will tell.

Here are my Top 8 Bars in Tampa. This is a personal list and you may not agree with my choices and that is okay.

#8 – Ybor City Wine Bar

#winetasting #ybor 🍷

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Ybor City Wine Bar is a great place to catch up with a friend or go on a date. The shop is quaint and all the bartenders I have encountered there have been friendly. You can sit inside or outside depending on the type of night you are looking for – both are enjoyable. The owner holds a wine class every Wednesday and has also expanded over into Seminole Heights. The wine selection is solid and I have enjoyed a few great evenings there.

1600 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 999-4966. http://www.yborcitywinebar.com/

 

#7 – First Chance, Last Chance Bar

The #emonight 2 year anniversary at @firstchancelastchance has been amazing

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Want a hipster dive bar? First Chance, Last Chance Bar in Ybor City is exactly that. If you’re spending $10 or less be sure to bring cash. Lots of shot specials and plenty of spirits. A nice outdoor courtyard with a DJ spinning regularly as well. Drinks prices are nice and cheap and the happy hour is great.

1707 N 16th St, Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 248-5555. https://www.firstchancelastchance.com/

#6 – Mr. Dunderbaks

My kind of pub!

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You like craft beer? What about German beer and food? Oktoberfest? Mr. Dunderbaks has an impressive beer list and now has installed their own brewery into the mix. Stepping into the restaurant makes you feel like you departed Tampa into a German pub. The best place to be during the World Cup. The food is pretty good too.

14929 Bruce B Downs Blvd, Tampa, FL 33613. (813) 977-4104. http://dunderbaks.ieasysite.com/

#5 –  C. 1949

Seminole Heights is the mecca of hipster bars and C. 1949 provides a huge list of craft beer to visitors for great prices  – many of them recently released. Events are held regularly including Taco Tuesday and a Monday night farmer’s market. The interior is modern and cool and the outside deck is perfect for autumn or winter weather. Live music is regularly put on as well.

6905 N Orleans Ave, Tampa, FL 33604. (813) 990-8883. http://c1949.com/

#4 – Lowry Parcade

Parcade Barcade 🎮✌🍷🍻

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Finally a place for nerds. Lowry Parcade fuses craft beer enthusiasts with video game nerds into one building. The outcome is a great local neighborhood bar in Seminole Heights that allows both crowds to indulge in their passions. We need more of this in Tampa.

1213 W Waters Ave, Tampa, FL 33604. (813) 915-9180. http://lowryparcade.com/

#3 – Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club

It was a #punchbowl #cocktail #speakeasy kind of #Monday. Win.

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When you’re talking high-quality cocktails, Ciro’s delivers an experience you will not forget. They regularly host cocktail dinners and any night there is an experience that will take you back to the 1920s. The drinks are delicious although quite pricey. It’s a perfect place to celebrate a special night with friends or a date.

2109 Bayshore Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606. (813) 251-0022. http://www.cirostampa.com/

#2 – Hotel Bar

Refined cocktails from hotels around the world. Hotel Bar has an elegant interior and the staff is excellent every time I visit. I only wish Hotel Bar had a larger location, but maybe that is one of the things to appreciate about it as well. Drink prices are what you would expect from a place called Hotel Bar. Not overly expensive and not cheap.

200 N. Tampa St, Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 533-2650. http://hotelbartampa.com/

#1 – Anise Global Gastrobar

Somewhere in Thyme 🖤 #love #gastropub #nightlife #love #cocktails

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The best in town. Anise Gastrobar has consistently remained the best place to drink in Tampa since it opened a few years back. The cocktail menu is constantly evolving with the building – they regularly hold events and interact with the industry around them. The space inside is beautiful and it is right across the street from Curtis Hixon Park. The prices have always been fair and the happy hour is excellent. Anise is the best place to drink in Tampa – hands down.

777 N Ashley Dr, Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 225-4272. https://www.aniseglobal.com/


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Hotel Bar now serving Downtown Tampa

Downtown Tampa has a new spot now open called Hotel Bar. The bar is a classy establishment that serves libations created by famous hotels around the world and also gourmet food.

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During my visit I tried the Hotel Nacional made with cana brava, giffard peche, pineapple, and lime. The cocktail comes from Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana, Cuba. You’ll find other cocktails on the menu from countries including England, Japan, France and a nice selection from New Orleans.

The food menu includes lamb tartare, wagyu ragu, roasted lemon chicken, and prime rib as well as finger food such as deviled eggs and pita chips with various dips. Late night diners can enjoy a late night fare menu.

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The bar and restaurants fits in perfectly with the growing community around Downtown and offers a new spot to go out for a group outing or drinks after work. The ownership comes from Fly Bar & Restaurant who has been serving Downtown Tampa for years.

I am looking forward to big things to come from Hotel Bar and all of Downtown Tampa as our city keeps growing.

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Photos via Hotel Bar instagram

Name: Hotel Bar

Address: 200 N. TAMPA STREET, TAMPA FL 33602

Phone: (813) 533-2650

Hours: Open daily / 4PM-3AM

Website: http://hotelbartampa.com/

The Rack (Hyde Park)

The Rack has long been one of my favorite spots to grab some sushi and chill. The food is consistently good, the bartenders are chill, and there is a crowd there from evening to close. Although they have billiards there, I have never played there. My last visit there was on a Tuesday night. It was freezing cold outside and the inside was at max capacity so I decided to sit outside and have a drink and some food.

I have never tried sake before so I decided to try their Gekkeikan small sake ($6). The sake was pretty bitter, but packed a punch. Hardcore drinkers might like this, but someone with an aversion to bad tasting liquor like myself would probably never have that again after a first try. Service outside was spotty, but still not bad. I had a California Roll ($5.95), which includes crab stick, avocado, and cucumber…though I asked for the cucumber to be removed because I feel cucumber detracts from the taste of sushi.

The California Roll was pretty disappointing.  The crab was good and helped kill that sake taste in my mouth, but as you can see they barely gave me any avocado once the cucumber was removed. Maybe a sprinkle? For the price of almost $6, a California Roll should have plenty avocado and masago on it, when places like Samurai Japanese Restaurant only charge 3 or 4 dollars for that same roll with plenty of ingredients. Being cheap with these toppings is really cutting corners.

However, The Rack does have some quality special rolls such as their extremely popular Volcano Roll (only $5 each on Wednesdays) and a number of other quality rolls I regularly have there. I just wouldn’t order from their regular rolls in the future. I have also tried their wings and American food and it’s usually great. The Rack also has started an unlimited menu from 7-9PM in Hyde Park and 9-11PM in Brandon which includes appetizers, sushi, and drinks (really want to try this out). Their unlimited menu has started a trend in South Tampa and now Koto Japanese Restaurant and Cheap are offering the same thing. Once I finished my California Roll I closed my bill outside and went inside to the warm bar.

The bartender inside was really friendly and personable. She took good care of me and my time inside was much more enjoyable and made up for my time spent outside. It was loud and busy inside, but I’m young so I like that kind of atmosphere. They have free Wi-Fi inside as well, which is a plus. The shots and drinks were good and inexpensive. I left The Rack happy.

The Rack on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: The Rack

Cuisine: Sushi, American

Address: 1809 W Platt St. Tampa, FL 33606

Neighborhood: Hyde Park

Phone Number: (813) 250-1595

Website: http://www.hittherack.com/

Timpano Italian Chophouse

Timpano Italian Chophouse is a restaurant and bar located across the street from CineBistro in Old Hyde Park. The exterior seems fancy and upscale and that wouldn’t be an incorrect way to describe Timpano. Inside the place is lit well, most of the people there are dressed up. My visit was during evening hours and the restaurant was booming with both a dinner crowd and a crowd surrounding their Frank Sinatra Bar.

There was live music playing the night I visited, the tunes were pleasant, but just a backdrop to the chatty conversations in the restaurant. The bartender that took care of us was friendly and quick to get us our drinks. He recommended me some drinks from their Martini menu and I decided to try their Flirtini, quite tasteful for someone like me who hates bitter drinks. There was a crowd of older women there, Tuesday nights are ladies night so they were probably just appeared to stop by while making their way around town.

My party and I ordered their BBQ Short Rib Flatbread Pizza and it was fantastic. The mushrooms and meat were great and the flatbread was appetizing and crunchy. What tasted like olive oil was used as a sauce on top and went well with the pizza. It was hard to not eat it all in a few bites. They have a couple other flatbreads that I would like to try in the future as well as their raw bar.

Overall, service and food at the Timpano Italian Chophouse was pretty good. Its a great place to sit at the bar and have a bite to eat and drink in an atmosphere that isn’t rowdy, but mature and reserved.

Timpano Chophouse and Martini Bar on Urbanspoon
Restaurant Name: Timpano Italian Chophouse
Cuisine: Italian
Address: 1610 W Swann Ave. Tampa, FL 33606
Neighborhood: Hyde Park
Phone Number: (813) 254-5870
Website: http://www.timpanochophouse.net/