If you’re not watching NCAA basketball tournament in the comfort of your own sanctuary, then chances are you’re venturing out to a sports bar. And with so many sporty establishments in the Tampa Bay area, the criteria of what one is looking for can vary when selecting a place for extensive hoops-watching. But there are two standards that all fans can agree upon: plenty of high-definition TVs and decent service. Here’s where you should consider parking yourself during the month-long tourney.
Brick House Tavern & Tap
1102 N. Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL 33607
If comfortable seating was the sole criteria one had in choosing which sports joint to plop themselves down at, this spot may be the best in the area. With a recliner section, spacious booths, padded table-top seating and loaded indoor bar, you won’t have to worry about a sore back-side after logging extensive tourney-watching hours. Another unique feature is the ability to order a personalized beer-bong for the table, and therefore, avoid pestering the easy-on-the-eyes female staff that is rushing around to snag your eats. And of course, there are plenty of state-of-the-art flat-screens positioned all over to accommodate any section you find yourself in.
Probably one of the Bay’s best-kept secrets is just over the Howard-Franklin Bridge. This extension of Courtside Bar & Grille has carved out a nice little spot as a fully equipped, modern sports dive. And this place is known for running specials during all the major sporting events. Plus, Back Bar is not afraid to break out the grill and cook up the standard tailgate grub. It’s by no means a monster venue, but if one doesn’t want a madhouse atmosphere, this is a nice alternative.
222 S. Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL 33609
A staple of the Tampa community, this old girl is always reliable. With about 30 TVs, all in HD (high-definition), you can’t go wrong with this full-service sports saloon. The food is solid, the service is prompt and the pricing fits most budgets. And there’s really not a bad seat in the noisy house. The restaurant also takes care of all your party woes. If you don’t think you can cook for all the people coming over for your party, just call up Press Box to cater your event. All stress is removed, as your personal helpers will make the party really special.
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107 S. Franklin St.
Tampa, FL 33602
This Tampa favorite always draws a crowd; because just about everything this historic downtown joint encompasses is primarily awesome. Finding a seat can become a chore at times, but that’s due to the fact that the tweaked bar food is scrumptious (decent amount of unique apps and sandwiches), and there’s always an HD-TV playing your respective game just a few feet away. The trick (no pun intended) is to arrive at least an hour before tip-off and prepare yourself for mug-clanging fun with the other patrons.
Lee Roy Selmon’s
2424 Tyrone Blvd.
St. Petersburg, FL 33710
Consider this a sports bar with a touch of class. Unless you set up camp at the bar, chances are you will end up in one of the many booths that are usually facing a television screen. Options for food increase at this spot, for it is probably more appropriate to call this a sports restaurant rather than a bar. And since the majority of people in Tampa complain about the lack of places with decent wings, because you always need good chicken wings when watching hoops, this is the place to remedy that conundrum.
Joe Belcastro is an established journalist based in Tampa, Florida. His vast coverage of the local, national, & international scene has led his work to appear all over the world in respected print and online publications. After making a name for himself in the realm of film criticism, his candid approach & style to reporting has enabled him to cover such beats as music and nightlife, all while conducting interviews with people who have way more money than him. His work can be found at Examiner.com.