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Best dive bars to visit in Tampa Bay

The Tiny Tap isn't much to look at from the outside. But that's sorta the point.

Times files

The Tiny Tap isn't much to look at from the outside. But that's sorta the point.

Nothing against the ultra-trendy bars in Ybor City and the Westshore district, but sometimes a bar should just be, you know, a bar. Sometimes you just want to drink, smoke and be lonely. Here's a look at the best dive bars in Tampa Bay (that we were brave enough to enter). — tbt* files


Corner Club: What used to be a dive for crusty old drunks has become a Cheers for yuppie punks — and just about everyone else in the Seminole Heights-Sulphur Springs 'hoods. Serving bottled beer and cheapo-wine only, Corner Club enables you to sit at the bar and converse with people from all walks of life. It's safer than you'd think thanks to security cameras perched outside. Upgrades include a flatscreen TV, digital jukebox, imports and better karaoke nights. Old touches remain — like the cheap pool table, fake wood paneling and that badass mirror portrait of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. 1502 E Sligh Ave., Tampa. (813) 239-9998.

The Green Parrot: Not to be confused with the Green Iguana, this dive bar has been around for a while and was recently renovated — it makes us wonder what it was like before the renovation. The Green Parrot is a watering hole for the Carrollwood working class. Yes, there's food — the wings in particular — but we were hesitant to eat here. People come for the stiff drinks and Happy Hour. Wear what you want and expect to be left alone with those you're with — people keep to themselves here. 11759 N Dale Mabry Highway, Carrollwood. (813) 962-2954.

The Hub: It didn't take much to come up with the name for The Hub, and rightfully so. The bar is, plain and simple, a hub for shooting back a few stiff ones. It's the opposite of trendy, so leave your airs at the door. Don't be surprised to see a downtown business worker, a college student and a homeless person sitting side by side at the bar. The jukebox, with timeless artists of al genres, is a local favorite. 719 N Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 229-1553.

Long Bar Pub & Grill: Dimly lit, smoky and loud pretty much sums up this dive. It's a mixed group of locals who convene to smoke cigarettes and nosh on Greek food, calamari and excellent sandwiches. Envision Cheers, but 20 years later, and you've got the Long Bar. 5929 Memorial Highway, Tampa. (813) 890-9059.

The Pegasus Lounge: This wood-paneled dive looks like a biker bar, but it's got a decidedly indie-punk feel. Regulars run the gamut from freshly shampooed college students to punk rockers covered in tattoos. Many are cut of a macho, working-class ethic. Oh, and they have "pornaoke" every Wednesday night. That's karaoke with a porn movie playing on the video screen behind you. We've seen it. It ain't pretty. 10008 N 30th St., Tampa. (813) 971-1679,

Tiny Tap Tavern: It touts itself as Tampa's best and oldest dive bar and few would dispute it. Around since the 1930s, the Tiny Tap Tavern reeks of history — and cigarette smoke. During the day, as early as 9 a.m., regulars roll in for cheap beer and familiar company. Cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon sell for $1.75 apiece. A game of pool costs a quarter. The younger crowd takes over at night. Don't be surprised to see guys in suits and gals in cocktail dresses pop in after dinner at Sidebern's across the street. Eventually, everyone ends up at the Tiny Tap. 2105 W Morrison Ave., Tampa. (813) 254-4895.

Whiskey Willy's: On Friday and Saturday nights, this place is rockin' with local bands, amps cranked up all the way. This old-school rock crowd likes to party and it wouldn't be out of the ordinary to see a few Harleys in the parking lot. American flags and Bud signs scream U-S-of-A pride and the place a bit smoky inside, so expect to stink when you leave. The lunch and dinner menu is straight-up bar food — chicken fingers and burgers with fries. Pool tables and darts offer alternative entertainment and there's plenty of room to sit or dance. 1624 N Dale Mabry Highway, Lutz. (813) 949-6330,


Carlie's Lounge: Carlie's has been around for a while, and it shows — walking in the door is like walking into a time warp that takes you to the late '70s. Rockers, bikers, regulars who look straight out of The Devil's Rejects — they're all here. But the place is friendlier than you'd expect, and the service is extremely attentive and fast. And the live music stage is enough to make even the most junior rocker feel like Eddie Van Halen. 7020 49th St., Pinellas Park. (727) 527-5214,

Dave's Aqua Lounge: This kitschy but venerable late-night institution near Derby Lane is low-key and friendly, and has been hosting gigs by local musicians for decades. 10820 Gandy Blvd., St. Petersburg. (727) 576-1091,

The Emerald: One of St. Pete's most famous dive bars. If cool up-and-coming local bands and cheap beer are your thing, then the Emerald is the place to be. During the day, it caters more to the older veterans, but come in after 7 p.m. and the place will be full of amateur drinkers. Fridays and Saturdays are when bands rock so be prepared to pay a cover then. 550 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 898-6054,

Mahuffer's Bar: Mahuffer's looks, smells and sounds like it belongs in a movie. The ceilings are covered with fishing net and multicolored buoys hang from it, as well as rusty ice skates, bras and dollar bills. Car bench seats line the walls with a fire pit in the center of the room. The walls are covered — top to bottom — with pictures from the '70s and beyond. An old, dusty jukebox crackles with blues, rock and just some damn good music. Bottom line: You've got to check this place out for yourself. 19201 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores. (727) 596-0226,

Mastry's: Considered by many to be the ultimate dive, Mastry's is cheap and usually packed, but the beer is cold and the liquor is hard. No special nights or bands, but that's part of Mastry's charm — if you're going, you don't want to hear a local band. Mastry's is a place to go to get drunk. 233 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 822-3070.

Shipwreck Bar: The shipwreck is a classic end-of-the-night dive, and beer — cheap, cold and American — is the mandate. The dim, shanty-like atmosphere boasts kitschy decor in the way of wicker-covered laps, pylon fixtures, plastic fish, lighthouse sculptures and netting. Plus there are board games, like Scrabble! 674 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach. (727) 385-6468,

Tavern at Bayboro: A mature college kid's dream, it's by the water but cozy, like a musty tavern should be. Plus it's got good beer, and it's wireless. Not to be missed. 121 Seventh Ave. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 821-1418,

Best dive bars to visit in Tampa Bay 12/13/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 6, 2010 11:06am]
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