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SEC fans, take note: These are downtown Tampa's best bars

Say this about SEC sports fans: They know how to party. Since the men's basketball tournament tipped off Thursday at the St. Pete Times Forum, some of the country's most passionate college sports fans in the are on the prowl around downtown Tampa all weekend. Here are 10 worthy bars within dribbling distance of the Forum where fans can sniff out some Jim Beam (go Wildcats!) or Jack Daniels (go Vols!), or just a pint of something cold.

1. Splitsville: Lots of bowling alleys have snazzy vibes. Channelside's Splittsville is all upscale razzle-dazzle, with great food and drinks to go with your strikes and spares. 615 Channelside Drive. (813) 514-2695.

2. Hattrick's: This hockey bar holds its own even when the Lightning aren't in season. Tabletop shuffleboard and sweet potato fries go a long way in our books. 107 S Franklin St. (813) 225-4288.

3. Kelly's Pub: On any given night at this Scottish-themed pub, you're likely to find some of Tampa Bay's top DJs and musicians. Good draft beer selection, too. 206 N Morgan St., Tampa. (813) 228-0870.

4. AJA: This so-cool-it's-haute nightclub (pronounced "Asia") hosted several swanky celebrity Super Bowl parties. In the Towers of Channelside, 290 S Meridian Ave. (813) 223-5758.

5. Jackson's Bistro: This sushi spot is attached to the Westin Harbour Island, and converts from a waterfront restaurant by day into one of Tampa Bay's coolest nightclubs after dark. 601 S Harbour Island Blvd. (813) 277-0112.

6. Stump's Supper Club: Hearty Southern fare in retro chic environs. Hey, if your team lost, you'll be looking for something to do, right? 615 Channelside Drive. (813) 226-2261.

7. Champions/Il Terrazzo/Lobby Bar: The Tampa Marriott Waterside's three bars and restaurants all offer outdoor seating and views of Garrison Channel. A nice spot close just a hop and a skip from the Forum. 700 S Florida Ave. (813) 221-4900.

8. Four Green Fields: It's about a half-mile walk from the Forum. This Irish pub was voted one of the 100 Best Places to Drink Beer in America by Imbibe magazine. 205 W Platt St. (813) 254-4444.

9. The Hut Bar and Grill: The Hut (formerly Newks Cafe) holds sway thanks to its tasty offering of Florida's most famous fish. "The Original Crunchy Grouper" sandwich ($10) is a superior slab of corn-flake-crisp-and-almond-rolled goodness on a bun. 514 Channelside Drive, Tampa; (813) 307-6395,

10. Gilligan's Hideaway: Come here for treats like the Malibu Coconut and Midori-made "Professor's Experiment" ($7). Need to soak up some of that alcohol? Go with the blue-cheese-covered B&B Burger ($7.79). 202 N Morgan St., Tampa; (813) 301-9050.

SEC fans, take note: These are downtown Tampa's best bars 03/12/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 13, 2009 10:36pm]
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