Vitals: 2221 W Platt Street, Hyde Park. (813) 253-5900. Monday, 5 p.m. to between 2 and 3 a.m.; Tuesday, closed; Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to between 2 and 3 a.m.
The spot: SoHo Tavern sits on what I call the Corner of Doom. Many a bar and restaurant has come and gone here, some in as little as three months. But I hope SoHo Tavern is here to stay. It has everything other bars in Hyde Park lack — a low-key, tight-knit and friendly crowd. The atmosphere inside the narrow, Irish green laundromat-turned-tavern is fun and comfortable, and the staff is more than accommodating at both bars. That's right — SoHo Tavern has two medium-sized bars at adjacent corners in the room. As the night lingered on, the bar near the quaint outside patio grew louder by the drink. Flat-screen TVs scattered throughout the tavern aired sports, and in the center of the room, a slew of tables surrounded a huge flat-screen mounted on the wall. The green and dark wood paneling make for a cozy atmosphere, unlike some other high-profile bars in Hyde Park.
The crowd: For the most part it's an under-35 crowd, with a few oddballs scattered about — but, hey, these are the people who give a bar a bit of added flair. People dress attractively casual, with flip flops and jeans. It seemed like the crowd was more interested in having a good time than prowling for another on-the-market single. With bartenders in football jerseys, this place is almost a cliché of a spot where you'd expect to see a group of guys watching a game and tossing back a few brews.
Juice: Liquor, bottled beer and shots, oh my. Like most bars, SoHo Tavern offers just about any liquor needed to make a stiff drink. But when it comes to beer, you'll only find bottled brews on the menu, no draft. There's no happy hour either, but they do offer daily specials — $10 domestic buckets, and $5 Jager, grape, cherry, and orange shots. On my visit, I stuck with Captain and Coke concoction and it was quite tasty — not too strong, but strong enough.
Grub: This is where SoHo Tavern really stands apart from its neighboring bars. The food is awesome and the pizzas are to die for, whether you've been drinking or not. I asked the man behind the bar for his favorite pizza, saying that's what I'd order. About 15 minutes later, a Meat Lovers with pepperoni, Italian sausage and meatballs was placed in front of us and devoured in about eight minutes. I am not a fan of meat pizza, but this one changed my mind. The rest of the menu ranges from normal bar grub to chicken Parmesan, fish sandwiches, burgers, wraps and lasagna.