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Bar review

Streetcar Charlie's Bar & Grille

Vitals: 1811 N 15th Street, Ybor City. (813) 248-1444. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.

The spot: Streetcar Charlie's can make you instantly feel like a star — the way you feel when you listen to classic jazz or watch a Hepburn movie — helpless, but in complete control. You're expected to look your best, or at least show you put some effort into your appearance. The first glance at the painted blue sky above the entry prepares you for the sunny atmosphere. The overwhelming yellow decor, accented by orchids with hints of red creates a happiness that says, "Come in and be seen." The erotic but classy paintings by local artists that hover on the walls emit a sense of power. The main dining area faces Eighth Avenue, and when the weather is nice, the doors open up to give the room an indoor/outdoor feel.

VIP Room: On June 11, Streetcar Charlie's will open a VIP room. The "White Room," as staff calls it, is long and narrow with a small bar in the corner. The whole room is saturated with a white Ikea-style d?cor. A hundred bucks a year gets you a card granting you special access, unique tapas and sushi, a special drink menu and live entertainment.

Crowd: Yes, Streetcar Charlie's is gay-friendly, but it's also all-friendly. Here, you are who you are. The afternoon crowd consists of young couples, singles, and the mid-working class. At night, it morphs into a louder, more upscale crowd. At 6 p.m., I saw an old lady in her seventies acting inebriated in a red polka-dotted dress with Gasparilla beads around her neck; she told me I was a "classy young lady, just need to pull (my) top down." As she left, the bartenders told me how sweet she is. Other bars would have asked her to leave.

Tunes: Small TVs inset above the bar and through the rooms show videos of the music that plays — Madonna, Rihanna, Janet Jackson. Tuesday nights, a musician walks the floors playing jazz with his saxophone, flute, or clarinet. Fridays are "groovy music dining" with a guest DJ.

Juice: Happy hour is 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., with half off all drinks. The place serves draft beers like Harp, Peroni, and Sam Adam's Summer Brew, but this place is known more for its exotic drinks like Pomegranate Mojitos or "Guava-rum somethings," which the guy next to me ordered. Then there's the Ybor Punch that's so strong it's not available during happy hour.

Grub: The menu spans from "healthy" apps to refreshing salads to tasty feta burgers to pasta. Their signature fried green beans and pecan-crusted chicken strips are a meal alone. The fried green beans were a first for me — crunchy, yet justifiably good for you; they tasted awesome dipped in a spicy raspberry sauce or creamy horseradish dip. On Tuesday there are 2-for-1 entr?e specials. Prices range from $7 to around $30.

Streetcar Charlie's Bar & Grille 05/29/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 9, 2008 11:16am]
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