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A quick and dirty visitor's guide to Tampa's hotspot, Ybor City

Visitors to Tampa inevitably will hear that the city's best entertainment strip is in Ybor City, a historic district just northwest of downtown. To help you make the most of your visit, we've compiled this guide that hits the highs of the party district. — Anne Glover

Ybor by day

This isn't an early-morning spot unless you want to hit the Saturday market or a coffee shop, such as Tre Amici at the Bunker. Grand dame of the vintage clothing stores is La France, which was a pioneer in Ybor's renaissance back in the early '80s. Down the street are Revolve Clothing Exchange and Jezabelle & Her Wandering Gypsies. If you're looking for gifts or jewelry, the smallish Mermaid's Slipper has an artful collection. Centro Ybor features Urban Outfitters and Victoria's Secret as its major shops. You can also hit the movies or get your gaming fix at GameWorks. Stop in at one of the cigar shops/bars along the way, such as El Sol, King Corona, La Herencia and Metropolitan Cigars.

Welcome to GaYbor

A gay-friendly district has cropped up along the western edge of Ybor, anchored by the always festive gift shop MC Film Festival on Eighth Avenue. Across the street is Streetcar Charlie's bar and grille, serving its famous hamburgers seven days a week. Bar-wise, there's G. Bar, Spurs country bar, 1701 Leather Bar, Limelight and Steam Fridays and Tease Saturdays at the Honey Pot cabaret extravaganza.

Ybor happy hour

Before you get your night going, try the patio at New World Brewery and enjoy a wide selection of import beers on tap. Across the street is Fume Bella, which attracts locals to its intimate space. On the easternmost end, you'll find an excellent hangout called The Dirty Shame. In the heart of Seventh, try Double Decker, Elmer's Sports Café, Gaspar's Grotto (which has a patio), Coyote Ugly, Full Moon Saloon, the Rare Olive, Boneyard and Green Iguana (outside food service).

Dinner in Ybor

There's the revered Columbia Restaurant, with its flamenco dancers, stately waiters and, uh, leisurely pace. For quick, filling and delicious Cuban food, you can't go wrong with Carmine's. For delicious upscale Italian, book a reservation at Bernini. More Italian? La Terrazza Ristorante is an upscale retreat from the street. Teatro has a varied menu of Asian, Mediterranean and even Middle Eastern. Acropolis offers Greek dining, while over at the Tampa Bay Brewing Co. in Centro Ybor, you can count on great bar food and sample its locally brewed beer. Those too busy? Try Rock 'n' Sports, Fresh Mouth and Centro Cantina in the complex, or find the Spaghetti Warehouse, in Ybor Square. If you need late-night filler, don't miss Mema's Alaskan Tacos, which serves its trademark dish early into the morning. New York, New York serves piping-hot pizza at late hours.

Showtime in Ybor

Be sure to check into the lineup at the Orpheum. (It's right around the corner from New World, which also has popular live shows.) Or head to the Crowbar on 17th Street, which offers its Crow's Nest biergarten. Back on Seventh, the landmark Ritz Theater stages special events and shows most weekends. Or hit Market on 7th, with its live rock, indie and jam bands. Feel like some wailin', growlin' and twang? You can't beat the Blue Shark.

You'd rather dance

Let's start with Czar. You'll love the crowd here if you're into fashion. Nearby on Eighth Avenue is Club Skye, a down-and-dirty spot that attracts a raunchier crowd. Head back down Seventh and you'll have your pick of the Honey Pot, Empire, Prana, Pop and Temple. Or find the Castle just off Ninth Avenue and 16th. The dress is definitely Goth.

Nightcap time

Try a couple late-night beverages at the Reservoir Bar, a no-frills spot to clear your head. Or look for the James Joyce Irish Pub right next to the Green Iguana for black and tans.

A quick and dirty visitor's guide to Tampa's hotspot, Ybor City 01/29/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 29, 2009 8:45pm]
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