If you're in town for the NCAA Tournament this weekend, you'll no doubt take advantage of Tampa Bay's museums, Cuban sandwiches and beach weather. But by the final buzzer, you may be jonesing for a piece of home — or something new. Here's where fans of the eight teams playing in Tampa this weekend can get their eat, drink and dance on.
— By Dalia Colón firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a hankering for a hearty meal like the ones in Des Moines, then head to Stumps Supper Club, a kitschy nightspot in the Channelside entertainment district near the St. Pete Times Forum. Nosh on comfort foods like meatloaf and corn bread. Then dance off the calories to the live band. Stumps Supper Club, 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa, (813) 226-2261; www.stumpssupperclub.com.
Western Kentucky University
It's time for folks from the Bluegrass State to go beyond bourbon. Try the Blue Martini Lounge, a chic bar at International Plaza, 15 minutes from downtown. Sample one of more than two-dozen martinis, starting with the drinks that have "blue" in the name. 2223 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa, (813) 873.2583; www.bluemartinilounge.com.
University of Connecticut
Check out Boston's, a New England-themed restaurant and sports bar with juicy specialty pizzas, burgers, wraps and — you guessed it — Boston cream pie. It's a 20-minute drive northwest of downtown. 9316 Anderson Road, Tampa, (813) 901-9590; www.bostonsgourmet.com.
San Diego State University
We know how you Californians love your salads. Try Wright's Gourmet House, whose salads are popular among foodies and "real" folks alike. Pair your veggies with a roast pork Golden Gate sandwich. The cafe is 10 minutes from downtown. 1200 S Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, (813) 253-3838; www.wrightsgourmet.com.
For those of you who can't get enough of the Nashville sound, there's Dallas Bull, the area's biggest country bar, both in popularity and size — 34,000 square feet. It has seven bars, pool tables, a western wear store and a mechanical bull. A-listers like Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley have played the Bull. 3322 U.S. 301, Tampa, (813) 987-2855; www.dallasbull.com.
Upstate New Yorkers, you can walk over to the Channelside entertainment complex for a late-night snack at New York Pizza Department. Besides thin-crust pies, the men in blue-themed eatery offers a convict calzone, Chelsea caesar salad and Penn Station cheese steak. 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa, (813) 228-6973; www.nypdpizza.net.
Yes, you can find fried catfish and sweet tea away from home. They're at the Good Luck Cafe, a soul food joint in historic Ybor City. Don't miss the fried chicken and waffles. To get there, catch the TECO street car outside the St. Pete Times Forum and get off at Ybor's Centennial Park Station. Fare is $2 each way; the trip takes only a few minutes. 1910 E 7th Ave., Ybor City, (813) 579-3790.
Tampadelphians meet up at Players Sports Bar to cheer on their Philly teams. Enjoy light grub, 10 TVs, a pool table, free parking and a family atmosphere. The bar is inside the DoubleTree hotel, 4500 W Cypress St., Tampa, (813) 879-4800; www.tampadoubletree.com.