Sunday, July 15, 2018
Bars & Spirits

10 great sports bars in Tampa Bay for watching the College Football Playoff Championship (or any game)

You don't have a ticket to the College Football Playoff National Championship at Raymond James Stadium? No problem. You can still scream your head off with like-minded fans at Tampa Bay's many sports bars. Here are our 10 favorites, but if you are still looking for a good sports bar, check out our list of more than 80 in our database at tbtim.es/18u5

Hattrick's, 107 S. Franklin St., Tampa: The last five years have seen a lot of new bar options added to downtown Tampa, but Hattrick's, housed in three-story brick building built in 1907, remains the go-to spot for sports (especially the Tampa Bay Lightning, which play down the street) and comfort food (especially the Cuban sandwich and shake and bake wings). It's such a cool looking sports bar that they shot a Bud Light commercial there.

Prime Time, 14404 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa: Prime Time has a neighborhood vibe with wood-panel walls, wood floors and wood booths featuring individual speakers that let you choose which TV you listen to. They serve large, tasty burgers and a solid selection of craft beers on draft and in bottles.

Walter's Press Box, 222 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa: There's nothing fancy about the four-decades-old Press Box, but this just-divey-enough spot that never seems to change has everything you need, from wood-grain paneling on the walls to coin-operated pool tables and $2.25 pints of domestic draft beer, to a dark place to hide from the Florida sun. Their crispy buffalo wings are some of the best in town.

Duffy's opened its first Tampa location in 2016.

Duffy's, 1580 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa: The Florida-based chain opened its first Tampa location earlier this year and quickly became a local favorite with its 80 large televisions, a fairly diverse menu (pasta, big salads, seafood) and decent selection of craft beer and specialty cocktails in a bright, cleanly decorated environment.

Ducky's, 1719 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa: This bar and restaurant co-owned by Tampa Bay Rays player Evan Longoria is a bit more of an upscale option and offers duckpin bowling lanes as additional entertainment in case some of the people in your party aren't all that concerned with watching the game, but a whole lot of high-definition TVs if they are.

Gator's Cafe & Saloon, 12754 Kingfish Drive, Treasure Island: If you are watching a game in Florida you should have a waterfront view. As the name implies, this is a place where Tim Tebow would feel right at home. A sprawling bar overlooking John's Pass, it offers dockside dining, dozens of TVs and live music every night.

The first Hooters restaurant opened at this Clearwater location in 1983.

The Original Hooters, 2800 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., Clearwater: Take a pilgrimage to the holy site of the chain of wing restaurants that started right here in this Clearwater location. It's still a great place to sit back and catch the game while the scantily dressed serve hot wings. This original location was extensively renovated in early 2012, so it now has an indoor/outdoor bar, 35 flat panel HD TVs and a Hooters "MuSEEum" chronicling the company's milestones in photos and memorabilia.

Peabody's, 15333 Amberly Drive, Tampa: This giant University of South Florida hangout is half pool hall, half sports bar, with lots of full-size billiards tables and pub grub.

Glory Days: This sports bar chain has five locations in Tampa Bay including the recently remodeled spot at 9900 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. It's loaded with TVs and each table has a speaker that allows you to select sound from any on the wall to hear just that sound. Great idea. Find a location at glorydaysgrill.com/view-all-locations.

Ferg's is a giant sports bar near Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill, 1320 Central Ave., St. Petersburg: Situated just a deep fly ball from Tropicana Field, this converted gas station pulls sports fans in for its burgers, wraps and wings served amid a fanatic's paradise of memorabilia. It's grown with the Rays to become a sprawling, multi-story bar with seating inside and out and TVs galore for game watching.

Brick House Tavern & Tap, 1102 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa: Another chain, but this one makes for comfy game watching on seating that's more like a couch than a bar stool. There are also regular tables and booths as well, and a nice outside patio with fire pits.

Times staff writers Christopher Spata and Sharon Kennedy Wynne contributed to this report.

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