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At Clearwater's Average Joe's, fare and drinks belie the name

I'm a fan of underpromising and overdelivering, and where else to find such a setup than in a bar with the word "average" right in its name?

I know Average Joe's titular proprietor, Joe McGrath. He spotted us as soon as we sat at the bar, so a fully anonymous visit was impossible. We didn't receive special treatment — our visit was about what your average Joe off the street could expect.

In general, the problem with sports bars is that there's usually not a whole lot to say about them. That can be a positive, in the way that a purposefully-unadorned cocktail bar can benefit from maximizing potential within a restricted environment. For a sports bar, it's all about taking the various elements of the most familiar bar concept out there and making it just a little bit better than what the other guys are doing.

Average Joe's has all the things you'd expect to find at the local sports bar and grille — TVs everywhere, lots of fried finger food, darts, cornhole on the patio, a big ol' arcade console, a jukebox and no shortage of cold brews on tap.

But the delivery is above average. Regulars rave about the quality of the food, and the beer selection includes quality beers from Tampa Bay and beyond. No seats inside Average Joe's lack a direct line of sight to a TV, and there's a 120-inch projection screen opposite the bar, featuring its own lounge area with comfy chairs.

There's a large, covered patio out back that has a turfed seating area with picnic benches. There's live music out here on Sundays, and an outdoor bar is in the works.

Drink wise, you're not likely to run into any surprises. Aluminum cans of Bud and Bud Light are cheap and popular, but there are local brews on tap from Tampa Bay Brewing Company, Motorworks and Big Storm. There are a handful of house wines and sangria, and there's a good liquor selection, including some stuff you might not expect, like cachaça and multiple brands of rye whiskey.

The prices are good across the board, especially in the case of doubles. While most bars will charge you double for making it two shots, Average Joe's just tacks on another $3 or so. That means top shelf doubles for the price of two mid-tier singles, which is just a little above average in terms of savings.

At first glance, Average Joe's is a competent and altogether ordinary sports bar and grille. It's not fancy, and it doesn't have a whole lot to offer beyond what you'd expect a decent sports bar to offer. But, the occasional upgrades — a slightly more extensive food and drink menu, and a memorable projection screen lounge area — put a touch of irony in Average Joe's name.

Average Joe's Sports Bar & Grille

5858 Roosevelt Boulevard, Clearwater 33760. (727) 437-7340 avgjoesbg.com

The vibe: A family-friendly sports bar and grille.

Food: Sides, appetizers, salads and entrées, $2.99–$10.99.

Booze: Beer, wine and liquor. Beer, $2.50–$6; wine, $5; liquor, $2.75–$8.

Specialty: The big sellers here are domestic beers, and those are cheap and cold. There are some great local options on tap, as well as several solid brews in the cooler. If you're looking for cocktails, there's a list of eight house drinks to choose from, like the O No Joe (a boilermaker of sorts, featuring Bacardi O dropped in a pint of Shock Top) and the Fireball Sangria (sangria, Fireball and blood orange liqueur, served with oranges and cherries). Pro tip: Ordering a double cocktail carries a surcharge of around $3 over a single. The math is pretty straightforward.

Hours: Sunday–Tuesday, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Wednesday–Saturday, 12 p.m.-1 a.m.

Average Joe's

5858 Roosevelt Boulevard, Clearwater 33760. (727) 437-7340 avgjoesbg.com

The vibe: A family-friendly sports bar and grille – lots of TVs and a casual neighborhood feel.

Food: Sides, appetizers, salads and entrées, $2.99–$10.99.

Booze: Beer, wine and liquor. Beer, $2.50–$6; wine, $5; liquor, $2.75–$8.

Specialty: The big sellers here are domestic beers. There are some great local options on tap, as well as several solid brews in the cooler. If you're looking for cocktails, there's a list of eight house drinks to choose from, like the O No Joe (a boilermaker of sorts, featuring Bacardi O dropped in a pint of Shock Top) and the Fireball Sangria (sangria, Fireball and blood orange liqueur, served with oranges and cherries). Pro tip: Ordering a double cocktail carries a surcharge of around $3 over a single. The math is pretty straightforward.

Hours: Sunday–Tuesday, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Wednesday–Saturday, 12 p.m.-1 a.m.

At Clearwater's Average Joe's, fare and drinks belie the name 03/23/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 5:05pm]
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