Make us your home page
Instagram

At the Double D Saloon, don't let the smoke stop you

Once your eyes can adjust, you can see Double D as a small, modest, genuinely local dive, if a bit rough around the edges.

Luis Santana/tbt*

Once your eyes can adjust, you can see Double D as a small, modest, genuinely local dive, if a bit rough around the edges.

There's no need to sugarcoat it: Dive bars are a dime a dozen, and the reason many of them stay in business has zero percent to do with ambiance and drink selection and 100 percent to do with folks in the neighborhood looking for a quick, cheap drink.

I sometimes find myself in what appears to be just another anonymous dive, wondering how I'm going to write 800 words about frozen mugs of Bud Light, a jukebox blaring Steppenwolf and a tortured smoke filtration system that sucks in more Marlboros in a day than a dedicated chain smoker can manage in a month.

This is the predicament I thought I had got myself into when I visited the Double D Saloon, a crusty, strip-mall dive on U.S. 19 in Pinellas Park. But as usual, there was more beneath the surface.

I've noticed Double D for a good while now, even back when it was Z Bar, and a sign out front proclaimed that live music was on tap nightly, which seemed already to put it into more ambitious territory.

Walking into Double D, the first thing that struck me was unquestionably the smoke. I'm no stranger to smoky bars, but Double D makes the Emerald seem like an O2 bar in an upscale shopping mall. I'm sure that simply opening the front door is not the best solution, especially on U.S. 19, but man, there's got to be a better solution.

Once my eyes adjusted, I took a look around. Double D is a small, modest dive — the kind built by locals, for locals. Wood-paneled walls; a small, L-shaped bar; a pool table, claw game, Megatouch, Ms. Pac Man/Galaga console and even some bizarre '90s slot machine terminals designed to award players with phone cards, from when that used to be a thing.

Behind the bar, four beer taps — Budweiser, AmberBock and Bud Light, twice. There are some more beers in the bottle, but aside from Sam Adams Oktoberfest (a very good beer, for the record), Stella Artois and Woodchuck, much of the selection is in wine cooler form: Seagrams, Smirnoff Ice and so on.

Speaking of which, Double D has a wide selection of one of my favorite bizarre novelties — those wine-based imitation liquors. I tried the Kahlua and amaretto versions, and they were not too far from the real thing, although a bit overly syrupy. For a bar that doesn't have a license to serve hard liquor, these do present a good, though underutilized, option.

Now, if I've undersold the Double D Saloon, understand that this is just that kind of place. It's nothing fancy, but it's genuine, which is what keeps places like it alive. If you were just to walk in, breathe in a couple packs of cigarettes, and walk right back out, you'd miss the fact that this place is actually somewhat of a thriving community for its regulars.

There is indeed live music several nights a week, as well as karaoke on Tuesdays, and a popular open-mic night on Wednesdays. The bar has held benefits for patrons who have been hit with astronomical medical bills, as well as a motorcycle ride to commemorate the passing of another. When I visited, the vibe was fun and welcoming, with openly friendly patrons and staff. The bar's Facebook page is updated more regularly and features more patron interaction than most.

It's not the kind of place that is likely to make converts of the average passerby, but that's just fine. For such a tiny, modest bar, a solid cast of regulars is a great start. But if you're in the market for a bar that's a little rough around the edges, the Double D seems like the kind of place that would be happy to have you.

Double D Saloon

5944 34th St. N, St. Petersburg; (727) 329-6631, facebook.com/dbldsaloon.

The vibe: A friendly hole-in-the-wall dive with live music.

Booze: Beer and wine, $2-$4.

Specialty: Although the beer selection is sparse, that doesn't mean there's nothing to work with. For example, Sam Adams Oktoberfest is currently available, as is Woodchuck cider, if you're not in the mood for beer. There's also a small selection of house wines and wine coolers, as well as imitation, wine-based spirits. Want a whiskey and coke? No problem. It may not be real whiskey, but it kind of tastes like it, and it's got booze in it. You can even order one as a shot for a mere $2. In fact, I'd say the main "specialty" here is the price — you legitimately can't order anything over $4.

Hours: Open daily, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.

At the Double D Saloon, don't let the smoke stop you

10/17/13 [Last modified: Thursday, October 17, 2013 2:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Cast up to the challenge in Richey Suncoast's 'How the Other Half Loves'

    Stage

    Theater has many plays where there are two completely different apartments depicted on the stage, usually split down the middle, one on the right, one on the left.

    "How the Other Half Loves" runs weekends through Oct. 29 at Richey Suncoast Theatre in New Port Richey. Cast members are Christine Stoll and  David Daly (in front) and Bob Marcela, Heather Clark, Mike Worssell and Blake Parker (in back, from left). [Photo by Jess Glass]
  2. Review: Excellent cast delivers entertaining production of 'Young Frankenstein' at Stage West

    Stage

    I went to see the musical comedy Young Frankenstein at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill with some trepidation. I had seen a very good production of the show at another theater a couple of years ago, and I was concerned that I would subconsciously compare the two to the detriment of one or the …

    "Young Frankenstein" plays weekends through Oct. 29 at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill. Keith Surplus, left, performs as Igor and Lynda Dilts-Benson, right, as Frau Blucher. [Photo by Carol Ballard]
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Oct. 23-29

    Events

    R. L. Stine: It's fitting that the week before Halloween, USF's Lecture Series features the popular horror author known for the Goosebumps series. Stine will discuss his career, creative process and sign books Wednesday at the Marshall Student Center in Tampa. Free. .

    ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 09: Singer Anthony Hamilton performs onstage at the 2014 Ford Neighborhood Awards Hosted By Steve Harvey at the Phillips Arena on August 9, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images for Ford Neighborhood Awards)
  4. Seasoned cast scores an extra-base hit for St. Petersburg Opera with 'Faust'

    Stage

    TAMPA — Charles Gounod's Faust sets the table early. The world-weary philosopher immortalized in a dramatic poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is in his study, lamenting his state of affairs. He's willing to give away everything he has to be young again, even his soul.

    The St. Petersburg Opera Company begins its season with Faust, in a production seemingly aligned with the original intent of French composer Charles Gounod and librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carre. [St. Petersburg Opera Company]
  5. Blake High grad Taylor Trensch lands lead role in 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Broadway

    Stage

    For those who saw Taylor Trensch grow up in Tampa, his rise from promising student to star is heartwarming and entirely predictable. In January, Trensch, 28, will be moving into the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in theater.

    Taylor Trensch, a 2007 Blake High graduate, will play the title role in Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen. Courtesy of Frank Trensch.