Make us your home page

Bar Review: Cisco's House of Brews worth remembering

Funny story: I was at Cisco's House of Brews in Lutz, sipping a Superfuzz blood-orange pale ale from Elysian (a $3.50 beer of the month special) and researching this story when I looked across the bar and noticed a wall plaque featuring a newspaper story. It was too far to see clearly, but I could just make out the little picture of my face on it.

My memory's not so great, but this was bizarre. I'd never been to this place. Even if it had undergone an extreme remodel and name change, I'd never even been to a bar in this part of Lutz. That's it: I finally lost the last marble.

Upon closer inspection, the story was a Barfly column I wrote several years ago about McAnderson's House of Brews in Oldsmar. Some light detective work revealed that this was the original McAnderson's location, and the second location in Oldsmar closed a couple of years ago. The business was sold and became Cisco's House of Brews, complete with a full remodel, new kitchen, new menu and so on.

House of Brews is an eminently pleasant local bar and restaurant, known for its above-average bar food.

I stopped by after dinner, but I did order a side of red-pepper hummus, which was served on a bed of shredded lettuce. That last detail was a nice touch, acting as a cooling foil to the surprisingly spicy hummus. I didn't recognize it by taste, which meant that it was probably house-made.

While I frequently search for good drinking in places that are primarily in the business of food, House of Brews tells you right in the name what you're signing up for; the full menu is a bonus. This is a friendly, low-key beer bar, with a nice outdoor patio and ample booth and bar seating throughout the modest-sized interior.

There's a row of TVs showing sports, edging House of Brews partially into sports bar territory — but the low-key lighting, granite bar, smart use of a monochromatic red color scheme, modern wooden vertical blinds and respectable volume level put it firmly back in legitimate beer-bar territory.

Despite the name, Cisco's House of Brews also keeps a tidy wine list. There are just over a dozen available, primarily of the California variety, and they're all available by the glass or bottle (reasonably priced, to boot).

And there's a full liquor selection.

A short list of house cocktails is weighted a bit toward the fruity/refreshing side but also includes some old-school cuts, like a Bushmills Black Bush-based whiskey smash, and some unique spins, like the Spicy Paloma (Cuervo, Ancho Reyes, agave, grapefruit sour, lime, soda and jalapeño). Another intriguing number is the Run Forest Run, which features Old Forester bourbon, blood-orange sour, and Barritt's ginger beer.

Of course, we're also looking at 30 taps of beer and quite a few bottles, with a regularly rotating selection. Of note is the beer-of-the-month selection, which goes for a cool $3.50, all day, every day. When I visited, it was a twofer: the aforementioned Superfuzz, as well as Space Dust, also from Elysian. In other words, the monthly special doesn't just consist of stale beers that the bar is trying to hold a fire sale on.

My biggest takeaway from Cisco's House of Brews was the great service. I only infrequently mention service in this column because too often, quality of service comes down to whatever bartender you get on any given day.

I got a different impression at House of Brews, and it's one that I've seen echoed repeatedly in online reviews.

Lutz is a small market, so a good beer selection is reason enough to visit. Toss in a fair wine selection, solid cocktails, a menu that has clearly had some thought put into it, and what apparently is consistently excellent service, and you've got a winner.

Toss this one up on the wall next to the old one — I promise to remember it this time.

[email protected]

Cisco's House of Brews

17683 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Lutz 33548. (813) 265-0300

The vibe: A modern, friendly beer bar known for good food and one of the best beer selections in town.

Food: Soups, sides, salads and appetizers, $2.49-$8.99; entrées, $8.99-$14.99; dessert, $5.50.

Booze: Beer, wine and liquor. Beer, $3.50-$8; wine, $5-$12 by the glass and $20-$39 by the bottle; liquor, $4-$9. Happy hour is Monday-Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., featuring $3 select domestic drafts, $4 craft/import drafts and calls, and $5 wines and specialty drinks.

Specialty: There are 30 beers on tap and a few dozen in bottles and cans, so you'll have no shortage to choose from. Check the monthly beer special, which is priced at an absurd $3.50 and often consists of beers well worth drinking. If you want to drink liquor in this House of Brews, there's a full liquor bar, as well as nine respectable house specialties, ranging from the aptly named Porch Sipper (Crop cucumber vodka, lemon, strawberry purée) to a classic whiskey smash (Bushmills Black Bush, simple, mint, lemon).

Hours: Monday-Tuesday, 3 p.m. to midnight; Wednesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, noon to 2 a.m.; Sunday, noon to midnight.

Bar Review: Cisco's House of Brews worth remembering 09/22/16 [Last modified: Thursday, September 22, 2016 6:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top picks for healthy convenience foods that put popular whole grains to good use


    Whole grains are trending. The National Restaurant Association declared them one of the top 20 food trends of 2017, multiple surveys report that consumers are seeking them out, and thousands of grocery items have been reformulated to include more in the past year. That's a good thing because there is a tall stack of …

    There is a tall stack of research supporting the health benefits of eating whole grains, which include preventing the risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease and helping with weight management.
  2. 'Battle of the Sexes' is a fine time capsule comedy, and not really about the tennis


    In 1973, tennis champion Billie Jean King joined a two-ring circus with hustler Bobby Riggs, billed as a Battle of the Sexes amid the women's liberation movement. Fifty million Americans watched the pop spectacle on TV.

    Emma Stone and Steve Carell in the film "Battle of the Sexes." [Fox Searchlight Pictures.]
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 26


    University Lecture Series: Jackie Cruz: In part of USF's Hispanic Heritage Month activities, actress Jackie Cruz (Orange is the New Black) presents "Cruzing Through Adversity" in which she offers lessons on resilience, determination and turning life's challenges into opportunities and a better outlook. 8 …

    Jackie Cruz in a scene from Netflix's "Orange is the New Black" Season 2. Photo credit: Jessica Miglio for Netflix.
  4. Restaurant review: Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights should focus on mom-and-pop pharmacy vibe

    Food & Dining

    By Laura Reiley

    Times Food Critic


    Sometimes, the more time you have with a project, the more complicated it gets. I started hearing about Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights about 18 months ago. It was the vision of Ujwal Patel, a pharmacist;

    Mortar & Pestle opened in Seminole Heights in Tampa in August. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  5. Snap Judgment's Glynn Washington on growing up in a 'cult' and how to tell a good story


    Glynn Washington spent much of his last visit to Tampa preparing his soul for the impending apocalypse. He was assured it was coming any day.

    Glynn Washington, the creator and host of NPR's "Snap Judgment," will bring his live show to the Tampa Theatre on Sept. 29. 
Photo courtesy Snap Judgment