Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Bars & Spirits

Bar review: LGBT-friendly Punky's Bar and Grill in St. Petersburg

Gay, straight or otherwise, most St. Petersburgers have at least heard of Georgie's Alibi, the well-loved gay bar with a 15-year history and popularity that spanned a much wider demographic than the term "gay bar" typically implies.

Georgie's closure in September left a big gap in the local LGBT scene, with no nearby options comparable in size and scope. Enigma, a Central Avenue bar and nightclub owned and in large part staffed by former Georgie's employees, became the go-to for many folks.

Now, there's Punky's Bar & Grill, a bar and restaurant at the western edge of the Grand Central District that resides in the space formerly belonging to Jimbo's Joint. The bad news is that I'll forever be deprived of Jimbo's fantastic falafel sandwich; the good news is that Punky's has really made the space its own — a neighborhood bar and grill that all locals will find hard not to like.

With its position at the border of the Grand Central District — a neighborhood known for its wealth of businesses owned and frequented by members of the LGBT community — Punky's is a natural fit. It's a mere three blocks from where Georgie's Alibi once stood, and its large outdoor patio quickly became premium real estate for parade watching during last weekend's Pride festivities.

The awning-shaded, fenced-in outdoor patio is one of Punky's biggest upgrades. It's roomy enough to seat fairly large crowds, as well as host live music, DJs and drag shows on the weekends. If you want some entertainment with your brunch, Punky's is worth a look.

Inside, a long bar has been installed that wraps around into a larger dining area that also doubles as a karaoke venue on Tuesdays and a bingo room on Wednesdays (proceeds from the latter benefitting a variety of local organizations, such as Friends of Strays, the Gasparilla Softball League and Metro Community & Wellness Centers).

The vibe at Punky's is laid-back, friendly and appropriately colorful, with the interior painted in bright swirls, along with a large wall logo depicting the restaurant's cartoon mascot, Punky — a nickname and likeness belonging to the late, fun-loving mother of a good friend of co-owner Brian Longstreth.

Though Punky's places much emphasis on its food, there's plenty to work with at the bar. Several local brews are available on tap alongside imports and domestic craft options, and there's a list of 18 or so wines, from cabs to bubbly. The liquor selection contains few surprises, but unless you're looking for something very specific and relatively uncommon, you'll find it on the shelf at Punky's. And, in true neighborhood-centric fashion, Punky's stocks nearly the entire product line of St. Petersburg Distillery.

I think the best way to approach drink selection at Punky's is to take a look at the daily special. Whether that's the cocktail of the week or frozen margaritas that actually have some detectable booze in them, there's usually something worth trying. And, even if by pure coincidence, old Georgie's regulars will be pleased with this bar's generous pour. Your average cocktail won't rival, say, the deadly-strong Bloody Marys of Georgie's, but rest assured they come plenty stiff.

If the crowds at Punky's during last weekend's festival are any indication, it's quickly becoming a favorite of the LGBT community. Punky's is another quality, LGBT-friendly option in downtown St. Pete, and that's something that a lot of people can and should take pride in.

[email protected] | @wordsWithJG.

   
Comments
Bowled over: From acai to poke, the top 10 bowls in Tampa Bay

Bowled over: From acai to poke, the top 10 bowls in Tampa Bay

Why, exactly, are bowls the new plates? The Wall Street Journal declared it so. Tableware companies like Fiesta have reported serious double-digit growth in the sale of bowls ? salad bowls, cereal bowls, you name it. Fast-food restaurants have jumpe...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Fantastic French red wines for just $15 a bottle

Fantastic French red wines for just $15 a bottle

We usually donít expect red wines from Anjou, a small subregion of Franceís Loire Valley, to be any good, but hereís an example that will persuade even the most cynical wine skeptic to scour store shelves for obscure wines. I also recommend a refresh...
Published: 07/17/18
This simple shrimp dish lets summer vegetables shine

This simple shrimp dish lets summer vegetables shine

o the Washington PostThis meal of crisp vegetables and plump shrimp is light, fresh, flavorful and fast. It is just the thing to whip up when you need to reset from a weekend of typical summer party fare, heavy on the grilled meats and mayonnaise-y s...
Published: 07/17/18
Taste test: New snacks from Klondike, Quaker, Planters and Layís

Taste test: New snacks from Klondike, Quaker, Planters and Layís

Every parent knows the need to stock up the snack cupboard when their children are around for the summer. I am not sure whether they get hungrier in the hot weather or just bored. But judges said their children always want something to eat when they ...
Published: 07/16/18
Recipe for Roasted Peach and Chicken Salad With Bacon Vinaigrette

Recipe for Roasted Peach and Chicken Salad With Bacon Vinaigrette

I adore a hearty salad for summer, and this one came about as a result of having to use some leftovers in my fridge. Roasted peaches are a staple this time of year: slowly roasted in the oven for about 30 minutes on 350 degrees, drizzled with honey, ...
Published: 07/16/18
This Florida burger joint is one of the 10 best in America, travel website says

This Florida burger joint is one of the 10 best in America, travel website says

A 2Ĺ-hour drive south could land Tampa residents at one of Americaís best burger joints, according the review and travel website TripAdvisor.com.The website released a list of the "10 Most Delectable Burger Joints" in America on Wednesday, placing Na...
Published: 07/14/18
Epicurean to host fourth annual Epic Chef Showdown for Feeding Tampa Bay

Epicurean to host fourth annual Epic Chef Showdown for Feeding Tampa Bay

The Epicurean Hotel, 1207 S Howard Ave., plays host to the seven-week Epic Chef Showdown Feeding Tampa Bay benefit from 6:30 to 9 p.m each Monday starting July 16 running through to Aug. 27.Local celebrities and notable food writers will judge the fo...
Published: 07/12/18
Updated: 07/14/18
Bar review: New St. Pete breweries have sour power

Bar review: New St. Pete breweries have sour power

It took a few years, but downtown St. Petersburg is officially ready for a pair of manageable brewery crawls, thanks to the recent openings of Overflow Brewing Company and Inoculum Ale Works.The two breweries bridge the gap between Green Bench, Cycle...
Published: 07/12/18
Kekeís fourth site in South Tampa thrives among locals

Kekeís fourth site in South Tampa thrives among locals

Popular up-and-coming Orlando chain, Kekeís Breakfast Cafe has recently opened the doors to its fourth Tampa location in South Tampa on June 18. The restaurantís name Kekeís, originates from its owners Keith and Kevin Mahen who started the chain in 2...
Published: 07/12/18
Bundt cake shop coming to Wiregrass

Bundt cake shop coming to Wiregrass

LUTZ ó Even though itís not open for business yet, Tammy Mencia has been getting e-mails on a daily basis from excited customers wanting to know when Nothing Bundt Cakes is opening."Thatís a great sign," said Mencia, co-owner.In March 2017, husband a...
Published: 07/12/18