Make us your home page

Gill Dawg's: A hidden waterfront gem in Port Richey

Made in the shade: Gill Dawg’s Tiki Bar & Grill is a sprawling and soon-to-be-expanding compound on the banks of the Cotee.

Luis Santana /tbt*

Made in the shade: Gill Dawg’s Tiki Bar & Grill is a sprawling and soon-to-be-expanding compound on the banks of the Cotee.

After a recent afternoon idly lounging in my back yard, I was reminded that Florida's a really nice place sometimes, provided you can find some shade. Kicking back in the yard with a nice drink is not a bad way to do Thursdays, that's for sure.

But the back yard is only so big, and my cat keeps trying to get in my lap. The nearby interstate traffic is somewhat distracting, too. I could move the whole operation to a bar, but then I'd lose most of that outdoor Florida charm and end up with a few new distractions in the process.

The solution: Gill Dawg's Tiki Bar & Grill, a sprawling marina compound on the banks of the Cotee River, way out in good ol' Port Richey.

It's a really unusual place. Opened in December, Gill Dawg is a compound that features a variety of activities: boat charters, kayak and watercraft rentals, a concert ground, a kitchen and two bars, separated by a winding courtyard filled with high Adirondack chairs, shaded with umbrellas and tree cover.

The whole thing is nestled into a quiet bayou-front property a few blocks off of U.S. 19, lush with trees, native shrubbery and dense mangrove growth in the water, giving it the appearance of an unspoiled, isolated part of the Florida wilderness, despite the fact that there are several businesses just a short walk down the road.

The concert ground, dubbed Wayne's World Event Center, is centered around a large, tilted boat (a real one) with a built-in stage. There's live music on Thursdays through Saturdays, but it's a huge area, making it also suitable for large concerts and festivals.

The main bar sits on the waterfront, with a surrounding deck and an adjacent dock lined with benches that have small planter boxes built into the back. It reminds me of going to a particularly scenic campground or park, like Fort De Soto, only with a full bar. And not only is it a full bar, it's one that features a wide variety of local, seasonal and imported craft beers. The beer selection would easily pass at a dedicated craft-beer bar, so the fact that it's part of a working marina is impressive.

There's a full liquor selection as well, dominated by flavored vodkas from 360, Absolut, and 3 Olives. The wine selection is minimal, but a wine and liquor expansion is under way.

An expansion for the whole property is under way. The second bar will feature indoor seating (everything is currently outdoors), as well as a selection of boutique wines, single-malt Scotch and cigars. The boardwalk along the water is being extended all the way out to the end of the property, with a third bar to be installed there. And why not another bar, while they're at it? A fourth bar will be placed in Wayne's World Event Center.

It's pretty ambitious. But judging from how busy the place was, it might be just what Port Richey needs. If all goes as planned, Gill Dawg will be a sort of playground-slash-paradise for folks who love being in the Florida outdoors but also have a taste for fine beverages.

About the festival: Gill Dawg is jumping straight into the fray and throwing a full-scale Bayou Beer Festival on Saturday, featuring unlimited tasting of more than 50 craft beers, many from local and other Florida breweries. If you're in the area, this seems like fine introduction to Gill Dawg.

My backyard's closer and slightly cheaper, but I'd absolutely consider again making the two-hour round trip to Gill Dawg's soon. It's a one-of-a-kind place, and the weather's just right for a day in the shade, surrounded by the beautiful Florida scenery that I often forget we have.

Gill Dawg's Tiki Bar & Grill

5419 Treadway Drive, Port Richey. (727) 842-1070,

The vibe: A laid-back and scenic outdoor craft beer and cocktail retreat.

Food: Appetizers, salads, and sandwiches, $3.99-$10.99.

Booze: Beer, wine, and liquor. Beer, $2-$7; wine, $4; liquor, $3-$6. Happy hour is 4 to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday and again from 10 p.m. to midnight Fridays, featuring $3 wells and house wines, as well as $2 select domestic beers.

Specialty: If you stop by Gill Dawg right now, you'll likely notice the beer selection, which includes a dozen or so draft options and more than 40 in the bottle. The selection frequently rotates, and there are many great seasonal beers to choose from, such as the 2014 release of Southern Tier's Farmer's Tan, a bottle-conditioned session IPA that's perfect for dockside drinking. The liquor selection is heavy on the flavored vodka, but don't let anyone tell you that drinking glazed donut-flavored vodka is a bad idea. In the near future, the auxiliary bar will be expanded to include fine wines, single malt Scotch, cigars and, of course, more craft beer.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday-Saturday.

Gill Dawg's: A hidden waterfront gem in Port Richey 05/01/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 1, 2014 1:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 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]
  2. 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
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Sept. 25-Oct. 1


    MegaCon Tampa: The multi-genre convention brings a lineup of celebrity guests and comic book creators to the Tampa Convention Center Friday-Sunday, including icon Stan Lee, William Shatner, above, Kevin Smith and Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin from Stranger Things. Shop hundreds of vendors selling …

    Courtesy Adultswim
  4. This Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake is ready for breakfast, dessert or your next party


    This week, food critic Laura Reiley offers thoughts on the Bundt cake, and why it and other retro desserts are making a comeback. Read that story here.

    Lemon Blueberry Coconut Bundt Cake. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  5. New podcast: Belushi's 'Real Men,' 'The Principal' turn 30


    Hand to god, I'm a sucker for a good Jim Belushi movie. And the mid-'80s gave us SO many good ones from the actor. But of all odd timing, two of his more under-appreciated flicks actually were released within one week of each other 30 years ago: The Principal and Real Men.