Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Bars & Spirits

The Dirty Shame: A classic dive with Ybor City attitude

'Pub on the edge" reads the motto painted on the threshold of The Dirty Shame, a dive of sorts in Ybor, a place more known for its large-scale clubs and party atmosphere. The motto can be interpreted literally — The Dirty Shame is located near the absolute end of the Seventh Avenue strip — but it's also a nod to the celebration of fringe culture that the best dives represent.

I knew I was going to like The Dirty Shame even before I stepped inside. It seemed far removed from the polished, slick vibe that permeates much of the heavily trafficked areas of Ybor, and Cheap Trick's Gonna Raise Hell was playing inside.

From the street, it's a blank — a dark, nearly featureless exterior, only identifiable as a bar by a few beer neons inside the windows. There is an outdoor patio with its own tiki bar and café seating, but as it's open only on really busy nights, you might not even notice it. Inside, it's a classic dive: copious amounts of beer and whiskey; pool tables; steel-tipped dart boards; big round, wooden tables; a polished, long bar lined with stools — the works.

Well-worn as it may be, The Dirty Shame is surprisingly well-kept; the bar is clean, the pool tables have nice felts, and the carpet that covers most of the floor space is surprisingly free of grime. You probably wouldn't want to lie down on it, but it doesn't look like you're going to get fleas from it, either. The massive, wall-sized mirror behind the bar is spotless, and the bottles in front are carefully arranged by style.

While many bars of a similar ilk seem cramped, smoky and claustrophobic, The Dirty Shame is large, roomy and contains reasonably breathable air, the result of high ceilings and ventilation from the open front door. The walls are all brick, giving it a classic, sturdy look. The floor plan is spread out, and there's even a traditional nook in the corner near the entrance.

There's an art to this kind of selective seediness. The Dirty Shame looks and feels like a crusty, no-frills neighborhood bar, but it's good style and culture. It seems more likely to be frequented by thoughtful, Bohemian types than by blank-faced daytime drunks. It's a rare breed: a real-deal dive bar that's sketchy in all the right ways, while still managing to be utterly pleasant to hang around in.

While a cool interior and hip vibe go along way to making a bar a winner in my book, there's also got to be something good to drink. No issue there — The Dirty Shame has a diverse selection, including 19 beers on draft, nearly 40 more in bottles, a few house wines and an extensive spirit selection, including many small-batch Bourbons and single-malt Scotches.

The beer list — divided into "pints" and "not pints" — is impressively current, including new releases from Founders and this year's release of Pumking (I'll stop griping about pumpkin beers now that August is over). There are four traditional beer engine taps, serving Fuller's beers and Magners cider. I wanted to keep it light and ordered a Gaffel Kölsch, a somewhat uncommon find.

Many would consider a tallboy of PBR and a shot of bottom-shelf whiskey enough of a choice at a classic dive, but there's nothing wrong with offering a little something extra, so long as the atmosphere is authentic and unpretentious. The Dirty Shame hits these marks dead on.

Comments
Five trendy gift ideas for the cook in your life

Five trendy gift ideas for the cook in your life

Giving the gift of cooking isn’t really something you can mess up. Whether gifting a gadget or paying for a class, you can encourage a budding culinary enthusiast or give a seasoned veteran a new toy to play with. Here are five ideas for holiday gi...
Published: 12/13/17
Four ideas for edible gifts you can find throughout Tampa Bay

Four ideas for edible gifts you can find throughout Tampa Bay

Carlynn Crosby, Times correspondent Florida Pure Sea Salt Harvested from Tampa Bay’s waters, these handcrafted salts come in flavors like maple bacon, Sriracha, lemongrass, habanero or black truffle. They retail for $15 a jar online, at flor...
Published: 12/13/17
Six kitchen gadgets that are completely useless

Six kitchen gadgets that are completely useless

If you’re buying me a gift this year, don’t get me an Instant Pot. I’m serious. I don’t subscribe to the "you can never be too thin or too rich" school of thought, but the "you can never have too much kitchen cabinet space" is dead right in my book. ...
Published: 12/13/17
From the food editor: How to make perfect, hot Crispy Roasted Potatoes

From the food editor: How to make perfect, hot Crispy Roasted Potatoes

Sometimes, you just want a hot, crispy potato.I didn’t get home from work the other night craving a full dinner; I arrived at my house with cartoon visions of potatoes in my head, and knew I had to make it happen.I wasn’t looking for a fast food fren...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Downtown St. Pete’s 24-hour diner 2nd & Second is open

Downtown St. Pete’s 24-hour diner 2nd & Second is open

Downtown St. Petersburg’s only 24/7 restaurant has opened and doesn’t plan to close, ever. The 2nd & Second diner at the corner of Second Street and Second Avenue N will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week offering a spot f...
Published: 12/12/17
Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Noel Cruz seemed remarkably chill. As did his partner Kerem Koca. All around them in the Station House building in St. Petersburg, workers pounded the last nails, bartenders unpacked boxes of glassware and jewel-toned bottles of Amari, and the kitche...
Published: 12/12/17
Party like it’s Christmas in Narnia with these recipes perfect for tea time

Party like it’s Christmas in Narnia with these recipes perfect for tea time

As a kid, I always looked for doors into other worlds. I blame Narnia. In C.S. Lewis’ classic novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, four British children step through a magic wardrobe into Narnia, a world filled with talking animals and plenty ...
Published: 12/12/17
Cooking challenge: Making homemade edible Christmas gifts

Cooking challenge: Making homemade edible Christmas gifts

Should I infuse this vodka with bacon?That’s not a question I expected to ask myself on a Sunday morning, but here we are. This Christmas, I’m giving homemade gifts: infused liquor and chocolate fudge. But I didn’t realize it would be so hard to find...
Published: 12/12/17
Mario Batali on leave from ‘The Chew’ and restaurant empire after sexual harassment allegations

Mario Batali on leave from ‘The Chew’ and restaurant empire after sexual harassment allegations

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein story, chef and television personality Mario Batali offered up his views on how to combat sexual harassment in the workplace for an Oct. 30 video for Fast Company."You need a workplace free of fear, that harbors an...
Published: 12/11/17
Restaurant review: Let the food and outstanding cocktails at CW’s Gin Joint transport you back to the 1920s

Restaurant review: Let the food and outstanding cocktails at CW’s Gin Joint transport you back to the 1920s

TAMPAMaybe it’s the twinkling chandeliers. All skajillion of them. Or maybe it is the rhythmic syncopation of ice cubes in shiny shakers. It could be the old-timey metal dessert cart with its silver cloches and chafing dishes, or else the chummy-but-...
Published: 12/11/17