Monday, June 25, 2018
Bars & Spirits

The Outpost: A Tampa college bar with a can-do attitude

The Outpost Tap House + Tavern, a sports bar of sorts on the outskirts of downtown Tampa, is unquestionably a college bar. There's Ohio State paraphernalia on the walls, flat screens broadcasting college hoops and, well, it's located right next door to the University of Tampa, the college once attended by its owners.

I usually don't have high expectations for such bars. I'm not in college anymore, and even when I was, I didn't care about watching sports or drinking flavorless light beer. But I've got an open mind, so I checked out The Outpost to see what — if anything — it had to offer downtown Tampa, both for sports-loving college students and too-cool-for-school geezers like myself.

It turns out that I might like it more than the college kids I assumed made up its clientele.

Late on a Thursday night, The Outpost was almost empty, which was unexpected, considering select beers were on sale for $6 from 9 p.m. to closing. Apparently, The Outpost does most of its business during the day, when the restaurant end of the operation is the main draw. Judging by online reviews and input from my bartender, the culprit for the occasional late-night slump might be that The Outpost serves only beer and wine. People want their shots.

That seems a little ridiculous to me. I like a stiff drink as much as the next person, but The Outpost strikes me as a place so expertly designed as a beer-and-wine spot that I couldn't imagine ordering a cocktail there, even if that was an option — as it will be soon, I'm told.

The owners have clearly put a lot of thought into The Outpost, using limitation as a selling point, and doing it in a convincing manner. Instead of offering a lazy and boring beer selection, The Outpost offers 40 beers on draft and about that many in the can. Yes, in the can.

With the exception of KCCO lager (a schwarzbier from Texas that's bottle-only) and Miller High Life — which, hil­ariously, is served in 32-ounce form, accompanied by champagne flutes ("the champagne of beers") — everything is draft- and can-only. The idea is to serve fresher beer that's also more eco-friendly. That's a thoughtful approach that I didn't expect from what I assumed was a typical college bar.

While there are no liquor cocktails, there are "sak-tails," which use sake as a base. Most of these are twists on classic cocktails, but it makes for a nice change of pace if you're not in the mood for beer or cider. If you do want beer or cider but just aren't sure what to try, flights are available for $8, which feature four servings of 6 ounces each, which is half a pint more than a typical beer flight.

The thought put into the drink menu was nice, but the interior of The Outpost is what sold me. If using the term "neo-rustic" won't completely destroy my credibility, then that's what I'll call it. The bar is wrapped in repurposed 100-year-old barn wood from Chicago, accented by custom-welded metal footrests. The ceiling features exposed duct work and wood slats, and the rest of the decor incorporates a mix of shiny metal and dark, polished wood. The overall square footage is not huge, but it's roomy and seems capable of holding large crowds.

It really does feel like an outpost from the nearby downtown, SoHo, and Hyde Park areas — a sleek, smartly decorated sports bar that promises an alternative to the "predictability of SoHo."

The Outpost may still be finding its footing outside of daytime dining hours, and this may involve adding liquor to the menu. But it's a great place to visit now. It's a clean, highly appealing bar with a current selection of beers, wines, and ciders, all for a reasonable price and with plenty of daily specials and events to keep things interesting.

If I were a UT student, there's no doubt it would be my regular bar. But even a cynic like myself can find plenty to enjoy here.

[email protected]

Comments
See Datz pastry chef Alicia Wolding on Netflix’s Sugar Rush

See Datz pastry chef Alicia Wolding on Netflix’s Sugar Rush

When Alicia Wolding joined Datz as the new executive pastry chef last year her hair was rainbow — pretty much the whole ROY G BIV spectrum in cascading tresses. More recently, it’s bright purple, somewhere between iris and lilac. This is the color yo...
Published: 06/22/18
Enjoy Israeli Couscous, Swiss Chard and Peppers warm or at room temperature

Enjoy Israeli Couscous, Swiss Chard and Peppers warm or at room temperature

By Katie WorkmanIsraeli or Mediterranean couscous are tiny balls of toasted semolina pasta that plump up when cooked into toothsome, slightly less tiny balls of pasta. They make a great base for a side or salad. You can make the couscous according to...
Published: 06/22/18
Bar review: St. Pete’s Garage is a dive with Pride

Bar review: St. Pete’s Garage is a dive with Pride

Last year’s St. Pete Pride went smoothly, despite some behind-the-scenes drama involving the decision to relocate the parade to the downtown waterfront, rather than the Grand Central District, where it had traditionally been held. After all, the Gran...
Published: 06/21/18
Local craft beer of the week: Beach Slap Piña Colada Wheat Ale from Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company

Local craft beer of the week: Beach Slap Piña Colada Wheat Ale from Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company

"Hooray, it’s summer!" exclaimed no Floridians. But if it’s summer proper and not just the usual year-round weather, you might as well embrace the heat and humidity with a trip to the beach, accompanied by some suitably refreshing beers. While you’r...
Published: 06/21/18
Wine dinners, beer projects and more will wet your whistle this summer

Wine dinners, beer projects and more will wet your whistle this summer

FILIPINO FOOD: WELCOME CHISMISHave you been to the Heights Public Market at the 73,000-square-foot Armature Works yet? It’s the buzzy food market in Tampa Heights with more than a dozen vendors offering up everything from rolled ice cream to Cuban sa...
Published: 06/20/18
Here’s the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it properly

Here’s the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it properly

It started with jugs of olive oil and cans of tuna, lots of it, which my husband hauled in one day and plunked on the counter. "That’s my lunch!"That was about three months ago, and every day since there has been a new entity in our house to consider...
Published: 06/20/18
Five ideas for rainbow-themed foods to serve at your Pride party

Five ideas for rainbow-themed foods to serve at your Pride party

More than 50,000 people are estimated to attend Pride weekend in St. Petersburg, which runs Friday to Sunday. (June is LGBTQ Pride Month.) Whether you plan to march in the parade or host your own smaller gathering, we’ve selected five rainbow-themed ...
Published: 06/20/18
My husband has been on the ketogenic diet for three months. Here’s how he does it.

My husband has been on the ketogenic diet for three months. Here’s how he does it.

This week I wrote about something with which I have become very familiar: the ketogenic diet. If you’re like, "Huh?" you are where I was three months ago, before my husband, Phil, embarked on the weight-loss regimen. The keto diet is a high-fat, low-...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
A perfect pick for dessert

A perfect pick for dessert

America’s Test KitchenIt might seem impossible to improve on a perfect peach, but we decided to try. We wanted a simple, warm dessert that amplified the peaches’ flavor. To achieve tender, flavorful peaches with a lightly sweet glaze, we began by tos...
Published: 06/19/18
Everything you need to know about marinating meat

Everything you need to know about marinating meat

For a lot of home cooks, marinating meat is almost as automatic as cooking the meat itself. Douse the meat in some kind of flavored liquid, pop it in the refrigerator overnight and cook it the next day.Seems straightforward enough, but there are reas...
Published: 06/19/18