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Ybor after dark // THE GUIDE

(ran TP edition)

Second Editon

Dec. 1996

THE CLUBS

Alessi Cafe Beignet

1802 E Eighth Ave., 241-2233. Sun.-Thur. 7 a.m.- 10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 24 hours.

All the Ybor/French Quarter comparisons seem true when you're sitting inside this Cafe du Monde-inspired restaurant, which opened just last week. The Alessi Bakery family has brought its culinary experience to a glass-enclosed, tin-roofed pavilion set at the western edge of Centennial Park, with open-air patios on either side and chicory coffee on the menu. They also serve, of course, beignets as well as sandwiches and pizza. Open 24 hours on the weekend, when they also present live jazz.

Bar

1401 E Seventh Ave. 248-3422.

"No Theme, Just Bar" they say, but there is a well-defined atmosphere here: Meat Market. Girls do the bump and grind on the countertops while open-mouthed guys watch them from the tight-as-sardines floor. It's noisy and it's crowded, and the young-and-buff set seems to love it. Wed.-Sat. 9 p.m.-3 a.m.

Blues Ship Cafe on the Top

1910 E Seventh Ave., 248-6097.

At the top of the stairs is a guaranteed feel-good time. Just like its former, ground-floor incarnation, The Ship on Top has the most comfortable, down-home atmosphere in all Ybor, plus live music, soul food, dancing, a pool table, and two cozy balconies. Just about the only mixed crowd in the historic district, and by that we mean black and white, young and old, rich and poor, people with rhythm and the Dancing Man. Mon.-Sun. 5 p.m.-3 a.m.

Boca

1930 E Seventh Ave., 241-2622.

A refuge, an oasis of calm, a place to let out a sigh of relief. Opened in May, this new wave Floribbean restaurant's intriguing menu and well-executed atmosphere (a soft-edged modern by local decorating ace Keith Bucklew) has earned rave reviews from all quarters. Show up for lunch just after the midday rush, and you'll be treated to a quiet, civilized experience that you might not think possible in today's Ybor. You can savor real jazz over the speakers and ponder the menu's creative dishes that are as entertaining to read as they are to eat. The servers _ most of them uniquely courteous yet candid _ are uniformed in guayaberas and personify the restaurant's singular fusion of old and new ideas. Havana 58, the restaurant's outdoor patio bar, lends a sense of security from the weekend night masses with its heavy iron gate (the stuffed giant marlin over the bar is also emboldening). On Wednesday nights, chamber orchestras or a Spanish classical guitarist performs. Ahhhhh. Mon. 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Tue.-Thur. 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Fri. 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., 5 p.m.-midnight, Sat. 6 p.m.-midnight.

Bernini

1702 E Seventh Ave., 248-0099.

This Italian restaurant just opened this week, and we don't have a fix on it yet. But we do know that one of the chefs used to work at Mise en Place, and that they pulled out all the stops when they decorated the place (heck, even the doorknobs are gorgeous). There's a cigar and martini bar up on the mezzanine. Mon. 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Tue.-Thur. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.- 3 a.m., late-night menu available until 2 a.m.

Bubba's Beach Club

1910 E Seventh Ave., 248-2822.

Oh that Bubba. He so crazy. The former Power Pig deejay specializes in the kind of forced good-time wackiness that usually turns us off. But somehow it makes us smile when the bar's buffed, tanned and stripped-down employees come out into the street and do a little line dance, especially when it makes a passing group of French tourists take out their cameras and start snapping. And somehow it just seems right that Naughtie Nighty contests and $3 Icehouse Pounders have a place on Ybor's strip. Wed.-Sun. 9 p.m.-3 a.m.

Cafe Creole

1330 E Ninth Ave., 247-6283.

Located in the historic El Pasaje building, where many of Ybor's most illustrious characters dined and socialized in the early part of this century. Good Cajun food and oysters, and Bourbon Street Jazz on Friday and Saturday evenings. Comfortable, if noisy, bar with a good view of the street. Mon.-Thur. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. 11:30 a.m.-midnight, Sat. 5 p.m.-midnight.

Carmine's

1802 E Seventh Ave., 248-3834.

The good old standby of Seventh Avenue for Spanish and Cuban food is open late with a full menu. Line your stomach with a Cuban sandwich and garbanzo soup before filling it with beer. Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-3 a.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Castillo's Cafe

1823 E Seventh Ave., 248-1306.

A Spanish-Cuban cafeteria that books live acts on the weekend. Like going to a junior high dance, only the people leaning against the back wall are clutching bottles of beer instead of sweaty paper cups of Check Cola. Mon.- Wed. 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Thu.-Sat. 7:30 a.m.-3 a.m., Sunday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

The Castle

2004 N 16th St., 247-7547.

A gothic-inspired space with iron candelabra, bare-brick walls and a moat running through the stone-topped bar. Usually, the youngish, fashionable Castle crowd is too cool to dance, but sometimes languid foot tapping breaks out when someone plays an acid jazz selection on the jukebox. Thur.-Sat. 9 p.m.-3 a.m.

Cha Cha Coconuts

2029 E Seventh Ave., 241-2422.

Okay, so this is part of an insufferably touristy chain, and every 28 minutes, diners are subjected to a "hurricane" with flashing strobe "lightning" and sound effects "thunder." But we have to admit, the food is good and the place is cleverly decorated, with mismatched chairs, funky murals, and exposed-brick walls. Plus, they serve the full menu until midnight and snacks until 2 a.m. on the weekend. Sun.-Wed. 11 a.m.-midnight, Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.- 2 a.m.

Cherokee Club

1320 E Ninth Ave., 247-9966.

The most beautiful club in Ybor was also totally slammin' when we visited two weeks ago, with a packed dance floor and a high-energy drag show. The Cherokee caters to women of all persuasions (but sympathetic men can get in, too), and the historic, high-ceilinged space vibrates with a fun-loving, all-inclusive atmosphere. Elegant appointments include a balcony overlooking a fountain in a courtyard below. Thur.-Sat. 9 p.m.-3 a.m

Cherry's

1512 E Seventh Ave., 247-4541.

A late-night Ybor diner and bar. Jukebox music. Mon. 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Tue. 11:30-midnight, Wed.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-4 a.m., Sun. 4 p.m.-4 a.m.

Club 1509

1509 E Eighth Ave., 247-6606.

There's something about a roped-off VIP line in front of a half-empty club that gives you a sinking feeling, like you're going to be subjected to aggressive ostentation and pointless exclusivity inside. But some people like that kind of thing. Expect guys with slicked-back hair flashing their money around, and expensively-coiffed, very-accessorized women pouting and affecting a smoldering look. Also lots of vanilla-flavored smoke and music ranging from world beat to techno, although when we visited, they were playing re-mixed dance versions of top 40 hits. Wed.-Sun. 10 p.m.-3 a.m.

Club Flamingo

1502 E Seventh Ave., 248-1023.

Joe Redner's place brings Girls, Girls, Girls to the Latin Quarter. Yep, it's not your eyes, the dancers ARE wearing pasties, but _ get this _ they can wear CLEAR ones! Some people are so creative when it comes to complying with city ordinances. If you're watching the action on the plastic pink flamingo onstage, you might not notice thoughtful decorative touches such as the extravagantly backlit bar, the '80s-style gameroom carpet, and the little Monet print in the far corner. Klassy. Wed.-Sat. 4 p.m.-3 a.m.

Club Hedo

1510 E Seventh Ave, 248-4336.

To steal a phrase from writer Richard Bernstein, this place reeks of the banality that comes of trying too hard to be "different." The owner calls it "Ybor's only theme bar," and inside you'll find airbrushed murals of misty rainforests and sunny beaches, a science-project volcano, mossy trees and a 150-foot-long stone-topped bar with a moat running through it _ just like the Castle's. You see, Hedo attempts to allude to Hedonism, an island resort with a swinging singles reputation, which explains the plastic palms and the sexually-themed objets that dot the bar. Wed.-Sat. 5 p.m.-3 a.m.

The Columbia Restaurant

2117 E Seventh Ave., 248-4961.

In Ybor since 1905, the venerable Columbia is a palace of Spanish tile and old-world ambience. The red lounge with the doll hutches is a prodigy of cool-weird decor and a great place to whisper into someone's ear. Flamenco show in the main dining room nightly, and a cigar bar in the cafe on the restaurant's east side. Mon.-Thur open 11 a.m.-10 p.m., flamenco at 7:30 p.m., Fri.-Sat. open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. flamenco at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. (must be seated for dinner to watch the show).

8th End

1860 Republica de Cuba, 247-3523.

Pick up something smart to wear on the way to the club. 8th End stays open late for shopping _ and you can buy art and jewelry as well as clothes. Plus they have coffee, fruit smoothies and magazines, and occasional fashion shows, wine tastings and art openings. Tue-Thur. noon-8 p.m., Fri.-Sat. noon-midnight, Sun. noon-6 p.m.

Elmer's Sports Cafe

2003 E Seventh Ave., 248-5855.

A sports bar with pool tables in the back and a liquor store on the side. Mon.-Sun. 11:30 a.m.-3 a.m.

El Molino Gourmet Coffee and Gifts

2012 E Seventh Ave., 248-2521.

Connected to the historic Naviera Coffee Mill, which daily scents the historic district with the scent of roasting beans. El Molino serves coffee and cigars late on the weekends, and also has gift baskets for those inclined to Christmas shop during pub crawls. Mon.-Thur. 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Fri., 8 a.m.-1 a.m., Sat. 1 p.m.-1 a.m.

Empire

1902 E Seventh Ave., 247-2582.

The guy in the front window doing the rock-n'-roll airbrush act should tell you everything you need to know. If wearing a leather jacket with "Oi" painted on the back makes you feel tough, if techno music makes your inner rebel wanna get up and dance, if you need a dark and noisy and gritty place so you can feel out there on the fringe where normal people dare not go, then this is the club for you. Wed.- Sat. 9 p.m.- 3 a.m.

Fat Tuesday

1722 E Seventh Ave., 248-9755.

Did somebody say daiquiries? Why yes, they did _ 17 kinds in all. That seems to be the entire point of this brightly painted and echo-y-y space, which features live music on weekends. Tue.-Thur. 3 p.m.-2 a.m., Fri.-Sat. 3 p.m.-3 a.m., Sun. 1 p.m.-8 p.m.

Flavour

15th and Palm, 242-8007.

It doesn't officially open until this Saturday, but the buzz on this baby is loud. With two dance floors and a labyrinth of fabulously decorated rooms _ the Cheetah lounge, the Harley Bar, the Iron Arena room among them _ Flavour looks set to continue the tradition of the fabled El Goya, a fantastic, sprawling gay bar that flourished in '80s Ybor, before it got stripped down and became Tracks. Flavour will to cater to a gay clientele, but open-minded straight people are welcome. Wed.-Sat. 8 p.m.-3 a.m.

Frankie's Patio

1920 E Seventh Ave., 248-3337

Gets a bad rap from Ybor purists for its South Beachish architecture, but there's no denying that the new Frankiedome lit up with white twinkle lights is an absolutely fabulous place to dance. Frankie's books happening national acts, (funkateer George Clinton and fiery Texas songstress Marcia Ball among them), and serves big portions of New American Cuisine. Live music every weekend.

Goodfella's

1613 E Seventh Ave., 242-4600.

Another Ybor sports bar, this one with an outdoor patio and live music on the side. Mon.-Tue 3 p.m.-7 p.m., Wed.- Sun. 3 p.m.-3 a.m.

Green Iguana

1708 E Seventh Ave., 248-9555.

Young and not-so-young professionals flock to the Iguana for loud live music, drinks and food. Bare brick walls, a tin-roofed bar, and a big, plastic iguana make the atmosphere a little New Orleans, a little Key West, a little Bennigan's. The small space is always very crowded on the weekend, so watch out for all those guys packing cell-phones on their belts. Ouch! Sun.-Mon. 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Tue.-Sat. 11 a.m.-3 a.m.

Harpo's

1805 E Seventh Ave., 248-4814.

Multiple stages, both inside the tightly packed club and out on the patios. All feature live bands covering top 40 hits for the buff babes and dudes who come to Harpo's to par-tay and get picked up. Thur.- Sat. 8 p.m.-3 a.m.

Harpoon Louie's

1710 E Eighth Ave., 248-1515.

It used to be called Gaspar's, and they've kept the swashbuckling decorating scheme. ARRRRRGH. The crow's nest still holds the remains of a guy who just couldn't take another pirate-themed seafood restaurant. Mon. 11 a.m.- 3 p.m., Tue. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Wed.-Thur. 11 a.m.-3 a.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-3 a.m.

The Irish Pub

1721 E Seventh Ave., 248-2099.

A traditional pub with a slightly grungy feel. Serves up Guiness, pub grub, and live music for a mainstream crowd. Mon. 4 p.m.-1 a.m., Tue. 4 p.m.-1 a.m., Wed.- Thur. 4 p.m.-3 a.m., Fri. noon-3 a.m., Sat. 1 p.m.-3 a.m., Sun. 1 p.m.-midnight.

Jazz Cellar

1916 Avenue Republica de Cuba, 248-1862.

None of that ironic-meta-retro stuff here, this is a lounge in earnest. Actual guys in pinkie rings and waitresses who call you "hon," plus a really long bartop with giant piano keys painted on it. Very cozy and narrow and dark, with local jazz favorites performing on the tiny stage for your dancing and listening pleasure. Attracts an older crowd and is a great place to escape the madness of Seventh Avenue. Thu. 8 p.m.-1 a.m., Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m.-2 a.m.

Jeff's Desserts

1704 E Seventh Ave., 248-9866.

The name brings to mind some schleppy cookie joint, but step inside and the atmosphere is breathtakingly calm and sophisticated. Wrought-iron decorative touches and great mood lighting are just a couple of the ambience-enhancers, and the menu features much more than desserts and coffee. Jeff's stays open late on weekend nights so you can come down off your Ybor trip before you drive home. Sun.-Thur. 11 a.m.-midnight, Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-4 a.m.

Jellyrolls

1812 N 17th St., 247-2447.

Two words: dueling pianos. A pair of guys with magic fingers take requests from the audience and then whip them into a vocal frenzy with old favorites like Crocodile Rock and All Shook Up. Don't ask why, but this place can get really rowdy. Maybe too much Elton John will make anybody testy. Wed.-Thur. 7 p.m.-2 a.m., Fri.-Sat. 7 p.m.-3 a.m.

Jimmy Mac's

1815 E Seventh Ave., 242-6900.

South Tampa's favorite for burgers comes to the Latin Quarter. Full bar. Mon.-Wed. 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Thur.-Sat. 9:30 p.m.-3 a.m.

Joffrey's

1616 E Seventh Ave., 248-5282.

Does a good job of keeping cafe society alive on Seventh Avenue by serving good coffee and providing a space where you can actually hear what your date is saying. Also notable for its clever use of street lamps indoors. But will somebody please explain those mannequins set up against the back wall? Mon.-Tue 7 a.m- 6 p.m., Wed. 7 a.m.- 1 a.m., Thur. 7 a.m.-3 a.m., Fri-Sat. 7 a.m.-4 a.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Key West on 7th

2015 E Seventh Ave., 242-4743.

It used to be Club Irie, and they book the same bands, including perennial favorites Johokame's Posse. It still feels like the Little Reggae Bar that could, although the crowd is bigger and more diverse. Tue.-Sun. 7 p.m.-3 a.m.

Luna Lounge

1802 E Seventh Ave., 248-3460.

Up above Carmine's restaurant is a stylish little aerie where they play soothing ambient music and other mellow modern sounds. It's a nice place to dance or relax in a sophisticated atmosphere, and they have a balcony overlooking Seventh Avenue. Thur.-Sat. 9 p.m.-3 a.m.

Market on 7th

1816 E Seventh Ave., 248-2356.

Pool tables, cocktails and pizza in the old Demmi's Market, with cushy chairs and a couple of TVs behind the bar. Mon.-Sat. 4 p.m.-3 a.m.

Masquerade

1503 E Seventh Ave., 247-3319.

In its former location, Masquerade held a vaunted place in Ybor Club history. Now, inside the renovated Ritz Theater, it's become the grande dame of Tampa alternative clubs. Huge dance floor where the theater seats used to be, and the more intimate Aqua Lounge on the side. Alternative and techno music are the mainstays, and Thursday night is retro '80s. Wed.-Fri. 10 p.m.-3 a.m., Saturday 10 p.m.-7 a.m.

New World Brewery

1313 E Eighth Ave., 248-4969.

Palms, tropical plants and handmade furniture crafted from recycled materials fill the courtyard of this funky little bar. Four house beers are brewed on location in small portions for freshness, with 12 beers on tap and more than 50 bottled beers. Occasional live music, and a lounge-type-thang on Wednesdays with smooth sounds ranging from Esquivel to Frank Sinatra. Mon.-Sun. 3 p.m.-3 a.m.

The Oak Barrel

1901 N 13th St., 247-1164.

A cavernous space on the ground floor of Ybor Square, the renovated cigar factory that serves as Ybor's mall. A hangout for both boho-types and regular working stiffs that has a huge selection of beers and decent burgers. Live music Thursday through Saturday, and Wednesday is liter night, when $4 will get you a beer so big you can't hold it with one hand. Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Sun. 1 p.m.-3 a.m.

Old World Coffee Company

1925 E Seventh Ave., 247-3309.

Not much on atmosphere, but the coffee's good. Try the cafe Madrid _ espresso with sweetened condensed milk. Also sells cookies, cold drinks, and cigars. Fri.- Sat. 6 p.m.-2 a.m.

Ovo Cafe

1901 E Seventh Ave., 248-6979.

A chi-chi late-night watering hole and daytime eating spot. Ovo has the best-dressed servers and most uptown attitude in Tampa, even if it does go a little heavy on the gladiolus and Nagle-style prints. Try the famous fancy waffles and take up a stool by the window to people-watch. Mon.-Tue. 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Wed.-Thur. 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10:30 a.m.- 1:30 a.m. (kitchen closes at midnight), Sun. 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Perfectos

1902 Republica de Cuba, 248-6130.

Cozy leather chairs, beautiful old rugs, and antique cigar memorabilia make Perfectos as mellow and rich as a good cigar. It's a relaxing place to sit, have a smoke and marvel at owner Mike Turbeville's collection of Yboriana and Florida artifacts. Tue. noon-6 p.m., Wed.-Sat. 10:30 a.m.-midnight, Sun. noon-6 p.m.

Platforms

1625 E Seventh Ave. 241-6603.

Just another example of how widespread and sloppy this '70s retro trend has gotten. For the record, Krush Groove-style airbrush art does not belong in the same aesthetic scheme as the soundtrack from Grease. Come to think of it, playing music from a '70s film devoted to the '50s opens up a whole other can of meta-nostalgic worms. People did seem to be having fun in there when we checked in on two separate occasions last week, perhaps celebrating no cover charge and copious free shooters. Wed.-Sat., 9 p.m.-3 a.m.

The Pleasure Dome

1430 E Seventh Ave., 247-2006. Hours yet to be set.

Opening Dec. 28, the Pleasure Dome is attempting to fill some big shoes in the space formerly occupied by the legendary El Goya and the sorely missed Tracks. There's been much hue and cry about this traditionally gay haunt becoming straight, but lovably bitchy drag performer Joey Brooks is staying on to direct the new club's drag show, and management says there will be an open-door policy for patrons of all persuasions. The space is getting a makeover and the dance floor (still under construction during our walk-though) looks like it will be spectacular.

Polyster Patio at Carmine's

1802 E Seventh Ave., 248-3834.

Boogie Oogie Oogie under the mirrored disco ball every Friday and Saturday. Fri.-Sat. 9 p.m.-3 a.m.

The Rubb

1507 E Seventh Ave., 247-4225.

This cavernous, two-story space has a polished, urban feel, with gorgeous futuro-graphics murals and shapely modern furniture and fixtures. Besides atmosphere, the Rubb has a great sound system, and has become perhaps the best venue for live music in Tampa. Expect pasty alternative music fans on weeknights, tanned, Gap-clad twentysomethings on the weekend, and eclectic sounds ranging from rockabilly to funk to alternative. Wed.-Sun. 9 p.m.-3 a.m.

The Safari Club

1327 E Seventh Ave., 248-5533.

Add trophy animal heads and a few hanging plants to the old Trolley Stop Cafe, and what do you get? Oh well, at least the old wooden booths are still intimate and cozy and the pressed-tin ceiling still beautiful. Live bands on Friday and Saturday, and a full menu. Mon.-Tue. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Wed.-Sat. 11 a.m.-3 a.m.

The New Tracks

2002 N 16th St, 247-7547.

In the upstairs space that used to be the Labor Temple, some folks are trying to bring back Tracks, the recently-closed gay club that is sorely missed by many. On Saturday nights, they play Tracks-style dance mixes, and they do seem to be pulling in a smallish Tracks-style crowd. A wag of our acquaintance described the space as a Gothic school gymnasium, and he meant that in a good way. It's a high-ceilinged space with glossy wood floors, and it's been redone in a spare baroque style (an oxymoron, we know) that's appealing. Open Tue., Wed., Fri., Sat., Sun., with different themes each night.

Spurs

1915 E Seventh Ave., 247-7787.

Boot Scootin'. There, we said it. Now let us add that this is a fun, friendly club where you feel welcome even if you're not wearing a big hat and pointy boots. Since there are at least three clubs in Ybor where you can dance to "techno" with the pierced and tattooed legions, Spurs feels pretty alternative by comparison. Free line dance lessons from 7-9 p.m. every night they're open. Wed.-Sat. 6 p.m.-3 a.m.

The Thirsty Troll

1906 N Republica de Cuba Ave., 248-9394.

Blue neon and swirly-painted walls make this smallish bar feel like the inside of an aquarium. You were expecting a Scandinavian cave, maybe? Have another Jaegermeister and squint a little harder at those swirls. Tue.-Fri. 3 p.m.- 3 a.m., Sat. 7 p.m.-3 a.m.

Ybor Pizza and Subs

1603 E Eighth Ave., 248-6058.

Affectionately known as the Pizza Dump, this is a hangout for Ybor Old Timers who like to grouse about the way things used to be. Recently they sort of fancied up the place, taking out the picnic benches and adding those high round tables and stools like you see in airport snack bars, but it's still a dive. Mon-Wed. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Thu. 11 a.m.-midnight, Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Sun. 1 p.m.-8 p.m.

Zion

1802 E Seventh Ave., 248-3834.

In a tiny space that used to be a back room at Carmine's, a funky little bar has appeared. Good place to sit and people watch, as it's open to the street and feels very connected with the sidewalk scene. Nicely done interior with tile-topped tables. Deejays spinning nightly _ sounds range from hip-hop to reggae to acid jazz. Wed.-Sat. 9 p.m.-3 a.m.

_ Times Staff Writer Mike Canning reviewed Boca.

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