1. Life & Culture

Bar review: Social House brings old-school sports-bar touch to Tampa

Sometimes you just want a beer. I mean that literally, of course, but it's also a figurative statement. With so many increasingly elaborate and fancy drinking options available throughout the bay area, it can be refreshing to find one that's dead simple: a place to drink, eat, have a chat, watch a game and not a lot else.

This is especially true in Seminole Heights, where you'll find high-end beer bars and breweries mixed among swank cocktail spots and scratch kitchens, with a conspicuous dearth of no-frills establishments in the neighborhood.

This void has recently been filled by Social House, a new sports bar that succeeds by virtue of simplicity, offering a basic, old school experience by design.

Social House is as nondescript as possible from the street, occupying an ordinary-looking building that looks equally ordinary from the inside. And that's the point, as far as I can tell. Sure, there are some vaguely industrial cues, like cement floors and potted plants positioned inexplicably in overhead cages, but the feel of the place is perfectly familiar — a good, honest sports bar.

Not the kind stacked to the rafters in memorabilia and kitsch, just a place where people go to watch a game on endless rows TVs — or on a massive projection screen next to the bar, in this case — and drink some beers. By the pitcher, likely.

Yep, beer pitchers are on the menu for all two dozen draft beers, including some pretty fantastic local brews from places like Green Bench and Hidden Springs. It's a modern take on a well-worn archetype, but by stripping away the clutter and excess and adding in a lot more of what people actually want in 2019, Social House feels both familiar and fresh; classic and current.

Take the food menu as further illustration. Flatbreads and chicken wings are standard options at your typical sports bar, but this one also serves up tacos and salad/rice bowls, adding diversity to the menu without overcomplicating things.

There are house cocktails, too, and those also are kept simple. Think Moscow mule, mai tai and margarita, with a few twists, like the Dickel Daily — Dickel Rye, lemonade and peach tea — a riff on the cocktail named after famous drinker/golfer John Daly, and a refreshing Aperol spritz made with bubbly and OJ.

Of the 32 taps on the wall, only 24 or so are for beer. The rest are for draft wine and draft cocktails. Of the beers available, it's split straight down the middle in terms of big macro brews and domestic crafts.

One notable entry in the former category is Coors Banquet, a beer with an interesting legacy. Back in the '70s, people used to drive cases of it back to Florida from Colorado, since it was unpasteurized and thus only available for consumption in the western market. That's your beer trivia for the day.

Social House has some pretty solid street cred. The trio behind the concept has roots in both hospitality and sports, with industry pros Taylor Caum and Ricky Coston teaming up with friend and former NFL wide receiver Logan Payne to make it happen. Whether this translates into a better sports bar experience is up for debate, but it's certainly pretty cool.

— Contact Justin Grant at Follow @WordsWithJG.

Social House

6310 N Florida Avenue, Tampa. (813) 321-2329

The vibe: A to-the-point sports bar in a hip section of Seminole Heights.

Food: Sides and appetizers, $6-$11; entrées, $9-$12; dessert, $5-$6.

Booze: Beer, wine and liquor. Beer, $4-$6; wine, $8-$9 by the glass and $36 by the bottle; liquor, $6.50-$10.50.

Specialty: Local craft beer in pitchers ought to do the trick, but the cocktails are worth a look, too. Try the Dickel Daily, a spin on the John Daly cocktail — iced tea, lemonade and vodka: a hard Arnold Palmer, if you will — made with Dickel Rye, lemonade and peach tea. If you can't drink it on the golf course, you can at least drink it with golf on TV at the bar.

Hours: 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.