Tampa, Florida is a very good sports town and has the sports bars to prove it.
With warm weather all year long, Tampa is a bit of a recreational sports mecca. Tampa has great public golf courses, for example, as reviewed here. Tampa has also a very good paintball scene, with paintball fields throughout the area, as reviewed here.
Of course, the warm weather turns to hot weather, particularly during the summer months, and as a result, Tampa’s indoor pursuits are popular as well.
Tampa’s strip clubs, for example, are known as being among the best in the country. And while not exactly a hotbed for it, Tampa offers some good bowling alleys as well, as reviewed here.
But for many sports fans, nothing is more popular than a great sports bar. The following are my four favorite sports bars in Tampa, Florida.
Walters Press Box
222 South Dale Mabry Highway
Located only a couple of miles from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stadium and the New York Yankees spring training home, Walters Press Box is about as straight ahead a sports bar that you will find, whether in Tampa or anywhere. With 23 televisions, they offer decent food, very inexpensive drinks, a friendly atmosphere and more sports than you can ever consume.
Despite its no frills approach (or maybe because of it), Walters Press Box has developed a strong following among local professional athletes. In fact, it often hosts “Meet a Buccaneer Night” when a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is there to greet patrons. This is a perfect place for a hardcore sports fan looking to enjoy some affordable fun while watching the game.
1339 East Fletcher Avenue
Tampa Bay, Florida
In some ways the polar opposite of Walters Press Box, Legends Sports is the personification of the ‘night club sports bar’ theme that so many of the newer sports bars have.
It’s a sports bar first and foremost; the over 30 televisions including 3X10′ projection screens attest to that. But there is something for everybody here as, particularly at night, Legends Sports is also a place with a club like atmosphere, with loud music, sexy waitresses and dancing. Thursday nights are ladies’ nights as women drink for free.
The food is pretty basic, not the highlight but not bad either. Legends Sports is known for its wide and interesting mixed drink selection, and has become a local favorite for cocktails.
1600 East 8th Avenue
I was a bit skeptical when visiting the Rock-N-Sports Bar and Grille.
My hesitation was based on its location, which is in Ybor City. Not that Ybor City isn’t a fun place, but it’s more of a younger crowd, party place and I suspected that the Rock-N-Sports Bar and Grille might be just like any other Ybor City bar with a sports theme.
I needn’t have worried.
While it is loud and slick, this is a great place to go and watch sports. Think of it as the middle ground between Walters Press Box and Legends Sports. With over 35 televisions and every TV sports package known to man, you will be able to watch whatever out of town event (or in town event) that you’d like to and do it in comfort and style.
Of particular interest here is the retractable roof that allows for the main dining area to be converted into an outdoor seating or indoor seating section depending on the weather. They host a number of ‘foootball clubs’ that caters to people from out of town (Tampa has a lot of people originally from another place) to congregate with their fellow fans to watch the NFL or college game of their choice. The Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints are the two most prominent NFL football fan clubs and Auburn, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech and Texas A&M are the biggest college football groups here.
The food here is excellent; while the menu looks very similar in terms of typical types of sports bar food, the quality and freshness are clearly a step above typical sports bar fare.
Nina O’s Grill & Bar
4502 South Dale Mabry Highway
Take the televisions out of Nina O’s Grill & Bar and you’d lose a sports bar, but gain a very good restaurant. This is the highest end of all Tampa sports bars, by a wide margin. The food is excellent that goes far beyond the standard sports bar fare that most would expect.
At night, they have all you can eat specials, and many do just that. There are fewer televisions here than in the other places, but given the older crowd, quieter atmosphere and good layout design, you will absolutely see the game. In fact, they offer wireless speakers to each table so you can select the game(s) you want to listen to. The bar is fully stocked with top shelf offerings and the waitstaff is professional, fast and pleasant.
So if you live in the Tampa area, or are visiting for work or pleasure, and are in the mood for a good sports bar there are four very high quality, if highly different, options right within the city proper.