Crum's Bar and Grill regales visitors with hearty feasts of inventive pub cuisine paired with plenty of craft beer and live entertainment. Guests belly up to the bar to sample 52 lagers, ciders, stouts, and IPAs on draft, or commune with the spirits of our sandwich-hunting ancestors while watching juicy burgers cook over an open fire. Regularly scheduled entertainment—from Thursday karaoke operas to live bands on weekends—adds a musical touch to meals, and dart boards and Xboxes release reserves of competitive energy.
A cultural fixture in the islands of the South Pacific, kava is derived from the roots of the Piper methysticum, and is typically consumed at a nakamal, or central village meeting area. Bula Kafe transports these traditions to the shores of the Florida Gulf, filling coconut shells with the cool beverage and serving them at its outdoor commons. Known for its medicinal properties, the kava root is first ground into powder and then steeped in water, resulting in an elixir that helps calm the body and relieve anxiety brought on by a phobia of dry powder. Along with traditional kava beverages, the bamboo-framed hut purveys such hot and cold delights as spiced chai, fruit smoothies, and frozen horchata.
Set amid an all-outdoor bar, Bula Kafe turns up the fans during hot months and warms its barstools with space heaters and tiki torches during the winter. Throughout the entire year, guests enjoy bouts of table tennis and darts, or compete in high-stakes sessions of board games such as Apples to Apples and Battleship as others strum on acoustic guitars, sip silently as they read a book, or surf the internet on free WiFi. Though the listed closing times are midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends, the staff is known for accommodating late revelers with advance notice.
Woody's Waterfront Cafe, built on an inlet off the Gulf of Mexico, regales guests with vintage 1960's beach-bar vibes and scenic views, shimmying up a menu of casual American fare and ice-cold drinks. Commence the evening with one of Woody's basket cases, which nestle a bushel's worth of plain or spicy fries next to bite-sized morsels of chicken, shrimp, clams, or wings ($8.75–$12.50). Otherwise, the burgers—half-pound patties of grilled chuck cooked to preference—make for hearty handheld eats and surprisingly accurate discuses ($7/50–$8.45), and the cheese-topped surfin' steak sandwich snares shaved slices of grilled sirloin and veggies within the soft embrace of a bun ($8.25). Woody's chefs also sizzle up mahi-mahi steak, which comes blackened, grilled, or fried, and plated with a choice of two sides ($12.95). At the full bar, bartenders sling draft and bottled beer, as well as a bevy of frozen mixed drinks that include mudslides authentically prepared with the mire from Mt. Oreo's historic avalanche.
It might seem that the owner of Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill, Mark Ferguson, has it made in the shade—the shade of Tropicana Field, that is. The home of the Tampa Bay Rays towers across the street, forever funneling swarms of fans through the bar’s doors and hiding it from hungry giants. But his winding up in a sports bar’s ideal location was no accident, and it certainly didn't come easy. Lane DeGregory chronicled the bar's history in a 2008 feature in the Tampa Bay Times, noting that it took the former middle-school gym coach "17 years, countless kegs, three pro sports teams and a decade of sorry baseball to build his empire." While the stadium sat empty, Ferguson sponsored local softball, flag-football, and basketball leagues in the rundown downtown area once known as the “Gas Plant District." Luckily for Ferguson, it wasn't long until Tropicana Field filled with cheers for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Storm, and, eventually, Rays.
What started in 1992 as a concrete-block space with 75 seats has since grown into a two-story establishment whose sprawling indoor and outdoor seating areas encompass almost two city blocks. Like the growth of the business, the bar and grill's building materials reflect input from the surrounding community: the wood flooring was compiled from area gymnasiums, and the walls are paneled with hardwood from the old All Children's Hospital.
Ferguson continues to fuel his success with more than 70 TVs, classic bar eats, and a calendar filled with live-music and trivia nights. In addition to fans, the restaurant has been known to serve renowned politicians and—according to the Tampa Bay Times—Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. Perhaps the duo chose the eatery for its paparazzi-curbing underground tunnel, which leads beneath 1st Avenue South to the stadium.
Max & Sam's Bar & Grill carries on a classic neighborhood-chophouse tradition with hand-cut steaks and seafood served within dark-wood-paneled walls built in 1924 and brushed against by the likes of Al Capone, Marilyn Monroe, and Joe DiMaggio. Under the gaze of jazz-age crooners swirled onto framed canvases, soaking up aromatic inspiration for their next musical meditation on cheese grits, the five-course meal kicks off its culinary set list with parmesan-crusted beef tips or calamari. Bowls of the chef's french-onion or soup du jour, depending on whether jour is in season, set the scene for a simple house salad of mixed greens and veggies.
When searching for the perfect place to open up their new eatery, Fish Tales Seafood & Steak House owners Dan and Peggy Wesner got all the way to the edge of the ocean, threw up their arms, and said, "good enough." Today, their endeavor has paid off, and diners from near and far come to feast on the restaurant's flaky fish sandwiches. Each day, the kitchen releases its bounty of freshly caught whitefish and tuna onto plates, serving it in steak, fillet, or sandwich form. Chefs also assemble steak, chicken, and salmon into skillets, which arrive to tables chock-full of potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and green beans.
Fish Tale’s marina-side location attracts visitors from water and land, with room to dock your sailboat or warmongering naval flotilla. Wooden benches and tiki accoutrements adorn the dining room, and bartenders at the eatery’s two waterfront bars dispense a bevy of frosty brews.