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.
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.
Emilio's is one of St. Petersburg's newest additions, offering denizens a sampling of fine coffee, pastries, paninis, burgers, and more. Light the flare on flavor landing strips with Emilio's bottomless cup of blend roasted coffee ($1.50) and the morning-making berry parfait similar to earth's interior of layered crunchy granola and berries atop Greek yogurt and honey ($4.99). The baguette blanche treats midday diners to a medley of savories masked in the makeup of stacked turkey, grilled mushrooms, caramelized onions, cream cheese, and pesto ($7.99), and the roasted red-pepper and goat-cheese panini adds a dash of zest with fresh basil, red onions, and a zigzag of balsamic vinegar ($9.99). Unlike stuffed animals, stuffed burgers won't fight back when bit and can be filled with a variety of tasties such as applewood smoked bacon, sundried tomatoes, pesto, and brie ($10.99). Pair meals with one of the restaurant's many wines or craft beers.
Ruby's speakeasy-style cantina slings frothy brews and heady cocktails against the velvety melodies of live jazz and blues crooners. Jazz jams on Monday nights highlight some of the area's most notable brass blowers, providing a stellar soundtrack for sipping on a slew of bottled beers ($2.95–$5.95), voluptuous vinos ($6.95 / house wines, $10.95 / upper-level varietals), and craft suds and ciders from Magic Hat, Stella Artois, and Strongbow ($4.95). Air-trumpet along to the infectious melodies bursting from Lounge Cat's weekly sets while raising a spiced-pear or espresso martini ($8.95) to the Ruby's pin-up style décor and bronzed collection of discarded mouthpieces and pork-pie hats.
At Crowley's Downtown, traditional Irish meals commence with an authentic plate of Irish bangers ($6.50), paired with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy. Go entreeing with the slammin' cod sandwich ($9), with Guinness-battered fried cod gently hugged by bread. After 4 p.m., the traditional Irish stew ($13.50) quiets grumbling tummies with a brimming mix of lamb, potatoes, and carrots. For dessert, liquor and cheesecake combine superpowers like Captain Planet receiving an eye transplant from Cyclops to form the unstoppable Bailey's Irish cheesecake ($5). Barley buffs can comb the pub's page-turning beer list, which includes Irish specialties like Magners Irish Cider and Murphy's Irish Stout, as well as a few American variations, such as Rogue Shakespeare Stout, a creamy, mellow beer.
The Moon Under Water's kitchen is helmed by executive chef Michael Crippin, who was born in England and received his culinary training in London. Mr. Crippin has gone on to whip up artful sustenance for a variety of celebrities, including Madonna, Bruce Willis, Prince Charles, and William Howard Taft. His culinary style intermingles British and Indian flavors, which can be found on The Moon's menu.