Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill sprang from humble beginnings. 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.
Owner Mark 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.
Owned in part by former Heat star Matt Geiger, Courtside Grille reflects its dedication to sports with its distinctive logo: four sleek, intersecting streaks forming a stylized basketball. The crest can be found in every area of the restaurant, whether glowing white against the brick walls, or hanging over the bar as a light fixture. In the dining room, guests share piping-hot flatbreads and bites of burgers, pork chops, or Caribbean-style glazed salmon while betting their antique spoon collections on sports games broadcast on the 24 TVs.
Conceived by Las Vegas restaurateur Mark DiMartino, Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery evokes Ireland by way of Vegas, with waitresses dressed in plaid mini kilts shouldering trays of chilled beer and pub fare. Like an enchilada stuffed with four-leaf clovers, the eatery’s Irish nachos interpret a south-of-the-border classic in a Celtic way, slathering potato chips in cheese sauce and seasoned ground beef; alternatively, pot roast and vegetables simmer traditionally in the Olde Dublin Irish stew’s Guinness-infused beef stock. Barkeeps pour a full bar’s worth of wine, cocktails, and beer, which surfaces in bottles, bombers, and multi-brew mixes such as the Blue Moon and Guinness combination. High-definition TVs glow with a ceaseless parade of professional and college baseball, basketball, and hockey, and live bands add to the entertainment smorgasbord on Monday nights.
Besides being a sports-bar and grill, Peabody’s Billiard and Games racks up good times in the triangle of pool tables, dartboards, and foosball. Of course, the 70 TVs and on-premises liquor store don’t hurt either. Periodic all-you-can-drink happy hours and other special events take place every week, offering table athletes of all stripes an arena for friendly competition. Patrons might square off in the weekly beer-pong rally, or pit their psychic skills against each other in the weekly poker tournaments. All the while, the kitchen bustles into the night, preparing late night items using only the freshest ingredients such as the Southern-style fried calamari and Peabody’s signature wings in one of nine sauces.
At Ocean Blue's Sushi Bar, sushi chefs assiduously assemble 50 raw and cooked maki options. Though focused on crafting seafood-filled rolls like the salmon skin—a medley of tempura salmon skin, chive, and cucumber with spicy aioli—chefs accommodate different tastes and dietary restrictions, too. For meat lovers there's the steak-and-cheese maki, which features a blend of teriyaki steak, cream cheese, and fried onions, while vegans can enjoy the aptly named vegan roll, a crunchy medley of asparagus and cucumber with creamy avocado.
Ocean Blue's menu also encompasses other Japanese favorites, from teriyaki scallops to pork dumplings paired with ginger shoyu sauce. Around 10 p.m., the fine dining atmosphere gives way to a club-like vibe, where the eclectic festivities last nightly until at least 2 a.m. Often presided over by live DJs, the bar's special events include Latin nights and 90s-themed dance parties, where patrons don outfits made entirely from K'Nex.
Eddie's Bar & Grill, crowned as one of Tampa Tribune's Top Five Sports Bars of 2010, bustles as servers pass the eclectic menu's home-cooked dishes into athletic enthusiasts’ awaiting mouth end zones. Beer-battered buffalo burgers stampede across taste bud prairies, kicking up hot, medium, or mild sauce clouds that swirl with minced celery and blue cheese ($8.99). Roma tomatoes float upon waves of mozzarella and parmesan, which lap against an olive-oil-brushed shore in the margarita flatbread pizza ($12.99 for a full, $6.99 for a personal); thai sauce, lime, cilantro, and wasabi mayo stream through schools of Asian fish tacos ($13.99).