Sometimes one room is enough.
Tampa can be a bit of a sprawl, a collection of causeways and distinctly different cities lumped under a singular but misguiding heading. And that means downtown Tampa can sometimes be overlooked for the stretches of beach and road that spiral in every direction. But there are gems to be found there, including Anchor Bar, one of two Tampa locations and a bit of a dive with a legitimately impressive food menu.
Anchor Bar is the type of downtown bar that you duck into the midst of walking from one spot to another, but the small layout does nothing if not facilitate conversation with the others ducked into the same spot. The space is made up of a single room with a U-shaped bar in the middle, a handful of high top tables ringing the area. Grand total, there may be room for 25 to 30 seated drinkers, a nice natural cap to an afternoon drinking session.
Distinct is the food menu, with options that number past the typical dive bar menu but feature comforting favorites that pair well with alcohol (wings, wings, also wings). With downtown neighbor The Hub (famously stiff liquor pours) just a few blocks away, the opportunity to build a food foundation at Anchor Bar is an important one. The draft beer selection also packs a punch for the size of the dive, with local beers mixed in with every beer you’d expect out of a tiny bar like Anchor Bar.
Deep brown wood paneling lines the space, with Christmas lights following along the top border. An abundance of screens are packed along the walls, interspersed with a handful of nautically-themed decorations. Every inch of the place is packed with all of the elements of a good sports bar, but in a single room and covered in a thin layer of dive that adds the dose of authenticity and approachability to prevents Anchor Bar from feeling like a mini-BW3.
And that’s really the magic of the Anchor Bar experience, like a one-room schoolhouse built on wings and a good beer selection. For downtown Tampa, the service provided is an important one, offering a place to either duck out of the heat for a quick beer or duck out your life completely for a bit without driving across any causeways.