Downtown Tampa

Tampa, Florida

The Hub may dominate the downtown Tampa dive bar scene but there is a surprisingly deep set of options for those making a day (or night) of a trip downtown.
Beck Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Interior
As with any major metropolitan area, downtown Tampa does not lack for options, and though the area isn’t quite as densely packed as far as urban centers go, there’s a lot of run-of-the-mill crap to wade through in search of a cheap meal or a good dive. I will admit that the itinerary below involves a little bit of backtracking for the sole purpose of ensuring that Tampa institute The Hub served as the crawl’s end destination, an absolute requirement given the uber-generous liquor pours that have made the Hub a dive bar institution.

Thankfully, Yoke White & Associates provides the perfect bookend to start the trip, an early hours-only food cart (not even a truck, really) stationed in one of Tampa’s downtown pedestrian parks. In between, a handful of bars, dives and breweries have been selected here to provide maximum authenticity with the least amount of extraneous walking (the horror).

And it must be said that though Tiny Tap Tavern is a bit too fair afield of downtown Tampa proper to include here, consider it an honorary mention or bonus selection that I cannot recommend highly enough as the capper to any trip, let alone a dive bar and brewery crawl through downtown Tampa. If The Hub doesn’t knock you out, Tiny Tap beckons.

The Stops

1. Retreat

123 S Hyde Park Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
Google Map
(813) 254-2014
Web Site Link

Across the river and dangerously close to overly-posh Oxford Exchange (a building as if a bookstore and a Nordstrom’s had a baby), Retreat features one of the great bar murals in Tampa, a collection of stylized drinkers opposite the bar. Originally opened in 1938, Retreat is now on its second iteration, thankfully with original mural both celebrated and intact.

2. Hattricks

107 S Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602
Google Map
(813) 225-4288
Web Site Link

Shocker, Hattricks is a sports bar, but Tampa’s best to be sure, a tribute to hockey housed in a building that feels as if it might predate the city’s team. There are jerseys and banners and ubiquitous televisions throughout, of course, but this is a sports bar that feels authentic to the city rather than a copy of the local BW3.

3. Yeoman's

202 N Morgan St, Tampa, FL 33602
Google Map
(813) 224-9367
Web Site Link

Yeoman's has seen an interesting evolution over its life in downtown Tampa with roots as an old-school British tavern that have now grown to include a partnership with the TopGolf Swing Suite just behind the main bar. When the weather cooperates, Yeoman's transforms into a vibrant, open air beer garden of sorts that serves as an entree to gamified golf.

4. The Anchor Bar

514 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602
Google Map
(813) 223-6050
Web Site Link

The Anchor Bar is the downtown winner for menu items per square foot. A laundry list of offerings are available for this single room dive oriented around a central bar and not a whole lot else. Laying a founding for The Hub is a good idea at this point, with wings, as you might expect, one of the primary answers to that call.

5. The Hub

719 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602
Google Map
(813) 229-1553

The no-doubt high point of this bar crawl is Tampa’s downtown dive bar king, The Hub, where liquor pours have staggered many a local and visitor alike since 1949. Featuring some seriously impressive downtown, corner spot red neon above the door, the light serves as a siren to the area that surrounds it, funneling drinkers inside. A fairly stark interior features a large horseshoe-shaped bar and ample seating that at times gives way to live music.

6. Magnanimous Brewing

1420 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33602
Google Map
(813) 415-3671
Web Site Link

For those brave enough to continue a bar crawl after a cauldron of liquor at The Hub, Magnanimous Brewing is definitely a change in atmosphere. An ornate metal door provides entry to an ambiance that borders on minimalist though the zombie Michael Jackson mural disrupts the rather serene palette inside. Beer varieties here expand into the very hipster-friendly hazy & sour varieties, but they are delicious no matter the audience they attract.

7. Hidden Springs Ale Works

1631 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602
Google Map
(813) 226-2739
Web Site Link

Though Cigar City may be the more widely known Tampa brewery, Hidden Springs is in the running for local favorite. The beer menu is typically extensive, owing to the on-site brewery on the other side of the taproom wall. Though Hidden Springs features an extensive selection of sours, this is a full-spectrum brewery with a logo that features a stork in a top hat as icing on the cake.

8. Tiny Tap Tavern

2105 W Morrison Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
Google Map
(813) 254-3872

Though it doesn’t exist on the map for truly downtown-based offerings, the excursion to south Tampa is well worth the drive for maybe Tampa’s best dive bar. Occupying a converted gas station and open since 1951, Tiny Tap feels like drinking in the best possible shoebox, a drop ceiling dominated single room rectangle dominated by a bar and pool table. Sold in 2019, the dive bar’s existing owners have done the best possible thing new owners can do to a purchased dive bar: nothing.

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