Neighborhood Crawl: Downtown Tampa

Tampa, Florida

All Roads Lead To The Hub

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. Yolk White & Associates

MacDill Park, Tampa, FL, 33602
The official Google address of Yolk White & Associates lists its location as “Unnamed Road,” not the most helpful of descriptions. Stationed in MacDill Park in downtown Tampa along the Riverwalk most mornings (open until 11a), the food cart is famous for its gargantuan portions of egg-based sandwiches, the perfect kind of taunting for early morning joggers. Keep an eye out for the signature white cart with black trim.

2. Retreat

123 S Hyde Park Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
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.

3. Hattricks

107 S Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602
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.

4. Hidden Springs Ale Works

1631 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602
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.

5. The Anchor Bar

514 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602
Now that the egg sandwich from Yolk White & Associates has finally worn off, 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.

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6. The Hub

719 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602
And finally, 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.

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7. Tiny Tap Tavern

2105 W Morrison Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
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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Reviews Along This Route

Pete's Bar - Jacksonville Dive Bar - Neon Sign

The Anchor Bar

Tampa, Florida
One-room beer schoolhouse.
Ginger's Place - Jacksonville Dive Bar - Outside

The Hub

Tampa, Florida
Tampa’s downtown dive.
Harbor Tavern - Jacksonville Dive Bar - Outside

Tiny Tap Tavern

Tampa, Florida
Gas station classic dive.

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