The Bucs, the Rays and Tampa Bay: Top 5 sports bars in the Tampa Bay area

I was never much for traditional sports when I was younger. While I was heavily involved in equestrian sports as a youth, I was the girl that dodged the softball… and put a basketball through where? You've got to be kidding! I attended one football game throughout my entire four years of high school and I only did that because the foreign exchange student that I'd befriended wanted to go. Needless to say, I knew absolutely nothing about sports.

Mind you, this wasn't due to my family. My father had been involved in motorcycle racing, riding for Harley Davidson until he was severely injured in a race. He was also an avid hockey nut (I think it's in the blood of all Canadians) and was proud of the fact that he could still fill in as goalie when the local college kids practiced. "Didn't believe your old man could still move like that, did you?" That was his favorite thing to ask me whenever he came off the ice. Yes, he loved his hockey.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Jacksonville Jaguars at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida.
Wikipedia Commons

My mother wasn't as big a sports fan, though I do remember her grumbling at the Detroit Tigers on and off, and she really got into the Detroit Redwings during the Finals. Other than that, though, she wasn't much more interested in Sports than I was. Of course, little did I know, this would change with a move to Florida.

Getting into the Game in Tampa Bay

It's hard to go anywhere in the Tampa Bay area and not run into fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; they're everywhere. At first, I had no clue what the skull and crossbones symbol was that everyone was sporting. Sure, it had something to do with pirates, but why did it seem like everyone in Florida had a bumpersticker or a tee-shirt or a flag hanging out their car window with this black and red design? I finally questioned my mom and was informed this was the symbol of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I might have well as tattooed "TOURIST" across my forehead. I was clueless.

As a Florida resident, I've since become more acquainted with the local teams. While there's the Miami Dolphins over on the east coast, the Tampa Bay area has the Buccaneers (football), the Tampa Bay Rays (Baseball) and Tampa Bay Lightning (hockey). You can't help but get at least a little interested in sports, once you see such an outpouring of support for the local athletes. Some of the places where this is most evident are the sports bars - local hangouts where people can grab a beer, enjoy some wings and catch some of the latest games on big screen TV. If you live in Florida, or you plan on visiting in the near future, be sure to check out these great sports bars in the Tampa Bay area:

Top Five Sports Bars to Visit in Tampa Bay

The Sports Bar and Grill: One of the top contenders for best sports bar in the Tampa Bay area is The Sports Bar and Grill, located in Seminole, Florida. Offering great specials like 35 cent wings on Sunday and Monday nights, this is an engaging bar that's filled with friendly faces and good eats. The service is top-notch and the delicious food is served in reasonably-priced large portions (very important, these days). Some great menu highlights include a delicious Smoked Cheese Spread, Black and Tan Beer Battered Onion Rings, the Linebacker burger or, from the Field of Greens, the Black Angus Steak Salad is a treat you don't see every day. The best thing about this sports bar is that, while it's one of the best around, it doesn't get too crowded. All-around, it has a great enjoyable atmosphere.

Rudy's Sports Cafe: If you're a Pittsburg Steelers fan, Rudy's Sports Cafe is certainly your hangout in the Tampa Bay area. Even if you're not a Steelers fan, the friendly service and the diversity of the crowd will make you feel welcome. This Largo sports bar is geared a little more towards the younger set and the place is always packed with people, making it an awesome weekend hangout or a good place to stop for a beer after work. Their menu is pretty simple, but the food is good and reasonably priced. A major draw is their free-play no limit Texas Hold 'Em poker tournaments, complete with great prizes. Sign-ups start an hour before the cards drop, so don't be late!

Sneaky's Sports Bar & Grill: Another hot spot for the sports fan is Sneaky's Sports Bar & Grill, located in Largo, Florida. Offering 34 monitors and 12 big screens for the sports enthusiast, what makes this bar special is that they go out of their way to get some of the more hard-to-get events that many of the other sports bars ignore. Sneaky's bar also caters to the NASCAR fan, including throwing a Talladega Race party and offering great NASCAR Sunday sports specials. Their bucket of beer is reasonably priced at 5 domestics for only $9.50 and most draft beers will only run you $1.50 a mug. The food is great and they have lots of delicious appetizers like loaded french fries, piled high with cheese, bacon, green onions and sour cream. Yum! Always packed with people, Sneaky's also has Free Texas Hold 'Em with no limits on Saturday and Sunday nights.

Tiger's Sports Bar: This is the hangout spot for the karaoke fan, with an open mic night and offering karaoke every Wednesday through Saturday. Tiger's Sports bar, located in Largo, Florida, is a great place to relax with friend and it's an awesome spot if you love your games. Video bowling, pool, darts and a Texas Hold 'Em night, there's a little something for everyone. We think Thursdays are the best nights, with 2 for 1 wells and domestic drafts for the ladies. Tiger's bar has a great menu too - Be sure to check out their house specialty: Captain Crunch Fingers for only $6.00.

Mugs & Jugs Sports Bar: Located in Largo, Florida, Mugs & Jugs features cold beer, hot wings and a sizzling fajita special that you can't pass up. One of the best places to eat in the Tampa Bay area, they are very reasonably priced and the portions are generous (just imagine a juicy steak, cooked how you like it, and two sides for only $5.99). Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans love Mugs & Jugs too; they have free ticket giveaways for all Bucs away games. Definitely one of my favorite spots to eat in Tampa Bay, I highly recommend their chicken wings - consistently voted the best in Tampa Bay since 1999.

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Updated Thursday, Nov 18, 2010