It is no wonder this Ybor City gem has been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Equipped with their very own brewery, Tampa Bay Brewing Company pours some of the best bruskies in town and they don’t stop there. Their cuisine also ranks supreme with their tasty beer expertly cooked into almost all of their delicious dishes. Truthfully, I've never had "bar food" quite like the fantastic fare they serve their loyal (and new) customers. I can think of a few Tampa sports bars who could learn a thing or two from these peeps.
As always, my beau and I began our afternoon at the perfectly dark and relaxed restaurant with their awesome beer sampler. Consisting of all 10 in-house brewed beers with everything from Pale Ales to Porters, there’s no better way to begin any lunch or dinner. My beer sampler routine is as follows: I drink half a glass of one of the many refreshing beers and then simply trade with Chris. We have really mastered the art of beer sampling at this favorite lazy Sunday spot.
It's always perfect timing when our food is delivered. A teensy bit tipsy and therefore, a bit hungrier, these servers are not only friendly and speedy; they are legitimate mind readers with the timing of delivery. Without fail, chicken wings come first when eating here. As with the majority of their menu items, their award winning wings are made with one of their many fine brews. I about lost it when I first found out heat levels are not an option until I tried one. This ultimate heat seeker decided these goodies are worth the milder kick in the mouth. Fried until crispy and dressed in their delightfully tangy Red Eye Ale sauce, these jumbo meaty wings are outstanding. Inappropriate finger licking tends to follow the devouring of these dangerously good football “snacks.”
On this particular Sunday, I was having a little craving for some soup. Tampa Bay Brewing Company’s soup selection includes French Onion, Beer cheddar, seasonal special and gumbo. Although I had thoroughly enjoyed the beer cheddar on a prior visit, the gumbo called my name. Having been to N'awlins and tasted the best gumbo in the world, I am one tough critic. I was expecting to be disappointed. Let me tell you, there was nothing disappointing about this gumbo! With a semi dark roux, this rich and thick Creole stew came heaping with tons of Andouille and chicken. Flawlessly salted and “kicked-up” with cayenne, there was only one discrepancy; there was no rice….and that didn’t bother me one bit.
Although they offer scrumptious sandwiches, super tasty pizzas and surprisingly stellar salads, we find it very difficult not to order the staples. These never fail go-to meals just so happen to be the two dishes Guy Fieri drooled over on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Chris always orders the meatloaf. Yes, you read correctly. Their wild mushroom demi sauced, bacon wrapped meatloaf is definitely not your mama's meatloaf! Heck, it's not like any meatloaf I've ever had. So ridiculously moist and flavorful, this luscious loaf is made with chopped sirloin and cooked with their 12% alc. Moosekiller barleywine ale. It is then topped with super crispy black and tan fried onion strings and placed in a pool of whipped white cheddar mashed potatoes and a rich mushroom demi glace. It is truly one sinfully good comfort food classic.
My other staple is the Wild Warthog Spicy Thai Coconut Curry PEI mussels over your choice of udon noodles or french bread. Because I am a “noodle head,” I always opt for the udon. The aromatic, creamy and spicy curry broth is infused with their Wild Warthog Weizen and loaded with super fresh PEI mussels, red onion and tomato. The noodles almost turn this dish into a soup of sorts-requiring both spoon and fork. I have been known to pick up the large bowl and slurp up the remaining broth. Yes, it is that good. Classy, I know.
Tampa Bay Brewing Company is a sure thing. Their beers are crazy cold and expertly crafted; their food is amazingly awesome and their service is splendid. With a menu full of not so standard bar grub like fried pierogis, Goat cheese pomace and a Chile roja bison burger, you can expect (and eat) the unexpected.