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Where to watch
Don't want to watch the big game at home?
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published January 8, 2007
Don't want to watch the big game at home? Well, before you decide where you want to go, make sure you consider:
No matter how cheap the beer is, how great the televisions are positioned or how wonderful the service is, nothing ruins a night watching a great game more efficiently than bad food.
Sports fans usually aren't all that discerning. Heck, they made the chicken wing popular. But times are changing. And to complete the whole experience, sports bars now offer wide and varied menus.
Lee Roy Selmon's locations in South Tampa, New Tampa, Largo, St. Petersburg, which is more restaurant than traditional sports bar but is a popular Sunday NFL hangout, may be tops in the area, with succulent ribs, delicious soul-good pulled pork and meatloaf that's better than your mother's.
But there are plenty of others that meet our culinary standards of variety and freshness.
Okay, so who are we kidding? Give us chicken wings!
The best around: Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill in St. Petersburg, Beef O'Brady's, WingHouse and Hooters.
Ever go crazy watching a game at home and end up high-fiving your lamp because no one else is there? Then the lamp falls on the ground and breaks, and you have to sweep it up before your wife gets home and hope she doesn't notice it and you miss a big play? Yeah, us neither.
Point is, the bigger the crowd, the more fun a game is to watch. Especially a game of tonight's magnitude.
If you're a Gator fan, you want to be surrounded by your fellow Florida fans. The place to be, then, could just be ... though truth is, this being Florida and all, you should be safe just about anywhere.
The Tampa Gator Club will meet at Cherry's South Tampa Neighborhood Grill. An eyewitness account from Cherry's when Florida won the NCAA basketball title says arrive early and be ready for a "frat house" scene, only worse, which we think might be a compliment.
If you really want to do it up, Gators Cafe and Saloon on Treasure Island says on its Web site (www.gatorscafe.com) the Dixie Hollins Marching Band, cheerleaders and a pregame show will highlight its day.
Fans of Ohio State should check out Mugs 'N Jugs on 66th Street in St. Petersburg, Ricky T's in the Howard Johnson Resort Hotel on St. Pete Beach, Buffalo Wild Wings in Brandon, the Beef O'Brady's in Valrico and Prime Time Sports Grille in Tampa.
Let's be honest - give us cheap beer, decent food and a TV, and we're good.
But sports bars today offer much more. It depends on who you talk to whether this is a good thing or not, but most places offer a few pool tables, some video games and various other distractions. If you're single and there's one of those machines with the claw where you can win a stuffed animal, we suggest you seriously reconsider.
Not that places that cater to the family are all bad (see Barnacles in Brandon, Cherry's in Tampa, any Beef O'Brady's).
If the slicker, newer, more yuppyish sports bars aren't your speed (are we the only ones who can't tell the difference between, say, A.J.'s in Largo, any of the Ale Houses and Brandon's Barnacles, for example?), there's always the venerable Press Box on Dale Mabry. It's old and cozy, and the soles of your shoes will be sticky when you leave.