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The party's at Ybor

Got a craving for Cuban food? Hankering for a good cigar bar? Wondering where the dancing's at? Come down to Seventh and Eighth avenues in Ybor City.

By BABITA PERSAUD, AMY ABBOTT and MICHAEL CANNING

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 25, 2001


For businesses serving food, we use the following price guide based on meals for two:

$ Inexpensive, less than $25

$$ Moderate, $25-$50

$$$ Expensive, $5 and up

* * *

It is pronounced "EE-bor" but 'round here, it's known as "Y-bar" because of the wealth of clubs, restaurants and nightspots. A majority are along Seventh and Eighth avenues and in the new Centro Ybor entertainment complex at 1600 E Eighth Ave.

How do you keep them straight? Use our selective guide:

Cuban fare

Carmine's: 1802 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-3834. The old standby for Cuban and Italian food is open late with a full menu. $

Castillo's Cafe: 1823 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-1306. Spanish-Cuban cafeteria spiced with live bands most weekends. $

La Tropicana Cafe: 1822 E Seventh Ave. (813) 247-4040. Cuban cafe whose clientele feasts on politics with their Cuban sandwiches and cafe con leche. Drive-through window. $

Coffee

El Molino Gourmet Coffee and Gifts: 2012 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-2521. Connected to the historic Naviera Coffee Mill. $

Joffrey's Coffee Co.: 1616 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-5282. Coffee hangout. $

Seventh Heaven Psychic Cafe: 1725 E Seventh Ave. (813) 242-0400. Get fortune told while you munch on salads, sandwiches and pasta or drink coffee. $

Starbucks: Centro Ybor, Suite E100. (813) 241-4457. Famed chain coffee shop. $

Casual dining

Big Mouth: Centro Ybor, Suite 102. (813) 241-8845. Oversized burgers and salads. $

Cafe Creole: 1330 E Ninth Ave. (813) 247-6283. Gumbo and crawfish in the historic El Pasaje building. $$

Cafe Mezzanotte: Centro Ybor, Suite A123. (813) 242-4885. Trendy Italian. $$

Cherry's: 1512 E Seventh Ave. (813) 247-4541. Hamburgers, fries and jukebox music. $

Dish: Centro Ybor. (813) 241-8300. Pick your own veggies, sauce and meat (or fish or chicken), then watch a cook prepare it all on a circular grill. $$

La Terrazza Restaurant: 1727 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-1326. Intimate restaurant with Northern Italian cuisine. $$

Moses White & Sons BBQ: 1815 E Seventh Ave. (813) 247-7544. Friendly family barbecue with deep Tampa roots. The collard greens are a highlight. $

Ovo Cafe: 1901 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-6979. A chi-chi late-night watering hole with pierogies, martinis and waffles the way Mom should have made them, with a dash of liqueur and a dollop of ice cream. $$

Spaghetti Warehouse: 1911 N 13th St. (813) 248-1720. Americanized Italian fare popular with families. $

Sushi on 7th: 1919 E Seventh Ave. (813) 247-8744. American and Japanese pop culture collide in an unlikely formula that actually works. $$

Ybor City Diner: 1724 E Seventh Ave. (813)248-2828. It really is a diner; they serve breakfast all the time. 1950s icons decorate the walls. Open late.

Ybor Market: 1632 E Seventh Ave. Open-air bazaar of food and goods, including hemp necklaces, pipes, jewelry. Music on the patio toward the back.

Upscale dining

Bernini: 1702 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-0099. Oooh, the serpentine copper bar and the big plates of pasta whizzing by. Cozy upstairs cigar and martini bar.

Big City Tavern: Centro Ybor. (813) 247-3000. Housed in the 88-year-old Centro Espanol building. New American cuisine created by chef Matthew Ries, formerly of New York's Russian Tea Room. $$$

The Columbia Restaurant: 2117 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-4961. In Ybor City since 1905. Spanish tile, old-world ambience. The red lounge with the doll hutches is a prodigy of cool-weird decor and a great place to whisper into someone's ear. Flamenco show in the main dining room nightly except Sundays, and a cigar bar in the cafe on the restaurant's east side. $$

High-energy dance

Amphitheater: 1609 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-2331. Revolving dance floor disco. Dress code enforced. VIP rooms and oxygen bar.

The Castle: 2004 N 16th St. (813) 247-7547. Dance club with a gothic-inspired space with iron candelabra, bare brick walls and a stream running through the stone-topped bar.

Club 1509: 1509 E Eighth Ave. (813) 247-6606. Elegant disco with cushy couches, laser lights, wooden Georgian-style bars and an elevated stage and upstairs lounge/balcony.

Club Hedo: 1510 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-4336. This tropical themed bar feels like a cross between Hooter's and the set of Joe Versus the Volcano.

Club Prana: 1619 E Seventh Ave. (813) 241-4139. Posh nightclub with two floors.

Empire: 1902 E Seventh Ave. (813) 247-2582. House-techno-hip-hop-and-booty.

Full Moon Saloon: 1613 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-3309. Walk into an open air courtyard (or drinking yard).

FUN: 1507 E Seventh Ave. (813) 247-6234. Hi-tech, stylish nightclub.

Kaos: 1812 N 17th St. (813) 241-8818. Warehouse-y postmodern nightclub, with a hip-hop patio out back.

La Cuerva: 1707 E Eighth Ave. (813) 242-4249. The place to salsa and merengue.

La Femme Buvette: 1320 E Ninth Ave. (813) 247-9966. Caters to women of all persuasions (but sympathetic men can get in, too).

Masquerade: 1503 E Seventh Ave. (813) 247-3319. Renovated Ritz Theater, Masquerade has become the grande dame of Tampa alternative clubs.

Platforms: 1625 E Seventh Ave. (813) 241-6603. Top 40 '70s dance spot.

Pleasuredome: 1430 E Seventh Ave. (813) 247-2711. Two nightclubs: hip-hop/booty dance floor and adjoining lounge called Velvet.

Live music

Atomic Age Cafe: 1518 E Seventh Ave. (813) 247-6547. Greco-Roman theme bar with live music.

Daddy Wigglers: 2015 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-2214. Bar with live blues and rock music.

Frankie's Patio: 1920 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-3337. A sprawling concert venue and restaurant with American favorites on the menu. Downstairs patio sports. Upstairs patio has a canopied bar and commanding view of Seventh Avenue. $

Harpo's: 1805 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-4814. Movie star-theme dance club with indoor and outdoor stages playing Top 40 and oldies.

Orpheum: 1902 Avenida Republica de Cuba. (813) 248-9500. This perfectly sized live music venue, all bricks and dim light, has emerged as the cradle of local poets and musicians.

Green Iguana: 1708 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-9555. Key West meets Bennigan's, including some of the best vegetarian food in Ybor. $

The Irish Pub: 1721 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-2099. Looks like it could have been airlifted from O'Connell Street. Pub grub, college crowd. $

James Joyce Irish Pub: 17041/2 (upstairs) E Seventh Ave. (813) 247-1896. Darts, alcohol, throw in a grand literary figure and what else could you need?

New World Brewery: 1313 E Eighth Ave. (813) 248-4969. House beers are brewed on site; thin crust pizzas are baked on site. $

The Rare Olive: 1601 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-2333. Small, but can really heat up when jazz bands start up.

'Bar' bars

Adobe Gila's: Centro Ybor. (813) 241-8588. Balcony bar with bird's-eye view of Seventh Avenue. Drinks only.

Bar: 1401 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-3422. "No Theme, Just Bar," says advertisement. College crowd. Girls do the bump and grind on the countertops.

Fat Tuesday: 1722 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-9755. Did somebody say frozen daiquiris? Why yes, they did -- 17 kinds in all. $

Spurs: 1915 E Seventh Ave. (813) 247-7787. Boot scootin'.

Tahiti Joe's: 1327 E Seventh Ave. (813) 248-5533. Faux palm trees and staffers decked in Hawaiian shirts and khakis, '70s, '80s and '90s Top 40.

Laid-back pubs

Fuma Bella: 1318 E Eighth Ave. (813) 248-6130. It means "beautiful smoke." This tiny bar is serious about two things: cigars (modest selection) and single malt scotches (21 brands).

Tampa Bay Brewing Company: 1812 N 15th St.; (813) 247-1422. "Home" beers brewed on premises. Also "guest" beers, sandwiches and burgers. $

Entertainment

GameWorks; Centro Ybor. (813) 241-9675. Hi-tech arcade with 120 games, specialized martinis, monitors to watch the game. Two bars and full-scale restaurant, Jax's, inside. $$

Improv Comedy Club: Centro Ybor, Suite C-112. (813) 864-4000. National comedy chain in the brick building where the Grand Spanish Theater showed movies in the 1930s.

Muvico Majestic 20: Centro Ybor. (813) 242-0664. Megaplex with special section that serves drinks and sushi.$

- Compiled by Times staff writers Babita Persaud, Amy Abbott and Michael Canning

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