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Tampa and Ybor City Gay Bars Guide

Plus Gay-Friendly Restaurants and Cafés

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An alphabetical list of the best bars and nightclubs, plus a few gay-popular restaurants and cafés, in Tampa and its bustling nightlife district, Ybor City. The third largest (population 335,000) city in the state, and the largest city on Florida's Gulf Coast, Tampa has a sizable gay scene and plenty of GLBT nightspots and is also just a quick drive to the many gay bars and gay-friendly restaurants of St. Petersburg and the other beach cities along the Gulf Coast. Many of them are clustered in historic Ybor City, a neighborhood once dominated by cigar factories that now buzzes with bars and bistros. Others you'll find southwest of downtown, along the Henderson Boulevard corridor.

Tampa Gay Bar Guide - continued on Page 2

1. Baxter's Lounge - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
Baxter's (1519 S. Dale Mabry Hwy., 813-258-8830) is in South Tampa, close to trendy Hyde Park and Bayshore Gardens, is draws plenty of regular with its cheeky (pun intended) amateur strip contests (and professional go-go boys), karaoke nights, and good drink specials. If you're not quite up for venturing to Ybor City's club district, Baxter's is a fun, easy-going alternative.

2. The Body Shop - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
The Body Shop (14905 N. Nebraska Ave., 813-971-3576), formerly known as Keith's, is up in North Tampa and caters mostly to gay guys and some women who live in this area, although a few tourists do venture up this way (or stop by on their way into the city coming from points north on I-75 and I-275). It's a friendly with one very distinguishing feature: the 1970s white Cadillac sticking out of the building facade (the car's rear poke's out of the building's side).

4. The Castle - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
Ybor City's imposing Gothic-exterior nightclub The Castle (2004 N. 16th St., 813-247-7547) - complete with a dungeon bar, saloon, main dance hall, cozy tower bar, and breezy courtyard, hosts different club nights throughout the week, generally drawing a mixed gay-straight crowd. Special events - fetish parties, Halloween, concerns - also sometimes draw a significant number of gay and lesbian patrons.

5. City Side - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
The generous drink specials are a big reason City Side (3703 Henderson Blvd., 813-350-0600), which lies just southwest of downtown, not far from Hyde Park and Bayshore Gardens, is so popular at happy hour. A standby in both the lesbian and gay-male communities since the '90s, the convivial, age-diverse crowd has karaoke, lots of video screens airing sports and gay-popular TV shows, and ample seating.

8. G Bar - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
The historic former cigar-making district of Ybor City, often dubbed "Gaybor City", has several of the region's top gay club, including G Bar (1401 E. 7th Ave., 813-247-1016), which is owned by the same team behind Steam Fridays, Tease Saturdays at Honeypot, and and Ybor City Social Club. This scene-y, 18-and-older bar is one of the top-attended gay hangouts in central Florida, thanks to top-notch decor, DJs, and sound. On Fridays there's a lesbian party at G Bar, while Saturdays it's host to one of the top men's parties around. Other nights of the week, the entertainment ranges from amateur strip contests to electro-house dance parties.

9. Hamburger Mary's - restaurant/gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
The venerable - and very gay - burger franchise Hamburger Mary's (1600 E. 7th Ave., Ybor City, 813-241-6279) has a fun outpost in Ybor City, steps from that historic neighborhood's many GLBT clubs. It's inside Centro Ybor shopping and entertainment center and is a nice option for drinks (they serve until 3 am on weekends) or a full meal. The burgers are obviously a favorite, but Hamburger Mary's also serves creative salads, sandwiches, quesadillas, and a signature dessert: Mary Tyler S'mores. On late Sunday mornings, drop by for the famously dishy and delicious Mary's Drag Brunch & Show.

10. Honey Pot - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
A venue for hugely popular gay dance events on Friday and Saturday nights that are run by the same team behind G Bar and Ybor City Social Club, Honey Pot (1507 E. 7th Ave., 813-247-4663) is a fixture in central Florida's GLBT community. The Steam Fridays parties typically feature porn stars, go-go dancers, and drag queens. While Tease Saturdays are a hugely well-attended lesbian party with dancers and sometimes live performances and appearances by celebs.

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