Thursday, May 22, 2014

Barely legal: The just-turned-21 first-timer’s guide to St. Pete summer pub-hopping.

Posted By on Thu, May 22, 2014 at 2:40 AM

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I've always loved downtown St. Pete, and ever since high school it’s been where I’ve spent most of my Friday nights with friends or family. Whether I go to the movies, eat out on Beach Drive or simply walk around, I always leave appreciating it that much more.

It wasn’t until I turned 21, however, that I realized there was so much more to be done.

I’d never hit up the bar scene or experienced the eccentricity of downtown St. Pete after midnight. To fully appreciate the spectacles that downtown has to offer, I had no other choice than to do a bar crawl. Starting with happy hour and staying ’til last call, I took on downtown St. Pete like a true (read: amateur) 21-year-old.
First stop: The Avenue. It’s always been one of my favorite go-to grub spots, but what I didn’t realize until I was 21 was that it’s also a perfect spot for a TGIF happy hour, with beer and drink specials lasting till 7. I couldn’t have planned a better pre-game to my night if I’d tried. There’s live music on the patio and cornhole out front, and if it hadn’t been for the temptations of the hundreds of beers available at their neighbor, World of Beer, I could’ve spent the entire night there.  
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While I would personally much prefer a World of Wine, World of Beer was a big eye-opener for me. It not only introduced me to several kinds of beers and ciders, but also brought out my inner hipster. By the end of my trip to W.O.B. I was a firm believer that local brews are the Beyoncé of the beer world, and I was even more confident in my completely incorrect usage of terms like “hoppiness” and “pale ales” in all my sentences.

After becoming a self-appointed brewmaster, I figured Yard of Ale would be right up my alley. This taphouse, chock full of craft beers and an accommodating full-liquor bar, is an ideal meeting ground for friends. I was pleasantly surprised to find a bar full of entertainment, including live music and life-sized Jenga, Connect Four and other games. This was one of my favorite places of the night, since it allowed me to actually talk and laugh with my friends rather than scream at them over annoyingly loud music.

It’s also conveniently next door to MacDinton’s, the most crowded of all the places I visited. An indoor/outdoor bar with a dance floor and plenty of tables, it was the perfect combination of bar and club, matching my personal hybrid status of not really being drunk, but not really being sober either. After a round of shots (or three) I was ready to move on to some unconquered territory.

I’ve been to a fair share of bars, but in the club department I’m lacking. I need serious liquid courage to dance in public, but after my previous stops, I was more than prepared. First on my list was Sip Social Lounge, but before stumbling over there, I noticed 260 First, a secluded spot tucked between Yard of Ale and MacDinton’s. After passing the bouncers and door girls who were on guard, I ascended the stairs to find a club awaiting its patrons. I’d arrived far too early; management informed me that the club usually draws in a much later crowd of all ages and types.
After moving on to Sip Social Lounge I found that unlike the bars, most of which were casual, the downtown clubs exuded splendor. With chandeliers, bouncers in suits and bottle service upwards of $200, I quickly neglected my beer budget and indulged in the club lifestyle.

After dancing and drinking at the club, I retreated back to a personally beloved bar, Cafe Del Mar. With drink specials and dimmed lighting to hide the fading makeup, it’s the perfect place to end the night. It’s also only a few doors down from the ever-popular pizza joint, Fortunato’s Italian Market, where if you wait half an hour in line you might spare yourself a hangover the next day.


Amy’s crawl spaces
The Avenue 330 1st Ave. S., theavenuedtsp.com
Cafe Del Mar 243 Central Ave., cafedelmarstpete.com/welcome
Fortunato’s Italian Market 259 Central Ave., fortunatositalianmarket.com
MacDinton’s 242 1st Ave. N., macdintons.com/Downtown-St-Petersburg
Sip Social Lounge 179 1st Ave. N., sipsociallounge.com
260 First 260 1st Ave. N., 260first.com
World Of Beer 100 4th St. S., worldofbeer.com/locations/Downtown-St-Pete
Yard of Ale 260 1st Ave. N., yardofale.com

Other stops on the circuit
Five Bucks Drinkery 247 Central Ave., fivebucks727.com
Joey Brooklyn’s 210 1st Ave. N., joeybrooklynsfamouspizzakitchen.com
The Kitchen 226 1st Ave N., kitchenstpete.com
Mandarin Hide 231 Central Ave., mandarinhide.com
The One Night Stand 149 1st Ave. N., theonenightstandstpete.com
Pelican Pub 18 2nd St. N.
Push Ultra Lounge 128 3rd St S., pushlounge.com
Ringside Cafe 16 2nd St. N., ringsidecafe.net
Vue 19 200 Central Ave., vue19.com


Amy Daire is a summer intern at Creative Loafing. She is a member of the class of 2015 at Florida State University, studying editing, writing and media, and a graduate of St. Petersburg High School.  

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