OH SNAP. It’s Skipper’s Smokehouse. Okay, well right off the bat, I’m gonna say this place pretty much kicks ass. Truth be told, it’s more venue than restaurant, but that doesn’t stop them from selling delicious food at pretty awesome prices. Add to that a couple well stocked bars, and you’ve got one of the most unique locations in Tampa Bay, and one that captures the essence of all the good parts about Florida.

I went with a couple friends tonight to check out a friend of a friend’s band, Midnight Bowler’s League. The parking lot was packed, so we had to park across the street. We got in and were greeted with an awesome smokey aroma, a good crowd, live music, and some badass swing dancers. The main part of Skipper’s, allegedly referred to as the “Skipperdome”, is a large open area (pictured above), with a stage and numerous benches and tables. In the back there’s a covered bar, on the side is another bar and an entrance to the inside of the restaurant, and above you are the branches of giant oak trees. It basically looks like your backyard. Awesome.

The food there is great. They’ve got bar food (which I partook in), but they actually have a nice sized menu, packed with FLORIDA FOOD. Yeah. Florida style. Like… gator. And fish. And fish. And crab. And fish. Oysters. Etc. A bunch of awesome stuff, something for everyone. I got wings. After asking the bartender what she recommended (they have old school buffalo wings, and some special Jamaican wings), she suggested I get some “double fried”, where they fry them once, dip ’em in sauce, and fry them a second time, getting them super crispy. Of course, I went for it. They turned out GREAT. They were served with two different sauces – a more traditional hot sauce (with just the right amount of spice, leaving a little tingle on your tongue), and a super-sweet honey based sauce that was like candy. I mostly just used the hot sauce, but I dipped in both for a good combination effect. The sweet sauce by itself probably would have been too much to handle. But all in all, they were great wings, and it only cost me about 10 bucks for 20 of them. Great deal – I definitely recommend this.

But the real draw here is the live music. Apparently, they have live music nightly, hosting many different local artists and events, as well as better known artists, including even Grammy winning performers. Tonight we were treated to a trio of excellent rockabilly bands, which inspired a few members of the audience to do their own swing dancing in front of the stage. The dancers were all surprisingly good; good enough that I got pissed off thinking about how I’ll never have dem hardcore dancin’ skills. Ah well. Fun to watch, anyway.

Skipper’s is a perfect slice of Tampa, without being on the water. It’s representative of all the great parts of the area, and I’ll definitely be returning, both for food and entertainment. And the booze. Don’t forget the booze.

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