For all pool hall princesses and dukes of darts, I give you my compilation of local establishments to shoot a game of billiards. All five of these picks were chosen based on distance from campus, price relative to the average USF student’s budget and diversity of crowd, food and games.
Peabody’s Billiards and GamesAnalysis: Peabody’s was an easy pick for my No. 1 slot because it offers something for everyone. Everyone has the chance to do what they want, whether it’s dancing in a club-type atmosphere, playing pool with a couple of strangers or just watching a game at the bar. Peabody’s owns The Palms, which presents itself as a more upscale club as well as a liquor store for those wanting to take the party back home.
Location: 15333 Amberly Dr.Inside the Shops of Amberly(813) 972-1725Cost: $$Food: Wide variety including a late-night menu. Customers have options ranging from salads and full-size pizzas to wings and Cuban sandwiches.Alcohol: 21+ crowd only. Full bar with drink specials running nearly every night. Specials include $2 shots and $6 liquor pitchers. In a partnership with Budweiser, Peabody’s also offers a Safe Ride Home program that provides a free cab ride to anyone unable to afford one.Tables: 14Games: 65 TVs, 17 dartboards, two MegaTouch gaming systems, Golden Tee, Silver Strike Bowling, boxing.Busiest times: All the time.Music: Jukebox on the billiards side; live music or a DJ at the Palms.
Tally Ho PubAnalysis: North Tampa’s best-kept secret – for pool, at least. The location – in a business complex – makes the area seem more peaceful and less like a noisy bar. Tally Ho’s staff greets you as soon as you walk in the door, and service isn’t just quick but also served with a smile. The safe feel, cleanliness of the bar and beach-like atmosphere could keep you coming back for more, as long as you don’t mind a bit of a drive.Location: 7402 N. 56th St. Ste. 902Between Sligh Avenue and Busch Boulevard(813) 984-9223Cost: $$Food: Typical bar fare: wings, burgers, French fries, etc. Food is served until 3 a.m.Alcohol: Full bar. Last call is at 2:50 a.m. Liquor bottles are also sold inside the bar.Tables: Six. All six tables get refurbished each year and cues are checked and fixed weekly.Games: Two 10-foot TVs and roughly 13 others, dartboards (three steel-tipped and three digital) and video games.Busiest times: Friday nights.Music: Jukebox.
Coppertop PubAnalysis: Location makes this place ideal for anyone trying to get in a quick game or two. If you don’t mind the smokiness or a lively crowd, this bar could become your regular dive. Most nights of the week you can find a handful of regulars, a few folks in hospitality and a sprinkling of others.Location: 5112 E. Fowler Ave.Inside the CDB’s strip(813) 988-8656Cost: $Free pool all night on Sunday and Monday. Free pool until 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Saturday.USF discount available on certain orders.Food: Typical bar fare: wings, chicken fingers, nachos, cheese sticks, french fries, onion rings, steak-and-cheese sandwiches, White Castle mini-burgers and slices of CDB’s pizza delivered.Alcohol: Twelve beers on tap, wine and Smirnoff Ice. Half-pitchers are available as well.Tables: Four available with an expansion planned to add five more.Games: Three TVs (one big screen), Silver Strike Bowling, four dartboards, Golden Tee and foosball.Busiest Times: Monday, Friday and Sunday nights.Music: Jukebox
Skid’s Billiard EmporiumAnalysis: For a quiet night out, Skid’s might be a good choice. High ceilings keep the smoke mostly out of your eyes, and the crowd usually ranges between 20-25 people. The beer selection isn’t broad, but the relaxed atmosphere makes up for most of what is lacking.Location: 2810 E. Bearss Ave.Inside the Beef O’ Brady’s strip(813) 971-0660Cost: $Food: None served, but Beef O’ Brady’s delivers until 10 p.m. and customers may bring food, but not drinks, with them.Alcohol: Beer and wine, with happy hour from open until 7 p.m. Half-pitchers are available.Tables: Twelve; four of them are coin operated.Games: Three TVs (one big screen), Silver Strike Bowling, two pinball machines, two MegaTouch Gaming Systems, three dartboards.Busiest times: Friday and Saturday nights; Sunday days.Music: Jukebox
USF Phyllis P. Marshall Center basementAnalysis: It’s free and on campus. The most rigorous competition you’re likely to find will be getting a table, but wait it out and it’s some of the best pool money didn’t buy.Location: Basement of the Marshall Center.Cost: $Pool is free for USF students and guests.Food: Patrons are welcome to bring any food or drink – non-alcoholic. Vending machines are also around.Tables: Seven.Games: Five arcade games, assortment of board games.Music: WBUL broadcasts live throughout the basement.
Other Tampa establishments with pool tables: Bobalouies, Fatso’s, Planet 9 Ball, MJ Cue Club, The Rack, The Pressbox, Baker’s Billiards, Tay Do Billiards, Carollwood Billiards, Impact Billiards, Marie’s Overtime Pub, The Greenery Pub