Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood has recently seen a multitude of trendy restaurants and bars move in, transforming the area into a favorite of the young and hip.
It's into this scene that Red Star Rock Bar emerges as an unpretentious, laid-back spot to listen to some great local bands or just hang out with friends.
Inside Red Star Rock Bar, the vibe is friendly and the decor is distinctly rock 'n' roll — Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers
The bar occupies a shotgun-style space in a thoroughly renovated historic storefront on Florida Avenue, just a few minutes north of downtown. Inside features tables on the left and a long bar down the right, with a middle isle leading to the back door, beyond which is an outdoor party deck and stage area.
Inside, the small space packs a big punch, with red and black décor, leopard print bar stools and large images of rock 'n' roll legends such as Jim Morrison and Keith Richards adorning the walls.
It’s a little overwhelming, but it works.
The bar’s vibe is friendly, and the service is great, featuring the cocktail stylings of co-owner/bartender Brian Bosco. Already popular in the area, Bosco is well known for his cocktail skills crafting specialties that include the Sympatico El Diablo – a Manhattan with a twist – and Wild Thang, a very strong take on the classic Long Island Iced Tea.
The outdoor area at Red Star Rock Bar features a good-sized seating area and stage for the bands — Photo courtesy of Red Star Rock Bar
There's no kitchen, but Red Star Rock Bar has teamed up with Tampa’s Generation Food Truck to create Generation Food Court in the large grassy parking lot next door to the bar, offering patrons easy access to some of the most creative cuisine in the city. There are usually several food trucks on hand to satisfy late-night munchies.
The bar calendar is jam-packed with events for every day of the month.
Beginning bright and early on Monday afternoons at 4 p.m. is Vagabond Gita. This weekly event features a smorgasbord of eccentric, oddball and unconventional entertainment, including new music, performance art and spoken word.
There's also an Indie Fair, shisha lounge and fortune-tellers, just to make things interesting.
Local bands play live almost every Friday and Saturday starting at 8 p.m., performing a mixture of blues, rock and indie-folk. Thursdays often host guest DJs; Tuesdays feature bar trivia contests; and Wednesdays are for karaoke, a six-week rotating competition for bragging rights and a $200 cash prize.
A welcome addition to Seminole Heights nightlife, Red Star is quickly becoming a popular neighborhood hangout, providing patrons a chill spot to enjoy a few beers or cocktails without emptying their wallet.