Tampa Treasures: Skipper’s Smokehouse

“The Blues club that washed ashore”

Of all the places we cover at That’s So Tampa, there may be none that defines what Tampa really is as much as Skipper’s Smokehouse. Lonnie Mack famously described Skipper’s as “the blues club that washed ashore” and even this apt description does not do the restaurant and club justice.

All the way back in 1980, Skipper’s started thanks to three Air Force buddies who were freezing their butts off in Alaska and set out to start a club in our area, fix it up and then sell it. Well, they are still rocking and serving up some Travel Channel-worthy food.

Where all the good bands stop

First, Skipper’s is a place to hear great music no matter your age. ‘Nuff said.

Derek Trucks of the Grammy Award-winning Derek Trucks Band shredded Skipper’s as a young lad, which should give you a clue of the history of this place. Shoot, Buddy Guy and John Mayall, both blues legends of holy heights, have played Skipper’s long before there were blogs or cellphones.

Nowadays, the bands who play the ramshackle stage have been picked by some of the best tastemakers in local music thanks to Skipper’s discerning owners and a long-running partnership with WMNF 88.5 FM. So, get yourself a BBQ gator tail, a PBR Tallboy, sit down, and enjoy.

Blackened Grouper Reuben and Gator Ribs

And, finally, that brings me to the food. In our humble opinion, if you could eat one meal in Tampa, and you happen to only have a couple sheckles on your person, Skipper’s Blackened Grouper Reuben might be the way to go.

The sandwich has been on the Travel Channel’s Best Sandwiches in America and it has to be in the Tampa Mount Rushmore of food items. The kitchen’s smoked gator ribs are not far behind and have also appeared on the Travel Channel.

If you have never been and you don’t mind a long strange trip – and you have a tie-dye shirt in the closet – come out on a Thursday night and see Uncle John’s Band, a Grateful Dead cover band, for peak Skipper’s and get the full experience.

Skipper’s Smokehouse is located at 910 Skipper Road. You can see the upcoming music calendar here.

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