Foodie Duty - Critic Reviews

Skipper's Smokehouse

  • State: Florida
  • City: Tampa

Having visited Skipper's Smokehouse several times, I have sampled several tentatively edible dishes, hoping against hopes that I would enjoy...something! My first visit brought me to this North Tampa establishment as a visiting, big-city, young woman of my 20s. It was during my Heineken/Reggae phase. We drove across the small, bumpy, dirt parking-sandlot and parked, in front of, a shack? Really?

Attire: Casual
Special Features: Decor, ambiance and music venue – NOT the food!
Reservations: No, but purchase concert tickets online for a discount

★★★★★  $$$$$(over $40)   ♪♪♪♪♪(noise level)

The bayou/Floribbean tin shanty exterior is seemingly several smaller metal shacks pieced together. This initially enthralled me as it was the most unique restaurant I had visited in some time.

When stepping inside the quaint, low ceilinged dining area, you are mesmerized by writing and graffiti all over the walls, photos, and strung up fishing nets...and more, fishing nets. It is a very unique and fun, one-time-stop worth visiting, but only for this reason, and for the fun lively atmosphere of almost nightly, outdoor live music.

Seeing that this is a FOOD review, the only saving grace for this restaurant was the ambience and outdoor music venue. Without them, it would be difficult to provide even a one-star-rating.

The service, each of the times I visited over an eight year period, was only fair. Apparently poor management is in practice for the dining room servers. In one visit two of our orders were served to us, incomplete by an insipid server. Another visit, we waited 25 minutes to place our order, and watched as another table (who arrived after us, and sat across from us) placed their order before us! And on a third visit, the server was just rude, and actually 'huffed' when I politely asked for some lemon wedges.

As we watch the ozone deplete in Florida, it will have seemingly begun over the factory that supplies Skipper's cutlery and plating. Personally, I don't often leave establishments with a 'doggy-bag'. Usually because they are made of Polystyrene! Well hold on to your Environmentally-friendly hats because even when dining in, ALL of the cutlery provided is plastic, the plates; paper and Polystyrene, and all of the sauce and serving cups; paper!

Another, HUGE, strike against this restaurant/venue!

I find it a difficult task to mention the food quality with an objective pallet. Most of the foods are deep-fried and salads seemingly pre-warmed close to the fryers. I've read other reviews of “great grouper sandwich” and “tasty gator tail”.

All I can say about the reviews of these people is, they must be out-of-towners.

It is only a 40 minute drive to the beach where you will find many restaurants serving Grouper of much higher quality and culinary talent.

I myself, enjoyed the Gator Tail bites, the first time I visited. It was also only the first time I had Gator Tail. At Skippers, it is usually over-cooked. But if you're in the mood for decent poppers, good dipping sauce and a few cold pints of beer while dancing to some great local music, we've got a winner!

The Conch Fritters are far from the original and traditional fritters found in Key West. With barely any Conch inside the deep fried ball, it tastes barely more than a hush puppy. Served with a dipping sauce, you'll have to ask for lemon, and specify “several slices”. The traditional way of eating a Conch Fritter is to squeeze on lemon and hot sauce before every bite. These were disappointing to say the least.

In summary, I would say you should visit Skipper's at least once, but do it when you are in the mood for some fun, down-to-earth, unpretentious, friendly, casual, warm evening outdoors, dancing with the locals to great music!

910 Skipper Rd.
Tampa, FL 33613

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