My friend Phil just turned 21. And that means booze. Lots and lots of totally legal booze (which is, debatably, less fun than totally illegal booze). So we needed to get our friend some quality beer to drink in a public forum. Now, there is, no doubt, something to be said for the charm found in a dive bar, but we were looking for variety, and quality. We needed look no further than Mr. Dunderbak’s, Tampa’s favorite Beirgarten.
Ahh Mr. Dunderbak’s. Recently relocated from the University Mall, this place has a shit-ton of personality to go along with its shit-ton of beer. Now, I have to admit that I’m a bit partial to this place, so you may want to take what I say about it with a grain of salt. That being said, if I had to die somewhere, this would be that place…
…okay, that’s an exaggeration. But it is a cool place. They’ve got two bars, a separate beer room, and the main dining area has a whole bunch of picnic tables and a huge gazebo in the middle. Within said gazebo usually stands an elderly gentleman, playing drinking song after drinking song on his accordion, while pretty much everyone around him ignores him completely (he does try though… oh how he tries). Tonight, however, that old man was nowhere to be seen, and we were lucky enough to be sat in the center of the gazebo. We were truly the kings of Dunderbak’s.
So we ordered up some beers. This is where Dunderbak’s shines the most brightly, with a selection of over 50 beers on tap of varying make and model (anything you can imagine), and even more types of bottled beer (from many different locations worldwide). And their draught beers are constantly rotating, so that you’ll always have something new to try. Best of all, the majority of the staff there are pretty knowledgeable about beer, so that if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, or if you’re in the mood for something different, just ask and they’ll point you in the right direction.
In addition to their delightful beer selection, they have a delightful food selection. And by delightful, I mean fucking awesome. Their sandwiches are king. KING OF THE SANDWICHES. Seriously, their New Yorker, their Blue Max, their Reuben… well they’re all pretty similar sandwiches, but they’re all pretty excellent too. The point is, they do sandwiches right, with high-quality meat, cheese, and bread. Almost every time I come here, I get the same thing (Die Matterhorn Club), so this time around I decided to mix it up a bit and give their wurstchen a try.
I got the Oktoberfest Platter, with Polish Keilbasa and Debrizener (two great sausages), a side of sauerkraut, and some hot German potato salad (also a delicious staple of meals at Dunderbak’s). Once again, the quality of their meat stands out. One of my friends ordered the Cheese Platter, and asked for it with a side of salami.
Unfortunately, this time around, it looked as though we got the leftovers of someone else’s platter. Usually there is a wider variety of cheeses, more slices, and overall a better presentation. This cheese was room temperature and sweaty. And there was no salami to be found. For almost 10 dollars (assuming he wasn’t charged for the salami), this was not worth it. But once again, it’s usually nicer than this.
Another issue with our visit was the service. It took a lot of time for the server to check back with us, which wouldn’t ordinarily be a problem, but this began as soon as we got there. We didn’t get to order for quite some time, and even then, after dropping off our beers, the server was about to leave before we even ordered.
The service at Dunderbak’s is not necessarily the best service in the world. But the staff is knowledgeable, and, push come to shove, the food and beer is always worth the lack in quality of service. This place is a must visit for any serious beer drinker in the area.