Mortar & Pestle: Coffee, Food, Alcohol? Sounds Like a Good Time!

There are a lot of opinions about this restaurant. Lets see what the Exploring Tampa crew thinks!
Mortar & Pestle, 2019
Coming from the ashes of a popular food truck, Mortar & Pestle is a concept that thrives to bring back the old timey pharmacies. You know the ones... You go to get a soda from the fountain, you wander the aisles, make your way to the lunch counter, then leave with your prescriptions. Located on the same block as local favorites Angry Chair Brewing and Trip's Diner, there's no lack of business to be had. This is also one of the few places in Seminole Heights with a real parking lot. Had you never read a review of this place and had you not heard about their filing for bankruptcy, you'd be impressed. The inside of the building is a hipster's paradise, with the industrial looking tables and chairs, the high ceiling, the steampunk-esque inspired decor. The inside of this building is cool. Next door is also a fully functional pharmacy that I wasn…

Brewlands: Not Your Average Pool Hall

Can't tell if Fatso's is open or closed this week? That's ok. There are other pool halls!

Brewlands, 2017

When you think "pool hall," do you think dive bar? Dark and dingy? Crappy beer and cheap liquor? Or have you simply had the misfortune of being caught at Peabody's when the frat crowd comes in? I'm here to tell you, not all pool halls are the same. My first experience with a pool hall came with Carrollwood Billiard sometime in the early 2000's. It was sold sometime shortly after, turned into The Breakroom, and has been going downhill ever since. I've been a fan of playing pool (albeit, very badly), since those days. I will say, since I quit smoking, I don't really want to come home smelling like an ashtray, and unfortunately, most pool halls allow smoking. So, you can imagine my relief when Brewlands came along and all of those negative stereotypes were noticeably nonexistent. Well, ok, they still serve crappy beer and probably have cheap liquor, however, they also carry some of the best local craft beer. 

Beer anyone?, 2017

Lets take a minute to appreciate the craft beer here. I mean, we live in Tampa, one of the best craft beer cities in the U.S.A., and there are still places that only serve Bud Light and Coor's. This is true of Breakroom, who carries Jai Alai as their one craft beer. And why do I keep bringing up Breakroom in this review? Because Brewlands is roughly one mile away. The pool tables are nicer and kept up, the pool sticks are also kept in decent shape, the beer selection is better, there's a kitchen, and there's no smoking inside. Could you ask for a better experience? Add to that fact the overwhelming number of pool tables that Brewlands has. I think there's only been one occasion, albeit during a league night, where they didn't have a pool table open for me. 

Brewland Billiards Stars, 2017

The bartenders here are incredibly friendly, which is helpful as you also get your table through them. The bar is a gorgeous, wooden bar. Sportsball is shown all over the TV's over the bar, and the floor is covered in friendly individuals who came for a good time playing pool. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever met an unfriendly person here. There's also a jukebox that allows you to find your favorite songs on the internet, however, unlike Red Star Rock Bar, it's not overwhelmingly loud. It's got just the right volume to enjoy the music without having to scream to your party. There are almost no negatives to this place! Almost...

Cheeseburger, 2017

The food here is awful. There is no two ways around it. The food is somewhat on the cheaper side, but it sucks. The burger pictured above? It was on the driest bun I think I have ever tasted. And that's not the first time I've said that about one of their burgers. It should also be mentioned that the burger was ordered medium, but that's pretty well done if you ask me. Unfortunately, this is what I've come to expect from this place. Which is disappointing, as the first time I ordered one of their burgers, it was so good. Unfortunately, nothing has been able to live up to that first time. They offer pretzel sticks, which are obviously frozen and then microwaved, same with their southern eggrolls. It's safe to say that you come for a good pool hall with an awesome bar that doesn't allow smoking inside. Don't expect decent food.

Patio Seating, 2017

Now, I've mentioned they don't allow smoking inside. Luckily, for my tar lunged friends, they have a really nice outdoor patio. You are free to smoke out here, eat out here, and drink out here... You just wont be playing pool out here. The one downside to the outdoor seating is that some of the tables are right next to doors. Now, one would think that they would lock those doors so that people don't come out of them. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Luckily, we were only hit once. There was also the case of the incredibly rude woman who was yelling at us for "blocking the door" (of about four doors on this side of the building alone)... I guess she didn't notice that the one door we were in front of, the door that the table had been placed in front of prior to us even getting there (presumably by management), had no door handle. However, one rude woman in the six or so times I've been here doesn't count as a strike against this place. 

Some of the floor, 2017

Things you need to know before going:
- The food is awful.
- The people are (99% of the time) incredibly friendly.
- It's my favorite pool hall of the four I can name in Tampa.
- They have a decent craft beer selection.
- Seriously, don't waste your money on the food.

What is your favorite pool hall to go to? Are you looking for a newer, smoke-free pool hall? Leave a comment below. If you'd like more information on Tampa, check out my YouTube Channel and if you'd like to support my efforts, don't hesitate to buy a shirt from our Spreadshirt. Also, don't be afraid to click subscribe and you'll instantly be notified whenever a new entry is posted. Thank you all and I will see you next time!

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