Mr. Dunderbak's: Oktoberfest Year Round

Schnitzel and a pilsner, coming right up.

Dunderbak's, 2019
University Mall,was a very different place in the 70's. Disco was still raging (probably), bell bottoms were considered cool (I imagine), and Dunderbak's was a franchise store with over 30 locations, one of which was located in University Mall (fact). Of the original 30 stores, three remain. Lucky for us, one of those three stores is right here in Tampa. In 1997, the current owners bought the University location and turned it into a new type of restaurant. One that fuses traditional German foods with American favorites. The beer list grew, and in 2016, Dunderbrau opened (joining a growing list of craft breweries). In 2019, Dunderbak's now serves over 500 different beers by the bottle, 65 on their draft list, their menu is as diverse as one could hope for, and they host weekly homebrew meetings. As a matter of fact, they seemingly have something going on every day of the week! But that's not why you came here…

Ybor City Wine Bar: Not Just For Wine

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

Matt using them wine skills, 2017

It all started about a year ago. Chris and I were at the Florida Cane Distillery grand opening. They were giving out free "samples" of their spirits. What I didn't know is that the "samples" would be unlimited, that the liquor in their mixed drinks would be so well hidden and that I would drink as much as I did that day. Chris and I ended up at Cigar City Cider & Mead next door, partaking in some more alcohol. What can I say? We're responsible like that. As we're sitting there, badly slurring while trying to order some drinks, a woman walks in with a flyer to hand to the bartender saying that she had talked to someone about promoting her wine event at Cider & Mead. I, drunkenly, turn my head towards her and blurted something out about having a camera and a YouTube series. I'm not sure how much of that she understood, but she then handed me two tickets and told me I was invited to come film their Wine Fest event. Another friend of ours joined us for a bit, also partook in the festivities next door, joined as at Cider & Mead, then we stumbled around Ybor for some food, then stumbled around a few other places to kill off the buzz. #Adulthood. While there, and while slowly sobering up, we quickly come to the realization that none of us drink wine. The struggle was now on.

Luckily, I did know two people who do drink wine! My parents, of course. I offer them the tickets with the condition that they simply set the camera up in a corner and hit record. They agreed, begrudgingly. The events comes, my parents get ready, head out, get some footage, and then they leave. I can tell you my mom had fun as she called me and couldn't put a competent sentence together. Good times! Once we caught back up, they informed us that it was a lot of fun and that we should definitely check it out sometime. I avoided it for a little while assuming that it was just an upscale wine bar. Oh, how wrong I was. Stormy and I were sitting at Angry Chair one day and Joe, the beertender, was telling us that they just opened up a location in Seminole Heights and we needed to check it out. Fine. We got the crew together (my parents, Stormy, and I) as I knew my parents know significantly more about wine than I ever cared to. 

Ybor City Wine Bar, 2017

I'm almost positive our first stop was at the Seminole Heights location, as they have parking and it's easier to talk my parents into going there than it is to get them to Ybor. We were quickly introduced to Drew, one of the bartenders, and quickly realized that this is the place to go if you're looking for good wine, good beer, and a quirky staff. That's not a bad thing. I ordered myself a beer I was familiar with (that is escaping my memory), and everyone else had wine. Yes, I stuck out like a sore thumb. While enjoying our beverages and chatting with Drew, in walks Jayme, the co-owner, and the woman I completely forgot to name earlier who had given me the tickets. She grabs a few bottles for her table and I went outside to thank her for the tickets and the opportunity to go to their fest. It was at this moment that I realized that Jayme knows some impressive people, as everyone there was an Ybor businessman. 

Over time, Stormy and I eventually made our way to the Ybor location where we were introduced to Michael, the other co-owner, and Matt, the OG of the beer and wine game. Matt had come from Bern's which, to those of you who aren't familiar with Tampa, is a VERY expensive, very nice steakhouse. He was expected to be able to pair wine with food, and I imagine he does so very well. I can tell you that he is also gifted when it comes to pairing people to a wine that they will enjoy. As Stormy famously says, "Six years and I've never seen him [me] drink a glass of wine, and he's known you for a year and he's ordered three." Michael himself is also really skilled at matching beer and wine to people, though his specialty lies more in introducing people to the newer beer & wines that they have just brought in. These dudes are good. And it's impressive, as the wine bar brags about having 200 wines by the glass and over 100 craft beers. I find myself going to the wine bar and telling either Michael or Matt to give me a glass of whatever they feel I'll like (yes, I am here often), and I am VERY rarely disappointed. 

Wine, you say?, 2017

The cool thing about the beer selection here is that they don't tend to carry beers that you'll find elsewhere. European beers are a staple here, as are some nice out of state breweries (shout out to Clown Shoes!). The wine selection is just as impressive, with many different styles and many different brands to go along with each style. Jayme and Michael take frequent trips to the vineyards to stay up-to-date with the trends in wine. And look at me pretending like I know anything about wine. I will say this, if you're not a wine drinker, give the Butternut a try. I'm not even sure if that's the name, but it is an amazing wine. They also sell meat and cheese plates, as well as desserts, but they definitely do not make a meal. I'd suggest eating next door at Carne before drinking some fantastic wines and beers. And, if you're INCREDIBLY lucky, and John is working, he might offer up some of his fantastic cuisine.



Ok, that's fine and dandy, but I know you all want to know how everything is, right? Alright, first the staff is great. You will not, and I challenge you to prove me wrong, find a more knowledgeable staff when it comes to beers and wines. They are VERY good at what they do. I will also go on record as saying that you will never run out of things to drink at this place. There is an ever rotating selection of beer and wine, and if you do manage to go through everything, they will have more coming soon. The one downside to the Ybor City Wine Bar is the food. Not that it's bad, there's just not a big selection and it's not very filling. That said, the kitchen is VERY small, and also mixed use as it doubles as their dish washing area. I'm impressed they managed to fit food in there at all. However, the meats and cheeses they put on their cheese board are very well thought out. The cheeses were definitely a nice choice. The board is then completed with chocolate almonds, marinated mushrooms, and a fig jam that is also very nice. I will also vouch that I am a fan of their cheesecake. And that's all I got to say about this one!

Yes, this is the full bar, 2017

Things you need to know before you go:
- Both locations are pretty small. Seminole Heights has VERY limited parking.
- They don't serve meals. Plan accordingly.
- Ybor City doesn't have bathrooms. This seems to come up every time I'm there.
- The staff is very eccentric. This isn't going to be one of those boring bars with boring bartenders.
- There will be a beer or wine for everybody.

What is your favorite style of wine? Can you find someone more knowledgeable about wine? 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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