Tampa, FL

Skipper's Smokehouse Tampa's Iconic Live Music Venue

Gayle Kurtzer-Meyers

Skipper's SmokehousePhoto Source: Skipper's Smokehouse Facebook

Jamming with history and food

Skipper's Smokehouse is an iconic live music venue located in the heart of Tampa, Florida. This 5-star smokehouse is known for its fantastic food and lively atmosphere and its diversity of music. Established in 1980, the origin of Skipper's is rich in history and delicious seafood. I think I'll have a double dose of both.


Once upon a time, it was all started by three friends from the Air Force. Skipper's Smokehouse was built on a dream to move to Florida's tropical climate from their post in Alaska. Their goal was never to keep the restaurant but to sell it and continue with their lives. However, as time moved on, their love for the unique atmosphere and people of Skipper's continued to grow. So the trio soon decided to keep the restaurant.

"The club that washed ashore." -Lonnie Mack, Blues Legend

The building is located in the growing hub of Tampa under 100-year-old oak trees, giving visitors the feeling of rich history tied up in the establishment's origin. The structure both outside and inside the building is unique and vintage, with ocean and tropic themes accented by neon lights, picnic tables, and weathered signs. It is worth the trip to see the decor.

Outdoor venue area/Photo Source: Skipper's Smokehouse Facebook

Live music at Skipper's originated with reggae events, which quickly grew in popularity. Skipper's music became so popular that up to 1000 people attended their reggae events in a single night. The owners quickly realized they needed to extend. So let's get this party started—the more, the merrier.

As Skipper's began to grow, their music began to grow and evolve as well. Over the years, Skippers has featured hundreds of local and famous musicians like Buddy Guy and John Mayall. In addition, some musicians make special trips and frequently visit Tampa at the Skipper's to play.

The history of Skipper's music runs rich with tradition and generational music as well. Bands like Uncle John's Band have been regulars at Skipper's since soon after the restaurant's beginnings. Although only one original member is still playing, Uncle John's Band continues to play regularly with no plans of stopping.

The smokehouse also likes to regularly feature local artists and young acts to support up-and-coming artists. In addition, children's bands regularly play at Skipper's to allow young artists to play on an actual stage with natural sound systems. Some artists have impressive careers in music, and many consider Skipper's to be essential to their start.

Jamming at the mikePhoto by Vinícius Caricatte from Pexels

The Skipperdome

Dubbed the "Skipperdome" by locals, Skipper's has a backyard concert area hosting music six nights per week. This iconic venue is home to a sandy beach, tiki deck, and walls displaying the diversity of artists who play at Skipper's Smokehouse. . In 2001, the platform won the award for the Best Blues Club in America.

The Skipperdome sees artists from various places worldwide, such as Ecuador, South Africa, Russia, and Australia. These musicians grace the stage with reggae, blues, rock, folk, jazz, and so much more.

The Skipperdome features an assortment of chairs, benches, and picnic tables covered for the hot summer months and cooler winter months. Guests can remain comfortable during the summer, cooled by fans, and toasty during the winter when warmed by propane heaters.


Skipper's logo, "we smoke everything," says it all. The menu features a diverse combination of Caribbean and Louisiana flavors combined with the local cuisine of Tampa, Florida. Known predominantly for their Oyster Bar and smoked foods, Skipper's specializes in a range of seafood such as clams, shrimp, grouper, shark, tuna, swordfish, and more.

Smoked OystersPhoto by Elle Hughes from Pexels

Visitors can also sample their unique and award-winning menu options, such as alligator ribs, Black Bean Gator Chili, or fried gator tail. I'll take a bowl of that Black Bean Gator Chili with a little tail on the side.

Skipper's is well-known locally for its food and has won multiple prestigious awards such as Best Alligator, Best Grouper Sandwich, Best Outdoor Restaurant, Best Key Lime Pie, and Hottest Wings in Tampa.


The atmosphere at Skipper's is shaped not only by the venue's live music and eclectic decor but also by the family-like staff who serve each table. When creating Skippers, the owners focused on hiring friendly staff and treating them well to make customers and workers alike feel like one of the gang.

Skipper's Smokehouse creates a feeling of comfort in their non-judgmental and laid-back atmosphere. The combination of great food, fun music, and friendly staff makes Skipper's a must-see spot in Florida.


Skipper's continues to regularly feature classics like Uncle John's Band and young bands year around. In addition, those visiting the smokehouse can expect a wide variety of music types, from tributes featuring classical music to reggae and rock.

Visit Skipper's

Skipper's is currently open Thursday through Sunday and features packed music events and great food all weekend long. Food lovers can enjoy various smoked foods and seafood from their menu, while music lovers can enjoy the rich diversity and history of famous bands and artists.

Get your jam on. I'll see you there.

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I am a Licensed Community Association Manager for the State of Florida and a published author. My top articles are about Florida RE, property management, and the many beautiful venues and activities available in the Sunshine State. Thank you for reading my work and joining me on the journey.

Kissimmee, FL

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