Sports bars are a great idea. Games, plus alcohol. What could go wrong?
Everything. Sports bars, as a rule, are typically stuffed with assh*les, serve terrible food, and aren’t places you would go to unless your favorite team was playing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sports bar glory is possible - you just have to know where to find it.
Whatever your chosen sport, we support your need for actually-awesome places to watch. The places on this list aren’t just bars with TVs - they’re spots we can enthusiastically endorse for all your game-watching/beer-drinking/wing-eating needs.
You have to love a bar that serves your most basic sports fan needs. Of the two locations, the Greenwich Village Triona’s tends to be the more laid back come game time, possibly because the space is too small to attract many large groups. It’s still an upbeat spot, though, and their solid menu of bar food classics is sure to satisfy any of your fried food cravings. They also have specials throughout the week, including $10 pitchers of Bud Light and Miller Light from 12-7PM on Sundays and 1-8PM on Mondays. Just remember, this bar is just a stone’s throw from NYU. So don’t be surprised if you’re greeted by a younger, more eclectic (or more bro-y) crowd the next time you stop by.
Blue Haven is not very large, but is known for being an awesome place to waste away a night or day of big match-ups - so for more notable games or NFL Sundays, we highly recommend you go early or attempt to make a reservation. There’s something on the menu for everyone, including a variety of awesome sandwiches, burgers, and shareable bar appetizers like wings and nachos. They also happen to have a kale salad on the menu, which is good for when you’re trying to con one of your healthier companions to joining you.
Electing to go to a bar near NYU during the “school year” is always a gamble, but when it has wings, burgers, and waffle fries this good, it’s worth the risk. Reservoir is close to Union Square, and given the generally casual atmosphere, it’s a perfect meeting spot when it’s time for an afternoon/evening of game-watching, boozing, and crushing some classic bar food. It’s also pretty reasonably priced, and there’s a stellar wing night deal on Sundays (they’re 30 cents a pop). Two rules for the road: When ordering the burger, ask for it buffalo style even though it’s not on the menu. And when (not if) you get the waffle fries, get some gravy. It may ruin your concept of potatoes on Thanksgiving, but it will make you a better person.
At certain times of the year, Kettle of Fish can seem like just another West Village dive bar to resort to on a Saturday night, as there are often no sports-playing TVs in sight (we always call ahead to make sure our game is on). However, during football season, it becomes one of the rowdiest Packers joints east of Lambeau Field, with game sound blaring from many TVs throughout the bar. During these famed Cheesehead gatherings, the bartenders pass around complimentary snacks, such as summer sausage and Usinger Brats - but if that doesn’t suit your fancy, you can order takeout or delivery from wherever you want.
If you’re a Philly sports fan looking for a sports bar to call home, Wogies is it. Not just because most other sports bars won’t accept you for your #FlyEaglesFly tantrums and Chip Kelly PTSD, but also because they’re serving epic cheesesteaks and quality brews all year long. They have lots of TVs with game sound and they’re willing to take reservations for 4+ people, so it’s a clutch spot even if you aren’t into any Philadelphia teams. We highly recommend ordering the disco fries with a pickleback shot on the side.
Despite being located in a highly “quaint” part of the West Village, Barrow Street has managed to maintain its casual, no-frills tavern vibe. The main space of the bar is pretty small, with fewer than a dozen booths and a handful of stools at the bar. But this is definitely a great spot to keep in mind for solo or small group game-watching, especially if you’re looking for a good deal on booze. Barrow Street’s happy hour lasts until 8pm most nights of the week, their kitchen is open until 3am, and their menu is full of bar food-meets-diner-meets-deli options. Get the tots (obviously), mac and cheese bites, and pretty much any sandwich for optimum success.
The Village Tavern is basically the physical manifestation of the handful of fraternity bros you didn’t actually despise during college. Sure, you might notice the former beer pong champions seeping from its pores on an average Saturday post-10pm. But for the purposes of some day-to-evening sports consumption, be it a Saturday, Sunday, or random weekday night, Village Tavern is a worthy location for your game-watching. Village Tavern doesn’t have a kitchen, but you can Seamless your way to takeout victory from wherever you want.
Houston Hall is definitely known better for its sloppy weekend day drinking happy hours than it is for sports watching. However, for any major sports event, they’re likely pulling down the projectors and showing the matchup on the big screen. Throw in some excessive liters of German beer and Milk Truck Grilled Cheeses and you’ve got yourself a damn good game setup.
The food at Mr. Dennehy’s is just as mediocre as you’d expect from a place that lines their booths with curtains from a 1970′s trailer park. But the overall personality of the place and crowd energy during soccer games make it well worth a visit. Plus, they have happy hour until 8PM, which rarely happens south of 23rd Street. Just promise us you won’t order the mushroom quesadillas, complete with a balsamic reduction that is suspiciously reminiscent of a tangy oil spill off the coast of “we don’t know what the f*ck we’re doing in the kitchen.” In fact, please just don’t eat anything here. Drink your beers, pretend to know the lyrics to all the futbol cheers, then go literally anywhere else to eat.
Just a few doors down from the most fiery, demonic layer of hell (aka the bar One And One) sits a big, TV-lined hall of sports-watching greatness called The Grayson. Sure, weekend nights at The Grayson can attract the same type of table-dancing people that have kept Bowery Electric in business (basically, all of us our first summer out of college). But on weeknights and during the day, The Grayson is a great spot to grab a bite, drink some beers, and watch some games. No matter when you go, we highly recommend you dig into a Grayson Burger and/or any of the wing options. Just double-check what theme night the bar is rocking before you commit. Would hate for Wednesday Trivia or Thursday 80′s throwback music to get in the way of your game-watching needs.
Although Phebe’s is best known as the intern and post-grad capital of the underworld, it also happens to be the rowdiest Bengals bar known to man. Not only do they serve Skyline Chili and other Cincinnati delicacies on game day, but with every touchdown and victory they blast the fight song for all of Bowery to hear. This bar is at its sports-watching prime during football season, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t check it out for any other type of game throughout the year, especially if you’re looking for a party. Just remember that once the later hours of the evening approach, so do the freshly graduated adult children of the east side. When the final whistle blows, run.
Standings is probably the single most classic sports bar that exists downtown. It’s a sport paraphernalia freak’s dream, with awesome memorabilia covering every inch of wall and hanging from the ceiling. Standings is tiny, but it has 8 TVs featuring different games. They also give out free pizza on Fridays until 8PM, bagels on Sundays from 12-3PM (or until they run out) and Atomic Wings during MNF, though you can always order or bring in food from wherever else you want, too. Just be prepared - Standings gets a pretty intense crowd during big games. If your heart isn’t in it, go somewhere else.
The Blind Pig is a small replica of every enjoyable sports bar you’ve ever been to, plus extra flair thanks to its year-round status as the home for the Arsenal fan club. Conveniently located on 14th Street, this bar is primarily indoor (with a small outdoor space up front), with plenty of seating and standing options. They’re also self-aware enough to categorize their entrees by “Burger” and “Not a Burger.” It has a familiar feel, good deals (hello, happy hour until 8), a million TVs of all shapes and sizes, friendly staff, takes reservations, and is conducive to watching games alone or with a group. Oh, and they have buffalo tots, the holiest tots of all.
Finnerty’s is an all-around great sports bar, especially given its convenient location and tons of TVs with game sound. Speaking of location, this bar happens to sit in the vicinity of some of the best take-out and delivery spots in town, all of which are open for business for Finnerty’s patrons since the bar doesn’t have a kitchen. Just keep in mind that from wall to wall, Finnerty’s is 100% a San Francisco sports bar. So don’t even bother popping by unless you’re ready to watch the 49ers or Giants and any of their division rivals. If you’re down with that, you’re in for a treat, as they incentivize the purchase of pitchers and other drinks with raffle tickets for some sick Niners memorabilia. See, mom? Something good can come from wasting all of our non-working hours watching sports at an East Village bar.
They say at the root of addiction is a desire to recreate your first high. We’ve found this to be true with many addictive substances, like Little Debbie Mini Powdered Donuts. But it’s especially true when it comes to replicating an idyllic afternoon of drinking beers and watching games. For us, this means finding a jack*ss-free beer garden. Our gateway drug: Oktoberfest in Munich. Our frequent fix: Zum Schneider. It has a true Oktoberfest feel, with a spirited international clientele and staff. They offer a plethora of beer options and platters on platters of sauerkraut, sausages, and other German wonders. Also, the projector screen, smaller TV, and game sound can be consumed from any vantage point, including the sidewalk if you have to wait for a seat.
We’d recommend this classic Italian spot for any almost any need. And after finally taking a break from housing their pasta to notice the TV on the wall, it dawned on us that this spot has huge lone wolf game-watching potential. That is if you consider being surrounded by several bottles of Italian wine being alone. We don’t, but to each his own.
lower east side
You aren’t truly a New York City sports fan until you’ve gotten bombed at Hair of the Dog on a weekend afternoon. This is partly because hitting up good ol’ HOTD is a rite of passage for the young and bored. But it’s also because they are maniacs who encourage customers to BYO coffee so they can spike it for less than the cost of a MetroCard. Um, what? Hair of the Dog tends to have a pretty fratty atmosphere, but it’s still a really fun place to catch games, with lots of TVs, game sound, and awesome drink deals (half price beers and Bloody Marys until 4PM on Sundays, and the entire bar is half price until 8PM on Mondays). Their pub-style food also isn’t half bad, we just recommend you stick to the basics and steer clear of such bar food horrors as the “Pizzadilla” and “French Toast Sticks.”
flatiron & gramercy
Located near Union Square, Ribalta disguises itself as an authentic Neapolitan pizza restaurant. But during big soccer matches (especially when an Italian team is playing), they bring down an epic projector screen and the mood fluctuates from “just another day at my fave Italian place” to “mass Italian hysteria, bring your pocket translator aka iPhone.” During more low-key games, you’ll hardly notice the game sound as you sip your prosecco and enjoy a rich cured meat pizza or six. But during more important matches, you can look forward to a packed bar area, sharing your table with men who look better in skinny jeans than you, and some quality pizza and beer.
Just like the location downtown, the Triona’s in Gramercy is guaranteed to service your most essential sports fan needs. And somehow it manages to do it without being the (for lack of a better word) douche-magnet that most decent game-watching locations on 3rd Avenue tend to be. There are dozens of TVs scattered throughout the space, and they often play game sound for big match-ups. Plus, their menu is full of sports bar classics that definitely won’t disappoint. At minimum, we recommend giving the mozzarella sticks a shot.
Smithfield Hall is hands-down our favorite place in Manhattan to watch sports. From the walls upon walls of massive TVs and stellar booze selection to their willingness to take reservations to the reliable menu of well-executed bar food, Smithfield is guaranteed to meet your game-watching needs no matter what kind of weird sh*t you’re into. We typically spend our Smithfield sports consumption feeding on Naragansetts, the glazed bacon, and a plate (or three) of Jameson wings. But you really can’t go wrong no matter what you’re ordering - but if you do have complaints, we’d recommend keeping them to yourself. The gargantuan bouncer (who may or may not moonlight as The Rock) will make eye contact with you, immediately turning you into dust.
Best reserved for die-hard Cowboys fans during NFL season, Stone Creek is a good sports bar to be aware of in the Murray Hill area. They have ample TV action (with game sound) throughout the bar, including a massive projector in the back room. We can’t say their food is any better than the post-1995 Cowboys are, but unlike Tony Romo, their happy hour deals and Monday Night Football wing specials can be pretty clutch.
Most of the multi-story sports bars in Murray Hill are horrendous, smoldering pits of sub-par food and decaying young professional dreams. However, Tavern 29 is a much-needed respite from this disappointing trend and a must-hit for those who live or work in the vicinity. There are plenty of TV screens, bar space and tables, plus a roof dominated by picnic tables and holiday lights. Food-wise, we recommend you stick with the basics, like the Tavern Burger, Hangover Burger, or mac and cheese appetizer.
upper east side
The Jeffrey is a rare gem on the cusp of Midtown East and the UES. Its primary allure is definitely its big offering of legitimately good food and craft beer, but they also happen to have quite a few TVs displaying a variety of sports and match-ups. Definitely check out the Red Beet Deviled Eggs. They’re bright red, a little earthy, and better than the ones your mom makes, even though your mom is awesome. They also make a damn good kale salad and plate of devils on horseback.
Carlow East is at its best during NFL season, when the city’s Seattle transplants come together to watch the Legion of Boom take over the TV every weekend. And it’s not just the spirit of camaraderie that attracts the fans - it’s the really nice staff, cranked-up game sound, and plates of free catered food the bar brings in to help soak up the $3.50 PBRs and Miller High Lifes. This is yet another bar that doesn’t have a kitchen, so outside of Seahawks games, you can order delivery or takeout from wherever you want. Though we can only hope that the ownership will start serving complimentary bowls of bottomless Skittles year round, regardless of the sport on television, in remembrance of Sir Beast Mode. Best. Retirement announcement. Ever.
upper west side
For the rare occasion that you want to feel refined and fancy while watching the game, check out the bar area at Atlantic Grill. It’s probably best for a post-work or pre-“nice” dinner game watch, as Atlantic Grill attracts a more parent-friendly crowd than pretty much any other place we’d send you to for sports. But everyone has those days when all you want is to crush some NCAA basketball with a side of reserve wine and oysters, and Atlantic Grill is perfect for just that. You could also try to sneak this as an early in the game date spot; the lady will be so overwhelmed with the sparkling rose selection she won’t even notice your frequent side leans and score checks.
There are a lot of really great things about Blondie’s, including the overall TV/ game sound setup, the impeccable service, and the awesome private back room, which is ripe for your next fantasy draft. But let’s just cut to the chase. Blondie’s has some of the best damn wings we’ve ever tasted. Not just in Manhattan, but in the entire f*cking galaxy. You better get to the Upper West Side to try them, assuming the locals will make room for you.
Our appreciation for Parm is well-documented at this point, so it should come as no surprise that when we realized that their UWS location had a few TVs in the front bar area, we immediately added it to our rotation of more laid back game-watching spots. This is by no means a place you should go to with a huge group looking for an immersive sports experience with sound, hoards of fellow fans, etc. However, for times when you want to passively keep tabs on the biggest games of the day and stuff your face with a meatball hoagie, Parm UWS is your spot.
Next time you’re looking for a hefty Mexican meal with a side of silent sports-watching, we recommend you hit Santa Fe. This restaurant is a very traditional Mexican establishment that somehow manages to survive the high rents near Central Park West without ever being busy. Is the food life-changing? Absolutely not. But they’ve got a TV behind the bar and a menu overflowing with burritos and melted cheese. And sometimes that’s enough for us.
Similar to the East Village location, the vibe at the Williamsburg Croxley’s can range depending on day of week and how big the game is. But it’s almost always a lively, inviting, and satisfying place to watch sports. Plus, this particular outpost is by far one of the most expansive and spacious sports bars we like in NYC. In addition to the nachos and wings, which are often part of some pretty stellar happy hour deals, you should check out the glorious little potato nuggets topped with everything you’ve ever loved called “Irish Tots.”
The Whiskey Brooklyn is a cooler, larger, and less obnoxious version of its Manhattan siblings. It’s buried deep beneath the earth, thus rendering your phone service useless and your concept of time zero. The excellent whiskey selection, unbeatable deals on food and drink, and plethora of fried and pickled snacks will help make up for it. The crowd can be unpredictable: weekend games are an absolute madhouse, but weeknights have a more laid-back vibe. No matter the day, they take reservations for eight people or more and it’s right around the corner from Berry Park. So if you can’t get a good spot or the crowd gets to be too much, you can easily take half time to relocate.
Best known for being an epic soccer bar, Berry Park is massive. Huge TVs are visible from pretty much any vantage point, and there’s also a big roof deck which stays open even when it’s cold out - think of it as your escape for those “holy sh*t if he misses one more free throw I’m going to murder someone” moments. Sit back, grab a Kelvin Bourbon Arnold Palmer slushy, and let the glory of frickles, games, and daily drink specials bring you to a place of sports-watching heaven.
Brooklyn, pay attention. Outdoor sports watching. We repeat: OUTDOOR SPORTS WATCHING that doesn’t require taking NJ transit to MetLife and/or your uncle’s Macgyver driveway setup in Millburn. Just take the L to Mulholland’s back patio, where you can enjoy one of their 22 beers on draft, sloppy joe sliders, mini corn dogs, meatball parm subs, and avocado BLTs. It’s actually quite possible we wrote this menu drunk in a cab one night and left it behind, only for the Mulholland’s management to steal, bring to fruition, and monetize the sh*t out of. We’re not even mad.
This is a UF bar - if you can’t deal with Gator Nation, we’d suggest you keep it moving. Roebling Sports Club is pretty large, with a lot of bar seating, high tops, and tables/booths in the back. They have many TVs and a projector screen that will allow you to see all those World Series bullpen beards up close and personal. Roebling also has a pretty expansive food list, featuring all the bar and pub grub you could ever want - we recommend the old bay fries or sriracha grilled cheese.
Keg & Lantern is Brooklyn’s best kept sports bar secret. It’s kind of a nondescript place at first glance, but it’s actually quite big and fun, with lots of TVs, including two in the covered back garden. The food and drinks are pretty standard, but it’s inexpensive, and they offer lots of weekend deals to make up for the lack of personality on the menu. These include complimentary drinks with brunch on the weekends, Saturday pitcher/wings specials for $20, fried chicken sandwich & a beer for $12 on Sundays, and 50 cent wings on Mondays until 10PM. The one and only downside of this spot is that you can’t make reservations, which normally we totally understand, but it’s preventing us from claiming the garden every weekend for all eternity.
prospect heights, Park slope, gowanus
Just a few blocks from Barclays, Woodwork tends to only show up on lists of places to watch soccer. However, this bar deserves praise no matter the occasion. The space isn’t too big, it’s dimly lit, and it’s probably not best for larger groups unless you can get there early. But the staff is overwhelmingly accommodating, they have a million beer options, and both their F*ckit Bucket (6 beer cans for $15) and beer/shot deal ($7) are rare finds even for Brooklyn. Woodwork also serves some of the most appetizing food we’ve seen at a bar yet. We especially recommend both the Notorious M.A.C. (with chorizo) and pulled pork sliders.
How convenient... there are three awesome food vendors at Berg’n: currently Mighty Quinn’s, Samesa, and Lumpia Shack. All the fixings to get you through a whole game, plus overtime. After all, eating your feelings is going to be necessary as you watch your bracket fall apart in the first round.
Three things we love: sports, BBQ, and Red Hook. Which is why we feel it’s our public duty to send you to Hometown BBQ for your next game-viewing session. We are huge fans of their TV setup, the really nice staff, and most importantly, their BBQ meats, which are hands down the best in NYC.
astoria & long island city
Kansas runs deep at this KC-style BBQ joint, which doubles as a five-borough Chiefs fan convention throughout football season and transforms into the ideal spot to watch the Jayhawks romp through March. Whether or not you’ll have a good view of the game or be able to hear the game sound will depend on how good of a spot you can grab before tip-off. But even just the atmosphere here can be worth the trek. That and the burnt ends. And the rib tips. And the beef brisket. And pretty much the rest of the menu.
This Astoria classic has the ideal vibe for outdoor game-watching, with several different seating options and two massive projector screens. We also love the friendly vibes, accommodating staff, and regular patrons from all different fan bases. Nutrition-wise, we recommend you wash down platters upon platters of wings with one of their many pitcher deal options.