The 20 Best Sports Bars In NYC
photo credit: Andrew Sokolow
Most sports bars in New York City suck at being sports bars. They’re either frat houses filled with people who wish they were still in frats, normal bars with a couple of TVs and an ESPN subscription, or lounges where MBA alumni groups use games as an excuse to “grow their networks.” But there are some exceptions that take their sports seriously. These spots have lots of TVs and enough seating to ensure that you won’t be standing for four straight hours, and they show everything from the World Cup to college water polo.
The Hairy Lemon is for the sort of people who block off their entire Saturdays during college football season. If you don't understand this particular brand of devotion, we have no idea why you're reading this guide. This bar has about 20 TVs, which take up almost every available inch of wall space, and you can order things like salmon tartare with sturgeon caviar and a nice bouillabaisse. Kidding, obviously. Get some wings, fries, and pints like everyone else, and cheer on your favorite team (unless you're from Boston, in which case just stay home).
This sports bar chain has four locations around Manhattan, and the one in FiDi is in a huge space with plenty of TVs, but not so many that you'll get sensory overload. Stout is the perfect place if you want a more civilized sports viewing experience with personal space. The ceiling looks like it's about 20 feet tall, all the tables are situated far apart, and the whole room is bathed in pleasant dim lighting. Although the focus here is on beers, you can get unlimited Bloody Marys, rum punch, screwdrivers, or mimosas for three hours ($33) on the weekends until 4pm. It just so happens that a lot of football is played in this country on Saturdays and Sundays before 4pm.
photo credit: Andrew Sokolow
Some people have yet to fully invest their emotional wellbeing in a kicker who doesn’t care whether they win a four-leg parlay. If you’re hanging out with folks like that, get a table at Rocco’s in Greenwich Village. Think of this place as a casual cocktail lounge dressed up like a fun sports bar, with food like a “Gameday” crudités board and vegan buffalo queso. Non-sports friends will appreciate the retro design and comfy leather booths, and you’ll have a nice time watching your kicker doink a field goal on the mini jumbotron.
The name of this place tells you everything you need to know. Located on 33rd between 5th and Madison, this bar has 40 taps from which you can serve yourself beer with a card that you load with money. That means less time trying to get a server's attention and more time placing ill-advised sports bets. If you get hungry, you can order things like a club sandwich, fries, and wings. This spot is open until 1am, Thursday to Saturday, so it's useful for those marathon night matches during the US Open.
The best seats at Claras are on the random couch in the back that’s positioned in front of a huge projector screen. If you’d rather not sit a few feet from whatever game you’re watching, you can also grab a booth or a table up front. This Bushwick sports bar has plenty of room, and it’s filled with TVs, so you can watch multiple games at the same time. The halfway-divey space is filled with Christmas lights, and, for a place that looks like an off-campus frat house, all of the food is surprisingly good. Get some Buffalo wings and a fried chicken sandwich topped with bacon.
Buffalo wings are like different kinds of teleconferencing software—for something so common and seemingly straightforward, it’s amazing how often they just kind of suck. We don’t have the answer for how to fix that echo or mute the marketing team, but we can help with wings: Go to Mudville 9 in Tribeca. The meaty, not-too-crispy wings go well with towers of any of the 20 or so draft beers, and if you tell them what game you’re most interested in when you make a reservation, they’ll make sure it’s playing on the big screen nearest to your table.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Harlem Tavern isn’t explicitly a sports bar, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great spot to watch your team. You should come here to watch games and drink pitchers of the many beers on tap, but just know that when you’re cursing at James Dolan for not pulling the trigger on a trade, there will probably be a family eating brunch at the table behind you. Mumble an apology, take a quick look at their selection of burgers, and then order one yourself.
Don’t go to Hair Of The Dog and complain to us when an NYU undergrad chugs your mom’s pinot grigio thinking it’s lemon water. There’s nothing refined about this dark, crowded bar on the LES, but if you’re fine with that, then the abundance of big screens and projectors makes it a good place to watch sports. They also have drink specials every day, so you can play some relatively cheap games of beer pong against a couple guys in Bengals jerseys taking it way too seriously.
Smithfield Hall is one of the best soccer bars in New York City. You can happily come to this huge spot in Chelsea wearing the Liverpool or Barcelona scarf you got during your semester abroad, but it’s also where you should go to watch a Dutch league match at 9am with crowds of people talking about the most promising prospects in the Ajax youth academy. There are a ton of TVs, and if you contact them ahead of time, they’ll almost always put whatever match you want to watch on at least one of them.
When a friend describes the way you choose to spend your Sundays as “black hole time,” you usually just tell them there’s nothing wrong with having a hobby. But after a day spent watching sports at The Grayson, you’ll understand where they’re coming from. This narrow East Village bar doesn’t get much natural light, and it has so many TVs playing so many games that time begins to feel like it stops with each challenge flag and TV timeout. It doesn’t, though, and you’ll leave with very little sense of where the last eight hours went.
Break Bar is like an amusement park for adults. Instead of face painting and teacups that spin you around until you’re nauseous, this huge, industrial space in Astoria has pool and ping pong tables, mini bocce courts, and giant Connect 4. All the activities make it a great spot to day drink with a group, but this also happens to be one of the best sports bars in the city. There are pitchers of beer, great Buffalo wings, and TVs and projectors everywhere—including around the pool tables in case you feel like multitasking.
photo credit: Kate Previte
Blue Haven is a big space right on Houston Street, so it’s a useful option when you’re looking for a convenient meeting place to watch ACC football, or something actually worth your time, like ACC basketball. But it’d be a good place to watch games no matter the location. It always tends to be the right amount of crowded, there are lots of TVs including one that’s seven feet across, and the floor-to-ceiling windows provide healthy reminders that Duke winning again isn’t, in fact, the end of the world.
For sporting events that are very important to us, we don’t like to be in particularly social situations. It’s awkward to scream profanity into our sweatshirts while someone’s friend of a friend talks about their kids, and all we really want is to focus on the game. One of the best bars to do that without distraction is Standings in the East Village. It’s like a studio apartment in terms of its size, but with a few key differences. The whole space is covered in TVs, volume is always up, and high-quality beers are on tap.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
There are lots of places to watch sports on the Upper West Side, but most of them are either random pubs that show replays of Yankees games with subtitles, or they’re bright college bars that smell like spilled light beer. Blondies is an exception. There are a bunch of tables you can reserve ahead of time, TVs playing the biggest games, and some of the best Buffalo wings in the city.
photo credit: Bryan Kim
If you want to watch a game in Hell’s Kitchen, go to Scruffy Duffy’s. For a sports bar, this place actually smells pretty pleasant (like a nice candle from Target), and the space features a pool table, a few dart boards, and plenty of TVs. Expect all of your typical cheesy Midtown pub decor like vintage beer signs and Irish souvenirs, and don’t leave without eating at least one order of Scruffy Duffy’s semi-famous Buffalo wings. They arrive crispy and absolutely doused in sauce.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Whether you can’t find anyone else interested in watching preseason Padres games, or you don’t feel like listening to a friend talk about deleting dating apps again while the game’s on, keep Bodega 88 in mind. This Upper West Side spot is about the size of a small apartment, but it has big screens behind the bar and individual screens at every booth, so it’s perfect for flying solo. Order a strong caipirinha and some of the Latin-influenced bar food, like fried calamari with a Dominican honey glaze.
photo credit: Ryan Muir
Reservoir is in the middle of NYU, it stays open until 2am every day, and it attracts plenty of students. But it feels like less of an undergrad bar than other places showing sports in Greenwich Village. That’s partly because there are no beer pong tables, but it’s also because the focus here is on sports. (That’s especially true during Steelers games.) Most people use the long, dark space as a spot to get wings and beers while watching games rather than a place to go out.
The Whiskey on Grand is part of the same group as Whiskey Town, The Whiskey Annex, and a bunch of other bars around the city with "whiskey" in their names. As you might imagine, they offer a bunch of whiskeys here, which can come in handy if you’re a Jets fan. This place has a long bar as well as a bunch of booths for big groups, and no matter where you’re sitting or standing, you’ll have a good view of the raised TVs behind the bar. There are also some games on hand in case some people in your group don’t feel like staring at TVs for seven hours straight.
The Gramercy location of Triona’s is near Stuy-Town and Kips Bay—two places with more Michigan grads than Morgan Stanley’s training program—which helps explain why this Irish pub identifies itself as a Michigan bar (as well as a place for Chicago sports fans). But whether you want to drink pitchers of light beer surrounded by people wearing “Buck The F*ckeyes” shirts or you’re just looking for a spot with lots of TVs and bar seating, Triona’s is one of the best sports bars in the neighborhood.
When there are no games to watch, most sports bars feel like Santa’s workshop in July but with less eggnog and more Fireball. Even though Bronx Alehouse is a good spot to watch games (lots of TVs, plenty of seating), it’s just as pleasant when the TVs are off. That’s because this big bar in Kingsbridge has a very good beer selection and bar food like a burger topped with pulled port that make it worth seeking out for lunch or dinner anytime.