Where To Go When Some People In Your Group Care More About Sports Than Others
22 bars where you can watch sports on TV, but also do other things like eat good food and play games.
Maybe you really want to watch the game, but your friends would rather not spend the afternoon in a bar that feels like an Applebee’s with more bathroom graffiti. Or perhaps you’ve had plans to go out with a big group for weeks, but then the Jets shocked the Patriots, won the East, and now there’s a playoff game that you really don’t want to DVR. Well, that’s not realistic, but you get the point. You want to watch some sports, but also have the option to do other things - like play pool, drink good beers outside, or speak at a reasonable volume with people who aren’t wearing jerseys. The next time you find yourself in such a situation, go to any one of these 22 spots.
If you walk by Berry Park on a weekend afternoon, you might see people in Liverpool scarves sharing cigarettes with other people dressed like they’re ready to get a bottle and three mixers in Meatpacking. This is because the ground floor here has flat screens and a big projector, and is a pretty serious soccer bar that plays games with plenty of volume - but the rooftop has a bunch of tables and its own bar, all with nice views of Manhattan. Come here with some friends who aren’t into sports, and join their table on the roof once you’re ready to trade the scarf and Carlsberg for sunglasses and a vodka soda.
The Half Pint
Some of your friends want brunch, others want to watch the Steelers game while emptying beer towers, and nobody wants a crowded space filled with people in Roethlisberger jerseys trying to start “New York sucks” chants every 15 minutes. The Half Pint should make everyone happy. This casual spot a block south of Washington Square Park has a lot of TVs and about 15 draft beers you can get in tower format, but there are more people sitting at tables eating BEC burgers than standing by the bars. In case your brunch-focused friends want some drinks as well, they can do bottomless cocktails for $19.
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Warren 77 has buffalo wings, cheesesteaks, and a bunch of TVs - plus, the space is decked out with classic sports memorabilia. But it’s also in Tribeca, and was opened by one of the owners of of Holy Ground, A Summer Day Cafe, and Tiny’s (all places where you might plausibly find Kings Of Leon hanging out after a show). So it’s not surprising that the space is dimly-lit, and the seating is mostly big leather booths that you can reserve ahead of time. If the loungey atmosphere and cachaca cocktails aren’t enough to keep your friends entertained, there are also some arcade-style games in the back.
Brooklyn Tap House
Brooklyn Tap House is a serious sports bar, especially for NFL and Big 10 games, and it’s one of the best spots in the entire city to watch football. But this Bed-Stuy bar makes our guide because of its excellent beer selection - they have over 40 beers on tap - and its big backyard. The outdoor space has a bunch of big screens, so your whole group can drink outside without anyone needing to prop up their iPhone and keep one earbud in the whole day.
Your roommates don’t actively dislike sports, but they complain about going to sports bars because they don’t want to eat jalapeno poppers or room-temperature chicken tenders. Finnerty’s is an East Village sports bar with a BYO food policy, so you can bring in Han Dynasty or Joe’s Pizza whenever you get hungry - both are a block away. They also offer the option to reserve a keg, which is a good move if you want to day drink with a big group while watching pretty much any game you want (they have a lot of TVs).
If all the sports bars and Irish pubs in Midtown East closed for a day, walking around would make you feel a little like Will Smith in I Am Legend (just without the zombies). One place that would still be serving drinks, though, is The Stag’s Head. It has a good number of flat screens, and they even put the volume on for certain games, but it’s much more of a beer bar than a sports bar. They have 16 rotating beers on tap, mostly from small breweries in the Northeast, and all of them are $5 or $6 during Happy Hour. There’s also a nice backyard that’s one of the better spots for a casual outdoor drink in Midtown.
Some of your friends can rattle off Tom Brady’s MVP seasons, and others only know him as Gisele’s husband. But they all want a rowdy space to day drink with a big group. Go to Houston Hall in the West Village, and drink liter-sized steins of beer at communal tables in the huge, high-ceilinged space. They play games on big TVs on the walls, but more people here are interested in talking about where Tom and Gisele rank among celebrity power couples than whatever is happening on the screens.
Clara’s is a sports bar in Bushwick, but it’s more for people who like to be sports-adjacent than for Islanders fans who yell “drop your gloves” at the TV every five minutes. There are TVs in the bar area and a projector in the back, but there’s also a pool table, and seating if you want to eat a $10 fried chicken sandwich with Old Bay fries.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
If you’re going out with 20 people, chances are at least a few of them won’t care that another 35-year-old former soccer star is joining NYCFC. They’ll just want some good beers and burgers, and enough space that they can talk with friends without having to scream over a group of Manchester City fans. Head to Harlem Tavern, which has multiple rooms and a big outdoor space, all with plenty of seating for big groups and good views of the TVs.
Daddy-O only has a couple of TVs, but this West Village cocktail bar is the size of a flex one-bedroom, so everyone has a decent view of the screens. Big games are always shown, but it’s primarily a cocktail spot where you can get a booth with friends, or sit at the bar and try any of the 30 different types of single-malt scotch. If you’re looking to catch a day game, they do Happy Hour until 7pm during the week and 5pm on weekends.
When you think about multi-story sports bars in Murray Hill, you may picture places like Tonic, and decide that you’d rather just watch the game on silent in your apartment while your roommate plays Sweet Child O’ Mine on the synthesizer. But Tavern29 is different. It’s much more low-key than Tonic, and is a popular Happy Hour spot for people who work in the area. The huge space has a ton of seating options indoors and in the rooftop beer garden, and wherever you sit, you can watch sports and order from a long menu of beer and solid bar food.
Iona is a narrow, dimly-lit beer bar that looks like it could be in Newcastle or Wolverhampton - even more so on weekends when the bar area gets packed with people watching soccer on the flat screens and projector TVs. But if you’re not really into soccer (or whatever sport they’re showing), head to the big backyard, play some ping pong, and drink $4 beers during Happy Hour (every day until 7pm).
The Jeffrey is the ultimate uptown utility bar. This spot on the border of Midtown East and the Upper East Side has 30 beers on tap - most of which are rare ones that will impress your friend who experiments with different types of hops in his home brew unit - as well as some very good bar food, like bacon-wrapped dates and a lamb burger with cumin mayo and mint yogurt. They also serve some very unusual cocktails, and they have a very nice backyard.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Amsterdam Ale House
There are a lot of places to watch sports on Amsterdam Avenue, but if you don’t want to risk having your drink knocked out of your hand by someone chasing a stray beer pong ball, your options are more limited. Fortunately, Amsterdam Ale House is a casual spot with plenty of bar seats and tables, as well as some unusual beers (over 30 varieties on tap), and no Solo cups or puddles of Miller Lite on the floor.
Morgan’s BBQ shows sports on TVs around its big U-shaped bar, but that’s not the main reason you come here. This indoor/outdoor BBQ spot in Prospect Heights is great for day drinking, and they serve some very good smoked brisket and pulled pork. Also, in case you’re one of the few people in the city who goes out of their way to catch the front end of a Mets doubleheader, they offer Happy Hour on food and drinks until 6pm.
Maybe you need a place to watch Monday Night Football with clients, or perhaps your little brother wants to watch college football with the rest of the JP Morgan training program. Either way, The Ainsworth in Chelsea is a good choice. It’s a big bar that works when some people want to watch sports (there are a ton of TVs), and some are more interested in an upscale space to wear business casual and drink Manhattans at 3pm on a Saturday.
Like the other Clinton Hall locations around the city, this one (a block from Fordham in The Bronx) has about 20 beers on tap, a bunch of TVs playing sports all day, and a big menu of bar food, including about 15 different types of burgers. For people who don’t feel like talking about how at least the Giants will get a high draft pick next year, there are also oversized versions of Jenga and Connect 4.
Kettle of Fish
Kettle Of Fish gets fairly rowdy during Packers and University of Wisconsin games, but besides that, it’s a low-key spot for drinks in the West Village. Sports are on the TVs by the bar, but you can also play darts, Pacman, and board games, or queue up Ironic by Alanis Morissette on the jukebox.
If you’re into any of the following three things, then you’ll probably have a good time at Queens Bully: BBQ, day drinking, and football on TV. This big spot on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills serves good BBQ - we especially like the brisket and smoked chicken - and has a long bar and a bunch of communal tables, all with good views of the big screens on the walls.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Jake’s Dilemma may remind you of bars where you watched sports in college, in that it’s a big, bright space filled with groups standing in circles drinking pitchers of light beer. This Upper West Side spot definitely feels like a sports bar in the last few minutes of big games, but there are also always people here who care more about holding down a beer pong table than watching what’s happening on the big screens.
You may know of Alligator Lounge as that dive-y bar in Williamsburg that does $6 shot and beer combos and gives out free pizzas to anyone who buys a drink. While they do that, and it’s a pretty crazy deal, this place is also a solid spot to watch sports, especially NFL games on Sundays. There’s also a pool table and some games like Connect 4 and Jenga, and they do free karaoke most nights as well.
Break Bar is a huge pool hall in Astoria with big screens and projectors throughout the space (sometimes playing volume for games), but if you’re not interested in watching Lebron drop 50 on the Knicks, there are also lots of pool tables, as well as ping pong, foosball, darts, and arcade games. There’s a full menu of bar food, too, and if you like BBQ or Thai food, Strand Smokehouse and Pye Boat Noodle are both a couple blocks away.