There’s a pretty big college football contest happening on Monday between Notre Dame and Alabama. If your game plan doesn’t include watching the action live in Miami or attending a co-worker’s get-together this year, you may still want to be a part of a festive atmosphere. We scouted bars and gastropubs around the nation and found eight pigskin palaces to try for the BCS National Championship. So, even if your team loses in the big game, you’ll still leave feeling like a winner.
Public House, Chicago
Public House in Chicago’s River North neighborhood is a prime spot to cheer on the city’s beloved Cubbies, Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks (that is, when the NHL lockout ends). With 27 plasma TVs and a giant 84-inch HD video wall, you’ll have a harder time ignoring a game than watching one here. Public House has 103 different types of beer on the menu, including the house brew by Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Company. Tip: Snag one of the 12 table tap booths so you can pour your own brew without having to wave down a waitress every time you want a refill.
Barney’s Beanery, multiple locations in Los Angeles
This L.A. institution first opened in West Hollywood in 1920 as a spot for travelers on Route 66 to stop for a cold beer. Today, its five locations feature funky atmospheres with both indoor and outdoor seating, some with as many as 60 HDTVs, 200 beers and 700 menu items. Most fans stick to the big screens where they can cheer on their teams, but you can also challenge a friend to a game of air hockey or pool during halftime.
Cheli’s Chili Bar, Detroit
Detroit isn’t just about rock ‘n’ roll; the Motor City also takes sports seriously. This bar is named after hockey great and owner Chris Chelios, a former defenseman for the Detroit Red Wings. Located in downtown Detroit, Cheli’s Chili Bar has 36 HDTVs, a large patio for outdoor viewing in warmer weather (alas, not during hockey season), and is located near all of Detroit’s sports arenas. Many fans take the shuttle to Joe Louis Arena for a Red Wings game after fueling up at Cheli’s.
It doesn’t get much bigger—or better—in Atlanta. This sprawling downtown spot has 16,000 square feet of space filled with 70 high-definition TVs, multiple bars, several different rooms and a rooftop patio with a skyline view. The American menu features elevated bar classics such as grilled mahi mahi sandwiches, Asian-style pork ribs and marinated steak tips. STATS also has seven high-top tables with personal built-in beer taps—reserve one in advance because they’re guaranteed to go faster than the Atlanta Falcons’ star running back Michael “The Burner” Turner.
Crown & Anchor, Las Vegas
Las Vegas soccer fans head here to watch live games, as this British pub is open 24 hours a day. Here you can eschew standard American eats for traditional English fare such as bangers and mash (English style sausage and homemade mashed potatoes) or the Ploughmans Lunch, which features slices of English cheddar and Stilton cheeses, tomato, cucumber and beets on a roll. On the TVs, soccer reigns—you’ll see both UEFA and Major League Soccer games. The place is usually packed, which is at least half the fun—the other half is fueled by the 30 beers (Smithwick’s Irish Ale, Guinness, Bass, Abbot Ale) on tap.
Kezar Pub & Restaurant, San Francisco
Huge sports bars are great for some games, but if you’re looking for a more traditional experience, pull up a seat at Kezar Pub & Restaurant. The Irish pub in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood has pool tables, darts, video games and 20 TVs. Wash down an order of the signature spicy wings with a pint of Guinness and settle in for an authentic Irish pub experience. No matter which sport you favor, you’ll probably find it playing here—there are 23 different channels featured on the big-screens, depending on the day’s lineup.
Lagasse’s Stadium, Las Vegas
Star chef Emeril Lagasse scores big with his 25,000-square-foot spot on the Vegas Strip, adding a bit of his own flavor to the traditional sports bar scene. Instead of run-of-the-mill burgers and brats, Lagasse’s Stadium at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Palazzo serves up gourmet eats like signature steak sandwiches served with a secret sauce and a BLT made with roasted pork belly served on brioche bread. Opt for a table in the main dining area or eat in the bar’s theater style seating, which features a 10-by-20-foot projection screen and semi-private skyboxes.
The Windsor, New York City
This West Village gastropub feels more like a country club lounge than a sports bar with oak tables, pinstripe walls and a wine menu. The high tables are prime seats for groups to cheer on the New York Knicks, but we’re partial to the comfy crimson-hued banquettes. Score one of these booths at The Windsor and you’ll get your own flat-screen HDTV. The food here, too, is high-end—think truffle grilled cheese and coffee bourbon barbecue ribs.
Photos Courtesy of Legacy Property Group LLC, The Five Star Travel Corporation and Seth Kammueller