Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Sports Bars For Foodies, The Sports-Averse

With the NFL playoffs underway, multitudes of jock-averse women and effeminate, girlie men (like me) find themselves facing a challenging predicament over the next couple of weeks. On one hand, forgoing a “Millionaire Matchmaker” marathon on Bravo to watch a playoff game at a sports bar seems excruciating. Still, missing out on the camaraderie and, more importantly, the gluttony of the playoffs is even more upsetting. After all, nothing’s more fun than gorging oneself on well-prepared wings, burgers and quality beer, activities which can make any sporting event—even basebal!—entertaining.

The question, of course, is where can New Yorkers go to make the experience bearable. Those who are disinclined to jerseys, vomit, beer pong and getting their asses beat, should obviously steer clear of Nevada Smiths, the Pourhouse and the other frat houses that make up Third Avenue’s bro-row. Especially since there are plenty of superior alternatives. Granted, there’s no way to avoid the crowds or the meatheads when a big game is on, but here are a few establishments worth checking out for those among us more interested in the food and the beer than the homoerotic opera known as the NFL.

Park Slope

200 Fifth Restaurant & Bar
200 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
Park Slope is more World Cup than NFL these days (football makes expats from Vermont and San Francisco almost as uncomfortable as being more that 100 yards away from a park) so it’s fitting that 200 Fifth doesn’t conform to the traditional mold. Part Italian restaurant, part ESPN Zone 200 Fifth hosts a raucous scene where gluttons can order some old school shrimp scampi after they’ve warmed up with some first quarter jalapeno poppers.
Frat Boy/Meathead quotient: Medium
Suds: Forty beers on tap including Arrogant Bastard Ale and Dogfish 60 Minute IPA
Food highlight: Grilled Turkey Meatloaf Sandwich


122 W 26th Street, New York, 10001
I’m not sure which is more of an oxymoron: ‘Chelsea sports bar’ or ‘locavore football food’ but this elegantly-designed, 6,000 square foot bar strives to make your football viewing experience très chic. Book a table ahead of time to secure a spot.
Frat Boy/Meathead quotient: Low
Suds: Rogue Dead Guy, Goose Island
Food highlights: Lobster po' boy sliders, smoked-pork empanadas

Meatpacking District

Bill's Bar & Burger
22 Ninth Avenue., New York, NY 10014
I preferred going here when it was a shady dive known as The Hog Pit—a country-themed bar that was the restroom of choice for transvestite hookers circa 1998 when the neighborhood was still remarkably seedy. Still, there’s no denying the food is better now. Go for the burgers, stay for the game.
Frat Boy/Meathead quotient: Medium, but sometimes made worse by out-of-towners and Eurotrash
Suds: Six Point Sweet Action, Brooklyn Brown
Food highlight: Burger with cheese fries


Blackbirds Bar
4119 30th Avenue, Queens, New York 11103
It’s hard to find a sports bars in Queens where you don’t have to worry about getting beat to a bloody pulp should you fail to have a Jets tattoo on prominent display, but Blackbirds is the exception. A generally friendly establishment, Blackbirds has something that’s even more difficult to find in the borough’s sports bars: a selection of good beers on tap. Plus, they have a special NFL menu featuring all the standards prepared to greasy perfection.
Frat Boy/Meathead quotient: High
Suds: Twelve brews on tap including Weihenstephan Dunkel and Peak Organic IPA
Food highlight: Wings (Get them mild. Frat boys who frequent sports bars prefer them HOT—the ability to eat “nuclear” wings evidently compensates for having a small penis.)


Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Sure it’s a bowling alley, but it’s a bowling alley with an enormous bar, several screens and excellent comfort food by Blue Ribbon. Sometimes you’ll have to compete with live music or DJs, so if your friends enjoy the always-hilarious banter of Jimmy Johnson, Terry Bradshaw and that Dolph Lundgrin-wannabe with the sweaty flattop, they may be out of luck, but the food should make up for any disappointments.
Frat Boy/Meathead quotient: Low
Suds: Kelso, Brooklyn Brewery, Six Point
Food highlight: Fried chicken, wings, Brooklyn brisket

Chelsea Piers

Chelsea Brewing Company
Pier 59, West Side Hwy., New York, NY 10011
Yes, it’s a walk from the train, but Chelsea Brewing Company is out-of-the way enough to avoid getting too crowded, even on game day. Plus it’s huge and has a lovely view of, um, Jersey. In a town that’s short on microbreweries, Chelsea Brewing Company is a nice choice if you’re simply watching the game as an excuse to down some good beer.
Frat Boy/Meathead quotient: Medium
Suds: Try the sampler, it’s the easiest and cheapest way to taste all of CBC’s bestsellers.
Food highlight: The food is nothing to write home about, but the brick oven pizzas are serviceable after a few pints.

East Village

Croxley Ales
28 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009
I didn’t even know that frat boys knew the meaning of cask beers, but they’ve proven me wrong at Croxley Ales. Plus, the wings here are so cheap (20 cents a wing on weekends) you’ll feel sorry for the chickens.
Frat Boy/Meathead quotient: High
Suds: 31 taps including a beer on cask and over 100 seasonal bottles
Food highlights: Guinness Stew Pot Pie, Wings

Lower East Side

The Draft
157 Ludlow Street, New York, NY 10002
Formerly Blue Seat (a slick but ill-conceived sports bar with a raw bar—sorry, raw oysters and the Packers don’t go hand-in-hand) The Draft is a now a more traditional sports bar with a twist: the food is good and they have 10 craft beers on draft.
Frat Boy/Meathead quotient: High
Suds: Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale
Food highlights: Asian sesame wings, Sloppy Joe sliders

Park Slope

Dram Shop
339 9th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Four words: fried mac and cheese. Dram shop is a spacious sports bar with a neighborhood feel, even if the neighborhood in question bears no resemblance to its former self. Locals consider the burger to be among the best in the Slope.
Frat Boy/Meathead quotient: Medium
Suds: A dozen beers on tap including Smuttynose IPA
Food highlights: Double cheeseburger with chipotle or garlic mayo, fried mac & cheese


312 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Yes, Williamsburg has a sports bar. And if you thought baggy jerseys were a fashion faux pas, wait until you see them paired with hobo beards and skinny jeans. The food is mediocre, but is much cheaper (if less satisfying) than Brooklyn Bowl.
Frat Boy/Meathead quotient: Low to medium
Suds: Kelso, Brooklyn Brewery, Six Point
Food highlight: Their amazingly-junky chili-and-cheese wiz nachos

West Village

Mr. Dennehy's
63 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014
212. 414.1223
One of the better and more authentic Irish pubs in the city, which is perfect if you’re in the mood for a Guinness and a bartender who will feign confusion if you refer to the NFL as football.
Frat Boy/Meathead quotient: Medium
Suds: Guiness, what else?
Food highlight: Irish Nachos: Pulled Pork, Pickled Jalapenos & Red Onions, Sour Cream

Beach Trilogy, which includes the titles Pre-Coitus, Coitus, and Afterglow. More recent works include The Hipster Handbook and The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right. He is the founder and editor of

Photo by Jason Lam, from Flickr.

37 Comments / Post A Comment

La Cieca (#1,110)

I would totally hang out at "a shady dive known as The Hog Pit*mdash."

Alex Balk (#4)

Fuck. Fixed, thanks.

soco (#8,225)

Who doesn't love the game of basebal!.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Are effeminate girlie-men actually getting their asses beat in sports bars in as great numbers as this post seems to imply? It seems that as long as you don't admit to liking the Eagles, you should be cool, right? (Note: I can't speak for those savages who like the Jets.)

brent_cox (#40)

I have yet to have my ass beat, but my football friends are all girls, so they serve as a shield.

Craig Brownson (#4,257)

Depends on what it means to get your ass beaten. I'll be at the meathead establishments with my fingers crossed!

sigerson (#179)

What the fuck is this bullshit? Nothing north of 26th Street except Chelsea Piers met with your snobbish approval?? FUCK YOU HIPPY.

Bittersweet (#765)

Are sports bars even allowed on the Upper West Side?

David Roth (#4,429)

Some of the city's corniest sports bars are on the UWS. The absolute worst are on the UES. I personally kind of hate sports bars and watching sports therein, but I think it's entirely possible that a serious and scientific survey of non-shitty sports bars could leave out any and all entrants on the UWS/UES.

sigerson (#179)

I was joking in my earlier post. Yes, most every Irish pub in Times Square and every shithole on Second Ave in the 50s sucks. Dorians Red Hand on the UES is insufferable.
That said, some of the good ones (e.g., The Playwright on 49th and 7th) have great food, huge tvs and bartenders who regularly give you extra beers and then lowball the check.
Me, I go to the Sin Bin on First Ave between 58th and 59th, which is full of eccentric drunks possessed of wit and character. It's main qualifier to me is proximity to my apt and the 2 other Redskins fans who regularly attend the Sunday games. But it has no kitchen. So whatever.
But Baker Street Pub on 63rd and First is phenomenal. Go early on Sunday for the EPL matches that start at 11am, roll right into the NFL 1pm games, throw in some rugby and just enjoy. Very solid experience.

Nic (#3,155)

I thought it was required by law to mention the exceptional veggie fries when talking to foodies about Bill's.

Park Slope Ale House isn't a bad bet either.

NinetyNine (#98)

Wait, why would the sports-averse want to watch the playoffs? How about guide to places for New Yorkers to sit and tie themselves in knots about the grubby reality of them enjoying watching sporting events? Oh, that would be everywhere.

Graydon Gordian (#3,206)

In my humble opinion, and I say this as a huge sports junkie, 200 Fifth is the sixth circle of Hell.

gumplr (#66)

I'd put the over/under on total bottles of Nuvo consumed at 200 Fifth on any given Sunday at 250.

David Roth (#4,429)

I've never even gone into 200 Fifth, but from having walked past it on numerous Sundays, I would bet almost any amount of money that Graydon's assessment of its terribleness is correct.

Mr. Dennehy's food isn't that great, but it has the beats-all advantage of tables not being terribly hard to come by. So what I mean to say is: shut up about Mr. Dennehy's!

Abe Sauer (#148)

Thanks for the list of places to which I'll make sure to never go.

cherrispryte (#444)

Is there some sort of rule that requires major East-Coast cities to have a bar named Pourhouse?

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Yes. Ours is on Boylston Street across from Hynes Convention Center.

Kevin Patterson (#5,933)

And it's dreadful.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Dreadful, maybe. But I'm not gonna complain about half-price burgers.

cherrispryte (#444)

I know of the one in Boston! And there is one in DC as well, hence my query. It is similarly dreadful.

Matt (#26)

@cherri: If I wasn't boycotting my Stillers for all time and forevermore due to that bumbling asshole of a rapist they're still paying millions of dollars to throw a ball I would be very upset with you right now. Plus, I mean, all-year-round hanging fern garden on the top level! A basement bar that smells moldy like granddad's secret basement bar! WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE?

Oh, right, it's on the hill.

KeithTalent (#2,014)

There's one in Toronto (arguably not a major city, inarguably not an east coast city). It's not that good, but I'm there all the time.

Murgatroid (#2,904)

Maybe you intend to come off as being a pretentious dick, who knows, but if not, please stop describing yourself and those that are into food (oh, that's EVERYONE) as a "foodie".


Multiphasic (#411)

As an SF Giants fan, I had this issue during the World Series, when Pacific Standard of all places inexplicably became an Eagles bar. Ended up at Mulholland's which isn't so much a hipster sports bar as a bar where hipsters to go be excited about THINGS AND MOTION AND COLORS.

As a Cal fan, I can only say: Pacific Standard (comma) Eagles bar?!?!?!?

Multiphasic (#411)

Seriously. There was a bit of wandering in the desert, since a big Giants blog had already declared Pacific Standard the NYC watch spot; confused sports nerds kept being told the bar wouldn't show the playoffs 'til the Eagles game was over. The popular consensus was that surely Mission Dolores would have the Giants on (NO) and that surely Rock Shop would not (YES).

I wandered past Pac Standard the next day, and they had gone ahead and posted directions on their chalkboard sending everyone interested in watching the Giants to Rock Shop.

Sic semper A's fans, I guess.

David (#192)

Hey, what about Mickey Mantle's Restaurant and Sports Bar on Central Park South, where the food looks just like the picture headlining this posting!!??

C_Webb (#855)

I can't quite seem to stomach wings, since they're basically skin on a stick. Unless of course I'm drunk and/or hungry.

cherrispryte (#444)

Is it bad I keep coming back to this page just to look at those waffle fries?

abbyjean (#508)

fuck this new york city-centric bullshit. west coast for life!!

lbf (#2,343)

Get your own website about media, cute animals and glassings then maybe?

lbf (#2,343)

Also, Weihenstephaner? I'll take Miller Lite over that sheeit.

shacklesflamazo (#9,389)

Mulholland's is the best sports bar in Williamsburg… sorry, no contest.

josh_speed (#97)

I also love the food pr0n, and if that's wrong, I don't want to be right. Additionally: repeat viewings give The Awl pageviews!

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