Even if you haven’t already given up on cable, your apartment isn’t always the best place to watch sports. Bars, on the other hand, never run out of ice, cold beer, or fans who are as equally superstitious as you are, all while giving you the ability to cheer on a bunch of people you’ll never meet in real life. Plus, you’re not going to make tacos or wings at home, and if you get them delivered, you run the risk of ruining your sofa.
Here are some of our favorite bars and restaurants to watch sports around the city. They all have good food (or let you bring your own in), and they all have more than enough TVs to serve your athletic needs. Go team.
If you like to feel like you’re actually on a team when you watch sports, head to Bus Stop in Cow Hollow. You’ll find a fan of every team imaginable in here all in the same space, but it’s also small enough where you’ll end up making friends with your sworn enemies and probably buying each other rounds. For larger games, they cover up the pool tables in the back to create more places to sit or put your drink down. There’s also a different drink special each night and while they don’t have food here, they let you bring in from anywhere.
Mauna Loa is more of a dive than a sports bar, and while watching a game here can start out pretty tame, by the last few minutes, nearly everyone will be packed around the bar yelling at the TV like the players can actually hear them. There’s also a pool table if the game is more boring than the fifth Cialis commercial of the day to come on during a timeout. Plus, when you’re watching basketball and your friend claims that he could do better than the clowns on TV, there’s a pop-a-shot in the back so you can put them in their place.
Irish Times in the Financial District is a solid place to go after work when you want to catch the tail end of a baseball game. Unlike a lot of spots, this one has large windows next to the TV, so on a nice afternoon, you can actually enjoy the weather when it doesn’t make you want to start looking at vacation websites. Other than that, the service here is pretty quick and the food is solid - get some wings.
If you can’t decide whether you’d rather be outside today or watching a game, tell everyone to meet you at Valley Tavern in Noe Valley. The back patio is one of the best in the city - it has multiple levels to it, each with a large picnic table and TV so your friends can feel like they have their own private patio while everyone watches the game. There’s no food here, but they let you carry in if you’re willing to put in the effort, so stop by Little Chihuahua down the street before you pop in.
When you have a big, big group getting together to watch the Warriors, steer towards going to Southern Pacific for the night. This place is huge, the beer they brew is solid and not expensive, and the food is legitimately good, from the burger you should eat if you’re starving to the brussels sprouts you could get if you want a mindless snack that could almost be considered healthy. Plus, after the game is over, it just feels like you’re at someone’s birthday party, so it’s a good place to hang out for a while.
This place in the Lower Haight is primarily a soccer bar, but they show pretty much any sport that involves a scoreboard too. It feels more like a divey pub than a sports bar, with U-shaped booths for groups and a big bar for anyone who comes solo. And when you keep getting calls from your coworker asking why the ref/ump/line judge didn’t make some sort of call, you can just head to the back patio so you can keep drinking while you listen to their incessant ramblings.
We don’t walk around with a pitch counter, but we’re pretty sure The Boardroom has more screens than any other bar in North Beach. They also have solid wings (get the honey-garlic), and if you’re here for Monday Night Football, you can get them for 50 cents each. There’s also a pool table to shoot on while you discuss all the bad calls made during the game.
Golden Gate Tap Room is SF’s answer to Dave & Buster’s. It’s a multistory, adult playground with over 100 different beers and more square footage of screens than some of the mansions in Pac Heights have in actual floor space. The lower level is split into a bunch of sections with booths, pool tables, and other games, and the upper level is one gigantic space with enormous TVs on the walls. This is not a sports bar - it’s what would happen if a sports bar never stopped hitting the gym.
The back deck at Marengo has stolen many of our afternoons and been there the next morning to remind us of it for the whole day. The drinks are great, the roof is open on the three days a year when the sun is shining, and most importantly, sports are on TV. The sliders are delicious too.
While Schroeder’s is mostly known as a place to eat wienerschnitzel, it’s also a pretty great place to watch sports. They add in extra TVs for big games, you can sit at the bar or at a table and still have a good view, and the tater tots are delightful.
There isn’t one corner of Greens Sports Bar in Russian Hill that lets you forget that it solely exists for people to to watch, talk about, think about, and breathe sports. Every surface is covered in photos of baseball players holding bats, football players holding trophies, and Sports Illustrated swimsuit models holding someone in you’re group’s attention for about half a second too long. They don’t have food here, but they’ll let you bring in from places around the neighborhood.
This place has lots of bar seating and lots of tacos, two reasons why it’s one of the best places to watch sports in the Outer Sunset. It’s especially great if you’re someone who likes to watch football in silence - the long bar ensures you won’t have to interact with anyone unless you really, really want to.
Yelling at the TV can work up an appetite, and that’s one of the main reasons we go to Giordano Bros. in the Mission to watch sports. The sandwiches here are huge and come with fries on them, so you don’t have to waste time putting your sandwich down to get one.
SFAC has all of the essentials of any great sports bar, with the additions of TVs hanging from the ceiling and booths that you, or your neurotic planner friends, can reserve ahead of time. Aside from the guaranteed place to sit, you can also order a bathtub of beer directly to your booth, which is both cheaper and way cooler than just getting a bucket of bottles to share.
Wings and watching four uninterrupted hours of football or basketball go together like Bert and Ernie or early hip hop and the ’85 Bears, and the wings at Kezar in Cole Valley are excellent. This is a great bar to watch soccer, but they show pretty much everything, so it’s also a good place to catch whatever team or sport you’ve cheered for since before you knew why you were cheering.
A long bar, lots of TVs and booths, and a prime Union Street location bring us back to The Brick Yard regularly. It also doesn’t hurt that the sweet potato chips and fried chicken sliders are great. And if you need something with a hint of nutritional value to balance out the four beers you’re going to drink, they have a decent kale salad too.
As gay sports bar slogans go, “Cold Pitchers, Hot Catchers” pretty much takes the cake. Who cares if it’s not baseball season, or if it is, or if you hate baseball. Hi Tops is genius. The bartenders may be shirtless and the crowd may be intense, but that’s part of the charm. Sports are always on TV and the drinks and corn dogs are always delicious.
As cramped as dives typically are, Final Final is the opposite. This place is big, with plenty of TVs and places to sit with your friends and watch those TVs. There are also a couple of pool tables if you can juggle watching and playing sports, but if you can’t, there’s free popcorn to keep your hands occupied while your eyes are glued to a screen.