Where to Watch the NCAA Tournament
Thursday, March 30, 2006; 2:04 PM
The Final Four is upon us, and since many bars in the Washington area offer the full NCAA package, it takes something special to stand out from the pack. For us, that could be a number of high-definition screens, cheering alumni, cheap drinks or a combination of all three. Here are 10 places we think are as reliable as a J.J. Redick foul shot when it's basketball season.
Crystal City Sports Pub
Loyal alumni groups, dozens of televisions and great sightlines make the Crystal City Sports Pub the best place in the area for watching college basketball. Tarheels, Sooners, Wolfpack and Fighting Illini all call the place home. Early arrival is required if you want to get a spot at a table.
Owner Kevin Grevey played for Kentucky in the 1975 NCAA final -- the Wildcats lost to UCLA -- before joining the Washington Bullets and helping them win the 1978 NBA championship. Naturally, his bar -- covered with brass, dark wood and a museum's worth of sports memorabilia -- is ground zero for Wildcats during March Madness, but fans of Penn State, Connecticut, Louisville, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Florida State also gather in nooks around the saloon-style restaurant. There are enough televisions for everyone, even when games are played simultaneously, but arriving early to stake out seats is a good idea. Note: Grevey's suffered extensive damage in a recent fire, but expects to reopen by Friday, March 17. You may want to call first before heading out.
One of the top sports bars around, Mister Days has more than 60 TVs, including two jumbo 119-inch projection screens and numerous plasma and hi-definition sets, which provide great views from most seats. Food and drink specials are frequent, and there's a bracket contest starting Selection Sunday with prizes for the winners.
If you're planning a "business lunch" during the NCAA tournament, Porter's is a good place to schedule it. Fifteen televisions of varying sizes and definition levels are arranged over three levels of this brick-walled saloon, and the best spots -- especially near the main bar -- go quickly, especially to Boston College and Maryland fans. The low-ceilinged basement is often standing room only.
The Pour House
The sports bar of choice on Capitol Hill, the Pour House has a "video wall" jigsaw of television screens, and there are more than two dozen TVs over the bar's three floors. There are also nightly food and drink specials, which you can find at politiki-dc.com. Since the Hill attracts young people from all over the country, most teams will have at least one supporter.
Packed with Georgetown students and Ohio State and Syracuse alums, Rhino Bar is a great place for watching games in a college-bar atmosphere, with three huge projection screens, 25 other televisions and nightly specials. (Check rhinobardc.com for the list.) DJs and dancing are featured after weekend games.
The Ugly Mug
Eleven plasma screens doesn't sound like much, but this Barracks Row watering hole makes up for it with friendly bartenders and some great specials during NCAA games: $2 Miller Lite pints and $11 pitchers, and $5 plates of pepperoni rolls.
Formerly the Park Bench Pub, the basement-level Uptown Tavern is a great place to watch a game. Packed with twentysomethings rooting primarly for ACC and Big East schools, the bar has a large projection screen, a number of high-definition plasma TVs and -- this is key -- cheap nightly drink specials that may include $2 PBR cans, $3 Miller Lite drafts or even $3 shots. DJs spin on Friday and Saturday nights.
Ventnor Sports Cafe
Going out bar-hopping in Adams Morgan and need to catch your school's game first? Ventnor has a downstairs bar with a number of flat-screen televisions and a second-floor lounge with leather couches and more flat-screens. Ventnor is opening at 11:30 a.m. for all NCAA and World Baseball Classic games. DJs spin on Saturday nights.
Willie and Reed's
If you watch the early-round games at Willie and Reed's, you could win one of four trips to Las Vegas for the Sweet 16. Just remember to fill out a form and enter. Even if you don't win, 25 high-definition plasma screens make it the best place in Bethesda for March Madness.