Where to Watch Football

By Fritz Hahn
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Friday, September 7, 2007 12:00 PM

Whether you're looking for big screens, big crowds or big discounts on food and drinks, our football guide can help. We'll be updating the listings throughout the season, so keep checking back for the latest deals and news.

18th Amendment
Home to alumni from Louisiana State University and Arkansas, as well as fans of the NFL's Carolina Panthers, the small Capitol Hill watering hole has three plasma screens and five smaller screens over two levels. (Note that the speakeasy-themed basement is open Saturday, but not Sunday.) Drink specials include $10 Budweiser pitchers, $5 plates of wings and $3 Bud and Bud Light bottles.

51st State
Seeking to fill a niche in the saturated sports bar market, the 51st State declared itself the home of New York teams, which includes the Bills as well as the Giants and Jets. Though it doesn't have as many flatscreens as some of its competitors, the two-story Irish pub has some pretty decent deals during NFL games. On Sundays, it's $1.50 hot dogs and $12 buckets of Budweiser from 12:30 to 4; $5 burgers from 4 to 11; then drink specials from 7 to close, including $2.75 Amber Ale, $5 wine by the glass and $6 martinis. (The latter two change every week.) Monday Night Football is also 50 Cent Taco Night, with discounted snacks from 4 to 11. Budweiser and Bud Light drafts and bottles are $2.75 all night.

The Argonaut
When you stop to think about it, most of the cool bars on H Street NE don't have televisions: Rock and Roll Hotel, Granville Moore's, the Red and the Black, the Palace of Wonders. This makes the Argonaut the default destination for football viewing, so good thing it's a comfy neighborhood bar with a large patio and 10 TVs over two levels. Specials include $8 pitchers of Bud Light and $10 pitchers of the house Booty Ale, plus half-price wings. Doors open at 11 a.m. on Sunday and 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse
So you're proud of the picture on your new 50-inch HD screen? Bah. That's a beginner TV. When the Redskins or Hokies are playing, the Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse shows the games on a larger-than-life movie screen. There's no cover charge, but the best seats go quickly. Doors generally open 30 minutes to an hour before kickoff.

The Bottom Line
Hope springs eternal at D.C.'s only "official" Bengals bar. Cheer on Carson Palmer and the Big Cats with bowls of Cincinnati Three-Way Chili and Miller Lite specials -- $10 for a bucket of six bottles, or $2.50 each -- while watching on 11 screens. On Monday nights, the specials include $2.50 Coors and $3.50 Leinenkugel. Keeping with the Midwest theme, the Bottom Line is the gathering spot for Purdue alumni, who get $3.50 baskets of wings and $10 buckets of six Bud Lights. (Again, they're $2.50 each if you order solo.)

Buffalo Billiards
The primary draw at Buffalo Billiards will always be the 29 pool tables, numerous dart boards or the long, sand-covered shuffleboard table, but on weekends, the subterranean pool hall transforms into a surprisingly hot destination for football fans. More than two dozen plasma TVs are scattered around Buffalo's multiple rooms, including six 10-foot high-definition screens, so a game is almost always in sight. Specials include $2.75 Miller Light and $3.50 Yuengling drafts. If your group wants to reserve some seats near a screen, call a few days in advance to make reservations.

Caddies on Cordell
Bethesda's top sports bar has a golf theme -- check out the pin flags that cover the ceiling -- but the 30 televisions are tuned to football on Sunday. Specials include $10 pitchers of domestic beer and $15 pitchers of imports. A large street-level patio and a second-story balcony make Caddies the place to be when the weather's fine.

Clarendon Grill
With 16 TVs, Clarendon Grill is in the middle of the Arlington sports-viewing pack: Not overloaded like Mister Days, not skimping on screens like most Irish pubs. Domestic bottles are $2 from noon to 6 on Sunday.

Cleveland Park Bar and Grill
Unlike last football season, the TV-laden Cleveland Park Bar and Grill has deigned to offer drink specials on weekends in 2007. From noon to 7 on Saturday and Sunday, 20-ounce mugs of Miller Lite, Yuengling or the house amber ale are $5.75. (There are no food specials to go with them). On Monday, Bud and Bud Light are $3.50 from 10 until close, and burgers and wings are half-price all night. There are 23 televisions -- three are on the tented rooftop deck -- including 50-inch plasmas.

Crystal City Sports Pub
Washington's best sports bar (according to washingtonpost.com readers) has gotten bigger and better for this football season. A new third floor has 40 televisions, including many flatscreens, to go with the dozen on the second floor and 50 on the main levels. Oh, and I almost forgot there are TVs on both levels of the patio, too. (Yes, there are two stories of outdoor seating.) With all the packages, the Sports Pub can pretty much get any game being shown, and there's a good chance there's an alumni group there watching it. From North Carolina to Tennessee to Oklahoma to pre-season #1 USC, there are more college sports fans here than any other bar in the area. Doors open at 8 a.m., and if you aren't in a seat at least an hour before kickoff, you might not get one. (Groups can call ahead to make reservations.) There are appetizer specials on game days, and the occasional drink specials, but don't count on much.

Finn Mac Cool's
It's a feast of football every Sunday at Finn Mac Cool's, with an all-you-can-eat buffet of tailgate favorites like wings, chicken tenders and hot dogs served up from noon to 7, and $2 Coors Light beers all day. Gamers can enjoy Madden '08 tournaments, too. (Oh, and the games are on a 106-inch high-definition projection screen, and a quartet of plasma TVs.) For early games on Saturday and Sunday, the bar offers a brunch with bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys from 11 to 3, but also serves more pigskin-friendly selections: $3 Miller Lite and Yuengling pints and $11 pitchers until 5, and $5 plates of wings, mozzarella sticks, chili cheese fries, taquitos and other appetizers until 8. On Mondays, there are $4.50 seasonal pint specials, like Sierra Nevada's Anniversary Ale. Besides food, the upstairs bar has a pool table, shuffleboard table, foosball and dart boards.

Growlers of Gaithersburg
The upstairs "Pub Room" and the breezy third-story at Growlers have 10 flat-screen televisions for watching games, but the all-day beer specials are the real reason to come out: $2.25 pints of the house-brewed beers, including the Kolsch and Irvington Pale Ale, and $2.75 bottles of bland domestics like Miller Lite, Bud Light and Coors Light. I'm not sure why anyone would pay 50 cents extra for 12-ounce bottle instead of a pint of the fresh drafts.

A dozen televisions, including two 100-inch projection screens, $8 pitches of Bud Light and support from the area's army of Wisconsin alumni should help Hamilton's make a splash in its first season of NCAA football. There will be food specials, but these have not been determined yet.

Mister Days
Mister Days got ready for football season by installing 20 new plasma and flat-screen TVs, and there are now 64, including three huge projection screens. There are drink specials through the week, including buckets of Corona, Miller Lite and Sam Adams bottles. The bar especially caters to Redskins fans, with bus trips to and from all home games and appearances by Redskinettes during selected away games, including Sept. 17.

Original Steakhouse and Sports Theater
There are no weekend specials at this Broadlands restaurant, but I still feel compelled to mention it. Why? There are 10 6-by-8-foot projection screens circling the bar area, offering a perfect view of multiple games at once. Just don't forget which screen you're supposed to be watching.

Porters Dining Saloon
One of Midtown's best after-work hangouts, Porters has 15 TVs over three levels and is the home of Boston College alumni. There will be drink discounts during games, though the particulars are still up in the air.

The Pour House
On Saturdays, the Pour House is filled with blue-and-gold Michigan alumni. On Sundays, it's covered with the black and gold of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both sets of fans watch games on 35 televisions, including a number of large screens, high-definition projection sets and a video wall in the main bar. Everyone gets $10 Bud Light pitchers and $2.50 Budweiser and Bud Light bottles.

Owned by a West Virginia alumni, Ragtime has been the Mountaineers' base camp for years. Drinks specials during games include $9.00 pitchers of Miller Lite, Bud Lite or Yuengling.

RNR Bar & Lounge
One of the surprises of last season was watching football at RNR, where the otherwise nondescript bar offered $2 pints, free Wi-Fi for fantasy leaguers and a dozen high-definition TVs tuned to different games. The bar's owners are sticking to a similar formula this time around with $2 domestic drafts and $3 imports and two dozen televisions for viewing, plus weekly food specials.

Solly's U Street Tavern
Cheap and nondescript, Solly's is one of the most low-key places to watch a game in Washington. There are eight flat-screen televisions over two levels, plus a projection screen, and the budget-minded will love the $3 special: a choice of a 16-ounce Miller High Life or a can of PBR.

Stop the presses: Stetson's now has nine high-definition televisions, including three projection screens. Add the famous all-day Sunday happy hour, with $2.50 Miller High Life, Miller Lite and Pabst Blue Ribbon drafts, $2.50 rail drinks and 25-cent wings, and you're looking at two levels of football-viewing fun. Sadly, the bar doesn't open until 5 on Saturdays, so college football lose out.

Tommy Joe's
Patriots and Michigan fans are welcomed with open arms at this Bethesda restaurant and bar. There are 22 televisions, all of which are high-definition. Saturday specials include $10 Bud Light pitchers, $3.50 Bud and Bud Light bottles, and half-price mini-burgers, quesadillas and wings. On Sundays, it's $3.50 bottles of Miller Light, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Chill and Coors, plus half-price wings.

Union Pub
Union Pub has more deals than just about any bar on Capitol Hill, and football season is no exception. Saturday, when the place is dominated by Nebraska fans, means $2.50 Miller Lite bottles or pints, $2.50 pints of the house Amber Ale, $10 pitchers of Miller Lite or Amber and $6.95 platters of hot dogs and fries. On Sunday, when the Bears take over, specials include $2.50 Budweiser and Bud Light bottles, $2.50 Bud Light and Amber Ale drafts, $10 Bud Light and Amber pitchers, and $6.95 platter of bratwurst and fries. The bar has 15 televisions, including a 100-inch projection screen, a trio of large plasma screens and a pair of TVs on the large patio.

Uptown Tavern
In its previous incarnation as Park Bench Pub, this no-frills rec room was a favorite place to watch college football. The new ownership has improved the place dramatically while keeping the partying-in-a-basement vibe intact. There are 10 plasma televisions, foosball and Golden Tee, but the dirt-cheap specials include $2 cans of PBR, $3 Miller Lites and half-price wings during all games.

Ventnor Sports Cafe
The lone sports bar in Adams Morgan has 14 flat-screen TVs on two levels, and the couches and tables with the best views go quickly. Saturday and Sunday specials include $3 Miller Lites, $4 Bloody Marys and half-price wings, with Yuengling also $3 on Saturdays. For Monday Night Football, draft beers are $3 and wings are again half-price.

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