With the football season finally heating up, most NFL fans know exactly where their little slice of Sunday (or Monday) heaven is. For some fortunate souls, it's squarely on the 50-yard line at FedEx Field. Most of us, though, find refuge among fellow fans elsewhere. We only ask for a good view of the flatscreen, an endless frosty mug of our favorite domestic and a mound of wings so hot they burn our eyes. (Oh yeah, a win wouldn't be so bad either.)
"Why stay home?" says Dale Thomas of Manassas, a Redskins fan who comes to the Grand Slam on H Street NW for the premium level of trash-talking with Cowboys fans. "I like to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my people. This is the only place to be."
With a seemingly endless supply of sports bars in the area, it's easy enough find the games. Now it's time to find the right place. Washington fans can pretty much find friendly territory in any bar in the region. But here are some area watering holes that make their pigskin-loving patrons from different climes feel right at home.
That is, if they're wearing the right colors.
BUFFALO BILLS. As if a bar packed with blue and red isn't enough to entice Bills fans on game day, McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon (2401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-223-2338) offers Buffalo's greatest contribution to football fans: all-you-can eat wings ($10). Several variations of the classic buffalo wing (invented at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo in 1964) are available, including honey-stung, teriyaki, plain ol' chicken and nuclear. Try the boneless wings for a chance to use a fork and keep your eyes on the game (where they should be), and wash it all down with a pitcher of Jack and Coke ($20).
Spread out over two floors with three 42-inch plasmas and 12 other screens, McFadden's offers more than enough room for all NFL fans. But the thunderous "Let's Go Bills" chants will lead you to the frenzied local Bills Backers who remain optimistic despite the 2-3 start to the season.
DALLAS COWBOYS. Dallas fans shouldn't expect a total refuge in the District, but Grand Slam (1000 H St. NW, 202-637-4789) is at least one place where they can always find their brethren. Make sure to show up at least an hour early to get a seat in the popular back room, where supporters of the 3-2 Cowboys stake their claim early. With three big screens, five 22-inch plasmas and 22 monitors throughout the bar, it's almost impossible to miss any of the action.
Those with Texas-style appetites should try the Nacho Momma ($9), a tower of nachos piled with cheese, chili, guacamole and jalapenos, and wash it down with a local Foggy Bottom Ale.
"People don't realize how many Cowboys fans are here in D.C.," said Eric Payne, who grew up and lives in Northeast, but roots for Dallas. Payne said the rivalry is all in good fun, but that doesn't mean both sides don't take it seriously. "Redskins fans even show up on their off week just to root against us," he said.
GREEN BAY PACKERS. Traditional Wisconsin tailgating food, be damned. Packers fans have little choice at Old Glory All-American Bar-B-Que (3139 M St. NW, 202-337-3406) except to accept a brat-less Sunday and order up a wide variety of delicious southern barbecue favorites instead. Cheeseheads are grumbling about a 1-4 start to the season, but still show up in numbers at this Georgetown eatery on game day. And nothing quite fuels the Green Bay karma like rooting for Mississippi-native Brett Favre while eating Fried Green Tomatoes ($7.95), served with a lemon-cayenne mayonnaise. Other favorites include the Pulled Rib and Brisket Chili ($5.95) and the Foot Long Pit Dogg ($9.95), a ridiculously big Angus beef, half-pound hot dog. Bud Light draft ($3) is on special or you can order a bucket of five Budweiser long-necks ($15).
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS. Any place is a joyous place to watch football when you've won three of the past four Super Bowls. Patriots fans, sweating through a 3-2 start to the season, swear by Murphy's Grand Irish Pub (713 King St., Alexandria, 703-548-1717), an Old Town brew house that takes on a distinct New England flavor on game days. The self-proclaimed largest Patriots fan club on the Eastern seaboard occupies the top floor of Murphy's, which unveiled a new projection television early this season.
Murphy's officially became a Patriots bar in 1994 when management allowed the patrons to vote on their NFL loyalties. Lore has it that the late Charlie Wallace, a Murphy's regular and lifelong Pats fan, stuffed the ballot box. Since then, the Patriots frenzy has grown, averaging about 60 fans per week and as many as 200 for Super Bowls. New Englanders can feel right at home with fried clams ($9.95), and the beer of choice on Sunday's is undoubtedly Sam Adams (draft, $4).
"The crowds swell in the playoffs and Super Bowls and when they aren't on TV locally," said Doug Roberts, who has been going to Murphy's since 1995 and is the webmaster of Murphyspatriots.com. "We have great fans. And while we might have our share of bandwagon fans, by all means, if we went 2-14 we'd still have that loyal core of fans here every week."
OAKLAND RAIDERS. Uncle Jed's Roadhouse (7525 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda, 301-913-0026) gets invaded on a weekly basis by members of the Black Hole, as Raiders fans outnumber the smaller groups of other NFL fans. Either park yourself early in front of one of the 23 televisions or three big screens, or enjoy pool and arcade games. This friendly neighborhood bar is a traditional Southern-style roadhouse with the added luxury of more space than your typically cramped sports bar. There's little in the way of California cuisine for the faithful of the 1-3 Silver and Black, but they can't go wrong with Jed's slow-cooked barbecue pulled pork or chicken sandwich ($7.99) and a seasonal Octoberfest beer, brewed by Old Dominion Brewing Company in Ashburn (draft, $4.50).
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES. While there are fans of other teams at the Rhino Bar & Pumphouse (3295 M St. NW, 202-333-3150), they're regularly drowned out by rowdy renditions of "Fly Eagles Fly" and soccer-inspired "T.O." chants. The two-story bar in Georgetown is packed with noisy fans of the 3-2 Eagles and offers awesome cheap pub grub, including 25-cent wings during Sunday games, 10-cent wings on Monday night and $8 pitchers of Yuengling. The Steak Bomb ($5.95) isn't an exact replica, but it's an acceptable substitute for an authentic Philly cheesesteak.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS. Cars within blocks of the Pour House (319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, 202-546-1001) are adorned with Steelers flags and Terrible Towels on game days. While the bar formerly known (and often referred to) as Politiki was remodeled with less Pittsburgh paraphernalia last year, fans certainly bring their own. Getting a seat requires arrival at least two hours before kickoff and late arrivals might be relegated to watching the 3-1 Steelers from the sidewalk. Awaiting them there is a grill with Italian sausage and kielbasa ($5) and a cooler of Rolling Rock bottles ($3) from Latrobe, Pa. From the menu, nothing says Pittsburgh like a pierogi appetizer ($4.50) that consists of potato dumplings with a side of sour cream.
Sonny Amato is a Post sports writer from Pittsburgh who has attended Steelers games since kindergarten. When he can't get to Heinz Field, he scours the city for Terrible Towels and cheap buffalo wings.