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The best sports bars in the D.C. area

The crowd at Nellie's Sports Bar in Washington. ((Nikki Khan/The Washington Post))

There’s no perfect sports bar. Some people want to watch the game on the biggest possible screen. Others want a bar with clear views of multiple TVs, which makes it easier to follow fantasy teams or March Madness brackets. And still others want a place where they can have a beer outside (if the weather cooperates) without missing a moment of the action. No matter which kind you’re seeking, our list of the area’s top sports bars provides options, ranging from enormous projection screens to bars known for specializing in a particular sport.

Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill: A home bar for University of Virginia alumni, Arlington Rooftop is loaded with TVs in its large bar and dining room, allowing views of screens from seemingly every seat. It would be better if there were more on the eponymous rooftop deck, though. 2424 Wilson Blvd., Arlington.

Bracket Room: On weekend nights, the crowd at Clarendon’s Bracket Room can seem more interested in checking out the potentially single hottie on the other side of the horseshoe-shaped bar than in closely following sports on the many TVs. But Bracket Room, owned by former “Bachelorette” contestant Chris Bukowski, provides plenty of options for watching games, and a loungey atmosphere means you’ll be able to drag along friends who’d rather socialize than stay glued to a screen all afternoon. 1210 N. Garfield St., Arlington.

Caddies on Cordell: The two-level Bethesda bar has more than 30 TVs of varying sizes, plenty of game-day specials, including $14 buckets of beer and $10 domestic pitchers. The regulars predominantly support local schools, especially Maryland, though the bar shows games from all over. There’s nothing like sitting on the huge patio, which is open from spring through fall, before or after a game. 4922 Cordell Ave., Bethesda. 301-215-7730.

Crystal City Sports Pub: This sprawling three-level bar is one of the area’s best-known gathering spots for college sports fans. There are more than 100 TVs, including three giant projection screens on the third-floor “Club Level.” There’s so much going on that the bar posts guides online and at the front door to tell customers the general area where their game will be shown. 529 S. 23rd St., Arlington.

Dirty Water: Your opinion of this third-story walk-up on H Street NE is going to depend on your views of sports teams from the Bay State. Exposed brick walls are covered with framed Red Sox jerseys and Bruins banners, and murals depict the Green Monster and Gillette Stadium. The drinks are simple — a handful of drafts, Narragansett tallboys, canned cider and spiked seltzer — and the food is basic in a meatball sub and bacon-cheese fries sort of way. It may be named after a song beloved by Bostonians, but you’ll find fans of all stripes and sports cheering in front of the row of flatscreen TVs or hanging out on the spacious back deck. 816 H St. NE.

Dock FC: The name is a giveaway that Dock FC, housed in one of the old loading docks in Ivy City’s Hecht Warehouse, is designed with soccer fans in mind. Stop by on a Saturday morning, and the bar stools are full of fans wearing jerseys from Dortmund, Madrid and Manchester, watching their teams on numerous projection screens and flat-screen TVs while eating tacos and sipping local craft beers. But the dizzying number of TVs will also be put to good use during March Madness and football season to show as many games as possible. 1400 Okie St. NE.

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First Down Sports Bar: With framed local sports jerseys on the walls, more than two dozen TVs behind the bar, beer served in 120-ounce towers and wings that come with your choice of 40 different sauces, this Ballston bar is the kind of place where you can hang out for hours watching games — and there’s a game room for keeping yourself busy at halftime, too. 4213 N. Fairfax Dr., Arlington.

Lucky Bar: Lucky Bar is the soccer capital of the Nation’s Capital, drawing bleary-eyed supporters for 7:45 a.m. matches from August to May, including the official fan clubs of Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United. But it’s not just a soccer bar, as Lucky’s no-frills space south of Dupont Circle fills with fans of sports from all over the world. 1221 Connecticut Ave. NW.

Mission Navy Yard: Bigger is better, whether you’re talking about the 10,000 square feet of space spread over two levels across from Nationals Park or the 150-foot bar at the heart of the action. Whether meeting friends before a Nats game on the balcony overlooking N Street SE, getting together with fellow alums to watch college football or stopping in for a late-night happy hour — how many other places discount food and drinks after 10 p.m. on weekends? — Mission fits the bill. 1221 Van St. SE.

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Nellie’s Sports Bar: Washington’s first gay sports bar — owner Doug Schantz used to refer to it as “a straight-friendly sports bar” — attracts more of a mixed crowd these days, and good bartenders make it the place to go and watch a game on U Street NW. Most TVs are in the well-lit main dining room, but you’ll also find screens upstairs on the rooftop level. The popular drag brunch packs the place on Saturdays and Sundays, so you might want to have a backup venue in mind if that’s when you’ve got a game to watch. 900 U St. NW.

Penn Quarter Sports Tavern: The two-story bar can get crowded, but it’s popular with Capitals fans before games at Capital One Arena. There are plenty of flat screens and projection screens blanketing the walls on each level, plus a trio of TVs on the sidewalk patio if you need some fresh air. 639 Indiana Ave. NW.

Penn Social: If you’re tired of having to crane your neck to see TVs in most bars, head to Penn Social, where the cavernous basement is home to a 22-foot projection screen and nine 10-foot screens, plus skee-ball machines, full-size corn hole sets, pop-a-shot and Big Buck Hunter, among other amusements. 801 E St. NW.

This post has been updated. It was originally published on March 17, 2016.