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.
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. 703-528-3030.
When the weather is good, you want to be outside. Biergarten Haus has large flat-screen TVs throughout its two-level German-style beer garden, with more large screens in two covered areas. Arrive early to get a seat at one of the long tables, or to find a barrel on the rooftop deck on which to rest your liter of German beer. This is obviously a hot spot for soccer lovers, but NFL and college fans will find their games, too. 1355 H St. SE. 202-388-4053.
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. 703-276-7337.
With five 10-foot projection screens and 40 flat-screen TVs spread throughout multiple rooms, including a few on the covered patio, it's easy to find room to watch your game, whether you're showing up with two roommates or a group of 20 alumni. Couches and chairs offer strategically placed seats, as do multiple bars. 1330 19th St. NW. 202-331-7665.
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.
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. 703-521-8215.
The name is a giveaway that Dock FC, housed in one of the Hecht Warehouse's old loading docks, 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. 202-450-2150.
The best Nationals bar in Washington also allows fans of other sports to watch games on its numerous televisions, including football — Green Bay Packers fans take over the back room every week — and college basketball. Either way, there are generally game day specials, and the wings are the best in D.C. 2106 Vermont Ave. NW. 202-462-9464.
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, First Down 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. 703-465-8888.
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. But it's not just a soccer bar, as Lucky's no-frills space fills with fans of all sports. 1221 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-331-3733.
A place that refers to itself as “Glover Park’s cathedral of college football” deserves an eye-roll, but Mason Inn, with its dominant contingent of SEC alumni, has one of the liveliest college football crowds in the city. The Southern-influenced bar is busy the rest of the year — Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons fans meet there in the fall, March Madness takes over in the spring, and there's live music on weekends year-round. 2408 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-337-1313.
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. 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. 202-332-6355.
The two-story bar can get crowded, but it's popular with Capitals fans before games at Verizon Center. 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. 202-347-6666.
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. 202-697-4900.
The main floor at Public Bar features a 240-inch HD projection screen, with 31 other flat screens climbing the walls. There are even more TVs at individual booths. Watching a game from the horseshoe-shaped bar can be dizzying — and that's also what makes Public Bar bar such a popular place for major sporting events. An upstairs lounge has 13 more screens and space for bottle service Thursday through Saturday, while there are even more TVs on the rooftop deck. 1214-B 18th St. NW. 202-223-2200.
Inspired by the neighborhood Italian American joints that owner Scott Auslander frequented while growing up in Philadelphia, Ventnor goes above and beyond the usual pub grub with as overstuffed sandwiches and a gooey, delicious grilled cheese. It's a friendly spot popular with fans of all sports — especially teams from Philly, or North Carolina and Stanford alumni — but embraces the social side of games, whether that means its popular weekly trivia night or annual fantasy league draft parties. 2411 18th St. NW. 202-234-3070.
This post has been updated. It was originally published on March 17, 2016.