The Old Ebbitt Grill, known for its raw bar specials, opens at 7:30 a.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. on weekends. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

March Madness tip-off times are both amazing and frustrating. Amazing, because who doesn't love an excuse to sneak out of the office at noon to watch a college basketball game? But frustrating when the nearest lunch spots don't have any TVs that will let you follow a bracket-busting 4-13 upset.

Serious basketball fans will be heading to one of the area's top sports bars to follow the action on dozens of big-screens. These spots are different: watering holes from downtown to Tysons to Annapolis, all of which open daily before noon for your game-viewing and day-drinking needs. They're organized below, starting with the earliest riser.

[The best sports bars in the D.C. area]

Town Center Market

Need to pick up a growler of beer at 6 a.m.? Town Center Market in Riverdale Park has you covered, combining early hours with one of the best craft beer selections in Prince George's County. It also sells five-ounce samplers and full pints, as well as wines by the glass. There are TVs indoors and a large patio seating area, with food trucks on hand during major events. (If you're sitting outside, head next door to Dumm's for pizza and overstuffed subs.) 4705 Queensbury Rd., Riverdale Park.

Barrel & Bushel

Just steps from an entrance to Tysons Corner Center, Barrel & Bushel, which has a focus on Southern cuisine, Virginia craft beer and Kentucky bourbon, opens at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends. (It helps that it's attached to a Hyatt Regency hotel.) Another benefit of arriving early: Happy hour begins at 2 p.m. 7901 Tysons One Pl., Tysons Corner.

Crystal City Sports Pub

The three levels packed with more than 100 TVs have made Crystal City Sports Pub a magnet for college alumni groups watching football and basketball, but the sprawling bar's not just for game days: Doors open at 8 a.m. daily. 529 23rd St. S., Arlington.

Tune Inn

The beloved Capitol Hill dive, known for its taxidermy as well as being a hangout for off-duty congressional staffers, opens at 8 a.m. with all-day breakfast and, if you choose, cold beer and shots of whiskey. Bartenders say they often sell more booze during the lunch shift — between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. — than at happy hour. 331 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.

[The best true dive bars in the D.C. area]

Old Ebbitt Grill and Clyde's restaurants

Clyde's and its sister restaurants, including the Old Ebbitt Grill, are fixtures around the  area, because you know what you're going to get: classic bar food, including burgers and oysters, in an upscale saloon atmosphere. All Clyde's locations are open at 11 a.m. during the week and earlier on weekends. The venerable Old Ebbitt, a tourist destination near the White House, beats that by opening at 7:30 a.m. for breakfast on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. on weekends. Old Ebbitt Grill: 675 15th St. NW. Clyde's: Locations vary.

Westover Beer Garden

The Westover Market is a solid neighborhood market and deli, but the real attraction is the sliver of a beer garden, which opens at 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday and at 9 a.m. on Sundays. Stop in for one of the local craft beers on tap, sit at a picnic table and watch games on the large TVs, or snack on sandwiches from the in-house butcher shop. Pro tip: If it rains, head a few doors down to the divey Forest Inn, which opens at 9 a.m. 5863 Washington Blvd., Arlington.

Blackfinn Ameripub
All three of the chain's local outposts — Ashburn, Merrifield and downtown near Farragut Square — open at 11 a.m. The dining room offers views of numerous large TVs, as well as daily lunch specials.
1620 I St. NW; 43781 Central Station Dr., Suite 150, Ashburn; 2750 Gallows Rd., Vienna.

Blackwall Hitch

The nautically themed restaurant originated in Annapolis's Eastport neighborhood before opening a second location on the Alexandria waterfront. Both have great views to go with the seafood and drinks — don't miss the rooftop deck in Annapolis. 400 Sixth St., Annapolis; 5 Cameron St., Alexandria.


A go-to choice before Nationals games, Bluejacket has 20 house-made beers on draft and up to five more on cask, a large bar with communal tables, and a cool patio with outdoor TVs and a grill before some games. Doors open at 11 a.m. daily. 300 Tingey St. SE.

The Bottom Line

This basement-level hole-in-the-wall has been a downtown hideaway for almost four decades, thanks to basic but satisfying bar food, rotating daily specials and friendly bartenders. It opens daily at 11:30 a.m. — the barstools are filled quickly after — and at noon on Sundays. 1716 I St. NW. 


The best sports bars in the D.C. area

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