Courtesy, Warren 77
New York City has big league clubs in every major sport, but you don’t need to make it out to a stadium to experience the thrill of rooting for its home teams (or, if you insist, someone else’s). No matter your game-day priorities—whether you mainly show up for the food or the drinks, whether you barely know who’s playing or know the team’s stats by heart—the five boroughs have a fan-approved watering hole for you. For a home base that fits your sports-watching style, check out our list below. One of these spots could be your game changer.
Finding a sports bar with a lineup of brews that’s as finely tuned as your fantasy team can be tricky, but you have options in NYC. Check out Bronx Alehouse for a thoughtfully curated, constantly rotating tap list, often featuring a few NYC-based brewers. For maximum options, Croxley’s Abbey offers 40-plus beers on tap and even more bottled choices. East Village pub Finnerty’s, meanwhile, specializes in heavy hitters; they’ve got keg service for groups. Note that the crowd there is frequently full of Bay Area partisans.
When the rest of the crew is raising their arms to celebrate a touchdown, are you reaching for the appetizers instead? If so, you need a bar that doesn’t fumble when it comes to food. Aim for places like Boulton and Watt or Smithfield Hall—two bar-restaurant hybrids that offer plenty of sports and small-plate options, like Smithfield’s barbecue-glazed bacon. Blondies on the Upper West Side is a go-to for wing-enthusiasts—and anyone who’s a fan of college’s Big Ten conference.
Courtesy, 40/40 Club
Sticky bars and bottom-shelf drinks have their place, but fans seeking an upgrade should look no further than Jay-Z’s swanky 40/40 Club in the Flatiron District. The rapper, once a part owner of the Brooklyn Nets, knows how to watch the game in style: the space has stadium seating facing four mammoth video walls—and bottle service is always on the menu. For an uptown upscale option, snag a seat at Atlantic Grill’s bar and enjoy a refined blend of sports, oysters and wines by the glass.
We love to banter, high-five and backslap as much as the next fan, but not everyone wants to be packed in like Bleacher Creatures during a sold-out game. The solution: bars that give you room to breathe. Bi-level beer hall Berry Park and Citi Field’s own McFadden’s are also good, spacious options for when you’re watching with a big group or just need a personal cheering section.
Courtesy, Warren 77
Some sports bars welcome the not-exactly-hardcore fans who are—at least in part—out for the social scene. At Boxers, a popular gay sports bar in Hell’s Kitchen, feel free to watch the game out of the corner of your eye while you chat at the bar, listen to a DJ set or hang out on the roof deck. Both Warren 77 and The Jeffrey will reliably have a game on, but you won’t feel out of place if you’re talking through it.
Kettle of Fish. Photo: Joseph Rosen
After a bungled play or the end of an exciting first half—or out of respect for that venerable seventh-inning stretch—plenty of fans feel the need to take a break from the action. These bars are here to distract you. Break Bar and Billiards specializes in (you guessed it) pool, but it’s also home to table tennis and foosball tables. The West Village dive (and Cheesehead favorite) Kettle of Fish will happily entertain you with Ms. Pac-Man, pinball, board games and darts.
Courtesy, Harlem Tavern
Pretend you can feel the stadium air on your face at these bars’ outdoor spaces. Our first-round picks for alfresco sports viewing include Greenpoint’s Keg and Lantern and the Flatiron District’s tri-level Tavern 29, crowned with a TV-equipped rooftop beer garden. Harlem Tavern is half indoor bar, half outdoor (but covered) beer garden—and has a drink list large enough to match its 400-seat size.
If you’re all about your home team, check out these places jammed with team banners, photos and memorabilia. Yankee Tavern, just a line drive away from Yankee Stadium’s gates, has been a home-team haunt since the days of former patrons Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. You’ll find a similar scene at Standings. If the wall-to-wall display of jerseys, pennants, souvenir cups and two Shea Stadium seats—which, if you’re a Mets fan, you can sit in—don't clue you in to the bar’s MVP status (most valuable pub?), look to its all-caps guarantee: ALWAYS GAME SOUND. Rest assured, the game is king here.