The Observer’s Sports Writers Weigh In on the City’s Best Bars and Restaurants for the Big Game

1472 Broadway At 42 st.

ESPN Zone, with three floors of sports entertainment, is every fan’s dream. The first floor offers restaurant seating from which you can always see a massive television screen. The second floor even provides television screens at the tables for those of you who don’t want to take your eyes off the food while you watch the game. At halftime, you can take a walk up to the third floor to play air hockey, basketball, football and arcade games. Meals are a little expensive, but that’s to be expected in the heart of Times Square. My suggestion is to go with some friends and load up on massive amounts of appetizers for the table. Wings and chili are always safe gameday bets, but the cheese fries, sprinkled with bacon bits, are a must have at the ESPN Zone.

200 Fifth
200 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn (Park Slope)

After going to this bar for two consecutive weekends, I have to say it provides a safe haven to root for any team of your choosing while indulging in some delicious wings of many flavors (try the sampler!) The 200 Fifth crowd on both weekends featured everyone from Bostonians rooting for the Patriots to Steelers fans still suffering from defeat on Wild Card Weekend. The bar has restaurant seating on one side and huge booths and tables on the other, with the equivalent of someone’s living room with an enormous HDTV in the rear. The patrons are friendly and will diss your team accordingly, but they will inevitably carry a conversation discussing both of your team’s weaknesses and strengths. Ladies, if you are looking for cute guys, this is most definitely a spot to watch the Super Bowl at!


Time Out
349 Amsterdam Ave., near 77 St.

With 26 TVs—all of which will be tuned into the big game, an absolutely huge selection of beer and first-rate hot wings, Time Out is a great place to go come Super Sunday. There’s beer pong and pool set up in the basement if Tom Petty and the halftime show isn’t your thing. Be advised there is a $30 minimum and groups of four or more should call in advance to reserve a table.

The Public House
140 East 41 St.

If you’re looking for an environment a cut above the grungy bar scene, the Public House might just be what you’re looking for. In a casual but slightly upscale environment, the Public House manages to offer a good mix of classic football and beer with a better menu than your neighborhood sports bar. The trade off, because there always is one, is that it’s not especially cheap. On Super Bowl Sunday, the Public House is offering all you can drink Bud and Bud Light and all you can eat wings for $50 per person, which, if you’re the kind of person who might make extensive use of both during a four hour period, isn’t particularly unreasonable.

The Salty Dog Bar and Restaurant
7509 Third Ave., Brooklyn (Bay Ridge)

The Salty Dog is a perfect spot for fans in the neighborhood to watch the Super Bowl. There are two giant-screen TVs at the bar and 14 flat-screen TVs scattered throughout the restaurant. The Salty Dog gives fans the experience of watching the Super Bowl inside a replica New York City firehouse. There is even a vintage fire truck prominently displayed in the restaurant. The food is reasonably priced and there are a wide variety of snacks on the menu to eat during the game. The Salty Dog also has a large room that can hold a private Super Bowl party for up to 150 people.

Riviera Café & Sports Bar
225 W. 4 St.

Let’s get one thing straight: there’s nothing spectacular about this place in and of itself. But for some reason, legions of NYC-based Boston fans flock here to watch the Sox and Pats on one of the thousand or so TVs mounted on every surface. The beer is no cheaper than anywhere else, and the food is just above average (Cheese pepper steak for under $10); but the atmosphere is key. Surrounded by hundreds of transplanted New Englanders watching the Patriots in a downtown Manhattan bar—there’s a certain noble-fighters-behind-enemy-lines camaraderie that’s hard to recreate. Just keep it to yourself when you’re back on the 1 train.

Mercury Bar
493 Third Ave., near 33 st.

This stylish sports bar on the East Side seats guests at candle-lit tables with high-chairs or a cushiony bench that slides along the wall. Mirrors flank the rear of the restaurant, which is also the home of the lounge’s second bar and two beer pong tables. Eleven flat screens, three behind the main bar in the entrance of the restaurant and eight scattered around the rest of the lounge, ensure that you’ll never miss a minute of the big game. As part of Mercury Bar’s Super Bowl special, patrons can feast on reasonably-priced fare (the most expensive platter on the menu is only $20) such as “Split Four Aces Play Chicken Wings Platter” and “Defensive Line Sliders.”

Instead of embracing the liquored-up crowds the bars can generate, why not host or attend a Super Bowl party? You’ll be around family and/or friends in a relaxing setting. You get the option of holding any special events throughout the night like backyard football during halftime, and you’ll be able to pig out on food and drinks and pay less for both. Come the end of the night, you’ll also be more comfortable passing out on your friend’s floor or couch than having to worry about making your way back home.