Sports Bars: Beyond March Madness


Even for those who aren't basketball fans, March seems to turn a young man's fancy to thoughts of brackets, no matter how obscure. Whether the competitors are the weird name of the year or various flavors of cake and pie, this has been a banner year for brackets that have little to do with the actual NCAA tournament. In this spirit, bar-loving San Francisco hatched not one, but two sports-bar brackets this year: Thrillist sent four SF sports bars (McTeague's, Kezar Pub, The Republic, and Greens) to its nationwide Bar Madness competition, and now The Bold Italic's Jon Korn has released his own bracket, a one-man journey through sixteen sports bars that eventually crowned #3 seed Noe's Bar as the victor. Even though college basketball is over, the NBA and the MLB are just heating up, so there's plenty of reasons to hit Noe's or one of the other bars in the bracket. You can read the full account of Korn's odyssey here and here. Korn was kind enough to emerge from detox to give 7x7 the inside scoop on which bars excelled in various categories.

Jon Korn's picks:

Best food, in-house: Had to be The Republic. Obviously, they’re operating on a different plane than the other places I visited by focusing on the gastropub side of things, but you can’t argue with results. (Or crazy truffle burgers.)

Best food, nearby take-out options: The International Sports Club's proximity to Chinatown is pretty appealing. I’m a big fan of the dumplings from Chef Jia's, which delivers right to your stool.

Best beer selection: Kennedy’s Irish Pub & Curry House has 42 on tap and literally scores more by the bottle. And among them is Smithwick's, one of my favorites that can be difficult to find on draft. Also, props to The Republic for their impressive commitment to locally-sourced beers.

Best cocktails: I like to start my sports mornings with a Bloody Mary, because nothing helps you sit for hours on end like hard liquor. The best one I had was at The Kezar Pub and Restaurant - spicy, flavorful and well garnished.

Cheapest drinks: Hard to beat Noe's Bar's $14 pitchers of every beer on tap, but the happy hour at the International Sports Club is kind of unbelievably cheap: $2.50 well drinks and drafts from 4-7pm, 7 days a week.

Crustiest clientele: To be fair, I was there the morning after St. Patty's, so things were as they should be, but this would be the Horseshoe. Everyone in there looked like they had truly let the dogs out the night before.

Loudest/wildest clientele: No question: it was Ted’s Sports Bar and Grill. And that is 100% a compliment! The owner is welcoming and hilariously profane, while the "regulars" were a mix of neighborhood characters and Hall of Justice employees fresh from work. Very fun.

Best female-male ratio: A tie between The Bus Stop and the Blue Light Café, both of which were noticeably more mixed than anywhere else I visited. Something about Union Street in the Marina!

Best TV setup: This is what inspired me to do this story in the first place, as I couldn't find anywhere online that listed how many TVs the bars in town had. The winner for this has to be Zeke's, which had something like 20 screens in a very small space. Noe's is also very solid, with enough coverage to offer a TV for every game on a football Sunday.

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