Fall is in the air and sports are all over the airwaves.
It’s a time of year that can make San Diegans a wee bit defensive: Nose-thumbers like Forbes magazine and ESPN.com have ranked San Diego as one of the most miserable sports cities in America. Harsh. Especially when the city’s sports fans have been lauded as some of the proudest and loudest in the U.S. And especially when, even though their teams might be losing in a disastrous display of fumbles or errors, these same fans force themselves to swill brew and scarf spicy chicken wings amid the torments of balmy 80-degree temperatures clad only in bikinis and tank tops. Now that’s loyalty.
San Diego’s sports fans compensate for any minor or major league disappointments by taking full advantage of the city’s many great sports bars and eateries. Here’s a quick look at some of San Diego’s most popular spots for sports fans.
2401 Camino del Rio South
Yes, there used to be a Bully’s West. Now those die-hards who relish Bully’s Cheers-like atmosphere and hearty menu make the regular trek to San Diego’s Mission Valley, near Qualcomm Stadium, to Bully’s East (established in 1971) to enjoy their sport of choice. But as one guest noted, “You might come here for the sports, but you come back for the food.”
Bully’s happy hour highlights include a vegetarian quesadilla ($3.50), surf-and-turf sushi rolls made with aged prime rib, king crab and asparagus ($8.95), and pork shank confit ($5.95). All-star dinner specialties like horseradish-crusted prime rib ($21.95) and crispy fresh fish and chips ($13.95) are definite crowd-pleasers.
Bully’s has a variety of game-day specials: a $5 breakfast, chicken wings for $5.75, bratwurst for $4 and more. Of special appeal to the gamers are $8 pitchers of domestic beer and $12 pitchers of Karl Strauss or Stella Artois. Even wine drinkers get in the game with a special half-off offer on a bottle of wine on Thursdays.
Players Sports Bar
7601 Clairmont Mesa Blvd.
From the outside, Players is unassuming. Its nondescript façade belies the hum of noise and activity inside. Enter and you feel right at home in the family-friendly bar/restaurant that has more than 600 square feet of screens, including an absolutely gigantic wall of plasma TVs.
There are specials offered every day of the week, like the $3 Tuesday pint night from 8 p.m. until closing or the Wednesday night “beer, burger and tots” for $10, starting at 8 p.m. Waiter Justin Sayer recommends a popular and recent innovation at Players: “Beer tubes” — tall cylinders that hold 100 ounces of beer and cost between $20 and $31, depending on the kind of beer ordered.
Seau’s The Restaurant
1640 Camino del Rio North
Say-ow is how you pronounce it. But any way you say it, Seau’s, owned by former all-pro linebacker and Charger Junior Seau, is a fun and friendly place. And, like Junior, it’s huge. The grill, sushi bar, owner’s special room (which he occasionally occupies), Seau’s Saloon and other assorted areas encompass more than 14,500 square feet spread over two levels.
Although there’s a wide selection of wines, cocktails and beers, the focus is on food. Among the house specialties are Mama Seau’s Teriyaki Chicken & Beef ($14.75 to $15.50) and the udon noodle bowl ($8.75). For those rugged sports types who can’t picture themselves tucking into a noodle bowl, there’s more traditional game-day fare: Try tackling a huge pulled pork sandwich ($9.95) or a fresh-baked pizza like the Samoan, a tasty concoction of ham, pineapple and cilantro ($12.75).
5028 Newport Ave.
Sometimes a sports bar is precisely that — a neighborhood bar where you go to watch sports. The kind of place where people hang out in flip-flops and madras shorts. The kind of place where touchdowns are accompanied by much spillage and shouting. That’s the Sunshine Company, where beer (they have 27 on tap) is a real deal from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, with $2 off pitchers and 50 cents off on pints. You can quaff the foamy on Sunshine’s ocean-view deck or in front of some of their 80 televisions. Furthermore, since mid-September, you can watch the big game on a really big TV — a full 110 inches of game-day love. Yes, sports fans, size does matter.
McGregor’s Grill & Ale House
1045 San Diego Mission Rd.
This strip-mall cloistered pub has become a local favorite. There are 12 high-def TVs to watch, but the real draw seems to be the vast game room — offering video golf, darts, pool, shuffleboard — that adds some distraction for patrons who just can’t bear to watch their teams struggle.
McGregor’s, which is so close to Qualcomm stadium that you can almost hear the groaning, boasts happy hour specials like a $4 burger and fries, and $1.50 fish tacos. Their football specials include $5 chicken strips, $3 pints of Budweiser and $5 Svedka vodka cocktails. And Monday night football is a real winner, with $2.50 pints of Budweiser and Bud Light and hot dogs right off the barbecue.
—Carla White, Brand Publishing Writer