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Feeling homesick? The right L.A. sports bar can transport fans back to Philly or Foxborough

New England fans flock to Sonny McLean’s in Santa Monica, one of the best sports bars for transplants.
New England Patriots flock to Sonny McLean’s in Santa Monica, one of the best sports bars for transplants.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

In the beginning, God took a fistful of diamonds and hurled them at the world. Those, of course, became our sports bars.

Some sparkled, some didn’t. But in L.A. the very best became hangouts for transplants who gathered to follow their teams from back home.

These days, SoCal boasts hometown sanctuaries for cheeseheads and chowderheads, Eagles fanatics and followers of the Fish (a.k.a. Miami Dolphins).

Some spots are proving that sports bars don’t need to be dark, sticky relics (though that certainly helps). The newer ones are swanking it up a bit, looking more like athletic clubs than taverns. But the places worthy of our time all have the same great autumnal feel — that of a beer hall after the harvest is in.

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Our favorites

Buffalo Bills

Can we get a seat? Will I feel comfortable flying solo? Busby’s West is your place to cheer for any team, but particularly the Buffalo Bills. This rambling roadhouse offers a roomy bar and a series of booths and tables where smaller groups can huddle. Go big with the chicken and waffles and the loaded tots. 3110 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 828-4567; busbyswest.com

New England Patriots

The Boston accents are as thick as the chowder at Sonny McLean’s — you almost need subtitles. This old shoe doesn’t have beamed ceilings or anything resembling the latest look in hospitality. What it has is character. And characters. 2615 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 449-1811; sonnymcleans.com

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It’s often standing room only at Sonny’s, the go-to place for Pats fans.
It’s often standing room only at Sonny’s, the go-to place for Pats fans.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Chicago Bears

Owner Brian McKeaney takes a hands-on approach to running Rush Street, a large and stylish Culver City venue. The Bears are the emphasis (go upstairs), but Rush Street is roomy enough to handle clusters of other teams on the first floor; the Browns, 49ers and Rams all draw contingents. 9546 Washington Blvd., Culver City; (310) 837-9546; rushstreetculvercity.com

Looking for some Soldier Field insanity? Tin Horn Flats in Burbank is a packed and passionate neighborhood hangout where they yell as if the refs can actually hear them. 2623 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; (818) 567-2470

Chicago Bears fans gather in the clubby upstairs lounge at Rush Street.
Chicago Bears fans gather in the clubby upstairs lounge at Rush Street.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Seattle Seahawks

Dark as a bad dream, the Backstage is where the Munchkins drank during breaks from “The Wizard of Oz.” These days the legendary dive, in the shadow of Sony Studios, hosts one of the largest gatherings of Seahawks fans outside Seattle. Open 365 days a year, the Backstage seldom sleeps. 10400 Culver Blvd., Culver City; (310) 839-3892; backstageculvercity.com

The Backstage, former Munchins hangout, now hosts Seattle Seahawks fans.
The Backstage, former Munchins hangout, now hosts Seattle Seahawks fans.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)
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Other fine institutions of lower learning

New York Giants

Big Dean’s Oceanfront Café, at the base of the Santa Monica Pier is the best open-air bar in America, despite serving only wine and beer. It draws transplants from all over, but New York Giants fans are the house band. 1615 Ocean Front, Santa Monica; (310) 393-2666; bigdeansoceanfrontcafe.com

Perched on the Pacific, Big Dean’s might be the best open-air bar in America.
Perched on the Pacific, Big Dean’s might be the best open-air bar in America.
(Chris Erskine/Los Angeles Times)

Green Bay Packers

They should rename Pickwick’s Pub “The Lambeau Leap.” Any good scouting report would note that they roast the turkey and the beef on the premises of this well-coached place. Even Lombardi would approve. 21010 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills; (818) 340-9673; pickwickpub.com

Philadelphia Eagles

Britannia Pub in Santa Monica has been dubbed “Eagles Nest West.” Early openings, 8 a.m. on Sundays, speak to how serious they take their team. 318 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 458-5350; britanniapub.com

You can also catch Eagles mania at the Harp in Costa Mesa, another super pub that offers up playoff-caliber food and atmosphere. 130 E. 17th St. Costa Mesa; (949) 646-8855

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Kansas City Chiefs

The doors and windows swing wide at airy Jalapeno Pete’s, the primary destination for Chiefs fans around Los Angeles. Fans start lining up as early as 8 a.m. for a 10 a.m. kickoff (doors open at 9). The tacos are worth a trip all by themselves. 11618 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 579-4264; jalapenopetesla.com

Minnesota Vikings

If you bleed Vikings purple, head to Pineapple Hill in Sherman Oaks. This cozy Valley landmark is handsomer than the bland exterior might suggest. And you have to admire a sports bar that opens at 7:30 a.m. on game days. 4454 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 789-0679

Miami Dolphins

For Dolphin fans, the Snug is the place to be (even if the team itself seems headed for a winless season). It serves a game day menu that includes a beef eater’s dream: the Snug Burger, a double patty topped with pastrami for $9.95. The fish may fail to score, but you will with this bodacious burger. 4108 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; (818) 557-0018; thesnugburbank.com

Washington Redskins

Is this the Redskins year? Evidently not. (The team is 1-7.) But all the more reason to come to Joxer Daly’s for some group therapy. This place has that intangible “Cheers” vibe that sports bar patrons crave. 11168 Washington Blvd., Culver City; (310) 838-3745.

San Francisco 49ers

Naturally, the San Francisco Saloon worships the Niners, Warriors and, of course, the baseball Giants. An uncommonly wide-ranging menu includes omelets at prices that are better than most. Almost instantly you’ll feel like you’re back in North Beach. 11501 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 478-0152, https://sfsaloon.com

Cleveland Browns

Got a Cleveland Browns fan who needs some company? Take him or her to Matt Denny’s, a San Gabriel Valley favorite for all sports, but especially the beleaguered Browns. 145 E. Huntington Drive, Arcadia; (626) 462-0250; mattdennys.com. In Santa Monica, Browns fans flock to JP’s Sports Bar. Grab a Pabst and a pool cue at this lovely old dump. 1101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 394-7660

Los Angeles Rams

No, we didn’t forget the hometown team. Among the most-sophisticated Rams hangouts is the Park near Westlake Village. The pizzas are worthy, but go long with the Nashville hot chicken sandwich ($15). 706 Lindero Canyon Road, Oak Park; (818) 532-7919; theparkrestaurantandbar.com

No team? No problem

Here are two sports bar superstars for free agents looking for a team to party with.

Nickel Mine
Nickel Mine draws good Rams and Lakers crowds to a clubby venue that features leather seats, bookshelves and a wall of windows that lets the sun shine in. 11363 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 231-0239; nickelmine.com

Legends
Established by former Rams all-pro Dennis Harrah, Legends just celebrated its 40th anniversary. Who’s No. 1? The wings at Legends are No. 1, and the burgers are among SoCal’s best. 5236 E. 2nd St., Long Beach; (562) 433-5743, legendssportsbar.com


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