This Sunday, a bunch of men in color-coordinated outfits will congregate on a patch of plastic made to look like grass and throw a prolate spheroid made of leather toward a giant piece of metal while another set of men, in outfits coordinated in different colors, attempt to stop them from doing this. Or something. It'll be fun, I'm told. Anyway, seems like an excellent occasion to eat many-layered dips and drink beer,* so without further ado, here are SF's best sports bars, organized by neighborhood for maximum stumbling-home-at-5-p.m. ability:
Castro: Hi Tops
If it's good enough for Chris Kluwe, it's good enough for us. Other enticements: The best wings in the city, an uncommonly .... polite environment for a sports bar, very attractive bartenders. Gaybros ahoy!
Upper Haight: Kezar Pub
FUN FACT: This pub is right by Kezar Stadium, where both the Niners and the Raiders played their first games. But it's a great bar in its own right, with literally** hundreds of televisions, a cheapish and entirely capable menu of food falling proudly within the wings-n'-nachos taxonomy, and an appreciable-but-not-intrusive Irish-lite theme.
Lower Haight: Mad Dog in the Fog
This place has more than 150 beers, a lovely patio, and better-than-average food.
Union Square: The Union Square Sports Bar
As its utilitarian name might suggest, this is in fact a sports bar in Union Square. Also like the name might suggest, this place is a fairly no-frills, nothing-fancy, get-the-job-done kind of situation. Which is excellent.
North Beach: Maggie McGarry's
Scott Lucas, SF Mag's web editor and resident North Beach resident, describes this place as "banging," which I'm like 90 percent sure is a good thing! (It is a good thing. 90 percent of the time. -SL)
Nob Hill: Shanghai Kelly's
Cheap, laid-back, and bro-y, as all sports bars should be. Warning that it'll be crowded, so be prepared to make some new friends.
Noe Valley: Valley Tavern
Noe's best and probably only sports bar offers a patio, seventeen TVs, and plenty of space. Also there's a TV ON THE PATIO so you can go outside without missing anything.
TVs aplenty and an impressively deep and exotic beer menu. Also: Usually not super-crowded. (Though all bets are off for this game, probably.)
Sunset: The Taco Shop at Underdogs
Despite the mildly confusing name, this place is neither a taqueria nor a dog. Actually, they do sell tacos, but mostly they sell sports-watchin', with ten (!) plasma TVs and unaccountably delicious margaritas. Also: the fish tacos "Nick's Way" (i.e., with a hard tortilla inside a soft tortilla) are probably the best drunk food on this green earth.
Potrero Hill: Connecticut Yankee
This is technically a Patriots bar, but hopefully it'll be sufficiently cleared out by the time the Niners game starts. OR, it'll provide an excellent venue to practice your trash-talk on fans of another team from a city with horrible weather and overrated seafood. But actually, it's an excellent neighborhood bar with lots of character and truly wonderul bartenders.
*just kidding, every occasion is an excellent occasion to eat dip and drink beer