Maybe its the spicy hot wings, cheesy fries, or boisterous camaraderie, but there's just something about watching a game in a sports bar. Pulling up a chair, grabbing a brew, and cheering along with a crowd of enthusiastic spectators is about as close to the action as you can get without actually going to the stadium. With major league professional teams in baseball, basketball, hockey, football, and soccer, Minnesotan sports fans have plenty to root for. So it should come as no surprise that Minneapolis is home to several high-quality sports bars where the tater tots are hot and the beer is ice cold. For visitors or locals hoping to watch the preseason or the playoffs, the Stanley Cup or the Super Bowl, here are some of the best sports bars in the Minneapolis area to watch a game.
For sports fans who prefer lobster and arugula over fried cheese and chicken strips, the 1029 Bar offers a ton of seafood options in addition to the standard bar fare. The menu boasts lobster rolls, leg of lamb sandwiches, and fennel seed slaw with saffron aioli. The Smack Shack,—the bar's resident kitchen—had a brush with fame after its lobster mac and cheese was featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." But if your group has some that like to kick it old-school, don't worry. The bar still has hot wings and Mic Golden Light on tap.
Sports aren't the only exciting games happening at the 1029 Bar. In addition to big-screen TVs with the best in local and national match-ups, the bar also has a rotating mix of fun and games throughout the week, including karaoke, meat raffles, and bingo. The extra diversions are great for mixed-interest groups, after parties, or when the action on the big screens slows to a crawl.
Pro tip: If you're there to watch a Vikings game, the bar offers two-for-one drink specials after a Vikings touchdown. Skol!
Having been open since 1933, Bunny's Bar & Grill has had the better part of a century to fine-tune its service and menu — and it shows. The eatery is consistently ranked one of the top sports bars in the Twin Cities, in part because of its low-key atmosphere and solid offerings. Bunny's serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so you can always grab a bite regardless of when the big game starts. The space also features roughly 30 TVs covering most of the wall space, so you're sure never to miss a moment.
Pro tip: Bunny's has two locations in Northeast Minneapolis and St. Louis Park — both of which can get pretty packed during big games and matches. If you're planning on watching a highly anticipated event there, be sure to come early to snag a spot.
This northeast-area bar and grill is open late, making it a great option for late-night games and after parties. TVs face every which way, so no matter where you sit, you're sure to catch a view of the screens, and the full menu is served until 2 a.m., meaning patrons can keep indulging long after the game is over, either to celebrate or wallow—depending on the outcome.
In addition to the roughly two dozen beers on tap, Mac's claims to have the best bar food in Minneapolis—and it's easy to see why. The menu is extensive and includes all the sports bar classics: pizza, wings, burgers, and melts. But it also has a good selection of healthier options like fresh-made soups, wraps, and hearty salads with actual mixed greens—no sad, wimpy iceberg lettuce here!
Pro tip: Specials run every day of the week, but be sure to drop by on Mondays, in particular, for an all-night happy hour running from 3 p.m. to close and featuring $3.50-$5.50 draft beers, $4 house wines, and discounts on all appetizers.
Peppers and Fries
A second generation restauranteur, Steve Frias—"Fries" to his friends and family—opened up Peppers and Fries with his daughter in 2014 to celebrate two of their favorite things: sports and burgers. The two have made a family tradition of frequenting Target Field to watch the Minnesota Twins play and scouring new places in search of the perfect patty. Family-owned and family-friendly, this spot is a great place to bring kids to watch along with you.
The menu includes a wide selection of burgers, namely its signature COLT burger (cheese, onion, lettuce, and tomato), as well as the site's own version of a "Juicy Lucy," a cheese-stuffed and cheese-topped patty beloved by Minnesotans the world over. In addition to burgers and sandwiches, the restaurant also serves up burritos and other Tex-Mex classics like flautas and street tacos, as well as standard sports bar favorites chili cheese fries and—of course—wings. Wash it all down with some of the bar's signature cocktails, wines, craft beers, or (for the kiddos!) Killebrew root beers.
Known for its signature "blucys"—bleu cheese burgers—and some of the best wings in town, the menu at the Blue Door Pub also boasts some pretty amazing sides that pair well with beer and a good game. Here tater tots come in three varieties: standard heaping tots, nacho totchos, and hella totchos—the last two consisting of an impressive amount of melted cheese and toppings.
The star of the menu, however, are the Spam bites. Minnesotans have an unhealthy affinity (pun intended) for the canned meat, even going so far as to erect an entire museum in its honor. But these bites take it to a whole new level. The small pieces of Spam are combined with cream cheese and pickles and then coated in a potato chip and panko mix that can warm the heart and take the sting out of a fumble.
The Blue Door Pub has multiple locations throughout the Twin Cities, including in Longfellow, University, and St. Paul. Menu options and specials vary by site, but you can expect ample TVs and a solid craft beer selection regardless of which one you pick.