Food & Drink

San Diego's Best Sports Bars for Game Day

Football season may nearly be over, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in San Diego. We’re gearing up for the Super Bowl, the Padres spring training, NCAA basketball and March Madness, and all sorts of collegiate and professional sporting events. Since it’s no fun to cheer your favorite teams all alone at home, here are 15 of our favorite watering holes featuring loads of food and drink specials, giant-screen TVs, and state-of-the-art sound systems for the best possible viewing experience.

Bubs @ the Ballpark

East Village
A cozy bar in the heart of downtown 

Reclaimed wood, scrap metal and reused brick, community tables and a huge circle bar make Bubs at the Ballpark a warm, inviting spot for a quick drink or an all-day sports session. More than 25 huge screens and the full gamut of NFL, MLB, NBA, college football and basketball and NHL packages give you plenty of sports-viewing options and game-day staples include wings, tots, and burgers as well as a lighter-fare menu of salads, wraps, and soups. Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday specials like $5 select draft beers, $9 build-your-own Bloody Marys, $18 select draft pitchers, $20 buckets of beer, and $4 side cars with any draft beer.
Deals: Happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 3-5pm, with $4 select drafts, $5 wells, ½ price wings and red baskets (fries, tots, onion rings and chips and guac).

The Blind Burro

East Village
Downtown’s go-to spot for Baja coastal cuisine and spirits

The Blind Burro serves south of the border street food with a modern flair and flaunts an extensive collection of tequilas, mezcals, bacanoras and raicillas. Watch the Super Bowl around their island bar while you enjoy specials with their spin on game-day classics, including $9 carne asada quesadillas, $4 flautas, a $12 beer and wing combo plate, along with $4 Bud Light Drafts and $6 Espolón Reposado. 
Deals: Happy hour runs Mon-Fri from 3-6pm, with $4.50 fish tacos, TJ dogs and fries, and Buena Cervezas; $5 house wines and wells, $6 poblano & corn flautas and house margaritas and $8 queso crisp. Baja Tuesdays run 6-10pm with 2 for $7/$8/$9 taco specials, $4.50 Buena Cerveza bottles, $5 Lunazul shots and $6 margs, and Thursdays 6pm-10pm $13 bottomless sangria.

Dirty Birds
Dirty Birds

Dirty Birds

Pacific Beach, College Area, Liberty Station, Ocean Beach
A local favorite for chicken wings and live sports
A perennial star on “Best Wings” lists, Dirty Birds offers 37 different wing sauces, as well as burgers, salads, sandwiches, and loaded tots/fries. All locations have between 10 and 24 rotating beer handles, dozens of flat screens and HDTVs for game viewing, and a full bar with several craft cocktail selections at a reasonable $8-10 price point. Daily specials vary by venue, but all feature $15.99 all-you-can-eat wings on Mondays after 6pm and all-day happy hours on Tuesdays. Super Bowl Sunday will feature Dirty Bird’s usual weekend special: $3 Mimosas, $12 Champagne Bottles, $5 Stella Pints, $15 Stella Pitchers, $18 Buckets, $5 Svedka shots.
Deals: Happy hour runs Mon-Fri from 3-6pm, with half-price wings and select pitchers of beer, plus a variety of daily specials.

Draft Republic

La Jolla, Carlsbad
All-day specials and two daily happy hours reign here
Draft Republic brings the action to life with a 100” projection screen in La Jolla and more than 50 flat screens in Carlsbad, plus great daily specials that vary depending on location and a tap list that includes dozens of San Diego’s favorites. Pool tables, pingpong, and retro video games provide ample entertainment at halftime and for the non-sports-minded folks. Super Bowl Sunday gets you all-day Happy Hour prices: $2 off drafts, $6 wells and wine, $7 shareable appetizers, and a burger or sandwich with fries, a salad, and a draft for $17.95.
Deals: Daily happy hour that varies slightly in times and prices between La Jolla and Carlsbad.

Elbow Room

Kearny Mesa
A haven for Browns fans, with a 10-foot TV screen
The Cleveland Browns have had yet another disappointing season, but members of the Dawg Pound are loyal to their team no matter where they live. Elbow Room in Kearny Mesa is the proud home of the San Diego Browns Backers as well as LSU alumni, but fans of any flavor are welcome. Multiple events are shown on the 16 HDTVs (as well as the huge 10-footer), while the dog-friendly outdoor patio, complete with a fire pit, is the perfect spot to enjoy their legendary weekend happy hour.
Deals: Happy hour runs Mon-Fri from 11am-7pm, with $1 off all drinks, drafts, bottles, wine, and appetizers, 14-ounce Bloody Marys, margaritas, and martinis for $6.75. On weekends, 11am-7pm happy hour offers $3.75 wells, Jäger, Fireball, and Jameson shots for $4.75, and drafts for $3.75-6.50

Slater’s 50/50

Liberty Station
Burgers, bacon, and one hundred beers on tap
With over 100 rotating beers on tap, Slater’s would be a destination unto itself, but add dozens of flat-screen TVs, a family-friendly dining room, and a large, dog-friendly patio with giant Jenga, and you have Liberty Station’s go-to sports watching venue. The recently updated menu includes craft cocktails, Palomas and nitro cold brew coffee on tap, boozy milkshakes, wings, and an array of plain or fancy customizable burgers.
Deals: Happy hour runs Mon-Fri from 11am-6pm and Fri-Sun from 10pm-close, with $3 off any beer, $5 well drinks, $5 glasses of wine, $6 select craft cocktails, and $4-8 snacks and appetizers. Check in on Yelp for $2 off your second beer.

The Rabbit Hole

Normal Heights
Chill sports-watching with great food and giant games
Brunch and football viewing bring Normal Heights locals to The Rabbit Hole on weekends for delicious, not-your-typical-bar-food plates such as Ranchero Shrimp and Grits, and Pulled Pork and Waffles, paired with inventive craft cocktails. The covered outdoor patio features cornhole, giant Jenga, and giant Connect Four games.
Deals: Happy hour runs Mon-Fri from 5-7pm, with $5 select local drafts, $6 wine by the glass and select specialty cocktails, and $6-7 appetizers. Weekly specials feature half-price bottles of wine on Mondays, $10 Burger & a Busch on Tuesdays, and $10 select bottles of Champagne on weekends.

Home & Away

Old Town
An overlooked treasure in the heart of an overlooked neighborhood
Old Town is often overlooked by locals who consider it far too touristy, but they just haven’t found out about Home & Away yet. Take a break from the big game to step outside into the huge shaded patio for giant Jenga and Connect Four, cornhole, and pingpong, or stay inside to play foosball, pinball, and other classic arcade games. A massive smoker churns out 12-hour smoked pork and chicken for tacos, sandwiches, and nachos; wash it down with a beer or two from the 22 taps, a craft cocktail, or a shareable pitcher of booze.
Deals: Happy hour runs Mon-Fri from 3-6pm, with $1 off wine by the glass, bottled or draft beer, and well drinks, and $3-6 off selected specialty cocktails.

Sandbar

Mission Beach
Watch the game just steps from the sand
Sandbar is smack in the heart of Mission Beach, embracing the best things about San Diego -- sun, sand, and sports. Downstairs, dozens of flat-screen TVs keep give you ample viewing while the huge roll up garage-style doors let in the warm sea air. Upstairs, stunning views of the sunset and the Belmont Park roller coaster will make you forget that sports exist. Food-wise, the award-winning tacos are always a favorite choice, as are the breakfast burritos, which are available daily before noon.
Deals: Happy hour runs Mon-Fri from 4-7pm, with $6 Sandbargaritas, $8 22-ounce drafts, $5 14 oz. drafts, and $4 tacos. Taco Tuesday features tacos from $2-4 and El Jimador shots or Motejo pints for $3, house margs for $4, and 50% off all tequila.

The Bullpen Bar & Grill

Kearny Mesa
A crowd-pleasing bar with a huge menu and 60 TVs
With more than 60 flat screens and an HD projection screen, every seat in the house has an optimal view, while the enormous menu has choices for everyone. The Bullpen's comprehensive game schedule also keeps you up-to-date on all special events -- including early morning World Cup matches, college and professional championship series, and boxing matches -- as well as their popular prime rib dinner nights.
Deals: Happy hour runs Mon-Fri from 2-6pm, with $1 off all wines and craft beers, $2 well cocktails, domestic bottles, and Coors Light Draft, $5 appetizers. On Sunday and Thursday, $15.95 prime rib dinner from 5pm till it runs out.

Backyard Kitchen & Tap

Pacific Beach
An American gastropub in a lively neighborhood
Sink into the luxuriously tufted banquettes or a posh outdoor cabana at this upscale sports bar, a mere stone’s throw from the water in Pacific Beach. Known as a Golden State Warriors-friendly venue, they show all GSW games with audio unless a live band is playing during game time. Brunch starts at 9am on weekends and features mimosa flights, premium Bloody Marys and brunch favorites from brisket hash to spicy cajun fried chicken.
Deals: Social hour runs Mon-Fri from 3-6pm, with $3 Bud drafts, $4 Modelo drafts, $5 select local drafts, house wines, and well drinks, $7 featured specialty cocktail, and $5-11 appetizers. Weekly specials include all-day Muck Funday Mondays with industry discounts and $4 local pints, Budweiser and Shock Top, $16 local pitchers and a build-your-own pasta bar for $9.95 (or all-you-can-eat for $12.95), plus $4 local drafts, $5 titos, and $6 Jamo picklebacks.

Social Tap

East Village
The perfect place to watch every Padres game without buying a ticket

Given that Social Tap sits just steps from Petco Park, it follows that it’s the premier spot on Padres game days, but with all the DirecTV sports package, you’ll have access to watching all your favorite sporting events including UFC. Grab a seat inside, and enjoy one (or more) of the 27 TVs, including 90” and 110” screens. The from-scratch kitchen serves up lunch, dinner, and a weekend brunch that features killer chilaquiles and chicken-fried tri tip. Three outdoor patios have views inside Petco Park, comfy seating, fire pits, and giant checkers, Pictionary, and Candy Land games.
Deals: Social hour runs Mon-Fri from 3-6pm and Sundays from 4pm-close, with $3.50-$4.50 glasses of wine, Social Tap drafts, and beer of the day, $4 premium well drinks and $6 premium martinis, Crown Royal, Ketel One shots, and the slushy of the day.

Mother’s Saloon

Ocean Beach
A cozy neighborhood saloon with big-ass beer specials
While it's home to fans of the New England Patriots, San Diego Aztecs, Oregon Ducks, and Nebraska Huskers, all sports fans are welcome at Mother’s Saloon. Twenty-five HD screens, a projection TV, and NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL packages combine to ensure you won’t miss a minute of your favorite team’s action. In addition to craft beers and specialty cocktails, Mother’s smokes and cures its own bacon, pork, and jalapenos, fire roasts its vegetables, hand-patties the burgers, and makes all sauces in house.  
Deals: Happy hour runs Mon-Fri from 3-7pm, with $1 off craft cocktails, $2 drafts, $3 wells and half-off appetizers. Weekly specials include all day Taco Tuesday for $2 Tacos, $4 Pacificos, and $8 Double Madres Margaritas and all day Big Ass Beer Wednesday for $4 Absolut shots and $5 big ass beers. Grab a $12 burger or half Philly with fries, tots, or a salad Mon-Fri from 11am-5pm (and add a beer for $2).

The Deck at Moonshine Flats

East Village
Bigger is better at this LA Rams-friendly watering hole
Proud supporters of the LA Rams, SDSU Aztecs, and USC Trojans, The Deck offers drink specials every time the Rams score and win. An open-air venue with a casual vibe, it’s the ultimate tailgate destination without the hassle of, well, actual tailgating. Backyard-style games include cornhole, pingpong, and shuffleboard, while multiple bars and beer tubs keep the libations flowing. The delicious smokehouse barbecue menu features brisket, tri tip, ribs, pulled pork, and chicken. Super Bowl Sunday will include smokehouse BBQ specials like tailgate wings and sliders, along with beer and drink specials including $20 Coors Light buckets, $25 Saint Archer buckets, $12 bottles of champagne, $6 Smirnoff Vodka drinks, and $6 Jim Beam drinks. There will also be prizes and giveaways every quarter. 
Deals: Happy hour runs Mon-Fri from 4-7pm, and all day Thursday for $5 we-call-its, $5 Gaucho rum mules, and two-for-one Buena Cervezas. Weekly specials include Messy Mondays for $1 ribs from 4-10pm and $10 crispy baby back croquettes on Wednesdays.

Bar One

Little Italy
One of Little Italy’s only sports bars serves up hearty breakfasts for football fans
Bar One opens early on weekends, so you can enjoy their mouth-watering, Italian-influenced bites along with all the NCAA and NFL games. Brunch is served every Friday through Sunday and features classics such as chicken and waffle sliders, breakfast burritos, Jimmy B’s breakfast hash. Lunch and dinner options include sandwiches, subs, burgers, links, and meat and cheese boards. A dozen taps, short wine list, and a selection of classic craft cocktails round out the offerings, and make this place more than just a spot to watch a game.
Deals: Happy hour runs Mon-Fri from 3-6pm, with $5 well drinks, draft beers, and glasses of wine. 

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Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting various vegetables and beverages, reading cookbooks and traveling around Mexico. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.