The NFL kicks off its 2009 season this weekend. Sure, you can watch the games from the comfort of your living room, but where’s the camaraderie in that — not to mention the number of TVs necessary to follow up to 10 games at once?
Fortunately, the East Valley has no shortage of sports bars, all of which will be packed for the next 18 Sundays. Here are five of my favorites that not only provide prime viewing, but also top-notch food and beverage choices:
Blue 32 Sports Grill: The Valley’s gold standard in sports bar cuisine (pictured above). I love the freshly ground burgers and sliders, the nachos, the Philly cheesesteak, the turkey Rueben made with blue-cheese-and-bacon cole slaw, the tacos al carbon … you get the idea. Twenty-eight TVs show all the action, and you can get a table-top speaker box to tune into your game of choice. 1524 E. Williams Field Road, Gilbert, (480) 963-0032.
McDuffy’s Grille: This restaurant’s downtown Tempe predecessor was the Valley’s go-to sports bar for serious fans for more than a decade, and its latest incarnation offers an even better menu. Try the Pecos Mac & Cheese made with four cheeses and roasted green chiles. I’m also a sucker for crinkle-cut fries (pictured at right), which come with any of the nine burgers. There are 20 TVs inside and on an enclosed patio. 980 E. Pecos Road, Chandler, (480) 966-8200.
Buffalo Wings & Rings: What’s not to like about chicken wings that come in nine different sauces, each available in five levels of heat ranging from mild to atomic? A full lineup of domestic beers is complemented by an ever-changing roster of 20 craft beers. Twenty TVs follow all the on-field action. 1760 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, (480) 963-8000.
R.T. O’Sullivan’s: You’re sure to find your game at this spacious sports bar with more than 80 TVs. The something-for-everyone menu ranges from Irish favorites (corned beef and cabbage, bangers and mash, etc.) to American-style burgers and sandwiches. 1010 W. Southern Ave., Mesa, (480) 844-1290; 6646 Superstition Springs Boulevard, Mesa, (480) 396-9933.
Native New Yorker: A transplanted New York couple introduced Buffalo-style chicken wings at their failing Phoenix pizzeria in 1980, and the rest is Valley restaurant history. Today, besides award-winning wings, an all-encompassing menu includes burgers, sandwiches, pizza and pasta. Don’t miss the roast beef on house-made Kummelweck roll, a Buffalo favorite. 25 Valley locations.