There are sports bars of many varieties just about everywhere you turn in this city, dank old caves where grizzled men shoot cheap whiskey and eat chocolate cake at 10 a.m., massive wing warehouses for bros and bro-ettes to chest bump and chug frozen pitchers of swill from “America's largest local brewer” (you aren't fooling anyone InBev), color-by-numbers gastropubs with overpriced sliders and identical watered down 'house special' lemon drops, and too many other types to mention.
That's not to say that these places are categorically awful, or that good times can't be had even at places that are categorically awful. In fact, we wrote about ten of the best places to watch a game in 2012, and we stand by those spots. Today, though, we flip the script a little bit. Each of these five places has televisions, though not all of them have hundreds of flatscreens at max volume all day; each has something going for it beyond sports; and, most importantly, each one serves up some damn fine adult beverages.
5. Link n Hops
Just a few years ago the only reasons for non-Beastie Boys to drive down Glendale Blvd. in Atwater were to get your racquet re-strung, to pick up a steak and potato burrito, or to buy an exotic bird. Now, though, Atwater's recent renaissance has brought plenty of worthy destinations, including one great place to catch a game: Link n Hops. It follows a familiar formula: sausages, fries, craft beer, and TVs, and it executes each step beautifully. The sausages are interesting and delicious, the fries are well prepared, and, most importantly, the beer list is good and diverse. There are plenty of TVs and the bartenders are always happy to switch them to whatever game you want to watch, whether that's a Mexican soccer match or the Clippers' daily defense-free layup line (which I guess they call a game). 3111 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 426-9049.
By now you've probably heard about the spirit-focused bar with the killer happy hour in an odd strip of Pacific Ave. in north Glendale, but you may not know about their latest addition — two very fine televisions. It's an unexpected move, but one that really pays off, at least if you like great whiskey, outstanding house-made ginger beer, and a low-key place to take in some sports. Despite the name and the concept, they will make you a (really good) cocktail, and there are some decent beers on tap. But if you ask us, very few things in this world pair better than Eagle Rare and Tuesday evening #MACtion. 1114 N. Pacific Ave., Glendale; (818) 241-4542.
Neat may be the least likely great place to watch a game, but Rock and Brews looks like the least likely place to actually enjoy yourself while watching a game. The El Segundo bar is massive and open-air, and it gives off all the signs of a crappy, bro-ed out experience. When you actually sit down, though, things become much more clear — the kitschy rock décor is charming and fun instead of aggressive, the atmosphere is relaxed and family-friendly (is this the only sports bar with a full-on playplace? Very likely), and the tap list is legitimately outstanding. The food may not be anything special, but on a sunny day, with a great beer in hand and that fresh beach air filling your lungs, there are few places more conducive to an enjoyable afternoon of televised sports. And as if that weren't enough, the excellent El Segundo Brewing Co. is right across the street for a next-level one-two beer drinking punch. 143 Main St., El Segundo; (310) 615-9890
See also: 10 Best Sports Bars in Los Angeles
Thinking about Monkish beers in a vacuum, the last place you would place them is in the hands of someone wildly gesticulating, shouting vague threats and occasional encouragement through a TV screen at young men in tight pants doing their very best to crash into each other at maximum velocity. At the Monkish tasting room, though, in the space just past the bar and around the corner, just a few short yards from the brewery's gleaming fermenters, that's exactly who is holding owner Henry Nguyen's exquisitely crafted, almost dainty, monastically-inspired Belgian beers. It's true that there is only one TV, but that turns out to be something of a relief in this Adderall-addled world — the chance to sip slowly on a Belgian Dubbel with Sichuan peppercorns, or a Saison “dry flowered” (instead of dry hopped) with hibiscus and chamomile, choosing sides at random in whatever big game happens to be on and cheering with or against the friendly, beer-loving crowd is the perfect antidote to the common sports bar. 20311 S. Western Ave., Torrance; (310) 295-2157.
There was great rejoicing amongst L.A.'s BBQ fans when it was announced that Kevin Bludso, proprietor and namesake of the Compton restaurant that is generally believed to serve the area's finest BBQ, was partnering up with the Golden State team to bring his meats to La Brea. What we did not realize, though, was how much extra we'd be getting right there in the middle of the city. There is serious Texas-style BBQ, of course, but there are also legitimately outstanding cocktails, good beer and Fernet on tap, a nicely designed space, and something like ten TVs in several banks. When you put it all together, the Rum a Tum Tum cocktail with half a pound of brisket, some rib tips, a Racer 5, a scoop or six of mac n cheese and collard greens, a shot of Fernet, some banana pudding, and the Clippers on the left, UCLA football straight ahead, and the Lakers on the right, things are just about as good as they get. 609 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 931-2583.
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