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Favorite spots in town to watch the game with good chow?

In anticipation of the Pats on Monday Night Football tonight, I was thinking again about places to eat and watch the game.

I have my usual rotation of places to watch the Sox, Pats, Cs and Bs, but was looking for fresh ideas. A decent view of the TV from the bar or bar seating and respectable chow are the essentials. It doesn't need to be a 70-TV kind of joint, just one that can be relied to be showing the Boston pro team if they're playing. I'd like to limit this search to within, say, 5 miles of the State House.

http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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  1. Olde Magoun's Saloon.
    Bar food yeah - but done a little bit better.
    Also, great beer selection and they have that locally made hot sauce.

    14 Replies
    1. re: rknrll

      Old Magoun Saloon is my go-to spot as well to watch the games. Lots of TVs, better than average food and a great beer selection. I am also a little biased because it happens to be very close to my house! :)

      1. re: TomH

        I'm sorry, but what kind of self-respecting Pats/football fan is going to watch a game at effing Chez Henri, Green Street (fill in the blank for any other BoBo place as gini so wisely writes about...)?! If we don't watch at home, I second Tom H about Magoun's (are they doing the audio this season? I hope so). Or, like Hidden Boston, I go to Spirit. Or Pj Ryan's, but that's way local. Saturdays for college football at Spirit (but only if Nebraska isn't playing at the same time. We hate Big Red.)

        1. re: digga

          Ouch. Although I've never claimed to have any self respect.

          I'd argue PJ Ryan's has a few too many microbrews to count as "way local". Regardless, I love that place as a bar, but the chow is only ok.

          1. re: digga

            ("Bobos"? Ugh. David Brooks is a dink: just awful.)

            The kind of places that are full of hardcore sports fans eating lousy-to-mediocre food are legion in this town. I think Chez Henri fits spirit of my original request (though it is problematic in other ways, like TV sightlines from many seats.)

            I'm a sports fan and a self-respecting Chowhound. I want to watch the game *and* eat and drink well. I'll gladly endure whatever this says about the quality and depth of my sports fandom in the eyes of other fans.

            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Didn't mean to offend, MCSJB. From reading this board, I know you are a sports fan. I've watched games at places that are not the typical sports bar/pub and have gotten looks from the skinny jeans/ironically hirsute/tat-covered/pseudo intellectual/(fill-in-the-blank with your pet peeve) crowd when I have perhaps exclaimed too loudly about a play (see Nahant Native's post below). My sincere apologies.

              I'm with YY - I wonder if Joe McGuirk is tending bar at Game On! How fun would that be?! Otherwise, Highland Kitchen has a good-sized flat screen at the bar. Most folks seem pretty indifferent to the TV so you could probably ask for a game.

              1. re: digga

                Actually, no offense taken. I'm just saying: two of my obsessions have crowds that don't always overlap, but I won't apologize to either for the other.

                I think I empathize with what you're getting at here. If some hipper-than-thou type wants to sneer at me for hooting at the game, I will say, "Please: if that's so offensive to your tender sports-deriding sensibilities, find a place with no TVs." Likewise, I'm not buying the notion that self-styled hardcore sports fans must endure crap food for the sake of 100 TVs.

                All you need to improve on either scenario is research and a certain brazenness about having two loves, hence my inquiry.

                To put this in perspective: I spent tonight watching the Sox at my local, which has solid but not transporting food. But it's my local, which aggregates many charms: staff, regulars, atmosphere, stumbling distance from home, the game always on, and the advantages of semi-regular status. Great food isn't always paramount.

                But someone who dines out a lot, watches a lot of sports, and isn't careful about how they combine the two is in danger of eating a lot of not-transporting food. I tend to give a bit on each end to satisfy both joneses. I also bark at the notion that loving one must somehow diminish your appreciation of the other. I think you can simultaneously be a serious sports fan and a Chowhound; you just have to work a little harder than your friends.

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                1. re: digga

                  One oddity that I found pleasant when I moved here was that one could go to punk-ish type shows and there'd probably be a TV with the game on, people wearing local sports team garb, etc. Where I had come from, it was anathema to be a sports fan if you were an underground music fan.

              2. re: digga

                Hah, I haven't heard the term "BoBo" since Buff's Pub was a bucket of blood (people there used the term almost as often as "Barneys"). Thanks for the trip down memory lane! :-D

                1. re: digga

                  It is definitely one of the better places in the area to watch a game, but I just wish they could rebrand Spirit. They name is just awful, someone else has to suggest it for me to go there. I can't bring myself to say "let's meet at Spirit". FWIW there are plenty of BoBos at Spirit as well (at least when I have been there).

                  1. re: digga

                    I think there are pros and cons to watching a game at that kind of place. One being your chance of a seat is better (and of course the food) and sometimes you don't want the typical atmosphere. I've watched games at Sidney's in the Central Sq. Meridien, La Verdad, Audobon and had a good time. Got a pizza at Tony's in West Roxbury on Wed. (okay) and that seems like a good place with 3 TVs and very friendly people to yap with while the game's on (at least during PTI/Sports Center it was). Have gone to Game On and it's insane there, the one across the street was busy too of course.

                    1. re: Joanie

                      Is Joe McGuirk still tending bar at Game On? That would be a draw.

                      1. re: yumyum

                        Don't know the bartenders there at all.

                        I thought of a couple other decent places. I know Soulfire has its detractors, but I think it's good and you can always get a seat (which surprises me, and worries me). They've got one large screen and a couple TVs at the bar. Another place you can always get a seat is Cambridge 1 in the Fenway. Obviously limited menu but an option.

                2. re: rknrll

                  Thanks for the recommendation of Magoun - watched the Pats game there yesterday and I have to mention the pulled pork sandwich - really, a giant mound of carnitas-style braised pork, not really pulled as in bbq, which is totally fine by me - topped with a mound of not-too-sweet house-made-seeming cole slaw, on a buttered bun - came with vinegar sauce and horseradish creme on the side - slathered some of that horseradish on the slaw and wow...the game kept me from lapsing into a coma, but I was darn near close. Don't want to forget the generous serving of onion rings which had some green onions sprinkled about - a nice touch - good fry job. All this for $9? Holy cow.

                  Also bearing mention - they have six or seven different Oktoberfest brews from the usual domestic producers, but also a really nice one from Spaten.

                  Service behind the bar during the game also was truly professional. Thanks for the tip.

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    I was there yesterday as well. Too funny. There wasn't a seat to be had so I was standing down at the end of the bar by the kitchen. Once the crowd cleared after the game I was able to snag a seat at the bar and to order some food. Great game!

                3. I like watching games at O'Leary's in Brookline (decent food, great bartenders, laid back vibe), O'Sullivan's in Somerville (most seats have an ok view of the TVs), and Spirit in Cambridge (huge TV by the front windows, mostly good grub). And after checking out Tavern at the End of the World in Charlestown yesterday, I'm thinking that'll be another good spot to watch a game, as the food seems really good (the burger was outstanding) and they have a projection TV along one wall of the dining room.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: hiddenboston

                    Spirit is a favorite of my group of friends, although you need to get there early in order to get a good seat. With my group though, if we're going to a bar to watch a game the priorities end up being: #1 good vantage point of large (or numerous) HDTVs and #2 the game sound (not 'nothing', not 'music', etc) loud enough to hear over the din. There aren't a whole lot of places that actually fit that profile as it turns out, Spirit happens to be one that's convenient to most of us.

                    Good call on the Tavern - until I saw your line about the projection I was picturing the crappy little TV they normally have going, but hooboy. That chipotle burger they have is really good, and they have a nice beer selection (with some of the beers having standout prices, like their price on La Fin du Monde)

                    1. re: hiddenboston

                      My new favorite place for good beer and above average pub food.

                          1. re: phatchris

                            I think the burgers at Tavern at the End of the World are better than O'Sullvan's. Really nice flavor to them.

                            1. re: hiddenboston

                              I haven't tried the burger yet (looks great though), so far I've had the fish&chips(excellent), fish curry (very good), curry fries(very good), tuscan wings( good), and the toasties(good).

                              1. re: phatchris

                                The two things I had that I didn't care for was the chicken curry and the cuban. For the curry chicken was good, the curry was good, but htey didn't really work together. On the cuban, I dunno what it was, but I think I just wasn't feeling so well that way anyways, so I won't blame them for it.

                        1. re: phatchris

                          A good or bad thing depending on one's viewpoint, thursdays tends to feature local indie rock bands.

                        2. re: hiddenboston

                          Do you know if the projection tv is just for pats games, or will they do it for key sox games? I know they don't do it for normal sox games.

                          1. re: jgg13

                            Not sure. I'll ask them this weekend if I swing by.

                        3. Corner Tavern on Mass Ave in the Back Bay. Food specials (1/2 off apps and sandwiches) this month until 8. Better than average bar food (see recent reviews). Couple tv's over the bar and 4 others through out. They promise to not show only Boston teams (which is good for out of market fans).

                          1. Too late for last night but I ended up watching much of the game at the bar at Stella. It had been years since my last visit and I'd forgotten how much I love their food and how reasonable their wines by the glass are. TV is quite nice as well and visible from every seat in the bar area, I believe.

                            1. Was back in town last week, and saw Sox games at the bars at Green Street and Chez Henri. The TVs are a little ghetto at each, the food...isn't.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: finlero

                                Seriously? Chez Henri for a game? Maybe a chess match. I'd say that the Corner tavern is a good option and I always like RFO's once the fall hits for a mid season football.

                                1. re: NahantNative

                                  The big plus for Chez Henri is Rob tending bar on Monday nights and amazing food. I have to admit I've gone about a hundred times over the years and never noticed that they have a TV.

                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    Yeah, the TV is pretty small; if you're facing the bar, it's up and to the right.

                                    Chess match may be a little unfair (I'm thinking hipster roller derby), but NahantNative is certainly right in that it's not the place to go if you're the kind of sports fan who can't watch a Pats game without painting your stomach red and blue and shouting at Belichick until you go hoarse.

                                    That said, if there's a Sox, Pats, B's, or C's game, they'll have it on, and there will be a few people watching it (especially the staff). And as MC Slim JB said, the drinks and chow are pretty damn excellent.

                                    1. re: finlero

                                      I think I would be "shooshed" into oblivion if I were to watch the Pats game at Chez Henri. Go there for a cuban and a mojito, not the game. Chez has a special place in my heart.

                                      1. re: finlero

                                        Come on you know the BoBos at Chez Henri would benefit from a Massacre (roller derby) game at the Shriner's auditorium. The beer is beer and the food is...crap.