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10 great sports bars in Tucson for beer, big screens and bar grub



When you're looking for a laid-back sports bar in midtown Tucson, look no further than Throwbacks. The food is more gourmet-minded than you might expect from a sports bar - smoked gouda cheeseburger, anyone? - and the weekday lunch specials bring in the crowds even on non-game days. 

If you're looking for a friendly place to watch the game with the whole family, head to east Tucson, where you'll find The Canyon's Crown Restaurant and Pub. This British-style pub is also one of the city's liveliest sports bars. Dozens of large screen TVs and gourmet pub fare make a good pair when you want to watch the big game in style.

Now, if college bars are more your speed, Tucson offers plenty of options. If you want to stay close to the University of Arizona campus, stroll over to Gentle Ben's Brewing Company, a large, comfortable two-story sports bar with craft beer on tap. It's an old campus favorite for a reason. 

Another popular University area sports bar is Trident Grill, where you can munch on fish 'n chips while watching the game. 

Or maybe you prefer your beer with a slice of gourmet pizza? If that's the case, head over to No Anchovies. This relaxed pizzeria is known for great slices, cold beer, and plenty of large-screen TVs. Who knew watching the big game could be so indulgent?

 

 


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Frog & Firkin


An English-style pub may seem a tad out of place in the middle of the desert, but the Frog and Firkin definitely fills a niche. Live music is the draw three or four nights a week, but there's also a great jukebox with a wide variety of tunes; pool and darts occupy folks at other times. Food could be called upscale pub grub – inventive salads, non-standard sandwiches (the Chimney Sweep combines turkey, aioli, apple, red onion and cheddar), fantastic pizza and tasty fish and chips. As for beverages, well, the Frog serves more than 75 domestic and imported beers, which should please just about any palate.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: Frog & Firkin is unpretentious and fun - exactly what you need in a good college sports bar. Plus, the kitchen provides plenty of gourmet burgers.

Patricia's expert tip: Even if you're not a sports fan, Frog & Firkin's expansive menu of gourmet pub grub makes this a group-friendly destination.

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Rusty's Family Restaurant & Sports Grille


Who knew a sports bar could double as a family restaurant? Rusty's - a Tucson sports bar institution - wears many hats. It's a friendly neighborhood sports bar with more than 45 TVs showing live sporting events from around the country (and around the world). It's also a laid-back spot to hang out with friends, with plenty of pool tables, dartboards, and even private event rooms to accommodate larger groups. Of course, Rusty's is also a popular bar, with a lively happy hour every day. And let's not forget Rusty's is also a family restaurant, with a designated dining area where you can nosh on house specialties like the humunga chimichanga (eat it, if you dare).

Recommended for Sports Bars because: On the west-side, Rusty's is a solid destination for serious sports aficionados who want to watch the big game with like-minded company.

Patricia's expert tip: Rusty's is a neighborhood bar, but it's also a family-friendly pub. Bring the kids.

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Playground Bar & Grill


If you're looking for a sleek, modern bar and lounge in downtown Tucson, look no further than Playground Bar & Lounge. The hybrid bar and lounge manages to be both hip and inviting, marrying traditional southwestern hospitality with the stylishness of a modern bar. Keep moving on the dance floor, enjoy a cleverly-named cocktail at the bar, or enjoy a bit of people-watching on the patio. The bar hosts a popular Sunday brunch where you can enjoy a Bloody Mary made to order. If drinking and dancing make you hungry, check out the taste bud-pleasing food menu, featuring gourmet burgers, salads, and appetizers. If you're looking for a spot to watch major sports events like the World Cup, Playground is known for hosting large sports events.

Patricia's expert tip: If you're looking for a brunch spot where you can catch the big game, Playground Bar & Lounge hosts one every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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If you're looking for a break from the typical sports bar environment, try the Catalina Barbeque Co. & Sports Bar. The upscale sports bar and barbeque joint is tucked away inside the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa on the city's scenic west side. The barbeque features winning recipes made famous by Midwestern and Southern barbeque competitions. The extensive selection of savory, smoked meats is a major draw, but many folks also stop by for the sports bar, which features more than 50 bottled beers and drafts, including a custom-brewed Catalina Pitmaster Wheat. There are also a bevy of hand-crafted culinary cocktails available.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: The Catalina Barbeque Co. & Sports bar is ideal for beer connoisseurs looking for a good place to catch the game.

Patricia's expert tip: This is a good bar to visit if you're seeking to sample locally crafted beers.

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Gentle Bens Brewing Co


For more than three decades, Gentle Ben's has been brewing up great beers like Tucson Blonde, Red Cat Amber and Ben's India Pale Ale. If you come to eat, there are two must-haves: buffalo wings in either a wicked hot habanero sauce or a piquant tequila-cilantro sauce, and the Diane Burger topped with butter and red wine sauteed onions, mushrooms, garlic and Swiss cheese. A friendly, laid-back neighborhood pub by day, the place morphs into a thumping dance club when the moon comes up, especially on Tuesday and Thursday nights after about 10 pm. That's when legions of trendy 20-somethings gather to mingle and move while quaffing quality beer.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: Gentle Ben's is a relaxed sports bar with a genuinely laid-back college feel.

Patricia's expert tip: The liveliest time to come is around happy hour, which happens daily from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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Trident Grill


Trident Grill is a venerable college sports bar that draws big crowds nearly every night of the week. You'll definitely want to claim your bar stool early on busy game nights. The menu features typical bar food (think classics like juicy burgers, mac and cheese, hot wings), but it's fresh and made with care. The beer menu does not disappoint. One of the unique features of this college hangout is the beer steins hanging over the bar - you can hang yours here and use it to drink on future visits. If you're looking for no-frills grub and lively ambiance, you can't go wrong with a night at the Trident Grill.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: Trident Grill offers lively college bar ambiance and solid bar grub.

Patricia's expert tip: Try the delicious fish n' chips.

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Sentinel Peak Brewing Company


Sentinel Peak Brewing Company is a new nano-brewery in Tucson that offers a rotating selection of craft beers. There is also a small selection of house favorites on tap. Owners Matt Gordon, Taylor Carter and Jeremy Hilderbrand were inspired by their travels to create distinct craft brews. Guests will be able to enjoy four regulars: an India pale ale called the Haboob IPA, a German dark lager, a Mexican-style Vienna, and a blond. There will also be two rotating options. The brewery regularly hosts big game nights, where you can enjoy a pint or two with local sports buff in a lively taproom.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: Sentinel Peak Brewing Company brings together tasty craft beer with the fun of a lively sports bar.

Patricia's expert tip: Check the brewery's schedule for special tasting events.

Read more about Sentinel Peak Brewing Company →


No Anchovies


Don't be fooled by the name: No Anchovies isn't just a pizzeria for foodies with an aversion to small, saltwater fish. Aside from pushing out top-notch pies, No Anchovies also happens to be a fine sports bar. If the idea of enjoying hot slices, drinking frosty beer, and watching the big game on a large screen surrounded by fellow sports fans sounds like a good deal to you, head over to this University-area pizzeria and sports bar next time you're in the Old Pueblo. This is definitely a college sports bar, so be prepared to rub elbows with diehard University of Arizona Wildcats fans.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: No Anchovies fits the bill when you need a laid-back place to watch the big game. Plus, the pizza is excellent.

Patricia's expert tip: Happy hour happens from 3 pm to 6 pm every day.

Read more about No Anchovies →


The Canyon's Crown Restaurant and Pub


If you're looking for a cozy neighborhood pub with great drinks and plenty of large-screen TVs, The Canyon's Crown Restaurant and Pub should fit the bill nicely. This British-style sports pub carries both DirectTV and Cox, which means you'll be hard-pressed to find a game that isn't on. The sports bar has a good rotating draft beer selection and a menu of elevated pub fare. To start with, try the Irish Nachos, a plate full of seasoned waffle fries smothered in melted cheese and topped with bacon, green onions and sour cream. Main selections include gourmet angus beef burgers, specialty salads, sandwiches, and new takes on classic British pub classics like Fish & Chips and Shepherd's Pie.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: The Canyon's Crown is the ideal sports bar for the discerning foodie, and for lovers of traditional British pubs.

Patricia's expert tip: Happy Hour specials available daily from 4 pm to 7 pm.

Read more about The Canyon's Crown Restaurant and Pub →


Barrio Brewing Company


The Barrio Brewing Company, located in one of downtown Tucson's historic warehouse districts, has quickly established itself as a local landmark. This vibrant bar, grill, and brewery, which opened back in 2007, proudly brews up 12 microbrews, several of which you'll find on tap on any given night. This dark, cool converted warehouse has quickly become a favorite with locals in the know. Tucson Blonde, Red Cat Amber, Copperhead Pale Ale, Barrio India Pale Ale, Oatmeal Stout, Nolan's Porter, Taylor Jayne's Raspberry Ale, Hefeweizen, Nut Brown (fall seasonal), Rich Rod Red (seasonal) are just some of what you'll find on tap at Barrio Brewing Company.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: Barrio Brewing Company has become a go-to destination for local sports buffs who want to enjoy the big game in good company.

Patricia's expert tip: Try the pizza, hot and fresh from Barrio's pizza brick oven.

Read more about Barrio Brewing Company →


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Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.

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