Best Place to Watch the Game (and Best Bar): Carl’s Tavern
Want to watch people happily watching the game? Just peer through the windows of Carl’s Tavern downtown, which won not only Best Bar this year but also Best Place to Watch the Game.
The two go hand in hand just like ski jumping goes with namesake Carl Howelsen. Create a great bar, and you create a great place for patrons to watch their favorite sporting event.
Founded by Noella and Collin Kelley, Carl’s offers every sports package under the sun, from college sports to NHL, MLB and NFL Sunday Ticket, on 16 HDTVs. “You can see at least three TVs from every seat in the house,” Collin says. “From some, you can see five.” (Hint: These include a couple at the bar and one in the elevated dining area.) Volumes can be adjusted individually or permeate the entire tavern for one big game. In the Antler Room is a 70-inch, 1080-pixel TV with surround sound. “Usually, we have the Broncos playing in there, or whatever group has the biggest fan base,” he adds.
Carl’s is also diplomatic about appeasing different fans. “We’ll see what kind of jerseys people are wearing that day,” he says. “Steamboat has a ton of Patriots, Steelers and Packers fans.”
Carl’s tailors its food offerings to fans, as well. Its 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday brunch was created largely for game time. “It’s fan food like biscuits and gravy and breakfast burritos,” he says. “We also have a build-your-own bloody mary bar — we pour the vodka, you do the rest — as well as bottomless mimosas.” From kickoff weekend through the Super Bowl, it offers $2 Bud drafts and 50-cent wings all day Sunday and on Monday nights. Also, look for Harvey’s Huddle on ESPN radio broadcasting from Carl’s every Monday night, with help from former NFLer Tim Krumrie.
Just don’t look for your host to necessarily root for your team. An ardent Kansas sports fan from his youth, he’ll likely be wearing a Chiefs jersey.
2.The Tap House Sports Grill
Like a typical NFL rivalry, the Tap House won Best Place to Watch the Game for three years running, from 2011 to 2013, besting neighbor Carl’s Tavern. Despite losing the title this year by just 28 votes, it’s still a great place to saddle up for suds and sports. Located on Lincoln Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets, it’s beefed-up its sports-viewing offerings with a whopping 54 — yes, count ’em, 54 — flat-panel HDTVs, as well as two 70-inch, HD, 1080-pixel screens guaranteed to get sports fans screaming. For audio, wireless, eight-channel speakers come on every table — including a fleet of new, comfortable booths — allowing patrons to listen to the game of their choice.
Those choices are far-reaching. The bar carries every major sports channel package there is, including those for rugby and soccer (resulting in a packed house this World Cup season). “It’s a great place to watch any sporting event you want,” general manager Mike Bryan says, crediting its success to food, service and atmosphere.
Wings — with 17 homemade sauces — and special burgers are favorites, as are the 21 beers on tap and “bottomless” build-your-own bloody mary bar. On Sunday mornings, choose from homemade biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos and more. In the afternoons and evenings, look for specials on Odell and a happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. serving up $2 domestics, $3 crafts and a special food menu. You also can play Football Bingo on Monday nights, which uses football plays instead of numbers, to win prizes and drinks, or the NTN Network’s free sports trivia game. On Thursdays, guess the exact score of the game and win $1,000.
The decorations ensure you’re in a game-watching mood, with jerseys from the likes of Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, John Elway and more, as well as baseball artifacts and ski gear from local Olympians. “Sports are extremely important to our business,” Bryan says. “In the summer, they’re huge for the Triple Crown players in town, and in the winter, the NFL brings the tourists in. It’s just a great place to watch the game, no matter who you’re rooting for.”
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