San Francisco is such a transplant city, chances are if you’re reading this, you’re not from here. (Comments on just about every Bold Italic piece will remind you of this.) While you may be enamored by the multifarious ways in which SF is magical, unless the Giants or the Niners are kicking ass, your sports allegiances probably still lie with your hometown teams. Luckily, you’re not alone. People from all over fall in love with San Francisco and some of those people decide to open up bars that pay homage to the team(s) they’re willing to riot for.
Below are just some of the many home-away-from-homes for diasporic sports fans.
A funny thing happened to make this Lower Haight Irish pub a home for both San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks fans. Ruggy Joesten (of Yelp fame) and Jerome Zech, (aka DJ Jerry Nice) started coming here independently to watch their respective teams battle on the gridiron each Sunday. Ruggy spread the word that Danny Coyle’s was a Chargers bar, while Jerome did the same for Seahawks fans. Eventually it became known as both, so much so that San Diego fans and Seattle fans console each other if the other’s team is playing poorly. And the games where the Chargers and Seahawks play each other, well, that’s about as close to heaven as shit talking ever gets.
With cheap drinks, bartenders that are equally sweet and surly, and lots of dogs hanging around, Kilowatt is a great place to watch a game. During baseball and football season you can always catch the Niners or Giants, but it’s during hockey season that Kilowatt shines … well, nothing in the exquisitely divey Kilowatt can actually be said to shine, but you get the point. This Mission mainstay has been a hockey bar for as long as anyone cares to remember and while they play games from all over, it’s the Detroit Red Wings that attract the most fervor. This is, of course, evident by all the Red Wings memorabilia on the walls.
There’s gotta be one of these in just about every U.S. city, right? With a solid jukebox, inexpensive drinks, and Golden Tee, it’s a great place to while away an evening, but during a game there’s no better spot in SF to be a New York sports enthusiast. Sundays get rowdy with NY Giants fans,
and the owners are big enough sports nuts that they even purchased some seats from the recently demolished
Yankee and Mets stadiums.
The Mission & North Beach
Besides being known for their Pittsburgh-style “All-in-One” sandwiches (the French fries are inside the ’wich!), Giordano Bros. is also known as a haven for anyone who proudly flaunts the Terrible Towel. Steelers fans are famously die-hard, so Sundays are a sight to see. Those in yellow and black crowd the bar like it was a convention for Blind Melon Bee Girl loyalists. Honestly, before the North Beach location opened, I forgot Pittsburgh existed.
North Beach/Fisherman’s Wharf
While only people from Massachusetts would proudly call themselves Massholes, it’s still far more pronounceable than Massachusettsans, which is what they are technically called. Regardless, is there anything more insufferable than Boston fans? Drop in to the Red Jack Saloon to find out.
If you’re looking for a “Bear and Cub bar” full of big, hairy men drinking beer and wearing leather, there are plenty of options in San Francisco. But if you’re looking for a “Bears and Cubs bar” full of big, hairy men drinking beer and wearing jerseys, then Dirty Trix is the place for you. A solid and friendly neighborhood dive bar, Dirty Trix is the kind of place where they won’t give you too much shit for wearing the opponent’s gear on game day. Plus, they often put out a free food spread. It’s hard to beat that.
Every Sunday for over 20 years Buffalo Bills fans have been packing the North Star Cafe past capacity. While this may seem like a long period of time, the North Star has been in existence since 1882, so to the bar it may feel like a passing fad, like Prohibition or pagers. But for SF-based Buffalo fans, it’s a goddamn right of passage.
Where else but the Mission would you be able to hang out and watch Manchester United on one screen and Las Chivas on another? While you can catch any number of soccer and rugby games at this Irish pub, it’s the Premier league and many of the Mexican teams that draw the biggest crowds.
Author’s note: I know I’ve neglected to include a number of places, because there are far too many fucking teams to keep track of, so in the comments, feel free to add any favorite spots I’ve missed.