San Diego‘s relationship with professional football experienced an unfortunate fumble recently. That will happen when you have a very public breakup after 56 years of marriage. Luckily San Diegans’ steady diet of 76 degrees with a coastal breeze goes a long way to help the healing begin.
No matter how the NFL franchise winds may blow, San Diego is still an amazing town to watch football in. It has a home team in the SDSU Toreros, more flat-screens than you can shake a stick at, and a surprising number of places for transplants to America’s Finest City to find fellowship in their team of choice.
McGregor’s Ale House
McGregor’s Ale House assures that mid-town football fanatics have a bonafide pigskin paradise. This sprawling Irish pub has captured the frantic game-day energy previously housed in the neighboring SDCCU Stadium and delivered it back to the fans with game-themed cocktails, proper 16-ounce pints, over 20 televisions, and a rolling NFL sweepstakes. Frequent flyers of game day can accumulate raffle tickets for monthly and season-closing grand prize drawings to win everything from a cooler stocked with beer to a lush “Backyard Getaway Package” — as if watching your favorite team while snacking on comfort food and sipping on an Irish Jackass (a mule made with Jameson) wasn’t ballin’ enough.
McGregor’s Ale House; 10475 San Diego Mission Road, Grantville, San Diego; mcgregorssandiego.com
Bub’s at the Ballpark
This lively and eclectic space may be best known for pre- and post-game revelry among baseball fans, but it also does not discriminate. Fans of all stripes are welcome to enjoy a basket of loaded tater tots or a custom bacon flight when game time approaches.
Bub’s at the Ballpark can really start humming as game day mounts, so it favors early risers. Industrious folks braving the dawn will be amply rewarded with a sprawling brunch menu and a boisterous fan base to keep things energized. They even roll out additional TVs on their outdoor patio to ensure no bad seats for the game exist.
Bub’s @ the Ballpark; 715 J Street, San Diego; bubssandiego.com
The Duck Dive
This modern, open-air lounge certainly celebrates coastal culture, but the scarlet Nebraska banner swaying above the bar reminds that some of its loyalty resides well inland. The Duck Dive is the official Husker alumni watch site in San Diego.
While the menu largely favors invigorating farm-to-table cuisine, game day demands heartier options like biscuit & gravy sliders and duck fat fries. If that sounds a tad heavy, nothing cuts through decadent fare like a Sucker Punch cocktail (a bright, effervescent expression of Jameson, blood orange, fresh beet cordial, and ginger).
The Duck Dive; 4650 Mission Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92109, theduckdive.com
The Deck at Moonshine Flats
The Deck at Moonshine Flats is what you’d get if a rollicking tailgate was somehow swallowed whole by a house party. The eats, brews, and weirdly addictive party games like Ring Swing and Tip-Cup are all in reach for your enjoyment.
This man cave (if not wondrous man palace) welcomes all, but is slightly more welcoming to fans of the LA Rams, Arizona State Sun Devils, and USC Trojans. Even if you’re not sporting one of those jerseys, all TVs are labeled with the games they host so you’ll know exactly where to set up camp.
There’s hearty smokehouse BBQ aplenty, though no one could blame you for pivoting to their kielbasa breakfast sandwich, which features bacon, hash browns, an over-easy egg, and Tabasco aioli. Either will go great with the DJ-announced $5 Jameson shots offered when game-changing moments mandate celebration.
The Deck at Moonshine Flats; 335 6th Avenue, San Diego; thedecksd.com
At first glance, this swanky lounge may not seem built to host football mania — that is, at least until the T-shirt cannon comes out.
In reality, this place wants to scratch every game-day itch you have. Monday Night Football is accompanied by their Stadium Eats menu, a rotating entree that features the regional cuisine of the home stadium. When the weekend rolls around you can let the respective Bloody Mary and coffee bars determine what energy you’ll bring to the eight different games showcased around the bar.
Pro tip: Take your group down to Ginger’s (the basement bar within Barleymash) to huddle up on a game displayed on a wall-sized grid of nine TVs!
Barleymash; 600 5th Avenue, San Diego; barleymash.com
This rustic-chic dive bar holds the distinction of being San Diego’s alumni-certified home to Oregon fans. You can bank on seeing every Duck down on the massive projection screen as well as throughout the interior. The associated Duck Bites menu, featuring bacon-wrapped TJ dogs, mini quesadillas, and $12 pitchers, is a gloriously cost-effective way to spend a weekend enjoying everything on the PAC 12 network.
If domestic lagers aren’t your game, flavorful sips can still be found in $2.50 pints of the rotating craft beer of the month or a refreshing Irish Buck cocktail blending Jameson, lime juice, and ginger ale.
Mother’s Saloon; 2228 Bacon Street, Ocean Beach; www.motherssaloon.com
Guava Beach Bar & Grill
There are lots of bars that deliver gridiron action on several televisions, but only Guava Beach Bar in Mission Beach also offers calming aquarium views for when your favorite team is getting mercilessly trounced by their rival.
This cozy yet upbeat bar is definitely not on island time after kick-off commences. It’s a proud booster for both the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings. If there’s any doubt who is playing, just order a Famous Bionic Beaver, a “fan”tastic fishbowl cocktail whose colors mimic the on-screen team.
If aquarium-sized drinks intimidate, there’s always the Irish Pancake Breakfast shot: Jameson and butterscotch schnapps served with a side of OJ and slice of applewood bacon.
Guava Beach Bar & Grill; 3714 Mission Boulevard, San Diego; guava-beach.com
San Diego’s rollicking Gaslamp District plays host to parties of all sorts, but few are as distinctive and dynamic as Henry’s Pub. This stately Old World public house is somehow as well known for its fish tacos as it is for fish & chips. Curious as that sounds, the pub likewise manages to be a destination for anyone that appreciates either hurry-up offense or house music.
If you prefer dancing when it’s relegated to the endzone, get a jump on Monday Night Football with $4 drafts, wines, and well cocktails. Weekend games, however, demand a blitz offense on the palate with the ranchero sauce-drenched Morning After Burrito and a Bloody Maria.
Henry’s Pub; 618 5th Avenue, San Diego; henryspub.com
PB Shore Club
This boozy bungalow has an unassuming exterior, but it houses 21 TVs and one of the most hallowed ocean views in town. Between the New York Giants games and spectacular sunsets, you’ll never be at a loss for something to watch.
PB Shore Club slings a bounty of beverages across its sturdy butcher-block bar. They are best known for their slushies and 20 taps served in schooners, but if you’re there to support Navy Football consider the “Wingman Combo,” a $10 pint of beer and a shot of Jameson with $1 of each sale benefiting the Wingman Foundation.
PB Shore Club; 4343 Ocean Boulevard, San Diego; pbshoreclub.com