Oct 16, 2015 - Things to Do

CLT Debates: The best places to watch football in the city



We are well into Pigskin Season, which means it’s time to spend our weekends watching some Daily Fantasy Sports commercials with a few football plays sprinkled in. There is nothing quite like a Sunday afternoon spent entirely indoors watching games you only mildly care about, completely oblivious to the fantastic fall weather going on outside.

The feeling of emerging at 4:30 p.m. from a dark bar after watching eight football games simultaneously, blinking in the resplendent sunshine, basking in your 3.75 point fantasy football lead, is one of life’s simple joys.

So where in Charlotte is the best place to binge on the NFL? Two of the city’s greatest minds, The Talented Mr. Yoho and @TheTrolleyWalk, meet again to hash it out. If you missed the first installment of CLT Debates, check it out: Which is better, South End or Plaza Midwood?

Trolley Walk: Rationalize your habit with a bar on the greenway

Here are my initial choices:

Hickory Tavern – Midtown

This place is an 85-mile-per-hour batting practice fastball of a sports bar. Good service, decent food, generally good drink specials and plenty of screens. I give it a slight deduction for being a chain, but what puts it on this list for me is the tables and bar they have outside along the greenway. If you get there early and are able to snag one of these cherry spots, you get the best of both worlds: the opportunity to watch a bunch of NFL games while not missing out on great fall weather. It’s the best way to rationalize your unhealthy sports watching habit. There are certainly better patios in Charlotte, but none with the number of outdoor screens and dedication to multiple games at Hickory Tavern. Therefore, this is my first option for your consideration.

Blackfinn – Epicentre

The EpiCentre is certainly corny, but for things that are meant to be enjoyed by the masses, it always delivers. The NFL is no exception. Blackfinn is essentially designed for NFL watching, and you can generally watch every game from many different vantage points due to the placement of the TVs. The food and drink specials are good to great, and the darkness of the interior makes that 4:30 walk outside feel like you’re Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption.

Write-in Candidate Based on Potential: Duckworth’s Uptown

I can’t really vouch for Duckworth’s because unlike the others, I’ve never experienced an NFL Sunday here (thanks a diaperload, fatherhood). But I have to include them because between the sheer number of TVs, great food, and even better beer selection, that’s all the ingredients for a  great day of NFL watching.

Please let me know what you think of these and send me yours, so that I may mock them incessantly with pithy sarcasm.

Miller Yoho: Good food, good service, good parking

Hey there TW, thank you for reaching out for another opportunity for us to discuss the serious and pertinent issues of the day. If I could describe our first conversation the word “groundbreaking” would get a nod in my description.

With that said let me start off by saying you are watching football completely wrong. The best day to watch is on Saturdays when the college kids play. In my mind the NFL is just a retirement league for all of my favorite college football players, and here is a confession: I have not watched a single NFL game on TV this year*.

Alright, let me start off with a complex evaluation of your recommendations of places to watch games:

Hickory Tavern – is a great place to watch games, no doubt about it, but it also is a chain and after finding out it is the “the bar” in my hometown of Gastonia, I’m out. I have nothing against HickTav, there is just a simple promise I made when I crossed the river to leave my Gaston County ways behind me. I love Gastonia and will defend it forever, but I did also choose to live in Charlotte for a reason.

Blackfinn – From our previous conversation you know that there is little chance I am going to the EpiCentre during peak hours. Young people terrify me** and their inability to sit back and analytically watch a game without spilling a beverage on themselves prevents me from ever considering them company to watch football with.

Duckworths – I kind of like this idea. Maybe one day if we play our cards right we can go watch a game together here (as long as there is free parking).

Finally my suggestions:

Ed’s – Dilworth

While this goes against my lifestyle choice of avoiding people, it is just too good of a bar to not be on this list. I have always had good service and the food is pretty much point. Also, another underrated part of being a good bar is parking, and Ed’s has a fairly large lot in the back with easy access to the building. Plus they have a punching machine that can gauge how strong you are where your rage levels skyrocket when your team inevitably rips your heart out.

Pint Central – Plaza Midwood

Sneaky good. Has a ton of good beers, plenty of TVs, and the food is phenomenal. Going here is always a treat and you can pretty much always request a TV be put on your game. The only downside is really the small parking lot (there is street parking), but let’s be honest and admit that if you are out watching games there is the large possibility you are going home in an Uber.

I look forward to your responses and hope you have a great day doing what trolleys do.

Trolley Walk: Up your patio game

MY the Football Guy,

I’m shocked that a place in Plaza Midwood made it in to your picks. But first, I have to address your subtle dig at the NFL. The NFL is a retirement league compared to college football the same way that riding a two wheel bike is like retiring from riding a tricycle. But I’m not here to knock college football, which I also enjoy immensely. I’m here to have a frank and productive conversation about watching football in the QC.

Ed’s was on my short list too. If they put a bunch of TVs on that new patio, it might skyrocket to #1 on the list. A lack of multiple TVs is actually why I didn’t suggest Ed’s at first. I’m not sure they even have enough to show all the 1:00 NFL games simultaneously, which is a huge requirement for me. If I can’t turn my head slightly and see every egregiously bad roughing the passer penalty, I’m not having a good time.

I’ve only been to Pint Central once, and not during football season, so I don’t think I can slam this idea with the gusto I normally might. They do have one of the most tantalizing appetizer menus in town for any restaurant, let alone a bar type joint.

Here’s the line where I throw a bone to a few popular places in south Charlotte that hit a handful of my criteria, but are no longer my speed. They’re all fine.

As for my top pick, I have to admit I was sandbagging a bit when I sent you my original list, lulling you into a false sense of security, waiting for you to let down your guard. The best place to watch football in Charlotte is at Jackalope Jack’s in my backyard of Elizabeth. You have the option to watch your team lose at the bar, the dining area, the game area, or in three different areas outside that all have tvs. They’ve got great food, especially the brunch menu on Sundays. They’ve got heaters for outside so you can comfortably sit outdoors well into the winter months. They even have your precious punchin’ machine. My favorite move with that is to headbutt the punch target, then take a shot. Shows people you aren’t messing around.

They also have skee-ball and pop-a-shot basketball, which are conveniently arranged so that you can play those games while still watching football. If Tim Ferriss or some other efficiency guru wrote a book on how to maximize fun, he’d say go to Jackalope Jack’s to watch football and drink delicious beer whilst playing pop-a-shot. If they could figure out how to mute DraftKings commercials, we’d have ourselves Heaven on Earth.

Oh and in case you aren’t yet sold and you’re also partial to the kind of football that’s less likely to cause long-term head trauma, Jackalope Jack’s is one of the better spots to watch the Premier League and other international soccer as well.

So I’ve just pushed all my chips into the center of the table on Jackalope Jack’s. Will you call my raise? Can you beat that? Or is the gold bracelet mine?

Miller Yoho: You have me convinced

TW, I have never been to Jackalope Jack’s but you have me sold. It appears that it hits on all of my requirements plus it is relatively close to my home as well. The only negative is the fact that it serves brunch, which is by far the most overrated and most ill-conceived meal.

I also will add that Dilworth Neighborhood Grille is a great spot. I could write about how it has tons of TVs and great drink specials, but what makes it special is how hospitable the staff is. Every time I go there a bartender asks my name and introduces not only themselves, but also the rest of the staff. That’s some white glove service for a blue collar guy, which is how you earn bonus points with this hombre.

So there you have it. Seven excellent options for football viewing, and I don’t think we have offended nearly as many people in this edition of Charlotte Debates. As always, we are open to your criticisms or suggestions on what to debate next.

What points did we miss in our tete-a-tete? Share your ideas with us on Twitter and tell us who won at @charlotteagenda, @thetrolleywalk, and @mr_yoho.

*This is probably why I am 2-12 in fantasy football right now

**Said from the high horse of being 28 years old


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