You’re a fair-weather fan. Or a casual observer with good intentions. You want to head to a sports bar to support the home team in this historic game.
Be careful what you wish for: Many sports bars will be standing-room only. Closest thing to a seat may be a beam to lean against. For four hours. Beer service may be slow, restroom lines long.
How can you avoid the mayhem? Stay home.
Oh, uh, you’re venturing out anyway?
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OK, let’s think this through. You’re not a battle-tested sports fan used to standing and nursing your beer until the server circles back an hour later.
You — like most concerned correspondences I get before a big game — worry there won’t be enough seats for your party.
Here are some suggestions.
Follow what I call the 50-inch TV rule. Bars with big projectors will be thronged. If you can live with watching a game at a small bar with several screens that are 50 inches and smaller, you can avoid the packed-like-sardines atmosphere.
A small bar with 50 fans cheering for the home team will be loud and festive enough, trust me. And service will be better, bartenders easier to flag down.
If a big-screen is an absolute must, here are some under-the-radar spots to consider. Liberty on Capitol Hill has a hidden backroom with an 8-foot projector. Ba Bar, not too far away, has a 110-inch screen with great chicken wings. Or consider breweries. Stoup Brewing in Ballard, for instance, will have big-screen televisions, and Standard Brewing in the Central District will show the game outside.
If you plan to hit Pioneer Square, consider the logistics. If the Seahawks win, the neighborhood will most certainly turn into a street party. If you don’t want to get snarled in traffic, park farther out (Ballard might be a safe bet).
If you want to be guaranteed a seat in Pioneer Square, the popular Seahawks bar, Fuel Sports Eats & Beats, with its 16 HD TVs and surround sound and giant projector, takes reservations. But you have to pay. It offers a three-tier seating system including $75 for a seat in the bar ($60 of that is a credit toward your food and drink) and $50 for a seat on the patio (with $40 of that a food-and-drink credit). Check website for details.
Don’t want to pay a cover charge? Then head out 90 minutes before kick off to snag a table. There’s about a dozen bars from Sluggers to Henry’s Tavern in the Pioneer Square area. (The dining area of F.X. McRory’s Steak Chop and Oyster House is already booked, but its bar is first-come, first-served.)
Capitol Hill — which traditionally has been a big barhopping ’hood but not good for catching games — has improved. Several sports bars have opened in recent years and several non-sports watering holes nonetheless now have projectors. The spacious Von Trapp’s will be the “it” place, with other bars getting its spillover crowd. Look to its sibling bar Poquitos or try Bar Sue or 95 Slide if you don’t’ want to deal with the long line at Von Trapp’s. Or hit Broadway east to Bait Shop, which will show the game on a big screen and offer $10 all-you-can-eat nachos.
On the Eastside, downtown Bellevue is the best option with a cluster of chain restaurants showing the game in their bars and plenty of parking at the mall.
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle