Best Sports Bars to Watch the Big Game

This one goes out to anyone who has said “hey let’s go watch the game at a bar” but hasn’t known where to go. Sure, most bars have TVs but that doesn’t make any old bar “a sports bar.” There are rules. As you may know, there’s a big football game coming up. We spent the last NFL season scouting five Salt Lake City bars and evaluating their adherence to the Five Rules of Sports Bar. And while these rules are particularly football-centric, they generally apply to all sports, including for example the upcoming NBA All-Star Game.

The Five Rules of Sports Bar

  • Salt Lake Sports Bar Rule #1 — A sports bar must have many, many screens. Many. And big, big tables with easy viewing angles on several games.
  • Salt Lake Sports Bar Rule #2 — A sports bar must have the NFL Sunday Ticket. (Crucial if you are a Washington Commanders fan, for example, and none of the networks ever show your game.)
  • Salt Lake Sports Bar Rule #3 — A sports bar must have decent food. (We’re not looking for haute cuisine here but it needs to not suck)
  • Salt Lake Sports Bar Rule #4 — A sports bar must have servers and bartenders who get that you are there to watch the game. (And will spend three hours worth of $$ ordering food and drinks)
  • Salt Lake Sports Bar Rule #5  — A sports bar must be open before kickoff. While this is not a problem for the Super Bowl (why must it start so late?), during the regular season, the first game is at 11 a.m. Every Sunday. Not a big deal for casual fans, but we’re not talking about casual fans. 

5 Best Sports Bars in Salt Lake City

The Green Pig — The Green Pig is by our account the best all-around sports bar in Salt Lake. It’s solid on offense and defense with a strong passing game centered around a crew of veteran servers who know you will order lots of food and drink and tip handsomely. They have many screens with good lines of sight. The bar managers are helpful in switching channels to ensure big tables with fans of multiple team allegiances all have a good view. The food rises to the level of decent. FLAG ON THE PLAY: Offense. False Start. Fans should arrive well before game time to secure a table. It’s a crowded field. Five-yard penalty. Replay first down.

Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club — Flanker is the new player at The Gateway (located in the expansive space briefly occupied by Punch Bowl Social) and has got some flashy features and outstanding talent in the kitchen. The basics are covered (and then some) with multiple bar and seating areas and more than 60 TVs including several large projection screens. But there’s more including a large (like really large) clubby space with a Vegas vibe featuring a massive projection screen and private service. And, we guess, based on the photo above, fireworks? On special teams, Flanker has some impressive tricks up its sleeve like private karaoke rooms, candlestick bowling, shuffleboard and a golf simulator. The service on the ground is still sorting out the playbook for the multi-faceted space but the food coming out of its kitchen is the best we’ve seen. Hands down they have the most delicious and impressive sports bar menus in Salt Lake. Its owners clearly have championship aspirations making Flanker one to watch next season. (For this coming Super Bowl Sunday you’ll need/want a reservation. Here’s the link to its “Flanker Bowl.”) FLAG ON THE PLAY: Delay of Game. Defense. Flanker was not open before the first play on Sundays during the regular NFL season. Five-yard penalty. 

Legends Pub & Grill — Legends is unique among Salt Lake Sports bars mainly because it has a vaguely defined 21-and-over bar area (the actual bar) but the rest of the space is licensed as a restaurant meaning kids can join. The menu here tops the Green Pig in breadth and depth and a slight edge in quality. The service crew lacks depth, especially behind the bar, which was often held up in the kick-off rush. There is a good field of screens but the majority are smaller and the staff isn’t as accommodating as the Green Pig in lining up fans at tables with good vantage points for specific games. Legends’ main edge is in space. Tables are spread out, making it feel less crowded than the Green Pig and there is a large back room that shows the featured game of the week on a large projection screen while the Red Zone plays on the two other big screens. Also ample parking. FLAG ON THE PLAY: Unsportsmanlike Conduct. Offense. Just because you can bring kids to Legends doesn’t mean you should. Despite this odd license, this place looks and acts exactly like a sports bar including loud, profane fans guzzling beer. Fifteen-yard penalty from the spot of the foul. 

Big Willies Sports Bar & Grill — Not Willies, BIG Willies. With an outdoor heated patio with televisions and a decent food menu, Big Willies is a solid bet especially on the service side. The crew on the floor and behind the bar are fast, friendly and attentive and, most importantly, they know it’s game day. FLAG ON THE PLAY: Defense. Not enough tables on the field. There is less table seating than our other picks and a smaller number of screens. No penalty. First down. 

Dick ’n’ Dixies — The least sports bar of all our picks Dick ’n’ Dixies is at its core just a good all-around bar. However, on Game Day they come to play. DnDs is a Real Salt Lake Bar, so they have a good setup for watching sports. It is however a more stand-around and watch spot, with less tables and bar space. But the smaller space creates more energy especially for a dedicated Minnesota Viking pack  of regulars. Packers fans beware. There’s no table service but the bar crew is fast and friendly. On the food side, DnDs is connected to Yoko Ramen next door via a walk up window. Yoko’s menu isn’t the traditional burgers and wings (although they do have wings) bar food, which helps DnDs stand out. Oh yeah, The fries at Yoko are the best in SLC. FLAG ON THE PLAY: Defense. Too many Viking fans on the field. Five-yard penalty. Replay first down.

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Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh is Salt Lake magazine's Editor. He covers culture, history, the outdoors and whatever needs a look. Jeremy is also the author of the book "100 Things to Do in Salt Lake City Before You Die" and the co-author of the history, culture and urban legend guidebook "Secret Salt Lake."

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