St. Louis was voted the best sports city in North America in the year 2000. You got your Cardinals, who might be headed to the World Series again this year. (they have made more World Series appearances than any other team) You got your St. Louis Rams, Super Bowl champions XXXIV. You got your St. Louis Blues. (Struggling the last few seasons, but historically still a great team) Talk about your red and blue, just let one of these teams get to the playoffs and as Jack Buck used to say : “Go Crazy Folks!” Busch stadium is filled with people wearing red shirts and Rams blue can be seen hanging off of practically every car. St. Louis has always been a huge baseball town. Heck, at one time the Cardinals were owned by Busch beer. Beer and baseball: could there possibly be a better combination? I remember Augie Busch riding around the stadium wearing his bright red cowboy hat before the game. And who can forget two of the greatest broadcasters in baseball history: Harry Carey and Jack Buck? Then of course, there are the players. Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Tim McCarver, Bob Gibson and Ozzie Smith…. the list goes on and on. So it’s only natural that this town probably has more sports bars per capita than any other city on the planet.
What makes for a good sports bar? First you have to be able to get your game on. There has to be clear sight lines to every TV screen in the place. The bigger the screens, the better. Then you have to have an assorted and quick flowing beer list. The service has to be quick. This is essential because people get very thirsty when they are watching sports. With the thirst comes hunger. Work out a menu of bar food staples that the kitchen crew can handle in a timely manner. The food has to be solid, high calorie and substantial, and none of it should taste like it was frozen and then zapped in a microwave oven. Finally, there should be enough TV’s and they have to at least be playing the Blues, Rams, and Cardinals. A lot of the bars have the same game on all of the sets and this is not a good thing. With these criteria in mind, here are a few of the best sports bars in St. Louis:
It’s only natural to start off with Ozzie Smith’s in Westport. The Cardinal’s shortstop hall of famer played from 1982-1996 and was known as “The Wizard” for his magic with a baseball glove. Though Ozzie no longer owns the bar, you can still catch him hanging out there occasionally with his family. This bar and restaurant is 100% Cardinals. The walls and entranceways are plastered with photos of the stunning plays of the Wizard of Oz. There are four big screen TV’s and more than fifty smaller ones displaying up to fifteen different sports! They have a good selection of all of the traditional bar food as well as seafood, steak, chicken, and pasta. Monday through Friday there is a free buffet 4-7:30 during the happy hour. The place is usually packed during lunch with businessmen from the surrounding office complexes, but the crowds are smaller around dinner time.
Next on the list is Hot Shots out on Manchester Road in Ballwin. This bar is known for its “Boobs and Blues.” It’s sort of a Hooters with a focus on Blues hockey. There are twenty TV’s scattered about the place and the food is a glutton’s paradise. Choices include hamburgers, ribs, deep fried shrimp, and blackened chicken sandwiches. After munching down, if you are not in a food coma, you can play games, trivia, and enter contests for free T-shirts and Blues tickets. They also have a bubble hockey machine. This is a foosball style machine with a plastic bubble top. This one features some of your favorite Blues players.
If you are looking for a more neighborhood atmosphere, then check out DB’s. DB’s is a small boxy bar in Soulard that sits next to a union hall. The place is crammed with TV sets in every conceivable nook and cranny. They even have some of them stacked up on top of one another. Practically every sport is represented. Bubba can watch the wrestling match while Stretch can sip his beer with his eyes glued to the Lakers. The menu consists of typical bar food.
Next we take a trip down to 7802 Gravois on the near south side to Syberg’s. It is a well known fact in St. Louis that everyone who lives in the near south side wears a baseball cap and drives a pick-up truck. On a recent visit to Stberg’s, one of the patrons at the bar was wearing a shirt that read: “Your Trailer or Mine.” Don’t worry though, the natives here are a friendly, but boisterous lot. The bar food here is also supreme. The first thing that you notice when you arrive is the huge Jaws-like shark that is protruding from the front of the building. Though the smoked chicken wings, nachos, and garlic cheese bread are all mighty tasty, you’ve got to try the deep fried shark nuggets. If that whets your appetite, then how about some fried catfish or a shark steak? Who says the sport of fishing is never represented at a sports bar?
And finally, what if you just left the game at the brand new stadium that opens downtown next year and you just can’t wait for more sports, food and fun? Then check out Maggie O’Brien’s, just a short jog up from the stadium on Market Street. C’EAD M’ILE F’AILTE (Gaelic for a thousand welcomes home) is their motto. Large space, lots of TV’s, Irish music and a free shuttle to all the games downtown. What more could you ask for? And so close. Be sure to order up a pint of Guinness and a Boxty. A Boxty is sort of a cheese filled potato cake that lasts a long time in the stomach and really soaks up the beer. As the old saying goes: “A Boxty on the griddle, a Boxty in the pan, if you can’t make a Boxty, you’ll never get your man.”