The best sports bars anticipate all that a consummate fan loves about a dive: large TV screens, good food and cold booze. Throw in a like-minded crowd who appreciates a good game and you’ve got a cozy dugout, regardless of which team you’re cheering for. Here are the best ones in Manila:
1. Handlebar Bar and Grill
Address: 31 Polaris St., Bel-Air Village, Makati City
Tel. 898-2189, 898-1976
Open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Sunday to Wednesday), 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. (Thursday to Sunday)
The lowdown: As the name hints, Handlebar is a sports enclave built primarily for bikers. The Mad Dog Motorcycle Club--a by-invitation-only club for Harley Davidson owners--call it home, but even the flimsiest of scooterists and pedestrians are welcome to enjoy the bar’s sports slash rock n’ roll atmosphere. One can catch rock veterans like The Jerks and Juan De La Cruz band alumni Wally Gonzales and Pepe Smith perform on Wednesdays to Fridays, while a multitude of large-screen LCD TVs showcase sports channels on weekends.
Must-order: Big John’s Barby and porterhouse steaks, from P300 to P600
2. Heckle and Jeckle
Address: Villa Building, Jupiter St., Makati City
Tel. 890-6904, 895-1752
Open from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily
The lowdown: Heckle and Jeckle, named after the ’50s cartoon characters, has been serving its yuppie and expat clientele for more than a decade now. And while anyone who is into billiards and watching live football, F1 and rugby games on its humongous projector screen has easily fallen for the bar’s charms, people find themselves coming back not just to have fun, but also to sate their craving for authentic Indian cuisine--Heckle and Jeckle’s specialty. The bar serves Filipino food as well, and it is said that our very own beef caldereta has become a favorite among their foreign patrons.
Must-order: Chicken Tika Masala, P250; Chicken Beef Vindaloo (hot curry), P195
3. 121 at Allegro
Address: 2/F Allegro Centre, 2284 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City
Tel. 856-0529, 386-9224
Open 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, except Sundays and holidays
The lowdown: 121 opened its doors to the public two years ago as a hangout for professionals in the area. The transformation into a sports bar took place just this year, at the height of the World Cup. But sports season or not, 121 keeps its clientele close with feature-packed nights--such as quiz nights on Tuesdays, Drinkeoke (karaoke with a live band) nights on Thursdays, and New Wave DJ-ing parties on Fridays.
Must-order: Beef Salpicao, Hungarian Sausage, P199 up
Also at G/F Adamson Bldg., Leviste corner Villar Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City. Tel. 892-8301
4. National Sports Grill
Address: 3/L Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati City
Tel. 728-4125 to 26
Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Monday to Friday), 11 a.m. to 12 midnight (Saturday and Sunday)
The lowdown: Action-seeking Pinoys who want to worry less about parking and feeling out of place among white dudes know where to go: the National Sports Grill. With one branch in Greenbelt mall and three other in California, NSG is a pioneer in mixing sports and dining together. Displayed inside the so-called "stadium" are sports memorabilia from local and international sports figures, surrounded by 10 LCD TVs and one 84-inch JumboTron. There’s also a billiards table for budding pool sharks. But on top of it all is the menu that includes a wide selection of American specialty dishes.
Must-order: Chicken Parmesan Pasta, P425; Home Run Sampler, P685
5. Velocity Sports and Entertainment Bar
Address: Marriott Hotel, 10 Newport Boulevard, Newport City Complex, Pasay City
The lowdown: Situated strategically inside the much talked-about Newport City complex, right next to Resorts World Manila and right inside the famed Marriott Hotel, is Velocity Sports and Entertainment Bar. The name, interior design and menu are adopted from its Hong Kong counterpart--an ultramodern venue for sports enthusiasts, with a wealth of large LCD screens showing various matches here and abroad. Velocity Sports Bar is now exclusive to corporate parties and private events which aim to imbibe a "sports bar" vibe.
Must order: Velocity Burger; Triple Velocity Clubhouse
6. Serendipity Lounge
Address: 22/F Discovery Suites, 25 ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Tel. 719-6821 to 23, 719-8888
Open 11 a.m. -11 p.m. daily
The lowdown: It is by no accident that Serendipity, which means "good luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries," can be found inside Discovery Suites, within the rendezvous-friendly Ortigas district. Though not strictly a sports bar, Serendipity Lounge, with its lush, intimate setting and the lounge performances held on special nights is easily a date spot, but, for those who like it to be, can also be a very accessible sports bar and watering hole complete with a billiards table and a panoramic view of the city.
Must order: Gambas, P320, and nachos, P280
7. Boulvar Sports and Music Bar
Address: Lobby Level, Manila Pavilion Hotel, United Nations Ave. cor. Ma. Orosa St., Ermita, Manila
Tel. 526-1212 local 2317
Open 11 a.m. - 2 a.m. daily
The lowdown: Manila Pavilion’s Boulvar prides itself in the large plasma TVs that broadcast sports channels from all around the world. But it doesn’t end there as they complement the heart-pumping action with the bar's homey ambience and fusion cuisine. Like some of the sports bars mentioned here, Boulvar also showcases local musical talents to provide added entertainment.
Must order: Pizzas, prices start at P265
8. Howzat Sports Bar
Address: 8471 Kalayaan Ave. corner Fermina St., Makati City
Open 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily
The lowdown: Howzat took its name from the cricket term, "How’s that?" But one need not have a high cricket IQ to be familiar with this bar’s offering: live sporting events shows on widescreen TVs, and then some. What makes Howzat stand out from other sports bars, though, are the deli products they have on sale, coupled with the rustic feel of the interior and soft rock music by the likes of Rod Stewart, Al Green, even the Velvet Underground. Oh, and did we mention they sell more than twenty brands of beer and offer lunch buffets? (P495 on Sundays from 12 noon to 3 p.m.)
Must order: Rib-Eye Steak, P450; Grilled Norwegian Salmon, P320; Tandoori Chicken, P350
Address: G/F Citiland III Building, V.A. Rufino corner Esteban Sts., Legaspi Village, Makati City
Tel. 894-1884, 813-1378
Open 10 a.m. to 1 a.m (Monday to Saturday), 12 NN-12MN (Sunday)
The lowdown: Relatively far from the hustle and bustle of Makati’s red light district is Murphy’s, one of the few authentic Irish pubs in the country. The pub serves a wide range of imported Irish beers, whiskies and stouts as well as a variety of Irish chow. Other than the major sports events shown on their widescreen TVs, live band music and weekly quiz night draw their regulars in. Add to that the quaint, part open-air, part-airconditioned atmosphere that Murphy’s fans have come to love.
Must-order: Murphy’s Pies, P195 to P295; Bangers and Mash (pork or beef sausage with Irish-style mashed potatoes), P385; Traditional Irish Lamb stew P395
10. The Sports Bar
Address: Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, CCP Complex Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City
Tel. 551-5555, 551-5610
The Lowdown: Sure, Sofitel Philippine Plaza maybe more known for its buffet dining haven, Spiral. But for sports enthusiasts, The Sports Bar, is a spot to cool down or sweat it out a most filling meal. The bar has pool tables and serves a host of pica-picas and drinks, but there are also chocolates and pastries to make the whole experience much sweeter.
Must order: Crispy Pata, P909+
Photographs from waterfronthotels.com.ph (Boulvar Sports and Music Bar), howzat.ph, marriott.com, gem (National Sports Grill interiors), handlebar.com.ph, 121’s Facebook account, discoverysuites.com, heckleandjeckle.org, murphysmakati.com, sofitel.com.