The countdown is over, football fans. With an abundance of sports bar options in Austin, sometimes picking a spot to watch your team is the toughest decision to make on a Sunday. To help, we've rounded up the top places in town to grab a brew and a bite and watch the big game. The following bars are going all out all season long to help you through the next five glorious months of pigskins, colliding pads, touchdowns, tradition, heated rivalries, and ice-cold beer, dammit.
Black Sheep Lodge
Location: South Lamar
Why go: If the fried cheese curds don't grab your attention, we're not sure what will. But Black Sheep isn’t just for cheeseheads. With one of the best bar menus in town, 20 big screen TVs, and a dog-friendly sports-watching patio, this South Austin neighborhood destination is a must for football season. Black Sheep is locally owned and operated with over 50 beer offerings. During half time, keep the entertainment alive with a game of pool, shuffleboard, or darts and enjoy Sundays specials of $2 off pitchers, $3 sangrias, and $3 Bloody Marys.
Why go: The Tavern has been a local favorite for a very long time. In fact, it originally opened in 1916 as a grocery store before transforming into a restaurant in 1929. The story goes that the upstairs of The Tavern (where football fans gather every Sunday) was once a speakeasy and brothel, and a former employee still haunts the building. But the past is the past, and what you need to know about The Tavern in 2015 is that it boasts 46 TV screens meaning there's a 100 percent guarantee your game will be showing. As they like to say, "If there's a game, it's on at The Tavern." The food menu is also stellar and the bar is dog friendly.
Location: Rainey Street
Why go: For those of you who love yelling at your TV and uninhibitedly voicing frustration over a ref's call or quarterback's play, this is the place to be. It gets boisterous, it gets loud, and it's built for the rowdiest of rowdy football fans. Bar 96 has it all for the ultimate sports enthusiast: 17 TVs, tacos from food truck Bomb Tacos, and a massive wraparound patio, as well as games galore, like cornhole and ring toss, helping to satisfy your competitive nature.
Recess Arcade Bar
Why go: Recess is a great game-watching hangout on Dirty Sixth, but make sure to keep your eyes on the prize (your team needs you after all) and refrain from playing the multitude of arcade games surrounding the central bartop as they can be quite the distraction. This chill, dark hideout offers a Sunday Funday with happy hour all day, which includes $1 off everything plus $3 wells and domestics. Before or after the game, indulge in Mortal Kombat, skeeball, pinball, Pac-Man, Golden Tee 2012, or NFL Blitz, to name just a few.
Lavaca Street Bar
Why go: In the heart of downtown, Lavaca Street draws NFL and college fans alike. Watch your team dominate while enjoying the daily happy hour from 3 to 7 pm, which includes $2.50 domestic beers and $3 wells. Additionally, Lavaca Street offers game day specials with $15 domestic buckets of Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light, and on Sundays you can enjoy a $2 mimosa (or four). But even better than the prime viewing action and deals, Lavaca Street is home to Turf N Surf Po' Boy, the best place — hands down — to enjoy this New Orleanian staple. There are also arcade games. Need we say more?
Why go: Whether you're in school or graduated decades ago, a visit to Posse East feels like one giant college tailgate. Open since 1971, Posse East is a fundamental part of the campus-area fabric and is the perfect place to see your team to victory. With plenty of outdoor seating, enjoy an all-day Sunday happy hour with $2.50 pints, $9.25 pitchers, $3 nachos, and $6 wings.
Location: Manor Road
Why go: While Haymaker may claim they're "not a sports bar," let's get real — it’s on our list for a reason. With huge screens inside and out, the friendly staff is always willing to accommodate your preferred NFL game, and the family-style tables allow football fanatics to pack in every Thursday night, Sunday, and Monday night. Featuring Midwest- and Northeast-inspired fare such as brats and poutine, Haymaker also serves up a Sunday treat offering $2 off all pitchers, $2 mimosas, and $3 bloody marys and sangrias. If you get bored (but how could you?) there's always the shuffleboard table and darts in case you feel like jumping into your own game.
Location: Anderson Lane
Why go: This adult playground is a mecca for sports fans. The restaurant and bar is always 18 and over (21 and up after 9 pm) and has screens in every possible nook and cranny. The Goodnight's eight vintage bowling lanes (repurposed from the old Highball) have big screen TVs so you can watch the game and bowl at the same time. It's a dream come true for any child at heart, also offering karaoke, shuffleboard, two ping pong tables, and billiards.
Delaney's Ice House
Location: North Austin
Why go: Delaney's is off the beaten path and scores points with us due to its friendly service and options to watch sports indoors or outdoors. There's cheap eats and drinks, making it a preferred neighborhood haunt for the laid-back Austinite.
Doc's Bar & Grill
Location: South Congress
Why go: While the South Congress Motorworks location is our favorite out of the three options, Doc's also has locations on West 38th Street and Brodie Lane. The game is always playing on one of their many big-screened TVs, and Sunday deals include $2.75 drafts, $11 pitchers of Miller Lite and Coors Light, and $3 mimosas. Doc's tends to get packed, so play some defense and get there ahead of your game to secure an ideal sideline seat.
Pluckers Wing Bar
Why go: Nothing says football quite like buffalo-battered wings and a side of ranch dressing. The original campus location, opened by two UT Longhorns, is our chosen spot, but the Lakeline, Research Boulevard, Round Rock, and South Lamar Boulevard are also great backup locations for football hangin' and wing slangin'. Sunday offers $1 off all Pluckers cocktails, so come out and see why ESPN voted this wing joint one of the Top 5 Sports Bars in North America.
That wraps up our first round of draft picks for top sports bars to visit this football season. However, if we were to draft a second round, these would undoubtedly fill the slots: Score, Little Woodrow's, Gourmands, Gibson Street Bar, The Local Pub & Patio, Aussie's Grill & Beach Bar, Cover 3, Scholz Garten, The Park, and Draft Pick.