With the NBA draft quickly approaching, On the Menu thought it would be appropriate to review some of the best sports bars in Santa Barbara. Stocked with high-def, plasma screen televisions and stuffed with fanatical sports enthusiasts, these joints provide the perfect environment to watch the Gauchos dominate the soccer field or DeMar DeRozan get drafted by the Suns – Kobe-Shaq drama repeat, anyone?
Downtown Brewing Company
3744 State St., Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 682-7803
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day
Downtown Brewing Company has it all – a bar for drinking and sports enthusiasts, tables for diners, and a comfy couch section for people who just want to hang out in a fun environment.
Students especially are in for a treat: The place has amazing deals on food and drinks. Thursdays get 20 percent off appetizers, Monday nights get $1 tacos and $2 margaritas, Sunday nights get ribs for 50 cents a piece; the list goes on and on. In addition to the deals, the environment is welcoming for young people as well. Manager and fellow UCSB student Jeff Harwood agrees.
“We get a lot of students, our highlight is Tuesday nights. We have beer pong pick up games,” Harwood said. “We get a lot of students dressed up in costumes, it’s really fun.”
Tuesdays are also pint nights, where you pay only $2 for a house brew. And this isn’t just any beer; Downtown Brewing boasts award-winning ales and lagers. Add to this hearty pub fare like steak, ribs and wings, as well as healthy options like the tri-tip salad, made with tri-tip steak, mixed greens, jicama, black beans, corn, cheddar cheese and crispy tortilla chips, and you have a perfect combination.
“The best thing on the menu is our burgers and our pizzas,” Harwood said.
One such burger, the BBQ Bacon Cheddar Onion Ring Burger, is a customer favorite whose name leaves nothing to the imagination: It’s a ground beef patty topped with cheddar cheese and one of the restaurant’s huge onion rings.
Frequent customers go back for the hearty appetizers, including mozzarella sticks, jalapeño poppers and quesadillas. The potato skins – a customer favorite – are smothered in cheese, bacon and green onions and served with a big side of sour cream.
Head down to Downtown Brewing Company from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day if you’re in the mood for cheap and delicious food and drinks, if you want to hang out and root for your team, or if you just want to play some good ole old-fashioned beer pong.
Santa Barbara Brewing Company
501 State St., Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 730-1040
Hours: 12 p.m. to midnight everyday
The Santa Barbara Brewing Company has been around since 1995, and has since expanded to include two large, full bars and seating for over 300 people. But don’t be intimidated by the size: The place is frequented mainly by students and locals, all of whom just want to watch sports with other like-minded individuals. And there’s no chance you’ll miss out on the game you’re looking for.
“We show all the major sporting events,” Manager John Downey said.
With HD and plasma TVs lining the walls, it’s easy to relax with a specialty microbrew and enjoy the game. You can also be a sportsperson yourself with the bar’s multiple pool tables.
While some sports bars put their food on the back burner, relying on merely satisfactory portions and taste, Santa Barbara Brewing keeps its food at the backbone of its business.
Each dish is designed to perfectly complement the many beers the restaurant carries, but can always be enjoyed alone as well.
“The Santa Barbara burgers are pretty popular, fish ‘n’ chips is [too],” Downey said.
The aforementioned fish is made of chunks of halibut bought fresh and lightly fried in the restaurant’s own Rincon Red Ale batter until golden and crispy. Sides of homemade coleslaw and Brewery garlic fries complete the dish. For dinner try the seafood pasta, made with salmon, halibut, Langostino lobster, tomatoes, capers, basil, lemon juice and white wine and served with Brewery garlic bread. This is definitely not your typical bar food.
However, the restaurant stays true to its nature and serves up a mean house brew as well. They use only the finest ingredients, which is probably why it has a reputation for having the freshest microbrews around. The raw ingredients are hand picked and the equipment used to process it is cutting edge. Two to three specialty brews are usually available throughout the year, as well as the tangy Pacific Pale Ale, the crisp Santa Barbara Blonde, the refreshing Gold Coast Wheat, the rich Rincon Red, the malty Old Town Nut Brown Ale and the intensely dark State Street Stout.
Go in for happy hour Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. and get pints for $2.75 and pitchers for $10, along with other deals perfect for the struggling student.
229 W. Montecito St., Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 884-4664
Hours: 11a.m. to midnight everyday
The Brewhouse specializes in more than just one type of entertainment. While sports are always playing on the multiple TVs throughout the place, there is also live entertainment Wednesday through Saturday, lending the restaurant a comfortable, casual environment. But the real focus here is on the fare.
“Our happy hour is unbelievable,” the owner said. “We make the best beer in the state. Actually, we make the best beer in the United States.”
The said beer is handcrafted on the premises in small batches, ensuring that it is as fresh as possible. The Montecito Street Wheat, with hints of banana and cloves; the Harry Porter, with a complex chocolate malt flavor and the Saint Barb’s Triple, with citrus and honey flavors, are just a few options the restaurant offers.
To top it off, the Brewhouse’s happy hour runs from 4 to 6 p.m. daily and features $2.50 pints and $9 pitchers. But there’s no way you’ll be able to order just a drink after seeing, or smelling, the food the restaurant offers.
“The Brewhouse Burger, fries and a beer for under $10 is the best value for lunch,” the owner said. “We do breakfast now on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 to 11 and it is crazy good. We got corn beef hash, we got Monte Cristos, we got French toast, we got omelets, we got scrambles.”
Special accommodations are easily made for customers; smokers can go outside on the patio and large parties can have the brewery room all to themselves.
Head down to the Brewhouse from 11 a.m. to midnight and experience the place locals are raving about. You’ll see why they’re making such a fuss.