Best Twin Cities bars and restaurants for watching football

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The Bloody bar at Maple Tavern features a large and unique variety of ways to amp up your drink.

The Vikings are in the playoffs. It’s been a few years since we could utter those words, so fans not lucky enough to be at the stadium will be glued to television screens for most of the day — and with temperatures predicted to dip into negative numbers, a comfy chair in your favorite sports bar just might be more coveted than 20-yard-line seats.

You’ll enjoy the same camaraderie, but you’ll also have better food — and your beer won’t freeze in its cup.

Pregame coverage starts at 10:30 a.m., with kickoff at 12:05 p.m., so we’ve rounded up a list of places where you can enjoy breakfast, snacks, and roll into lunch and even dinner if you stick around to watch the Packers game. And while sports venues are not typically famed for their food, our choices feature above average bar fare.

The Vikes haven’t won a playoff game since 2010, and all these places have great beer lists — as well as full bars — in case you need to drown your sorrows.

Minneapolis

Iron Door Pub

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You know the huge bar at Tamarack Tap Room will be full on game day.

At Uptown’s newest sports bar, Iron Door, there’s no breakfast menu, but there are a few things that could make a good start to your day. There’s a BLT, and a burger with an egg on it (egg = breakfast, right?). Or how about a Scotch Egg? A hard-boiled egg, wrapped in chicken sausage and deep fried. Breakfast of champions.

The space is open and airy, with windows facing both Lake Street and Lyndale, so if you get bored watching the game, you can watch the miserable pedestrians scurrying by in the cold. The bar opens at 10 a.m. Come early to snag a seat and take advantage of the $3.50 Miller Lite taps and $4 Surly Hell taps (both 20 ounces). The bar features 24 tap beers, and if you stick around, the regular happy hour specials start at 3 p.m.

Not a breakfast person? Ease into the game with your favorite appetizer. The queso fundito is a comforting bowl of three cheeses, with either chorizo or black beans, and tortilla chips to scoop it up. Or try the cayenne-dusted pork rinds. As lunch rolls around, go for the Cuban sandwich, a meaty concoction of ham, bacon, pork shoulder, pickles, and mustard; or opt for the Philly steak sandwich with grilled peppers and onions, topped with nacho cheese.

Rail Station

Breakfast starts at 8 a.m. at this Longfellow neighborhood spot, so you can begin your pregame routine bright and early. With 40 beers on tap, you’ll need some time to work your way through the list. Get something hearty into your tummy to prepare for the beer to come. Biscuits and gravy provide the starch and fat to soak up the booze. Watching your delicate figure? Then the carb counter breakfast is for you: three eggs, three strips of bacon, and three sausage links will provide your week’s worth of nitrates — but hardly any carbs.

There’s a long list of appetizers to see you through until lunch or dinner, including truffle fries, of all things. Eat them alongside the Nordeast Brussels sprouts with blue cheese crumbles, Nordeast beer, and a balsamic glaze; the healthy Brussels sprouts will make you feel like you deserve the fries.

All apps are $2 off during the game, and you can save even more cash by taking advantage of the game special of $2 Miller Lite taps, in case you lose that big bet you made on the Vikings. For lunch challenge your friends to see who can finish the fiery Baja burger with the fewest chugs of beer. The spicy sandwich is loaded with jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle mayo. Looking for something more substantial? Take on the prime rib stacker, 10 ounces of prime rib on toasted marble rye with garlic mashed potatoes, onion haystack, and BBQ jus.

St. Paul

Rival House Sporting Parlour

Rival House in downtown St. Paul has Sunday brunch starting at 11 a.m. with options like chorizo deviled eggs; and breakfast pizza with scrambled eggs, bacon, colby jack, cherry tomatoes, chipotle aioli, and avocado swirl, as well as more expected options like a salmon Benedict. If you want your day to be all booze, all the time, you can start with the beer French toast with stout, marble rye, and bourbon-maple syrup.

The bar has more than 20 beers on tap and almost as many TVs. Settle in for the day with appetizers like a loaded potatoes skillet with bacon, cheddar, and scallions topped with buttermilk dressing or housemade chips with Carolina pimento spread. At Rival House, they’re all about the pizza, so you can’t go wrong with a pie from their wood-fired oven. Go for their house special, The Rival, a winning combination of chorizo, Genoa salami, pepperoncini, and mozzarella. Sandwiches, including a Cuban Reuben and plenty of burger options, round out the lunch menu. Happy hour starts at 4 p.m., with reduced prices on selected appetizers and pizzas.

North Metro

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Burgers are a game day staple, and the Texas burger with crispy and fresh jalapeños will sober you right up.

Maple Tavern

Maple Tavern in Osseo is owned by Jester Concepts, the guys behind Monello, Coup d’Etat, and Parlour Bar, among other high profile restaurants, so you know they take their food seriously. They also take their sports seriously, and you’ll find plenty of kindred spirits at this friendly outpost. They open at 10 a.m. on Sunday; if you’re smart, you’ll take advantage of their bloody Mary bar to kick off the day. The fixings include house-infused vodkas, a variety of mixers, and more garnishes than you’ll be able to fit into one glass, from meat sticks to jalapeno poppers. Pair your drink with one of their hearty breakfasts like biscuits and gravy or their breakfast burrito.

Once you’re done with your bloody Mary, you can switch over to the special drink of the day, $1 grape apes, a color-appropriate, definitely intoxicating mix of Citroen vodka, grape Pucker, sour mix, and Sprite. The bar will also feature $2 bottles of beer as well as $2 call and rail drinks.

When you start feeling peckish (again), check out the appetizers, like the tavern chips and dip, housemade kettle chips served with a basil-parmesan dipping sauce. Or go south of the border with the barbacoa chalupas, crispy fried mini tortilla chips loaded with slow braised beef barbacoa, black beans, pickled jalapenos, pico de gallo, and chile sauce.

For lunch, there are plenty of burger choices. Try the decadent half and half, a mix of beef and bacon topped with American cheese, red onion, pickles, and black pepper-bacon aioli on a caramelized onion bun. There’s also a tasty black bean-wild rice vegetarian burger with cheddar cheese, cucumber, carrot, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and spicy mayo. Pastas and dinner entrees are served starting at 3 p.m. If you stick around to watch the Packers, try the homey stuffed meatloaf, or the mac and cheese with bacon and an herbed parmesan crust.

West Metro

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The walleye, wild rice Benedict is a good way to kick off your game day eating (and drinking).

Birch's on the Lake Brewhouse and Supperclub

The recently opened Birch’s in Wayzata might be the classiest place on this list. The vibe is supper club meets country club, in an unpretentious way. Take a table in the main level brewhouse, which opens at 10 a.m. on Sundays, so you can get a big breakfast before the big game.

Get something fancy like the challah French toast with bourbon flamed bananas, whipped cream, and maple glazed pecans to start the day as you sit back and take in the view of Long Lake out the large windows (don’t worry, there are also plenty of TVs). Another more savory breakfast choice is the Minnesota fish board, featuring smoked and cured seafood with crackers, chive cream cheese, and pickles. It’s the Land of 10,000 Lakes version of a bagel and lox. From Birch’s onsite brewery, their coffee chocolate golden ale could be considered a breakfast drink. Couldn’t it?

Ease into the afternoon with apps including crab hot dish with truffled cheese sauce and grilled bread, or try the meat board, a selection of sausages, pickled onions, and mustard. When dinner rolls around, if you’re still hungry, try the buckhorn fried chicken, either Birch’s traditional or the flaming Nashville hot. If the game gets boring, and you’re the hardy type, head outside to the ice bar and try one of the specialty vodka drinks. Happy hour goes from 2 p.m.–6 p.m., with $3 craft beers, $4 house wines, half price wings and tacos, and $4 Birch burgers.

East Metro

Tamarack Tap Room

Tamarack Tap Room in Woodbury boasts a beer list that covers an entire page of the menu, not to mention an impressive list of bourbons. And they’re featuring all-day happy hour on Sunday!

That means reduced prices on many of their appetizers, $2 off all 72 draft beers, $1 off selected vodkas, gins, and other hard stuff, and $3 glasses of wine. The restaurant opens at 11 a.m. on Sundays, but doesn’t serve breakfast, so go ahead and start your morning with the PB & J Burger. In addition to the meat patty, its got all the breakfast ingredients covered, including creamy peanut butter, applewood smoked bacon, and strawberry jelly. Or pick something off the small plates side. Think of the loaded tater tots as a version of hash browns, with bacon-fontina sauce, bacon, cilantro sour cream, and chives.

As your day and hunger progress, you can check out the rest of the small plates — aka apps — like beer-battered cheese curds or the giant pretzel (they’re not kidding, this baby needs an entire dinner plate to hold it) with beer mustard and bacon-fontina sauce. Lest you think there’s beer in everything here, head over to the sandwich selection and try the Muffaletta with mortadella, turkey, pepperoni, provolone, and olive tapenade, or go for the short rib mac 'n cheese with four cheeses and wild mushrooms mixed in with the short ribs.


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