Fall is right around the corner, and with it comes another wonderful season of football. If you’re like me, you’ve already screwed up a couple fantasy drafts, made a couple ill-advised side bets with other team owners, and have talked so much shit about your favorite team that your friends no longer respond your texts. With those foolish and completely necessary steps out of the way, the only thing left to do is decide where to watch the games.
The Fat Man is too cheap to buy cable, and far too obnoxious to get invited to anyone’s house, so I’m usually left looking for a bar where I can watch my team play. While Santa Fe isn’t known for its sports bars, here are a couple options for your viewing pleasure:
Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar 3501 Zafarano Drive, 471-3353 Buffalo Wild Wings, located on the south side of town, is the city’s newest sports bar. For those unfamiliar with the national chain, BWW is a Thunderdome of fried chicken parts and television screens (the Santa Fe location has 60 of them). You’re either going to love or hate this place; BWW is so over the top, there’s no middle ground. The staff is super friendly and attentive, and the signature wings aren’t half bad. There are 16 different wing sauces to choose from, and the bar has 30 beers on tap—including a few local varieties from Marble and Santa Fe Brewing Co. The bar has the Sunday Ticket, which means almost all the weekend’s games are televised—good news for you college football fans.
However, with 60 televisions blaring football games and trivia, BWW is an intense and exhausting viewing experience that’s similar to spending a few hours in a reverse panopticon conjured from some sort of dystopic, cyberpunk wet dream.
Junction 530 Guadalupe St., 988-7222 Junction is the latest incarnation of the Catamount Bar & Grille, except this time, it’s more a sports bar and less a pool hall. When it opened a couple years ago in the Railyard, Junction filled a major hole in Santa Fe’s sports bar scene, and it remains one the better options in town. There’s a solid number of flat-screen TVs along the bar and in the billiards room, and most tables and booths have a decent view of the game. The food is good, the portions are generous, and the prices are reasonable. Junction has around a dozen beers on tap, including a number of SF Brewing varieties, as well as a nice selection of bottled beers and signature cocktails. Service tends to drag when the bar is full, but stiff drinks make up for the longer waits. Junction also has the Sunday Ticket, and is a popular spot for the Cowboys and Broncos faithful. It doesn’t show any pay-per-view events.
Blue Corn Café & Brewery Downtown: 133 Water St., 984-1800 Southside: 4056 Cerrillos Road, 438-1800
Blue Corn’s the place to be on the southside for game day. It has seven TVs (instead of 60), allowing for a few different games to be on simultaneously, without the cacophony of whiz-bangs and zap-dings plaguing the contemporary American football broadcast. (Who’s the genius who came up with Cleatus, the Fox Sports Robot anyway?) The vibe is more family oriented than some of the other bars in this rundown, and might not be suitable for the lunatics and Raiders fans among us.
The downtown location has a slightly younger feel, if for no other reason than that it’s downtown. Both locales serve pretty standard fare for these parts, and the food is consistently solid and reasonably priced. Blue Corn only serves its own beer on tap (plus Coors Light and Corona in bottles), and while some of its beers are tasty, I like to have the option to sample beers from multiple breweries. Both locations have the Sunday Ticket, but the limited number of televisions prevents them from airing all available games. Call ahead.
Thunderbird Bar and Grill 50 Lincoln Ave., 490-6550 Thunderbird, located at the corner of Lincoln and San Francisco in the old Ore House spot, is my choice for watching the games downtown. I really enjoyed watching Lobo basketball games here in the spring. The setup is similar to Junction and Blue Corn—a bank of flat screens above and alongside the bar. Thunderbird serves typical bar fare (sliders, wings, nachos), as well as salads and entrees. The food isn’t quite as good as Junction, but the service is usually outstanding, and the draught beer selection is stellar—including pours from La Cumbre (Albuquerque) and Lagunitas (Petaluma). The bartenders also mix a mean Bloody Mary, which is good for fans who had a little to much fun the night before the game.
It fills up quickly, so large groups should arrive early for choice seats. Thunderbird also has a great patio overlooking the Plaza, but it’s nearly impossible to watch the games from outside. It also has the Sunday Ticket, but the number of TVs is a limiting factor here as well. Sorry fight fans, Thunderbird doesn’t air pay-per-view events either.