DeRusha's 8 Best Twin Cities Sports Bars

Why watch the game over food you don’t love? Food critic Jason DeRusha lists eight of the top sports bars in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

We are in the middle of March Madness, and whether you’re into college basketball, baseball, football, or basketball—we’ve picked eight of the best Twin Cities sports bars that feature a great environment to watch a game, plus great food.

Mac’s Industrial: Shockingly good food at Mac’s Industrial, just over the Third Avenue bridge in the St. Anthony Main area. Chicken fingers are rated 10/10 (or 10/tendies) by my 10-year-old, Sam. The Szechuan Brussels sprouts let you pretend you’re eating healthy. Great brisket-style Reuben sandwich, too.

Bunny’s: Bunny’s has a Northeast Minneapolis spot now, but I’m all about the St. Louis Park location. Solid wings, nachos, surprisingly good pizza, and a delightful French Dip sandwich, too. Is there free popcorn? Yes, there’s free popcorn.

Grumpy’s: You can visit Grumpy’s in Roseville and in Northeast Minneapolis, but it’s the downtown spot that captures my heart. Three pool tables, 18 tap beers, and those legendary tater tots. Don’t miss the beer-cheese soup and the kimchi mock-duck banh mi!

Shamrock’s: It’s the same menu the Nook offers in St. Paul, without the long line to get in. Shamrock’s seats 175, has TVs everywhere, and the food is fantastic. You can have your wings sauced or dry rub, or get the Irish Fries with corned beef, kraut, and Swiss Cheese—but you’re obviously going to have a Juicy Nookie or a stuffed burger named after Twins manager Paul Molitor. The fries are among the best in town.

Stub & Herbs: Some of the best craft beer prices in town (Bent Paddle for $4.50(!), with most everything else on this very Minnesota-focused list $5-$6), plus $1 off during happy hour 3-7 p.m. Stub & Herbs has been around since 1939. Solid food—the burgers are all hand-pattied, and they do a year-round fish and chips with Schell’s beer-battered cod. You’re right by the Gophers’ football, hockey, and hoops stadiums. Stub & Herbs is a classic.

City Works: City Works is new—and feels like it! In the shadow of Target Center, they have 90 craft beers on tap, and they always reserve ¼ of the lineup for local stuff. This place is huge, the TVs are awesome and everywhere, and the cuisine is all elevated bar food. Pretzel bites have a Lagunitas IPA Gouda cheese sauce, and there’s a jumbo lump crab fondue and filet mignon sliders.

HopCat: So. Many. Taps. Eighty taps at HopCat in Minneapolis, with a phenomenal craft beer lineup. Their Crack Fries are legendary: beer batter on the fries, “crack” standing for cracked pepper seasoning (addictive, too), and served with a side of cheese sauce for dipping. Get them loaded with bacon, red onion, and pickled jalepeños alongside a grilled cheese sandwich (dill Havarti, smoked gouda, and muenster), and call your cardiologist.

Peppers and Fries: Steve Frias (also known as “Fries”) grew up in the restaurant business: His parents ran Boca Chica in St. Paul, which is why Peppers & Fries has killer burritos. But Steve and his daughter are obsessed with burgers. Get the COLT—cheese, onion, lettuce, and tomato—and watch the game on one of their 16 TVs.

Half Time Rec: You first saw Half Time Rec in the movie Grumpy Old Men. Now you can watch the game there while enjoying great food in the “Paddy Shack.” Very nice curry dry rub on the wings, green chile pesto on the beer cheese fries. The Cork hot dog is topped with mac and cheese, and I love their corned beef sandwich and their fish and chips.