Category Archives: Events

6 more Sports Bars for March Madness on Thirsty Thursdays

Shanghai Kellys – San Francisco

Shanghai Kellys Facebook page

Ok, it’s a Dive Bar, CAPITAL “D”, but a great and cozy sports bar too. Imagine this – You’re a sailor on shore leave in 1855 to 1870’s. You are invited to a big free party on a paddlewheel steamer, named the “Goliah”, by local Nautical rascal and Bon Vivant – Shanghai Kelly . So you and 90 others show up for free booze and food. While you are singing bawdy ballads and sloshing around a bottle of party booze with a chicken drumstick in your hand, when suddenly you suffer a ‘black out’, due to the drugged party drinks. You wake up on another ship with a new captain and a new destination heading away from a ever distant Golden Gate….

Well that’s part of the legend of Shanghai Kelly’s in San Francisco.

They don’t drug the drinks there any more, but they are heavy handed with the pour and and they have lots of discount drink specials. If you go during Football season they are heavy on the Steelers fans and of course the 49ers. They serve food, a cut above dive bar food.

Take a cab and then dive in!


Legends Sports Bar – Long Beach, CA

Legends Long Beach website

They call themselves the “First Modern Sports Bar in America” and they may well have been one of the first of what is now a dying breed. I say that because the Sports bar chains make it hard for an independent to open and build a crowd to sustain a long run with sports as the main attraction. With the Commercial satellite subscriptions rising with each sports player contract negotiation and the relative modest residential fees coupled with the usual near impossibility of running a successful Food & Beverage business, heavy on the alcohol and its liabilities and extreme drunk driving laws.

But back to Legends: Great layout, better than average food, tremendous memorabilia, it’s party central for many major events, they have a great in house events calendar including comedy nights and Miss Grand Prix contests, and have a very loyal following for many different teams and niche sports. It was started in 1979 by Dennis Harrah, former LA Rams (remember the FIRST time the Rams were in LA?) and local businessman John Morris. It is still a great place to roll into while rambling around Long Beach business district and the range of memorabilia goes from rare to outrageous including Bobby Rahal 2001 Indy Car!


Padre Murphys – Phoenix

Padre Murphys Phoenix website

“Go and Sin No More!” is their motto!

They are an institution in north Phoenix that opened in 1992. Currently with 56 beers on tap, Daily Food Specials, OTB Horse and Dog racing, PPV events, Special menus for St. Pats/ Easter, etc. Part neighborhood bar, part Irish Pub, part OTB Parlor, part super sports bar, really a unique place that strives to keep up with the times and competition. They always seem busy, food is chef driven and a cut above, but it is still very comfortable during the slow times, when you can peruse their memorabilia or bet a race.


Lefty O’Douls – San Francisco

Lefty O’Douls San Francisco website

Opened in 1958, this place has been though many phases and reincarnations over the years, but continues to be a unique and enjoyable place to visit.   Named after Lefty O’Doul a former New York Giant (Baseball!) who was born in San Francisco and batted .398 in 1929 and was a 2 time batting champion of the NL. He is credited with starting the Major League Player tours across the Pacific to Japan and in his career also managed the San Francisco Seals baseball team. Blessed with a friendly outgoing manner, he led a colorful life and was friends with most all the Baseball and Hollywood stars of his era which he invited to his bar & restaurant Lefty’s.

They’re renowned for their Corned Beef and with good reason – it’s delicious. They have an extensive menu and are a popular spot near Union Square for tourists and business crowd. They have a cocktail lounge and piano bar, and not anything like the new cookie cutter sports bars you see in suburbia. They do have enough TV’s to watch the game of choice, but is really cool just to hang out. This place reeks of good times and tall tales. I recommend you go in and eat some of their Corned Beef and then hang out with the locals and get your drink on, you will hear some memorable stories and meet some new friends.


Two Honorable Mentions, if for no other reason, their names:

Bub’s @ the Ballpark – San Diego, CA

Opened 1996 “Another Man’s Stupid Idea of Fun”

Bub’s at the Ballpark, San Diego, CA website

Lumpy’s – Salt Lake City, UT

Current Downtown location opened in 2005 – A 3 story Fun House in Salt Lake City

Lumpy’s Salt Lake City, UT website


March Madness – Great Sports Bars where they have something Extra

Great Places for Sports Fans that offer a little extra:

(Not including inside casinos or in Chicago, Boston or New York City)

Five listed this week, and Five more next week:

FX McRory’s – Seattle, Washington. This building dates back to 1906, and originally housed Seattle’s largest Wholesale Whisky business, conveniently located next door to “Madame Damnable’s brothel.   It was then used for McKesson-Robbins drug manufacturing from 1929 to 1977, when it became FX McCrory’s.

The present day owner, and original partner won sole ownership of FX McCory’s in a coin flip off the Seattle Space Needle! The main bar features a LeRoy Neiman masterpiece of a FX McRory’s crowded bar scene, valued at $100,000.

FX McRory’s has over 1600 liquors and bartenders scamper up and down ladders retrieving bottles as part of their Mixologist skill set. Since 1977 they claim to have also expertly poured over 1,000,000 pints. It is quite a scene when the place is bustling, almost like being on a crowded vessel with crew scrambling up, down and around the room from practiced memory.

They are really a one of a kind place, and have great food on an extensive menu.  Most impressive is they always seem to serve oysters from all over the world. Last time I visited I was handed an Oyster menu featuring 8 types from all over the worlds available catches, including local.

FX McRorys Website

Silky O’Sullivans – Memphis, TN – Silky’s has been around in Memphis since the early 70’s, and boast that Silky’s is like S. Patricks day all year round, and they seem really happy about the situation. (not sure everyone would agree, as the lead singer for Flogging Molly once told me, while shakily holding an empty coffee cup looking for a fill, after waking up at midday: “Being in the band is like St. Patrick’s Day 3 hundred and Sixty Five F**king days a year!” He didn’t seem that happy about it, although after a shot of coffee and some Bushmills Irish Whiskey he did seem to be warming up to the task!)… But I digress…. Silky’s is currently on Beale Street (since 1992), housed in a location over 100 years old, a former saloon with poker and race horse room.

Silky was a great promoter, a gracious host, real Bar Business Royalty, and though he has moved on to the great green beer and Guinness soaked Drink Bucket sharing party in the sky, they still continue his Beale Street location tradition of having live goats in their courtyard pen with slide and Goat House, as their pets/mascots.

This is just a great place to watch sports and people watching sports, with live entertainment, ranging from Barbara Blue, an internationally acclaimed Blues Singer (she knows all the College fight songs too!) and also “Dueling Pianos”. You can dance, wiggle, scream and shout – go get a dozen oysters on the half shell, slosh it down with The Diver – a gallon of “Southern Fun” that has put more than just Sailors on their ass.  Oh yeah you can watch sports on TV if you are not too distracted.

Located across the street from FEDEX Forum it is the epicenter of pre and post game celebration for sports and entertainment held there.

Silky O’Sullivans on Beale Street

Steiners Pub – Las Vegas, NV (3 locations)

This place is a great stop for sports fans.   Steiners features a 24 hour kitchen with really good food at reasonable prices with daily specials, Gambling – with Poker table top machines.– it is 21 & Over only – Only drawback is that it is a SMOKING establishment.

You Must try – the Wellington Lamb Chop appetizer – marinated and grilled – Awesome and is discounted at Happy Hour!

The bartenders are women that maintain a short but quick wit, seasoned with touch of sarcasm and personal experience of hoisting mugs to fill for guests and empty into themselves….

Steiner’s Pub Las Vegas




Mannings – New Orleans, LA

Manning’s is not in a Casino, but next door to Harrah’s, across an alley/courtyard, usually filled with heavy partying patrons, both being indigenous to the New Orleans bar and restaurant scene. Manning’s has great Sports Memorabilia from the family and friends careers, and quotes from all 3 brothers, including Cooper!, and Archie on the walls. They have a nice mini stadium area with tiered ledges in front of the largest TV. The main bar windows open to the patio area and it is a fun place to amble around, beverage in hand and see how the different groups of partiers are doing. Above average Cajun and Creole twist on bar food, they sure do let the good times roll at Manning’s. And then you can dip into Harrah’s usual Casino vortex. Oh yeah, if you are lucky you might see Archie when he is around town.

Manning’s in New Orleans


Alice Cooperstown – Phoenix, AZ – They say “Where Jocks and Rock meet”

Located downtown Phoenix, across from where the Phoenix Suns play and down the street from where the Diamondbacks play, it is a pretty interesting place. Unfortunately it does not have the neighborhood component that makes a lot of Sports fan hang outs great, but it does rate a visit. The sheer amount of rare and unusual Sports AND Rock N Roll memorabilia under one roof makes for great wandering around inside with a brew. There is a unique outdoor concert & stage area that is perfect for an intimate show.

They say they are a BBQ restaurant, but being from Memphis, I have a hard time taking them seriously on this account. However, the food is usually pretty good and they feature “The Big Unit” named after Randy Johnson – a One pound, 22 inch Hot Dog, served on a full baguette! Usually served with a lot of commotion from the staff and bug eyed guests.

Definitely a place to check off your list if you are ever in Phoenix for a Diamondbacks or Suns game.


For The Food Life’s “13 Lucky Pubs” on St. Patrick’s Day

FOR THE FOOD LIFE’S “Lucky 13” Favorite Irish Pubs

– Outside Boston, Chicago, South Bend, or NYC area.

CRITERIA: No prefab pop up template ‘Irish Pubs’

MUST HAVE: 10+ year history.

BONUS POINTS: It’s In a former residence, It’s in a neighborhood, It has a “Supernatural” component, It has a legendary Irish Pub Legend as part of its folklore.

Murphy’s Memphis, TN

Category – Glorious Dive & Neighborhood Hang Out

Murphy’s Midtown Memphis, TN

Originally Opened in late 70’s by Russell George, who named it after his son Murphy. The first motto was “Midtown, Motown, & Monk”. This anthem was displayed in the bar & on Murphy’s T-Shirts, a St. Paddy’s day fashion staple. Murphy’s was originally just a beer bar, with a great jukebox, as Russell always had a great love and insider’s understanding of jukebox Music history, especially the rarities, and later parlayed the expertise into the infamous Ernestine’s and Hazels venture on Main in a historic brothel used to service Beale street musicians and patrons back in its 1st heyday. But the Monk story; well, Monk was a notorious Street Personality usually in Midtown or Crosstown area, who had an intimidating profile with strategic facial protrusions that were highly visible, even under his well worn fluorescent orange hunting cap. He wrapped several dirty coats around his neck on his 4’ frame, and while brandishing his orange candy cane striped cane like a drunken Musketeer, he carried both an aroma of the street as well as the countenance of the old neighbor keeping the kids off his lawn.  He was usually seen waving his cane at passing motorists as he wandered in the streets, or guarding a local bartender/bookies payphone/house phone, keeping patrons away so that incoming bets could be received (anyone remember “Big Daddy’s on Madison, etc.?), in exchange for Hamburgers and Beers. But I digress….


So when Monk died, Russell was at the funeral and strategically tossed a set of Murphy’s keys (according to Russell they were an actual set of Murphy’s Keys, though no one to my knowledge ever dared dig them up to test the proclamation) into the grave as they tossed shovels full of dirt on the casket, promising to the dearly departed Monk for all to hear, “Monk, you’re always welcome at Murphy’s”. And for years Russell kept Monk’s dirty hat and cane behind the bar.


Patrons from those days would hardly recognize the place now, as Murphy’s has had a lot of work done. Full liquor bar, enclosed patio, extended raised east room, etc.. In Murphy’s early St. Patrick’s Days, Russell would remove all furniture and shuffle board game to the alley out back to make room for the overflow crowd that would extend on to Madison Ave. and the small parking lot. The day would start with Russell lifting young Murphy up on the bar, Russell pouring shots to the surrounding crew and all nighters, and then Murphy would bless the Kegs, the shots would be tossed back, and the fun would begin. Gail Stanton, Memphis model and former Playboy Playmate used to make an appearance every year.

I was lucky enough once during Cotton Carnival to share a beer with Archie Manning at Murphys’ as he was being Honored as a Cotton Carnival ambassador in early 80’s. This and other celebrity sightings are proof that Southern royalty will drop in to Murphy’s throughout the years, to rub elbows with the alcohol soaked underbelly of Midtown. ..


Casey Moore’s Oyster House – Tempe, AZ

Category – Collegiate & Neighborhood Hang Out

Casey Moore’s Oyster Bar in Tempe, AZ

Employees swear they have see a “Ghost in the walk in” –  It’s in an Old House @ 9th & Ash, an old neighborhood within walking distance of Arizona State University campus.  Large sprawling outdoor area with picnic tables, lawn bowling, romantic nooks, and benches.


Limerick Junction – Virginia Highlands, Atlanta

Category – Neighborhood drinking hang out

Limerick Junction Atlanta in Virginia Highlands

Irish Olympic Boxing Team = 96



Murphys Pub – Champaign, ILL

Category – Collegiate Hang Out

Open since 1969, right off the Illinois University campus, on Green Street – the main drag.  You may be lucky enough to run into the Fighting Illini Women’s Rugby Club team! Try to go toe to toe with them in a drinking game.)

Twitter link for Murphy’s Champaign, ILL

Facebook link for Murphy’s in Champaign, ILL



McGuire’s Irish Pub – Pensacola, FLA

Category – Tourists and Locals welcome

Open Since 1977, Over One Million Signed Dollar bills on the ceiling, in Pensacola’s original 1927 Firehouse

McGuire’s Irish Pub, Pensacola, FLA



3 Angry Wives Pub, Las Vegas NV. (in West LV area Neighborhood near Summerlin)

Category – Neighborhood Hang out, Open 24 hours a day! Gambling machines.

3 Angry Wives logo features One wife brandishing Meat Cleaver, One with Rolling Pin, and one with a Frothy mug of beer in each hand.

3 Angry Wives Pub, Las Vegas, NV west suburbs



The Shanty – Tuscon, AZ – since 1937!!!!

Category – Neighborhood & Collegiate hang out

“ Unique Experience for the Drinking Enthusiast” – you can find retired professors reading worn poetry books, sports enthusiasts, drinking professionals and students on the 7 year plan hanging out in this amazing place!

The Shanty, Tuscon, AZ


Celtic Crossing –Memphis

Category – Neighborhood Hang Out, Soccer Fan Pub, Entertainment

It is in an Old House that still has stairway in main room.  More on this later in my best Soccer Pubs story in 2 weeks.

Celtic Crossing Midtown Memphis, Cooper Young Distric


Padre Murphys – North Phoenix, AZ

Category – Neighborhood Hang Out, Sports Bar, OTB Parlor

Truth be told, it’s named for an Irish Catholic priest that owner Tom Boyle has known since childhood.  Hence the ANTHEM – “Go and Sin No More”

Padre Murphy’s north Phoenix on Bell Road



Silky O’Sullivans – Beale Street, Memphis, TN

Category – Entertainment, Sports Bar, Tourists and Locals Welcome – Live GOAT!

In heart of Beale Street, across the street from Fedex Forum, in 100 year old building that was even then a sprawling saloon of incredible proportions. Silky Sullivan was founder & owner who had several versions of his Tavern going back to 1973 in Overton Square district. Current location since 1992. More about Silky O’Sullivan’s in the best places to watch March Madness Next week in For The Food Life.

Silky O’Sullivans on Beale Street, Memphis, TN



Seamus McCaffery’s – Downtown Phoenix, AZ

Category – Neighborhood Hang out, Sportsbar, Tourists and Locals welcome

Don’t be fooled, even though the website is impressive to point of overwhelming, just like the junky assemblage of Irish memorabilia and uniform patches behind the bar – It’s Really just a Good old Irish pub

Seamus McCaffreys, Downtown Phoenix, AZ



Auld Dubliner – Long Beach

Category – Neighborhood Hang Out, Sports Pub, Tourists and Locals welcome

Ok, so now they have several of these in 3 states, but I included them because this is the original and it is a classic Irish Pub.   In 2013 when in town for the TED show, “Bono” of U2, dropped in to pour some pints for the crowd.

Auld Dubliner, Long Beach, CA


Fibber McGee’s – Chandler, AZ

Category – Glorious Dive & Neighborhood Hang out

Unique bar shape and overhang.  some serious drinking goes on here, take a cab as you will not be walking straight line when you pop out into the Arizona sunshine.

Fibber McGee’s, Chandler, AZ