Most of The Republic’s food doesn't come from beyond 150 miles away. As hinted at by the name and grizzly bear logo, the restaurant uses local ingredients to support its mission of promoting the food, drink, and spirit of California. The menu was created by consulting chef Erik Hopfinger, a Top Chef contestant who has tweaked classic dishes by introducing new flavors—queso fresco and piquillo peppers crown carnitas sliders, and charred tomato salsa colors pan-seared Scottish salmon. At brunch, chantilly cream sweetens thick honey-wheat french toast, and avocado adds 25% more alphabet to a BLTA made with applewood-smoked bacon.
The spirits selection is equally conscientious. Sixty-one craft beers, 20 of which are on tap, hail from down the street (Speakeasy’s Prohibition Ale) and across the country (Portland, Maine’s Allagash White). Boutique wines handpicked from around the United States add depth, and a list of specialty cocktails includes the Republic margarita with silver tequila, pineapple juice, fresh lime, agave nectar, and a salted cayenne rim. At game time, 13 high-definition TVs appear from concealed locations, a trick that charmed the Huffington Post into naming The Republic one of the city’s best bars for watching football.
Blackthorn Tavern’s ebony exterior gives way to cream-hued walls adorned with beer signs and a dozen LCD TVs flickering with sports games. Darts, pool tables, and pinball line the sports bar's innards, and the back patio warms bodies with heat lamps and a snuggle-friendly polar bear. Local bands and DJs pump out tunes into the wee hours of the morning, and trivia and karaoke nights enhance the pleasures of flowing beer and mixed drinks.
Nestled just beyond the former home of the 49ers, Kezar Pub stands for all things sports. A well-thought-out schedule lists not only the day’s football and basketball games selected to grace the pub’s 24 screens but also a comprehensive broadcasting of European soccer, hurling, and rugby. Diners keep track of fantasy teams while washing down bites of fish tacos, nachos, and shepherd’s pie with sips of craft beer. Hockey and boxing also receive ample attention within the expansive, wood-paneled bar, and guests looking to put on athletic displays of their own can challenge each other to pool.
Bridging the gap between an American sports bar and a European pub, The Mad Dog in the Fog embraces the allure of spectator sports on both continents. The wall-mounted, flatscreen televisions play live broadcasts of football, basketball, hockey, baseball, tennis, and golf as well as European soccer and rugby. With so many games available throughout the year, crowds pack into the long, narrow room––with gray brick walls and a gleaming wooden bar––and cheer for a home team playing half a world away.
Just like the game schedule, the pub’s food and drink menu adopts an international approach. The coolers feature an ever-rotating selection of about 150 beers from as far away as Sri Lanka and the Czech Republic, including the occasional handful of rare and limited-release microbrews. To complement the eclectic beer selection, the kitchen staff prepares comfort foods such as beer-battered fish and chips and jalapeño-spiced corn dogs made from Aidells sausages.
Hardwood columns descend from a vaulted ceiling at Pete’s Tavern, where a menu of pub grub sates sports fans gathered beneath lambent panoplies of wall-mounted flat-screen TVs. Twelve beers, including drafts from Lagunitas Brewing Company and Redhook, gush from taps at Pete’s horseshoe-shaped full-service bar, which also irrigates arid cheering sections with signature cocktails and robust reds and whites from local wineries. Overhanging pennants celebrate the nation’s best teams and complement walls covered with photographs of legendary athletes and endangered mascots. These photographs gaze down on plates laden with house-smoked barbecue brisket sliders and eight grass-fed half-pound burgers.