Sports Central: Best Places to Watch the Game, or at Least Look Like You Are

As Detroiters, we want to win -- at everything, and especially sports. And if a win means the pennant, the Stanley cup, whatever the trophy for the Super Bowl is called, and, yes, even the an NBA championship for the Pistons -- though they are in Auburn Hills -- we'll root. Some root for the team, some root for a player, but we're all rooting for the city.

We've always got a team to root for. The city has won (how many?) Stanley Cups since the 30s, a handful of AL pennants – including a Cinderella run to the World Series in 2006, several NBA championships. We hosted an MLB All-star game in 2005, the Super Bowl in 2006, and just recently the NCAA Final Four blew through town. And then there are the Lions ... and, well, honestly, there isn't much to say about them except that at least their new logo has teeth. Anyway…

Detroit's sports legacy has not only cultivated diehard sports fans and put smiles on the faces of Detroiters during challenging times, but has also developed a healthy list of sports bars, as well as good bars to watch sports. (Those are two different things). We've got places to go if you're looking to watch the game in style, in cut off shorts, with a bunch of maniacs or with just a few people.
Here's a guide to some of the spots to catch some sports in Detroit – along with a beer, or a glass of wine, or some jalapeno poppers, or some Herb Pine Nut Crusted Lake Superior Whitefish, depending on your vibe.

Where to wear a jersey

These places are the sports bars. You go here for sports more so than anything else. You'll find the jerseys and the high-fivers at these places.

Hockeytown Cafe
It's the obvious choice for a Red Wings fan. And during playoff time, it's where to go to spot the Wing nuts, as Red Wings fanatics have been so graciously dubbed. During last year's Stanley Cup run, Hockeytown was red like something you'd need to have a doctor check out. But, of course, it's not just hockey playoffs; it's a place to watch all Detroit sports. And during the summer, it's not uncommon to see the outside rooftop jammed up with roaring Tigers fans –- as long as they are winning. The roar isn't so loud during football season. Hockeytown, however, is like a maze. There are stairs going up and down and rooms without doors. It's easy to lose track of how to get where, especially when it's crawling with hundreds of rabid sports fans. For some that might sound like a negative for others that's heaven. It's loud and boisterous and packed with dudes who like to high-five. You also won't find a beer under four bucks here – on the flip side, they have an enormous selection. 2301 Woodward Ave.; (313) 965-9500;

Coaches Corner
Coaches Corner is made for sports fans, not just people who want to get hammered and scream at the TV. It's a sports fan's sport joint. TVs line the bar, which is in the middle of the space, and patrons line up around that, rubbing elbows with each other while dipping their cheese sticks into a tub of ranch. And the waitresses, although nice, aren't afraid to sass an unruly or rude customer. Located in Harmonie Park, Coaches Corner is a local's bar and though it's only been open for a few years, it surely feels like forever. Their menu consists of things that are fried and things you can dip (plus pizza and hamburgers). And, although the Pistons are out of the playoffs, Coaches Corner would have been the spot to grab the boys in blue (Pistons) for a playoff game. Eh, maybe next year Mr. Dumars. 1465 Centre St.; (313) 963-4000;

Anchor Bar
The Anchor Bar has been family owned for more than 80 years. The walls of the place are lined with black and white photos of patrons and friends from throughout the years. You feel the history of the place instantly, faster than it takes your eyes adjust from the light of outside to the dark of the Anchor Bar. Located on Fort street, it's just a hop, skip, and a jump from Joe Louis Arena, so when a home game lets out, you better look out. It's a rowdy place. Not rowdy like the Wild West but rowdy like the Wings just won and those Molsons from the Joe are starting to kick in. The Anchor is smoky at times, so be prepared for that. On the table, if you get a table, you'll find sliced onions and a Styrofoam of pickles… they go better with a burger rather than raw. Anchor Bar has a few pool tables and a pinball machine, which is usually being place by a pair of police officers. It's another local place, a little more dive-y than Coaches Corner but a lot more iconic. Throw caution to the wind and grab the burger that's topped with ham and Swiss cheese, just make sure you run 15 miles the next day. 450 W Fort St.; (313) 964-9127.

Where to wear a button up
Want to take a date somewhere nice date but still want to watch the game? Go to these spots.

Angelina Bistro
Angelina Bistro isn't a sports bar. It's not really even a bar. It's an Italian bistro that has a bar and at that bar are a few televisions. So you can do two things if you're looking to catch dinner and the game. You can either make reservations; have dinner in the dining room (which is exquisitely designed), and move on over to the bar to catch whatever you're watching to catch. The second thing is just getting your food at the bar and watching their HD TVs. The dining room option will make you want to put on a nicer shirt and some slacks, maybe. But if you're just grabbing something at the bar – like one of their appetizers – and a locally brewed beer, then maybe you don't need those slacks. Angelina, in closing, is a nice place to eat well prepared food, drink a well brewed beer, and watch the game around a well designed bar. 1565 Broadway St.; (313) 962-1355?;

Centaur is swanky. There is no shortage of high heels, fancy martinis, and decadent serving platters at this bar. With that said, however, you can still roll in there wearing a Tigers cap and feel comfortable. Centaur has a bar that sparkles. Maybe it's the lighting, maybe it's the bottles and the shelving, but it sparkles. And though it's not the first place you'll think off to grab a Tigers v. Yankees game, Centaur shouldn't be the last. They have TVs throughout and if it's tuned to your local sports team during game time it's a good place to watch. Who said you can't enjoy a fancily named martini – like that Matador ("a dangerous combination of premium tequila, orange juice, cinnamon and a little olé!") – and watch Fernando Rodney save the ball game (fingers crossed). 2233 Park Ave.; (313) 963-4040;

Where to wear whatever
Just get off of work? Paint all over your pants? Wearing sweats and sweaty? A tux? A Magglio jersey? Mesh tank top? Who cares, these places are for you.

Park Bar
Everything about the Park Bar screams community. From the bar's circular set up to its revival of a local Detroit currency, aptly named "Detroit Cheers" to merely the vibe you feel when you walk in. Bartenders are nice, attentive, and keep your cup full. And with the connected Bucharest Grill (shawarma is the best in all the land – of Detroit at least), there's really no reason to leave. The Park Bar Located on the corner of Park and Elizabeth, the Park Bar has put on shows, had DJs, hosted Detroit events, after parties, and get togethers. It's in the middle of it all. But this isn't a sports bar but a bar that you can watch sports in. You won't be alone if you do head on over to grab the game at the park Bar. You will have companions. There will be fans clad in team swag. There will be high-fives. So, don't let everything else the Park Bar does scare you off, sports fan. Rather let it bring you in. 2040 Park Ave.; (313) 962-2933;

State Bar
State Bar gets packed after shows at the Fillmore, usually, but that doesn't mean they won't have the game on. If you're looking for a place to watch said game that won't always be jammed with fans, the State Bar is a good bet. And depending on the show next door, you could see a different crowd each night. But they have enough TVs to go around. Sit at the bar for the best view, or if it isn't too packed, you can grab one of the booths around the bar for a little more comfort. 2101 Woodward Ave.; (313) 962-3663.

Where to wear your beer and grab a bus ride
These places you might end up with either your beer on your shirt or someone else’s beer on your shirt. Not always, of course, but if it's going to happen, it'll happen here. You can also snatch a bus ride from either of these places. And nothing goes better together than a beer and a bus ride.

Nemo's was a neighbor to the Tigers from 1965 when the bar opened until the cats moved to Comerica Park in 2000. Of course, that didn't stop Nemo's popularity before Tigers games. Around that same time – 2000 – the Detroit staple purchased a bunch of school buses, pained Nemo's on them, and started transporting the sober and the smashed sports fan alike. They offer the same friendly service to patrons for the Lions and the Red Wings, as well. Of course Lion fan isn't as happy or excited as Red Wing and Tiger fan. One day, maybe. The city can dream, can't it? Oh, and how's this for a stamp of sports bar approval: Sports Illustrated, back in 2005, named Nemo's the third best sports bar in America. 1384 Michigan Ave.;(313) 965-2633;

Old Shillelagh
The Old Shillelagh has a bus, too. It's green and has a speaker and announces when it's on its way out to the park or on it's way back to the bar. Either way, it's pretty rowdy. Rowdy in a good way though. This is a dive-y, sporty, no nonsense place to enjoy a party and a game and a beer. It's a hot spot for opening day baseball, playoff hockey or basketball (not his year, sorry Piston fan), and for sulking about the Lions Sunday after Sunday. If you're looking for a spot that trims the fat and offers a bus ride, Old Shillelagh in Greektown is your medicine. 349 Monroe St.; (313) 964-0007.


Tiger fans scurry to their seats before a game at Comerica Park

State fan overlooking Detroit's skyline from the blacony at Bookies

The Rooftop at Hockey Town

Coaches Corner


Park Bar


All photographs by Detroit Photographer Marvin Shaouni Marvin Shaouni is the Managing Photographer for Metromode & Model D.

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