Best NFL viewing parties in downtown Phoenix

Photo by Alexis Macklin

Photo by Alexis Macklin

By Joey Hardy, Lauren Hornberger, Gavin Schall, Matthew Tonis and Kristina Vicario

Last weekend, we had our writers go out and take in NFL Sunday at different restaurants in downtown Phoenix. Each restaurant was reviewed on its food, atmosphere, TV accessibility and service. We talked to customers at the restaurants and even offered a little bonus fact to make your experience at each location a little better. We ranked them from best place to take in some Sunday football to a place you might want to avoid Sunday afternoon.

1) Majerle’s

Food: If you prefer to order from a wide variety of choices, Majerle’s offers delicious options on their lunch and dinner menus. If you come really hungry, you will be happy to note that the food does not take long to get to your table once you have ordered it.

Atmosphere: The bar-like tables and booths along with darker lighting give this restaurant a family-friendly feel. The old-fashioned bricks surrounding the restaurant contribute to the space’s cavelike style.

TV accessibility: The multiple high-definition TVs allow fans to see multiple games from one table. These TVs are also large enough to see from any seat in the place. Magnets that represent each NFL team adorn the TVs that will be airing each matchup. Majerle’s also has sound, usually playing the Cardinals’ matchup or the most important game.

Service: It is common to see the welcoming and attentive staff sporting the jerseys of their respective teams. Everyone seems to love the bartender, who is quick to refill a glass or root alongside you.

What the customer said: Majerle’s comes complete with enthusiastic regulars, cheering for their teams with only good things to say about their favorite place to watch the game.

“We have been coming for three years. This is the best place (to watch the games) downtown,” said Memo Villa and Chris Medina, two avid Cardinals fans.

“You can get a warm beer anywhere, but we come here for the warm beer and the good service,” Medina added, joking about the Arizona heat.

Larry Rodgers agreed, stating the “casual, laid-back environment and personable bartender” have kept him a valued customer of Majerle’s for three years.

Bonus: In addition to the delectable food, the restaurant offers a special, though limited, breakfast menu for game days. This is much appreciated by the broke college students who come to watch the game while trying to avoid the inevitable hole in their pocket. Most of the specials include two sides and go for around $7-8.

2) Tilted Kilt

Food: Tilted Kilt provides an array of menu items typical for a sports bar. On Sunday mornings, the menu also includes limited breakfast options. For appetizers, Tilted Kilt has onion rings, mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers, all of which exceed expectations. The onion rings were topped with parmesan cheese, an interesting combination that somehow worked out well. The price wasn’t outrageous, either. The bill came out to about $30 with tip for our three appetizers and one drink. It was better than typical fried food you would find elsewhere and greatly satisfied the taste buds.

Atmosphere: For the early games, don’t expect much of a crowd. There was no struggle to find a seat when we walked in just after 11 in the morning. However, as the afternoon games began, more of a crowd filed in. There were a diverse amount of fans, everything from the Cardinals to the Patriots. If you’re not a die-hard fan of a certain team, Tilted Kilt is great, because all the games are provided.

TV Accessibility: You can see multiple large, high-definition TVs from almost anywhere in the restaurant with every game on. There are also two projector screens that show two separate games, likely the fan favorites of the week. If you are interested in watching your whole fantasy team at once, this is the place to be!

Service: The service was pretty standard. The waitress continuously checked on the table, making sure everything was okay and never trying to get us to leave. However, as it became a more crowded, service did get a little spotty. When we did want to leave, it took a while for us to get the check. The people sitting at the table behind us also waited more than five minutes until anyone came to the table to greet them. It was not the best, but definitely not the worst either.

Bonus: If you come in looking for a specific game, the Tilted Kilt has you covered. When we first arrived, the first question they asked is if we were looking for a specific game. They were cooperative and put us right in front of a TV showing the game we wanted.

3) Hooters

Food: While Hooters doesn’t have a particularly extensive or creative menu, they are known for their wings. Two great choices are the Samurai with teriyaki sauce and Honey Chipotle. Both flavors of wings are delicious; the teriyaki has a sweet, garlicky flavor, while the Honey Chipotle is a perfect balance of sweet and spicy. The signature Hooters breading was noticeable on both wings and was crunchy and enjoyable. The breading eventually succumbed to the thick sauce and became soggy, but it was delicious while it lasted. The Hooters “World Famous Curly Fries” were decidedly mediocre.

Atmosphere: The restaurant was pretty dead upon arrival, but eventually reached half capacity by the end. There was little excitement in the restaurant and customers seemed isolated from each other and unenthusiastic for the games. The space definitely didn’t have the stereotypical characteristics of a great sports bar or restaurant — no one seemed to know each other, and there was no trash-talking or high-fiving, which is basically everything that makes it worth getting out of your house and going there for a game.

TV Accessibility: There were TVs all over the bar, and they could be easily seen from practically anywhere in the restaurant. The downside was that they were showing only two of the four 1 p.m. games and there was little to no volume on either game. Instead, they were playing music.

Service: The service was consistently excellent. Three or four waitresses enthusiastically greeted us immediately when we entered the restaurant. Seating wasn’t an issue and a waitress was always almost readily available to take an order. The food took a little while to come, considering it wasn’t crowded. The rest of the staff were always attentive and polite, making it easy to start up a conversation with the waitress.

What the customer said: “I like socializing with people, and there’s a lot of traffic here,” said Miguel, a regular at Hooters. “If I just ask them to change the channel, they’ll change it.”

Bonus: The restaurant features some special selections on a Sunday-only menu during the NFL season.

4)Alice Cooper’stown

Food: If you’re looking for an extensive and unique menu, Alice Cooper’stown is the place to go. They have eight different categories of food on their menu, everything from typical bar fare to vegetarian options. The “Big Unit,” a 22-inch full-pound hot dog, seemed to be the most popular item on the menu. The “Bernie Mac” and Cheese Bites appetizer had the great taste of macaroni with a little crunch. Eight of these glorious creations came in one order, totaling eight dollars, which was definitely a great deal.

Atmosphere: Alice Cooper’stown provides an atmosphere with two of the best things: sports and rock n’ roll. This would lead one to believe it would be a hoppin’ place. However, the place was dead. Of all 20 customers there, there was only one guy really enjoying the games. The rest of the customers were passive, as if they were just there to enjoy a meal. The bar area was almost entirely empty, not typical of a sports bar on Sunday. Another downfall is a very loud and obnoxious bell that is rang anytime someone orders a “Big Unit” hot dog. It gets old fast. If you’re looking for a more vibrant and exciting place to go on a Sunday, Alice Cooper’stown is probably not the best option.

TV Accessibility: Alice Cooper’stown probably has some of the best accessibility to view games on a Sunday. Five projector screens are positioned over the bar area, showing all available games. Also, there are six high-definition TVs positioned throughout the lounge. There is definitely no problem in being able to see your favorite team play on Sunday at this restaurant.

Service: Service was nothing special. After spilling a drink, the service staff was quick to come clean the mess up. However, after we only ordered an appetizer, our waitress did seem relatively annoyed with us just sitting there.

What the customer said: Terry Walsh and Tera Tillman, a couple from downtown Phoenix, come weekly to Alice Cooper’stown. They said they were surprised to see how many people were in the restaurant and that usually there were fewer.

Brandon Moser raved about the food, saying what Alice Cooper’stown offers is not typical of bar food and speaking on how much he enjoys it.

5) The Turf Irish Pub

Food: The Turf Irish Pub is currently in the middle of changing its chef and menu, but they still offer a good variety of options, from appetizers to sandwiches to a la carte sides. Prices are a little on the expensive side, especially for a college student, and there are no special offers available.

Atmosphere: Stepping into The Turf after being out in bright Phoenix sunlight is like being thrown into a black hole, and it takes several minutes until your eyes can adjust to the dim lighting, which is reminiscent of a dingy underground pub. The restaurant is not designed for watching sports and connecting with other fans, as each section of the space feels secluded from the rest. The Turf gives off the typical Irish pub vibe, with old-styled high-backed booths and candles dispersed throughout the establishment.

TV Accessibility: Most of the television screens are small, with only one big screen that is not high-definition. Not all of the games were being shown, as they also show horse racing on half of the televisions. As a result, not all of the crowd was there for football, and there is very little fan excitement.

Service: The service at The Turf is the biggest and one of the only upsides to going there. The staff is helpful, attentive and friendly, willing to cater to customers’ needs. The food did not take long and they will change the televisions to whichever game you want to watch.

What the customer said: There were only a small number of people scattered throughout the restaurant, most of whom were regulars.

“At Turf, they know what we want to drink and watch the game,” said Penelope Quinn, a regular at The Turf since it opened. “It is fan-friendly, in the neighborhood, has the NFL Ticket, has good food and good staff.”

Quinn, a bears fan, said she also goes to Rose and Crown and Majerle’s, but that The Turf is her favorite.