If you're a fan of any of the eight MLB teams still playing and are lucky enough to attend a playoff game, congratulations! That's awesome. (Unless you're a Red Sox fan in which case it's looking like it could be a very sad scene at Fenway on Sunday). You'll need to plan out your eating and drinking schedule accordingly. The lines inside the stadiums are going to be extremely intimidating and frustrating to deal with. So, if you don't want to get to the stadium as soon as the gates open and get right in the food lines, then consider finding food options around the stadium.
Regardless of whether it's a dramatic win or a heart wrenching loss, sometimes all you want to do is get to the nearest bar. (I did not do this after attending the Mets' brutal Game 4 World Series loss to the Royals, instead riding the subway home for an hour amid a crowd of sad people shouting f-bombs. I should have given myself an hour to cry in a bar—or at least sob into a platter of chicken fingers).
We pulled three spots nearby each MLB playoff stadium to attend either before or after the game. The idea here is that these are places you go to if you're attending the actual game, but a good amount of these places work for watching the game as well (though some are swankier or more low-key spots for afterward). In order to get the following results, we talked to data scientists at Yelp.com, who looked for bars on Yelp mentioning the team name or "baseball" in reviews. All of the businesses on the list are within 1 mile of their respective team stadium.
The results are below:
The Location: 1455 W. Sunset Blvd in Echo Park
The Basics: The most typically baseball-fan-bar of the Dodger spots, The Short Stop seems to be the go-to spot for both watching games and for pre or post game drinks (if you come afterward, there will likely be dancing, and they have 'Motown Mondays' and 'Soul Sundays' as well). The "dark, divey" spot opens at 3PM for NLDS Games 1&2 with "tons of drink specials," so maybe prepare to take an Autumn Friday and leave work early.
The Reviews: One Yelp reviewer from 9/12/2017 was extremely excited to inform people that the bar offers the "BEST TAMALES anywhere," and that he gets them there before heading to Dodger Stadium (and then comes back afterward). Others laud the $4 PBR tallboys and encourage fans to get their fill of those before paying too much for beer at the stadium. A review from 7/20/2017 assures that "Dodger bros rub elbows with hipster guys."
The Location: 939 N. Hill St. in Chinatown
The Basics: This hole-in-the-wall looking spot from the outside has big ceilings and pretty lanterns strung all over the inside, giving off a romantic vibe. Its ambience is described as "hipster," so it may not be a typical pre-game sports bar experience, but a different kind of vibe could be a nice change of pace before or after a night of stressful baseball.
The Reviews: There's a DJ at night and multiple reviewers mention just how loud the music gets—if you're looking for a spot to dance after the game, this seems like a good choice, but if you're hoping to just chill and talk, it might not be the best late night spot. A Yelp reviewer from 7/30/2017 who went before the Dodgers game says "the bar has a dark, intimate setting" with a "wide range of craft beer and mixed drinks." Multiple people bring up that it is, indeed, very dark. From 7/30/2017: "Make sure your cell phone light works so you can read the drink menu," and from 8/4/2016: "This is seriously one of the darkest bars I've ever been to in my life." So, if you need a spot that's dark enough for you to hide your tears from other customers if things go south for the Dodgers, consider Melody Lounge.
The Location: 475 Gin Ling Way in Chinatown
The Basics: A cocktail lounge with some not-so-cheap but not-too-expensive mixed drinks, this two-story spot is a relaxed spot that also offers a dance floor and a DJ for any after-game dancing needs.
The Reviews: A few reviewers mentioned that it didn't get too overly-crowded on weekends, though it fills up for dancing after 11. From 8/12/2017: "We spent half our time downstairs and half upstairs. The loft upstairs was a lot bigger than you would expect. SO loud too. And a bar on each floor!" From 3/11/2017: "This spot is probably the closest thing to a New York vibe you're going to get! Music is amazing with the best R&B and old school Hip Hop."
The Location: 333 E. Jefferson St.
The Basics: This seems to be the real staple for pre-game drinks and food (the menu has a big selection), as it's located right across the street from Chase Field. As a result, though, you'll need to make sure you leave yourself enough time and get there early enough, as everyone going to the game is going to have the same idea as you, and a few of the reviews mention a significant wait time with food orders.
The Reviews: From 5/11/2017: "This is our staple before any baseball game. If you get there in advance, there are seats available but once you get closer to the game it is packed! They have a decent beer selection and the food is really good." From 2/14/2017: "Most of the food prices seemed jacked up a few dollars, but we split a large Philly, so we won the battle in the end." From 7/22/2017: "Service was great, food was above average, a little pricey."
The Location: 2 E. Jefferson St.
The Basics: Fans looking for a dive, seek that elsewhere. This is an all-outdoor rooftop bar located on the third floor of a hotel, so you'll get yourself some nice views of the city. It does seem to have a bit more of a date night vibe, but the rooftop pool (yes, there is apparently a pool!) and the surroundings in general give off a relaxing feel. More importantly, the bar is only open until 12 AM, so if the game goes into extras (or moves at the pace of the first few innings of the Yanks-Twins wild-card game), you'll want to find another option.
The Reviews: From 9/28/2017: "It's not pretentious, despite its ambience and location."; From 4/23/2017: "Great atmosphere, love the view and lights. I felt like I was in a commercial or something...the perfect place to just chill and drink with friends."
The Location: 1 N 1st Street
The Basics: A much more traditional sports bar-esque spot than the aforementioned Lustre Bar, this "chill" gastropub offers a variation of craft beers and though it also serves food with tables, there's plenty of seating at the bar.
The Reviews: From 10/1/2017: "The place is really cool. Warm and dark. In a good way." From 9/30/2017: "The atmosphere was clean and enjoyable. Football was on the TVs and the beer selection was perfect." ; "The kitchen is open late, which made our decision a lot easier. We just left Dodgers Stadium East, AKA Chase Field, looking for some places to hit up. There are about 10 different beers on the rotation."
The Location: 1265 First St. SE, Roof of Hampton Inn & Suites
The Basics: Located on top of The Hampton Inn, this rooftop bar has got the views...and the prices to accompany that view. You won't be getting super cheap beer here, but you will be getting a look at Nats Park—"full infield and partial outfield views." Obviously prepare to combat the crowds if you want a good spot.
The Reviews: From 8/12/2017: "Overlooks Nats Park, with views of both the river and DC. Perfect place to relax on a fall evening. Comfortable patio and cold beers!"; From 10/5/2017: "To pay $10 for a Bud Light (and wait 15 minutes to order it) and then have nowhere to sit... c'mon. The redeeming qualities include location and view (it is actually great), but it just seems way too small to handle a crowd for game day." From 7/3/2017: "Solid views, including into the ballpark. Beers are basically as expensive as they are in the stadium, though. Layout could definitely have been designed more intelligently to ensure that more patrons can actually watch the game from the roof."
The Location: 20 M St. SE
The Basics: Just to get this out of the way: The 'Big Stick' apparently refers to their marquee food item, the sausages, (as well as the famed Teddy Roosevelt quote!) It's located down the street from Nats Park, offers basic pub food, and has plenty of TVs scattered around the bar.
The Reviews: From 9/19/2017: "Despite having a crazy name, this place was pretty good. Some of the items were a bit expensive but not too bad."; From 9/18/2017: "Sports bar first, restaurant second. I was at The Big Stick at sports apex time aka Nationals game in 2 hours and Redskins game on TV. It was moderately crowded but the service was manageable and the food arrived faster than expected. Most of the crowd is waiting for a game to come on TV or killing time until they can get into Nationals Park."
The Location: 909 New Jersey Ave SE
The Basics: If you're looking to avoid stadium food, or want to have a sit-down dinner after a game, The Scarlet Oak is a popular pick. (It's also pretty popular for boozy brunches, so if you want to start your playoff pregame with multiple mimosas at 1PM—and really, who doesn't?—this is the move.)
The Reviews: From 6/15/2017: "Food, friends, fun, all a stone's throw away from Nationals park and the waterfront. What more could you want?" From 7/11/2017: "The restaurant seemed to be a popular post Nat's game destination & without the restaurant being unbearably crowded.?"
The Basics: One of the staples of Wrigleyville, Murphy's Bleachers is directly across the street from Wrigley Field and is filled with Cubs memorabilia. Arrive hours ahead of the game if you want a real shot at a seat.
The Reviews: From 7/10/2017: "Obviously as a Cubs fan I will be partial. The bar is your typical sports bar on non game days. Game days, expect it to be busy, loud and alive with Cubs fans." From 6/21/2017: "This place is awesome for what it's best utilized for, which is obviously during a Cubs game for libations and ball park food. When there's thousands of fans in the area you have to realize you're not going to get top notch, super efficient service at any bar you go to within a certain radius of the field." From 8/29/2017: "Big pre-game spot before a Cubs game. Located directly outside the stadium...They keep the stadium feel with 3 full bars and food is going up to a window (there are 3 or 4) in the kitchen area and ordering food concession style...Good environment for watching the game...It's super crowded before the game but clears out during when everyone goes inside."
The Location: 1101 W Waveland Ave
The Basics: This craft-beer brewery has a different feel to it than the other surrounding Wrigleyville bars—the vibe seems to be more low-key and intimate. But it's still in Wrigleyville, so the beers are all $10 each.
The Reviews: From 9/8/2017: "Great beer and draft cocktails. Small-scale place with a classic yet modern vibe compared to the turbo places around the ballpark. Pitch perfect." From 8/24/2017: "Good news: Awesome selection of Chicago craft beers. There's several local breweries you probably haven't even heard of on their menu. Bad news: WAY overpriced. Everything is 9+ dollars for a 12 oz pour. It's like they're copying the beer pricing from inside the ballpark. Also the place is tiny and has a lovely view of a brick wall..." From 7/19/2017: "Least 'Wrigleyville' bar in Wrigleyville.. and I mean that in the best way. A fantastic selection of craft beers- both local and not. Intimate vibe and fab service. Must visit for beer lovers. Cheers!"
The Location: 3485 N Clark St
The Basics: A casual Wrigleyville pub with plenty of food options (the nachos seem to be a top choice) and $40 gallon-sized cocktails with many straws, which are probably unsafe to sell to rabid sports fans who will be looking for ways to either celebrate or drown their sorrows. (They have other, drinks, too, if, you know, gigantic jar drinks aren't really your thing).
The Reviews: From 6/7/2017: "From the couple of times I've been here, I can say this is one of my preferred Wrigleyville bars, as it's more casual than the loud party atmosphere at most of the others." From 8/13/2017: "Wasn't expecting much besides cheap booze on game day but the food was good, cheap, and huge portions. Pretty sure no one in my group finished their food."
NEW YORK YANKEES
The Location: 836 River Ave.
The Basics: If you've ever been to Yankee Stadium, you've seen Stan's. You can't miss it. The bar is full of Yankees gear, and the feel inside during a Yanks game is one of a welcoming local spot, where everyone knows everyone (even if the reality is that you're crammed up against a bunch of strangers).
The Reviews: From 5/21/2017: "Best prices and selection on the block. Yankees decor everywhere. Pregame bar food. The bartenders always make you feel welcome!" From 7/8/2017: "You go to a Yankees game for the spectacle of the crowd and great entertainment. Going to Stan's is the perfect way to start off the experience. We'll be back soon!" 11/20/2017: "Drinks are still cheaper than at the Stadium, so there's usually a big throng of fans to sip some and bask in the glory of the greats. You'll be surrounded by Yankee paraphernalia, including plaques when Derek Jeter arrived. There's also a bunch of TVs so you can watch the game in case you don't want to go to the stadium. It gets packed as you get closer to game time.?"
The Location: 880 River Ave., Bronx, NY
The Basics: A solid pregame spot, with affordable beer and some pretty loud music. You'll be fighting through crowds, but there's also a back bar located further inside that offers some extra space.
The Reviews: From 9/4/2017: "As I expected it was crowded but not so much that you will wait long for a drink. The back bar tends to be less crowded." From 5/1/2017: "Cool bar to go to before a Yankee game for a few beers, though I don't really love the blasting dance music." From 6/14/2016: "Get your pregame on. I only have been to The Dugout on Yankee game night. This is a great space with "cheap" drinks. I typed "cheap" because the are cheap relative to what you will pay inside of the stadium."
The Location: 72 E. 161st Street
The Basics: You come here for the history. Open since 1923, this was a favorite of classic Yankees of the past, and it pays homage to them with photos covering the entirety of the bar.
The Reviews: From 8/4/2016: "Great bar for after game drinks. Joined some friends at a very traditional Spot. The place looks and feels classic New York...the place was interesting but the characters more so!" From 5/19/2015: "The best things about it are the memorabilia and the laissez faire atmosphere."
The Location: 2130 E. 9th St.
The Basics: If you're looking for a nightcap after the game at a quiet spot, this is a good pick. It's more of a wine bar feel than a sports bar, and it's not blasting Top 40 music, but if you're looking for a low-key spot rather than a full-out party, then this place is worth a shot. That's also not to say that a chill wine bar doesn't know how to celebrate its sports teams: a video on its Facebook page shows it filled up after the Cavs claimed the title in 2016, and it undoubtedly would do the same should the Indians achieve the same fate this year.
The Reviews: From 9/6/2017: You wouldn't know this place existed unless you actually looked for it. I was out walking around one night by Progressive Field when I noticed a rather dark bar playing some music from speakers above their door. I will definitely be going back. It's such a low key bar but the booze is great and the help was fantastic." From 10/9/2016: "Great spot to get a drink! I found this place to be more relaxed.. quiet.. and hip than a lot of surrounding places." From 7/7/2016: "Depending on your mood, this is the place. Best non-sports bar to swing by before or after any sporting event."
Huron Point Tavern
The Location: 828 Huron Rd E.
The Basics: This pub downtown near Progressive Field specializes in Italian offerings, and while it's probably not going to be the greatest food or beer selections you've ever seen, it'll give you what you need before a game for a reasonable price. Its beer list is also well decorated with an illustration of Progressive Field, so that'll set the tone for the evening quite nicely.
The Reviews: From 6/1/2017: "This is my go to Cleveland sports bar. Not too crowded. Great service. Good stromboli."; From 4/14/2017: "A must visit when I am downtown for a sporting event. .great owner and staff...I always see people I know and grab a quick sandwich." From 4/27/2017: "This is the perfect bar to pregame, post game, or just plain watch a game at for Cleveland Sports. It has a friendly staff is hard working and friendly. It's small and dive-y but I say that in a good way."
The Location: 2063 E. 4th Street
The Basics: If you're looking to class up your playoff experience, stop here before for some fancy cocktails, or afterward if the game has given you a reason to celebrate and you want to do so somewhere that's not an overly-packed and casual sports bar.
The Reviews: From 8/20/2017: "We were impressed instantly by the dark, yet sophisticated decor." From 8/27/2017: "We had stopped before Lady Gaga just to have drinks, and it has a very nice atmosphere. Long bar with seating, and then tables and chairs everywhere. There was a large piano so I am guessing later at night there would be music. The drink menu is extensive and all the drinks are made fresh." From 11/12/2016: "Really love this place! It's such a cool swanky little bar to grab drinks before or after dinner!"
BOSTON RED SOX
The Location: 69 Kilmarnock St
The Basics: You're not going to get a I'M-RIGHT-BY-FENWAY feel from this trendy spot. But if you're looking for a nice pre- or postgame meal in a big, pretty space, this is a good spot to try to nab a reservation at.
The Reviews: "Great ambiance and a place to pre-game before the Red Sox game. Interesting menu and drink list. Nice outdoor seating. Bar area looks fun too. Service was very good." From 8/3/2016: "The space was an interesting vibe for Fenway, one part was a little Miami the club room was dimly lit supper club."
The Location: 1
The Basics: Another place to key in on if you're looking to fill up on non-stadium food ahead of the game. This gastropub has a chill and relaxed vibe, but, as with anything near Fenway, you're going to have to fend off lines if you come close to game time and you want a seat.
The Reviews: From 7/16/2017: "This place is perfect for non stadium food right across from the stadium! The atmosphere is very pub-esque, dark, chalkboards, hip and bustling. We will definitely be back!!" From 8/15/2016: "Love, love, love. Came after a Red Sox game and it was packed, but me and a friend managed to grab two seats at the bar. The Whisky/Scotch/Rye offerings are INSANE!"
The Location: 126 Brookline Ave
The Basics: A big sports bar with a vast menu and a variety of beer options, which is really all anyone's looking for before or after a game, right?
The Reviews: From 8/7/2017: "The food is pretty consistent and tasty, and there are SO many menu items. The beer is overpriced. The restaurant is pretty big, so it's good for large groups especially before Red Sox games." From 10/3/2017: "I came here before a red sox game. It was pretty crowded before the game but they were able to seat me and my friend after only a 10 minute wait. The menu has a ton of options which can be a bit overwhelming for me." From 9/23/2017: "Impressive amount of draft selection. The patio in the back is my favorite part. It's more of a restaurant than a bar with his many tables they have. That being said the bar is huge. If you're in the Fenway area you could make worse choices."
The Location: 2006 Walker St.
The Basics: A quirky bar with games throughout (there's a row of arcade games and ping pong tables) complete with board games and a comic book collection as well. So if you need something to take your mind off baseball afterward, you've certainly got plenty of options.
The Reviews: From 10/1/2017: "Cozy little hidden gem, perfect for comic book nerds. They have some classic consoles and comfy couches if you want to battle it out in Mario kart. Such a great chill spot."; From 7/1/2017: "Neil's Bahr is an arcade, dive bar, and feels as such with dark lighting and aged seats. It definitely has an arcade feel, there are several board games, video games, TVs and Ping pong. It's also dog friendly so I got to pet a corgi while I waited for my drink to be made." From 5/7/2017: "I love this place! Great place to play some N64 and drink reasonably priced brews."
The Location: 2024 Rusk St.
The Basics: A smaller spot that's across the street from "Lucky's Pub," it doesn't seem to ever get too full, and so it's a reliable choice to stop in for a beer and a bite before or after a game. The decor gives it that distinct hunting feel it's going for.
The Reviews: From 5/25/2017: "Came in before an Astros game on Thursday night and found they had steak night! Very tasty and great service! It wasn't crowded either. Nice cozy spot to stop." From 5/8/2017: "The place never seems to be that full, but has some nice amenities, including a cigar stock that you can buy from, and two very large screen televisions-- one behind the bar, and one off to the side with some nicely upholstered chairs surrounding it." From 5/20/2017: "A real, small, romantic place to go after dinner or parting if you want to get drinks. Sometimes they will have cooks on the porch making tacos or burgers and even sometimes crawfish on certain days."
Walker Street Kitchen
The Location: 1777 Walker St.
The Basics: A warning before you venture here: I think the reason why this one popped up in Yelp's data is more because of its brunch offerings, and since the Astros are not going to be playing any more 1 PM games, it makes its place here a bit irrelevant. Plus, for anyone looking for a post-game dinner, keep in mind that it closes at 10 PM, which means the only real option here is a pregame meal. Still, it's located in the Marriott Marquis Houston, and so anyone who's traveling and staying in either that hotel or in the surrounding area should keep it in mind. Plus, as mentioned earlier, there's no shame in starting your proper postseason pregame routine with more than a few mimosas and some eggs.
The Reviews: From 7/16/2017: "The decor is beautiful, breakfast was delicious and service was quick and friendly." From 1/4/2017: "This is a southern coastal cuisine restaurant located inside the Marriott Marquis right across from Biggio's sports bar. I would have to say the interior decor is pretty understated. Its nice neutral colors and the food was o.k.." From 5/31/2017: "It's a good place for brunch before the baseball game and oh did I say the staff was amazing! It has a price tag attached to it but everything or quality does."