Here are some of the top local picks for places to watch the games if you don't have a ticket. (And TV in corner + obligatory framed jersey on wall ≠ sports bar)
These behemoth sports bars are large, loud, and usually packed full of fellow sports fans. If you're prone to giving high-fives to strangers in the heat of the moment, you'll be very welcome at these spots.
Inside P&L: KC Live! Living Room/Beer Garden
Kansas City's Power & Light District [P&L] is basically a fortress of bars surrounding a massive beer garden and TV screen. Officially called the Living Room (which is inside the KC Live! block, which is inside P&L, which is downtown - keep that straight), this venue hosts concerts and game viewings even when the weather gets chilly. P&L's Living Room has earned big broadcast time recently with impressive crowds for Royals playoff games and the World Cup. Some actually prefer the Living Room to the actual game. And of course, like any good living room, you're surrounded by beer, so grab one of the many plush couches and make yourself at home.
Also at Power & Light: Johnny's Tavern
This old-timer has been in Lawrence and other Kansas City locations for the past 60 years, and the newish Power & Light location keeps up the charm. The staggering 53 TVs feel "like a THOUSAND TVs" according to one online reviewer. Johnny's boasts tons of sports cable packages, standard pub fare, and truly delicious pizzas and burgers. Thanks to its blanket coverage and nightly specials, this place can get packed. | JohnnysTavern.com
Also at Power & Light: McFadden's
McFadden's is a cornerstone of the KC sports bar scene, especially ever since Eric Hosmer and the Royals picked the spot to celebrate its 2014 ALDS sweep of the Angels (kindly covering everyone's tab afterward). This bar is nice, big, and easily accessible from the P&L Living Room. | McFaddensKC.com
Also at Power & Light: No Other Pub
The newest contender for sports fans just opened in the Power & Light district, and it was started by the hometown boys of Sporting KC. No Other Pub lives up to its name, though. Standard pub food abounds, but the street taco bar is the true outlier in terms of food. That's not even the best part: No Other Pub features bowling, arcade games, "snookball," shuffleboard, ping pong, and even golf simulators. All games are first-come-first serve. Then if you just want to WATCH the game, rather than play them, the myriad of TVs and 10x15ft video wall (and wifi and charging stations) will keep you up-to-date while you fill your face.
Rumored to be the oldest building in Kansas City, Kelly's Westport Inn has at least been in the Kelly family since 1947. No matter its lineage, Kelly's is a Kansas City staple and will be for a while. Regulars praise the friendly staff (at least four of them are Kellys) and the dirt cheap happy hour prices. And rejoice, Cyclone fans; what started as a fluke years ago has cemented Kelly's as the Iowa State University outpost in Kansas City. The ample bar, rooftop deck, and Joe's Pizza (Buy The Slice) in the back guarantee you won't go hungry during the game. And once you get a slice of Joe's, put honey on the crust and thank us later.
K-State fan? Plenty of purple on game days will put you right at home at this bar. On any other day, the service and unique twists on classic bar food will probably make you feel at home, too. Opened in 1985, Tanner's features "boogas" (burgers) and "chicken lips" (chicken strips), which garner almost exclusively rave reviews from locals in Waldo. This feels like a neighborhood bar for sure, so hanging out with friends and catching a game come naturally. And "booga" is just fun to say.
Despite the goofy sitcom-plot-point name, The Other Place's nightly specials and sports cable packages make it a destination for sports viewing. The bar food is tasty, Friday nights are home to karaoke contests, and pretty much everyone agrees that the pizza is top-notch. The specials change nightly, so be sure to catch The Other Place the next time the Royals are in the playoffs (knock on wood).
The Granfalloon, or "The Falloon," is one of the few Plaza spots fit for hosting a big game, but it became a major fan destination during the Royals playoff runs. The Falloon's big open windows make it a great spot for day games, and the back room bar is a good spot to check for seating if you've got a big party.
If you have to turn your head to see a TV, then your sports bar has failed you. These bars won't fail you. Think: 360° sports planetariums.
"There probably isn't one bad seat in the place since there are TVs covering every wall," one online reviewer said of the Brooksider. The Brookside neighborhood bar has been around for a while, but has recently been updated and sports three different bars and more than 30 TVs (including a massive 71-inch plasma screen) to catch a game on. The nightly specials range from bloody marys on Sunday to country fried steak or chicken fried chicken on Friday. So, as they request, become a "Loyalsider" and not just a "Brooksider."
Minksy's is definitely famous for pizza. There's no disputing that. But the City Market location has its delicious pizza AND includes 26 TVs, viewable from 3 tiers of seating, and has been voted best sports bar. If you're feeling superstitious, watch the game privately in a reservable room with a 120-inch projector screen. Minsky's promotes itself as a Nebraska watch site, so if you're looking for Big Ten coverage, come here and support your Huskers.
Why SHOULDN'T a radio station have its own restaurant?! The 810 Zone has moved around a bit, but the locations at Harrah's and Lee's Summit (soon to reopen) are staples of sports viewing in Kansas City. These are the epitome of sports bars. Tons of TVs, wings, pizza, burgers, etc. deck out both locations, but most people are there for sports and beer. A warning, though: these are popular places. The noise level and busyness of both locations are [inexplicably] upsetting to some reviewers, but watching sports here is definitely high energy.
We've featured Nick & Jake's on our brunch list, but it is first and foremost a sports bar. Food is the number one selling point here, though, which breaks the mold of most sports bars. They've got specials every night, every side dish you could imagine, and comfort food like a pork tenderloin sandwich with cinnamon apples, pit ham, white cheddar, and chipotle mayo. And once you get your tasty meal, there are tons of TVs to keep you up to date on the latest score.
Coach's has been around since the 80s (although the Overland Park location just opened in 2011), and for good reason. The regulars keep coming back for the consistently charming staff and good bar food. The standout offering: sweet potato fries dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Enjoy those sweet fries or some wings or nachos on the cheap and catch the game. Coach's has all the sports cable packages and, unless they're lying to us, every TV is 46 inches or bigger. And for the Nebraska visitors/defectors, this is a Husker bar as well.
YardHouse may be a chain, but we can forgive that since they have dozens (yes, dozens) of beers on tap and put unique twists on bar food. Duck fat fries, hot and spicy edamame, chicken/bacon mac & cheese, and street tacos make YardHouse a delicious place to watch the game. Tons of TVs plaster the walls and the service is second to none. Their new Power & Light location is beautifully designed, too - definitely worthy of a date night if you're both into the game.
One of the best spots for Westport people-watching is also one of the best places to watch sports. Four huge projection screens are augmented by tons of regular ol' TVs. One online review said you pretty much "can't NOT see a TV." Bonus: the food at the Ale House is great too. Baskets for sharing are very affordable and they even have donuts made from Boulevard's Tank 7. But be warned: this place is mostly concrete and glass so it can get noisy.
Sometimes you just want some beer, some nachos, and the game. These dives may be a little worn, but they're simply the best when it comes to a no-frills, authentic sports bar feel.
With a handful of locations around Kansas City, The Peanut has carved out a name for itself in the wings scene. While it may get busy at times (it is pretty famous), The Peanut's reputation as a "true dive" is alive and well. Catch a game, devour some wings (arguably the best in KC), eat a Triple BLT (TRIPLE), and experience a somewhat shabby, yet charming, Kansas City treasure.
Even though we're hours away from an NHL team, Kansas City still gets its very own hockey bar. The Blue Line is essential for hockey fans and general sports fans alike. TVs and jerseys line the walls, bartenders serve up cheap drafts, and hockey fans chow down on hockey-themed bar food like the Calgary Chimichanga and Bruins Burrito Platter. And if you're a TRUE hockey fan (or Canadian), yes, they have poutine fries.
Aren't dive bars supposed to be small? This two-story (plus a deck) behemoth bucks that trend. Sure, the bar food, dim lighting, and cheap beer is still here like all dive bars, but there's just so much room here! And that bar food is tasty: the fries and nachos are widely praised. John's Big Deck has been hopping recently with the Royals, Chiefs, and Sporting KC's successes. Whether you want to sip beer with a view of downtown or enjoy a game, John's Big Deck has got you covered.
Also, a note from experience: the stairs inside are very steep, so use the buddy system after 2-3 drinks. After 4+ drinks, just sit and scoot.
Top notch food belies Hi-Dive's status as a, well, dive bar. But don't worry. Cheap burgers and beer are still here, the game's still on the TV, and the canned beer machine still has mystery cans for cheap (wait, was that ever a thing?). The staff is attentive and fun, the food is surprisingly good, and sports are plentiful. KU basketball games especially. Rock Chalk.
Not too far from downtown, Martini Corner's Tower Tavern is named for KCPT's TV tower a couple blocks away. The game is always on and the Golden Tee machine stands sentry in the corner. Tons of TVs line the brick walls and make this place feel like part of the old neighborhood. The sandwiches are the true standouts, but the pizzas and strombolis solidify this place as food AND sports bar alike. And seriously, the game is always on: their website notes "we have DirectTv Sports Package which means we can pretty much show any televised sporting event imaginable." Curling championship, here we come!