Several locations closed, but the two ESPN Zones in California (Anaheim and Los Angeles) are going strong. There are 100 HD monitors, including a high-definition big screen. But there's more — a full-on an entertainment facility with 5,000 to 10,000 square feet of interactive games. At Anaheim's "Sports Arena" you can golf, box, bowl, and test your slap shot. "This is the closest you can come to playing hockey without losing any teeth!" the site promises.
Oh, there's food too. After (or in between) games, the menu features classics like: wings, nachos, sliders, tenders, cheese fries, and the ubiquitous spinach and artichoke dip. There are steaks, cheesesteaks, and various burgers including a basketball-themed Triple-Double: two eight-ounce patties with American, Cheddar, and Swiss on a toasted bun with lettuce, onion, and tomato.
The legendary football coach of the Miami Dolphins who achieved perfection in 1972 with an undefeated season and Super Bowl win. The chain of Don Shula’s Steakhouse seems to have done pretty well too. There are currently more than 30 restaurants in America, with roughly a third of them in Florida.
Menus vary by location, but they include the cuts and steakhouse fare you'd expect. But for linebacker-sized appetites there's a food challenge with its own page and hall of fame: Shula's 48oz. Club. And if you can tackle 100 of the Shula Cuts (a 48-ounce porterhouse) like Taft Parker did, Coach Shula may even sit with you while you eat it and give you a football to commemorate the occasion.
While this ale house was inspired by owner Lou Moshakos' visit to an authentic one during a layover in London, there's a decidedly American sports twist on his Carolina Ale House. Almost every major American sport is featured on the menu front (there's even a lacrosse stick) and the motto at the 14 locations in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas is "Where Food, Sports and Fun rule!" Look out for the Baseball Sirloin, an extra thick, baseball-cut sirloin topped with onion strings and served with demi-glace over garlic mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables.
All-Pro former linebacker Junior Seau opened his eponymous 14,500-square-foot restaurant, Seau’s in 1996. The menus are filled with sports backdrops, often randomly. Do you think sushi when you think hockey? Baseball and pizza?
The menu features all the fare you'd expect given most athletes' restaurant preferences. There are salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, pasta, grilled fish, and even a sushi lounge. And of course, there are the requisite flat screen TVs: 60 high definition screens and a 12-foot by 14-foot projection screen.
"Wait," you're saying, "Caddyshack... Murray... that Murray?" Yup. Actor Bill Murray and his brothers teamed up to open Murray Bros. Caddyshack at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. (Murray's brother Brian Doyle-Murray co-wrote the movie). When it comes to themes, it accomplishes the hat trick: sport, movie, and celebrity.
Décor includes lawn mowers, rakes, pails, kegs, and plenty of sight gags. Puns abound on the menu. Murray family favorite "Sandwedges" include the Double-Bogey Cheeseburger, there are Caddyshakes, and even a "Go Fer" pot roast. Given their Chicago background, you can find Windy City staples like the Chicago Dog and Italian beef sandwich.
"Hey, Hey, Hockeytown!" blasts the website for the Hockeytown Café, a sports palace in Detroit with obvious allegiances to the Red Wings. There are even free shuttles to all Red Wings games and a number of other events at the Joe Louis Arena.
Accolades for the restaurant include The Detroit Free Press calling it, "The best place in town to catch the face-off, kick-off, or tip-off," and ESPN2 calling it the "No. 2 Sports Bar in America." Some notable menu items include: "Red Wings" (fried wings with hot sauce), the signature Hockeytown Burger, and a Michigan Cherry Burger (a ½-pound burger topped with Traverse City cherries and Boursin cheese).
If you love hockey and you don't mind hockey sticks hanging overhead like Swords of Damocles, The 18° Neighborhood Grill may be a new favorite haunt. This breed of in-stadium dining features windows overlooking the Phoenix Coyotes' home ice ("named for the ice temperature") in the Ice Den.
There are questionably-named items like 18º Chili (served at ice temperature too?), the "Italian Job" and Angry Chicken pizzas, and the creative, "Bowl of Ice Cream." But you're likely not there to fixate on menu misspellings like, "Zeppolies," but to watch hockey on the 23-inch LCD screens or 16 huge LCD monitors showing NFL Sunday Ticket and NHL Center Ice packages. (Seriously, is it a punishable offense to not serve spinach artichoke dip at sports eateries? It's on almost every menu.)
NASCAR Sports Grille has a number of locations. It's in Indiana, Orlando, and Hampton, Va. There's a lot of impressive checkered flag and racecar action. But the real draws are the dish names. With names like "Famous 3 Wide Wings," Texas Speedway Taquitos, and Boogity Boogity Boogity Shrimp, you could play a drinking game that involves shots and saying these things over and over again.
George "Jig" Warren III and Gary "Moe" Meszaros started their Quaker Steak & Lube restaurants in 1974 to "preserve the culture of those old gas stations and high-powered muscle cars." Their "Cook Your Own Steak" restaurants have been giving old muscle cars a permanent home ever since.
There are now more than 30 locations in about 15 states across the U.S., and "The Lube" is still rescuing muscle and vintage cars and trucks as well as custom and antique motorcycles. They're hung from the walls and ceilings in each restaurant. As for menu standouts, the Quaker Steak & Lube wings range in heat from a mild 90 Scoville Units to 500,000 with the "Triple Atomic" wings.
Harry Caray’s, usion of a classic Chicago steakhouse and a traditional Italian restaurant. The several locations, as pictured, have tiled floors, jerseys, and signature cuts of steak, fresh pasta, and Italian favorites.
The great Yankee centerfielder teamed up with investors to open his eponymous restaurant on Central Park South between 5th and 6th Avenues. The Mick passed away in '95, but the restaurant lives on, filled with museum-quality memorabilia, and a comprehensive sports video library, as well as rare photos from Mickey's personal collection.
At its base, Mickey Mantle's is a steakhouse, featuring pigs in blankets, wedge salad, a "Spring Training" menu (low-carb, low-calorie), steakhouse and side fare, and of course, the ubiquitous spinach dip.
Formerly known as Mo's New York Grill for the famed Yankees' closer, the restaurant changed its name to The Clubhouse Grill. It still serves standard steakhouse fare with some Italian twists in environs filled with Mariano Rivera's memorabilia.
NYY Steak is located inside of Gate 6 at Yankee Stadium. You don't get much closer to the action than that. The restaurant offers an upscale dining experience with dry-aged beef, seafood, a wide range of wines and a number of choices from the bar. There are nuanced Yankee touches, like signatures of former players on the walls, and in the bathroom a classic photo of the Babe, supposedly passed out in a laundry basket after a bender.
Ozzie’s Restaurant & Sports Bar in St. Louis, Mo., is named, of course, after the famed, cartwheeling, Cardinal shortstop. The menu features "Pre-Game Warm Ups" like Buffalo wings, nachos, spring rolls, and of course, spinach artichoke dip. The rest of the menu features "Home Run" pizzas, MVP burgers, and under the category of "Player of the Year," an assortment of sandwiches. The restaurant also offers a free beer before any home or away Blues game if you bring in your ticket stub.
The Fort Lauderdale-based G.R.E.A.T. Grille Group is behind several high-profile sports-themed "Sports Grilles" (with Eddie George, Jeff Conine, and Jerome Bettis) with two NFL team-themed restaurants scheduled to open in 2011 (Colts and Texans). At Jerome Bettis' Grill 36 in Pittsburgh, the Steelers' famous retired halfback has an eatery with views of Point State Park, Mount Washington, the Pittsburgh city skyline, Heinz Field, and The Three Rivers.
Menu items include pierogies, deep-fried pretzels, boneless wings, pasta, flatbreads, burgers, salads, and of course... spinach artichoke dip.
Round Rock, Tex., is home to a different kind of sports restaurant, HomeField Grill. Yes, the sports theme runs through this menu. Menu puns include: "Heart of the Order" (entrées), "Sideline Passes" (sides), First and Ten (apps), "Souper Bowl Champs" (soups), and among others. But they use fresh, local ingredients, "prepared from scratch" by chef Scott Reed, who wood-grills, sautées, and bakes food to order. Wood-grilling is used with many dishes, like the Flamethrower Flatbread. But the sports/food link goes further. They use former pitcher Nolan Ryan’s All-Natural Beef.
Though there's spinach artichoke dip it's not generic. It's made with farm-fresh spinach, artichoke, sun-dried tomato, hickory smoked bacon, and blend of cream cheese, Oaxaca, and Parmesan with panko.
Is jousting a sport? Maybe not in a traditional sense. And the jousting tournaments at Medieval Times may be more World Wrestling Entertainment than World Series. But it's still spectacle, and in quite an arena. Inside the stone walls of an "11th century-style castle, Medieval Spain comes to life" with six knights donning "authentic armor" clash in a jousting tournament for the title of King's Champion.
The bill of fare at the nine locations includes oven-roasted chicken, garlic bread, spare ribs, tomato bisque, herb-roasted potatoes, and "pastry of the castle." Because you know, spare ribs, garlic bread, and tomato bisque were 11th century fare.
The sports-themed restaurant goes next-level at NBA City in Orlando. The 17,500-square-foot restaurant, which opened in 1999 at Universal Studios Resort, looks like a mini-arena. Outside, there's a 33-foot-tall statue of NBA’s “Logoman." Inside, the two-tier restaurant harkens back to basketball's early years, with a décor reminiscent of arenas from the '40s and '50s.
The menu is straightforward, with salads, pastas, burgers, steaks, and pizza. Interesting standouts include: jambalaya, chicken blue cheese pasta (served at the 2001 WNBA All-Star Game), jambalaya, and mango cheese empanadas.
Guests can watch video archives, test their basketball knowledge, or engage in tests of skill (dribbling, quickness, and jumping) and shooting (free throws, three-pointers, and from top of the key) in a 2,100-square-foot game area.
In his 2005 review, former New York Times critic Frank Bruni, torched the martial-arts-themed eatery, Ninja New York, ending, "it's nonsensical, and its climactic illusion may well be a disappearing act." Six years later the TriBeCa restaurant trucks on.
Black-clad waiters usher patrons into a maze-like dining room inside a restaurant designed to be reminiscent of a "ninja castle of the feudal days." The website claims, "You will be pulled into a world beyond your imagination." Maybe, but it won't likely be the spicy tuna rolls or teriyaki chicken that do it. Menu items may be prepared with "ninja art," but some, like the Caesar salad, aren't even Asian.
The Wipeout Bar & Grill's two locations in San Francisco (Marin and Fisherman's Wharf) feature, obviously, a surf-themed décor and menu. There's an open patio and outdoor bar, a fire pit, celebrity-signed surfboards, and beach signs.
The owners explored the California coast searching for the best surf food and beach shacks to model their menu on. They filled the menus with taquitos, onion rings, fried seafood, burgers, pizzas, tacos, burritos, and plenty of seafood entrées and salads.