The Sunday Football Fix
Now, with the Chargers and the Rams in town, the network schedule is decidedly more complicated. That’s because by NFL rule no game can air opposite a local franchise’s broadcast, and the local team’s game is blacked out if the game isn’t a sell-out at the stadium.
Whether the stay-at-home fan has cable or satellite, has cut the cord and relies on streaming services and mobile devices, or buys into the Sunday Ticket, Red Zone and other premium packages, there will be a “where’s the game?” moment of panic during the season.
Luckily, joining friends and fans at Irvine restaurants, bars and entertainment venues that offer NFL games all day Sunday, plus Thursday and Monday nights, can assuage that pain. As can the adult beverages served at the following football hotspots.
The big lobby bar area offers a giant screen that shows a collage of the best of NFL Sunday football, perfect for those with short attention spans or trying to track their fantasy football roster. The massive 10-foot TV in the Red Bar comes with split-screen technology – where fans can watch up to six games at once, plus track the scoring action on NFL Red Zone. There’s also all-you-can-eat wings for $10, $4 bottled beers, $8 bottomless Mimosas and a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar.
Buffalo Wild Wings
The chicken wing emporium is tucked into the corner of the Heritage Plaza Center at Culver Drive and the 5, and offers what pretty much every other BWW in the nation does: TVs, and lots of them, wings as spicy as you’d like and plenty of cold beer to wash it all down. Our only criticism of the quintessential experience is that the technology isn’t exactly on point: some of the TVs are projection types, meaning the picture isn’t as crisp as the wings.
If we’re going to watch a game at the shopping center off of Culver, it’s much more likely you’ll see us at the pizza parlor owned by the Barros family than at the giant B-dub chain. They’ve been at that location for more than 40 years, offering a top venue for sports fans, pizza lovers and youth sports teams. Order a beer from Backstreet Brewery, and cheer on your favorite team.
First Class Pizza
The Woodbury Town Center spot usually opens at 11 a.m., but on Sundays during the NFL season you can arrive at 9:30 a.m. to claim a favorite table. There are craft beer specials at $3 a pint and $12 a pitcher (the Irvine location has one of the best beer selections in town), and the pizza of the month is always worth a try while watching your favorite team. Plus, we love that this First Class hires high school kids to serve and cook, just like the local pizzeria where we grew up.
The sports bar chain is the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to Spectrum locations to catch a game. With televisions at every angle, it’s usually easy to pick a spot to watch your favorite team. With hundreds of beers on tap, you can choose from among all the trendy seasonal types from the restaurant’s Chalkboard Series (Greenflash Spanish Trampoline, say, or Firestone Luponic Distortion), or go for an old-school big brand.
Dave and Buster’s
If you’ve got gamers in your group, or kids who don’t share your love of football, the Spectrum’s Dave and Buster’s can be a good choice to keep everyone happy and occupied while you watch the game. There are giant screen HDTVs, and during the game you can order $5 appetizers, or go for a combo of all you can eat wings and a $10 game card for just $19.99 per person.
Mega-venues not for you? The cool UCI-adjacent Eureka! opens at 10 a.m. on Sundays during the season. The food is more innovative than at most of the big box sports and wings bars, while the drink menu offers craft beers, small-batch whiskeys and $5 Mimosas and Bloody Marys. Or try the green-tinted tequila and tomatillo cocktail called “Do You Even Juice, Bro?”
The Irv at Whole Foods
Though the restaurant and bar at the Los Olivos Whole Foods only offers the main broadcast games, the healthy food available on the menu or in the market make it a top choice for many. While Amazon ownership has brought down prices on produce in the store, we haven’t seen a carry-over to the bar. But that’s OK, because there are brunch specials, craft beers and of course there’s the green Bloody Mary with the evocative name: Chupracabra Tears.
Ride the Rams Train
For those going to a Rams home game live and in person at the L.A. Coliseum, consider skipping the traffic and $50 parking spots by taking the train from Irvine Station. Roundtrips are $10, and include the trip to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, the subway ride a couple of stops to Seventh and Metro station, where you catch the Expo Light Rail line that stops right across from the stadium. There’s also an option to go catch a Chargers game at StubHub Center, but from Irvine it’s easier to drive than to take the Blue Line across town from Union Station. And the StubHub route involves a shuttle, and we don’t do shuttles.
For more information about the Metrolink’s special service to pro football games, go to metrolinktrains.com/football.