Sports Bars


This Memorial Day we headed out to Savannah, not having been in ages (in fact, the last Savannah trip we took predates my last camera). It was an emotional necessity. After arriving, I pretty much ate and collapsed, sleeping hard almost all of the night. I want to compose my thoughts and offer specific suggestions in a couple follow up posts, but for now, I’m trying to sort through thoughts and such and talk about more general issues in terms of a Savannah trip.

Sights and sounds unlike most American cities.

Sights and sounds unlike most American cities.

If you’re looking for a cheap place to stay near Savannah, your best bet is out by the airport. Hotels close to River Street tend to charge around $200/day during the peak (summer) season. You can beat this in part by coming off peak (e.g. February and March), but I can’t promise you any bargains anymore. The inexpensive hotel I used to use is now a grassy field.

Of course, with a 4 hour drive from Atlanta to Savannah, Savannah is suitable for a one day tour. Drive in, fight for parking, and leave, either to home or parts north and south.

If you want places to eat that appeal less to the tourist and more to the foodie in you, the walk along Bay Street will be more accommodating than River Street itself. Yes, there are bargains along River Street but you have to look. Nice seafood places tend to run high 20s to low 30s for their fare, and after having great experiences in Tybee Island and indifferent experiences along the River (the Cotton Exchange being a welcome exception), best to save your seafood dollars for a jaunt towards the Island.

I highly recommend the Discovery Map rendition of Savannah, and you can get one in advance here. Don’t click on the state. The Savannah map is in the dropdown below. If you’re already in Savannah, you might check out Dub’s Pub, because that’s where I picked up my copy of the map. Another resource is the work of Michael Karpovage, a Roswell GA resident. His Savannah Historic District Illustrated Map“map of Savannah is available on Amazon.com.

Connect Savannah is a tabloid format publication that appears to mirror Creative Loafing in many regards. When we arrived their “Best of Savannah” issue was on the news stands. They have a web site, and “Best of Savannah” has a prominent place on their front page currently.

Almost completely over the top are the candy stores along River Street. If you have a child from age 6 to 60, it is very hard to resist Savannah’s Candy Kitchen or River Street Sweets. These have become must stops when we show, and when my daughter was little, she cried so hard when we were trying to leave, it took us another half hour to get home.

Yes, well known Atlanta foodies with small children, I’m waiting to hear about the response when your youngsters see the place.

img_6478

The collection of children's books here is phenomenal.

The collection of children’s books here is phenomenal.

Bookstores: There is a spot called Books on Bay that deals in antiques. In particular, they are very interested in old children’s books and series. Things like old Oz books, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and to my once 12 year old mind, a surprisingly large collection of Tom Swift books of various and sundry kinds. I was a voracious reader of Tom Swift Jr and have always held a certain desire to read a few of Tom Swift Sr’s books. They have quite a few of these there. Yes, Grant Goggans, if you like comics, I suspect you could get lost in this store.

img_6486

Biggest surprise in Savannah? In many respects, It might been Dub’s Pub, also called Dubs, a Public House. It was near where we were staying, easy to access via stairs and an alleyway. They are advertised on Urban Spoon as a gastropub, though it was hard to tell when we went. They were down to only tacos when I arrived. Their beer selections are good, however, and they sell beer flights. A flight is 5 different selections of beer, 4 ounces each, all for a reasonable price. I had never had Tybee Blonde before, and sandwiching that between a Bells and a Allagash wasn’t so bad at all.

Pork and shrimp tacos from Dub's Pub.  The shrimp, if I recall, had a delightfully spicy bite to it.

Pork and shrimp tacos from Dub’s Pub. The shrimp, if I recall, had a delightfully spicy bite to it.

The tacos at Dubs were really good. The vibe is more that of an upscale sports bar, with some quality food. I didn’t eat enough to pass judgement on “gastropub or not”, but nothing I saw or had would lead me to think otherwise.

It was nice enough that on a quiet day, I’d not have any issue taking my family to Dub’s.

Savannah’s Candy Kitchen
225 East River Street
Savannah, GA 31401
(912) 233-8411

Savannah Candy Kitchen on Urbanspoon

River Street Sweets
13 East River Street
Savannah, GA 31401
(912) 233-6220

River Street Sweets on Urbanspoon

Dubs a Public House
225 West River St
Savannah, GA 31401
(912) 200-3652

Dubs a Public House on Urbanspoon

PS – Savannah Red reviews Dubs in an article titled “Low Tide and Zombies at Dub’s Pub“.

The Arena Tavern is a bar that does plenty of business with sports talk radio. Advertisements and promotions with the local radio stations are a major parts of this small chain’s identity. And when I saw the 790 the Zone truck in front of the bar, I changed plans (even after lunch) and stuck my nose inside.

Yes, I’ll go inside if a local radio station is talking with bar customers.

This bar and Marlow’s Tavern are close by, and “the book” on these two is that the Arena is a better place to watch a game and Marlow’s has the better menu and food. My experience here suggests that might not be as clear cut a choice as in the past.

Catfish Bites. These things were fantastic. If I was blinded and told these came from a high end traditional all you can eat catfish spot, I’d have believed you. Tender, moist, perfect crust and flavorful.

Some of the best crust on cheese sticks I’ve seen in a long, long time.

I only ordered appetizers because I had already eaten, and besides, the rep for Arena was that it was the lesser of the two large taverns for food. And what I received were two of the best appetizers I’ve had in a long long time.

Crusts on the catfish bites were really good. Crust on the cheese sticks was about as good as any I’ve ever had. The cheese sticks alone are better than anything I’ve ever had at a classic wings n sports chain, and reason enough to drop the wings n sports chains and come here. That doesn’t count the catfish bites, which were as good a bit of catfish I’ve had in ages.

The beer selection is large, not huge, but there is plenty of most things for most tastes. There were good craft beers, good Georgia craft beers, good English, Irish and German brew, and plenty of American light lagers. Dozens of beers were on tap, and dozens more in bottles.

Having said all that, the Arena a roomy bar with plenty of wide screen TVs, with large roomy tables on which to watch those televisions. Yes, it’s a spot to watch games, and listen to sports talk. Further, Arena has rather surprising appetizers. Consequently, the culinary competition between this restaurant and Marlow’s is closer than the generic consensus suggests.

Arena Tavern
2000 Satellite Boulevard
Duluth, GA 30097
(770) 623-4585

Arena Tavern on Urbanspoon

Update: fixed typos.

Sausage month is over at Summit’s Tavern, but the memories and a photo remain:

Large. Filling. I was told this salad was large, but it wasn’t till I had one myself I knew how big it was.

nom nom nom ;).

Clay’s Sports Cafe
6518 Roswell Road
Atlanta, GA 30328
(404) 843-1233

Clay's Sports Cafe on Urbanspoon

During March, Summit’s Tavern has a Carnivale menu that includes, among other things, muffalettas.

That’s a half muffy in the photo above. If you take off that large chunk of bread on top, the olive salad is a little hard to secure, as it’s built from such large pieces.

Other items are available as well, such as shrimp and crawfish po boys and étouffée.

On the 26th Summit’s in Snellville will culminate with a crawfish boil, all you can eat for $24.99 (2-9pm).

Summit’s Wayside Tavern
3334-A Stone Mountain Highway (Highway 78)
Snellville, GA 30078
(770) 736-1333

Summits Wayside Tavern on Urbanspoon

Summits has the best selection of beer in Snellville, and generally any place east of the Brick Store Pub. It also has a fine collection of big screens and decent food as well. Witness their steak salad.

Summit’s Wayside Tavern
3334-A Stone Mountain Highway (Highway 78)
Snellville, GA 30078
(770) 736-1333

Summits Wayside Tavern on Urbanspoon

Note: reviews of Summits are here and here.

Clay’s Sports Cafe is an eatery we’ve spoken about before, and as it has a really good salad, good sandwiches and convenient hours, it gets used often. Clay’s wings are popular.

Clays uses, I’m told, a 4 pepper blend in their hot sauce. Yes, those flavors do come through. You get the aromatic flavors of black pepper, the burn of the red stuff. It has more complexity than a pure jalapeno sauce. The celery isn’t bad either.

Clay’s Sports Cafe
6518 Roswell Road
Atlanta, GA 30328-3168
(404) 843-1233

Clay's Sports Cafe on Urbanspoon

Parma Tavern. Drive north on I-85 and exit towards Mall of  Georgia. Keep going past the first couple mall entrances. In a nondescript strip mall on the left lies this eatery. Though a decent sized establishment, it is impossible to see from the road. You’ll need to watch signs carefully to find it.

Inside, pretty and graceful. A functional bar anchors the eatery on the right as you enter. That’s where I sat. The beer selection is smaller but well thought out. Everything from stock American beers to good draft beers to craft brews can be had. Food? Smaller selection, but with an emphasis on quality.

The people who put  this place together also did Hearth Pizza Tavern, so it’s a group that knows how to present food. Of the two, I like this place better. More down to earth, not as large, more intimate and homey. Perhaps it was just the bartender, who was talkative that day. No, some of the appeal has to be written off as intangibles, just things that aren’t quantifiable that I liked. Frosted glass windows, does that count?

Parma Tavern
3350 Buford Drive #200
Buford, GA 30519
(678) 541-0908

Parma Tavern on Urbanspoon

Jimmy, of Eat It Atlanta, suggested that Clay’s wings, of Clay’s Sports Cafe, were good. I’m here to say I tried them and yes, they are.

Clay's Sports Cafe on Urbanspoon

Maya Fresh Grill now has a menu. It’s a good looking menu, with an enticing list of smaller items. Things like takkos, quesadillas, salads, and more regional ethnic fare dot the menu. I had their rainbow salad, which was delicious. So I have to say to foodies in the Snellville area, and perhaps Chloe (if she trends out this far east): go now. Go before this place changes. It’s delightful right now, with owners in love with their craft. And if my experiences with gifted small owners is any indication, often a restaurant will grow popular and the owner disappears, or the restaurant dies and the owner is no longer around. So go. This place is worth a stop on the way from Snellville into Duluth.

Maya Fresh Grill on Urbanspoon

Clay’s Sports Cafe is a small inconspicuous bar, easily missed, on Roswell Road. Several booths and a few tables fill a tiny space in a cramped small strip mall along Roswell Road. The quality of the seating is modest. 2-3 televisions dot the area, perhaps 2 people were working when I arrived. Sometimes, though, size doesn’t matter, nor do expensive, trendy ingredients. All that matters are deft culinary skills with the means at hand.

Staff here are open and up front about their opinions. When I mentioned I wanted a burger, I was told that it was good, but that it came on a hoagie roll and it would take 20 minutes to prepare. When I tried to order a salad, I was steered to Clay’s “small”. “The large one is huge,” I was told.

The small salad, which came out quickly, was indeed a generous bed of crunchy romaine. No, hardly the organic baby lettuce of Farm Burger or Yeah!, but crisp and pleasing. The salad made the time to the burger seem very short.

The burger looks a little plain, but there is a ton of taste in this modest looking bit of meat. Juicy and flavorful, I ate half of it and doggie bagged the rest. People at work talk about Clay’s, and they do so in terms that are genuinely respectful. In terms of flavor bang for the buck, it’s an exceptional little eatery.

Verdict: Plain looking store that serves simple foods made extremely well. Highly recommended.

Clay’s Sports Cafe
6518 Roswell Road
Atlanta, GA 30328-3168
(404) 843-1233

Clay's Sports Cafe on Urbanspoon

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 247 other followers