Any discussions of great Philly sports bars would have to include Dr. Watson's Pub (216 S. 11th St., 922-3427), where on any given night, the patrons can zip through the sports edition of Trivial Pursuit with nary a fumble. According to bartender Dreena Andrews, one of the main drawing cards of Doc Watson's is its satellite dish, which means great reception.
"It's a lot of fun here. We get a great crowd," Andrews said. "What usually ends up happening is one group of friends sets up on one side of the bar, cheering one team, another group sets up on the other side, cheering the other - and they both end up booing each other." This neighborhood pub promises 12-ounce drafts for $1, free popcorn and hot dogs, four TVs and more than one, uh, animated discussion Sunday.
Elsewhere in the city, Dickens Inn, the turn-of-the-century English pub at Second and Pine Streets (928-9307), also draws plenty of football faithful for the championship game. Dickens Inn again will import the British ale Young's Ramrod, in addition to concocting its hot wine goodie, Smoking Bishop, for the matchup of the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Francisco 49ers. Like many of his colleagues, bartender Keith Davis said this year's game might generate more excitement than the last few - not only because of the Birds' close call, Davis said, but because "quite a few people around here like both teams."
Old City's Waldo's (125 Sansom Walk, 627-4407) will be holding one of the more intriguing ideas in the area Sunday: a contest. At halftime, patrons can work out their frustration or show their glee by participating in Waldo's field-goal-kicking contest.
You can march outside and do your best imitation of Luis Zendejas, and not have to deal with Buddy Ryan if your kick looks more like a skipping stone than a soaring missile. Inside, a free stadium-style buffet with hot dogs, sauerkraut, pretzels and other food will give you plenty to work off at halftime.
In East Falls, Bill Murphy's Irish Saloon, a.k.a. "The Saloonery" (3335 Conrad St., 844-9683), always draws one of the most vibrant crowds anywhere. This year, the Saloonery's official special party starts earlier and ends later than most others, creating an atmosphere that perhaps helps to define the attitude of this neighborhood bar. From 3 to 11 p.m., men will pay $30 and women $20 to enjoy an open bar and a hot-and-cold buffet.
No listing of the city's Super Bowl gathering places would be complete without O'Neals (611 S. Third St., 574-9495), off South Street. This Irish bar with universal appeal is about as user-friendly as it gets. This year, O'Neals' free buffet entrees will include roast pork and sausage and peppers. Five televisions are spaced throughout the two-story bar, and they will be turned up loud. And we don't mean just loud. We mean LOUD.
In New Jersey, what more appropriate place to head than Ron Jaworski's Eagles' Nest Country Club (Woodbury and Glassboro Roads, Deptford, 609-464-0535)? The former Eagles quarterback will be the host for his two- story restaurant's second annual Super Bowl party. Jaws promises that three or four of his old teammates will be on hand. Several Eagles cheerleaders also are expected. Last year, more than 1,000 people stopped by.
Six 6-by-8-foot television screens and several monitors will beam the game to patrons who pay $10 for an open bar serving beer, wine and soda; $40 gets partygoers an open bar and a buffet that includes prime rib and shrimp.
A bar that always leaps to mind for primo jock-watching is either of the Sportsters (980 W. DeKalb Pike, King of Prussia, 265-7427, or Grant Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard in the Northeast, 677-0770). These taprooms are decorated in a way that makes you feel as if you've walked into the world's largest athletic time capsule.
In addition to eight TV screens in King of Prussia and 12 in the Northeast, Sportsters will offer special beer prices and free munchies. There also will be a prize drawing every 30 minutes, Cincinnati and San Francisco sports jerseys for sale and a locker-room motif.
On the Main Line, at Smokey Joe's (212 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, 687-4087), for $10 in advance ($15 at door), the suburban Smokey's sets up an open bar and buffet. "We get a good crowd, an older crowd, not so much of the college crowd," said bartender Jimmy Ryan about the annual pigskin pigout. Five color
TVs and a pair of 6-by-8-foot screens ensure there won't be a bad seat in this house.
A little ways down Lancaster Avenue is the Main Lion (Old Eagle School Road and Lancaster Avenue, Strafford, 688-2900), which is dispensing 16 ounces of its draft beer for the cost of a regular 12-ouncer ($1.50 to $2.50, depending on brand). This spacious club's popular Monday-night football fare of hot dogs, soft pretzels, peanuts and other munchies at no-frills prices also will be served. A trio of 6-by-8-foot screens will project the game.
It may be hard to find, but once you walk through the door of Delaware County's Ponderosa Tavern Marina (the end of Swarthmore Avenue in Ridley Park, 521-1215), the bargains are easy to spot. Famed for its daily specials, Pondo's will not sack you Sunday for its beer prices. Pitchers will be $3.50 and a complimentary hot-and-cold buffet - featuring meatball sandwiches, a variety of lunch meats and your basic salt-enhanced edibles - will await the intrepid bar-stool quarterbacks.
And important to a list of Super Bowl parties is the eighth annual Anti- Super Bowl Party thrown by Montserrat (623 South St., 627-4223). Although this event may seem positively Grinchlike to many fans, Montserrat has hit upon an idea that holds a certain appeal. There are no gridiron groupies gridlocking around buzzing TVs, no loud cheers and jeers, absolutely no news of the game whatsoever.
"We get a lot of people, mostly regulars," said Tony Hoard, a manager, who adds that some people really get into not getting into the game. ''Sometimes people come dressed in (football) uniforms, and there's a lot of picture-taking. People really enjoy themselves."