Raising the sports bar

The best places to go in the city centre for athletics and alcohol

Melody Morrissette

Looking for somewhere other than your basement to watch the game, eat unhealthy snacks and knock back a cold one or four? Look no further than downtown Winnipeg’s top three sports-themed watering holes.

3. Tavern United MTS Centre, 260 Hargrave Street

The Uniter’s sports staff recently chose this two-story lounge to wrap up our season and catch the Oilers-Red Wings game.

Tavern United scores highest on atmosphere: The overall look of the place is laid back and welcoming, and the placement of their TVs requires little neck-craning.

It scores lowest on service. On a Tuesday with only a few customers in the building the service was still slow, and we did become a bit impatient waiting for our food more than once.

While we’re talking about food, Tavern does it well, but not well enough for me to call anything highly addictive. Their music selection is an improvement, as long as it comes from a CD and not from long-haired men butchering Nickelback songs live. Go to the Tavern if all you want to do is kick back with a beer or play VLTs on the second floor, but don’t expect anything spectacular.

In the summer, they also open up their roof which provides a great atmosphere for a couple of drinks with friends.


2. Rinkside Restaurant & Bar, 350 Portage Avenue

Nine-month-old Rinkside might be too upscale for patrons who are apt to get into a drunken brawl over the Alberta rivalry, but everyone else will be pleasantly surprised by its minimalist décor and extensive selection of starters, entrées, and drinks. Four flat-screen TVs showing two different games are planted around the bar, but some straining is required to see them.

Drop by on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday nights for $0.30 Wing Night, and come around to watch the Moose game and enjoy Rinkside’s version of Bud, spud and steak (steak sandwich, fries, and Moosehead beer) for only $10.

Staff and patrons alike make Rinkside feel like a classier version of Cheers, as my fellow drinkers Matt and Cecil said. They lose some points for minimal sports memorabilia, the ketchup-like smell in the skywalk entrance and the doorless women’s restroom, but my overall experience there was worth it.

1. BP’s Lounge, 66-33 St. Mary Avenue

This offshoot of Boston Pizza makes it clear that it’s a place for sports; with Rinkside, only the name is a dead giveaway.

Blue Bombers fans will be especially impressed with the framed Milt Stegall jersey on the wall, which is sadly dwarfed by the Don Cherry suit placed higher on the adjacent wall.

BP has the most effective arrangement of TV screens, with four above the bar and another four in the corners of the room, showing four channels at a time.

My server, Ben, was friendly enough to ask me if there was a particular game I felt like watching (Ben also mixes the smoothest rye and Cokes in town – props to Ben.)

While the bacon-and-cheddar pizza I sampled wasn’t quite as delicious as normally expected from Boston Pizza, I’m not a huge fan of thin crust, so that’s probably why.

But if you are wanting to watch a game with your friends in the midst of good drinks and good pizza, this is a great place to go.


Published in Volume 63, Number 26 of The Uniter (April 2, 2009)

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