Whether you’re in it for the commercials or the actual game, no one should spend Super Bowl Sunday alone and hungry. Myriad bars can help you escape the HD-less hell that is your living room. When picking a Super Bowl bar, you must strike a balance between optimal viewing conditions and outstanding food.
Bulldog Northeast: No longer part of the Bulldog franchise, this separately owned joint is still our preferred Bulldog on gameday. Their nachos are equipped with a killer beef brisket, queso fresco, guacamole, cilantro creme fraiche and more. Can’t decide between the classic Tillamook bacon cheeseburger, the guac-topped Green Marvel or the sweet and spicy, Sriracha-glazed Rooster burger? Order them all slider-style for $4 a pop. (401 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-378-2855, www.thebulldognortheast.com.)
Mac’s Industrial Sports Bar: Mohawks and project managers commingle at this egalitarian watering hole, which has some of the friendliest service around, 27 taps and a massive food menu with surprisingly few misses. Just well-executed bar food. If Mac’s acclaimed Reuben sandwich doesn’t tempt you, try the savory and salty beef brisket French dip loaded up with sautéed mushrooms, gobs of cheese and giardiniera peppers for an extra $1.50. (312 Central Av. SE., Mpls., 612-379-3379, www.macsindustrial.com.)
Pub 819: A fortress of flatscreens hang above the bar at the former Hopkins Tavern, which boasts an array of intriguing burgers including a chorizo/beef combo with shrimp and white wine feta sauce. While the brat burger piled with sauerkraut, caramelized onions and a sweet whiskey mustard is a nice alternative, we couldn’t help eyeballing our neighbor’s juicy red-wine burger, cooked with a port wine reduction. (819 Main St., Hopkins, 952-933-1230, www.pub819.com.)
New Bohemia Golden Valley: Like the original Northeast New Bo, its suburban sibling is a fast casual beer hall with a shrewd 36 craft taps and an affinity for unusual meats (though the gamey rattlesnake, rabbit and jalapeño sausage isn’t as out-there as it sounds). The walls are lined with more TV screens than a NASA control room, and a $25 all-you-can-drink special on select beers runs from 4 p.m. to close on Super Bowl Sunday. (8040 Olson Memorial Highway, Golden Valley, 763-544-1882, www.newbohemiausa.com.)
Red Cow St. Paul: If non-football fans are in your crew, the casual and contemporary Red Cow is a good bet. The beer, wine and burger den is an intimate neighborhood restaurant, but a couple of decently sized, nonintrusive TVs make keeping an eye on the action easy. If you believe in pig as condiment, try the pork belly-topped Royale burger or the prosciutto-adorned Barcelona. (393 Selby Av., St. Paul, 651-789-0545, www.redcowmn.com.)
1029 Bar: If a dingy bar is what you crave, then you’ll reach paydirt here. Since Josh Thoma’s Smack Shack took over the kitchen, 1029 patrons can have their cold beer and eat a talk-of-the-town lobster roll, too. Strategically angled TVs make every seat feel like it’s on the 50-yard line. (1029 NE. Marshall St., Mpls., 612-379-4322, www.the1029bar.com.)
Ray J’s Woodbury: Though its tap list doesn’t hold a candle to the Minneapolis location, the original Woodbury bar and grill is more family-friendly. Their signature drunken sauce full wings are slathered in a tangy, gooey hybrid of buffalo and sesame sauces, while the tastebud-scalding habanero wings will have you breathing cartoon flames, in the best way possible. (9854 Norma Lane, Woodbury, 651-714-2035, www.ray-js.com.)