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Naples to Pensacola: Check out these 7 popular Florida sports bars for watching football

EntertainmentNaples to Pensacola: Check out these 7 popular Florida sports bars for watching football

The pspanndemic is over, people are meeting in person again for events. So there’s never really been a better time to watch football with others outside the home.

If you didn’t score a ticket to attend the game in person, the next best thing is heading to a sports bar with TVs everywhere you look, cool sports memorabilia throughout and, of course, great food.

Florida has its share of unique spots to cheer for your favorite college or National Football League team, some with a strong affiliation to a U.S. region or certain teams.

Plenty of national sports bar chains fill the Sunshine State. But there’s also more local spots that serve up a fun atmosphere and tantalizingly awesome food and drinks.

We asked journalists from throughout Florida to offer their favorite football spots, the places they’d take out-of-town guests to watch the big game.

Here’s seven to check out if you’re ever in these towns.

Foxboro Sports Tavern

Patriots fans cheer for their team during Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, February 4, 2018 at Foxboro Sports Tavern in Naples.

This Boston-themed “bah” may not be a place where everyone knows your name, but many know the owner of Foxboro: Thom Popoli Jr.

A New Englander himself from Leominster, Massachusetts, and Brattleboro, Vermont, Popoli has created somewhat of a Boston sports museum. Pennants and photos of New England legends adorn the interior where the Boston teams are always on, depending on the season.

Popoli and his family opened Foxboro in 2003 and it’s about impossible to find a seat during big games, including Sundays or Monday nights when the New England Patriots football is playing. 

Sep 18, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws a pass during the third quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

And how about when the Pats play in the Super Bowl? 

“We sold out Monday morning before we opened the doors. There was a line out the door,” said Popoli, referring to Jan. 22, 2018, the day after the Patriots defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars to win a trip to Super Bowl LII.

He charged $35 per ticket to attend the game in the bar, which included an event T-shirt and cocktail. And it sold out fast. 

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As for the food, the menu is filled with Beantown favorites such as New England clam chowder, lobster bisque, shepherd’s pie, the Hartford Whaler fish sandwich (in deference to the former NHL team), New England pot roast and New England lobster roll.

For dessert, options include The Boston Brownie (homemade chocolate brownie topped with hot fudge, vanilla ice cream, chocolate and caramel sauce) and The Big Papi (named for the former Red Sox star), which is one extra large chocolate chunk cookie topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

200 South Bar and Kitchen

Kick off the football season in Pensacola with good beer, great food and plenty of big screens.

At 200 South Bar and Kitchen, the bar and its patrons take their football seriously. During football season, 200 South and its sister restaurant, Graffiti Pizza, put up a large screen between their patios and temporarily conjoin for the weekend lineup of college and NFL games on Saturdays and Sundays.

It’s not just a weekend affair. Fans can find their favorite teams playing on any of the 22 televisions located inside the bar on Monday and Tuesday nights.

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On tap, there are 50 beers handpicked by the product manager and an additional 450 bottled beers available, plus tavern-style food to keep hunger at bay during games. That’s a sizeable offering and may remind some of another bar called World of Beer. That’s because 200 South Bar and Kitchen is owned and operated by the franchise founders.

The bar started as a World of Beer in 2012 when founders Matt LaFon and Scott Zepp sold their majority share of the business and negotiated to open a franchise here in their hometown of Pensacola. 

World of Beer offers more than 50 rotating beers on tap, as well as over 450 bottled beers.

The bar was rebranded as 200 South Bar and Kitchen in 2022 and is part of a family of three other bars and restaurants located on the same block collectively called 200 South.

The other three bars include an upscale cocktail bar called Blend Lounge, a taco and tequila bar called Taco Agave and a pizza joint that features an outside bar called Graffiti Pizza.

The best part? Each bar is connected, giving patrons the convenience of experiencing each place without having to leave the building. 

Daytona’s Original First Turn 

First Turn in Port Orange.

First Turn in Port Orange is an ideal spot for those who enjoy cheering on their team or favorite driver. Being one of the largest restaurants and bars in the area, with more than 15 TVs and the NFL Sunday Ticket, all are welcome to watch any race and matchup.

If football season takes up most of your weekends, be sure to get First Turn’s bloody Mary and mimosa specials on Saturday and Sunday. And if it’s a weekday game, a sandwich and fries are only $10 along with other happy hour deals Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

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Strings Sports Brewery 

Strings Sports Brewery is on Main Street in Springfield.

Look no further than the beer taps to see how much the Strings folks appreciate Jacksonville’s sports history. You’ll find a Red Cspanps Ale, named for a Jacksonville team  that played in the Negro American League, and a Bullet Bob hazy IPA that memorializes “Bullet Bob” Hspanyes, who grew up not far from the bar and is the only person to win an Olympic gold medal, a Super Bowl ring and a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Sep 17, 2022; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Kendall Milton (2) rushes behind the blocking of Georgia Bulldogs offensive lineman Broderick Jones (59) in the first quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The scoreboard that hung for decades in Jacksonville’s Klutho Pspanrk hangs in the bar and there are basketball hoops out back, just in case you can’t find anything to watch on the 17 TV screens. The menu is mostly bar fare with a Southern twist. Strings has become a Georgia Bulldog fan hangout on Saturdays, and Jaguar fans pack the place on Sundays.

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Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill

Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill is at 1320 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.

Located across from the Tampa Bay Rays’ Tropicana Field, Ferg’s is a St. Petersburg landmark that opened in 1992 and helped pave the way for the city’s booming Central Avenue district that now surrounds the massive sports bar. A mostly open-air structure covering nearly two city blocks, Ferg’s features about a hundred TVs, a bunch of bars including one upstairs, a full menu, and everything from a stage for live music, to an axe-throwing area, to a dog park. Yeah, it’s the perfect place to have a great time regardless of how your team performs, especially if you pair your favorite cocktail or beer with Ferg’s famous wings. They’re breaded and crispy, spicy yet buttery, and easily among the most delicious wings you’ll find in the region.

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MVP — My Village Pub

The MVP - My Village Pub is located in the heart of Siesta Key Village. Photographed on Friday, June 28, 2109. [Herald-Tribune staff photo / Thomas Bender]

Located less than a mile from the sugary white sands of world-famous Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, MVP occupies prime real estate in the heart of bustling Siesta Key Village. You’ll find 35-plus TVs spread across the indoor and outdoor bar and dining areas where you can watch the game or perhaps just check out the people strolling down Ocean Boulevard. MVP also serves tasty pub grub including the freshly baked Big Daddy Pretzel, B.L.T dip, char-grilled (or fried) wings and burgers such as their inspired rendition of a Big Mac. Plus, while you’re visiting MVP be sure to visit its surrounding sister businesses including The Cottage restaurant mentioned this year in the Wall Street Journal and one of Florida’s most legendary nightspots, the 75-year-old and still wildly popular Beach Club. 

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Time Out Sports Bar Plus

Time Out Sports Bar Plus in Cocoa Village has a spacious, covered patio and lots of TVs.

With more than 40 television sets inside and out, sports fans won’t have trouble finding a seat with a view of the game at Time Out Sports Bspanr Plus. Located in quaint historic Cocoa Village on Florida’s Space Coast, Time Out has two large bars, one inside and one out. There’s plenty of seating on the covered front patio, and even more at high-top tables inside. Looking to warm up a cool fall evening? Score a place at one of the fire tables.

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Time Out’s menu has all the sports bar staples you’d expect: wings, burgers and nachos. But the chef takes things up a notch with dishes such as red pepper hummus, a Cuban flatbread pizza with pulled pork and yellow mustard and Voodoo chicken and shrimp served over cilantro lime rice pilaf.

Watching an early game on Saturday or Sunday? Belly up to the Build-Your-Own-Bloody Mary Bar between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and create a morning cocktail with garnishes such as waffles, bacon, shrimp and boiled eggs.

Time Out also has a large banquet room and onsite catering for special events.

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