We all love a bit of The Sports™. But where are the decent London bars to watch it? Ones that don’t charge you a fortune to watch the Europa Cup quarter-final, or only serve a certain type of Danish lager? Here’s our hand-picked roundup.
The all-rounder: Greenwood, Victoria
Football. NFL. Boxing. Rugby. You name it, Greenwood probably screens it. Well, it does have about 12 billion screens over two floors (not to mention a couple of stuffed zebra heads). This Victoria-based megapub is classier than your average sports bar; with its space age lighting and mid-century sideboards you wouldn’t be surprised to see Don Draper sipping an old fashioned while watching the Mets here. Greenwood has always been reasonably rammed when we’ve been; book a table, arrive early and get in some sharing platters (pizza, croquettes, buffalo wings). They’re named Get the Ball Rolling, The Gloves are Off and The Whole Nine Yards. Sports references, innit.
Greenwood, 170 Victoria Street, Victoria, SW1E 5LB
Continental vibes: Cafe Kick, Exmouth Market
Footy gets a dose of Continental class at Bar Kick — a decidedly hip hangout scattered with Formica tables, and draped in international football scarves. The drinks are not your usual fare; we have literally ordered a Sidecar here during a Man U match, and the barman didn’t batter an eyelid. When there isn’t a match on, give your wrist a workout on the fussball tables. (Spinning’s cheating by the way, just saying.)
Cafe Kick, 43 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL
After party antics: Porterhouse, Covent Garden
Central London is teeming with sports bars, and frankly we’re not sweet on many (either they force Carlsberg down your throat, or charge a silly entry fee or are generally a bit naff). The Porterhouse is different: this uncannily lofty Irish pub (it has 12 levels!) screens major football, rugby, Wimbledon and the like. The beer options are to be applauded too (try their own oyster stout, or a punchy bottle of Belgian ale). Once the sport’s done and dusted, the real party kicks in, with live bands perched on the mezzanine, belting out feel-good hits. If England (or Ireland) are victorious, start concocting those excuses for not making it into work tomorrow. Oh, and if ice hockey is your jam, The Maple Leaf is literally across the road.
The Porterhouse, 21-22, Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7NA
Community + craft beer: The Clubhouse at Dulwich Hamlet, East Dulwich
An afternoon at Dulwich Hamlet is a must for anyone — football fan or not — and the locals’ self-aware chants should frankly be released as an album. Whether you’re here for post-match pints, or come on a non-game day, The Clubhouse is open seven days a week. Shoot pool while watching sports on the screens, and sipping one of many craft beers on offer (including Edgar Kail Pale Ale, named after the legendary Hamlet forward). Another bar-in-a-stadium that has our seal of approval: Leyton Orient Supporters Club, which is on the money for pre-match raffles, real ale and homemade butties. Actually, it’s one of the friendliest bars we’ve been in, period.
The Clubhouse at Dulwich Hamlet, Edgar Kail Way, East Dulwich, SE22 8BD
No nonsense sports pub: Famous three Kings, Fulham
Often suggested as a rendezvous by footy and rugby fans — especially those who live out west — the Famous Three Kings (F3K if you’re being familiar) is a solid shout for watching the game. Loads of big screens playing major footy, rugby and NFL matches means there’s often a heady atmosphere; throw in a comprehensive drinks menu (gin aficionados in particular will be delighted) and scrummy sharing platters (tacos, wings, pizza) — and you’ve got a sports pub as sports pubs should be. Little wonder it was voted Sports Pub of the Year in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Famous Three Kings, 171 North End Road, Fulham W14 9NL
Cricket central: Sixes Social Cricket, Fitzrovia and Fulham
If there’s a blockbuster cricket tie in the offing, chances are Sixes Social Cricket is screening it in their Fitzrovia and Fulham locations. There are ample TVs, bats dangle from above (cricket bats, not the mammal) and themed cocktails on the menu like the Tea Time (made with Yorkshire Tea Tanqueray). And if you’re despairing at your own team’s performance, prove you can do better by taking to the virtual cricket nets.
Sixes Social Cricket, 170 Great Portland Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 5QB and 18 Farm Lane, Fulham, SW6 1PP
Boutique feels: The Tap In, Elephant and Castle
A cross between a teenager’s bedroom and a bottle shop, The Tap In is a world away from your common or garden football pub: walls scattered with vintage posters and stickers; fridges crammed with exciting beers you actually want to drink; Cuban sandwiches from Miami Bites oozing with cheese. (Oh yeah, they screen football too). This place was formerly the Six Yard Box (a pub-in-a-shipping-container) and it’s marvellous to see how it’s grown without abandoning its roots. Like Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The Tap In, 2 Sayer Street, Elephant and Castle, SE17 1FG
Cosy rugger pub: The Faltering Fullback, Finsbury Park
It may have bicycles dangling from the ceiling, but The Faltering Fullback’s sport of choice is rugby. You’ll have to turn up early for a chance of bagging a seat in this cosy, gimcrack-festooned boozer. But for those who value character over comfort, crowding around the horseshoe bar and craning your neck up at the TVs is all part of the experience. Sink a pint of the Black Stuff, and soak it up with a Thai curry (no Irish stew on the menu here). The pub garden feels more like a mini rainforest, and tends to be inhabited with half of north London, whether the sun’s out or not.
The Faltering Fullback, 19 Perth Road, Finsbury Park, N4 3HB
Another rugby haven: The Cabbage Patch, Twickenham
15 minutes’ walk from both Twickenham Stadium and the home of the Harlequins, it’s little wonder the Cabbage Patch brands itself ‘the most famous rugby pub in the world’. A pit-stop for pre- and post-match pints, it’s also a great sports bar in its own right; make yourself at home among the rugby regalia, order some Cobble Lane charcuterie, and settle in for an afternoon of on-screen rugby. Book a table to avoid scrums.
The Cabbage Patch, 67 London Road, Twickenham, TW1 3SZ
Horsey heaven: Sydney Arms, Chelsea
Racing commentator John McCririck was no stranger to the Sydney Arms, an upmarket boozer which brands itself ‘London’s Racing Pub’. Five screens blare out all the important gee gee races, plus a healthy mix of rugby and football. They do a roaring trade in fizz here (these are horse people. In CHELSEA), and the wine list is more accomplished than most sports bars. On big race days, prepare to be fascinated by the array of fascinators. There’ll be no shortage of tips flying around too. If you win big, celebrate with the £95 bottle of Laurent Perrier rose.
The Sydney Arms, 70 Sydney Street, Chelsea, SW3 6NJ
Look Mum, No Hands!, Old Street
Here’s another establishment with cycles hanging from the ceiling — and this one IS bike related. A coffee shop/repair workshop/merch boutique, Look Mum, No Hands! is one of many cycle cafes peddling — or should that be pedalling (hoho!) — their wares in London. And though this isn’t a sports bar per se, you can watch major cycling events, not least the Tour de France, unfold on a big screen here. They also show cycling documentaries, followed by Q&As. Our first question would be: “How do you fix a puncture again?”
Look Mum, No Hands!, 49 Old Street, EC1V 9HX