The Seahawks open their 2019 season hosting the Cincinnati Bengals at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday, which raises the eternal NFL Sunday question: To watch at home or to watch in public at a bar?
To help make that decision, let’s first consider what you need in order to properly watch NFL football (aside from, you know, the ability to intellectually compartmentalize entertainment and post-concussion player outcomes). As a diehard football watcher for more than 30 years now, I believe I know what I need: beer, a big TV, people to watch the game with and football food like nachos or wings or something deep-fried.
Hmm. Wait a minute. You know where they already have ALL of those things? Bars. Well, that settles it. That was a short debate.
Hold on. Now that I think of it, there are some pretty compelling reasons to watch at home, too. Bars cost more than buying beer at the store and watching at home. And at bars you don’t get to hold the remote, so you can’t flip through the channels during commercials. And you have to actually wear pants at a bar, which you don’t have to at home. And bars don’t have recliners.
Oh. This is a little harder decision than I realized. I guess it comes down to your mood on game day. If you want to relax and maybe take a second-quarter nap without anyone else in the room becoming alarmed, you probably should watch at home. But if you want the unique thrill of joining dozens or even hundreds of strangers in a common purpose for about four hours, you should go to the bar.
A strong case can be made either way. At home there’s comfort. At the bar there’s excitement. At home there’s the couch. At the bar there’s 20 beers on tap. At home you make your own nachos. At the bar they make them and bring them to you. At home there’s your dog and your kids. At the bar there’s the chance to high-five a stranger because you’re both so overcome with sports-fan euphoria. They’re both good. Just different.
I usually end up doing a little of each as the 17-week season goes on. Fortunately, we have plenty of good spots at which to watch games, a point made crystal clear when I asked the SCENE section Facebook fans where they like to watch. We got 13 different answers: The Pub of Yakima, Mickey’s Pub, Yakima Steak Company, Sports Center, Tailgaters Bar & Grill in Selah, Second Street Grill, Jack-Sons Sports Bar, West Valley Tavern, Bill’s Place, Gold Creek Station near Naches, The Warehouse Sports Bar and Grill, Hop Nation Brewing Company and Buffalo Wild Wings in Union Gap.
Of those, seven were mentioned by two or more people: Sports Center, Bill’s, Tailgaters and Second Street each got two mentions; Yakima Steak Company and The Pub got three; and Gold Creek Station near Naches got four.
Let’s focus on those seven, starting with the one that got the most mentions:
■ Gold Creek Station, 18431 State Route 410 near Naches, www.goldcreekstation.com
If you’re surprised Gold Creek Station ranked so high with our commenters, you haven’t been there for a game. It’s out of the way, sure. And it’s got a rustic atmosphere with animal heads on the wall. But it’s also got a bunch of big TVs, a full bar and a solid menu of hearty food, including great breakfasts for those 10 a.m. games.
■ The Pub of Yakima, 5110 Tieton Drive, www.facebook.com/ThePubOfYakima
This one seems obvious. There’s an expertly curated 16-tap beer selection along with a full bar and game-day specials. Plus there are plenty of TVs and a great shuffleboard table to keep you busy during halftime.
■ Yakima Steak Company, 221 W. Yakima Ave., www.yakimasteakco.com
I must confess, I’ve never watched a game here. It just didn’t occur to me that a steakhouse would be the place. But if you stop and think abou it for a minute, it makes perfect sense. There’s a big lounge, The Whiskey Saloon, with big TVs. They’re open for breakfast on weekends for those early games. And they’ve got real food, not just bar food, which can be a nice change of pace for football watching. I mean, tell me you wouldn’t enjoy an 8-ounce sirloin and eggs for breakfast while watching football. Or steak Oscar during a night game.
■ Yakima Sports Center, 214 E. Yakima Ave., www.sportscenteryakima.com
This is my most frequent personal go-to spot. The beer selection is always fantastic. The bloody mary is always tasty. And they put the game on a big pull-down projection screen as well as on several TVs. There’s even a “Seahawks room” decked out in blue and green with memorabilia all over the walls. And the food is a cut above standard bar fare.
■ Bill’s Place, 206 S. Third Ave.; www.facebook.com/BillsPlaceTav
A decade ago Bill’s was a great divey neighborhood bar. Now it’s cleaner and has better food and is just a great neighborhood bar. It has one of the best beer selections in town and a huge pull-down screen for watching the game in the dining room or several TVs for watching in the bar. Plus the Wimpy Burger is one of Yakima’s best bar-food bargains.
■ Tailgaters Bar & Grill, 110 E. Third Ave. in Selah; www.facebook.com/TailgatersBarGrill
This is the only one on the list that’s really a dedicated sports bar. There are 14 big screen TVs, and they’ve got NFL Sunday Ticket and the Pac-12 Network, so you can go for non-Seahawks games too. The food is a mix of bar fare and new takes on hearty American classics. And the beer selection, like a lot bars here in the heart of hop country, is impressive and varied.
■ Second Street Grill, 28 N. Second St., www.secondstreetgrill.com
While not explicitly a sports bar like Tailgaters, the bar area of this downtown restaurant is very much a sports bar. There are big TVs everywhere you look and a 24-tap draft-beer selection as well as a full bar. Plus biscuits and gravy is only $8, which makes a pretty good case for this being the spot for early games.