In the hot, sticky weather Alexandria has been enduring of late, the signs of impending autumn are easy to miss. But one sure signal is no further away than your television set: Pro and college football are back. From preseason NFL matchups to the university head-to-head battles that start this weekend, the games are plentiful, and finding a good place to watch them is a necessity.
Southside 815, 815 S. Washington St.
The venerable Southside 815 is one of Old Town’s worst-kept secrets when it comes to sports viewing. But while you may not enjoy an intimate, solitary view of your favorite game, the more is indeed the merrier, right? And with Southside’s 13 televisions, you’re sure to get a glimpse of the game you’re there for.
Whatever you decide to order for a main course, be sure to pick up a Boardinghouse Breadbasket for you and your compatriots. A blend of cornbread, biscuits, and other rolls, the breadbasket is Southern comfort food at its best. For an entrée, keep the Southern theme going with some gumbo, blackened catfish, or a vegetable plate with down-home classics like collard greens succotash.
Mason Social, 728 N. Henry St.
The bar at Mason Social just looks like it is ready for sports viewing, any time of the year. And it doesn’t disappoint. While there is a proper dining room at Mason Social, your best bet for football-watching is indeed the bar, which has a plethora of cocktail and beer options — as well as its own menu — for your viewing (and eating) pleasure.
Order up some carnitas nachos to share — topped with carnitas, jalapenos, pepperjack cheese and all the fixins, they’re a party pleaser. (Vegetarians will find good luck ordering these without the meat — the end result is still a hit.) Thirsty? Mason Social maintains a host of rotating craft-beer selections, along with some old standards from Port City, Flying Dog, and other local breweries. If you’re looking to toast to a winning team — or to drown your sorrows — with something a little harder, you could do worse than the Parker Gray, a rye-based concoction mixed with vermouth and bitters.
Mackie’s, 907 King St.
Mackie’s is a lesson in duality. Walk through the bar into the dining room for a hearty dinner, and you’ll find a more classic steakhouse experience. But if taking in a game is what you’re after, darken the door to the foyer-style bar and stay put. The TVs will offer up a selection of games depending on the day’s matchups, and the ambience (and menu) will keep you in place until long after the two-minute warning.
Order up a basket of fries — seasoned jerk-style, Cajun, or with Old Bay — and some Caprese bites to share among friends, and then turn your attention to the drink menu. All your friends are here, from Lagunitas to Founders, as well as local DuClaw and Port City. Looking for something a little heartier to go with your brew? Mackie’s offers up a burger that makes sure you know you’re at a steakhouse; for something off the beaten path, try the Bulgogi hoagie, a Korean-inspired ribeye sandwich.
Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.