You might think that sports bars in Venice are rare, if not completely non-existent. And to be quite honest, you wouldn't be too far off. After all, Venice Beach hippies don't make time to watch Monday Night Football. They're too busy listening selling hemp bracelets and other trinkets on the Boardwalk. Well, think again, because like neighboring Santa Monica, and other nearby beach towns, Venice is loaded with all types of cool places for watching sports. So let that be a lesson to everyone, never judge a tie-dye by its cover – there just might be a Raiders jersey beneath it.
The Sidewalk Café: Anyone who has taken a stroll down the Venice Boardwalk has seen The Sidewalk Café. It's a great spot to eat while you people watch. That's all good and great (if you're a tourist). But if you travel to the back area, there's also a cool little sports bar that few tourists ever venture into. It's kind of hidden from the general dining area, and most people usually only stumble upon it on their way to the bathroom. So if you ever mosey on down there, you'll be delighted to know that the bartenders are friendly, most of the regulars are die-hard Lakers fans, and just in case you feeling like playing, there's a pool table and arcade games. The bar can get rather cramped on gameday, but with ten TVs – not to mention three flat screens – you won't miss any of the action.
1401 Ocean Front Walk, 90291; 310-399-5547
Danny's: It has the look and feel of an early twentieth century café, with dozens of black and white photos and a retro-looking bar that's reminiscent of a Prohibition-era speakeasy – not quite what you'd expect from a sports bar. But on Sundays, Danny's in Venice is the place to watch football. That's when you can $4 Mimosas and Bloody Marys until 3 p.m., andwww.dannysvenice.com.
23 Windward Ave., 90291; 310-566-5610
Cabo Cantina: From the Raiders and Lakers, to UFC and boxing, if it's a game, match, or fight, Cabo Cantina in Venice will be playing it. The atmosphere is very casual and beach-y – meaning sandals are highly encouraged – and there's a beautiful upstairs patio area with a pristine view of the ocean. The margaritas are enormous and strong – two of them will do the average drinker in – and their menu boasts some of the best tacos in L.A. Order the chicken nachos if you're looking to change it up a bit. Just be sure to have at few extra eaters on hand to share them with. Otherwise you'll be bringing home a doggie bag.
30 Washington Blvd., 90292; 310-306-2500
Nikki's: Walk into Nikki's on Market Street and your first thought will probably be, “This isn't a sports bar!” Indeed, Nikki's does have the slick, modern look of a Hollywood nightclub – not quite the ideal setting for a bunch of beer-drinking football fans. But hey, it's Venice. What do you expect? Nikki's does, however, manage to maintain a chill, relaxed atmosphere, even during the games. Put it this way, you won't find a bunch of loud, drunk people piled up on top of one another when the Lakers are on. So that always helps.
72 Market St., 90291; 310-450-3010