By Arthur Bovino
Americans sure love sports. Seen the commercial where the guy walks through his house, pausing the high-
tech TV in every room so as not to miss a single play? That meticulous dedication to every pass, shot, and hit
has been applied to creating sports-themed restaurants across the U.S.
Many restaurants, like Mickey Mantle's, Seau's, Harry Caray's and Ozzies' were obviously started by sports
icons and personalities. But this isn't a list of the best restaurants owned by athletes. Rather, it's a look at
eateries that have taken on all facets of sports or athletic endeavors.
High-definition televisions, projection screens, memorabilia, the ubiquitous spinach and artichoke dip, these are cornerstones of sports-themed eateries. But these 20 sports-crazy restaurants take things to the next level with interactive games, free shuttles to games, hockey sticks hanging overhead like Swords of Damocles, eating challenges -- even a golf ball busting through a restaurant facade.
|Slideshow: Twenty sports-crazy restaurants|
All-Pro former linebacker Junior Seau opened his eponymous 14,500-square-foot restaurant in 1996. The menus are filled with sports backdrops, often randomly. Do you think sushi when you think hockey? Baseball and pizza? The menu features all the fare you'd expect given most athletes' restaurant preferences. There are salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, pasta, grilled fish, and even a sushi lounge. And of course, there are the requisite flat screen TVs: 60 high definition screens and a 12-foot by 14-foot projection screen.
Shula's Steak House
The legendary football coach of the Miami Dolphins achieved perfection in 1972 with an undefeated season and Super Bowl win. The chain of Don Shula's Steakhouse seems to have done pretty well too. There are currently more than 30 restaurants in America, with roughly a third of them in Florida. Menus vary by location, but they include the cuts and steakhouse fare you'd expect. But for linebacker-sized appetites there's a food challenge with its own page and hall of fame: Shula's 48 oz. Club. And if you can tackle 100 of the Shula Cuts (a 48-ounce porterhouse) like Taft Parker did, Coach Shula may even sit with you while you eat it and give you a football to commemorate the occasion.
Murray Bros. Caddy Shack
"Wait," you're saying, "Caddyshack ... Murray ... that Murray?" Yup. Actor Bill Murray and his brothers teamed up to open Murray Bros. Caddyshack at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. (Murray's brother Brian Doyle-Murray co-wrote the movie). When it comes to themes, it accomplishes the hat trick: sport, movie, and celebrity. Décor includes lawn mowers, rakes, pails, kegs, and plenty of sight gags. Puns abound on the menu. Murray family favorite "Sandwedges" include the Double-Bogey Cheeseburger, there are Caddyshakes, and even a "Go Fer" pot roast. Given their Chicago background, you can find Windy City staples like the Chicago Dog and Italian beef sandwich.
Mickey Mantle's Steakhouse
The great Yankee centerfielder teamed up with investors to open his eponymous restaurant on Central Park South between 5th and 6th Avenues. The Mick passed away in '95, but the restaurant lives on, filled with museum-quality memorabilia, and a comprehensive sports video library, as well as rare photos from Mickey's personal collection. At its base, Mickey Mantle's is a steakhouse, featuring pigs in blankets, wedge salad, a "Spring Training" menu (low-carb, low-calorie), steakhouse and side fare, and of course, the ubiquitous spinach dip.
Quaker Steak & Lube
George "Jig" Warren III and Gary "Moe" Meszaros started their Quaker Steak & Lube restaurants in 1974 to "preserve the culture of those old gas stations and high-powered muscle cars." Their "Cook Your Own Steak" restaurants have been giving old muscle cars a permanent home ever since. There are now more than 30 locations in about 15 states across the U.S., and "The Lube" is still rescuing muscle and vintage cars and trucks as well as custom and antique motorcycles. They're hung from the walls and ceilings in each restaurant. As for menu standouts, the Quaker Steak & Lube wings range in heat from a mild 90 Scoville Units to 500,000 with the "Triple Atomic" wings.
Wipeout Bar & Grill
The Wipeout Bar & Grill's two locations in San Francisco (Marin and Fisherman's Wharf) feature, obviously, a surf-themed décor and menu. There's an open patio and outdoor bar, a fire pit, celebrity-signed surfboards, and beach signs. The owners explored the California coast searching for the best surf food and beach shacks to model their menu on. They filled the menus with taquitos, onion rings, fried seafood, burgers, pizzas, tacos, burritos, and plenty of seafood entrées and salads.