The End Zone is an upscale alternative to the average sports-bar experience
When you talk about sports bars, the first images that come to mind might be those of big-screen TVs, memorabilia on the walls, lots of beer on tap and tasty pub grub. There are a number of establishments in town that fit the bill, but few are as satisfying as the End Zone.
I used to live practically across the street from the former Brew House (the street sign has yet to be updated) and frequented the bar when I felt like having a drink or some good, old-fashioned eats in an environment not overrun by rowdy college students. The beer on tap is always fresh and, surprisingly for a sports bar, the wine is also quite good.
During past visits, I’d tried the chicken strips ($7.99), which are predictably nice and crunchy, and the garlic fries ($4.49), also good. My all-time favorite meal there, however, has to be the house special, fish and chips ($10.49). The fish is consistently fried to perfection, and four pieces is more than enough for one meal. The chips/fries are hit or miss, sometimes arriving fresh and crunchy and other times seeming as if they’ve been fried in old fryer grease. The deliciousness of the fish, however, offsets any disappointment I’ve experienced with the chips.
I should mention that my boyfriend, Josh, is a certified burger nut. His standby at the End Zone is the Double Header ($9.99), two patties with bacon and cheese, served with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayo. The End Zone’s burgers are among the best in town, he attests.
On a recent visit, Josh and I decided to switch things up, at least a little bit. From the Warm Ups section of the menu, we started out with the Hat Trick (a choice of three appetizers for $8.79). We chose the Gridiron Brats, Thunder Sticks and onion rings from a list that also includes jalapeño poppers and chicken strips.
Our perky server, Maggie, brought out our appetizer plate promptly. It was overflowing with onion rings, which were cooked perfectly—no chewy onion that pulls through the fried ring here. The brats and cheese sticks were also delicious. This was pure pub grub at its best.
My appetite isn’t what it used to be, so I concentrated on the Hat Trick and ordered my standby fish and chips, eating a few chips—fresh and crunchy this time—before boxing the rest to go. Josh tried something new, the End Zone Dog ($6.59), a large, flame-grilled, all-beef hot dog. He chose to top it with chili rather than the traditional sauerkraut or relish. The result was mouth-watering. I took one bite and immediately felt as if I was at a ball game, despite the nippy weather outside.
In addition to top-notch grub and a full bar, the End Zone has a number of large and small television screens (what good sports bar doesn’t?), and even has a separate room and a patio for alternate viewing on the big screen.
What really sets the End Zone apart from the other sports bars in town, however, aside from physically being distant from downtown and the college crowd, is its ambiance. The long wood bar and combination of bar tables and traditional tables, in concert with the minimalist-memorabilia décor, makes the place feel more upscale than some of the other local establishments, even when a big game (March Madness, anyone?) brings out the sports nuts.