TV Networking

TV Networking

Thereโ€™s a difference between a sports bar and a TV bar. In the process of trying to please as many fanbases as possible, the former tends to silo its TVs and therefore its patrons into city-states entirely disinterested in one another.

I prefer a TV bar. A good one has only a few screens carrying even fewer viewing options that, under the right circumstances and with the right event (sporting or otherwise), transforms strangers into friends.

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The Yale School of Music

Every March, NCAA basketball gives us a reason to visit the best TV bars in the area and get to know each other. Side Street in Hamden is one of them. There arenโ€™t an overwhelming number of screens in this mellow and unassuming Quinnipiac outpost off Whitney Avenue, and the clear, architectural delineation between dining area and bar gives those looking for a more food-focused experience a break from those looking to tie one on.

Itโ€™s comfortable, the staff is friendly, and I believe it when they say the wings are award-winning. They have over a dozen beers on tap, most from regional breweries, and an ample selection of spirits for making your standard cocktails. Their food menu centers meat and cheese but has some range to it.

On a recent trip, my friends and I ordered a Patty Melt Burger ($13.99 with cheddar and sauteed onions on grilled rye) and those wings I mentioned earlier. The patty itself wanted a touch more seasoning, but other than that, the food only enhanced the experience. We watched the UConn menโ€™s team advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in nine years, celebrated in chorus with folks across the bar. When everyoneโ€™s watching the same gameโ€”and, okay, especially when itโ€™s UConn in the postseasonโ€”high fives have a way of becoming contagious.

In the season that celebrates upsets and underdogs, consider taking a stool at the kind of place that brings folks together, if only for an evening of basketball. There may be fewer games to choose from at the TV bar, but there may also be more people willing to celebrate (or commiserate) with you when they cut down the nets.

Side Street Grille
15 Dickerman St, Hamden (map)
Daily 4pm-midnight
(203) 407-1539

Written and photographed by Chris Renton.

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