Burger Bowl

by Mary Tutwiler

We rate the three Bs for Super Bowl in the bars: Big Screens, Burgers and Beer.

There are two kinds of sports fans in the world. Those who invite friends over to watch the game on their own TV, and those who would rather cheer in the camaraderie of barflies. While home has some advantages ' comfortable sofas for beer-induced naps being pretty high on the list ' Lafayette's sports bars boast big-screen TVs, dozens of varieties of domestic and imported beer, Cajun-seasoned burgers and the opportunity to hang out with other sports fanatics. We can't root for the Saints this Sunday, but with Louisiana native Peyton Manning in the Big Show Feb. 4, how 'bout dem Colts?

Some of Lafayette's best sports bars will be open Super Bowl Sunday, so we went searching for the holy trinity in sports bars: Big Screens, Burgers and Beer. Here's our wholly subjective list of favorites.

One of Lafayette's oldest sports bars, Pete's On Johnston has something for everyone. With nine 42-inch big screen TVs and 22 smaller sets, there's not a spot in the restaurant where you can't see the game. The big screens are high definition, but unless Lafayette CBS affiliate KLFY and Cox Cable end their standoff ("I Want My HDTV," Jan. 17) expect a standard digital picture. It takes years to build the sort of character Pete's has developed with its dark-in-the-daytime ambiance and lots of cozy seating. Pete's is famous for its burgers, the Big Pete, $4.50, and for smaller appetites, a Lil' Pete, $2.99. Grilled onions are a nice extra. Pete's has my favorite sides, fried dill pickles and irresistible home-made potato chips that arrive in a big basket. There are 31 varieties of bottled beers; domestics go for $2.75, and imports are $3.50. The restaurant and bar is non-smoking and will open at 11 a.m.

Marley's Sports Bar downtown is a big cavern of a place that holds a roaring crowd especially during LSU games. The 42-inch plasma screens ' 10 of them ' are brand new, and an additional 16 screens ' including eight 60-inch large screens ' line the walls. Marley's tops the beer brigade with 65 varieties. Domestics are $3, imports $3.50, and the Beer of the Month, Honey Brown from High Falls Brewing Co. in New York, will set you back $2.75. Its meaty Big Burger with fries costs $5.50, and the Junior Burger weighs in at $4.50. Smoking is allowed, and Marley's opens at 11 a.m.

My favorite burger came sizzling off of the George Foreman grill at Legends on Bertrand. While every bar seasons its own ground meat, Legend's $5 burger has an extra spicy kick, as well as crisp lettuce and tomato for salad heads. There are four big screens at Legends ' two 40-inch, one 46-inch, and one 32-inch. Eight smaller screens, including two outside on the patio, make Legends the place for a fair weather game. They stock 35 kinds of beer ' domestics go for $2.50, and imports are $3. The small bar allows smoking and will open at noon.

Originally built in 1905 to house Bank of Lafayette, the elegant martini bar as well as the larger sports bar at Jefferson Street Pub opens at 3 p.m. for the game. The two adjoining bars host six 42-inch plasma screen TVs, one 58-inch plasma screen, five 20-inch LCD screens and four 27-inch standard TVs. Jefferson Street Pub is one of the few bars with beer on tap. It will have Blue Moon, Abita Amber and a rare brew, Abita Andygator, which boasts a 9 percent alcohol content, for $4.75. Specials will include imports for $2.75, domestics at $2.25. Its burgers, $6.25, come on kaiser rolls with fries.

The Green Oaks may not be everyone's idea of a great bar; it's dark, and the air reeks of frying fat. But if you are looking for an old-fashioned pool hall where the smoke lingers and the $4.25 burgers are too big for any one person to eat, this is your place. There is one 52-inch big screen and four 27-inch standard TV sets scattered around. Beer is a bargain at the Green Oaks; Coors Lite on tap goes for $1.50, domestics cost $2, imports are $3. The burgers are astonishing. The seasoned meat patty is bigger than the bun and deliciously sloppy. The bar opens at noon.

We would be remiss in our sports bar list without mentioning The Bulldog. Ask any Lafayette natives where they had their first beer, and they'll often grin and fess up it was at the battered college bar on General Mouton. With eight 62-inch screens and another eight 20-inch TVs, it's easy to view the game from booths, the bar and over the foosball commotion. The Bulldog's notorious burgers are $1 on Wednesdays, $3 the rest of the week. The best buy normally at the Bulldog is a pitcher on tap (about four beers worth) for $7, but Super Bowl Sunday, Shilling Distributing will be giving away free beer. And we all know how much football fans love those two words.