In 2006, just as LT was on his historic touchdown record run, my wife and I moved away from San Diego and ended up in Portland, Oregon. Besides learning how to not despair with a 7 forecast of solid showers we also had to root for the Bolts in very different environment. Thankfully the Chargers were good enough at the time that we got played on national TV often, but I spent some games following the score on the ticker. That my friends is a shitty way to watch football, game tracker on NFL.com doesn’t cut it. I didn’t know anyone else who was a Chargers fan.
In 2009 when the Bolts were 2-3 and suffering from another slow start thanks to the coach I am not allowed to name. I was wearing a Chargers hat while shopping at a Portland Trader Joes when a guy called me over. “Hey Chargers fan…You watch games at Claudia’s sports pub?” I had no idea what he was talking about but he told me this was where Chargers fans watched the games. You see, I don’t drink and, as silly as it may sound to some, I never thought about a Sports bar.
Luckily it was near my place, so that Sunday I went to Claudia’s for the first time. Well you know what happened next? Rivers and LT led the Bolts on a killer 11 game winning streak, and I thought they couldn’t lose while I was at the bar. With the games on a massive screen with around 30 or 40 Chargers fans each week, I was impressed by the support of the team and the atmosphere. Our 2009 record for number of fans was 62. All in Blue and Gold. I loved the game like atmosphere. Everyone clapped and high-fived on every positive play, we yelled and cheered together. I loved it, made life-long friends and watched every game at Claudia’s through the 2013 season.
Claudia’s Sports pub is one of Portland’s oldest sports bars, going back to the 50’s. In the morning, it is a Bears bar, in the afternoon it was almost always Bolts dominated. Mostly San Diego Ex-pats but more than a couple of fans of the team were converts who enjoyed the atmosphere.
I hated missing games with the crew and for those of you in other cities who have a Chargers bar, consider yourself lucky. If you don’t already have a Chargers bar, why not start one? Claudia’s is actually one of two Chargers bars in Portland, and it was all started by two guys. I’ve done my best research on Charger bars around the country. I am not positive this information is all up to date. I have also included some ideas for starting a Chargers bar in part two.
Considered by many to be the best Chargers bar/experience outside of the 619 is in the lower Haight of San Francisco. Danny Coyle’s is the place. Also known as a Seahawks bar, all you have to do is read the Yelp reviews to see this is Charger country north. One Yelp review said “Such a great place for Chargers fans to call a home away from home. Nothing like hearing the San Diego Chargers theme song play every time a touchdown is scored and having the whole bar sing along in excitement. Honestly, I have more fun watching the Bolts at Danny Coyle’s than I do back in San Diego.” Sounds like a challenge, San Diego!
668 Haight St San Francisco, CA 94117 b/t Pierce St & Steiner St in Lower Haight
New York City:
MJ Armstrong’s The internet has conflicting info on this bar. It appears to still be open. At one time MJ Armstrong’s had a drink and food specials menu that included dishes named after Charger greats and the Bolts Stadium. They also had a DJ who played Chargers songs on scores.
329 1st Ave New York, NY 10003 b/t W Stuyvesant Loop & 19th St in Stuyvesant Town, Gramercy
I have heard great things about Chicago’s Chargers scene. Here is what I know. They have an active FB group with more than 150 members and a legendary bar. I am told they have prizes and play the Chargers fight song on touchdowns.
Crossroads Public House, 2630 North Clark Street (at Wrightwood), Chicago, Illinois 60624 – 773.248.3900
According to several reports Las Vegas has a strong Bolts fan base. There used to be a place called Michael’s pub that closed. When I put out a request several fans wrote back including Chris Jimenez of Las Vegas “There is a Facebook page called Vegas Chargers Bolts. The lady who runs it gets us all together. There is about 40-60 She buys prizes and gives them out.” The two rumored bars are Al’s is in Henderson near Green Valley Ranch Station and 7777 bar.
7777 W Sahara Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89117
Seattle has an active Chargers fan base in Seattle with a Facebook group. They have been looking for a bar to call home. Gerald Simonsen owner of the Iron Bull wants to work with Chargers fans to make that happen. When he bought the bar he didn’t know he inherited a Bears bar. “We have people who drive 100 miles on sunday morning to watch the Bears play. We can have up to 200 folks in the joint. We have two 12 foot projection TVs and maybe 20 regular flat screens,” Simonsen told Bolt Blitz. In Portland, Chargers and Bears shared a bar with few conflicts. Simonsen wants to work with Chargers fans to make it a Chargers bar as well. “I have been trying to get a Charger crowd in the Iron Bull since I bought the place. If we started to get a good crowd, I would buy another projector and screen and set up a Chargers corner. We can play songs on the sound system, show any video that will work on the computer on the big screen or anything else anyone wants. Every Chargers game on the big screen where there is no conflict.”
Iron Bull 2121 N 45TH St, Seattle Wa 98103
Various Bars Rumored to be Bolt Friendly:
Posse’s Sports Bar, 1212 S. Baldwin Avenue in Arcadia, California
Goldrush Saloon, 3399 Pegar Road in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Handlebar and Grill, 19345 N. Indian Avenue, Palm Springs, California.
Connolly’s Bar & Grill, – 2605 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, Arizona 85085. (LT Mural on the wall, ha-ha)
OC (Fox Sports) Fox Sports Grill, 31 Fortune Drive, in the Irvine Spectrum, Irvine, California.
Spectators (Albuquerque) 5850 Eubank Blvd., NE, #59, New Mexico Phone 505-275-1166
Damon’s Bar and Grill in Pittsburgh They always play Chargers games in a bar owned by a ex-Charger Cheerleader.
The Dark Horse Sports Bar 4929 W. Ray Rd. #3, Chandler, Arizona, 85226, (480) 753-4772
Sideliners Grill in San Antonio Texas Tx.
Sportsman’s Grill Williamsburg, VA
Cities/Regions with Facebook or online groups for Chargers fans.
Portland: Facebook: San Diego Chagers fans PDX
Seattle: Facebook: San Diego Chargers fans of Seattle
Chicago: Facebook Chi-town Chargers backers
LA: Facebook Los Angeles Area Chargers fans
Las Vegas: is supposed to have a Facebook group but I couldn’t find one.
Austin, Texas: facebook.com/ SanDiegoChargerFansinAustin
Bay area meet-up group : meetup.com/South-Bay-San-Diego-Chargers-Fans/
In Part two we will discuss how to create a Chargers bar in your City!
David Agranoff is a die-hard Chargers fan and the author of 3 published horror fiction novels including the Vegan Revolution…With Zombies, Hunting the Moon Tribe and Boot Boys of the Wolf-Reich. Follow him on Twitter @DAgranoffauthor