In a town of transplants, there is no allegiance to one pro football team. The community is divided. It’s not unheard of to have an Eagles fan living next-door to someone who is rooting for the Giants. You’ll meet folks who love that Football Team from Washington. The Browns, the Bills and the Panthers of course, also have big followings. And like every other town in America it’s easy to find a Steelers, Cowboys, Packers and Raiders fan.
The football season is more enjoyable when you find others that share that same passion. People who cheer when you cheer, moan when you moan.
Now there are plenty of great sports bars with big screens showing multiple games, with fans in all colored jerseys screaming at different times. You’ve been to these places, and you know them by name. But we wanted to find something different.
We set out to build a list of area bars and restaurants that attract followers of certain teams. Each location answered a couple questions about food and beverages and we added our “Game Day” analysis. Our research discovered that the long time Eagles Bar, the Copper Penny, is now closed on Sundays. Plus we found a large group of Giants fans, who at the moment do not have a bar to call their own, but they do have a Facebook page that you can follow for updates.
With only a few exceptions, the establishments on this list want it known that they cater to everyone. They are not officially dedicated to one team over another. The growth of certain crowds happened organically. It is also worth pointing out that since last season was so strange, the unofficial affiliations on this list are based on the 2019 season. It is far too early to tell if the crowds that came out then will return this year.
Break Time Billiards
127 S College Rd, Wilmington, NC 28403
Average number of Steelers fans: 50 to 75
Best Beverage: Beer is always popular but our purple hooters are popular as well.
Best Food: Nachos and we’re known to have the best Reuben in Wilmington.
Game Day: If there is one team in the NFL whose fan base has exploded beyond its own city limits, it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers. Forget about the Cowboys, the Steel Curtain is really America’s football team. Even though many of these fans started their allegiance during the glory days of the 1970s, it would be unfair to say they have jumped on the bandwagon. There have been too many up and down years since then and their devotion has never waned. Break Time Billiards is located in Ten Pin Alley. On Sundays it is a sea of black and yellow. Check out the groups Facebook page.
6400 Carolina Beach Rd #10 2957, Wilmington, NC 28412
Average number of Steelers fans: 75 to 80
Best Beverage: Iron City Beer
Best Food: Our version of the Primanti Brothers Sandwiches
Game Day: The Owners of Joe’s Oasis are from Pittsburgh, and not only have they brought the Terrible Towels to Wilmington, they also brought the food. Their menu reflects the steel city with Primanti Bros sandwiches, pierogies, Islays chipped ham and more. On Sundays, cowbells are ringing in this very boisterous atmosphere.
Shuckin’ Shack Downtown
127 N Front St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Best Beverage: Shack Attack and our many local beers on draft such as Wilmington Brewing Company’s Tropical Lightning.
Best Food: Our shareables such as Cape Fear Nachos, Hangover Fries, Cold Crab Dip, Seafood Trio, Hand Tossed Whole Wings and a dozen (or 3) local oysters served up raw, chargrilled or steamed. Every Sunday during football season, we have Gameday specials that include $1 Raw Oysters and $1.25 Wings. We also serve brunch every Sunday from 10am-2pm with delicious options like Crab Cake Benny, Shrimp N’ Grits, and Mimosa Flights to get everyone fueled up for their favorite team.
Game Day: The restaurant team says, “our owner, Matt Piccinin, is a huge Bengals fan. He grew up around the Cincinnati area and absolutely loves the team. We have the DIRECTV NFL Ticket and 14 TVs with every game on, every Sunday so you never miss a big hit or a touchdown. We welcome all the Bengals fans to make Shuckin’ Shack their home spot for game day.”
SeaWitch Cafe & Tiki Bar
227 Carolina Beach Ave N, Carolina Beach, NC 28428
Best Food: Original Witch Burger
Game Day: Predictions for the Dolphins this year are all over the map. Some are betting the Fins will get a Wild Card berth, others are predicting a season of doom and gloom. It may all come down to how well second year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa plays. If you’re looking for a place to celebrate the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat, then SeaWitch in Carolina Beach is your spot. “We have Dolphin fans on Sunday, probably the biggest bunch around but, alas, that’s not saying much- maybe around 10 people.”said Jenni Pietsch, ” My husband and I are the owners and he’s from Miami and a die hard fan — but we definitely are not a Dolphin bar by any means. SeaWitch is a mixed bag of fans.”
4039 Masonboro Loop Rd Ste 1B, Wilmington, NC 28409
Average number of Browns fans: Depending on the week anywhere from 15 to 40
Best Beverage: Really cold beer, the mugs are kept in an ice cream cooler.
Best Food: Wings and Burgers is what everyone talks about.
Game Day: One of the biggest NFL followings in Wilmington belongs to the Cleveland Browns. Yes, their roster is stacked and Baker Mayfield looks like the real thing, but these Browns Backers have been loyal during even the ugliest of years…. and there have been plenty of ugly years. This year the fan base has a new home. They are moving from the Reel Cafe downtown to the Whiskey Trail off Masonboro Loop Road. The Browns Backers will be upstairs, while other fans are on the main level. Check out the groups Facebook page.
NEW YORK JETS
31 S Front St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Average Number of Jets Fans: 20 to 30
Best Beverage: We have a lot of specialty drinks, probably our most popular are the Husk Sweet Tea, Pirate’s Passion and the Gin-Gin
Best Food: Roudaburger
Gameday: Another year, and it looks like another round of rebuilding for the New York Jets. The Sam Darnold experiment has ended and now it’s time to give Zach Wilson a try. They are in a tough division, and it probably will be a long year. You can experience the highs and lows downtown at the Husk. We are told that Sundays are lively and loud and that there’s a bunch of green and white here. Check out the group’s Facebook Page.
The Lazy Pirate
701 N Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach, NC 28428
Best Beverage: One of our signature cocktails, either the Electric Shark or the Rum Bucket
Best Food: “The rednecker sandwich which is made with Caribbean pulled pork, grilled mac n’ cheese, crispy bacon on Texas toast.”
Game Day: Let’s just get this on the record. We’re going out on a limb: The Buffalo Bills will be playing in the AFC Championship. You heard it here first. This is an impressive roster led by the young arm of Josh Allen. Over the years, a lot of folks have migrated from New York down to the Cape Fear Region. For those who came from upstate, like Rochester, Albany, Troy and of course Buffalo, the Bills are probably their team. Head down to Carolina Beach on game day to find like-minded fans. If you’re driving south the Lazy Pirate will be located on the right…. or to put it in terms you can understand, it is located “Wide Right.” (After 30 years it still feels too soon for that joke. My apologies.)
Goat and Compass
710 N 4th St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Average number of Bears fans: Depends on how the season is going
Best Beverage: Craft Beer, and they are the only full liquor license bar on North 4th Street
Best Food: No food is served
Gameday: With the arrival of rookie Quarterback Justin Fields, Bears fans have something to get excited about this year. They get to watch as he sits on the bench (Andy Dalton has been named the starter.) It has been a while since Chicago has been in contention. If your heart belongs to Da’ Bears, then the Goat and Compass is where you need to be. “It’s amazing how many Chicago fans we have in Southeast North Carolina,” one of the bartenders told us over the phone. “They show up early on in the season, or when they are playing a big divisional rival like the Packers. Hopefully this year they will have a reason to show up in November and December too. ”
Jax 5th Avenue Deli & Ale House
5046 New Centre Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403
Average number of Panthers fans: 80 plus
Best Beverage: Panther’s Punch (a blue shot of liquor)
Best Food: The Legend cold Italian Sandwich, free pickles, Pita pizza or Garbage Pizza
Game Day: To be sure there are a lot of places to watch Panthers games, but the one that keeps getting mentioned on social media is Jax 5th Avenue & Ale House. “This is Panthers country,” one server told us on the phone, “Every Sunday there is a sea of people in jerseys, and trays of shots going all over the place. And then at the end of the game, win or lose, the entire bar sings ‘Sweet Caroline.'”
If you know of another bar or restaurant that caters to a certain fan base please let us know. We’d love to include them on this list. Good luck to everyone’s team this year!