When you imagine classic sports bar foods, there’s a good chance your mouth starts watering at the thought of spicy wings smothered in ranch dressing. Which is why you might be shocked and heartbroken to hear that these are just two of some of the worst foods a long-time New York City bartender says you can order at a sports bar.
Justina N. Catalano, a broadcast journalism student at Brooklyn College who has a decade of experience serving up drinks in NYC bars, says working in the bar and restaurant scene has highlighted some less than savory hospitality habits (here’s one tip: always order a separate glass of water to rinse off utensils). Here are five foods Catalano recommends staying far away from at a sports bar.
Say it ain’t so. The tasty treat many of us associate with sports bars won’t tempt you as much after Catalano explains her reasons for shying away from them at all costs. “Sports Bars are synonymous with wings — most bars even offer a deal on these tasty little guys, especially throughout sporting events, Catalano says. “Keep in mind that with the high volume of the crispy treats comes a few short cuts. They are often pre-cooked and thrown into a greasy, plastic tub. This tub often sits out all day and is then divided into various sauces and reheated as customers order them. From the dingy sink they are thawed out in to the longer than attractive shelf life they maintain, I avoid them at all cost. Rule of thumb at busy sports bars: try to stay away from any thing offered for under $1!”
2) Quesadillas and their condiments
If it comes from a cow and is served at a sports bar, just say no. “If you’re ordering a White-Russian cocktail at a sports bar that usually puts up whiskey and beer, there’s a good chance you’re drinking spoiled milk,” Catalano says. “Unless you’re at a specialty bar that promotes these types of drinks, I would stick with a mixed drink or a cold beer. That also applies to the sour cream on the side of your quesadilla — I wouldn’t trust how long it sat out of the fridge before a bus boy tossed it back in. Not to mention the shredded chicken pieces are usually old, and not handled in the safest ways. The same thoughts can apply when ordering dressings such as ranch or blue cheese.”
3) Exotic Fruit Juices & Purees
Repeat after us: beer, simple liquor, beer. Save your fancy drink orders for bars and lounges that are prepared to serve them up. “Keep in mind that if you’re ordering a martini with lychee puree or requesting pineapple juice with your cocktail, these sticky wonders often sit in a container in the back of a bar shelf,” Catalano says. “Not to mention that they are a fruit fly’s best friend.”
4) Olives/pearl onions/exotic garnishes
They may look cute, but you can just toss those garnishes right onto your napkin after you’re served a drink. “Unless you’re at a craft martini bar of sorts, sports bars don’t exactly keep these garnishes the freshest,” Catalano says. “They aren’t all that commonly used, so the shelf life could consist of months inside a bar refrigerator…stored in a pint glass…often with no lid…topped with a little film of mold. Not to mention all of the cash-touching hands that are grabbing at them.”
5) Any sandwich or food item referring to “Tidbits”
Avoid the cute “T” word at all costs. “Steak tidbit sandwich, chicken tidbit platter — these items often contain less-than-attractive scrap cuts of leftover steak or chicken,” Catalano says. “These scraps are them assembled onto a bun or plate and topped with cheeses and sauces to conceal their minced history. I’ve seen some pretty gnarly storing and handling of these cuts of meat.”
For more food tips, check out Top 10 fast-food restaurant coffee ranked by flavor and 8 late-night food ideas for your wedding after party.
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