First, the good news: Santa Clara'sLevi's Stadium is relatively new. But also the bad news: That means the area around it is not as developed as areas near other stadiums, so getting a pre-game drink might mean venturing a little further out. Luckily the Bay Area has plenty of public transportation, so that shouldn't be a problem. Oh, and more good news: These aren't chains and they're actually worth going a little out of the way for. Check 'em out:
Located in Sunnyvale, Faultline Brewing Company offers food, drink and plenty of space to take it all in. If the weather's good, there's even a patio out back. Pair their beer flights with tasty bites like fried calamari or spicy wings. This one's a little further from the stadium, but worth seeking out.
Characters Sports Bar and Grill is located in the Santa Clara Marriott, but don't let that scare you away— there's still a great sports bar atmosphere here. This busy bar has plenty of TVs, burgers and brews. It's open late, so it might fill your post-game drink need, too.
It's not a secret when it's in the name: Wicked Chicken obviously serves up some good chicken, including wings, sandwiches and tenders. You'll find tons of sauce options, whether you prefer milder wings or if you like your chicken on the spicy side. They have a good variety of beers on tap, including some local brews.
By day, Evolution Bar & Café serves up coffee, breakfast and lunch, but night is when it really comes alive. Located fairly close to the stadium in the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, this bar has draft beers on tap, wine and liquor. They usually have happy hour specials and tend to serve typical bar appetizers like wings, fries and calamari.
Elizabeth Xu is an Ohio-based freelance travel writer. She recently called the San Francisco Bay Area home and loved exploring the city to discover its secrets. Follow her travels @ElizabethMXu.
See the most shocking Super Bowl moments
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Best spots for pre-game drinks near Levi's Stadium
The Washington Redskins steamroll the Broncos behind unexpected stars
Super Bowl XXII took place at the end of the strike shortened 1987 season. That was the season that league owners responded to the strike by bringing in replacement players. In a way, that was a theme for the Redskins in the Super Bowl as well.
The Redskins started out the year with Jay Schroeder at quarterback and George Rogers at halfback. By the time they got to the playoffs, however, an ineffective Schroeder had been replaced by Doug Williams, and someone had to replace an injured George Rogers.
Doug Williams was always talented, but faced an uphill fight for legitimacy as an African-American quarterback. He had been drafted by the Buccaneers, left after a contract dispute, joined the USFL, and found himself unemployed after his team folded. He joined the Redskins as a backup.
The rest is history, of course. Williams became the first African-American to start at quarterback in the Super Bowl. The Broncos were favored to win the game, and took a quick 10-0 lead as the Redskins struggled to get the offense going. No team had ever overcome a 10 point deficit in the Super Bowl.
And then the 2nd quarter hit. Doug Williams passed for 4 touchdowns – in the second quarter alone. What was a 10 point deficit became a 35-10 lead by halftime. The one touchdown that wasn’t a pass was unheralded rookie halfback Timmy Smith’s 58 yard burst.
The Redskins shocked the Broncos in an epic second quarter, behind Doug Williams and Timmy Smith. Williams was 9 for 11 in the quarter with 228 yards and 4 touchdowns. Smith had five rushes for 122 yards and a score in the same quarter.
(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
The phrase "wardrobe malfunction" wouldn't have sounded familiar 10 years ago and neither would Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or even YouTube. On the tenth anniversary of Justin Timberlake revealing Janet Jackson's boob, we imagine how social platforms would've reacted.
"Broadway Joe" and the New York Jets engineer the biggest upset in Super Bowl history
This was the first AFL-NFL Championship game to bear the official name, Super Bowl. It was expected to be more of the same from the first two years – the NFL had dominated the AFL, and was still considered to be the far superior league. Nobody thought that the AFL had caught up to the talent level of the NFL yet, despite the merger now being 4 years old.
The Colts were favored in the game by 18 points, but nobody counted on the brash young quarterback from this upstart Jets team to do what he did.
Joe Namath didn’t just pull out a victory. Joe Namath told the world the Jets were going to beat the Colts, he led the Jets to the shocking domination, and he bathed in the glory of the upset. It was a touchstone moment that changed the newly merged NFL forever.
(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
"The Legion of Boom" didn't just dominate the Broncos -- they dismantled them
It may not have been a shock that Seattle beat Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII – after all, Denver was only favored by 2 – but the way in which they did it was certainly shocking.
Seattle absolutely broke Denver’s will, and they did it from the first play from scrimmage. The quickest score in Super Bowl history occurred just twelve seconds in, as Peyton Manning mishandled a bad shotgun snap, the ball bounded into the end zone and Seattle made the tackle.
It was all down hill from there.
Denver’s back was broken, and they never recovered. Seattle led 36-0 before the Broncos high-powered attack could find the end zone.
Seattle became the first team in Super Bowl history to score on a safety, a kickoff return and an interception return, on their way to a 43-8 destruction.
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
The Patriots shut down "The Greatest Show on Turf'"
The St. Louis Rams came into the 2001 season as a more dominant team than the one that authored the win in Super Bowl XXXIV. They sported the league MVP, quarterback Kurt Warner, and the Offensive Player of the Year, running back Marshall Faulk.
The Rams finished the regular season 14-2, with the number one offense and the number seven defense in the league.
The Patriots started the season with veteran Drew Bledsoe under center, but he was knocked out in Week 2 after a rough tackle caused a severed artery. The backup on the team was a former sixth round pick in his second year, Tom Brady. The head coach, the embattled Bill Belichick, made the controversial decision to hand the reins over to Brady even after Bledsoe returned from his injury. They finished 11-5 and made an improbable run through the playoffs to make it to their third Super Bowl.
It appeared that this would be a walkover for the Rams. They were favored by 14 in the game.
Instead, the Rams found themselves down 17-10 before a game tying touchdown drive engineered by Warner.
It seemed the Patriots, out of time outs, would play for overtime. But Belichick and Brady had other plans. The Patriots marched down the field, setting up Adam Vinatieri’s game winning field goal as time expired.
(Photo by Sylvia Allen/Getty Images)
Garo Yepremian ruins Miami's bid for a shutout
The Miami Dolphins came into the 1973 season on a mission, having lost the Super Bowl the previous season to the Cowboys. Don Shula’s squad won every game it played in the regular season, and defeated Cleveland and Pittsburgh in the playoffs to make it back to the Super Bowl.
Despite their perfect 16-0 record going in, the Dolphins were a one-point underdog against the Washington Redskins, who went 11-3 in the regular season.
The game was completely dominated by the Dolphins until there were just two minutes left in the game. The Dolphins were ahead 14-0 and had intercepted Redskins quarterback Billy Kilmer 3 times en route to holding them to 228 total yards. The Dolphins were driving to run out the clock and complete their perfect season when they brought in kicker Garo Yepremian for a 41 yard field goal to ice the game.
The kick was blocked. Instead of falling on the ball, Yepremian inexplicably picked it up and attempted what vaguely resembled a pass. The ball slipped out of his hand, so he decided to bat it forward like a volleyball (because, hey, why not). It was picked out of the air by cornerback Mike Bass to give Washington its only score of the game.
The Giants end New England's perfect season
Six years after they shocked the world and won their first Super Bowl, the New England Patriots were one game away from perfection.
In 2007, they made it a habit of steamrolling every opponent that dared to challenge them. The Pats went undefeated in the regular season, plowed through the playoffs and seemed an inevitable winner against a 10-6 Giants team that had to win its final six regular season games just to make the playoffs.
The official line was Patriots minus-12, and there weren’t many folks who thought the Giants had a chance.
Tom Brady won NFL MVP, becoming the first quarterback to throw 50 touchdown passes in a season. The New England offense set so many offensive records that it became routine.
The biggest shock of this game, other than the result, was that it turned into a defensive battle. The Giants defensive line was able to keep pressure on Brady all game long, disrupting their high powered attack. The Patriots scratched out a 14-10 lead with two and a half minutes left.
Needing a touchdown, Eli Manning began the Giants drive at his own 17 yard line. On a third and 5 from midfield, the Giants pulled off the most improbable pass play to sustain a drive in Super Bowl history. Manning was nearly sacked, somehow escaped the grasp of the defender, heaved a pass down the middle of the field – which was caught between hand and helmet by David Tyree.
The Giants scored the winning touchdown on the drive, completing one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Walter Payton fails to score in Super Bowl XX
The 85 Bears. One of the most dominant teams in Super Bowl history. They steamrolled through the NFL to make the first Super Bowl in franchise history. So many years of mediocrity, about to be wiped out as Da Bears are crowned as kings of the NFL.
One player on the team epitomized the struggles endured by the franchise for two decades since founder and head coach George Halas retired. Like Dick Butkus and Gayle Sayers before him, Walter Payton was an exceptional player on a series of exceptionally bad Bears teams. Unlike his predecessors, though, Payton had the opportunity for the ultimate redemption of scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
That moment never came, however. The Bears ran all over the Patriots in a 46-10 blowout. William ‘Refrigerator’ Perry was given the call at the goal line over Payton. In the clip above, Payton can be seen giving up on the play as Perry scores.
Coach Mike Ditka called it the biggest mistake of his career, saying he didn’t realize until after the game that Payton hadn’t scored.
The Titans come up one yard short
Super Bowl XXXIV was one of the most thrilling endings in the history of the game. The matchup between two of the most productive offenses in the league, led to a last second ending that left the audience shocked
The St. Louis Rams of 1998-1999 made one of the most improbable runs to a championship in NFL history. Dick Vermeil and his septuagenarian coaching staff were predicted to have one of the worst teams in the league that year, even before starting quarterback Trent Green went down with a preseason knee injury. Enter Kurt Warner, the complete unknown who joined the Rams from the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League.
Behind Warner, the massive production of running back Marshall Faulk and the third best defense in the NFL, the St. Louis Rams produced an unexpected 13-3 record, record setting offensive numbers and a Super Bowl berth.
The Titans were enjoying their first season with the new name after two seasons as the Tennessee Oilers. They fielded a potent offensive attack of their own, behind dual threat quarterback Steve McNair and running back Eddie George.
One of the most evenly matched Super Bowls, it included several rallies and comeback drives. The Rams built a 16-0 lead in the third quarter before the Titans rallied to get to within 3. Steve McNair was then able to engineer another field goal drive to tie it up at 16 with 2:12 to go.
On the first play of the next drive, Warner hit Isaac Bruce for a 73 yard touchdown for a 23-16 lead, setting up the shocking final drive.
McNair took over with 1:48 and drove all the way to the 10 yard line with 6 seconds left. The final play of the game was the most dramatic in Super Bowl history. McNair hit a wide open Kevin Dyson at around the 5 yard line for what appeared to be a winning score … only to be tackled by a fast-closing middle linebacker, Mike Jones. Dyson rolled to the ground, arm outstretched, with the ball a yard short of the goal line as time expired.
(AP Photo/John Gaps III)
The Raiders break the backs of the favored Redskins
The 1983 Redskins were coming off a Super Bowl win over the Dolphins the previous season, and looked to be even more dominant. With a defense among the league leaders and an offense that set the season points record, Washington produced a 14-2 regular season – and their two losses came by only one point each. Joe Theismann was the league MVP.
The Raiders were a powerful team in their own right, ranking third in offense and fourth in defense. Marcus Allen was the second leading receiver on the team, behind tight end Todd Christensen, and had 1602 total yards from scrimmage.
The Redskins were favored by 3, and were never in the game.
The Raiders were able to completely shut down John Riggins and harassed Joe Theismann into one of the worst games of his career. The Redskins were held to 3 points in the first half. Having scored on a blocked punt and a 50 yard pass from Plunkett to Branch, the Raiders were in command of the game – but it was far from over.
That was until the Redskins took over with 12 seconds left in the first half on their own twelve yard line. Instead of downing it and playing for halftime, Theismann inexplicably threw a screen pass – that was promptly intercepted by linebacker Jack Squirek, who ran it in for the shocking, backbreaking touchdown.
The Steelers pull it out with a last minute touchdown pass
The Steelers of 2008 were a vintage Pittsburgh team – a dominant defense, powerful running game and a quarterback who was able to throw it when necessary. Finishing 13-3 in the regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers led the league in total defense and scoring defense, suffocating opponents on the way to another Super Bowl berth.
They faced the Arizona Cardinals, who backed into the playoffs after finishing 9-7. Despite having former MVP Kurt Warner at quarterback and all-world wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals lost 4 of their final 6 regular season games and were not expected to do much in the playoffs. The defense was a weak spot, ranking 28th in the league.
The Steelers were favored by 7, and for three quarters, the game went according to plan. Pittsburgh built up a 20-7 lead before the Cardinals stormed back in the fourth quarter. Arizona capped off their scoring binge with a 64 yard touchdown strike to Fitzgerald to take a 23-20 lead with 2:37 left in the game.
Pittsburgh mounted a methodical, quick-strike 78 yard drive that included 4 passes to Santonio Holmes for 73 yards. The final play of the drive was a 6 yard touchdown throw to Holmes from Ben Roethlisberger, featuring an epic toe-tap to get both feet in bounds in the back of the end zone.
Just like they drew it up in the back yard.
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
The Buffalo Bills drive for the winning score … and miss
The Buffalo Bills came into Super Bowl XXV with the NFL’s best offense, and sixth best defense. They sent nine players to the Pro Bowl that year, and Bruce Smith was the AP Defensive Player of the year. Jim Kelly’s K-Gun offense led the Bills to a 13-3 record and the number one seed in the AFC Playoffs.
The Giants were a contrast to the flashy style of the Bills. The Men in Blue had the number one overall defense and a power running game, which they used to grind down opponents. They were battle tested, having defeated the Bears and 49ers in the playoffs. They entered the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback, Jeff Hostetler, after starter Phil Simms was lost with a broken foot – ironically, in their Week 14 home loss to the Buffalo Bills.
The high-powered Bills were favored by 7 points. The Giants were not expected to be able to keep up with the potent Buffalo offense.
The Giants didn’t really keep up – instead, they choked the life out of the Bills, dominating the time of possession. The G Men set a Super Bowl record by holding onto the ball for 40:33.
Even with limited opportunities, the Bills rushed out to a 12-3 lead in the second quarter. The Giants led two long scoring drives, one in the second quarter that led to a 12-10 halftime deficit, and another to begin the third quarter to gain the lead at 17-12. On the first play of the 4th quarter, Thurman Thomas scored on a 31 yard run to make it 19-17 Bills. A defensive struggle consumed the remainder of the quarter, with the Giants taking a 20-19 lead with eight minutes left.
The Bills were finally able to put together a potential game winning drive in the final minutes. Starting from their own 10 yard line with 2:16 left, Thurman Thomas ripped off several runs to get the Bills within field goal range. With 8 seconds left on the clock, the Bills lined up for a 47 yard attempt … and the rest is history.