Finalist No. 1 : Between The Buns (South Bend, IN)

Between The Buns

1803 South Bend Ave.

South Bend, IN 46637

Nominated by: David Pestrak

David's submission : Your search for "The Best Sports Bar in America" is over. Between the Buns is the place.

Let's start with your first question. Yes, the name is real… Between the Buns. Between the Buns has been a sports bar since 1985, before there was a sports bar on every corner. This place does everything a sports bar is supposed to do, and they do it right.

To start with, there are TV's in every booth. So you can tune in and watch and listen to the game of your choice, not just the one game that is on the overhead speakers like most places. Or when Brett Favre retires again, you can even change it off of sports to NCIS reruns which would be certainly more interesting.

Of course, in addition to the booth Tv's, there are flatscreen TV's all over the walls, some up to 60", but hey who doesn't anymore, right? But, the Buns has every NFL game, the March Madness tournament and is seated in the heart of Notre Dame country. There are 5 locations and one of them is only ½ mile from the ND stadium.

They decorate the tables and walls with local high school, college and pro memorabilia from all sports. I've talked to a bunch of people who had their stuff saved in a table or posted on the walls. They always talk like they're a part of the place. It's neat.

On ND home game Saturdays they do a build-your-own Bloody Mary Bar starting at 8am. The bartenders (hotties) pour the vodka and you do the rest. Make it as spicy as ya want. Their belief is that "You can't drink all day long if you don't start first thing in the morning" – it even says so right on the t-shirts. The place gets packed when they do this.

The Buns offers free wifi so I can check my fantasy football stats, and they've also got a computer out front that anyone can use. Perfect for when I forget my laptop.

The different locations offer different entertainment: karaoke, live bands, bike nights, and open jam. Every week there are Cornhole Tournaments at Between the Buns. Now, that's not as bad as it sounds. Cornhole (sometimes referred to as "bags" in other parts of the country) is a game with beanbags and a board commonly played while tailgating. The point is that they make it fun, even when a game isn't on. I can't remember how many parking lot tent parties or bus trips to the Cubs I've been to (partially due to the beer). This one time… at band camp… oh, wait wrong story – I've even met the Miller High Life Guy there!

I'd tell you about how good the food is, but you said not to. Let it suffice to say they use fresh burger and whole fresh wings and the food is beyond great. With names like the Ryne Sandburger and the Bases Loaded it's gotta be good.

They have drink specials every day, but who doesn't? But the reason the drinks are worth mentioning is that the Buns has something called a Papa Smurf. It's huge and it's blue. I don't know what they put in it, but it's really good, really popular and quite intoxicating.

One thing I personally love, probably the most, about Between the Buns is how much attention they pay to people as individuals. They know what I drink, what I like to eat, and all the little things. They know me as Dave, not just "that guy at table 32" or whatever.

The Buns is also family friendly. They've got a family side and a bar side for the rowdies. For the little leaguers, a specialized kids menu, not just the bottom 3 inches on the back page of the adult menu like most places.

In closing, Between the Buns is the definition of "sports bar". If you were to look up "sports bar" in the dictionary, you'd probably find a picture of Between the Buns. They are well known in the community. They do everything you'd think a sports bar should do. Don't pick Between the Buns because I said so, stop by so I can buy ya a Papa Smurf and see the place for yourself.

About the Bar :

- We offer daily food and drink specials

- We have flat screen tv's in every booth so our fans will never miss their team's game...no matter who their team is

- Our servers wear jersey with their names on the back to create a sports environment

- Our food is homemade and fresh.

- Our loyalty program, called the MVP program, kicks back great rewards to our loyal fans

- We have a tv in the bathroom so you will never miss a play

- We have lots of events (trivia nights, karaoke night, bands, tent parties, Madden tournaments, etc.) to keep our fans busy even if their team is playing

- Every table is decorated with local sports team articles and pictures.