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Nick's Picks: Where to watch NCAA March Madness

It’s March 21. The first full day of March Madness. Over the next three weeks, sixty-four teams will compete to become college basketball’s new champion. Millions of people across the country will find any excuse to be in front of a screen to watch bracket-busting drama unfold. Basketball fans in Rochester have some increased interest with local teams competing. After a historic season, University of Buffalo enters the tournament as a six seed, playing Arizona State in its first game. Perennial power Syracuse University is a slight favorite over its first opponent, Baylor University. Rochester-area athletes are also represented in the tournament with University of Vermont’s Anthony Lamb, who attended Greece Athena, and University of Washington’s Nahziah Carter, who played for Bishop Kearney.

So, by now you’ve hopefully taken off from work and excommunicated any loved ones in order to consume as much basketball as possible. Unless you have a great home set-up, a sports bar is the best way to take in the madness. But with first round games going from noon until midnight, it can’t just be any sports bar. You need comfort, a perfect atmosphere, great drinks, and delicious food. The following locations, in no particular order, are worthy of your time this March.

The Exchange—251 Exchange Boulevard

Perhaps the biggest positive at the Exchange is its interior design. With tall glass windows surrounding the restaurant, sunlight pours in. This makes ten hours indoors feel far less insane. Aside from Vitamin D, the Exchange also provides solid bar fare including burgers, sandwiches, salads, and small plates as well as a lengthy wine list and twenty-four beers on tap.

TC Hooligan’s—200 Center Place Drive (Greece)

Within its newly built 3,500 square foot space, Hooligan’s boasts sixty HD televisions, ensuring that you won’t miss a moment of action. The go-to order here is wood-fired pizza. Each pie that comes out of Hooligan’s state-of-the-art Forno Bravo pizza oven is thin and airy with a puffy crust and just the right amount of char. For drinks, guests have more than forty beers on tap to choose from, including the “4gedabit,” Hooligan’s signature creation. Brewed by Rohrbach’s, this pale ale features hop aromas as well as flavors of citrus, tropical fruit, and subtle pine.

Blu Wolf Bistro—657 Park Avenue  

Even while engaging in deeply slothful behavior, Blu Wolf, with its modern, sleek decoration, can make one feel hip. This Park Ave. mainstay doles out various fun cocktails like the Pink Orchid, made with gin, Campari, and grapefruit juice; and the Bulleit Train, a mix of Bulleit Bourbon, St. Germain, champagne, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Blu Wolf’s food choices often take typical bar and grill items to new, extreme heights. Rather than ordering an ordinary burger, consider the Apple Quacks burger, which is topped with duck bacon, Danish blue cheese, bacon-onion jam, and sliced apples

The Winfield Grill—647 Winton Road North

Since 1933, 647 Winton Road North has been a location of interest for Rochesterians, first as the Winton Cafe and now the Winfield Grill. What makes the Winfield worth visiting, aside from its spacious, historic interior, is its extensive menu. Sure, it has nachos, wings, and all the bar classics, but if you want to dig into blackened shrimp pasta or sea scallops while watching North Dakota State versus Duke, then the Winfield is your spot.

Genesee Brew House—25 Cataract Street

There is not a more Rochester-y place to watch March Madness than the Genesee Brew House. The blow of a busted bracket is softened here with scenic views of High Falls, a menu filled with locally sourced ingredients, and fourteen Genny beers on tap.

Follow Nick’s Picks on Twitter at @NickAbreu585.

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