9424 Civic Center Blvd
I still have no idea how we wound up at Champps Sports Bar, but I'll readily admit that we weren't expecting much. Sports bars in general aren't known for their vegetarian friendliness, what with all the chicken and burgers and buffalo this and that. I'd already figured on having to order an overpriced appetizer as my main dish when I walked through the door.
It's nice to be wrong. The restaurant doesn't have a lot for vegetarians, it's true, but when our server learned that I am vegetarian she informed us that any of the pastas can be prepared sans protein for a buck less, although the menu doesn't expressly state this. They also give the option of a veggie burger substitution for any of their specialty burgers.
As most of the specialties include applewood-smoked bacon, the choice is whittled down to four:
1. The 'Shroom Burger - sauteed mushrooms and Swiss cheese
2. The Patty melt - sauteed onions with Swiss and American cheeses
3. The Fresca - melted provolone with roasted red pepper and spinach, topped with feta crumbles
4. The aptly named Flamethrower - bell peppers, green chiles, poblano peppers, onions, chipotle tabasco, cajun seasoning and pepperjack cheese, topped with fresly sliced jalapeno peppers
Of course I went for the Flamethrower. OF COURSE. And it lives up to it's moniker. That there was a vegetarian patty beneath all the fire was secondary - if the sandwich had been prepared with all the ingredients bar the patty I'd have been blissfully burning and none the wiser.
Steve, being British and not giving a toss about stereotypes, ordered the fish and chips meal. He proclaimed that it was very tasty indeed, even though there was so much food that he had a "clean plate club" fail.
As with most sports bars, Champps is a large, open space with plenty of big screen televisions showing a plethora of sporting events. It can get very noisy, especially if auto racing is on the schedule. Their happy hour runs M-F from 3:30-6:30 p.m. with drink specials and a selection of half price appetizers, of which the mozzarella sticks are vegetarian, and the Mile High Nachos can be ordered sans chicken and chili. When we first looked at the menu we thought the prices seemed a little high for a sports bar (burgers being just under a tenner) but you do get a lot of bang for your buck. With menu selections that are above average, Champps comes out a winner.