By RICHARD PALOMA
As the holiday season is in full swing, there’s one thing on television as common as repeats of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and even “It’s a Wonderful Life” – sports.
For millions of Americans, the holidays also equal football, hockey and the start of basketball season – and when you make it to spring, baseball starts back up as March Madness, the NBA Playoffs and Stanley Cup hit their peak.
And to watch these games, you can’t go wrong screaming at a flat-screen, having an adult beverage and enjoying a classic American meal where it’s always game time at your favorite sports bars, where a passionate crowd is guaranteed.
Going to a sports bar doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice food or atmosphere.
Rookies, on Yosemite Avenue in Manteca, is one of Northern California’s favorites, featuring plenty of comfortable seating, excellent fare and eight mounted flat-screened televisions, as well as one massive big screen streaming sports with the day’s preferred action.
“We bring in people from all areas of the Valley,” said Kari Pegram, owner of Rookies since May 2015. “We offer great diversity in sports to great entertainment as well.”
Pegram said Rookies has dance lessons every Wednesday and Saturday night with no cover charge and live country music on Saturday nights, essentially turning into a toe-tapping country bar at 9 p.m.
Rookies head chef, Eddie Pena, a San Francisco Culinary Academy graduate who holds restaurant experience dating back to 1974, offers a menu with nine pizza specials and some of the best burgers and sandwiches in the area.
“We make everything from the bottom to the top of the menu items,” Pena said. “Nothing is from a can.”
Pena said Rookies is known for its generous portions.
“The way we plate our food, everyone likes,” Pena said.
Rookies’ “Mile-High Nachos” are an establishment favorite both during game days and dance nights.
The nacho chip creation features tri-colored tortilla chips piled high with Pena’s chili, nacho cheese, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, jalapenos, olives and green onions.
The “Hangover,” a classic burger topped with an egg cooked to order, crispy bacon strips, cheddar cheese and all the fixings including their own spicy ‘hangover sauce’ is another fan favorite.
Obviously, beer is king at a sports bar and Rookies offers a wide selection of beer on tap or bottles along with daily Happy Hour specials. A full bar is also available with very reasonably priced drink specials.
A hungry and thirsty fan can select specials from 10 appetizer items for $6 each, two for $11, or three for $15. During NFL game days, menu specials of hot wings at 70 cents each, chicharrones (pork rinds) with beans for $5, a burger and a brew for $10, or pizza and a pitcher for $25 are available to keep a fan content even if his or her team is losing.
Sports are a big source of pride, and every season ushers in new reasons to wave the proverbial flag. So show up early to claim your seat among the regulars, order a mouth-watering entrée, and cheer on your team at Rookies.
Rookies Bar & Grill
1251 E. Yosemite Ave.
Manteca, CA 95336
Sunday – Wednesday: 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Thursday: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.