It's that kind of atmosphere that brings people back again and again. Many of the regulars come to play pool, on a table located next to the entrance. As Thissen notes, many of the players are quite good, and he is anxious to organize pool tournaments as the competition is expected to be intense.
Another of the Taipei Sports Bar's attractions is a large screen TV playing satellite sports broadcasts. If it's a slow sporting events day, the screen may be used to show movies.
Thissen is working on providing a good mix of sports programming including Canadian hockey, NFL, NBA and U.S. major league baseball games. World Cup games will be shown and associated events are in the planning.
Sports and drinking seem to go hand in hand. Thus, the place of honor is given to a large semi-circular bar, surrounded by bar stools, and manned by Thissen's business partner Sabrina Mo. From here, a selection of cocktails, wines and draft and bottled beers are served. The most popular cocktail is the Long Island Ice Tea (NT$350), a powerful concoction of vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec and coke. Recent additions to the Taipei Sports Bar liquor menu are McWilliams white and red wines from Australia (NT$250 and NT$300 per glass and NT$1,500 and NT$1,700 per bottle, respectively). Beer-on-tap choices include San Miguel, Stella and the hard-to-find Belgian Heogaarden (NT$150 to NT$180 for a small glass and NT$200 to NT$250 for a large glass). On the list of bottled beers are Guinness, Grolsch, Heineken, Corona, Erdinger and Budweiser (NT$150 to NT$200). Smirnoff Ice (NT$150) is also available.
Those who come for bar drinks should arrive early to take advantage of happy hour specials from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Happy hour lasts all night on Sunday.
Around the bar, tables are comfortably spaced, providing seating for about 45. Enjoy a drink or two or three with a small group of friends, or something from the kitchen, famed for its thick and delicious cheeseburgers, which come in original, bacon and BBQ bacon versions (NT$250 to NT$270) served with a generous helping of thick fries. Taipei Sports Bar's pizzas are also very popular, especially its meat-dominated Supreme Pizza (NT$280), but cheese (NT$220), BBQ (NT$250) and Hawaiian (NT$250) flavors are also available.
What would a bar be without bar food? Taipei Sports Bar's Buffalo wings (with Buffalo or BBQ sauce) (NT$220), Nachos (with ground beef or Cajun grilled chicken breast) (NT$220) and potato skins (served with cheddar, real bacon bits and sour cream) (NT$220) are legendary. Put them all together in a combo platter (which includes any three appetizers) for NT$380. Also try the grilled chicken or veggie and cheese quesadillas (NT$200 to NT$250), chicken fingers (served with BBQ or honey mustard sauce) (NT$250), mozzarella sticks (NT$220) and seasoned French fries or onion rings (NT$100 to NT$150).
Thissen says that the Taipei Sports Bar caters to mostly business professionals, with more than half of its customers Taiwanese. To better serve its local clientele, the menu was recently expanded to include a selection of Asian dishes such as Chicken in Lemon Sauce, Beef Strips with Green Onion, Beef Strips in Sweet and Sour Sauce Thai Style, Fried Noodles, Stir-fried Mixed Seafood and Codfish with Stir-fried Soy Beans, ranging in price from NT$140 to NT$310. For late night snackers, the appetizer and Western food menu is available until 11:30 p.m. and the Asian menu until even later.
The Taipei Sports Bar can be reserved for private parties and functions between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. The front doors open up completely providing a well-ventilated, open-air atmosphere. With the pool table and wooden dining tables, Thissen says it's like having your own private rec room for three hours, complete with the opportunity to play your own music CDs. Both ICRT and the Canadian Society have held successful functions here.
As Thissen sums up, "This is a nice place to hang out." It's not a pick-up bar, but a place where people can be themselves and simply have a good time. An added attraction is the convenient parking.
FYI, the Taipei Sports Bar will be closed January 28 (Chinese New Year's Eve). From January 29 to February 2 it will open at 6:00 p.m. and close at midnight. Regular operating hours will resume on February 3.
As a special incentive to Taiwan News readers, a 10 percent discount will be given to diners who present this article when ordering.
The Taipei Sports Bar & Diner is located at No. 61, Lane 81, DunHua South Road Section 2, Taipei. Tel: (02) 2703-0416. Business hours are 6:00 p.m.-2:00 a.m. daily.