Generally speaking, I am not a fan of the fact that over the last 20 years just about every bar has felt the need to load up their space with flat screen TVs. For a long time I had trouble figuring out why this trend irked me so. It wasn’t the fact that TVs in general are counterproductive to great conversation (although they are, since one of the best things about spending time at any bar is striking up great conversation), nor was it the fact that I have always been more of a “music person” than a “TV person.” What it really comes down to is that more often than not, they just look out of place.
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It’s simple. One of the most important aspects to a great bar experience is that the vibe be immersive both visually and emotionally. It should take you away from your usual environment. So, if you are a tiki bar, be a tiki bar. No need to tack up a load of glowing boxes showcasing mood-shattering, muted irrelevancy. Let the blowfish lamps and Hawaiian shirts do their job.
But there is a time and place for the mighty TV to shine in a bar setting. The sports bar was basically invented for TV watchers to gather in large groups. As I looked around at the army of flatscreens spread throughout Chickie’s & Pete’s in Egg Harbor Township, all I could think of was how perfectly at home a TV looks in this environment. For here it doesn’t take away conversation, it becomes the fuel for it, encouraging strangers to unite based on team loyalty, and great debates over strategies, trades and play calling to occur on a nightly basis.
The sports bar is the only true home for such displays, and when it comes to local sports bars, it’s tough to beat Chickie’s & Pete’s.
I settled in at the bar and found the crowd to be friendly and welcoming. Chickie’s & Pete’s is a large space that works well for cramming in fans of whatever team by the hundreds. Environments like these always put me in the mood for beer over cocktails, and Chickie’s & Pete’s offer a wide selection of beers, with everything from local labels to macro and microbrews up for grabs. I went with a “Dallas Sucks,” a pale ale made by Weyerbacher that mirrors my opinion on this particular NFC rival (it’s the only thing a Giants fan such as myself can agree with Eagles fans).
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I paired my brew with their classic Crabfries. For those who have somehow never heard of them, Crabfries are a signature item at Chickie’s and Pete’s consisting of crinkle cut French fries topped with Old Bay and other seasonings and served with a side of gooey white cheese sauce. While they contain absolutely no crab meat whatsoever, they do taste delicious and are rather addicting. I washed these down with a Sam Adams Winter Lager, which paired perfectly with the spuds.
While it is clearly a great sports bar, the truth is, just about anyone can have a good time at a place like this. It’s far from pretentious; you can bring the kids, and nobody is going to care what you are wearing. The menu has something for everyone, combining standard pub grub with some decent seafood and a nice selection of beers. If you haven’t stopped in, you should.