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Tom’s Watch Bar Swings Into Chinatown Just in Time for the World Cup

The nationwide sports bar chain kicked off its D.C. expansion streak this week

Tom’s Watch Bar opened in Chinatown on Monday, December 5.
John Robinson
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Tom’s Watch Bar zoomed into D.C. on Monday, December 5, bringing Chinatown an immersive sports-watching experience augmented with Old Bay shrimp, two-pound portions of wings, and icy drafts served in huge steins.

D.C.’s newest game day headquarters next to Capital One Arena boasts three central oversized “stadium” screens surrounded by 120 high-definition screens for 360-degree viewing (781 Seventh Street NW). Its 6,500-square-foot D.C. debut reactivates the former home of Circa.

Tom’s Watch Bar now has seven locations scattered from coast to coast, from Los Angeles to Vegas to the Mohegan Sun casino. Chinatown is the first of three Tom’s Watch Bar locations planned for the area. Look for 2023 openings at National Harbor and a new ballpark development coming to Navy Yard.

“D.C. has a great sports scene that’s underserved and not as modern and contemporary or vibrant as it could be,” Tom’s Watch Bar co-founder and D.C. resident Tom Ryan tells Eater.

Best sellers making their way to D.C. include its spinach and artichoke dip; mac and cheese topped with butter-poached lobster and shrimp; Asian seared salmon salad; Angus beef cheeseburger on a brioche bun; and shaved prime rib dip with garlic fries or tots. An Old Bay shrimp basket is unique to D.C.

An array of wings (Buffalo, honey barbecue, Nashville hot, Jamaican jerk, and Korean barbecue) can be upgraded to two-pound portions for $12 extra. Other options include a sushi-grade ahi tuna tower, tacos, and a “colossal” cheesecake for dessert.

On the beer front, dozens of taps pour a mix of domestic, Mexican-heavy imports, local, and seasonal options, all available in 40-ounce stein glasses that require two hands. Its popular “Party Starter” cocktail is a double dose of its Tom’s ‘Rita with hibiscus and Red Bull.

Tom’s Watch Bar offers a panoramic display of multiple games at once.
John Robinson
Tom’s Watch Bar’s new two-level digs makes use of the old Circa space.
John Robinson

The 300-seat D.C. edition caters first and foremost to all local teams, which includes the Capitals and Wizards playing on the same Chinatown block. TV time is also reserved for all kinds of U.S. sports — NFL, NBA, WNBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA, and MLS — plus UFC fights and European soccer matches.

Tom’s also has an algorithm in place to decide what to air at any given time. A personalized app lets customers hear play-by-play action of a particular game at their tables or on their phones.

Tom’s Watch Bar also teams up with Topgolf, and a swing suite simulator offers virtual golf play along with computer-generated hockey, baseball, football, and soccer programs. The Northwest neighborhood is also home to golf simulator courses CitySwing and Five Iron Golf.

A TopGolf-enabled simulator sits on the second floor at Tom’s Watch Bar.
John Robinson

On slower sports nights at its locations, “we find avid golfers bringing their golf bags and teeing up when there’s nothing else to watch on the screen,” says Ryan.

A whirlwind of sports on at once caters to fantasy leagues and legal sports-betting fans; some two-thirds of Tom’s Watch Bar customers are active sports gamblers, says Ryan. While there’s no waging on-site, the Caesars Sportsbook at Capital One Arena is right nearby. Venue buyouts, private events, and alumni association watch parties are also available for booking.

Hours are 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily and starting at 11 a.m. on Fridays to Sundays. Hours are adjusted accordingly for the rest of the World Cup run through December 18. The global tournament advances to the quarter-finals round on December 9. For more spots to watch the World Cup around D.C., go here.