Like the perfect politician of sports bars, Yankee Doodles is all things to all people. This sprawling, two-level monster of an establishment is perched at the heart of the Third Street Promenade, armed with more than two dozen pool tables and almost 40 television screens. By day tourist families nosh on burgers and sandwiches, served in generous portions, with the downstairs game room a haven for kids playing pinball, air hockey and even foosball. By the time happy hour rolls around, local professionals pop in to take advantage of half-price well drinks and nurse gargantuan 34-ounce draft beers.
Once darkness falls, Yankee Doodles attracts die-hard sports fans, ready to cheer the game of the day, as well as a Santa Monica singles crowd slightly less self-conscious than their Hollywood brethren. The outdoor patio provides non-sports lovers a place to chat and hang, while the games downstairs attract bigger kids in the 21-and-over nighttime hours. Neon lights, brass handrails and mirrored walls provide the ambiance, as well as ample opportunity to check out the crowd. Because of its size, Yankee Doodles also has become a popular spot for meet-up groups. On any given night you might run into an intense group chatting about their love of metal bands, or plotting a presidential campaign, while the Lakers or Dodgers fight for victory on 39 screens. — Christopher Cappiello