The NFL playoffs are here and the big game is just around the corner, so it’s time to check out places with plenty of big screens and good food.
- Open since September, Mugs Bar & Grill in Fort Lauderdale is the kind of neighborhood bar where staffers know the regulars. The relatively small one-room space seems open and airy, not cramped, and service is attentive but pressure-free. A dozen large-screen TVs afford plenty of great tabe & bar views, but arrive early for a table or you’ll miss out. Mugs is known for its football beer-bucket specials … five domestic for $9, $14 imports. The menu is designed for sharing and grazing with a large selection of “appetentrees” (a cross between appetizers and entrees) plus salads, sandwiches, sliders and a handful of entrees. 10 butterflied popcorn shrimp are misleadingly named, but a good choice, while buffalo wings large and tasty, but undercooked. A chipotle club arrives on ciabatta with grilled chicken, applewood-smoked bacon, avocado, smoked Gouda and a spicy chipotle mayo while perfectly tangy, partially frozen key lime pie completes the experience.
- One of the fastest growing chains in the country, Cincinnati-based Buffalo Wings & Rings is a family-friendly dining spot with a large bar area (for those interested in a bit more action). Green seats, yellow walls, dark wood booths and plenty of sports memorabilia create a bright and cheery atmosphere while a surplus of TVs makes it easy to see games (but sounds is a challenge). Chicken wings are the menu’s star – traditional, boneless or tenders served with nine sauce choices and four heat levels in portions up to 50 pieces. There are plenty of solidly executed (but not particularly special) salads and sandwiches, including a gyro and mozzarella-mushroom burger. Standouts include house-made Saratoga chips and beefy Texas-style chili.
- Since former Miami Dolphin Bob Brudzinski got into the restaurant business in 1989 he has grown Bru’s Room Sports Grill into seven locations of varying sizes and layouts. The Pompano outpost is a place for serious football fans, with more TVs than most sports bars, turned up loud enough to actually hear the game. The bar gets a little rowdy, while the low-key dining room is a better place for kids. Specials include a full rack of ribs with two sides for $11.95, $7.95 salads and $7 drink pitchers. Tasty menu items include chicken wings, Hot-N-Bleu Burger, ribs and a hot apple crisp with vanilla ice cream and a caramel drizzle.