The preseason excitement, the fantasy drafts, the fatty food; it could only mean one thing: Football seasoning is ramping up. All across South Florida, sports bars slinging wings and burgers, beers and shots will be prepping for their Sunday rituals. But finding a good sports bar isn't just as easy as popping into a barstool. You need a place that offers good food at decent prices, a sizable beer list, comfortable digs, and a whole lot of TVs so you can watch the game you want. Well, here are five local sports bars that won't give you a false start this football season:
Mugs - Do you hate dive bars? Do you want sports, sports, and more sports
without the risk of developing lung cancer secondhand? You couldn't get
a more smoke-free, simple environment than Mug's on Oakland.
Ironically, there are no mugs, just pints, and sports -- 14 TVs' worth
to monopolize your attention. Young, college-aged faces fill the space.
Gators and Hurricanes beware, though; this is 'Noles territory. Mugs
serves game-day staples like hamburgers, wings, nachos, and fries.
- Entering a Bru's through the teal and orange patio bar area
brings to mind entering Sun Life Stadium, which makes sense considering
it's owned by '80s-era Dolphins linebacker Bob Brudzinski. Most
locations are fitted with an outdoor
patio area with plenty of seats, whether at a table or a stool at the
large bar, and dozens of flat-screen TVs are strategically placed
every foot or two. Inside is another large bar, dozens more flat
screens, and a pool table and dartboard. In addition to a full bar, a
full menu is available, and fried
pickles with spicy ranch sauce are Bru's hallmark dish. Don't forget
the chicken wings -- our favorite is the Triple Threat (BBQ, Sweet 'N'
Tangy, and grilled with minced garlic). Fun fact for
night owls: Bru's reverse happy hour runs from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. So you
can stay on long after the games are over.
- Bokamper's has great food, drinks, and enough televisions to show
game in history. Just be sure to get here early if you're planning on
watching the Sunday games, as it becomes standing room only around
kickoff. If you come with a big appetite you can try to tackle the
Beast, a five-pound burger with four fried eggs, ten strips of bacon,
and eight slices of American cheese. Finish it and you get your name
engraved in a plaque on the wall -- and a massive case of indigestion.
- Champps is laid-back, almost quiet, and certainly more restaurant
sports bar. Huge television screens line the ceiling, so it's often
possible to watch two or more games at a time. The wait staff can be so
attentive that your next beer is never too far away. They check in
minutes to make sure you've got everything you need. This is a good
place to take the family to watch the games but not so much if you
scream at televisions with other drunks.
- One of a projected 400 franchises scheduled to roll out over the next
five years, Hurricane has already taken Plantation and Palm Beach
Gardens by storm, with 60 or more franchises opening in Broward and
Palm Beach, practically one to every chicken-wing-loving family. Chris
Russo founded the original Hurricane in Fort Pierce in 1995 starting
with his hot garlic and Parmesan wings, on the menu today and still his
favorite. Today, Hurricane offers roughly 30 chicken-wing sauces, from
fruity to flaming; bone-in wings or boneless (made from hand-cut
chicken breasts, and frozen); plus grouper fingers, fish dip, cheese
steaks, and the best French fries you've ever tasted. Most locations
have a fun, laid-back vibe with people watching sports, playing Xbox
360, and drinking at the bar.
- The Kingshead British Pub Sunrise is a small but cozy Tudor-style
and restaurant with a friendly British and American staff. Offering
more than 50 beers, ales, ciders, and stouts, the pub is a favorite of
craft beer drinkers. The menu is composed of hearty classics such as
authentic English pot pies and handmade Black Angus burgers (Royale
with cheese). British favorites include beer-battered cod and hand-cut
chips, Scotch eggs, cottage pie, and several other hard-to-find dishes.
Many specialty items are imported from across the pond: Walkers English
Crisps, Brandston pickles, and Heinz Baked Beans. If you want a
slightly different setting to watch the game, this could be your place.
Shuck-N-Dive Cajun Sports Cafe - A bona fide taste of Mardi Gras in Downtown Fort Lauderdale,
Shuck-N-Dive serves the tastiest sauces -- the booze kind and the hot
kind -- of Nawlins. From Abita to Turbodog, Big Easy brews complement
the establishment's décor, which is as carnivalesque as a Mardi Gras
parade float with its purple, green, and gold color scheme. Although the
restaurant takes up most of the space -- the food is superb -- the bar is
a great place to grab a seat, a beer, watch football -- go LSU! -- and
chow down on a po' boy. (Please, just don't call it a poor boy.) No
smoking allowed, but the food makes going outside every time you need
your nic fix worth it.
Wowies Sports Grill - Do you love the bawdy locker-room vibe at Hooters but wonder why
beautiful girls subject themselves to the garish orange getup, with
support hose and high-top sneaks? (Hint: student loans) If so, then head to
this sexy sports bar, where the dress code is often as hot as the wings
coming out of the kitchen. With a staff decked out in corsets and
short-shorts, you'd think the food was an afterthought -- but the menu
is surprisingly lengthy, with dishes like chicken bruschetta, Gorgonzola-topped steak panini, steamed mussels, handmade zeppole
dusted with powdered sugar, and a host of other inventive sandwiches
Yard House - Here's a rollicking spot for beer lovers. The chain restaurant from
California, named for the yard-high glass originally created to serve
stagecoach drivers, spurts more than 200 beers on tap -- the main draw.
A unique system of chilled taps that run in long lines to the keg room
keeps beers fresh and tasty -- and with a sampler option, hop-heads can
try several at a sitting. The huge island bar with stools in the center
of the room parallels the open kitchen, where American fusion dishes
fly out the service windows. It's a busy, lively spot in the Downtown
at the Gardens mall, with classic rock on the speakers day and night. A
late-night in-the-biz crowd comes for an after-shift brew. Moviegoers
and families can be found at early hours, noshing on burgers (don't
miss the béarnaise sliders), sandwiches, personal pizzas, and a good
salad selection. Even the kids' menu has healthful sides such as
jasmine rice or a green salad. A special "gluten sensitive" menu also
is available. It's value-priced too -- the reason you see so many
- Less a sports bar than a beer lover's wet dream, World of Beer does
have a cadre of flat screens positioned strategically around the bar and
seating area so the 'Fins game is never far away. Besides: Where else
can you drink from more than 500 beers and eat grub from nearly every
restaurant in the Coconut Creek Promenade? Asian, pizza, burgers,
Mexican -- it's all within reach at World of Beer.