Walk into the new Ugly Mug on Barracks Row and you'll be struck by two things: rows of decorative tap handles at the bar, and rows of flat-screen televisions. Five large monitors hang on the wall behind the bar, and another four decorate support columns in the middle of the room, allowing everyone to have a view of the sporting action that plays relentlessly.
The Ugly Mug opened its doors just before New Year's Eve, and it's clearly a work in progress. Except for a few beer-ad mirrors, the white walls are mostly blank, like a freshly occupied apartment. Everything else seems pretty basic: rows of large, circular booths along one wall, a back room with a pool table, golf video game (PGA Tour, not Golden Tee) and another large television. It's certainly not much to look at.
Barracks Row has added several new bars in the past year or so, but the focus here is on sports, beer and upscale bar food. Twenty-four draft beers flow from the Mug's taps -- the largest selection on Capitol Hill. Delicious miniburgers and specialty pizzas arrive from the kitchen, including white pizzas topped with prosciutto and garlic, and the "Maryland" pizza with crabmeat and artichoke.
There's always something on special Monday through Saturday -- half-price beers and cocktails until 7, followed by a daily deal from 7 to close. Depending on the night, you might find $2 Miller Lite bottles (Monday and Thursday) or $3 Heinekens and Amstel Lights (Saturday). All in all, a welcome addition to a buzz-worthy strip.
-- Fritz Hahn (January 2005)