With so many bars on the drive either serving food, or changing up their menus, not to mention the newcomers joining the party, we felt it was time to take a look at the fare that’s available. We have focused only on those places that are primarily known as bars or clubs, so Tropics and Rosie’s, both primarily restaurants are not included.
Alibi Monkey Bar
2266 Wilton Drive
Since taking over a little more than a year ago, the new management revamped the menu. It is quite extensive, featuring about 20 appetizers options, mostly the usual suspects; nachos, wings, etc. but some exotic surprises as well; sesame noodles, Thai chicken skewers and ahi tuna nachos.
There is a vast array of entrée-sized salads, hot and cold sandwiches, classic and inventive burger creations, including a veggie burger. Happy hour specials are fairly unimaginative, but are more than made up for by the $12 nightly specials, some of which are so popular they run out every night. Tuesday’s bacon-wrapped meatloaf, Friday fish and chips and Sunday’s fried chicken are prime examples.
Brunch offerings are pretty much the expected fare, classics with some twists. The late night menu is great for soaking up some of that alcohol.
2287 Wilton Drive
Gym sports bar is now serving lunch. I’d heard good things about the food, so lunch service gave me an excuse to check it out. Not on the menu as a regular item, but sometimes added as daily specials, the soups are exceptional. On the day of our visit it was one of the best versions I’ve ever had of New England style clam chowder. The base was thick and rich without being gummy and had clams big and plump enough to satisfy size queens or chubby chasers. Burgers consist of two juicy patties (cooked to order) with a choice of toppings (build-your-own or try one of the signature combos). The chicken tacos would benefit from a bit less of the creamy sauce and more heat from the chipotle, but offer tender chicken. The kitchen also gets points for grilling the flour tortilla shell. If you avoid chicken tenders because you hate those pre-packaged things served at most places, rejoice because Gym Bar makes its own on premises, and you can taste the freshness. You can’t have bar food without wings and here there’s a choice of hot, mild, BBQ and soy-garlic-ginger. The wings are crispy and tender and dripping with sauce. My only complaint, they need to give you more napkins with these things.
In addition to lunch service, Gym Bar offers happy hour specials; 50 cent wings, $1 hot dogs (add chili or cheese for 50 cents more), $2 nachos and tacos or $3 for mozzarella sticks or chicken tenders. On top of that “Two for Tuesdays” offer day-long specials including; half price burgers (I guess that’s the same as two-for-one), $2 tacos and domestic beer. Thursday’s special features hot dogs for only a buck, from four to midnight. Weekend wings are 50 cents each all day.
2100 Wilton Drive
You might be as surprised as I was to learn that Matty’s serves food. The specialty of the house is Tater Totts (sic) which are served nacho style, topped with anything from steak with cheese, Buffalo chicken or pulled pork. There are also a variety of sliders (Korean pork, meatball) and skewers (ginger beef, curry chicken or Cajun shrimp).
2163 Wilton Drive
Naked Grape is the Bentley of bars that serve food. Luckily, you don’t need the deep pockets you need for that vehicle to enjoy an evening of luxury. Sure you can go for the really expensive vintages, but there are plenty of options that won’t put a huge dent in your wallet. Happy hour is from 4-7 p.m. daily with $5 glasses of select wines and continues all night on Thursday. If you do hanker for a pricier vintage, check it out on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when all bottles are half-priced all night.
On top of the great deals, the food is phenomenal; whether you opt for a cheese platter, tapas, flatbreads or my favorite; the mozzarella made tableside, you won’t be disappointed. Other options certain to win you over include; crab salad tacos, dates with chorizo and a peppadew-glazed goat cheese gratin. If you’re looking for a spot for a romantic date or want to spend a quiet evening visiting with friends, this is the place. There is also an intimate sidewalk patio which is great for people watching. Service is attentive, knowledgeable and friendly.
Rumors Bar & Grill
2426 Wilton Drive
Rumors has always been a great place to party, but the food never quite lived up to expectations. That’s all changed, now that they’ve brought in Robyn Almodovar to create a new menu. Almodovar, is best known for winning on Food Network's “Chopped” and “Cutthroat Kitchen” and competing on season 10 of Fox’s “Hell's Kitchen,” where she finished as a top finalist. She created Palate Party, a mobile catering company/food truck and has won New Times’ “Best Food Truck” award twice.
Consequently, Rumor’s menu features many items you wouldn’t expect as bar food, at least here in the U.S. For example, bacon-wrapped dates are a classic tapas bar item; but you’ll also find steamed pork buns, fried Brussels sprouts and mushroom risotto arancini, as well as classic pub fare such as onion rings and wings. Sandwich options include the classic burger as well as variations on that theme (and a veggie version) as well as duck confit with arugula on a hoagie or short ribs in the middle of a grilled cheese sandwich. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, check out the deep-fried bread pudding or an ice cream cookie sandwich.
2283 Wilton Drive
How much goodness can you pack into a tiny space? Village Pub has installed a kitchen and the menu is proof that size isn’t everything. The efficient kitchen not only turns out standard Pub Grub (which is what they’re calling the dining component of the business), but some upscale exotic fare as well. Onion rings arrive in a tower, and wings (with a choice of sauces, the classics plus some custom options including; spicy Chinese, sweet hot mustard, Jack Daniels infused with honey, pomegranate jalapeno and my favorite, honey-chipotle) overflow a basket, flatbreads bubble with cheese. It’s all the yummy stuff you love in bar food. But then, there are healthy and well-crafted salads, a charcuterie board to rival the finest dining establishments and a caprese salad skewer, if you’re yearning for something a bit more refined.
Village Pub takes bar food to a whole new level. Don’t be so dazzled by the exotics that you pass up such classics as the Black Forest Villager, The thick burger is almost obscene; topped with bacon bits, melted blue cheese and sautéed onions and mushrooms. The sticks of ham on top are a bit unwieldy, (slices would be better) but with so much goodness that’s just nit-picking. Chicken tenders are crisp and panko-crusted, but pounded a bit too thin. Vegetarians and the health conscious will appreciate Quinoa-Huh burger, a hearty patty of grains and veggies with a crispy exterior and a soft and flavorful center, on a whole grain bun, topped with avocado and baby greens. It’s so hearty that even a meat and potatoes guy will be satisfied by it. Monthly specials will also be featured. During our visit, it was a sandwich of blackened cod topped with a crab cake! Everything we sampled was perfectly prepared and featured generous portions. Service is friendly and knowledgeable. Prices range from $5-$10 for snacky foods to $10-$15 for sandwiches and salads.
And Another Thing…
1721 N Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Although it’s technically not on Wilton Drive, Boardwalk’s a close enough neighbor, and it is a bar that serves food, and more than just the sausage-fest you might expect. The fare at the aptly named Beefcakes includes tacos, wings and burgers as well as other classic bar bites. The street-side café offers some great people-watching, whether the dancing boys are around or not.
Bubbles and Pearls
2037 Wilton Drive
Wilton Drive is being taken over by food show alums! In addition to the Robyn Almodovar menu at Rumors, Bravo’s “Top Chef” competitor, Josie Smith Malave, has opened a globally inspired Champagne and raw bar, serving up small plates. As of this writing, there were no regular hours; they’re open only when people make reservations.