Raising the Bar: Local taverns dish up tasty fare

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It wasn’t that long ago that the closest most bars came to serving food was the olive in your martini (and no, it doesn’t count as a serving of fruit). While we all know you shouldn’t drink and drive, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional “drink and dine” experience. Recently, quite a few places in WilMa have stepped up their game when it comes to the food they serve, all the better to keep you happy and at the bar.

The Pub

2283 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors

754-200-5244

ThePubWM.com

Part of The Pub’s recent remodel and redesign was adding a kitchen. When the kitchen first opened, the menu was ambitious, perhaps too much so for such a small space. When the new owners took over one of the first things they did was pare back the menu, keeping some of the most successful dishes, jettisoning those that didn’t work or weren’t as popular and rounding it out with a few new items. The result is a menu that is not only feasible, but represents what people actually want in bar food.

Classic snack favorites include; nachos, chicken wings, pretzel bites, potato skins and fries, as well as a couple of more upscale items such as; fried calamari (tossed with grape tomatoes and Calabria peppers) and a bloody Mary shrimp cocktail. For you French Canadians, there’s poutine.

The menu’s main attraction is The Pub burger. Other sandwich options include a build your own burger, chicken tenders (grilled or fried), a spicy breaded Buffalo chicken breast in a flour wrap, and an Italian-seasoned grilled chicken breast, all served with fries. A basket of hand battered fish and chips is served with a dill citrus tartar and red cabbage slaw. To accompany these delectable tidbits, drinks are two-for-one from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.

Gym Sports Bar

2287 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors

954-368-5318

GymSportsBar.com

The Wilton Manors outpost of the popular sports bar from New York and Los Angeles, boasts, “Cheap and proud of it!” and the menu certainly reflects that. The fare is just what you want for bar food; lots of fried stuff to soak up the alcohol at a reasonable price (truth in advertising!). Fried things proliferate; egg rolls, fries, onion rings, fried pickles along with heartier fare such as burgers, nachos and tacos. If you’re feeling healthy there is a side salad and you can swap out a boneless, skinless chicken breast for any burger. About the only shortcoming is the lack of a vegetarian burger.

Specials make the food an even bigger bargain, turning the inexpensive menu into a real bargain. From 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, nachos are just $2, (add another $2 for chicken or beef), mozzarella sticks are $4, hot dogs are a buck (add chili or cheese half a buck each), chicken tacos are $2, chicken tenders are $5, and wings are 75¢ each (minimum 6 per order). “Two for Tuesdays” bring you half-priced burgers and $2 tacos all day, although I’m not certain how that qualifies as “Two for…” who’s going to complain when food this good is this cheap? On Thursdays, hot dogs are a buck all day and on weekends, you can catch the latest games while chowing down on 75¢ wings.

Rumors

2426 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors

954-565-8851

RumorsBarWiltonManors.com

Rumors steps bar food up a notch, with a menu designed by celebrity chef Robyn Almodóvar (Food Network’s “Chopped," "Cutthroat Kitchen” and “Food Truck Face-Off” and Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen”). The extensive menu includes brunch, lunch, dinner or just a snack.

Munchies include southwestern egg rolls, corn and crab fritters, quesadillas, guacamole and chips, fried cauliflower or mushrooms, black bean hummus, extreme tater tots, stuffed potato skins, kettle chip nachos or a sampler platter. There’s a late-night menu of munchies including most of the above and fried or grilled jumbo shrimp and chicken tenders breaded with Captain Crunch cereal! Wings come with your choice of sauces; honey-bbq, lemon pepper, Buffalo, teriyaki or the combo, “lemon-aki.”

Sandwich options include sliders (chicken, short rib and filet mignon), Philly cheesesteak, meatball, short rib grilled cheese, crab cake, buffalo chicken and burgers, including a black-bean vegetarian version. There are also salads and a variety of sides, both the expected (onion rings, tater tots) and unusual (truffle French fries, and truly addictive spicy-sweet fried Brussels sprouts).

Brunch choices range from standard fare, such as eggs and omelets, French toast, pancakes and biscuits and gravy to more exotic selections; crab cake Benedict, an open faced steak sandwich, avocado toast and chicken and waffles.

Beefcakes

1721 N Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale

954-463-6969

BoardwalkBar.com

If all you know about Boardwalk is the naked dancers, you’re missing half the fun. The bar has a wonderful outdoor dining area called Beefcakes where the food is way better than you’d expect. The menu is also as long as the dancers’… let’s just say it’s extensive!

Soup options include a delicious French onion or a crock of chili. There are a variety of salads; from a simple house to a filling Caesar (with the option of adding grilled chicken or salmon), a bountiful Cobb and chicken tenders with romaine.

Munchies include chicken wings with a choice of glazes (Buffalo, Jack Daniel’s, parmesan-garlic, Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue, teriyaki or sweet & sour orange garlic), colossal onion rings, Asian vegetable rolls, potato skins, jalapeño poppers, Asian ribs, and a cheese quesadilla. Other quesadillas are stuffed with everything from Cuban style chicken to Philly cheese steak. Sliders are made from your choice of ground beef, ground turkey or Buffalo chicken tenders. Other yummy nibblies include; mozzarella moons, chicken fingers, jalapeño poppers and potato skins. The big daddy platter is filled with most of the above.

Burgers and sandwiches offer traditional toppings as well as specialty combos and turkey and veggie offerings. Other sandwich selections run the gamut from a Philly cheesesteak (or a chicken version), a meatball sub, Reuben, French dip, blackened or breaded fish and a giant wiener (would you expect anything less than a foot-long quarter pounder?).

Fish tacos, chicken shish kabob, spaghetti and meatballs, grilled chicken or salmon are among the entrée offerings, as is Vickie’s fried chicken dinner (named after the popular bartender, it’s half a chicken coated with Boardwalk’s southern buttermilk batter and served with mashed potatoes and chicken gravy). Meat and potato eaters will love the 16 oz. NY strip or rib-eye steak served with 2 side items and an onion ring garnish.

There’s a special menu for those watching their weight and it even lists Weight Watchers’ point values for each dish. Among the selections available are; grilled chicken wrap, a lettuce wrap burger and a tuna and egg salad combo served with carrots, celery, cucumbers and pita chips. On the weekends, breakfast is served. There is often a buffet as well as an a la carte menu with standard offerings.


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