I've been to Bokamper's a bunch of times to watch Sunday Football since the last review, But most of the time there isn't much to write about. I've eaten the last 2 times I've been there, with mixed results.
One thing I knew going in was that I wasn't going to be the only NY Giants fan in the place.
One thing I've noticed is that not many people come here by boat. Five years ago, the boats would be 3 deep on a Sunday at Shooter's. This place usually has 1 or 2. It's usually pretty sleepy by the dock.
Bokamper's Fort Lauderdale Dock
The inside gets pretty crowded when the Dolphins are playing. There really isn't much room to stand at the main bar, so I usually hang out outside.
Bokamper's Fort Lauderdale Main Bar
While they allow smoking outside, not many people smoke. They'd be smart to ban smoking in the covered patio, because 1 or 2 smokers can ruin it for everyone else. Make them go out to the dock. While the patio is technically open air, it's really not. It might just as well be a covered, enclosed room.
A couple of weeks ago, I came in when the Dolphins weren't playing and got a seat in the back. I ordered some wings; grilled medium.
I wasn't impressed with the grilling; it's like they just tossed them on a dirty grill, not understanding the point of grilling the wings.
Bokamper's Grilled Wing
These wings weren't as good as the wings I'd had at their Davie location. They were just like some regular wings rolled in some sauce. No baked in flavor. I've seen some really wet looking wings come out of the kitchen here. I don't think that they have a consistent way of making the wings. Sometimes they look good, and sometimes they look awful. These weren't anything I'd order again.
In one of the most boneheaded moves I've ever seen, for some reason they've put plants out on the patio in the middle of one of the only clear areas outside. First, they're not nice plants, and second, they're just in the way. It's hard enough for the servers to get by without having to navigate a bunch of plants that add nothing to the ambiance. Whoever came up with this idea needs to be taken out to the woodshed.
Bokamper's Plants in the way
Another development is people letting their dogs run free without a leash. Imagine if everyone had the same idea?
Free Roaming Dog at Bokamper's
While the dog was very well behaved, it is against the law to allow a dog to run free without a leash in a public place. When one person does it, others will follow, and it's also a major liability to the bar.
Here's the Broward County Leash Law:
Animals "At Large" – The Leash Law: Section 4-3
The term “at large” means that your pet is not confined or somehow controlled.
It is against the law for any person to permit their dog to be at large. This means that the dog must be under the direct, physical control of a person by means of one of the following:
Confined to the property of its owner by means of a fence
It is against the law to tie, chain or tether a dog so that it has access to public property or the property of another person.
Pets found to be “at large” may be impounded at the Broward County Animal Care shelter.
Bars and restaurants must train their employees to instruct people to put their dogs on a leash. If someone even trips over a playful dog and cracks their head open, the restaurant will be out of business shortly thereafter.
The Giants had a 4pm game so after the Dolphins game was over some seats opened up and I sat down to have a bite. They have a "raw bar" menu now, with different prices than the regular menu. Notice the price of the Peel and Eat shrimp is $12.99 on the regular menu and $13.99 on the raw bar menu. This is because a "raw bar" is cooler and therefore things cost more if you order it from the raw bar menu.
Bokamper's Menu with different prices
Iced tea is served in nice glasses without mint; I got an unwanted mint leaf at the Davie location, but luckily it's not a trend.
Bokamper's Iced Tea
I'd seen someone with a lobster roll earlier and it looked good; normally I wouldn't order something like that here, but it was actually reasonably prices. Just about everything here is overpriced, but most people are charging $19 for a lobster roll now, so $14.99 doesn't seem so bad.
While waiting for the food, there was some entertainment by the main bar.
I'm not sure what was going on there but I didn't mind it too much.
The lobster roll came out in 6 minutes; one advantage of ordering cold food.
Bokamper's Lobster Roll
It was pretty minimalist and the meat was good lobster meat. It needed some seasoning, but overall a worthwhile sandwich. I even liked the fries; skin on steak fries that needed some salt. I recommend the lobster roll.
The first time I walked in to this place, I thought they did a great job. It seemed like a sports watching Mecca. But after actually watching a lot of games here, I've soured on it substantially. They don't have a plan for the games, and you can't really watch a game comfortably inside. So you're stuck either at the entrance to the patio, or on the South side of the patio bar, where they've now put plants, making the area uncomfortable.
Football season is over in one more week, so I likely won't be here again for a year. There's nothing social going on in this place, and I wouldn't come here to watch a basketball game. The crowd is pretty crusty; it's nothing like my first visit when it was the "new" thing, and it seemed like everyone was here.
I was in the area on a Sunday, and I wanted to see if Bokamper's had become a "Sunday Thing" the way that the old Shooters used to be. With no football games scheduled, it would be 4 more weeks before NFL Sundays packed the place.
I had some quarters so I avoided the Pay by Phone fee; Parking is still cheap in this area; a quarter gets you 35 minutes. I walked in to a dead venue. There were 2 people at the bar and I ordered a beer. On NFL Sundays you have no chance of getting a seat at the bar. To watch a baseball game or less popular event, this is a pretty good spot for it. Lots of big TVs right in front of you.
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale Main Inside Bar
The back bar was closed. I think I saw some tumbleweed.
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale Back Bar
Same deal with the back patio. There were some cretins in the corner who had no interest in Sports smoking and eating sushi; would you really come here for Sushi?>
No line for the bathroom today.
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale Patio Back Bar
No scene here. It's amazing how none of the waterfront space have become any sort of Weekend scene.
I don't usually go to sports bars outside of Football season, when I'm occasionally forces to go out to watch a NY Giants game that isn't on regular TV. I thought about coming to watch the olympics one afternoon, but never quite made it out. With March Madness now upon us; the opportunity arose.jump-->
The "Madness" that made parking near Bokamper's nearly impossible when they first opened has long passed; as has the euphoria felt when entering the place for the first time and you realized that there was now a Sports Mecca in Fort Lauderdale.
On a Friday Afternoon on the Second, and arguably the best day of March Madness, there wasn't 1 person sitting at an inside bar. The outside bar was mostly populated, however. I found a seat not next to a bunch of screaming idiots, which is important when you plan to eat at a Sports Bar.
Bokamper's Fort Lauderdale Lunch Crowd
When I sat down, there where only the 2 girls working; a formula which resulted in zero service for about 10 minutes. Finally one of them noticed me fidgeting and asked what I wanted.
"A menu and Iced Tea with extra lemon please". "Unsweetened?", she asked. "Yes".
The tea was delivered with 1 wedge of lemon and no sweeteners. And so it began.
I looked over the menu to see if I'd missed something; my plan was to order the Ribs. If you watch "House of Cards", you've been thinking about Ribs lately. I'd been to Bokamper's 5 or 6 times and I'd never seen anyone eating ribs, which was curious. They advertise them as "award winning", which is always a red flag in Fort Lauderdale. Because we all know the numbskulls who are giving out awards around here; the kind of people who think that Big City Tavern is a 5 star restaurant.
It didn't take me long to decide; but no server seemed interested in taking my order. Finally one came over; I ordered the ribs. "Fries OK"? She said. "What are the choices?", I asked. She didn't seem sure. Finally she mentioned salad. "Ok, I'll have the salad". She scampered away, not asking what dressing I wanted, nor informing me if I had choices.
Just after I ordered a Dude arrived and I asked for some extra lemon. Still nobody asked if I wanted sweeteners, although maybe he thought I'd declined previously. Splenda isn't really good for me anyway, I suppose.
The ribs came out with a big side salad.
Bokamper's "full" Rack of Ribs with Cole Slaw "garnish"
"Doesn't this come with Cole Slaw", I asked, not noticing the thimble on the plate. I later learned that Cole Slaw is considered a garnish at Bokampers. A lot different than the generous portion you get at Houston's or J Alexander's with Ribs.>
The salad was a lot bigger than I expected; I expected a small pile of lettuce on the plate. It has some sort of Balsamic dressing on it; something I would never have ordered if I'd been giving a choice
Bokampers "side" Salad
One of the things I don't like about balsamic; and a reason that restaurants like to use it, is that it turns everything brown, so you can't tell what was brown before they put dressing on it.
This salad was as ill-conceived as a salad could be. With croutons, mushrooms, carrots, spinach; it was like a plate of salad bar leftovers. The pickled red onions were better than raw. Considering the lack of cole slaw; the salad was better than fries.
Bokampers Salad with Pickled Red Onions
If ever a restaurant can be accused of false advertising; the ribs fit that bill here. A rack of ribs is 12-13 ribs, not 10. And these were not succulent, fall-off-the-bone or anything of the sort. The were dry, burned and tasted like leftovers. A C- on the ribs. The cole slaw was way too "Creamy" which disqualifies it as a "healthy" side dish.
I was criticised for saying "Stick to the Wings" when I first came here, because I didn't actually eat anything. But chain restaurants are wholly predictable, although a place that can't even make a decent salad is very low on the totem pole. I'll say it loud and clear:
Don't pay these prices for this food.
Get some grilled wings and just watch the games and enjoy the view and the weather
I've been back a couple of times, and the service is horrific. Bartenders are completely overmatched by the people right in front of them while parts of the bar go completely unattended. You have to put yourself right in front of someone to get served at all.
Also be aware that on Football Sundays, there's a massive line at 1pm, and expect to wait a while if you valet:
Bokampers Valet Line
I recommend the nearby metered parking. It's only like 40 cents per hour (a quarter gives you 35 minutes), although figure that one out of every 4 coins you put in the meter will not register (ie, be stolen by the city).
I also saw someone dump a full beer on the floor right next to a server station; the metal "bottles" don't break; and servers and running just kept walking over it without any concern about mopping it up. There was also a puddle on the patio for an my entire visit last week. When someone slips on the web concrete and cracks open their skull they'll start mopping up spills; but for now it's apparently not a concern.
I've yet to eat at this location, but I've become a master at visual inspection; you can tell when food it good by the way it looks. I'd say this is Duffy's quality all the way, except for maybe the sushi, which seems better than you'd expect.>
Bokampers is now open and I see no reason to beat around the bush. This new waterfront sports bar isn't just the best Sports Bar in Fort Lauderdale; it's the best venue of any kind north of Miami. This is going to be what Shooter's used to be; only bigger and better. Duffy's better start pricing some new projectors, because there's a new guy in town that is an absolute Mecca for watching Sports.
The first thing you notice is that there's no parking in the entire neighborhood. Last week this was a desolate neighborhood with nary a soul to be seen on a Saturday Afternoon; now you can't find a spot anywhere. I drove around the block a few times and spotted someone pulling out near Pizza Rustica. I guess you could park in the Shooters garage and walk from there. When Shooters reopens it's going to be sick down here.
The entire parking lot is valet; I don't know where they stuff the overflow. But it was a disaster. Line in, line out; people waiting all over the place for their cars. Part of the grand opening experience.
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale Valet Parking
You walk into a grand room with high ceilings and Bokamper's signature big sports scenes up high on the walls. They're bigger and better than in Plantation. No Skylight.
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale Entrance
There are TVs everywhere; and a lot of people. This is one place I won't mind standing. There's not a bad seat in the house.
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale Main Bar
Up on the wall, there's a monster projector TV; but it's really wholly unnecessary. There are so many big TVs you won't want to be lookup up that high.
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale Big Screen
Just standing and looking around; at first it's hard to grasp how big he place is. It's twice the size of Shooters and 3 times as functional. They have 3 huge bars and at least 5 distinct rooms; there's a private party room up front, a dining room on the North side, the main room, a pub room and a huge covered patio on the water. They even have a sushi bar; and they don't have some kid with a ball cap making the sushi either.
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale Sushi
The sushi bar doubles as the raw bar; with a sushi chef sucking oysters in between sushi orders.
On the south side there a "pub" room with an indoor-outdoor bar and some booths; this is where you might go to hang out if you're not into the Scene.
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale rear bar
But the star of the building is the back patio. In so many of these Sports bars, there's an outside bar that is home to the smokers; and you can't really go out there. This back patio is so big and cool that people aren't going to let the smokers take it over. If they're smart, they'll ban smoking under the covered areas, which would really make it perfect.
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale Patio Bar
There's a huge bar, and also another big area on the south size with tables and rows of TVs. Lots of mingling room in here.
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale Patio Rear Area
If you have a boat; you can come by boat. It's not as wide as Shooters, but it's a nice dock and they have people to help.
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale Dock
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale Patio from Dock
And if you like tap beer, they certainly have many to choose from to have with your sushi. Mostly the regular stuff; this isn't Tap42.
Bokampers Fort Lauderdale Taps
I never did get a seat; not that I was trying to hard to find one. This is definitely a walk-around place. A lot of silly women with white wine and sushi at the bar; but most people were eating messy nachos and big piles of wings.
Bokampers Pile of Wings
In summary, Bokamper's new sports bar has it all, even if you don't like sports. On this day, with Florida vs Florida State going, there were a lot of sports fans. But I recognized a bunch of people from LaPlaya, and there were the kind of girls that hang out with rich old men to get free oysters and wings. The old Shooters/Bootlegger crowd with a new place to play.
Service generally sucks, and I don't think its because it's a new opening. The bartenders here aren't real bartenders; a lot like Duffy's. They don't know how to scan a bar for customers who are trying to buy something. I watched all 3 bars for a while, and they're just running around with tunnel vision. They have no concept of who should be next. So if you're not standing in front of the POS system when they're punching stuff in, you may never get served.
They do allow dogs on the patio; it's not clear if it's a policy or if they just don't want to kick people out on the first weekend. A few dogs is fine; but there is the danger that it becomes like Briny's where there can be as many dogs as people; I hope they don't allow that to happen.
The big patio adds an open-air mingle factor reminiscent of Bootlegger in its Prime; the problem with Bootlegger was that it was too casual, and La Playa was too snooty and expensive. Bokampers bridges the gap; it's upscale yet casual, a place where college kids and millionaires can all feel comfortable. And it's a helluva place to watch the games.