If you haven't figured it out yet; The Royal PIg Pub is the new "it" on Las Olas. Teaming with ex-YOLO regulars, there's a new place in town for the grown ups to hang out, and it's taking Las Olas by a storm. Previously the Samba Room; The Royal Pig is a complete remake of the space, from a dark, clubby space with a smallish bar to a mega bar that runs from the rear kitchen to 20 feet from the front door.
The Royal Pig is the first place since YOLO opened to quality as a suitable hangout; it's as close to a sports bar as you can get without being called a Sports Bar. They have lots of TVs, comfortable bar seating and lots of booths. The bar scene is the big thing here; everything revolves around the huge central bar.jump-->
The Royal Pig is owned by the restaurant group that owns most of the Hooters in South Florida, as well as Lulu's Bait Shack; this concept is intended to be a more sophisticated approach. While they have some cuties working here that I wouldn't mind seeing in tight, orange shorts, the bartender's attire is more refined with vests and purple ties.
One thing I can say without hesitation is that they have the best free bar food in the city; house-made potato chips are served up during the week.
Sometimes they're a bit soggy, but when they're crispy and well-done I have to stop them from giving me refills on these. They usually run out by 10pm.
The Royal Pig has become the new Bar Scene place in Fort Lauderdale; if you remember what Big City Tavern was like 5 years ago you'll know what's going on here. While Big City reigned before there was competition for the "Look at Me" crowd from YOLO, the Pig is the younger, yuppier, rock-and-roll crowd that prefers Tom Petty to the disco beat where they hang out. On Fridays the crowd is decidedly younger, and the place has become the de-facto place to watch Heat games and college sports. Recent grads screaming for their alma-maters; I've never taken to college sports myself. Saturdays are a bit older; with a spattering of YOLO defectors easily identified by the sequins and clutches.
During the week, you can usually get a seat at the bar, although the place is never dead empty. The Big TVs make hanging out and having a drink a comfortable experience.
They push the "schooners", which seem curiously popular considering that they're only 2 ounces bigger than the much more manageable "pub" glasses, which are a pint.
They have a wide selection of beers on tap; drink prices here are fair.
Their outdoor space is much more appealing than previously at the Samba room. There are TVs at the bar and an eclectic array of seating choices, although big fans by the bar will mess up your hairdo.
Outdoor spaces have become mostly for smokers in modern times, unfortunately, so it's difficult for me to enjoy it with any sort of crowd.>
Service here highly depends on who is working; some of the servers are routinely excellent, and others simply lack a second gear needed to handle the big crowds they get here on weekends. On Fridays and Saturdays the bar is 3 deep and getting a drink can be a challenge.
Eating here on weekends can be 'hectic". There's really no where to hide from the scene. It's part of the charm of the place, but don't expect to have a quiet dinner on a Friday night as there's no escaping the action, except perhaps on the sidewalk tables. During the week it's more tranquil and service ranges from good to top notch.
I had high hopes for the menu here, with wings, ribs and rotisserie fowl creating some interesting possibilities. But overall, I have to say that I'm underwhelmed. While many of the items can be quite good, inconsistency is a problem. Dishes tend to be too saucy with too much bread. They favor fancy ingredients over portions; 6 wings and 4 ribs just isn't enough. The first time I had the wings they were moist, rotisserie wings; the next time they were finished on the grill and not as good.
The same goes for the Spinach Dip, I've seen it 10 times and it never looked the same twice.
The ribs are excellent; easily the best restaurant ribs in the area. The brussels sprouts are good also, but the dish leaves me wanting another rib or 2.
By far my favorite menu item is, surprisingly, the Buffalo Chicken Sliders. With mild buffalo sauce and blue cheese, they're just want I want in a snack. I've gotten these piled high with chicken and with much more modest portions; sometimes they come on onion rolls and sometimes they're plain.
I also like the nachos, individual "tostada" style nachos with your choice of pulled pork, chicken or duck. I order them with extra jalepenos. IMO the weeds on top are wholly unnecessary. You gotta love the tiny tabasco, even though I have no use for the stuff.
Specifically not recommended are the Salmon entree and the "Prime" beef sliders. The other sliders are better.
The Royal Pig Pub is the best addition to Las Olas in years. Whether you're having a meal, grabbing some apps at the bar or watching a big game, the Pig provides a fun, comfortable atmosphere at reasonable prices.
Disclosure: Some photos were from a mock service where food was provided free of charge.