Last Update
Dec 11th, 2019

The Wharf

20 W Las Olas
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33301
Overall Rating
2.1
Food
Service
Ambiance
Value
Last Review
12/08/2019

Details

Hours: Fri Night, Sat & Sun
Parking: Garage, Valet ($15)
Alcohol: Full Bar
Outdoor: Entirely
Reservations: Yes

Pros

Big Space with Multiple Bars and a Food Court

Cons

Food Truck Quality Food
High Prices
Difficult Parking, $15 Valet
No Sunday Ticket

Critic's Review

After a stop at Township I wandered over here just to see how it was on a sunday and to catch the late football games. Big red plastic Christmas ball and mini trees adorn the walkways.

Not as many people as last time and a lot more dogs. This place is like a doggie park. Big ugly dogs; who would want a giant poodle?

No lines today. The food isn't the reason to come here.

They don't have Sunday Ticket; you'd think a place pulling in the kind of money this place is could spring for a couple grand to show the games; this place is not an option to watch Sunday Football.

I wanted to get a picture of the pizza; they're touting this stuff as the brainchild of some Miami "chef", so I staked out the Piefather.

Notice the gourmet donut tower; living the high life.

It was quite a while before one came out; the girl sat pretty far away, but you can see how small the pizza is. I'd be surprised if it's 10".

A closer leftover slice gived you an idea; this is like mall pizza.

Yum. Rush up here to get yourself one of these.

Conclusion

The Wharf is where it's happening and is clearly the place to be seen with your doggie. There were many fewer older people here. This place is for men under 40 and women under 30. The music is horrendous; Imagine hanging on a deck listening to club music and drinking cheap champagne from plastic glasses. Cretins crowding into the "VIP" area. A sad narrative on what qualifies as a hotspot in Fort Lauderdale.

Initial Impressions 11/16/2019

I was going to take a walk down to the riverfront last Saturday, but it rained all day, and The Wharf is no place to be in the rain. It's about 1/2 mile down the riverwalk from where I live; better exercise than jumping around in front of the TV for 1/2 hour.

As much time and energy they've spent putting this place together, they certainly haven't done much to make the entrances inviting. For some reason there's a big empty zone between the river and the facility that is off-limits. A good place to walk a dog.

Perhaps for this reason there weren't many boats. Usually these "waterfront" venues are fodder for people who own big boats; they can wow the lowly patrons who arrive in cars with their flashy crafts. But you can't really see the boats arrive from the main venue; and the New River is a slow zone, so it takes a while to get from the intracoastal to the riverfront.

There's a security dude at the rear entrance; it wasn't clear if you were allowed to enter. Were they charging admission? Visions of La Playa, where they had a goon at the entrance who forced you to buy a drink in order to enter.

I decided to check out the front entrance; this side of the venue is dedicated to the $15 valet parking, which wasn't getting much action today. To save $15 people will park and walk.

The front entrance is a bit intimidating; there's a girl at a lecturn and a bunch of bouncer / security guys; no teenagers allowed without a parent. The official requirements for entry:

21 and Over; children accompanied by parents and leashed dogs permitted before 6pm. Dress Code strictly enforced.

Im not sure what the dress code is, but I usually wear normal clothes so I wasn't worried.

Inside, my first impression is that there's a lot of people just standing around. It was low 70s, a bit windy, so there wasn't a lot of summer-wear.

There's a VIP area with bottle service; the plants keep out the riffraff. Bottle service is for people so desperate to feel important that they're willing to spend a lot of money for a seat in a roped off area.

The 4:30p crowd wasn't too bad. I had no trouble getting a beer. $7 for a corona.

There are a lot of dogs during the day. People with dogs and babies. "Look what I have". Not much barking or crying, so it wasn't too bad. I don't like taking pictures with kids in them, so getting a shot was tricky in some places.

There are 3 bars, and it looks like they might be building a miniature golf course with the mini-lighthouse structures and the astroturf.

Lots of people out enjoying one of the first days without rain or searing heat in many months.

Groups of people hanging out and talking about nothing. So much fun. Even the dogs look bored.

Wondering what they did with all of the "stuff" that was hanging in Briny's? They made a selfie wall out of it. Can't leave here without getting a pic in front of this baby.

If you've seen the descriptions of this place in the dishonest publications you probably think that The Wharf is a culinary adventure; that restaurant row that will make Las Olas irrelevant. I don't know why newspapers have strayed from truthful reporting in favor of delusional dishonesty, but they have.

Dining Experience

The food here is served from concession stand type booths and trailer / Food Trucks. The "Pie Father", a concept created just for The Wharf, cranks out pizza that looks more like Tombstone than something you'd get in a pizzeria. Selling $2 worth of ingredients for $14 is very profitable.

A closer looks sums up the dining experience. Donuts and cheese fries and cheap wine in plastic cups. Imagine sitting on aluminum chairs at a picnic table and paying $32 for a $9 bottle of wine and drinking it from a plastic cup. Imagine The Wharf.

Other than bad pizza, there's something called Chino-Latino Tapas. This is Temple Street Eatery, a place that's too expensive for 30% less than you pay here. Get your kimchi and cheese quesadillas while they last.

We know there's no such thing as "sushi-grade", right?

And you watch well-dressed young men feast on "Adult Grilled Cheese" and Fish Tacos cranked out by kids hired by local restaurants. Somehow I don't think Dean Max is working the truck on Saturday night in lieu of his restaurant. As. you can see the dress code is strictly enforced.

The other food choice is the Lunchroom, which is Be Nice restaurant's lowest end sandwich shop concept. With the cornhole setup and ping pong table it's difficult to form a line for the $14 slider offerings.

Lots of people standing around with dogs. So much fun.

Conclusion

In a town desperate for a "social scene", any scene will do. The Wharf is the latest flavor of the month offering a place to congregate; a place to listen to bad music and get overpriced pedestrian food and booze. This place reminds me of Bokamper's when it first opened; it was the place to be that first football scene; at least Bokamper's is actually on the water.

To be fair they've done about as good a job as they could with the space considering it's basically a construction zone, but it's clearly being oversold. Getting all of the dishonest bloggers to depict the place as some sort of culinary adventure is counterproductive, particularly when the food is really nothing more than food truck grub. Most people over 30 are going to be disappointed here.

For those who must be seen, The Wharf provides the venue. It's helped by the fact that virtually all of the new venues in the city fail to appeal to the mainstream peacock feather strutting demographic; the beach is a disaster, and Shooter's is now a stuffy venue for the geezer class.

My litmus test for a waterfront hangout is a place called Paddy McGees, which used to be a weekend hot spot in Island Park Long Island before it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. They served up flame broiled burgers, sea-fresh clams and $5 Maine Lobsters. Now that was a place worth going out of your way for.

We'll see how many people will continue to come here week after week; I was bored in less than an hour.

Original Musings

I thought this was interesting; all of the usual Yelp idiots who love every restaurant in the city saying how great this place is, and then I looked at the "filtered, not recommended reviews":

Probably the most accurate review. Very curious.

I heard that The Wharf was opening this weekend, so I thought "Gee, they must be further along in construction than I thought. Then I took a walk to the riverfront.

There's no activity on the riverwalk, except for a few people walking their dogs; including one idiot who didn't think his dog needed to be on a leash. There's one thing for certain as you approach the venue's location: this is a construction site.

I didn't bring a hard hat so I was a bit worried. Briny's is under full construction as they're currently ripping the place. There are cranes and heavy equipment everywhere.

The entire deck area is fenced off; no access to the facilities. I had to jump the tape to get a good picture.

The plant guy yelled at me. You need an official escort to be inside.

The bar reminds me of the old Max's Grille; when they were the last surviving venue and they tried to lure in tourists with 3 for 1 drinks.

So despite the lies and nonsense you've read from the local newspaper bloggers; what they've done here is built a deck with a bar in the middle of a construction zone. My guess is that they've lured in restauranteurs who hope to open restaurants in the riverfront to offer food; I suspect they'll be kiosks like they have at tent festivals. The big headliners: Eliot Wolf and Alex Kuk; Dean Max. Reminds me of "Get Downtown"; maybe we'll be able to get some of Eliot's tasteless corned beef on a hamburger bun?

There's really not much of a "wharf" here; I'm not sure how many boats you can park here. And the deck is in the middle of the complex, so it's not really on the water.

It's hard to believe that there's so little to do in Fort Lauderdale that people are going to want to try to find a place to park around a construction zone to grab some cocktails and random food. I get that people may be interested to see what the Riverfront is going to be like when it's finished; but for now this is just a deck in the middle of nothing. Hopefully they have some working bathrooms.

Comment Policy Add Comment
Administrator
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This area is a total disaster during the week; stay away. I made the mistake of driving by and got stuck behind a cement truck.
Alex
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Fyi Your reviews are excellent and spot on! I appreciate the candor and attention to detail in your write ups. Keep up the good work
Linda
Reply
You never see the real pictures anywhere else. Thanks for telling the WHOLE story unlike everyone else!
Bajantime
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I run past there everyday and I just don't see it being successful.
Clyde
Reply
You know who's going to be here; the guys with the Lambos who used to hang out at YOLO and LaPlaya. The place not to be.
kevin
Reply
I have a reservation for the grand opening event this Saturday. I live downtown and tried to jog past this morning. I had to go to Himmarshee to cross the tracks. I was surprised that the riverfront trail was shut down considering the event is a couple of days away. I have been to the Miami Warf location and it is a cool venue. Hopefully they will recreate the Miami magic.
Administrator
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I think there's Zero chance of that. How does FTL beach compare to South Beach? Expect that level of similarity.

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