Rosie's Bar and Grill in Wilton Manors: Irreverence and a Kitschy Space Make for a Party

My prom at the Jersey Shore in the '90s was as kitschy as you'd expect. I wore a shiny teal dress. I had big hair. We got drunk beforehand and piled into a big banquet room decorated with blow-up palm trees and paper lanterns. We smoked with our friends outside and danced to Prince.

That's what I'm reminded of at Rosie's, the Wilton Manors mainstay. It's the setting for a big gay prom. There's even a pair of pink painted palm trees adorned with purple lights, firming up Rosie's identity as a place for absurdity, boozing, and fun, where the food is beside the point.

The place opened first as a Hamburger Mary's, a national burger chain with a sassy shtick. It went independent in 2006 and sauced up its image. Mary was dumped for a more voluptuous Rosie. Instead of working assembly like Rosie the Riveter, she's working the line in the kitchen. Dish names are pornier than Mary's, with burgers like the Ida Givahumma with hummus, sprouts, and avocado or the Rhoda Cowboy with cheese, barbecue sauce, and bacon.

Sandwiches like the Key West club are all over-the-top.
Sandwiches like the Key West club are all over-the-top.

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Rosie's Bar and Grill

2449 Wilton Drive
Wilton Manors, FL 33305

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Wilton Manors

Details

Rosie's Bar and Grill, 2449 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors. Call 954-563-0123.

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Outside, faded pastel paper lanterns on strings reach for corners. Diners lounge at umbrella tables, the few chilly ones wrapped in the restaurant's zebra-printed, neon blankets. In one room, walls are draped with cornflower blue and sea green. "God knows when you don't tip" declares a sign behind the bar. It's paired with a plaque of a '50s company man who points to patrons: "Tequila!" he says. From the speakers, Prince sings "Let's Go Crazy," followed by a four-on-the-floor playlist.

"You have to get there by 11:30," says my friend, who's a frequent bruncher at Rosie's. The place gets packed, with regulars crowding the bar and the standing tables. I normally don't care for brunch — why get dressed to wait in line for overpriced eggs? — but I was curious to see the scene.

"I need help with my order," I tell my server, Josh, on a recent Sunday morning from my seat at the bar. He's wearing a shirt that reads, "Don't make me talk about you when you're gone."

Josh grimaced. "Hold on," he said. "I need to confer." Off in the corner, Josh and bartender Nate powwowed.

My friend Andrew suggested the "big 'dict crab cake" or the "fat Elvis." The menu describes that second dish as "A big, ripe banana smothered in chunky peanut butter and stuffed into challah bread, and soaked in Rosie's delicious French toast mix and deep fried until crunchy."

Josh returned, facing me, hands on hips. "We don't think you should order either dish. You'll be done for the afternoon if you get the Fat Elvis," he said. "And, frankly, I don't like our crab cakes. We think you should get the 'tortilla stack attack.' "

Like everything else here, the stack attack is over-the-top: crispy tortillas, black beans, fried eggs, sour cream, tomatillo salsa verde, cilantro, avocado, fried jalapeño, and Jack and cheddar cheese. It's a gloopy, guilty pleasure as likely to drop in your lap as your mouth. House-fried tortillas are light and flaky. I liked it enough, but it was Josh's honesty and charisma that won me over.

Brunch is the meal of note for the scene and large plates, and yet dinner is nearly as festive. On a recent Wednesday night, three friends and I grabbed an outside table with the intent of getting a round of burgers. The menu categories them like friends: Rosie's Fave, the Wild Girls, Rosie's Pen Pals, and Fringe Friends (for vegetarians). They're all giant. The Miley Highclub on brioche, for example, is a flattened patty of ground beef that too closely resembles a Bubba burger. It's near black on the outside. There's no juice. Instead, toppings deliver flavor: avocado, bacon, Swiss, and an herb mayo that garnishes in a manner that riffs on the name. If only this were a gastropub burger or even a gourmet fast-food rendition. Each bite is dry. The bun seems stale.

"Is this burger medium?" I asked my table, scraping through ingredients to find it's barely pink in the center. Onion rings on the side are supercrunchy and overdone. I should have chosen fries or slaw or something healthier, like a salad.

Rosie's does accommodate its lean, muscular regulars with a separate light-bite menu on a narrow sheet of paper. Smaller wraps, vegetarian sandwiches, salads, and Spartan soups seed the menu: fuel for the health conscious but a clash to the wanton surroundings.

Encouraged by the décor, most patrons abandon restraint when visiting Rosie's. If you're not stuffing yourself with bar food here, it's a place to get drunk. Brunch cocktails are $3 a pop. Happy hour is more like happy day, with specials from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., which includes half-priced beer and wine and a dollar off rail drinks. Even during my lunch visits during the workweek, I want several rounds of beer.

"Don't feed the pigeons. No, really. Don't," reads our server's shirt on our burger night. If only the food were as engaging as the wit and kitsch. Instead, it's irreverence and cheap drinks that make for a regular stop. With so many patrons who take Prince's advice, Rosie's is relegated to food for fuel and a recipe to party.

 
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15 comments
George
George

Been ther countless times and have never been disappointed.Love he Key West Club, grilled shrimp and bacon, fav burger is Wilma Breath stink , with garlic and marinated in wine sauce ... MMMM Same for my friends. I think the problem is with the reviewer. Hope I don't run into Mellisa , She sounds like a real downer.  

Zoe
Zoe

Not only is this review totally wrong--rosie's rocks--it is also a bore. I used to love to read gail's reviews. What happened?

Tom Stark
Tom Stark

I'll tell you what the food is good. BUT they need to tell people to tone it down when eatting. the last time i was there it was so loud i could even hear my partner talking to me, and that was at lunch. I was disappointed.

Bjungle001
Bjungle001

MMM Really? I agree with the service, its ok not bad but food is HORRIBLE HORRIBLE. There's only one burger that is ok, the rest of the food, i better go to Mc Donalds. Plus the drinks are full with ICE so this way you ask for more and pay the 8 or 9 dollars for each. Very expensive for South Florida. However the service is great. From 1 to 10 ; MMMM 5 IS OK.. 

Ftlandre
Ftlandre

Wow Bjungle001; you sound like a very disgruntled former staff member or someone who was asked to leave the establishment because of some sort of behavioral problem.

I have never heard anyone say anything like that about the food, EVER !!

The Englishman!
The Englishman!

Ok well if you've ever been to england and seen the amount of alcohol they put in there drinks then i think you would be grateful. Also just ask with no ice next time you go back. A triple in england is a single at rosies. Again regarding the food, I found the food good. To be honest with you, every time i go there i have the Elvis Burger and the great balls of fire. Now that is my cup of tea! Love the food! Next time i go, which will be in November i shall try other things instead of the same thing. Even my friends here in england have visited and they have said the food is amazing. I know a few people around there and they always say the food is good. I dont always go there for just the food though. Normally go there to socialise and have a couple of drinks and have a laugh. But thats our opinion anyway

The Englishman!
The Englishman!

Melissa, I don't know if you were high as a kite while writing this article! I live in England and have friends in South Florida and they took me to Rosies nearly 5yrs ago now. Since then, every year i go back to South Florida and always go to rosies!! The service is incredible and the food is outstanding. I feel confortable there and always enjoy myself! Love the way the place looks as well, Trendy and Fun! Havent got to be on my guard! Maybe if you werent such a snob you would enjoy yourself!

Ftlcub
Ftlcub

I'm not sure whats happening with this article, either Ms. Melissa has an axe to grind, or she heard such good things from friends, that she wanted ( with the power of her word processor " ) wanted to knock a very enjoyable & great place to eat, down a couple pegs.

Sometimes a burger doesn't get cooked exactly, and that is bad, yet she says the onion rings are over cooked, yet the picture in the article shows some excellently Golden Brown Onion Ring. Strange...I would imagine that if all of it is for one table it would come from the same fry basket, they wouldn't have 2 onion Ring in 2 seeperte baskets.

I was just there and saw now faded paper lanterns. Maybe it was your Faded rose colored glasses ?

Before you make such nasty suggestions as "it's a place to get drunk", many Resturants that are open from Lunch through dinner have happy Hour and Lunch special to bring in customers.

You know, I live around the corner of this place, and a day after Hurricain Wilma, they opened up, and grilled burgers for anyone that walked up, since none of us had power. Is every meal I have eaten there perfect, no; but I know for a fact if it isn't I could call a manager over and they will have it fixed, with a smile on their face.

All I can say to Ms Melissa is..... "BITTER, TABLE FOR ONE, BITTER, TABLE FOR ONE"

MelissaMcCart
MelissaMcCart

It is a great place to visit.

The photos are staged for a photographer who comes in after I do, so of couse they're going to look terrific. And as for the lanterns: I took photos of the place to ensure I have those details were right. The lanterns were easy swap -- either coincidence or for a photo shoot.

I don't think saying a restaurant is a place to get drunk is nasty. That tequila sign behind the bar reads, "Tequila: have you hugged your toilet today?"  It's encouraged. 

In the blog when I introduced Rosie's I wrote how the owners cater to locals. They do. But for a restaurant critic to sing praises of the food when it's merely fine -- or less-- is a disservice. I wrote what the place does well.  Telling the truth isn't bitter, but your comment made me laugh. Thank you.

Ftlcub
Ftlcub

OK, well it doesn't look or sound good for you to say the onion rings were over cooked, when you have photo showing exactly the opposite does it ?And as for the lanterns, well maybe they were changed i don't know, but it's an outdoor area, the rain and elements get to it. Saying " faded pastel paper lanterns" makes it sound like the place is not taken care of, and I would say just the opposite. The staff works hard to make sure the tables are cleared quick, and the grounds are neat. Remember, you may have had a average or "merely fine" meal, but if your readers take your comments to heart, then business goes down and people lose jobs because people stop going.As for the signs, GIRL !!! they are the decoration all around the restaurant, it for humor purposes, they are not to suggest people follow through with it.What is in the Blog, doesn't get to the "I'll just pick up this paper" readers. You can say the the world lives and dies at Rosie's on the blog, but if the readers of your article don't see it in type, they wont go !

I've been going to Rosie's since it open as HM. and there is a distinct difference for the better in the food !  I eat a lot of fish there, and I know it is very fresh !! and the Fish Tacos or the Fish Reuben is Excellent, although I will admit I ask for the Reuben in a wrap, it's even better that way !

Brit
Brit

This article is doesn't do Rosie's justice - Rosie's is one of the best places for GREAT food and cocktails. The Sunday brunch is one of the best in all of South Florida, and possibly the USA. Their burgers are so creative and they are one of the only places you can actually get waffle cut sweet potato fries - YUM! I've never had a bad experience at Rosie's and the staff is always hospitable and on point. I say make up your own mind and check the place out - I can promise you will leave with a smile on your face and full stomach!

Mike M
Mike M

I love that place.

CW
CW

the worst food and service!!!  go to peter pan diner instead!!

Ftlcub
Ftlcub

You look it, honey !!!!

 
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