Pompano Beach is known for its giant casino and minefield of strip clubs, but here's a little-known fact: It's one of the ass-kickingest places to watch a Dolphins game. Between beer-chugging camaraderie and hot girls in jerseys at Bru's Room, a dose of hippie-paced football culture at Pat's Place, and more drunken, entertaining sports fans at the Bearded Clam, Pompano Beach is one football-lovin' town.
Bru's Room: Bru's Room was packed with an aqua-and-orange-spotted sea of good ol' football fans long before the Dolphins/Colts game on a recent Monday evening. People sat elbow-to-elbow at the bar, gathered in groups on the patio, and squashed around tables. At the back of the bar room was a large mirror with colored bubble letters scrawled across it proclaiming the football-game specials — no drink more expensive than $5.90 and plenty less than $3. The interior was decorated with Gators banners, Budweiser signs, drink-special ads, and various framed paraphernalia, including a signed Mighty Ducks jersey (go figure).
"What's Bru's Brew?" I asked the waitress, pointing to a drink listed on the menu.
"Oh, it's Icehouse." Our pocket-sized waitress had straight brown hair and excellent facial structure.
"What's Icehouse?" I turned to my two accompanying friends.
"Pretty much the worst beer ever," one of them, Beard, told me. He ordered a Dos Equis.
Meanwhile, the game had commenced. Peyton Manning threw a long pass, resulting in an immediate touchdown just a few seconds into the game. The crowd collectively sucked its teeth and subsequently moaned in disappointment.
After ingesting one (OK, five) too many fried pickles, I moseyed over to a pair of good-looking ladies who actually seemed to (gasp!) care about the game. Sally had kinky blond hair and wore a green Jason Taylor jersey. Her friend Julie was dark-haired and rather prim.
"You know, an ex-Dolphins player is part-owner of this bar," Sally volunteered. "Bob Brudzinski."
"And this is the best place to watch the Dolphins," said Julie. "It's awesome."
"They save our spots every week," said Sally. "This entire group is ours." She gestured. The entire narrow side of the rectangular bar was awash with a motley assortment of Dolphins fans, all studying the many flat-screen TVs intently.
"So, do you just come to look cute in that jersey, or are you a true fan?" I asked Sally.
"We're die-hard," said Sally. "We were here the season they lost every game."
"They didn't lose every game," I corrected her. "They won one."
"Oh, yeah, and that was such a great day. We celebrated so hard that night," Sally said. "It was just one game, but I was so glad we didn't go 0 and 16."
Just then, the Dolphins scored a touchdown and evened the score. Bru's Room exploded with cheering, clapping, and "wooo"-ing. A portly guy in an orange shirt enthusiastically double-high-fived a brunet who didn't seem to know him. Julie and Sally's entire group of friends took victory shots.
Pat's Place: Pat's was slow-paced and sleepy in comparison to Bru's Room or a similar fan-packed sports bar, but it had a certain 1970s charm that I couldn't help but love — the orange walls, the mustached old gents watching the game, Pink Floyd subtly playing in the background. There were a dozen or so flat screens, about half of them showing the Dolphins game, and a Wii in a small room off from the main bar. An American flag covered one wall, and a moose's head adorned another. The bartender, Steve, greeted us warmly, and I hopped up on a barstool, next to a scraggly gentleman who was unsuccessfully attempting to explain the rules of football to his wobblingly drunk female companion. She nodded with feigned interest, but her eyes were visibly glazed over.
The bartender was attentive and pleasant and whisked a bourbon and Coke over before the words finished coming out of my mouth. (Bonus points: Much later, when I suspected I'd drunkenly forgotten my credit card at Pat's, I called the bar and Steve took painstaking efforts to help me relocate it. This was all futile because the mislaid credit card was on my kitchen table, behind a stack of old New Times papers.)
"What are all these pictures?" The entire bar surface was covered with old photographs, most of them aged and slightly sepia-toned.
"They're from over the years," the bartender said, leaning in. "They're slightly older, so don't be surprised if you see pictures of people in short-shorts and high tube socks." He gave a charming laugh.
Sure enough, the folks in the photos had aviators clipped to their shirts, big hats, tuxedo T-shirts, long beards, and bikini babes posing with a yacht called Dolphin Panamara. There was even a photo of Dolphin paraphernalia-clad people tailgating. A bar that's loved the Dolphins since before I was born? Now that's hardcore.
The Bearded Clam: The Bearded Clam, an appropriately fishy-smelling venue, had red walls, a pool table, a giant fish tank along the front wall (with a life-sized mermaid statue laying inside), a lobster tank by the entrance, and two TVs playing the Dolphins game. The bar dominated the room, and the young, blond bartender brought us each a cold one.
"That last Dolphins game of the year...," said Joshua, a patron who had a scruffy beard and wore a shirt covered with cat illustrations. It read "What kind of pussy do you like?"
Remembering past, suckier Dolphins seasons, he said, "I'm not leaving that stadium without a W. We'll get a win if I have to jump on the field and do it myself." He paused before shouting: "Super Bowl champions!"
His buddy, Jay, who had a black tank top and slicked-back black hair, rolled his eyes.
"The Dolphins suck, man. I'm all about the Steelers."
"Why do you like the Dolphins so much?" I asked Joshua. "Were you raised here?"
"No, but my dad became a fan back in the '60s, when they first became a franchise."
"Wow, so you're a fan by birth," I said.
Jay interjected, "I like the Steelers because I watched 'em growing up." He took a swig of his drink.
"The Steelers might be OK if Polamalu comes back," Joshua mused.
"The Dolphins will suck regardless," Jay said.
Just then, the Colts tied the game.
"BULL-FUCK!" screamed another guy, pointing wildly at the screen. Aaron had clear, blue eyes and wore a long-sleeved yellow shirt. "I call shenanigans! SHENANIGANS!"
"Excuse me?" I asked.
"I'm sick of bullshit; it's overused. So I made up bullfuck," he explained. "I figure I'd rather see cows fucking than shitting. And I'd know — my family is all cattle farmers."
Just then, my friend Beard noticed the mermaid in the tank behind us. "What's that?"
"That's my wife," said Aaron. "I keep her in a tank."
"So she doesn't get away?" I must have looked serious, because Aaron laughed.
"Silly, that's not actually my wife," he said. "My wife is at home, chained to a stove, barefoot and pregnant."
I raised my eyebrows.
"Kidding again," he said. "This is 2009. I have her on one of those invisible-fence dog collars."
"No, but seriously," he said. His smile evaporated. "I'm not married."
"What a surprise," I said.
"Just drunk," he continued, the smile returning. "GO DOLPHINS!"