Southport Raw Bar
1536 Cordova Road, Fort Lauderdale
Call 954-525-CLAM, or visit southportrawbar.com
There are portholes on the doors and a map of the Gulf of Mexico on the booth in front of me. Southport Raw Bar celebrates all the grit of the oyster-shucking, hard-drinking boating culture. The place has musty green carpet; ancient ceiling tiles with advertisements painted on them; a long, chipped bar; ratty booths; and is covered in kitsch (beach scenes painted on driftwood and mounted on the walls; flickering neon beer ads; "Old Florida" surfer décor).
Its saving grace is its mesmerizing waterfront view and comfortable
environment: In the days before the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, "Sweet
Home Alabama" played over the 'Port's speakers, bartenders served up a
plethora of tried-and-true brews (Yuengling, Stella Artois, Dos Equis,
Amstel, to name a few) and a crowd of boaters, babes, and bad-asses made
small talk. It seemed to be the perfect place for aspiring yachtie
groupies to hang out, so after a few moments I docked myself at the bar.
Lonnie, the on-duty manager, wore glasses and a crisp shirt.
"Boats dock here all the time," he told me hurriedly.
"Are you anticipating a big crowd during the boat show?" I asked.
"After the boat show," he assured me. "Everyone will be here."
Well, that wasn't good enough. I turned to a passing waitress.
"Hey, say someone wanted to hook up with a boat captain," I said. She gave me a look that
was possibly one of judgment.
"That shouldn't be hard here," she said over her shoulder. "But a word of warning: They won't be the best looking."
piqued, I wandered outside to the waterfront patio. A few fishing boats
were docked nearby. Blue lights illuminated the diverse crowd drinking
at the scattered wooden tables. I breathed in the thick, salty air
before darting back inside and nearly running into Amanda, a hot
bartender chick who had elaborate, beautiful tattoos winding up and down
"If I wanted to hook up with a boat captain," I said. "Would that be possible?"
Amanda didn't miss a beat. She whipped out her phone.
"I can call one right now," she said, her tongue ring flickering in the low light.
"No ... OK, thanks, but ..." I stammered. "Well, is he good-looking?"
Her eyes flashed and she hesitated. "Uh..."
"No, huh?" I asked.
"I'm not a good liar," she admitted.
She was at least happy to indulge me in a guided tour of her tattoos.
boyfriend does them," she told me, exhibiting a plethora of hues,
patterns, and an unfinished sketch of a female face. "Some aren't done
yet," she added before lifting her shirt slightly to reveal a black
widow spider sitting in a web, looking about as adorable as a deadly
insect ever could.
"We have matching ones," she said, grabbing the
arm of Damean, a nearby patron, and turning his wrist to reveal an inky
black tattoo of a big, venemous spider. Damean had dark, closely cropped
hair and sported a chinstrap-style beard.
"I know some captains too," he said. "But they're, like, $300,000 a year captains. They...don't hang out here."
He smiled a little.
"Whoa," I said. "Are those ones hot?"
of them are hot," he said. "Look, captains are not hot. Maybe you'll
find a hot steward or something. What they do is, they hire a bunch of
hot chicks with big tits to crew. They're hot."
Before I could speak, he quickly added: "Don't get offended. That's nothing against women. It's just that, sex sells."
rolled my eyes. "I work for New Times. We have a half-naked chick on
the cover every week. It's unfortunate, but you're right."
another thing," Amanda added. "If you do meet a guy who wants to take
you back to his boat, make sure he owns the boat. Once I went with a guy
to 'his' boat and it turned out later that he was just chartering it."
She thought for a second. "But that one was cute. Most of 'em are
missing a few teeth."