Pompano Beach Restaurants: The Rusty Hook Tavern

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Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest of The Rusty Hook Tavern. No monetary compensation has been received for this post. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

The Rusty Hook Tavern, Pompano Beach

Waterfront dining is one of my favorite parts about living in Florida, and there are certainly a great number of places to choose from for this kind of experience. Whether you’re right on top of the sandy beaches, overlooking the beautiful blue ocean from high above, or sitting with a perfect view of the Intracoastal, you’re in for a treat. I’m used to Boca and Delray views of the Intracoastal, but I was recently given the opportunity to see it from a new perspective — in the heart of Pompano Beach.

The Rusty Hook Tavern is situated alongside the Sands Harbor Resort and Marina. Its seaside decor makes it ideal for visitors when they want to feel like they’re on vacation by the water, and boaters are even welcome to drive on over and tie up their boats while they come in for a bite to eat or grab a couple drinks. There’s even a private area, just one flight of stairs away from the main dining room, perfect for hosting your own party or event. The Rusty Hook Tavern is run by a trio who met while working together under Gordon Ramsay (yes, THE Chef Ramsay) at the Boca Raton Resort restaurant Cielo.

The Rusty Hook Tavern, Pompano Beach

The restaurant has introduced it’s new daily fresh catch section to their menu, and has also jumped onto the Sunday Brunch bandwagon with a buffet of brunch favorites as well as bottomless mimosas, Bloody Marys and Rose wine. But back to dinner — with the introduction of this new menu, as well as other revisions made to the menu, a group of local bloggers and media were of course invited to check everything out! 

There’s a kitschy feel to the atmosphere when you walk into the tavern — think wooden panels and benches covered in fun colorful pillows, paper tablecloths, and my favorite, the newspaper-lined bright red basket that our first dish came out in. The Graham Cracker Calamari comes with pickled jalapeños and onions (YUM!) and a sweet and spicy calypso sauce. While I’m not a fan of fried calamari, these weren’t so bad. The texture of the fried graham cracker coating was a lot softer and not nearly as heavy or thick as the usual coating. You could actually taste the calamari beneath it — and the sauce. That was a winner! The pickled onions make all the difference too. Put pickled onions on anything and I’m happy!

The Rusty Hook Tavern, Pompano Beach

I was super excited for the next dish. I’ve been dying to try it since reading about it in this article and was really hoping it lived up to my expectations. The moment the Wicked Tuna Nachos hit the table, I just about dove right in. Crispy tortilla chips piled high with fresh tuna poke, smooth and creamy pureed avocado, a flavorful cabbage slaw, and a delightfully spicy aioli that really brought everything together. Of course using the chips as a vehicle for that incredible mix of ingredients was yummy, but I was perfectly fine using my fork to shovel bite after bite into my mouth. Suffice it to say, this was a star dish and one I would 100% go back for again.
The Rusty Hook Tavern, Pompano Beach
We were given quite a big selection of appetizers to taste. The Duck Leg Tostada — shredded duck served over a cornbread pancake with egg and a whiskey bacon maple syrup,  the Crispy Pork Belly topped with green papaya slaw, smoked pineapple, cilantro, and candied peanuts, the Chipotle Shrimp Flatbread with questo fresco, mango, and a cilantro crema, the Mussels Catalan with a broth of chorizo, garlic, chick pea, and tomato, and the House Smoked Jumbo wings which also came with a trio of house-made sauces — root beer BBQ, vinegar hot sauce, and my favorite, passionfruit peppercorn. I can just imagine how tasty a piece of salmon or mahi would be marinated in this sauce and cooked on the grill. Yum!
The Rusty Hook Tavern, Pompano Beach
The Rusty Hook Tavern, Pompano Beach
The Rusty Hook Tavern, Pompano Beach
While I did not try the meat dishes, everyone seemed to agree that they got a thumbs up. The flatbread, however, fell flat for me. Although I did get the kick of spice, I didn’t find all the flavors to be there and the flatbread itself was rather doughy and not crispy enough. I wasn’t too thrilled with the mussels either. Despite their being chorizo in the broth, I still gave it a try. The mussels were a decent size and had good flavor and texture, but the broth — which is usually my favorite part of any mussel or clam dish — didn’t do it for me. The flavors, again, just fell flat.
The Rusty Hook Tavern, Pompano Beach
The Rusty Hook Tavern, Pompano Beach
At this point, I just wanted another plate of those seriously addicting and delicious tuna nachos — but then the entrees came and my faith was restored. Two whole hog snappers came to the table, teeth and all, with two different preparations. These, along with an incredible swordfish dish, were some of the Fresh Catch specials. The swordfish was definitely my favorite of the three. It’s a meatier fish that can stand up to strong flavors, so it paired perfectly with the Thai-inspired tom yum sauce it was served in.
The Rusty Hook Tavern, Pompano Beach
Hog Fish #1 was fried and given a little Asian-flare with a flavorful marinade and a colorful mix of julienned stir-fried veggies alongside. Hog Fish #2 was roasted and accompanied by classic side dishes — mashed potatoes, wilted spinach, and a lemon caper sauce. Both were pretty tasty, but be careful of those bones when you’re dealing with a whole fish!
The Rusty Hook Tavern, Pompano Beach
Two other entrees served were from the Get Hooked Specialties menu — the Spicy Pork Rigatoni with spicy sausage, garlic, tomato, lemon, and broccoli rabe, and the Smoked Half Chicken with a perfectly sweet and spicy piece of jalapeño cornbread.
The Rusty Hook Tavern, Pompano Beach
The Rusty Hook Tavern, Pompano Beach
Aside from a generous tasting dinner, we also had the chance to try a couple cocktails from their creative drink menu. (Fun fact: their bar manager, Kareem, was a competitor in Bar Brawls). After trying the Marrakesh cocktail made with campari, elderflower, cranberry, rose water, and topped with Prosecco, I know exactly what I’m getting the next time I’m at The Rusty Hook Tavern — Wicked Tuna Nachos and this cocktail. You know if there’s elderflower and Prosecco involved, I’ll come running! We also tried the Thai Basil made with orange vodka, Thai basil, and grapefruit — another perfectly balanced cocktail with subtle, yet wonderful flavor.
The Rusty Hook Tavern, Pompano Beach
Cocktails and nachos — I’m comin’ for ya!

The Rusty Hook Tavern is located at 129 N. Riverside Drive in Pompano Beach. They are closed on Monday, but open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5-10pm, and Sunday from 5-9pm. Happy Hour is Tuesday through Sunday from 5-8pm at the bar only, and Brunch is every Sunday from 11am-2:00pm.

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Hello! I’m Shaina – a Delray Beach, Florida resident, foodie, and lifestyle blogger. I love exploring South Florida and beyond, and sharing everything from my favorite restaurants, products and more with you! See more by following along on Instagram:  @takeabiteoutofboca

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