Revisiting Rok:Brgr: (Now Closed)

What made rok:brgr a dominant force in South Florida’s burger scene, and why are patrons suddenly searching for its legacy? In a culinary landscape saturated with choices, rok:brgr stood out as a revolutionary gourmet burger and craft beer destination. This article takes you on a journey through the success and challenges of the iconic rok:brgr, providing insights into how it left its mark and what the future holds for this once-dominant gastropub.

This article honors a great venue that is now closed.  View our page on Fort Lauderdale’s Riverwalk to see what establishments remain in the area.

ROK Brgr is Now Closed

  • ROK:BRGR revolutionized South Florida’s dining scene with its unique blend of gourmet burgers and craft drinks in a historic setting, which included a menu with crowd favorites like the Black N Bleu burger and high-quality ingredients like American Kobe beef.
  • Despite its popularity and influence, including winning titles and awards, ROK:BRGR faced challenges such as economic pressures and service issues, leading to the closure of several locations and leaving its future uncertain.
  • The legacy of ROK:BRGR lives on through the cherished memories of its patrons, who remember the restaurant not just for its food but as a venue for social gatherings, celebrations, and community engagement.

The Sizzle of ROK:BRGR: A Local’s Take

Exterior of ROK:BRGR restaurant at night with a signboard

In the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s historic Himmarshee district, ROK:BRGR took root in a 1920s building, marrying the past with modern dining. The restaurant’s founder, Marc Falsetto, led the gastropub trend, offering a new kind of dining experience that South Florida had not seen before. The mingling of heritage architecture with the contemporary concept of gourmet burgers and craft beers created a unique ambiance that was hard to resist.

The anticipation for Sunday brunch at ROK:BRGR was palpable. Due to its popularity, the restaurant imposed a 90-minute limit for brunch, allowing everyone to savor their highly regarded chicken and waffles dish. But it wasn’t just the food that was a draw. The restaurant also offered a variety of craft beers, cocktails, and wines, catering to a broad spectrum of tastes.

The Birthplace of Gourmet Burgers

ROK:BRGR was not just a restaurant; it was a revolution. With its inception, Fort Lauderdale became the epicenter of a gourmet burger wave that swept South Florida. The joint’s unique fusion of American cuisine, handcrafted cocktails, and premium burgers marked it as a hub for enthusiasts. From serving American Kobe beef to introducing exotic ingredients like pork belly, ROK:BRGR was a game-changer.

Expansion followed the flagship location’s success, strengthening its standing among burger connoisseurs. Even a temporary closure for renovations couldn’t deter the loyal patrons from returning, proving the significance of the original location in the brand’s history. Their Monday special of $10 burgers and $5 draft beers was a hit with customers, demonstrating ROK:BRGR’s ability to offer value without compromising on gourmet food.

However, not every culinary experiment was a hit, as seen with the El Diablo burger’s mixed reviews – it seems some like their spice just right.

A Menu That Made History

A quick glance at ROK:BRGR’s menu signified an impending extraordinary culinary journey. At the forefront was the ROK:BRGR, a burger that won the title of ‘2011 Burger Battle Fan Favorite Champion’. But that was just the beginning. Iconic offerings such as the Black N Bleu burger, a delightful blend of blue cheese and smoky bacon, and The Truffle Shuffle, kept patrons coming back for more.

The menu was a testament to the restaurant’s commitment to quality, boasting big, pricey burgers with elaborate toppings. The ‘Farmhouse’ burger and ‘Sweet Caroline,’ a South Beach Wine and Food Festival champion, were prime examples of ROK:BRGR’s gourmet approach. The restaurant aimed to educate consumers on high-quality, sustainable ingredients, a departure from typical bar fare that resonated well with local patrons. The South Florida burger, a tantalizing blend of sweet and tangy flavors, was particularly praised by customers. However, the restaurant wasn’t without its missteps, as was seen with the lukewarm response to the truffle fries.

The Vibe: More Than Just a Meal

Entering ROK:BRGR meant immersing yourself in an experience that transcended a typical restaurant visit. Live music echoed, a DJ on deck, and the screens lit up with sports games, creating a cool but friendly vibe. The ambiance was perfect for both casual gatherings and festive celebrations. You could enjoy a laid-back meal with friends or celebrate a special occasion in style.

The restaurant’s unique vibe extended beyond its Fort Lauderdale flagship. The Gulfstream Village location, bustling beneath strings of lights, offered a charming atmosphere, especially during happy hour. As the first gastropub in Broward County, ROK:BRGR set a precedent for themed establishments, contributing to a shift in the local dining culture. However, the experience wasn’t always flawless, as some customers noted a lack of attention from the staff, which sometimes impacted the overall vibe.

Despite this, ROK:BRGR managed to maintain its charm as an upscale burger joint with an American gastropub ambiance, appealing to both adults and children alike.

Indulgent Ingredients: The ROK:BRGR Flair

Assortment of gourmet bacon varieties on a wooden board

ROK:BRGR transcended the confines of a regular burger joint, offering an exceptional culinary experience. The restaurant redefined the burger experience by incorporating gourmet ingredients into their dishes, setting a high standard for burger opulence in South Florida. Notably, items like smoked pepper bacon and caramelized onions were specifically chosen for their ability to elevate the flavor profile of ROK:BRGR’s burgers.

From the bread to the toppings, every element was a testament to the restaurant’s dedication to quality. Whether it was the succulent American Kobe beef or the luxurious toppings like foie gras and Gruyère cheese, every bite was an experience in itself. It was this commitment to quality that made ROK:BRGR stand out in the crowded South Florida restaurant scene.

The Bacon Bonanza

Platter of bacon-infused dishes with artistic presentation

Bacon was the cornerstone ingredient that truly encapsulated the essence of ROK:BRGR. The restaurant showcased its creativity with a variety of bacon-infused items, including smoked bacon, that quickly became customer favorites. Signature dishes such as bacon jam, maple bourbon bacon, and candied bacon were standouts, attracting patrons with their unique flavors. Additionally, the bacon infused bourbon became a popular choice for those looking to elevate their dining experience.

One of the most innovative uses of bacon was the Bacon Jam burger. With a savory, sweet bacon condiment as a topping, this burger exemplified ROK:BRGR’s innovative approach to classic American cuisine.

Cheese and Toppings Galore

ROK:BRGR was known for its generous approach when it came to toppings. The restaurant catered to a wide range of preferences with customizable burger options, including cheeses like the pungent bleu cheese and classic American cheese. The South Floridian burger, featuring creamy brie cheese and Duroc pork belly, reimagined the traditional bacon cheeseburger.

Even the Cuban culinary traditions found a place on ROK:BRGR’s menu in the form of the Cuban burger. But the customization didn’t stop there. ROK:BRGR’s burgers could be personalized with a variety of premium toppings such as avocado, gourmet sauces, and even a fried egg, making each dining experience truly unique.

Fries and Sides Reinvented

No meal at ROK:BRGR was considered complete without accompanying hand-cut fries. The restaurant elevated the humble side dish with inventive options like sweet potato and parmesan truffle fries. These hand-cut fries were praised for their rustic charm and heartiness, complementing the gourmet burgers perfectly.

The Fries & Rings menu section at ROK:BRGR featured:

  • Sweet potato fries
  • Parmesan truffle fries
  • Truffle fries
  • Fried onions
  • Poutine

These innovative creations brought a rich and textured flavor profile that delighted guests and stood out on the menu, showcasing ROK:BRGR’s culinary creativity.

Beyond Burgers: ROK:BRGR’s Diverse Offerings

Colorful array of gourmet burgers on a serving platter

While the spotlight was on the burgers at ROK:BRGR, the menu boasted a broader selection. The restaurant offered diverse options like:

  • Certified Angus Beef burgers
  • Organic turkey burgers
  • Chicken burgers
  • Ahi tuna burgers
  • Veggie burgers

Vegetarian customers could enjoy options such as the Veggie Burger made from roasted veggies and beets, adding inclusivity to the menu.

But the restaurant didn’t stop at burgers and fries. It also offered comfort food options including Mom’s Meatloaf, Short Rib Grilled Cheese, Chicken & Waffles, and three mini waffles, ensuring there was something for everyone. For those preferring a healthier meal, salads like the ROK-Cobb and Beet & Goat Cheese were available too.

From the Sea to the BRGR Bar

ROK:BRGR’s menu was not just limited to land. It also ventured into the sea with unique seafood options like Lobster Corn Dogs and Tuna Tacos. These distinctive menu items catered to a broad audience, offering options beyond the typical burger fare.

The inclusion of items like Lobster Corn Dogs and Tuna Tacos played a significant role in distinguishing ROK:BRGR from conventional burger joints. It was this variety that made the restaurant a favorite among customers seeking a diverse dining experience.

Brunch Favorites and Sweet Treats

ROK:BRGR wasn’t just a dinner destination, it was also a brunch hotspot. The restaurant offered deals on bottomless mimosas with the purchase of an entrée, adding an enticing drink option to the brunch experience. The brunch menu featured items such as chicken and waffles, consisting of crispy chicken tenders, fresh mini waffles, bacon, and maple syrup.

The brunch offerings were a hit, resulting in a “very fun spot” according to customer reviews. And for those with a sweet tooth, the restaurant’s dessert offerings included:

  • a variety of sweet treats
  • delicious pastries
  • decadent cakes
  • mouthwatering pies

These desserts perfectly complemented their savory dishes.

Social Hour and Happy Memories

ROK:BRGR extended beyond just food to provide a holistic dining experience. The restaurant, known for its rok brgr, was a popular spot for socializing, offering a variety of drinks and weekly specials during social hour. The atmosphere at ROK:BRGR was perfect for both casual and special events, making it an ideal spot for friends to gather and socialize.

Customer reviews often praised the selection of drinks at ROK:BRGR, enhancing the social aspect of dining there. Whether you were catching up with friends, celebrating a milestone, or simply enjoying a meal, ROK:BRGR was the place to be.

Cheers to the Drinks

Mirroring its innovative approach to burgers, ROK:BRGR also revolutionized the drink experience at the brgr burger bar. The restaurant featured a craft cocktail menu that included a spicy wasabi cocktail and a savory wasabi mayo mix. But it didn’t stop at cocktails.

Alongside its cocktails, ROK:BRGR offered an assortment of craft beers and a selection of wines, meaning there was something to suit every palate. Whether you were a wine connoisseur, a beer enthusiast, or a cocktail aficionado, ROK:BRGR had you covered.

The Weekly Rituals

ROK:BRGR’s weekly specials were more than just a marketing strategy. They were a way to bring the community together, fostering a sense of camaraderie and creating a shared experience. Regulars recalled how the happy hour at ROK:BRGR was not just about the food but also about unwinding and connecting with friends in a comfortable setting.

The Hallandale Beach location, in particular, became a favorite spot for patrons to grab a bite and enjoy a good selection of drinks with friends after shopping. This cemented ROK:BRGR’s reputation as a community hub, where the focus was not just on the food but also on the overall experience.

The Impact on South Florida’s Culinary Scene

Influential impact of ROK:BRGR on South Florida's culinary scene

The influence of ROK:BRGR reached far beyond the boundaries of its physical establishments. As the first gourmet burger joint and gastropub in South Florida, it introduced a novel dining concept to the region. By opening its fourth location on Delray Beach’s Atlantic Avenue, ROK:BRGR continued to spread its gourmet burger concept throughout South Florida.

The arrival of ROK:BRGR complemented the energetic and diverse dining options on Atlantic Avenue. This set a precedent for upscale, casual dining spots in the area, showcasing the restaurant’s significant impact on South Florida’s culinary scene.

Inspiring a Burger Movement

ROK:BRGR’s impact on the burger industry was undeniable. The restaurant garnered national attention when it was listed under ‘Best Burgers in America’ by Paula Dean magazine and won the title of ‘Best in Florida’ by Business Insider. These accolades showcased ROK:BRGR’s influence, inspiring a movement towards quality ingredients in casual dining.

The expansion of ROK:BRGR to Delray Beach, a city known for its rich and diverse dining options, showcased the brand’s impact. This influence was testament to the fact that ROK:BRGR was more than just a restaurant; it was a culinary movement.

An End of an Era?

Even with its success and influence, ROK:BRGR wasn’t immune to challenges. The restaurant saw:

  • The closure of its Fort Lauderdale flagship location for renovations
  • The permanent shutdown of other establishments
  • Locations at Gulfstream Village in Hallandale Beach and on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach were among the ROK:BRGR closures in the past year.

The Hallandale Beach location cited challenging real estate costs when it closed after nearly five years, highlighting the economic pressures on the brand. Service issues, such as long wait times, indicated possible inconsistencies in the dining experience. These challenges marked a difficult chapter in ROK:BRGR’s story, leading many to ask: was this the end of an era?

Nostalgia and Lasting Impressions

Even though it eventually closed down, ROK:BRGR imprinted lasting memories on its patrons. The restaurant was often chosen for significant life events, such as anniversaries, birthdays, and promotions, creating an emotional connection with the community. Many patrons have fond memories of regular dining experiences at ROK:BRGR, where the unique menu became a staple for date nights, family outings, and get-togethers with friends.

ROK:BRGR’s influence extends beyond the physical location, with a lasting digital legacy through shared photos and throwback posts by customers on social media. These memories serve as a testament to the restaurant’s impact, reminding us of the good times shared over great food.

Summary

From its gourmet burgers and inventive sides to its vibrant atmosphere and community engagement, ROK:BRGR was more than just a restaurant. It was a cultural icon that transformed South Florida’s culinary scene, inspired a burger movement, and left a lasting impression on its patrons. Despite its closure, the legacy of ROK:BRGR lives on, reminding us that food is more than sustenance – it’s an experience, a memory, and a bond shared with others.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the owner of BRGR?

The owner of BRGR is the founder and CEO of Bread & Butter Concepts, Alan Gaylin. He opened the restaurant a decade ago at Corinth Square in Prairie Village, Kansas.

Who is the owner of Rock Burger?

The owner of Rock Burger is Jason Lizardo. Chef Camille Le Caer and Jason Lizardo will make appearances on TV reality shows this spring.

What made ROK:BRGR’s burgers special?

ROK:BRGR’s burgers were special because they were made from high-quality ingredients like American Kobe beef and gourmet toppings such as foie gras and Gruyère cheese, along with a range of unique customization options for customers. Enjoy!

What were some of the unique items on ROK:BRGR’s menu?

ROK:BRGR’s menu featured unique items like Lobster Corn Dogs and Tuna Tacos, along with popular brunch dishes such as chicken and waffles. Check it out if you’re up for some tasty and innovative options!

What was the experience like at ROK:BRGR?

The experience at ROK:BRGR was unique, with a friendly and lively atmosphere, live music, and a variety of drinks and weekly specials during social hour. Sounds like a great time!

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About 

Peter is a digital nomad who largely writes from Asia, Europe, and South America. Always following the "vibe," he sets up shop in hostels and AirBNB's and continues to entertain us with wild stories from life abroad.

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