Riverside Market Café is making quite the name for itself in the Riverside Park/Sailboat Point section, just outside of Downtown Ft. Lauderdale. They’re heavy in craft beers, wines and some craft sodas and serve café food items from salads to sandwiches. We stopped in today to see what they had to offer and to start off our ‘mini pub crawl’. Jeff lived in the area years ago, so he knew exactly where they were located. The outside of the building had a really cool custom mural with all kinds of eye popping colors and phrases paying respect to craft beer culture. The parking can be a bit tight, but manageable and luckily today we found a spot easily. There are some tables outside in the front area, but we found it a bit too hot out and ventured inside.
The inside is funky, cool and well…casual. There are some tables scattered to the left and some ‘worn’ couches and comfy chairs to your right. Boxes and bottles are stacked all around and there are old memorabilia items all over the walls, ceiling and just about every nook and cranny.
They work on the ‘honor’ system for bottled beer. You go into the cooler and pick what you want, take it, drink it and collect the empty bottles. When you are ready to cash out, the server will tally it all up for you. The draught beers are located behind the front counter and it looks like they have a rotation of craft beers. Note…you do not pour your own draughts.
We went for a few draughts and ordered them at the front counter. The guy was quick to pour and we paid on the spot. He was quick, efficient and friendly…which is what you want in a craft beer joint.
We picked a table near the bottled beers and a server greeted us quickly. She informed us of a few lunch specials they had today and explained the bottle beer system (as mentioned earlier in the review). She also said it’s great because there is no wait…as soon as you walk in, you can go right to the beer case, pick you beer and you are dinking. They had so many beers, you could never ever try them all. We relaxed and decided just to enjoy our beer and hit them for lunch at another time. For the second round, Jeff got a chili pepper beer. True to its name, it was peppery hot. Hmm? How do you quench your thirst after chili hot beer? Of course, by drinking the rest of Mark’s beer.
Just as we were getting close to finishing our beer…Jeff noticed some empty beer cans on the wall from the 70’s and 80’s. He used to collect them and gave them all away about 5 years ago when he moved out of his apartment that was just down the corner. He made a ‘bee’ line to the display and came back all grinning…”I think those are my beer cans!” he said to me. We asked one of the guys stocking beer if he knew where the owners got them…he didn’t know, but said he would ask. Two minutes later Lisa, one of the owners, came by to talk to us. She was really nice and excited about their business. We got a little history behind the Riverside Market Café from Lisa while we talked about the beer cans. She explained that most of the items around the store (old memorabilia) is given to them by friends and some customers. They are always adding to the collection and everyone loves to become part of the process. Lisa said that they had started the business in the convenience store across the street and about five years ago, sold that business and started Riverside Market Café. Not only that…but she said that they received the beer cans when they opened about 5 years ago….just about the time Jeff gave his away on Craigslist! Too much of a coincidence, this had to be his old collection. How cool that Jeff’s donation had become part of this cool, funky craft beer joint right? Lisa was very nice and friendly and it shows that that trickles down to the staff and our experience today.
Riverside Market Café is doing everything right. Local, unique and cool vibe will ensure lots of repeat customers. Even if Jeff’s beer can collection wasn’t here, we will be returning for the service, craft beer and to try lunch. They definitely earn their title as “Fort Lauderdale’s Official Craft Beer Hangout”
Riverside Market Café is located at 608 S.W. 12 Ave Fort Lauderdale, FL.