Shiver me timbers. Ahoy, matey. Arrrggh! What else are you supposed to say when you’re dining at a place called The Pirate Republic Seafood & Grill? From the squawking parrots to the fluttering pirate flags, the theme is in full force at the Fort Lauderdale restaurant. It’s like Halloween all year long.
Some may remember this location as Shirttail Charlie’s, a longtime waterfront destination that closed in 2004. At the helm is Roberto Guerios, who was born in Brazil, grew up in Italy, spent seven years building a 98-foot wooden schooner and circumnavigated the globe three times with his wife, Claudia, The Pirate Republic’s executive chef. The couple launched the restaurant in by sailing a replica of a red pirate ship, complete with cannons and costumed passengers, along the New River. If you’re not arriving by boat or water taxi, you might need a treasure map to find the place, which is a few blocks west of Andrews Avenue on the south side of the river.
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We hadn’t gotten past the over-the-top pirate theme until friends raved about the seafood and fresh fish, the stunning view of the Intracoastal and the laid-back atmosphere. Grab a seat — high-tops or wooden benches — and linger over appetizers, burgers and sandwiches plus bold seafood feasts inspired by dishes the Guerioses encountered in Spain, Portugal, Brazil and the islands. Items can be pricey, but most are available in smaller portions that we thought were big enough to share.
- Bahamian-style conch fritters
- Crunchy coconut shrimp
- Especially good crab cakes – thin patties with more lump crab than filler, flavors of the Caribbean and just the right crunch
- Signature seafood bowls with clams, calamari, mussels, shrimp and fish
- The Portuguese seafood feijoada, with chunks of andouille sausage, navy beans, malagueta chile peppers, a fiery tomato-based broth, two small baguette slices and wonderful, garlic-scented juices
- Supple and perfectly cooked shrimp and calamari
- Delicious chunks of farm-raised catfish
- Fresh mahi, grouper and swordfish and cod shipped in on ice
- Blackened mahi sandwich
- Sautéed mahi in the style of Ilhabela, Brazil – a generous medley of shrimp and fish served on rice in a lovely sauce melding tomatoes, onions, coconut milk and Brazil’s creamy Catupiry cheese
- Flavorful sautéed spinach
- Chocolate mousseBananas Foster (more like a banana mousse on a chocolate cookie)
- Creamy shrimp and shallots served in a pumpkin with a side of “creepy” black rice
What Didn’t Work
- New York strip steak au poivre overloaded with green and pink peppercorns
- So-so mashed potatoes