Many locals know of restaurant owner Ernesto Rado’s chic Mason Jar Cafe in Fort Lauderdale for its interpretation (and presentation!) of delicious American comfort food. The place consistently garners positive reviews by locals and is continues to be a must see for tourists and travelers. The establishment has always combined a modern elegance with American comfort cuisine in a way that surprises you every time with different spins on classics like their Fried Green Tomatoes with crab. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out he was adding to Oakland Park’s culinary scene with his offshoot, The Mason Jar Pub, right here at 1388 E. Oakland Park Boulevard.
With a mask and social distancing measures in place, I was eager to swing by for a quick chat with Julie Rado, the manager of The Mason Jar Pub, and also the daughter of Ernesto Rado. She greeted me with a comfortable warmth, much like the Mason Jar’s food, and even through her mask I was able to feel her smile. I immediately felt at home. We sat at a table on the cafe side, but the impressive pub on the other was beckoning for a day when I wasn’t working. The wood paneling and slight farmhouse feel makes it a comfortable place to enjoy delicious pub food, while the televisions with sports, a bar with a wide variety of beers and wine make it a place where you can sit and chill for a game or two. It’s just another great pub to the local scene!
I asked Julie what inspired The Mason Jar Pub concept. She said, “My dad (Ernesto Rado) used to part-own Wilton Wings, so he always liked the wing thing; that more casual fast food atmosphere. Mason Jar Cafe has a different feel than that. So he always had in the back of his mind that he wanted the wings, fast-food burgers with drive-thru window and so that was it”. It’s true, I thought. This place has the look and feel of the cafe location but with a slightly more casual vibe. It doesn’t feel like a place that would have a drive-thru but it conveniently does for those who prefer to pick up there food.
The menu has a good selection of food to choose from. I saw ten (10) different ways to have chicken wings, salads like a Jalapeño Tuna plate and Buffalo Fried Shrimp, a classic burger and several sandwiches— and even dinners like a country fried chicken with gravy or pork chops with sun-dried cherry sauce! “Some our menu items are from the cafe, but our menu is temporary”, Julie explained. “We are having a new menu in September which has everything here but with a few add-ons. If everything at Mason Jar Cafe is considered American comfort food, Mason Jar Pub will be considered American bar food”.
I asked Julie for some insight into the what the future holds for the menu. She said they’re working on a new salmon wrap, a penne pasta with shrimp—a special at Mason Jar Cafe that turned fan favorite, a few extra wing sauces and a few options added in for vegetarians and vegans like a very veggie wrap and a portobello mushroom-vegetable sandwich. She laughed when I told her she had me at portobello.
Aside from the new veggie options, I found myself getting super excited for the corn spoon bread, onion rings, french fries (and sweet potato fries) and the Brussels sprouts with pistachios—but hey, I’ve always been an appetizer and sides kind of guy. They especially pride themselves on the different varieties of wings so you definitely want to make sure you try those, but the country fried chicken seems to be a pretty popular choice, whether you have it as the dinner or sandwich. Everyone loves it! Julie likes the Cobb Salads so you’ll want to check that out too.
When I asked Julie why they chose Oakland Park for the pub she said, “We are already nearby this area so we did want to be able to come back and forth easily, but we’ve lived everywhere in Broward and this area is just so nice. Oakland Park is a nice city that’s coming up. We thought it would be perfect. Also, my father always used to drive by this location and loved this self-standing building that’s right on Oakland Park Boulevard where everyone could see it. He’s been wanting this place for a while”. I explained how cool it was for us as a city, since one of our goals is to become a place where different culinary and brewing ideas can thrive. She agreed.
Though it has the same Mason Jar name as the cafe, the pub is very different and it comes to the city with a cool, but laid back Oakland Park vibe. There are more draft and beer selections than the cafe, and once their new patio is finished they intend to host their own happy hours or maybe even a brunch. Again, I loved the vibe of The Mason Jar Pub and I can’t wait to come back for the beer and food. If you want to see more pictures of the pub and the food you can follow them on Facebook at @MJPub3 or on Instagram at @TheMasonJarFL.
Steven Mayer is a local Floridian who grew up in the South Corals area of Oakland Park most of his life. He attended Rickards Middle, Northeast High and earned his B.A. in English from FAU. He’s done some writing and editorial work for a south Florida lifestyle magazine and is proud to have been a partner with Starbucks for a total of 18 years.
After testing out a couple U.S. cities in his twenties, Steven realized that nothing beats home, and eventually settled back down in the Downtown Oakland Park area with his partner Douglas (another Oakland Park native), their three Pekinese dogs and two beautiful cats.
Steven enjoys anything Disney, vegan cooking, going for runs, attending local festivals, traveling, and game nights with friends and family.