Orange Beach, AL--Back to The Wharf, that's right y'all, we love this self contained complex! I am always saying I could live here; work, shop, and party all in one location! This month kicked off football season, so we'd like to share with you a great location to enjoy all your favorite games while noshing on some top-notch bar food! Once upon a time there was a small town barbeque joint right off the Gulf Shores public beach called Smokey Mac's. Growing in notoriety for their great smoked treats and "fall off the bone" ribs, Smokey's moved two blocks north on 59 and expanded into a overthe-top sports bar becoming Rafters Sports Bar and Grill. Unfortunately, Hurricane Ivan took out this location, hence, the new location at The Wharf, Orange Beach. Still serving the awesome smoke house delicacies, along with fresh seafood, salads, premium burgers, and wraps, the new location offers the same high quality eats along with several large screens so that you can actually SEE all the games at one time. I was naturally watching my Saints while Cheli was watching her Cow- boys, and, the screens enabled us to both view every play, as well as the other games being aired at the same time. This was much more exciting than numerous small screens where you can actually only see one screen at a time. I really liked this concept! James, the shift manager was quite a hoot, and got us seated and greeted in no time. Our waiter Billy, a precious young stud, was very helpful in recommendations, and, patiently took care of the two of us as we tried to order a large variety of selections to cover as much information as two people can possibly cover without exploding! Even just sampling, this task can become quite overwhelming, hey, don't be a hater! We began with fresh gulf oysters, 3 Rockefeller, and 3 Cajun, both sooo good, but, I'm going to suggest trying the Cajun, unlike any we've had elsewhere. Next we had 6 naked wings and 6 breaded wings with hot sauce, teriyaki, and bbq sauces on the side, served with homemade ranch or bleu cheese dressings and fresh celery and carrots. These wings were some of the best we had sampled before. We both pre- ferred the breaded with sauces on the side, but, if you prefer your wings soaking, I'd suggest having them naked! Cheli and I are both seeing a dozen wings a piece to-go on our next stop in town, yeah, none of these made it home this time! Still sampling appetizers, we then had the Homemade Spud Skins, 3 topped with cheddar cheese, bacon and scallions, and 3 topped the same with BBQ pork added. Both ways were fabulous,and, as good as the pork was, on hind sight, I wish we had ordered the ½ Smoked Chicken. Ben came out from behind the bar to share his recommendations and a laugh or two before we moved forward. Cheli agreed that we could do the Chili Cheese Burger since we tend to always lean toward the Black and Bleu burgers, and, was surprised at how much she enjoyed this messygooey explosion of flavors! All of Rafter's burgers are a ½ pound premium patty topped any way you want or doubled for a full pound burger, really?! They also serve humongous all beef hot dogs topped any way you like. We really enjoyed Ben's suggestion- the Prime Rib French Dip, we added bacon and sautéed mushrooms to this juicy prime rib sandwich topped with swiss cheese and served with homemade au jus, which we added horseradish to. The crispy baguette and au jus were perfectly matched to this fabulous sandwich which I enjoyed again later that night. Then we had the Rock'n Quesadilla-spinach alfredo with green onions and parmesan, and, we added blackened shrimp. Sound yummy yet, this isn't your everyday sports bar food folks! From the Main Event, we enjoyed the Rock'n Talapia-blackened or fried tilapia topped with spinach alfredo and parmesan cheese. Served with garlic Texas toast and a side, we had steamed veggie mix with this, this entrée was wonderful! Other sides we enjoyed were crispy fries, (not too potatoey for Chel), golden fried onion rings, and fried green tomatoes. The oldschool fried green tomatoes were done in the traditional way, fried in cornmeal. Cheli had never had them this way and was delighted with this treat! They also serve fried crab claws, shrimp, oysters, catfish, and chicken. From the smoker they offer pulled pork, ribs, smoked chicken, and a smoked ribeye. All salads can be topped with any of these listings of mouth-watering temptations, and shrimp can be added to any entrée, grilled, fried or blackened. And if there is anything else you need, just ask. Ranee Steele has done a great job in carrying-on grandpa Mac's tradition in providing great food in a fun and friendly atmosphere! If you happen to have Kelli as your bartender, tell her hello, she is ACO's talented bar feature writer. Let's rumble y'all, football is here with Rafter's kicking off the superstar tailgate feasts! Until Next Month!!

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