Mystery Diner in Port Barrington: Broken Oar a great riverside hangout for food

The restaurant offers a different special for each weeknight with superb views of the Fox River

With a big outdoor patio that has a scenic view along the Fox River to complement great-tasting food, there’s nothing broken about the Broken Oar in Port Barrington.

The restaurant has mastered outdoor dining, and when we visited, it was busy outside. A stage is set up for nightly live music performances, which our server said tends to bring in a few hundred people each time. A unique facet of the Broken Oar is the boat parking dock on the property, which makes it a great place to dine for boaters traversing the Fox River.

We started out with the Nugget Bites as an appetizer ($9). If you’re coming to socialize and have a few drinks, they would be a great snack. These warm pretzel bites with just the right amount of salt came with two dips. The cheese sauce was warm, and served as a nice pairing. The spicy brown mustard was appetizing and one of the better dips I have had.

For the main course, the menu has plenty of options, including salads, burgers and sandwiches. During the week, they also have a daily special; one of the highlights is a 75-cent wing night on Thursdays.

For our dinner, we decided to go with burgers and sandwiches.

The Big Kahuna burger ($13) is an appealing choice if you’re looking for something different. It certainly lives up to its name. It is big and comes with a taste of Hawaii. My friend really enjoyed the sweet flavor that the pineapple and teriyaki glaze gave the burger. But it also came with something not often found on a burger: bacon jam. It served as another good way to make this burger a sweet and filling choice.

All of the sandwich options on the menu sounded good, and it was hard to pick which ones to try.

I decided to go with The Cuban ($14). This sandwich also came packed with flavor. The two types of meat, the braised pork belly and ham, plus the Swiss cheese gave it a great taste. It was then topped with pickle chips and a light mustard. A highlight was the toasted hoagie roll.

The third entree we ordered was the Texas Chicken sandwich, which our server said was her favorite.

The Texas Chicken ($13) was prepared with a thick chicken breast, making this a satisfying sandwich to order if you’re hungry. It was topped with bacon and pepper Jack cheese. To give it a Texas barbecue feel, the chicken breast was coated with barbecue sauce. The bread also was toasted, which is something the Broken Oar seems to do on many of the sandwiches, and is something I like a lot.

The restaurant has great sides for the burgers and sandwiches, which come with your choice of fries, tater tots, a pea salad and coleslaw. For an additional 50 cents, you can choose sweet potato fries, fruit, soup or a salad.

One unique thing about the Broken Oar’s food selection is the menu itself. We sat outside like so many people do; however, they offer a second menu for those eating inside, which gives us a great reason to come back and enjoy the elevated indoor view of the river while trying some new items we haven’t had before.

• The Mystery Diner is an employee at the Northwest Herald. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.


WHAT: Broken Oar

WHERE: 614 Rawson Bridge Road, Port Barrington

PHONE: 847-639-9468