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  • Best of 2013: Palm Beach

    Best Neighborhood Bar and Best Drag Show (Palm Beach County)

    Roosters
    823 Belvedere Road
    West Palm Beach, Florida 33405
    561-832-9119
    RoostersWPB.com

    Friendly. Intimate. Cozy.

    It’s a no brainer residents of Palm Beach County would choose Roosters as Best Neighborhood Bar. It’s been around since 1984, frequently hosts community events, and this year their Making Strides Against Breast Cancer raised the most money of any team.

    "Roosters recognizes and celebrates the diversity in our community. You should feel comfortable visiting us as you are. Everyone is always welcome at Roosters,” said David Hazen, a manager at the bar. While Artie Vale, another bar manager added "I think that the welcoming and friendly attitude of the staff at Roosters is what makes the difference.”

    This year the bar also took home the Best Drag Show award as well.

    "The talents of our entertainers are incomparable,” Vale said. “Entertainment Director Melissa St. John brings together the best performers in South Florida. Daizee Deluxx, Valerie Dior and our many other stars make our show nights spectacular.”

    Hours of operation are Monday to Thursday 3 p.m. – 3 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. to 4 a.m. and Sundays Noon – 3 a.m.

    Best Burger (Tie)

    SFGN readers had a hard time choosing a Best Burger in Palm Beach County — instead it ended up being a four-way tie. There’s Grease and Relish in West Palm Beach and Shula Burger and BurgerFi in Delray Beach. Each burger joint is distinctive in it’s own way. Make sure to try them all and vote in next year’s contest.

    Grease
    213 Clematis Street
    West Palm Beach
    561-651-1075
    GreaseWPB.com

    With a name like Grease you know what to expect — a messy, but oh so good and filling, piece of meat.

    “The southern burger was fantastic. Juicy and cooked perfectly with crispy bacon, jack cheese and sweet BBQ sauce. The Ron Burgundy burger was awesome too per my friend,” one person on Yelp said. While another person commented “This is one of the best burger places I have been. Unique burger creations and the burger itself is spectacular.”

    Relish
    401 Northwood Road
    West Palm Beach
    561-629-5377
    RelishBurger.com

    This burger joints claim to fame is their relishes — there are more than 20 varieties to choose from. Don’t like relish, no worries, not all of them are real ‘relishes’ so they’ve got something for everyone like Tangy Tzatzki, Velvety Horseradish, and Sour Pickle Chutney. But even sauces and relishes aren’t your thing the variety of burgers alone make this a must visit burger joint. Their burgers aren’t just made from beef, they’ve wild boar, duck, (real) buffalo, lamb, Italian sausage, white meat turkey, tilapia, veal, shrimp and homemade black bean.

    “Not only are the burgers out of this world fantastic but they offer vegetarian items as well as build your own salads in case you are health conscious,” said one person on Yelp. Another person commented “The food is always well prepared and would satisfy any gastro-connoisseur.”

    Shula
    Delray Marketplace
    14917 Lyons Rd
    Delray Beach, FL 33446
    561-404-1347
    ShulaBurger.com

    This restaurant’s claim to fame is its namesake — Don Shula. Don’t know who that is? Yea we figure more than a few readers won’t know. He was the coach of the Miami Dolphins, a team he led to two Super Bowl victories, and to the NFL’s only perfect season.

    “Excellent burger and shakes,” one person said on Yelp.? “I rate the quality of the burger as one of the best in the area and the bacon is especially good. I had the BBQ version and the sauce was very good. I am glad that the restaurant is a classy hamburger restaurant and they did not overdo the football memorabilia.”

    BurgerFi
    6 South Ocean Blvd
    Delray Beach, FL 33483
    561-278-9590
    BurgerFI.com

    Located across the street from Delray Beach the location couldn’t be better. After laying in the sun or swimming in the ocean beach goers will find that this burger joint will hit just the spot.

    “If you are ever craving a burger, fries, an a shake you need to come here!” one person said on Yelp. “The burgers are awesome and you can order pretty much whatever you want on them. The fries are super good and you can dress them up with Parmesan cheese, garlic-mayo sauce, or spicy, or just plain amazing!” Another person said “Their burgers are fresh AND healthy (grass-fed beef is known to LOWER your cholesterol).  The options of toppings are fantastic, hey anyone who offers aoili has an advantage right out of the starting gate.”

    Best City (Palm Beach County)

    Lake Worth
    www.LakeWorth.org

    While it may be many years before Lake Worth is known nationally as a hot spot for gays, it’s easily the most gay friendly city in the county. It currently hosts Compass, the gay and lesbian center of the Palm Beaches, Lambda North, a gay 12-step recovery clubhouse, Studio 205, the only gay themed retail store in the county, Zoo Health Club, a gay owned gym, and was the first city in Florida to fly the rainbow flag to commemorate PrideFest — back in 2000.

    “Recognition of Lake Worth as the Best City to Live In by SFGN is not a surprise. You don't have to be gay to enjoy our municipal beach, dock, golf course and parks,” said Tony Plakas, executive director of Compass.  “Our center has been in Lake Worth for nearly five years, and the local community has embraced us as much as we've embraced our new home.”   

    Best Drag Queen (Palm Beach)

    Velvet Lenore

    If you’re gay and live in Palm Beach County you’ve seen Velvet LeNore. If not, are you sure you live in Palm Beach? For the past 18 years she’s been on the stage performing, and for the last 8 years she’s been the “Queen of the Palm Beaches” for being one of the main entertainers at the annual PrideFest of the Palm Beaches.

    She regularly performs at Lips, Boardwalk, and The Manor in Browad County, Cold Keg in Melbourne, Rebar in Port St. Lucie, and Penny's at the Duke, Roosters, and Vita in Palm Beach County.

    She has a dance group K-otic and does a male to male revue at Boardwalk. She’s also a make up artists and hairstylist for weddings.

    “I’m very honored and surprised about this award and it means the world to me,” LeNore said. “I’ve based my life on helping other people be better at whatever they strive to do so this label means a lot to me and it’s something I don’t take lightly.”

    Best Gay Social Event (Palm Beach)

    Stonewall Ball
    Compassglcc.com/swb.html

    Compass’ annual Stonewall Ball shows just how much gays have gone mainstream. At this past year’s event several (straight) elected officials showed up to show their support of the LGBT community. The annual event in Palm Beach County has become, over the years, a must attend social gathering. And last year the event was especially for Compass as they celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary.

    “Stonewall Ball is the Best gay Social Event of the year, but I admit my bias. In it's 12th year, the Stonewall Ball isn't only a gala for the gays, it's a celebration of all the people who are with us on our journey to full equality,” said Tony Plakas, executive director of Compass. “It's gratifying to have a party each year in the Historic Harriet Himmel Theater — in the heart of CityPlace — but even more so when you are surrounded by elected and appointed representatives who want to show their support for our community.”  

    Best Gym (Palm Beach)

    Zoo Health Club
    Lake Worth, FL ?
    561-547-6348
    ZooGym.com/LakeWorth

    With 80 percent gay clientele it’s not hard to figure out why the Zoo Health Club in downtown Lake Worth won for Best Gym.

    The franchise location opened up 3 years ago by Dawn Malega and her partner.

    “We’re a friendly gym. We don’t judge anybody here. People feel comfortable about their sexuality here,” Malega said. “We’re involved in everything, from gay pride to supporting Compass and hosting mixers. We try to support the community and they support us.”

    The 2,700 square foot gym is 24 hours featuring state of the art equipment, two personal trainers and several group classes including circuit training.

    Best Non-Profit (Palm Beach) 

    Lambda North
    18 South J Street
    Lake Worth, FL
    LambdanNorth.net

    It’s easy to miss the small inconspicuous rainbow colored Greek Lambda symbol marking Lambda North’s location in downtown Lake Worth. And even for those that see the symbol, few will understand it’s meaning.

    But for those that do — it’s hope.

    The non-profit is an LGBT 12-step recovery meeting place, featuring programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. There are now 20 meetings that are held there each week.

    “We are very pleased we can serve the LGBTQ recovery community with a much needed safe place to call home,” said President of the club Michael Giorgi.Lambda North is extremely grateful for this honor of being named Best Non-Profit.”

    Being a fairly new small non-profit they’re had their struggles finding money. They don’t collect enough from rent from the meetings to maintain their space so they’ve had to regularly hold fundraisers. This upcoming year they hope to win some grants and find additional outside donors, to not only maintain the clubhouse, but grow it as well.

    But if their second anniversary party is any indication, things are going well. So well, in fact, they’ll be holding the event at Compass in order to accommodate everyone.

    Best Pizza (Palm Beach)

    Pizza Girls
    114 S Clematis St
    West Palm Beach, FL
    561-833-4004
    PizzaGirls.com

    Looking for authentic NY Style pizza? Well you’ll find it Pizza Girls in downtown West Palm Beach. The pizza joint offers 20 gourmet pizzas by the slice and other favorites like hot wings, salads, subs, and desserts.

    But it’s the pizza that they’re being recognized for this year. And there’s something about that dough that keeps em coming back.

    “People love our pizza dough,” said Phoebe Morales-Reckseit, who owns the restaurant with her wife. “We’ve been told we have the best pizza in whole world.” And they have the awards to prove it. “We’ve won a lot of best pizza awards from a lot of publications.”

    The NY Style pizza is always a favorite. And currently there are two new ones on the menu including a Thai chicken with diced chicken, carrots, broccoli, peanut sauce, and fresh cilantro; and a Caprese pizza with shredded mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar.

    The pizza shop opened up in 1996 and besides just the pizza the owners are active in the community ­— especially PrideFests where they’ve had booths or a trailer since 1998.

    “We’re just very open as a gay couple in the community,” she said. “We encourage our employees to be their selves. We have a really good work environment and that spills over to our customers.”

    Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week, Thursdays till 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturdays till 4 a.m.; and Sundays noon to 9 p.m.

    Best Restaurant/Diner (Palm Beach)

    Howley’s
    4700 S Dixie Hwy
    West Palm Beach, FL 33405
    561-833-5691
    Sub-Culture.org/Howleys

    This iconic restaurant/diner has been around since 1950 and is currently owned by Rodney Mayo, so it makes sense this little gem on the corner is such a standout.

    Mayo is a business savvy entrepreneur who owns, along with Scott Frielich, a collection of restaurants/bars in Palm Beach County that include Longboards, Lost Weekend, Feelgood's, Rock Bar, Dada, Tryst, Delux; Kapow! Noodle Bar, and Dubliner.

    Howley’s feature an eclectic mix of food, and much of what you expect at a traditional diner. One of the standouts, according to manager Nicole Nichols include a new item, the Brady Burrito, a flour tortilla stuffed with brisket, cheese, mashed potatoes, tomato corn salsa, smothered with a spicy sauce, jack cheese, an over medium egg, jalapeno, sour cream and guacamole — that’s a mouthful for sure.

    "All of our food is fresh and homemade,” Nichols said. She also recommends the crab cakes which she calls “amazing, definitely the best.”

    But besides the food it’s the atmosphere that helps take this eatery to the next level.

    “Our servers are a bit on the sassy side and fun and hopefully attentive and great,” she said.

    And if there’s still room for dessert try the chocolate peanut butter pie or cupcakes.

    Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday; and they close at 5 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

    Best Live Theater (Palm Beach County)

    Lake Worth Playhouse
    713 Lake Ave,
    Lake Worth
    561-586-6410
    LakeWorthPlayhouse.org

    In its 61st season, the Lake Worth Playhouse is more than just a landmark and elaborately arranged entertainment venue. It's an institution of sorts for entertainment enthusiasts' of all ages, and from all walks of life.

    Featuring a full season of varying theatrical productions, weekly featured films, classes, internships, and two separate free standing theaters, the Lake Worth Playhouse is a standout locale for all things entertainment.

    It’s also an overwhelming reader's favorite and the winner of SFGN'sBest Live Theater in Palm Beach County as selected by our readers.

    Located on Lake Ave in historic downtown Lake Worth, the original Lake Worth Playhouse dates back to 1924. Purchased by a group of Lake Worth citizens in 1952, and brought out of dormancy, the playhouse quickly blossomed in to the highly recognized theater it is today.

    Featuring two separate venues -- a main stage seating 300 and a Black Box Theater -- known as the Stonzek Theatre -- added in the 90's and seating 70, patrons have their choice between grandiose productions and intimate performance art creating what Director of Development Daniel Eilola calls a "something for everyone" allure.

    More than just for actors, fans of the theater, students and patrons alike, Eilola emphasizes that the goal of the theater is to bring a sense of family to the community. The playhouse also conducts outreach to local disadvantaged children in addition to collecting donations throughout its season.

    It also has plenty of gay staff and patrons alike. Hosting special events like the Divas Holiday Party – a drag show featuring singing and comedic skits, the playhouse stays true to its mission of bringing people together:

    Eilola adds: "We're a caring, loving organization where people come, volunteer, and usually don’t leave. It's a special place to be a part of."

    – MA

  • Column: PrideFest Returns to the Palm Beaches

    As the sun rose over the intracoastal waters of Bryant Park, tents were being set up, gates put in place and police officers were getting situated with their coffees. Early Saturday morning is when the Annual PrideFest of Lake Worth and the Palm Beaches begins to take form. Our day starts at 6 a.m., and the finishing touches on the stage, vendor booths, tables, fences and signs all happen before the birds start chirping and the fish start jumping.

  • Ex-TV Weatherman Sentenced to 4 years, 8 Months for Teen Sex Crimes

    From our media partner Sun Sentinel:

    The disgraced former South Florida TV weatherman cried and begged for mercy, telling his life story about a successful rise up to his dream job, down to a humiliating fall resulting in his conviction on two teen sex crimes.

  • Palm Beach County Judge 4th to Rule Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

    From our media partner Sun Sentinel: Another day, another in the long line of rulings shattering Florida's same-sex marriage ban. But the decision in Palm Beach County Tuesday represented a smaller crack in that ban than previous ones.

  • Regional Theater Companies Mount Classics, Regional Premieres

    South Florida’s regional theater scene is arguably among the most vibrant with dozens of companies offering year-round programming. The 2014-15 season is no exception, with many theaters opening with important works.

  • West Palm Beach Passes Employee Benefits Ordinance – First in Palm Beach County

    On Monday evening, August 18 the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) won another victory on the path to civil equality for LGBT residents.