Here are SFGN's "Best of 2019" winners in the Food category in Broward County.
Bar & Karaoke & Theme Night & Business Owner
2232 Wilton Dr.
Hunters conquered the nightlife scene again.
Hunter’s is a five-time champion in the “Best Bar” category. This year, the Fort Lauderdale nightclub took four awards: Best Bar, Best Karaoke, Best Theme Night and Best Business Owner.
“Hunters Wilton Manors was voted best bar because we have the best customers in the world,” said co-owner Mark Hunter. “If it weren’t for them we wouldn’t be Hunters Wilton Manors. Also, we have an amazing team at Hunters Wilton Manors and as the saying goes……it takes a village. I want to recognize my co-owner Patrick Volkert, our general manager Bruce Howe and our manager support team of Randy D’Agostino, Natasha Ribas and Kurtis Solomon. I also have to mention our stellar bar staff members. They are kind, efficient, friendly and are all great people. Electrum Branding is our new media company and they have been doing a great job in getting the word out. Thanks to all!”
Mark, an accomplished ballroom dancer, and Patrick, a systems engineer, were a couple for many years, owning nightclubs in Chicago and California. Now just business partners, the men bought Hunters in 2013, ordered a complete renovation and built its street cred by helping local non-profits and sponsoring recreational teams.
Mark travels back and forth from his Palm Springs club regularly. Hunter’s Palm Springs, located in the southern California desert, is highly regarded as well. SFGN readers also voted Mark as Best Business Owner in Broward County. The recognition comes as the nightclub installed new signage at its Fort Lauderdale location.
Mark has been in the bar business for 37 years. This year Hunter’s was the presenting sponsor of the Wicked Manors Halloween block party.
“There is no doubt that we should be supporting the community,” Mark told SFGN publisher Norm Kent on the Oct. 30 episode of The Norm Kent Show.
Mark said gay bars today are becoming more and more diverse and open to more lifestyles. What was once predominantly male occupied spaces has evolved in a gender fluid realm. Although there are many options for LGBT nightlife experiences in south Florida – particularly on Wilton Drive – Mark views the market as stable.
“I don’t look at the other businesses as competitors, I look at them as compliments,” Mark said. “The bigger the pie, the bigger the piece. The more thriving businesses that we have on Wilton Drive the healthier the business atmosphere will be.”
Hunter’s karaoke operation takes place on Monday and Tuesday nights. Sunday’s Tea Dance won for Best Theme Night. It’s a big night with DJ Richie Rich running sound. The dance floor section of the club has it all. Lights, fog, dancers, a big screen projector and music help to get your feet shuffling. Climb the stairs to get a glimpse of those sweaty dancers from Sal’s Starlight Lounge. The lounge is named after the late Studio 54 bartender Sal DeFalco, who helped Hunters open. A visit to the lounge during high tea is one way to fulfill Hunters’ promise of “Spirits Elevated.”
Bar for Lesbians
It’s hard to say what makes Sound Bar the best nightlife spot for lesbians. It’s new to the Drive so there is much to be determined about this space.
It might have something to do with the fact that it operates out of the same building which previously housed the iconic lesbian bar “New Moon.” The location also was home to “Progress” bar as well.
Sound Bar advertises itself as a live music venue with a diverse selection of drinks. Handcrafted cocktails, rich flavored wines and imported craft beer are all offered.
“Live Music Venue with a Twist” is Sound Bar’s catchphrase.
Bar for Bears & Bar For Leather
1508 NE 4th Ave,
Ramrod won in two categories Best Bar for Bears and Best Leather Bar. It has been continuously open for 25 years. Stephen Whiney and Zak Enterline co-own Ramrod. According to its owners, it is oldest gay bar in Fort Lauderdale with the “same owner, same location, and same bar.”
Enterline credits “The Ramrod’s” success to its casual ambience. It doesn’t have carpet on the floor; it’s not upscale. They don’t paint over the graffiti in the bathrooms. Whitney believes it being a comfortable neighborhood bar drives its success.
The décor mixes leather bar “dark” with gargoyles and a knight in armor. In the last 12 years, they have become a dance bar as well. Every month they hold a Pig Dance. Few people expected dancing to take off at Ramrod, but it did. They went from one disco ball to a full-fledged light show. Now they also have an Underground Music night.
Enterline considers keeping up with music and new trends to be its biggest challenge. That’s why they keep coming up with new ideas for the bar. Some of them work and some don’t, but enough do that the bar has lasted for 25 years.
Gay Friendly Straight Bar
3051 NE 32nd Ave,
Good food and great service help to make Flip Flops Dockside Eatery a local favorite.
The atmosphere is cool and the drag shows on the first Sundays of the month are hot! The vibe is Key West meets Fort Lauderdale.
Flip Flops is a fun option if you’re looking for an alternative to Wilton Drive. The views of the Intracoastal are incredible. It’s easy to get by car and convenient if you have a boat too.
The owners want people to feel welcome – including LGBT customers. Flip Flops attracts a diverse crowd. Who needs a bar where everybody knows your name when you have all day $3 drink specials and $7 menu specials on Sundays?
Happy Hour & Drink
2255 Wilton Dr,
Ever since it opened just more than two years ago, DrYnK Bar & Lounge has quickly emerged as a mainstay go-to spot for those heading out to Wilton Drive.
Its success is often attributed to the stellar customer service by its staff and the one-of-a-kind space that features a patio that will make you feel like you’re in the backyard of one of your closest friends.
Naturally the drinks are just as popular – and their unrivaled happy hour, too.
SFGN readers said the “Smokey Old Fashioned” is the best – a first win in the best drink category. This is mixology at its finest with a spin on the traditional “Old Fashioned” recipe.
The very abled bartenders at DrYnk weave in a smoky flair to your favorite single malt whiskey or scotch. Add a bit of syrup and bitters with a large ice cube and you’ll be ready to settle in to lively chatter while taking in all the eye candy you’ve come to expect.
The Smokey Old Fashion has overtaken the winner of the past two years – the Long Island Iced Tea at Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar.
And if you happen to be at DrYnk during their 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. happy hour, which was also voted best this year for the first time, you’ll get half off an intriguing selection of liquor.
DrYnk’s happy hour happens seven days a week and includes $1 off beer and $2 off wine as well.
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