Best Dog Groomer & Walker
Wilton’s Manor Doggie Daycare
2155 N. Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors
Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Josh Meneses says a big part of what makes Wilton’s Manor Doggie Daycare the best dog groomer and walker is convenience.
With dogs already at Wilton’s Manor, Meneses says it’s easier for customers to just leave their furry friends for grooming as well. “The walking happens here. So, it pretty much makes it easier and more affordable to add grooming. It cuts out a lot of the back and forth.”
Wilton’s Manor features 900 square feet of indoor doggie playground, 1,200 square feet of outdoor recess area, including a doggie pool, grass, running space, fans, misters, shade and more for daily or over night boarding.
And, of course, there’s the experienced groomer.
“Our groomer, Jodie Arrington, has been a groomer for over 15 years. She brings a lot of experience, which helps. She’s our 100 percent go to groomer,” said Meneses, who owns Wilton’s Manor with Alan Aghazadian. “She has a degree in animal science. She really knows animals, not just the grooming aspect.”
— Mike d'Oliveira
SFGN’s 2014 new category for best gay-friendly straight bar saw a three-way tie among the colorful, Key West inspired Flip Flops Dockside Eatery, the not-unpleasantly-trendy Tap 42 in downtown Fort Lauderdale, and the playful Funky Buddha brewery.
3051 NE 32nd Ave.
Fort Lauderdale, FL. 33308
Flip Flops is exactly the kind of place you imagine when you think of a Key West bar. It’s somewhere you can get day-drunk and dance without a partner. Dockside dining means guests have access from the road, or from the Intracoastal Waterway. The local water taxi makes Flip Flops a regular stop.
Server Jose Sama says what sets Flip Flops apart is their monthly Sunday night tea dance hosted by Drag Queen Amanda Austin. “Amanda performs and she brings friends. She plays games with the audience, we give away prizes, and DJ Silvio plays music between all the sets.” Sunday’s drink specials feature some brunch time classics, $3 bloody marys and mimosas.
Sama says Friday night karaoke and Sundays see the most business at Flip Flops, when their $3 happy hour specials run all day long.
Flip Flops features daily menu and drinks special Tuesdays through Sundays and is closed Mondays. Their $3 happy hour includes beer, wine and well drinks and runs from 2 p.m. – 7 p.m. daily. Flip Flops monthly tea dance, happens every first Sunday from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
-- Jillian Melero
1411 S Andrews Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL. 33316
While Tap 42 has yet to host regular gay-friendly events, there’s never a bad time to enjoy this trendy gastro pub complete with crafted cocktails, and what Tap 42 refers to as their Gastro Grub.
Tap 42 is part indie hipster loft and part new school gastro pub. With layers of warm woods, textured leathers, and industrial metal details accented with gas lanterns and exposed lighting coils, the vibe is both hip and cozy. Patrons can settle indoor bar side, or around the super-spacious outdoor patio and dining area.
Even on a Thursday night, the buzz in Tap 42 is undeniable. The noise-level makes the indoor bar better for a group of rowdy friends, but the wrap around patio has plenty of seating areas to carry more intimate conversation.
Tap 42’s menu showcases craft beers as ingredients as well as for drinking. The Drunken Goat features an Arbita Purple Haze infused raspberry jam, the Left Hand BBQ Short Rib burger features Left Hand Milk Stout pulled pork, and the Angry Orchard pulled pork sliders feature, of course, Angry Orchard hard cider.
-- Jillian Melero
Funky Buddha Brewery
1201 NE 38th St, Oakland Park, FL 33334
The Funky Buddha brewery turns a visit to the neighborhood bar into a trip through Willy Wonka’s brew house. The scene is part taproom and part playhouse with a bar that highlights their view of the train tracks as a feature and not a flaw.
Funky Buddha’s Oakland Park brewery hosts the local Bears for Beers group every Tuesday night according to server Katrina Valentine and the monthly Proud to be Funky meet up every first Tuesday.
The events are made even more memorable by the assortment of beers available; a playful nostalgia bomb of seasonal favorites like the Pumpkin Porter Latte, full of coffee and pumpkin spice aromas and the No Crust PB & J with a full nose of your childhood favorite jar of Goober striped peanut butter and jelly.
Besides the liquid whimsy, The Funky Buddha has games. In addition to the sports on screen, the corridor beside the bar houses a game room where patrons can check out board games: Monopoly, Life, Trivial Pursuit. That’s the kind of place you’re settling into.
While the Buddha’s Brewery does not have its own kitchen, it does have a rotating line up of food trucks operating out-front daily. On a weekend you may find anything from Chaco’s Chinese Tacos, rivaling those of El Jefe, to the baked goods of Flour Power food truck. A quick visit to Buddha’s website will show you the latest line up of food truck treats ready to satiate all your craft beer, craving induced needs.
-- Jillian Melero
Best LGBT Sports Team:
Scandals Flash Softball Team
The official softball team and sponsees of Scandals Saloon, Scandal’s Flash Softball Team, is comprised of 14 males and has a pretty impressive record. For one, the team won playoffs last season and placed 25th out of 56 in the World Series in Dallas this year. So after all that hard work, how does it feel to be the best LGBT sports team?
“It feels real good, it speaks to what we tried to create,” said James Mack, right center and one of the founders of the team. “We wanted to center a team around friends and fun…we wanted to create a sense of friends to come out, drink beer and have fun.”
Mack started the team four years ago after talking with a group of friends who also wanted to play. One of his best friends used to play in the D division. “We’re best friends and we play on different teams,” reminisced Mack. “[We thought] why not all play together?”
You can catch this team playing all over South Florida or enjoying a nice brew post game at Scandals Saloon.
2133 NE 26th Street,
Are you looking for a day away from the office? A place to renew your spirit? Or just a pampered escape from life’s daily grind?
Look no further than The Cabanas Spa.
“We go the extra mile to provide services for your every need,” said spa owner Norman LaChance.
Such amenities at this European styled spa range from massages to facials in a relaxed, comfortable environment. Licensed massage therapists David Morais, Rick Boyett and Mauricio Pradera are trained in Swedish and deep tissue as well as hot stone, reflexology and Swe-Thai.
The facials are given by Brandon Kelly, a young man with keen insight as to the process of anti-aging. Kelly, a licensed esthetician, is superb in applying creams and lotions to the neck and a hot towel to the face. He enjoys what he does and you will too.
The spa itself is part of the Cabanas Guesthouse complex, located on one of Fort Lauderdale’s many famed canals. The grounds are lush with pools, a Jacuzzi and steam room and plenty of room to roam in a clothing-optional climate.
Hours: By appointment
--- John McDonald
Best Karaoke Night:
2 Guys On A Mic Karaoke
Fridays 8 p.m.
205 E Oakland Park Blvd.
Oakland Park FL
Ricky and Andy, also known as “2 Guys On A Mic”, are quite well known in Broward, as they have hosted many karaoke nights all around town over the years, and still do. But this year, hands down, their Friday night at The Stable won the “Best Karaoke Night” over all others. It's such a unique situation of having Ricky bartending and participating, while Andy MC's the show and sings along as well. All in a neighborhood bar small enough that everyone can get a turn on the stage, and large enough to handle all your friends. A great group of regulars, an extraordinarily friendly atmosphere, and generously poured cocktails are just some of the reasons it won.
Their computerized karaoke system has a catalog of over 100,000 songs, so you're bound to find something to sing, no matter how obscure you think it might be. And because it's computerized, there are no little slips of paper or song numbers. The system can keep track of your singing history, and is easy to use.
If you're into karaoke, or just want to try it for the first time, you might want to try this very unique and fun experience. As Andy will always tell you, “It's not a competition,” so don't be shy, give it a try!
Our runner up this year was Hunter's Tuesday Night Karaoke, 9:30 p.m., in the Shoppes of Wilton Manors. (2232 Wilton Drive)
-- Dennis Jozefowicz
Best Local DJ:
“Ask any gay man in South Florida about DJ’s in our community, more often than not, the name Herbie James always comes up.” I wrote this line over four years ago when I started at SFGN. And it obviously still holds true today, as his fans came out in support of the local icon, and voted him the Best Local DJ in Broward County.
Back in 2010, he spoke with me about being recognized in the community. “How honorable is it to have won any award that comes from votes from your peers and fans. I am truly blessed to be a part of this great community here in South Florida. ”
With his own unique style of music, affectionately known as “Herbicidal,” he mixes soulful house music, progressive and tribal, into a sound that people come from all over to hear.
Herbie’s current DJ Residence is at RamRod bar, 1508 NE 4th Avenue, Thursday and Friday nights starting at 10 p.m. He also plays every second Saturday of the month at 9 p.m. for “DILF” at Bill’s, 2209 Wilton Drive.
Our runner-up this year is DJ Jason Gonzales who plays at Royal Palms Resort & Spa, 717 Breakers Ave., every Sunday from 2 p.m. -6 p.m.
Best Weekly Event
Scandals Saloon Sunday Tea
3073 NE 6th Ave.
Wilton Manors, Florida
With happy hour pricing all day, $10 all you can drink domestic draft beer, and music on the outdoor patio, it’s no wonder that the Scandals’ Sunday T-Dance earned the title of Best Weekly Event.
Located at Scandals Saloon, it’s the only gay country western bar in South Florida. But if you’re worried about listening to repeats of country twang, don’t be - there is a great variety of dance and disco music. DJ Katastrophy plays everything to get you movin’ and grooving’, and once a month, the famous DJ Howard Merritt (Casablanca Records) plays your disco favorites. This wild event is from 4-11 p.m., equaling a grand total of 7 hours of fun. And don’t forget, they start karaoke at 9PM inside for more fun. Judging by the sound of this event, you may want to call out sick on work Monday.
Best Hair Salon
Richard’s Men’s Hair Shop
2164 Wilton Dr,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
At Richard’s Men’s Hair Shop, some of the best things are a bit old fashioned – including the hot shaves and the customer service. “You’re always welcomed with a ‘hello, how are you?’ and with a smile,” said David Krombholz, manager. “We offer extreme professionalism in a non-judgmental environment.”
Open on Wilton Drive for 15 years and at The Gables Wilton Manors for the last nine months, Richard’s, owned by Richard Wexler, also offers haircuts, beard trims, colorings, waxing, manicures and pedicures.
All of it done by a diverse staff – David, Joey, Carlo, Big Six and Donald – made up of gay and straight staff members.
“We’re lively and energetic and love what we do. Our diverse staff is really into cutting hair and barbering. We have straight and gay employees who are lively, energetic and very, very talented and really, really friendly. We welcome any walks of life. And we welcome walk-ins.”
Best Local Celebrity
Sure, there are plenty of celebrities you can think of in the local scene, but EVERYONE knows Jennifer McClain. And for this year, her fans came out in support of her as the “Best Local Celebrity” in Broward County. And if you've ever seen her show, “This deserves a shot of Jäger!”
Jennifer has been performing her perky style of entertainment in the local gay bar scene for 16 years. When I asked her how she labeled herself as a performer, she said, “I would probably label myself a cabaret performer. I try to be funny, but I don't quite reach the level of comedienne (yet).” But anyone that's seen her show will tell you, it's fun, it's funny, and it's very upbeat. She definitely knows her niche.
Wilton Manors isn't the only place she performs. She ventures out now and then for special events in very well known places.
“I've performed all over the country and on cruise ships, but most recently and regularly... In NYC at the historic Stonewall Inn, Key West for NYE under the Big Shoe, and Fire Island at Cherry's and with Porsche at The Ice Palace.“
She has quite the schedule with plenty of chances to catch her shows! You can see her locally Monday nights at Bill's, 2209 Wilton Drive at 10:30 p.m. for her “Cast Party”, Saturday nights at The Alibi, 2266 Wilton Drive starting at 8 p.m., every first and third Sunday of the month at The Alibi for “Broadway Brunch” noon to 3 p.m., and every second and forth Wednesday at Bill's for Wicked Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.
“Congratulations Jennifer, have a Jäger, you earned it!”
-- Dennis Jozefowicz
Best Local LGBT Activist
Even with marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples seemingly inevitable, local LGBT activist Michael Rajner knows there’s still plenty of progress to be made.
“There’s a tremendous amount of work to be done. It’s still legal for people to be fired just for being LGBT.” He adds that “the legislature won’t even consider the needs of LGBT Floridians.”
The work, he says, can be “emotionally draining” but all worth it when he sees the lives he helps change and improve.
One change he already helped make was advocating that the Broward County Schools officially recognize LGBT History Month in October. “It was something I brought to the school board. It helps our youth have an opportunity to learn about their culture and the contributions of gays and lesbians in a positive way.”
In addition to working with Equality Florida and The Human Rights Campaign, Rajner is also a regular at Wilton Manors Commission meetings. Rajner, originally from Brooklyn, New York, moved to Wilton Manors in 2000. After a five-year residence in Pompano Beach, he moved back to the city because it just seemed like a natural fit.
“Being a single gay man, Wilton Manors is kind of the heart of it all.”
-- Mike d'Oliveira
1150 G Harold Martin Drive (off of Sunrise Boulevard)
Since time immemorial, men-loving men have used public parks as places to socialize and cruise for sex. While Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park is a fine place to cruise (at your own risk), this is only one of many reasons why SFGN readers voted it the Best Park in Broward County.
Among the Park’s facilities and amenities are: a pavilion, playground, open play area, lighted athletic fields, roller hockey rinks, racquetball courts, picnic area, shuffleboard, volleyball, walking and jogging trail, fitness stations, bridge club, recreation center, social center, activity center, restrooms, concessions and a gym.
Holiday Park hosts all kinds of youth programs as well as adult programs in ballroom dance, pickle ball, Tai Chi and Zumba. The Activity Center hosts classes in Aikido Martial Arts, the Art of Yoga by Mark Roberts Yoga, and Fort Lauderdale Stars Gymnastics.
Pride South Florida holds its annual Pride Fest at Holiday Park; the next one scheduled for February 28-March 1, 2015. Also located at or near Holiday Park are the Jimmy Evert Tennis Center (JETC), War Memorial Auditorium, Parker Playhouse, Stonewall National Museum and Archives, and ArtServe.
-- Jesse Monteagudo
2041 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors
As the proprietors of the “mom and mom shop,” The Pink Submarine, Dawn Holloway and Lori Tanner have the “fiercest subs on The Drive.”
With their nautical-themed name and aptly named-menu, which boasts 14 different subs – with six more on the way – such as The Admiral, The Buoy, Full Steam Ahead and The Starboard, the restaurant has a five-star Yelp review made up of 65 posts.
“We’re very different than any other sub shop. We’re not a deli. We’re just a very unique sub shop,” Holloway said. “We’re very close to our customers. They become like our family.”
Opened four years ago, Holloway and Tanner start with the base of the sandwich: the bread. “Our bread is delivered fresh daily,” Holloway said. From there, they only use Boar’s Head brand products for their meats and “all our veggies are handpicked from local markets.”
But what good is a great sub without great gourmet sides – all of which are homemade ate Pink Submarine.
There’s the pasta salad, cucumber salad and more but the most popular is the loaded baked potato salad. “On Yelp, they refer to it as crack. I’m not a fan but I get what they’re trying to say.”
And don’t leave without checking out their desserts including cookies, chocolate covered twinkies, brownies, custards and an assortment of different types of Oreo cookies – lemon cream, watermelon, fruit bunch, Resee’s and more.
Hours of operation are Monday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.;
Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; and Sunday 12 to 5 p.m.
Sal DeFalco, Hunters
2232 Wilton Drive
Wilton Manors, Florida 33305
The skill, Sal DeFalco says, is in the smile.
“Give them a big ass grin,” said DeFalco, when asked his secret to bartending success. “It melts their heart.”
DeFalco is, without a shadow of doubt, a legend of the night. He passed away on Friday, Oct. 31 at the age of 56.
He was a regular on the New York club scene during the 1970s at the height of disco, Studio 54 and the gay liberation movement.
“My life is a stage,” said DeFalco, who now calls Fort Lauderdale home.
DeFalco’s stage in South Florida was Hunters in Wilton Manors and readers of the SFGN recognized that by voting him the Best Bartender this year.
“Wilton Manors is very much like Greenwich Village,” DeFalco said. “There is a family spirit to it. It’s a well kept community.”
DeFalco and his longtime lover Claude Tant moved to South Florida in 2007 after living in North Carolina. The couple has been together for 25 years.
“We came down here because we knew there would be a lifestyle,” DeFalco said. “Gay culture in South Florida is strong and it was a chance to go back to work.”
-- John McDonald
Best Female Bartender:TIE
Vickie Bennett has been around the block and she knows her turf.
As a bartender at Broward haunts Bill’s and the Boardwalk, Bennett sees many colorful faces and displays great composure when dealing with her customers, some who can be unruly at times.
“I see a wide array of personalities,” Bennett says with a smiling grin. Seeking sun, palm trees and the love of being near the water, Bennett moved to South Florida from her native Ohio in the 1970s.
She started serving drinks in downtown Fort Lauderdale – at places like Backstreet and Copa -- when that scene was thriving and lively.
“I make everything with love,” said Bennett. “That’s why I’m still here today. This is a profession, not a career.”
And sometimes that means serving up a cool glass of water with just as much care as a bottle of Stella Artois. Bennett says she knows how to make a good drink and readers of the South Florida Gay News agree, voting her best female bartender.
Martinis, she says, are her forte.
Away from the nightlife, Bennett and her girlfriend of 15 years, Josee, enjoying fishing, and cruising in the car down to the Florida Keys.
“I love Key Largo,” she says.
Lisa Radwan loves what she does and readers of SFGN do too. Radwan was voted Best Female Bartender in Broward County, tying with Vickie Bennett of Bill’s and The Boardwalk.
Radwan, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., is a veteran of the gay bar scene, starting her career at George’s Alibi some 10 years ago after moving down from the north to escape the cold.
“It’s never dull,” she says of her time behind the bar.
Radwan can be found working happy hour at the Village Pub in Wilton Manors where she enjoys being a part of the good part of folks’ day.
“The after work crowd is fun to be around and we do a great job at the pub of creating that atmosphere,” said Radwan.
Radwan is married to her wife, Suzanne. The couple has been together for 14 years and lives in Fort Lauderdale.
-- John McDonald
Best Shopping Destination
The Galleria Mall
2414 East Sunrise Boulevard
Public opinion polls and sales receipts suggest that Broward County’s most popular shopping destination is Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise.
Though this might be true for straight suburbanites, SFGN readers have better taste than that, and they agreed that Fort Lauderdale’s Galleria Mall is Broward’s Best Shopping Destination.
Unlike the Sawgrass’ outlet mall-like atmosphere, The Galleria Mall is distinctly elegant, upscale and, if I may say so, gay. Even a cursory list of shops at the Mall indicates its popularity with queer shoppers: Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic, Brookstone, Godiva Chocolatier, GUESS, Louis Vuitton, Macy’s, Mayors, Neiman Marcus, Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma, just to name a few.
Adding to the Galleria’s popularity in our community is the fact that there are enough LGBT people working at the Mall for it to hold its own Pride Parade. The Galleria Mall is also the home of several first-class dining establishments, including Blue Martini, Capital Grille, P.F. Chang’s and Truluck’s.
-- Jesse Monteagudo
Best Thrift Shopping
2056 N. Dixie Hwy.,Wilton Manors
When Richard Claycomb hunts for antiques or just something he wants around the house, he makes sure to stop by the Poverello Thrift Store. “I don’t like to buy things that are made in China. And the only way it seems to support the local economy is if you buy pre-owned.”
But he’s not just a seeker of antiques. Claycomb hunts for pottery, glass and more. “Sometimes, they have nice art books. If I find something really good it goes on the internet.”
Thanks to Poverello, those looking for deals don’t need to go online to find what they’re looking for. In addition to antiques, Poverello sells books, furniture, clothing, shoes, DVDs, CDs, VHS, electronics, art, picture frames, Tupperware, board games, Christmas lights and ornaments, dinnerware and more.
Special sales are also a regular occurrence at Poverello. One deal is for seniors, 55 and over, who can get 33 percent off items they buy on Thursdays. Purchases and donations also help benefit Poverello’s AIDS and food pantry programs.
Hours of operations are Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 12 to 5 p.m.
— Mike d'Oliveira
Best Social Group:
Bears of South Florida
Do you want to volunteer for local charity and have fun while doing it? Well listen up, bears and cubs – there is the perfect social group for you!
A non-profit IRS 501(c)(3) charity which raises and donates funds to local charities, the Bears of South Florida raise an average of at least $5,000 in yearly donations since their start in 2002. In addition to raising charitable funds, the social group allows opportunities for social and fraternal interaction among all its members. What makes this the best social group is the fact that members of any type are accepted. Political agenda is nonexistent of the group. “Fun”-raising events include pot lucks, holiday parties, pool parties, day trips, nights at the theatre, and more.
“We are very honored and excited about being voted as ‘Best Social Group’ in the South Florida Gay News,” said Warren V. Milbourne, Treasurer. “We sincerely appreciate the support from our community.”
Program costs are created to be kept at the bare minimum due to the fact that all members, volunteers and sponsors donate both materials and time at no cost to the club. In other words, it’s easily affordable for those who want to join. Join the Bears of South Florida for new friendships, positivity, and some good ol’ community lovin’.
Best Group for Women:
When you’ve been around town for 27 years, people tend to recognize you. That’s the case for Women In Network. WIN has been a South Florida staple since 1987 and has now won this accolade three of the last four years. Lynn Glover, WIN Treasurer, has been involved in the organization since 2000 and said the commitment to the community is important to their members.
“Throughout the years, WIN has donated tens of thousands of dollars to local and national charities through events like our annual golf tournament, the back-to-school drive, the annual toy drive and more,” Glover said.
WIN is free for anyone who wants to join, not just women. Glover said WIN is looking for volunteers with e-marketing and is hoping to add two more board members soon. “Getting involved with WIN and being engaged in community events is a very fulfilling endeavor,” Glover said.
-- Dori Zinn
Best Bar AND Best Happy Hour:
2283 Wilton Dr, Wilton Manors, FL 33305
The first time Village Pub won SFGN’s Best Bar award, they had just barely opened their doors to the public in 2012. This year, they are celebrating first place three years running. The same goes for SFGN’s Best Happy Hour.
“We consider our customers first and foremost in the building,” said Village Pub owner Greg Phelps. “Our regular customers and Happy Hour group view us as ‘their bar.’ We always tell customers that this is their bar.”
Phelps attributed the awards to his staff. “They are amazing,” he said. “They get to know our customers on a personal level. They know what their customers are drinking before they come to sit down.”
The standard 2-4-1 at the Village Pub is already amazing, except they also offer it on Saturdays. From 11 a.m.-9 p.m., six days a week, you can get your Happy Hour drink on. Happy Hour isn’t just for weekdays anymore.
But that’s not all. You can have a drink at one of two stellar bars, lounge in the open air patio, or dance your butt off on the 400 sq. ft. dance floor. Get to the bar any day of the week, with Dragacide Mondays, Show Tune Tuesdays, and Karaoke Wednesdays. Drink specials are featured daily.
Best Drag Show:
1421 Oakland Park Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33334
When attendees go to Lips, they’re in for a real treat. Picture elaborate makeup, heels so high they’ll make you wince and enough glitter to stay on your clothes for months. Top it off with lots of raunchy humor and killer dance moves, and you have the perfect diva-licious drag queen show. With shows running six days a week, there are plenty of different themes and dances to tickle your fancy. Omitting Monday, shows include Gospel Brunch, Dragalicious Show, Bitchy Bingo, Diva’s Glitz and Glamour Review and Dining with the Divas, an impersonation show dedicated to big divas like Cher, Madonna, Britney Spears and more. Birthdays and bachelorette parties are even more entertaining – the guest of honor is usually called on stage, picked on (of course) and told to take a blowjob shot (enter vulgar joke about fellatio here). Just remember that IDs will be scanned and checked thoroughly for drinking, so leave underage siblings at home. According to the site, they are “as serious as a pair of six inch heels.”
Best Drag Queen:
Let’s be honest with ourselves: friends can convince you to do really stupid things. On the other hand, they can also push you in the right direction.
Take Misty Eyez, for instance. On a spooky Halloween night, she decided being a drag queen was the way to go after a friend convinced her to dress in drag. Since then, this diva has quite a few accolades under her sparkly belt, such as 2004’s Miss Stonewall, Fiercest Drag Queen in 411 Magazine, 2012 Best Show Hostess in South Florida from Besties, City Link’s Best Entertainer and more.
Also, this isn’t her first time winning “Best Drag Queen” in SFGN. Of course, you can see the beautiful drag queen at numerous events in South Florida, but she has weekly events with tons of opportunities to see her in action. Sundays mark the Trannie Palace at Bill’s Filling Station, Wednesdays she hosts Bitch Bingo at Lips, Thursdays she emcees at Boardwalk and finally, Saturday nights she serves at Lips. “South Florida is my home and it is an honor to be respected by the community that I love,” the diva said on winning Best Drag Queen. Bet Misty Eyez thanked her friend profusely, huh?
Best Restaurant, Best Burger:
2449 Wilton Drive
Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Some people may consider changing it up. Maybe the routine gets tiring or old. They may branch out to other places, but they always come back. They always come back to Rosie’s.
For the second year in a row, Rosie’s Bar and Grill has won SFGN’s Best Burger award. With nearly two dozen options, who needs to try anywhere else? Rosie’s has enough to choose from that you’ll feel like you’re in a different place every time.
Try the 2013 Riverwalk Burger Battle winner, the Bacon Bitty Bang Bang: bourbon bacon jam, chipotle bang bang sauce and creamy brie. Or try the Sofonda Elvis: crunchy peanut butter and fresh slices of banana. Or maybe the Hellena Bun: crumbled bleu cheese, fried jalapenos, and “Smack My Cheeks and Make ‘em Rosie” sauce.
Not in the mood for a burger? Rosie’s has you covered everywhere else, since they also won this year’s coveted Best Restaurant, beating out J. Mark’s, the winner of the last three years.
Maybe it’s their famous brunch, served Sundays starting at 10 a.m. featuring top-notch Bloody Marys and piles of waffles and pancakes. Maybe it’s their insane list of fresh appetizers, sandwiches, and awesome daily soups. Maybe it’s their friendly staff and adorable decor. Maybe it’s absolutely everything about Rosie’s that keeps you coming back, because no matter how many different places you try to change it up and branch out, you will always come back to Rosie’s.
2244 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors
Monday to Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Thursday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
At Humpy's Pizza, it’s all about choices. You can go with a traditional pizza or you can try something new. “We offer a wide variety of pizza choices and toppings,” said co-owner Steve Dejong.
Traditional pizza lovers can go with meat lovers, cheese, pepperoni and others. Those looking for something new and different can try some of Humpy’s specialty pizzas – including wild mushroom with caramelized onions, shrimp scampi, chicken and broccoli on a honey wheat crust, veggie on a honey wheat crust or buffalo chicken with blue cheese and green onions.
“It appeals to a wide variety of people,” said Dejong.
Although this is Humpy’s fourth year winning the award for Best Pizza, and open for almost eight years by Dejong and Dennis Godfrey, Humpy’s is also more than just pizza lovers slinging pies.
Those not in the mood for pizza can order sandwiches, garlic rolls, salads, flatbreads, calzones, sliders and more. One of the delicious items included in “more” are cupcakes, which, says Dejong, “continue to grow in popularity.” For the Halloween and fall season, try the pumpkin spice cupcake with vanilla cream cheese frosting. It should go down well with any of the pizzas, traditional or specialty, offered at Humpy’s.
2505 NE 15 Ave., Wilton Manors
Monday to Friday 6:30 a.m. to Midnight
Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to Midnight
When it comes to making some of the best desserts in South Florida, Stork’s pastry chef Peter Dekaj starts with the best ingredients. “Everything is made from scratch.” From there, he can make great modern European desserts, including pastries, cheesecakes, tarts, cakes and specialty cakes. “But we’re very well-known for our baked pies.”
Those looking for a pie can choose from apple crumb, apple cranberry walnut, perfect pumpkin, strawberry, southern pecan, peach almond crumble, strawberry rhubarb and coconut cream.
That’s just the beginning; or, it can be the end of the meal.
“A lot of people think we’re just a bakery, but we sell as much food as we do dessert,” said Dekaj.
Before you indulge in dessert, Stork’s offers a wide variety of menu items, including soups, salads, lasagna, sandwiches, smoothies and more. Opened in 1997, Stork’s has been chosen as Best Dessert twice. To go with one of their sweet tooth-satisfying offerings, Stork’s also offers tea and eight different freshly-roasted specialty coffees.
Best Restaurant for a Date:
J. Mark’s Restaurant
1490 NE 23rd Street, Pompano Beach
1245 N. Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale
For the second year in a row, our readers voted J. Mark’s as the “Best Restaurant To Take A Date” in Broward County.
J. Mark’s has long been a favorite of the community, as it continues its tradition of outstanding cuisine, welcoming atmosphere, and excellent service. It’s no wonder it’s a great place to take your special someone.
The menu has a great mix of steakhouse favorites, New-American selections, and a great lunch menu. Pastas, chicken, shrimp, and so many more options to choose from make it easy for anyone to find something they like.
They have a full service bar, with a “twice daily” happy hour from 2-6 p.m., and from 9 p.m. to close. Along with happy hour are appetizer and lunch specials. The slow roasted prime rib sliders are one of the most popular and highly recommended menu items.
J. Mark’s is open between 11:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. Friday, 11:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. Saturday, nd 11:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Sunday.
-- Dennis Jozefowicz
Best Place to Pick up a girl:
2426 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, FL 33305
If you’re a single lady and it’s Thursday night, there’s a strong likelihood you’re at Rumors. Voted best place to pick up a girl, Rumors picked up many local ladies when New Moon closed its doors. Yes, they won for best place to pick up a girl, but Rumors isn’t limited to just one sex.
“We are so honored to have been recognized for this award,” Rumors Owner and General Manager Brendan Corman said. “We want to be recognized as a place where all facets of the community can feel welcome and included.”
Aside from Ladies Night on Thursday, Rumors has a game night every Tuesday with poker and pool leagues as well as a karaoke night every Wednesday, featuring dollar drafts and cocktails. Fridays feature drag shows and an extended happy hour.
-- Dori Zinn
Best Place to Pick Up A Guy:
1508 NE 4th Ave.
Every major city has a leather/Levi/uniform bar, and here in South Florida, ours is the Ramrod. Located just a few blocks south on Wilton Drive, which turns into 4th Avenue, Ramrod is everything you would expect. It’s dark, edgy, and when they have a DJ, it’s quite loud, and packed with sweaty shirtless men. And that’s why our readers, and their fans, have overwhelmingly voted Ramrod “The Best Place To Pick Up A Guy”.
Notable nights include the insane Muscle Bear Fridays with world famous DJ Herbie James, (who happens to be this year’s “Best Local DJ” winner,) Saturdays are “Packed to the Rafters,” bringing caged hunks dancing at midnight, “Rock Hard Undies Night” on Tuesdays brings rock music and men in underwear, and lots more.
Of course, smoking is permitted, and cigars and pipes are very common! Hugely popular monthly events include “Pig Dance” on the first Saturday of the month, and Enforced Dress Code (EDC) on the patio every third Sunday of the month 9 p.m. to midnight. Check out their website for a full schedule, and their Facebook page for daily happenings and announcements.
-- Dennis Jozefowicz
Best Night Club:
Hunters Fort Lauderdale
2232 Wilton Drive
When Patrick Volkert and Mark Hunter took over the old Boom nightclub, they knew exactly what they were doing. So much so, that our readers voted Hunters as the “Best Nightclub” in Broward county. It’s an awesome, new vibe on the drive that will get you shaking your booty on the weekends, and relaxing during the week.
The remodeled lounge side is a flavor of greater taste and sophistication, while the dance floor side is a little bit louder, and with a better utilized lighting package than its predecessor, making it a much more energized dance experience. Their motto is “Spirits Elevated”, and they certainly live up to it.
A personal favorite for many is the ultimate in disco, the Classic 54 Hi Tea Dance, Sundays from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., featuring the best in disco played by none other than DJ Richie Rich. Check their web site and Facebook page for a complete guide to their weekly and special events.
This year’s runner-up is The Manor, 2345 Wilton Drive, which is open Fridays and Saturdays 11p.m. -4 a.m.
-- Dennis Jozefowicz
Best Coffee House
2230 Wilton Drive,
In the age of cold corporate coffee houses, Java Boys is that fresh cup of Joe.
Nestled in the Shoppes of Wilton Manors just off Wilton Drive, Java Boys is a mainstay in the South Florida gay scene since 2002. What’s the secret?
“There’s something special in the Java Boys experience,” explains Nicki Rose, the coffee house’s co-owner. “It’s more than a trendy coffee bar. It’s where human connections are made. It’s where a local community exists. It’s that place between work and home.”
Along with the coffee, Java Boys offers a variety of eats from gourmet pies and cakes to bagels and muffins. There are sandwiches and paninis as well and the “Java Scrambler,” an egg and bacon mix on your choice of bagel or English muffin, a bargain at $3.50.
As Rose notes, Java Boys is a community gathering place. The coffee house offers free Wi-Fi access, employs friendly staff, who advise visitors where to spend their tourist dollars and is a landing spot for numerous print publications.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to Midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
--- Jon McDonald
Best Business Group:
Gay & Lesbian Business Exchange (GLBX)
512 NE Third Ave. in Fort Lauderdale
954-462-6000 ext. 8775
Taking in a win for the third year in a row, the council in the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce is all about business. For six years now, the GLBX has worked with other groups to create an open space for communication while also bringing together LGBT businesses and allies to better the economy, not just in Fort Lauderdale, but in all of Broward County.
“We’re all about building better business -- building bridges with ally companies and ally business owners,” said Chad Thilborger, GLBX board chairman.
By being actively involved with the other councils in the chamber, including the Beach Council and the Downtown Council, businesses big and small have opportunities to make those all important networking connections. As of now, there are 162 businesses of all sizes involved in the GLBX council, making it one of the fastest growing in the chamber.
GLBX meets second and fourth Thursdays 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. throughout Fort Lauderdale. The council’s Business Advantage Referral Group meets first and third Wednesdays 8 to 9 a.m. at the chamber.
Royal Palms Resort
717 Breakers Ave., Fort Lauderdale Beach
Good things are happening at the Royal Palms.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Fort Lauderdale Beach resort was voted Best Guesthouse by SFGN readers. That’s in keeping with the positive vibes at the Royal Palms.
“We are all about peace and happiness here,” said Royal Palms General Manager Philip LaFond.
The property is on ideal real estate just one block from the beach with easy access to surrounding restaurants, shops and the historic Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. This neighborhood is changing and revitalization is apparent with Royal Palms leading the way.
The resort recently opened its doors to women and cancelled its clothing-optional policy. LaFond said this is a reflection of the equality movement, explaining, “How can we say we are for equal rights and yet not welcome women to our events?”
Royal Palms has more than 50 rooms styled in modern South Florida chic, with two pools, a restaurant, bar, spa and fitness center. On Sundays, the resort hosts a four-hour party (2-6 p.m.) featuring the music of DJ Jason Gonzales which draws hard bodies and the latest swimsuit fashions.
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Best Gym – Large
Unlike gyms that are super centers, small clubs or franchises, L.A. Fitness is the gym that will satisfy your needs, no matter who you are and what your goal.
L.A. Fitness has a highly trained staff that can make any workout effective while having fun doing it. They also offer full locker facilities and a babysitting zone called the Kids Klub if you can’t find someone to watch your kids during your workout.
Their club in Oakland Park is a haven for gay guys so if you like being surrounded by lots of gay men there’s no better place to go.
Check each club’s hours, but generally they are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays.
This is the third time L.A. Fitness has won SFGN’s Best Of competition.
Best Boutique Gym:
2270 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors,
Tucked away off Wilton Drive in a shopping center known for its nightlife is where you’ll find Steel Gym, voted best boutique gym, for the second year in a row by readers of the South Florida Gay News.
Owner Ken Hunt welcomed the award and said Steel Gym continues to be “community oriented.”
“Our whole philosophy is to make people feel better about themselves,” Hunt said. “Whether you want to bulk up, trim down or maintain, our staff and facility is here to help. We take a personal interest in our members.”
Steel Gym offers free weights, machines, towel service and a dry sauna. A variety of Yoga classes are also offered and once your workout is complete, a protein packed smoothie bar awaits for those seeking to add weight and body mass.
The Wilton Manors Steel Gym is one of just three in the nation with the others being in New York and Miami. The franchise was voted as one of the top six U.S. gyms by Muscle and Fitness Magazine.
Steel Gym is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.
-- John McDonlad
Best City to Live
Like Sebastian Beach (see “Best Beach”), the City of Wilton Manors has been voted the best in its field each and every year since SFGN began its annual “Best of” issues (2011).
In 2014, Broward County’s “Island City” continues to be South Florida’s “gay village” and an ideal place for LGBT people to live, work and play. The “second gayest city” in the United States (next to Provincetown, MA), Wilton Manors is also the second US municipality to elect an openly gay majority to its city government (after West Hollywood, CA).
“Our entire City has worked hard for many years to make everyone not only feel safe and supported in our beautiful Island City, but thrive on our diversity,” Mayor Gary Resnick said.
“It is our diversity that makes Wilton Manors such a great place not only to call home, but also to do business and to visit.” Vice-Mayor Julie Carson agreed, adding that “our walkable city nurtures a vibrant business community and night life; acres of park space and open waterways; a top ranked elementary school; and residents who are committed to neighborliness and a sustainable, fiscally sound future.”
In 2014 Wilton Manors became a center of LGBT culture with the opening of the World AIDS Museum & Education Center and the Stonewall National Museum and Archives’ Wilton Manors Gallery.
-- Jesse Monteagudo
Best Movie Theater:
The Classic Gateway Theatre
1820 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Four years running now, the Classic Gateway Theatre has earned Best Movie Theater honors by readers of the South Florida Gay News.
The theater opened in 1951 and made its mark by hosting the world premiere of famed Spring Break flick, Where the Boys Are, a film that placed Fort Lauderdale firmly on the tourist map.
Nowadays, the Gateway caters to a niche market, showing independent and foreign films that cannot be found in the mainstream big box theaters. The theater located near the Victoria Park neighborhood on Sunrise Boulevard also hosts the annual Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.
“We’re a smaller, more quaint theater,” said George Kaspriske, one of Gateway’s managing partners. “We pay more personal attention to our customers and our programming reflects a sophisticated audience.”
Inside the lobby at the Gateway is a trip down memory lane with many vintage movie posters and autographed pictures from the stars.
It should be noted the AMC Coral Ridge finished second in the voting, receiving a surprisingly large number of votes and nearly dethroning the Gateway’s four-year reign.
-- Jon McDonald
Intersection of A1A and Sebastian Street
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Like Wilton Manors (see “Best City to Live”), Fort Lauderdale’s Sebastian Beach has been voted the best in its field each and every year since SFGN began its annual “Best of” issues (2011). Though the section of Fort Lauderdale Beach across from the intersection of A1A and Sebastian Street is no different from other portions of the Beach, its population sets it apart from that of its neighbors.
As you enter Sebastian Beach from an adjacent beach, women and children disappear, and men’s bathing suits get noticeably shorter. Sometimes a clueless heterosexual tourist might drop a towel on Sebastian Beach, only to discover to his or her dismay Sebastian’s unique demographics.
In addition to its central location and its eye candy appeal, Sebastian Beach is conveniently close to many of our LGBT guest houses and resorts, which only serves to draw gay and lesbian tourists from around the world. Long-term couples, groups of friends and sex tourists alike frequent Sebastian Beach for its combination of sub-tropical climate, sandy beaches, warm waters -- and hot men.
-- Jesse Monteagudo
Best Spiritual Center:
1480 SW Ninth Ave. in Fort Lauderdale
Founded in 1971, for decades the church has provided solace and comfort to people of all walks of life. Currently run by senior pastor, the Rev. Durrell Watkins, and his partner, the Rev. Robert Griffin, the church is a part of the Metropolitan Community Churches, known for its roots in the LGBT rights movement.
“We hold a variety of beliefs, and individual beliefs are likely to change over time,” the Rev. Watkins wrote on the church’s site. “We affirm that each of us is a divine child of God, intrinsically good and blessed to be a blessing to our world.”
The church opens its doors to those even beyond the front steps of the church, with online sermons, college outreach, worship at assisted living facilities, collecting food for the hungry, and music ministry.
Because of its standing for LGBT rights, during the Supreme Court’s hearing of DOMA, the church hosted a community event with music and prayer for the justices to be lead in the right direction. Also, the church shares a campus with SunServe, which serves LGBT youth and their families.
-- Christiana Lilly
Best Live Theatre:
Empire Stage and Island City Stage
1140 N. Flagler Drive
empirestage.com and islandcitystage.org
While there’s plenty of large performing arts centers for one to go to, it’s Empire Stage and Island City Stage that have the hearts of theatre lovers. Empire Stage was purchased five years ago from the Soul Theatre by David R. Gordon and other producing partners, and ever since, it’s been pumping out productions in conjunction with Island City Stage, which rents the property and produces its own works part of the year.
“I feel like I’ve been jettisoned into the Westside Theatre,” Gordon says, describing the black box theatre and the ones he’s performed in up in the Big Apple.
Earlier this year, Empire Stage brought “Jamaica Farewell” to the stage, and last season, Island City Stage won six Carbonell Awards for its production of “The Timekeepers.” While the productions span topics of all kinds, many of Gordon’s choices cater to the LGBT community -- “Making Porn” was a hit and the Island City Stage is currently performing “POZ” through Nov. 23.
“My main goal is that people come out and have a good time. I’m not trying to be political, not trying to make a statement,” Gordon said. “When people aren’t working or going about their daily activities, they want to enjoy themselves.”
-- Christiana Lilly
Best Gay Event:
Seemingly taking a cue from American Horror Story’s newest season, Wicked Manors took place this Halloween with a freak show theme. The annual event first started in 2007 and has been a hit ever since.
“Think circus sideshow meets Halloween street festival and you’ve got Freak Show – Wicked Manors 2014 promises to be bigger, better and freakier than ever before!” said Doug Cureton, Wicked Manors Co-Founder and Event Chair. “From the moment you arrive on Wilton Drive, you will be transported to a magically freakish celebration with over the top costumes, décor, music, flash mobs and costume contests with our main stage diva emcee, Miss Misty Eyez.”
The fun event featured eight costume contests on the main stage as well as contests in the various bars and nightclubs. Music from DJs had guests shimmying in their costumes with all the other freaks that attended. Proceeds from this wickedly awesome event went to support vital programs and services granted by the Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors.
As if all that wasn’t enough, this year marked the second annual Wicked Manors flash mob, and was even more fabulous featuring songs such as Rick James' "Super Freak" and "Le Freak" by Chic. Tito Abdelredo once again choreographed the event with stellar dance moves.
This is the second year in a row the event has taken home the prize of best gay event in Broward County. We’ll see if this year’s freak show theme was enough to win again next year.
Best Place to Shop
To The Moon
2205 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors
Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
If you stop by To The Moon and you don’t find what you’re looking for, you either didn’t look hard enough or it doesn’t exist anymore.
With hundreds of different kinds of candy, chocolate, gum, licorice, greeting cards, gag gifts, novelty items and more, To The Moon has plenty to choose from.
Owned and operated by Antonio Dumas, To The Moon opened on Wilton Drive in 2005. It features candy from 87 different countries, over 100 sugar free products, 35 types of sodas in glass and made with sugar cane instead of corn syrup, over 100 types of dark chocolate bars, 80 to 90 types of milk chocolate and 100 types of black licorice. “You can’t find black licorice anywhere,” said Dumas, who prides himself on selling items you can’t find anywhere else in South Florida. Dumas also sells marzipan. “Nobody can find it so they always come here.
One item he particularly prides himself on is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Sandwiches, from Columbus, Ohio. “We sell 56 sandwiches a week,” said Dumas.
But no matter what you’re looking for, if you find it at To The Moon, you’re bound to “have a sweet day,” as Dumas says to customers exiting his store.
— Mike d'Oliveira
2040 N. Dixie Highway
The Pride Center at Equality Park is a place but also a part of the lives of many of South Florida’s LGBT community.
Home to 60 meeting groups each month, from health and exercise to support groups for LGBT individuals to non-LGBT groups, The Pride Center offers help to meet the economic, health and spiritual needs of the LGBT community.
The Pride Center also hosts a monthly yard sale, HIV testing and counseling, art gallery openings, musical festivals, health symposiums, holiday celebrations and more.
Pride Center officials estimate more than 17,000 adults and youth attend each year and outreach activities directly impacted 26,262 South Florida residents last year.
“The Pride Center is the ‘kitchen’ of our community. Everybody gathers here. They offer countless services for LGBT individuals, couples and families,” said Chris Caputo, local business owner and Pride Center Board Member.
Hours are Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
-- Christiana Lilly
Best AIDS Charity
2056 N. Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors
The young, old, male, female, black, white. Whatever the skin color, gender or background, Poverello’s efforts to feed and assist those with HIV or AIDS extend in all directions.
With one out of every six HIV/AIDS diagnosed households in Broward County going hungry, Poverello’s HIV/AIDS-related efforts are needed now more than ever. Organizers are pledging their continued support. For over 25 years, Poverello has been assisting individuals and families who struggle with HIV/AIDS. Currently, more than 2,500 individuals benefit from their services, including the food pantry, educational programs and the Live Well Center, which offers a gym and other programs.
The ultimate goal is that no one diagnosed with HIV/AIDS will go hungry. The recent economic downturn and other factors seemed to have made it a tougher task to complete.
“We are also seeing an increase in clients’ need for food due to the fact that other food pantries are experiencing cut backs,” said Brad Gammel, Poverello’s food bank quality manager. The shortage comes as the holiday season approaches, a time when families struggling with food issues feel it even more.
— Mike d'Oliveira