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When people find out I’m a restaurant reviewer, they often ask me, “What’s the best restaurant in town?”

My joking response is, “Depends on who’s paying.”

The response is only partially a joke. There’s so much packed into that question. Are they talking value for the dollar? Overall dining experience? I’ve had terrific meals in strip mall holes in the wall, and in white linen tablecloth 5-star restaurants. I’ve also had lousy meals in both. 

Factor into that, do they mean a “gay” restaurant? What exactly is a gay restaurant? I recently had that conversation with my friend Erik Piepenburg who is writing a book about gay restaurants. What are the facets that make it a gay restaurant? Is it a place owned by a gay person? Mostly gay clientele? 

We decided that if it is gay-owned and/or managed that doesn’t automatically put it in the running. It is more dependent on the clientele and the general vibe. Other restaurants can be “gay-friendly” in that you feel comfortable on a romantic dinner with your significant other, but that may not be a gay owner or have a significant LGBT clientele. Younger readers may not know of the days when same-sex couples could not get seated at some mainstream restaurants, much less hold hands or share a smooch. 

A quick Internet search for “gay restaurants in Fort Lauderdale,” brought up some interesting results. Trip Advisors’ suggestions from those posting on the site were all at least 10 years old. 

Yelp! started their list with two places that obviously paid to be placed at the top of any lists for searches in the area, Jet’s Pizza and Legends Tavern & Grille, both of which are franchise operations, neither of which is remotely gay. Jet’s is at least located in a gay area. As for the “legitimate” one’s chosen, its algorithm apparently can’t discern between a restaurant and a bar. The Yelp! list includes:

  • Rosie’s Bar & Grill 
  • Union Kitchen & Bar 
  • Hamburger Mary’s 
  • Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar 
  • The Manor 
  • The Pub 
  • Johnsons 
  • Eagle Wilton Manors 
  • Scandals Saloon 
  • New York Grilled Cheese 

I don’t know what they’re serving at Johnsons besides giant sausages. But why choose these bars and leave out obvious choices such as Courtyard Café, Tulio’s Tacos, and Tropics? And if you’re going to choose bars, pick those where the food is a major focus. They included Alibi and The Pub, but why not Spencer’s or Gym Bar? 

GayTravel.com was also off the mark on many of its suggestions: 

  • La Bamba 
  • Courtyard Café 
  • Georgie’s Alibi 
  • Rosie’s Bar and Grill 
  • Rodeo: A Southern Restaurant 
  • Capital Grille 
  • Ortanique on the Mile 
  • Casa D’ Angelo 

Rodeo has been closed for about 10 years, Capital Grille is not particularly gay, and Ortanique is all the way down in Coral Cables. 

GayFortLauderdale.com is a little closer to the mark. Its list features: 

  • 15th Street Fisheries 
  • Bona Italian 
  • Casa d'Angelo 
  • Coco Asian Bistro & Bar 
  • Doc B's Fresh Kitchen 
  • Foxy Brown 
  • Grill 66 & Bar 
  • Java Boys Coffee 
  • Lips 
  • Rosie's Bar & Grill 
  • Tropics 

I’ll give them a couple of these as at least gay-friendly, but Doc B’s is very het, and Grill 66? I’ve never even heard of that one. 

Eater Miami bundled bars and restaurants together in an article and includes all of South Florida, but if you pull out the restaurants in our area, it did a pretty good, if not complete, job. But then, restaurants and Fort alone weren’t the focus of its article. 

  • Rosie's Bar & Grill 
  • Georgie's Alibi Monkey Bar 
  • Bubbles & Pearls 

GayCities.com also included the Miami area in its list, but after you pull those out and factor in the fact that the list is old (at least two of the places it lists are closed), it comes the closest to being complete. 

  • Rosie's Bar & Grill 
  • Courtyard Cafe 
  • Lips 
  • Peter Pan Diner 
  • Thai Me Up 
  • Casablanca Cafe 
  • Stork's Bakery & Coffee House 
  • Tropics Grille 
  • J. Mark's Restaurant 
  • Flip Flops Dockside Restaurant 
  • Java Boys 
  • Tee Jay Thai Sushi 
  • Sozo Sushi Bar 
  • Pink Sub 
  • Greek Islands Taverna 
  • Christina Wan's Mandarin House 
  • Le Patio 

What would you list as the top 10 gay (or if you prefer LGBT) restaurants? Send me your list at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Rick Karlin is SFGN's food editor. Visit SFGN.com/Food to read his previous reviews. Have a culinary tip to share? Email Rick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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