Best Beach (Miami-Dade)

12th St. Beach
Miami Beach
1200 Ocean Dr.
Miami Beach, FL

Ripped up men in speedos? Check.

Ripped up men rollerblading in speedos? Check.

Ripped up men rollerblading in speedos while speaking Spanish? That’s a check too.

Indeed, as Hank Azaria’s character from the Birdcage put it – it’s all about the “natural heat [insert overly dramatic Spanish Accent here].’ And the good news is that come rain or come shine, 12th St. Beach is packed with men from all walks of life – many of whom happen to be Latin, buff and dawning speedos – yet others who, seek simply to blend in. Be careful, though, 12th St. beach isn’t really the place to blend in. If seeking solace is your idea of the perfect LGBT beach outing, you’re likely better off somewhere else, because this place is jumpin!

Did we mention ripped, Latin men wearing speedos and playing volleyball?

Ya….when we said jumpin’ we weren’t kidding and neither were our readers, who overwhelmingly voted 12th. St. Beach the best locale to catch the some rays, take a dip in the usually 75-80 degree sea water and, of course, frolic in the sands (with their choice of all kinds of men in Speedos…and not just Latinos – but definitely a lot, that’s for sure).  

“There’s volleyball in the day, frisbee, sun and boys. And then at night, we go to [Hotel] Victor for some pregame,” Pompano Beach native, Mike Augustine says.   He stops for a moment, lifts his head in to the breeze, widens his already broad smirk and adds while giggling, “Then we go to the Palace and hopefully end up Staying at Hotel Victor for post game.”

Yup.   Beaches, clubs, restaurants, regular gay themed events and even immortalization VIA film -- The Birdcage was shot only a half block away at the Carlyle hotel – making 12th St. beach in Miami an absolutely compulsory destination for gay men, women and the LGBT community as a whole.

Best Brunch, Best Drag Show, Best Tea Dance

The Palace
1200 Ocean Dr.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Ask any real estate agent—and God knows, there are plenty in South Florida—the secret to success for any business is location, location, location…..well, The Palace, South Beach’s Ocean Drive gay bar has got that! Just across the street from the beach, The Palace offers the perfect sunny spot to see and be seen. But, that’s not enough for General Manager Nelson Cardona and his hardworking staff. Sunday brunch, dubbed Bunchic!, is one of the most popular events of the week and Breakfast Club Saturdays offer the same delicious eats if you prefer to sleep in on Sundays. The divas of The Palace are second to none, providing gender-bending entertainment into the wee hours of the night. And, after a relaxing day on the beach, The Palace’s tea dances provide the perfect transition from sunny sojourn to midnight madness, courtesy of some of the Beach’s most popular DJs.

Best Burger (Miami-Dade)

Burger and Beer Joint
900 South Miami Ave. Suite 130 in Miami (305-523-2244)
1766 Bay Road in Miami Beach (305-672-3287)

With two locations in South Beach, Mary Brickell Village and another in Pembroke Pines, it’s perfect for a happy hour meal or during a night out. But these aren’t your ordinary burgers -- using toppings like shrimp, wagyu beef, brie and foie gras, it’s burgers gone classy. However, don’t worry about donning your best suit at Burger and Beer Joint. It’s a totally laid back vibe to relax with friends and family, but without the sacrifice of quality food.

“It’s bringing the concept of burgers and adding a gourmet aspect,” said Devin Huber, the brand’s marketing and online content manager.

A tip? Huber says one of customers’ favorites is the Mustang Sally, a half pound of wagyu beef topped with red onion marmalade, brie, and sliced prosciutto sandwiched between a brioche bun.

– CL

Best City to Live (Miami-Dade County)

Miami Beach

With over 80,000 residents packed into a 7 plus square mile area (as of the 2010 US census), the city of Miami Beach is not only jammed with people but boasts an equally robust cultural and recreational presence to its visitors and residents alike.

Defined by its trademark 20’s and 30’s themed architecture and immortalized as a bonafide LGBT watering hole in films like the Robin Williams/Nathan Lane classic, The Birdcage, Miami Beach is everything it’s “cracked up to be” and then some. It’s a place where being LGBT is to be just another face in the crowd.

Luis Gonzalez, a 40 year old gay former resident of Miami Beach and says that, as a gay man, the laid back atmosphere made life all the more pleasant.

On any given day, residents of this beachside haven can be seen soaking in the sun on miles of pristine, world-renowned beaches (complete with pride flags adorning the vintage lifeguard towers), indulge in a meal of nearly any ethnic derivation, and top it all off with a trip to one of the cities innumerable LGBT clubs such as Twist and Score among them.

“I loved that I could go out on a Saturday morning, go to the beach, then go out in the evening and not even have to go home in between,” Gonzalez says, referring to the city’s casual atmosphere and lack of formality.  “It’s a gay man’s paradise. People wear less clothes,” he adds before mentioning that it was also much easier to “play the field [in such an accepting place].”

A trader on the Forex markets, Miami Beach’ location also gave Gonzalez leverage professionally, “There are over 80 languages spoken in Miami Beach alone….the whole area is just a hub for travel and business for people from Latin America, Europe and North America.”

In closing, Gonzalez says “it’s like New York with better weather and a lot cheaper. It’s liberal in that no one cares about gay or straight. You can just be you. It’s a simple life for any gay person.”

– MA

Best Dessert (Miami-Dade)

Ice Box Café
1855 Purdy Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

In 2006 Oprah featured Ice Box Café on her show as a part of a Best Cakes in America series, so it’s no wonder SFGN readers chose the place as the Best place for Desserts in Miami.

“Pastries and desserts have always been the backbone to our business,” said Owner Robert Siegmann.

Besides their flagship restaurant in Miami Beach they have locations in two airports Miami and Dallas/Fort Worth with another location opening next year in Sunset Harbor.

“We first started off with a small lunch place with a crazy line of desserts that I had created,” he said. “The place really caught on and became a watering hole for all of the locals.”

If you visit, Siegmann recommends the Chocolate Delight cake, an “over the top chocolate explosion.” (It was once called the ‘Bomb,’ but apparently the airports didn’t like the name). If chocolate isn’t your thing try the Carrot Cake. “Hands down we have the best carrot cake out there, much lighter and easier to eat a lot of, than the Bomb,” he said.

Siegmann said he’s thankful for the gay community’s patronage over the years.

“The attention and the persistent of the gay community, especially in the beginning, kept us afloat and I’ve always been very thankful for that.”

Best Diner in Miami-Dade

11th Street Diner
1065 Washington Ave. in Miami Beach

South Beach might be all about the glitz and glamour, but sometimes you just need to kick back with a hot meal. That’s where our favorite diner comes in, whether it be to get a fix of breakfast for lunch or a late-night snack after a night of partying.

“We’re the only one of its kind on South Beach,” said Mark Grimsley, the manager of the 21-year-old restaurant.

Reminiscent of a blue collar diner, in its original Art Deco architecture, the menu is far from simple. Try their famous roasted turkey dinner, or the apple- and raisin-reduced pork chops. Open 24 hours a day, they’ll always have the right drink or plate for whatever it is you’re craving.

– CL

Best Drag Queen (Miami )

Tiffany Fantasia

For 10 years Tiffany Fantasia has been entertaining the LGBT community in Miami and nowadays she can be found at the iconic restaurant the Palace on South Beach three days a week.

And she’s ready to do more — a lot more.

“There’s so much I want to do with drag that I can’t wait to do in the near future,” she said. “I can’t wait for it to happen and everybody to see. I’m loving what I do.”

She was shocked to learn she won the Best Drag Queen award.

“I’m surprised and amazed. There’s a lot good talent in South Florida so to be picked as one of the best is an honor. You work hard and the gifts start to come back to you,” she said.

But it hasn’t always been easy.

“It’s been a struggle and a journey, but it’s been well worth it,” she said. “This business is not easy at all. And I thank your readers and the audiences to being able to entertain them for so long.

Best Gay Social Event of the Year (Miami-Dade)

Miami Beach Gay Pride

Beaches. Boys. Adam Lambert. How could you not love Miami Beach Gay Pride 2013?

Going into its sixth year MBGP has quickly become one of the hottest events around the state. In terms of history the PrideFest is relatively new compared to Fort Lauderdale and even Palm Beach County. But in terms numbers the weekend event has quickly outpaced it’s northern neighbors attracting around 80,000 people this past year. And to top it off Adam Lambert headlined this year’s festival generating a lot of buzz leading up to the event and wowing audiences with his over the top performance.

“Everyone connected with the production of Miami Beach Gay Pride is deeply ‘proud’ that SFGN readers have named our event their favorite event of the year. It’s gratifying to know that an event that started out as a neighborhood celebration five years ago has grown into a major destination for the South Florida community and visitors beyond,” said

Joel Stedman, Chair, Miami Beach Gay Pride Board of Directors. “But we’re not going to rest on our laurels, we invite our old friends and new ones to next year’s celebration which we promise will be bigger and better than ever.”

Next year’s event is scheduled for April 11 – 13.

Best Neighborhood Bar (Miami)

1625 Lincoln Road @ Michigan Ave.
Miami Beach

When it comes to Martini’s there’s no place better than Mova Lounge, which has three locations, Lincoln Road, Brickell, and in D.C.

“We’re a high end martini bar,” said Babak Movahedi, who calls himself the principal of the bar.

But when it comes to being named Best Neighborhood Bar Movahedi says it’s all about the service.

“Service is key. Quality is also an important factor. A quality drink and great service with a smile,” he said. “A lot of credit goes to our team, and how they interact with our customers, always making sure they’re happy. And of course we have amazing drinks.”

Besides the drinks and service every night there is a theme: Mondays is Karaoke; Tuesdays is 2 for 1; Wednesdays starting in January will be fashion night; Thursdays is Brazilian night; and Fridays is DJ Bryan Zero with host Pussila; Saturdays is video night; and Sundays is chill night.

“The Friday party has been going on for years,” Movahedi said.

But if you’re just going to taste some exotic martinis Movahedi recommends the Saketini, which is a martini, blended with Sake, Apple and Kiwi.

“That’s probably most popular martini we have right now,” he said. He added: “From all of us at Mova we thank the community for voting for us and we appreciate it and don’t take it for granted.”

Hours are 3 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Best Networking Group

South Beach Social Club

For 13 years, Edison Farrow’s South Beach Social Club has been the nexus of society on Miami Beach. From Martini Tuesdays, his wildly successful roving monthly cocktail party, to some of the most popular weekend events in Miami-Dade, SoBe Social Club has attracted the A-list residents on the beach and welcomed tens of thousands of visitors seeking the trendiest nightspots. And now, after nearly two decades as one of the Beach’s most successful promoters, Farrow is finally setting down some roots, The Cabaret, a new cabaret bar he and partner Ed DeCaso recently opened at 233 12th St. between Washington and Collins Avenues. Farrow auditioned hundreds of hopeful performers before settling on 14 of the most talented musicians who will be entertaining and serving seven nights a week. While friends won’t be waiting for Farrow’s twice-weekly emails for the latest nightlife news, they’ll find all the action at The Cabaret.

Best Nightclub in Miami-Dade County

1437 Washington Ave. in Miami Beach

With night after night of dancing, music, and shirtless guys, it’s no wonder this club earned the number one spot with readers.
“Everybody’s welcome at Score-- we don’t discriminate,” said partner, Luis Morera. “Every night is created for people to just come in and have a great time.”

After 16 years of being located in the busy restaurant and shopping district of Lincoln Road, the owners decided to move their successful club to a more suited area in Miami Beach on Washington Avenue. Now in a space four times larger than the original, the people keep coming.

One of its most popular nights, Tuesday nights have been relegated to Latin music for 14 years now, including drag queens running the show. Plus, there’s hip hop nights, DJ music, pop music, and something for everyone to dance their asses off to.

Fridays and Saturdays 6 p.m. to 5 a.m., every other night is 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Best Non-Profit (Miami)

LGBT Visitor Center
1130 Washington Ave., 1st Floor
Miami Beach, FL 33139

One of the first facilities of its kind in the U.S., the LGBT Visitor Center is a one-stop destination for information about Miami Beach and Miami’s gay destinations, shopping, attractions and community events. Located in the historic 1927 Old City Hall Building, the center is open Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. In addition to valuable information for visitors, the center serves as a meeting place for the local LGBT community, hosting dozens of events, workshops, seminars and meetings each week, as well as a gallery space to display the work of local LGBT visual artists, in conjunction with ArtsUnited. The LGBT Visitor Center receives significant financial and programming support from the vibrant Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Best Pizza in Miami-Dade

731 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach

Located on the busy Lincoln Road strip in Miami Beach and in downtown Miami, there’s always a line of hungry fans waiting to get a bite of pizza from Spris. With authentic ingredients and recipes, there are more than two dozen different pizzas to try, from traditional Margherita -- the top seller -- to more adventurous pies like the Terra e Mare: tomato sauce, mozzarella, shrimp, Portobello mushrooms, and imported prosciutto.

"We dedicate ourselves to select the best ingredients in order to make excellent pizzas to satisfy all the different palates and serve them with a smile and professionally,” said Silvia Cadamuro, marketing and media for the umbrella group Spris sits beneath.

The best part of all? Cadamuro revealed to us that a third location will be opening in Midtown.

Best Place to Pick up a Guy

1057 Washington Ave
Miami Beach

Something for everyone — that’s Twist. Here’s a sample: a video bar, salsa, techno, go-go dancers, dancing. With 7 bars and multiple dance floors it’s no surprise Twist won for Best Place to Pick up a Guy.

And being open until 5 a.m. everyday, you’ll have plenty of time to find that special guy — or hookup. And with no cover charge — ever, what’s not to like about the place?

“We get a later crowd since we’re open till 5 a.m,” said General Manager Valentino Eriksen. He went on to say that even after bar closes typically customers linger outside still meeting potential love interests. “If they don’t make that connection inside they is still time outside on the sidewalk for the last 15 minutes.”

Twist is Miami’s oldest gay nightclub being around since 1993. Even more amazing it’s still under the same management and ownership.

“We have a strong local clientele and equally strong tourism clientele,” he said. “We have to give thanks to our customers for creating that synergy.”

“Were very grateful for this honor and we’re also grateful for the customers that made it possible,” he said.

Open every night until 5 a.m.

Best Restaurant (Miami-Dade)

721 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach

With restaurants constantly opening and closing, it’s nice to have a mainstay for great food. TiramesU, snuggled on Lincoln Road, has been around for 25 years and hit the sweet spot in our cravings for Italian food just as long. How?

“Good food, selected ingredients, reasonable prices, and great service are our ingredients for success,” said Silvia Cadamura, marketing and media for the Graspa Group.

Taking the beach life of Miami and incorporating it into their menu, there’s plenty of seafood in the mix -- a popular dish is the Linguine alla Bucaniera, made with house-made linguine, jumbo shrimp, mussels, squid, daily fresh fish, and a spicy tomato sauce.

– CL

Best Shopping (Miami)

Perfect Gifts SoBe
1516 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach

For those shopping in Miami Beach, Perfect Gifts SoBe is the place to get your gay on. Voted best shopping in Miami-Dade by readers of the South Florida Gay News, the store is known for its colorful greeting cards, novelties and pet accessories, but also has a concept says owner Perry Martino.

“Get a gift, get it wrapped and go on to your party,” Martino explained.

Perfect Gifts SoBe has a beautiful selection of candles and fragrances and their greeting cards, Martino notes, range from naughty to nice.

Formerly the Pink Palm on Lincoln Road, Perfect Gifts has been at its Washington Avenue address since early June. The store is open daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.