Here are SFGN's "Best of 2016" winners in the bars and clubs category in Broward County.
Best Bar, Karaoke Night, Place to Dance, Regular Event, Bartenders and Offline Place To Meet A Date
2232 Wilton Drive
You could say Hunter’s Nightclub dominated this year’s “Best of” contest.
That, of course, would be an understatement.
The Wilton Drive nightclub took seven categories: Best Bar, Karaoke Night, Place to Dance, Regular Event (Sunday Tea Dance), Bartenders (Guy & Girl) and Offline Place To Meet A Date.
“The success at Hunter’s Wilton Manors is due in large part to our talented team,” said co-owner Mark Hunter. “From the management of Bruce, Chuck, Patrick and myself to our exceptional staff that we have employed. They are all the type of people who do the right thing in the right circumstance and I am very, very proud of them all.”
At a time when businesses seem to come and go into the plaza Hunter’s occupies like a revolving door, it is not uncommon to find people waiting in line just to enter the nightclub.
“We’re just happy,” Mark said. “Happy to be on Wilton Drive and happy to have the support that we have.” Mark calls his South Florida club a “boutique nightclub.” There are two bars downstairs and one upstairs with a view of the dance floor.
There’s a video bar with comfortable chairs, friendly bar staff, pool table and specially crafted cocktail menu. Hunter’s opened its doors in South Florida in 2014 and quickly partnered with area non-profits to further its success. The nightclub routinely hosts parties and fundraisers for various groups, but it is the entertainment aspect that earned Hunter’s its best reputation.
A sister operation, Hunter’s Palm Springs, has been open in the California desert resort town since 1998. Mark Hunter began his career as nightclub owner 31 years ago in Chicago.
He has branded his South Florida business with the tagline, “Spirits Elevated,” and on Sunday evenings the dance floor is packed.
“Some see ‘Spirits Elevated’ as the way you might feel after enjoying our club, some see it as the elevated quality of product we serve, some see it as the elevated professional service we offer, and we see it as happy customers. You probably already know that our ‘house’ liquors are of elevated quality such as Finlandia Vodka, Cuervo tequila and Canadian Club to name a few,” said Mark.
Best Bar for Lesbians
Rumors Bar & Grill
2426 Wilton Drive
After the closing of New Moon three years ago, Wilton Manors lost its only lesbian bar.
“A lot of women felt it was a home,” Cindy Curtis said.
But now, Curtis and other women have found a new home where to meet, one that’s right next door to the former location of New Moon – Rumors Bar & Grill.
“It’s a very friendly crowd. I was there last night. I met a woman. She bought me a drink and we talked a lot. I played pool with a couple guys. It’s just a very welcoming kind of bar. And they’re doing charity things probably more than a lot of places in Wilton Manors,” said Curtis.
Being known as a welcoming place for lesbians is a reputation Rumors is happy to have, said Brendan Corman, one of the bar’s owners. It’s one they’ve shown over the past three years with being voted the best Bar for Lesbians and the best Offline Place to Meet a Date (Girls).
“We were the first to accept them after New Moon closed. It’s about giving them a place to come. We feel we’re a community bar. It doesn’t matter if you’re lesbian, gay or transgender,” said Corman. “We’re a bar for everyone.”
Best Gay Friendly Straight Bar
Flip Flops Dockside Eatery
3051 NE 32nd Ave.
Bring a little bit of Key West into Fort Lauderdale with Flip Flops Dockside Eatery, winning this year’s Best Gay Friendly Straight Bar.
“We want our customers to feel at home,” the website reads — regardless of sexual orientation.
The eatery is right on the water, letting you park your boat and come in for delicious food — or enjoy a nice drink at their full bar. Flip Flops Dockside Eatery has daily drink specials and $3 happy hour from 2 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“You can sit dockside and watch the boats go by while you drink and dine,” said one reviewer on Yelp. “The service was attentive and friendly.”
The eatery is a great place to stop by for lunch, opening every morning at 11:30 a.m. except on Mondays when they are closed. The casual atmosphere will leave you with a relaxing place to stay and enjoy your meal without being bothered by loud music or noise from rowdy bar-goers.
GayCities rates Flip Flops five out of five stars for its great happy hour and gay friendly environment. So the next time you want to grab a bite in the Fort Lauderdale area, check out SFGN’s Best Gay Friendly Straight Bar.
Best Happy Hour
Georgie's Alibi Monkey Bar
2266 Wilton Dr, Wilton Manors
In the (unofficial) heart of Wilton Manors sits Alibi, the go-to gay hangout with potent drinks — making it earn this year’s vote for Best Happy Hour.
Their happy hours just plain kill it. Enjoy two-for-one drinks Monday through Thursday from the time they open (11 a.m.) until 9 p.m, or come on Friday to enjoy the happy hour all day long.
Keep up the fun on Saturday, where you can get three drinks for the price of two from 6 p.m. until closing time, and let the good weekend spill into Sunday with a Jazz Brunch until 2 p.m., $4 Bloody Marys and Mimosas and a weekly rewind after 4 p.m. with other specials after 9 p.m.
And the best part? Alibi has drink specials every single day.
Thursdays are a must-go if you love Long Island Iced Teas at only $3 a glass.
They are open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and are open an hour later on Fridays and Saturdays.
Alibi won Best Happy Hour in 2011 and tired for the top spot in 2013.
Best Latin Night
2345 Wilton Drive
In a community that celebrates diversity, Ed Lugo, who is originally from Puerto Rico, likes The Manor’s Latin Night because, even on a night celebrating Latin culture, there’s still a lot of diversity.
“That’s what makes it better. It’s all the groups of gay people in the room during Latin Night. You have young and old, girls and guys. It’s pretty mixed.”
And then, of course, there’s the entertainment. “They have great shows. Usually, the performers, including the drag queens, are pretty good.”
He also likes The Manor’s Latin Room, one of the various themed rooms at the entertainment complex. “You can go into the Latin Room and you can move to another room and you’re back in America.”
On its website, the two-level entertainment complex bills itself as a “combination of vintage style and cosmopolitan sophistication” with “a modern flair, a large performance stage & the best of the best in sound & lighting. There is a lavish, exclusive VIP room for guests looking to go the extra mile. From high-end, eye-pleasing lights and sounds to stellar service, the Epic Nightclub is your one stop for a night to remember.” All of it home to “massive dance parties to runway shows.”
Best Drag Show
1421 East Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
It’s fabulous. It’s tacky. It’s divalicious - and SFGN readers are huge fans of the drag shows at Lips Restaurant. Wildly entertaining, Lips offers diners unforgettable shows and great food under one roof. It’s no wonder why Lips dubs itself as the ultimate in drag dining. Because it is! Nightly outrageous shows occur here where the glamorous entertainers rock the stage and the attentive wait staff takes care of all the guests. Amid the colorful and sparkly décor, anyone looking for a reason to celebrate can do it here.
Got a birthday, engagement or divorce you want to celebrate? Head to Lips and you’ll feel as though you’re part of the show. The experience is known to be quite interactive as special birthday guests are invited to hop up on stage, for instance. Since Lips is a busy establishment, it is highly recommended to make a reservation about two weeks in advance. Parties of two or more are accepted. Walk-ins are always welcome to watch the show from the bar. Dinner is served nightly, and Sunday Dragalicious Gospel Brunch is a must-do. Call for show times.
Best LGBT Event
For the fourth year in a row, Wicked Manors has been crowned best LGBT event in Broward County, and an event open to all.
“It’s a great way to have everyone [gay and straight] to come together. It’s a great way for us to bring together the community in South Florida . . . [and to] raise awareness of The Pride Center,” Robert Boo, CEO of the Pride Center told SFGN in a previous interview .
Drawing between 20,000 and 30,000 costumed revelers to Wilton Drive in previous years, the charity event benefitting the Pride Center, has become one of the largest Halloween street festivals in the country.
In honor, or in horror of the election season, Wicked Manors’ theme for 2016 was “Political Nightmare – Scandals, Secrets & Sins.”
MC’d by SFGN’s four-time winner (2012-2015) for Best Drag Queen, Misty Eyez, and 97.3’s Miss Bryan and Kimmy B., Wicked Manors 2016 featured five costume contests with cash and prizes from the Seminole Hard Rock. The kids’ contest built up to award most unique, most sex appeal, best group, and best theme
With Halloween falling on a Monday this year, had a smaller crowd, (15,00 – 18,000) on the closed off Wilton Drive, but no less of a Wicked good time.
Proceeds from Wicked Manors help fund programs and services through the Pride Center at Equality Park, in Wilton Manors.