These winners were chosen by readers for SFGN's Best of Miami-Dade's Restaurant, Politician, and more.

 

Artist/Musician - Jane Castro

JaneCastro

Photo via Facebook.

Jane Castro is outspoken.

“Gay men live for that,” Castro said.

While not a gay man, Castro has many followers who are and fancies herself a gay ally. Also known as Jei, Castro has appeared in numerous entertainment productions, including a bossy turn on the VH1 reality show Tough Love.

“I’m Miami 305 all day, every day,” she said. “I am grateful for everything that I have accomplished in my life.”

Castro can turn on a tough persona, but underneath it all she cares, said friend Herb Sosa.

“To say anything about Jane Castro and her talent, one must start by her kindness and generosity,” said Sosa, Founder, President and CEO of Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida. “She has been a diehard ally of the LGBTQ community since before it was all the rage. Her smile is always radiant.”

“Who doesn’t love to dance to her voice and rhythms?” Sosa asked.

Castro describes her music as pop, dance and underground house.

“If you believe in what you do you can make it and all you gotta do is stay strong to survive,” she said.

Runner-Up: DROZE

– JMD

Best Bar - Twist  

1057 Washington Ave.  

Miami Beach 

TwistSoBe.com

Twist

Photo via Facebook.

With seven bars there’s something for everyone at Twist.

“I think that we are fortunate to have seven different rooms, indoors and out, all with different music,” said owner Joel Stedman. “This allows people to barhop all within the same club.” 

Like most bars Twist was forced to shut down in the early months of the pandemic. But like the old adage goes “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” Stedman used those six months to focus on remodeling.

“We spent a lot of time on cleaning and repairs,” he said. “Being open every day for 27 years had taken a toll.”

Now the bar is open, but with limited capacity.

“We take keeping our staff and guests safe very seriously. We only allow up to 30% of our normal occupancy. We require masks, unless drinking,” he said. “Our dance floors now have tables and we must close earlier.”

Even with the new rules and restrictions Stedman is delighted to see crowds again.

“We believe it is possible to be safe and still have a good time,” he said.

Twist is Miami’s oldest gay nightclub being around since 1993.

Runner-Up: Hotel Gaythering

– JEP

Best Bartender - Nathan S.  

1216 Washington Ave 

Miami Beach

NathanSmith

Photo via Facebook.

Nathan is a staple in gay nightlife in Miami having worked at Twist for 20 years. Over the summer though he decided to open up his own establishment: Nathan’s Video Bar.

“I am super surprised to win and I can’t thank the community enough. It means a lot. I am honored and grateful,” Nathan said. “I have worked in gay bars my entire life.”

Nathan is really excited about his venture.

“We are open 7 days a week from 6 p.m. till Midnight and we serve bits as well as drinks,” he said.

Nathan’s signature drink, as well as his favorite, is passion fruit mojito.

“Opening the bar right now has been a double-edged sword with the pandemic going on. You want to give people a safe place to go to be themselves but there is this new whole concern with keeping them healthy too,” he said. “So for the community to vote me as Best Bartender, it makes me feel like I doing things right by the community. And I made the right decision to open.”

Runner-Up: Rober L. at Club Space

–  JEP

Best Burger - BurgerFi  

Multiple Locations  

BurgerFI.com

BurgerFi

Photo via Facebook.

When you think of what makes a great burger, the taste is probably the most important element. BurgerFi’s fresh ingredients make its variety of burgers a hit with diners because of their great taste. The meat used is free of hormones, steroids, and chemicals.

BurgerFi also has vegan and vegetarian options. Heaping side dishes include french fries and onion rings that are out of this world. Any BurgerFi experience would not be complete without trying one of their delicious shakes or custards.

That combination makes it a go-to location for people who want fast food, but in a family-friendly environment. BurgerFi calls South Florida home. It originated in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea nearly nine years ago and now has more than 100 locations nationwide.

There are several BurgerFi locations throughout South Florida, visit their website to find the closest one to you.

Runner-Up: Cheeseburger Baby

– DR

Best Neighborhood - Wynwood in Miami

WynwoodcreditDanielDiPalma

Photo by Daniel Di Palma.

A new category for SFGN’s Best Of is the Neighborhood category.  This year’s winner is the home of colorful murals, great local craft breweries, and swanky restaurants – Wynwood!

Not long ago Wynwood was an industrial area full of somewhat dilapidated warehouses with accents of rust, free parking and open fields full of broken glass and litter.  Now it’s been transformed into the art district and trendiest place to be seen in Miami.   

The ever-evolving display of murals and graffiti by local artists that cover the walls, streets and sidewalks of Wynwood are screaming to be photographed.   

Dozens of new, trendy restaurants and bistros line Second Ave.  A great spot to check out is R House on the corner of 27th street and Second Ave, amazing drag performances happen every Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm, hosted by Athena Dion.   

Across the street from R House, you can find the famous Wynwood walls, an outdoor museum that exhibits murals created by international street artists.   

Runner-Up: South Beach, a perfect place to eat and catch up on people watching while you dine at Al Fresco. 

Known for its gorgeous beaches and glamorous nightscapes, a mixture of nostalgic Art Deco architecture, the hotels line Ocean Drive and are perfectly illuminated by the surrounding neon lights at night.  

– CM

Non-Profit & Event Must Come Back - Miami Beach Pride 

MiamiBeachPride.com

MiamiBeachPride

Photo via Facebook.

Before COVID hit, Miami Beach Pride was a huge event on the calendar, bringing spectators to the beach by the hundreds of thousands for celebrations of LGBT culture.

Recently Rich Walczak was hired as MBP’s new executive director. He arrives from Savannah, Georgia where he co-chaired Savannah Pride.

“I hope to build off this success and begin to include year-round programming for Pride with a focus on educating and helping our LGBTQ+ community, as well as teaching people on the outside looking in about the issues we deal with on a daily basis,” Walczak said in a press release.

In leading a nine-day event, Walczak will be responsible for managing sponsorships, planning festival layout, coordinating volunteers, developing year-round programming, launching educational initiatives and collaborating with the local queer to create safe spaces for expression.

“Walczak’s global background will also help Miami Beach Pride engage audiences worldwide,” said Bruce Horwich, MBP board of directors chairman. “Miami Beach is an international destination, and a large component of Miami Beach Pride’s attendees hail from different countries.”

Since its start in 2009, MBP has featured celebrity entertainers such as Gloria Estefan, Adam Lambert, Jordin Sparks, Bebe Rexha, Betty Who, Iggy Azalea, Elvis Duran, Gus Kenworthy, Ross Mathews and Mario Lopez. The last installment included a parade down Ocean Drive with more than 100 contingencies, bands, floats, cars and people.

Runner-Up: Winter Party 
 
– JMD

Best Pizza - Andiamo Pizza 

5600 Biscayne Blvd. Miami

Andiamo Pizza Miami

Andiamopizza

Photo via Facebook.

Located in Miami’s MiMo district of the upper east side, this anchor staple of the neighborhood has been serving their signature brick oven pizzas to mouth-watering applause for years. Housed in an iconic mid-century modern masterpiece of architecture by famed modernist architect, Robert Law Weed, this mostly outdoor pizzeria is one of the most unique dining venues in Miami.

In addition to some of the best pies you’ll ever drool over, Andiamo also shows sports games and movies on their giant projection screens. In a time of social distancing and outdoor dining, Andiamo is a solid go-to for a date night.

Runner-Up: Casola's Pizza takes the runner-up spot. This Boston born pizzeria is rooted in old fashioned traditional family recipes. After more than 15 years in business, Casola’s has now brought their famous pies to South Florida.

– JP

Best Politician - Michael Góngora  

Miami Beach City Commissioner

MichaelGongora

Photo via Facebook.

First elected in 2006, Góngora is in his third term on the Miami Beach City Commission. He holds the title as the first gay Hispanic elected to office in Florida. 

Góngora, 50, is a shareholder in the firm Becker & Poliakoff, where he specializes in community association litigation. On LGBT issues, Góngora has worked with organizations that provide support to people affected by cyberbullying, suicide and HIV.

“I am glad that LGBTQ issues are finally transcending politics and becoming human issues that all people care about,” Góngora said. “I am always open to hearing the voices and opinions of everyone and pride myself in passing legislation for the overall betterment of Miami Beach and all people.”

Góngora took swift action in the wake of a 2018 incident in which a gay couple was attacked and beaten during Pride festivities. Four men have been charged in the case and Góngora said they “need to be brought to justice.”

Overall, Góngora said he is pleased with the city’s level of safety, training and cultural competence in addressing the needs of the LGBT community.

“I credit this to the great leadership we have on the LGBTQ advisory committee,” Góngora said.

Góngora said he is grateful to continue serving Miami Beach after a recent bout with cancer.

“I believe I am on the road to recovery which will hopefully be confirmed in a few months when I go back for another scan,” he said. “This experience has taught me very much about people dealing with illnesses and problems and given me great compassion for them. It has made me a stronger person and I believe a stronger elected official.”

Runner-Up: Daniella Levine Cava

– JMD 

Best Restaurant, Best Kept Secret & Best Activity for Tourists - R House Wynwood  

2727 NW 2nd Ave. 
Miami 
RhouseWynwood.com

RHouseWynwood

Photo via Facebook.

R House is a vibrant anchor of the Wynwood arts district. The restaurant took the top prize this year for Best Restaurant, Best Kept Secret and its drag brunch won for  Best Activity for Tourists.

This diverse Miami local favorite is a joyous space filled with music, food, unique local art and a cast of A-List Drag Performers.

Featuring local art, the best DJs in the City, one of the best drag shows in the city and a robust new Latin-inspired menu; this neighborhood hot spot also holds its own in a city packed with great food.

Chef/Owner Rocco Carulli worked with a team of talented chefs from all over Latin America to bring bold flavors made with the freshest natural ingredients to this incredible space.

Behind the Bar, a mixology program has elevated the craft cocktail offerings to meet the newly envisioned menu. R House shifted gears into the new normal reconfiguring the space for social distancing to ensure you can enjoy a great meal and entertainment safely.

This culinary experience takes you on a journey that is as representative of its address as it is the creator behind it.

This low key unpretentious favorite, is a great place to enjoy the outdoor patio after an afternoon of walking through one of Miami’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Whether you’re planning your next birthday celebration with your besties, or looking for a chill spot to post up for happy hour, R House delivers a great time at an affordable price with great service.

The R House Drag Brunch is the stop for every tourist to experience. This all-inclusive Drag experience includes all you can drink and eat with a side of socially-distanced, but nevertheless electrifying drag performances by some of the biggest names in Drag.

Runner-Up: Meanwhile Runner-up for Best Restaurant is Palace Bar and Restaurant, one of the most well-known stops for anyone visiting Miami Beach’s legendary Ocean Drive featuring an iconic drag spectacular that has attracted a global audience and secured its place as a staple of Ocean Drive entertainment for more than three decades. The runner-up in the Best Kept Secret category goes to Hotel Gaythering, an off the beaten path delight for travelers looking for a vintage MIMO inspired hotel that provides travelers with a local perspective and welcoming atmosphere. And lastly runner-up for Best Activity for Tourists is a visit to Haulover Beach, located midway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The destination is a world-renowned clothing optional Beach, which has ranked continuously as one of the top ten nude beaches in the world.

– JP


To view the other winners, visit SFGN's Best of 2020 Winners page.


BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS