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

Best Bar: Hotel Gaythering

https://www.gaythering.com/

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gaythering

Photo via Facebook.

For the third year, The Hotel Gaythering won for “Best Bar/Club” in Miami. It combines a bar, an adults-only hotel, and a men’s sauna. Located at 1409 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, it’s “homey yet sexy, chic yet masculine.”

Its website describes the bar as “the gayest bar in Miami Beach with the most entertainment!” The Bar has theme nights. Monday features Karaoke. On Tuesday well drinks are $0.50 off. On Wednesday, the Gaythering Bar hosts a trivia game, and on Thursday, Bingo. On Friday, the bar hosts a Bears and Hares Party for “gay woodland creatures: Bears & Hares, Otters & Wolves, Pigs, and even Beavers.” Boogie Blast Saturdays dominate the weekend. The bar serves beer and cocktails.

The sauna is free for hotel guests. Non-guests can buy a day pass to enter.

Runner-up: R-House

– SMS

Best Pizza: Pizza Rustica

https://pizza-rustica.com/

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Rustica

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For the fifth year, Pizza Rustica won for Best Pizza in Miami-Dade. Pizza Rustica uses “fresh, seasonal organic produce, 100% natural chicken breast and assorted garden herbs.”

Both rectangular, Roman style pizzas and the traditional round pizzas are served by Pizza Rustica. They offer 35 types of pizzas as well as a “create your own” pizza. Besides whole pies, they sell individual pizza slices.

Pizza Rustica has three locations in Miami Dade. In Miami Beach, it is located at 863 Washington Ave. Another location is in Miami at 500 Brickell Ave. Its third location is at 18090 Collins Ave, T-8 Sunny Isles Beach. All three locations have vegetarian pizzas available, as well as salads and panini. They offer gluten-free pizza crusts. Pizza Rustica does not use trans fats.

Runner-up: R-House

– SMS

Best Artist/Musician: Jay Thomas

JayThomas

Photo via Facebook.

The uncertainty felt during the pandemic by musicians, performers, artists and those who work with them has been intense since early 2020. Miami singer-songwriter Jay Thomas moved through the often mundane and seemingly never-ending lockdown and quarantine of last year by recording and releasing an EP, “Concierta Quarantina,” out of his apartment.

“The pandemic changed me as a writer. Experiencing a global trauma opened up a network in my songwriting where I feel I am singing in purposeful communication,” Thomas said. “I’m gonna start letting these songs loose as 2022 begins.”

Thomas said Miami’s live music scene is coming back to life “in the most artistic and graceful way,” and that “multi-talented curator” David Sexton has led the charge.

Alongside his musical partner and boyfriend, Oscar Quesada, he is gearing up for a free live performance of his latest creation — “Butterfly Parade” — on March 17, 2022, at the North Beach Bandshell in Miami Beach.

In his signature self-deprecating humor he exclaims, “It’s St. Patrick’s Day with a real elf!” The album is sensual, colorful and lush – the way many of his fans would describe the Tori Amos-inspired Thomas himself.

With LGBT fans in Miami and across the country, the activist-minded Thomas said he’s grateful for SFGN readers voting him tops this year.

“Your sexuality or gender can never be spiritually compromised by any systems or dogmas. You are whole,” he said.

Connect at heyjaythomas.com or on social media @HeyJayThomas.

Runner-up: Robbie Elias

– DS

Best Politician: Daniella Levine Cava

DaniellaLevineCava

Photo via Facebook.

From raising the pride and progress flags outside Miami’s Stephen P. Clark Government Center for the first time, to openly proclaiming her pride in having a gay daughter, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava is known for her support of the LGBT community. Her administration is committed to inclusivity for all people, no matter their sexual orientation, identity, or gender.

 "I'm deeply grateful for this recognition from all your readers,” Cava said. “The LGBTQ+ community is very close to my family and to my heart, and together we've reached new milestones this year – creating Miami-Dade's first Office of Equity and Inclusion and flying the Pride flag over County Hall for the very first time. As Mayor, I'm committed to making sure our County is an even more welcoming, inclusive, tolerant place for all our residents and visitors, no matter whom they choose to love."

Runner-up: Michael Góngora (Commissioner, Miami Beach)

– DR

Best Bartender: Efrain R. at R House Wynwood

Efrain

Photo via Facebook.

Efrain R. at R House Wynwood has won Best Bartender in Miami.

His skills haven’t gone unnoticed. He received many compliments from customers on R House’s Facebook page. 

“The bartender Efrain brings it. If you want a carrot in your drink, he will put it there. Awesome happy hour deals,” wrote a reviewer.

When contacted by SFGN for comment he was shocked to have won. 

“What an amazing accomplishment it was to be nominated Best Bartender in Miami. But the fact that I won? I’m over the moon!” he said.

Efrain, 31, left his job of 8 years as an Operations Manager because “I was no longer happy doing what I loved.” That’s when he applied to work at R House Wynwood. He started off as a busser.  

“Within a year I moved up to a Food Runner and Barback. After the Pandemic in 2020, a few returned back to R House, me being one,” he said. “A Bartender was needed, so I was thrown behind the bar.”  

Rocco Carulli, owner and head chef of R House, taught him the basics on how to make drinks.  

“Fifteen months later I have learned a lot about this craft. I’m so passionate about it,” Efrain said.

Runner-up: Rome F. at The Gaythering

- KS

Best Activist and Drag Queen: Athena Dion

AthenaDion

Photo via Facebook.

For best activist and drag queen of Miami-Dade, the winner goes to Athene Dion, who also won Best Drag Queen in 2020. 

Dion is also known as the Greek Goddess. She would give makeup tutorials to young women at Jackson Burn Center before the pandemic. 

“Every queen loves an audience, and it’s even better when she knows her audience loves her back. I wouldn't be able to do what I love to do without the constant support of my hometown community!” Athena said. “As a queen sometimes you are put on a bigger platform than you ever imagined, and your voice and your actions are all of a sudden influencing and inspiring more people than you could have ever imagined. It’s important to remain mindful that this community got me to where I am, and I will fight to be the absolute best representative I can for them as well. I’m so grateful for this recognition. I’m so thankful for the love. I am inspired to continue to reach for the stars and make you all proud. We are in this together, because we are stronger together!” 

Runner-up Activist: Alex Guerra from Hotel Gaythering

Runner-up Drag Queen: Blamie Forret

- KS

Best Restaurant, Hidden Gem, Best Burger, Activity for Tourists, Business Owner, Reader’s Choice: Dessert: R House Wynwood

2727 NW 2nd Ave Miami 33127 

R House Wynwood

RHouse

Photo via Facebook.

R House Wynwood swept the awards this year with six wins including Best Restaurant, Best Hidden Gem, Best Burger, Best Activity for Tourists, Best Business Owner, and Reader’s Choice for Dessert. 

They won Best Restaurant, Kept Secret and Activity for Tourists in 2020. 

“With our weekend drag brunches, we have elevated drag entertainment by offering it alongside fine food and drink in an environment that is highly accessible to a diverse customer base both gay and straight,” said Rocco Carulli, the owner and executive chef of R House, in 2018. 

Their drag brunch is a huge hit with the customers. A study done by Nasty Gal highlighted the best drag brunches in the U.S., listing theirs as #6

“Very tasty food and drink and excellent show and a great service for the homeland of the staff I recommend it 100%,” a reviewer wrote on their Facebook page. 

Runner-up Restaurant: Santorini by Georgios 

Runner-up Hidden Gem: Hotel Gaythering 

Runner-up Burger: BurgerFI 

Runner-up Activity for Tourists: Haulover Beach 

Runner-up Business Owner: Alex Guerra (Hotel Gaythering)

- KS

Reader’s Choice Best Theatre: Villain Theatre

VillainTheater

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Established in 2015, this Chicago-style improv comedy theater is more than just a comedy club. Villain Theatre was established to create a common space to foster talent and build an art community in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood. An explosively energetic cast performs improvised movies and musicals and is home to Miami’s only improv team solely comprised of LGBT members.

Villain is the largest improv training center in Florida, boasting over 5,000 square feet of theatre space, classrooms, film studio and a company of over 60 homegrown professional improvisers. Villain also hosts a schedule of stand-up comedy shows and open mic nights. Whether you’re coming to watch a show, take a class or step onto the stage for an open mic night, Villain is a venue of good times at every turn.

Runner-up Colony Theatre:

The iconic Colony Theatre located on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach first opened in 1935 as a movie house for Paramount Pictures.

This art deco theatre has functioned as a movie house and live performance space for decades. Since 2016, nonprofit theater company Miami New Drama has been the resident theatre company of the Colony producing plays and musicals, while serving as an incubator for new theatrical works.

Winner of two Knight Arts Challenge Awards, the Colony continues to bring new innovative performances to its stage under the direction of Artistic Director Michel Hausmann. Theatre-goers experience world-class productions in a stunning art deco setting that was carefully restored to its historical grandeur, making it an impressive crown jewel of Miami Beach’s art deco collection.

– JP

Best Neighborhood: Wynwood

Wynwood

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The 50 square blocks west of Edgewater known as Wynwood is the epicenter of creativity, artistry and expression in Miami. Known for its vibrant street art collection anchored at Wynwood Walls, countless art galleries and a never-ending list of some of the most popular restaurants and bars in Miami, Wynwood has become a bustling neighborhood for Miamians of every age. There is an abundance of unique experiences to be had in this evolving neighborhood. Explore artsy shops, take in a nostalgic drive-in movie at Car Pool Cinema, or stop by R House for one of the City’s top Drag Brunches or enjoy one of the many bars and breweries scattered throughout the neighborhood. Wynwood continues to grow as one of the most sought-after neighborhoods to live work and play with the addition of office spaces, digital startups and Miami Arts Charter School for gifted artistic children. 

Runner-up: South Beach:

There is no more iconic destination than South Beach. The home to white sand beaches, scantily clad fun seekers and one of the most well-preserved collections of Art Deco architecture in America, South Beach remains a leading destination for locals and travelers alike. The world is truly at your fingertips in South Beach with world class dining, entertainment, and fun filled experiences available all year round. Known for legendary parties along Ocean Drive, late nights at Twist or Hotel Gaythering, South Beach is also an art destination serving as only one of three global host Cities of the famous Art Exhibition, Art Basel. The City comes alive every December as Art lovers descend on South Beach for a week of parties and exhibitions. The world is your oyster in this walkable sun soaked tropical paradise that has served as an LGBT gayborhood of choice for decades. 

- JP

Best Non-Profit / HIV/AIDS Non-profit / PrEP Clinic: Latinos Salud

LatinosSalud

Photo via Facebook.

HIV care was impacted in many areas during the pandemic, but that was not an option for Latino Salud. Not only did its doors stay open, but Latino Salud was also able to expand its services.

"HIV didn’t go into lockdown, so we felt strongly that we needed to find a way to stay safely open for service," said Stephen Fallon, Latinos Salud’s co-founding executive director. “Because we were the only agency in South Florida to remain entirely open for walk-in and appointment-based HIV testing and STD screening, 20% more community members came to us for services in 2020, and that trend has only continued, increasing by another 20% this year.”

Online reviews rave about the friendly, caring environment at Latino Salud.

“Taking care of your sexual health can be intimidating,” Fallon said. “We want to put you at ease, so you’ll always feel safe and secure here.”

Latino Salud focuses its promotion efforts on the Latino community because HIV rates have been rising among gay Latinos faster than any other group in South Florida. But you don’t have to speak Spanish or be Latino to access its free services.

“Our hearts are full, knowing that SFGN's readers recognized the efforts we’re making, and chose to give us a readers’ choice award for Best PrEP Clinic,” said Latinos Salud’s co-founder and Director of Health Programs, Rafaelé Narváez.

 “Last year, we were so honored to win an SFGN award for the first time, for Best Non-Profit and Best HIV-related non-profit in Broward County,” said Johnathan Medina, Latinos Salud’s Senior Health Program Manager. “Winning both again, and this time in Miami-Dade, too? We’re ecstatic!”

Find out more about Latino Salud at https://latinossalud.org/.

Runner-up: Pride Center

– DR

Check out the rest of the winners at SFGN's Best of 2021 Winners.


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