Best Of 2013

  • Best Business Group (TIE)

    Gay & Lesbian Business Exchange (GLBX) & Mack Multimedia

    512 NE 3rd Avenue Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
    954-462-6000 ext. 8789

    It’s the second consecutive win for GLBX. The group originated as the Gay and Lesbian Business Exchange and formally became a council of the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce in 2010. The mission of the GLBX is to promote business and economic opportunities for the LGBT and LGBT-friendly community. “As the fastest growing Council of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, we stand committed to growing businesses and supporting the community and our LGBT allies. We believe in the growth of the Fort Lauderdale business community that supports LGBT business and equality. Look for bigger and more robust programming for 2014!” Chad Thilborger GLBX Board Chair. To join the GLBX and the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce call Rene Cantu Business Development Executive 954-462-6000 ext. 8789. This year, GLBX shares this honor with MACK Multimedia. MACK co-founder Dan Oropesa says it’s an honor to be recognized with GLBX. “It’s humbling for both DJ and myself. We don’t take it for granted being popular and hope that we make the most – and that our members GET the most - out of our events each month.”

    – DR

    Best Brunch & Best Burger

    2449 Wilton Drive

    Rosie’s Sunday Brunch is definitely the place you take your friend from out of town.

    This is the place where you can brag about living in South Florida with cool tropical breezes blowing across a lush outside patio. Good looking people, gay and straight, mingling inside at the bar as a DJ mixes music with new arrivals pulling up to the valet parking in freshly washed sports cars. Simply put, if in Wilton Manors, Rosie’s brunch is not to be missed.

    As luck would have it this reporter stumbled across the owner of Rosie’s, John Zieba, during Sunday brunch as the crowds began to gather outside his popular Wilton Drive locale.

    “It’s our fastest growing day,” Zieba said. “We get such a diverse crowd here and everyone is enjoying themselves. I’m really glad we have been able to achieve this.”

    Known for excellent servers who wear T-shirts with funny sayings like, “Watch your facial expressions, I can read Botox,” Rosie’s has a deep menu featuring waffles, pancakes, omelets, wraps, burgers and salads. This reporter opted for the Southern Lovin’ Salad (fried chicken, pecans, bacon bits, cheddar cheese, tomatoes and honey mustard dressing.)  Big enough for two.

    Rosie’s has been a Wilton Manors staple for seven years now.

    – JMD

    Best Burger

    Brunch? Check. Happy Hour? Check. What else could Rosie’s be? With nearly two dozen varieties, they now stand as the Best Burger as voted by SFGN readers.

    Manager John Zieba knows Rosie’s burgers are top-notch. They swept Riverwalk’s Fourth Burger Battle this past May, winning Best Burger and Fan Favorite for their Bacon Bitty Bang Bang Burger – bacon-bourbon jam with roasted tomatoes, kettle-cooked chips, garlic aioli and brie. You can still order the award-winning burger anytime you visit the restaurant.

    The variation of burgers range from healthier garden burgers to cheat-day kinds, like the Georgia Bleu – a burger stuffed with Georgia pecans, crumbled bleu cheese, and fried onions. Or try the Carrie B. Anne – a burger seasoned with Rosie’s Caribbean Jerk seasoning and topped with pepper jack cheese and grilled pineapple mango salsa. No matter your mood or your motive, there is a burger for you at Rosie’s.

    – DZ

    Best Coffee Shop

    Java Boys
    2230 Wilton Dr.
    Wilton Manors

    In an age where there’s a Starbucks on almost every corner, the “down home” feel of old fashioned coffee shops is something that has clearly waned with the rise of corporate coffee “dispensaries.”

    While boutique shops, non-franchised restaurants and self owned and operated businesses cater to the myriad of tastes of the Wilton Manors population, even the coffee house scene is far more than just a quick, highly informal stop at Starbucks. Whether a resident, a visitor or a casual passer-by looking for a comfortable place to sit, grab some coffee and have a home-made pastry or sandwich, there’s one place that’s a must: Java Boys.

    More than just a coffee shop, Java Boys has made a name for itself not just for its superb coffee (and tea), but for its warm and inviting atmosphere.

    Baked goods are always fresh and easily trump the pre-made generic pastries of corporate coffee shops. The food is also both tasty and affordable. For $3.25 there’s the Java Boys’ signature “Java Scrambler” – Canadian Bacon on a bagel, croissant or English muffin. For a little more, enjoy a sandwich or a chicken Caesar salad from their handwritten chalkboard menu. And did we mention they also offer free Wi-Fi?

    Hours: 7 11 p.m. (S-R) Fri/Sat: 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.

    – MA 

    Best Dessert

    2505 Northeast 15th Avenue
    Wilton Manors

    Do you have a sweet tooth? Most of us do and in South Florida, Stork’s is the place to go to satisfy those cravings. The bakery/café in Wilton Manors, named after the bird that delivers babies, has been voted best desserts by readers of the South Florida Gay News.

    “It’s an honor to be recognized by the community,” said Stork’s pastry chef Peter Dekaj.

    Cakes, pies, cookies and mini pastries are all on display the minute one walks in the door. Dekaj is especially proud of his Flawless Chocolate Decadence Cake, a rich homemade dessert that is also gluten-free.

    Stork’s has been around since 1997 and its location at 2505 Northeast 15th Avenue has made the bakery/café a destination for those seeking a quiet afternoon get-together with friends.

    For the holiday season the kitchen crew at Stork’s was busy preparing a wide range of pies from pumpkin, apple crumb and key lime to the house favorite – Storkberry, a mix of five berries.

    Business has been so good, Dekaj said Stork’s will soon open a second location in Oakland Park.

    – JMD

    Best Diner

    Peter Pan
    1216 E Oakland Park Blvd
    Fort Lauderdale

    After a night of drinking and/or debauchery, finding a place to soak up the liquor and bad decisions isn’t hard if you know where to look. That’s where Peter Pan comes in.

    A Fort Lauderdale legend, SFGN readers know the best diner when they see one: this is the second year in a row Peter Pan Diner has won this category. But if you’re not stumbling in after a night of drinking, you can still show up for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The diner is open 24 hours a day.

    Family-owned and operated since 1979, Peter Pan serves up breakfast favorites like eggs benedict or old fashioned French toast. But simple meals like two fresh eggs with ham, bacon, or sausage can make both your wallet and your belly happy: the meal costs less than $6.

    Enjoy house specialties like Chicken Francaise or Shrimp Santoni. Classic diner favorites like meatloaf, burgers, and house-made baked goods are also available. Whether you’re starting your day or ending it, Peter Pan should be included in it somehow.

    – DZ

    Best Drag Queen in Broward County

    Misty Eyez

    Our beloved drag queen we flock to at Bill’s Filling Station, Lips and Boardwalk may never have been. Always involved in theater, she was known for her makeup and hair skills. Her friend finally convinced her to dress in drag one Halloween, and from then she was hooked.

    “I couldn't believe how pretty I was!” she laughed.

    Now, she performs almost every night and she competed on RuPaul’s Drag Stars at Sea in December. But what we love about her most is her big heart -- growing up with a minister as a father, her love of donating her time to charity and giving back to the community makes us swoon, whether it be for cancer or AIDS.

    “Anytime somebody needs help, I’m there to help and I’m there to lend a hand if I can,” she said.

    – CL

    Best Drag Show

    1421 E. Oakland Park Blvd.
    Oakland Park, FL

    Lips serves up the best in drag and some pretty darn good food, too. The ultimate destination for drag dining for nearly a decade, Lips is popular with both South Florida’s gay and straight communities, hosting everything from birthday to bachelorette parties. On Tuesdays, Lady LaRouge hosts the Dragalicious Game Show and trust us, she’s no Bob Barker, but the price IS right! The mean and bitter Misty Eyez hosts Bitchy Bingo on Wednesdays and Thursdays, patrons get to dine with Cher, Madonna, Dianna Ross, Bette Midler and more. Friday and Saturday nights are among the most popular, and you can expect plenty of big hair, the highest heels and lots of duct tape—that’s how they make the magic happen, but don’t let that secret out. And, of course, on Sundays, Lips is packed for the Drag Gospel Brunch. Hostess Nicolette and her girls promise to have you screaming, “Sweet Jesus!” before the show is over. Now, that’s the way to find a little religion.

    – JWA

    Best Neighborhood Bar, Best Place to Pick up a Guy, Best Happy Hour

    Village PubVillage Pub
    2283 Wilton Drive
    Wilton Manors, FL 33305


    AlibiAlibi (tied for best happy hour)
    2266 Wilton Dr.
    Wilton Manors, FL 33305

    For the 2012 SFGN Best Of’s, the Village Pub won all three of these categories just weeks after opening their doors. A year later, the votes are in: people still love the pub.

    “It’s a nice, friendly atmosphere,” Owner Jim Kessinger said about the pub. “There’s a comradery that customers have with bartenders and other customers.”

    The Village Pub opened up in October 2012 and doesn’t serve any food, although they offer menus from local restaurants like New York Grilled Cheese Company and Humpy’s Pizza for guests who want a bite. Restaurants will deliver orders straight to the pub.

    While the foodless bar offers drink specials every night of the week, Kessinger said end-of-the-month “menergy” events – where 150-200 guys show up to mingle – is a great time to meet a guy. Stop by; it’s always the last Sunday of every month.

    This year, Village Pub got some competition in the Best Happy Hour category when they tied with the iconic Wilton Manors bar Alibi. Kessinger agrees their happy hour is great, but probably because he used to work there.

    “My brother [Georgie] started Alibi many years ago,” he said. “I eventually wanted to go into business by myself. We had our own ideas and this is what we came up with and it’s worked well so far.”

    Indeed it has, Jim. We’ll drink to that.

    – DZ

    Best Live Theater

    The Broward Center for the Performing Arts
    201 SW 5th Ave.
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312

    With more than 700 theater productions, concerts, dance and other performances all year round, attended by more than 700,000 people, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts is undoubtedly the premiere arts venue in South Florida. The center’s Broadway Across America series brings the hottest shows from the Great White Way, including The Book of Mormon and Wicked, to the region, but also hosts local performing arts organizations, including the Symphony of the Americas, South Florida Symphony, Miami City Ballet, Arts Ballet Theatre of South Florida and Florida Grand Opera, as well as the annual Pride Series, performances geared to Broward County’s sizeable gay theater audience.

    The center is in the last phase of a two year, $44 million dollar renovation and expansion project, the Encore! Campaign, that has seen the center’s technical infrastructure upgraded, new lounges and educational facilities and a new riverfront pavilion that is currently under construction and will offer dining and event spaces. Truly, the Broward Center is a place that inspires both on stage and off.

    – JWA

    Best Non-Profit

    The Pride Center
    2040 N. Dixie Hwy.
    Wilton Manors, FL 33304

    The community may take to the streets in Wilton Manors and Fort Lauderdale to celebrate Pride twice a year, but every day is a virtual pride celebration at The Pride Center. The mission of The Pride Center at Equality Park, a six-acre campus just off Dixie Highway in Wilton Manors, is self-explanatory: We provide a welcoming, safe space — an inclusive home that celebrates, nurtures and empowers the LGBTQ communities and our friends and neighbors in South Florida. For more than 19 years, The Pride Center, with a professional staff of 20, fulfills this mission with a variety of important programs for the community, including HIV/AIDS testing and education, support for seniors, women and youth, and educational, spirituality and well-being programs. The center hosts 60 groups each month for networking, senior exercise classes, square dancing, adult education classes and more. The LGBTQ community is extremely diverse, the staff will tell you, but The Pride Center strives to serve as a place to bridge those differences and strengthen the community.

    Best Place to Pick up Girls

    New Moon
    2440 Wilton Drive
    Wilton Manors

    “All the single ladies, now put your hands up!” New Moon does it yet again, winning “Best Place to Pick Up a Girl” in SFGN’s survey for the second year. It’s no surprise. Carol Moran supplies a great party atmosphere in a clean, cozy space with indoor and outdoor bars, and friendly staff. Happy Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. Sundays are “Fun Days” with $12 domestic, and $20 import beer buckets. Impress her by singing her a song during karaoke on Thursday nights, or jam to the hottest tracks with the DJ on Friday nights. Saturdays are always something, from live bands to DJs, check their web site for their weekly event schedules. There’s something for all the ladies in town.

    ­– DJ

    Best Place to Shop in Broward County

    The Outlet
    2031 Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors

    A winner for the third year in a row, Jon Anthony’s men’s contemporary clothing store is a hit with shoppers looking for great fashions at low prices. This includes popular brands True Republic, Buchelli and Bespoke flying off the shelves.

    “We really try to extend value,” Anthony said.

    With people less consumed with brand names due to the economy, Anthony shifted his business when he opened the store six years ago to a place where the fashionable could good quality clothes at great prices. Set up like a mini department store, guests can purchase an entire outfit, from the sunglasses down to the shoes.

    In August Anthony opened up Town Clothiers down the street as a sort of satellite shop. 

    The Outlet is open every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

    – CL

    Best Gay Social Event in Broward County

    Wicked Manors

    Revelers have taken to Wilton Drive every year for Halloween since 2007 in one form or another, and according to our readers, it’s the event of the year.

    “Halloween is a gay holiday,” said Robert Boo, Pride Center CEO. “It looked like it was 50 percent gay and 50 percent straight allies and there were a lot of families. I truly enjoyed seeing that it was a community-wide event.”

    The center partnered with the city of Wilton Manors to throw the bash, drawing 18,000 people attending this year onto the closed off streets. Earlier in the evenings, kids participated in a costume contest and went from business to business trick or treating. Then, DJs took to the official event stage -- as well as those set up by bars -- to get the crowd moving all night long. Drag queens roamed the streets, costumed ghouls and hotties participated in contests, and drinks were a’ flowing.

    Since Halloween landed on a Thursday, Wicked Manors had to end early on the drive due to weekday noise ordinances. However, the next two years the holiday is on a Friday and a Saturday – party time!

    Best Social Network for Women

    Women in Network
    954-463-9005 x641

    Women in Network has been around since 1987 providing a professional, social, educational and philanthropic outlet for the LBT women of South Florida. WIN is provides professional and business networking opportunities, social and recreational events, advocacy efforts, health and educational programs, and philanthropic and scholarship support.

    According to WIN President Denise Spivak, “We’re honored any time that we’re recognized for providing a service to our community. It means that the work that we do, the programs that we provide and the effort put forth by a very dedicated Board of Directors is important to our community in South Florida, that we’re making a difference and we can’t ask for a better honor than that!”

    – DR

    Best Spiritual Center

    Sunshine Cathedral
    1480 SW Ninth Ave. in Fort Lauderdale

    Founded 41 years ago as a part of the global LGBT spiritual movement, today this church located off of Davie Boulevard is now a welcome refuge for Jews, Christians, and even atheists of every sexual orientation.

    “We recognize the innate, sacred being of every person,” the Rev. Durrell Watkins said.

    Watkins and his partner run services every Sunday, drawing up to 1,000 people a week during the holidays. What really sets this church apart is working beyond just Sunday to reach out to the community. With a focus on the arts, the campus is often a venue for cabaret concerts, drag shows, films, and picnics. Plus, with SunServe right next door, LGBT people young and old have a place to attend educational and supportive programming.

    Sunday services 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

    Best TakeOut

    2603 N Dixie Hwy (5-Points)
    Wilton Manors

    Only open for a little over two years, Chopstix wins your vote again for the second year in a row for the best take-out food. Open seven days a week, many described this place as very clean and inexpensive. Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., you can order from over 30 lunch items at only $5.95. You get a can of soda and either white or fried rice with your order. It’s a large enough portion to get you through the afternoon. My personal favorites include the sesame chicken lunch, awesome pan-fried dumplings, and the teriyaki beef appetizer. Most items on the menu are around $8-10, “dinner platter combinations” with egg roll and pork fried rice go for only $8, and house specialty dishes run at around $14. They even will do party trays for that emergency party need! Just order ahead for quick and easy pickup.

    – DJ

    Best Tea Dance

    Boom (Soon to be Hunter’s)
    2232 Wilton Dr.
    Wilton Manors, FL 33305
    Shoppes of Wilton Manors

    More than just a club or bar, Boom – which has been sold and becomes Hunter’s as of Dec. 23 – is a staple, by all accounts, of Wilton Manors nightlife.

    The bar hosts special events, themed parties nearly everyday of the week, and sports a crowd that’s mixed in age. There’s two levels of partying, three bars and a separate video bar.

    Bottom line: Boom/Hunter’s is almost always packed — from twinks to average Joe’s to bears in leather, there’s hardly anything one won’t find at Boom on any given evening.

    But it’s their Sunday festivities that really make this place stand out from the rest of the crowd. Hosting around 250 people at any given time, Sunday night’s “Jackhammer Tea Dance” is one of the most popular weekly parties, featuring retro and retro revived disco music and runs from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

    Happy hours are from 4-9 p.m. seven days a week. Hours are Monday through Friday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday’s 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Sundays noon to 2 a.m.


    Best Bathhouse

    Club Fort Lauderdale
    110 NW 5th Ave.
    Fort Lauderdale

    For the third year in a row, Club Fort Lauderdale has won for the best bathhouse, but manager David McKeel says we shouldn’t call the Club a bathhouse but rather an American Sauna with the look and feel of an upscale resort, offering “high class sleaze.”

    The Club features a beautiful designed Mediterranean-style pool / whirlpool area and state of the art gym, as well as a sauna, an arcade room, a steam room maze, and three private fetish theme rooms. A gym workout can pump up the muscles for maximum display prior to hitting the halls or the steam room. For guys needing a break from the action, the Club offers a chill lounge with regular television programming.

    The Club plans a major renovation next year, going even more upscale with LED lighting throughout the Club, black granite bath rooms, and redesigned saunas/steam room. Some construction will begin in January but major construction will only begin after the tourist season ends. The Club will remain open during construction, which promises to be very interesting, particularly for those of us with fantasies about construction worker.

    Best Beach

    Sebastian Beach
    Corner of A1A and Sebastian St.
    Fort Lauderdale Beach

    Just about any day of the year, you can drive along A1A on Fort Lauderdale and get an eyeful of bikini- and board short-clad visitors sunbathing, frolicking in the ocean surf or strolling the sidewalk. But, when you arrive at Sebastian Beach, make no mistake, that’s “where the boys are,” to borrow a phrase from the classic spring break movie that was filmed right here in Fort Lauderdale. Even during the low season when the rest of the beach is practically deserted, you’re likely to see plenty of bronzed men in Speedos socializing and swimming the afternoons away.

    The perennial runner-up is again Haulover Beach, located in Sunny Isles in Miami-Dade County, just a short drive south. The park is especially popular for its largely gay, clothing optional section at the north end of the beach. Little is left to the imagination, but be sure to pack some sunglasses because the sun can be bright, especially when reflecting on the plethora of body piercings. Oh, and you might want to bring a little sunscreen, too.

    Best City to Live

    Wilton Manors

    Welcome to the Gayborhood! Yes, the Island City, incorporated in 1947, is again among the gayest places in America, attracting one of the highest concentrations per capita of LGBT singles and families, according to recent data. Take a drive along Wilton Drive, the city’s Arts and Entertainment District, and you’ll see a vibrant community: rainbow flags flying everywhere, same sex couples strolling hand-in-hand, bars and restaurants teeming with residents and visitors alike. Especially over the past couple of years, the Drive has seen a renaissance with new restaurants and clubs and more set to open in coming weeks. But, beyond the nightlife, Wilton Manors offers a livable city, with well kept parks and an active parks and recreation department, responsive civic leaders, engaged civic groups like the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, churches, and home to the Pride Center and charitable organizations including Poverello, Kids in Distress, Latinos Salud, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Broward House.

    Best Guest House

    The Royal Palms Resort & Spa
    717 Breakers Avenue
    Fort Lauderdale

    The Royal Palms has won the vote for the best guest house in every year for the last three years. Manager Philip LaFond attributes this success to its ethic of customer satisfaction, with staff going out of their way to make people feel like family and to create “love and happiness.”

    For visitors, the rooms are stunning. Splashes of bright colors stand out from the black and white minimalist rooms. Denis Dean’s artwork hangs on the walls. All events and rooms are open to women as well as to men.

    In addition to its great qualities as a guest house, the Royal Palms has much to offer local residents: a gym, WI-FI, a full liquor bar, two heated pools, and a restaurant. Every Sunday afternoon, the Royal Palms holds a tea dance. It has also hosted special events such as glow parties and an erotic art show. Locals pay no cover charge for all of this. The Royal Palms is not just a guest house; it’s for local residents too.

    Best Gym (tie)

    Steel Gym
    2270 Wilton Drive

    Tucked away off Wilton Drive in a shopping center known for its nightlife is where you’ll find Steel Gym, voted best gym by readers of the South Florida Gay News.

    Dubbed the only, “real gym” in Fort Lauderdale, Steel Gym does have real people working out and exercising all day. According to trainer Wolf Carver, 60 to 70 people come to the gym daily, many who are enrolled in the “Silver Sneakers” program. The program is designed to help seniors with basic cardio and flexibility exercises in a classroom setting.

    For those wanting to go it alone, Steel Gym offers free weights, machines and a dry sauna. A variety of Yoga classes are also offered and once your workout is complete, a protein packed smoothie bar awaits for those seeking to add weight and body mass.

    The Wilton Manors Steel Gym is one of just three in the nation with the others being in New York and Miami.

    Steel Gym is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

    – JMD

    Best Movie Theater

    Classic Gateway Theatre
    1820 Sunrise Blvd.
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

    The golden age of the silver screen lives on at Fort Lauderdale’s Classic Gateway Theatre. For more than 60 years, the cinema has offered Hollywood blockbusters, along with indie classics and LGBT features. It was here that Fort Lauderdale first captured the imagination of a generation of young co-eds with the glitzy world premiere of Where the Boys Are, starring Connie Francis. Hollywood producer Arthur Friedman took over operation of the Gateway two years ago and has been working diligently to restore the movie house to its former glory, showcasing classic movie posters in the lobby and launching a wildly successful classic film festival held each year in August and September. The Gateway also is the home to the growing Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

    “Through the years, watching thousands of movies, I have learned that the movie theater experience cannot be duplicated on television, video or any other new technology," Friedman explained.  “There’s something about being in a theater with an audience, watching a great movie, that is unique and spellbinding.”

    Best Nightclub

    The Manor
    2345 Wilton Drive
    Wilton Manors

    Jason Tamanini says he runs the largest nightclub in the State of Florida. And who’s to argue.

    On a recent Saturday night visit to The Manor, hundreds of people filled the multilevel complex, dancing to electronic music, catching up with friends over drinks at one of the many bars or just sitting back and looking at all the gorgeous people stroll by. The Manor, Tamanini says, is very popular with tourists who come from all over the world just to experience a night inside the stately club.

    This is the third consecutive year readers of the South Florida Gay News have voted The Manor best nightclub. With five different rooms and theme nights to appeal to every taste, it’s easy to see why The Manor has such a loyal following.

    “We’re bringing international flair to Florida,” said Tamanini.

    The main dance room certainly lives up to the club’s name with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, large framed paintings on the walls and pretty faces behind the bar. It all creates an atmosphere of sophistication and, above all, fun. Valet service is also available.

    – JMD

    Best Pizza

    Humpys Pizza
    2244 Wilton Drive
    Wilton Manors, FL 33305

    No other business in any other category got as many votes as Humpys Pizza did in this one. If there is one thing SFGN readers know, it’s how much they really like pizza.

    Maybe it’s the BBQ chicken you love. Maybe it’s the Margherita or BLT slices you drool over. Maybe it’s the house-made cupcakes, baked fresh daily, that you indulge in after your slice. Maybe it’s all of this and more that makes Humpys the best pizza in town.

    “We strive for good food and good customer service in a friendly, fun atmosphere,” said Steve Dejong, owner of Humpys. “We are pretty involved in the community and try to support different groups and organizations,” he said. “Even though we are a small business, we try to be as involved as we can.”

    This is the third year in a row they have won in this category, and how could they not? With a dozen different pizza options served up daily, along with salads, heroes, and house-made cupcakes, you’d be hard-pressed to leave hungry.

    With this high-quality level of convenience, friendly staff and amazing pizza, this 3-year winning streak sounds like only the beginning.

    – DZ

    Best Restaurant & Best Restaurant to Bring a Date

    J. Marks, Ft. Lauderdale

    A repeat winner in numerous years, this subtle, elegant and shape shifting local restaurant fuses innumerable contemporary yet complicated dishes with earthy décor and an heir of panache that somehow manages to lack in pretention and still maintain its affordability.

    Putting it simply: We think it’s great.

    But to be even more blunt: J. Mark’s of Ft. Lauderdale is a legend in the making! Our voters agree, and with continuing dedication to gastronomic excellence, an indelibly impressionable ambiance, and an atmosphere accommodating of any occasion, J. Mark’s is the winner of SFGN’s "Best Restaurant" and "Best Restaurant To Take a Date" categories.

    Never mind that J. Marks is under proud gay ownership and has its fair supply of gay and lesbian wait staff.

    "We like to support the community," Manager Michael Hobbs said.  "We have a little bit of something for everyone: we strive for excellent service, have a wide variety on our menu, and have a friendly environment."

    It also boasts not one, but two, daily happy hours (2 to 6 and 9 to close) to keep everyone loose.

    Ultimately, though, it comes down to one thing – the food.

    Start off with uniquely spun traditional appetizers like Parmesan spinach dip with artichoke hearts, or grilled, Jamaican style chicken wings, and choose what best suits you.  

    From the signature J.Mark's Tender Salad to a 12 ounce aged prime rib steak to crab cakes and loads of specialty burgers, chicken or pasta dishes – they have it all. Your biggest problem will likely be choosing what to eat, especially because every dish has some kind of special twist.

    Even the interior is striking: subtle warm white lighting flanked by contemporary rectangular, satin-like overlays hang from the ceilings while silhouettes form around each oak planked interior booth. Dark red and brown paints accented by dark rock inspired brick inlays cover the higher walls and in all, J.Marks maintains an ambiance of class suitable for any occasion without bordering on "stuffy."  Booth lighting is just enough to ensure the eyes of your date sparkle with just enough spotlighting to help them shine with radiance.   

    SFGN's Bottom Line: 

    J. Marks wows in an all-encompassing manner. From food to atmosphere, take a step in and we’re certain you’ll be hooked! As a dining experience it immediately nudges itself in to the category of an artistically nuanced experience in and of itself.  From refined, earthy decor to snap-of-the-finger service by waiters and waitresses in button down white dress shirts, J.Mark's ensures comfort on all levels. And, again, the FOOD!  

    Opulent and exotic yet created for you on an almost individual silver platter, it's cuisine that far transcends simple yet will satisfy even the most picky of diners based on variety.

    We couldn’t recommend it more…nor could our readers!

    – MA

    Best Social Network (Broward)

    Mack Multi Media

    MACK is a business networking group aimed at connecting gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and gay friendly professionals designed to provide an easy way for our members to network with each other. With sold-out lunch events and fun - yet professional, cocktail socials in Fort Lauderdale and the Boca Raton/Delray Beach area, there’s no doubt MACK continues to redesign how business people create new relationships and establish friendships - regardless of sexuality. MACK won this honor last year as well. “MACK has been consistent with our following, our quality of venues, and fun atmosphere for almost 9 years.  We look forward to reaching out 10-year milestone soon!” Dan Oropesa, Co-Founder, Mack Multimedia.

    – DR

  • 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 whilespeaking Spanish? That’s a check too.

    Indeed, as Hank Azaria’s character from the Birdcageput 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.

    – JMD

  • Best Neighborhood Bar and Best Drag Show (Palm Beach County)

    823 Belvedere Road
    West Palm Beach, Florida 33405

    Friendly. Intimate. Cozy.

    It’s a no brainer residents of Palm Beach County would choose Roosters as Best Neighborhood Bar. It’s been around since 1984, frequently hosts community events, and this year their Making Strides Against Breast Cancer raised the most money of any team.

    "Roosters recognizes and celebrates the diversity in our community. You should feel comfortable visiting us as you are. Everyone is always welcome at Roosters,” said David Hazen, a manager at the bar. While Artie Vale, another bar manager added "I think that the welcoming and friendly attitude of the staff at Roosters is what makes the difference.”

    This year the bar also took home the Best Drag Show award as well.

    "The talents of our entertainers are incomparable,” Vale said. “Entertainment Director Melissa St. John brings together the best performers in South Florida. Daizee Deluxx, Valerie Dior and our many other stars make our show nights spectacular.”

    Hours of operation are Monday to Thursday 3 p.m. – 3 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. to 4 a.m. and Sundays Noon – 3 a.m.

    Best Burger (Tie)

    SFGN readers had a hard time choosing a Best Burger in Palm Beach County — instead it ended up being a four-way tie. There’s Grease and Relish in West Palm Beach and Shula Burger and BurgerFi in Delray Beach. Each burger joint is distinctive in it’s own way. Make sure to try them all and vote in next year’s contest.

    213 Clematis Street
    West Palm Beach

    With a name like Grease you know what to expect — a messy, but oh so good and filling, piece of meat.

    “The southern burger was fantastic. Juicy and cooked perfectly with crispy bacon, jack cheese and sweet BBQ sauce. The Ron Burgundy burger was awesome too per my friend,” one person on Yelp said. While another person commented “This is one of the best burger places I have been. Unique burger creations and the burger itself is spectacular.”

    401 Northwood Road
    West Palm Beach

    This burger joints claim to fame is their relishes — there are more than 20 varieties to choose from. Don’t like relish, no worries, not all of them are real ‘relishes’ so they’ve got something for everyone like Tangy Tzatzki, Velvety Horseradish, and Sour Pickle Chutney. But even sauces and relishes aren’t your thing the variety of burgers alone make this a must visit burger joint. Their burgers aren’t just made from beef, they’ve wild boar, duck, (real) buffalo, lamb, Italian sausage, white meat turkey, tilapia, veal, shrimp and homemade black bean.

    “Not only are the burgers out of this world fantastic but they offer vegetarian items as well as build your own salads in case you are health conscious,” said one person on Yelp. Another person commented “The food is always well prepared and would satisfy any gastro-connoisseur.”

    Delray Marketplace
    14917 Lyons Rd
    Delray Beach, FL 33446

    This restaurant’s claim to fame is its namesake — Don Shula. Don’t know who that is? Yea we figure more than a few readers won’t know. He was the coach of the Miami Dolphins, a team he led to two Super Bowl victories, and to the NFL’s only perfect season.

    “Excellent burger and shakes,” one person said on Yelp.? “I rate the quality of the burger as one of the best in the area and the bacon is especially good. I had the BBQ version and the sauce was very good. I am glad that the restaurant is a classy hamburger restaurant and they did not overdo the football memorabilia.”

    6 South Ocean Blvd
    Delray Beach, FL 33483

    Located across the street from Delray Beach the location couldn’t be better. After laying in the sun or swimming in the ocean beach goers will find that this burger joint will hit just the spot.

    “If you are ever craving a burger, fries, an a shake you need to come here!” one person said on Yelp. “The burgers are awesome and you can order pretty much whatever you want on them. The fries are super good and you can dress them up with Parmesan cheese, garlic-mayo sauce, or spicy, or just plain amazing!” Another person said “Their burgers are fresh AND healthy (grass-fed beef is known to LOWER your cholesterol).  The options of toppings are fantastic, hey anyone who offers aoili has an advantage right out of the starting gate.”

    Best City (Palm Beach County)

    Lake Worth

    While it may be many years before Lake Worth is known nationally as a hot spot for gays, it’s easily the most gay friendly city in the county. It currently hosts Compass, the gay and lesbian center of the Palm Beaches, Lambda North, a gay 12-step recovery clubhouse, Studio 205, the only gay themed retail store in the county, Zoo Health Club, a gay owned gym, and was the first city in Florida to fly the rainbow flag to commemorate PrideFest — back in 2000.

    “Recognition of Lake Worth as the Best City to Live In by SFGN is not a surprise. You don't have to be gay to enjoy our municipal beach, dock, golf course and parks,” said Tony Plakas, executive director of Compass.  “Our center has been in Lake Worth for nearly five years, and the local community has embraced us as much as we've embraced our new home.”   

    Best Drag Queen (Palm Beach)

    Velvet Lenore

    If you’re gay and live in Palm Beach County you’ve seen Velvet LeNore. If not, are you sure you live in Palm Beach? For the past 18 years she’s been on the stage performing, and for the last 8 years she’s been the “Queen of the Palm Beaches” for being one of the main entertainers at the annual PrideFest of the Palm Beaches.

    She regularly performs at Lips, Boardwalk, and The Manor in Browad County, Cold Keg in Melbourne, Rebar in Port St. Lucie, and Penny's at the Duke, Roosters, and Vita in Palm Beach County.

    She has a dance group K-otic and does a male to male revue at Boardwalk. She’s also a make up artists and hairstylist for weddings.

    “I’m very honored and surprised about this award and it means the world to me,” LeNore said. “I’ve based my life on helping other people be better at whatever they strive to do so this label means a lot to me and it’s something I don’t take lightly.”

    Best Gay Social Event (Palm Beach)

    Stonewall Ball

    Compass’ annual Stonewall Ball shows just how much gays have gone mainstream. At this past year’s event several (straight) elected officials showed up to show their support of the LGBT community. The annual event in Palm Beach County has become, over the years, a must attend social gathering. And last year the event was especially for Compass as they celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary.

    “Stonewall Ball is the Best gay Social Event of the year, but I admit my bias. In it's 12th year, the Stonewall Ball isn't only a gala for the gays, it's a celebration of all the people who are with us on our journey to full equality,” said Tony Plakas, executive director of Compass. “It's gratifying to have a party each year in the Historic Harriet Himmel Theater — in the heart of CityPlace — but even more so when you are surrounded by elected and appointed representatives who want to show their support for our community.”  

    Best Gym (Palm Beach)

    Zoo Health Club
    Lake Worth, FL ?

    With 80 percent gay clientele it’s not hard to figure out why the Zoo Health Club in downtown Lake Worth won for Best Gym.

    The franchise location opened up 3 years ago by Dawn Malega and her partner.

    “We’re a friendly gym. We don’t judge anybody here. People feel comfortable about their sexuality here,” Malega said. “We’re involved in everything, from gay pride to supporting Compass and hosting mixers. We try to support the community and they support us.”

    The 2,700 square foot gym is 24 hours featuring state of the art equipment, two personal trainers and several group classes including circuit training.

    Best Non-Profit (Palm Beach) 

    Lambda North
    18 South J Street
    Lake Worth, FL

    It’s easy to miss the small inconspicuous rainbow colored Greek Lambda symbol marking Lambda North’s location in downtown Lake Worth. And even for those that see the symbol, few will understand it’s meaning.

    But for those that do — it’s hope.

    The non-profit is an LGBT 12-step recovery meeting place, featuring programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. There are now 20 meetings that are held there each week.

    “We are very pleased we can serve the LGBTQ recovery community with a much needed safe place to call home,” said President of the club Michael Giorgi.Lambda North is extremely grateful for this honor of being named Best Non-Profit.”

    Being a fairly new small non-profit they’re had their struggles finding money. They don’t collect enough from rent from the meetings to maintain their space so they’ve had to regularly hold fundraisers. This upcoming year they hope to win some grants and find additional outside donors, to not only maintain the clubhouse, but grow it as well.

    But if their second anniversary party is any indication, things are going well. So well, in fact, they’ll be holding the event at Compass in order to accommodate everyone.

    Best Pizza (Palm Beach)

    Pizza Girls
    114 S Clematis St
    West Palm Beach, FL

    Looking for authentic NY Style pizza? Well you’ll find it Pizza Girls in downtown West Palm Beach. The pizza joint offers 20 gourmet pizzas by the slice and other favorites like hot wings, salads, subs, and desserts.

    But it’s the pizza that they’re being recognized for this year. And there’s something about that dough that keeps em coming back.

    “People love our pizza dough,” said Phoebe Morales-Reckseit, who owns the restaurant with her wife. “We’ve been told we have the best pizza in whole world.” And they have the awards to prove it. “We’ve won a lot of best pizza awards from a lot of publications.”

    The NY Style pizza is always a favorite. And currently there are two new ones on the menu including a Thai chicken with diced chicken, carrots, broccoli, peanut sauce, and fresh cilantro; and a Caprese pizza with shredded mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar.

    The pizza shop opened up in 1996 and besides just the pizza the owners are active in the community ­— especially PrideFests where they’ve had booths or a trailer since 1998.

    “We’re just very open as a gay couple in the community,” she said. “We encourage our employees to be their selves. We have a really good work environment and that spills over to our customers.”

    Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week, Thursdays till 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturdays till 4 a.m.; and Sundays noon to 9 p.m.

    Best Restaurant/Diner (Palm Beach)

    4700 S Dixie Hwy
    West Palm Beach, FL 33405

    This iconic restaurant/diner has been around since 1950 and is currently owned by Rodney Mayo, so it makes sense this little gem on the corner is such a standout.

    Mayo is a business savvy entrepreneur who owns, along with Scott Frielich, a collection of restaurants/bars in Palm Beach County that include Longboards, Lost Weekend, Feelgood's, Rock Bar, Dada, Tryst, Delux; Kapow! Noodle Bar, and Dubliner.

    Howley’s feature an eclectic mix of food, and much of what you expect at a traditional diner. One of the standouts, according to manager Nicole Nichols include a new item, the Brady Burrito, a flour tortilla stuffed with brisket, cheese, mashed potatoes, tomato corn salsa, smothered with a spicy sauce, jack cheese, an over medium egg, jalapeno, sour cream and guacamole — that’s a mouthful for sure.

    "All of our food is fresh and homemade,” Nichols said. She also recommends the crab cakes which she calls “amazing, definitely the best.”

    But besides the food it’s the atmosphere that helps take this eatery to the next level.

    “Our servers are a bit on the sassy side and fun and hopefully attentive and great,” she said.

    And if there’s still room for dessert try the chocolate peanut butter pie or cupcakes.

    Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday; and they close at 5 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

    Best Live Theater (Palm Beach County)

    Lake Worth Playhouse
    713 Lake Ave,
    Lake Worth

    In its 61st season, the Lake Worth Playhouse is more than just a landmark and elaborately arranged entertainment venue. It's an institution of sorts for entertainment enthusiasts' of all ages, and from all walks of life.

    Featuring a full season of varying theatrical productions, weekly featured films, classes, internships, and two separate free standing theaters, the Lake Worth Playhouse is a standout locale for all things entertainment.

    It’s also an overwhelming reader's favorite and the winner of SFGN'sBest Live Theater in Palm Beach County as selected by our readers.

    Located on Lake Ave in historic downtown Lake Worth, the original Lake Worth Playhouse dates back to 1924. Purchased by a group of Lake Worth citizens in 1952, and brought out of dormancy, the playhouse quickly blossomed in to the highly recognized theater it is today.

    Featuring two separate venues -- a main stage seating 300 and a Black Box Theater -- known as the Stonzek Theatre -- added in the 90's and seating 70, patrons have their choice between grandiose productions and intimate performance art creating what Director of Development Daniel Eilola calls a "something for everyone" allure.

    More than just for actors, fans of the theater, students and patrons alike, Eilola emphasizes that the goal of the theater is to bring a sense of family to the community. The playhouse also conducts outreach to local disadvantaged children in addition to collecting donations throughout its season.

    It also has plenty of gay staff and patrons alike. Hosting special events like the Divas Holiday Party – a drag show featuring singing and comedic skits, the playhouse stays true to its mission of bringing people together:

    Eilola adds: "We're a caring, loving organization where people come, volunteer, and usually don’t leave. It's a special place to be a part of."

    – MA

  • This year, 2013, was a queer year for film. Interestingly, and perhaps significantly, the most memorable films and performances did not feature gay men, as is usually the case. This year, queer-themed films showcased a heartbreaking turn by Jared Leto as a transsexual with HIV in “Dallas Buyers Club;” Lindsay Lohan engaging in some naughty bisexual misbehavior in “The Canyons;” and in the year’s most incredible film—the three-hour French lesbian romance, “Blue Is the Warmest Color” — a spectacular performance by Adéle Exarchopoulos as a young adult coming of age and to terms with her sexual identity.

  • In October we asked you, our readers, to vote for your favorite restaurants, hangouts, and charities — from your favorite burgers and desserts to the Best Place to Pick Up a Guy, or Girl. We received almost double the amount of votes over the last two years.

  • First of all, you should know I personally hate ‘Best Of’ issues. Everyone has their own tastes and preferences, whether it comes to boyfriends, bookstores, or bars. Besides, we have all heard what everyone says about ‘opinions.’