Here's an alphabetical guide of the best bars and nightclubs, plus a few gay-popular restaurants and cafés, in Fort Lauderdale as well as the neighboring city of Wilton Manors, which has quite a few of Broward County's GLBT establishments. Also check out the Fort Lauderdale Gay Resorts and Hotels Guide, and the Fort Lauderdale/Wilton Manors Gay Guide (with top GLBT attractions in Broward County).
Keep in mind that Fort Lauderdale is less than an hour's drive from most parts of Miami. Check out the Miami and South Beach Gay Nightlife Guide for more ideas on where to party and dance in that area. It's an even shorter drive (about 45 minutes) to Palm Beach County, where you'll also find some fun gay hangouts (more neighborhood-style spots that cater to locals, but they're very friendly). See the West Palm Beach and Lake Worth Gay Nightlife Guide for details.
Fort Lauderdale also has a couple of extremely popular gay bathhouses, as well as some resorts that are pretty well liked for their cruise vibe - check out the Fort Lauderdale Gay Sex Club and Sauna Guide.
A mainstay gay video and sports bar of the Wilton Manors scene, the Alibi Wilton Manors (2266 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors, 954-565-2526) is a must for many a bar-hopping tourist and local. The popular hangout is spacious and nicely laid out, with a big patio, and it's also a very popular option for light dining (sandwiches, salads, and the usual bar and comfort foods).
What's not to like about a bar whose website menu lists "Naked Guys" right at the top? Yup, Boardwalk Bar (1721 N. Andrews Ave., 954-463-6969), which fringes Wilton Manors, is all about dudes who happen to perform nude - the club often draws actors from Fort Lauderdale's prolific gay porn industry. If you're more into regular guys off the street, check out Wednesday's amateur strip contests. This is a classic gay stripper bar, with pole dancers, lap dances, and all the usual fun. It's a clean and nicely kept place, but the cover charges and spendy drink prices are a turnoff for some. Hey, it's all about the entertainment at this place.
Breakfast and brunchers in Wilton Manors are the biggest fans of Shawn & Nick's Courtyard Cafe (2211 Wilton Dr., 954-563-2499), a bright and cheery gay diner that's open 24 hours on weekends and until 11 pm other times. It's quite a lively and campy scene late in Friday and Saturday nights, and beer and wine are served, along with all your usual diner classics: baked haddock, bacon-avocado burgers, Monte Cristo sandwiches, and some seriously delicious breakfast fare. The salmon eggs Benedict and homemade biscuits with sausage gravy are particularly good.
Billing itself the "best little butch bar in Fort Lauderdale," the Cubby Hole (823 N. Federal Hwy., 954-728-9001) is a favorite of the city's very enthusiastic bear community. Certain theme nights, like the two-for-one drinks specials, doled out on Wednesday night to any attired in boxers or briefs (or boxer-briefs, one supposes), are extremely well-attended. A cruise mood prevails in this fun hangout that doesn't take itself too seriously.
The Corner Pub (1915 N. Andrews Ave., 954-564-7335) is a chipper little neighborhood gay bar near the main drag in Wilton Manors, drawing a fairly local bunch for cheap happy hours, to shoot pool, and listen to tunes on a pretty good jukebox.
A classic, old-school diner along trendy Los Olas Boulevard, The Floridian (1410 E. Las Olas Blvd., 954-463-4041) is one of those longtime favorites for 24-hour snacking. It's near the beach (and so a short drive from many gay resorts), and the food here is pretty tasty, if predictable, including a huge assortment of eggs dishes, country-fried steak, and eggs, smoked-salmon eggs Benedict, burgers, club sandwiches, salads, mahimahi sandwiches - the list goes on and on. At 2:30 am after the bars have closed, if you've worked up an appetite out dancing, you'll be happy this Fort Lauderdale institution exists.
With a huge following among Wilton Manors gays and lesbians and a sleek, modern interior with a large and comfortable outdoor seating area, Galanga (2389 Wilton Dr., 954-202-0000) is one of the best spots in the area for fresh and creatively prepared sushi rolls, sashimi, tom kha soup, Thai beef salad, and a wide range of Thai, Japanese, and Pan-Asian grills and noodle dishes: the "lobster love affair" with picked claw meat over avocado-mashed potatoes with a red curry sauce; crispy duck with a tamarind sauce; chicken over drunk noodles with a spicy basil sauce, and so on. The Elton John roll (salmon, white fish, cucumber, avocado, masago, tuna) is a favorite from the sushi list. Galanga serves big, pretty sake cocktails and other delicious drinks, and there's a nice wine list as well.
South Florida has a number of excellent Greek restaurants, with casual and attractive Greek Islands Taverna (3300 N. Ocean Blvd., 954-568-0008) - situated along the coast about 3 miles north of the Terramar Street gay resort area - among the top picks. The extensive menu features all the Hellenic classics, and then some: char-broiled lamb chops with oregano and lemon, whole Florida yellowtail snapper, taramosalata, keftedes, gyros, grilled octopus, avgolemono soup, and much more. There's a good wine list of Greek and other wines.
In the same scene-y shopping center as the Alibi and Java Boys Coffeehouse, Hunters (2232 Wilton Dr., 954-630-3556) - formerly known as Club Boom and Atomic - is a two-level space with a sleek and stylish video bar up top, and a decent-size dance floor on the main level. This is one of the better places in great Fort Lauderdale for dancing and otherwise cutting loose on weekends. The crowd on the dance floor is mostly the usual sea of shirtless, tanned, and cut guys in their 20s and 30s, and but there are always plenty of exceptions to the rule - women, straights, older guys. Boom employs some of the best DJs in the area, and the Sunday T-dances are lots of fun, as are the Studio 54 retro dance parties. From the upstairs bar, you get a very nice view of all the moving and shaking down below on the dance floor.
In the same popular shopping center as Alibi and Gay Mart, this friendly and comfy little coffeehouse serves a wide array of hot and iced coffee and other drinks - fairly standard desserts and sandwiches are also available, and there's free Wi-Fi. Java Boys (2230 Wilton Dr., 954-564-8828) open early in the morning till late at night, making it almost as much of a gay hot spot in the evenings as many nearby clubs and bars. This fixture in Wilton Manors is a big supporter of the community and local charitable organizations, and the staff is outgoing and fun.
Chef-owner Johnny Vinczencz has made a name for himself as one of South Florida's proponents of so-called "Floribbean" cuisine - contemporary, regionally focused fare that combines local ingredients (fresh produce and seafood, especially) with both Lain, Caribbean, and even a few Pan-Asia traditions. His smart, upscale Johnny V Restaurant & Lounge (625 E. Las Olas Blvd., 954-761-7920) is along Fort Lauderdale's pedestrian-friendly Las Olas retail and restaurant strip and serves terrific dishes like "bacon, eggs, and toast" (crisp pork belly with quail eggs, fig marmalade, and toast points); slightly seared tuna poke with soy-grilled pineapple and wasabi caviar; and ancho-cinnamon-crusted pork tenderloin with sweet potato hash and a chunky papaya-mango sauce. For a sophisticated, food-driven experience, Johnny V is hard to beat.
A talented, campy, larger-than-life cast of drag divas entertains the fans at Lips (1421 E. Oakland Park Blvd., 954-567-0987), a dragalicious show bar and restaurant with performances every night but Monday, plus Sunday gospel brunch. The food, with drag-inspired names like April Chanel Caprese salad and Misty Eyez Atlantic salmon, tends toward creative American and Continental, and although attending a show is the big reason to eat here, the food is surprisingly well-prepared. Popular, of course, with the GLBT set, Lips also pulls in plenty of hetero tourists, bachelorette parties, and groups of friends celebrating birthdays and other events.
A longtime favorite for well-priced, traditional American fare along hip Los Olas Boulevard, Mangos (904 E. Las Olas Blvd., 954-523-5001) is a solid choice for casual dining (blackened mahimahi, crab cake sandwiches, chicken Oscar, seafood fettuccine). There's nothing flashy about the menu, but the setting is fun and lively, as there are live rock and jazz here many evenings, and the setting is charming and convivial.
Whatever you're in the mood for in terms of socializing, eating, and drinking, you'll probably find it at the bi-level Manor Complex (2345 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors, 954-626-0082), a sprawling and handsomely designed space (called Epic Nightclub) for dancing, drinking, and watching live bands and piano cabaret, with its own rather hip restaurant that's popular for dinner, lighter tapas, Sunday brunch (with $3 mimosas), and more - think ahi tuna with a dipping sauce, meatball sliders, bbq chicken chop salads, burgers, Szechwan calamari, and the like. Although it really bills itself a mixed bar, most of the time the crowd is substantially LGBT, but everybody is made to feel very much at home here in this centrally located establishment. The Manor is packed on weekends and keeps pretty busy other nights, too.
Mona's (502 E. Sunrise Blvd., 954-525-6662) is a laid-back, casual gay neighborhood bar, appealing to a mostly 40s-and-up crowd, in the Holiday Park section of the city - it's a good stop en route between Wilton Manors and the beach, as the drinks are affordable, and the crowd and staff welcoming. Shoot pool for free on Monday and Tuesday nights. There's karaoke on Wednesdays.
Address2740 N Andrews Ave, Wilton Manors, FL 33311, USA
The cozy and campy Monkey Business Bar (2740 N. Andrew Ave., 954-514-7819) is an easygoing neighborhood bar that presents some very dishy and fun drag shows. It's a good bet for karaoke, too.
Both wine experts and novices will find plenty to enjoy at Naked Grape (2163 Wilton Dr., 954-563-5631), a casually elegant wine bar and shop that doubles as a tapas restaurant, serving a good range of enticing small plates, including fine cheeses and other light snacks. The staff here works hard to stock relatively unusual, well-priced wines and is happy to help make suggestions. There are a handful of tables in this warmly lighted space as well as a long bar.
For any who may be of the mind that gay leather culture is on the wane, a visit to Ramrod (1508 N.E. 4th Ave., which becomes Wilton Dr., 954-763-8219) will put to rest any such thoughts. This dark, rough, and ready hangout just a short drive south of Wilton Manors has a few polished motorcycles out front, letting you know immediately that you've stumbled upon a bar where leather gear, uniforms, and S&M attire are enthusiastically welcomed and celebrated - it's definitely one of the top spots for bears and cubs in Florida, too. This unabashedly cruise-y place where things often go bump in the dark night has some very lively underwear parties, and talented DJs get the crowd dancing most nights. The later you get here, the more sexually charged the vibe. Be warned that, alas, it can get very smoky inside.
Festive Rosie's (2449 Wilton Dr., 954-563-0123) pleases the crowds with fun and dishy service, lots of outdoor seating, and consistently affordable and well-prepared food, plus a nice selection of cocktails. This Wilton Manors favorite presents a wildly popular brunch on Sundays and is open for lunch and dinner every day of the week, serving food until late. There's also a weekday happy hour from 11 am until 7 pm, with half off beer, premium well drinks, and house wine. Burgers are a big draw here (the Rhoda Cowboy, with cheddar, bacon, and barbecue sauce being a favorite), as are Key West shrimp-and-bacon club sandwiches, wraps, fish tacos, salads, chicken fajita bowls, and other comfort foods.
Fort Lauderdale's top venue for country-western line-dancing and two-stepping, Scandals (3073 N.E. 6th Ave., 954-567-2432) is on the north side of Wilton Manors (not far from Oakland Park). This spacious club has become known for its Sunday T-dance, and great dancing on the weekends - lessons are offered Monday through Wednesday. This is the home bar of the talented Ricochet Dance Team.
A well-regarded, friendly, and attractive gay video bar along the Wilton Manors main drag, Rumors Bar & Grill (2426 Wilton Dr., 954-564-1799) succeeds thanks in large part to its welcoming staff and attractive but still informal interior - it's a cut above a number of other neighborhood bars in Wilton Manors and Fort Lauderdale for this reason. The crowd is eclectic - gay men, lesbians, and others, of all ages. It's a good place to start the night before hitting some of the larger nearby clubs, or to wind down an evening, as the noise level in here is relatively mild, making this a great bar for conversation. There's also very good bar food served.
A compact little neighborhood bar in the Oakland Park part of town, Smarty Pants Bar (2400 E. Oakland Park Blvd., 954-561-1724) is said to be the oldest bar in the city. It's a pretty quiet, relaxed spot catering to an older bunch. There's a great jukebox.
During the morning and afternoon in Wilton Manors, there are few businesses more packed with gay and lesbian patrons than Stork's Cafe & Bakery (2505 N.E. 15th Ave., 954-567-3220), a cheerful and attractive little restaurant. Stork's has made a name for itself serving decadently delicious, made-from-scratch sweets, including lemon-blueberry biscuits, chocolate bread pudding, Viennese finger cookies, rustic pear tarts, and white chocolate-raspberry cheesecake, so if it's a devilish snack you're after, head here - excellent coffee and tea drinks are served, too. But this is also a fine option for savory breakfast and lunch fare, including sandwiches, soups, and salads. You can dine indoors or on the lovely patio.
A hip, contemporary space a short drive south of downtown Fort Lauderdale, Tap 42 (1411 S. Andrews Ave., 954-463-4900) doesn't have an especially strong presence in the gay community, but it is a favorite of craft beer lovers and fans of gastropub cuisine. On tap is an astounding range of microbrews from across the country, plus several from Europe (Bell's Two Hearted, Harpoon IPA, Lagunitas IPA, Dogfish 60 Minute IPA, Rogue Dead Guy, Delirium Tremens, Lindeman's Framboise Raspberry Lambic, Left Hand Milk Stout, and many more). There's also a good cocktail list, and creative lunch, brunch, and dinner fare: tuna-watermelon sashimi, smoked fish dip, kale Caesar salads, Black Jack Porter meatloaf, and similar dishes that pair nicely with beer.
Among the many gay lounges and popular restaurants in the region, comfortable and friendly Tropics (2000 Wilton Dr., 954-537-6000) stands out as one of the top venues for the older-50 set. It's highly regarded as a piano bar, presenting some of the most talented cabaret performers in town, every night of the week. Tropics is also a longtime favorite in the community as a restaurant, with the kitchen serving quite tasty Continental-inspired food, including prime rib au jus, New York strip steak, crisp roast duckling, and similarly traditional fare.
A low-keyed neighborhood bar with a friendly staff in the middle of Wilton Manors, Village Pub (2283 Wilton Dr., 754-200-5244) is a good bet for its seemingly endless happy hours (Monday through Saturday, 11 am until 9 pm). Lots of regulars enjoy the Twisted Tuesdays when comedy and showtunes air on the several video screens.