In this favourite gay getaway that's especially popular with the circuit-party
set, people pursue dining and partying with a near fanatical fervour.
South Beach and particularly the area around 12th Street Beach and Ocean Drive is the main gay neighborhood of Miami. Brimming with gay-friendly and gay-owned businesses including bars, nightclubs, restaurants, saunas and more, this is the shining diamond of the city’s LGBTQ scene.
|For a relatively small community, the variety of
sophisticated and swanky restaurants and clubs is astounding. You could easily spend a
week here without having to visit the same gay bar or hip eatery twice.
Fashion and food have never been strangers, so it's not surprising that
stylish South Beach offers a thriving culinary scene.
Sexy South Beach, with its miles of pristine
lays claim to some of the hippest and handsomest
and restaurants in Florida.
Photo courtesy of the Greater Miami CVB
EATINGHowever, as many of the most popular restaurants along the city's
traffic-clogged oceanfront have become overrun with tourists, gays and lesbians have flocked to the
trendy establishments along the utterly charming Lincoln Road pedestrian mall,
where you'll find consistently better food.
Away from Lincoln Road you'll find plenty of great restaurants, too.
The stainless-steel, deco-style 11th
Street Diner serves standard fare 24 hours a day, including a great Philly
cheese steak and the most voluptuous vanilla malts in South Beach. In the
spirit of traditional greasy spoons, the servers are so grumpy they actually yell
at the customers from time to time.
On the upper stretch of Ocean Drive, the Front Porch Cafe fosters
a lazy, devil-may-care atmosphere - a far cry from the stand-and-model showdowns a
few blocks away. The food is eclectic: Thai noodles, pizzas, overstuffed sandwiches,
muffins, and hearty breakfasts. Puerto Sagua serves Paella and a variety of seafood, but they
also have chicken, beef and pork dishes. It's an old fashioned menu that you'll find there but
the choice of items is extraordinary with over 100 dishes - all of them in a style of authentic Cuban cooking.
Whatever you do in Maimi South Beach don't miss
the 24 hour News Cafe where famously Gianni Versace was heading for his regular breakfast
when he was gunned down, in the 1990's. The cafe itself serves great food and they have a fine range of newspapers
and magazines from all over the world in their shop. For breakfast there are cocktails available like a
Paper Boy (with Vodka, Bloody Mary Mix, Worcestershire, Sweet Chili Sauce & Lemon Juice), the regulation
Mimosa (Prosecco & Fresh Orange Juice) and a News Cafe Bellini (White Peach, Prosecco & Peychauds Bitters).
Food wise there's a choice of many dishes including a Breakfast Burrito, Lox & Bagels, an Ocean Drive Bacon, Eggs & Cheese Sandwich
and their popular News Cafe Big Breakfast - it has the lot!
He was on his way from his Villa which is also on Ocean Drive. Gianni Versace bought it in 1992 and its wrought
iron gates lined with the designer's signature Greek key pattern
and Medusa logo in gold bas relief, have been a fixture of fascination for passersby on Ocean Drive ever since
Gianni Versace's untimely murder on its steps, which was back in 1997.
Versace Mansion on South Beach.
With a velvet rope and stern security guard ever
present at the entrance, curiosity about the lavish world that exists beyond those gilded gates lends the home
its mystique, yet it's not open to the public for tours or a look inside. Today, the home's official name is
The Villa Casa Casuarina At The Former Versace Mansion boasting a 10-room boutique hotel and fine dining restaurant Il Sole. The home
can also function as a private event space and it is possible sometime to sneak in and have a drink at the bar,
although it will cost you!
South Beach's high-profile discos, which resemble New York's and L.A.'s massive
warehouse clubs, are the big draw during the designated gay theme nights. A few
smaller but no less popular cocktail bars stay gay seven nights a week and can
be great fun if you're not in the mood for a major club event. And don't overlook
Miami proper, which has a handful of cool gay bars and the Club Aqua Center
which is the hottest bathhouse in these parts.
The longest-running of South Beach gay bars, Twist is a great little video bar
with a tiny dance floor upstairs and several cozy spots for lounging. The open-air porch off the second floor is
especially convivial on a warm evening. Best of all, Twist stays open until 5 a.m. and never charges a cover.
Palace Bar & Restaurant is one of Miami's most popular gay bars and is located in the heart of Ocean Drive. You'll know it when you get there,
there's always a commotion at Miami’s best-known and most-visited gay hotspots. You'll spend a bit on drinks but their weekend drag shows are a
must-visit for gay boys in town. Palace has been there since the 1980's and little has changed to this present day. Their terrace is the perfect spot
for cruising and people-watching as it spills out onto the street during busy times. They have an unlimited mimosa drag brunch every Friday, Saturday
and Sunday, with two separate seatings at 11 am and 2 pm. The performances are just as varied and delightful as the food on offer, which includes
everything from delicious egg dishes to superb pancakes. Perfect after a few too many cocktails!
R House in Miami's Wynwood neighbourhood is a fun gay bar with delicious cocktails and good music. It's set in Wynwood Walls art district
which is one of Miami’s coolest and most-visited neighborhoods. There's a sprawl of murals and beautiful graffiti that you cannot help being
charmed by. R House is a hub for the neighborhood’s LGBTQ community, offering drag brunches every Saturday and Sunday with funky music.
Score is an awesome gay night in Miami's South Beach, which doesn't have a regular physical location. Instead, they operate an event production company
with pop-up events taking place around town. Their website & facebook page have all the details. Their parties goes on late into the night
and is all about freedom & self-expression, with locals and tourists alike enjoying some of the best music in town.
Photo: Infrogmation of New Orleans
CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Club Boi @ The Villa Nightclub provides an erotic and fun night every Saturday. It's been going strong since 2002, and although it’s moved locations
several times over the years, the fun remains the same. They play an energetic and unique mix of hip hop, reggae, dancehall, R&B, latin, house,
and old school beat, together with sexy strippers which add to the decadent and erotic vibe.
Miami's Coconut Grove was once the center of the city’s gay scene before 12th Street took over. It's still worth a visit, particularly to check
out one of the best gay clubs in town, Azucar. On top of that, the biggest Circuit Party in the US gets thrown every November in Coconut Grove,
with no shortage of handsome gay guys in attendance. Azucar itself has a distinct Latin theme teamed up with a number of memorable drag shows, and some
good looking staff. The music is high-energy and the drinks flow freely.
Andrew Collins is the author of
Fodor's Gay Guide to the USA and six regional gay guides for Fodor's.
South Beach Hotels
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Azucar (2301 SW 32nd Ave; T: +1 786-234-4027; facebook)
Club Aqua Center (2991 Coral Way, Miami; T: +1 305-448-2214; Website)
ClubBOi @ The Villa Nightclub (19501 NW 2nd Ave, Miami Gardens; T: +1 786-617-4746; Website)
11th Street Diner (11th St. and Washington Ave; T: +1 305-534-6373; Website)
Front Porch Cafe (1418 Ocean Dr; T: +1 305-531-8300; Website)
News Cafe (800 Ocean Drive; T: +1 305-538-6397; Website)
Palace Bar & Restaurant (1052 Ocean Dr; T: +1 305-531-7234; Website)
Puerto Sagua (700 Collins Ave; T: +1 305-673-1115; Website)
R House Wynwood (2727 NW 2nd Ave; T: +1 305-576-0201; Website)
The Villa Casa Casuarina At The Former Versace Mansion (1116 Ocean Dr; T: +1 786-485-2200; Website)
Score (Locations vary; Website; facebook)
Twist (1057 Washington Ave; T: +1 305-538-9478; Website)
Revised September 2023.