I used to make fun of my roommate when we lived in Portland, Maine together. When it came time to go out for the weekend, we would go out to the usual places because he did not want to try new things. I’d say, “You’re such a Taurus when we should be tourists in our own town.” We would hit the places we’ve gone to weekend after weekend, month after month while the city was winning awards and accolades as one of the best foodie and brewery cities in the nation. Of course, after moving to the Wilton Manors / Fort Lauderdale area, and living here for about 8 years, I find myself doing the same thing. It’s time to break out of that.
What has assisted me on finding new things to do in the area are the new venues opening for me and my friends to enjoy. Even during COVID, people have taken the risk to start a new business or grow their current offering and it’s time to break out of the routine.
The Gays and Brunch –
Oh how the gays love their brunch … but why do we have to wait for the weekend? There’s a little spot in the city of Oakland Park (a part of Greater Fort Lauderdale) that knows how to provide an exceptional brunch experience. BuleGreen Café Yard is that spot. No, they did not spell blue wrong. Here’s a little local news coverage of this must visit restaurant.
Owned by “family”, outdoor eating in paradise, and providing a cultural variance, these are all great things that I look for in a venue in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. Check out Bulegreen’s webpage for updated times as everyone’s availability has changed recently. And definitely try both the traditional breakfast and lunch offerings when brunching it here.
Drinks, Drinks, and oh yeah, Drinks –
I really do not want to tell you about this next spot as I do not want it to become overcrowded. Still in Oakland Park and literally two blocks away from Bulegreen, Cyth & Co. is my place to go for an amazing atmosphere and even more amazing drinks. Fort Lauderdale is also known as Fort Liquordale as we drink well here and usually at a good reduced price. Cyth & Co. is a place that takes that tradition but elevates it to a level that will surprise all visitors.
When happy hour extended to every day of the week (instead of the Thursday, Friday, Saturday) from 4 PM to 7 PM, I knew I was in trouble as I used to go there so often that the owner stopped bringing me a drink menu. With some of the, if not the best tasting cocktails in town and only $5 a pop during happy hours, Cyth & Co has created an airy welcoming and refined yet not stuffy environment where it’s always fun to see your friends’ faces when they see their minuscule bill once the evening is done. We recently went there for its 3-hour happy hour as part of an all-day birthday celebration. We drank for the full 3 hours trying all the amazing offerings in their wonderful libations, laughing, being well-served, and were overly relaxed in this peaceful setting.
If you’re not a drinker of alcohol, they as well do great coffee and tea offerings and the food menu has some great vegan options. Cyth & Co. also sells dried flowers which often garnish their drinks and they are mixing in live music to the daily offerings. It’s a must that all my friends visiting demand we visit when they are in town.
Fine Dining off ‘The Drive’ –
When they come to Wilton Manors, many of the gays gravitate to ‘The Drive’ where there are umpteen food offerings an umpteen plus watering holes. Seriously, Wilton Drive is a great place to focus on when here as there are at least 14 gay centric bars and just as many wonderful eateries.
But just steps away from two recently renovated spots of Thai Me Up and Spencer’s Corner Bar and the recently opened Hamburger Mary’s Wilton Manors, is an elevated dining experience I has the pleasure of visiting just a few days ago. Union Kitchen & Bar is literally just around the corner from ‘The Drive’ on Dixie Highway, a perfect spot for a great date night, night with friends, and of course a place to enjoy amazing food before you hit the drive or call it a night or decided ‘Netflix & Chill’ is for dessert.
Walking into Union Kitchen & Bar, the space was rich with deep dark colors, grounded settings, and a feeling of spaciousness, elevation, and comfort. It was a night out with a friend for me, but if I ever get a date in this town, this would be on the top of my list to bring him in Wilton Manors. The staff was gracious, professional, and very accommodating. The other patrons were dressed nicely with some still in the “regular” Wilton Manors attire (shorts and tank top or polo or tee), but most seemed to be dressed for a nice evening as we were.
Union’s warm and welcoming atmosphere set us up to enjoy to the fullest the fresh and flavorful offerings. With my smoked old fashioned by my side, I enjoyed my selections of crispy pork belly tacos, rainbow carrot salad, corn & ricotta ravioli, and blackberry-mascarpone galette. Afterall, I put pants on for this meal, so I was hoping it was going to be good, but it was great. I think the pricing was a good fit for the quality of food you were receiving and the ability to order ½ servings of the pasta make it either an option to eat less or to split your food intake between two different offerings. I may just do that during my next visit as I was jealous of my guest who did just that. And that next visit will be soon as Union’s location, ambiance, food, staff, all added up to an evening I will not soon forget. To help you decide if Union is right for you, here is the current menu.
A Bar with a little Xtra –
Walking back from our usual Thursday night haunts, a friend and I decided to step into Xtra, a bar I have never been in before on ‘The Drive’. When I moved to the area in 2013, this spot on the corner of Wilton Drive and 6th Ave was plastered with “Coming Soon” signs that would change every season and year. I think there was a Biergarten in there at one point but it didn’t last as I never had the chance to step foot in it. Now, the space is occupied by Xtra, a bar that was previously in Hollywood, Florida.
Walking in, you immediately knew what the bar was. A long welcoming bar presented itself as a nice place to start before going deeper into the venue. We sat at the corner and I was reassured about what kind of establishment this was. “A Gentleman’s club for people interested in transgender women” is what Alanna Elu (Twitter @Alanna_Window) explained to us as to where we were at. She was one of the entertainers at the bar. We sat with her and she was very accommodating to me and my 74-year old friend that had some questions you may expect from any older generation person that may not have wrapped their head around something very different to them. She was great, he was apologetic, but we had a great evening, with great drinks and fun conversation. I did tip her for her time and bought her a couple of drinks as the girls were not there to not make money. I will definitely go back again as the venue was welcoming and had a wonderful Mexican Mule made by Joanna.
And so much more-
There’s always something to do in the Greater For Lauderdale area. My little town of Oakland Park, adjacent to Wilton Manors which is arguably the gayest spot in the US, all of this is teeming with exciting options, great people, and new experiences popping up weekly. So when you come to visit Fort Lauderdale, yes, get that meal from your favorite place and that drink from your favorite bartender, but do not forget to expand your experiences and dabble in a new adventure or two while here.
As usual, here are a couple more images. The first is a screen shot of Bulegreen’s Instagram: bulegreencafe