Best Gay-Owned-and-Operated Restaurant (2001)

Hi-Life Cafe

Gay restaurants are a dime a dozen in South Florida, and most of them have a life expectancy measured in months. But for more than six years now, the Hi-Life has been an oasis of stability and consistency. Transplanted New Yorkers Chuck Smith and Carlos Fernandez started out with an atmosphere-drenched, one-room eatery that quickly gained a devoted following. Fernandez worked the kitchen (pretty much by himself), while Smith worked the dining room. That hasn't changed. It's not unusual to find Chef Carlos busing tables; Smith still plays the ever-gracious host, circulating to make sure everything runs smoothly. But the restaurant has more than doubled in size to include a second room with a well-stocked wine bar, and the staff of good-looking, highly competent men has likewise expanded. The menu, meanwhile, has been honed to near-perfection, a small but versatile lineup that includes such standouts as Belgian endive topped with blue cheese, chopped pecans, and tomatoes and drizzled with champagne vinaigrette; searing jalapeños stuffed with cheese and shrimp and wrapped in bacon; chicken and penne pasta mingled with olives, capers, red peppers, onions, and tomatoes and tinged with balsamic vinegar; and a pan-grilled slab of salmon atop sautéed spinach, finished with a light Dutch Dijon cream sauce. It's the kind of place where same-sex couples can relax and be discreetly affectionate but also the kind of place you'd feel perfectly comfortable taking Mom and Dad.

Location Details

3000 N. Federal Highway
Wilton Manors FL 33306
954-563-1395

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