June 1st marks the start of LGBTQ Pride Month and this year we celebrate an extra special edition. It’s been 50 years since the iconic protests at Stonewall Inn in New York City—a spark in the decades-long fight for equality—and folks from coast to coast are shining their Pride colors extra brightly this year.
Bars and restaurants have long been important fixtures for members of the LGBTQ family as places to escape, join together, plan, protest and of course, dish a little. Whether June has you on the move catching parades and festivities across the country or sticking close to home with your very best Judys, here are a few iconic LGBTQ restaurants to check out.
Julius’ (New York City)
“Restaurant” might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of Julius’ but this iconic West Village gay bar actually has some pretty good grub. A continuously operating bar since the mid-19th century, Julius’ started to attract an LGBT clientele by the 1960s. On April 21, 1966, the “Sip-In,” inspired by a civil rights “sit-in,” was organized by the Mattachine Society to challenge a discriminatory policy of revoking the licenses of bars that served gays and lesbians. One of the earliest public actions for LGBTQ rights, and a big step forward in legitimizing LGBTQ bars in New York.
On top of being one of the oldest and most historic gay bars, Julius’ [secretly] has one of the best grease pits in town. For simple juicy burgers, well-made fries, chicken fingers, and hot wings—made in a charming “open kitchen” that’s all of 12 square feet— it’s the perfect food to soak up happy hour vodka sodas slung by some of the friendliest bartenders in town.
Hamburger Mary’s (West Hollywood, Los Angeles)
Hamburger Mary’s is actually a franchise with over ten locations across the country, but it’s earned cult status in southern California as one of the most fun, gay-friendly hangs in all of West Hollywood (L.A.’s gayborhood). With epic drag brunches on weekends and bustling happy hours on their open-air patio, Mary’s serves simple yet steady diner-style food and invites anyone, gay or straight, to come “eat, drink and be Mary.”
Rosie’s Bar and Grill (Wilton Manors, Florida)
You won’t find a more fun spot to hang and eat than Rosie’s Bar and Grill on Wilton Drive in LGBT-haven, Fort Lauderdale. Wilton Manors is one of the gayest cities per capita in the country and Rosie’s Bar and Grill is truly its beating heart. Come for a freshly grilled fish sandwich or heaping burger, or just to see and be seen sipping one of their fabulous cocktails made by the ever-smiling-bartender Alfredo out on the breezy patio.
Big Chicks (Chicago, IL)
The pub grub is solid at Big Chicks, a gay bar & restaurant on the Northside of Chicago, but you’re really going for the camaraderie and massive Bloody Marys (pictured above). Late-night this place turns into a VERY lively bar, more than a restaurant, but the kitchen stays open past midnight. Bring cash for dollar burger Mondays and keep an eye out for other food specials throughout the week.
700 Club (New Orleans, LA)
700 Club gets a standing ovation just for naming this bar and restaurant to troll the conservative Christian and anti-LGBT television show of the same name. New Orleans is also one of the great food cities and probably the most unique too, so standards are high but the 700 Club, on Burgundy Street in the French Quarter delivers. The food technically comes from Faubourg Bistro in the back, and with fried catfish po’ boys, burgers, mac and cheese balls, and cold beer, it’s become a favorite spot to eat, drink, and reconnoiter for Crescent City queers.