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I feel like Tommy might know this...there's a great neighborhood bar on the west end of W4th that just happens to be a lesbian bar. It's relaxed, not divey but not swank either. Can't remember the name. It's not the bars on Hudson, but on one of the side streets.

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Interesting thread, and a great couple of posts SWoodyWhite. Its made me think of the gay restaurants I've been to with the bf outside India and the definite role that restaurants have for gay people within India.

Outside India, I can remember going to specifically gay places (meaning rainbow flag outside the door) in Amsterdam and Cape Town. Can't remember the Amsterdam places, but one CT restaurant I remember was called Manhattan, in De Waterkant, CT's gay district. Nice enough place, though unmemorable food. One really good place I do remember, not specifically gay, but (I think) gay owned and (definitely) gay staffed was Olympia, a wonderful deli/bakery in Kalk's Bay, on the coast towards the Cape. Best cinnamon rolls I've eaten in my life.

That apart, I think I've had mixed feelings about these gay specific places. I've appreciated the generally warm atmosphere (though some of the least friendly places I've ever been to have been in apparently gay places in Soho in London), the slightly campy air, the cute waiters (obviously the one real essential in a gay restaurant) and the fact that the bf and I could hands if we wanted.

Yet I've usually had a slight sense of being ripped off. Most of these places were a bit more expensive than equivalent places that weren't specifically gay, and yes, yes, I know one should support the community, that there's an extra value in it being gay that one is paying for (and which there's absolutely no reason to pay for if you're not gay), etc. etc. But when you're counting the pennies, and as a poverty struck journalist I usually am when I'm abroad, it can grate a bit, especially when I think of the really interesting food places I could be at.

(This also applies to one of the few restaurants in India that I could count as gay - in the sense that its run by an openly gay couple, so one hopes its gay friendly. Its a small place in Bangalore called Sunny’s that serves pasta and pastries and stuff like that. The food is good and when they opened I gave it a rave review, but subsequently I’ve gone off the place. Its really quite snooty and now seems totally over priced, confirming my feelings about gay restaurants).

Changing the topic slightly from gay restaurants, to how gay people interact with restaurants, in India restaurants provide some of the few semi private places where many gay people can meet. Its a cliché to say that India is where the US was in the Fifties. It is in some ways - the gay scene is still largely closeted. Yet there's also a level of organisation and a certain imposed openness because of the influence of the gay movement abroad and because of AIDS which has forced the government to recognise that homosexuals exist, and to provide some level of support.

So there are a lot more people coming out of the closet, and gay groups getting off the ground, but the common problem many of them have is where to meet. Private spaces can be hard to find in a country where most people live with their families, while public spaces might be too dangerous or, a slightly more community specific problem, too identified with cruising for anything else to happen. Which is where restaurants come in useful.

Luckily most restaurants in India wouldn't discriminate against gay people - simply because it probably wouldn't occur to anyone running the restaurant to think that their clients could be gay (which is something one can have ambivalent feelings about, but lets not get into that). And its certainly not unusual for men to be dining together. Indian restaurants also tend to be fairly respectful to their clients (unless its one of those eat fast and go places), so they're unlikely to refuse most people entry (with one caveat which I'll come to).

That's why, as I said, a lot of meetings in the gay and lesbian community here have taken place in restaurants. Some of the first activist meetings in Delhi took place in those vast gloomy coffee houses in Connaught Place in Delhi. There was a time when Gokul's in Bombay, one of the best cheap drinking places in the city (and a surprisingly good place to eat in), started becoming a really big gay hangout on Saturday's, but that backfired, probably because regular customers started objecting, so one fine day they slammed down on it.

In Bombay I’m involved with a gay support group that has good reason to be grateful to a certain restaurant chain. Years back when we were starting up, we were looking for a decent, affordable and neutral place to meet in and we hit on... McDonald’s! It certainly wasn’t my choice, but in many ways it was an ideal one. It was well known, but wasn’t dauntingly high profile, its a friendly enough place (maybe they don’t mean it, but being nice to customers is part of the training manuals) it was clean and wholesome (which sort of fit the image we wanted to convey), it was affordable (McDonald’s in India runs one of its cheapest international operations) and perhaps the international aspect helped as well!

If anyone from McD’s head office is reading this - unlikely I realise, they probably ban eGullet from their servers - then relax, you don't need to get on the phone to your Indian operations. We moved on from there to another place since it became a bit embarrassing, there were all these guys, and the occasional girls as well, sitting around a table with two burgers and a couple of packets of fries since no one particularly felt like ordering the food. But for a while at least and quite unwittingly McD had become the most gay restaurant in Bombay. (And some people still call us the McDonald’s group!)

The one caveat I had to add about the potential that Indian restaurants had for queer people was that they do become a problem when you’re dealing with people from a wide range of backgrounds and economic circumstances. Even McD’s was too expensive for some of the people who wanted to come for the meetings. It is also a sad fact that even the most welcoming of restaurants would probably draw the line at admitting members of the hijra community - what’s usually translated, not entirely accurately, as India’s traditional eunuch community, but its more like a community of transgender people at a really grass root level, who have existed in India for centuries, but always marginalised to the fringes of society where they have to make a living from dancing, begging and commercial sex work.

This really hit me some years back when I started to get friendly with one of the most charismatic hijras here, a real diva of a lady, always resplendently dressed and with fantastic poise. I’d met her at the main gay support organisation in Bombay, and we had vaguely talked about meeting somewhere in town at some point. And then I realised I could think of almost no place that would have allowed her in, except the most basic eating places where we could hardly talk. Perhaps she might have brazened it out, or passed as a woman, but the chance of being chucked out was always there.

Which is why I’d like to end by giving a big thumbs up to the one restaurant I know of in India which allows anyone in, and serves pretty good food too. Koshy’s is a Bangalore institution, a huge cavernous place that’s been around since the Fifties and doesn’t seemed to have changed in anyway since then. Its the crossroads for the city (or the old city, not the glitzy new one packed with high-tech companies and call centres), open through the day, where everyone comes to meet, eat or just see who else is there. Surprisingly, given all the taboos around drinking in India, its one place which serves alcohol, but hasn’t got a sleazy reputation for that. Most restaurants that serve alcohol aren’t seen as acceptable place for ‘respectable’ women to go to, but there’s no problem at Koshy’s - the management maintains iron discipline on that.

Koshy’s has a very relaxed policy on ordering - you can sit for hours over a pot of tea, though around lunchtime they might ask you to take a break and come back (over the same pot!) after the lunch crowd has gone. The food is pretty good and very wide ranging, from the Brit breakfast options of strong tea and eggs and big wedges of toast, to the Indian ones of Kerala appams and stew (the guy who was till recently chief minister of the state - the governor equivalent - would come in for that) to the most reliably good fish curry in Bangalore, to some more obscure dishes - its one of only two places I know of which serves Coorgi pandi curry, a rare Indian pork dish (wild boar originally, and still sometimes accordingly to the owner).

And my best memories of Koshy’s are sitting there eating this fish curry with a tableful of gay guys, including a couple of really funny queens, so you can imagine we weren’t exactly quiet or discreet, but the waiters didn’t bat an eyelid and the people at the neighbouring tables didn’t care either. Even better was coming across a table full of staffers from one of the local queer support groups, including some hijras. This was one rare place they could go, and thumbs up to Koshy’s for that.

Vikram

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"Dubbed the No. 1 lesbian restaurant in the country by Girlfriends magazine, Tu Tu is as much resource as restaurant."

Tu Tu Venu

I'll try it one of these days soon and report back in the NY Forum - my only reason for not going there is that they never advertise, it falls under the radar and I forget to try it out (not to mention that only one restaurant in town has the iced coffee with condensed milk that I crave and I keep going there repeatedly).

Wow, are they still around? That's great to see. I was living in Syracuse back when they first opened in 1993 or thereabouts, and remember the owners too. Also had a meal there as well though don't recall what it was. They did run the one lesbian bar in the city at the time, and had to close it when another one opened up and became the In place to be. Thus Tu Tu Venue was born as a different business which would attract gay men as well as lesbians, rather than suffer the same fate of every subsequent new lesbian bar.

Such is the way it always goes in most cities in the US. Even here in liberal Seattle, there's only one lesbian bar nowadays. Among other things, we just don't have the same capacity for drink that the boyz do. :wink:

As for Vikram's comments about feeling ripped off in gay establishments, among other things, I suspect people in the US are just used to that because many of the old time gay bars during the Stonewall days used to be run by the Mafia in cahoots with corrupt police. But overall, I agree about the economics being a much greater factor for people in other countries in terms of having safe public space. I'm thinking especially of an essay I read sometime ago about the scene for lesbians in Thailand, and it was clear that going to a bar or club was for the wealthier set. Plus there is the extremely close-knit community and family to think about. Always difficult to explain to non-Asians whether gay or straight.

Pat

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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Wow, are they still around? That's great to see. I was living in Syracuse back when they first opened in 1993 or thereabouts, and remember the owners too. Also had a meal there as well though don't recall what it was. They did run the one lesbian bar in the city at the time, and had to close it when another one opened up and became the In place to be. Thus Tu Tu Venue was born as a different business which would attract gay men as well as lesbians, rather than suffer the same fate of every subsequent new lesbian bar.

As recently as a month or so ago, their sign was still up and I assuemd they were still open for business. I went by there this AM on my morning espresso run and notice that the signs are gone and the rest of the building also looks empty (they were only one of a several tenants). Syracuse is far more progressive than it once was but I suspect there is still a market for such an establishment. Not sure what's behind the closing.

Such is the way it always goes in most cities in the US. Even here in liberal Seattle, there's only one lesbian bar nowadays.

I had a rather humorous experience late one night after the Bumbershoot when I went walking with some friends in search of cheap eats. We walked up the hill to Seven Coins, assuming it was a glorified diner and getting a bit of sticker shock when we saw the menu. In our subsequent search for a better option, I spotted a tavern in a big old house not far away and suggested we venture in and ask some patrons for suggestions. It turned out to be a Country & Western gay bar. It was so incongruous and weird to me - a Country & Western bar in downtown Seattle?!!! (the fact that it was a gay bar was cool but I still couldn't get over the whole C & W thing with all these couples wearing matching Western outfits etc.).

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Among other things, we just don't have the same capacity for drink that the boyz do.

Things are slightly different here! In my experience, its the girls who are doing the serious drinking (I keep bottles of India's excellent Old Monk rum almost exclusively for them), while the boyz are fooling around with lighter stuff (or each other).

Vikram

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It turned out to be a Country & Western gay bar. It was so incongruous and weird to me - a Country & Western bar in downtown Seattle?!!! (the fact that it was a gay bar was cool but I still couldn't get over the whole C & W thing with all these couples wearing matching Western outfits etc.).

and now for your moment of zen.....

imagine a bunch of gay men in matching western outfits doing a line-dancing exhibition in the midst of a crowded rush hour gym in Atlanta. No Rhyme or reason...just line-dancing.

vikram - that was an excellent post. I'm glad Koshy's is there too. :smile:

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In Long Beach, CA there's a cafe, called The Library, that has lots of little tables and chairs, squashy, comfy sofas and bookshelves full of old books. I think also a piano. Mostly gay men, but also a couple heteros and lesbians. Lots of people doing homework, or using laptops. Nobody really bothers anyone else.

Down the road, there's a really good Italian cafe that I went to with some egullet folks a while back, and the food is actually better, but I come back to the Library for a good read, maybe some tea and dessert. And the comfy sofas.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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As recently as a month or so ago, their sign was still up and I assuemd they were still open for business. I went by there this AM on my morning espresso run and notice that the signs are gone and the rest of the building also looks empty (they were only one of a several tenants).

Well drat. Even so, a 12 year run is still great. I hope they've moved onto something else.

Syracuse is far more progressive than it once was but I suspect there is still a market for such an establishment. Not sure what's behind the closing.

So I've heard. I'm glad some things are changing for the better. I still remember marching in their first Pride parade, there were 12 of us total. Then in subsequent years the numbers doubled each time, until they stood steady at around 300 - 400 people.

I had a rather humoropus experience late one night after the Bumbershoot when I went walking with some friends in earch of cheap eats. We walked up the hill to Seven Coins, assuming it was a glorified diner and getting a bit of sticker shock when we saw the menu.  In our subsequent search for a better option, I spotted a  tavern in a big old house not far away and suggested we venture in and ask some patrons for suggestions. It turned out to be a Country & Western gay bar. It was so incongruous and weird to me - a Country & Western bar in downtown Seattle?!!! (the fact that it was a gay bar was cool but I still couldn't get over the whole C & W thing with all these couples wearing matching Western outfits etc.).

The C&W thing has never much made sense to me either, it's also been around for awhile now. Tu Tu Venu's owners used to host women's C&W nights too back when they ran Sassy's, complete with instructor. But then, I also remember perfectly heterosexual Yanqui cow-orkers eagerly pawing through C&W catalogs looking to accessorize their wardrobes (this would be the time when Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt were making their first pop-country waves), so why not homosexual Yanquis.

That no actual cows or ranching were involved in any of the above in Seattle or Syracuse never seemed to matter.

Anyway, the one bonafide olde tyme Gay Restaurant I can think of now here in Seattle is Sonya's downtown near Pike Place Market. It's mostly older gay men who go there.

Pat

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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I'm surprised nobody's mentioned AsiaSF Restaurant in San Francisco. Drag queens, oh I'm sorry, "gender illusionists" serve your food until it's their turn to do a dance number on the bar. And apparently, they really do a number on that bar.

Or so I've been told. I haven't been there, but the people that have recommended this place to me have all been straight white guys, FWIW. I read in reviews that the food sucks, but one of my friends said the ice cream trio was decent. And a burger. Okay, so you're not going for the food.

--oh wait, now that I think about it, it's only one straight white guy that likes this place. but he likes it a lot. i forget who else told me they liked it.

Edited by jschyun (log)

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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I still remember marching in their first Pride parade, there were 12 of us total. Then in subsequent years the numbers doubled each time, until they stood steady at around 300 - 400 people.

I think the numbers are still at 300 - 400 for the Syracuse parade but the festivities after the parade draw a few thousand (so the media says). It was a busy weekend in downtown Syracuse with the Juneteenth festivities and the Pride Parade occurring simultaneously on different streets and the Jewish Festival happening the next day..

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In Long Beach, CA there's a cafe, called The Library, that has lots of little tables and chairs, squashy, comfy sofas and bookshelves full of old books. I think also a piano. Mostly gay men, but also a couple heteros and lesbians. Lots of people doing homework, or using laptops. Nobody really bothers anyone else.

Down the road, there's a really good Italian cafe that I went to with some egullet folks a while back, and the food is actually better, but I come back to the Library for a good read, maybe some tea and dessert. And the comfy sofas.

Very comfy sofas there. I used to go there with my roommates if it was late enough that the Coffee Cup wasn't still serving breakfast. Never really noticed the clientele one way or the other, but then most of my friends at the time were gay, so I was used to being the token straight person :wink:

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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I feel like Tommy might know this...there's a great neighborhood bar on the west end of W4th that just happens to be a lesbian bar. It's relaxed, not divey but not swank either. Can't remember the name. It's not the bars on Hudson, but on one of the side streets.

Jenny -

The CubbyHole, maybe?

enrevanche <http://enrevanche.blogspot.com>

Greenwich Village, NYC

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.

- Mark Twain

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  • 11 months later...

Well, this is an old thread, but I thought I'd pick it up by recommending Anthony's, in Birmingham, AL. I used to wait tables there, and the food very good, but not great, but Billy at the bar is a pure-A genius and his partner Kevin, the manager, is a good guy. It was definately nice being in a place where I felt not just accepted, but part of a larger community.....

edit:

Oops, just called Anthony's and Kevin and Billy are long gone. It is now "The Jazz Club", and I assume no longer a "gay restaurant".

Edited by afn33282 (log)
Frau Farbissma: "It's a television commercial! With this cartoon leprechaun! And all of these children are trying to chase him...Hey leprechaun! Leprechaun! We want to get your lucky charms! Haha! Oh, and there's all these little tiny bits of marshmallow just stuck right in the cereal so that when the kids eat them, they think, 'Oh this is candy! I'm having fun!'"
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Philadelphia has it's share of "gay" restaurants, however, many of them attract quite a mixed clientele because they are some of the better establishments in town.  Judy's, The Inn Philadelphia, Astral Plane, L2, Key West,  Bump, and the Venture Inn all come to mind.

As someone posted to this thread today, it gave me an opportunity to view this post two years later--and to note that a fair bit has changed.

Of the establishments listed above:

Judy's just had its farewell celebration a week or two ago.

The Inn Philadelphia closed about a month back (the day I called you, Katie, an acquaintance was giving me the backstory behind its closing).

The Astral Plane is still going strong. Along with Friday Saturday Sunday, it's the last survivor of the 1970s Restaurant Renaissance still in business.

L2, if I'm not mistaken, is also no more.

Key West serves a lunch menu, but I really wouldn't consider it a restaurant any more. It's now a bar that serves food. In which case, Woody's also belongs on this list.

Bump has established itself as a popular hangout and good place to eat. The two-for-one entree/dinner specials two nights a week are also a plus.

The Venture Inn is also still in business, and drawing decent patronage in the restaurant, but it's not as packed as it once was, and the bar has seen its patronage drop as well. Some of this is due to the place's reputation as a hangout for older men ("The Denture Inn"). Owner Ted Wasserman, I hear, would like to sell the business.

The Westbury Bar (13th and Spruce) should also be on this list, for it has a full lunch and dinner menu.

A couple of other restaurants do not explicitly identify themselves as "gay restaurants" but are known for attracting sizable gay patronage: Mixto, on Pine just east of 12th, and Valanni, on Spruce between Camac and 13th.

One item worth noting for non-Pennsylvanians reading along: Philadelphia has long had an unusually high number of gay bars that serve food. This is due to a provision in the state liquor code that requires that bars derive at least 1/3 of their revenues from the sale of food in order to open on Sundays.

I used to be the token straight chick on the staff at the local leather bar when they owned and ran the Cafe next door several years ago.  Probably explains why not a whole lot phases me anymore  :blink: .

As I recall, the Bike Stop didn't run that restaurant for too long. But I forget whether it preceded or followed the gay restaurant run (if you can call it that) by David Fattah in that same space.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Belatedly...yes, that's the one! Good times.

Here in DC, the Logan Circle vicinity is extremely gay-friendly. When I visit Logan Tavern or Merkado (same ownership, just doors apart), I am definitely in the minority as a straight woman. The food can only be described as good, not great, but both spots have a convivial vibe.

I feel like Tommy might know this...there's a great neighborhood bar on the west end of W4th that just happens to be a lesbian bar.  It's relaxed, not divey but not swank either.  Can't remember the name.  It's not the bars on Hudson, but on one of the side streets.

Jenny -

The CubbyHole, maybe?

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Lucky Changs and Good Friends in New Orleans -- plus many others, I'm sure.

Hubby and I happened upon Le Petit Prince in the Latin Quarter in Paris in 1998. He had been deployed for three months, and we met up in Paris, so we were quite oblivious to all the blatant signs around us -- a framed picture of a rainbow-striped banana atop a column, the business card with a Renoir-esque painting of a group of men dining together. We laughed at our own cluelessness once we left. Of course, I suppose this also means that the staff treated straights and gays equally well. In fact, the maitre'd also seemed happy to speak English once he heard my feeble French, so they were probably one of the more American-friendly places we patronized in Paris.

Can't say I know of any gay restaurants in Annapolis.

Bridget Avila

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  • 2 years later...

Seattle, where I lived for many years, had (and possibly still does have) several gay restaurants, though only one of them as far as I know (the Cadillac Grille) actually advertised as such. It existed earlier under a different name. There was a place, Charlie's on Broadway, which had, I think, a higher proportion of gays than other places. It was decent food, as others have said, not stellar but decent, and a bit of a fancy atmosphere. There was also a Chinese place that was probably more known for its rather hard-drinkers' bar, Jimmy Woo's (?) Jade Pagoda. I was told they had a decent hamburger; it was pretty good. One day I made the mistake of actually ordering a Chinese dish there. It was pretty much the worst incarnation of Cantonese-American I ever had. Kung-pao chicken in a thick sweet and (I think) flour gravy. :blink:

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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There's been a flurry of activity on the street floor of my building at the 12th and Locust corner: Knock, the new restaurant owned by Bill Wood (the "Woody" formerly of Woody's, Philly's default gay bar), has had three consecutive dry-run private parties these past three nights. It officially opens for cocktails tomorrow and for dinner Saturday, according to Wood.

I don't know whether Woody intends this place to be a "gay restaurant," but it is sure to be very gay-friendly. Given that many Woody's customers have expressed disappointment with changes made by that bar's new owners, I expect to see a decent crowd in the bar starting on Day One, even though he is running this as a restaurant first and foremost. Woody's had a reputation for serving very good pub fare and an excellent Sunday brunch, so I expect Knock (get it?) to offer no less. Woody's current owners, two brothers (one gay, one straight) who own two other popular gay clubs, one of which has a pretty good restaurant (Bump, mentioned upthread), thankfully haven't messed with the food. Yet.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I'm not sure which ones are gay restaurants in Washington DC, but I'm sure there are some.  Haven't noticed yet...

There was a rather intriguing one on P Street NW just west of Dupont Circle that I passed by this past spring (I was in town for a joint performance of the Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus and the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington). It had several good reviews posted inside the entrance. I didn't jot down its name. Most of what's now on the stretch of P Street between Dupont Circle and Rock Creek Park wasn't there when I was last in Washington.

I also have this vague recollection that the Paramount Steak House on 16th Street NW just down from the "Soviet Safeway" also draws a predominantly gay clientele -- if it's still open.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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In my first post on this thread, I went into some of the history of gay restaurants, but it is very clear from the following posts that gay restaurants still exist, even though gay people aren't banned from other establishments.  I would suggest, therefore, that gay restaurants are where gay people gather to dine and interact socially.  As with any other restaurant, the social experience is a major part of the whole, at times more important than the food itself.  It's easier to find these restaurants in areas where the gay population has reached a certain critical mass, such as P'town, the Castro, and West Hollywood, but they can exist elsewhere as well.

Montreal used to have a number of de facto gay restaurants spread around the city. In the late '70s, for example, there was Au Jardin, a vegetarian restaurant on the Plateau, and TipTop, That Great Canadian Cafe and, if I recall correctly, the Limelight (not the disco of the same name) in western downtown plus others in the Mile End and nothern Plateau neighbourhoods. In the years since, the booming gay scene has become concentrated in the so-called Village east of downtown, where there are restaurants galore. What's interesting is how many of them are mediocre or worse and yet do a land-office business. Is it because of the captive audience (ghetto mentality)? Dining taking a back seat to convenience (proximity to bars, saunas, shops, community organizations and home)? Your theory that good food is not necessarily the raison d'être of such places? Probably all of the above. There are also parallels to be drawn with the city's hetero see-and-be-scenery strips like St-Laurent north of Sherbrooke and Crescent between Ste-Catherine and Sherbrooke: a handful of decent dining spots in a sea of dreck.

Hi Carswell--

Yeah, I don't get this. There are basically three kinds of "gay restaurants" in Montreal:

--Gay owned and operated and neighbourhood places, like La Paryse, the hamburger joint on Ontario that is a sheer delight, and has been for many, many years.

--Places that happen to be in gay neighbourhoods (may or may not be gay owned/operated) that serve *awesome* food, like Miyako on Amherst, or Brunoise in the Village, but then you have...

--...The mystifying Category Three restos, which are in gay neighbourhoods, and may or may not be gay owned/operated, but where the food is just short of awful! I'm not trying to put anyone out of business here, but quite a few of the restos on Ste-Catherine in the Village (Piccolo Diavolo, Mi Burrito, Saloon, Est Asie, &c.) have food that is opver-priced and just not very good.

This is especially mystifying to me considering the pervasive stereotypes that gay men (and lesbians to a lesser extent) are supposed to have so much disposable income, and to be so discriminating with re: to food and drink, etc. The best example of this is the resto at Sky, called Food. OMG their food is soo rude, not fresh, not interesting, expen$ive, over-salted and their wine is marked up like 400%. I feel so embarassed and badly for the hardworking folks in the kitchen there...

This is a total mystery to me.

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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It turned out to be a Country & Western gay bar. It was so incongruous and weird to me - a Country & Western bar in downtown Seattle?!!! (the fact that it was a gay bar was cool but I still couldn't get over the whole C & W thing with all these couples wearing matching Western outfits etc.).

Ah, you found the Timberline! It was in the old Sons of Norway Lodge. It was an amazing place really.

Anyway, the one bonafide olde tyme Gay Restaurant I can think of now here in Seattle is Sonya's downtown near Pike Place Market. It's mostly older gay men who go there.

Hehe I never got up the courage to go to Sonia's. I heard it was a real hard drinking sort of place (lots of bars in that area were, whatever the orientation of the clientele).

I just remember Cafe Flora too - Kind of upscale, very nice food.

Here in Istanbul there have been several attempts at gay cafes and cafe-restaurants. One (with the rather unfortunate name of "Cafe Cute") was quite nice, really good teas and homemade desserts; and a very comfortable low-key atmosphere. But they started having trouble with the wrong sort of clientele so the owner turned it into a regular restaurant, with unfortunately nothing much to recommend it.

There is another factor at work too - the neighborhood in which most of the gay places in Istanbul are located is a once-seedy area that has now become increasingly gentrified. Before, places there always had a sleazy edge. So when people were "pioneering" there in the early and mid 90s, there suddenly were lots of comfortable, laid back places (of all persuasions) in grand old buildings that were comfortably restored. Now it has become very upscale; some places that were medium range and comfortable have now become very slick and unaffordable. Generally, there seems to be the idea here that if a place is gay, it need be nothing else - it will be expensive, crappy food, serving four-dollar nescafe.

People also tend not to really have any idea of what sort of space they want to create, or what is really comfortable. So they simply rely on ideas about what's trendy, or on stereotypes. This means places that feel like a bus station during an acid trip, or froofy furniture and hot pink walls... One proprieter, a pot-bellied moustached macho guy from Siirt, told me he was opening a place. It was in an older building with wood floors and walls and unusually-shaped rooms; it had real possibilities. I went in a few weeks later and that great room was full of heart-shaped pastel chairs, and long swaths of sparkling chiffon draped through the rafters. I asked him "What's with all this?" He said "well, it's a gay place so it needs to be gay!" "Is your house like this?" I asked him. Of course it wasn't. "Do you think you are the only gay person who doesn't surround himself with pink chiffon?" :) But he was convinced it had to be that way; even though there are popular clubs that are not like that, there is this idea that the only cafes gay people would want to frequent must be places where Strawberry Shortcake would hang out. The only ones with non-irritating decor are run by Lesbians. :)

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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BTW, for any of you following the Philly restaurant scene:

I posted a writeup of Knock last night. As the place wasn't serving dinner, this is more of a preview than a review, but it does give you a feel for the place.

Knowing the owner's track record, I predict this place will fall in the top category of gus_tatory's gay restaurant hierarchy.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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