There's no such thing as a "gay" restaurant – no more than there are "straight" ones. Sexuality isn't really an issue when it comes to eating. There are gay-owned, gay-run or gay-friendly places to eat – no restaurant wants to alienate half its clientele! But to be certain of guaranteed open-mindedness, we suggest you check out one of these gay-friendly eateries. We present a list of some of the best places where you can go for a romantic meal, your first date, or a pre-club pig-out …
Cafe Goya, London
Gay owned and run by New Zealander Dennis, Cafe Goya has two West Indian chefs and a menu best described as cosmopolitan. This relaxed and attitude-free bar & grill has a moody ambience with cool, contemporary jazz by night. It's ideal for a romantic dinner, meeting friends for cocktails or brunch at the weekend while nursing your hangover. Cafe Goya is on three floors, with the restaurant housed in the ground floor and basement, while the top floor is reserved for private functions. Expect interesting meals with a slightly spicy edge. The bestseller is the # 12.95 house steak. The first and third Wednesdays of each month play host to a very popular over 30s Dyke Night – so ring and check for table availability.
Wilde About Oscar at The Philbeach Hotel, London
This place is smart. Denim and / or spandex is not the right look. "Smart-casual is the dress code although we're not stuffy," says the manager Ian Reynolds. Expect the finest French cuisine in the plush, garden-themed restaurant which overlooks the garden of the adjoining hotel. The menu changes every three months and a 3-course meal for two will set you back # 60-70! Definitely one for a special occasion, Wilde about Oscar is "probably the best gay restaurant in town" according to Time Out magazine. Transvestites should check out "Lipstick" – a weekly Monday dining club. It's a good idea to phone and make a reservation.
Manto Soho, London
Part of the successful group that helped put Manchester's Canal Street on the map, Manto looks like a trendy, hi-tech bar from the outside. Go upstairs to the restaurant and enjoy one of Polly's lethal Margueritas while you order from an extensive "global" menu. Pasta, salads, meat and fish dishes jostle to tempt your tastebuds in a chatty, relaxed atmosphere. Try the Classic Caesar salad or the Thai fish – nothing on the menu will leave you feeling bloated. Manto have a one-hour lunch menu at about # 10.00 per head, while dinner will set you back # 25 including drinks. The only complaint is that tables are really close to each other – but on the plus side this means you can chat up other diners without too much problem. Oh – and some of the waiters are really cute …
The Tin Drum, Brighton
In the heart of Brighton's "Gay Village", The Tin Drum couldn't help but be a very mixed place to eat. Open for breakfast through to dinner, this bar / restaurant / cafe attracts a chilled-out crowd throughout the day. The lunch menu offers zakushki – Polish bar snacks traditionally eaten with vodka or beer. Choose from gravadlax (salmon), roasted mixed peppers or delicious koftas (spicy ground beef with tomato and mustard seed relish). The dinner menu includes the very popular pork snitzel, fillets of black bream and the delicious ricotta and Roquefort ravioli. They have fresh specials every day and they do a great Sunday lunch.
Claremont Bar & Restaurant, Edinburgh
Popular gay-friendly restaurant with a science fiction theme. It serves great, home-made dishes at unbelievably reasonable prices. The menu is best described as eclectic, with everything from their famous steak pie and curry to liver and bacon. A starter and main course will only set you back about seven pounds! The restaurant is upstairs, open for business lunches and all day breakfasts. The bar hosts a very popular pub quiz every Wednesday with "huge prizes", according to the barman Kevin.
It's not lush actually, it's quite minimalist. Designed to accommodate exhibitions as well as 200 diners, the specially designed chairs have been named after the restaurant and have gone on to sell in smart furniture outlets around the country. Julie the manageress describes the cuisine as "New English Fusion" – your guess is as good as ours. Favorite dishes include the crispy duck pizza with plum and hoisin sauce and the hot chocolate fudge fondue dessert. A fabulous Sunday lunch is available at # 6.95 while dinner will set you back about # 20 per head. It's advisable to book as Lush gets very busy.