Critic’s Guide to Beloved LGBTQ+-Owned Restaurants

Trip to Thailand: Chef Noopy Areerak, left, and entertainer Billy Manthy, owner of Malakor Thai Café in Northwood, renewed their wedding vows in Yasothon’s home province of Areerak earlier this year.

When I think of restaurants with heartbeats, I think of places driven by family and good friends and great love stories. A few come to mind now during Pride Month, when we celebrate the contributions of America’s LGBTQ+ communities.

I can think of various LGBTQ+ owned restaurants that are not only driven by great love stories, but also by great food. They deserve our attention all year round, especially in June when they shine brightest.

Malakor Thai Cafe

Chef Noopy Areerak, left, and her husband Billy Manthy share a moment in Yasothon, Thailand, where they remarried earlier this year.  The couple own Malakor Thai Café in the Northwood neighborhood of West Palm Beach.

Chef Noopy Areerak, left, and her husband Billy Manthy share a moment in Yasothon, Thailand, where they remarried earlier this year. The couple own Malakor Thai Café in the Northwood neighborhood of West Palm Beach.

Artist Billy Manthy and chef Noopy Areerak opened this charming Thai restaurant 11 years ago. It’s been a favorite of the Northwood Village neighborhood ever since. If you’ve ever eaten Malakor’s green papaya salad, you know why.

The married couple continue to draw inspiration from Thailand’s native Areerak, where they grew up amidst the jasmine rice paddies of Yasothon province in the northeast of the country. In fact, it’s where Areerak and Manthy remarried earlier this year in a traditional Thai ceremony.

The trip was joyous all around, says Areerak.

“I saw my mother for the first time when I was 18,” says the chef.

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Malakor restaurant owners Noopy Areerak, left, and Billy Manthy, right, pay their respects to Areerak's mother, Chanton Areerak, in Yasothon, Thailand.

Malakor restaurant owners Noopy Areerak, left, and Billy Manthy, right, pay their respects to Areerak’s mother, Chanton Areerak, in Yasothon, Thailand.

He and Manthy first married in New York in 2013, two years after opening Malakor in Northwood. Renewing vows in Areerak’s hometown, surrounded by loved ones and blessed by local monks, “brings us full circle,” Manthy said in a Facebook post.

The couple own a string of restaurants in South Florida, including 6-year-old Kao Gang in Palm Beach Gardens, months-old Malakor Thai Express in Loxahatchee, 3-year-old Malakor Thai Isaan in Coral Gables and the next Nour. Thai in Oakland Park.

Malakor Salad, a Thai papaya salad, is a signature dish at Malakor Thai Cafe in Northwood Village, West Palm Beach.

Malakor Salad, a Thai papaya salad, is a signature dish at Malakor Thai Cafe in Northwood Village, West Palm Beach.

What dish to try there this summer: The Malakor Salad. It combines freshly grated green papaya, peanuts, tomatoes, green beans, garlic, chilli, lime juice and palm sugar and tops it with shrimp tempura. It’s the restaurant’s star dish, in my book. Again, Malakor means papaya in Thai.

Malakor Thai Café: 425 25th St. in Northwood Village, West Palm Beach, 561-762-9070

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Table 26

Ozzie Medeiros, left, and Eddie Schmidt own and operate Table 26 in West Palm Beach.  The chic nautical-themed restaurant draws a constant Palm Beach crowd.

Ozzie Medeiros, left, and Eddie Schmidt own and operate Table 26 in West Palm Beach. The chic nautical-themed restaurant draws a constant Palm Beach crowd.

Discover the elegant and welcoming restaurant built by Ozzie Medeiros and Eddie Schmidt. Their romance spans 27 years and fuels Table 26, the South Dixie Highway restaurant they opened in 2012.

They met at a red light in New York in 1995. One night in Nantucket, 13 years later, Schmidt took a knee during a Boston Pops concert and, in front of thousands of spectators, posed at Medeiros the most important question of his life: “Do you want to get married? me?”

Medeiros’ “yes” not only transformed their life as a couple, but also sparked the events that led to the opening of Table 26. In the modern lines of the restaurant named after the latitude of Palm Beach, the focus is on the old – school hospitality.

A signature cheeseburger at Table 26 in West Palm Beach.

A signature cheeseburger at Table 26 in West Palm Beach.

What dish to try there this summer: Go for Executive Chef Martha Encarnacion’s T26 Signature Cheeseburger. It’s beautifully stacked and the smoky peppercorn aioli adds a dreamy touch.

Table 26: 1700 S. Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach, 561-855-2660

pizza girls

Phoebe Reckseit, left, and Jennifer Morales share a smile at their Pizza Girls restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens in March 2017 when they opened the location.

Phoebe Reckseit, left, and Jennifer Morales share a smile at their Pizza Girls restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens in March 2017 when they opened the location.

Partners in all things in life and pizza in the hand, Phoebe Reckseit and Jennifer Morales have been together since 1991, married since 2013. Together they created one of the most iconic pizzerias in the county, first in downtown West Palm Beach, later at Palm Beach Gardens. .

They kept the flame going even after the longtime Clematis Street location closed in August 2020.

These days, their Pizza Girls story is told in a plaza in Strip Gardens, where a mural reflects their adventures and dreams.

“The rest is his story,” he proclaims.

Pizza Girls, then: Owners Phoebe Recckseit (left) and Jennifer Morales pose for a photo outside their brand new Pizza Girls restaurant in downtown West Palm Beach on October 4, 1999.

Pizza Girls, then: Owners Phoebe Recckseit (left) and Jennifer Morales pose for a photo outside their brand new Pizza Girls restaurant in downtown West Palm Beach on October 4, 1999.

What to try there this summer: Pizza, of course! If you’re sharing with a group (or want leftovers), try the 16-inch square Sicilian pie with your choice of toppings. The dough is left to rise for 24 hours and baked twice to obtain a soft and crispy pizza.

Pizza Girls: 10965 N. Military Trail. (in the Garden Square Shoppes by PGA Boulevard), Palm Beach Gardens, 561-812-2400

Chunkay

Businesswoman Evita Thomas, left, and chef Wendy Tilkaran married on Singer Island in May 2019.

Businesswoman Evita Thomas, left, and chef Wendy Tilkaran married on Singer Island in May 2019.

Welcome to Riviera Beach’s home for Trinidadian roti and doubles, a take-out restaurant and shop owned and operated by Chef Wendy Tilkaran and his wife/business partner Evita Thomas.

They first opened the store in Lake Worth Beach in late 2020, but moved it to its current location in May 2021.

A former Trinidad and Tobago Police Department cop, Tilkaran followed her love and their shared culinary passion to South Florida in the spring of 2019. It turned out to be a happy decision not just for her and Thomas, but also for all of us. who love authentic Trinidadian soul food in Palm Beach County.

Soft, flaky paratha bread is baked at Chunkay, a new take-out store serving Trinidadian dishes. [Provided by Chunkay]

Soft, flaky paratha bread is baked at Chunkay, a new take-out store serving Trinidadian dishes. [Provided by Chunkay]

What dish to try there this summer: Flaky paratha bread or, of course, rotis! Chef Wendy fills soft roasted, toasted, hand-battered flatbreads with curried meats and vegetables. Pair them with an aromatic Trini-style sorrel jus for the full Chunkay experience.

Chunkay: 8344 Garden Road, Riviera Beach, 561-473-3710

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: LGBTQ+ Owned Restaurants in Palm Beach County: The Critic’s Guide to Restaurants

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