Best Local Corporation
No, it's not the high-paying, cubicle- imprisoning contract work that makes Microsoft king of Seattle companies. Nor is it the millionaire-before-35 Gilded Age ennui that makes the software giant so lovable. It's not even the fact that worker bees at the Mothership get free pop and chocolate milk. It's the lifestyle! It's the picnic! Yes, ask former M'soft wage trolls (at least the ones we know) what kept them in the game so long, and they'll tell you it's the amazing annual picnic, and the corollary fact that Mother Micro provided them with a social life when they never would have had one on their own—so much better than the picnic and social life you might get at, say, Boeing or Safeco. Employers, remember: Picnics are important. P.D.
Second place: Starbucks
Best Steak House
(820 Second, 624-3287)
Mark Hipkiss, executive chef at the Metropolitan Grill, stands behind his meat. "It's probably the best beef I've ever had," he contends. He thinks the aging process has a lot to do with the quality of his beef. We think he's probably right. The beef, mostly prime cut from corn-fed Nebraska cattle, is hauled to K & N Meats in Renton, where it's put through a rigorous 28-day dry-aging process especially for Metropolitan Grill. Well-aged, moist, and flavorful, the beef is then ready for its next adventure with the Metropolitan Grill's open-fire mesquite grill—one of the few left outside Kansas City. It's here, with a little luck and a whole lotta love, that Hipkiss and his crew transform the well-aged beef into the quality steak you voted for. K.M.
Second place: Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (800 Fifth, 624-8524)
(100 Denny Way, 284-0931)
The only time I had a martini at Tini Biggs, I had 14. I was part of a media tasting to help this prize-winning Queen Anne bar choose new concoctions for its lengthy martini menu (yeah, work really does suck sometimes). The varied recipes used a whole wallful of ingredients, from Goldschlager to tequila to Kahlua, with results that would make James Bond croak (the bartender told me that less than 10 percent of the bar's martinis are made with gin). But if it's OK to call something a martini simply because of the glass it's served in, I'm not going to complain. A drink is a drink is a drink, and some of these were pretty damn tasty. Tradition be damned. A.V.B.
Second place: Marcus' Martini Heaven (88 Yesler Way, 624-3323)
Best Local Politician
GOV. GARY LOCKE
What is it with Seattle Weekly readers and Gary Locke? Year after year, we write nasty articles about the governor and how he never does anything, and he doesn't stand for anything, and he doesn't act like a Democrat from a liberal city like Seattle should, and year after year our readers pronounce him their favorite politician. Did anyone check the return addresses on those ballots? Can we get a handwriting sample from Mona? Despite our squawking, Locke epitomizes the politics of our time. This is an age of lesser government. Voters want smaller, technocratic solutions, not grand visions from activist politicians. The key to understanding Locke's continuing popularity, not only with our readers but also with voters statewide, is to comprehend that he genuinely is a perfect match for this political moment. G.H.
Second place: Greg Nickels
Never mind best, what makes a freeway even "good"? Presumably, the absence of all the characteristics that make for a "bad" freeway: traffic jams, endless road construction (cough, I-5), low speed limits, and, worse, hypervigilant state troopers. I-90, the supreme freeway, has none of these things. Its lanes are wide and relatively clear, save some unavoidable after-work congestion on the Eastside; its speed limit, 70 mph in most places, won't put a cramp in your lead foot; and, provided your tabs are up-to-date and you're not fleeing a bank robbery, the cops tend to stay off your tail. I-90 goes straight on through to Boston, so if you fancy an adventure, skip that tired old Issaquah exit and flirt with destiny. Go ahead, do it. K.M.
Second place: "You must be kidding"
Best Place to Get Your Shoes Shined
(500 Pine, 628-2111)
Shoe polish was invented by George Washington Carver in the late 1800s and popularized by William Ramsay decades later. Ramsay named his shoe polish brand Kiwi in honor of his wife, a New Zealand native, because the kiwi is the national bird and official emblem of New Zealand. Kiwi polish achieved global eminence during the world wars. Shortly after the two atomic bombs were dropped, the Australia-based Kiwi polish company opened a manufacturing plant in the U.S., in Philadelphia, and began distributing the substance in black, brown, and neutral. Kiwi is now the best-selling shoe polish product in the world, and it is a registered trademark of the Sara Lee Corporation. The kiwi bird, for its part in all this, has wings but cannot fly. The kiwi fruit is a hairy green produce item available at Pike Place Market, which is within walking distance of the downtown Nordstrom, which is where people get their shoes shined before work—which is a good idea if you work for one of nearly 80 percent of corporate executives who believe well-maintained shoes are crucial to a person's success. C.F.
Second place: Sea-Tac Airport
Best Luxury Car Dealership
BARRIER MOTORS and PHIL SMART MERCEDES-BENZ (tie)
(11850 Bel-Red Rd., Bellevue, 425-455-2211 and 14600 N.E. 24th, Bellevue, 425-643-3000)
(600 E. Pike, 324-5959)
There are few things more embarrassing than a pansy in a Porsche. I mean, if you're going to drop a wad on a fancy car, you'd better know how to drive it. Barrier Motors' Jimmy Barrier knows that, and he's doing something about it. It's called Track Days—four days at the Seattle International Raceway to teach Barrier customers how to drive their new toys. Subsidized by Volvo and marketed as a safe-driving workshop, Track Days sounds more like an excuse to drive expensive cars really, really fast. Driving instructors from Pacific Rim ProFormance race school instruct car owners on a slalom course, on a braking and handling course, and on "hot laps" around the SIR track. Too bad there's no course to prepare car owners for Eastside traffic. K.M.
Second place: BMW
Best Dry Cleaner
(2756 N.E. 45th, 524-7555)
What the hell is dry cleaning? Most of us cling desperately to our ignorance, understanding only that it has something to do with chemicals (but not H2O, apparently). It's magic, and what better totem for this than the sleek, cunning fox? Bring her your soiled silks, spattered with last night's soup, port, and blood, and she'll take care of everything at the right price. We go home and reflect on the importance of cleanliness, its proximity to godliness, etc., for several days before returning for our absolved garments. The claim ticket seems superfluous and charming in a retro way; surely they have the means to identify their clients by their DNA samples. But then, perhaps, our ignorance would be breached and our dry cleaning innocence lost forever. R.L.
Second place (tie): Ange's French Cleaners (2000 Ninth, 622-6727) and Corry's (various locations)
Best Downtown Parking Lot
(Sixth and Pine)
One supposes the best parking lot was chosen by Weekly readers on the basis of economics rather than aesthetics; aesthetics are sadly overlooked with regard to parking lots. While Pacific Place is a fine spot to park your automobile under the ground safely and inexpensively (thanks, taxpayers!), and perhaps indulge in some subterranean in-car reefer smoking prior to venturing into the mall to see a bad movie, the parking lot of the Bon, which won second place, has fabulous corkscrew ramps to tear up and down, as well as an open-air rooftop level with what is doubtless the best view of any parking lot anywhere—gleaming Sound! Tall buildings! Etc.! B.J.C.
Second Place: The Bon March頨Third and Stewart)
Best Political Cause
Forty years young and still looking sleek and futuristic as the day they laid her concrete pylons in the ground, the existing Monorail has never failed to capture Seattle's collective imagination. Can you imagine people parading through the streets at the Fremont Festival dressed up as a light-rail train? One reason we love the hypothetical monorail: It's a populist fantasy writ large, a concrete-and-steel monument to the power of people, armed with a popular idea, to effect changes in the city's political landscape. If voters say yes to monorail a third time this November, a new system, trimmer and more graceful than its 1962 downtown-to-Seattle- Center sibling, could become the next Seattle icon. E.C.B.
Second place: Transportation (hmm)
Best Golf Course
THE GOLF CLUB AT NEWCASTLE
(15500 Six Penny Lane, Newcastle, 425-793-GOLF)
One of the great things about the driving range at the Golf Club at Newcastle is the sound of birds chirping in the trees overhead. Here, the clubhouse is designed to look like a Scottish castle, the boys in black pants and white shirts aren't called "caddies" but "assistant golf pros," and the on-premises Calcutta Grill serves large crab cakes with a tart Fuji apple relish. This property, now a rolling green hillside with two 18-hole courses and an entire creek running through it, used to be a landfill. There is a cigar house that has a huge oblong television and a huger fireplace. Yearly membership dues are $6,500, and there is a dress code. Oh, and about those chirping birds in the driving range: It's a sound effect, piped in through speakers. Look up. See? No birds. C.F.
Second place: Interbay Golf Center (2501 15th W., 285-2200)