Indieville— Readers' Picks

Best Independent Music Store

SONIC BOOM

(3414 Fremont N., 547-BOOM and 2209 Market, 297-BOOM)

When Nabil Ayers and Jason Hughes opened the first Sonic Boom on 36th Street in Fremont back in 1997, they were just hoping that they'd be able to stay afloat and eventually eke out a slightly bigger paycheck than the ones they were getting slinging records at someone else's store. At the time 26 and 25, respectively, the two friends had a little trouble finding financing in the beginning, but several credit cards and several years later, the pair are a rock and roll success story; they moved the Fremont store to that neighborhood's main drag in March 2000, and their Ballard location will celebrate its first year this October. Of his knowledgeable, well-versed staff, Hughes says, "The people that work here really do love music." As do, we might add, those that shop there. L.C.

Second place: Easy Street (20 Mercer, 691-3279 and 4559 California S.W., 938-3279)

Best Independent Coffeehouse

DIVA ESPRESSO BAR

(4480 Fauntleroy S.W., 937-5225; 7916 Greenwood N., 781-1213; 4615 Stone Way N., 632-7019)

When I was in high school, I knew a girl named Emily who worked at Diva Espresso in West Seattle. On summer nights, when we had nothing to do, my friends and I would visit Emily at Diva. "Hey Emily," we'd say, moping in. We'd sit down and read Diva's books on the meanings of our birth dates, while Emily made coffee for her customers. A half-hour before closing we'd ask her in puppy-dog unison, "Can we play Hacky Sack in here?" She'd take a deep sigh and say, "OK. Just don't break anything." We'd smile, get up, hack away, and listen to the Violent Femmes while night fell and Emily yelled, "Be careful!" It's a lovely summer memory for me, and I hope Diva provides the world with many more. S.P.R.

Second place: Caffe Ladro (various locations)

Best Independent Grocery Store

PCC

(various locations)

"Do you have an Advantage Card?" If these words make you want to crown your local supermarket cashier with a freakishly large genetically enhanced pineapple, a better path awaits you. Sure, PCC might irk some with the "Are you a member?" routine and the hippie vibe (what's the deal with flax, anyway?), but their people-powered co-op really is a good thing. Check out this lovely mission statement: "PCC Natural Markets provide the highest quality natural foods and products. We create and cultivate the marketplace for locally grown and organic products and are a vital community resource on food, nutrition, and environmental issues." Ahhhh. Though "natural" and "organic" may be words that appear with increasing frequency at large supermarket chains, your health and well-being really are in better hands at PCC. P.F.

Second place: Ballard Market (1400 N.W. 56th, 783-7922)

Best Place to Buy Vinyl

EASY STREET RECORDS

(20 Mercer, 691-3279 and 4559 California S.W., 938-3279)

Slightly curious, dear readers, that you would select this pair of stores as your LP HQ. Curious because the West Seattle location does not currently carry records (although their vinyl section is slated to re-open in August), and the new Queen Anne store has hardly been open long enough to endear itself to you. Perhaps you're quicker studies than we think. Perhaps. But perhaps you have not considered Bop Street on Ballard Avenue, the Fremont Antique Mall, Jive Time, and Fallout. Plenty of places will sell you vinyl—hell, Home Depot will sell you vinyl—but these places specialize in it. Better luck next year. L.C.

Second place: Sonic Boom (3414 Fremont N., 547-BOOM and 2209 Market, 297-BOOM)

Best Rock Music Venue

SHOWBOX

(1426 First, 628-0221)

In my beat-up copy of Webster's Dictionary, the third definition given for the word "best" is "Greatest: Largest." With the capacity to hold 1,100 eardrum- rattled spectators, the Showbox is indeed the Greatest: It's the largest venue in town, so props to you, readers, for recognizing that. Aside from being simply the biggest space, the 63-year-old structure has a vaguely romantic near-antiquity that goes really well with say, Botch—and you're not just talking about the worn-in rest rooms. From Spiritualized to DJ Shadow, you say good music just sounds better under domed ceilings, inside red velvet curtains, and with plenty of space to breathe. We agree. Here's to another 60. L.C.

Second place: Crocodile Cafe (2200 Second, 441-5611)

Best Local Band

MAKTUB

By and large, Seattle is and may always be a rock town. This year's people's choice winners, however, like to color outside the lines of that rather narrow category. Maktub (it's pronounced not "mack-tubb" but "mock-tube," and it means "it is written" in Arabic) happily incorporate elements of funk, jazz, and groove as well as the requisite rock in their expansive sound, and with it, the group—anchored by dynamic frontman and man-about-town Reggie Watts—has carved out their own prominent place in the highly competitive Northwest scene. The local success of their 1999 debut Subtle Ways has been one-upped by their recent follow-up Khronos (obviously, since you picked them as this year's champs), which spent some serious time at the top of local best-seller charts. But people, can't you vote for a more "local" band than Pearl Jam for runners-up? Geez. L.G.

Second place: Pearl Jam

Best DJ

RIZ ROLLINS

Local DJ trends come and go (wherefore art thou, acid jazz?), but some things, blissfully, stay the same—like DJ Riz. If Seattle had its own cultural Mount Rushmore, Mr. Rollins would very likely make the cut; as a longtime supporter of Seattle's scene—whether it be through queer culture, writing, radio DJing, or club residencies—the native Southerner has shown his Northwest love is strong, and the city returns the favor. A long-running Friday-night gig ended recently at the Back Door Ultra Lounge, but his mix of golden soul, house, and experimental beats often lights up the Re-Bar. He can also be found Wednesdays, Thursdays, and alternating Saturdays and Sundays on KEXP's Expansions, broadcasting a variety of forward-looking cuts. Riz for president! L.G.

Second place: John Richards, KEXP

Best All-Ages Club

PARADOX

(5510 University, 524-7677)

Youth is wasted on the young. Almost. There they are: Cute, energetic, and as-yet-unspoiled by the kind of gross self-awareness that teaches those over 24 or so to nod politely instead of dance wildly, and they're stuck outside the club with a pocketful of lunch money and a six-pack of lukewarm lemonade. If not for the Vera Project and the U District's premier preteen hangout, our city's collective adolescence would likely be completely pissed away in suburban strip malls and in front of static sitcoms. To the Paradox: You rule. To the kids who party there: You do, too. To those who volunteer and keep it up and running: You broke the rules. Good for you. L.C.

Second place: DV8 (131 Taylor N., 448-0888)

Best Radio Station

90.3 KEXP

Surprise! 90.3 KEXP, home of Riz, John, and the gang, won by a landslide. What could this mean? Maybe Seattle enjoys listening to interesting, varied music. Or maybe we're sick of hearing the same tired singles played twice an hour all day, every day (OK, so Eminem's back, we got it). One of the best things about KEXP is its Web site, www.kexp.org, where the curious can listen to the station in real-time streaming audio or—and this is huge—check out complete playlists, either real-time or archived. It's a listener's dream! Go where the music matters. K.M.

Second place: 94.9 KUOW

Best Jukebox

LINDA'S TAVERN

(707 E. Pine, 325-1220)

As Linda's and the various Linda-owned establishments that spot the Pike/Pine corridor employ roughly 54.8 percent of this town's rock and rollers, it's no big surprise that what wafts through the PA systems are party jams, future favorites, and old standbys. It just wouldn't do to have some lame-ass country crossover chick kicking out corny rhymes as the dude from Pretty Girls Makes Graves brings the fifth round of Rainiers to your table—so instead you get Elvis Costello, the Jam, and whatever the busboy's band just released on Suicide Squeeze. According to you, Linda's is like your living room, only better. And until you hit the cash cow and update your record collection, that's where you'll be. We'll notify your boyfriend. L.C.

Second place: Earl's (4720 University Way N.E., 525-4493)

Best Independent Clothing Store

MOKEE DUGWAY CLOTHIER

(8003 Greenwood N., 784-8185)

The United States has two Mokee Dugways. One is in Utah. It's a mountain pass that looks out to the desert. It's millions of years old, brown, remote, and serves no purpose to man. The other one is in Seattle. It's a middle-aged women's clothing store that looks out to Greenwood Avenue. It's five years old, red and yellow, easy to get to, and sells good clothes for the normal, working-mom type. If you're a normal, working-mom type, you should check out Seattle's Mokee Dugway. It's cool. If you're a geologist, you should go to Utah. If by chance you happen to be both, you should come to my place for dinner tonight. I'll bring the topographic maps. Wink, wink. S.P.R.

Second place: Red Light Clothing Exchange (4560 University Way N.E., 545-4044; 312 Broadway E., 329-2200)

Best Place to Buy Boots

NORDSTROM

(various locations)

C'mon, people. We were looking for a discovery, not a place everyone and their mother already know. But I guess the truth is the truth. Nordstrom, in case you've been in a coma for 20 years, offers a tremendous selection, prices for nearly every budget, and customer service that's unmatched—especially in this day and age, when dragging your gum-cracking self away from your extremely important phone call to say hello is considered extraordinary service. A.V.B.

Second place: REI (222 Yale N., 223-1944).

Best Tattoo Parlor

SLAVE TO THE NEEDLE

(508 N.W. 65th, 789-2618)

Let me just put this out there: I'm not a real "wild child." I don't have any tattoos. It's not that I'm Mormon or anything. I mean, in college, I tried to get the requisite spring break tattoo—a nice feminine one, perhaps on my lower back. But try as I might, I couldn't find the right tattoo. Call me fickle, but I couldn't settle on a design that I'd like for the rest of my life. "Permanent" is a daunting word. But I suppose if I were to take the plunge, I would like to do it at a place like Slave to the Needle. Their artists have great names like Micah and Phish, and the place is kind of goth, with a church pew in the middle of the main room. And they win this category almost every year. K.M.

Second place: Laughing Buddha (219 Broadway E., 329-8274)

Best Video Store

SCARECROW VIDEO

(5030 Roosevelt N.E., 524-8554)

Line up, movie masochists. The clerks behind the counter at Scarecrow are going to treat you with their usual smug condescension because you can't remember if Visconti or De Sica directed The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, and you love it. Why else would cinema-savvy Seattle overwhelmingly vote the Roosevelt institution its favorite place to rent a video? (You can also purchase movies there, too.) With an inventory of over 45,000 titles on VHS, DVD, and even Laser Disc, Scarecrow's staff has the knowledge to match the shelf space—plus attitude to spare. Still, they earn our respect and always have something interesting playing on the TV above the cash registers. In distant second place, though recently facing antitrust suits for smothering independents like Scarecrow with multiple studio-subsidized copies of each weekend's big video release, Blockbuster boasts sheer capacity—if not Visconti. B.R.M.

Second place: Blockbuster (various locations)

Best Vegetarian Restaurant

CAFE FLORA

They call it Flora for a reason: No mammals, fish, or fowl were harmed in the process of creating the fusiony, inspired vegetarian fare at this Madison Park institution; and if your culinary preferences exclude ovo- and lacto-derived foodstuffs, they can accommodate that as well. What does that leave? Plenty. Frequent diners know that Cafe Flora's food has about as much in common with traditional "vegetarian cooking" as a corn dog does with roasted pork loin. Forget brown rice and tofu, steamed veggies and wheat-germ shakes. Portobella Wellington and yam quesadillas are longtime favorites, while a strawberry-Brie pizza and a roasted vegetable salad round out Flora's summer menu. E.C.B.

Second place: Carmelita (7314 Greenwood N., 706-7703)

Best Sushi

I LOVE SUSHI

(1001 Fairview N., 625-9604 and 11818 N.E. Eighth, Bellevue, 425-454-5706)

People love I Love Sushi. I Love Sushi is bright and clean, with a bright and clean staff, and bright, clean-tasting sushi. I Love Sushi leans toward the upscale—this is no International District sushi dive with scuffed paint (of which we like Maneki and Tsukushinbo, which fit the Indieville category much better, for those indie-interested). Both I Love Sushi's atmosphere and food are reliably lovable for its lovers, who crowd into both the south Lake Union and Bellevue restaurants to love them. People love I Love Sushi. B.J.C.

Second place: Shiro's (2401 Second, 443-9844)

 
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