Best Place to Sit in the Kingdome!

For our 25th Best of Seattle® issue, we recall the best of the first.

Ronald Reagan was president, Charles Royer was mayor, and Seattle Weekly founder David Brewster had the bright idea to poll his readers about their favorite foods, places, and people. The notion emerged, in part, from the "Best Places" series of guidebooks created by the Weekly's publishing arm, Sasquatch Books (since spun off as an independent company, and still going strong).On October 8, 1986, the very first Best of Seattle (not yet a ®!) hit the newsstands. On the cover was a festive slug drawn by Mark Zingarelli, one of the early Fantagraphics artists.Twenty-four Best ofs later, Seattle is a very different town, but many of that year's winners are still thriving. Stalwarts like REI and Starbucks (for best sporting goods and coffee) have become national household names. Pagliacci Pizza and Kidd Valley have maintained their loyal followings. ACT, the reader favorite for live theater, triumphed in our poll again this year.Others have faded a little from view. La Boulangerie in Wallingford, then the favorite bakery, is still around but has been displaced in readers' affections by many newcomers. For best elected official, Mayor Royer tied then-Congressman Mike Lowry; but Royer never ran for higher office, and Lowry later ended his sole term as governor in a cloud of sexual-harassment charges. On the pro-sports front, Seahawks receiver Steve Largent was voted best athlete; once he retired to become a right-wing Oklahoma congressman, we tried to forget we ever rooted for him.The 13 Coins is still one of the only options for "all-night eating" (though now perhaps unlikely to win Best), while Il Bistro remains an unbeatable spot for a romantic dinner of the mature variety. And Ray's Boathouse? Still a fine choice "to take mom and dad." Also still in business are top vote-getters Nordstrom, the Elephant Car Wash, and the Roanoke Inn on Mercer Island.Hard to believe now, as the old downtown trolley tracks rust on the waterfront, that a singing streetcar conductor, Eldo Kanikkeberg, was celebrated as best transit operator. Would singing trolley drivers increase SLUT ridership or make light rail more popular? Or perhaps favorite band Jr. Cadillac could be brought back to entertain commuters. For best bus line, Metro Route No. 43 then ran a much longer and more scenic path, from Shilshole to the Pike Place Market.Also among the deceased: Ernst Hardware (where flimsy wooden yardsticks were once given away), the UW's sweaty old IMA gymnasium (now replaced by an aerobic palace full of flat-screen TVs), Pay & Save (now a Pottery Barn at U Village), Shorey's Book Store (killed by Amazon.com), Parker's for dancing (it's now a sports bar), the beloved Backstage in Ballard, and Greenwood's Leilani Lanes. (Who actually bowls in person anymore? Don't we have avatars for that?) Also gone: horse-racing track Longacres, which our readers—cheerful and optimistic, as ever—voted "Best place to spend money and have nothing to show for it." Also R.I.P., of course: the Kingdome, where the 100 level was readers' somewhat unsurprising choice for best section to sit.Fortunately, among the survivors, and without doubt one of the unlikeliest: Read All About It in Pike Place Market—voted best newsstand, where you could then pick up a copy of the Weekly for 75 cents.bmiller@seattleweekly.com

 
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