We asked. You responded in droves—for the 24th year in a row. Here are the results of Seattle Weekly 's annual Best of Seattle® Readers'


Readers Reveal the City's Best

We asked. You responded in droves—for the 24th year in a row. Here are the results of Seattle Weekly's annual Best of Seattle® Readers' Poll.

Best Challenger to Greg Nickels: Readers aren't feeling particular about this one. They choose: Anyone.

Best Candidate for King County Executive: Sure, you city kids love him. But how will Dow Constantine fare county-wide? dowconstantine.com/index.html.

Best 2009 Campaign Logo/Button/Poster/Slogan: It worked for Obama, so it can work for you. "Yes We Can" sounds the perfect note of optimism and confidence for any aspiring pol. It's also wonderfully vague and neutral—unlike an actual campaign promise you can later be accused of breaking.

Best Way to Celebrate the Fall of the Viaduct: Someday that quake will come. Or possibly a deep-bore tunnel will be, well, bored. But in either scenario, you recommend we ride the bus or bike, which is surely a better way to enjoy the waterfront.

Best Future Career for Peter Steinbrueck: He's off on a fellowship, but perhaps not out of politics forever. Readers want to see him elected Mayor. Either way, it never hurts to have Harvard on your résumé.

Best Phrase to Spray-Paint on the Side of a Light-Rail Car: Runner-ups were "Finally" and "Ride me." But the winner is an old standby: SLUT.

Best TV Weather Forecaster: Some guys merely talk about the weather, but KOMO's Steve Pool actually changes the weather by dint of his sunny personality and good humor. Clouds and low-pressure systems just feel embarrassed to spoil his forecasts, and instead trudge down to Tacoma where they belong.

Best Local Radio Show (Talk): Turn the dial if you want blowhards hurling spit at the microphone. Ross Reynolds' daily noontime program The Conversation, on KUOW, instead offers civil and informed discussion with guests and callers. kuow.org/conversation.

Best Neighborhood Blog: They'll be all up in a budget meeting or design review one minute, then reporting on shop cats and graffiti-tagged mailboxes the next. Be you NIMBY or YIMBY, so long as your BY is West Seattle, the West Seattle Blog has you covered. (MyBallard.com comes in a close second.) westseattleblog.com.

Best Seattle Band That Didn't Exist 12 Months Ago: Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band took Seattle by storm with a clever viral-video campaign that earned the young band (and we mean young; drummer Marshall Verdoes has been alive 14 years) a record deal and gigs playing Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, and Bumbershoot. And that all went down in the past 12 months. Wow. myspace.com/mtsthelensvietnamband.

Best Non-Rock Venue: Comfortable and classy, with an unbelievable sound system and climate control—air-conditioning that actually works! in a club!—the Triple Door offers an experience that enhances rather than detracts from the prominent acts that frequent the venue. 216 Union St., 838-4333, tripledoor.net.

Best Local Musician(s) Deserving National Attention: With catchy party beats and clever, comedic rhymes about crashing parties and (unsuccessfully) hitting on girls, fun-loving hip-hop trio The Let Go serve to entertain above all else. Unlike so many radio rappers, they can rock a party without constantly jawing about bitches and money. myspace.com/theletgocrew.

Best MC: One of Seattle's wittier wordsmiths, Khingz fits the role of the post-Rawkus-era backpacker-rapper to a T. His latest album, From Slaveships to Spaceships, is easily one of the best to come out of Seattle so far this year. Let's hope he changes his mind about leaving town. Khingz.com.

Best Local Radio Show (Music): With his tastemaking blend of local up-and-comers and big national acts, John Richards' Morning Show on KEXP helps readers start the day off right. Never stuck in a sonic rut, Richards fearlessly follows up Blackalicious with Throw Me the Statue—and Seattle eats it up. kexp.org.

Best Theater Company: The bad news is that Intiman's renowned artistic director Bart Sher will depart in 2011. The good news is that under his continued influence the company is having a strong season of reworked classics, with more to come. 201 Mercer St., 269-1901, intiman.org.

Best Piece of Public Art: Lurking beneath the Aurora Avenue bridge, guarding Fremont (rather unsuccessfully) against gentrification and bad beer, the Fremont Troll has become a favorite destination since being installed 19 years ago. The city has even named the dead-end avenue for it. (How 'bout that, Typewriter Eraser, Scale X?) North 36th Street & Troll Avenue North, Fremont.com/fremonttroll.html.

Best Future Career for Gerard Schwarz: Always a personable and entertaining talker about music, perhaps the soon-to-retire Seattle Symphony Orchestra music director should spend his sunset years as a UW music professor?

Best Art Event/Venue for Picking Someone Up: With a restaurant and bar facing First Avenue, and a great mingling space above it, the expanded, redesigned Seattle Art Museum matches sophisticated browsing with, ahem, sophisticated cruising. The "After Hours" programs on Thursday and Friday nights are a good bet, but don't underestimate the promise of a Wednesday afternoon. 1300 First Ave., 654-3100, seattleartmuseum.org.

Best Local Band Name: Bizarre, quirky, and undeniably memorable, the synth-pop five-piece Natalie Portman's Shaved Head also deserves praise for its fun dance jams. myspace.com/natalieportmansshavedhead.

Best Concert of the Last 12 Months: The mashup of hipster camping, Erykah Badu's sunglasses, and that one guy who started a massive dance party on the lawn (consult YouTube) made Sasquatch 2009 a huge success and reader favorite. sasquatchfestival.com.

Best Film Festival, Apart From SIFF: Held every October since 1995, the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival has grown to a week's duration and more, scattered across multiple venues. That's a lot of bare-chested French hunks on the Riviera and Korean teen schoolgirls in love. And yet, never quite enough. threedollarbillcinema.org.

Best Happy Hour: Despite their famous half-pound cheeseburger getting bumped up a buck to $2.95, McCormick and Schmick's happy hour hasn't lost its benchmark status. It still feeds one of the city's most diverse cross-sections of noshers. 1103 First Ave., 623-5500, mccormickandschmicks.com.

Best Place for Salsa Dancing: Dance lovers of all stripes love the beautiful old Century Ballroom. But no one loves it more than Seattle's hardcore salsa crowd, who take it over every Thursday and Saturday night, inspired by DJ's, local bands, and world-class groups like Makina Loca. 915 E. Pine St., 324-7263, centuryballroom.com.

Best Dive Bar: Baranof is the Seafair Pirates' favorite bar, and the Seafair Pirates have never met a cocktail they didn't like. These cocktails are served by 60-something bartenders who laugh at you if you request a mixer. Good times. 8549 Greenwood Ave. N., 782-9260.

Best Establishment to Be at When It's Last Call: It's2:00 in the morning: Do you know where all the guys wearing sack-suffocating women's jeans are? They're right here, at Linda's! 707 E. Pine St., 325-1220.

Best Spot for Fancy Cocktails: It's not really a bar anymore so much as a shrine. Every night, people come to make offerings and watch in awe as Murray Stenson displays his nationally celebrated cocktail skills at the Zig Zag. 1501 Western Ave., 625-1146, zigzagseattle.com.

Best Hotel Bar: Good lighting, comfy seats, well-poured drinks, and a casual/sophisticated staff make the swellegant W Bar a perfect cocktail hang. And if you meet someone you like, there are generally rooms free upstairs. 1112 Fourth Ave., 264-6000, Whotels.com.

Best Venue to Publicly Make Out In: At the Cha Cha Lounge, everyone else is too drunk and/or distracted by the shiny lights on the ceiling to notice you have your tongue down someone else's throat. And if they do, well, that just makes the experience hotter. 1013 E. Pike St., 322-0703, chachalounge.com.

Best Jukebox: The carnitas and tequila selection aren't the only draw at Phinney Ridge's Mexi-goth watering hole El Chupacabra. The jukebox is legendary among punk, metal, and alt-country aficionados. Devilishly handsome resident bartender/ex-Himsa guitar player Josh Freer hand-picks the selections himself. 6711 Greenwood Ave. N., 706-4889.

Best Place for a Bachelorette Party: Nothing says "awesome night" like dropping a C-note on overpriced drinks and making out with a plumber from Algona. This is what Cow Girls, Inc., delivers, night in and nightout. Sorry, readers, we're baffled by this one. 421 First Ave. S., 340-0777, cowgirlsinc.com.

Best Place to Actually Be Able to Hear Your Friends Talk: Maybe it's not small or indie, but the much-maligned international coffee Goliath does a lot of things right. Apart from cleanliness and prompt service, Starbucks keeps the music volume down and the acoustics tuned to your conversational level. One or two locations, starbucks.com.

Best Sweaty Dance Club: Neighbours remains the city's main watering hole for booty-shaking twinks and the guys who love them, though for some, the encroachment of straight couples has rubbed some of the glitter off. 1509 Broadway, 324-5358, neighboursnightclub.com.

Best Karaoke: Ozzie's just never gets old. Still, do the staff a favor next time and spare them another rendition of "Sweet Caroline." 105 W. Mercer St., 284-4618, ozziesseattle.com.

Best 2 a.m. Hangover Prevention Snack: Grease negates alcohol, or the starch sops up the booze, or the milkshakes have medicinal properties, uh, right? We read it someplace, too. And for that reason, Dick's is a favorite destination after last call. Multiple locations.

Best Burlesque Show/Night/Performer: Gender-bending burlesque performer Waxie Moon steals the show from his nipple-tassel-twirling co-stars whenever he graces the stage. And you dig his '70s porn 'stache, too. myspace.com/waxiemoon.

Best Place to Buy Affordable Art: Sometimes you want something local and handmade that'll look good hung over the couch—without costing more than the couch. That's why it's worth braving the flying fish at the Pike Place Market. Pike St. & First Ave., pikeplacemarket.org.

Best Kid's Haircut: These gentle, expert barbers know how to prevent tiny tears. At Li'l Klippers, patrons are plopped onto a rocket-ship chair while The Lion King is slipped into the DVD player. Your kids won't even hear the scissors at work. 1815 N. 45th St., lilklippers.com.

Best Selection of Vinyl (Records): For some audiophiles, there's no greater pleasure than digging through box after box of vinyl, searching for that elusive Dead Moon 7-inch you've wanted for the past 10 years, or perhaps a first pressing of the Flying Burrito Brothers' The Gilded Palace of Sin. Easy Street Records understands, and rewards, that compulsion. 20 Mercer St. and 4559 California Ave. S.W., 691-EASY, Easystreetonline.com.

Best Indie Clothing Store: Whether you're looking for vintage stilettos, an '80s prom dress, or a snappy sportcoat, Red Light cherry-picks the most well-preserved gems from yard and estate sales, so you don't have to endure the smell of mothballs. 312 Broadway Ave. E., 329-2200, Redlightvintage.com.

Best Jeweler: We've got news! For every woman who's had a friend's engagement ring stuck in her face, Green Lake Jewelry Works is a relaxed alternative to the high-pressure hustle of jewelry-shopping in a mall. And for guys, nearby Green Lake is a nice place to propose. 550 N.E. Northgate Way, 527-1108, greenlakejewelry.com.

Best Place for Urban Crafts: Local artisans offer every kind of ware at Pike Place Market, from kites to leather work to woodcarving.

Best Recession-Friendly Shopping: Even in the age of Craigslist and eBay, Goodwill remains a model for preserving resources and an antidote to overconsumption. 1400 S. Lane St., 860-5711, and other locations, seattlegoodwill.org.

Best Place to Splurge on Your Pet: Who's a good boy? Who's a very, very, very, very good boy? Even if Chuckles would be just as happy with an old tennis ball, local chain Mud Bay knows that Seattle pet owners often need to express their love with a MasterCard. Does this dog bed come in suede? 321 E. Pine St., 839-1144, and other locations, mudbay.us.

Best Place to Drop a Ton of Money on Shoes: Nordstrom is your favorite spot for maxing out your credit card on fabulous footwear from an array of high-end designers. And it's got an awesome return policy if you realize—too late!—that your Jimmy Choos will prevent you from paying this month's rent. (Sigh. Why can't we just live in our shoes?) 500 Pine St., 628-2111, and other locations, nordstrom.com.

Best Hardware Store: If it cuts, drills, rips, sands, buffs, sprays, or attaches itself to an air compressor, McLendon's has your tool. And the lumber to go with it. 10210 16th Ave. S.W., 762-4090, and other locations, mclendons.com.

Best Shop for Getting to Know the Proprietor: Bacon salt to your left, Mustaches for Girls straight ahead, and the very popular Sarah Palin Toilet Paper in the window display—that's what you'll find as you walk into Wallingford's Not a Number Cards & Gifts. Husband-and-wife owners Kara Ceriello and Jon deLeeuw have been running the Archie McPhee–esque business for four years. Quirky and endearing, they can strike up a conversation with anyone about anything. They especially welcome political debates. 1905 N. 45th St., 784-0965, notanumberinc.com.

Best Sex-Toy Purveyor: Dating is overrated. Men are overrated. And Babeland understands that. 707 E. Pike St., 328-2914, babeland.com.

Best Day Spa: At the Korean-style Olympus spa, you can drop the towel and enjoy the saunas and whirlpools in peace, because it's a women-only facility. 3815 196th St. S.W., Lynnwood, 425-697-3000, olympusspa.net.

Best Handyman: Maybe it's the recession, but voters said me. Funny, but didn't we see you in the Harborview ER after smashing your thumb with a hammer? Or maybe that was someone else.

Best Place to Trick Out/Fix Your Car: Yes! You want flat-screen TVs for the kids riding in your minivan, plus mp3 jacks for every occupant? Or, for those a little less private about their musical tastes, Car Toys will also set you up with a monster audio system that rattles all of Alki from your Scion. 307 Broad St., 443-2726, cartoys.com.

Best One-Day Getaway: It's long, it's skinny, it's surrounded by sand and salt water, and it's close and cheap. For that reason, Whidbey Island is an ideal single-ferry destination. whidbeycamanoislands.com.

Best Yoga: 8 Limbs is where a local yogi can have a meaningful practice without feeling as if they have to join an ashram or be fully outfitted in Lululemon accessories. Teachers make yoga approachable for the novice and plenty challenging for the pretzel-bodied. 500 E. Pike St., 325-8221, and two other locations, 8limbsyoga.com.

Best Spot to Leer at Ultimate/Volleyball/Soccer Hotties: Excuse me, but you missed a spot with your suntan lotion. Right there on the small of your back by that unicorn tattoo. May I be of assistance? People are proud to flaunt their bodies at Alki Beach, and BOS voters fully support them in that. 1702 Alki Ave. S.W., 684-4075.

Best Bike Advice/Maintenance/Repair: Clockwise to loosen? Righty tighty? Presta or Schrader? And is the derailleur the thing on the front end or the back? Those questions and more have been patiently answered by the knowledgeable staff at Gregg's Greenlake Cycle since 1932. 7007 Woodlawn Ave. N.E., 523-1822, greggscycles.com.

Best Sports School/Camp: Your kids need to put down the Wii controllers, get off the couch, and get some exercise. That's where Skyhawks comes in, offering courses in soccer, basketball, and nine other sports for kids aged 3 to 11. 800-804-3509, skyhawks.com.

Best In-City Hiking Trail: A place to wow visitors and take natives' breath away, the Magnolia bluff that is Discovery Park offers sublime sunset views and a surprisingly large network of soft, walkable paths leading through the woods, past the cliffs, and down to the beach. 3801 W. Government Way, 386-4236.Best Super-Secret Blackberry PatchYou said you're not telling. Dumb question, apparently.

Best Dog Run: With beach access and many acres to run around in, the first off-leash dog run in a Seattle park is still the best, it seems—probably because the city's made continual improvements since Magnuson Park first welcomed free-roaming canines 13 years ago. 7400 Sand Point Way N.E., 684-4946.

Best Place for Spontaneous Parkour: The concrete walls and canyons of Freeway Park are perfect for high-speed slaloming, vaulting, and scrambling. Warning: Parkour is dangerous and may cause you to speak French. 700 Seneca St., 684-4075, seattle.gov/parks.

Best Place to Spot a Bald Eagle: As you're wandering around the Best In-City Hiking Trail (at Discovery Park), look for the trees picked bare at their crests, where eagles typically perch to scan Elliott Bay for dead fish. 3801 W. Government Way, 386-4236.

Best Restaurant to Expand Your Palate: At a time when black cod in sake lees and duck confit are everyday fare for Seattle foodies, the Korean-American-everything-else cuisine at Joule has become the new culinary frontier. 1913 N. 45th St., 632-1913, joulerestaurant.com.

Best Place for a Full-On Salad: It's a mile-long mecca for fiber-lovers: the salad bar at Whole Foods. 1026 N.E. 64th St., 985-1500, and other locations, wholefoodsmarket.com.

Best Smoothie/Energy Drink: With 64 stores and growing, Emerald City Smoothie provides the tons and tons of flax oil, glutamine, B12, and açai berries Seattleites can no longer imagine living without. 1202 Stewart St., 264-4575, and other locations, emeraldcitysmoothie.com.

Best Pizza That Isn't Pagliacci: For decades, Pagliacci Pizza has held a lock on SW readers' loyalties in the Best Pizza category. So in 2008 we decided to pay them the ultimate tribute—and introduce a little competition—by extending to Pag's a Best of Seattle® Lifetime Achievement Award (in the form of a Golden Slice), and term-limiting the beloved local chain out. That opened the way to a new victor this year: Via Tribunali, the fast-expanding purveyor of Neapolitan-style pizza with moody, theatrical interiors. We wish them years (but not too many years) of victory. 6009 12th Ave. S., 464-2880, and other locations, viatribunali.net.

Best Outdoor Dining: Some cities content themselves with a few chairs on a busy sidewalk. Around here you're only impressed by pink-edged sunsets, gorgeous water views, hotties on kayaks, and the stunning silhouettes of the Olympics on the horizon. Luckily, the deck at Ray's obliges, along with blankets for when it gets chilly. 6049 Seaview Ave. N.W., 789-3770, rays.com.

Best Ice Cream/Gelato/Custard: Molly Moon's, Molly Moon's, Molly Moon's. This city is kee-razy for Molly Moon's. Is it Molly Neitzel's good timing, jumping in early on Seattle's ice-cream mania? Or the fact that her maple-walnut and Scout mint flavors are so damn good? A bit of both, we think. 1622 N. 45th St., 547-5105, mollymoonicecream.com.

Best Restaurant for a First Date: Hearty pasta dishes, stiff drinks, private curtained booths perfect for canoodling—if you're not having a great first date at Bleu Bistro, s/he's a loser. 202 Broadway E., 329-3087.

Best Brunch After a First Date: Make that a successful first date, because the Portage Bay Café is far too nice for the Walk of Shame. Take your waffle up to the berry bar, collect your wits, and think of something clever to say back at the table. Because the person waiting for you might be, yes, The One. 4130 Roosevelt Way N.E., 547-8230, portagebaycafe.com.

Best Desserts: How disappointing it is to receive a dessert menu and realize you don't particularly want any of the four items on it. That's never a problem with B&O Espresso's unbelievably long list of sweets, from a plethora of cakes to things that sound French to a pot of chocolate topped with whipped cream. Let no craving go unmet at one of the city's most beloved coffeehouse institutions. 204 Belmont Ave. E.,322-5028, b-oespresso.com.

Best Line Worth Waiting In: Not the DMV? OK, apparently it's Molly Moon's. (See "Best Ice Cream," above.)

Best Place to Eat When You're Lost in Bellevue: Big crowds, huge portions, a festive atmosphere—family-style Italian chains just seem to deliver what people want. On the west side of the lake, Buca di Beppo often fills that bill. When you're out in the Wild East, Maggiano's is the favored stop. No problem if you get hopelessly lost again trying to find your way home after the meal; you'll have plenty of leftovers with you. 10455 N.E. Eighth St., 425-519-6476, maggianos.com.

Best Indie Coffee House: This year, Vivace is rewarded as much for surviving a traumatic move (thanks, Sound Transit!) as for the perfect crema on its cups of espresso. 532 Broadway Ave. E., 860-5869, espressovivace.com.

Best Baked Goods: Crusty walnut loaves. Buttery Italian plum rolls. Chunky, moist morning-glory muffins. Macrina Bakery makes 'em all, irresistibly. 2408 First Ave., 448-4032, and other locations, macrinabakery.com.

Best Place for Locals to Eat Salmon: For the fish that every true Seattleite knows best, Ivar's Salmon House forgoes foams or sous-vide poaching and just grills that baby over the alder, in true Northwestern tradition. The Lake Union view is fab too. 401 N.E. Northlake Way, 632-0767, ivars.net.

Best Reason to Brave Tourists at the Market: Forget the fruit: the flowers bring us back.

Best Grocery Store Deli: "Yeah, we've got that" may be the Staples slogan, but it could just as easily apply to the prepared foods at Whole Foods.

Best Teriyaki: More than a hundred teriyaki shops dot this city, but the original reigns supreme: Toshi's Teriyaki. Creator Toshi Kasahara sold all his restaurants decades ago, but the love for him is still strong. 6421 15th Ave. N.W., 789-1998, and other locations.

Best Guilty Pleasure: Trophy Cupcakes, you say. Wait a minute—cupcakes are a guilty pleasure? But they're so petite, so light, so...oh, right, we're talking about Trophy's cupcakes, with icing caps two inches high and the unmistakable traces of pure butter. 1815 N. 45th St., 632-7020, trophycupcakes.com.

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