Welcome to the readers' poll portion of Seattle Weekly's Best of Seattle 2013, where we hand the great power of naming the city's best people and institutions over to the whims of democracy. After four weeks of voting on your part, we handed your ballots, both digital and paper, over to our interns. Under the watchful eye of Managing Editor Daniel Person, they counted, undaunted by screen-burn and frequent papercuts. These are the results.
People & Places
Best Politician: Mike McGinn He survived a crowded primary to bike another day.
Best Neighborhood: Ballard It’s become more than just the butt of Almost Live jokes.
Best Suburb: Kirkland Founder Peter Kirk probably never envisioned his city would become the cream of the suburb crop.
Best Park: Discovery In the case of Discover Park, biggest apparently is best - its 534 acres make it Seattle’s largest park.
Best Mariner: Felix Hernandez Thank goodness Chace’s Pancake Corral in Bellevue helped convince him to stay.
Best Seahawk: Russell Wilson On a talented team, Wilson is the main reason the 12th Man is making Super Bowl plans.
Best Sounder: Osvaldo Alonso It would have been nice if the Sounders had let Alonso bask in his Best of Seattle glory before signing Clint Dempsey, but those are the breaks ...
Best Storm Player: Sue Bird She’s won Gold Medals and WNBA Championships. We assume this honor ranks right up there. (Get well soon, Sue!)
Best Reign Player: Megan Rapinoe Seattle loves its soccer, and showed its love for Rapinoe in Best of Seattle voting. We couldn't agree more.
Best Sportscaster: Rick Rizzs We assume Rizzs’ “hair” sealed the deal.
Best Bowling Alley: The Garage This ain’t your grandad’s bowling alley - which is why it’s awesome.
Best Hotel: Tulalip Resort Casino Seattle Weekly’s Rick Anderson definitely agrees with the readers here.
Best Blogger: JSeattle, Capitol Hill Blog We’re fairly certain that JSeattle - or Justin, the publisher of Capitol Hill Blog and Central District News - never rests.
Food & Drink
Best Bakery: Bakery Nouveau Because who can resist a twice-baked croissant?
Best BBQ: Bitterroot With most BBQ places focused on North Carolina or Texas, this joint smokes their meet with Washington Apple wood.
Best Breakfast: Portage Bay The always-present pancake, waffle and French toast toppings bar is almost as decadent as a make your own ice-cream sundae.
Best Brewery: Elysian Their seasonal brews are perfected and even mange to keep us yearning for cold weather so we can imbibe their Night Owl Pumpkin Ale and their Bifrost Winter Ale.
Best Burger: Red Mill No matter how good the burger here (and it’s good!), it’s impossible to leave without fries and a milkshake (especially a peach one!).
Best Chinese Restaurant: Judy Fu’s Snappy Dragon Clay Pot Stews. Enough said.
Best Coffeehouse: Caffé Vita A coffeehouse that collaborates with Theo Chocolate to create a blend has to be doing something right.
Best Cupcake: Cupcake Royale They make a perfect-sized cupcake (not too big, not too small) and always delight with seasonal (adult) flavors like this month’s Raspberry Lemonade and Strawberry Rhubarb.
Best Diner: Skillet Diner Chosen by Seattle Weekly staff, Chef Ethan Stowell and our readers, this new, sophisticated take on diner food has everyone over the moon with excitement for the new location coming to Ballard on August 14.
Best Doughnuts: Top Pot Because nothing starts your morning better than a co-worker bringing in a box of these – and especially if they include Valley Girl Lemon and Apple Fritters.
Best Farmers Market: Ballard Hands down winner with our guest bests and our readers, this market brings life to a quiet Sunday morning with its amazing mix of vendors, as well as folksy street performers. It's a big part of what made Ballard our staff pick for Best Food Hood.
Best Food Truck: Jemil’s Big Easy Muffaletta’s, interesting takes on Po Boys (like hot roast beef), and Cajun Fries are just three very good reasons why Amazonians in South Lake Union actually take a lunch break when this truck rolls in twice a week.
Best Fried Chicken: Ezell’s Family-owned with a fried chicken recipe straight from Texas, the cult following is further ensconced with the help of Fried Gizzards and Livers and traditional but delicious sides like mashed potatoes and baked beans.
Best Hot Dog: Po Dog You don’t just get to choose from a variety of hot dogs here, but from a laundry list of “gourmet” condiments. Plus, their specialty dogs are downright sinful: like the mac n’ cheese dog made with Tillamook cheese.
Best Ice-Cream Parlor: Molly Moon’s There’s a reason the lines spill out the door at these popular Seattle ice cream joints. Besides the delicious ice cream, toppings like lavender bee pollen sugar, lemon curd and vanilla bean caramel are out of this world.
Best Pizza: Pagliacci It may not be the fanciest pizza in town, but this reliable franchise is greasy goodness that the whole family can love.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Carta de Oaxaca Because sometimes it’s nice to eat Mexican food in a stylish space, and the dependable food and salsa bar don’t disappoint.
Best Steakhouse: Metropolitan Grill Prime Double R Ranch Beef from Washington state in portions ranging from 12 to 38 oz, tableside carving and eight decadent sauces keep readers flocking here to get their meat fix.
Best Sushi: Umi Sake House The daily happy hour is a steal for quality sushi – and the space itself is large, open and feels like a real night out, unlike most tiny sushi joints.
Best Thai Restaurant: Thai Tom Cheap, fast and a place fun to watch cooks doing their thing over an open flame, this longtime favorite is beloved for their Penang Curry and their peanut sauce.
Best Vegetarian: Silence-Heart-Nest This place makes a breakfast that can rival any in town: with omelettes drenched in pesto and mozzarella, you’ll barely notice the sarong-clad servers.
Arts & Culture
Best Art Gallery: SAM The Seattle Art Museum isn't an art gallery, but our readers don't want to quibble with semantics: They simply love SAM.
Best Film Fest (Besides SIFF): STIFF If SIFF is the three-week spring juggernaut for serious Seattle filmgoers, the 8-year-old Seattle True Independent Film Festival is the scrappier, shorter palette-cleaner, next year scheduled for May 2-10, soon before SIFF.
Best Movie Theater: Cinerama Paul Allen continues to pour love, money, and technology into his widescreen movie palace, built in 1963 and still able to show very rare Cinerama-format prints, unsung three interlocked projectors.
Best Museum: SAM Okay, here's the right category for SAM, which has nicely recovered from the loss of its upstairs tenant (Washington Mutual) and is now running smoothly under its new director, Kimerly Rorschach.
Best Radio Station (Music): KEXP Established at the UW in 1972, KCMU became KEXP when it joined forces with Paul Allen's Experience Music Project in 2001; streaming and podcasts have made KEXP a national force on the indie-rock front.
Best Radio Station (Talk): KUOW The UW-born talk-radio station is now 61 years old (!) and a full affiliate with NPR, augmented by local talent including Steve Scher, Marcie Sillman, and Ross Reynolds, who have intimate access to our ears during breakfast and the morning commute.
Best Theater Company: ACT Today lead by Kurt Beattie, A Contemporary Theatre was hatched in 1965 during this city's post-World's Fair cultural boom; its coming fall season will include Middletown (a new paraphrase of Our Town), Alan Ayckbourn's Sugar Daddies, and Adam Rapp's Red Light Winter.
Shops & Services
Best Bike Shop: Recycled Cycles Heading into its 20th year, the U District bike seller has long since bucked its name and welcomed new bikes into its inventory. Now with two stores (the other’s in Fremont), the shop is coasting along just fine.
Best Bookstore: Elliott Bay Book Company There is little doubt that EBBC’s move from its old Pioneer Square location to its Capitol Hill home has been a huge success. Not only is the book store continuing to serve the reading public; it is also viewed as an anchor tenant in its booming hood.
Best Cannabis Dispensary: Dockside Cooperative With a commitment to sustainability, Dockside caters to the environment’s needs as much as it does to its patients’ medical needs.
Best Mall: Bellevue Square Yeah, it’s not technically in Seattle, but Bellevue Square—with its 180 shops and skybridge to Lincoln Square—gives our readers good reason to cross the bridge.
Best Pet Store: Mud Bay You can’t chuck a tennis ball without hitting one of the Puget Sound’s many Mud Bay outlets, each offering hundreds of formulas for your furry friend and more squeaky play things to throw and hit other Mud Bays.
Best Record Store: Easy Street Records It was a harrowing year for record store patrons when the Queen Anne branch of Easy Street called it quits earlier this year; fortunately the West Seattle shop keeps on truckin’, strong as ever and now with the complete attention of owner Matt Vaghaun.
Best Place to Buy Sex Toys: Babeland Sex-positive for 20 years now, Babeland has won the people’s approval by taking the sleaze out of sex.
Best Thrift Shop: Goodwill Always possessing a great deal, Goodwill goes above and beyond with its annual Glitter Sale (November 9 + 10), for which they bring out the fancy stuff in the name of job training for thousands in need.
Music, Bars & Clubs
Best Band: Pickwick Labeled a “hipster band” by a local TV station during its performance on Opening Night at Safeco Field, Pickwick has proven that its soulful indie rock appeals far beyond the in-crowd.
Best Hip-Hop Artist: Macklemore In the court of popular opinion, there is no bigger winner this year than Ben Haggerty, who as Macklemore rocketed to the top of the charts with the earworm “Thrift Shop” and has continued to hold the nation’s attention since.
Best Local Label: Sub Pop This summer Sub Pop has celebrated both its 25th-ish anniversary as a record label and the 10th Anniversary of its best-selling album, Postal Service’s Give Up. It’s only natural that Sub Pop win this award, then, for both quality and longevity.
Best All-Ages Venue: The Vera Project It’s been a transitional year for Vera, with managing director Joshua Powell recently moving on after 11 years of involvement, but change has slowed down Seattle’s pioneering all-ages organization.
Best Bartender: Murray Stenson Three years after winning the title “Best Bartender” at Tales of the Cocktail, Stenson continues to impress the imbibers who rallied around the bartender late last year when he needed help paying for heart surgery.
Best Dance Club: Foundation With crystal clear sound for its international-caliber DJs and rapturous dancers, Foundation boasts two VIP areas and three bars for those feet temporarily at rest.
Best Gay Bar: RPlace The staff is friendly, the drinks are good, and the dance floor is big and open to all at this Capitol Hill hot spot.
Best Irish Pub: Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub Spitting distance from Pike Place Market, Kells continues to win over the Irish and Irish-at-heart with its cozy confines, breezy patio and Seattle’s biggest single malt Scotch selection (which isn’t Irish, but we’ll give them a pass).
Best Karaoke: Rock Box Leave singing in public to the professionals; Seattle Weekly readers know that the best karaoke is that performed amongst friends and family in one of Rock Box’s many Japanese-style karaoke lounges.
Best Neighborhood Bar: The Tug Inn If you are looking for a place to become a regular, you might try this joint in West Seattle, where everyday feels like a holiday.
Best Arts or Music Website: Three Imaginary Girls 3IG started with enthusiastic reviews of its favorite pop bands. Ten years on, the site has grown up a bit, reviewing books and films along with its music; but the youthful enthusiasm remains.