for Central Iowa's BEST by clicking
CULTURE AND NIGHTLIFE
At the Ducktail Lounge, simple
and elegant martinis made with
the most basic ingredients can
be a delight, and when the mood
strikes, you can't help enjoying
the crisp, clean taste. They say
you can never have the same martini
twice, as each colorful concoction
of Absolut Citron, Cointreau and
cranberry juice is a fleeting
moment in time held in a Y-shaped
glass. But if there is a place
where martinis never die, our
readers agree it's the Ducktail
Lounge. 1809 N.W. 86th St., Clive,
Runners-up: The Lift, Cosmopolitan
Dark, dank and mighty quaint.
That's our impression of the Greenwood
Lounge. We love the old place
so much we could spend hours in
the bathroom reading the nonsensical
graffiti. But we'll pass. Common
sense tells us our bathroom buddies
might frown on us snooping around
while they're taking care of their
business. And that's fine by us.
We'll just hang loose in a booth,
down a High Life and watch the
old people dance to John Mellencamp.
3707 Ingersoll Ave.
Runners-up: Locust Tap, Johnny
Mac's Bar and Grill
for Sports Fans
Third Base Sports Bar
A good sports bar needs lots
of TVs, beer specials and an indoor
basketball hoop. Third Base has
it all, from the ridiculous number
of TVs mounted on the walls to
$2 tallboys all Monday night (think
"Monday Night Football")
and a hoop and some balls. The
gi-normous TVs are locked to ESPN,
ESPN2, ESPN Classic, Fox Sports
Net and every other sports station
in the satellite universe. And
for you NFL fans, Third Base has
NFL Sunday Ticket, so you won't
miss a game, whether you love
the Cleveland Browns or Seattle
Seahawks. 1720 25th St., West
Des Moines, 221-2687.
Runners-up: Down Under, Champps
Restaurant & Bar
Best Bar for Old Hippies
We're not sure what makes the
Greenwood the Best Bar for Old
Hippies. We're not even sure we've
seen any hippies in the bar. But
if you want to see if the good
people at the Greenwood are a
bunch of long-haired, patchouli-stinking
hippies, we suggest surfing over
to www.thegreenwood.org and clicking
on pictures. In the meantime,
may we share a few enlightened
thoughts on tree huggers courtesy
of Eric Cartman? "Hippies.
They're everywhere. They wanna
save the Earth, but all they do
is smoke pot and smell bad."
Or how about, "I hate hippies!
I mean, the way they always talk
about 'protecting' the Earth and
then drive around in cars that
get poor gas mileage and wear
those stupid bracelets. I hate
'em! I wanna kick 'em in the nuts!"
Feel the love. 3707 Ingersoll
Runners-up: Yacht Club, Carl's
Best Place to Count Mullets
Iowa State Fair
You can count on several things
at the Iowa Sate Fair. Six hundred
pounds of butter will be molded
into a cow; a million people will
walk through the turnstiles by
the finale; glad-handing politicians
will schmooze for your vote; and
the mullet kings will captivate
and shock the masses with their
hairstyle. Sure, it's just a stale
'do, but no haircut has fascinated
Americans like the mullet and
no place brings out Iowans' mulletude
quite like the state fair. Or
a monster truck rally. Or a Mštley
CrŸe concert. Or, apparently,
a lesbian bar. Or a dive bar.
Or stock car races. Or ...
Runners-up: Diesel, Gene's Place
Best New Bar
When we hear the name "Buddy's
Corral," we think of a good
kind of bar. Ones with swinging
doors and a rough-and-tumble clientele.
Apparently, Buddy's Corral is
none of these things. Instead,
it's a pretty modern, friendly
neighborhood bar in the heart
of the East Village. Last we heard,
the popcorn was free and owner
Buddy Shaw was cookin' up a little
something special for the patrons
on Saturdays for free. With a
wide range of music pumping from
a digital jukebox and reasonably
priced drink specials, Buddy's
Corral doesn't seem to be having
any trouble corralling a diverse
hodgepodge of patrons. 418 E.
Fifth St., 244-7140.
Runners-up: Aura, Tanner's Pub
Best Place to Gamble
Racetrack and Casino
According to Cityview readers,
there's no better place to gamble
away your retirement savings than
Prairie Meadows. And now, with
the addition of table games to
the casino, it's even easier to
blow your wad. Visit the smoke-free
poker room on the fourth floor
to try your luck at trendy Texas
Hold 'Em or check out the blackjack,
roulette and craps tables on the
casino level. For some lighter
action, park your ass on a stool
and feed change into one of the
many slot machines, or take in
a race. Just don't come cryin'
to us when you're living in a
cardboard box. Remember: 1-800-BETSOFF.
1 Prairie Meadows Drive, Altoona,
Runners-up: Lakeside Casino,
Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel
Best Theatrical Production
Apparently Cityview readers love
their ABBA, but we're probably
better off leaving that out of
the Des Moines' promotional materials.
We are, after all, trying to retain
our college graduates. "Mamma
Mia!" finished a successful
run at the Civic Center of Greater
Des Moines earlier this year,
ending up as one of the Civic
Center's top-box-office draws
with about 18,000 tickets sold.
This was the second time the musical
has played the Civic Center stage.
But fear not, residents of Des
Moines. You're not alone in your
love of this musical based on
the music of the Swedish band.
More productions of "Mamma
Mia!" are playing simultaneously
around the world than any other
musical. That's way more renditions
of "Dancing Queen" and
"Mamma Mia!" than is
Best Place to Catch a Flick
Fleur Cinema and Cafè
There are many aspects of the
Fleur Cinema and Cafè that
make it a unique movie-going experience.
Take, for instance, the addition
of the word "cafè."
Not only does the Fleur sell the
standard movie fare - popcorn,
candy, soft drinks - but it also
sells sandwiches, cakes, cookies,
gourmet coffees, wine and beer,
all of which can be taken into
one of its four theaters. Have
we mentioned the movies yet? The
Fleur brings in all the indie
films before they become popular.
Remember "Garden State"
and "Napoleon Dynamite"?
The Fleur had them first. However,
the uber-hip theater also occasionally
shows some of the most worthy
wide releases - and all for an
affordable $5-$7. Oh, and don't
be jealous that patrons can chat
online with babes all day; the
Fleur provides a wireless Internet
connection. 4545 Fleur Drive,
Runners-up: Wynnsong 16, Century
20, Varsity Theatre
Best Place to Drink Alone
Now every mornin' just before
I don't want no coffee or tea
Just me and my good buddy 'Weiser
That's all I ever need
'Cause I drink alone
Yeah, with nobody else
Yeah, ya know when I drink alone
I prefer to be myself
2117 E. University Ave., 266-9423.
Runners-up: Gronau's, Greenwood
Lounge, Manning's, The Yacht Club
Best Local Artist
A haiku in honor of local artist
Christine Mullane, whom we were
not able to get a hold of for
a response to her award:
Hi Christine Mullane.
ArtDive's voicemail box is full.
No way to reach you.
Runners-up: Cindy Townsend, Bill
Hamilton, Gene Hamilton, John
Brommel, Sarah Grant
Suites of 800 Locust
On our meager budgets, we've
never had the pleasure of booking
a room at the posh Suites of 800
Locust, but we've heard they're
really nice. We have, however,
been in the lobby courtesy of
the Cosmopolitan Lounge. Though
the digs in the martini bar are
a little too fancy for us, we're
sure the hotel and bar hold a
special place in our readers'
glitterati-fed hearts. The Web
site for the hotel and spa touts
it as a destination that blends
"European elegance with friendly
and attentive service to create
a world-class hotel." With
a fitness center and spa that
boasts a tanning bed, a "cardio
theater room," sauna, personal
trainers and a steam room, and
room service courtesy of the Embassy
Club, the Suites of 800 Locust
just may live up to its self-described
reputation. 800 Locust St., 288-5800.
Runners-up: The Cottage Bed and
Breakfast, Embassy Suites on the
River, Renaissance Savery Hotel
Chris Pullen at Blazing Saddle
This year's honorary Brian Flanagan
(Tom Cruise in "Cocktail"
... duh) award for Best Bartender
is Blazing Saddle's Chris Pullen.
He may not be slinging glasses
and bottles into the air and spouting
poetry from the bar top, but hey,
we're low maintenance. So long
as our glasses are full, we're
happy. Pullen's going on his 11th
year of bartending, and he's got
the ability to talk to just about
anyone who enters the bar. "He
has a good time with everybody,"
says Bryan Smith, general manager
of the Saddle. "He knows
everybody that comes in and he's
very welcoming to out-of-towners.
He's just got a great aptitude
for it." Stop into the Saddle
and visit Chris Tuesday through
Friday afternoons for Happy Hour
from 2 to 8 p.m. 416 E. Fifth
Runners-up: Allison Riley (Junction
122 Bar & Grill), Andy (Down
Under), Bryan "Stinky"
Smith (Blazing Saddle)
Best Gay/lesbian Hangout
For 23 years and counting, Blazing
Saddle has catered to Des Moines'
gay/lesbian population. Perhaps
the Saddle is the favorite because
it's open to everyone, or perhaps
it's because the neighborhood
bar is open seven nights a week,
365 days a year. The dance club
portion is open several nights
a week, with a DJ spinning Top
40 hits, remixes and dance music.
No country allowed. The bar also
does its part to give back to
the community through its involvement
in a lot of community service
projects, especially the All Iowa
AIDS project. 416 E. Fifth St.,
Runners-up: The Garden, Diesel
Best Happy Hour
Oh, Happy Hour. How we blame
your tempting ways on many a morning
hangover. Your cheap drink specials
have helped us temporarily forget
our working woes, and have undoubtedly
led to some of our more embarrassing
moments (can you say public urination?).
But when it comes to after-work
imbibing, our readers insist there's
no better locale than Blazing
Saddle, where Happy Hour exists
Monday through Friday from 2 to
8 p.m. (and Tuesday all day),
with dollar draws and $2.75 well
drinks. Monday through Thursday
catch the early-bird specials
from 2 to 4 p.m., featuring dollar
cans of beer and $2 wells. From
2 to 8 p.m. on Friday, patrons
can also enjoy $3 martinis. Just
don't say we didn't warn you of
the morning-after consequences.
416 E. Fifth St., 246-1299.
Runners-up: Down Under, Mondo's
of West Des Moines, TGI Friday's
Best Local Band
3 AM Band
Memo to the fan(s) of the 3 AM
Band: Next time you want to stuff
the ballot box in our "Best
Of" poll, have more than
one person "fill out"
the ballots and ask them to use
different colors of ink. We expect
this kind of thing to happen,
but at least have the courtesy
to make us think you're trying
to fool us. Let's hope your music
is more imaginative than your
Runners-up: River City Rockets,
El Patio Mexican Restaurant
You just can't top perfection.
For another year, our readers
voted El Patio's margaritas as
the best in Des Moines. In turn,
in the spirit of consistency (and
deadline), we're compelled to
once again share with you a haiku
that best sums up our feelings
At El Patio: bueno.
What happened last night?
611 37th St., 274-2303.
Runners-up: El Rodeo Mexican
Restaurant, Raul's Mexican Food
Best Live Music Venue
Blues on Grand
Blues, like other genres of music,
is best experienced live in a
small setting where the performer
and audience can feed off one
another. For many, that place
in Des Moines is Blues on Grand,
a repeat winner of "Best
Live Music Venue." Each month
manager Jeff Wagner books a host
of rising stars and legends of
the blues, who take the stage
and easy our worried minds. But
there's more to Blues on Grand
than just good music. You can't
get through the front door without
a hug from Lynette Webster or
Serena James and there's no better
doorman in town than Dana Gowin.
Once you're inside, it's easy
to get a drink from the friendly
waitresses and bartenders, and
you don't have to contend with
noisy televisions or video games.
It's all about the music. Case
in point, Tommy Castro's sold-out
show last week where solos drew
standing ovations, people danced
and the band played beyond its
contracted time. That's the power
of live music. How Grand. 1501
Grand Ave., 244-3092.
Runners-up: Keyster's, The House
Best Place for a Game
Pool sharks and weekend "bangers"
agree Stix is the place where
the best 8-ball and 9-ball action
goes down. In "The Color
of Money," Fast Eddie Felson
said, "Money won is twice
as sweet as money earned."
But beware of guys donning black
shorts with the name "Vince"
emblazoned on the front. 7211
University Ave., Windsor Heights,
Runners-up: Down Under, Raccoon
River Brewing Co.
Best Place to Take Your
Blank Park Zoo
Open year round, Blank Park Zoo
is a place where children will
be entertained and parents won't
get bored (for the most part).
The zoological park includes a
new Great Cats exhibit, Blank
Park Discovery Center, the African
Boardwalk and Australian Walkabout.
7401 S.W. Ninth St., 285-4722.
Runners-up: Science Center of
Iowa, Chuck E. Cheese
Best Downtown Hangout
The Royal Mile
Is it any wonder that the Cityview
readers' pick for the Best Downtown
Hangout is a bar? And a British
one, at that? With about 30 beers
on tap and roughly 150 more in
bottles, it's hard to disagree
that The Royal Mile has become
one of the hippest destinations
in Des Moines. And it's no secret
among the residents, either. Don't
visit this place on the weekends
if you're claustrophobic. Perhaps
it's safer to venture there during
lunch or dinner, when the Mile
is serving up authentic British
grub like bangers and mash or
fish and chips. Oh, and don't
forget to say hi to Chief, last
year's winner in the Best Bartender
category. 210 Fourth St., 280-3771.
Runners-up: Java Joes, Court
Avenue Brewing Co.
Best Art Gallery
ArtHouse attracts experienced
collectors and first-time buyers
alike, thanks to its colorful,
inviting space and affordable
works of art created by local
and national artists. There you'll
find works of art spanning a multitude
of media, including painting,
sculpture, photography, ceramics,
printmaking, textiles and jewelry.
ArtHouse also presents a featured
show in its gallery once a month,
highlighting an artist or theme.
Like its motto says - "Intriguing,
not intimidating." 2809 Ingersoll
Ave., 243-6601; 1551 35th St.,
West Des Moines, 222-5665.
Runners-up: Sticks Gallery, Absolute
Best New Store
With a new sportswear collection
by none other than award-winning
singer, actress and Broadway star
Reba McEntire, how couldn't Dillard's
be anything but the Best New Store?
The clothes aren't out yet? Damn.
We guess you can't always get
what you want, just what you need.
And we need some Miami Glow by
J. Lo. We're told the perfume
is "a sunrise of cool passion
fruit, water and black currant
that crests into the simmering
high-noon brilliance of orange
flower and heliotrope and sets
with a sultry simmer of sheer
amber, vanilla orchid and crystal
musk." Yeah, right. We don't
need it? OK, you got us. We wanted
it. Damn. But you can still shop
at Dillard's for all of your hot
spring fashions. What? It's just
another department store in Dillard's
300-store chain? Nothing creative
or special about it? Oh. Sigh.
101 Jordan Creek Parkway, West
Des Moines, 440-2277.
Runners-up: Pottery Barn, Colores
by Nita, Williams-Sonoma
Best Store for Gamers
"Violence is definitely
in," says Mike Casner, assistant
manager of the South Side Gamers.
He's right. Just look at the hot-selling
games: "Halo 2," "Devil
May Cry 3," "Tekken
5," "Grand Theft Auto:
San Andreas" and "Mercenaries."
Yeah, kill 'em all. But that's
the way it's always been with
video games - the bloodier the
better. But as gamers grow older,
they're also a bit sentimental
and want to play the games they
grew up with, which means the
older games and systems are coming
back with a vengeance, according
to Casner. And luckily for gamers,
uh, Gamers stocks systems and
games all the way back to the
original Atari. Pac-Man fever.
Yeah, we got it. 2900 University
Ave., West Des Moines, 226-0825;
3021 S.E. 14th St., 256-1503.
Runners-up: Best Buy, GameStop
Best Auto Detailing
Bear's Elite Detail Inc.
Before your car leaves the lot,
owner Byron Williams will personally
give your car a once-over to make
sure everything is as right as
possible. "We clean, clean,
clean," says Williams, who
has owned Bear's for three years,
although the detailing shop has
been open for eight. "Buff,
shampoo and make 'em look as good
as new." Sounds easy enough,
right? Wrong. It's hard work to
make your car look as if it's
fresh off the lot, especially
when Bear's cleans between 50
and 60 vehicles a week. And it's
the personal touch that makes
Bear's the best. 1428 E. Fleming
Runners-up: Betts Auto Campus,
Dynamic Auto Detailing
Best Antique Store
Brass Armadillo Antique Mall
OK, we can admit we know an effective
piece of advertising when we hear
one. Case in point: the Brass
Armadillo's jingle. The only thing
more insufferably catchy must
be "Rattle, rattle, thunder,
clatter, boom, boom, don't worry,
call the Car-X man." Yeah,
you see where we're going with
this one, "Everybody's talkin',
talkin' about the Brass Armadillo."
Stuck in our heads for the past
decade, at least. Still, no one's
said a word about the place to
us, but we figure it has to be
busy, considering that more than
450 dealers pack the Armadillo,
selling everything from antique
chairs to He-Man dolls, and skip
eBay, which would only reach,
oh, the entire world. But hey,
we like our little slice of Iowa,
and the Armadillo is just that,
a piece of the fabric of Iowa.
A good old-fashioned antique mall,
which is as American as Apple
Jacks and Tater Tots. Or something
like that. 701 N.E. 50th Ave.,
Runners-up: Majestic Lion, Collectamania
Best Porn Shop
Bachelor's Library (now Romantix)
Need a good buzz? Looking for
a place to perfect your "O-face"?
Well, you really should grab a
room, be it a one-man mission
or a tango for two. Just make
sure you've locked the door -
mom busting in is such a mood
killer. Unless you're kinky like
that, please, keep it to yourself.
Before you get your swerve or
stroke on, swing by the Bachelor's
Library for something visually
stimulating or manually magnifying.
The porn peddlers at the Library
got your instant pleasure, whatever
your heart desires, be it an inflatable
mate, naughty movie or vibrating
friend. Careful, you don't go
blind. 2020 E. Euclid Ave., 266-7992.
Runners-up: Gallery, Romantix
Best Body Piercing and
Skin Kitchen Tattoo
When the members of Slipknot
need some ink, they go to Jack
Lowe, co-owner of Skin Kitchen.
Need proof? Slide over to www.skinkitchen.com/slipknot.htm
and scroll down to see pics of
the freshly inked skin of Sid
Wilson, James Root, Paul Gray
and Shawn "Clown" Crahan.
Lowe and co-owner Matt Schager
also were part of a three-hour,
six-man session on Clown's leg
following a 'Knot show. But you
don't have to be a famous rocker
to get some work done by Lowe,
Schager or any of the other talented
tattoo artists at Skin Kitchen.
Just drop in and give them a good
idea of what you're looking for,
whether it's that Megadeth album
cover you've always wanted on
your calf or a tribal symbol for
the small of your back, and the
Skin Kitchen crew will leave you
with a lasting impression. 2607
Douglas Ave., Suite C, 255-4430.
Runners-up: Union Station West
Tattoo and Body Piercing, Sacred
Skin and Hair
Best Strip Club
The Lumber Yard
You dirty boys - and girls -
whether you need a little personal
attention or a shower, The Lumber
Yard has everything for your flesh-loving
urges. Yes, the only place where
bachelors can get stripped and
whipped on a shower stage is at
The Lumber Yard. The lovely ladies
will disrobe for you, and they'll
also drag your girlfriend or future
ex-wife onstage to feel 'em up
and give her a tongue lashing.
Maybe you should just stick with
the boys. As for The Lumber Yard's
stable of dancers, you have your
Jades, Destinys and Peaches. Our
personal favorite: the red-headed
Isis, who tests the laws of gravity
while shimming up and sliding
down a golden pole. 1504 N.E.
54th Ave., 265-1019.
Runners-up: Minx Show Palace,
Big Earl's Goldmine
Best Local Store
Perhaps we should have clarified
ourselves better. When we said
"Best Local Store,"
we meant "Best Locally Owned
Store." We have only ourselves
to blame, seeing as how you voted
Von Maur Best Local Store last
year, too, and that prompted no
change on our part. So unless
you consider Davenport to be local
(we don't), this answer doesn't
quite make sense and neither do
the runners-up, Wal-Mart and Younkers.
But you voted Von Maur the best,
so we'll give you Von Maur. The
department store, located in Valley
West Mall, is, quite frankly,
just another department store.
However, you've got to love a
place that nixes Muzak in favor
of a lone piano player regaling
customers with instrumental versions
of deplorable past hits such as
Celine Dion's "My Heart Will
Go On." 1551 Valley West
Runners-up: Wal-Mart, Younkers
Don's East Grand Service
Don Roberts gets to his shop
between 6 and 6:30 a.m. every
day. Doesn't fail. Neither does
the stream of customers coming
in. He chalks up his Best Mechanic
award to his shop's longevity;
it's been on East Grand Avenue
for more than 40 years. Yeah,
we'd guess that's time enough
to build a customer base, and
there are many who have been coming
to Don's for gas, a car wash and
everything under the hood since
day one. So after so many years,
how does it feel to be the Best
of Des Moines? "We appreciate
that," Roberts says. We thought
so. 201 E. Grand Ave., 243-3764.
Runners-up: Little Dave, Bill
Wood at Woody's, Drake Garage
Best Hardware Store
True Value Hardware
Hey, tool man. Got a loose screw?
Better head over to True Value
to get something to tighten it
up. True Value has all your needs,
whether it's a plunger, a shovel
or some power tools. We recommend
a screwdriver for the screw, though.
And if you were wondering what
this month's bargains are, look
no further: $1.77 Miracle-Gro
(for plants, not your bald spot;
there will be no miracles for
that, baldy), $4.88 Windex (for
shining your bald spot?) and $6.77
Hefty trash bags. And if you can't
find what you're looking for,
just remember, help is just around
the corner. 63rd Street and Grand
Avenue, West Des Moines, 279-1648
Runners-up: Miller's Ace Hardware
Inc., Lowe's Home Improvement
Best Thrift Store
In the market for used skivvies?
The Salvation Army will be at
your rescue. The thrift store
accepts used clothing and household
items to be refurbished and resold
by those in need. This is where
polyester suits go to die and
hideously ugly furniture is given
a new life. It's also perhaps
the only place where Hyper Color
shirts and New Kids on the Block
memorabilia are considered good
finds. The sale of the items in
the thrift stores provides the
main support for the Salvation
Army's Adult Rehabilitation Centers,
spirituality-based havens for
those who need help pulling their
lives together, so part ways with
those parachute pants already.
They're never coming back in style.
Runners-up: Goodwill Industries
of Central Iowa, DAV Thrift Store
Sahar's Salon and Day Spa
Just thinking about Brazilian
and bikini waxes makes us shudder
in disgust and pain. We pity the
fools who have complete strangers
groom their nether regions for
the sake of vanity. But for a
little over five years, the employees
at Sahar's have been selflessly
beautifying Des Moines through
its full-service salon and spa.
In addition to these waxing services,
the West Des Moines business provides
detoxifying body wraps, massages,
permanent makeup, microdermabration
and makeup service. But perhaps
the most popular service is the
half-day excursion, which includes
a one-hour massage, European facial,
lunch, manicure and pedicure.
4100 Westown Parkway, West Des
Runners-up: Estilo Salon &
Day Spa, Roslin's Salon &
Best Wine Store for Beginners
The Wine Experience
"We're the hardest-working
wine store in Des Moines,"
says Kyl Cabbage, president of
The Wine Experience. And he's
not kidding. Three nights a week,
the store conducts wine education
classes, and every Friday and
Saturday night the store hosts
a four-course meal that appropriately
matches wines with foods. And
there isn't a day The Wine Experience
doesn't have 30 wines open in
the store for customers to sample.
"We work with people on a
one-on-one basis to recommend
the right wines, and we do it
in ways that make it comfortable
and have it make sense,"
Cabbage says. "It's a hands-on
approach to the wine business,
and we have a great time doing
it." Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Ingersoll Wine &
Spirits, JT's Wine & Spirits
Best Shopping District
Thanks, dear readers, for not
forcing us to write yet another
blurb about the overblown Jordan
Creek Town Center. We'll even
forgive you for voting it a runner-up.
Sometimes, though it may be rare,
you guys get it right the first
time. The East Village is
home to some of the city's most
eclectic and unusual shops, restaurants,
art galleries and bars, and is
fast becoming a haven for the
city's "creative class."
One of the best aspects of the
area is that all of the businesses
are local, ensuring that their
patrons support the local economy
rather than fatten some corporate
slob's wallet. We've spent many
of our hard-earned dollars at
Zzz Records and Noodle Zoo, and
when the House of Bricks makes
its move to the East Village next
month, you can bet we'll be forking
over even more of it. We suggest
you do the same.
Runners-up: Jordan Creek Town
Center, Valley Junction
Earl May Seed & Nursery
Let's observe a moment of silence
for the late Earl May, whose lawn
and garden centers have been identifying
problems and providing solutions
to its customers since the company
was founded in Shenandoah in 1919.
Today, it operates 52 garden centers
in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and
Missouri, providing plants, gardening
and pet supplies to the masses.
Despite May's death in 1946, the
company has stayed in the family,
now run by his granddaughter Betty
Jane Shaw, and has become one
of the 10 best garden centers
in the nation. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Goode's, Boeson The
Best Pet Store
Petco is the animal equivalent
of Wal-Mart. People can get their
eyes checked, groceries bought,
photography snapped and developed
and just about everything else
- save a lap dance - under the
same roof at Wal-Mart. At Petco,
animals and their owners can purchase
a wide selection of pet-related
products and services, including
grooming, photography and obedience
training. Both businesses also
pride themselves in affordability.
With more than 720 stores in 47
states and the District of Columbia,
Petco has a stranglehold on the
pet-related product market, making
it a leading specialty retailer
of premium pet food, supplies
and services. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Petsmart, Aqualand
Best Place to Buy Your
Granola and Sprouts
Those who want to avoid their
first coronary say Campbell's
Nutrition is the place for all
their healthy eats. Now, to us,
food is fast, vegetables are fries
and fruit is foreign, but Campbell's
even entices a B-Bop's burger
lovin' crew. The store isn't new,
having offered vitamins, body-care
products, herbs and more for more
than 60 years. And if you don't
know what you're doing, like,
say, us, the knowledgeable staff
will guide you. So put down the
BLT. You can do it. Trust us.
Head over to Campbell's, and try
to deflate that spare tire. 4040
University Ave., 277-6351.
Runners-up: New City Market,
General Nutrition Center
Best Hair Salon/Barber
Rick Mosley Hair
Westward ho! Rick Mosley Hair
was an upscale salon and spa for
13 years in Valley Junction. Now,
it's an upscale salon and spa
in Clive. After an analysis revealed
that most of their customers lived
in the western suburbs, owners
Rick and Stacie Mosley decided
to move their business closer
to them in 2003. 12851 University
Ave., Clive, 279-4075.
Runners-up: Tivoli Salon, Over
Best Bridal Shop
They say fools rush in. But those
rushing into Schaffer's are no
fools. They know that the employees
are bridal fashion gurus. They
also know it's much more than
a place full of wedding dresses
and tuxedos. Schaffer's also does
alterations, and can provide accessories,
cigars and wine as well. The East
Village-based store is also cornering
the market on prom dresses through
the 504 Store, an ultramodern-looking
haven for all special-occasion-related
items, including shoes and purses
in almost every imaginable color.
Who says nothing matches puce?
601 E. Locust St., 288-0356.
Runners-up: David's Bridal, Weddings
Best Music Store
For generations of discerning
music fans Peeples Music has been
THE place to find a mix of competitively
priced popular and obscure titles,
both new and used. They've outpaced
local competitors and weathered
the onslaught of music downloading
and big-box stores. But for many,
Peeples is more than an independent
record store. It's a safe haven
where music junkies can discuss
tunes with like-minded fans and
a knowledgeable staff. We like
how we don't have the option to
buy diapers, books or big-screen
televisions there. Fight the power.
4201 University Ave., 255-5839.
Runners-up: Zzz Records, Best
Best Place to Rent A
From "Apocalypse Now"
to "Zelig," you'll find
thousands of titles on DVD and
VHS at Blockbuster. The video
store chain has locations throughout
Greater Des Moines, making it
easy to swing by and pick up a
movie for the evening. And since
Blockbuster announced it is dropping
its late fees, we suspect a lot
more of you will be spending your
time and money there. Multiple
Runners-up: Hollywood Video,
Barnes and Noble Booksellers
It's no trouble at all to spend
an hour or two wandering the 35,000
square feet at Barnes and Noble
Booksellers, perusing the thousands
of titles it offers. It's a labor
of love actually. In addition
to offering a multitude of books,
we like the store's magazine selection
(but what happened to Dirty Linen?).
Plus, there's a coffeehouse on
site with Starbucks products.
4550 University Ave., West Des
Runners-up: Borders Books Music
Movie & Cafe, Half-Price Books
Best Used Bookstore
Half-Price Books & Records,
Though the price is right at
Half Price Books Records Magazines
on selections by major authors
like Walt Whitman, James Baldwin
and Ernest Hemingway, those in
search of hard-to-find and out-of-print
titles also flock there. Half-Price
even sells reasonably priced used
CDs and vinyl albums. But for
most of us, it's about the books:
those stacks and stacks of cheap
books that line our shelves at
home. Someday, we hope to get
the time to read them. 8801 University
Ave., Clive, 224-4429.
Runners-up: Lawson's Books, Far
From the Maddening Crowd
Best Bike Shop
Though you're more likely to
run into Lance Armstrong wannabes
than Napoleon Dynamite-like riders
who rack their bodies jumping
homemade ramps, Bike World caters
to cyclists of all skills. Serious
cyclists are picky about their
equipment, which is why they shop
Bike World for the best in bikes,
parts, accessories and clothing.
Bike World's professional staff
even customizes rides and offers
free estimates for the repair
work they do. Queen said it best
- "Bi-cycle, bi-cycle, bi-cycle."
Runners-up: Barr Bike & Fitness,
Rasmussen Bicycle Shop
Best Car Dealer
Betts Auto Campus
We're not sure what criteria
is used to vote for this category
(fewest lemons, fewest cheesy
salespeople?), but we've known
for years that Betts is the place
discerning automobile shoppers
go to when they're in search of
the finest domestic and imported
cars. At Betts, you'll find a
plethora of high-performance rides
sharing the same lot, including
the Volvo XC90 V8, Jaguar X-Type,
Cadillac STS, Hummer H2 and Lexus
RX330. Betts also houses a quality
service department and detailing
center - everything you need to
pimp your ride. 2121 N.W. 100th
St., Clive, 253-9600.
Runners-up: Bob Brown Chevrolet,
Holmes Automotive Group
SPORTS AND RECREATION
Best Place to Practice
Your Breast Stroke
YMCA of Greater Des Moines
All right already. We get it.
Your bedroom, The Lumber Yard
and the back seat of your car
really are the Best Places to
Practice Your Breast Stroke. And
you know what? You're the first
person in Central Iowa to ever
make that joke. Seriously. No
one else ever thought of it. Now
get your horny butt down to the
Y and take a nice dip in the pool.
You need to cool off a bit, perv.
Runners-up: Prairie Life Health
& Fitness, Ashworth Pool
Best Local Athlete
Des Moines Menace
While a soccer player may not
be the first thing to pop to mind
when someone mentions the Best
Local Athlete, Des Moines Menace
forward Thomas Boltnar has the
credentials to stake a claim to
the title. The Czech-born Boltnar
has dominated the Premier Development
League, winning two most valuable
player awards (2002 and 2003)
and is the Menace's most consistent
offensive threat. If the Menace
are smart, they'll add a few extra
PowerAdes and orange slices to
keep Boltnar in the fold for a
couple more seasons.
Runners-up: Cael Sanderson, Tyler
Blum (Walnut High School eight-man
Best Local Coach
Dr. Tom Davis
Is this a vote for Tom Davis
or against Steve Alford? Hard
to tell. The good doctor has breathed
life into the Drake Bulldogs'
basketball program, but so far
the results have been mixed, following
up last year's sixth-place finish
with a seventh-place showing this
year. Still, the Bulldogs were
in almost every game, and as Davis
continues to recruit players that
fit his pressing system, they
should continue to improve. And
let's face it, Dr. Tom is just
too dang cuddly not to like.
Runners-up: Kirk Ferentz, Gary
Best Place to Play Golf
Waveland Gold Course
Waveland Golf Course once again
took on all comers and came out
on top. The oldest municipal golf
course west of the Mississippi
River, Waveland has been a Des
Moines landmark for more than
100 years. But what is it that
sets The Wave apart from the swanky
private clubs and upscale public
courses as the best place to play
golf? Is it the convenient location?
Hilly, tree-lined fairways? The
challenging layout? I vote price.
At only $28 for a weekend round
(walking), it is one of the best
values around. Call for tee times.
4908 University Ave., 271-8725.
Runners-up: Des Moines Golf and
Country Club, The Legacy Golf
Club, Wakonda Club
Best Place to Work Out
YMCA of Greater Des Moines
It's fun to stay at the YMCA
... (all right, that was almost
too easy). Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Aspen Athletic Club,
Prairie Life Health & Fitness
Best Outdoor Sporting
Though the Chicago Cubs are America's
lovable losers, their Triple-A
affiliate in Des Moines is number
one in Central Iowans' hearts.
Around a half million fans flock
to the ballpark formerly known
as Sec Taylor Stadium each year
to see the future stars in the
Cubs chain, soak in some sun and
knock back a few cold ones. If
you're lucky, you might catch
a hot dog out of the giant wiener
gun or see the team's principal
owner roaming the stands, looking
snappy as always in his little
bow tie. Because really, what
says baseball in Des Moines more
than a bow tie?
Runners-up: Iowa-Iowa State football
game, Drake Relays
Best Place to Go for a
Judging by the last two Best
of Des Moines polls, the renovation
of Gray's Lake could be the best
thing to happen to Des Moines,
period. The two-mile concrete
path that runs over and around
Gray's Lake has turned a onetime
eyesore into a gathering spot
for young and old alike. With
the Principal Riverwalk set to
connect the area to downtown,
the best may be yet to come.
Runners-up: Saylorville Lake
(Neal Smith Trail), Urbandale
Best Bike Trail
The Saylorville Lake bike trail,
aka the Neal Smith Bike Trail,
runs 26 miles from Birdland Park
in Des Moines to Big Creek State
Park. That's a lot of pedaling
on the old Huffy. Good thing the
banana seat is so comfy.
Runners-up: Gray's Lake, Greenbelt
Best Place for a Game
of Pickup Basketball
YMCA of Greater Des Moines
Though the talent level might
not rival the NBA, or even the
WNBA, you can work up a good sweat
on the courts at the YMCA. So
strap on your Rec-Specs and Stinson-esque
headband and show those young
punks that even slightly lumpy
old-timers with bad knees and
no jump shot got game. And if
worst comes to worst, you've got
5 fouls to give. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Aspen Athletic Club,
Evelyn Davis Park, Prairie Life
Health & Fitness
The newly anointed Principal
Park, home of the Iowa Cubs, hasn't
always been the beauty it is now.
In its former life as Sec Taylor
Stadium, the park had fallen into
All that changed in 1992 when
renovations changed it from a
strikeout to a home run. With
views of the Capitol dome, downtown
and the Des Moines and Raccoon
rivers, Principal Park is arguably
one of the finest stadiums in
the minor leagues and even gives
some major league venues (see
the Metrodome) a run for their
money. One Line Drive, 243-6111.
Runners-up: Raccoon River Park,
Walker Johnson Park
Best Running Event
Dam to Dam
Run, Forrest, run.
Runners-up: Drake Relays, Des
Best Miniature Golf Course
West Grand Golf
No cheesy windmills here. But
what do you expect when you're
only a driver and a wedge from
Glen Oaks Country Club? This challenging
18-hole layout features streams,
waterfalls and even a practice
green. Heck, they even have rough
and white carpet for sand traps.
6450 Raccoon River Drive, 225-7076.
Runners-up: Blue Gills, North
40 Miniature Golf
Best Indoor Sporting
One of the few things that can
lure Central Iowans out of the
house in the winter, the Des Moines
Buccaneers retain their best of
title again this year. We'll see
what happens next year with the
arrival of the Iowa Stars and
the new Wells Fargo Arena. 7201
Hickman Road, 278-9757.
Runners-up: Skywalk Open Golf
Tournament, Drake basketball
Best Micro Brew
Court Avenue Brewing Co.
For years, beer connoisseurs
(whatever that means) have been
pouring themselves into Court
Avenue Brewing Co. to enjoy ales
brewed on-site with customized
equipment to guarantee the freshest-tasting
beer around. They sit at the bar
and order fancy brews with names
like Robbie's Rye, Topping Ale
and James Polk Porter. Discussions
range from the finer points of
microbrewed beer to the latest
Dave Matthews Band album. 309
Court Ave., 282-2739.
Runners-up: Raccoon River Brewing
Co., Rock Bottom Restaurant &
Best Local Restaurant
Great food makes a dining experience.
Duh. But atmosphere definitely
doesn't hurt, and nothing beats
Centro at night. The lights, dim.
The wine, fine. The atmosphere,
electric. And hopefully, the company
is cozy. If not, that's what the
wine is for. Centro is no secret
to local diners. The Italian urban
bistro in the revamped Temple
for Performing Arts has been a
true downtown treat. From New
York-style pizzas baked in two
coal-burning brick ovens to scrumptious
sandwiches to perfect pastas,
Centro's menu is a hard decision
in and of itself. God bless you,
"young Italian restaurateur"
George Formaro and "attorney
turned real estate magnate"
Harry Bookey. 1007 Locust St.,
Runners-up: El Patio Mexican
Restaurant, Latin King Restaurant
Best Place for Chow After
Frustration fills us every time
we shut down a bar only to find
closed drive-thrus and dimly lit
restaurants. We need something
to soak up all of those Jèger
bombs exploding in our bellies,
and with so few late-night, er,
early-morning dining options,
it's either journey to Ingersoll
or navigate to one of the many
Perkins strategically located
throughout the city. Depends on
our 20. Of course, finding a Perkins
is much easier than the runners-up,
although you can be sure we'd
prefer a slice of pizza or Pat's
breakfast in the twilight hours.
But Perkins is the winner and
if you can get a table, maybe
beat the god-awful post-closing
time crush, and maybe tolerate
secondhand smoke in the smoking
section, few places beat Perkins
for fast post-beer-drinking grub.
If only we'd brought our Rock
'Em Sock 'Em Robots. Multiple
Runners-up: Big Tomato Pizza
Co., Pat's Corner Cafè
Save room for dessert! Though
the Cheesecake Factory's main-course
portion sizes are bigger than
Pamela Anderson's bust, perhaps
the real treat is the restaurant's
50 dessert items. The cheesecake
options range in flavor from raspberry
truffle to Godiva chocolate to
Oreo, while carrot cake, warm
apple crisp and tiramisu are tempting
alternatives. 101 Jordan Creek
Parkway, West Des Moines, 457-9888.
Runners-up: Mondo's of West Des
Moines, El Patio Mexican Restaurant
Best Wine Selection/Restaurant
Choices, choices, so many choices.
Sage probably isn't the place
for the indecisive wine drinker.
With more than 300 bottles of
wine in its cellar, Sage has plenty
of reds and whites to choose from.
But owner Andrew Meek doesn't
want to keep them around for long.
He aggressively prices his wines
to keep the corks popping and
the wine flowing. In the winter,
Meek says people like bigger,
heartier reds because they tend
to warm you up more. And it complements
the richer comfort food Sage serves
in the colder months. And don't
think that "Sideways"
hasn't influenced a few people's
wine selections. Sage has been
"blowing through pinot noir,"
a lighter red that was featured
in the film. Meek also realizes
not everyone likes to commit to
a full bottle of wine. So Sage
offers half bottles, which are
what the name implies. So instead
of locking yourself into five
glasses of a wine, you can order
a half bottle and mix it up. And
if you'd just like a glass, Sage
has 27 offerings by the glass.
And the glasses are a treat unto
themselves. All of the wine at
Sage is poured in German crystal
glassware, which is constructed
just for the experience. Waiter,
wine list, please. 6587 University
Ave., Windsor Heights, 255-7722.
Runners-up: 801 Steak and Chop
Waterfront Seafood Market
For 19 years in a row, Waterfront
Seafood Market has been Cityview
readers' choice for their seafood.
Owner Ted Hanke hands it to his
fish buyers, who are buying the
fish fresh off the boat and then
shipping it via commercial airline
to Des Moines. Once it reaches
the airport, they stick it in
Waterfront's cooler, there, and
then the good people over at Waterfront
pick it up and cut, so you, fish
lover, you get the freshest fish
in the city. "It's just a
matter of hours old," Hanke
says. "I don't think you
can get it any fresher from anyone
else." 2900 University Ave.,
West Des Moines, 223-5106.
Runners-up: Splash Seafood Bar
& Grill, Red Lobster
The Tavern Pizza & Pasta
How dare we omit Best Pizza from
the Best Of Des Moines awards?
Bad Cityview. Bad Cityview. Yeah,
we forgot last year, so we're
trying to make amends by remembering
this year. Aren't we swell? Oh,
the winner. Cityview readers can't
get enough of The Tavern's pie,
and it must be true because our
moms couldn't agree more. The
Tavern's been serving up the city's
best pizza since 1933. Well, at
least at the Valley Junction location.
This family restaurant with pizzas,
soups and grinders is open seven
days a week and apparently earned
a four-and-a-half-star rating
from someone called the Grumpy
Gourmet. Sweet. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Big Tomato Pizza
Co., Noah's Ark Ristorante &
Best Lunch Spot
Palmer's Deli & Market
Don't let the long lines deter
you from popping into Palmer's.
Most days, the wait is only a
few minutes, if that, and if you're
skipping the deli sandwiches in
favor of salad or soup, you're
in like Flynn. Or something like
that. Bonus points to Palmer's
for being a great people-watching
spot, although it is a little
weird to have everyone in the
skywalk gawking at you while you
eat in the front window. No worries.
If it means dining in the same
place as media glitterati (Ken
Fuson! John Carlson! All our favorites!)
or local politicians (Matt McCoy!),
count us in. May we suggest a
bowl of chili? A word of caution,
though: Not all Palmer's chili
is created equal. The downtown
chili is our favorite. Westown
Parkway comes in second. Ingersoll
just can't touch 'em. And don't
forget the brownie. You've gotta
get the brownie. It's an irresistible
impulse buy, strategically placed
right before the cash register.
And we're suckers for it every
time. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Noodle Zoo, Manhattan
Deli, Panera Bread Bakery Cafè,
Some would say a cheeseburger
is just a cheeseburger, right?
Wrong. We do enjoy a good burger,
and there are plenty around the
city, such as those at the Drake
Diner, Bob's Sports Bar and Court
Avenue Brewing Co. But for our
burger-lovin' bellies, only the
double drive-thru will do. B-Bop's
is our official artery clogger.
These burgers leave Des Moines
expatriates craving 'em. Veterans
of the '50s-style fast-food spot
know a skimpy single won't due.
We're talking the big-daddy doubles
- two slabs of meat, melted cheese
and whatever fixins you want to
top it off. They go down easy,
ending any hunger pangs - although
you can feel your heartbeat slow
just a little with every bite.
No worries. That's what defibrillators
are for. And for the uninitiated,
this is B-Bop's 15th first-place
finish - in a row - making this
category one of the most predictable,
but we couldn't agree more with
our readers. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Drake Diner, Culver's
Seven years in a row, the Waveland
has been voted the best place
for the most important meal of
the day. Why? Hash browns. The
eatery serves up two tons of the
browned potatoes every month.
Every month? Good Lord, that's
a lot of spuds. Early birds aren't
the only ones who can scarf down
the Waveland's belly-busting breakfasts.
The full Waveland menu is available
Monday through Friday from 6 a.m.
to 9 p.m., so no matter the time,
you can still get yourself a plate
of hash browns. Wake-y, wake-y,
eggs and bakey. 4708 University
Runners-up: Perkins, Drake Diner
Best-Kept Secret on the
Local Restaurant Scene
Olympic Flame Restaurant
This little Greek-American restaurant
may be tucked away in an East
Village storefront, but after
18 years, how can it be a secret?
Well, Olympic Flame doesn't advertise,
so you can bet that's one reason.
Instead, they rely on word of
mouth to lure new customers because,
hey, the food is going to bring
anyone who's been through the
door back. If you go, you gotta
have the lamb chops or a gyro.
But Olympic Flame is famous for
one dish, Saganaki. The cook will
come out and light it on fire
right in front of you. Now that's
service. And if you need a show,
check out the belly dancers every
Friday night from 7 to 8. 514
E. Grand Ave., 243-4361.
Runners-up: El Patio Mexican
Restaurant, Baby Boomers
Best Wait Staff
We must admit, the night we visited
Down Under to test this so-called
Best Wait Staff, we waited ...
and waited ... and waited - first
for a mere menu, and then to get
our order taken. We're not calling
foul play on the part of our voters.
All we're saying is, this seems
a little suspicious to us. But
if you, wary reader, say they're
the best, then we'll believe you
and chalk our visit up to an anomaly.
As to why his employees were named
the Best Wait Staff in Des Moines,
owner Alex Banasik points to their
experience. At Down Under, two
people have surpassed a 10-year
tenure behind the bar and most
of the floor staff has exceeded
five. With that kind of longevity,
patrons see familiar faces every
time they enter the bar. "They're
trained, they're pretty and they
do their job," Banasik says.
"They treat customers like
they're special." 8350 Hickman
Road, Clive, 278-6718.
Runners-up: Latin King, El Patio
Mexican, Junction 122 Bar &
There's nothing better than a
heaping pile of nachos, smothered
in meat (beef or chicken), peppers,
olives, onions and cheese sauce.
The patrons of Down Under know
this, as the popular appetizer
has become something of a signature
item at the neighborhood bar.
Apparently Cityview readers know
this, too. Perhaps the most popular
appetizer on the menu, though,
is the chicken strips. Neither
option sound appealing? Try the
wings, hot pepper cheese bread
or hot pretzel. May we suggest
the cheese nuggets? 8350 Hickman
Road, Clive, 278-6718.
Runners-up: TGI Friday's, Granite
City Food & Brewery, Mondo's
of West Des Moines
Java Joes has provided a caffeinated
jump-start for countless downtown
workers. Coffee is roasted daily
at the downtown hotspot, and cappuccino,
caf latte, caf mocha
and espresso are also available.
But Java Joes is much more than
a coffeehouse. It also sells beer
and wine, and has a food menu
that includes sandwiches, Indian
dishes, desserts and a host of
vegetarian options. Most Friday
and Saturday nights, live music
entertains the patrons of this
smoke-free coffeehouse. A couple
of computers hooked to the Internet
are available for use, or you
can bring your own and use the
free wireless connection. Don't
forget Java Joes' game room off
the main service area, where you
can foster your competitive spirit.
214 Fourth St., 288-5282.
Runners-up: Starbucks, Grounds
Panera Bread Bakery Cafè
We're still not sure how this
award sneaked past us and made
it onto the ballot. And we're
still not sure what, exactly,
there is to say about bread. It
can be crispy, crusty, crunchy,
doughy, chewy ... OK, enough.
Panera Bread Bakery Cafe bakes
its bread fresh every day using
only the finest ingredients and
absolutely no preservatives. How
this differentiates its bread
from your standard Iron Kids balloon
loaf, we're not sure. But you
can eat Panera's bread in a made-to-order
sandwich in the cafè, which
is more than Pillsbury ever offered
ya. Um, yeah, that's all we've
got. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: South Union Bread
Cafè, Basil Prosperi Bakery
Best New Restaurant
The Cheesecake Factory is not
for the indecisive. With more
than 200 menu selections ranging
from pizza, pasta and seafood
to specialty dishes like Chicken
Madeira, Miso Salman and Cajun
jambalaya pasta, it takes longer
to flip through the menu than
it does to create a boondoggle
keychain. Did we mention the ridiculously
large portion sizes? In order
to save room for one of the restaurant's
many dessert choices, you might
have to tuck the leftovers in
your pants pocket for later. 101
Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des
Runners-up: P.F. Chang's China
Bistro, Bravo! Cucina Italiana
Best Italian Restaurant
Mmm ... chicken spiedini. What
the hell is spiedini? Who cares;
it tastes good, and Bob Tursi
and Co. have perfected the dish
- white chicken rolled onto a
skewer, marinated and lightly
rolled in bread crumbs before
being cooked on the grill. This
East Side family-oriented restaurant
has a strong following of regulars,
and it's not hard to figure out
why. Just stop on by for some
spiedini, steak or Italian fried
mozzarella - all favorites. What
we're still wondering is: Why
is an Italian restaurant called
Latin King? 2200 Hubbell Ave.,
Runners-up: Cosi Cucina, Tumea
Best Beer Selection/Restaurants
A Taste of Thailand
A Taste of Thailand is in the
process of revamping its beer
menu. See, some of the 122 bottled
beers the ethnic restaurant has
been serving are no longer available
in Iowa, if that's any indication
of how sprawling the list is.
Perhaps the most popular selection
is Zingu, a Brazilian beer, but
the restaurant also stocks brews
from every other corner of the
world. Represented are countries
like Argentina, Australia, Brazil,
Canada, China, Czech Republic,
Denmark, India, Japan, Kenya,
Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland
and Scotland. A Taste of Thailand
also serves microbrews from the
United States as well as the standard
domestics. 215 E. Walnut St.,
Runners-up: Rock Bottom Restaurant
& Brewery, Royal Mile
Best Place for Vegetarians
A Dong Restaurant
Fellow vegetarians, we all know
how tough it can be to persuade
our meat-eating friends to forgo
steak or pork in favor of tofu
and raw vegetables, so let's not
waste our breath anymore trying
to get them to change their ways
and keep this our little secret.
For years, A Dong has attracted
our ilk thanks to its 37 vegetarian
dishes. They offer a light taste
that most people prefer once they
try it. But like the old saying
goes, you can lead horse to water...
ah, forget it, pass the lemongrass
and let's enjoy ourselves. 1511
High St., 284-5632.
Runners-up: Campbell's Nutrition
Center, El Patio Mexican Restaurant
Iowa Beef Steak House
Tom Callahan said it best: "I
could get a hell of a good look
at a T-bone steak by sticking
my head up a bull's ass, but I'd
rather take the butcher's word
for it." What we mean is:
If this place is good enough for
our readers, it's good enough
for us. Bring on the beef! 1201
E. Euclid Ave., 262-1138.
Runners-up: 801 Steak and Chop
House, Outback Steakhouse
Best Asian Restaurant
A Dong Restaurant
A previous winner in this category,
A Dong offers 147 mouth-watering
Vietnamese and Chinese dishes,
but Vietnamese food is the preferred
choice of most loyal patrons.
Though the friendly staff is eager
to help describe each dish, most
customers have memorized the number
of their favorite dishes, which
makes ordering quick and easy.
To-die-for spring rolls and specialty
fruit drinks round out A Dong's
extensive menu, and the relaxed
atmosphere makes it one of the
more enjoyable dining experiences
in the capital city. Now, pass
the lemon sauce. 1511 High St.,
Runners-up: A Taste of Thailand,
P.F. Chang's China Bistro
Best Power Lunch
801 Steak and Chop House
If you think new business practices
have made steak-and-scotch deals
pass in the 21st century,
you obviously haven't been to
801 Steak and Chop House for a
power lunch. There you'll find
business leaders, politicians
and other decision-makers setting
the table (pardon the pun) for
business deals or sealing them
with a handshake. The restaurant's
blue-ribbon menu, as well as its
list of 350 fine wines, is a key
ingredient to the art of the deal.
801 Grand Ave., 288-6000.
Runners-up: Centro, Nick's Bar
Best Place for a $5 Lunch
Seriously? We know what it's
like to be cash-strapped, but
Mickey D's? Have you people not
seen "Super Size Me"?
OK, you wanted the Golden Arches,
and you got it. McDonald's one
dollar, make-you-slobber menu
is full of cheapie eats for those
on a budget. Needing a quick fix,
you can snag five of the following,
pre-tax, and put together a meal
that you'll be expelling about
a half-hour later: double cheeseburger,
McChicken sandwich, fries (the
most-eaten vegetable in America),
soft drink, snack-size fruit 'n
yogurt parfait, hot fudge sundae,
pies and a side salad. Well, McDonald's
does feed more than 46 million
people each day. Yeah, we're lovin'
it. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Subway, Tasty Tacos
Best Mexican Restaurant
El Rodeo Mexican Restaurant
We may not be professional food
critics, but we know that Mexican
food, at its very best, is simple,
honest and filling, which is why
many of you agree El Rodeo is
the place to go for tasty, authentic
Mexican cuisine. The restaurant
serves a variety of enchiladas,
burritos, flautas, fajitas and
quesadillas, as well as other
time-honored dishes like chicken
mole and chile verde. Most entrees
are accompanied by a plethora
of sides like refried beans, cheese,
guacamole and sour cream. You'll
want to wash it all down with
a delicious frozen margarita.
Runners-up: El Patio Mexican
Restaurant, Monterrey Restaurante
El Rodeo Mexican Restaurant
We agree with George Costanza,
salsa should be served on every
table in every restaurant, especially
if it tastes like the variety
served at El Rodeo. Though the
Spanish word "salsa"
translates into English as "sauce,"
we know the term to mean a mildly
to intensely spicy uncooked condiment
that starts with tomatoes but
can incorporate everything from
watermelon, cherries, mangoes,
pumpkin seeds and minced clams.
We're not sure if any of those
ingredients are in El Rodeo's
salsa. All we know is that it
has the proper balance of heat,
acid and salt, and that's good
enough for us. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: El Patio Mexican
Restaurant, Monterrey Restaurante
Best Fancy Pants Food
801 Steak and Chop House
If you voted 801 Steak and Chop
House as Best Fancy Pants Food,
you're not alone, Mr. and Ms.
Fancy Pants. Distinguished Restaurants
of North America, Wine Spectator
and Cigar Aficionado have heaped
oodles of praise (and for good
reason) on the downtown Des Moines
restaurant for exemplifying the
highest quality standards in all
aspects of the dining experience,
including food, wines, interior
design and cigars. How's that
tickle your fancy? 801 Grand Ave.,
Runners-up: Sage, Forty-Three
Restaurant & Bar
Best First Date Spot
Fratello's on Eighth,
Sam and Gabe's Italian Bistro,
Trostel's Greenbriar Restaurant
Leave it to the single crowd
to turn this category into a three-way.
Fratello's, 1261 Eighth St., West
Des Moines, 223-8808; Sam and
Gabe's, 8631 Hickman Road, Urbandale,
271-9200; Trostel's, 5810 Merle
Hay Road, Johnston, 253-0124.
Best Radio Personality
Dic Youngs, KIOA
Voted "Best Radio Personality"
by both listeners of KIOA (It's
OK, we heard Youngsy tell a similar
joke about a winner of last year's
"Best Of" poll), Dic
Youngs has been spinning oldies
tunes for the last 38 years like
they're going out of style (sorry,
we couldn't resist). But seriously,
generations of radio fans have
tuned into KIOA just to hear Youngsy,
especially on Saturday nights,
making him a legend of local radio.
One request though, Youngsy, how
about a little less Herman's Hermits
and The Association and a lot
more Gene and Eddie?
Runners-up: Greg Chance, Steve
Deace, Van Harden
Best Annual Event
Iowa State Fair
Happy 151st birthday, Iowa State
Fair! Cracking the million attendance
level was special, now if we could
only keep them all coming back
for fried Hostess products on
a stick, Nelson and, of course,
the midway. The fair is tagging
itself, "America's favorite
state fair ... and it's right
in your back yard!" It's
true. We can't think of any other
state that takes as much pride
in its state fair as ours. Nor
would we want it any other way.
Runners-up: Des Moines Arts Festival,
Gay Pride Week
Best Local Sports Commentator
Keith Murphy, WHO-TV
Keith Murphy has to be the most
modest guy in television. In fact,
if we knew Channel 13's humble
sportscaster wouldn't blush, we'd
rename this category in his honor.
Murph consistently takes the award,
and he's gracious every time we
talk to him. "I'm very pleased
there are people who enjoy what
I do," Murphy says. "That's
a big reason we get into this
business. I can't say that it
doesn't matter or I don't care
what people think because I do
want people to enjoy what I do."
Murphy even tried to downplay
his victory, saying he's blessed
to have an added advantage over
the competition every Sunday night
with "Sports Sound Off,"
which has breezed through eight
years and is closing in on its
500th episode. In a showing of
Ving Rhames modesty, Murphy couldn't
help touting his Sunday night
co-anchor, Andy Fales, and his
"What's Bugging Andy?"
segment, which Murphy calls "storytelling
on steroids." However, Murphy
denies having ever been in the
same bathroom as Fales, so no
word on his back acne. Anyway,
here's to another year of Murphy
Runners-up: Heidi Soliday, Mark
Best Radio Station
To save any indie cred we may
have over here at Cityview, we'd
like to iterate that we don't
listen to KISS 107.5. Then again,
we don't listen to the radio at
all. So don't worry, KISS. It's
not you; it's us. Even so, that
doesn't mean the station isn't
deserving of the title of Best
Radio Station, seeing as how it
already touts itself as Des Moines'
No. 1 "hit music station."
Surely the station - and Cityview
readers - know something we don't.
But we hope KISS plays that new
Kelly Clarkson tune, because Cityview
Managing Editor Justin Kendall
thinks it's "empowering."
Hear that? That's the sound of
Kendall's cred dying.
Runners-up: KGGO, WHO
Best TV Station for News
For years, the award-winning
tag team of Kevin Cooney and Jeanette
Trompeter helped lead KCCI in
the ratings, especially when it
came to 6 and 10 p.m. time slots.
Now that Trompeter has left for
Minneapolis, WHO-TV, WOI-TV and
KDSM are hoping the race will
tighten a bit, though that remains
to be seen. Much like the ratings,
KCCI has a firm grip on Cityview's
unscientific Best Of poll, making
it a repeat winner in this heralded
Runners-up: WHO, WOI
Best Local Talk Show
Jan Mickelson, WHO radio
Jan Mickelson isn't hurting for
material for his radio talk show,
"Mickelson in the Morning."
"A culture in collapse is
Mickelson says. "There is
just an unending supply of material."
But Mickelson isn't boasting.
In fact, he admits he'd trade
his job in a heartbeat for a "stable,
prosperous, virtuous society."
We tend to believe him because,
as much as we usually disagree
with him, we know he wants what
he says he wants. Why is society
on the road to ruin? Mickelson
sees it this way: The forebears,
the first generation, were "passionate,
folks who lived well and prospered.
The second generation coasted
on their parents' hard work. The
third "rejected the bull
work and still coasted."
The fourth generation "forgot
how we got here." Now, we're
back to square one. "The
conclusion of this not a foregone
thing," Mickelson says. "We
could lose our freedom; we could
lose our country; we have certainly
almost lost our ability to be
a self-governing republic; and
there's several different "-isms"
in the competing religious worldviews
and political worldviews that
would be just happy to see America
disappear into the dustbin of
history." But it's also an
exciting time to be alive, Mickelson
says, adding, "We've been
severed from our history, severed
from our culture and we are the
most gullible people on the planet.
Rich, fat and stupid. And we can't
keep any of those propositions
going more than this generation
if we can't get rid of that last
category." Hear Mickelson
weekdays on Newsradio 1040 WHO
from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Runners-up: Mac and Mr. Fisher,
Van and Bonnie
Best Self-Righteous Media
Jan Mickelson, WHO radio
We really should name the award
after Jan. He owns this category.
Sorry Deacer. Always the bridesmaid.
And, in Jan's immortal words,
"I only have myself to thank."
Now, how can Jan be the Best Self-Righteous
Media Hog and the Best Local Talk
Show? Well, Jan says, Cityview
readers are either contradicting
themselves or "They highly
approve of self-righteous media
hogs. They consider that not a
criticism or critique, just the
proper evaluation of skill recognized."
Jan has some advice for aspiring
self-righteous media hogs. "Your
message ought to be the medium
here," he says. "As
I've often said in the past, 'The
Pharisee stood afar and just to
look down his nose and say, "I
just thank God I'm not like others."
He's the model for my life."
Runners-up: Steve Deace, Christine
Best Drag Queen
Des Moines has a sense of humor
about its drag queens. Stinketta
is a whole lotta woman, thanks
to the fat suit donned by Bryan
Smith, general manager of Blazing
Saddle. But it's all comedy as
far as Smith is concerned, which
shows in Stinketta's revolving
cast of wigs, including one frizzy
reddish-brown number that's teased
more than Jacko's plastic surgery
methods, ridiculously over-the-top
makeup and tacky taste in eyeglasses.
Smith doesn't know what earned
Stinketta the title of Best Drag
Queen, but our money's on the
Ÿber-curvy figure and flair
for dramatic accessories.
Runners-up: Savannah Sanchez,
Best Place to Take Visitors
Iowa State Fair
OK, the Iowa State Fair lasts
only 11 days in August (this year,
the Aug. 11-21), so why our readers
have deemed it the Best Place
to Take Visitors is beyond us.
We get that it's a great slice
of Americana, with butter cows
and cow chip throwing, but c'mon.
Then we saw the runners-up, and
our complaints disappeared. The
state Capitol? Jordan Creek Town
Center? Valley Junction? OK, we
get Valley Junction, but the Capitol
and Jordan Creek? Unbelievable.
This is the best Iowa can do?
Whimper, sigh, cry.
Runners-up: State Capitol, Jordan
Creek Town Center, Valley Junction
Best Place to Watch People
Iowa State Fair
Where are you gonna find the
oblivious mullet kings of the
state? The Cro-Magnon men who
seem to have come from a farmhouse
somewhere down south? Fair fashion
faux pas from decades past - and
available at most thrift stores
or in Napoleon Dynamite's closet?
Yes, the Iowa State Fair is your
one-stop gawk at the oddities
of Iowa - or just the regular
inhabitants. Either way, we know
what it's like to stare, mouth
open at the creatures drawn to
the fairgrounds every year. We
suggest packing a copy of the
Cityview State Fair Bingo card
and checking off your finds or
documenting your journey with
photographs. We're certain paranormal
investigators might want a look.
Runners-up: Jordan Creek Town
Center, Valley West Mall
State of Iowa Historical Museum
They say you don't know where
you're going until you know where
you've been. If that's true, the
State of Iowa Historical Museum
is a must-see because no building
sums up Iowa's past, present and
future better. There you'll find
archives, a library and interactive
permanent and touring exhibits.
And a walk through the building
wouldn't be complete without a
meal or cup of coffee at the in-house
caf or a visit to the Museum
Store. Best of all, admission
is free. 600 E. Locust St., 281-5111.
Runners-up: Des Moines Art Center,
Science Center of Iowa
Best Elected Official
Gov. Tom Vilsack
Again, we're not sure what criteria,
if any, people are using when
they vote in this category as
it is open to a variety of interpretations.
But we are sure of two things:
First, Gov. Tom Vilsack is an
elected official and second, depending
on your political affiliation,
you're sure to have an opinion
about him winning this category.
Let us know how you feel. Send
your opinions to Cityview, 100
Fourth St., Des Moines, Iowa 50309.
Runners-up: Frank Cownie, Matt
Best Cityview Staffer
You Would Like to Tie Down to
the Railroad Tracks
So, you don't like reading Justin
Kendall? You should try working
with him. There isn't a day that
goes by that we don't gaze upon
the railroad tracks across our
parking lot with great wonder
and sing, "I hear the train
a comin', it's rollin' 'round
the bend and I ain't seen the
sunshine since I don't know when."
Get a rope.
Runners-up: Connie Wimer, Erin
Randolph, Joe Sampson
Best Elected Official
You Would Like to Publicly Flog
Christine Hensley and George W.
El Presidente Busho and City
Councilwoman Christine tied for
this year's flogging honors. A
kinky combo if we've ever seen
one. Now, let's clarify: Our S&M
fantasies have never included
either of these two ... at all
... ever. Tie in leather, whips
and chains, and we're ready for
our safe word, or Freddy Krueger's
five-fingered glove of death to
kill us in our sleep. At the least,
we'd need one of those leather
masks with the zipper over the
mouth - and eyes.
Runner-up: Tom Vilsack
Best Local TV Anchor
Kevin Cooney, KCCI
It's good to be the king. But
we're willing to bet that if we
named this category after KCCI's
Kevin Cooney, voted "Best
Local TV Anchor" by Cityview
readers for the fourth consecutive
year, he would probably blush.
That kind of humility, not to
mention his professional delivery
of the news and well-timed sense
of dry humor, is what we Iowans
like about him. For more than
20 years, we've invited him into
our homes at night, where he's
earned our trust while helping
KCCI maintain the market's highest
ratings. As an aside, we dig the
fact he's a White Sox fan and
he doesn't color his hair. Hail
Runners-up: Jeanette Trompeter,
Ed Wilson, WHO-TV
We can see clearly now the rain
is gone. We
can see all obstacles in our way.
It's a bright sun shiny day at
Channel 13 as Ed Wilson reclaims
his "Best Meteorologist"
crown from KCCI's John McLaughlin.
The prognosticator of all weather
prognosticators and seer of all
things that drive us to our basement
(or the golf course), Wilson reigns
supreme when it comes to delivering
the seven-day outlook and explaining
things like barometric pressure
and dew point in a professional
and sunny way. Looks like another
year of Wilson on top is in the
Runners-up: John McLaughlin,
Best Media Personality
Who Should Seriously Consider
Ed Wilson, WHO-TV
Oh, Ed. We giveth, then we taketh
away. What can we say? I'm sure
once our readers sober up they'll
see you in another light. Maybe
it was that missed call a few
weeks ago when you forecast sun
and we got snow. Hey, nobody's
perfect. Then again, maybe it's
not a bad idea to have a backup
plan in case the last 15 years
or so of being the leading meteorologist
at WHO-TV prove to be a fluke.
McLaughlin has that helicopter
pilot/professional fisherman thing
as a backup. How about starting
a band or opening a go-kart track?
Runners-up: Brooke Bauma, John
on this story | Return