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Cover Story

And the award goes to…

     2007 Best of Des Moines Poll results

By Michael Swanger, Sean J. Miller, Andrew Brink and Jim Duncan

Hollywood has the Oscars. Footballers (the American kind) have the Lombardi Trophy. Kirstie Alley has Jenny Craig’s endorsement. But Des Moines’ extraordinarily talented community of artists, bartenders, meteorologists and purveyors of all things wonderful — beer, cars, sushi and shoes — are awarded the ultimate prize: the adoration and recognition of Cityview’s intrepid readers.

Each year, Cityview asks you, faithful reader, to decide who serves the best coffee, who peddles the best books and which elected official is most deserving of a public flogging. After tabulating the record number of votes that poured in for our 2007 Best of Des Moines Poll, we are happy to share the results. We’ve divided the results into five sections: Culture and Nightlife, Eats, Shopping, Sports and Recreation and Utopia.

Congratulations to all our winners and runners-up, whose dedication to their craft has won over the independent hearts and minds of our readers.


Best New Restaurant

Steve Logsdon’s bistro in the East Village masters minimalism, from Kirk Blunck’s brilliant design to the simplicity of the prix fixe menu. From the day it opened, Lucca’s been the new buzz in town, the place to people-watch and to be seen while enjoying amenities which range from the most artful bathrooms to the best stocked cheese cave in town. 420 E. Locust St. Des Moines, 243-1115.
Runners-up: Trostel’s Dish, Crave

Best Kept Secret on the Local Restaurant Scene
Flying Mango

Beaverdale maintains its stranglehold on this award, sweeping the top two places for the second year in row. Flying Mango is the town’s most elaborate display of the barbecue arts, proving you can have it both ways — good smokehouse meats as well as full table service and neighborhood coziness. 4345 Hickman Rd., Des Moines, 255-4111.
Runners-up: Chef’s Kitchen, Trostel’s Dish

Best Wait Staff
Tursi’s Latin King

Bob and Amy Tursi are always on hand, making sure that everything is just right at the Latin King. Their keen business sense ensures everyone leaves with a full smile and a full stomach. 2200 Hubbell Ave., Des Moines, 266-4466.
Runners-up: Trostel’s Dish, Centro

Best American Food
Drake Diner

The place was modeled after Fog City Diner (featured in frequent “Nash Bridges” episodes and many movies), which was modeled on 1930s nostalgia. Chrome and steel, neon and checkers set the mood, while the food features blue-plate specials and good old American grill work. 1111 25th St., Des Moines, 277-1111.
Runners-up: Machine Shed, Jimmy’s American Café

Best Italian
Tursi’s Latin King

Call it a dynasty! Bob and Amy Tursi’s place repeats as the voter’s choice in a category that represents the city’s restaurant tradition better than any other. Pastas are made from scratch and all the sauces are reduced from bone stock at this heirloom, destination restaurant that dates back to the 1940s. Original specialties from New York’s Little Italy share the menu with Des Moines’ Italian favorites. Even the hashbrowns are legendary. 2200 Hubbell Ave., Des Moines, 266-4466.
Runners-up: Cosi Cucina, Sam & Gabe’s

Best Mexican
El Rodeo

When it comes to Mexican food, this Rodeo bucks your bronco and keeps everyone in the saddle with more than 30 house specialties and 25 combination platters from every regional cuisine in Mexico and Mexican-America. In spirit, these locally owned stores have annexed Margaritaville, without losing a single shaker of salt. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: El Aguila Real, Monterrey

Best Thai
Thai Flavors

For a decade, this little East Side family café has been educating Des Moines’ palates to the joys of the world’s hottest chilies, cut with the sweetness of coconut milk, or the tang of green papaya. From the lemongrass essence of the tom yum gai to the last sip of jasmine tea, the place is beloved for its bargain prices and happy faces. 1254 E. 14th St., Des Moines, 262-4658.
Runners-up: Cool Basil, King & I

Best Chinese
Café Su

The voters came home this year to their old Valley Junction favorite, after a year’s flirtation with Paul Fleming Chang’s Chinese chain store at Jordan Creek. Café Su has always been more pan-Asian than Chinese, but it’s also become an anchor in the metro’s most original shopping district. 225 5th St., West Des Moines, 274-5102.
Runners-up: P.F. Chang’s, Tsing Tsao

Best Japanese

There is nothing else like Taki in Iowa. The bustling restaurant mixes a teppanyaki steakhouse with the city’s best sushi bar, serving the decadent likes of uni (roe of sea urchin) and toro (fatty underbelly of bluefin tuna). From the sushi master to the tableside service, this place matches its flair for theater with equally dramatic flavors. 2677 86th St., Urbandale, 331-3030.
Runners-up: Ohana, Wok in motion


Best Vietnamese

A-Dong has been Des Moines’ favorite Vietnamese cafè for several decades now. In its second location on Woodland Avenue, it’s still the voters’ favorite place for pho, and a whole lot more. Try the bone-stock soups, fresh exotic vegetables and spices, the huge selection for vegetarians and enticing Indochinese drink specials. 1511 High St., Des Moines, 284-5632.
Runners-up: Saigon Cafè, Pho 777

Best Place to Chow After 2 a.m.
Big Tomato

From 1 in the morning ’til 4 a.m., Big Tomato offers pizza by the slice. So, their simple little walk-up counter has become the most frequently suggested direction when bouncers need to point people to the exits come closing time in the Des Moines bars. But unlike other halfway houses between taverns and after-hours parties, Big Tomato actually serves great pies. 2613 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines, 288-7227.
Runners-up: Perkins, Pat’s Corner Cafè

Best Steakhouse
801 Steak & Chop House

This legendary downtown restaurant is the only place in Iowa serving Stockyard’s beef, the gold standard in American steaks since the 19th century. That’s a large part of the reason 801 has been recommended by the likes of New York Times publishers and CBS anchormen, explaining its huge popularity with political and media celebs every caucus season. 801 Grand Ave., Des Moines, 288-6000.
Runners-up: Rube’s, Texas Road House

Best Breakfast

The Waveland’s been packing them in for decades with an “everybody-knows-your-name” friendliness and “need-a-refill” ambiance. The long-time staff serves indulgently generous plates full of great Iowa traditions — homegrown bacon, eggs, sausage and love. The hash browns have a cult following. 4708 University Ave., Des Moines, 279-4341.
Runners-up: Perkins, Machine Shed

Best Coffeehouse
Mars Café

In one of the major upsets of the season, newcomer Mars came from outer space to Dogtown not just to win Rookie of the Year, but to unseat the longtime champion Java Joe’s. This is always one of the most competitive categories, as Des Moines is blessed with an original coffeehouse culture that most cities only dream about. Mars features an all-star line-up of catered treats, a wine list featuring rare East Euro bargains and free Wi-Fi. 2318 University Ave., Des Moines, 369-6277.
Runners-up: Zanzibar’s, Java Joe’s

Best First-Date Spot
Trostel’s Dish

The Trostel’s won this award last year for their more traditional restaurant Greenbriar. This year, the voters went for their swank, young tapas and wine bar which continues an old family tradition —introducing Des Moines to a new world of appetizers. The menu is divided geographically into six continents of choices and the only entrèe is their signature scratch-made prime rib, five ways. 12851 University Ave., Clive, 221-3474.
Runners-up: Mars Café, Centro

Best Place for a $5 Lunch
Tasty Tacos

This longtime favorite of legislators, and other bargain hunters, serves a familiar Mexican-American menu. What separates it from the pack, while inspiring a cult following among several generations of Iowans, are its unique taco shells, including a partially fried shell proven to have addictive properties. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Jimmy John’s, Subway

Best Place for a $10 Dinner
Drake Diner

The voters came back to an old favorite this year after running off on a south of the border fling last year. The Diner will demand a little discipline to keep under the $10 limit, but they offer so many 2-for-1 coupons that experienced couples pack the place for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks on the famous “Fly Free” porch. 1111 25th St., Des Moines, 277-1111.
Runners-up: El Rodeo, A-Dong

Best Power Lunch

When a place without full table service wins in this category, something special is obviously happening. The Palmer’s stores do their own baking, without butter, and they make their own soups and scratch breakfasts, too. Their delis offer amazingly fast service for those who are into speed power lunching. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Centro, Nick’s Bar & Grill

Best Seafood
Waterfront Seafood Market Restaurant

Waterfront combines a retail fish market with a sit-down restaurant and a trendy bar. Their seafood is so good that other top restaurants actually buy their fresh fish from Waterfront. Daily specials pack this place earlier than any other in town, and both the clam chowder and the gumbo are deserved legends. 2900 University Ave., West Des Moines, 223-5106.
Runners-up: Splash Seafood Bar & Grill, Red Lobster

Best Burger
The once and eternal champion (16 years in a row), B-Bops keeps Des Moines happy with nostalgic rock ’n’ roll, fresh-grilled burgers, fries that stay hot, chili, pork loin fritters, chicken, salads and shakes. These burgers would be popular at any price, but the real winner is your billfold, with quarter-pound burgers, your way, for less than a buck and a half. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Drake Diner, Hardee’s

Best Pizza
Big Tomato

King of the night, Big Tomato offers the most eclectic, accommodating pizza in town. For the displaced Hawaiian, there’s Spam and asparagus pie. For the health food police, there are honey wheat crusts. For meat eaters there is all the decadence of this pork state. And for contrarians, there are white-sauce toppings. Don’t forget some “Italian fries” (crusty cheese bread). 2613 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines, 288-7227.
Runners-up: The Tavern, Northern Lights

Best Bakery
La Mie

In this era of starter mixes and extended shelf lives, La Mie represents a great, lost art form — pure, scratch, French-style baking. The pecan rolls sell out early each morning, encouraging their fans to try new delights from the heirloom world of butter and cream baking: breads, croissants, brioches and fruit pastries. 841 42nd St., Des Moines, 255-1625.
Runners-up: Highland Park Bakery, Panera Bread

Best Dessert
Cheesecake Factory

This Los Angeles corporation is so guarded about its 50 cheesecakes and other desserts that, not only are their recipes deemed “proprietary information,” but even their nutritional information is withheld. We didn’t know that was even legal, but clearly the company lawyers, as well as the long lines of cheesecake customers, are convinced that these desserts are the franchise. 101 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, 457-9888.
Runners-up: Flarah’s , Trostel’s Dish

Best BBQ
Famous Dave’s

This Minnesota company is the PF Chang’s of the barbecue world. They carefully research authentic regional cuisines for the purpose of recreating them in a much broader market. Famous Dave’s offers every regional sauce and every barbecue style you can find in America, from Carolina pulled pork to Texas brisket, plus plenty of napkins. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Flying Mango, Big Daddy’s

Best Fried Chicken

This New Orleans company has taken Des Moines by storm and by charm, too, thanks to some of the most personable employees in the restaurant world. Besides being the favorite for chicken, Popeye’s suburban store also has total control of metro Des Moines’ underserved soul food market. Don’t forget to eat your red beans, green beans and rice. 4140 Merle Hay Rd., Des Moines, 251-7670.
Runners-up: KFC, High Life Lounge

Best Delicatessen

This hometown company now has neighborly stores all over the metro, delivering cafeteria-style choices in homemade soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. All feature low-cholesterol baking while some stores offer made-to-order breakfasts and gourmet carry out, including a rather famous meat loaf. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Manhattan, Jason’s Deli

Best Onion Rings

The restaurant changed hands two years ago without missing a single beat. “Early bird” dinner specials still fill this place before many others even open. The kitchen proudly carries on its reputation of being a steakhouse for all budgets. The Maxieburger has drawn national press, but the onion rings are a legend in their own right. 1311 Grand Ave., West Des Moines, 223-1463.
Runners-up: The Tavern, La Pizza House

Best French Fries

More than 30 years ago, Ray Kroc risked McDonald’s reputation, and changed the food world forever, by betting customers would accept frozen processed fries. The food police are forcing the chain to change its cooking oil, for the third time now, but we bet they will be back here again next year. Unlike most other fast food competitors, McDonald’s has resisted coating its pure potatoes with starches. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: B-Bops, Okoboji Grill

Best Chicken Wings
Buffalo Wild Wings

This Minneapolis company began in Ohio but always had their heart in Buffalo. With 14 dipping sauces, trivia games, big screen, high-def TV and a boisterous spirit, it’s the sports bar for the Glen Oaks crowd. 6925 Mills Civic Pkwy, West Des Moines, 221-9464.
Runners-up: Hooters, Wing Zone/Francie’s

Best Nachos
The Library Café

While a great place for the Drake set to tie one on, The Library is actually a study in how to make hangovers go away for the rest of us, as this joint gives its visitors grease as good as anyone else in town. The sandwiches rock, the owner makes his own wing sauce and the nachos are Central Iowa’s favorite by an overwhelming tally. Try the smoked chicken variety for some kick. 3506 University Ave., Des Moines, 255-0433.
Runners-up: El Rodeo, Legends

Best Family Restaurant
Machine Shed

Machine Shed owner Mike Whalen bounces back from the flogging Eastern Iowa voters gave him in his November bid for Congress to regain this seat — as Central Iowa voters’ favorite family place. The location adjacent to Living History Farms features huge servings, nostalgic trappings from the wind-grieved days when Iowa was home to real farmers and a complete gift shop to keep the faithful coming back for more. 11151 Hickman Rd., Urbandale, 270-6818.
Runners-up: Drake Diner, Chef’s Kitchen

Best Soup
Panera Bread

Offering a variety of hot soups every day, Panera Bread, a fairly new kid on the block, captured the hearts of our soup-eating readers this year with classics like Roasted Garlic and Tomato, with three types of tomatoes simmered in a rich chicken stock veloutè with roasted garlic, Parmesan cheese, sweet cream and fresh basil; Vegetarian Fiesta Con Queso, with diced onion, corn, roasted red pepper, roasted Anaheim chile, celery, carrots, garlic and spices simmered in a rich, creamy cheese sauce; Broccoli Cheddar; French Onion; and some of the best New England Clam Chowder since Wellman’s. This stuff is to die for and deserving of its cult-like status. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Palmers, Beggar’s Banquet

Best Bar Food
Star Bar

Jeremy Morrow has done as much to upgrade dining in Des Moines as anyone. Introducing Northern California style cuisine at Bistro 43, taking it downtown and then moving on to the all-too-important category of pub food. This goes as far beyond the wings and popcorn clichés as seared ahi, pot stickers and BBQ egg rolls. One Meredith editor calls Jeremy “Des Moines’ best Chinese chef.” 2837 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines, 288-1405.
Runners-up: High Life Lounge, Down Under

Best Bistro Fare
Bistro Montage

French-inspired bistro fare, a menu that changes often and an urban setting on the sizzling-hot Ingersoll corridor explain why Enosh Kelley’s Bistro Montage keeps winning this award. Kelley has always kept the most French of the city’s kitchens, with classical treatments of duck and beef. Lately, sous chef Nick Ellingsworth has taken things further toward the French classics — try the rabbit. 2724 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines, 557-1924.
Runners-up: Sage, Le Mie

Best Wine Selection (Restaurant)
Trostel’s Dish

The awards just keep coming and coming for this oasis of originality and style amidst the state’s greatest concentration of corporate franchise restaurants. 12851 University Ave., Clive, 221-3474.
Runners-up: Sage, 801 Steak & Chop House

Best Beer Selection (Restaurant)
El Bait Shop

No question about it, this downtown pub wins this award in a landslide. El Bait Shop offers a cosmic choice of brews that includes 105 on tap, with the state’s best selection of ales, stouts, pilsners, barley wines and pale ales. It’s also an authentic wood-burning barbecue that applies its smoked meats to its excellent Mexican menu. 200 S.W. 2nd St., Des Moines, 284-1970.
Runners-up: Hessen House, Granite City

Best Micobrewed Beer
Court Avenue Restaurant and Brewing Company

Court Avenue uses their own custom built brewing equipment and carefully selected malts, hops and natural brewing ingredients to create handcrafted ales. Des Moines’ original brew pub makes it easy to sample their wares: order a sampler rack and try all of their beers, from the Two River’s Light (their lightest brew) to the Capital Raspberry (their fruitiest) and Blackhawk Stout (their darkest and most chocolaty). And if you want to enjoy one of their brews in the comfort of your own home, order a half-gallon growler to go. 309 Court Ave., Des Moines, 282-2739.
Runners-up: Raccoon River Brewing Company, Rock Bottom

Best Appetizers Menu
Trostel’s Dish

With a menu featuring textures and tastes not found anywhere else in Central Iowa — including havarti shrimp, an artichoke popsicle and truffled chicken mac and cheese — Trostel’s takes our taste buds on a world cruise via small plates sporting cuisine from Asia, Europe and Latin America. We’ll follow Trostel’s wherever it leads us. Spain, here we come. 12851 University Ave., Clive, 221-3474.
Runners-up: The Continental, Star Bar

Best Place to Blow a Bundle
801 Steak and Chop

801 is the first restaurant in Iowa to win the highly acclaimed DiRoNA Award given by the Distinguished Restaurants of North America, a non-profit that recognizes restaurants exemplifying the highest standards in cuisine, service and décor. Wine Spectator has given 801 its Award of Excellence every year since 1994 for its diverse wine collection. And Cigar Aficionado recognized 801 for its selection of fine cigars and cigar-friendly environment. But what really matters is that Cityview’s readers have found its cuisine, wine and cigars worthy enough to warrant their hard-earned cash. And with the Grand Shellfish appetizer platter coming in at $59.95, we mean all of their cash. 801 Grand Ave., Des Moines, 286-6000.
Runners-up: Flemings, Splash/Sage

Best Restaurant. Period.
Tursi’s Latin King

Tursi’s Latin King is an East Side institution that has served an authentic piece of Italy to patrons since 1947. With a menu that could have originated from your grandmother’s kitchen (if your grandmother’s medium was Italian cuisine), Latin King encourages you to feed your stomach and soul with meatball sandwiches, ravioli casserole and baked lasagna. 2200 Hubbell Ave., Des Moines, 266-4466.
Runners-up: Trostel’s Dish, Centro


Best Locally Owned Store
Best Place Ever

Cityview readers have spoken, and they’ve named Best Place Ever the best place ever. A locally owned purveyor of fine film located in the Drake neighborhood, Best Place Ever is the movie buff’s dream, carrying classic, cult, foreign and indie films along with the helpful opinions of B.P.E.’s erudite staff. They even carry Wholphin, McSweeny’s quarterly dose of short film, documentaries and animation. 1159 24th St., Des Moines, 255-4332.
Runners-up: Smash/Back Country Outfitters, Zzz Records/Rasmussen Bike Shop

Best New Store
Tie: Beaverdale Books and Mars Café

Readers felt so passionately about Beaverdale Books and Mars Café that they couldn’t choose one over the other when deciding which is Des Moines’ best new store. But really, we couldn’t think of two stores better suited to share the limelight. On the one hand, we have an independent bookstore that has energized local bookworms through its book events and impeccable selection. On the other, we have an independent coffee shop offering a jolt and a buzz with its menu of espresso drinks, tea, wine and beer. Books and beverages: a match made in heaven. Beaverdale Books: 2629 Beaver Ave., Des Moines, 279-5400; Mars Café: 2318 University Ave., 369-MARS.
Runners-up: Fab’rik, Smash

Best Antique Store
Brass Armadillo

Say you accidentally break your boyfriend’s favorite “Return of the Jedi” glass (circa 1983) and need to find a replacement, like, in two minutes. Your best bet would be to head to the sprawling Brass Armadillo, which features more than 450 antique and collectible dealers under one roof. The Armadillo brands itself as a shopping adventure. In the case of an antique emergency, it’s also a lifesaver. 701 N.E. 50th Ave., Des Moines, 282-0082.
Runners-up: A OK Antiques, West End Architectural Salvage

Best Furniture Store

We are certain that Homemakers’ discounted pricing on brand name furniture (La Z Boy, Tempur-Pedic) played a big part in why readers once again chose Homemakers as their most loved sofa/mattress/ottoman dealer. And their large clearance store, a friend to the budget-conscience, allows one to deck out their living space guilt free. But when it comes down to it, Homemakers serves the best fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies west of Grandma’s kitchen and proves that the way to a person’s patronage is through their stomach. 10215 Douglas Ave., Des Moines, 276-2772; 5035 Hubbell Ave., Des Moines, 265-3481.
Runners-up: Slumberland, Projects

Best Men’s Clothing Store (Dressy)
Von Maur

If a long sleeve silk mock turtleneck, a textured woven button up, a half-zip sweatshirt, Lucky Brand jeans, a Bosca wallet and Armani cologne are on your shopping list, consider Von Maur to be your one-stop shop. 1551 Valley West Dr., West Des Moines, 223-1311.
Runners-up: Reichardt’s, Mr. B’s Clothing/Badowers

Best Women’s Clothing Store (Dressy)
Von Maur

Von Maur has grown from a 20-by-50-foot rented storefront in Davenport to a 22-store chain found in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio. Their focus on customer service (interest-free credit cards, free gift wrapping and shipping) and brand name fashion (Burberry, Misook) have cemented their brand in the minds, and wallets, of our readers. 1551 Valley West Dr., West Des Moines, 223-1311.
Runners-up: Younkers, Sarto

Best Men’s Clothing Store (Casual)

If you’re in the market to buy a new screen-printed T-shirt, a pair of Adidas shorts and a pair of Levi’s jeans for under $60, then Younkers is the store for you. Jordan Creek Town Center and Valley West Mall.
Runners-up: Von Maur, G&L Clothing

Best Women’s Clothing Store (Casual)

If you’re looking for a great sale on Cuddl Dudds, Columbia jackets, wool clothing, skirts and blouses, you’ll find them at Younkers. And don’t forget the discounted leather handbags. Jordan Creek Town Center and Valley West Mall.
Runners-up: Von Maur, Gap

Best Thrift Store

An English proverb says, “Poverty is not a shame, but being ashamed of it is.” In the metro we take that to mean, shopping at a second hand store is not a shame, and nor should you be ashamed for doing it. Anywhere you can find a used bowling jacket ranks high in our books, and Goodwill is that kind of place. It’s also the place to refurbish your home or pick up gifts of any stripe. Multiple locations.
Runners Up: Salvation Army, Dav: Thrift Store

Best Bridal Shop
Schaffer’s Bridal

A woman’s wedding is meant to be a lasting memory, but so, too, is the lead up to the big day. Schaffer’s has helped thousands of Central Iowan women prepare for their weddings. They’ve also branched out to providing prom gowns and accessories, as well as tuxedos. With more than 55 years of experience, Schaffer’s staff members know formal wear, and over the years they’ve also gotten to know Central Iowans. 601 E. Locust St. and 504 E. Locust St., Des Moines, 288-0356.
Runners Up: Weddings By Design, David’s Bridal

Best Auto Shop
Drake Garage

Nice and helpful aren’t words typically used to describe mechanics, but Drake’s Garage isn’t staffed by your typical mechanics. They’re the kind of guys who will tell you straight up if they can’t fix your car’s problem before running those expensive “tests.” They’ll even point you in the direction of someone who can. Of course, there’s only the odd time they’ll be unable to make your repairs. But it’s those unexpected courtesies that make this place great. 918 42nd St., Des Moines, 255-6159.
Runners Up: Terry’s Auto Service Inc., Scotty’s Auto Body Shop

Best Flower Shop
Boesen, The Florist

The Boesen family has deep roots in Beaverdale, and has grown its flower business into a local empire. Whether it’s a wedding, a last minute Valentine’s Day gift, or a get-out-of-the-dog-house bouquet, they’ve got you covered. Multiple locations.
Runners Up: Hy-Vee, Flowerama

Best Sporting Goods
Scheels All Sports

Scheels began as a general store back in 1902 but has since become a sporting goods giant. The Jordan Creek store, for instance, boasts 179,000 square feet of retail. You can buy anything from firearms to Iowa college apparel, while at the same time nibbling on some fudge. 101 Jordan Creek Pkwy, West Des Moines, 727-4065.
Runners Up: Sports Authority, Sportsman’s Warehouse

Best Grocery Store
Dahl’s Foods

Dahl’s Foods does it again. It’s 70-plus years of serving the metro have earned them a healthy following. Multiple locations.
Runners Up: Hy-Vee, Fareway

Best Hair Salon
Salon Utopia

The competition for coiffeurs in Des Moines has heated up in the last few years. The East Village now boasts Salon W and West Des Moines has its Sahar’s Salon and Spa. But Salon Utopia, on University Avenue in Des Moines, is this year’s favorite. They offer cuts, styling, waxing, coloring, texturing, you name it. 1208 42nd St., Des Moines, 274-1888.
Runners up: Bella, Blonde’s

Best Spa
Sahar’s Salon and Spa

Maybe it’s the complimentary herbal teas and bottled water, or the yoga, or the Japanese bath, or the hot stone pedicure or the fact you can get it all done without exceeding your credit limit. Whatever its secret, Sahar’s continues to be Central Iowa’s favorite local spot for R and R. 4100 Westown Pkwy, West Des Moines, 225-7952.
Runners Up: Spa at West Glen, Estilo Salon and Day Spa

Best Shoes
Von Maur

Nothing beats picking out shoes to the soothing and gentle sound of a piano playing in the background. That’s the Von Maur experience. The selection is also something to remember. This classic retailer boasts everything from Anne Klein pumps to Uggs to Frye boots. 1551 Valley West Dr., West Des Moines, 223-1311.
Runners Up: DSW, Payless

Best Electronics Store
Best Buy

Anyone who has ever gone looking for a modem for their PS2 at 8:30 on a Saturday night knows Best Buy has the largest inventory in town. That’s comforting for those of us who depend on electronics when our “friends” are nowhere to be found. Best Buy also has a Geek Squad staff of computer experts, for those interested in good conversation or fixing their laptops. Multiple locations.
Runners Up: American, Traviss Audio Video

Best Bike Shop
Rasmussen Bike Shop

If at all possible after winning Cityview readers’ endorsement last year, Rasmussen has become an even bigger part of the Central Iowa cycling community by sponsoring the 2007 Hy-Vee Triathlon. The triathlon’s $700,000 purse is one of the largest in the sport’s history. If you’re interested in capturing some of the prize money, or just want to get back out on two wheels, visit the guys on Grand Avenue’s bike establishment. 301 Grand Ave., West Des Moines, 277-2636.
Runners Up: Bike World, Barr Bike and Fitness

Best Outdoor Store
Scheels All Sports

Any store that started in the 1900s knows how to equip hunters, adventurers and weekend warriors for trips to the wild. 101 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, 727-4065.
Runners Up: Back Country Outfitters, Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Best Hotel/Motel
Hotel Fort Des Moines

This hotel is a metro landmark, having hosted a plethora of famous folks in its rooms in the many decades it’s been open. Today, the hotel is also home to the Raccoon River Brewing Company, Chequers Lounge and hosts events like the Winter Blues Festival. The hotel embodies Iowa’s past and hopefully will be with us far into the future. 1000 Walnut St., Des Moines, 243-1161.
Runners Up: Embassy Suites, Locust Street Suites

Best Drug Store
Hy-Vee Drug Town

A resurgent Hy-Vee Drug Town knocked Walgreens out of the top spot this year. While Walgreens seems to have the corner staked out at almost every intersection in the metro, Hy-Vee has started building mini-grocery store sized pharmacies. The stores are also being re-branded as Hy-Vee Drugstores, perhaps because Drug Town sounded a little like a ’60s artist colony. Check out the one on University Avenue in Urbandale — a great example of their super-sized pharms. Multiple locations.
Runners Up: Walgreens, Bauder’s Pharmacy

Best Car Wash
Mister Car Wash

He’s back. Mister Car Wash retains the crown of best place to get that salty film off your car when the mercury pops above 35 F; or at any other time you care to spiff up your wheels. Nothing beats watching a team of professionals do in 10 minutes what would normally occupy your afternoon. Great coupons are available at Multiple locations.
Runners Up: Executive Wash, Soaks

Best Bookstore
Barnes and Noble

This bookstore is the corporate giant with the personal touch, and has been Central Iowa’s favorite for a number of years. The bookseller’s two West Des Moines locations have plenty of room for getting lost in the world of words, and offer an oasis of espresso if you need to take a breather. Barnes and Noble also regularly host community events, which is a nice touch. 101 Jordan Creek Pkwy, West Des Moines, 453-2980; 4550 University Ave., West Des Moines, 221-9171.
Runners Up: Borders, Beaverdale Books

Best Used Bookstore
Half Price Books

This Texas-based discount bookseller is a nationwide chain with 85 retail stores in 14 states. They buy and sell books, and in the process boast they’ve “recycled” 16 million tomes, saving several large forests in the process. A good product, a good price and saving the environment — they’ve got a winning formula. 8801 University Ave., Clive, 224-4429.
Runners Up: Well Read Books, Planned Parenthood

Best Health Food Store
Campbell’s Nutrition

While diet fads tend to fizzle out, eating healthy, organic foods seems to be here to stay. Good thing stores like Campbell’s are around, because we all know if it ain’t easy, we won’t do it. This is a locally owned health-food market that offers people not just good products, but a Web site that provides tips on how to live a healthier lifestyle. Campbell’s isn’t just organic foods — they sell a host of supplements as well. Multiple locations.
Runners Up: New City Market, GNC

Best Jewelry Store

Diamonds are forever and Joseph’s stronghold on this category is almost as long lasting as Cityview readers once again vote the popular retailer as Best Jewelry Store. Whether you’re looking for that perfect rock to give to
your soulmate or a quality stone for an anniversary or birthday, you can find it all at Joseph’s. Multiple locations.
Runners Up: Anglo, 2AU Limited

Best Massage Therapist
Ted Kunkle at Liz Taylor Yoga

Ted Kunkle has made a name for himself, and his hands, in the metro by offering something we all need: therapeutic massage. He’s renowned for using Eastern and Western forms of massage in order to maximize the healing of “body and spirit.” Ahhh. 11049 Aurora Ave., Urbandale, 779-4483.
Runners-up: Sally Logan at Helping Hands, Leslie Cook at The Magic Touch

Best Car Dealer (Domestic)
Betts Auto Campus

Betts is one of the few locally owned dealerships to survive the onslaught of out-of-state buyers. This dealer knows how to give Central Iowans what they want: American classics. Betts is known for carrying Cadillacs and Hummers. Betts also includes Lexus, Volvo and Jaguar in their inventory, if your patriotism is eclipsed by practicality. 9800 Hickman Rd., and 2121 N.W. 100th St. in Des Moines, 632-4966.
Runners-up: Bob Brown Chevrolet, Karl Chevrolet

Best Car Dealer (Foreign)
Jordan Motors

This dealer claims its success is built on “trust,” and it seems to be working. Jordan Motors retains the title of the metro’s best foreign car dealer. The Merle Hay Auto Mile dealership specializes in the cars Americans love to buy, but don’t typically brag about because they’re f-o-r-e-i-g-n: Nissan, Honda, Infiniti and Acura. 5138 Merle Hay Rd., Johnston, 727-7080.
Runners-up: Betts Auto Campus, Toyota of Des Moines

Best Tanning Salon
Visual Impact Hair & Tanning

Spending spring break at a tropical location sounds like a good idea until you reach the beach and realize you’re so pale you make Casper the Ghost look like George Hamilton. Thank goodness for the folks at Visual Impact Hair & Tanning. The defending champions of Best Tanning Salon in Cityview’s Best Of can turn that Iowa winter malaise into a sexy Caribbean glow that lasts longer than spring break itself. 1985 N.W. 94th St., Clive, 331-8910; 4209 Fleur Drive, Des Moines, 256-6387.
Runners-up: Classic Tan, Tan World

Best Wine Store
Ingersoll Wine & Spirit

Wine connoisseurs of all tastes are abuzz about Ingersoll Wine & Spirit. And it’s not just the Cabernet talking. The Ingersoll Avenue retailer has been in business for 16 years and has a second location in West Des Moines, where it hosts wine tastings. The staffs at both locations are eager to help you select that perfect bottle of wine to make you the life of the party. 3500 Ingersoll Ave., 255-3191; 1300 50th St., West Des Moines, 327-9191.
Runners-up: Wine Experience, Wine House

Best Pet Store

Searching for that perfect cat toy for Miss Kitty or a studded collar for your iguana, Guido, but you want their input before you make a decision on what to buy? Petco is the place “where the pets go,” but it’s also top dog in the minds of Central Iowa animal lovers. From custom accessories to specialty foods to animals, Petco’s super-stores are virtual can’t-miss animal kingdoms located throughout the metro.
Runners-up: Pet Smart, Iowa Pet Foods

Best Hardware Store
Ace Hardware

It’s the weekend, you’ve got your “work” clothes on and it’s time that you finally got around to tackling some yard work or that home repair job your wife has been nagging you about for the last six months. But if you’re like most of our readers, you probably don’t have the right tools for the job, which means you’re headed to Ace Hardware for some last minute shopping and expert advice. From seasonal rental equipment to basic necessities — just like the commercial says — “Ace is the place.” Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Miller’s Hardware, Lowes

Best Greenhouse/Nursery
Earl May Garden Center

Maybe it’s their product line, or the fact they’ve been around since 1919, or that you can call in to one of the local television stations and ask one of their spokesmen for advice on when to transfer peonies or how to get rid of chinch bugs that makes Earl May so popular with lawn and garden enthusiasts. In all likelihood, it’s a combination of the aforementioned and more that keeps Earl May at the top of our Best Of Readers Poll each year as Best Greenhouse/Nursery. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Goode’s Greenhouse, Boesen the Florist

Best Big Box Store for Everything

Don’t believe us when we say you can buy just about anything under the sun at Target? Just ask one of the thousands of college students who every August make their annual pilgrimage to a local Target store to stock up on everything they need for the school year. Where else can you find a bra, a set of patio furniture, allergy medicine and an electric guitar under one roof? Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Wal Mart, Costco

Best Shopping District
West Glen Town Center

The great thing about Cityview readers is that they span socio-economic classes. True, we get the tattooed, inked punks. But we also get those in their 30s and 40s and, dare we say, 50s, who have some coin in the bank as evidenced by West Glen winning Best Shopping District. The West Des Moines town center mostly caters to the rich, but it also has some affordable places, too, which is why it should come as no surprise our readers frequent the eclectic, upscale shops there.
Runners-up: East Village, Jordan Creek

Best Music Store
Zzz Records

As purveyors of local, independent music we feel a certain kinship to Zzz Records, one of Des Moines’ last independent record shops. And we’re happy to report that our readers feel the same way. The East Village shop is everything a music lover dreams of — a rustic place where you can spend hours unearthing musical treasures (used and new, analog and digital) without breaking the bank or feeling guilty about handing your money over to a corporate giant. Owner Nate Niceswanger has even expanded the store’s offerings and retail space, which is sweet music to our ears. 424 E. Locust St., 284-1401.
Runners-up: Best Buy, Barnes and Noble

Best Place to Rent a Movie
Best Place Ever

What’s in a name? How about Best Place Ever for the Best Place to Rent a Movie? Need we say anymore? OK, now back to the movie. 1159 24th St., 255-4332.
Runners-up: Blockbuster, Netflix

Best Store for Gamers

Video game players might wish they lived in a virtual world, but the reality is without a place like Gamers to feed their habit, they would be up a higher level without a memory card… er, something like that. The South Side shop prides itself in staying ahead of the video game curve by offering popular titles and hard-to-find games. Where else are you going to go when “Full Auto 2: Battlelines” and “Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific” are released next month? 3021 S.E. 14th St., 256-1503.
Runners-up: Game Stop, Best Buy

Best Liquor Store
Ingersoll Wine & Spirit

We told you how wine connoisseurs enjoy shopping at Ingersoll Wine & Spirit, but the longtime retailer is also a hit with whiskey shooters and beer chasers. Whether you’re looking for exotic beers, fine champagnes or top-shelf bourbons, you’ll find it all at Ingersoll Wine & Spirit. Bottoms up! 3500 Ingersoll Ave., 255-3191; 1300 50th St., West Des Moines, 327-9191.
Runners-up: Hy-Vee, Central City Liquor

Culture and Nightlife

Best Strip Club
The Lumber Yard

You could spend your hard-earned dollar on a cup of coffee. Or you could stick it in the g-string of one of the Lumber Yard’s hard working strippers. Your choice. 1504 N.E. 54th Ave., Des Moines, 265-1019.
Runners-up: The Minx, Beach Girls

Best Bar (Overall)
Down Under Bar and Grill

It appears the Down Under predicted their victory when they chose as their Web site address. AOL Cityguide describes Down Under as a “playground for the big kid in you,” referring to Down Under’s pool and darts tournaments and video golf. We like to think of it as a bar that suits our reader’s every mood, providing strong drinks and food, such as Aussie fries (covered in cheddar and bacon), sandwiches and steaks, made to sustain a long night of hobnobbing. 8350 Hickman Rd., Des Moines, 278-6718.
Runners-up: Star Bar, The Royal Mile

Best Local Artist
Lee Ann Conlan

After graduating from Drake University with a B.F.A. in drawing, in 1997, Conlan taught at the Des Moines Art Center for a year before becoming a full-time, self-employed artist. Since then, her complex and layered work, which includes drawings, paintings and mixed media, has been exhibited at Artdive, the Embassy Club, Fitch Gallery and Vets auditorium. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, you can view Conlan’s work at
Runners-up: Alan Kinsey, The Nadas

Best Place to Take Your Kids
Science Center of Iowa

It’s no wonder that the Science Center of Iowa has been crowned “Best Place to Take Your Kids” two years in a row. Just take a look at a typical day at the center: Story time in Toddler Town; First Alert Storm School with Channel 13 and showings of “Happy Feet” in the Blank IMAX Dome Theater, which features a 12,000 watt digital surround sound system. And with evening events like “The Secrets of Chocolate,” the center engages the curious child in all of us. 401 Martin Luther King Jr. Pkwy, Des Moines, 274-4138.
Runners-up: Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines Art Center

Best Place to Gamble
Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

If you had to wager on which casino ranks number one in the hearts of Cityview readers, it would be a safe bet to place your money on Prairie Meadows. For the second year in a row, readers have nearly unanimously voted Prairie Meadows as the number one place to roll up their sleeves and test their luck. The casino regularly features promotions, such as Poker Palooza, and is adding 400 more slots to their already noteworthy collection of 1,750 machines. And don’t forget your eat’n dress: like any first-class casino, Prairie Meadows has its own in-house buffet. 1 Prairie Meadows Drive, Altoona, 967-1000.
Runners-up: Terrible’s Lakeside Casino, Horseshoe Casino

Best Place to Count Mullets
Iowa State Fair

While some readers voted for “any gun show,” “Wal-Mart” and even the Cityview office (thanks!), an overwhelming majority of voters confirmed that the Iowa State Fair is ground zero for the hairstyle we love to disparage. We realize this is no surprise to anyone, least of all our mullet-conscious readers. The pervasiveness of the State Fair Mullet leaves us to wonder: is it something in the fairground’s water? Are we all just one fried-cheese-on-a-stick away from growing a mullet of our own?
Runners-up: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Southridge Mall

Best Gay/Lesbian Hangout
The Blazing Saddle

If Kathy Griffin were dropped on the steps of the State Capitol and let out her famous salutation “where my gays at,” she’d hear our readers shout, “the Saddle!” With its promise of always a double and never a cover (more like a triple; the Saddle has the most generous bartenders in town) and a separate dance bar that plays host to the likes of Lady Bunny, the Saddle is the watering hole of choice for Des Moines’ lesbian and gay community. And lesbian-and-gay-loving straight people, too. 416 East 5th St., 246-1299.
Runners-up: The Garden, Ritual Café

Best Place for a Game of Pool
Raccoon River Brewing Company

Once again, our readers have crowned Raccoon River Brewing Company king of pool halls. Now providing a smoke-free environment, Raccoon offers patrons seven pool tables that are available for rent by the hour. On Saturdays, pool is free from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. While you rack ’em up, try one of Raccoon’s microbrews, which range from the surprisingly sweet (Vanilla Cream Ale) to the chest hair-nurturing blackness of the Stonecutter Stout. 200 10th St, Des Moines, 362-5222.
Runners-up: Stix, Big Dog Billiards

Best Sports Bar
Third Base

While Cityview readers can pride themselves on being intelligent, independent thinkers, an overwhelming majority agree on one thing: the best place to watch the big game is Third Base. Boasting over 20 TVs, over 20 beers on tap and a menu straight out of the NFL kitchen cook book — including burgers, hot dogs, pizza, tenderloins, nachos and wings — Third Base provides all the creature comforts needed to get through a devastating loss or celebrate that miraculous win. 1720 25th St., West Des Moines, 221-0150.
Runners-up: Autographs Rock and Roll Sports Bar/Legends, Rookies

Best Happy Hour

The happiest hours once again belong to the original fun bar, not only because of its drink menu, featuring the Get’er Done (Malibu, strawberry schnapps, cranberry juice) and the Pada Ping (Bacardi Limon, Bacardi O, Bacardi Razz, Triple Sec, cranberry juice and margarita mix), but because of its drink prices — all drinks are half price during happy hour (4 p.m. – 6:45 p.m., weekdays). Tuesdays are pint nights, featuring $1 pints on domestic beer all night long. You better plan on taking a sick day Wednesday. 8410 Hickman Rd, Clive, 270-6274.
Runners-up: The Continental, Court Avenue Brewing Company

Best Place to Drink by Yourself
Honey, can you bring me another beer? Thanks. Yet again, Cityview readers shunned the dim lights, chatty barflies and non-happy hour prices found in their neighborhood watering hole and chose to drink their hours away in the comfort of their own home. Honey, I said I want that beer, now. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: The Lift, Blues on Grand

Best Bar for Old Hippies
Greenwood Lounge

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a hippy is, “a young person associated with a subculture which rejected traditional social values, advocated peace and free love and adopted an unconventional appearance.” Nowhere does the dictionary mention Greenwood Lounge. Regardless, once again Greenwood Lounge is believed to be the HQ for peaceful, free loving and unconventional old people. Peace.
3707 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines.
Runners-up: Yacht Club, Blues on Grand

Best Place to See Beautiful People

The original fun bar continues to be fun for readers who don’t mind swapping their tennis shoes for a pair of John Varvatos boots, their jeans for Marc Jacobs twill and their Aquaman T-shirt for some attention-grabbing Juicy Couture embroidered poplin. Drink continues to be the destination for readers who find that a good night out can also be a good-looking night out. 8410 Hickman Rd., Clive, 270-6274.
Runners-up: Jordan Creek Mall, Crush

Best Bartender
Harold Otis, Tursi’s Latin King

Tursi’s Latin King has been serving up Italian delicacies on Des Moines’ East Side since 1947. And while their New York Strip and creamy Penne Regine reward taste buds and stomachs alike, Cityview readers aren’t afraid to skip the solids and devote an evening to a liquid diet prepared by Latin King’s Harold Otis. Harold, make it a double. 2200 Hubbell Ave., Des Moines, 266-4466.
Runners-up: John, The Lift, Lindsay Wurst, Trostel’s Dish

Best Martini
The Lift

The Lift retains its title as the home of Des Moines’ best martini with a martini list that ranges from the sublime — the Blue, made with vanilla vodka, Blue Curacao and lemonade — to the sassy — the Mango Slut, made with mango rum, Peachtree and orange juice. On Wednesday’s, martinis are priced at $4 a piece or two for $6 from 4 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. So really, there isn’t any reason to drink just one. 222 4th St., Des Moines.
Runners-up: Trostel’s Dish, Lucca


Best Margarita
El Rodeo

Cityview readers once again confirmed that they prefer their chips and salsa with a side of margarita. And that margarita better be made at El Rodeo. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Carlos O’Kelly’s/El Aquila Real, On the Border

Best Dive Bar
Carl’s Place

Last year, Carl’s Place trailed the Greenwood Lounge for best dive bar. But this year, readers agreed that when they are on the hunt for a dark, smoky and reasonably priced bar where they can play darts and pool, Carl’s is king. 1620 Woodland Ave., Des Moines, 246-9831.
Runners-up: Greenwood Lounge, Locust Tap

Best Dance Club
The Garden

The Garden continues it reign as the best place to shake your money maker with its Dance Hall — where the best of progressive house, progressive trance, hard house, Chicago house and popular remixes are featured — and Video Bar — featuring original dance mixes, Hip Hop and R&B. The Garden gives you a stage on which to nurture your inner dance diva while sweating out that Cosmo (because who really needs those extra calories anyway?). 112 S.E. 4th St., Des Moines, 243-3965.
Runners-up: Crush, Miss Kitty’s

Best New Bar
El Bait Shop

To win this category, a bar must spark the imagination and satisfy the unquenchable thirst of Cityview readers (which is no small feat). In the competitive race to win the title best new bar, El Bait Shop finishes first, thanks to its colossal collection of beer (105 on tap) paired with fine Mexican cuisine — the menu features carnitas, burritos and fried jalapenos. And the in-house shower doesn’t hurt either. 200 S.W. 2nd St., Des Moines, 284-1970.
Runners-up: Star Bar, Tonic/Cabaret West Glen

Best Live Music Venue
Vaudeville Mews

Feel like listening to some acoustic guitar? What about a little garage rock? Maybe you have a hankering for some alt-country. Whatever your mood, the Mews can provide the soundtrack to your social life by offering an intimate space to enjoy live music, in a smoke free environment. 212 4th St., Des Moines, 243-3270.
Runners-up: House of Bricks, Blues on Grand

Best Downtown Hangout
The Lift

The Lift makes it easy for Cityview readers to consider the bar their home away from home. Every aspect of the space, from the comfort of its lived-in couches to the privacy created by well-worn pews, invites patrons to make themselves at home. Want to meet a friend for drinks? Want a relaxed space to pass the time reading while sipping on the city’s best martini? Want to view artwork that invites discussion and can easily be adored? The readers have spoken: go to the Lift. 222 4th St., Des Moines, 288-3777.
Runners-up: The Royal Mile, Hi-Life Lounge

Best West Side Hangout

Already crowned with the titles best happy hour and best place to see beautiful people, it’s no wonder why the West Side considers Drink to be the best hangout. Affordable drinks plus beautiful people: you do the math. 8410 Hickman Rd., Clive, 270-6274.
Runners-up: Tonic, Down Under Bar and Grill

Best Place to Hook Up

Like “Dreamgirls” at the Golden Globe Awards, Drink is sweeping our 2007 Best of Des Moines readers poll. Our judicious readers have proclaimed it as their favorite West Side hangout, ground zero for eye candy and home to the happiest happy hour. And now, it’s also considered to be the best place to snog. At this point, a visit from Beyonce is not out of the question. 8410 Hickman Rd., Clive, 270-6274.
Runners-up: Aura/The Blazing Saddle, Crush

Best Jukebox
Greenwood Lounge

The results of our reader’s poll have revealed an interesting correlation between old hippies and jukeboxes. While we ponder that, we’ll quote jukebox-favorite Foreigner: “Now he needs to keep rock’n/He just can’t stop/Gotta keep on rock’n/That boy has got to stay on top/And be a juke box hero, got stars in his eyes/He’s a juke box hero, got stars in his eyes.” 3707 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines.
Runners-up: Alpine Tap, The Royal Mile/Red Monk

Best Annual Event
Iowa State Fair

What more can be said about this spectacle? The state fair is just one of those things you need to see before you die, someone who wrote a book once said. The thought of chewing on a giant turkey drumstick while wiping sweat from the brow and spotting a mullet is heaven for Central Iowans. Keep up the good work carnies, and we’ll be there in ’07.
Runners Up: Des Moines Arts Festival, Drake Relays

Best Place to Take Visitors
Iowa State Fair

Who hasn’t spent that frustrating afternoon flipping through the what-to-do in Iowa guidebook, only to find nothing more exiting than a trip to Herbert Hoover’s birthplace? Thank you, State Fair. Iowa’s annual spectacle remains the number one place to take visiting relatives, friends or those out of towners you just met at the bar.
Runners Up: Farmers Market, Science Center

Best Museum
Des Moines Art Center

The best museums in Central Iowa haven’t changed in the past year, according to our readers. The Des Moines Art Center, founded in 1948, remains on top — perhaps because it offers free admission to a nationally ranked art gallery. It also gives us a chance to expand our worldview, just ask anyone who has been to see “Hug: Recent Work by Patricia Piccinini.” Those bats are creepy. 4700 Grand Ave., Des Moines, 277-4405.
Runners Up: Historical Building, Science Center

Best Place to People Watch
Iowa State Fair

At the time of this writing, there were 175 days, 13 hours and 17 minutes until the 2007 fair. Oh, we can’t wait.
Runners Up: Jordan Creek Mall, Downtown Farmers’ Market

Best Elected Official
Gov. Tom Vilsack

Former Gov. Vilsack retains the title, which we think should become a campaign talking point. “We may not be registering in the polls, but we were voted Best Of…” Vilsack continues to trail super stars like Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the polls, but the Iowa Caucuses are still a year away. And, as we tend to forget, Vilsack has never lost a race.
Runners Up: Gov. Chet Culver, Attorney General Tom Miller

Best Adult Store
Romantix Adult Emporium

Romantix is not the kind of place you need to wear a trench coat and sunglasses in order to shop at. It’s an “emporium,” which means good selection and no skevey truckers. Good selection of what, you might ask? Any thing you can fantasize about, or search for online. Multiple locations.
Runners Up: The Gallery, Christal’s

Best Body Piercing/Tattoo Shop
Skin Kitchen

This Doulgas Avenue tattoo parlor has been a metro favorite for many years. The artists have earned a solid reputation for masterfully inking their clients arms, legs, backs, chests. If you’re thinking about getting a tattoo, check out to see a gallery of their work. 2607 Douglas Ave. Suite C Des Moines, 255-4430.
Runners Up: Sacred Skin, Yankee Doodle Dandy Tattoo

Best Place to Catch a Flick
Fleur Cinema and Cafè

Fleur Cinema is, how do you say, civilized. It’s the kind of theatre where you can pick between “Notes on a Scandal,” “Pan’s Labyrinth,” or “Letters From Iwo Jima,” depending how you’re feeling. The café offers a selection varying from espresso to beer or wine; however, cash is required because they don’t take checks or cards. 4545 Fleur Dr., Des Moines, 287-4545.
Runners Up: Century 20 Jordan Creek, Wynnsong 16

Best Theatrical Venue
Civic Center of Greater Des Moines

The Civic Center gives Des Moines a taste of Big Time theater by bringing in fresh off of Broadway touring productions like “Doubt” and “Mama Mia.” It also lets local talents from StageWest exercise their thespian tendencies at Stoner Theatre. The Comedy Xperiment is also staging performances at Stoner. All in all, the Civic Center has been a theatrical boon for Central Iowans. 221 Walnut St., Des Moines, 243-0766.
Runners Up: Des Moines Playhouse, The Temple for Performing Arts


Best Art Gallery
Deck the Walls

Named one of DÉCOR magazine’s Top 100 Art and Framing Retailers in the country for the last three years, Deck the Walls at Merle Hay Mall is also a favorite of Cityview readers who voted the custom frame shop and art retailer as this year’s Best Art Gallery. Deck the Walls carries more than 2,000 art prints ranging from posters to limited edition giclee canvases. You can also find limited edition works of art by artists like Terry Redlin, Charles Peterson and Judy Larson, as well as items from legendary artists like Norman Rockwell and Ansel Adams. Merle Hay Mall, 3800 Merle Hay Rd., 253-0218.
Runners-up: Moberg, Kenneth Paul

Best Radio Personality
Brian Gongol, WHO Newsradio

When it comes to Best Radio Personality, our readers are tuned in to WHO-AM 1040’s “The Brian Gongol Show” every Sunday night from 9 to 10 p.m. where host Brian Gongol holds court about making money and having fun. The Valley High School and University of Northern Iowa graduate started with Newsradio 1040 WHO in 1997 as an intern in the news department and has worked there as a reporter and producer. He has hosted his own show since 2003 and runs his own Web site where you can find out all kinds of stuff about Gongol including his dream to host a late-night show. Consider this win a good start.
Runners-up: Van Harden, Colleen Kelly

Best-Looking Media Personality
Stacey Horst, KCCI-TV

How sexy is KCCI anchorwoman Stacey Horst? In the two short years she has worked for KCCI-TV Channel 8, she has made us forget about the woman who used to sit opposite of Kevin Cooney, and we’re thinking about naming the Best-Looking Media Personality category after her, judging by the landslide in which she has won it for the second consecutive year. Each night she tantalizes us with her eyes, her hair, her clothes, the smooth way she reads the news and her cool demeanor, but we know we’re preaching to the choir. In short, the local news has never looked so good.
Runners-up: Erin Kiernan, John Bachman

Best TV Station for News

Nielsen Media Research polls have shown that KCCI-TV Channel 8 has dominated the local evening news market, and, much like the ratings, the CBS affiliate has a tight grip on Cityview’s unscientific Best Of poll, too, making it a repeat winner in the coveted Best TV Station for News category. Over the years, Iowans have come to trust the folks at KCCI-TV. And with on-air stars like Kevin Cooney (Best Local News Commentator or Columnist), Stacey Horst (Best-Looking Media Personality) and John McLaughlin (Best Meteorologist) leading the way it is no wonder they continue to topple the competition.
Runners-up: WHO-TV Channel 13, WOI-TV Channel 5

Best Media Personality Who Should Seriously Consider Another Career
Erin Kiernan, WHO-TV

Last year, Erin Kiernan was a runner-up in this category even though she spent considerable time off-camera due to the terms of a non-compete clause in her contract while switching jobs from KCCI-TV to WHO-TV. Apparently, our readers were even less than impressed by Kiernan once she was on the air on a regular basis.
Runners-up: Ed Wilson, Bobbi Bergman

Best Local Sports Commentator or Columnist
Keith Murphy, WHO-TV

WHO-TV Sports Director Keith Murphy is that rare sports journalist who can be funny and serious in the same broadcast and come off as credible in both instances. Over the years, he has raised the bar of local television sports reporting through his dry humor, his willingness to tell stories outside of the mainstream and his ability to engage the average sports fan during his Sunday night show “SoundOFF.” No wonder he keeps winning our Best Local Sports Commentator or Columnist award.
Runners-up: Andy Garman, Heidi Soliday

Best Local News Commentator or Columnist
Kevin Cooney, KCCI-TV

This category is to recognize members of the media who make a living sharing their opinion, so we’re pretty sure a straight-ahead news man like Kevin Cooney might agree with us that he is a curious choice for this award given the fact that he delivers the news each night on KCCI-TV Channel 8 without bias and keeps his opinions to himself (which is probably why readers also voted Cooney as Best Local TV Anchor). Nonetheless, there’s no denying Cooney’s popularity, and we wouldn’t want to deprive him of the recognition he deserves. As for the runners-up, good call on Marc Hansen, and touché on the other. Pretty funny.
Runners-up: Marc Hansen, Rekha Basu

Best Local Talk Radio Show
Big Ken and Colleen, STAR 102.5 KSTZ

Always the bridesmaids, but never the bride, Ken Auge and Colleen Kelly — hosts of STAR 102.5 KSTZ’s Big Ken and Colleen — have done the unthinkable and toppled big talkers like Jan Mickelson and J. Michael McKoy. For years, the dynamic duo has helped early risers greet the day with a smile thanks to their easy-going and often humorous banter. Whether they’re dishing out Hollywood dirt or digging on the locals, they entertain without offending — even when Big Ken rolls out his “Smarter Than Colleen” routine. All hail the new King and Queen.
Runners-up: Jan Mickelson, Mac’s World

Best Self-Righteous Media Hog
Steve Deace

With all the hype last year surrounding Steve Deace’s move from sports commentator for KXNO general commentator at WHO-AM, we’re not surprised folks voted Deace our Best Self-Righteous Media Hog for the second consecutive year, besting perennial favorite Jan Mickelson once again. After all, how many house ads do listeners have to suffer through boasting about the new show before they want to lock him up in the pen with all the other media hogs?
Runners-up: Jan Mickelson, Erin Kiernan

Best Radio Station
100.3 KDRB-FM “The Bus”

Music fans who think of their car radios as stereo systems and not outlets for incessant chatter and commercials have found a real home at 100.3 KDRB-FM “The Bus,” where a truly eclectic mix of music is the star. The Bus’ jukebox-like mentality bucks the trend of most commercial radio programmers who think everyone fits neatly into a single format. Most music fans are more discerning than that, which is why they ride The Bus every day. Besides, you gotta love a station that plays The Dazz Band’s “Let it Whip” followed by Marshall Tucker’s “Heard It In A Love Song.”
Runners-up: 1040 WHO-AM, 107.5 KISS-FM

Best Elected Official You’d Like to Publicly Flog
George W. Bush

Like the president himself, it’s a no-brainer.
Runners-up: Archie Brooks, Chet Culver

Best Cityview Staffer You’d Like To Publicly Flog
Michael Swanger

Cityview’s editors are usually the ones who take the heat in this category, comes with the job, and we love them for it. Nothing beats, er, is better than getting to write a few words about why your boss deserves a good public flogging. For Swanger, his music criticism aside, we think voters called for his butt because they learned of his penchant for wearing flannel shirts, untucked. Meanwhile, our readers’ dislike for Gaskell continues even with him no longer on the staff.
Runners-up: Jon Gaskell, Michael Gartner and Jim Duncan

Best Drag Queen
Champagne Showers

A few years ago, Cityview asked Champagne Showers to model for a series of photos for our Best Of edition. It was a nice little spread — no pun intended — and we enjoyed watching our male co-workers oogle “her” while not knowing Champagne’s true identity. But we really can’t fault them. Judging by Champagne’s looks, we can assume our former peers won’t be the last ones Champagne fools with her girlish figure. Don’t look now, but it’s raining men.
Runners-up: Stephanie Steele, Ken Larson

Best Local Band/Musician
The Nadas

Des Moines’ pop kings struck a chord with our readers once again as The Nadas defend their title as Best Local Band/Musician for the second consecutive year, edging out two local R&B groups. When the band isn’t touring and recording, they’re busy running their record label, Authentic Records, helping up-and-coming pop-rock acts.
Runners-up: One Nite Stand, Final Mix

Best Local TV Anchor
Kevin Cooney, KCCI-TV

Three things you can count on: death, taxes and KCCI-TV Channel 8’s Kevin Cooney winning the Best Local TV Anchor category. Like clockwork, Iowans tune in to watch Cooney each night and cast their votes each year for him in our annual reader’s poll. This marks the sixth consecutive year Cooney has won the award. As Ken “Hawk” Harrelson would say “You can put it on the board!”
Runners-up: John Bachman, Erin Kiernan

Best Meteorologist
John McLaughlin, KCCI-TV

Is it the size of his mega Doppler? Maybe it’s his ability to fly small aircraft? Or it’s his dry sense of humor? Whatever it is, John McLaughlin a.k.a. Johnny Mac has managed to edge-out his age-old nemesis Ed Wilson once again to retain his title as Best Meteorologist. Looks like sunny days are in the offing for KCCI-TV’s leading weather prognosticator.
Runners-up: Ed Wilson, Brian Karrick

Sports and Recreation

Best Softball/Baseball Diamond
Principal Park

Home to Des Moines’ only professional baseball team, Principal Park unveiled the results of its ambitious $6.8 million renovation project last season, when I-Cubs fans were treated to new seats, a new picnic area, enhanced field lighting and a shiny new scoreboard. On a summer night, there’s no better place to enjoy a cold brewsky while taking in the Capitol and skyline. Go Cubs, and yes, we’ll have another. One Line Drive, Des Moines, 243-6111.
Runners-up: Raccoon River Park, Sec Taylor Field

Best Place to Practice Your Breast Stroke

As we reminded readers last year, we’re talking about swimming here, folks. The YMCA of Greater Des Moines serves more than 66,000 Central Iowans a year through its nine branches. The downtown location sports a four-lane pool that hosts lap and open swim times. Race you to the deep end. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Prairie Life, Urbandale Aquatic Center

Best Place To Do It In Public
Gray’s Lake Park

The City of Des Moines’ Web site proudly proclaims Gray’s Lake Park as “the place to meet” because of its “many opportunities for walking, biking, and other activities.” Thanks to our amorous readers, whose favorite recreational activity falls in the “other” category, the city can be equally proud in proclaiming Gray’s Lake as the place to meet… in the bushes. Located at Fleur and George Flagg Parkway.
Runners-up: Greenwood Plaza, Click’s in Valley West Mall

Best Place to Bowl
Plaza Lanes Family Fun Center

Cityview’s readers love to score (and this time we mean with bowling balls) at Plaza Lanes, now in its second year of holding the title “Best Place to Bowl.” And while everyone says they bowl for the exercise, we know people choose Plaza so they can indulge in their delish chicken wings and fried cheddar balls. Bowling rates range from $3.19 to $4.19, with Lazer Bowling on Saturdays for $12. 2701 Douglas Ave., Des Moines, 255-1111.
Runners-up: Val Lanes, Air Lanes

Best Miniature Golf
West Grand Golf

Three-peat! West Grand Golf stands its ground as reigning champion of the “Best Miniature Golf” category for the third year in a row. Is it the course’s white water mountain streams that inspire such devotion? Or its thundering waterfalls? Or its professionally designed putting greens? We’d say all of the above, plus its family-friendly prices. Children 10 and over play for $6 and children 9 and under play for $5. 6450 Raccoon River Dr., West Des Moines, 258-7076.
Runners-up: North Forty Miniature Golf, Sleepy Hollow Sports Park

Best Indoor Sporting Event
Iowa Stars

Last year, the Iowa Stars were Des Moines’ newest sports team on the scene, yet they put their competition on ice by claiming the top spot. This year, the Stars skated past the competition to once again be crowned champions of Des Moines’ best indoor sporting event. We know our favorite part of attending a Stars game: the chance to win free French fries.
Runners-up: Des Moines Buccaneers, Drake Basketball

Best Running Event
Dam to Dam

Legend has it, the first Dam to Dam run in the late ’70s started from the then-newly created Saylorville Dam to the Center Street Dam in Des Moines. Although the race no longer ends on the Center Street Dam, the idea of a race between dams prevails. This 20K run is half cornfields and half urban streets, and is truly an Iowa classic.
Runners Up: Living History Farms Race, Des Moines Marathon

Best Place for a Run
Gray’s Lake Park

This Best Of category was once again a far and away victory for Gray’s Lake. Although Gray’s Lake has been a city park since 1970, it hasn’t always been in the majestic shape it’s in now. In the 1980s and 90s the area was a no-go area for most residents, except the many shantytown dwellers. In 1998, the trail around Gray’s Lake was started with a donation of $1.5 million from David and Elizabeth Kruidenier, and since then the park has experienced a renaissance. Today, it’s easily the most peaceful and scenic spot in the metro. Fleur Drive and George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines.
Runners Up: Clive Greenbelt Trail, Waterworks Park

Best Yoga Instructor
Liz Taylor at Liz Taylor
Yoga Studio

This is a Best Of three-peat for Taylor’s West side Yoga studio, which opened its doors in 2003. Taylor is a nationally certified Yoga instructor with a motivational touch. One student writes on Taylor’s Web site, “Liz does an excellent job combining the physical benefits of yoga with the internal benefits.” If more us take it up, peace in the metro won’t be far behind. 11049 Aurora Ave., Urbandale, 971-9642.
Runners Up: Brette Scott at Yoga on 5th, Maggie Rooney

Best Place to Play Golf (Public)
Waveland Golf Course

Des Moines might be famous for many things, but many people would probably be surprised to know we boast the oldest municipal golf course west of the Mississippi River. That’s right, Waveland has been challenging Iowa golf enthusiasts for more than a century. It retains its top place in the hearts of area golfers. 4908 University Ave., Des Moines, 271-8725.
Runners-up: Willow Creek Gold Course, Legacy Golf Club

Best Place to Play Golf (Private)
Wakonda Club

The Wakonda golf course opened in 1922. In addition to having an 18-hole, par 72 course, the club also has tennis and swimming facilities. It’s splendid, we can’t wait to join. 3915 Fleur Dr., Des Moines, 285-4962.
Runners-up: Des Moines Golf and Country Club, Glen Oaks Country Club

Best Place to Work Out

The Y isn’t just for cheap housing. It’s various facilities around the metro offer families and individuals great ways to stay in shape, while feeling a part of a community. The Y seems to have a lock on the hearts and bodies of Central Iowans, but Aspen Athletic Clubs climbed over Prairie Life into second place. Next year could be a show down, better get in shape. Multiple locations.
Runners-up: Aspen Athletic Clubs, Prairie Life Health & Fitness

Best Local Coach
Tom Davis

Tom Davis is the Iowa basketball coach with the most wins on record. He was named Drake University’s 23rd head coach in 2003, and since then has been successful in improving what was once known as the state’s weakest program. The Bulldogs have owned their Iowa rivals this season, beating Northern Iowa 67-59 Feb. 7, Iowa State 80-78 Dec. 3 and Iowa at home 75-59 Dec. 16. Drake also snatched a 74-61 home win against Northern Iowa Jan. 27. Keep up the good work, coach Davis.
Runners-up: Donny Quixote, Dan McCarney

Best Local Athlete
J. J. Bailey

J.J. Bailey, a Cedar Rapids native, is one of the few local athletes with their own homepage. But this cyclist and triathlete deserves his own spot in Cyberspace. Bailey competes in IronMan and fitness competitions around the country, and always does Iowa proud.
Runners-up: Jordan Bernstein, Shawn Johnson

Best Outdoor Sporting Event
Iowa Cubs

Who doesn’t like grabbing a seat at Principal Park on a warm afternoon and pounding back a few cold ones while watching the Cubs duke it out. They finished second in the PCL American North Division last year, and we’re hoping for one better in ’07. Go Cubs. One Line Drive, Des Moines, 243-6111.
Runners-up: Drake Relays, Dam to Dam

Best Bike Trail
Great Western

The Great Western Trails stretches 17 miles from suburban Des Moines into some picturesque rural landscape. The trail is a great place to spot wildlife, if you’re not barreling down one of the rolling hills at 20 mph. The trail runs from southwest Des Moines through rural Polk County and ends up in Martensdale, in Warren County.
Runners-up: Saylorville Lake, Raccoon River Valley

Best Local Sports Team
Iowa Cubs

Each year, almost a half million people come to watch the Chicago Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate try to capture the Pacific Coast League title. Having a home like Principal Park doesn’t hurt when it comes to winning Iowans over. Although the Bucks and the Stars have grit and heart, deep down, Iowans just want to sit in the sun and drink beer. One Line Drive, Des Moines, 243-6111.
Runners-up: Des Moines Buccaneers, Iowa Stars

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