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Best of

the Twin Cities

Just four months from now, 50,000 strangers will descend on the Twin Cities to engage in one of the greatest civic spectacles on earth: the Republican National Convention.

We've all seen political conventions on TV: the straw hats and little flags, the raucous speechifying, the electrifying votes on the party platform, and the triumphant, orgiastic finale—the selection of a candidate whose nomination was decided months in advance.

But even Republicans can't convene 24/7. When they've caucused themselves raw, they're going to want to let off some steam and explore the best the Twin Cities has to offer. They'll want to know where to find our best new restaurant, the best martini, best music store, best view, best pizza, and best strip club (it's the Seville, 15 Glenwood Ave., Minneapolis).

It's up to all of us to show our guests some Midwestern hospitality. Thousands of local citizens have already applied for permits to greet the Republicans outside Xcel Center, but we can do more. That's why City Pages has compiled 300 or so of the best things about the Twin Cities in one handy book. Call it "unconventional" wisdom—the kind of advice you can only get from your dirtbag friend who gets too drunk and crashes on your couch but always knows where to find a good time.

As we've seen so well in the Middle East, democracy is infectious, so City Pages also asked ordinary citizens to vote in our Readers' Poll. It turns out we disagreed on many of the issues, but rather than launch attack ads, we bowed to the will of the people and published their opinions on page 155, because we believe the American electorate is tired of divisiveness. Sadly, though, it is not tired of nominating the Mall of America for Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests.

In the spirit of nonpartisan cooperation, then, we offer the Best of the Twin Cities 2008, in the hope that our Republican guests will enjoy their stay and take away something from their visit. Something besides heartburn from eating our Best Drunk Food.

BEST ACTOR James Craven

BEST ACTRESS Sarah Agnew

BEST ALBUM OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS Atmosphere, Strictly Leakage

BEST ALL-AGES VENUE The Garage

BEST AM RADIO PERSONALITY Dan Cole

BEST ART CRITIC Patricia Briggs

BEST ART GALLERY First Amendment Gallery

BEST BAND NAME Emerson, Lake and Lyndale

BEST BAND TO BREAK UP IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS The Hockey Night

BEST BLUES BAND The Butanes

BEST ASIAN GROCERY Dragon Star

BEST BAKERY A Baker's Wife

BEST BARBECUE Lee's and Dee's Barbeque Express

BEST BARISTA Andrew Kopplin, Kopplin's Coffee

BEST BARTENDER Nick Kosevich, Town Talk Diner

BEST BREAD Saint Agnes Baking Co.

BEST BREAKFAST Lucia's to Go

BEST BUBBLE TEA The Tea Garden

BEST BURGER Casper & Runyon's Nook

BEST BURRITO Taqueria Los Ocampo

BEST (NON-TV) WEATHERPERSON Jimmy "Dutch" Gaines

BEST AMUSEMENT PARK Valleyfair

BEST BEACH Hidden Beach at Cedar Lake

BEST BIKE TRAIL Cannon Valley Trail

BEST BOCCE COURTS Nomad World Pub

BEST BOWLING ALLEY Ran-Ham Bowling Center

BEST BOXER Jason Litzau

BEST COACH Tubby Smith

BEST COLUMNIST Nick Coleman

BEST COMIC BOOK SHOP Big Brain Comics

BEST ADULT VIDEO STORE Sex World

BEST ART SUPPLIES Wet Paint Artists' Materials & Framing

BEST BABY GOODS STORE Peapods

BEST BIKE SHOP Freewheel Bike

BEST BOOKSTORE (NEW) Common Good Books

BEST BOOKSTORE (USED) Magers and Quinn

BEST BOUTIQUE Cliché

BEST CAR WASH T & Y Service Co.

BEST CD STORE (NEW) The Electric Fetus

BEST CD STORE (USED) Cheapo Discs