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People & Places

  • BEST BLUES BAR

    Famous Dave's BBQ and Blues

    Okay, it might be in a mall, and Uptown may not be Frogtown, that far more bluesworthy locale of the late, great Blues Saloon. But the smell of barbecue sauce wafts out of the Famous Dave's vents like a Kansas City breeze, the drinks flow like an outdoor street party in New Orleans, and if you imbibe enough, the mix… More >>
  • BEST HAPPY HOUR

    Rossi's Blue Star Room - CLOSED

    Good happy hours sprang up all over town this year, with impressive relative newcomers--Chino Latino, Imperial Room--coexisting peacefully next to some of the old standbys--Liquor Lyle's, Green Mill. In addition to some very cheap drink deals (well drinks for $1.50? What year is it, 1988?), some rather fine cuisine was added to the bill in a number of joints. The… More >>
  • BEST ACOUSTIC PEFORMER

    Dan Israel

    After six albums and years of live performing, Dan Israel still hasn't quit his day job at the Minnesota State Capitol. Well, day jobs tend to pay better than night gigs, and Israel's regular-guy quality is part of his appeal. He's the next-door neighbor who gets home from work, takes out the garbage, pays the insurance bill, and then sits… More >>
  • BEST ADULT VIDEO STORE

    The Smitten Kitten

    Seattle and New York have Toys in Babeland. San Francisco has Good Vibrations. For years it seemed as if every other city was comfortably enjoying its sex shopping but us. Finally, Minneapolis is fortunate enough to have its own discreet, women-owned adult store. The most obvious advantages over the usual porno retail warehouses are good lighting and a lack of… More >>
  • BEST ALBUM OF THE LAST 12 MONTHS

    The Gleam

    When you hear it, you know it: the same undeniable spirit that was in the air the first time we heard Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, or Kat Bjelland exorcising herself into a mic, or Mason Jennings budding in his living-room practice space, or the Rhymesayers blooming in the Entry, or Melodious Owl lifting the Turf… More >>
  • BEST ALL-AGES VENUE

    The Garage

    There are clubs with all-ages nights, and teen centers with age restrictions (for a full list of both, visit complicatedfun.com/allages). But the Garage is all-ages, all the time. Opened in 1999 by Eric Billiet, with help from the city of Burnsville, the suburban rock and hip-hop mecca has created a scene all its own in Alexander O'Neal's longtime backyard, with… More >>
  • BEST ARCHITECTURAL RENOVATION OF AN OLD BUILDING

    The Varsity Theater

    Those who hadn't set foot in the Varsity since it was closed to the public in 1991 were surprised to find the art deco landmark lovingly preserved when it reopened in January. Remodeled and refurbished by Loring Pasta Bar owner Jason McLean to be a multipurpose performance, film, and art space, the current theater stands as a culmination of many… More >>
  • BEST BAND NAME

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  • BEST BAND NAME (SECOND PLACE)

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  • BEST BAND NAME (THIRD PLACE)

    Styrofoam Duck

    What came first, the band or the Styrofoam Duck? While that question may never be answered, another one can: Yes, there really is a Styrofoam duck in the band. Six feet tall, this duck plays the keyboard and sings, while a giant lightbulb flashes in the center of his head. In addition, the drummer has been known to wear a… More >>
  • BEST BAND TO BREAK UP IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS

    Hank & Ruth

    Low's latest, The Great Destroyer, contains a terrific tune called "Death of a Salesman," in which a Willie Loman figure takes up songwriting, but his friends insist "music's for fools," so he gives it up and burns his guitar to feed his family. The song could have been written by any number of ex-rockers who've cashed in their dreams and… More >>
  • BEST BARTENDER

    Danny McDevitt

    Used to be that a good man was hard to find, and this year we were chagrined to see that old axiom spill into the bartending profession. Our exhaustive--and we mean exhaustive--survey of bars around the metro rarely turned up a drink slinger who even pretended to be cheered by our presence, let alone one who took a drink order… More >>
  • BEST BEACH

    Square Lake

    New rule: A beach is only as good as the water is clear. If we can't see our perfectly manicured toes when standing tit deep, we want nothing to do with it. Okay, so Square Lake is not technically in the Twin Cities, and you're going to have to pay one of those fees we're always griping about to get… More >>
  • BEST BEER SELECTION IN A BAR

    Town Hall Brewery

    In recent years this category has been dominated, not surprisingly, by bars featuring massive selections of beer: the Muddy Pig, William's Uptown Pub and Peanut Bar, Old Chicago. Town Hall Brewery, the eight-year-old brewpub in Minneapolis's Seven Corners area, certainly can't compete with those venerable establishments in quantitative terms. Town Hall generally offers up fewer than a dozen taps (and… More >>
  • BEST BIKE TRAIL

    Limestone Trail

    You end up at the bottom of a steeply raked field filled with blackbirds and horses. There's a river valley spread out far below you in the distance, an old church steeple climbing up from the greenery. It's a certain kind of sturdy American beauty you see here, the kind of image you might find in the photo calendar of… More >>
  • BEST BLOODY MARY

    Ike's Food & Cocktails

    Question: Can one drink be everything to everyone all of the time? Answer: Yes, if the drink in question is the estimable Bloody Mary at Ike's. For those purists who prefer that their cocktail act like a cocktail and not a meal, this Bloody is first and foremost a cocktail, though it is rather heavily garnished with celery, pepperoncini, pickled… More >>
  • BEST BLUES BAND

    The Butanes

    There's no shortage of bar bands out there sleepwalking through blues changes and soul covers, but a tight band of true believers is increasingly a rarity. The long-lived Butanes play blues and Southern soul for hardcore fans, and tend to convert some dabblers in the process. Leader Curtis Obeda's leads recall Albert King or Otis Rush in terms of improvisation… More >>
  • BEST BOONDOGGLE

    In its official platform for 2004--Section 1, Article K, to be precise--the Republican Party of Minnesota resolutely declared that it supports "a fair and honest competitive business environment and therefore oppose(s) corporate welfare." Ah, good old-fashioned GOP principles. Fair and honest. Don't you miss them? You certainly would if you happened to own a business that competes with any company… More >>
  • BEST BOWLING ALLEY

    Airport Bowl - CLOSED

    There are 30-odd bowling alleys in the Twin Cities metro area, and the most astonishing thing about most of them is how overwhelming they are from a sensory perspective. This is especially true of the big places. You know, the ones with 32 lanes, full-service bars, dozens of TVs, and overloud music. The sort of place that gives your epileptic… More >>
  • BEST BOXER

    Jason Litzau

    In recent years, Minnesota fight fans have had to swallow more than their share of disappointment. It's a familiar story: A local prospect builds a shiny record by pummeling underpaid tomato cans trucked in from Milwaukee and Indianapolis. The fans get whipped up in a lather. They start talking about how their guy is a "contender." Eventually, the day comes… More >>
  • BEST BROKEN PROMISE

    Tim Pawlenty

    Pawlenty campaigned for governor as an opponent of expanding gambling in Minnesota. (He also opposed public subsidies for stadiums, but we're limited to one broken promise at a time.) Two years ago, he was one of the many hand-wringers who took a pious stance against the rise of casinos being used to create state revenue, saying it was "not a… More >>
  • BEST CAREER MOVE

    We were not looking forward to the gruesome spectacle: 18 months of Republicans giddily attacking Minnesota's lucidity-challenged, terrorist-fearing senior senator. Seldom, if ever, in our memory has an incumbent politician (with no recent history of pedophilia or crack usage) looked so vulnerable. Pitiful might be a more appropriate word. The candidate's prospects seemed so grim that we were briefly excited… More >>
  • BEST CHARITY

    Bolder Options

    Finally, an org that literally pounds the pavement. Many youth-mentoring programs aspire to steer kids toward future achievements, fostering dreams that may or may not come to pass. Bolder Options improves on that model by setting substantial and attainable goals from day one. Founded in 1991, Bolder Options combines traditional youth mentoring with sports training. It's like P.E. class meets… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP THRILL

    Kickball

    While elementary school gym class conjures plenty of horrifying and humiliating memories, some of its traditions hold up surprisingly well. For just a couple of bucks you can buy your very own red rubber ball and airbrush the shame out of that childhood nostalgia. For example, dodge ball is much more fun without those sadistic little bastards around. Play four… More >>
  • BEST CLUB DJ

    DJ Panic

    A pale woman in a black bob wig is facing the wall, gripping a bar suspended from the ceiling. A second woman, this one with red sparkle pasties covering her nipples, is facing her with a paddle in hand. It's another typical Saturday night at Ground Zero in Minneapolis, and the club's bondage showcase on the mezzanine has drawn another… More >>
  • BEST COACH

    Mike Hebert

    Ron Gardenhire and the Twins are not the only overachieving underdogs around here. Up on the frozen tundra at the University of Minnesota, Mike Hebert has created a women's volleyball program capable of competing for national championships against the traditional copper-toned powerhouses from Hawaii and southern California. In 2004, Hebert led the Lady Gophers to their second straight Final Four… More >>
  • BEST COCKTAILS

    Cafe and Bar Lurcat

    Contrary to some bartender's mixing skills, a cocktail shouldn't be a drink that makes you gag when sipped from the top before stirring, or one that simply masks the alcohol content well, or one that's mostly ice and served up with a coffee stirrer. A good cocktail should be a complex sipping experience. It should have a consistent and pleasant… More >>
  • BEST COLLEGE ATHLETE

    Vincent Grier

    A year ago, the Gopher men's basketball team had hit rock bottom in the basketball food chain. The Timberwolves were driving toward a possible NBA championship, the Gopher women were on their way to the Final Four. Even the addled Lynx, long mired in mediocrity and plagued by personnel changes, were more familiar to local hoops fans. By the middle… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT OF THE LAST 12 MONTHS (TOURING ACT)

    Brian Wilson

    When Brian Wilson announced he would finally release SMiLE, the delayed-for-37-years follow-up to Pet Sounds, the talk surrounding the resulting tour was both enthusiastic and doubtful. While fans had fawned over bootleg studio tracks for decades, most could admit the sad truth: The guy just doesn't sing that well anymore. Fast-forward to the tour's huge U.S. debut at the Orpheum… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS (LOCAL ACT)

    Mark Mallman

    Saturday, September 4, through Monday, September 6, 2004 at the Turf Club If a man performs one song for three days straight and the national media don't come, did it happen? Last year, Mark Mallman's round-the-clock labor of Labor Day Weekend love felt like an exploration of the meaning of significance. It was, first of all, a jolt of excitement for… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT VENUE

    Hexagon Bar

    Long a hidden clubhouse for down-and-out boozehounds, Thin Lizzy cover bands, and country-western hobbyists, this little saloon ain't just for trucks anymore. We've got Chris Dorn, frontman for sporadically active popsters the Beatifics, to thank for the transmutation. Last September, Dorn took over booking duties for the Hex's modest stage, and he immediately opened the bar's rusty doors to the… More >>
  • BEST DANCE CLUB

    First Avenue

    Give First Avenue credit for balls: Their dance nights have been pared down, with the V.I.P. room temporarily closed, and regular Mainroom dance hours reduced to Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (with a 21+ age restriction all three nights). But instead of establishing a surefire cheesy dance format (more '80s hits, anyone?), the big black bus station has let passionate DJs… More >>
  • BEST DAY TRIP

    St. Croix Falls

    For Minnesotans, there is one truth so painful to admit that, in the interest of collective sanity, few natives ever acknowledge it publicly. The unspoken truth is this: Wisconsin is a better-looking state than Minnesota. Yes, it is home to the hated Packers, to Dahmer, to Ed Gein, to Tommy Thompson, to welfare reform, to hunting "accidents," to countless alcoholic… More >>
  • BEST EX-VIKING

    Randy Moss

    When owner Red McCombs traded the most electrifying player in Viking history to the Oakland Raiders for a bag of peanuts, fans had to wonder: What the hell was he thinking? Was this just another case of McCombs playing budget ball? Or was Red, bitter about the stadium stalemate, flipping the bird at Minnesota? No doubt, the answer lies in… More >>
  • BEST FARMERS' MARKET

    St. Paul Farmers' Market

    Offices seem to close at 3:00 p.m. on Friday afternoons in the summer. Worker bees flee their desks and their employment responsibilities to revel in the sun. Summit Avenue crawls with walkers and their strollers, joggers and their dogs, and runners and their headphones, but the quintessential summer-in-St. Paul Friday afternoon necessitates a stop at the farmers' market at St.… More >>
  • BEST FESTIVAL

    On July 20, 1934, Minneapolis cops opened fire on striking truck drivers, killing two and wounding 67 others. This bloody day was significant not only because of the tragic deaths; it also marked the end of the "open shop" era in Minneapolis. After decades of vigilant, violent antiunionism, horror over the bloodshed finally forced the city's corporate titans to allow… More >>
  • BEST FISHING HOLE

    Minnesota river

    Yes, the Minnesota River is a sick river. Fouled by agriculture (it has the misfortune to run through the farm belt), the Minnesota is the most polluted waterway in the state. Despite some recent improvements, it still makes the lists of the country's most endangered waterways. This is a real shame. Stretches of the Minnesota--mainly, those west of Shakopee--are among… More >>
  • BEST GADFLY

    Al Flowers

    In early March, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and MPD Chief Bill McManus held what became a memorable press conference at City Hall. Amid the rote, serve-and-volley procedural established by local politicos and the sound-byte-driven news media, one booming voice suddenly stood out. Before Al Flowers could finish his question to the chief, the mayor nervously cut him off by saying,… More >>
  • BEST GAY BAR

    19 Bar

    In the Queer Eye era--one of exfoliation, aromatherapy, seaweed wraps, etc.--some on the outside might forget that not every gay man in America wants his bikini line waxed. In fact, every queer guy could use a little straight eye once in a while, and that's where the 19 Bar comes in. Established in 1952, this little watering hole a couple… More >>
  • BEST GOLF COURSE

    Willinger's Golf Club

    Twin Cities golfers are a star-crossed breed, blessed by so many courses and so little time. Never mind the private courses you'll never get to play. We'll confess to driving slowly, in the fallow month of February, past Interlachen and Spring Hill, thinking, "Just once...." If this lust for opulent golf strikes a chord, you owe it to yourself to… More >>
  • BEST HELLRAISER OR ACTIVIST GROUP

    YWCA

    Here's some little-known history about an institution you may think of only in terms of swimming pools and T-ball: The YWCA of Minneapolis was founded in 1891 by the envelope-pushers of the day, women working outside the home. Since then, it's been at the forefront of numerous movements for social change, including the struggle for racial integration of the 1940s… More >>
  • BEST HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETE

    Tayler Hill

    To the true sports fan, there is nothing quite so enticing as a sentence that begins, "Have you heard about this kid...?" It is what gave legs to Darcy Frey's The Last Shot, which chronicled four prep stars (including future NBA all-star Stephon Marbury), and what led one local daily newspaper to label then-high school puckster (turned U of M… More >>
  • BEST HIGHWAY

    Highway 1

    If you polled a few hundred well-traveled Minnesota motorists and asked them to identify the most beautiful drive in the state, chances are a plurality would cite the stretch of Highway 61 that runs from Duluth to Grand Marais. It is a natural pick. With its panoramic views of Lake Superior, dramatic rock outcroppings, and pleasing mix of evergreen, birch,… More >>
  • BEST HIP-HOP ARTIST

    Kill the Vultures

    Minnesota vocalists ranging from Bob Dylan to Craig Finn have moved to New York City to freshen the imagination, get noticed, and come out writing better than ever--about Minnesota. But Kill the Vultures are probably the first transplants to improve their creative fortunes by moving back: The former Oddjobs (without DJ-producer Deetalx, but with DJ-producer Anatomy still in tow) recently… More >>
  • BEST HIP-HOP DJ

    Abilities

    The best-named DJ in town proved on last year's E&A (with perennial cohort MC Eyedea) that the national attention that comes with national distribution (via Epitaph Records) doesn't have to stunt your growth. Abilities and Eyedea both came into their collabo from successful runs on the battle circuit, only to strike that balance between idea and ability that labelmates Atmosphere… More >>
  • BEST IRISH PUB

    The Liffey

    Authenticity is everything with an Irish pub, so sorry, Minneapolis. Nobody does the Irish thing like St. Paul. The Liffey is located in the heart of the city's downtown, in a hotel, next to a sex shop and pizzeria, and, after a few Guinnesses, it can sometimes feel like a stop on some Bloomsday tour or another. Located in the… More >>
  • BEST JAZZ ARTIST

    Billy Peterson

    Like the Steele family, the Peterson clan contains so many notable musicians that individuals too often get subsumed in the surname gumbo. But Billy Peterson, who has recorded with everyone from Lee Konitz to Leo Kottke, frequently tours with Steve Miller, played on Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, and co-owns the Artists' Quarter in St. Paul, is by far the… More >>
  • BEST JAZZ CLUB

    Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant

    The Artists' Quarter is funkier, cheaper, and a better spot to hear up-and-comers, and there are certainly other small and mid-sized spots in town where one can hear great jazz, but the Dakota is this category's perennial winner for a reason. Hearing world-class live jazz in a small setting is one of life's great joys--especially when the acoustics are as… More >>
  • BEST JUKEBOX

    Psycho Suzi's Motor Lodge

    This category always comes down to the same handful of candidates. Grumpy's Bar continues to frustrate us by keeping the volume on its excellent jukebox turned way too low. The Turf Club's music machine spends too many hours out of circulation owing to the live-music offerings. And the C.C. Club? On closer inspection, it's simply nostalgia that keeps that place… More >>
  • BEST KARAOKE

    U Otter Stop Inn

    Ask anyone who's ever launched into "Purple Rain" on the encouragement of a roomful of strangers and a half-dozen cold ones: Karaoke is empowering. Like double vision in reverse, these often-hideous forays into barroom crooning blur the distinction between audience and performer, magically morphing glamorous superstars and fans into single sweaty entities. And nowhere is that comradeship more apparent than… More >>
  • BEST LESBIAN BAR

    Twilight

    This moveable queer dance night has perhaps best been described as a cornucopia of women: twentysomethings dressed to the nines and fortysomethings who have been dressed to the nines for years; college students, professional women, and auto mechanics. The music includes R&B, salsa, and Indian hip hop, all enhanced by light beer and apple martinis. A three-year-old women-only event, Twilight… More >>
  • BEST LIBRARY

    Wilson Library

    Okay, there is one problem with Wilson Library, which is that you can only check out material there if you attend or work for the University of Minnesota. But, hey, anyone can browse or read or study at the state's finest library, and they even have a nicely furnished reading corner (added a few years back) that's perfect for rainy… More >>
  • BEST LINGERIE

    Wild Rose Tanning and Lingerie

    Let's face it: Victoria's Secret is that's she's boring. If the purpose of lingerie is to make you feel sexier and more naked than when you're merely wearing nothing, why not slip into something truly bad? For 20 years, Wild Rose Tanning and Lingerie has made people feel comfortable doing just that. The cozy storefront offers a striking selection of… More >>
  • BEST LIVE ARTIST

    Brother and Sister

    The self-titled debut 10-inch by real-life siblings Brother and Sister takes yesterday's guitar rock redux out of the garage and bounces it right into the rumpus room, full as it is with wailing, wanky solos and bouncy drum beats. It's pretty fun stuff, but compared to the singular joy of seeing this blissed-out duo live, recorded BS is just that--recorded… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOY GONE BAD

    Pat Forciea

    In this land of 10,000 lakes, it seems like our big fish are really only suited for little ponds. But by almost any measure, Pat Forciea was a big fish. This was the DFL operative, after all, who was widely considered to be one of the masterminds behind the election of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, and who had close… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOY MADE GOOD

    Joe Margulies

    For years Minneapolis attorney Joe Margulies has been known to City Pages news sleuths as a man with a nose for legal injustices and a gift for explaining said indignities in quotes both simple and compelling. In short, he's a great source. But he's also humble, arguing his causes and then shunning any stray bits of associated limelight. Well, tough… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL GONE BAD

    Victoria Zell

    Generations from now, when wise men convene to lecture about the perils of the gambling-obsessed culture in the early 21st century, the saga of Victoria Zell--almost certain to be known as the Parable of the Powerball--will be central to the conversation. Late in 2001, Zell was sufficiently charming or serendipitous to have her husband pledge half of his $10.9 million… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL MADE GOOD

    Lindsay Whalen

    No contest, really. For the second year in a row, the Hutchinson Hurricane is our sweetheart expat in this category, because only Paul Bunyan rivals Whalen's Minnesota legend status at the moment. All she did was make like a basketball Joan of Arc in leading the Gophers to the NCAA championship game with a broken wrist, then all she did… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL MUSIC COMPILATION

    TCElectroPunk

    Lately, great various-artist packages devoted to specific music scenes in the Twin Cities tend to be tied to ephemeral events: Unless you were at the festivals that inspired last year's 3rd Annual Twin Cities Celebration of Hip-Hop and Minnesota Sur Seine CDs (both manufactured by Copycats Media), you probably didn't have a chance to pick them up. Last year's Twin… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL RECORD LABEL

    2024 Records

    In 2004, online distro outfits like iTunes and the new Napster redux finally started making good on an old promise: They proved that the masses, when their pocketbooks and sloth are catered to, will pay real cash for digital tunes, thus blowing the roof off this dance party we call the music industry and forcing a lot of folks to… More >>
  • BEST LOCALLY GENERATED BLOG

    Slanderous Minneapolis

    As any blogger will tell you--over and over--2004 was The Year of the Blog. They will tell you this because, above all else, bloggers love to talk about the power of their chosen medium. This is especially true of the political bloggers, whose antic ranting and raving has attracted the most notice from the despised MSM. (That's "mainstream media," you… More >>
  • BEST LOCALLY GENERATED WEBSITE

    How Was The Show?

    Tireless local-rock evangelist David de Young and his hardy band of contributors (most notably Cyn Collins and Karla Ludzack) have created a nearly comprehensive guide to local live rock. The sheer number of shows they witness and write about is flat-out remarkable. In February alone--a month in which even the most devoted music scenester is tempted to huddle on the… More >>
  • BEST LOFT OR CONDO PROJECT

    607 Washington

    If there's one hallmark of the downtown housing boom, it's that size matters. Or, at least, it's beginning to. After an initial wave of condos and lofts housed in charming four-story buildings, this year saw the return of high-rise living to Minneapolis. This was especially true downtown, with the opening of Grant Park condos, the groundbreaking for something called Skyscape,… More >>
  • BEST LYNX PLAYER

    Nicole Ohlde

    When Katie Smith went down with a knee injury in July, the prospects for the final third of the Lynx's season looked bleak. Up until that point, the veteran guard had pretty much been the team's sole consistent scoring threat, averaging 19 points a game. In fact, she was the Lynx's top scorer in 18 of their first 23 games.… More >>
  • BEST MARGARITA

    Boca Chica Restaurante

    Margarita purists are hard-pressed to find a more authentic margarita than la Señora at Boca Chica Restaurante ($6.75). Lime juice, tequila, and triple sec over ice in a salt-rimmed glass puts the Slurpee-sweet concoctions found at other restaurants to shame. The tequila selection is also fairly extensive. Sample a few, but remember the shortest way to drunkytown is a ride… More >>
  • BEST MARTINI

    Joe's Garage - CLOSED

    Step into any martini bar these days and you may find yourself faced with a dilemma--whether to order the straight-up James Bond-style martini, or the colorful, glamorous-mixed-drink-masquerading-as-a-martini martini. Thankfully, Joe's Garage manages to artfully dodge this conundrum by offering the best of both worlds. Whether casually sipping on the Fortified (Absolut Kurrant, port wine, and grenadine), the Framboistini (raspberry Stoli… More >>
  • BEST MAYOR

    Karen Anderson

    Anderson is a dying breed in today's snarling, sound-byting political culture--she is possessed of civility, foresight, and common sense. She got her start more than 20 years ago working for the League of Women Voters, and has retained that fervor for citizen participation and public service. She often allows people who aren't "on the agenda" to speak without time constraints… More >>
  • BEST MELTDOWN

    John Hinderaker

    Talk about losing your shit. This past December, Apple Valley attorney John Hinderaker was on top of the world--or rather on top of that itty-bitty part of the world known as the blogosphere. Hinderaker's glory arose because the group blog to which he is a prime contributor--Powerlineblog.com--was named Blog of the Year by Time magazine. This honor stemmed from Powerline's… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR--MINNEAPOLIS

    The Poodle

    In our judgment, the best neighborhood bar can't be trendy. It can't even be new. It has to be the kind of place you can count on to be there, decade in and decade out, with longstanding regulars but room for newbies. At the Poodle, they're not about to change the formula that's been working wonderfully since 1975 (longer than… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR-ST. PAUL

    The Groveland Tap

    The Groveland Tap, though small and often cramped on the weekends, offers the best of many types of bars. Up front is the classic pub section where you can sit in a roomy cherry-stained wooden booth and read a book with a burger and a pint, or have a quiet chat with an old friend while splitting a pitcher. In… More >>
  • BEST NEW BAND

    Belles of Skin City

    A quick internet search told you nothing and everything about this bearded bunch of Southern-fried rockers: no press, no biography, just page after page of concert dates and "best-of" lists. There's some pretty uncomplicated math behind that gigs-to-adoring-fans ratio, and it defines the kind of people who count themselves among the Belles' admirers; namely, everyone who's seen them. While it's… More >>
  • BEST OPEN-MIC NIGHT

    Southern Theater

    The Saturday night after the presidential election, we were in need of a soul-balm. We needed to be with people. Not even people we knew or people just like us, just people. So we had a cookie and a cup of coffee and went to the Southern at midnight and saw a couple of guys do a scary-spare version of… More >>
  • BEST PICNIC SPOT

    Minnehaha Park

    Minneapolis celebrates its lakes (the motto is "City of Lakes," after all), but the truth is those modest little puddles in ritzy southwest don't offer half the pleasures of the dirty old Mississippi River. In terms of fishing, boating, and the prospect of escape, the Miss has the lakes beat. And it also has better picnic grounds. Sure, you can… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE

    Mississippi River

    First things first: Do not, under any circumstances, call this a date. This is the age of friends with benefits, and you need to decide if this new "friend" is a friend indeed. So save yourself some money and be as far away from beer goggles as possible. Go for a Sunday afternoon walk down by the Mississippi River. You… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BIRD-WATCH

    Lake Harriet

    The peace garden at Lake Harriet is just that: a trickle of waterfall and stones etched with one-word philosophies that offer solace and refuge. The rose garden is just that: a cornucopia of quiet, explosive beauty. And the 13-acre bird sanctuary that sits tucked behind the two is just that: a haven where we go to see warblers, vireos, woodpeckers,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CANOE

    St. Louis River

    It is a given that the best canoeing in Minnesota, and some of the best canoeing in North America, lies in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. If you are serious about canoeing, you already know this. There is little point in singing the praises of the place to you because you've already scheduled your annual trip. But if you are… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DUMP SOMEONE

    Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport

    As Shakespeare said in Romeo and Juliet, parting is such sweet sorrow. Well, a drive-to and dump at the airport simply removes the sweetness and prevents a messy mutual suicide pact down the road. If he takes it hard and breaks down a bit, he's surrounded by strangers, so there's no embarrassment; let them make up their own tragi-romantic scenarios… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET DUMPED

    Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC)

    This is a tricky one, so let's commence by ruling out a few more obvious options. Some may think it's best to be dumped in the comfort of your own home. You can slam shut the door, bury your face in the pillow, and sob away. But getting dumped sucks. Why associate such trauma with home? It might permanently stain… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HIKE

    Frontenac State Park

    See the parade of SUVS on a Saturday morning, pulling boats with 800-horsepower engines, clogging the interstates on a lemming-like journey northward? This should be your cue to follow the compass in the opposite direction. Ninety-odd minutes southeast of the cities lies the less trafficked Frontenac State Park--a bluff site on Lake Pepin that is ridiculously rich in regional history… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO ICE SKATE

    Centennial Lakes Park

    In case you haven't noticed, this is a state with a frigid climate and more than 12,000 lakes. Add in the various hockey arenas and hose-watered park rinks and it's obvious that places to skate are as plentiful, idiosyncratic, and (in many cases) as convenient as your neighborhood laundromat or hardware store. So we'll pitch this pick to the uninitiated… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO JOG

    Lake Harriet Park

    We are the luckiest landlocked runners in the world, especially this time of year. But runners, joggers, and walkers have a four-season love affair with Harriet. For as you get in your miles, you can take your mind off your sore Achilles by ogling the bods on main beach in the summer. In the autumn, you may find yourself eavesdropping… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (GAY)

    Vera's Cafe - CLOSED

    To classify Vera's Cafe as a gay establishment would be somewhat misleading. All kinds of folks--from multi-pierced teens to stoop-shouldered retirees--gather at this charming Uptown coffee shop. They come for the caffeine and the cuisine--scrambled eggs, huge fresh salads, soups and sandwiches--but also for the camaraderie. It's one of the friendliest joints in town no matter what your age or… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (STRAIGHT)

    Drink - CLOSED

    Ladies, do you like your guys well-dressed, well-lubricated, and well, doggedly seeking to score? Your hetero hookup begins under the blue neon lights of Drink, located in the thumping heart of the Warehouse District. Here you'll find enough eager suitors to whet any appetite (and enough Bebe-clad dames to hone your competitive spirit). Besides, any barfly worth her rock salt… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (LESBIAN)

    Lynx games

    Jimmy Jam, Jessie Ventura, Prince: You straight men can keep your ringside T-Wolves seats, because we love the low-key lezzie-watching at Lynx games. Bargain ticket prices ($10 to $100 for a single game, plus great packages) ensure that the Target Center's packed with a mix of, um, folk: rainbow families, straight dads with their daughters, businesspeople with clients and season… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (STRAIGHT)

    Downtown Minneapolis

    This stretch of downtown Minneapolis is overflowing with a unique mix of singles, thanks to the number of bars and destination spots that dot this veritable party street. There's the upscale posh club Infinity Room, located in Le Meridien Hotel, with its $14 drinks and über-chic clientele. There's First Avenue, with its stiffer drinks (alcohol-wise) and shows that cost as… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PEOPLE-WATCH

    State Fairgrounds

    All of Minnesota gets funneled through this section of Dan Patch Avenue during the Great Minnesota Get-Together. The teenage lovebirds-for-a-day head to the Midway with a corndog in one hand and the fingertips of their Magnum P.I.-ride partner in the other. A stream of sweaty concertgoers leaves the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert (this year it's Mötley Crüe) determined to make their… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PLAY POOL

    Jimmy's Pro Billiards

    If your idea of a night of stick is to order up a couple of pitchers and stack quarters in the slots to free up the balls, by all means, don't go to Jimmy's. Owned and operated by former World Champion Jimmy "The Kid" Wetch, Jimmy's treats the game--and those who play it--with the utmost respect. The house cues are… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

    Midway Stadium

    For out-of-towners intrigued by Minnesota's most famous attractions, there's always the Mall of America with its Ferris wheel and log flume in the middle of three floors of stores. For those less interested in a behemoth trophy dedicated to consumerism, there's Minnehaha Falls and the Sculpture Garden, both of which are must-do afternoon trips for almost every out-of-town guest. But… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO WATCH A MOVIE OUTDOORS

    Loring Park

    How fitting that our favorite movies-in-the-park series would devote its latest season to the films of Hollywood's consummate outsider. Nicholas Ray remains best known for his mid-'50s teen angst epic Rebel Without a Cause (screening August 1). But the director's whole jittery oeuvre is about put-upon rebels--strung-out patriarchs, misanthropic screenwriters, bull-dyke cowgirls, Jesse James, Jesus Christ--who struggle to express themselves… More >>
  • BEST POLITICIAN

    Linda Berglin

    Knowledge, compassion, and effectiveness are the criteria we look for in a politician, which is why Berglin is such an easy choice. After 33 years as a state legislator (the first eight in the Minnesota House, and the last quarter-century in the Senate) she is perhaps best known for co-founding MinnesotaCare in 1992 and staunchly defending it ever since. A… More >>
  • BEST POLKA BAND

    Lady Hard-On

    For whatever reason, Lady Hard-on open every show they play, which means in the past year they've left hordes of otherwise well-prepared performers with the impossible task of following the best Siamese-sister polka act we've ever seen. (Okay, we hadn't previously seen conjoined siblings do the oompah before, and these sisters are only playacting their sideshow spectacle, but, like, exactly).… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC PARK

    Lyndale Park Gardens

    In the power struggles of Minneapolis city politics, none are as contentious as those surrounding the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The City Council is constantly looking askance at the board, which is always rife with infighting and controversial decisions. But one fact remains: The city's park system is among the best in the country, and it seems, for the… More >>
  • BEST PUNK BAND

    Chariots

    Who knows what lead screamer Travis Bos is carrying on about, and who cares? His larynx-destroying ululations are just one hyperanimated component of this essentially instrumental band. Arty but not phony, danceable but not trendy, mindful of history but not retro (check how Bos's '60s garage organs never seem to be wearing tapered slacks or Beatle boots), Chariots play loud… More >>
  • BEST R&B ARTIST

    Mint Condition

    Despite their hit singles and high-profile admirers, Mint Condition have never quite gotten the respect they deserve, so it's nice that they're giving us another chance to show the love. After a six-year break, the group has a new album, Livin' the Luxury Brown, and a new label, their own Cagedbird Records. Keyboardist Keri Lewis has moved on, but the… More >>
  • BEST ROCK BAND

    Midnight Evils

    Rock 'n' roll will never die, which may explain why so many of its elder practitioners look like they're molded from reanimated flesh (have you seen a Velvet Revolver video?). In spite of rock's Lazarus-like will to live, 2004 was the year of anti-rockism, the fiery debate fueled by the modest suggestion that a Britney Spears single might warrant the… More >>
  • BEST ROCK CLUB

    First Avenue

    There are some who will say that deeming First Avenue "Best Rock Club" is like giving Grammys to the dead guy. It is a little too easy, but this is no sympathy vote. Like a near-death experience, the brief demise of the Twin Cities' most famous nightclub taught us not to take things for granted. For two and a half… More >>
  • BEST SCANDAL

    Randy Moss

    Seldom has so much bloviating been done on a more absurd topic than Randy Moss's fake-moon salute to the Green Bay Packer fans during last season's playoffs. The wide receiver's, um, cheeky stunt was certainly less offensive than any five-minute segment of what passes these days for local television news. (Or Red McCombs's toupee, for that matter.) But the moralistic… More >>
  • BEST SIGN OF SPRING

    As the snow banks recede and the T-shirts and shorts start to come out, most Minnesotans begin the yearly trek to the nursery to get their recently thawed hands on a vanful of colorful annuals. But it's often too early to plant those little suckers, since even the hardiest of plants will shrivel up at the first sign of frost.… More >>
  • BEST SLEDDING

    Suicide Hill

    What distinguishes a truly memorable sledding experience from just another excuse to get tired and cold is a bit of danger. Nothing, except maybe television, unites families, friends, and lovebirds quite like the possibility of severe bodily damage. At Kenwood Park's "Suicide Hill," sledders must navigate several rather imposing old trees, the fence of the park's tennis courts, and the… More >>
  • BEST SONGWRITER

    John Hermanson

    John Hermanson was on the cover of this rag a few months ago. In a dress. He can often be seen singing and playing guitar on local stages. In a tracksuit. That he is costumed and mostly out of the spotlight for his duties as the least flashy member of Olympic Hopefuls is perfectly poignant, for it must be said… More >>
  • BEST STATE FAIR FOOD

    deep-fried Twinkie

    You may be questioning this winner already. It's probably not the State Fair food that comes to mind as your favorite. But when we think about what eating at the fair really means, we think: unchecked, joyous gluttony--the freedom, no, make that duty, to eat more in a single day than Mischa Barton does in a month. And the food… More >>
  • BEST STATE FAIR RIDE

    Crazy Mouse

    If you're going to ride just one ride at the State Fair, make it the Crazy Mouse. It's got all the twists, turns, ups, and downs you'll ever want to see--going by in a blur, of course--after washing down a pork chop, pronto pup, fried pickles, mini doughnuts, and French fries with a chocolate malt. The four-person cab means you… More >>
  • BEST STRIP CLUB

    The Seville Club

    We're as into strip clubs as the next guy--unless the next guy happens to be, say, Kid Rock--but frankly, we find most of them around here to be problematic. They tend to range from high-end crass to outright scummy. And the main problem with all of them is that they simply cost too much money. On the cheap, we tend… More >>
  • BEST TENNIS COURTS

    Nicollet Tennis Center

    Unlike such popular pursuits as nose picking and lovemaking, tennis is best done outdoors. But in Minnesota, as you've undoubtedly noticed, tennis under God's big top is only practicable for about five months out of the year. But you needn't let your ground strokes, lobs, or awesome net game go to seed just because there's snow on the ground and… More >>
  • BEST THUNDER PLAYER

    Joe Warren

    "You'll never beat Joe Warren" is the chant often heard during Minnesota Thunder games at James Griffin Stadium (a.k.a. The Jimmy). Last season--Warren's second as the soccer team's top net-minder--the boast was almost literally true. The Thunder's 31-year-old goalkeeper notched 15 shutouts (one short of a league record), yielding just 20 goals in 27 matches. That works out to an… More >>
  • BEST TIMBERWOLVES PLAYER

    Kevin Garnett

    Last year, as a few readers will surely recall, we bestowed this award on Ndudu Ebi. But given that the young Nigerian played in a mere two NBA games, we'll have to herald another straight-outta-high school forward in his stead. We do it regretfully, as Garnett hasn't had much of a year. He only led the NBA in rebounding and… More >>
  • BEST TWINS PLAYER

    Johan Santana

    After Santana fully recovered from off-season elbow surgery last season, he produced the kind of ridiculously dominant campaign usually associated with Hall of Famers like Koufax and Gibson. He yielded only 14 hits the entire month of July and just two earned runs in five September starts. He fanned 165 batters in 129.1 innings while compiling a 1.39 ERA the… More >>
  • BEST USE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS

    Hiawatha Line Light Rail

    First a disclaimer: You can make a credible argument that the Hiawatha Light Rail project is something of a boondoggle. The 11-mile line cost a fortune ($715 million, or about 62 million per mile). There were gaffes in construction. Delays. Water leaks into the tunnel by the airport. And ever since it opened last June, the rail has hopelessly fouled… More >>
  • BEST VICTIM

    Mark Dayton

    Poor Mark Dayton. An unquestionably decent and principled guy, he always comes off as skittish and improperly medicated. Is it the halting oratorical style? The hundred-yard stare? The lost-boy cluelessness about the dark art of public relations? Whatever the cause, Dayton always seems inclined to paint a giant target on his forehead. So it was this past October, when the… More >>
  • BEST VIEW

    Light Rail

    We can't take credit for first celebrating the quixotic qualities of the city as seen from a light rail car--that goes to Southwest Journal columnist Robert Gerloff, who last year wrote: "As seen from the street, the city often looks flat and two-dimensional, with endless blocks of building facades facing out like a huge stage set. However, like some giant… More >>
  • BEST VIKINGS PLAYER

    Dante Culpepper

    As usual, the 2004 incarnation of the Minnesota Vikings failed to meet the high expectations established by a jackrabbit start. After opening 6-1, the team finished with a mediocre 8-8 regular season record. For several years, the late autumn swoon has been the curse of the Vikings. Maybe that explains the relative dearth of fan accolades for Daunte Culpepper, who… More >>
  • BEST VILLAIN

    Mary Kiffmeyer

    If it's true that the current crop of new conservatives are villainous--and it's true, they are--then you've got to hand it to the state GOP for throwing sweet little Mary Kiffmeyer out there. The secretary of state is so aw-shucks Midwestern that she could have materialized from the pages Laura Ingalls Wilder. It's true that in her button-down dresses and… More >>
  • BEST VOCALIST (FEMALE)

    Leandra Hagberg

    She doesn't send out e-mails or postcards about her next big gig, because she doesn't have a next big gig. She doesn't hang out in any scene, because, as is usually the case, most great singers are scenes unto themselves. Sometimes, she doesn't even sing. When she does, it's almost reluctantly, with her husband Neal Hagberg, as part of the… More >>
  • BEST VOCALIST (MALE)

    Eric Luoma

    Bellwether was the best local alt-country band since the Jayhawks, but when they broke up last year, it was only a minor tragedy. For one thing, the alt-country scene around here is so buttressed with talent and so unbothered by attention that it just might live forever. For another, Bellwether in some ways still exists. Principal players Eric Luoma and… More >>
  • BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY

    Red Wing

    It's one of those things you really should see if you live here: The glaciers that flattened much of Minnesota split at Red Wing, leaving behind a landscape worthy of Brueghel--a valley overlooked by dramatic limestone bluffs covered in trees. You can hike Barn Bluff for a view, as Zebulon Pike did in 1805, followed by Henry David Thoreau 55… More >>
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