People & Places

  • BEST BEACH

    Hidden Beach at Cedar Lake

    The Twin Cities has plenty of perfectly lovely lakeside beaches where you can pitch a towel and spend a lazy summer day, but only one of them has a "vibe." Hidden Beach, on the eastern shore of Cedar Lake, still carries a free-spirited, counterculture sensibility left over from its days as an illicit nude beach and hippie hangout. And it… More >>
  • BEST ADULT VIDEO STORE

    Sex World

    It's a strange time for adult video stores just now. With all the talk of how the internet has affected industries such as music and publishing, it's easy to forget that the web was colonized first and fastest by pornographers, and they have been pushing the possibilities of the internet further than any other single industry. An entire subsection of… More >>
  • BEST AMUSEMENT PARK

    Valleyfair

    Camp Snoopy was cute and all, what with its Peanuts characters and fairly large variety of rides. And its successor, Nickelodeon Universe, will certainly be fun for the little ones, but adults probably aren't going to be thrilled by Sponge Bob Square Pants and Dora the Explorer. Thankfully, Valleyfair offers attractions for both the kiddies and adults (think water rides… More >>
  • BEST BIKE TRAIL

    Cannon Valley Trail

    In barely more time than it takes to drive from Minnetonka to St. Paul, you and your bike could be in Cannon Falls, at the start of one of the most beautiful bike rides in the state. The exquisitely scenic, 20-mile-long Cannon Valley Trail follows an old railway corridor from Cannon Falls to Red Wing, tracing a path along the… More >>
  • BEST ALBUM OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    Atmosphere, Strictly Leakage

    Slug and Ant didn't necessarily have to release this album, at least from a commercial standpoint. They could've coasted on the success of the intermittent Sad Clown EPs that showed up every few months in 2007, taken a breather, then unleashed When Life Gives You Lemons You Paint That Shit Gold right on time for prime spring windows-down/speakers-up season. But… More >>
  • BEST CHARITY

    Women Against Military Madness

    No matter who wins the election in November, the country will still be at war and military spending will continue. It's also a safe bet that the Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) will make sure the government is held accountable for the use and misuse of this country's military might. After all, WAMM—which was founded as a nonviolent, feminist, nonprofit… More >>
  • BEST BOCCE COURTS

    Nomad World Pub

    Bocce is a "sport" generally associated with old Italian men who chain-smoke cigarettes and drink bottomless cups of espresso. But lately the game has acquired a bit of hipster cachet, as alcohol enthusiasts have discovered that tossing balls around in the dirt is an activity easily performed while inebriated (and less taxing than bowling). There have long been a few… More >>
  • BEST ALL-AGES VENUE

    The Garage

    There's a reason it keeps on winning. Located in Burnsville, the Garage is one of the few joints in town that offers teens a break from their parents' basements and also spares them the embarrassment of getting turned away from a 21+ show. Many Twin Cities venues have all-ages nights, but this place keeps it all ages, all the time.… More >>
  • BEST CITIZEN-BASED MEDIA OUTLET

    The Uptake

    "Will journalism be done by you or to you?" the UpTake's homepage ominously asks. The fledgling citizen-journo outfit, launched last fall, has opted for the former, riding the crest of the new media wave using on-the-ground video coverage with an unapologetic advocacy bent. Founded with the looming Republican National Convention in mind, the nonprofit is heavy on the politics, and… More >>
  • BEST BOWLING ALLEY

    Ran-Ham Bowling Center

    There is a theory in physics that says time moves slower for objects beneath the earth's surface. It's logical then that Ran-Ham Bowling Center is in a basement and therefore a little behind the times of the ultramodern bowling allies on the surface. Ran-Ham does not have "Cosmic Bowling," popular among trendier alleys. There is no state-of-the-art sound system thumping… More >>
  • BEST BAND NAME

    Emerson, Lake and Lyndale

    .… More >>
  • BEST COMMUNITY EDUCATION CLASS

    Tap Dance with Jan Puffer

    Year after year, Jan Puffer's tap dance classes draw an eager crowd to Pratt Elementary School. Why tap dance? It's the perfect aerobic activity; you don't have to possess amazing balance, grace, or flexibility to do it; and the clatter created by an entire room full of tap dancers conceals all the grunts and heavy breathing. With beginning and intermediate… More >>
  • BEST BOXER

    Jason Litzau

    Jason Litzau is a kid from the East Side of St. Paul. He learned the fundamentals of boxing at the Rice Street Gym. The press conference announcing his first big-time bout was held at Yarusso Bros., the legendary Payne Avenue Italian restaurant. The hometown kid has compiled an impressive 23-2 record, earning a reputation as a fearless fighter who puts… More >>
  • BEST BAND TO BREAK UP IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    The Hockey Night

    Remember when that one really awesome rock band came along, and it totally kicked ass? With the dudes who were best friends from high school and were all super cool? And they attracted the attention of record industry muckety-mucks and were on the cusp of a huge deal? Yeah, so do we. The band was the Hockey Night, and, in… More >>
  • BEST DMV

    Midtown Exchange DMV

    The list of activities we'd rather do than wait in line for vehicle tabs could rival the contents of the Oxford English Dictionary. But as with any form of torture, there are degrees of misery, and what gets you through are the tiny graces. So it is at the Midtown DMV. The pampering starts with a play area: a scale… More >>
  • BEST COACH

    Tubby Smith

    Tubby Smith's stated wish to see a shiny new McFacility built on the grave of the venerable and wonderfully idiosyncratic Williams Arena is an idea that must under no circumstances be indulged. With its claustrophobia-inducing student section, wood benches that all but mandate that the crowd stand whenever remotely appropriate, and, of course, the ever-frightening raised floor, The Barn is… More >>
  • BEST BARTENDER

    Nick Kosevich, Town Talk Diner - CLOSED

    If you're lucky enough to find a seat at the bar in the often crowded Town Talk Diner, Nick may come over to take your order—or ask you to taste something. He tends bar at the popular south Minneapolis eatery, but the word "bartender" is a touch misleading; he's more of a cocktail chef. He takes time and care to… More >>
  • BEST FAN CONVENTION

    CONvergence

    Like September's Republican bacchanal or the American Atheist Society's convocation at the downtown Marriott back in March, most of the conventions the Twin Cities accommodate are onetime, fly-by-night affairs. No sooner do we fall in love with the visiting horde then it vanishes with nary a "see ya." But every Fourth of July weekend, the decade-old, nonprofit-run sci-fi and fantasy… More >>
  • BEST DAY TRIP

    Stillwater

    Taking MN-36 east from Minneapolis the 27 miles to Stillwater is like falling into a time machine that pops you out into 1950s small-town life. You might not find saddle shoes and poodle skirts, but you can have a burger and a strawberry, banana, or chocolate shake at Lily's corner malt shop downtown. And you can spend a chilly winter… More >>
  • BEST BLUES BAND

    The Butanes

    Why do the Butanes consistently rule as the Twin Cities' best blues band, despite plenty of legitimate contenders? Simply because no other band near the northern reaches of the Mississippi has a similarly encyclopedic knowledge of blues, classic R&B, and soul, nor the versatility to play virtually anything in that realm. The Butanes do it so convincingly that even natives… More >>
  • BEST FARMERS' MARKET

    Mill City Farmers' Market

    There are those who would argue that any farmers' market offering a didgeridoo brain massage is really more a festival for hapless hippies. The Mill City Farmers' Market gets away with it, mostly because everything else the market offers is so irresistibly perfect. Come for the all-natural Chicago-style hot dogs, the pork sandwiches, the fresh-squeezed juice, the cooking classes, and… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK

    Minnehaha Park

    To call this place a dog park understates the spectacle. To call it a four-acre orgy of dog adventure is gross. Dogs nip and scratch at the fence, desperate to hit the wide, winding trail that passes through woods and ends at a beach on the riverbank. All kinds of projectiles are fetched by all kinds of dogs that also… More >>
  • BEST BLUES BAR

    Famous Dave's BBQ & Blues Club

    It's always seemed a bit incongruous to find the area's best blues bands at a chain restaurant tucked away in the corner of an Uptown shopping mall. But there's nothing quite like listening to the whine of an electric guitar crying the blues from the stage at Famous Dave's in Calhoun Square, and with live music every night and consistent… More >>
  • BEST FESTIVAL

    Twin Cities Pride Celebration

    Each June in Minneapolis, folks of every sexual orientation and gender identity gather in sunny Loring Park in what has become the third-largest gay pride celebration in the country. Last year's festival drew nearly half a million people for two days of music and entertainment. The parade itself was watched by well over 100,000 spectators. It showcased marching organizations of… More >>
  • BEST GAY-FRIENDLY SPORTS LEAGUE

    Twin Cities Gay Hockey Association

    If you grew up in a hockey-crazed Twin Cities suburb, you'd be forgiven for remembering the sport of hockey as something less than a bastion of tolerance. In fact, if you ran with the hockey players—or just ran into them in the halls—you'd be forgiven for only remembering the date-rape rumors and the gay jokes. But this is Minnesota, and,… More >>
  • BEST LIBRARY

    Minneapolis Central Library

    A recent study by Central Connecticut State University declared Minneapolis to be the most literate city in America, finally edging out Seattle as king of the bookcase. It comes as no surprise, then, that the Minneapolis Central Library is such a jewel. Designed by Cesar Pelli, who also gave us the Wells Fargo Center just a few blocks away, the… More >>
  • BEST GOLF COURSE

    Hiawatha Golf Club

    Let's face it—golf is hard. It's so hard that maybe one in 20 golfers really does the game justice. So for most of us the best golf course is one that's pretty to play but still allows us to bring our egos and a few golf balls back to the clubhouse. Meadowbrook is often cited as the loveliest of the… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE (NEW)

    The Electric Fetus

    Whoever first observed that location is everything obviously never stepped inside the Fetus. Our community's most venerable purveyor of pre-recorded audio media couldn't be tucked into an odder pocket. How to explain its 40 years of glorious success? "Parking, parking, parking!" maybe, or better still, "inventory, inventory, inventory!" Sure, Cheapo boasts more square footage, Treehouse and Roadrunner have way more… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BLOG

    Mediation

    Taylor Carik, local blogger and polymath, has created what may be the Twin Cities' most eclectic web log—and one of its oddest. Take the inscrutable title, for example, which appears nowhere on the home page. Or Carik's rigorously minimalist approach to blogging: Unlike so many bloggers, Carik doesn't use his platform to disgorge treatises on his political views or journal… More >>
  • BEST HORSE TRAINER

    Mac Robertson

    Mac Robertson has established himself as the dominant trainer at Canterbury Park, leading the money board for four straight years. In fact, there's no one even in his neighborhood. During last year's meet, Robertson-trained horses cleared more than $1 million in winnings. The closest contender? Jamie Ness at roughly $600,000. Robertson also set the standard for finishing in the money.… More >>
  • BEST CLUB DJ

    Soviet Panda

    Soviet Panda may travel rather light, without vinyl crates to tote to his weekly residency at First Avenue's Too Much Love dance nights. But whether holier-than-thou crate diggers like it or not, the new millennium is upon us, and the title "disc jockey" now has a secondary definition. Soviet Panda's runaway success owes much to the fact that First Avenue… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE (USED)

    Cheapo Discs

    It's easy to be overwhelmed when you walk into this candy-cane-colored store full of new and used CDs in every imaginable genre. From punk to psychedelic to glam, from bubblegum to surf rock, Cheapo is likely to have something—often someone else's castoff—to suit your mood. Take a trip around the world browsing the store's international section, starting with the Far… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOY GONE BAD

    Alex Pareene

    Alex Pareene's ascent has been steep and not undeserved. His first blog, dubbed "Buck Hill" and launched in 2004, deftly extolled the virtues of his native Minneapolis while skewering his classmates at NYU. It was quickly discovered by evil blog mogul Nick Denton, who within two years had compelled Pareene to drop out of college, move to D.C., and succeed… More >>
  • BEST ICE SKATING

    Centennial Lakes Park

    Somehow ice skating looses its romantic zest indoors. At Centennial Lakes Park, for at least three months a year, skaters can feel as if they've fallen inside a Norman Rockwell painting, gliding throughout the park's three main ponds connected by narrow, winding canals. When tired, snuggle up with your partner at the rink-side warming house, where fireplaces crackle at both… More >>
  • BEST COCKTAILS

    Manhattans

    There are plenty of places in town to get a great cocktail, but only one serves up an adult libation so happily reminiscent of childhood as the "Rock Star" ($9.50) at Manhattans. From the "Champagne Cocktails" portion of the restaurant and bar's extensive drink menu, it's a concoction of Three Olives cherry vodka, champagne, and ginger beer, with a gorgeous… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOYS MADE GOOD

    Joel and Ethan Coen

    Like we had any other choice. After a couple of less-than-original films in the early part of the decade, the boys from St. Louis Park have found their stride again and are back on top of Hollywood. The duo earned Academy Awards this year for best adapted screenplay, best director, and best picture for their adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel… More >>
  • BEST INDOOR RUNNING SPACE

    Metrodome

    In a couple of years, the Twins and Gophers football team will vacate the Metrodome. And the Vikings perennially beg for a new home. The once-futuristic multiuse facility doesn't seem to be good enough for athletes anymore. Well, make that team athletes. Runners seem to like the Dome just fine. Every Tuesday and Thursday evening throughout the winter, the Dome's… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL MADE GOOD

    Diablo Cody

    Diablo Cody would've easily earned her second consecutive BLGMG even minus the Juno Oscar...or any of the other awards and nominations her debut screenplay accumulated. The former City Pages blogger and Robbinsdale resident simply has too much momentum for us—or anyone else in America—to ignore. "But what has she done since?" you ask? How about scripting the pilot for Dreamworks-produced… More >>
  • BEST JOCKEY

    Paul Nolan

    Jockeys are best known to the general public for being diminutive. But what really distinguishes people who race horses for a living from the general populace is an absolute disregard for their own physical well-being. Broken fingers, crushed ribs, and dislocated toes are simply part of the day-to-day mix. Any jockey who retires without a half-dozen permanent physical maladies didn't… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS (LOCAL)

    Doomtree Blowout at First Avenue

    There are but a handful of local acts capable of overfilling First Avenue, that cavernous oubliette capable of swallowing our Turf Club heavyweights in a single gulp. There are even fewer that can whip a capacity crowd of 1,500-plus into a unified feeding frenzy. Doomtree is our most weathered and treasured hip-hop collective, and the group's second year on the… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS (TOURING)

    M.I.A.

    There are plenty of reasons that Kala was one of the most invigorating albums of 2007—its populist internationalism, its tendency to blur genres as frequently as it did borders, its general sonic inventiveness (it's an album that made didgeridoos sound cool)—but under all that, it's just plain a great bass record. M.I.A. is best experienced in the eye of a… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL WEBSITE

    MnSpeak

    There are many reasons not to visit MnSpeak. Like Minnesota itself, the website has a tendency to be hostile to outsiders, such as when a newbie asked where to find a good sports bar and was promptly accused of being everything from a frat boy to a repressed homosexual. But in a year that saw the launch of many ambitious… More >>
  • BEST LYNX PLAYER

    Seimone Augustus

    Seimone Augustus can't do it all on her own. That much is clear from the scoring phenom's first two seasons in the WNBA. Last season Augustus averaged 22.6 points per game—nearly double the next leading scorer on the team. She also knocked down more than half her shots, converted nearly 90 percent of her free throws, and even led the… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT VENUE

    First Avenue

    Like a medieval peasant who, barehanded, kicks the shit out of knight after mounted knight, First Avenue stays on top of its racket with intuition and finesse. Sure, the best sightlines in town help, along with the 71-year-old structure's incomparable acoustics...which maybe, as management claims, really are related to the ceiling scuzz that sometimes falls on our heads. But the… More >>
  • BEST MAKE-OUT POINT

    Fillmore Avenue, St. Paul

    A step-by-step guide to locking lips on your next date: 1) Take your date someplace nice for dinner and/or other entertainment. Compliment him/her frequently. 2) After the last stop on the date, tell him/her that you would like to show him/her something special. 3) Get in your car. Put on enjoyable music, or Barry White. 4) Take 94 east. Get off at the Fifth… More >>
  • BEST MINNESOTA SWARM PLAYER

    Nick Patterson

    Nick Patterson understands how to plug holes, whether he does it with colorful piercings on his face or with his glove and pads in the lacrosse net. The 25-year-old goalie phenom leads National Lacrosse League goaltenders in minutes played and saves. He was given NLL co-player of the week honors in the third week of the season when he hung… More >>
  • BEST DANCE CLUB

    The Front

    You know how you have that certain group of friends that gathers now and then, and although you're happy to see them, the evening always seems strained? Sure, everyone is excited to "go out" because that's what you always used to do, but it's not the same. Cure this sad social situation—and many others—with a dance extravaganza at the Front.… More >>
  • BEST MAYOR

    R.T. Rybak

    In post-Katrina America, all that an elected official needs to do to look better than the Bush administration is show up at a disaster site in a timely manner and not make things worse. Still, after the I-35W collapse, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak did a lot more than that. He was on the horrific scene promptly and consistently—not merely to… More >>
  • BEST MINNESOTA THUNDER PLAYER

    Nic Platter

    In what was otherwise a miserable campaign for the Minnesota Thunder, with the team missing the playoffs for the third straight season, goalkeeper Nic Platter was a revelation. The University of California at Davis product, having endured two years on the bench as a little-used backup, took over between the pipes from veteran Joe Warren midway through the season. Starting… More >>
  • BEST ECLECTIC BAR CROWD

    Palmer's Bar

    Palmer's. Walk into this West Bank dive bar and you'll encounter diversity on many levels: ethnicity, age, gender, income level, and personal disposition. You've got your bearded, bespectacled hipster brooding over his sketchpad near the back. See him? There's a jaded old woman sitting alone at a table and staring into her beer as if it were a crystal ball,… More >>
  • BEST NEW BRIDGE

    Hiawatha Bridge

    In a year of collapsing bridges, we have to take our hats off to a new bridge that got it right. This pedestrian and bicycle bridge spans Hiawatha Avenue and is as beautiful to look at as it is to cross. Thanks to its innovative suspension beam, the bridge looks like a sailing ship at full mast and doubles as… More >>
  • BEST NATURE IN THE CITY

    The Quaking Bog at Wirth Park

    One of our most charming natural attractions can be found right at the center of the metropolitan sprawl. Just over the hill from noisy I-394, nestled in Wirth Park at the bottom of a hill, you'll find a sign for the Quaking Bog. Tucked away from the road, a short walk by trail, the bog is a true wilderness phenomenon—a… More >>
  • BEST GAY BAR

    Jetset Bar

    Lately, the Gay '90s feels more like the Trail of Terror—what lurks around the next dark turn? Sure, it's a cheap thrill, but Twin Cities queers who crave a different scene land at Jetset. While some competitors have come and gone, this unlikely, inconspicuous (but not necessarily unpretentious) gay bar has built a consistent clientele. After five years and an… More >>
  • BEST NEW VIEW OF THE RIVERFRONT

    Guthrie Theater's "Endless Bridge"

    Sure, the new Guthrie Theater's edifice may be a bit imposing, the interior a tad too dark, and the HAL-like voice that welcomes you to the theater more than a bit unnerving, but that's forgotten once you step outside onto the theater complex's signature "Endless Bridge." On warm evenings, it's packed with well-dressed theatergoers taking in a view of the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO JOG

    Crosby Farm Regional Park

    Replete with paved paths and separate bike lanes, the jogging infrastructure perched high above both banks of the Mississippi along the river roads is beyond reproach. But if you yearn to get down to the water, we recommend a jog through Crosby Farm Park. Nestled near the intersection of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, the four miles of paved path… More >>
  • BEST PARKING LOT

    The one behind the Mixed Blood Theatre on the West Bank

    If you think there's no clear-cut, hands-down best parking lot in the Twin Cities, you're, uh...you're actually right. No parking lot stands curb-and-asphalt above the rest. But that's not stopping us from christening the one behind the Mixed Blood Theatre on the West Bank as the best. It meets all the criteria: 1) Affordability—six bucks gets you all-day parking in… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SHOOT POOL

    Fat Boy Billiards - CLOSED

    A good pool hall is about pool, and it carries a faint aroma of seediness and stale beer, and a pall of cigarette smoke hugs the ceiling. It's frequented by taciturn men (and women, but mostly men) who bring their own sticks in battered leather cases, dour old-timers and regulars who gather at the back tables and rack 'em for… More >>
  • BEST HIP-HOP ARTIST

    Brother Ali

    The problem with writing about Brother Ali is that eventually you run out of things to say about him—and the reason is because there's already been plenty of other opportunities to point out how great he is. Since The Undisputed Truth was released just over a year ago, barely a month has gone by where Ali hasn't shown up at… More >>
  • BEST HAPPY HOUR

    Lyle's Bar & Restaurant

    If you're looking for a temperate night out or insist you just want to "drink socially," for the love of Christ and sobriety stay away from Liquor Lyle's. It's impossible to spend more than 20 minutes in this Lowry Hill dive bar and not get completely wrecked, thanks to the seemingly continuous drink specials that damn near render happy hours… More >>
  • BEST PET ADOPTION

    Safe Hands Animal Rescue

    In February, the folks at Safe Hands Animal Rescue got into a car accident, their van crashing into a guard rail and cement pole on Interstate 90/39 near Edgerton, and the only thing on volunteer Lynne Bengtson's mind was what would happen to their precious cargo. Earlier that week, the Minneapolis-based no-kill volunteer shelter had sent representatives nearly 350 miles… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SPEND A DAY DOING SOMETHING FOR FREE

    Como Park

    We should note up front that the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory—the two main attractions of Como Park—request a free-will donation upon entrance, so this outing is "free" only in the technical sense. (C'mon, people! It's only two bucks for adults and one for children!) Which means that besides taking bucolic respite in the sprawling, 348-acre park, you can fritter… More >>
  • BEST JAZZ ARTIST

    Irv Williams

    At 88 grand years of age, tenor saxophone icon Irv Williams could very well rest on his considerable laurels, which include nearly seven decades on the Twin Cities jazz scene as a musician and educator. Instead, Williams continues to explore the rich arsenal of elegant emotions he uses to vividly color jazz ballads, not only on a busy schedule of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE

    Lake Elmo Park Reserve

    We once read somewhere that 87 percent of women want a man who appreciates the outdoors, and that 93 percent of ladies find a man's ability to protect them from harm to be "hot." For a fellow planning a first date, these figures point to one destination: the Lake Elmo Park Reserve. The five-mile trek around Eagle Point Lake (give… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC PARK

    Lebanon Hills Regional Park

    It's nearing midday on a sparkling summer morning, and for three hours you've been hiking dirt trails through lovely, dense woods of oak and maple. In all that time you've hardly seen a soul, though earlier you startled a deer in a sun-dappled glen. Now, as you round a bend in the trail, you stumble across a placid, hidden pond… More >>
  • BEST JAZZ CLUB

    Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant

    With a notoriously schizoid tendency to waver between smugness and insecurity about their own attributes, Minnesotans may be genuinely shocked when it finally sinks in that the Dakota ranks among the premier jazz clubs in the known world. It's long been an open secret shared by jazz's elite musicians, nearly all of whom, over the past couple of decades, have… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BREAK UP

    Science Museum of Minnesota

    Listen, honey, it's just not working out. See, you're like this 4,000-year-old stone slab of cuneiform, the world's first written language: Your communication skills are primitive. Or you're like the "Deadly Medicine" exhibit about Nazi eugenics. You're a traveling exhibit in the museum that is my life. You're fascinating, I learned some neat things from you, but you were never… More >>
  • BEST SIGN OF SPRING

    Outdoor dining

    It's always nice when Minnesota's merciless icy death grip finally loosens and you can do things outdoors that you couldn't have previously—like, for instance, anything. But you know spring has really arrived when the patios and sidewalk cafés open, and suddenly the notion of eating outside without gloves on once again becomes a thankful reality. There's fine rooftop dining in… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET ARRESTED FOR SOLICITING SEX IN PUBLIC

    Crosby Farm Regional Park

    The competition for this dubious honor was surprisingly robust. Sen. Larry Craig's airport arrest ensured that the Lindbergh terminal would become the most notorious public gay cruising spot in the country. But locals know that the airport bathroom stalls can't compete with Crosby Farm Regional Park as a hotspot for soliciting anonymous sex. As Mara Gottfried reported in the Pioneer… More >>
  • BEST SLEDDING

    Theodore Wirth Park

    There's nothing quite like the thrill of trudging all the way up a mountain of snow trailing a plastic sled, snowboard, or tube; shooting back down the hill; then doing it all over again. Sledding is a God-given right, and there shouldn't be a fee, rules, or regulations. For that reason, we ignored the corporatization of sledding—the frozen water parks… More >>
  • BEST JUKEBOX

    331 Club

    On a Saturday afternoon in mid-February, winter is making its presence felt. The TV weather terrorists are in a tizzy, giddily predicting a foot of snow by day's end. We've got laundry to do and a sidewalk to shovel, but then we spot the sandwich board on the sidewalk in front of the squat, mustard-colored bar at the corner of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET AWAY FROM IT ALL WITHOUT LEAVING TOWN

    Canoeing on Lake Nokomis

    Nokomis, southernmost of the Minneapolis lakes, is a happy medium between Hiawatha, which is too small to really lose one's sense of urbanity, and the larger bodies of Calhoun and Harriet, which draw too many people to their waters to allow any sense of peace. When the exhaust and cracked sidewalks of the city get too claustrophobic, Nokomis promises a… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS BAR FOR CHEERING OUT-OF-STATE TEAMS

    Gabe's by the Park

    Twin Cities sports bars are understandably barren territory for fans of out-of-state sports teams, but Gabe's by the Park is happy to provide an oasis. Located in St. Paul next to Como Park—a good eight miles from those unruly Gopher-fiends in Dinkytown—Gabe's boasts more than 20 television sets, including two big-screens. On autumn Sundays, Packer cheeseheads swarm the sprawling bar… More >>
  • BEST KARAOKE

    Staraoke Karaoke at Grumpy's

    Show us one person who claims to not secretly wish to be a country, rock, or rap star, and we'll show you a liar. Music celebrity will never happen for most of us, but that doesn't mean we can't dream. If you're ready to show a little of your exhibitionist side, Staraoke Karaoke may offer the best opportunity to publicly… More >>
  • BEST LIVE ARTIST

    Skoal Kodiak

    On the Turf Club stage, Skoal Kodiak's vocalist and master electrician Markus Lunkenheimer raves with the impassioned stagger of a preacher possessed. Bit-crushed samples throb from his bay of handcrafted effects, while a clash of drums and fuzzed bass keeps unwavering time. The sight would be stunning enough, even without the capacity crowd writhing and roiling in equal parts mosh… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET OTHER PARENTS

    Riverview Café

    New parents, expecting parents, or parents new to town: What if we told you that there was a quiet and comfortable place where moms and dads are relaxing at the edge of a beautifully painted and lovingly stocked play area, waiting to answer your questions? And what if we told you that place was a coffee shop? You wouldn't believe… More >>
  • BEST TENNIS COURTS

    Tower Hill courts

    If you're the kind to spend a few hours outside on a pleasant summer's day whacking a tennis ball around a concrete court, the Twin Cities blesses you with many excellent options. But one pair of courts towers over the rest—literally. Halfway up Tower Hill in elegant and winding Prospect Park, the courts are just a two-minute climb to one… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL MUSIC COMPILATION

    Foreclosure and Eviction

    Times are tough for local musicians who want airplay. Request a local song on any Clear Channel-affiliated station around town and you'll probably be answered with a silent phone. So it's fitting that Homegrown's last CD was dubbed Foreclosure and Eviction. Homegrown began in 1996 as a single local song played during a late-night radio shift on KQRS. It grew… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (GAY)

    The Minneapolis Eagle/Bolt

    This category should really be split into "Best Place to Meet Mr. Right" and "Best Place to Meet Mr. Right Now." In the online era, lots of gay men have perfected the latter. But there can never be a substitute for visceral, in-person chemistry. Hours of "meaningful conversation" tend to wilt if you don't click face to face. At the… More >>
  • BEST TIMBERWOLVES PLAYER

    Al Jefferson

    The comparisons are as inevitable as they are unfair. Al Jefferson is not, and is not likely ever to be, Kevin Garnett's equal. He does not have the same capacity to defend the opponent's best player out to the perimeter. He does not have the same ability to find open teammates with deft passes. And, of course, he does not… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL RECORD LABEL

    De Stijl

    Anyone who insists that physical product is dead in the record industry needs to be put in a home. Sure, mere mundane copies are now worthless. But—as Trent Reznor demonstrated so brilliantly in March when the signed, limited edition of Nine Inch Nails' Ghosts I-IV sold out in a day, grossing him $750,000—the minute you turn a copy into an… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (STRAIGHT)

    Dave and Buster's

    Lovely yet single ladies, fret no more: We have found your beacon of hope. Dave and Buster's is a bit of a trek, but well worth the extra 15 minutes. The arcade/bar/restaurant is something like an adult Chuck E. Cheese, complete with bright, flashing lights that are only outdone by the even brighter, flashing animated screens that explode inside this… More >>
  • BEST TWINS PLAYER

    Joe Mauer

    No. 7 spent the bulk of last season fighting through injuries, and most fans who watched him grit his teeth and take his lumps in '07 saw a somewhat different player from the one who hit .347 in 2006. The defending batting champ lost some of his speed out of the batter's box, had a little trouble nailing his customary… More >>
  • BEST MARGARITA

    Salsa a la Salsa

    The origins of the margarita are hazy at best. Some say it was invented in Galveston in 1948 for Peggy Lee; others contend that Margaret Sames made up the cocktail in Acapulco. There's a bit of disagreement as to how the drink ought be made as well, from debates about rim salt to the proper ratio of ingredients. The International… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (GAY)

    Pi Bar and Restaurant

    Tucked into a quiet corner of south Minneapolis, Pi Bar and Restaurant has been making the best of its inaugural year. There are great daily drink specials, including $2 domestic bottled beer on Fridays and half-price bottles of wine on Mondays. And Pi is home to some of the best bar food in town (its Mozzarella Lady Fingers could've easily… More >>
  • BEST VIKINGS PLAYER

    Adrian Peterson

    Running back Adrian "All Day" Peterson's propensity for freakish, did-he-really-just-do-that? flair was evident to most Vikings diehards since training camp. It wasn't until his October 14 performance at Soldier Field—in which he reduced the Bears' secondary into hapless Pop Warner scrubs while rushing for a franchise record 224 yards—that he burst into the national consciousness as a bona fide phenom.… More >>
  • BEST MARTINI

    St. Petersburg Restaurant and Vodka Bar

    The martini is probably the most iconic cocktail on any drink menu, and even for people who can hold their liquor, it's not for those with a weak stomach or liver. Like a quality scotch, a martini is made to be sipped, and part of its charm is that you'll look classy drinking it. But unlike scotch or a fine… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (STRAIGHT)

    Bolder Options

    If you answered the "(blank) is sexy, (blank) is sexier" question with "being athletic" and "helping kids," then cancel your online dating subscription and sign up to be a mentor with Bolder Options. The nonprofit organization, which began in Boulder, Colorado, runs yearlong mentor programs in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, pairing adults with at-risk teens to train for running… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO EXPERIENCE THE TWIN CITIES WITHOUT ENDURING THE WEATHER

    Twin Cities Flickr Photo Pool

    This place is cold. Let's just come out and say it. Sometimes it's so cold your boogers freeze with just one boot out the door. There are those with the constitution and the disposition to explore the out-of-doors in these conditions, but why? If you'd rather curl up than suit up when icy death rattles its sickle against your wintertime… More >>
  • BEST MOJITO

    Babalú

    Not sure about what a mojito is? Though in the past it's resided in the realm of obscure cocktails, as of late the mojito has seen a resurgence on drink menus around the city, and has even been made into an Orbit chewing gum flavor. Traditionally served in a Collins glass, this Cuban beverage consists of muddled fresh mint (fresh… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PEOPLE-WATCH

    Pizza Lucé downtown after 1 a.m. on a Saturday night

    For optimum people-watching experience, it's imperative to remain at least somewhat sober, as the dividing line between "spectator" and "subject" seems to fall right between the night's fourth and fifth beer. That said, grab a slice, pull up a chair, and behold the inebriated melodrama that can only be found where swarms of ravenous bar-hoppers and clubbers assemble in too-close… More >>
  • BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY

    The North Shore

    No matter what your reason for wanting to escape, the North Shore will take you far away from the Twin Cities, physically and spiritually. For nearly 146 miles on MN 61 North, travelers follow Lake Superior's shoreline through several beachside towns interspersed throughout the North Woods. Stop and stay along the way at any of the quaint bed-and-breakfast spots, cabins,… More >>
  • BEST MUSIC STORE

    Vintage Music

    We've all heard the stories: In the out-with-the-old orgy of the 1970s, the Twin Cities lost many of what should have been their most prized historical landmarks. In their place rose boxy, drab architecture that neither sought nor achieved anything more than to entomb the 9-to-5ers inside. Hell, reverence for the historical is hardly the defining American trait even today.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

    Stone Arch Bridge

    Unless they walk, bike, or canoe to the Twin Cities, what our guests need most are exercise and fresh air. What they invariably want is pleasure. Why not take care of all three at once, using the Mississippi River and Stone Arch Bridge as your adventure's spine? (Just before sunset is best.) Start at the 1883 landmark's western entrance with… More >>
  • BEST WILD PLAYER

    Marian Gaborik

    The Wild had an amazing season, and Marian Gaborik has the stats to show it. Who could forget his amazing five-goal game against the Rangers on December 20? Or the ovation that greeted him when he scored his 200th career goal in a game that snapped a late-season losing streak? Or his performance in the division championship-clinching game against the… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR (MINNEAPOLIS)

    Grumpy's Bar & Grill

    In February Grumpy's Bar & Grill celebrated its 10th birthday. For those who appreciate divey neighborhood bars, it's not hard to see how it's lasted so long. The crowd is a good mix of old veterans who have been there since mid-afternoon, Uptown hipsters cruising through Northeast, bar-hopping twentysomethings who probably walked to the bar from home, and a handful… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO WANDER INDOORS

    Marjorie McNeely Conservatory

    An enormous glass building rising out of Como Park like Atlantis re-emerging from the Mediterranean, this free-to-the-public greenhouse is just enough of a breath of the spring to come to stave away the dark thoughts of winter. The conservatory's dome, towering at 64 feet tall, houses enormous palms, some a hundred years old; stroll through the Sunken Garden and sniff… More >>
  • BEST WINTER SPORTS RESORT

    Lutsen Mountains

    Okay, so you won't hear Lutsen ever claim to rival Vail. It doesn't. However, without paying a small fortune for airfare, car rental, and hotel (or making do on your roommate's cousin's pull-out couch...again), it's a Twin Cities ski bum's best bet. Offering nine lifts serving 90 runs, Lutsen is a far cry from Buck Hill, and it also offers… More >>
  • BEST POLITICIAN

    Neva Walker

    Most politicians don't know when to exit the stage. They've spent so much time in front of fawning crowds that they lose all perspective on their place in the political universe. Hence you get delusional jackasses like Rod Grams running for office long after their political viability has wilted. Or the spectacle of Sen. Larry Craig engaging in a fruitless… More >>
  • BEST YOGA

    St. Paul Yoga Center

    Yoga, or "union" in the classical Indian language, Sanskrit, is about balancing one's body with one's mind—finding serenity and calmness while strengthening one's physical self. For that reason, yoga shouldn't be overpriced or commercial, and you shouldn't walk into a studio to find clones of beautiful, thin people who see yoga only as a way to burn calories. Unlike many… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR (ST. PAUL)

    The Happy Gnome

    The Gnome is all about choice. To begin with, you have three options as soon as you walk in the swank, wooded interior of this Cathedral Hill tavern. Do you park yourself in the classic bar section, with its long, L-shaped wooden counter and a basketball game playing on the muted TV? In the more pub-like sit-down area, with its… More >>
  • BEST SCANDAL

    Carol Molnau's shameless land deal

    Scandal is a perennial that comes in many varieties, but this year's yield has been a particularly rich and diverse one. There was the newspaper publisher who quit in order to work at a rival newspaper, bringing with him confidential advertiser information on his laptop before being humiliated in court and stripped of his job. Or the visiting United States… More >>
  • BEST NEW BAND

    Gospel Gossip

    With an EP and a full-length already in their discography, and a West Coast tour behind them, Gospel Gossip are the overachieving Bobby Fischers of our musical community. Drawing on old-soul pop awareness they must have accrued in their past lives, these wunderkinds have made a high-wattage debut that harkens to the finer, headier days when brainiacs like the Velvet… More >>
  • BEST NEW NEIGHBORHOOD BAR

    Buster's on 28th

    South Minneapolis has long been in dire need of decent neighborhood watering holes. The old 3.2 corner joints that litter the blocks south of Lake Street just don't cut it these days. The near ravenous response that greeted the opening of the Chatterbox Pub in 2000 was one indication of this marketplace void. The debut of Buster's on 28th is… More >>
  • BEST SELF-PROMOTER

    Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek

    What would you do with a spare $30,000 of public money? What's that you say? Produce a masturbatory 26-minute film detailing your heroic leadership in the aftermath of the 35W bridge disaster? That was Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek's answer. Framed by the carcass of the fallen bridge, Stanek sits in his starched white uniform. He is affable and confident… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY PUNK/METAL MUSIC

    Extreme Noise Records

    This metal-studded collective gives dedicated listeners a safe haven from stores that think Fall Out Boy is "punk." Inside you'll find a dizzying collection of rare, new, local, and obscure punk rock of all stripes. Looking for the latest noise from Japan? You'll find vinyl copies of Gauze's latest album. Need to check out some Swedish crust from the 1990s?… More >>
  • BEST SILVER LINING TO THE 35W BRIDGE COLLAPSE

    Four lanes on 94

    Suggesting that anything positive might have emerged from a tragedy that took 13 lives is undoubtedly churlish on our part, if not outright offensive. But for all the traffic headaches that have ensued since the 35W bridge plunged into the Mississippi River, there has been at least one silver lining: Within days of the tragedy, Interstate 94 suddenly increased from… More >>
  • BEST R&B ARTIST

    The New Congress

    As genres are getting harder and harder to peg, we're left with the question: What are the signs of a great R&B group? Take a cue from the New Congress, who combine mixing and scratching with great bass lines, solid guitar work, and a super-tight percussion section in their blend of jazzy, homegrown R&B, and you've got your answer. They… More >>
  • BEST SKYSCRAPER

    The Capella Tower

    With its metallic-blue hue and half-circle crown, the Capella Tower (formerly known as the US Bankcorp Center) has been the crown jewel of the Minneapolis skyline since its completion in 1992. Although it falls short of the soaring IDS Center by a foot—or by 16 feet, if you count a garage perched atop the IDS Center—the tower's curvature nicely complements… More >>
  • BEST ROCK BAND

    Vampire Hands

    From Portland to Princeton, the blogosphere hums with whispers about Vampire Hands, and not one LiveJournal has been able to muster the ironic sneer necessary to make a single "they suck" joke. In the last few years, which have seen the local four-piece release two EPs (At Wizard Island: Too Punk to Fuck and Cuz It's a Beach Funeral), and… More >>
  • BEST SPEED TRAP

    The bridges over the Mississippi near 35W

    Growing up, our hero was our elementary school's DARE officer. She taught us that only cowards smoke marijuana, and she presented us with a certificate after we'd learned to rat out anyone—parents included—if they exhibited the wrong kind of weakness. We're not sure what the DARE gang is up to these days, but we recognize something of their uncompromising, goal-oriented… More >>
  • BEST ROCK CLUB

    Turf Club

    St. Paul's Midway neighborhood can be a desolate place. There's something defeating about those chain stores and DMV outposts gazing imperiously on Snelling and University from their bituminous moats. But nestled here in this wasted economic hub is St. Paul's crown jewel of live music, glowering in the rough like a guerrilla sniper. With a capacity of over 250, inviting… More >>
  • BEST STATE FAIR FOOD

    Walleye on a stick

    Choosing just one favorite state fair food is like asking Hugh Hefner to pick his favorite girlfriend. There are lots of options and no reason to pick just one—you'll probably be eating 20 different things at the fair. That said, when we contemplated the question this year, one item emerged as a clear winner (after we overruled our sweet tooth,… More >>
  • BEST SONGWRITER

    M.anifest

    Look, we like capital-S Songwriters as much as anyone—those cute indie chicks and dudes who bare their souls with just an acoustic guitar and a microphone, delivering masterful lyrics on the whimsical nature of love and life in a well-developed falsetto. But this year the word craft and songsmithing that blew off our headphones were delivered by someone a little… More >>
  • BEST USE OF NEON LIGHTING

    First National Bank Building

    There are a few pretty notable facts about the First National Bank building in downtown St. Paul: It has what is thought to be the world's first skyway, the basement used to house a firing range for bank guards to practice in, and the building had to compete with the Empire State Building for construction materials. But the most notable… More >>
  • BEST STORE FOR SEX TOYS

    Smitten Kitten

    America loves sex toys. Still, even the most resolute thrill-seekers among us tend to acquire their dildos and butt plugs online, out of simple shame. After all, who wants to get caught red-handed exiting a sex shop by a neighbor or co-worker, especially a square one of the "Hey, what's in the bag?" ilk. Given its prime Lyn-Lake location, the… More >>
  • BEST USE OF TAXPAYER MONEY

    Land conservation grants

    A couple hundred years back, Minnesota was covered by 18 million acres of prairie. Today, less than 1 percent remains. Worth protecting, right? Enter land conservation grants, which reward landowners who pledge not to farm or build on their property. The grants also go toward offsetting tax write-offs for owners of primary-growth prairie, buying woods to turn them into protected… More >>
  • BEST STRIP CLUB

    The Seville

    There are many reasons to fall in love with Seville: its exceedingly courteous wait staff/bouncing crew, an elegant decor, impeccably clean bathrooms complete with attendant, and of course—and this is key—tits. But what sets Seville apart from other skin shacks is the obvious effort it puts into creating a respectful environment. The dancers are presented more as sensuous, poised performers… More >>
  • BEST VIEW

    Lake Hiawatha at sunset on an autumn day

    The tiny park at the northeast corner of Lake Hiawatha houses a handful of park benches facing the southwest corner of the lake, strategically placed to provide an amazing sunset view without putting the sun directly in your eyes. On an autumn day when the wind is just chilly enough to catch at the back of your throat, wander down… More >>
  • BEST VOCALIST (FEMALE)

    Laura Larson of Baby Guts

    Beautiful female voices are something to be treasured. The sorrowful, bluesy wails of Joanna James, for instance, or the lilting harmonies of Allison LaBonne and Maria May of the Owls. But sometimes we're left wanting something less polished and more primal from our local ladies—and Laura Larson of Baby Guts is happy to fill the niche. Her traditional-singing voice is… More >>
  • BEST VILLAIN

    Par Ridder

    Hollywood couldn't have cast a finer chap for the role of vile newspaper scion than Par Ridder. After all, the smug, chipmunk-cheeked son of Tony Ridder has been groomed for the post his entire life. When Par announced last year that he was resigning as publisher of the Pioneer Press to take an identical post with its cross-river rival, many… More >>
  • BEST VOCALIST (MALE)

    Mike Gunther

    When it comes to the discography of Mike Gunther and His Restless Souls, comparisons to Tom Waits are a necessary evil. But while Waits's voice box took nearly three decades to stagger from the piano lounge to the flophouse to the chicken coop to the machine shed, local Mike Gunther has developed a powerful vocal presence that manages to telescope… More >>

Best of Award Graphics

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