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his is it: The Independent’s 18th annual Best of Missoula issue, our biggest annual issue, arriving in our 21st year. We feel a little like a young adult suddenly entitled to vote and drink. And if we were going to exercise that latter right, why, we’d probably take a tip from readers in our Best Of poll and quaff a pomegranate martini on the deck at Finn & Porter, and maybe chase it with a Cold Smoke at the Kettlehouse—point being, these Best Of results compose a guide to much of the best Missoula


Best View: Mt. Sentinel

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has to offer, from drinks to eats to shopping and sports. And that’s not all. This is also your invitation to join us tonight, Thursday, July 12, from 5:30 to 8:30 at Caras Park for our Best of Missoula party (in conjunction with the Missoula Downtown Association’s Downtown ToNight). Admission is free, and there’ll be food and drinks and music from Tom Catmull and the Clerics and David Boone & DAWNS. We’ll look for you there.

Photo by Chad Harder

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Band, Musician: Tom Catmull and the Clerics Last year, Tom joked to the Indy that he’s little more than a beer salesman. He’s not far off the mark in some ways; whether he’s at the Union Club or Chico Hot Springs, his music does go well with a cold beer. But over the years, Tom and his merry band of musical misfits have become so much more. They’re a staple of downtown Missoula. They’re a hit at local weddings. Heck, the Decemberists’ Colin Meloy took the stage at the Union last year alongside the Clerics for a one-song cameo, and the Clerics were so on, it sounded rehearsed. So next time you see Tom and the band, make sure they know they aren’t the side dish to a night of drinking beer. They’re the main course. Tom Catmull and the Clerics:

and More Songs About Her couldn’t have come out richer as a result. Brownell’s complex lyricism provided an emotional, almost anguished new counterpoint to the band’s more whimsical habits. The oohing and ahhing are still front and center. You’ll still tap your foot and hum along. But Secret Powers has shown that, with time and a relaxed attitude, great music can become great poetry—especially if it reminds you of ELO.

Finalists, Best Album 2. Sick Kids XOXO: Sick Kids XOXO 3. TIE: Bob Wire: Off-White Christmas Butter: Removable Beast Kung Fu Kongress: Playin Hard to Get

Finalists, Best Local Band 2. Reverend Slanky: 3. Cold Hard Cash:

Reid’s an awesome guy. Great actor, great director, owner of an incredible collection of wine-bottle terrariums. He’s the sort of easy-going talent that makes Missoula theater a cornerstone of the valley’s culture. We missed his portrayal of Frank N. Furter last fall when the annual Rocky Horror Picture Show took a hiatus. But he wowed us in the role of Amos (a.k.a. Mr. Cellophane) in the University of Montana’s production of Chicago this spring, and he offered us a story all his own May 29 at Missoula’s Tell Us Something storytelling night at the Top Hat. Reid’s all local, having grown up acting with the Missoula Children’s Theatre. And every year, he reminds us all over again why Missoula loves the arts.

Finalists, Best Actor 2. Robin Rose-Rice 3. Jeff Medley

Writer: James Lee Burke Lolo resident James Lee Burke is no stranger to high praise. He’s been called “America’s best novelist” and “the heavyweight champ” of crime fiction, and he’s a regular on the bestseller lists. He’s also a regular winner of this category. With such lavish accolades, it’s easy sometimes to overlook the littler things in his writing. Take his description of a secondary character in his latest thriller, Creole Belle: “Miss Alice was a former nun whose height and body mass and gurgling sounds made Clete think of a broken refrigerator he once owned.” Only Burke would compare a once-holy woman to an old kitchen appliance. It’s perfect passages like this one, as well as all his big accomplishments, that keep Burke atop this category.

Finalists, Best Local Musician 2. David Boone: 3. John Floridis:

Album: Secret Powers, More Songs About Her The fifth and latest album from Missoula’s poprock masters, released last year, boasted something of a wild card: John Brownell. The former Oblio Joes axe-man joined Secret Powers’s permanent lineup,

Actor: Reid Reimers

Best Album: Secret Powers

Finalists, Best Writer 2. Mark Gibbons 3. Rick Bass

STAFF PICK BEST LOSER That title might sound harsh, but what we mean is that we have tons of respect for the way Missoula City Councilman Dave Strohmaier ran his unsuccessful primary campaign for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat. Strohmaier, whom we’ve taken to task in the past for his nanny-statist proposals, deserves props. He could’ve adhered to a Montana Democrat’s tried-and-true political formula: loving guns, hating wolves, a down-home shtick. Instead, he released a campaign ad featuring him presiding over the staged wedding of two women at Caras Park. “How dare the government tell us who can and cannot marry?” Strohmaier asks. “In Congress ... I’ll support marriage equality.” He explained to us that his campaign was about “authenticity.” “I’m no Republican lite,” he said. Strohmaier showed Montana Democrats what it really means to stick to your guns. Best of luck next time, Dave.

Photographer: Chad Harder If you take a peek inside Chad Harder’s office at the Indy, you’ll notice it’s filled with an unsurprising amount of photographs. Nothing framed, mind you—just a bunch of 3-by-5s or 4-by-6s casually tucked into the windowsills or taped to the walls. Pretty typical stuff, unless you take a closer look at the actual images. There’s a group of

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Thank you, Missoula, for choosing Blue Mountain Clinic and Dr. Ravitz Five years running! Come see why for yourself.

We welcome our new female MD, Dr. Joey Banks.

friends balancing on some impossibly narrow and steep cliff line. There’s a helicopter landing whoknows-where to drop off some backcountry skiers; kegs fill the foreground. There’s plenty more, but you get the idea: In his own understated and fearless way, Harder continues to seek out the greatest spots in Montana, usually with some of its greatest people, and capture a bit of it for the pages of the Independent and Montana Headwall. Chad Harder:

Finalists, Best Photographer 2. Dax Kuehn, Dax Photography: 3. Corrina Spelts, Journeys Photography:

amazing. The Dana Gallery: 246 North Higgins Ave., 721-3154,

Finalists, Best Gallery 2. Missoula Art Museum: 335 N. Pattee St. 728-0447 3. Monte Dolack: 139 W. Front St. 549-3248

Movie Theater: The Wilma Theatre We really appreciate that the Wilma isn’t a cineplex teeming with teenagers on first dates. We also find the theater’s history and ambiance

There’s more to our care than you might think

Best New Band: Sick Kids XOXO

Dancer: Heather Adams Torma Good thing Heather Adams Torma is light on her feet. The only champion this category has ever known spent the past year simultaneously choreographing two of Missoula’s biggest musicals: Chicago for the University of Montana’s School of Theatre and Dance and West Side Story for the Missoula Children’s Theatre. Combine those heavy responsibilities with her ongoing work as the founder of Downtown Dance Collective and Heather had quite the busy year. It’s enough to earn her a curtain call.

Finalists, Best Dancer 2. Kali Lindner 3. Kelli Neumeyer

Art Gallery: Dana Gallery First Fridays see the Dana Gallery mobbed by arts patrons and perusers scouting out some of the most highly regarded fine art in the Northwest. Owner Dudley Dana and his staff put a lot of care into curating a diverse collection of paintings and photographs—Montana urban and rural landscapes, beautiful and odd portraits, realistic and impressionistic styles. Big exhibitions like “The All-Stars,” “Oil Painters of America” and the “Plein Air Paint Out” all draw national artists who often show up to experience the exhibition parties. The most recent show, “Icons of the West,” showed off the red-carpet best-of-the-best and proved that art of the region is seriously

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Photo by Chad Harder

enchanting. In 1921, William “Billy” Simons, an entrepreneur who produced Wild West shows and built theaters across the Northwest, built the Wilma. He named the community gathering place after his wife, Edna Wilma, who was an opera singer on the West Coast vaudeville circuit. Today, locals can enjoy a microbrew (yes, the Wilma serves beer, another reason the theater is our favorite) while taking in quirky independent films and documentaries that you won’t see in any other local theater. The Wilma: 131 South Higgins Ave., 728-2521,

Finalists, Best Movie Theater 2. Carmike 10: 3640 Mullan Rd. 541-7467 3. Village 6: 3804 S. Reserve 251-4140

Artist: Monte Dolack Indy readers vote Missoula artist Monte Dolack their favorite every year. His work is so popular perhaps because it reflects the love locals share for Montana’s wide valleys, jagged peaks and abundant wildlife. Almost everything the Great Falls native and veteran artist does deals with nature or the environment. Dolack’s muses helped him achieve interna-

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“Every Time - For Life”

“If you're not shopping University Motors, you RISK paying too much.” UNIVERSITY MOTORS - SOUTH RESERVE & BROOKS, MISSOULA 3600 S. Reserve Street (406) 721-4900

UNIVERSITYMOTORS.COM Missoula Independent Page 6 Best of Missoula 2012

Best Journalist: Matthew Frank

tional renown in 2011 when the United Nations selected his work to display in a special exhibit highlighting the importance of sustaining and growing timberlands across the globe. Dolack helps us to better understand the natural world and our place and time in it. Monte Dolack Gallery: 139 W. Front St., 549-3248,

Finalists, Best Artist 2. Courtney Blazon: 3. Kendahl Jann Jubb:

New Band: Sick Kids XOXO Sick Kids XOXO seem to have their finger on the pulse of New Wave, full-bodied, pop-perfect goodness. It’s why several months ago they played the Wilma Theatre as the headliners rather than as an opening act. Guitarist/singer Michael Gill, who spends his Thursday nights spinning dance music for Dead Hipster Dance Party, knows how to play what the kids (that’s us!) love. Watching them perform is sincerely fun, not least because of singer/keyboardist Karma Baker’s infectious perma-smile. Nothing pretentious about this bunch, though they play their instruments with precision. Nothing vapid in the way pop music can be, though it ends up being fun, fun, fun. That’s something we can all get behind. Sick Kids XOXO:

Finalists, Best New Band 2. DAWNS: 3. I Hate Your Girlfriend:

Photo by Chad Harder

PEOPLE & MEDIA Journalist: Matthew Frank This is an easy one for us to write, working as we do every day with Matt and getting a front-row seat as he mines for one weird and wonderful story after another, not to mention seeing him in gumshoe mode as he aces investigative pieces and brings awards and renown. A soft-spoken man who originally hailed from western New York and has a fondness for his dog Griffin, Sa Wad Dee’s lunch buffet and nailing knaves and fools, he’s almost always unflappable. He also sometimes sits

STAFF PICK BEST RIDE The mechanical bull was never the same after Sissy (Debra Winger) climbed atop one in Urban Cowboy and rode it like…well, let’s just say she rode it very well. Now you can relive that famous scene—either as Sissy or her fuming boyfriend, Bud (John Travolta)—on Missoula’s newest bar attraction, Ruckus. The mechanical bull appears every Thursday at The Elbow Room, and many weekend nights at the Sunrise Saloon. In just a few short months, the bucking black-and-white dynamo has garnered quite a following: he has his own Facebook page and his owners at I Got Bulls say he’ll be making more appearances as word gets out. In fact, his next appearance is at the Best of Missoula party at Caras Park Thursday, July 12.

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Missoula Independent Page 8 Best of Missoula 2012

on a posture ball at work and bounces, which makes us all happy.

Finalists, Best Journalist 2. Rob Chaney 3. Erika Fredrickson

Radio Station, Radio Personality: The Trail 103.3, Tracy Lopez The Trail snagged this year’s crown for best radio station, and it’s no surprise considering you can hear it darn near everywhere. Dozens of local businesses play 103.3 FM all day, every day, for their employees and customers, and it’s not uncommon to pull up alongside another car on Reserve Street and hear them blasting The Trail just like you are. With eclectic, listener-friendly programming and great emcees like this year’s best radio personality Tracy Lopez, The Trail 103.3 keeps Missoula’s ears happy and heads bobbing. The Trail 103.3: 2425 W. Central Ave., Suite 203. 5434103,

Finalists, Best Radio Station 2. KBGA 89.9 3. KUFM 89.1 Finalists, Best Radio Personality 2. TIE: Aaron Traylor, Zoo 107.5 Robert Chase, Trail 103.3 3. Craig & Al, Kyss 94.9

Blog: Dig This Chick The titles alone offer a sense of comfort, like a hug from mom after scraping your knee: “Smooth walls, smooth sailing,” “I flew,” “Woodland fort,” “Get away, come home” and the most literal example, “Group hug.” Nici Holt Cline has developed a loyal readership by sharing the simple beauties of raising a family—and, occasionally, the messy stuff that makes parents want to pull their hair out or drink an entire bottle of Jack Daniel’s. Her writing is honest and touching, her tone earnest and soothing. It’s encouraging to see such a warm-hearted blog win when the blogosphere is filled with so much mean-spirited junk.


Finalists, Best Blog 2. Indy 3. Weird Missoula

UM Professor: Garry Kerr Great teachers stick with their students for a lifetime. Not that we mind, but it seems like University of Montana anthropology professor Garry Kerr has had a similar effect on this category. The charismatic lecturer is known for his personal stories, ability to relate to students and fair grading. Those are just some of the reasons he remains at the head of this class.

Dr. Sandy Sheppard and Staff thank you for voting us Best Optometrist, AGAIN. 700 South Ave. W. 549-4851

Best Blog: Dig This Chick

Photo by Chad Harder

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Best Athlete: Will Cherry, right

Finalists, Best Professor 2. Garon Smith 3. TIE: Martin Burke and Robert Stubblefield

Athlete: Will Cherry A few years ago, Griz basketball was dominated by Anthony Johnson, a record-breaking point guard with a deadly outside shot, precocious poise and natural leadership abilities. But while Johnson garnered headlines his senior season, he often spoke of a cat-quick freshman that you could tell was being groomed as The Next Big Thing. It’s saying something when you consider Will Cherry may be better than Johnson. With the same poise and leadership skills, and a tenacity on defense to match his improving jumper, Cherry heads into his senior year ready to lead the Griz back to the NCAA tournament and cement his name in the university’s record books.

Finalists, Best Athlete 2. Trumaine Johnson 3. Linsey Corbin

Meteorologist: Mark Heyka, KECI As a child growing up on a Kansas farm, Mark Heyka watched television weather reports and then drew his own interpretations of them on chalkboards. It’s obvious that he’s honed his skill over

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Photo courtesy of Todd Goodrich/UM Athletics

years of practice now that Heyka delivers the weather on KECI nightly. He’s careful with us when breaking the news that yet another day of rain is on the way. His gentle demeanor is reassuring, and Heyka is always quick to remind us that the sun will come out again. It’s almost as if he’s saying, “Chin up, Missoula, it’s all going to be okay.” Heyka is Missoula’s Best Meteorologist not only because of his expertise, but also because he seems to really understand how we feel.

Finalists, Best Meteorologist 2. Erin Yost, KPAX 3. Russ Thomas, KPAX

Politician: John Engen John Engen may be Missoula’s favorite politician. But in some ways he’s no different from any other leader in that he takes heat periodically for real and perceived gaffes. That was the case in May when the Missoulian reported that Engen asked a Missoula Police officer to apologize to the University of Montana for opining in a letter to the institution that UM had botched its response to a spate of sexual assault allegations. Rather than clamming up, getting defensive or, as is too often the case in politics, obfuscating, Engen apologized. We love that our mayor is willing to publicly admit he’s wrong. We also admire his ability to balance dicey issues like budget constraints and growth all while remaining approachable.

Missoula Downtown Association, he’s even more of an events guru.

Finalists, Best Politician 2. Jon Tester 3. Ellie Hill

TV Newscast, TV Personality: KPAX and Jill Valley

Finalists, Best Website 2. 3.

It’s easy to see why Indy readers select Jill Valley their favorite TV Personality every year. Valley is clear and concise, yet she remains personable. She’s like an extremely knowledgeable friend who comes over in the evenings to visit. Valley and the KPAX team hustle to keep viewers updated with the most recent developments in University of Montana sexual assault allegations, who’s making what election-year promises and the ins and outs of Garden City community goings-on. We know that providing accurate and timely information isn’t easy. The fact that Valley continues to garner your votes after year after year speaks volumes about Valley and the KPAX news team’s commitment to keeping you informed.

FOOD & DRINK Bakery: Bernice’s We felt a tad guilty upon learning that it takes Bernice’s bakers something like 30 hours to make croissants, because we put those ridiculously deli-

cious things down in less than 30 seconds, so fast that, even though they’re big and filling, we find ourselves still hungry and ogling the cupcakes and scones and danishes and whatever other edible art just came out of the oven. In Bernice’s, Missoula has a bakery where we don’t mind at all when our coffee date’s late. Bernice’s: 190 South 3rd St. W., 728-1358,

Finalist, Best TV Newscast 2. KECI Finalists, Best TV Personality 2. Mark Heyka, KECI 3. Heidi Meili, KECI

Website: Missoula Events Missoula Events was founded by local know-italls Colin Hickey and Molly Bradford. They know what’s happening around town and when, and they share it online in a very simple-yet-brilliant color-coded list of events where you can sort by venue or by music, art, sports, food, education and more. Now that Hickey, who’s already plugged into the Missoula music scene, works for the

Best Convenience Store: Grizzly Grocery

Photo by Chad Harder

Congratulations to: Mindy Opper, PA-C, Prana Family Practice (2nd Place Alternative Health Care Provider)

and Geoff Ramsay, DC, Ramsay Back and Body Health (3rd Place Chiropractor)

Thank you for your votes!

825 West Kent Avenue • Missoula, MT Missoula Independent Page 11 Best of Missoula 2012

Missoula Independent Page 12 Best of Missoula 2012

Best Milkshake: Uptown Diner

Photo by Chad Harder



Monday thru Thursday


GREEN FEE Finalists, Best Bakery 2. Le Petit Outre: 129 S. 4th St. W. 543-3311 3. Black Cat: 2000 W. Broadway 542-9043

Finalists, Best Pizza 2. The Bridge: 600 S. Higgins 542-0002 3. MacKenzie River Pizza Company: Multiple Locations 721-0077

Pizza: Biga Pizza Chef: Bob Marshall, Biga Pizza Server: Mo Fitzpatrick, Biga Pizza

Finalists, Best Chef 2. Abe Risho: Silk Road 3. Beth Higgins: Two Sisters

Bob Marshall and Biga Pizza have won Best Chef and Best Pizza for six straight years. And now his Flathead Cherry pizza has claimed our new Best Dish category as well. Somebody stop this man! But seriously, all the accolades are completely deserved. Bob is so much more than just a chef: He’s an active, visible part of not just Biga Pizza, but the Missoula community. You’ve probably seen him down at the farmers market finding ingredients for his specials, or maybe you’ve seen him and his band Bacon & Egg performing downtown. Regardless, know that Bob—and Missoula’s best server, Mo Fitzpatrick—care deeply about every pie, and every heaping antipasto plate they serve up. Biga Pizza: 241 W. Main St., 728-2579,

Expires 12.31.12 Must Present Coupon Not valid for Golf League

Expires 12.31.12 Must Present Coupon Not valid for Golf League

Finalists, Best Server 2. Cheryl Nickey: Jakers 3. Zach Radford: Red Bird

Sandwich Shop: Doc’s Sandwich Shop According to Becky Mercuri, author of the 2004 book American Sandwich, the average American eats 193 sandwiches per year. That might sound like a lot, but if there was a Doc’s in every town, that figure would probably be much, much higher. It’s Doc’s sandwiches like the Doc Holiday—a “Thanksgiving Leftovers” specialty that’s piled high with turkey,

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stuffing and cranberry sauce—and the Doctor Doolittle—a chicken salad sandwich with apple and celery—that keep us coming back to the downtown staple again and again. Doc’s Sandwich Shop: 214 N. Higgins, 542-7414,

Finalists, Best Sandwich Shop 2. Tagliare Delicatessen: 1433 S. Higgins 830-3049 3. Worden’s Market & Deli: 451 N. Higgins 549-1293

Convenience Store: Grizzly Grocery This little mom-and-pop has sat quietly on the corner of Beckwith and Hill streets for years intuiting exactly what Missoulians need. Grizzly Grocery doesn’t need flashy signs and corn-dog deals to make it a staple. Its extensive selection of beer, wine, food and general goods let you bag fresh veggies or grab a six-pack and get back to campus in five minutes. Grizzly Grocery: 447 Hill St., 721-2679.

Finalists, Best Convenience Store 2. Holiday on Higgins: 605 S. Higgins 721-6911 3. Ole’s on Orange: 923 N. Orange St. 721-2170

Steak: Lolo Creek Steak House Lolo Creek Steak House speaks to the predator inside all of us. There’s something primitive and pleasing about devouring one of their huge, fresh steaks surrounded by mounts of gigantic animals. But that’s not to suggest that Lolo Creek doesn’t serve your steak with class. Top-notch lobster tail or crab legs are served under chandelier lighting (granted the chandeliers are decorated with antlers), with martinis or single-malts served from a well-stocked bar. Lolo Creek Steak House: 6600 Highway 12 W., Lolo, 273-2622,

Outdoor Dining: Finn & Porter Finn & Porter sets the perfect atmosphere for your summer dining experience. What makes it so awesome? The atmosphere is the great outdoors. You can enjoy a fine meal and drinks on their back patio right on the banks of the Clark Fork. The view of osprey, sunsets, fly fishermen and a tall drink right in front of you reminds every Missoulian why summer in our state stands second to none. Finn & Porter: 100 Madison St., 728-3100,

Finalists, Best Outdoor Dining 2. Iron Horse Brew Pub: 501 N. Higgins 728-8866 3. Old Post: 103 W. Spruce St. 721-7399

STAFF PICK BEST NERDS Belegarth is a nationwide medieval combat society that has become well-known to Missoulians for its club meetings Sundays in Bonner Park. The group, which has over 50 members, dons medieval garb and practices fighting with large foam swords and shields. “It’s more of a martial art and less of the scene from Role Models,” says Shane ‘Valas’ Heivley, a member of Belegarth since 2003. Heivley enjoys the exercise medieval combat offers as well as the community, which allows you to pick up an alias on the battlefield. “Don’t get me wrong, we’re kind of geeks,” he says, “but not a bunch of dorks throwing fireballs at each other.”

Budget Lunch, Place to Eat Alone: Taco del Sol Finalists, Best Steak 2. The Depot: 201 Railroad St. W. 728-7007 3. Jakers: 3515 Brooks St. 721-1312

Mexican Food: El Cazador There’s a common understanding that the perfect end to a night of boozing hinges on Mexican food. But is the Taco Bell run really worth it? Instead, hit the El Caz truck parked conveniently in the heart of downtown and treat your body and soul to a hot plate of freshly made quesadillas or enchiladas. If you’re craving a double-dose of Missoula’s favorite Mexican restaurant, their downtown dining location is as bright, bold and authentic as their cuisine. El Cazador: 101 S Higgins, 728-3657,

Finalists, Best Mexican Food 2. Fiesta En Jalisco: Multiple Locations 728-1323 3. Taco del Sol: Multiple Locations 327-8929

Recently, an Indy staffer brought a Taco del Sol burrito home, covered it in grated cheese, baked it in the oven and smothered it with green salsa. It was great, of course, but it didn’t knock his socks off. The maxim rang true: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Taco del Sol ain’t broke, that’s for sure. It’s a Missoula institution, serving up simple, delicious and filling tacos and burritos that you’d be hardpressed to improve upon. And the price is right, which is good, because while del Sol isn’t broke, you probably are. Taco del Sol: Multiple locations, 327-8929,

Finalists, Best Budget Lunch 2. Taco Sano: 115 1/2 S. 4th St. W. 541-7570 3. Jimmy Johns: 420 N. Higgins 542-1100 Finalists, Best Place to Eat Alone 2. The Bridge: 600 S. Higgins 542-0002 3. Good Food Store: 1600 S. 3rd St. W. 541-3663

WE'RE BOWLED OVER, MISSOULA! Thank You For Voting Us Winner: Best Bowling Alley Finalist: Best Karaoke Bar

Bowl Dog Lounge in Westside Lanes!


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Best Delicatessen: Tagliare

Milkshake: Uptown Diner Indy readers have said the Uptown Diner has the best milkshakes since Marc Racicot was governor and we were slow-dancing to Shania Twain’s “You’re Still The One” at the prom. That was ’98. And Uptown, you’re still the one we run to, still the one we belong to, still the one we love. We dream of bellying up at the diner counter and ordering a shake with Oreos and fudge and spooning it until it melts enough to be sucked through a straw. Uptown Diner: 120 N. Higgins, 542-2449.

Finalists, Best Milkshake 2. Big Dipper: 631 S. Higgins 543-5722 3. Dairy Queen: Multiple Locations 549-6075

Ice Cream: Big Dipper We think of the Big Dipper as Missoula’s equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (from the original 1971 movie, not the abomination that was the 2005 remake starring Johnny Depp), because the shop always pushes the envelope with its creative and quirky flavors, like the Honey Lavender ice cream it recently made for LocalFest. It’s been known to incorporate local beer, eggnog, even bacon in its creations. No matter the ingredients, it’s good. Which is why the line outside the Big Dipper about stretches to Brooks Street on any given summer night. And why Food & Wine recently named it one of the best ice cream shops in the county. And why our readers could have told the magazine that years ago. Big Dipper: 631 S. Higgins, 543-5722,

Finalists, Best Ice Cream 2. Cold Stone Creamery: 3275 N. Reserve 549-5595

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Photo by Steele Williams

3. Dairy Queen: Multiple Locations 549-6075

Restaurant Service, Restaurant Wine List: The Red Bird You just got a big promotion and you want to celebrate with a fine bottle of wine. Where do you go? The Red Bird, because there are few other places in Montana where you can order a 2007 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape, from the Rhône Valley in France. Or perhaps the promotion didn’t come with a big raise and you want something cheaper. Not only does The Red Bird have the best wine list, but its servers know their stuff; you can count on them to select a Bordeaux to go with your braised lamb that won’t break the bank. The Red Bird: 111 N. Higgins, 549-2906,

Finalists, Best Restaurant Service 2. Pearl Café: 231 E. Front St. 541-0231 3. Silk Road: 515 S. Higgins 541-0752 Finalists, Best Wine List 2. Caffè Dolce: 500 Brooks St. 830-3055 3. Pearl Café: 231 E. Front St. 541-0231

Seafood: Sushi Hana Still have a friend who isn’t sold on sushi yet? Try this: Go to Sushi Hana and order the “Carburetor,” a roll as big as a po-po Maglite with soft shell crab, spinach and

STAFF PICK BEST NEIGHBORS We’re willing to bet there have been more than a few raised eyebrows on South Reserve Street this summer. Republican Steve Daines’s congressional campaign set up shop in a cute little storefront on the corner of Mullan Road. Staffers even put up a campaign sign advertising “more jobs, less government.” The choice of location is more than a little ironic, we’d say, considering the patronage next door. Daines’s new neighbor—Patty P’s Smoke Shop—is a local, independent business, the kind folks on both sides of the aisle say is the backbone of Montana’s economy. The rub? Patty P’s also happens to be a head shop, the kind of venue that sells items Republicans tend to keep their distance from. Now, we’re pretty positive Patty P’s didn’t show up on Daines’s doorstep with a plate of welcome brownies, but if ever there was an odd couple, this is it. green onion, rolled in tobiko and topped with spicy tuna. If she doesn’t like that, give up. Which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, because then you could finish the Carburetor yourself and wash it down with a Sapporo. It, and everything else on the menu, is proof to all you skeptical cowpokes that there’s excellent seafood to be had out here in Montana. Sushi Hana: 403 N. Higgins, 549-7979,

Finalists, Best Seafood 2. Finn & Porter: 100 Madison St. 728-3100 3. Jakers: 3515 Brooks St. 721-1312

Liquor Store: Grizzly Liquor Holy crap, you got into law school! Don’t go celebrating with PBR tallboys. This calls for a bottle of single malt Scotch whisky from Grizzly Liquor. Its selection is the best in town, with bottles aged up to 33 years. Don’t worry about the price; you’ll be an attorney someday. (And if you don’t pass the bar, Grizzly Liquor stocks something for you to mark that occasion, too.) Cheers! Grizzly Liquor: 110 West Spruce St., 549-7723,

Finalists, Best Liquor Store 2. Krisco Liquor: 1300 S. Reserve 549-7242 3. Diamond Jim’s: Multiple Locations 829-9898

Coffee: Break Espresso The coffee is good (the Americanos are better) but this here’s a coffee shop as versatile as it is delicious. Deep and wide, the Break’s brick and wood interior hints at a classic café where one launches revolutions. Or it’s a solo wi-fi destination. Or an in-house bakery. Even on a sunny afternoon, over half the shop’s dozens of tables are occupied with conversations or computer screens. Their famous froth chart puts an end to the “I didn’t order this” and shows you that yes, that foam is what you ordered, now drink your cappuccino. Break Espresso: 432 N. Higgins, 549-5556.

Finalists, Best Coffee 2. Loose Caboose: Multiple Locations 728-0833

3. Liquid Planet: Multiple Locations 541-4541

Romantic Dining, Restaurant: Pearl Café If you like luxury, then The Pearl is probably your first choice when it comes to finding a place for a special date. To really wring the romance, request a table upstairs where the dim lights hide your partner’s giant smile when you order his or her favorite wine, graciously paired with a mouthwatering menu of seafood, steak and French specialties. The Pearl is like growing up French in Montana: there’s Elk Osso Bucco Bourguignonne, Bison Filet Medallions and even rabbit served with a red wine mushroom sauce. If the atmosphere doesn’t convince you, the food and the entire dining experience will: it’s the best. Pearl Café: 231 E. Front St., 541-0231,

Finalists, Best Romantic Dining 2. Red Bird: 111 N. Higgins 549-2906 3. The Keep: 102 Ben Hogan Drive 728-5132 Finalists, Best Restaurant 2. Silk Road 515 S. Higgins 541-0752 3. Red Bird 111 N. Higgins 549-2906

Salad, Supermarket, Fresh Produce, Vegetarian Food: Good Food Store A plate full of organic salad, side of soup, maybe a roll on the side, grab a different plate for some antipasto, and bam!—GFS offers what’s easily the best lunch in town if you’re a choose-your-adventure type. But wait, there’s more: Go for the veggie and goat cheese wrap or the house-made hummus, or munch some baked tofu for vegetarian delight. The deli combinations are unlimited and constantly changing, but they’re nothing without the variety of fresh, mostly organic produce that fills the place with a garden aroma. Finally, what would Missoula’s Best Supermarket be without the rows and rows of bulk foods, the self-serve peanut butter grinder and the impeccable selection of local meats? Good Food Store: 1600 S. Third St. W., 541-3663,

Finalists, Best Salad 2. Iron Horse Brew Pub: 501 N. Higgins 728-8866 3. Biga Pizza: 241 W. Main St. 728-2579 Finalists, Best Supermarket 2. Orange Street Food Farm: 701 S. Orange St. 543-3188 3. Rosauers: 2350 S. Reserve 721-5430

Missoula Independent Page 17 Best of Missoula 2012

Finalists, Best Fresh Produce 2. Farmers’ Markets: Downtown/Seasonal 3. Orange Street Food Farm: 701 S. Orange St. 543-3188 Finalists, Best Vegetarian Food 2. Sa Wad Dee: 221 W. Broadway 543-9966 3. Iza: 529 S. Higgins 830-3237

Barista: Florence Coffee’s Lexi Klenow As a relative newcomer to the barista scene, an ever-growing class of people in our caffeine-riddled town, Lexi Klenow’s rise to fame comes just a year

STAFF PICK BEST POLITICAL ADS What’s the deal with politicians and meat? This spring, Sen. Jon Tester released a re-election ad touting his habit of packing Montana beef in his carry-on when he flies to D.C. The ad was highly entertaining, complete with a shot of Tester’s steak-filled bag being X-rayed by airport security. But Republican challenger and outgoing congressman Denny Rehberg jumped on the meat wagon fast. In a follow-up ad, Rehberg’s campaign boasted that Tester’s dietary eccentricities don’t stop there. Tester may eat hometown steaks while he’s away, but according to Rehberg, he brings plenty of D.C. baloney home with him to dine on here. This little campaign exchange raised two important questions for us. One, how is it that you can take raw meat on a plane, but security makes you throw out a tube of freaking toothpaste? And two, who the hell eats baloney?

Thank you, missoula, for voting us best eyewear!

UPTOWN OPTICAL 111 N. Higgins, Downtown • 327.9988

Best Steak: Lolo Creek Steak House

and a half after starting at the Florence Coffee on Brooks Street. Her ever-present smile beams through the drive-thru for hours straight, and the fast-paced environment just fuels her more. “I want to thank my customers, the reason I get up every day; my goal is to make your day as bright as you make mine,” Klenow says. Florence Coffee: Multiple Locations, 546-3538,

Finalists, Best Barista 2. Lisena Brown: Le Petit Outre 3. Kyla Keller: Loose Caboose

Pizza Delivery: The Bridge You’re sitting at an empty dive bar with a few friends on a Thursday evening. The consensus is everyone’s starving. Where do you turn? For lots of us, The Bridge has become an automatic answer. A stone-oven fresh Higgins Ave., piled high with crushed walnuts, gorgonzola and roasted chicken. A side of pesto sticks with marinara. A chop chop salad with pepperoni and pizza cheese. Suddenly that empty bar becomes a gourmet restaurant, friends digging into their wallets to tip big. The only downside we can think of with The Bridge is that their food often makes manners evaporate; everyone will be scrambling, clawing, fighting for that last slice. The Bridge: 600 S. Higgins, 542-0002,

Finalists, Best Pizza Delivery 2. Pizza Hut:

Missoula Independent Page 18 Best of Missoula 2012

Photo by Steele Williams

Multiple Locations 721-0149 3. Zimorino’s: 1250 W. Broadway 541-7437

Delicatessen: Tagliare Tagliare is Missoula’s best deli for savory meats and sharp cheeses. If you’re just stopping in for some parmacotto, capretto or caciocavera to assemble your own antipasto, the deli’s selection is unbeatable. If you’re drawn to Tagliare for one of their mouthwatering sandwiches with rock and roll names like the Megadeath, the piles of prosciutto will have you fully satisfied. Add a strawberry basil cannoli or a fig stuffed with brandy fudge and dipped in chocolate and you’ll know why Missoula thinks Tagliare is a cut above the rest. Tagliare: 1433 S. Higgins, 830-3049.

Finalists, Best Delicatessen 2. Worden’s Market & Deli: 451 N. Higgins 549-1293 3. Good Food Store: 1600 S. 3rd St. W. 541-3663

Caterer: Two Sisters Count one more win for Missoula’s premier catering outfit, Two Sisters. This is the fifth year in a row they’ve claimed the Best Caterer prize, and

Missoula Independent Page 19 Best of Missoula 2012

Offering quality care for your pets, at reasonable prices, at times convenient for you Featuring

‡Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry for Small Animals and Exotics

‡Animal Convenience Care with Extended Evening & Weekend Hours ‡Boarding, including Special Needs Boarding ‡Rehabilitation Services

Winner Best Veterinary Clinic Finalist Best Petcare/Grooming

24 Hour Emergency Service 406-829-8150 • 2501 S. Russell Street

Missoula Independent Page 20 Best of Missoula 2012

we know exactly why. Their salads, entrees and desserts—crafted with fresh, local ingredients—will be the talking point of any soiree. Kansas City pork ribs? Shrimp Creole? Our mouths are watering just scanning the menu. Two Sisters Catering: 111 N. Higgins, 549-3005,

Finalists, Best Caterer 2. Silk Road: 515 S. Higgins 541-0752 3. Bravo: 224 N. Higgins 541-4900

Asian Food, Dessert: Mustard Seed In the annals of history, there’s Truman defeating Dewey in the 1948 election, the U.S. Olympic hockey team winning “the miracle on ice” over Russia in 1980 and now, Mustard Seed ousting longtime Best Asian

of Missoula’s best new restaurant. It starts with the Amoroso rolls shipped in straight from Philly; they’re as distinctive as Manhattan bagels, except New York sucks, especially the Giants and…Fly Eagles, fly! On the road to vic-tor-y! Oh, wait, where were we? The rolls. They’re the real deal. Then there’s the Tastykakes on the counter. You can’t get these delicious little dessert treats outside Philly— sort of like Andy Reid, but don’t even get us started on that guy. And then there’s the perfectly chopped rib-eye slathered with Whiz inside the Amoroso roll, and a side of gravy fries, and maybe a slice of thincrust just like what you’d find on South Street. It’s enough to make you ache for back home—except the Andy Reid part. Philly West: 134 W. Broadway, 493-6204,

Finalists, Best New Restaurant 2. Burns Street Bistro: 1500 Burns St. 218-9601

Best Retail Beer & Wine Selection: Worden’s

Food winner Sa Wad Dee. A jolt of this magnitude usually comes from chugging a bottle of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, but perhaps it’s simply a result of Mustard Seed’s mouth-watering menu. We’re looking at you, Chinese chopped chicken in crisp lettuce wraps and Asian glazed pork ribs. Now, as for the Best Dessert title? No upset there. Mustard Seed takes it again thanks to its dessert specialists Matt Ball and Jill Geisler. Mustard Seed: Southgate Mall, 721-7444,

Finalists, Best Asian Food 2. Sa Wad Dee: 221 W. Broadway 543-9966 3. Iza: 529 S. Higgins 830-3237 Finalists, Best Dessert 2. Bernice’s Bakery: 190 S. 3rd St. W. 728-1358 3. Pearl Café: 231 E. Front St. 541-0231

Photo by Chad Harder

3. TIE Café Zydeco: 2101 Brooks St. 926-2578 Buffalo Wild Wings: 2615 Radio Way 829-9464

Dish: Flathead Cherry Pizza at Biga Pizza Holy options, Indy readers, you just about broke our balloting system with this new category. With so many great local restaurants, so many different tastes, and, alas, so many creative spellers out there, we nearly gave up counting and buried our frustrations in a sinful meal. Good thing we stuck with it and found that you deem Biga’s locally sourced, sufficiently sinful Flathead Cherry Pizza as the crown jewel of Missoula’s culinary scene. This seasonal special is only available during the winter, arriving around October and then disappearing as spring brings fresh, new toppings. Biga Pizza: 241 W. Main St., 728-2579,

Finalists, Best Dish 2. Pad Thai, Sa Wad Dee 3. TIE: Bulgolgi Beef, Iza and Indonesian Rendang Buffalo, Iza

New Restaurant: Philly West You have to know a little something about the City of Brotherly Love to appreciate the authenticity

Missoula Independent Page 21 Best of Missoula 2012

Best Outdoor Dining, Best Martini: Finn & Porter

Coffee Hut: Loose Caboose We’re not one for much crack-of-dawn chatter before our first cup of java love. That’s no problem at Loose Caboose, where baristas are sure to write your name and your drink of choice on the back of your loyalty punch card. Just hand it over and they’ll take care of the rest, providing you with a perfectly foamed latte or an Americano with an extra shot and room or whatever else ignites your early morning engine. Those baristas also provide the warm smile and cheerful tone to get you to muster up a heartfelt “thanks” and drop a deserving tip in the jar. If you’ve ever seen us in the morning, that makes them damn near miracle workers. Loose Caboose: Multiple Locations, 728-0833,

Finalists, Best Coffee Hut 2. Florence Coffee: Multiple Locations 546-3538 3. Lighthouse Espresso: 1900 W. Broadway 541-8282

Breakfast: The Shack We’re always so excited to have breakfast at the Shack. It’s hard to be unhappy sipping a mimosa and eating a massive chorizo-and-egg breakfast burrito delivered to the table by a wait staff that remembers our name and keeps our glass of water full. Their banana bread french toast is out of this world and the juevos rancheros just as tasty. What’s more, you’ll run into friends, neighbors and coworkers, locals who know where to go for Missoula’s best breakfast. The Shack: 222 W. Main St., 549-9903,

Finalists, Best Breakfast 2. Paul’s Pancake Parlor: 2305 Brooks St. 728-9071 3. Hob Nob: 531 S. Higgins 541-4622

Burger: The Missoula Club Mo Club burgers are made from Butte-raised cows and are perfect for soaking up an afternoon of drinking and rooting for the Griz. The historic downtown tavern opened in 1890 and since then has assembled a University of Montana sports memorabilia collection that includes wall upon wall of Griz team photos and coach portraits and signed footballs and helmets. Despite the good booze and incredible

Missoula Independent Page 22 Best of Missoula 2012

Photo by Steele Williams

ambiance, we think the burgers are responsible for luring multiple generations of UM athletes and their fans, along with the likes of former President Bill Clinton and the Travelocity Gnome. The Missoula Club: 139 W. Main St., 728-3740.

Finalists, Best Burger 2. Five Guys Burgers & Fries: 820 E. Broadway 830-3262 3. Red Robin: Southgate Mall 830-3170

Fries: Five Guys Burgers & Fries Five Guys has made an incredible ascent from one Alexandria, Va. burger joint in 1986 to a sprawling chain of more than 1,000 restaurants across the country today. The most obvious reason for the success is their crispy and delicious French fries. Even a small serving of Five Guys fries is massive. And you don’t have to feel too guilty about eating them all because they’re cooked in cholesterol-free peanut oil. What’s more, we really like that Five Guys staffers always seem to be rocking out to music blaring on the radio—sometimes they even sing along. Five Guys: 820 E. Broadway, 8303262,

Finalists, Best Fries 2. Iron Horse Brew Pub: 501 N. Higgins 728-8866 3. James Bar: 127 W. Alder St. 721-8158

STAFF PICK BEST PICK-UP GAME If you’re ever bored on a Sunday night and want a bit of action and adventure, try out Missoula’s newest fledgling sport: bike polo. Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, it’s pretty much just what you’re imagining right now. All you need is a bike that you wouldn’t mind scuffing up a little bit, a helmet, some gloves and a try-anything attitude. Mallets (ski poles and PVC pipe) and street hockey balls are provided, but they can always use more. The group meets every Sunday around sundown at the UC parking garage.

Celebrating our 19-year anniversary!

Loan & Liquidation Company


Best of Missoula


Thank You, Missoula, for making us #1 16 years running

434 N. Higgins Ave. Missoula • 542-6606 Missoula Independent Page 23 Best of Missoula 2012

Retail Beer Selection, Retail Wine Selection: Worden’s Beaujolais? Merlot? Pinot noir? What’s the difference? Worden’s Market & Deli staffers can educate you on the ins and outs of reds, whites and zinfandels so you don’t look like a tool when you show up for a steak dinner with a bottle of Thunderbird. The store stocks a diverse selection of wine and also beer from all over the globe. Staffers are just as well versed on which ale is hoppiest and can fill you in on the specifics of area breweries. Worden’s is locally owned and sells beer not only in tall boys and six packs, but also in 5-, 8- and 16-gallon kegs, meaning you can satisfy your thirstiest friends. Worden’s: 451 N. Higgins, 549-1293,

Finalists, Best Retail Beer Selection 2. Orange Street Food Farm: 701 S. Orange St. 543-3188 3. Pattee Creek Market: 704 SW. Higgins 543-8143 Finalists, Best Retail Wine Selection 2. CVS: 1914 Brooks St. 728-1380 3. Good Food Store: 1600 S. 3rd St. W. 541-3663

Family-Friendly Restaurant: The Montana Club There’s a common misperception about what makes a good “family-friendly” dining experience. It has almost nothing to do with the kids, but rather the comfort of the parents. On any given night when Mom and Dad need a night free from the kitchen, The Montana Club offers a laidback dining experience, extensive menu, fair prices and generous service. Trust us, there’s nothing better than kicking back with a signature Grizarita while waiting for your juicy steak to arrive, watching the kids contentedly coloring their kids menu, knowing that for at least one night you can relax and someone else will do the dishes. The Montana Club: 2620 Brooks St., 543-3200; 4561 N. Reserve, 5418141,

Finalists, Best Family Friendly Restaurant 2. Red Robin: Southgate Mall 830-3170 3. Iron Horse Brew Pub: 501 N. Higgins 728-8866

there at a table breaking the news to a collection of loyal fans. The Press Box brings Griz faithful, quite literally, as close to the game as any place in town. The Press Box: 835 East Broadway, 721-1212,

Finalists, Best Sports Bar 2. Tamarack 231 W. Front St. 830-3113 3. Elbow Room 1855 Stephens Ave. 728-9963

Bar for a Stiff Pour: Al’s and Vic’s Al’s & Vic’s carries on the tradition of the stiff pour. You might go out to dinner at some fancy restaurant for a dribble of wine when your parents come to town, but when you’ve had the kind of day at work where the boss yelled at you and the 50-page document you wrote disappeared off your computer, and then your back went out, you go to Al’s and Vic’s. You sidle up to the bar, take a seat and order a vodka tonic, knowing that by the time that Waylon Jennings song on the jukebox is done, you’ll be feeling a whole lot better. Al’s and Vic’s: 119 W. Alder St., 728-4804.

Finalists, Best Bar for a Stiff Pour 2. Charlie B’s 428 N. Higgins 549-3589 3. The Rhino 158 Ryman St. 721-6061

Martini: Finn & Porter Whether you’re sunning on the Finn & Porter deck or lounging with a flock of impressively dressed friends inside, the martini hits the spot. Names like the Montuckey-tini and the Good Karmatini provide a reminder that you’re not some uptight Manhattanite climbing the corporate ladder. You’re a Montana bad-ass who knows how to style it up. A sweet-tooth calls for a Bomb Pop martini, featuring Stoli Blueberi. The pomegranate martini is refreshing enough to make you want to go for a jog. Maybe. Probably you’ll just order another pomegranate martini. Finn & Porter: 100 Madison St., 728-3100,

Finalists, Best Martini 2. James Bar 127 W. Alder St. 721-8158 3. The Badlander 135 W. Broadway 549-0235

Bar DJ: Aaron Traylor

NIGHTLIFE Sports Bar: The Press Box The East Broadway sports bar located just a hopskip from campus has long been considered by Indy readers as the place in town to watch the big game, discuss the blown call, debate the latest trade or otherwise banter about sports’ most noteworthy news. Earlier this year it lived up to its billing when a tipster sitting in The Press Box called our newsroom early one morning to say Griz football coach Robin Pflugrad and Athletic Director Jim O’Day had just been fired. A skeptical reporter asked how he could ever know such a thing. Well, he explained, Pflugrad was sitting right

Missoula Independent Page 24 Best of Missoula 2012

Aaron Traylor is 6’10”, which means his moniker, The Tallest DJ in America, probably comes close to the truth. Traylor has been DJing since he was a young teenager, back when hip-hop was just Will Smith singing about how “parents just don’t understand.” He spun vinyl at Spokane clubs and was in on the ground floor of the underground rave scene. In 2002, he won a world mixing record when he didn’t sleep for 63 hours. That’s a lot of experience. He’s also just a nice guy; even while being a magnetic, smooth-talking radio persona, he always comes off sincere.

Finalists, Best Bar DJ 2. Dead Hipster 3. Kris Moon

Bartender: Greta Garr, Top Hat At the Top Hat, college students, families, old hippies, young hipsters and everyone in between comes in droves to see live bands. Bartender Greta Garr of the Garr dynasty that has owned the Top Hat for the last 24 years, seems to treat the bar like the family castle. Nicole Garr, her older sister who came back to run it in 2009 when their father passed away, says that Greta has a divine awareness of what’s happening in the bar at all times. She’s like a bar ninja, handling the biggest jerks with a smile and firmness that comes from deep confidence. “She’s my right-hand lady,” says Nicole. “If I had to rename her, I’d like to name her Grace.” The Top Hat: 134 W. Front St., 728-9865,

Finalists, Best Bartender 2. Claude Alick The Golden Rose 3. Winter Sanor Al’s & Vic’s

Bloody Mary: The Last Run Inn After a long day of laps at Snowbowl, it’s really important that you hydrate—with a Bloody Mary or two. Doctor’s orders. It’ll go a long way to soothe those cramping quads. The Last Run Inn, the bar at the base of Snowbowl, has made the best Bloody Mary around since before snowboards, or so it seems. We don’t know the secret and we don’t care, as long as one awaits us after last chair. The Last Run Inn: 1700 Snow Bowl Rd., 549-9777.

Finalists, Best Bloody Mary 2. The Rhino 158 Ryman St. 721-6061 3. Old Post 103 W. Spruce St. 721-7399

Poker Game: Golden Rose Now, we can’t guarantee you’re going to win, but it is our duty to tell you you’ll have fun even if you lose. A crowded table or an empty one, you enter your own world when you sit down and the voices of a crowded Golden Rose disappear like chatter as a movie starts. The buy-in is low, $5-$20, and if you play right, the pay-out can be high. It’s not the World Series of Poker, though, so leave your sunglasses at home. The Golden Rose: 123 W. Broadway, 549-4949.

Finalists, Best Poker Game 2. Oxford 337 N. Higgins 549-0117 3. Stockman’s 125 W. Front St. 549-9668

Pool Table: The Palace Lounge To many, the heyday of the Palace Lounge was way back before the smoking ban when the place was a no-foolin’ hazy basement pool hall. While the times and the decor have changed, the Palace still remains the best spot in town for a bit of billiards. With plenty of space, a good crowd of regulars, cheap drinks, and live music, it’s no surprise the Palace is the best place in Missoula to get your shark on. The Palace Lounge: 147 W. Broadway, 542-5295.

Finalists, Best Pool Table 2. Al’s & Vic’s 119 W. Alder St. 728-4804 3. Charlie B’s 428 N. Higgins 549-3589

STAFF PICK BEST STRAIGHT SHOOTERS It’s hard to find good news coming out of the University of Montana athletic department these days, what with all the investigations and allegations and firings surrounding t h e m e g a - p o p u l a r f o o t b a l l p ro g ra m . Overshadowed by all that, however, is the making of a veritable dynasty. Under the direction of former UM great and all-around great-guy Wayne Tinkle, the men’s basketball team reached its second NCAA tournament in three years in March, and secured its third straight season with more than 20 wins. Just as noteworthy as the on-court results, Tinkle coaches a group free from off-court drama. And while last year’s squad was special—some longtime fans considered it one of the best ever—next year holds even more promise with the return of all-conference candidates Will Cherry and Kareem Jamar. This is a team the community should be proud to support.

Happy Hour: Jakers Bar & Grill When you’re feeling down and out after a long day of work, Jakers’ happy hour special will give you a new lease on life with two-for-one beer, house wine and liquor. Lemon Drops, Loaded Lemonades and Sand in Your Shorts are among the specialty drinks Jakers slings to the thirsty and the tired. But they don’t just stop at one happy hour. Their latenight happy hour doesn’t include drinks, but offers half-off pizza, wings and nachos. Jakers: 3515 Brooks St., 721-1312,

Finalists, Best Happy Hour 2. Finn & Porter 100 Madison St. 542-4660 3. Tamarack 231 W. Front St. 830-3113

Bar to Hook Up: Stockman’s Any night of the week, Stockman’s is spilling out the doors with a bumpin’ party. And if bumpin’ and grindin’ is what you’re looking for, there’s no better place than Stocks. Their dance floor is dark and electric, crowded with young people getting close and personal. The bartenders sling shots of Fireball faster than you can ask for them—but not as fast as the person next to you can shoot you a pickup line. Stockman’s: 125 West Front St., 549-9668

Finalists, Best Bar to Hook Up 2. The Badlander/Palace Complex Ryman and Broadway 549-0235 3. Bodega 221 Ryman St. 549-0435

Grizzly Property Management, Inc. 715 Kensington Suite 25B 542-2060

Thanks, Missoula! Since 1995, where tenants and landlords call home.

Let us tend your den Missoula Independent Page 25 Best of Missoula 2012

Place to Hear Live Music: Top Hat The Top Hat is a reliable place to check out a show on the weekend, but it’s also reliably diverse. Name a genre and the ol’ venue has probably hosted it, from the womp-womp of Bassnectar to the indie Americana of Deer Tick. It seems to be the CDrelease party zone of choice, too, having served up local releases on a steady basis for years. Sitting near the dance floor, standing near the stage or leaning on the bar, there’s room for you, your drink and all your buddies, too. Just don’t yell “Freebird!” The Top Hat: 134 W. Front St., 728-9865,

Finalists, Best Place to Hear Live Music 2. Union Club 208 E. Main St. 728-7980 3. The Badlander/Palace Complex Ryman and Broadway 549-0235

Margarita: James Bar Oh, it’s bliss all right. Imagine the first sunny afternoon in what could be a month and the James

Best Karaoke Bar: VFW

Bar’s alley patio is surprisingly quiet, besides the Chili Peppers on the speakers behind you. Wellblended flavors cool your tongue after too many spicy garlic fries until you’ve washed it all down easily. It’s the right color, didn’t visit a blender and there’s definitely tequila in there. There’s no storebought mix filling the space between the ice and the agave wonder juice, just the essentials. James Bar: 127 West Alder St., 721-8158.

Finalists, Best Margarita 2. El Cazador 101 S. Higgins 728-3657 3. Rowdy’s Cabin 4880 N. Reserve 543-8001

Casino: Flippers Unlucky at love, lucky at Keno, right? Probably at Flippers, renowned for its quiet corner machines, top-notch bartenders, local beers and a killer burger. They’ve spruced up the place with new wood siding to match the knotty-pine bar inside and the quaint bench outside. From the regulars to the sports fans (fair-weather regulars), there’s always someone to talk to. Or just keep plugging away at Keno; you're bound to hit after a few refills. And make sure you shake Donnie’s

Missoula Independent Page 26 Best of Missoula 2012

hand when you walk in and ask for the shake-aday and a pitcher of Roscoe’s, Kettlehouse’s Flippers-only brew. Flippers: 125 South Third St. W., 721-4895.

Finalists, Best Casino 2. Silver Slipper Lounge & Casino 4063 Highway 93 S. 251-5402 3. Savoy Casino & Liquor Store 123 W. Broadway 543-0646

Karaoke Bar: VFW The VFW’s been in the running for this one for years, but now the wait is over. The bar’s really stepped up its game over the past year or so, offering a long string of free shows in the back room. But karaoke’s still the norm, and it’s a safe bet the bar wouldn’t be as hopping as it is these days without Minneapolis-bred karaoke gurus Tom Helgerson and Colin Johnson. They and others have managed to take a slow-by-day Veterans of Foreign Wars post and turn it into one of the friendlier, livelier dive bars around. It might be the cheap beer and $1 well drinks from 10 p.m. to mid-

Photo by Steele Williams

night. Or it might be the awesome people that tend to gather there. But this Friday-Saturday karaoke night— along with the VFW itself—are a savvy choice for Missoula’s best. VFW: 245 W. Main St, 728-7749.

Finalists, Best Karaoke Bar 2. Westside Lanes 1615 Wyoming St. 721-5263 3. Five Valleys Bowling Center 1515 Dearborn Ave. 549-4158

Microbrewery and Brew: Kettlehouse, Cold Smoke Want a compelling reason to head to the Kettlehouse? Try this: We’re there every week, often more than thrice. Catching up with friends, chatting with sources, slugging a Cold Smoke, understandably picked as Best Brew in Missoula. You can’t ask for much more in life. Over the years, Kettlehouse has become a social hub. Ultimate fighters, documentary filmmakers and off-duty baristas flock here by the dozens for an after-hours pick-me-up. Odds are good you’ll bump into someone you know from somewhere or somewhen. The night might lead elsewhere; you might hit your favorite pizza joint for some dinner, or follow the crew downtown to the bars. But rest assured,

Missoula Independent Page 27 Best of Missoula 2012

You sweep us off our feet, Missoula. Thank you!

nights in Missoula pretty much start at the Kettlehouse: 602 Myrtle Street and 313 N. 1st St. W., 728-1660,

Finalists, Best Microbrewery 2. Bayern Brewing 1507 Montana St. 721-1482 3. Draught Works 915 Toole Ave. 541-1592 Finalists, Best Brew 2. Kettlehouse Double Haul 3. Big Sky Summer Honey

Beer Selection: Rhino Montana’s not exactly the first place you’d think to find a bottle of Traquair, one of Scotland’s finer brews. But there it is, in the cooler behind the bar at the Rhino, just begging for a taste. It’s just one of scores of hard-to-find beers that make this bar a popular place to, as the Rhino says, “charge in and get your horn wet.” If tap beer’s more your thing, they’ve got that, too—50 choices, to be exact. Some are local, some are domestic and a few cross international time zones. The only thing you have to ask yourself at the Rhino is this: Where in the world do you start? Literally. The Rhino: 158 Ryman St., 721-6061.

275 W. Main St • 728-0343

Finalists, Best Beer Selection 2. Tamarack 231 W. Front St. 830-3113 3. Kettlehouse 602 Myrtle St. 728-1660

Place to Dance: Union Club Missoula’s a town that knows how to move. Whether it’s rock tunes, dubstep or folk, locals love nothing more than getting out on a dance floor. There’s never a slow night at the Union when the music’s playing. Swing is the style here. The more twirling, dish-ragging and dipping, the better. It can get pretty packed, but again, Missoula knows how to move, even if it involves moving around someone else’s partner. Just beware the pillar in the center of the floor. The voice of experience says it’s got a pretty wicked bite. Union Club: 208 E. Main St., 728-7980.

Finalists, Best Place to Dance 2. The Badlander 135 W. Broadway 549-0235 3. Top Hat 134 W. Front St. 728-9865

Bar: Charlie B’s From the middle-aged barflies who frequent the joint during the day to the working class crowd that files in as the afternoon draws on and the hipsters who converge late at night, just about everybody loves Charlie B’s. Lee Nye’s black-and-white portraits of Charlie’s patrons dot the iconic watering hole’s walls above seemingly never ending pool games carried on by local sharks. Charlie’s is perched at the corner of space and time—a phrase coined decades ago in reference to the bar’s place in the world—and it’s easy to see why in a town with no shortage of taverns, Independent readers think Charlie’s is the best. Charlie B’s: 428 N. Higgins Ave., 542-3847.

Missoula Independent Page 28 Best of Missoula 2012

Finalists, Best Bar 2. James Bar 127 W. Alder St. 721-8158 3. The Rhino 158 Ryman St. 721-6061

GOODS & SERVICES Bank/Credit Union: Missoula Federal Credit Union Missoula Fed is dialed. The credit union just released a new app, so you can transfer funds from your overdraft account to your checking account on your smartphone. Need to refinance your mortgage so you can afford your monthly payment? You can submit the entire application, and lock in that 4-percent interest rate, online. It’s all so easy. If only making money were. Missoula Federal Credit Union: Multiple locations, 523-3300,

Finalists, Best Bank/Credit Union 2. First Security Bank: Multiple Locations 728-3115 3. First Interstate Bank: Multiple Locations 523-4200

CDs & Music, Store for Gifts: Rockin Rudy’s The phrase “something for everyone” gets thrown around a lot, but Rockin Rudy’s actually lives up to it. If you need a gift for anyone, Rockin Rudy’s is the place; in fact, it would be challenging to go to Rockin Rudy’s looking for a gift and not leave with something. And let’s not overlook their awesome selection of CDs and music: Knowledgeable staff will help you navigate their massive library of tunes. Whether it’s stocking stuffers, jewelry and clothes or tunes for a road trip, Rockin Rudy’s has all your bases covered. Rockin Rudy’s: 237 Blaine, 5420077,

Finalists, Best CDs & Music 2. Ear Candy Music: 624 S. Higgins 542-5029 3. Hastings: 2501 Brooks St. 542-1077 Finalists, Best Store for Gifts 2. Green Light: 128 W. Alder St. 541-8623 3. Artists’ Shop: 309 N. Higgins 543-6393

Florist: Bitterroot Flower Shop The sign at Bitterroot Flower Shop recently read something to the tune of “We’re so excited for spring, we wet our plants!” All hilarious punnery aside, Bitterroot Flower Shop has been making Missoula even greener and prettier for years now. Need proof? Just check out the amazing flower displays in the windows of their primo Hip Strip location. Whether you screwed up big-time and need to make amends or just want to brighten the day for

Dr. Shoni Card of Pruyn Veterinary Hospital, Best Veterinary Clinic

that special someone, they’ll ensure you get just what you need. Bitterroot Flower Shop: 811 S. Higgins, 542-0309,

Finalists, Best Florist 2. Garden City Floral: 2510 Spurgin Rd. 543-6627 3. Habitat Floral Studio: 211 N. Higgins 543-0967

Home Appliances: Vann’s Vann’s has been serving the Missoula community for more than five decades. A dedication to customer service has made them the go-to place for whatever gadgetry your home needs. Vann’s doesn’t just sell you a washing machine or a TV; they make sure you’re getting the right product at the right price, and they even go the extra mile to make sure you’re getting everything put together and installed correctly. And with a huge online store and a wide variety of computers and high-tech gadgets at their ON Store in Southgate Mall, you can be sure that Vann’s will be keeping your tech up-to-date for years to come. Vann’s: 3623 Brooks St., 541-6000,

Finalists, Best Home Appliances 2. Sears: Southgate Mall 523-3200 3. Lowe’s: 3100 N. Reserve 329-1800

Photo by Chad Harder

New Retail Store: Cloth & Crown Cloth & Crown opened its shop of fine women’s clothing in February 2011. Since then, it has become a fast favorite for Missoula ladies looking for a blend of contemporary style and city shopping, with a splash of Montana thrown in. Owner Jenna Smith describes the success of the store as “amazing” and says she’s excited to continue offering Missoulians an affordable and attractive range of clothing. “We have everything from $30 shirts to designer jeans and suits,” she says. Cloth & Crown also offers a variety of accessories like ornate clutches, turquoise cuffs and tiny, gold Montana necklaces. Cloth & Crown: 329 N. Higgins, 542-2626,

Finalists, Best New Retail Store 2. Apricot Lane: Southgate Mall 721-2280 3. TIE MSO Hub: 140 N. Higgins 543-3300 Weyaka's Boutique: 101 S. Higgins 926-2446

Dry Cleaner and Laundromat: Green Hanger Green Hanger had a rough run recently. In April, a large fire started by an external fixture caused over $100,000 of damage to the business and apartments above the laundromat. How does Green Hanger respond? By immediately working to salvage all of the clothes and ship them to their other location, then taking out a large ad in the

Missoula Independent Page 29 Best of Missoula 2012

721-5146 3. Mullan Station Laundromat: 3420 Mullan Rd. 721-5989

Pet Supplies: Go Fetch! The first and last time we bathed our dog at home, it left about an arm-pillow’s worth of hair atop the drain and water everywhere. So now we take the little mongrel to Go Fetch! and use its self-serve grooming room. And while we’re there, of course, we pick up a bag of food, a locally smoked beef bone and a Kong—because, as many Missoulians know, spoiling your dog is more fun than spoiling yourself. Go Fetch!: Multiple locations, 728-2275,

Finalists, Best Pet Supplies 2. PetSmart: 2850 N. Reserve 549-9188 3. Pet Nebula: 1916 Brooks St. 541-9929

Antiques: The Montana Antique Mall Best Laundromat & Dry Cleaner: Green Hanger

Missoulian reassuring Missoula that its clothes were safe. This is why Missoula loves the Green Hanger. Not only do they provide a hub of laundry goodness with free soap, free wi-fi and free coffee, they also truly care about their customers and their community. So next time you plan to hit up Green Hanger and tackle six weeks’ worth of laundry, give your faithful laundromat a pat on the back. Green

Hanger: 146 Woodford St., 728-1948; 960 East Broadway, 728-1919.

Finalists, Best Dry Cleaner 2. Missoula Textile: Multiple Locations 543-5171

Thanks for the support, Missoula!

Photo by Chad Harder

3. Fresh Natural Cleaners: 1132 SW. Higgins 542-8100

Finalists, Best Laundromat 2. Sparkle Laundry: 812 S. Higgins

The Montana Antique Mall is the perennial winner of “Best Antiques,” and if “Best Place to Kill an Hour” were a category, we suspect it’d win that, too, because the Montana Antique Mall, even if you don’t have a dollar to spend, is a great place to wander around, in the same way that a museum is. The creaky, four-story building is packed with furniture and collectibles. The dozens of dealers often bring in new stuff, so you’ll want to go back now and again. But don’t get too carried away, or the next

THANK YOU, MISSOULA, for making First Call Computer Solutions one of the Top PC Repair Shops in Town!

Antique, retro, eclectic and hand-crafted home furnishings

Mon. - Sat. 10-5 1804 North Ave W. Suite B 542-0097 Missoula Independent Page 30 Best of Missoula 2012

First Call has two Locations in Missoula to serve you. Right on the Hip Strip @ 616 S. Higgins Ave and just off Reserve St. @ 2436 W. Central Ave. Or Call us today at 406.721.459

thing you know you’ll be watching “Antiques Roadshow.” The Montana Antique Mall: 331 Railroad St., 721-5366.

Finalists, Best Antiques 2. Circle Square Second Hand Store: 519 N. Higgins 549-3512 3. Curiosity Shop: 1804 North Ave. W. 542-0097

Pawn Shop: Liquid Assets If you’re like most Missoulians, you need cash and have a gun to spare, or need a gun and have cash to spare. The same seems to go for guitars. Either way, pop into Liquid Assets, the downtown pawn shop that’s Indy readers’ perennial favorite. You’re bound to find some killer bargains on those necessities and all kinds of other merchandise, such as jewelry and electronics—and a few must-haves you didn’t even know you were looking for. Liquid Assets: 434 N. Higgins, 542-6606,

Finalists, Best Pawn Shop 2. Riverside Pawn: 1300 Clark Fork Dr. 728-7296 3. Downtown Pawn and Loan: 219 W. Broadway 549-8622

Camera/Photo Store: The Dark Room Now, you didn’t vote for The Dark Room because they tap a keg every First Friday for their gallery show, did you? It was probably the friendly help, the variety of new and used gear and the basement darkroom geared to those of you who still believe “photo shop” is a place, not a program. You can still pick up film and developing chemicals here like it’s 1995. For those that have gone digital: Cards, readers and manuals abound. Of course, the free beer is a nice touch. The Dark Room: 135 N. Higgins, 549-1070,

Finalists, Best Camera/Photo Store 2. Yellowstone Photo 321 N. Higgins 728-7637

3. Best Buy 2640 N. Reserve 829-0409

Computer Repair Shop: Computer Central Whether you’re a small business or smalltime blogger, there’s a good chance you depend on computers but have no idea how they work. And you probably don't have an IT guy on call. Out of a long list of repair shops, Computer Central takes the cake due to their dedicated customers and name recognition. Even though you’re not a computer tech (as everyone likely will be in 50 years), don’t fear the blue screen of death! They’ve got you covered, if you can pay the cover. Computer Central: 136 East Broadway, 542-6540,

Onward and upward toward our goal of providing expert, effective, and caring physical therapy services. We thank you for voting Brace Hayden Best Physical Therapist

Finalists, Best Computer Repair Shop 2. First Call 616 S. Higgins 721-4592 3. Computer Guys 2240 South Ave. W. 542-2800

Real Estate Agent: Mindy Palmer Mindy Palmer is the only person to win this category since we started offering it in 2006. How does she do it? “We made a conscious decision after seeing all these cheesy real estate head shots—we needed to break out of the mold,” says Steve Palmer, who's Mindy's husband and the marketing-half of their team. “But I wouldn’t have gotten this far with just the wacky ads,” Mindy says. “There’s substance in the bright green converse.” She also prides herself on connecting with people and being authentic, insightful and compassionate, on top of her sheer dedication. All of which, obviously, works very well. Mindy & Steve Palmer, Prudential Montana Real Estate: 239-6696 and 239-1949,

MI S SSO K NEco-friendly U A LA H Cleaners T

Finalists, Best Real Estate Agent 2. Anne Jablonski: Windermere 546-5816 3. Pat McCormick: Properties 2000 728-8850

"Missoula's Clean Spots"


Best New Car Dealer: Karl Tyler Chevrolet

Photo by Steele Williams

146 Woodford St. 728-1948

960 E. Broadway 728-1919

Missoula Independent Page 31 Best of Missoula 2012

Furniture: Wagner’s Your home is your sanctuary. Living room, kitchen, bedroom—if it isn’t all designed for maximum comfort, how are you supposed to leave behind the stresses of a tough day at the office and relax? Missoula clearly turns to Wagner’s Home Furnishings, creating spaces that are both cushy and refined. A Salem loveseat beneath the picture window can tie a living room together. A Howard Miller bed bench could be the answer to that evening struggle with work shoes. A dining room hutch from Aspen Furniture offers a perfect home for that heirloom china. It’s obvious where Wagner’s motto comes from. They do “turn houses into homes.” Wagner’s: 916 SW Higgins Ave., 728-3214,

Finalists, Best Furniture 2. The Living Room: 2610 S. Reserve 721-1340 3. House Design Studio: 133 N. Higgins 541-6960

STAFF PICK BEST PRACTICE SPACE This year, the VFW started inviting bands to play month-long residencies every Thursday night in the back room of the bar. Not only that, but the band-in-residence gets to curate each show with their own lineup each week. The result has been a surprising collection of outof-town punk bands, bands reunited from the 1990s Missoula music scene, impromptu bands, ukulele bands and one-man- and one-womanbands. What have the bands-in-residence gotten out of it? A lot of practice. The Juveniles, who were already pretty solid to begin with, got better and better each time up to the final night when they were pure magic playing “Guy in a Bathrobe” and other creeping garage rock tunes. Some nights are slower than others. One night, the dudes of Total Combined Weight, who recently did their band residency, played to about three people: one hippie twirling and two people making out. No matter. Playing shows once a week means you get to hone your craft. TCW made up for it the next week when they played Minor Threat covers to a surging crowd of shirtless moshers. Who needs practice when you’ve got the VFW bar for a month?

Bookstore: The Book Exchange We are a bookish, literary community, which is reflected in the fact that, in this age of online and onscreen reading, in addition to a chain bookseller, we also still have several great independent bookstores. Our readers’ pick amongst all of them is The Book Exchange, and it’s not hard to see why once you step beyond its stripmall exterior and see a lot of used books in fine shape that sell for as little as a few bucks, not to mention more than 180,000 books in total, many of them out-of-print; a wealth of works by local authors; a great selection of volumes about Montana and the West; and an in-store Liquid Planet coffee shop, which makes this a great place to kill an afternoon. The Book Exchange: 2335 Brooks St., 728-6342,

Missoula Independent Page 32 Best of Missoula 2012

Finalists, Best Bookstore 2. Fact & Fiction: 220 N. Higgins 721-2881 3. Barnes & Noble: 2640 N. Reserve 721-0009

Veterinary Clinic/Hospital: Pruyn Veterinary Hospital People deeply care about their companion animals. Taking a sick pet to the vet can be as fraught as taking a sick child to a physician—with the added challenge that pets rarely speak in ways that humans understand. They need advocates. Many Missoulians relish the advocacy they get at Pruyn Veterinary Hospital. At the long-established Pruyn, it’s not about cushy digs or waiting-room amenities. The waiting room is often crowded, because so many animal owners know the care they get there from veterinarians such as Shoni Card, the most sensitive and able animal clinician that one dog owner of our acquaintance has ever had the good fortune to encounter, is top-notch. Pruyn Veterinary Hospital: 2501 S. Russell St., 829-8150,

Finalists, Best Veterinary Clinic/Hospital 2. Missoula Veterinary Clinic: 3701 Highway 93 251-2400 3. Four Paws: 2625 Connery Way 542-3838

Auto Repair: Kent Brothers Scenario: You’re cruising down Higgins on your way to work when your beloved little Subaru starts acting funny. It’s a clunk, a squeak, a shimmy—something that tells you all’s not right under the hood. Summer’s coming up fast, though, and the last thing you need is a lack of wheels to get you and your raft to the Gorge. Kent Bros. has gained a serious reputation around Missoula as the place to go when your car’s keening. These guys are friendly and skilled, with a sense of humor that will calm your nerves the minute you roll up. Don’t worry. They’ll make sure you don’t miss any more days on the river than necessary. Kent Brothers Automotive: 127 S. 4th St. W., 728-1747.

Finalists, Best Auto Repair 2. Hellgate Conoco Service Center: 711 E. Broadway 549-7504 3. TIE V-Tech: 2420 Benton Ave. 728-4081 Unique Auto Service: 1414 Montana St. 728-3144

Lodging: DoubleTree For years now, Missoula has singled out the DoubleTree as the No. 1 place to put up friends and family when they roll into town. And given everything Missoula—and the DoubleTree—has to offer, that tends to happen a lot. There’s something unmistakably vacation-ish about staring at the river, sipping an award-winning martini from the DoubleTree’s Finn & Porter bar and watching locals cast dry flies into the Clark Fork. When the guests do arrive, you might have a hard time convincing them to take that day trip to the Daly Mansion. Why go when the DoubleTree’s already got it all? DoubleTree Hotel: 100 Madison St., 728-3100,

Finalists, Best Lodging 2. C’Mon Inn: 2775 Expo Parkway 543-4600 3. Holiday Inn Downtown at the Park: 200 S. Pattee St. 721-8550

Motorcycle/ATV Dealer: Grizzly Harley-Davidson Missoula’s top motorcycle dealer entered new ownership this year. But rest assured that the shop hasn’t changed a lick. The service staff gets rave reviews from the biking community. The inventory, new and used, is top quality. And Grizzly is still more than a shop; it’s a destination, the kind of place where just looking at the bikes is half the fun. Sparkling chrome, soft leather— five minutes and you’ll be begging to throw on a jacket and hit the highway. Grizzly Harley-Davidson: 5106 E. Harrier Dr., 721-2154,

Finalists, Best Motorcycle/ATV Dealer 2. Big Sky Motorsports: 2315 South Ave. W. 721-5341 3. TIE Kurt's Polaris: 2904 W. Broadway 541-3651 Five Valley Honda Yamaha: 5900 Highway 93 S. 251-5900

Adult Store: Adam & Eve We added this category to the Best Of lineup this year because, let’s face it, sex is a big part of the human condition. And if you’re going to get it on, you want to get it on right. Adam & Eve has hundreds, nay thousands, of answers for spicing things up in the boudoir. For the tamer set, a slinky neglige or simple tube of lube could do the trick. For those more adventurous lovers out there, his and hers sex toys are readily available in all shapes, sizes and battery requirements. Adam & Eve might not be for everyone. But we’re all human animals. When there’s love in the air, a little help never hurts. Adam & Eve: 1401 W. Broadway, 549-4688,

Finalists, Best Adult Store 2. Fantasy For Adults: 2611 Brooks St. 542-1801 3. Midnight Dreams: 2700 Paxson St. 542-6227

Property Management Company: Garden City Property Management What makes a property management company more than just a landlord is personality. Garden City has that in spades. They’re quick to respond, both to housing applications and to odd problems such as broken gutters that typically crop up with rental units. And they make dropping off a rent check easy. A smile, a little chit-chat. It’s no surprise that after 30-some years, Garden City is still a respected and admired authority around town. Garden City Property Management: 422 Madison St., 549-6106,

Finalists, Best Property Management Company 2. Grizzly Property Management: 715 Kensington Ave. 542-2060 3. Bitterroot Property Management: 414 W. Broadway 549-9631

Store for Musical Instruments: Morgenroth Morgenroth has spent 27 long years building up its musical empire. Through dedication and shrewd business planning, they’ve clinched the spot as Missoula’s go-to source for sheet music, lessons, instruments and repairs. It seems like there’s nothing these guys can’t do. They’ll hook you up with the right guitar, the right instructor and the right spirit to get you jamming like Hendrix. Well, okay, maybe not quite like Hendrix. But the point is, they’ll get you as close as possible—and they’ll enjoy doing it. Morgenroth Music Center: 1105 W. Sussex Ave., 549-0013,

We love you too, Missoula!

{ring} 406.543.0967 {visit} 211 N. Higgins Ave. Missoula, MT 59801 {admire}

Finalists, Best Store for Musical Instruments 2. Electronic Sound & Percussion: 819 S. Higgins 728-1117 3. Outlaw Music: 724 Burlington Ave. 541-7533

Best Store for Musical Instruments: Morgenroth Music Center

Photo by Steele Williams

Missoula Independent Page 33 Best of Missoula 2012

Best Toy Store: The Learning Tree

Car Wash: Happy Days

It happens more often than you think: Some friend invites you to her kid’s birthday party, which is really just another excuse for a Missoula potluck. There will be beers and meat on a grill and cake (bonus!), but you’re stuck having to bring a gift and you don’t want to be that guy who, metaphorically speaking, brings the Costco crate to a party full of organic veggies and grassfed meats. In other words, you want to carry in a tasteful, affordable, cool and maybe even educational gift for that little rascal. Make it easy on yourself and head to Learning Tree. From plush toys to trains, art supplies to board games, they’ve got it all. When in doubt, pick up anything made by Melissa & Doug or, even better, grab one of those foot-stomp rocket launchers—they’re awesome for boys and girls of any age and a hit at parties. The Learning Tree: 2901 Brooks St., 543-0101,

What’s better than the smell of a waxy polished car you didn’t have to lift a finger to clean? For those of you without olfactory senses, not much, man. The helpful hands at Happy Days get you in, out and sparkling in record time, clearing your schedule for another round of muddin’ so you can come back and do it all over again. And it may be strange but Missoula agrees: it’s interior first, exterior last. The voters have spoken. Happy Days: 2500 Brooks St., 728-5527; 3831 Brooks St., 251-7009.

Finalists, Best Toy Store 2. Walking Stick Toys: 829 S. Higgins 543-1179 3. Rockin Rudy’s: 237 Blaine St. 542-0077

Used Car Dealer: University Motors If you possess a television set, you know the story of this family-owned Honda dealership. Through a series of seemingly ubiquitous commercials, we learn about the Hubbard family’s history of selling cars, its commitment to selling only the best new and certified used Hondas and a certain catch phrase. We’re telling you, we see these commercials more than our roommates at this point. All of which is to say, this may be University Motors’ first victory in this category but those are commercials you’ll hear every night, for life. University Motors: 3600 S. Reserve St., 721-4920,

Finalists, Best Used Car Dealer 2. Eide Motors: 3010 S. Reserve 721-2323 3. Karl Tyler Chevrolet: 3663 N. Reserve 721-2438

Finalists, Best Car Wash 2. Dazzlers: 2610 Radio Way 728-6262 3. Splash: 2050 Cooper St. 721-3743

Big Box Store: Target We love to meander through Target’s long toy aisles overflowing with Nerf guns, radio-controlled cars and board games. Target has everything we could ever need to live, including dog food, laundry detergent and toothpaste, along with milk, soup and crackers. The retailer’s vast and colorful sheet and comforter selection makes us want to curl up and get cozy. We would live at Target, if they let us. Barring that arrangement, we’ll just have to be satisfied with shopping there. Target: 2420 N. Reserve St., 543-4000,

Finalists, Best Big Box Store 2. Costco: 3220 N. Reserve 721-1535 3. Walmart: 3555 Mullan Rd. 829-8489

Plant Nursery: Caras Nursery Caras’s selection sprawls from its outdoor nursery filled with ornamental trees, winding vines and tiny cacti to the greenhouse where tomatoes, basil and cucumber grow near yellow daffodils, spotted pansies and pink begonias. Caras’s indoor retail store is stocked with seeds, planters and fertilizer. All of this makes Caras an easy choice as Missoula’s best plant nursery, but

Best Ranch Supply: Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply

Missoula Independent Page 34 Best of Missoula 2012

Photo by Chad Harder

what we like best is Caras’s staff. They’re always on hand to explain how best to make your garden grow. Caras: 2727 S. 3rd St. W., 549-3242,

Finalists, Best Plant Nursery 2. Pink Grizzly: 1400 Wyoming St. 728-3370 3. Marchie’s: 1845 S. 3rd St. W. 542-2544

Lawyer: Martin Judnich We think Indy readers know a little bit about getting in trouble. We like that about you. Next time we get pulled over or someone smashes into our car and gives us whiplash, we’ll take your advice on where to find Missoula’s best attorney. Martin Judnich, or “Marty,” as his clients call him, specializes in personal injury and criminal defense law. His clients say overwhelmingly that Judnich communicates clearly and often, while keeping his prices affordable. He’ll be the first one we call next time the fuzz pops us on a trumped-up charge. Judnich Law office: 2419 Mullan Rd., 721-3354,

Finalists, Best Lawyer 2. Paul Ryan: 218 E. Front St. 542-2233 3. John Velk: 523 S. Orange St. 543-0909

New Car Dealer: Karl Tyler Chevrolet Karl Tyler Chevrolet offers more than just high-end sports cars, mini vans, affordable sedans and hybrids. For more than two decades, the locally owned operation has cultivated an ever-growing contingent of satisfied customers from across the area. What really puts Karl Tyler over the top is the dealership’s commitment to improving the community. Karl Tyler donates generously to nonprofit organizations such as “Chicks N’ Chaps,” which helps support women and families affected by breast cancer. It’s more than just a car dealership; it’s a good community steward. Karl Tyler Chevrolet: 3663 N. Reserve St., 721-2438,

Finalists, Best New Car Dealer 2. Bitterroot Motors: 3943 Brooks St. 251-2525 3. University Motors: 3600 S. Reserve 866-271-7452

Pet Care/Grooming: Quick Paws Whether it’s fish guts rotting in the summer sun or a deer carcass gathering flies, our dogs love to roll in dead things. Quick Paws’ senior groomer Renee Kelly has more than 15 years experience working with animals and knows how to remedy the stench quickly and calmly, ensuring that neither Fido nor you, his overprotective owner, become anxious during the beautification process. Quick Paws: 1720 S. 3rd St. W., 721-1943,

Finalists, Best Pet Care/Grooming 2. Pruyn: 2501 S. Russell St. 829-8150

3. Dog Logic: 6150 Training Dr. 327-9663

Ranch Supply: Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply The problem with Murdoch’s is it has too much cool stuff. Some weekends, we lose hours there petting the rabbits and young chickens Murdoch’s sells. It takes everything we have not to spend all our money on a whole new wardrobe composed of 10gallon hats, Wranglers and sharp-looking cowboy boots. As you already know, Murdoch’s really is awesome. The cashiers are friendly and there’s free popcorn, too. Murdoch’s: 2801 W. Broadway, 5492355,

Finalists, Best Ranch Supply 2. Mountain West Co-Op/Cenex: 4570 N. Reserve 543-8383 3. Axmen: 7655 Highway 10 W. 728-7020

Hobby/Craft Shop: Treasure Chest Here’s an idea for an art project if you have a fireplace: Clear out all the residue, go down to the Treasure Chest, find a collection of resin action figures you can paint and then set them up inside like a diorama. The Treasure Chest is the kind of place you can find quirky art ideas, plus the usual cool model-plane kits. The store has a great selection of model trains and “Star Trek” and Star Wars models. The local store is staffed by friendly, helpful people who, like your eccentric Uncle Lenny, will help you sift through what feels like an attic full of delightful, endless treasure. Treasure Chest: 1612 Benton Ave., 549-7992.

Finalists, Best Hobby/Craft Shop 2. Michael’s: 2850 N. Reserve 542-0128 3. Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft: 1900 Brooks St. 543-5244

Home Electronics: Best Buy The store that sports the blue shirts is one of the most navigable places to find electronics. You know how you decided not to take a map on a backcountry road and you ended up with a strange hitchhiker in the back of your truck and then you hit a deer? Fun story to tell later, but when you're looking for an iPod dock or picking up a wireless card after yours burned out, you’re not looking for an unpredictable experience. You’re looking for expediency and friendliness and a whole group of people in blue shirts who can make that happen, which is why Best Buy has this one in its back pocket. Best Buy: 2640 N. Reserve St., 829-0409,

Finalists, Best Home Electronics 2. Vann’s: 3623 Brooks St. 728-5151 3. Sears: 2901 Brooks St. 523-3200

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Home Accessories: House Design Studio

Monday through Sunday

Open am

79:30 to


Open late every day of the week this summer

3. Betty's Divine: 521 S. Higgins 721-4777

House is a dangerous place. You go in innocent and come out wanting things you never knew existed: whiskey stones and Himalayan salt blocks, for instance. You realize your frayed deck furniture is making you sad and that the delicious avocado patio furniture in House’s window display makes you happy—happy enough to throw a summer party wild with margaritas and spicy tacos. You’re not a materialist, you’re a person who is fond of aesthetically pleasing function. And if you already have an eye for design, House happens to be a sweet place to concoct the fabrics and designs for your next interior design project. It’s an uncluttered place with a small but choice selection of cookbooks and goods that make for greener lifestyles, such as reusable grocery and lunch bags. House Design Studio: 133 N. Higgins, 541-6960,

Lots of people hate on tanning and are quick to declare how they’d rather be pale than “orange.” Brown Sugar offers another solution, a ray of light for those of us who suffer from seasonal pale-pression but don’t want to be mistaken for Snooki. At Brown Sugar Tanning Salon, there are a variety of beds, tan enhancers and even UV-free spray tans that give Missoulians an even, healthy glow and not a built-in hunter’s safety vest. Brown Sugar: 1220 SW. Higgins, #3, 541-4441; 3275 N. Reserve St., #B, 830-3013,

Finalists, Best Home Accessories 2. Target: 2420 N. Reserve 543-4000 3. Pier 1 Imports: 2800 N. Reserve 728-3347

Finalists, Best Tanning Salon 2. Rayz of Light: 1575 Benton Ave. 543-0205 3. Misty's: 3101 S. Russell St. 543-0717

Tanning Salon: Brown Sugar

Eyewear: Uptown Optical

S i n c e

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222 We st M ain, M isso ula 406.549- 9903

see our complete menu online at seasonal sidewalk dining ◆ fine wine & beer selection

Women’s Clothing: Betty’s Divine Betty’s Divine is Missoula’s reigning queen of women’s fashion, with ladies of all ages bowing to her many shelves of swag. If you’re looking for locally made earrings and T-shirts screaming with Montana spirit or a dress with matching heels straight from the streets of Paris, Betty’s is your girl. If you’re feeling too casual for a bronze deer-head necklace or a pair of heavy bejeweled earrings, Betty’s still has everything you need. Their many shelves of high-quality accessories and comfy basics keep every woman feeling like royalty, no matter she where goes. Betty’s Divine: 521 S. Higgins, 7214777,

Finalists, Best Women’s Clothing 2. Dillard's: Southgate Mall 721-3100 3. Cloth & Crown: 329 N. Higgins 542-2626

Shoe Store: Hide & Sole Missoulians love a good shoe store, but what takes Hide & Sole to the next level is the thought and care they put into all of your other accessories as well. With a wide variety of belts, purses, bags, wallets and other leather goods, in addition to their great selection of shoes from brands like Chaco, Dansko and Birkenstock, Hide & Sole has been keeping the active Missoulian comfortable, stylish and well-equipped for years now. Hide & Sole: 236 N. Higgins, 549-0666,

Finalists, Best Shoe Store 2. Dillard's: Southgate Mall 721-3100

Missoula Independent Page 36 Best of Missoula 2012

Remember all of the kids who always called you four-eyes? You know, the same ones who now enviously compliment your sweet new frames? Uptown Optical keeps Missoula stocked with the latest trends and highest fashions of eyewear, filling the non-bespectacled with a yearning to be nearsighted. Coupled with prompt and friendly service, Uptown Optical keeps your four-eyes fly. Uptown Optical: 111 N. Higgins, #107, 3279988,

Finalists, Best Eyewear 2. Rocky Mountain Eye Center: 700 W. Kent St. 541-3937 3. Specticca: 319 N. Higgins 549-5700

Cosmetics: Skin Chic Whether it’s bronzer to show off new summer suntans or (more realistically) smooth foundations to hide drab winter skin, Missoulians trust Skin Chic to keep us looking fresh all year long. And with their all-mineral make-up, Skin Chic promises Missoula that their cosmetics keep skin healthy in a way Covergirl can’t compete with. But if you’re not afraid to flaunt your pale au-natural in the middle of winter, Skin Chic also offers a range of face cleansers and moisturizers that will make you shine without hiding your goggle tan. Skin Chic: 2901 Brooks St., 541-8464,

Finalists, Best Cosmetics 2. Smooch Cosmetic Boutique: 125 E. Main St. 541-1600 3. Dillard's: Southgate Mall 721-3100

Men’s Clothing: Dillard’s Your wedding’s just six weeks out, and despite your fiancée’s nagging, you still haven’t picked out a suit or instructed your groomsmen on the color of tie they need to buy. Just head to Dillard’s, the department store in Southgate Mall. Its men’s department has everything you need, from super spiffy to Missoula casual. More than that, its staff is friendly and knowledgeable and will size and suit you up (and calm your partner’s nerves) in no time. Dillard’s: 2901 Brooks St., 721-3100,

3. Bella Sauvage: 629 Woody St. 541-9032

Thrift Store: Goodwill It’s like arriving in thrift heaven: Angels in blue vests guide you under the bright fluorescents to the corners of forgotten sweaters, intact board games and walls of VHS and cassette tapes. There’s a rack seemingly dedicated to flannel, and

the women’s shoes would easily fill a Hummer. Bargain hunters from all walks of life linger near the dishes; some scope the furniture, while others test ancient sound systems. Since Kerouac namedropped the place 60 years ago, Goodwill has been synonymous with thrift store, and Missoula

Finalists, Best Men’s Clothing 2. Desmonds 129 N. Higgins 728-8233 3. Betty’s Divine 521 S. Higgins 721-4777

Day Spa: Sorella’s A recent study conducted in Britain found that stress is associated with increased risk of death from stroke. Get that psychological angst in check at Sorella’s Day Spa. Sorella’s, on Main Street, offers a list of spa treatments that will soothe away all that ails you. Try the “Queen For a Day” package, an hour-long fullbody massage followed by a European facial, or the “Gentleman’s Retreat,” a 90-minute massage and facial. It’s bliss. And you might just live longer. Sorella’s: 207 East Main St., 721-3639,

Finalists, Best Day Spa 2. Cedar Creek: 216 W. Main St. 543-0200

Best Tattoo Shop: Blaque Owl

Photo by Chad Harder

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agrees. Goodwill: 2300 Brooks St., 549-6969,

Finalists, Best Thrift Store 2. Secret Seconds: Multiple Locations 549-1610 3. Bargain Corner: 200 S. California St. 543-4926

Lingerie: Victoria’s Secret It’s unfair to peg Victoria’s Secret as strictly a playtime clothing store. Much of what they offer is more a part of everyday life: summer flats, fleece shorts, open-back dresses. That said, the store has made its name on the sultrier, sexier side of the closet. Lacey bustiers, satin slips, the thoroughly Montana cowgirl teddy. You might find that perfect pair of beach sandals, but it’s the

trademark V-string panties you were really after. Victoria’s Secret: Southgate Mall, 721-1811,

Finalists, Best Local Lingerie 2. Bella Donna: 208 N. Higgins 549-4000 3. Adam & Eve: 1401 W. Broadway


Tattoo Shop: Blaque Owl Just over a year old and they're already the star of the ink scene. The downtown parlor’s six artists are booked for months at a time, crafting only original and customer-requested pieces. “You don’t want to walk down the street and see some guy with your same tattoo,” owner and artist Mike Schaefer says. Instead of flash, local art hangs on the walls to give it a gallery feel that's aided by the open atmosphere and vintage wood flooring. But their finest pieces can be found on bodies all around town. Blaque Owl: 307 N. Higgins, 5430688,

Finalists, Best Tattoo Shop 2. American Made: 234 W. Front St. 721-3830 3. Painless Steel: 1701 S. 5th St. W. 728-1191

Best Kids’ Clothing: Whippersnappers

Best Kids’ Clothing: Whippersnappers

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We don’t have kids. But we’re petite and on a budget, so we buy kids' clothes. That’s why it’s so cool that Whippersnappers sells small stuff at affordable prices. Kids Danskos, for instance, run about $20 cheaper than women’s footwear of the same brand name. You’ll get a similarly good deal on sweatshirts and T-shirts. If you actually have kids, Whippersnappers offers adorable outfits, including ladybug dresses, pink tutus and, for the more Photo by Steele Williams

mechanically inclined, T-shirts with big yellow trucks on them. The downtown retailer is locally owned. That means we can’t think of a better place to pick up a screaming deal on our next pair of tennis shoes. Whippersnappers: 127 N. Higgins, #B, 728-7400.

Finalists, Best Kids’ Clothing 2. Children's Place: 2901 Brooks St. 728-2152 3. Kid Crossing: 1940 Harve Ave. 829-8808

Men’s Haircut and Women’s Haircut: Boom Swagger Salon It’s tough to muster a swagger when you have bad hair. Boom Swagger’s cadre of nine stylists can fix that, transforming that frizzy mane into a magnificent coif so you feel good making a slow strut down the Hip Strip or cruising for chicks during a night on the town. Boom Swagger opened in 2009 and since then has cultivated quite a reputation, now voted a favorite among Indy readers for three years in a row. Boom Swagger is where all the cool kids go. But staff stylists aren’t snobby. They cater to a wide demographic. “They’re so talented on all different age groups,” says Boom Swagger’s Sarah Kelly, who’s busy fielding phone calls and greeting clients on a recent Monday morning. “We try to play to everybody.” Boom Swagger: 204 S. 3rd St. W., 830-3192,

Finalists, Best Men’s Haircut 2. Hair Headquarters: 216 E. Main St. 728-4247 3. Tangles: 275 W. Main St. 728-0343 Finalists, Best Women’s Haircut 2. Canvas Studios 429 Madison St. 926-1440 3. Tangles 275 W. Main St. 728-0343

Jewelry: Rockin Rudy’s Touring through the jewelry department of Rockin Rudy’s is a little like touring an art gallery. In one display, case, you find a rainbow of shining earrings as colorful as a candy store, and in the next, weathered-looking jewels that could have been dug from an Egyptian tomb. Artisan necklaces dripping with intricate owls complement bracelets adorned with blackbirds. You can find a display of Art Decostyle hoop earrings near bad ass skull adornments. The plethora of boxes bearing rings—delicate rose quartz and hardy turquoise—offer the hope of making your casual Missoula wardrobe of Chacos and band T-shirts a little more exquisite. Rockin Rudy’s: 237 Blaine, 542-1104,

Finalists, Best Jewelry 2. Barney Jette: 228 N. Higgins 721-1575 3. One Eleven: 111 N. Higgins 541-7376

Hairstylist: Katt Ahlstrom, Canvas Studios When Katt Ahlstrom started Canvas Studios a year ago, she already had a loyal following. Now, booked through September, there’s no doubt the hair artist is in high demand. When you’re lucky enough to get on her schedule, Ahlstrom makes getting your hair cut a warm experience. Don’t know what looks best for you? She has a million ways you could transform yourself. She’s kind and personable, and she’s adept at social media, letting customers know when there’s a last-minute opening, a new product or a party at the studio. Her before-and-after shots of willing customers prove that along with other talents, she has a knack for making girls’ curly locks look like they’re ready to hit the runway. Canvas Studios: 429 Madison St., 926-1440,

Finalists, Best Hairstylist 2. Kim DeAnda, Tangles 3. Anna Wong, Shear Art

SPORTS & RECREATION Fly-Fishing Shop: Grizzly Hackle Grizzly Hackle was first born on Rock Creek River in the summer of 1988. Now that it’s next to Caras Park, it’s still close to the river, and everything about the store makes you thirsty to wade out and cast a line. The staff is friendly, which is a good thing because the art of fly-fishing can be technically intimidating. Say you read A River Runs Through It and thought you’d just grab a few wooly buggers and Zen out. Well, maybe you need a little advice—and you’ll get it here, sans snobby judgment. The store has recently expanded their women’s section, too, and plans on growing it more, into a part of the shop called Grizzly Hackle’s Better Half. They also don’t take for granted their line of work. Their Two Percent for the Rivers program is exactly what you think it is: two percent of every sale goes to protect local rivers and streams. Grizzly Hackle International Fishing: 215 W. Front St., 721-8996,

Finalists, Best Fly-Fishing Shop 2. Kingfisher Fly Shop: 926 E. Broadway 721-6141 3. Missoulian Angler Fly Shop: 802 S. Higgins 728-7766

Sporting Goods Store, Store For Guns: Bob Ward & Sons It’s actually amazing, the sheer amount of stuff Bob Wards has for every outdoor occasion. There’s outdoor apparel, camping gear, hunting and fishing supplies and snow gear. Whether you’re a tennis player or a paintball enthusiast, a keen-shot archer or a lazy-day tackle fisherman, you can find mountains of gear here to suit your outdoor goals. Those of us in the know have gone to Bob Wards for our canoes, ice-fishing poles, boot liners, camp chairs and camping coffeepots. Not only have they been voted best for sporting goods, but in particular, Bob Ward’s gun department has a bullseye reputation for good actions and barrels, and employees who know their stuff down to the grain—people like Bill Brown, the president of the 1,000-yard benchrest club. We figure, it you can shoot that far, you have a pretty good grip on gun gear. Bob Ward & Sons: 3015 Paxson St., 728-3220,

Missoula Independent Page 39 Best of Missoula 2012

Finalists, Best Sporting Goods Store 2. REI: 3275 N. Reserve 541-1938 3. The Trail Head: 221 E. Front St. 543-6966 Finalists, Best Store for Guns 2. Axmen South: 5175 Highway 93 S. 251-3399 3. Wholesale Sports: 2323 N. Reserve 523-9000

STAFF PICK BEST WAY TO SPEND YOUR 21st BIRTHDAY This year we asked you for the best way to commemorate turning 21 with a little self-interest, since the Indy turns 21 this year. We thought maybe we’d get a few tips. You had plenty. Shockingly, most involved alcohol, with bar hopping downtown a popular contender, as well as flaming shots at Feruqi’s and dinner and drinks with friends. Kudos to the candor of making fun yet terrible choices, naked, drunk, blacked out, in jail, in a taxi, in a DeLorean, in a time machine, in a trashcan, avoiding the bar you’ve gone to for the past three years and as if I could remember as well as the sobriety of not drinking too much, not in jail, at the Mansfield Library, eating pie and awake. You guys are too much fun. Also, at odds with one another—but that’s what makes Missoula such a diverse community, isn’t it? While some of you are naked and blind drunk, some of you are in the library.

Bowling Alley: Westside Lanes When was the last time you went on a bowling date? The sheen of the lanes’ polish, a table full of beer, bumping hands when you reach for your ball even though it’s not your turn: ’tis the stuff of romance. Westside takes your turkeys to a new level with a full bar featuring live music and karaoke, a casino, arcade and pool tables galore. Jeez, there’s even batting cages. Wait a second, can we just live there? Westside Lanes: 1615 Wyoming St., 7215263,

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Finalists, Best Golf Course 2. Larchmont: 3200 Fort Missoula Rd. 721-4416 3. Canyon River Golf Club: 1268 Bandmann Trail Rd. 721-0222

Fly-Fishing Guide: Stacy Jennings Jennings is the donna suprema of fly-fishing in the valley. She’s led trips and taught classes since 1994, bringing skill, patience and humor to any situation. Jennings has an intuitive sense about flyfishing that speaks to her devotion to her craft. Her knowledge of flies, river conditions and fish biology is remarkable and she’s happy to accompany you on a snorkel session to get to know the river better. Her excitement over every detail of fly-fishing encourages every client and student to hit the river and try out the new drop-cast she patiently walked you through for hours. Stacy Jennings: 370-4027,

Finalists, Best Fly-Fishing Guide 2. John Herzer, Blackfoot River Outfitters: 3055 N. Reserve 542-7411 3. Drew Miller, Grizzly Hackle: 215 W. Front St. 721-8996

Health Club: Peak Health & Wellness Center Missoula has some great public tennis courts, but for the other six months of the year, tennis players and many others around Missoula know that the best place to work out is Peak Health & Wellness Center, down by Blue Mountain. The sprawling, upscale and locally owned club, in business for more than 25 years, has indoor and outdoor tennis courts, an indoor pool, weight rooms, a basketball court, an indoor track, and saunas and steam rooms in the locker rooms, among other amenities, making it a year-round destination for the fitness-conscious. And it’s all nearly pristine. “We’re the only true athletic club in the area—we’re at over 100,000 square feet, so it’s pretty massive,” says assistant director Joseph Foley. “We attempt to make it immaculate.” Peak Health & Wellness Center: 5000 Blue Mountain Rd., 251-3344,

Finalist, Best Bowling Alley 2. Five Valleys Bowl: 1515 Dearborn Ave. 549-4158

Finalists, Best Health Club 2. The Women’s Club: 2105 Bow St. 728-4410 3. YMCA: 3000 S. Russell St. 721-9622

Golf Course: The University Golf Course

Store for Skis: Gull Ski and Snowboard

Are we really going to do away with the best golf course in town? Only time will tell, so get out and hit the links at this spectacular course while you still can. Nestled right below the foothills of Mount Sentinel, the UM golf course has been Missoula’s goto spot for fun (and beginner-friendly) golf for years. While the College of Technology and other new UM buildings certainly need a home, let’s hope they don’t tear down this gem of a course to make room. University of Montana Golf Course: 515 South Ave. E., 728-8629,

Another summer, another string of afternoons sitting around saying, “If only I’d bought some alpine touring gear...” Well, stop moping. Now’s the time to get kitted out, and who better to do the job than Gull? They’ve got the Salomon Rocker II, dude! Can’t you picture the cold smoke flying off those tails as you rip down St. Joe’s in June? Sure, summer 2013 is a year off. But the days are only getting shorter between now and winter. Why the hell would you wait? Gull Ski and Snowboard: 2601 W. Broadway, 549-5613,

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Missoula Independent Page 41 Best of Missoula 2012

Missoula Independent Page 42 Best of Missoula 2012

Finalists, Best Store for Skis 2. Bob Ward & Sons: 3015 Paxon St. 728-3220 3. The Trail Head: 221 E. Front St. 543-6966

Place for Paddle Sports Equipment, Place for Mountaineering Gear: The Trail Head The best part of shopping at The Trail Head is knowing that you’re probably going to be helped by an employee who not only knows her stuff, but also has probably used the equipment she’s describing during her last off-day. Take Tara “Not Lara” Moser, an employee at the store for more than three years, who climbs, paddles, hikes and “does a lot of other things, depending on the season.” Moser can talk at length about The Trail Head’s boat selection, including the in-house custom-constructed NRS frames. As for climbing, it’s one of the store’s fastest-growing sections, with gear from the likes of Petzl, Black Diamond, Sterling and Mad Rock. The Trail Head takes both these categories again this year because of its selection, its commitment to the community and, perhaps most of all, employees like

Moser. The Trail Head: 221 E. Front St., 543-6966,

Finalists, Best Place for Paddle Sports Equipment 2. Strongwater: 612 S. Higgins 721-2437 3. Bob Ward & Sons: 3015 Paxon St. 728-3220 Finalists, Best Place for Mountaineering Gear 2. REI: 3275 N. Reserve 541-1938 3. Bob Ward & Sons: 3015 Paxon St. 728-3220

Place to Get a Snowboard: Edge of the World It might be the dead of summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start thinking ahead to winter and peruse the snowboard selection at this Hip Strip staple. A recent visit found a row of deeply

Best Sporting Goods Store, Store for Guns: Bob Ward & Sons

Photo by Steele Williams

Missoula Independent Page 43 Best of Missoula 2012

discounted boards, including ones from Niche that utilize its trademarked “HempHop” stringers technology. ( Yes, that means it uses eco-friendly hemp instead of carbon fibers.) The purchase of any of these boards scores you a free lift ticket to Lost Trail, a nice off-season perk, but also comes with the usual customer service that makes E.o.W. the best—free in-season waxes and edge sharpening. Edge of the World: 618 S. Higgins, 721-7774,

Finalists, Best Health Clinic 2. Western Montana Clinic: 500 W. Broadway 721-5600 3. Cost Care: Multiple Locations 721-5531

Finalists, Best Place to Get a Snowboard 2. Bob Ward & Sons: 3015 Paxon St. 728-3220 3. Gull Ski and Snowboard: 2601 W. Broadway 549-5613

Yoga Instructor: Celeste Ambrose, The Women’s Club

Bike Shop: The Bike Doctor The Bike Doctor has some BMX jumps in front of its Toole Avenue shop. Neighborhood kids spend hours there, doing donuts and launching from the ramp. If one of those kids gets a flat tire or has a chain malfunction, Bike Doctors are ready to lend them tools and give them advice. And they don’t mince words with their diagnoses. The best thing about the Bike Doctor is their staff of straight shooters who will tell you up front exactly how much you’ll pay to resuscitate that old Schwinn that’s been rusting in the back yard. Bike Doctor: 1101 Toole Ave., 721-5357,

Finalists, Best Bike Shop 2. Open Road: 517 S. Orange St. 549-2453 3. Big Sky Bikes: 809 E. Front St. 830-3195

HEALTH & WELLNESS Doctor, Health Clinic: Eric Ravitz, Blue Mountain Clinic Going to the doctor can be nerve-wracking. Even when your hypochondria is at bay, you show up at your annual checkup all clammy-handed and your blood pressure spikes. But Dr. Eric Ravitz and the staff at Blue Mountain Clinic—including physician assistant Kelly Polus, nurse practitioner Alison Charman and mental health specialists Lois Doubleday and Bernie Kneefe—are great at making patients and their families feel at ease, listened to and well cared for. That, along with the clinic’s open-minded approach, appears to be just the right prescription for Indy readers, who have voted Dr. Ravitz and Blue Mountain Clinic the best five years running. Blue Mountain Clinic: 610 N. California St., 721-1646,

Finalists, Best Doctor 2. Lar Autio, Western Montana Clinic: 500 W. Broadway 721-5600 3. Kevin Sheehan, Providence Medical: 500 W. Broadway 327-1900

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Celeste Ambrose has been teaching yoga at the Women’s Club since 2007, including gentle yoga and extra gentle yoga classes for those in need of a slow pace on their way to centeredness. Staff at the Women’s Club tell us that Ambrose has an “aura of peace, within and without,” that she's jovial and full of laughter and conducts her classes with warm strength. Her fitness philosophy is “use it or lose it,” and if that means we don’t have to run 10 miles or stand on our heads to tap into our chakra, we’re all for it. The Women’s Club: 2105 Bow St., 728-4410,

Finalists, Best Yoga Instructor 2. Brian Baty, Inner Harmony: 214 E. Main St. 581-4093 3. Jennifer Hoover, Hot House: 127 N. Higgins 529-4091

Gynecologist: Janice Givler, Western Montana Clinic Givler came right out of residency to the Missoula Valley where she has worked passionately in women’s health for 18 years. Givler delights in the opportunities she has to help Missoula women of all ages, from the babies she delivers to the older women transitioning through menopause. It’s the enthusiasm and devotion that Givler offers every patient that has gained Missoulians’ trust and keeps them loyal to her care from age 0 to 99. Janice Givler, Western Montana Clinic: 2835 Fort Missoula Rd., #200, 721-5600.

Finalists, Best Gynecologist 2. Mark Garnaas, Western Montana Clinic: 2835 Fort Missoula Rd. 721-5600 3. Craig McCoy, Missoula OB-GYN Ass’n: 2825 Fort Missoula Rd. 728-8170

STAFF PICK BEST CURE FOR THE COMMON COLD When winter weather settles into Missoula, the sun disappears under a thick blanket of inversion and your body starts to get that bone-level ache while your sinuses fill with crud, you’re willing to do whatever it takes to heal. Forget the over-the-counter stuff at the drug store and head to a strip mall tucked behind Brooks Street. Vietnam Noodle (2100 Stephens Ave., Suite 103; 542-8299) serves up a spicy lemongrass tofu noodle soup that’s sure to clear you up and set you on the road to recovery. It’s not so much the dish’s heat, but the combination of spices in its rich broth that provide a soothing that NyQuil or Theraflu can’t come close to matching. As an added bonus, your secret remedy runs just $9.50 for a generous portion and, if you’re really hurting, you can order it by simply saying “Number 49, please.”

Alternative Health Care Provider: The Golgi Clinic A couple of years ago, the naturopathic physicians who make up the Golgi Clinic, Drs. Jeffrey Friess and Teresita Martinez, coached one Indy writer through a three-week cleanse that he wrote about—enema and all—in a feature story. Take it from him: Friess and Martinez bring a holistic and honest approach to health and well being. It’s about identifying and addressing underlying causes, not masking symptoms. And it seems to be working, judging by the duo receiving top honors in Best of Missoula. The Golgi Clinic: 113 W. Front St., 5418886,

Finalists, Best Alternative Health Care Provider 2. Mindy Opper, Red Willow: 825 W. Kent St. 721-0033 3. Christine White, Black Bear Naturopathic: 2204 Dixon Ave. 542-2147

optometrist. That’s Sandy Sheppard, who will get your vision up to snuff almost as fast as you can read the letters on the bottom line. And that’s important, especially if, like us, you’re arranging letters on a computer screen every day. Which sort of makes Dr. Sheppard an honorary Indy copy editor. Sandy Sheppard: 700 South Ave., 549-4851,

Finalists, Best Optometrist 2. Michael Simons, Montana Eyecare: 726 Kensington Ave. 549-9413 3. Kim Everingham, Rocky Mountain Eye: 700 W. Kent 541-3937

Personal Trainer: Tom Mackenroth, Peak Health & Wellness Center Tom Mackenroth’s success doesn’t come out of a book. He’s got a strategy that isn’t really a strategy at all: “For me, it’s not a client-trainer relation-

Best Alternative Health Care Provider: The Gogli Clinic

Chiropractor: Anthony Lambert The worst part about chronic back or neck pain (besides, you know, the pain) is not understanding what’s causing it. After your first visit to Dr. Anthony Lambert, you’ll probably know. He’ll hang your X-ray on the wall and explain what’s been ailing you, and then set a course for fixing it. While he’s the friendliest guy around, he’s also all business, and doesn’t want to see patients more than he has to. All of which explains why Indy readers, in back to back to back to back to back years (get it? Ha!), have voted “Dr. Anthony” the best in town. Anthony Lambert: 1320 S. 3rd St. W., 541-9355,

Finalists, Best Chiropractor 2. Scott Matz, Matz Family Chiropractic: 1519 S. Resereve 552-4014 3. Geoff Ramsay, Red Willow: 825 W. Kent St. 721-9199

Optometrist: Sandy Sheppard You know you have a great optometrist when she numbs your eyeballs and pokes your pupils to test something-or-other—which is a really weird sensation—and you still leave thinking you have a great

Photo by Steele Williams

ship. It’s more of a friendship.” The Spokane native and UM grad spent an internship in Florida training pro athletes in their off-seasons—including the Steelers’ Willie Parker. Intense and rewarding, yes, but ultimately his place was in Missoula. He’s been at Peak for five years, where, he says, “I get to do a lot of everything with a lot of different people.” Peak Health & Wellness Center: 3000 Blue Mountain Rd., 251-3344,

Finalists, Best Personal Trainer 2. Laura Bender: 113 W. Main St. 728-4395 3. Joy Kushner: 1831 S. 3rd St. W. 531-2925

Thank you, Missoula for continually voting Vann’s the the #1 place to buy appliances!

Dentist: Ike Heaphy It’s not easy being liked when you’re a dentist. Folks usually don’t take kindly to getting their gums jabbed, their teeth scraped and their whole mouth spread so wide it would seem to fit something the size of a Volvo. But Ike Heaphy manages to make getting your annual cleaning—or, gasp, something more extensive—a pleasant experience. He and his courteous staff work efficiently and offer useful tips to keep your visits free of any extra drama. Here’s one we learned firsthand:

Store Hours: Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. ; Closed Sunday

Missoula 3623 Brooks | 406-728-5151

Missoula Independent Page 45 Best of Missoula 2012

Make sure to brush that little nook behind your bottom front teeth, right where the tip of your tongue rests; it’s a prime spot for gunk to build up and often overlooked. Ike Heaphy: 712 Kensington Ave., 543-8347,

Finalists, Best Dentist 2. Tom Farago: 1547 S. Higgins 549-6081 3. Jason Olsen, Olsen & Peters Family Dental: 715 W. Central Ave. 728-2840

Massage Therapist: Fenesa Dilworth, Misty’s Salon & Spa Fenesa Dilworth has quite the following. Her colleagues at Misty’s say the two-time winner of this category has “a certain aura” about her that has dedicated customers booked out roughly two weeks for one of her massages. But here’s some important news for those of you curious about feeling what all the fuss is about: Dilworth recently started maternity leave and won’t be back until September. From what we understand, she’s worth the wait. Misty’s Salon & Spa: 3101 S. Russell St., 543-0717,

UNIQUELY MISSOULA Nonprofit: YWCA There is no nobler cause than ending violence against women. It’s something we’ve seen the community coalesce on not only in the past year, but in the 101-year history of this nonprofit. So it’s no surprise the Missoula YWCA takes home the prize yet again. Their dedication to empowering women and promoting peace does not go unnoticed; whether that comes through the shelter, classes, 24-hour support or their Secret Seconds thrift store. They’re not just here for women, but for a healthy Missoula community. Y WCA: 1130 W. Broadway, 543-6691,

Finalists, Best Massage Therapist 2. Tara Lee Leonard: 715 Kensington Ave. 728-6347 3. Eric Mitchell, Mitchell Massage: 2525 S. 3rd St. W. 207-9480

Finalists, Best Nonprofit 2. AniMeals 1700 Rankin 721-4710 3. Missoula Food Bank 219 S. 3rd St. W. 549-0543

Physical Therapist: Brace Hayden, Alpine Physical Therapy

Park, Place for People-Watching, Place to Take Out-of-Towners: Caras Park

When asked what makes him the best in town, Brace Hayden jokes that he doesn’t have any canned answers handy. He just does his job, he says, an edge of humor in his voice. And after seven years of physical therapy work in Missoula, it feels “good to get time in the spotlight.” Hayden sees about 40 patients per week on average, and he spends enough time with each to craft a unique physical therapy routine. Whether you’re recovering from back surgery or a blown knee, Hayden isn’t going to rush you. He plays Ultimate. He plays soccer. He bikes and skis. In short, Hayden doesn’t just understand what brought you to Alpine. He understands why you want to get back out there, in the best shape possible. Alpine Physical Therapy: 5000 Blue Mountain Rd., 251-2323,

Missoula Independent Page 46 Best of Missoula 2012

Finalists, Best Physical Therapist 2. Jill Olsen, Peak Physical Therapy: 1940 Harve St. 542-0808 3. Rob Gillespie, Axis Physical Therapy: 420 N. Higgins 542-3333


Big-ups to all the great people at the Missoula Downtown Association who, year after year, make Caras Park the go-to destination for all things Missoula. Great weekly events like Out to Lunch and Downtown ToNight highlight all the great stuff Caras is known for, but the place really shines when one of Missoula’s many fests descends upon the great tent and stage. No matter the occasion, there’s always something to do or see at Missoula’s riverside crown jewel.

Finalists, Best Park 2. Bonner 3. Greenough

Finalists, Best Place for People-Watching 2. Southgate Mall 3. Farmers' Markets Finalists, Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners 2. TIE The M Trail Farmers' Markets 3. Downtown Missoula

View: Mt. Sentinel You know why you’ve come here. To soak it all up while your body lightly wrings it all out. To take stock, ponder a passing minute. To hold hands with a loved one or get away from the bustle below. Whatever it is, it’s the right place to do it. On a clear day you can see every corner of the Missoula Valley from the M, and well beyond that if you plan to summit our signature mountain. You can lose count of all the trees and point to places you know better than anyone. For a second, above it all, you can just breathe.

Finalists, Best View 2. The Keep/Highlands Golf Course 3. Waterworks Hill

Church Choir: Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit Choir’s back on top this year. In a category that’s seen quite a bit of back and forth over the past few years, Holy Spirit’s been a top contender, winning in 2008 and again in 2010. The choir’s powerhouse, Nancy Cooper, is one busy lady, not only heading this group but teaching organ and music theory at the University of Montana. The competition’s thick for Best Church Choir, but if the

past is any indication, Holy Spirit intends to hold on to this title.

Finalists, Best Church Choir 2. South Hills Evangelical Church 3. University Congregational

slides, swing on different swings or ropes and hang from monkey bars. Then, just to make sure every last ounce of energy is expended, parents can buy a few tokens and send the kiddos spinning on a hand-carved carousel horse (or dragon). It’s guaranteed fun, and guaranteed to have them dreaming big dreams when you need to tuck them in and have a little grown-up time.

Festival: Garden City BrewFest For at least the last two years, Mother Nature has made it a little difficult to enjoy this annual celebration of craft beer. Two years ago, it rained for most of the day, and this past year there was a wicked cocktail of scattered showers, strong wind and cool temps. But you know what? None of it matters. The crowds still come. The bands still play. The beer still flows. Missoula turns out for good brews, and with more than 60 to choose from at BrewFest, there’s nothing Mother Nature can do to keep imbibers away.

Finalists, Best Festival 2. River City Roots Festival 3. Hemp Fest

Place for Kids’ Fun: Dragon Hollow and A Carousel for Missoula Many parents tell us the key to surviving long summer days or even longer summer weekends is keeping the little ones as busy as humanly possible. The idea, basically, is to run them ragged so they fall asleep even though it’s still light out way past bedtime. Dragon Hollow and A Carousel for Missoula offer one-stop shopping that makes everyone happy. The kids can run through a maze of dragon-themed tunnels, slide down numerous

Finalists, Best Place for Kids’ Fun 2. Splash Montana 3001 Bancroft 542-9283 3. SpectrUM Discovery Area Skaggs Building, UM Campus 243-4828

Place to Walk Dogs: Blue Mountain Recreation Area One of the coolest things about Blue Mountain is visiting with the different dogs. Aristocratic-looking Weimaraners frolic alongside sweetly disposed yellow labs and Chihuahuas with attitudes. They all have unique personalities and seem happiest when romping in Blue Mountain’s tall grass. (Dogs are allowed to be leash-free at Blue Mountain.) Among the other selling points is the recreation area’s diversity of terrain, which blankets 5,500 acres. Some of it is flat and makes for an easy stroll. Other parts are steeper, meaning if Fido needs a more strenuous romp, you’ll be able to tire him out.

Leader of the Revolution: Ellie Hill While serving as executive director of the Poverello Center homeless shelter, Ellie Hill did battle with NIMBYs and nay-sayers who resisted attempts to move the Pov from its ramshackle Ryman Street digs to a more suitable site. Hill took heat for her efforts. But we can’t help think that her work laid an essential foundation for the shelter’s coming move. The wheels are finally in motion to build a new Pov on West Broadway. Hill, a state lawmaker, stepped down from the Pov last year. She’s now running a reelection campaign against former Missoula City Councilor Lyn Hellegaard in House District 94. Based on what we saw from Hill during the last legislative session, we know we’ll be able to count on her to champion progressive issues, such as reproductive freedom, LGBT equality and the right for individuals and states to craft their own health care directives when it comes to medical marijuana. Indy readers believe there’s nobody better equipped to carry Missoula’s revolutionary values to Helena.

Finalists, Best Place to Walk Dogs 2. Kim Williams Trail 3. Bark Park

Missoula Independent Page 47 Best of Missoula 2012

Best of Missoula  

Missoula Independent's guide to the best the Garden City has to offer.

Best of Missoula  

Missoula Independent's guide to the best the Garden City has to offer.