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ack before there were iPhones, before anyone used the verb “Googled,” before the country of Montenegro officially existed, before anyone worked as an “SEO Specialist” or wrote on a blog, before DVDs had been invented, before Harry Potter was first published or Justin Bieber learned his first word, the Missoula Independent asked its readers to take a couple minutes of their day and tell us what they loved about our town. Back in February 1995, the Best of Missoula issue included nods to Rockin Rudy’s, Bernice’s Bakery and Jill Valley, as well as the Best Newsstand, Best Jukebox and Best Video Rental Store. Twenty years later we’re still doing it. Many things have changed (online voting!) and the issue has definitely gotten bigger (this week marks the paper’s largest page-count ever), but the spirit of our Best of Missoula readers’ poll remains the same. The winners are decided entirely by your votes, and even the categories are tweaked every year based on your suggestions. (Check out 2014’s new arrivals, like Best Museum, Best Brunch and Best Late-Night Munchies.) We can’t begin to imagine what Best of Missoula will look like in another 20 years. Change is inevitable. But we’re willing to bet the issue continues to hold true to the same community spirit that’s fueled it for two decades. Thank you for making this an annual celebration of what’s Best of Missoula. Speaking of celebration, let’s toast 20 years and this year’s winners together. Join us at the Best of Missoula Party at Caras Park Thursday, July 10, at 5 p.m. for live music from The Cold Hard Cash Show and Locksaw Cartel and a DJ set from Aaron Traylor. There will also be food, drinks and special attractions for the whole family. Like the Indy every week, it’s free. photo by Cathrine L. Walters

[2] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014



Best Band Lil’ Smokies They may be named in honor of a popular brand of cocktail wieners, but the Lil’ Smokies are a main course in the Missoula music scene. With Pete Barrett’s guitar, Andy Dunnigan’s dobro, Scott Parker’s upright bass, Matt Cornette’s banjo, Cameron Wilson’s mandolin and Jesse Brown’s fiddle, the Lil’ Smokies stick to the basic instrumentation of bluegrass while pushing their songs into consistently surprising directions. Since starting in 2009, the Lil’ Smokies have played all over town, toured around the Northwest and opened for big acts like Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. Whether they’re playing the Old Post’s back deck or a festival stage in Seattle, the Lil’ Smokies make every show feel intimate and alive. Lil’ Smokies: Finalists, Best Band 2. Tom Catmull & The Clerics: 3. The Cold Hard Cash Show:

Best Musician Tom Catmull Tom Catmull recently put out a solo album called Words & Malady that’s a little darker than his usual pop-folk and Americana stuff. We weren’t surprised, though. In the many years that Catmull has been around Missoula, he’s shown a talent for versatility and he appeals to many different people and their many different moods, which is why he wins this category

almost every year. Is he psychically connected to the musical part of our brain? We wonder. Whether he’s playing an acoustic set at the Symes Hotel or plugged in with his newest group, Tom Catmull’s Radio Static, at the Union Club, Catmull has Missoula under his spell. Tom Catmull: 214-9571, Finalists, Best Musician 2. John Floridis: 3. TIE: Andy Dunnigan: Ryan Maynes

Best New Band MASS FM Musicians in Missoula are like threads in an everevolving tapestry: Constantly weaving around one another, adding color, depth and richness to a picture that’s at once new and nostalgic, solid but never quite done changing. Those elements are on full display with MASS FM—two parts Volumen, two parts Spirit Hole and 100 percent awesome. Guitarist Doug Smith and keyboardist Chris Bacon, both of the now-split Volumen, have joined forces with bassist Chris Baumann and drummer J. Ryan “Dreamer” Weingardt for the kind of punky poppy rocky sound that hits us at both the original and wistful levels. Want your feet to tap? Check. Head to bob? Done. Feel that tickle of reverie that only talent with deep roots in the local music scene can offer? MASS FM has you covered. MASS FM: Finalists, Best New Band 2. No Fancy: 3. Locksaw Cartel:

Best Photographer Brian Powers A couple sits close in an empty field at night and marvels as a wildfire burns through nearby mountains. Newlyweds watch with baffled expressions as a just-popped champagne cork flies through the air. A girl in a pink dress holds a red balloon in the woods. In portraits, wedding photos, engagement shots, family pictures and other works, Brian Powers captures people both at their best and as they are. Whether he’s capturing a candid moment or carefully orchestrating a shot, Powers’ pictures make his subjects look good and make the viewer want to see more. Brian Powers: Finalists, Best Photographer 2. Slikati: 126 E. Broadway St. #11, 274-0592, 3. Cathrine L. Walters:

Best Gallery Dana Gallery Dudley Dana and his staff offer exhibitions that prod at a slippery but important question: What is Western art? The gallery’s Icons of the West show, for instance, featured realistic portraits of cowboys and American Indians alongside more oddball icons (a ceramic Eddy’s Bakery) and political statements (an Indian headdress made of money). Dana attracts artists from across the nation for exhibits like this one, as swell as for its many other shows. With such a rich collection of artists providing such thought-provoking and expertly crafted pieces, it’s no wonder Dana has earned a reputation as Missoula’s—and one of the

country’s—finest galleries. Dana Gallery: 246 N. Higgins Ave, 721-3154, Finalists, Best Art Gallery 2. Monte Dolack Gallery: 139 W. Front St, 549-3248, 3. The Brink Gallery: 111 W. Front St, 728-5251,

Best Museum Missoula Art Museum Right now, the Missoula Art Museum has a rhinoceros in its front yard—a large, life-sized beast that would definitely injure you if it wasn’t, in fact, a metal sculpture. The rhino was carted in from artist Bill Ohrmann’s Drummond studio for a First Friday exhibition. Call them crazy, but that’s just the kind of thing MAM’s staff will do to draw attention to their exhibits, luring you into the museum’s multiple gallery spaces. Besides its rotating display of stunning pieces, MAM often hosts readings and live bands to pair with its art openings, and its four-level space—part modern, part old-fashioned brick—appeals to throngs of wine-drinking patrons and art-loving kids alike. Missoula Art Museum: 335 N. Pattee St, 728-0447, Finalists, Best Museum 2. Children’s Museum: 225 W. Front St, 541-7529, 3. The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula: 3400 Captain Rawn Way, 728-3476, • Best of Missoula 2014 [3]

Best Actor/Actress Jeff Medley Hugh Jackman recently visited Missoula. This made news because Hugh Jackman is Wolverine and because he was nominated for an Oscar for playing Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. But you know what? Hugh Jackman ain’t nothin’ when you have Jeff Medley. Yep, you heard us: Jeff Medley. He recently starred as Thénardier in MCT’s version of Les Misérables and he stole the show. Stole it like Jackman stole our money with Van Helsing. Oh, but Hugh Jackman can sing, you say? Sing?! Our boy Medley can sing and dance. In the last year he starred in performances by Headwaters Dance Co. and Ballet Arts Academy’s The Nutcracker. Medley’s a triple threat. Maybe even a quadruple threat, if there is such a thing. He basically brought back Mr. Rogers—the Mr. Rogers—from the grave for a one-man show titled Won’t You Be My Neighbor? So, sit down Hugh Jackman, and let’s all take a moment to tip our caps to Missoula’s most deserving leading man. Finalists, Best Actor/Actress 2. Lily Gladstone 3. Howard Kingston

Best Artist Monte Dolack Graphic artist Monte Dolack has made a career out of making whimsical landscapes and magical realism por-

Brian Powers Photography

[4] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

traits, like surreal images of fish flying through the sky or ducks hanging out in a bathtub. Dolack has his sterling reputation because people love his vision of Montana— even when he’s digging deep into more serious issues. Consider his recent exhibition Musings on the Contemporary Montana Landscape, in which he artfully mines (pun intended) the tension between the state’s extractive industries and the natural landscape. His award-winning work is part of the collection of the Library of Congress and, more importantly, it adorns local beer bottles from Bayern brewery. Now that’s prestige. Monte Dolack Gallery: 139 W. Front St, 549-3248, Finalists, Best Artist 2. Courtney Blazon: 3. Pumpernickel

Best Dancer Heather Adams The only winner this category has ever known has a funny response when hearing that she’s won again: “Well, thank you, but that’s just not possible.” The humble founder and executive director of the Downtown Dance Collective explains her reaction a couple different ways. First, she says it’s sorta odd to refer to anyone as “best” within a particular art form. Plus, she’s certain that even if you could quantify such a thing, she’s not the best dancer. No, Adams is prob-

photo courtesy of Brian Powers • Best of Missoula 2014 [5]

[6] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

Missoula Art Museum

ably better described as Missoula’s best ambassador of dance. She teaches at and runs the DDC, which is a hub for so many of the area’s dancers. She also choreographs throughout the year for MCT, The Nutcracker and the University of Montana. Adams may not feel she’s the best dancer, strictly speaking, but she’s done so much for dance within the community that she’s certainly deserving, once again, of this honor. Heather Adams: Finalists, Best Dancer 2. Joy French 3. Kali Lindner

Best Filmmaker Andy Smetanka The best is yet to come from Andy Smetanka—or at least the biggest. The local filmmaker, who has long applied his meticulous stop-motion animation technique to music videos for the likes of The Decemberists or short films for the likes of director Guy Maddin, has been hard at work the last two years on a feature-length World War I effort titled And We Were Young. While that much-anticipated project nears completion, it’s not like Smetanka hasn’t satiated his many fans with new work. He scored national publicity last August for contributing animation to the

photo by Cathrine L. Walters

music video of Pearl Jam’s “Mind Your Manners.” You know, just helping arguably the most popular rock band of our time launch its latest album. Not a bad “side project” as Smetanka finishes his first feature. Andy Smetanka: Finalists, Best Filmmaker 2. Alex & Andrew Smith: 3. Doug Hawes Davis:

Best Movie Theater The Wilma Theatre There’s nothing quite like sitting in one of the Wilma’s plush seats, sipping a local ale and taking in an independent film. There’s a lot to like about this old staple of the Missoula scene, like the theater’s eclectic selection of non-mainstream films and its offering of local craft brews. But we tend to come back to one less tangible attraction: its character. Built in 1921, the Wilma’s Louis XIV style, including an old-school balcony and the largest hand-painted ceiling in the state, presents a welcome contrast to boxy cineplexes. It’s easy to see why year after year Indy readers choose the Wilma as their favorite place to watch a film. Wilma Theatre: 131 S. Higgins, 728-2521 • Best of Missoula 2014 [7]

Thank you, Missoula, Eric Ravitz, Doctor/Healthcare Provider, 1st place

Blue Mountain Clinic Health Clinic, 1st place

[8] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

Finalists, Best Movie Theater 2. Carmike Cinemas: 3640 Mullan Rd, 541-7467, 3. Roxy: 718 S. Higgins Ave, 728-9380,

Best Writer Rick Bass Back in 2012, Rick Bass was among seven protesters arrested during a sit-in at the Montana Capitol demanding an end to coal mining on state land. The petroleum–engineer–turned–writer has earned an esteemed reputation for not only sticking to his environmental convictions, but for turning that passion into beautiful prose. His body of work includes well over two dozen short stories, novels, novellas and nonfiction pieces, the settings of which range from his native Texas to the scenic Swan Valley. He’s racked up scores of literary prizes and awards, and even collaborated with acoustic foursome Stellarondo to set some of his rich narratives to music. Bass has done it all while living the kind of quiet good life we’d all love to lead in the secluded Yaak Valley. Fellow writers like Carl Hiaasen have called him a national treasure. Clearly he’s also one of the jewels of the Treasure State. Rick Bass: Finalists, Best Writer 2. Erika Fredrickson: 3. James Lee Burke: MASS FM

photo courtesy of Abi Halland

We are blown away! Thank you, Missoula, for your support.

-The Red Willow Center Crew Finalists Best Alternative Heath Care Provider

We are hosting a

celebration at Red Willow

825 West Kent Avenue • Missoula, MT 721-0033 •

Monday, July 21, 5:30-7:30pm. Join us for light snacks, beverages and door prizes. • Best of Missoula 2014 [9]


Fashion and Beauty Best Day Spa Best Facials

Sorella’s Just thinking about spending a day at Sorella’s makes us melt. Sorella’s offers an array of packages with fitting names like “Queen for a Day,” “Journey to Serenity” and our favorite, “Grand Indulgence.” The Grand Indulgence includes nearly everything the spa has to offer: a hydrotherapy bath, a massage from a professional therapist and a pedicure and manicure that will make your fingers and toes not only look outstanding, but feel incredible. The Indulgence’s grand finale is a facial that will leave your skin feeling as soft as a spring peach. Sorella’s expert estheticians know how to make your skin happy, regardless if it’s time for an anti-aging facial or an acne peel. At Sorella’s, there’s never any doubt that you’ll be pampered, and that’s something Indy readers appreciate. Sorella’s Day Spa: 207 E. Main St, 721-3639, Finalists, Best Day Spa 2. Cedar Creek: 216 W. Main St, 543-0200, 3. Bella Sauvage: 629 Woody St, 541-9032, Finalists, Best Facials 2. Skin Chic: Southgate Mall, 541-8464, Kid Crossing

[10] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

photo by Cathrine L. Walters

3. Cedar Creek: 216 W. Main St, 543-0200,

Best Tattoos Blaque Owl Tattoo There’s a reason that Blaque Owl tattoo artists are booked anywhere from two weeks to two months out. It’s because they do amazing work. Since opening downtown in 2011, Blaque Owl has cultivated a glowing reputation for paying meticulous attention to detail and expertly crafting custom designs to specification. That continued artistry and professionalism is why it’s earned the top spot in our annual readers’ poll for three years in a row. Blaque Owl: 307 N. Higgins, 543-0688, Finalists, Best Tattoo Parlor 2. Painless Steel: 1701 S. Fifth St. W, 728-1191, 3. American Made: 234 W. Front St, 721-3830,

STAFFPICK Best Place to Save a Damsel in Distress People of a certain age may remember a game involving an angry gorilla squaring off against a spry plumber in a barren industrial wasteland, all over a girl. It’s always over a girl, isn’t it? We’re talking about Donkey Kong, of course, the Nintendo arcade game that captured a generation and continues to spark a certain amount of nostalgia (and one especially well done documentary, The King of Kong). For most of us, all these gauzy, eight-bit rendered recollections are just that—something old and unattainable in a world of high-definition gaming consoles that fit nicely next to your living room flat screen. Except at Taco del Sol on Brooks Street. There, hidden behind a décor of snowboards and band stickers, sits a vintage arcade game straight out of your childhood. For a quarter, you can revisit the sticky joystick and one-button control of your youth, jump over flaming barrels and, if you’re lucky, save the girl at the summit of the warehouse. Celebrate with a supreme burrito and a Cold Smoke, if you want. Or just deposit another quarter and go for the high score.

Best Thrift Store Goodwill Even before Goodwill moved last August from its cramped Brooks Street digs to a larger Reserve Street location, the thrift store offered a massive array of clothes, cookware, toys, bedding and random other things—all typically for under $15. Goodwill’s move to Reserve put its previous selection to shame. The thrift store now has an additional 5,000 square feet of retail space, meaning there are even more clothes, furniture and books to peruse—and more proceeds that can go toward Easter Seals Disability Services. Goodwill: 2501 S. Reserve St, 549-6969, Goodwill

Finalists, Best Thrift Store 2. Secret Seconds: Multiple locations, 549-1610, 3. TIE: Zootown Thrift: 1444 W Broadway St, 552-7732, Bargain Corner: 200 S. California St, 543-4926

Best Jewelry Rockin Rudy’s Rockin Rudy’s jewelry selection fills up nearly an entire room. Glass cases overflow with a seemingly endless selection of bracelets, necklaces and rings, jewelry boxes, hair clips and chokers. Gold and silver bands house opal, turquoise and ruby stones. There are rings for big fingers and little fingers, upscale tastes and those that lie on the quirkier side, such as mood rings. Silver and bronze pendants shaped like Montana beckon. Feather earrings made in Missoula dangle not far from a chunky green Columbian copal necklace that even the pickiest fashionista would be proud to wear to a dinner party. Whether you’re a Montana pendant type, or one that leans more toward the Columbian copal, there’s little doubt that Rockin Rudy’s has just the right sparkly accessory. Rockin Rudy’s: 237 Blaine, 542-0077, Finalists, Best Jewelry 2. One Eleven: 125 E. Main St, 541-1600, 3. Barney Jette: 228 N. Higgins Ave, 541-9155,

Best Men’s Clothing Desmonds Think Don Draper got his snazzy duds off sales racks? Heck no. For more than a century, all the most stylish gents have filled out their wardrobes at places where shop owners wield tape measures and friendly banter. Desmonds harkens back to days when the suit-and-tie look wasn’t reserved merely for weddings and business conferences. The store’s racks are a bounty of the latest in men’s fashion. And of course, this being the 21st century and all, there are plenty of quality plaids and polos to be found as well. So when the moths finally have their way with that aging threadbare two-button, do what Draper would and visit this downtown staple. Desmonds: 129 S. Higgins, 728-8233, Finalists, Best Men’s Clothing 2. TIE: Betty’s Divine: 521 S. Higgins, 721-4777, Dillard’s: Southgate Mall, 721-3100, 3. Murdoch’s: 2801 W. Broadway St, 549-2355,

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

Thanks, Missoula!

Since 1995, where tenants and landlords call home.

Finalist 6 years in a row! • Best of Missoula 2014 [11]

[12] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

Best Women’s Clothing Betty’s Divine The recent Missoula Fashion Week made prominent something that local fashionistas have known about for a while: Our little mountain town might not be a designer hotspot, but we can make just as much of an effort to be stylish as anyone. Betty’s Divine, founded and owned by Aimee McQuilkin, is at the forefront of Missoula’s fashion scene. The boutique’s space on the Hip Strip hosts all kinds of independent and locally made vintage-inspired and hip new clothing. But the Betty’s brand goes out much further than the brickand-mortar store; the business has made it a point to sponsor fashion-forward events like Dead Hipster Dance Party and the annual Project Selvedge contest. McQuilkin has also said that she’s passionate about putting money back into the community, and about paying her employees a livable wage and benefits. Now that’s a trend that should never go out of style. Betty’s Divine: 521 S. Higgins, 721-4777, Finalists, Best Women’s Clothing 2. Cloth & Crown: 329 N. Higgins, 542-2626, 3. Apricot Lane: Southgate Mall, 721-2280,

Best Lingerie Victoria’s Secret Statistically, the average woman changes bra sizes six times in her life. And having a well-fitting bra is crucial for comfort, support and providing foundation for the rest of your outfit. Victoria’s Secret at Southgate Mall carries The Wax Bar

photo by Grace Ryan • Best of Missoula 2014 [13]

[14] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

STAFFPICK Best Gift for a Missoula Boozehound Missoula has built up a long and often bizarre list of celebrity connections over the decades. But only one of those involves whiskey, a mustachioed comedian and the words “bung mallet.” Last summer, Montgomery Distillery co-owner Ryan Montgomery commissioned—as a birthday gift for his head distiller—a custom distiller’s mallet from the Los Angeles-based woodshop of Nick Offerman. Offerman is perhaps best known for his role as Ron Swanson on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” and for being generally the manliest man’s man in Hollywood. The mallet quickly became a source of pride for Montgomery Distillery; the Offerman Woodshop even posted a YouTube video this spring of distiller Chad Larrabee putting the mallet through its paces. The project was such a hit with Offerman’s shop that they began making and selling more, for $125 each, under the title “the Offerman Bung Mallet.” an array of pretty and supportive underthings in a range of sizes. There’s also plenty of friendly, relaxed staff trained to help gals find the best fit. And for those times when you’re wearing nothing but a smile, the beauty shelves stock perfumes in classic, elegant bottles. Victoria’s Secret: Southgate Mall, 721-1811, Finalists, Best Lingerie 2. Bella Donna: 208 N. Higgins, 549-4000, 3. Adam & Eve: 1401 W. Broadway, 549-4688,

Best Hairstylist Katt Ahlstrom, Canvas Studios Katt Ahlstrom has had a tough year. The beloved owner of Canvas Studios fell ill with a chronic disease in December and found herself fighting for her life. Missoulians came together for several fundraisers and have continued to support her as she’s gotten her strength back. The stylist has a kick-ass reputation for making ladies’ curls pop and shine. (She also has magically transformed some of us harried new mothers back to our sharp, rock ’n’ roll selves.) We’re glad she’s come back to us, healthy and in good spirits—and our hair seems happy, too. Katt Ahlstrom, Canvas Studios: 429 Madison St, 926-1440, canvas Finalists, Best Hairstylist 2. Anna Wong, Shear Art Salon: 2412 River Rd, 880-1590, 3. Kim DeAnda, Tangles Hairstyling: 275 W. Main St, 728-0343

Best Men’s Haircut Best Women’s Haircut Boom Swagger Salon We know a young professional who used to never get her hair cut. It’s Missoula, you know? You can get away with it. But years ago, when Boom Swagger Salon opened on South Third Street and offered an environment that was both hip to new styles and understanding of Zootown’s mountain chic vibe, she started to book regular appointments with her favorite stylist. Funny how that works, because her partner started doing the same thing. And then, years later, when they had a kid and she grew up, she too got to experience the mix of upscale attention and laid-back feel that Boom Swagger provides. It takes a special place to appeal to Missoula’s varying aesthetic tastes, and when it comes to hair,

Boom Swagger is that place. Boom Swagger Salon: 204 S. 3rd St. W, 830-3192, Finalists, Best Men’s Haircut 2. Man Cave: 315 N Pattee St, 542-2283, 3. Canvas Studios: 429 Madison, 926-1440, Finalists, Best Women’s Haircut 2. Canvas Studios: 429 Madison, 926-1440, 3. Tangles Hairstyling: 275 W. Main St, 728-0343,

Best Shoe Store Hide & Sole You can’t start trying on shoes at Hide & Sole until you’ve had your foot measured. No exceptions. A salesperson sits down with you, finds out about your feet and only then goes into the back to get boxes of boots or sandals or sneakers. With this level of customer service, it’s no surprise Hide & Sole has perennially won this category. But it’s not just great service that keeps people coming to this Higgins Avenue mainstay, it’s also the store’s products and prices. Hide & Sole offers a wide selection of men’s and women’s shoes, with brands ranging from Børn and Birkenstock to Merrell and Red Wing, all of it fairly priced. Hide & Sole: 236 N. Higgins, 549-0666, Finalists, Best Shoe Store 2. Dillard’s: Southgate Mall, 721-3100, 3. Famous Footwear: Southgate Mall, 728-9628; 3205 N. Reserve St, 541-2780

Best Eyewear Uptown Optical If anyone can sell you fancy Danish glasses and quash any concerns that they will make you look pretentious, it is Mary Shull, the down-to-earth owner and optician at Uptown Optical. Shull stocks designer frames from around the world and vintage frames she acquired from her father, a long-time optometrist in rural Mon- • Best of Missoula 2014 [15]

Hide & Sole

tana. Her glasses will make you look smarter and more stylish, but Shull will help ensure you still look like yourself. And since she fabricates lenses on-site, she can quickly and readily replace the frame you just broke, make you a pair of prescription shades or do whatever else you need to see and be seen. Uptown Optical: 111 N. Higgins, #107, 327-9988, Finalists, Best Eyewear 2. Rocky Mountain Eye Center: 700 W. Kent St, 541-3937, 3. Specticca: 319 N. Higgins, 549-5700,

Best Kids’ Clothing Kid Crossing Get in line, wee babies. Kid Crossing’s website cautions shoppers that during peak seasons it can take 4-5 weeks to schedule an appointment to appraise products. Clearly, Missoula parents take this as a sign that Kid Crossing only stocks the best second-hand items, which is why this Paxson Street storefront has gained the edge this year in a perennially competitive category. And because most of us only get a few years out of a decent pair of toddler-sized Nikes anyway, their commitment to recycling quality baby products and kids’ clothing is a welcome resource for kiddos and their parents. Kid Crossing: 1940 Harve Ave, 829-8808, Finalists, Best Kids’ Clothing 2. Whippersnappers: 127 N. Higgins, #B, 728-7400, 3. Coo Baby: 311 N. Higgins Ave, 926-1990,

Best Cosmetics Skin Chic Some things in life require a little hands-on initiative, like that pretty face of yours. YouTube makeup

[16] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

photo by Grace Ryan

tutorials might be free, but they won’t be there to save you from those prom pictures 20 years from now. Skin Chic has been providing healthier makeup products for over 11 years, and strives to meet every individual’s skin needs. They can even book you for a facial or special makeup session to get you ready for that big event, whether it’s the prom, your wedding or a premiere of the latest Adam Sandler movie. Hey, we’ve all got our own ideas of what constitutes an event, okay? Skin Chic: Southgate Mall, 541-8464, Finalists, Best Cosmetics 2. Smooch Cosmetic Boutique: 125 E. Main St, 541-1600, 3. Ulta: 3275 N. Reserve St, 541-9155,

Best Tanning Salon Brown Sugar Tan Spa Some Montanans cope with seasonal depression by taking up skiing or basking in the warm glow of “CSI: Miami” reruns. Whether it’s the overcast blues or just year-round maintenance, Brown Sugar manager Paige Neubauer says winter is their busiest season, serving 90 to 120 customers per day between their Reserve Street and South Russell locations. “Some people do come here just to get out of the gray skies of Montana,” she says. Though the summer months aren’t quite as busy, there are still plenty of folks waiting to get their base layer on for floating season. Brown Sugar: 1220 SW. Higgins, #3, 541-4441 and 3275 N. Reserve St. #B, 830-3013, Finalists, Best Tanning Salon 2. Misty’s Salon & Ultimate Spa: 3101 S. Russell St, 543-0717, 3. Rayz of Lite: 1575 Benton Ave, 543-0205,

Best Waxing The Wax Bar We all have that one bar buddy who was so hellbent on convincing everybody that waxing is a waste of money that he took a roll of duct tape to his legs in defense of his thesis. Everybody had a good laugh until he decided to attempt a full Brazilian. Now we don’t really see him much anymore. Don’t lose any more friends to DIY waxing, and go see Kay over at The Wax Bar on West Main Street. She has earned her stripes helping set up women and men with a full spectrum of hair removal care in a wide range of “uptown” and “downtown” specialties. (Downtown means your legs and nether parts, y’all.) The Wax Bar: 125 W. Main St, 207-3816, Finalists, Best Waxing 2. Canvas Studios: 429 Madison, 926-1440, 3. Skin Chic: Southgate Mall, 541-8464,

Food and Drink


Best Bakery Bernice’s Bakery Bernice’s offers at least eight different cupcake selections at any given time. As is Bernice’s tradition, the cupcake menu on our recent visit was as eclectic as it was enticing. Pink lemonade? Mango iced tea? Chicken-n-waffles? There was even a Siracha cupcake. Don’t worry, the locally owned bakery also excels in traditional fare, making cakes on spec to suit anyone for any occasion, but the creativity and quality is what keeps us coming back. All of the bakery’s fillings, frostings and toppings are made from scratch. Fresh lemons, for instance, are juiced to make lemon curd. Bernice’s takes the same approach with its pies, pastries and croissants. Bernice’s clearly knows what it’s doing when it comes to baking, but what we like best is the fact that for nearly 37 years it’s served as a community gathering place, where locals come together to catch up—often over a couple of cupcakes. Bernice’s Bakery: 190 S. Third St. W, 728-1358,

Finalists, Best Barbecue 2. Dickey’s Barbeque Pit: 143 W. Broadway St, 203-1557, 3. Burns St. Bistro: 1500 Burns St, 543-0719,

Best Breakfast Catalyst Cafe The Catalyst’s win marks a major upset considering The Shack has long dominated this category. But perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. The popular Higgins Avenue cafe has slowly built a following for its morning menu featuring classic offerings of bacon and eggs and omelets, more international dishes like chilaquiles, and healthy options like the house-made granola. The Catalyst’s major hook, though, is probably the rich, cheesy shredded potato casserole baked in a cute little bowl and served in place of regular hash browns. It’s a great breakfast twist and this category’s coup de grâce. Catalyst Cafe: 111 N. Higgins Ave, 542-1337, Finalists, Best Breakfast 2. Paul’s Pancake Parlor: 2305 Brooks St, 728-9071, 3. The Shack Cafe: 222 W. Main St, 549-9903,

Best Convenience Store Grizzly Grocery It’s a particular collegiate tragedy: running short on booze too early. For many a University District denizen, locally owned Grizzly Grocery has saved the day time and time again with an extensive selection of affordable wines and beers, plus keg rentals. And Griz Grosh, as we’re prone to call it, stocks plenty of produce and household items, plus it boasts a new espresso bar. All of which means that sometimes, on the way to grab a six pack, we pick up the jug of milk, loaf of bread and detergent we promised our roommates we’d get, and an Americano to make it through another long, fun night. Grizzly Grocery: 447 Hill St, 721-2679,

Finalists, Best Bakery 2. Black Cat Bake Shop: 2000 W. Broadway, 542-9043, 3. Le Petit Outre: 129 S. Fourth St. W, 543-3311,

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

Best Barbecue

Best Barista

Famous Dave’s There’s a roll of paper towels atop every table inside Famous Dave’s on Reserve Street. That’s because Dave’s food makes you want to forego table manners and get messy. It’s tough not to inhale the ribs, both smoked and grilled, with a rich taste accentuated by Famous Dave’s signature barbecue sauces. We especially like that the place offers a gazillion side dishes. That means we can order macaroni and cheese, fries and mashed potatoes to accompany our heaping pile of ribs and corn muffins. Pass the paper towels, please. Famous Dave’s: 2915 N. Reserve St, 5417427,

Best Brunch Burns Street Bistro Jenny Lynn Fawcett The joke about Burns Street Bistro brunch is: “Put an egg on it.” As in, take any good lunch item and throw a fried egg on it, maybe add a side of candied bacon, and you’ve got brunch. You can get a burger with an egg and bacon on it, and you can also get the classic veggie browns or the rich pork chili verde (both with an egg on top). But the truth is, the popular Westside restaurant doesn’t screw around when it comes to offering delectables for the latemorning hunger pains. The cooks experiment with your taste buds in ways you never imagined, so expect unusual brunch ingredients like short ribs and duck. • Best of Missoula 2014 [17]

One time, they featured a to-die-for breakfast egg roll—sausage, egg and potato wrapped in fried wonton wrapper. But it has yet to appear again. Oh BSB, you’re always such a tease! Besides adventurous good food, BSB has some pretty colorful, fun folks working for them. One of those lovely and badass characters is this year’s Best Barista winner, the unforgettable Jenny Lynn Fawcett. She always makes your coffee drink with a devilish grin, biting wit and a touch of sugar-sweet kindness, which is exactly how you like your coffee, right? She’s also the mastermind behind some of the wildest weekend drink specials, including the Crystal Gayle, which is a latte made with rose water. Burns St. Bistro: 1500 Burns St, 543-0719, Finalists, Best Brunch 2. Caffè Dolce: 500 Brooks St, 830-3055, 3. Old Post: 103 W. Spruce St, 721-7399, Finalists, Best Barista 2. Lexi Klenox, Florence Coffee Company 3. Kyla Keller, The Loose Caboose

Jenny Lynn Fawcett

[18] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

Best Waiter/Waitress Cheryl Nickey, Jakers Don’t expect to see much boasting from Cheryl Nickey for her third–yep, third—win in this competitive category. She’s been a stalwart at Jakers for more than a decade, winning over customers and Indy readers with a simple and steady approach to waiting on tables. She’s unflappable, warmhearted, accommodating, great with kids and even better at remembering faces. Every time we settle in one of Jakers’ plush booths for some loaded potato skins, sizzling steaks and the signature salad bar, Cheryl greets us like old friends. It’s that sort of presence that keeps us going back—and keeps her atop this category. Finalists, Best Waiter/Waitress 2. Jason McMackin, Burns St. Bistro 3. Jenny Lynn Fawcett, Burns St. Bistro

Best Budget Lunch Five on Black Ever since Five on Black opened last year, any hungry Missoulian with $5 in his or her pocket can afford a small bowl of a delicious Brazilian stew called feijoada, brown rice, steamed collared greens, spicy coconut sauce and chimichurri. It seems like it should defy some law of economics to get so much for so little, but appar-

photo by Cathrine L. Walters • Best of Missoula 2014 [19]

ently it doesn’t. Five on Black’s sleek and open space is often packed, especially around lunchtime. And the tables outside on the Higgins Avenue sidewalk are a coveted spot when the weather’s nice. After being selected Best New Restaurant a year ago, this affordable eatery already seems like an institution. Five on Black: 325 N. Higgins, 926-1860, Finalists, Best Budget Lunch 2. Taco del Sol: Multiple locations, 327-8929, 3. The Bridge Pizza: 600 S. Higgins Ave, 542-0002,

Best Produce Best Salad Best Vegetarian Food Good Food Store Come February, the veggie situation around Missoula starts looking pretty bleak. Produce aisles at chain grocery stores are stocked with bruised cucumbers and wilted lettuce. Avocados are nowhere to be found and we begin feeling like we’re going to develop scurvy from vitamin C deficiency. That’s where the Good Food Store comes in. The nonprofit stocks immaculate organics every day, a lot of which end up in its expansive and wildly popular salad bar. The store’s vegetarian food selection is similarly impressive—thank you, on behalf of everyone, for the new hot bar with daily vegetarian options—as are its gluten-free offerings. How dedicated is GFS? It even sells gluten-free pet food. Good Food Store: 1600 S. Third St. W, 541-3663, Famous Dave’s

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photo by Cathrine L. Walters

Finalists, Best Fresh Produce 2. Farmers’ Markets: Downtown Missoula 3. Orange Street Food Farm: 701 S. Orange St, 543-3188, Finalists, Best Salad 2. Romaines: 3075 N. Reserve St, 317-1829, 3. Biga Pizza: 241 W. Main St, 728-2579, Finalists, Best Vegetarian Food 2. Iza Asian Restaurant: 529 S. Higgins, 830-3237, 3. Five on Black: 325 N. Higgins, 926-1860,

Best Tea Butterfly Herbs It’s hard to imagine a more eclectic selection of tea and related paraphernalia than what’s on hand at Butterfly Herbs. There are more than 49 different types of herbal tea alone, including those suited to calm, heal and energize. The caffeinated selection, which encompasses tasty blends such as chocolate cherry and apple spice, is equally awe-inspiring. Topping off the looseleaf options, Butterfly offers a selection of pots and cups. The Higgins Avenue retailer even offers BPA-free thermal brewers for tea drinkers on the go. Butterfly Herbs: 232 N. Higgins Ave, 728-8780, Finalists, Best Tea 2. Lake Missoula Tea Company: 136 E. Broadway St, 529-9477, 3. Liquid Planet: 223 N. Higgins Ave, 541-4541,

Best Doughnuts Treasure State Last year, Missoula was hungry. Hungry for doughnuts. When Treasure State opened its doors in April 2013, it became the Garden City’s first standalone doughnut shop in years. Locals responded by lining up, out the door and down the street, at ridiculously early hours. Treasure State had to close briefly and hire more staff and buy bigger equipment to handle the tide. A year or so later, the fervor has subsided a bit and now, thankfully, it’s not nearly as much of a mad rush to get to the sweet stuff. A recent perusal of the menu tantalizes with orange-and-pistachioglazed cake doughnuts, jelly-filled bismarcks and Nutella bullseyes with fruit jam, plus classic glazed vanilla and chocolate varieties. Who’s hungry? Treasure State Donuts: 400 E. Broadway St, 541-0002, Finalists, Best Doughnuts 2. Rosauers: 2350 S. Reserve St, 721-5430, 3. Albertsons: Multiple locations, 549-2351,

Best Asian Food Best Desserts Mustard Seed For one Indy staffer, Mustard Seed’s green beans are the perfect appetizer: fresh, light and covered in a tangy and garlicky soy-sauce glaze. The rest of Mustard Seed’s menu offers similarly tasty, deceptively simple dishes with generous portions and Asian-style twists, like the black bean and lime halibut or the cashew chicken. Don’t forget to save room for dessert, though—the cakes and pies, also generously portioned, don’t hold back on the rich, often chocolatey goods. The Mustard Seed’s Southgate Mall location is a handy pit-stop when we’re out running errands; but thankfully, it delivers, too, for times when we want those green beans all to ourselves. Mustard Seed: Southgate Mall, 721-7444 Finalists, Best Asian Food 2. Iza Asian Restaurant: 529 S. Higgins, 830-3237,

STAFFPICK Best Way to Make City Minutiae Actually Somewhat Interesting On Feb. 11, roughly 100 policy wonks, gadflies and people who simply like to play participated in the first-ever Missoula Budget Game. Hosted by City Councilwoman Caitlin Copple, City Club Missoula and the Every Voice Engaged Foundation, which facilitates such gatherings across the country, players were granted authority to allocate millions of dollars from a faux city general fund to use as they see fit. Copple launched the game to encourage involvement in the city’s budgeting process. In light of what can be a mind-numbing exercise, hers was a lofty goal—and it was a rousing success. Like municipal Monopoly, locals worked in groups to fund services including police, fire and road maintenance. Some player priorities weren’t surprising, such as an emphasis on establishing broadband infrastructure and funding parks. Other suggestions seemed more far-fetched, like selling the municipal cemetery and using prison labor. Then there was the idea of generating revenue by charging for an urban deer bow-hunting permit. While communities in Virginia, Arkansas and Indiana sanction such hunts, we’re not so sure if cautious Missoulians could stomach such a measure. While we don’t necessarily expect to see Budget Game contestants serving in city government, it’s clear the exercise did exactly what Copple hoped it would—engage the public in a fun and educational process that normally inspires little more than a shrug. • Best of Missoula 2014 [21]

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3. Sa Wad Dee: 221 W. Broadway, 543-9966, Finalists, Best Desserts 2. Bernice’s Bakery: 190 S. Third St. W, 728-1358, 3. Black Cat Bake Shop: 2000 W. Broadway, 542-9043,

Best Milkshake Uptown Diner The 1950s-style Uptown Diner screams for girls in poodle skirts and boys wearing too much pomade sipping from the same milkshake with two straws. But unlike some diners that are all style and no substance, the Uptown has the real deal: 24-ounces of ice-cold shake, blended on demand and served in a frosted glass or a metal cup. The Liquid Pavement made with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, chocolate sauce, Oreo, coffee grounds and a shot of espresso is popular, but the new Nutter Butter shake might be on the rise. Go try one. No bobby socks required. Uptown Diner: 120 N. Higgins, 542-2449,

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

Best Mexican Food El Cazador El Cazador’s food truck is the unheralded king of street tacos in Missoula. Where else can you get tender, salsa-slathered carne asada tacos in corn tortillas while bar hopping downtown on a warm summer night? Our love for those late-night tacos aside, the locally owned, family-run restaurant on the corner of Front and Higgins offers a full menu. There’s always something tantalizing to dive into, like enchiladas rancheras and chimichangas, and ice-cold cervezas to wash ’em down. El Cazador: 101 S. Higgins, 728-3657, Finalists, Best Mexican Food 2. Fiesta en Jalisco: Multiple locations, 728-1323,

photo by Cathrine L. Walters • Best of Missoula 2014 [23]

3. Taco del Sol: Multiple locations, 327-8929,

Best New Restaurant The Laughing Grizzly Keegan Eisenstadt opened the Laughing Grizzly on West Broadway in December, at the location that formerly housed Cyrus Skinner’s Steak House. Eisenstadt calls his establishment’s vibe “whimsical” and “silly.” Mardi Gras beads adorn a bison head above the fireplace and a massive, brightly lit roulette-style wheel near the front door invites patrons to spin it to win a free drink. And the menu? Eisenstad calls it “Montana comfort food, with a little green chili kick,” and he knows what he’s talking about. Eisenstadt used to live in New Mexico and likes his spice. That shows in the restaurant’s fare, which is dotted with items such as the green chili cheeseburger and Mission Mountain Chicken, which, served with a sour cream chili sauce over a roasted red pepper polenta, carries just the right amount of kick. Laughing Grizzly Bar & Grill: 2300 W. Broadway St, 926-3375 Finalists, Best New Restaurant 2. Market on Front: 201 E. Front Street, 541-0246, 3. TIE: Walking Moustache: 206 W. Main St, 549-3800, Romaines: 3075 N. Reserve St, 317-1829,

Best Family-Friendly Restaurant Montana Club A kid-friendly restaurant obviously has to have a good kids’ menu, and The Montana Club offers enough chicken strips, cheeseburgers and sides of fruit and fries to make a child squeal. But if we had to make a guess, it’s probably the drink menu that really makes a kid flip. The blended banana split and the intimidatingly named Peanut Butter Fudge Meltdown are basically the best bribes a parent can think of. Best of all, the staff at this restaurant understand the fear you have of taking a toddler into a public eating establishment, and they’ve got the crayons and patient smiles to prove it. Montana Club: Multiple locations, 543-3200, Finalists, Best Family-Friendly Restaurant 2. TIE: Red Robin: Southgate Mall, 830-3170, Top Hat Lounge: 134 W. Front St, 728-9865, 3. Burns St. Bistro: 1500 Burns St, 543-0719,

Best Liquor Store Grizzly Liquor We appreciate that Grizzly Liquor employees don’t scoff when we ask what the difference is between scotch and bourbon. Nor do they cast a sideways

[24] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

glance when we load up on multiple bottles of lowpriced tequila in advance of one of our weekend binges. What’s more, when the Indy needed booze for a taste-testing last year in advance of a feature story about local spirits, Grizzly Liquor was able to provide everything on our wish list from its deep selection of Montana-made products. The staff is great, but it’s that eclectic and ever-growing selection of spirits that really sets Grizzly Liquor apart. Grizzly Liquor: 110 W. Spruce St, 549-7723, Finalists, Best Liquor Store 2. Krisco Liquor: 1300 S. Reserve, 549-7242, 3. Diamond Jim’s: 1605 S. Russell St, 541-6711

Best Outdoor Dining Iron Horse As soon as winter breaks, locals start streaming outside. And with summer light stretching past 10 at night, the trick is finding ways to avoid having to head inside while also meeting basic needs like eating good food and drinking cold beer. That’s why so many of us head to the Iron Horse. There’s a patio out front that looks out on downtown, a cozy but bustling courtyard and a second-floor deck that keeps diners above the fray. With so much outdoor seating, plus good food and cold drinks, the Iron Horse is the place to go when you’re looking to dine under the Big Sky. Iron Horse: 501 N. Higgins Ave, 728-8866, Finalists, Best Outdoor Dining 2. Finn & Porter, DoubleTree Hotel: 100 Madison St., 542-4660, 3. Plonk Wine: 322 N. Higgins Ave, 926-1791,

Best Restaurant Best Restaurant Service Best Romantic Dining The Pearl The restaurant’s slogan is “Country Fare with a City Flair,” and one peek at the menu shows how owner Pearl Cash has created such a wonderful niche for Missoula’s fine dining fans. The menu is heavy on the French cuisine—Cash’s passion—but there is enough variety to suit any taste. For the Ron Swanson in your group, there’s their legendary filet mignon. Seafood lovers have a trawler full of choices from salmon to shellfish, and of course there are the traditional French dishes such as rabbit with red wine, duckling with pomegranate cherry sauce and the venerable escargot in mushroom caps. Beyond the menu, diners at the Pearl are treated to exceptional service and an intimate setting. This type of triple threat makes it a no-brainer for date night—or any time you’re looking to get the culinary pampering you deserve. The Pearl Cafe: 231 E. Front St, 541-0231, Finalists, Best Restaurant 2. The Red Bird: 111 N. Higgins, 549-2906, 3. Burns St. Bistro: 1500 Burns St, 543-0719,

Finalists, Best Restaurant Service 2. The Red Bird: 111 N. Higgins, 549-2906, 3. Jakers Bar & Grill: 3515 Brooks St, 721-1312, Finalists, Best Romantic Dining 2. The Red Bird: 111 N. Higgins, 549-2906, 3. TIE: Plonk: 322 N. Higgins Ave, 926-1791, Scotty’s Table: 131 S. Higgins Ave U3, 549-2790,

Best Restaurant Wine List The Red Bird Everyone knows you can’t call it champagne unless it hails from France’s Champagne Province. Props to Red Bird, then, for bucking the restaurant trend and listing those bottles as “Bubblies.” Not that we’d expect anything less from a classy, cozy, candlelit spot like this. Wine by the glass, wine by the bottle, even wine by the half-bottle—Red Bird has the makings of all kinds of outings, from friendly gatherings to intimate nights out. The choices, be they merlot, riesling, viognier or rhone, are many, and if you time the evening right, those tannins will come complete with

Iron Horse


photo by Cathrine L. Walters

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Best David and Goliath Story When it comes to beer, Missoula doesn’t mess around. Neither, apparently, does its breweries. On Dec. 20, Big Sky Brewing Co. filed a lawsuit in federal court against Anheuser-Busch, alleging that the brewing Goliath stole its trademarked meme, “Hold my beer and watch this,” for a Bud Light campaign directed by actor John Krasinski. The makers of Moose Drool and Scape Goat argued in the suit that they trademarked the slogan in 2009 and, as such, Anheuser-Busch unlawfully used it in a series of promotional videos released on YouTube. Krasinski, who’s best known for his role in “The Office,” created the Bud Light videos in an effort to, as The New York Times put it, feature “the opposite of what typically goes on in beer ads that celebrate dudes and bros.” In one video, titled “Nana,” an elderly woman celebrating her 100th birthday asks a partygoer to, “Hold my beer and watch this,” before feigning death. In the days after Anheuser-Busch released the videos, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal highlighted the series as an example of Anheuser-Busch’s increasingly contemporary approach to advertising. Locals, meanwhile, grumbled that the world’s largest brewer shouldn’t be allowed to get away with stealing from the little guy. And it didn’t. One month after Big Sky sued, Anheuser-Busch removed its “Hold my beer” videos. live tunes at the restaurant’s wine bar. The Red Bird: 111 N. Higgins, 549-2906,

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Finalists, Best Restaurant Wine List 2. Plonk: 322 N. Higgins Ave, 926-1791, 3. Caffè Dolce: 500 Brooks St, 830-3055,

Best Seafood


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[26] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

Finn & Porter The difficulty and delicacy of oyster farming means these pearls of the seafood world can be pricey, especially when served raw and fresh and far from the ocean. At Finn & Porter, they’ve found a way to make their oysters affordable without compromising on quality. During Happy Hour, which runs weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m., oysters are only $1.50 each. Though the price rises slightly during dinner, oysters are just the beginning of Finn & Porter’s expansive seafood menu, which also includes calamari, ahi tuna, shrimp and crab. And when your order is served to you while you look out on the Clark Fork, everything only tastes that much better. Finn & Porter, DoubleTree Hotel: 100 Madison St., 542-4660, Finalists, Best Seafood 2. The Depot: 201 Railroad St. W, 728-7007,

3. Sushi Hana: 403 N. Higgins, 549-7979,

Best Steak Lolo Creek Steakhouse The debate rages on among grilling aficionados: Is it okay to cut into the steak to see if it’s done? Or is that a sinful slice that will allow the vital fluids to seep out? We don’t know, but the research at Lolo Creek Steakhouse is delicious. Enjoy a tasty adult beverage and admire the impressive collection of mounts while your steak sizzles on their massive 4-by-8 grill. And if you’re in the mood for something besides beef, they also offer seafood, chops and chicken, all prepared and served with the expertise that has kept them on top of the steak heap for years. Lolo Creek Steakhouse: 6600 Highway 12 W, Lolo, 273-2622, Finalists, Best Steak 2. The Depot: 201 Railroad St. W, 728-7007, 3. The Pearl Cafe: 231 E. Front St, 541-0231,

Best Supermarket Best Retail Beer Selection Orange Street Food Farm Craig Holtet’s link to the Orange Street Food Farm goes way back—to before he was even born. His grand- • Best of Missoula 2014 [27]

parents shopped at the store, as did his parents. Needless to say, Holtet has shopped there for pretty much his entire life, too. So when he and and Ron Ramsbacher bought the business this January, they were mindful not to tamper with what has made the Food Farm such a Missoula mainstay, including the reliably good music played over the store’s P.A. system. “I don’t think anything’s really changed,” Holtet says. “We’ve just added some selection, and we keep the price down.” The formula is working. This year, the Food Farm takes top billing in the Best Supermarket category from a perennial winner, the Good Food Store. There are no changes, however, when it comes to beer selection, as the Food Farm continues its reign. Holtet, though, is reluctant to take credit for the victories. “I think it’s the customers that make the store,” he says. The customers’ kindness to each other, he says, imbues the Food Farm’s aisles with a good feeling that draws other shoppers in. In return, the customers do make one demand, Holtet says: “‘Don’t change the music.’ I probably hear that five times a day.” Orange Street Food Farm: 701 S. Orange St, 543-3188, Finalists, Best Supermarket 2. Good Food Store: 1600 S. Third St. W, 541-3663, 3. Rosauers: 2350 S. Reserve St, 721-5430,

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[28] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

photo by Cathrine L. Walters

Finalists, Best Retail Beer Selection 2. Worden’s Market & Deli: 451 N. Higgins, 549-1293,

3. Pattee Creek Market: 704 SW. Higgins, 543-8143,

Best Place to Eat Alone Taco del Sol Missoula’s favorite spot for lonesome loners to tie on the feedbag is a dichotomy: The downtown location is also one of the best eateries to see (and be seen by) friends, thereby assuring others that you are not, in fact, sealed up in your apartment with 19 cats guarding your body. You can have a cold brew with one of Missoula’s best fish tacos, and grab a spot at the window so you can watch the colorful characters stroll by. And if you happen to frequent one of the other three Missoula locations? You’re still scoring a primo burrito made with some serious love. Taco del Sol: Multiple locations, 327-8929, Finalists, Best Place to Eat Alone 2. The Bridge Pizza: 600 S. Higgins Ave, 542-0002, 3. Five on Black: 325 N. Higgins, 926-1860,

Best Caterer Two Sisters The Two Sisters Café in Babb boasts the best huckleberry pie in Montana. We haven’t had the pleasure, but if the bill of fare offered by Two Sisters Catering is any indication, that boast is well-deserved. Beth and Susan Higgins started running their catering business out of their since-closed downtown restaurant eight years ago, and now they inhabit that greatsmelling kitchen in the Florence Building. They won their first “Best of Missoula” award in 2008 and never looked back. Two Sisters’ amazing menu, frequent holiday brunches and team of cheerful servers have made hundreds of parties and weddings events to remember, with food to die for. Two Sisters: 111 N. Higgins, 549-3005, Finalists, Best Caterer 2. Bravo!: 224 N. Higgins, 541-4900, 3. Burns St. Bistro: 1500 Burns St, 543-0719,

Best Retail Wine Selection Worden’s Market & Deli We recently needed a nice bottle of malbec for someone’s birthday and approached the knowledgable folks at Worden’s for some help. Chris, aka The Wine Guy, aka Worden’s official wine steward, wasn’t in, but a host of other staff were ready and willing to help with our pretty basic search: We needed something nicer than the usual $10 bottle our friend normally drinks, but not something that would break the bank. In a matter of seconds, we had more options than we knew what to do with—and one last helpful nudge to a $20 South American malbec that would “make anyone feel special on their birthday.” That’s why Worden’s wins this category—a selection and know-how that makes wine shopping easy and the ensuing imbibing that much better. Worden’s Market & Deli: 451 N. Higgins, 549-1293,

Finalists, Best Retail Wine Selection 2. CVS: 1914 Brooks St, 728-1380, 3. Orange Street Food Farm: 701 S. Orange St, 543-3188,

Best Appetizers Top Hat Lounge The Top Hat’s gone through some major changes in the past two years: New ownership, an extensive and spacious remodel, more and bigger concerts, movie screenings on an impressive projection screen. One of the most notable facets of the new Top Hat is the addition of a delectable tapas menu, and the food continues to wow. Stone-fired flatbreads with Bitterroot cherries and curried cashews, bacon-wrapped dates with buttermilk bleu cheese, that lip-smacking sherry honey aioli—it’s enough to make taste buds dance like late-night revelers on the Top Hat dance floor. The restaurant has also taken to hosting seasonal craft beer dinners, partnering with area brewers to pair good eats with good drinks. One look at a menu and it comes as no surprise that the four such dinners to date have completely sold out. Top Hat Lounge: 134 W. Front St, 728-9865, Finalists, Best Appetizers 2. Jakers Bar & Grill: 3515 Brooks St, 721-1312, 3. Silk Road: 515 S. Higgins, 541-0752,

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Best Coffee Florence Coffee Company Thursdays are pretty rocking days at your nearest Florence Coffee hut. That’s when the family-owned Montana operation throws down with a weekly special: two-for-one huckleberry smoothies, two-for-one drip coffees, two-for-one daffodil lattes. All it takes is a codeword—distributed via Florence Coffee’s regular Facebook updates—to make that Thursday carpool to work or your favorite fishing hole that much cheaper. The company’s been around for 11 years now, one for each of its 11 huts in Helena, Butte, Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley. In other words, they know coffee, and they know how you like it. Florence Coffee Company: Multiple locations, 546-3538, Finalists, Best Coffee 2. Black Coffee Roasting: 1515 Wyoming St. #200, 541-3700, 3. The Loose Caboose: Multiple locations, 541-1748,

Best Coffee Hut Loose Caboose Even after lunchtime, Katie Barnes still sees quite a few caff-heads rolling through the newest Loose Caboose stop on South Reserve just north of the Old Highway 93 intersection. It’s the coffee hut champion’s fifth location in town. Though they’re still able to up the ante with artful concoctions like the Dazzleberry (a latte featuring raspberry, hazelnut and Irish cream flavors) it’s the hardcore purists that daz- • Best of Missoula 2014 [29]

zle Barnes. “There’s a guy who comes in and just gets four shots of espresso,” Barnes says, “which amazes me.” The Loose Caboose: Multiple locations, 5411748, Finalists, Best Coffee Hut 2. Florence Coffee Company: Multiple locations, 546-3538, 3. Liquid Planet: Multiple locations, 541-4541,

Best Ice Cream/ Frozen Yogurt Big Dipper Here’s a valuable tip when planning that next foray to Big Dipper: The Super Nova is not a solo mission. We’re talking one gigantic brownie, six scoops of ice cream, six different toppings and a generous helping of whipped cream. This $13 testament to appetite makes a double-scoop maple walnut with chocolate dip look like child’s play. But at Big Dipper, temptation is something to give into fully. Like astronauts setting their sights on the surface of the moon, many locals have no doubt felt the urge to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. The best course of action in tackling the Super Nova? Find the Buzz Aldrin to your Neil Armstrong. One small scoop for you, one giant brownie for Missoula kind. Big Dipper: 631 S. Higgins, 543-5722,

Laughing Grizzly

[30] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

photo by Cathrine L. Walters

Finalists, Best Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt 2. U-Swirl: 1220 SW. Higgins Ave, 926-1967,

3. Dairy Queen: Multiple locations, 549-6075,

Best Sandwich Shop Doc’s Ever notice the stained glass above the door at Doc’s? It’d be easy to mistake the D.O.C. as a reference to the famed fictional and nonfictional doctors featured on the menu at Missoula’s favorite sandwich joint. But in fact, the sign stands for the initials of Doc’s founder, Dave O. Conrad. For nearly two decades, the shop has enjoyed a loyal following of hungry diners eager to fill their bellies with turkey and stuffing, hummus and cucumber, the aptly named Doc’s hangover stew and more. While the medical theme may be its calling card, that subtle front-door hint at Doc’s origins gives the place an added sense of community history. Doc’s Gourmet Sandwich Shop: 214 N. Higgins, 542-7414, Finalists, Best Sandwich Shop 2. Tagliare: 1433 S. Higgins, 830-3049, 3. Dan’s Soup and San: 2730 S. Reserve St, 549-7263,

Best Pizza Biga Pizza

Best Chef Bob Mashall Saying Bob Marshall loves pizza is only telling half the story. The man isn’t just a fan of fresh mozzarella and Hungarian mushroom, he’s devoted years to sharing his passion—and his skills in the kitchen— with everyone in town. He estimates Biga Pizza serves up, on average, about 200 pies a day. But given that Missoula can’t get enough of a good thing, business can get crazy sometimes. As in, 200-pizzas-in-fivehours crazy. That’s about one pie every 90 seconds. Marshall admits the gig can get exhausting. So what keeps his spirits up? “When I hear ‘Happy Birthday’ being sung at table seven, or someone takes the time to come up to me on their way out to tell me how amazing their food was, it puts all that energy back in my tank,” he says. Guess it’s the least Missoula can do for the guy who, year in and year out, puts some tasty energy in our own tanks. Biga Pizza: 241 W. Main St, 728-2579, Finalists, Best Pizza 2. The Bridge Pizza: 600 S. Higgins Ave, 542-0002, 3. MacKenzie River Pizza Company: Multiple locations, 721-0077, Finalists, Best Chef 2. Walker Hunter & Ryan Smith, Burns St. Bistro 3. Beth Higgins, Two Sisters

Best Pizza Delivery The Bridge Pizza When the folks at the Bridge tell you your order will arrive in 40 minutes, be ready with the cash in 30. Speedy delivery is pretty much a constant seven days a week, which means that Higgins Avenue

(crushed walnut, Gorgonzola and red onion on a white sauce) will be all the hotter and fresher when it hits your front step. The Bridge knows that when you call, the clock starts ticking. And the less time that passes between the oven and your mouth, the better. The Bridge Pizza: 600 S. Higgins, 542-0002, Finalists, Best Pizza Delivery 2. Zimorino’s: 1250 W. Broadway, 541-7437, 3. Howard’s Pizza: 2010 South Avenue W, 721-2011,

STAFFPICK Best Way to Get to Know Your State Montana’s a pretty big place— 147,164 square miles, to be exact—and the plethora of stories out there can be overwhelming. Curious how a Missoula bartender mixes the perfect cocktail, or why a Yellowstone fly-fishing guide chose to live life by rod and reel? Thanks to a partnership between Missoula-based High Plains Films and the Montana Film Office, those tales are now available at the click of a button. The Montana Experience: Stories from Big Sky Country—a YouTube channel launched last fall—is fast becoming an archive for everything from state history to environmental issues to footage of The Gourds playing live on The Trail 103.3. It’s easy to lose oneself for hours in the collection, which includes documentary shorts and longer pieces by a host of Montana filmmakers. But you’ll walk away from each video feeling more connected to this place, and wondering what other stories are out there for you to find.

Best Delicatessen Tagliare When asking Tagliare’s Cheryl Bregen about the deli’s most popular sandwiches, it’s impossible to keep our mouths from watering. The Megadeath tops the list, a delectable mix of ham, hot sopressata, pepperoni, smoked mozzarella and slaw (to name, uh, half the ingredients). Next up is the Pretender—fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and marinated onions, with some prosciutto thrown in. We could continue on down the menu, all that chutney, pesto, pastrami and relish, but our stomachs can only take so much talk. When it comes to Tagliare, it’s time to eat. 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. Third St. W, 541-3663, • Best of Missoula 2014 [31]

[32] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014 • Best of Missoula 2014 [33]

[32] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014 • Best of Missoula 2014 [33]

Best Burger Best French Fries Five Guys Burger & Fries For the second year in a row Missoula’s burger champion was caught double-dipping by wolfing down the best fries trophy as well. The East Coastbased burger chain first proved its worth by tying with downtown Missoula’s Mo Club for best burger in 2010. This year’s victory qualifies them for a legit winning streak, with its no-nonsense bacon cheeseburgers that most “doctors” would prescribe for the worst hangover. The voters agree these guys at Five Guys Burgers & Fries know exactly what they’re doing. Five Guys Burgers & Fries: 820 E. Broadway, 830-3262, Finalists, Best Burger 2. The Missoula Club: 139 W. Main St, 728-3740 3. Red Robin: Southgate Mall, 830-3170, Finalists, Best French Fries 2. James Bar: 127 W. Alder St, 721-8158, 3. Iron Horse: 501 N. Higgins Ave, 728-8866,

Best Wings Desperado Despo’s only has two settings for its hot wings: Hot and Sissy. The hot wings aren’t guilty of false advertising, but the sissy wings won’t listen to your problems either, because even they will make you sweat for a minute. But Despo’s doesn’t take the easy way out and just bludgeon you with heat. The brilliant flavor behind it all is well worth a moment of pain. (There’s also teriyaki, barbecue and garlic pepper sauce flavors, if you want another way out.) And if you can’t cope with the heat, rest easy: There are more than 25 televisions’ worth of sports to take your mind off your mouth. Desperado Sports Tavern: 3101 S. Russell St, 549-9651, Finalists, Best Wings 2. Buffalo Wild Wings: 2615 Radio Way, 829-9464, 3. Old Post: 103 W. Spruce St, 721-7399,


Goods and Services Best Antiques

Montana Antique Mall The Montana Antique Mall is an emporium of the past. Even the building it occupies is an antique. The former hotel was built in 1890 and is one of downtown’s oldest standing structures. Today, climbing the building’s narrow stairs, visitors are brought back in time. The rooms are stocked with road maps from before the creation of the Interstate Highway System, vintage postcards printed in sepia tones and furniture that has cycled in and out of style more than once. It’s a place to browse and wander, and it’s nearly impossible not to leave without some treasure

[34] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

you didn’t know you were looking for. Montana Antique Mall: 331 Railroad St, 721-5366, Finalists, Best Antiques 2. Circle Square Second Hand Store: 519 N. Higgins, 549-3512, 3. China Woods: 716 N. Dickens St, 550-2511,

Best Adult Store Adam & Eve Sex is supposed to be fun and liberating—at least that’s what they said in the late 1960s—and not a gross sleaze fest or a shameful sin. Adam & Eve treats sex as if it was as natural as, well, sex. With a safe, brightly lit space that offers something close to a department store atmosphere, this sex shop caters to men, women and couples. Adam & Eve: 1401 W. Broadway St, 549-4688, Finalists, Best Adult Store 2. Fantasy For Adults: 2611 Brooks St, 542-1801, 3. Midnight Dreams: 2700 Paxson St, #C1, 542-6227,

Best Bank/Credit Union Missoula Federal Credit Union Many financial experts agree that credit unions are a good option for personal banking; on average, they offer cheaper rates on loans and higher interest rates on savings than bank chains, according to the National Credit Union Administration. Plus, for that first small loan for a car or truck, a credit union is most likely to deal with you like a person. Missoula Federal Credit Union offers all the benefits of a credit union with a friendly, local touch, plus paperless billing and reasonable options for checking and savings accounts, whether you’re counting pennies or socking away the big bucks. 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,

Best Big Box Store Target It is never smart to spend more than $4 on something you know you’re going to lose—and lose soon. That’s why we go to Target every winter, head directly to menswear and replace the beanie we just lost. Then we remember we need dog food. And lightbulbs. And mascara. And a cheap DVD. The aisles are crowded with people like us—people finding everything they forgot they needed—but the checkout lines are mercifully short. We never leave with just the hat, but we’re always out of there before too long. And that’s really why we keep going back. 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; 4000 Hwy 93 S, 251-6060,

Best Bookstore The Book Exchange One of the most striking aspects of The Book Exchange is its extensive collection of books relating to Montana people and activities. You can find a shelf on hunting and guns with titles like Deerland: America’s Hunt for Ecological Balance & the Essence of Wilderness, a shelf of outdoor adventure books and another showcasing Montana literature, from memoirs to Western cowboy stories. Trade in a box of books from your own stash and get credit to buy

Finalists, Best Dry Cleaner 2. Missoula Textile: Multiple locations, 543-5171, 3. Fresh Natural Cleaners: 1132 SW. Higgins, 542-8100, Finalists, Best Laundromat 2. Sparkle Laundry: 812 S. Higgins, 721-5146 3. South Campus Laundry: 2301 S. Higgins Ave,

Best Motorcycle/ATV Dealer Grizzly Harley-Davidson Let’s face it, gas prices ain’t going down any time soon. And while electric and hybrid cars can be a more eco-friendly way to cruise around, there aren’t any Step-

STAFFPICK Best Place to Heckle the Opposition Glacier Ice Rink, home of the Missoula Maulers hockey team, is an intimate, barebones space that amplifies like nowhere else in town the live experience of watching sports. The Maulers players are mostly kids ranging from 16 to 20 years old who come from as far away as Sweden, Saskatchewan and California to play in an amateur league that offers them a blueline slapshot’s chance of going on to a collegiate or professional career. The stakes are at once very low and very high, and the atmosphere inside GIR is at once relaxed and charged. This is no more true than in the corner stands farthest from GIR’s main entrance, where the cheap seats are situated. There, in metal bleachers like what you might find on the sideline of a high school football field, the crowd is a potent mix of diehard Maulers fans and the diehard fans of whatever team is visiting. It’s where you can bang on the glass, spill your beer, trash-talk the opposing team’s goalie and have the father of the opposing team’s goalie heckle you back. (Sorry again, Mr. Wackerley.) more. Get a cup of coffee from the Liquid Planet counter inside the shop and browse for hours. It’s an 11,000-square-foot vortex in there—a dangerous place if you already have a serious book addiction. Book Exchange: 2335 Brooks St, 728-6342 Finalists, Best Bookstore 2. Shakespeare & Co.: 103 S. Third St. W, 549-9010, 3. Fact & Fiction: 220 N. Higgins, 721-2881,

Best Dry Cleaner Best Laundromat Green Hanger We can’t speak for everyone, but we only do our laundry when we have no other choice—when our drawers are empty, our hampers are overflowing and nothing can be salvaged for one more wear. When that happens, the Green Hanger is at the top of our— and our readers’—list of places to go. The Green Hanger has two locations, one near campus and the other just south of the Hip Strip. Both spots offer a wash, dry and fold service, but we generally find ourselves sticking around through the spin cycles and dry times. The Green Hanger’s easy setup and comfortable atmosphere make it easy. Green Hanger: Multiple locations, 728-1948,

penwolf songs about Priuses. Consider, perhaps, one of the more badass yet efficient modes of transportation that bikers have known about for decades. Motorcycle drivers report getting an average of 56 miles to the gallon, according to a survey from Allstate Insurance. Grizzly Harley-Davidson offers a lineup of gleaming hogs, from tricked-out touring Electra Glides to sleek Sportsters, and all the shiny chrome and sleek black leather accessories you’ll want for a smooth ride with low emissions and mega cool factor. Grizzly Harley-Davidson: 5106 E. Harrier Dr, 721-2154, Finalists, Best Motorcycle/ATV Dealer 2. Kurt’s Polaris: 2904 W. Broadway, 541-3651, 3. Big Sky Motorsports: 2315 South Ave. W, 721-5341,

Best Store for Musical Instruments Morgenroth Lots of studies find that music affects us in ways we don’t even realize, from enhancing our mood to improving our creativity. Playing music does even more, by improving our motor skills and language abilities. Children who had at least three years of music-playing experience were more dextrous and had better auditory discrimination abilities than those who didn’t, according to a 2008 study by Harvard researchers. So if you’d like to get your kid off to the • Best of Missoula 2014 [35]


right start, or just enhance your own brainpower, Morgenroth has all the tools you need, from guitars to saxophones to sheet music, plus lessons and expertise offered by the staff. And as the Morgenroth motto goes, “Life is short ... don’t forget to play.” Morgenroth Music: 1105 W. Sussex Ave, 549-0013,

orating, model building and the fluctuation in quality of resin-based doll eyes, among other things. Pretenders come and go, but no hobby/craft store in Missoula has been able to match the vibe of this locally owned mecca for hobbyists. Treasure Chest: 1612 Benton Ave, 549-7992

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

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

Best Home Electronics Best Toy Store


Walking Stick Toys Owner Erika Hickey has run Walking Stick Toys for the last nine years, growing it from a tiny space to a much bigger, ever more magical toy shop. The place has been a go-to for baby shower gifts and environmentally friendly, toxic-free toys that make parents feel pretty good about themselves in a world in which they feel little control. Wooden cameras and tea sets have a more permanent feel than the plastic junk that seems to mindlessly reproduce in supermarket aisles. The Hip Strip storefront is for sale, which makes its win that much more bittersweet. Walking Stick Toys: 829 S. Higgins, 543-1179, Finalists, Best Toy Store 2. Imagination Station: 227 N. Higgins Ave., 926-3325, 3. Rockin Rudy’s: 237 Blaine, 542-0077,

Best Camera/Photo Store The Dark Room Locals recently learned that this longtime anchor of the Higgins and Main intersection is moving. Luckily, it’s only going a few feet, from its street-level location to a space in the same building’s basement. This is great news for those of us who still want our memories captured on film, developed in a chemical bath and preserved on paper. But The Dark Room is more than a place to preserve memories. The shop has an expert staff, extensive repair services and a wide selection of digital and analog gear, all of which will continue in the new location. Dark Room: 135 N. Higgins, 549-1070, Finalists, Best Camera/Photo Store 2. Best Buy: 2640 N. Reserve St, 829-0409, 3. Walmart: 3555 Mullan Rd, 829-8489; 4000 Hwy 93 S, 251-6060,

Best Hobby/Craft Store Treasure Chest Treasure Chest is so much more than a retailer. It’s a clubhouse where hobbyists hang out with likeminded folks and talk HO trains, RC planes, cake dec-

[36] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

Best Buy Finding the right gear for your technological needs these days can be intimidating. Do you need a laptop, tablet, e-reader or smartphone? Are desktops just so passé as to be out of the question? Get the answers to these questions and more from the friendly folks at Best Buy. We also appreciate the repair services, frequent sales and price-matching. And bargain hunters take note, you can browse the open-box clearance section online, and then hop down to the store to snag the gear. Best Buy: 2640 N. Reserve St, 829-0409, Finalists, Best Home Electronics 2. Sears: Southgate Mall, 523-3200, 3. Costco: 3220 N. Reserve, 721-1535,

Best Home Appliances Sears “Honey, our [insert large, important home appliance here] has died, and the [insert important life event] is tomorrow! What’ll we do?” You do what a lot of us do: grab the car keys and head to Sears. Their selection of quality home appliances like Kenmore and Whirlpool, coupled with delivery, setup and killer service after the sale make Sears a no-brainer for so many Missoulians when your [insert electric marvel of the industrial revolution here] craps out on you. Sears: Southgate Mall, 523-3200, Finalists, Best Home Appliances 2. Fred’s Appliance: 4949 Buckhouse Ln, 251-7132, 3. Lowes: 3100 N. Reserve St, 329-1800,

Best Computer Repair Computer Central Whether it’s the feeling of dread caused by a blue screen error, or headaches brought on by problems with your network, technology glitches are a major drain on your peace of mind, not to mention your company’s productivity. The team at Computer Central gets that. For the fifth year running, they’ve been voted Missoula’s best computer repair. Their network techs are certified with Microsoft, Cisco, Dell and Toshiba, so they know how to get you rebooted and

running again without any more stress. Computer Central: 136 E. Broadway, 542-6540, Finalists, Best Computer Repair Shop 2. Computer Guys: 2240 South Avenue W, 542-2800, 3. Recompute Computers: 1337 W. Broadway, 543-287,

Best Head Shop Piece of Mind A sign on the cases that contain Piece of Mind’s mind-bogglingly diverse array of “tobacco” paraphernalia warns customers not to touch the glass. It’s a good reminder, because the temptation is to lean in for a closer look. There’s so much to see, so much to consider. Do you want a glass pipe that resembles a squid or a wooden bowl that comes in a handsome case? Do you want a locally made one-hitter or a plastic bong that will be impervious to late-night tumbles off your coffee table? However you answer these questions, Piece of Mind has you covered. Piece of Mind: 123 W. Main St, 830-3206, Finalists, Best Head Shop 2. Mellow Mood: 630 S. Higgins Ave, 728-0777, 3. Atmosphere Smoke Shop: 115 W. Main St, 728-4420,

Anne Jablonski

photo by Cathrine L. Walters


Western Montana Clinic


406.721.5600 800.525.5688


406.721.5600 • 800.525.5688






CARING FOR YOU SINCE 1922 • Best of Missoula 2014 [37]

STAFFPICK Best Introduction to Sublime (no, really, we swear it’s good) Like turning water into wine or walking on water, playing an exciting, inventive, unironic and joyful cover of a Sublime song should not be possible. So a sort of miracle occurred very late one recent Friday night, in the back room of the Ole Beck VFW Post 209, when Missoula’s own Golden Poppy Tribe did a strangely powerful rendition of “Smoke Two Joints.” It’s true, Sublime purists, that “Smoke Two Joints” wasn’t technically a Sublime original either, but the Golden Poppy Tribe wasn’t covering The Toyes, who wrote the tune. They were taking an excruciatingly overplayed hit and turning it, alchemically, into something entirely new and exciting using nothing more than an acoustic guitar, a stand-up bass, rousing vocals and a barebones drum set expertly played by someone sitting on the floor. They did the same for Lil John’s “Get Low” (To the window/To the wall). But the members of the Tribe—guitarist and vocalist Tyler Chapman, singer Tray Rippetoe, bassist Erick Knol and drummer Katie McCluer—played more than just covers that night. They also belted out originals that were as unlikely and soulful as their rendition of “Smoke Two Joints.” In so doing, they compelled at least one young woman to take off her shirt to express what everyone was feeling: freed.

Best Real Estate Agent Anne Jablonski For the first time since 2006, there’s a change at the top of this category. But the new winner, Anne Jablonski, isn’t exactly new to Missoula’s real estate market. Jablonski has been helping people buy and sell property in the Garden City for the past 12 years, and by all accounts she has been serving her clients right. The testimonials from buyers and sellers on Jablonski’s website are as plentiful as they are effusive, and she says most of her business comes from referrals. The secret to her success, she says, is simple: “I really don’t look at it as sales, I look at it as helping people.” Anne Jablonski, Portico Real Estate: 3278787,






imorino’s 2XUUHFLSHVKDYHEHHQ Missoula favorites for over 25 years!

Traditional Hand-Tossed Pizza


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541-PIES(7437) order online!

1250 W. Broadway

[38] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

Finalists, Best Real Estate Agent 2. Mindy Palmer, Prudential Montana Real Estate: 239-6696, 3. Liz Dye, Portico Real Estate: 531-4508,

Best Store for Gifts Best CDs & Music Rockin Rudy’s Whether it’s the latest Tom Catmull release or a bag of Tipu’s Chai, Missoula tends to lean local when shopping. That’s probably why so many consider Rockin Rudy’s the default spot for music and gift-giving purposes. The all-local section in the CD department makes it easy to streamline your browsing and key in on the latest Missoula noise. Employees can quickly and effortlessly direct you to the most fashionable Montana-made jewelry, and if the gift of a garden is what you’re looking for, the shop has a display exclusively for all-local, all-native seeds. There’s so much more to Rockin Rudy’s, of course, but if local’s what you need, local’s what they have. Rockin Rudy’s: 237 Blaine, 542-0077, Finalists, Best CDs & Music 2. Ear Candy: 624 S. Higgins, 542-5029, 3. Hastings: 2501 Brooks St, 542-1077,

Finalists, Best Store for Gifts 2. Green Light: 301 N Higgins Ave, 541-0080, 3. Butterfly Herbs: 232 N. Higgins Ave, 728-8780,

Best Lodging DoubleTree Hotel The DoubleTree has once again locked in the top spot for Missoula visitors to kick up their feet, enjoy a succulent steak and sip a Grey Goose martini before turning in for the night in a plush room next to the Clark Fork. Whether dropping in on relatives or just passing through, DoubleTree’s guests get the full Missoula experience, from the line of microbrews at the Finn & Porter to a staff who participates in local mud runs. DoubleTree may be upscale, but it’s got the Montana edge folks want when picking a place to bed down. DoubleTree Hotel: 100 Madison St, 728-3100, doubletree. Finalists, Best Lodging 2. C’mon Inn: 2775 Expo Parkway, 543-4600, 3. Holiday Inn - Downtown: 200 S. Pattee St, 721-8550,

Best Florist Bitterroot Flower Shop There’s not much that can keep Bitterroot’s staff from meeting your needs. This winter’s snowpocalypse literally left Bitterroot’s delivery vans buried. But the shop remained open much of the time, and within days deliveries were back on schedule. That single snow-filled weekend proved that Bitterroot knows there’s always a day for a fresh bouquet, even in the dead of winter. Bitterroot Flower Shop: 811 S. Higgins, 542-0309, Finalists, Best Florist 2. Habitat Floral Shop: 211 N. Higgins, 543-0967,

3. Garden City Floral: 2510 Spurgin Rd, 543-6627,

Best Property Management Company Garden City Property Management Thirty years. That’s a long time of renting space to Missoula folk young and old. Garden City Property Management has used that stretch to build a reputation for friendliness, cleanliness and ease. If the washing machine is on the fritz or the gutter’s hanging off the side of the building, it won’t be that way for long. And if you’re fresh on the market for that first apartment of your own, Garden City will have you touring the perfect spot in no time. Garden City Property Management: 422 Madison St, 549-6106, Finalists, Best Property Management Company 2. Grizzly Property Management: 715 Kensington Ave, 542-2060, 3. Missoula Property Management: 2809 Great Northern Loop, 251-8500,

Best Home Accessories HOUSE Design Studio Picking out furniture that’s modern but will stand the test of time can be a challenge. But it’s a challenge made easier by HOUSE Design Studio, which offers an up-to-date, curated selection of big furniture, little accessories, lighting, rugs, bedding, bath and kids’

Coo Baby

photo by Cathrine L. Walters • Best of Missoula 2014 [39]

items in its Higgins Avenue shop, open since 2009. Exclusive HOUSE furniture includes locally handcrafted dining tables, coffee tables and shelves made out of reclaimed steel and beetle-kill blue pine wood, if you need that one-of-a-kind piece to treasure for a lifetime. And if you’re having trouble navigating the best color scheme and theme for your abode, the studio’s in-house designer offers consulting services. HOUSE Design Studio: 133 N. Higgins, 541-6960,

at Karl Tyler Chevrolet. While showing off a 2015 Chevy Tahoe LTZ, he’s quick to point out that this SUV has a feature called Adaptive Cruise Control, which allows the car to adjust its own speed if you end up barreling down on some slow poke in front of you on the highway, all without having to tap the brake. Also, it totally has air-conditioned seats to keep your butt chilly on long summer trips. What a brave new world we live in. Karl Tyler Chevrolet: 3663 N. Reserve St, 721-2438,

Finalists, Best Home Accessories 2. Pier One Imports: 2800 N. Reserve St, 728-3347, 3. TJ Maxx: 3275 N. Reserve St, 541-7031,

Finalists, Best New-Car Dealer 2. Bitterroot Motors: 3943 Brooks St, 251-2525, 3. Subaru of Missoula: 1600 Stephens Ave, 728-2510,

Best Furniture Store

Best Used-Car Dealer

Wagner’s People can straight up buy theater chairs to use at home, with little cup-holders and everything? Sure, Wagner’s sells couches, tables and even ottomans if you’re into that sort of thing, but why would you even

Eide Motors Yes, you’re probably waiting for that obligatory used-car salesman joke, but honestly, it’s a little played. Plus, it’s actually a bit tacky when discussing the solid folks at Eide Motors. Eide has earned our

STAFFPICK Best Star of the Show Missoula is blessed with a particularly creative music scene. Rock Lotto, for example, plays musician mashup with willing artists from across the local landscape, creating onenight-only bands with names and setlists that scar the mind for much longer. Pancakes is a band that raps about pancakes and bring Bisquick boxes to its shows. There was a Bauhaus tribute one night. And don’t even get us started on stage antics, especially if it involves cat litter. But until recently, no band we know of ever included a human-sized dancing echinoderm as part of its live show. We’re talking about a starfish. A big, trippy, multi-colored starfish doing its best Teletubbies-like wobble through a packed Wilma Theatre for The Whizpops CD-release concert in May. That marine invertebrate damn near stole the show—and the thing doesn’t even have hands. For those who don’t know, The Whizpops are Missoula’s most popular kids band and they have a devoted following that would make Phish jealous. In addition to some serious musicianship (again, you’re on notice, Phish), The Whizpops punctuate their bigger shows with costumes, special guests and, in the past, an adorable dancing dinosaur. But the band upped its game with the addition of the starfish—a special surprise that sent a crowd of grade-school kids (and some of their parents) into a sugar-like rush of happiness. Just imagine how that starfish would be received at a Phish show. bother owning a couch or a bed ever again when you can kick it 24-7 in the loving leather arms of a Palliser Media Home Theatre Seat? Wagner’s continues to help us fulfill our dreams of “simplify, man” after more than 50 years of business. Wagner’s Home Furnishings: 916 SW. Higgins Ave, 728-3214, Finalists, Best Furniture Store 2. The Living Room: 2610 S. Reserve, 721-1340, 3. Furniture Row: 3411 N. Reserve St, 728-3420,

readers’ respect through a well-stocked inventory of fine vehicles and a trustworthy staff that have kept Missoula drivers rolling through town in style for more than 30 years. I mean, if you’re looking for a joke, go find a PT Cruiser! Ha! Heh. Just kidding. Eide Motors: 3010 S. Reserve St, 721-2323, Finalists, Best Used-Car Dealer 2. Karl Tyler Chevrolet: 3663 N. Reserve St, 721-2438, 3. Lyman Motors: 2990 S. Reserve St, 728-0000,

Best Auto Repair Best New-Car Dealer Karl Tyler Remember when we used to get all amped up about the future when we’d all be rolling around in cars that drive themselves? Donny Cliver has one over

[40] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

Kent Brothers A smile, a friendly handshake, a first-name basis. These are the things Missoula can expect when walking into Kent Brothers, fretting about a Subaru’s latest ailment. Nothing puts minds at ease faster than an

auto crew who knows your car as well or better than you do. These folks can map out a vehicle’s needs months in advance. Oil change? Get it done now. Heat shield welding? Make an appointment a little ways down the road. Drivers don’t like surprises, especially when there’s a long trip coming up. And Kent Brothers gets that, which is why they do their best to make sure that when something needs fixing, you’re fully prepared. Kent Brothers Automotive: 127 S. Fourth St. W, 728-1747, Finalists, Best Auto Repair 2. Unique Auto Service: 1414 Montana St, 728-3144, 3. Hellgate Conoco: 711 E. Broadway St, 728-9966,

Best Car Wash Happy Days Bob Brunner produced 37 episodes of “Happy Days,” and wrote 15 of them. Not the bulk of the series, by any means, but he is responsible for the infamous fifth season three-part opener where Fonzie goes to Hollywood and winds up jumping over a penned shark on water skis. It was such a nakedly desperate attempt at pumping life into a sagging series that the phrase “jump the shark” is used to describe the moment when anything overreaches and becomes a parody of itself. Fortunately for Happy Days Car Wash, they are still cruising along as Missoula’s favorite, with no sharks on the horizon. That deserves a big thumbs up. As Fonzie would say, “Ayyyyyy!” Happy Days: Multiple locations, 728-5527

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

Best Garden Center Caras Nursery We love spending summer afternoons at Caras Nursery. Standing in the middle of the sprawling garden center overflowing with brightly colored petunias, daffodils and geraniums, along with ornamental trees, native plants and roses, it’s hard to resist feeling inspired to make our yard come alive, too. Caras’ outstanding selection of veggies and seeds provides further motivation to cultivate one’s green thumb. If you don’t feel up to tackling a garden project, don’t worry—Caras staffers are always happy to share their expertise on ways to transform your yard into a showcase. Caras Nursery: 2727 S. Third St. W, 543-3333, Finalists, Best Garden Center 2. Pink Grizzly: 1400 Wyoming St, 728-3370, 3. Ace Hardware - Fancy Plants: 1101 Burlington Ave, 532-3478,

Best Ranch Supply Store Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Whether you’re a ranch hand, or just like to dress like one, Murdoch’s has you covered. The ranch supply store has an amazing supply of afford-

ably priced rugged wear for people of all shapes and sizes. Bonafide ranch hands will especially appreciate that Murdoch’s is way more than a clothing store. The West Broadway retailer also sells nearly everything one needs to care for bees, chickens and horses. Equine offerings include halters, nutritional supplements and Mane n’ Tail Shampoo, which, we’ve learned from experience, leaves human hair soft and silky, too. Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply: 2801 W. Broadway, 549-2355, Finalists, Best Ranch Supply Store 2. Cenex: 4570 N. Reserve St, 543-8383, 3. Axmen: 7655 US Highway 10 W, 728-7020,

Best Pawn Shop Liquid Assets Liquid Assets owner Kevin Pfau takes stock of the 17 Best of Missoula awards hanging inside the shop and surmises that Liquid Assets’ success can be chalked up to an emphasis on quality. “We don’t deal in junk,” Pfau says. “We just really try and deal with good, solid, quality merchandise.” During Liquid Assets’ 20 years of business, Pfau and his wife Lesa have built a solid reputation as honest brokers who drive hard bargains—good traits for pawn shop owners. And, as the Pfaus hang their 18th Best of Missoula award, traits that have earned our readers’ respect, as well. Liquid Assets: 434 N. Higgins, 542-6606,

Finalists, Best Pawn Shop 2. Downtown Pawn And Gun: 219 W. Broadway St, 549-8622 3. 1st Interstate Pawn: 3110 S. Reserve St, 721-7296,

Best Lawyer Paul Ryan If you’re looking for an attorney with the tenacity of a bulldog, Paul Ryan is the guy. Ryan’s a Missoula native who, during his past seven years in private practice, has built a solid reputation as an attorney capable of unsnarling even the messiest legal entanglement. This year, that reputation earned him the business of Markus Kaarma, who shot and killed German exchange student Diren Dede on April 27. Within hours of the shooting, Kaarma secured Ryan’s representation. The case stands to be this year’s most watched. If Kaarma trusts that Ryan can help clear his name, perhaps you should, too. Paul Ryan: 218 E. Front St, 542-2233, Finalists, Best Lawyer 2. John Velk: 523 S. Orange St, 543-0909, 3. Marty Judnich: 2419 Mullan Rd, 721-3354,

Best Pet Care/Boarding Quick Paws Inspired by her energetic dog, Tannah, Charla Bitney has spent 10 years building Quick Paws. During that time • Best of Missoula 2014 [41]

it’s grown from a dog-hiking business to a full-blown pet care service, offering overnight lodging, doggie day care and much more. With its large crew of critter-loving twoleggers, Quick Paws is able to give every pet the attention it deserves. And Bitney isn’t one to rest on her laurels. She intends to keep the business growing, starting with a remodel of the grooming studio later this year. Quick Paws: 1720 S. Third St. W, 721-1943, Finalists, Best Pet Care/Boarding 2. Missoula Pet Au Pair: 2500 S. Garfield St, 493-0853, 3. Alpine Canine: 3548 Old Indian Trail W, 541-4453,

Best Veterinary Clinic/Hospital Missoula Veterinary Clinic If Fluffy’s hairballs seem worse than usual or Fido’s not his normal exuberant self, Missoula Veterinary Hospital staffers are happy to investigate. No matter what they find, clinic vets are well equipped to cure what’s ailing your furry friend. Among the things that set the Missoula Veterinary Clinic apart is the broad scope of services it offers—everything from regular checkups to orthopedic surgery. And don’t worry if Fido’s laid up for a stretch. He’ll be well cared for by the clinic, which boards patients and pledges to walk Fido three times a day. Missoula Veterinary Clinic: 3701 Highway 93, 251-2400 Finalists, Best Veterinary Clinic/Hospital 2. Pruyn Veterinary Hospital: 2501 S. Russell St, 829-8150,

Laura Bender

photo by Cathrine L. Walters

Loan & Liquidation Company


Best of Missoula



I-90 & Highway 200 • East Missoula • 542-6606

Thank You, Missoula, for voting us #1 18 years running [42] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

3. Four Paws: 2625 Connery Way, 542-3838

Best Pet Supplies Go Fetch! Kong? Check. Rawhides? You know it. Outerwear for the small yet rugged dog? Uh huh. Go Fetch! counts three Missoula locations with everything your labradoodle or chiweenie could ask for. Even if he’s a purebred, there’s little doubt that this locally owned pet supply store has the goods to satisfy his every whim. At the store’s East Broadway location, bakers whip up tasty dog treats, including peanut butter bones, pumpkin muffins and frosted cookies. Go Fetch! bakers also make cakes to order for special occasions, such as birthdays or an agility class graduation. Among the coolest things about Go Fetch! is that your retriever or pomeranian is allowed to browse the store himself. For canines and their human companions, a trip to Go Fetch! can mark the highpoint of any weekend. Go Fetch!: Multiple locations, 728-2275, Finalists, Best Pet Supplies 2. PetSmart: 2850 N. Reserve, 549-9188, 3. Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply: 2801 W. Broadway, 549-2355,

Best New Retail Store Coo Baby If you feel like your world is being overrun by babies, you might be right. After all, this is Missoula, where kids only seem to be outnumbered by dogs. That’s probably why a place like Coo Baby wins this category. The new downtown store offers a Zen-like feeling that counteracts the chaos of parenthood. Head inside the Higgins Avenue shop and you’ll find books, clothing, sleepwear, skincare, art supplies, and bathing and diaper supplies, all handpicked and organized to create a hip, functional atmosphere. After hanging out in there a while it becomes less clear what you need and what you want. Crib sheets: Need. A onesie with a screenprint of Michael Jackson: Uh, need. Duh. Coo Baby: 311 N Higgins Ave, 926-1990, Finalists, Best New Retail Store 2. Olive + Iron: 806 W. Spruce, 698-9905, 3. Imagination Station: 721 N Fourth St W, 830-3024,


Health and Wellness

of experience in the medical field. Indy readers appreciate Ravitz’s expertise and the fact that he takes an unusual amount of time listening to his patients, taking pains to ensure they don’t feel like just another cog in the system. His approach might not be common in the health care industry as a whole, but it certainly is at Blue Mountain Clinic. That’s among the reasons BMC has, like Ravitz, won Best of Missoula for seven years in a row. The clinic not only

When only the best will do.

STAFFPICK Best Pod The atmosphere at the corner of Toole and Scott streets on a recent Tuesday evening is festive, as neighborhood residents catch up while sitting at patio tables and snacking on pizza, tamales and sandwiches. The gathering marks a weekly (sometimes more frequent) event in which families and foodies descend onto the Westside to savor the eclectic offerings of Missoula’s first food “pod.” Clusters of food carts, otherwise known as pods, have become commonplace in bigger cities like Portland and Austin, but Missoula has only recently caught on to the trend. During the past few years, food carts have increasingly popped up on the Westside. It started when Masala Indian Food and Burns Street Bistro’s mobile Beastro food truck parked outside Draught Works, mostly on weekends. Last year, Clove Cart Pizza Peddlers, Tia’s Tamales and the Family Meal Truck started to set up less than a block away at the corner of Scott and Toole on Tuesdays and other nights. The result of this pod is a culinary diversity and community gathering spot that speaks to everything we hold dear in Missoula—good food, good beer, good people and a certain amount of good fortune that allowed it all to come together so naturally.

Chef Ryan Boehme | 541.4900 | 224 N. Higgins |

offers top-notch care, but also takes an important leadership role in the community on social justice issues. BMC works to ensure that everyone has access to sexual health education and serves as one of the state’s most vocal advocates for a woman’s right to choose. Those efforts make BMC a vital resource to Missoula, as well as the state and region. Eric Ravitz, Blue Mountain Clinic: 610 N. California St, 721-1646, bluemountain Finalists, Best Health Clinic 2. Western Montana Clinic: 500 W. Broadway, 721-5600, 3. Cost Care Clinic: Multiple locations, 721-5531,

Best Health Clinic Blue Mountain

Best Doctor Eric Ravitz Eric Ravitz is a rare breed of physician. He isn’t one to brush off patient aches and pains, nor does he come across as a know-it-all, despite his 35 years

Finalists, Best Doctor/Healthcare Provider 2. Lar Autio, Western Montana Clinic: 500 W. Broadway, 721-5600, • Best of Missoula 2014 [43]

3. Heather Maddox, Western Montana Clinic: 500 W. Broadway, 721-5600,

Best Gynecologist Jennifer Mayo, Western Montana Clinic A visit to the ob/gyn isn’t the most fun of prospects, which is why a gynecologist with a gentle, comforting approach can make a ton of difference when it comes to dealing with your annual exam and other procedures. The Western Montana Clinic’s Jennifer Mayo has been providing conscientious care since 2010. Joyce Stevens, director of ancillary and satellite services at the clinic, says Mayo is “such a nice, nice person, and that’s why patients love her. She’s sweet and kind and that’s why she won.” Jennifer Mayo, Western Montana Clinic: 500 W. Broadway, 721-5600, Finalists, Best Gynecologist 2. Tim Burke: 2835 Fort Missoula Rd #305, 721-9999, 3. TIE: Beverly Braak, Women’s Choice of Missoula: 2831 Fort Missoula Rd, 327-3875, Mark Garnaas, Western Montana Clinic: 500 W. Broadway, 721-5600,

Finalists, Best Dentist 2. Annette Dusseau, Family Dental Group: Southgate Mall, 541-2886, 3. Olsen Family Dental: 715 W. Central Ave, 728-2840,

Best Chiropractor Anthony Lambert Another year, another win for Anthony Lambert. But 2014 marks a major change for the perennial winner in this category: Since last year’s victory, Lambert has moved his business to a brand spanking new building on Third Street—a sparkling, hip space that matches his cool, cheery personality. Lambert may work on people’s spines, but he’s in tune with the way mind and body work together. His blog posts about Random Acts of Kindness and his monthly patient appreciation days (free cookies!) show he’s thinking about more than just your backbone—he’s thinking about your happiness. Anthony Lambert: 1290 S. Third St. W, 541-9355, Finalists, Best Chiropractor 2. Linda Matz, Matz Family Chiropractic: 1519 S. Reserve, 552-4014, 3. James Marquardt: 1203 Mount Ave, 543-5251,

Best Dentist Ike Heaphy Dentists get a bad reputation. Maybe it’s that folks don’t like getting stuff stuck into their grill or, more likely, that they get defensive when asked if they’ve really been flossing daily and brushing after every meal. For whatever reason, a lot of people unfairly heap all that bad energy on the dude in the white coat. But not at Dr. Heaphy’s office. There’s no reason to freak out because everyone seems to like Ike, even—maybe especially—those who aren’t as diligent about their dental hygiene as they should be. Give Dr. Heaphy or his excellent staff a couple minutes to do their thing and you’ll be feeling at ease and shining some pearly whites in no time. Ike Heaphy: 712 Kensington Ave, 543-8347,

Red Willow Learning Center

[44] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

Best Optometrist Sandy Sheppard Sharp-eyed Indy readers have voted Sandy Sheppard Best Optometrist once again. Sheppard brings more than 30 years experience and the latest in optic technology to keep your peepers at their best. Patients praise her office’s generous lens and frames warranty, plus accommodation of the tricky stuff like tri-focal lenses. We’d guess that an upbeat, personal touch doesn’t hurt, either, which probably contributes to Sheppard winning the top slot six of the last seven years. But this year’s victory comes off as bittersweet, since it will be Sheppard’s last. She’s retiring as of July 14. The following day, Matthew Burgess and Caitlin Campbell will take over her practice. Rest assured,

photo courtesy of John Salisbury

3. Four Paws: 2625 Connery Way, 542-3838

Best Pet Supplies Go Fetch! Kong? Check. Rawhides? You know it. Outerwear for the small yet rugged dog? Uh huh. Go Fetch! counts three Missoula locations with everything your labradoodle or chiweenie could ask for. Even if he’s a purebred, there’s little doubt that this locally owned pet supply store has the goods to satisfy his every whim. At the store’s East Broadway location, bakers whip up tasty dog treats, including peanut butter bones, pumpkin muffins and frosted cookies. Go Fetch! bakers also make cakes to order for special occasions, such as birthdays or an agility class graduation. Among the coolest things about Go Fetch! is that your retriever or pomeranian is allowed to browse the store himself. For canines and their human companions, a trip to Go Fetch! can mark the highpoint of any weekend. Go Fetch!: Multiple locations, 728-2275, Finalists, Best Pet Supplies 2. PetSmart: 2850 N. Reserve, 549-9188, 3. Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply: 2801 W. Broadway, 549-2355,

Best New Retail Store Coo Baby If you feel like your world is being overrun by babies, you might be right. After all, this is Missoula, where kids only seem to be outnumbered by dogs. That’s probably why a place like Coo Baby wins this category. The new downtown store offers a Zen-like feeling that counteracts the chaos of parenthood. Head inside the Higgins Avenue shop and you’ll find books, clothing, sleepwear, skincare, art supplies, and bathing and diaper supplies, all handpicked and organized to create a hip, functional atmosphere. After hanging out in there a while it becomes less clear what you need and what you want. Crib sheets: Need. A onesie with a screenprint of Michael Jackson: Uh, need. Duh. Coo Baby: 311 N Higgins Ave, 926-1990, Finalists, Best New Retail Store 2. Olive + Iron: 806 W. Spruce, 698-9905, 3. Imagination Station: 227 N. Higgins Ave, 926-3325,


Health and Wellness

of experience in the medical field. Indy readers appreciate Ravitz’s expertise and the fact that he takes an unusual amount of time listening to his patients, taking pains to ensure they don’t feel like just another cog in the system. His approach might not be common in the health care industry as a whole, but it certainly is at Blue Mountain Clinic. That’s among the reasons BMC has, like Ravitz, won Best of Missoula for seven years in a row. The clinic not only

When only the best will do.

STAFFPICK Best Pod The atmosphere at the corner of Toole and Scott streets on a recent Tuesday evening is festive, as neighborhood residents catch up while sitting at patio tables and snacking on pizza, tamales and sandwiches. The gathering marks a weekly (sometimes more frequent) event in which families and foodies descend onto the Westside to savor the eclectic offerings of Missoula’s first food “pod.” Clusters of food carts, otherwise known as pods, have become commonplace in bigger cities like Portland and Austin, but Missoula has only recently caught on to the trend. During the past few years, food carts have increasingly popped up on the Westside. It started when Masala Indian Food and Burns Street Bistro’s mobile Beastro food truck parked outside Draught Works, mostly on weekends. Last year, Clove Cart Pizza Peddlers, Tia’s Tamales and the Family Meal Truck started to set up less than a block away at the corner of Scott and Toole on Tuesdays and other nights. The result of this pod is a culinary diversity and community gathering spot that speaks to everything we hold dear in Missoula—good food, good beer, good people and a certain amount of good fortune that allowed it all to come together so naturally.

Chef Ryan Boehme | 541.4900 | 224 N. Higgins |

offers top-notch care, but also takes an important leadership role in the community on social justice issues. BMC works to ensure that everyone has access to sexual health education and serves as one of the state’s most vocal advocates for a woman’s right to choose. Those efforts make BMC a vital resource to Missoula, as well as the state and region. Eric Ravitz, Blue Mountain Clinic: 610 N. California St, 721-1646, bluemountain Finalists, Best Health Clinic 2. Western Montana Clinic: 500 W. Broadway, 721-5600, 3. Cost Care Clinic: Multiple locations, 721-5531,

Best Health Clinic Blue Mountain

Best Doctor Eric Ravitz Eric Ravitz is a rare breed of physician. He isn’t one to brush off patient aches and pains, nor does he come across as a know-it-all, despite his 35 years

Finalists, Best Doctor/Healthcare Provider 2. Lar Autio, Western Montana Clinic: 500 W. Broadway, 721-5600, • Best of Missoula 2014 [43]

this year. Jennifer Hoover, Hot House Yoga: 127 N. Higgins, 529-4091, Finalists, Best Yoga Instructor 2. Brian Batty, Inner Harmony: 214 E. Main St, 581-4093, 3. Celeste Ambrose, The Women’s Club: 2105 Bow St, 728-4410,

3. Rhea Black, Momentum Athletic Training: 214 1/2 E. Main St, 541-7474,



Best Bar Best Bar Food

Laura Bender When Laura Bender launched her business in 1989, there were no other personal trainers in town, meaning even the weightlifting, yoga and nutrition guidance she offered was a novelty. Twenty-five years later, personal trainers dot the local landscape, but Bender’s still ripped and she’s still considered the best. Among the reasons for Bender’s staying power is her enhanced training regimen. Two years ago, Bender realized that she wanted to do more to help clients. They were physically healthy, Bender says, “but they weren’t emotionally healthy.” That awakening led her to become certified as a meditation instructor. Bender now calls her practice “holistic personal training,” which means clients can be of sound body and mind. Laura Bender, Bodies by Bender: 113 W. Main St, 728-4395,

James Bar It doesn’t get much better than sitting on the patio at the James Bar while sipping a Blackfoot IPA and chatting with friends after a busy week. The place has an urban vibe, especially on Friday nights, when it draws in an eclectic selection of blue- and white-collar workers, hipsters and neighborhood locals. The drink selection is similarly diverse, ranging from perfect martinis and Moscow mules served in copper cups to a full selection of local beers and affordable wines. And don’t even get us started on the food. The kale salad with steak is ridiculous, as is the more substantive shepherd’s pie. Our perennial favorite, however, is the hearty Aidenator, a burger made with local beef and topped with pancetta, aged white cheddar, onion rings, roasted tomatoes, Worcestershire-black-pepper mayo and a fried egg. If you’ve got room after that—well, first of all, something might be wrong with you—be sure and order a freshbaked chocolate chip cookie served in its own skillet. Your night—and your belly—will be full. James Bar: 127 W. Alder St, 721-8158,

Finalists, Best Personal Trainer 2. Taylor Selig, Max Muscle: 3055 N. Reserve St, 543-4629,

Finalists, Best Bar 2. Top Hat Lounge: 134 W. Front St, 728-9865,

Best Personal Trainer

[46] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

3. Charlie B’s: 428 N. Higgins, 549-3589 Finalists, Best Bar Food 2. Dinosaur Cafe: 428 N. Higgins Ave, 721-3808, 3. Tamarack Brewing Company: 231 W. Front St, 830-3113,

Best Bar for a Stiff Pour Al’s & Vic’s As one Indy staffer’s father used to say, “More is more,” and the bartenders at Al’s & Vic’s seem to agree. When mixing their cocktails, they keep the bottles upturned for a little longer than others. They make whiskey-gingers that have a crisp kick instead of a sweet aftertaste, gin and tonics with an eye-opening bite and Bloody Marys in which all the garnishes don’t drown out the crisp taste of vodka. And Al’s & Vic’s, with its relaxed and authentic vibe—right next to James Bar, as it turns out—is the perfect place to indulge in a stiff drink. Al’s & 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. James Bar: 127 W. Alder St, 721-8158,

Best Beer Selection The Rhino The Rhino offers 90 different beers at any given time, with 50 of them on tap. If you’re hankering for a Black Diamond Rampage IPA, a summery Green Flash Saison, a Big Sky Moose Drool Brown Ale, or just about any other ale, you won’t leave the Rhino wanting. The tavern’s recent installation of a frost rail—a metal strip that runs along the bar, designed to keep beverages pleasantly cold—further demonstrates that the Rhino is a beer drinker’s paradise. Because the bar caters to beer aficionados and also those who appreciate the value of a $2 PBR pint, we’d rather drink there than just about anywhere else. The Rhino: 158 Ryman St, 721-6061 Finalists, Best Beer Selection 2. Tamarack Brewing Company: 231 W. Front St, 830-3113, 3. Iron Horse Bar & Grill: 501 N. Higgins Ave, 728-8866,

Best Late-Night Munchies The Oxford Saloon & Cafe When your friend who’s had one boilermaker too many tries to start a mosh pit at a folk show (hypothetically, of course), we’d advise whisking her away to a location where cheese fries or the J.J.’s Special will absorb some of that alcohol. The 24-hour Oxford restaurant has been a Missoula late-night staple since 1883, and rightly so. The menu is everything you want after hours and hours of partying, and you can

hang out with the new friends you made at the bar while you chow down. And in our experience, the staff have been nothing less than forgiving of latenight antics. The Oxford: 337 N. Higgins Ave, 5490117, Finalists, Best Late-Night Munchies 2. El Cazador Truck: Various locations 3. Pita Pit: 130 N. Higgins Ave, 541-7482,

Best Bar to Hook Up Stockman’s Dating apps are all the rage these days. There’s OKCupid and Tinder and HowAboutWe and Plenty of Fish and many more, all to let you suss out the singles in your area who are looking for the right person—or just Mr. or Ms. Right Now. At first, it seems seductively easier and hassle-free to just scroll through pics, answer a few questions and get paired up by a digital service. Then again, pics can be deceiving, and questionnaires and algorithm-made matches don’t always add up to love in real life. For the old-fashioned, IRL approach to taming some strange, as the kids say, you can also get some friends together and head downtown to see who’s on the dance floor at Stockman’s. Having a few cold ones

Kris Moon

and shaking what your mama gave you still makes for a more memorable experience than sitting at home scrolling through OKCupid. Stockman’s Bar: 125 W. Front St, 549-9668 Finalists, Best Bar to Hook Up 2. The Badlander: 208 Ryman St, 3. TIE: Bodega: 221 Ryman St, 549-0435 Sunrise Saloon: 1805 Regent St, 728-1559,

Best Cocktail Selection Plonk Plonk issued an exciting announcement in midMay: The restaurant’s rooftop patio had officially opened for the summer, and all those Coconut Lime Rickeys and Gin Blossoms could finally be enjoyed while taking in a great view of Missoula. Of course, Hellgate Canyon at sunset isn’t necessarily a make-orbreak when confronted with the option of a Sage Martini, a Pink Panther or a Makers Ginger. Plonk’s cocktails are creative and tasty enough to make any

photo courtesy of Ryan Polei • Best of Missoula 2014 [47]

[48] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

surrounding seem mostly arbitrary. But nothing complements a mid-afternoon mojito quite like a blue sky and a Missoula vista. Or maybe it’s the other way around ... Plonk Wine: 322 N. Higgins Ave, 926-1791, Finalists, Best Cocktail Selection 2. Montgomery Distillery: 129 W. Front St, 926-1725, 3. James Bar: 127 W. Alder St, 721-8158,

Best Place to Hear Live Music Top Hat Lounge Since early 2013, the Top Hat’s new owner, Nick Checota, has transformed the historic bar into a tapas restaurant and top-notch music venue. Audiences have been treated to major acts like Sarah Jarosz, Shooter Jennings, Elephant Revival, the Heartless Bastards and Greg Brown, plus picking circles, album-release parties for local bands and a family-friendly Friday where kids can dance to live music early in the evening. Unlike so many things in life, the atmosphere at the new Top Hat never gets old. One night, you could be sipping a PBR watching Polyphonic Spree, the next a gin and tonic at a sit-down concert for some acoustic act. And the future looks bright with Jolie Holland, Charles Bradley, Robert Earl Keen, Robert Cray, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, and Trombone Shorty on deck for later this month and next. Top Hat Lounge: 134 W. Front St, 728-9865,

Lucky Strike

photo by Grace Ryan • Best of Missoula 2014 [49]

Finalists, Best Place to Hear Live Music 2. Union Club: 208 E. Main St, 728-7980 3. Wilma Theatre: 131 S. Higgins, 728-2521,

Best Bloody Mary Last Run Inn, Snowbowl When you’ve made your final Black Diamond run of the day, your iPod has died, the winter sun is dipping to the edge of the mountain and your legs feel like al dente linguine, you’ve earned it: the grab-you-by-the-lapels Godzilla of Bloody Marys. The Last Run Inn keeps winning this category not by shoving an entire lunch buffet into their Bloody; they keep winning because they keep keeping it real. Real good. Last Run Inn - Montana Snowbowl: 1700 Snow Bowl Rd, 549-9777, Finalists, Best Bloody Mary 2. Tamarack Brewing Company: 231 W. Front St, 830-3113, 3. The Rhino: 158 Ryman St, 721-6061

Best Margarita Best Happy Hour Jakers Everything at this popular Southside restaurant seems to come in twos. Two wins in this year’s Nightlife section. Two different Happy Hours—daily from 4 to 6 p.m. and again from 9 p.m. to close. Per- 3. El Cazador: 101 S. Higgins, 728-3657, Finalists, Best Happy Hour 2. Top Hat Lounge: 134 W. Front St, 728-9865, 3. Finn & Porter, DoubleTree Hotel: 100 Madison St. Bridge, 542-4660,

Best Place to Dance Union Club The Union Club’s dance floor does for Missoulians what subway platforms do for the residents of larger cities—it crams all kinds of people together. But this is Missoula, not New York, so no one is in a rush or on their way to work. Instead, they’re drinking whiskey on the rocks on a weekend night. They’re wearing cowboy hats or Crocs, cargo shorts or summer dresses. They’re two-stepping or they’re pretending like they are, and it doesn’t really matter, because they’re dancing at the Union. Union Club: 208 E. Main St, 728-7980 Finalists, Best Place to Dance 2. Top Hat Lounge: 134 W. Front St, 728-9865, 3. Sunrise Saloon: 1805 Regent St, 728-1559,

STAFFPICK Best Reason to Get Out of Bed on Saturday “Yeah, dude, let’s do the farmers market tomorrow morning!” Many a time have we yell-talked this to a friend at the bar on Friday night, perfectly confident in our ability to get up early the next day. But come morning, when we’re not feeling quite so spiffy, the prospect of making our way through the crowd is a little daunting. Badlander Catering is to the rescue with a bar down at the Clark Fork Market offering Bloody Marys, moonshine-spiked lemonades and screwdrivers, all using Montana-made liquors and, when possible, garnishes from fresh market produce. Badlander Catering manager Hillary McLeod explains that the market rules allow folks to have up to two drinks, kept within the boundaries of the market. “Before 10 a.m., we get people laughing and doubletakes. But after 10 a.m., we get a lot more double-takes that are interested,” she says. If you need a little caffeine kick with your hair of the dog, we recommend the Irish coffee, made with Black Coffee Roasting Co. drip and a splash of the Orphan Girl Bourbon Cream Liqueur from Butte’s Headframe distillery. It’s enough to remind us that tasty local food and drink is what brought us down to the farmers market in the first place.

haps most importantly, two-for-one Happy Hour specials on beers, house wines and well drinks. That means you could sidle up to the bar for a double dose of their award-winning margaritas. Even better, skip the well version and splurge a bit. Peruse the specialty cocktail menu for a top-shelf margarita—our favorite is the Cadillac, with Don Julio Resposado—and then chase it with two beers for the price of one. Just make sure you’re drinking a water—or two!—with all that imbibing. Jakers Bar & Grill: 3515 Brooks St, 7211312, Finalists, Best Margarita 2. James Bar: 127 W. Alder St, 721-8158,

[50] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

Best Bar DJ Kris Moon Kris Moon is known for being technically proficient when it comes to turntables, but he’s also a master at reading the crowd. He mixes smoothly from one underground song to a familiar Top 40 tune and then back before you know what hit you. You like it, but you don’t know why. That’s the power of an intuitive DJ. Outsiders often think you can’t tell one DJ from the next, but Moon makes the work an art form. He’s not just geeking out on technology and he’s not lazily playing only what everyone’s heard before. If you ask him, he’ll never tell you what makes him a top DJ because he’s modest. But his ability to harness a room full of dancers tells you he has endless confidence. Kris Moon:

Finalists, Best Bar DJ 2. Aaron Traylor: 3. Colin Hickey

Best Bartender Tom Helgerson, VFW Here’s how one patron describes Tom Helgerson’s bartending skills at the Ole Beck VFW: “He’ll be doing a crossword and watching ‘Star Trek: Deep Space 9’ and he can still serve you a good drink.” He’s the type of bartender who will talk with you about “Law & Order” for as long as you’re interested or he’ll leave you alone to chill out if you’re not the social kind of drinker. Whatever you’re up for, man. Sadly for us, Helgerson recently quit his bartending job, but Indy readers will still remember him as this year’s cream of the crop. Finalists, Best Bartender 2. TIE: Lyndon Matthews, Jakers Bar & Grill Donny Morey, Flipper’s 3. Tara Kurack, Jakers Bar & Grill

Best Brewery Kettlehouse Brewing

Best Brew


photo by Cathrine L. Walters

Cold Smoke Scotch Ale This spring, the Kettlehouse Brewing Company got its biggest accolade yet. Double Haul IPA snagged a gold medal at the 2014 World Beer Cup, beating out 40 other international submissions. The news basically reaffirmed what locals have held as gospel for years: Our beloved K-Hole brews some of the best darn beer on the planet. Co-founder • Best of Missoula 2014 [51]

Aaron Traylor

photo by Grace Ryan

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Tim O’Leary and his crew have racked up scores of awards, hosted weekly nonprofit fundraising nights, even had taproom mainstay Cold Smoke immortalized in ice cream form. Honestly, with beer this good, the world was bound to catch on eventually. Kettlehouse Brewing Company: 602 Myrtle St and 313 N. 1st St. W, 728-1660, Finalists, Best Brewery 2. Draught Works Brewery: 915 Toole Ave, 541-1592, draughtworksbrewery 3. Bayern Brewing: 1507 Montana St, 721-1482,

Best Pool Table Palace It’s a cold winter night in Missoula and the Palace Lounge is hopping. Locals have flocked to a free show, and as the first band wraps its set, the crowd moves onto the sidewalk upstairs as a single mass, sucking down smokes in the chill wind. You’re smarter. You hand the bartender your license, he hands you a tray of pool balls. The game is on. Eight-ball, nine-ball, cutthroat—the cavernous bar echoes with the clack of cues. Suddenly the bar fills up again. The next band starts. You hardly notice, laughing with your friends and challenging them to rematches. It’s a cold winter night in Missoula, and the Palace is yours. The Palace Lounge: 147 W. Broadway, facebook. com/pages/The-Palace-Lounge

Finalists, Best Brew 2. Double Haul, Kettlehouse 3. Summer Honey, Big Sky Brewing

Finalists, Best Pool Table 2. Union Club: 208 E. Main St, 728-7980 3. Al’s & Vic’s: 119 W. Alder St, 728-4804

Best Casino

Best Karaoke Bar

Flipper’s Locals catch on pretty quickly that the best hours at Flipper’s are the mellow ones, when a few friends, a handful of keno players and a decent ballgame on the TV are the day’s only distractions. There’s a cozy, homey vibe that prevails at those times, amplified by the fact that, with no one else around, the odds of winning the free pitcher drawing greatly increase. Maybe it’s Wine Wednesday, that special time when glasses of wine are 50 cents off, or maybe it’s Micro Monday, when a pint of Kettlehouse’s specialty Rosco’s Amber is just $3. Regardless, one smile from Donny and a basket of cheese fries are all it takes to realize: Once you walk into Flip’s, it’s darn hard to leave. Flipper’s: 125 S. Third St. W, 721-4895 Finalists, Best Casino 2. Silver Slipper Lounge & Casino: 4063 Highway 93 S, 251-5402 3. Diamond Jim’s: 1605 S. Russell St, 541-6711

James Bar

Lucky Strike Casino Bartender Adam Hocking stands under the pink neon lightning bolts that adorn the Lucky Strike’s wall and surmises that the establishment is Missoula’s favorite karaoke bar because it hosts amateur singing seven nights a week. In this case, he says, more is definitely better. Such frequency offers aspiring karaoke stars the chance to hone their chops, which is important if they want to hit the big leagues. The Lucky Strike also holds Talent Quest competitions, a national karaoke contest that leads to a series of singoffs. Winners in Missoula advance to more competitive rounds, vying for bragging rights and a cash prize. That means one talented Lucky Strike regular might just become the next karaoke superstar. Lucky Strike: 1515 Dearborn Ave, 549-4152 Finalists, Best Karaoke Bar 2. Bowl Dog Lounge, Westside Lanes: 1615 Wyoming St, 721-5263, 3. The Badlander: 208 Ryman St,

photo by Cathrine L. Walters • Best of Missoula 2014 [53]

Best Sports Bar Press Box Approximately 1 billion people around the globe watched at least part of the World Cup on television in 2010. That record is expected to be broken during this year’s soccer tournament—and chances are pretty good that if you’re catching some of that action in Missoula, you’re doing it at the reigning champion of this category. The Press Box is located just a chip shot from Washington-Grizzly Stadium and always fills up on UM game days. But it’s also a destination for every other televised sport you can think of, from breakfast spreads during English Premier League games to wall-to-wall crowds for UFC title matches. Toss in the white towel, empty the benches and warm up the bus, folks. We have a unanimous decision (and a few mixed metaphors) when it comes to choosing where you like to root on your favorite team. Press Box: 835 E. Broadway St, 721-1212, Finalists, Best Sports Bar 2. Tamarack Brewing Company: 231 W. Front St, 830-3113, 3. Desperado Sports Tavern: 3101 S. Russell St, 549-9651, Desperado-Sports-Tavern


People and media Best Politicianest Politician Mayor John Engen John Engen has set his sights on some ambitious goals for Missoula: Fighting to secure public ownership of the Mountain Water Company. Pushing to make the Mountain Line bus system fare-free. Working to review how city agencies handle sexual assault cases. The list goes on. But it takes more than ambition, brains and voter confidence to make a good leader. One of Engen’s strongest assets is his compassion for all things Missoula. Whether teaching school kids to pick up after their dogs or offering stirring eulogies for civic stalwarts like Pat and Don Simmons, Engen wears his love for the city on his sleeve. While local politics can be a dry and thankless slog, we can’t recall a moment when his enthusiasm for the job has waned. Finalists, Best Politician 2. Ellie Hill 3. Jon Tester

Best Athlete

406-542-2167 130 S. 6th E. • Missoula [54] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

Jordan Johnson and Jordan Tripp (tie) In Missoula, no sports team ranks higher in popularity than the University of Montana football squad. But outside the cozy confines of Washington-Grizzly Stadium, our Griz are actually wee cubs in the greater sporting landscape. That’s why it was pretty cool to see standout linebacker Jordan Tripp receive national attention leading up to this year’s NFL draft. The freakish athlete was a favorite of experts looking for an under-the-radar selection who could make an impact at the next level. The Miami Dolphins finally jumped at the chance and selected Tripp in the fifth round. While Tripp tries to make it as a pro, former teammate Jordan Johnson will try to continue UM’s winning ways. The starting quarterback, who has garnered as many headlines for his off-the-field trials (literally) as his on-field accolades, returns for his senior season and one last chance to win a Football Championship Subdivision title.

Finalists, Best Athlete 2. Mike Foote 3. Kareem Jamar

Best Journalist Erika Fredrickson, Missoula Independent About a year ago, the Indy newsroom received a frantic phone call from its seasoned and usually unflappable arts editor. She called from a remote Montana ranch where she was on assignment at a Girl Hunter weekend, and where a reporter from The New York Times was apparently trying to bigtime her and claim he had an exclusive. She might have to leave. She might lose the story. Pissed off and frustrated, but calmer than before, the phone call ended with Fredrickson saying she was going to tell the Times reporter to, shall we say, back off. The end result was a first-person account of the ridiculous-sounding weekend, complete with a journalistic standoff that Fredrickson ended up winning. The story made national news, landing on Jim Romenesko’s popular journalism blog and earning Fredrickson accolades for both her writing and her moxie. That’s just one of her memorable stories over the last year, during which she’s profiled a prominent local artist and his efforts to reconcile the tragic death of his artist son, captured the mounting success and real-life challenges of muralist Hadley Ferguson, and brilliantly imagined the effects of our state’s gun laws by applying the castle doctrine to classic literature. We’ve long treasured Fredrickson’s weekly contributions to the Indy and couldn’t be prouder of our readers choosing her for this year’s honor. Finalists, Best Journalist 2. Jill Valley, KPAX 3. TIE: Alex Sakariassen, Missoula Independent Jenna Cederberg, Missoulian

Best Newscast KPAX

Best TV Personality Jill Valley, KPAX After more than 20 years in broadcasting, KPAX news anchor Jill Valley still loves her job. “Every day is different,” Valley says. “Every day presents a whole new set of challenges.” When asked why she thinks she’s been voted Missoula’s favorite TV Personality since Best of Missoula’s inception 20 years ago, Valley expresses a humbleness some might find unusual for a woman who’s recognized everywhere she goes. “I guess me and Missoula are a good match,” Valley says. Indy readers see the entire KPAX news crew as a good match, too, as year after year the station wins this category. The praise is deserved, of course, as the KPAX team consistently provides thorough and accurate reporting, and is kind enough to deliver it straight to the comfort of our living rooms. Jill Valley, KPAX: Finalists, Best TV Newscast 2. KECI: 3. ABC FOX: Finalists, Best TV Personality 2. Heidi Meili, KECI: 3. Mark Heyka, KECI:

Jordan Tripp

photo courtesy of Todd Goodrich • Best of Missoula 2014 [55]

Best Meteorologist Mark Heyka Missoula Mayor John Engen designated May 20 this year “Mark Heyka Day.” It’s not often a weatherman receives such recognition, but as Engen noted when making his proclamation, Heyka’s not an ordinary weatherman. Heyka is a devoted community steward who’s spent the past 15 years not just forecasting Missoula weather, but also doing good deeds. He raises money for kids in need and Blue Mountain Clinic, and serves on the board of directors for NCBI Missoula and the Missoula Children’s Theatre. Indy readers may love the way Heyka forecasts Missoula’s wacky weather, but we think they also appreciate that he’s a really solid dude. At Rock Lotto in February, one band even named itself Mark Heyka Overdrive— and Heyka himself showed up and bought a round of drinks. Mark Heyka, KECI: Finalists, Best Meteorologist 2. Erin Yost, KPAX: 3. Russ Thomas, KPAX:

Best Radio Station The Trail Buffalo Springfield followed by Lake Street Dive. U2, Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Arcade Fire all in a row. Echo & the Bunnymen, then Pearl Jam. Missoulians keep tuning into 103.3 FM because they know what they’re going to get—and what they get is reliably good without ever being quite what they expect. The Trail 103.3: 721-6800; Finalists, Best Radio Station 2. KUFM 89.1: 243-4931;

3. KBGA 89.9: 243-6758;

Best Radio Personality Aaron Traylor, Zoo FM Aaron Traylor goes by the moniker “The Tallest DJ in America” and at 6-foot-10, he may just be right. Traylor came by his radio DJ skills the hard way—he rocked the turntables back in the 1990s at Spokane clubs—and over the years he’s seen styles, both good and embarrassing, come and go. In fact, Traylor’s seen so much he should probably write a book. Wait, what? Oh. He did. The DJ Chronicles: A Life Remixed is a novel that captures the fast-paced disc jockey scene. It also shows just how much Traylor has done—and continues to do—to help fill Missoula’s music and

media scene. Aaron Traylor, Zoo 107.5: 549-1075;

Best Website

at have made great strides over the years to not only help us regular squares find the best drink specials of the night, but also how to get the most out of a week on the town. Screw it. You know what we should do? Let’s hit the Indy’s Best of Missoula Party at Caras Park, and then visit the Badlander for TNT Thursdays. (By the way, these are all real events happening July 10. Thanks for the help,!) Missoula Events Nobody understands how hard it is to live in this town. Do you really expect us to simply choose between Trivial Beersuit at the Lucky Strike, or Big Brains Trivia at the Holiday Inn Downtown? The mind can only take so much pressure! Luckily, the people

Finalists, Best Website 2. Missoula Independent: 3. Make It Missoula:

Finalists, Best Radio Personality 2. Tracy Lopez, The Trail 103.3:721-6800; 3. Angel Hughes, 96.3 The Blaze: 829-1590;

STAFFPICK Best Payoff for Singing in the Shower A few weeks ago at the Top Hat, the dance floor was filled with toddlers bouncing and running in circles to the sound of live music while parents sipped on microbrews. FamilyFriendly Friday always features a band for kids and parents to enjoy, but on this particular evening everyone was partying to a live choir called Pura Vida whose evening repertoire spanned from “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” to “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. But there was something different about this choir—unlike so many professional groups, this one seemed unrestrained, a little more free-form and often, well, off-key. Pura Vida, directed by musician Joshua Farmer, is one of two choirs in town that doesn’t require auditions. The other is the Missoula Community Chorus directed by Ron Wilcott. These choirs are all about embracing people who probably love to sing in the shower but maybe don’t have the professional training or raw talent of, say, Dolce Canto. What Pura Vida didn’t have in refined training that night, it more than made up for in its exuberance. There were great voices mixed in with average ones, like some kind of perfect singing democracy. The point is, nobody cared for perfection; everyone was just having a good time.

[56] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

Best University of Montana Professor Garon Smith Garon Smith’s Griz card identifies him as “G. Wiz” and includes a photo of him wearing wizard robes. The nickname stands for “Garon the Wizard,” a professor who knows the value of incorporating a little entertainment into his undergraduate chemistry classes. Smith surmises that among the reasons he earned this year’s victory is the fact that he shares with his students all of the fascinating aspects of chemistry, such as how snowflakes form and why the sky is blue, in a quirky way that sticks. It likely helps that Smith periodically casts a “spell” related to the day’s lesson. “No one ever said that you can’t have fun while learning,” Smith says. Finalists, Best UM Professor 2. Garry Kerr 3. Robert Stubblefield


Sports and Recreation Best Bike Shop

Open Road Whether you’re looking to bike to class, to Hamilton or to the top of Blue Mountain, Open Road has the bike for you. The shop’s inventory includes pristine Trek cruisers, versatile Surly cyclocross rigs and extreme Gary Fisher mountain bikes. There’s even an occasional used bike locked up out front, available way below list price. It’s not just the bikes, though, that have kept locals flocking to this Orange Street outpost for more than a quarter century. It’s also the friendly and expert staff, the plethora of accoutrements and the stash of Nordic ski gear that comes out when winter comes around. Open Road Bicycles and Nordic: 517 S. Orange St, 549-2453, Finalists, Best Bike Shop 2. Hellgate Cyclery: 316 N. Higgins Ave, 549-8785, 3. Missoula Bicycle Works: 708 S. Higgins Ave, 721-6525,

Best Bowling Alley Westside Lanes Some people bowl because they really care how many pins they can knock down from 60 feet away with a perfectly polished stone. Some people bowl because they want an excuse to drink beer and eat pizza. Some people bowl because they’re in high school and a bowling alley is a good place to play arcade games, meet girls and run into kids who go to other schools. There are all kinds of people with all kinds of reasons to bowl, and they’re all over at Westside Lanes any night of the week, wearing rented shoes and having a good time. Westside Lanes: 1615 Wyoming St, 721-5263, Finalist, Best Bowling Alley 2. Lucky Strike/Five Valleys: 1515 Dearborn Ave, 549-4158,

Best Golf Course University Golf Course Where else can you enjoy forested hillsides, fecund riparian areas and the bucolic majesty of old-growth trees, all while you’re living out your Cinderella story, about to become the Masters champion? If you play like we do, add aquatic culture to that list. The University Golf Course is Missoula’s public golf jewel. It’s handy and well-manicured, challenging yet forgiving. And driving your cart down that steep hill from the third tee to the fairway, you feel like Evel Knievel approaching the jump ramp at Caesar’s Palace. Locals have long shown their love for the course by their votes in this category and repeatedly repelling efforts by university administrators to build on the land. University Golf Course: 515 South Ave, 728-8629, Finalists, Best Golf Course 2. Canyon River Golf Club: 1268 Bandmann Trail Rd, 721-0222, 3. Larchmont Golf Course: 3200 Fort Missoula Rd, 721-4416,

Best Store for Skis Gull Ski & Snowboard Most skiers will tell you the boots are the critical component in the perfect setup. Too tight and they pinch. Too loose and they slip. Not stiff enough and you’ll spend the day riding your tails. Thankfully the folks at Gull are up-to-date on the latest gear— whether this boot is better for the backcountry or that boot is better for carving huge on-area turns. And they’re always at the ready to dole out that industry intel. Tell them what your hopes and dreams are for the winter and heed their advice. Your feet, your form and your season will thank you for it later. Gull Ski & Snowboard: 2601 W. Broadway, 5495613, Finalists, Best Store for Skis 2. Bob Ward & Sons, Inc: 3015 Paxson St, 728-3220, 3. The Trail Head: 221 E. Front St, 543-6966,

Best Place to Get a Snowboard Edge of the World You know how when you’re in the middle of a huckfest and some meat torpedo does a nose manny in your path, causing you to scorpion into the pow to avoid a total fraggle? Yeah, we hate that. When it comes to snowboarding, knowledge is power. Edge of the World is here to not only provide you with the epic gear and crunchy snowboard wear, but they also host clinics throughout the season to demonstrate boarding style and technique. Anyone who’s attended their Treasure State Shredfest at Caras Park will tell you that Edge of the World is the center of the snowboarding universe. Edge of the World: 618 S. Higgins, 721-7774, Finalists, Best Place to get a Snowboard 2. Bob Ward & Sons, Inc: 3015 Paxson St, 728-3220, 3. Gull Ski & Snowboard: 2601 W. Broadway, 549-5613,

Best Sporting Goods Store Best Store for Guns Bob Ward and Sons According to store legend, Bob Ward ended up in Missoula by accident. He was on his way to prospect for gold in the Klondike when, at the turn of the 20th century, he came to our town, ran out of money and decided to stay. After struggling to find a good job in the area (some things never change), Ward turned his skills as a gunsmith into a flourishing business. His sons turned the shop into a popular statewide chain of sporting goods stores. The enduring appeal of what Bob Ward started is obvious: You can buy all your outdoors needs in one stop, with the aid of expert salespeople who are happy to help you navigate the store’s almost overwhelming selection. Bob Ward & Sons, Inc: 3015 Paxson St, 728-3220, Finalists, Best Sporting Goods Store 2. REI: 3275 N. Reserve, 541-1938, • Best of Missoula 2014 [57]

3. The Trail Head: 221 E. Front St, 543-6966, Finalists, Best Store for Guns 2. Axmen: 5175 Highway 93 S, 251-3399, 3. Sportsman’s Warehouse: 2323 N. Reserve, 523-9000,

end will even help maximize the shop’s half-off your first dozen flies deal. It’s good to have a place to count on in case of tackle-related emergencies; it’s better to let Kingfisher help you avoid that panic in the first place. Kingfisher Fly Shop 926 E. Broadway, 721-6141, Finalists, Best Fly-fishing Shop 2. Grizzly Hackle: 215 W. Front St, 721-8996, 3. Missoulian Angler Fly Shop: 802 S. Higgins, 728-7766,

Best Fly-fishing Shop Kingfisher Fly Shop Every once in a while, fly fishing around Missoula can bring about a moment of mid-morning panic. Rolling through town on the way to Rock Creek or the Blackfoot, you realize you forgot to buy a new leader or replenish your supply of salmon flies. Kingfisher is ideally situated to meet those lastminute needs, being right next to I-90 and all. But the shop also has a firm handle on the advanced planning side, offering guided trips, fly-fishing classes and detailed online river reports. Knowing exactly what the fish are biting ahead of the week-

Stacy Jennings

[58] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

Best Fishing Guide Stacy Jennings’ Fly Fishing School “Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.” When it comes to being a fly-fishing guide, you kind of have to do both: You teach people to fish and make sure they actually get one. Longtime winner of this category Stacy Jennings gets both men and women out on the water, where she teaches them to separate myth from reality. (For example, you don’t have to fancy cast like Brad Pitt’s character in A River Runs Through It.)

photo by Cathrine L. Walters

She’s popular, too, because she caters to the growing number of fisherwomen in the sport by offering frequent women’s casting clinics, while holding her own in an occupation that is still dominated by dudes. Stacy Jennings, Fly Fishing School: 3704027, Finalists, Best Fishing Guide 2. Jamie Rogers, Blackfoot River Outfitters: 542-7411, 3. Joe Sowerby, Montana Flyfishing Connection: 370-2868,

Best Place for Paddle Sports Gear Strongwater The folks at Strongwater have done a lot in recent years to enhance Missoula’s reputation for water sports. It’s pretty common these days to see someone stroll from Strongwater’s Hip Strip storefront to Brennan’s Wave for an afternoon of surfing. Heck, the shop was pivotal in introducing western Montana to the increasingly popular sport of standup paddleboarding. When it comes to recreation in these parts, Strongwater doesn’t just have its finger on the pulse— it’s become a beating heart for all things water-based. Strongwater: 612 S. Higgins, 721-2437, Finalists, Best Place for Paddle Sports Gear 2. The Trail Head: 221 E. Front St, 543-6966,

3. REI: 3275 N. Reserve, 541-1938,

Best Store for Mountaineering Gear The Trail Head Missoula’s climbing scene has followed the nationwide trend in recent years, with scores of newcomers trying their hand at everything from trad climbs to bouldering. That makes the wall full of ropes, helmets, carabiners and crampons at The Trail Head even more of a linchpin in getting locals out and about. The staff know their stuff, too, making it all the easier to score the ideal beginner harness or fill out a climbing rack for a weekend down the Bitterroot. And if you need more help figuring out the best cliffs to hit, The Trail Head’s library of maps and guidebooks will set you on the path to a memorable summer. The Trail Head: 221 E. Front St, 543-6966, Finalists, Best Store for Mountaineering Gear 2. REI: 3275 N. Reserve, 541-1938, 3. Bob Ward & Sons, Inc: 3015 Paxson St, 728-3220,

Best Health Club Peak Health & Wellness Have you got social fitness anxiety? Does your ideal workout routine resemble Kevin Spacey’s in American Beauty, lifting weights in the garage,

STAFFPICK Best Surprise Solo In late April, T-Pain fans were dismayed to learn that his show at the Wilma Theatre had been canceled due to low ticket sales. While most big-time rappers would just get back on the bus (or plane) and head home, T-Pain wandered over to the Top Hat with his entourage to check out another big act, reggae legends Steel Pulse. At first, no one believed it was really T-Pain in attendance. “Where’s your Auto-tune?” one local guitarist yelled out to the delight of T-Pain and his buddies. Even better, the rapper didn’t just stick to the sidelines. He got up on stage with Steel Pulse to help them sing “Put Your Hoodies On [for Trayvon]” to a giddy and surprised crowd. rockin’ out to Bob Dylan? Well, the Peak can be quite the draw for all the lone-wolf fitness freaks in town, with over 20,000 square feet of space in their downtown spot, 51,000 square feet in their Racquet Club and 50,000 square feet in the original club near Blue Mountain. It should also go without saying that their state-of-the-art equipment beats the hell out of those Craigslist dumbbells you haven’t touched since February. Peak Health & Wellness Center: 5000 Blue Mountain Rd; 150 E. Spruce Street; 251-3344,

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


Uniquely Misswoula Best Church Choir

Holy Spirit Nothing brings the divine down to the human level like voices in song. Especially when those voices belong to the members of Holy Spirit Episcopal Church’s Holy Spirit Choir. The 35 members are all volunteers, but the sounds they conjure from their hymnals sound solidly professional. In part, that might be a result of the presence of a ringer: Nancy Cooper, the choir’s director, has a Ph.D. from the Eastman School of Music and is a faculty member in the University of Montana’s School of Music. Cooper is an expert, and by extension so are the singers she leads. Holy Spirit: 130 S. Sixth St. E, Finalists, Best Church Choir 2. University Congregational: University of Montana, 3. St. Anthony’s: 217 Tremont St, 543-3129, • Best of Missoula 2014 [59]

Caras Park

photo by Cathrine L. Walters

Best Festival

STAFFPICK Best Category We Forgot For the past three years we’ve ended our long and laborious 180-plus-category online Best of Missoula ballot with one last question: What’s the Best Category We Forgot? Usually, we receive hundreds of answers along the lines of “Are you serious?! We just voted for everything possible” or hundreds more lauding the voter’s significant other (Best Wife/Husband/Partner/Dog/Cat/you name it). We also receive a few funny answers that help us write this blurb (Best Newspaper to Light Charcoal With, Best Ass, Best Thing to Put in Your Ass, Best Person to Replace Obama) and serious answers that will be considered for the 2015 ballot (Best Pub Trivia, Best Comedian, Best Food Cart). In other words, it’s a question that helps us tweak the contest and improve it, as well as have a little fun. This year, however, we received an answer that caught us by surprise: Best Hardware Store. Turns out, this is literally a category we forgot. For years it’s been a Best of Missoula staple and this time around it was mistakenly left off the ballot due to an administrative error. We apologize to those who take their hammers and screws seriously and look forward to its return next year. Perhaps with Best Food Cart, as well. Best Ass? Uh, probably not.

River City Roots River City Roots isn’t quarantined to a single park or block. Instead, it spreads through a big chunk of downtown, taking over multiple blocks of Main and Ryman streets, incorporating a family-centric festival in Caras Park and including a 4-mile run across downtown. There’s art, food and, most importantly, music. Last year, Railroad Earth and the Gourds headlined the evening sets. This year, Sam Bush and Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas will take top billing, so mark your calendar now for the weekend of Aug. 23 and 24. Finalists, Best Festival 2. Garden City BrewFest 3. Celtic Festival

Best Nonprofit Organization YWCA It is a credit to Missoula that there is so much competition in this category—and a credit to Y WCA that the organization is perennially voted to the top. Y WCA pursues its sweeping mission of “eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people in our community” with determined focus and a broad range of initiatives. The group runs a shelter for victims of domestic violence, operates a 24-hour crisis hotline and offers leadership programs for young women. Y WCA also operates two thrift stores that allow all Missoulians a convenient way to contribute to the important work this nonprofit is doing. Y WCA 1130 W. Broadway, 543-6691,

[60] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

Finalists, Best Non-Profit Organization 2. Zootown Arts Community Center: 235 N. First St. W, 549-7555, 3. Clark Fork Coalition: 140 S. Fourth St. W, 542-0539,

Best Place for People-Watching Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners Caras Park Caras Park events include brew festivals, pet festivals, hemp festivals and general all-purpose eating, drinking and listening-to-music festivals like Downtown ToNight and Out to Lunch. So it makes sense that the best place to people watch is at the one place with so much happening. Business people, college kids, old hippies, musicians, families, even train hoppers—they’re all here, all festivalizing, and providing the perfect study of human behavior. For all the same reasons, it also makes sense to bring out-of-town guests here. If nothing else, it’s an easy way to provide a window into Missoula’s dynamic culture, with the added bonus of a riverside view. We’re guessing your guests will likely be delighted by—and envious of— the amount of merrymaking this town can muster. Finalists, Best Place for People-Watching 2. Farmers Markets 3. Southgate Mall Finalists, Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners 2. Farmers Markets 3. The “M”

Best Place to Walk Dogs Blue Mountain There are lots of great places to walk a dog in and around town. Why else would our per capita canine rates be so astronomically high? Blue Mountain is consistently rated the best of a long list, not only because it satisfies dogs but also because it makes life so easy on their owners. As soon as you open your car door, little Fido or Fluffy or Ramsay can run to his heart’s content, find some friends to tire him out, and follow, at his own pace, as you explore an extensive network of trails. Hey, the dog walk doesn’t have to just be for the dog, right? Finalists, Best Place to Walk Dogs 2. Riverfront Trails 3. Jacob’s Island Bark Park

Best Place for Kids’ Fun A Carousel for Missoula & Dragon Hollow You’d think after a bazillion different visits to downtown Missoula and the banks of the Clark Fork, the little crumb catchers who cling to your leg would catch a glimpse of Dragon Hollow and A Carousel for Missoula and not immediately start screaming like the paparazzi just spotted Brad Pitt necking with George Clooney, naked. But that’s what parents get. Every. Dang. Time. For all the temporary annoyance that comes from entertaining yet another push on the tire swing or ride on the multi-colored horses, it’s cool to think that this is the place your kids will remember about the purest joys of childhood. A Carousel for Missoula & Dragon Hollow: 101 Carousel Drive, 549-8382, Finalists, Best Place for Kids’ Fun 2. Children’s Museum: 225 W. Front S, 541-7529, • Best of Missoula 2014 [61]

3. spectrUM: 218 E. Front Street, 728-7836,

Best Leader of the Revolution Ellie Hill Anybody who knows Ellie Hill—current state legislator, former nonprofit executive director, new mom, lawyer—knows she’s not one to back down from a fight. That’s why it came as little surprise that when Missoula mourned the death of an exchange student shot earlier this year, Hill didn’t hesitate to confront those she thought were responsible. “I know that the National Rifle Association will come after me,” she told the Indy as she initiated efforts to repeal aspects of Montana’s controversial castle doctrine. Her move to combat a law that, she says, enables homeowners “to shoot first and ask questions later,” is indicative of Hill’s unwavering resolve to fight the good fight, whether that means standing up to the gun lobby or facing off against hateful religious leaders while advocating for LGBT rights in Helena. Hill’s efforts have landed her on cable television and in the pages of Time magazine, but she continues to win this category because Indy readers know her focus remains right here at home. Ellie Hill, House Legislator: Finalists, Best Leader of the Revolution 2. Linda McCarthy, MDA: 3. Eran Fowler Pehan, Poverello Center: Blue Mountain

[62] Missoula Independent • Best of Missoula 2014

photo by Grace Ryan • Best of Missoula 2014 [63]

Best of Missoula 2014  

Independent readers' choose the best in Missoula

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