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Best of Arkansas 2016 

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The Arkansas Times presents its annual "Best of" issue, giving our readers the floor to present their nominees for the best candidates in clothes-shopping, gun-buying, plant-picking, farmers marketing, hairdo-ing and so forth. You may, of course, vote your conscience, or you may follow the lead of those who say Lake Ouachita is the best place to swim, Pinnacle Mountain State Park is the best place to hike, Riverdale 10 is the best place to watch a movie and the Arkansas Repertory Theatre is the best place to see a play. Along with our list of bests, we take a closer look at local best musical equipment winner Dogtown Sound by our music expert Stephanie Smittle; the hip shoe emporium Old Heights Corner Store, a runner-up in several categories and written by the hippest person on staff, Tom Coulter; Arkansas Circus Arts, which reached performing runner-up status with the greatest of ease, by our earthbound writer David Koon; and offer a survey of Boulevard Bread Co.'s scrumptious offerings. The Times staff also offers its write-in best candidates, including the beef cheeks at Hillcrest Artisan Meats, a faunal viewing drive in East Little Rock, magical elderberries, the best shoe repair shop, the best place to watch a meteor shower, the best place to hear "new classical" music for free and more.

As our yin to your yang, we also offer a new feature, a Worst of Arkansas Activity Book! Get out your crayons and pencils, put on your thinking caps and have fun with games inspired by our readers' least favorite Arkansans!

Shopping center

Promenade at Chenal

Runners-up: Midtowne, The Outlets of Little Rock, Park Plaza Mall, Pleasant Ridge Town Center

Grocery store

Kroger

Local winner: Edwards Food Giant

Runners-up: The Fresh Market, Natural Grocers, Whole Foods Market

Women's clothing

Box Turtle

Runners-up: Anthropologie, Dillard's, E. Leigh's, Tulips

Men's clothing

Dillard's

Runners-up: Barakat Bespoke, Baumans, Greenhaw's Fine Men's Wear, Mr. Wicks

Hip clothing

Fringe Clothing

Runners-up: Box Turtle, Old Heights Corner Store, Rock City Kicks, Scarlet

Children's clothing

The Toggery

Runners-up: Carter's, The Children's Place (Conway), Dillard's, Pickles & Ice Cream

Vintage clothing

Goodwill

Local winner: Mid-Towne Antique Mall

Runners-up: Cheap Thrills (Fayetteville), Galaxy Furniture, Savers

Lingerie

Victoria's Secret

Local winner: Cupids

Runners-up: Adam and Eve, Dillard's, Seductions

Shoes

Dillard's

Local winner: Rock City Kicks

Runners-up: DSW, Old Heights Corner Store, Shoe Carnival

Antiques

Mid-Towne Antique Mall

Runners-up: Blue Suede Shoes, Fabulous Finds, Sweet Home/Clement, Morris Antiques

Furniture

Hank's Fine Furniture

Runners-up: Ashley Furniture, Erdos at Home, Cantrell Furniture Design Center, Nichols Furniture

Garden store or nursery

The Good Earth Garden Center

Runners-up: Botanica Gardens, Green Tree Nursery, Hocott's Garden Center, Plantopia

Hardware/home improvement

Fuller and Son

Runners-up: The Home Depot, Kraftco Hardware and Building Supply, Stanley Hardware, Lowe's Home Improvement

Eyewear

Burrow's and Mr. Frank's Optical

Runners-up: Deer Penick Eye Clinic, James Eye Care, Kavanaugh Eye Care, Little Rock Eye Clinic

Fresh vegetables

Hillcrest Farmers Market

Runners-up: Argenta Farmers Market, Bernice Garden Farmer's Market, Fayetteville Farmers Market, Little Rock Farmers' Market

Outdoor store

Ozark Outdoor Supply

Runners-up: Academy Sports and Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops, Gander Mountain, Gene Lockwood's

Bicycle shop

Chainwheel

Runners-up: Angry Dave's Bicycles, Arkansas Cycling & Fitness, The Community Bicyclist, Spokes

Gun store

Fort Thompson Sporting Goods

Runners-up: Arkansas Armory, Bass Pro Shops, Don's Weaponry Inc., Gander Mountain

Commercial art gallery

Gallery 26

Runners-up: Boswell Mourot Fine Art, Cantrell Gallery, Hearne Fine Art, M2 Gallery

Mobile phone

AT&T

Runners-up: Sprint, Verizon

Internet service provider

AT&T

Runners-up: Aristotle, Centurylink, Comcast, Conway Corp., Suddenlink

Residential real estate agency

Coldwell Banker Rector Phillips Morse

Runners-up: The Charlotte John Co., Crye-Leike, The Janet Jones Co., Keller Williams Realty

Commercial real estate agency

Moses Tucker Real Estate

Runners-up: Coldwell Banker Rector Phillips Morse, Flake & Kelly

Auto service

Jett's Gas and Service

Runners-up: Austin Brothers Tire and Service, Discount Tire & Brake Inc., Foster's Garage, Firestone

Auto stereo

Arkansas Car Stereo

Runners-up: Auto Audio, Best Buy, Bryant Audio

Travel agency

Poe Travel

Runners-up: Small World Big Fun, Sue Smith Vacations, The Travel Shop, West Rock Travel

Hotel

Capital Hotel

Runners-up: 21c Museum Hotel (Bentonville), The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa (Eureka Springs), DoubleTree Hotel, Little Rock Marriott

Private school

Pulaski Academy

Runners-up: Catholic High School for Boys, Episcopal Collegiate, Miss Selma's School, Mount St. Mary Academy

Public school

Central High School

Runners-up: Forest Park Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, North Little Rock High School, Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School

Apartment complex

The Park at Riverdale

Runners-up: Brightwaters Apartments, Pleasant Woods, The Pointe Brodie Creek, Rivercliff Apartments

Bank

Arvest Bank

Runners-up: First Security Bank, Bank of the Ozarks, Regions, Simmons Bank

Barber shop

Jerry's Barber Shop

Runners-up: The Art of Men's Cuts (Bryant), Hood's Barber Shop, The Local Hair Shop, Sport Clips

Salon

Suite.102.Salon

Runners-up: Fringe Benefits, Joels, Joey Edwards Salon, The Local Hair Shop, Red Beauty Lounge

Spa

Rejuvenation Day Spa

Runners-up: Ava Bella Day Spa, Caracalla Salon and Body Spa, Floating Lotus Yoga Studio and Day Spa, Indulgences

Diet/Weight Loss Center

Natural State Health Center

Runners-up: Baptist Health Weight Management, Bryant Weight Loss Center, Diet Center, Onyx Nutrition and Fitness

Jeweler

Sissy's Log Cabin

Runners-up: Cecil's Fine Jewelry, Kenneth Edwards Fine Jewelers, Stanley Jewelers, Roberson's Fine Jewelry

Pharmacy

Cornerstone Pharmacy

Runners-up: Kroger, The Pharmacy at Wellington, Rhea Drug Store, Walgreens

Auto dealer

Steve Landers Toyota

Runners-up: Everett GMC, Steve Landers Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Parker Lexus

Car

Subaru Outback

Runners-up: Honda Accord, Honda Pilot, Lexus, Toyota Prius

Home entertainment store

Best Buy

Local winner: Arkansas Record and CD Exchange

Runners-up: Apple Store, Carnes Audio Visual, Hastings (Conway)

Sporting goods

Academy Sports and Outdoors

Local winner: Ozark Outdoor Supply

Runners-up: Bass Pro Shops, Gene Lockwood's, Zimmerman's Sports Center

Toys

Toys "R" Us

Local winner: Box Turtle Kids

Runners-up: Learning Express, Target, The Toggery, The Toy Chest (Hot Springs)

Florist

Tipton & Hurst

Runners-up: About Vase, Empty Vase, Floral Express (Fayetteville), Frances Flower Shop

Plumber

Russell and LeMay

Runners-up: Advantage Service Co., Don Houff Plumbing, Ray Lusk Plumbing, S&K Quality Plumbing

HVAC Repair

Middleton Heat and Air

Runners-up: Bert Black Service Companies, Bob & Ed's Heating & Air Conditioning Co., Jay's Service Co., Russell & LeMay

Gift shop

The Crown Shop

Local winner: Box Turtle

Runners-up: Bella Vita Jewelry, The Full Moon, Moxy Modern Mercantile

Veterinarian

Hillcrest Animal Hospital

Runners-up: ALLPETS Animal Hospital, Green Mountain Animal Hospital, Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic, Pinnacle Valley Animal Hospital

Dry cleaners

Hangers Cleaners

Runners-up: Crestwood Cleaners, Moose Cleaners, Oak Forest Cleaners, Schickel's Cleaners

Artisan

Bang Up Betty (jeweler)

Runners-up: Jane Hankins (artist), Katherine Strause (painter), Terra Studios

Decorator

Garry Mertins

Runners-up: Tom Chandler, Tobi Fairley, Marilynn Porter, Larry West

Hobby shop

The Water Buffalo

Runners-up: Art Outfitters, Hobby Lobby, Michael's, Moxy Modern Mercantile

Music equipment

Guitar Center

Local winner: Dogtown Sound

Runners-up: Best Buy, Jacksonville Guitar, Saied Music Co.

Bookstore

Barnes & Noble

Local winner: WordsWorth Books & Co.

Runners-up: Dickson Street Bookshop (Fayetteville), Nightbird Books (Fayetteville), River Market Books and Gifts

Pawn shop

Braswell and Sons Pawnbrokers

Runners-up: A-1 Gun and Pawn Inc., iPawn, USA Loans, Sue's Pawn Shop (Benton)

Funeral home

Roller Funeral Homes

Runners-up: Ruebel Funeral Home, Olmstead Funeral Home, North Little Rock Funeral Home, Smith Funeral Home

Retirement community

Parkway Village

Runners-up: Fox Ridge Assisted Living, Good Shepherd Community, Presbyterian Village, Woodland Heights

Place to take a yoga class

Barefoot Studio

Runners-up: Arkansas Yoga Collective, Blue Yoga Nyla, Clubhaus, Little Rock Athletic Club

Chiropractor

Brady DeClerk

Runners-up: Beverly Foster, John Vincent, Elite Chiropractic, Rebecca Slayton

Tattoo

Robert Barry (7th Street Tattoo & Piercing)

Runners-up: Adrian Berry (7th Street Tattoo & Piercing), Scott Diffee (The Parlor), Rick Medina (Tried & True Tattoo), Katie McGowan (Black Cobra)

Investment adviser

Kelly Ross Journey (Edward Jones)

Runners-up: Barry Burch (Crews), Barry Corkern, Heath Harper (Morgan Stanley), Mike Jared (Edward Jones)

Company to work for

Arkansas Children's Hospital

Runners-up: Heifer International, Museum of Discovery, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Youth Home

Recreation

Place to swim

Lake Ouachita

Runners-up: Jim Dailey Fitness Center, Brady Mountain Resort, Greers Ferry Lake, Little Rock Racquet Club, Magic Springs (Hot Springs)

Park

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

Runners-up: Allsopp Park, Burns Park, Two Rivers Park, Murray Park

Cheap date

Movies in the Park

Runners-up: Arkansas Travelers, Big Dam Bridge, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville), 2nd Friday Art Walk

Weekend getaway

Hot Springs

Runners-up: Eureka Springs, Mount Magazine, Bentonville, Petit Jean State Park

Resort

Mountain Harbor

Runners-up: DeGray Lake Resort, Red Apple Inn, Gaston's White River Resort, The Lodge at Mount Magazine

Golf course

Rebsamen Park Golf Course

Runners-up: Pleasant Valley Country Club, Chenal Country Club, Country Club of Little Rock, War Memorial Golf Course

Athletic club

Little Rock Athletic Club

Runners-up: 10 Fitness, Clubhaus, LA Fitness, North Little Rock Athletic Club, Omnis Crossfit

Hiking trail

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

Runners-up: Allsopp Park, Devil's Den State Park, Petit Jean Mountain, Two Rivers Park

Place to mountain bike

Camp Robinson

Runners-up: Allsopp Park, Burns Park, Pinnacle Mountain, Slaughter Pen (Bentonville)

Marina

Heber Springs Marina (Greers Ferry Lake)

Runners-up: Mountain Harbor (Lake Ouachita), Jolly Roger's Marina (Lake Maumelle), Brady Mountain Marina (Lake Ouachita), Peter's Sugar Loaf Marina (Greers Feer Lake)

Entertainment

Local charity event

Eggshibition (Youth Home)

Runners-up: Opus Ball (Arkansas Symphony Orchestra); Race for the Cure (Komen Foundation); Red Jacket Ball (City Year); Starry, Starry Night (ACCESS)

Musician or band

Rodney Block and the Real Music Lovers

Runners-up: Amasa Hines, Chris DeClerk, Kevin Kerby, Tragikly White

DJ

G-force

Runners-up: DJ Ike, Seth Baldy, Mike Poe, Wolf E Wolf

Place for live music

White Water Tavern

Runners-up: South on Main, Stickyz Rock 'N' Roll Chicken Shack, Revolution Music Room, Vino's

Place to dance

Cajun's Wharf

Runners-up: Club Level, Discovery, South on Main, Sway

Live music festival

Riverfest

Runners-up: Highberry Music Festival (Mulberry Mountain), King Biscuit Blues Festival (Helena-West Helena), Hot Springs Jazz Festival, Toad Suck Daze (Conway)

Neighborhood festival

Hillcrest HarvestFest

Runners-up: Cornbread Festival, Chili Fights in the Heights, Main Street Food Truck Festival, Patio in Park Hill

Late-night spot

Midtown Billiards

Runners-up: Discovery, Ciao Baci, Electric Cowboy, White Water Tavern

Gay bar

Sway Nightclub

Runners-up: Chaps, Discovery, 610 Center, Triniti

Sports bar

Twin Peaks

Runners-up: Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar, Dugan's Pub, Gusano's, The Tavern Sports Grill

Movie theater

Riverdale 10

Runners-up: Breckenridge, Colonel Glenn 18 and XD, Dickinson Chenal, Ron Robinson Theater

Museum

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville)

Runners-up: Museum of Discovery, Arkansas Arts Center, Clinton Presidential Center, Historic Arkansas Museum

Performing arts group

Arkansas Repertory Theatre

Runners-up: Arkansas Circus Arts, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Arkansas, Red Octopus

Place to gamble

Oaklawn Racing and Gaming

Runners-up: Tunica, Southland Park, Choctaw Casino (Oklahoma), Cherokee Casino (Oklahoma)

Place to see someone famous

Capital Hotel

Runners-up: River Market district, Clinton Presidential Center, South on Main, Verizon Arena

Food and Drink

Food festival

Greek Food Festival

Runners-up: Arkansas Times Craft Beer Festival, Jewish Food Festival, Main Street Food Truck Festival, Cornbread Festival

French fries

Big Orange

Runners-up: Buffalo Grill, David's Burgers, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Maddie's Place

Onion rings

Cotham's

Runners-up: Sonic, Bash Burger Co., Cheddars, Purple Cow

Cheese Dip

Mexico Chiquito

Runners-up: El Porton, Local Lime, Loca Luna, Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro

Ribs

Whole Hog Cafe

Runners-up: Sims Bar-B-Que, Corky's Ribs and BBQ, McClard's Bar-B-Q, South on Main

Wine list

Crush Wine Bar

Runners-up: Cache Restaurant, Ciao Baci, Samantha's Taproom, Zin Urban Wine and Beer Bar

Arkansas-brewed beer

Lost Forty

Runners-up: Diamond Bear, Flyway Brewing, Ozark Brewing Co., Stone's Throw

Happy hour

Big Orange 

Runners-up: Boulevard Bistro, Local Lime, Reno's Argenta Cafe, Samantha's Taproom

Liquor store

Colonial Wines and Spirits

Runners-up: Sullivant's Liquor Store, 107 Liquor (Sherwood), Heights Fine Wines and Spirits, Legacy Wine and Spirits, O'Looney's Wine and Liquor

Sushi

Sushi Cafe

Runners-up: Kemuri, Hanaroo, Mt. Fuji, Sky Modern

Salad

ZAZA Fine Salad and Wood-Oven Pizza Co.

Runners-up: U.S. Pizza Co., Samantha's Taproom, Trio's Restaurant, The Root Cafe

Business lunch

Capital Bar and Grill

Runners-up: Brave New Restaurant, Forty Two, Samantha's Taproom, Trio's Restaurant

Brunch

Red Door Restaurant

Runners-up: Lost Forty, YaYa's Euro Bistro, The Root Cafe, South on Main

Cocktail

South on Main

Runners-up: 109 & Co., Cache Restaurant, Capital Bar and Grill, Heights Taco & Tamale Co.

Milkshake

Purple Cow

Runners-up: Big Orange, Loblolly Creamery, Sonic, Shake's Frozen Custard

Vegetarian

The Root Cafe

Runners-up: Big Orange, Boulevard Bread Co., Greenhouse Grille (Fayetteville), Three Fold

Bread

Boulevard Bread Co.

Runners-up: Arkansas Fresh, Old Mill Bread and Flour Co., Community Bakery, Mylo Coffee Co.

Caterer

Catering to You

Runners-up: Boulevard Bread Co., Dinner's Ready, Simply the Best, Trio's Restaurant

Outdoor dining

Cajun's Wharf

Runners-up: Brave New Restaurant, Damgoode Pies River Market, La Terraza Rum & Lounge, U.S. Pizza Hillcrest

People and Politics

Artist

Kevin Kresse

Runners-up: V.L. Cox, John Kushmaul, Matt McLeod, Katherine Strause

Celebrity

Mary Steenburgen

Runners-up: Bill Clinton, Joey Lauren Adams, Kari Faux, Justin Moore

Photographer

Rett Peek

Runners-up: Joshua Asante, Brian Chilson, Rita Henry, Steven Veach

Politician

Warwick Sabin

Runners-up: Joyce Elliott, Clarke Tucker, Asa Hutchinson, Kathy Webb

Athlete

Hunter Henry

Runners-up: Alex Collins, Dusty Hannahs, Darren McFadden, Bobby Portis

Liberal

Max Brantley

Runners-up: Matt Campbell, Joyce Elliott, Warwick Sabin, Kathy Webb

Conservative

Asa Hutchinson

Runners-up: Nate Bell, Davy Carter, Tom Cotton, John Thurston

Worst Arkansan

Tom Cotton and Jason Rapert (tie)

Runners-up: Josh Duggar, Mike Maggio, Dennis Milligan, Leslie Rutledge

Charity

Heifer International

Runners-up: Arkansas Foodbank, Our House, The Van, Youth Home

Misuse of taxpayer funds

Dennis Milligan

Runners-up: Anti-abortion legislation, Growing God's Kingdom preschool, Little Rock trolley, redecorating the Governor's Mansion

Media

Radio station

Alice-FM, KLAL 107.7

Runners-up: KABF-FM 88.3, KUAR-FM 89.1, The Buzz-FM KABZ 103.7, KUAF-FM (Fayetteville)

Radio personality

Heather and Poolboy

Runners-up: Justin Acri, Corey Dietz, Tommy Smith, Lisa Fisher

TV station

KATV, Channel 7

Runners-up: KARK, Channel 4; KLRT, Fox 16; KTHV, Channell 11; AETN

TV news person

Craig O'Neill

Runners-up: Bob Clausen, Alyson Courtney, Beth Hunt, Donna Terrell

TV weatherman

Todd Yakoubian

Runners-up: Barry Brandt, Tom Brannon, Ed Buckner, Ned Perme

TV sports

Steve Sullivan

Runners-up: D.J. Williams, Aaron Peters, Mary Dunleavy

Newspaper writer

Max Brantley

Runners-up: John Brummett, Ernest Dumas, Benjamin Hardy, Wally Hall

Blog

Arkansas Blog

Runners-up: Blue Hog Report, Eat Arkansas, Rex Nelson's Southern Fried

Website

arktimes.com

Runners-up: bluehogreport.com, fayettevilleflyer.com, rockcitytimes.com, talkbusiness.net

Twitter feed

@arkansasblog

Runners-up: @jessicaxan, @johnbrummett, @KATV_Weather

Instagram feed

@tnorman23

Runners-up: @bangupbetty, @hannahacarpenter, @lrfoodcast

Author

Charles Portis

Runners-up: Kevin Brockmeier, Garrard Conley, John Grisham, Mara Leveritt


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