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Best of Arkansas 2017 

Cream of the shops, and more

click to enlarge GALLERY 26: The Hillcrest gallery was chosen best place to buy fine art.
  • GALLERY 26: The Hillcrest gallery was chosen best place to buy fine art.

The best, the greatest, nonpareil, primo, boss, a perfect 10. The Colosseum and the Louvre Museum. The tops! That's how Arkansas Times readers judge the businesses, from lingerie shops to veterinarians to HVAC repair, you'll read about below. 

Use the results of our annual survey for advice, or look for your own business in the list. Send us your disputations or back up what we print here. You may read that our own senior editor, Max Brantley, won best newspaper writer and squeal "Rigged!" (It is not!) You'll read that Riverfest won best music festival and sigh, "What a shame!" You'll see our readers' choice for worst Arkansan is Sen. Jason Rapert and exclaim, "Just so!"

You'll read reporter Jacob Rosenberg's piece on his trip to Oaklawn and wonder, "Did he come out ahead?" (Answer: Yes.) Along with the Oaklawn feature, we give you a little more info on other winners and finalists, like Bang-Up Betty (artisan), Crying Weasel (vintage clothing), Good Earth (garden store), Flyway Brewing (Arkansas-brewed beer) and WordsWorth Books (bookstore), and our annual editor's picks, which include a feature on a business you should know, the Little Rock Violin Shop.

BEST LIST of 2017

Goods and services

Shopping center

The Promenade at Chenal

Finalists: Midtowne, The Outlets of Little Rock, Park Plaza Mall, Pleasant Ridge Town Center

Grocery store

Kroger

Local winner: Edwards Food Giant

Finalists: The Fresh Market, Natural Grocers, Whole Foods Market

Women's clothing

Dillard's

Finalists: Box Turtle, E. Leigh's, Fringe Clothing, Indigo, Scarlet

Men's clothing

Dillard's

Finalists: Barakat Bespoke, Baumans, Greenhaw's Fine Men's Wear, Mr. Wicks

Hip clothing

Fringe Clothing

Finalists: Box Turtle, Indigo, Maddox, Scarlet

Children's clothing

The Toggery

Finalists: Bologna Joe's, Carter's, The Children's Place (Conway), Dillard's

Vintage clothing

Goodwill

Local winner: Crying Weasel Vintage

Finalists: Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Savers, South Main Creative

Lingerie

Cupids

Finalists: Adam and Eve, Dillard's, Seductions, Victoria's Secret

Shoes

Dillard's

Local winner: Rock City Kicks

Finalists: DSW, Shoe Carnival, Warren's Shoes

Antiques

Mid-Towne Antique Mall

Finalists: Blue Suede Shoes, Fabulous Finds, Sweet Home/Clement, South Main Creative

Furniture

Hank's Fine Furniture

Finalists: Ashley Furniture, Cantrell Furniture Design Center, Galaxy Furniture, Howse

Garden store or nursery

The Good Earth Garden Center

Finalists: Botanica Gardens, Hocott's Garden Center, Plantopia, River Valley Horticultural

Hardware/home improvement

Fuller and Son

Finalists: Ace Hardware (Cantrell), The Home Depot, Kraftco Hardware and Building Supply, Lowe's Home Improvement

Eyewear

James Eye Care

Finalists: Burrow's and Mr. Frank's Optical, Family Eye Clinic, Kavanaugh Eye Care, Little Rock Eye Clinic, Success Vision

Fresh vegetables

Hillcrest Farmers Market

Finalists: Argenta Farmers Market, Bernice Garden Farmer's Market, Fayetteville Farmers Market, Little Rock Farmers' Market

Outdoor store

Ozark Outdoor Supply

Finalists: Academy Sports and Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops, Gene Lockwood, Gearhead Outfitters

Bicycle shop

Chainwheel

Finalists: Angry Dave's Bicycles, The Community Bicyclist, The Ride, Spokes

Gun store

Fort Thompson Sporting Goods

Finalists: Arkansas Armory Inc., Bass Pro Shops, Bullseye Guns and Ammo, Don's Weaponry Inc.

Commercial art gallery

Gallery 26

Finalists: Boswell Mourot Fine Art, Cantrell Gallery, Greg Thompson Fine Art, M2 Gallery

Mobile phone

AT&T

Finalists: Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon

Internet service provider

AT&T

Finalists: Centurylink, Comcast, Conway Corp., Hyperleap

Residential real estate agency

The Janet Jones Co.

Finalists: The Charlotte John Co., Crye-Leike, Keller Williams Realty, Pulaski Heights Realty

Commercial real estate agency

Moses Tucker Real Estate

Finalists: Colliers International, Coldwell Banker, Rector Phillips Morse, Flake & Kelley

Auto service

Austin Brothers Tire and Service

Finalists: Christian Brothers Automotive, Discount Tire & Brake Inc., Foster's Garage, Jett's Gas and Service

Auto stereo

Arkansas Car Stereo

Finalists: Auto Audio, Best Buy, Bryant Audio

Travel agency

Poe Travel

Finalists: AAA Travel (Fayetteville), Small World Big Fun, Sue Smith Vacations, The Travel Shop

Hotel

Capital Hotel

Finalists: 21c Museum Hotel (Bentonville), 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa (Eureka Springs), Little Rock Marriott, The Waters (Hot Springs)

Private school

The Anthony School

Finalists: Catholic High School for Boys, Episcopal Collegiate, Little Rock Christian Academy, Pulaski Academy

Public school

Central High School

Finalists: Jefferson Elementary, North Little Rock High School, Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School, Pulaski Heights Elementary

Apartment complex

The Pointe Brodie Creek

Finalists: Bowman Pointe, Fountaine Bleau West, The Park at Riverdale, The Ridge at Chenal

Bank

Arvest Bank

Finalists: First Security Bank, Centennial Bank, Regions, Simmons Bank

Barbershop

Jerry's Barber Shop

Finalists: The Art of Men's Cuts (Bryant), The Local Hair Shop, Sport Clips, Sullivan Barber Service

Salon

Suite.102.Salon

Finalists: Fringe Benefits, Joels, Joey Edwards Salon, Red Beauty Lounge

Nail salon

Fashion Nails

Finalists: Chic Nails, Ethereal Spa, Heights Nail and Spa

Spa

Wellness Revolution

Finalists: Ava Bella Day Spa, Caracalla Salon and Body Spa, Indulgences Day Spa, Rejuvenation Day Spa

Diet/Weight Loss Center

Onyx Nutrition and Fitness

Finalists: Diet Center, Nutrition Hub, TruBalance Health, Wellness Revolution

Jeweler

Sissy's Log Cabin

Finalists: Cecil's Fine Jewelry, Jones & Son Fine Jewelry, Kyle-Rochelle, Roberson's Fine Jewelry

Pharmacy

Cornerstone Pharmacy

Finalists: CVS, Kroger, Rhea Drug Store, Walgreens

Auto dealer

Steve Landers Toyota

Finalists: Everett GMC, McClarty Nissan, Russell Honda, Parker Lexus

Car

Subaru Outback

Finalists: Honda Civic, Honda Pilot, Toyota Camry

Home entertainment store

Best Buy

Local winner: Arkansas Record and CD Exchange

Finalists: Audio Dimensions, Bedford Camera, Walmart

Sporting goods

Academy Sports + Outdoors

Local winner: Ozark Outdoor Supply

Finalists: Bass Pro Shops, Fort Thompson, Gene Lockwood's

Toys

Toys "R" Us

Local winner: The Toggery

Finalists: Box Turtle Kids, The Knowledge Tree, Target

click to enlarge PAST LR MARATHON CHAMP: Leah Thorvilson.
  • PAST LR MARATHON CHAMP: Leah Thorvilson.

Florist

Tanarah Luxe Floral

Finalists: About Vase, Empty Vase, Frances Flower Shop, Tipton & Hurst

Plumber

Ray Lusk Plumbing

Finalists: Advantage Service Co., Don Houff Plumbing, Brad Peoples, Russell & LeMay, Sanders Plumbing

HVAC Repair

Middleton Heat and Air

Finalists: Bob & Ed's Heating & Air Conditioning Co., Chenal Heat and Air, Dash Heating & Air, Russell & LeMay

Gift shop

Box Turtle

Finalists: Bella Vita Jewelry, The Crown Shop, The Full Moon, Green Corner Store, Moxy Modern Mercantile

Veterinarian

Hillcrest Animal Hospital

Finalists: ALLPETS Animal Hospital, Bellevue Animal Clinic, Bowman Road Animal Clinic, Pleasant Valley Animal Clinic, Pinnacle Valley Animal Hospital

Dry cleaners

Moose Cleaners

Finalists: Hangers Cleaners, Max Cleaners, Oak Forest Cleaners, Schickel's Cleaners

Artisan

Bang-Up Betty (jeweler)

Finalists: Bella Vita (jewelry), Sarah DeClerk (baker), Katherine Strause (painter), V.L. Cox (mixed media)

Designer/decorator

Debi Davis Interiors

Finalists: Tom Chandler, Tobi Fairley, Garry Mertins Design Inc., Jill White Designs

Hobby shop

Hobby Lobby

Local winner: The Water Buffalo

Finalists: Art Outfitters, Game Goblin, Michaels

Music equipment

Guitar Center

Local winner: Dogtown Sound

Finalists: Best Buy, CKC Music, Jacksonville Guitar Center

Bookstore

WordsWorth Books & Co.

Finalists: Barnes & Noble, Dickson Street Bookshop (Fayetteville), Nightbird Books (Fayetteville), River Market Books and Gifts

Pawn shop

iPawn

Finalists: A-1 Gun and Pawn Inc., Braswell & Son Pawnbrokers, Cbay Trading & Loan, Pawnderosa Pawn Shop

Funeral home

Ruebel Funeral Home

Finalists: Olmstead Funeral Home, North Little Rock Funeral Home, Roller Funeral Homes, Smith Funeral Home

Retirement community

Parkway Village

Finalists: Fox Ridge Assisted Living, Good Shepherd Community, The Manor, Woodland Heights

Place to take a yoga class

Barefoot Studio

Finalists: Arkansas Yoga Collective, Blue Yoga Nyla, Little Rock Athletic Club, Wellness Revolution

Chiropractor

Brady DeClerk

Finalists: Beverly Foster, John Vincent, Natural State Health Center, Rose Livingston (Hot Springs)

Tattoo

7th Street Tattoos & Piercing

Finalists: Black Cobra, Forever Yours, The Parlor, Tried and True Tattoo Co. by Rick Medina (Russellville)

Vape shop

Rogue Vapors

Finalists: Abby Road, RAO Video, Vapor World

Investment adviser

Heath Harper (Morgan Stanley)

Finalists: Brian Bush (Stephens), Barry Corkern, Kelly Ross Journey (Edward Jones), Larry Root (Ameriprise Financial Services)

Company to work for

Arkansas Children's Hospital

Finalists: The Janet Jones Co., Inuvo, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Youth Home Inc.

Recreation

Place to swim

Little Rock Racquet Club

Finalists: Little Rock Athletic Club, Greers Ferry Lake, Lake Ouachita, Wild River Country

Park

Burns Park

Finalists: Allsopp Park, Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Riverfront Park, Two Rivers Park

click to enlarge LOCAL WINNER: Fringe Clothing, in the River Market district, was a winner in the women's clothing category.
  • LOCAL WINNER: Fringe Clothing, in the River Market district, was a winner in the women's clothing category.

Cheap date

Movies in the Park

Finalists: Arkansas Arts Center, Arkansas Travelers, Big Dam Bridge, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville)

Weekend getaway

Hot Springs

Finalists: Eureka Springs, Mount Magazine, Bentonville, Petit Jean State Park

Resort

Red Apple Inn

Finalists: Arlington Hotel (Hot Springs), Gaston's White River Resort, The Lodge at Mount Magazine, Mountain Harbor Resort & Spa

Golf course

Pleasant Valley Country Club

Finalists: Chenal Country Club, Country Club of Little Rock, Rebsamen Golf Course, War Memorial Golf Course

Athletic club

Little Rock Athletic Club

Finalists: 10 Fitness, Little Rock Racquet Club, Omnis Crossfit, Wellness Revolution Crossfit

Hiking trail

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

Finalists: Allsopp Park, Ouachita Trail, Petit Jean Mountain, Two Rivers Park

Place to mountain bike

Burns Park

Finalists: Allsopp Park, Camp Robinson, Pinnacle Mountain, Slaughter Pen (Bentonville)

Marina

Mountain Harbor Resort & Spa (Lake Ouachita)

Finalists: Fairfield Bay (Greers Ferry Lake), Heber Springs Marina (Greers Ferry Lake), Jolly Roger's Marina (Lake Maumelle), Brady Mountain Marina (Lake Ouachita)

Entertainment

Musician or band

Amasa Hines

Finalists: Chris DeClerk, Adam Faucett, Rodney Block and the Real Music Lovers, Tragikly Whit

DJ

Gforce

Finalists: DJ Mario Luna, Seth Baldy, Kramer, rob O.

Place for live music

Revolution Music Room

Finalists: Cajun's Wharf, South on Main, Stickyz Rock 'N' Roll Chicken Shack, White Water Tavern

Place to dance

Club Sway

Finalists: Club Level, Discovery, Electric Cowboy, Ernie Biggs

Live music festival

Riverfest

Finalists: Hot Water Hills Festival (Hot Springs), King Biscuit (Helena/West Helena), Legends of Arkansas, Toad Suck Daze (Conway), The Valley of the Vapors (Hot Springs)

Neighborhood festival

Hillcrest HarvestFest

Finalists: Block Street Block Party, Cornbread Festival, Chili Fights in the Heights, Patio in Park Hill

Late-night spot

Midtown

Finalists: Discovery, Ciao Baci, Ernie Biggs, Four Quarter Bar

Gay bar

Club Sway

Finalists: 610 Center, Discovery, Triniti

Sports bar

The Tavern Sports Grill

Finalists: Dugan's Pub, Prospect Sports Bar, Twin Peaks, West End Smokehouse & Tavern

Movie theater

Riverdale 10

Finalists: UA Breckenridge 12, Cinemark Colonel Glenn 18 (Rave), Chenal 9, Ron Robinson Theater

Museum

Museum of Discovery

Finalists: Arkansas Arts Center, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville), Clinton Presidential Center, Historic Arkansas Museum

Performing arts group

Arkansas Repertory Theatre

Finalists: Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Arkansas, Red Octopus, River City Men's Chorus

Place to gamble

Oaklawn Racing & Gaming

Finalists: Gold Strike Casino (Tunica, Miss.), Southland Park Gaming and Racing (West Memphis), Choctaw Casino (Oklahoma), Cherokee Casino (Oklahoma)

Food and Drink

Food festival

Greek Food Festival

Finalists: Chili Fights in the Heights, Cornbread Festival, Jewish Food Festival, Main Street Food Truck Festival

French fries

Big Orange

Finalists: Buffalo Grill, David's Burgers, McDonald's, The Root Cafe

Onion rings

Sonic Drive-In

Finalists: Arkansas Burger Co., Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, Dugan's Pub, Leo's Greek Castle

Cheese Dip

Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro

Finalists: El Porton, Heights Taco & Tamale Co., La Hacienda, Mexico Chiquito

Ribs

Whole Hog Cafe

Finalists: Sims Bar-B-Que, Corky's Ribs and BBQ, McClard's Bar-B-Q, Penguin Ed's Bar-B-Que (Fayetteville)

Wine list

So Restaurant-Bar

Finalists: By the Glass, Crush Wine Bar, Samantha's Taproom, Zin Urban Wine and Beer Bar

Arkansas-brewed beer

Lost Forty

Finalists: Diamond Bear Brewing Co., Flyway Brewing, Ozark Beer Co., Rebel Kettle

Liquor store

Colonial Wines and Spirits

Finalists: 107 Liquor (Sherwood), Legacy Wine and Spirits, O'Looney's Wine and Liquor, Sullivant's Liquor Store

Sushi

Sushi Cafe

Finalists: Hanaroo Sushi Bar, Kemuri, Kiyen's, Mt. Fuji, Oceans at Arthur's

Salad

ZAZA Fine Salad and Wood-Oven Pizza Co.

Finalists: Cheers, Jason's Deli, Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe, The Root Cafe

Business lunch

Cache Restaurant

Finalists: Capital Bar and Grill, Samantha's Taproom, South on Main, Trio's Restaurant

Brunch

Red Door Restaurant

Finalists: Boulevard Bistro, Lost Forty, The Root Cafe, YaYa's Euro Bistro

Cocktail

Cajun's Wharf

Finalists: Big Orange, Capital Bar and Grill, The Pizzeria, South on Main

Milkshake

Purple Cow

Finalists: Big Orange, Loblolly Creamery, Sonic Drive-In, Shake's Frozen Custard

Vegetarian

The Root Cafe

Finalists: North Bar, Star of India, Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co., The Veg

Bread

Boulevard Bread Co.

Finalists: Arkansas Fresh, Community Bakery, Old Mill Bread and Flour Co., Mylo Coffee Co., Panera Bread

Caterer

Catering to You

Finalists: Alan Bennett, RX Catering, Simply the Best, Trio's Restaurant

Outdoor dining

Brave New Restaurant

Finalists: Cajun's Wharf, Local Lime, The Root Cafe, U.S. Pizza Hillcrest

People and Politics

click to enlarge BEST PHOTOGRAPHER: A self-portrait by the winner, Joshua Asante, who is also a well known local musician (Velvet Kente, Amasa Hines).
  • BEST PHOTOGRAPHER: A self-portrait by the winner, Joshua Asante, who is also a well known local musician (Velvet Kente, Amasa Hines).

Artist

V.L. Cox

Finalists: Guy Bell, Kevin Kresse, John Kushmaul, Matt McLeod

Celebrity

Mary Steenburgen

Finalists: Beth Ditto, Bill Clinton, Judge Reinhold, Jeff Nichols

Photographer

Joshua Asante

Finalists: Brian Chilson, Lily Darragh, Rita Henry, Matt White

Politician

Joyce Elliott

Finalists: Tom Cotton, Clarke Tucker, Warwick Sabin, Kathy Webb

Athlete

Rawleigh Williams III

Finalists: John Daly, Hunter Henry, Darren McFadden, Leah Thorvilson

Liberal

Max Brantley

Finalists: Matt Campbell, Joyce Elliott, Warwick Sabin, Kathy Webb

Conservative

Tom Cotton

Finalists: Asa Hutchinson, Jeremy Hutchinson, Rex Nelson, Bill Vickery

Worst Arkansan

Jason Rapert

Finalists: Wendell Griffen, French Hill, Mike Huckabee, Leslie Rutledge

Charity

Youth Home Inc.

Finalists: Habitat for Humanity, Lucie's Place, Our House, The Van

Charity event

Eggshibition (Youth Home)

Finalists: Soup Sunday (Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families), Paws on the Runway (CARE for Animals), Race for the Cure, Walk for the Waiting (foster care)

Misuse of taxpayer funds/property

Ten Commandments monument

Finalists: 30 Crossing, charter schools, Ecclesia College, Robinson Center

Media

Radio station

Alice-FM, 107.7

Finalists: KABF-FM, 88.3; KUAR-FM, 89.1; The Buzz-FM, 103.7; The Wolf-FM, 105.1

Radio personality

Heather and Poolboy

Finalists: Bobby Bones, Tommy Smith, Lisa Fischer, Roger Scott

TV station

KATV, Channel 7

Finalists: KARK, Channel 4; Fox 16; KTHV, Channel 11; AETN

TV personality

Dawn Scott

Finalists: Alyson Courtney, Craig O'Neill, Donna Terrell, D.J. Williams

TV weatherman

Todd Yakoubian

Finalists: Barry Brandt, Tom Brannon, Ed Buckner, Ned Perme

TV sports

Steve Sullivan

Finalists: D.J. Williams, Mary Dunleavy, Wess Moore

Newspaper writer

Max Brantley

Finalists: Gwen Moritz, John Brummett, Wally Hall, John Lynch

Blog

Arkansas Blog

Finalists: Blue Hog Report, The Mighty Rib, Rex Nelson's Southern Fried, Rock City Eats

Website

arktimes.com

Finalists: bluehogreport.com, earnspendlive.com, fayettevilleflyer.com, mysaline.com

Twitter feed

@bluehogreport

Finalists: @ademillo, @austinkellerman, @johnbrummett, @jefflongUA

Instagram feed

@annpotterbaking

Finalists: @bangupbetty, @hannahacarpenter, @tnorman23

Author

Kevin Brockmeier

Finalists: Bryan Borland, Garrard Conley, Mara Leveritt, Nate Powell



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