You can learn a lot about people when they tell you their opinions about what is the best of the best in New Orleans. What we learned is that our readers, collectively, are extremely loyal to traditions and businesses that have served them and the city well. At the same time, readers' votes signal there's plenty of room for new places, new faces and new traditions.

We tallied the votes for everything from best politician you love to hate (gee, I wonder who won that) to your favorite po-boys to best live music show to No. 1 dog groomer. All your answers are here in the Best of New Orleans 2010.

Funky Monkey: Best Store for Vintage Clothing - PHOTO BY GARY LOVERDE


Best Live Theater Venue

1. Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre (616 St. Peter St., 522-2081; www.lepetittheatre.com) — The oldest community theater in America got a shot in the arm last year with new management, which is stretching Le Petit's formula of classic musicals for a new generation with shows like Celebrity Autobiography, Frost/Nixon and The Wedding Singer. The theater also presents a New Works Festival every year, and has kiddie shows in the Children's Corner. Hairspray opens the 95th season Sept. 17.

2. Southern Repertory Theater (The Shops at Canal Place, 333 Canal St., third floor, 522-6545; www.southernrep.com)

3. Le Chat Noir (715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812; www.cabaretlechatnoir.com)

Best Local Theater Performer

1. Becky Allen — For decades, New Orleanians have counted on Becky for a laugh and a good night's entertainment, whether she's teamed with frequent partner Ricky Graham (No. 2 in our survey) or on her own in original shows like Graham's ...And the Ball and All. Every day is Mardi Gras in the life of New Orleans' Yat showgirl, and any show with Becky's name above the title sells tickets. As the Diva of Decatur will tell you: "Becky Allen puts butts in seats."

2. Ricky Graham

3. Bryan Batt

Best Dance Club

1. Republic (828 S. Peters St., 528-8282; www.republicnola.com) — The closest thing New Orleans has to a New York-style velvet-rope nightlife experience, Republic features live music during the week with top local and national bands ... then segues into the weekend with Flashback, a retro 1980s-1990s dance party. On Saturday nights, the women get dressed up and the men come out to admire them. Just remember: "If it's on Jersey Shore, it won't get through the door."

2. Gold Mine Saloon (701 Dauphine St., 568-9125; www.goldminesaloon.net)

3. LePhare (523 Gravier St., 636-1890; www.lepharenola.com)

Best Sports Bar

1. Cooter Brown's Tavern (509 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9104; www.cooterbrowns.com) — Cooter's topped our sports bar poll last year, too — so it, very wisely, hasn't changed a thing. The sporting oasis in Riverbend lives up to its nickname as the "Hall of Foam" with more than three dozen brews on tap and even more in bottles. Besides po-boys, muffs and burgers, there's also an awesome selection of Philly cheesesteaks (hard to find in New Orleans) — including a Cajun version with alligator sausage, shrimp and remoulade.

2. Gordon Biersch (200 Poydras St., 552-2739; www.gordonbiersch.com)

3. Bruno's Tavern (7538 Maple St., 861-7615; www.brunostavern.com)

Best College Bar

1. The Boot (1039 Broadway St., 866-9008) — The Boot has been distracting college kids for years with 50-cent night, a Friday happy hour with three-shot mixed drinks, pool tables and pizza that tastes best after 2 a.m. It's a true college bar, with normal clientele consisting of spillover from Broadway Street frat parties and Loyola and Tulane students who walk from campus residences.

2. Bruno's Tavern (7538 Maple St., 861-7615; www.brunostavern.com)

3. Fat Harry's (4330 St. Charles Ave., 895-9582)

Best Bar to Hook Up

1. F&M Patio Bar (4841 Tchoupitoulas St., 895-6784; www.fandmpatiobar.com) — This alcoholic annex of Tulane University down on Tchoupitoulas Street is several bars in one, including an outdoor patio and an upstairs. Nothing fancy (to say the least), just PBR, bar food, a pool table, songs you know by heart and a crowd every weekend waaaay into the wee hours. Once you've hooked up, commemorate the occasion with a few snaps in F&M's infamous photo booth — which, if you have enough to drink, looks a lot like a confessional.

2. The Boot (1039 Broadway St., 866-9008)


3. Bulldog (3236 Magazine St., 891-1516; www.draftfreak.com)

3. Monkey Hill (6100 Magazine St., 899-4800; www.monkeyhillbar.com)

Best Gay Bar

1. Oz (800 Bourbon St., 593-9491; www.ozneworleans.com) — This huge disco marks the corner on Bourbon Street where straight tourists usually clutch their Hurricanes and turn around. What are they missing? Locals and visitors alike crammed inside a dizzying danceteria, getting messy and having fun (the cast of this year's Real World: New Orleans ended up there). During the week, there are bingo games and drag shows hosted by the outrageous Blanche Debris.

2. The Bourbon Pub/Parade (801 Bourbon St., 529-2107; www.bourbonpub.com)

3. Good Friends (740 Dauphine St., 566-7191; www.goodfriendsbar.com)

Best Neighborhood Bar

1. The Kingpin (1307 Lyons St., 891-2373; www.kingpinbar.com) — A great neighborhood bar, paradoxically, makes you want to travel across town to go there. The Kingpin does just that by making a neat 7-10 split between a comfy hangout and a true dive, with an ageless blue-collar New Orleans vibe — it's a perfect place to meet before a movie at the Prytania Theater. Play darts or just sit at the bar, bending your elbow and marveling at the layers of memorabilia covering the walls, a New Orleans education in itself.

2. St. Joe's Bar (5535 Magazine St., 899-3744)

3. Pal's Lounge (949 N. Rendon St., 488-7257)

Best Hotel Bar

1. Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge (Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St., 523-3341; www.hotelmonteleone.com) — The Monteleone's revolving Carousel Bar was always a great spot to climb aboard and watch the world go by outside on Royal Street. But in recent years, the Carousel has stepped up its cocktail game, and you can now get a drink as eleganza as the surroundings (it's the unofficial clubhouse of the annual Tales of the Cocktail festival). In back, tiny banquette booths are a nice place for cuddling and listening to the piano man.

2. Sazerac (The Roosevelt New Orleans, 123 Baronne St., 648-1200; www. therooseveltneworleans.com)

3. Polo Lounge (Windsor Court Hotel, 300 Gravier St., 523-6000; www.windsorcourthotel.com)

Best Gentlemen's/Strip Club

1. Rick's Cabaret (315 Bourbon St., 524-4222; www.ricks.com) — Of all the strip joints on Bourbon Street, Rick's stands out for two reasons (oh, stop it): the beauty of the women and the bite on your wallet. Sure, you can go cheaper, but you don't need an AmEx Black Card to have a good time at Rick's. Those with beer-bottle pockets can forgo the fine wines and cigars and lap dances ... but don't expect any extra attention from the ladies. Tip: Rick's lunch buffet is one of the best deals in town. Call to see if it's on.

2. Visions (4000 Downman Road, 240-0069; www.visionsmensclub.com)

3. Larry Flynt's Hustler Club (225 Bourbon St., 524-0010; www.hustlerclubs.com)

Best Happy Hour

1. Superior Bar & Grill (3636 St. Charles Ave., 899-4200; www.superiorgrill.com) — Sorry, Jimmy Buffett — the real Margaritaville is the Superior, where people from all over the city descend to drink away their workdays shortly after happy hour starts at 3:30. Get there early or be forced to jostle your way to the bar for a mojito or daiquiri. And if all that tequila makes you want to line your stomach, get a seat on the patio and order up some of Superior's Ameri-Mexican specials like fajitas, Mexican chicken salad or enchiladas.

2. Victorian Lounge (The Columns Hotel, 3811 St. Charles Ave., 899-9308; www.thecolumns.com)

3. Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar (701 Tchoupitoulas St., 523-8995; www.lucysretiredsurfers.com)

Lighting Inc.: Best Place to Buy Lamps/Lighting - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

Best Bar for Nonsmokers

1. Cure (4905 Freret St., 302-2357; www.curenola.com) — You don't have to squint through a haze of Marlboro smoke to admire the massive, apothecarian Wall of Booze at Cure, because "aromatics are of great importance while enjoying food and beverage," the bar tells its customers.

2. Rock 'N' Bowl (3000 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-1700; www.rockandbowl.com)


3. Chickie Wah Wah (2828 Canal St., 304-4714; www.chickiewahwah.com)

3. Victorian Lounge (The Columns Hotel, 3811 St. Charles Ave., 899-9308; www.thecolumns.com)

Best Place to Dance to a Live Band

1. Tipitina's (501 Napoleon Ave., 895-8477; www.tipitinas.com) — Tip's is no place for S&M (that's stand-and-model), so bring your hipster friends from Portland or Brooklyn and watch them try to resist as the city's best funk, rock, jazz, jam and zydeco bands make it impossible to shoegaze. And if your pals want to stand around and pout, they can go upstairs and watch the show from the balcony while you dance with every stranger in the joint and ponder how you're going to ditch your party-pooping friends.

2. Rock 'N' Bowl (3000 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-1700; www.rockandbowl.com)

3. Maple Leaf Bar (8316 Oak St., 866-9359; www.mapleleafbar.com)

Best Bar to People-Watch

1. The Delachaise (3442 St. Charles Ave., 895-0858; www.thedelachaise.com) — It isn't the largest venue in town. In fact, the long, narrow boxcar of a wine bar is rather cozy, but readers deemed its combination of barstool perches and fishbowl of a front banquette as a top people-watching hub. It's also a dining car with a small menu, and patrons like to savor the selections of wine and gourmet bites as they explore who else is on board.

2. Pat O'Brien's (718 St. Peter St., 525-4823; www.patobriens.com)


3. Cat's Meow (701 Bourbon St., 523-3492; www.catskaraoke.com)

3. The Market Cafe (1000 Decatur St., 527-5000; www.marketcafenola.com)

Best Movie Theater

1. Prytania Theatre (5339 Prytania St., 891-2787; www.theprytania.com) — Because it's the last single-screen theater in Louisiana. Because of Rene Brunet, true gentleman and theater master extraordinaire. Because of midnight movies old (Rocky Horror Picture Show) and new (Birdemic). Because of the annual Oscar party. Because it's one of the few places in town for a red-carpet premiere. Because where else can you see Casablanca on the big screen? And because people actually shut up, stop texting and watch the movie.

2. AMC Elmwood Palace 20 (1200 Elmwood Park Blvd., Harahan, 888-262-4386; www.www.amcentertainment.com/elmwoodpalace)

3. The Theatres at Canal Place (The Shops at Canal Place, 333 Canal St., 581-5400; www.thetheatres.com)

Best Place to See Stand-Up Comedy

1. Harrah's Casino (8 Canal St. 533-6000; www.harrahsneworleans.com) — A comedian walks into a bar ... actually, he's had trouble doing so in New Orleans, which has been short of the 500-or-so-seat theaters that are big enough to attract top comics and yet small enough to be intimate. Enter the showroom at Harrah's, which can double as a Laff Shack when the night is right. September brings homegrown stand-up talent Jodi Borrello, our own Yat Roseanne.

2. Le Chat Noir (715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812; www.cabaretlechatnoir.com)

3. La Nuit Comedy Theater (5039 Freret St., 231-7011; www.lanuittheater.com)

Best Place to Karaoke

1. Cat's Meow (701 Bourbon St., 523-3492; www.catskaraoke.com) — Even locals who shun Bourbon Street have to admit Cat's is the place when it comes to unleashing your inner Frank Sinatra or Faith Hill. The music selection is enormous, the crowd is beyond rowdy, and the tourists pack in for the 3-for-1 happy hour specials. Plus you can sing all your favorite 1980s video hits in a space that's still decorated like, well, a 1980s music video. Buy the DVD souvenir of your shame before your friends do.

2. Little Tokyo (310 N. Carrollton Ave., 485-5658)

3. Igor's Buddha Belly Burger Bar (4437 Magazine St., 891-6105)

Best Place to Get a Bloody Mary

1. Superdome (1500 Sugar Bowl Drive, 587-3663; www.superdome.com) — The origins of the Bloody Mary are disputed, but it's one classic cocktail that definitely was not invented in New Orleans. We love it anyway, and not just as a hangover dispersant. In other towns, pro football fans stick to weak stadium beer and their personal flasks, but Saints ticketholders have discovered the bars inside the Superdome make a damn good Bloody Mary, which — given our love for spices — is basically an alcoholic gazpacho.

2. Moonlight Cafe (1921 Sophie Wright Place, 522-7313)

3. Pat O'Brien's (718 St. Peter St., 525-4823; www.patobriens.com)

Pearl Jam: Best Jazz Fest Performance 2010 - PHOTO BY GARY LOVERDE

Best Place to Get a Sazerac

1. Sazerac (The Roosevelt New Orleans, 123 Baronne St., 648-1200; www. therooseveltneworleans.com) — A bad Sazerac — well, there's nothing worse, but when it's done right, there's nothing better. Where else to get one (or to develop a taste for one) than in the gloriously restored Sazerac Bar at the equally gloriously restored Hotel Roosevelt? These strong treats were off-limits to ladies until after World War II, when some Southern suffragettes forcibly "stormed" the Sazerac. Today the Paul Ninas murals are as rich as ever, and the bar is now nonsmoking.

2. Napoleon House Bar & Cafe (500 Chartres St., 524-9752; www.napoleonhouse.com)

3. Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge (Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St., 523-3341; www.hotelmonteleone.com)

Best Place to Get a Margarita

1. Superior Bar & Grill (3636 St. Charles Ave., 899-4200; www.superiorgrill.com — Superior is such a perennial winner in this category that you have to wonder: What do they really put in those margaritas? The answer (fresh fruit juice and top-shelf tequilas) is what keeps people coming back. The menu has a half page devoted to margaritas and tequila, with more than a dozen ways to get an agave burn on. Plus, you get to sip your margarita in a spirited bar that attracts a young crowd, or while you dine on Mexican favorites.

2. El Gato Negro (81 French Market Place, 525-9752; www.elgatonegronola.com)

3. Santa Fe ( 3201 Esplanade Ave., 948-0077;www.santafeneworleans.com)

Best Place to Get a Martini

1. Clancy's ( 6110 Annunciation St., 895-1111) — ... and by "martini," we don't mean alcoholic chocolate milk in a martini glass, but the classic cocktail that would do James Bond (and James Beard) proud. Your favorite place is Clancy's, far off the beaten path in a residential neighborhood near Audubon Park, where the food is as New Orleans-dignified and perfect as the martinis. Olive or twist?

2. The Bombay Club (830 Conti St., 586-0972; www.thebombayclub.com)

3. N'Tini's (2891 Hwy. 190, Suite D, Mandeville, 985-626-5566; www.ntinis.com)

Best Place to Get Wine by the Glass

1. Wine Institute of New Orleans (610 Tchoupitoulas St., 324-8000; www.wineschool.com) — A class and a glass — that's what you can get at W.I.N.O., the Warehouse District hideaway that's the home of the grape. The "Intro to Wine" class is a great way to learn the basics (and at $35 for eight tastings, a bargain). Sample vintages by the glass, half-glass, or bottle and pair them with tapas — or just get a bottle to take home.

2. The Delachaise (3442 St. Charles Ave., 895-0858; www.thedelachaise.com)


3. Clever — A Wine Destination (3700 Orleans Ave., 483-6360; www.cleverwines.com)

3. Tommy's Wine Bar (752 Tchoupitoulas St., 525-4790; www.tommysneworleans.com)

Best Beer Selection

1. The Bulldog (3236 Magazine St., 891-1516; www.draftfreak.com) — Once again topping our list for brew lovers, the Bulldog has more than 100 varieties of bottled beer, as well as 50 on tap. There's usually a crowd in the barroom and on the patio, and you never know who you'll find sitting around the miniature fountain — college kids, thirtysomethings on the make, sports buddies, Mom and Dad on date night ...

2. Cooter Brown's Tavern (509 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9104; www.cooterbrowns.com)

3. The Avenue Pub (1732 St. Charles Ave., 586-9243; www.theavenuepub.com)

Best Local Beer

1. Abita Amber — When the Abita Brewing Company was founded in 1986, there weren't many local microbreweries. The number has grown significantly in the last couple of years, but the Abita Springs microbrewer with the down-home reputation is still your favorite. And if you like Amber, give Abita's new "S.O.S. — A Charitable Pilsner" a try; 75 cents from every bottle goes to help clean up the Gulf of Mexico.

2. Nola Brewing Blonde Ale

3. Abita Strawberry

Best Bar for Creative Cocktails

1. Cure (4905 Freret St., 302-2357; www.curenola.com) — Cure has fully embraced the craft-cocktail renaissance, and its combo of luxe civility and great drinks earned it high marks in our 2010 Best Bars readers' poll. The best advice? Let a bartender know what you like and have him craft a drink just for you — and be patient; all good drinks come to those who wait.

2. Iris (321 N. Peters St., 299-3944; www.irisneworleans.com)

3. Bar Tonique (820 N. Rampart St., 324-6045; www.bartonique.com)

Best Casino

1. Harrah's Casino (8 Canal St. 533-6000; www.harrahsneworleans.com) — This entertainment palace near the foot of Canal Street has the usual slots, poker and table games, but there's also a big buffet, John Besh's steakhouse, the Masquerade Lounge (with icy bar top) and a showroom that features everything from music to comedy to variety ... and, in September, the New Orleans Burlesque Festival.

2. Boomtown Casino (4132 Peters Road, Harvey, 366-7711; www.boomtownneworleans.com)

3. Treasure Chest Casino (5050 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 443-8000; www.treasurechest.com)

Best Live Music Venue

1. Tipitina's (501 Napoleon Ave., 895-8477; www.tipitinas.com) — Fads come, trends go — Tip's endures. The shrine to Professor Longhair and every New Orleans musician who came after him manages to be both capacious and intimate, perfect for nearly any genre of music and as worn in as your oldest Converses. If you made a list of quintessential New Orleans experiences, a night at Tip's would be on the short list.

2. House of Blues (225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.houseofblues.com)

3. d.b.a. (618 Frenchmen St., 942-3731; www.drinkgoodstuff.com)

Best Live Music Show in the Last 12 Months

1. Sting and Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra at Kiefer UNO Lakefront Arena (6801 Franklin Ave., 280-7171; www.unoarenaboxoffice.com) — Sting may be a bit young for the Police's hits to be considered classic rock, but he has made a play for classical rock. Sting arrived at the Lakefront Arena in June with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in tow. The Symphonicities tour reworked many of his solo hits for a full symphony. It's not the first time he's incorporated more elegant instrumentation (see Branford Marsalis' work on Dream of the Blue Turtles), and the show hit all the right notes with local fans.

2. Pearl Jam at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (www.nojazzfest.com)

3. Trombone Shorty at Tipitina's for Lombardigras (501 Napoleon Ave., 895-8477; www.tipitinas.com)

Best Jazz Fest Performance 2010

1. Pearl Jam — Singer Eddie Vedder let the crowd know he had fond memories of New Orleans in spite of being arrested while in the city in the early 1990s. And his criticism of BP also won shouts of approval. But it was a long, blistering set including more recent work and old hits like "Alive," "Better Man" and "Even Flow" that made Pearl Jam's first Jazz Fest visit memorable.

2. Simon & Garfunkel

3. Lionel Richie

Best Local Rock Band/Artist

1. Better Than Ezra — Now in its 22nd year, Better Than Ezra had its biggest national success in the 1990s, but the guys are still going strong (albeit with some changes in lineup). "Absolutely Still," from their 2009 album Paper Empire, didn't chart, but it was one of their hookiest songs In years. This fall, BTE embarks on a major national tour, "Krewe of Rocckus," which will conclude next March at Mardi Gras.

2. Cowboy Mouth

3. Galactic

Best New Local Band

1. Billy Franklin — He may not match James Brown's dancing and jiving, but guitarist/vocalist Billy Franklin must be one of the hardest working men in show business, touring with E.O.E. and playing gigs with various musicians from New York to California, covering everything from jazz to R&B to reggae. Franklin says he's always ready to take the stage with different musicians — but he hopes 2010 is the year he puts out a solo album.

2. Troylaz

3. New Grass Country Club

Best Local Jazz Band/Artist

1. Kermit Ruffins — This was the year the rest of the world found out what we already knew: Kermit rules, whether he's playing late-night at Sidney's, jamming with Jeremy Davenport at the Ritz-Carlton, or smoking out the crowd at Vaughan's with his band, the Barbecue Swingers. Now that he's got a regular gig playing himself on HBO's Treme, expect those nights at Vaughan's to be even more of a tourist attraction.

2. Trombone Shorty

3. Irvin Mayfield

Best Cajun/Zydeco Band/Artist

1. Rockin' Dopsie Jr. — When Dopsie takes the stage in his signature white hat and mirrored sunglasses, a throwdown always erupts — each member of the band pushes one another to take it higher, while the crowd packing the dance floor meets them step for step. A favorite at both clubs and festivals, Dopsie brought the washboard front and center in a world of accordion-centric zydeco bands. Guaranteed fun, fun, fun.

2. Amanda Shaw

3. Tab Benoit

Best Local Brass Band

1. Rebirth Brass Band — The rankings in this category are an exact duplicate of 2009's reader poll, probably because so little has changed — Rebirth still feels like funkin' it up every Tuesday night at the Maple Leaf to locals and amazed tourists alike. Now in its 27th year and fresh as ever, Rebirth is set to release a new album this fall.

2. Hot 8 Brass Band

3. Soul Rebels

Best Local Rap/Hip-Hop Artist

1. Lil Wayne — The only person on our Best of New Orleans winners list to be serving time at Rikers Island Prison, Weezy is set to get out and start making music again in November. The man whose prolific output (almost-daily mixtape releases) gave the record industry a shot in its dying arm (and did the same for the bootleg CD shops in eastern New Orleans). Fans can count down the days with Wayne at his jailhouse blog, WeezyThanxYou.com.

2. Juvenile

3. E.O.E.

Best DJ

1. DJ Soul Sister — People might not know the name Melissa Weber, but they all know Soul Sister, whose show on WWOZ and weekly gig at Mimi's in the Marigny are the places to be for authentic '70s soul on wax. Much of what Soul Sister spins is original vinyl that never made it to CD or the iTunes store. Who else is going to play you this stuff?

2. DJ Crystal

3. DJ Jubilee

Best Funk/R&B Band/Artist

1. Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk — Funk — that sweaty, greasy jam — was born in the Crescent City in the 1960s and put on the national map by the Meters, which included Art and Cyril Neville. With Dumpstaphunk, the torch has been passed to two of the new-generation Nevilles — Ivan and Ian — who are again taking New Orleans funk to the world. This year, they end a summer tour with an opening slot for Widespread Panic at the UNO Lakefront Arena Oct. 29.

2. Galactic

3. Big Sam's Funky Nation




Best New Restaurant

1. Le Foret (129 Camp St., 553-6738; www.leforetneworleans.com) — Fine dining restaurants topped the list of new favorites, with the elegant Le Foret besting the competition. Its soft opening was more fitting to a private club, but the elegant environs and refined cuisine has foodies talking. Chef Jimmy Corwell's contemporary continental cooking is nuanced and executed with precision, and versions of local favorites such as turtle soup or oysters Rockefeller assure diners that it is indeed a New Orleans restaurant.

2. Mondo (900 Harrison Ave., 224-2633; www.mondoneworleans.com)

3. Domenica (Roosevelt Hotel, 123 Baronne St., 648-6020; www.domenicarestaurant.com)

La Boulangerie: Best Bakery - PHOTO BY GARY LOVERDE

Best Metairie Restaurant

1. Drago's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar (3232 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie, 888-9254; www.dragosrestaurant.com) — The scarcity of local oysters may make the heart grow fonder, and Drago's hasn't missed a beat. The often-imitated but unmatched home of charbroiled oysters repeats as our readers' favorite Metairie restaurant. Founder Tommy Cvitanovich built his restaurant's reputation by seeking his own local seafood purveyors, but his menu includes more sea creatures from distant waters, including Maine lobsters.

2. Bravo Cucina Italiana (3413 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 828-8828; www.bravoitalian.com)

3. Andrea's Restaurant (3100 19th St., Metairie, 834-8583; www.andreasrestaurant.com)

Best New Orleans Restaurant

1. Clancy's (6110 Annunciation St., 895-1111) — Clancy's snuck up on last year's first and second place finishers, pushing each down a notch. The Uptown institution may not require jackets or offer as grand a facade as its competition, but its bustling dining rooms are testimony to the quality of its contemporary Creole cooking. And lemon icebox pie is the type of simple dish that lends to its more casual charm.

2. Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave., 899-8221; www.commanderspalace.com)

3. Galatoire's Restaurant (209 Bourbon St., 525-2021; www.galatoires.com)

Best Kenner Restaurant

1. Le Parvenu (509 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 471-0534; www.leparvenu.com) — Chef/owner Dennis Hutley's quaint cottage cafe again sits atop the list of favorite Kenner restaurants. His creative touch on local seafood with dishes like his oyster doubloons established the restaurant's reputation. Outdoor dining on the patio makes for casually elegant meals.

2. Smilie's (5725 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan, 733-3000; www.smiliesrestaurant.com)

3. Smitty's (2000 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner, 468-1647)

Best Northshore Restaurant

1. The Dakota Restaurant (629 N. Hwy. 190, Covington, 985-892-3712; www.thedakotarestaurant.com) — With signature dishes like crabmeat and Brie soup, the Dakota is one of the Northshore's perennial favorites. It combines refined contemporary Creole cooking and a deep wine list, which is to be expected of the sister restaurant to downtown New Orleans' Cuvee.

2. La Provence (25020 Hwy. 190 E., Lacombe, 985-626-7662; www.laprovencerestaurant.com)

3. Trey Yuen Cuisine of China (600 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, 985-626-4476; www.treyyuen.com)

Best West Bank Restaurant

1. Hoa Hong/9 Roses (1100 Stephens St., Gretna, 366-7665) — Diners in search of Vietnamese food often head to the West Bank for a range of choices. The well-established Hoa Hong/9 Roses is a longtime favorite and offers an extensive menu of Vietnamese dishes as well as Chinese specialties. For a little dramatic flair, some special dishes are cooked at the table amid a spread of baskets of herbs and accoutrements.

2. Pho Tau Bay (113 Westbank Expwy., Gretna, 368-9846)

3. The Red Maple Restaurant (1036 Lafayette St., Gretna, 367-0935; www.theredmaple.com)

Best St. Bernard Parish Restaurant

1. Rocky & Carlo's Restaurant and Bar (613 W. St. Bernard Hwy., Chalmette, 279-8323) — Rocky & Carlo's has been a St. Bernard bastion of home-style Italian cooking since it first opened in 1965. Though it was shuttered for a couple of years post-Katrina, diners again flock to Chalmette for Rocky & Carlo's mix of fried seafood dishes, pasta with red sauce, veal Parmesan and macaroni and cheese.

2. Tony's Po-Boy Restaurant (434 E. Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette, 271-5211)

3. Today's Ketch Seafood Inc. (2110 E. Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette, 279-6639; www.todaysketchseafood.com)

Best Neighborhood Restaurant

1. Clancy's (6110 Annunciation St., 895-1111) — While Clancy's isn't a well-kept secret, its out-of-the-way corner spot in Uptown gives it the look and feel of a neighborhood treasure. The din of conversation in the usually busy downstairs dining room and at the small bar/waiting area conveys the warmth and casual atmosphere that makes it feel like a familiar locals' haunt.

2. City Diner (3116 S. I-10 Service Road, Metairie, 831-1030; www.citydiner.biz)

3. Joey K's Restaurant (3001 Magazine St., 891-0997; www.joeyksrestaurant.com)

Best Hotel Restaurant

1. MiLa (817 Common St., 412-2580; www.milaneworleans.com) — When chefs Slade and Allison Vines-Rushing checked into the Renaissance Pere Marquette, it was to stay. They moved their Northshore restaurant downtown and continue to offer signature dishes like deconstructed oysters Rockefeller. MiLa's sleek, modern decor is well suited to their approach to reinventing Southern cuisine.

2. Domenica (Roosevelt Hotel, 123 Baronne St., 648-6020; www.domenicarestaurant.com)

3. Cafe Adelaide (Loews Hotel, 300 Poydras St., 595-3305; www.cafeadelaide.com)

Best Restaurant for Barbecue

1. The Joint (801 Poland Ave., 949-3232; www.alwaysmokin.com) — Just like its motto states, The Joint is "always smokin'." Barbecue lovers head to the unassuming 9th Ward spot for slabs of ribs, brisket, chicken and pulled pork. Word even spread to the Food Network's spiky-haired road-food host Guy Fieri, who stepped into The Joint's rear courtyard to get his smoke on Bywater style.

2. Voodoo BBQ & Grill (1501 St. Charles Ave., 522-4647; 2999 Hwy. 190 E., Mandeville, 985-629-2021; www.voodoobbqandgrill.com)

3. Squeal Bar-B-Q (8400 Oak St., 302-7370; www.squeal-nola.com)

Best Chinese Restaurant

1. Five Happiness (3605 S. Carrollton Ave., 482-3935; www.fivehappiness.com) — This well-loved eatery has created its own three-decades-long dynasty among local Chinese restaurants. The Mid-City institution offers an extensive menu and a variety of regional Chinese styles. It aims to please, with everything from affordable lunch specials to take out, delivery and catering facilities.

2. Trey Yuen Cuisine of China (600 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, 985-626-4476; www.treyyuen.com)

3. Hoshun Restaurant (1601 St. Charles Ave., 302-9716)

Best Cajun Restaurant

1. Cochon (930 Tchoupitoulas St., 588-2123; www.cochonrestaurant.com) — Chefs Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski are in hog heaven at their inspired and urbane Cajun restaurant. They butcher their own hogs and serve everything from oversized boudin balls to grilled pork ribs with watermelon rind pickles. Cocktails made with legal moonshine complement their refined approach to rustic cooking.

2. K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen (416 Chartres St., 524-7394; www.kpauls.com)

3. Mulate's Cajun Restaurant (201 Julia St., 522-1492; www.mulates.com)

Best Creole Restaurant

1. Jacques-Imo's Cafe (8324 Oak St., 861-0886) — Essentially Creole cooking is a hybrid of different traditions. Jacques-Imo's contribution to Creole cooking is a brassy, freewheeling, folk-artsy take that's drawn diners to items like shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake, deep-fried roast beef po-boys and other highly seasoned creations. A lively spirit infuses everything from the restaurant's bar and open kitchen to the neighboring annex dining room.

2. Dooky Chase Restaurant (2301 Orleans Ave., 821-0535)

3. Olivier's Creole Restaurant (204 Decatur St., 525-7734; www.olivierscreole.com)

Best Italian Restaurant

1. Vincent's Italian Cuisine (4411 Chastant St., Metairie, 885-2984; 7839 St. Charles Ave., 866-9313; www.vincentsitaliancuisine.com) — At both its Uptown and Metairie locations, Vincent's offers a casual setting to enjoy hearty Italian fare with plenty of homemade red sauce. It's topped many recent Gambit polls for Italian dining, including last year. Standards such as shrimp marinara and veal osso buco keep diners going back for more.

2. A Mano ( 870 Tchoupitoulas St., 208-9280; www.amanonola.com)

3. Venezia (134 N. Carrollton Ave., 488-7991)

Best Japanese/Sushi Restaurant

1. Sake Cafe Uptown (2830 Magazine St., 894-0033; www.sakecafeuptown.us) — Occupying a former K&B pharmacy remodeled into a modern restaurant, Sake Cafe Uptown combines the traditional and the contemporary. There's a long sushi bar, and the kitchen serves a wide range of cooked Japanese dishes, including many original sushi rolls and appetizers.

2. Kyoto ( 4920 Prytania St., 891-3644; www.kyotonola.com)

3. Kyoto II (Citrus Palm Shopping Center, 5608 Citrus Blvd., Harahan, 818-0228)

Best Latin American Restaurant

1. Pupuseria Divino Corazon (2300 Belle Chasse Hwy., Gretna, 368-5724) — Long before post-Katrina rebuilding attracted a new wave of Latino residents to New Orleans, Pupuseria Divino Corazon was in a category by itself, serving El Salvadoran items like its namesake pupusas to a community much more familiar with (an also limited number of) Mexican dishes. Since the 1980s, it has expanded its seating several times to accommodate new fans of its staple cornmeal pupusas and tamales.

2. Baru Bistro & Tapas (3700 Magazine St., 895-2225)

3. RioMar (800 S. Peters St., 525-3474; www.riomarseafood.com)

Best Mexican Restaurant

1. Superior Bar & Grill (3636 St. Charles Ave., 899-4200; www.superiorgrill.com — Superior Grill is again numero uno with local diners in search of Mexican cuisine. The menu includes everything from enchilada and fajita platters to creative dishes. And with a prominent spot on the Avenue, the brightly decorated cantina is a popular drinking spot, offering a wide selection of tequilas and specialty margaritas.

2. El Gato Negro (81 French Market Place, 525-9752; www.elgatonegronola.com)

3. Taqueria Corona (5932 Magazine St., 897-3974; www.taqueriacorona.com)

Best Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Restaurant

1. Lebanon's Cafe (1500 S. Carrollton Ave., 862-6200; www.lebanonscafe.com) — In an area lined with ethnic dining options, Lebanon stands out as your spot of choice for Mediterranean cuisine. The menu offers a wide selection of typical fare — hummus, falafel and chicken shawarma are all represented — at reasonable prices and in a comfortable, colorful dining room. Be sure to check out the Lebanese iced tea made with rosewater and pine nuts and, for dessert, the flaky burma — phyllo dough wrapped around pistachio nuts.

2. Mona's Cafe (3901 Banks St., 482-7743)

3. Byblos (3218 Magazine St., 894-1233; www.byblosrestaurants.com)

Best Seafood Restaurant

1. GW Fins (808 Bienville St., 581-3467; www.gwfins.com) — Since first making a splash in 2001, chef/proprietor Tenney Flynn has hooked local seafood lovers with a menu that he alters daily according to what's fresh, including many coldwater and deep-sea fish flown in from distant markets. Dishes run the gamut from sashimi-style presentations to fried lobster tails.

2. Deanie's (841 Iberville St., 581-1316; 1713 Lake Ave., Metairie, 831-4141; www.deanies.com)

3. Galley Seafood Restaurant (2535 Metairie Road, Metairie, 832-0955)

Best Soul Food Restaurant

1. Dooky Chase Restaurant (2301 Orleans Ave., 821-0535) — Renowned chef Leah Chase wrote the book on Creole soul cooking. Her landmark restaurant has been a New Orleans institution since the 1940s, and she's served everyone from Treme locals to jazz legends and presidents. Since reopening after Hurricane Katrina, lunch has been buffet-style and includes dishes like hearty gumbo and soul food staples.

2. Li'l Dizzy's Cafe (610 Poydras St., 212-5656; 1500 Esplanade Ave., 569-8997)

3. Praline Connection (542 Frenchmen St., 943-3934; www.pralineconnection.com)

Best Steakhouse

1. Ruth's Chris Steak House (Harrah's Hotel, 228 Poydras St., 587-7099; 3633 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-3600; www.ruthschris.com) — Perhaps it's only fitting that the international chain steakhouse created by Ruth Fertel on North Broad Street is New Orleans' favorite. The original location is shuttered, but Ruth's Chris restaurants downtown and in Metairie still sear steaks in custom broilers, and they arrive at your table with butter sizzling on the plate.

2. Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse (716 Iberville St., 522-2467; www.dickiebrennanssteakhouse.com)

3. Mr. John's Steak House (2111 St. Charles Ave., 679-7697; www.mrjohnssteakhouse.com)

Le Foret: Best New Restaurant - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

Best Thai Restaurant

1. La Thai Uptown (4938 Prytania St., 899-8886; www.lathaiuptown.com) — La Thai Uptown completes a three-pete as Gambit readers' favorite place for Thai cuisine. Chef/owner Diana Chauvin recently claimed second place in the Louisiana Seafood Cook-off at the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience. The Uptown restaurant serves a mix of traditional and original dishes using the full palette of Thai herbs and spices.

2. Basil Leaf (1438 S. Carrollton Ave., 862-9001; www.basilleaf.webs.com)

3. Sukho Thai (1913 Royal St., 948-9309; www.sukhothai-nola.com)

Best Vietnamese Restaurant

1. Hoa Hong/9 Roses (1100 Stephens St., Gretna, 366-7665) — The dining options at 9 Roses go well beyond staple pho and spring rolls that are popular with local diners. Many dishes are cooked and assembled at the table with lettuce leaves, baskets of herbs and other fresh ingredients. The restaurant is one of the West Bank's senior Vietnamese establishments and is one of our readers' perennial favorites.

2. Pho Tau Bay (113 Westbank Expwy., Gretna, 368-9846)


3. Jazmine Cafe (614 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9301; www.jazminecafe.com)

3. Doson Noodle House (135 N. Carrollton Ave., 309-7283)

Best Small Plates Restaurant

1. Vega Tapas Cafe (2051 Metairie Road, Metairie, 836-2007; www.vegatapascafe.com) — Vega Tapas Cafe opened well ahead of the local tapas trend, serving creative small plates in Old Metairie long before Spanish culture recolonized downtown New Orleans. Chef/proprietor Glen Hogh puts a creative touch on Spanish and Mediterranean dishes and adds local touches as well.

2. Rambla (International House, 217 Camp St., 587-7720; www.ihhotel.com)

3. Mimi's in the Marigny (2601 Royal St., 872-9868; www.mimisinthemarigny.com)

Best Breakfast Spot

1. Fat Hen Grill (1821 Hickory Ave., Harahan, 305-1980; www.fathengrill.com) — Breakfast and diner food get special attention at this restaurant opened by chef Shane Pritchett, a former chef de cuisine at Emeril's. Creative and hearty dishes like "womlettes," omelets served on Belgian waffles, show he's making not just pretty food, but satisfying and flavorful dishes.

2. Camellia Grill (626 S. Carrollton Ave., 309-2679; www.camelliagrill.net)

3. The Ruby Slipper Cafe (139 S. Cortez St., 309-5531; www.therubyslippercafe.net)

Best Brunch

1. Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave., 899-8221; www.commanderspalace.com) — With its strolling jazz combos, leisurely brunches are an established tradition at Commander's Palace. If the music doesn't get diners going, eye-opening cocktails will. Combined with innovative Creole cooking, it all helps make Commander's Palace New Orleans' favorite brunch spot for a second consecutive year.

2. Patois (6078 Laurel St., 895-9441; www.patoisnola.com)

3. Court of Two Sisters (613 Royal St., 522-7261; www.courtoftwosisters.com)

Best Lunch Specials

1. Joey K's Restaurant (3001 Magazine St., 891-0997; www.joeyksrestaurant.com) — Joey K's can chalk up its popularity with Gambit readers to hefty schooners of beer and lunch specials. The neighborhood spot has a solid lineup of changing dishes with favorites including beef brisket, stuffed bell peppers, Creole jambalaya, corned beef and cabbage and many others.

2. Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave., 899-8221; www.commanderspalace.com)

3. Muriel's Jackson Square (801 Chartres St., 568-1885; www.muriels.com)

Best Late-Night Dining

1. Camellia Grill (626 S. Carrollton Ave., 309-2679; www.camelliagrill.net) — Whether set on cheeseburgers or fries loaded with chili and cheese, many New Orleanians have made a habit of ending late nights at the Camellia Grill. Tuxedoed waiters provide fast service and endless banter at the diner's counter. That's why the Riverbend institution is repeating as readers' favorite nightspot.

2. La Peniche Restaurant (1940 Dauphine St., 943-1460)

3. City Diner (3116 S. I-10 Service Road, Metairie, 831-1030; www.citydiner.biz)

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant

1. Chuck E. Cheese's (124 North Shore Blvd., Slidell, 985-641-4878; 3701 Gen. DeGaulle Drive, 367-1214; 7000 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 454-5959; www.chuckecheese.com) — While Superior Grill has better margaritas, Chuck E. Cheese restaurants have an incomparable edge with video games, Skee-Ball and entertainment to amuse young patrons. Add that it's a natural place to host parties and events, and it's catering to the crowd. Pizza and a menu of kid favorites also help make it the big cheese.

2. Superior Bar & Grill (3636 St. Charles Ave., 899-4200; www.superiorgrill.com

3. Reginelli's Pizzeria (Citywide; www.reginellis.com)

Best Cheap Eats

1. Coulis (3625 Prytania St., 304-4265) — Chef James Leeming's spot occupies the former Bluebird Cafe, and diners will find an affordable, casual breakfast and brunch spot with some lunch options that won't break the bank. Leeming goes beyond Bluebird's famous huevos rancheros, adding some sophisticated touches to classic early-riser fare.

2. Felipe's Taqueria (301 N. Peters St., 267-4406; 6215 S. Miro St., 309-2776; www.felipesneworleans.com)

3. Juan's Flying Burrito (2018 Magazine St., 569-0000; 4724 S. Carrollton Ave., 486-9950; www.juansflyingburrito.com)

Best Menu for Vegetarians

1. Little Morocco (7457 St. Charles Ave., 301-9184) — Aside from plenty of lamb and beef stews, North African cuisine often relies on an array of vegetables and meat-free dishes. The menu at this new St. Charles Avenue respite for the meatless features reliable standbys like hummus alongside exotic plates such as taktooka with roasted red peppers, and zaalook, made with eggplant.

2. The Green Goddess (307 Exchange Alley, 301-3347; www.greengoddessnola.com)

3. Mona's Cafe (504 Frenchmen St., 949-4115; 1120 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-8175; 3901 Banks St., 482-7743; 4126 Magazine St., 894-9800)

Best Dessert and Where to Get It

1. Peppermint Ice Cream at Clancy's (6110 Annunciation St., 895-1111) — A hefty slab of peppermint ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce from this Uptown standby has satisfied many a sweet tooth. After a full Creole meal and seafood specials, you might have trouble finding room for this treat, but Gambit readers don't seem to have a problem.

2. Cheesecake at Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro (2001 St. Charles Ave., 593-9955; 4517 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 454-7620; www.copelandscheesecakebistro.com)

3. Bread Pudding Souffle at Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave., 899-8221; www.commanderspalace.com)

Best Buffet

1. Harrah's Casino (8 Canal St., 533-6000; www.harrahsneworleans.com) — Once again, Gambit readers can bet on Harrah's for its buffet. Weekly specials — from Mexican Fiesta Mondays and Tuesday fry nights to surf and turf Saturdays — and affordable prices make diners feel like a winner, even if they're in the hole.

2. Boomtown Casino New Orleans (4132 Peters Road, Harvey, 366-7711; www.boomtownneworleans.com)

3. Nirvana Indian Cuisine (4308 Magazine St., 894-9797)

Best Wine List

1. Wine Institute of New Orleans (610 Tchoupitoulas St., 324-8000; www.winoschool.com) — Whether an amateur fan or a person with ambitions to be a supreme sommelier, anyone is welcome at this school for wine lovers. The Enomatic wine dispenser system allows guests to taste a number of vintages, and the store carries more than 300 labels — more than enough for a wino or a W.I.N.O. grad.

2. Emeril's Restaurant (800 Tchoupitoulas St., 528-9393; www.emerils.com)

3. The Delachaise (3442 St. Charles Ave., 895-0858; www.thedelachaise.com)

Best Chef

1. John Besh — Last year, John Besh added two more downtown restaurants — American Sector and Domenica — to his growing culinary empire, which also includes August, Besh Steak, Luke and La Provence in Lacombe. His national figure has gotten bigger, too, in the wake of the BP oil disaster, since he stepped up to support local fisheries.

2. Susan Spicer

3. Donald Link

Best Outdoor Dining

1. Martinique Bistro (5908 Magazine St., 891-8495; www.martiniquebistro.com) — This bistro proves the white tablecloth experience isn't limited to indoor dining. White linen, exposed brick, white lights and umbrellas grace the patio retreat at the Uptown French-Caribbean restaurant. Fans help repel the humidity, heaters keep it warm in the cold, and lush greenery sends out all-weather tropical vibes.

2. Bayona (430 Dauphine St., 525-4455; www.bayona.com)

3. Cafe Rani (2917 Magazine St., 895-2500; www.caferanimagazine.com)

Best Deli

1. Stein's Market & Deli (2207 Magazine St., 527-0771; www.steinsdeli.net) — New York expats can take refuge in Dan Stein's namesake deli, where they'll find familiar and true-to-form meats, sandwiches and, of course, H&H bagels. Stein's also offers cured, Kosher and Italian meats, more than 50 international cheeses, and a globetrotting beer selection.

2. Martin Wine Cellar (714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie, 896-7350; www.martinwine.com)

3. Kosher Cajun New York Deli & Grocery (3519 Severn Ave., Metairie, 888-2010; www.koshercajun.com)

Best Restaurant to Nurse a Hangover

1. Port of Call (838 Esplanade Ave., 523-0120; www.portofcallneworleans.com) — A thick burger and a baked potato ought to settle that stomach — or fill it, at least — and help you forget the headache. Conveniently located within walking distance to the street-long bar that is Bourbon Street, Port of Call can help you get started on the cure before you wake up on an empty belly. If all else fails, there's a stocked bar for hair of the dog.

2. Camellia Grill (626 S. Carrollton Ave., 309-2679; www.camelliagrill.net)

3. Slim Goodies Diner (3322 Magazine St., 891-3447)

Best Seafood Market

1. Big Fisherman Seafood (3301 Magazine St., 897-9907; www.bigfishermanseafood.com) — If it lives in the water, chances are it can be found at this Uptown market teeming with Louisiana seafood and then some. Open seven days a week, Big Fisherman offers live and boiled crawfish by the sack, crabs, head-on shrimp, redfish and even turtle and alligator meat. Headed to an outdoor boil? No worries. Big Fisherman can pack you a bag to go.

2. Hong Kong Market (925 Behrman Hwy., Terrytown, 394-7075)


3. Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar (3203 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 443-6454)

4. Whole Foods Market (3420 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-8225; 5600 Magazine St., 899-9119; www.wholefoods.com)

Best Burger

1. Port of Call (838 Esplanade Ave., 523-0120; www.portofcallneworleans.com) — The smell of sizzling burgers keeps a telltale, down-the-block line focused on the prize: Port of Call's half-pound, fresh-ground patties and loaded baked potatoes, waiting inside next to goblet-sized glasses of sweet, signature tropical-inspired cocktails. Gambit readers chose Port of Call again this year, knowing they can get their best burger fix from the four on the menu.

2. Yo Mama's Bar & Grill (727 St. Peter St., 522-1125; www.yomamasbarandgrill.com)

3. Phil's Grill (3020 Severn Ave., Metairie, 324-9080; www.phils-grill.com)

Best Gourmet-To-Go

1. Whole Foods Market (3420 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-8225; 5600 Magazine St., 899-9119; www.wholefoods.com) — As it celebrates its 30th year in business, Whole Foods can also rejoice in its repeat win as Gambit readers' choice for best gourmet-to-go. Beyond pizzas, sandwiches and salads, Whole Foods offers ready-to-eat pastas, roasted vegetables, soups and other creations, be they baked, stir-fried, blackened or curried.

2. Martin Wine Cellar (714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie, 896-7350; www.martinwine.com)

3. Gott Gourmet (3100 Magazine St., 373-6579; www.gottgourmetcafe.com)

Best Gumbo

1. Gumbo Shop (630 St. Peter St., 525-1486; www.gumboshop.com) — They didn't name it after the dish for nothing. Gambit readers didn't specify which of Gumbo Shop's gumbos won them over, so we'll assume both the seafood okra and chicken andouille were on par for a Best of New Orleans consideration.

2. Joey K's Restaurant (3001 Magazine St., 891-0997; www.joeyksrestaurant.com)

3. Mr. B's (201 Royal St., 523-2078; www.mrbsbistro.com)

Best Muffuletta

1. Central Grocery (923 Decatur St., 523-1620) — This Decatur Street landmark picks up where Italian street vendors left off at the turn of the century. Eat in or take out one of its famous muffulettas, a classic served cold and packed with olive salad, capicola, mortadella, salami and emmentaler and provolone cheeses, all piled high inside a thick wheel (or slice of a wheel) of bread.

2. DiMartino's Famous New Orleans Muffulettas (1788 Carol Sue Ave., Terrytown, 392-7589; 3900 Gen. DeGaulle Drive, 392-7589; 6641 Westbank Expwy., Marrero, 341-4096; www.dimartinos.com)

3. The Market Cafe (1000 Decatur St., 527-5000; www.marketcafenola.com)

Electric Ladyland: Best Body Piercing/Tattoo Parlor - PHOTO BY GARY LOVERDE

Best Pizza Place

1. Theo's Pizza (4024 Canal St., 302-1133; 4218 Magazine St., 894-8554; www.theospizza.com) — Now slinging pizzas from a Mid-City location as well as its Uptown original, Theo's takes this year's top prize for the city's best pies. House specialties and gourmet toppings on a signature crispy crust float to tables tagged by pictures of familiar pop cultural icons, from Elvis Costello to Kenny Powers, who of all people would no doubt appreciate the weekly draft and bottled beer specials.

2. Slice (1513 St. Charles Ave., 525-7437; 5528 Magazine St., 897-4800; www.slicepizzeria.com)

3. Reginelli's Pizzeria (Citywide; www.reginellis.com)

Best Red Beans and Rice Place

1. Joey K's Restaurant (3001 Magazine St., 891-0997; www.joeyksrestaurant.com) — Mondays elsewhere don't come to an end as sweet as they do in New Orleans. Readers trust Joey K's to end Monday (and any other night of the week) the right way — with a plate of comforting, creamy bliss on white rice, with smoked sausage, of course.

2. Popeyes (Citywide; www.popeyes.com)

3. Mother's Restaurant (401 Poydras St., 523-9656; www.mothersrestaurant.net)

Best Salad and Where to Get It

1. Chop Salad / Ruth's Chris Steak House (Harrah's Hotel, 228 Poydras St., 587-7099; 3633 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-3600; www.ruthschris.com) — Ruth's Chris may have the steak thing going for it, but its star salad is its secret weapon: iceberg lettuce, baby spinach and radicchio meet red onion, mushrooms, olives, bacon, eggs, hearts of palm, croutons, blue cheese and a lemon-basil dressing.

2. Chicken Salad / Reginelli's Pizzeria (Citywide; www.reginellis.com)

3. Zea Salad / Zea Rotisserie and Grill (Citywide; www.zearestaurants.com)

Best Oyster Po-Boy

1. Parkway Bakery and Tavern (538 Hagan Ave., 482-3047; www.parkwaybakeryandtavernnola.com) — Though BP's oil disaster in the gulf forced the Bayou St. John joint to take oysters off its menu, Gambit readers won't hold it against them and instead will anxiously await their return, once again voting Parkway's bivalve po-boy the best.

2. Guy's Po-Boys (5259 Magazine St., 891-5025)

3. Acme Oyster & Seafood House (724 Iberville St., 522-5973; 1202 N. Hwy. 190, Covington, 985-246-6155; 3000 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 309-4056; www.acmeoyster.com)

Best Shrimp Po-Boy

1. Parkway Bakery and Tavern (538 Hagan Ave., 482-3047; www.parkwaybakeryandtavernnola.com) — If Parkway is Thanksgiving, its loaves of Leidenheimer bread are the cornucopia — spilling over with Parkway's fried shrimp. There's enough to share with the table over a bottle of Barq's. Parkway also offers the sandwich loaded with its debris gravy, or as a "surf and turf" po-boy with both Gambit readers' favorites: roast beef and fried shrimp. Call an ambulance.

2. Guy's Po-Boys (5259 Magazine St., 891-5025)

3. Domilise's Po-Boys (5240 Annunciation St., 899-9126)

Best Roast Beef Po-Boy

1. Parkway Bakery and Tavern (538 Hagan Ave., 482-3047; www.parkwaybakeryandtavernnola.com) — Good gravy! Competition is heavy for the crowning achievement as New Orleans' best roast beef po-boy, but Parkway once again earns Gambit's hat trick, taking top honors for its three flagship sandwiches — oysters, shrimp and the formidable roast beef, a hearty, debris-smothered meat explosion on hefty Leidenheimer bread.

2. Guy's Po-Boys (5259 Magazine St., 891-5025)


3. Domilise's Po-Boys (5240 Annunciation St., 899-9126)

3. Parasol's Restaurant & Bar (2533 Constance St., 899-2054; www.parasols.com)

Best Banh Mi

1. Pho Tau Bay (113 Westbank Expwy., Gretna, 368-9846) — The basic building blocks of banh mi — an airy baguette, pate, pork, cilantro sprigs, pickled carrot and daikon, etc. — are all on the menu at Pho Tau Bay in Gretna, one of the main places non-Vietnamese New Orleanians were first exposed to Vietnamese food. What separates Pho Tau Bay from the city's wealth of banh mi restaurants, however, is the dozen different options on the menu, including an all-vegetarian banh mi made with fresh tofu.

2. Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery (14207 Chef Menteur Hwy., 254-0214)

3. Pho Nola (3320 Transcontinental Drive, Metairie, www.pho-nola.com)

Best Crepes

1. La Crepe Nanou (1410 Robert St., 899-2670; www.lacrepenanou.com) — This Parisian-inspired bistro off Prytania Street doesn't fill its delicate pancakes with typical culinary fluff. Crepes here include beef tips and mushrooms braised in red wine, coq au vin and several seafood-stuffed options. Soothe a sweet tooth with a loaded list of dessert crepes.

2. Crepes a la Cart (1039 Broadway St., 866-2362; www.crepesalacarts.com)

3. Muriel's Jackson Square (801 Chartres St., 568-1885; www.muriels.com)

Best Tacos

1. Juan's Flying Burrito (2018 Magazine St., 569-0000; 4724 S. Carrollton Ave., 486-9950; www.juansflyingburrito.com) — The "burrito" in the namesake may be the taqueria's red herring. Gambit readers head to Juan's for three-to-a-basket taco dinners, from blackened redfish with creamy cilantro sauce and salsa fresca, to colorful "Mardi Gras Indians" with roasted corn, squash and pinto beans.

2. Taceaux Loceaux (www.twitter.com/tlnola)

3. Taqueria Corona (5932 Magazine St., 897-3974; 1827 Hickory Ave., Harahan, 738-6722; 3535 Severn Ave., Metairie, 885-5088; www.taqueriacorona.com)

Best Cup of Coffee

1. PJ's Coffee of New Orleans (Citywide; www.pjscoffee.com) — With more than three decades in the roasting and brewing business, PJ's knows a thing or two about a good cup of joe. Its coffeehouses span across Louisiana, and there are a couple in New Jersey, all offering the brand's popular options like frozen granitas, signature iced coffees and seasonal specialties.

2. CC's Community Coffeehouse (Citywide; www.communitycoffee.com)

3. Cafe Du Monde (Citywide; www.cafedumonde.com)

Best Place to Get Ice Cream

1. Creole Creamery (6260 Vicksburg St., 482-2924; 4924 Prytania St., 894-8680; www.creolecreamery.com) — The parlor occupying a former McKenzie's bakery (glowing sign, still intact) on Prytania Street lives by a simple credo: "Eat ice cream. Be Happy." A diverse, seasonal selection of homemade flavors — from orange blossom and honey, to Steen's molasses oatmeal cookie — is now also available at its second shop in Lakeview.

2. Angelo Brocato (214 N. Carrollton Ave., 486-0078; www.angelobrocatoicecream.com)

3. Cold Stone Creamery (624 S. Carrollton Ave., 218-8900; 1130 S. Clearview Pkwy., 736-5037; www.coldstonecreamery.com)

Best Place to Get Gelato

1. La Divina Gelateria (621 St. Peter St., 302-2692; 3005 Magazine St., 342-2634; www.ladivinagelateria.com) — Gambit readers scoop out this gelatti haven for its local, seasonal and organic flavors, including Abita Turbodog-infused chocolate and honey sesame goat's milk, all made from scratch. Now Loyola students can study a la mode thanks to La Divina's campus location.

2. Angelo Brocato (214 N. Carrollton Ave., 486-0078; www.angelobrocatoicecream.com)

3. Sucre (3025 Magazine St., 520-8311; www.shopsucre.com)

Best Frozen Yogurt

1. Pinkberry (300 Canal St.; 5601 Magazine St., 899-4260; www.pinkberry.com) — Pinkberry helped kick off a gourmet fro-yo craze around the country, thanks to high-profile celebs caught buying the fro-gurt from its Los Angeles locales. Its first Deep South location opened in New Orleans earlier this year, and Gambit readers have declared its supremacy. There's also a new location on Canal Street.

2. TCBY (Old Metairie Village, 701 Metairie Road, Metairie, 835-2983; 1680 Hwy. 59, Suite 100, Mandeville, 985-626-4770; Clearview Palms Shopping Center, 2222 Clerview Pkwy., Suite D, Metairie, 887-0771; www.tcby.com)

3. Pure Yogurt Culture (8108 Hampson St., 864-8108)

Best Sno-ball Stand

1. Hansen's Sno-Bliz (4801 Tchoupitoulas St., 891-9788; www.snobliz.com) — This institution on Tchoupitoulas enjoys the rare title of sno-ball pioneer. Opened in 1939 by Ernest Hansen, who invented the shaved ice machine, and his wife Mary, who created the syrups, Hansen's relies on its time-tested recipes, now at the hands of the Hansens' granddaughter, Ashley.

2. Williams Plum Street Snowballs (1300 Burdette St., 866-7996; www.plumstreetsnoball.com)

3. Sal's Sno-balls (1823 Metairie Ave., Metairie, 666-1823)

Best Coffeehouse

1. Dee's Coffee & Copy (401 Baronne St., 596-2012) — This CBD coffeehouse — and copy center, for your convenience — serves as the meeting place for the Society of New Orleans Baristas (aka, SNOB), which should give you an idea of this java joint's commitment to caffeine. Dee's also offers free Wi-Fi, vegan pastries and an iced coffee — with coffee ice cubes.

2. Cafe du Monde (Citywide; www.cafedumonde.com)

3. CCs Community Coffeehouse (900 Jefferson Ave., 891-4969; www.communitycoffee.com)

Best Restaurant That Delivers

1. Reginelli's Pizzeria (Citywide; www.reginellis.com) — Gambit readers know whom to call when the game is on, or for movie night, or when leaving the couch is a chore beyond comprehension. Whatever the case, Reginelli's, which has catered to New Orleans diners since 1996, makes those home dining options easier with delivery available citywide. Choose from gourmet pizzas, sandwiches, salads and baked pastas.

2. Pita Pit (5800 Magazine St., 899-4141; www.pitapitnola.com)

3. Five Happiness (3605 S. Carrollton Ave., 482-3935; www.fivehappiness.com)




Best State Representative or State Senator

1. Congressman Steve Scalise — Scalise has been representing Louisiana's 1st Congressional District since 2008, when his predecessor, Bobby Jindal, moved up to the Governor's Mansion. Scalise is a GOP family-values stalwart whose suburban constituents obviously like his tough talk on the Obama administration's response to the BP oil disaster.

2. State Sen. Julie Quinn

3. State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson

New Orleans Po-boy Preservation Festival: Best Food Festival - PHOTO BY INFROGMATION OF NEW ORLEANS

Best New Orleans City Councilmember

1. Arnie Fielkow — Once again, the affable council president finished ahead of two of the council's most outspoken women. This time last year, there was much speculation that Fielkow might run for mayor, but he demurred. He has two qualities we really like: He's a quiet but strong progressive voice on the council, and he's not driven by a monumental ego.

2. Stacy Head

3. Jackie Clarkson

Best Jefferson Parish Councilmember

1. John Young — The parish council president finished second in this category last year, right behind fellow at-large Councilman Tom Capella, who recently deferred to Young in the race for parish president. Capella instead will run for assessor, which leaves the popular Young as the odds-on fave to win the parish presidency. Call it Pax Jeffersona.

2. Cynthia Lee-Sheng

3. Tom Capella

Best Political Rising Star

1. Congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao — Hailed as "the future of the GOP" upon his arrival in Washington less than two years ago, the country's first and only Vietnamese-American in Congress is now in the race of his life to hold on to his seat in the 2nd Congressional District. Then again, his upset of Dollar Bill Jefferson in 2008 was also the race of his life. It's hard out there for a Republican.

2. Mayor Mitch Landrieu

3. Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng

Best Mudslinger

1. Ray Nagin — Who says the former mayor is unpopular? Apparently some of our readers have tuned in to his rantings on WBOK radio ... or perhaps they voted for his-former-honor because he's their favorite target of mudslinging. Whatever the reason, we're glad Nagin is Nay-gone. The city is way better off with him in our political rear-view mirror.

2. U.S. Sen. David Vitter

3. John Georges

Best Local Scandal

1. David Vitter — This one was a slam-dunk. From his trysts with prostitutes to his failure to fire a staffer convicted of domestic abuse (and putting the guy in charge of women's issues), our junior senator is a laughingstock across the country. At home, however, his right-wing grandstanding plays just fine. In fact, he's a favorite to win re-election. The good news, if you can call it that, is that we'll have David Vitter to kick around for another six years.

2. BP & the Gulf oil disaster

3. Ray Nagin (everything)

Best Problem for Mayor Mitch Landrieu to Solve

1. Crime — Need we say more? The good news here is that Landrieu and new Police Chief Ronal Serpas get the message, and they've even invited the feds to come in and help clean house. It will take a while to fix what's wrong at NOPD, but at least someone has started.

2. Corruption

3. City budget/contracts

Best Politician You Love to Hate

1. Ray Nagin — Even after he's gone, he's never far from our readers' minds. Maybe it's because each new week seems to bring news of yet another blunder or contractual disaster by the former mayor.

2. U.S. Sen. David Vitter

3. District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro




Best Grammar School

1. Lusher Charter School (7315 Willow St., 862-5110; www.lusherschool.org) — The Uptown charter school provides an education befitting New Orleans students, with a focus on the arts. The Comprehensive Arts Education program infuses arts into the school's broader curriculum, and it has several performance groups and arts-themed extracurricular activities, as well as programs like its after-school arts program. Lusher also offers an active, involved parent community and serves a diverse student population.

2. Holy Name of Jesus School (6325 Cromwell Place, 861-1466; www.hnjschool.org)

3. Isidore Newman (1903 Jefferson Ave., 899-5641; www.newmanschool.org)

The Joint: Best Restaurant for Barbecue - PHOTO BY GARY LOVERDE

Best High School

1. Academy of the Sacred Heart (4521 St. Charles Ave., 891-1943; www.ashrosary.org) — This Uptown school boasts more than just a gorgeous St. Charles Avenue campus. The all-girls Catholic high school provides a rigorous college preparatory curriculum and, with small class sizes (the teacher-student ratio averages 1-to-9), an intimate, tight-knit learning environment. And graduates are making their mark in New Orleans and beyond: Beloved jewelry designer Mignon Faget and former White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers count themselves as alumnae.

2. Ben Franklin Charter High School (2001 Leon C. Simon Drive, 286-2600; www.benfranklinhighschool.org)

3. Jesuit High School (4133 Banks St., 486-6631; www.jesuitnola.org)

Best Saints Player

1. Drew Brees — Drew Brees may be a Saint, but for New Orleanians, he's a deity. This is the quarterback's fourth year in a row taking top honors, but this year holds special significance. He's become synonymous with the Saints and thus, the Saints' incredible Super Bowl victory. No matter how the Saints fare this season, Brees will have the special distinction as the quarterback behind the team's first Lombardi trophy.

2. Jeremy Shockey


3. Darren Sharper

3. Marques Colston

Best Hornets Player

1. Chris Paul — Consecutive injuries may have kept him sidelined for a lot of games, but that didn't stop New Orleanians from voting the 25-year-old point guard to the top once again. CP3's status as a three-time NBA All-Star and player on the gold medal-winning Team USA in the 2008 Beijing Olympics makes him stand out among his teammates. Let's hope the rest of the Hornets can rise to his level this season.

2. David West

3. Marcus Thornton

Best Zephyrs Player

1. John Lindsey — Although Lindsey isn't with the Zephyrs any more — he moved on to play first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers Triple-AAA affiliate Albuquerque Isotopes this year — New Orleanians haven't forgotten him, picking him as their favorite two years in a row.

2. Hector Luna

3. Logan Morrison

Best Jesters Player

1. Steve Fabian — He recently signed with Pittsburgh Riverhounds, but New Orleanians remember Fabian as the impenetrable starting goalkeeper of the Jesters. The two-time Best of New Orleans winner contributed to the team's sterling 2009 regular season when he was just a rookie, boasting a record of 64 saves.

2. Reece Wilson

3. Andre Boudreaux

Best Local Novelist

1. Anne Rice — Way before there was Edward Cullen, there was Lestat. And decades after Interview With the Vampire and the ensuing volumes of the Vampire Chronicles, Anne Rice remains the queen of the vampire genre. She may be more famous for her on-again, off-again relationship with Christianity these days (the two are currently broken up), and she's left the Garden District for California, but Rice's books still capture the city's gothic sensibilities — and they beat Twilight any day.

2. Chris Rose

3. Poppy Z. Brite

Best Local Artist

1. George Rodrigue — If New Orleans were a theme park, George Rodrigue's blue dog would be its Mickey Mouse. While the iconic dog may be Rodrigue's most ubiquitous creation, the artist is also known for his bright oil and acrylic paintings depicting Cajun landscapes. He also uses his art to raise money for good causes, and his blue dog sculpture on Veterans Highway manages to add some culture to a row of shopping malls and big-box stores.

2. James Michalopoulos

3. Campbell Hutchison

Best Art Gallery

1. Cole Pratt Gallery (3800 Magazine St., 891-6789; www.coleprattgallery.com) — The late Cole Pratt focused on contemporary Southern artists in establishing his namesake gallery Uptown. It represents artists including neo-impressionists Phil Sandusky and Gustav Blnache, painter Paul Tarver, sculptor Sylvaine Sancton, printmaker Barbara Brainard, glass artist Carlos Zervigon and many others.

2. Arthur Roger Gallery (432 Julia St., 522-1999; www.arthurrogergallery.com)

3. Rodrigue Studio (730 Royal St., 581-4244; www.georgerodrigue.com)

Best Museum

1. New Orleans Museum of Art (1 Collin Diboll Circle, 658-4100; www.noma.org) — NOMA added a new meaning to "artist in residence" this past spring when Quintron transplanted his home studio to the museum and later camped out in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden to work on his album. This, and Miranda Lash's clever contemporary art curating, has ushered in a new, younger-trending era for NOMA, in which groups like Jean-Eric gyrate amid Faberge eggs and old-guard arts patrons.

2. National World War II Museum (945 Magazine St., 528-1944; www.ddaymuseum.org)

3. Ogden Museum of Southern Art (925 Camp St., 539-9600; www.ogdenmuseum.org)

Best Art Market

1. Arts Council of New Orleans Arts Market (Palmer Park, corner of Claiborne and Carrollton avenues; www.artscouncilofneworleans.org) — The normally sleepy Palmer Park explodes on the last Saturday of the month for the Arts Market. Locals love it because you can find just about everything: there's homemade soap, original art and crafts in a variety of mediums, jewelry and some of the best fish tacos in the city. The market is also dog-friendly, and live music provides the soundtrack for one of the city's best free weekend activities.

2. Bywater Arts Market (Markey Park, corner of Piety and Royal streets, www.artscouncilofneworleans.org/index.php?topic=artsmarket)

3. Freret Market (Intersection of Freret Street and Napoleon Avenue; www.freretmarket.org)

Best Place to Live Downtown

1. Civic Lofts & Penthouses (547 Baronne St., 522-2250; www.civiclofts.com) — Combining New Orleans' Old World charm with the urbane sleekness of the Warehouse District, the Civic Lofts occupy a space forged from a 100-year-old warehouse. Exposed brick and pipes are balanced by the warmth of wood floors. Residents love the building's amenities — which include a pool and roof deck — as well as the neighborhood, which boasts top bars and restaurants.

2. One River Place (3 Poydras St., 523-1300; www.oneriverplace.com)

3. Cotton Mill Condos (920 Poeyfarre St., 566-9700; www.cottonmillcondo.com)

Best Food Festival

1. New Orleans Po-boy Preservation Festival (Oak Street; www.poboyfest.com) — Oak Street gets as clogged as your arteries might after a Mahony's fried chicken liver po-boy, but that doesn't stop locals from sampling the city's best indigenous sandwiches at the Po-boy Preservation Festival. The fest bestows winners in categories such as Best in Show, Best Roast Beef Po-Boy and People's Choice. Judging from the crowds, however, it seems like they're all winners.

2. Louisiana Seafood Festival (French Quarter; www.louisianaseafood.com)

3. Creole Tomato Festival (French Market; www.frenchmarket.org)

Best Festival Outside of New Orleans

1. Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival (www.lastrawberryfestival.com) — Ponchatoula shows off its prized crop in a big way every April. You'll find strawberries in just about every form at the annual festival: covered in chocolate, deep fried, in beignets (in case the fried strawberries weren't enough), pureed for daiquiris, and canned for pepper jelly and jams. And there's plenty of small-town fun to be had with carnival rides, crafts for sale, two-headed snakes on display and the crowning of the Strawberry Queen.

2. Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette (www.festivalinternational.com)

3. Gretna Heritage Festival (www.gretnafest.com)

Best Place for a Kid's Birthday Party

1. Louisiana Children's Museum (420 Julia St., 523-1357; www.lcm.org) — Ask anyone who grew up in New Orleans: The smell of soap conjures memories of being inside a giant bubble at the Louisiana Children's Museum. Today's kids still have a blast at the Julia Street spot, and the various party packages offered make it a great venue for a birthday. But good luck trying to get your youngsters out the door in the end.

2. Storyland at City Park (City Park, 1 Palm Drive, 482-4888; www.neworleanscitypark.com/carousel_gardens.com)

3. Monkey Room (1501 Religious St., 301-2695; www.monkeyroom.net)

Best Local 5k/10k Race

1. Crescent City Classic (www.ccck10.com) — If you're up for the challenge, the Crescent City Classic is the best occasion — that isn't a parade — to spend the day in the streets. Readers raced to the polls to vote for the 10-kilometer race once again, which happens during Easter weekend and, because it's New Orleans, finishes with a post-race celebration with food and music. Just start training again shortly after, to make up for the partying.

2. Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure (www.komenneworleans.com)

3. Red Dress Run (www.nolareddress.tumblr.com)

Lee Zurik: Best Local TV Reporter Who's Ready to Go National - Best Investigative Reporter - Zurik (center) is shown here with (l-r) Fletcher Mackel and Travers Mackel
  • Lee Zurik: Best Local TV Reporter Who's Ready to Go National

    Best Investigative Reporter

    Zurik (center) is shown here with (l-r) Fletcher Mackel and Travers Mackel

Best Golf Course

1. Audubon Golf Course (Audubon Park Clubhouse, 6500 Magazine St., 212-5282; www.auduboninstitute.org) — Readers voted again for the Audubon Golf Course, which is favored for its luscious landscaping that provides a glimpse of the facades of Loyola and Tulane universities between live oaks. There's also picturesque lagoons and clubhouse dining, and the course plays host to a number of tournaments.

2. Timberlane Golf & Country Club (1 Timberlane Drive, 367-5010; www.timberlanecc.com)

3. City Park (1 Palm Drive, 482-4888 www.neworleanscitypark.com/golf)

Best Tennis Courts

1. City Park (1 Palm Drive, 483-9383; www.neworleanscitypark.com/tennis) — City Park's tennis courts aren't only tops among readers, who voted for the facilities once again, the courts consistently rank high regionally and nationally. The courts at City Park host many tournaments and programs for adults and children, and are open to the public every day of the week.

2. Audubon Park Tennis Courts (6320 Tchoupitoulas St., 895-1042; www.auduboninstitute.org/visit/parks/tennis)

3. New Orleans Lawn Tennis Club (5353 Laurel St., 899-1574)

Best Place to Work Locally

1. Tulane University (6823 St. Charles Ave., 865-5000; www.tulane.edu) — Tulane is the largest employer in New Orleans, and readers consistently think it's the best. It's easy to see why. Employees at the Uptown university campus and the medical facilities downtown enjoy competitive salaries and benefits packages, as well as a well-known perk: free tuition at the topnotch institution.

2. Ochsner Health Systems (1514 Jefferson Hwy., 842-4083; www.ochsner.org)

3. Spa Reyna (5221 Magazine St., 899-4171)

Best Carnival Day Parade

1. Rex — Rex simply won't be dethroned; readers picked it once again as their favorite parade during sunlight hours. This year's theme, "Fables of Fire and Flame," was particularly suited to the parade known for its glistening floats. And yearly fixtures like "Beouf Gras" and the toast at Gallier Hall prove that, like many things in New Orleans, some traditions never get old.

2. Zulu

3. Thoth

Best Carnival Night Parade

1. Muses — As its name indicates, this parade is truly inspired. The all-female krewe never disappoints with its cheeky themes and floats, imaginative costumes and quality throws. The parade always attracts an excellent lineup of marching groups, from the sassy Camel Toe Lady Steppers to the formidable St. Augustine High School marching band. It's these qualities that make Muses a "shoe-in" for favorite year after year.

2. Bacchus

3. Endymion

Best Bike Path

1. City Park — Since New Orleans streets (and often, New Orleans drivers) don't always allow for that 3 feet of space bikers are supposed to get, riding down a bike path provides a leisurely, safe trip with plenty of road to hug. Readers picked the 5-mile bike path that runs alongside the park to Lake Ponchartrain as their favorite spot for a ride.

2. Mississippi River levee (East Bank)

3. Audubon Park

Best Local Charity Event

1. Zoo-To-Do (www.www.auduboninstitute.org/ztd) — There's plenty of charity events beckoning the seersucker set with silent auctions and hors d'oeuvres, but Zoo-To-Do should top every philanthropist's list. The event that funds Audubon Zoo attractions features the usual gala fixtures, plus a luxury car raffle, live music and — most importantly — the opportunity to party on the zoo grounds.

2. A Child's Wish (www.achildswish.org)

3. American Cancer Society Hope Gala (www.main.acsevents.org)

Best Nonprofit

1. Preservation Resource Center (923 Tchoupitoulas St., 581-7032; www.prcno.org) — New Orleans' historic homes and neighborhoods are part of what make New Orleans what it is. And although the city continues to change, the Preservation Resource Center contributes to New Orleans' rebuilding while honoring its architectural history. The group offers educational programming and resources for homeowners, prospective homeowners and low-income families interested in historic housing.

2. Bridge House (1160 Camp St., 522-2124; www.bridgehouse.org)

3. American Cancer Society's Patrick F. Taylor Hope Lodge (2609 River Road, 219-2200; www.cancer.org)

Best Place for Continuing Education

1. Tulane University College (6823 St. Charles Ave., 125 Gibson Hall, 865-5555; www.tulane.edu/~uc) — Tulane's continuing studies programs prove it's never too late to go back to school. With campuses Uptown, in Harahan and even in Mississippi, Tulane makes it convenient for busy professionals to earn pre- and post-baccalaureate certificates, associate and bachelors degrees, and master's degrees in liberal arts and professional studies. The school has an open admissions policy, requiring only a high school diploma or GED, and it offers flexible schedules and competitive tuition rates.

2. The University of New Orleans (2000 Lakeshore Drive, 280-6000; www.uno.edu)

3. Delgado Community College (615 City Park Ave., 671-5012; www.dcc.edu)

Best Community Role Model

1. Drew Brees — What can't this man do? Not only has he achieved demigod status for his hand (or arm) in the Saints' Super Bowl Victory, he's The New York Times best-selling author of Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity, lends aid to local causes through his Brees Dream Foundation and other charities — and he's a family man with a kid who looks awfully cute wearing giant earphones. Not only is Brees good at what he does, he's a good guy, too.

2. Mitch Landrieu

3. April Neujean, chef of Edible Schoolyard

Best Place for a Wedding Reception

1. Pavilion of the Two Sisters (City Park, Victory Drive, 488-2896; www.neworleanscitypark.com/pavilion) — Surrounded by the City Park's Botanical Gardens, readers think the Pavilion of the Two Sisters is the perfect spot for a wedding reception. The space offers prime views of the gardens through its arched, European-style windows, and there's even an option to rent the pavilion with the gardens to accommodate a large guest list. There's ample space for dancing, and the in-house catering services are topnotch. The Pavilion provides all aspects of a perfect wedding reception under one roof.

2. Audubon Tea Room (Audubon Zoo, 6500 Magazine St., 212-5301; www.auduboninstitute.org)

3. Pat O'Brien's (718 St. Peter St., 525-4823; www.patobriens.com)

Prytania Theatre: Best Movie Theater - PHOTO BY GARY LOVERDE

Best Cell Phone Drop-Out Spot

1. Causeway — You should probably just hang up the phone and drive, considering you're traveling at high speeds over a large body of water. Plus, it's now illegal to text while driving, so don't even tempt yourself. Readers say your phone won't work on the Causeway anyway. Be sure to make your calls before you cross the longest bridge in America, and use the drive from one shore to the other to ponder the ways you can spend the money you saved not getting a ticket for texting.

2. Crescent City Connection

3. I-10 by the Superdome

Best Pothole to Avoid

1. Calhoun Street (between Clara and Willow streets) — New Orleans is home to some gnarly potholes, but readers and many frustrated Loyola and Tulane students would attest that the most annoying, tire-killing of the bunch resides in this Uptown spot.

2. Lakeview

3. Earhart Boulevard at Carrollton Avenue




Best Radio Station

1. WWOZ — And it is ever thus: New Orleans loves its commercial-free, 24-hour homegrown music treasure, which is even more valuable as the rest of the radio dial sinks into cookie-cutter mediocrity. Passionate DJs with character and eclectic tastes are the backbone of 'OZ, and the station makes it easy to "be a New Orleanian wherever you are" with free online streaming and, this year, even a smartphone app.


3. WEZB (B-97)

Best Local Radio Show

1. The Think Tank with Garland Robinette (WWL) — For three hours every weekday, New Orleans' analog to Larry King mulls over whatever topic has caught his interest that day, usually with the help of some opinionated callers, an expert or two and the occasional politician. In a world of Limbaugh Lites, the reason people "climb into the Think Tank" with Garland is that his views aren't always predictable.

2. Talk Gumbo with John "Spud" McConnell (WWL)

3. The Food Show with Tom Fitzmorris (WWL)

Best Local Radio Talk Show Host

1. Garland Robinette — New Orleanians love the familiar, and Garland's 30-plus-year tenure in local media — first as a top anchorman, now as the top radio host — make his an instantly recognizable voice. But we think you secretly love "Gawland" the most when he goes off on someone or something, be it BP's response to the oil catastrophe or his volcanic tirade against former NOPD chief Warren Riley.

2. John "Spud" McConnell

3. Tom Fitzmorris

Best Local Publication

1. Gambit (www.bestofneworleans.com) — Well, thank you very much. We're blushing.

2. The Times-Picayune (www.nola.com)

3. The New Orleans Levee (www.nolevee.com)

Best Local Columnist

1. Chris Rose — Of all the editorial changes we've made since last year's Best of New Orleans, bringing on Chris Rose has gotten the biggest reaction. Funny, raunchy, self-deprecating and sometimes painfully honest, Rose is able to bust out in our pages with some of the topics (and some of the language) he's never been able to before. He's a great fit for Gambit, and we welcome him as part of the family.

2. Clancy DuBos (Gambit)

3. James Gill (The Times-Picayune)

Best Local TV Newscast

1. WWL — In other parts of the country, TV news is shallow and silly, flashy and facile. Not so in New Orleans, and WWL's serious and thoughtful approach to the news of the day sets the tone for the other newscasts in town. The station lost two of its heavy hitters, Lee Zurik and Bigad Shaban, to WVUE since last year's poll, but there are still plenty of folks in town who swear it isn't news until they see it on WWL.



Best Local Blog

1. Lorin Gaudin's Tasty Blog (www.loringaudin.com) — Writer, radio host, sometimes-TV personality — Lorin Gaudin has been covering the New Orleans food scene for years, and her shoot-from-the-hip style is perfect for the blog format: sassy, informed and opinionated. Whether she's reporting the latest chef movements, restaurant openings and closings, and farmers market finds, or stirring up a spat with other local foodies, Gaudin's blog (and Twitter feed) are always lively.

2. Nola.com (www.nola.com)

3. Blackened Out (www.blackenedout.com)

Best Local TV Anchor

1. Lucy Bustamante (WWL) — A New Orleans native and Cabrini High graduate, this is Lucy's first appearance as Gambit readers' favorite news anchor. She's been a familiar face on WWL-TV since 2004, reading the news and reporting on weeknights. Last year, when she went to New York to sit in for Kelly Ripa on Live With Regis & Kelly, the rest of the country got to see why you love Lucy.

2. Angela Hill (WWL)

3. Lee Zurik (WVUE Fox 8)

Vom Fass: Best New Retail Store - Best Place to Buy a Gift - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

Best Local TV Reporter Who's Ready to Go National

1. Lee Zurik (WVUE Fox 8) — The biggest behind-the-scenes drama in local TV news in 2009 was Lee Zurik's move from WWL to WVUE, which offered him a permanent spot on the anchor desk and gave him the space to continue investigative journalism. The good news in this category is that Zurik took the job because he wanted to stay in New Orleans, so he may be ready to leave — but he doesn't want to.

2. Lucy Bustamante (WWL)

3. Travers Mackel (WDSU)

Best Local TV Weathercaster

1. Margaret Orr (WDSU) — Last year's No. 2 in this category, Orr has been the chief meteorologist at WDSU since Dan Milham retired in early 2009. Again proving that New Orleanians prefer the familiar over the flashy, she's been at Channel 6 for 21 years — but she's not old-fashioned; she's on Twitter almost constantly, updating her forecasts, chatting with her viewers and answering their weather questions.

2. Bob Breck (WVUE Fox 8)

3. Carl Arredondo (WWL)

Best Local TV Sportscaster

1. Jim Henderson (WWL) — For years, Saints fans have tuned into the Black and Gold game this way: TV on and muted; radio on to Jim Henderson and Hokie Gajan. The dean of local sportscasters is professional, professorial, a true fan and the all-time best Saints play-by-play man. Who else would you want to have celebrated the Super Bowl with?

2. Fletcher Mackel (WDSU)

3. Juan Kincaid (WWL)

Best Investigative Reporter

1. Lee Zurik (WVUE Fox 8) — It's hard to imagine a local TV reporter who's had a bigger year than Lee Zurik. He received the Peabody Award for his role in reporting the NOAH housing scandal, as well as the Investigative Reporters and Editors Medal and the Edward R. Murrow Regional Award. This investigative pit bull's real secret? When he's not going after evildoers, he's anything but brash: He's a nice, soft-spoken guy.

2. Rachel Wulff (WDSU)

3. Travers Mackel (WDSU)

Best Reason to Pick Up Gambit

1. Great local content and news — In a news climate that's getting ever more generic, Gambit continues to deliver one thing you can't get anywhere else: New Orleans-written news for a New Orleans audience, telling the stories of New Orleanians. We're proud of that — and proud of our relationship with our Gambiteers.

2. Restaurant reviews and food coverage

3. Entertainment listings, news and reviews




Best Men's Clothing Store

1. Perlis (1281 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite 6, Mandeville, 985-674-1711; 6070 Magazine St., 895-8661; www.perlis.com) — Forget Ralph Lauren's horse and mallet-wielding rider — discriminating New Orleanians prefer to flaunt Perlis' signature embroidered crawfish on their polo shirts. From quietly elegant (fleur de lis-spangled neckties) to exuberantly gaudy (green, gold and purple harlequin patterned golf pants), Perlis' garments showcase the best in regional pride.

2. Rubensteins (102 St. Charles Ave., 581-6666; www.rubensteinsneworleans.com)

3. Saks Fifth Avenue (301 Canal St., 524-2200; www.saksfifthavenue.com)

Best Women's Clothing Store

1. Saks Fifth Avenue (301 Canal St., 524-2200; www.saksfifthavenue.com) — Saks Fifth Avenue's fall 2010 ad campaign makes cheeky reference to its posh array of goods: "I'm going to Saks ... for everything I want and nothing I need." But then again, who doesn't need the occasional $400 pair of Chanel flip-flops or $1,400 mink clutch purse?

2. Macy's (The Esplanade, 1401 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner, 461-4800; Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 484-4600; www.macys.com)

3. Hemline (605 Metairie Road, Suite B, Metairie, 309-8778; 609 Chartres St., 592-0242; 3308 Magazine St., 269-4005; www.shophemline.com)

Best Children's Store

1. Pippen Lane (2929 Magazine St., 269-0106) — The words "cute" and "adorable" get deployed so frequently at Pippen Lane that the limitations of our language become glaringly obvious. But what other words are there to describe pastel bishop dresses, lion-shaped pacifiers and kid-sized furniture, other than "Brangelina approved"? (Maybe "cute" and "adorable" aren't so bad.)

2. Toys R Us (3609 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 455-9513; 4800 Lapalco Blvd., Marrero, 347-8426; www.toysrus.com)

3. Orient Expressed (3905 Magazine St., 899-3060; www.orientexpressed.com)

Best Shoe Store

1. Feet First (526 Royal St., 569-0005; 4119 Magazine St., 899-6800 ; www.feetfirststores.com) — Feet may be first, but necks, wrists, ears and other sites for unique jewelry, hats, T-shirts and handbags come a close second: Feet First boasts a selection of locally made and designer accessories that rivals its extensive footwear collection. For 33 years, this family business has kept New Orleans women fashionably en pointe.

2. Victoria's (328 Chartres St., 568-9990; Angelique Clothing, 7725 Maple St., 866-1092)

3. Shoe-Nami (1508 Edwards Ave., 818-2940; 3102 Magazine St., 895-1717; 3319 Severn Ave., 885-0805)

Best Store for Evening Wear

1. Yvonne LaFleur (8131 Hampson St., 866-9666; www.yvonnelafleur.com) — Step aside, J. Lo: Yvonne LaFleur is the original renaissance woman, creating a signature fragrance, designer clothing line and millinery, all of which are housed in her lavishly appointed, eponymous boutique, a New Orleans institution since the late '60s.

2. Saks Fifth Avenue (301 Canal St., 524-2200; www.saksfifthavenue.com)

3. Prima Donna's Closet (927 Royal St., 875-4437; 1206 St. Charles Ave., 522-3327; 3213 17th St., Metairie, 835-1120; www.primadonnascloset.com)

Best Place to Buy a Man's Suit

1. Perlis (1281 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite 6, Mandeville, 985-674-1711; 6070 Magazine St., 895-8661; www.perlis.com) — Since 1939, sharp-dressed men have turned to Perlis for suits, tuxedos, polos and jaunty bowties. As any gentleman knows, a suit must be tailored for the ideal fit, and Perlis provides free alterations for the life of any garment — which means your great-uncle's classic seersucker suits may be a tuck or two away from a revival.

2. Rubensteins (102 St. Charles Ave., 581-6666; www.rubensteinsneworleans.com)

3. JoS. A. Bank (230 Carondelet St., 528-9491; 3320 N. Causeway Blvd., Metairie, 620-2265; www.josbank.com)

Cure: Best Bar for Nonsmokers - Best Bar for Creative Cocktails - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

Best Store for Lingerie

1. Victoria's Secret (Oakwood Shopping Center, 197 Westbank Expwy., Gretna, 363-4262; The Esplanade, 1401 W. Esplanade Ave., 468-2045; Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-2720; www.victoriassecret.com) — Though Victoria's Secret has unleashed a tide of images and products that popular culture is perhaps better off without (g-string-clad angels, black diamond-encrusted "fantasy bras"), its ubiquity comes in handy when an urgent, last-minute need for lingerie presents itself. May we all stumble frequently upon such times.

2. Basics Underneath (5513 Magazine St., 894-1000)

3. House of Lounge (2044 Magazine St., 671-8300; www.houseoflounge.com)

Best Store for Sportswear

1. Academy Sports & Outdoors (Citywide; www.academy.com) — Whether you're out to shoot deer in the woods or hassle "tiger bait" while tailgating at LSU, Academy has you covered. With more than 100 stores in the southeastern United States, Academy's extensive collection of gear and clothing for sports, hunting, camping or boating aficionados has put in the No. 1 spot among Gambit readers.

2. Massey's (509 N. Carrollton Ave., 648-0292; 3363 Severn Ave., 885-1144; www.masseysoutfitters.com)

3. Sports Authority (4329 Veterans Memorial Blvd., 887-4700; Elmwood Shopping Center, 5151 Citrus Blvd., Suite C, Harahan, 734-7271; www.sportsauthority.com)

Best Store for Vintage Clothing

1. Funky Monkey (3127 Magazine St., 899-5587) — Ever sip an iced latte on Magazine Street and wonder where all the perfectly disheveled baristas and customers score their vintage threads? (Hint: it's an easy commute from the Rue.) Funky Monkey is an Uptown mecca for vintage clothes (or new clothes that just look retro), wigs, tutus, hoodies and more. Bring your own garments in for cash or trade — but be warned, this discriminating monkey accepts only the top bananas.

2. Buffalo Exchange (3312 Magazine St., 891-7443; www.buffaloexchange.com)

3. Prima Donna's Closet (927 Royal St., 875-4437; 1206 St. Charles Ave., 522-3327; 3213 17th St., Metairie, 835-1120; www.primadonnascloset.com)

Best Thrift Store

1. Red, White & Blue ( 5050 Lapalco Blvd., Marrero, 347-1512; 5728 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan, 733-8066;www.redwhiteandbluethiftstore.com) — It's crowded, it's hectic, and guys browsing the electronics aisle may leer when you furtively wiggle into an appealing skirt (there are no dressing rooms), but Red, White & Blue boasts hidden treasures for intrepid shoppers. Garments thoughtfully organized by color, 17,000 square feet and "aggressive" sales make this Vietnam Veterans of America partner a favorite of local costume designers, film wardrobe suppliers and frugal fashionistas.

2. Bloomin' Deals (4645 Freret St., 891-1289; www.jlno.org)

3. Goodwill (Citywide; www.goodwillno.org)

Best Consignment Shop

1. Prima Donna's Closet (927 Royal St., 875-4437; 1206 St. Charles Ave., 522-3327; 3213 17th St., Metairie, 835-1120; www.primadonnascloset.com) — The self-proclaimed divas at Prima Donna's Closet have swept this poll five years running. Distributing designer largess to a populace with caviar taste and a Fancy Feast budget, Prima Donna's Closet's three locations purvey Prada suits, Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses, Chloe wedge heels — many with the original tags still dangling. It's the closest some New Orleanians will get to a designer showroom.

2. Buffalo Exchange (3312 Magazine St., 891-7443; www.buffaloexchange.com)

3. Swap Boutique (7716 Maple St., 304-6025; www.swapboutique.com)

Best Tailor

1. Thimbelina (5501 Tchoupitoulas St., 895-5700) — With the advent of inexpensive, virtually disposable clothes mass-produced by corporate behemoths, good tailoring seemed for a time to have gone the way of the typewriter. Increasingly limited clothing budgets remind shoppers that a deft tailor can transform a garment with a single dart, or elevate a pair of pants from functional to flattering. If Thimbelina's turn-around time becomes a little slow, it's because the secret is out.

2. Mr. Santos Custom Tailor (1508 Veterans Memorial Blvd., 838-9567)

3. Thu's Tailor (529 Jefferson Ave., 891-6820)

Best Shopping Mall

1. Lakeside Shopping Center (3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 837-4280; www.lakesideshopping.com) — Retail therapy reaches its apex with the 120 shops, boutiques and eateries that line Lakeside Shopping Center's gleaming corridors. At once high-brow (Coach) and unpretentious (old-school fountains provide burbling ambience), the Lakeside Shopping Center has been a haven for mall rats since 1960.

2. The Shops at Canal Place (333 Canal St., 522-9200; www.theshopsatcanalplace.com)

3. The Esplanade (1401 W. Esplanade Ave., Suite 100, Kenner, 468-6116; www.shoptheesplanade.com)

Best Place to Buy Furniture

1. Hurwitz Mintz (1751 Airline Drive, Metairie, 378-1000; www.hurwitzmintz.com) — After being voted "Best Place to Buy Furniture" by Gambit readers for 10 consecutive years, it's a wonder New Orleanians would buy furniture anywhere other than Hurwitz-Mintz. The 115,000-square-foot showroom displays beautifully appointed model bedrooms, dining rooms, offices and dens, allowing customers to envision the interior decorating scheme of their dreams, or to make believe that they're already home.

2. Doerr Furniture (914 Elysian Fields Ave., 947-0606; www.doerrfurniture.com)

3. Rooms to Go (409 N. Hwy. 190, Covington, 809-3993; 5800 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 779-2688; Westside Outlet: 62 Westbank Expy., Gretna, 367-4100; www.roomstogo.com)

Best Place to Buy Lamps/Lighting

1. Lighting Inc. (8180 Earhart Blvd., Suite B-E, 486-5761; www.lightinginconline.com) — A true artist is measured by the extent to which he or she understands light. By the same token, use of light makes or breaks a home decorating venture. Lighting Inc.'s two lighting showrooms and extensive product catalog attest to the power of a well-placed sconce, and employees of the third-generation family business can assist with lighting plans.

2. Home Depot (Citywide; www.homedepot.com)

3. Bevolo (521 Conti St. and 318 Royal St., 522-9485; 68467 Hwy. 59, Mandeville, 985-249-6040; www.bevolo.com)

Best Antiques Store

1. Bush Antiques (2109 Magazine St., 581-3518; www.bushantiques.com) — Described by Southern Accents as "slightly quirky" and lauded "the best bargain in town" by Vogue, Bush Antiques' nooks and crannies cradle everything from brass tester beds to silk Oddfellows robes. Rita and Jack, resident cat and dog, hold down the 12-room shop.

2. M.S. Rau (630 Royal St., 523-5660; www.rauantiques.com)

3. Ida Manheim Antiques (409 Royal St., 620-4114; www.idamanheim.com)

Yvonne LaFleur: Best Store for Evening Wear - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

Best Place to Buy a Gift

1. Vom Fass (5725 Magazine St., 302-1455; www.vomfassusa.com) — Many times in life, we are obliged to purchase gifts for people we don't know, people we don't like, or people who really don't need anything. Vom Fass rises to this vexing occasion with aplomb, selling exotic oils, wines, spirits and liquors in bulk, along with elegant little glass vessels. After all, there is a pistachio oil-shaped hole inside everyone.

2. Orient Expressed (3905 Magazine St., 899-3060; www.orientexpressed.com)

3. Hazelnut (5515 Magazine St., 891-2424; www.hazelnutneworleans.com)

Best Bridal Shop

1. Pearl's Place (3114 Severn Ave., 885-9213; www.pearlsplace.com) — Pearl's Place is the go-to spot for brides, as well as any woman who finds herself positioned on the bridal spectrum (flower girl, bridesmaid, bride, mother of the bride). Frequent trunk shows, free alterations and dress steaming, and a vast selection of designer gowns have helped this 40-year-old bridal salon outlive many of the marriages it has outfitted.

2. Town & Country (1514 St. Charles Ave., 523-7027; www.townandcountrybridal.com)

3. Wedding Belles (3642 Magazine St., 891-1005; www.weddingbellesneworleans.com)

Best Maternity Shop

1. A Pea in the Pod (3300 N. Causeway Blvd., Metairie, 831-9551; www.apeainthepod.com)— Empire waists, voluminous blouses, maxi dresses — so many fashion trends look like maternity wear that even women without buns in the oven may be tempted to patronize this boutique. Denim by brands like Seven for All Mankind and Lucky means that nothing — not even a pregnancy — comes between you and your designer jeans.

2. Baby Bump (3331 Severn Ave., Suite 102, Metairie, 342-2347; www.nolababybump.com)

3. Destination Maternity (3300 N. Causeway Blvd., Metairie, 834-1960; www.destinationmaternity.com)

Best Jewelry Store

1. Adler's (722 Canal St., 523-5292, Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 523.5292; www.adlersjewelry.com) — Renowned for its wedding rings, Adler's also offers baby gifts, wedding gifts, flatware and home accessories, catering to customers at almost any juncture of their lives. In business for 112 years, the institution has seen more than a few life changes — and cultural shifts — during its history in the city.

2. Mignon Faget (The Shops at Canal Place, 333 Canal St., 524.2973; Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 835.2244; 3801 Magazine St., 891.2005; www.mignonfaget.com)

3. Aucoin Hart (1525 Metairie Road, Metairie, 834-9999; www.aucoinhart.com)

Best Local Jewelry Designer

1. Mignon Faget (The Shops at Canal Place, 333 Canal St., 524.2973; Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 835.2244; 3801 Magazine St., 891.2005; www.mignonfaget.com) — Jewelry designer and fifth-generation New Orleanian Mignon Faget has a knack for gracefully rendering Louisiana icons (sno-balls, Creole cottages, pelicans) in precious metal. The ongoing fleur de lis craze springs partially from her popular 2005 "Rebirth Pin," one of many designs created as a fundraising effort and ended up resonating powerfully with local and national customers.

2. Gogo Borgerding (4222A Magazine St., 304-8458; www.ilovegogojewelry.com)

3. Tom Mathis at Symmetry (138 Hampson St., 861-9925; www.symmetry-jewelers.com)

Best Smoke Shop

1. Herb Import Company (711 St. Peter St., 525-HERB; 1331 Englewood Drive, Slidell, 985-643-8007; 5055 Canal St., 488-4889; www.herbimport.com) — Puff, puff, but don't pass this purveyor of pipes, detox products, herbal supplements and massage oils. A two-alarm fire at the Canal Street location last January left the alternative smoke shop burned but nowhere near cashed, as its four locations and website continue to supply local and international customers with their preferred smoking accoutrements.

2. Dos Jefes Uptown Cigar Bar (5535 Tchoupitoulas St., 891-8500; www.dosjefescigarbar.com)

3. Mayan Import Company (3009 Magazine St., 269-9000; www.mayanimport.com)

Best Sweet Shop

1. Sucre (3025 Magazine St., 520-8311; www.shopsucre.com) — Is it the store's pleasingly retro mint green color palette? The Lilliputian spoons provided alongside tiny cups of espresso? The dark chocolates lovingly inlaid with real gold leaf? Sucre's je ne sais quoi has launched it into the national spotlight: Features in publications from Maxim to The New York Times have made this artisanal sweet shop a favored provider for chocolate junkies near and far.

2. Blue Frog Chocolates (5707 Magazine St., 269-5707; www.bluefrogchocolates.com)

3. Angelo Brocato (214 N. Carrollton Ave., 486-0078; www.angelobrocatoicecream.com)

Best New Retail Store

1. Vom Fass (5725 Magazine St., 302-1455; www.vomfassusa.com) — The name is as fun to say (try it: Vom FAHSS) as the cold-pressed oils are aromatic at this German franchise, which features nut and olive oils, fruit vinegars, wines, liquors and other products "from the cask" (a literal translation of the store's name, as well as a description of its concept).

2. Branch Out (2022 Magazine St., 371-5913; www.branchoutshop.com)

3. Rye (714 Adams St., 872-9230; www.facebook.com/ryeclothing)

Best Dry Cleaner

1. One Cleaners (5038 W. Esplanade Ave,. 455-5705; www.onecleaners.com) — Dry cleaner to some of the star fashion purveyors of New Orleans — Louis Vuiton, Rubensteins, Saks Fifth Avenue's St. John's boutique, Jeff's Haberdashery — One Cleaners is one of only 18 dry cleaners worldwide to be selected as a member of the prestigious nonprofit Leading Cleaners Internationale and is a "Certified Couture Drycleaner." One can clean almost anything: furniture, linens, all types of clothing, leather and suede — and it can restore bridal gowns and preserve them after the wedding. They won't, however, wash your car or bathe your dog.

2. Liberto Cleaners (4814 Prytania St., 897-2161; 8128 Willow St., 861-7812)

3. Young's Cleaning and Restoration (905 Harrison Ave., 872-0931; 6227 S. Claiborne Ave., 866-5371; 5357 Franklin Ave., 288-8381)

Rocky & Carlo's Restaurant and Bar: Best St. Bernard Parish Restaurant - PHOTO BY INFROGMATION OF NEW ORLEANS

Best Place That Ain't Dere No Mo'

1. K&B — Oh for the good old days, when you could "go by the KB" for some creole cream cheese ice cream and K&B beer, be checked out on bright purple cash registers and carry home your goods in purple shopping bags. The color was so iconic it has been woven into New Orleans' fabric such that people today still describe the hue as "K&B Purple," although the 92-year-old locally owned regional chain was sold to Rite Aid in 1997.

2. McKenzie's

3. Uglesich's

Best Hospital

1. Ochsner Health Systems (1514 Jefferson Hwy., 842-4083; www.ochsner.org) — Ochsner must have followed all the rules of healthy living since its birth in 1942, because it has grown big and strong: It's now the largest private health care system in the region and covers all areas of medicine. Part of its popularity could be its accessibility, with eight hospitals and more than 35 health centers in southeast Louisiana. Its quality care has landed it on U.S. News & World Report's "Best Hospitals" list, and the National Research Corporation has given it a Consumer Choice for Healthcare award several years in a row.

2. Touro Infirmary (1401 Foucher St., 897-7011; www.touro.com)

3. East Jefferson General Hospital (3700 Houma Blvd., Metairie, 456-5000; www.ejgh.org)

Best Dermatologist

1. Dr. Patricia Farris (Old Metairie Dermatology, Old Metairie Village Shopping Center, 701 Metairie Road, Metairie, 836-2050; www.oldmetairiedermatology.com; www.drpattifarris.com) — We all love someone who can help us save face, and Dr. Farris specializes in rejuvenating aging skin — without surgery. She's an expert in cosmeceuticals and is a consultant for new products. She even appeared in a commercial with actress Jane Seymour for the Natural Advantage skin-care line.

2. Dr. Collier Ochsner (2323 Metairie Road, Metairie, 831-6633)

3. Dr. Mary Lupo (145 Robert E. Lee Blvd., 283-7982; www.drmarylupo.com)

Best Cosmetic Surgeon

1. Dr. Eileen Summer Black (Crescent City Cosmetic Surgery Center, 228 Houma Blvd., Suite 100, Metairie, 883-8900; www.crescentcitycosmeticsurgery.com) — There are some beautiful people in New Orleans and, according to Gambit readers, Dr. Black is partly responsible. She specializes in surgically resculpting problem areas, offering facelifts, liposuction, breast surgery, abdominoplasty and other procedures. Her No. 1 finish attests to her expertise.

2. Dr. Kamran Khoobehi (3901 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 273-7267; www.khoobehi.com)

3. Dr. Michael Moses (1603 Second St., 895-7200; www.drmoses.com

Best Chiropractor

1. Dr. Craig Ledet (Uptown Premier Rehabilitation, 8422 Oak St., 861-8000) — If you are in pain, you can't enjoy life to the fullest. Our readers choose Ledet as their favorite "human" pain reliever. The chiropractor realigns your spine to bring your body into balance and alleviate back, neck and shoulder pain, sciatica, headaches and discomfort from injuries.

2. Dr. Sylvia Beaumont (1138 S. Carrollton Ave., 864-1234)

3. Dr. Leroy Joseph Stagni (3227 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 443-2225; www.stagnichiropractic.com)

Best Acupuncturist

1. Jin Z. Wu (Acupuncture Herbal Center, 3399 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 780-0807; www.acupunctureherbalcenter.com) — A third-generation Chinese medical doctor who combines ancient techniques and modern technology, he has 35 years of experience in acupuncture treatments for pain and conditions including headaches, hormonal imbalances and more.

2. Amy Yeostros (1138 S. Carrollton Ave., 486-3161)

3. Harrison Cho (4213 Teuton St., Metairie, 454-9979)

Best Physical Therapist

1. John L. Moran (Southern Orthopedics, 2731 Napoleon Ave., 897-6351; 3800 Houma Blvd., Metairie, 897-6351; www.southern-ortho.com) — A certified strength and conditioning specialist, John Moran has a doctorate in physical therapy and completed specialized training in orthopedic manual therapy and sports rehabilitation. He also is trained in evaluating workplace ergonomics. In addition to his job at Southern Orthopedics, Moran is on the physical therapy staff at Children's Hospital.

2. Mo Crane (Crane Rehab Center, 101 River Road, Jefferson, 828-7696)

3. Beth Winkler-Schmit (Magnolia Physical Therapy, 839 Spain St., 943-8026; 5606 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan, 733-0279; www.magnoliatherapyla.com)

Best Health Club

1. Elmwood Fitness Center (1200 S. Clearview Pkwy., 733-1600; www.elmwoodfitness.com) — With four locations, plus gymnastics and Kidsports facilities, Elmwood Fitness aims to keep the entire family fit and healthy and has topped this category for a second year in a row. The club administers to more than building muscles, though. It also offers nutrition and spa services, and you can even get your hair coiffed at the John Jay Salon at the Harahan location.

2. New Orleans Athletic Club (222 N. Rampart St., 525-2375; www.neworleansathleticclub.com)

3. Jewish Community Center (3747 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 887-5158; 5342 St. Charles Ave., 897-0143; www.nojcc.org)

Best Personal Trainer

1. Mackie Shilstone (East Jefferson General Hospital Wellness Center, 3601 Houma Blvd., Suite 401, Metairie, 457-3100; www.ejgh.org or www.mackieshilstone.com) — You hear him on the radio talking about health and nutrition, he sells supplements and more at his GNC stores, and he's a trainer, health and lifestyle coach to professional athletes from football players to tennis great Serena Williams. He even helped favorite son John Goodman lose 100 pounds, and offers all kinds of general and specialized training for athletes and common joes alike.

2. Nolan Ferraro (Salire Fitness and Pilates Studio, 214 N. Jefferson Davis Pkwy., 821-4896; www.salirefitness.com)


3. Donny Duke (New Orleans Athletic Club, 222 N. Rampart St., 525-2375; www.neworleansatheticclub.com)

3. Heather Ryan (Ultimate Fitness, 4930 Prytania St., 891-1203; www.ultimate30.com)

Best Yoga Class

1. Wild Lotus Yoga (4842 Perrier St., 899-0047; www.wildlotusyoga.com) — For the eighth year in a row, Wild Lotus takes the top spot as the best place to take a yoga class. It makes sense, because the studio offers more than 50 classes a week, which Wild Lotus says is the most extensive offering of classes in the Gulf South. The studio also caters to the mind-spirit connection with holistic workshops, concerts and more.

2. Life Yoga Studio (5422 Magazine St., 267-0380; www.lifenola.com)

3. NOLA House of Yoga (4712 Magazine St., 298-9893; www.neworleanshouseofyoga.com)

Best Pilates Class

1. Uncle Joe's Pilates Studio (8211 Hampson St., 895-5008; www.unclejoespilates.com) — Uncle Joe's — the nickname given to Joseph Pilates, originator of the workout regimen — offers classes for people of all fitness levels, and they have come in droves, boosting this Hampson Street studio up two places from last year to claim the top spot as Pilates king. Perhaps it's because it's more than just an exercise studio, Uncle Joe's also helps increase your productivity, elminate stress and enjoy life more.

2. Romney Pilates Center (3701 Magazine St., 895-1167; www.romneypilates.com)

3. Salire Fitness & Pilates (214 N. Jefferson Davis Pkwy., 821-4896; www.salirefitness.com)

Best Dance Class

1. Jazzercise (Citywide; www.jazzercise.com) — The secret to this dance workout is that you feel like you're getting your groove on while going through a full-body workout that includes cardio and strength training as well as stretching. The programs keep expanding, now encompassing hip-hop music, which may be the reason it rose to first place this year.

2. New Orleans Dance Academy (5956 Magazine St., 899-3780; www.neworleansdanceacademy.com)

3. Elmwood Fitness Center (1200 S. Clearview Pkwy., 733-1600; www.elmwoodfitness.com)

Best Barbershop

1. Aidan Gill for Men (550 Fulton St., 566-4903; 2026 Magazine St., 587-9090; www.aidangillformen.com) — Where else can you enjoy a cold beer or a tumbler of bourbon while you get a shave (with seven hot towels to relax you and your facial hair) and a haircut in a shop designed just for men? The perennial favorite in this category also rises to the top for the shop's offerings of fashion accoutrements, skin- and hair-care products and gadgets that delight the boy in every man.

2. Magazine Street Barbershop (4224 Magazine St., 267-7823; www.magazinestbarbershop.com)

3. Golden Shears (6008 Magazine St., 895-9269)

Best Manicure/Pedicure

1. Earthsavers (Lakeside Shopping Center Annex, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., 835-0225; The Premier Center, 3414 Hwy. 190, Mandeville, 985-674-1133; 5501 Magazine St., 899-8555; www.earthsaversonline.com) — You don't just have your nails painted at Earthsavers, you get hand and foot therapy that includes cuticle treatment, reflexology, a leg massage (with some pedicures) and, of course, a beautiful coating of nail polish. The locally owned spa hopped up a spot this year to claim the top prize.

2. Spa Reyna (5221 Magazine St., 899-4171)

3. Belladonna Day Spa (2900 Magazine St., 891-4393; www.belladonnadayspa.com)

Best Hair Salon

1. Paris Parker (Citywide; www.parisparker.com) — This salon's mantra is "Be your best self, live your best life," and it helps its customers attain this goal at its Aveda concept salons. Paris Parker doesn't just cut hair, it designs hair styles and attends to overall hair and scalp health with special Aveda Purescriptions treatments. The salon also offers nail services, makeup applicaton and more.

2. H2O Salon and Spa (441 Metairie Road, Metairie, 835-4377; 3908 Hwy. 22, Mandeville, 985-951-8166; www.h2osalon-spa.com)

3. Guru Hair Studio (7915 Maple St., 861-7771)

Best Day Spa

1. Belladonna Day Spa (2900 Magazine St., 891-4393; www.belladonnadayspa.com) — Belladonna has won this title so many times we've considered retiring the category, but Gambit readers prove it's still the No. 1 place to go for an extensive menu of therapeutic services, including detoxifying body rituals, aromatherapy, massage, skin-care treatments and a full sales floor of lifestyle products, home accessories, jewelry and dog supplies to make your life richer.

2. Earthsavers (Lakeside Shopping Center Annex, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., 835-0225; The Premier Center, 3414 Hwy. 190, Mandeville, 985-674-1133; 5501 Magazine St., 899-8555; www.earthsaversonline.com)

3. H2O Salon and Spa (441 Metairie Road, Metairie, 835-4377; 3908 Hwy. 22, Mandeville, 985-951-8166; www.h2osalon-spa.com)

Best Place to Get a Massage

1. Belladonna Day Spa (2900 Magazine St., 891-4393; www.belladonnadayspa.com) — Just think of a massage from Belladonna and your muscles start to relax and you want to lay down on a table and let an expert make alll your troubles melt away. Belladonna has plenty of options for that, including full-body and deep-tissue massages, pregnancy massages, warm stone massages and more. Plus, you can prolong the relaxation in a bath, jacuzzi or sauna.

2. Earthsavers (Lakeside Shopping Center Annex, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., 835-0225; The Premier Center, 3414 Hwy. 190, Mandeville, 985-674-1133; 5501 Magazine St., 899-8555; www.earthsaversonline.com)

3. H2O Salon and Spa (441 Metairie Road, Metairie, 835-4377; 3908 Hwy. 22, Mandeville, 985-951-8166; www.h2osalon-spa.com)

Best Tanning Salon

1. Planet Beach (Citywide; www.planetbeach.com) — Laying in the sun and sweating is the old-school way of getting a tan and one that isn't very appealing during the dog days of summer in New Orleans. Planet Beach, however, gives you a comfortable, quick way to get a golden glow without all the heat exposure, and Gambit readers for another year say it's the best indoor tanning salon around. There are lots of locations, so there is no excuse for looking like a snow bunny in New Orleans.

2. Solaris Tanning (7605 Maple St., 866-4826; www.tansolaris.com)

3. Maison du Soleil Tanning Spa and Boutique (6250 Gen. Diaz St., 304-0633; www.maisondusoleil.biz)

Best Body Piercing/Tattoo Parlor

1. Electric Ladyland (610 Frenchmen St., 947-8286; www.electricladyland.net) — If you want to adorn yourself with the enduring art of tattoos, it pays to get the best artists around to do the inking. Electric Ladyland is the place to go, according to our readers. The tattoo parlor has been applying ink to New Orleanians since 1991, and has topped this category many times.

2. Eyecandy Tattoo (1578 Magazine St., 299-8222; www.eyecandytattoo.com)

3. Uptown Tattoos (575 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-3859; www.uptowntattoos.net)

Best Place to Buy Local Music

1. Louisiana Music Factory (210 Decatur St., 586-1094; www.louisianamusicfactory.com) — National record retailers have gone the way of widgets in New Orleans, but this local favorite thrives because of its extensive selections of local music pressings, cultural artifacts, out-of-print records and in-store music performances.

2. Mushroom New Orleans (1037 Broadway St., 861-4088; www.mushroomnola.com)

3. Peaches Records (408 N. Peters St., 282-3322: www.peachesrecordsneworleans.com)

Best Bookstore

1. Barnes & Noble (1601B Westbank Expwy., Harvey, 263-1146; Premier Center II, 3414 Hwy. 190, Suite 10, Mandeville, 985-626-8884; 3721 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 455-4929; www.barnesandnoble.com) New Orleans is a local-centric town, but when it comes to bookstores, the national chain takes the top spot again this year. It has voluminous offerings of books, magazines, movies and music. It also gets big points for comfort, providing cozy chairs where you can sit and read a favorite tome over a cup of coffee.

2. Octavia Books (513 Octavia St., 899-7323; www.octaviabooks.com)

3. Borders (3131 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 835-1363; 3338 St. Charles Ave., 899-1501; www.borders.com)

Best Car Dealership

1. Peake BMW (2630 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Kenner, 469-6165; www.peakebmw.com) — Who hasn't envisioned themselves in the driver's seat of a beautiful Beemer at some point in their lives? Local drivers who have made that dream a reality say Peake BMW in Kenner is the place to go for the best BMW selection, whether you're buying new or used. The dealership is full-service, so it can take care of your automobile for as long as you own it.

2. Lakeside Toyota (3701 N. Causeway Blvd., Metairie, 833-3311 ; www.lakesidetoyota.com)

3. Bergeron Motors (3525 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 293-5283; www.bergeronauto.com)

Rouses: Best Supermarket - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

Best Bank

1. Capital One (Citywide; www.capitalone.com) — With more locations than you have bucks in the bank, Capital One has made its mark on the New Orleans landscape. You don't have to be a marauding Viking to take advantage of the bank's services, which include checking and savings accounts, credit cards, car and home loans and commercial banking. So, what's in your wallet?

2. Whitney (Citywide; www.whitneybank.com)

3. Chase (Citywide; www.chase.com)

Best Home Electronics Store

1. Best Buy (Citywide; www.bestbuy.com) — Price, selection and one-stop shopping for electronics, computer, entertainment and appliances has made readers vote Best Buy No. 1 electronic store for another year. The electronics superstore is nirvana for chic geeks — or anyone else who wants a good deal on a new toy.

2. Alterman Audio (3213 17th St., Metairie, 834-5400; www.altermanaudio.com

3. Radio Shack (Citywide; www.radioshack.com)

Best Bedding Store

1. Bed, Bath & Beyond (901 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey, 366-1394; 4401 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 454-6930; www.bedbathandbeyond.com) — If the Bionic Woman (Lindsay Wagner) tells you your bed is the most important thing in your house, then you better believe it. If it's that important to your happiness and well-being you should dress it right, and readers say Bed, Bath & Beyond is the place to do it. It's big, its got all the patterns and colors you could dream of for your boudoir and bath — and it's got lots of stuff for the rest of your house as well.

2. Bedding Plus (Citywide; www.beddingplusmattress.com)

3. Hurwitz Mintz (1751 Airline Drive, Metairie, 378-1000; www.hurwitzmintz.com)

Best Local Camera Shop

1. Lakeside Camera Photoworks (3508 21st St., Metairie, 885-8660; www.lakesidecamera.com) — If it has to do with preserving memories or recording new ones, Lakeside Camera Photoworks does it. We're not sure whether readers voted Lakeside No. 1 for it's photofinishing, which won the shop a 2009 Photofinisher of the Year award from Photo Industry Reporter, its selection of cameras and photo equipment, photo restoration services, design services, framing or its showroom of books, calendars and gifts. Perhaps it's all of the above.

2. Bennett's Camera (3230 Severn Ave., Metarie, 885-9050; www.bennettscamera.com)

3. Moldaner's Camera and Imaging (7808 Maple St., 866-6757; www.moldaners.com)

Best Bicycle Store

1. GNO Cyclery (1426 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-0023; www.gnocyclery.com) — Casual riders, racers, triathletes and others in between pedal to GNO Cyclery for new bikes, riding accessories and expert advice. The shop not only will sell you a bike, but its "Fit Kit" measuring system ensures the bike contours to your body so you get the smoothest ride possible.

2. Bayou Bicycles (3530 Toulouse St., 488-1946; www.bayoubicycles.com)

3. Bicycle Michael's (622 Frenchmen St., 945-9505; www.bicyclemichaels.com)

Best Veterinary/Animal Clinic

1. Metairie Small Animal Hospital (101 Metairie Road, Metairie, 835-4266; outpatient clinics: 734 Robert E. Lee Blvd., 830-4080; Winn Dixie Marketplace, 4041 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 443-4400; 5040 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 455-2345; www.msah.com) — This full-service veterinary clinic and hospital has been going to the dogs (and cats and other pets) for more than 60 years and offers everything from grooming and boarding to cutting edge diagnostics and surgery. To make it more convenient, MSAH operates three outpatient neighborhood clinics in Lakeview, Metairie and Kenner.

2. Crescent City Veterinary Hospital (524 Jefferson Ave., 894-0752; www.crescentcityvet.com)

3. Prytania Veterinary Hospital (4907 Prytania St., 899-2828; www.prytaniavet.com)

Best Place to Board Your Pet

1. Zeus' Place ( 4601 Freret St., 304-4718; www.zeusplace.com) — You don't want to leave your pets at home, but you can't always take them on vacation with you. Your dog may not mind, though, if you board him at Zeus' Place. The boarding facility even has suites where all your family pets can stay together, and pet owners can see for themselves how their pets are doing through a web cam. Happy dog owners have voted Zeus' doggie daycare tops in this category for the second year in a row.

2. Metairie Small Animal Hospital (101 Metairie Road, Metairie, 835-4266; outpatient clinics: 734 Robert E. Lee Blvd., 830-4080; Winn Dixie Marketplace, 4041 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 443-4400; 5040 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 455-2345; wwwmsah.com)


3. Canine Connection (4920 Tchoupitoulas St., 218-4098; www.canineconnectionnola.com)

3. Pet Care Center (2212 David Drive, Metairie, 887-2999; www.petcarecenterinc.com)

Ritz-Carlton New Orleans: Best Hotel - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

Best Place to Have Your Pet Groomed

1. Holly's Grooming & Pet Supply (5942 Magazine St., 897-6884; www.hollyspetgrooming.com) — You won't find a groomer named Holly on the staff — owner Jackie Roessle named the business after her first Old English Sheepdog, whose image is painted on the side of the building. But you will find well-groomed pets with trimmed nails, brushed coats and hairstyles befitting four-legged fashionistas. Holly's specializes in non-stressful grooming techniques.

2. Zeus' Place ( 4601 Freret St., 304-4718; www.zeusplace.com)

3. PetSmart (Citywide; www.petsmart.com)

Best Hotel

1. Ritz-Carlton New Orleans (921 Canal St., 524-1331; www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/NewOrleans/Default.htm — New Orleanians have enjoyed puttin' on the Ritz since the hotel rescued the beautiful beaux arts building that previously was Maison Blanche. The hotel certainly is ritzy, with plush guest rooms, a world-class spa, its M Bistro and a lounge that features crooner Jeremy Davenport on Thursdays and weekends.

2. The Roosevelt New Orleans (123 Baronne St., 648-1200; www.therooseveltneworleans.com)

3. W New Orleans (333 Poydras St., 525-9444; www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels)

Best Hardware Store

1. Harry's Ace Hardware (3535 Magazine St., 896-1510; www.harrysacehardware.com) — It's a neighborhood hardware store that could have been the model for Howard Cunningham's store on Happy Days; it also just happens to be a chain with outlets on Magazine Street, in Metairie and Algiers. When a New Orleanian mentions Harry's Ace, it's generally recognized as the Magazine Street store, which stocks more than 30,000 items for the home and yard.

2. Mary's True Value (908 Bourbon St., 525-6279)

3. Home Depot (Citywide; www.homedepot.com)

Best Oil Change

1. SpeeDee Oil Change & Tune-up (Citywide; www.speedeeoil.com) — It could be the name's promise of fast service, the cute red oil can with a funnel hat in the company logo or the plentiful locations. Most likely, however, SpeeDee is No. 1 because of its 17-point oil change service that includes not only taking care of your engine's needs, but also washing your windows and vacuuming your floorboards.

2. 5-Minute Oil Change (Citywide; www.5minuteoilchange.com)

3. Jiffy Lube (1336 Gause Blvd., Slidell, 985-649-3278; 7212 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 454-1192; www.jiffylube.com)

Best Cheap Gas

1. Sam's Club (Citywide; www.samsclub.com) — You have to be a member of the shopping club, but Gambit readers indicate Sam's Club has consistently competitive gas prices and four locations in the metro area. The service is no frills and DIY, but the prices will save you money.

2. Discount Zone (Citywide; www.discountzone.org)

3. Brothers (Citywide; www.brothersfoodmart.com)

Abita Amber: Best Local Beer
  • Abita Amber: Best Local Beer

Best Florist

1. Villere's Flowers (750 Martin Behrman Ave., Metairie, 833-3716; www.villeresflowers.com) — This locally owned florist has been soothing hurt feelings and racking up big points for thoughtful lovers since 1969. Whether you need to say "I'm sorry" with a dozen red roses or spread a little unexpected joy with a mixed bouquet, the expert arrangers at Villere's make sure you message is clear — and beautiful.

2. Harkins, the Florist (1601 Magazine St., 529-1638; www.harkinsneworleans.com)

3. Mitch's Flowers (4843 Magazine St., 899-4843; www.mitchsflowersuptown.com)

Best Garden Store

1. Perino's Garden Center (3100 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-7888; www.perinos.com) — This Metairie garden center got a green thumbs up from Gambit readers again this year, perhaps because its spacious facility has lots of room for displaying all kinds of flora — and all the fertilizer, potting soil and outdoor accoutrements you need or want. It also has a variety of nature-inspired gifts.

2. Harold's Indoor Outdoor Plants (1135 Press St., 947-7554)

3. The Plant Gallery (9401 Airline Hwy., 488-8887; www.theplantgallery.com)

Best Place to Buy Wine

1. Martin Wine Cellar (714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie, 896-7350; 3500 Magazine St., 899-7411; Village Shopping Center, 2895 Hwy. 190, Suite A-1, Mandeville, 985-951-8081; www.martinwine.com) — Oenophiles and those who occasionally like to sip a little vino both can find the wine they want (at prices they can afford) with the help of an expert staff that really known its vintages. That's a good thing, because the choices are vast, whether you're looking to fuel a party of experts or find a reasonably priced label for dinner. The Metairie location also stocks a range of wine accoutrements, gourmet cheeses and other foods.

2. Dorignac's (710 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-8216; www.dorignacs.com)

3. Rouses (Citywide; www.shop.rouses.com)

Best Liquor Store

1. Martin Wine Cellar (714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie, 896-7350; 3500 Magazine St., 899-7411; Village Shopping Center, 2895 Hwy. 190, Suite A-1, Mandeville, 985-951-8081; www.martinwine.com) — It doesn't say it in its name, but Martin Wine Cellar features a wide array of spirits and beer as well as more than 1,000 in-stock wines at the Metairie location and hundreds at the other stores. The store's staff can help you sort through the varieties of brands to ensure you get the taste you want at a fair price.

2. Dorignac's (710 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-8216; www.dorignacs.com)

3. Elio's Wine Warehouse (6205 S. Miro St., 866-1852; www.elioswinewarehouse.com)

Best New Orleans Neighborhood Grocery

1. Langenstein's (800 Metairie Road, Metairie, 831-6682; 1330 Arabella St., 899-9283; www.langensteins.com) — Langenstein's belongs to the exalted firmament of one-name New Orleans institutions — McKenzie's, K&B, Schwegmann's — but fortunately for us, this grocery store is still dere. Weekly specials like seafood gumbo, crawfish bisque and red beans made from family recipes, and a unique selection of gourmet items have made Langenstein's a mainstay since 1922.

2. Zara's (2042 Prytania St., 523-3658; 4838 Prytania St., 895-0581)

3. Robert Fresh Market (8115 S. Claiborne Ave., 488-0536; www.robertfreshmarket.com)

Best Jefferson Neighborhood Grocery

1. Dorignac's (710 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-8216; www.dorignacs.com) — It's a true neighborhood store where generations of families have shopped (it's been open since 1947), and you often hear store employees call customers by name like they're talking to neighbors. Beyond the familiar, Dorignac's has a large wine, beer and liquor section and prides itself on low prices for adult beverages. The meat and deli departments also have a following and will customize orders for customers.

2. Langenstein's (800 Metairie Road, Metairie, 831-6682; www.langensteins.com)

3. Breaux Mart (3705 Hessmer Ave., 885-9022; www.breauxmart.com)

Best Northshore Neighborhood Grocery

1. Acquistapace's Covington Supermarket (125 E. 21st Ave., Covington, 985-893-7554 or 985-893-0593; www.acquistapace.com) — Long known for its great selection and prices — as well as staff expertise — on wines and liquors, Acquistapace also offers a full range of grocery items and boasts it has the lowest everyday meat prices in St. Tammany Parish. It's deli turns out a variety of party trays, and just try to leave the store without picking up some of the sumptuous cooked ribs.

2. Fresh Market (1816 Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, 985-674-4105; www.thefreshmarket.com)

3. Saia's (2225 Florida St., Mandeville, 985-626-9724)

Best Supermarket

1. Rouses (Citywide; www.shop.rouses.com) — Since its founding in Houma in 1960, Rouses has lived by the motto: buy the best in Louisiana and bring the best to Louisiana, something that's irresistible to New Orleanians. Rouses boasts a large produce department with some of the freshes produce around (before there was a store, the Rouse family operated a produce company). We suspect, though, that an almost equal draw is the walk-in beer cooler stocked with a vast array of imported and domestic labels — all chilled and ready for an impromptu party.

2. Whole Foods Market (3420 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-8225; 5600 Magazine St., 899-9119; www.wholefoods.com)

3. Winn-Dixie (Citywide; www.winndixie.com)

The Kingpin: Best Neighborhood Bar - PHOTO BY GARY LOVERDE

Best Farmers Market

1. Crescent City Farmers Market on Tuesdays (200 Broadway St.; www.crescentcityfarmersmarket.org) — The Crescent City Farmers Market in Uptown Square on Tuesdays makes for one of the best lunch breaks in the city. The market features a weekly Green Plate Special, a fresh plate lunch cooked by a local chef or market vendor showcasing seasonal goods. Take your plate back to work, or enjoy it in nearby Audubon Park. There's also other prepared goodies to stock up on — everything from herbed goat cheese to spicy tamales — all from local vendors.

2. Crescent City Farmers Market on Saturdays (700 Magazine St.; www.crescentcityfarmersmarket.org)

3. Mid-City Green Market on Thursdays (3700 Orleans Ave.; www.midcitygreenmarket.org)

Best Bakery

1. La Boulangerie (4600 Magazine St., 269-3777) — It must be the gooey and flaky almond croissants, the sweet and savory breads, or the signature baguettes (for those lucky enough to snatch one up before they're gone) that keep New Orleanians going en masse to this French bakery, which secures the top spot year after year.

2. Haydel's Bakery (4037 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson, 837-0190; www.haydelbakery.com)

3. Laurel Street Bakery (5433 Laurel St., 897-0576; (www.laurelstreetbakery.com)

Best King Cake

1. Randazzo's (2033 N. Hwy190, Suite 5 Covington, 985-893-1488, www.nonnarandazzo.com; 3501 Pontchartrain Drive, Slidell, 800-684-2253, www.kingcakes.com; 3515 N. Hullen St., Metairie, 456-1476; www.randazzokingcake.com) — The fact that this family business ships its king cakes all around the country, and sometimes the world, is a testament to its quality. It doesn't matter where you are, the taste of a Randazzo's braided king cake feels like home, regardless of which family member's bakery you visit. Locals love Randazzo's, too, which is why it earns top honors once again.

2. Haydel's Bakery (4037 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson, 837-0190; www.haydelbakery.com)

3. Gambino's (300 Lapalco Blvd., Gretna, 391-0600; 4821 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 885-7500; www.gambinos.com)

Best Wedding Cake

1. Swiss Confectionery (747 St. Charles Ave., 522-7788) — A beautiful wedding cake may make for memorable photos, but once the fondant comes off and it's smeared on the bride and groom's faces, the taste is what people remember. Swiss' cakes, a must-have for any proper New Orleans wedding, look good and taste even better. This is why, once again, the generations-old bakery takes the cake.

2. Haydel's Bakery (4037 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson, 837-0190; www.haydelbakery.com)

3. Sucre (3025 Magazine St., 520-8311; www.shopsucre.com)

Best Jazz Fest Food

1. Crawfish Bread — For some people, Jazz Fest is a food festival punctuated by some live music performances. Those are the people who mark their calendars for the time when they can get their hands on the Marksville, La.-based Panorama Foods' cheesy, crunchy loaf that makes even the longest lines worth the wait.

2. Crawfish Monica

3. Cochon de Lait po-boy

Best Real Estate Agent

1. Eleanore Farnsworth (The Rink, 2727 Prytania St., Suite 15, 891-1142; www.eleanorefarnsworth.com) — She seemingly has the St. Charles Avenue market cornered, but this real estate agent also is an expert in the Old Metairie, French Quarter and Lakefront markets. Readers voted her their top pick when it comes to top real estate for the second year in a row.

2. Charlotte Rivet (Prudential Gardner, 523 Metairie Road, Metairie, 889-7777; www.neworleansrealestate.prugardner.com)

3. Bryan Francher/ Leslie Perrin (The Francher Perrin Group, Prudential Gardner, 1820 St. Charles Ave., 861-6400; www.neworleanshomes.prugardner.com)

Best DWI Attorney

1. Martin Regan (Martin E. Regan & Associates, 2125 St. Charles Ave., 522-7260; www.reganlaw.net) — You shouldn't drink and drive, but stuff happens to even the best of us. If you ever find yourself staring down the end of a breathalyzer, give Martin Regan a call. Readers think the Uptown-based Regan is the best DWI attorney — or so they heard.

2. Troy Broussard (3231 N. I-10 Service Road, Metairie, 835-9491; www.thedwidr.com)

3. Morris Bart (909 Poydras St., 525-8000; www.morrisbart.com)


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