2018 Best of the South Sound

Ladies and gentlemen: The issue you’ve been waiting for is here. Thousands of you voted for your favorite people, places, and services, and the results are in! Moss Adams in Tacoma tallied the votes. Congrats to all of the winners! Here is the Best of the South Sound decided by you, our readers.

By Kirsten Abel, Zoe Branch, Lauren Foster, Joanna Kresge, Emily Manke, Todd Matthews, and Shelby Rowe Moyer



Arts + Entertainment

Live Theater
Tacoma Musical Playhouse
This Sixth Avenue staple may look somewhat unassuming from the outside, but anyone who has caught a play there knows the magic happens when the curtain lifts. Tacoma Musical Playhouse has a knack for choosing modern, fun, and relevant musical plays, and performing them excellently. Tacoma

Emerald Queen Casino
Nothing says welcome to the South Sound like the bright lights of the Emerald Queen Casino greeting you from I-5. The casino has everything you could ever want for entertainment: excellent headliners, delectable food, a world-class casino, and luxury lodging. Fife and Tacoma

First Night + Ethnic Fest (tie)
It’s a tie! Both festivals are so magical, South Sound readers couldn’t settle for just one winner. First Night celebrates the New Year with art, crafts, food, and informational vendors. Since 1986, Ethnic Fest has been celebrating culture and community at Wright Park in the summer with specialty arts and crafts, tasty bites, and much more. Tacoma

The Mix
If you’ve never had a drag queen cheer you on while you bombed “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” you haven’t lived, which is what makes karaoke at The Mix so special. The Mix hosts karaoke seven nights a week, has a drag show every third Saturday, and has a 10th birthday coming up in May. Tacoma

Best of the South Sound

Grand Cinema. Photo by Amelia Vaughn

Movie Theater
Grand Cinema
Not only is Grand Cinema a great place to catch a flick, it gives back to the community in a big way. The Grand celebrated its 21st organizational anniversary as a nonprofit in April, and the cinema has grown its educational programming, expanding Film Camp to serve adults for the first time this coming summer. Tacoma

Local Celebrity
Sonics Guy
You’ve likely spotted the “Sonics Guy” — his real name is Kris Brannon — with his salt-and-pepper afro, wearing his signature gold-and-green track suit, holding a sign that says “Save our Sonics” outside of sporting events or city council meetings. His super spirit and loyalty to the team and region make him a South Sound favorite again this year.

Saint Bryan. Courtesy KING5

Local TV Personality
Saint Bryan
You likely know Saint Bryan’s friendly face from King 5’s Evening, but did you know he’s a South Sound native? Bryan’s parents were married in Olympia while his dad was stationed at Fort Lewis. While he was born on the East Coast, he came back to the Northwest and has lived in North Tacoma since 2002.

Radio Personality
Jubal Flagg
If you haven’t listened to Jubal Flagg’s prank phone calls or Second Date Update, it’s time to get with the program. But there’s more to this funny guy than his show Brooke and Jubal in the Morning, which is syndicated in 40-plus cities nationwide. Flagg is a standup comedian and graffiti artist, and he’ll tell you each week why he hates the internet.

Russell Wilson
It’s hard not to love NFL good guy Russell Wilson. Watching him grow and develop as a Seahawk has been a treat for all of us rocking the green and blue. When he’s not on the field or with family, you’ll likely see him walking the halls of Seattle Children’s Hospital or working on his Why Not You Foundation.

Museum of Glass, Photo by Chuck Lysen

Museum of Glass
Nothing adds more pizazz to Downtown Tacoma’s skyline than the Museum of Glass with its famous cone and glass art installations on the plaza. Once inside, visitors experience live glassblowing in the Hot Shop, incredible artwork in the galleries, and unique programming. Tacoma


Businesses + Services

4US, which stands for For Ultrasound, helps equip pregnancy resource centers with ultrasound machines. For more than a decade, the nonprofit has helped provide machines, education, and training. They host various fundraisers to make their mission happen. Lakewood

Small Business
Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel
For more than two decades, Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel has provided the highest level of legal services to its clientele. The firm’s commitment to justice, diligence, and compassion — in the courtroom and in the community — makes it one of the state’s most-respected providers of legal services. Tacoma and Seattle

Medium Business
Pacific Heating and Cooling
South Sound’s go-to for all things heating and cooling has served the greater Tacoma area since 1984. With an A-plus rating from the Better Business Bureau, the company expertly balances quality workmanship and excellent customer service. Its trusted technicians are dedicated to their craft and install, fix, and replace heating and cooling systems. Tacoma

Large Business + Bank
Columbia Bank
Starting in Tacoma in 1993 as a small community bank, Columbia Bank has managed to hold on to its roots as it’s grown into a large business. With more than 150 branches and ATMs throughout the Pacific Northwest, Columbia’s community has changed, but its values have not. It continues to prioritize responsible money management, small business support, and personal customer service, giving big banks a good name. Various locations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho

Gig Harbor. Courtesy City of Gig Harbor

Gig Harbor
If you’ve ever visited Gig Harbor, you know that it’s definitely one of South Sound’s top places. With its historic waterfront that offers an incredible view of the Sound; its countless options for boutique shopping and fine dining experiences; and its access to parks, gardens, and forest areas, the city provides a little bit of something for everyone. Not to mention, it’s the location of HGTV’s first Washington Dream Home.

Insurance Agent/Agency
Fournier Insurance Solutions
One of the largest family-owned insurance agencies in Washington, Fournier Insurance Solutions has grown since it was founded in 1977. Now with five locations in Western Washington, the company continues to stay true to its humble roots while also being a highly successful and competitive agency. Its mission is to “do it right for our customers, do it ethically for our companies, and do it aggressively in the marketplace.” Various locations

Mortgage Lender
Kyle Rohrbaugh, RPM Mortgage
Kyle Rohrbaugh has been putting families in homes for more than a decade. He turned a degree in accounting and a passion for real estate into a team that consistently ranks in the top 1 percent in the country. One of the most highly respected mortgage professionals in the area — and a Gig Harbor native — Rohrbaugh embodies a “can do, will do” attitude that provides clients with unmatched support. Gig Harbor

Financial Advisor
Financial Insights
Financial Insights’ philosophy focuses on helping clients establish, monitor, and achieve their financial goals. Our readers say they check all of the boxes that anyone should look for in a wealth management team. The company and its members are repeat winners of The Best of the South Sound. Tacoma

BECU. Courtesy BECU

Credit Union
The Washington-based credit union is all about “people helping people,” and its setup as a company reflects it. Organized under Washington state law as a not-for-profit corporation, BECU practices transparency and promotes thrift to help customers create a source of credit that will benefit them. Various locations

Real Estate
Mosaic Home Group
An expert in all things real estate, Mosaic Home Group receives near-perfect ratings from new homeowners on sites like Zillow. The company has been serving the South Sound for more than five years. Various locations

Antonio “Tony” Garguile
A Washington native who has been practicing law since 2011, Antonio “Tony” Garguile has been voted best attorney in the South Sound for three years in a row. He was named a Top 40 Under 40 lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers organization, spent five years running a large traffic infraction defense firm in Washington, and last year opened Garguile Law. Tacoma

Car Dealership
The dealership is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, a true testament to its integrity and reliability. As one of Washington’s largest-volume auto groups, Titus-Will takes pride in its team of knowledgeable and friendly staff members who help customers find their dream car. Various locations

Midland Auto Repair. Courtesy Maryanne Shay

Auto Repair
Midland Automotive
At Midland Automotive, customer service has always been the main priority. The company’s purpose is to serve its customers in the most accurate, efficient, fair, and cost-effective way possible. This kind of consistent, professional care has made Midland a Tacoma favorite since 1968. Tacoma

Auto Detail
Classy Chassis
Classy Chassis has provided vehicle care since its founding in 1985. Specialty detail services include floor and fire repair, Diamond Plate ceramic paint coating, and mold and odor removal. Expanding its expertise beyond cars, the auto detail company also services boats, RVs, and motorcycles. It is the Official Detail Center for the LeMay Family Car Collection and offers award-winning show-worthy restoration. Lakewood and Puyallup

Blitz & Co Florist
The family-owned-and-operated florist in downtown Tacoma sells and delivers beautiful bouquets for every occasion — or just because! Tacoma

Tattoo Artist
House of Tattoo
A Tacoma staple since 1996, House of Tattoo has been voted Best of the South Sound since 2008. Owner Katie Williams, who graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a degree in fine arts, creates body art that has appeared in industry trade magazines. Tacoma

The Gallery. Courtesy Tedd Wetherbee

Cannabis Shop
The Gallery
The Gallery was founded under the concept that the store would be an art gallery that also happens to sell marijuana. Hence, of course, the name. While you browse the county’s largest selection of high-quality marijuana products, you can also admire the unique art pieces that elevate the store from dispensary to gallery. Its focus as a business is to put forward a “new face of cannabis” by selling a positive and unique shopping experience along with products. Various locations


Fashion + Retail

Satori. Photo by Dakota Lynne

Walking into the Instagram-ready Satori — with its elegant, minimal aesthetic — is a nice reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Pacific Avenue. Owner Diamond Sanger opened the store, along with her husband, in 2013 and has a huge following of dedicated customers. Tacoma

Men’s and Women’s Shoes
For those who love formal footwear, there’s nowhere else that even comes close to Nordstrom in terms of style and variety, according to our readers. That, along with expert sales staff, and an unbelievable return policy, the flagship brings South Sounders back for all their major shoe purchases. Various locations

Thrift Store
Tacoma Thrift & Consignment
Step off historic Sixth Avenue and into another world and time with Tacoma Thrift & Consignment. Inside the literal brick-and-mortar store, you’ll find all kinds of treasures, from clothes to electronics and beyond. Tacoma

Jewelry Store
Kantor Diamond Company
When you go to the family-owned, fourth-generation diamond seller Kantor Diamond Company, you don’t just go to shop; you go to get educated on the products. Expert brokers help inform clients on all aspects of diamonds and jewelry. On top of that, they offer 30 to 70 percent off retail prices every day. Tacoma

Bridal Shop
Brides for a Cause
Brides for a Cause donates funds from collecting and reselling wedding dresses to a variety of women’s charities. Its stunning selection and excellent customer service make this shop a South Sound favorite. Tacoma and Portland

Antique Shop
Sanford and Son
With three floors, 25,000 square feet, and 20 different shops inside, Sanford and Son is one of the largest individually owned antique shops in the Pacific Northwest. With so much variety, and a down-home kind of feel, Sanford and Son is a beloved South Sound institution where you never know what treasure you’ll find. Tacoma

Channing Baby & Co. Photo by Effie Gurmeza

Kids Store
Channing Baby & Co.
Channing Baby & Co. doesn’t just have cool stuff for babies; it also has stuff that makes parents’ days and nights a little easier, and a little more relaxed and fun. Owned by parents, and staffed by parents, this shop aims to spread knowledge as well as keep your tot looking good. Tacoma

King’s Books
There’s no better oasis for book lovers than this giant, stocked-to-the-brim bookstore in Tacoma. Before you get lost in a book, get lost at King’s Books. Whether you want to shop for new or used books, join a book club, or just browse, King’s will leave any bookworm satisfied. Tacoma


Food + Drink

This breakfast joint is known for its enormously delicious morning meals. Diners love the Shaka potatoes, plate-sized pancakes, and assorted omelets. For those craving breakfast at night, Shakabrah’s kitchen is open late every Thursday through Saturday. Tacoma

C.I. Shenanigans
A steakhouse on the edge of Puget Sound, C.I. Shenanigans offers its famous brunch every Sunday. While its menu changes, diners can always expect a variety of seafood; a meat-carving station; house-made pastries; and, of course, Champagne. Tacoma

Boathouse 19. Photo by Jeff Hobson

Happy Hour + Dessert + Romantic Dinner
Boathouse 19
This dockside restaurant is the readers’ fave spot to indulge in happy-hour specials and dreamy desserts like drunken chocolate cheesecake and caramel apple crisp. It’s also the perfect place to take a date — casual plates plus a stunning view. Tacoma

Restaurant + Lunch
Lobster Shop
This waterfront restaurant is a longtime South Sound favorite. The stunning view, the fresh seafood, and the tasty cocktails keep customers coming back again and again. Items like the lobster bisque, the Dungeness crab cakes, and the shrimp po’boy appear on the lunch menu. For dinner, there are heartier options, like the clam linguine and the maple-glazed wild king salmon. Tacoma

Stack 571
Mouth-watering burgers like the Fatted Sow and the Three Pepper Bomb are what attract South Sound residents to this burger and whiskey bar at Point Ruston. Not only is the food delicious, but most of it is locally sourced, too. Tacoma

Farrelli’s Wood Fire Pizza
The first Farrelli’s opened in Lacey more than 20 years ago. Now, the pizza restaurant has multiple locations, and a sister pub in DuPont called McNamara’s. Their pizza is beloved by residents across the South Sound. Try a classic pie or go for one of the restaurant’s locally inspired pies like the Mt. Tahoma or the Northwest Traditional. Various locations

Trapper’s Sushi
Even the names of the sushi rolls at Trapper’s are good. There are several Pacific Northwest-inspired items, like the Mt. Rainier, the Mt. Si, and the STP. Then there are the quirkily named Very Happy and Uncle Steve rolls. There’s even a couple for Star Wars fans. Various locations

Moctezuma’s. Photo by Amy Johnson Photography

Moctezuma’s Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar
South Sound residents have been happily sipping margaritas at Moctezuma’s for years. With $2 Taco Tuesdays and a huge selection of quality Mexican food, it’s easy to see why. The restaurant even has gluten-free options. Various locations

Grocery Store
Metropolitan Market
Known as “Met Market” to locals, this Proctor neighborhood market carries tons of organic, local items and the freshest produce around. Tacomans don’t just go here to buy groceries, though. They also come for the bakery and the delicious, ready-made lunch options. Various locations

MSM Deli
MSM stands for “magical sandwich makers,” and the people behind this deli’s subs truly are wizards. Try the Philly steak, the Catch of the Day, or create your own bewitching hero. Tacoma

French Fries
Shake, Shake, Shake
This artsy 1940s-style cafe doesn’t just look cool; its thin-cut fries are also a fan favorite, perfect for pairing with a mushroom Swiss burger or dipping into a salted caramel shake. Tacoma

Silk Thai Cafe
Readers love this Tacoma restaurant’s quaint, slightly romantic atmosphere and its fresh, appetizing menu options. Try the cashew chicken or the Pad See Ew. Tacoma

Gateway to India
With locations in Gig Harbor and Tacoma, this family-run restaurant is a go-to for Indian food in the South Sound. The chicken tikka masala and the garlic naan are fan favorites, but the rest of the vast menu is solid, too. Gig Harbor and Tacoma

Yen Ching
For those with a hankering for Chinese food, this authentic spot on South Tacoma Way will not disappoint, according to readers. Try the garlic chicken or the beef and broccoli. Tacoma

Tanglewood Grill
This Gig Harbor casual dining locale is decked out in woodsy, rustic décor. Readers adore the roasted prime rib, served Thursday through Saturday while provisions last. Gig Harbor

A longtime reader favorite, this Italian restaurant is a Parkland institution. Diners love the hearty, handmade pasta; the local ingredients; and the thoughtfully curated wine list. Parkland

Open for lunch and dinner six days a week, this sushi house has been going strong since 1984. No matter what you’re in the mood for — teriyaki, ramen, or sushi — Fujiya has it all. Tacoma

Pho King
For all pho-related cravings, this Hilltop restaurant is the answer. Not only is the classic Vietnamese soup some of the best around; the spring rolls and banh mi sandwiches are divine. Tacoma

Anthem. Photo by Michael Simmons

Whether it’s a simple cup of joe or a specialty caffeinated drink you’re after, this coffee shop is the place to go. The cozy atmosphere and the beer, cider, and wine offerings are nice perks, too. Oh, there’s also fries, sandwiches, pastries, and more. Various locations

Chef Shawn Tibbitts. Courtesy of Shawn Tibbitts

New Restaurant + Chef
Tibbitts@Fern Hill, Shawn Tibbitts
Chef Shawn Tibbitts won best chef, and Tibbitts@Fern Hill won best new restaurant from our readers. Tibbitts doesn’t use a fryer, and he makes everything from scratch. He’s also a diehard local committed to serving top-notch food to his community of customers. Tibbitts’ menu is both rich and refreshing, classic, and intriguing. He’s been a chef for more than 20 years, and now he’s shining in his own place, making things in a tiny restaurant near where he grew up. He serves breakfast and lunch, including a meat and gravy bomb, cinnamon apple streusel French toast, and the Oregon Bay shrimp salad-stuffed avocados. Tacoma

Fine Dining
El Gaucho
A classy restaurant with a swanky speakeasy vibe, El Gaucho is perfect for an elegant night out on the town. Feast on flawlessly cooked steak and prawns while a pianist plays quietly in the background. Most of the desserts are showstoppers. Tacoma

Outdoor Dining
Tides Tavern
This waterfront tavern has been serving customers since 1973. Watch the sparkling water from the restaurant’s outdoor deck while dining on an array of super-fresh salads, stacked sandwiches, succulent seafood, and other creative options — like smoked salmon Asiago fries! Gig Harbor

Food Truck
Boss Mama’s Kitchen
Run by Jen Gustin, this mobile food purveyor regularly serves two things: grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers. Reader favorites include the peanut butter bacon burger or the Reggie Hammond burger named after Eddie Murphy’s 48 Hours character. Puyallup

7 Seas Brewery. Photo courtesy 7 Seas Brewing Co.

7 Seas Brewery
This brewery originated in Gig Harbor but has since expanded to a massive taproom in Tacoma. Beer lovers enjoy the year-round staples, like the 253 Pilsner and the Life Jacket Citrus IPA — plus seasonal offerings on tap. Both locations are open seven days a week. Gig Harbor and Tacoma

Heritage Distilling Co. 
This award-winning craft distillery calls Gig Harbor home. Visit its waterfront tasting room — open seven days a week — to try some of its varied and distinctive spirits, everything from gin to vodka to whiskey. Gig Harbor

Viva Tacoma
Organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan food never tasted so good. Even those without any dietary restrictions find something to love at Viva. The Tacoma staple does desserts too — like vegan pumpkin muffins and dairy-free cheesecakes. Tacoma

Cheap Eats
Memo’s Mexican Food Restaurant
Cheap late-night Mexican food is Memo’s specialty. Its 20 different kinds of burritos are all under $5. Try the locally inspired Washington burrito with steak, potatoes, salsa, and cheese. Tacoma

Corina Bakery
Not only does this charming bakery serve individual desserts including cookies, lemon bars, chai cheesecake, and peach pie; it also creates gorgeous custom cakes from scratch. Check out the gluten-free, and vegan options, too. Tacoma

The piled-high nachos at the Tacoma Matador are beloved by South Sound readers. Even cheaper on the restaurant’s happy hour, order the “Nachos Grande” for just $5 every day from 4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Various locations

Frisko Freeze
The classic 1950s drive-in is a South Sound staple. The creamy milkshakes, the paper sacks full of hot fries or onion rings, and the satisfyingly greasy burgers have people coming back, and bringing their kids and grandkids. Tacoma

Pao’s Donut & Coffee Shop. Courtesy of Pao’s Donut and Coffee Shop

Doughnut Shop
Pao’s Donut & Coffee Shop
Just try to walk into this doughnut shop without ordering anything. The crullers are to die for. The apple fritters and the maple bars are amazing. Oh, who are we kidding? They’re all tasty. Go early and order everything. Tacoma

Chateau Ste. Michelle
The sweeping scenic grounds and the tasty wines make a drive to this historic Woodinville winery worth it. Now 50 years old, the winery has a renovated visitor center and plenty of unique wine and culinary experiences to offer visitors. Woodinville

Top of Tacoma. Photo by Mitch Huntley

Top of Tacoma
Steak nachos, cheesy bread, mac and cheese with pork belly … what more could you want from a friendly, neighborhood bar? Taco Thursdays, for one. Tipsy Tuesdays, for two. Plus, sip a mimosa for as little as $3 during weekend brunch. Hungry yet? Tacoma

En Rama
This small Tacoma cocktail lounge is perfect for an intimate date night. En Rama beverages are beautiful to look at, as well as delightful to drink. Think tea-infused bourbon, brown butter-infused rum, and sesame-infused whiskey, all at a reasonable price. Various locations

Duke’s Seafood & Chowder House
Duke’s prides itself on superb service and sourcing the absolute freshest, most-sustainable seafood possible. The hearty, award-winning chowders (so many chowders; try them all) are gluten-free. Don’t like seafood? No problem. The same high-quality standards are applied to the grass-fed beef burgers, free-range chicken dishes, and house-made black bean veggie burgers. Enjoy the South Sound Duke’s on the waterfront on Ruston Way. Various locations


Health + Beauty

MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital
A large and busy hospital can be a daunting environment for patients and their loved ones, alike. But South Sound readers say MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital is the place to go for personal and innovative healthcare. Tacoma

Cosmetic Surgeon
Dr. Justin Piasecki — Harbor Plastic Surgery
When it comes to plastic surgery, it’s hard not to think about the campy and melodramatic TV show Nip/Tuck. The vibe is completely different at Harbor Plastic Surgery, which was founded by Dr. Justin Piasecki and his wife, Jill, nearly a decade ago. This boutique-like setting offers a warm and reassuring consultation experience for patients seeking a range of cosmetic procedures, or advice on how to better protect their skin. Gig Harbor

Adam Nickel
Before his retirement, Dr. Gary Nickel provided quality obstetrics and gynecological healthcare to women for nearly 30 years. Now, Dr. Nickel’s son, Adam, continues that tradition by easing women’s anxieties throughout the childbirth process and guiding them through any difficulties they may face during their pregnancies. Tacoma

Dr. Ladie C. Araña-Domondon
Our readers turn to Dr. Ladie C. Araña-Domondon to receive trusted and attentive medical care. Dr. Araña-Domondon was one of the original internists at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, and today offers decades of experience helping South Sound residents. Puyallup

Physical Therapist
Anchor Physical Therapy
Anchor Physical Therapy marks its 10th anniversary this year, and continues to offer tailored, one-on-one outpatient physical and massage therapies to South Sound residents. Lakewood and Tacoma

Dr. Bruce Davies
For years, Dr. Bruce Davies has been a comforting presence for parents and children who visit University Place Pediatric Clinic for their healthcare needs. His goals are both simple and essential: Provide personalized pediatric care while supporting parents in their demanding roles. University Place

Dr. Stephen R. Hansen. Photo Courtesy Hansen Dentistry

Dr. Stephen Hansen
Hansen Dentistry has brightened smiles in Tacoma for 40 years, and the Hansen family has boasted three generations of dentists — the latest being Dr. Stephen R. Hansen. The Tacoma native and Fircrest resident’s dental care extends beyond his North Tacoma office. Dr. Hansen has traveled the world offering dental care where it is most needed, and he started a charity that pays for dental care required prior to head and neck cancer therapy. Tacoma

Douglas J Knight. Courtesy Douglas J. Knight

Douglas J. Knight
Dr. Douglas J. Knight — an Auburn native and Pacific Lutheran University graduate — and his team have been straightening teeth and brightening smiles for more than 20 years. Bonus: Comfort dog Dexter is in the office Mondays and Wednesdays to help patients who might be nervous about visiting an orthodontist. Tacoma

Dr. Andrew Rife, Puget Sound Family Health and Apothecary
“Amazing, friendly, personable, and best doctor’s office ever.” Those are some of the ways patients extol the healthcare offered by Dr. Andrew Rife and his team at Puget Sound Family Health and Apothecary in Downtown Tacoma. Through teaching, writing, and even home organization, Dr. Rife aims to help patients expand their healthcare choices. Tacoma

Eye Care+ Medi Spa
Cascade Eye & Skin Centers
A trusted source for ophthalmology and dermatology care that traces its roots back more than 50 years, Cascade Eye & Skin Centers’ vast team of ophthalmologists, optometrists, dermatologists, and dermatology physician assistants offers high-tech, compassionate, and personal patient care. Various locations

Dr. Jason Stockton — Tacoma Family Chiropractic
For more than 20 years, athletes and armchair quarterbacks have turned to Dr. Jason Stockton and Tacoma Family Chiropractic for spine correction and improved mobility. In addition to state-of-the-art chiropractic techniques, Stockton offers physiotherapy; cold laser therapy; and advice on corrective exercises, active lifestyle options, and proper nutrition. Tacoma

Assisted Living
Kensington Gardens
Fine dining, sightseeing tours, and even regular yacht cruises make this luxury retirement community feel more like an opulent hotel. The professional staff provides compassionate care that meets the emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical needs of Kensington Gardens’ senior residents. Gig Harbor

La Bella Nail Spa
Husband-and-wife owners Tuan and Cici Ngo opened La Bella Nail Spa a decade ago, and South Sound readers consistently pick the couple’s North Tacoma business as the go-to place for quality manicures, pedicures, waxes, and eyelash extensions. Tacoma

Olympus Spa. Courtesy Olympus Spa

Olympus Spa
This ladies-only respite merges Eastern medicine and Western relaxation techniques to create a total health-conscious day-spa experience while incorporating superior services and products aimed to enhance your health. Lakewood

Barber Shop
Mark’s Barber Shop
Mark Guerrero began cutting hair when he moved to Gig Harbor in 1984. Decades later, his son, Jonathan, joined the business, which specializes in traditional men’s and children’s haircuts, and even offers straight-razor shaves. It’s not uncommon for locals to stop by to chat with the Guerreros over a cup of coffee or watch Jonathan’s sons sweep the floors for their father and grandfather. Gig Harbor

Better Gym
Former military trainer Susan Moore’s small group classes at Better Gym aim to improve your movement, strength, focus, and mental state to achieve an optimal quality of life. The end result? You’ll feel, well, better. Be sure to stop by the cafe after your workout for organic and nutrient-dense juices, smoothies, and coffee. Gig Harbor

Personal Trainer
Blake Dukowitz
South Sound readers already picked Better Gym as their favorite workout facility. But they also selected Blake Dukowitz, a coach and personal trainer at this Gig Harbor facility, as the go-to person to get bodies in peak physical condition. Gig Harbor

Yoga Studio
Source Yoga
One of the earliest studios in Tacoma when it opened in 2005, Source Yoga has since expanded to University Place, and is a consistent favorite among our readers. Owner Erin Joosse emphasizes mindfulness to cultivate a warm, welcoming, and nonintimidating environment that makes yoga accessible to everyone. Tacoma and University Place

London’s Salon. Photo Courtesy Keila McGahuey

London’s Salon
Whether you’re looking to get pampered or need to prepare for a big event, the team of professional stylists at London’s Salon has you covered. Choose between Dock Street or Pacific Avenue locations in Tacoma for your next cut, color, or style. Tacoma

Weight-Loss Program
Weight Watchers
From its modest beginnings in a living room in Queens, New York, in 1963, Weight Watchers has grown to include more than 1 million members worldwide who have lost weight through sensible food choices and activities that fit their lifestyles. And with spokesperson Oprah Winfrey onboard, losing weight has never been more motivating. Various locations


Home + Garden

Harrison Homes. Courtesy Harrison Homes

Harrison Homes LLC
Taking the leap to have your home custom-built is a big and exciting decision. Harrison Homes values frequent communication, so their clients feel at ease throughout the process. When move-in day comes, your dream home will be waiting. Gig Harbor

Olympic Landscape & Irrigation
For more than 40 years, Olympic Landscape & Irrigation has been trusted and respected in the South Sound. From landscaping the Tacoma Dome to creating an enviable outdoor retreat at home, founder Neil Hedman and his team are known for exceeding expectations. Puyallup

Place to Buy Appliances
Albert Lee Appliances
It’s time. Splurge on that gas stove or smart refrigerator you’ve been wanting. The locally owned and operated appliance store has been helping Pacific Northwest residents upgrade their homes since 1939. Various locations

TREE. Photo by Kristina Wunsch

Place to Buy Furniture
We suggest you get to know TREE, an eco-friendly furniture boutique. The design-inspiring store offers beautiful furniture and finishing touches and has planted more than 77,000 trees since it first opened in 2005 in Hong Kong, because giving back is part of its mission. Tacoma and Bellevue

Coyote Design Architecture + Planning
Flooding natural light, modern design, a statement staircase: Whatever is on your must-have list, Coyote Design Architecture + Planning will ensure your home is a stunning oasis. Fircrest

AnnArthur Homes. Photo by Jared Russell Photography

Interior Designer
AnnArthur Homes
Married duo Krista Ann and Bruce Arthur Haskins will bring your home design vision to life, whether it’s in your own home or for a staging project. This trusted pair of visionaries have been in the industry for more than 12 years. Various locations

Garden Shop/Nursery
Watson’s Greenhouse and Nursery
It’s easy to spend a long afternoon browsing the large plant selection at Watson’s Greenhouse and Nursery, with everything from stately trees to sturdy office plants. If you have any questions, the knowledgeable staff is happy to guide you. Puyallup

Apartment Community
The Henry
Located just steps from the water and a short jaunt from eateries, The Henry is the perfect place to hang your hat if you’re a city-loving person who also appreciates the calming aesthetic of nature. Winner of the Best Apartment Community in the South Sound for the second year in a row, The Henry offers residents a luxury lifestyle in an urban environment. Located along Thea Foss Waterway, the five-story building provides residents with stunning views, as well as community amenities, like a fitness center and a rooftop dog run. Tacoma

Kitchen & Bath Designer
Signature Design and Cabinetry
With so many options it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and end up with an overall design that’s lackluster. Signature Design and Cabinetry can cut through the clutter with beautiful cabinetry and hardware and strategic design, curated specifically to your taste. And they offer several sustainable options, so you can feel good about your purchase. Tacoma

Craftsman Construction. Photo courtesy Craftsman Construction

Craftsman Construction
Craftsman Construction prides itself on paying close attention to the details to ensure clients are blown away by the results. Feel at ease with this team of experts to take on the projects high on your want list. Tacoma



Boomshaka. Photo by Michael Young

Birthday Party Place
Renting out a park pavilion or recreation center room for children’s birthday parties is perfectly fine, but who wouldn’t want to celebrate a birthday while defying gravity? The 23,000-square-foot BoomShaka facility includes more than 10,000 square feet of connected trampolines, a ninja obstacle course, extreme dodgeball, foam pits, trapeze swings, and more. Olympia

Public High School
Stadium High School
One glance at this beautiful and historic Tacoma landmark overlooking the Sound, and anyone could understand why movie producers chose it to be the fictional high school in the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You, starring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. Tacoma

Public Middle School
Mason Middle School
Middle school-aged children have a lot going on in their young lives. Compassionate teachers and engaging programs are why readers voted this Tacoma school best. It also has first-class facilities — like the school’s state-of-the-art broadcast television studio — that make it stand out. Tacoma

Public Elementary School
Chambers Primary School
Serving children in kindergarten through fourth grade, this University Place elementary school thrives because of its ABC core values: always be respectful, be safe, and committed to learning. No wonder our readers have given this school an A+. University Place

Private School
Life Christian Academy
This preschool-through-12th-grade private school is so beloved by South Sound parents that they’ve selected Life Christian Academy the best in every private school category — from preschool through high school. It probably has something to do with the school’s mission to serve the academic and spiritual needs of its students while touting the importance of leadership and outreach. Tacoma

New Adventures Children’s Center
When parents in Tacoma are looking for childcare, MultiCare New Adventures Children’s Center is at the top of the list. Located near the MultiCare Health System Main Campus, New Adventures offers care for children ages 4 weeks to 12 years. Tacoma

Vera Clowers, Celebration Friends Preschool
South Sounders continue to tout the kindness and grace of Vera Clowers, who continues to introduce 3- to 5-year-old students to their first school experience as director of the preschool. Puyallup



Columbia Veterinary Hospital
Dr. Peggy Power has been serving the furry denizens of South Sound for close to 30 years, treating each patient as if it was her own loved one. Her love of animals carries over to her home, where she and her husband, Glen, have a pet family of Nichi, an Akita, and Ginger, a Cockapoo. Tacoma

Tacoma’s Best Pet Grooming
How could this pet salon not win? It’s right there in the business’ name. Tacoma’s Best is the grooming salon South Sounders trust with their posh pugs, and chic Chihuahuas. Tacoma

Doggy Daycare
Biscuits Doggie Daycare
These guys don’t just walk your dog; they believe in fostering a fun and engaging environment for every pet. They’ll provide exercise, encourage socialization, reduce anxiety, and curb destructive tendencies. Tacoma


Travel + Recreation

Kid-Friendly Destination
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Expand your child’s mind with up-close experiences touching the spiny legs of a starfish or the smooth back of a stingray. With tons of exhibits, your family can travel from the Asian forest to the Arctic tundra in a matter of minutes. Tacoma

Wedding Venue
Cedarbrook Lodge
Tree-capped mountains and an array of greenery are the perfect backdrop for the happiest day of your life. The lodge offers more than 19,000 square feet of indoor space and 5,500 square feet of outdoor space. The luxurious location is the best spot to tie the knot, according to our readers. SeaTac

Mt. Rainier. Photo by Nicole June

Mount Rainier
Pack a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, leash up your dog, and tighten your hiking boots. Mount Rainier has a picturesque trail for everyone, from beginners who want a leisurely stroll to hardcore hikers seeking a challenge.

Kid-Friendly Park
Point Defiance
Take a break from the hustle of everyday life, and let nature inspire you. At Point Defiance Park, you can stroll through a trellis of blooming roses in one of its many gardens, or take a quick jaunt on one of the paved trails. Tacoma

Golf Course
Chambers Bay
With a view of sapphire Puget Sound waters, Chambers Bay is an excellent getaway for an 18-hole round of golf. The popular destination touts “tawny fescue grasses, towering sand dunes, and massive fairways.” What are you waiting for? University Place

Leavenworth. Courtesy Icicle TV

NW Travel Destination
The Bavarian-style Washington town is a beloved winter escape, but the destination has tons of attractions year-round with agritourism, waterfront parks, and enough breweries and wineries to keep you smiling your entire trip.

Hotel Murano
The stately Tacoma icon is a luxurious retreat with a show-stopping glass art collection. Head inside for a shaken cocktail and a decadent bowl of truffle mac and cheese, even if you aren’t planning to stay the night. Tacoma

Bed & Breakfast
Chinaberry Hill
The Victorian-style bed and breakfast feels like taking a step back in time. It’s the perfect place to point your in-laws when they’re in town, or if you’re in need of a staycation. Tacoma

Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean International
Don’t let another year pass without an extraordinary vacation. Check out one of Royal Caribbean’s many destinations for an unforgettable trip. Departs from Seattle. Various locations

Alaska Airlines Photo by Tomás Del Coro via Creative Commons

Alaska Airlines
Thumbing through Alaska Air’s Instagram page, it’s hard not to jump online and book a trip to some faraway land blanketed with sunshine. Bonus: The company recently partnered with Seattle fashion designer Luly Yang for West Coast-inspired uniforms. Keep an eye out for them! Seattle


Citizen of the Year

The YWCA’s Miriam Barnett

Abundantly Giving

Words by Emily Manke / Photos by Jeff Hobson

Miriam Barnett, the YWCA Pierce County CEO, didn’t start her career in nonprofits. In fact, The Evergreen State College grad spent the first 12 years of her professional career as a craft artist. It wasn’t until Barnett’s first child was born and she bought her first home that she decided she needed a more traditional full-time job.

Between her and her husband’s art careers — he is still a potter today — they wanted a more reliable stream of income. In 1987, she took a job as the executive director of Allied Arts of Whatcom County in Bellingham, and that’s when her 31-year nonprofit career began.

Barnett was named CEO at the YWCA Pierce County in 2005, when the Tacoma shelter was located on the top two floors of a 1920s building — tiny 97-square-foot rooms with shared kitchens and bathrooms on each floor.

“I was raised to believe that everyone deserves to be treated equally and with respect,” Barnett said. “And if I didn’t want to spend the night in one of our rooms — and I’m not even in crisis — why is it OK for other families?”

The original design was meant to accommodate single traveling women and keep them safe at night back in the 1920s. In 1976, YWCA of Pierce County became the first domestic violence shelter in Washington, and the rooms were transformed to accommodate families.

By 2005, although the shelters were safe and better than many homeless shelters that don’t have private rooms, it was rundown.

At the tail end of 2007— and after a major plumbing meltdown in the existing shelter — an apartment building across the street went up for sale, and Barnett decided to jump on the opportunity. The economy was on the verge of collapse, but Barnett and her team raised $5 million to buy and renovate the apartment building, and another $1.5 million to renovate the existing shelter to use as office space for client services.

When it was time to turn the apartments into a safe haven for families, Barnett’s creative viewpoint as an artist took hold. She worked with local interior designers to make each room special.

The result is a shelter that is beautiful and welcoming and aims to inspire hope to those who stay there. It’s one of the few shelters that allows pets, and it is open to anyone who is a victim — regardless of gender or gender identity. The YWCA serves about 12,000 people every year at the shelter and through other services.

Art is everywhere, from the children’s therapeutic center, to every single room at the shelter. Barnett’s creative touch and open-mindedness are also likely the reason the YWCA was an early adopter of the trauma-informed care model — which considers the varied and surprising effects of trauma and includes this knowledge in every aspect of care. It’s also why pets are allowed.

“I have felt more effective here — and bringing the arts here — than I ever did working in the arts.”

“There are so many unintended consequences to having people live in a beautiful space,” Barnett said. “Seeing the difference this makes for our clients — and how they heal … just so many unintended consequences we hadn’t even thought of now that we’ve adopted beauty as one of our values.”

But Barnett and her team aren’t finished. There is more need in the community and more to do. “Home at Last” is the YWCA’s latest project, and aims to provide 50 affordable, permanent apartment units for people overcoming domestic violence; homelessness; and, in many instances, both. The land has been purchased, and the project is currently in the fundraising stage. The YWCA will need to raise about $3 million for the $21.5 million project that will largely be funded by various state, city, and county funds.

“I was in the arts for 12 years as an artist and 15 years in the nonprofit arts world. And a Washington state arts commissioner for eight years, including two being chair,” she said. “I have felt more effective here — and bringing the arts here — than I ever did working in the arts.”

Barnett credits her “amazing” staff at YWCA for its success, but it’s clear her leadership is helping guide the course. And it’s also why she was nominated by her peers and our readers, and subsequently chosen by the South Sound editorial team, as this year’s South Sound Citizen of the Year. 

Find Out First
Learn about South Sound food, arts
and culture, home design, and more.
no thanks

Subscribe To Our Newsletter!

Receive exclusive subscriber content and access to special contests, discounts, and giveaways!