Best of the South Sound 2013

Did your favorites make the Best of the South Sound 2013 list?


best_of_artAfter months of campaigning from South Sound businesses, including newsletters to customers, Facebook posts, Tweets and buzz on the streets, the fifth annual Best of the South Sound 2013 is here. It seems like pride in local businesses has never been higher. Did your favorites make the cut? Sound off below.

Check out photos from our Best of the South Sound party!

Food + Drink

Best Lunch
Tides Tavern
2925 Harborview Dr., Gig Harbor. Between the award-winning fish and chips and the brew selection, it’s no wonder this Gig Harbor waterfront restaurant is a sure hit. Some people even arrive via boat.

Best Chef
Chef Bill of Adriatic Grill
4201 S. Steele St., Tacoma. Chef Bill Trudnowski has stolen the culinary title for the third consecutive year. His staff stands behind him in support and his customer reviews are full of raving “adriaddicts.”

Best Breakfast/Brunch
The Lobster Shop
4015 Ruston Way, Tacoma. Sunday is a special day at the Lobster Shop in Tacoma, because the staff rolls out a brunch made for kings and queens. Bring together prime rib roast, made-to-order waffles, a full seafood bar, eggs Benedict and an assorted dessert display and you’ll think Christmas morning comes once a week.

Best Sushi
1552 Commerce St., Tacoma. Sake and sushi — a perfect pairing. TwoKoi knows sushi and offers a long bar top facing the open kitchen so guests can watch the raw action. The Japanese and fusion cuisine boasts refined taste and a respected reputation.

Best Restaurant
The Lobster Shop
Tacoma & Dash Point. Readers enjoy the fresh food and amazing waterfront views from both locations whether they are enjoying a special celebratory meal, romantic dinner or just a very nice (and affordable) lunch at the Tacoma location. Check out their blog for clever kitchen tricks and recipes.

Best Drive-In
Frisko Freeze
1201 Division Ave., Tacoma. This landmark has been keeping Tacoma full of malts, burgers and fries since its truck-driving founder transformed the little shack into a fast-food joint more than 60 years ago. The blinking neon sign beckons you to stop and grab a goodie.

Best Burger
Blazing Onion
4701 Point Fosdick Dr. N.W. #300, Gig Harbor. Imagine a sizzling 1/3-pound gourmet beef patty melting a slice of sharp Tillamook cheese, framed with a fresh leaf of lettuce, a ruby slice of juicy tomato, tangy pickles and caramelized onions, laid to rest between a perfectly golden onion-cheese kaiser roll. Served with bottomless house fries for customers indulging in burger paradise.

Best Steak
El Gaucho
2119 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. There is nothing comparable to cutting into a tender filet mignon or New York steak in the dim lights of this premier Northwest steakhouse. Nightly live music and table side service spice up the experience.


Pacific Grill. Photo by Jeff Hobson.

Best Happy Hour
Pacific Grill
1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. It’s no wonder why Pacific Grill earns the spotlight for Tacoma’s favorite happy hour. The happiness lasts all day, all week in the bar and their entire booklet bar menu is marked down half price. Try the meat candy.

Best Service
4107 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor. Jason Winniford and his top-notch staff whip up another win for JW — where the food is fresh and the wine list long.

Best Kid Friendly
Red Robin
Various locations. Maybe it’s the logo-stamped balloons, the activity page kid’s menu featuring mac and cheese and mini corn dogs, the mini arcade, or the occasional visit from Red Robin himself, but the young ones are hooked.

Best Mexican
Tacoma & Gig Harbor. What began as a pipe dream in South Tacoma some 35 years ago has now grown to become the region’s preferred Mexican dining experience. Owner Arturo Garcia is motivated by a passion for his native cuisine and the people he serves.

Best Pizza
Clover Leaf
6430 6th Ave., Tacoma. Clover Leaf serves the pies thin with a crisp crust glazed in their savory marinara and generously finished with healthy layers of shredded cheese and cooked-to-order meats and fresh veggies. Anchovies optional.

Best New Restaurant
Boathouse 19
9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma. The water’s edge just south of the Narrows Bridge resembles an eerie, desolate pier, but for those willing to wander, Boathouse 19 awaits like a pearl among a shore of oyster shells. The seasoning on their sweet potato fries is to die for.


Morso. Photo by Shawn Kinney.

Best Wine Shop/Wine Bar
9014 Peacock Hill Ave., Gig Harbor. Even when it’s raining, Morso’s is pouring. For every quarter inch of rain that collects in our frequently soggy Northwest, this people’s-choice wine bar extends happy hour another hour past 6pm.

Best Hole-In-The-Wall
Terry’s Office Tavern
3410 N. Proctor St., Tacoma. One of the first menus at The Office featured a “Young Chicken Dinner” for the cost of a quarter. The finished product was a hard-boiled egg. That foundation of good humor and everlasting spirit has snowballed into South Sound’s favorite hidden gem — a neighborhood gathering place since 1936. Enjoy a full menu of American classics today — the chili cheeseburger is a winner.

Best Coffee Shop
Various locations. Across the globe, Starbucks is filling up coffee cups and sending people on their way with caffeinated smiles.

Best Bar/Lounge
1022 South
1022 S. J St., Tacoma. Alchemy is art at 1022 South, where the bartenders stir, shake and swirl their thoughtful concoctions like genius scientists. The wall display behind the bar is stocked like an old library of unique assorted spirits. The menu is distinguished by three categories: literary, classics and apothecary.

Best Sandwich
MSM Deli
2220 6th Ave., Tacoma. MSM caters to a constant line of customers through its doors on a daily basis. The demand is constant and while the Mike’s Deluxe takes several minutes to be strategically dressed upon a foot-long baguette, it’s well worth the wait for all that goodness and a salty side pickle.

Best Brewery
7 Seas
3006 Judson St. #110, Gig Harbor. 7 Seas has been growing in popularity since 2008 and is now a household name in the South Sound. The brewery believes in “green” environmentally conscious practices, including donating spent grain to local farmers and packaging their suds in creatively labeled cans rather than bottles. Oh yeah, and the beer tastes good.

Best Bakery + Sweets
602 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma. Every morning, the alleys on one Tacoma hillside fill with the sweet fragrance of fresh-baked breads and pastries. There’s nothing in the glass display case not worth sampling. They even do wedding cakes! Readers voted Corina best bakery and best place to get sweets. Try their divine lavender shortbread cookies or a gooey mouthful of rumball ganache. Vegan and gluten-free options also are available.

Best Winery
Mosquito Fleet Winery
Hood Canal, Belfair. From birthing classes to a real estate venture to the Mosquito Fleet, the Petersens and the Griffins learned that between friendship and a few bottles of wine, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished. Visit their winery, named after the state’s first vineyard and the old steamboats, to sample a bottle.

Best Italian
Adriatic Grill
4201 S. Steele St., Tacoma. The menu here is chock-full of mouth-watering dishes — Salmon spiedini with roasted corn salad, rosemary polenta, roasted garlic escargot, bone-in rib-eye with espresso. Poetry for the foodie.

Best BBQ
Famous Dave’s
Tacoma, Puyallup. This West Coast chain helps remind us rain-soaked civilians that smoked meats don’t have to be a summer-only treat.

Best Vegetarian
AmeRAWcan Bistro
745 Saint Helens Ave., Tacoma. You don’t have to be a vegan or raw-tarian to enjoy the chef specialties at this new health conscious bistro full of flair or flavor. Try their collared green burrito and flax crackers before a slice of berry vanilla cobbler with hemp seed date crust.

Best Thai
1924 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. Creamy coconut martinis and saucers of spiced curry are only a snippet of the goodness that lies behind the draped windows at this downtown favorite. Be the first to try some of the new menu additions this spring. Or order the walnut shrimp and swoon.

Best Chinese
Three Sisters Tacoma Szechuan
9601 S. Tacoma Way, Lakewood Authenticity is of prime importance among the superb staff at Three Sisters. Try the Dan Dan noodles and anything with Szechuan peppercorn. Whether or not you like a fiery kick in each bite, this popular Chinese choice has plenty of options catered for your taste.

Arts + Entertainment

Best Night Club + Live Music Venue
2803 6th Ave., Tacoma. Located in the heart of Tacoma’s 6th Avenue, Jazzbones grabbed two awards for best night club and best live music venue. Maybe it’s because Jazzbones manages to make every evening feel like a long-awaited Friday night, be it rock-a-roke style Monday, live stand-up comedy Tuesday or the musicians throughout the week. Enjoy all that jazz while savoring the sushi bar and full menu.


Photo courtesy Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Best Family Friendly Activity
Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma. Meet the newest members of the zoo family, including Malayan tiger Berani and his best bud Dumai, the Sumatran tiger cub born last year.

Best Festival
Gig Harbor Summer Arts Festival
The 29th annual Gig Harbor Arts Festival will be held July 20 in the historic waterfront district. Readers love the live music and craft tables that showcase all the best local artists and the festival food and interactive crafts for kids.

Best Movie Theater
The Grand Cinema
606 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma. The Grand is one of the many quickly-disappearing first-run movie theaters and it’s a true Tacoma treasure. This nonprofit cinema is in the process of converting to digital projectors thanks to donors. Zach Powers, marketing director, said 2012 was the biggest attendance year yet. Upcoming events include the first 24-hour movie marathon in April and the annual Film Festival this fall.

Best Live Theater
901 Broadway No. 700, Tacoma. According to marketing director Lacey Leffler, the Pantages Theater is the crown jewel of downtown Tacoma. The theater serves as a community living room, showcasing world-class artists since 1918. This year’s lineup will include “Weird Al” Yankovic, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom with Peter Gros and a benefit concert for arts education with Tony Bennett.

Best Artist
Julian Peña
Visual artist Julian Peña says no matter where his artistic journey takes him he “will always be a Tacoman at heart.” He currently attends the University of Washington School of Art, where he continues to cultivate masterpieces of all forms, as influenced by his love for Japanese aesthetics. Follow his work on Facebook and Twitter, and keep an eye out for his collaboration with the Cumulus Collective, a network for recognizing and supporting local artists.

Best Karaoke
Engine House No. 9
611 N. Pine St., Tacoma. The old firehouse built in 1907 is still up and running, but now for a very different purpose — bringing the hard-working people of Tacoma karaoke favorites on Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 p.m. to close.

Best Gallery
Creative Forces
1320 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma. Located in the Hotel Murano, this Tacoma gallery features creations from local artists, including jewelry, fused glass, paintings and painted glass. Guests and locals are welcome to browse the wares, and of course purchase that perfect piece.

Best Museum
Tacoma Art Museum
1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. There is always something new and exciting happening at the Tacoma Art Museum, be it Warhol’s flower exhibit earlier this year or an upcoming visit from renowned artist Eric Carle. Enjoy free admission every third Thursday in correlation with the monthly downtown art walk. This year, they celebrate a 10th anniversary at their current location, topping off 78 years of bringing art to Tacoma.

Best Band
The Shy Boys
This quad-pod of best friends performs acoustic rock from the ’70s and ’80s by commonly covering hits from big names like The Eagles and Simon and Garfunkel. Witness the musical magic of band members Dave Jones, Dave Thomas, Mark Richards and Brad Jones. Check out their website for upcoming gigs.

Best Casino
Emerald Queen
Tacoma and Fife. When readers feel lucky, they head to one of the Emerald Queen casinos. At the Tacoma location, they can play 56 Vegas-style table games and more than 2,000 video slots and at the Fife location slots are offered as well as hotel rooms. Both locations offer buffets, restaurants and in Tacoma, live entertainment.

Fashion + Retail

Best Department Store + Best Shoe Store + Best Men’s Fashion
Tacoma Mall, 4502 S. Steele St., Tacoma. Once again, Nordstrom captured the lion’s share of South Sound readers’ votes when it comes to their favorite place to shop. They won best department store, best shoe store and best men’s fashion store. Not only do they offer a great selection of designer labels and brand names, but everything is backed by their stellar customer service.

Best Boutique
Sonja — Clothes to Live In
2510 N. Proctor St., Tacoma. Sonja — Clothes to Live In is the place readers go for unique styles, great brands and a convenient location. Plus she has those cool Gritty Tacoman tees that are so cute and clever.

Best Baby Store
Best Loved Baby
4002 S 12th St., Tacoma. To give your newborn the comfort he or she deserves, readers like Best Loved Baby, a store dedicated to bringing the words “natural,” “organic” and “comfortable” into baby’s life early.


Jessica Alexander. Photo by Kelly Hebb.

Best Local Designer
Jessica Alexander
Jessica Alexander of University Place makes jewelry and a line of ultra cute yoga clothes called Nutti Yogini. You can buy her South Sound-made stuff direct from her website.

Best Kids Store
Teaching Toys
Various locations. Readers chose “the best toy store in the galaxy” as the best kids store this year. Teaching Toys makes it their mission to ensure a happy childhood for all who shop there through the magic of good toys.

Best Thrift Store
714 27th St., Tacoma. If you’re looking to expand your wardrobe, but only have $20 in your pocket, head over to the Tacoma Goodwill to pop some tags. It’s readers’ favorite thrift shop.

Best Antique Store
Sanford & Sons
743 Broadway, Tacoma. Three floors, more than 20 shops and a long local history made Sanford & Sons a reader favorite to get lost treasure hunting.

Best Bookstore
King’s Books
218 St. Helens Ave. Tacoma. Being quirky, independent, and community-oriented and a member of the Stadium Business District are the characteristics that made King’s Books the readers’ choice for best bookstore. Featuring an estimated 150,000 books — used, new, rare and out-of-print — King’s is the place to go if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the world of literature.

Best Bridal Shop
The Wedding Bell
2914 6th Ave., Tacoma. The Wedding Bell took the cake again this year, earning the best bridal shop. The Wedding Bell has been helping brides make their wedding days pretty for 70 years, and readers say they are the tops.

Businesses + Services


Photo courtesy Blitz & Co.

Best Florist
Blitz & Co.
909 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. Flowers turn any day into a special occasion. Blitz is family-owned and operated and a reader favorite!

Best Auto Body Shop
Paramount Centre
6005 12th St. E., Fife. Two visionary leaders came together to create a leading facility in luxury collision repair.

Best Car Dealership
Titus-Will FordToyota Tacoma
3506 / 3606 S. Sprague Ave., Tacoma. Between the Ford and Toyota lots, Titus-Will is equipping drivers with new and previously owned vehicles. They have been serving locals for 75 years.

Best  Auto Repair
Ball Automotive
116 N. Tacoma Ave., Tacoma. The vintage-themed family auto shop specializes in repairs, car sales and gassing up engines and has since 1946.

Best Small Businesses
Creative Forces Gifts and Sundries
1320 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma. Follow Carolyn Osborne’s gallery on Facebook for the latest and greatest — a deck of Tacoma-inspired playing cards, bright and bold jewelry, elegant paintings and eclectic glassware.

Best Large Businesses
Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community
1301 N. Highlands Parkway, Tacoma. Tacoma Lutheran is proud to be one of the largest remaining nonprofit retirement homes in the South Sound — and it’s a repeat favorite of readers.

Best Bank
Columbia Bank
Various locations. Columbia Bank is proud to have the No.1 market share in Pierce County. Customer service and a positive contribution is the shared mission of their branches.

Best Credit Union
Harborstone Credit Union
Various locations. As a resource for both personal and business financing, Harborstone is happily referred to as the “UnBank” cultivated by member-owners rather than investors.

Best Lawyer
Warren Daheim of Gordon Thomas Honeywell
1201 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. Warren Daheim’s expertise encompasses real estate and commercial litigation. He was previously recognized as one of the best lawyers in America by Real Estate Law.

Best Real Estate Agent/Realtor
John Hurlbut of John L. Scott Real Estate
429 29th St. N.E., Puyallup. John Hurlbut is both ABR and GRI certified as well as a member of several real estate associations. He has more than 10 years experience.

Best Financial Advisor (TIE)
Brian Kampbell of Kampbell Financial LLC
4041 Ruston Way, Tacoma. Readers trust Brian Kampbell to help them invest now and for their future.

Ryan Boone of Morgan Stanley
33400 9th Ave., S. #100, Federal Way. “For me, retirement planning means more than providing my clients with investment advice,” Ryan Boone says. “It means helping them maintain the financial independence they’ve worked their whole lives to achieve.”

Best Office Space
Griot’s Garage
3333 S. 38th St., Tacoma. Griot’s may be the happiest place in town for cars and their owners.

Health + Beauty

Best Doctor
Robert Emerick of Choice Cardiovascular, PLLC
4423 Pt. Fosdick Drive N.W., Gig Harbor. Dr. Robert Emerick has been saving lives and ensuring optimal health and wellness of South Sounders since 2002 when he relocated to Washington from Tennessee with his wife and his three sons. Cardiovascular disease is his No. 1 nemesis and Emerick embracies new technology, research and education to help people live their best lives.

Best Hospital
St. Joseph Medical Center
1717 S. J St., Tacoma. A peculiar honeycomb building overlooks downtown Tacoma. Inside those little round windows is a 366-bed medical care center and the largest heart and vascular center in the region. St. Joseph rides at the forefront of medical innovation, offering less invasive cardiac catheterization/angiography studies performed through the wrist plus a full list of other healthcare needs.

Best Gym
Innovative Fitness
1105 Regents Blvd., Fircrest. The gym equipment and layout is one thing, but it’s the support and shared inspiration that brings this fitness center to the top of this year’s list. Push yourself to achieve fitness and health goals, knowing along the way that you’re never in the pursuit alone.

Best Physical Therapist
Ross Anderson of Anchor PT
1407 E. 72nd St. #A-100, Tacoma. South Sound applauds Ross Anderson on his practice backed by a 16-year-long professional pursuit in the name of orthopedic physical therapy. His patients are all ages and walks of life, and across the board they testify positive results.


Foxfire. Photo by Shawn Kinney.

Best Salon
Various locations. From hair treatments, trendy cuts and colors to extensions and styling, Foxfire will have you looking like the hottest thing on the block. The beauty professionals don’t believe in a bad-hair days.

Best Orthodontist
Doug Knight
1950 S. Cedar St. Suite D, Tacoma. As an Auburn native, Pacific Lutheran University and University of Washington grad, Knight sincerely values the happiness and welfare of his local patients. When he is not working with clients he is both a lecturer and author, spreading the good news of orthodontic practices and tooth alignment.

Dr. Karen Nelson
Franciscan Women’s Health Associates at St. Joseph, 1608 S. J St.,Tacoma. Dr. Nelson and her skilled team serve patients through the Franciscan Medical Group to offer patients the best in personal care. Her caring spirit, years of experience and knowledgeable yet gentle bedside manner earned her this top spot several times.

Best Naturopath
Anna Colombini
Peninsula Naturopathic Clinic, Gig Harbor; Serenity Spa and Natural Health Clinic, Tacoma, Dr. Colombini is a returning winner. She encourages the use of holistic therapies for her patients by honing in on counseling, nutrition, botanical medicine, therapeutic exercise and homeopathy. “The power of empowerment” is a theme she works and lives by.

Best Eye Care
Dr. Keith Dahlhauser of Cascade Eye and Skin
Various locations. The eyes are the window to the soul. This eyesight specialist has dramatically improved quality of life with more than 8,000 ocular surgery procedures and more.

Best Pediatrician
Dr. Thomas Herron of Harbor Pediatrics
6401 Kimball Drive, Gig Harbor. With four sons of his own, Dr. Thomas Herron has a heart for positively contributing to the lives of the next generation. He has been helping local families keep their children happy and healthy since 1986.

Best Spa
Savi Day Spa
1320 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma. Savi dubs itself a sanctuary for guests looking to escape the stress and grit of the city. Step into the spa adjacent to the Hotel Murano and be blanketed in serenity, thanks to a skilled, gentle, doting staff. Make every day feel like a luxury.

Best Beauty Products
Tacoma Mall & inside Tacoma JC Penney. Inquire with any Tacoma Mall Sephora consultant and they will give you an earful about ingredients, fragrances, colors and recommended products. The vision for beauty-retail of this caliber comes to us all the way from France where the concept began in 1970.

Best Tanning
Desert Sun
Various locations. Desert sun achieves gold again this year with its ultraviolet beds and sunless tanning options. Discover the benefits of vitamin-D at a salon near you.

Best Mani/Pedi
La Bella Nails
7 Tacoma Ave. N., Tacoma. This clean and inviting nail salon is a top pick for South Sound readers once again. They offer a full range of services to make your fingers and toes sparkle. And now you can get eyelash extensions there, too!

Best Chiropractor
Dr. Jason Stockton of Tacoma Family Chiropractic
1033 N. Tacoma Ave., Tacoma. The well-known local chiropractor of 14 years has earned his practice another year of recognition as a South Sound favorite. He has experience with professional and collegiate athletes whom he helps sustain and improve athletic ability.


Jesse Ewell of Innovative Fitness. Photo by Shawn Kinney.

Best Personal Trainer
Jesse Ewell of Innovative Fitness
1105 Regents Blvd., Fircrest. Enjoy one-on-one personal training from the South Sound’s preferred trainer in the fully equipped private studio. Achieve a happier, healthier lifestyle through dietary awareness, education and exercise.

Best Yoga Studio
Source Yoga
Various locations. Find your center. Hatha, pre- and post-natal yoga classes, workshops, special events and retreats are all offered at Source Yoga Studio. All packages and memberships are valid at both their University Place and North Tacoma locations.

Best Cosmetic Surgeon
Dr. Justin Piasecki of Harbor Plastic Surgery
11511 Canterwood Blvd. N.W., Gig Harbor. Plastic surgery doesn’t have to be a dramatic, intimidating experience. When clients seek services from Dr. Piasecki, they are greeted by his warm, reassuring expertise in a boutique-like setting where they are offered consultations and an extensive list of procedures.

Best Workout
Innovative Fitness
1105 Regents Blvd., Fircrest. Genuine life-changing success stories from real people like you. Join the gym for Saturday-morning boot camp, only $10 per session.

Best Massage
Dawn Hammer and Webster Foreman of Tacoma Family Chiropractic
1033 N. Tacoma Ave., Tacoma. Put the miracle-working hands of Hammer and Foreman to the test and discover the healing secret to your aches and pains. Extensive studies and years of practice earns the duo prestige for this sought-after skill.

Best Dentist
Karla Bloomquist of SoundBridge Center for Dental Arts
2727 Hollycroft St. #280, Gig Harbor. Dr. Karla Bloomquist’s bright smile reflects the attention and care with which she treats each and every patient. She opened her clinic in 2005 and the business continues to flourish today, carrying on the memory of her late husband and their shared legacy.

Home + Garden


Darren Dickerson of Coyote Design. Photo by Dane Gregory Meyer. 

Best Architect
Darren Dickerson of Coyote Design
1320 Alameda Ave. W. Suite A, Fircrest. The success of Coyote Design is carried on the shoulders of Darren Dickerson, a mastermind in the realm of architectural planning and execution. Each project is perfectly tailored to the needs and interests of his clients. Coyote Design homes have been featured in past issues of South Sound magazine.

Best Interior Designer
Infusion Interior Design
7513 Custer Rd. W., Lakewood. Swing by their Lakewood showroom and start brainstorming on how to give your casa a makeover. Because there’s no place like home, especially one created with this highly-recommended design team.

Best Garden/Nursery
6211 Pioneer Way E., Puyallup. Discover your green thumb with tools, tips and tricks from Watson’s. Not only will they equip you with the materials, seeds and soils you need to make your garden dreams reality, but they also will instill you with the knowledge necessary to keep those dreams (and plants) alive for years to come.

Best Builder
Harrison Homes
5720 144th St. N.W., Gig Harbor. Readers say homes built by Harrison Homes are the best. The company has a goal of 100 percent customer satisfaction — it must be working.

Best Landscaper
Olympic Landscape and Irrigation Co.
4310 70th Ave. E., Fife. Transform your property into a personal sanctuary with the handiwork of Olympic Landscape. Live outside of the box and customize your space. Incorporate their irrigation, sprinkler, outdoor pond and lighting services and make your neighbors envious.

Best Kitchen and Bath Designer
Leslie Jensen Signature Design & Cabinetry LLC
911 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. You don’t have to be a desperate housewife to appreciate a quality kitchen or bathroom design. Readers look to Leslie Jensen to get the job done right. Her stunning portfolio spans all degrees of style and function — her work has been featured in South Sound magazine and she has a long list of awards. She’s a leader in her industry.

Best Remodeler
SE Construction
409 5th St. N.W., Puyallup. Seasons come and seasons go, and every few years the walls can use a fresh layer of paint, a new splash of color and a pop of style. Readers look to SE Construction to take care of the dirty work and beautify spaces.

Best Hardware Store
Ace Hardware
Various locations. Ace is the place that encourages you to take matters into your own handy hands and conquer the leaky faucet once and for all.

Best Appliances
Albert Lee
4124 Tacoma Mall Blvd., Tacoma. Modern technology is changing the world of appliances. Albert Lee is stocked with the newest gadgets to help make your life a little easier.

Best Furniture
Old Cannery
13608 Valley Ave. E., Sumner. Search like Goldilocks for the furniture that fits you just right or take a smart shortcut by turning to the Old Cannery for a variety of styles and functions at your fingertips.


Best Elementary + Middle School + High School
Charles Wright
7723 Chambers Creek Rd. W., Tacoma. Readers say Charles Wright offers the best elementary and middle school education, and it also tied for the top spot for best high school, too. That’s a lot of kudos! The votes poured in for Charles Wright because parents appreciate the knowledgeable teaching staff, the top-notch programs, the stunning campus and results. A long list of successful Charles Wright alums is proof the school is making a positive difference in more ways than can be quantified.

Best High School (TIE)
NW Christian
4710 Park Center Ave. N.E., Lacey. High school can be both mentally and emotionally challenging. Help ease that burden by enrolling your teen into one of the best private schools in Western Washington.

Best Summer Camp
Steve & Kate’s Campat Charles Wright Academy
7723 Chambers Creek Rd. W., Tacoma. “Our camp conforms to kids, not the other way around … the difference is subtle — and it’s profound.” Their 33-year-old philosophy encourages learning. Dance, stop motion animation, sports, culinary arts and more are taught.

Best Preschool
Celebration Friends Preschool
2500 Shaw Rd. E., Puyallup. The curriculum emphasizes positive personal and social habits, along with school readiness and an underlying theme of Christian ethics.

Best Teacher
Miss Vera Clowers of Celebration Friends Preschool
2500 Shaw Rd. E., Puyallup. Miss Clowers is one of four lead teachers at Celebration Friends Preschool.

Best Birthday Place (TIE)
Charlie’s Safari
5400 Martin Way E., Lacey. Your kids will never forget that epic year when they rang in their birthday at the animal kingdom-themed playhouse. Expend infinite energy in Big Game Hunt laser tag and the inflatable jungle gym, work up an appetite and dine-in at the restaurant.

9808 44th Ave. N.W. #102, Gig Harbor. Let your kids be kids on their big day. Jump into the excitement at this popular Gig Harbor party center jam-packed with inflatable fun in a clean, green, safe environment.

Best Daycare
Patti Cakes Daycare
11009 21st St. Ct. E., Edgewood. Run out of a loving local residence in Edgewood, the atmosphere is inviting and cozy with a homeschool feel and safety assurance. Ms. Patti and Ms. Ronee work by the phrase, “loving care when you’re not there.”

Best Youth Group
Tacoma Youth Chorus
4009 Bridgeport Way W., University Place. The Tacoma Youth Chorus is welcoming the local kids, constructively directing their energy and unveiling the greatness in each of them.



Unleashed Dog Daycare. Photo by Shawn Kinney.

Best Doggy Daycare
Unleashed Dog Daycare
5624 S. Durango St., Tacoma. Four-legged friends frolic and play in the spacious indoor and outdoor designated areas while under the close supervision of affectionate animal experts. Unleashed also offers a hydrotherapy pool and massage services to pamper your pup.

Best Vet
Ann Marie Thiessen of Chambers Creek Veterinary Hospital
7210 Bridgeport Way W., Lakewood. South Sound readers voted Dr. Ann Marie Thiessen as their most valued vet because of her endless patience and gentle demeanor since she graduated from University of Washington and began working with the hospital in August 1999.

Best Groomer
Tacoma’s Best Pet Grooming
3411 6th Ave. E., Tacoma; It’s all in the name. Sixteen years ago, a Californian pet groomer moved her practice from the sunny state to the wet-dog state of Washington. Her team has been helping furry friends look and smell their best since. South Sound readers are picky about their pet care and Tacoma’s Best Pet Grooming is a repeat winner.

Best Pet Park
Fort Steilacoom Off-Leash Dog Park
8714 87th Ave. S.W., Lakewood. Mingle with fellow dog owners while your pets make friends of their own at Fort Steilacoom Dog Park — a massive mile around and arranged with plenty of benches and shaded green.

Best Pet Store
Lucky Dog Outfitters
3411 6th Ave., Tacoma Fido’s featured one-stop shop this year is the Lucky Dog Outfitters. Find food, toys, gifts and more at this poochie boutique.

Travel + Recreation

Best Northwest Travel Destination + Hike
Mount Rainier
Take a day trip, picnic by a river, hike through woods, sled from the tip, or lodge in a log cabin for the weekend. South Sound readers say Mount Rainier is the best Northwest travel destination and the best place to hike.

Best Hotel + Spa + Small Business + Gallery
Hotel Murano
Several South Sound favorites come together within the walls of the Hotel Murano, including the best spa, small business and gallery. Come see what all the fuss is about as you walk through the aesthetically pleasing, art-adorned halls
and common areas displaying international work all offered on top of the popular lounge and the comfortable, luxurious rooms.

Best Bed & Breakfast
Hedman House
502 9th St. S.W., Puyallup. Picture the cutest little cottage you’ve ever seen framed by a white picket fence in the lush garden that is the Puyallup Valley. The building itself is a 1907 traditional farmhouse, and the character and charm of the owners make it a real treat. Your home away from home.

Best Golf Course
Chambers Bay
6320 Grandview Dr. W., University Place. Chambers Bay is a Scottish-links style course overlooking the Puget Sound. A perfect backdrop for a business meeting or a wedding, and soon it will host the 2015 U.S. Open Championship.


Kiana Lodge. Photo by Paul Dudley Photography.

Best Wedding
Kiana Lodge
14976 Sandy Hook Rd. N.E., Poulsbo. The Native American origins of the Kiana Lodge inspired its name, meaning “Garden of the Gods.” Such a label seems appropriate when you come face to face with sandy beaches and sun-kissed tree tops across the water.

Best Kid Friendly
Great Wolf Lodge
20500 Old Highway 99 S.W., Centralia. The Great Wolf Lodge hosts a long list of performers and events all year long if you’re not completely distracted by the huge indoor water park at this unbelievable family getaway. South Sounders can truly appreciate the ability to have a good time, rain or shine.

Best Park
Point Defiance Park
5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma. Point Defiance is a whole world of its own. The thematic gardens, zoo and aquarium, five-mile drive, waterfront and lookout points are only a few of the attractions spanning the 702-acre piece of land. The park history unravels as far back as 1888 when the property was relinquished from its previous purpose as a military reservation.

Your Local Favorite

Best City
The City of Destiny is South Sound readers’ favorite city because of its budding business districts, a culture rich in history and the fiery artistic spirit that’s stirring. It probably helped that Tacoma is the South Sound’s largest city. About 200,000 people call Tacoma home, making the city the state’s third-largest behind Seattle and Spokane.

Best Blog
A decade ago, no one knew how vast the blogging world would become. So when Exit 133 launched its site in 2005, few people imagined it would become the go-to community board resource it is today. Story topics touch on urban design, politics, real estate and the arts, among other things Tacoma.

Best Event
Washington State Fair
110 9th Ave. S.W., Puyallup. Onion burgers and fresh-baked scones fill the Puyallup air with the smell of the fair for 17 days every September. Live music, animals, art, rides and more make this the event not to be missed according, to South Sound readers. The name recently changed from Puyallup Fair to Washington State Fair because it is the largest fair in the state. It began in 1900.

Best Nonprofit
Franciscan Foundation
1149 Market St., Tacoma. The Franciscan Foundation is an outlet for the Franciscan Health System to receive and distribute donations to those in need of the facilities and programs.


Vicci Martinez. Photo by Andrew Zaeh.

Best Celebrity
Vicci Martinez
This 20-something guitarist and vocalist from Tacoma is a Stadium High School graduate who earned celebrity status after winning third place on NBC’s “The Voice” in 2011. Her music career began in 2005 with her debut album, but her fame grew after her television appearance. Her talent and success are an inspiration to her supportive hometown.

First photo by Jeff Hobson; second, sixth, seventh and ninth photos by Shawn Kinney; third photo courtesy Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium; fourth photo by Kelly Hebb; fifth photo courtesy Biltz & Co.; eighth photo by Dane Gregory Meyer; tenth photo courtesy Paul Dudley Photography; eleventh photo by Andrew Zaeh

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