The Best of the South Sound 2016

Over the past several months, we’ve polled our readers to find their favorite spots around the South Sound. Businesses aiming to win petitioned their clients for votes, too, all hoping for a coveted Best of the South Sound title. From cheap eats to best brunches to the best spots in the great outdoors, this is your reader-voted guide to the South Sound.

Arts and Entertainment

Photo courtesy “World Famous Bob’s Java Jive” ©2008 Ahren, creative commons

Bob’s Java Jive. Photo courtesy “World Famous Bob’s Java Jive” ©2008 Ahren, creative commons

Best Karaoke
Bob’s Java Jive
Bob’s Java Jive once played host to some of the hottest up-and-coming rock stars, like 1960s sensation The Ventures, and its famous coffee-pot-shaped building has a cameo in Cameron Crowe’s movie Say Anything. These days, its stage welcomes folks who want to channel their inner Madonna or belt out ballads. Fun fact: Bob’s was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, so you can test your karaoke chops in a true Tacoma landmark. Tacoma

Best Festival
Tehaleh’s Harvest Day
In Tehaleh, a planned community, autumn is something to celebrate. For the past few years, the community has welcomed the season with dozens of fall festivities. Kids love getting their faces painted, and people of all ages snack on complimentary street food and reach new heights with hot-air balloon rides. You might even find a new home; with all-day showings of Tehaleh’s model homes, it’s a definite possibility. Bonney Lake

Best Movie Theater
The Grand Cinema
The magic and glamour of moviegoing are alive and well at The Grand Cinema. Supported by volunteers and patrons, this nonprofit gives screen time to independent, foreign, and local films in its cozy auditoriums. It also hosts the Tacoma Film Festival and special series, such as free family flicks and classic movies. Did we mention there is real butter on the popcorn? Tacoma

Best Live Theater
Tacoma Musical Playhouse
Ragtime, Into the Woods, West Side Story — all have graced the stage at Tacoma Musical Playhouse. As the largest community theater in the Pacific Northwest, musical theater is thriving in Tacoma at TMP. It has entertained audiences for more than 20 years. Tacoma

Best Casino
Emerald Queen Casino
They say that green is a lucky color, so who wouldn’t want to try their hand at Emerald Queen Casino? Between two locations, the self-dubbed “Entertainment Capital of the Northwest” has over 3,000 games for you to test your luck. Tacoma

Best Art Gallery 
Creative Forces Gifts & Sundries
Located in the Hotel Murano, Creative Forces Gifts & Sundries features only the finest arts and crafts. Whether you’re looking for a unique gift, or want a stunning art piece for your home, this is the place to find everything beautiful, from jewelry to sculpture to vases and beyond. Tacoma

Photo by Rachel Coward

Photo by Rachel Coward

Best Local Celebrity
Sonics Guy
It’s been eight years since the Seattle SuperSonics left the Emerald City, but Sonics Guy (alter ego of Comedy Underground manager Kris Brannon) is still hopeful the team will return to the Northwest. Chances are, you’ve seen him decked out in green and gold at local events or just out and about.

Best Museum
LeMay — America’s Car Museum
Life is a highway, and over the years, America’s freeways have seen some truly incredible cars. Housing more than 300 cars, trucks, and motorcycles, LeMay — America’s Car Museum offers a taste of America’s rich automotive culture. The space near the Tacoma Dome also has a picturesque view of the city. Tacoma

Best Ballet 
Tacoma City Ballet
Since 1955, Tacoma City Ballet has been bringing stories to life through the beauty of classical ballet. Every year it helps bring the holiday spirit to the city with a production of The Nutcracker. Kids can look forward to a Storybook Ballet Theatre Fairytale Tea Party hosted by the company. Tacoma

Business and Services

Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel. Photo by Oona Copperhill

Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel. Photo by Oona Copperhill

Best Small Business
Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel
When you suffer a serious personal injury, your life can change in an instant. That’s why South Sound readers turn to Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel for help. Formerly known as Messina Bulzomi Christensen, the firm has won awards for top-notch lawyers, who work across the board on personal injury cases, such as vehicle accidents, workplace injuries, and more. Tacoma

Best Medium Business
Pacific Air Systems
Living in the Pacific Northwest, we know that the weather has a mind of its own. During blazing summers and chilly winters, Pacific Air Systems has been keeping homes at the perfect temperature for more than 30 years. With weekly training sessions for HVAC technicians, staff members are prepared for any storm or heat wave. Lakewood

Best Large Business + best Bank 
Columbia Bank
While the business has expanded all over the Northwest, Columbia Bank has maintained the personal touch of a neighborhood bank. Founded in Tacoma in 1993, the bank prides itself on supporting businesses, managing money, and always putting people first. Various locations

Best Credit Union
Originally established for Boeing employees, BECU is now the largest credit union in the state, serving more than 925,000 members. Despite its size, BECU still provides personalized service. Various locations 

Best Attorney
Antonio Garguile

The verdict is in. When it comes to their legal needs, South Sound readers turn to Antonio “Tony” Garguile. After joining the Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden, he has made a name for himself as a lawyer locals trust. Lakewood

Best Auto Body Shop
Collision Specialists
We get it: Sometimes your ride needs a little repair. That’s where Collision Specialists comes in. Whether you need to fix a tiny fender bender or remove a sizable dent, Collision Specialists will get your vehicle back to shape in no time. Tacoma

Best Auto Repair
Midland Automotive
For some people, their car is their baby. While a good mechanic can be hard to find, readers know that they can leave their trusty steed with Midland Automotive. A team of trained technicians will help you get your wheels back on the road. Tacoma

Best Car Dealership
Titus-Will Automotive Group
With dealerships across Washington, it’s clear that Titus-Will knows automobiles. The name has been around for almost 80 years. Whether you’re searching for a brand-new car or gently-used vehicle, their teams can help you find some new wheels — without denting your budget. Various locations

Andy and Ruthy Taylor, Andy Taylor Homes. Photo by Nathaniel Buck

Andy and Ruthy Taylor, Andy Taylor Homes. Photo by Nathaniel Buck

Best Real Estate Agent/Realtor
Andy Taylor Homes
Home is where the heart is, and that’s how Andy Taylor Homes got started. More than five years ago, Taylor and his wife, Ruthy, began their real estate business, which has since become a local favorite. In 2015, the team helped 133 buyers find their dream homes, and assisted 58 sellers in putting houses on the market. University Place 

Best Financial Advisor
The Golden Stone Group at Morgan Stanley
South Sound families trust The Golden Stone Group with their investments. With more than 100 years of combined experience, The Golden Stone group knows that each client is unique and treats them as such. If you haven’t already, stop by and see how it can help you secure your family’s future. Federal Way

Best Office Space
The Post at Tehaleh
At The Post, Tehaleh’s community information center, rustic features are combined with modern architecture to create a truly memorable space. Personal touches, such as an outdoor fire pit and a warming hut, complete the office. Bonney Lake

Best Insurance
Fournier Insurance Solutions
Fournier Insurance started in a small bedroom in Montesano, and has grown to include South Sound locations in University Place and Gig Harbor. Readers trust Fournier with all their insurance needs because its staff is dedicated to doing it right. Various locations

Kyle Rohrbaugh. Photo by Kristal Joy Photography

Kyle Rohrbaugh. Photo by Kristal Joy Photography

Best Mortgage Lender
Kyle Rohrbaugh
Let’s be honest: Mortgages can be stressful. At RPM Mortgage, Kyle Rohrbaugh helps ease the process of purchasing a new home. As this year’s top mortgage lender, Rohrbaugh has extensive experience in guiding clients through the tricky loan process, helping folks find the best solution for their financial needs. After closing nearly 200 loans annually for the past few years, he’s also been recognized as a top 1 percent loan originator. Gig Harbor

Best Florist
Blitz & Co. Florist
Flowers are always in bloom at Blitz & Co. Whether you need a small arrangement or you’re decorating your whole party with flowers, be sure to stop by and smell the roses (and carnations, and lilacs) at Blitz. Tacoma

Best Eyewear
Suburban Opticians
For truly spec-tacular eyewear, Suburban Opticians makes sure that you see the world in style. With one of the largest inventories of designer frames and sunglasses in the area, it has dozens of options for you to switch up your look. University Place 

Best Nonprofit
Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community
At Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community, residents and their comfort are the focus of the staff. It tries to help improve the quality of life for everyone who calls it home. Acting as a CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community), this nonprofit offers a variety of housing options, with increased levels of care depending on seniors’ needs. It has comprehensive rehabilitation services, with one of the largest senior therapy gyms in the Northwest. Tacoma

Fashion and Retail

King’s Books. Photo by Rachel Coward

King’s Books. Photo by Rachel Coward

Best BookStore
King’s Books
We love a good bookstore, and King’s Books is one of the best. As the largest used and new independent bookstore in the area, King’s Books is a local staple. Be sure to snuggle up with Atticus, the store cat. We hear he’s a pretty good bookseller himself. He might even lead you to a new favorite. Tacoma

Best Thrift store 
Make like Macklemore and pop some tags at Goodwill. From vintage pieces to designer duds, you’ll find some serious steals. By shopping at Goodwill, you help fund the job training and educational services Goodwill provides to thousands of people each year. Now that’s something to sing about. Various locations

Best Antique Shop
The Key Antiques
Every object has a story. At The Key Antiques, that couldn’t be more true. From family heirlooms to vintage trinkets, each piece has a rich history that is just waiting to be added to your home. Ranging from brass candlesticks to tea sets, you’ll no doubt find your latest treasure in The Key Antiques’ trove. Lakewood

Best Kids Store
Teaching Toys and Books
Combining work and play, the products at Teaching Toys help kids learn outside of the classroom. Since 1981, they’ve sold award-winning toys and books that encourage kids of all ages to exercise their imagination (not to mention, their brains). Various locations

Best Baby Store
Charlie Barnes
It can be a struggle to find unique baby clothes and local, environmentally friendly baby products. Luckily, at Charlie Barnes, you can find the latest petite and practical styles. South Sound readers are ga-ga over Charlie Barnes’ mom-approved products. Gig Harbor 

Vicki Jean Handmade Leather. Photo by Trilogie Studios

Vicki Jean Handmade Leather. Photo by Trilogie Studios

Best Local Fashion Designer 
Vicki Jean Handmade Leather
Vicki Dyer sells handmade totes, cross-body bags, and zipper pouches out of her storefront on Harborview Drive in Gig Harbor. They’re made out of fine leather and come in an array of colors and styles. The best thing about Vicki Jean bags is that they’re the quality of designer purses, without the big price tags. Gig Harbor

Best Jeweler
Kantor Diamond Company
No matter what type of jewelry you’re looking for, the pieces at Kantor Diamond Company add glitz and glamour to any occasion. Tacoma

Best Bridal Shop
The Wedding Bell
It’s your big day, and all eyes are on you. Make sure you step out in style with a visit to The Wedding Bell. Established in 1945, it’s helped generations of brides-to-be say “yes” to the dress. With the help of a sophisticated staff, you can browse more than 700 bridal gowns until you find “the one.” Tacoma 


Evolve Home. Photo courtesy Evolve Home via Facebook

Best Boutique
Evolve Home
Evolve Home is your one-stop shop for all things home and apparel. With a carefully curated selection of gifts, home decor, and women’s clothing, it caters to the Northwest woman. If you want to switch up your wardrobe or home, it’ll help your style evolve. Tacoma

Best Men’s Clothier 
Whether you want to suit up (Barney Stinson, anyone?) or just grab some new kicks, Nordstrom has you covered. The upscale fashion retailer has been styling men since its 1901 opening in Seattle. Various locations

Food and Drink

Best Romantic Dinner
Chef Eddie Williams’ menu complements a romantic dinner, with dishes like the duck and dumplings, and eggplant parmigiana. The small, intimate Gig Harbor eatery is a five-time Best of the South Sound winner, and it’s no wonder it’s taking the prize home again. Gig Harbor

Corina Bakery. Photo by Julia Sumpter

Corina Bakery. Photo by Julia Sumpter

Best Bakery
Corina Bakery
Of all the sweet spots in the South Sound, this Tacoma gem takes the cake. You can taste Corina’s treats at its Fawcett Street location, or you can sample the baked goods in coffee shops around town like Metronome and Bertolinos. Everything is made from scratch, which means it can accommodate folks with dietary restrictions, too. If you’re looking for a custom cake, or just a really, really good scone, look no further than Corina. Tacoma

Best Cheap Eats
The Red Hot
Tacoma’s The Red Hot has made its mark as Tacoma’s favorite cheap grub spot. Check the chalkboard for a large selection of Northwest beers and ciders to go with your hot dog. Vegetarian or vegan? The Red Hot has vegan hot dogs, brats, and kielbasa. With dogs starting at $4.25, The Red Hot is the cheap place to eat well on a budget. And if you’re looking for a good hot dog while celebrating America’s Pastime, The Red Hot serves hot dogs at Cheney Stadium during Rainiers games. Tacoma

Best Sushi
Trapper’s Sushi
Whether you’re eating a roll or big feast, you can eat until you’re stuffed with the different All-You-Can-Eat lunch and dinner specials at Trapper’s. With locations all around the South Sound, Trapper’s is really on a roll. Various locations

Best Grocery Store
Metropolitan Market
This Proctor-area grocery store is the South Sound’s favorite place to shop for groceries in style. It’s also a great place to grab lunch, with a full salad bar and some of the freshest pizza, soups, and sandwiches in town. The store also made an important contribution to the world of sweets: The Cookie. Tristan Ambrose spent years traveling and experimenting to create a cookie that was so good it could only be named The Cookie. Try it — it’s an experience. Various locations

Best Brewery
7 Seas Brewing
With beers like “Rude Parrot Single IPA” and “253 Pilsner,” 7 Seas Brewing has made its mark on the nationwide beer scene. The Gig Harbor-based taproom and brewery is a great place to meet friends, or fill your growler. The brewery will soon expand in the South Sound, opening a new taproom in Tacoma on Jefferson Street. Gig Harbor 

Best Barbecue
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
Meat, sauce, and sides: Barbecue is the ultimate comfort food, and Dickey’s is the place to go. With locations throughout the South Sound, the Texas-based chain has a delicious presence in this neck of the woods. Various locations

Best Hole-In-The-Wall + Best Sandwich
MSM Deli
This place bills itself as “Magical Sandwich Makers,” and that is the truth. There’s a reason Tacoma flocks to Sixth Avenue at lunchtime. While it might look like nothing more than a convenience store, inside the magical sandwich makers themselves are hard at work serving up the best thing since sliced bread: lots of meat and cheese and veggies between sliced bread. Can’t decide which meat to get on your sandwich? Why not get multiple! With the Mike’s Deluxe you get turkey, roast beef, and ham along with both swiss and cheddar, and lettuce, sprouts, mayo, onions, pickles, and tomatoes. Tacoma

Best Doughnut Shop
Pao’s Donut & Coffee Shop
There are all sorts of doughnuts out there; some with piled-high frosting, some covered in candy, and others decorated with breakfast cereal. That’s not Pao’s style; it’s perfected the maple bar and, according to readers, its classic doughnuts are the best around. If you show up to work with a box from Pao’s, you’re probably on the way to being employee of the year. Tacoma

Heritage Distilling. Photo by Liz Morrow

Heritage Distilling. Photo by Liz Morrow

Best Distillery
Heritage Distilling Co.
When it opened in 2012, Gig Harbor’s Heritage Distillery was one of the first distilleries in the South Sound since Prohibition ended. And it’s a distillery the region can be proud of, racking up national awards. A tasting room on the corner of Harborview and Pioneer Way in downtown Gig Harbor opened in fall 2014. You can try any of the distillery’s spirits, but you can also make your own. Heritage runs a “My Batch” program where you can barrel-age your own spirits on-site. Gig Harbor

Best Vietnamese food
Vien Dong
Tacoma’s Lincoln neighborhood is a culinary goldmine. Vien Dong, which has been there since 1989, is one of the best places for a dinner out. We could list all sorts of great things about the menu, but you really should see pho yourself. Tacoma

Best Breakfast/Brunch + Best Fine Dining + Best Lunch + Best Restaurant + Best Seafood + Best Service
Lobster Shop
South Sound readers really love Lobster Shop. The restaurant on Ruston Way is the best place for seafood, brunch, fine dining, service, and overall according to voters. And that view! The menu is always changing to reflect what’s in season. People love the Sunday brunch where they can sample everything from prawns and crab, to sweet desserts. Tacoma

Best Italian food
Marzano Italian Restaurant
Italian food with a Northwest twist, Marzano’s is a great place to celebrate the culinary legacy of Italy. Chef Elisa Marzano grew up in Northern Italy and brings her talents to the two-bedroom house converted to an intimate, welcoming restaurant. Parkland

Bill Trudnowski of Adriatic Grill

Bill Trudnowski of Adriatic Grill

Best Mediterranean food + Best Chef
Adriatic Grill and Bill Trudnowski
Chef Bill Trudnowski of Adriatic Grill presents a contemporary take on classic Mediterranean dishes, and that’s why South Sound readers single him out from the rest. The menu at Adriatic Grill features skewered caprese salads, grilled lamb, and a diverse wine bar. Tacoma

Best Pizza
The Cloverleaf
It takes a little longer to cook a Cloverleaf pizza, but it’s worth the wait because it is one of a kind. It has a unique, airy crust that’s handmade daily and comes slathered in red sauce and full of toppings. Order it to go or chow down with a cold beer at the classic favorite that opened in 1958. Tacoma

Best Outdoor Dining
Tides Tavern
Cold beer, delicious food, and one heck of a view: all the ingredients for a perfect, Northwest night, and the Tides Tavern has all of that. In downtown Gig Harbor, visit the deck in the warm months for a great view of Mount Rainier and the calm, serene harbor. Gig Harbor

Best French food 
French food may bring connotations of stuffy restaurants filled with snooty people, but Aviateur’s adventurous and modern take shows how dynamic French food can be. With a hip interior designed by Hayden Collective, this restaurant offers French food done right. Tacoma

Best Boutique Winery + Best Wine Shop + Best Winery
Westport Winery
Nestled between Westport and Aberdeen is Westport Winery Garden Resort. If you’re headed toward the coast, look for the lighthouse to find the winery, which just celebrated another anniversary. Visit, and sample more than 30 different wines, and enjoy a farm-to-table meal. Aberdeen

Moctezumas. Photo courtesy Moctezumas

Moctezumas. Photo courtesy Moctezumas

Best Mexican food
Moctezuma’s is a little taste of Mexico in the South Sound with a mix of both traditional and contemporary cuisine. There are the old standbys like tacos, burritos, and nachos, but there’s also the option to branch out with one of many fresh items from the kitchen. For more than 35 years, the Garcia family has served up delicious Mexican food. Various locations

Best Thai food
Silk Thai Café
Thai food is known for its layered, flavorful cuisine, and Silk Thai does that to perfection. With classic dishes and different specials, Silk Thai has been a Tacoma go-to since 2003. The restaurant also accommodates everyone, with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes. Tacoma

Best Drive-In
Frisko Freeze
The fast-food classic was named to the Tacoma Register of Historic Places in 2008. And with good reason. The glittering neon arrow has pointed Tacoma travelers in the direction of a good burger and shake since 1950. The menu hasn’t changed much. There are still the burgers, cheeseburgers, onion rings, and milkshakes. Tacoma

Best Coffee Shop
Cutters Point Coffee Co.
Cutters Point is coffee with a community focus. It started in 1995 in Gig Harbor and began roasting its own coffee in 2001. The name is rooted in deeper history. It’s inspired by the cutter boats piloted by Peter Puget and Joseph Whidbey in 1792, when they landed on Point Fosdick. The roaster is on the cutting edge of coffee; it’s one of the first micro-roasted coffeemakers to offer K-Cup pods.
Various locations

Best Happy Hour + Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant + Best Dessert + Best Burger
Boathouse 19
On Narrows Marina, Boathouse 19 offers two happy hours: 3-6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close. With both a bar and family dining sections, there’s something for everyone. Readers recommend the burgers; try the California Burger, which is topped with avocado, chipotle mayo, and pico de gallo. Or keep it simple with the All American Burger, which has the restaurant’s delicious “Boathouse Sauce.” Tacoma

Best Chinese food
Jade Palace
Chinese restaurant Jade Palace is a University Place institution. For years, diners have filled up on tasty chow mein, coconut prawns, noodles, and more. University Place

Best Food Truck
Readers voted this Vietnamese food truck the best thing on four wheels. To keep track of when the tasty banh mi machine is rolling into your neighborhood, follow the truck on social media at VietNom Nom on Facebook. 

Asado. Photo by Jeff Hobson

Asado. Photo by Jeff Hobson

Best Steak
Argentine grill Asado has a whole menu featuring smoking, sizzling steaks. There’s sirloin, rib steak, tenderloin, and flat iron. In addition to standby menu items, Asado also has a seasonal steak option that’s ever-changing. One of the only Argentine restaurants in the South Sound, Asado does a steak like no other. Tacoma

Best Vegetarian food
While it may be tucked away in the back of a building on Proctor, Viva stands out when it comes to vegetarian, vegan, and raw food. Statements like “healthy eating” may bring about connotations of boring, weedy salads, but Chef Francisco “Paco” Hernandez has created an exciting menu. For example, there are “wings” made out of cauliflower, and raw tacos served on handmade blue corn tortillas and drizzled with cashew “sour cream.” And the mac ’n’ cheese? It’s not quite the noodles and goo you might think. The raw version is made of quinoa and corn “noodles” mixed into cashew cheese sauce. It’s comfort food for the dairy-intolerant. Tacoma

Best New Restaurant
Indo Asian Street Eatery
It didn’t take long for Indo Asian Street Eatery, which opened last July, to make its mark on Tacoma. The restaurant offers a lot of ways to sample different flavors with a menu that’s inspired by the street food of Southeast Asia. Chef Yu Nana grew up on the streets of Bangkok and perfected his art for 10 years working at Indochine in downtown Tacoma. Try small plates like the grilled skewers or the street snacks like spring rolls and hot wings. Tacoma

Pacific Grill Photo courtesy Pacific Grill

Pacific Grill Photo courtesy Pacific Grill

TIE  Best Bar
Pacific Grill
Pacific Grill, located in the heart of downtown Tacoma, is an award-winning restaurant. It’s a great place for a romantic dinner, a lunch with coworkers, or a drink at the end of the day. Try the tapas-style appetizers if you’re feeling social, or savor your very own New York steak. Tacoma

TIE  Best Bar
Tanglewood Grill
Gig Harbor’s Tanglewood Grill is the readers’ choice for best bar, and it’s not hard to see why. With an early evening and an after-dinner happy hour, Tanglewood offers classic cocktails like lemon drops, martinis, mojitos, and more. Gig Harbor

Best Indian food
Gateway to India
Gateway to India serves delicious food on both sides of the Narrows Bridge. The lunch buffet is a great way to try all of the powerful flavors that are a hallmark of Indian cuisine. Various locations

Best Japanese food
Since 1984, Fujiya has been the premier Japanese sushi house in Tacoma. Masahiro Endo has been crafting sushi and passing his knowledge on to others since the restaurant opened in downtown Tacoma. He brings more than 40 years of experience to Fujiya and the prestige of being the pioneer of sushi in Tacoma. Tacoma

Health and Beauty

Dr. Justin H. Piasecki. Photo by Tom Owen

Dr. Justin H. Piasecki. Photo by Tom Owen

Best Doctor 
Dr. Justin H. Piasecki
Dr. Justin Piasecki is a plastic surgeon at Harbor Plastic Surgery Center. He is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and is also fellowship trained in Mohs surgery. He expertly removes skin cancers, and erases the damage. He is trusted by readers. Gig Harbor

Best OB-GYN 
Dr. Karen M. Nelson
Dr. Karen M. Nelson with CHI Fransciscan knows how to care for women at all stages of life. An experienced surgeon who does minimally invasive procedures, she was an early adopter of robotic surgery, helping women in critical need. Gig Harbor/Tacoma

Best Cosmetic Surgeon 
Dr. Khash Dehghan
Dr. Khash Dehghan, of Artistic Plastic Surgery Center, has been in private practice since 1999. His areas of expertise are in comprehensive plastic, cosmetic, and reconstructive surgical procedures of the face, breasts, and body. Tacoma

Best Pediatrician 
Dr. Bruce Davies
Dr. Bruce Davies knows that children are at their best when they’re healthy and happy. That’s why he’s worked at University Place Pediatric Clinic for years, assuring patients and their parents the best health care possible. Fircrest

Best Hospital 
MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital 
MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital offers thorough and groundbreaking health care in the South Sound. It incorporates 16 operating rooms, 437 beds, and an adult trauma center. In 2014, more than 3,000 babies entered the world at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital. It’s also where Florence “SeeSee” Rigney, the oldest working nurse in the United States, continues to assist in the surgical unit. Tacoma

Best Naturopath 
Tacoma Health Natural Family Medicine
Tacoma Health Natural Family Medicine doctors use various healing techniques to help clients feel their best. In addition to physical exams, they work with patients on nutritional and chemical imbalances in the body. Tacoma

Best Physical Therapist 
Ross Anderson
Ross Anderson is the owner of Anchor Physical Therapy. For more than 18 years he’s helped patients of all ages achieve their health goals through tailored treatment. As a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and the APTA Private Practice Section, Anderson is committed to exceptional care. Tacoma

Best Chiropractor 
Dr. Jason Stockton 
In addition to providing chiropractic health care at his Tacoma clinic, Dr. Jason Stockton is the team chiropractor for the Tacoma Rainiers Baseball Club. He’s also worked with professional athletes in the NFL, NBA, track and field, and golf. Stockton believes that the journey to good health starts with a “whole person approach.” Tacoma

Best Cosmetic Dentist + Best Dentist 
Dr. Karla Bloomquist
Dr. Karla Bloomquist’s career in dentistry started when she was just a girl. Her dad was a dentist, and she grew up working in his office during summers. Now she’s living her dream, working in her own state-of-the-art practice. As part of her commitment to the community, she stays up to date with ever-changing advancements in dentistry. Gig Harbor

Best Orthodontist
Dr. Douglas J. Knight
When you’re the business of perfecting smiles, it helps to be a friendly face. Dr. Douglas Knight takes customer service as seriously as he takes orthodontics. He does what it takes to make patients feel comfortable and confident one smile at a time. Tacoma

Best Eye Care 
Cascade Eye & Skin
Cascade Eye & Skin provides Lasik, eyelid, and cataract surgery for its patients. They have a large variety of other eye treatments from retinal services to comprehensive eye care. Cascade doctors also provide advanced treatments for skin care. Various locations 

Best Yoga Studio 
Source Yoga 
It’s easy to get bogged down by the day-to-day. Tune out your worries and focus on your breath at Source Yoga. Never done it before? No problem. Source Yoga has a six-week program for beginners. It also has family classes and retreats. It’s the perfect getaway for your body and mind. Various locations

Best Group Workout 
Innovative Fitness
Sometimes it’s easier to get motivated if you’re working out with a group. Innovative Fitness offers fun and dynamic team training with certified coaches. Workouts are a combination of weight training, cardio, and aerobics that will keep you on your toes. Various locations

London’s Salon. Photo by Rachel Coward

London’s Salon. Photo by Rachel Coward

Best Salon 
Getting your hair done can be a little nerve-racking. London’s has hairstylists you can trust. Whether you want a style that is funky, sophisticated, or truly unique, these folks are experienced pros you can rely on. Dudes, they do men’s cuts and cleanups as well. Tacoma

Best Gym 
The YMCA has everything you need to stay healthy and happy. With basketball courts, group exercise rooms, a cycling studio, and cardio equipment, you can shed the pounds while having fun. Sign up for one of the YMCA’s many classes and work out with a buddy or meet new people. Various locations

Best Personal Trainer 
Caasi Dickens
Caasi Dickens isn’t interested in excuses. She’ll have you breaking a sweat in no time. Passionate about fitness, Dickens is interested in long-term health goals for her clients. Follow her with the hashtag #coachcaasi on Instagram. Gig Harbor 

Best Mani Pedi 
La Bella Nail Spa
At La Bella Nail Spa, you can get a luxurious mani pedi without the steep resort prices. They offer shellac and gelish semi-permanent manicures as well as express manicures for $15. Plus, they work with pipeless pedicure chairs so you can rest assured that your service is clean and bacteria-free. Tacoma

Best Massage 
Carpe Diem Massage
At Carpe Diem Massage, therapists perform deep treatment with their toes. Using overhead bars for support, they’ll elongate your back muscles and work out your hamstrings. If feet aren’t really your thing, they also have several other massages to help you unwind. Tacoma

Best Eyelashes
Lush Lashes 
You can probably skip a morning meeting with your mascara wand after visiting Lush Lashes. Its skilled team can apply lash extensions you can swim, shower, exercise, and sleep in. It prides itself on creating natural-looking lashes that are thick, long, and beautiful. Tacoma

Savi Day Spa. Photo by Lisa Monet Photography

Savi Day Spa. Photo by Lisa Monet Photography

Best Spa 
SAVI Day Spa
When it’s time to relax, the staff at SAVI Day Spa is ready to pamper you. Wrap yourself in one of their terrycloth robes and unwind with a full body massage. They also have specialty facials for different skin types, hand and foot therapy, and advanced clinical treatments. Tacoma

Best Tanning Salon 
Desert Sun Tanning Salons
Let’s face it, in the Northwest sometimes you’ve got to fake that bronze glow. Make people believe you’ve spent the last month on a tropical island with the perfect tan. Desert Sun offers sunbeds and sunless tanning to help you achieve the perfect glow. Various locations

Best Tattoo Parlor 
Flaming Dragon Tattoo
Flaming Dragon Tattoo is a hot spot for those looking for experienced artists to apply high-quality, custom imagery. From tattoos of flowers to dragons to specialized Star Wars characters, these artists have skills. Various locations

Best Beauty Products 
When it comes to beauty and cosmetics, Sephora has it all, from make-up to skincare to nail kits and haircare. The store is full of beauty pros who can help you experiment with new products. Various locations

Home and Garden

Best Garden Shop/Nursery
Watson’s Greenhouse & Nursery
Put that green thumb to work and brighten up your backyard with Watson’s. It has the tools, seeds, and soil to transform your garden into an outdoor oasis. Or, if you need a little help digging into things, free seminars and workshops will help get you started. Puyallup

Best Place to Buy Furniture
Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse
Furniture shopping is anything but stressful at the Old Cannery. With a Hobbit-style fudge factory and seven scale miles of model trains suspended from the ceiling, the Old Cannery has something for everyone who walks through the door, on top of the great furniture you’re sure to bring home. Sumner

Best Hardware
McLendon Hardware
For your next fixer-upper, McLendon Hardware is here to lend a hand and help you find the latest thingamajig. They also provide free DIY workshops, so you can finally cross all of those pesky to-dos off your list. Various locations

Best Place to Buy Appliances 
Albert Lee Appliance
Albert Lee Appliance has been a fixture in the South Sound for decades, helping families outfit their dream homes since 1939. The family-owned appliance store spans three generations and is now spread across five different area showrooms, providing hundreds of products to update your home. Various locations 

HarrisonHomes. Photo by Brian DalBalcon

Harrison Homes. Photo by Brian DalBalcon

Best Builder
Harrison Homes
Harrison Homes has snagged this award for the past several years for remodeling houses and building custom homes. Harrison can tackle any project, and specialties include kitchen, bath, exterior rooms and whole-house remodels. Gig Harbor 

Best Kitchen & Bath Designer
Signature Design & Cabinetry 
Beautiful interiors start with patience, which is why Signature Design & Cabinetry takes you from start to finish. Not only will they reinvigorate your home with their designs; they’ll also complete the look by installing specially curated cabinets in your new kitchen or bath. Tacoma 

Best Landscaper
Olympic Landscape and Irrigation Co.
For a yard that will make your neighbors green with envy, look no further than Olympic Landscape and Irrigation Co. The team has been transforming local lawns for more than 30 years, creating beautiful landscapes all around the South Sound. Puyallup

Best Architect
They say that love builds a happy home, and at WC Studio, they help you get there. Their architects love what they do, and their dedication shines through in every project. By employing strategies to minimize their energy footprint and ecological impact, their designs not only improve the lives of their clients, but also the environment. Tacoma

Artisans Group. Photo by Chris Dinottia

Artisans Group. Photo by Chris Dinottia

Best Remodeler
Artisans Group
Combining sustainability with creativity, Artisans Group is a leader in building elegant, yet energy-efficient homes. For designs that pack a punch, but leave a small ecological footprint, South Sound readers turn to Artisans Group. Olympia

Best Interior Designer
Stefanie Brooks
Stefanie Brooks is known for her innovative interior design. She’s a big believer in individual style and works with clients to make their homes or offices reflect their personalities and needs. She’s worked in the South Sound for more than 10 years. Tacoma


Best Public Elementary School
Donald Eismann Elementary
Donald Eismann Elementary takes early learning seriously with a dedicated staff. Students range from preschool to fifth grade. The school has a handful of specialists on staff for music, technology, and physical education classes. Bonney Lake 

Best Public High school
Curtis High School
Curtis High School gets A’s all around. From going above and beyond state academic requirements to championship sports teams, Curtis is the place in the South Sound for high school students to prepare for college and beyond. It also boasts a unique and famous alum: Far Side creator Gary Larson. University Place

Mason Middle School. Photo courtesy Tacoma Public Schools

Mason Middle School. Photo courtesy Tacoma Public Schools

Best Public Middle school
Mason Middle School
Mason Middle School provides opportunities for rambunctious preteens, creating a rigorous and successful academic environment — and it shows. Its students exceed district standards in a number of areas, such as math and language arts. Tacoma

Best Private Elementary + Best Private Middle School 
Charles Wright Academy
Built by parents and faculty on grounds once covered by a peach orchard, Charles Wright Academy has been all about community from the get-go. South Sound parents know that a Charles Wright education is diverse and well-rounded, just like the community surrounding the school itself. Tacoma

Best Private High school
Bellarmine Preparatory School
Bellarmine became the first Jesuit school in the nation to become co-ed, and has since been dedicated to quality education and college prep for all. In fall, the school will open its new student center with a full cafeteria and meeting rooms for student study groups. Tacoma

Jeanne Hanigan. Photo by Russ Carmack

Jeanne Hanigan. Photo by Russ Carmack

Best Teacher
Jeanne Hanigan
Jeanne Hanigan, an English teacher at Bellarmine Preparatory School, goes above and beyond her job. She’s known to be a challenging teacher inside the classroom, as well as a friendly face to her students. Tacoma

Best Daycare
MultiCare New Adventures Children’s Center
MultiCare New Adventures Children’s Center isn’t so new. It opened in 1960 as the first employer-sponsored child-care center in the Pacific Northwest. If health workers have trusted New Adventures to watch over their kids for so long, you know it’s a safe and fun place for your kids, too. Tacoma

Best Preschool
First Presbyterian Church School
Get your rambunctious tots started in a school you trust. For more than 45 years, First Presbyterian Church School has provided careful supervision and a balanced program, giving kids plenty of time to learn through both problem-solving and play. Tacoma

Best Birthday Party Place
Pump It Up
There’s no party like a Pump It Up party. From huge inflatables to imagination games, kids — and parents — love it. Whether it’s your birthday or you’re just trying to have some fun, this party place will have kids entertained for hours. Tacoma


Best Doggy Daycare
Unleashed Dog Daycare and Wellness Center
When it comes to caring for man’s best friend, South Sound readers know what’s best, and so does Unleashed Dog Daycare. Your four-legged friend is sure to feel right at home in the top-notch facility, where they can even enjoy hydrotherapy and massages. You can feel at ease knowing your pet is taken care of by an experienced staff. Tacoma

Best Place to Walk Your Dog
Tehaleh Trails
Tehaleh Trails includes more than 10 miles of walking trails, complete with lush forest and mountain views. Spanning across approximately 1,000 acres, there’s plenty to see (and sniff) as you explore. Bonney Lake

Chambers Creek Veterinary Hospital. Photo by Asta Tobiassen DVM

Chambers Creek Veterinary Hospital. Photo by Asta Tobiassen DVM

Best Vet
Chambers Creek Veterinary Hospital
You can rest easy knowing your furry friend is in good hands at Chambers Creek Veterinary Hospital. From checkups and exams to grooming and boarding, the team at Chambers Creek will take care of your pet no matter what he or she might need. Chambers Creek is a member of the American Animal Hospital Association, the only organization that accredits animal hospitals in the United States and Canada. Lakewood

Best Groomer
Tacoma’s Best Pet Grooming
Your pets are in good hands at Tacoma’s Best Pet Grooming. Their team of dog lovers will get your beloved Spot cleaned up in no time. You might even get a woof of approval. Tacoma

Travel and Recreation

Best Golf Course
Chambers Bay
When the U.S. Open came to Chambers Bay, everyone learned what our readers already knew — that Chambers Bay truly sets the par for golf courses, with views of the Sound and stunning landscapes. Whether you’re learning the ropes or a seasoned pro, Chambers Bay is a world-class course. University Place

Best Bed and Breakfast
Hedman House
When it’s time for a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, Hedman House in Puyallup is the perfect place to escape. South Sound readers love the warmhearted welcome at this home away from home. Puyallup

Best Hotel
Hotel Murano
Whether you’re visiting Tacoma or have lived here for a while, Hotel Murano is the place to relax and wake up inspired. With the perfect location, delicious cuisine, spa, and event space, Hotel Murano is truly a city gem. It’s even pet-friendly! Tacoma

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Photo courtesy “Beautiful Eyes” ©2008 Michael B., creative commons

Point Defiance
Zoo & Aquarium. Photo courtesy “Beautiful Eyes” ©2008 Michael B., creative commons

Best Kid-Friendly Destination
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is a blast for kids, but it’s more than a fun place to play. Kids learn about animals and the environment through daily keeper talks, special programs, and educational summer camps. It has a wide range of animals, from a giant pacific octopus to a clouded leopard. Tacoma

Best Hike 
Tehaleh Trails
On the 10 miles of Tehaleh Trails, visitors can spy bald eagles, Cooper’s hawks, and elk. The trails wrap around the Tehaleh community, which features a skate park, playground, sports court, pond, and zip line. There also are picnic tables where you can stop for lunch. Bonney Lake

Best Park
Point Defiance
Point Defiance really does have it all. With views of Mount Rainer; an incredible zoo and aquarium; gardens to walk through; and the long, winding Five Mile Drive, there’s fun for the whole family. From the miles of hiking trails to the picnic-ready beaches, what was once an undeveloped military reservation is now a beloved park. Tacoma

Best Travel Blog
Rick Steves
Television personality and guidebook author Rick Steves is a self-proclaimed “authority on European travel.” He’s been traveling across the pond and around the globe for almost 40 years, and he shares his travel knowledge on his blog. He’ll give you the best travel tips and share clips of his adventures that will have you booking your next vacation immediately.

Mount Rainier. Photo courtesy “Nisqually Glacier” ©2010 JD Hascup, creative commons

Mount Rainier. Photo courtesy “Nisqually Glacier” ©2010 JD Hascup, creative commons

Best NW Travel Destination 
Mount Rainier
Nothing encompasses the spirit of the Northwest like Mount Rainier. With trails for casual hikers to hardcore climbers, wildlife and wilderness are around every turn. Soon the wildflowers will pepper the grassy hills at Paradise for a picturesque Northwest view. It’s certainly a day trip worth your time.

Best Wedding Venue
Kelley Farm
At Kelley Farm, your “big day” is sure to be magical. The 200-acre property features lush meadows that look like they’re straight out of a fairytale. Steeped in rustic elegance, the renovated barn is perfect for cozy winter weddings or warm summer evenings. Bonney Lake

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