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2012 Best Bets Winners

Culture | November 22nd, 2012

Best Lunch, Best Burger, Best Craft Beer Selection - JL Beers

Locals are extremely vocal about their love of JL Beers. My goodness, this burger and beer joint has it figured out. Since opening, the place can hardly keep customers away. For one, JL Beers has a feel-good atmosphere, its menu is simple, its food is full-flavored and its beers selection is far from wimpy.

Best Taco and Best Mexican - Juano’s Mexican Restaurant

Juano’s has earned its success by providing mouthwatering Mexican food in Fargo for many, many years. This year, Juano’s respectively replaced both the Taco Shop and Mexican Village from their now former top-dog positions. From Juano’s savory wet burritos to its well-seasoned tacos to its off-the-hook Spanish rice, how can you go wrong?

Best Pizza - Rhombus Guys

It’s about time Fargo got a creative, local pizza joint like Rhombus. Chock full of beer, atmosphere and wild pizza toppings, this is not your grandfather’s old-timey kind of restaurant. Patrons can get anything from pesto to teriyaki to goat cheese topped on their pizza. Whether standard or off-the-wall, Rhombus Guys roasts a mean pizza in their oven.

Best Sushi - Wasabi

Who knew Fargo has such a large appetite for something as un-American as sushi? Wasabi is an awesome door opener for any American looking to expand their palate. Its food is always freshly prepared, well presented and highly appetizing.

Best Bakery - Nichole’s Fine Pastry

When Nichole’s says, “fine,” she really does mean fine. Folks here are served top-of-the-line desserts with a number of flavorful choices: chocolate, coffee, strawberry, tart, you name it. And don’t forget, Nichole’s serves meals as well. “The best” bakery, of course, serves nothing but the finest croissants and ciabatta breads to make incredible sandwiches.

Best Bar, Best Open Mic & Best Karaoke - Dempsey’s Public House

You don’t know downtown Fargo if you don’t know Dempsey’s. It’s that special. Dempsey’s continually defeats the empty-bar blues, even on days like Monday. While there are many other bars worthy of the coveted Best Bar title, patrons remain fiercely loyal to Dempsey’s for some obvious reasons and for some reasons are still yet to be discovered.

Best Italian – Toscana

Toscana is a classic Italian restaurant under the deft hand of Italian born Chef Morganti and his wife Charlene. Located on Broadway in downtown Fargo, Toscana serves up some very tasty Italian foods and all at a very reasonable price. The dining room is warm and comfortable, a great place for lunch or dinner.

Best Asian & Best Ethnic Restaurant - Thai Orchid

Yes, Thai Orchid is that good. Its food is for savoring. Just as the restaurant’s chefs wonderfully and meticulously prepare our meals, patrons can wonderfully sink their teeth into the Thai Orchid’s delicious Asian cuisine. For a restaurant so authentically Asian-tasting and -feeling, it’s so easy to make yourself feel at home.

Best Meal Under $10 & Best After-Bar Meal - Drunken Noodle

Walking into the Drunken Noodle at 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning is one sight to see. Some are swinging and swaying. Some are flirting. Some are arguing. Though all are hungry – and all are satisfied once they leave. Whether you like macaroni & cheese, pad Thai, fried rice or spaghetti, The Drunken Noodle provides affordable entrees that are delicious – and many of which are loaded with veggies!

Best Fine Dining & Best Bar/Restaurant Customer Service - The Hotel Donaldson

Aside from being a one of the area’s strongest advocates for the local art, food and music, The Hodo is one of the warmest and most welcoming restaurants in town. It’s no wonder The Hodo is such go-to destination for cuisine, spirits and socializing.

Best Restaurants for Vegetarians - Green Market Kitchen

Fargo native Chef Andrea Baumgardner’s background is firmly rooted in the “farm to table” movement from her time at the iconic Chef Panisse in Berkeley, Calif. Here everything is conceived from scratch daily, from the breads to desserts, ensuring the freshest end result on the plate. Teamed with partners Peter Kelly and Steve Heiland, they share in all working aspects of this modest little restaurant with a burning passion.

Best Chef - Ryan Nitschke (aka Dirty), HoDo

Chef Ryan Nitschke and his co-chef Nick Weinhandl (who Nitschke says deserves just as much credit) deliver some of the area’s most innovative, well-prepared and well-presented cuisine. They are also two of several chefs in Fargo supporting the local farm to table movement sourcing local suppliers and seasonal ingredients.

Best Original Band - Moody River Band

This rock ‘n’ roll/blues band sure knows how to get down. The collaborative and dynamic songwriting skills of Tom Peckskamp and Charlie Young have spoke volumes, literally. It’s safe to say Cody Connor would be proud.

Best Cover Band - Post Traumatic Funk Syndrome

With a whopping 13 members, PTFS is not just a band; they are a production. Aside from having college professors and other sorts of musical powerhouses taking center stage, PTFS recreates some of the best rock/funk tunes of our time by taking two strong vocalists and backing them up with a cast of stellar musicians.

Best Solo Musician - Brooks West

Solo musician Brooks West is songwriting expert. Having written more than 100 songs in his lifespan, he creates beautiful melodies crafted with his booming Americana voice and gorgeous acoustic guitar tone. West is fabulously easy to gush over.

Best Performance DJ - Chris Patano of Sovereign Sect

Chris Patano is keenly aware of what people really want, beats, breaks and bass-wise. He’s passionate, creative and thirsty. Not to mention, Patano and his band Sovereign Sect are highly responsible for putting Fargo on the dup-step map.

Best Radio Station – KNDS 96.3

If you still haven’t tuned in, you’re not tuned into the pulse of Fargo radio. On the air since 2004, this radio station is the product of combined efforts of NDSU radio, Radio Free Fargo volunteers and Alliance for the Arts. Expect to hear jams you won’t hear anywhere else, unique programs, and local DJs who aren’t afraid to experiment and create new listener experiences.

Best Theatre Group - Theatre B

For such a small theater, Theatre B sets the theatre bar with big enthusiasm and even bigger ambitions. It’s hard for our community to not recognize the greatness Theatre B bestows upon the performing arts. Their team of actors and directors are hardworking, passionate people.

Best Artists over 30 - Jon Offutt

My goodness, Jon Offutt is a popular guy. Probably because he is a superb figure in advocating the arts by running events like the Fargo-Moorhead Studio Crawl. And probably because he’s a superb talent as well. Offutt has won this award before, it’s easy to see why he has won it again.

Best Artist under 30 - Mackenzie Kouba & Amber Parsons (tie)

Repeating her win from last year, Mackenzie Kouba creates works that are wildly unique to her own personality. Her popularity must stem from her stunning, eye-popping paintings, all of which have a deep, heavy-hitting meaning or message.

A recent face on the cover of HPR, Amber Parsons’s eye for high fashion mixed with her superb talent for mixing and matching have catapulted her to a new status of artistry.

Best Kept Secret – Mezzaluna

The place always looks spotless, the food always looks and tastes amazing, and the employees always treat their customers with absolute kindness and care. So, no longer is Mezzaluna a secret.

Best Do-Gooder - Doug Burgum

It seems like not much happens in this town without Doug Burgum being behind it. The Doug Burgum Family Fund supports numerous of charitable organizations that are focused on youth, education and health. No doubt, Burgum’s unprecedented generosity has gone a long way in this town.

Best Local Celebrity - Christopher Gabriel

Christopher Gabriel has a special way of making people feel welcomed and appreciated. Whether he is on or off air, Gabriel is genuine, entertaining, frank and expertly fluid at communicating. We suppose that is why he is such a fabulous radio-host.

Best All-Ages Hangout - The Red Raven

Listen to great music, have a unique snack or meal, read a book, see a comedy show, hear an original artist, browse the net or mingle with some of the coolest baristas in town. The Red Raven is pure awesomeness for all ages.

Best Hair Stylist - Ben Holtz, Salon Why?

Fargo’s “rocker of the hair persuasion” is Mr. Ben Holtz. He’s full of personality, enthusiasm and, yes, he’s amazing at cutting hair. Holtz has transformed people’s looks all over town, upping their self-esteem and boosting some new trends.

Best Tattoo Artist - Paul Johnson, 46 & 2 Tattoo

Paul Johnson takes his role as a “pure” tattoo artist seriously. With his sharp focus, he has the ability create tattoo art from all across the board. Due to his business’ professionalism, 46 & 2 is now even more well known as the area’s most popular tattoo parlor.

Best Theatre Production - Jekyll & Hyde

Music Theatre Fargo-Moorhead dramatically dazzled audiences with its production of “Jekyll & Hyde” last September. Lead actor Craig Ellingson, a leading figure in the FM performing arts scene, stole this show with his intense portrayal of Jekyll/Hyde, while the cast and crew worked the audience into a musical frenzy. We can hardly wait to see more from this group.

THE FULL LIST:

By HPR Staff

Best Breakfast - Fryn’ Pan

Best Lunch, Best Burger, Best Craft Beer Selection - JL Beers

Best Taco and Best Mexican - Juano’s Mexican Restaurant

Best Pizza - Rhombus Guys

Best Sushi - Wasabi

Best Bakery - Nichole’s Fine Pastry

Best Bar, Best Open Mic & Best Karaoke - Dempsey’s Public House

Best Italian – Toscana

Best Asian & Best Ethnic Restaurant - Thai Orchid

Best Meal Under $10 & Best After-Bar Meal - Drunken Noodle

Best Liquor Store - Happy Harry’s

Best Coffee Shop - Atomic Coffee

Best Fine Dining & Best Bar/Restaurant Customer Service - The Hotel Donaldson

Best Restaurants for Vegetarians - Green Market Kitchen

Best Chef - Ryan Nitschke (aka Dirty), HoDo

Best Original Band - Moody River Band

Best Cover Band - Post Traumatic Funk Syndrome

Best Solo Musician - Brooks West

Best Performance DJ - Chris Patano of Sovereign Sect

Best Radio Station – KNDS 96.3

Best Theatre Group - Theatre B

Best Artists over 30 - Jon Offutt

Best Artist under 30 - Mackenzie Kouba & Amber Parsons (tie)

Best Kept Secret – Mezzaluna

Best Do-Gooder - Doug Burgum

Best Local Celebrity - Christopher Gabriel

Best All-Ages Hangout - The Red Raven

Best Hair Stylist - Ben Holtz, Salon Why?

Best Tattoo Artist - Paul Johnson, 46 & 2 Tattoo

Best Theatre Production - Jekyll & Hyde

Best Live Music Venue - The Aquarium

Best Music Store - Orange Records

Best Bartender - Jeff Fonder

Best Art Store - Art Materials

Best Photographer - Gabe Haney

Best Tattoo Parlor - 46 & 2 Tattoo

Best Drag King/Queen - JustNTyme Diva

Best Gift Shop - Zandbroz Variety

Best Salon/Barber Shop - Salon Why?

Best Thrift Store - Dakota Boys Ranch

Best Local/Regional Festival - Downtown Street Fair

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