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Best of New Orleans 2006 

ENTERTAINMENT AND NIGHTLIFE

Best Movie Theater
1. AMC Elmwood Palace 20 (1200 Elmwood Park Blvd., Harahan, 734-2020; www.amctheatres.com) — You know they're going to have all of the blockbusters and even a few indie films sprinkled in, so what's not to love? That is unless you don't like large, comfortable seats, a sound system that lets you hear the Broke Back Mountain crickets chirp, a screen as big as the sky and snacks that say it's all right to leave your home theatre once in a while.
2. Prytania (5339 Prytania St., 891-2787; www.theprytania.com)
3. Landmark's Canal Place Cinema (333 Canal St., 581-5400; www.landmarktheatres.com)

Best Live Theatre Venue
1. Le Chat Noir (715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812; www.cabaretlechatnoir.com) — If cabaret can survive wars, it certainly can overcome a couple of hurricanes. Le Chat Noir incorporates the quintessential nightclub theatre: intimate seating, a showcase for the Best of local talent, and an ambience that suggests more of Paris than Hoboken. The bar located up front is the perfect place to go between acts or have a post-show chat and, with the baby Yamaha piano close by, reminds us that life is a cabaret.
2. Southern Rep Theatre (365 Canal St., 522-6545 or 566-9212)
3. True Brew Theater (200 Julia St., 524-8440)

Best Local Theatre Actor
1. Ricky Graham — While the city did lose some talent to the theatrical diaspora, its grip never loosened on the "king" of New Orleans' musical comedies. Katrina didn't expel him, she inspired him to create his I'm Still Here, Me . The indefatigable Graham continues to act, sing, write, and direct, often at the same time.
2. John "Spud" McConnell
3. Dane Rhodes

Best Local Theatre Actress
1. Becky Allen — Wouldn't it be amazing if it turned out that Becky Allen was actually from L.A. and not (NO)LA? Yeah, and po-boys were invented by Subway. Who else except the wide-eyed, blond Yat New Orleans original could pull off playing a teenager, a "female female impersonator," and Sophie Tucker celebrating 50 years in showbiz in her current, The Sophie Tucker Show with Special Guest Jimmie Durante, all within a couple of months?
2. Lara Grice
3. Janet Shea

Best New Club/ Bar
1. The Republic New Orleans (828 S Peters St., 528-8282;www.republicnola.com) — Since it's the former home of the Howlin' Wolf, there's already a lot of musical history packed into this club, and with top local performers and a number of touring national acts playing here, the management aims to keep it that way. This isn't your old Howlin' Wolf, however, it's much more swanky and appealing to the chic lounge crowd, and it even hosts fashion shows occasionally. 2. The Venue (1755 Tchoupitoulas St., 309-9941; www.thehottestclub.com)
3. Chickie WaWa (2828 Canal St., 304-4714; www.chickiewahwah.com)

Best Dive Bar
1. Snake & Jake's Xmas Club Lounge (7612 Oak St., 862-2802) — If you arrive before midnight, you're too early. Come back because it's never too late to see the always-hanging Christmas lights or to quaff a can of Shaeffer's beer. At least once in your life, you need to greet the blinding sun of a brand new day by walking out of the comfy dark confines of Snake & Jake's.
2. Le Bon Temps Roule (4801 Magazine St., 895-8117)
3. Saturn Bar (3067 St. Claude Ave., 949-7532)

Best Dance Club
1. Metropolitan (310 Andrew Higgins Drive, 568-1700) — This place is so massive it rivals the monster clubs of New York City. Every Saturday night, Generations Hall suddenly transforms into a world of gyrating beautiful people all dancing to the latest techno or hip-hop beat.
2. Oz (800 Bourbon St., 593-9491; www.ozneworleans.com)
3. Gold Mine Saloon (705 Dauphine St., 586-0745; www.goldminesaloon.net)

Best Sports Bar
1. Cooter Brown's Tavern & Oyster Bar (509 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9104; www.cooterbrowns.com) — There are booths available, but there's nothing like sitting down at one the long tables, screaming at one of the many available TVs during the big game, and then suddenly hugging the person next to you who was a complete stranger a minute ago. With more than 400 domestic and imported bottled beers available and 45 beers on tap, you can always buy the stranger a cold one after that moment of uncomfortable silence. The bar menu, which runs from boudin to a chicken cordon bleu sandwich, can fit any season, be it football, basketball, baseball or NASCAR.
2. Fox & Hound English Pub & Grille (1200 Clearview Pkwy., Metairie, 731-6000; www.totent.com)
3. Chad's Bistro (3216 W Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 838-9935)

Best College Hangout
1. The Boot (1039 Broadway St., 866-9008) — Nearly every Tulane student has spent some nights at this bar, only a diplomas throw from the campus. It's a prerequisite for most degree programs, and with drink specials beginning at 10 p.m. and a sexy crowd till the early morning, it's most everyone's favorite class.
2. Bruno's Bar (7601 Maple St., 861-7615; www.brunosbar.com)
3. Fat Harry's (4330 St. Charles Ave., 895-9582)

Best Late-late-Night Club
1. F&M Patio Bar (4841 Tchoupitoulas St., 895-6784) — While the crowd doesn't start hopping until past midnight — jumping up to dance on the plywood-covered pool table in front or mingling in the backyard patio — you won't find a better club to end the night or start the day. A late-night snack of chili-cheese fries from the backyard kitchen will stoke you up for the next dance or whatever.
2. Snake & Jake's Xmas Club Lounge (7612 Oak St., 862-2802)
3. The Dungeon (738 Toulouse St., 525-3521)

Best Gay Bar
1. Oz (800 Bourbon St., 593-9491; www.ozneworleans.com) — Part of the vibe is the popping dance sound and Oz's DJs always pump it up. The music only stops for good reason and what better reason could there be than Persana's Search for the ultimate drag queen, Sunday night bingo with the fabulous Becky Allen or the club's other outlandish special events.
2. Bourbon Pub (801 Bourbon St., 529-2107; www.bourbonpub.com)
3. Good Friends (740 Dauphine St., 566-7191; www.goodfriendsbar.com)

Best Neighborhood Bar
1. St. Joe's (5535 Magazine St., 899-3744) — Abounding with religious iconography and top-shelf cocktails, this is the holy land for the recently defrocked, or the mixologically hip. Grab a stool at the front bar next to your new Best friend or wander to the tables in the backyard patio, heated in the winter and always lit by candle and lantern. Talented bartenders and a remembrance of the past (i.e. the original Ms. Mae's) complete this neighborhood catechism.
2. The Bulldog (3236 Magazine St., 891-1516; 5135 Canal Blvd., 488-4191; www.draftfreak.com)
3. Pal's Lounge (949 N Rendon St., 488-7257)

Best Hotel Bar
1. The Carousel Bar, Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal St., 523-3341; www.hotelmonteleone .com) — This legendary revolving bar has captured the prose of Hemingway, the hearts of countless tourists and the eyes of generations of locals. Come on over, take a few familiar spins and enjoy the infinite bar knowledge of some of the city's Best bartenders.
2. Whiskey Blue, W Hotel (333 Poydras St., 525-9444; www.midnightoilbars.com)
3. The Columns (3811 St. Charles Ave., 899-9308; www.thecolumns.com)

Best Gentlemen's/Strip Club
1 . Rick's Cabaret (315 Bourbon St., 524-4222; www.rickscabaret.com) — Although I've never been there — I swear, honey — I've been told this gentlemen's club hosts the hottest erotic dancers around. Plus, if you're looking for an excuse, you can always say you go there for the delicious lunch buffet and upscale ambience. Yeah, right.
2. Larry Flint's Hustler Club (225 Bourbon St., 524-0100)
3. Visions Mens Club (4000 Downman Road, 244-0659)

Best Happy Hour
1. Superior Grill (3636 St. Charles Ave., 899-4200; www.superiorgrill.com) — If the first glance of this bar's name prompts you to begin humming the opening bars of "Tequila," then you're a veteran of the Superior Grill happy hour. The time, 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., drifts by quickly, but you'll still have plenty of time to enjoy two-for-one regular margaritas or well drinks shoulder-to-shoulder with scads of other drinkers, uh, professionals.
2. The Columns (3811 St. Charles Ave., 899-9308; www.thecolumns.com)
3. Lucy's Retired Surfers' Bar (701 Tchoupitoulas St., 523-8995; wwwlucysretiredsurfers.com)

Best Ladies' Night
1. Dino's Bar and Grill (1128 Tchoupitoulas St., 558-0900) — Thursday nights at Dino's would make the ultimate Dino — Dean Martin — proud. The staff will gladly serve up one of Dino's specialty martinis gratis to the ladies, leaving the guys plenty of dough to spring for a late-night burger, salad, or po-boy.
2. Madigan's (800 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9455)
3. Legends Bar & Grill (2708 N. Hullen St., Metairie, 887-3877)

Best Place to Dance to a Live Band
1. Tipitina's (501 Napoleon Ave., 895-TIPS; www.tipitinas.com) — Step right in, grab a drink, rub the 'Fess's head for luck and make your way to the dance floor. It doesn't matter what time of the year it is — a Mardi Gras celebration with the Wild Magnolias, Jazz Fest time with Dr. John, Galactic ringing in a funky New Year or a hot summer night bopping to one of the many national acts that proudly stop at Tip's — you'll always be guaranteed to have happy feet on these tongue-and-grooved floors.
2. Mid City Lanes Rock'N'Bowl (4133 S. Carrollton Ave., 482-3133; www.rocknbowl.com)
3. (TIE) House of Blues (225 Decatur St., 529-2584; www.hob.com) and The Maple Leaf Bar (8316 Oak St., 866-9359)

Best Bar Décor
1. St. Joe's (5535 Magazine St., 899-3744) — The bar's namesake was a carpenter and Jesus's earthly father, so it follows that the walls are adorned with wooden crosses. But what do they mean? Do we all have crosses to bear or is it a reminder that someone died so we could drink up in this dark, neo-Gothic New Orleans bar? Those are just some thoughts to ponder while quenching your literal and spiritual thirst.
2. Rivershack Tavern (3449 River Road, Jefferson, 834-4938)
3. Whiskey Blue, W Hotel (333 Poydras St., 525-9444; www.midnightoilbars.com)

Best Jukebox
1. Port of Call (838 Esplanade Ave., 523-0120; www.portofcallneworleans.com) — This is no stale, never-changing jukebox. Every other week, owner Glen Menisch rotates more than 50 percent of the musical selections in the nearly 100-CD jukebox to ensure that regular customers feasting on one of the city's Best burgers will always have a satisfying mix of tunes that include classic rock, reggae, R&B, pop and even a couple of punk-rock anthems.
2. F&M Patio Bar (4841 Tchoupitoulas St., 895-6784)
3. The Kingpin (1307 Lyons St., 891-2373; www.kingpinbar.com)

Best Place to See Stand-Up Comedy
1. Harrah's New Orleans Casino (4 Canal St., 533-6000; www.harrahs.com) — Improvisational comedy hasn't always been available in the city, which is a shame because that format guarantees the crowd a fresh show and comedians get to really stretch their comedic muscles. Now, however, you can see plenty of improv comedy at Harrah's, where each week a national comic like Jimmy Pardo or Jeremy Hotz teams up with two lesser-known comedians to form a triple improv threat with plenty of crowd participation.
2. True Brew Theater (200 Julia St., 524-8440)
3. Le Chat Noir (715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812; www.cabaretlehatnoir.com)

Best Place to Shoot Pool
1. (TIE) Cooter Brown's Tavern & Oyster Bar (509 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9104;www.cooterbrowns.com) and Fox & Hound English Pub & Grille (1200 Clearview Pkwy., Jefferson, 731-6000; www.totent.com) — With all the action going on in the front of the bar at Cooter Brown's, it's sometimes hard to remember the great pool tables in the back. Challenge yourself to shoot a game, eat a sandwich, and follow the game all at the same time. At the upscale Fox & Hound sports bar in Jefferson, there are nine competition-sized tables to choose from and the kind of polished-wood elegance reserved for a game of billiards.
2. Oscar's (2027 Metairie Road, Metairie, 831-9540)
3. Le Bon Temps Roule (4801 Magazine St., 895-8117)

Best Place to Karaoke
1. Cat's Meow (701 Bourbon St., 523-1157; www.catsmeow-neworleans.com) — In the wake of Katrina, it's no surprise that "I Will Survive" is the most requested karaoke tune. Get up and belt out a few songs for your adoring fans. Remember, this is how William "She Bangs" Hung got his start.
2. The Beach House (2401 N Woodlawn Ave., Metairie, 456-7470)
3. Razoo's Bar & Patio (511 Bourbon St., 522-5100)

Best Place to Get a Bloody Mary
1. The Columns (3811 St. Charles Ave., 899-9308; www.thecolumns.com) — The talented bar staff at The Columns doesn't mess around with mixes — every Bloody is made to order, and the bartenders don't skimp on the fixings. Take your drink to the front porch, watch the streetcars go by and try to recall what you did the night before.
2. The Superdome (1500 Poydras St, 587-3663)
3. Igor's (2133 St. Charles Ave., 568-9811)

Best Place to Get a Mojito
1. St. Joe's (5535 Magazine St., 899-3744) — Let's face it: everyone makes a mojito these days, and somehow a bar has to separate itself from the others. How does St. Joe's do it? Does it import its limes, use only rare sugar or is its mint organic? The staff isn't saying, but the mojito here speaks for itself.
2. The Bridge Lounge (1201 Magazine St., 299-1888; www.bridgelounge.com)
3. RioMar Restaurant (800 S Peters St., 525-3474)

Best Place to Get a Margarita
1. Superior Grill (3636 St. Charles Ave., 899-4200; www.superiorgrill.com) — With more than 60 tequilas to choose from, Superior Grill has a distinctive edge over most bars when it comes to creating a memorable margarita. Fresh ingredients and erudite mixologists complement the recipe, and the result is a drink that Pancho Villa would be willing to fight for.
2. Taqueria Corona (5932 Magazine St.; 3535 Severn Ave., Metairie, 885-5088)
3. Sante Fe (801 Frenchmen St., 943-9575)

Best Place to Get a Martini
1. Bombay Club (830 Conti St., 586-0972; www.thebombayclub.com) — Membership has its privileges, and the very best in martinis is one of them at the Bombay Club. The club touts a menu of more than 100 intoxicating martini dreams concocted by the club's alcohol artisans. The surrounding environs — overstuffed leather chairs, dark, rich woods and subtle lighting — bespeak the elegance of the drink you're imbibing.
2. Sweet Fire & Ice (701 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 831-3437)
3. Loa's (221 Camp St., 553-9550)

Best Place to Get Wine by the Glass
1. Sip (3119 Magazine St., 894-7071; 3143 Ponce de Leon St., 940-0577; www.sipwinenola.com) — Buying wine by the glass can be a risky choice at many bars and restaurants because the wine sometimes has been open for long time and not properly sealed. Not so at Sip. The owners aren't so much interested in selling you a glass; they want you to buy a bottle, so they make sure the first experience is a worthy one.
2. The Delachaise (3442 St. Charles Ave., 895-0858)
3. Houston's (4241 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 889-2301)

Best Place to Get a Cold Beer
1. The Bulldog (3236 Magazine St., 891-1516; 5135 Canal Blvd., 488-4191; www.draftfreak.com) — The vision of a cold, sweaty pint of beer sustains many of us during the hot months of summer. The dream becomes reality at The Bulldog, where bartenders use a combination of nitrogen and CO2 to pump their drafts, so the brews are never spoiled by humidity. The glasses are always impeccably clean, thanks to a $5,000 dishwasher, and you can get a beer in a frozen glass or served at room temperature.
2. Cooter Brown's Tavern & Oyster Bar (509 S Carrollton Ave., 866-9104; www.cooterbrowns.com)
3. Liuzza's Restaurant & Bar (3636 Bienville St., 488-3714; www.liuzzas.com)

Best Beer Selection
1. Cooter Brown's Tavern & Oyster Bar (509 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9104; www.cooterbrowns.com) — With more than 400 beer selections, you can travel around the world by bottle at Cooter Brown's. If you survive the trip — go by the speed of pour, not of light — you'll be honored with an "Around the World" T-shirt signifying your grand achievement.
2. The Bulldog (3236 Magazine St., 891-1516; 5135 Canal Blvd., 488-4191; www.draftfreak.com)
3. Lager's International Ale House (3501 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 887-9923)

Best Casino
1. Harrah's New Orleans Casino (4 Canal St., 533-6000; www.harrahs.com) — The casino's floors have it all: more than 2,100 slot machines, and more than 100 table games. The action never stops and it's never-ending with 115,000 square feet of gaming, from black jack to baccarat to poker to roulette. If gambling isn't your passion, Besh's Steakhouse and Gordon Biersch's bar and grill will satisfy your culinary appetites.
2. Treasure Chest Casino (5050 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 443-8000; www.treasurechest.com)
3. Boomtown Casino (4132 Peters Road, Harvey, 366-7711; www.boomtownneworleans.com)

Best Live Music Venue
1. House of Blues (225 Decatur St., 529-2584; www.hob.com) — Sure, it's a corporate outfit, but even the staunchest defenders of independent music clubs can't deny that HOB grooves. It books top national acts — the incredible Elvis Costello/Allen Toussaint show, The Roots, Ani DiFranco, and even Queensryche — you won't find elsewhere in the city, so relax and admit some corporations can have a heart, or at least a good ear for music.
2. Tipitina's (501 Napoleon Ave., 895-TIPS; www.tipitinas.com)
3. The Maple Leaf Bar (8316 Oak St., 866-9359)

Best Live Music Show in the Last 12 Months
1. Bruce Springsteen — Prior to the show, many lamented that Bruce Springsteen wasn't bringing the E-Street Band to his New Orleans show, but there was no lamenting afterwards. Springsteen and his Seeger Sessions bandmates sang to the city, letting us know we aren't forgotten with "My City of Ruins," and that indeed we shall "Rise Up." Springsteen's version of "When the Saints Go Marching In" certainly would have brought a smile of approval to Louis Armstrong's face.
2. Faith Hill/Tim McGraw
3. Dave Matthews

Best Jazz Fest Performance 2006
1. Bruce Springsteen — People leaving this nearly two-hour concert were stunned by the gut-wrenching, sincere and compassionate performance given by a man who has been a working-class hero for more than three decades. One audience member, tears streaming down his face, kept repeating, "He gets it, he gets it." There's no doubt that Springsteen's 2006 Jazz Fest show will go down as one the Best and will provide a lasting memory for anyone lucky enough to have attended it.
2. (TIE) Jimmy Buffett and Paul Simon
3. Lionel Richie

Best Local Rock Band/Artist
1. Cowboy Mouth — Lead singer/drummer Fred Leblanc can be bleeding profusely from a head wound — trust me, I've seen it — and still put on a show that rivals the energy level of an early '80s Ramones show. Paul Sanchez isn't just a masterful guitarist, but also a renowned songwriter. John Thomas Griffith's lead guitar matches Leblanc's maniacal spirit, and newest member, Sonia Tetlow, brings a steady bass flow. Add it up and you get the answer to Leblanc's show-opening question: "Are you glad to be alive?" Hell yeah.
2. Better than Ezra
3. Bucktown Allstars

Best Local R&B/ Blues Band/Artist
1. Irma Thomas — She has been the ruler of our hearts for countless years, so she'll always be a sentimental favorite, but the truth is Irma still has it. Even though her latest album, After the Rain , featured an incredible lineup of New Orleans musical all stars — bassist James Singleton, keyboardist David Torkanowsky, pianist Dave Egan and others — the standout was Thomas with her tender but purposeful vocal stylizing.
2. Walter "Wolfman" Washington
3. (TIE) Snooks Eaglin and Allen Toussaint

Best Local Jazz Band/Artist
1. Kermit Ruffins — On one of his albums he asked and answered: "What is New Orleans?" He forgot one. New Orleans is Vaughan's on a Thursday night drinking a cold Abita, listening to Kermit Ruffins blowing his horn and heart out and, if you're lucky, tasting a little barbecue that's been slow roasted by this tireless New Orleans musical ambassador himself.
2.Rebirth Brass Band
3. (TIE) Irvin Mayfield and Jazz Vipers

Best Cajun/Zydeco Band/Artist
1. Rockin' Dopsie Jr. — Every time Rockin' Dopsie Jr. hits the stage, he is carrying on his father's zydeco legacy. That's why you'll never see this hard-working frontman rest or still his feet, because he's holding a lot more on his capable shoulders than his sparkling washboard.
2. (TIE) Amanda Shaw and Beausoleil
3. Bruce Daigrepont

Best Local Brass Band
1. Rebirth Brass Band — Bandleader and tuba player Phil Frazier has faced tragic adversity this past year. His New Orleans family has been displaced throughout the country and his brother, Kerwin James, is struggling for his life in a Houston hospital room. Somehow, however, Phil Frazier not only keeps his life and band together, he gets up onstage nearly every night and leads the city's hottest brass band.
2. Soul Rebels
3. Hot 8

Best Local Rap/Hip Hop Artist
1. Juvenile — The magnificent scion of the Magnolia projects has always made his intentions clear with hits like the millions selling "Back That Azz Up" and "Something Got 2 Shake," but his latest "Get Your Hustle On" went beyond mere sexual exhortation. He asked his fans and fellow New Orleanians to move not just their hips, but their minds and hearts as well in rebuilding their lives and city.
2. Lil Wayne
3. Master P

Best Local Acoustic/Folk Band/Artist
1. Theresa Andersson — There's no sense denying it: Theresa Andersson is a beautiful performer, but she ain't no diva. Andersson is comfortable playing in front of the huge crowds of Jazz Fest or jamming for smaller club audiences, although the latter is unusual these days. She's as much a part of New Orleans' sound as Jon Cleary or any other musician that has adopted the city as their true home.
2. John Rankin
3. Anders Osborne

Best Local Band That Doesn't Fit Any of These Categories
1. Bucktown Allstars — Featuring a four-piece horn section, the Bucktown Allstars aren't playing the same simple covers night after night; they're performing the Best of ' 70s funk, the soulful orchestration of classic Atlantic Records recordings and New Orleans R&B legends like Dr. John and the Neville Brothers. The Allstars aren't covering music, they're sharing it.
2. Bag of Donuts
3. Top Cats

FOOD/RESTAURANTS

Best New Restaurant
1. (TIE) Jackson (1910 Magazine St., 529-9599; www.jacksonnola.com) and Sweet Fire & Ice (701 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 831-3437; www.copelandsofneworleans.com) — After Katrina, Thomas Corrington found his law practice faltering, so he decided to invest in food and libations rather than litigation. Good choice. His new place, Jackson, is garnering great reviews for its service, innovative menu and atmosphere. In a tie for Best New Restaurant is Al Copeland's Sweet Fire & Ice. Copeland, who has a long history in New Orleans' restaurant industry, never met a theme he didn't like and this new place, with its blue waterfall and sunken pit in the Intrigue Lounge, works well. The menu is extensive with many of the Cajun and Creole dishes from past Copeland restaurants and, of course, plenty of different cheesecake scoops.
2. Alberta (5015 Magazine St., 891-3015)
3. 7 on Fulton (700 Fulton St., 681-1034; www.7onfulton.com)

Best New Orleans Restaurant
1. Galatoire's (209 Bourbon St., 525-2021; www.galatoires.com) — The past year marked a century that this legendary New Orleans restaurant has served up some of the Best French-Creole cuisine in the city, including the remarkable Poisson Meuniére Amandine and oysters en brochette. Yes, there is now a Galatorie's Bistro in Baton Rouge, but it can't possibly come close to the original Bourbon Street mainstay.
2. Jacques Imo's Café (8324 Oak St., www.jacquesimoscafe.com)
3. Clancy's (6100 Annunciation St., 895-1111)

Best Metairie Restaurant
1. Drago's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar (3232 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie, 888-9254) — Owner Tommy Cvitanovich didn't care if his customers couldn't pay. Less than a week after Katrina hit, Drago's fired up its propane heaters and began serving free meals to anyone who was hungry. In the end, Cvitanovich and his staff gave away more than 100,000 meals. That alone makes Drago's heavy favorite among Metairie restaurants, but when you factor in its charbroiled oysters, Drago's becomes unbeatable.
2. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (3633 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-3600; www.ruthschris.com)
3. Zea Rotisserie (1401 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner, 468-7733; 1525 St. Charles Ave, 520-8100; 4450 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Clearview Shopping Center, Metairie, 780-9090; www.zearestaurants.com)

Best Kenner Restaurant
1. The Harbor (3203 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 443-6454) — Most nights, especially Fridays or Saturdays, you can't just run in and grab a quick bite, you might have to wait a while to be seated. And that's a good sign; people are willing to sacrifice a little time to get the great food and large portions of this Kenner restaurant mainstay.
2. Tecoro's (3525 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 466-5550)
3. Le Parvenu (509 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 471-0534)

Best Northshore Restaurant
1. Trey Yuen Cuisine of China (600 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, 985-626-4476; www.treyyuen.com) — For people living on the South Shore of Lake Pontchartrain, the Causeway might not be a favorite road trip, but knowing Trey Yuen is on the other side makes it well worth it. The restaurant serves all your favorite Chinese cuisine, including lamb dishes, but its local culinary selections like Tong Cho crawfish make a visit a memorable one.
2. Dakota (629 N. Hwy. 190, Covington, 985-892-3712; www.thedakotarestaurant.com)
3. (TIE) La Provence (25020 Hwy. 190, Lacombe, 985-626-7662) Sal & Judy's (27491 Hwy. 190, Lacombe, 985-882-9443)

Best West Bank Restaurant
1. Pho Tau Bay (113 Westbank Expwy., Suite C, 368-9846) — It's inevitably the first name mentioned when people talk about Vietnamese restaurants in this city. Unfortunately, only one of Pho Tau Bay's locations currently is open, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on the bon bo hue soup or any of those tasty vermicelli dishes; it's only a hop, skip and jump from downtown to the West Bank.
2. The Red Maple Restaurant and Lounge (1036 Lafayette St., 367-0935; wwwtheredmaple.com)
3. Mosca's (437 Hwy. 90 W. Avondale, 436-9942)

Best Hotel Restaurant
1. Rib Room, Omni Royal Orleans (621 St. Louis St., 529-7045) — Nestled in the Omni Royal Orleans for more than 40 years, this is an easy culinary discovery for guests at the hotel, but lots of locals know and love it, too. The dining room has the plush but comfy feel of a steakhouse, and mouthwatering dishes like wood-fired, grilled steaks, chops and roasted shrimp set the Rib Room apart from other hotel restaurants.
2. Café Adelaide, Lowe's Hotel (300 Poydras St., 595-3305; www.cafeadelaide.com)
3. New Orleans Grill, Windsor Court Hotel (300 Gravier St., 523-6000; www.windsorcourthotel.com)

Best Cajun Restaurant
1. Mulate's The Original Cajun Restaurant (201 Julia St., 522-1492; www.mulates.com) — Entering Mulate's is like stepping through a portal; suddenly you find yourself 100 miles west of home in the middle of Acadiana. Some folks waltz on the dance floor to "La Jolie Blonde" while others settle into steaming plates of crawfish etouffee, red beans and rice or heaping platters of seafood. All you can say is AIEEE! and join right in.
2. K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen (9416 Chartres St., 524-7394; www.kpauls.com)
3. Cochon (930 Tchoupitoulas St., 588-2123; www.cochonrestaurant.com)

Best Chinese Restaurant
1. Five Happiness (3605 S. Carrollton Ave., 482-3935; www. fivehappiness.com) — It was heartwarming how quickly this flood-ravaged restaurant reopened, even if it wasn't in its original dining room. For its thousands of customers who depend on a weekly serving of pecan shrimp, Peking duck, or Triple Dragon, it was a concrete sign that the city is recovering and a sure way to spread the happiness.
2. Trey Yuen Cuisine of China (600 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, 985-626-4476; www.treyyuen.com)
3. Royal China (600 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 831-9633)

Best Creole Restaurant
1. Jacques-Imo's (8324 Oak St., 861-0886) — Don't you love it when New Orleans sets the trend for places like New York City? While they may have a Jacques-Imo's up in the frigid north, you can't beat the original on Oak Street. Sure those Yankees can feast on stuffed pork chops, paneed rabbit and the eatery's famous fried chicken, but they won't see as much of celebrated owner Jack Leonardi.
2. Galatoire's Restaurant (209 Bourbon St., 525-2021; www.galatoires.com)
3. Arnaud's Restaurant (813 Bienville St., 523-5433; www.arnauads.com)

Best Italian Restaurant
1. Vincent's (4411 Chastant St., Metairie, 885-2984; 7839 St. Charles Ave., 866-9313) — Go hungry and start with the savory crab-and-corn bisque. The side-dish portions are large, and the entrees — ranging from traditional Italian fare like spaghetti and meatballs to the seasonal fried softshell crab topped with crawfish au gratin — won't let you put your fork down until it's all gone.
2. Impastato's Restaurant (3400 16th St., Metairie, 455-1545; www.impastatos.com)
3. Andrea's Restaurant (3100 19th St., Metairie, 834-8583; www.andreasrestaurant.com)

Best Japanese/Sushi Restaurant
1. Sake Café (2830 Magazine St., 894-0033; www.sakecafeuptown.com) — The elegant but chic dining area with its magnificently varnished wood floors and high-peak ceiling matches the cafe's sushi, sashimi and cooked dishes. For most diners, it's all about the sushi, and Sake delivers the goods with the essentials: tuna and salmon. It's the specialty rolls — the Jazz Roll, spicy tuna and avocado; and the New Orleans Roll, crawfish- and avocado-topped snow crab and spicy tuna — that keep the doors opening and closing.
2. Shogun Japanese Steaks & Sushi (2325 Veterans Memorial Blvd. Metairie, 833-7477)
3. Kyoto (4920 Prytania St., 891-3644; Kyoto Two, 5608 Citrus Blvd., Suite A-B, Harahan, 818-0228)

Best Latin American Restaurant
1. Liborio's (321 Magazine St., 581-9680) — Since 1969, this little slice of Cuban heaven has reminded New Orleans that there are other countries south of the border besides Mexico. The menu hasn't changed very much over the years — you can still get a ropa vieja sandwich, shredded seasoned beef on French bread, and various paellas — and you can always trust you will get a tasty and affordable meal here.
2. Azul's Restaurant & Lounge (535 Tchoupitoulas St., 599-2111)
3. RioMar (800 S. Peters St., 525-3474; www.riomarseafood.com)

Best Mediterranean Restaurant
1. Byblos (1501 Metairie Road, Metairie, 834-9773; 2020 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 837-9777; 3218 Magazine St., 894-1233) — We're lucky to have so many solid Mediterranean restaurants in the city, and competition is fierce for the title of No. 1. Byblos claims it with its special attention to detail in dishes like the lamb taratour, which combines cinnamon-scented lamb, garlicy tahini sauce, and crispy pine nuts, and its velvety babaghanoush that is wonderfully light.
2. Mona's Café (3901 Banks St., 377-3102; 1120 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-8175; 504 Frenchmen St., 949-4115; 4126 Magazine St., 894-9800)
3. Lebanon Café (1500 S. Carrollton Ave., 862-6200)

Best Mexican Restaurant
1. Taqueria Corona (857 Fulton St., 524-9805; 3535 Severn Ave., Suite 6, Metairie, 885-5088; 5932 Magazine St., 524-9805) — Sure, there are the prerequisite Mexican combination dinners, but here it's more interesting to come up with your own. You might try the black bean soup topped with cheese and sour cream, then move on to a shrimp flauta, fish tacos or maybe beef tongue tacos. Wash it all down with a margarita or a Negra Modello beer.
2. Superior Grill (3636 St. Charles Ave., 899-4200; www.superiorgrill.com)
3. Juan's Flying Burrito (2018 Magazine St., 569-0000; 4724 S. Carrollton Ave., 486-9917)

Best Neighborhood Restaurant
1. Clancy's (6100 Annunciation St., 895-1111) — The lump crabmeat salad at Clancy's is legendary, but there also are other great choices like fried oysters with brie — decisions, decisions. Get used to such dilemmas, because there are plenty of choices to be made from appetizers to entrees to wine and dessert. Remember, you can return often to try them all.
2. Joey K's Restaurant & Bar (3001 Magazine St., 891-0997; www.joeyksrestaurant.com)
3. La Crepe Nanou (1401 Robert St., 899-2670)

Best Seafood Restaurant
1. Deanie's (841 Iberville St., 581-1316; 1713 Lake Ave., Metairie, 835-4638; www.deanies.com) — Locals likely will leave the French Quarter location to the tourists. Parking is easier in Bucktown, and New Orleanians look for size (i.e. portions) over ambience when hunting down seafood platters. Deanie's won't disappoint; it has a giant platter that's large enough for four normal people or two really ravenous ones.
2. Drago's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar (3232 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie, 888-9254; www.dragosrestaurant.com)
3. Galley Seafood Restaurant (2535 Metairie Road, Metairie, 832-0955)

Best Soul Food Restaurant
1. Praline Connection (542 Frenchmen St., 943-3934; www.pralineconnection.com) — Fried chicken livers with sweet, hot-pepper jelly might not be on your weight-loss diet, but they're worth the indulgence. There's everything the soulful epicurean desires — fried chicken, stuffed bell peppers, stuffed crabs, collard and mustard greens, and more. This is truly food for the soul by the soul.
2. Café Reconcile (1613 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 568-1157)
3. (TIE) Lil Dizzy's Café (1500 Esplanade Ave., 569-8997), Jacques-Imo's Café (8324 Oak St., 861-0886; www.jacquesimoscafe.com) and Mother's Restaurant (401 Poydras St., 523-9656; www.mothersrestaurant.com)

Best Steakhouse Ruth's Chris Steak House(3633 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-3600; www.ruthschris.com) — The original Ruth's Chris located on Broad Street was lost to the storm, but you can still visit the second-oldest of this ever-growing fleet of steakhouses. It is constantly expanding because it keeps to the steakhouse credo: great cuts of meat cooked to your chosen perfection.
2. Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse (716 Iberville St., 522-2467; www.dickiebrennanssteakhouse.com
3. The Besh Steakhouse at Harrah's (4 Canal St., 533-6000)

Best Thai Restaurant
1. Basil Leaf (1438 S. Carrollton Ave., 862-9001) — Starched, white-linen tablecloths let diners know right away that Basil Leaf is meticulous. This attention continues with its menu selections, which include carefully stuffed spring rolls, seared scallop dumplings, perfectly fried softshell crab, phat Thai and other masterful delights that leave customers appreciating the culinary precision.
2. La Thai Cuisine (933 Metairie Road, Metairie, 828-3080)
3. Sukho Thai (1913 Royal St., 948-9309)

Best Vietnamese Restaurant
1. Pho Tau Bay (113 Westbank Expwy., Suite C, Gretna, 368-9846) — The menu won't overwhelm less adventurous eaters. Pho tai, for example, is a mellow rice noodle soup anyone would enjoy, and a big bowl of vermicelli with your choice of meat is hearty and satisfying. For those who crave something exotic, there are plenty of choices such as the heart-thumping café sua da to drink, the Saigon Taco, and che 3 mau for dessert.
2. Kim Son Restaurant (349 Whitney Ave., Gretna, 366-2489)
3. Nine Roses (1100 Stephen St., Gretna, 366-7665)

Best Breakfast Spot
1. Bluebird Café (3625 Prytania St., 895-7166) — Grab the morning papers and get in line to get a table at the Bluebird Café on a Sunday morning. You never have to wait long, because the service is quick and efficient — no empty cups of coffee here — and the food will start your day right, whether you prefer huevos rancheros, a big, fat Belgian waffle or a breakfast sandwich.
2. Surrey's Cafe and Juice Bar (1418 Magazine St., 524-3828)
3. Riccobono's Panola Street Café (7801 Panola St., 314-1810)

Best Brunch
1. Court of Two Sisters (613 Royal St., 522-7261; www.courtoftwosisters.com) — What can't you find at this world-famous jazz-brunch institution? There's an egg station with made-to-order omelets and eggs Benedict, a seafood station with unlimited crawfish and shrimp, a carving station with thinly sliced roast beef and tender turkey, a specialty salad station, baked goods and desserts — and it's all set to music.
2. Brennan's (417 Royal St., 525-9711)
3. (TIE) Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro (4517 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 454-7620) and Elizabeth's Restaurant (601 Gallier St., 944-9272)

Best Lunch Specials
1. Café Reconcile (1613 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 568-1157) — This nonprofit restaurant, which trains Central City youth in the food-service industry, proves that you can support a great charity and get a great meal at the same time. The specials are affordable and outrageously tasty, like the creamy peppered white beans with shrimp, baked lasagna and fried catfish.
2. (TIE) Welty's Deli (366 Camp St., 592-0223) and Zea Rotisserie (1401 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner, 468-7733; 1525 St. Charles Ave, 520-8100; 4450 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Clearview Shopping Center, Metairie, 780-9090; www.zearestaurants.com)
3. Joey K's (3001 Magazine St., 891-0997; www.joeyksrestaurant.com)

Best Late-night Dining
1. Clover Grill (900 Bourbon St., 598-1010; www.clovergrill.com) — For many, it's the last stop after a great night on Bourbon Street. Rest assured the wait staff will take care of you with plenty of hot coffee, breakfast combos, hamburgers and fries, and service that is friendly and a little saucy.
2. Angeli on Decatur (1141 Decatur St., 566-077)
3. Little Tokyo Restaurant (590 Hwy. 3228, Mandeville, 985-727-1532; 1521 N. Causeway Blvd., Metairie, 831-6788; 3225 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 443-1965)

Best Place to Feed the Whole Family
1. Piccadilly (2609 Jefferson Hwy., Metairie, 834-2695; 533 Lapalco Blvd., Gretna, 391-1063; www.piccadilly.com) — Mom and Dad don't have to worry about their picky eaters or going over budget at Piccadilly cafeteria. There's always a huge buffet with numerous selections, from fresh salads to entrees like fried chicken and roast beef to the rewarding desserts including strawberry cheesecake, apple cobbler and banana bread.
2. Reginelli's Pizzeria (741 State St., 899-1414; 3244 Magazine St., 895-7272; 874 Harrison Ave., 488-0133)
3. R&O's Restaurant (216 Metairie Hammond Hwy., Metairie, 831-1248)

Best Cheap Eats
1. Juan's Flying Burrito (2018 Magazine St., 569-0139; 4724 S. Carrollton Ave., 486-9950; www.juansflyingburrito.com) — You really shouldn't have to pay too much for a burrito labeled "The Gutter Punk," and you won't. What you can expect are filling and delectable meals made on the spot in an open kitchen so you can see all the action. Never let it be said a guy with tattooed sleeves can't roll a tasty burrito.
2. Dot's Diner (Citywide)
3. Bud's Broiler (Citywide)

Best Menu for Vegetarians
1. Whole Foods Market (5600 Magazine St., 899-9119; 3420 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-8225; www.wholefoods.com) — The staff always starts with the freshest ingredients to create daily vegetarian dishes that can excite and tantalize the taste buds. There is a vast menu with selections featuring multiple tofu dishes like Kung Pao tofu, BBQ tofu on polenta or topped with a sweet chile sauce or ponzu. Other choices include spicy, grilled tempeh, edame succotash and the always-popular fettuccine with roasted tomatoes. There's also a whole store of goodies attached to the deli area, so your choices in foods are almost unlimited.
2. Mona's Café (3901 Banks St., 377-3102; 1120 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-8175; 504 Frenchmen St., 949-4115; 4126 Magazine St., 894-9800)
3. Byblos (1501 Metairie Road, Metairie, 834-9773; 2020 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 837-9777; 3218 Magazine St., 894-1233)

Best Dessert Menu
1. Cheesecake Bistro (4517 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 454-7620; www. copelandsofneworleans.com) — You could practically call this the Al Copeland Category, since the first three places go to restaurants he owns. We won't, but we will give him props for knowing how to end a meal on a high note. The Cheesecake Bistro creates 30 different cheesecakes, including takes on New Orleans favorites: chocolate praline and bananas Foster.

2. (TIE) Copeland's (1700 Lapalco Blvd., Harvey, 364-1575; 680 N. Hwy 190, Covington, 985-809-9659; www.copelandsofneworleans.com) and Sweet Fire & Ice (701 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 831-3437; www.copelandsofneworleans.com)
3. The Melting Pot (1820 St. Charles Ave., Suite 120, 525-3225; www.meltingpot.com)

Best Buffet
1. Harrah's New Orleans Casino (4 Canal St., 533-6000; www.harrahs.com) — It doesn't matter if you beat the house or if the house broke you, save a little for this extensive award-winning buffet. Even in New Orleans it's hard to think of another buffet that offers turducken, creme brulee and a host of dishes from the Pacific Rim. Try to go around the world in a single plate.
2. King Buffet (601 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 837-4383; www.kingbuffet.net)
3. Oki Nago (2712 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie, 780-8588)

Best Wine List
1. Sip (3119 Magazine St., 894-7071; 3143 Ponce de Leon, 940-0577; www.sipwinenola.com) — Owners Jennifer Powell, Daphne LeSage and Gina K. Stango try to oblige all tastes and all budgets at their wine stores. They have frequent tastings, so you can often try before you buy. Sure, you can get the latest and greatest Chardonnay, but why not give a Limburger or a sparkling Shiraz a try?
2. Martin Wine Cellar (3500 Magazine St., 899-7411; 714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie, 896-7300; www.martinwinecellar.com)
3. Antoine's Restaurant (725 St. Louis St., 581-4422; www.antoines.com)

Best Chef
1. John Besh

— He was one of the first food responders following Katrina. As soon as he could get to his kitchen, he began cooking red beans and rice for hungry and tired rescue workers. He reopened Restaurant August less than a month after the storm and did it with paper napkins and a severely limited staff. Besh still managed, however, to serve some of the

Best food — post-Katrina and pre-Katrina — in the city.

2. Emeril Lagasse
3. Susan Spicer

Best Outdoor Dining
1. Martinique Bistro (5908 Magazine St., 891-8495) — With the alluring scent of jasmine floating in the air and the aromas of fine French dishes, it's hard to believe you're in a courtyard on Magazine Street and not somewhere deep in the French Quarter. Thankfully, there are very few months when you can't enjoy a leisurely good meal nestled in this secluded little hideaway.
2. Café Rani (2917 Magazine St., Suite 103, 895-2500)
3. Café Degas (3127 Esplanade Ave., 945-5635)

Best Deli Martin Wine Cellar (714 Elmeer St., Metairie, 896-7300; 3500 Magazine St., 899-7411; www.martinwine.com) — With so much available in terms of wine and gourmet foods, you can't help but get hungry when you visit Martin's. Head to the back of the store and grab one of the stacked deli sandwiches — the Rueben is colossal — or a freshly made salad. If this place had beds, you might never want to leave.
2. Kosher Cajun New York Deli & Grocery (3520 Hullen St., Metairie, 888-2010; www.koshercajun.com)
3. Welty's Deli (366 Camp St., 592-0223)

Best Place to Get Barbecue
1. Voodoo BBQ & Grill (100 E. James Blvd., Kenner, 464-1880; 1501 St. Charles Ave. 522-4647; www.voodoobbqandgrill.com) — They will serve no meat before its time. The brisket here is cooked for 14 hours, the ribs for eight hours and pork for more than 12 hours. Don't worry about it being dry — the management would rather toss it than try to get by with anything short of the smoky, slow-cooked goodness the restaurant's regulars have come to expect.
2. Corky's BBQ (4243 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 887-5000; www.corkysbbq.com)
3. The Joint (801 Poland Ave., 949-3232)

Best Place to Get Boiled Seafood
1. Deanie's (841 Iberville St., 581-1316; 1713 Lake Ave., Metairie, 835-4638; www.deanies.com) — It starts with those spicy, boiled red potatoes and continues with crawfish, shrimp and crabs. There's little to obscure the taste of these Louisiana seafood staples; the crab boil augments the flavor — it doesn't destroy it. All it takes are some strong fingers for digging out the meat and a cold beer or two to wash it down.
2. Galley Seafood Restaurant (2535 Metairie Road, Metairie, 832-0955)
3. Big Fisherman Seafood (3301 Magazine St., 897-9907)

Best Place to Get Barbecue Shrimp
1. Pascal's Manale (1838 Napoleon Ave., 895-4877) — This restaurant is to barbecue shrimp what Central Grocery is to the muffaletta; it was invented here. These jumbo crustaceans lay in a sauce that is smooth, buttery and wonderfully spicy. The shrimp won't stay in the sauce for too long, though, because everyone at the table is grabbing them — so you might want to go ahead and order two bowls just to be safe.
2. Deanie's (841 Iberville St., 581-1316; 1713 Lake Ave., Metairie, 835-4638; www.deanies.com)
3. Crazy Johnnie's Café & Bar (3520 18th St., Metairie, 887-6641)

Best Place to Get a Burger
1. Port of Call Restaurant & Bar (838 Esplanade Ave., 523-0120; www.portofcallneworleans.com) — Although beef is, indeed, king at this New Orleans standard, some people — including Port of Call regulars — might be surprised to find there actually are other menu choices besides burgers. It's hard to think of anything but the half-pound wonders on a bun until, of course, you've tried the pizzas or steaks.
2. Bud's Broiler (Citywide; www.budsbroiler.com)
3. The Swamp Room (5216 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-5242)

Best Place to Get Fried Chicken
1. Popeye's (Citywide; www.popeyes.com) — It doesn't matter how long the line is, you have to get that family pack of Popeye's for Mardi Gras parades. For many families, that pack is just as essential during Carnival as a ladder on wheels. There are other good reasons to pick up Popeye's fried chicken: tailgating, picnics or just a visceral need for some of that original or spicy goodness.
2. Jacques-Imo's Café (8324 Oak St., www.jacqueimoscafe.com)
3. Fiorella's Café (45 French Market Place, 528-9566)

Best Place to Get Gourmet to Go
1. Whole Foods Market — (5600 Magazine St., 899-9119; 3420 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-8225; www.wholefoodsmarket.com) — This is galaxies beyond the normal supermarket selection. An actual chef prepares the menu daily and it can include anything from curried chicken to savory seafood bisques to fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil salads to gourmet pizzas. Don't forget to make a stop at the dessert section.
2. Martin Wine Cellar (3500 Magazine St., 899-7411; 714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie, 896-7300; www.martinwinecellar.com)
3. Chez Nous Charcuterie (5701 Magazine St., 899-7303)

Best Place to Get Gumbo
1. Gumbo Shop (630 St. Peter St., 525-1486; www.gumboshop.com) — Wouldn't it be great if life were always this simple? You go to the Gumbo Shop for gumbo and when you get there your dilemma is whether to get seafood okra gumbo or the chicken andouille gumbo? Or sidestep the decision making and have a cup of each. There also other Creole delicacies to go with the gumbo, such as jambalaya, red beans and rice, shrimp Creole, crawfish etoufee and lots more.
2. Liuzza's By the Track (1518 N. Lopez St., 943-8667)
3. (TIE) Mother's Restaurant (401 Poydras St., 523-9656; www.mothersrestaurant.com) and Napoleon House Bar & Café (500 Chartres St., 524-9752)

Best Place to Get a Muffuletta
1. Central Grocery (923 Decatur St., 523-1620) — For sandwich lovers, 2006 is as important as, say, the country's bicentennial in 1976 or the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase (2003). It marks 100 years of Central Grocery and the muffuletta sandwich. Celebrate with a single birthday candle in the middle of the grocery's greatest creation — its round, crusty loaf of Italian bread stuffed with ham, Genoa salami, Provolone cheese and glorious olive salad.
2. Come Back Inn (3826 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 443-1623; 8016 W. Metairie Ave., Metairie, 467-9316)
3. Napoleon House Bar & Café (500 Chartres St., 524-9725)

Best Place to Get Oysters on the Half-shell
1. Acme Oyster House (724 Iberville St., 522-5973; 3000 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 309-4056; www.acmeoyster.com) — Forget about pearls, the true Louisiana gem is the raw oyster itself, cultivated by the murky brackish coastal waters. Katrina heavily damaged many of the state's oyster reefs and beds, but there still are plenty of these fresh Louisiana delicacies to be found at the two local Acme locations.
2. Drago's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar (3232 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie, 888-9254)
3. Casamento's Restaurant (4330 Magazine St., 895-9761)

Best Place to Get Pizza
1. Reginelli's Pizzeria (741 State St., Kenner, 899-1414; 3244 Magazine St., 895-7272; 5608 Citrus Blvd., Metairie, 818-0111) — Most pizza aficionados will say a great pizza begins with the crust. In that case, Reginelli's pizzas start on a level above most others. Of course the crust is made with a secret recipe, so don't try this at home. After the savory crust, Reginell's tops its pizzas with various combinations of sauce, cheese, meats and vegetables to match your preferences. Visit any one of the locations to find out why no one ever throws out the crusts at Reginelli's.
2. Theo's Pizza (4218 Magazine St., 894-8554)
3. Slice Pizzeria (1513 St. Charles Ave., 525-7437)

Best Place to Get Red Beans and Rice
1. Popeye's (Citywide; www.popeye's.com) — At first it might seem embarrassing that a fast-food corporation makes the city's, and the country's for that matter,Best red beans and rice. The thought is fleeting, however, once you taste the slow-cooked, creamy concoction. After that, you can't help but count your blessings that you can get this red bean ambrosia just about anywhere in the city.
2. Mother's Restaurant (401 Poydras St., 523-9656; www.mothersrestaurant.com)
3. Franky & Johnny's Restaurant (321 Arabella St., 899-9146)

Best Place to Get Turtle Soup
1. Brennan's (417 Royal St., 525-9711) — It might not command the national fanfare of gumbo, but for many gourmands, locals and out-of-towners, turtle soup is a vital offering for any classic New Orleans restaurant. Brennan's turtle soup, with its dark, rich roux interlaced with just enough tomato, plenty of turtle meat, sherry and cayenne, will always be an appetizing start to a great meal.
2. Galatoire's Restaurant (209 Bourbon St., 525-2021; www.galatoires.com)
3. Sal & Sam's Restaurant (4300 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 885-5566)

Best Place to Get an Oyster Po-boy
1. Acme Oyster House (724 Iberville St. 522-5973; 3000 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 309-4056; www.acmeoyster.com) — It doesn't matter if there's an "r" in the month or not, you can always get a great oyster po-boy at Acme Oyster House. The experts here stack the fried bivalves between the sliced opening of a crusty French baguette and let you decide whether it needs to be dressed or au natural in its entire golden-fried splendor.
2. Domilise Sandwich Shop & Bar (5240 Annunciation St., 899-9126)
3. Bozo's Restaurant (3117 21st St., Metairie, 831-8666)

Best Place to Get a Shrimp Po-boy
1. Domilise Sandwich Shop & Bar (5240 Annunciation St., 899-9126) — Most times you'll have to stand in line to get one of these New Orleans classics, but, hey, it's much better than lining up for an MRE or one of those salty casseroles the kind folks at the Salvation Army were handing out. Standing in the line at Domilise's is a return to normalcy, and at the end you are rewarded with a mouth-watering fried shrimp po-boy instead of mere sustenance.
2. (TIE) Danny & Clyde (Citywide) and Acme Oyster House (724 Iberville St. 522-5973; 3000 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 309-4056; www.acmeoyster.com)
3. Parkway Bakery & Tavern (538 Hagen Ave., 482-3047)

Best Place to Get Roast Beef Po-boy
1. Mother's Restaurant (401 Poydras St., 523-9656; www.mothersrestaurant.com) — After having dealt with so much other debris, it's a relief that there is actually good debris — but it can only be found in one of Mother's world-famous roast beef po-boys and not in your backyard. The word "lean" shouldn't be used to describe the meat — this is Mother's after all — but the added fat is added luxury.
2. Parkway Bakery & Tavern (538 Hagen Ave., 482-3047)
3. Domilise Sandwich Shop & Bar (5240 Annunciation St., 899-9126)

Best Crepes
1. La Crepe Nanou (1401 Robert St., 899-2670; www.lacrepenanou.com) — Thankfully, no one ever came up with the idea to rename these "Freedom Pancakes" like they did with "Freedom Fries" for another of our favored French indulgences. For more than 20 years, this neighborhood bistro has served the eponymous crepes as the perfect ending to a good French meal. The shop's signature dish, "La Crepe Nanou," is filled with chocolate, vanilla and coffee ice cream with almonds and chocolate sauce and will leave diners humming "La Marseillaise," instead of "The Star Spangled Banner."
2. Crepes a la Carte (1039 Broadway St., 866-23620)
3. Muriel's Jackson Square (801 Chartres St., 568-1885; www.muriels.com)

Best Place to Get Bread Pudding
1. Palace Café (605 Canal St., 521-8313; www.palacecafe.com) — This is an extremely competitive category with many good versions of this classic New Orleans dessert available throughout the city. What sets the Palace Café version apart from the others is the use of white chocolate. The bread, Leidenheimer's French bread, of course, is filled with white chocolate, and then covered in a white chocolate grenache. Wow.
2. Bon Ton Café (401 Magazine St., 524-3386)
3. Brennan's (417 Royal St., 525-9711)

Best Place to Get Créme Brulee
1. Ruth's Chris Steak House (3633 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, 888-3600; www.ruthschris.com) — Can there be any better reason to have a blowtorch around than for making the brown-sugar crust on a créme brulee? Ruth's Chris, with locations throughout the country, must have its own propane company by now. While you can get créme brulee at any of the Ruth's Chris locations, there's just something to be said for having it in New Orleans where Ruth Fertel, the founder of Ruth's Chris, opened her first restaurant.
2. Palace Café (605 Canal St., 521-8313; www.palacecafe.com)
3. Café Degas (3127 Esplanade Ave., 945-5635)

Best Place to Get a Frozen Coffee
1. CC's (Citywide; www.communitycoffee.com) — In a place where you often feel as hot as a cup of coffee, you sometimes need to get your morning jolt from a cold source. Whether it's CC's regular iced coffee or one of its specialties — a Mochassippi can be drunk during anytime of the day — CC's delivers cooling and invigorating relief.
2. Starbucks (Citywide; www.starbucks.com)
3. PJ's (Citywide; www.pjscoffee.com)

Best Snowball Stand
1. Hansen's Sno-Bliz (4801 Tchoupitoulas St., 891-9788) — Ernest and Mary Hansen, who founded Hansen's during The Depression, unfortunately died during the past year, but thankfully their granddaughter Ashley is carrying on the family business. She mixes up all of the recipes developed by her grandmother in the kettle her grandfather built, and she shaves her ice with the same ice machine Hansen's has used for nearly seven decades. You can't knock tradition, especially after you taste one of these delectable treats.
2. William's Plum Street Snowball Stand (1300 Burdette St., 866-7996)
3. Sal's Snowballs (1823 Metairie Road, Metairie, 666-1823)

Best Coffeehouse
1. CC's (Citywide; www.communitycoffee.com) — When Henry Norman "Cap" Saurage, founder of CC's, needed a name for his popular coffee, he decided on Community Coffee in honor of the many friends and customers who loved his blend of coffee beans. It's still an appropriate name for the family-owned business ,which serves its community great coffee in a comfortable place to enjoy it in.
2. PJ's (Citywide; www.pjscoffee.com)
3. Rue de la Course (3121 Magazine St., 899-0242; 1140 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-4343)

Best Place to Get Pastries
1. Maurice's French Pastires(4951 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, 455-0830; 1114A S. Carrollton Ave., 866-7052; 3501 Hessmer Ave., Metairie, 885-1526; www.mauricefrenchpastries.com) — Owner Jean-Luc Albin has a culinary pedigree; his father was a celebrated chef in France. Albin made a name for himself as a chef and food beverage director for fine hotels. Now, with the worries of hotels behind him, he can specialize in French pastries such as his St. Honore (They already canonized that guy?), crown-shaped puff cakes, and various other specialty desserts. That's great news for anyone who wants something a little more than your basic chocolate cake.
2. La Boulangerie (4526 Magazine St., 269-3777; 625 St. Charles Ave., 569-1925)
3. Croissant D'or Patisserie (617 Ursulines Ave., 524-4663)

Best Place to Get Ice Cream/Gelato
1. Creole Creamery (4924 Prytania St., 894-8680) — This 1950s-style ice cream shop comes with a history. For many years the building it occupies was home to one of the many McKenzie's bakeries located throughout the city. The neighborhood must have breathed a collective sigh of relief when Creole Creamery moved in. Who wouldn't want an old-fashioned ice cream shop on the block with New Orleans flavors like Creole cream cheese and cayenne lime butter?
2. Sophie's (1912 Magazine St., 561-0291)
3. Marble Slab (2170 Gause Blvd. West, Slidell, 985-639-0075; 2905 Hwy. 190, Mandeville, 985-727-3911; 4201 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 887-2167)

Best Jazz Fest Food
1. Crawfish bread

— We all do it, either make a mental list in our heads or one written on paper of music we want to hear and the favorite foods we must eat when we go to Jazz & Heritage Festival. Crawfish bread — stuffed with four cheeses and crawfish tails and served bubbling hot — inevitably makes its way onto everyone's list.
2. Crawfish Monica
3. Softshell crab po-boy

Best MRE
1. Beef stew

— Didn't you love the fact that there seems to be a little bottle of Tabasco sauce in every Meal Ready to Eat? Probably some conspiracy theorist out there will have a credible explanation for that. The MRE beef stew will never go down as a legendary New Orleans culinary treasure, but during last year's miserable days of September and October, these little meals in a bag tasted pretty damn good.
2. Jambalaya
3. Ravioli

POLITICS

Best Local Legislator
1. Bobby Jindal

— And to think, he won this category before delivering his own child! Louisiana's congressional wunderkind is definitely eyeing higher office, and our readers tend to like his chances.
2. David Vitter
3. None

Best New Orleans City Council Member
1. Oliver Thomas

— The outspoken council president earns points for sincerity, gravitas and guts. He'll need all three to make up for the void in the mayor's office.
2. Arnie Fielkow
3. Stacy Head

Best Jefferson Parish Council Member
1. John Young

— The freshman is currently the council president, and his accessibility to voters is likely to make him a favorite in parishwide elections next year.
2. Tom Capella
3. Jennifer Sneed

Best Local Politician Deserving of a Brickbat
1. Ray Nagin

— Oh, Clarence, how do we loathe thee? Let us count the ways! On second thought, we don't have that much time É
2. Bill Jefferson
3. Renee Gill Pratt

Best New Hiding Place for Bill Jefferson's Money
1. Renee Gill Pratt's Durango

— Nice to see readers tying these two together as Gill Pratt is a protégé of "Dollar Bill." (See our story on P. 28 for more of our readers' suggestions on this one!)
2. His butt
3. My refrigerator

Best Friend New Orleans has in Baton Rouge
1. Mitch Landrieu

— The lieutenant governor may have lost the mayor's race, but he obviously has won the affections of our readers.
2. Kathleen Blanco
3. None

Best Friend Louisiana has in Washington
1. Mary Landrieu

— Our senior senator has earned her stripes since Katrina, and her seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee certainly helps justify this award.
2. Bobby Jindal
3. David Vitter

Best Leader During Katrina
1. Ray Nagin

— Notice the category is "during" and not "since" Katrina É
2. Gen. Honore
3. Bobby Jindal

Best Public Spat
1. Nagin vs. Blanco

— The enmity was mutual and palpable, and we're not sure it has subsided much since the city started rebuilding.
2. Nagin vs. Bush
3. Nagin vs. Rev. Tom Watson during debates

Best Local Scandal
1. Bill Jefferson

— He hasn't been formally charged with any crimes, but readers definitely have made up their minds about "Dollar Bill's" pecuniary interests.
2. Renee Gill Pratt's Durango
3. Mayor Nagin's "Chocolate City" remarks

Best Lie From a Politician
1. Jefferson's "honorable explanation" for the money

— Wow! He hasn't even offered it yet and readers already don't believe it!
2. (TIE) Mayor Nagin's "I have a plan." and Nagin's "New Orleans will be a chocolate city again."
3. Anything Nagin says

Best Community/Environmental Activist
1. Katrina Krewe

— This is proof that real leadership comes from the bottom-up, not from the top-down.
2. Carlton Dufrechou
3. Anne Milling

Best Reform We Still Need
1. Levees

— By this, our readers obviously mean "Category 5" flood protection, which includes "mo' better" levees as well as wetlands restoration.
2. Public School System
3. One Assessor

Best Katrina Quote
1. "Chocolate City"

— Mayor Ray Nagin's political flashpoint wound up becoming his rallying cry.
2. (TIE) "Stuck on stupid" (Gen. Honore) and "Get your asses to New Orleans." (Mayor Nagin)
3. "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job." (President George Bush)

Best Do-Gooder
1. Becky Zaheri

— The founder of the Katrina Krewe certainly deserves honors for her single-mindedness, as do all the winners of this category.
2. Dr. Ben DeBoisblanc
3. All the volunteers

LOCAL LIFE

Best Saints Player
1. Deuce McAllister

— Even after suffering a major injury — a torn ACL — early in the season, and even with that pesky new guy, Reggie Bush, nipping at his big, black shoes, Deuce is still the best in the eyes of Saints fans. The combination of McAllister and Bush should make defenses queasy for years to come.
2. Reggie Bush
3. Joe Horn

Best Hornets Player
1. Chris Paul

— Even though we mostly had to watch him from afar, Paul's rookie season, 16.1 points per game and 7.8 assists per game, gave us plenty to cheer about. If you just can't wait for the NBA season to start, make sure you check out Paul and the star-studded Team USA as they vie for the FIBA World Championship.
2. David West
3. Hugo the Hornet

Best Zephyrs Player
1. Brandon Larson

— Has it really been nine years since Larson and his LSU teammates clobbered Alabama in the College World Series? Larson is still playing ball, now for the hometown Zephyrs, but he has moved from shortstop to third base, where he is trying to learn the new position and make his way up to the parent club, the Nationals.
2. Larry Breadway
3. Ryan Church

Best Shell Shockers Player
1. P.J. Kee

— He's been a hometown hero for years playing for Jesuit High School and then LSU. He may be a smaller-sized midfielder, but he makes up for it with his skills and leadership both on and off the field.
2. Dustin Brim
3. Frank Judice

Best Local Author
1. Chris Rose

— Millions of people read Rose's Times-Picayune post-Katrina columns, later collected in 1 dead in attic , following Rose as he tries to come to grips with his shattered adopted city. Picking up the paper and shaking our heads in agreement, we were all with this talented writer as he spent his days "lurching from one Ôepisode' to the next, just trying to live, just trying to survive, just trying not to crack up and publicly embarrass myself, my family and my newspaper."
2. Ann Rice
3. Doug Brinkley

Best Local Artist
1. Michalopoulos (617 Bienville St., 558-0505; www.michalopoulos.com) — His expressionistic paintings of New Orleans architecture, city scenes and people capture the mystical quality of everyday life in our city. To an outsider, a Michalopoulas painting of a shotgun house with wild angles and dripping colors might seem like something from an alternative universe. For us, it's home.
2. George Rodrigue (721 Royal St., 581-4244; www.georgerodrigue.com)
3. Frenchy (8319 Oak St., 861-7677; www.frenchylive.com)

Best Museum
1. New Orleans Museum of Art (1 Collins C. Diboll Circle, City Park, 488-2631; www.noma.org) — The grounds surrounding NOMA, the Sydney & Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, would be enough to please the aesthetic senses of most. When you add to it the permanent collection inside the museum, which includes paintings by Picasso, Degas, and Miro; a comprehensive survey of French art; photography; and glass; plus the numerous traveling art exhibitions NOMA hosts, you have a world class art museum any city would be proud of.
2. The National D-Day/WW II Museum (945 Magazine St., 527-6012; www.ddaymuseum.org)
3. Ogden Museum of Southern Art (925 Camp St., 539-9600; www.ogdenmuseum.org)

Best Art Gallery
1. Arthur Roger Gallery (432 Julia St., 522-1999; 730 Tchoupitoulas St., 524-9393; www.arthurrogergallery.com) — Arthur Roger gallery has been at the forefront of the city's private art galleries for nearly 30 years. Its home on Julia Street with 5,100 square feet offers ample room to showcase numerous artists including Douglas Bourgeois, Ida Kohlmeyer, and photographer/director John Waters. Be sure to visit and check out the latest Nicole Charbonnet exhibit, "The Truth About God."
2. Contemporary Arts Center (900 Camp St., 210-0224; www.cacno.org)
3. Guthrie Contemporary Art Gallery (3815 Magazine St. 897-2688; www.guthriecontemporary.com)

Best Place for Family Fun Outdoors
1. Audubon Zoo (6500 Magazine St., 581-4629; www.auduboninstitute.org) — If you have kids, this is the miracle in Audubon Park. No matter how miserable your children might sometimes be, a visit to the zoo will suddenly transform them into wide-eyed wunderkinds who can't get enough of the Louisiana Swamp, Discovery Walk, Embraceable Zoo and the new African Wild Dog exhibit.
2. Audubon Park (6500 St. Charles Ave., 861-2537; www.auduboninstitute.org)
3. City Park (482-4888; www.neworleanscitypark.com)

Best Place for Family Fun Indoors
1. Aquarium of the Americas (1 Canal St., 800-774-7394; www.auduboninstitute.org) — There was a long line outside when the Aquarium of the Americas reopened in May. Families with their tickets in hand could barely wait to return to visit with their old friends the penguins, sea otters Buck and Emma and to check out some of the Aquarium's new exhibits like "Land, Sea, and Me."
2. Louisiana Children's Museum (420 Julia St., 523-1357; www.lcm.org)
3. Chuck E. Cheese's (124 North Shore Blvd., Slidell, 866-224-2025; www.chuckecheese.com)

Best Place to Jog
1. Audubon Park (6500 St. Charles Ave., 861-2537; www.auduboninstitute.org) — A vicious rumor began to spread in the post-Katrina world that locals put on some extra pounds during the evacuation. Well, if they did there's plenty of them running it off on the jogging trails that wind around the Audubon Park's stately Live Oaks, well-manicured golf course and lagoons.
2. The levees
3. City Park (482-4888; www.neworleanscitypark.com)

Best Place to Bike
1. Audubon Park (6500 St. Charles Ave., 861-2537; www.auduboninstitute.org) — It's hard not to get caught up in all the natural beauty of the park, but keep an eye out for joggers, inline skaters and moms dutifully pushing their babies in strollers. If you keep to the outside lane, you can avoid most of the traffic as you gracefully go past those without the benefit of two large tires.
2. The levees
3. (TIE) Lakefront and City Park (482-4888; www.neworleanscitypark.com)

Best Golf Course
1. The Golf Club at Audubon Park (6500 St. Charles Ave., 212-5290; www.auduboninstitute.org) — Founded in 1898, it is considered by many to be the oldest golf course in the South. The original designer, Denis Griffiths, must have felt almost guilty with all the surrounding lush flora and fauna he had to work with. Mark Twain called golf "a good walk spoiled," but generations of Audubon duffers would strongly disagree with him.
2. English Turn Golf & Country Club (1 Clubhouse Drive, 391-8018; www.englishturn.com)
3. Chateau Golf & Country Club (Chateau Estates, 3600 Chateau Blvd., Kenner, 467-1351; www.chateaugc.com)

Best Tennis Courts
1. City Park (482-4888; www.neworleanscitypark.com) — There's good news for tennis players in New Orleans. The beloved courts at City Park soon will be open for extended hours, and both the clay and hard courts became available on Aug. 26. Thanks to a generous grant of $150,000 from United States Tennis Association, the courts were refurbished and a tennis staff was hired.
2. University of New Orleans (2000 Lakeshore Drive, 280-6000; www.uno.edu)
3. (TIE) New Orleans Country Club (5024 Pontchartrain Blvd., 482-2145) and New Orleans Lawn Tennis Club (5353 Laurel St., 899-1574)

Best Place to Get Married
1. St. Louis Cathedral (615 Pere Antione St., 525-9585; stlouiscathedral.org) — The rising triple steeples of the Cathedral are one of our city's most treasured landmarks, and the church is the oldest in Louisiana. The magnificent stained-glass windows, awe-inspiring architecture and location in the heart of the French Quarter all make this the perfect setting for your special day.
2. Holy Name of Jesus (6220 LaSalle Place, 865-7430)
3. Pavilion of the Two Sisters (City Park, 482-4888; www.neworleanscitypark.com)

Best Converted-warehouse Living Space
1. Cotton Mill (920 Poeyfarre St., 566-9700) — Local real estate experts predict "vertical living" will be the hottest trend in coming years as the city's redevelopment rises with high-end residences that sit above floodwaters and maximize limited land mass. With more than 6,000 square feet of commercial space and luxury condos above, Cotton Mill set the standard for the coming trend years ago.
2. American Can Company (3700 Orleans Ave., 207-0090)
3. Federal Fibre Mills (1101 S. Peters St., 558-0192)

Best Place to Work Locally
1. Harrah's New Orleans Casino (4 Canal St., 533-6000; www.harrahs.com) — While we thankfully don't look down Canal Street and see casino row, as some in charge once envisioned, there's no questioning Harrah's huge role in the local economy. Its quick return post-K was a helpful early boost, and the casino's huge operation provides the city with great live entertainment, top-flight restaurants and, of course, gambling.
2. Tulane University (6823 St. Charles Ave., 865-5000; www.tulane.edu)
3. Whole Foods Market (3420 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-8225; 5600 Magazine St., 899-7972; www.wholefoods.com)

Best Post-Katrina T-shirt
1. Make Levees Not War

— How many versions of this shirt did you spot at Jazz Fest? This turn of phrase on the Vietnam War-era protest mantra embodies the rationale that the nation's funding priorities should be in saving our cities instead of destroying others.

2. Mayor Wonka
3. Save NOLA

Best Festival
1. Jazz Fest

—This year's Jazz Fest brought a blissful sense of normalcy back into local life as these two weeks gave the city a chance to do what we do best: eat, drink and boogie. A landmark marathon with Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Irma Thomas singing the tear-jerking version of "Like A Bridge Over Troubled Water" and another joyous occasion with a reunited Meters provided just some of the high notes.
2. French Quarter Festival
3. Strawberry Festival

Best Carnival Day Parade
1. Rex

— Rex's royalty rules once again in this category. While steeped tradition and fabulous floats explain why Rex wins annually, this year's theme paid tribute to local artists — from Tennessee Williams to John James Audubon. The highlight came with a U.S. Coast Guard float, which garnered more cheers than cries for beads.
2. Zulu
3. Tucks

Best Carnival Night Parade
1. Endymion

— Mardi Gras' biggest, most over-the-top krewe managed to keep its traditions in tact as it moved from the traditional Mid-City route to the mandatory Uptown route. Another change came with Endymion using the services of master floatmaker/artist Henri Schindler for the floats in its 40th-anniversary year, which carried the theme "Legends and Lore of Gold."
2. Bacchus
3. Muses

Best Day Trip

1 . Mississippi Gulf Coast — It's more important now than ever to support the cherished, charming communities along our neighboring coast. Many old landmarks have been destroyed, but there's still plenty of choices, and it's just a short drive to soothing beaches, slow days and seafood. Oh, and the casinos are back now, too.
2. River Road Plantations
3. St. Francisville

Best Reason To Return To New Orleans
1. Food

— During the aforementioned Meters show at Jazz Fest, bassist extraordinaire George Porter Jr. started shouting during "They All Asked For You," a tune the band dedicated to all displaced New Orleanians, "gumbo É red beans and rice É FRIED SOFTSHELL CRAB ON FRENCH BREAD!" As each mouthwatering local diet staple was pitched in rhythm, Porter's voice and enthusiasm grew along with the crowd's rising roar. That about sums up how we feel about our food, which those of us who evacuated found out simply can't be found anywhere else.
2. It's home
3. The people

Best Sign of Recovery
1. Trash pickup

— Even in a city where we measure an event's success by how much garbage it produces, as per the city's old Carnival custom, the staggering piles of debris from the hurricane last fall created a stench and sight that added another block to returning home. While there's plenty of clean up left to do and controversy about how to best do it (read: the bipolar Chef Menteur landfill debate), the streets are thankfully cleaner now, clearing the road to recovery.
2. Schools opening
3. No sign

Best N'Awlins Favorite You Miss
1. Camellia Grill (626 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-9311) — When this beloved Carrollton Avenue landmark decided a few years ago to stop using white linen napkins and switch to paper, it sparked outrage and protest. That's how passionately we feel about Camellia Grill and its greasy-good traditions. From omelets in the morning to burgers late at night — all cooked and served with a hustling, hilarious staff — there are many reasons to miss this classic. Since its closing during Katrina, locals and tourists have adhered notes to the building beseeching owners to reopen and lamenting its absence.
2. Angelo Brocato's (214 N. Carrollton Ave., 486-0078)
3. St. Charles streetcar

Best New Use for a Blue Tarp
1. Slip & Slide

— FEMA decided that these blue tarps replace roofs, but you have discovered all manner of uses once you were back under solid shelter, and you don't have to be a kid to play like one on a slip and slide. But be careful, especially if there's beer around, because your body can't take what it used to. Trust us on this one.
2. Costume
3. Jazz Fest blanket

Best New Thing You Discovered in New Orleans
1. Resilience of people

— Our collective dogged and determined spirit that rose to last year's challenge disproved the adage that we're "The city that care forgot." In these grin-and-bear-it times, a renewed sense of pride — found in countless new fleur de lis tattoos, city flags, bumper stickers and T-shirts that celebrate the city and its culture — has given the city the optimism that we will rebuild and rebuild it right.
2. Pride in the city
3. Patience

Best Evacuation Destination
1. Houston

— One of the new bumper stickers sums it up: "Thanks, Houston." Despite Barbara Bush's inane comments about suddenly homeless New Orleanians crammed on the floor of the Astrodome "working out well for them," the city of Houston took us in with open arms. From educators providing schools for our children to club owners booking gigs for Kermit Ruffins, Houston made a home, sweet home for many Louisianans post-K.
2. (TIE) Baton Rouge and Lafayette
3. Austin, Texas

Best Place to Worship
1. St. Louis Cathedral (615 Pere Antoione St., 525-9585; stlouiscathedral.org) — As the church that christens, weds and buries our people, inaugurates our new mayor and serves as the president's backdrop in his pledge to help us, it's clear that our spiritual home is inside St. Louis Cathedral.
2. St. Patrick's Church (724 Camp St., 525-4413)
3. St. Dominic Church (775 Harrison Ave., 482-4156)

MEDIA

Best Radio Station
1. WWL-870 AM (www.wwl.com)—Recent market ratings show WWL has enjoyed a major jump in local listenership; its incredible service to the city during Katrina is why. Its place as the only source for information in the dark hours and days after Katrina is now the stuff of lore, and demand for the radio's coverage led to its presence on the FM dial at 105.
3.
2. WWOZ 90.7 (www.wwoz.org)
3. DIVA 9
2.3 (www.diva92
3.com
)

Best Local Radio Show
1. "Garland's Think Tank" (WWL 870-AM) — An experienced journalist as well as engaging provocateur, Garland Robinette asks people to climb inside his Think Thank for the afternoon, when he interviews, waxes and muses together a picture of post-Katrina New Orleans.
2. "The Spud Show" with Spud McConnell (WWL 870-AM)
3. "The Food Show" with Tom Fitzmorris (WSMB 1350-AM, WWL 870-AM, 105.3-FM)

Best Local Radio Talk Show Host
1. Garland Robinette (WWL 870-AM) — Simply put, Robinette's interview of Mayor Ray Nagin, in which Hizzoner woke America up with a profanity-laced assessment of just how miserable the situation was after Katrina, was local journalism's biggest moment in its biggest story ever. Nagin's plea for buses and troops spurred the cavalry to finally come, and Robinette's role in that will never be forgotten.
2. Spud McConnell (WWL 870-AM)
3. Tom Fitzmorris (WSMB 1350-AM, WWL 870-AM, 105.3-FM)

Best Local Web Site
1. Nola.com

— With Katrina knocking it temporarily out of print, moving its offices to Baton Rouge and famously forcing its reporters to work out of the back of delivery trucks, the Times-Picayune used its Web site like never before. Providing much-needed info to New Orleanians scattered around the country, nola.com delivered the news but also grew to become an online community, especially through myriad message boards that sprang up for displaced residents wanting a sense of home.
2.Bestofneworleans.com
3. WWL-TV.com

Best Local Blog
1. Nola.com

— Over the past year, New Orleanians have come to fully realize the importance of the latest trend in media. The site hosted a blog format of incoming news reports from Times-Picayune field reporters immediately after the storm. It has now expanded to feature a number of varied blogs, covering news, arts, local music, fishing, FEMA complaints, the Saints and more.
2. Frank Davis (wwltv.com)
3. Nolafugees.com

Best Local Publication
1. Gambit Weekly

— How flattering! We love it when you pick us up and read us. "Because New Orleans needs an alternative" has become our motto, and we work hard to prove why, working to deliver hard-hitting news, colorful profiles, arts and entertainment coverage, and local favorites like Ronnie Virgets, Clancy DuBos and Blake Pontchartrain.
2. Times-Picayune
3. City Business

Best Local Columnist
1. Chris Rose ( Times-Picayune ) — The serious situation Katrina brought to New Orleans inspired Rose to shift gears from the celebrity-gossip beat to covering all facets of local life in his "My City" column, now appearing Fridays in the Lagniappe section of the Times-Picayune . Rose's Katrina-related work earned him honor as a Pulitzer Prize finalist in the commentary category. The best of that body is compiled in his book, 1 dead in attic .
2. Clancy DuBos ( Gambit Weekly )
3. Angus Lind ( Times-Picayune )

Best Local TV Newscast
1. WWL

— With its stellar roster of anchors and reporters, the familiar faces on WWL feel like family. With its around-the-clock Katrina coverage, WWL simply built on its dominance in this category and its local market share, the highest in the country.
2. WDSU
3. Fox 8 WVUE

Best TV Hair (Male)
1. Bob Breck (Fox 8 WVUE) — We have lots of time to check out Bob Breck, especially during hurricane season. Not only do we hear his high-pitched predictions, but we also see his hair, as unique as the man under it.
2. Roop Raj (WDSU)
3. The Mackels (WDSU)

Best TV Hair (Female)
1. Angela Hill (WWL) —Longtime WWL anchor Angela Hill is truly the queen of this category, winning it virtually every year. We've seen Hill's 'do change with the times — as last year's hilarious montage of stock footage in a Press Club Awards appearance with former husband and anchor Garland Robinette attested —but she always manages to stay true to her style.
2. Helena Moreno (WDSU)
3. Lucy Bustamante (WWL)

Best Dressed Local Male TV Personality
1. Norman Robinson (WDSU) — Norman Robinson sports a wardrobe as smooth as his voice. No matter if you catch him on the air or attending any number of events around town, you'll never catch Robinson looking less than dapper.
2. Roop Raj (WDSU)
3. Lee Zurik (WWL)

Best Dressed Local Female TV Personality
1. Angela Hill (WWL) — It's a tribute to Angela Hill that she can deliver the news all straight-faced and serious but also sporting a fun fashion sense that combines her unique colors, jewelry and clothes. Oh, and her hair, too.
2. Lucy Bustamante (WWL)
3. Helena Moreno (WDSU) Best Local TV Reporter Who's Ready to Go National
1. (TIE) Lucy Bustamante (WWL) and Roop Raj (WDSU) — A New Orleans native that as a girl sat in on the Sally Ann Roberts-hosted Our Generation show, Lucy Bustamante had a banner term in her third year at WWL with spot-on reporting from the 17th Street canal levee breach, Mayor Nagin's testimony before Congress and Gov. Kathleen Blanco's historic trip to Cuba. The epitome of an eager, energetic young reporter, the slick, smooth Roop Raj is equally at home interviewing political heavyweights or broadcasting live from the front seat of an antique car in Ponchatoula.
2. Helena Moreno (WDSU)
3. Lee Zurick (WWL) Best Local TV Weathercaster
1. Bob Breck (Fox-8 WVUE) — In a city that must trust and rely on its weathercasters more than any other, Bob Breck regularly wins your votes as New Orleans' Best. In addition to consistent day-to-day accuracy, Breck can no longer be questioned about his often-dire predictions about the potential threat of a hurricane he's tracking.
2. Carl Arredondo (WWL)
3. Margaret Orr (WDSU)

Best Local TV Sportscaster
1. Jim Henderson (WWL) — Jim Henderson might have had the sports call of the year during one commentary in which he assailed Tom Benson's notion of post-K New Orleans no longer being able to support the Saints. "Every Saints fan who has given this franchise more fans per victory than any other franchise in NFL history knows where that home should be," he stated with his trademark smooth, steady delivery. Such calls are the reason you vote Henderson the guy you turn to for sports year after year.

2. Fletcher Mackel (WDSU)
3. Juan Kincaid (WWL)

Best Local Commercial
1. Frankie and Johnny's

— "I say!" — you say, we all say — that the cigar-chompin' Special Man has long led to the best commercial in town, letting us have it as he showcases the store's furniture.
2. Blue Cross Blue Shield
3. Morris Bart

Best Reason to Pick Up Gambit Weekly
1. Entertainment listings

—Every Sunday, Gambit Weekly lists for you the many options you have that week: places to eat, movies to see, bands to hear, theater and arts to experience. We bolster the listings section with our recommended picks to highlight the best the city has to offer in the coming days.

2. Local news and info
3. Restaurants/food

Best National Correspondent on Katrina Assignment
1. Anderson Cooper (CNN) — Who can forget the silver-haired Anderson Cooper vehemently dressing down Sen. Mary Landrieu while she praised emergency congressional actions and he referred to rat-eaten corpses in the streets? His tireless efforts and intimate involvement with the story — and with the city and its citizens — won our hearts. And Cooper has followed up on his early exposure of the inept response to Katrina with many return visits for heart-warming profiles and hard-hitting reporting.

2. Brian Williams (NBC)
3. Shepard Smith (Fox)

GOODS AND SERVICES

Best Men's Clothing Store
1. Perlis (6070 Magazine St., 895-8661; 1281 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, 985-674-1711) — Perlis has measured New Orleans men as they've grown from childhood Easter egg hunts to their weddings to their children's weddings. The local institution is known for one-on-one personal service, its variety of fashions from suits to casual wear to shoes, its signature crawfish logo shirts, and the intimate feeling of being in a small haberdashery.
2. Rubensteins (102 St. Charles Ave., 581-6666; www.rubensteinsfashion.com)
3. Jos. A. Banks (230 Carondelet St., 528-9491; www.josabanks.com)

Best Women's Clothing Store
1. Dillard's (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 833-1075; www.dillards.com) — Dillard's caters to all womens' fashion needs and whims, showcasing formal gowns as well as the trendy collection of edgy designer Gianni Bini, plus a full line of jewelry, purses, shoes and accessories.
2. Ann Taylor (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 835-1127; www.anntaylor.com)
3. Hemline (3308 Magazine St., 269-4005)

Best Children's Clothing Store
1. Gap Kids (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 835-3807; www.gapkids.com) — A rainbow of colors and stylish neutrals are fashioned into the latest designs for the young, hip set, whether they need to pick up something for the playground, a birthday party, school uniforms, socks and shoes or just a cool hat.
2. Pippen Lane (2929 Magazine St., 269-0106)
3. Giggleberries (5509 Magazine St., 899-5509)

Best Clothing Store for Teenagers
1. Old Navy (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 837-8991; www.oldnavy.com) — Young men and women can find exactly what they want to wear, without wearing out mom and dad's finances. From patterned button-downs and leather flip-flops for boys to corduroy vests and boots for girls, Old Navy delivers a full line of clothes and accessories.

2. Gap (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 835-3807; www.gap.com)
3. Forever 21 (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-9620; www.forever21.com)

Best Shoe Store for Men
1. Dillard's (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 833-1075; www.dillards.com) — The men's shoe department at Dillard's rivals stand-alone shoe stores for variety, brands, colors and sizes available — and it provides one-stop shoe shopping because the selection runs the gamut from dress and casual to boots, sandals and athletic shoes.
2. Rubensteins (102 St. Charles Ave., 581-6666; www.rubensteinsfashion.com)
3. Perlis (1281 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, 985-674-1711; 6070 Magazine St., 895-8661)

Best Shoe Store for Women
1. Shoe Nami (3118 Magazine St., 895-1717; 3319 Severn Ave., Metairie, 885-0805) —The dream-come-true for two local sisters dedicated to creating a shoe store built on the ideas of being affordable, fun and fashion-forward, Shoe Nami wrote its own success story by developing a selection and color-coded layout that emphasizes the shopping experience.
2. Dillard's (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 833-1075; www.dillards.com)
3. Feet First (4119 Magazine St., 899-6800)

Best Place to Buy Evening Wear
1. Dillard's (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 833-1075; www.dillards.com) — If you're heading out for anything from a cocktail party to a wedding, Dillard's has the threads to fit the occasion. Men and women both can find the styles they're looking for with a huge inventory at good prices, plus tailoring and alteration services.
2. Mimi (5500 Magazine St., 269-6464)
3. Chatta Box (4114 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 454-1527; www.bellisimabridal.com)

Best Place to Buy a Men's Suit
1. Rubensteins (102 St. Charles Ave., 581-6666; www.rubensteinsfashion.com) — For more than 80 years, Rubensteins has suited local Kingfish well with the latest styles by top designers such as Giorgio Armani. The store also provides in-house custom tailoring and accessories such as shoes and ties to complete your look.
2. Perlis (6070 Magazine St., 895-8661; 1281 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, 985-674-1711)
3. Dillard's (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 833-1075; www.dillards.com)

Best Place to Buy Lingerie
1. Victoria's Secret (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-1448; www.victoriassecret.com) — If there were a category for best catalogue, Victoria's Secret would probably win that, too. It's easy to see why as models show off the national giant's inventory, from everyday wear to that sexy something special.
2. Basics Underneath (5513 Magazine St., 894-1000; 12 St. Ann Drive, Suite 5, Mandeville, 985-727-9521)
3. House of Lounge (2044 Magazine St., 671-8300)

Best Place to Buy Vintage Clothing
1. Funky Monkey (3127 Magazine St., 899-5587) — A true clothing exchange, Funky Monkey will buy or trade for your clothes, and the resulting merchandise provides a fashion windfall for those who are hip and on a budget. Nearing a decade in business, Funky Monkey also carries reconstructed vintage clothing and the latest inspirations from local designers.
2. Miss Claudia's Vintage Clothing & Costumes (4204 Magazine St., 897-6310)
3. Buffalo Exchange (3312 Magazine St., 891-7443; www.buffaloexchange.com)

Best Place to Buy Eyewear
1. St. Charles Vision (8040 St. Charles Ave., 866-6311; 3200 Severn Ave., Metairie, 887-2020; 837 S. Clearview Pkwy., Jefferson, 733-0406; 817 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner, 712-3551; 1844 N. Causeway Blvd., Northlake Shopping Center, Mandeville, 985-626-8103; 200 Southwest Railroad Ave., Hammond Square Mall, Hammond, 985-542-9410; 3909 Lapalco Blvd., Harvey, 328-9733; www.stcharlesvision.com) — St. Charles Vision's approach is summed up in its motto, "Feel better, see better, look better." Beyond its team of doctors providing check-ups, exams and emergency services, the local franchise also has its eye on fashion, with a large stock of the latest styles in frames, lenses and sunglasses.
2. Uptown Eyecare (4004 Magazine St., 899-3937)
3. Eyemasters (1801 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey, 361-4200; 3501 Severn Ave., Suite 17, Metairie, 243-0330; 1401 W. Esplanade Ave., Suite 208, Kenner, 461-3760; www.eyemasters.com)

Best Shopping Mall
1. Lakeside Shopping Center (3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 835-8000; www.lakeside shopping.com) — Anchored by big national department stores and boosted by locally owned favorites, Lakeside — with more than 120 shops, boutiques and restaurants in total — has it all when it comes to completing your shopping experience. The mall also caters to birthday parties, offers exercise classes for pre- and post-natal moms and hosts special events.
2. The Shops at Canal Place (333 Canal St., 522-9200; www.theshops atcanalplace.com)
3. The Esplanade (1401 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner, 468-6993)

Best Consignment Shop
1. Prima Donna's Closet (4409 Chastant St., Metairie, 885-3327; 1206 St. Charles Ave., 522-3327) — Prima Donna attracts a clientele that wants to own a high-end wardrobe created by big-name designers, but not pay big prices for it. At both stores you'll find a huge discount on apparel from wedding dresses to furs.
2. Funky Monkey (3127 Magazine St., 899-5587)
3. On the Other Hand Exclusive Resale Boutique (8204 Oak St., 861-0159; www.ontheotherhandconsignment.com)

Best Toy Store
1. Toys R Us (4800 Lapalco Blvd., Marrero, 347-8426; 3609 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 455-9513www.toysrus.com) — It's hard not to get all giddy and childlike when you step into Toys R Us and through its row upon row of fun stuff. The store holds everything your kid could want, such as action figures, bicycles and dolls, plus items you'll appreciate, such as back-to-school essentials and educational toys.
2. Magic Box (5508 Magazine St., 899-0117)
3. Le Jouet (1700 Airline Drive, Metairie, 837-0533)

Best Place to Buy Furniture
1. Hurwitz Mintz (211 Royal St., 568-9555; 1751 Airline Drive, Metairie, 378-1000; www.hurwitzmintz.com) — With two stores and more than 115,000 square feet of display space, Hurwitz Mintz's showcase of its huge collection of fine furniture inspires ways to create your dream décor that looking in magazines and online simply can't. From 18th century classical to sleek contemporary, Hurwitz Mintz has it all.
2. Doerr Furniture (914 Elysian Fields, 947-0606; www.doerrfurniture.com)
3. Kirschman's Furniture (62 Westbank Expwy., Gretna, 367-4100; 4800 Chef Menteur Hwy., 945-4111; 5800 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 889-2770; www.kirschman.com)

Best Place to Buy Lamps/Lighting
1. Lighting Inc. (Pontchartrain Square, 3547 Hwy. 190, Mandeville, 985-727-9368; www.lightinginconline.com) — With more than 40 years in business, this local, family-owned store has built its reputation with good prices on the Best brands, a large inventory that includes a selection of both indoor and outdoor lighting, along with a staff that covers everything "down to the wire." Its Tulane Avenue location was damaged by Katrina, but the Northshore expansion and online ordering keep the tradition in tact.
2. Home Depot (12300 I-10 Service Road, 246-4572; 5151 Citrus Blvd., Suite A, Harahan, 729-4400; 62 Westbank Expressway, Gretna, 362-3460; www.homedepot.com)
3. Lowe's (2501 Elysian Fields Ave., 948-8568; 1201 Jefferson Hwy., 838-0541; 1351 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey, 227-0495; www.lowes.com)

Best Antiques Store
1. Bush Antiques (2109 Magazine St., 581-3518; www.bushantiques.com) — Highly recognized and patronized by antiques aficionados, Bush Antiques has gained plenty of attention since this mom-and-daughter business first opened in 1969. The store showcases its self-described "offbeat flair" in an artful display that combines the finest from New Orleans and Europe.
2. (TIE)M.S. Rau Antiques (630 Royal St., 523-5660 or (800) 544-9440; www.rauantiques.com) and Renaissance Interiors (100 N. Labarre Road, 304-5020; 3815 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 454-3320)
3. Top Drawer (4310 Magazine St., 832-9080; www.topdrawerantiques.net)

Best Fabric Store
1. Fabrixx (51 Park Place Drive, Covington, 985-809-1110; 755 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Suite C, Metairie, 832-9051) — Both of the area Fabrixx stores carry an impressive inventory you can literally tailor to your needs, no matter the pattern, price or texture you desire. This locally owned home-decorating mecca serves professionals as well as everyday people.
2. Hancock Fabrics (2104 Franklin Ave., Gretna, 367-5761; 4310 Waverly St., Metairie, 455-9111)
3. Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts (1111 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-2910; 7000 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 456-2083; www.JoAnn.com)

Best Place to Buy a Wedding Gift
1. Adler's (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 523-5292; 722 Canal St., 523-5292; www.adlersjewelry.com) — A local tradition since 1898, the Adler family and its team of talented artists create a wide range of unique gift items, including home ornaments, fine china, stemware and flatware.
2. Bed, Bath & Beyond (4410 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 454-6930; www.bedbathandbeyond.com)
3. Dillard's (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 833-1075; www.dillards.com)

Best Place to Have Something Framed
1. Gordon's of Metairie (725 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 837-9416) —The experienced artisans at Gordon's perform custom frame jobs that run the gamut from the traditional to trendy to Best present and preserve both high-brow art and treasured family portraits.
2. Michael's (1200 S. Clearview Pkwy. Suite 1302, Harahan, 818-2112; 8851 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 464-9884; www.Michaels.com)
3. Lakeview Gallery & Framing (819 W. Esplanade Ave., Suite B, Kenner, 464-1444; www.lakeviewgallery.com)

Best Jewelry Store
1. Mignon Faget Ltd. (3801 Magazine St., 891-2005; The Shops at Canal Place, 333 Canal St., 524-2973; Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 835-2244; www.mignonfaget.com) — Beyond her signature line of fleur de lis-themed jewelry — now more popular than ever — world-renowned designer and native New Orleanian Mignon Faget cites nature's shapes as her founding inspiration for rings, necklaces, pendants, earrings and more. Her expanding franchise also offers linens, fragrances, home accessories and more.
2. Aucoin Hart Jewelers (1525 Metairie Road, Metairie, 834-9999)
3. Adler's (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 523-5292; 722 Canal St., 523-5292; www.adlersjewelry.com)

Best Dry Cleaner
1. Liberto's (4814 Prytania St., 897-2161; 8128 Willow St., 861-7812) — A third-generation family business that first opened its doors in 1932, Liberto's does its business the old-fashioned way: by hand. Instead of relying on automated machines that tend to mash clothing, Liberto's hand presses every piece of clothing, which helps with the stores' specialty of restoring antique garments.
2. Deluxe Laundry Cleaners Storage (5325 Canal Blvd., 488-7716)
3. Classic Cleaners (1820 Dickory Ave., Jefferson, 734-9111; 5928 W. Metairie Ave., Metairie, 736-9062; 4616 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 887-9958)

Best Hospital
1. East Jefferson General Hospital (4200 Houma Blvd., Metairie, 454-4000; www.ejhospital.com) —Celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, East Jefferson has adopted the slogan "Then, now and always." A frequent Best Hospital winner over the years, East Jefferson offers all the top-quality services — from delivering babies to treating sleep disorders — to keep the city happy and healthy.
2. Ochsner Foundation Hospital (1516 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson, 842-3000; www.ocshnerfoundation.org)
3. Touro Infirmary (1401 Fourcher St., 897-7011;www.touro.com)

Best Doctor for a Nip and Tuck
1. Gustav Colon (4224 Houma Blvd., Suite 120, Metairie, 888-4297) —Dr. Gustav Colon has been helping locals look their Best for 30 years. His practice treats any work above the waist: from nose, eye and ear jobs, to body contours such as liposuction, tummy tucks and breast augmentations.
2. Calvin Johnson (2427 St. Charles Ave., 895-7642)
3. John Church (3525 Prytania St., 895-4561)

Best Chiropractor
1. Stagni Chiropractic (3227 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 443-2225) — For more than 30 years, Leroy Stagni has delivered chiropractic care to New Orleanians in need, and now his son Joseph joins him in continuing the tradition of performing all of the practice's holistic approaches to your body.
2. (TIE) Gerry Provance (2007 Clearview Pkwy., Metairie, 456-9296) and Paul Tassin (2001 42nd St., Kenner, 443-6000)
3. Sylvi Beaumont (1138 S. Carrollton Ave., 864-1234)

Best Health Club
1. Elmwood Fitness Center (701 Poydras St., suite 1300, 588-1600; 1200 S. Clearview Pkwy., Suite 1200, 733-1600; 111 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 832-1600; www.elmwoodfitness.com) — Elmwood distinguishes itself with an all-inclusive approach to fitness, from machines and classes that push and propel your body to cafes serving healthy snacks to nourish to yoga studios and massage parlors to round out your regimen.
2. New Orleans Jewish Community Center (5342 St. Charles Ave., 897-0143; 3747W Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 887-5158; www.nojcc.com)
3. New Orleans Athletic Club (222 N Rampart St., 525-2375; www.neworleansathleticclub.com)

Best Place to Take a Yoga Class
1. Wild Lotus (4842 Perrier St., 899-0047) — NOLA yogis say "namaste" once again to Wild Lotus founder Sean Johnson, who has in four years transformed this small Uptown space into a yoga center that not only offers classes for all manner of experience and purpose, but workshops, retreats and concerts as well.
2. Elmwood Fitness Center (701 Poydras St., Suite 1300, 588-1600; 1200 S. Clearview Pkwy., Suite 1200, Metairie, 733-1600; 111 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 832-1600; www.elmwoodfiness.com)
3. Tapas Yoga (4413 Chastant St., Metairie, 256-5255; www.tapasyoga.net)

Best Barbershop
1. Aidan Gill For Men (2026 Magazine St., 587-9090; www.aidangillformen.com) — This Uptown classic marches on in what a GQ magazine profile labeled Aidan Gill's "good fight against unisex mediocrity" to take home top honors in this category once again. A blend of old-school barbershop and fashion-forward salon, Aidan Gill provides a solid trim along with treats such as hot-towel shaves.
2. Golden Shears (6008 Magazine St., 895-9269)
3. Algie Hailey's (603 Metairie Road, Metairie, 831-1827)

Best Hair Salon
1. Paris Parker (Shops at Canal Place, 333 Canal St., 568-1124; 4900 Prytania St., 990-2468; Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 846-5256; www.parisparker.com) —With a lofty mission of creating global harmony and making each salon experience a transformative one, Paris Parker, featuring Aveda products, puts a stylish spin on your hairdo, whether you need a cut, coloring, highlights or scalp work.
2. H2O (441 Metairie Road, Metairie, 835-4377)
3. The Look (5434 Magazine St., 895-1242)

Best Day Spa
1. Belladonna Day Spa (2900 Magazine St., 891-4393; www.belladonnadayspa.com) — To understand why Belladonna returns to the top of this list year in and year out, check the Best Of categories below: Belladonna excels in delivering the spa experience from your head down to your feet. Its holistic approach to a healthy, happy you is encompassed in its "Be" philosophy, which even extends to demanding you Be prepared this hurricane season.
2. Earthsavers (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 835-0225; 5501 Magazine St., 899-8555; 3414 U.S. Hwy. 190, Mandeville, 985-674-1133; www.earthsaversonline.com)
3. H2O (441 Metairie Road, Metairie, 835-4377)

Best Place to Get a Manicure/Pedicure
1. Belladonna Day Spa (2900 Magazine St., 891-4393; www.belladonnadayspa.com) — Put your Best foot forward with a pedicure from Belladonna, where you can choose from options like "Walk on the Beach," which uses sand, sea minerals and other ocean treats. Or raise your hand for a manicure, whether it's therapy for tired hands or a system to repair damaged nails.
2. Earthsavers (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 835-0225; 5501 Magazine St., 899-8555; 3414 U.S. Hwy. 190, Mandeville, 985-674-1133; www.earthsaversonline.com)
3. H2O (441 Metairie Road, Metairie, 835-4377)

Best Place to Get a Facial
1. Belladonna Day Spa (2900 Magazine St., 891-4393; www.belladonnadayspa.com) — Belladonna's pampering approach to your skin care is found in its extensive facial options, each with its own style of treatment and effect. There's a facial for those over 40, for those looking to take some redness out, for purifying pores and much more — there's even a facial designed for men, proving that everybody can enjoy a facial from Belladonna.
2. Earthsavers (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 835-0225; 5501 Magazine St., 899-8555; 3414 U.S. Hwy. 190, Mandeville, 985-674-1133; www.earthsaversonline.com)
3. H2O (441 Metairie Road, Metairie, 835-4377)

Best Place to Get a Massage
1. Belladonna Day Spa (2900 Magazine St., 891-4393; www.belladonnadayspa.com) —Belladonna has myriad methods to restore and relax you through massage. Whether you're in a tub soaking up hydrotherapy or breathing in aromatherapy, or an expecting mother, simply needing to work out some tension or craving the touch of warm stones, this Uptown spa has the rub.
2. Earthsavers (Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 835-0225; 5501 Magazine St., 899-8555; 3414 U.S. Hwy. 190, Mandeville, 985-674-1133; www.earthsaversonline.com)
3. H2O (441 Metairie Road, Metairie, 835-4377)

Best Tanning Salon
1. Planet Beach (5300 Tchoupitoulas St., Suite F7, 891-8267; 1000 S. Clearview Pkwy., Suite 1006, Metairie, 736-0550, 301 Burgundy St., 525-8266; 10162 Jefferson Hwy., River Ridge, 737-3826; 3910 Gen. DeGaulle Drive, 363-8266; 701 Dante St., 865-8266; 1600 St. Charles Ave., 586-8267; www.planetbeach.com) — Planet Beach founder and CEO Stephen Smith clearly found a successful formula when he opened the first location Uptown in 1995. Hundreds of locations across have country have sprung up over the last decade, with future plans for 300 more, as people flock to Planet Beach for its approach to making a visit as soothing and rejuvenating as a day at the beach.
2. City Beach (3000 Severn Ave., Suite 3, Metairie, 888-0017)
3. Bask Tanning and Hair Inc. (5300 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Suite 4, Metairie, 885-2275)

Best Body Piercing/Tattoo Parlor
1. Electric Ladyland (610 Frenchmen St., 947-8286; 575 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-3859; www.electricladyland.net) —Despite having lost an Uptown location to Katrina, Electric Ladyland laid down lots of ink at its French Quarter location and another it has on Carrollton Avenue. Readers again voted the parlor the city's top place to get inked. The popularity is due to a stellar, experienced roster of in-house artists able to draw your dreams (or demons), plus lots of ready-made designs. The shop has played its role in boosting civic pride with countless fleur de lis tattoos, which have stayed in high demand since the storm.
2. Rings of Desire (1128 Decatur St., 524-6147)
3. Crescent City Tattoo Co. (4800 Magazine St., 269-8282)

Best Place to Buy CDs
1. Tower Records/Video/Books (408 N. Peters St., 529-8897; www.towerrecords.com) —With two floors of music and more, Tower has the space and staff to showcase every genre of music, with all the legends, plus some obscure cult favorites populating the shelves. Whether you're looking for a box set or simply a booth to sample sounds, Tower has the goods.
2. Best Buy (6205 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie,780-0172; 1601 Westbank Expwy., Harvey, 364-0411; www.bestbuy.com)
3. Louisiana Music Factory (210 Decatur St., 586-1094)

Best Place to Buy Local Music
1. Louisiana Music Factory (210 Decatur St., 586-1094; www.louisianamusicfactory.com) — Louisiana Music Factory ships orders for our greatest natural resource — music — all over the world, but locals love it, too. Shop here for regional jazz, blues, zydeco, rock, gospel and everything in between on vinyl or disc, or for DVDs, books, posters and other music memorabilia. Stop in Saturday afternoons for its series of in-store performances.
2. Tower (408 N. Peters St., 529-8897; www.towerrecords.com)
3. Mushroom (1037 Broadway St., 866-6065)

Best DVD/Video Store
1. Blockbuster (citywide; www.blockbuster.com) —Blockbuster has managed to survive and even thrive in days of video on-demand and digital cable by eliminating those annoying late fees and has added a delivered-to-your-door rental option. So now you have plenty of time to enjoy its extensive catalogue of films.
2. Best Buy (6205 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 708-0172; 1601 Westbank Expy., Harvey, 364-0411; www.bestbuy.com)
3. Tower (408 N. Peters St., 529-8897)

Best Bookstore
1. Barnes & Noble (1601 Westbank Expy., Harvey, 263-1146; 3414 Hwy. 190, Suite 10, Mandeville, 985-626-8884; 3721 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 455-4929; 1601 Westbank Expy., Harvey, 263-1146; www.bn.com)— Shopping at Barnes & Noble can extend into an hours-long adventure, as the chain boasts such amenities as cafes, a children's section complete with entertainment, music and more. But the focus remains on books, and here you can access millions of titles, from current Bestsellers to classics to out-of-print rarities.
2. Octavia Books (513 Octavia St., 899-7323)
3. Maple Street Books (7523 Maple St., 866-4916)

Best Bookstore to Find Books by Local Authors
1. (TIE) Barnes & Noble (1601 Westbank Expwy., Harvey, 263-1146; 3414 Hwy. 190, Suite 10, Mandeville, 985-626-8884; 3721 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 455-4929; www.bn.com) and Octavia Books (513 Octavia St., 899-7323; www.octaviabooks.com) — While Barnes & Noble's impressive catalogue can be a bit daunting in terms of scope, you can quickly and easily find works by local authors in a concise section labeled as such. In addition, each area store regularly hosts events featuring Louisiana writers. A refreshingly independent shop in the age of chains and consolidations, Octavia Books is inspired by its mission to serve as a place for NOLA bibliophiles to exchange art and ideas. Mission accomplished. Here, local writers can be found on the shelves, featured in its multiple book clubs as well as reading and discussing their work during signings.
2. Maple Street Books (7523 Maple St., 866-4916)
3. Garden District Books (The Rink, 2727 Prytania St., 895-2266)

Best Place to Buy a Pre-owned Car
1. Lexus of New Orleans (8811 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 207-3100; www.lexusneworleans.com) — No used-car lot jokes apply here. Lexus of New Orleans earns your trust in buying pre-owned cars by putting all such cars through its rigorous 161-point inspection checklist, backed up by a three-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
2. Sewell Cadillac (840 Carondelet St., 561-0274; 701 Baronne St., 581-7585)
3. Bryan Chevrolet, Inc. (8213 Airline Drive, Metairie, 466-6000)

Best Place to Buy a New Car
1. Lexus of New Orleans (8811 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 207-3100; www.lexusneworleans.com) — There's plenty of luxury attached to a new Lexus, as these cars consistently rank among the most excellent models on the road. Plenty of style points, too. Our local dealership makes purchasing and owning a Lexus more enjoyable and easier with a huge inventory, online comparison services, financing, maintenance and accessories.
2. Mercedes Benz of New Orleans (3727 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 456-3727)
3. Sewell Cadillac (840 Carondelet St., 561-0274; 701 Baronne St., 581-7585)

Best Bank
1. Hibernia/ Capital One (citywide; www.capitalone.com) — While funnyman David Spade goofs on the "No!" theme for Capitol One's generous credit card rewards program, New Orleans says "Yes!" to the merger of this national bank and our beloved local institution, Hibernia. It's a different shade of green these days at all the local bank locations, but the colors most locals are concerned about are those familiar glows from the bank's landmark tower in the CBD, which will still light up for Christmas, Carnival and other holidays.
2. Whitney National Bank (citywide; www.whitneybank.com)
3. Chase (citywide; www.chase.com)

Best Wireless Phone Service
1. Cingular (citywide; www.cingular.com) — Cingular says it is raising the bar — and keeping them up, too, as this cellular company was recently rated as the service with the fewest dropped calls. Whether it's because of high-tech options such as the new SmartPhone or special deals like 500 minutes for $4.99 a month, Cingular has New Orleans talking.
2. Sprint (citywide; www.cingular.com)
3. Verizon (citywide; www.verizon.com)

Best Place to Buy Home Electronics
1. Best Buy (6205 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 780-0172; 1601 Westbank Expy, Harvey, 364-0411; www.bestbuy.com) —You might be struck by a sense of sensory overload when you enter either area Best Buy store. But get beyond that initial shock and peruse a massive storeroom for anything and everything you could imagine to wire your home in the digital age.
2. Circuit City (2421 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 467-3339; 4945 Lapalco Blvd., Marrero; 348-2279; www.circuitcity.com)
3. A-1 Appliance & Electronics (3708 Lapalco Blvd., Harvey, 349-8400; 775 Behrman Hwy., Gretna, 392-8888)

Best Place to Buy a Camera
1. Best Buy (6205 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 708-0172; 1601 Westbank Expy, Harvey, 364-0411; www.bestbuy.com) — It's truly a modern marvel what functions digital cameras can perform these days, and Best Buy allows you the chance for a hands-on trial of its extensive inventory to find the features you need. In addition to basic digital cameras to high-end, eight mega-pixel-plus ones, Best Buy also sells film cameras and a range of related equipment and accessories.
2. Lakeside Camera & Imaging (3508 21st St., Metairie, 885-8660; 3021 N. Arnoult St., Metairie, 885-8850)
3. Bennett's Camera & Video (3230 Severn Ave., Metairie, 885-9050)

Best Bicycle Store
1. GNO Cyclery (1426 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-0023) —Whether you're looking for a sleek, high-end Cannondale 10-speed, a simple street cruiser or a child's bike, GNO — a repeat winner in this category — has you covered. Everything for two-wheel travel is here, from gears to an on-site maintenance shop to sporty baby strollers.
2. Joe's Bicycle Shop (2509 Tulane Ave., 821-2354)
3. Adam's Bicycle World (701 Jefferson Hwy., 861-0032)

Best Sporting Goods Store
1. Academy Sports & Outdoors (50 Westside Shopping Center, Gretna, 363-8283; 1000 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner, 712-3320; www.academysport.com) — Academy wrote the lesson plan on how to properly gear-up for sports and outdoors. Both of the sprawling area locations house all manner of camping equipment such as stoves and sleeping bags, equipment kids need for youth leagues, plus coolers and lawn chairs for armchair quarterbacks.
2. Massey's High Performance Outdoors (3363 Severn Ave., Metairie, 885-1144; www.masseys.net)
3. The Sports Authority (5151 Citrus Blvd., Harahan, 734-7271; www.sportsauthority.com)

Best Veterinary/Animal Clinic
1. Metairie Small Animal Hospital (101 Metairie Road, Metairie, 835-4266; www.mash.com) — The vets here have been taking care of our furry friends for nearly 60 years. Not only does the staff perform emergency procedures as well as routine check-ups, Metairie Small Animal Hospital offers boarding and grooming services, pick-up and delivery of your pets and online tips on how toBest handle your animals during a hurricane evacuation.
2. Causeway Animal Hospital (1315 N. Causeway Blvd., Metairie, 828-2700)
3. Prytania Veterinary Clinic (4907 Prytania St., 899-2828)

Best Hotel
1. W Hotel (333 Poydras St., 525-9444;www.whotels.com) —The local W Hotel reopened post-Katrina during Jazz Fest with a raucous celebration complete with a second line and intimate concert with R&B superstar Lauryn Hill. It as a fitting move for this boutique hotel, which provides a classy yet cutting-edge juxtaposition to traditional hotels.
2. Windsor Court (300 Gravier St., 745-8883; www.orient-express.com)
3. Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal St., 782-9722; www.hotelmonteleone.com)

Best Local Attorney
1. Morris Bart (Morris Bart PLC, 909 Poydras St., 800-876-2244; www.morrisbart.com) —A highly visible force in local litigation, Morris Bart and his army of attorneys repeat as winners in this category. With the slogan "One call, that's all," Bart's offices offer free case consultation and specialize in litigation for auto accidents, commercial vehicle accidents and offshore worker injuries.
2. Frank D'Amico (622 Baronne St., 525-7272; www.damicolaw.net)
3. Paul Preston (909 Poydras St., 527-0680)

Best Auto Repair Shop
1. Uptown Auto Specialist (501 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-8392) — Drive — or tow — your car to this full-service repair shop in the Riverbend. Uptown Auto handles everything for imported cars, from tires to brakes to routine maintenance, with particular expertise in fixing up Volvos, Mercedes and BMWs.
2. Crescent City Automotive Inc. (4619 Magazine St., 899-3800)
3. Kehoe Tire (5000 Freret St., 897-5050)

Best Place to Get a Flat Fixed
1. (TIE) Firestone (citywide; www.firestone.com) and Uptown Shell Auto Care Center (6001 Magazine St., 895-8200) — Do you know anybody that hasn't needed to fix a flat since Katrina? As we've driven over and cursed countless nails on city streets, it's a good thing a Firestone can be found in nearly every part of the metro area. You can treat your car to much more than a tank of gas at the locally owned Uptown Shell station at the corner of Magazine and State streets. You can take your ride to experienced mechanics for routine maintenance, major repairs and, of course, fixing a flat tire.
2. Bill's Auto Collision Repair (4704 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, 455-4811)
3. Fleur de Lis Car Care Center (247 W. Harrison Ave., 488-8044)

Best Florist
1. Villere's Florist (1107 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 833-3716; www.villeresflorist.com) — You don't need a special occasion to patronize Villere's, though the florist can help you send thanks, congratulations, sympathy and Valentine's, and even set the table for with a Thanksgiving-themed arrangement. Villere's carries roses, plants, tropical flowers and even gourmet baskets with fruit, chocolates and more.
2. Federico's Family Florist (5606 Canal Blvd., 482-0249)
3. Harkins The Florist Inc. (1601 Magazine St., 529-1638)

Best Place to Buy Plants
1. Perino's Garden Center (3100 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-7888; www.perinos.com)—With more than 50 years in business, this local nursery has grown remarkably from its humble beginnings as a small kiosk on an unpaved roadway. Today it stands as a sprawling, inviting complex that offers tropical flowers, garden art and fountains, in-house landscaping assistance, plants and gift baskets that are sure to tickle any green thumb.
2. The Plant Gallery (9401 Airline Hwy., 488-8887)
3. Home Depot (12300 I-10 Service Road, Metairie, 246-4572; 5151 Citrus Blvd., Suite A, Harahan, 729-4400; 62 W Bank Expressway, Gretna, 362-3460; www.homedepot.com)

Best Place to Buy Wine
1. Martin Wine Cellar (714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie, 896-7300, 2895 Hwy. 190, Village Shopping Center, Mandeville, 985-951-8081, 3500 Magazine St., 899-7411; www.martinwinecellar.com) — All Martin locations offer plenty of reasons to stop in and shop, but you vote the local franchise your favorite for its namesake specialty: wine. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Martin hosts unique tasting events like next month's Once Upon a Vine and routinely features a good selection, such as the current batch of 2005 Bourdeauxs.
2. Sip (3119 Magazine St., 894-7071; 3143 Ponce de Leon, 940-0577; www.sipwinenola.com)
3. Dorignac's (710 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-8216; www.dorignacs.com)

Best Liquor Store
1. Martin Wine Cellar (714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie, 896-7300, 2895 Hwy. 190, Village Shopping Center, Mandeville, 985-951-8081, 3500 Magazine St., 899-7411; www.martinwinecellar.com) — Plenty of shops host wine tastings, but liquor tastings? Martin is not afraid, as this month's "Through the Years of Scotch" event will attest. From popular labels to hard to find bottles, Martin is ready to stock your liquor cabinet.
2. Dorignac's (710 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-8216; www.dorignacs.com)
3. Prytania Liquor Store (1300 Arabella St., 891-0448)

Best Local Beer Brand
1. Abita (21084 Hwy. 36, Abita Springs, 985-892-1123; www.abita.com) — This Northshore boutique brewery recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a big bash befitting all the buzz it's generated over the years. Whether you're cooling down with Abita's wheat brew during the summertime, getting cozy with its Christmas Ale during winter or rebuilding the city with Restoration Ale, this brew's for you.
2. Dixie (2537 Tulane Ave., 822-8711)

Best Candy Shop
1. Blue Frog Chocolates (5707 Magazine St., 269-5707; www.bluefrogchocolates.com) — Blue Frog caters to your sweet tooth's every need, whether it demands a decadent chocolate truffle imported from France, or Fancy's American Toffee ("Sin in a Tin") custom-made candies. Hop to this quaint, blue Uptown cottage for Carnival-, Valentine's- and Christmas-related treats or arrangements for weddings, showers and other celebrations.
2. Southern Candymakers (334 Decatur St., 523-5544)
3. Godiva Chocolatier Inc. (Riverwalk Marketplace, 1 Poydras St., 522-1269; Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-3278; The Esplanade, 1401 W Esplanade Ave., Kenner, 464-6422; www.godiva.com)

Best New Orleans Neighborhood Grocery
1. Langenstein's (1330 Arabella St., 899-9283; www.langensteins.com) — The Langenstein family has earned the loyalty of generations of Uptown families since brothers opened the store in 1922. Family recipes for take-home dishes such as crawfish etouffee, gumbo and grillades are part of the popularity, along with in-store seafood, flora, deli and bakery services.
2. Whole Foods Market (3420 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-8225; 5600 Magazine St., 899-7972; www.wholefoods.com)
3. Zara's (4838 Prytania St., 895-0581; 2042 Prytania St., 523-3658)

Best Jefferson Neighborhood Grocery
1. Dorignac's (710 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-8216; www.dorignacs.com) — Dorignac's slogan is "The Best is Better," and you agree. A family-run store opened in 1947, this beloved local landmark serves Jefferson not only the day-to-day items you rely on, but also an amazing array of the finer things in life, with various departments offering top-shelf meats, cheeses and wine.
2. (TIE) Langenstein's (800 Metairie Road, Metairie, 831-6682) and Zuppardo's Economical Super (5010 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 887-1150)
3. Breaux Mart (9647 Jefferson Hwy., River Ridge, 737-1702)

Best Northshore Neighborhood Grocery
1. Fresh Market (1880 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, 985-674-4105) — Management here says the store Best serves the Northshore on the basis of dedication to community and delivering top-quality products and service. Fresh Market staff will even carry out your groceries, a luxury unheard of these days. The store offers a butcher that will cut steaks to order, a florist that prepares arrangements and shelves filled with items not typically carried by traditional grocers.
2. Acquistapace's Supermarket (125 E. 21st Ave., Covington, 985-893-0593)
3. Rouse's Supermarket (1200 Hwy.190B, Covington, 985-867-5232)

Best Supermarket
1. Whole Foods Market (3420 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-8225; 5600 Magazine St., 899-7972; www.wholefoods.com) — Over the years, Whole Foods has boomed from a chain of co-ops into a grocery giant, and a stroll through the aisles shows plenty of reasons for this success. Anchored by a dedication to organic fruits and vegetables, the stores boast a stellar, friendly staff that offers health products, butchers, florists, bakers and more that have your and the environment's health in mind.
2. Sav-A-Center (citywide; www.savacenter.com)
3. Winn Dixie (citywide; www.winndixie.com)

Best Bakery
1. La Boulangerie (4526 Magazine St., 269-3777) — Despite having lost two of its locations post-Katrina, La Boulangerie is your favorite. It's easy to taste why in the range of fruit tarts made fresh, specialties like olive bread and in a variety of tartines — open-faced sandwiches on olive bread, such as one topped with a tomato sauce, bleu cheese, bacon and jalapenos.
2. Maurice French Pastries (3501 Hessmer Ave., Metairie, 885-1526; 4951 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, 455-0830)
3. (TIE) Gambino's Bakeries, Inc. (4821 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 885-7500; 300 Lapalco Blvd., Gretna, 391-0600) and Haydel's Bakery (4037 Jefferson Hwy., 837-0190;www.haydelbakery.com)

Best Place to Get a King Cake
1. Randazzo's (4462 Wabash St., Metairie, 456-9069) —Once again, you vote Randazzo's as your favorite taste of Carnival. Baked on site, Randazzo's king cakes are made from family recipes, including the traditional, top-selling cinnamon variety, and flavors such as cream cheese, apple and pecan praline.
2. Haydel's Bakery (4037 Jefferson Hwy., 837-0190;www.haydelbakery.com)
3. Gambino's Bakeries, Inc. (tie) (4821 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 885-7500; 300 Lapalco Blvd., Gretna, 391-0600)

Best Place to Get a Wedding Cake
1. Swiss Confectionery (747 St. Charles Ave., 522-7788) — In business for 80 years and five generations of family ownership, this local bakery has sent countless couples off into wedded bliss. You can choose from contemporary or traditional styles, customize your cake to fit your wedding's style or allow the bakers to create one for you.
2. Haydel's Bakery (4037 Jefferson Hwy., 837-0190; www.haydelbakery.com)
3. Maurice French Pastries (3501 Hessmer Ave., Metairie, 885-1526)

Best Place to Buy Fresh Produce
1. Whole Foods Market (3420 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-8225; 5600 Magazine St., 899-7972; www.wholefoods.com) — From special events extolling the virtues of New Mexican chilies to tempting store samples such as mango salsa, Whole Foods shows how produce can be fun, fresh and healthy. Fruits and vegetables here have been exclusively organic long before such a label became a business buzzword.
2. Crescent City Farmers Market (200 Broadway Ave. on Tuesdays, 700 Magazine St. on Saturdays, 861-5898; www.crescentcityfarmersmarket.com)
3. Dorignac's (710 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 834-8216; www.dorignacs.com)

Best Caterer
1. Rommel's Catering (3209 Taft Park, Metairie, 888-6229) —With an impressive resume that includes stints with Oprah Winfrey and the Windsor Court hotel, owner and native son Rommel Hernandez started his own full-service catering business 15 years ago. His cuisine covers everything from Jewish to Japanese, with Spanish and Cajun flairs in between. Rommel's Catering prepares for parties ranging from corporate affairs to family events.
2. Joel's Grand Cuisine (1201 Convention Center Blvd., 299-8400)
3. (TIE) Food Art (801 Carondelet St., 524-2381) and Patton's Caterers (127 Cleveland Ave., Slidell, 985-645-3600; www. pattons.com)

Best Place to Have a Kid's Birthday Party
1. Chuck E. Cheese's (124 North Shore Blvd., Slidell, 866-224-2025; www.chuckecheese.com) — Kids that grew up on birthday bashes at Chuck E. Cheese's are now bringing their own kids to celebrate at this national chain, founded in 1977. It's easy to see why this tradition now spans a generation, as party packages include everything a parent will need to host a party: game tokens, live entertainment and plenty of pizza.
2. Audubon Zoo (6500 Magazine St., 581-4629)
3. Creole Creamery (4924 Prytania St., 894-8680)

Best Contractor
1. Goliath Construction Co. Inc. (2700 Metairie Lawn Drive, Metairie, 837-6515) — Now in its third generation of local family ownership, Goliath Construction has, of course, had quite a busy year. Specializing in building medical facilities and banks, Goliath has worked on helping repeat customers with hurricane-related damage, but also on new projects, such as the recently completed Doctors Imaging Services near East Jefferson Hospital.
2. Wolfman Construction Co. (3101 Elysian Fields Ave., 276-9653; www.wolfmanconstruction.com)
3. Carl E. Woodward (5213 Airline Drive, Metairie, 736-0188; 3509 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 461-8843; 1100 Poydras St., 585-7730)

click to enlarge Best Shoe Store for Women: Shoe Nami - CHERYL GERBER
click to enlarge Best Hotel Bar: The Carousel Bar, Hotel Monteleone - TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER
click to enlarge Best Mexican Restaurant: Taqueria Corona - TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER
click to enlarge Best Place to Work, Best Casino and Best Place to See Stand- - up Comedy: Harrahs New Orleans Casino - TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER
  • Tracie Morris Schaefer
  • Best Place to Work, Best Casino and Best Place to See Stand- up Comedy: Harrahs New Orleans Casino
click to enlarge Best Place to get Ice Cream/Gelato: Creole Creamery - TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER
click to enlarge Best Place to Get a Flat Fixed: Firestone tied with Uptown - Shell Auto Care - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Best Place to Get a Flat Fixed: Firestone tied with Uptown Shell Auto Care
click to enlarge Best Post-Katrina T-shirt: Make Levees Not War - CHERYL GERBER
click to enlarge Best Lunch Specials: Caf Reconcile - CHERYL GERBER
click to enlarge Best Place to Buy Vintage Clothing: Funky Monkey - CHERYL GERBER
click to enlarge Best Local Radio Talk Show Host and Best Radio Talk Show: - Garland Robinette - TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER
click to enlarge Best Local Rock Band/Artist: Cowboy Mouth
  • Best Local Rock Band/Artist: Cowboy Mouth
click to enlarge Best Metairie Restaurant: Dragos Seafood Restaurant & - Oyster Bar - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Best Metairie Restaurant: Dragos Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar
click to enlarge Best Place to Take a Yoga Class: Wild Lotus Yoga - TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER
click to enlarge Best Place to Buy Local Music: Louisiana Music Factory - TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER
click to enlarge Best Sports Bar, Best Beer Selection and Best Place to Shoot - Pool: Cooter Browns Tavern & Oyster Bar - TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER
  • Tracie Morris Schaefer
  • Best Sports Bar, Best Beer Selection and Best Place to Shoot Pool: Cooter Browns Tavern & Oyster Bar
click to enlarge Best Live Theater Venue: Le Chat Noir - CHERYL GERBER
click to enlarge Best Bakery: La Boulangerie - CHERYL GERBER
click to enlarge Best Supermarket, Best Place to Buy Fresh Produce, Best - Menu for Vegetarians and Best Place to Get Gourmet to Go: - Whole Foods Market - TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER
  • Tracie Morris Schaefer
  • Best Supermarket, Best Place to Buy Fresh Produce, Best Menu for Vegetarians and Best Place to Get Gourmet to Go: Whole Foods Market
click to enlarge Best Vietnamese Restaurant and Best West Bank Restaurant: - Pho Tau Bay - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant and Best West Bank Restaurant: Pho Tau Bay
click to enlarge Best Do-Gooder: Becky Zaheri, Katrina Krewe - TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER
click to enlarge Best Local R&B/Blues Band/Artist: Irma Thomas - SCOTT SALTZMAN
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