Best of Detroit 2007

Just turn the page. Then read up and, if you’re so moved, check out the winners in person. That’s what our writers and photographers did, and we appreciate their creative input. Thanks to freelance writers Nancy Nall Derringer, Eric Edelstein, Susan R. Pollack, and Alexa Stanard, who assisted the entire Hour Detroit editorial staff in producing this special feature
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Best Museum: DIA, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

Art

Best Museum: Detroit Institute of Arts

From ancient Egyptian art to modern masters such as Helen Frankenthaler, the 60,000-plus works housed in the beautiful Italian Renaissance building on Woodward give Detroiters plenty to be proud of. And, of course, there’s Rivera’s Detroit Industry murals, extensive Dutch and African art collections, vast Italian sculptures, and an impressive American art section. But the DIA isn’t resting on its laurels. An expansive renovation project, designed by Michael Graves, has been under way since 2001, and the grand reopening is scheduled for this November. The downside is that the DIA is closed all summer and most of the fall. But after Thanksgiving, look for about 57,000 square feet of additional space, more visitor amenities, new facades on the north and south wings, improved navigation for art lovers, a greatly expanded south wing, a loggia for the Detroit Film Theatre, a new Education Center, a larger museum shop, and other improvements. Galleries will also include explanatory labeling about the art. Pieces will also be arranged thematically or chronologically to help visitors more fully appreciate the experience. dia.org; 313-833-4005.

Art Gallery: CPop Gallery (Detroit; cpop.com; 313-833-9901)  •  Place to Buy Original Art: Hermitage Gallery (Rochester; hermitagegallery.com; 248-656-8559)  •  Public Art: The Spirit of Detroit statue (Downtown Detroit)  •  Art Fair: Ann Arbor Art Fair (artfair.org; a2state.com; michiganguild.org; a2southu.com)

Metropolis

Architecturally Significant Building (tie): Fisher Building & Guardian Building

These Deco darlings add unmistakable panache to Detroit’s architectural identity. And with such architects as Albert Kahn (Fisher) and Wirt Rowland (Guardian), beautiful edifices were bound to result. Built in 1929, the tangerine-colored Guardian on Griswold opened as the Union Trust Co. and was the crowning glory in Detroit’s once-thriving Financial District. If you’ve never ventured inside the lobby, take a pair of sunglasses: The vibrant Pewabic and Rookwood tiles will dazzle the eye. As you head north to the New Center area, you’ll find the Fisher and its golden tower equally arresting. The building was supposed to have three towers, not one, but the Depression put the kibosh on that. No matter. What stands at West Grand Boulevard and Second is a majestic edifice. The barrel-vaulted grand arcade on the first floor is an opulent salute to Art Deco splendor. The Fisher is also home to the Fisher Theatre, three radio stations, and several retailers and restaurants.

Best Place to Live in Downtown Detroit: Riverfront

A gated community set on 24 riverside acres next door to Joe Louis Arena, Riverfront offers both condominiums and apartments, all with water views. The 29-floor Tower 300 contains condominiums that range in size from 553 to 2,500 square feet and up to three bedrooms. Prices range from $134,000 to $600,000. Rates for apartments, which are in the other two towers, begin at $765 a month. Residents may rent one of the 77 boat slips on the Detroit River. Other amenities include tennis courts, jogging track, health club, and a sand volleyball court. riverfrontdetroit.com.

Best New Residential Development: Westin Book-Cadillac

News of the redevelopment of the elegant Book-Cadillac made waves last year, and, since then, sales of the 66 condominiums planned for the upper (25th through 31st) floors have been brisk. Residents living atop the 450-room Westin Book-Cadillac Hotel, which will fill the bulk of the 1924 structure on Washington Boulevard, will have access to the pool, restaurants, housekeeping, room service, and workout facilities. The condos will offer a variety of views from the river to Comerica Park. Unit prices begin at about $300,000 and exceed $1 million. Cleveland-based John Ferchill is the developer of the downtown project. Esquire Properties is managing sales and marketing. westinbookcadillacresidences.com; 313-580-2200.

Best Community Parks: Birmingham

For a city its size, Birmingham is rich in open public spaces, with 22 parks in all. The latest improvement in the suburb’s ongoing parks master plan is Booth Park, on North Old Woodward. The 3.9-acre Booth Park, donated to the city by the Booth Family (of Cranbrook fame), was updated with public and private funds. It will serve as a gateway to the Rouge River trail. Plans are in the works for major changes at Shain Park in the center of the downtown retail district.

Music

Best Used Vinyl/CD Store: Record Time

Many music lovers cherish album art and liner notes, not to mention the thrill of digging through bins for unusual LPs and CDs. Real treasures are at Record Time’s locations in Roseville and Ferndale. Trivia: Kid Rock and Eminem have been among the customers. recordtime.com; 586-775-1550 (Roseville) and 248-336-TIME (Ferndale).

Best Jukebox: Gusoline Alley (248-545-2235)  •  Concert Venue: DTE Energy Music Theatre (Clarkston; palacenet.com; 248-377-0100)  •  Established Local Band: White Stripes  •  Next big Local Band (tie): Brothers Groove, Greenstreet, Motor City Sidestrokes, Switchback


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Best Bartender: Patrick at Gusoline Alley, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

Products

Best Local Food Product: Sanders

Detroit has been sweet on Sanders ever since Fred Sanders set up shop in 1875. Though now owned by Morley, it has retained a local connection. Who can’t surrender to the milk chocolate hot-fudge topping or bumpy cake? Fans suffered when the Sanders shops closed, but now we can savor treats again at Sanders in Grosse Pointe, Livonia, Birmingham, and Wyandotte. sanderscandy.com.

Best Domestic Automaker: GM

GM is trying hard to turn over a new leaf. Its Volt concept, for example, is a usable plug-in hybrid. It has the ability to travel 40 city miles on a single charge, a range of 640 miles with the gasoline generator recharging the battery, and only six hours to charge fully off the wall. gm.com.

Best Auto Division: Cadillac

Cadillac has been making waves lately by besting foreign competitors for The Luxury Institute title of Best Customer Experience in the Luxury Car Segment. In the feel-good department, Cadillac is releasing a hybrid Escalade in 2009. cadillac.com.

Best Domestic Car Model: Mustang

Ford is giving one of the most, if not the most, well-known muscle cars on the planet yet another shakeup: the Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500KR, the biggest and the baddest Mustang to ever roll over the earth. fordvehicles.com.

People

Best Bartender: Patrick at Gusoline Alley

Patrick Tierney began tending both the bar and the music at this Royal Oak spot in 1991 or, as he puts it, “sometime around the first Lollapalooza.” As to what makes him rate as best bartender, “patience,” Tierney says. That, and “it helps to be a little cordial.” It doesn’t hurt that this tall drink of water has a personality as laid-back and slick as his greaser hairstyle. 248-545-2235.

Best Maître d’: Jim Lark

The tall, tuxedo-clad man just inside the door on many nights at The Lark in West Bloomfield Township is also the owner — a good sign in nearly any dining room. In addition to recommending wine and keeping a general overview, this maître d’ has been known to expound on a wide range of food topics (sablefish is also known as black cod, you know). A self-described perfectionist, Lark also has worked as a lawyer and residential real-estate developer. He and his wife, Mary, opened The Lark in June 1981. thelark.com; 248-661-4466.

Best Local Ad Campaign: ABC Warehouse

What is it about the presence of a proprietor in a business ad campaign that makes it so much more amusing? Gordy Hartunian continues the long tradition of Crazy Eddie, Mr. Belvedere, and any number of car dealers and others gutsy enough to step in front of the cameras and offer us a great deal. Is ABC Warehouse the closest thing to wholesale? Hartunian makes us believe it is, especially when he puts it this way: “The day that anybody has a better selection of high-tech digital stuff than ABC is the day they’ll have an appliance store on the moon. And I’ve checked with NASA. They keep hanging up on me.” abcwarehouse.com.

Colorful Characters (tie): Geoffrey Fieger and Kid Rock

We tend to think that the Midwest doesn’t breed eccentrics the way, say, California does. But we have our share. Finishing in a dead heat are two of Detroit’s finest: mop-topped mouthpiece Geoffrey Fieger and rap-rocker Kid Rock. Both have been earning their reputations for years. Fieger made his national bones defending Jack Kevorkian, but Detroiters are accustomed to seeing him lapping up the spotlight on television, whether it’s jousting with the attorney general (and making him cry) or starring in his own commercials. And Kid’s had quite a year, too, concluding his Multiple Marital Pam Anderson Tour just in time to, er, file for divorce. Love hurts, but we hope this honor eases the sting.

Publicity Hound: Geoffrey Fieger

Wrestlemania featured a supposed “battle of the billionaires” between Donald Trump and Vince McMahon, but here’s the Ford Field match-up we’d like to see: The Donald going mano a mano with Geoffrey Fieger, to see who can lure a bigger crowd of reporters to his end zone. Our money’s on Fieger, who not only never met a microphone he didn’t like, but seems to have the same effect on them that Elvis had on teenage girls. It helps that Fieger is quotable, never holds back, and has that devilish smile that shows he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Trump’s comb-over won’t know what hit it.

Best Chef: John Somerville

It’s been an exciting year for the chef de cuisine of The Lark in West Bloomfield Township. Taking the lead last year when Kyle Ketchum left, Somerville has been working behind the scenes at The Lark since 1994. That promotion was followed by The Lark’s being selected as Hour Detroit’s 2007 Restaurant of the Year. thelark.com.

Best Sports Star: Chauncey Billups

For someone whose nickname is Mr. Big Shot (who else can sink three-pointers like him?), Billups’ ego is anything but big, and that’s just what Detroiters like about him — that, and the fact that he’s a heck of an athlete. The Pistons’ point guard is almost always on an even keel — no prima donna displays, no flying rages, no unsportsmanlike conduct. When the Pistons are trailing, Billups is nearly always the guy who galvanizes the team to come from behind. Pity the player who fouls Billups: At the free-throw line, he’s one of the NBA’s sharpest shooters.

Best Divorce lawyer: Henry Baskin (Birmingham; 248-646-3300)

Henry’s trio  Attorney Henry Baskin, a perennial Best of Detroit winner, whose clients over the past 40 years have included the CEOs of Detroit’s top 100 companies (or their spouses) and sports figures, has also represented Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves, Dick Purtan, and Jerry Hodak. He offers these  favorites.
1. Food for working lunches and meetings: Toss Ups, in Birmingham.  “Truly a one-man band of organization, providing fresh and healthy lunches with many low-fat selections.”
2. Best place to negotiate a contract: Townsend Hotel, Rugby Room (corner table), Birmingham.
3. Best collection of photographs: The chambers of the Hon. Damon Keith, Federal Building, Detroit.

Best-Dressed Man: Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick  •  Sommelier: Madeline Triffon (Matt Prentice Restaurant Group; mattprenticerg.com) •  Former Detroiter: Madonna  •  Celebrity Dinner Companion: Steve Yzerman (Red Wings vice president, detroitredwings.com)  •  Political Dinner Companion: Gov. Jennifer Granholm  •  Best-Dressed Woman: Rhonda Walker, WDIV (Channel 4)  •  Most-coveted job: Jim Leyland (Tigers manager)


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Best Tailor/Alterations: The Birmingham Tailor, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

Phys Ed

Best Personal Trainer: Reggie O’Bryant

At the Franklin Athletic Club in Southfield, Reggie O’Bryant is known for his Reggie’s Boot Camp, a class that focuses on calorie burning, body toning, and cardio. He’s a premier trainer with more than six years of fitness and nutrition experience. franklinclub.com; 248-352-8000.

Best Indoor Tennis Courts: Franklin Athletic Club

For those times when the weather can affect your game, the Franklin Athletic Club is the place to go. With 13 air-conditioned courts, no external factors will interfere with your Andy Roddick-like serve. In addition, there are tennis clinics, individual lessons, adult mixers, and junior tennis camps. The staff of teachers, under Director of Adult Tennis Randy Payne, is top-notch. franklinclub.com; 248-352-8000.

Best Public Golf Course: Rackham Golf Course

Rackham Golf Course in Huntington Woods claims a proud heritage as one of the nation’s first racially integrated courses. The par-72 layout also ranks among Michigan’s top 10 courses — and the only one where golfers hear the sounds of screeching peacocks and other animals (from the nearby Detroit Zoo). Designed by Donald Ross, the course was given to the City of Detroit in 1924 by Horace and Mary Rackham and is [as of press time] embroiled in a struggle to save it from proposed redevelopment. Over time, it has welcomed such notables as boxing great Joe Louis and Motown singer/songwriter Marvin Gaye. Ben Davis dispensed tips for more than 50 years in the shadow of Rackham’s signature Arts and Crafts-style clubhouse. rackham.americangolf.com; 248-543-4040.

Indoor Driving Range: Carl’s Golfland (Bloomfield Hills and Plymouth; carlsgolfland.com)  •  Outdoor Driving Range: Carl’s Golfland (Bloomfield Hills and Plymouth; carlsgolfland.com;  248-335-8095)  •  Yoga Studio: Namaste Yoga (Royal Oak; namaste-yoga.net; 248-399-9642)  •  Gym: Lifetime Fitness (various locations; lifetimefitness.com)  •  Rink for Pickup Hockey: Onyx Rochester Ice Arena (Rochester; onyxicearena.com; 248-601-6699)  •  Court for Pickup Basketball: Joe Dumars Fieldhouse (various locations; joedumarsfieldhouse.com)  •  Shop for Athletic Wear: Dick’s Sporting Goods (various locations; dickssportinggoods.com)  •  Place to Buy Sports Equipment: Dick’s Sporting Goods (various locations; dickssportinggoods.com)

Services

Tailor/Alterations: The Birmingham Tailor
(Birmingham; 248-433-3703)

Best Personalized Service (Tie): Nordstrom & MaxMara

It’s been seven years this month since the sleek MaxMara boutique opened at Somerset Collection South under the efficient and driven store manager, Nancy Rice, along with her patient assistant manager, Najla Kassem. “When I hire people, I hire them with the understanding that they could be a personal shopper anywhere,” Rice says. MaxMara; 248-637-3073. Nordstrom, Somerset Collection North — nordstrom.com; 248-816-5100.

Best Personal shopper: Bessie Sneed, The 5th Avenue Club in Saks Fifth Avenue

Having started her sales career in 1965 at the former Saks store in Detroit’s New Center, it’s no wonder that Sneed’s 42 years of experience assisting two and three generations of families has earned her a considerable fan base. “My clients keep me going,” she says. “That’s what I like to do. You’ve got all these people you’ve been helping for years — I knew these kids before they were born, and now they are getting married and going into the big-people world. You almost feel like part of the family.” 248-643-9025.

Best Day Spa, Best Massage: Spa Julianna

Even if you’re not a west-sider, it’s worth the trip to picturesque downtown Plymouth to say bye-bye to stress and tension. Whether it’s an aromatherapy massage, a soothing soak in any number of hydrotherapy treatments, or an uplifting Ocean Oxygen Facial, the serene Spa Julianna sets the mood for a relaxing time, and sustains the peaceful vibe for the entire visit. juliannaonline.com; 734-455-4445.

Best Pet Grooming/Best Veterinarian: DePorre Veterinary Hospital

Owned by cousins Jules and Pierre DePorre (whose wife, Deborah, is an associate vet at the hospital), this Bloomfield Hills pet clinic goes the extra mile, offering everything from behavioral counseling and cardiology to dental care, boarding, and personalized diet plans for portly pets. deporrevet.com; 248-646-1669.

Best Facial: Margot’s European Day Spa

If you haven’t tried Margot’s Signature Facial, give yourself a little face time. This treatment deep-cleans pores without abrasion, pinching, or harsh scrubbing. Steam, balms, toners, and moisturizers are employed, and your face will glow. There are other types of facials available, too, but you can’t go wrong with the original Margot’s Signature Facial. Situated in its recently expanded digs on Townsend in Birmingham, it’s one of the longest-lived spas in the area — more than 25 years. It’s easy to understand why. It’s clean, comfortable, and despite occasional busy bursts, quiet. The facial and massage rooms are all named after famous composers and artists by decree of the culture-loving owner, Margot Kohler. margots.com; 248-642-3770.

Best Gift-Wrapping Service: Lisa’s Gift Wrappers

Lisa Gleeson actually likes folding, taping, tagging, and bow-tying. Better still, she’s great at it. The owner of this shop on Woodward in Royal Oak considers a wrapped gift a work of art, and she’ll pull out all the stops to make sure your present excites and entices from the outside in. She stocks more than 700 types of ribbon and more than 175 paper styles, along with accents designed to delight the lucky recipient. Weekly classes teach tricks of the trade. lisasgiftwrappers.com; 248-547-9094.

Best Dry Cleaner (Tie): Quality Cleaners & Huntington Cleaners

Huntington Cleaners in Huntington Woods, and Quality Cleaners in Royal Oak, have been community mainstays for decades (Huntington since 1950, Quality since 1947). Quality Cleaners is family owned, with the third generation of the Broaddus clan taking a role. In addition to superb cleaning and shoe repair, the family is involved in community groups. Huntington, under new ownership since 1992, has been expanding and now has six facilities and 100 employees. Quality Cleaners: myqualitycleaners.com; 248-543-1659. Huntington Cleaners: huntingtoncleaners.com; 248-541-6038.

Best Dressmaker: Griesser’s

After 30 years in the business, Herma Griesser still likes to sit down and design a pattern and cut the fabric in her Bloomfield Township shop. “I’m a patient person,” says the Austria-born master-degreed dressmaker. “I just enjoy it.” That explains why she once spent 100 hours smocking a skirt in a flower pattern. In addition to designing new dresses and bridal gowns, Griesser does tailoring along with her retired schoolteacher husband, Horst, (who has a master’s in tailoring). “Not too long ago, a lady who had lost weight came in with a designer dress that everyone said couldn’t be altered,” Herma says. She made it fit. “Whatever someone else can’t fix, I can fix. I like to take care of my customers.” 248-647-6740.

Best Place for a Makeover/Best Makeup Artist: Todd’s Room/Todd Skog

Here’s a name that has risen to the top of the area’s beauty elite like rich cream in a vat of fresh milk. Working with makeup since he was a teenager, Skog has made his living at the craft for 15 years. He credits his success to an early and unpleasant experience with the many arrogant and unapproachable people he encountered in the business. “Throughout my whole career, I’ve made myself down-to-earth and approachable,” he says. Working with photographer Lisa Spindler certainly helped. Skog’s eye changed to look at a woman with the intention of bringing out her beauty as opposed to camouflaging her flaws. Because Skog’s standards are high, his clientele elite, and the volume so great, the staff touches up multiple faces of various ages and ethnicities daily. “Practice makes perfect, so add that to constant education, and we just get better and better,” says Dwayne Latoilais, a staffer of three years.” toddsroombirmingham.com; 248-594-0003.

Florist: Blossoms (Birmingham; blossomsbirmingham.com; 248-644-4411)  •  Gift-Wrapping Service (chain): Macy’s (macys.com)  •  Place for Shoe Repair: Frank’s Shoe Service (Birmingham; 248-647-3530)  •  Place for Car Repair: Autometric Collision (autometriccollision.com)  •  Limo Service: Metro Cars (metrocars.com; 734-946-5700)  •  Caterer: Forte Belanger Catering (Troy; fortecatering.com; 248-288-3300)  •  Hair Salon in Ann Arbor: Salon XL (Ann Arbor; salonxl.com; 734-997-7030)  •  Hair Salon: 6 Salon (Birmingham & Royal Oak; sixsalon.com)  •  Blowout: 6 Salon (Birmingham & Royal Oak; sixsalon.com)  •   Manicure: Royal Oak Nails (Royal Oak; 248-542-1209)  •  Pedicure: Royal Oak Nails (Royal Oak; 248-542-1209)


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Best Dessert: The Whitney, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

Dining

Best Dessert: The Whitney
(Detroit; thewhitney.com; 313-832-5700)

Best Korean Restaurant: Shilla Korean and Japanese Cuisine

Metro Detroit doesn’t have many Korean places, so we should be thankful for this spot on Maple Road in Clawson. Although a section of the restaurant is devoted to sushi, most of it pays homage to Korean fare, from man-doo, kimchi, and bibimbap to less conventional dishes. 248-655-0120.

Best Restaurant — General Excellence, Best French Restaurant, Attentive Service, Best Atmosphere, Best Wine List: The Lark

Readers gave The Lark top honors in five restaurant categories. That’s no surprise. Hour Detroit named The Lark as its 2007 Restaurant of the Year. The Lark, in West Bloomfield Township, is the place to go to mark anniversaries, birthdays, promotions, and other major life events. The atmosphere is welcoming, the mood quiet. For privacy, sit in the cozy bar. thelark.com; 248-661-4466.

Best Ice Cream (Independent): Ray’s

Since 1958, Ray’s in Royal Oak has been a cool refuge on hot summer days. The full-service soda fountain is pure throwback pleasure. For all its retro charm, Ray’s specialty ice cream molds (created in a variety of shapes from animals to fruit) are a hit with sophisticated party planners. When Michigan’s crop is ripe, try a scoop of homemade peach. raysicecream.com; 248-549-5256.

Best Sushi Restaurant: Little Tree Sushi Bar

This small downtown Royal Oak space offers big variety with more than 65 kinds of sushi. Since 1998, Little Tree has fresh Hawaiian catch flown in twice weekly, and prepares rolls that are exclusive to the region. Try preparations with local names such as the Royal Oak, Main Street, and Harley roll. 248-586-0994.

Best Thai Restaurant: Sy Thai

A quiet restaurant within easy walking distance of Birmingham’s Uptown Palladium 12 movie theater, Sy Thai is also a calm, no-nonsense respite from the madding crowd. It serves Thai classics (including four preparations of duck) to a crowd seeking something other than a burger before the show. The back door is handy to the parking structure frequented by moviegoers. 248-258-9830.

Best Place to Have Dinner Before a Show/Best Appetizers: Small Plates

Its narrow space, warm colors, and urban location so convenient to the Detroit Opera House, Music Hall, Gem Theatre, and Comerica Park make Detroit’s Small Plates a logical stop when the evening is just beginning. Order brick-oven pizzas, an olive-and-cheese plate, panko shrimp, and pan-Asian lettuce wraps; then share with your dinner companions. Regulars like to slip back in after the show for dessert and coffee. smallplates.com; 313-963-0497.

Best Seafood Restaurant (Independent): Streetside Seafood

From the moment it opened a dozen years ago, Streetside has been popular for its fish (of course) as well as its bustling bar and cozy 60-seat dining room. Regulars like the front window seats that are just steps away from The Townsend Hotel. This downtown Birmingham mainstay serves soups, gumbo, and, at lunch, a popular lobster club sandwich. Lunch and dinner menus change seasonally. 248-645-9123.

Best Pancakes and Breakfast: The Original Pancake House

If you wake up in the morning and have the sudden craving for an oven-baked fresh Granny Smith apple and cinnamon glazed pancake, fear not. Head on over to the Original Pancake House and feast on a pancake menu that offers a range from pigs in a blanket to blueberry and the classic buttermilk. Other offerings include crêpes, waffles, eggs, and omelets. 248-642-5775 (Birmingham), 313-884-4144 (Grosse Pointe Woods), 248-357-3399 (Southfield).

Best Japanese Restaurant: Cherry Blossom

An all-around cultural dining experience awaits patrons of this Novi eatery. Tatami rooms are set for group dining while solos feel at home at the marble sushi bar. Newcomers will feel comfortable at the tabletops. Enjoy teriyaki, tempura, sushi, and nabemono cooked at the table. cherryblossom.biz; 248-380-9160

Sunday Brunch: Beverly Hills Grill (Beverly Hills; 248-642-2355)  •  Chinese Restaurant (chain): P. F. Chang’s China Bistro (Northville Township, Troy; pfchangs.com)  •  Chinese Restaurant (independent): Mon Jin Lau (Troy; monjinlau.com; 248-689-2332)  •  Japanese Restaurant (chain): Benihana (Dearborn, Farmington Hills, and Troy; benihana.com)  • Seafood Restaurant (chain): Mitchell’s Fish Market (Birmingham, Livonia, Rochester Hills; mitchellsfishmarket.com)  • Best Ice Cream (chain): cold stone creamery (coldstonecreamery.com)

Best ethnic groceries: 1. Japanese/Korean: Troy Oriental Market, Troy; 248-680-7333.  2. Chinese/Vietnamese: Kai Sun Market, Troy; 248-524-1250. 3. Chinese/Vietnamese/Thai: Chinese Merchandise Corp., Madison Heights; 248-588-0450. — Marshall Chin, owner, Mon Jin Lau, Troy.


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Best Coney Island and Best Place for Late-Night Dining, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

Cocktails

Best Happy Hour: Oak City Grille

From 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, the mood is decidedly merry at this place on Sixth Street in downtown Royal Oak, where the after-work crowd de-stresses with drinks and appetizers. If you work up an appetite, you can stay for dinner and take in the live entertainment. 248-556-0947.

Best Beer Selection/Best Neighborhood Bar: The Berkley Front

We’re quite the beer connoisseurs, it seems, with beer rooms and breweries popping up all around the area. Leading the pack is Berkley Front (on 12 Mile in Berkley), which has 42 beers on tap and dozens by the bottle. The Front offers a martini lounge, a pool table, video games, German food, and live blues and rock on weekends. The main draw remains the brew. Sample ales, lagers, porters, pilsners, and stouts. myspace.com/berkleyfront; 248-547-3331.

Best Martini/Best Creative Alcoholic Drinks (Independent): Goodnight Gracie Jazz & Martini Bar

It’s not every day that you can sip a Purple Passion, Raging Bull, or Yellow Cab martini and listen to live music. At Goodnight Gracie in downtown Royal Oak, unusual martinis are the usual. The martini menu of more than 20 specialty drinks gets creative with names such as Flirtini, Amethyst, Gracie’s Revenge, and Pomegranate. Fun monikers and half-off prices make Monday-Friday happy hours happier. 248-584-7400.

Best Creative Alcoholic Drinks (Chain): Bahama Breeze

The blenders behind the bar at Bahama Breeze whirl exotic temptations for long lines of patrons seeking a taste of the islands. This exotically decorated restaurant and bar was designed with that and families in mind. While you’re breezing through a sweet list of juicy concoctions, we suggest going straight for the obvious: a West Indies classic made with rum, pineapple, coconut, orange juice, and a sprinkle of nutmeg. They call it the Painkiller. bahamabreeze.com; 248-528-1674 (Troy), 734-542-0891 (Livonia).

Best Michigan Winery: Chateau Grand Traverse (Traverse City; cgtwines.com; 800-283-0247)  •  Best Microbrewery: The Royal Oak Brewery (Royal Oak; beercos.com; 248-544-1141)

Dining

Best Coney Island & best Place for late-night dining: Lafayette Coney Island
(Detroit; 313-964-8198)

Best Soul Food: Beans & Cornbread

Since 1997, Beans & Cornbread in Southfield has been serving the sort of Southern-style food that’s mother’s milk to so many metro Detroiters. Reading the menu brings instant hunger pangs. At the Gospel Brunch on Sunday, try the unusual peach cobbler waffles or fried pork chops. For dinner, tuck into your choice of fried catfish fingers, ribs, gumbo, collards, and grits. beanscornbread.com; 248-208-1680.

Best Barbecue Ribs: Slows Bar BQ

Waiting lists and valet parking are part of the scene now at what was, just about two years ago, a start-up restaurant in a forlorn strip of Michigan Avenue in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. Aside from the luscious pulled pork, ribs, and mac ’n’ cheese, it’s worth a visit just for the multi-sided bar, tall windows, wood floors, and diverse urban/suburban crowd that crosses every demographic. slowsbarbq.com; 313-962-9828.

Best Mexican Restaurant and Best Margarita: Xochimilco

Head to Bagley in Mexicantown for some of the tastiest, cheapest eats in that ethnic enclave. Granted, there are more “authentic” places for Mexican fare, but Xochimilco remains the big enchilada for many Detroiters. A taco salad or a plate of chicken quesadillas washed down by a hearty margarita never fails to hit the spot, and the portions are generous. Be prepared to wait after a Tigers or Red Wings home game, but take heart in the fact that the staff moves with the speed of a locomotive, and the two-story restaurant is larger than it seems, so the wait is never too long. 313-843-0179.

Best Middle Eastern (Single Location): Phoenicia

The quality begins when the owner, Lebanese-born Sameer Eid (or his son Samy), greets you, and continues later, when he stops by the table to check on dinner. And speaking of tables, they’re dressed in linen. Quiet and efficient with a proven track record over more than three decades, it’s no wonder that, on most nights, the Phoenicia’s parking lot on Old Woodward in Birmingham is packed with high-end cars. An Hour Detroit review lauded the deboned half-chicken, marinated, broiled and served with a creamy garlic sauce. When regulars feel lazy, they order carryout. 248-644-3122.

Best Romantic Restaurant: Ristorante Café Cortina

There’s something about the Italian culture that seems to exude love. Perhaps it’s the language, the wine, or the art. At Café Cortina in Farmington Hills, it’s the food coupled with attentive service and quiet ambience. From the candlelit dining room to the glow of the fireplace, or the warmth of the outdoor fire pit, Adrian Tonon and his staff know how to a create the proper mood. cafecortina.com; 248-474-3033.

Best Italian Restaurant (Multiple Locations): Andiamo

The Andiamo experience, which started in 1990, is akin to dining in the various regions of Italy and choosing between the flavors and spices of Sicily, Latium, or Tuscany. Here, you’re choosing between east side, west side, and Detroit. andiamoitalia.com.

Best Italian restaurant (Single Location): Bacco Ristorante

Hour Detroit’s restaurant critic called this hot spot “a meteor” when he named it our 2005 Restaurant of the Year. His review said this Southfield eatery could easily be dropped into London, New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco and still be competitive. baccoristorante.com; 248-356-6600.

Best Burger: Red coat tavern (Royal Oak; 248-549-0300)  •  Restaurant Atmosphere: The Lark  (West Bloomfield; thelark.com; 248- 661-4466)  •  Greek Restaurant: Pegasus Taverna  (Detroit; pegasustaverna.com; 313-964-6800)  •  Indian Restaurant: Priya Indian Cuisine (Troy; priyarestaurant.com; 248-269-0100)  •  Middle Eastern Restaurant (multi-location): La Shish (lashish.com)  •  24-hour Restaurant: National Coney Island (nationalconeyisland.com)  •   Vegetarian Menu: Inn Season Café (Royal Oak; 248-547-7916)  •  Steakhouse: Ruth’s Chris Steak House (Troy; ruthschris.com; 248-269-8424)  •  Soup: Zoup! (various locations; zoup.com)  •  Pizza: Buddy’s Pizza (various locations; buddyspizza.com)


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Best Jazz Club: Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

Grocery

Best Fish Market: Superior Fish Co.

Boasting more than 60 years of service, the second-generation purveyors of food from the sea, lakes, and other bodies of water pride themselves on what they call “Michigan’s and the Midwest’s most modern seafood plant.” Proprietors Kevin and David Dean do a brisk counter business, particularly on Saturdays, partly because they sit directly across 11 Mile Road from the Royal Oak Farmers Market and entice passersby with cooking demonstrations on the front sidewalk. The company has also added overnight UPS delivery of fresh Lake Superior whitefish fillets and other delicacies shipped directly to the door for online shoppers. superiorfish.safeshopper.com; 248-541-4632.

Best Place to Buy a Birthday Cake (Independent): Holiday Market

Family-owned Holiday Market, in business since 1954, prides itself on having the “best buttercream in town,” as one proud pastry-counter worker told us. In addition to tortes, wedding cakes, and pastries, birthday cakes are a sought-after confection at the Royal Oak store. Popular varieties include German chocolate and the carrot cake. As the Web site crows: “We use only the finest ingredients such as Callebaut chocolate, Madagascar vanilla, and European Plugra butter. Products are baked daily from scratch.” Personal design requests are welcome. holiday-market.com; 248-541-1414.

Best Wine Store and Fine Spirits Shop: Merchant’s Fine Wine

Not only does Merchant’s have a vast selection of wines and premium spirits, the shop on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn also claims to have the largest beer selection in the state. Oh, and did we mention the gourmet foods? To boot, the store is also recognized by Food & Wine magazine as one of the top wine markets in the Midwest for selection. And if you need advice on which wine should go with that rack of lamb you bought, the salespeople are always willing to help out. Proprietors John Jonna and John Lossia, old hands in the wine and spirits business, see to it that things run smoothly. merchantsfinewine.com; 313-563-8700.

Best Gourmet Market: Papa Joe’s

Forget about the old expression, “from soup to nuts.” When it comes to expectations for variety, metro Detroit’s competitive gourmet market has set a much higher bar. At Papa Joe’s Gourmet Markets, variety spans the food spectrum, from white truffles to prickly rambutans, from Italian Toma Biellese cheese to triple-chocolate tortes and 50-year-old balsamic vinegars. Then there’s the wine stock and the limo service to complement the catering business. Practical pantry items share display space with meats and fish. Even kids on the graduation party circuit are in the know. They’ve taken to asking their parents to put Papa’s chocolate-dipped strawberries on the dessert tray. papajoesmarket.com; 248-723-9400 (Birmingham), 248-853-6263 (Rochester Hills).

Deli: Steve’s Deli (Bloomfield Hills; stevesdeli.com; 248-932-0800)  •  Place to buy a birthday cake (Chain): Costco (various locations; costco.com)

Nightlife

Jazz Club: Baker’s Keyboard Lounge
(Detroit; bakerskeyboardlounge.com; 313-345-6300)

Best Karaoke (Independent): The Inn Place

Ready to dazzle your friends with your version of Cher’s “Believe”? Need a chance to practice for your American Idol audition? Head to the Inn Place, a cozy club with vinyl tablecloths, walls decorated with donated bugles, and liverwurst dishes on the menu. Every Thursday and Saturday, metro Detroiters with a song in their heart and enough alcohol in their blood belt it out at this hole in the wall on Main Street in Royal Oak. Come for the friendly staff, the fried bologna sandwiches, or just the chance to cheer equally for the surprisingly good and the wonderfully bad. 248-547-6051

Best Dance Club: Boogie Fever Café & Disco

Dig out those stonewashed jeans and off-the-shoulder sweaters. Or just come as you are to this friendly, unpretentious club where patrons can flaunt their best John Travolta or sing to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Boogie Fever helped reinvigorate Ferndale’s nightlife by playing throwback music that elicits shrieks of recognition even from those too young to remember the ’70s and ’80s. The crowd, which on any given night ranges from barely old enough to drink to sporting a healthy mane of gray, gets down every weekend to the likes of Culture Club and Billy Idol. There’s even a kitchen — something almost unheard-of in dance clubs — serving apps and sandwiches to keep dancers fueled up for the next turn on the dance floor. boogiefevercafe.com; 248-541-1600.

Best New Bar: Pulse

For a long time, it wasn’t easy to find the sophistication of a New York- or Chicago-style lounge in downtown Detroit. But that changed when Pulse opened its doors in 2005. The upscale setting has emerged as a hot spot. Stop by Monday through Saturday and choose from a cocktail menu that’s as unique as the rich-toned, intimate décor. Try a Mustang, “the bestselling [and exclusive] drink,” co-owner Owen Burke says. pulsedetroit.com; 313-420-0310.

Best Place for Nightcaps After the Show: The Whitney

Invite your date upstairs for a drink after a night on the town with no worry of misinterpretation. It’s the polite thing to do when referring to The Whitney mansion in Detroit. Try the Sparkletini, a concoction of pomegranate liqueur, Absolut Mandrin, pineapple juice, and club soda. If the occasion calls for sweets, Chocolate Ugly Cake is a classic. Guests may sit in any of the first-floor dining rooms. However, many choose the third-floor Winter Garden lounge. Friday and Saturday nights have the added appeal of  entertainment  (usually a pianist, singer, or jazz trio). For conversation starters, you can always chat about the ongoing, and historically sensitive, renovations instigated by the new owners. thewhitney.com; 313-832-5700.

Best Karaoke (Chain): Champps Americana (champps.com)  •  Best Gay Bar: Pronto! (Royal Oak; prontorestaurant.com; 248-544-7900)  •  Best Pickup Bar: 220 Merrill (Birmingham; 248-645-2150)  •  Best Place to Learn to Dance: Sangria’s Sky Club (Royal Oak; sangriaroyaloak.com; 248-543-1964)  •  Best Charity Event: Auto Show Charity Preview (Detroit; naias.com)


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Best Women’s Clothing, Place to find One-of-a-Kind Dresses, Place for Cutting-Edge Fashions: Tender, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

On the Town

View from a Restaurant: Coach Insignia

Where else but at the summit of the RenCen can you enjoy an eagle’s perch overlooking two countries and take in the romantic, scintillating lights of the city at night? The view from 72 stories is — and this is no cliché-ridden, chamber-of-commerce exaggeration — truly breathtaking. Detroit never looked this good, and even the elevator ride up is remarkable. What’s more, you can feast on an upscale meal. But be careful how many glasses of wine you consume — you really don’t wan’t to get dizzy at this height. mattprenticerg.com; 313-567-2622.

Best Window Seat: Forté

No matter how well stocked our home kitchens may be or how expertly we cook, getting out of the house gives our lives all-important cross-pollination. In good restaurants, we eat well and we get seen looking good while we eat well. Adding a prime window seat to that social equation doubles the see-and-be-seen appeal. Forté’s window seats look out over Old Woodward right by the moviegoers queuing up for showings at the Birmingham 8 Theatre. forterestaurant.com; 248-594-7300.

Place to Dock Your Boat: Detroit Yacht Club

In addition to having more than 350 boat wells on the river with proximity to Lake St. Clair, the Belle Isle clubhouse is a vintage beauty. (Commodore Gary James, at left.)  dyc.com; 313-824-1200.

Best Casino: Greektown Casino

Winners and losers alike love the Greektown Casino, which combines the lure of gambling with the appeal of the adjacent ethnic-dining and entertainment district. Jackpot winners can spend their haul on flaming cheese or rare steak. And losers: well, nothing says “poor me” like a 50-cent lap of the city on the People Mover. Slots, cards, craps, saganaki, and self-pity — what more could a player want? greektowncasino
.com
; 888-771-4386.

Best Coffeehouse (Independent): Java Hutt

At most coffeehouses, customers stare diligently at their laptop screens, pecking away, oblivious to the atmosphere or anyone else. But at Ferndale’s Java Hutt, many customers are engaged in conversation over a mug of coffee or whiling away the time soaking up the newspaper. People seem to be here for leisure, not work. And isn’t that the whole raison d’être of a coffeehouse? A big part of what makes this place so charming is the parade of humanity streaming in off West Nine Mile Road: young, middle-age, gay, straight, students, professionals. And the coffee, edibles, and diverse music aren’t bad, either. 248-542-2438.

Best Place to people-watch & spend a Saturday: Somerset Collection (Troy; thesomersetcollection.com)  •  Best Coffeehouse (Chain): Starbucks (starbucks.com)  •  Best Pool Hall: Snookers Pool & Pub (various locations; snookerspool.com)  •  Best Place to See a First-Run Movie: The Palladium 12 (Birmingham; uptownpalladium12.com; 248-644-FILM)  •  Best Place for an Art Film: Main Art Theatre (Royal Oak; landmarktheatres.com; 248-263-2111)  •  Best Stop for Lunch While Shopping: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (Northville Township, Troy; pfchangs.com)

Nine to Five

Best Place for a Business Lunch/Best Place for a Business Deal: The Capital Grille

Sometimes networking calls for more than e-mails, conference calls, and conference rooms. There’s nothing like linen on the table and auto-baron portraits on the wall to help seal the deal. The car valet is one of the most bustling in town, and also convenient to some of the region’s most-populated and high-priced office towers. Menu offerings are reassuring steakhouse classics. Lunch-eon entrees with a contemporary twist include a lobster-and-crab burger. capitalgrille.com; 248-649-5300.

Best Company to Work For & Best Workplace Atmosphere: Compuware

Compuware may be best known for the bold decision of CEO Peter Karmanos to build his headquarters building in downtown Detroit. The company’s workers enjoy benefits that include flexible work arrangements and a global employee stock-purchase plan. At the headquarters, 4,000 workers have access to a gourmet cafeteria, wellness and child-development centers, a physician and chiropractor, massage, physical therapy, and dry-cleaning services. The headquarters has an airy atrium with a Borders Books & Music and a Hard Rock Café. compuware.com.

Best City to Work In: Troy


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Photograph by John Nathan Urbanek

Fashion

Best Women’s Clothing, Place to Find One-of-a-Kind Dresses, Place for Cutting-Edge Fashions: Tender

In 2006, Tender expanded its shop on Maple, opening a second space devoted to shoes and purses. The annex, with its showstopping high-end fashions, gives metro Detroit fashion plates another reason to be among the regular lovelies at this top-rated boutique. tenderbirmingham.com; 248-258-0212.

Best Plus-size Clothing Store (Independent): Marguerite Boutique

For the past 25 years, Marguerite Paulus has been styling metro Detroit women with the hottest designers. The Iraqi-born owner knows a thing or two about fashion, thanks to experience manufacturing and designing her own clothing line in Nigeria and England. Paulus opened her West Bloomfield Township boutique in 1973. She offers a size range of 4-20 with a variety of labels, including Carmen Marc Valvo, Skinz, Chris Kole, and Badgley Mischka. 248-932-5253.

Best Men’s Clothing Store (Independent): L’Uomo Vogue

Bruce and Mike Goldman (father and son, respectively) have been keeping Detroit-area men in stylish threads since 1979. From Armani and Zegna to Varvatos and Canali, this fashionable spot in Bloomfield Hills has guys covered, with everything from tailor-made suits to designer jeans. There’s even a new L’Uomo Vogue fragrance called Prestige. luomovogue.com; 248-855-7788.

Best Place to be Fitted for a Suit (Independent): Paul Cicchini Custom Clothier

How’s this for service — if you can’t come  to Paul Cicchini Clothier on Old Woodward in Birmingham, they’ll come to your own home or office. That’s the kind of attentiveness to customers this place has been displaying since its founding in 1949. Custom suits and shirts for men are the shop’s specialty, but there are off-the-rack items, and some women’s clothes as well. 248-646-0535.

Best Vintage Clothing: Paris

Specializing in women’s fashions from the 1940s and ’50s, this shop in downtown Royal Oak has trunk loads of dresses, jewelry, hats, and gloves for that chic retro look. Men’s hats and cuff links are also sold, in addition to new jewelry for women. 248-542-9593.

Best Women’s Eveningwear (Independent)/Best Place to Buy a Bridal Gown: Roma Sposa

A newly completed project creating two separate entities, one for bridal, one for after-five fashion, is raising the profile of this Birmingham shop. Look for frocks by Michigan-born designer Kevan Hall, or Ivonne de la Vega, and Eavis & Brown, Rose Taft, and Sujata Gazder. After 10 years of offering highly personalized bridal services, owner Anna Castaldi-Roselli credits her success to the fact that she modeled her salon after the bridal boutique that brought her success in Rome. romasposa.com; 248-723-4300.

Best Gift Shop: Catching Fireflies

Trying to find that just-right gift has never been so fun or easy. With two locations, the whimsical Catching Fireflies has an abundant selection of original gifts. The store is filled with merchandise from local and national artists. Stock includes necklaces, bath and body, kitchen, and stationery. shopcatchingfireflies.com; 248-336-2030 (Berkley), 248-650-3318 (Rochester).

Best Place for a Shopping Spree: Somerset

It’s no wonder that this shrine to shopping in Troy took top honors in several categories. You can buy a dazzling trinket at Tiffany. Then, for a few dollars, pick up a bar of soap at Lush. Although the accent is on the upscale, you can find almost anything at the Collection’s 180-plus stores, and the dining, from P.F. Chang’s to Zodiac in Neiman Marcus, is leagues beyond the usual mall grub. There’s an exercise bonus: the 700-foot skywalk connecting North and South encourages walking. People-watching often includes spotting a sports star or TV talking head.

Women’s Clothing (Chain): Macy’s (macys.com)  •  Women’s Eveningwear (Chain): Neiman Marcus (Troy; neimanmarcus.com; 248-643-3300)  •  Plus-size Clothing (Chain): Lane Bryant (lanebryant.com)  •  Men’s Clothing (Chain): Nordstrom (nordstrom.com)  •  Place to be Fitted for a Suit (Chain): Nordstrom (nordstrom.com)  •  Lingerie: Harp’s Lingerie (Birmingham; 248-642-2555)  •  Place to Buy Jeans: Caruso Caruso (Birmingham; 248-645-5151)  •  Kids’ Clothes (Chain): Gap (gap.com)  •  Kids’ Clothes (Independent): The Purple Bear (Birmingham; thepurplebear.com; 248-645-0400)  •  Resale/Consignment: Bellocchio Upscale Resale (Royal Oak; bellocchioresale.com; 248-541-8025  •  Accessories (Chain): Claire’s (claires.com)  •  Accessories (Independent): Oliver’s Trendz (Birmingham, Gaylord, Mackinaw City; oliverstrendz.com)  •  Place for a Bargain: T.J. Maxx (tjmaxx.com)


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Best Independent Hardware Store: Frentz and Sons Hardware, Photograph by Roy Ritchie

Home

Best Independent Hardware Store: Frentz & Sons Hardware

With independents becoming an increasingly rare breed, family-owned businesses survive by putting a premium on personal service. That formula has worked for John B. Frentz since he opened for business in 1925. It’s the same concept that keeps his grandsons, John, Mike, and Chip Frentz, thriving at the corner of Main and Gardenia in Royal Oak. They’ve added a contemporary element: technology. Their comprehensive Web site is full of useful reference information, including a nod to the history of their business. Of course, there are those who still prefer the old-fashioned pleasure of wandering the hardware aisles. frentzandsons.com; 248-544-8111.

Bling

Best Custom Jeweler: Tapper’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry

Four names sum it up pretty well: Steven Tapper, Paul Maki, Gary Dixon, and Terry Oliver. If you haven’t met these personable, innovative, and talented jewelry designers or talked to them about creating something uniquely yours, it’s time you did. tappers.com, 248-932-7700.

Best Place to Buy a Wedding Ring: Tiffany & Co. (Chain) & Tapper’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry (Independent)

Tiffany & Co. is practically synonymous with engagement. The jeweler has signified enduring romanticism since first introducing its six-prong setting in 1886. To this day, the blue box can send a woman’s heart racing. The Tapper family has gained the trust of generations of couples during four decades of friendly, caring service. Ten bridal designers are carried in the Bloomfield Hills store. A second location is coming to Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi. tiffany.com; 248-637-2800. tappers.com/bridal; 800-337-4438.

Etc.

Used Bookstore: John K. King Used & Rare Books

If you’re a bookworm, beware — you could easily be given up for lost browsing among the endless stacks at this former glove factory on Lafayette on the western fringe of downtown Detroit. Proprietor King has come a long way from his hole-in-the-wall shop in the old Michigan Theatre building on Bagley, and his stock has grown exponentially. He even took over the old Otis Elevator building behind his light-blue store. Books aren’t King’s only trade; there are prints, documents with famous signatures, and other memorabilia. From the arcane to bestsellers, proprietor King and his capable staff know books cover to cover. There’s a small outpost in Ferndale, too. rarebooklink.com, 313-961-0622.

Best Place to Buy Art Supplies: Greens Art Supply

Greens has been helping metro Detroiters complete the picture since 1953. Its two locations carry a range of goods from high-end paints and pencils to a kid-pleasing selection of Crayolas. Need a kiln? Greens has it. Want to try origami? Greens has the proper paper. On the off chance that the store doesn’t stock what you seek, the staff will gladly place a special order. As for the finished project, Greens can put it into a custom frame. greensartsupply.com; 248-644-1644 (Birmingham), 248-651-3900 (Rochester).

Best Antiques Store (Three-way Tie): Europe Direct Warehouse

The 10,000-square-foot showroom on Hilton in Ferndale is easy to spot, with its waving flags from a dozen European countries. Inside is a vast stock of English and French antique furniture, accessories, statuary, and garden accents that owner Chris Pray has acquired during scouting missions abroad. Inventory is replenished with direct containers from England and France every six to eight weeks. Among Pray’s recent finds was a 20-inch tall genuine hourglass on a brass stand — a “super-eccentric” piece, he says. edwh.com; 248-691-9155.

Other winners: Knightsbridge Antique Mall, Northville; 248-344-7200, Odd Fellows Antique Mall, Berkley; 248-399-6098.

Best Window Display: Ribbons

One of the pleasures of street-level shopping is checking out creative storefronts. At Ribbons, the downtown Birmingham gift- and home-accent boutique on Old Woodward near the Birmingham 8 Theatre, the retail display offers a pretty and genteel scene. The appeal begins with decorative painting on the carved moldings that surround the entry door. Interesting window views afford glimpses of fanciful merchandise, including ceramic animals, potpourri, and hand-painted furniture, a refined contrast from the bustling street scene just outside. 248-258-9574.

Best Optical Shop: D.O.C

Who would have thought that a family optometry business, open since 1946, would have put the “sexy” in specs? D.O.C did just that with its popular “sexy specs” ad campaign that introduced the fashionable side of wearing glasses. When he first set up shop, Dr. Donald L. Golden was one of only five optometrists in the country fitting contact lenses. Though there are now stores nationwide, readers agree, they’re the best in town. docoptics.com.

Best Place to Buy Toys (Independent): Adventures in Toys

Sweet stuffed animals beg to come home with you. Puzzles wait to challenge. Brands include Playmobil, Madame Alexander, and Ravensburger. A variety of affordable merchandise makes it easy to stop by this downtown Birmingham shop and buy an occasional just-because gift. And, speaking of gifts, ask for the signature polka-dot gift wrap. 248-646-5550.

New book selection (Independent): Book Beat (Oak Park, thebookbeat.com; 248-968-1190)  •  Magazine selection: Borders (various locations; bordersstores.com)  •  Place to Buy a Greeting Card: Write Impressions (Royal Oak; writeimpressions-mi.com; 248-541-8921)  •  Independent Pharmacy: Birmingham Drugs (Birmingham; 248-644-3214)  •  New Book Selection (Chain): Borders (various locations; bordersstores.com)  •  Place to Buy Toys (Chain): Toys R Us (various locations; toysrus.com)


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Best Local Talk-Radio Hosts: Drew and Mike, Photograph by John Nathan Urbanek

Media

Best Radio Voice/Best Local Radio DJ: Dick Purtan

Because it’s nearly impossible to imagine morning radio without Purtan, it’s hard to believe he’s not a native Detroiter. He hails from Buffalo, N.Y., but over the past 42 years, this Radio Hall of Fame inductee has been waking up metro Detroit with his warm voice and repartee with his Purtan’s People. Whether he’s pitching in to help a charity, or just talking over the news of the day with his crew at WOMC, Purtan manages to make listeners feel they’ve got a friend. womc.com.

Local TV Personality Destined for Prime Time: Karen Drew

Watch out, Katie Couric — those footsteps you hear approaching rapidly behind you belong to WDIV (Channel 4) reporter Karen Drew. Perhaps it’s her investigative reporting awards, which include two Emmys, or her vivacious looks and style. She can be seen anchoring local weekend newscasts and on Rescue 4 Undercover team reports. clickondetroit.com.

Best Local TV Anchor, Good-looking TV Personality, and Local TV Personality’s Hairdo: Carmen Harlan

Harlan began her career at WDIV (Channel 4) in 1978 and quickly became one of the area’s most recognizable and favorite faces. A Michigan native, Harlan attended Detroit’s Mumford High School and graduated from the U-M. Watch for her on the 5, 6, and 11 p.m. newscasts. clickondetroit.com

Best Radio Station Playlist: DOUG-FM (93.1)

Since 2005, when DOUG hit the airways, its no-DJ, no-personalities format gained a following. The sans-interruption approach gets listeners tuning in for a concert of nonstop favorites. The playlist blends four decades of hits, from Journey and Fleetwood Mac to Pearl Jam and Bob Marley. 931dougfm.com.

Best Traffic Reporter: Jackie Paige

Before leaving the house with a travel cup of java, many Detroiters have learned first to check with Jackie Paige on Fox 2 (WJBK, Channel 2) in order to avoid snags on their way to work. Instead of bellowing from a noisy chopper, Paige delivers the traffic report pleasantly but effectively from the studio. A voice of tranquility amid the madness of rush hour, Paige is the go-to person for cautious commuters. myfoxdetroit.com.

Best Local Talk-Radio Hosts: Drew & Mike

Yeah, they’re boisterous, occasionally crude, and sometimes downright snarky. But Drew Lane and Mike Clark’s morning show on WRIF-FM (101.1) is highly entertaining, due in no small part to the hosts’ wicked humor and politically incorrect views. Despite their antics, these guys are well-informed on current events and sports. (They can chat up athletes like Chauncey Billups better than most sportswriters.) The two skewer everyone from sleazy politicians and trampy entertainers to hypocrites and poseurs. They also stop at nothing to get an interview; remember the morning in April when they called a snoozing O.J. Simpson and got him out of the sack? Drew and Mike’s popularity probably boils down to this: They say many of the things lots of us are thinking but are too timid to voice.

Local Newspaper: Detroit Free Press (freep.com)  •  Local Radio Station: WDET-FM (101.9; wdetfm.org)  •  Local TV News: WDIV (Channel 4; clickondetroit.com)  •  Local Radio News: WWJ-AM (950; wwj.com)  •  Local Radio Station at 3 a.m.: WDET-FM  (101.9; wdetfm.org)  •  Locally Generated Web Site: clickondetroit.com  •  Local Newspaper Columnist:  Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press  •  Local Sportscaster: Bernie Smilovitz, WDIV (Channel 4)  •  Local Weather Forecast: Chuck Gaidica, WDIV (Channel 4)  •  Local Traffic Report: WWJ-AM (950; wwj.com)

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