Best of Saskatoon 2017

Best of Saskatoon 2017Hola Bestinistas!

Welcome to the 2017 edition of Planet S’ world-renowned Best Of Saskatoon, our reader-fueled guide to the best people, places, shops and services in this excellent city! Thousands of you guys cast, I dunno, probably 100,000 votes to determine the winners in like 100 categories (I’ll let you count ’em if you’re that interested). You hold the result in your hands, unless you’re reading this on a desktop computer. Then probably not!

As always, the purpose of this annual exercise is to have a laugh and celebrate everyone and everything that makes this beloved a-Bridge’d City such a terrific place. All the winners and runner-ups you’re about to read about have, in some way, made this town a better place to live in. That part should be taken seriously. The silly “blurbs” we spent weeks writing, well, better bring your sense of humour along when you’re reading those. Here there be nonsense.

Thanks to everyone who nominated and voted in our contest, and thanks to the hard-working Planet S staff and freelancers who melted their brains over this fire (in a happy, marshmallow kinda way). Greg, Paul, Carolyn, Maria and everyone else. We couldn’t have done it without you.

I’ll shut up now. Let’s get on with this! /Stephen Whitworth

ARTS & MUSIC | CITY & CITIZENS | HEALTH, FITNESS & BEAUTY | NEIGHBOURHOODS | SERVICES | SHOPPING

Just the list of winners

ARTS & MUSIC

Best Art Show

Art in the Park
caswellartsfestival.com

Runners-up Nuit Blanche (2nd), ReVamp Upcycled Art Show (3rd), “Dimensions” at Saskatchewan Craft Council Gallery (4th), “All Together Now” at AKA Gallery (5th)

There are some good candidates here. And with the new Remai Modern finally open, the competition promises to be even more intense in 2018. As for Art in the Park, it’s only on for a single afternoon, but it sure packs a lot into its five hours at Ashworth Holmes Park. You’re probably better off asking what art forms aren’t represented as it pretty much covers the gamut from visual art and craft to music and a Kids ArtFest. So congrats to the organizers for their win. /GB

Best Artist

Chad Coombs
chadcoombs.com

Runners-up Michael Hosaluk (2nd), Jayde Goodon (3rd), Lorna Russell (4th), Adrian Stimson (5th)

Chad Coombs is a repeat winner in this category. As I noted last year, he cites Richard Avedon, Man Ray and Helmut Newton as influences. When I visited his website on Oct. 22, he had a black-and-white photo on his home page of a young white guy with a blank look on his face holding an automatic rifle. Tucked in his jeans was a pistol, and he was wearing a black muscle shirt with “Made By Satan” on it. It’s part of a series Coombs is working on where men pose with different types of guns. Given the times we live in, the series seems pretty provocative. /GB

Best Band

One Bad Son
onebadson.com

Runners-up Pistol Whips (2nd), The Garrys (3rd), The Steadies (4th), Soft Cotton (5th)

When I first heard about One Bad Son a few years ago I was confused as hell about drummer Kurt Dahl. I assumed it was a new project for the former Age of Electric/New Pornographers drummer. He was no longer with the Pornos, I knew, and One Bad Son had spent time in Vancouver, so again, I just assumed… turns out I was wrong, though. The Age of Electric drummer spells his name Kurt Dahle. Both stick-smiths have major rock chops, though. So congrats to Kurt Dahl and bandmates Shane Volk (vocals), Adam Hicks (guitar) and Steve Adams (bass) on their win. In October, One Bad Son released their sixth album Made in the Name of Rock n Roll. If you want to check them out, they’re playing O’Brians Event Centre Dec. 16. /GB

Best Concert

Ed Sheeran
edsheeran.com

Runners-up Beck (2nd), Blue Rodeo (3rd), Nickelback (4th)

Taken together, the finalists here pretty much encapsulate Saskatoon’s concert scene. Jazz and Classical are missing, admittedly. But otherwise, you’ve got Sheeran, who appeals to youngish women plus guys with a sensitive/dorky side. I’m stereotyping here, obviously, but Beck would rep a similar demographic, just a generation older, plus people who are into quirky musical experiments. Blue Rodeo kind of covers country and folk. Which brings me to Nickelback. I’m going to take the high road, and not resort to a cheap shot about radio rock. Hell, I even saw Nickelback play a club gig with a $5 cover back in the day. I enjoyed the show, and their Sept. 23 concert with opening act Cheap Trick (classic rock) did find favour with some Planet S voters. /GB

Best DJ

DJ Anchor
djanchor.ca

Runners-up DJ Sugar Daddy (2nd), Jamgo (3rd), DJ Ashley Alexander (4th), DJ Arioso (5th)

DJ Anchor is a repeat winner in this category. In last year’s blurb I suggested his handle seemed a bit incongruous as the primary goal of DJing is to get people up and at it on the dance floor. Using “Anchor” as a handle, in my mind, kind of works at cross-purposes to that objective. But darned if he didn’t remain firmly anchored to this title in 2017. So congrats to him for all the booty-shaking he inspires with his tunes. If you want to hear DJ Anchor spin, he’s on the bill at the Morgan Page show at Matriarch Nightclub Nov. 10. /GB

Best Karaoke Night

Amigos Cantina
806 Dufferin Ave. 306-652-4912 amigoscantina.com

Runners-up Crackers Restaurant (2nd), Whiskey Jacks (3rd), Colonial Pub and Grill and Flint (tie 4th)

Thanks Planet S voters, you just gave me some great leads for a Karaoke Kalendar we’ll be debuting in listings soon. If you have any other venues to add, shoot us an e-mail with the details to listings@planetsmag.com. As for what makes a good karaoke night, my guess would be talented and personable performers, a solid sound system, an expansive song catalogue, a responsive crowd, and booze — lots of booze. And for our voters, Amigos Cantina is the place to be. /GB

Best Live Music Venue

The Bassment
202 4th Ave. N. 306-683-2277 thebassment.ca

Runners-up Capitol Music Club (2nd), Amigos Cantina (3rd), O’Brians Event Centre (4th), Broadway Theatre (5th)

One thing The Bassment has going for it is the frequency of shows. It’s not a “once in a blue moon” venue that music fans can get out of the habit of going to. As listings editor, I also appreciate its website which has shows listed well in advance with all the details I need — including a short bio and photo for each act. Nice! Then there’s the musicians themselves. They don’t span the total spectrum, as metal and hard rock acts aren’t booked. But otherwise… just look at these upcoming gigs: Laila Biali (Nov. 9.), Ellen Froese Rock ’n’ Roll Show (Nov. 10), The North jazz quartet (Nov. 11), Dirty Catfish Brass Band (Nov. 12), Brock Zeman/Blair Hogan (Nov. 13), Jack Semple’s B.B. King tribute (Nov. 16-17) and Flying Colours (Nov. 18). /GB

Best Live Theatre Production

Twelfth Night
Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan shakespearesask.com

Runners-up Spamalot, Saskatoon Summer Players (2nd), Vigilante, Persephone Theatre (3rd), Saskatoon Soaps (4th), Southern Dandy 75, Live Five Theatre (5th)

If Shakespeare was writing today, Twelfth Night would be classed as a rom-com. It’s about a pair of fraternal twins, Viola and Sebastian, who get separated by a shipwreck in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of modern-day Croatia. All sorts of romantic shenanigans subsequently occur. What made this Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan production of Twelfth Night especially memorable for Planet S voters, I suspect, was it had a bluegrass score. So congrats to director Will Brooks and the cast and crew on the win. /GB

Best Solo Music Act

B.C. Read
bcread.com

Runners-up Kirby Criddle (2nd), Anna Haverstock (3rd), Clara Lessa (4th), Aryn El Hefe (5th)

Acoustic blues are B.C. Read’s forte. But he’s also been known to team up with other musicians from time to time to punch up his sound. Take his last album 1,000 Miles which features contributions from Suzie Vinnick (vocals), Big Dave McLean (harmonica) and Jack Semple (guitar). Expect more fireworks on Dec. 29 when Read plays a “Big Band” style show at Bud’s on Broadway. It’ll be a great chance to see our voters’ pick for Best Solo Act in action. And keep an eye out down the road for a My Music with Read where he’ll talk about his six favourite songs. /GB

CITY & CITIZENS

Best Animal at the Zoo

Red Panda
1903 Forestry Farm Park Dr. 306-975-3382 saskatoon.ca.

Runners-up Bears (2nd), Komodo Dragons (3rd), Wolves (4th), Goats (5th)

I write for Planet S’ sister mag Prairie Dog too. Its Best of Regina contest has long had a Best Wild Animal category. Outside of a moose one year, finalists typically include squirrels, Canada geese, rabbits and other ho-hum animals. Of course, this category isn’t exactly the same. The finalists here, after all, all live in enclosures. It’s not like Saskatoon has bears, wolves and Komodo dragons (Yikes!) wandering its parks and streets like Regina’s “Wild” animals. Red Pandas we could probably manage — they’re certainly cute enough. Goats would be tolerable too, I suppose. But it was the pandas that captured our voters’ hearts. /GB

Best City Councillor

Mairin Loewen
Ward Seven wardseven.wordpress.com

Runners-up Darren Hill (2nd), Cynthia Block (3rd), Sarina Gersher (4th), Zach Jeffries (5th)

“Never trust a man when he’s in love, drunk, or running for office,” legendary actress Shirley MacLaine once said — which is perhaps one reason why, in the 2016 election, Saskatoon voted in a city council with a majority of women. Among them is Ward 7’s Mairin Loewen. It’s really no wonder why you voted her Saskatoon’s Best City Councillor: she’s smart and capable. But her awesomeness doesn’t stop at City Hall. She’s been able to take her passion for music and use it as a tool for personal and social change as the co-founder of Girls Rock Saskatoon. Whether Mairin’s kicking butt on the Committee for Transportation and Environment, or pounding the keys, Saskatoon knows she rocks! /Maria Vaiaso

Best Festival

SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival
saskjazz.com

Runners-up Folkfest (2nd), Taste of Saskatchewan (3rd), Saskatoon Pride Festival (4th), PotashCorp Fringe Theatre Festival (5th)

Each June, we put out a Summer Fun Guide that covers festivals in Saskatoon, Regina and “The Hinterland”. The last category is a gentle dig at rural Saskatchewan, admittedly, but it’s also a shout-out to the classic CBC Hinterland Who’s Who wilderness shorts. I’m the one who compiles the guide, and I assure you I do take the job seriously. Sure, I have a bit of fun with some of the events — cough, Macklin’s annual World Bunnock Championship, cough — but there truly are a lot of great summer festivals out there. Just look at the five finalists in this category and you’ll see what I mean. So here’s to 2018. /GB

Best MLA

Ken Cheveldayoff
Sask Party cheveldayoff.com

Runners-up Cathy Sproule (2nd), Ryan Meili (3rd), Danielle Chartier (4th), David Forbes (5th)

Ken Cheveldayoff’s main gig is as a Sask. Party MLA representing Saskatoon Willowgrove. But his focus these days is on the race to replace Brad Wall as the Sask. Party’s leader. He’s one of five candidates vying to lead the current government into what, with a moribund economy and multiple spending scandals, will surely be stormy waters. Cheveldayoff is a repeat winner in this category, so Planet S voters obviously like him. Although whether that will play in his favour in a race dominated, thus far at least, by rural/social conservative issues, remains to be seen. The new leader will be chosen Jan. 27, so stay tuned. /GB

Best MP

None

Runners-up Sheri Benson (2nd), Kelly Block (3rd), Kevin Waugh (4th)

I know it’s a tradition for voters to pick None as Best MP. But I have mixed feelings nonetheless. During the dozen or so years we’ve held this contest, it’s certainly true, the pickings have been pretty slim. I won’t mention any names (or parties, as if I have to), but most of the headlines our MPs have generated in that time have been negative ones. But hopefully our voters aren’t too disillusioned with the current state of our democracy, as it’s important for everyone to stay engaged and work where we can to build a better world. Thus endeth my sermon. /GB

Best News Outlet Overall

CTV Saskatoon
saskatoon.ctvnews.ca

Runners-up CBC Saskatoon (2nd), Global Saskatoon (3rd), 650 CKOM (4th), Saskatoon StarPhoenix (5th)

Not since printed newspapers began to replace the town crier in the 17th century has the field of news journalism experienced such upheaval. Okay, I have no idea if that lede is true. But I like the mental picture it painted, so I decided to go with it. And there can be no doubt that big changes are afoot as legacy media struggle to adapt in a fast-paced technological revolution that has opened up tremendous opportunities, but is also proving to be dangerous too as “fake” news and outright propaganda become part of mainstream society. Now, more than ever, people need a news source they can trust. And for our voters CTV Saskatoon is the top dog. /GB

Best News Website Or Blog

Saskatoon StarPhoenix
thestarphoenix.com

Runners-up CBC Saskatoon (2nd), CTV Saskatoon (3rd), 650 CKOM (4th), Global Saskatoon (5th)

No Breitbart, The Rebel, Fox News or other alt-right rage factories, I see, so that’s good. In print form, as we all know, the StarPhoenix is a shadow of its former self. The newspaper’s win here, though, shows it’s still got journalistic chops. In late October, Postmedia announced a strategic partnership with INDOCHINO where it will provide $40 million in “media dollars” to promote the made-to-measure apparel company in print and online in exchange for a share of future revenues and stock options. It’s a new financial model Postmedia is trying out. Will it enable Saskatoon’s venerable newspaper to rise again like the mythical Greek bird it’s named after? Stay tuned. /GB

Best Place To Meet Singles

Crazy Cactus
269 3rd Ave. S. 306-975-1266 crazycactusyxe.com

Runners-up Hudsons Canada’s Pub (2nd), Congress Beer House (3rd), Divas Nightclub (4th), Earls Kitchen and Bar (5th)

So let me get this straight, Planet S voters. Last year in this category you were  all wholesome and picked the University of Saskatchewan, Dog Park, Grocery Store — even the frickin’ Library! — as the Best Place to Meet Singles! Saskatoon Pride was a finalist too, so there was a hint of hooking up while in party mode. This year, though, voters went full on BOOZE. In last May’s Best of Food & Drink, three guesses who took home the Best Place for a Wicked Bender title? If you guessed Crazy Cactus, you’d be right. The runners-up all serve booze too, so overall, quite a shift in strategy for Saskatoon singles. Hope it works out for you. /GB

Best Radio Host(s)

Watson and Whitney
Rock 102 rock102rocks.com

Runners-up Pat Dubois, 92.9 The Bull (2nd), Rob and Shauna, C95 (3rd), Gregger and Lena, 98 Cool (4th), John Gormley, 650 CKOM (5th)

Not quite as famous as two other notable duos that featured a Watson (Sherlock Holmes and Alexander Graham Bell), Watson and Whitney are nonetheless a popular pairing on Saskatoon airwaves. They do the 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. morning drive slot on Rock 102 FM, so they’re likely the first media voice our voters hear when they wake in the morning. Unless our voters were working the graveyard shift, I suppose, or maybe returning home after a wicked bender. Then Watson and Whitney might well be the last media voice they hear in their day. Regardless, the duo picked up the win here over some tough competition. /GB

Best Radio Station

92.9 The Bull
929thebullrocks.com

Runners-up Rock 102 (2nd), CBC Saskatoon (3rd), CFCR 90.5 FM (4th), 96.3 CRUZ FM (5th)

I just noticed, if you delete the “r” from 92.9 The Bull’s URL you get “thebullocks”. Depending on whether you’re in the U.S. or U.K., “bullocks” refers to either young bulls or castrated steers. While both are consistent with the station’s country pop focus, where artists such as Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney and Jess Moskaluke are regulars on the playlist, I suspect the U.S. definition would fit best with the station’s branding. Upping the “bull” quotient at the station is its coverage of Saskatoon’s top sports teams the Hilltops, Rush, Blades and Huskies. So congrats to everyone at 92.9 The Bull on their win here. /GB

Best Reporter (Print, Broadcast Or Web)

Jennifer Jellicoe
CTV Saskatoon saskatoon.ctvnews.ca

Runners-up Angelina Irinici, CTV (2nd), Charles Hamilton, CBC (3rd), Bre McAdam, Saskatoon StarPhoenix (4th), Matt Young, CTV (5th)

I’ve always liked Jennifer Jellicoe — and I guess you do, too. She’s serious, but not stuffy when bringing us the news, unless it’s a light-hearted story that lets her fun side show. JJ has a knack for explaining complicated subjects in a way that makes sense — I trust her to tell me what I need to know. And she’s one of the best when it comes to interacting with her interview subjects, or making small talk with her news team at the anchor desk. Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Jennifer has been in the business since 1998. Smart, compassionate, down-to-earth and passionate about her city and province — it’s nice our voters recognized her again! /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Saskatchewan Polytechnic Instructor

Suzanne Toombs
saskpolytech.ca

Runners-up Jean Busby (2nd), Bernice Ruf (3rd), Dalton Mervold (4th), Alf Allenspach (5th)

Some people think it’s tough being an elementary school teacher, and I’m sure it is. But imagine teaching at the post-secondary level and facing classrooms filled with adults and their high expectations, inquiring minds and incessant questions. Not to mention those pesky “Rate My Teacher” websites that tell ALL! You’d never see little seven year old Suzie filling out an online questionnaire to dis her grade two teacher. But it’s fair game for older students and adult learners. That’s why we have categories like this and Best U of S Professor to give a shout-out to a favourite post-secondary teacher. This year, voters chose Suzanne Toombs Best Saskatchewan Polytechnic Instructor. Looks like Suzanne regularly gets top marks in her class! /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Saskatoon Pet Peeve

Bad Drivers

Runners-up Brad Wall (2nd), Downtown Bike Lanes (3rd), Parking Downtown (4th), Road Construction (5th)

Planet S voters dislike Brad Wall even more than Downtown Bike Lanes? That’s saying something! Although they don’t dislike Mr. Wall as much as they disdain bad drivers. I’m predominantly a cyclist/pedestrian myself, although I do own a car that I inherited from my dad. It’s a 2011 Chevy Cruze, and it has 15,200 klicks on the odometer, so yeah, I don’t drive much. Nonetheless, I do share your concern. Driving is serious business, and whenever we get behind the wheel, we need to bring our A game, as if something does go wrong, tragedy can result. So let’s get our act together everyone. /GB

Best Small Business Owner

Melissa Squire
Alchemy Clothing and Salon 615 2nd Ave. N. 306-244-5444 alchemysask.com

Runners-up Jeff Wickstrom, Broadway Shoe Repair (2nd), Jana Ellis, Bill’s House of Flowers (3rd), Cheryl Hataley, The Teacher’s Trunk and Kris Hautzinger, Cliptomania (tie 4th)

Melissa Squire’s aptitude for business and artistic and innovative “Badass Pretty” clothing line have made her a powerhouse in Saskatoon’s fashion community. Her designs are described as 1950s pinup-inspired with an edgy, rockabilly attitude. If you’re looking for a new one-of-a-kind dress or bathing suit, Melissa’s bewitching designs are found where naughty meets nice. Alluring and whimsical, her outfits will be sure to make you stand out. As Planet S voters know, when it comes to leading edge fashion, Melissa Squire of Alchemy Clothing and Salon has the magic elixir to turn your closet from something ordinary into something extraordinary. /Maria Vaiaso

Best Sports Reporter

Wray Morrison
Rawlco Radio rawlco.com

Runners-up Pat McKay, CTV (2nd), Claire Hannah, Global (3rd), Ryan Flaherty, Global (4th), Moses Woldu, CTV (5th)

Wray Morrison and the other finalists are busy people these days, I’ll wager. Saskatoon’s sports scene is almost always hopping, but when it comes to high profile sports, the fall calendar is especially crowded. The Hilltops and Huskies are typically immersed in late season and playoff action, and the Blades season is in full swing. Then you’ve got all the CFL, Major League Baseball, and early NHL and NBA activity to keep tabs on — plus curling, and other U of S sports. As if that wasn’t enough, the Saskatchewan Rush are playing last season’s NLL champs the Georgia Swarm in a Champions Cup Rematch at SaskTel Centre Nov. 18. So yeah, there’s a lot going on. /GB

Best Street For An Evening Stroll

Broadway Avenue

Runners-up Spadina Crescent E. (2nd), Saskatchewan Crescent W. (3rd), 20th Street W. (4th), 21st Street E. (5th)

Broadway goes back to Saskatoon’s earliest days. It got its start, in fact, as the main commercial strip for the town of Nutana before it amalgamated with the city in 1906. Over the decades, the avenue has seen many businesses come and go. But what hasn’t changed is its old school charm and pedestrian-friendly nature. Too often in newer areas of our city, the focus is on vehicle traffic, with pedestrians left to navigate streets that offer little in the way of visual engagement and possibilities for interaction. Broadway, though, has all sorts of delights from art galleries and coffeeshops to live music venues, speciality shops and, of course, the iconic Broadway Theatre. Good choice Planet S voters. /GB

Best Summer Event

SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival
saskjazz.com

Runners-up Folkfest (2nd), Taste of Saskatchewan (3rd), The Saskatoon Ex (4th), PotashCorp Fringe Theatre Festival (5th)

As with the Best Festival category, there are some fine candidates for Saskatoon’s Best Summer Event. Truly, all would be worthy winners. But our voters went with the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival. As with past years, the festival delivered some top-notch talent in 2017 including Feist, Ziggy Marley, Amanda Marshall, Serena Ryder, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Walk Off the Earth and Brett Kissel. Let’s not forget all the local acts that get a chance to shine in headline and support roles during the festival too, and the free shows that music lovers have an opportunity to enjoy. What delights will the 2018 festival bring, I wonder? /GB

Best Thing About Living In Saskatoon

The River

Runners-up Big City with Small City Feel (2nd), Short Commutes (3rd), Friendly People (4th), Bike Paths (5th)

Surprise win for The Boss in this category as Planet S voters chose his classic 1980 double album chronicling the dark side of the American dream as the winner in this category. I, for one, can’t argue with that, as Bruce Springsteen has some true gems on The River such as “Hungry Heart”, Cadillac Ranch” and the title track. The rest of the finalists, outside of Bike Paths, are uninspired. But our voters really hit a home run with their choice for Best Thing About Living in Saskatoon. Yes, they did. /GB

Best Thing You Miss When You Leave Saskatoon

Family and Friends

Runners-up The River (2nd), Bridges (3rd), Friendly People (4th), CFCR (5th)

“Family and Friends” I get as something Planet S voters miss when they are away from Saskatoon. But what’s with Springsteen’s The River showing up in second spot? As much as I admire the album, and can totally understand why Planet S voters would choose it the Best Thing About Living In Saskatoon, surely everyone knows that most musical formats these days, outside of maybe vinyl, are PORTABLE. So to paraphrase the old American Express commercial, when you leave home, you never have to be without it. Family and Friends, though, I totally get as something our voters miss when they leave Saskatoon. /GB

Best TV Anchor

Lisa Dutton
Global News globalnews.ca/saskatoon

Runners-up Chantel Saunders, CTV (2nd), Stephanie Massicotte, CTV (3rd), Jeremy Dodge, CTV (4th), Matt Young, CTV (5th)

Lisa Dutton is no stranger to the winner’s circle as Best TV Anchor. She’s been described as knowledgeable, quirky, down-to-earth, caring and trustworthy. Her frequent wins are a testament to how well-known she is as she brings you news and interesting interviews — most recently as a morning show co-host. Unfortunately for Saskatoon viewers, Lisa signed off at Global and left our city in August. If you check her Facebook page, you’ll see the outpouring of emotion from her many fans who were sad to see her go. We want to join them in congratulating Lisa on her win as Best TV Anchor, and wish her much success in her new home and future in Winnipeg! /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best TV News/Sports Coverage

CTV Saskatoon
saskatoon.ctvnews.ca

Runners-up Global (2nd), CBC (3rd)

I’m not sure about the reasoning behind this category. We’ve already got Best News Outlet Overall, Best Reporter (Print, Broadcast Or Web), Best Sports Reporter and Best News Website Or Blog. So it seems to me that we’ve got this area pretty well covered — outside of the restriction that you have to be a TV station to qualify. Maybe it’s a subtle dig against TV as a medium, and how it can’t compete with print for in-depth news and sports coverage, so it needed its own category? Although with four wins in total, CTV Saskatoon didn’t have any trouble competing with other types of media in more general categories. So congrats to the station for its win here. /GB

Best U of S Professor

Tracey Carr
artsandscience.usask.ca

Runners-up Vince Bruni-Bossio (2nd), Jason Zorbas (3rd), B. Bryan Puk (4th), Richard Schwier (5th)

A wickedly sharp sense of humour. Messy handwriting. Not too hard, not too easy, just right, fair. A soft spot for cats. Approachable. Knowledgeable. Those are just some of the words used to describe Tracey Carr in on-line reviews and voter comments in our Best of Saskatoon contest. A sessional lecturer in Psychology, Tracey has a background in health promotion and program evaluation with 10 years of experience looking at health services in Northern Saskatchewan. In that capacity, she’s appeared as a panelist and presenter at a variety of conferences in Saskatchewan and elsewhere — which is further proof of her expertise and passion for her work. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Weatherperson

Jeff Rogstad
CTV Saskatoon saskatoon.ctvnews.ca

Runners-up Peter Quinlan, Global (2nd), Mike Ciona, CTV (3rd)

If there’s a tougher job in Saskatchewan media than forecasting our fickle weather, I’m not aware of it (unless it’s working on this annual Planet S feature). To begin with, our province is located far from the moderating influence of coastal waters, which leaves us open to insane temperature fluctuations where the thermometer can literally rise (or fall) 20 degrees in a day. Often, those changes are accompanied by wicked winds that put peoples’ lives and property at risk. Not to mention the crazy storms and other extreme weather events that seem to be occurring with greater frequency these days.. So thanks to Jeff Rogstad and the other finalists for the hard work they do to keep us up to speed on the weather. /GB

Best Winter Event

The BHP Enchanted Forest
enchanted-forest.org

Runners-up Festival of Trees (2nd), Winter Shines (3rd), Saskatoon Blues Festival (4th), Winterruption (5th)

As with Best Summer Event, there are some quality finalists here too. Winter in Saskatchewan, as we all know, can be a tough slog. So it’s nice to have stuff to look forward to doing both in the run-up to the holidays, and in the long cold months of January and February when feelings of bleak despair can sometimes set in. The BHP Enchanted Forest runs this year from Nov. 18 to Jan. 6 at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo. One highlight promises to be a new Grinch display. So happy holidays everyone. /GB

Biggest Saskatoon News Story

Charlie Clark Becomes Mayor

Runners-up Earl’s Parrot Stolen and Placed on Traffic Bridge (2nd), Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan Pattison Donation (3rd), Saskatchewan Rush Success (4th), Saskatoon-Fairview By-Election (5th)

No offense to Saskatoon’s new mayor, but I kinda wish the second runner-up would’ve topped him in this poll. I mean, just think of the fun I could’ve had blurbing the saga of the purloined Earl’s Parrot and the now demolished Traffic Bridge. Instead, I get stuck writing on municipal politics. Still, the October 2016 election did deliver a sea change at city hall, with the next generation of civic leaders stepping forward to guide Saskatoon into the late-20th century. Okay, that’s a shot from me as writer with Regina roots. Actually, the mayor and his council project an air of vitality and engagement. Hopefully good things will result. /GB.

Health, Fitness & Beauty

Best Bicycle Store

Bike Doctor
623 Main St. E. 306-664-8555 bikedoctor.ca

Runners-up Doug’s Spoke n’ Sport (2nd), Bruce’s Cycle Works (3rd), Bike Universe (4th), Outtabounds (5th)

As it happens, I’m in the market for a new bike. My current ride is 14 years-old, and while I’ve never had a wipe-out with it, the frame is chipped up, the hand-grips and seat are shot, my tires are worn out, and my gears/derailleur set-up is failing. I’m okay for the rest of the fall cycling season, but come next spring I’ll be investing in a new bike. And while I’m sure all the finalist in this category could get me up and pedalling again, I’d be a fool to ignore the recommendation of Planet S voters who, year in and year out, have showered Bike Doctor with love as Best Bicycle Store. So congrats to all the sales and service staff for the work they do to spread the cycling gospel. /GB

Best Day Spa

Just For You Day Spa and Gift Studio
2414D 8th St. E. 306-955-7546 justforyoudayspa.com

Runners-up Paramount Day Spa Salon and Boutique (2nd), Prairie Bliss (3rd), Salon and Spa Noir (4th), Chel Salonspa (5th)

Just For You Day Spa and Gift Studio allows you to enjoy a variety of professional beauty and relaxation services in an environment of unmatched ease, warmth and elegance. Whether you desire a relaxing massage, a detoxifying body wrap, a moisturizing facial, or a full day spa package, Just For You has a rejuvenating experience to make you feel gorgeous inside and out. With services for women, men, couples or girls’ night out parties, Just For You truly is for everyone. It’s the fourth year in a row they’ve won this title, and this winter they’ll be opening a second location on the west side of Saskatoon. So keep an eye out for it. /Maria Vaiaso

Best Dentist

Shaun Brakstad
Kenderdine Dental 50 Kenderdine Rd. 306-978-6588 kenderdine-dental.ca

Runners-up Carman Rabuka, Broadway Dental (2nd), Michael Hammer, Downtown Dental (3rd), Melanie Pollock, Atrium Dental (4th), Linda Grant, Cornerstone Dental Centre (5th)

Dr. Shaun Brakstad has toppled past winners and close competitors in this category to take the crown as this year’s Best Dentist — no pun intended! He’s a graduate of the U of S College of Dentistry, has practised in Saskatoon since 1993, and is also a clinical instructor at the college. You don’t have to drill down too deep or yank too hard to extract reasons why Dr. Brakstad is a favourite. His patients describe him as knowledgeable, gentle, witty and charming — qualities which help put them at ease in the dentist’s chair. Even patients who used to fear a visit to the dentist are confident and comfortable with the care provided by our voters’ choice as Best Dentist. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Family Doctor

Tom Gabruch
City Centre Family Physicians #200 3211 Preston Ave. S. 306-244-3016 ccfp.ca

Runners-up Lee Old (2nd), Angela Lapetsky (3rd), Indy Das (4th), Selma McMahon (5th)

Dr. Tom Gabruch is a U of S graduate who did his residency in Family Medicine in Calgary before joining City Centre Family Physicians in 1995. He’s been active with various committees of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, and served as the provincial chapter president. He provides comprehensive family care including prenatal and obstetrics, and minor surgical procedures. He also has an interest in sports medicine. Patient reviews indicate Dr. Gabruch has a commonsense, realistic approach to healthcare and is very good at communicating with patients. Many patients note his great sense of humour that helps brighten what might otherwise be a stressful time. Doesn’t this almost make you want to get sick, just so you can book an appointment with Dr. Gabruch? /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Golf Course

The Willows Golf and Country Club
382 Cartwright St. 306-956-1100 willowsgolf.com

Runners-up Moon Lake Golf and Country Club (2nd), Dakota Dunes Golf Links (3rd), Holiday Park Golf Course (4th), Greenbryre Golf and Country Club (5th)

Regina is hosting the LPGA Canadian Open at Wascana Country Club next August. Unlike the men’s tour, the Canuck championship is a big deal on the women’s tour, so most of the top players such as Sung Hyun Park, Lexi Thompson and Canada’s Brooke Henderson should be there. I don’t want to wish ill on the golfers, but I hope there’s at least one day during the tournament when they have to battle winds in the 65 k.p.h. range so they get a taste of what Saskatchewan golfers have to cope with all too often. All of which (outside of the wind) has nothing to do with your pick as Best Golf Course. But The Willows Golf and Country Club has hosted some big tournaments too, and is a repeat winner in this category, so congrats to them. /GB

Best Gym

Ryde YXE Cycle Studio
705 Broadway Ave. 306-477-7933 rydeyxe.ca

Runners-up GoodLife Fitness Centres, 8th St. E. (2nd), Anytime Fitness and Mawson Health and Fitness (tie 3rd), Fitness Focus

We have a core office of five guys, and 25 per cent of them go to the gym. No, that’s not a mistake. One guy is a dedicated gym-goer, so he counts a full 20 per cent. But another guy is only a recent convert after years of being sedentary with a capital S-E-D-E-N-T-A-R-Y, so the jury is still out on whether he’ll be able to sustain his gym-going — so he only gets five per cent. As for the other three, two are three-season cyclists and winter walkers, so they get exercise that way. The fifth has a dog going for him, but that’s about it. I mention this now because there are all sorts of people and lifestyles out there, and the key to being a good gym, I imagine, is to recognize that each client has unique fitness needs. And for Planet S voters, Ryde YXE Cycle Studio is the gym of choice. /GB

Best Hair Salon

Cliptomania
300 3rd Ave. S. 306-668-6611 cliptomania.ca

Runners-up The Lemon Tree Salon and Studio (2nd), Chel Salonspa and Salon and Spa Noir (tie 3rd), Capelli Salon Studio (5th)

You ready for a hair trifecta? Cause that’s what you’re going to get, courtesy of me. First out of the gate is Best Hair Salon. Cliptomania, I think, is a pun on kleptomania — which is a psychological disorder where a person, without being motivated by need or profit, is compelled to steal. At first glance, that association seems a little odd for a hair salon. But when you think about it, it’s weirdly appropriate. Technically, I know, Kris Hautzinger and her talented staff aren’t stealing your hair when they cut it. But they are removing it from your possession, which is kind of like theft, so… Cliptomania it is, and the salon is our voters’ pick as Saskatoon’s best. /GB

Best Men’s Hairstylist

Blaze Wylde
Cliptomania 300 3rd Ave. S. 306-668-6611 cliptomania.ca

Runners-up Sean Kok, Chel Salonspa (2nd), Nycolle Brooks, Tommy Gun’s Stonebridge (3rd), Taylor Kuiack, Tommy Gun’s Blairmore (4th), Angela Luther, Tommy Gun’s Blairmore (5th)

I haven’t had a haircut in a salon for over 15 years. Instead, for that entire time, I’ve done my own hair. Pretty impressive, eh? But I recognize that not everyone has the same mad scissor and clipper skillz as me and has to rely on a professional to tame the keratin-based protein filaments (in science-speak) that sprout relentlessly from follicles in the dermis of our scalps. With all the symbolism that hair carries in our society related to status, health, style and whatnot, the stakes can be high. I’m maybe being a little melodramatic there. Still, a good haircut on a guy can’t help but be a plus. And for Planet S voters, Blaze Wylde tops the list of stylists guys trust to handle their protein filaments — I mean, hair. /GB

Best Women’s Hairstylist

Christian Leigh
Cliptomania 300 3rd Ave. S. 306-668-6611 cliptomania.ca

Runners-up Natasha Kopas, Hair by Natasha Kopas (2nd), Brett Wiebe, The Lemon Tree Salon and Spa (3rd), Paige Gelowitz, The Lemon Tree Salon and Spa (4th), Lindsay Mann, Spectrum (5th)

Everything I said in my Best Men’s Hairstylist blurb probably goes double here. Back in the day, a woman’s protein filaments — damn, science again!, I meant hair — was regarded as her “crowning glory”. Gender attitudes have evolved since then, and many women now opt for low-maintenance cuts that they can manage as part of a busy lifestyle, while some men are getting more adventuresome in how they style their locks. But overall, I think women still embrace the idea of their hair being an important part of their overall look. So finding the right stylist is no small matter. And for Planet S voters, Christian Leigh is their top choice. /GB

Best Manicure/Pedicure

Gisele Sieben
Just For You Day Spa and Gift Studio 2414D 8th St. E. 306-955-7546 justforyoudayspa.com

Runners-up Salon and Spa Noir (2nd), Jasmine Dick, The Lemon Tree (3rd), Esthetics by Kaitlyn (4th), May Nails and Spa (5th)

You’ve seen the fireworks, learned all about our fathers of Confederation, and eaten poutine and butter tarts. But of all the ways to celebrate Canada 150, I recommend indulging in a Canadian Maple pedicure from Gisele Sieben at Just for You Day Spa. Enjoy the sweet scent of Canadian maple fragrant oils while Gisele works on your cuticles and nails. Finished off with a hydrating maple butter mask and a luxurious massage, the experience will leave you singing “Oh Canada.” Although Giselle’s been voted #1 in this category, she’s trained in all esthetic services including waxing, tinting, body treatments and wraps, facials and microdermabrasion. /Maria Vaiaso

Best Massage Therapist

Kara Daniels
Lead Integrated Health Therapies 214 Joseph Okemasis Dr. 306-382-7447 leadintegratedhealththerapies.janeapp.com

Runners-up Brittany Chyz, Just For You Day Spa (2nd), Amanda Mitchell, Paull Chiropractic and Massage Therapy (3rd), Angelina Kunze, Angelina Kunze Massage Therapy (4th), Jodie Olson, Blossom Healing Arts (5th)

The Massage Therapist Association of Saskatchewan has advocated for several years that the province pass legislation regulating the profession to keep shady operators out. Massage therapy requires special training in a postsecondary diploma/degree program with 500 to 1000 hours of instruction and hands-on learning. Therapists also need a license. And with the skills and knowledge they possess, massage therapists can help people find relief from everything ranging from minor aches and pains to debilitating injuries and conditions.  So congrats to Kara Daniels and the other finalists for the great work they do. /GB

Best Piercing Shop

Tantrix Body Art
107 3rd Ave. N. 306-384-5454 tantrixbodyart.com

Runners-up Schmatta (2nd), Alchemy Clothing Salon Tattoo and Piercing (3rd), Soma Studio (4th), ON2U Body Piercing and Tattoos (5th)

I don’t have any piercings myself, so before I wrote this blurb on Nov. 1 I visited Tantrix Body Art’s website to see what services it provides to clients. That led me to a Piercing Facebook page, where I found two photos that, to my untrained eye at least, seemed a tad ghoulish. One was of a man, his white shirt and jacket splattered with blood from a gaping wound at his mouth. I’m not sure what he was having done, perhaps a lip piercing, but it gave me shivers. The other was a woman, her hair in curlers, the left side of her face covered in pustules from some sort of piercing she was getting. Again, SHIVERS! But then I saw the date on the photos, and realized they were tied to Halloween, so that put my mind at ease. And I now extend hearty congratulations to Tantrix Body Art on their win as Saskatoon’s Best Piercing Shop. /GB

Best Place To Play Pool

The Snooker Shack
3421 8th St. E. 306-374-2100 snookershack.ca

Runners-up Pacific Billiards (2nd), The Capitol (3rd), The Thirsty Scholar (4th), Buds on Broadway (5th)

For the 11th year in a row, The Snooker Shack has been voted the best place to play pool. So what makes their pool tables the best in Saskatoon? First, they take pride in maintaining the equipment in their 8000 sq. ft. pool room. They combine those superior pool tables with a top notch food and beverage menu, then throw in classic arcade games with foosball and bubble hockey tables to make the perfect date night for you and your Snooki. This all-ages facility also specializes in steak nights, fundraisers and all sorts of parties for groups of up to 100. Whether you’re just learning the game, or you’ve got skills on par with a “hustler” like Fast Eddie Felsen, The Snooker Shack is the best place to play billiards. /Maria Vaiaso

Best Sporting Goods

Al Anderson’s Source For Sports
208 Ave. B S. 306-652-9412 sourceforsports.com

Runners-up Escape Sports (2nd), Sport Chek (3rd), Brainsport (4th), Olympia Sports (5th)

It’s widely known that when it comes to sports, staff at Al Anderson’s Source For Sports know their stuff. But when it comes to hockey gear, they’re like a double-stuffed Oreo of information. Whether it’s your kid’s first pair of skates, or they’re looking for gear to help them turn pro, Al Anderson’s is a one-stop shop with a complete line of must-have hockey gear for kids and adults. Hockey not your game? Don’t worry, they can also supply all your equipment needs for baseball, soccer, lacrosse, football, winter sports and more. Not only will they set you up with the best equipment, they’ll ensure it fits properly and is the best product for your specific needs. So congrats to them on their win here. /Maria Vaiaso

Best Tattoo Shop

Tantrix Body Art
107 3rd Ave. N. 306-384-5454 tantrixbodyart.com

Runners-up Ink Addiction Tattoos (2nd), Art Sharks Tattoo Co. (3rd), Red Tide Tattoo Company (4th), Soma Studio (5th)

After I did my Best Piercing Shop blurb [see above], I returned to Tantrix’s home page and clicked on the Portfolio link. That led me to samples of ink done by Tantrix’s resident artists Mike Thompson-Hill, Chris Kopera, Tyler Danyluk, Trenton Giles and Trevor G. Even from my own non-tattooed perspective. I’ve got to admit there was some impressive work on display. And it earned Tantrix Body Art the nod here over some extremely tough competition. /GB

Best Tattoo Artist

Mike Thompson-Hill
Tantrix Body Art 107 3rd Ave. N. 306-384-5454 tantrixbodyart.com

Runners-up Jesse Zabos, Art Sharks Tattoo Co. (2nd), Trevor Gusikoski, Tantrix Body Art (3rd), Michael Lauen, Tantrix Body Art (4th), Jayde Goodon, Soma Studio (5th)

When we think of artists in general, the main criteria we evaluate them on is the strength of their aesthetic vision. That’s certainly true of tattoo artists too. There’s one crucial difference, though. Whereas visual artists work in media such as painting, drawing, sculpture and pixels, the tattoo artist’s “canvas” is the human body. And human bodies, as we all know, come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There’s also pain and hygiene factors to consider. If an artist makes a boo-boo while working, they maybe end up with a splotch of paint on the floor or a corrupted file. If a tattoo artist messes up, they could cause major grief for their client. They need skill with a needle, and an aesthetic vision. And for Planet S voters, Mike Thompson-Hill is #1 in Saskatoon. /GB

Best Veterinarian

Vivienne Jones
Erindale Animal Hospital #11 410 Ludlow St. 306-384-2287 erindaleanimalhospital.com

Runners-up Haider Elbermani, Prairieland Vet Clinic (2nd), Rekha Orchard, Orchard Veterinary Care (3rd), Rebecca Corrigan, Prairieland Vet Clinic and Terri Chotowetz – Cumberland Vet Clinic (tie 4th)

How can you not love a veterinarian who knew in grade four she wanted to be a vet, and had a duck named Pecan as one of her first pets? Dr. Vivienne Jones is a graduate of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the U of S, and practiced in her hometown of Vancouver for a few years before moving back to Saskatoon. She’s owned and operated the Erindale Animal Hospital since 2009, where she works with a small but caring team of animal doctors and animal care workers. Dr. Jones enjoys geriatric pet care, meeting new pet owners and their animals, and the challenge of difficult medical cases. She strives to make every client’s visit to the hospital a positive and fulfilling experience. Judging by online reviews and the votes cast by Planet S readers, it looks like she’s succeeded in doing just that. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Yoga Studio

Moksha Yoga Saskatoon
619 1st Ave. N. 306-649-2424 saskatoon.mokshayoga.ca

Runners-up One Yoga (2nd), Ground Yoga (3rd), Hot Yoga on 20th (4th), Inner Peace Yoga (5th)

Unless you just arrived in Saskatoon in the last few months, you know that it gets freakin’ cold here. With a studio temperature set at toasty, hot yoga at Moksha is a great way to beat the winter blues and warm up your frozen limbs while calming your mind and reducing stress. Join the Yogi club with a monthly membership, or drop in to any class available at a wide variety of times. Even if your yoga experience is limited to sipping wine while wearing ultra-comfortable yoga pants, you can find a class for you, as Moksha caters to all levels of ability from absolute beginner to the master yoga warrior. Namaste. /Maria Vaiaso

Neighbourhoods

BROADWAY

Best Kept Secret

Las Palapas Resort Grill
910 Victoria Ave. 306-244-5556 laspalapas.ca

Runners-up D’Lish by Tish Café (2nd), Broadway Shoe Repair (3rd), Hats and That (4th), Enigma Salon / Studio (5th)

Best Shrimp, Best Ethnic Restaurant, Best Burrito and Best Patio. Those were the four categories Las Palapas Resort Grill scooped in Best of Food and Drink last May. As fate (and a lack of freelance writers) would have it, I wrote all four blurbs on this Latin flavoured restaurant that mixes U.S. southwest, Mexican and Caribbean cuisines. So even though I’ve yet to visit it, I feel I know it pretty well. Just re-reading the blurbs I wrote, my mouth is watering. The Burrito Loco still scares me a bit, I admit, but with a bit of liquid fortification, I’d probably be up to trying one. In a district packed with amenities, Las Palapas Resort Grill has carved its own niche. So congrats to them. /GB

Best Locally Owned Business

The Bulk Cheese Warehouse
732 Broadway Ave. 306-652-8008

Runners-up Yard and Flagon (2nd), The Better Good (3rd), Broadway Shoe Repair (4th), McQuarrie’s Tea and Coffee Merchants (5th)

Bulk Cheese Warehouse scored two titles in our Best of Food and Drink contest: Best Butcher and Best Specialty Grocery. In the latter category, Carolyn Rebeyka reminisced in her blurb about late evening dinner runs she used to make while working at a busy travel agency. That introduced her to the store, and she’s been a fan ever since. Founded by Scott Bartlett with help from a Swiss butcher named Bruno over 15 years ago, Bulk Cheese Warehouse is currently managed by Scott’s son Des. So congrats to everyone at the store for their win as Broadway’s Best Locally Owned Business. /GB

Best NEW Locally Owned Business

Venn Coffee Roasters
#10 830 Dufferin Ave. 306-500-2354 drinkvenn.com

Runner-up Lebanese Kitchen (2nd)

Saskatoon’s newest coffee gem, Venn Coffee Roasters, is tucked away in the alley between Amigos Cantina and The Bike Doctor, and according to our voters it’s well worth the scavenger hunt to find. It serves up ethically sourced, carefully roasted coffee in the heart of the flatlands — by the bag or by the cup. “Venn”, by the way, is Norwegian for “Friend”. I personally guarantee that after just one taste of the freshly roasted El Salvador Los Naranjos coffee that tastes like milk chocolate and almonds, the barista at Venn will be your new best friend. So welcome to the neighbourhood Venn. /Maria Vaiaso

DOWNTOWN

Best Kept Secret

Citizen Cafe and Bakery
18 23rd St. E. 306-343-1043 citizencafeandbakery.ca

Runners-up Divas Nightclub (2nd), Franky’s Banh Mi (3rd), Green Tree Beauty (4th), Back Then & Again Jewellery Boutique (5th)

We all have that one friend with a dietary restriction — whether it be a gluten allergy, vegan lifestyle or they’re just plain picky. You enjoy their company, but haven’t seen them in ages because you’re just not willing to give up “real food” to have lunch with them. Luckily for you, Planet S voters are here to let you in on the downtown’s Best Kept Secret: Citizen Café and Bakery. With a menu featuring delicious dairy-free, egg-free and gluten-free fare, along with vegetarian and vegan options, you can keep your friend happy, while still satisfying your need for meat and scrumptious glutinous bread. No time for lunch? They have a “grab and go” menu that would tempt even the finickiest diner. /Maria Vaiaso

Best Locally Owned Business

Congress Beer House
215 2nd Ave. S. 306-974-6717 congressbeerhouse.com

Runners-up The Karma – Conscious Café and Eatery (2nd), Tantrix Body Art (3rd), Alchemy Clothing Salon Tattoo & Piercing (4th), Cliptomania (5th)

In Best of Food and Drink, Congress Beer House took home the coveted Best Burger title. I enjoy a burger as much as the next person, but I’m not really what you would call a big eater, so when I was perusing the Congress’s Facebook page doing research for my blurb, I must admit I did find the burgers on display, such as the Mac Daddy and Big ’n’ Little, a little daunting. But they did look delicious. I didn’t talk about beer in the burger blurb, but the Congress has that aced too, with a wide selection of craft beers and international imports. So congrats to them. /GB

Best NEW Locally Owned Business

Crazy Cactus
269 3rd Ave. S. 306-975-1266 crazycactusyxe.com

Runners-up Sticks and Stones (2nd), Three Treasures Tonics (3rd), Art Sharks Tattoo Co. (4th), Green Tree Beauty (5th)

While Crazy Cactus isn’t “new” to Saskatoon, it is new to the downtown, having recently moved there from its old location. The new digs are larger, permitting more party-hearty action — action that includes a second floor dance floor and, in the non-winter months, an opportunity for patrons to enjoy their Tex-Mex themed food and drinks on an expansive roof-top patio overlooking the bustling corner of 3rd Ave. and 20th St. Judging by the vote here, Crazy Cactus has been a welcome addition to the downtown. /GB

EAST SIDE

Best Locally Owned Business

La Bamba Café
1025 Boychuk Dr. 306-242-2622 labambacafe.ca

Runners-up Amazing Stories (2nd), SaskMade Marketplace (3rd), Dragon’s Den Games (4th), The Lemon Tree Salon and Studio (5th)

“In order to vote La Bamba // In order to vote La Bamba one needs a little bit of grace // A little bit of grace and something else // A love of Mexican food!” Okay, that’s not an accurate translation of the Spanish lyrics to Rich Valen’s 1958 hit which was based on a Mexican folk song. But it’s an accurate description of what lies at the heart of La Bamba Café’s appeal for Planet S voters. They’re a dual winner in Best of Saskatoon 2017, so if you keep reading you’ll learn more about their charms in the next blurb. /GB

Best Kept Secret

La Bamba Café
1025 Boychuk Dr. 306-242-2622 labambacafe.ca

Runners-up Prairie Ink Restaurant (2nd), SaskMade Marketplace (3rd), Swadesh Supermarket 8th Street E. (4th), Prairie Bliss (5th)

In Best of Food and Drink last May, La Bamba Café took home the title for Best Restaurant Nobody Knows About. In her blurb, Carolyn Rebeyka said the café serves some of Saskatoon’s most authentic Mexican food. Mexican food being as popular as it is, how could La Bamba be a secret then? Well, as Carolyn described it, the café is “tucked away” in a strip mall. So it’s not conspicuous. But what it lacks in “location”, it more than makes up for in the quality of its food which, according to Carolyn, includes complimentary chips and salsa, extra rice and beans, and huge portions. She also lauded their margaritas, and Mexican beer selection. /GB

Best NEW Locally Owned Business

Prairie Bliss
3130 8th St. E. 306-652-0858 prairieblisslaser.com

Runners-up The Honeypot Glass Gallery (2nd), Anytime Fitness — Stonebridge (3rd), Silverline Electric Inc. (4th), Point Fitness Club (5th)

I’ve got a weird connection to “Bliss” that’s unrelated to the standard definition: “perfect happiness, great joy”. See, my middle name is Carman, which was my late father’s first name. When I was studying English in school, I learned about a famous Canadian poet named Bliss Carman (1861-1929). So, for me, “Bliss” has a weird secondary meaning. In this instance, though, Prairie Bliss is a laser clinic that offers beauty and health related services such as hair removal, body contouring, spider vein removal, acne and scarring procedures and skin rejuvenation. Getting issues in those areas resolved, I imagine, can give clients a sense of “perfect happiness, great joy”. So congrats to Prairie Bliss on its win here. /GB

NORTH END / WEST SIDE

Best Kept Secret

LB Distillers
814 47th St. E. 306-979-7280 luckybastard.ca

Runners-up BreakOut Escape Rooms (2nd), Pokeys Pinball Café (3rd), Better Off Duds (4th), MainStage Urban Clothing (5th)

One thing I find neat about LB Distillers is that they often host non-distillery events. Saskatoon’s Chamber of Commerce, for instance, holds “Chamber on Tap” socials there regularly. Another event I listed recently involved an information session on breast reconstruction hosted by Canadian Cancer Society. I’ve listed salsa nights, fashion shows and live music too. The one common element, though, is the distillery, and the spirits and liqueurs it serves. Current offerings include: Gambit Haskap Gin, Lucky Bastard Birmingham’s Dill Pickle Vodka, Knock on Wood Rum and Seabuckthorn & Wildflower Honey Liqueur. So congrats to LB Distillers. /GB

Best Locally Owned Business

Pokey’s Pinball Café
211B 33rd St. W. 306-343-2196

Runners-up Better Off Duds (2nd), White Lotus Restaurant (3rd), Change Lingerie (4th), MainStage Urban Clothing (5th)

Pokey’s Pinball Café was another winner in Best of Food and Drink. In my blurb, I noted that rumours had been circulating in Saskatoon that Pokey from the classic Art Clokey claymation series The Gumby Show had bankrolled the café. That was just a joke, obviously. So no Pokey at Pokey’s Pinball Café.  What you will find is a whole pile of pinball games with various themes such as The Walking Dead, KISS, Game of Thrones, Tron and more. There’s also a solid food and drink menu to help fuel the pinball playing. /GB

Best NEW Locally Owned Business

Pokey’s Pinball Café
211B 33rd St. W. 306-343-2196

Runners-up King’s Castle Designs and Events (2nd), The Vault Saskatoon Restaurant (3rd), Heavy Jam Vapor Supply (4th)

Having gone to the “Pokey from The Gumby Show” joke well twice now, I give you my solemn word I won’t do it for this blurb. I’m no expert at comedy, but going back a third time would surely strike most readers as hokey. And one thing I’ve always vowed to never be as a writer is hokey. That goes double when I’m writing about a fine establishment such as this where the bells are always chiming and lights flashing as people play pinball. Truly, for me, there could be no greater sin than to write a hokey Pokey’s blurb. I’m sure you’ll agree. /GB

RIVERDALE

Best Kept Secret

Saskatoon Farmers’ Market
414 Ave. B S. 306-384-6262 saskatoonfarmersmarket.com

Runners-up Fable Ice Cream and The Underground Café (tie 2nd), Glitch Gifts and Novelties (4th), Soul Paper (5th)

If I was the adjudicator in this category, I’m not sure I would’ve allowed the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market nomination to stand. It’s not that I don’t think it’s worthy — far from it. I think farmers’ markets are a wonderful way to build community and foster a sustainable local economy by encouraging value-added production. So yeah, the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market rocks. I’m just not sure it qualifies as “Secret”— at least, in the same class as the other finalists. Mind you, I list the market in City Events every issue, so maybe that’s just made me extra aware of it compared to the average Saskatonian. Maybe. /GB

Best Locally Owned Business

Odd Couple Restaurant
228 20th St. W. 306-668-8889 oddcouple.ca

Runners-up Little Bird Patisserie and Café (2nd), Bartari (3rd), Glitch Gifts and Novelties (4th), Soul Paper (5th)

Like a lot of winners in this section, Odd Couple restaurant took home some titles in Best of Food and Drink — four, in fact. Best Calimari, Best Chinese Restaurant, Best Pho and Best Riversdale Restaurant. Offering a mix of Cantonese, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisine, Odd Couple restaurant is run by owners Andy and Rachel Yuen with an assist from parents Sam and Jane — all of whom are from Hong Kong originally. So congrats to them on their win here. /GB

Best NEW Locally Owned Business

9 Mile Legacy Brewing
229 20th St. W. 306-373-2337 9milelegacy.com

Runners-up Fable Ice Cream (2nd), Hometown Diner (3rd), güd eats (4th)

Yet another winner from Best of Food and Drink. The title grabbed was Best Microbrewery. According to 9 Mile Legacy Brewing’s website, it’s about half the size of an average microbrew — but it’s growing. Minors are permitted, the website says, provided they’re with a parent or guardian. At the taproom, you can have a glass of beer, or a taster flight if you want to go the multi-flavour route. Oh yeah, you can also get your growler filled. 9 Mile relies on local ingredients in crafting its brews, and promises to always keep things interesting. So yeah, a welcome addition to Riversdale. /GB

Services

Best Auto Body Repair

Kavia Auto Body
90 33rd St. E. 306-242-2733 kavia.ca

Runners-up Lazer Autobody (2nd), Parr Auto Body (3rd), Mark’s Auto Body Ltd (4th), Auto Clearing Collision (5th)

Accidents can happen at any time of the year. But when winter hits, roads get icy, ruts form, and visibility can often be bad. And as much as you try to drive with due care and attention, as the saying goes, accidents will happen. For Planet S voters, the place they rely on to get their vehicle’s boo-boos fixed is Kavia Auto Body. Kavia handles a full range of collision repairs covering the vehicle frame, body and safety features such as air bags. They’ll get you back on the road again in no time, trying not to have another accident. Curse you winter driving conditions!  /Shane Hnetka

Best Auto Repair

Avalon Auto Service
2601 Broadway Ave. 306-343-9551 avalonauto.ca

Runners-up Glenwood Auto Service (2nd), Lai’s Auto Service (3rd), Diversified Auto (4th), Audrey’s Auto Repair (5th)

A few years ago, when I had car problems and wasn’t sure what to do, I was surprised by how many people recommended Avalon Auto Service. I was able to book an appointment quickly, the assessment didn’t take long, the problems were explained clearly, the work was done in a matter of hours, and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. To top it off, the guys at Avalon told me what was a “must repair” versus what I could hold off on until I had more time and funds in place for additional repairs. It looks like a lot of Planet S voters have had a similar experience, as Avalon Auto Service is a long-time favourite in this category. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Bank Branch

RBC Royal Bank
123 Lenore Dr. 306-933-3770 rbcroyalbank.com

Runners-up TD Canada Trust, 8th Street E. (2nd), Scotiabank, Stonebridge Branch (3rd), BMO Bank of Montreal, 8th at Preston and CIBC, Downtown Branch (tie 4th)

My dad was a banker. In the early 1970s, in fact, he was manager at one of the above finalists. Some Sundays he used to go in to do paperwork. To get me and my brother out of my mom’s hair for a few hours, he’d take us along. We had the run of the branch, with one proviso — don’t touch the silent alarm buttons at the teller counter. In the last few years of his life, I used to accompany him to a coffee group for bank retirees. They’d sit around reminiscing, and I enjoyed hearing their stories. Apparently, it was not uncommon back in the day for the manager to keep a gun in his desk to defend against robbers. Yes, times have changed in the banking industry. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the value clients place on professional service and financial expertise. So congrats to RBC Royal Bank and the other finalists here. /GB

Best Cabinets

Superior Cabinets
747 46th St. W. 306-667-6600 superiorcabinets.ca

Runners-up K T S Custom Cabinets (2nd), North 52 Cabinets (3rd), Floform Countertops and Topline Cabinetry (tie 4th)

Some people say the amazing showroom at Superior Cabinets is where dreams take shape. Others swear it’s the company’s website and Facebook page that provide the right dose of inspiration. And there’s plenty of praise for the talented design professionals who help you pull it all together, no matter if your project is a new build or renovation, or if you’re budget is modest or luxe. Whether you’re looking for a whole new kitchen or bathroom, cabinets for a closet, entertainment space or storage area, or just a small addition to an existing structure, Superior Cabinets can make your dreams a reality. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Credit Union Branch

Affinity Credit Union
130 1st Ave. N. 306-934-4000 affinitycu.ca

Runners-up Conexus Credit Union, 8th Street E. (2nd), Affinity Credit Union, Canarama Location and TCU Financial Group, Stonebridge Branch (tie 3rd), Conexus Credit Union, Circle Drive (5th)

If you’re like me, you probably don’t find banking fun. But it is important and essential to everyday life, so it has to be done. While credit unions are similar to banks, they’re tied much closer to the community. In fact, they’re owned cooperatively by people in the community. That doesn’t mean they’re a soft touch, as they still abide by strict financial regulations that ensure members’ funds aren’t put at risk. Now, there are a lot of Affinity Credit Unions in Saskatoon, and they are all really good. But voters chose the Affinity location at 130 1st Ave. N as Best Credit Union Branch. Again, for me anyway, banking sucks. But these guys make it almost painless. /Shane Hnetka

Dry Cleaners

Executive Cleaners
Five Locations executivedon.wixsite.com/executivedrycleaners

Runners-up Arthur Rose Cleaners (2nd), The Clean Shoppe (3rd), Family Cleaners (4th), Churchill Garment Care (5th)

Best Dry Cleaner is a new category. And it’s fallen to me to write the inaugural blurb. I’ve taken stuff to be dry cleaned before, and have a general grasp of the concept. But when I dug into it a bit, I discovered it’s a pretty complex process. It’s used for clothing and other textiles that either deteriorate in water or else are too delicate to machine wash. Instead of soap and water, dry cleaners use solvents that remove stains and other grime. The solvents are a little gnarly environmentally, but modern dry cleaners have fine-tuned their practices to limit the environmental impact. Plus, when you dry clean something you prolong its life, which is a plus for the environment. For our voters, Executive Cleaners are the city’s top dry cleaners. /GB

Best Electrical

W. Hunter Electric
2218 Speers Ave. 306-249-4537 whunterelectric.ca

Runners-up Silverline Electric (2nd), Concept Electric (3rd), Assertive Electrical Services and Ross Electric (tie 4th)

Having done a ton of home renovations I can safely say you do not want to do the electrical yourself. Electricity is our friend, it brings light into our lives at night, powers the devices that keep us informed and entertained, and even makes popcorn for us. But it’s also dangerous. When our voters are looking to get their electrical needs taken care of, whether it’s installing new lights, changing out their electrical panel, or wiring up that new garage, W. Hunter Electric is their best bet. They are so awesome at electrical that’s it’s almost shocking. Sorry. /Shane Hnetka

Best Flooring

Beehive Flooring Group
317 Ave. C S. 306-244-4774 beehiveflooring.com

Runners-up Western Carpet One Floor and Home (2nd), Braid Flooring and Window Fashions (3rd), AC Flooring and Installations (4th), Flooring Superstores Saskatoon (5th)

Elsewhere in this issue, I have an article on a Royal Saskatchewan Museum touring exhibit that opened recently at the Western Development Museum. The show tells the story of how insects and flowering plants co-evolved over tens of millions of years through the mutually beneficial act of pollination. I don’t know why that popped into my head just now, but for some reason it did. I’m not here to talk about pollination, though, I’m here to congratulate your pick as Saskatoon’s Best Flooring company. They just happen to “bee” the defending champs in this category too. So good on them. /GB

Best Home Builders

North Ridge Development Corporation
3037 Faithfull Ave. 306-242-2434 northridge.sk.ca

Runners-up Decora Homes (2nd), Fraser Homes Ltd. (3rd), Selkirk Developments (4th), Oak Developments (5th)

No stranger to the win column here, North Ridge Development Corporation scores again as this year’s Best Home Builders. Whether it’s a basic family bungalow, a sleek modern town home or a sprawling 5000 square foot mansion with an attached four car garage and indoor swimming pool, North Ridge will make your dreams come true when it comes time to build a new home. With almost 35 years of experience in land development and construction, North Ridge has made a name for itself with a range of products to suit every lifestyle and budget. The company, through its owners and staff, are also active in the community, supporting events and charitable causes across the city and province. It’s no wonder North Ridge has fans throughout the city and beyond!  /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best HVAC Company

Those Guys Mechanical
2611 Albert Ave. 306-974-1795

Runners-up furnaceguys Home Heating and Cooling (2nd), Razor Heating and A/C (3rd), Gibbon Heating and Air Conditioning (4th), Joe Plumber (5th)

The condo building I live in recently had its furnace ducts and dryer/ bathroom vents cleaned so I’m pretty much an expert on HVACing. What makes a great HVAC company, you ask? Well, first off you need two guys who arrive at the back door in a truck with a big-ass vacuum system. Then they run hoses and a canister contraption that looks like a Dalek from Dr. Who up to the top floor. They get into the vents and ducts somehow, and suck up all the dust and fluff that’s accumulated, then they move down a floor and repeat the process. Working top down, I imagine, allows them to grab any loose gunk that’s fallen from floors above. Then once they’re done they pack up their equipment and drive away. And for Planet S voters, These Guys Mechanical is Saskatoon’s Best HVAC Company. /GB

Best Insurance Agents

Galon Insurance & Mortgage Brokers
909 3rd Ave. N. 306-244-7000 #2 820B 51st St. E. 306-244-3000 galoninsurance.com

Runners-up Cherry Insurance (2nd), Hoffmann Kool Insurance (3rd), Al Hattie Insurance and The Co-operators, O’Reilly Insurance Ltd (tie 4th)

The insurance industry took a hit when the Saskatchewan government extended the PST to life, home, auto and other insurance. It was a big hit for people too, as insurance is pretty much indispensible in the modern world. In many instances, it’s even legally mandated. Yes, it’s an inherently socialist undertaking where people pool their resources to provide a contingency fund that a global population can draw on should a setback such as an auto accident, home catastrophe or natural disaster occur. Still, no matter how you cut it, insurance is serious business. And for Planet S voters, Galon Insurance & Mortgage Brokers is the go-to choice to safeguard their families, homes and other property from harm. /GB

Best Landscaping

CJ’s Landscapes and Services
306-649-0004 cjslandscapes.ca

Runners-up Arbour Crest Tree Services (2nd), D M S Landscaping (3rd), Yard Essentials (4th), Flash Flood Irrigation (5th)

I work at a desk. And when it comes to my home life, I live in a downtown condo surrounded by concrete. So I’m not well-versed in the lawn and garden arts. Still, the idea of working as a landscaper intrigues me. My stock in trade wouldn’t be lavish suburban “dream home” statements. Instead, I’d be interested in sustainable environmental practices such as xeriscaping and locavore food production. Judging by a visit I made to CJ’s website, they’re maybe in the middle in terms of the services they provide to their residential and commercial clients, able to build decks and install underground sprinkler systems, while also creating beautiful rock and boulder gardens. And for Planet S voters, they’re Saskatoon’s Best Landscaping company. /GB

Best Lawyer

Tara Chornoby
CJC & Co. LLP #300 3333 8th St. E. 306-384-4181 cjclaw.ca

Runners-up Lisa Watson (2nd), Jessie Buydens (3rd), April Cook (4th), Jason Peszko (5th)

It looks like Tara Chornoby, co-owner and partner at CJC & Co, LLP, has a lock on this category, as Planet S voters chose her once again as Best Lawyer. Tara obtained her law degree from the U of S and has practiced law for almost 20 years, specializing in residential real estate, wills, powers of attorney, health care directives, estates and guardianship/co-decision making applications. She’s active in various industry associations and organizations as well as in the community, volunteering with PLEA, Ronald McDonald House, Interval House and Congregation Agudas Israel. She also manages to squeeze in time for her furry family pet and her favourite football team. Go Green, Go Tara! /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Mortgage Broker

Tyler Hildebrand
oneSt. Mortgage #501 230 22nd St. E. 306-683-9539 onest.ca

Runners-up Sarah Schiess and Tammy Wandzura (tie 2nd), Chris Kolinski (4th), Denise Chan (5th)

Who doesn’t want to save a few bucks, especially when it comes to a huge financial commitment like the mortgage attached to your home? That’s what a mortgage broker is there for — to get you the best deal possible. Remember, too, that some new mortgage rules came into effect recently.  To help you navigate all those complexities, our voters recommend calling Tyler Hildebrand. In addition to being a stand-out mortgage broker, Tyler is a proud dad, a blood donor, actively supports a number of great causes in the city, and is a fan of the late, great Gord Downie and The Hip. Apparently, he’s also been known to cheer for the Oilers! What a guy! /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Moving Company

Ray’s Moving and Storage
611 47th St. E. 306-933-1122 raysmoving.ca

Runners-up Need it Moved? Moving and Delivery (2nd), Saskatoon Movers (3rd), Cricket and Crocket Moving (4th), Dave Scott The Mover (5th)

Grab a few boxes from the dumpster behind your local liquor store, toss your belongings inside, secure them with duct tape and use the promise of beer and pizza to lure your truck-owning buddies over to help you move to your new abode. What could go wrong? Well, if you’re a student with nothing more than a few boxes, that might be fine. But if you have a full household, you’re better off going with a professional. Our winner in this category, Ray’s Moving and Storage, know what they’re doing, whether it’s moving your heaviest appliances, most delicate wine glasses or the giant sofa that seems like it’ll never fit through the door. Ray’s can also help you with storage (warehouse, trailer or container) and international relocations. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Oil Change

Great Canadian Oil Change
Six Locations oilchangesaskatoon.ca

Runners-up Avalon Auto Service (2nd), Lubrication Station on 8th (3rd), Ens Auto (4th), Crestview Auto Service (5th)

After watching Cars 100 or so times with my four-year old son, and seeing the disappointment on Lighting McQueen’s face when he misses out on his big victory because he didn’t understand the importance of team work, we’ve both learned one thing: taking time out for a pit-stop to get your oil changed is a valuable use of your time and is sure to extend your car’s life. A pit-stop at the Great Canadian Oil Change is fast and painless. When you leave, you too will be thinking “Speed. I am speed. Faster than fast, quicker than quick. I am Lightning!” Don’t really speed, though, because that’s dangerous. And you might end up getting a ticket — which is a bummer. /Maria Vaiaso

Best Plumbing

Those Guys Mechanical
2611 Albert Ave. 306-974-1795

Runners-up Perfection Plumbing and Drain Cleaning (2nd), Rooter-Man (3rd), Razor Heating and A/C (4th), Mesa Mechanical (5th)

I’m probably not the only home owner who has a plumbing horror story to tell. Mine involved trying to solder a water line. I did some research on-line, even watched a demonstration video or two on YouTube, but the job proved to be tougher than I initially imagined, and I ended up standing ankle deep in water. A spark from the soldering gun may even have caused a small fire in a wooden support beam — although my masculine pride prevents me from confirming that. Yes, when it comes to plumbing, your best bet is to leave it to the professionals. And for Planet S voters, Those Guys Mechanical are #1 in Saskatoon. /Shane Hnetka

Best Printing Services

Mister Print
619 8th St. E. 306-934-7575 printwest.com

Runners-up Pro Print (2nd), Saskatoon Fastprint (3rd), Globe Printers (4th), The Print Baron (5th)

What do people want when they’re looking for printing services? Creativity, a range of products, state-of-the-art technology, speed, quality, customer service, reasonable prices — the list goes on. Our voters say you’re in good hands if you put your trust in Mister Print. Whether you’re looking to print a giant banner or set of posters, a cookbook for your family reunion, wedding invitations, calendars, business cards, leaflets for your political campaign, magnets, stickers or decals, mounted prints, or reports, Mister Print is there for you. They also provide typesetting, high resolution scanning, digital retouching, graphic design and more. Regardless of the job, you can rely on Mister Print. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Professional Photographer

Joi Photography
158 2nd Ave. N. 306-222-1526 joiphoto.com

Runners-up Lovestruck Portraits (2nd), be Photography (3rd), Mela Photography (4th), Mudita Media (5th)

To get up to speed on our voters’ choice for Best Professional Photographer, I visited Joi Photography’s website. There, I learned a bit about Crystal, who has owned and operated Joi Photography for over 10 years now. Through the range of services she provides, which include wedding, graduation, boudoir and “branding” images for women professionals/entrepreneurs, Crystal says, she strives to help girls and women build their self-confidence and grow as individuals by encouraging them to feel good about themselves. Judging by the glowing testimonials the website also contains, it’s something Crystal’s adept at doing. So congrats to Joi Photography for the win here. /GB

Best Real Estate Agent

Michelle Butler
Royal LePage #203 224 Pacific Ave. 306-491-7725
royallepage.ca

Runners-up Clark Dziadyk (2nd), Heather Kehoe and Lacy Watson (tie 3rd), Kindra Sowden (5th)

Buying or selling a house is likely the biggest financial transaction a person will ever make, so it’s vital to have someone you can trust to guide you through the process. For our voters, Michelle Butler is that person. An eight year industry vet, Michelle prides herself on serving clients with integrity and honesty. She’s been described as passionate, dedicated, knowledgeable and patient — which is especially helpful for first-time or picky homebuyers. Even Michelle’s real estate peers think she’s top-notch, as they presented her with an industry award in 2016 that recognized her business ethics and character. That’s mighty high praise — from her industry, and now, from Planet S voters. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Real Estate Company

Realty Executives Saskatoon
3032 Louise St. 306-280-0989 rexsaskatoon.com

Runners-up Re/Max Saskatoon East (2nd), Coldwell Banker Signature (3rd), The TurnKey Group (4th), Century 21 Dome Realty (5th)

Everyone knows a bad apple can spoil the applesauce, but it looks like Realty Executives Saskatoon has a winning recipe and quality staff all around, making them this year’s Best Real Estate Company. They pride themselves on hiring the best and providing ongoing support, guidance and training to all staff to ensure clients receive the best quality service from the first phone call or office visit right up until the keys to the property change hands — and beyond. Buying or selling a property can be stressful, so it’s nice to have professionals to help you turn the ordeal into an enjoyable experience. According to Planet S voters, you can’t go wrong with Realty Executives Saskatoon. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Travel Agents

Ixtapa Travel
#114 3501 8th St. E. 306-664-3233 ixtapatravel.ca

Runners-up Uniglobe Carefree Travel (2nd), Flight Centre (3rd), Carlson Wagonlit Travel (4th), Expedia CruiseShipCenters (5th)

Sure, you can research and book your own holiday, especially with the bounty of resources available online. But sometimes vacations and travel can be complicated. Do you really want to rely on DIY-planning, or would you rather get assistance from a travel expert? Professional travel advisors can save you time, worry and money by offering you the benefit of their knowledge, expertise and connections — which is especially helpful should something unexpected happen. Ixtapa Travel has been in business for over 30 years, and has agencies in Saskatoon and Winnipeg. The Saskatoon head office is staffed by a dedicated and fun group of people who are committed to providing excellent customer service. Ixtapa promises to provide “Advice Worth Getting”, and our voters agree it’s doing just that. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Boutique Fashion Store

Tonic
122 2nd Ave. N. 306-975-1529 tonic-life.com

Runners-up Alchemy (2nd), Two Fifty Two Boutique (3rd), Tryst Boutique (4th), Era Style Loft (5th)

In last year’s blurb on Tonic’s win for Best Boutique Fashion Store I made some lame allusion to snake oil salesman and the idea of Tonic, as a store, being good for what ails anyone suffering from a fashion deficiency. That was a mistake, I won’t do that again, I promise. I will talk, though, about Tonic’s commitment to offering the best of contemporary and vintage fashion. That truly is the best of both worlds, enabling clients to mix and match different items to create their own distinct style. That includes handbags, necklaces, earrings and other accessories, by the way, along with some chic outwear. So yeah, when it comes to fashion, Tonic really is good for what ails ya — damn, I promised I wasn’t going to do that. /GB

Shopping

Best Car Dealership

Ens Auto Group
627 Brand Court 306-653-5611 ensauto.ca

Runners-up Meidl Honda (2nd), Sherwood Chevrolet (3rd), Saskatoon Motor Products (4th), Saskatoon North Hyundai (5th)

When we assign blurbs in this feature we sometimes luck out and have a writer who has first-hand experience with the winner. That allows them to provide an anecdote or two about how they came to chose the company in question, and what their consumer experience was like. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those times. As I’ve confessed in past Best of Saskatoons, my car is a rust bucket. And whenever I drive past Ens Auto Group’s awesome lot of cars, trucks, SUVs and more I do feel a twinge or three of envy. I know, all I have to do is turn into the lot, and with the help of friendly staff at the dealership, I’d be fixed up in no time. Maybe one day I’ll do that. Meanwhile, can I borrow your car for an hour? I’ve got an errand to run, and mine is out of commission. /Shane Hnetka

Best Eyewear

FYidoctors
407 1st Ave. N. 306-652-4374 fyidoctors.com

Runners-up Point Optical Scotia Centre (2nd), Optika Eclectic Eyewear (3rd), Saskatoon Optical Services (4th), Vision Makers Optical (5th)

No disrespect intended to touch, taste, smell and hearing, but vision is probably the most important of our five senses. So it’s vital we take steps to maintain our eye health. One of those steps, whether we’re in need of prescription glasses or UV-certified sunglasses, is to visit a quality eyewear shop. And for Planet S voters, FYidoctors is their go to choice. /GB

Best Florist

Bill’s House of Flowers
712 Broadway Ave. 306-242-8809 billshouseofflowers.com

Runners-up Little Shop of Flowers (2nd), Michelle’s Flowers (3rd), Blossoms Living (4th), Serendipity Flowers and Stuff (5th)

Many people know the story of baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, who arranged to have red roses placed weekly on his former wife Marilyn Monroe’s grave for 20 years after she died. No, the roses didn’t come from Bill’s House of Flowers. And, no, as romantic as it sounds, I’m not suggesting I’d like to have someone place flowers on my grave for two decades after I succumb to the Grim Reaper. But an occasional floral bouquet would brighten anyone’s day, don’t you think? Especially someone who is fond of purple and adores calla lilies and gerbera daisies (hint, hint).  In business since 1962, Bill’s is family-owned and operated and stocks a wide array of  beautiful and creative floral designs, a rotating selection of plants, and charming giftware. Bill’s team includes talented floral designers and plant professionals who are committed to providing an exceptional flower experience to their customers. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Head Shop

B.O.B. Headquarters
201 733 Broadway Ave. 306-477-4262 bobhq.com

Runners-up The Joint (2nd), The Honeypot Glass Gallery (3rd), Jupiter (4th), Skunk Funk Smoker’s Emporium (5th)

In its Oct. 25 throne speech, the Saskatchewan government indicated it would establish guidelines for the recreational sale of cannabis. “Introduce legislation to facilitate the federal government’s legalization of the use of non-medical marijuana, even though the province continues to have concerns about the federal government’s rushed timetable” is how they actually put it. That’s been the government’s position since the federal Liberals announced the initiative following their October 2015 election win. But I figure if Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Washington, California, Massachusetts, Alaska and Oregon can do it, Saskatchewan can too. A long-time standard-bearer in this area, B.O.B. Headquarters is our voter’s choice for Saskatoon’s top head shop /GB

Best Local Furniture Store

Village Green Furniture and Appliances
308 20th St. W. 306-665-0102 thrift.mcc.org

Runners-up Furniture World (2nd), Green Ark Collected Home (3rd), First Avenue Furnishings (4th), Metric Design Centre (5th)

Village Green Furniture and Appliances is a member of the not-for-profit thrift shops that support the Mennonite Central Committee’s local and global relief, development and peace projects. The store sells secondhand furniture and related housewares, including some unique vintage finds and antiques. Store volunteers also repair, refinish and creatively repurpose items for sale. From reviews, it’s clear Village Green hits all the right notes — staff who make customer service a priority, reasonable prices, a remarkable variety of items in stock, delivery available for a small charge, and a chance to support an organization doing good work in the community and across the globe. It’s no wonder Village Green is a winner! /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Local Home Decor And Furnishings

Fandango Lighthouse
401 2nd Ave. N. 306-242-3266 fandangolighthouse.com

Runners-up Metric Design Centre (2nd), Green Ark Collected Home (3rd), Furniture World (4th), First Avenue Furnishings (5th)

I don’t have any analytics to back me up, it’s mostly a gut feeling, but I wonder if for voters of a certain age Z.Z. Top didn’t play a factor here: Fandango being the title of the bearded trio’s 1975 half live/half studio album that featured such hits as “Jailhouse Rock”, “Heard it on the X” and “Tush”. They see Fandango Lighthouse, it maybe conjures up thoughts of a kickass album and all the fun they had listening to it when they were young? And that, in turn, would sway their vote. Or maybe they just voted for Fandango Lighthouse because, for them, it has the best Home Décor and Furnishing game in town. Regardless, congrats to them. /GB

Best Men’s Business Wear

Caswells
144 2nd Ave. S. 306-242-8804 caswellsformen.com

Runners-up Anthonys Fashion (2nd), Elwood Flynn For Men (3rd), Ultimo Euromoda (4th), David’s Distinctive Mens Apparel (5th)

If you keep reading, you’ll find a blurb on Women’s Business Wear where the point is made that, compared to women, men have it relatively easy. It’s not like they have a uniform per se. But there is a standard look: suit, tie, dress shirt, dress shoes, etc. That doesn’t mean men get a free pass. It is important, after all, that their business attire fit properly so that they come across as confident and competent. In recent years, too, some restrictions have loosened, allowing men to incorporate a bit more colour and style into their look. Regardless of what approach you take to men’s business wear, our voters say you can’t go wrong with Caswells. /GB

Best Men’s Casual Clothes

Winners
2317 8th St. E. 306-664-1077 300 Confederation Dr. 306-382-6387 winners.ca

Runners-up Banjo Outpost (2nd), Clothes Café (3rd), Anthonys Fashion (4th), Ultimo Euromoda (5th)

I’m all about casual in the way I dress. In fact, I don’t even own a suit. And in all honesty, I don’t even know how to tie a tie. It’s not like I’ve never worn a suit before, I have. But those days are loooong behind me. And while I’ve never shopped at Winners, I do know the store offers an ever-changing selection of popular clothing brands at discounted prices. You go there one time, you might come away disappointed. The next time, though, you might make a major score. The thrill is in the hunt, isn’t it? And for our voters Winners is #1 for Men’s Casual Clothes. /GB

Best Men’s Shoes

Traxx Footwear
#23 2105 8th St. E. 306-956-2272 traxxfootwear.ca

Runners-up Broadway Shoe Repair (2nd), Brainsport (3rd), Shoe Warehouse (4th), Foster’s Shoes (5th)

I’ve actually taken to posting photos of my shoes on-line, so decrepit have they become after five summers of wear. Part of my hesitancy in buying a new pair to replace them is that, for me, they are shoe nirvana. If I could clone them, I would, and when I’ve gone looking I haven’t found anything I like. Sadly, as the proverb says, “all good things must come to an end.” And I need something new to slap on my feet. A visit to Traxx Footwear’s website leaves me hopeful I might just have found a solution to my woes. Traxx is family owned and operated, and specializes in fashion and casual footwear for men (and women). As Traxx notes on its website, shoes aren’t simple fashion accessories, they’re a foundation item of our wardrobe. That’s a philosophy I endorse. So see you soon, Traxx! /GB

Best Pet Supply Store

Early’s Farm and Garden Centre
2615 Lorne Ave.  306-931-1982 502 51st St. E. 306-931-1995 earlysgarden.com

Runners-up PetSmart (2nd), Critters Pet Health Store (3rd), Bone and Biscuit (4th), Pet Planet (5th)

It seems that Planet S voters are a pet-friendly bunch who know a thing or two about caring for animals, and they’ve chosen Early’s Farm and Garden Centre as Best Pet Supply Store once again. The staff is knowledgeable about pet care, and will refer you to the right source if you require additional information. There are two retail locations for your convenience, or you can browse and place your order via Early’s online catalogue. Nutritious food, delicious treats, grooming supplies, toys, beds, shelters and wardrobe items are only a few of the supplies they have for your dog, cat, caged bird and other companion animals. If they had them, I bet your pet would give a thumbs up to Early’s Farm and Garden Centre too! /Carolyn

Best Store For Secondhand Clothes

Plato’s Closet
#415 115th St. E. 306-974-3900 platosclosetsaskatoon.com

Runners-up Better Off Duds (2nd), Value Village (3rd), Underground Trends (4th), Hazlewood (5th)

Ancient Greek philosophy is not my strong suit. But when I see the winner here, I naturally think of Plato’s Cave — a thought experiment proposed by Plato where people are chained in a cave facing a wall. Behind them is a fire, and restricted as they are in their movement, their reality is reduced to shadows they see on the wall. There’s more to it than that, but Plato’s Cave is an allegory for the idea that “reality” is hugely dependent on our vantage point. Second-hand clothing fits that mould, I think. Generally, you’re drawing on a range of clothing styles that span multiple decades. And that gives you greater freedom to mix and match and create a more vibrant reality than when you stick to what’s hot in the brand-name stores. /GB

Best Store For Secondhand Finds (Not Clothes)

Village Green Furniture and Appliances
308 20th St. W. 306-665-0102 thrift.mcc.org

Runners-up Value Village (2nd), The Indefinite Article (3rd), The Salvation Army, Thrift Store (4th), Cashopolis Saskatoon (5th)

Carolyn Rebeyka pretty much stole all my thunder when she wrote about Village Green Furniture and Appliances’ win in the Best Local Furniture Store category. As is obvious from Village Green’s name, furniture and appliances are two categories of secondhand goods that the store sells. But if you visit Village Green’s Facebook page, you’ll find that that isn’t the limit of the goods that are available. There’s also home furnishings and other decorative knickknacks (including Christmas trees!) to add extra flare to your home. So congrats to Village Green on their win here. /GB

Best Used Car Dealership

Ens Auto
627 Brand Court 306-653-5611 ensauto.ca

Runners-up Sherwood Chevrolet (2nd), Auto Clearing Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (3rd), Meidl Honda (4th), Village Auto Sales (5th)

Sometimes, buying a new car is just not an option. Sure, it’s nice to have a factory fresh ride. But when money’s tight, as it is for many people these days, you have buy used. That doesn’t mean you still can’t get a great deal, especially if you shop in the right place. For Planet S voters, that place is Ens Auto. Not only do they have a great selection of used cars, SUVs and trucks, they have a solid service department so you know you’re not getting a lemon.  If, unlike me, your current ride is in decent shape, you might even get some dollars knocked off on a trade-in. And presto, you’ve got a new (to you) vehicle to drive without a hefty price tag. /Shane Hnetka

Best Women’s Business Wear

The Sandbox in the City
#110 616 Main St. 306-955-6600 thesandboxinthecity.com

Runners-up Ricki’s (2nd), Tonic (3rd), Dynamite (4th), Laura (5th)

Back when we ran a column called Street Wear, I did one with interim NDP leader Nicole Sarauer. This was before she entered politics, when she was a staff lawyer at Pro Bono Saskatchewan. For a change of pace from casual and evening wear, I asked Nicole to talk about business wear. During the day, she said, she might meet with everyone from judges and lawyers to clients who, through Pro Bono Sask, were typically low income. So she needed to be flexible in how she dressed. Women had more choices open to them than men in the professional world, she noted, so that meant they had to put a bit more thought into how they dressed. When in doubt, she advised, “it’s always best to overdress and err on the side of caution.” When Planet S voters are looking to walk the business fashion tightrope, their store of choice is The Sandbox in the City. /GB

Best Women’s Casual Clothes

Winners
2317 8th St. E. 306-664-1077 300 Confederation Dr. 306-382-6387 winners.ca

Runners-up White Dhalia (2nd), Tonic (3rd), Better Off Duds (4th), Maurices (5th)

As I note in my Best Men’s Casual Clothes blurb above, I’m all about casual. Late spring through early fall, it’s t-shirts and shorts. Come the cooler weather, I switch to jeans, t-shirts and hoodies. So yeah, I am as casual as it gets. That’s not what we’re talking about here, though. Yes, principles of comfort, reasonable cost and style are still in play. But casual clothes, as a segment of the women’s fashion spectrum, covers a lot of ground. And at Winners, as our voters well know, you really can come out a winner when you go in search of chic casual wear. /GB

Best Women’s Shoes

Traxx Footwear
#23 2105 8th St. E. 306-956-2272 traxxfootwear.ca

Runners-up Swank Shoe Lounge (2nd), Call It Spring (3rd), Aldo (4th), Bricker’s Shoes (5th)

Cities needs shops where citizens can leisurely wander aisles ogling awesome inventories of boots, runners, pumps and heels. Traxx, in the Grosvenor Park Mall on 8th St. E, is such a place. This excellent store’s footwear covers the spectrum of human shoe needs and everyone with feet will like it. “But wait Steve,” someone in the back row asks. “I don’t live in Saskatoon. I just picked up my copy of Planet S at a street box today! I want to go to Traxx but I don’t have time this trip. What do I dooo?” Fear not, my friend — you can buy shoes online at traxxfootwear.ca. And you should, because Traxx just won Best Women’s Shoes in our big-deal reader poll! Also Best Men’s Shoes, but that’s another blurb.  /Stephen Whitworth

Best Yard & Garden Store

Dutch Home Garden Fashion
685 Reid Rd. 306-249-1222 dutchgrowers.ca

Runners-up Early’s Farm and Garden Centre (2nd), Wilson’s Lifestyle Centre (3rd), Garden Architecture and Design (4th), Boychuk Greenhouses (5th)

An argument could be made, I suppose, that are far as timing goes in Best of Saskatoon, this category isn’t well-served. Yards and gardens at this time of the year, after all, are dormant and people are at the low point of their annual yard/garden cycle. But sunshine and warmth will eventually return to the city. And part of the fun of gardening is the anticipation that comes from planning ahead to next summer, and strategizing on what you want to do with your available yard and garden space. Whether you’re a newbie or a gardening vet, Dutch Home Garden Fashion and the other finalists can help you realize your dream. /GB

Thank you for reading! And if you also voted, thank you even more!