It’s time again to celebrate the local businesses, community leaders, attractions, and events that light up our city. While Evansville Living readers flock to their keyboards to vote in the Best of Evansville awards, the editorial team selects a few additional winners who we feel deserve a spotlight. The result is 30 readers’ picks and seven editors’ picks highlighting the best Evansville has to offer in 2021. Enjoy, and thanks for voting!
Love & Light
Best Light Show ★ Editors’ Pick
Boats and barges passing through Evansville on the bend in the Ohio River often get a good glimpse of the sparkling lights that brighten Downtown, but this past year the best light show was seen on its inner streets.
Love & Light, a two-night interactive, colored LED lighting installation organized by the Downtown Evansville Economic Improvement District, shined on the wall of the Children’s Museum of Evansville in April, giving guests a colorful way to interact and have fun. The lighting experience created a combination of shadows as guests interacted with them.
“We had seen it done in other cities and we just kind of modified it to make it unique,” says Adam Trinkel, marketing and events director for Downtown Evansville. “That was just kind of intended to be a one-off experience. We’ve talked about bringing it back at some point in a more permanent fashion.”
Best Place for an Adventurous Cocktail
“Adventurous” barely begins to describe Mo’s House in Haynie’s Corner Arts District. Entering the craft cocktail lounge transports patrons to a new world where the rules of mixed drinks no longer apply. Whether you like to savor a perfected Old Fashioned or experiment with the flavors of the spicy Fruit Loop Caliente, you’re bound to explore outside of your comfort zone at the bar that owner Moriah Rose describes as customers’ “home away from home.”
1114 Parrett St. • 812-401-3800 • mos-house.com
Colonial Classics Landscape & Nursery
Best Place to Buy Plants
Evansville Living readers know who to trust with their plant needs: Colonial Classics Landscape & Nursery. An Evansville-area mainstay since 1958, this local garden center has expert advice for yard projects, a top-rated plant nursery, design services, and a large new addition opened this year to better serve customers and keep your landscape looking sharp.
3633 Epworth Road, Newburgh, IN • 812-853-6622 • colonialclassics.net
Best Pizza and Best Business that Gives Back
Would you put a pile of crunchy Grippos paired with a SKI soda reduction on your pizza? At Azzip Pizza, personal pizza creativity knows no bounds. Founded by Brad Niemeier in 2014, Azzip has made quality pizzas and community service its mission ever since.
“We’ve got such a loyal fan base and a group of people that have supported us all along the way,” says Niemeier. “We are so thankful and appreciative of that.”
Living up to the title of “Best Business that Gives Back,” Azzip’s Pot of Dough fundraiser lets nonprofits register for 100-plus keyring scanners that give five percent of every Azzip purchase back to the organization, plus the chance to win cash prizes. An extension of the We Give A’Zip campaign, the program has donated $250,000 in the last five years.
4 locations in the Tri-State • 812-909-4144 • azzippizza.com
Franklin Street Bazaar
Best Farmers Market
Each Saturday from May through August, the green lawn of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library’s West Branch turns into a bustling market of vendors, food trucks, and live music. Patrons of the Franklin Street Bazaar enjoy more than 100 pop-up booths offering a wide variety of wares. Whether you have your sights set on a jar of local honey, sprigs of dried lavender, or a custom wooden cutting board, the Franklin Street Bazaar has something for everyone.
2000 W. Franklin St. • fallinlovewithfranklin.org/franklin-st-bazaar
Best Jewelry Shop
“Best of Evansville” voters have awarded top honors to Brinker’s Jewelers for nine consecutive years. Heralded for its high-quality jewelry and unbeatable customer service, Brinker’s Jewelers has been the local name for jewelry since its founding in 1972 by Roland Brinker. Offering a fine jewelry selection, appraisals, custom design, and repair, as well as master jewelers, certified watchmakers, and gemologists, Brinker’s Jewelers will celebrate 50 years in 2022.
111. S. Green River Road • 812-476-0651 • brinkersjewelers.com
Place with the Best Beer Selection
Since 1999, Gerst Bavarian Haus has been Evansville’s go-to for authentic German food and — most importantly — beer. The Franklin Street staple has 49 beers and a rotating cider on tap, including its Gerst Amber Ale, as well as an extensive offering of imported and domestic cans and bottles. Complete the dining experience at Gerst Haus’ iconic bar — pair your fishbowl or pint with traditional appetizers, hearty entrees, and homemade apple strudel a la mode.
2100 W. Franklin St. • 812-424-1420 • gersthausevansville.com
Write-in Winner for Best Bookstore
Opened in August 2020, Bluestocking Social has had an eventful first year in business. Tucked in a basement-level space underneath Honey + Moon Coffee and Juniper Jade Boutique & Salon, Bluestocking Social takes its name from the 18th-century English literacy group the Blue Stockings Society. The independent bookstore carries local and new releases, hosts book signings, and partners with other small businesses for discussion clubs.
Guests especially love visiting with Matt and Annie Fitzpatrick’s dogs, Huxley and Eleanor, who often are seen peeking out from behind the checkout counter.
606B S. Weinbach Ave. • 812-402-2055 • bluestockingsocial.com
Mojo’s Boneyard Sports Bar & Grille
Best Kept Secret ★ Editors’ Pick
Though it may be hidden among Evansville’s many bars and restaurants, Mojo’s Boneyard is no secret to locals who have enjoyed exciting music and top-notch food here for nearly 10 years.
Owners Jeremy and Tiffany Wynn opened Mojo’s in October 2011 with the goal of establishing a venue where emerging artists can showcase their talents to attentive, passionate crowds. Guests can see touring artists as well as recurring musicians like the Monte Skelton Band or Danny and The Jons.
The sports bar is beloved for its Mo’ Steam burgers, specialty pizzas, and bone-in wings. Regional craft beers are on tap, and Mojo’s regularly donates a portion of sales to fellow Best of Evansville winner It Takes A Village.
4920 Bellemeade Ave. • 812-475-8593 • facebook.com/MojosBoneYard
Best Personal Trainer
For Jaclyn Neville, helping people improve their overall health and build confidence — as a coach at Orange Theory Fitness or through her online nutrition program, Mind Body Method — is what she loves most.
“I was in college and put on a bunch of weight and couldn’t figure out what to do and how to do it, so I went to school for nutrition. I just remember thinking, ‘I do not want to feel like this, and I don’t want other people to feel like this ever,’” Neville says. “That’s what kept me on the path of getting my personal trainer certification, and now I have my own online nutrition along with Orange Theory.”
The Memorial High School and University of Southern Indiana graduate has been a coach at Orange Theory Fitness for four and a half years, teaching classes several days a week. She started Mind Body Method in 2019 to advise clients how to live a healthy lifestyle.
Best Resale Shop
Starting out as a small jewelry store and children’s resale shop in Newburgh, Indiana, Camilla’s Closet is now one of the Tri-State’s premier consignment superstores, offering a full array of family fashions, home décor, pre-owned designer handbags, and a full-service fine jewelry department onsite.
Owners Jennifer and Curt Welte recently opened an affiliate nonprofit called Petunias’s Resale for Rescue. Proceeds from Petunia’s support animal rescue in the Tri-State.
1330 N. Green River Road • 812-401-1191 • camillasconsignment.com
Lic’s Deli & Ice Cream
Best Ice Cream
“Best of Evansville” voters have the scoop on Lic’s Deli & Ice Cream, voting the restaurant “Best Ice Cream” for the second year in a row. For more than 70 years, Lic’s has served Choco-Creme ice cream balls, milkshakes, sundaes, ice cream cakes, and ice cream flavors of the month alongside its deli offerings, which were added in the ‘90s. Focusing on using real ingredients, Lic’s continues to stay cool with its fan-favorite frozen treats.
Eight locations • 812-422-2618 • licsdeliandicecream.com
BRU Burger Bar
Restaurant with the Best Burger
Finding a tasty burger that keeps you coming back is a tough task, but BRU Burger Bar makes that decision much easier, and our readers agree. Situated in the iconic Greyhound Bus Terminal, BRU Burger Bar pulls out all the stops on the American classic and also offers gluten-free, veggie, lamb, bison, and chicken patties. Try specialty chef burgers like the Mexicali BBQ, New Yorker, or signature Bru Burger.
222 Sycamore St. • 812-302-3005 • bruburgerbar.com
It Takes a Village No-Kill Rescue
Best Local Nonprofit
Founded in 2010, It Takes A Village No-Kill Rescue has been the start of happily-ever-afters for more than 7,000 homeless animals.
Before voting ITV 2021’s “Best Local Nonprofit,” the Evansville community helped the organization win a $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project, funding the opening of the Evansville rescue center in 2011. In 2019, ITV opened a second center in Spencer County, Indiana.
With more than 200 animals in its care, executive director Tangila Smith says ITV is set apart by its no-kill policy and its spay/neuter policy.
“We do a lot of posting on Facebook so sharing helps to get the word out,” she says. “If you have questions, stop in and see us, volunteer, just spread the word about all the animals that need homes.”
1417 N. Stockwell Road • 812-909-1306 • itvrescue.org
West Side Nut Club Fall Festival
Best Charitable Event
Originally billed as a Halloween carnival, the West Side Nut Club’s annual Fall Festival has grown to become one of the largest street festivals in the U.S. The first full week of October, the Fall Festival is the perfect spot for live music, carnival attractions, talent competitions, a parade, and more than 100 food vendors whose booths serve as a major annual fundraiser for local nonprofits.
The Nut Club’s wildly popular inaugural half-pot in 2019 also raised $1.2 million that was split between an individual ticket winner and local organizations. The Fall Festival turns 100 this year, and the Nut Club’s motto — “from small acorns, large oaks grow” — perfectly states the festival’s historic impact on the community.
Space Monkey Records
Best Place to Purchase Vinyl Records
There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere at Space Monkey Records. Rock music is blaring, vinyl records line the aisles, and retro décor sends you back to a time when a needle and a turntable could carry a tune.
Space Monkey Records is a treasure trove of vintage music records and memorabilia, including more than 100,000 12- and 7-inch records, CDs, cassettes, and 8-track tapes, along with band T-shirts, posters, and a large selection of new and pre-owned turntables.
“There’s been this micro uptick in vinyl for about a decade and really in the last five years, it’s gone off the chart,” says owner Patrick Holl, an Evansville resident and lifelong collector. “When we first opened the store, it was nothing but vintage records, but we carry new records now.”
1201 E. Riverside Drive • 812-401-3008 • spacemonkeyrecords.com
Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve
Best Place to Enjoy the Outdoors
As the largest tract of virgin hardwood forest within an American city, visiting Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve truly is an unrivaled experience. With six miles of walking trails, 200 acres of old growth forest, hundreds of birds, and thousands of plant species, it’s the perfect place to enjoy nature through educational programs, quiet hikes, or visiting the Welborn Baptist Foundation Nature Playscape.
551 N. Boeke Road • 812-479-0771 • wesselmanwoods.org
Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science
Best Public Art Display
It’s easy to be immersed in art inside the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science, but don’t neglect the museum’s impressive outdoor, public sculpture park. Two pieces inspired by the museum’s architecture and surrounding neighborhood flank the front terrace, while custom works of Corten steel, carved marble, and bronze dot the museum’s backyard.
“We want to be able to show large scale sculptures outside so that people can appreciate the scale of the works and how many have been inspired by the surrounding landscape,” says Mary Bower, the museum’s executive director.
The museum has more reason to celebrate: It plans to welcome a new outdoor sculpture by Gino Miles to its grounds this fall.
411 S.E. Riverside Dr. • 812-425-2406 • emuseum.org
River City Coffee + Goods
Best Boutique/Gift Shop
When Evansville Living readers hunt for the perfect gift, they head to River City Coffee + Goods. River City specializes in fresh plants, witty cards, novelty items, Evansville-branded apparel, and gifts for all occasions, with an emphasis on handmade items by local artisans. While shopping, many customers also treat themselves to a drink from the coffee bar.
223 Main St. • 812-550-1695 • rivercityevv.com
The Honey Vines
Best Local Band
Drawing influences from melodic artists like the Indigo Girls, Stevie Ray Vaughan, James Taylor, and John Mayer, this year’s “Best Local Band” has spent the last decade bringing a distinct musical harmony to the area and embracing a universal message of peace, love, and unity.
Andrea Wirth and Melanie Bozsa formed The Honey Vines nearly 10 years ago. Since then, the Newburgh, Indiana-based duo has performed across the Tri-State at farmers markets, wineries, bars, and festivals, playing genres from acoustic rock to blues to folk.
“This community has shown support for music in so many ways. I think if anything, we’re just seeing more and more music venues pop up because the community wants it,” Bozsa says.
Best Local Artist/Artisan/Craftsperson
Whimsical designs and bright, detailed paintings are artist Dakri Sinclair’s signature, but the lifelong creative loves to do it all.
Founder of Dakri Sinclair Art, she sells hand-painted ornaments, buckets, bottles, and more on her website and Esty store. For the past 25 years, she has spent her summers painting murals, some of which are displayed in Ascension St. Vincent’s pediatrics areas, center for children, and cancer center, as well as at the Arc Crisis Childcare Center.
“I am so overwhelmed and grateful for the following that I’ve got in this area and the just incredible support from friends and family — people I know, people I don’t,” she says. “I’m just beyond grateful and humbled.”
812-499-5782 • dakrisinclair.com
Rawry the Tortoise
Most Attention-Grabbing Pet ★ Editors’ Pick
If you’ve ever stumbled through Haynie’s Corner after one too many drinks and thought you saw a giant turtle, don’t blame the alcohol: You’ve spotted Rawry, a nearly 100-pound tortoise who lives nearby with Chris and Elizabeth Gaddis.
The 12-year-old sulcata likes snacking on watermelon, grew 20 pounds last year, is expected to live 50-60 years, and has a big personality. He enjoys gentle pats on his domed shell — the most telling physical difference between tortoises and turtles — and chases down anyone holding his food. He’s also known to show some sass, walking in circles and purposely stepping on his owners’ feet in protest of his “walks” ending.
Passersby often slow or stop completely to gawk at the giant tortoise as he munches on clover in neighboring yards. One pedestrian who paused to admire Rawry said what we were thinking, too: “That is one of the cooler pets I’ve seen.”
Follow Rawry and his feline sister, Shell, on Instragram @rawry_and_shell
Zuki Japanese Hibachi Grill & Sushi Lounge
Part hibachi grill, part sushi lounge, Evansville Living readers see Zuki as their go-to restaurant for Japanese cuisine: It has nabbed three “Best Sushi” awards since opening in January 2007. Zuki’s famous “Dancing Mama” sushi roll was even featured on the cover of the January/February 2010 issue. Try one of the menu’s more than 50 specialty rolls and sashimi platters for yourself at Zuki’s Downtown restaurant or on the Eastside.
Two locations • 812-477-1985 • lovezuki.com
The shelves, walls, mirrors, and even ceiling of Good Fellas Barber Shop are consumed by sports paraphernalia. Inside, Jeremy Johnston, owner and sole barber since 2004, doesn’t remember every customer’s name, but he does remember their hair.
“You meet a lot of interesting people and make a lot of new friends,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot about a lot of people, there’s all kinds in this world. But I love each and every one of them in a certain way.”
With 17 years of experience under his belt, the barber is slowly passing the torch to his daughter Grace, who will complete her barber training this year. Grace will expand the shop’s offerings and eventually take over operations, but Johnston says not to worry. He will still be the boss around Good Fellas as 2021’s “Best Barber.”
2730 Mount Vernon Ave. • 812-424-0255 • facebook.com/goodfellascut
The Pizza Revolution
Best Food Truck
When it comes to fresh, funky slices of pizza, The Pizza Revolution stands out — and not just because it’s a firehouse red, double-decker London bus. (Talk about putting the “rev” in “revolution.”) Cuts of Fruity Pebble Pizza, spicy Buzz Killa, tangy Fig-n-Pig, smoky Quattro Formagio, and savory BBQ Strombomb take The Pizza Revolution’s eclectic menu from ordinary to legendary. Climb to the upper deck of the bus and enjoy your slice with a view.
Based at Farm 57, 3443 Kansas Road • 812-760-0186 • thepizzarevolution.com
Deaconess Aquatic Center
Best Reason for Three Cheers ★ Editors’ Pick
After years of planning and pandemic-related hurdles, the new $28.4 million Deaconess Aquatic Center, managed by the YMCA, is the culmination of support from residents and community advocates.
“Mayor Lloyd Winnecke’s Aquatic Center Task Force worked collaboratively with community leaders, swim families, and organizations to develop a project that promotes the sport of swimming while also becoming a destination for fun and learning,” says Deputy Mayor and Mayor’s Aquatic Center Task Force chair Steve Schaefer.
The Aquatic Center has Evansville Living saying “hip hip hooray!” for its accessibility and positive community impact.
1700 N. Main St. • facebook.com/EvansvilleDAC/
Pangea and Drew Maurer
Best Restaurant Atmosphere and Best Bartender
On the patio at Pangea Kitchen, two friends talk over a fresh-from-the-oven pistachio pizza. Inside the dining room families enjoy homemade gelato, while the bar hosts a couple sharing drunken noodles and a group of regulars clinking cocktail glasses.
It is these dining experiences that create Pangea’s “Best of the City” atmosphere. The Thai/Italian cuisine restaurant was opened by Randy Hobson in 2016 and has deliciously expanded Evansville’s food culture ever since.
In 2017, the bar area and private room were added, and server Drew Maurer became bar manager. The Newburgh native and lifelong industry worker had his first job at the now-closed Roly Poly, where he discovered his gift for connecting with people — a gift that won him “Best Bartender.” He is slated to manage the bar at Hobson’s newest restaurant, Second Language, when it opens later this year.
“Getting to interact with the customers and seeing all the different personalities, that’s my favorite part,” says Maurer. “Everyone here loves what we do, and I think that’s why we’re all still here.”
111 S. Green River Road • 812-401-2404 • tastepangea.com
Best Cup of Coffee and Best Bakery
Donut Bank has long greeted its customers with a cup of coffee — and now also a fresh exterior look for many of its nine area locations. It’s no surprise Donut Bank’s menu of espresso, coffee, and blended drinks have garnered “Best of Evansville” awards six times since 2010. Evansvillians also head to Donut Bank for the flaky pastries served daily at its bakery. Whether seeking a hot drink or a tasty treat, Donut Bank has you covered.
Nine locations • 812-426-0011 • donutbank.com
Best One to Watch ★ Editors’ Pick
Tanisha Carothers opened Carothers Law Office in 2017, but her life’s true passion is centered around community.
“Particularly as a Black woman growing up, community is livelihood,” says Carothers. “But (another) thing that’s important is reciprocity. So, community not only involves what you can receive, but what can you give to that community?”
The Racine, Wisconsin, native moved to Evansville in 2003 and poured herself into her new hometown. She founded the Evansville Collegiate Advisory Council, helped launch the local Black Chamber of Commerce’s BlackWorks app in 2020, and opened early childhood education facility Rise Learning Center in June 2021. Carothers says she is far from finished.
“There is still a lot of work to be done in many communities,” she says. “So, no I don’t think my work is done.”
401 S.E. Sixth St. Ste. 107D • 812-250-1394 • tcarotherslaw.com/
Best Tourist Attraction
Tucked into the bend of the Ohio River alongside Riverside Drive Downtown, the LST-325 Memorial truly is an attraction like no other. The last fully operating World War II Landing Ship Tank in existence, the LST-325 is open seasonally for tours. Climb the ladders of this piece of living history, which rises and falls with the height of the river, breathing new life into historic tours.
610 N.W. Riverside Drive • 812-435-8678 • lstmemorial.org
YMCA of Southwestern Indiana
Best Public Steward ★ Editors’ Pick
Like many downtown workers, several Evansville Living staff members work out at the YMCA during lunch. We liked the “old Y,” but do we ever love the new YMCA facility that opened on Court Street in September 2019. And we love that the Y’s services extend much further: During pandemic-related closures in 2020, local YMCA branches conducted wellness checks on members and partnered with EVSC, Deaconess, and Ascension St. Vincent to provide 25,000 hours of care for the children of essential workers.
Now, the Y is turning its sights to bringing high-quality educational opportunities to underserved areas by renovating the Caldwell Community Center in the Glenwood neighborhood to house a state-of-the-art STEM lab and 1,800-square-foot community room.
“There’s a Y on every continent, but there’s not a Y in every neighborhood, and that’s what’s so special about this opportunity,” YMCA of Southwestern Indiana CEO Johnathon Pope says.
Ascension St. Vincent YMCA campus • 516 Court St. • 812-423-9622 • ymcaswin.org
Dunigan Family YMCA campus • 6846 Oak Grove Road • 812-401-9622 • ymcaswin.org
Marc Hafele, Impulse Salon & Spa
Marc Hafele’s clients aren’t just customers: They’ve become loyal friends. After owning Impulse Salon & Spa more than 30 years, Hafele’s acclaim and client list keep growing because of his dedication to putting a premium on building customer relationships. (The salon’s exceptional service, high-quality products, and friendly atmosphere haven’t hurt.) Residents all over the Tri-State trust Hafele with keeping their hairstyles fresh and unique, awarding Hafele “Best Hairstylist” for the second time since 2015.
428 W. Jennings St., Newburgh, IN • 812-858-5554 • impulsehair.com
Rare Bird Uncommon Gifts
Best Place to Find Your New Favorite Thing ★ Editors’ Pick
Rare Bird Uncommon Gifts didn’t fill to the brim with unique, eye-catching items overnight. In 2014, Michael and Cary Gray transitioned their photography studio to include what is now one of Evansville’s most popular shops.
Rare Bird sells items for every kind of person and focuses its inventory on women-owned, Made in the USA, and fair-trade products.
“Our goal is to have something unique for everyone,” says Olivia Wright, the Grays’ daughter and employee. “We want you to come in and see things you’ve never seen before.”
2605 Lincoln Ave. • 812-473-0645 • rarebirdgifts.com
Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden
Best Place for a Family Outing
Located on 45 acres of rolling hills on Evansville’s northwest side, Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden hosts hundreds of animals and exotic exhibits. Indiana’s oldest zoo, Mesker continues to expand: Its latest exhibit, the Penguins of Patagonia, is slated to open this fall and will house Humboldt penguins, which are native to South America.
1545 Mesker Park Drive • 812-435-6143 • meskerparkzoo.com