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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Best of Evansville 2015

The writing is officially on the wall and the readers of Evansville Living have spoken. Each year our readers cast ballots and we, as editors of the magazine, share some favorites, too, as we learn the people, restaurants, stores, and more that have made their mark as Evansville’s best.

Ron Rhodes

Most Colorful Community Character
Readers’ Pick

For 20 years WEHT and WTVW Eyewitness News Meteorologist Ronan Rhodes (we know him as Ron) has forecast the weather for the Tri-State. He’s won awards for his skill in predicting precipitation, including the National Weather Service Seal of Approval. Viewers, and readers of this magazine, appreciate that. But we also appreciate Rhode’s humor; he is one funny guy — and that’s what netted him the Most Colorful Community Character award. We love Ron for his devotion to “funky fruit” and the fun he has working. Search for Ron on YouTube and you’ll see him with pal Brick Briscoe, coughing the carols when the coworkers both were ill earlier this winter. What Rhodes really loves best is getting out in the community. “I like talking to kids in school and going to different charity events. I like it better than being on television because you get instant feedback.” We’re betting that Ron gets lots of laughs, high-fives, and other enthusiastic signs of support. tristatehomepage.com

Lic’s Deli & Ice Cream

Best Ice Cream Shop   Readers’ Pick

Readers of Evansville Living voted Lic’s Deli & Ice Cream Best Place for a Milkshake in 2014. The sugary goodness didn’t stop there. This year, readers spoke up again and named the nine retail stores in Evansville Best Ice Cream Shop. In addition to ice cream (with more than 20 flavors), the old fashion soda fountain style ice cream shop serves deli sandwiches, cakes, and cookies. licsdeliandicecream.com

Victory Theatre

Best Place to See Theater   Readers’ Pick

Perhaps best known for being the home to the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, the Victory Theatre once featured a daily program of four vaudeville acts, a movie, a comedy routine, organ music, and a 10-piece orchestra. The theater opened on June 16, 1921 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It underwent an extensive seven-year $15 million renovation in the 1990s. Today, the 1,950-seat venue maintains its tradition of variety by hosting theater companies, local ballet and modern dance, touring productions, and more. 600 Main St., 812-422-1515, victorytheatre.com


Best Place to Buy Something You Never Knew You Wanted   Editors’ Pick

If you’re looking for pretty much anything, AbyssCo is the place to go. With clothing, art, jewelry, and everything in between, AbyssCo is a hidden treasure trove of unique finds. After six years, the store has amassed a quirky collection of items including their shop cat. “We’re not an average consignment shop,” says owner Kristie Bondy. “We only take things that are different or interesting. I think our questionable attitude sets us apart. We don’t like to be predictable or boring.” 4851 Monroe Ave., 812-491-6661, facebook.com/abyssco

Bippus Frame Shop

Best Custom Framing   Readers’ Pick

There isn’t a framing challenge that can’t be solved for brother and sister duo Tom Bippus and Jill Isaac. The third-generation owners of Bippus Frame Shop, located at 200 Cherry St., have custom framed everything from golf clubs to puppets, and even roofing shingles. Each piece is crafted individually and every frame is custom-made. 200 Cherry St., 812-422-3899, bippusframeshop.com

Buffalo Wild Wings

Best Chicken Wings   Readers’ Pick

When your hardest decision all day is between traditional or boneless wings, you know everything is going to be all right! With two locations in Evansville, Buffalo Wild Wings offers 16 signature sauces, five seasonings, and weekly promotions — Wing Tuesdays and Boneless Thursdays. So mark your calendars, catch a game, and prepare to feast. 5405 Pearl Drive, 812-423-9464; 715 N. Green River Road, 812-471-9464, buffalowildwings.com

Brinker’s Jewelers

Best Jewelry Store   Readers’ Pick

The Brinkers are behind the third generation family-owned jewelry store, Brinker’s Jewelers, that has served the Tri-State for 43 years. Evansville Living readers voted Brinker’s as Best Jeweler in 2014, and the tradition continues this year. Shop for the perfect engagement ring, wedding bands, fine jewelry, and watches, and grab a bite to eat at Café 111, also located next door to the jewelry store, and voted Best Workday Lunch Spot. 111 S. Green River Road, 812-476-0651, brinkersjewelers.com

Koch Immersive Theater

Best Place for Star Gazing   Editors’ Pick

Explore space and see the stars up close in the Koch Immersive Theater, which was the centerpiece of a $14.1 million renovation and expansion by the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science. Inside the theater, two digital video projects beam images onto the entire surface of the 40-foot wide dome. While you can see traditional planetarium shows, you also can be immersed in full-dome cinema utilizing Digistar® projection technology. The theater offers five movies for both children and adults and can accommodate film screenings, lectures, group meetings, teleconferencing, and more. 411 S.E. Riverside Drive, 812-425-2406, emuseum.org

Bonefish Grill

Best Seafood Restaurant   Readers’ Pick

Its wide variety of fish selections from around the globe have given Bonefish Grill the readers’ choice of Best Seafood Restaurant. From Rainbow Trout, an Idaho Trout that has a tender, flaky texture, to the Chilean Sea Bass, which is rich, melt-in-your-mouth savory, Bonefish cooks its market-fresh fish over a wood-burning grill. 6401 E. Lloyd Expressway, 812-401-3474, bonefishgrill.com


Best Thrift Store   Readers’ Pick

During the Great Flood of 1937, Evansville Goodwill Industries worked 24 hours a day serving the community in any way — providing a place to stay, storage for furniture, clothing. Today, Goodwill continues to aid those in need and accepts donations at its four retail stores in Evansville and 10 more in Southern Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. Each store is stocked with different merchandise every day. Everything in the store is donated so shoppers will never know what priceless or unique item they will find. goodwill.org

Western Ribeye & Ribs

Best Salad Bar   Readers’ Pick

Western Ribeye & Ribs co-owner David Nix jokes that if you take away the restaurant’s salad bar, you have to take away fried chicken from Colonel Sanders. The restaurant opened in 1975 and was the second restaurant in Evansville to offer a salad bar. (Andy’s Steak and Barrel, now closed, had the first.) The fresh ingredients and vegetable toppings of the create-your-own salad are what sets Western Ribeye & Ribs’ salads apart. 1401 N. Boeke Road, 812-476-5405, westernribeye.com

Monte Skelton

Best Local Musician   Readers’ Pick

For Monte Skelton, music is a way of life. It’s been that way before Evansville Living learned of his ability to play 22 musical instruments. The University of Evansville alumnus teaches music during the day at Joshua Academy and plays music in the evenings. He plays in two groups — Factor: Primo and Monte & Shelly. Through playing music at festivals and venues around Evansville, he says he has been fortunate enough to gain loyal followers. facebook.com/monteskelton


Best Place to Get Into Africa   Editors’ Pick

While visiting Ethiopia, Dyan Larmey saw the poverty that struck the country, especially the women. She wanted to help. To make a living, the Ethiopian women made different items like jewelry and scarves to sell, and that’s when the idea of Karama was born. Located in Haubstadt, Indiana, Karama, which means dignity in Arabic, offers a wide variety of eclectic and handmade items from different African artisan partners. These items bring a piece of Africa to Southern Indiana. “In Evansville, we offer a glimpse into the capabilities of Africa. We wanted to address the poverty in Africa and we wanted to make a difference,” says Jill Morley, executive director of Karama. 3200 Schroeder Road, Haubstadt, IN, 812-867-9656, karamagifts.com

D’Alto Studio of Performing Arts

Best Hidden Gem   Readers’ Pick

Tucked away on Stockwell Road, D’Alto Studio of Performing Arts offers a variety of instruction in arts like improvisation, stage combat, and ukulele. “There is no big flashing sign, and we have no advertising budget,” says owner Jennifer Dalto. “The studio provides that warm home away from home. The arts help us deal with the everyday stresses in our lives.” With a stage, the studio produces 12 to 15 theatrical productions, dance shows, and concerts each year. Students of all ages are welcome. 303 N. Stockwell Road, 812-402-4166, daltoarts.com

Jeff Lyons

Best Local TV Personality   Readers’ Pick

After working for 14News for 26 years, Chief Meteorologist Jeff Lyons knows weather. Rain, sleet, or shine, he is dedicated to delivering the forecast to the Evansville area with a smile, and enjoys providing the people with information they may find useful. “I hope people trust me, like me, and respect the job I do and that I’m committed to it. I’m humble, and it’s always nice to get recognition. But no matter the votes, we’ll be reporting the weather day in and day out.” 14news.com

Tin Man Brewing Co.

Best Local Brewery   Readers’ Pick

Evansville is a beer town and if you disagree, have a drink at Tin Man Brewing Co. The microbrewery opened on Franklin Street in 2012 and utilizes a mash filtration system, which uses less water and fuel to produce more sugars from grain (around 18 percent more than normal systems). Tin Man made a business decision when determining to use cans to sell its products, and an environmental one. “Canned beer stands up better to oxygen and light,” Tin Man President Nick Davidson told Evansville Living in 2014. “By canning the beer, we not only deliver a better product, but also do more to protect the environment.” 1430 W. Franklin St., 812-618-3227, tinmanbrewing.com

Anna Hargis

Biggest Cheerleader for Little People   Editors’ Pick

Omaha, Nebraska, native Anna Hargis is committed to working for children and has been ever since she started volunteering for Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Anna came to Evansville in 2004 to study at the University of Evansville. Though Anna joined the program to change the lives of the kids she mentors, her own life and perspective was changed as well. “I hope people see I’m passionate about this,” the 28-year-old BBBS executive director says. “I believe in the program and the kids, and I’m proud of it. I want to connect people with the program, and everyone can make an impact here.” 101 Plaza East Blvd., 812-425-6076, bbbsov.org

Helfrich Hills Golf Course

Best Public Golf Course   Readers’ Pick

Working on your golf swing never stops and Helfrich Hills Golf Course has been voted as the best public course to do just that. Built in 1923, the course was designed by renowned architect Tom Bendelow. The 18-hole par-71 course, located across from Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden, has tree-lined fairways and features many hills and valleys. It is the host site of the Tri-State Amateur and U.S.G.A. Public Links Qualifying rounds. 1550 Mesker Park Drive, 812-435-6075, helfrichmensgolfclub.com

Red Pandas at Mesker Park Zoo

Best Furry Faces   Editors’ Pick

The colder the months — the furrier the face. Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden is home to two red pandas, Celeste and Junjie, who love the colder temperatures of an Indiana winter that are typical in their native southeastern Asian habitats. Housed in the Discovery Center at the zoo since arriving in 2013, Celeste is a 8-year-old female who was born at the Potawatami Zoo in South Bend, Indiana. Her counterpart, Junjie or “handsome hero” in Chinese, joined the zoo in July 2014 and is a 1-year-old male red panda who Marketing Director Abigail Adler calls “spunky.” He was born at the Kansas City Zoo in Kansas City, Missouri. When not having fun playing, the red pandas enjoy sleeping on trees with all four legs dangling. 1545 Mesker Park Drive, 812-435-6143, meskerparkzoo.com

The Bauerhaus

Best Wedding Reception Venue   Readers’ Pick

The Bauer family’s ties to Darmstadt, Indiana, date to 1880 when Michael Bauer came with his parents from Darmstadt, Germany. Michael and his wife Barbara would hold picnic lunches and invite friends over on Sundays. The celebrations have continued 135 years later to wedding ceremonies and receptions at The Bauerhaus, which provides full menus, bar services, wedding cakes, transportation, music, lighting, and entertainment. 13605 Darmstadt Road, 812-759-9000, thebauerhaus.com

Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science

Best Public Art   Readers’ Pick

If you’re looking for art, the search stops here. Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science’s permanent art collection is of American and European painting, graphic works, and sculpture dating from the 16th through the 20th centuries. Tour the permanent exhibitions such as the still life and landscape galleries, or stop in throughout the year for the rotating exhibitions. Each year since 1948, the museum hosts the Mid-States Exhibition to showcase emerging local artists. 411 S.E. Riverside Drive, 812-425-2406, emuseum.org

Raben Tire & Auto Service

Best Automotive Repair   Readers’ Pick

It’s the Raben family mission to be the very best, and Evansville Living readers agree they have done just that. Raben Tire opened in 1952 and has grown to one of the largest tire and service companies in the Midwest with 25 locations in five states. Six sons of the original owner, Butch Raben, help operate the business still today. Raben offers services such as oil changes, brakes, alignments, shocks, batteries, preventive maintenance, and more. rabentire.com

Azzip Pizza

Best Restaurant Opened in 2014   Readers’ Pick

Grippo’s, Ski, and pizza — there’s no better combination! Purdue University alumnus Brad Niemeier won the Burton D. Morgan Plan Competition with his idea for Azzip Pizza, a quick and casual style of ordering pizza. Azzip, located at 5225 Pearl Drive in Evansville and 8680 High Pointe Drive in Newburgh, Indiana, promises crispy perfection in front of your eyes in 2.5 minutes. Pairing with former Evansville Country Club Executive Chef Blake Kollker in spring 2012, Azzip opened in early 2014. Azzip delivers creative recipe combinations such as The Westsider with crushed Grippo’s potato chips and sprinkled Ski soda. Azzip Pizza, 5225 Pearl Drive, Evansville; 8680 High Pointe Drive, Newburgh, IN, azzippizza.me

Don Mattingly, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers

Best Local Sports Star   Readers’ Pick

No matter the level of success Don Mattingly achieves, he proudly still calls Evansville home. The manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers played baseball for Reitz Memorial High School. During his junior year, Memorial went undefeated and won the state title in 1978. The school went on a 59-game win streak that ended the following year in the state championship. “Evansville’s a blue-collar town,” Mattingly told Evansville Living in 2011. “When you come from that part of the country, you work hard at everything you do. You work hard, and you play hard — for your mom and dad, for your family, for the people who helped you get there.” He spent 14 years playing for the New York Yankees, later coaching the Yankees, Dodgers, and earning his manager role in 2011. losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com


Best Thing for Your Stuff   Editors’ Pick

In 2010, Kelsea Slade wanted a creative outlet and found handbags were her calling. She noticed there was a hole in the market, and in response she created K.slademade. “I love working with leather. It’s a really beautiful material, and I love the way it takes its own shape,” says Slade. “Handbags are something that speaks to all women. Every woman needs a handbag, so it’s a good way to reach everybody, except maybe men.” kslademade.com

West Side Nut Club Fall Festival

Best Free Event   Readers’ Pick

The weeklong West Side Nut Club Fall Festival should be considered a holiday. This free event attracts more than 200,000 people to Evansville’s West Side with its free entertainment, carnival attractions, amateur talent competitions, 137 food booths, and on the final day, a parade. The fall festival will be in its 94th year this October. nutclubfallfestival.com


Best Pet Service   Readers’ Pick

Cat cuddles and puppy loving — your pets are an extension of your family. It’s important to find the best services for wellness and training. Voted Best Pet Grooming by Evansville readers in 2012, PetSmart, 215 N. Burkhardt Road, offers grooming seven days a week, training from accredited trainers for positive, consistent behavior from your pet, and veterinary care at the Banfield Pet Hospital®, which has full-service veterinary care providers with wellness programs for ongoing preventive care. 215 N. Burkhardt Road, 812-476-6462, petsmart.com

Tin Fish Restaurant

Best Place to Get Hooked   Editors’ Pick

No need to fish for compliments here. The seafood at Tin Fish speaks for itself. With an interior that is reminiscent of a small sea harbor town, the restaurant offers some of the best seafood in the Tri-State. After opening up shop in downtown Newburgh, Indiana, in 2007, the fish joint baited hungry customers with their reputation from the 11 other locations in Florida, California, and Minnesota and hooked them with the fish and chips. A delicious filet of white cod is battered and fried, then placed alongside a heaping pile of golden crosscut fries. It’s a meal that’s sure to whet any landlubber’s appetite. 300 W. Jennings St., Newburgh, IN, 812-490-7000

Bar Louie

Best Cocktail Menu   Readers’ Pick

Over the years, Bar Louie has been a reader favorite in multiple categories such as Best Bloody Mary, Best Suburban Hot Spot, and Best Bar for Grownups. Bar Louie, which is located at 7700 Eagle Crest Blvd., again takes the crown for its extensive cocktail menu from the Louie’s Sangria to the Peach Lightning. 7700 Eagle Crest Blvd., 812-476-7069, barlouieamerica.com

Hmmm. Were we asking for readers to name the best interior design firm or individual? Readers weren’t sure, and SugarBakers Home Fashions (a firm of designers) and Kip Farmer (a designer) each received the most top place votes. We’re happy to present the Best of Evansville to both. 

SugarBakers Home Fashions

Best Interior Designer   Readers’ Pick – Group

At SugarBakers Home Fashions, it is all about the customer and his or her vision to make a house a home. “The operative word would be team,” says Manager Kendi Speakes. “More heads are better than one. We focus on the clients and tailor it to them. We don’t want people to say their home is a SugarBaker home because we are bringing their vision to life.” The team includes Ann Pate, owner, Kendi Speakes, manager, Amber Clark, assistant manager, Stephanie Eidson, inside sales specialist, designers Servane Dicus, Jodi Murtha, and Brittney Schipp, and sales assistants Alexandria Dickenson and Chrissi Kuhn. 1100 Tutor Lane, 812-475-1344, sugarbakers.us

Kip Farmer

Best Interior Designer   Readers’ Pick – Individual

Being an interior designer for 28 years, Kip Farmer has plenty of creative flair to go around. After opening his firm in 2000, he has designed both residentially and commercially around the Tri-State, and even in other states, but his favorite place to land is Evansville. “I think of myself as Evansville focused. I’ve had a lot of fun doing projects here, and I love being a part of the creative work force Evansville fosters. I always enjoy coming back.” 812-453-2153, kipfarmer.com

New Harmony, Indiana

Best Small Town in a 50-Mile Radius   Readers’ Pick

Only around 25 miles from Downtown Evansville, New Harmony, Indiana, is a historic town on the Wabash River that attracts visitors from all over for its art, architecture, culture, serenity, and beauty. This small-town community was founded in 1814 by a German communal society. Today, New Harmony offers year-round festivals and special events or an any day of the week escape. visitnewharmony.com

Computers Plus

Best Computer Repair   Readers’ Pick

There are few moments more frustrating than working with a computer that needs repairing. Computers Plus is open six days a week and offers computer repair for both Apple and PC computers, tablets, and phones. Schedule appointments online, talk to a specialist, or receive in-store lessons. Computers Plus also has inventory ready for purchase from computers to printers, and all other parts in between. 301 S. Green River Road, 812-477-1123, computersplus.com

Dan’s Comp

Best Bicycle Shop   Readers’ Pick

Starting in Mount Vernon, Indiana, in 1986 and operating a shop in Evansville since 2012, Dan’s Comp offers not only the best selection of bikes and gear, but also provides great service to its customers. The shop makes a point to be involved in each community it assists. “When someone comes into one of our shops, they will be greeted by the most experienced and trusted sales and service staff in the Tri-State,” says John Wilson, retail bike shop manager of Dan’s Comp. 1412 S. Green River Road, 812-477-8828, danscompbikes.com

Marc Hafele at Impulse Hair Studio and Day Spa

Best Hair Stylist   Readers’ Pick

“We build relationships before building a business,” is Marc Hafele’s motto. After owning Impulse Hair Studio and Day Spa for 29 years, Hafele emphasizes sincerity with his customers. His business is more than a job; it’s a career that allows him to make a difference. “I don’t call them clients; I call them friends. I’m honored by how deep we get to touch people like no other career can.” Hafele never stops reinventing himself or growing, and every year he chooses to start over. 428 W. Jennings St., Newburgh, IN, 812-858-5554, impulsehair.com

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurant

Best Place for Breakfast   Readers’ Pick

Why is Cracker Barrel loved by so many? Dining at the country restaurant brings back memories of family and home cooking. Cracker Barrel offers a home-style country breakfast all day long with traditional favorites such eggs, homemade buttermilk biscuits, grits, gravy, and sausage patties to buttermilk pancakes with a side of bacon and orange slices. It’s a home-cooked breakfast away from home! 8215 Eagle Lake Drive, 812-479-8788, crackerbarrel.com

Thyme in the Kitchen

Best Place to Sharpen Your Knife Skills   Editors’ Pick

When the city’s longtime kitchen store and cooking class center closed two years ago, foodies craving the latest in cookware and instruction were bereft. We can thank Thyme in the Kitchen for stepping up with the opening of its bright Franklin Street store just over one year ago. Owners Marcia and Gil Jochem host as many as 20 or more classes each month, on weekdays and weekends, in the evening and afternoons. Friday evenings are typically “Date Night” classes. On Feb. 13, students will create an All Chocolate Valentine’s Day dinner: spinach and pear salad with a chocolate vinaigrette, cocoa rubbed baby back ribs, baked beans with cocoa, and chocolate stout cake. After cooking and dining, guests can join the Mardis Gras Franklin Street Pub Crawl right outside the door. 2308 W. Franklin St., 812-399-2726, thymeinthekitchenevv.com

Winzerwald Winery

Best Regional Winery   Readers’ Pick

The Winzerwald Winery tasting room is located at 2021 W. Franklin St. The tasting room serves a flight of six wines of the customer’s choice for $5 and is an extension of the winery located in Bristow, Indiana. Named apart of the Best Reason to Go to Franklin Street in the 2013, small tables for conversation and chilled bottles that are ready for serving await. 2021 W. Franklin St., 812-423-2427, winzerwaldwinery.com


Best Local Twitter Account   Readers’ Pick

If you grew up in a household that listened to the police scanner — or maybe you enjoy that hobby still today — it’s time to join Twitter. The Best Local Twitter Account as voted on by readers is @EvansvilleWatch, a social media incident alert and public safety information site founded by Evansville native and former EMS worker Bill Merkel in 2009. Merkel and volunteers monitor the Evansville Police Department scanner and other official sources and tweet out, live time, community news and information: local incidents, traffic alerts, weather, crime reports, and more. More than 35,000 people follow this hyper-local, credible staple on Twitter. twitter.com/evansvillewatch

Café 111

Best Workday Lunch Spot   Readers’ Pick

The title of Best Workday Lunch Spot is a tricky one. Can it serve as an escape when you need it and can it also be a quick grab-and-go? Café 111 answers the call located in Brinker’s Jewelers, 111 S. Green River Road, Ste. D. Enjoy delicious soups and sandwiches, breakfast pastries, or gourmet salads Monday through Friday, with lunch hours on Saturday. 111 S. Green River Road, Ste. D, 812-401-8111, cafe-111.com

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