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Evansville
Wednesday, February 8, 2023

The Best of Everything

Stylish shops, inspiring people, and plenty of fun — it’s hard to pick favorites, but every year, our readers and editors cast their ballots and declare what makes our city great. From the classic to the quirky, we present this year’s list of winners.

Fun

Weekend Getaway

City Museum, St. Louis   Editors’ Pick

A geography lesson: Evansville is a great city surrounded by numerous great cities. Part of our location’s charm is its proximity to weekend trip destinations, including the City Museum in St. Louis. The wacky museum boasts reasons for every family member to attend, including the Enchanted Cave, built within a historic shoe factory’s spiral conveyor tunnel system, and MonstroCity, a playground built with aircraft fuselages, a fire engine, and a castle turret. Want more adult appeal? The Four Seasons Hotel in downtown St. Louis boasts the Lumière Place Casino on its first floor. The hotel offers amazing views of the Gateway Arch, the Mississippi River, and beautiful Midwest sky. The contemporary look of this five-star hotel brings a sense of relaxation — and the indulgent spa services certainly calm the nerves, too.

Bar for Grownups

Bar Louie   Readers’ Pick

In summer 2009, this chain opened in an East Side building (7700 Eagle Crest Blvd.) where restaurants hadn’t lasted long. (Remember the ill-fated Pasta Grill and Mangiamo Italiano?) Bar Louie is the success story. With oversized sandwiches, a cosmopolitan appetizer menu, and a huge martini menu, it feels like a big-city bar where people mingle after work and late into the night.

Place to Take a Person Visiting Evansville for the First Time and Place to Bike

Downtown Riverfront   Readers’ Pick

Credit former Mayor Frank McDonald II for the $11 million renovation of the Riverfront. The new face of the city opened in 2001, and the renovation with a greenway trail, scenic overlooks, and seating for thousands of people continues to attract bike riders, joggers, and visitors.

Venue to Hold an Event

The Centre   Readers’ Pick

Known for Broadway shows, touring comedy acts, and concerts in the Aiken Theatre, The Centre (715 Locust St.) also hosts nearly 300 events a year — from wedding receptions to trade shows to charity galas.

Formal Charity Event

Deaconess Party of the Year   Readers’ Pick

“Party of the year” is a tough name to live up to, but when the president and CEO of the region’s largest employer rides a Harley into a gala, the fundraiser is hard to forget. And when Deaconess leader Linda White lets loose, others follow. Last year’s Fire and Ice theme encouraged attendees at this black-tie-optional gala to wear red — all in support of Deaconess’ charitable foundation.

Non-Nut Club Festival

Tie: Jazz, Wine and Arts Festival and Wine, Art and Jazz Festival   Readers’ Pick

We love the West Side Nut Club Fall Festival as much as the next Evansvillian, but there are parties to be had off Franklin Street. Our ballots are write-in only, and our readers enthusiastically submitted so many combinations of “jazz,” “art,” and “wine” that it was impossible to choose a winner between two great events: the Jazz, Wine and Arts Festival and the Wine, Art and Jazz Festival. The first is a fall event on Downtown’s Main Street. The second, a May festival on Newburgh’s Riverfront, comes from Evansville Living and Historic Newburgh.

Radio Station

WIKY   Readers’ Pick

Last year, WIKY’s Diane Douglas won Best Radio Personality, but she’s just one part of a dedicated, experienced team familiar with the city. In the world of journalistic outsourcing, WIKY (104.1 FM) is a rare gem: Its news and talent are right here in town.

Ladies’ Night Out

Blush   Readers’ Pick

Flat-screen TVs hanging from the ceilings play sports events, but they almost disappear into the stunning atmosphere at the cosmopolitan-cool Blush (615 N.W. Riverside Drive). A two-story bar, lists of fancy cocktails, comfortable modern chairs, and walls of windows make this a place for gal pals.

Guys’ Night Out

Fox and Hound   Readers’ Pick

Shuffleboard. Check. Pool tables. Check. Darts. Check. TVs to watch the big games and bigger fights. Check. With an impressive drink menu ranging from imported dark beers to Indian pale ales, Fox and Hound (5416 E. Indiana St.) is all about spirits, sports, and fun.

Free Culture

Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library   Editors’ Pick

When the late Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges declared, “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library,” he probably wasn’t envisioning a giant map of Asia covering the floor in the children’s section. Or a Tales and Scales performance in the lobby. Or exhibits of photography, sculpture, and paintings. But in our city’s fantastic public library system, these programs — like the books — are worth checking out. The best part: You won’t need your wallet.

Day Spa

Absolute Beauty   Readers’ Pick

Here are a few spa buzzwords: paraffin dip, vitamin C mask, aromatherapy, and microdermabrasion. These services (and plenty more pampering) are available at Absolute Beauty (7144 E. Virginia St.). Try the Fusion Massage, a blend of relaxation, deep muscle, hot stone, and aromatherapy techniques.

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Shopping

Virtual Knowledge

GameStop   Editors’ Pick

The simple joystick of the first video game system is long gone. Today’s systems have multiple functions — from gaming to online video streaming to playing Blu-rays. For questions beyond our comprehension, it’s nice to have GameStop (800 N. Green River Road; 6401 E. Lloyd Expressway; 222 S. Red Bank Road), a place staffed with gamers who not only sell systems but also passionately play them.

Lingerie

Victoria’s Secret   Readers’ Pick

In 1977, Victoria’s Secret was founded by a California man who was mortified trying to buy lingerie for his wife in a bustling department store. When Victoria’s Secret opened in Eastland Mall (800 N. Green River Road) in 1992, it followed the formula of the first store in San Francisco: a shopping experience low on embarrassment and big on sexy (not sleazy) lingerie that offers a luxurious mix of form and function.

Place for Statement Shoes

Dillard’s   Readers’ Pick

Marilyn Monroe once quipped, “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” Our readers say they find just the right shoe at Dillard’s in Eastland Mall (800 N. Green River Road), whether it’s a killer heel by BCBG, a funky Coach sneaker, or a cozy Ugg boot.

Athletic Attire

Dick’s Sporting Goods   Readers’ Pick

It’s that time of year: the post-holiday rush of making New Year’s resolutions, joining gyms, buying treadmills, registering for road races, and signing up for exercise classes, all in a madcap attempt to bump the scale down a few digits. From footwear to fitness equipment, our readers say Dick’s Sporting Goods (6601 E. Lloyd Expressway) helps them gear up for an active lifestyle.

Shop Girl

Beth Martin, The Barefoot Cottage   Editors’ Pick

The custom-built wooden hutches. The playful “What Would Julia Do?” kitchen towels. The fabric-covered journals, hand-painted wall art, and bath soaps creatively displayed in an egg carton. We can’t help but swoon over just about everything in The Barefoot Cottage (1021 Lincoln Ave.), including its charming owner, Beth Martin. Martin’s manner is as easy and breezy as her shop, filled with whimsical yet down-to-earth treasures reminiscent of Anthropologie (but at Evansville prices).

Sexy Jeans

House of Bluez   Readers’ Pick

Arguably one of the best reasons to purchase the aforementioned athletic attire: rewarding your newly toned butt and thighs with a fabulous pair of jeans. House of Bluez (333 Metro Ave.) owner Jodi Merrick is a diva of denim, helping customers navigate a myriad of designer labels — and their oft-tricky sizing — to find the perfect fit.

Men’s Suits

Men’s Wearhouse   Readers’ Pick

Some men’s clothing stores only offer pleated, cuffed suit pants — a fine style that always will be with us. How about flat front pants? For both options: Men’s Wearhouse (163 N. Burkhardt Road; 6401 E. Lloyd Expressway).

Kitchen Gadgets

Kitchen Affairs   Readers’ Pick

Packed with high-tech gadgets (such as the electric griddler that’s a contact grill, panini press, full grill, or griddle all in one) to simple, well-done utensils (such as white porcelain measuring spoons with a blue filet border), Kitchen Affairs (4610 Vogel Road) boasts more than 80,000 meal-making items at their store and online.

Stylish Gifts

Basket Kases   Readers’ Pick

The gift-giving season may have slowed, but our readers say they frequent this shop near the University of Evansville (2009 Lincoln Ave.) for classy gifts that are perfect any time of year: gourmet food, art, accessories, home décor, jewelry, candles, and then some.

Outdoor Furniture

Lowe’s   Readers’ Pick

It’s winter now, but by March — well, probably April — we’ll be outside again enjoying spring-like weather. From hammocks to umbrellas to swings to gazebos, Lowe’s (103 S. Red Bank Road; 6716 Oak Grove Road) packs plenty for an outdoor living space. If you can’t wait until spring, check out the fire pits and outdoor heaters.

Darling Duds

Downtown Newburgh   Editors’ Pick

Three of the newest additions to the Downtown Newburgh shopping scene are targeted to the tiniest fashionistas: Hooray! (103 State St.) specializes in European designer children’s clothing. Clare & Co. (10 W. Jennings St.) is an upscale resale shop, and Sprout (102A State St.) offers stylish, personalized clothing and gifts for babies and kids.

Natural Food Store

Adele’s Naturally/Adele’s Natural Foods   Readers’ Pick

Convinced of the benefits of wholesome food, Adele Cottrell opened a natural food store in Evansville nearly 40 years ago — “at a time when ridicule was pretty pervasive,” says her daughter, Karen Yoe. Today, the 95-year-old Cottrell lets the next generation run her business, but her forward-thinking legacy continues with Adele’s Naturally (2704 Lincoln Ave.) and Adele’s Natural Foods (3415 N. First Ave.), two shops that carry organic foods, vitamins and supplements, and natural health and beauty projects.

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Dining

Second Coming

Jeanne’s Gelato and More   Editors’ Pick

When the owners of Jeanne’s Gelato and More (2003 Lincoln Ave.) vacated their Fourth Street digs (now home to Eclipse Spanish Tapas Bar and Restaurant), their departure carried a question mark. Was the restaurant moving? Gone for good? We’re happy to report the former. Now serving creamy Italian ice cream from a spot near the University of Evansville, the restaurant’s vibe is appropriately college coffeehouse. The warm-colored walls are welcoming, the furniture comfortable, and the atmosphere cozy.

First Date Restaurant

Bonefish Grill   Readers’ Pick

Surrounded by shops, restaurants, and bright lights at one of the city’s busiest intersections, Bonefish Grill (6401 E. Lloyd Expressway) keeps the interior lights dim. All the better to set the mood for a romantic first date.

Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurant

Penny Lane Coffeehouse   Readers’ Pick

While this cozy, artsy Downtown coffee shop (600 S.E. Second St.) may not have a complete menu, it does have to-die-for daily specials that attract everyone from dreadlocked hipsters to businessmen in suits. On a cold winter day, try the African peanut soup, organic vegan black bean chili, or Turkish spinach lentil soup.

Late-Night Dining

Bar Louie   Readers’ Pick

With 13 big-screen TVs, 20 beers on tap, and a chic, urban atmosphere, time tends to slip away at Bar Louie (7700 Eagle Crest Blvd.). That’s OK: A double winner in this year’s Best Of competition, Bar Louie stays open until 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday. We’re partial to $1 burger night on Tuesdays.

Restaurant Opened in 2010

Café Arazu   Readers’ Pick

Located in a historic Newburgh icehouse, the Café Arazu menu boasts Middle Eastern dishes with Midwestern personality. Read more about the “Best Restaurant Opened in 2010” (17 W. Jennings St., Newburgh) in First Impressions.

Reason to Say Amore

Vecchio’s Italian Market and Delicatessen   Editors’ Pick

Growing up in the Bronx, third-generation Italian Frank Spadavecchio was surrounded by bakeries, meat markets, and delis. When he moved to the Tri-State, he wanted to bring such an Italian staple here. His tiny shop (14 W. Jennings St., Newburgh) serves lunch daily, and the shelves and coolers brim with a gorgeous selection of imported meats, cheeses, pastas, and other groceries. A hidden treat: the domestic microbrewed beers in the wine cellar.

Deli

Emge’s Deli and Ice Cream   Readers’ Pick

The small staff size is a blessing at this local restaurant (206 Main St.). Employees’ faces are familiar and friendly. Go there often enough, and they’ll remember your name. The traditional deli menu is the primary draw. A few standouts not regularly on the menu are the taco salad and chess pie.

Chicken Salad

Maxine’s Café and Bakery   Readers’ Pick

We asked readers to vote for their favorite chicken salad — singular — but Maxine’s (1322 N. Green River Road) offers three. The house variety has walnuts and honey-mustard mayo; the vegetable chicken salad brims with artichoke hearts and broccoli; and the curry version includes golden raisins and celery.

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Just Rennie’s Cookie Co.   Readers’ Pick

The plump and hefty Just Rennie’s chocolate chunk cookie (not chip, owner Doug Rennie insists) earned top honors from our readers. The cookies start with premium ingredients such as imported Belgian chocolate and pure vanilla. The result: a sinfully rich cookie with an unbelievably soft center. Buy them Downtown (102 S.E. Fourth St.) or satisfy the sweet tooth of out-of-towners by ordering online (www.justrennies.com, shipping available to all 50 states).

Fried Chicken

Log Inn   Readers’ Pick

We love buckets of chicken, but we love overflowing plates of fried goodness, too. The family-style serving at the Log Inn (Warrenton Road at Old State Road) is just part of the allure of this (very) North Side restaurant. It’s the oldest restaurant in Indiana, visited by Abraham Lincoln in 1844.

Fiddlers

Knob Hill Tavern   Readers’ Pick

Fiddlers — the catfish kind — are serious business in Evansville, and most restaurant owners are tight-lipped about the recipes. One secret to the taste of the Knob Hill Tavern (1016 Highway 662 W., Newburgh) fiddler is that every catfish is prepared in the same fryer. No other food receives such special treatment.

Burrito

Los Bravos   Readers’ Pick

In a world where Mexican restaurants tout burritos for numerous reasons (They’re cheap! They’re quick! They’re big!), it’s nice to hear this reason: Los Bravos’ burritos are good. In our world, taste matters as much as price, speed, and size, and Los Bravos shines in every category.

Ice Cream

Lic’s Deli and Ice Cream   Readers’ Pick

In the 1950s, Lloyd’s Ice Cream shops were an Evansville institution. Nearly 60 years later, the legacy lives on (L-I-C’s — get it?). Our readers say whether they want a treat that’s sinful (try the chocolate-chip ice cream sandwich) or saintly (the fat-free strawberry margarita sorbet, a warm-weather favorite), Lic’s is the top shop.

Unexpected River View

Temptations Buffet   Editors’ Pick

Inside the Casino Aztar Hotel (421 N.W. Riverside Drive) is a second-floor restaurant available for locals and visitors alike, and a main attraction for dining there is the river view. A wall of windows along the river’s edge offers a long look down the Ohio River. You may feel like a visitor; you’re not. It’s just a new perspective on your city.

Strip-Plaza Secret

Pizza Chef   Editors’ Pick

In a weathered strip plaza long past its glory days is a restaurant with wood-paneled walls, local sports memorabilia, and interior neon signs. Pizza Chef (4938 Highway 261, Newburgh) feels as if nothing has changed in 40 years, except for the steaming pizza that’s carried from the oven to the lunch buffet. The spread is an admittedly weird mix of salad bar fixings, country cookin’, and crisp thin-crust pizza. Go for the pizza.

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People

Trainer for the Weak-Willed

Tony Maslan   Readers’ Pick

In 1998, Tony Maslan deadlifted 611 pounds, then a Junior American Deadlift record. Later, he’d win a bodybuilding contest. Maslan is not here to bulk you up, though. As the owner of Custom Fit Personal Training, he’s here to make you fit and healthy — often with his trademark humor.  Evansville Living once asked Maslan his advice for eliminating the dreaded muffin top. “Push away from the table,” he said.

Civil Servant

Eric Williams   Readers’ Pick

Eric Williams begins his second and final term as the sheriff of Vanderburgh County this year, and when he speaks about his position, he talks less about crime statistics and more about community. “I do feel — and it’s purely a feeling — that we’re on the right track,” he once told Evansville City View, “that there’s a sense of honor and pride to be part of the sheriff’s office.”

Most Creative Evansvillian

Bob Renock   Readers’ Pick

Bob Renock is a principal partner in Zero Echo Media, a local advertising agency offering services from video production to marketing research, but his creativity isn’t limited to the workplace. Our readers recognized Renock, who admits he was raised on Motown and pro wrestling, for his abilities in Web design, music, digital media, and more.

Homebuilder

John Elpers   Readers’ Pick

Nearly 30 years ago, John Elpers began working in the construction industry. Today, he heads John Elpers Homes, a company dedicated to building family-friendly homes. It’s the perfect fit: Elpers is a family man who proudly displays his family of five on his business’ website.

Voice to Wake Up To

Micah Schweizer   Editors’ Pick

At 6 a.m., when we’re rolling out of bed and brewing coffee, WNIN’s Micah Schweizer is clocking in to host NPR’s Morning Edition on 88.3 FM. The onetime German teacher turned reporter/producer knows there’s more to radio than a great voice. When it comes to reporting, Schweizer chooses quiet insight over noisy sensationalism, and he knows how to connect with his audience across the airwaves.

Woman on the Move

Andrea Hays   Editors’ Pick

When the young, energetic Andrea Hays accepted a job as program director of the Welborn Baptist Foundation’s move•ment initiative, she shouldered a huge responsibility: Encourage Evansville, a city with high rates of overweight, obesity, and associated health problems, to eat well and get moving. She walks the walk. At a recent Welborn Baptist Foundation event, when a speaker asked how many people had purposely parked their cars at the back of the lot, Hays’ was one of a few hands in the air.

Community Muscle

Tom Petrig   Editors’ Pick

When construction began a year ago on the new Evansville Arena, Tom Petrig looked at the building schedule and knew it would be tight. The challenge is achievable — says Petrig, the superintendent of subcontractor Deig Bros. — and worth it, considering the multimillion-dollar project needs to evoke a sense of community pride. Petrig keeps spirits high on site with a sense of humor. When asked if he’ll attend the first event in the arena (a men’s basketball game pitting the University of Evansville and Indiana University) in November, Petrig jokes, “If I live that long.”

Real Estate Agent

Carol McClintock   Readers’ Pick

After a varied career that included stints as the city’s director of parks and recreation and work in public radio and TV, our readers say Carol McClintock has found her true calling. As a Newburgh-based broker associate with F.C. Tucker Emge Realtors, she’s been named the company’s top real estate agent for the region and the state. Gov. Mitch Daniels tapped her expertise for the Indiana Real Estate Commission, a government-appointed body that shapes the real estate profession in Indiana.

Sports Coach

Marty Simmons   Readers’ Pick

Marty Simmons may have lost more than 100 pounds, but there’s still a huge weight on his shoulders: to return the University of Evansville men’s basketball team to greatness. So far, it hasn’t been a slam dunk, but the road to the top has had positives — including a triumphant win over Butler University (then a top-25 team) this season.

Nonprofit Leader

Linda White   Readers’ Pick

Linda White is president and CEO of Deaconess, a health system of six hospitals and more than 40 sites across the Tri-State. White, who began her healthcare career as a registered nurse, exudes compassion in the health system and in the community. From serving on countless nonprofit boards to taking the stage at Evansville ARC’s Really Big Show, White has been known to do most anything for a good cause.

Local TV Personality

Mike Blake   Readers’ Pick

In the TV industry, often said to have a revolving door of anchors and reporters, Mike Blake’s 40-plus-year career at WFIE is an anomaly. The Northern Indiana transplant is a definitive Southwest Indiana staple: From sports reporting to anchoring, Blake has covered every aspect of our city, and guests are booked on his midday show months in advance.

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