Since 2001, Evansville Living has featured the “Best of the City” story. Each year, local people, businesses, restaurants, and more are voted the “Best of” in their category by the community or chosen as an editor’s pick.
From Best Burger (won by GD Ritzy’s in 2001) to the Prettiest Street (won by Southeast First Street in 2001), the “Best of” Evansville is voters’ chance to share their knowledge and opinions about our city. While voting for the 2021 “Best Of” ended last week on June 30, the fun is just beginning.
As we plan, calculate, write, and tally this year’s “Best of” reveal in Evansville Living’s September/October feature, we’ve been reflecting on past issues. Here are some of our favorite winners from 2016 to 2021.
Trickiest Teen (Editor’s Pick): Christopher Hiett
In 2016, Christopher Hiett was a 15-year-old skateboarder with big dreams. He got his start at 11 years old with Killer Skate Park and Shop (5700 E. Morgan Ave.) and competed in many competitions.
Five years later, Hiett has moved to California and is now an amateur skater for skateboarding company Powell Peralta. The 20-year-old has secured sponsorships with Powell Peralta, Fallen Footwear, Bones Bearings, Bones Wheels, Arcade Skate, and more.
Best Local Instagram Account: Flutter Newburgh
Best Local Comedian (Editor’s Pick): Rachael Goldman
Best Local Band: Calabash
Formed in Nashville, Tennessee, Calabash has been an Evansville favorite since 2009. Playing original and diverse-styled music, the band frequents local stages such as Lamasco Bar and Grill.
Throughout the pandemic, the group kept its audience busy with live-stream acoustic performances and soundboard recordings of past shows. This summer, catch Calabash back on the stage and ready to rock.
Best Place to Buy Local Artwork: Rumjahn Gallery
Best Park for a Picnic: Burdette Park
Best Place to Geek Out: High Score Saloon
With 12 pinball machines, 18 arcade games, eight taps of rotating beer, and a variety of appetizers, High Score Saloon (323 Main St.) is a home away from home for geeks, nerds, nostalgic gamers, casual drinkers, and everyone in between.
Owners Clint Hoskins and Jared Neible recently opened a family-friendly location, High Score Player Two, for open arcade play, events, and birthday parties for the classic arcade gamer of any age.
Best Community Effort: Mickey’s Kingdom
Best Veggie-Friendly Restaurant: Pangea
While the Tri-State has become home to multiple dining options for vegan, vegetarian, keto, and gluten-free diets, Pangea Kitchen (111 S. Green River Road) won most veggie-friendly in 2019.
Pangea’s vegetarian plates such as the Pad Ka Pao and rice (Thai Basil with tofu instead of chicken) are fan favorites that diners can’t resist no matter their preferences.
Write-in: Magic Man Collin Culver
We were blown away by write-in winner Collin Culver’s bag of tricks. The magician found his passion at six years old and created the Magic Man Collin Culver business with his wife Ashleigh almost four years ago.
Since his win, Culver has continued performing at local schools, birthday parties, private lessons, and even YMCA summer camps.
Best Way to Go Vegan: Vegan Eats and Treats
Best Gift Shop: River City Coffee and Goods
Sometimes, it can be hard to choose a favorite winner, so we always chose our favorite categories. While some categories have winners holding on to their title for consecutive years, other bring new names and faces to the table each issue. Here are our top three favorite “Best Of” categories from 2016 to 2020 that show both the growth and traditions of the River City.
Best Local Beer
This popular category has come in many shapes and sizes over the years, being as broad as best beer to more narrow and adjacent like best bourbon selection. No matter the wording, “Best Local Beer” winners are always guaranteed to quench your thirst.
Best Bar/Restaurant Draft Selection, 2016: Gerst Bavarian Haus
Best Local Beer, 2017: Tin Man Brewery
Best Bar Bourbon Selection, 2018: Fidel’s Bourbon Bar and Cigar Lounge
Best Place to Grab a Local Brew, 2019: Turoni’s Pizzeria and Brewery
Best Place to Grab a Drink, 2020: Blue Bar at Sauced
Best New Restaurant
These local digs have served your favorite meals in the Tri-State since they first debuted on the dining scene.
Best Radio Personality
Another category with flexibility, the best radio personality has also included best radio station, best media personality, and more. While it’s been tweaked to include as many voting options as possible, the community has spoken, and one winner and her station have come out on top four years running.
Best Radio Personality, 2017: Claire Ballard
Best Radio Station, 2018: 96.1 (featuring Claire and the Hot 96 Morning Show)
Best Media Personality, 2019: Claire Ballard
Best Radio Station, 2020: 96.1 WSTO (featuring Claire and the Hot 96 Morning Show)