The Best Of 'Best Ofs' of 2011

A round-up of the strangest city highlights from alternative weeklies around the country

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Alternative weeklies and city magazines serve vital roles in their communities. They run Dan Savage’s column. They pick on local politicians no one outside of town has ever heard of. They rewrite weird items from police blotters. And they rank things. Really random things.

Just about every city rag worth the actual paper it's still printed on publishes a “Best of” issue, an annual ode to local burgers, microbrews and martini bars. The lists are a great cheat sheet for out-of-towners (and great reading material when you’re stuck in a 45-minute wait to eat one of the best burgers in town because someone has written said burger joint up in a best-of magazine, ruining its hole-in-the-wall allure).

We love these lists. And since Atlantic Cities has been compiling its own set of lists this week, we thought it would be fitting (and easy) to borrow from them. And so, without getting too meta, here’s our list of the best oddities from Best Of issues from alt weeklies and city mags around the country.

Best Diaper Service in Chicago: A company called Bottoms Up, because their “cloth diapers are eco-friendly, hold newborns’ poop better, and lead to earlier potty training." Chicago Magazine

Best place to get a pixie cut in New York City: Three Squares Studio. Be sure to ask for a guy named Jordan Blackmore (as a bonus, this colorist "famously took Marc Jacobs blue”!). New York magazine

Best running store for people who would rather walk in Seattle: The Sneakery. This is the place "for those who prefer to walk, but run when they have to." This is apparently an issue for a lot of people in Seattle. Seattle Weekly

Best endangered club venue to beat the extinct list in Miami: Transit Lounge. The city survived "a scary moment when we heard this most hallowed of live music and boozing institutions was closing its doors after ten years." But it lives on in 2012! Miami New Times

Best food truck in New Orleans: Taceaux Loceaux, "a food truck serving gourmet tacos, like the 'Messin' with Texas,' a soft taco filled with brisket, cabbage, radish and cilantro." The Gambit

Best circus art revivalists in Austin: Sky Candy, which offers both aerial dance performances and "classes based on a variety of traditional midair forms: trapeze, silks, ropes, and more." Austinites who've always wanted to learn how to do one of these things, make note for your New Year's resolution. The Austin Chronicle

Best multicultural sports league in Portland, Oregon: the Oregon Cricket League, which plays "basically baseball for nerds: less physically demanding and more strategic, with cable knit sweaters and periodic breaks for tea." Willamette Week

Best place to get an old-fashioned shave in Nashville: From a guy named Michael Martin at Parlour & Juke. He specializes in "traditional haircuts, beard trims — 'Nothing drastic: If it's too neat, it looks prissy' — and most notably, straight-razor shaves." Nashville Scene

Best restaurant where someone else pays in St. Louis: Mike Shannon’s Steaks and Seafood, for those times when “you don't require just the steak, the greens and the potatoes, but also the white tablecloths, the heavy silver, the obsequious servers whisking the china plates off the table.” Riverfront Times

Best butcher shop in Dallas: Rudolph’s Market & Sausage Factory. "If you’re a hunter, you’ll be happy to know they’ll butcher the bambi you bagged in South Texas." D Magazine

Best farmer’s market in suburban Boston: Newburyport Farmer’s Market, where the fare "ranges from standard-issue fruits and veggies to raw honey, locally caught fish and shellfish, and sustainably raised goat meat." Boston Magazine

Best fiddle repair in Denver: Von’s Violin Shop. "Have an instrument that needs help? Von's won't string you along." (It was the best fiddle shop, but maybe not the best pun.) Denver Westword

Best reading series in a gay sex club in of San Francisco: K’vetch. You may see a guy named "Multi-Tasking Michael" reciting Hamlet from memory. Naked. SF Weekly

Best community garden for bringing a community together in Atlanta: the English Avenue Community Garden, which was "created in 2008 after residents cleared an overgrown corner lot in Vine City that was littered with trash and abandoned cars." Creative Loafing

Best prenatal massage in Charlotte: Urbana City Spa and Teabar, where "you’ll feel the healing power of a tender, gentle massage that will alleviate preggo aches and pains and quell swelling." Plus, they have anti-stretch mark oil! Charlotte Magazine

Best place to buy a vinyl in Columbus, Ohio: Magnolia Thunderpussy, a local institution that “keeps a steady flow of bestsellers and obscure rarities in stock, so vinyl junkies of all stripes can find something to geek out about.” When looking for it, though, you may just want to ask for "Mags." Columbus Alive

Best "Cougar" bar in Memphis: Spindini, "It's the kind of place you don't frequent unless you've got some cash to plop down, making it even more conducive to attracting young professional men." Memphis Flyer

Best place to break up in Los Angeles: Pacific Park. “After about 15 minutes of the heavy crowds, you’ll both want nothing more than to get the heck out of there—and go your separate ways.” Los Angeles Magazine

Best pork on wheels in Providence, Rhode Island: Hewtin’s Dogs Mobile. Aim for "the chorizo sausage with egg salad and the bacon-wrapped pork loaf" at this food truck where the motto is, "if it ain’t in a casing, it ain’t worth tasting." The Providence Phoenix

Best place to get a beer cocktail in Cleveland: Market Garden Brewery & Distillery. Because sometimes "downing anything besides beer just feels wrong, almost embarrassing." Ask for the Shoreway Cooler beer cocktail. Cleveland Magazine

About the Author

  • Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific StandardGOODThe Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.