Glitz, Glamour, Girls:
1. Best Happy Hour
Chuy’s Mexican Restaurant
Chuy’s serves authentic Mexican food with fresh ingredients. They offer a signature margarita with fresh-squeezed lime juice as well as the hand-shaken Texas Martini made to order, to name a few! During happy hour, they also have a make-your-own nacho bar with fresh chips, salsa, chile con queso, and more.
Honorable Mention: Vello’s
2. Best Bar/Lounge:
This high-end wine bar is the perfect place to meet a date or have drinks with clients. Dispensing stations where customers can choose to taste dozens of different wines by the sip, half glass or full glass is the main draw, but the lounge also offers hard liquor, beer and light appetizers.
Honorable Mention: World of Beer
3. Best Charity Gala:
The ViVA annual charity gala has sparked quite a buzz in the health care community; donations and sponsorships related to the event allow Haven Hospice to provide medical care to many patients who cannot afford to pay their bills. Next year’s event will be held on April 12 — don’t miss out on a great cause!
Honorable Mention: Gainesville Gone Austin
4. Best Clothing Boutique:
Need a new outfit to spruce up your seasonal wardrobe? down-to-earth boutique has unique, stylish apparel and accessories for you and your little one. Head over to their Facebook page, where they plan out entire outfits to eliminate the fashion guessing game to keep you looking your best!
Honorable Mention: Pink Narcissus
5. Best Cocktail:
KC Crave is a restaurant of many tastes. Along with great food options, they also turn up the charm with splendid cocktails. From the Slap and Tickle cocktail that combines pineapple and jalapeno to the Perfect Pear Champagne cocktail and the Moscow Mule, there are drinks for all. Not a cocktailer? Not a problem. The drink menu is complete with signature martinis, wines and beers.
Honorable Mention: Dragonfly
6. Best Jewelry:
Lang Jewelers is located in the Tioga Town Center and has jewelry and amenities for every occasion, from game day to yard work. Looking for the perfect earrings to match the dress or just broke the chain on your favorite watch? Lang has you covered with jewelry and watch repair, custom designs and jewelry appraisal.
Honorable Mention: Klaus
Cloud 9 Spa Salon
Gainesville’s award-winning sanctuary for stress-relief. Cloud 9 prides itself on exceptional customer service and extraordinary treatments. Check out their ad on page 85 of the December/January issue of HOME or visit their website to see the litany of wonderful relaxation, beauty and wellness services they provide.
Honorable Mention: Skin Solution
8. Best Hair Salon:
6th Street Station Salon
The 6th Street Station Salon is a full-service hair salon dedicated to excellence in cuts, colors and other services. In addition to top-of-the-line hairstyles and products, they also offer skin and nail treatments.
Honorable Mention: Salon 119
Table for Two (& maybe the kids…)
1. Best Deli:
Located in Tioga Town Center, Dave’s Deli offers the New York deli experience in the heart of Gainesville. They serve everything from classic pastrami and corned beef to cold subs and salad platters.
Honorable Mention: Hogan’s
2. Best Brunch:
Flying Biscuit Cafe
Offering a wide variety of southern choices with a lighter twist, Flying Biscuit Cafe is the ultimate stop for brunch. People line up out the door just to try the sugar-coated biscuits and creamy grits. They also have lunch options that include fried green tomatoes and shrimp & grits.
Honorable Mention: Cafe C
3. Best Catering:
Omi’s Elegant Catering
Omi’s offers catering for any event, from weddings and graduations to Gator tailgates. They coordinate every detail to match an event’s decor and will even create custom recipes for a special occasion.
Honorable Mention: Blue Water Bay
4. Best Burger:
Embers offers an upscale dining experience with high-quality food and service as well as an overall ambience. They serve only USDA Prime-cut meat and use a combination of pecan, hickory and cherry wood for the perfect grilled flavor.
Honorable Mention: Relish
5. Best Pizza:
Piesano’s serves stone-fired pizzas ranging from the spicy Palmero Special to old-world Rustica thin crust pizza, or you can always design your own! They have dine-in, delivery, takeout and catering options, and also offer a wide range of Italian entrees and desserts to go with your pizza pie.
Honorable Mention: Blue Highway
6. Best Seafood Restaurant:
Wahoo Seafood Grill
A lunch or dinner seafood craving calls for a trip to Wahoo Seafood Grill, which boasts some of the best seafood from local fisheries. Start your meal with an order of gator tail or crab cakes, and then treat yourself and a loved one or two to various categories of locally sourced oysters and seafood. Who needs to go fishing when Wahoo provides the full experience.
Honorable Mention: Ballyhoo Grill
7. Best BBQ:
Adam’s Rib Co.
Head over to Adam’s Rib Co. for mouthwatering fresh and fast barbeque favorites any day of the week. After being drawn to the smoky scent wafting from the front doors, you cannot go wrong with an order of the famous ribs, a pulled pork sandwich or smoked turkey accompanied by a few savory sides including seasoned fries, fried okra, or macaroni and cheese. Don’t be surprised if you need a forklift to haul you and your full belly out!
Honorable Mention: 4 Rivers Smokehouse
8. Best Mexican Food:
Have a fiesta and get your fill of the wide variety of Mexican food that the vast Chuy’s menu has to offer. Hungry customers can dive right into a Chuychanga or “Big As Yo’ Face” burrito, while the health-conscious consumer can check out a “Lite Combo” plate. The high-quality food and fun, festive atmosphere make dining at this Tex-Mex restaurant truly an experience.
Honorable Mention: La Tienda
9. Best Southern Food:
Southern Charm Kitchen
Want a true southern food experience complete with all the home-style fixins’? Southern Charm Kitchen has a true “charm” that puts you in the muck of the best of southern foods from breakfast, lunch or dinner and from corn succotash to apple dumpling dessert.
Honorable Mention: Blue Gill Quality Foods
10. Best Italian Restaurant:
An Italian dining experience is just as much about the ambiance as it is about the food. This family-owned Northern Italian restaurant boasts quality Italian dishes that are all made in-house. The popular eatery fills quickly, so a reservation for your date night or event gathering is recommended.
Honorable Mention: Piesanos Stone Fired Pizza
11. Best Steak:
Embers Wood Grill
Satisfy that craving for a tender, juicy steak at one of the best locations in town. The 100 percent prime beef cuts of meat, including the prime porterhouse and the prime New York strip, will show you what a truly superb, well-cooked steak is like.
Honorable Mention: Mark’s Prime Steakhouse
12. Best Chef:
Byron at Blue Water Bay
Blue Water Bay mixes a fine dining experience with good food and an inviting atmosphere. Again and again, the Melrose restaurant and Chef Byron bring visitors and regulars back to the classics with a varied lunch, dinner and brunch menu. The fresh fried oysters and applewood smoked bacon wrap, Florida gator tail or the BWB combo with an eight-ounce ribeye steak and six fried shrimp all conjure the taste of dining on the waterfront – a Chef Byron specialty.
Honorable Mention: Briton Dumas Ember’s Wood Grill
13. Best Dining Experience:
Manuel’s Vintage Room
Whether you decide on a cup of coffee and creamy tiramisu or a glass of wine and veal porcini, Manuel’s lures you back to its plush seats and cozy dining experience. Waiters keep your glass full while hosts provide smiles and charm to make sure you enjoy your meal at Manuel’s.
Honorable Mention: Ember’s Wood Grill
14. Best Late-Night Food:
When closing time and last call approach most restaurants, Flaco’s is just getting its groove on. Known for Cuban cuisine, tacos and burritos on the fly, this downtown joint is packed to the brim in the wee hours of the morning. Hot pressed sandwiches, arepas and empanadas are just a few of the items available when you have an appetite.
Honorable Mention: Relish
15. Best Restaurant Downtown:
Dragonfly Sushi and Sake Company
Although widely known for its top-of-the-line sushi, Dragonfly also offers sashimi and grilled dishes served in smaller, tapas-style portions. Combine The Bomb specialty roll with sautéed edamame, lettuce wraps and an order of grilled shrimp, plus drinks or sake from the bar, and you and friends have made a meal to remember.
Honorable Mention: The Top
16. Best Bakery:
Dream Day Cakes
Dream Day Cakes is Gainesville’s premiere bakery specializing in custom cake creations. Their fully licensed bakery can create a custom cake for any celebration or event.
Honorable Mention: Uppercrust
17. Best Frozen Treat
Yogurtology is the No. 1 place to stop for a frozen treat to brighten any kind of day. They have 12 rotating yogurt flavors, including Lochte Lemon Drop and Champion Chocolate. They also feature a wide selection of toppings from fresh fruit to candy bars, “sloppings” such as caramel and hot fudge and “bottomings,” including waffles and brownies.
Honorable Mention: Sweet Dreams
18. Best Dessert:
Splurge a little to satisfy that sweet tooth with a dessert selection sure to please even the most selective dessert connoisseur. Get your chocolate fill with the 7 Layer Black Mountain Cake or share a Raspberry Velvet Tart with your sweetheart — although these desserts are so good, you may not want to share!
Honorable Mention: Mildred’s Big City Food
19. Best Place for Coffee:
The CYM Coffee Co. serves organic coffee alongside tea and pastries. It also offers a quiet place to study and chat while sipping some of the best coffee in town
Honorable Mention: Coffee Culture
20. Best Location for a Date:
Imagine all the things that make date night great, and ambiance, stellar service, a delectable menu, tasty drinks and a fun partner may come to mind. KC Crave has the food and drink covered; you just supply the date.
Honorable Mention: Half Cork’d
Mind, Money, More:
1. Best Golf Course:
Gainesville Country Club
The Gainesville Country Club golf course stretches more than 6,900 yards beneath century-old oak trees. In addition to the championship layout golf course, the club offers a driving range and separate chipping and putting practice areas.
Honorable Mention: Mark Bostick Golf Course at the University of Florida
2. Best Gym/Workout Facility:
Gainesville Health & Fitness
Gainesville Health and Fitness is designed to be the first and only step you need to get involved in fitness. The wide selection of fitness classes, training programs and expanded facilities make the gym the ultimate source for fitness in Gainesville.
Honorable Mention: Go Primal
3. Best Car Dealership:
Tomlinson Motor Company
Tomlinson Motor Company is a family-owned and -operated car dealership and service center. Their dedication to customer service and pressure-free car shopping has made them a favorite in the community for more than 30 years
Honorable Mention: Mercedes-Benz of Gainesville
4. Best Locally Owned Business:
Crime Prevention Security Systems
Crime Prevention wants to equip your home with the best in-home entertainment, and then they devise a system to make sure that all of your valuables remain safely in your possession. Crime Prevention, Custom Home Entertainment and Universal Security Monitoring comprise the backbone of Crime Prevention.
Honorable Mention: Quality Design Works
5. Best Place to Purchase Orange and Blue Gear:
Gator game days require some serious, albeit over-the-top, orange and blue pride. If you’re in a bind and heading to UF to cheer on those Gators, there’s no better stop than right across the street from campus at Gators Plus. Stop in to stock up on your Gator T-shirts, Tervis tumblers, and orange and blue galore, from clothes to accessories for your car and home.
Honorable Mention: Gator Mania
6. Best Construction/Custom Builder:
Barry Rutenburg has a thousand homes worth of experience, has helped develop 10 communities and was president of the Florida Home Builders Association, so there is little to wonder why he is considered an authority on construction and home building in North Central Florida. He continues to make marks in the home market with Arthur Rutenburg Homes.
Honorable Mention: GW Robinson
7. Best Financial Institution:
Campus USA Credit Union has benefits for customers of any age. With numerous locations in Gainesville, their branches are easy to reach and the staff is agreeable, knowledgeable and helpful during each visit. Free is good, and free checking is better.
Honorable Mention: Florida Credit Union
8. Best Local Radio Station:
Whether you’re tuning in from your car, your home or your laptop, 98.5 KTK will bring you the music selection from the 80s, 90s and now. The radio station keeps the music rolling, has engrossing DJs and, if you’re still looking for more, the website has blogs, contests and Club KTK.
Honorable Mention: KISS 105.3
9. Best Remodels:
Quality Design Works
Quality Design Works specializes in kitchens and baths, making it unique to the design-build terrain of North Central Florida. With 25 years of experience, this team brings the best to renovation and building.
Honorable Mention: Robinson
10. Favorite Coach:
“Billy the Kid” worked his way up through the ranks from college player at Providence to a year of NBA time, but he eventually found his way to the UF basketball courts. He is now in his 18th season with the Gators and has added back-to-back national championship wins and five SEC championship wins to his resume. This season looks just as promising.
Honorable Mention: Mary Wise
11. Favorite Athlete:
At 6 feet 7 inches tall, there is plenty of Will Yeguete to love. The senior forward is from France, but he always dreamed of becoming a Gator. Last year, he averaged five and a half points a game and made the 2012 SEC Academic Honor Roll. Yeguete has also proven himself valuable overseas, where he earned a bronze medal for France in the 2011 FIBA U20 European Championships.
Honorable Mention: Tim Tebow
For the Kids and the Kids at Heart:
1. Best Local Attraction:
Look out over the 88,548 seats in “The Swamp,” and realize why the vastness of the stadium draws crowds from around the nation. The wild, competitive atmosphere on both sides of the stadium keeps opposing teams on edge during every game.
Honorable Mention: La Chua Trail
2. Best Place to Have Fun with Your Children:
Splitz Bowling Alley
Splitz might have taken its name from the bowling attraction, but the venue includes many activities to please the entire family. Cosmic bowling, private lanes, laser tag, an arcade and the Thirsty Gator sports bar and grill all offer a great place to play, eat, and watch games. Plus, Splitz is a great place to celebrate, with party packages available for kids, adults and corporate functions.
Honorable Mention: Westside Park
3. Best Recreational Facility:
When whistles aren’t blowing on the field, attempt a workout on the famous “gator mountains” – walking from row one to row 90, or run “snakes” up and down the bottom rows of seats. Mix in squats, push ups, abdominal exercises and even give the ramps a try – your legs will remember the workout for days.
Honorable Mention: Hawthorne Trail
4. Best Cultural Attraction:
Butterfly Rainforest – UF/FL Museum
Butterflies and birds fly uninhibited at the Butterfly Rainforest, part of the Florida Museum of Natural History. Visitors view tropical flora and fauna and live butterfly releases, and they also have access to butterfly feeding stations. The array of flowers and butterflies changes regularly, so there is a new experience with each visit.
Honorable Mention: Itchetucknee
1. Best Bicycle Store:
Chain Reaction Bike Shop
A bicycle store has stood near the current Chain Reaction location since 1947. Whether it’s off-road full suspension, screaming fast hard-tails, full carbon road, game day rental bikes or beach cruisers, Chain has the bike you need and the service to support it.
Honorable Mention: Mr. Goodbike
2. Best Dog Groomer:
Haile Plantation Animal Clinic
Staffed with a team of carefully selected veterinarians, the Haile Plantation Animal Clinic provides services for all of your pet’s needs. Their commitment to personal care and promoting a family atmosphere makes it an easy, comfortable choice for dog grooming.
Honorable Mention: Doggie Styles Pet Spa
3. Best Consignment Shop:
Looking to embark on a discounted shopping trip to get rid of gently worn clothes — while putting some money back in your pocket? Plato’s Closet combines the appeal of getting rid of clothing stuck in the back of your closet and buying apparel and accessories marketed at up to 70 percent off mall retail prices. Low prices mean you can fill that space right back up with new-to-you items!
Honorable Mention: Sandy’s Consignment
4. Best Dry Cleaners:
Since 1983, Quality Cleaners has provided Gainesville with top-notch cleaning services for any clothing need. Along with superior dry cleaning, leather cleaning and alteration services, Quality Cleaners has upheld their promise of quality by including weekly specials and selling an eco-friendly garment bag, The Green Garmento™. Whatever the stain, they won’t let you down.
Honorable Mention: On the Spot Dry Cleaning
5. Best Home Health Care Service:
You can rest easy when you know that Comfort Keepers is providing care solutions for seniors to assist in maintaining an independent, comfortable lifestyle right from home! A myriad of helpful personal care, transportation, safety technology and meal preparation services allows the senior health and home care service provider to excel in quality assurance.
Honorable Mention: Home by Choice
6. Best Home Cleaning Service:
A Personal Elf
The home maid and concierge services provided by A Personal Elf will potentially make you believe you actually have your own elves helping out around the house. With residential and business cleaning services that include everything from errands to laundry as well as specialty services such as holiday and event party assistance, A Personal Elf is your go-to cleaning service to get those pesky cleaning worries out of the way.
Honorable Mention: Pristine Clean
1. Best Wedding Venue:
Sweetwater Branch Inn
Imagine saying “I do” at a picturesque gazebo covered in flowers or in the middle of a lush garden. From ceremony to reception, take advantage of the idyllic banquet rooms and beautiful accommodations provided by Sweetwater Branch Inn for any event. With an accommodation capacity of 250 guests, this venue assists all spectrums of the event process including catering, guest rooms and an event planning staff ready to make your special day come alive!
Honorable Mention: Thomas Center
2. Best Photographer:
Randy Batista Photography
In need of a professional family portrait or a commercial photo shoot for your business? Look no further than the high-quality photography and artistic styling of Randy Batista Photography. Allow his keen eye for beauty and fresh perspective to revitalize photo shoots of all subjects, from products and merchandise to people or play.
Honorable Mention: Footstone Photography
3. Best Photo Spot:
Biking, hiking, canoeing and kayaking, picnicking and wildlife observation are just a few of the activities where visitors can get “the perfect shot” at Paynes Prairie. Whether the picture is of family and friends or the wild horses, alligators and birds, the prairie is the perfect spot. There is a 50-foot tower near the visitor center, and, if you’re willing to hike for your film, there is an observation tower at the end of the La Chua Trail.
Honorable Mention: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
4. Best Florist
Floral Expressions Florist
With best-selling red rose arrangements, modern designs and themed bouquets,
Floral Expressions creates beautiful fresh flower arrangements for every occasion. They offer same-day deliver throughout Gainesville and nationwide.
Honorable Mention: The Flower Shop