Best Of 2011

Best Rocktitude

Showtime Clothing's Dan Tartarian
5708 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-875-9280

When Dan Tartarian opens his shop's doors, he doesn't wait long to see his first customer stroll in. Said customer's usually a musician or is in some way tied to the city's music community, or is a kind of sartorial strutter into a particular scene, or it's likely they've known Tartarian for years and play into his penchant for shootin' the shit.

Coming up on 22 years in business, Tartarian's approach to being a clothier follows the old adage about ailment and doctors; as long as one exists we'll need the other. As long as there's a thriving music scene, there's a need for Showtime. The shop carries staples, with hats, shoes, pants, T-shirts, buttonups, motorcycle jackets, trench coats and even guitars. And, it's the only place where you can buy a mandolin, a set of handcuffs, killer miniskirts, a Nashville button-up, a gas mask, a riding crop, a head-to-toe Kiss brand Gene Simmons outfit, and a Made in Detroit zip-up and creepers. It's as if Tartarian raided closets of Janis, Hendrix, Trent Reznor, Stone Temple Pilots, Rancid, Slade and Sgt. Pepper's-era Beatles. Guitar cords, picks, strings and slides are in close vicinity to rolling papers and incense. Tartarian knows his client.

Many of his visitors — from, say, your average customer to Crud to the Contours — often arrive ready to talk Detroit. See, Tartarian's a concerned citizen, an old school Cass Corridor guy — a Detroiter through and through. He sees, for example, the recent Midtown rebranding and subsequent efforts to commercialize the cultural district, where his shop is located, as an attack on the neighborhood.

What's the difference between Cass Corridor neighborhood and Midtown, you ask?

"We lost our blind pig customers, guys with cash in their pockets. The guys who ran numbers would come in here, the mob guys, the motorcycle gangs, they'd all come in," Tartarian says.

From the '70s to the '90s, Detroit's underworld helped support this clothier. "They're pushing the motorcycle gangs farther and father out of the city. They all had money from illegal enterprises, but they had money. Unlike the casinos, who are the guys running numbers now, don't put the money they make back on the streets. I'd rather have the guy on the street running his private, neighborhood enterprise than greedy big business."

Tartarian sees the positives of rejuvenation, but says "At what cost? Fuck Whole Foods. Fuck Trader Joe's."

And don't get him started on the "hipsters."

Actually, do, but bring him a coffee and a CD of something local that you're listening to.

"I've seen and dressed a lot of bands, a lot that've been able to break out of here," Tartarian says. "There's been Trash Brats, Sponge, Kid Rock, Eminem and ICP. There's Sista Otis and Brothers Groove, Ty Stone, The Sights, Doop and the Inside Outlaws, and Whitey Morgan." Sponge's Vinnie Dombrowski is probably his fave.

"I like music, so I'm always out seeing bands." he says. "My social life is my business life. What can I say? I'm hands-on."

A perennial MT Best-of winner, Dan Tartarian's Showtime Clothing is a Detroit cultural hub; there's no other place like it. - Travis R Wright


Best Way to Get Free Culture

Museum Adventure Pass

Available at more than 200 libraries in nine southeast Michigan counties, the passes grant patrons free admission to dozens of museums and other cultural institutions. Use your library card to check one out for a week. They're available on a first-come, first-served basis, using a library card, and allow two or four people entry on each pass, depending on the location. Sponsored by Macy's, the passes are in their fourth season. We'd suggest you make a small donation during your visit.


Best Wedding/Event Planner

Adrienne Nutter, Fandangle Event Designs
Grosse Pointe Park; 313-566-9221;

From 300-guest weddings to corporate gigs to small retirement parties, Fandangle's proprietor Adrienne Nutter makes them all special for those lucky enough to attend. If brides, grooms and other party hosts are looking for a personalized event, Fandangle is up for the challenge — as big or as intimate as the clients want. Nutter, who has a degree in art history and is a bit of a font-phile, coordinates graphic design elements and color schemes in printed materials from the Save-the-Date to the Thank-You cards. Ordering online is easy, but who wants what everyone else had? One of Nutter's clever favorites: elements that are multi-use. Think wedding favors that double as seating cards, centerpieces that double as favors. Saves money and impresses guests with the creativity factor.


Best Unique Wedding Venue

Model T-Plex
461 Piquette St., Detroit;

Formally known as the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex, the T-Plex brings that perfect blend of Detroit grittiness and automotive history assembled with a creative approach to modern entrepreneurialism. Where else would a largely intact factory be rented out for formal parties? A Motor City original for a Motor City event, that's what the T-Plex can be. And don't worry, with the right designs it can be plenty elegant. Located in the New Center area, the building maintains its red brick exterior, albeit with modern graffiti on some walls. Inside, it's a step back in time with original fixtures, firewalls and flooring. Various Model T's and other early 20th century Ford models are on display. Anyone can rent strolling swans; who can have vintage cars?


Best New Reason to Join a Gym

Love's Pies
Eastern Market Shed 2

Stumble upon Love's and you won't find a phone number, website or Facebook page. There's no fancy packaging, slogan or suave marketing guru vying for your hard-earned dollars either. All there is are small, custard pies, sold four at a time. And they're to-die-for. Perhaps the best kept secret (not for long) in Eastern Market, these silky and sweet pies blend classic Southern technique with French finesse. The Chess Pie and sweet potato custard pies transcend expectations. Taste it to believe it.


Best High-End Audio

David Michael Audio
4341 Delemere Court, Royal Oak; 866-961-4423

Get this out of the way first: DMA wins this award every year for good reason: There's no better place in southeastern Michigan to buy the world's best-sounding stereos. More, its shop owners, David Kasab and Jeffrey Block, are not audio snobs. They are, in fact, two rather amiable gents whose childhood music obsessions turned into an adult belief that everyone who cares about music should be able to hear it as it was intended to sound by its creators. The shop carries the world's most killer handmade brands from this country and the U.K., such as Harbeth Pass Labs, Esoteric, Bel Canto, Nordost and more. And whether you're in a high tax bracket or saddled with pocketbook problems, the DMA guys can work with most any budget to assemble a killer two-channel stereo that will see you rediscover your whole music collection. Sound matters and music is important, why devalue and short-change it?


Best Record Store on the West Side

Dearborn Music
22000 Michigan Ave, Dearborn; 313-561-1000

No, music on hardcopy is not dead. Nor will it die. Music on vinyl or disc is simply a paradigm that's shifting over to those who care about music enough to not want to trivialize it with sonic reducer MP3s and unsexy computer files on barely imaginable clouds. Some like to own. Some like to hold. Some like to collect. Some like records scattered around them as they lay around listening on the bedroom floor. At Dearborn Music you can count more than 50,000 titles in stock, including up-to-the-minute imports from Europe, Japan and elsewhere, and a whole room (with listening stations) for blues and jazz freaks. There's another area for classical heads, and a sunken room for Rock 'n' roll and R&B, and so on. DM's expanding vinyl section includes thousands of new (including 180-gram pressings) and used, and one can't skip DVDs, Blu-rays, pop culture trinkets and assorted ephemera. This well-run, organized shop has lasted more than 50 years in these parts.


Best Record Store on the East Side

Melodies and Memories
23013 S. Gratiot Ave., Eastpointe; 586-774-8480

OK, there ain't a store like this anywhere. It's also, strangely, one of the more overlooked ones in this part of the country. Don't get started on the Motown history here, it's so rich you'll sometimes even run into an old Motown artist — or his sister — shopping here. It's Eminem's favorite record store in Michigan, and he says so. You'll find the Midwest's largest selection of boxed sets. It's a digger's dream and you can peruse tens of thousands on LP, tens of thousands more on CD, cassette, 8-track and 78, from country, rock 'n' roll, jazz, blues, avant-garde, gospel and so on. It takes whole rooms to house the shop's selections — a couple even for its dance titles alone, another for its classic and pop rock, one for its jazz and R&B, one for its kraut rock, punk, techno and used, and another room for its blues and soundtracks. It often has three stereos going at once, playing different music in different rooms. The place is huge and doubles as a lovely altar to pop culture and music from every decade.


Best Strictly Used Record Store

Record Collector
327 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-548-9888

Back when the Record Collector was located at Grand River and Lahser in Detroit, it was the only area record shop that'd carry albums by punk rock racists Skrewdriver. Why? Because they thought it humorous to see supremacists having to 1) cross Eight Mile into Detroit and 2) purchase it from the owner's sole employee, an African-American, who also thought it funny. That's the kind of place RC is — erected with a refreshing shortage of self-seriousness — and one of many reasons why we dig it. It's also beautifully ramshackle, it employs local indie band members, it isn't self-consciously hip; it just, well, is. It doesn't have to try. And its thousands and thousands of titles are wide and varied and all pre-owned, from punk rock underground to new age modern classical to Midwestern Disco funk to rare modal jazz to all the country, pop and rock 'n' roll shit you can swallow. Let's all lift a toast because this RC celebrates its 30-year anniversary this year.


Best Record Store for In-Store Performances and to Buy New Detroit Music

512 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-545-5955;

In the last decade, Royal Oak hasn't had much to crow about cool-factor wise. It's become your basic open-air mall. In recent years, the opening of a vintage clothier, sushi lounge, contemporary lowbrow gallery, crêpe joint, beer corner store and vinyl art shop have helped to bring back some true funk to this bursting burb, but did little to make up for the closing of at least three record stores.

But all hail the opening of UHF records! In-store performances, tons of hip merch — posters, bumper stickers and nickel-size buttons — and bulging bins of vinyl, and lots of it local, has us frequenting this joint and upholding its fuck-the-odds philosophy.


Best New Indie Label

Five Three Dial Tone Records

Making up for their Eat This City blog, baghead Jasper and blowhard Jay got their shit together last year to actually do something productive. That something: A vinyl-heavy record label featuring some of the city's more promising indie acts. The first release on 53DT was Deastro's Spritle in 2009, a release that was, in old-school record biz lingo, downright visionary. The label was quiet for about a year, then, starting with 52 Week High's Eznovah, they went on a "visionary" tear, dropping two Lettercamp records, then a couple seven-inch EPs from the Satin Peaches and Illy Mack. During Blowout this past March, they sold 333 cassettes of their White Stripes tribute, Hello Operator, featuring high talent in Mick Bassett, Will Yates, Child Bite, Carjack and Lightning Love, to name a few contributing acts. Speaking of Blowout, on May 21, 53DT will release Phantasmagoria's debut EP, on vinyl, at the Belmont. Dudes have their finger on Detroit's indie rock's emotive energy.


Best Video Store

Thomas Video
4732 Rochester Rd., Royal Oak; 248-280-2833;

The original and still the champ, Thomas Video was the pioneer back in the hazy days of Betamax and LaserDisc, and now with Netflix, streaming and the mammoth chains continuing to bellyflop, they seem intent on being the last video store standing. Eternal punks Jim Olenski and Gary Reichel still firmly believe that a video store should be a repository of cinema art and wisdom, not just an anonymous grocery store box you dump Cheeto-stained copies of Yogi Bear into. The vastly knowledgeable and occasionally friendly staff at Thomas will guide you through the video wasteland into a wide world of cult, sci-fi, horror, foreign, anime, comedy, classics and more that you can't get anywhere else anymore.


Best Local T-Shirts

Down With Detroit

The simple screen of Tom Selleck's face under a Detroit Tigers cap is captioned with "W.W.M.D." Or perhaps you'd love to sport "I partied at the Manoogian." Other shirts pay homage to Russian Red Wings, Wayne Fontes and "M.F.I.C., 1974-1993." Designs reflect the state and city borders, neighborhood names and lakes and rivers. Sometimes they're timely: "Ernie is my Tiger" was a best-seller in the weeks following his passing. For quirky slogans, vintage images (Boblo boats, anyone?) and unique showings of Detroit and Michigan pride, shop here.


Best New City Brand

Aptemal Clothing

Here are a few gem phrases we've seen plastered on T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts around town in the past year; chances are you've seen 'em, too: "Brown Weed is for Suckas!" ... "Make Moves Not War" ... "Hoes Hate Me." You've seen them, right? Yes? No? OK, try this one: "Detroit Hustles Harder." That one's inescapable, to the extent that it's become somewhat of a new Motor City mantra. The Aptemal crew (now selling a killer $5 Detroit Hustles Harder compilation CD) can be found hustling at Eastern Market's Division Street Boutique and hustling harder at almost every local hip-hop show around town.


Best Vintage Clothing Store

Rachel's Place
2124 Pine St., Detroit; 313-964-9008

This two-year-old shop in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood is chock-full of vintage duds, from triple-digit designer pieces to breezy summer dresses available for less than $20. Occupying two floors of an ancient brownstone, the shop's wood floors practically creak under the weight of countless garment racks filled with top-notch men and women's vintage wear in a range of sizes and styles. The shop also features a wide selection of hats, jewelry, coats, purses and shoes. Intimidated by so many choices? Just rely on the bubbly and ever-smiling proprietor Rachel Leggs to steer you in the right direction.


Best Reuse of Old Skirts

Lovely Bag Ladies

Two nimble-fingered art history grads joined creative forces to form Lovely Bag Ladies. The product they're hawking? Stylish purses created from vintage fabrics and materials, mainly, vintage skirts. Sharmila Majumdar and Kaytee Querro hand-sew their fabulous and functional bags in Ferndale, and each one is made from at least 98 percent recycled materials, making them environmentally as well as style savvy. They come in a variety of colors, styles and materials, featuring simple design ranging from birds and pandas to hot air balloons and flying saucers. Many also sport the original buttons, zippers and pockets of the skirts they're fashioned from. You can buy your very own through their Etsy shop or at Hybrid Moments in Ferndale.


Best Place for a Splurge on a Dress

Third Floor at Saks Fifth Avenue, Somerset Collection
2901 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-643-9000;

Ascending the escalator into this wonderland of silk and taffeta is a combination of Alice falling down the rabbit hole and Charlie discovering what's inside the chocolate factory. Sure, it might cost you (or your significant other) the better part of a paycheck, but there are sales where deals can be had. And there are times when, frankly, quality wins out over the thrill of a bargain find. Sales manager Denise Kulak understands all that. She'll work with your budget, your figure and your personality to help you into the perfect flirty cocktail dress or elegant ball gown.


Best Food Delivery Business

Hot Spokes

Take-out delivered via bike may not be big news in most major cities, but as are many things, it's a bit of a novelty in Detroit. But novelty or not, it also makes sense — pedaling from Midtown to downtown takes noticeably less time than fighting traffic and hunting down a parking spot (and who ever has change for the meter?) Enter Hot Spokes, a recent upstart delivering lentil burgers and dumpling from three Midtown eateries — Shangri-La, Union Street and Cass Cafe — to New Center, Woodbridge, downtown, Cass Corridor and the medical center. Delivery is available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and costs a mere $3. Just call the restaurant to order, then sit back and relax while your food speeds toward you on two wheels.


Best Barbershop for Football Talk

The Clip Joint
8260 Cooley Lake Rd., Commerce Township

For 54 years, Jim Bastas has trimmed, shaved and cut hair, first at his northwest Detroit storefront, now in Commerce Township. And for 54 years, his customers have experienced his love for the Green Bay Packers. It's pretty obvious in his two-chair shop adorned with photos, signed helmets, ticket stubs and other memorabilia. Bastas, a Detroit native, switched allegiances from the Lions when one of his high school classmates was drafted by the Pack.


Best Way to Be on a Boat

Detroit Princess
Docked behind Cobo Arena; 877-DET-BOAT;

If you're ready to prance on an upper deck, wave at your friends on shore and proclaim, "I'm on a boat, take a good hard look," buy your ticket for a Detroit Princess cruise. Captain Scott will pilot the riverboat while guests eat, drink, dance and stroll the five levels, inside and out. You'll get stunning views of the Detroit and Windsor skylines, a bird's-eye view of Belle Isle and a great look at the expanse of Lake St. Clair. Enjoy a red wine on the starboard bow for weddings, birthdays, lunch outings or evening outings. Tuxedos, flippy-floppies and blow-up dolphins optional.


Best Happy Fishmonger

Diane Finken at Blue Bay Fish & Seafood
19561 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Woods; 313-824-3474

You'd smile too if you sold the freshest fish in town, crafted some of the best seafood soup and sent it all home with customers who you know will be more than satisfied. Diane Finken last year moved her fish and seafood retailer and catering from Grosse Pointe Park to a higher-traffic storefront in Grosse Pointe Woods. She's lost none of the quality and gained customers. Try the tart key lime pie, the creamy whitefish spread and the ever-changing specials Finken makes. Cooking classes have started too, so you can try to re-create her magic at home.


Best New Specialty Food Shop

Giuseppe's Oil and Vinegar
The Mall at Partridge Creek, 17420 Hall Rd., Space No. 199, Clinton Twp.; 586-263-4200;

And you thought "oil and vinegar" was simple, right? Sterling Heights residents Joe and Wendy Cucinello have just established this new business in Clinton Township, and the concept is novel: High-quality oils and vinegars. Right now, they stock a dozen different all-natural virgin olive oils from all over the world — including Australia, Sicily, Portugal, Tunisia and Chile. Not only can you learn each oil's "crush date," but they rank each on an "intensity scale." They also sell almost a dozen flavored extra virgin olive oils, in addition to white and black truffle oil. You'll also find more than a dozen dark balsamic vinegars (including blueberry?) and five light (including peach?). With their personal expertise, this sounds like a place to kick your salad dressings up about 10 notches.


Best Store for Locavores

15104 Kercheval St., Grosse Pointe Park; 313-432-2373;

Business partners James Folden and Michell Danel opened this store a few months ago, and held the official ribbon-cutting last week. Hoping to offer the widest possible dietary options for an increasingly sophisticated public, they both have agricultural backgrounds and have been involved with several urban farms in Detroit. What do they sell? Everything from local Michigan fish from North of the Huron to local organic free-range chicken, even local free-range eggs. Their cheese is from Detroit's Traffic Jam, and they offer locally roasted, fair-trade coffee, as well as smoothies and raw juices. This summer, they'll even have fresh, whole-fruit, sugarless popsicles. You can even mix up your own bowl of grain, salad, and other raw, cooked or cold ingredients. Sounds like a promising food business on the east side.


Best Leftover Advertising for a Former Business

Bricks in the outside wall of the Anchor Bar
450 W Fort St., Detroit; 313-964-9127;

It's a subtle, lingering bit of history, that geometric brick pattern on the outside walls of the Anchor Bar, watering hole of Detroit's ink-stained scribes. The Anchor building is the long-gone office of a brick company. The building was planned as a skyscraper but only made it up two stories when the Great Depression hit. As a sample display, the owner used a variety of bricks on the outside walls. Their variety of colors and textures make the walls one of the most unusual downtown.

Best Club Night in Oakland County
Best Bar for Under 30s
Best Sexed-up Waitstaff
Best Dance Club in the Suburbs

1815 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-589-3344;

Luna is famous for its cadre of fetching dancers, rightly priced drinks and nightly variety. Things get poppin' mid-week with electro-pop Wednesdays, where MGMT will get you one minute and Depeche Mode the next, but they go totally retro on Thursdays, when the Luna dancers twist, shake and shimmy to '80s jams. Fridays are for letting loose, and that's an easy gear to shift into with $2 "you call it" drink specials. And when cover band, Killer Flamingos, plays live on Saturdays, the place simply rocks.


Best Bar to Meet Someone - Tie

530 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-582-9460;

608 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-544-7900;

Sure there are myriad televisions vying for your attention, but at BlackFinn the scenery's mostly off-screen, all around you; babes and bros mingle hard in the saturated singles scene at this happenin' suburban bar and restaurant. There's also the occasional celeb strolling about, often with an air of entitlement. Whereas, a restaurant, bakery and gift shop, Pronto is also home to Video Bar — a thriving scene for southeast Oakland county's gay and transgendered community. With regular drink specials, Video Bar also hosts communal TV (both kinds) watching, with weekly viewing parties for shows (read: conversation ice-breakers) such as Ru Paul's Drag Race, Glee and American Idol.


Best Bartender

Andy French, Go Comedy!
261 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-327-0575;

Bartender Andy French's grizzled, tweed swagger is parallel only to his ability to create pun-riddled drink concoctions, such as "The Pickleback" and, our fave, the "Cool Hand Cuke." The man further revolutionizes the age-old drink-slingin' gig by gracing the Go! Comedy stage, where he performs and hosts improvised comedy with the kind of natural charm reserved for a bartender.


Best Club for the Libidinal (Horny) Crowd - Tie

530 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-582-9460;

Boogie Fever
22901 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-541-1600;

If you've always wondered why there's a line of people, in snow and rain, waiting to gain entry into the Royal Oak restaurant and bar BlackFinn, here's your answer: It's a centrally located joint with enough class to make even the most random hookup feel less cheap. And Boogie Fever, with its wacky dress code and retro soundtrack, has garnered attention in the last few years as a hot spot for lust-headed ladies and gents in their 30s and 40s — libidinal singles and scandalous attached folks alike. If you're hunting cougars, it's quite the sexy safari.


Best Dive Bar in Wayne County
Best Jukebox

The Bronx Bar
4476 Second Ave., Detroit; 313-832-8464

Even with last year's renovations, this Cass Corridor (OK, fine, Midtown, whatever) classic is still Detroit's most digable dive. Dimly lit, with two killer jukes, the bar is a mix of walk-ins and regulars, whose names can be found on the chalkboard that keeps a tally of drinks bought in advance.


Best Dive Bar in Oakland County

Gusoline Alley
309 S. Center St., Royal Oak; 248-545-2235

Some thought that Gus' would never be the same when the smoking ban went into effect. Wrong. Characters from all walks of life pack this place throughout the week. Sure, it smells better than it once did, but your shoes still stick to the floor and you're just as likely to get schooled from gents who could pass for bouncers but converse like professors.


Best Dive Bar in Macomb County - Tie

Dawg House
35965 Groesbeck Hwy., Clinton Township; 586-791-2773

Goldie's Saloon
45330 Romeo Plank Rd., Macomb; 586-286-6991

The Dawg House's greatness is apparent in its years-long collection of grime and grit, frightening those who don't belong but undoubtedly attracting eastsiders with foul mouths and unkempt facial hair. A 15-minute drive north gets you to the delightfully cramped Goldie's Saloon, a dark, wood-paneled bar known for its stiff drinks, cheap burgers and divey-good times.


Best Dive Bar in Washtenaw County

8 Ball Saloon
208 S. First St., Ann Arbor; 734-996-8555;

Any bar that calls itself a saloon better be some kind of den of lifer boozehounds and frothy mouths. The 8 Ball doesn't disappoint. If you thought Ann Arbor was all judgmental jocks, stuffy MBAs and myriad neo-hippie hipsters, perhaps a stop (for pitchers of beer) here is in order. It lives beneath the venerable Blind Pig, but, like its bouncer's beard, maintains a distinctive look and feel, which is apparent from the small side-door entrance, located somewhere down that dark alley. It's not just a dive, it's an adventure.


Best Honky-Tonk Bar

Club Bart
22726 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-548-8746;

If you've only been to Club Bart for breakfast, you're missing a whole different side of the Bart experience. On Honky-Tonk Night, the stage hosts some of the mainstays of metro Detroit's honky-tonk scene, including John Holk & the Sequins, Whitey Morgan & the 78's, Carrie Shepard, and — if you're lucky — you might come on a night when the Honky-Tonk Poetry Society is in full attendance. Eat it: The kitchen stays open late.


Best Irish Pub

Dick O'Dow's
160 W. Maple Rd., Birmingham; 248-642-1135

Birmingham is known for its bourgie boutiques and the like, so a trip to Dick O'Dow's always feels like somewhat of an escape. Cozy, the bar looks and feels older than it actually is, and there's something that suggests Tolkien more than Joyce, but still, it gives you an onslaught of Irish, from the beer to the food, and when there's soccer to be watched, watch out!


Best Karaoke in Wayne County - Tie

Big League Brews
20428 Ecorse Rd., Taylor; 313-406-6931;

LJ's Lounge
2114 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-962-0013;

Big League Brews is packing the place on Saturday nights to hear brave souls sing their hearts out. Hosted by Matt and his book of 90,000 songs, the bar rocks the karaoke tip from 9 p.m. to closing time. We hear the singers, who are as likely to pick rap as country, ain't half-bad. The lovable Corktown dive LJ's Lounge, sometimes referred to as the Slows Bar-B-Q Waiting Room, gets its karaoke rocks off on Thursdays for Terryoke. Terry has been in the biz for 10 years, and runs one hell of a night. Expect regulars and walk-ins to delight you with their renditions of favorites such as Seger's "Turn the Page" and "Sweet Dreams" by Eurythmics.


Best Karaoke in Oakland County

22740 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-591-3466;

Dino himself would be the first to tell you that karaoke is growing. It's such a popular attraction at this Ferndale joint that you can find host Michael Shea doing his thing every Wednesday and Friday. A total pro, Shea's been at it for seven years at Dino's, and 15 years before that. Dino calls him the consummate karaoke host king, because he keeps the night rolling smoothly, gets involved with the crowd, and is known to even joins in at times. In fact, it has become somewhat of a tradition for him to sing the Metallica classic "Enter Sandman," during which the crowd chants for him to take his shirt off! Not your mama's karaoke. Or maybe she's just awesome and it is?


Best Karaoke in Macomb County

MoonGlow Entertainment
Based in Eastpointe; 248-259-1917;

David Moon has been carrying the east side's karaoke community for 15 years. In the last 90 days, Moon says that his company, MoonGlow Entertainment, has entertained some 10,700 karaokeites. That's a lot of "Freebird." Tipsy McStaggers, in Warren, is bumpin' from Wednesdays through the weekend, when more than 150 boozers show up to watch, sing or both. Maybe they're vying for the current karaoke contest? First place gets $800 in cash! "The person who's up there singing is the most important person in the room," Moon says. "We're hired by the bar but we're working for the singers." MoonGlow not only handles karaoke at five bars in southeast Michigan, including Universal Lanes in Warren, but they also simulcast performances six nights a week at


Best Karaoke in Washtenaw County

Birdman Presents Hairy Karaoke at Woodruff's
36 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti;

First, if you will, a word about Woodruff's. If you've followed the Ypsi music crowd around town, then in recent months you've been playing hopscotch from the sorely missed Elbow Room to the ill-fated Savoy to Woodruff's. And what that really means is that you've witnessed a rare kind of patronage toward one man: Andy Garris. Say word? Word. As for the Birdman and his Hairy Karaoke? It's taking flight. Sorry — had to. It's replacing the Elbow Room Guitar Hero Karaoke nights of yesteryear. But it's even better. In fact, it's the best.


Best Happy Hour in Wayne County

1128 Washington Blvd., Detroit; 313-961-2500;

When Iron Chef Michael Symon opened this semi-swank eatery in late '08, it quickly became home to the hottest table in town. So, it's an obvious choice for weekend food adventures, but Detroiters are taking advantage of its decadent happy hour all week long. From 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, Roast offers up a happy hour menu that not only includes affordable pints of kind beer or glasses of wine, but a rich crock of mac and cheese, Parmesan and truffle oil french fries, tacos filled with the "beast of the day" and what might be the best burger in all downtown.


Best Happy Hour in Oakland County

Kona Grill
30 E. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-619-9060;

You don't immediately think of national chain restaurants when you think happy hour specials. And, around these here parts, you don't think of Troy as a city in which you might save a few bucks on, well, anything. Kona Grill is evidently quite the exception. During happy hour, signature drinks and eats start at just $4 and don't rise much higher. Arrive anytime between 3 and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, or Saturday between 1 and 5 p.m., to find out what all the fuss is about.


Best Happy Hour in Macomb County

Dooley's Irish Tavern
12414 Hall Rd., Sterling Heights; 586-323-3501;
32500 Gratiot, Roseville; 586-296-BREW or 586-294-5331;
235 N. Groesbeck Hwy., Mt. Clemens; 586-954-1800;

This mini-chain of bars sprawls across the eastside. Dooley's is known for a few things, including a lively atmosphere, going big for televised sporting events, such as Final Four and Opening Day, drinking holidays, including St. Patty's, and a scantily clad female waitstaff. But cheap beer, and lots of it, is Dooley's biggest claim to local fame. After all, they do boast themselves as "the original home of the $1 beer."


Best Happy Hour in Washtenaw County - 3 way Tie

18 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti; 734-483-8200;

56 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti; 734-483-1035;

The Earle
121 W. Washington St., Ann Arbor; 734-994-0211;

With two major universities in close proximity, it's no surprise readers couldn't agree what bar boasts the best happy hour. Haab's is a classic Ypsi joint. Totally unpretentious, they excel in things like potato skins and fried mushrooms and, during happy hour, $2 drinks. Sidetrack, another Ypsi staple, is known far and wide for its burgers and sandwiches, as well as the magnitude of its beer menu, a lot of which is Michigan-made and available in frosty 25-ounce mugs for just $3, while liquor drinks are priced half-off. In neighboring Ann Arbor, the Earle stands as a wine bar with one hell of a happy hour, offering a $3 mussel appetizer to die for and 20 percent off any of the wines that appear on their extensive list.


Best Bar for Sunday Funday - Tie

The Bronx Bar
4476 Second Ave., Detroit; 313-832-8464

Big League Brews
20428 Ecorse Rd., Taylor; 313-406-6931;

Friday and Saturday get all the attention. Sunday is basically the Jan Brady of the weekend, but, secretly, Jan knows how to party and she does so during daylight hours. Downriver, at Big League Brews, jocks can cop shots for just $3, and a bucket of beers will cost you a ten spot. At the Bronx, in Detroit, it's a different scene. There are no 200-inch hi-def TV screens, but there are two jukes and a pool table, as well as fully stocked Bloody Mary bar, replete with all the fixings, like spiced green beans and horseradish. They pour 'em heavy too.


Best Fetish Party or Fetish Night

Noir Leather's Hellbound
Parties occur at various Detroit locations. Contact Noir Leather at 248-541-6655;

Detroit's fetish community, dripping in pheromones, bound (and sometimes gagged) in latex, leather and lace, convene in hellfire club (look it up) rituals of debauchery at their frequent Hellbound parties, which happen about once every three months at venues around the city. Each Hellbound party is themed, from "Far East" to "steam punk" to "cycles, sluts and stockings" — and attendees in fetish attire are subject to in-store perks and floggings.


Best Dance Club in Detroit
Best Electronic Club

Leland City Club
400 Bagley St., Detroit; 313-962-2300;

Inside the dark, sweaty and semi-secretive confines of City Club, a favorite after-hours spot for adventurous Detroiters, industrial beats pulsate from speakers, leading goth nymphs and steam punk pimps down quite a sexy sonic journey. More on that below.


Best Bar for a Last Call Hookup - Tie

Leland City Club
400 Bagley St., Detroit; 313-962-2300;

Big League Brews
20428 Ecorse Rd., Taylor; 313-406-6931;

We imagine there are two very different kinds of hookups happening after last call at these two very different bars. Whereas you'll find drunk jocks looking to swing their bats and throw their balls for a few extra innings at Big League Brews Downriver, the goth gobblers at downtown Detroit's City Club might be more apt to trade a bat for a riding crop and a baseball for a ball gag. The next morning, however, might prove equally as awkward for both camps.


Best Club Night in Wayne County - Tie

Funk Night at the Majestic Theatre
4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700;

Hot Pot Thursdays at Motor City Wine
608 Woodward Ave., 313-483-7283;

After being an underground, storied staple of Detroit's nightlife for years, Funk Night is now readily available for the masses at the Majestic. It's as funky as ever, and has taken on a new vibe with the regular addition of the Will Sessions band and their frequent special guests, such as Motown session man Dennis Coffey and rapper Elzhi. Music's so funky, you can smell it. Thursdays at Motor City Wine, a shop and tasting room above the Grand Trunk Pub, are all about house and deep disco jams when resident DJs Guy LaFleur and Todd Weston man the decks. There's no cover and just room enough to get your groove on, with a good glass of cab sauv in hand, of course.


Best Club Night in Washtenaw County
Best Dance Club in Ann Arbor

The Necto
516 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-994-5436;

Necto, a perennial club category winner, succeeds in creating a nightclub for everyone by mixing it up each night of the week. Service industry folk gather on Sundays for cheap booze and Top 40 remixes; on Mondays, with $3 craft beers till 11 p.m., DJ Jinx gears sound toward the goth-industrial crowd (KMFDM, NIN, Garbage); expect anything from soul to house on Recreation Tuesdays; DJ Hardy and Professor Purple blast electro-house on Wednesdays; College Night Thursdays welcome clubbers 18 and up and deliver half-off all drinks till 11 p.m.; on Fridays, Necto transforms into what's one of the most hype gay club nights around; they go big with Frequency Saturdays, which they boast is the biggest weekly club night in the state. Which night is for you?


Best Lesbian Bar

1641 Middlebelt Rd., Inkster; 734-729-8980

Let's just get it off our chests, shall we? Is Stiletto's not the most curiously located lesbian bar around? It is! Despite it, those heels have kicked hard for damn near two decades. Congrats, ladies! We hear you really strut your stuff on Saturday nights, hosted by some vivacious Queen, and that Wednesdays are wild. Would who've thunk that Inkster was so progressive? Year after year, women from across the region exercise their right to vote — and to par-tay.


Best Gay Bar

928 W. McNichols Rd., Detroit; 313-863-3934;

Menjo's isn't one of those, well, seedier clubs you heard about from your best gay friend. That's not to say the party doesn't carry on in every room of the bar, because it does. Still, a trip to Menjo's is usually done with a group composed of at least a couple straight (or curious) friends along for an adventure on one of the more wild sides of Six Mile. Because it's welcoming to all doesn't mean it's not completely a gay bar though, 'cause it is wildly gay from the windows to the walls. They just kicked off a Wet Booty Contest. And that's only Tuesdays ...


Best Strip Club

The Penthouse Club
20771 W. Eight Mile Rd., Detroit; 313-541-7000;

The Penthouse Club has the best rep among all of Detroit's top-tier gent's clubs. Even if you've never been, you've undoubtedly heard that, unlike other clubs on the strip, the women here are beautiful, sober. The place has a sense of class, as much as a strip club can carry. Like their 12-ounce filet, valet is mandatory and worth every bit of the money. Gentlemen dine on their popular $20 New York strips and Alaskan crab leg specials on Saturday afternoons, and treat themselves to lap dances from Hanna Hilton, Heather Vandeven or Jamie Hammer for dessert. For hedonists who appreciate the finer things, Penthouse is like headquarters.


Best Burlesque Troupe

Detroit Dizzy Dames

Bringing cutesy, punkish appeal to the craft of burlesque, Detroit Dizzy Dames are a real-deal delight. You might remember troupe's libidinal leader Lushes LaMoan as the cover vixen from last year's Lust issue. The dames sing and shimmy, they tease and crack jokes, and they can dance in step as a group and are all savvy solo. The titillating silhouette shows are a fave crowd favorite. Dizzy Dames compete in the Burlesque Hall of Fame Challenge this May, and you can catch 'em doing their thing in June at a New Holland Brewery beer party at Cliff Bell's. Genius!


Best Bottled Beer Selection in a Bar

Ye Olde Tap Room
14915 Charlevoix St., Detroit; 313-824-1030;

There are very few bars, in Detroit and across the globe, that take beer as seriously as Ye Olde Tap Room. And they're ready and willing to prove just that, in bottle form, in more than 200 different ways. Born of a Prohibition-era blind pig, Ye Olde stands today as a veritable beer haven in which you can become a wobbly world traveler via their breadth (ales, lagers, porters, stouts, bocks, darks, etc.) of fine brew.


Best Draft Selection in a Bar

Berkley Front
3087 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-547-3331;

Belly up to the bar at the Berkley Front and you know you're in a serious beer bar. Choose from the various selections on tap on the ever-changing chalkboard, including craft beers, inventive black-and-tans and more. You could pound these brews, but tend to linger over them, as they stay good even after getting warm on the bar. Perhaps best are the "hand-pulls," which draw cellar-temperature beer into a glass without all the CO2: It's beer you can take a bite out of, creamy and delicious, exactly the way beer was poured for centuries, up until 100 years ago. We'll lift a toast to that.


Best Bar for a Martini

Centaur Bar
2233 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-963-4040;

There was a day and age when you ordered a martini and new exactly what to expect. Of course you could customize it — shaken, stirred, dry or dirty — but the basic ingredients remained. Centaur delivers a fine glass filled with classic contents, but Detroiters are all abuzz over their specialty martinis, which include abnormal yet delicious ingredients such as beets, pumpkin, basil, strawberry or apricot nectar. They even have a martini called the Wasabi. Guess what that tastes like?


Best Bar for a Bloody Mary

Vivio's Food & Spirits
2460 Market St., Detroit; 313-393-1711;

At Vivio's, it's all about the Bloody Mary. Oh, sure, you can get all sorts of excellent bar food, mussels, sandwiches and more. But they really put their Bloody Mary out there. They sell their own mix, put it in their logo, and even include the cocktail in their web address. What's more, they serve you a full pint of the restorative tomato-and-vodka potation, fortified with a generous pickle, and graced with a little sidekick of beer for good measure.


Best Bar for A Classic Cocktail

Cliff Bell's
2030 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-961-2543;

Cliff Bell's is a destination. Resplendent in its period-perfect speakeasy interior, the club's a terrific setting for live events (jazz, folk, storytelling) throughout the week as well as a much buzzed-about Sunday brunch. But it's their pre-Prohibition cocktails that crowd the bar. And we're not just talkin' Gin Fizz, Tom Collins, and Manhattans, but Salty Dogs, Rusty Nails and, of course, the Old Fashioned. Take a sip back in time.


Best Bar for Trivia Night

Woodbridge Pub
5169 Trumbull, Detroit; 313-833-2701;

Hosted by budding actor and GO! Comedy comedian Tommy Simon, the most happening trivia night in Detroit, Pub Stumpers, is going down at the Woodbridge Pub every Wednesday from 7:30 to 10:30. Operated out of Canada, Pub Stumpers gives Detroiters the chance to compete with trivia buffs across the continent, which satisfies the competitive urge of bookworms, pop culture junkies and history buffs. Each week, die-hards and newbies alike break into four to six teams to compete for a $50 gift certificate redeemable at, you guessed it, the Woodbridge Pub. It's not just students, artists, musicians and hipsters, either. Folks from the neighborhood, such as local business owners, Wayne State teachers, and all sorts of people come out. And if your team isn't kicking ass, you just might be eligible for a pity pitcher of beer! Duh, losing is winning!


Best Casino
Best Casino Poker

MGM Grand
1777 Third St., Detroit; 877-888-2121;

Since opening its doors in 2007, the MGM Grand casino and hotel has worked hard to earn a rep as Detroit's premier destination for poker and more. With top-tier hotel accommodations, customer service, three hot restaurants in Wolfgang Puck Grille, Bourbon Steak and seafood house Salt Water, and one exciting club, V, this reputable establishment is no stranger to our Best-of list. And of course, they're serious when it comes to gambling, with your favorite poker table in town. We're not bluffing.


Best Casino Slots
Best Casino Craps
Best Casino to See a Show

MotorCity Casino Hotel
2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit; 866-752-9622;

There's always a lot going on at MotorCity Casino Hotel. Not only did Detroiters vote these gambling grounds as sacred when it comes to pulling slots and shooting craps, but Sound Board has become one of the most eclectic venues in town, hosting everyone from Boyz II Men, Goo Goo Dolls, Hall & Oates and Cyndi Lauper to such comedians as Eddie Griffin, Jay Mohr and puddin' pop himself, Bill Cosby. Good times are alive and well at MotorCity Casino Hotel.


Best Hip-Hop Venue

St. Andrew's Hall
431 E. Congress St., Detroit; 313-961-6358;

Rappers touring this fine nation of ours, acts such as Snoop Dog, Jay Electronica, Devin the Dude and Lil B, book their Detroit shows at the legendary St. Andrew's Hall in Bricktown because it lends immediate cred and a kind of atmospheric intimacy. And it's a natural record-release venue for such local badasses as Danny Brown and Black Milk. We're also hearing rumors that some sort of regular weekly or monthly hip-hop night is coming back to the Shelter. Stay tuned. We'll see you there.


Best Hip-Hop Night

Blue Collar Gentlemen at the Old Miami
3930 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-3830;

On the first Friday of the month, hip-hop heathens congregate for the Blue Collar Gentlemen party at the Old Miami, a Vietnam Vet bar with more atmosphere than young Aretha had 'tude. Cover is only $3, and the talented cast of rotating rappers is legit to spit. You could catch local legends such as Guilty Simpson or Nick Speed, SelfSays or Invincible, or some of the United States of Mind cats, such as D. Allie, Eddie Logix, Metasyons and Asylum 7. There are up-and-coming rappers that take the stage, and out-of-towners, too. When you're looking for Detroit rap, look for the Blue Collar Gentleman.


Best Rock Club

The Magic Bag
22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-544-3030;

The Magic Bag isn't just a rock club bestowed with a great sound system. They don't merely thread a string of national and local shows together; rather, the MB folks continue to serve many masters, catering to all types of concertgoers by featuring all types of bands. They book quality, rock, blues and reggae acts throughout the year, peppering their event schedule with local record releases, Wednesday and Thursday Brew & View flicks, and even the odd tribute band. In other words, the Magic Bag ain't just a rock club, it's a melting pot of music cultures, and a cozy Ferndale hangout.


Best Comedy Club
Best Comedy Open-Mic

Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle
310 S. Troy St., Royal Oak; 248-542-9900;

Lewis Black, Bob Saget and Dave Attell are but a few of the first-rate national comics who yuk-yuk it up at Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle. For a night's worth of entertainment, the price is right, with tickets anywhere between $10 and $25. Of course, there are local showcases too. Wednesdays are just $3, which is cheaper than parking in Royal Oak!


Best Folk Venue

The Ark
316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-761-1818;

You really couldn't ask for more from a venue that specializes in folk. Dig how gracious staffers offer patrons an intimate experience in what rivals the most audibly affecting rooms in the region. If names like Bettye LeVette, Mavis Staples, Hoots and Hellmouth, Todd Snider, Leo Kottke, and Great Lakes Swimmers mean anything to you, then you know how this venue recognizes the folky side of soul, blues, bluegrass and rock music. And on select Wednesdays, the Ark opens its stage to 15 random performers who've thrown their names in a hat. It might be the best $3 you can spend.


Best Blues Club

2105 South Blvd., Auburn Hills; 248-858-9508;

Last year, Callahan's tied Royal Oak's venerable Memphis Smoke. With Memphis Smoke closing its doors after 16 years, Callahan's is the only big game in town for local blues musicians and nationally touring artists like Lil' Ed and the Imperials, who'll be there this Friday. Veteran Detroit blues musician and WCSX blues DJ Mark Pasman praises Callahan's for being more than just the last blues club standing. He gives the club props for having an ace soundman, Peter Jay, for paying musicians a fair wage in tough times, and for bringing in great groups "a la Sully's back in the day," to reference that great local blues club of yore.


Best Jazz Club

Cliff Bell's
2030 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-961-2543;

A great club with great atmosphere: You can't help but feel classier against a historic art deco backdrop. Also great drinks and food (French), making it a perfect place to spend a relaxing Wednesday, say, when R.J. Spangler's open organ jam is usually the musical attraction, or Tuesdays when it's usually the Dwight Adams Trio. The bigger names and weekends tend to crowd the club (not always with the most attentive bunch), making it harder to hear (hence a website note for next month's Lonnie Smith gig that a "listening room atmosphere will be enforced"). But even if it means some neck-craning from the back of the bar, what jazz fan doesn't want to catch, for instance, the annual Christmas holiday get-together of James Carter and the Hot Club of Detroit? The offerings aren't always jazz, so check first, if that matters.


Best Musical Open-Mic or Jam Session

Park Bar
2040 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-962-2933;

Every Wednesday at the Park Bar, some of the city's best strummers and singers meet up to holler and hone their tunes. Musicians the likes of Don "Doop" Duprie, bassist Katie Grace, and veteran music man Greg Hanson show up, as do newbs (like you?). It's always a busy night, the draft beers are cold and quality, and all are welcome. Bring your own acoustic guitar. Don't suck.


Best Sports Bar

Hockeytown Cafe
2301 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-965-9500;

With the Tigers and Lions playing within a few blocks, this restaurant and bar fills up fast for pre- and post-game foods and booze. When the sun's a-shining, Hockeytown's rooftop is one of the best places in town to catch a breeze and a buzz while cheering for the home team.


Best Local Beer

Motor City Brewing Works' Ghettoblaster

It started as a neat joke: a cocky little microbrewery naming an English-style mild ale after a jambox. But how has this brew lasted into the iPod age? Quality, baby: Slightly hoppy, with a solid malt-and-wheat flavor, and whiffs of nuts and caramel, here's one brew you're never too ill to swill.


Best Microbrewery or Brewpub - 3-way tie

Motor City Brewing Works
470 W. Canfield St., Detroit; 313-832-2700;

14600 E. 11 Mile Rd., Warren; 586-776-9428;

Kuhnhenn Brewing Co.
5919 Chicago Rd., Warren; 586-979-8361;

Our readers picked the best of all worlds with this tie: The urban, neighborhood microbrew feel of Motor City, with its enduring favorites, the open and lounge-like Dragonmead, with nitrogen-dispensed brews and high-ABV choices such as Final Absolution Trippel, and the high-ceilinged beer-hall vibe of Kuhnhenn, with its kick-you-in-the-face flavors and mouth-curdling sour beers.


Best Local Liquor

Hard Luck Candy Vodka

Born out of novelty, Grosse Pointe Park's Hard Luck Lounge came up with vodkas that came in two flavors: root beer and red fish (similar to but a trademark infringement away from red Swedish Fish). And the success has been phenomenal.


Best Vodka

Valentine Vodka
Valentine Distilling Co., 161 Vester St., Ferndale;

With a mission not only to buy as locally as possible — making vodka out of Michigan-grown grains, using Michigan labor — but to produce a stellar, single-batch vodka (eschewing corporate vodka's love affair with "continuous distillation"), Rifino Valentine launched distribution two years ago and now has more than 800 accounts in the state, as well as his own Ferndale tasting room.


Best Beer

Pabst Blue Ribbon

The best of the bottom shelf, here we have a working-class beer for a working-class city. Pabst Blue Ribbon — PBR (or Peeber) to those who order the stuff.


Best Scotch

The Glenlivet

The oldest operating distillery in the parish of Glenlivit, Scotland, here we have what might be the most famous single-malt scotch ever poured.


Best Bourbon

Maker's Mark

Famous for its sexy, red wax sealed top! or mix. Keep it classy, Detroit.


Best Gin

Bombay Sapphire

When this gin hit the market, in 1987, it did so in true Manhattan fashion. From modern cloth patterns to high design martini glasses, the launch campaign featured renowned artists and designers such as Marcel Wanders and Yves Behar. So, yeah, Bombay Sapphire is sexy from the inside out.


Best Tequila


Made entirely from blue agave, Patrón's stable of tequilas — Silver, Añejo, Reposado, Gran Patrón Platinum, Gran Patrón Burdeos and the coffee flavored Patrón X.O. — is top-quality booze. All of it, kids.

Best Indie Women's Clothing in Wayne County
Best Indie Men's Clothing in Wayne County

5708 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-875-9280;

Whether it's clothes, shoes, jewelry or accessories, this Midtown mainstay provides something funky, classic, sexy, one-of-a-kind or style-making for your wardrobe. Accommodating tastes from punk to rock, funk to rap and whatever other sound Motown shoppers seek, Showtime can outfit customers for daytime and nighttime escapades. Mounds of color, sparkle, texture and the requisite black beg you to paw through them in this place.


Best Indie Women's Clothing in Oakland County
Best Indie Men's Clothing in Oakland County

323 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-548-2980;

As any fashion conscious it-girl (or -guy!) knows, Incognito has been dressing southeast Michigan's hip and cool for decades. The inventory is inspired by the now-classic style of killer sounds — think 1980s punk rock England — but updated for 21st century trends. Incognito may not have "office casual," but who cares? The store helps you project a "life is badass and so am I" attitude, whether you wear those flashy boots or bod-hugging mini every day or just on special outings.


Best Indie Women's Clothing in Macomb County
Best Indie Men's Clothing in Macomb County


When convenience, wide selection of quality clothes, and economical prices matter, Kohl's fits the bill. Whether it's flouncy spring dresses, fun ties, staples like jeans and dress slacks or basics like socks and underwear, this department store offers it. And then, it has everything to complete you: perfume, purses, sports teamwear, pajamas and watches. All without breaking the budget.


Best Indie Women's Clothing in Washtenaw County - Tie

Orchid Lane
419 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-662-6446;

535 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-222-9600;

The fashionistas of Washtenaw never choose style over substance, instead opting for both, as with these two A2 boutiques. For 25 years, the family-owned Orchid Lane has worked at establishing a global fair trade community. The clothing, jewelry and housewares inventory reflects the mission: ethnic print skirts and scarves coupled with stylish cocktail dresses and handcrafted natural gemstone jewelry, for example. The decade-old Poshh features well-established designers, but also introduces new creative stylists too. Along with the racks of special-occasion dresses, you'll also find plenty of jeans and T-shirts for everyday dress-up.


Best Vintage Clothing in Wayne County

V-Male Detroit Vintage
23902 Van Born Rd., Dearborn Heights; 313-VINTAGE;

This small shop offers racks jam-packed with vintage gems from the '50s through the '70s — poodle skirts, tie-dyed jumpsuits, frilly formals, western shirts — you name it, they've probably got it. V-Male is also a favorite stop of Detroit's burlesque beauties thanks to its collection of new and vintage lingerie, from fishnet stockings and leopard-print bras to gold girdles and ruffled panties. Costume jewelry, hair accessories, pinup art, hair pomades, tiki mugs and footwear also line the shelves — inventory is updated often, so frequent visits are a must.


Best Vintage Clothing in Oakland County

Lost & Found
510 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-548-6154;

This downtown Royal Oak store has become a bit of a pilgrimage destination for hardcore vintage shoppers. But newcomers to such stylings should not be shy. The three floors of clothing, saved from even more decades, offer organization that even a first-timer can navigate. Consider it a treasure hunt, searching for a dress or scarf from a bygone era that you can then resurrect on modern-day southeast Michigan streets. If you still feel lost, rely on the incredibly savvy and helpful staff to find you the perfect piece. The price range ensures that you can spend as little as you'd like on everyday duds or as much as you can blow on some high fashion treat.


Best Thrift Shop
Best Vintage Clothing in Macomb County

Salvation Army

It's the breadth and the depth that make the Salvation Army a perpetual readers' pick in this category. In the past, the numerous locations have been recognized for the endless variety of merchandise, including household goods, toys and electronics. But this year, the vintage clothes get special notice. With some of the best prices in the resale market, the Salvation Army is a dependable shopping destination whether you're looking for something specific or browsing for what bargain you might score. Plus, profits from the stores fund the agency's rehab centers and residential housing facilities.


Best Vintage Clothing in Washtenaw County

The Getup Vintage
215 S. State St. Ann Arbor; 734-327-4300;

If the mod, super graphic-style font of the store's name doesn't give it away, a peek at the merchandise will. The Getup has decades of duds, mostly one-of-a-kind items, so buy it when you see it. The owner's passion for fashion is evidenced by the high quality of the threads spread throughout the store, and her frequent pilgrimages to find the perfect garments results in a constantly new and exciting selection. It may be easier to find that perfect wardrobe addition once you find the store: head in Mr. Greek's and up the stairs to the Getup.


Best Place to Buy Shoes

Designer Shoe Warehouse

For the uninitiated shoe lover, a first glance into the great expanse of a "DSW" might trigger troubling symptoms: quivering, drooling, pupil dilation, panting. ... No worries. A stroll through the miles of display and some trying on will cure the ailment. Then, the inevitable purchases are the final prescription. Because who can resist the vast sea of waist-deep shoes? And nobody does clearance like DSW. You didn't know you needed those red, patent strappy peep-toe ankle boots, but they have a purple tag and are only $17.


Best Eyewear Boutique

160 S. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham; 248-723-1900
308 S. State St., Ann Arbor; 734-622-8056
For more locations, visit

Glasses, at their essence, are a function item. They bring the world into focus and allow the wearer to observe all. But if you wear them — and even if you don't — you know glasses are so much more than just a way to see. They're fashion. They're an ice-breaker when you meet someone ("Oh, I love your glasses"). They're a statement about the person behind them. Which is why you need to pay attention to where you shop for them, and find SEE. The stores' selections of European frames have been created exclusively for this chain, but that hasn't meant prices have risen. Nope, you'll find affordable and unique specs here.


Best Indie Lingerie Shop

265 S. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham; 248-642-2555

The world really does begin and end with what you're wearing underneath. And whether that's supportive, functional, fun, naughty, classic or magical, women can find it at Harp's. The selection of styles is that plentiful, but even better is the trained sales staff. Harp's is known for its personal fittings and the staff will be sure that whatever you've got (or not), you find the right item to push it out, suck it in or hold it up.


Best Nail Salon

Rouge Makeup and Nails
23341 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-439-6010;

At this sister-owned salon, rouge means green. As in its vegan and organic products by Eve Organics and SpaRitual for makeup, skin care, manicures and pedicures. Who can resist an organic ginger essential oil soak for hands? The calming space — part Parisian boutique, part tranquil retreat — also offers vintage clothes and trinkets for sale.


Best Flea Market

2045 Dixie Hwy., Waterford; 248-338-3220;

It's for good reason our dear readers perpetually pick this Waterford haunt as the winner in this category. Antiques, collectibles, computers, music, household items, sporting goods, clothes, things you need, things you must have, are all for sale at this market. Admission is free when Dixieland is open, Friday through Sunday only, and if you need nourishment to keep shopping, four foodstands are on site. On the website, you can download a map before you go.


Best Antique Shop

Vogue Vintage
23622 Woodward Ave., Pleasant Ridge; 248-546-1555

Whether you've got something in mind or "you'll know it when you see it," Vogue Vintage will provide. Its plentiful stock of antiques — furniture is one of the specialties — is generally less than even gently used, and if you don't see what you're looking for at the store, ask the staff about the warehouse. That's where the real finds are stowed away. The store's pull is best exemplified by its eye-popping window displays, so artfully created and frequently changed that even the drivers hurtling down Woodward Avenue can't help but slow down and take note.


Best Makeup Studio

Todd's Room
239 Pierce St., Birmingham; 249-594-0003;

Let's face it (pun intended), there are times when your makeup just really has to be done professionally. Think engagement or head shot photo session, wedding, Metro Times Best-of party. ... And when it's that time, plan on an hour at Todd's Room, an annual reader's fave place to get your face looking its best. The makeup artists will work with you for a dramatic, classic or striking look. Eyebrow arching and manicures and pedicures are also available on-site.


Best Hair Salon in Wayne County

Curl Up & Dye

4215 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-833-5006;

Whatever social forces brought this gem to Midtown — entrepreneurial spirit, Cass Corridor revival, critical mass of nearby residents and employees, the Green movement — Curl Up & Dye is proving to be a destination for cuts, color and extensions. Readers picked it as a Best-of for hair care, but the shop also offers mani-pedis, massages, makeup, facials, waxing and ear candling. And all services have an environmental theme: Recycling is practiced as much as it can be, and product selection is mostly natural and organic.


Best Hair Salon in Oakland County

6 Salon
306 W. Sixth St., Royal Oak; 248-398-1586;

With 6 Salon's hours, no one has an excuse not to get hair cut, colored and styled by the professionals here. This Royal Oak haven is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, with Thursday hours extended until midnight. Saturdays offer standard 9-to-5 hours. That means busy parents, workaholics and professionals with erratic hours have plenty of opportunity to get looking their best. And 6 Salon isn't just known for the hours or the hair styling. Nail services, body waxing and airbrush tanning are also available.


Best Hair Salon in Macomb County

London Calling
27380 Gratiot, Roseville; 586-778-6379;

When you're ready to be "tressed to kill," here's your place. Featured in "Hair Wars," in 2004, the quirky salon offers exotic styling, dying and unique fun. If you consider your hair a material to be sculpted or a canvas to be colored, this is the place. Open six days a week — including 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Friday — the salon is one of southeast Michigan's relative few with Sunday hours too.


Best Hair Salon in Washtenaw County

Salon FraXure
338 S. Ashley St., Ann Arbor; 734-358-3603

When we read one client's review of Salon FraXure, describing it as "gothic elegance," we just had to check it out. Yup, a hint of goth but also a beautiful renovation job for this Ann Arbor salon. Comfortable, but the red walls will keep you energized, not like those pale pastels of so many hair places. Meanwhile, the style you're getting will only be the best. FraXure also offers ceramic technology for hair extensions. That means less heat but a stronger bond, extending the life of the extension.


Best African-American Hair Salon

Texture by Nefertiti
4147 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-4771;

Go natural. Forget the weaves and damaging straightening, embrace the braids and twists. Nefertiti has created not only a successful salon, but also what amounts to a cultural center for African-American men and women who are ready to celebrate — not be challenged by — their hair. Forget the chemicals, Nef is now offering a hot oil treatment locally made with herbs from her own garden. The Midtown establishment also offers skin care, nails and massage. Naturally.


Best Adult Novelty Shop

Noir Leather
124 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-541-6655;

Shopping for a bachelorette or bachelor party? Or just pretending to? Noir Leather will keep your secret. Lusty, kinky and curious shoppers have headed here for nearly 30 years for the store's selection of clothing, shoes, stockings, lingerie and, um, accessories. Take a look, or take something home.


Best Tattoo Shop

Lucky Monkey
308 S. Ashley St., Ann Arbor; 734-623-8200;

When it comes time for that sweetheart's name on your hip, that swirling design on your lower back, that bad ass MF statement on your shoulder, Lucky Monkey's artists are ready to create. The shop is responsible for the high-profile ink on a number of local celebrities, as well as on hundreds of satisfied customers. The shop also offers permanent cosmetics — eyeliner, lips, nipple coloration, whatever floats your boat. And if you're worried about such things, Lucky Monkey is officially licensed as a body art facility by the Michigan Department of Community Health.


Best Body-Piercing Shop

Lady Luck Tattoo
5310 Highland Rd., Waterford; 248-673-0670;

Best known among Waterford's finest inksters for owner Scott Budgen's body art, Lady Luck Tattoo also garners attention for Tiffany's piercing talents. The large selection of body jewelry is all made domestically whether it's glass, steel, gold or titanium. The shop itself is welcoming — a calming but daring shade of purple covers the walls up front. Private rooms in back are where the magic really happens.


Best Tobacco/Smoke Shop
Best Head Shop

B.D.T. Pipe & Tobacco
21640 John R Rd., Hazel Park; 248-542-6110
27419 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-776-5233;

Serving the enlightened lungs of Detroit smokers and tokers since 1973, B.D.T.'s has not only survived a fire, but two crippling economic recessions as well, proving once more that pot's potent power is not only fantastical, but financial. And there are almost as many ingestion methods as there are strains these days. You can vaporize, roast hookah, pack a ceramic cigarette one-hitter, rip a gravity bong, bubble it up in a bubbler, roll a kiwi-strawberry blunt, or, like an O.G., just twist a spliff to tuck behind your ear. And B.D.T.'s has you covered on all of that. We suggest you pick up a grinder while you're at it.


Best Michigan Product

Better Made Chips
Sold everywhere;

Is it the tingle of the Red Hot BBQ? The smokiness of the Rainbow chips? The bite of salt & vinegar or the thickness of the old-fashioned crinkle cut? Or maybe it's the originals, with their perfect balance of greasy, salty and crispy? Whatever your preference, it's no secret that Detroiters like their chips — and their chip of choice is Better Made, a homegrown fave currently celebrating its 80th anniversary. Check the website for celebratory specials.


Best Comic Book Shop in Wayne County

Green Brain
13210 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-582-9444;

A diverse selection of mainstream and small-press offerings has made Green Brain a go-to stop for the comic faithful. But the store is so much more than just, well, a store: It features a gallery with comic-themed exhibitions, hosts monthly comic jams, frequent artist signings and a huge Free Comic Book Day party. And the owners are active in the community, spreading the love of reading by supporting local learning institutions and organizing the annual Kids Read Comics Convention.


Best Comic Book Shop in Oakland County

Detroit Comics
23333 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-548-2669;

A welcoming atmosphere is the hallmark of this cozy shop, where novices and hardcore enthusiasts comfortably browse shoulder to shoulder among the well-organized shelves. Equally welcoming is the staff, who are eager to help and devoid of condescension (or at least really good at hiding it). The store also hosts monthly Nerdy Book Club meetings and a yearly visit from the area's only surly, rock 'n' roll Santa, Metalliclaus.


Best Comic Book Shop in Macomb County

Comix Corner
32032 Utica Rd., Fraser; 586-296-2758
861 E. Auburn Rd., Rochester Hills; 248-852-3356

True comic collectors hit up this eastside shop for its stellar service and killer deals. Along with fair prices on rare comics, Comix Corner offers faithful readers a way to get plenty of bang for their precious bucks with the Collector's Club — supply the shop with a list of your must-read needs and pick them up once a month at 25 percent off the regular price. With such a drool-worthy deal for die-hards, it's no wonder that Comix Corner has been stocking its shelves for nearly 30 years.


Best Comic Book Shop in Washtenaw County

Vault of Midnight
219 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-998-1413;

Even if you're not a comic book fan, it's hard to resist the pull of Vault of Midnight as you stroll down Ann Arbor's Main Street. The bright blue façade beckons passers-by; inside, colorful walls and oodles of merch — T-shirts, toys, artwork, games, etc. — continue the vibrant appeal. Located in Ann Arbor for 15 years, the shop's commitment to comics is evidenced by a comprehensive stock that includes issues dating from the '50s up to the latest, hot-off-the-press issues.


Best Indie Bookstore in Detroit

John K. King Used & Rare Books
901 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, 313-961-0622;

Don't be lulled by the searchable inventory on the website. That's only for the 20,000-30,000 items in the Rare Book Room. Properly shopping the other John King's book store means heading to the iconic former glove factory, climbing the stairs and entering a world of wonder, or at least four floors packed with wonders. Watch for glimpses of the store in the film The Double, starring Martin Sheen and Richard Gere, currently in post-production.


Best Indie Bookstore in the Suburbs

Book Beat
26010 Greenfield Rd., Oak Park; 248-968-1190;

Tucked into a strip mall, this indie book seller has plenty of new releases stuffing its shelves alongside the time-tested favorites and discounted remainders for your reading pleasure. It has Detroit books, children's reads, fiction, body-mind-spirit and collections for several other genres. A subscription to Book Beat's monthly online newsletter will ensure you don't miss author appearances and other book-related events at the store or at area libraries and other organizations.


Best Video Selection

Thomas Video & DVD
4732 Rochester Rd., Royal Oak; 248-280-2833;

This stalwart indie shop has retained its relevance in this era of Netflix and supermarket red boxes thanks to an amazing selection that encompasses everything from new releases and high-brow art flicks to low-brow thriller schlock and all manner of trashy cinematic oddities. Out-of-print movies, timeless classics, laser discs, shorts — Thomas has it all, complete with a knowledgeable and passionate staff that will help you track down whatever B-movie atrocity you're hankering to see.


Best Indie Record Store in Wayne County

Dearborn Music
22000 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-561-1000;

A sacred spot for music fans for more than 50 years, Dearborn Music houses tens of thousands of titles, including rarities, imports and new and used vinyl, as well as DVDs, trinkets, toys and memorabilia. Jazz, blues and classical are more than well-represented, and the well-organized and well-run store makes crate-digging a joy and spotting a specific disc a breeze.


Best Indie Record Store in Oakland County

512 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-545-5955;

A newbie to the record store scene, UHF has quickly become a favorite with Detroit scenesters since it opened its doors in September. Quality new and used vinyl is the specialty, along with the requisite dollar bins, new and used CDs and DVDs. Pristine rarities hang on the walls, while the local section is plentifully stocked. Weekly performances take place at the stage in the back of the shop; on the recent Record Store Day, more than 2,000 music fans crossed the threshold (digital be damned!) to scoop up the limited edition releases and check out performances from the Octopus, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and others.


Best Indie Record Store in Macomb County

Car City Records
21918 Harper Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-775-4770

You'd think any record store still standing deserves an award. But the hallowed Car City Records is one of those places where you'd go as a kid and learn everything about music from its staff, where'd you'd hang all day and listen to records, and let the music seep in. Just ask Eddie Baranek from the Sights; the dude spent hundreds and hundreds of hours at Car City. The place is glorious: crammed with cheap, well-kept vinyl, used and reissued. Lots of choice used and new CDs of all genres, most of which are the hard-to-find import variety. Thousands and thousands of titles, and it'd be impossible to list all the local rock stars who've manned the counter here.


Best Indie Record Store in Washtenaw County

Encore Recordings
417 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-662-6776;

Last year, Rolling Stone dubbed Encore one of the top 25 record stores in the country, and for music geeks who've ever stepped in the place it's no wonder why. Floor to ceiling shelves house a massive amount of new and used vinyl and CDs — jazz and classical titles, as well as locals past and present, abound. Stumbling upon rare gems is an everyday occurrence — but the goodies move fast, so don't hesitate. Encore also features an impressive collection of zines, books, handbills and other ephemera.


Best Store for Musical Instruments

Guitar Center
31940 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-296-6161;
for more locations, see

Guitar Center is the behemoth of instrument retailers — if it makes a noise, amplifies it, distorts it, records it or in any way aids any of those functions, they have it. Big name brands, used gear, frequent sales and online shopping — including access to their vintage collections located in Nashville, Hollywood and New York — all help make this retailer a frequent readers' pick.


Best Place to Buy Skates/Skateboard/etc.

Modern Skate & Surf
29862 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-545-5700
1500 N. Stephenson Hwy., Royal Oak; also Lansing and Grand Rapids; 248-546-PARK;

Whether you skate, surf, thrash or shred on asphalt, water or snow, what you need to be properly geared up is available at Modern Skate & Surf. But we don't have to tell you that, this retailer has been around for 30 years. Yep, back when fanny packs were cool. The place you shopped in the '90s is where you now take your kids. But you don't have to tell them that.


Best Bicycle Shop in Detroit

The Hub
3611 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-879-5073;

How can you not love a place that's making a difference on, with and for two wheels? Located in lower Midtown — the Cass Corridor to some — the Hub is a retailer, a repair shop and an advocacy organization. Drop off your gently used bike parts — come on, do you really need all those sprockets? — and shop for new stuff. Or just make a donation so the Hub and its partner, Back Alley Bikes, can continue teaching kids how to fix bikes and to help with Detroit's growing cycling community.


Best Bicycle Shop in the Suburbs

Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop
163 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-439-1892;

Owner Jon Hughes's DNA strands practically wrap around a gear sprocket. His grandfather, Mike Walden, not only opened Detroit's Continental Bike Shop in 1939 but also was inducted into the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame as a coach. Hughes' parents operated the shop as it moved to Hazel Park and later opened a Rochester-based cycling company. That means when you visit this Ferndale store, repair center and cyclists community center, you're in the wheelhouse of someone who can't help but understand your passion. Tuned into the recent craze for simple-yet-stylish retro single speeds and fixies, the shop offers a great supply of affordable options. Plus, Hughes encourages folks to bike by offering group rides, as well as leading a contingent to Detroit's monthly Critical Mass rides.


Best Indie Hardware Shop in Detroit

Busy Bee
1401 Gratiot Ave., Detroit; 313-567-0785

Legend has it this hardware store — located at the corner of Russell Street and Gratiot Avenue — can trace its roots to an entrepreneur who hawked tools and parts to early Eastern Market merchants who needed to make repairs while they were in the city. Today the landmark store caters to hipsters, long-time neighborhood residents, landlords and anyone else who wanders in. Antique mavens might get a kick out of some of the original signage around the store too.


Best Indie Hardware Shop in Suburbs

Frentz & Sons
1010 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-544-8111;

Frentz & Sons recalls the mom-and-pop hardware store that populates the small town Main Street of our nostalgic imaginations — creaky wood floors, large street-facing windows, shelves crammed with everyday tools and unusual parts, and knowledgeable owners who would rather send customers to a competitor than leave their needs unmet. This old-fashioned sensibility exists for good reason — the store opened in 1925 and the Frentz family — third generation — is still at the helm.


Best Florist

503 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-398-5153
1300 Broadway, Detroit; 313-964-5777;

Got an event? A friend who needs a get well, congratulatory or "just because" arrangement? Could your own dreary desk use the energy, color and lift that only fresh flowers and plants can provide? Find what suits your season, color palette, mood and style at Blumz's two locations — city and suburb. And it's not just flowers: Vases, picture frames and jewelry are just waiting for you.


Best Gift Shop in Wayne County

City Bird
460 W. Canfield St., Detroit; 313-831-9146;

Creative siblings Andy and Emily Linn were known around town for their line of paper products, jewelry and housewares for years. Then they nested in this Midtown retail space and added the work of dozens of local and regional designers, jewelry makers and other artists. They've opened a gallery and a studio too, but it's the front of the space, stocked full of City Bird and other products, where you'll find perfect Detroit gifts and souvenirs for our visitors.


Best Gift Shop in Oakland County

Catching Fireflies
117 W. 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-336-2030
203 E. University Dr., Rochester; 248-650-3318;

The name makes you think of those carefree days as a kid, when hoping to catch a firefly was a dream you could obtain. Shopping at this whimsical, colorful store can seem pretty close to those fun-filled childhood days. With bright, colorful, clever items, there's something for a gift, favor or "just because." Merchandise changes by the season. Look for citrus-colored purses, pastel flowerpots and whimsical garden art this time of year. And who doesn't need a sugar cookie-scented air freshener all year long?


Best Gift Shop in Macomb County

The Road Show
28500 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-779-7623;

The bewildering range of goods available at the Road Show may raise the eyebrows of the uninitiated, but no doubt it's the eclectic merch that keeps customers coming back. Snarky T-shirts and unusual clothing? There's plenty. Star Wars and comic book memorabilia? Check. Posters, stickers and candles? Sure. Exotic pets including lizards and tarantulas? Um ... yeah. Smoking accessories, collectible weapons and porn? Why not? The claim of "something for everyone" is usually hyperbole, but, at the Road Show, it just might work.


Best Gift Shop in Washtenaw County - Tie

Middle Earth
1209 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-769-1488;

Acme Mercantile
111 W. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-213-3722;

Both these Ann Arbor indies carry their fair share of whimsical, novelty gifts — come on, if you don't need a case for your business cards with a comical robot on the cover, you know someone who does, right? The same goes for candy cigarettes, absinthe mints, and fois gras gumballs. But Acme is also known for its selection of fun and functional household goods, from toasters and kitchen clocks to pet care items and shower curtains; while Middle Earth boasts interesting designer jewelry, clever coffee table books and a great collection of kitschy postcards.


Best Place to Buy Detroit Products

Pure Detroit
See for three Detroit locations

Sure the Eminem-Chrysler Corp. ad was a bit of video genius, but for the printed, wearable, edible Motown imports, check out Pure Detroit. Not to be confused with Pure Michigan, the state's brilliant tourism marketing effort, Pure Detroit is, well, all the T-shirts, accessories, food items (Sanders toppings! Yum!), hats, artwork and photography that are big pieces of our city's identity. We like the books, too, that range from internationally acclaimed authors to local interest publications.


Best Jewelry Store

Tapper's Diamonds & Fine Jewelry
Various locations, see

Let's face it. When you want to land the girl of your dreams, guys, you've got to do it with some sparkle. That means the perfect engagement ring. And when you want to keep her happy over the years? That means bling for her wrist, neck and ears. Metro Detroit has no better jeweler to help you with that than Tapper's. And just in case anyone loves the guy enough to find him a watch, this 30-year retailer has more than a dozen lines of timepieces that will help you show him he's appreciated.


Best Jewelry Repair

Mount n Repair
205 Pierce St., Birmingham; 248-647-8670;

Trust. Our readers, again, trust Mount n Repair with some of their most precious possessions when they need a little TLC or maintenance. Whether you need basic repairs, restringing, resizing or some serious "renovation" done, the jewelers at Mount n Repair will do it with care.


Best Place to Sell Your Gold

Tapper's Gold Exchange
Various locations, see

If it's time to find some instant cash in exchange for your old gold, platinum and silver, Tapper's Gold Exchange associates will be happy to help. As a fully licensed precious metal buyer, Tapper's will weigh and evaluate all items in your presence. And if you host a gold-buying party, look for another 10 percent on your take. Cha-ching! (Not to mention the opportunity to get rid of that ex-boyfriend's tasteless piece!)


Best Indie Furniture Store

Bright Ideas
220 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-541-9940
22110 Telegraph Rd., Southfield; 248-352-5811;

Some of it's just fun to look at; most of it you'd actually put in your house. Catering to a range of budgets and styles, this downtown Royal Oak mainstay is easy to browse and nearly as easy to buy from. Whether you're looking for one accent piece for your established room or a whole new set of furniture, Bright Ideas will have something to make your house a bit homier.


Best Place To Buy Home Accessories

41640 Ford Rd., Canton; 734-981-6300;

Not all of us live in 400 square feet. Not all of us want matching shelving, cabinetry, bed frames and other furniture pieces throughout our houses. But if we do — and for the vast majority of us in between those extremes — Ikea has what we need. It's often on display in creative model interiors that help those of us less visually inclined to imagine our homes with a great new look. Bring a bit of patience, since the store is huge, and you'll need some more if you plan to assemble your wares — lots more for the more complex assembly numbers. But once they're put together, they're worth it. The Swedish designs also blend well in a variety of styles: modern, classic, antique or retro.


Best Medical Marijuana Strain

Sour Diesel

We're told it's one of the strains that easiest to acquire, but there may be more than familiarity at work here; Sour Diesel's healing effects are also among the highest, readers say. Perhaps that's because of its relatively high THC content, perhaps some other magic. Whether it's your choice for migraines, persistent back pain, glaucoma pressure or other ailments, this strain is also known for its strong odor. So if you're growing it or carrying it, you might want to prescribe extra precautions for yourself.


Best Growshop

The Cultivation Station
Various locations, see

So you wanna be a farmer, eh? Wanna take a stab at that bubonic chronic hydroponic? Awesome. It takes a lot of work, equipment and expertise, you know? But if you're willing to put in the time and have a few grand to put into a setup, the Cultivation Station has you covered on the equipment and expertise. See, they're not just trying to sling as much merch as possible, they want to inform you to ensure your crops are tops. Their staff are up on all the techniques you'll need to know for your grow space, what nutrients are best, what strains are great, what kind of lights you'll need. Let the fine farmers at TCS design a complete and customized hydro system for you. After all, evidently, they are the best!


Best Place for Audio Gear

Best Buy
Various locations, see

World-class audiophiles, electronics junkies and the everyman who just needs the basics all converge on this big box store thanks to its convenience, affordability and well-stocked shelves. One-stop shopping for everything that plugs in, powers up and drains the grid, the ubiquitous blue store and yellow price tags have become synonymous with all things audio.


Best Place for Car Audio Equipment

Car Tunes
Various locations, see

When Car Tunes was founded in 1977, iPod integration systems weren't even a twinkle in Steve Jobs' eye. But this metro Detroit staple — with five retail locations and one custom shop — has consistently adapted with the times, offering the latest in car audio gear and technology (but if the most your ride is rocking is a cassette player, they'll fix that too). Tricked-out custom jobs, basic navigation systems, window tinting, audio repair and marine audio repair are all part of Car Tunes' expertise. The biggest brands, ongoing training and top rankings from nationwide organizations round out the stores' bragging rights.


Best Place to Buy a Car in Wayne County - Tie

Bill Brown Ford
3222 Plymouth Rd., Livonia; 734-421-7000;

Pat Milliken Ford
9600 Telegraph Rd., Redford; 800-737-0232;

Wayne County residents love their Fords, even if they can't agree on where to buy 'em. Both these dealerships have earned cred thanks to their long existences in the community — both have been family-owned and -operated since the '50s. Along with trust gained over 50-plus years of service, both also offer a large inventory of used rides, as well as the new Fusions, Focuses and Tauruses. Of special note — Pat Milliken has been awarded the President's Award for excellence in customer satisfaction by Ford for the last 13 years in a row.


Best Place to Buy a Car in Oakland County

Shuman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram
1111 S. Commerce, Walled Lake; 888-435-2084;

Operating in Oakland County since 1955, Shuman's basic tenant is simple — beat any ad and any price while offering old-fashioned customer service. The family-owned dealership provides ongoing training for sales staff and technicians, stocks the latest in tools and equipment, and has expanded and maintained its original no-muss, no-fuss showroom rather than move out of Walled Lake when Chrysler told them to. Commitment to the customer and the community is matched by a comprehensive inventory of new and used vehicles (imported from Detroit, natch!), and a sales volume that consistently ranks Shuman in the top 25 Chrysler dealerships nationwide.


Best Place to Buy a Car in Macomb County - Tie

Roy O'Brien Ford
22201 E. Nine Mile Rd., St. Clair Shores; 586-776-7600;

Vyletel Volkswagen
40555 Van Dyke Ave., Sterling Heights; 586- 977-2800;

Domestics don't beat out the imports in Macomb County, where Das Auto shares pride of place with the American-as-apple-pie Ford. The family-owned Roy O'Brien Ford has been selling Mustangs and wagons, Escorts and Fusions, since 1946, and has consistently been recognized as one of the top Ford dealers in the country. Vyletel offers VW nuts a full line of Jettas, Passats and Beetles, as well as affordable service by knowledgeable Volkswagen techs.


Best Place to Buy a Car in Washtenaw County

Fischer Honda Ypsilanti
15 E. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti; 734-483-0323;

Whether it's the Element, the Accord or the Civic, durability, reliability and value are how you know it's a Honda (and the "H," of course). The self-described "best little Honda store in Washtenaw County" doesn't just rely on the rep of its product for business — it boasts a friendly, unpretentious atmosphere, a large selection of affordable, certified pre-owned vehicles, a highly trained service staff and, best of all, free oil changes for the life of your new or used purchase.


Best Attorney

Michael Dezsi
615 Griswold St., Ste. 719, Detroit; 313-879-1206;

For years Geoffrey Fieger has dominated this category. Now, with an admitted bit of campaigning, it goes to one of his former staff attorneys. The effervescent Michael Dezsi, a 35-year-old University of Detroit Mercy law grad, spent five years in Fieger's firm. He handled much of Fieger's personal work, including suing the Michigan Supreme Court over its court rules that limited attorney speech. (Fieger kept getting fined for calling judges names, a violation of attorney conduct rules.) Deszi won in U.S. District Court before a federal appeals court overturned it on procedural grounds. Deszi also successfully defended Fieger against federal prosecution for alleged campaign finance violations. On his own since January, Deszi is doing criminal defense, civil litigation and personal injury cases.


Best Indie Health Food Store

Natural Food Patch
221 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-546-5908;

For 13 years, the Natural Food Patch has hawked everything from eco-friendly toilet paper to organic carrots, selling to metro Detroit's health- and environmentally-conscious. Certified organic produce shares the space with herbal teas, discounted supplements, ready-to-eat entrées, frozen vegetarian and vegan meals, gluten-free edibles, natural baby food and local products. The only thing you won't find on the amply stocked shelves? Artificial sweeteners, colorings, preservatives and other unpronounceable, highly processed "ingredients."


Best Independent Grocery Store in Wayne County

Honey Bee La Colmena
2443 Bagley Ave., Detroit; 313-237-0295;

We dare you to get by the samples just inside the door of this southwest Detroit mercado. We've never seen anyone among Honey Bee's wildly diverse customer base do it. The salsa, pico de gallo and peppy guacamole are just too tempting. Gringos, African-Americans and Spanish-speaking neighborhood residents ... hipsters and working classers ... city folk and suburbanites ... it's a metro Detroit cross-section here, all enjoying the store offerings: perfectly ripened avocados, Mexican specialties made in-house and from local companies, piñatas and everyday household wares. Honey Bee decisively shatters the myth that there are no worthwhile grocery stores in the city limits.


Best Independent Grocery Store in Oakland County
Best Beer Selection in a Store in Oakland County
Best Wine Selection in a Store in Oakland County

Holiday Market
1203 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-541-1414;

You may be making a mad dash in for a carry-out lunch or filling a shopping cart to stock up your pantry or throwing the perfect shindig with help from the caterers here. Either way, Holiday Market satisfies. The vegan, gluten-free and Michigan-made products are plentiful, and the specialty "shoppes" within the market have outstanding service to help you with meats, baked goods, sushi, wine, cheese and seafood.


Best Independent Grocery in Macomb County

Nino Salvaggio
27900 Harper Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-778-3650; for more locations, see

Nino Salvaggio opened as a fruit and vegetable market in 1979, and the stacks of delectable produce — crisp Michigan apples, juicy vine-ripened tomatoes, colorful bell peppers — still stand-out. But the ensuing 30-odd years have seen the store expand into a full-service gourmet grocery complete with a wide array of organic offerings, more than 300 types of cheeses, more than 1,600 Michigan-made products, hard-to-find ethnic ingredients, a superb wine selection, fresh-baked breads and ready-made meals prepared by in-house chefs. Nino's also offers online deli ordering, party-planning services and gift baskets.


Best Independent Grocery in Washtenaw County

People's Food Co-Operative
216 N. Fourth St., Ann Arbor; 734-994-9174;

With ever-changing selections, depending on what's fresh, available and seasonal, the People's Food Co-Op helps you mix up your menus. With an inherent sense of community in its café, it also helps you share your passions, interests and opinions with other members. While some members claim years of membership, new ones are just as valued. That's healthy and smart.


Best Beer Selection in a Store in Wayne County
Best Wine Selection in a Store in Wayne County

Merchant's Fine Wine
22250 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-563-8700;

When you need wine — and some gourmet nibbles to go with it — our readers concur perennially that Merchant's is the place for reds, whites, blends, reasonably priced bottles and that big splurge. And the owners' advice is free: "Wine always tastes better with food, beer is always best on a hot summer day, and always drink water before you go to bed."


Best Beer Selection in a Store in Macomb County
Best Wine Selection in a Store in Macomb County

7007 Chicago Rd., Warren; 586-978-9463;

Customers first might be lured in by the competitive prices and the ever-changing specials. In the store, they'll learn about the wine and beer tastings and maybe return for some "spirited" knowledge. We doubt they'll leave without some purchases from the extensive selection of wine and beer — liquor too — of everything from Michigan-made brews to little-known vintages, purchased, of course, with the help of the knowledgeable staff.


Best Beer Selection in a Store in Washtenaw County

Ann Arbor Beer Depot
114 E. William St., Ann Arbor; 734-623-4430;

Since 1941, this store has offered brew to the University of Michigan community. Now with more than 750 kinds of beer (750!) in stock, the Beer Depot also sells home brewing supplies, wine and snacks. Don't believe the vintage sign (it's not a "drive-thru" establishment) but do stop to check out the building. It's on the Ann Arbor historic building list.


Best Wine Selection in a Store in Washtenaw County

Plum Market
375 N. Maple Rd., Ann Arbor; 734-827-5000;

Plum Market's amazing cheese selection, great wine and chocolate, plentiful organic and local choices, fresh sushi and e-coupons for regulars bring shoppers in for those household staples. But customers also come for the catering and prepared foods. If you are über-organized, you can drop your own serving dishes off, and the cooks will fill them with their tantalizing dishes. Confess to your dinner guests only if you must.