BEST NEW VENDING MACHINE NOVELTY
First it was Homies. Now, the latest form of ethnic stereotyping in a bubble gum machine is a series of Italian Goombas called Palermos. The figurines include such notables as Corradeo The Consiglieri, Frankie the Hammer, Teflon Tony, Sebastiano the Sausagemaker and Freddie the Fed. Advertised as "figurines you can't refuse," we wonder why the market for these kinds of toys hasn't spread into the world of white privilege. Something like "Crackers," with William the upwardly mobile WASP, or Uncle Charlie with belt-less pants and a hairpiece. Let's try some diversity, people!
BEST SPECIALTY AREA
We are not shy about admitting our love for the Basque Block: drinks at the Basque Center (remember: all libation proceeds benefit the Basque Museum and Cultural Center), grub at Gernika, culture at the Basque Museum and shopping at the Basque Market. From Idiazabal mashed potatoes to fine Spanish wines to chorizo (Blanco chorizo is our latest fave, Pamplona a close second) to the wonderful house dressing served at Gernika to Dan's sweet bit o' heaven rice pudding to sandwiches and cheeses to seasonal chorizero peppers, it spends us to talk of its bestness.
BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR GEEK ON
Like some kind of unholy carnival, this cluster of lights and noise rises from old farmland, promising almost every kind of pointless diversion known to geek-dom. We know flick freaks who spend a weekend watching 8 to 10 hours' worth of movies. From there, it's gummy worms at Goody's and a buffet of video/techno madness at Gameworld. Finally, don't forget to load up your tray with comfort food from Chuck-A-Rama (no pun intended).
BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR ROCKSTAR GEEK ON
Old Boise Guitar Shop
There's nothing we love more than a willful independent never backing down from a fight with cheesy, corporate, conglomerate beasts (hint hint). And Old Boise Guitar Shop is one of the original independents in this town, having provided area musicians and wannabes with quality instruments for 20 years. Fender, Gibson, Martin, Taylor, Rickenbacker, Epiphone and Gretsch-they have it all, and we wish them a happy birthday with an extra candle.
BEST LOCAL ITEM
saturday public Market
We pondered this one. One item? Aiiee. Simply can't be done. A panoply of good things, all locally crafted, await you every Saturday throughout the summer, fall and holiday season at Capital City Market on 8th Street: garden bounty, scented delights, take-and-bake lasagna, artisan breads, juicy jams, garden gewgaws, sparkly baubles, wines, custom meats, delectable honeys, soy candles, oh my.
Since 1960, this purveyor of major appliances has been supplying local dwellings with all the critical components that make living with electricity so damn cool. Let the chronically friendly staff lead you through this wonderland maze of household accoutrements. One of the last locally owned appliance stores around, Jim's is a place where more than your appliance needs are met.
Liz Rosenthal/Integrative Care
Truth be told, life in BW's editorial department is not all glitz and glam. We spend many an hour hunched over the keyboard, phone precariously wedged between ear and shoulder, eyes squinting in the dim light (we are deathly allergic to fluorescent lights), ass cemented to chair. To rectify this wrong we drag our tired and tattered, ergonomically-incapacitated carcasses across the street and plop them down on Liz Rosenthal's massage table. Words are not necessary as Liz knows from the look in our eyes what is "kneaded" to get us back in fightin', writin' form.
If you've ever shopped for jeans somewhere scary like say, the Mall, then you know that they carry either thigh-hugging teeny-bopper jeans that just barely hit the hip bone or tapered "older lady" pants that make you look like you might be packing a little something in the back. That's why we love Funktion-owner Leah Butler is a total fashionista and knows where to find the kind of jeans that flatter any shape. They tend to be a little spendier, but the sweet foreign labels also last a lot longer and make passersby take notice.
BEST JEWELRY (THAT DOESN'T COME IN A VELVET BOX)
Eyes of the World
Sure, Fred Meyer has a lovely selection of heart-shaped baubles heavy with rhinestones, but what about those of us who would rather wear natural stones, hand-worked metals and worthy synthetics like dichroic glass? We go down the hill to a shop you can smell from blocks away. And if the incense doesn't get you, the killer jewlelry will. From pendants to cuffs to earrings, everything is plucked from open markets overseas and offered at deliciously reasonable prices, and if you know anything about semi-precious stones, you'll appreciate the fact that it's the only place in town for Boulder Opal.
BEST GOOD GUY AUTO REPAIR
In the hierarchy of dastardly swindler clichés, mechanics are trumped only by politicians, lawyers and used car salesmen. They find ways of making you buy things, like telling you in industry lingo with raised eyebrows that your car will combust without another new air filter. Not so are the Dudley Do-Rights who man the desks and workshops of Boise Muffler. It is without a doubt the best place in town in any category for truly excellent service and a fair deal. Everyone who works there is equal parts honest, efficient and friendly, so much so that we stop by every now and then just to say hi and read the free magazines.
BEST HEADGEAR ON A BIBLIOPHILE
Winter, summer, spring, fall or other, this independent bookstore owner can be seen wandering the sidewalks of Hyde Park with his standard poodle in tow. The pair is striking anyway, but Trip's fantastic turban/yarmulka/astrakhan combo has the effect of a large black olive on a fingertip. Not only is it extremely tall, it is also furry, making Trip unmistakable at any distance. In an age of understated baseball caps and decorative silk hibiscus, we take our hats off (ha) to his bold, season-less fashion expletive.
Even if there is some horrible psycho-sexual reason we love cigars, we don't care. We don't care that after an evening of puffing away on a big stogie, our tongues wake up wearing smoky wool sweaters. We don't even care when we are sent to the farthest corner of the backyard to smoke them. We love cigars! We can look at Winston Churchill and George Burns and think, Hmmm, these things may actually be good for you. And Sturman's is the place to get them. A huge selection, very reasonable prices (and always great specials) with knowledgeable employees, this fine shop has everything the discerning cigar aficionado could hanker for. The humidor is enormous, and we often just stand in it and suck in the flavor.
BEST PROFESSIONAL "PRICK"
That's acupuncturist to all you laymen. There are a few experienced healers in the area, but the best has got to be Scott Pietsch. Breaking away from a thriving joint practice to start his own, Scott just recently opened the doors of Integrative Acupuncture, a holistic clinic specializing in the ancient Chinese art of healing with energy and needles. Aside from his technical skills, Scott has natural power in his voice and hands that is at once strong and soothing. So whether you need serious treatment or just a de-stress session, give him a call-even his "hello" does wonders.
BEST retro goods
When it comes to used clothing, perhaps the only people who know more than the BW staff about where to get the goods are the people who work at used clothing stores. We each have stores that we frequent depending on gender and era-preference, but one store stands out far above the rest as far as we're concerned: LUX (squeezed between Guido's and Picture This on 5th Street downtown). Get your newer, mall-grown stuff on the cheap side or find unique vintage pieces without designer labels sewn into the collar. We guarantee they don't peddle anything that's less than cool, which saves you the time of sorting through a bunch of junk to find that one must have.
BEST OUTDOOR HARDCORE HANGOUT
Whether it's cleaning lines off Bogus' backside, closing out a route at the City or coming off the top of the North Fork, serious athletes tend to congregate at one place; their trucks. Dogs are allowed, the beer is cheap, seat's easy to find, and getting home means crawling in the back. But if you want to hang with this crowd, you better be able to bring it, because at this level they'll welcome the real thing, but they won't accept any posers.
BEST CHEAP THING
Dollar store miscellanea
Oh, where to begin. From Only One Dollar on Vista, a monkey-shaped keychain that pees when you squeeze its skull. From Honk's 99 Cent Store in Nampa, a pea-sized brain that grows to the size of a softball when placed in the dog's water dish. It takes a certain class of spouse or partner to appreciate these gifts as anything resembling "affection," but to be blessed with one opens doors all across Boise. Some call dollar stores the scabs of a recessed economy, but we recognize them for what they really are: buck-sized love.
BEST COWBOY CLOTHES
Sheplers Western Wear
While the clearance rack at D&B Supply may display more total "finds" than any other joint in town, the cowpuncher in the know heads to Sheplers for a truly ornate, elaborate getup that says, "Just cashed my check from the cattle drive and lookin' to waste a wad." We're talking $500 ostrich skin boots, hand-embroidered suits and Stetson hats-the sort of stuff that makes those pearly button shirts look like Barbie clothes. Townies beware.
It may not feature a fancy-pants auto-lot like the Idaho Youth Ranch, but Savers has no peer in its ability to produce The Outfit: that certain T-shirt, dress or polyester concoction that looks as if it has been waiting around for a half-century just to find you. Fringed suede motorcycle jackets, trucker hats and bizarre sweaters galore await-but the secret has been out for a while. What you're looking for probably isn't there ... maybe you'd better just leave it all for us.
BEST RANDOM COUPLING OF PRODUCTS OR SERVICES
Rocky Mountain Fireworks and Firs in Notus will never be trumped in this particular category, but alas, some businesses are simply destined not to last in this world. As its successor we nominate ABC Laundry on Overland, a humble looking laundromat built around the old-world concept of, "If we can't offer you everything, we shouldn't bother existing at all." The A is for "Alterations and Sewing." B signifies "Beauty and Barbershop." C connotes the spotless coin-op laundry. D is for "Damn that's a lot of work."
BEST ENDANGERED COMMERCIAL SPECIES WE'D LIKE TO SAVE
Endangered, perhaps, but definitely not extinct. If you're already familiar with the excellent Hispanic meat and produce markets scattered across the Treasure Valley (Rita's Panaderia in Nampa comes to mind), try India Food on Orchard, Euroasia on Maple Grove or Bavarian Food & Delicatessen on Overland for a change. You've driven by them. You're already curious. Now wander into Bavaria and come out with a hunk of blood sausage and a 32-ounce German beer. No one will ever call you girlie-man again.
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD MARKET
(tie) Hollywood and Jerry's on 27th Street
It's a tie. We just can't pick a favorite between the two quaint neighborhood markets. Hollywood Market and North End elder Margaret are favorites at one end of the North End while Jerry's has a monopoly on the near-North End. We think they're equally cool (except that Hollywood has an edge when it comes to the year-round outside table of used stuff).
BEST SHOE STORE THAT IS NO MORE
Let's be honest about the state of the shoe. We need them. We love them. We love them more when they are almost like five other pairs we own. And this shoe infatuation is no longer a gender-related issue. Many men are just as freakish about their shoes as women. But where can a girl or guy get a good pair of overpriced, conversation-prompting Friday night soles without a trek to the mall? The answer used to be Protocol. Without doubt the hippest shoes in town took up residence at the downtown location, taunting us all to dig deep to look good. Farewell, Protocol.
BEST PLACE TO BRING YOUR SUGAR MOMMA OR DADDY
This new downtown addition is part garden and landscape store, part home furnishing store, part great gift-on-the-go store. Every item in the small space is unique and exquisite, from the requisite candles and picture frames to the large-scale, Asian-style garden fountains. Owner Jeff Lightbody provides incomparable customer service and will go above and beyond to help you find just the right item for that specific corner of your garden or nook in your home. When your sugar daddy or momma asks what you'd fancy doing for the day, be sure to pencil in a stop to Epitome.
BEST place to boost your beach confidencesun shop
swim & run shop
We've learned that it pays to spend money on two things: beds and swimsuits. Beds because you spend one-third of your life in them and swimsuits because bearing your white, under-toned flesh is painful enough without your suit looking like sausage casing. At both locations of Swim & Run, they have expert fitters to help "size up" your body and select a suit that will play up your best features and minimize your worst ones. These women have seen every body-type and will wring the shyness from you with lines like, "If you can't come out of the dressing room, how are you going to go to the beach?" Youy can't really argue with that, and by the time you walk out with your new suit (and appropriate accessories like swim shorts, swim skirts or sarongs), you'll feel like you just lost the easiest ten pounds of your life.
BEST consignment store
This consignment furniture store may be picky about what they agree to take in, but we appreciate its discriminatory eye. The huge selection of quality furniture ranges from antique to country to retro, and the prices, though not cheap, are fair. The employees know their stuff and will go out of their way to help you find that perfect credenza or sleigh bed; if they don't have one, you can describe what you are looking for and they will call you when an appropriate piece comes in. They will also help arrange delivery, try to bargain with the owner on the set price or recommend an accompanying piece or color scheme based on your particular home. Don't neglect the bargain basement-there are treasures there too, chairs that need refinishing or dressers that might love to be painted purple.