You did it again! We always knew you, our dear reader, had good taste — why else would you choose JTNews as having the best Jewish website? — but we didn’t know you had great taste! Below you’ll find results from our annual Best of Everything survey. Read on!
Best Place for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah Party: Why else wouldn’t you want to whoop it up, Velcro wall and all, at the Woodmark Hotel off the coast of Lake Washington in Kirkland? Great views, great space, great memories.
Best Place for a Wedding Reception: It’s elegant, it’s historic, and it shows off the best of what Seattle has to offer. Congratulations, Fairmont Olympic. Confidential to the person who suggest that the winner is New Jersey: I’ve been to weddings in New Jersey. You’re better off at the Fairmount.
Best Local Party Band or DJ: Once again, DJ Hayden Hall has a lock on this town — he spins ’em like nobody’s business.
Best Place to Buy an Engagement Ring: One of the country’s most prestigious jewelers began right here in Seattle by a member of our Jewish community. Once again, Ben Bridge Jeweler takes the diamond.
Best Ketubah Artist: I see a lot Joan Lite-Miller’s unique designs for marriage contracts hanging over mantles. Miller makes beautiful pieces of art, not just a document to be signed and stored in a box in the attic.
Best Event Photographer: Once again, Seattle shutterbug Dani Weiss Photography takes the prize for showing us the best of your lively event.
Photo: F7 Photography
Best Florist: Anna Brandt’s Distinctive Design Florist is a second-generation, family-run flower business that creates lovely and creative arrangements for any event, happy or sad.
Best Hotel for a Simcha: With a kosher kitchen and lots of space, the Seattle Sheraton in the heart of downtown is clearly the place for a big party.
Best Caterer: Whether you’re looking for kosher and delicious — or just delicious — Nosh Away is the place to call for just about any kind of simcha (or business event).
Best Wedding Cake Baker: We were going to say in the previous category that Nosh Away takes the cake, but, well,this seemed more appropriate. We do want to give a shout out to Michele Yanow (she of Seattle Jewish Chorale fame), who has come to the cake rescue more than once and was recognized for her abilities as well.
Best Local Jewish Organization, School or Agency: Is there really a contest? Jewish Family Service serves so many areas of our Jewish community — and a lot of the non-Jewish community, it should be said — in so many different ways. Once again this agency is the clear winner.
This is kids having a great time on last weekend’s Limo Scavenger Hunt. Photo Courtesy NCSY.
Best Youth Organization: NCSY isn’t just a youth group. Its leaders have expanded the program into Israel trips, high school classes, fashion shows, and so much more. Plus, the kids who participate have a most rocking time!
Best Jewish Camp: With its new nature center and decades of tradition, the kids who head to Tumwater each summer to Camp Solomon Schechter come home with smiles and Jewish spirit.
Best Jewish Website: Aw, shucks, guys. We’re kind of blushing over here. But we’re thrilled that JTNews and our regular updates (way more than every two weeks) of local and world news got your vote. Have you friended us on Facebook or followed us on Twitter?
Best Place to Volunteer: Whether it’s delivering holiday packages to home-bound seniors or making a party out of sorting non-perishable foods, Jewish Family Service wants you, no matter how old or young you are, to join up.
Best Local Food Bank:If you keep kosher and need food assistance, you won’t find a fresh alternative to Jewish Family Service. Even if you don’t need kosher, the state-of-the-art food bank has produce, toiletries and packaged foods, and treats its clients with quiet dignity.
Best Counseling Services: Once again, Jewish Family Service takes the prize. With the completion of its new building, JFS’s counseling services have been given their own space that allows for confidentiality and breathing room. The agency also holds weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and provides services at Hillel at the University of Washington. Talk about a full plate!
Best Congregation: Once again, Congregation Beth Shalom wins it. The small Conservative congregation in Wedgwood with lots of prayin’, eatin’, and social action has a lot of passion among its members.
Best Jewish Supplemental School: Congregation Beth Shalom’s program serves kids from early childhood to middle school, and was part of the team that brought together the new social-action–based high school program Livnot. Teach on!
Best Adult Education Program: Once again, Congregation Beth Shalom shows that learning isn’t just for kids.
Best Pastrami: It’s a tie on rye: Tradition vs. tradition updated. But we’ve got room for both. Goldberg’s Famous Delicatessen in Factoria and Stopsky’s Delicatessen on Mercer Island share the prize!
Oh, yum! Photo: FeministJulie/Creative Commons
Best Smoked Fish: Einstein’s Bros. Bagels wins in the general “Dang, that smoked fish is good!” followed by the more specific goodness that is the hand-smoked white king salmon at University Seafood & Poultry. Oh, how my mouth is watering as I type this.
Best Rugelach: It may be hard to find, but the rolled-up pastries from Leah’s Catering gets many a-tummy filled with satisfaction.
Best Challah: It’s clear: Nothing beats homemade. But the soft, simple challah from Grateful Bread in Wedgwood is a close, close second.
Eltana’s Acres of Bagels. Photo: Aaron Leitz
Best Bagel: In the year since the Montreal-style Eltana Wood-Fired Bagel Café last won, this locally owned champ has expanded from one beautiful space on Capitol Hill to two more — on Stone Way in Wallingford and in the revitalized Armory at Seattle Center.
Best Dill Pickle: Britt’s Pickles will take just about any vegetable and toss it into a barrel of brine. Started on Whidbey Island, and with a recently opened stall in the Pike Place Market, this upstart is wowing pickle lovers the world over.
Best Burger: Yes, you can’t trip without falling on a fancy new burger joint. But those mainstays of cheap and delicious (yet known for treating their employees well), Red Mill and Dick’s, share the prize.
Best Pizza: Kosher, tasty and hitting the spot, Island Crust Café wins the prize for the fifth year in a row!
Best Sunday Brunch: The line-ups tell the story: Both Portage Bay Café and Stopsky’s Delicatessen know how to please a groggy Sunday morning crowd.
Best Organic/Local/Sustainable/Chef-Drive Restaurant that Knocked Your Socks Off: Portage Bay Café’s three Seattle locations and Tilth, located inside a house in Wallingford, have diners pulling up their argyles between bites.
Best Sushi: You might get lost trying to navigate the streets of Tangletown to get to neighborhood mainstay Kisaku. But it’s worth it.
Best Romantic Dinner: There’s nothing more romantic than two people sitting across from each other, glass of wine in hand, and… looking at something else. But if it’s a view and white-glove treatment you want, both SkyCityatop the Space Needle and Canlis atop the Aurora Bridge will take excellent care of you.
Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant: You’ll find plenty of kids hanging out at Island Crust Café, which once again takes the prize.
Best Middle Eastern: It wasn’t so long ago to find good Middle Eastern in this town you had to go to the Middle East. But Ravenna’s Harissa, Bellevue’s Mediterranean Kitchen, and the University District’s Cedar’s will do wonders to cure your falafel jones.
Best Wine List or Wine Bar: Purple is not just a color. It’s a way of life. It’s a tower of wine. And it’s now in four locations: Downtown Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland and Woodinville.
Best Happy Hour: If Italian food makes you happy — and you’d have to be crazy for it not to — Momma Melina’s just north of University Village is classy, inexpensive, and delicious.
Best Cocktail in Town: Spur Gastropub, with its eclectic food menu, also makes a mean cocktail. It shares honors with the bar at the W Hotel, which does its cocktails with class and a few extra drops of the hard stuff.
Save Room for Dessert
Best Bakery: If you’re in West Seattle, you’re already well aware of the baked goodness that fills the display cases of Bakery Nouveau. For everyone else, get over there pronto (or however you say that in French) for the most amazing croissants.
It was an effort to not go inside. Photo: Joel Magalnick
Best Chocolatier: Legend has it that when President Obama needs to clear his head, he likes to play basketball. The truth? He sneaks down to the White House basement, hides behind some steampipes, and pulls out his box of salted caramels from Fran’s Chocolates.
Best Ice Cream, Gelato or FroYo: Those self-serve yogurt places are popping up everywhere! The best of the bunch is Menchie’s. The plain yogurt is kosher, and you have to love those cute little spoons! Now if only they’d make their disposables compostable…
Best Pie: High Five Pie, found at its Capitol Hill shop and at Fuel Coffee joints around the city, once again wins the award for its light, flaky crusts and yummy fillings.
Good thing they have lots of napkins! Photo: Joel Magalnick
Best Cupcakes: Oh, Trophy, why must you tempt me with those rows and rows of delicious cakes and mile-high frosting? Damn your Snickerdoodle. And your Red Velvet (gluten-free!). And your Triple Coconut. And your…
Shoppin’ and Relaxin’
Best Fitness Club: It’s amazing what you can do with an old military hangar. Magnuson Health Club is spacious, well-equipped, and, if you live in the ’hood, convenient.
Best Spa Experience: Once again, the men are stuck at home watching football while the ladies can head to Tacoma or Lynnwood for the ultimate experience at Olympus Spa.
Best Kids’ Playspace: Adventure Kids in both Bellevue and Issaquah is a great place to drop off your kids and head out to our next category…
Best Destination When I’m Shopping for Clothes for Myself: Nordstrom has selection, service and quality. Magnifique!
Best Consignment or Secondhand Clothing: The Lifelong AIDS Alliance’s thrift store is up on Capitol Hill, so you’ll be fighting off ironic hipsters for the best threads, but it’s for a good cause.
Best Independent Toy Shop: Top 10 Toys’ conscientious playthings in Greenwood and Pacific Place eschew guns and plastic for more creative, mind-bending activities.
Fireworks even has its own model of a gift-shop shopper! Photo courtesy Fireworks
Best Little, Local, Independent Shop and Best Independent Gift Shop: Fireworks, with locations in upscale malls across the region as well as at the airport, always has a fun and interesting selection. Bike Works in Columbia City fixes donated bikes and has programs to get underprivileged kids on two wheels. It’s a win-win!
Best Independent Bookshop: Located in Ravenna and Lake Forest Park, Third Place Books really does serve as that third gathering place. And their book selection is pretty good, too.
Best Theater Company: ACT Theater puts on some amazing shows year after year, but their work in cultivating up-and-coming playwrights and local talent makes this local gem shine. Bravo!
The Professional Life
Best Family Doctor: Fight the flu! Don’t delay your physical! Drs. Gary Spector and Deborah Klein will make you feel better.
Best Dentist: Do you know how I know Dr. Gordon Sako is a great dentist? Every time I go to see him he tells me what great teeth I have. The better to eat you with, my dear. He shares space with Dr. John Way, who shines on the pediatric dentistry.
Best Plastic Surgeon: “Seriously…aren’t we as a people past this at this point?” asks one respondent. Enough said.
Best Lawyer: Though he only set up his own practice in 2010, Joshua Moultray already has a following. Use him for business or real estate law, to defend yourself against a misdemeanor, or a number of other services. We hear John Grisham’s next book will be based upon Josh. But don’t quote us on that.
Best Accountant: Tax time’s coming up. Who you gonna call? Bellevue CPA Dennis Goldstein has decades of experience, though he has yet to get the call from Grisham.
Best Real Estate Agent: Serving primarily Seattle’s Northend, Rhona Feldman can list, list, list. Her best-kept secret? She teaches Israeli dance on the side.
Best Car Dealership: If you’re looking for a Volkswagen or a Subaru, Chaplin’s in Bellevue has a great selection. The cars, of course, speak for themselves.
Wherever You Go There’s Always Someone Jewish
Best Jewish Book of 2012: “From Aleph to Ze’ev: Excursions into Jewish Culture, History, Rituals and Beliefs” is actually from 2011, but close enough. A review in our compatriot to the south, the now-defunct Portland Jewish Review, said the Corvallis author’s book “presents intriguing insights, concise summations and fascinating esoterica that will delight readers from all walks of Jewish life as well as non-Jews curious about Judaism and Jewish history.”
Best Jewish Author of 2012: Nathan Englander. Neuroses and deft imagination won the day with his book of short stories, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.”
Best Jewish-Themed or Israeli Film of 2012: “Yossi,” Israeli director Eytan Fox’s follow-up (after nine years) to “Yossi and Jagger,” revisits the surviving protagonist of the story of two star-crossed lovers, back when gay film in Israel was still scandalous.
Golden Globe-award winner Lena Dunham. Photo: Krista Kennell/ Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit
Best Jewish Actor/Comedian of 2012: This is sad, but we had a 10-way tie. Let’s just say that Adam Sandler wasn’t on the list. But neither was Lena Dunham, and she should have been.
Out in the Community
Best Place to Hang Out and Meet Other Fun Jews: It should go without saying that Hillel UW, and its big brother Jconnect, are where the cool kids are. Which should mean it goes without saying that when you meet cool people, it’s also the Best Place to Meet a Nice Jewish Boy or Girl.
Best Local Sports Team: The Seahawks had a great year, and that last minute time-out flub should not put a damper on the fact that they deserved to go as far as they went.
Best Online Dating Site: JDate, as usual, wins, but we should give special mention to a local dating site, still in beta, called HappyBubbe.com. Get those profiles coming!
Best (or Worst) Political Antic of 2012: Every response had something to do with anything one presidential candidate or the other did. No need to relive the details.
Anything Israel made the top of Jewish news last year. Photo: Berthold Werner/JNS.org
Most Important Political Issue of 2012: Being Jews, the winner was, of course, every single ongoing issue in Israel: The thousands of rockets that have fallen in Southern Israel, the UN vote on Palestinian observer state status, to name but two, followed by marriage equality.
Best local Jewish news item of 2012: From one respondent: “Not the best but the most impactful — our community’s loss of David Brumer,” a local activist; the opening of the new Jewish Family Service building, and that whole kerfuffle with the cancellation of events with a contingent of gay Israelis by the City of Seattle.
Thanks for your votes, everyone!