Folio Weekly’s Best of Jax 2012

Worst Thing to Happen to Jacksonville

Tropical Storms and Flood

Northeast Florida received a double-whammy when Tropical Storm Beryl blew through the area, followed by her big sister, Debbie, which dumped 15 inches of rain on some areas. Debbie caused severe flooding along Black Creek near Middleburg and in the St. Marys River on the Florida-Georgia line. Black Creek crested at 25.11 feet, just under its record flood of 25.3 feet, destroying 34 homes and leaving more than 500 with some water damage. On the St. Marys in Nassau County, about 100 homes had water in them and the U.S. 301 bridge was swept away. Through the middle of September, the National Weather Service at Jacksonville International Airport recorded 42.36 inches of rain for 2012, compared with the 30-year average for that date of 38.75 inches and more than eight inches above the same period last year, said Angie Enyedi, a NWS meteorologist. — RW

Local Zero

Best Local Wacko

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown

Part pit bull and part politician, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown has delivered her wrath on State Attorney Angela Corey, injecting herself in the George Zimmerman murder case and the Marissa Alexander case, accusing the special prosecutor of “institutional racism.” Brown also recently locked horns with Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican and chairman of the Transportation Committee, for his comments that he was on a “holy jihad” to overhaul Amtrak, saying it could offend Muslims. She was also unhappy with Mica’s decision to hold a hearing on the railroad’s finances on the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. On a positive note, Brown has been leading the federal court charge against reductions in early voting. Brown meets Republican Leanne Kolb in the general election. — RW

Best Local Scandal

Best Waste Of Public Money

Courthouse Opening Delay

Duval County paid $350 million for the Cadillac of courthouses, but delays in construction (including scrapping the whole plan and starting over), a moving day that reverted to a moving-back day, and issues about new furniture and a skybridge, have left citizens wondering if they got a lemon. The latest debacles include complaints about private space for attorneys to talk with clients and the fact that parts of the new structure are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. When approved by the Better Jacksonville Plan, the courthouse was supposed to cost only $190 million. — RW

Best Use of Public Money

Jacksonville Public Library

The Jacksonville Public Library, with the main branch and 20 regional, community and neighborhood branches, has had to do more with less in the face of shrinking budgets and staffing cutbacks. Barbara Gubbin, library director, was thrilled with the Best of Jax recognition. “It’s encouraging to know people believe the library offers a solid return on their investment. Library employees work hard to maximize the public funds entrusted to us. With nearly 5 million people visiting area libraries last year and almost 9 million items checked out, we’re pleased to be one of the most popular city services.” — RW

Best Local Politician Who Needs a Slap Upside the Head

Mayor Alvin Brown

One of the knocks against Mayor Alvin Brown is his lack of leadership on controversial issues, including the recent failure of the human rights ordinance amendment in the City Council. Brown was also accused of sending a mixed message on the toll road issue, saying he favored the road but was opposed to the toll. City Councilmembers have complained in stories published in The Florida Times-Union that the mayor’s administration has not weighed in on his choice between SMG and Global Spectrum to manage the city’s sports and entertainment facilities and was missing in action during some budget battles. As a result of this inaction, Brown’s administration paid the T-U $15,000 to settle a lawsuit over the handling of public records requests. — RW

Best Environmental Activist

Best Local Environmental Abomination

St. Johns Riverkeeper, St. Johns River Pollution

“Our river is already sick, and despite the millions of dollars spent on improvements over the last decade, GP’s mill in Palatka is still one of the river’s biggest polluters.” The statement comes from the 2012 report on the state of the St. Johns River released by the St. Johns Riverkeeper. Since taking over the position from Neil Armingeon in January, Lisa Rinaman has served as the chief advocate and the public’s voice for the St. Johns River. Her responsibilities include holding regulatory agencies and river polluters accountable and advocating solutions to restore and protect the river. One of the biggest issues is Georgia-Pacific’s plan to build a 4-mile-long pipeline to discharge more than 20 million gallons of wastewater a day into the middle of the St. Johns. An estimated 324,000 pounds of chemicals are dumped annually into the Lower St. Johns River. Waste from the U.S. Department of Defense and paper mills account for 68 percent of chemicals dumped into the river, the report stated. — RW

Best Local Volunteer Effort

K9s for Warriors

This unique program pairs soldiers and sailors suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder with service canines in a program they describe as “seeing-eye dogs for the mind.” To date, it’s paired veterans with 37 service dogs, many of them rescued from animal control facilities. The dogs are trained to perform work or tasks to mitigate the symptoms of PTSD and help the warrior return to civilian life and gain independence. The Ponte Vedra Beach-based organization was started by Shari Duval, wife of professional golfer Bob Duval. — RW

Best Local Trend

Food Trucks

Food trucks have rolled into Northeast Florida over the last year, offering gourmet fare at drive-through prices. They aren’t your grandfather’s lunchwagons — these mobile kitchens follow all the same safety and cleanliness standards as a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Diners chose from filet mignon sandwiches, hardwood-smoked pulled-pork tacos, duck confit quesadillas or ahi tuna, on the go. “The satisfaction I get from seeing people enjoy my food is unexplainable, but it drives me to what I do every day,” said Chef Andrew Ferenc of On The Fly. Trucks’ daily whereabouts are posted each morning on local resource Jax Truckies Facebook and Twitter pages, empowering hungry adventurers to explore new cuisines and new sides of town that may be underserved with quality dining options. Two large food truck rallies held at Bold City Brewery and Burrito Gallery earlier this year drew thousands, introducing Northeast Florida to the food truck culture. “This helps to crystallize the fact that food trucks really capture the ethos of Jacksonvillians,” said Chris Dickerson of Corner Taco. “No fancy tablecloths, no excessive adjectives. Food trucks offer an experience that is stripped-down and real.” These pioneering entrepreneurs have carved out a niche despite restrictions city regulations place on their existence. Overcoming these obstacles while creating legions of raving fans has proved to be a rewarding experience for the food truck operators. “It isn’t just another job I am showing up to,” said Patrick O’Grady, owner of Driftwood BBQ. “I’m contributing to a new culture in Jacksonville that inspires people to think beyond fast food. I am able to create quality food at affordable prices every day!” — CS

Best Reason to Love Northeast Florida

Beaches and Ocean

Sure, Northeast Florida has world-class tourism with entertainment venues, miles of sandy coastline, restaurants, bars, shopping and an NFL team, but do you want to know the real reason the First Coast is so badass? Because if an apocalypse occurs, whether it’s zombies or failure of the power grid, Northeast Floridians will be better off than most other areas of the world. Residents can use the ocean as a food source and the beach as a campground (zombies hate water). Location, location, location! — KP

Best Reason to Hate Northeast Florida


On some days, it just seems like you can’t get there from here. With all the road construction, repaving and repainting, plus thousands of motorists all trying to get to work and get home at the same time, traffic can crawl to a standstill. From our friends at the Florida Department of Transportation, here are the major projects going on now in Duval County: adding lanes and rehabilitating concrete and pavement on I-10, construction of new I-295 Collins Road interchange, repair of the Ortega River Bridge, repairs and repainting of the Mathews Bridge, building a new interchange at 21st Street and Talleyrand Avenue on Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, resurfacing Trout River Boulevard, resurfacing Monument Road to St. Johns Bluff Road and fender repairs to the Hart Bridge. Whew! Drive carefully! — RW

Best Folio Weekly Cover Story of 2012

Water Hogs

In the “pat yourself on the back department,” our Water Hogs cover story continues to be the best-received year after year. Our sixth installment by Susan Cooper Eastman ran in March and once again shamed the area’s top 50 residential water consumers for their prodigious use of our most valuable resource. While most of us struggle to keep our lawns green in these water conservation times, these water hogs continue to use more than their fair share. The issue also gave tips for ordinary folks on how to limit their aquatic footprint. — RW

Best Local News Website

Bill Gates once said, “The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” In April 1997, replaced The Florida Times-Union’s archaic ConnecT-U to become the newspaper’s official online presence. For more than 15 years, the website has offered everything from breaking news and sports to opinion and entertainment to classifieds and obituaries. The site has also won multiple awards, including the Florida Press Club’s Excellence in Journalism Contest’s 2010 Best Online Publication in Classes A-D. Whether you’re looking for the latest meth lab explosion, Jaguars’ stats or a local restaurant review, Northeast Floridians have spoken — is their go-to website. — KP

Best Local Blog

Gary T. Mills, Dining Notes

Keeping hungry quad-county folks in the know with all things food-related, Gary T. Mills’ blog on features an interactive map detailing restaurant openings, planned or under construction spots and closed establishments. Mills is connected to the dining scene, whether it’s posting special deals (dress like a cow at Chick-fil-A, receive a free sandwich — who knew?) or rounding up a panel of local bloggers to chronicle the tastiest items at Riverside Arts Market. The popular “roach report” is a bittersweet favorite feature for many — uncovering which restaurants were recently busted for too many creepy-crawlies. — CS

Best Local Twitter Account


With more than 7,200 followers (from the entire Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra to Intuition Ale Works) and 21,000 tweets, jaxdotcom, the official Twitter handle of The Florida Times-Union, is your favorite go-to for quips of 140 characters or fewer. Recent tweets include links and blurbs about the area’s homeless pet problem, the Jaguars’ latest and greatest and the chance to win tickets to see a country music star. Just check out a tweet from Sept. 18: “Tebow the lost dog has been found; a Clay County man was charged with letting the dog out of a car at Walmart.” All of the uplifting news we love! — KP

Best Local Facebook Page

Jax Truckies

The people have spoken, and they love food trucks. The trick is knowing where to catch them each day. Launched on March 1, quickly became a one-stop shop for locating local food trucks. It’s one of the social media arms of Jax Truckies, which Mike Field, Ennis Davis, Stacey Steiner and Caron Streibich (Folio Weekly’s Bite Club maven) founded to support burgeoning food truck businesses. Jax Truckies and have held two food truck events that brought hundreds of people to scarf up truckside delicacies and raise money for Second Harvest North Florida. The second event, held outside Burrito Gallery in June, not only cleaned out the food trucks but brought business to downtown Jacksonville on what would have normally been a sleepy Saturday afternoon. Jax Truckies has helped broker deals with the city to create regular food truck locations and it’s working with the Jaguars to make food trucks a part of Sunday home games. “All the food trucks needed in Jacksonville was a spark. That spark was Mike and Caron from Jax Truckies. There has been a real community formed here, and food truck patrons often form friendships with one another,” said Chris Dickerson of Corner Taco. — DMR

Best Local Weather Forecaster

Richard Nunn

“Who, me, really?” That’s the reaction that Channel 4 Morning Show weatherman Richard Nunn had when he was told he’d been voted best weather forecaster in town by Folio Weekly readers. “Thank you, Jacksonville! I owe you a beer.” In April, Nunn let Mayor Alvin Brown shave his head after daniel Kids Foundation reached a fundraising goal. Recently, he gave his weathercast from a haunted library at Universal Studios in Orlando, and he often lets Morning Show guests stand before the green screen with him. His offbeat sense of humor fits well with the easy-going morning show. On his Facebook page, he describes himself as a “weather dork” and “an All-American nerd.” — RW

Best Local Investigative Reporter

Ken Amaro

If you’re up to something shady or you’re a government agency responsible for potholes, you don’t want to see Ken Amaro show up on your doorstep. He took over First Coast News’ “On Your Side” segment in 1989, and has worked relentlessly ever since to help homeowners with drainage issues, folks scammed by shady contractors or those who aren’t getting any satisfaction from city government. We certainly don’t want to make him angry. As his First Coast News promo says, “It ain’t pretty.” This is the 10th time he has won the readers’ poll award for Best Local Investigative Reporter. — RW

Best Local TV Morning Show

Channel 4 Morning Show

This popular morning show is celebrating its 10th anniversary. It’s been a local fixture since WJXT dropped its network affiliation and went independent. A station promo for the “Morning Show” crew calls it “the news team that is down to earth.” Each Thursday, pictures of local fugitive criminals are placed on the show’s “Wheel of Justice” to determine which wanted fugitive is profiled. Another popular feature is “The Morning Show Recognizes First Birthdays.” And we haven’t decided if anchor Bruce Hamilton looks better with or without his beard, which he grew during a trip to Alaska. — RW

Hottest Local Celebrity

Amanda Zitzman

Her long, straight, blonde hair, infectious enthusiasm and fashionista appearance combine to make this First Coast News traffic reporter sizzling hot. Zitzman, who started working at the station when she was 19, said she was flattered by the readers’ poll choice. “It’s great to see my strong journalistic skills have resonated with the people, haha jk! 🙂 But really, this is great and too funny!” — RW

Best Local Radio Show

“Courts & Sports”

The long arm of the law often reaches into the world of sports. John M. Phillips, also the winner for Best Lawyer, tries to make sense of it all with co-host and Jaguars running back Rashad Jennings. The topics are far-ranging, from labor law to DUI. “Sometimes, it’s brain injury and tort law in sports. There’s always something where sports and courts are intersecting,” Phillips said. He’s an NFL-certified agent who says that business is nothing like “Jerry Maguire.” Phillips invites expert guests to discuss topics related to area and national sports scenes. “We try to have a more sophisticated edge in sports radio, rather than just reading the sports scores,” he said. The show is 6 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, replayed 10 to 11 a.m. Sundays on WFXJ 930 AM and 106.9 FM. — DJ

Best Local Sports Radio Personality

Brian Sexton

Now in their 18th season, the Jaguars have seen players and coaches (even owners) come and go. One of the few aspects of the team that remains the same is the Voice of the Jaguars. Brian Sexton has delivered the play-by-play to fans for 277 regular-season games in a row (and counting), through this year’s game against the Bears. Coming into the 2012 season, he was one of only six people in attendance for every Jaguars game ever played, so he’s seen the highs (surprising playoff victories and a 14-2 season) and the lows (12 seasons without a division title). Through those ups and downs, fans need a calming influence, and Sexton delivers. — DJ

Best Local College

Jacksonville University

For the ninth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named Jacksonville University one of “America’s Best Colleges” for regional universities in the South. Phillip J. Milano, a university spokesperson, said the private school has a lot of advantages. “JU offers the small class-size experience, which I think, when you get right down to it, is probably one of the main things students look at when deciding on and then staying put at a school. The faculty really is committed to them, too. You mix in a gorgeous campus and growing riverfront presence and it all adds up.” — RW

Best Local TV Newscast

First Coast News, WTLV 12 & WJXX 25

From the time we wake up in the morning until we retire at night, First Coast News is a part of our lives. Phil Amato, Joy Purdy (just back from maternity leave) and weatherman Steve Smith handle the morning shift. And the top evening news anchors have been reporting from around the world: Jeannie Blaylock broadcast from the Olympics and continues to be the moving force behind Buddy Check 12, while Shannon Odgen reported daily from the Republican and Democratic National Conventions and hosts a Sunday morning show dealing with local issues and politics. We’ve watched Tim Deegan mature from a young surfer to a knowledgeable meteorologist, and sports director Dan Hicken is known for his sports expertise and singing parodies. — RW

Best Local TV Sports Anchor

Sam Kouvaris, WJXT 4

After more than 30 years as sports director at WJXT 4, Sam Kouvaris has earned the trust of sports fans throughout Northeast Florida. Many viewers know that Kouvaris is a voter for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Heisman Trophy, but Sam might stump anyone asked to guess what musical instrument he plays (trumpet) or how many hours he’s spent flying an F/A-18 Hornet (10). As a professional singer, Kouvaris is looking forward to performing with Les DeMerle’s band this month on Amelia Island. His passion for flying might trump his other interests, though, and he takes pride in his aviation accomplishments. “I do love to fly,” Kouvaris said. “I am one of only a handful of people who has flown with the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds.” There’s little doubt that Kouvaris is as comfortable in the cockpit as he is delivering sports news. — DJ

Best Local Radio Show

WAPE 95.1 FM

After years of playing the top hits, the Big Ape is a Northeast Florida institution. It still calls itself “Jacksonville’s No. 1 Hit Music Station,” but there’s a lot more to it than just tunes. The Big Ape Morning Mess features “Anna’s Hollywood Hot Sheet,” updating us on the latest Tinseltown news, and “To Catch a Cheater,” a segment about whether or not a significant other is cheating. The music is hard-hitting and the patter can be somewhat risqué, but that may be why The Big Ape is endearing and enduring. — RW

Best Righteous Crusader

Tracy Collins, Action News, WAWS 30 & WTEV 47

This popular reporter and blogger’s mantra is “if you are bored in Jacksonville, it’s your own fault.” The Action News reporter, known as Tracy Dot Com, has a blog, Crushed Velvet (, based on her observations and experiences around Northeast Florida. She makes weekly suggestions regarding entertainment venues, festivals, theater, music and charity events — anything “that will get your butt off the couch.” — RW

Best Local TV Anchor

Donna Deegan, First Coast News, WTLV 12 & WJXX 25

About the time we began tallying votes for this category, Donna Deegan retired from First Coast News. For years, she has been known as a tough, hard-hitting journalist and dedicated fighter for women with breast cancer. Deegan, a three-time breast cancer survivor, retired from the news business to devote more time to The Donna Foundation, her organization that organizes races, including the 26.2 With Donna, to raise money to assist local women with the challenges of breast cancer and support medical research into the disease. The foundation has raised more than $3 million. One of her last big stories as a journalist was a recent one-on-one interview with President Barack Obama at The White House. — RW

Best Thing to Happen to Northeast Florida in 2012

Local Hero

Best Local News Story of 2012

Shad Khan Bought the Jaguars

A mustachioed billionaire rekindled hope in Jaguars fans desperate for a championship.

That renewed optimism was clear when Jaguars owner Shad Khan officially bought the team from founders Wayne and Delores Weaver in January and began to put his personal stamp on the franchise.

It’s no surprise that Folio Weekly readers are “all in” for Khan, giving him a trifecta of Best of Jax awards.

What a year it’s been for Khan: Forbes declared the owner of Flex-N-Gate the “Face of the American Dream” on its cover last month, a week before he scored the No. 179 spot in the Forbes 400.

When asked about his most exciting moment since buying the Jaguars, even Khan said there had been “too many to count.”

“Walking onto the field in Atlanta for the national anthem with my wife Ann and Wayne and Delores Weaver the day after the sale was approved was extremely powerful,” Khan told Folio Weekly in an email.

“To sit in as an owner and personally observe our team work the NFL Draft in April was a thrill. To share my first regular season home game with so many family and friends, including new friends from here in Jacksonville, was very special. And then to win our first game a week later in the last minute against Indianapolis was like a dream come true.

“The best part of this is even better moments are ahead,” Khan said.

Jaguars fans show great belief in Khan, and the owner responds in kind.

“Pound for pound, Jaguars fans are the best in the NFL, and they’ve been so kind to me and my family,” Khan said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Khan also said he’s honored that so many fans wear his trademark mustache on Game Days.

“Jaguars fans are also, without question, the most creative fans in the NFL. Who knew there were so many ways to promote the mustache?”

Wisely, Khan honors the past while making plans for the Jaguars’ future.

He told fans that “Fred Taylor is everything you’d want in a football player and a human being,” in introducing the retired running back at the Pride of the Jaguars’ halftime induction ceremony during the game against the Bengals on Sept. 30.

That day also marked the end of the teal era, as Khan announced a switch to home uniforms with black as the primary color.

Jaguars players Rashean Mathis and Josh Scobee told Folio Weekly in interviews last month that Khan impressed them with his leadership style as well as his humility and patience.

Former Jaguars star Donovin Darius is also a believer in Khan’s leadership, and that position on Forbes 400 (with a reported $2.5 billion) doesn’t hurt, either.

“Everyone seems to be buying into the change. It’s a tremendous opportunity,” Darius said. “Any time you have a deeper pocket, as they say, it gives you the ability … to put some things out there.”

Rumors of a Jaguars move to Los Angeles continue in some circles, but Khan reiterated his stance to Forbes that he’s “committed to Jacksonville.”

Khan said he sees the goal of winning division titles, conference titles and Super Bowl championships as an opportunity more than a challenge.

Football fans aren’t known for their patience. After Jack Del Rio’s ouster and the hiring of coach Mike Mularkey, fans turned their attention to the job of general manager Gene Smith. But Khan is not watching the clock as he focuses on building a championship franchise.

“The commitment, not the timeline, is what is important in building a winner,” Khan said. “My commitment is absolute.” — DJ

Best Local Artist

Jim Draper

Jim Draper has balanced his roles as artist, educator and de facto guide for younger creatively minded individuals, but his greatest portrayal thus far may be as an almost-by-default, laid-back ambassador of the local fine arts scene. Draper’s signature work summons the most contemplative edge of naturalist painting, pushing that sometimes-staid subject forward into the 21st century, and he’s been a tireless champion for the greater creative community. “I am certainly, flattered, delighted and pleased to know that so many people in Jacksonville think that what I am doing is important,” Draper said, “and that they have expressed a level of confidence in me by choosing me Best Local Artist for the second year in a row.” In January, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is slated to exhibit Draper’s latest work, “Feast of Flowers,” a series of large-scale paintings that celebrate the 500th anniversary of the naming of Florida and honor the singular natural realm we call home. Draper remains excited about the possibilities and influence of our creative futures. “By letting ourselves become a part of conversations while offering what we think and do as solutions to problems, we are getting more and more seats at ‘the grown-ups’ table.’ ” Draper said. “This is the way we can affect serious cultural change within our community.” — DB

Best Art Exhibit of 2012

Dark Nature: Eric Gillyard and Crystal Floyd at CoRK Arts District

When it comes to local art, Folio Weekly readers dig the darkness. The June 9 opening reception for Eric Gillyard and Crystal Floyd’s exhibit, “Dark Nature,” at CoRK attracted a SRO crowd checking out the latest work from Gillyard and Floyd, who use found and recycled materials to give life to their respective visions of otherworldly and dream-like imagery. “I’m really flattered that so many people have shown such support for us,” Floyd said, “and I feel really lucky to have such amazing friends and family and just want to say that we couldn’t have done it without their help.” Creative cohort Gillyard is equally gracious. “We put a lot into the show and would like to thank everyone who contributed and made it happen.” — DB

Best Museum

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

Located in Riverside on the banks of the St. Johns River, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens draws an estimated 110,000 visitors each year who come to check out pieces from the permanent collection (which features 5,000 works of art) or current exhibits, and wander through the historic gardens. Showing now are “Histories in Africa: 20 years of Photography by Elizabeth Gilbert,” “Leonard Baskin: Works on Paper” and our very own “Folio Weekly Invitational Artist Exhibition,” featuring the work of 50 local artists. The museum also offers weekly workshops, children’s events and gallery tours. Established in 1958, this local cultural landmark is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. — DB

Best Local Musician or Band

Get Out Driver

Folio Weekly readers have waved the checkered flag and given Get Out Driver the top prize. The four-piece Jacksonville-based band, featuring Garret Park (guitar/lead vocals), Ricky Horton (guitar/vocals), Payton Page (bass/vocals) and Luke Hazel (drums), have wowed area rock fans onstage at venues like Brewster’s Pit, Fionn MacCool’s and Freebird Live and have opened for acts including Sublime, Taking Back Sunday, A Day to Remember and Fuel. Get Out Driver speeds along with a sound the band describes as “combining elements of pop, rock and even some post-hardcore flairs” on tunes like their single “Just Begun,” which has received heavy radio play on stations as far from home as Baltimore’s 98 Rock. — DB

Best New Club


When Emily Moody was forced to shut down her club Underbelly in Riverside’s Five Points district last June, it seemed like a death knell for the small, intimate venue that had invigorated Northeast Florida’s music community. Moody secured new, even bigger digs on Bay Street and, since relocating, has been a participant in an expanding downtown scene and corridor of clubs that, along with Burro Bar, 1904 Bar, Lit, Club TSI and +SoLo, is being referred to by those in the know (at least this week) as “The Elbow.” “After the last year-and-a-half of ups and downs we’ve had with Underbelly,” Moody said, “it’s energizing to be in an incredible location downtown and once again be bringing great bands to the city.” The new Underbelly has already hosted a gaggle of gigs by the likes of YACHT, David Dondero and comedian Doug Stanhope, and co-hosted the recent Bass in the City festival. It has been an important venue for locals like Antique Animals, Mama Blue, Wavefunctions, Personal Boy, Paten Locke and a regular weekly Thursday gig by local sitar-guitar mystic Arvid Smith. Upcoming acts include Langhorne Slim (Oct. 11), Darwin Deez (Nov. 10) and Dan Deacon (Dec. 9). Moody has even bigger plans for her BOJ-winning venue. “Underbelly isn’t just a club; it’s an organic space that’s here to nurture the arts and music scene downtown. We’re only building from here. Thanks, Jacksonville!” — DB

Best Place to Attend a Concert

St. Augustine Amphitheatre

Originally built in 1965 as the home for the summer seasonal performances of Paul Green’s official state play “Cross and Sword,” the building was refurbished in 2002 and has since attracted a variety of musical acts entertaining crowds counting as many as 4,100 in the seats. This last year was no exception: Musical acts as diverse as Duran Duran, Wilco, The Beach Boys, Wiz Khalifa, Sublime with Rome, Train, The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue (Donald Fagen, Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald) and Yes rocked the night and chilled the fans like the proverbial cool breeze blowing along the concert hall’s killer coastal location. Upcoming scheduled shows include Jill Scott, Heart with Shawn Colvin and blues icons Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang. — DB

Best Gay/Lesbian Club

The Metro Entertainment Complex

Jacksonville City Council’s recent decision to quash Bill 296, which would have legally protected local gay, lesbian and transgender citizens from discrimination, was a harsh reminder of how far we still have to grow as a contemporary urban city. Yet for the past 19 years, The Metro in Riverside has been a nightclub as well as de facto meeting place, headquarters and safe haven for the Northeast Florida LGBT community. Open seven days a week from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., The Metro is the largest gay and lesbian venue in Florida and houses a total of seven separate clubs ranging from The Disco and Game Room to Club Shadow and Sappho’s Lounge. Along with dancing and a full bar, The Metro features female impersonators, lesbian burlesque and special events such as the Oct. 19 appearance of Hollywood screenwriter and comedian Bruce Vilanch. — DB

Best Gentlemen’s Club

Jacksonville Gold Club

Those who like to chill in an (ahem) adult environment once again give their horniest hosannas to the Jacksonville Gold Club. While this Gentlemen’s Club (or, as many call them, “strip clubs”) surely pays the rent with the main attraction of dancing ladies onstage, the place also features a VIP section, full bar with daily happy hour specials and a steakhouse with a full menu. It’s conveniently open until 2 a.m. every day, giving frustrated writers a chance to perfect their latest sonnet while listening to the dulcet tones of Aerosmith’s “Love in an Elevator.” — DB

Best Comedy Club

The Comedy Zone

Once again, The Comedy Zone is the destination for locals looking for a good laugh. Located in the Ramada Inn in Mandarin, this decades-old club focuses primarily on comedians on the rise and (let’s be honest) on their gradual decline down from the peak of Mount Hilarious. This year, the club featured appearances by such laugh-out-loud favorites as Tom Green, Karen Mills, Emo Phillips, Sinbad, Tommy Davidson, Chris Kattan, Lynn Koplitz and Kevin Pollak. And regular folks can try it — either wow the crowd or get booed off the stage during the weekly Comedy Zone All Stars performances. — DB

Best Local Comedy

Tommy Torres

Mark Twain had this to say about the power of a good guffaw: “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” Folio Weekly readers voted local comedian Tommy Torres as the area funny guy who really knows how to knock ’em dead with a killer punchline. The self-described half-Puerto Rican, half-Canadian (“I’m a frozen Chihuahua,” he quips in a video of a performance) has riffed on risqué topics and bawdy observations at local humor haunts like The Comedy Zone and The Gypsy Comedy Club. The 41-year-old Torres has also shared the bill with fellow funny folks Ralphie May, Jon Reep, Henry Cho, Bobcat Goldthwaite and Tommy Davidson, competed in “Florida’s Funniest Comedian” contest and is a regular on 99.9 FM Gator Radio’s Hometown Morning Show. — DB

Best Local Actor/Actress

Ashley Greene

Jacksonville native Ashley Greene is perhaps best known for her role as Alice Cullen in “The Twilight Saga” films, but the 25-year-old former Wolfson High School student has also appeared in the films “Otis,” “Summer’s Blood,” “Skateland,” “Butter” and, most recently, was the lead in the horror flick “The Apparition.” She was also featured alongside Miley Cyrus and Demi Moore in the coming-of-age story “LOL.” This repeat winner has posed for a series of provocative (OK, she was butt-naked in a body-painted bikini, y’all!) ads for SoBe beverages and was honored by PETA for representing the animal-friendly beauty products of Avon. — DB

Best Local Author

Charles Martin

In 1999, Charles Martin left the business world to devote himself fulltime to writing, and that’s one investment that’s surely paid off in big dividends — apparently even with those ever-fickle, book snob Folio Weekly readers! Over the course of his eight published novels, Martin has chronicled the complex lives and loves of people like third-generation Texas Ranger Tyler Steele, the protagonist of his latest novel, “Thunder and Rain,” in a style that is marketed as a kind of contemporary Christian fiction. The 42-year-old Martin lives in Jacksonville “a stone’s throw from the St. Johns River” with his wife Christy and their three sons. — DB

Best Local Poetry Slam Artist

Al Letson

Al Letson grew up with a love of words, channeling his passions into his adolescent pursuits of spoken-word and hip-hop. After graduating from Orange Park High School, Letson took a job as a flight attendant so he’d be able to travel the country and compete in poetry slams. The journeyman’s restless spirit led him to poetry slam contests and stages throughout the nation; he was featured on HBO’s “Def Poetry” and CBS’s 2004 Final Four PreGame show. The now 41-year-old Letson has since built an impressive, multidisciplinary career as a playwright, actor, poet and spoken-word artist. Letson’s latest endeavor, the radio program “State of the Re:Union,” focuses on separate communities and what his website calls the “vital cultural narratives” that are born from each location’s collective identities. “State of the Re:Union” originally aired in 2012 and NPR renewed the show for a second season this past June. — DB

Best Community Theater Group

Players by the Sea

Since 1966, the Jacksonville Beach-based Players by the Sea has delivered memorable performances of classic and cutting-edge theatrical works while raising the bar for local community theater. This last year’s season has been no exception, with productions of familiar favorites like “Chicago,” “The Trojan Women” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” presented along with more contemporary fare such as “Tru,” “Superior Donuts” and the dark love story of “Bug.” The 2012-’13 season includes the current run of “Avenue Q” as well as upcoming performances of “In the Blood,” the award-winning rock musical “Passing Strange” and “A Trip to Bountiful.” Folio Weekly readers have responded with their ultimate standing ovation. — DB

Best Gallery

CoRK Arts District

The brainchild of developer Mac Easton and artist Dolf James, located on the corner of Rosselle and King Streets (hence “CoRK”) in Riverside, this 80,000-square-foot warehouse space has become the de facto headquarters and hangout for many in the Northeast Florida arts scene. CoRK houses the gallery space and artist studios of 20-plus locals including James, Jim Draper, Crystal Floyd and Jamie Jordan, Sharla Valeski, George Cornwell and Noli Novak, Paul Ladnier, Morrison Pierce, Jen Jones and Donald Dusinberre, Helen Cowart, Thony Aiuppy and Joy Poulard. An exhibit of mixed-media works by Caroline Daley and Sharla Valeski opens Saturday, Oct. 13 in the West Gallery. — DB

Best DJ: Bobby Laredo

Best Live Music Club

Best Dance Club

Best Concert of 2012: Jake Owen

Best Bartender: Dillon Lyons


Northeast Floridians must really love them some honky tonk. Located at The Jacksonville Landing, the 21,000-square-foot nightclub behemoth Mavericks snagged a total of five Best of Jax readers’ poll wins this year, making it the undeniable heavyweight for Northeast Florida nightlife. Locals can cut a rug and bust a move on the club’s mega-sized dance floor or check out some of club’s concert offerings, including this year’s BOJ winner Jake Owen. Mavericks’ house DJ Bobby Laredo and bartender Dillon Lyons also won top honors. Throw in a total Western saloon vibe, the upstairs VIP vibe (with chandeliers!) and even a frickin’ mechanical bull for those whose bravery is fueled by spirits, and it’s no wonder FW readers mosey downtown to Mavericks when they want nighttime thrills. — DB

Best Outdoor Festival

Jacksonville Jazz Festival

Jacksonville might suffer from some bad press occasionally, but it’s nice to know we can still host one hell of a jazz jam. More than three decades old, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival draws tens of thousands each year to the area (now in its current and successful home in the heart of downtown) to groove to what is considered by many to be America’s only original art form: jazz. The city canceled the last day of this year’s festival due to inclement weather, but music lovers still had the chance to enjoy the sounds of Sonny Rollins, Béla Fleck and the Marcus Roberts Trio, and Patti Austin with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, along with local heavyweights, including Longineu Parsons, Tropic of Cancer, Doc Handy and Von Barlow’s Jazz Journey. — DB

Best Local Open Mic Night

Fly’s Tie Irish Pub

When this much-loved Atlantic Beach hangout isn’t hosting primo local acts like Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, Wes Cobb, Dirty Pete & the Thunderchief or Firewater Tent Revival, it’s giving others a chance to perform original tunes or render their own takes on classic sing-alongs. Every Tuesday, the pub hosts Open Mic Night, when musical hopefuls can bare their souls onstage. So whether you’re debuting your new single, “Now I Wanna Be Your Dog (Unless Your Name is Mitt Romney),” or perhaps test the crowd’s levels of patience and inebriation with a 12-minute drone metal version of Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” this neighborhood pub has earned highest marks for the most inviting, receptive (and probably tolerant) evening geared toward laid-back professional and eager amateur musician alike. — DB

Best Karaoke Place

Austin Karaoke

For some, Karaoke is just a fun, or forced, distraction during a night out at a bar or restaurant. Austin Karaoke is for those who want the mic — really want the mic. With no time-hogging KJs to get in the way, you and your friends can settle into the plush, private, smoke-free rooms and program all your favorite tunes back-to-back without the annoying interruption of performances by unknown dweebs who can’t sing. You are the master of your musical domain at a fee per person, per hour. The song selection is broad, if not entirely up-to-date, and you could pick out a tune in one of several Asian languages available in the songlist. — DMR

Best Bowling Alley

Beach Bow

According to market researchers IBISWorld, bowling alleys in the U.S. take in $3 billion in revenue. That’s a lot of White Russians and logo cardigans! (“The Big Lebowski” references are for those born after 1985.) And when it comes to local pin droppers, Northeast Floridians prefer to spend their money at Beach Bowl in Jax Beach. There are birthday parties for the wee ones, league play for the hardcore, and late-night cosmic bowling for those interested in a more psychedelic experience. What’s better than lacing up some used leather shoes and going toe-to-toe with Jesus Quintana? “Lebowski” — c’mon, people. — KP

Best Camp

Best Place to Bike

Best Park

Hanna Park

It seems that people on the First Coast really love Hanna Park. Officially named Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park (after the educator and author who served on the board of Parks & Historical Places in Florida), the park has won not one, not two, but three Best of Jax entries this year. With 1.5 miles of pristine public beach, Hanna Park abuts Mayport Naval Station and consists of 447 acres of mature coastal hammock — rare for anywhere in Florida. A portion of the park was originally known as Manhattan Beach, Florida’s first beach community for African-Americans during segregation — established around 1900 by blacks working the Florida East Coast Railway. Today, Hanna Park, operated by the city of Jacksonville, boasts nearly 15 miles of BMX trails, a 60-acre freshwater lake for fishing, kayaking, pedal-boating and canoeing, a kids’ splash park, camping facilities, scenic trails for biking and hiking, picnic areas and “The Poles,” one of Northeast Florida’s premier surfing destinations. Geez, what does this place not have? When it comes to spending a night underneath the stars, remember, First Coasters have named Hanna Park the best camping around, there’s plenty of room for cabins, tents, RVs, campers and beach parking, including facilities for laundry and recycling, a bath house, picnic shelter and boat ramp. And Hanna Park’s also the “Best Place to Bike.” The official city of Jacksonville website tells it like it is: “Long Trail and Back 40 give novices a place to try their off-road skills, while Grunt, Misery and Tornado Alley offer a wild and wooly adventure through the trees for those seeking more of a challenge.” Whatever you love about Hanna Park, it’s quite evident there’s enough fun to go around. — KP

Best Fishing Spot

The Pier at Jacksonville Beach

Opened at the end of 2004, the Jax Beach Pier is 1,320 feet long and features a 20-foot-wide wooden deck, fish-cleaning stations, concession area, bait shop and restrooms. Sounds like a great place to catch barracuda, butterfish, triple tail, ribbonfish, ladyfish or any of the other types of deep-water species catchable from the pier. At a cost of $3.5 million, the pier, located on First Street North, is the hottest fishing spot in town. Just remember: Leave your rollerblades, bicycles, sleeping bags and fly rods at home. — KP

Best Skate Spot

Kona Skate Park

Constructed in 1977, Kona Skate Park is the world’s longest-surviving skatepark and features “hardcore concrete verts, an old-school downhill snake run and metal street course.” Located on Kona Avenue in Arlington, the park has grown to cover six acres, making it the largest in the country, boasting two competition street courses, an 80-foot-wide competition vert ramp and a 10-foot-deep kidney pool. Kona is also known for its weekly specials, including Monday’s ladies night (females skate for free after 6 p.m.), Tuesday’s grom night (12 and younger skate for $5 after 6 p.m.) and Wednesday old-school (skaters 30 years and older skate for $5 all day). That’s the whole family! — KP

Best Surf Spot

Jacksonville Beach

With more than four miles of sandy beaches, Jacksonville Beach is Northeast Florida’s go-to surf spot — and for good reason. The town is home to oodles of surf contests like WaveMasters, Surfers for Autism, Super Grom Surf Festival, EPIC Surf Contest and the U.S. Surfing Federation Championships. There are also plenty of surf camps, surf shops, a surfer-inspired local magazine, Void, and online surf forecasts and reports. — KP

Best Place to Stay Cool

Jacksonville Beach

Some say the term “cool” was first used in the musical “West Side Story.” Others say it was in the 18th century, when people used the expression “cool as a cucumber.” Either way, when it comes to folks in Northeast Florida, the best place to stay “cool” is Jacksonville Beach — and rightly so. There are more than 4.1 miles of sandy beach coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, dozens of surf contests, a summer jazz series and a sea and sky show. What’s not to love? Jacksonville Beach also offers dozens of restaurants and bars with any alcoholic frozen concoction you can imagine and fresh seafood pulled right from the Atlantic. — KP

Best Athlete in Northeast Florida

Maurice Jones-Drew

One day, Folio Weekly might rename this the Maurice Jones-Drew Award. In three years of awarding the honor, it’s gone to the Jaguars’ bruising running back every time. Jones-Drew spreads the glory for all his honors and awards, including his 2011 NFL rushing title, to teammates. “It showed the hard work that we put in throughout the year,” Jones-Drew said. “We know our record didn’t show it, but we worked hard every day to get victories. … It wasn’t just an individual award. It was an award for everyone. These guys [his offensive line and fullback Greg Jones] deserved it more than anyone.” In Week 3 against the Colts, those teammates cleared a path for Jones-Drew on the Jaguars’ first offensive play of the second half. The three-time All-Pro made the most of it, running for a 59-yard touchdown that sparked a second-half rally and moved him ahead of former teammate Fred Taylor for the franchise record in rushing TDs. “It’s always very special when you do something like that, [breaking a record of] a guy who mentored me and taught me how to play the game,” Jones-Drew said at a recent charity event for his and Jones’ foundations. “He [Taylor] has some other records. I don’t know if I’ll be able to break them or not.” After a trying off-season, when he held out for a new contract but didn’t receive it, Jones-Drew appreciated the votes of fans and the support he continues to hear on game days. “We have very intelligent fans,” he said. “They understand both sides of the game [the players and ownership]. The support that I got was great, not only from my teammates but also the fans.” — DJ

Best Place to Canoe or Kayak

Kayak Amelia

Offering activities touted as “human-powered adventure,” Kayak Amelia holds a slew of ecotours and kayak tours from Amelia Island to Jacksonville, including guided tours using a fleet of one- and two-person sea-touring kayaks with a sit-in cockpit. Their location at Talbot Island State Park rents canoes, sit-on-top and other recreational-style kayaks. According to Kayak Amelia’s website, “After taking out more than 20,000 guests on guided tours, we’ve had only 70 fall in the water! Most of them were fooling around and wanted to get wet anyway.” The site also informs, but does not promise, wildlife sightings including many species of migrating birds, dolphins, manatees, otters, rays and other sea life. — KP

Best B&B in Jacksonville

The Riverdale Inn

Built in 1901 by wealthy turpentine baron William Kelly, Riverdale Inn in Riverside is one of only two of the original mansions that lined Riverside Avenue (aka “The Row”) at the turn of the century. Bursting with solid heart-of-pine floors, wainscoting, crown moldings and the original painted shingle façade, The Riverdale Inn is a favorite among visitors to the area. Each of the 10 rooms has its own personality — Shadowlawn, Park Suite, Margaret’s Window and Roosevelt, to name a few — and the Inn is located within walking distance to Memorial Park and 5 Points shopping. — KP

Best B&B in St. Augustine

Casablanca Inn

With panoramic views of Matanzas Bay and the Bridge of Lions, Casablanca Inn in downtown St. Augustine is a 1914 Mediterranean revival historic home boasting 23 rooms and suites. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Casablanca Inn comprises a main house, coach house and “secret garden” rooms. What makes it a popular destination is its Tini Martini Bar, featuring an extensive martini menu, 32 vintages by the glass, single-malt Scotch choices and 28 beers, as well as live music Thursday through Saturday evenings. — KP

Best Bike Shop

Bicycles Etc.

The cycling world has had a rough summer, what with Lance Armstrong being stripped of his record seven consecutive Tour de France wins, but that doesn’t mean people are going to stop looking for pink Beach Cruisers, rad BMX rides or a $1,400 ’13 Trek Madone 2.1C. Fortunately, Bicycles Etc., established in 1994 by Michael Scarbrough, has convenient locations on Philips Highway and Beach Boulevard. The shop’s website said it’s grown into the largest bicycle retailer in Jacksonville, with sales and rentals of brands like Trek, Gary Fisher, Cannondale, Phat Cycles, MirraCo and Redline. — KP

Best Local Bookstore

Chamblin Bookmine

In your face, eBooks! Since 1976, Chamblin Bookmine has been satisfying the literary desires of local book lovers. Ron Chamblin originally opened his shop on Herschel Street in Avondale. In 1991, the store moved to its current warehouse-like space on Roosevelt Boulevard and in 2008, a second location, Chamblin’s Uptown, opened in Downtown Jacksonville on Laura Street. The combined inventory of both stores surpasses a million titles spread out over a collective (and maze-like) 55,000 square feet! So whether you’re looking for tips on hydroponic horticulture, the arcane history of Hermes Trismegistus or just want to make sure you have every Harry Potter book in hardcover and paperback, Chamblin Bookmine is a word nerd’s paradise. — DB

Best Place to Buy a New Car

Best Place to Buy a Pre-Owned Car

Tom Bush

The Tom Bush family of dealerships has been putting regional drivers behind the wheel for more than 40 years, ever since Tom Bush Jr. (Mr. B) opened his first local dealership in 1970. Since selling its first Volkswagen, the dealership has grown to include BMW, Mazda and Mini Cooper, as well as used vehicles. So whether you’ve finally decided to buy that convertible 2013 BMW 135i you’ve been dreaming about or are in the market for a reliable used car to get your family around town, Tom Bush has a ride for you. Go peruse the lots in person or check out the inventory online ( — CG

Best Clothing Store

Stein Mart

Self-described as an “upscale, off-price specialty store chain,” Stein Mart has been voted the place to shop for beaded tunics, gauze skirts, leather pumps, men’s accoutrement, accessories and beyond. Founded just after the turn of the 20th century, Stein Mart claims that its prices are “up to 60 percent below department store prices,” according to its website. With seven locations in Northeast Florida — San Jose to Fernandina Beach — who wouldn’t want to take advantage of a little bargain shopping? FYI, if you’re looking to save even more dough, check out the website’s printable coupons and red dot clearance specials. — KP

Best Vintage/Consignment/Thrift Store

Fifi’s Fine Resale Apparel

Whether you’re looking for a vintage Chanel wool jacket, Burberry quilted barn jacket, 1960s paisley Pucci bellbottom jumpsuit or 7 For All Mankind jeans, Fifi’s Fine Resale Apparel is the place to go. Open for more than 20 years, Fifi’s now has more than 20 boutiques throughout the Southeast, with regional locations on Amelia Island, in Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine. Touted on the website as a “truly cooperative approach to selling and shopping,” Fifi’s corners the market for the resale of designer and name-brand apparel for women. One woman’s unwanted, gently used, high-end peacoat is another woman’s treasure. — KP

Best Dive Shop

Atlantic Pro Divers

According to Scuba Diving Magazine, the waters off Jacksonville are a great place to dive: “The continental shelf lies far offshore, so depths rarely dip below recreational limits. In addition to fish-packed limestone ledges, you can dive the 327-foot landing craft Casablanca, sunk in 1972 in 85 to 110 feet of water, and the 225-foot freighter Anna, which went down in 1986.” So if you’re in the market for an Ocean Rhino Speargun, Atomic Aquatics TI6 Dive Knife or a Suunto D9TX (that’s a dive computer), Atlantic Pro Divers has been voted the place to go. Founded in 1974, the shop claims it’s Jacksonville’s oldest scuba lesson and scuba dive boat charter service. — KP

Best Farmers Market

Riverside Arts Market

Open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — March to December — Riverside Arts Market, affectionately known as RAM, is Northeast Florida’s favorite stop for organic produce, handcrafted goods and prepared foods. Established in April 2009 and located beneath the Fuller Warren Bridge, RAM features as many as 160 artists, musicians, entertainers, street performers and food vendors hawking everything from local honey to artisanal breads and locally grown herbs and produce. Plus, there’s a ton of extras including free Wi-Fi, free art workshops and free bike valet. Honestly, what better way is there to spend a Saturday afternoon? — KP

Best Local Florist

Kuhn Flowers

Did you know that flower arrangement dates back to ancient Egyptian times? Sure, the Nile River wasn’t doused in hot pink carnations or baby’s breath to be cut for Cleopatra, but you get the point. Flowers have been around for a long, long time. And when it comes to Northeast Florida, Kuhn Flowers is the place to shop with locations in Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine. Serving the area since 1947, Kuhn has created floral arrangements and gift baskets for as long as most people can remember. And as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Earth laughs in flowers.” — KP

Best Hairstylist

Lauren Berryman at Bliss

Comedian George Burns quipped, “Too bad all the people who know how to run this country are busy running taxicabs or cutting hair.” For Northeast Floridians, Lauren Berryman, 30, who worked the last year at Bliss Hair Studio on Third Street South in Jacksonville Beach should be the next president of the United States. Berryman, who has been a stylist for 12 years and just started at Mary Airheart Salon in San Marco, said of the win, “My wonderful clients are what make me unique as a stylist. They are the canvas that allows me to showcase the art of hairdressing.” Bliss offers everything from consultations to hair coloring, styling, cuts and product and finding the perfect hairstylist is a lot like finding a good psychiatrist — she who listens will be yours for life. — KP

Best Health Club/Gym

Bailey’s Powerhouse Gym

In northern climates, it’s easy to hide that extra junk in the trunk. But down here in the Sunshine State’s minimum of six months of beach weather, you want to keep those guts toned — any given weekend, you could be showing off the bod in a bathing suit. Bailey’s Powerhouse Gym, voted Best of Jax again this year, has everything you’ll need to get healthy, tone up, lose weight or just maintain your already rockin’ shape. At Bailey’s 11 Northeast Florida locations, you’ll have access to tons of equipment, personal trainers, dieticians, fitness classes, saunas and more. — CG

Best Health Food Store

Native Sun Natural Foods Market

In 1996, before eating vegetarian and organic foods became a trend, Aaron Gottlieb opened the grocery store Native Sun. More than 16 years later, now with locations on San Jose Boulevard and Baymeadows Road, Native Sun offers hundreds of prepackaged goods as well as takeout items like gluten-free oatmeal crème pie, a Caribbean Tempeh wrap and apple flax smoothies. Intimidated by eating new dishes or on a special diet? The staff at Native Sun offers free store tours that, the website says, teach customers about the “unique color-coded tagging system that allows you to easily determine whether or not a product fits into your diet.” — KP

Best Jewelry Store

Underwood Jewelers

For more than 80 years, Underwood’s has been helping Northeast Floridians find engagement rings, happy retirement watches, “I’m sorry” blue topaz earrings and wedding pearled candlesticks. Founded in 1928 by H.F. Underwood, the multi-location (San Marco, Ponte Vedra Beach, Avondale and The Avenues Mall) jeweler claims the largest American Gem Society-credentialed staff east of the Mississippi River. Offering top names in jewelry design – David Yurman, DiModolo, Roberto Coin and Marco Bicego, to name a few — Underwood’s has eight decades of staying power. — KP

Best Liquor Store

ABC Fine Wine & Spirits

ABC Fine Wine & Spirits has been lifting spirits in the Sunshine State for more than 75 years. ABC is a one-stop shop with an impressive inventory that includes everything from the usual, mainstream suspects to local microbrews, all types of wines and spirits for every occasion, in addition to mixers, tobacco products, snacks and more. Stop in one of the many locations around the First Coast for all of your cocktail party or tailgating needs. — CG

Best Plastic Surgeon

Best Day Spa

Loren Clayman, Dr. Clayman’s Miracle Spa

Hats off to Loren Clayman: This is his 16th year in a row as Best Plastic Surgeon! This year, Dr. Clayman’s Miracle Spa also takes the prize for Best Day Spa. But the good doctor hasn’t spent his entire illustrious medical career serving the public; before finding his way into private practice, the former Air Force Lieutenant Colonel performed facial reconstructions on returning Vietnam War prisoners of war. A board-certified plastic surgeon for more than 30 years, his are the dedicated hands of experience and finesse. And Dr. Clayman’s Miracle Spa, located next to St. Vincent’s Hospital in historic Riverside, offers a variety of non-surgical services for all your beautifying, relaxing and rejuvenating needs. No matter the reason — a simple massage and facial or something a little more invigorating — Dr. Clayman’s Miracle Spa has just the thing. — CG

Best Record Store

Young Loud & Snotty

Aside from a pretty rad name, Young Loud & Snotty (YLS) is Northeast Floridians’ choice when it comes to buying the latest in rock, country, rap, hip-hop, soul, indie and hardcore music or fashion. Established in August 2010 by Dale Kellerman, the Atlantic Beach-based record-slash-skateboard-slash-accessory store touts itself as having “the largest selection of any record store in Jacksonville [904 area code].” “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, friends and customers,” Kellerman said. “It’s awesome to see that our hard work after two years is starting to pay off.” — KP

Best Skate Shop

Skate Bomb

Looking to become the next Steve Caballero, Tony Hawk or Ryan Sheckler? Established in the mid-’90s, Skate Bomb has been outfitting grommets, grownups and everyone in between for the past 15 years with everything from inline skates to skateboards to roller skates, as well as pads and accessories. Located on Third Street South in Jacksonville Beach, Skate Bomb is owned and operated by skaters for skaters who say the shop’s number one goal is to “get you rollin.’” — KP

Best Smoke Shop/Cigar Bar/Hookah Lounge

Island Girl Cigar B

Grab a comfy sofa seat at one of Island Girl Cigar Bar’s three locations in Neptune Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach and Jacksonville’s St. Johns Town Center. Each features a full liquor bar, craft beer, extensive wine and port list and walk-in