Best Of Santa Barbara® 2012

The Santa Barbara Independent Readers Vote Their Favorites for 2012

Photos by Paul Wellman

Democracy isn’t always pretty. You cast your vote, and you take your chance. Sometimes your candidate is not communally endorsed by the rest of the throngs, and so, like in sports, we must learn to gracefully pluck Defeat from Victory’s thrilling mouth — because the world we live in is a shared experience.

Why bring this up now, as we celebrate the winners of our annual Best Of Readers’ Poll? Because always, and we here feel it, too, a hint of sadness haunts the winner’s circle. Obviously, some worthies go ignored while other folk seem always to win. Excellent local businesses like Summerland’s Bikini Factory and State Street’s Mountain Air Sports have been number-one’d since the contest began in the 1980s, and we frankly can’t see any problem with that.

Other businesses — and we’re thinking of the immense restauranting community — seem to be continually up or down. (Remember when downtown had half-a-dozen cookie shops?) Some, like Joe’s, Harry’s, and McConnell’s, practically form the city’s heart. So maybe other fine food-and-drinking establishments haven’t been sanctified. Give ‘em a coupla-three decades, and they might top the charts, too.

But the part that best mitigates our wistful desire for universal inclusion is our stronger urge to know what people out there think. And even better is when the readers discover new things. Our Best Of issue, for instance, offers a brand-new category this year — the food truck. And new favorite places such as Lilly’s Tacos and Plum Goods have been honored. These things give us heart and the promise that excellence will maybe one day be recognized by the General Public, and that makes democracy — even when applied to picking doughnuts and kicking tires — seem beautiful.

Drinking - From coffee sipping to cocktail slamming, here are our readers’ choices on the best places for drinking in Santa Barbara.

Driving - Taxicabs, car dealerships, and repair shops are just some of the categories in the list of our readers’ choices for best driving-related businesses in Santa Barbara.

Eating - The best steak, burrito, clam chowder, Thai food, and more are all detailed here as part of our readers’ choices for top eating spots in Santa Barbara.

Falling in Love - As one of the capitals for getting married, Santa Barbara’s best love zones are listed here as part of our readers’ choices for where to fall in love in Santa Barbara.

Going Out - Rock shows, dance performances, pool halls, and art galleries are just some of the categories in this round-up of our readers’ choices for top places to go out in Santa Barbara.

Housing - From buying your home to planting your garden, here are our readers’ choices for top home-related businesses in Santa Barbara.

Little Creatures - Pets and babies are the focus here, with readers’ choices for the best spots for kids and creatures in Santa Barbara.

Living Well - Acupuncturists, bookstores, copy shops, and retirements residences are but a short list of the many categories highlighted here as our readers’ choices for favorite lifestyle spots and services in Santa Barbara.

Looking Good - Hairdos, manicures, clothing stores, and dry cleaners can be found here, amidst our readers’ choices for best beauty and style-related businesses in Santa Barbara.

Media - Who and what to read and watch are covered here as part of our readers’ choices for top media in Santa Barbara.

Sporting Life - Running shoes, skateboards, blue whales, and tee times are part of the selections here in our readers’ choices for all things sporting in Santa Barbara.

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