Best Of 2016: The Winners

BEST OF 2016 WINNERS

The Forum’s Best of the Red River Valley contest is 10 years old this year, and we’re again celebrating with our readers who annually vote for their favorite food, entertainment, sports and businesses among hundreds of great nominations that make our region a great place to live.

In its tenth year, The Forum’s Best of the Red River Valley voting results show a mix of perennial favorites battling it out with strong newcomers in dozens of categories.

Here’s how it works: Forum and Inforum.com readers submit their nominations in the various categories. The top five nominees from each category then advance to the finals, where readers vote to decide the winners.

This year, almost 4,500 ballots were cast. You voted; we amassed and reported. Special thanks to Forum photographers Michael Vosburg, David Samson and Dave Wallis for providing the photos for this section.

Ten years is a big milestone. Let’s blow out the candles and celebrate the best among us as we grow and prosper.


Best-Bloody-Mary

Location: 4301 17th Ave. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 551­-0013

You’ve retained the crown for “Best Bloody Mary” from last year. How excited are you about defending that title?
“We’ve been known for our Bloody Mary mix since we opened five years ago,” said manager Landa Heaton. “People love the BLT that we serve with the Bloody on Saturday and Sundays.”

What’s the secret to making your Bloody Mary so remarkable?
“We use a housemade mix so it’s all made from scratch, and it’s got a lot of flavor,” Heaton said. “Plus the presentation – people like seeing that BLT sandwich on their Bloody Mary when they order one on Saturday or Sunday.”

— Danielle Teigen


2016-best-coffee

Location: 5675 26th Ave. S, Suite 100, Fargo and 2550 S. University Dr., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 540-9055

You jumped from third to first this year. Why do you think that is?
“We opened a second shop so spreading out across Fargo may have helped build following,” said manager Brittany Boeddeker.

What makes the coffee at Beans so memorable?
“Our main focus is pouring love one cup at a time. We focus on customer service as much as product we’re selling,” Boeddeker said. “We want all our customers to feel loved and appreciated.”

What sets Beans apart from all the other coffee places in the area?
“I think it’s a combination of the great story of how Heidi Holland decided to open the place and that it’s locally owned,” Boeddeker said.

– Danielle Teigen


Best Ribs, Spitfire Bar and Grill David Samson / The Forum
Best Ribs, Spitfire Bar and Grill David Samson / The Forum

Location: 1660 13th Ave. E., West Fargo
Phone number: (701) 478­-8667
Contact: General manager Gordy Ferkul

What makes Spitfire’s ribs unique?
“I want to say consistency,” said general manager Gordy Ferkul. “We haven’t changed a thing since we opened We kept the same recipe and it’s obviously worked. When people come in, they know what to expect – it’s not too spicy or too hot, too much rub or not enough rub.”

What pairs best with your ribs?
“I say the ribs match up really well with our combinations which would be our rotisserie chicken – that’s one of our best sellers, our ribs and chicken. There’s also ribs and steak,” Ferkul said. “If you like the barbecue theme, we also have our baked barbecue beans, and we’re also got our coleslaw which are made in house. They pair up pretty good with everything.”

What would you tell someone who has never been to Spitfire?
“Just come in and try our raspberry ribs, because they’re amazing,” Ferkul said. “I always get the sampler, because you get the Memphis dry, and then you get the barbecue – which is KC-style – and then the raspberry style. So the raspberry would be like dessert.”

– Alexandra Floersch


Lemon curd tarts and Napolean desserts at Nichole's Fine Pastry in downtown Fargo. David Samson / The Forum
Lemon curd tarts and Napolean desserts at Nichole’s Fine Pastry in downtown Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

Location: 13 8th St. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 232­-6430

Reaction to being a repeat winner for this category?
“We’re in our 13th year here,” said owner Nichole Hensen, “and we’re just overwhelmed that the community continues to support us so nicely and for so many years.”

Why do you think people come to Nichole’s?
“I hope they see the value of what we’re doing. We care about how we prepare everything. We use the best ingredients, like organic eggs, for example. It helps the product taste better. We hope people can see the product looks as good as it tastes,” Hensen said.

What are your favorites treats?
“Lately, I’ve been enjoying the caramel pecan bar,” she said. “Whenever I need an afternoon pick me up, I’ll grab one of them. But I think my all-time favorite is the lemon meringue pie. I’m just such a big fan of lemon.”

– Tracy Briggs


2016-best-happy-hour

Locations: 2350 45th St. S, Fargo; 2800 13th Ave. SW, Fargo; 2001 16th St. N, Fargo; 1640 13th Ave. E, West Fargo
Phone number: (701) 232-4100
Contact: Christine Olien, general manager at 2800 13th Ave. SW

When can people enjoy your happy hour?
“We run happy hour seven days a week from 3 to 6 p.m. and then from 9 p.m. until midnight,” said Christine Olien, the general manager at 2800 13th Ave. SW location.

What makes your happy hour special?
“We run some great drink specials,” Olien said. “We’ve got the Perfect Margarita which is one of Applebee’s signature drinks. It’s $2 off the regular price. The drink itself is actually two drinks – you get it in a tin so it’s actually two glasses.”

What do you recommended for a happy hour drink and appetizer?
“The half-priced appetizers are probably the most popular – what most people come in for,” Olien said. “Our wings are super popular and they are all half-priced so that puts them in the area of about $4. A happy hour drink would be a Perfect Margarita paired with our steak quesadilla.”

– Alexandra Floersch


Best-Vegetarian

Location: 1801 45th St. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 478­-4688

Why do people think of HuHot when they think vegetarian options?
“I think they think of us as a type of health food restaurant where they can get healthy, fresh food,” said general manager Emily Davis. “They don’t have to ask the server to take food away from their order; they get to put the food together that they want to eat.”

How do you cater specifically to your vegetarian customers?
“On Sundays, we have vegetarian night where we offer six additional veggies,” David said.

– Danielle Teigen


Best Fries

Location: 518 1st Ave. N., Fargo; 4240 32nd Ave. S., Fargo; 810 13th Ave. E., West Fargo; 2902 Hwy. 10, E., Moorhead
Phone number: (701) 492-­3377

Reaction to your follow-up win?
“We try to put out the best burgers and beer everyday, and we’re just glad people seem to appreciate what we do,” said Brandon Nilson, general manager of JL Beers in downtown Fargo.

What makes your fries different?
“They’re ours,” Nilson said. “We don’t pre-cut our fries and chips. We cut them after you order them. You can’t get more fresh than that!”

What would you say to someone who has never been to JL Beers?
“We’re in our seventh year in Fargo-Moorhead,” Nilson said. “I’d invite them to come out and try it.”

– Tracy Briggs


BESTDRIVETHRU

Locations: 1900 Main Ave, Fargo and 1620 1st Ave, N, Moorhead
Phone numbers: (701) 241-9572; (218) 233-9641

What makes your drive-thru “the best?”
“We strive for great and friendly customer service,” said general manager Daphne Toribio.

What’s something that people may not know about Burger Time?
“We’ve been around for 30 years,” Toribio said.

What’s your favorite item on the menu?
“The chicken sandwich,” Toribio said.

– Hillary Sorenson


2016-best-chinese

Locations: 3003 32nd Ave S, Fargo and 4323 45th St. S #105, Fargo
Phone numbers: (701) 356-5100 and (701) 756-5166

Why do you think Lucy’s was voted best Chinese restaurant?
“Our food is fresh, and we serve everything same day. It doesn’t sit overnight,” said owner Lucy Penney.

What’s your favorite item on the menu?
“I like anything spicy,” Penney said.

Do you have plans to open a third location?
“We are thinking about it…just don’t know when or where,” Penney said.

– Hillary Sorenson


2016 Best Sushi    Izumi Sushi & Hibachi Dave Wallis / The Forum
2016 Best Sushi Izumi Sushi & Hibachi Dave Wallis / The Forum

Location: 5675 26th Ave S, Fargo
Phone number: (701) 356-8556

What sets your sushi apart from the other sushi restaurants in town?
“We offer all you can eat and hibachi,” says the manager John Weng.

What’s your favorite sushi roll offered on the menu?
“I prefer the dragon roll,” Weng said.

– Hillary Sorenson


Best Outdoor Dining 2013 Rhombus Guys Carrie Snyder / The Forum
Best Outdoor Dining 2016 Rhombus Guys Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Location: 606 Main Ave., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 540­-4534

What makes your patio great?
“It’s one of few rooftop dining areas – one of the only ones you can get a full menu and full dining experience in Fargo anyway,” said general manager Drew Balstad. “We try to focus on everything that a normal restaurant tries to focus on when it comes to service, but we do a lot of unique cocktails” that are outdoor friendly,” he said.

How many people can you seat outside?
“Right around 70 people,” Balstad said. “The only issue we have with the rooftop is that we can’t seat everybody that wants to get up there. That’s a shame.”

What months/time frame is outdoor seating available?
“We generally try to be ready to have it open in April, and if the weather cooperates, we definitely do that,” he said. “Generally by the first week in May we’re going to be pretty much open. It runs until about October.”

— Alexandra Floersch


Best-Breakfast

Location: 3215 N. Broadway, Fargo
Phone number: (701) 356-­2211

What’s your favorite breakfast item on the menu?
“By far the buttermilk pancakes,” says owner Tanya Bale.

What makes your breakfast food so good?
“Everything is homemade and fresh,” Bale said. “We have the whole package: great service, great food, we know everyone’s names…it’s really got a small town feel and that’s why people like it.”

— Hillary Sorenson


2016-best-wine-selection

Location: 3 Fargo locations: 1125 19th Ave. N., 1621 45th St. S.W., 4001 53rd Ave. S.
Phone number: (701) 235­-4661

Reaction to winning:
“It is so humbling to win all three categories! (Best Beer Selection, Best Wine Selection, Best Liquor Store),” said Dustin Mitzel, CEO of Happy Harry’s Bottle Shop. “We travel the country and the world, visiting wineries, breweries and distilleries to further enhance our knowledge and find the little gems that our customers will enjoy.”

What makes your wine selection out of the ordinary?
Mitzel said, “For many years we have said that we ‘take the mystery out of wine,’” he says. “We try and display our wines in an approachable manner so that it is easy to find your favorite. We are constantly in touch with new wineries and importers to find new and exciting wines, while still offering many of our customers’ favorites.”

— Tracy Briggs


Best of Mexican Restaurant Acapulco Mexican Restaurant  David Samson / The Forum
Best of Mexican Restaurant Acapulco Mexican Restaurant David Samson / The Forum

Location: 1150 36th St. S, Fargo
Phone number: (701) 297-0355
What makes Acapulco different from the other Mexican restaurants in town?
“Everything is scratch,” said owner Jesus Sandoval. “Even our chips and salsa are homemade.”

What is your favorite thing on the menu?
“This is so tough, but probably the fajitas,” Sandoval said.

– Hillary Sorenson


2016 Best of   Steak Restaurant   Texas Roadhouse Dave Wallis / The Forum
2016 Best of Steak Restaurant Texas Roadhouse Dave Wallis / The Forum

Location: 4971 13th Ave. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 282-8590

With several other steak places in the area, what makes yours the best?
“It’s the quality that we serve,” managing partner Brandon Goebel. “Our steaks are cut every day from scratch – hand cut.”

What’s your favorite pairing with the steak?
“Try smothering your steak with shrimp. It gives it a little extra – surf and turf,” he said. “Our steak also pairs great with any draft beer.”

Besides steak, what other dishes do you recommend?
“Ribs. Our ribs are fall-off-the-bone ribs,” Goebel said. “They take three days to prep – they’re to die for.”

– Alexandra Floersch


best-italian-carinos

Location: 4410 17th Ave. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 282-­2922

What set Johnny Carino’s apart from other Italian restaurants?
“We are a scratch kitchen,” said manager, Brendan Strand. “We make it all in house and by hand.”

What is your favorite menu item?
“The skilletini is my favorite,” Strand said.

– Hillary Sorenson


Best-Bakery

Locations: 301 Main Ave. W., West Fargo and 300 Broadway N., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 281-0430 (Main) and (701) 478-1155 (Broadway)

You’ve defended this title eight times now – how exciting is that accomplishment?
“That is very exciting. We’re always happy to receive that honor,” said owner Mark Ostlund. “We’re always humbled by the love we are shown by this community. We’ve been blessed with great customers for 33 years.”

What makes your baked goods so memorable?
“Quite often I have people who come in and say, ‘These are just like I would get from my hometown bakery.’ We hear that quite a bit,” Ostlund said.

How often do you test out new donut flavors?
“We are always scanning and looking for new ideas, trying out new flavors. That’s one of my jobs. I have probably four pages of new donuts to try,” Ostlund said.

What do you think is the best donut you make?
“One of our biggest sellers is the glazed donut or chocolate-filled donut. Simple but delicious,” Ostlund said. “One of our big donuts you can’t find elsewhere is the Angel Icing; it has white, fluffy vanilla frosting inside a Bismarck that is covered in powdered sugar. People come especially for that donut.”

— Danielle Teigen


2016-best-late-night-food

Location: 117 N. Broadway, Fargo
Phone number: (701) 478­-7933

Reaction to winning?
“We really appreciate that people love our food,” said general manager Kanyarat Anderson. “We try our best to keep our good work.”

How late are you open?
“Monday through Thursday, we are open until 9 p.m.,” she said. On Friday and Saturdays, “the Drunken Noodle stays open until 3 in the morning. I think we’re constantly busy, but the peak is a little before bar close – midnight to 1 a.m.”

What’s the most popular late-night dish?
“It’s hard to say. The pad Thai and the fried rice are very popular,” she said. “The mac and cheese is always popular. Everybody loves everything.”

– Alexandra Floersch


The HuHot Mongolian Grill in Fargo offers a wide selection of vegetables to be used in meals that are built by each diner to be cooked by staff members. Dave Wallis / The Forum
The HuHot Mongolian Grill in Fargo offers a wide selection of vegetables to be used in meals that are built by each diner to be cooked by staff members. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Location: 1801 45th St. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 478-4688

How does HuHot cater to its gluten-free customers?
“All of our sauces are gluten-free,” said general manager Emily Davis. “We were getting so many customers asking about gluten-free options, so our owners did some research and figured out how to make 100 percent gluten-free sauces. We also have rice noodles that are gluten-free.”

Anything else you do to make sure customers can enjoy gluten-free options?
“Our servers let customers know about the gluten-free options, and we separate the rice noodles from the other noodles to make sure anyone with an allergy doesn’t have to worry,” David said.

– Danielle Teigen


The Blarney Stone Pub opened Sunday, May 11, 2014, in West Fargo Dave Wallis / The Forum
The Blarney Stone Pub opened Sunday, May 11, 2014, in West Fargo Dave Wallis / The Forum

Location: 1910 9th St E., West Fargo
Phone number: (701) 532-1500
Contact: General manager Kevin Nelson

What are some of the most popular items on your menu?
“A lot of our Irish fare – our corned beef and cabbage, our reuben, our bangers mashed potatoes, our dirty bangers,” said general manager Kevin Nelson. “Corned beef is probably the one that I would highlight because it’s made right. We spend between 12 and 18 hours roasting it here in store, as opposed to store buying it and slicing it at that point in time. It’s a long process but it’s delicious.”

What don’t people know about The Blarney Stone?
“There’s a lot of things (people) don’t know about us because we’re on the outskirts of town,” he said. “We have the NFL Sunday ticket. We play every football game throughout NFL season, which generally only sports bars do, and we’re not really considered a sports bar.”

He added that the restaurant also does a plated breakfast from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. “Saturday is a great day for it because with purchase of a breakfast entree on Saturday, you do get a free trip through the bloody mary bar or a free mimosa to go along with breakfast,” Nelson said.

– Alexandra Floersch


2016.Best.Fargo.Restaurant  The Boiler Room Dave Wallis / The Forum
2016.Best.Fargo.Restaurant The Boiler Room Dave Wallis / The Forum

Location: 210 Broadway N., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 478-1990

You jumped to the top of the list this year – why do you think that is?
“I’d say it’s our staff. I’ve been in the industry for 25 years and this is the best team I’ve worked with,” said general manager Paul McMahon.

What makes The Boiler Room a unique place to dine?
“The atmosphere of being in the basement is kind of cool, with the decor utilizing the existing brick and pillars from the original Loretta building,” McMahon said. “Plus, our executive chef’s take on comfort food is amazing.”

What’s your favorite menu item?
“That’s tough. I would have to say the Shepherd’s Pie because it’s meat, potatoes, vegetables and cheese all baked together,” McMahon said. “We might be adding a Mexican Shepherd’s Pie to the menu in coming weeks.”

— Danielle Teigen


2016-best-moorhead-restaurant

Location: 935 37th Ave S., Moorhead
Phone number: (218) 359-0744

What is your reaction to winning?
“We couldn’t be happier to receive this fantastic news,” said general manager Derek Satter. “For us to know that the community is enjoying the product we provide is the reward we hoped for since the opening stages of construction.”

Brickhouse is a pretty new restaurant in Moorhead. Why do you think people are responding so well to it?
“Moorhead has been waiting for a family-friendly place – where you can also catch the game and grab a drink – for awhile now,” Satter said. “With the promise of continued fantastic customer service and the highest food quality you could hope for, we will continue to be the place to be in Moorhead for years to come.”

What are your favorite dishes?
“My favorites are the brick oven New York style pizza, the Swedish meatballs and the spinach dip,” Satter said.

— Tracy Briggs


Eric and Sara Watson, most recently the owners of WF Maxwell, opened Mezzaluna in the former Silver Moon Space at 309 Roberts in Fargo. They've changed and added some features and also kept some from the previous restaurant. Dave Wallis / The Forum
Eric and Sara Watson, most recently the owners of WF Maxwell, opened Mezzaluna in the former Silver Moon Space at 309 Roberts in Fargo. They’ve changed and added some features and also kept some from the previous restaurant. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Location: 309 Roberts St., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 364-­9479

What is your reaction to winning this category again?
“Wow! We are honored to have won this award two years in a row,” said one of the owners Sara Watson. “I’d like to thank our guests for the votes and our crew for their dedication for providing good food and excellent service. This is a group effort!”

How would you describe the fine dining scene in Fargo-Moorhead and at Mezzaluna?
“The fine dining scene in Fargo isn’t very big, but it is competitive, Watson said.“We are delighted to be listed with the other establishments considered (to be) fine dining. At Mezzaluna, we do try to keep things casual. We are a restaurant/bar for everyone. Whether it is a burger and a beer at the bar that someone is looking for or a five-course dinner celebrating an anniversary or birthday in our dining room, we have it all.”

Why do you think people enjoy Mezzaluna?
“I think people enjoy the ambiance. Mezzaluna has a unique style for Fargo,” Watson said. “I also think a big reason is folks enjoy the way they are treated when they come into Mezzaluna. The goal for our crew is to create an experience for each guest. Dining at Mezzaluna should be more than just a quick bite out.”

What is your favorite dish?
“My favorite dish probably changes daily. Today, I would order comfort food like bacon and barbecue bison meatloaf with smoked corn salsa and mascarpone mashed potatoes,” she said.

— Tracy Briggs


The newest and largest Happy Harry's Bottle Shops store located at 4001 53rd Avenue South in Fargo is built with a barn and grain bin design. Dave Wallis / The Forum
The newest and largest Happy Harry’s Bottle Shops store located at 4001 53rd Avenue South in Fargo is built with a barn and grain bin design. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Location: 3 Fargo locations: 1125 19th Ave. N., 1621 45th St. S.W., 4001 53rd Ave. S.
Phone number: (701) 235-­4661

Why do people shop at Happy Harry’s?
“Service, selection and price are what we focus on,” said Dustin Mitzel, CEO of Happy Harry’s. “Everything from our carry-out service, to party planning, gift-giving ideas and food pairing ideas are things that we want to make sure we are constantly providing to our customers.”

Anything new with your business?
“We are fortunate to have a great team of employees, now owners,” Mitzel said.” At the end of last year we became a 100 percent ESOP company when Hal and Kathy Gershman sold the company to the employees. It is an amazing privilege and even more reason for us to constantly be raising the bar for our customers.”

— Tracy Briggs


Best-Pizza

Location: 606 Main Ave., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 540­-4534

What’s your most popular pizza?
“Our most popular pizza, by a mile, is the T-Rex. It’s a five-meat pizza,” said general manager Drew Balstad. “We live in the Midwest – people like meat. We sure know how to give it to them.”

What other menu items should people check out?
“A lot of people don’t know the great sandwiches and salads that we have,” he said. “It just gives another option for people that don’t want pizza.”

Reaction to winning?
“We’ve gotten the best pizza award every year since we’ve opened,” Balstad said. “It’s a point of pride for our restaurant that we continue to make the Fargo-Moorhead community happy with the pizza and food and service that we’re able to provide.”

— Alexandra Floersch


Best of Burger JL Beers David Samson / The Forum
Best of Burger JL Beers David Samson / The Forum

Location: 518 1st Ave. N., Fargo; 4240 32nd Ave. S., Fargo; 810 13th Ave. E., West Fargo; 2902 Hwy. 10, E., Moorhead
Phone number: (701) 492-­3377

What is your reaction to your follow-up win?
“We try to put out the best burgers and beer everyday and we’re just glad people seem to appreciate what we do,” said Brandon Nilson, general manager of JL Beers in downtown Fargo.

What makes your burgers different?
“We use the best possible ingredients because we know that’s how you get the best products,” Nilson said. “There isn’t a bad burger on the menu.”

What’s your favorite burger?
“I’d have to say the Humpty Dumpty burger. It’s just a burger with a fried egg and American cheese on it. That’s it. But it’s really good,” he said

– Tracy Briggs


Best.Beer.Selection

Location: 3 Fargo locations: 1125 19th Ave. N., 1621 45th St. S.W., 4001 53rd Ave. S.
Phone number: (701) 235-­4661

Reaction to winning:
“It is so humbling to win all three categories!”said Dustin Mitzel, CEO of Happy Harry’s Bottle Shop, upon winning Best Beer Selection, Best Wine Selection and Best Liquor Store. “Our team has really stepped up our staff trainings over the last couple of years to allow our staff every opportunity to learn about the products and pass along that information to our customers.”

What makes your beer selection out of the ordinary?
“Our team of beer specialists work with our distributors, suppliers and other industry professionals to research new and exciting breweries and beer trends around the region and the country,” Mitzel said. “In addition we welcome the feedback we receive from our customers on beers they would like us to try and get.”

— Tracy Briggs


2016.Best.Food.Truck   Sweeto Burrito Food Truck Dave Wallis / The Forum
2016.Best.Food.Truck Sweeto Burrito Food Truck Dave Wallis / The Forum

Location: Truck location varies, restaurant is at 117 Broadway, Fargo
Phone number: (701) 478­-7933

What sets your food truck apart?
“Our food is designed to be portable. I mean, it’s just so easy to get on the go. And our menu is diverse, so we kind of have something for everybody. If you like chicken, beef, pork, you know, we just cover all the different categories,” said general manager Louie Hernandez.

What’s something people might not know about your food truck?
“All of our products are made fresh from scratch: fresh produce, fresh milk, fresh eggs. We use 80-20 hamburger. So we start out with very, very quality products, and I think that goes a long way to making a great burrito.”

What’s your most popular burrito?
“It really does just fluctuate throughout the day, but above and beyond, I think that our most popular burrito above and beyond anything is probably our Buff Chick.”

— Archie Ingersoll


2016-best-bar

Location: 4301 17th Ave. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 551-0013

What makes Lucky’s the place to be?
“We have a wide range of clientele,” said manager Landa Heaton. “From gentlemen in their 80s who come in for happy hour to families with kids who can pick something from our treasure chest, we serve many types of people here. We also have bands play on Friday and Saturday nights, plus we have a great staff. That’s key.”

Any major changes to your bar scene in the last year that would explain how you earned “Best Bar” this year?
“Not really, but we’ve always had an eye on detail,” Landa said. “We rarely do any advertising outside of word-of-mouth because our business is based on the service we provide. We work hard to make sure everyone leaves happy, and as a privately-owned company, we go the extra mile to do just that.”

— Danielle Teigen


Best of Butcher Shop Meats by John & Wayne  David Samson / The Forum
Best of Butcher Shop Meats by John & Wayne David Samson / The Forum

Location: 1801 45th St. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 281­-2300

What sets your butcher shop apart?
“We age our meat a lot longer than the grocery stores. They age theirs about a week to two weeks. Ours are eight weeks, so it gives it … more flavor,” said co-owner Sam Resha. “And then we got excellent customer service here.”

What’s something people might not know about your butcher shop?
All of the shop’s meat comes from the Midwest, Resha said. “We know where it’s coming from. It’s not just random stuff. Our ground beef, we don’t add anything to it.”

What’s a choice cut of meat people often overlook?
“A lot of people just pick sirloin for the price because it’s a cheaper cut of steak. But they also don’t really realize that it’s really juicy, tender steak if you grill it the right way.”

— Archie Ingersoll


2016 Best Sandwich Shop   Grand Junction Grilled Subs Dave Wallis / The Forum
2016 Best Sandwich Shop Grand Junction Grilled Subs Dave Wallis / The Forum

Locations: 1100 19th Ave. N., Fargo; 5050 13th Ave. S., Fargo; 435 Main Ave., Moorhead
Phone numbers: 701-234-1999 (north Fargo), 701-373-0064 (south Fargo), 218-287-5651 (Moorhead)

What sets your sandwich shop apart?
“We do hot grilled subs, and no one else does hot grilled subs around, like, not even in close proximity,” said Vu Truong, owner of the Moorhead and north Fargo locations. “And fresh cut fries, obviously – that’s what makes us famous.”

What’s something people might not know about your sandwich shop?
“We put a lot of time and effort into our products, meaning everything that we do there is basically fresh. We make it from raw to finish all right in front of you.”
What are your most popular sandwiches?
“Our most popular would be the Cordon Bleu, the Philly Steak and the Cajun Ranch.”

– Archie Ingersoll


Paul Cote was a homebrewer and beer lover who found his calling working as a commercial brewer at Fargo Brewing Co.
Paul Cote was a homebrewer and beer lover who found his calling working as a commercial brewer at Fargo Brewing Co.

Location: 610 N. University Drive, Fargo
Phone number: (701) 478-­2337
Online: www.facebook.com/fargobrewing

What makes you different?
Established in 2010, it’s North Dakota’s oldest and largest brewery, according to co-founder Aaron Hill. “And the name Fargo, obviously,” he said.

How much beer do you make?
About 19,633 gallons per month this year, according to Hill. In 2015, the company brewed up 217,000 gallons.

You recently opened Fargo Brewing Ale House in south Fargo. What’s next?
Focusing on the new taproom and starting distribution in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he said. “Otherwise we don’t really have any major market expansion plans or any additional location plans at this point, but you never know,” Hill said.

— Ryan Johnson


2016-best-live-entertainment

Location: 801 50th Ave. SW, Moorhead
Online: www.facebook.com/trollwoodperformingartsschool

How many people visited this year?
With Bluestem Summer Concert Series shows, Trollwood Performing Arts School activities and more, 84,745 constituents just this year, according to Executive Director Kathy Anderson. Trollwood’s “The Little Mermaid” drew a new record of nearly 28,000.

What else happens at Bluestem?
“We have something that’s happening here practically almost every day,” Anderson said, including Midco Kids Fest, church services, weddings and more.

What’s next?
Building capacity. “There’s plenty of room,” Anderson said. “If we were to expand and have a space that more organizations could utilize for performance space, that would be amazing.”

— Ryan Johnson


LIVELOCALACT

Location: Based in Fargo
Online: www.32below.net

What’s it like winning this for the 10th year in a row?
“Every time we’re still thrilled and humbled,” says bassist Tyler Waslien. “I can’t stress that enough. We never take it for granted.”

Do you need more wall space to put up another plaque?
“We can clear something off,” Waslien says. “As musicians, trying to organize and decorate walls isn’t the prettiest thing, but we do what we can.”

You have a new record and play the Windbreak in Fargo Saturday, Oct. 29.What else can fans look forward to?
“We’ll release some acoustic videos. The goal is to have another album ready in the next year,” Waslien says.

— John Lamb


A skiers-eye-view of the Alpine Lodge at the Detroit Mountain Recreation Area.  Photo by Brian Basham.
A skiers-eye-view of the Alpine Lodge at the Detroit Mountain Recreation Area.
Photo by Brian Basham.

Address: 29409 170th St., Detroit Lakes, Minn.
Online: http://detroitmountain.com

What makes Detroit Mountain such a great spot for family fun in the winter?
“We have skiers from 3 years old and as old as 90,” says Jeff Staley, general manager of Detroit Mountain. “Our tubing area is attractive to all ages and people who may not ski.”

What’s new this year for Detroit Mountain?
“We relocated and expanded our tubing hill, from five to 10 lanes, and we’re adding 150 tubes,” Staley says. “The old tubing area will be a second terrain park.”

What’s a perfect weather day on Detroit Mountain?
“No wind, sunny skies and 20 to 30 degrees,” Staley says.

– John Lamb


2016-best-place-for-summer-family-fun

Online: www.visitdetroitlakes.com

What’s your reaction to winning?
“We’re certainly happy to be named that. We work hard at it,” says Cleone Stewart, tourism director at the Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce.

What are some of the big attractions?
“Of course Mile-Long Beach in Detroit Lakes and all of the 400-plus surrounding lakes,” Stewart says. “There are so many attractions that are family-friendly, especially Detroit Mountain for mountain biking or hiking.”

What’s your favorite summertime event?
“There are so many. A lot of people come every summer for the Northwest Water Carnival. Some people plan their family vacation for that time,” Stewart says.

— John Lamb


Local youngsters test out the new 7-level playground area Wednesday, Feb.20, 2013, at the newly expanded Courts Plus Community Fitness Center in south Fargo. In addition to the play area, the facility features a new track, expanded cardio and weight areas and a larger pro shop and smoothie bar. David Samson / The Forum
Local youngsters test out the new 7-level playground area Wednesday, Feb.20, 2013, at the newly expanded Courts Plus Community Fitness Center in south Fargo. In addition to the play area, the facility features a new track, expanded cardio and weight areas and a larger pro shop and smoothie bar. David Samson / The Forum

Joel Vettel, director of Fargo Park District

Why are Fargo parks so popular with kids?
“I think for small children, parks are still a place of wonder and amazement. Often times, in our community, it’s their first exposure to large green space and to the outdoors. I believe the Fargo Park District has found a balance between offering scheduled programming and allowing opportunities for free play in our facilities and parks. We have often said that the Fargo Park District is in the memory-making business. I am always amazed at how often I am told of the great memories people have of their experiences in our parks.”

How have Fargo parks changed over the years?
“I believe that our parks are a true reflection of our community. The citizens of Fargo are passionate and have embraced the importance of parks in their community. I believe that our park district is responsive to the changing needs and wants of our community. Over the last decade we have seen a greater demand for neighborhood parks. We have also tried to increase the amenities offered at our parks. An example of this is our new kayak landing in Lindenwood Park. Another change is the increase in demand for our parks to be connected by walking paths. With over 100 miles of walking paths we have made huge strides in connecting our parks across the entire city.”

How often do you evaluate the parks to make sure they are providing what kids want?
“We are constantly looking for ways to improve all of our facilities, programs and parks. We utilize surveys, focus groups, and community feedback to determine what we are doing well and areas we need to improve.The staff at the park district is extremely engaged in looking for ways to improve our park system. Utilizing one our organization’s core values, we passionately pursue ways to serve our increasingly diverse population.”

— Mike McFeely


Best of Golf Course Edgewood Golf Course David Samson / The Forum
Best of Golf Course Edgewood Golf Course David Samson / The Forum

Location: 19 Golf Course Road, Fargo
Phone number: (701) 232-2824

The course is a perennial winner, why is that?
“I think the fact that Edgewood is an older, tree-lined golf course is one reason,” said head professional Greg McCullough. “It is the only public course in town that is not in the middle of a housing development. I also think the golf course plays a little different each time you play it and it’s easily walkable too.”

What is different about Edgewood compared to other courses?
“Pretty much the same as my first answer plus we’re located in town,” McCullough said. “But the course has a very country feel and has many personalities depending on what time of the year it is.”

What’s your favorite aspect of the course?
“The sight lines from every tee box,” he said. “Each hole is shaped a little differently and you can play different strategies every time you play. Do you want to hit driver and have a short shot into the greens but maybe you end up in the trees? Or do you want to be more conservative off the tee to keep the ball in the fairways?”

— Jeff Kolpack


Bison teammates congratulate Nick DeLuca of North Dakota State University after intercepting and scoring on a fourth quarter play during the Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, game against Eastern Washington at the Fargodome. NDSU won 50-44. Dave Wallis / The Forum
Bison teammates congratulate Nick DeLuca of North Dakota State University after intercepting and scoring on a fourth quarter play during the Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, game against Eastern Washington at the Fargodome. NDSU won 50-44. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Location: Fargodome, 1800 N. University Drive
Phone number: (701) 231-7447

What makes Bison football so endearing to the community?
“Our student-athletes and coaches are easy to root for,” said Justin Swanson, NDSU assistant director of athletics for marketing and fan engagement. “They’re genuinely great people that have a lunch pale mentality. Their work ethic, attitude and humility mirror that of the population of Fargo-Moorhead and the Upper Midwest. Our team sees itself in our fans and our fans see themselves in this team.”

Why does tailgating continue to prosper on game day?
“Because we have the best fans in the country,” Swanson said. “I really mean that. Our fans love to have a great time and they love to make sure anyone joining them is having a great time. It’s created an atmosphere that is safe and festive. When you have visiting school presidents commenting on how respectful and friendly your fans were on game day, that’s rare.”

What have you done in the last year or two to continually upgrade the entertainment value?
“The new video board system at Gate City Bank Field has allowed us to take our game presentation to the next level,” Swanson said. “The video content, graphics packages and in-game statistics available to our fans has made an incredible game day experience even better. Beyond that, we’re constantly working with the Fargodome, student body, the band, cheer and dance teams and yell leaders to make sure the game day experience continues to be special for fans of all ages.”

— Jeff Kolpack


2016-best-local-celebrity
Carson Wentz, former NDSU quarterback now with the Philadelphia Eagles
The popularity of Carson Wentz in Fargo-Moorhead (and elsewhere) is crystallized thusly: He is a click magnet, a term concocted by a Forum newsroom staffer.

People want to know what the former North Dakota State quarterback and current Philadelphia Eagles star is doing. So they’ll click on stories about him posted at inforum.com. To the tune of tens of thousands of clicks.

Carson locked himself in a bathroom. Click.

Carson’s girlfriend posted Instagram photos of them together. Click.

Carson made a funny video when he was in high school. Click.

Carson greeted a young boy in a wheelchair. Click.

Carson shot a deer. Click.

Carson left a $500 tip at a local restaurant. Click.

Click, click, click, click, click.

He is the first local sports star of the social-media age, which has turned Wentz into more than just a sports star. He is a celebrity whose every move is scrutinized and reported on by somebody, just like gossip column fodder of years past.

— Mike McFeely


2016-best-local-radio-show

Location: 98.7 on the FM dial, 2720 7th Ave. S.
Phone number: Studio line, 701-280-1987; main office, 701-237-4500

What makes your show the best?
“I guess people like having fun with us. Sometimes things get a little crazy. We all have a different perspective. We pick on each other a lot, but we also get a lot of things done,” said Jesse James, program director.

What else stands out about your show?
“I think our staple is helping people in the community,” he said. Each month, Jesse, Amanda and Pike pick a cause to support, so are continuously involved in some project.

Do you write any of your banter?
“It’s all off the cuff,” James said, noting the personalities are not “voice actors.”

— Patrick Springer


2016-best-pet-care

Locations: 3060 Thunder Road S., Fargo, and 16893 29th St. S.E., Harwood
Phone number: 701-492-9364 (9dog)
Contact: Marcia Humphrey, owner

Why were you chosen as the best pet care provider?
“Overall it’s because we care. We care about our customers and our customers’ dogs. And it takes a team to care. We believe in that,” owner Marcia Humphrey said.

What makes eddieandbarkus stand out?
“Eddieandbarkus is a vision, and it’s come to life with the help of great employees,” Humphreysaid. “We offer a spectrum of pet care, including day care and night care as well as grooming. We have a ‘dog utopia,’ with indoor and outdoor space. The dogs listen to ‘spa music’ at night. It’s real soothing.”

What might customers not know?
“We have a shuttle service between our two locations. Our Harwood facility, located by Harwood Country Club, has five acres of fenced space. Our customers have access to a private dog park.”

– Patrick Springer


BESTPARK

Location: 1905 Roger Maris Drive, Fargo
Phone number: 701-232-3987

Why does Lindenwood Park remain so popular?
“We’ve added several amenities over the years to kind of help make that a gem of the Park District over the years,” said Joel Vettel, executive director, Fargo Park District. Lindenwood has a lot to offer, including ample green space, a recreation trail, softball, campground, picnic shelters, bicycle rentals.

What makes Lindenwood stand out?
“It’s a regional park, a destination for people from around the area,” offering lots of space and ample opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors, Vettel said.

What’s new at Lindenwood?
“We’ve just added a kayak landing with access to the Red River. We hope that will open up more and more that river corridor,” he said. The park also recently built a new guest center, with showers and bathroom facilities. “We’re constantly looking for ways to improve the park experience,” Vettel said.

— Patrick Springer


BESTBANK

Location: 20 full-service banks in North Dakota and Minnesota, 12 of which are in the Red River Valley.
Phone number: (701) 298-1500
Contact person: Michael Solberg, president and CEO

What accounts for Bell Bank’s appeal in all three categories?
“I guess it starts with training,” said Michael Solberg, Bell Bank president and CEO. “We take our training very seriously. We really try to start from day one of setting the example of what we expect of how our customers get taken care of.”

Bell Bank has won before, how do you maintain that momentum?
“We’re celebrating 50 years as a company this year,” Solberg said. We’ve gone through several name changes, a lot of growth, and certainly the banking industry continues to go through huge transformation. What has been consistent for us is how our team members treat each other and our customers.”

What else should people know about Bell Bank?
We are continuing our Pay It Forward program that launched in 2008, where every employee gets to choose every year how they want to help individuals, families or organizations in need. To date, we’ve given over $9 million in Pay It Forward funds. This year, in honor of our 50th anniversary, we made the Pay It Forward gift even greater, with every full-time employee receiving $2,500 to give to those in need.

— Dave Olson


Best Attorney Bruce Quick David Samson / The Forum
Best Attorney Bruce Quick David Samson / The Forum

Location, Vogel Law Firm, 218 Northern Pacific Avenue, Fargo, N.D.
Phone: (701) 237-6983

You’ve won in this category, or been a finalist, many times. Does the recognition get old?
As I’ve said before, it’s not the best attorney they’re voting for, it’s the most well-known name. There are many, many good attorneys in this marketplace. I do criminal law, criminal law tends to be in the news. People recognize your name.

Is there an area of the law you’re not as versed in?
I wouldn’t hire me to draft a will.

You teach future lawyers. What advice do you give law students?
We’ll get into a specific legal area, like car searches, and students will ask: ‘Where should we hide our drugs?’ My advice is — don’t do drugs.

— Dave Olson


2016-best-sporting-goods-store

Location: 1551 45th St. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 298-­2918

What separates you from other places?
“We try to offer legitimate speciality, offering a product selection that should meet the needs of any enthusiast, no matter what they’re doing,” assistant store leader Lucas Hachmeister said. “We provide the best customer service and best customer experience we can to all our customers.”

What’s the secret to your success?
“We work hard everyday to make sure every customer does receive the world-class-style customer service and experience. We really do want every customer that comes in our store to leave with a positive experience.”

What’s something most people don’t know about Scheels?
“It is important to remind our customers that we are a family and employee-owned company, which I think makes a difference in the way we execute. All the employees are very proud to work here and proud of what they do.”


Eric Nephew, a teller for Bell Bank, restocks cookies at the bank’s downtown Fargo location. Bell Bank was named Best Customer Service in The Forum’s 2016 Best Of publication. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Eric Nephew, a teller for Bell Bank, restocks cookies at the bank’s downtown Fargo location. Bell Bank was named Best Customer Service in The Forum’s 2016 Best Of publication.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Location: 20 full-service banks in North Dakota and Minnesota, 12 of which are in the Red River Valley.
Phone number: (701) 298-1500
Contact person: Michael Solberg, president and CEO

What accounts for Bell Bank’s appeal in all three categories?
“I guess it starts with training,” said Michael Solberg, Bell Bank president and CEO. “We take our training very seriously. We really try to start from day one of setting the example of what we expect of how our customers get taken care of.”

Bell Bank has won before, how do you maintain that momentum?
“We’re celebrating 50 years as a company this year,” Solberg said. We’ve gone through several name changes, a lot of growth, and certainly the banking industry continues to go through huge transformation. What has been consistent for us is how our team members treat each other and our customers.”

What else should people know about Bell Bank?
We are continuing our Pay It Forward program that launched in 2008, where every employee gets to choose every year how they want to help individuals, families or organizations in need. To date, we’ve given over $9 million in Pay It Forward funds. This year, in honor of our 50th anniversary, we made the Pay It Forward gift even greater, with every full-time employee receiving $2,500 to give to those in need.

— Dave Olson


Scott Alwalt, right, celebrates the Bison defeat of Sam Houston during a TV-watching party Saturday, Jan. 7, 2011, at Buffalo Wild Wings in south Fargo, N.D. North Dakota State won the FCS championship 17-6. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Scott Alwalt, right, celebrates the Bison defeat of Sam Houston during a TV-watching party Saturday, Jan. 7, 2011, at Buffalo Wild Wings in south Fargo, N.D. North Dakota State won the FCS championship 17-6. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Location: 1501 42nd St. SW, Fargo, (701) 356-9464; 1515 19th Ave. N., Fargo, (701) 280-9464; 2201 1st Ave. N., Moorhead, (218) 512-0400

What’s the secret to your success?
“Every day we’re working to create the most immersive sports experience possible,” vice president of operations Dean Bachmeier said. “Our wall-to-wall TVs don’t just allow for watching sports of all kinds, they’re also a huge part of what makes the viewing experience at Buffalo Wild Wings so amazing.”

What’s something most people don’t know about Buffalo Wild Wings?
“Now, you can also listen to any game in B-Dubs through our Game Day Audio app, which broadcasts the audio from multiple TVs using digital Wifi transmission. Fans can use this free app to listen to their favorite teams every time the game is on.”

What sets you apart from other places to watch a big game?
“For us, it’s about creating an experience where every kind of sports fan can enjoy hanging out, where the overall experience is entertaining, and where, regardless of whether someone is grabbing a quick lunch or taking in an entire day of games, they can get as much sports as they want to.”


2016 Best Exercise Facility   Sanford Family Wellness Dave Wallis / The Forum
2016 Best Exercise Facility Sanford Family Wellness Dave Wallis / The Forum

Location: 2960 Seter Parkway, Fargo
Phone number: (701) 234­-2400

Reaction to being a repeat winner in this category?
“It’s really special and it’s encouraging to have so many people want to help us live our mission, which is to inspire healthy lifestyles by connecting people in a fun environment,” said assistant director Jordan McCormick.

What separates you from other fitness places?
“The thing that we really strive for is having state-of-the-art equipment and really friendly spaces,” McCormick said. “We really try to work with our staff and our teams to incorporate fun in wherever we can.”

What is something most people wouldn’t know about your facility?
“We have our demonstration kitchen on site and we’ve got a variety of really great healthy cooking classes for adults and kids that is really something unique to us,” McCormick said.

— Eric Peterson


Best-Child-Care

Location: 400 1st Ave. S., Fargo, and 30 other locations in Fargo, Moorhead, Dilworth, West Fargo, Horace and Harwood
Phone number: (701) 293-­9622

Reaction to being a repeat winner in this category?
“It’s quite an honor,” said Shannon Lang, the school age director for the YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties. “We work really hard to have a quality program and give the best that we can to our families and the children and our staff.”

How many kids are enrolled and what do they like about the Y programs?
“We have close to 2,300 children throughout all the different communities and that’s ranging from infants all the way through middle school,” Lang said. “If you ask the kids what they enjoy the most, it’s that it’s fun.”

What is something most people wouldn’t know about your programs?
“We give out a substantial amount of scholarship (more than $300,000) throughout the year to families, in our child care programs,” Lang said.

— Eric Peterson


TATTOOPARLOR

Location: 308 University Drive N., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 364­-0820

What do you hear from clients about their tattoo experiences?
“Everyone, we notice, has a really good experience here. We definitely shoot to be at our top,” said tattoo artist and shop spokeswoman Libby Tossey. “We all enjoy our jobs, too. I think our clientele can definitely tell that.”

You’ve now won best tattoo shop five years in a row, and eight times since 2007. What’s the best part about being in the tattoo business?
“You get to meet a variety of people from all walks of life. So many people have these fantastic ideas. It’s a lot of fun to be able to deal with the public. … You get to be creative and people get to wear our stuff forever. It’s quite an honor.”

What’s the best reason you’ve ever heard for getting a tattoo?
“A lot of it is going to be self-confidence. There’s not one particular story that sticks out. Better body image, covering up scars. (We like) being able to give people something to enjoy about their bodies that they can wear proudly.

— Helmut Schmidt


2016-best-florist

Locations: 2510 N. Broadway, Fargo, (701) 293-­5444;
1532 32nd Ave. S., Fargo, (701) 280­-1999;
4151 45th St. S., Fargo, (701) 281­-8111;
4101 13th Ave. S., (701) 282­-6363;
101 11th St. S., Moorhead, (218) 236-­6333;
950 40th Ave. S., Moorhead, (218) 359­-4000
(Hornbacher’s Express, 1433 S. University Drive, also carries flowers, but there are no designers on site. (701) 237-9481)

What does it feel like to win eight years in a row?
“It’s great to have such a talented group of people working with us at Hornbacher’s,” said Hornbacher’s Foods President Matt Leiseth. “The teams that are in every store … just go above and beyond every day. It’s just very gratifying and rewarding for your customers to come back and say, ‘Well done!’ ”

What makes your floral shops special?
“It’s the people that are behind the counter and helping the customers. They are a fantastic group of people. They have a love of decorating and plants, and they really love to share their knowledge and their expertise and share their love of the plants with the customers. And I think that is just a great relationship that they’ve built.”.

What’s the most common reason for someone stopping by one of your flower shops? Birthdays, anniversaries, or guys in the dog house?
“I really think it’s everything. Obviously, Valentine’s Day is the most noticeable for lines. We’re selling flowers every day of the year. It’s special occasions, it anniversaries, it’s people who just love to have fresh flowers in their house. I think it’s just this continual relationship. We’re convenient and friendly and it really just makes it easy for customers to connect.”

— Helmut Schmidt


Dr. Heather Skari was named Best Dentist in The Forum's 2014 Best Of contest. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Dr. Heather Skari was named Best Dentist in The Forum’s 2014 Best Of contest. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Location: Dr. Heather L. Skari Family Dentistry, 4110 40th St. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 293-7996

Reaction to winning:
“I’m honored and delighted that people have trust in us to choose us,” said Dr. Heather Skari.

What do you do to get people over their fear of dentistry and into the chair?
“We’re a relationship-based practice. We spend a lot of time getting to know people as patients first. If you spend a lot of time getting to know a patient as a person, then … that bond of trust is there. We don’t ever want people to feel like a number. We want them to know that when I’m with them, that’s the most important thing that I’m going to do.

Any misconceptions about dentistry?
“There are so many more positive dental experiences (now). Most dental experiences can have no or very little pain” thanks to education and prevention.

— Helmut Schmidt


2016-best-tv-anchor

Website: valleynewslive.com

How do you feel about our readers picking you as their favorite anchor?
“I’m honored and thrilled about being chosen by your readers,” Larson said. “I have followed the Forum awards for many years and admired all the finalists.”
“People connect with certain anchors and reporters and, if they connect with how I deliver the news or my personality, then I’m humbled and appreciative,” she said.

What’s your favorite part of the job?
“Meeting new people, being able to relate to stories within the region,” she said. “It’s never the same day twice.”

Name one thing that most people don’t know about you.
“I can’t wink with my left eye,” she said. Growing up, her dad tried to teach his kids how to shoot, she said, but not being able to close that eye made it hard to be accurate. But she’s not too bad of a shot with pistols, she found out while shooting them for stories.


Scheels Ace Hardware  Carrie Snyder / The Forum
Scheels Ace Hardware Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Location: 3202 13th Ave. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 232-­8903

Why do you think readers have named your store the best for the second year in a row?
“It’s gratifying to know they think that of us,” said store manager Mark Hulbert. “We have a lot of good people. I think customers notice that and appreciate that. I give the credit to our people for earning that.”

Your customer service is so consistent. Why do you think that is?
“Customers are the reason we exist,” he said. “You could fill up a building with all the products that we carry, open and the door and people could come in. But it’s the one-on-one interaction that makes the difference. People come here for that reason.”

How do you ensure that consistency?
“It’s a lot of hard work,” he said. “It’s the hardest thing we do and how it happens – I guess that would be the secret ingredient in the colonel’s recipe for his chicken!”

— Tu-Uyen Tran


Best of Gas Station Convenience Store Casey's General Store David Samson / The Forum
Best of Gas Station Convenience Store Casey’s General Store David Samson / The Forum

Location: 19 stores throughout Fargo-Moorhead with the 20th opening spring 2017
Phone number: (515) 965-6506

How does it feel to be chosen by our readers as favorite gas station and convenience store?
“Given Casey’s has only been prominently serving the Fargo/Moorhead area since taking over the Stop-and-Go operations in May of 2015, it is exciting to know the community has embraced our Company and the products and services we provide,” Sam James, finance director for the Ankeny, Iowa, company, said in an email.

Why do you think readers responded that way?
“Casey’s customers have come to know that inside each store they will find dedicated, helpful, and well-trained employees, exceptional prepared food items (including made-from-scratch pizza), and a clean environment in which to shop,” he said. “I think these points really resonate with our customers.”

Is there a service or product you provide that isn’t very well known?
Casey’s is among the top five U.S. pizza retailers, he said. It offers pizza by the slice and whole pizzas in nearly all stores, many of which will deliver pizza and other food. Customers can order online or by Casey’s mobile app, he said.
“In communities we have served for a long time, these points are very well-known,” he said.

— Tu-Uyen Tran


Megan Halstenson is a manicurist at Polished Nail Spa in Fargo. Dave Wallis / The Forum
Megan Halstenson is a manicurist at Polished Nail Spa in Fargo. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Location: 102 Broadway N., Fargo, and 4265 45th St. S. Ste. 129, Fargo
Phone number: (701) 365-8112 and (701) 281-6494
Online: www.polishednailspa.biz

What sets you apart from other nail salons in the area?
“We still use one of the very few products that are made in the U.S.A., whether it’s gel polish or acrylic. It’s a high-quality and very safe product,” said owner Tom Huynh. “And it’s our customer service that really sets us apart. I’m super proud of our nail technicians. They’re the ones bringing the clients in, we couldn’t do it without them.”

What is the hot trend in nails right now?
“The newest, latest thing is the chrome finish on top of gel polish. We have many different colors of chrome available. It gives nails a different look. Hologram chrome is our most popular one. As you change the angle and position of your hands, it changes the look. It really makes nails pop.”

Your salon technicians volunteer at nursing homes, is that correct?
“Yes, they’ve been doing that for about two years now. The nail technicians came to me and said they wanted to do it; I just had to approve it. They go over (to Bethany Retirement Living) every other Monday. The residents over there really love it.”

— Gigi Wood


Best-hair-salon

Locations: 12790 University Drive S. Suite B, Fargo, (701) 280-9629;
1111 19th Ave. N., Fargo, (701) 232-7452;
3101 13th Ave. S., Fargo, (701) 280-2884;
4370 13th Ave. S. Suite A, Fargo, (701) 364-3667;
635 32nd Ave. S., West Fargo, (701) 356-8794;
126 11th St. S., Moorhead, (218) 236-4857
Online: https://www.facebook.com/mjcapelli

What makes you different?
“We spend a lot of time with our staff,” said General Manager Sue Cote. “We want them to be in a great environment and be able to give our clients the best service.”

What do people expect from a hair salon?
“They do a lot of research,” Cote said. “There’s different ways to see looks like Pinterest and Instagram, so they have an idea what they’re looking for.”

What’s the hottest color?
“A lot of the balayage and a lot of the ombre,” Cote said. “We try to make hair color bring out their personality.”

— Ryan Johnson


2016.Best.Auto.Care   Corwin Automotive Group Dave Wallis / The Forum
2016.Best.Auto.Care Corwin Automotive Group Dave Wallis / The Forum

Locations: Four service locations in Fargo including Corwin Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM, Corwin Honda, Corwin Toyota and new Corwin Collision Center on Main Ave.
Phone number: (701) 499-6732
Facebook: Facebook.com/CorwinAuto
Website: CorwinAuto.com

What kind of feedback do you get from your customers?
Judy Fisher, corporate recruiter and trainer, said their customers are very loyal and they value their feedback. “Corwin has invested in some of the finest auto service facilities in the nation and our customers appreciate having a comfortable, friendly place to do business,” Fisher said.

How has the car service business changed over the years?
Fisher said with Internet-connected mobile devices, customers can create appointments online with a click or a call. “With a couple of taps on a screen, drivers can research service questions and know more about vehicle maintenance than ever before,” she added.

Have onboard computers made cars easier or more difficult to service?
“Onboard technology makes it much easier for a vehicle owner to know when their vehicle needs service and what type of service it needs,” Fisher said. She said their factory certified technicians can quickly diagnose issues and get customers back on the road.

— Robin Huebner


2016-best-thrift-store

Locations: 1001 4th Ave. N., Fargo;
1601 32nd Ave. S., Fargo;
619 13th Ave. E., West Fargo;
1500 Center Ave. W./Highway 10, Dilworth, Minn.
Website: https://www.dakotaranch.org/thrift/

You’re a repeat winner. Why do people choose your thrift stores over others?
“It’s that we’re local thrift stores with a local mission,” said Lisa Olson, vice president of retail operations. “The funds that we raise stay, for the most part, in North Dakota.” Olson said it’s also a plus that the stores are open seven days a week for both shopping and donations.

Name one or two items people might be surprised that you sell.
“A lot of people are surprised that we sell more than just clothing,” Olson said. “We have a large selection of furniture and home decor at all of our locations.”

What items are tough to keep on the shelves?
“Men’s and boy’s clothing always run low,” Olson said.

— Robin Huebner


2016-best-home-builder

Location: 1815 38th St. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 281­-7184
Website: heritagefargo.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heritagehomesfm

You’ve built a streak of wins in the “Best Of.” What sets you apart from other home builders?
“Our team can’t be duplicated,” said Tyrone Leslie, owner and CEO of Heritage Homes. “Our fire and love for what we do is unmatched.”

Give us a sampling of the feedback you get from customers.
Leslie said customers tell them nothing compares to their team and process. “Many homeowners say they can’t wait to build with us again, even on their closing day!”

What are some of the newest trends in home building you offer?
“Reclaimed wood and blending of different design styles have played a big role in our homes this year,” Leslie said. He said smart technology is also big, controlling window blinds, appliances, thermostats and security through smartphones.

— Robin Huebner


Best of Best Chiropractor Dr. Brad Feldner David Samson / The Forum
Best of Best Chiropractor Dr. Brad Feldner David Samson / The Forum

Location: 300 45th St. S., Suite 315, Fargo
Phone number: (701) 893-­7873
Online: http://puredcrehab.com

What is the most common reason people seek chiropractic care?
“Most people seek out chiropractic care because of lower back or neck pain, but we see all types of conditions,” Feldner said. “Headaches, sciatica, sciatic pain, tension-type headaches, even migraine headaches on occasion.”

Tell me about one of your favorite chiropractic success stories.
“We have unlimited numbers of patients who are just thrilled by their decreased chronic pain and improved motion,” he said. “We’re the type of people who will treat them in the shortest amount of time with the least out-of-pocket cost while focusing on long-term improvement.”

What do you think makes your practice successful?
“The community and our patients refer many people to us every month because we treat people with respect,” he said. “Our staff does a great job. We’re truly lucky to have all of them with our practice.”

— Meredith Holt


2016-best-large-company

Location: 20 full-service banks in North Dakota and Minnesota, 12 of which are in the Red River Valley.
Phone number: (701) 298-1500
Contact person: Michael Solberg, president and CEO

What accounts for Bell Bank’s appeal in all three categories?
“I guess it starts with training,” said Michael Solberg, Bell Bank president and CEO. “We take our training very seriously. We really try to start from day one of setting the example of what we expect of how our customers get taken care of.”

Bell Bank has won before, how do you maintain that momentum?
“We’re celebrating 50 years as a company this year,” Solberg said. We’ve gone through several name changes, a lot of growth, and certainly the banking industry continues to go through huge transformation. What has been consistent for us is how our team members treat each other and our customers.”

What else should people know about Bell Bank?
We are continuing our Pay It Forward program that launched in 2008, where every employee gets to choose every year how they want to help individuals, families or organizations in need. To date, we’ve given over $9 million in Pay It Forward funds. This year, in honor of our 50th anniversary, we made the Pay It Forward gift even greater, with every full-time employee receiving $2,500 to give to those in need.

— Dave Olson


Sundog employees frequently hold meetings in with each other in the Fargo office when working on projects. Dave Wallis / The Forum
Sundog employees frequently hold meetings in with each other in the Fargo office when working on projects.
Dave Wallis / The Forum

Location: 2000 44th St. S. Floor 6, Fargo
Phone number: (701) 235-­5525
Online: www.sundoginteractive.com

What do your employees love about working at Sundog?
“Our employees love working at Sundog because it’s kind of like a big family,” communicators director Heidi Haaven said. “We definitely have each other’s backs, we look out for each other, there’s always a real ‘family’ atmosphere at work, which I don’t think you find at a lot of places.”

How would you describe Sundog’s culture?
“It’s about the people that we work with and knowing that we’re on a team – a big team – and everyone has each other’s best interests in mind,” she said. “You know you can count on the people sitting next to you, and I think that is probably more what our culture is about, than the perks.”

What are some of the perks?
“We have a culture club at Sundog that’s responsible for coming up with fun things that we can do together as team members,” she said, listing a beer-brewing club, a succulent class and a golf tournament as examples. “There’s always something random and crazy going on to get people involved and excited about work.”

— Meredith Holt


2016-best-cosmetic

Location: 4420 13th Ave. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 281-4831
Online: www.ulta.com

What do customers love about shopping at Ulta?
“We say it’s all things beauty, all in one place, and we have different price points for everybody,” co-manager Kayla Swetland said.

What are some of your best-selling brands?
“Urban Decay, IT Cosmetics, BareMinerals, Redken for hair, TIGI. NYX is a drugstore brand, and we constantly sell through that,” she said. “Our own Ulta brand is our No. 1 selling brand, actually.”

What are a few of this season’s hottest trends?
“Really embracing the ‘power of makeup,’ the artistic side of it,” she said. “Brows are all the rage right now. Everyone wants the best brows. When it comes to hair, I think volume is always such a big thing. Volume and texture. A lot of brands now are coming out with new volumizers and texturizers.”

— Meredith Holt


Carson Wentz looks back at the audience before getting interviewed by Dieon Sanders after being picked second overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL draft at the Roosevelt University Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, Ill. on Thursday, April 28, 2016.  David Samson / The Forum
Carson Wentz looks back at the audience before getting interviewed by Dieon Sanders after being picked second overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL draft at the Roosevelt University Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, Ill. on Thursday, April 28, 2016. David Samson / The Forum

Carson Wentz hasn’t broken any records or displaced a legendary figure atop his sport, but that didn’t stop the former North Dakota State quarterback and current Philadelphia Eagles star from replacing Roger Maris as our top sports star.

Chalk it up to Wentz’s winning personality, the power of the NFL and the pervasiveness of social media.

Maris was the former Fargo Shanley and local American Legion baseball star who hit 61 home runs for the New York Yankees in 1961 to take the single-season record from Babe Ruth. Maris’ accomplishment turned the sports world upside down and continues to be a point of controversy more than 50 years later. He was for years the undisputed favorite local sports figure.

Wentz was popular while leading the Bison to consecutive national championships, but he entered another stratosphere after being chosen No. 2 overall in the NFL Draft by the Eagles. He became bigger than life after being named Philadelphia’s surprise starter and leading his team to three straight victories to start the season. The NFL is America’s most popular sports league and Wentz became a national story.
Combine that success with Wentz’s Bismarck background, humility, faith, down-home appeal and the ability of fans to follow his exploits on Twitter and you have a modern-day king of North Dakota sports.

— Mike McFeely


2016-best-boutique

Location: 1650 45th St. S. No. 105, Fargo
Phone number: (701) 478-6646

What is your reaction to winning?
“We are pleasantly surprised since we’re so new to the community. We’re also very thankful to our loyal customers who continue to support us,” said store manager Dana Bentley.

What do you think makes Blue Daisy so popular?
“I think it’s our customer service. We really try to make it a point to have a conversation and interact and get to know customers,” she said.

What is a clothing must-have this winter?
“One thing about us is that we carry unique clothing. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. We’re constantly reordering different stuff. But, one of our best sellers has been our original Game Day apparel,” Bentley said. “Also, cozy sweaters, blankets and scarves are always a must for the long winter season in Fargo.”

— Angie Wieck


Best of Eye Doctor Dr. Amy DuBois David Samson / The Forum
Best of Eye Doctor Dr. Amy DuBois David Samson / The Forum

Location: 3232 13th Ave. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 280-3000
Online: https://www.facebook.com/Pearle-Vision-201641526564400/

What is your reaction to winning?
“I was surprised and super-excited and honored,” Dr. Amy DuBois said.

Why did you pursue optometry as a profession?
“My big sister is an optometrist. … She actually graduated optometry school when I started junior high,” DuBois said. “Especially as a seventh grader, I thought, ‘My sister’s got a cool job. She helps people see.’ … So, my sister definitely was an influence.”

Why should someone get their eyes checked even if they don’t have vision problems?
“It’s truly about how many diseases we can pick up on. There are just so many patients that are unaware of a diabetes status or a high-blood pressure status,” DuBois said. “We have so many patients where we have caught the silent disease, which is glaucoma. Glaucoma is painless and it doesn’t affect your sight until it’s quite pronounced.”

— Angie Wieck


2016.Best.Family.Health.Care     Melissa Erdmann Nurse Practitioner   Dave Wallis / The Forum
2016.Best.Family.Health.Care Melissa Erdmann Nurse Practitioner Dave Wallis / The Forum

Location: Stellar Healthcare, 827 28th St. S. Suite B, Fargo, N.D. 58103
Phone number: (701) 364-3660
Online: www.stellarhealthcarefargo.com

Reaction to winning?
“I feel completely honored that I won this. I really love my job, so I just feel blessed,” said Melissa Erdmann, a family nurse practitioner for Stellar Healthcare.

What attracted you to family practice?
“What I love about family practice is being able to see everyone from brand-new babies through geriatrics and really getting to know friends and family,” Erdmann said. “I really work to figure out what’s going on. I like to listen to my patients.”

What are three things people can easily do to improve their health?
“Definitely doing preventative care. Going in for your annual physical and doing annual tests that are suggested. Certainly exercising and taking care of yourself. Eating healthy. My third would probably be having open communication with your provider and being able to talk to them about issues you’re having and then following the plan of care that’s given,” she said.

— Angie Wieck


2016-best-real-estate-agent

Location: 4215 31st Ave S, Fargo
Phone number: (701) 212-­1572
Email: erik@hatchrealtyfm.com

What do you think sets you apart from other real estate agents?
“Our team operates quite differently than most other Realtors in town,” Hatch said. “We choose to operate as a team instead of as individuals as we’ve found our clients have the best experience with this approach. When you hire one of us, you get all of us. We’re confident in the services we provide and the energy we bring to each family we get to help. And we’re a heck of a lot of fun, too.”

What defines success in your line of work?
“Success, for me, is not about the next deal. It’s about making sure we listen extremely well to what our clients need, and then we do everything within our power to help them achieve those goals,” Hatch said. “This is a service-based industry where sales are a byproduct of great service. And when we fire on all cylinders, it proves to be successful because we listen well and then we work extremely hard.”

What made you want to get into the industry?
“I got into real estate because I was flat broke,” Hatch said. “I was previously working in ministry (a career that I loved), but I wasn’t able to make ends meet. The surprising thing about real estate, I’m discovering, is that it’s still the same job I had before when I was working at the church. I’m called to help, to serve, to listen and to encourage. It’s been wickedly fulfilling honoring my call to deeply impact my family, my team and the world.”

— Colton Pool


Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Premier Properties was named Best Real Estate Company in The Forum's 2016 Best Of publication.  Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Premier Properties was named Best Real Estate Company in The Forum’s 2016 Best Of publication.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Location: 815 38th St S, Fargo
Phone number: (701) 356-3600
Website: “www.bhhspreproperties.com

What does it mean to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Premier Properties to win Best Real Estate Company?
“We are truly humbled by the community’s support of our team,” said Tyrone Leslie, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Premier Properties owner. “It’s a testament to the quality of our agents who are passionate about their profession. Our agents understand the impact they have on people’s lives when buying and selling real estate. We couldn’t be more honored to work with the finest agents in the industry.”

What do you think makes Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Premier Properties successful?
“We invest in the team that supports our agents, and are tied to one of the most powerful brands in the world,” Leslie said. “It’s the perfect recipe for success.”

Why should customers go to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Premier Properties?

— Colton Pool


Best-Lakeside-Destination

Location: 11 Minnesota locations: Detroit Lakes, Little Pine Lake (Perham), Pelican Lake, Ottertail Lake, Cross Lake, Gull Lake, Zhateau (Park Rapids), Pokegama Lake (Grand Rapids), Big Sandy, Green Lake, Alexandria
Website: zorbaz.com

What do you think makes people want to come to Zorbaz?
“It’s a relaxing, good-time environment,” Detroit Lakes operating partner Tate Jansen said. “It’s no stress. You come in, relax, have a beer, grab some pizza and send your kids to play some video games.”

What do you think makes Zorbaz stand out?
“Kind of a little bit what I said (before): providing a relaxing atmosphere with great food and quality beverages,” Jansen said. “People are just relaxed. It’s not a chore. You don’t have to get a reservation. You walk in and find your own table. If you’re barefoot, no problem; no shirt on, no problem. You’re going to the beach, and it’s kind of that feel that you’re down in Mexico or California.”

— Colton Pool


RETIREMENTCOMMUNITY

Location: 201 S. University Drive, Fargo; 4255 30th Ave. S., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 239­-3000; (701) 478-­8900

Reaction to being a winner in this category six years in a row?
“We know we’re great here, but it’s nice to have the rest of the community recognize that, too,” said Grant R. Richardson, senior executive of development and community relations.

What separates you from other senior living facilities?
Richardson said residents of Bethany generally say it is the “amazing” staff that sets Bethany apart from other facilities.
“We try to hire people who are not only skilled and know what they are doing, but they care about the people just as much,” he said. “We want them to look forward to coming to work every day and putting our residents first. And that shows.”

What is something most people wouldn’t know about your facility?
Bethany offers retirement living on different levels from skilled care to assisted living and adult day care programs. “A lot of people think of Bethany as just a nursing home,” Richardson said. “We are that, but we have so many levels of care that we can provide care for seniors in any situation.”

— Wendy Reuer


Best.Hotel

Location: 4351 17th Ave. S., Fargo.
Phone number: (701) 499­-6000

Reaction to being a repeat winner in this category?
“We are beyond excited to be the winner of such a prestigious award for the second year in a row,” said Emily Fyre, assistant general manager.“Our entire hotel team works very hard day to day, so this award is an awesome way for the community of Fargo/Moorhead to let our team know what a great job they are all doing. Thank you.”

What makes the hotel stand out in our area?
“We believe it’s the personalities of our teammates, our high expectations for cleanliness and service, and our drive to be better than we were yesterday,” Fryre said. “We’re beyond excited to receive this award for the second year in a row, and truly credit our team with earning this.”

What is something most people wouldn’t know about your hotel?
“We have over 90 teammates from over 16 different countries and we all take turns learning languages, cultures, and geography.”

— Wendy Reuer


Jervis Van Vleck Heimbach, left, climbs into Tim "Toby" McPherson's restored P-51 for a ride Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, at the Fargo (N.D.) Air Museum. Heimbach is a decorated World War II P-51 pilot with over 52 missions and had the meeting arranged by his pilot granddaughter.  Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Jervis Van Vleck Heimbach, left, climbs into Tim “Toby” McPherson’s restored P-51 for a ride Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, at the Fargo (N.D.) Air Museum. Heimbach is a decorated World War II P-51 pilot with over 52 missions and had the meeting arranged by his pilot granddaughter. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Location: 1609 19th Ave. N., Fargo
Phone number: (701) 293-8043

Reaction to being a winner in this category?
“We think it’s wonderful, and we’re very grateful for all of the support from our community,” said Amy Ott, a member of gaming management.

What makes the museum stand out?
Braden Hagen, a volunteer for nearly a decade, said the personal touches and interactive ability make the Fargo Air Museum special.
“You can get a closer look than at most places,” he said. “A bunch of [the aircraft] are open.”

What is something most people wouldn’t know about your facility?
The museum has the largest aviation-related library in North Dakota and Minnesota.
It is also home to an original 1917 J-1 Standard aircraft, one of the oldest planes in the area that flew around the same time as the infamous Red Baron.

— Wendy Reuer