Welcome back to the Idaho Statesman’s Best of Treasure Valley.
After a one-year hiatus, the gold standard of area “Best Of” contests is back.
And readers certainly embraced the return: Nearly 95,000 votes were cast this year.
(Flip through the pages of Treasure Magazine featuring BOTV here, or at the end of this story.)
A few changes were implemented this time around. Statesman staff carefully chose 20 nominees for each category (some had fewer) based on previous Statesman’s BOTV winners and finalists, while also adding some new players in the area. Also, each person was allowed one vote per category, so there was no ballot stuffing.
In the end, those voters have provided a good snapshot of all that makes the Valley a great place to live and visit.
The 99 categories were grouped into three areas. Here’s a brief introduction.
ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT & THINGS TO DO
This section highlights some of the talented people who call the area home, from a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer (Anthony Doerr, Best Author) to an internationally known jazz musician and singer who has sold millions of records (Curtis Stigers, Best Musician/Band).
It also highlights the area’s vibrant art scene and sporting community, from the Idaho Shakespeare Festival (Best Performing Arts Group) to Boise State Broncos football (Best Sporting Event).
One category winner has become a vibrant part of the Boise landscape: The Traffic Box Gallery (Best Public Art).
“We get a lot of positive feedback for this program,” said Catina Crum, public arts assistant with the Boise City Department of Arts and History. “People really enjoy how the art makes something that is kind of bleak – these steel boxes that aren’t really beautiful to look at – into art that makes them colorful and vibrant and something they like to see every day.”
The program is adding 32 boxes this year that should be finished by the end of September. When finished, the Traffic Box Gallery will have more than 200 works of art.
FOOD AND DRINK
It’s a good idea to peruse this section on a full stomach, because if you’re hungry, you are only going to get hungrier – and way thirstier.
Voters have singled out some of the best food and drink options in the Treasure Valley, from fine dining (perennial winner Chandlers Steakhouse, Best Steakhouse and Best Fine Dining Restaurant) to less informal fare (Idaho Pizza Company, Best Pizzeria).
The offerings continue to impress Lou Aaron, chef and owner of Westside Drive In (Best Finger Steaks, runner-up in Best Fries and Best Burger).
Aaron brings a little perspective, too: His history working in area restaurants dates to the mid-1970s.
“I’ve been to Seattle and Portland a lot, and we’re right on par with those guys,” Aaron said. “Especially in the last 10 years, it’s just exploded to the point that we’re at culinary heights where we’ve never been before.”
Looking for a good book to read? Consider roaming the aisles of Rediscovered Bookshop (Best Bookstore). Hoping to finance a house purchase? You might give Idaho Central Credit Union a call (Best Mortgage/Best Financial Institution).
The bottom line: If you’re in the market for a product or service, this can help point you in the right direction.
Perhaps you’ve been going in any number of different directions because of the ever-present (and dusty) road construction in the Treasure Valley. It’s time to give your car a new shine at Rocket Express (Best Car Wash).
Joe Russell, who owns Rocket Express with his wife, Janet, takes pride in the business – and knows all about the satisfaction of driving a clean car.
“It can brighten your day,” Russell said. “It’s nice to take pride in the things we own, and automobiles are right at the top of most peoples’ list in that regard.”