In our opinion, the best part of tallying “Best of” votes this year was getting to read all of the surprising, witty and widely varying reader comments. Xpress readers weighing in on the “best reason to live in Asheville,” for example, praised “the marvelous assortment of people” who live here, delighting in the idea that “you can get away with anything! It’s Asheville!”
Based on your responses, we’ve concluded that there’s no such thing as a typical Xpress reader. We know most of you prefer organic groceries - and even an “organic mechanic” - to the mainstream varieties, but votes for Starbucks and Wal-Mart still maintained a presence in our polls. (One of you even declared Wal-Mart to be Western North Carolina’s best “New Age/Spiritual Store.”)
When it comes to fashion, a lot of you head straight for Goodwill, but there was ample competition from upscale boutiques as well. As for the outdoors category, many voters wisely guarded their best-kept secrets (one response for “best place to swim” read, “Don’t you wish I’d tell ya!!”).
And the unconventional streak that Asheville is famous for was well-represented in some of the wild-card responses to our queries. As writers at the local newsweekly, we labored diligently over tallying the results for “most under-reported story.” The results were both enigmatic and revealing: There was a vote for “Portals dammit! Why won’tchu people listen to me! It’s portals!”; a cryptic reference to “the meteor”; and a “Brew and View” patron who was quite miffed about “Why Asheville Pizza stopped selling kalamata olives due to some idiot guy chipping his tooth on a pit.”
But enough about the pits - the winners listed below are the tops. And once again, you have proved that when it comes to getting advice on the best places to eat, drink, dance, shop, hike or be entertained, there’s no more authoritative source than Mountain Xpress readers.
(All “Best of” photos by Jonathan Welch, unless otherwise noted.)
— Xpress Staff