Best of Frederick 2014 Winners

Celebrating 22 Years of the Best Businesses in Frederick County, Voted By the Readers of Frederick Magazine.

By Guy Fletcher and Nancy Luse | Photography by Turner Photography Studio | Posted on 02.27.14 – Feature, Food & Drink, Lifestyles, People & Places

“Best of Frederick” keeps getting bigger and better, and this year it started with you. Last September, we opened the online poll for readers to cast their votes for the best restaurants, services and many other things that make Frederick County great. We were prepared to be swamped with votes.

We got much more than that.

Votes poured in by the thousands, spurred by the magazine’s marketing and individual “campaigning” by various businesses. The record number of votes kept coming in right up until we closed voting in November. (Had we kept the poll open through the end of the year, we probably would have added hundreds of more votes.)

This, our 22nd “Best of Frederick,” features many of the popular categories you might recall from past years. There are also a few tweaks here and there, as some categories got added, some eliminated and some re-tooled to fit the ever-evolving tastes and interests of our community.

So, let’s get to the winners!


Overall Restaurant: The Tasting Room

Whether you’re a business person closing a deal, you’re in search of a special place to pop the question or you want fine dining that includes an impressive wine selection and an intriguing menu using fresh, local ingredients, The Tasting Room at the corner of North Market and West Church streets is the place readers flock to first.

2nd Place: Dutch’s Daughter

3rd Place: VOLT


Steak: The Tasting Room

2nd Place: The Red Horse

3rd Place: Outback Steakhouse


Cocktail: The Tasting Room

2nd Place: Firestone’s Culinary Tavern

3rd Place: Cafe Nola


New Restaurant: Madrones

Almost everything in Frederick’s Clemson Corner development looks new, which makes Madrones’ warm, cozy feel—as if it’s been a local staple for years—all the more impressive. A broad menu features something for everyone, but definitely try the roasted prime rib or the crab cakes.  Also, the attractive bar features fruit-infused cocktails and an excellent selection of craft beer.

2nd Place: Ayse Meze Lounge

3rd Place: Family Meal


Special Occasion/Romantic: VOLT

What else can be said about VOLT? There is the exceptional food and service. There is the national acclaim, thanks to celebrity chef and part-owner Bryan Voltaggio. There is the distinctive ambiance of contemporary, urban dining in a 19th-century brownstone mansion. A meal at VOLT is a multicourse journey that delights the senses and makes it the perfect destination for a special occasion.

2nd Place: Dutch’s Daughter

3rd Place: The Tasting Room


Service: VOLT

2nd Place: The Tasting Room

3rd Place: Madrones


Kid-Friendly: Family Meal

The myth about a kid-friendly restaurant is it must cater only to children. That’s what makes Family Meal so special: It pulls off that rare feat of serving up dishes that are both accessible and sophisticated. From the fried chicken to the duck fat fried potatoes, there’s something here for kids of all ages.

2nd Place: Red Robin

3rd Place: Chuck E. Cheese’s


Italian: il Porto

Located a few blocks south of Downtown Frederick’s dining corridor, il Porto is doing something right given its location doesn’t benefit from heavy foot traffic. Attracting customers are quality meals—including veal, poultry, pasta and whole fish and fish fillets—at reasonable prices. Customer favorites include the roast veal, crispy flounder and rockfish filet.

2nd Place: Nido’s Little Italy Ristorante

3rd Place: Olive Garden


Asian: China Garden

No matter how many new Asian restaurants open in Frederick, China Garden continues to be the favorite for its sushi bar, combination platters and friendly staff that fusses over babies and remembers that you like extra fried noodles with your egg drop soup. Its spot on West Patrick Street is easy to find and delivery is offered within the city.

2nd Place: Lucky Corner

3rd Place: Sumittra


Sushi: Hinode Japanese Restaurant

One of the mainstays of Carroll Creek Linear Park is this restaurant that serves up many Japanese delights, but specifically scores big with its wide variety of high-quality, tasty sushi and sashimi offerings featuring tuna and other seafood delights. Sit at a table or pull up a seat at the sushi bar to get the full show.

2nd Place: China Garden

3rd Place: Miyako


Latin-American: Cacique

From the soft lighting, crisp, white table linens and dining room fireplaces to the café tables on the sidewalk where you can see and be seen, Cacique’s atmosphere is only surpassed by its exquisite food, whether drinks with an order of ceviche or a meal of paella, seafood enchiladas or fajitas from a mesquite grill.

2nd Place: La Paz

3rd Place: Sabor de Cuba


Seafood: May’s

Frederick is only an hour away from the seafood-rich offerings of Baltimore and Annapolis, and May’s has the look, feel and taste of a crab house you would find closer to the Chesapeake Bay. May’s has become synonymous with spicy steamed crabs, but the menu also includes shrimp, scallops, fish and other seafood treats.

2nd Place: Dutch’s Daughter

3rd Place: Bonefish Grill


Sunday Brunch: Dutch’s Daughter

This Himes Avenue restaurant may not have invented the concept of brunch, but they certainly own it with a winning array of everything from grilled salmon and roasted potatoes to fluffy scrambled eggs and crisp bacon. Elegant surroundings and a friendly staff add to the experience.

2nd Place: Cafe Nola

3rd Place: Firestone’s Culinary Tavern


Crab Cake: Dutch’s Daughter

2nd Place: May’s

3rd Place: Madrones


Specialty: Isabella’s Taverna & Tapas Bar

If you’re looking for a unique dining experience, Isabella’s is the place. Here you can make a meal of “tapas,” a Spanish dining experience consisting of appetizers and other food served in small plates. It’s a wonderful way to taste your way through the menu and for friends to share around the table. Sunday brunch is also special here.

2nd Place: Ayse Meze Lounge

3rd Place: The Orchard


Deli/Carryout: Crabapples

Lawyers who may have been duking it out across the street in the courthouse can come together as friends over pastrami on rye at Crabapples, a New York-style deli that consistently earns readers’ top honors. Sandwich fixings are only surpassed by the toothsome rolls and breads at this landmark on the corner of West Patrick and Court streets.

2nd Place: a.k.a Friscos

3rd Place: Jimmy John’s


Sandwich: a.k.a Friscos

You know a.k.a. Friscos must have some amazing sandwiches when its location is a bit off the beaten path. Forget Downtown and sprawl shopping centers, Friscos is tucked away in a business park off New Design Road. Try their “giant” sandwiches, all with Bay Area-style names, like the “Embarcadero” roast beef or the “Presidio” with sliced turkey, salami and provolone.

2nd Place: Jimmy John’s

3rd Place: Panera


Chicken Wings: The Canal Bar & Grill

Chicken wings are the sports teams of the food world. Everyone has a favorite and is loyal to a particular brand or style. But Canal Bar & Grill has established itself as a consistent winner with its delectable poultry.

2nd Place: Buffalo Wild Wings

3rd Place: Guido’s


Breakfast: Cafe Nola

Right off the Square Corner, Café Nola is a popular spot to grab a coffee and breakfast sandwich to go, or pull up a chair outside and fork your way through a leisurely meal of eggs Benedict and Nola’s amazing home fries. Fresh, local ingredients are the restaurant’s mantra, as well as friendly service and convenient location.

2nd Place: IHOP

3rd Place: Cracker Barrel


Bagel: Beans & Bagels

The bagels at Beans & Bagels are fresh and ample enough to handle all the toppings available from breakfast to lunch, whether it’s cream cheese and lox, hummus, a veggie spread, chicken salad or simply toasted with butter. The first part of the name is also a draw for coffee fans seeking all manner of blends and specialty drinks available at the West Patrick Street eatery.

2nd Place: Panera Bread

3rd Place: Zi Pani


Lunch: The Orchard

Healthy never tasted so good, whether it’s soups and salads, an order of hummus and pita, vegetable tempura or one of many stir fries offered at this popular spot on the corner of North Market and West Church streets. But that’s not to say a decadent homemade dessert isn’t out of the question here.

2nd Place: Wag’s

3rd Place: JoJo’s Restaurant & Tap House


Worth the Drive: Antrim 1844

If you want a dining experience that combines a six-course gourmet meal in a historic setting, then this is the drive for you. Less than an hour away in Taneytown awaits a destination restaurant—part of a beautifully restored 24-acre estate—that has received national acclaim. If you would like to really enjoy the Antrim 1844 experience, make a reservation to stay at one of the mansion’s guestrooms.

2nd Place: Bavarian Inn

3rd Place: The Cheesecake Factory


Happy Hour: The Canal Bar & Grill

2nd Place: Isabella’s

3rd Place: The Tasting Room


Pizza: il forno Pizzeria

What makes il Forno’s pizzas so special? It could be the hand-tossed dough that creates such a tasty foundation, or maybe the chunky home-style tomato sauce that is created in the restaurant each day. But our bet is in the wood-fired oven that gives the pizza it’s special crust and smoky flavor.

2nd Place: Ledo Pizza

3rd Place: Coal Fire Pizza


Hamburger: Wag’s

Think anyone can do a burger? Think again. When it comes to juicy and delicious, Wag’s is again the readers’ go-to place, located in a cozy basement pub reminiscent of “Cheers.” Added points are the way their burgers can be gussied up, whether with blue cheese or Wag’s famous chili. And don’t forget the amazing fries.

2nd Place: Five Guys

3rd Place: Red Robin


Chili: Hard Times Café

Hard Times is a winner in this category for not only making a great chili, but for making so many varieties. The menu here includes chili that represents many styles and regions in the country.  Not sure what kind you want? Ask your server to bring you a sample dish.

2nd Place: Wag’s

3rd Place: The Canal Bar & Grill


Overall Barbeque: Black Hog Barbecue & Bar

No need to travel to Memphis, Kansas City or any of the other barbecue capitols to score some delicious ‘cue. Located on South Market Street in a former garage, Black Hog serves up atmosphere along with smoked and sauced meats and side dishes that take a backseat to no rib or hunk of brisket.

2nd Place: CarterQue BBQ & Grilling Co.

3rd Place: Famous Dave’s


Barbeque Ribs: Black Hog Barbecue & Bar

2nd Place: Famous Dave’s

3rd Place: CarterQue BBQ & Grilling Co.


Burrito: Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chain restaurants tend to trend poorly in “Best of Frederick,” so you know when the voters back one there must be something really special going on. The burritos at Chipotle are big, bold and full of all the great things you want—a wide variety of meats, rice, salsas and other fillings for you to customize what will likely be the gastronomical prelude to a food coma.

2nd Place: La Paz Mexican Restaurant

3rd Place: Fajita Grande


Dessert: Angelcakes

The cupcake craze swept through Frederick and the rest of the nation several years ago, leaving some to wonder if it was merely a culinary fad that would drift out of town just as quickly. But Angelcakes shows that hand-sized tasty delights—from salted caramel to chocolate ganache cream —are here to stay.

2nd Place: The Wine Kitchen

3rd Place: Family Meal


Bakery: Stone Hearth Bakery

Bread is considered to be the staff of life and a visit to Stone Hearth Bakery is going to make you wish to live to be 100 so you can indulge in the wide assortment of breads from their ovens. But it’s not just bread at this East Street bakery; there are cakes, tarts, cookies and other pastries to sweeten life.

2nd Place: Angelcakes

3rd Place: Wegmans


Ice Cream/Frozen Treat: Rita’s

Nothing signals the return of spring in Frederick quite like a long line at Rita’s on West Patrick Street. The wait is worth it as you visit with others in line and decide in your mind between Italian ice, frozen custard or gelato, and whether it should be mango or strawberry.

2nd Place: sweetFrog

3rd Place: Yogi Castle


Chocolate: The Perfect Truffle

The little shop tucked away in Everedy Square has again captured the hearts and taste buds of readers with its traditional as well as inventive ingredients in their hand-crafted chocolate treats. Just stepping inside the Perfect Truffle’s door and inhaling the intoxicating scents is enough to make you want to order one of everything.

2nd Place: Zoe’s Chocolate Co.

3rd Place: Candy Kitchen


Liquor Store: Ye Old Spirit Shop

It’s been said before, but any liquor store that offers you a shopping cart is onto something. Visit Ye Old Spirit Shop and you could find yourself wandering the aisles for 20, 30 minutes or longer, just taking in the enormous selection of beers, wines and spirits. And if there is something they don’t have, just ask the friendly, helpful staff.

2nd Place: Old Farm Liquors

3rd Place: Riverside Liquors


Local Beer: Flying Dog Brewery

Flying Dog Brewery has built its name—both locally and nationally—by offering an outstanding, expansive menu of craft beer that features year-round, seasonal, limited-release and “brewhouse rarities” brews.  New in 2013 were growler fills at the Wedgewood Boulevard brewery that let Flying Dog fans enjoy the draft beer experience at home.

2nd Place: Brewer’s Alley

3rd Place: Barley and Hops


Local Wine: Linganore Winecellars

Linganore Winecellars was one of Frederick County’s first vineyards and continues to be where our readers turn when they want to celebrate a special occasion or make an ordinary weekday meal something more. Linganore is the champion of wine festivals and increasingly a popular wedding venue.

2nd Place: Black Ankle Vineyards

3rd Place: Elk Run Vineyards


Coffeehouse: Frederick Coffee Company & Café

Located on the corner of Church and East streets, Frederick Coffee Company is a second home for many, whether it’s the gathering of men—mostly retirees— trying to solve the world’s problems or college students tapping on computers. One thing in common is the steaming cup of coffee at the ready.

2nd Place: Starbucks

3rd Place: Cafe Nola


Caterer: Canapés

Charities hosting fundraisers will be guaranteed a sold-out event when Canapes is listed as the one providing food, and brides with their heads in the clouds will actually take the time to savor their wedding meal with the delicious and inventive offerings of this Frederick full-service caterer.

2nd Place: CarterQue BBQ & Grilling Co.

3rd Place: The Savory Spoon


Art Gallery: The Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center

Yes, some art museums can be a bit boring and stuffy, but the Delaplaine is neither. Housed in a restored 100-year-old mill building along Carroll Creek Linear Park, the Delaplaine has over 50 exhibits each year that range from modern photography to mixed-media displays. Want some hands-on art? Check out the Delaplaine’s many classes.

2nd Place: Artomatic

3rd Place: Griffin Art Center


Museum: National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Civil War medicine isn’t just about rusty saws, and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine does its best to put that stereotype to rest. Here you will learn much more about the tremendous advancements in medical treatment and prevention made during the war, including the birth of practices still in use today.

2nd Place: Roads and Rails Museum

3rd Place: Rose Hill Manor Park & Children’s Museum


Best Entertainment Value: Weinberg Center for the Arts

Where else but the Weinberg Center can you see national and even international talent one week and later burst with pride at seeing your daughter performing in a ballet—all on the same stage? From special movie nights to plays and concerts, the Weinberg on West Patrick Street is a gem in Downtown’s theater district.

2nd Place: Adventure Park USA

3rd Place: Holiday Cinemas


Swimming Pool: Edward P. Thomas Jr. Memorial Swimming Pool

Countless Frederick children—many now adults—have learned to swim at the Edward P. Thomas Jr. pool in Baker Park. Aside from the lessons from patient instructors, is the unbridled fun of the pool’s newest splash features, a diving area and marked swim lanes that make cooling off in the middle of July an easy choice.

2nd Place: William R. Diggs. Memorial Swimming Pool

3rd Place: YMCA


Park: Baker Park

From the William R. Tolley Recreation Center on one end to Culler Lake on the other, the 44-acre Baker Park is everything a city park should be—a place to watch waddling families of ducks, play tennis, walk the dog, get married, toss a Frisbee, jog, take in a concert, stare at 4th of July fireworks and slide down a snow-covered hill.

2nd Place: Cunningham Falls State Park

3rd Place: Catoctin Mountain Park


Hiking Trail: Cunningham Falls State Park

Warmer weather is right around the corner, and Cunningham Falls might offer the best and most scenic opportunity to hike through the great outdoors. Nine trails of varying terrain, grade and distance slice through the park. Feeling especially adventurous? Try the Catoctin Trail that cuts through the park as part of its 27-mile journey through the north part of the county.

2nd Place: Gambrill State Park

3rd Place: Sugarloaf Mountain


Golf Course: Clustered Spires Golf Club

The city-owned golf course always gets high marks because of its relative value amid higher-priced privately owned links. Weekday winter rates at Clustered Spires get you 18 holes, with a cart, for just $30, which isn’t too bad for playing on a beautiful course bordered by the Monocacy River and just two miles from Downtown Frederick.

2nd Place: Whiskey Creek Golf Club

3rd Place: Hollow Creek Golf Club


Overall Bar: Firestone’s Culinary Tavern

You could stop at the historic ambiance of Firestone’s—with its tin roof and exposed brick walls—as a great reason to make this a favorite bar. But Firestone’s backs up the vibe with an impressive list of beer, wine and spirits—including 29 varieties of single-malt Scotch whisky—and a helpful staff that will guide you through any libation question.

2nd Place: Brewer’s Alley

3rd Place: Bushwaller’s


Singles Bar: Firestone’s Culinary Tavern

2nd Place: The Canal Bar & Grill

3rd Place: Champion Billiards Sports Cafe


Dance Club/Bar: Club Reina

Start a discussion about the kinds of entertainment Frederick lacks and it won’t take very long until someone mentions dancing. The simple fact is, there just aren’t that many places to shake it in town. Blissfully, Club Reina—the late-night, weekend alter ego of Isabella’s Taverna & Tapas Bar—is one of the few exceptions.

2nd Place: Champion Billiard Sports Cafe

3rd Place: Cafe Nola


Sports Bar: Buffalo Wild Wings

Sports bars need just a few things, food, beer and lots of TV. The Buffalo Wild Wings chain, with two Frederick County locations, covers all three. If there is a big game on, you can be sure it will be on one or more of ubiquitous TVs that fill the restaurant. And if your game isn’t on, just ask your server and they will try to find it for you so you can watch from the comfort of your table.

2nd Place: Champion Billiard Sports Cafe

3rd Place: Glory Days Grill


Billiards: Champion Billiard Sports Cafe

With the word “billiard” in the name, it’s a no-brainer that Champion is the place to go when you want to rack ‘em up. With 14 9-foot tables and 4 7-foot tables, there are plenty of chances to play a game of pool, whether you are taking on some friends for happy hour or joining a league.

2nd Place: Hard Times Cafe and Cue

3rd Place: Belles’ Sports Bar & Grill


Reception Venue: Ceresville Mansion

This historic 1888 mansion, a full 9,000 square feet, is the perfect location for wedding ceremonies and receptions, business events, fundraising galas, private parties, and more. Located on 25 riverside acres with gorgeous mountain views, the mansion’s signature ballroom can seat up to 200 guests.

2nd Place: Hollow Creek Golf Club

3rd Place: The Faux School


Charitable/Social Event: An Evening on the Riviera

After a one-year hiatus, An Evening on the Riviera came back in force last fall, resuming its place as the county’s premier wine-and-food extravaganza. But more than a fun night out, the event raised thousands of dollars for charity. This year’s event will be Oct. 3, so mark your calendars now.

2nd Place: JoAnn Garrett Classic

3rd Place: Catoctin Affair


Radio Station: WFRE-FM

From up-and-coming country music stars to those who have been strumming and singing for decades, this station has them covered. It’s also a good way to get in the mood for The Great Frederick Fair concerts.

2nd Place: Key 103 (WAFY-FM)

3rd Place: WFMD-AM


Radio Personality: Bob Miller

Not only does WFMD’s Bob Miller get props for getting up wicked early to host the Morning News Express from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., he’s also the big cheerleader for the station’s annual Christmas Cash for Kids project that last year raised $142,000 and gladdened the hearts of more than 1,700 local kids. Miller also graciously dresses as the Sugar Plum Fairy for the Downtown Kris Kringle Parade.

2nd Place: Tom Whalen

3rd Place: Dave Conrad


Festival/Event: In The Street

Back in 1983 when all the construction equipment left North Market Street after a project to bury the overhead power lines, it was time to have a party to celebrate. The bash has not abated. In fact, it gets bigger every year, attracting visitors from around the state to hear blocks of musicians, run a marathon, entertain the kids and eat amazing food from street vendors.

2nd Place: The Great Frederick Fair

3rd Place: Colorfest


Band: The Reagan Years

Peg your stone-washed jeans and put on your Members Only jacket. The Reagan Years play all the favorites of the 1980s, from hair bands to new wave.

2nd Place: Drunk Naked Pirates

3rd Place: The Chris Adams Band


Theater Troupe/Group: Maryland Ensemble Theatre

The Maryland Ensemble Theatre isn’t resting on its 15-year history of providing main stage productions, instead knocking out walls at 15 W. Patrick St. to create a second theater to accommodate simultaneous shows. From original plays to the classics, adult humor and drama to children’s productions, the MET deserves a standing ovation.

2nd Place: Way Off Broadway

3rd Place: Performing Arts Factory


High School Marching Band: Gov. Thomas Johnson High School

It only makes sense that the school designated as the county’s Arts and Communications Academy should have a superior marching band, and TJ backs it up on the field. Recently the band took first place and captured the title of Maryland State Champions and Mid-Atlantic Champions at the USBands Mid-Atlantic State Championship.

2nd Place: Frederick High School

3rd Place: Linganore High School


High School Sports Team: Middletown High School

Middletown High School’s sports program has been good-to-dominant in many areas in recent years, including boys’ lacrosse, and girls’ soccer. But the Knights’ football program, led by coach Kevin Lynott, has been the real headline-grabber, winning three consecutive state 2A championships.

2nd Place: Urbana High School

3rd Place: Walkersville High School


Blog: Housewives of Frederick County

Run by twin sisters with a love of all things Frederick, this blog has become the rock star of the local online scenes, offering restaurant reviews, entertainment tips and spotlights on the county’s small towns. Housewives has definite appeal to the household CEO, with recipes, beauty and health tips, and a large social media following.

2nd Place: aMusing Foodie

3rd Place: Frederick Maryland Online


Auto Repair: Carriage House Automotive

No one likes it when their wheels take a turn for the worse, but if it’s going to happen you can rest easy with the skilled mechanics at Carriage House on Worman’s Mill Court. They can work on nearly any type of car repair issue and most makes and models, specializing in European and Asian imports.

2nd Place: East Side Auto Service

3rd Place: Triangle Motors


Car Wash: The Auto Spa

The winter road salt has done a number on your vehicle, not to mention the interior that’s no doubt in dire need of a spring cleaning, so head to the experts at Fredericktowne AutoSpa to get a car or truck that will be the envy of the neighbors.

2nd Place: Rosemont Car Wash

3rd Place: Golden Mile Shell Car Wash


Hair Salon: Thomas Scott Salon and Spa

There’s beauty to be had on Baughman’s Lane at the Thomas Scott Salon and Spa, repeatedly the place readers chose when treating their tresses to a cut, color or hairstyle, not to mention nail care, facials and cosmetics. The salon’s motto is “where health and beauty go hand in hand.”

2nd Place: New York New York Hair Salon and Day Spa

3rd Place: Sam Wong Salon


Day Spa: Thomas Scott Salon and Spa

2nd Place: New York New York Hair Salon and Day Spa

3rd Place: Renaissance Salon & Spa


Nair Care Salon: New York New York Hair Salon and Day Spa

Treat yourself on Toll House Avenue to a relaxing manicure or pedicure at New York, New York, where each technician is highly trained to enhance the beauty of your nails. The shop has been a favorite of Frederick for 26 years.

2nd Place: Thomas Scott Salon and Spa

3rd Place: Rose Nails


Barber Shop: Gentlemen’s Choice Barber/Stylist

Remember the barber shop? You know, that bastion of testosterone where you got your hair “cut”—not “styled”—while the barber talked about sports and politics.  It still exists at Gentlemen’s Choice on U.S. 40, where up to 10 chairs wait to serve your needs. And yes, if you must get styled, the barbers can cover that, too.

2nd Place: All About Men Barber Shop

3rd Place: Wastlers’ Barber Shop


Dry Cleaners: ZIPS Dry Cleaners

No need to wonder what it’s going to cost to dry clean a sweater, coat and slacks when you drop by ZIPS dry cleaners on the Golden Mile because each item is $1.99 and there is no need to drop in on a special day to get the price—it’s every day.

2nd Place: Prospect Cleaners

3rd Place: Town Cleaners


Carpentry/Home Improvement: Talon Construction

Your home is your castle and if you’re considering a few renovations or a top-to-bottom dream house, Talon Construction can bring the hammers, skill and knowledge to have you living in the abode you’ve always wanted, with thoughts of home sweet home in your head.

2nd Place: Cedarbrook

3rd Place: Phoenix Rising/Anthony Owens


Landscaping: Clearwater Landscape & Nursery

Ijamsville-based Clearwater Landscape & Nursery will help you turn a lackluster backyard into a little bit of Eden, or perhaps a lot of Eden. From offering advice on the best trees and shrubs for our climate to creating an artful oasis of nature’s beauty, the folks at Clearwater can do the job.

2nd Place: Barrick & Sons

3rd Place: Local Leaves Enterprises


Heating/Air Conditioning: Holtzople Heating & Air Conditioning

This winter’s polar vortex will soon be relegated to the far reaches of our brains, just as summer’s swelter descends with a vengeance. But keeping our homes and businesses comfortable in either case is the forte of Holtzople Heating & Air Conditioning and its dependable, friendly service.

2nd Place: Frederick Air

3rd Place: N.E. “Bob” Waltz Plumbing & Heating


Electrician: Provident Electric

This family owned and managed company was formed in 2002 and has prided itself with courteous, efficient and dependable electrical contract services in the Frederick area and beyond. In addition, Provident Electric shines a light with its philanthropy to the local community.

2nd Place: Horn Electric Service

3rd Place: Brandenburg Electric


Plumbing: Tri-State Home Services LLC

With three generations of employees on staff, Tri-State Home Services can tackle all your plumbing needs, whether it’s a drippy faucet or re-piping an entire house. Our readers have deemed them the plum of plumbers and the owners say on their website that “we never leave a mess.”

2nd Place: N.E. “Bob” Waltz Plumbing & Heating

3rd Place: Putman Plumbing & Heating


Computer Tech/Repair: Geek Squad

Nothing can make a heart sink quite like a fried computer. But where to turn to recover your lost files, photos and important documents? The Geek Squad has built a reputation as being the “911” call for all computer emergencies, but it can also handle tech support for a wide range of home electronics, from appliances and home theaters to gaming systems and phones.

2nd Place: It needs help

3rd Place: Frederick TechHeads


Veterinary: Buckeystown Veterinary Hospital

For many people, their pets are family. So when it comes to the health of their cats, dogs, hamsters and other small animals, they turn to the folks at Buckeystown Veterinary Hospital who are also like family. Whether it’s making sure shots are up to date or addressing an illness, they bring skill and caring to your pet’s needs.

2nd Place: CARE Veterinary Center

3rd Place: Kingsbrook Animal Hospital


Financial Planning: Chris Murray

Chris Murray’s financial planning savvy has been assisting Frederick County residents with their finances since 1989 and he has been president of Murray Financial Group since 1994. Host of a weekly finance show on WFMD-AM, he has been our readers’ top choice for seven years.

2nd Place: Key Financial Group

3rd Place: McCaskill Financial


Tattoo Parlor: Classic Electric Tattoo

Tattoos have long ago moved from the taboo to the mainstream, and Classic Electric Tattoo elevates it to an art form.  Browse the shop’s wide selection of tattoo design or have one of the tattoo artists custom-make your own. They will even “fix” a previous tattoo, perhaps turning your ex-boyfriend’s name into a flower.

2nd Place: Marks of the Spark Tattoos

3rd Place: Time Bomb Tattooing & Body Piercings


Men’s Fashion: Men’s Wearhouse

This franchise has ditched its catchphrase, “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.” (That’s because they also ditched the guy who made the guarantee.) But with a massive selection of suits, sport coats, tuxedos and more, Men’s Wearhouse will absolutely make you like the way you look.

2nd Place: Kohl’s

3rd Place: Jos. A. Bank


Women’s Fashion: Velvet Lounge

That corner of 2nd and North Market streets has always been a top fashion location (remember Connies?) and now a new generation of clothes-conscious women goes through the doors at the Velvet Lounge, where our readers say they love, love, love the fun, funky and functional collections.

2nd Place: Kohl’s

3rd Place: Aspire


Women’s Shoes: DSW

It’s been said that a woman can never have too many pairs of shoes. If this strikes a note with you, head over to DSW at the Francis Scott Key Mall where among the racks and racks of footwear you’ll be able to find the boots, pumps or heels missing from your home closet. (Pssst: The store has men’s shoes, too.)

2nd Place: Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse

3rd Place: Boscov’s


Antiques: Emporium Antiques

Located in a sprawling former auto dealership and garage on East Patrick Street with display windows on Carroll Street, this is an antique-lover’s vision of heaven or at the very least Antiques Roadshow. Countless vendors have booths filled with treasurers from yesteryear, from the classic to the kitsch.

2nd Place: Old Glory Antique Marketplace

3rd Place: Great Stuff by Paul Antiques


Home Furnishing: Wolf Furniture

Located on U.S. 40, Wolf Furniture has a wide selection of sofas, beds, tables and chairs with lamps and other accessories to make a house a home. From their friendly and knowledgeable staff to the special sales that coincide with every holiday on the calendar, Wolf’s is a furniture shopping destination.

2nd Place: Gladhill Furniture

3rd Place: HomeGoods


Farmer’s Market: West Frederick Farmer’s Market

Local farmers and growers are increasingly finding markets for their products to reach area consumers, and the West Frederick market on Baughman’s Lane rises to the top of the list with its numerous and varied vendors, convenient location and plentiful parking—although it does fill up in the height of sweet corn season.

2nd Place: Everedy Square & Shab Row Farmer’s Market

3rd Place: Urbana Regional Library Farmer’s Market


Fine Jewelry: Colonial Jewelers

A box embossed with the Colonial Jewelers’ name is a reason for excitement even before it’s opened because you know that inside is a beautifully designed and well-crafted gift. From engagement rings to engraved baby cups and retirement watches, Colonial is part of many Frederick family milestones.

2nd Place: Gold Thumb Jewelry Creations

3rd Place: Zaruba and Zaruba


Grocery Store: Wegmans

Wegmans is to grocery stores what Fenway Park is to ballparks—the one place you need to go and might find yourself coming back again and again. Yes, there is the enormous grocery and Wegmans’ famously fresh produce, but there is so much more. Check out the full-service bakery, deli and selection of aged steaks just waiting to be grilled.

2nd Place: Giant Eagle

3rd Place: The Common Market


Pet Store: PetSmart

American’s spent an estimated $55.53 billion on their pets last year, a number that justifies having big box pet supply stores like PetSmart to serve your every need for your pooch, cat, fish, bird or—yes—reptile. Wander the vast aisles of PetSmart and you can find everything from the obvious toys and treats to the harder-to-find healthcare products and special-diet food.

2nd Place: Two Paws Up

3rd Place: Petco


Comic Book Store: Brainstorm Comics

Billing itself as the locally owned and operated comic shop located in Downtown Frederick, Brainstorm brings in volume and selection, as it has been doing so since 1984.. Don’t see what you are looking for, just ask and the helpful staff will try to find it for you.

2nd Place: Beyond Comics

3rd Place: Wonder Book and Video


Car Dealer: Fitzgerald Auto Mall

“Auto mall” seems like an ambitious term, but Fitzgerald definitely can bring a collection of brands that make the traditional auto dealership look sparse by comparison. The sprawling Baughman’s Lane facility is covered with the newest Chevrolets, Cadillacs, Mazdas and Volkswagens.

2nd Place: Shockley Honda

3rd Place: FSK Audi Lincoln Volvo


Gift/Specialty Shop: The Muse

A recent renovation at The Muse at 19 N. Market St., has the shop looking as beautiful as the myriad of items it sells. Whether shopping for a birthday or shower gift, a special occasion card, or a treat for yourself, stop in and meet the friendly staff ready to assist.

2nd Place: Flights of Fancy

3rd Place: Retro-Metro


Neighborhood: Downtown Frederick

Even if you don’t live Downtown to experience the convenience of walking to top-notch restaurants, bars, galleries and live theater, while residing in an historic townhouse or loft apartment, you will want to at least visit—there’s always something happening whether it’s a First Saturday event or a casual street musician.

2nd Place: Baker Park

3rd Place: Lake Linganore


Garden Center: The Dutch Plant Farm

When it seems like winter’s icy grip will never let go, visit the Dutch Plant Farm on Baughman’s Lane and walk through the large greenhouse to savor what’s in store. This is the place for all green-thumbers whether you’re growing tomatoes on your patio or putting in an old-fashion rose garden.

2nd Place: Lowe’s

3rd Place: Thanksgiving Farms


Fitness Center: Sport and Health

Sport and Health upped the ante in the local “gym wars” when it opened its second Frederick location, a 40,000-square-foot state-of-the-art fitness center off Md. 26. Amenities include a four-lane indoor pool, virtual cycling studio, a basketball court and the latest cardio and strength equipment.

2nd Place: Solider Fit

3rd Place: YMCA


Personal Trainer: Kip Jawish

Kip Jawish founded IN-FIT Studio nearly a quarter of a century ago, recognizing the need for more personal, one-on-one training in a non-intimidating atmosphere. Since then he has built a clientele of loyal, satisfied customers who rave about his ability to help them meet their fitness goals.

2nd Place: Shannon Wallace

3rd Place: Solider Fit


Florist: En Masse

Quality and originality describe the 141 N. Market St. floral shop where you can find everything from familiar flowers to the exotic with a riot of colors or lovely pastels. With buckets of flowers on the sidewalk in warm weather, who isn’t inspired to buy a bouquet to take home?

2nd Place: Abloom

3rd Place: Flower Fashions, Inc.


Bookstore: Barnes & Noble

Even with all the electronic gadgets that fill our world, it’s nice to be able to curl up with a book and flip through the pages. For all things literary, Barnes & Noble in the Francis Scott Key Mall is the store to visit. From travel tomes to classic children’s stories, it’s all here.

2nd Place: Wonder Book and Video

3rd Place: Curious Iguana


Pet Friendly Venue: Baker Park

There are great places to take a dog and then there are awesome places, and Baker Park fits into the latter category. The abundant ball fields and other open spaces seem like they were designed for Fido to stretch his legs. Check out the annual Walk-N-Wag event at the park, which raises funds for the Frederick County Humane Society.

2nd Place: Downtown

3rd Place: La Paz

Doctor: Dr. Mark A. Pitts

2nd Place: Frederick Primary Care Associates

3rd Place: The Pediatric Center of Frederick

Lawyer: Jeanne F. Singer

2nd Place: Jeff McEvoy

3rd Place: Scott Rolle



Best “I wish Frederick had…”: Sonic

For years local residents were taunted by the national marketing campaigns for Sonic, the drive-in fast food joint known for its burgers shakes and tater tots. The reason for the frustration was simple: We don’t have one. But help is one the way, with plans this year to build a Sonic on Guilford Drive.

2nd Place: Trader Joe’s

3rd Place: The Cheesecake Factory


Best “I wish Frederick would bring back”: Freeze King

We lost a bit of Americana when Freeze King ceased to send root beer floats, banana splits and swirled frozen custard through the little sliding glass service window of the stand on East Street. It was a place not only to satisfy a sweet tooth, but also where ball teams went to celebrate and senior citizens took their grandkids.

2nd Place: Roller Rink

3rd Place: White Star