Best of Frederick 2015 Winners

By Guy Fletcher and Nancy Luse | Photography by Turner Photography Studio | Posted on 02.15.15 – Feature, Food & Drink, Music

For the 23rd year, we asked our readers what they believed are the best things about Frederick County—the best food, the best drink, the best entertainment, the best outdoors activities, the best services, even the best marching band. And, once again, the readers of Frederick Magazine came through, flooding us with votes during a two-month polling period last fall.

“Best of Frederick” is one of the most popular features in Frederick Magazine, but it has little to do with our work. After all, we simply tabulate the winners and publish them here. The real work is done by the voters, the “candidates” and all those who openly campaigned on social media and elsewhere for their favorite thing about Frederick County. That’s who really drives this poll, and we thank you.

On the following pages you might notice a couple changes from past “Best of Frederick” polls. We try our best to respond to readers who ask for us to add new categories or retire others; “Best of Frederick” is organic and will always be subject to tweaks and adjustments.

Now, on to the winners!

Fare & Frozen Treats

Overall Restaurant: The Tasting Room

Situated in the heart of Downtown’s historic district at the corner of North Market and Church streets, The Tasting Room has become nearly as famous as Frederick’s clustered spires. The restaurant’s innovative, seasonal menu, impressive wine selection, cocktails and “mocktails,” plus friendly staff, is the place to go whether celebrating an anniversary, talking business or enjoying a GNO.

2nd Place: Madrones

3rd Place: Family Meal


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: VOLT


New Restaurant: Pistarro’s

Pistarro’s, at 221 N. East St., has a pizza oven that was hand-made in Naples from volcanic clay and burns hard wood at a temperature of more than 1,000 degrees, producing the perfect pie. Adding to the reason for the perfection is the dough and sauce made from ingredients from Italy as well as the house-made mozzarella made daily.

2nd Place: The Lodge

3rd Place: Vintage


Special Occasion/Romantic: VOLT

Is it the deliciously fresh, locally-sourced and innovative food? Maybe the elegantly designed lounge and dining room in a 19th-century brownstone mansion has something to do with it, or the friendly, attentive staff that has won the hearts and votes of diners once again. When the calendar decrees a special date, VOLT is likely to be the destination of choice.

2nd Place: The Tasting Room

3rd Place: Dutch’s Daughter


Service: VOLT

2nd Place: The Tasting Room

3rd Place: Madrones


Kid-Friendly: Family Meal

It’s wrong to assume that when it comes to kids all they want for breakfast is Pop-Tarts or when they sit down to lunch or dinner it’s Kraft Mac & Cheese. Family Meal on East Street tosses that all aside with a menu appealing to both children and their parents, from the waffles at breakfast to the mouth-watering fried chicken and milkshakes later in the day.

2nd Place: Brewer’s Alley

3rd Place: Red Robin


Italian: il Porto

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie (and even if it doesn’t), there’s no better place to go for Italian cuisine than il Porto, a few blocks south of Downtown on Market Street. Here, a friendly wait staff and talented kitchen make the meal special, whether it’s veal, poultry, pasta or seafood. Getting a reasonable bill at the end of the meal also beckons a visit.

2nd Place: Nido’s Little Italy Ristorante

3rd Place: Olives


Asian: China Garden

China Garden is the Babe Ruth of “Best of Frederick” polls, a reliable winner with an obviously strong and loyal following. And for good reason. China Garden wins among customers for its sushi bar, combination platters and friendly staff that seems to anticipate when you need a refill or would like to order. Its home on West Patrick Street is a local landmark.

2nd Place: Sumittra

3rd Place: Lucky Corner


Sushi: Hinode Japanese Restaurant

The restaurants along Carroll Creek Linear Park have seen some disruption in recent years, but Hinode remains a mainstay. Yes, it offers a selection of traditional Japanese cuisine, but its biggest draw is its selection of high-quality, tasty sushi and sashimi offerings, featuring tuna and other seafood delights. Sit at a table or grab a seat at the sushi bar.

2nd Place: China Garden

3rd Place: Taste of Asia


Latin-American: Cacique

It’s not easy to pigeonhole Cacique into one ethnic cuisine, but all of them happen to be winners. Spanish? Sure, it has you covered with its paella and other tasty Mediterranean offerings. Mexican? Yep, it has that, too, with enchiladas, fajitas and much more. You will even find some splashes of South America coming off the famed mesquite grill.

2nd Place: Fajita Grande

3rd Place: La Paz Mexican Restaurant


Seafood: May’s

Think of May’s and most people imagine a summer evening and a pile of steamed Maryland blue crabs, dusted in bay spices. But May’s is very much a year-round restaurant and even when crabs aren’t in season there are many reasons to stop at this eatery that serves up shrimp, scallops, fish and other great seafood.

2nd Place: Dutch’s Daughter

3rd Place: Bonefish Grill


Sunday Brunch: Dutch’s Daughter

It’s impossible to have a discussion about where to go for a Sunday brunch without someone mentioning Dutch’s Daughter within 10 seconds. Go ahead, try it. But there’s good reason the Himes Avenue restaurant is so closely associated with brunch, serving up a winning array of everything from grilled salmon and roasted potatoes to fluffy scrambled eggs and crisp bacon. The elegant surroundings and uber-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: J.B. Seafood


Specialty: Ayse Meze Lounge

When it first arrived on the scene two years ago, Ayse was a bit of a mystery, with its combination of Greek, Turkish and other Mediterranean flavors. There’s really no place like it among local restaurants. But Ayse topples its curiosity charm with an assortment of small, flavorful plates that will dazzle your palate … even if they challenge your pronunciation. Don’t forget to try the Brussels sprouts!

2nd Place: The Orchard

3rd Place: Isabella’s Taverna & Tapas Bar


Deli/Carryout: Crabapples

Crabbapples has been the sandwich and deli stop in Downtown Frederick for more than a generation. For those wanting an authentic cold cut sub, pastrami on rye or other New York-style deli favorite, a stop at the corner of West Patrick and Court streets is a must.

2nd Place: a.k.a Friscos

3rd Place: J.B. Seafood


Sandwich: a.k.a Friscos

We’ve said it before and we will say it again: You know a.k.a. Friscos must have some amazing sandwiches when its location is so far off the beaten path. Tucked away in a business park off New Design Road, Friscos has built a dedicated and loyal following among customers who can’t wait to devour “giant” sandwiches made with the freshest ingredients.

2nd Place: Crabapple’s

3rd Place: Panera Bread


Chicken Wings: Buffalo Wild Wings

Chicken wings go way beyond football season in front of the TV. With the way Buffalo Wild Wings fixes them, you’ll want these wings for a long time after the Super Bowl. Wings come traditional or boneless and you can have a sauce or a dry rub. Our favorite: Asian Zing.

2nd Place: The Canal Bar & Grill

3rd Place: Black Hog BBQ & Bar


Breakfast: Cafe Nola

Breakfast is a peculiar meal, situated far from its cousins lunch and dinner, and those aficionados of the morning feast can find a delicious home at Cafe Nola, whether they are grabbing a cup of Joe and a breakfast sandwich to go or you are staying for a dish of eggs Benedict and enjoying Nola’s outstanding streetscape view of Downtown Frederick.

2nd Place: Family Meal

3rd Place: IHOP


Bagel: Beans & Bagels

Want to start a debate with your friends from New York or New Jersey? Tell them they can get a good bagel in Frederick. When they say that is impossible, take them to Beans & Bagels, where they can have a fresh, tasty bagel and all the schmears to their heart’s content. Fuggedaboutit.

2nd Place: Panera Bread

3rd Place: Zi Pani


Lunch: Madrones

There are many reasons to take a mid-day break at Madrones, located off Md. 26 in the Clemson Corner development, from the $8.99 lunch specials to the homey décor that makes it feel like you are eating a meal in your family room. But the main reason to have lunch at Madrones is the food, with plates like spicy fish tacos, grilled chicken Caesar salad and a turkey Rueben.

2nd Place: The Orchard

3rd Place: Family Meal


Dessert: Madrones

2nd Place: Angelcakes

3rd Place: Family Meal


Worth the Drive: Bavarian Inn

One of the things that makes the Bavarian Inn worth the drive is the trip isn’t that far, just about 45 minutes away in scenic Shepherdstown, W.Va. And if the picturesque Greystone Mansion and scenic views of the Potomac River aren’t enough to convince you, the food will seal the deal. The Bavarian Inn has all your Bavarian favorites, prepared to perfection, as well as seasonal and contemporary dishes, and even wild game.

2nd Place: The Cheesecake Factory

3rd Place: Old South Mountain Inn


Happy Hour: Isabella’s Taverna & Tapas Bar

Good food, good drinks, good people, good times. That what Isabella’s offers to the post-5 p.m. crowd looking to meet for a libation or two after the office closes. The convenient location is also a bonus, for both access and for those who want to continue the party at one of Downtown’s many food and entertainment stops.

2nd Place: Madrones

3rd Place: Wag’s


Pizza: Il Forno Pizzeria

In the decades since the late Ernie Nasher first brought pizza to Frederick, numerous shops and restaurants have dotted the landscape, but the one that readers consistently selected as top choice is il Forno on the Golden Mile with its hand-tossed crust and chunky home-style tomato sauce that’s made fresh daily. A wood-burning oven produces a smoky flavor that’s unbeatable.

2nd Place: Pistarro’s

3rd Place: Coal Fire Pizza


Hamburger: Wag’s

This friendly Downtown basement pub has plenty on its menu, but probably the most requested item is the burger. Juicy and delicious, their burgers can be eaten as is, or topped with everything from mushrooms to bacon or their equally famous chili. Adding another layer to the taste sensation is an order of hand-cut fries.

2nd Place: The Lodge

3rd Place: Five Guys


Overall Barbeque: Black Hog BBQ & Bar

Just as the style of barbecue comes from several locations, including Texas, the Carolinas, St. Louis and Memphis, Black Hog has two more restaurant spots since starting on South Market Street. Loyal customers can also get their fill of the best smoked and sauced meats at Market Square, just off Md. 26 and Urbana Village Center.

2nd Place: Famous Dave’s.

3rd Place: CarterQue BBQ & Grilling Co.


Barbeque Ribs: Black Hog Barbecue & Bar

2nd Place: Famous Dave’s

3rd Place: CarterQue BBQ & Grilling Co.


Chili: Hard Times Café

At Hard Times Café on the Golden Mile, the “hard times” part is trying to decide which kind of chili to order, whether it’s Texas- or Cincinnati-style, with or without beans, vegetarian or spooned over spaghetti, French fries or cornbread. And if you’re feeling like you need to go the light eating route, you can even get chili on a salad.

2nd Place: Wag’s

3rd Place: The Lodge


Burrito: Chipotle Mexican Grill

The delicious factor at Chipotle is made even better with knowing the company is committed to “finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, environment and the farmers.”

2nd Place: La Paz Mexican Restaurant

3rd Place: Fajita Grande


Bakery: Stone Hearth Bakery

Bread is the foundation of any great meal and a visit to Stone Hearth Bakery is like a trip to a culinary construction site. But it’s not just bread that draws customers to this East Street bakery; try the cakes, tarts, cookies and other pastries.

2nd Place: Angelcakes

3rd Place: Cakes To Die For


Overall Bar: Firestone’s Culinary Tavern

Stopping for a pint at Firestone’s is like a trip back to a Prohibition-era speakeasy, with its ornate bar, tin roof and exposed brick walls. The ambiance is perfectly complimented by a wide variety of beer, wine and spirits, making it the perfect Downtown pub for both meeting old friends and making new ones.

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


Sports Bar: Champion Billiards Sports Cafe

There’s no time for subtle nuance when it comes to sports bars and everything about Champion’s is big, loud and perfect for watching a game. With so many giant projection TV screens playing at the same time, you are sure to find your team. And if they aren’t on, just ask your waitress and she will take care of that.

2nd Place: Buffalo Wild Wings

3rd Place: Glory Days Grill


Dance Club/Bar: Champion Billiards Sports Cafe

2nd Place: Olives

3rd Place: Cafe Nola


Billiards: Champion Billiards Sports Cafe

2nd Place: Hard Times Cafe and Cue

3rd Place: Belles’ Sports Bar & Grill


Local Beer: Flying Dog Brewery

Flying Dog Brewery has never been one to rest on its laurels, whether it’s crafting new and intriguing brews or expanding its place in the market. The local brewery with a national presence is still pure Frederick whether it’s available at your favorite bar, on the shelf of your regular liquor store or being served at a charity event or concert.

2nd Place: Brewer’s Alley

3rd Place: Barley and Hops


Local Wine: Linganore Winecellars

A perennial favorite among readers, Linganore Winecellars continues to create a tasteful salute to the grape, whether you’re a fan of red or white. With a beautiful location in the country near Mount Airy, it’s the perfect spot to go for a wine-tasting and guided winery tours or one of their many popular music festivals. They also offer lessons on food and wine pairings.

2nd Place: Black Ankle Vineyards

3rd Place: Elk Run Vineyards


Liquor Store: Ye Old Spirit Shop

The great selection of wine, beer and spirits filling the aisles of the shop on Seventh Street that has been family owned and operated since 1960 is just part of what makes this an excellent business to patronize. Another is the friendly, helpful staff that has the answers whether you need advice on a wine selection or figuring how much beer to buy for a neighborhood cookout.

2nd Place: Riverside Liquors

3rd Place: Old Farm Liquors


Coffeehouse: Dublin Roasters

At Dublin Roasters, located on North Market Street extended, the staff’s mantra is that they “hand-roast every bean for the perfect flavor.” Featured in The New York Times, the coffee shop is also a friendly gathering place whether it’s a group of stay-at-home moms, a book club or someone sitting alone tapping on a lap-top computer, a steaming mug of coffee at the ready.

2nd Place: Frederick Coffee Co.

3rd Place: Cafe Nola


Ice Cream/Frozen Treat: Rita’s

One of the most populated corners in Frederick when the warmer months roll around is West South Street at West Patrick Street when the lines start forming at Rita’s. Once again readers have selected the Italian ice business as worth running the risk of getting brain freeze. From the fruity ice to the creamy gelato, it’s perfection.

2nd Place: sweetFrog

3rd Place: Bruster’s


Chocolate: The Perfect Truffle

There’s a reason that happiness is often described as being “like a kid in a candy shop” and that’s exactly the feeling for customers savoring The Perfect Truffle, located in Everedy Square and once again the top readers’ choice. But the sophisticated combination of flavors is more adult than kid, so save these truffles for yourself.

2nd Place: Zoe’s Chocolate Co.

3rd Place: Candy Kitchen


Caterer: Canapés

Chef ML Carroll, owner of Canapés Catering, recently was crowned Valley Chef Showdown Champion at a competition in Martinsburg, W.Va., proving yet again that readers know what they’re talking about when selecting Canapés as top caterer each year. Delicious and innovative food is the hallmark of this company, along with its focus on giving back to the community.

2nd Place: J.B. Seafood

3rd Place: The Savory Spoon


Reception Venue: Ceresville Mansion

This historic 1888 mansion, a full 9,000 square feet, has become synonymous with wedding ceremonies and receptions, business events, fundraising galas, private parties and more. It’s hard to beat when it comes to atmosphere, located on 25 riverside acres with gorgeous mountain views, and the mansion’s signature ballroom can seat up to 200 guests.

2nd Place: Walker’s Overlook

3rd Place: The Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center


Charitable/Social Event: An Evening on the Riviera

Over the years, An Evening on the Riviera has built a brand as one of the premier events on the local social calendar—a dazzling fall fete that features wine, food, a silent auction, dancing, music and other entertainment. Even better, the event raises thousands each year for worthy local charities.

2nd Place: Kidstock

3rd Place: Catoctin Affair


Festival/Event: In The Street

If we had a category of “Most Often Mispronounced Event,” In The Street would surely win, since most people insist on calling it In The Streets (leaving us wondering why organizers just don’t add the extra S). But name aside, this September street festival seems to grow every year, attracting locals and tourists to eat amazing food from street vendors, hear blocks of musicians and take in other entertainment.

2nd Place: The Great Frederick Fair

3rd Place: Frederick Oktoberfest


Best Entertainment Value: Weinberg Center for the Arts

If the walls of this theater could talk there would be plenty to say about its days as a movie house, the way it came back even stronger after a devastating flood Downtown, and the role it plays today as a venue for national and even international entertainers, as well as a place where local talent can be showcased in the stage lights. It is a treasure well-loved by the community.

2nd Place: Holiday Cinemas

3rd Place: Maryland Ensemble Theatre


Theater Troupe/Group: Maryland Ensemble Theatre

Nearing almost two decades of entertaining audiences, the Maryland Ensemble Theatre took another step forward with the recent addition of second stage (see page 32). Its main stage season features roughly 100 performances a year, a full season of family theater and more than 20 performances by The Comedy Pigs, among many other programs.

2nd Place: Way Off Broadway

3rd Place: Performing Arts Factory


Art Gallery: The Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center

The Delaplaine is a standout on the evolving Carroll Creek Linear Park. The center is situated in a restored mill building that retains characteristics of its past. It boasts several galleries with revolving displays of paintings, photographs, sculpture and other art forms. Community events often are held at the Delaplaine, as well as a variety of art classes.

2nd Place: Griffin Art Center

3rd Place: Blue Elephant Art Center


Museum: National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Even those who think they know all there is to know about the Civil War will be enthralled by the displays and information gleaned from a visit to this museum. It’s the perfect place to take out-of-town guests and kids who spend way too much time tethered to electronic devices. Just tell them about the resident ghosts and they’ll forget video games.

2nd Place: The Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center

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


Blog: Housewives of Frederick County

Run by twin sisters whose motto is “keepin’ it real,” this blog is favorite among moms, wives and even some dads (don’t worry, we won’t tell). Content includes restaurant reviews, entertainment ideas, household tips and more. Newcomers to the area might especially enjoy the “Discover Frederick!” page that includes information about local sites of interest.

2nd Place: aMusing Foodie

3rd Place: Must Love Shoes


Radio Station: 99.9 WFRE-FM

You either like country music or you don’t, and if you fall into that first category, “free country” 99.9 is the place for you. Here you can listen to a buffet of country selections, from contemporary stars like Taylor Swift and Darius Rucker to more classic Nashville sounds your dad enjoyed.

2nd Place: Key 103 (WAFY-FM)

3rd Place: 106.9 The Eagle (WWEG-FM)


Band: Vinyl Rhino

Want to put cover band Vinyl Rhino into one category? Good luck, because this group will play music from across the spectrum—pop, dance, rock, rap, even country. They are just as likely to play Miley Cyrus and Bruno Mars as they are to cover Lady Antebellum and Rage Against the Machine.

2nd Place: New Romance

3rd Place: The Reagan Years Radio


Personality: Bob Miller

The “Morning Mayor” has been a favorite among listeners (and readers of Frederick Magazine) for many years. Tune in to WFMD on weekday mornings to hear the “Morning News Express,” loaded with news, commentary, interviews and Miller’s distinct views on local and national issues.

2nd Place: Jenna Lee

3rd Place: Dave Conrad


High School Marching Band: Linganore High School

The Linganore High School Lancer Marching Band boasts enough awards and honors to fill several trophy cases, including the USBands’ Maryland State Championship in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2013. They have also delighted audiences from the streets of New York City to Main Street USA in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

2nd Place: Urbana High School

3rd Place: Middletown High School


High School Sports Team: Middletown High School

Repeat winners from last year, Middletown High School’s sports program gets it done on and off the field, with several good-to-dominant teams and a strong booster base that boasts one of the best concession stands in the county.

2nd Place: Urbana High School

3rd Place: Linganore High School


Swimming Pool: William R. Diggs Memorial Swimming Pool

When the weather’s hot and sticky, a favorite spot for Fredericktonians to visit is the Diggs Pool on West All Saints Street. Smaller than Baker Park’s pool, it nonetheless has many of the same amenities including a slide, concession stand, tumble buckets that shower kids and adults alike with cooling water, plus other water park features.

2nd Place: YMCA of Frederick County

3rd Place: Edward P. Thomas Jr. Memorial Swimming Pool (Baker Park)


Park: Baker Park

Bless the city officials who had the foresight decades ago to set aside 44 acres in the midst of Frederick’s hustle and bustle for a park that is used and appreciated by all ages, all year long, not just during the picnic, concert and Frisbee-throwing months. Friends of Baker Park are in the midst of some park improvements, notably in the Culler Lake area.

2nd Place: Cunningham Falls State Park

3rd Place: Ballenger Creek Park

Hiking Trail: Cunningham Falls State Park

Frederick County has no shortage of outstanding destinations for those wanting to take a hike, but Cunningham Falls sets itself apart with breathtaking scenery and nine trails of varying terrain, grade and distance that wind through the park.

2nd Place: Gambrill State Park

3rd Place: Sugarloaf Mountain


Golf Course: Clustered Spires Golf Club

A perennial favorite among readers, the city-owned golf course always turns in a great scorecard because of its value amid higher priced privately owned links. The course itself is also a big draw, convenient to Downtown Frederick and set in a picturesque setting that is wrapped by the Monocacy River.

2nd Place: Musket Ridge Golf Club

3rd Place: Whiskey Creek Golf Club


More Cool Finds

Auto Repair: Carriage House Automotive

This second-generation, family-owned and -operated business has been servicing the cars and light trucks of local residents since 1978, specializing in Japanese and European models in addition to the domestic variety. The business is known for its fair prices and impeccable service, investing in the equipment and training necessary to keep people motoring.

2nd Place: Spectra Auto Services

3rd Place: 40 West Auto Care & Towing


Car Wash: Fredericktowne Auto Spa

Few things are 100 percent certain, but the folks at Fredericktowne Auto Spa, a full-service car wash and detailing center, have a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee as their policy. They take pride in getting your vehicle gleaming in a timely manner. Let the washing, waxing and dashboard dusting to these experts.

2nd Place: Rosemont Car Wash

3rd Place: Samuda Detailing


Hair Salon: Thomas Scott Salon & Spa

The salon that has the motto of being the place where “health and beauty go hand in hand” just celebrated 30 years of being in Frederick and once again has been declared “Best of Frederick.” In addition to the pampering it gives to clients, the salon has also been heavily involved in helping community organizations and causes.

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

3rd Place: Sam Wong Salon


Day Spa: Thomas Scott Salon & Spa

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

3rd Place: NUVO Salon & Spa


Nail Care Salon: New York, New York Salon and Day Spa

Cooks always say that the best kitchen tool is your hands. True, and there’s so much more that you demand of hands, so why not treat them to a pampering manicure at New York, New York, a favorite of readers every year? Technicians are highly trained and there is a vast array of nail colors. While visiting, a pedicure for your equally hard-working tootsies is also in order.

2nd Place: Rose Nails

3rd Place: Thomas Scott Salon & Spa


Barber Shop: All About Men Barbershop

Located at 1700 Kingfisher Drive, All About Men is exactly that with six 42-inch television screens situated throughout the shop so that ESPN and other favored stations can be watched. There’s even Xbox for patrons to play from the barber chair. Complimentary drinks and a coffee bar also add to the experience of getting a haircut or shave from a highly talented staff.

2nd Place: Gentlemen’s Choice

3rd Place: WT Mills Stylist


Dry Cleaners: ZIPS Dry Cleaners

Life has few guarantees, but one exception is the assurance that no matter if it’s a sweater, coat or pair of slacks, it will cost just $1.99 to get each of them dry-cleaned at ZIPS Dry Cleaners on the Golden Mile. Through the week the shop conveniently opens at 7 a.m. so you can stop on the way to work, and on Saturdays the door opens at 8 a.m.

2nd Place: Prospect Cleaners

3rd Place: Town Cleaners


Carpentry/Home Improvement: Talon Construction

Has binge-watching the HGTV network gotten you thinking about making some improvements or additions to your house? Perhaps an in-law suite is now in order or it’s time to finally renovate the kitchen so that meal prep is easier. When it’s time to make your home sweeter, Talon Construction, with its reputation for excellent service, should be your first call.

2nd Place: FKB Design Build

3rd Place: Anthony Owens Remodeling


Men’s Fashion: Citizen Frederick

In business just a year in the Emporium Antiques building at 112 E. Patrick St., Citizen Frederick is already making quite a name for itself as the place for the latest fashions and accessories for the well-dressed gentleman. As much as possible, the owners stock American-made goods and are hoping to promote local crafters and designers.

2nd Place: Men’s Wearhouse

3rd Place: Kohl’s


Women’s Fashion: Velvet Lounge

Not only is the Velvet Lounge the place for fun, funky and functional clothing, the staff is also friendly and knowledgeable at making sure customers are happy with the look they’ve put together. Adding to the store’s positive vibe is how the owner is active in the community, lending clothes for numerous benefit fashion shows through the years.

2nd Place: Aspire

3rd Place: Macy’s


Women’s Shoes: DSW

From splashy heels to take you on the town in style to classic pumps that transport you to the office, or boots that get you through winter, DSW has just what you need. Located in the Francis Scott Key Mall, DSW has countless racks of footwear, including a section of clearance styles so you needn’t feel guilty about buying more than one pair.

2nd Place: Boscov’s

3rd Place: Off Broadway Shoes


Fine Jewelry: Colonial Jewelers

Classified as a Frederick tradition, Colonial Jewelers continues to be a “best of” selection by readers. Situated on the corner of West Patrick and South Market streets, the store is in a former bank and is staffed by a friendly, helpful staff, making this the go-to jeweler for engagement rings, retirement watches or pearls for Mother’s Day.

2nd Place: Gold Thumb Jewelry Creations

3rd Place: Kay’s


Antiques: Emporium Antiques

From mid-century modern with its polished chrome to the elegance of carved wooden furniture from the 1800s, Emporium Antiques is the place to go for unique furnishings. Located in a sprawling building with entrances on East Patrick and South Carroll streets, the space is filled with a variety of vendors with booths filled with nostalgic and one-of-a-kind items. Be prepared to spend some time looking and envisioning how these pieces will look in your home.

2nd Place: Echo Consignments

3rd Place: Great Stuff by Paul


Home Furnishings: HomeGoods

The chain recently opened a store in the Worman’s Mill area and delighted customers are discovering what the business calls “HomeGoods Happy—the feeling of finding something spectacular at a price that’s equally so.” Savvy shoppers of every style enjoy the ever-changing selection of home furnishings from around the world.

2nd Place: Gladhill Furniture

3rd Place: Wolf’s Furniture


Bookstore: Barnes & Noble

Still need to make a New Year’s resolution? How about promising to read more “real” books this year—you know, the kind where can actually flip through pages and bookmark your place. If that’s the case, Barnes & Noble in the Francis Scott Key Mall is the place to visit.

2nd Place: Curious Iguana

3rd Place: Wonder Book and Video


Gift/Specialty Shop: Home Essentials of Frederick

This shop at 38 E. Patrick St. is the dream of two sisters to open a store together and share their love of home accessories. Opening in 2008, it’s a magnet for local folks as well as visitors to Frederick. The store contains high-quality, unique products and the owners strive for U.S.-made products. They also support many local charities and organizations.

2nd Place: The Muse

3rd Place: TLC Bridal Boutique


Grocery Store: Wegmans

When cooks gather and share recipes that include unfamiliar ingredients, invariably you will hear that you can get the unique items at Wegmans. Whether you have special dietary needs or seek something deliciously exotic, this is the store that has it all, including a café where you don’t need to bother with exchanging recipes.

2nd Place: Giant Eagle

3rd Place: Giant Food


Farmer’s Market: West Frederick Farmer’s Market

The West Frederick Market moved last year to 800 Oak St. in the parking lot of UnitedHealthcare, providing an even better location for local farmers and their customers to make deals on everything from just-picked juicy strawberries to crunchy kale and snappy green beans. The “eat local” movement has caught on, especially with the presence of this market.

2nd Place: Middletown Farmer’s Market

3rd Place: Hometown Harvest


Garden Center: The Dutch Plant Farm

From rows upon rows of perennial and annual flowers, to vegetable plants and decorative pieces for your yard, The Dutch Plant Farm is the one-stop place for all your gardening needs and wants. There is such a feeling of optimism in the air as you picture a seedling blossoming into a show-stopping part of your landscape.

2nd Place: Lowe’s

3rd Place: Thanksgiving Farms


Florist: En Masse

The flower markets that dot European city streets have nothing on the buckets of blossoms and blooms on the sidewalk outside the door of this North Market Street shop during the warmer months. Not only is this the place to buy both familiar and exotic flowers, the staff will even give arrangement advice.

2nd Place: Abloom

3rd Place: Flower Fashions


Landscaping: Clearwater Landscape & Nursery

So is the yard looking a little less than spectacular these days? The Ijamsville-based Clearwater Landscape & Nursery will help you turn your outdoor nightmare into the yard of your dreams. 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: Hawkins Landscaping

3rd Place: Poole’s Stone & Garden


Heating/Air Conditioning: Holtzople Heating & Air Conditioning

The time to get your heating system checked is not when it goes kaput in the midst of the next polar vortex. So call the friendly, helpful pros at Holztople today to check your system before problems erupt at the worst possible moment.

2nd Place: Tri-State Home Services

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


Electrician: Provident Electric

Though only 13 years old, Provident has built a reputation for providing courteous, efficient and dependable electrical contract services in the Frederick area and beyond. Part of the popularity might be Provident Electric’s philanthropic efforts in the local community.

2nd Place: Tri-State Home Services

3rd Place: Brandenburg


Plumbing: Tri-State Home Services

There are few times when you “like” calling a plumber, but when you do you want the job done right, and Tri-State Home Services gets the job done with three generations of employees on staff who can tackle everything from the drippy faucet to burst pipe.

2nd Place: Castaway Plumbing

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


Computer Tech/Repair: Clark Computer Service

Given how important technology is to our lives, computer problems aren’t merely inconvenient; they can affect our lives and livelihoods. Clark Computer Service offers a wide range of computer and IT services, from fixing a one-time problem to managing entire IT systems.

2nd Place: Computer Enhancement Systems

3rd Place: Geek Squad


Pet Store: PetSmart

Our pets provide us with such love and companionship that it’s only right that we return the favor by providing them with the best food, toys and treats—all to be found at PetSmart. The everyday needs of our pets, the litter boxes, leashes, nail clippers and other grooming tools can also be found among the aisles.

2nd Place: Two Paws Up

3rd Place: PetCo


Comic Book Store: Brainstorm Comics & Gaming

In business since 1984, Downtown’s Brainstorm Comics and Gaming is locally owned and operated and is open seven days a week to serve the wishes of comic book fans. Even with the large volume and selection of comics and games, if you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask and the staff will try and make it happen.

2nd Place: Beyond Comics

3rd Place: Wonder Book & Video


Tattoo Parlor: Classic Electric Tattoo

Even your mother is getting a tattoo these days, so when Mom needs some ink done, take her to Classic Electric Tattoo, where artists can custom-craft creations that will suit any taste. They can also “fix” a previous tattoo, in case Mom had a bad experience with previous work.

2nd Place: Black Label Tattoo

3rd Place: Marks of the Spark Tattoos


Car Dealer: Shockley Honda

It’s easy to remember the address for Shockley Honda—7400 Shockley Drive. The dealership offers a huge selection of new and used vehicles as well as service and parts. It has been said by many of the satisfied customers that the friendly, get-to-the-point sales staff “gives car salesmen a great name.”

2nd Place: Fitzgerald Auto Mall

3rd Place: DARCARS


Fitness Center: Achieve Fitness Studio

Located in the Patrick East Business Center at 97 Monocacy Blvd., Achieve Fitness bills itself as “a private personal training studio that focuses on improving quality of life and learning to live a healthier lifestyle.” The studio offers private and group personal training sessions for all ages and fitness levels.

2nd Place: Frederick Indoor Sports Center

3rd Place: Soldierfit


Personal Trainer: Rick Davis

Achieve Personal Fitness Studio founder Rick Davis’ career in personal training began in 1991 during his undergraduate studies at Wake Forest University. His diverse clientele ranges from ages 8 to 85 and includes both healthy individuals as well as those requiring customized programs due to orthopedic limitations, heart disease, stroke, pregnancy, diabetes and other limitations.

2nd Place: Kip Jawish

3rd Place: Soldierfit


Hotel: Marriott

Plamondon Hospitality Partners’ four Marriott properties in Frederick (Fairfield Inn & Suites, Courtyard, Residence Inn, and TownPlace Suites) might make this seem like the obvious choice in this category. But Plamondon backs up its size with friendly service and outstanding amenities, like indoor pools and even Starbucks coffee in its Courtyard hotel.

2nd Place: Hampton Inn

3rd Place: Hilton Garden Inn


Doctor: Frederick Primary Care Associates

The first thing that strikes you about Frederick Primary Care Associates is how convenient they are, offering nine different locations in the county. Another pleasant amenity for the busy family is their offering of extended weekday and weekend hours, so you don’t need to miss work or school to go to the doctor.

2nd Place: Dr. Martha Pierce

3rd Place: Dr. Amir Rashidian


Dentist: Dr. Mark Pitts

The term “oral surgeon” is right up there with “IRS audit” on the anxiety meter for many people, but Dr. Mark Pitts of Maryland Oral Surgery Association has built a reputation ensuring comfort and highest standard of care in his practice. Dr. Pitts believes “each patient should be treated with respect and kindness by me and all of my office staff, and receive only the best treatment possible.”

2nd Place: Dr. Johnna Britt

3rd Place: Premier Dental Arts


Lawyer: Scott Rolle

Scott Rolle was still a practicing attorney when the “Best of Frederick” poll was conducted last fall. Then something funny happened to the former State’s Attorney (and participant in the History Channel program Brad Meltzer’s Decoded): He was elected judge to the Frederick County Circuit Court bench.

2nd Place: Blaine Hoffman

3rd Place: Tara Shoemaker


Financial Planning: Edward Jones

National names like Edward Jones often have a tough time cracking the “Best of Frederick” list because our readers tend to lean toward local, familiar names. But this firm, with 12,000 financial advisors in more than 11,000 offices around the country, promotes its “community-based, neighborhood locations … [that] make us accessible and approachable.”

2nd Place: McCaskill Financial

3rd Place: Murray Financial Group


Veterinary: Buckeystown Veterinary Hospital

A perennial favorite among Frederick Magazine readers, Buckeystown Veterinary Hospital offers care for a wide variety of animals, from the family pet to farm animals. For pets, Buckeystown offers a “veterinary rehabilitation program” designed to increase the health, comfort, and quality of life. You can even get acupuncture for your pooch!

2nd Place: CARE Veterinary Center

3rd Place: Yellow Springs Veterinary Clinic


Neighborhood: Downtown Frederick

Nearly everyone, from retirees wanting to downsize from suburban homes or twentysomethings wanting to be able to walk home after a few beers at the pub down the street, desires to live Downtown. Many former big-city dwellers, now calling Frederick home, say they are impressed with the small-town feel combined with amenities usually limited to larger metro areas.

2nd Place: Lake Linganore

3rd Place: Spring Ridge


Pet Friendly Venue: Baker Park

Frederick has always boasted its pet-friendly charm, with Downtown merchants leaving out bowls of water for thirsty dogs to the pet fountain on Carroll Creek Linear Park. But if you want true pet nirvana, head over to the wide open spaces of Baker Park, where a dog can stretch his legs and even make a furry friend or two.

2nd Place: Downtown Frederick

3rd Place: La Paz


Best “I Wish Frederick had …”: Trader Joes

Last year the winner in this category was Sonic, the drive-in fast food place, and lo and behold, one opened up shop here. Maybe the same thing will happen with the desire for a Trader Joes, a neighborhood-type supermarket that harkens back to the days before mega grocery stores where you need a map to find your way around. There’s even a spot for it on North Market Street.

2nd Place: The Cheesecake Factory

3rd Place: Old Navy


Best “I Wish Frederick would Bring Back…”: Freeze King

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream, more specifically the icon of days gone by, Freeze King, a place where you visited with friends and strangers alike while waiting in line for a cone or root beer float. It was also the place for burgers and fries, served up by teenagers working a summer job.

2nd Place: The Limited

3rd Place: A roller rink