Best of Ashland 2012

Topped off by the cracked beam at the Angus Bowmer Theatre, which rallied the entire community around the Shakespeare Festival.

The City Council didn’t do anything too crazy last year, which is momentous in itself. They thought about turning North Main into a 2-lane street, and they thought about easing up on the restrictions for cell phone towers, but in the end cooler heads prevailed.

The Council also accepted some proposals by the Committee on Homelessness, although they balked at providing free showers at the Grove. The latter, by the way, was pinpointed by the police department as a possible site for expansion, but after catching a lot of flak from the public, the Council also backed off on that proposal.

They didn’t, however, back down from opponents to the Mt. Ashland expansion, as they voted last year to give the special use permit to the Mountain and extricate themselves from all decisions (and liabilities) in the future with respect to Mt. Ashland.

We also did cover stories on noisy helicopters at the airport, the Sunshine Bucy trial, and the big oil companies giving Ana Delfosse the boot at A-Tech 76.
On a somber note, a young man was killed on the bike path on November 19. I was in Corvallis for Dad’s Weekend, but the site where David Grubbs was killed is part of my running route. I run by there at least four or five times a week, usually at that time of night. Scary stuff.

All in all, a fairly exciting year. No earthquakes or tsunamis … just your run-of-the-mill craziness in Ashland. Which is why I want everyone to relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy this 22nd running of the “Best of Ashland.”

We received 401 ballots this year, and we want to thank everyone for taking the time fill them out. Granted, this type of survey is not totally accurate and is subject to a certain amount of ballot stuffing, but all of that is taken into consideration by our team of professional ballot counters.

The results are as close to reality as we can get in an imperfect world, and they also achieve an important goal—recognizing and naming as many individuals, businesses and organizations in the community as we can. And that’s a good thing.

But enough of the rhetoric and on with the show … the 2012 “Best of Ashland.”


We asked the question, “Favorite Movie Ever,” figuring this would give us an insight into the minds of our readers. The results were all over the board and we didn’t even start writing them down until they notched two mentions. The top seven were: Gone with the Wind, Star Wars, Wizard of Oz, Princess Bride, The Notebook, Lord of the Rings, and Avatar. It’s a very well-rounded group of respondents that we have here.



Marconi didn’t know the can of worms he was opening when he postulated the possibility of sending signals by radio telegraphy. Little could he know that the invention would make millions of dollars for professional haranguers like Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh.
Here in Ashland, we keep our haranguing on the radio to a minimum, which is why our readers once again gave their overwhelming voice of approval to Jefferson Public Radio, which ran away with this category.
Other favorites included:

  • KBOY.
  • Kool 103.
  • 102.7 “The Drive.”
  • KROG.
  • Lite 102.
  • KISS-FM.
  • KZZE.
  • KSKQ.


There’s a conspiracy theory going around that when the aliens landed at Roswell, N.M., in 1947, they inserted their brains into radio disc jockeys around the world, spreading their message of rock ‘n’ roll, which was invented on their home planet. More on this theory later.
One deejay able to thwart the advances of the alien takeover was JPR’s Geoff Riley, who is the permanent host of “The Jefferson Exchange,” JPR’s weekday public affairs program. Geoff spent 24 years at KDRV-TV, where he performed a variety of news and production assignments. He’s been hosting the Exchange since December 2009.
Other deejay stalwarts featured were:

  • Delilah of Lite 102
  • Eric Teel of JPR.
  • Gemineye of KISS-FM.
  • Don Matthews of JPR.


Okay, how many people saw me interviewed on Channel 10 while spending a day at Grants Pass Downs in June? The reporter even zoomed in on my stat sheet, where it showed me winning $1.75 for the day. Last of the big-time spenders, I’ll tell ya.
Once again this category was a runaway as NewsWatch 12 (KDRV) continued to impress viewers with their coverage of the news.
KOBI/Channel 5 and KTVL (Channel 10) also received their fair share of votes.


There’s more to the world than death, mayhem and political machinations at City Hall, and every now and then the newscasters will surprise us with a heart-warming story of local interest. When it comes to presenting the news, our readers named many of the local anchors, including this year’s winner, Trish Glose of Channel 10.
Also high in the ranking were:

  • Brian Morton of KDRV.
  • Ron Brown of KDRV.
  • Dan Joseph of KOBI.
  • Ashley Hall of KDRV.


He writes a weekly column commenting on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the national political and cultural scene, and Chris Honoré was honored by our readers as their favorite.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • News reporter Vickie Aldous.
  • Freelancer John Darling.
  • Sports editor Joe Zavala.
  • Education reporter Hannah Guzik.
  • Reporter Chris Conrad.


To all those who said, “all of it,” we thank you profusely, but we were hoping to break this thing down a little bit. While “The Best of Ashland” held the home field advantage and garnered many votes, we were looking at the other 95% of the paper. Winning the most support again was The Profile, featuring a light-hearted interview with local personalities.
Other favorites include:

  • Letters (and the editor’s responses).
  • The Calendar of Events.
  • The cover stories.
  • All of the ads.
  • Business Grapevine.
  • News Briefs.



Anyone who opens a new business in this economy is a true hero and an eternal optimist. But seriously, the only reason we’re in this economic mess is that we all got a little greedy back during the housing bubble, and the house of cards came tumbling down. We just got to hang in there and support each other.
Anyway, winning this category for 2012 was Papaya! Living, a store on the Plaza featuring artwork, accessories, fine textiles, apparel, collectible jewelry and more.
Coming in a close second was Ashland Envy at 60 E. Main, offering a “line of clothing that represents the unique character of Ashland.”
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Love Revolution at 111 E. Main (downstairs),
  • Bump, a maternity/kids’ clothing store at 180 Lithia Way, #102.
  • Nature’s Pet Market in the Albertson’s Shopping Center, offering quality products for all your pets.
  • Also mentioned were the new improved Renaissance Rose and Hanson Howard Gallery, along with the following restaurants:
  • Ruby’s (163 N. Pioneer).
  • Larry’s Cupcakes (66 N. Pioneer).
  • The Red Zone (corner E. Main and 2nd).
  • Playwright Public House (258 A Street).


This was an interesting category, as Ashland is home to an extraordinary number of businesspeople who devote themselves to the betterment of this community. One of those is Paddington Station’s Pam Hammond, who currently serves as President of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce.
Others included were:

  • Alan DeBoer of TC Chevy.
  • Jim Teece of Scarab Media.
  • Chuck Butler of Butler Ford/Acura.
  • Alex Amarotico of Standing Stone.
  • Denise Baxter of the Ashland Art Center.


Your time in high school only lasts four years but for many it’s a defining moment in their career as a human being. Why else would high school reunions be so popular?
By definition, we all probably exhibited a certain amount of adolescent behavior at that time, and we should thank our teachers for putting up with us. At AHS, that list would include Bill Gabriel, who not only guides students through the Herculean task of publishing the school newspaper, but also teaches Global Studies, Journalism, Advanced Placement World History and “History through Film.”
Also high on the list were:

  • Caroline Spear, Catalyst/English.
  • Tammy Anderson, Math.
  • Rick Cornelius, English/Social Studies.
  • Tim Cate, English/Social Studies.
  • Betsy Bishop, Drama.
  • Karen Berman, Foods/Academic Advisor.
  • John Weston, Woodworking.
  • Karen Green, Foods/Yearbook.


When the latest natural disaster hits (a plague of locusts, a 9.2 earthquake, etc.), everyone else in school is allowed to go crazy, bemoaning their fate and generally acting like a human. The principal, however, has got to keep it together and be totally in charge, instilling confidence, directing traffic, and laying down the rules.
Who to turn to when disaster strikes? Our readers most often mentioned Michelle Zundel, principal at Ashland High School, followed by:

  • Christine McCollom, Bellview Elementary.
  • Steve Retzlaff of the Middle Schoool.
  • Adrian Garcia at Helman.


The Second Law of Thermodynamics basically says that everything tends toward disorder. For example, if you didn’t politely suggest to your children that they should keep their rooms clean, it would look like seven miles of bad roads in West Virginia by the end of the week. The same goes with classrooms and school hallways, and we have the janitors to thank for keeping everything sane.
Taking down top honors in this category was Connie Rainwater of Bellview Elementary.
Also mentioned was Dennis McCartney at the High School.


In 2006, an article in the New York Times listed SOU as a “hidden gem,” one of forty oft-overlooked but worthy campuses that give outstanding value for the money. On top of the exceptional English and liberal arts curriculum, they wrote that “Ashland is hundreds of miles from a big city, but the Festival and university seem to thrive thanks to mountainous surroundings that attract tourists and faculty.”
And when it comes to dedicated faculty, our readers named quite a few, including this year’s winner Evan Douthit of the History Department.
Others landing near the top were:

  • Jean Maxwell, Anthropology.
  • Dan Morris, French.
  • Mary Russell-Miller, Psychology.
  • John Gutrich, Environmental Studies.
  • Robert Harrison, History.


The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers intellectually stimulating classes and social functions for older adults for an annual low membership fee of $100. Volunteer instructors, most often OLLI members, share their expertise and passions in courses ranging from art and film to politics, science and technology.
Quite a few instructors were named in this category. Landing at the top was Wolf Hoppe, who taught a class on the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Bert Witt for a class on the Inuit (Eskimos).
  • Brooke Friendly on “English Country Dance.”
  • Louise Pare for “Women in the Global Community.”
  • Ray Embry for his classes on novels.


Every year we receive photos with this survey, and I have family members go through and vote on the cutest. This year, we actually had two family members who had babies, so this category ended in a runaway tie between Sawyer Marks and Lily Rose Hayden. The “kissing cousins” are featured on the front page of this issue.


They greet you in the mirror every morning with a beautiful smile, and three times a day they take complete responsibility for making sure your food is properly chewed. So, hey, show ‘em a little respect and visit your dentist.
All of the local dentists were mentioned by our readers at least once in this category, with the final nod going to Eugene Robbins and Mehdi Ghavam.
The balloting was close for the Top Five, and they included:

  • Jared Anderson.
  • Dan Jackson.
  • Brandt Cullen.
  • Others mentioned a lot were:
  • Zahra Tahvili.
  • Pete Schwarzer.
  • Gary MacGraw.
  • Mike Henneman.
  • Dan Marut.


You could have all the money in the world, live in a beautiful mansion, own expensive cars, and have your own private golf course in the backyard, but if you ain’t feeling well, it’s all for naught. You might as well be holed up in a compound in Pakistan, hiding from Navy Seals.
Visiting your family doctor and learning how to stay healthy is extremely important. Thirty-one different doctors were mentioned by our readers, with number one going to Richard Morris of Southern Oregon Family Practice. Dr. Morris a family practitioner who graduated with an MD 34 years ago from the Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine.
Others high on the list were:

  • Jani Rollins.
  • John Delgado.
  • Craig Mather.
  • Sylvia Chatroux.
  • Leslie Stone.
  • Michael Stone.
  • Andy Kuzmitz
  • Howard Morningstar.
  • Karin Kuhl.


Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners actually provide a large portion of health care in this area. They are board certified health care professionals with advanced medical education and surgical training. In fact, most doctors in Ashland have an NP or a PA-C in the practice.
Our readers were able to name quite a few NPs in this survey, and the top three ended in a tie between Kathryn Stringer (Jani Rollins’ office); Patti Frires (Delgado Family Care) and Marianna Cooper (Dr. Stone’s office).
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Shannon Rio.
  • Carolyn Self.
  • Bunny Lewis.
  • Mary Beth Burton.


Surgery and a lifelong addiction to pharmaceutical drugs are not always the best solutions to perfect health. Sometimes it just comes down to nutrition and lifestyle, with an emphasis on preventive medicine. And when our readers want to learn more about alternative medicine, they most often mentioned naturopathic doctor Geoff Houghton and acupuncturist Jenn Collins.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Suzanne Sky, acupuncturist.
  • Mark Abelle, acupuncturist.
  • Marc Heller, chiropractor.
  • Linda Herrick, naturopathic doctor.
  • Ken Bendat, acupuncturist.
  • Jordan Weeda, chiropractor.
  • Bonnie Nedrow, naturopathic doctor.


You just spent the entire afternoon helping your buddy Sisyphus try to roll an immense boulder up a hill, and the damn thing kept rolling back just as you got to the top. Being a former king, he tried to blame it all on you. By the end of the day, every muscle in your body ached, and the only cure was a visit to your favorite massage therapist.
Our readers were able to name quite a few, including the number one choice, Leinani Lundahl, followed by:

  • Jode Dawson.
  • Lily Baty of Sunshine Salon.
  • Judith Sanford.
  • Kimberly Hall of Hidden Springs.
  • Eden McCarthy.
  • Philip Whitmore of Siskiyou Massage.
  • Jane Chandler.


Out of the blue, Hollywood called and asked you to emcee the Oscar awards next year, and you’re already freaking out about your hairdo. Forget the fact that millions of people, not to mention George Clooney, will be listening to your introductions and one-liners … what’s most important is that you look good.
Where to go when the Academy calls for you? In this popular category, 36 different hair stylists were named, so the competition was tough. It also turned out to be extremely close, so the award goes to the Top Three: Susan Zastoupil of Be Cherished; Ann-Britt Malden of Renu; and Lisa Caplinger of The Mane Attraction.
The Top Ten featured:

  • Betty Camner of Strands.
  • Daryl & Katie Yasui of dKor.
  • Leon Danielle.
  • Lois Jorgenson of Loose Ends.
  • Mona Bernard of Hair City.
  • Napili Gaston of Salon Isabella.
  • Linda Hood of Abbinito.


In this helter skelter world of tsunamis, Navy Seal attacks, phone hacking in Britain, and bad reality TV shows, you need a little pampering. Nothing says it quite like a facial, where you just lie back and have your face transformed amid a tranquil atmosphere of total serenity. (I missed my calling; I should write ad copy for Vanity Fair.)
Anyway, who are our readers most impressed with when it comes to facials? The majority said The Blue Giraffe, although quite a few were mentioned, including:

  • Waterstone Spa.
  • Be Cherished.
  • Plaza Salon.
  • Sunshine Salon.
  • Glow.
  • Abbinito.
  • Alchemy Skin Care Spa.


The first car I ever bought was a ’49 Packard in Yellowstone Park the summer of 1969. Four of us chipped in on it, and while driving it home from St. Anthony, Idaho, it broke down on us. Turned out it was unfixable, and the guy gave us half our money back. Doesn’t seem right, does it?
Where would our readers recommend we go if the same thing happened today? Many of the local repair shops were mentioned, with Siskiyou Imports, located at 1713 Siskiyou, getting the number one nod. It was extremely close at the top, however, and the Top Five were:

  • Ashland Auto Repair on Lithia Way.
  • McClure’s on Siskiyou.
  • Euro-Mek in the Railroad District.
  • Rudi’s, on Tolman Creek Road.

Others high on the list were:

  • Valley View Auto Repair.
  • Ashland Automotive Inc.
  • Aaron’s Autowerks in Phoenix.
  • Henry’s Foreign Auto in Phoenix.
  • Master Tech on Valley View Road.


Even the human body knows the importance of proper maintenance. Every hour, new blood is produced by our bone marrow so that all that old blood doesn’t go clogging up the system. Once they’ve outlived their usefulness, old blood cells are filtered through the liver and kidneys and eliminated in the urine.
The same is true for a car engine, which is why replacing that old oil every 3-4 months is so important (unless you want to just let it drip out and go dry over time, then we’re talking major problems). Where to go in order to do that? The number one choice was the Oil Stop at 2210 Ashland Street, followed by:

  • Ashland Auto Repair.
  • TC Chevy.
  • Valley View Auto Repair.
  • McClure’s.
  • Rudi’s.


I still remember the scene in Breaking Away, where the teenage son is helping his car salesman dad at the lot and tells an unsatisfied customer he can have a refund. “REFUND!” the dad screams, then has a heart attack and is taken to the hospital.
Things aren’t nearly that drastic here in Ashland, and our readers appreciate all the hard work that car salesmen put in. Topping the list for 2011 was Rocky Moore of Butler Ford.
The list also included:

  • Bill Shevlin at Butler Ford.
  • Randy Crutchfield at TC Chevy.


Have you ever seen a college textbook on Accounting? It’s about as thick as a New York City phonebook and details all the mistakes people can make when they try to do their taxes and bookkeeping by themselves.
Where to go if you flunked Accounting 101? This one ended in a tie between the friendly folks at Nagel & Padilla (Glenn Cunningham and Julie Padilla); and Dorothy Walsh.
Other favorites included:

  • Tom Reid of Reid Hanna & Co.
  • Ken Bohn.
  • Mike Bakke.
  • Chuck Taubner.
  • Karine Gabrielle of Reid Hanna & Co.
  • Ingrid Edstrom of Ashland Polymath.


You don’t need anyone advising you to open a modeling agency in Saudi Arabia (“And introducing the scandalous, new orange burqa …”), but it would be nice if you could have been given a heads up about that Microsoft stock back in the early 80s.
When it comes to investing their money, our readers were able to pinpoint some favorites locally. Their top choice was Liz Murphy of Raymond James, followed by:

  • Larry Hayes of Ashland Investment Services.
  • Larry Steiner of Edward Jones.
  • Jack Gibbs of Fortress Financial Group.
  • Robbie Harfst of Harfst and Associates.
  • Tom Gau of Retirement Planning Specialists.


Okay, did you hear about the new sushi bar that caters exclusively to lawyers? It’s called “Sosumi.” Or did you hear about the terrorists who took a whole courtroom full of lawyers hostage? They threatened to release one every hour until their demands were met.
Seriously, though, we love our attorneys, especially when they’re there to bail us out of bad situations. The lawyer jokes always refer to the other guy’s lawyer.
Eighteen different attorneys were mentioned in this survey, with the top spot going to Jack Davis, who is now a 3-time winner of this event, taking down top honors in 1992 and 2004.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Allen Drescher.
  • Bob Good.
  • Chris Hearn.
  • Gary Turner.
  • Susan Krant.
  • Jim Simms.
  • Jennifer Bridges.


We live in a society full of rules, and the only way to ensure the success of such a system is to have a dedicated group of people to enforce them. The best police officers, though, are ones who realize that “the law” should never trump “the people,” and that every situation needs to be approached with some flexibility. That’s my soapbox for the day.
This is always a popular category with our readers, and 19 different police officers were mentioned, including this year’s winner, Officer Tighe Omeara. Tighe is a recent addition to APD, moving here from Detroit where he worked 13 years with the Wayne State University Police.
The favorites also included:

  • Malcus Williams.
  • Chief Terry Holderness.
  • Jason Daoust.
  • Carrie Hull.
  • Bon Stewart.
  • Matt Carpenter.


You sit down for the nightly news and all you hear about are murders, fires, bad economic news, and disasters. Therapists and counselors have become an important part of life in the 21st century, and Ashland is no exception, as they take up more than a full page in the phone book.
I counted 81 of them, and 30 were mentioned in this survey. The votes were all over the place, showing a slight bipolar tendency (just kidding). Landing at the top was Graham Collins, followed by:

  • Noel Chatroux.
  • Susan Schlosser.
  • Suzanne Fine.
  • Nancy Bloom.
  • Will Nuessle.


E-mail has certainly changed things for the U.S. Postal Service, but they’re a resilient bunch and I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Personally, I still like to receive the holiday cards in the mail rather than those impersonal things that are sent to me by e-mail, but maybe that’s just me. I have the perfect solution to the problems at USPS: Give UPS and FedEx a run for their money. Also, the Internet connection at our house went out this morning for a couple of hours, and it made me realize how tenuous our reliance on that technology can be.
Anyway, we still love our mail delivery people, and topping the list for this year was Steve Case, followed by:

  • David Gall.
  • Eddie Morgan.
  • Jacque Anderson.
  • Debbie McKinnis.
  • Gary Roberts.


Ashland has had a renaissance in restaurants over the last ten years, and we can thank a strong cadre of dedicated restaurant owners for that. Thirty-two different people were mentioned in this category, with the top spot going to Crissy Barnett of the Peerless Restaurant.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Daniel Greenblatt of Greenleaf.
  • Dal & Renee Carver of the Wild Goose.
  • Billy Harto of Kobe and Thai Pepper.
  • Tom & Lisa Beam of Pasta Piatti and Sesame.
  • Jacqueline Vidalo-Singh of Loft.
  • Charles and Quinn of Alex’s.
  • Marty Morlan of Macaroni’s/Martino’s.
  • Susan Chester of the Black Sheep.


They say that ocean fishermen, loggers, aircraft pilots, ranchers and roofers have the five most dangerous jobs in the world, but those guys wouldn’t last a week as a waitperson. They’d buckle under the pressure and would go back to their day jobs.
This is another popular category, as our readers mentioned 31 different waitstaff as their favorite. Taking down the top nod was Angie Mitchell at the Peerless Restaurant.
The Top Ten featured:

  • Bev Burgess of Morning Glory.
  • Pai Kim of Omar’s.
  • Beth Crites of the Wild Goose.
  • Kerrie Baldwin of the Breadboard.
  • Jacqueline Vidalo-Singh of Loft.
  • Sam King at Taroko.
  • Amy Wong (Martino’s).
  • Prescott Lewis at Thai Pepper.
  • Annie Harvey at Beasy’s on the Creek.


So a hotdog walks into a bar and orders a beer. The bartender replies, “Sorry, we don’t serve food here.” Or … a gorilla walks into a bar and orders a beer. The bartender gives him a mug and says, “That’ll be five bucks.” As the gorilla reaches for his pocket the bartender says, “You know, we don’t get many gorilla customers in here.” The gorilla shrugged and replied, “At five bucks a beer, it’s no wonder.”
Where do our readers go when they want to hear great jokes like that? The competition was intense, but in the end David Clark of the Thai Pepper Bar pulled out the win.
Other popular bartenders are:

  • Bear Whitmore at Omar’s.
  • Paul Schmeling at Martino’s.
  • Tonie Stewart at Alex’s.
  • Chris Hart at Tabu.
  • Gary Allen at Oak Tree.
  • Matt Anliss at the Peerless.


They rarely make an appearance except at the end of the night when the customers give them a standing ovation, but it’s the chef in the kitchen that makes or breaks a restaurant. Quite a few were mentioned by our readers, and the top nod goes to both Neil Clooney of Smithfield’s and Franco Console of Omar’s. Between them, they’ve also pulled down quite a few Iron Chef competitions.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Chandra Corwin of Cucina Biazzi.
  • Sam Jackson at the Peerless.
  • Jeremy Vidalo-Singh at Loft.
  • Erik Brown and Jamie North at Amuse.
  • Jeven Showers at Tabu.
  • Rob Harvey of Beasy’s on the Creek.


Getting your yard and garden looking good may require a little bit of work, but at the end of the day it’s all worth it. Living in a beautiful surrounding can work wonders for your soul.
And when our readers want some uplifting work done in their yard, they named 22 different people. The top three ended in a tie between Miller’s Renaissance Landscaping; Zack Williams’ Regenesis; and Seth Barnard’s Solid Ground Landscape.
Also in the hunt were:

  • John Stadelman.
  • George Clark.
  • Dan Graham of Yard Pros.
  • Ted Loftus.


Your daughter gave you a puppy for Christmas, and it took over two months to train the darling little animal not to do its thing on the carpet. Now that he knows to scratch at the door when nature calls, who do you call to have the carpets cleaned? Taking down the number one spot in the category was Joanna Rufo of Swept Away Carpet Cleaning, followed by:

  • Sergio Gonzales.
  • Jim Boozer.
  • New Age Carpet Cleaning.
  • Servicemaster.
  • Stanley Steemer.


Yeah, that party you threw at the house for all your buddies from work was fun, but now you have to get the house clean before your significant other gets back from that seminar. Who to call? Our readers were able to name a few, including the number one choice, the Cleaning Crew.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Stratford Inn Professional Cleaners.
  • Veronica’s House Cleaning.
  • Harry & Shirley Williams of Just Cleaned.
  • Otilia Medina.
  • Antoinetta Minniti.
  • I Can See Clearly.


The Ducks had just won the Rose Bowl, and you called your favorite painter to repaint the house yellow and green. Your significant other, who went to OSU, called the same painter and ordered the house painted black and orange. To avoid conflict, he mixed them all together and came up with the ugliest looking brown imaginable. You both punted.
Who to call when you want to support your school? Derek Volkart took down top honors in this category, followed by:

  • Two Stiffs Who Need Work.
  • Garrett Edmands.
  • Bob Jennings.
  • Tobias Cook.
  • Jeff Behrends.


Downtown Ashland has a definite cache. With the Shakespeare Festival and Lithia Park right there, plus some great restaurants and shops, the place is bustling with activity day and night. Our readers certainly love it, as they named 35 different stores as their favorite. I would love to list all of them, but we’ll have to settle for the top ten.
The number one spot was a battle between four different stores, and they all have their loyal customer bases. Paddington Station and Bloomsbury landed at the top, while two stores on the Plaza—Renaissance Rose and Papaya! Living—were close behind.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Tudor Guild.
  • Patina Soul.
  • Earthly Goods.
  • Outdoor Store.
  • Gold & Gems.
  • Village Shoes.
  • Music Coop.


You don’t have to venture to far from downtown to find great stores and bargains. There’s the Railroad District, the college area, the shopping center, and the south end of town, not to mention a sprinkling of stores on the north end.
This balloting again highlighted Déjà Vu, a clothing consignment store located in the Ashland Shopping Center.
The Top Ten included:

  • Bi-Mart.
  • Nature’s Pet Market, in the Albertson’s Shopping Center.
  • Rare Earth, in the Railroad District.
  • Ashland Recycled Furniture, in the Railroad District.
  • Bookwagon, in the shopping center.
  • Ashland Artisan Emporium, in the shopping center.
  • Fun Again Games, in the shopping center.
  • The Dollar Store, in the shopping center.
  • Hospice Unique Boutique, at 1618 Ashland Street.


Variety is the spice of life, and when our readers want to find a lot of different, interesting gifts, they turn their attention to the selection at Papaya! Living and the Tudor Guild.
The top five were pretty close and included:

  • Paddington Station.
  • Renaissance Rose.
  • Rare Earth.
  • Others mentioned a lot were:
  • Unicorn Gifts & Toys.
  • Flower Tyme.
  • NW Nature Shop.
  • Prize.
  • Art fX.
  • Love Revolution.


While toys are a great way to keep kids occupied, they’re also meant to help teach them how the world works. From Legos to Barbie dolls, they’re a microcosm of the real world.
Once again Bug a Boo (40 N. Main) and Unicorn Gifts & Toys (242 E. Main) battled it out for the number one spot.
Also receiving a lot of votes were:

  • Small Change.
  • NW Nature’s Shop.
  • Tree House Books & Gifts.
  • Fun Again Games.
  • Rare Earth.


They’re at the age where “fashion” is not an operable word for them, unless you’re that obnoxious baby on the E-trade commercials (I actually think he’s cute). You never know, though, when some Hollywood agent will “discover” your kid while strolling through Bi-Mart, and you will want him or her looking good.
Anyway, when our readers wanted to really go clothes shopping for the kids, they most often turned to both Small Change (on the Plaza) and Bug a Boo, followed by:

  • Bump.
  • Earth Friendly Kids.
  • Goodwill Store.


We’re not talking about doing a replica of the Sistine Chapel, but just your normal at-home or in-the-studio art projects that require some serious supplies. In that regard, our readers most often named Ashland Ace Hardware (249 A Street) as their go-to place.
They were followed by:

  • Yellow Cupboard (629 A Street).
  • Ashland Art Center (357 E. Main).
  • SOU Bookstore.
  • Central Art Supply in Medford.


Ashland may be famous for the Shakespeare Festival, SOU, Lithia Park, restaurants and shops, but its collection of art galleries is quickly becoming the talk of the Pacific Northwest. With a thriving Ashland Gallery Association and a First Friday Art Walk that is becoming a major draw, the art community is making a name for itself.
Our readers named 16 different art galleries as being particularly fun, reserving their number one accolades for Hanson Howard Gallery, which moved to a new location at 89 Oak Street after being in its original building since 1979.
Others receiving lots of votes were:

  • Illahe Studios & Gallery (215 4th).
  • Davis & Cline (525 A).
  • Gallerie Karon (500 A).
  • Ashland Art Center (357 E. Main).
  • Blue Heron (90 N. Main).


What do Thomas Jefferson and WC Fields have it common? They both loved wine. TJ: “Good wine is a necessity of life for me.” WC: “I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.”
Where would TJ and WC go for wine if they were in Ashland? Most of our readers recommended Lorn Razzano’s Wine Cellar, located just underneath the liquor store, followed closely by Shop ‘N’ Kart.
The list also included:

  • Market of Choice.
  • Chateaulin Selections.
  • Ashland Food Co-op.
  • Liquid Assets.


Amazingly, I found some great quotes about bread. Julia Child: “How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?” Milton Berle: “Any time a person goes into a delicatessen and orders a pastrami on white bread, somewhere a Jew dies.” Or the Roman poet Juvenal: “Two things only the people desire—bread and the circus games.”
Here in Ashland, many of our readers singled out Sunstone Artisan Bakery, which right now is available at the Food Co-op and the Growers’ Market, although a retail shop is in the works.
They were followed closely by:

  • Deux Chats (222 A Street).
  • Apple Cellar (2255 Ashland Street).
  • Village Baker (372 E. Main).
  • La Baguette (340 A).
  • Market of Choice.
  • Quite a few readers also mentioned the bread from Sammy’s New Cowboy Bistro.


When it comes to decorating my office, a few things are essential: Indiana University basketball posters, a nerf ball hoop, and lots of books. The rest of the house, however, is a different story, and my wife has it looking good, with cool furniture, R. Atkinson Fox paintings, and a decorative style that my feeble, I.U. basketball mind would never contemplate.
Where to go when you want to shop for home décor items? This was a tie between Ashland Recycled Furniture, located on A Street in the Railroad District, and Paddington Station.
Others receiving recognition were:

  • Papaya! Living.
  • Ashland Artisan Emporium.
  • Flower Tyme.
  • Rare Earth.
  • Hospice Unique Boutique.


I really doubt if Lady Gaga is going to talk many women into wearing some of the crazy stuff she comes up with, like a dress with Christmas tree bulbs flashing all around it. Fashion for most women is just a little more functional than that.
And when it comes to shopping for women’s clothes, our readers named quite a few places, starting with Kixx (264 E. Main) and Earthly Goods (142 E. Main).
The top five were close and included:

  • Thread Hysteria.
  • Patina Soul.
  • 250 Main.
  • They were followed by:
  • Déjà Vu.
  • Nimbus.
  • Avant Garb.
  • Renaissance Rose.
  • Frederica Lawrence.
  • Red’s Threads.
  • Papaya! Living.


If there’s a Lady Gaga, where’s Mr. Gaga? And what does he wear, an outfit with the heads of golf clubs glued to it?
Anyway, when it comes to men’s clothes, our readers most often chose Nimbus (across from the Plaza), followed by:

  • Bi-Mart.
  • Mountain Supply.
  • Outdoor Store.
  • Travel Essentials.


The first time a caveman wrapped a piece of mastodon leather around his feet, a huge technological leap occurred in the history of mankind. Today, we now obsess over our shoes (just ask Imelda Marcos), and luckily our readers can direct you to two stores downtown, which ended up in an exact tie in this category: Village Shoes, located at 337 E. Main; and Earthly Goods.
Lithia Park Shoes, at the corner of E. Main and First Street, is also popular, followed by:

  • Outdoor Store.
  • Bi-Mart.
  • Rogue Valley Runners.


I Googled “All Time Favorite Video Games” and learned that “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,” was number one, followed by “Super Mario Brothers,” “Legend of Zelda,” “Tour of Duty,” “John Madden’s NFL,” “Guitar Hero,” and “Tetris.”
Where to go when you want to stock up on these, plus all of the new stuff? Many of our readers chose Play ‘N’ Trade, a video game store which opened last year in the Ashland Shopping Center. They also mentioned Bi-Mart and DJ’s, but for electronic “stuff,” the choice was Radio Shack.


When you think about it, every flower we see was once growing wild in the woods and valleys. It is one of mankind’s great accomplishments that we have taken the best and brightest from the plant kingdom and turned them into beautiful bouquets.
After last year, when three of our local floral shops ended up in a tie, I really wanted one of them to break out of the pack this year. Well, it didn’t happen. There was one vote that separated all three of them, so once again we would like to congratulate Enchanted Florist (180 E. Main); Flower Tyme (on the Plaza); and Eufloria (449 E. Main) for a job well done.
Also mentioned: Albertson’s and Safeway.


A garden is not just something beautiful to behold but is home to a myriad of animals, from birds and spiders to ladybugs and butterflies. With a little creativity, you can also keep the “bad” animals out without resorting to a lot of pesticides.
Running away with this category again was the Grange Co-op, followed by:

  • Ray’s Garden Center.
  • Valley View Nursery.
  • Ashland Greenhouses.
  • Bi-Mart.


The benefits of bicycle riding are many: they get you outdoors breathing fresh air, they get you in shape, they put you in touch with your surroundings, AND you don’t have to fill them up with gas at $4 a gallon every two weeks.
Bicycling is definitely popular in Ashland, and our readers mentioned Cycle Sport, located at 191 Oak Street, as their favorite, followed by:

  • Get n Gear, a store featuring used outdoor merchandise at the corner of 2nd and A Street.
  • Siskiyou Cyclery (1729 Siskiyou).
  • Ashland Bike Works (1662 Ashland Street).
  • Bear Creek Bicycle (1988 Hwy 99N).
  • Flywheel (in Talent).


Grocery shopping is actually a social event, as you will regularly run into friends and acquaintances, exchanging hugs and war stories in the aisles. The checkers are like the emcees, keeping everything running smoothly and making sure there are no party crashers.
Who do our readers think have the friendliest checkers? The competition was tough among the top three, with Ashland Food Co-op eking out a win, followed by:

  • Shop ‘N’ Kart.
  • Market of Choice.
  • Safeway.
  • Albertson’s.


To all the people who said, “Outside,” “In Hawaii,” or “In the Sun,” we appreciate the humor. We were looking, however, for places that offer tanning beds.
And in that regard, Tan Ashland, located at 1680 Ashland St. (next to Happy Falafel) was the runaway winner in this, followed by:

  • Electric Beach.
  • Blue Giraffe.


Yes, you could sit and watch the Food Channel all day and fantasize about becoming an Iron Chef … or you could just go out and stock your kitchen with all the “stuff” necessary to make that happen.
And according to our readers, the best place to start would be Paddington Station, which won this in a major landslide. A few people lamented that Allyson’s was gone, but I guess life goes on.


It wasn’t shocking to me to learn that the reason for the recent high gas prices is because speculators back in New York have been driving the price up. I mean, these are the same kind of people who caused the housing bubble/crash, and as long as they can make some quick short-term profit, they couldn’t care less what happens to the rest of us.
Whew! It was good to get that off my chest. Now I think I’ll go fill up the car. Where would our readers recommend? The top choice this year was 76 Station Downtown on Lithia Way.
Other gas stations mentioned a lot were:

  • Shell station at the south exit (with the soda pop).
  • Texaco station at the south I-5 exit.
  • ARCO AM/PM at the south I-5 exit.
  • The Astro station (across from Library).
  • 76 station at the south I-5 exit.
  • 76 station on Valley View Road.
  • Shell station on Siskiyou.


Sometimes it is good to just get the hell out of Dodge and visit the rest of the world. And when our readers take the precipitous leap of visiting our neighbors to the north, where do they most like to go? The winner this year was Fred Meyer’s, followed by:

  • CostCo.
  • TJ Maxx.
  • Central Art Supply.
  • Terra Firma.
  • JC Penney’s.
  • Blackbird.
  • Target.
  • Macy’s at the Mall.
  • Barnes & Noble.
  • Ross Dress for Less.


Once again our internationally-recognized panel of judges (my family members) voted Butters, a Golden Retriever owned by Michael Biggs and Dawn Mellon, as the cutest. Others receiving honorable mention were:

  • Iris, owned by Megan Doherty.
  • Red, a Redtick Coonhound owned by Derek Volkart.
  • Rudy (Jack Altman).
  • Gracie, owned by Deborah Morgan and Rick Bleiweiss.
  • Clawde Depussy, an orange kitty owned by Anne Novina.



This is always a fun category because at almost every meeting the six City Councilors stick their necks out and take stands on local issues that they feel are important. Like society at large, there is rarely a unanimous decision, and that is a good thing.
It was also good to see that all six councilors received votes in this category, and we will list the top three here:

  • Greg Lemhouse.
  • Carol Voisin.
  • Dennis Slattery.


They’re there to make sure everything goes smoothly for the rest of us, from police and fire to water, electricity and Internet. Unfortunately, they don’t receive that many accolades, which is where this survey comes in handy.
And receiving the most votes in this category for 2012 was John Karns, Fire Chief for the City of Ashland. Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Barbara Christianson, City Recorder.
  • Chris Chambers, Fire Department.
  • Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner.
  • Mike Faught, Public Works Department.
  • Vince Zausky, AFN.
  • Mike Cook, Electric Department.
  • James Clark, Water Department.


The overwhelming response by our readers in this category was the total cooperation by everyone in the City, from the top on down, in helping OSF deal with the Angus Bowmer crisis. Especially crucial was allowing a 600-seat tent to be erected in Lithia Park, which pretty much saved the day.
Other outstanding things included:

  • Deciding not to convert the Grove into a police station.
  • Turning the special use permit over to Mt. Ashland.
  • Allowing dogs in some Ashland parks.
  • Proposing a “road diet” on North Main.
  • Postponing the “road diet” on North Main.


When it comes to government (or even the private sector), there’s always the good, the bad, and the ugly. And in the case of “the bad,” our readers most often mentioned failure to approve the Intertie and secure a source of water.
That was followed by:

  • Almost cancelling the Halloween Parade (although that was actually the Chamber).
  • Not solving the homeless problem.
  • Giving up the special use permit to Ski Mt. Ashland.
  • Trying to turn N. Main into a two-lane street.
  • Not solving the deer problem.


Ah … my favorite part of the Best of Ashland. Being a political animal and having worked for a market research company in Denver for 14 years, I always find these answers fascinating. So let’s get it on …

  1. Should “Occupy Ashland” protesters be allowed to camp out on the Plaza? Okay, most of us agree that the big banks got off relatively scot free after plunging this country (and basically the world) into an economic crisis. They were pretty smug about it for a long time until a bunch of protesters started showing up at their front door on Wall Street. They tried to ignore them, but they wouldn’t go away, and eventually the protests spread all over the country (and globe), including Ashland. Honest protesters are one thing, but guys just wanting to camp out on the Plaza and party is another. Should they be allowed to do that? Our readers don’t think so.
    Yes, they should: 40%
    No, bad idea: 60%
  2. Should restrictions on cell towers be relaxed by the City Council? Right now cell phone companies have an enormous amount of power, thanks in part to the 1996 Telecommunications Law that was written by cell phone company lobbyists. Local municipalities have very little wiggle room, and last fall a proposal was floated to remove all restrictions and let the cell phone companies do what they want. Our readers do not agree with that philosophy.
    Yes, they should be relaxed: 29%
    No, they should not: 71%
  3. Should the City pay for a free campground for the homeless? You know what, the local homeless community has been getting some bad press lately. First, one of them accidentally starts a fire that burns down eleven homes in Oak Knoll. Then one of them buys booze for a 16-year-old kid who gets drunk and drowns in Ashland Creek. The last time I was downtown some idiot in front of the Black Swan was screaming obscenities at a fellow homeless person, and I was so irate I had to yell at the guy to shut up. And we should pay to secure them a free campground, huh? Most readers said no to that proposal.
    Yes, build it and they will come: 31%
    No, do not: 69%
  4. Is the Mt. Ashland expansion a good idea or not? This idea has been argued ad infinitum for the last twenty years, and this survey is a perfect example of how polarizing it is. After all the ballots were counted, it was an EXACT tie.
    Yes, good idea: 50%
    No, bad idea: 50%

Patience is one of those virtues that every loyal reader of the Sneak Preview learns to cultivate at least once a year. It’s been a long three weeks since Part I of the “Best of Ashland” was published, and we’re glad to report that everyone waited patiently and there were no incidents of rioting or looting in Ashland (as opposed to what happened when Gaddafi’s “The Best of Tripoli” came out a little late last year).
But enough of this long-winded introduction. Let’s move onto the real stuff—Part II of the “Best of Ashland,” featuring restaurants and entertainment. As always, multiple ties will be awarded in any category where the votes had a difference of five or fewer at the top.



There must be something in the water (or food) in Ashland, because there were actually THIRTEEN new restaurants to open here in the last year. Almost all of them, however, moved into spaces where other restaurants had been, so there was no net gain.
The top five in this category were very close, with most votes going to both Neil Clooney’s “meat-centric” Smithfields (36 S. 2nd); and Ruby’s, a breakfast-lunch restaurant located at 163 N. Pioneer.
Following close on their heels were:

  • Taroko, a Pan-Pacific Bistro at 62 E. Main.
  • Coquina, a dinnerhouse at 542 A Street.
  • El Paraiso, a Mexican restaurant located at 545 Clover Lane.
  • The list also included:
  • Playwright Public House, 258 A Street.
  • The Red Zone, a new sports bar at the corner of E. Main and 2nd.
  • Thai Pepper Satay Bar.
  • Café 116, located at 116 Lithia Way.
  • Mongo Grill, at 1662 Siskiyou.
  • Yogurt on the Rox (293 E. Main).
  • Hot Spot Eatery (424 Bridge Street).
  • Although Cebolla opened in December just days after the ballot for the “Best of Ashland” was published, they also received a smattering of votes.


When you wake up and your stomach is already growling, you know it’s time to have some breakfast. And the best way to drown out the rumblings from down under is good conversation with friends.
Where do our readers go in that regard? There were actually nine that received the vast majority of the votes. Each has its own following of loyal customers, and while it was very close, here is how it played out once all the ballots were counted:

  • Morning Glory Café at 1149 Siskiyou.
  • Breadboard (744 N. Main).
  • Brother’s at 95 N. Main.
  • Dragonfly (241 Hargadine).
  • Wild Goose at 2365 Ashland St.
  • Ruby’s.
  • Oak Tree (2510 Hwy 66).
  • Munchies at 59 N. Main.
  • Greenleaf on the Plaza.


This was probably the most popular category in the restaurant section of this survey, as 32 different establishments were named. Lunch apparently is one of those times when we love to socialize (“let’s do lunch,” etc.) and get out of the house.
Topping the list for 2012 was a three-way tie between Dragonfly, located at the corner of First and Hargadine (below Oregon Cabaret Theatre); Wild Goose (on the south end of town); and Taj, an Indian-style restaurant located at 31 Water Street.
Here is a list of the Top Twelve:

  • Greenleaf.
  • Standing Stone (101 Oak Street).
  • Sesame Asian Kitchen, at 21 Winburn Way.
  • Munchies.
  • Ruby’s.
  • Louie’s on the Plaza.
  • Morning Glory.
  • Hana Sushi on the Plaza.
  • Lark’s at Ashland Springs Hotel.


They almost qualify as a food group all by themselves … wait, maybe that’s fruit I’m thinking of. Anyway, they’re very tasty and filling, and they’re a perfect way to start the morning.
And when our readers want to get their motors running in the early a.m. with some pancakes, they most often chose the morsels at the Breadboard and Morning Glory, followed closely in the balloting by:

  • Munchie’s.
  • Wild Goose.
  • Brother’s.
  • Dragonfly.
  • Oak Tree.


I grew up in a family with nine kids, and we all ate dinner around a huge table. Somehow, my mom always had a dessert ready for us every night, and how she never got nominated for sainthood is beyond me.
Our readers would certainly like to nominate some local restaurants for desserthood, including this year’s winner, a three-way tie between Munchie’s (downstairs on the Plaza); Chateaulin (50 E. Main); and Lark’s (in the Ashland Springs Hotel).
Also having great desserts are:

  • Amuse.
  • Peerless.
  • Winchester Inn.
  • Loft.
  • Liquid Assets.


At chef school, they actually give degrees in Reubenology, because this isn’t just any ordinary pastrami sandwich … it’s a Reuben.
Which restaurant went to the top of the class this year with regard to this sandwich? Most of our readers saved their accolades for both Munchie’s and Brother’s. Others mentioned a lot were:

  • The Breadboard.
  • Big Al’s at 474 N. Main.
  • Omar’s at 1380 Siskiyou.
  • Greenleaf.


Going out for dinner can be a cause for celebration or for just wanting to get out of the house. Either way, diners in Ashland have a great selection to choose from. Ending in a tie for first were Peerless, located at 265 4th Street; The Loft, off Guanajuato Way; and Amuse, located at 15 N. First.
Also in the mix were:

  • Chateaulin, at 50 E. Main.
  • Omar’s.
  • Standing Stone.
  • Alex’s on the Plaza.
  • Winchester Inn at 35 S. 2nd.
  • Beasy’s on the Creek (51 Water Street).
  • Smithfield’s.
  • Lark’s.


When it comes to romantic lunch spots, you don’t need Edith Piaf at the piano singing “La Vie en Rose,” but you do want an ambiance that isn’t all hectic and stressful.
And when it comes to that, our readers named both Lark’s (in the Ashland Springs Hotel) and the Dragonfly (1st & Hargadine) as their favorites.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Martino’s.
  • Thai Pepper.
  • Sesame.
  • Alex’s.


Sometimes, instead of sitting there and checking out the scores on Sports Center with one eye, you want to gaze lovingly into the eyes of your significant other and talk about important things, like the Yankees/Red Sox series … just kidding.
In this category, our readers named both Cucina Biazzi (568 E. Main) and Chateaulin (50 E. Main) as being particularly romantic.
The Top Five were actually very close, and they included:

  • The Peerless.
  • Amuse.
  • Loft.
  • They were followed by:
  • Martino’s.
  • Winchester Inn.
  • Beasy’s on the Creek.
  • Dragonfly.
  • Loft.


I went on the Internet to check out the leading cattle producers in the world and was shocked to see that India led the way. I always thought cows were sacred in India, and that they could practically get elected president if only they had the right slogan. “Got milk?” would be a good one.
Anyway, when the slogan becomes “Where’s the beef?” our readers once again named Omar’s, located at 1380 Siskiyou, as their number one choice.
It was pretty close between the top three, which included:

  • Smithfield’s.
  • Beasy’s on the Creek.
  • Others receiving votes were The Loft and Peerless.


Oceans cover 75% of the world, and it’s almost amazing that humans are notoriously close to depleting some of the fish stock. I mean, a single (or married) cod produces 9 million eggs per spawning season, and we have somehow depleted them. As a species, we border on being idiots.
When it comes to enjoying some great seafood, though, our readers are pretty smart, naming both Beasy’s on the Creek and The Peerless as their favorites.
Coming in a close third and fourth were Omar’s and The Loft.


Pasta comes in a variety of different shapes and is basically unleavened dough of wheat, flour, water, and sometimes eggs. Add some meat and sauces to it, and it borders on being a perfect dish.
Where do our readers go to seek perfection? This year they chose the friendly confines of both Pasta Piatti, located at 358 E. Main; and Wiley’s World at 1606 Ashland Street.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Cucina Biazzi.
  • Macaroni’s/Martino’s.
  • Callahan’s.


My daughter got up this morning and complained that someone ate all the eggs, so I simply went out to the chicken coop and collected four of them. Having chickens comes in handy at times. I also showed the eggs to our dog, Brody, and said, “Some pets pull their weight around this house.” He felt guilty, then went out and retrieved the morning paper for me. That’s what we’re talkin’ bout, boy! Now if we can just get the cat to do something besides be adorable.
Where to go when you’re hungry for a really great chicken dish? Topping the charts this year was a tie between Lark’s (in the Ashland Springs Hotel) and Chateaulin (50 E. Main), particularly the Coq au Vin.


They can either accompany a meal or be a meal unto themselves, so what more could you ask for? Our readers didn’t mess around, as they named both Grilla Bites on the Plaza; and Pangea (272 E. Main) as tops in this category, followed by:

  • Greenleaf.
  • Standing Stone.
  • Food Co-op Deli.
  • Wild Goose.
  • Lark’s.
  • Beasy’s on the Creek.


It’s a slice of Mexico City every time you walk into a Mexican restaurant here in Ashland. Not just the cuisine, but the atmosphere and the staff combine to make it a fun, south-of-the-border experience without the expensive plane ticket.
All of the local Mexican-style establishments were mentioned this year, and the new kid on the block, El Paraiso (pronounced para-ee-so) at 545 Clover Lane, tied with perennial favorite La Casa del Pueblo, located at 1209 Siskiyou.
The complete list included:

  • Señor Sam’s, in the Ashland Shopping Center.
  • Agave, at 92 N. Main.
  • Tabu (76 N. Pioneer).
  • El Tapatio at 1033 N. Pacific Hwy.
  • Big Al’s (474 N. Main).
  • La Tapatia in Phoenix.
  • Inti in Talent.


This is a dish that originated in the city of Puebla, which is also famous for being the site of the battle on Cinco de Mayo, 1862, when the Mexican army kicked butt on the French. You take a roasted pepper (Poblano, Anaheim, passila or jalapeño) and stuff it with all kinds of interesting things, and voilà (excuse my French), the end result is exquisite.
Where to go for great chile rellenos? Our readers most often named El Paraiso, followed closely by:

  • La Casa.
  • El Tapatio.
  • Inti.


It’s a classic dish in Mexico, and our readers were most impressed with the tortilla soup at La Casa del Pueblo. Others high on the list were:

  • Agave.
  • El Paraiso.
  • Pangea.
  • Inti.


The first “Asians” crossed over into America about 25,000 years ago via the Bering Strait, setting up their first sushi restaurant at an Eskimo village in Alaska. Since then, Ashland has seen a proliferation of outstanding Asian restaurants, covering the full spectrum of choices.
Taking down the number one spot this year was the triumvirate of Thai Pepper, located at 84 N. Main; Sesame, at 21 Winburn Way; and Hana Sushi on the Plaza.
The list also featured:

  • Kobe (96 N. Main).
  • Bonsai Teriyaki (in the Albertson’s Shopping Center).
  • House of Thai Cuisine (1667 Siskiyou).
  • Taroko, at 62 E. Main.
  • Taj (31 Water Street).
  • Yuan Yuan (in the Shop ‘N’ Kart Shopping Center).
  • Lee’s Cuisine, in the Rite-Aid Shopping Center.
  • Panda Garden at 1757 Hwy 66.
  • Mihama’s (1253 Siskiyou).
  • Golden Dynasty (1415 Siskiyou).
  • Mongo Grill (1662 Siskiyou).
  • Chun’s Palace (310 Oak).
  • Bento Express on Granite Street.


Breaking it down into restaurants that specifically cater to Thai cuisine, Billy Harto’s Thai Pepper (and his new Thai Pepper Satay Bar), won this category.
Other popular restaurants serving Thai dishes were:

  • House of Thai Cuisine.
  • Yuan Yuan.
  • Taroko.


I’m still mad at Japan for beating our women’s soccer team in the World Cup last year, but how can you stay mad at a country that just suffered a devastating earthquake, tsunami, and the breakdown of a nuclear power plant? You can’t, so you go, Japan!
There was stiff competition in this category, as a number of restaurants cater to Japanese dishes, including the top two vote-getters, Kobe (located at 96 N. Main); and Hana Sushi on the Plaza.
The were closely followed by:

  • Bonsai Teriyaki.
  • Taroko.
  • Lee’s Cuisine.
  • Mihama’s.


Poor Italy. It’s one of the most beautiful and fun countries in the world, and they have an ex-president who controls most of the newspapers and TV stations and who messes around with underage girls. I mean, at least Monica was 24-years-old, dude.
We all love our Italian restaurants, however, and in this category our readers named Pasta Piatti as their favorite this year. The Top Three were extremely close and they included:

  • Cucina Biazzi.
  • Macaroni’s/Martino’s.
  • Other favorites included:
  • Northwest Pizza & Pasta.
  • Wiley’s World.
  • Martolli’s Hand Tossed Pizza at 38 E. Main.


Watching a video of professional pizza makers is fascinating stuff. They roll the dough around in their hands to make a huge pie, then literally throw it 20 feet in the air, catching it behind their backs, etc.
Here in Ashland, our pizza guys don’t get that crazy, but they do make some mean pizza. The top three in this category really battled it out, with Great American Pizza eking out a win.
But seriously, it was really close, because both Martolli’s (38 E. Main) and Creekside Pizza (92 ½ N. Main) have their loyal followers.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Northwest Pizza & Pasta.
  • Giseppi’s.
  • Papa Murphy’s.
  • Standing Stone.
  • Pasta Piatti.


Sometimes looking over a menu can be stressful. The names and descriptions all seem to blend together in your left brain, and what you need is to see what you’re going to be eating. That’s where a buffet and salad bar comes in handy … by going straight to the source.
For our readers, this category ended as a tie between Taj, an Indian-style restaurant located at 31 Water Street; and Grilla Bites on the Plaza.
Also mentioned a lot were Food Co-op Deli, Great American Pizza, Mongo Grill, and Northwest Pizza & Pasta.


Human beings are natural omnivores, but for a long time the only food items we regularly had access to were vegetables and fruit, so we probably lean toward that orientation (although a balanced diet that includes some carnivorous delights is not a bad thing).
Many restaurants in Ashland offer vegetarian dishes to complement their omnivorous menu, with Grilla Bites on the Plaza; and Dragonfly (corner of First and Hargadine) getting the top nod.
Also mentioned were Taj and Taroko, followed by:

  • Deli Food Co-op.
  • Mongo Grill.
  • Pangea.
  • Greenleaf.


“Get that ol’ station wagon loaded up, and let’s head out to dinner!” Grandpa said one night after scratching off 300 lottery tickets. “I just won $74, and the treat’s on me.”
Where to go when Grandpa strikes it rich? The most popular with our readers is The Standing Stone, located at 101 Oak Street.
Other favorites included:

  • Munchies.
  • Wild Goose.
  • Omar’s.
  • Black Sheep.
  • Northwest Pizza & Pasta.
  • Alex’s.


I was at a restaurant a few years ago and got to hear an argument about what was better—Texas-style barbecue or North Carolina barbecue. It got pretty heated, and I thought they were going to take it outside, but someone across the room offered to buy them a couple of shots of bourbon if they’d shut up, and they went for it. Then they argued about what was better—Kentucky Bourbon or Tennessee Whiskey. You can’t win!
Our readers certainly appreciate the efforts of our local barbecue providers, reserving their number one choice for Roscoe’s, a BBQ joint located in Phoenix.
Also mentioned were Taroko, Lee’s Cuisine and Omar’s.


It’s always fun to step outside the box and create a menu with a little more flair, something that you don’t find everywhere. And in that regard, our readers were most impressed with the selection at Taroko, a Pan-Pacific restaurant located at 62 E. Main; and Tabu, which offers Nuevo Latino food at 76 N. Pioneer.
The list of favorites included:

  • Dragonfly.
  • Kobe.
  • Coquina.
  • Winchester Inn.
  • Taj.
  • Loft.
  • Smithfield’s.
  • Blue Greek on Granite.


They come in all shapes and sizes, from tarts and cakes to scones and cream puffs, but one thing is for sure … we all love them.
When it comes to finding the perfect pastry, our readers most often turned to the creations at both the Market of Choice Deli (1475 Siskiyou Blvd); and Deux Chats, located at 222 A Street.
Other favorites included:

  • Munchies.
  • Apple Cellar.
  • Mix on the Plaza.
  • Larry’s Cakes at 66 N. Pioneer (downstairs).
  • 4 & 20 Blackbirds.
  • Sweet Desire.
  • Ichigo Cakes (250 Oak St., #3).


Instead of just making a decision off the huge entrée menu available, it’s sometimes best to check out some of the competition. That’s where appetizers come in. They tip you off as to exactly what is happening in the kitchen and how to best make the all-important decision on which entrée to order.
Topping the list for 2012 were the delectable offerings at both Peerless and Dragonfly.
They were followed closely in the standings by:

  • Tabu.
  • Taroko.
  • Alex’s.
  • Lark’s.
  • Winchester Inn.
  • Chateaulin.
  • Amuse


It’s an unenviable assignment, trying to keep everyone happy every second they’re in the restaurant, but our ever-friendly waitstaff are up for the occasion. Thirty-three different restaurants were mentioned in this survey, which is a testament to how friendly they are.
With Beth and Toni leading the way, the Wild Goose was named number one in this category by our readers. They were followed by:

  • The Peerless.
  • Breadboard.
  • Omar’s.
  • Munchies.
  • Standing Stone.
  • Louie’s.
  • Pasta Piatti.


Apparently, a few people objected to the term “fast food,” claiming that it has gotten a bad rap in this country lately. Most fast food restaurants have upped their game dramatically in the last decade with regard to nutrition and wholesome ingredients, so we’ve opted for a new nomenclature: “Quick Service” restaurants.
Taking down the top spot in this category for 2012 was Señor Sam’s, located in the Ashland Shopping Center.
The Top Five included:

  • Happy Falafel, also in the Ashland Shopping Center.
  • Martolli’s Pizza.
  • Agave.
  • Taj’s luncheon buffet.
  • Others receiving a lot of votes were:
  • Taco Bell.
  • Bento Express.
  • Mihama’s.
  • Subway.
  • Pita Pit.
  • Grilla Bites.
  • Wendy’s.


As I’m writing this, I’m waiting for my family to get it together to leave for dinner. Being hungry, just the thought of a big juicy cheeseburger makes me want to start gnawing on my arm … pass the ketchup, please.
In lieu of that, our readers would much rather visit some local establishments known for their burgers. The top three in this category were very close, and it ended in a tie between Big Al’s (474 N. Main) and Louie’s on the Plaza. Standing Stone at 101 Oak came in a close third.
Also making the list were:

  • Munchies.
  • Omar’s.
  • Caldera (31 Water Street).
  • Grilla Bites.
  • Red Zone.
  • Wild Goose.
  • Oak Tree.


When stationed in Germany in the army, my buddies and I used to go to Heidelberg and walk the Hauptstrasse, which was almost a mile-long pedestrian-oriented street jammed with tourists and students. We were semi-poor G.I.s, so I practically lived on pom frites, which is what the Germans called French fries. That diet probably did wonders to my G.I., but it was a lot of fun!
Where to go when I want to relive the good old days in Germany? Most readers steered me to the “Greek fries” at Happy Falafel in the Ashland Shopping Center, although the fries at Big Al’s are also a big hit.
The list also included:

  • Standing Stone.
  • Caldera Tap House.
  • Munchies.
  • Louie’s.
  • Creekside.


They can be anything from Dogwoods, wraps, melts, burritos, pasties, etc., but one thing is for certain … we love them. And when it comes to a great selection of sandwiches, our readers again turned to Big Town Hero, located downtown on Granite Street.
Other favorites listed were:

  • Pangea.
  • Grilla Bites.
  • Greenleaf.
  • Standing Stone.
  • Munchies.
  • Pita Pit.
  • Subway.
  • Zoey’s, located at 199 E. Main.


While a soothing, tasty ice cream dish is good almost anytime, it’s especially appropriate after a spicy meal. Where to go when you want to soothe that palate, or just taste something outstanding? In this category, our readers most often named Mix, a shop on the Plaza serving ice cream, frozen yogurt, candy, bakeries, coffee and tea.
The Yogurt Hut, located at 140 Lithia Way, is also extremely popular, followed by:

  • Zoey’s.
  • Yogurt on the Rox.
  • Boulevard Coffee.


You don’t have to get all “Sideways” on us and travel down to the Napa Valley for this category. There are plenty of places in Ashland to enjoy some good wine, and the number one place is Liquid Assets, located at 96 N. Main.
Also landing at the top of the list were:

  • Weisinger’s Winery, located at 3150 Siskiyou.
  • Winchester Inn Wine Bar.
  • Edenvale Enoteca on the Plaza.
  • Pachal’s, at 1122 Suncrest Road outside talent.
  • Chateaulin Selections.


It’s amazing how friendly and upbeat every barista I’ve ever met is. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they have access to caffeine on a minute’s notice! That would make anyone happy.
Anyway, a number of baristas were named in this category, including this year’s winner, Jared Rennie of Noble Coffee Roasting.
Other popular baristas included:

  • Danny of Dutch Brothers.
  • David Light of Bloomsbury Coffee.
  • Marge at Noble.
  • Scotty at Evo’s.
  • Tim Case of Case Coffee.
  • Dustin of Rogue Valley Roasting Co.


Twenty-one years ago, when the Sneak Preview first started in Ashland, there were one or two coffeehouses in town. Today it seems as if they’re at every street corner, with everyone wanting to capitalize on our craving for caffeine. That’s not a bad thing. The quality of coffee has gone up dramatically during that time, and we can thank our local coffee purveyors for that.
Who do our readers first want to thank when it comes to coffee? Once again they voted Noble Coffee Roasting, at 282 4th Street, as their favorite.
It was very competitive, however, as everyone seems to have their favorite place to get caffeinated. They included:

  • The Beanery (Walker & Ashland Streets).
  • Rogue Valley Roasting Co. (917 E. Main).
  • Evo’s (376 E. Main).
  • Starbucks (both downtown and near SOU).
  • Mix.
  • Boulevard Coffee (at the Stratford Inn).
  • Dutch Brothers.
  • Bloomsbury Coffee House.
  • Café 116 (at 116 Lithia Sway).
  • Case Coffee at 1255 Siskiyou.
  • Human Bean (across from Butler Ford).


You’re having a family reunion and the last time you were all seated at a restaurant, you were almost 86ed because it got so loud. It didn’t help that Uncle Roscoe got drunk and started dancing on the table. Where to go when you want to reserve your own private room for some serious partying? The runaway winner in this category was the Ashland Springs Hotel, followed by:

  • Peerless.
  • Alex’s.
  • Callahan’s.


As a great American once said: “Sometimes in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to get the hell out of Dodge and visit restaurants outside Ashland. We, of course, hold these truths to be self-evident, that we are endowed by our Creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of different restaurants.”
Okay, I kind of got out of control there, but you know what I mean, and when it comes to that our readers most often picked New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro, located on Highway 99 between Ashland and Talent.
Also popular are:

  • The Avalon in Talent.
  • Inti in Talent.
  • La Tapatia in Phoenix.
  • Bambu in Medford.
  • Callahan’s at the Mt. Ashland I-5 exit.
  • Porter’s in Medford.
  • Roscoe’s in Phoenix.
  • The Jacksonville Inn.



There’s actually a lot of musical action in Ashland, despite what some pundits think. I went through our Calendar of Events for every issue last year and there were six or seven concerts every month for people to feast on.
Many of those were mentioned by our readers, who gave the Concerts in the Bandshell by the Ashland City Band two thumbs up.
Also very popular was the concert by The Devil Makes Three at the Armory in November, followed by:

  • The Green Show concerts.
  • Southern Oregon Repertory Singer’s Bach’s “Mass in B Minor.”
  • The December fundraising show by Gypsy Soul.
  • The Rogue Valley Symphony’s November show with celloist Chas Barnard.
  • Appearances by The Karen Lovely Band at Alex’s.


The Ginger Rogers Craterian Theatre in Medford is one of the classiest venues in all of southern Oregon, and it attracts some outstanding acts. Topping the charts this year was Pink Martini, a Portland-based band with an eclectic range of songs.
Also popular were:

  • Talley’s Folly, a play produced by Next Stage Repertory Company.
  • The Temptations.
  • Tiempo Liebre.


Our readers love the Britt Festival in Jacksonville, and they named quite a few performances, including this year’s favorite, a tie between The Decemberists and The Avett Brothers.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Willie Nelson.
  • Michael Franti.
  • Ray LaMontagne.
  • Boz Scaggs.
  • Smokey Robin-son.


You don’t have to have a degree in art to appreciate the First Friday Art Walk. Many of the events offer food, refreshments and entertainment, and often the artist is there to explain some of the finer details of his or her work. All in all, it’s one big social event that introduces everyone to the scintillating and colorful world of art.
According to our readers, a good place to start (or end) the evening is The Ashland Art Center at 357 E. Main
Other fun places include:

  • Bohemia Framing & Fine Art, located at 552 A Street.
  • Hanson Howard Gallery (89 Oak Street).
  • Ashland Art Works at 291 Oak.
  • Plaza Salon in the Claycomb Plaza.
  • The Black Sheep aerial performances.
  • Gathering Glass (322 N. Pioneer).
  • Gallerie Karon at 4th and A.
  • Illahe Gallery (215 4th).
  • Adelante Gallery & Tea House at 88 N. Main.


Taking down the top spot in this category was Charlotte Abernethy, who works out of her studio in Ashland. She is best known as a pastelist but has begun to work in both oils and acrylics as well.
The list also included:

  • Denise Kester.
  • Toni DeMello.
  • Yang Yu.
  • Roberta Reagan.
  • Judy Howard.
  • Scott Carlson.


It will be celebrating its twelfth year in April, bringing to town movie producers, directors and actors—and their films—dedicated to the art of entertainment and education. It has quickly become one of the premier independent film festivals on the West Coast, enjoyed by locals and out-of-towners both.
Every year, over 80 movies are presented, so this category is a tough one to pin down. According to our readers, though, they loved The Welcome, a documentary which brought together twenty veterans and their families (from Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam) in 2008 for a five-day healing retreat in southern Oregon.
The Top Five included:

  • Almost Kings, Max Doty’s story of an awkward high school freshman.
  • Hot Coffee, Susan Saladoff’s documentary on frivolous lawsuits.
  • Louder Than a Bomb, a documentary about the world’s largest youth poetry slam.
  • How to Die in Oregon, a documentary about Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide law.


In 2001 founders Sharon & John Javna and Dave & Marge Bernard opened ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum, and it is now home to nearly 100 interactive exhibits “that encourage children and adults to learn about various scientific principles.”
A number of shows and exhibits were named by our readers, but they were especially fond of Hot Wheels Weekend, in which kids built ramps, jumps, slimepits, etc., in a “kid-powered weekend of fuel-injected fun.”
Also popular:

  • Discovery Island.
  • Black Bear Garden.
  • ExploraZone.


The City Parks & Recs Commission really stepped up to the plate last summer when they gave special permission to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to build a temporary 600-seat stage inside a tent after a beam at the Angus Bowmer Theatre cracked last June. Maintaining the integrity of the natural beauty of the park was paramount, and after it was all over, the stage’s footprint was negligible.
The answers to this were all over the place, because when it comes to everyone’s favorite park, it’s hard to pick one thing as your favorite. Most mentioned, however, was the outstanding system of walking trails throughout, followed by:

  • The Japanese Gardens,
  • The Upper Duck Pond.
  • The changing colors in the fall.
  • Ashland Creek.
  • The playground.
  • No dogs.
  • The skating rink.


While the rest of the state goes crazy over the Ducks, Beavers, and Super Bowl, we in Ashland prefer to keep things local. Our readers voted both SOU football and AHS football as their favorite sporting events.
The list also included:

  • Big Al’s tennis tournament.
  • The Spring Thaw bike race.
  • The Fourth of July run.
  • SOU volleyball.
  • YMCA soccer.


It was a little controversial this year after the Chamber floated an idea to downgrade the parade to an interactive kids event. They didn’t realize how popular the parade was with everyone, and they soon relented. This year’s event featured thousands of participants, and readers once again voted The Thriller Dance as their favorite, although the Samba Band came in a close second.


I love the bumper sticker that says, “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy bombs.” Money drives the world, but when you’re a struggling non-profit agency with a mission to improve society’s quality of life, you sometimes have to get creative.
In that regard our readers most often mentioned the Puss ‘n’ Boots Halloween Ball, hosted every year as a fundraiser for Friends of the Animal Shelter.
Also mentioned were:

  • The Siskiyou Challenge, a bicycle relay race for Rogue Valley Farm to School.
  • Play 4 Change, a fundraiser at Ashland Tennis & Fitness for the Jackson County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).
  • Monster Dash, a race sponsored by Kiwanis with profits going to the Ashland Schools Foundation.


Winning this category in a runaway was the Ashland Food Project, which organizes neighborhoods to help collect food for the local Food Bank.
Others receiving lots of votes were:

  • Jackson County Sexual Assault Response Team.
  • ACCESS, the Community Action Agency of Josephine County.
  • YMCA.
  • Ashland Independent Film Festival.
  • KS Wild, an environmental group.


Once the mood hits, you don’t need Lady Gaga or Madonna screaming at you to get on the dance floor. You just need great music, plenty of room to shake a leg, and some fun people to dance with. According to our readers, the best place to do that was at both Alex’s on the Plaza; and at Tabu (76 N. Pioneer), especially during their Saturday night salsa dancing.
Other great places to dance are:

  • Taroko.
  • The DanceSpace.
  • Vinyl Club.
  • The Contra Dance each month.


It was an exciting year for local theater, from crazed serial killers on the Camelot stage to some marvelous singers at Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Our readers were able to mention quite a few nominees. So the envelope please, for “Best Play.” And it is … What a Glorious Feeling, the Oregon Cabaret Theatre production that featured a behind-the-scenes look with Gene Kelly during the filming of Singing in the Rain.
Others high on the list were:

  • Sweeney Todd at Camelot.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel at Camelot.
  • The Marvelous Wonderettes at OCT.
  • Funny Girl at Camelot.
  • The Sunshine Boys at Camelot.
  • Tomatoes by Ashland Contemporary Theatre.
  • Chicago at Ashland High School.
  • Talley’s Folly by Next Stage Rep Company at the Craterian in Medford.
  • Holmes & Watson Save the World at OCT.
  • King Lear at SOU.


His presence on the stage was all-encompassing as Netanel Bellaishe sang and danced his way into the hearts of audience and Sneak Preview readers alike in OCT’s production of What a Glorious Feeling.
He was joined in the balloting by:

  • Don Matthews for his role as the crazed barber in Camelot’s Sweeney Todd.
  • Paul R. Jones in Camelot’s Sunshine Boys.
  • John Leistner for his roles in OCT’s Daly News and What a Glorious Feeling.
  • Will Cooper in Ashland Community Theatre’s Tomatoes.
  • Barry Kraft in SOU’s King Lear.
  • Peter Alzado in Next Stage’s Talley’s Folly.
  • Mark Ropers for Camelot’s Funny Girl.


The women’s side of the ledger was a little harder for our readers to decide, but in the end it was won by Rose Passione for her work in Camelot’s Funny Girl, which played last spring.
She was followed closely by:

  • Kelly Jean Hammond in Camelot’s Scarlet Pimpernel.
  • Shaeny Johnson in OCT’s Marvelous Wonderettes.
  • Katie Worley in OCT’s What a Glorious Feeling.
  • Shirley Patton in ACT’s Tomatoes.
  • Renee Hewitt in Camelot’s Crimes of the Heart.
  • Audra Cramer in OCT’s Marvelous Wonderettes.


What a year for the Festival! A beam at the Bowmer cracked in June, and alternate sites had to be found for the plays, including a 600-seat tent that was erected in Lithia Park. Through it all, the play went on. I, for one, would have loved to have seen August: Osage County, which won the balloting this year, on the stage in the tent. I did see it in the Bowmer, and I’d have to agree with our readers that it was outstanding.
The Top Five in this category were:

  • The Pirates of Penzance.
  • Imaginary Invalid.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Julius Caesar.


There were quite a few nominees in the category, with David Kelly winning for his performance as Major-General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance.
Other notable performances included:

  • Christopher Liam Moore in Ghost Light.
  • Danforth Comins as Mark Antony in Julius Caesar.
  • Michael Winters as Falstaff in Henry IV, Part II.
  • Michael Elich as the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance.


This was a runaway as Judith M. Bergen won for her role as Violet Weston in August: Osage County, followed by:

  • Vilma Silva in Julius Caesar.
  • Robynn Rodriguez as Barbara in August: Osage County.
  • Nell Geisslinger as Louison in The Imaginary Invalid.


There were quite a few mentioned, both Off-Bardway and at the Festival, with the top nod going to Christopher Liam Moore for OSF’s August: Osage County.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Gwen Overland for Camelot’s Sweeney Todd and the Sunshine Boys.
  • Bill Rauch for OSF’s The Pirates of Penzance.
  • Christopher George Patterson for OCT’s What a Glorious Feeling.
  • Livia Genise for Camelot’s Funny Girl.


Whether they’re kickin’ out the jams with rock ‘n’ roll or waltzing away with classical tunes, local musicians entertain us on a daily basis with their talents and creativity. A number of them were named by our readers, including this year’s winner Pat O’Scannell, lead singer for the band Cover Art, who also presents musical reviews of Edith Piaf and songs from the Roaring 20s on a regular basis at the Avalon. Pat was musical director of the Green Show at the Festival for a number of years.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Robbie DaCosta.
  • Karen Lovely.
  • Ed Dunsavage.
  • Leslie Kendall.
  • Jeff Pevar.
  • Sarah Jane Nelson.
  • Alice DiMicele.


It’s actually kind of hard to define exactly what rock ‘n’ roll is. Some think it’s rockabilly, others heavy metal, and some think of pop music or even the Motown sound. Whatever; it’s a meaningless argument. If it rocks your world … that’s all that counts.
Walking away with top honors in this category for 2012 was The Karen Lovely Band, who can be seen at Alex’s every month or so when they’re not on tour. The top three were pretty close, and they included:

  • The Rogue Suspects.
  • The Robbie DaCosta Band.
  • Others receiving votes were:
  • Love Bite.
  • David Pinsky’s The Rhythm Kings.
  • Hamfist.


Jazz originated in New Orleans, migrated to Chicago and New York, and eventually took over the entire world. Locally we have a number of jazz bands to soothe our souls, including this year’s winner, The Ed Dunsavage Band.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Gabe Young Trio.
  • Smokey Red.
  • Leslie Kendall.
  • Paul Schmeling Band.
  • Dave Scoggins Trio.


The scene for live music in Ashland is not overwhelming, but there are still a few places where you can party with live music. The number one spot according to our readers is still Alex’s on the Plaza, where owner Charles Tobey brings in bands every weekend.
The list included:

  • Avalon in Talent.
  • Wild Goose.
  • Roscoe’s.
  • Martino’s.
  • Tabu.
  • Liquid Assets.


It may not be the biggest parade in southern Oregon, but it’s certainly the most fun, as the creativity and humor of the participants are on constant display. Last year the audience was treated to an entry of people dressed up as deer, carrying signs such as “eat more elk,” “fear the deer,” and “down with fences.” The Volundeer entry was named grand winner in the parade, and our readers concurred with that sentiment.
The list of favorites also featured:

  • The jets flying over.
  • The samba band, with special mention given to dancer Alonzo Moore.
  • The hula dancers.
  • The bagpipe players.
  • The beer garden in the park.


Well, it’s obvious that there are plenty of bars and nightclubs in Ashland, since our readers mentioned 22 in this survey. Just to spread around the wealth, I’m going to name the top three in each category as the winners.
And when you want to unwind after work, our readers mentioned Alex’s on the Plaza; Standing Stone; and Oak Tree as number one.
The Top Thirteen included:

  • Black Sheep.
  • Caldera Tap House.
  • Omar’s.
  • Tabu.
  • Wild Goose.
  • Louie’s.
  • Paddy Brannan’s.
  • Red Zone.
  • Martino’s.
  • Creekside.


It’s probably not something you want to do every night, but hitting the bars to connect with friends can be very healthy when practiced in moderation. There, that’s my public service message for the day.
And when it comes to fun bars where friends can meet late at night, there was a three-way tie between the Creekside; Black Sheep; and Thai Pepper Satay Bar.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Martino’s.
  • The Beau Club.
  • Alex’s.
  • iPub.
  • Paddy Brannan’s.
  • Omar’s.
  • Tabu.
  • Taroko.


Bars aren’t all loud music, football games on TV, pool tables and raucous laughter. There are also places where you can relax and have a refreshing drink while carrying on a scintillating conversation with your significant other or close friends. Topping the list in this category was Martino’s; Liquid Assets; and Peerless, followed by:

  • Chateaulin.
  • Winchester Inn.
  • Smithfield’s.
  • Kobe.
  • Tabu.
  • Alex’s.


Sports bars are growing in popularity all over the country, and here in Ashland two of them dominate the scene, with the new kid on the block, The Red Zone (at the corner of 2nd and East Main), edging out Louie’s on the Plaza.
Other favorites are:

  • Omar’s.
  • Oak Tree.
  • Northwest Pizza & Pasta.
  • Paddy Brannan’s.
  • Creekside.


The Tuesday Growers Market at the Ashland Armory on East Main, and the Saturday Market downtown on Oak Street have evolved into not only great places to buy fresh produce and crafts, but a social scene and gathering place for many in the community.
The variety at the market is endless, but our readers most appreciated the selection of organic produce that was available. Also important are:

  • Pennington Farms.
  • Fry Family Farms.
  • The donuts.
  • The live music.
  • Carol the sprout lady.
  • Sunstone Bakery products.
  • Tamales.


All of the courses in Jackson County received some recognition by our readers, and there was a lot of loyalty involved in their final selection of Oak Knoll Golf Course, a beautiful, 9-hole course located just east of Ashland.
The list also included:

  • Stoneridge.
  • Centennial.
  • Eagle Point.
  • Stewart Meadows.
  • Quail Point.
  • The RV Country Club.


Loyalty again served the day in this category, as Weisinger’s of Ashland was named number one, followed by:

  • RoxyAnn.
  • Paschal.
  • Woolridge.
  • Troon.
  • Slagle Creek.
  • Grizzly Peak.
  • Pebblestone.
  • Valley View Vineyard.

    There we go … 144 categories and another year under my belt. Looking forward to 2013! If you have any suggestions for new entries next year, write to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. —C.H.