AREA modern home is a welcome addition to downtown Durham.

Atomic EmpireIt’s more than just an awesome comic shop, more than a great place to get local beer on tap, more than a place to hang out and game with friendsit’s all of those things and more in one place!

Back Alley BikesJason and his small staff work hard to keep the oldest, gnarliest bikes on the road, but they can do fancy with the best of them. And Basta is the coolest shop dog in the world, bar none.

Nothing better than wings at Ba-Da Wings at midnight!

Dave and Christy Chapman at Bean Traders are the best. They have created a wonderful community at their coffee shop. They are always trying new things (new vendors, new food, live music).

I have been taking my Volvo to Becker Automotive for more than 20 years. Frank and Neil are great!!!

Beer Study makes the genius move of combining a fun and relaxed atmosphere to sample frequently rotating taps while exploring an extensive bottle inventory. The best of both worlds of beer!

Bella Monica has a terrific and fun atmosphere. Everyone welcomes you and makes you feel like any night is a celebration, even if it’s just a regular Tuesday night.

Bin 54The very best meat experience you can have before the zombie apocalypse.

The Bleu Olive is a smaller, more intimate version of the old Papas Grille. The ambience is completely different, more beautiful and modern. The service is superb and professional, and the food is melt-in-your-mouth good!

The Blue Note Grill in Durham has live music seven days a week, plus great ribs and BBQ, burgers and salads. Family owned and operated, it’s got a great following … like Cheers with live music and dancing!

Boer Brothers Heating & Cooling were so great even my dogs loved them! The guy who came to my house gave them dog treats!

Bottle Revolution is the bee’s knees!

The Bridge Bus rocks! Late-night between two great cities with the best music and food.

Love the sophisticated and European feel of Brightleaf Square. Why don’t more exist all around the area?

Bull City Burger is outrageously delicious. I always leave full and satisfied.

Heather, Jen and the staff at Bull City Pet Sitting are the only reason my dog gets up in the morning!

What can I say about Bull McCabes? It’s my home away from home, my escape and my sweet alcohol-related release. The staff, which after your third visit is already family, is unbelievably friendly.

Capital Club 16 is my vote for so many restaurant categories! This establishment continues to have great food, eclectic atmosphere, amazing waitstaff and all-around heart.

Carmen’s has the best Cuban food and the greatest salsa dancing. The instructor, Betto, is just amazing, and we always have a great night!

The staff at Carrabba’s on Capital Boulevard has never disappointed us.

The Carrack is the best local art gallery by so much it is not even close. Art is the primary mission. Community is the secondary mission. They get it. There is far more to art than just profits.

The vets and staff at Carrboro Plaza have literally become part of our extended family. They are not only competent but also warm, kind and comforting. They are as good with pets as they are with people.

Chapel Hill Moving Company has been in business for more than 30 years. They not only move your belongings with gentility, they also show grace and compassion when moving people who might be getting divorced and in an emotional abyss.

Best dumplings outside of TaiwanChirba Chirba food truck!

The City Tap in PittsboroFive-star service with small-town appeal. Great selections of local draft beer plus all the standard bottled favorites, primo menu, live music, best company you care to meet.

Core Results offers fantastic personal training sessions. Josh will whip you into shape before you know it! And he is very good about tailoring the workouts based on your needs and your restrictions. And it is FUN!

Cosmic CantinaThere has got to be one in heaven or I don’t want to go.

I would not have survived the 2012 election without Cup A Joe in Raleigh. Iced King Hazelnut Lattes every day at 1 p.m. The best non-judgmental coffee shop I’ve ever been to!

Cute ButtonsAlways cute gifts and you gotta love Tiki the cat!

I always crave pierogies from Dain’s Place late at night!

Dame’s Chicken & Wafflesit sounds weird but it will blow you away.

Deli-icious brings amazing flavors to paninis. Who else puts a poached pear on a sandwich?

This year my favorites were in Hillsborough. The vibrancy that has overtaken the small town is amazing. Recent establishments such as The Depot and Mystery Brewing have augmented the energy of the town while keeping its historical aesthetic.

Our Irish setter Lucy watched my voting to be sure I checked Doggie Spa & Day Care; she won’t vacation anywhere else!

Case of the Mondays? Hit up $5 margs at Dos Perros. Turn that frown upside down!

DoveFox Studios is a promising and inspiring new tutoring company. The instructors really helped me through some hard times, so I will always support DFS.

Dulce Cafe has the most beautiful desserts I’ve seen in this countrythey could rival those I’ve seen in Paris. The care and quality that goes into the food there shows that the chef really takes pride in the place.

OH MAN! Escazu‘s chocolate is off the chain!

Thank goodness for The Fiction Kitchen. Finally, a restaurant with vegan and vegetarian options that are not an afterthought.

The awards you see on the wall at Fiesta Grill can’t touch the award you’ll get on the table. Worth the drive and the wait, every time.

Game Theory is the best, most welcoming gaming store I’ve ever been to in my life, with an amazing community.

Going to Gourmutt’s Bakery is such a treat! They shower so much love and attention on my dog every time we walk in.

My dog nearly pulls my shoulder out of its socket when she spots Happy Tails!!

The Justice Theater Project provides consistent professional theater with great discussion opportunities, and it provides community service partnerships all over the Triangle.

The K9 Kabana is truly a resort for dogs. My dog has a ball there. Has too much fun to miss us. And soo affordable.

KoKyu is absolutely amazing. The fact that the quality of their food is coming from a truck is mind-boggling. I literally can’t wait to come back immediately after stuffing my facehole.

I love seeing the Larry’s Beans veggie bus around the Trianglealways makes me smile!

Lilly’s Pizza will go down in history as the best food ever to grace the earth.

Emily at The London Bridge Pub is full of sass and loves when you bring her candy.

Mindful Massage owned by Michael Barriskill is a fantastic new massage practice!

Monuts Donuts. Seriously. The best.

I absolutely love Moshi Moshi‘s Durham location: huge windows, lots of natural light, and my stylist Alissa not only does great hair, she’s a great person. Ahhh…

Motorco is my happy placekids, dogs, beer, hipsters and live music, all living in harmony.

Mystery Brewing‘s made me like beer. I could drink Gentlemen’s Preference blond ale all day!

Neomonde is hands down the best Mediterranean food I have ever had! My brother moved to Washington, D.C., 10 years ago, and I still have to bring him Neomonde when I come visit!

Oak City Cycling Project will not only help you find the perfect new or used bike, they also are huge supporters of the local community.

Lee McFarland at Oak City Tattoo & Piercing is wonderful! He makes you feel right at home. Never has having holes punched through your skin been such a pleasant experience.

Oakleaf restaurant in Pittsboro has done for food what corn did for bourbon. You can have one without the other, but why would you?

Old Havana Sandwich Shop is a gem on East Main Street waiting to be discovered. Roberto and Elizabeth treat their food and their patrons with passion and love.


Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse has the best atmosphere and waitstaff of any small club in the area. Everything on their menu is great, and they consistently bring in great blues acts to blow the roof off.

Parker and Otis fits many of the Best Of categoriesbiscuit, staff, gifts, lunch and more. Consider adding them for Best Deviled Egg.

The Parlour is a place I originally only heard of online, noting them as successful Kickstarter campaigners. I admire their courage and inspiring story. Of course the ice cream’s amazing too; mango sorbet is my favorite!

Pizzeria Toro is far out in all the right ways. Soft egg, oyster mushroom and arugula pizza FOR THE WIN.

Plant Delights is ABSOLUTELY the BEST! Great plants, fantastic service, funniest owner evercheck their online catalog for incredible plants and laughs.

The Purple Polka Dot is the coolest store! It has so many options: clothes, furniture, jewelry, accents, gifts … whatever you want, it’s got it! Locally owned and operated and a fabulous place to shop!

Quail Ridge Books & Music is a great place that cares about your relationship with books. The author visits and book signings are a wonderful treat for young and old alike!

Raleigh Little Theatre has had a real resurgence in popularity because of the new contemporary offerings and new leadership.

The Raleigh Times Bar is my favorite because of the nightlife and nachos!

Relish is one of the best-kept secrets in North Raleigh. Definitely worth a visit! … Darn, why did I tell you? Now everyone will want to go.

Rise above all else. Craft meets biscuit and donut and we win. So tasty and fun. Dunkin who? Well done, Rise, well done.

The Sacrificial Poets open mic is truly one of a kind. No other event in this area allows community members from all backgrounds to stand together, have a voice and be heard. Power of the people in action. Truly amazing.

Eating at Saint Jacques is like a trip to Southern France.

Deanna at Saladelia Cafe at Hock Plaza is amazing. She keeps things moving at a busy coffee shop in an office building and manages to remember everyone’s names and usual orders/favorites. All that with a smile, always.

Schoolhouse of Wonder gets kids into nature to help them become fully realized. A great place to get your kids out into the woods and learning old-school nature skills!

Scratch has never let me down for breakfast or lunch. Sometimes I order something that sounds like it won’t be good and it’s great.

SHE Design works with clients who are making a difference in the world. And their work is brilliant!

Simple Bliss Spa & Salon has the warmest atmosphere, and the massages there are soooooo goooood!

Small B&B Cafe is the place to enjoy the best cornmeal crust quiche and homemade chai on a sunny morning, all while sittin’ in a rocking chair on a front porch in the center of Pittsboro.

Southpoint Animal Hospitalcutting edge AND compassionatea vet hospital that really cares.

Sugarlandom nom nom.

SYNCSTUDIO fosters a sense of community within its member base and supports local businesses in Durham during its annual block partynot to mention that the workouts are AMAZING and the instructors generate an environment where you want to be.

Tangerine Clean does an impeccable job cleaning your house. They use natural products. And they are a cooperative.

Tasty Beverage Company has top-notch staff and is always showing care and kindness to all of their patrons. Also, the rotating selection and cleanliness of the store is FLAWLESS.

Best Pet Daycare: Team Happy Dog. Jake Jacobson takes a very hands-on approach. The dogs get lots of hiking and swimming plus plenty of love.

Toast has world-class food in a simple, inexpensive format.

Tomato Jake’s is the closest thing to Northeast pizza that I’ve had in the Triangle.

Top of the Hill has a great atmosphere, from relaxing evening dinners to UNC-Duke basketball viewing parties on the patio to late-night DJ dance parties.

Triangle Food Guy is my source for everything that is happening in the restaurants and food trucks in the Triangle … he knows everything!

Triangle Green Cleaning has a wonderful customer service attitude. They are truly a green company that lives up to their name. They do a wonderful job, and my house smells so good when they are done. I love that they make their own cleaners.

Triangle Krav Maga in Durham is a kick-ass place to learn how to defend yourself.

TROSAbecause they have excellent customer service and I am helping to save lives by hiring them.

Ultimate Comics is the best place for comic enthusiasts due to their amazing staff, spectacular stuff and invincible events.

Urban Durham Realty is a company that really puts its money where its mouth is. They are such active contributors to Durham and have aided in Durham’s revitalization effort.

Vert & Vogue is a wonderful place to find timeless, well-crafted pieces to add to your clothing collection. The staff is wonderful and friendly, and you can feel good about the social and environmental impact of your purchases.

Videri Chocolate Factory is a great chocolate company.

Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe serves delicious, authentic Indian food and is committed to social justice and sustainability … what could be better?

The Wake Forest Dairy DepotLocally owned, and hands-down best sundaes including a Krispy Kreme sundae.

Watts Grocery: Hands down, best spot for brunch.

Wine Authorities was the best part of living in Durhamand it’s the reason why I make the trek from Apex every Saturday I can now!

WKNC might be the best thing that has ever hit my windshield. And I’m pretty keen on The Pinhook as well.

Womancraft is one of the Triangle’s best-kept secrets. Locally made crafts at a reasonable cost, plus the artist may be the person behind the counter!

You want to believe The Umstead isn’t worth the money, but then you go to the spa, dine at Herons, or sip cocktails or afternoon tea, and you feel it is worth every penny and promise yourself you’ll go back.

yarns etc… in Chapel Hill is the greatest knitting community ever!

Zog’s is the most chill, low-profile dive bar in town.

Best New Business is becoming more difficult to vote on each year because so many wonderful new eateries are constantly opening up in downtown Durham. I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2013 has in store for us!