Best of Grants Pass 2012

Before jumping into this 26th annual readers' survey, let's review some of the more momentous events of the last year. In a supreme example of irony, two female political figures—County Commissioner Sandi Cassanelli and City Manager Laurel Samson—were ousted from their jobs. Now, to fill the gender void, two women are running for the open County Commissioner spots. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

We did a special report in November about dwindling funds at the Animal Control Center. That facility is something I think most people feel is important to the community. The commissioners could put an extremely small tax increase on the ballot to pay for the Animal Shelter, and I think it would pass.

It took about a month, but in December the toxic oil spill at the River Road Reserve got a cleanup. The area next to it is part of the Josephine County Food Bank, but unless the City wins the lottery, the rest of the 248 acres won't be developed anytime in the near future.

In February, we reported on the County's efforts to supplement its dwindling finances by advocating a Forest Management Plan that would set aside "x" acres of forest land for conservation and "y" acres for timber harvesting. It may be a few years away, but the plan has the potential to replace all the lost federal largesse we used to get.

In March, we did a followup to the Raphael Amoroso story, in which we admitted that our original reporting might have been a rush to judgment. Raphael had been picked up by police in October for a DUI after seen hanging out in the high school parking lot, and a subsequent search of his home found guns and incendiary literature. His neighbors testified to his character and claimed he was being railroaded. The case is still in federal court.

In the May primary, 14 candidates vied for the two open county commissioner positions. There will be no incumbents on the ballot, as newcomers Toni Webb and Keith Heck will face off in Position 2, while Cherryl Walker and Bob Just will battle for Position 3.

In that same primary, voters soundly rejected a proposal for a property tax increase that would fund law enforcement. Then on May 31, 39 inmates were released from the Josephine County, and that night four scumbags robbed the offices of UCAN, a non-profit agency whose sole mission is to help low income people and those just barely hanging on.

Now back to more important things ... the 2012 "Best of the Rogue Valley." We received over 400 ballots this year, and we congratulate everyone who took the time to fill them out. Those who only answered three or four categories were put into the "suspicious" stack, but everyone else did an admirable job.

The reason we have 144 categories is because we want to try and recognize as many people, businesses and organizations as possible. We like to spread the wealth around. That being said, let's proceed.


We asked the question, "Favorite TV Show," 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: The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, Dancing with the Stars, House Hunters, Modern Family, American Idol and Downton Abbey. It's obviously a very well-rounded group of respondents.



I went on Google and typed in "Radio Stations Grants Pass Oregon," and unbelievably there are 51 of them in the region, from Cave Junction to Hornbrook. Make that 52 since the list did not include Don Monette's new station KCMD.

Anyway, taking down top honors again in the category were the friendly folks over at KLDR and KAJO, which has been entertaining and informing local listeners since August 15, 1957.

  • Other favorites included:
  • Jefferson Public Radio.
  • KRRM
  • KDOV
  • KRWQ
  • KCMD


In 1959 the most famous deejay of all time, Alan Freed, lost his job at WABC in Cleveland when it was learned that he accepted money (payola) from artists to play their songs on the radio. He was basically a scapegoat since practically everyone was doing the same thing at that time.

Here in the Rogue Valley, payola is not an issue, although sometimes I feel like paying them money not to play some of the music I hear. Topping the charts for 2012 was Jeanette Stark, a stalwart at KDLR who also won this in 2000 and 2010.

The list also included:

  • Carl Wilson of KAJO
  • Cassie Callas at KLDR
  • Gemineye at KISS-FM
  • Chris Barnett at KLDR
  • Don Monette at KCMD



Every night they present a cross section of life in the Rogue Valley, from local heroes to scurrilous villains, keeping us apprised of community events as they happen.

Winning this category for the umpteenth time in a row was NewsWatch 12 (KDRV).

They were followed by KOBI/Channel 5 and KTVL (Channel 10).



One thing you can say about the Rogue Valley: we don't have to worry about hurricanes or tornadoes. Sure, we have occasional floods and fires, and the rare earthquake, but for natural disasters caused by weather, we're fairly insulated.

And when we have to rely on someone to tell us to "head to the hills," we most often turn to Scott Lewis of KKRV, Channel

Also high in the ranking were:

  • Jeff Heaton of KOBI-5
  • Kevin Lollis, KTVL-10
  • Lindsay Matherly, Channel 10
  • Milt Radford, KDRV-12


Well, heck, I just Googled "Most Distrusted Professions" and learned that politicians were number one, bankers #2, and journalists #3. Sad, isn't it? They spend their entire waking hours trying to keep you informed of the news, and this is the thanks they get.

Locally, our intrepid reporters at the Courier diligently strive to dispel that stereotype, and leading the way is Health & Business reporter Lindsay Cathey, followed by:

  • Zach Urness, sports
  • Shaun Hall, police/courts
  • Kathleen Alaks, Lifelines/Entertainment
  • Patti Richter, Education
  • Stacey Stumbo, County
  • Edith Decker, Features Editor


To all those who said "all of it," we thank you profusely, but we were hoping to break this thing down. While "The Best of the Rogue Valley" 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:

  • Kudos & Klunkers
  • The covers stories
  • Letters (and the editor's responses)
  • Business Grapevine
  • All of the ads/coupons
  • The Calendar of Events
  • Doug Beacham's articles



The vast majority of people in this country have 9-5 jobs but practically everyone "dreams" of owning their own business. It's a risky proposition, though, and if you don't do your homework, it can end ugly. Our hats are off to anyone who even attempts it.

Our readers also appreciate their efforts, naming quite a few new businesses in town, including this year's winner, The Twisted Cork, a restaurant and bottle shop located at 210 SW 6th Street (in the old Kitchen Company building).

Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Home Depot.
  • River's Edge (new and improved at 1936 Rogue River Highway)
  • Maurice's, a clothing store in the Grants Pass Shopping Center
  • Goodness Gracious Café & Catering at 221 SW G
  • MaMosa's, a restaurant the recently opened at 118 NW E
  • The Vietnamese Food Cart
  • Red Heels Salon at 221 NE D
  • Adorn Me Fashion Boutique & Gifts at 543 NE E (Suite 206)


They may technically be the CEO/boss/jefe, but most of them put in longer hours than their employees and take an active interest in every aspect of the business, from greeting customers and cleaning the bathrooms to public relations.

Landing at the top in this category for 2012 were Frank Wright and Roy Heinzle of the Kitchen Company, who have turned their store into a mecca for food lovers in southern Oregon.

The Top Ten included:

  • Cliff Bennett of Chet's
  • Brady Adams of Evergreen Federal
  • Scott and Annette Draper at Club Northwest and Spa at Club Northwest
  • Giff Gates of Gates Furniture
  • Tom Hart, Jr., at Hart Jewelers
  • Dave Thomason at Taprock Northwest Grill
  • Steve Roe at Roe Motors GM
  • Michelle Belcher of Grants Pass Pharmacy
  • Rick Chapman of Plaza Sew 'n' Vac


We all remember that first day of elementary school. Landing on the moon would have been infinitely easier—at least there wouldn't have been scary-looking figures of authority ready to swallow you up for every little mistake. Then you met your first teacher, and he/she immediately put you at ease, introduced you to fellow classmates, and the vistas of a new life suddenly opened up.

Quite a few teachers were mentioned in this category, including this year's winner Connie Hagerman, a first grade teacher at Lincoln.

Others receiving lots of votes were:

  • Carla Healey, a kindergarten teacher at Allendale
  • Holly Rousaville, a Title 1 teacher at Allendale
  • Abby Harden, first grade at Redwood
  • Kelly Moodie, music teacher at Lincoln
  • Laura Richardson, second grade teacher at Riverside


On the Three Rivers School District side of the ledger, the winner was Sharon Fisher, a 2nd grade teacher at Madrona, followed by:

  • Cecilia McKee, kindergarten teacher at Jerome Prairie
  • Kari O'Brien, 3rd grade at Ft. Vannoy
  • Carrie Simpson, 3rd grade at Madrona


In first grade, you see men and women going around sweeping up the halls and cleaning your rooms, and you think to yourself, "I thought Mom was supposed to do that!" Just kidding, of course.

Sweeping the honors in the category for 2012 was Mike DeLay, head custodian at Jerome Prairie Elementary.


To the enterprising writer who requested that we add the category, "Favorite Brain Bowl Participant" or "Favorite Math Club Member," all we can say is, "Maybe next year." For now, we're sticking with the athletes. And in that category, GPHS baseball player Matt Cole took down top honors, followed by:

  • Tony Shriven, GPHS basketball
  • Chad Lowe, GPHS football
  • Rashaun Sells, GPHS softball
  • Tyler Bennett, GPHS baseball


Rogue Community College was established in November 1970 by the voters of Josephine County. In 1996 the boundaries were extended to include all of Jackson County, and today it "provides a wide range of educational programs, job-training opportunities, and greater college access for students throughout the Rogue Valley."

The faculty, of course, is excellent, and our readers recognized quite a few including this year's winner, Midge Shaw, in the Humanities Department.

The list also included:

  • Wayd Drake, Humanities and Drama
  • Sandy Contreras, Health/PE
  • Cynthia Charat, Humanities
  • Debbie McLennan, Mathematics
  • Ann Hackford, Nursing


It may cause a panic attack just thinking about dental work, but taking care of your teeth is one of the best investments you can make when it comes to eliminating pain down the line. Just ask my third molar, which I had to have removed while in basic training in the army.

The ballots were coming in fast and furious with this category, and bunched up at the top was a 3-way tie between Don Lanahan, Steven Rogers and Matt Hill, followed by:

  • Greg Bigelow
  • Richard Miller
  • Peter Pastrell
  • Matt Johnston
  • Mart Erickson
  • Sara Riechers
  • Michelle Johnson
  • Tim Dwyer
  • Ray Sutton.


It's one of mankind's higher calling—spending your life making sure that we all stay healthy and then healing us when things turn south. Our readers certainly appreciate their efforts, as they named 35 different doctors in this survey.

Topping the charts this year was Heather Kahn, a family practitioner who also won this category in 2007.

Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Edmund Glovinsky, DO
  • Tamara Medley at the Women's Health Center
  • Dan Gleffe, family practitioner
  • Eric Perry, MD
  • Ron Sinclair, MD
  • Felicia Cohen, OB/GYN
  • Derrick Sorweide, DO
  • Ed Groenhout, MD


Occram's Razor tells you to always search for the simplest solution to any problem. That stomach ache you have might not be an ulcer which requires surgery; it just might be an imbalance of beneficial flora in your bowels which needs some adjustment. That is the whole basis behind naturopathy, and when our readers are looking for their favorites, they most often chose Ellen Heinitz and Kristen Plunkett of the Naturopathic Clinic.

Acupuncture, meanwhile, is an alternative medicine methodology that originated in ancient China 2500 years ago ... you know, when Europeans were living in crude huts without a clue about medicine other than herbal remedies.

Our readers were able to name most of the area's acupuncturists in this survey, reserving their number one choice for Janet Moret of River of Wellness.


It was a long day of unloading anvils, safes and refrigerators at the factory, and your back seems a little out of whack. Where to go? Our readers most often chose both Glen Litwiller and Edward Welch as their favorite, followed by:

  • Owen Martin
  • Kevin Teagle
  • Ryan Baker
  • David Krauss
  • David Willing
  • Todd Harris


You were on your way to meet the future in-laws for the first time, and your significant other insisted that you ride in his convertible with the top down. "Come on honey, it will fun." By the time you got there, you looked like you'd just crawled out of a dipsy dumpster. Desperate, you called your favorite hair stylist for a quick once-over.

And when it comes to making sure your hair always looks perfect, our readers were able to name 39 different hair stylists. So once again, we're going with a three-way standoff between Kathy Johnson at Roberta's Shear Pleasure; Amy Taradash at the Spa at Club Northwest; and Ashley Lawson at RockStar Hair Studio.

The top of the list also included:

  • Carrol Oyler of Carrol's Image Connection
  • Ron Gillaspie at Gillaspie's Hair Design
  • Shawna Maddox at Shine
  • Traci Brown of Personal Touch
  • Sally Roudebush, Progressive Beauty Center
  • Linda Whalen of Action Hair Designs


Okay, I hang my head in shame for labeling this category "Best Place to Get Medicures/Pedicures." My proofreader (wife) didn't even catch it. And what's amazing is that back in 2010 when we ran this category, the same mistake was made. And to everyone who circled "medicures" with about nineteen exclamation points, thank you for your attention to details.

Anyway, who are our readers most impressed with when it comes to manicures/pedicures? The number one choice was Forever Nails, located at 1634 Williams Highway, followed closely by Spa at Club Northwest.

Others bunched up near the top were:

  • Ambiance Hair & Nail Studio
  • Da-Vi Nails
  • Avenue Salon
  • En Vogue
  • La Belle Vie Salon
  • Indulgence


America has a love affair with their automobiles and when the relationship goes sour, you both agree to talk to a therapist, in this case your mechanic. "He doesn't give me enough oil," the car complains. "She doesn't give good gas mileage," you counter. Being a professional, the mechanic puts you both back on track.

Winning this category for 2012 was Ken Cook of The Shop.

The field was very crowded, however, and the top vote-getters included:

  • Tom Hill at Tom's Auto
  • Jim Lefeber at Star Automotive
  • Larry Anberg at Revolvo West
  • Gary Smerdon
  • Frank Miranda at Extreme Auto
  • Huck Webb of Huck's Garage
  • Mike Dunbar of Bridge Street Auto


As much as you want to, sometimes you just don't have the money to spring for a brand new car. Buying a used car is chancy, however, because you never know if the previous owner used it to go fishing at the tip of the Baja every spring. That's where a knowledgeable car salesman comes in handy.

  • And in this category, the friendly folks at Mock's Ford came in first, followed by:
  • Roe Motors GM
  • Wheeler Toyota
  • Quality Used Cars
  • Jim Sigel
  • Best Used Cars
  • And craigslist


The vulcanization of rubber was developed by Charles Goodyear in the year 1839, and the first practical pneumatic tire was developed by John Boyd in Ireland in 1887 to "prevent the headaches his son had while riding a bicycle on rough roads." By the 1920s synthetic rubber was developed in the laboratories at Bayer, and today over one billion tires are produced annually in over 400 tire factories.

A certain percentage of them end up here in Grants Pass, and according to our readers the best place to buy them is at Les Schwab, with two locations at 1694 NW 6th and 320 Union Avenue.

They were followed in the balloting by:

  • Expert Tire
  • Towne Center Tire Factory
  • Quick Lane Tire & Auto
  • River City Auto & Tire


You really didn't mean to burn the neighbor's house down when the charcoal grill got out of control. It was the neighbor's fault for not properly pruning his shrubs and leaving combustible material on the ground. He sued you anyway, so where do you go? Many of our readers most often named Jack Davis, followed by:

  • Chris Mecca
  • Ben Freudenberg
  • Lynn Myrick
  • Jim Dole
  • Claudia Browne
  • Walt Cauble
  • Dan Hughes
  • Richard Lane


Here's a rhetorical question: do policemen get a panic attack when they're off duty and driving 74 miles an hour down the Interstate and see a police car off to the side with a radar gun? Kind of like does a tree falling in the forest make a noise if no one is around to hear it? Just askin'.

Anyway, our readers were able to put the radar gun on 19 different officers this year, including the year's winner, Officer Joe Robles of Grants Pass Public Safety.

Others high in the standings were:

  • GP Public Safety Director Joe Henner
  • GP Officer Scott Hyde
  • GP Community Service Officer Lyle Brown
  • GP Officer Pete Jenista
  • Sheriff Gil Gilbertson
  • County patrol officer Joel Heller


Okay, you just won the lottery, and you're trying to decide where to invest that $35 you got on the scratch-off ticket. Just kidding ... let's assume just for assuming sake, that the amount was $1 million. Who would you turn to for advice? Our readers were all over the board on this one, naming quite a few. In the end, Ken Guerra of Independent Financial Group was the top vote-getter. He was followed by:

  • Jeff Voigt of Pfs Investments
  • Jon Mainard of Financial Network Investment
  • Rick Wilson of Ameriprise Financial Services
  • Brian Sachs of Edward Jones
  • John Beckstead of Edward Jones
  • Rodger Jordan of Lpl Financial
  • Jason Lewis of Allstate Financial Services
  • Nelson Maler of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney


Having your dog or cat come down sick is almost as painful as when it happens to you. When my cat Mau Mau lost four kittens giving birth in the vet's office three years ago, I was freaking out that something might happen to her. A great vet is worth his or her weight in gold.

There were quite a few bunched up at the top, so we'll name the top four in alphabetical order.

  • Russell Codd of Lincoln Road Vet Clinic
  • Heidi Buehner-McKenzie of Allen Creek Vet Hospital
  • Ron Guzman of Riverside Vet Clinic
  • Jean Manhart of Pacific Vet

Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Bob Cole of the Animal Clinic
  • Lorain Abel of Cedarview Vet Hospital
  • Charles Meyer of Applegate Animal Clinic


Back when I first visited Grants Pass in 1976 there were about five restaurants in town. Today, there are over one hundred, and I think that's a good thing. A little healthy competition is what keeps restaurant owners on their toes.

Our readers agree, and they named 25 different people in this survey, with the top nod going to Bob and Darla Feil of the Train Depot. Bob and Darla also did a service to the community recently by re-opening River's Edge on the banks of the Rogue River.

Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Dave Thomason of Taprock and Elmer's
  • Emilio Guerrero of El Patron
  • Gwen and Tawni Hendricks of The Vine
  • Bret Musselman of 115 Broiler
  • Tina Gotchall of the Powderhorn
  • Adam Wehab of Abu's Oasis Deli
  • Tim and Sandra Mock of Beacon Bar & Grill


These people are the ultimate multi-taskers and someone you'd want in a foxhole during a battle. They have peripheral vision, engaging personalities, can handle stress, and can hold everything together when mere mortals are reaching for the razor blades.

Twenty-eight different waitpersons were mentioned in this survey, and the top choice for 2012 was Marty Thomas of River's Edge who, ironically, won for "Favorite Bartender" in last year's "Best of the Rogue Valley."

The list at the top also included:

  • Tricia Walker of Elmer's
  • Joe Gomez of G Street Bar & Grill
  • Debbie Hamblin at the Powderhorn
  • Dotti Kochis at 115 Broiler
  • Jennifer Cochran at Taprock
  • Rebecca Carpenter at Wild River
  • Melissa Carnes at Train Depot


A horse walks into a bar with a pair of jumper cables wrapped around its head. He orders a drink and the bartender says, "Okay, but don't try to start anything around here." Yeah, yeah, I know it's a lame joke but it was the best I could find on the Internet.

When you want bartenders who can really tell jokes, you merely have to visit some local favorites, like this year's winner Christian Hahn of Taprock Northwest Grille.

Other popular bartenders are:

  • Bob Lewis of The Cedarwood
  • Dennis Getz of the Wonder Bur
  • Kari Musselman of 115 Broiler


In lieu of vacuuming up three tons of dog hairs each week, it's best to just take Ralphie in and let the professionals take over. And in that regard, our readers most often named Home Away from Home Pet Spa at 100 NE Mill Street as their favorite, followed by:

  • Purr-fect Pet Grooming
  • Specialized Grooming
  • A Dog Gone Cute
  • Champion Grooming


No one really ran away with this category, and the whole thing was stressing me out, so I'm going to name the top five in alphabetical order:

  • Paige Bender
  • Kim Brouhard
  • Libby McClain
  • Michael Stattel
  • Lori Worden


Your diamond wedding ring slipped off your hand and down the drain, sending shivers down your spine. You immediately cordoned off the area with police crime tape, then called your local plumber to come to the rescue.

Who to call for that all-important job? Rick Samuelsen of Heritage Plumbing edged out a long list of excellent local plumbers, including ...

  • Matt and Dan Headley at Rogue Valley Plumbing
  • Rich Shane at Aristocrat Plumbing
  • Pat Murphy of Shamrock Plumbing
  • Mike Murphy of Murphy's Plumbing
  • Frank Rauch Plumbing
  • Michael Toch of Michael's Plumbing
  • Bill Fairhurst of Grants Pass Plumbing


That little electrical outlet in the corner just wasn't working right, so you decided to "fiddle with it" and see what was wrong. Five minutes later, after a little CPR from your wife and every hair on your body burned off, you come to the realization that maybe, just maybe, you should have called a professional.

According to our readers, you have a lot of options, starting with the guys at Pro Electric. A lot of electricians were bundled near the top, however, including:

  • Danny York of York Electric
  • Brownell's Electric
  • Norm Sky
  • Darrin Fowler
  • Tom Bormuth


Well, shoot, our expert panel of judges (my family) couldn't decide on this one. "They're all cute," was the opinion of my wife. So we are making this category of three-way tie between Ethan Blackhurst, Cole Jacoby, and Riley Arrijotti. Congratulations, kids!


You probably open and shut a refrigerator door 30-40 times a day. That means 245 times a week; 980 a month, and 11,760 a year. Appliances definitely work overtime in an average house, and it's no wonder that they sometimes break down or need servicing. Who to call? The number one choice was Tom Bange of Action Appliance, followed by:

  • Dan Biller of Biller Appliance Repair
  • Al's Refrigeration
  • Active Appliance Center


That house you bought that was painted bright pink might look good in Disneyland, but it's semi-hideous to the discerning eye. Who to turn to when you need it repainted. Brushing their way to victory this year was TM3 Painting Co., followed by:

  • Curt & Dave Healy
  • Scott Warner
  • Joe Stevens
  • Dennis' Painting
  • Bob Emery of Maranatha Painting


The Towne Center Association, the City, and the Chamber of Commerce have worked overtime the last 25 years to turn downtown Grants Pass into a happening place. With the help of some outstanding stores and restaurants, plus some well-timed promotions, they have succeeded.

Our readers agree with that analysis, as they named 25 different establishments as their favorites. And for the fourth year in a row, this event was won by The Kitchen Company, a store at 301 SE 6th Street, which caters to the chef in all of us.

The top five were close, though, and they included:

  • Blind George's
  • Never a Bum Steer
  • Savannah Faire
  • Grants Pass Pharmacy

Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Tierra del Sol
  • The Herb Shop
  • La Bella Casa
  • Oregon Outpost
  • Shop River Rock


I think next year I'm going to turn this category into "Big Store" and "Little Store." The usual suspects of Fred Meyer's, Wal-Mart, Ross and Bi-Mart were mentioned a lot, but when it came to smaller stores, the winner was Rogue River Florist, a floral/gift shop located at 789 NE 7th.

Coming in a close second was Emilia's Closet, followed by:

  • Judy's Florist & Gifts
  • Maurice's
  • Cowboy Corral
  • The Dollar Store
  • Curiosity Company
  • Field's Home Center
  • Jan's Hallmark Store
  • Probst Flower Shop


This kind of store requires a huge selection with a lot of variety, and in that regard our readers were most impressed with Hellgate's River Rock Gift Shop, located at 966 SW 6th Street.

Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Kitchen Company
  • Grants Pass Pharmacy
  • Rogue River Florist
  • La Bella Casa
  • Savannah Faire
  • Tierra del Sol
  • Never a Bum Steer


Dad is another whole animal, and topping this category was Fred Meyer's, followed by:

  • JC Penney's
  • Diamond
  • Fields Home Center
  • Sears
  • Home Depot
  • Grange Co-op


Now that I'm a grandparent, I suppose I'll be back in the game for toy buying. Three months ago I was cleaning out the attic and bundled up about 75 beanie babies for a trip to Goodwill. Ah, the good old days.

Taking down the top spot in this category was Wal-Mart and Fred Meyers, followed by:

  • Eco Tots Baby Boutique
  • Chesi Jo's Baby Boutique
  • Sleadd's Adventure Depot
  • Cat & Fiddle


It was a real dogfight this year, but in the end "Chester" Jacoby edged out "Max" DelVaglio for the trophy.

Others in the hunt were:

  • Mopsy and Hobo Roser
  • A cat, "Stevie" Blackhurst
  • "Augie" Walker


Human beings are genetically wired with a desire to "look good." And nothing says it better than diamonds, gold, pearls and gemstones. When our readers were looking to find the best in jewelry, they most often picked Hart Jewelers at 235 SE 6th, followed very closely by King Jewelers at 221 SE 6th.

Others receiving some recognition were:

  • Fred Meyer's
  • Never a Bum steer
  • Tierra del Sol
  • Cash Connection


The first candy dates back to ancient civilizations, where they indulged in fruits and nuts rolled in honey. We've gotten a little more sophisticated since then, and when our readers want to placate their sweet teeth, they most often turn to Cary's of Oregon, located at 413 Union Avenue.

Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Sandie's Candies
  • See's
  • Blind George's
  • Dollar Store
  • Wal-mart


My mother was a world-class quilter, and if she followed the advice of our readers, she would be spending a lot of time downtown at Plaza Sew 'n' Vac, which was the runaway winner in this category.

The list also included:

  • Unique Lee Yours.
  • Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts in Medford.
  • Wal-mart.


Back in the day when I was collecting albums, they would take up the entire back seat of my car whenever I moved somewhere. Today, CDs take up a fraction of the space, but it's just not the same. The cover art of some of those old albums made them something special. Oh well ... progress.

And in that regard, our readers most often liked to visit Listen Here, a music store located downtown at 234 SE 6th Street.

Others mentioned were Fred Meyer's, Evangel Store, and Wal-Mart.


Ever since the first cavewoman donned that sporty little sabertooth tiger coat, clothing has been an obsession with the human species. Locally, there are quite a few places to shop, and the two top vote-getters were Fred Meyer's and JC Penney's, followed by:

  • Tierra del sol
  • Emilia's Closet
  • Fashion Bug
  • Ross Store
  • Second Chance
  • Goodwill Store


Functionality is the key word when it comes to men's clothes, and once again this ended in a tie between Fred Meyer's and JC Penney's.

Others receiving lots of votes were:

  • Ross Store
  • Extreme Board Shop
  • Bi-Mart
  • Roley's Pacific Supply
  • Goodwill


Hats are a combination of functionality and just looking cool. They keep the sun out of your face, protect your head from meteorites, and let everyone know how stylin' you can be. Where to go? Many of our readers said Hellgate's River Rock Shop, followed by:

  • Fred Meyer's
  • Cowboy Corral
  • Bi-Mart


I've been collecting T-shirts for a long time, mainly because they're comfortable to wear and they carry messages that can be conversation pieces. I can walk down the street wearing my Madras Basketball shirt and someone can stop me and say, "Hey, you from Madras?" No, I reply, this is a hand-me-down from one of my nieces. Then it turns out he went to high school with my niece, and we end up in a bar drinking shots for a couple of hours ... just kidding.

Anyway, according to our readers the best place to buy cool T-shirts is at Ol' Champion Outlet, located at 401 SE 6th Street.

Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Never a Bum Steer
  • Oregon Outpost
  • Fashion Bug
  • Fred Meyer's


Sure, you can grow flowers in your backyard and cut them for bouquets, but it's a lot easier to just trust your local florist for that assignment. And in that regard our readers named Rogue River Florist, located at 789 NE 7th, as their favorite.

The top four were actually pretty close and they included:

  • Judy's Grants Pass Florist & Gifts.
  • Probst Flower Shop.
  • Chet's Garden & Pet Center.


When I'm not working or spending time with the family, you can usually find me at a.) the golf course or b.) the backyard taking care of the thousands of flowers, trees and shrubs that I've nurtured for the last twenty years. It's a full-time hobby, and a very rewarding one. I can walk the backyard and think I'm in paradise.

Helping me with that assignment are the local nurseries. Number one according to our readers is Chet's Garden Center at 229 SW "H" Street.

The vote this year was very close as Greenleaf Greenhouse came in second, followed by:

  • The Grange Co-Op
  • Diamond Home Improvement
  • Murphy Country Nursery
  • Sandy's Nursery
  • Home Depot
  • Redwood Nursery


The production of wine became a growth industry 15 years ago when doctors released studies showing that the consumption of wine led to a reduced incidence of heart disease and cancer. Well, duh, I'll drink to that.

Where to go for the best deals on quality wines? This category ended in a tie as both Elegance (321 SE 6th) and Grocery Outlet (350 NE Agness) were mentioned a lot.

The list also included:

  • Twisted Cork
  • Fred Meyer's
  • Ray's
  • Schmidt Family Vineyards
  • Bridgeview Vineyards in Cave Junction
  • Del Rio Vineyards in Gold Hill


Fish is one of those products that you really want to get as fresh as you can. Not that a three-day old fish is bad; it's just that something fresh out of the river or ocean can be exquisite.

This category ended up in a statistical dead heat as Cartwright's Valley Meat Company (825 Union Avenue) tied with Fred Meyer's.

Other's receiving votes were:

  • Albertson's
  • Ray's Food Place
  • Safeway


Once again this category was a runaway, as The Kitchen Company, 301 SE 6th Street, was the winner. Frank and Roy have stocked the store with every conceivable kitchen appliance known to man and woman.

Also received a smattering of votes were:

  • Fred Meyer's
  • Wal-mart


Pawn shops have seen a resurgence in recent years, mainly because of a down economy and the presence of such TV shows as Pawn Stars and Hard Core Pawn. Locally, Sneak Preview reporter Doug Beacham did a story on pawn shops four months ago, and we were curious which ones registered with our readers.

Winning this category for 2012 was Cash Connection, located at 754 SW 6th, followed by:

  • Pawn Plus
  • Rogue Valley Pawn & Jewelry


Doug Beacham also did a story on thrift stores which, amazingly, generated a little controversy. Again we were curious as to exactly which ones had the most local support, and this is what we found:

  • Goodwill Store
  • Salvation Army Store
  • Humane Society Store
  • Home for Good
  • Second Chance
  • St. Vincent de Paul


You ever see that Norman Rockwell painting where a family of four pulls into a gas station back in the 1950s, and five guys dressed in white come out to pump gas, check the oil, clean the windshield, check the tires, etc.? Now that's what I call the good old days!

That kind of service just isn't possible today, but our local gas stations give it their best shot. Winning this category for 2012 was Larry Henderson's "A" Street Chevron, followed by:

  • Fred Meyer's
  • Lonnie's Shell
  • Redwood Texaco
  • The ARCO Station at 7th & "M"
  • Fireball
  • Towne Pump


They're our neighbors to the south, and they're always fun to visit, from the Expo and Britt to the Shakespeare Festival and the Craterian. And while there, you might as well do some shopping, right?

The number one choice according to our readers was once again CostCo, followed by:

  • TJ Maxx
  • Macy's at the Mall
  • Target
  • Kohl's in the Mall
  • Paddington Station in Ashland
  • Sportsman's Warehouse
  • Harry & David Store



This was kind of a runaway for Simon Hare, as both Don Reedy and Harold Haugen are just temporary replacements for the retired Dwight Ellis and the ousted Sandi Cassanelli. We'll see how Simon does next year when he has some real competition.


It's been a couple of years since angry citizens gave the boot to a cantankerous group of city councilors, and things seem to have settled down to normal. Boring, isn't it? Just kidding.

Anyway, taking down top honors in this category was Dan DeYoung, followed by:

  • Kris Woodburn.
  • Lily Morgan.
  • Richard Michelon.


I hate to pick on Sandi Cassanelli when she's down, but many people picked her removal from office as number one in this category.

Other admirable things included:

  • Replacing City Manager Laurel Samson
  • Trying for a law enforcement levy
  • Killing Osama bin Laden


Many people chose trying for a law enforcement levy, and since others chose that as something "good" that government did, you can see how polarizing that issue is.

Also on the "bad thing" chart were:

  • The bus stop shelters
  • Supreme Court upholding the health care act
  • Cutting funds to animal shelter


Each year we ask our readers to answer four political questions just to gauge the mood of the community. These answers are "relatively" accurate since very few people stuff the ballot for them.

1. Should Grants Pass rent beds at the Josephine County Jail? Back in June I did a commentary after the law enforcement levy failed. What the citizens got was reduced patrols, a near-empty jail, a shuttered Juvenile Detention Center, and a D.A.'s office that will prosecute only the most heinous crimes. Since the City voters apparently like police protection, my proposal was for them to rent spaces at the jail to deal with criminals caught doing bad stuff within the city limits of Grants Pass. If that is successful, maybe county voters could try the same thing. Our readers apparently agree with this plan.

Yes, good idea: 77%
No, bad idea: 23%

2. Should marijuana be legalized and taxed? I don't want to sound like a drugged-out pothead, but the War on Drugs has been an utter failure for 40 years. It not only hasn't slowed the movement of drugs or stopped its usage, but the reverse is true. Yet we continue to spend billions of dollars a year on this "war," and we have the highest percentage of incarcerated citizens per capita than any other country on earth. The first step to stopping this insanity would be to legalize marijuana. How do our readers feel about this?

Yes, it should be legalized: 43%
No, it should not be: 57%

3. Should horse racing at Grants Pass Downs be discontinued? Some people think that the horse racing industry is cruel to animals and that it causes unnecessary deaths. Should Grants Pass Downs be shut down? Our readers don't think so.

Yes, it should be discontinued: 12%
No, it should not: 88%

4. Who are you voting for: Obama, Romney, or Undecided?

Well, whoever this Undecided guy is, he's got a shot at winning in 2012.

Obama: 27%
Romney: 33%
Undecided: 39%



For the second year in a row, there were eight new restaurants listed in this survey, a testament to both our readers' insatiable appetites and the desire for local restaurant owners to stay on top of their game. Having a lot of restaurants in town is actually good for business, as it motivates everyone to do his or her best.

The top two new restaurants, according to our readers, were River's Edge, located at 1936 Rogue River Highway; and Twisted Cork, at 210 SW 6th Street. This is the second incarnation for River's Edge, as Darla and Bob Feil reopened the popular river-side restaurant this year. The Twisted Cork is owned by Mike & Beth Forshay, and Walt & Leanne Eaton.

Others mentioned a lot were:

  • MaMosa's at 118 NW E
  • Goodness Gracious Café, located at 221 SW G
  • Pho Sur at 1887 NE 7th
  • Saigon Xich Lo, the Vietnamese food cart
  • Luigi's, located at 755 SE 6th
  • Starbucks at 115 NE 7th


Breakfast is supposed to be the biggest meal of the day, when you load up on protein and essential nutrients to get you through the day. The last thing you need during that morning board meeting is for your stomach to be growling and expressing disgust.

Where to go to satisfy the demands of your digestive system? This ended up in a 3-way tie between Elmer's Restaurant (175 NE Agness); the Train Depot, located at 577 NE F; and the Powderhorn Café at 321 NE 6th; and

Quite a few restaurants were mentioned, and the Top Ten were:

  • The Gold Miner Restaurant at 786 SE 7th
  • Shari's, at 190 NE Agness
  • Black Bear Diner, located at 1900 NW 6th
  • Taprock Northwest Grill (971 SE 6th)
  • Della's, located at 1802 NW 6th
  • Herb's LaCasita, at 515 SE Rogue River Highway
  • MaMosa's


By mid-day the energy levels start to wane, and it's important to get a quick pick-me-up. It's also a time to socialize with fellow workers, clients, friends and family. The lunch crew usually knows you're in a hurry, and they work overtime to give you primo service.

Working their way to the top of the list for 2012 was both Taprock Northwest Grill at 971 SE 6th; and Circle J Café (located at 241 SW G), closely followed by:

  • Rosso's Delicatessen at 225 SE 6th
  • Wild River Brewing & Pizza Company, at 595 NE E
  • Elmer's
  • The Vine at 1610 Allencreek Road
  • Abu's Oasis Deli at 1330 NW 6th
  • Blondie's, located at 226 SW G
  • The Powderhorn Café
  • Della's
  • Twisted Cork
  • Laughing Clam, at 121 SE G
  • Mediterranean Bar & Grill at 219 SW G


The first reference to this recipe was found in a 4th century Roman cookbook attributed to Apicius. Seventeen hundred years later we're still addicted to this delightful breakfast-time repast, and if our readers have anything to say about it, they'll first head over to Elmer's, which won this category.

The Top Three were very close, and they included the Train Depot and Goldminer's Restaurant, followed by:

  • Shari's
  • Powderhorn Café
  • Taprock Northwest Grill
  • Black Bear Diner
  • Herb's LaCasita
  • Black Forest


Sometimes menus can be daunting, especially at lunch. There are way too many choices and so little time. Enterprising restaurant owners recognize that reality and usually offer "sandwich and soup specials" for lunch. Landing at the top of this category was Rosso's, located at 225 SW 6th.

Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Powderhorn
  • Train Depot
  • Circle J Café
  • Elmer's
  • Taprock
  • Denny's
  • Della's
  • Wild River


They come in all shades and colors, from romantic enclaves to raucous steakhouses, but almost all dinnerhouses have one thing in common—the desire to make you feel confortable and at home.

It was close in this category, but our readers most often named 115 Broiler, located at 115 NE D; and Taprock Northwest Grill, at 971 SW 6th Street.

The Top Five included:

  • The Vine
  • River's Edge
  • Summer Jo's

Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Mediterranean Bar & Grill
  • R-Haus, at 2140 Rogue River Hwy
  • Blondie's Bistro (226 SW G)
  • Hannah's Restaurant, at 234 SW 7th


Lunch doesn't always have to be a "wham bam" affair involving 178 people from work intent on gobbling down their food just to get back to their cubicles on times. Sometimes it's fun to get away with that significant other and enjoy your meal in a relaxing environment. And when it comes to that our readers most often named Summer Jo's, located at 2315 Upper River Road Loop.

It was extremely close at the top with River's Edge, The Vine and Taprock coming in a close second, followed by:

  • Mediterranean Bar & Grill
  • 115 Broiler
  • The Bistro, at 2008 NW 6th St
  • Blondie's Bistro, at 226 SW G
  • Rosso's
  • Hannah's


This place just screams out "marriage proposal." There's soft lighting, soothing music, an attentive waitstaff, and a jewelry store on premises for that last-minute impulse buy ... just kidding.

Our readers were in a romantic mood in this category, placing three establishments at the top. They included River's Edge, R-Haus, and 115 Broiler. Other romantic spots included:

  • Taprock Northwest Grill
  • The Vine
  • Hannah's Restaurant
  • Summer Jo's
  • The Bistro
  • Twisted Cork
  • Morrison's Lodge, located at 8500 Galice Road
  • Blondie's


Archaeologists estimate that the domestication of cattle occurred independently three times in Iran/Iraq, China and northern Africa 5,000 to 8,000 years ago. Our friendly moo-moos have a rich history of symbiosis with humans (they provide us with milk and meat, and we let them graze rent free on farmland).

Winning this category for the umpteenth time in a row was 115 Broiler, located at 115 NW D.

The rest of the list included:

  • Applebee's
  • Taprock Northwest Grill
  • R-Haus
  • Blondie's Bistro
  • Sizzler


Five hundred years ago, Native Americans in Oregon thrived on plentiful game and fish. Not much has changed today, except it's far easier to visit your favorite seafood restaurant than it is trying to land a 15-pound steelhead at Finley Bend. And in that regard, our readers most often named Laughing Clam, at 121 SW G.

Also mentioned a lot were:

  • The Vine
  • Taprock Northwest Grill
  • 115 Broiler
  • Summer Jo's
  • Hannah's
  • R-Haus


In our version of Pasta Wars here in Grants Pass, three different establishments battled it out for top seeding with our readers. In alphabetical order, they were:

  • The Bistro
  • Ross's
  • The Vine

Other favorites included:

  • Twisted Cork
  • Wild River
  • Mediterranean Bar & Grill
  • Taprock Northwest Grill
  • Laughing Clam


To the millions of chickens around the globe who sacrifice themselves daily for our culinary tastes, we thank you. It may sound barbaric to you, but just think of all the innocent bugs you kill every day scraping in the dirt, and you should be able to relate.

Anyway, for great chicken entrees, our readers mentioned quite a few, and at the top it was a 3-way tie between Taprock Northwest Grill, The Vine, and Hannah's, followed by:

  • Elmer's
  • Thai BBQ, located at 428 SW 6th St
  • Abu's Oasis Deli
  • Applebee's
  • Summer Jo's


Yeah, I know, an earlier category had "Best Sandwiches & Soups," making this semi-redundant, so let's concentrate on the salads, shall we? And in that regard, our readers were most impressed with the salads at both Rosso's and Applebee's.

Also popular were:

  • Circle J
  • Della's
  • Taprock
  • Train Depot
  • Sizzler
  • Twisted Cork


Sure, you can sail the boat down to Cabo san Lucas and visit Edith's or the Giggling Marlin, but we have the next best thing here in the Rogue Valley, which is home to many former residents of Mexico. Eleven different restaurants were named in this survey, starting with numero uno, which was a tie between Casa Amiga (1720 Redwood Avenue) and Si Casa Flores at 202 Beacon Drive.

The Top Five were actually very close and they included:

  • Taqueria Mexico (137 SE H)
  • La Burrita, at 941 SE 7th
  • El Paraiso, located at 201 E. Park Street

Also mentioned a lot were:

  • El Patron (799 Rogue River Highway)
  • Angela's Hacienda, at 111 NE Hillcrest
  • Tacos Locos in the Allen Creek Shopping Center
  • Kalypsso Latin Cuisine, at 775 SE 6th
  • Las Fajitas, in Parkway Village


This is the ultimate Mexican-style sandwich, and it's practically a meal in itself, stuffed with every nutritious thing you can think of.

Where to go for great burritos? Our readers most often named El Paraiso and La Burrita, followed by:

  • Casa Amiga
  • Taqueira Mexico
  • El Patron
  • Si Casa Flores


They're actually considered a "tourist drink" in Mexico, but they sure are good. Tequila comes from the agave cactus, which is prevalent in the state of Jalisco (which is also home to mariachi music). Hundreds of years ago, some intrepid soul distilled the agave plant to make tequila, and we've been doing shots ever since.

Taking down number one in this category for 2012 were the margaritas as Si Casa Flores and Taqueria Mexico.

The list also included:

  • Casa Amiga
  • Angela's
  • El Paraiso
  • Las Fajitas


It's great to experience the exotic foods and tastes of different cultures, from China and Thailand to Japan and Vietnam. Our readers agreed and named 15 different restaurants in this category, reserving their number one choice for Matsukaze, located at 1675 NE 7th.

The Top Six were very close and they included:

  • Thai BBQ at 428 SW 6th
  • Hong Kong, at 820 NW 6th
  • Four Seasons at 122 SE K
  • Pongsri's, at 323 NE E
  • Pho Sur, a new Vietnamese restaurant at 1887 NE 7th

Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Hunan Garden, located in the Grants Pass Shopping Center
  • Musashi Sushi Bar & Japanese Cuisine, located at 314 SE H
  • Royal Barge, at 120 SW H
  • China Buffet, at 144 SE 7th
  • Sunflower Thai Cuisine (1571 NE 6th)
  • A Taste of China (211 NE A)
  • China Hut (1434 NW 6th)
  • Shiki Sushi Bar, at 125 SE G
  • Saigon Xich Lo, the food cart


When I first started the Sneak Preview in 1986, Thai food was just starting to become the "next big thing." Today, there are many establishments offering Thai food on their menus, starting with Thai BBQ, which was most popular with our readers.

It was actually close at the top, with Pongsri's and Royal Barge garnering a lot of votes, followed by:

  • Sunflower Thai Cuisine
  • Pho Sur


We waited a whole year for a women's soccer rematch with Japan, and it was a good one. Japan beat the U.S.A. on penalty kicks in the World Cup last year, but the tables were turned in the Olympics, as the ladies in red, white and blue won 2-1 in the final game.

That calls for some Japanese food to celebrate, and where would our readers go locally? Most said Matzukaze (1675 NE 7th), but the list also included:

  • Musashi
  • Shiki's (at G Street Bar & Grill)
  • Hunan Garden


The Godfather trilogy were probably the best movies ever made, with Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino all making big names for themselves (well, Brando was already a household name, but who's counting?). And when you want a little Italian offer you can't refuse, our readers most often chose both The Vine (1610 Allen Creek Road) and The Bistro (2008 NW 6th Street) as their favorites.

Others receiving lots of votes were:

  • Rosso's Delicatessen
  • Olive Garden in Medford


When I was in college, pizza was definitely one of the four major food groups (ice cream, chicken nuggets and doritos being the other three). One of my most enduring memories as a twenty-something was coming home from the bars one night and seeing my roommate Mac asleep on the sofa, sitting up, with a piece of pizza in his hand and the TV set blaring in front of him.

Where to go when you want to indulge in this nutritious food group? Wild River Brewing Company, located at 595 NE E, was tops with our voters this year, edging out Abby's Legendary Pizza (in the Williams Plaza and on NE Beacon).

The list of favorite pizzas also included:

  • Papa Murphy's (1011 NE 7th and 263 Rogue River Hwy)
  • Circle J Café
  • Papa John's, at 107 SW 4th
  • The Bistro
  • Pizza Hut
  • Figaro's


It was the end of an era when J.J. North's closed earlier this year, but as with every other event that happens in this world, life goes on. Our readers responded to the pressure by naming Sizzler, at 1871 NE 7th, as their favorite this year, although Abby's Pizza and Sunshine Natural Foods at 128 SW H also received a lot of votes.


According to Wikipedia, vegetarianism can be adopted for various reasons, from ethical and religious beliefs, to heath, political, environmental, cultural, aesthetic or economic reasons. Whatever your reason, and whether you're a full-time or part-time vegetarian, you may want to follow the advice of our readers, who were most impressed with the selection at Sunshine Natural Foods (128 SW H) and Abu's Oasis Deli (1330 NW 6th), followed by:

  • Summer Jo's
  • MaMosa's
  • Twisted Cok
  • The Vine
  • Blondie's Bistro
  • Pho Sur


Poor Caesar. It's March 15th, he's minding his own business on the floor of the Senate in the year 44 BCE, when some political fanatics stabbed him to death. There was an immediate outcry to outlaw knives, but that movement didn't get very far. He did, however, get a salad named after him, although there are rumors that it was named after some guy named Caesar in Tijuana. (Hey, man, give Caesar his due.)

Where to go when you want a great Caesars salad? Winning this category was a tie between Circle J Café and The Vine.

The list also included:

  • Taprock Northwest Grill
  • Elmer's
  • Train Depot
  • Wild River
  • Mediterranean Bar & Grill


This soup has ancient origins but underwent a resurgence in the 1960s when Jackie Kennedy renewed an interest in French cuisine (something that was begun in the White House by Thomas Jefferson). It's basically an onion soup based on beef broth and topped with cheese and croutons.

When it comes to onion soup, our readers were able to pinpoint a couple of establishments, starting with Applebee's, located at 250 NW Agness Avenue.

Others mentioned a lot were:

  • 115 Broiler
  • Train Depot
  • Della's
  • Taprock


Coupons have becoming increasingly more popular during the Great Recession, and while economists say we're actually not in a recession anymore, it certainly doesn't feel like it. So ... let's save up those coupons and do what our readers do by visiting Shari's (190 NE Agness) and Elmer's (175 NE Agness).

Other great coupons include:

  • Train Depot
  • Arby's
  • Carl's Jr
  • Taprock
  • Abu's Oasis Deli


I went on the Internet to find "weird cocktails" and I'd have to say the winner was from Ken Stewart's Grill in Akron, Ohio. They offer a $10 martini with a baby octopus on top. Seriously, does that sound disgusting or what? Those guys have been watching way too much Little Mermaid.

Here in the Rogue Valley, our bartenders don't try to gross people out. Instead, they concentrate on preparing outstanding cocktails that a.) Taste great and b.) Provide a little punch. And in that regard, our readers were most impressed with the creations at Blondie's Bistro, followed by:

  • Mediterranean Bar & Grill
  • Applebee's
  • Taprock Northwest Grill
  • Herb's LaCasita
  • Wild River Brewing Co
  • 115 Broiler
  • River's Edge


I can just picture a group of cavemen sitting around the fire polishing off a side of mastodon, when ol Clog says something like, "What I'd give for a little banana soufflé." So Mrs. Clog hustles off to the nearby jungle, finds a big ol' banana and a couple of chicken eggs, mixes it with some honey and vanilla extract, preheats the fire to 400 degrees, and surprises the whole troop with a big dessert.

Fifteen different restaurants were mentioned by our readers in this survey with Blondie's Bistro (226 SW G) and the R-Haus (2140 Rogue River Hwy) tying for top honors.

Others high on the list were:

  • Powderhorn Café
  • Shari's
  • Twisted Cork
  • Applebee's
  • Bluestone Bakery & Coffee (412 NW 6th)
  • Wild River
  • Black Forest
  • Hannah's
  • Taprock


Pies and cakes are the quintessential American dessert ... just ask Johnny Appleseed and Betty Crocker. Locally, our readers are most impressed with the creations at both Powderhorn Café and Shari's, followed by:

  • Bluestone Bakery and Café
  • Chocolate Affair
  • Black Forest


It starts up near Crater Lake and flows 215 miles through Shady Cove, Gold Hill, Rogue River, Grants Pass, Agness and Gold Beach. It's world renowned for its fishing and whitewater rafting. And when you want to have dinner and watch this majestic river flow by, most people chose the cozy confines of Taprock Northwest Grill, located right on the river next to the Caveman Bridge and across from Riverside Park.

Other great views can be obtained upriver at both River's Edge and R-Haus, while the view downriver at both Morrison's Lodge and the O.K. Corral (via the Hellgate Jetboat Excursions) is also outstanding.


They don't have to be your best friends (I mean, who needs waiters and waitresses asking to borrow money?), but they do need to be friendly. Surly and suicidal doesn't make it when you're sitting down for a relaxing meal.

This was another popular category, as our readers named 25 different restaurants, starting with this year's winner, the friendly folks at Elmer's Restaurant.

  • The Top Ten included:
  • Taprock Northwest Grill
  • Herb's LaCasita
  • Train Depot
  • River's Edge
  • Mediterranean Bar & Grill
  • Della's
  • 115 Broiler
  • Wild River
  • Si Casa Flores


This is a genre that was practically invented by Americans. As a country that has been continually on the move ("Westward Ho," "Go West, young man" and all that), time is sometimes of the essence. And when it comes to that, our readers most often picked the fast, efficient (and tasty) service at Jimmy's Classic Drive-In, located at 515 NE E, which tied with Arby's (140 NE Terry Lane) in this survey.

Others mentioned quite a bit were:

  • Carl's Jr
  • McDonald's
  • Casablanca Coffee & Grill
  • Jack in the Box
  • Dairy Queen
  • Burger King
  • Taco Bell
  • Sonic Drive-In
  • Wendy's


American inventions ... apple pie, basketball, jazz, action movies and hamburgers. No wonder everyone wants to move here! And when they come to Grants Pass looking for great hamburgers, they most often turned to Jimmy's Classic Drive-In, followed by:

  • Carl's Jr
  • Applebee's
  • Burger King
  • Eddie's Old Fashioned Burgers
  • Jack in the Box
  • Wonder Bur Café
  • Dairy Queen
  • Sonic Drive-In
  • Wendy's
  • McDonald's


It's closer to a dessert than it is to a refreshing beverage ... just ask my sweet tooth for a testimonial. When it comes to great milkshakes, our readers named both Grants Pass Pharmacy (414 SW 6th) and Dairy Queen (1674 NW 6th and 610 Redwood Highway) as their favorites.

The list also included:

  • Shari's
  • Jimmy's Classic Drive-In
  • Carl's Jr
  • McDonald's
  • Eddie's Old Fashioned Burgers


Here's a line from comedian Jim Gaffigan: "Parents get burned out in big families. You can even see it in the naming of children. It's always, like, the first kid: 'You were named after Grandma.' The seventh kid: "You were named after a sandwich I had. I loved that. Now, get your brother Reuben.'"

And when our readers are looking to find a future name for their 8th born child, they most often turned to the selections at both Wild River Brewing Company (595 NE E) and Subway Sandwiches (with three locations in Grants Pass), followed by:

  • Millie's
  • Circle J Café
  • Quizno's
  • Pita Pit
  • Rosso's Delicatessen


This dish contains fish, which are high in all those good omega 3's. Although 99% of the population have no idea what that means, they've heard Dr. Oz talk about it on TV as something beneficial to your heart, so it must be good. Deep fried chips aren't great for the ol' arteries, but at least it all evens out, right?

Where to go for great fish & chips. Topping this category was the Laughing Clam, located at 121 SW G Street.

Others high on the list were:

  • Taprock Northwest Grill
  • Wild River
  • Elmer's
  • Goldminer Restaurant


You're standing in line at your favorite coffeehouse and the Valley Girl in front of you is talking on the phone to ... like ... whomever! She finally makes it to the front of the line, puts her phone away and stares at the menu board for two minutes trying to figure out what she wants. Your only thought: "Why is murder illegal?" The barista feels your pain, moves the girl along, and gets you back focused on the important things in life, i.e., caffeine!

Quite a few baristas were named in this survey, including this year's winner Chad Sweeley at the Dutch Brothers main store downtown.


Caffeine is only part of the equation when it comes to popular coffeehouses. It's also a social scene, where friends, relatives, colleagues and minor acquaintances meet to discuss the important issues of the day, like who will be the next person voted off Survivor.

Taking down the top spot in this category was once again Dutch Brothers, located at the corner of 6th & D.

It was actually fairly close this year as Rogue Coffee Roasters, Bluestone Bakery and Human Bean all have their followers.

Others mentioned were:

  • Jumpin' Bean
  • The new Starbucks


Summertime, and the livin' is easy; fish are jumpin' and the outdoor patio is fine ... or something like that. All I know is when it's hot outside, there's nothing like sitting on the patio at your favorite restaurant and enjoying the great outdoors.

This category ended in an almost statistical dead heat as both Taprock Northwest Grill and River's Edge scored well with our readers.

The list also included:

  • Galice Resort
  • Morrison's Lodge
  • Summer Jo's
  • R-Haus
  • O.K. Corral
  • El Paraiso
  • Grants Pass Golf Club


I heard that there's talk of an Amtrak passenger train providing service from Eugene to Oregon. If that's true, it would certainly make local travel a little more fun and exciting. You could get on a train and visit all of your favorite out-of-town restaurants, including:

  • Bella Union in Jacksonville
  • Morrison's Lodge outside Galice
  • Olive Garden in Medford
  • Red Robin in Medford
  • The Jacksonville Inn
  • Porter's in Medford
  • The O.K. Corral
  • Galice Resort
  • Bambu in Medford



A number of concerts were named by our readers, but the number one choice was Funktional Fusion, a 10-piece funk/soul band, which made quite a few local appearances last year.


Classical music goes all the way back to Pythagoras, who in 485 BC created a tuning system and helped to codify musical notation. Here we are 2500 years later and still enjoying the interplay of different musical instruments, which provide variations on the same notes.

Still a favorite with our readers are the 6-7 concerts provided by the Rogue Valley Symphony every year, under the direction of Martin Majkut. Many people specifically mentioned the concert in November with Chas Barnard on cello.

Also receiving votes were:

  • The Siskiyou Singers' "Night at the Opera" concert
  • Jefferson Baroque Orchestra
  • Three River Chorale; Kate Campbell, director


The Britt Festival celebrated its 50th season this year as "the Pacific Northwest's premier outdoor summer performing arts festival." Whether you have reserved seating in front or choice spots on the grassy knoll, the experience keeps thousands of people returning every year.

Landing at the top of the list with our readers this year was an appearance by The Avett Brothers, a rock band from Concord, North Carolina.

The list of favorites also included:

  • Smokey Robinson
  • Spearhead
  • Natalie Merchant
  • Chris Botti


Every Tuesday night during the summer in Riverside Park, the Chamber of Commerce and some dedicated sponsors host "Concerts in the Park," with musical entertainment ranging from Big Band music to good ol' rock 'n' roll.

Strumming their way to our readers' hearts last year was The Boomer Band, which rocked everyone out in 2011 during the "Back to the 50s Celebration."

Also mentioned were:

  • Funktional Fusion
  • Reggae band Indubious at the end of June this year


It's turned into one of the most fun social events on the Grants Pass calendar, as hundreds of people gather in downtown Grants Pass on the First Friday of every month to enjoy art, music, refreshments and conversation. And who knows, maybe it brings a small appreciation of art to some of the many teenagers who "hang out" there during the festivities.

Topping this category once again was the Grants Pass Museum of Art on G Street, followed by:

  • FireHouse Gallery
  • All along G Street
  • Rogue Roasters
  • Glass Forge
  • Elegance
  • Laughing Clam


Quite a few local artists were mentioned by our readers, including this year's winner, Donna Walsh, who also recently won "Best of Show" in the professional division at the Josephine County Art Fair. Donna's paintings "have become known as authentically perfect around the country and have helped her to be noted as a celebrity painter."

The list also featured:

  • Janet Higgins
  • Janet Gogue
  • Del Hearn
  • Vickie Killian
  • Gene Rimmer, photographer


Every summer for the last ten years, Brady Adams and Evergreen Federal Bank display some of their most popular public artworks, from eagles and doors to Independence Shield Monuments. Probably the most popular, though, are the bears, in which local artists creatively decorate their ursine buddies in a variety of costumes.

This summer was no exception, and the most popular bear according to our readers was Carmen Bearanda, complete with a fruit basket on her head.

Other ferocious bears were:

  • Berry Potter
  • Charlotte's Web's "Some Kind of Bear."
  • Pirate bear
  • Picasso bear


There's a reason why practically every city in the world has parks, from New York's Central Park to L.A.'s Griffith Park—they provide a refuge from the hustle-bustle of everyday life and are a source of beauty in an increasingly concrete jungle. Plus they can be a source of recreation and meditation.

In Grants Pass, where city residents ensure that parks are included in the budget, the overwhelming favorite is Riverside Park. The All Sports Park, which was built by volunteers, came in a close second.

The county, however, is a different story, as the current budget crisis has slashed the park's budget entirely, letting them twist slowly in the wind while the residents enjoy by far the lowest tax rate in the entire state of Oregon. Increased fees and minimal maintenance have kept many of them open, and the favorite with our readers is Indian Mary Park on the way to Galice, followed by:

  • Tom Pearce Park
  • Cathedral Hills
  • Griffin Park
  • Merlin Community Park


We don't have anything as exciting as Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island, but who needs to see Joey Chestnut eat 68 hot dogs and buns anyway? Our readers were more interested in the horse races at Grants Pass Downs, which came in first place.

The list also included:

  • The Boatnik Race
  • GPHS football
  • Adult flag football
  • Girls softball tourney at the Boatnik


Everything I've read about how to stay healthy and free of disease includes exercise as part of the program. So getting a workout is not just to help you keep the weight off; it's also important for a healthy heart and as a deterrent to cancer, diabetes, and a whole host of other ugly things.

Where to go to get a workout? The majority picked Club Northwest, located on NW Vine St., followed by:

  • Grants Pass Family YMCA
  • Knockout Fitness
  • Anytime Fitness
  • Curves for Women
  • The Zoo Health Club
  • Walking at the All Sports Park


From Wikipedia: "Dancing was designed by the forces of natural selection as a potent tool to put groups of human ancestors in a battle trance, a specific altered state of consciousness." That may be a little far-fetched, although some of the moves, e.g. "the bump," I witnessed in discos back in the 70s certainly reminded me of Civil War battlefields.

When it comes to finding that inner battle trance, our readers most often named the friendly confines of the G Street Bar & Grill.

Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Herb's Shenanigans
  • Zumba at Club Northwest
  • Concerts in the Park
  • J.D.'s
  • Cedarwood Saloon
  • Black, White & the Blues
  • Grants Pass Community Center
  • The Eagles' Lodge


It's a 3-day nostalgia festival sponsored every July by the Towne Center Association, and it has become extremely popular with locals and out-of-towners alike. Especially popular are the classic cars and the Saturday night cruise. Also on the list are:

  • Musical entertainment
  • The street dance
  • Karaoke contest
  • The sidewalk sales


In 1978 I hitchhiked into Grants Pass from Denver to visit some old college buddies, who'd opened a restaurant in town in 1975 (the Bistro) and bought a property twelve miles outside town on the river. They dubbed the property the O.K. Corral after their last names (Obremski and Kochis). The day I arrived (June 4) they informed me that they'd converted their guest house into a restaurant serving dinner as part of the jetboat excursions out of Grants Pass.

That night was the premiere opening of the O.K. Corral, and it has grown in size and popularity ever year since. Our readers definitely appreciate the dinner at the O.K. Corral but what they most love about the Hellgate trip is the boat ride and the drivers.

Especially popular are 360° spins that the drivers execute on the way back. Stopping in Hellgate Canyon is also on the list.


There were actually more plays locally than you'd think, as I counted ten of them. And that doesn't include the offerings by the Old Time Radio Players or any of the high school productions.

Envelope please for "Best Play Last Year" ... and the winner is ...The Great American Trailer Park Musical by the Barnstormers, which entertained full houses last spring.

Others in the running were:

  • Singin' in the Rain by Rogue Music Theatre
  • Steel Magnolias by the Barnstormers
  • The Nutcracker by Stillpoint Dance Studio
  • Cinderella – Enchanted by One Eleven Theatre Company
  • Crimes of the Heart by the Barnstormers
  • Sound of Music by GPHS Theatre Arts Department
  • The Winter Variety Show by the Old Time Radio Players


For one of the few times in the 26-year history of this readers' survey, an actor came away with back-to-back victories, as Kent Prickett was honored for his role in the Barnstormers' An Enemy of the People.

Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Frankie Lane in the Barnstormers' The Great American Trail Park Musical
  • Adam Cuppy in RMT's Singin' in the Rain
  • David Mannix in the Barnstormers' The Delicate Balance
  • Sig Dekany in the Barnstormers' An Enemy of the People


On the female side of the ledger, the most recognition went to Trivia Drevets for her work in the Barnstormers' Moon over Buffalo.

She was followed by:

  • Julia Cuppy for RMT's Singin' in the Rain
  • Lynn Beach in the Barnstormers' The Delicate Balance
  • Charlsie Lane in the Barnstormers' the Great American Trailer Park Musical
  • Angela Padilla for the Barnstormers' Steel Magnolias


Every production contains the personal stamp of its director, and everyone appreciates the time and energy he or she devotes to every performance.

And in that regard our readers most often mentioned Daniel Grossbard for his work on RMT's summer 2011 production of Singin' in the Rain.

Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Penny King for Stillpoint's The Nutcracker and for the Barnstormers' The Great American Trailer Park Musical
  • Russ Lloyd for the Barnstormers' The Delicate Balance
  • Nancy Ryan for the Barnstormers' Steel Magnolias


It's world renowned, and every year thousands of tourists descend on Ashland to take part in the magic. Sneak Preview readers are no exception, and as far as this season is concerned, they are most impressed with Animal Crackers, a comedic take-off on the Marx Brothers.

Also popular is Romeo and Juliet.


What would we do without music? It would certainly make life a lot more boring and routine. Can you image going to a football game or a parade without music? Or watching a movie? Or driving in the car? Or ... oh well, you get the picture.

Our readers were able to name quite a few local musicians, and strumming his way to the top was Mike Brons, a guitar instructor at RCC who also plays gigs around town at the Twisted Cork and other venues.

Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Megan Sdudstad of Funktional Fusion
  • Kristy Lee Cook
  • Jenny Skudstad
  • Mike Smith
  • John Trujillo of Col. Mustard
  • Joe Gomez


Rock 'n' roll is here to stay, and they built this city on rock 'n' roll. What more can you say? Rockin' and rollin' their way into our hearts was local band Col. Mustard, which plays regularly at the G Street Bar & Grill.

Also receiving lots of votes were:

  • Hot Gossip
  • Funktional Fusion
  • River City Rhythm & Blues
  • Lizard Mafia
  • 100 Watt Mind


My dad was a jazz aficionado, but mainly the Big Band variety. I grew up hearing Benny Goodman, Louie Armstrong and Artie Shaw, and how my dad claimed to have "discovered" Bing Crosby.

Locally, our readers named the Oregon Little Big Band as their favorite, and my dad would probably concur.

They were followed by:

  • The Mixers
  • RCC Jazz Band
  • So. Ore. Jazz Orchestra


When you want to get out of the house and actually feel as if you've gone somewhere and done something, catching live music at a local nightclub is the perfect assignment.

Once again taking down the number one spot is the "G" Street Bar & Grill, followed by:

  • Laughing Clam
  • Herb's Shenanigans
  • JD's Sports Pub
  • Cedarwood Tavern
  • Eagles Lodge


No one can accuse the Active Club of sitting on their hands, letting other people do the work, and putting everything off to the last second. With a festival the size of the Boatnik, you have to start working on the next one the day the other one ends. So, from all us ... good job, guys!

It's no surprise that the Boatnik Parade won the hearts of the majority of our readers. The event has a little bit of something for everyone.

Also high on their lists were:

  • The jet boat races
  • Jet flyover
  • The fireworks
  • Beer and wine festival
  • The V.I.P. tent
  • Softball tourney


Sometimes you want something with a little more pizzazz and cachet than just a gin and tonic or a bourbon and water. Creatively is the key here, and in that regard our readers most often mentioned the selections at Blondie's Bistro and Taprock Northwest Grill.

Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Mediterranean Bar & Grill
  • Hong Kong
  • G Street Bar & Grill
  • Laughing Clam
  • Wonder Bur
  • 115 Broiler


The good old days when all you could get was Budweiser and Schlitz actually weren't that good. Not that those beers were bad, but it's just more fun when you have a lot of choices. Microbrewed beers have become such a science that you can now find varieties to fill almost every mood and taste.

And when it comes to having a great selection of microbrewed beers, our readers gave the nod to both the Laughing Clam and Wild River Brewing Co., followed by:

  • JD's
  • Joe's Bar & Grill
  • Taprock Northwest Grill


You want a bartender with good jokes like this one: A Chihuahua, Doberman and Bulldog are in a bar when a great-looking female Collie comes in and says, "Whoever can best say liver and cheese in a sentence can go on a date with me." The Doberman says, "I love liver and cheese." The collie replies, "That's not good enough." So the Bulldog says, "I hate liver and cheese." She says, "That's not creative enough." Finally the Chihuahua says, "Liver alone ... cheese mine."

And when our readers wanted friendly bartenders with good jokes, it ended in a 3-way tie between The Cedarwood Saloon, JD's Sports Pub & Grill, and the Wonder Bur.

Also high on the list were:

  • Taprock
  • G Street Bar & Grill
  • Blondie's
  • Laughing Clam
  • H Street Eatery
  • Joe's Bar & Grill


The Olympics is over, but we now have the baseball playoffs, college football and the NFL coming up (Fantasy Football here we come). Where to go when you want to root your favorite team onto victory? This was pretty close, but in the end, Joe's Bar & Grill edged out JDs Sports Bar & Grill.

Also mentioned were:

  • Wild River
  • Applebee's


It's one of the oldest growers' markets in southern Oregon, and it's a veritable social scene every Saturday morning from 9am to 1pm behind the Post Office. This category received a lot of attention from our readers, and apparently everyone has an opinion. There's no denying that the selection of fresh organic produce and all the people are important, but when we break the market down into individual entities, it turned out like this:

  • The bread
  • Rosie's wood-fired pizzas
  • Breakfast burritos
  • Tamales by Maria
  • The mushroom guy
  • The donuts
  • Marti Fate
  • The fact that there are no dogs allowed


This year's event was a huge success, but it happened after our readers filled out their ballots. They have great memories, however, of last year's event, and they singled out all the music, including Starship and Marty Stuart.

  • Also high on the list were:
  • The Monster Trucks
  • All of the animals
  • The exhibits
  • The Art Fair
  • The photography exhibit
  • The petting zoo
  • The food


Yes, the price of gas may be hovering around $4 a gallon, but surely there's some comfort knowing that the price is $8.17 in London and $9.63 in Turkey. Where to go when you want to spend $8-$15 on a short drive through the countryside? Many of our readers picked the Applegate Valley as their number one destination, followed by:

  • The Coast
  • Galice
  • Crater Lake
  • Onion Mountain
  • Jacksonville
  • Ashland


Yeah, I know, the best strategy to use when gambling is to not bet. The house definitely has the edge, but you never know when you might hit the big one. And if you consider your losses as entertainment, it's not that all bad ... unless you bet the mortgage on the house, then it becomes bad (and stupid).

Taking this category in a runaway was Seven Feathers, which is a mere 35 miles north on the Interstate.

Also mentioned were:

  • Las Vegas
  • Reno
  • The Mill Indian Casino
  • Smith River Indian Casino
  • Purple Parrot
  • The horse races at Grants Pass Downs

* * * * *

Wow ... 144 categories complete. I am now going to step out into the sunlight after three straight days in this basement office. I feel like Count Dracula. See everyone in 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.