Best of Grants Pass 2013

The last "Best of the Rogue Valley" was in August/September 2012, and since then we've had a massive storm on the East Coast, a presidential election (and inauguration), a royal pregnancy (and birth), a scandal within the IRS (they should be audited!), a leak within the National Security Agency (they should be bugged!), and Phil Michelson winning the British Open. I almost feel as if I'm in a time warp.
Locally, the November election brought us two new county commissioners—Cherryl Walker and Keith Heck—while the voters also rejected proposed changes to the Grants Pass City Charter. In the spring, voters narrowly rejected a county-wide public safety levy, leaving the county jail as a revolving door for criminals.
Cover stories in the Sneak Preview included updates on the Library and Fairgrounds, both of which are struggling for funds since they got cut off during the budget crisis. Meanwhile, the City is still contemplating a pedestrian mall on 5th Street between G and H, and the Caveman Statue will stay. We did a cover story on the ol' Caveman in last month's issue, and sadly, the man gracing the cover, Hank Geiske, died a couple of weeks ago. The community will miss him.
This is the 27th running of the "Best of the Rogue Valley," and despite the fact that I forgot to put a little starburst on the cover announcing the ballot, we still got over 400 responses. Counting the submissions was painstaking but fun (a bottle of Old Granddad helped), and I did my best to ferret out the ballot-stuffing.
Some people have suggested that we make the balloting available online, but in my expert opinion, it would open the system up to voter fraud. Uncle Jimmy wants Aunt Sally to win "Favorite Mud Wrestler," so he sends a link to the ballot to 343 of his relatives, and voila, ol' Sal is the winner. I personally don't mind counting the ballots, so for now, the system will remain in the Dark Ages.
Anyway, onward and upward ... the 2013 "Best of the Rogue Valley," our 27th annual Readers Survey.


We asked the question, "In which state were you were raised?" and I'm happy to report that Oregon actually edged out California in the balloting. Other states in the Top Ten were: New York, Texas, Alaska, Missouri, Ohio, Arizona, Washington and Colorado.



The first AM radio station began transmitting on August 31, 1920, out of Detroit. Despite challenges from television and the Internet, we all still have our favorite radio stations. Whether driving to and from work, relaxing at the beach, or background entertainment while preparing that 7-course French dinner for friends, we want to hear the latest top songs, old classics, and scintillating news coverage.
Winning this category for the 27th time in a row was both KLDR and KAJO, although the new kids on the block, KCMD, gave them a run for their money this year.
Other favorites included:

  • Jefferson Public Radio.
  • KRWQ.
  • KDOV.
  • KISS-FM.
  • KAKT (The Wolf).
  • KRRM.
  • KCNA.


The genetics of being a great deejay is well researched in biological literature. First, you need a strong voice (chromosome 5), a sense of humor (chromosomes 6 and 7), the desire to be listened to (#13) and, at the same time, the ability to shake off mistakes and move onto the next part of the schtick (the X chromosome). The action is fast and furious, and you have to be ready.
Broadcasting his way to the top this year was Don Monette at KCMD. Don also won this award in 1998 and 2008. The list also included:

  • Carl Wilson of KAJO.
  • Jeanette Stark at KLDR.
  • Don Matthews at Jefferson Public Radio.
  • Cassie Callas at KLDR.
  • Gemineye at KISS-FM.


Want to hear about the latest mayhem on I-5? Or that 5-alarm fire in the wee hours of the morning? How about the latest machinations at City Hall? Or a heart-warming story about an adopted woman who found her birth mother in a jail in Zimbabwe after a ten-year search. Our local news stations work overtime to keep us informed about late-breaking news, and we all appreciate their efforts.
Once again, the winner of this category was NewsWatch 12 (KDRV), followed by KTVL (Channel 10) and KOBI/Channel 5.


Okay, you just got hired to be a news anchor after five years out in the field reporting on meth labs, and the last thing you need is to flub one of your lines and have it go viral on the Internet. You practice all night on every conceivable tongue twister possible, you think you got it all set, then you get in front of the camera and refer to First Lady Bichelle Omama.
Luckily, that hasn't happened to any of our local news anchors, especially this year's winner Brian Morton of KDRV, who first won this recognition by our readers in 1999.
Others high on the list were:

  • Ron Brown of KDRV.
  • Trish Glose of KTVL.
  • Kevin Lollis of KTVL.


I still have major egg on my face for writing on the front page last month that the Courier only prints five days a month. We ALL know that I meant five days a WEEK, and I hope my buddies at the "daily" aren't mad at me. If they are, they're welcome to do an exposé on faulty proofreading at local MONTHLY newspapers. I'll even speak on-the-record and name names.
This year our readers were in an entertaining mood as they named Entertainment Editor Edith Decker as their favorite. A long-time reporter for the Courier, Edith was also recognized back in 1995 and 2006
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Stacey Stumbo, County.
  • Shaun Hall, police/courts.
  • Lindsay Cathey, health and business reporter.
  • Kathleen Alaks, Lifelines/Entertainment.
  • Kevin Widdison, City Editor.


Things have sure changed over the last 27 years. Instead of flipping through clip-art books, making copies, then using scissors and wax sticks to literally glue the images onto paper, the whole thing is done digitally on a computer screen. Life is infinitely easier, and the Sneak Preview looks a million times better. While we'd like to take credit for all the cool ads in the paper, most of them are done by graphic artists or even the clients themselves.
Being the thrifty buyers they are, our readers most often mentioned the restaurant ads with coupons, followed by:

  • The Roe Motors ad on the back page.
  • AesthetiSpa.
  • Club Northwest.
  • Sundance Divers.
  • Caveman Heating.
  • Siskiyou Community Health Center.



The free enterprise system doesn't revolve around Wall Street and the stock market. Its bread and butter are creative and innovative individuals who are willing to take a chance and open their own businesses. And the system is alive and well in Grants Pass, as our readers named quite a few new businesses, including Roux 26, Jon Bowen's new restaurant at the corner of 5th and H.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Bohemian Bar & Bistro, at 233 SW G.
  • Kobe Sushi Buffet at 1150 NE E in the Grants Pass Shopping Center.
  • Babe's Bakery, located at 1701 NE 6th.
  • Infuzed Xpress, at 401 NE F.
  • Lily Bee's Consignment, 142 SE H.
  • Pack Ratz, a thrift store at 930 SE M.


Life at the top ain't easy. You have to unlock the door every morning, turn on the A/C, make sure the till is adequately stocked, oversee "x" number of employees (all of whom have their own personal life stories and/or foibles, by the way), place orders, organize the store room, hold clients' hands, etc., etc. The list is endless.
After all the votes were counted, our readers reserved their number one appreciation for Travis Boersma who, along with his brother Dane, opened Dutch Brothers Coffee in 1992. Today, it is the country's largest privately-held drive-thru coffee company.
Others receiving a lot of votes were:

  • Brady Adams of Evergreen Federal.
  • Steve Roe of Roe Motors GM.
  • Bob McLaren of Never a Bum Steer.
  • Rick Chapman of Plaza Sew 'n' Vac.
  • Frank Wright and Roy Heinzle of the Kitchen Company.
  • Cliff Bennett of Chet's.
  • Scott and Annette Draper at Club Northwest and Spa at Club Northwest.
  • Carl Wilson of KAJO.
  • Carl and Mimi Raskin of Elegance.


The last job I had before starting the Sneak Preview in 1986 was as a substitute teacher at Lincoln Savage Middle School. For the lesson plan, the teacher arranged for a movie to be shown, and I thought it would be something boring like a documentary on the "Mating Habits of Pine Martens" or something. Instead, it was my favorite movie of all time, Back to the Future, and I watched it five times that day.
Winning this category for 2013 was Robert Bath, a science teacher at North Middle School. Bob grew up in southern California and received his undergraduate degree in Biology from UC-Irvine. He has been teaching secondary school for the last 23 years.
Other favorites included:

  • Lois MacMillan, Social Studies/History at South Middle School.
  • Shelly Bigelow, a P.E. teacher at South.


On the Three Rivers School District side of the ledger, the winner was Julie Barnes, a social studies teacher at Fleming Middle School, followed by:

  • Steve Stuckey, a language arts teacher at Fleming.
  • Mary Rae Anderson, a language arts teacher at Lincoln Savage.
  • Scott Zurhellen, a science teacher at Lincoln Savage.


Yeah, the principal might sit at the Big Desk and make Important Decisions, but it's the secretary who really runs the school. Our readers were able to name a few of them, including Dayle Powell of Madrona Elementary, who won this category for 2013.


By all rights, the Quiz Bowl team should get as much coverage as sports, but that ain't the world we live in. And when it comes to high school sports in the United States, football has reigned supreme for almost a hundred years. Nowhere is that more evident than in Grants Pass, where the Cavemen pack in the crowds on Friday nights at Mel Ingram Field.
And in that regard, our readers named GPHS Head Football Coach John Musser as their favorite. The Cavemen hope to improve on their 2012 record of 3-7.


It's not a sprawling campus of ivy-covered buildings like in Eugene or Corvallis, but Rogue Community College is a major economic and social engine in Josephine and Jackson Counties. They help provide an educated workforce plus an entertainment schedule of art, music and theater.
A number of RCC faculty were named by our readers, including this year's number one, Wayd Drake of the Humanities and Drama departments.
Also featured were:

  • Suzanne Chavez, Foreign Language Coordinator.
  • Midge Shaw, Humanities.
  • Chelsea Fine, Humanities.
  • Pat Enos, Art.
  • Donald Schultz, Science.


I used to go into a panic attack when visiting the dentist, but with all the innovations that have been developed over the last twenty years, it's like a walk in the park these days. I even received a complimentary hand-paraffin dip at the last dentist I visited.
Twenty-five different dentists were mentioned by our readers, and in the end Greg Bigelow and Richard Miller ended up sharing the top spot.
The vote was very close, however, and the Top Ten featured:

  • Steven Rogers.
  • Matt Johnston.
  • Michelle Johnson.
  • Sara Riechers.
  • Matt Hill.
  • Don Lanahan.
  • Ray Sutton.
  • Darren Huddleston.


My daughter is home for the summer, and we have been watching 3-4 reruns of House every day. The show always has one or two weird diseases that have to be diagnosed, and I almost feel as if I could hang my shingle somewhere and tell people, "no, you don't have a muscle disorder; it's merely a hole in your left ventricle that was not diagnosed." Or something like that.
And when it comes to diagnosing and curing illnesses, our readers most often mentioned Doctors Mark Rondeau and Tim Roberts.
Other favorites included:

  • Bruce Murray, MD.
  • Heather Kahn,MD.
  • Edmund Glovinsky, D.O.
  • Ed Groenhout, MD.
  • Tamara Medley at the Women's Health Center.
  • Dan Gleffe, family practitioner.
  • Eric Perry, MD.


There will never be a House-type TV show centering around naturopathic doctors and acupuncturists because in most cases, afflictions can be explained by something very simple, like a lack of selenium in the diet.
And in that regard, our readers most often named naturopathic doctors Ellen Heinitz and Kristen Plunkett of the Naturopathic Clinic.
On the acupuncture side of the ledger, most of the 13 acupuncturists in town were mentioned, with Raven Sara and Janet Moret landing at the top, followed by Gregory Doss, Lisa Berger, and Ellen Leonard.


There are a lot of famous nurses in history, from Florence Nightingale and Nurse Betty to Clara Barton and Nurse Ratched. Here in the Rogue Valley our readers were able to name quite a few nurses, starting with their favorite, Brenda Birdsong, RN, of Mountainview Family Practice.


The human body is chock full of hinges, pulleys and axles, each of which has to be in perfect harmony with the other. A lot of times, either because of accidents, injuries or general wear and tear, the system breaks down. And that's where a physical therapist can set everything straight.
Taking down number one is this category for 2013 was Chad Thorson of Impact Physical Therapy, followed by:

  • Jessie Elliot of Siskiyou Physical Therapy.
  • Anne O'Brien of Impact.
  • Donato Edsen of Riverside Physical Therapy.
  • Steve Baksay of Impact.


I always wondered who said, "It's better to look good than to feel good," so I looked it up. It was Fernando Lamas. Then I had to look him up. He was an Argentine actor who made it big in Hollywood playing "Latin lover" roles. And let me tell you ... his hair looked good!
Where would Fernando go if he were in Grants Pass wanting to look good? Landing at the top according to our readers was Kelcie Easter of Serendipity—Studio 201.
Others high on the list were:

  • Holly Knoll of Spa at Club Northwest.
  • Jackie McConnell of Panache.
  • Linda Whalen of Action Hair Design.
  • Amy Taradash at Spa at Club Northwest.
  • Sandy Graham of Studio 121.
  • Janie Peters at Red Heels Salon.
  • Kathy Gillaspie at Gillaspie's Hair Design.


You've seen those before and after pictures, right? The lady on the left looks like she'd just walked across the Sahara Desert, fighting off snakes and pit vipers, then voila, one visit to a beauty salon and a quick facial, and she suddenly looks like Michelle Pfeiffer.
Where to go for that perfect facial? Our readers most often picked AesthetiSpa, followed by:

  • Spa at Club Northwest.
  • La Bella Faccia.
  • Spa E'vie.
  • Thrive Wellness.
  • Headhunters.
  • Blue Door Salon.
  • Ambiance.


You just claimed third place in the National Anvil & Safe Weightlifting Tournament, and your muscles are aching like crazy. Where to go? Our readers named quite a few massage therapists, including this year's winner, Jessica Hull of Thrive Wellness.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Anita Crew.
  • Haley Berry.
  • Sheri Morris.
  • Suzanne Rosa.
  • Nancy Huebsch.
  • Cara Brown.


Pamper, vt: To treat with extreme or excessive care and attention. Syn., see indulge.
That pretty much describes what happens at a day spa, and in that regard our readers most often named the Club at Spa Northwest as their favorite, followed by:

  • AesthetiSpa.
  • Spa E'vie.
  • Blue Door Salon.
  • En Vogue.
  • Headhunters.
  • Ambiance.
  • Headquarters.


Owning a car is not an easy matter; it's almost like having another kid. You're constantly fretting that it will get into an accident, and every time something goes wrong, you rush it to the emergency room. Filling it up with gas is like giving it an allowance. On the positive side, they can never run off and join the circus and/or operate a meth lab.

  • Where to go when your child is acting up? The top vote-getter for 2013 was Tom's Auto Service at 242 NW F, followed by:
  • Huck's Garage.
  • Star Automotive.
  • Roe Motors GM.
  • Jim Sigel Chevrolet.
  • Autosmith.
  • Mock's Ford.
  • Wheeler Toyota.
  • Autopro.
  • Extreme Auto Repair.


I bought my first-ever brand new car in 1985, and within three weeks some idiot at a grocery store left his or her shopping cart unattended, and it rolled down the hill, smashing into my car. It was a big bummer. I immediately called an auto body shop and had the dent removed and got a new coat of paint on the door ... as good as new.
Where to go when something similar happens? Our readers most often picked DJ's Bump & Paint Parlor. The vote was close among the Top Three, and they included Apland's Collision Repair and Star Collision Center.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Roe Motors GM.
  • Ham's Body Shop.
  • Valle's Auto Body.
  • Grants Pass Collision Repair.


All of the lawyer jokes go flying out the window after you've been sued and really need a lawyer. Then you're ready to do bodily harm to anyone who even insinuates that your attorney isn't the most wonderful person on earth. And when it comes to wonderful attorneys, our readers most often mentioned Dennis James, who also won this category in 2010.
Others receiving lots of votes were:

  • Chris Mecca.
  • Jack Davis.
  • Ben Freudenberg.
  • Debra Cummings.
  • Jim Dole.
  • Richard Lane.
  • Pat Kelly.
  • Claudia Browne.
  • Matt Galli.


Being a police officer in Grants Pass and Josephine County is a little strange right now. Since some residents take a perverse pride in having the lowest property tax rate in the state because of a poorly-conceived law written in 1937, the rest of us have to suffer because there's no money for a jail, district attorney, juvenile detention center, or sheriff patrols.
Anyway, we still appreciate everything they do, and this year our readers named Grants Pass Public Safety Officer Pete Jenista as their favorite, followed by:

  • Officer Joe Robles of Grants Pass.
  • GP Public Safety Director Joe Henner.
  • GP Officer Laura Zeliff.
  • Sheriff Gil Gilbertson.


The earliest known surviving photograph was taken in 1825, printed from a metal plate, which was exposed under an ordinary engraving and copied by photographic means. Now, 188 years later, digital photography and Instagram have made this process available to everyone at a fraction of the cost.
Yes, everyone can point and click, but it takes a professional to do it right. Our readers were able to name a few local photographers, and landing at the top was Tim Bullard, who is the photographer for the Daily Courier.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Michael Newcomb.
  • Jim Ingraham.
  • Traci Buck.
  • Len Holzinger.
  • Bill Stanfill.


You just got a call from Hollywood and they want you for a part in the next Iron Man movie. It requires some killer abs, legs that won't quit, and an upper body to die for. Then you wake up. It inspires you, though, to be as fit as possible. Who do you call? Our readers named several, starting with Joey Villareal, a CrossFit advocate and personal trainer.
Also receiving their share of votes were:

  • Amanda Valle at Club Northwest.
  • J. Brown at Elemental Healing Arts.
  • Heidi Whitehead at YMCA.
  • Debbie Marshall at Thrive.


This is a labor of love, but if you're willing to put in the time and energy, it can be very rewarding. You definitely have to be a people-person, and you have to love food.
Our readers were able to name 26 different people in this survey, with the top nod going to Glen and Tawni Hendricks of The Vine.
They were followed by:

  • Jill Dini of the Bohemian.
  • Ryan Clark of the Bistro.
  • Bob and Darla Feil of the Train Depot and River's Edge.
  • Dave Thomason of Taprock and Elmer's.
  • Bret Musselman of 115 Broiler.
  • Tina Gotchall of the Powderhorn.
  • Tim and Sandra Mock of Beacon Bar & Grill.
  • Jodi Haines of MaMosa's.
  • Carol and Danny Walters of the R-Haus.


You don't want to get between a waitperson with a tray of food and his or her table. The odds of being trampled are high; kind of like facing down a rhino on the Serengetti. They're extremely focused and goal-oriented at that point in time. As soon as they land and reveal the "Mission Accomplished" banner, though, they revert back to the fun-loving people they are.
A total of 30 different waitpersons were singled out by our readers, and it turned out to be a tie between Tricia Walker of Elmer's and Carol Walters of the R-Haus.
The competition was fierce, though, and other favorites included:

  • Riese Proudfit of Circle J.
  • Dotti Kochis at 115 Broiler.
  • Debbie Hamblin at the Powderhorn.
  • Lance Gilmore at Taprock.
  • Joe Gomez of G Street Bar & Grill.
  • Kezia Taylor at the Laughing Clam.
  • Scott Waldie at Elmer's.


An older man walks into a bar wearing a stovepipe hat, a waistcoat and a phony beard. The bartender asks, "Going to a party?" He says "Yeah, a costume party. I'm supposed to come dressed as my love life." The bartender replies, "But you look like Abe Lincoln!" The man says, "That's right. My last four scores were seven years ago."
Sorry for the PG-13 joke. I think I've been at the computer too long. Maybe I need a drink! Where to go? Our readers had quite a few suggestions, and most often mentioned Kari Wegat of the Laughing Clam, followed by:

  • Bob Lewis of The Cedarwood.
  • Christian Hahn of Taprock.
  • Gail Hardin at the Beacon.
  • Dennis Getz of the Wonder Bur.
  • Kari Musselman of 115 Broiler.


The kitchen at any restaurant is a great example of controlled chaos. Orders come in, refrigerators are opened, oven temperatures are adjusted, and condiments, slabs of meat and vegetables are flying in every direction. Above it all, like a maestro at a symphony, stands the chef, and every night he deserves a standing ovation.
A number of local chefs were mentioned in this survey, with Richard Howard of Musashi taking down top honors.
Others receiving plenty of votes were:

  • Sandy Mock of Beacon.
  • Carrie Cattrall of MaMosa's.
  • Danny Walters of R-Haus.


From home remodeling to new construction, the industry is back on the move. The Great Recession is now becoming just a vague memory in the minds of a lot of builders, one that we hope will not be repeated.
And when it comes to builders, contractors, and carpenters, our readers named twenty different ones, starting with Kirk Chapman Construction.
The list also included:

  • Randy Hagerman.
  • Dave Jacoby.
  • Bedford Smith.
  • Dave Adams.


You gotta love a handyman who can take care of any problem, large or small, around the house. Almost makes me want to go to Handyman school. Taking down top honors in this category was Russell W. Foster Handyman Services, followed by:

  • Andy Pimentel.
  • Richard Siler.
  • Terry Cooke.
  • Mike "On the Spot" Malara.


You keep having this recurring nightmare. You're sitting in your patio garden having a vodka martini, and long vines suddenly crawl across your body, tying you to the chair, while a Venus flytrap named Audrey chugs down your drink. You wake up and immediately call your yard maintenance people to help restore your yard to sanity.
And when it comes to that, our readers named both Duane Geurin of Geurin Landscaping and Réné Paré of Mountain View Landscaping as their favorites.
They were followed in the balloting by:

  • Grow's Professional Land-scaping.
  • All American City Landscaping.
  • Randy Furtado of Three Oaks Landscaping.
  • Lloyd's Quality Landscape.


We all agree that the U.S. tax code is too long, but it's funny to hear politicians in Washington complain about it. In quotes taken from the Congressional Records, our elected representatives have listed the tax code as being anywhere between 2,500 and 2.5 million pages long. In reality, it's 13,458 pages, which is why you need an accountant and CPA when tax season rolls around.
Who to call? Our readers were able to single a few out, including this year's winner, Randy K. Jentzsch, followed by:

  • Ruthe Gunn.
  • Wayne Voigt.
  • Joan Haley.
  • Karen Bodeving.
  • Cynthia Harelson.
  • Mike Roots.


There were four contestants, and all of them were just cuter than the dickens. I had my family rank their favorites on a scale of 1-4, then, using a mathematical formula I honed in freshman year algebra, I came up with the winner: Piper Stricklan. It was close, however, and the cute runners-up were Payton Allen, Branden Wade Martin, and Amelia McKenzie.


It's been growing in popularity for years, and now there is an active discussion about having one or two Plazas for everyone to enjoy. Anything we can do to make the downtown area more appealing is a plus because there's nothing like a robust downtown to boost the morale of any town.
There are a lot of different stores in downtown Grants Pass, and our readers were able to name 26 of them as their favorites. Once again they selected The Kitchen Company, a store at 301 SE 6th Street, as their number one.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Grants Pass Pharmacy.
  • Chet's Garden Center.
  • Blind George's.
  • Never a Bum Steer.
  • Savannah Faire.
  • Bead Merchant/Violet Con-tinued.
  • Tierra del Sol.
  • Shop River Rock.
  • The Herb Shop.
  • Oregon Outpost.


Fred Meyer was the top dog in this category, beating out the other "big stores," Ross, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, and Bi-Mart.
When it comes to the "little stores," it was a tie between Rogue River Florist, a floral/gift shop located at 789 NE 7th, and Emilia's Closet, in Parkway Village.
The list also included:

  • Jan's Hallmark Store.
  • The Dollar Store.
  • Judy's Florist & Gifts.
  • Maurice's.
  • Probst Flower Shop.
  • Aquarius Books.


I don't know why the Vatican is spending so much energy trying to decide whether to confer sainthood on Pope John Paul II when everyone knows my mom deserved sainthood.
Where to go when I want to buy something special for St. Hazel? Most of our readers recommended the Kitchen Company or Jan's Hallmark Store, followed by:

  • Hellgate's River Rock Gift Shop.
  • Savannah Faire.
  • Grants Pass Pharmacy.
  • Rogue River Florist.
  • La Bella Casa.
  • Never a Bum Steer.
  • Tierra del Sol.
  • Bead Merchant/Violet Continued.


Most dads aren't into frou-frou gifts, but get him that new weedeater or a dozen Titleist Pro V1's, and he'll just get ecstatic.
And in that regard, the majority of our readers named Fred Meyer as the place to go, followed by:

  • Home Depot.
  • Diamond.
  • Grange Co-op.
  • CostCo.


We had five eligible contestants this year (repeats from last year were disallowed), and once again I lined all the pictures up and had my entire family vote on them. In the end, Murphy Galey won in a landslide.Runnersup included Rocky Draper, Willow Barrymore, Chewie Sheahan, and the fivesome of Mimi, Mr. Dudley, Aunt Rosie, Beans and Oly. Pictures of all contestants are printed here.


Children are amazing creatures. Every second of every day is a process of learning about the world they were brought into, and toys are a great facilitator in that education. Where to go when you want to find toys for the kids? Most of our readers were impressed with the selection at Wal-Mart, although Fred Meyer came in a close second.
Also mentioned were:

  • Sleadd's Adventure Depot.
  • Chesi Jo's Baby Boutique.


The first time early humans found a cave, they immediately built some lounge chairs to sit around the fire and drink grog. The home entertainment center was a few years down the road.
Where would our friendly cavemen go to find furniture today? The overwhelming choice was Gates Home Furniture, located at 700 SW 6th, followed by:

  • Parker's Furniture.
  • Aaron's Lease to Own.
  • Household Furniture & Appliances.
  • Active Home Furnishings.


One of the keys to staying healthy is getting a good night's sleep, and having the right mattress for you is extremely important. And when it comes to that, our readers most often picked both Mattress Experts (260 NE Agness) and Mattress Land (550 SW 6th) as a great place to start.
Others receiving lots of votes were:

  • Gates Furniture.
  • Quality Mattress.
  • Active Home Furnishings.


If anyone wants to know what it was like before electricity, read the chapter "The Sad Irons" from Robert Caro's first book on LBJ, The Path to Power. The life of the average homemaker was brutal before electrification, and this is one case where we can thank government for getting involved.
Anyway, where to go for refrigerators, washers, dryers, and other electrical appliances? Many of our readers mentioned Sears Home Services, followed by:

  • Household Furniture and Appliances.
  • Active Home Furnishings.
  • Home Depot.


Most funerals are a combination of good and bad. You're saying goodbye to a good friend but you're also celebrating his or her life in remembrance. Funeral homes do a great job of walking us through that whole process.
In this category, our readers most often mentioned both Stephens Family Chapel and Hull and Hull Funeral Directors.
Also receiving a lot of votes were:

  • Chapel of the Valley.
  • Lundberg's L.B. Hall Funeral Home.


Whether it's prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs, pharmacies provide a valuable service for the community, and our readers appreciate their efforts. It was a close-fought battle, but in the end both Grants Pass Pharmacy and Service Drugs won our readers' approval.
They were followed by:

  • Rite-Aid.
  • Bi-Mart.
  • Wal-Mart.
  • Walgreen's.
  • Fred Meyer.


It's been confirmed by the Human Genome Project that the shopping gene is located on the X chromosome. In a related study, it was found that the obsessing-over-the-playoffs gene is definitively located on the Y chromosome.
Where to go to shop for women's clothes? There's actually a lot of variety in Grants Pass, and our readers most often chose Fred Meyer, followed by:

  • Tierra del Sol
  • JC Penney's.
  • Emilia's Closet.
  • Ross Store.
  • Maurice's.
  • Consigning Women.
  • Rue 21.
  • Van Olpton's Boutique.
  • Goodwill.


The shopping options for men are not as extensive, and I won't even get into the socio-cultural reasons why. Just point me in the right direction when I need some new jeans. And in that regard, our readers most often named JC Penney's as their favorite, although Fred Meyer came in a close second.
Others receiving lots of votes were:

  • Ross Store.
  • Grange Co-op.
  • Bi-Mart.
  • Goodwill.
  • Roley's Pacific Supply.


They're "one of the oldest known forms of body modification" (Wikipedia) and are even mentioned in the Bible. Plus they look really good. Where to go when shopping for earrings? Our readers mentioned both Hart's Jewelry and Never a Bum Steer as their favorites, followed by:

  • Fred Meyer.
  • Chuck King Jewelry.
  • Growers' Market Craft Fair.
  • Maurice's.
  • Bead Merchant/Violet Continued.
  • J. Austin Coin & Jewelry.


It's the little things in life that can sometimes be the most pleasing. Having a nice wood floor, a beautiful carpet, and some tasteful blinds/drapes on the windows can make the difference between happiness and just accepting our fate. I may be exaggerating a little bit, but you get the gist.
And when it comes to window coverings, our readers most often named Colonial Decorators, although Draperies 'N' Things and Mr. Mini Blind also received a lot of votes, along with Jueden Custom Drapery & Design.
For floor coverings, they turned to Lippert's Carpets, followed by Inkrote Floors.
Home Depot and Diamond Home Improvement were also mentioned.


Working around flowers will make anyone happy, and in that regard our readers most often appreciate the friendly service from Probst Flower Shop, where Pat and Michelle's family have been serving the Rogue Valley since 1978, buying it from the Probst family who'd been here since the early 1940s.
The voting was close, however, as Rogue River Florist, Judy's Grants Pass Florist & Gifts, and Chet's Garden Center all received their share of votes.


I should have that bumper sticker that says, "I Brake for Garden Nurseries." Every time I walk into a store that sells flowers, I walk out with two pallets in my arms. It's gotten so bad that my family did an intervention and checked me into the Betty Ford Center for Landscaping Addiction.
A lot of our readers share that addiction, and once again they named Chet's Garden Center at 229 SW H Street as their favorite.
They were followed by:

  • Greenleaf Greenhouse.
  • The Grange Co-Op.
  • Bi-Mart.
  • Home Depot.
  • Diamond Home Improvement.
  • Redwood Nursery.
  • Sandy's Nursery.
  • Fred Meyer.
  • Growers' Market.


Grants Pass has become known as a mecca for antique lovers throughout the Pacific Northwest. To add to the allure, the Antique & Collectible Street Fair held every May has become extremely popular.
Most of the local antique stores were mentioned by our readers, including the two favorites, Old Town Antique Mall at 324 SW 6th, and Elegance, across the street at 331 SE 6th.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Blue Moon.
  • Gasoline Alley.
  • H Street Antiques.
  • Stovepipe Antiques.


Most grocery stores are like mini social events, as you can run into friends, neighbors and family. A quick stop for a few essentials can turn into an hour-long gossip session.
Where do our readers like to go to socialize and shop for food? Many of them mentioned Albertson's and Safeway, closely followed by:

  • Fred Meyer.
  • Cartwright's.
  • Gooseberries.
  • Grocery Outlet.
  • Ray's.
  • Farmer's Market.


During my bachelor days, my kitchen utensils consisted of a frying pan for eggs and a pot to boil water for macaroni and cheese. After I met my wife, a whole new world opened up to me, including strainers, wooden spoons and thermometers. I never knew such things existed ... just kidding.
Anyway, winning this category again was The Kitchen Company, located in downtown Grants Pass at 301 SE 6th Street.
Also received votes were:

  • Fred Meyer's.
  • Wal-mart.
  • La Bella Casa.
  • The Dollar Store.


Someone called in asking for this category, and we're still not sure exactly what a "child care provider" is. And neither are our readers as they concentrated on day care centers with their answers.
In that regard, the top choice was Kids Kastle Day Care & Preschool, followed by:

  • Little People's Day Care.
  • Coalition for Kids Day Care.
  • Kid Zone at Club Northwest.


Getting old doesn't have to be a drag. If you're surrounded by good friends and attentive staff in a relaxing environment, it could actually be fun. My philosophy is that a day in the life is no different at 88 than it is at 18. It's still 24 hours, and you decide what to do with it.
Moving right along, there are a number of high quality retirement centers in Grants Pass, and our readers mentioned most of them, including the top two, Oak Lane and Foothill Retirement Center.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Spring Village.
  • Countryside Village.
  • Highland House.
  • The Bridge.


The world's first purpose-built gas station was constructed in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1905 (the second one was in Seattle). Today, there are 118,756 of them in the United States. So fill 'er up, boys.
Where to go when you want to be part of the 118,756? Our readers most often mentioned Fred Meyer, at the corner of the Parkway and Beacon Drive.
Other favorites are:

  • Larry Henderson's "A" Street Chevron.
  • Lonnie's Texaco at 7th & Morgan.
  • Redwood Texaco.
  • Towne Pump.
  • The ARCO Station at 7th & "M."


When our readers just have to get out of town, they most often go to CostCo and Trader Joe's in Medford, closely followed by:

  • Macy's at the Mall.
  • TJ Maxx.
  • Crafter's Warehouse.
  • Barnes & Noble.
  • Target.
  • Paddington Station in Ashland.



Everything seems to be going along fairly smoothly at the City Council these days (knock on wood). As long as they keep their eyes on the ball and don't buy too many $100,000 bus shelters, we should all be fine. But seriously, you can almost buy an entire house for $100,000!
Anyway, taking down top honors in this category was Lily Morgan, followed by:

  • Dan DeYoung.
  • Jim Williams.


There are two brand new county commissioners this year, and one of them, Cherryl Walker, was voted favorite by our readers. Simon Hare came in a close second.


Quite a few people were happy that the county commissioners put the public safety levy back on the ballot last May and, in fact, it came within two percentage points of passing. Other than that, our readers were scratching their heads trying to come up with something positive that government did last year.


A lot of people are upset over the revolving door at the jail, along with the lack of sheriff's patrols and no juvenile detention center. The money for that has to come from somewhere, though, and in the Dream World of Josephine County, residents think it's just going to be given to them because, you know, they deserve a free handout. Don't get me started.


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. Would you vote for a small levy to fund the jail? This is something I proposed over a year ago, when the first public safety levy failed. Lane County, which has seen numerous public safety levies fail over the last ten years, put a jail levy on the ballot just last November, and it passed 60% to 40%. So instead of asking voters for the whole enchilada, you propose a modest increase in taxes to pay for the most crucial element, the jails. Some may argue that other things are just as crucial, but while we're debating the merits of this and that, criminals are running free and making a mockery of crime prevention in Grants Pass and Josephine County. Our readers absolutely agree with me.

Yes, will vote for the jail: 74%
No, bad idea: 26%

2. Should Josephine County government turn everything over to the state? This has become an issue lately, as O&C counties like Josephine and Curry have run out of money. The federal government has cut them off from their O&C welfare payments, and the citizens have become so used to living on welfare that they refuse to pony up. There's talk of having the National Guard take over police duties in Josephine County, and of bureaucrats in Salem running the administration. What do you our readers think?

Yes, State should take over: 9%
No, they shouldn't: 91%

3. Should transients be required to work for food and shelter? This sounds insensitive, but sometimes tough love is the only way to turn someone around. When you know you can get something for nothing, why take the initiative to improve your life? Our readers agree with this sentiment.

Yes, they should have to work: 90%
No, they shouldn't: 10%

4. Should the City close off 5th Street between G & H for a pedestrian mall? The model for this mall is beautiful and will certainly be a fun place to hang out. It's kind of off the beaten track but maybe if you build it, they will come. Once the parking issues get corrected, it would be a nice addition to downtown. Our readers agree.

Yes, build it: 60%
No, don't: 40%

* * * * *
And there we go. That only took three fingers of Old Granddad. Part II of the "Best of the Rogue Valley" will include Restaurants and Entertainment and will be featured in our September issue. Later! —C.H.


Since Part I of the "Best of the Rogue Valley" hit the stands, we've been hit with massive forest fires and smoke inhalation. Here's one thing I don't understand: We can spend a zillion dollars to develop the nuclear bomb, put a man on the moon, and download the entire contents of the Library of Congress onto an iPhone, and we can't figure out how to put out forest fires. Something's not right here.
But let's move on to more important things, specifically Part II of the "Best of the Rogue Valley," featuring restaurants and entertainment. As always, multiple ties will be awarded in any category where the votes had a difference of five or less at the top.



If our readers are staying on top of their culinary game and actually know what they're talking about, then there were officially eight new restaurants/bakeries in the Grants Pass area last year.
The voting for the top spot was neck and neck this year, but after the last precincts were counted, the Bohemian Bar & Bistro, Jill Dini's new establishment at 233 SW G, edged out Roux 26.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Kobe Buffet at 1150 NE E in the Grants Pass Shopping Center.
  • Infuzed Express at 401 NE F.
  • La Burrita's new location at 1501 NE F.
  • Babe's Bakery at 1701 NE 6th.
  • Avenue Diner, located at 1867 Redwood Ave.
  • Dassh Bakery at 102 SW 5th.


All night long your stomach has peacefully acquiesced to that notion that it wasn't going to get any food for 8-9 hours. Then BAM, once you wake up, patience is not its strong suit. It wants to be fed, and it wants it NOW.
Where to go to placate the demands of your stomach? The Top Four were very close, and our readers named both Elmer's Restaurant (175 NE Agness) and Black Bear Diner (1900 NW 6th), number one, followed closely by the Train Depot, located at 577 NE F; and the Powderhorn Café at 321 NE 6th.
The favorites also included:

  • MaMosa's, at 118 NW E.
  • The Gold Miner Restaurant at 786 SE 7th.
  • Taprock Northwest Grill (971 SE 6th).
  • Shari's, at 190 NE Agness.
  • Black Forest, in the Grants Pass Shopping Center.
  • Herb's LaCasita, at 515 SE Rogue River Highway.


You have an appointment scheduled with the head of the Chinese delegation in order to discuss your idea to sell widgets in China (sell one billion of them for a dollar each, and you're suddenly a billionaire). Hoping to make an impression, you look through the list of outstanding restaurants in Grants Pass that offer lunch, and if you're anything like our readers, you'll have to decide between forty different ones.
In the last analysis, you'll follow the advice of our voters, who chose the comfortable surroundings of the Taprock Northwest Grill at 971 SE 6th, overlooking the Rogue River and Riverside Park.
The Top Five were very close and they included:

  • Rosso's Delicatessen at 225 SE 6th.
  • Wild River Brewing & Pizza Company, at 595 NE E.
  • River's Edge at 1936 Rogue River Hwy.
  • Elmer's.

Also mentioned a lot were:

  • The Vine at 1610 Allencreek Road.
  • 115 Broiler.
  • Abu's Oasis Deli at 1330 NW 6th.
  • Blondie's, located at 226 SW G.
  • The Powderhorn Café.
  • Circle J at 241 SW G.


If you like eggs, you're going to love omelets. They take three eggs and stuff them with things like cheese, vegetables and meats, then flip them over to produce the perfect breakfast entrée.
Where to go for perfection? Most of our readers went gaga over the omelets at the Powderhorn Cafe, followed by:

  • Elmer's.
  • Black Bear Diner.
  • Train Depot.
  • Herb's LaCasita.
  • MaMosa's.
  • Della's.
  • Shari's.


Bacon is almost an aphrodisiac for some people, and the perfect combination is to add some lettuce and tomatoes to it, making it America's all-time favorite lunchtime sandwich. Seriously, Google it.
Our readers were all over the bacon landscape on this one, reserving their top nod to both Taprock Northwest Grill and Black Bear Diner.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Goldminer's Restaurant.
  • Elmer's.
  • Wonder Bur Café.
  • Elmer's.
  • Black Forest.
  • Train Depot.


Sometimes you just don't feel like going for that 2,500-calorie lunch or dinner. You want something that will be filling yet not a total protein-bomb. A fresh, homemade soup is just the answer, and in that regard, our readers most often mentioned Rosso's, followed by:

  • Roux 26.
  • Sunshine Natural Foods.
  • Babe's Bakery.
  • Wild River.
  • Bohemian Bar & Bistro.
  • Laughing Clam.


Back in the Caveman days, there wasn't a whole lot of refrigeration. You just couldn't pull a mastodon thigh out of the freezer at night as leftovers from that hunt two months previous. Half the time you had to resort to ... vegetables and salads!
Where does our friendly Caveman go when the mastodon cache has run out? These votes were spread out fairly evenly at the top with Elmer's, Taprock, Sizzler (1871 NE 7th) and GoodnessGraciousCafé (221 SW G) all receiving a lot of votes.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Wild River.
  • Applebee's.
  • Vine.
  • Sunshine Natural Foods.
  • Twisted Cork.
  • Train Depot.


The next best thing to eating at home for dinner is to find a restaurant that makes you feel as if you're right at home. And when it comes to that, our readers mentioned 15 different local restaurants, with 115 Broiler, R-Haus and River's Edge taking down top honors.
It was very close, however, as Taprock Northwest Grill received a lot of votes.
Other favorites included:

  • Roux 26.
  • The Vine.
  • Blondie's.
  • Twisted Cork.
  • Della's.
  • The Bistro.


"Romance" sometimes can mean simply getting away from the fast lane and stepping into an establishment that caters to your every wish at lunch even when it's 102° outside and forest fires are raging right outside the doors. Sounds "romantic" to me.
And when our readers wanted to find a serene, romantic background for lunch, they most often chose both Twisted Cork at 210 SW 6th and Taprock Northwest Grill, closely followed by:

  • The Vine.
  • River's Edge.
  • 115 Broiler.
  • Blondie's Bistro.
  • Roux 26.
  • Rosso's.


The list of people who have written us letters over the years thanking us profusely for recommending a romantic restaurant for dinner, which then turned into marriage proposals, is too long to even count ... just kidding. Our readers were, however, in a romantic mood when they filled out this category as they named River's Edge as number one in this category.
The Top Four were really close, as R-Haus, 115 Broiler and Taprock all received a lot of votes, followed by:

  • The Vine.
  • Twisted Cork.
  • Roux 26.
  • The Bistro.
  • The Bohemian.
  • Blondie's.


Red meat sometimes gets a bad rap from cardiologists, and you probably don't want to eat it morning, noon and night, but a nice juicy steak a couple of nights a week has to be good for you. It just tastes too good and is packed with necessary protein.
Anyway, taking down top honors in this category were our friendly steak-servers over at 115 Broiler, located at 115 NW D.
The list also included:

  • R-Haus.
  • Applebee's.
  • Sizzler.
  • Taprock Northwest Grill.
  • Vine
  • Blondie's Bistro.
  • Della's.
  • Roux 26.


Water covers over two-thirds of the earth, and the amount of wildlife under the ocean is staggering. Here's hoping that commercial fishermen know what they're doing and are replenishing what they remove, because having a tasty halibut or ahi or red snapper is one of the comfort foods of life.
Our readers agreed and named 15 different establishments that serve great seafood, including the number one choice, the Laughing Clam, located at 121 SW G. They were followed closely by 115 Broiler.
Others high on the list were:

  • Taprock Northwest Grill.
  • River's Edge.
  • The Vine.
  • Twisted Cork.
  • Applebee's.
  • R-Haus.
  • McGrath's and Red Lobster in Medford.


Pasta is a type of noodle and a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine, which dates back to the first century BC. It's typically made from an unleavened dough of wheat flour mixed with water. Wikipedia can sure make someone seem smart, can't it?
And when it comes to pasta, our readers are very smart, choosing The Vine, located in the Allendale Shopping Center, as their favorite, followed by:

  • Rosso's.
  • The Bistro.
  • Olive Garden in Medford.
  • Applebee's.
  • Roux 26.
  • River's Edge.


They're descended from a beautiful bird called the Red Junglefowl and were probably first domesticated in Southeast Asia back in the day. Thanks to humans, they have expanded to 24 billion birds worldwide, providing us with both meat and eggs.
Where would Friends of Red Junglefowl like to go locally when wanting to partake in some really good chicken dishes? Number one this year was Applebee's, located at 250 NE Agness Avenue, followed by:

  • Taprock Northwest Grill.
  • River's Edge.
  • R-Haus.
  • Matsukaze.
  • The Vine.
  • Abu's Oasis Deli.


If only Congress could approach the immigration bill as efficiently as Mexican restaurants are run. They could sit down, order a margarita, write a couple of rough drafts over salsa and chips (with a side of guacamole), meet in full session with an order of macho burritos and chicken fajitas, then take the final vote with a complimentary serving of flan for dessert.
Our readers are very appreciative of all the great Mexican restaurants in the valley as they named twelve of them in this survey. The number one choice was both Si Casa Flores at 202 Beacon Drive and Taqueria Mexico (137 SE H).
The Top Five were actually pretty close and they included:

  • Casa Amiga (1720 Redwood Avenue).
  • La Burrita, at 1501 NE F.
  • Tacos Locos in the Allen Creek Shopping Center.
  • Also mentioned a lot were:
  • El Paraiso, located at 201 E. Park Street.
  • El Patron (799 Rogue River Highway).
  • Angela's Hacienda, at 111 NE Hillcrest.
  • Kalypsso Latin Cuisine, at 775 SE 6th.
  • Muchas Gracias at 1999 NE 7th.
  • Lupita's, located at the corner of 7th & E.


These are so addictive they could easily be placed on the Attorney General's list of banned substances. Just kidding, but when you stuff a fresh poblano or Anaheim chile pepper with all kinds of goodies, then cover it with deep-fried egg batter, you want to order more ... and more ... and more.
Where to go for great chile rellenos? Our readers most often named La Burrita, followed by:

  • Si Casa Flores.
  • Tacos Locos.
  • Casa Amiga.
  • Taqueira Mexico.
  • El Paraiso.


They may not be the national drink of Mexico (that would probably be the "atole"), but it's certainly taken the United States by storm. Our readers definitely love their margaritas, as they placed three different establishments at the top of their list: Tacos Locos, Si Casa Flores and Taqueria Mexico.
Others receiving lots of votes were:

  • Casa Amiga.
  • Angela's.
  • La Burrita.
  • El Paraiso.
  • El Patron.
  • Bohemia Bar & Grill.


We're only separated by a teensy-weensy little ocean, so we're practically neighbors to Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam and Thailand, which are the main Asian restaurants prevalent in the Rogue Valley. And when it comes to that, our readers named 15 of them as their favorites, and we will take the liberty of naming all of them.
We'll start at the top, where both Matsukaze, located at 1675 NE 7th, and HongKong (820 NW 6th) were mentioned most often.
The favorites also included:

  • Pongsri's, at 323 NE E.
  • A Taste of China (211 NE A).
  • Royal Barge, at 120 SW H.
  • Thai BBQ at 428 SW 6th.
  • China Hut (1434 NW 6th).
  • Sunflower Thai Cuisine (1571 NE 6th).
  • Pho Sur, a Vietnamese restaurant at 1887 NE 7th.
  • Hunan Garden, located in the Grants Pass Shopping Center.
  • Musashi Sushi Bar & Japanese Cuisine, located at 314 SE H.
  • China Buffet, at 144 SE 7th.
  • Shiki Sushi Bar, at 125 SE G.
  • Saigon Xich Lo, the food cart.
  • Four Seasons at 122 SE K.


Thailand has become such a popular tourist destination that the movie Hangover II was filmed there. Where will Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis go when they're stuck in the Rogue Valley while filming Hangover VII and want to reprise their roles in a Thai restaurant? Most of our readers chose Thai BBQ, followed by:

  • Pongsri's.
  • Royal Barge.
  • Sunflower Thai Cuisine.
  • Pho Sur.


If you thought Japan was just a small island country in the north Pacific, you would be wrong. It's actually an archipelago of 6,852 islands with over 126 million people. The greater Tokyo area, in fact, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million people.
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 knives were out for this category, as the fun-loving crew at Musashi edged out Shiki Sushi Bar by a whisker.
Also receiving lots of votes were the guys at Matsuakze.


This isn't just pizza and pasta, but an ambiance that makes you think of Rome and Tuscany. A few original Michelangelo friezes would help, and some sculptures by Modigliani, but unless you have a couple of million dollars to spend on ambience, it's not totally necessary.
When it comes to Italian restaurants, our readers once again mentioned both The Vine (1610 Allen Creek Road) and The Bistro (2008 NW 6th Street) as their favorites.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Rosso's Delicatessen.
  • Olive Garden in Medford.


I love the scene in Lady and the Tramp when the two dogs share a pizza together. Or was that spaghetti? Well, if it wasn't pizza, it should have been, because this Italian delicacy has something to appeal to everyone.
Where would Lady and the Tramp go in the remake of that classic old movie? Most of our readers recommended Wild River BrewingCompany, located at 595 NE E, followed closely by Abby's Legendary Pizza (in the Williams Plaza and on NE Beacon), and The Bistro.
Others high on the list featured:

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


You have to bring a big appetite because it's all-you-can-eat when you step up to the buffet line for the third or fourth time. And when it comes to buffet, our readers most often mentioned ChinaBuffet, located at 144 SE 7th, followed closely by KobeSushiBuffet.
The R-Haus was also mentioned a lot.
On the salad bar front, the big vote-getter was Sizzler, at 1871 NE 7th, followed by:

  • Abby's Pizza.
  • Sunshine Natural Foods.
  • Wild River Brewing Co.


Believe it or not, you can get the exact same nutritional requirements from a vegetarian diet as you can from the traditional Western diet ... you just have to work a little harder at it and use some creativity.
Where to go when you want to get creative? Our readers loved the selection at Natural Foods Café, located at 128 SW H, followed closely by Abu's Oasis Deli (1330 NW 6th).
Others making the list were:

  • The Vine.
  • Thai BBQ.
  • Pongsri's.
  • Twisted Cork.
  • River's Edge.
  • Blondie's Bistro.


I was at a party once and overheard a heated argument between two guys over which was better—Texas BBQ or Carolina BBQ. Apparently, it's all in the sauce, but I thought there was going to be another Civil War on our hands.
You certainly don't have to travel to Houston or Raleigh to get your hands on some great BBQ. Number one locally among our readers was Leo's BBQ Bar & Grill, located at 6401 Rogue River Highway.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Casa Amiga.
  • Thai BBQ.
  • Cartwright's.
  • Applegate River Ranch House.


You get to the restaurant famished and there is seriously no way you're going to wait. You immediately ask for the appetizer menu and order buffalo wings, mushroom puffs, tomato and cheese skewers, and some bacon-wrapped pineapple shrimps. By the time dinner comes, you're stuffed and move straight onto dessert.
Where to go to start dinner off right? Our readers most often named both Applebee's and the Bohemian Bar & Grill.
The list also included:

  • Blondie's Bistro.
  • Twisted Cork.
  • Taprock Northwest Grill.
  • Laughing Clam.
  • Roux 26.
  • 115 Broiler.
  • R-Haus.
  • River's Edge.


One of my favorite books is Art of the Bar, written by two bartenders at the Absinthe Brasserie & Bar in San Francisco. They go through all of the most exotic drinks throughout time, from the Singapore Sling and Sazerac to the Mint Julep, Cosmopolitan and the Quarterdeck (rum, sherry, lime juice, angostura bitters).
Taking down top billing in this category for 2013 was The Bohemian Bar & Grill, followed by:

  • Taprock Northwest Grill.
  • Blondie's Bistro.
  • Applebee's.


I grew up in a family of nine kids, and every night our mom had a dessert ready for all of us. That is just one of the reasons she was recently nominated for sainthood at the Vatican.
Where would St. Hazel go if she were to visit Grants Pass looking for some great desserts?
Our readers were most fond of both Powderhorn Café and Shari's.
The list also included:

  • Blondie's Bistro.
  • 115 Broiler.
  • R-Haus.
  • Wild River.
  • Bluestone Bakery & Coffee.
  • Twisted Cork.
  • Applebee's.
  • Taprock Northwest Grill.
  • The Vine.


They're a quick shot of energy and they taste great, from donuts and bear claws to baklava and croissants. They can also be addictive, so try not to end up in a Bear Claw Rehab Unit.
When it comes to local pastries, our readers most often mentioned both 4th Street Bakery-Deli at 200 NW 4th and Babe's Bakery at 1701 NE 6th.
They were followed by:

  • Bluestone Bakery & Coffee Café.
  • Jelly Donut.
  • Dassh Bakery.
  • Chocolate Affair.


Don't be fooled by watching the placid Rogue River flow by. Underneath the water, it's a massive system of energy propelled by deadly currents, undercurrents, eddies and debris. Armed with that knowledge, your river-watching experience can be taken to a whole new level.
And where to best apply that newfound knowledge? Most readers mentioned both the Taprock Northwest Grill, located right on the river next to the Caveman Bridge and across from Riverside Park, and River's Edge, with fantastic picture windows and outdoor seating.
The list also included:

  • R-Haus.
  • Galice Resort.
  • Morrison's Lodge.
  • O.K. Corral (via the Hellgate Jetboat Excursions).


It may look like an easy job, but waiting tables can be extremely demanding and stressful, requiring the utmost in concentration. To the credit of waitstaff everywhere, they continue to show a smiling face amid all the chaos.
Our readers were able to pinpoint 26 different restaurants in this survey, reserving their most praise for the waitstaff at Taprock Northwest Grill, followed by:

  • River's Edge.
  • 115 Broiler.
  • Elmer's.
  • Powderhorn Café.
  • Twisted Cork.
  • Train Depot.
  • Wild River.
  • Herb's LaCasita.


According to Wikipedia, the first fast food restaurants originated in the United States in 1919 with A&W, and in 1921 with White Castle. Most of today's chains are multinational corporations with outlets all across the world.
Here in good old Grants Pass, we had an exact three-way tie in this category between Jimmy's Classic Drive-In (515 NE E), Burger King (north and south), and Carl's Jr. (in three locations).
Others mentioned quite a bit were:

  • Arby's.
  • Taco Bell.
  • Casablanca Coffee & Grill.
  • McDonald's.
  • Jack in the Box.
  • Dairy Queen.
  • Wendy's.
  • Sonic Drive-In.


There's actually a secret to making great burgers, and I have been sworn to secrecy by a number of local chefs. A hint: it's all in the wrist and how you flip the burger. No? Well, then, find your own mole in the restaurant industry if you don't believe me.
Where to find that perfect burger? A lot of our readers turned to the creations at Jimmy's Classic Drive-In, followed by:

  • Burger King.
  • Eddie's Old Fashioned Burgers.
  • Carl's Jr.
  • McDonald's.
  • Wonder Bur Café.
  • Wendy's.
  • Jack in the Box.


Per the Third Law of Thermodynamics, it's almost physically impossible to eat a hamburger without having a side order of fries. Where do people go when they want to comply with the laws of nature? A lot of our readers turned to the creations at Bohemian Bar & Grill, located downtown on G Street.
The voting was close at the top as Jimmy's Classic Drive-In and Circle J came in a close second and third, followed by:

  • McDonald's.
  • Carl's Jr.
  • Wendy's.
  • Dairy Queen.
  • Wonder Bur Café.
  • Sonic Drive-In.
  • Wild River.


Making a great sandwich is actually an art. Rumor has it that Michelangelo had been admitted to the Sandwich Making College of Bologna before he realized he was actually good at painting murals on top of ceilings. Don't believe me? Google it.
Anyway, where would Michelangelo go when he wanted to get really creative sandwiches? Many of our readers recommended Circle J Café, located downtown on G Street.
The list also included:

  • Quizno's.
  • Subway Sandwiches.
  • Millie's.
  • Wild River Brewing Company.
  • Pita Pit.
  • Taprock Northwest Grill.
  • Beacon Bar & Grill.


This doesn't necessarily have to be the entire family. Some people, like the crazy aunt living in the attic, really don't need to be seen in public ... just kidding. But when you do pile everyone into the station wagon (do they still make station wagons?) for a night on the town, where would our readers recommend you go? Many of them chose the friendly confines of both Taprock Northwest Grill and Wild River Brewing Company.
Also making the list a lot were:

  • Black Bear Diner.
  • Elmer's.
  • Casa Amiga.
  • Abby's.
  • Hong Kong.
  • Applebee's.


This job is so important that it deserves a cabinet position at the White House. Secretary of Coffee Serving or Secretary of Offense (caffeine gets everyone going) ... or something like that.
When it comes to baristas, our readers named quite a few, including this year's winner Sarah Isabelle, manager of the Dutch Brothers' store at the Shopping Center.


This is a place where you can get coffee, mingle with friends, sit in the corner and write the Great American Novel, get caught up with all the local gossip by overhearing conversations, and solve all the world's problems with the able assistance of our good friend caffeine.
Our readers mentioned seven different coffeehouses as their favorites, starting with their number one choice, Dutch Brothers, located at the corner of 6th & D.
The list also included:

  • Human Bean.
  • Rogue Coffee Roasters.
  • Bluestone Bakery.
  • Ethereal Café.
  • Starbucks.
  • Casablanca.


To all those who mentioned restaurants in Cabo san Lucas, New York City and Seattle, we thank you for your input, but we didn't mean that much outside Grants Pass. We were thinking more along the lines of a 45-minute drive, tops.
Leading the way this year was the Olive Garden in Medford, followed by:
Home Town Buffet in Medford.

  • Red Lobster in Medford.
  • Porter's in Medford.
  • The Jacksonville Inn.
  • Galice Resort.
  • Morrison's Lodge outside Galice.
  • India Palace in Medford.
  • Peerless Restaurant in Ashland.



The weather every Tuesday night is almost always perfect, and the only thing you have to worry about is smoke from forest fires. Last year our readers loved the appearance in late July by the Sound Stage Review during the "Back to the 50s Celebration."
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Funktional Fusion.
  • Reggae band Indubious.


Our readers were all over the stage on this one before finally settling on the appearance by Curtis Salgado at the Black, White and the Blues fundraising event last winter.


A lot of musical orchestras and groups journey to Grants Pass to take advantage of the outstanding acoustics at the Grants Pass High School Performing Arts Center.
The Rogue Valley Symphony, under the direction of Martin Majkut, brings in the crowds, and they were mentioned most often by our readers in this survey. The concert last September featuring soloist Stephanie Chase on violin was singled out.
Also receiving votes were:

  • Rogue Opera's concert Madame Butterfly in April.
  • The Rogue Valley Women's a Cappella Chorus's "Holiday Presents" concert in December.


It attracts some of the top names in the musical industry, and they pack them in practically every night during the summer months in Jacksonville. Our readers were definitely impressed, and they named Michael Franti & Spearhead as their favorite act, followed by:

  • Heart.
  • Willie Nelson.
  • Bush.
  • Ziggy Marley.
  • Dukes of September.


The Rogue Valley has a wealth of artistic talent, and First Friday Art Night is a chance for them to show off a little bit. It's also a great social event, as downtown Grants Pass is packed with people enjoying art, food, refreshments and entertainment.
Especially popular with our readers was the "whole scene on G Street," with the Grants Pass Museum of Art, Laughing Clam, Glass Forge and others catering to the crowds.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • FireHouse Gallery.
  • Kitchen Company.
  • Roux 26.
  • Elegance.
  • Twisted Cork.


Quite a few local artists were mentioned by our readers, including this year's winner, Julie Bickle, who has a studio in the Rogue Valley and is also an art teacher at Hidden Valley High School.
Others on the list featured:

  • Donna Walsh.
  • Del Hearn.
  • Janet Higgins.
  • Bob Worley.
  • Cheri Van Syoc.


A thriving downtown isn't just about brick-and-mortar stores. It's also the overall ambience and special events that draw people and turn the downtown core into a vibrant, exciting destination.
The Towne Center Association, along with the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Grants Pass, and the Visitor's Center work together to present a number of events throughout the season. The two most popular, according to our readers, are The Back to the 50s Celebration in July and the Art Along the Rogue promotion in the fall.
Others receiving lots of votes were:

  • The Cool Yule Celebration.
  • Tap Walk in October.
  • The First Friday Art Night.
  • The Antique Fair.
  • The Wine Strolls.


It's officially named the Reinhart Volunteer Park after the man who led the way, along with the hundreds of volunteers who did all the grunt work to get it constructed. It's now used by thousands of people every week and is a testament to what can happen if a community can just concentrate on the positive.
It certainly has something for everyone and topping the list in this survey was the Footbridge that crosses the Rogue River.
The list also included:
The many walking trails.
Fishing ponds.
The shaded playground.
Variety of playing fields.
The doggy bags.


We're not going to host the World Cup next year nor the Olympics in 2016, but other than that, Grants Pass isn't that much different from Rio de Janeiro. Or have I been drinking too many margaritas?
There are some great sporting events in Josephine County, including this year's favorite, American Legion baseball games at the All-Sports Park.
Coming in a close second were the horse races at Grants Pass Downs, followed by:

  • The Boatnik Race.
  • Any high school playoffs.
  • GPHS football.
  • Little League games.
  • Special Olympics.


Every day through late spring to early autumn, 15 to 20 boats leave the boat ramp at Hellgate Excusions, giving thousands of people a chance to enjoy the Rogue River in an up close and personal way. What makes the experience so enjoyable is the entertaining style of the jetboat drivers who mix a little history and nature notes with good humor and a down home delivery.
Topping the charts this year with our readers was jetboat driver DonnieBrent.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Mark Higgins.
  • Rick Olsen.
  • Brent Coon.


While this country's health care industry hemorrhages money, most of us are working overtime to try and stay healthy. Yes, it takes some motivation and requires a little bit of work, but the health and monetary benefits in the long run more than make up for it.
Where to go to get a workout? Many of our readers chose both Club Northwest, located on NW Vine Street, and the Grants Pass Family YMCA on Redwood Avenue.
Others receiving lots of votes were:

  • Thrive Wellness.
  • Knockout Fitness.
  • Nitrofit.
  • Curves for Women.
  • Anytime Fitness.
  • The Zoo Health Club.
  • Crossfit Grants Pass.


I met my wife at a singles dance back in 1988, and we ended up winning the dance contest that night, so I have a soft spot in my heart for dancing. Where do our readers go when they want to cut the rug? Many of them mentioned the G Street Bar & Grill, followed by:

  • Herb's Shenanigans.
  • J.D.'s.
  • The Vault.
  • The Fairgrounds during the County Fair.
  • Cedarwood Saloon.
  • Grants Pass Community Center.
  • Black, White & the Blues.


It was founded in 1981 by renowned wildlife rehabilitator J. David Siddon as a place "to provide for the care and treatment of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife." The center currently operates under the direction of David Siddon, Jr., who continues on with his father's mission. The center is staffed by more than 80 dedicated volunteers who donate nearly 1,400 hours each month. For more info or to donate money to this nonprofit center, call 541-476-0222.
Meanwhile, our readers chimed in on their favorite animals at W.I., naming the bears number one this year.
The list also included:

  • The cougars.
  • Eagles.
  • The owls.
  • Mountain lions.
  • The otters.
  • Wolves.


The Rogue Valley seems to attract a large number of talented musicians and singers willing to forego the hustle-bustle of L.A. or Nashville for the more serene environment of the valley.
Our readers named quite a few, including this year's winner, Vincenzo Cangilose, who specializes in playing classical, jazz, and flamenco style guitar at various venues around town.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Debbie Stadola of the band Ellipse.
  • Folk musician Jen Ambrose.
  • Megan Skudstad of Funktional Fusion.
  • Kristy Lee Cook.


It's an amalgamation of blues, jazz, folk, country and soul, and it can definitely get your heart racing and foot tapping. A number of local rock bands were mentioned, including this year's winner Hot Gossip, which is a high energy dance band that plays classic rock from the 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond.
Also receiving lots of votes were:

  • Funktional Fusion.
  • Col. Mustard.
  • Sound Stage Revue.
  • Slippery Zipper.
  • Lavender Blue.


I was in New Orleans last October and took the Treme Tour, which is the music-rich district just north of the French Quarter. Our tour guide was a student of music, and he let us know that New Orleans was where jazz got its start in America. That night we hit a couple of jazz clubs just to get the feel of the place. It's a great town!
Here in the Rogue Valley, we also love our jazz, and our readers again named the Oregon Little Big Band as their favorite.
They were followed by:

  • Rhythm City Blues Band.
  • RCC Jazz Band.
  • Southern Oregon Jazz Orchestra.


Grants Pass and the surrounding valley definitely doesn't roll up the sidewalk at 9:00. There are a number of venues that provide live music, and the list keeps growing every year.
In this survey, our readers still voted the "G" Street Bar & Grill as number one, although they also mentioned:

  • Herb's Shenanigans.
  • Laughing Clam.
  • JD's Sports Pub.
  • Cedarwood Tavern.
  • Roux 26.
  • River's Edge.


The Barnstormers is the main action in town these days, although Stillpoint Dance Studio, Heartland Dance, the high school, RCC, 111 Evelyn Theatre Company, and the Old Time Radio Players all provide theatrical action throughout the year.
A number of productions were named by our readers, including this year's winner, Tomatoes, which was actually the world premiere of a play written by Southern Oregon's Diane Nichols.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by the Barnstormers.
  • Our Town by the Barnstormers.
  • The Nutcracker by Stillpoint Dance Studio.
  • The Angel Capone by the Barnstormers.
  • High School Musical by One Eleven Theatre Company.
  • West Side Story at Grants Pass High School.
  • The shows produced by the Old Time Radio Players.


The voting was fast and furious in this category, but as the last precincts came in, the winner was Frankie Craig for his portrayal of Al Capone in the Barnstormers' October production of The Angel Capone.
Also mentioned a lot were:

  • Kent Prickett for his role in the Barnstormers' Tomatoes.
  • Patrick Dolan as Brick in the Barnstormers' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
  • Keith Fuller as Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
  • David Kruse in the Barnstormers' Our Town.
  • William Babishoff as Bogart in the Barnstormers' Play It Again, Sam.


On the female side of the ledger, the winner was Amy Fox for her stunning portrayal of Maggie in the Barnstormers' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
The list also included:

  • Nancy Ryan in the Barnstormers' Tomatoes.
  • Flora Albano in the Barnstormers' 70, Girls, 70.
  • Barbara Jackson in the Barnstormers' Our Town.
  • Sage Ashley as Clara in Stillpoint's The Nutcracker.


The success of the Barnstormers' Tomatoes certainly proved that you don't have to do Neil Simon or Tennessee Williams all the time. The writer and director of Tomatoes was a Southern Oregon resident, Diane Nichols, and she was recognized by our readers as "Best Director."
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Russ Lloyd for the Barnstormers' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Angel Capone.
  • Tricia Drevets for the Barnstormers' Our Town.
  • Penny King for Stillpoint's The Nutcracker.
  • Sig Dekany for the Barnstormers' Play It Again, Sam.


They have both the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the polished Oregon Cabaret Theatre, plus the Camelot Theatre in Talent, and the Southern Oregon University Theatre Department on the SOU campus.
The hills of Ashland are alive with the sounds of theater, and our readers appreciate their efforts. This year they named the musical My Fair Lady at OSF as their favorite, although Dog Park: The Musical at Oregon Cabaret Theatre got a lot of votes.


It all started back in the late 50s when the Russians had sent the first rocket, Sputnik, into space. Being the fun-loving guys they are, the local Active Club changed the name of the Gladiola Festival to Boatnik, featuring a jetboat race as the weekend's main attraction. It eventually grew into the largest festival in southern Oregon, and the parade is a huge draw.
A number of floats and entries made the short list of our readers' favorites including this year's winner, the float from St. Anne's Catholic Church.
Also receiving a lot of attention were:

  • March Against Monsanto.
  • Special Olympics.
  • Wildlife Images.
  • Humane Society.
  • Grants Pass High School Marching Band.


Whether you're working on the chain gang or just punching the clock at Wal-mart, once the workday is over, you're ready to meet with friends and get on with your real life.
Where to go? The most popular spots with our readers were the Laughing Clam and Bohemian Bar & Grill.
The list of favorites also included:

  • Blondie's Bistro.
  • Cedarwood Saloon.
  • River's Edge.
  • Taprock Northwest Grill.
  • G Street Bar & Grill.
  • Laughing Clam.
  • Wonder Bur.
  • H Street Bar & Eatery.
  • JD's.


Bars aren't just a place to drink alcohol. I mean, you can do that in the comfort of your own home. Bars are actually places offering you a built-in venue for socializing. Just make sure you don't drive while intoxicated!
And when our readers wanted to do some late-night socializing in a great, relaxing environment, they most often chose the Wonder Bur and Cedarwood Saloon, followed by:

  • JD's.
  • Laughing Clam.
  • Bohemian Bar & Grill.
  • G Street Bar & Grill.
  • Herb's Shenanigans.


This isn't a place where there are 84 TV screens along the walls showing the latest Mixed Martial Arts brawl, with a lot of guys screaming and the jukebox playing "Take This Job and Shove It." We're talking a little more relaxing and romantic than that. And in that regard, our readers most often mentioned both Blondie's Bistro and Taprock Northwest Grill as their favorites, followed by:
Bohemian Bar & Grill.

  • Roux 26.
  • R-Haus.
  • 115 Broiler.
  • G Street Bar & Grill.
  • River's Edge.


The munchies can hit at any time, and in lieu of ordering those pickled pig knuckles that have been sitting behind the bar since the Great Depression, you just might want to have something a little more tasty.
And in that regard, our readers most often named the late-night menu at Bohemian Bar & Grill.
Others mentioned a lot were:

  • Laughing Clam.
  • Herb's Shenanigans.
  • G Street Bar & Grill.
  • JD's.
  • Cedarwood Saloon.
  • Applebee's.


They're celebrating their 33rd season as one of the oldest and largest Growers' Markets in the entire southern Oregon region. Our readers certainly love it, and they especially love all the fresh, organic vegetables and fruit that can be bought there.
The list also included:

  • The donut guy.
  • Ft. Vannoy Farm.
  • The Fry Family Farm.
  • All of the crafts.
  • The social scene.
  • Dave's tomatoes.


For the few people who pointed out that the river was "too dangerous," you probably have a point, but with some safety rules thrown into place, you should be all right. And according to our readers, the best place to swim is at Schroeder Park, followed by:

  • Eisman Stillwater.
  • Indian Mary Park.
  • Baker Park.
  • Griffin Park.


I was at a family reunion twenty years ago and talked with a long-lost cousin who, when she heard I was living in Grants Pass, talked about how she had traveled through here a few years previously and how impressed she was with Riverside Park. We're famous!
What do our readers like most about this world-famous park? Most of them mentioned the beautiful trees, but the list also included:
The ducks and geese (and feeding them).

  • The landscaping.
  • Rogue River.
  • The playground.
  • The roses.
  • Disc golf.
  • Boatnik Festival.


Southern Oregon is becoming a veritable mecca for grape growing, vineyards and wineries, so look out Napa Valley! Our readers agreed and named quite a few in this category, including the top two, Schmidt Family Vineyard (Applegate Valley) and Troon Vineyard (Applegate Valley).
Others high on the list featured:

  • Bridgeview Vineyards & Winery (Cave Junction).
  • Red Lily Vineyards (Jacksonville).
  • Wooldridge Creek Winery (Applegate Valley).
  • Del Rio Vineyards (Gold Hill).
  • Rosella's Vineyard (Applegate Valley).


Since my wife is a 6th generation Oregonian whose family has lived in Gold Beach since 1853, I'm sorely tempted to stuff the ballot in this category just to gain some brownie points in the Colvin family. But that wouldn't be right, and I'll have to admit that Brookings won this fair and square.
Coming in a close second was Gold Beach, situated at the mouth of the Rogue River. Ireland's Rustic Lodges in Gold Beach also received a lot of votes.
Others on the list included:

  • Bandon.
  • Newport.
  • Florence.
  • Crescent City.

* * * * *
Wow ... 144 categories complete. If anyone wants me, they can call the Betty Ford Center for Editorial Abuse, where I am being treated for a bad case of dangling participles and misplaced modifiers. See everyone in 2014. 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.