Best of Santa Fe 2012

Either you've done this, or you know someone who has: You work three different jobs, at least one of which is in the service industry, while using your elusive "free time" to build art installations and perfect your telemark squat. Right? In Santa Fe, we do it all. Our service industry is important because of the massages, mani-pedis and yoga studios that make life so much better—but also because you can almost always be sure that your bartender/dentist/real estate agent is also a kickass kayaker/opera singer/chicken farmer. The lesson here: Be nice, and leave generous tips. Because someday, you'll huff your way to the top of the ridge at Taos Ski Valley and need a partner to ski the double-blacks with you, and it'll be the barista from Ohori's who shreds the bumps but is nice enough to wait for your slow ass at the bottom of Stauffenberg.

You're from Santa Fe if...
By Chicken Joe stop at a stop sign...halfway into the intersection no longer fear southwestern lesbians freak out when you see a sign with more than three colors drive with your third eye age is nothing new
...the youth are liken to bees, they just keep disappearing

 Best Bartender

1st: Julian DuBois at Santa Fe Bar & Grill
187 Paseo de Peralta 982-3033

In order to be a truly effective bartender, one must be equal parts good homie and psychologist, and this dual-personality necessity is not lost on Santa Fe Bar & Grill's Julian Dubois. Dubois picked up the art of drink slingin' in New Zealand and brought the skill back home for us locals to enjoy. "This is pretty awesome…I mean, I try to be very personable," Dubois says over the phone. "For example, I've got 10 people at my bar right now and I know eight of them by name." You'll be glad to know that everybody's favorite mixologist has just agreed to keep tending bar in the usual place, so when you're ready for anything from that killer margarita to a simple pint of beer, you know where to go for the perfect bevvie and a friendly dude to hand it to you. (ADV)

2nd: Quinn Stephenson at Coyote Café Rooftop Cantina
132 W Water St., 983-1615

3rd: Leahi Mayfield at El Paseo
208 Galisteo St., 992-2848

 Best Outdoor Patio

1st: La Casa Sena
125 E Palace Ave. 988-9232

You know as well as we do that there's not much nicer than a fine glass of wine enjoyed while sitting on a patio during a warm summer evening. And as far as patios go, it doesn't get a whole lot better than the lush courtyard at La Casa Sena. According to manager Jack Baudo, "I think it might have something to do with the big beautiful cottonwood tree that provides the shade on these hot summer days." The restaurant now boasts a new menu courtesy of chef Patrick Gharrity who, in response to the Best Of honors, says that, "You can have the nicest patio in the world, but if you don't have the great food to back it up, people won't have a reason to come." We're going to stick with the outdoor wine excuse, Patrick, but with all the rave reviews we've heard about the new food we might just have to grab a patio table and enjoy everything La Casa Sena has to offer. (ADV)

2nd: Cowgirl
319 S Guadalupe St., 982-2565

3rd: Marble Brewery
60 E San Francisco St., Ste. 313, 989-3565

 Best/Friendliest Waitstaff

1st: Harry's Roadhouse
96 Old Las Vegas Highway 989-4629

There's not a lot worse than shitty restaurant service, especially when it's at the hands of waiters who act like they've got much better things to do. We get it—this isn't your real job, it's just something you do until your band/acting career takes off. Enter Harry's Roadhouse. Located on Old Las Vegas Highway, the restaurant has been serving up great food and friendly faces for two decades, and now the restaurant can claim the friendliest damn staff around. "That's so great to hear, and I'm really honored," owner Harry Shapiro says. "I always say that if you are willing to work hard and have fun, you'll probably have a great time working here." So the next time you're thinking about heading out for a meal, try to remember that Harry's may be a bit of a drive, but you'll be treated with the respect you deserve while you dig into a pretty killer burger. (ADV)

2nd: Cowgirl
319 S Guadalupe St., 982-2565

3rd: Tune-Up Café
1115 Hickox St., 983-7060

 Best Hair Salon

1st: Rock Paper Scissor Salonspa
500 Montezuma Ave. 955-8500

Giving exceptional haircuts isn't something the stylists at Rock Paper Scissors even have to think about; they just do it. "We love working as a team and we inspire each other, we do a lot of training and education and we bring in a lot of educators from other states. We learn from our mistakes, we grow as a team, we work together, we support each other we help each other and we bring in as much help as we can so we can improve," says Melodi Wyss-Feliciano, owner of Rock Paper Scissor. You look one way and see someone getting highlights, smiling and giggling with her hairdresser. You look another way and someone is getting her hair washed before the cut. It might just be all of the sheen from the tin foil, but this place literally has a glow about it. (TS)

2nd: Salon del Mar
1221 Flagman Way, 490-2278

3rd: Chrysalis
540 W Cordova Road, 983-8774

 Best Mani-Pedi

1st: Nail Experts
2438 Cerrillos Road 474-6183

Two chatty ladies with brightly painted nails saunter out of Nail Experts—where, inside, they've just finished drying their nails under blacklight. Surprisingly small, surprisingly clean and utterly relaxing, it becomes increasingly obvious why Santa Fe voted this establishment the best place in Santa Fe for a manicure and pedicure. "This is just really a treat to come to. They really pamper you, and they spoil you, and they really always want you to be a very satisfied customer. The facility is always so clean, everything is sterilized and they keep it up. It's always like this," says patron Kay Laemmle. (TS)

2nd: Nail Time
4350 Airport Road, 474-8020

3rd: Serenity Nail Spa
4056 Cerrillos Road, Ste. E1, 471-2106

 Best Facial

1st: Ten Thousand Waves
3451 Hyde Park Road 982-9304

Anytime Ten Thousand Waves is mentioned, the usual response is, "Mmmmm" or "Aaaaah," while the person reminisces about his or her experience there. It's almost always followed by the same conclusion: "I love that place." Ten Thousand Waves has been in business since 1981 and is the station for relaxation in Santa Fe. "I got a Japanese organic facial. The technique is different than the standard, European-style that we offer: They do more massage and certain techniques to open up the lymph glands and to help circulation," says Bob Sheffield, aka Buddha Bob, manager at Ten Thousand Waves. "It's like a little butterfly floating around your face." (TS)

2nd: Body of Santa Fe
333 W Cordova Road, 986-0362

3rd: Mist Skin Care
1520 Paseo de Peralta, 986-1356

 Best Local Dentist/Dental Practice

1st: Lakind Dental Group
400 Botulph Lane  988-3500

When I think of dentists, the first thing that comes to mind is the dentist in Finding Nemo, and that one particular scene where he's working on a patient and one of the fish watching says, "Root canal." Funny, but a terrifying thought if you had to be the one in the chair. Thankfully, Lakind Dental Group is much more comforting than a group of animated fish. The lobby's background music, reminiscent of Jack Johnson, lulls you into a relaxed, dreamy state while you look out the window at the mountains and almost forget you're about to get your teeth cleaned. When asked about his favorite part about being a dentist, Dr. Lakind matter-of-factly: "Helping people." And here I thought it was all about the talking fish. (TS)

2nd: Haley Ritchey, DDS

1 Caliente Road, 466-0999

3rd: Stephen Gibbs, DDS
2010 Botulph Road, 983-1312

Editor's note: A previous version of this story referenced fluoride, implying that Lakind Dental Group uses fluoride. In fact, it does not.

 Best Tattoo Shop

1st: Four Star Tattoo
825 Topeka St. 984-9131

Just to get it out of the way, I'm the desk dude at Four Star on weekends. But while we're all remembering that Best Of honors are decided by our readers and I have nothing to do with the results, I'll point out that whatever biased feelings I may have can't change the fact that I'd been getting 'tooed at Four Star for nearly a decade before I was mopping it. Now in its 13th year of business, Four Star Tattoo continually wins this honor by utilizing the dual philosophy of quality work and a deep respect for the medium. Owner Mark Vigil is entering his 20th year of professional tattooing, and attributes this most recent win to his and his staff's commitment to the craft. "We are all super-passionate about what we do, and we take the art very seriously," he says. "We want to be the best, so we're always striving for better work, from the smallest piece to the biggest." (ADV)

2nd: Dawn's Custom Tattoo
901 W San Mateo Road, Ste. E, 986-0002

3rd: 505 Tattooz
4250 Cerrillos Road, 470-4863

 Best Yoga Studio

1st: Body of Santa Fe
333 W Cordova Road 986-0362

"I love my body—both of them," says a slinky yoga enthusiast outside of her second body, her yoga studio. This frequent Body student honors her human self, she says, all the more because of what her favorite yoga studio gives to her: a sense of joy, well-being and wholeness. From the sanskrit yuj, meaning to join, to yoke or to make whole, this is just what yoga means. Body embodies the meaning of yoga by providing a variety of classes in different techniques as well as offering yoga teacher training, Nia, fitness, a boutique and a café—all within one facility. "And I can bring my family with me too! My kids have a blast in the child care while I refresh my body and soul," she says. No wonder Santa Fe loves its Body. (Mia Rose Carbone)

2nd: YogaSource
901 W San Mateo, 982-0990

3rd: Santa Fe Community Yoga Center

826 Camino de Monte Rey, Ste. B1, 820-9363

 Best Pilates Studio

1st: Pilates Santa Fe
839 Paseo de Peralta 995-9700

What can be done on a mat or suspended in the air? What cuts the fat and makes 'em stare? What started in Europe and travelled over here? Why, the answer is clear: the hot bodies come from Pilates. Specifically, they come from Pilates Santa Fe, Santa Fe's favorite place to strengthen its core, tone its muscles and focus its mind. Considered by many of its costumers to be not only the best of Santa Fe, but also the best of the Southwest (it is, after all, the only studio in this region to offer a teacher training certification), Pilates Santa Fe has been voted the best every year that the votes have been cast. So, treat your body and your mind to an intimate class and see why Pilates Santa Fe is unsurpassed.  (MRC)

2nd: Pilates Bodies
7 Caliente Road, 466-3380

3rd: The PilateZone
1704 Lena St., 989-9450

 Best Place for a Massage

1st: Ten Thousand Waves
3451 Hyde Park Road 982-9304

There are perhaps ten thousand ways that Ten Thousand Waves is the best place to go for a massage, but here are just a few of the reasons why Santa Fe voted this Japanese-style resort and spa “The Best.” Ten Thousand Waves is located in the ethereal realm between city and wilderness and offers a variety of services to elevate the spirit to a joyous and rarified height. Hovering at about 7,800 feet above sea level, Ten Thousand Waves provides not only extraordinary massage treatments and other spa services, but also an excuse to unwind in the healing heat of high desert water under the bright light of shimmering stars. Whatever your body needs, it is sure to find it at Ten Thousand Waves. After all, more than 125 experienced massage therapists are ready to provide you with a number of traditional and nontraditional techniques. (MRC)

2nd: Ojo Caliente

Los Baños Drive, Ojo Caliente, 583-2233

3rd: Body of Santa Fe

333 W Cordova Road, 986-0362

 Best Local Workout Facility

1st: Genoveva Chavez Community Center
3221 Rodeo Road 955-4000

It's got Nia, Zumba, Cycling and cardio classes, Qigong and dancing with hoops. It's got racquetball, pickleball, basketball and badminton; fitness assessment, personal training, massage, youth camps and even an after-school program. (Out of breath yet?) It offers swimming and skating and, aside from everything going on inside its spacious facility, Genoveva Chavez Community Center also ventures outdoors with hiking classes for those interested in some fresh mountain air. Rather than calling itself a gym or merely a fitness center, the Chavez Center has community in its name, and it truly has something for everyone in this community we call Santa Fe. Did we mention that it's affordable, too? (MRC)

2nd: Santa Fe Spa
786 N St. Francis Drive, 984-8727

3rd: El Gancho Fitness, Swim & Racquet Club
104 Old Las Vegas Hwy., 988-5000

 Best Local Mortgage Lender/Broker

1st: Los Alamos National Bank
301 Griffin St. 662-5171

A welcoming staff; convenient locations in Santa Fe, White Rock, Los Alamos and Albuquerque; financial reliability and modernized banking options all characterize Los Alamos National Bank—and are the chocolate, whipped cream and cherry on top that have made it the Best Locally-Owned Mortgage Lender/Bank for seven years running. "The first thing we ask when effecting change is how it will affect the customers," explains Senior Vice President Fidel Gutierrez. "The staff is dedicated to their jobs and friendly, and they really know their stuff. And the relationship with our customers is one created through mutual trust and respect. If we do well, we all share." LANB recently introduced mobile and text-based banking, and is constantly working to come up with innovative ideas to make banking and lending increasingly convenient. (KF)

2nd: Homewise
1301 Siler Road, 983-9473
3rd: Century Bank
100 S Federal Place, 995-1200

 Best Local Computer Service

1st: Dotfoil Computer Services
8511 St. Michael's Drive 954-9955

Reigning this category for the fifth year in a row, Dotfoil Computer Services is officially the supreme leader of all electronic repair shops in town. Maybe it's because they efficiently and quickly repair that laptop you drenched with orange juice while laughing so hard at a viral video on YouTube. Maybe it's because of their affordable prices (repairs start at 50 bucks a pop), which allows you not to care about how expensive it would be to spill orange juice on your laptop—again. Or maybe it's their recycling program, which aims to reduce "e-waste" and help save Mama Nature. Santa Feans can be huge hippies. Take that as a compliment. (Ardee Napolitano)

2nd: Santa Fe Computer Works
1214 Camino Carlos Rey, 471-5211

3rd: El Dorado Computer Works
7 Caliente Road, 466-1262

 Best Local Bank, Credit Union or Savings and Loan

1st: Los Alamos National Bank
301 Griffin St. 954-5400

When it comes to their finances, Santa Feans seem to have been marching to the drumbeat of the Occupy movement, as local institution Los Alamos National Bank wins this category yet again. Founded in 1963, LANB has been and continues to be a major wind beneath local businesses’ wings. And unlike bigger banks, whose names we won’t specify, LANB does not have grandiose headquarters on Wall Street, and it upholds its local, still super-wholesome image. This successfully gains our trust. (AN)

2nd: Del Norte Credit Union

3286 Cerillos Road, 988-3628

3rd: Century Bank

100 S Federal Place, 995-1200

 Best Local Real Estate Agent /Broker

1st: Philip Vander Wolk of Santa Fe Properties
1000 Paseo de Peralta 982-4466

After 20 years of doing business in Santa Fe, Philip Vander Wolk has taken the art of real estate and turned it into an exhausting but fulfilling science. "It's my goal to build relationships for life out here," he says. "I believe in following up with customers and staying in contact after the sale." Through the housing crisis and the more personal crisis of the 86-year Red Sox "championship drought" (Vander Wolk is the NM governor of Red Sox Nation), Vander Wolk has persevered. And he stays positive: "The future of the Santa Fe market is very bright. We offer the same amenities that have attracted people to the area for years. It's a unique town and it becomes more so every day—we're in a good position in the future." (KF)
2nd: Lynne Wigley of Barker Realty
530 S Guadalupe St., 982-9836

3rd: Mindy DeMott of Coldwell Banker, 2000 Old Pecos Trail, 983-0310
Paige Ingebritson of Sotheby's, 213 Washington Ave., 988-8088
Lauren Sato of Barker Realty, 530 S Guadalupe St., 982-9836

 Best Art Framing

1st: Frontier Frames
2008 St. Michael's Drive 473-1901

Painted a landscape masterpiece and want to show it off? Frontier's got you. Snapped a great high school graduation moment and want to preserve the memory? Frontier's got you. Excavated a missing page of Da Vinci's mysterious journals and want to frame it up for auction? Frontier can help. Cousin took a black-and-white photo of a coffee cup and wants to put it on exhibit, thinking it's professional art? What the hell? Anyway, if you want to frame something, be it crayon doodles, war photos or love letters done in calligraphy, Frontier's the authority, and wins the framing category for the 12th straight year. (AN)

2nd: Valdes Framing
1006 Marquez Place, 982-4661

3rd: Fine Art Framers, Inc.
1415 W Alameda St., 982-4397

 Best Hotel/Inn/B&B for Out-of-Town Visitors

1st: La Fonda on the Plaza
100 E San Francisco St. 982-5511

In the heart of Santa Fe, there exists a nice little haven called La Fonda. It has homey accommodations decorated with New Mexico art; food that epitomizes the state’s cuisine; proximity to the picturesque downtown—and to the many local shops and cafés that surround it; and a relaxing spa. One day, tourists started to flock to this tiny paradise and were impressed, and La Fonda became the City Different’s premiere hotel. And if you haven’t enjoyed a margarita-tinged sunset from its scenic Bell Tower Bar, quite honestly, you haven’t lived. (AN)

2nd: El Rey Inn

1862 Cerrillos Road, 982-1931

3rd—TIE: Inn & Spa at Loretto

, 211 Old Santa Fe Trail, 988-5531

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa

, 330 E Palace Ave., 986-0000

 Best Local Pet Service

1st: Barks & Bubbles
1311 Calle Nava  820-2275

Regular grooming and maintenance is the key to happy dogs, according to Barks & Bubbles. They work with veterinarians (by keeping an eye out for tumors and other irregularities) to focus on the welfare of the dogs rather than the owners. That said, Barks & Bubbles attracts a varied clientele that ranges from newbie dog owners to seasoned pros. Making grooming pleasant for the pets—who love the attention and affection—is a priority. “This should be a happy experience for every pet that comes in here,” says co-owner Sherry Barnett, who is thrilled that she gets paid to work with dogs. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years professionally, and I love what I do; I’m not bored with it,” she tells SFR. (LH)

2nd: Santa Fe Tails Dog Academy & Daycare

2109 Warner Circle, 820-0731

3rd: Paws Plaza

1416 Fourth St., 820-7529

 Best Pre-School

1st: Desert Montessori School
316 Camino Delora 983-8212

Fortunately, my visit was during naptime and the quiet was godly. During the tour, in one classroom, a dozen little angels slept while music softly played. This moment of peace could be considered the eye of the storm. But no matter how rowdy any kid can get, the kids at Desert Montessori are excited to be there. "It's all about the staff and our approach to each individual child, their families and what works well for them—and we get such positive results," says Melissa Brown, director of Desert Montessori School, about what makes the school so amazing. Oh yeah: it's also a nonprofit. (TS)

2nd—TIE: Dragonfly School, 935 Alto St., 995-9869
Little Earth School, 321 W Zia Road, 988-1968

3rd—TIE: Gentle Nudge School, 1341 Upper Canyon Road, 982-0879
Playschool for the Arts, 2076 Galisteo St., 983-3391

 Best Place to Get Waxed

Brazilian Waxing Boutique

1544 Cerrillos Road 989-4929

453 Cerrillos Road 983-4335

Where does Alex De Vore go to have his hair removed before a new tattoo? It's a tie, he says, between Brazilian Waxing Boutique and Skinplicity. Coincidentally, Santa Fe voters agree. We humans are not especially hairy as far as mammals go (and Alex would like us to note that he is "the least hairy man ever"), but still we seem to enjoy making ourselves even less furry. Therefore, if you want hairless from head to toe, perhaps you too ought to divide your follicles between Brazilian Waxing Boutique and Skinplicity, two of Santa Fe's cleanest, most affordable and most comfortable places to get yourself de-whiskered. Besides, each of these salons is on Cerrillos Road, making it all the easier to visit them both. (MRC)

2nd: Rock Paper Scissor Salonspa
500 Montezuma Ave., Ste. 110, 955-8500

3rd—Tie: Glow Spray Tan Boutique
, 1219 Cerrillos Road, Ste. 3, 471-1008
Mist Skincare, 1520 Paseo de Peralta, 986-1356

 Best Laser Treatment

1st: Bonita Medical Center
1700 Hospital Drive 988-2121

Amid desert sunshine, crackling cold and roaring winds, Santa Feans find themselves drying, peeling, wrinkling and, sometimes, turning to leather. In light of this, locals and visitors alike have honed their laserlike vision upon Bonita Medical Center for their skin care needs. Debbie and Edward Urig founded the practice in 1986 and have since expanded, relocated and enhanced. Bonita focuses on individual lifestyles, and the treatments vary from oral and maxillofacial surgeries to peels, lifts and lasers. Whatever it is you need to help your skin battle (and defeat) the desert, Bonita Medical Center is ready and laden with lasers to zap that monster down. (MRC)

2nd—Tie: Dermatology of Santa Fe
2019 Galisteo St., Ste. N9b, 986-9688
Santa Ana Skincare
2205 Miguel Chavez, Ste. E, 954-4422

3rd: Beautiful Skin
1424 Second St., 982-3899

 Best Self-Storage Company

1st: A-1 Self Storage
1224 Rodeo Road 474-0921

A good 31 years ago, Santa Feans felt a dire need for a reliable, locally owned self-storage company that offers security for their stowed belongings at a reasonable price. And so A-1 Self Storage, which has again snagged the top spot in this category, was born. Today, A-1 answers people's storage needs for things as big and easily stolen as a jumbo speedboat, to those as small and easily misplaced as personal documents. Video surveillance and bright lighting ensure the security of your units. And, just last summer, A-1 installed solar panels to save electricity, making it a green business that acts as a model for others in the city. (AN)

2nd—TIE: Aztec Self-Storage, 7521 Old Airport Road, 471-2004
Extra Space Storage, 1522 Pacheco St., 983-6757
Santa Fe Self Storage, 1501 Third St., 983-6600

3rd: St. Michael's Self-Storage
1935 Aspen Drive, 474-3333

 Best Chiropractor

1st: Scher Center for Well Being
1602 Fourth St. 989-9373

“You must start the process of healing from where you are, not from where you would like to be or think you are,” Judy Scher, director of the Scher Center for Well Being, writes on the center’s website. That’s exactly what gives this category’s winner an edge over other chiropractors in Santa Fe: the reminder that only you and your will can push your body and mind into complete healing. The center also offers mentoring programs, some of which can be done via phone, for people who want to relieve themselves of stress and other ailments. But most importantly, the center encourages people to encourage themselves. “There is a path that is yours, waiting for you to discover it,” Scher writes. (AN)

2nd: Sullivan Chiropractic

1301 Luisa St., 982-0691

3rd: Dr. Brian T Short

1444 S St. Francis Drive, Ste. C, 660-2080

 Best Place for Acupuncture

1st: Ruth Hulett, DOM, LMT
1911 Fifth St., Ste. 207 310-0128

Many of us are squeamish when it comes to needles, while some of us crave them (or at least their contents). But if there is anyone that Santa Fe seeks out for her gentle, precise and healing use of the needle, it is acupuncturist, massage therapist and doctor of oriental medicine Ruth Hulett. She offers a wholesome array of oriental treatments aside from, but associated with, acupuncture, including moxibustion, cupping, herbal medicine and nutritional and lifestyle therapies. Her healing hands, her tiny needles and the vastness of her knowledge and experience bring Santa Fe to Ruth’s clinic for stress reduction, pain relief and an overall sense of well-being.  (MRC)

2nd: David and Sandra Canzone, DOMs

2074 Galisteo St., Ste. A2, 989-7418

3rd: We The People Community Acupuncture

1406 Second St., 982-3711

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