Before we spent our days addicted to what was happening on various social media sites, we relied on our inner circles to tell us about the “can’t miss” spots around town. Now thanks to social networking, we have access to numerous blog posts and tweets that allow us to expand our circle and ensure we don’t miss out on the Best of Plymouth—but it’s still your picks, the readers’ choices, that are the most valuable. Following are the most “Like”d restaurants, shops, services and people, as voted by you, our local consumers, judge and jury, as well as some spots around town our editorial staff thought warranted a second look.
Best Place for Unusual Gifts: Home Goods
Runners up: Tuesday Morning, Sticks N Bricks
Store manager Brad Downey says shopping at Home Goods is like treasure-hunting, since the mix of what’s shipped into the store is different every day. 4190 Vinewood Ln. N. 134; 763.550.0382; homegoods.com
Editor’s note: We’d be remiss not to mention Willows Home here; the home accessories and fashion store in Medina closed last winter, but it still brought home top votes in this category. Another high vote-getter this year was Nic Nac Incorporated.
Best New Shop: Heartbreaker
Runners up: Freeziac, Sports Hut
Looking for a one-stop shop to stock up on brands from Seven to Siwy to Billabong? Look no further than Heartbreaker. For those of you interested in fashion or design, be sure to check the Facebook page for occasional design contests. 16895 Co. Rd. 24; 763.231.2223; shopheartbreaker.com; Facebook: Heartbreaker
Best New Exercise Class: Orangetheory Fitness
Runners up: SkyRobics at SkyZone, Zumba at Life Time Fitness
It might sound odd to name a gym “orange”—until regional manager Todd Halvorson points out orange represents energy. At Orangetheory a trainer choreographs every 60-minute workout, which is then run as a group-training session. Drop-in classes are $25, but packages are available for $11 per class. 2700 Annapolis Cir. N. Ste. A; 763.300.3447; orangetheoryfitness.com; Facebook: Orangetheory Fitness Plymouth MN; Twitter: @OTheoryFitness
Editor’s note: To celebrate the nomination as finalist in the Best of Plymouth 2012, Orangetheory is offering a free trial week as well as $20 off all packages. Simply mention this article.
Best Preschool/Daycare: The Goddard School [have photo]
Runners up: New Horizons, Primrose West
Co-owner of the Goddard School Lisa Amic advises those looking for daycare to “trust your gut” when selecting that “right fit.” 16755 Co. Rd. 24: 763.557.7020; goddardschool.com
Best Music Lessons: Virtuoso’s Music Academy
Runners up: Schmidt Music, Barbara Willis
Virtuoso’s founder Angela Jaskowiak says she opened shop in Plymouth after experiencing how great Plymouthites are while working with the Wayzata Music Boosters as a student at the University of St. Thomas. When she isn’t teaching, Jaskowiak enjoys local music, particularly East Virgina (her husband’s band), Down and About, and White Lines Grey Matter. 16795 County Rd. 24 Ste. 100; 763.231.7901; visitvma.com
Best Vegetarian: Ketsana’s
Runners up: India Palace, Ming’s
Vegans, vegetarians, gluten-sensitive folks, rejoice!! Ketsana’s Thai Restaurant has all of the mouth-watering food, fresh ingredients, and custom ordering options you desire. “We cook to order and don’t pre-mix our sauces, so you virtually can get whatever you like,” says owner, Ketsana Sueanphin. 16605 County Rd. 24; 763.559.0695; ketsanasthai.com
Best Burger: Smashburger
Runners up: Red Robin, Jake’s
There’s a reason they call it Smashburger—turns out, the secret to these award-winning, juicy, don’t-want-to-put-it-down burgers is all in the “smash.” “The smash creates a wonderful sear which holds all of the juices, the flavor, the goodness inside,” assistant manager Jeremy Ahern says. With four different kinds of buns, six different kinds of cheeses, and more than 20 different toppings to choose from, our readers know that the options to create the perfect burgers are limitless. 3225 Vicksburg Ln. N. G; 763.252.1496; smashburger.com
Best Builder/Remodeler: Gonyea Homes
Runners up: Precision Decks, Prosser Construction
Since 1987, Gonyea Builders has been building stunning custom homes and making existing homes pretty again, not to mention winning lots of building awards in the process. “We’ve got great cutting-edge designs,” says managing partner Tony Sonnen. “From architectural design to interior design and finishes, that’s what really sets us apart.” 6102 Olson Memorial Hwy., Golden Valley; 763.432.4500; gonyeahomes.com
Best Landscaper: Dundee Nursery and Landscape
Runners up: Mark Hauri of MH3 Design Group, Outdoor Escapes
Some of our readers love to get out there and play in the dirt; others like their dirty work. Either way, all love Dundee Nursery. “We are a local business that grew up with the city of Plymouth,” says Gill Landis, sales and marketing manager. “We’ve been doing residential landscapes since 1956 and continue to get excellent referrals based on our performance.” 16800 Hwy. 55; 763.559.4004; dundeenursery.com
Best Eyewear: Plymouth Vision Center
Runners up: Kennedy Vision Clinic, Vision Smith
With some of the hottest eyewear fashions around and top-notch customer service, Plymouth Vision Center is our readers’ go-to place for all things optical. 16875 County Rd. 24; 763.559.4669; plymouthvision.com
Best High School Teacher: Mr. Kevin Johnson, Wayzata High School
Runners up: Aaron Berndt, Amy Campbell
Mr. Kevin Johnson, beloved psychology teacher at Wayzata High School, is known as much for his wit and fun classroom as he is his knowledge of psychology.
“I try to make my classroom a desired place to be,” he says. “Then each day I get into my students’ limbic system [emotional center] in order to eventually get them to use their frontal lobe [high-order thinking].” When asked of his teaching philosophy, he smiles: “To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” 4955 Peony Ln.; 763.745.6600; wayzata.k12.mn.us/whs
His students (our readers) are not shy about articulating their regard for Mr. Kevin Johnson:
“His enthusiasm in the classroom is contagious, and he truly makes learning fun.”
–Brianne Adams, class of 2011
“He is fabulous, because he cares about his students and is passionate about what he is teaching; he brings the material to the student in a fun and interesting way.”
–Angie Livingston, class of 2008
Best Vet: Rockford Road Animal Hospital
Runners up: TLC Cat Clinic, Cats Preferred
From dogs, cats, pocket pets and more, Rockford Road Animal Hospital, a full-service animal clinic, will help keep Fido and Fefe healthy for many years to come. The clinic boasts five doggie docs, one of the newest being Lee Bull (who started at Rockford Road Animal Hospital in May 2008). Her favorite pet moments? Hiking with her dogs Jackson (a Weimaraner) and Mick (a German shorthair pointer). 3900 Vinewood Ln. N. #16; 763.210.5644; rrahospital.vetsuite.com
Best Place to Work: Primrose
Runners up: Precision Chiropractic, Life Time Fitness
Besides implementing an award-winning Balanced Learning Curriculum that perfectly marries teacher-directed and child-initiated learning, Primrose School of West Plymouth is also a great place to work: “Being a pre-kindergarten teacher is probably one of the most rewarding experiences I have encountered,” says Patty Kane, who’s worked at Primrose since 2008. “I love going to work every day. I also get to experience something that many parents would envy—uninterrupted time with their children. I do not have to worry about laundry or cleaning, grocery shopping or dishes; I am simply with the children.” 17805 Old Rockford Rd.; 763.519.9150; primroseschools.com
Best Healthcare Clinic: John Haugen and Associates–West Health
Runners up: Park Nicollet, Lake West Chiropractic
What was launched more than 50 years ago by Dr. John Haugen has burgeoned into an unparalleled women’s clinic that provides personalized, individual care for women of all ages. From gynecology to obstetrics to mammography, infertility and bone density exams, John Haugen and Associates–West Health truly has all of our (female) readers covered. 2805 Campus Dr.; 763.577.7460; haugenobgyn.com
Best Caterer: Lunds
Runners up: Famous Dave’s, D’Amico & Sons
The local chain that’s taken the Twin Cities by storm is a great place to start your next party plan, big or small. The pros at Lunds do everything from food and drinks to floral, linens and staffing. 3455 Vicksburg Ln.; 763.268.1624, to order 952.897.9800; catering.lundsandbyerlys.com
Editor’s Note: Looking for something different? Lynn Guggemos, owner of We Cater to You, promises a fantastic service whether your group is “two or 2,000” and Town & Country (catering at The Reserve) is well-renowned beyond town, having won multiple wedding caterer awards and accolades throughout a 60-year history. (Personally, we recommend the boxed lunches.)
Best Delivery: Jimmy Johns
Runners up: Dominos, Davanni’s
This category is packed with pie—of the pizza variety. If ever there was a marketing campaign that worked, this would be it: Freaky fast delivery. And rightly so. But let’s not forget the other guys, the locals who placed well (though not in our top three) this year: Brian John’s, BL Pizza, Angeno’s, Maggie’s Family Restaurant and Jet’s Pizza. 2661 Campus Dr., 3570 Vicksburg Ln. N.; 763.231.0270, 763.398.2190; jimmyjohns.com
Best Salon/Spa: Simonson’s
Runners up: Christopher J. Salon, New Reflections
The professionals’ work is impeccable—the styling second to none. There are massage, skin and hair removal treatments galore. Yet there’s one thing our readers state set’s a salon apart from its competition in the overall category, and that’s atmosphere. Take one step inside Simonson’s (if you haven’t already), and it will take your breath away. The cool clean open design of the space blends perfectly with the friendly, familiar personalities of the staff—and every aspect (from the complimentary tea/coffee/cucumber water) makes Simonson’s top dog in this year’s highly competitive salon/spa category. 4315 Peony Ln.; 763.550.1121; simonsons.com
Best Massage: Massage Envy
Runners up: LakeWest Chiropractic, Simonson’s
You really can’t beat the affordability ($39 for a first one-hour massage) and convenience (open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily) of a center completely devoted to massage of all kinds and add-ons (aromatherapy, anyone?). 3225 Vicksburg Ln. N. Ste. E.; 763.550.1600; massageenvy.com
Best Doggy Daycare/Kennel: Camp Bow Wow
Runners up: Animal Wellness Center, Happy Days Doggie Camp
Owner Nick Netley, a Plymouth resident of six years, says his aim since opening Camp Bow Wow in 2007 has been to give clients and pets the best bang for their buck. One way he does this is giving dogs unlimited access to indoor and outdoor play areas—and doggie showers! Check out the online doggie cam today to see what the barking is all about. 2067 E. Center Cir.; 763.383.9585; campbowwow.com
Best Fitness Studio: Life Time Fitness
Runners up: Orange Theory Fitness, Snap Fitness
Life Time Fitness is where our readers go to get their sweat on—and it’s not even close. With amenities like a childcare center, indoor and outdoor swimming, and a climbing wall—not to mention LifeSpa, LifeCafe and LifeClinic (chiropractic)—it’s easy to see why. The buzz class of late: Zumba! 3600 Plymouth Blvd.; 763.509.0909; lifetimefitness.com
Best Kids’ Birthday Party Spot: Pump It Up
Runners up: SkyZone, French Regional Park
It can be just this simple: Party prices range from $215 to $275, depending on event, timing and size of party. 3500 Holly Ln. N. #65; 763.553.0340; pumpitupparty.com
Best Chiropractor: Dr. Jeff Wock, Lake West Chiropractic
Runners up: Dr. Bruce Pearson, Natural Chiropractic Center; Dr. Reese Shanahan, Plymouth Spine & Health Center
Plymouth sports a large number of chiropractic options. That’s what makes becoming a finalist in this competitive category so impressive. Readers suggest it could be the complimentary massage that comes with each treatment/adjustment (you can come just for the massage as well, as referenced by the team’s placing in our Best Massage category). Perhaps it could also be the wide array of offerings—Dr. Jeff Wock specializes in sports chiropractic therapy and is also a licensed acupuncturist. More likely, however, it’s the focus on clients that his team provides—everything from birthday cards and thank-yous to baby onesies for new arrivals.
4190 Vinewood Ln. N. #121; 763.550.1205; lakewestchiropractic.com
Best Dentist: Dr. Chad Boger, Boger Dental
Runners up: Mark Harrington, Harrington Orthodontics; Scott Scharf, Northwoods Dental
We said it on the cover of our May issue: Nothing is quite the same as a family-owned and -operated business, and that’s definitely true in the case of top doc in the dental field, Chad Boger DDS. His dad, Steve, founded Boger 35 years ago, and the company’s approach is one of open communication, respect and friendliness inside and outside the office (cases in point: morning huddles, continuing education ops and group getaways). Chad followed in the family footsteps, joining the team in 2002 after graduating from the University of Minnesota’s prestigious dental program.
A firm believer in giving back, he has initiated a campaign to provide mouthguards to local athletes and partnered with Missing Children Minnesota to offer “toothprints” as a means of collecting vital identification information for area children. Chad is also a board member of Rotary International; he extends the clinic’s focus in restorative, cosmetic and neuromuscular dentistry. 2720 Annapolis Cir. N.; 763.546.7707; bogerdental.com
Best Winter Activity
Runners up: Ice skating, Fire & Ice Festival’s medallion hunt
It’s tough to think about crisp icy trails and frozen breath this time of year—or maybe it’s refreshing. Either way, our readers know that the best winter and summer resource in town are the trails at Clifton E. French Regional Park, where many cross-country ski the cold days away.
Locals can ski for miles (4.6 to be exact). 12605 Rockford Rd.; 763.694.7750; threeriversparks.org
Best New Restaurant: Cocina de Ana
Runners up: Five Guys, Uchu Peruvian Cuisine
Interested in Mexican cuisine? Check out Plymouth transplant Ana Rayas’s restaurant Cocina de Ana. Originally from Queretaro, Mexico, Rayas makes dishes from scratch every day that just need to be heated before served. Her most popular dish? Chilaquiles Verdes, corn tortillas with chicken in a green tomatillo salsa ($12.99 for four people).
Restaurant regular Sam Schmidt describes the food as “wonderful” and says the quality of the authentic cuisine is consistent. Even though Schmidt describes the menu as diverse, he admits he is particularly fond of the pozole corn soup and tinga, a spicy beef dish with rice. Jill Rost, another Cocina de Ana patron, says her favorite dish is the pollo con poblano. 1400 County Rd. 101 Ste. C; 763.951.3377; cocinadeana.com
Find a recipe from Cocina De Ana below.
Ana’s Tostadas Recipe
Refried beans, warmed
Shredded meat (like beef tinga, pork or chicken in poblano sauce, or rotisserie chicken), warmed
Crumbled queso fresco or queso cotija
Pickled red onion (if desired)
Spread a portion of refried beans on a tostada, top with shredded meat, slices of avocado, pickled onions and crumbled cheese.
To make pickled onions, thinly slice a red onion, cover with lime juice and a pinch of salt. Let it sit for about three hours before serving.
Tostadas de ceviche. Serve Shrimp ceviche on top of tostadas, top with shredded lettuce and thinly sliced radishes, if desired.
Tostadas de guacamole. Spread fresh guacamole on tostada and top with salsa 'Pico de Gallo' (a favorite and so simple!)