BEST HUMANITARIAN TOOTH JOCKEY
Dr. Robert Lucero
Draper-based dentist Bob Lucero doesn’t just have a gentle hand when it comes to fillings and crowns for his insurance-blessed patients. He also likes to give back to the community. His form of philanthropy is to go to impoverished areas of Honduras or Guatemala and do back-to-back crown work for the truly needy. Such is the danger of some of the shanty towns they visit, Lucero and his fellow dentists need bodyguards. It’s a punishing schedule. They fly in, pound away at the decay 12 to 14 hours a day for hundreds of folk who will never get a sniff at health insurance, then fly out again. Way to go, Dr. Bob.
856 E. 12300 South, No. 8, Draper 801-553-9824, DraperDentalSolutions.com
BEST SAKE SOAK
The Kura Door
Is it a delicious beverage to accompany your sushi, or an energizing body tonic? Maybe it’s both. This Avenues day spa offers plenty of fascinating services—papaya body facial, anyone?—but none more intriguing than one special pedicure. Sake comes geisha-approved for its exfoliating properties; combined with ginger, it provides a unique treat for your feet.
1136 E. 3rd Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-364-2400, TheKuraDoor.com
BEST KIDS’ STUFFED CREATIONS
Whether it’s a stuffed animal, a pillow, a blankie or a little bit of all of the above, this Utah-based operation creates a collection of critters for naptime, bedtime and every time in between. Choose one of a dozen animal favorites—from koalas and pandas, to lions and tigers—and zip out the accompanying blanket (removable for easy washing) whenever it’s needed. This award-winning design will make it your child’s equivalent of a Swiss Army knife.
1111 W. 100 South, No. 2, Provo, 801-802-0507, Zoobies.com
BEST BOARD GAME RENTALS
The world of board games is richer than you might remember from your nights of Monopoly and Clue with the family, thanks to the rise in popularity of European-style games over the last 15 years. But where do you begin? Maybe by trying a game on for size to see if it fits. At either of Boardgame Revolution’s two stores, you can rent games for 10 days for 10 percent of the regular retail price. Or try a monthly $10 fee for unlimited rentals. Your party can be lively, and it can be different every time.
293 E. 930 South, Orem, 801-360-8594; 153 E. 4370 South, 801-400-3964, Murray
BEST WOMEN’S PAJAMAS
Scentsations Lotions & Oils
This tiny boutique is packed to the walls with bath salts and body lotions, massage oils for customized scenting and other luxurious skin care products. But the pleasant surprise is Scentsations’ inventory of beautiful cotton, silk and bamboo pajamas and nightgowns, starting at about $50. There are also classic men’s pajamas in pastel floral prints, colorful stripes and bold geometric prints. Bamboo sleepwear is to die for, it’s so soft and clingy. Also a nice selection of silk and cotton bathrobes.
1316 Foothill Drive, Foothill Village, Salt Lake City, 801-364-0168, ScentSLC.com
|BEST CUSTOM KIDDIE SHOES
Take it from a dad: Some girls’ love of unique shoes begins long before they can tell a Jimmy Choo from a Manolo Blahnik. A Utah home-based business, Flashy Ashleys turns Converse All-Star hightops into customized delights for girls, from the twinkly toes to the bright ribbons-turned-laces. Toddlers and youngsters (through youth size 3) will have more fun on their feet than should be allowed.
BEST DOWNTOWN SPIRIT
“Mr. Downtown” Dick Wirick
Dick Wirick took over the Oxford Shop, an upscale men’s shoe store, 57 years ago when he was only 20 and never looked back. Sticking it out in the downtown area, Wirick has made a name for himself in fine shoes and downtown revitalization serving with five civic organizations including the city Business Advisory board. He’s consulted with more mayors and city leaders than one could care to count and has been close to some of the city’s most major renovations, including bringing The Gateway into the central business district so that it was part of downtown—instead of the competition. As for all the City Creek construction clogging up the streets around his business, Wirick can see through the dust to the bigger picture. “In life, you have to have an optimistic point of view,” he says. “When [the construction] is all finished, it will be the grandest thing that’s happened to Salt Lake City.”
65 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-355-8636
High West Distillery in Park City has only just begun the process for what several years down the road will become the first legal whiskey distilled in Utah since Prohibition. That didn’t stop High West from putting a product on Utah liquor store shelves early in 2008. And if Rendezvous Rye is any indication, Utah tipplers have greatness to look forward to. The floral, golden rye is an elegant whiskey that will make the best bourbon you’ve tasted a letdown forever after. Rendezvous Rye comes in heavy molded glass bottles reminiscent of old Park City before the mining town became a playground for the rich. The two rye whiskies inside come from undisclosed distillers out of state. (While High West already is marketing vodka made from oats in Utah, it will take years to finish a locally made whiskey.) But the talent of High West owner David Perkins and distiller Brendan Coyle shows through in the mixing. Rendezvous Rye was the hit of the 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, where it won “double gold.” (Whiskey Bros. called it the most sophisticated rye its reviewer ever tasted.) At $40 per bottle, you’ll savor every drop—and look forward to High West opening a saloon inside the 100-year-old livery stable just remodeled as High West’s home in Park.
703 Park Ave., Park City, 801-972-2566, HighWestDistillery.com
BEST CANDIED APPLES
C. Kay Cummings Candies
These treats are so exotic you’ll scarcely believe they start with a humble Granny Smith apple. There are 18 varieties, each coated with top-quality caramel and finished off with unique toppings. To wit: Chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, Oreo cookie crumbles, English toffee, cheesecake or good old dark chocolate. It’s worth springing $7 apiece for these eye-popping goodies.
2057 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-456-1031, FineCandies.com
BEST DIY CHRISTMAS
Cutting Your Own Christmas Tree at Fishlake National Forest
Nothing makes for a more Rockwellian and/or Griswoldian Christmas then venturing into the snowy woods to fell your very own Christmas tree. C’mon, when’s the last time you felled anything? Well this year may be time to start a new Christmas tradition, and anyone looking for an idyllic trip into a wintry wonderland ought to claim their very own Christmas tree. All it takes is a $10 tag that can be purchased at any number of ranger stations. The Richfield station will give you the best tips on where to bag your dream tree. But the areas around the Fishlake National Forest offer a bounty of beautiful spruce and pines to choose from. And while in the area, you might take advantage of winter discount prices at Fish Lake Lodge (FishLake.com) and enjoy the rustic environs as a base camp for your festive tree-cutting expeditions. Just don’t forget your ax.
115 E. 900 North, Richfield, 435-896-9233, FS.fed.us
BEST FINANCIAL LEG UP
Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund
Don’t let the name scare you away. The Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund is just a fancy way of saying, “Hey, budding entrepreneurs, we’re here for you.” The local private nonprofit is a community development financial institution that makes business personal. UMLF decides to help out applicants—businesses with five or fewer employees requiring less than $35,000 startup capital—based on plans, not credit scores. That means people like Sophi-Flan’s Horacio Pena was able to achieve his goals through UMLF when no one else would think twice about risking the bank on a struggling Mexican immigrant. Who will benefit next? Stay in the Local First loop to find out.
154 E. Ford Avenue, Suite A, Salt Lake City, 801-746-1180
|BEST RETRO LIGHT FIXTURES
Retrospect Water & Light
So, you have this little reading nook that needs just the right period light fixture. Odds are you’ll find what you need at Retrospect Water & Light, where inventory includes authentic vintage lighting and bathroom fixtures as well as spiffy reproductions. With Art Deco and Arts & Crafts period pieces galore, store manager Buzz Talbot will happily set you up with exactly what your interior design needs demand.
68 E. 700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-517-3876
BEST CONSUMER DEMOGRAPHIC
The past 12 months have been difficult for banks, newspapers, mortgage lenders, Republicans, Iceland and the retail sector. Not so for Utah’s firearms and ammo shops, which have been going great guns since the election of President Barack Obama. While enormously popular the world over, it seems the Big O isn’t quite so beloved among backwoods-survivalist types. They’re just waiting for the jackbooted liberal thugs to come knocking at their, er, “doors” or thatched huts or camo tents—where, exactly, does a backwoods survivalist live, anyway?—to confiscate their firearms. (We hear flags, unaborted fetuses, Bibles and apple pies are also on the thugs’ list of contraband.) That’s why gun shops are doing so well these days—guys with camouflaged beer guts are stocking up on AK-47s while they still can. Meanwhile, Republican bankers and business types continue to rape the economy ...
BEST WALL “LEATHER”
Kits Martha, watch your back. Here comes a woman with a paintbrush, and she knows how to use it. Kat Torello’s passion for graphic design and decorative painting have a new outlet in her paint kits created for people who just want their walls to pop. The kits come in a plastic paint bucket and in 72 hours, you can have walls with a textured-leather look using tissue paper, paint, dry pigments and wax. Kat says it’s easy to do, affordable and eco-friendly. There’s even a DVD to guide you through the process. If your walls are closing in, show them who’s boss. Bring out the brushes.
|BEST MORMON SWAG
The Souvenir Stop at Temple Square
A Temple Square musical waterball that plays “Come, Come Ye Saints,” a snowflake ornament made of real Utah salt, a Mo Tabs greatest hits CD: These are a few of our favorite things. While some play down their Mormon identity and heritage, here, it is celebrated. And on steroids: Key chains, magnets, CTR rings. But best of all: T-shirts like The Mormonator, Laban’s Sword Company, Caffeine Free, Mormon Girl: Worth the Wait, Bee Happy and My Bishop Rocks. Getcher Mormonobilia right here.
149 S. Main, Suite 100, Salt Lake City, 801-537-7766, SouvenirStop.com
BEST SOLE SAVER
G’s Sole Express
Got a hole in your sole? Has your heel lost its seal? In these days of 21st-century frugality, it’s good to know your favorite shoes can have a second life. The cobbler art is alive and well here at G’s, with its 20 years of experience. Known for speedy customer service and a hometown touch, Gary makes everyone feel welcome. He’ll talk politics and sports with you while making your shoes look like new again. For those of the “throw it out when you don’t like it anymore” generation, G’s will be a novel experience.
2239 E. Murray-Holladay Road, Salt Lake City, 801-424-3551
BEST NEW ARTISAN CHEESE
Old-time Italians and Greeks remember the Nicoletti goat ranch in Butterfield Canyon in the Oquirrh Mountains. They also remember Tony Nicoletti weighing, cutting and selling his cheeses from the trunk of his car in Bingham Canyon and elsewhere migrants gathered. Tony later opened his own store at 3900 S. State which still stands as the Mediterranean Market. The ranch is long gone, and for many years, the cheese it spawned was, as well. But now, Michelle Nicoletti, Tony’s daughter has dug up the old family recpies and is making Nicoletti cheese at her home in Copperton. Her ricotta is as good as can be found around here, and her Greek kasseri is redolent in richness and texture. Rumored next is Nicoletti feta.
Available at Mediterranean Market and Caputo’s.