The Best of the South Sound 2021 –

This issue of South Sound really is the best because of our loyal readers. Every year, we ask you to vote for your favorite South Sound people, places, and things everything that makes the area great. Winners on this list are from Olympia, Spanaway, Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Union, and more. We received thousands of votes, and these are your top picks! Congratulations to all the winners.

By Maria Leuzinger and Kara Patajo

Photo by

Local Celebrity: Sonics Guy

Tacomas Kris Brannon, known around the Northwest as Sonics Guy, who has been voted numerous times by South Sound magazine readers as their favorite local celebrity, died in February. The 47-year-old Brannon famously sported green and gold Seattle SuperSonics gear since the team left town for Oklahoma City in 2008, rallying to bring an NBA team back to Seattle. He was gracious, friendly, and had a big presence, willing to pose for selfies with his fans. Though he is no longer with us, we are humbled to give this award to him posthumously, as we know he was immensely proud of this award and incredibly grateful to the South Sound residents who repeatedly nominated him for it. Tacoma

Live Theater: Tacoma Little Theatre, Tacoma

Casino: Emerald Queen Casino,Tacoma and Fife

Art Gallery: Tacoma Art Museum,Tacoma

Festival: Destiny City Film Festival,Tacoma

Museum: Museum of Glass,Tacoma

Local Radio Personality: Dori Monson,Seattle

Local TV Personality: Joyce Taylor,Seattle

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Courtesy of Effie Gurmeza

Office: The Pioneer Collective

Workspace flexibility might have never had a more shining moment than it has since the pandemic hit. Fortunately, The Pioneer Collective offers artfully designed spaces that just might make work feel a little less like work. Complete with meeting rooms, private offices, and spaces for co-working and events, there is something for everyone. Access to a podcast studio and production rentals also are available. Tacoma and Seattle

Small Business: Financial Insights,Tacoma

Medium Business: Eliseo, Tacoma

Large Business: Columbia Bank,Various locations

Credit Union: BECU,Various locations

Auto Repair: Ball Auto Sales & Service,Tacoma

Courtesy of Laurie Allen

Nonprofit: The Tuned In Academy

Coupling music education with accessible pricing, The Tuned In Academy serves South Sound music lovers of all ages. Beyond learning how to play music, the nonprofit encourages the community to learn music at a much deeper level, to understand it, what it means, and how it impacts people. Recently, the academy added a licensed and board-certified music therapist to its team. Keep an ear out and you might notice the nonprofits presence beyond the classroom in local retirement homes and public projects, such as Olympias Arts Walk. Olympia

Veterinarian: Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital,Tacoma

Groomer: Bubbles and Bows Pet Grooming,Tacoma

Doggy Daycare: Biscuits Doggy Daycare & Pet Resort,Tacoma

Courtesy of Swantown Marina & Boatworks

Marina: Swantown Marina & Boatworks,Olympia

Law Firm: Horwath Law,Various locations

Attorney: Casey Arbenz,Puget Law Group,Tacoma

Courtesy of Kyle Rohrbaugh

Mortgage Lender: Kyle Rohrbaugh, RPM Mortgage,Gig Harbor

Insurance: Pfarr Insurance Agency,Tacoma

Courtesy of Blitz & Co. Florist via Facebook

Florist: Blitz & Co. Florist

Blitz & Co. Florist helps South Sounders brighten days and honor special occasions with its handcrafted, personalized floral arrangements. The Pacific Avenue florist covers it all, from celebrating anniversaries to expressing sympathy at the loss of loved ones, and every occasion in between. Family-owned and -operated, its care is reflected in every bouquet and delivery. Sending flowers to loved ones locally and nationally is an iris-table way to bring smiles and support local business at the same time. Tacoma

Real Estate Agent: Shelly Hallsted, Keller Williams Realty, University Place

Courtesy of City of Tacoma via Facebook

City: Tacoma

Tattoo Artist:Travis Brown Fleshworks Tattoo Studio,Olympia

Financial Advisor:Molly Axworthy, Edward Jones,Tacoma

Cannabis Shop:Mary Mart,Tacoma

Apartment Community:Madison25,Tacoma

Auto Dealer:Titus-Will Automotive Group,Various locations

Retirement Community:Harbor Place at Cottesmore,Gig Harbor

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Courtesy of Abe Clary Creative Portraits

Boutique: The Pink Chandelier

Beaming with charm and treasure, The Pink Chandelier is our readers go-to shop for fi nding special gifts, home dcor, or simply passing time. Fair warning: Guests might lose track of time in this relaxing West Meeker oasis. Co-owners Colette Wilson and Renee Quiett took over last summer with the hope of adding a caf. According to the duo, We want people to feel that while they are in our shop, everything is calm, and life will be OK a break from a year that might not have had many of those moments.

Mens Fashion: Nordstrom,Various locations

Jewelry: Tacoma Custom Jewelers,University Place

Courtesy of Fleet Feet via Facebook

Shoe Shop: Fleet Feet,Bonney Lake and Tacoma

Hair Salon:Union Salon,Tacoma

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Photo by Bel Peterson

New Restaurant:Coopers Food and Drink

Founded in 2020, Coopers Food & Drink has a bit of everything. Its family-friendly seating, fully stocked bar, and socially distanced outdoor patio make it the ideal eatery for most groups. Coopers serves classic American comfort food, such as hearty wings, meatballs, mac and cheese, and fish and chips, to get customers through typical PNW gray days. Or start the day off with Coopers weekend brunch, complete with chicken and waffles, fresh-squeezed orange juice mimosas, and New York-style steak and eggs. Tacoma

Restaurant and Fine Dining: Lobster Shop, Tacoma

Romantic Dinner:The Restaurant at Alderbrook,Union

Best Lunch: Crisp Greens,Tacoma

Photo by Jeff Hobson

Food Truck: Burger Seoul,Tacoma

Brunch: Devoted Kiss Cafe,Gig Harbor

Happy Hour: Matador,Various Locations

Montezumas | Photo by Amy Johnson Photography

Mexican: Moctezumas Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar,Various locations

Chef: Rena Bailey,Lobster Shop, Tacoma

Sushi: The Koi,Tacoma

Photo by Jeff Hobson

Burger: Spanky Burger & Brew

Spanky Burgers mouth-watering beers, buns, and burgers are no joke. Its gourmet, smash-style burgers are sure to knock diners socks off. Check out its Sweet Aloha, Bacon Bleu, Peanut Butter Burger, and jalapeno-packed Fireball Burger if you dare. The only thing better than Spankys burgers? Its customer service. Spanky Burger places a high value on customer satisfaction, communication, and providing options for dietary needs. And what burger would be complete without onion rings, milkshakes, and fries? Its got all that, and more. Tacoma

Japanese: Fujiya Japanese Restaurant,Tacoma

Pizza: Salamones Pizza,Tacoma

Courtesy of Heritage Distilling Co.

Distillery: Heritage Distilling Co.

Heritage Distilling Co. is among the top distilleries in the United States, and one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest. This majority women-owned business crafts specialty whiskeys, vodkas, gins, and rums. With more than 1,500 U.S. craft distilleries, the American Distilling Institute has named Heritage the most awarded craft distillery in North America for the past seven years. Moreover, Heritage offers tours, tasting rooms, and gift baskets for any event. Gig Harbor

Vegetarian: Viva,Tacoma

Hole-in-the-Wall: Top of Tacoma Bar & Grill,Tacoma

Coffee Shop:Valhalla Coffee Co.,Tacoma

Bakery: Corina Bakery,Tacoma

Winery: Browne Family Vineyards,Tacoma

Brewery:7 Seas Brewing,Gig Harbor and Tacoma

Photo courtesy Le Sel Bistro

French: Le Sel Bistro

This romantic, rustic French eatery combines traditional French cuisine with locally sourced seafood and produce. Visit during the restaurants brunch service for eggs Benedict, fresh omelets, and brioche French toast. Le Sels outdoor patio overlooks Commencement Bay, making for a perfect, socially distanced dinner date. Tacoma

Chinese:Tacoma Szechuan,Lakewood

Courtesy of Boathouse 19 via Facebook

Dessert:Boathouse 19, Tacoma

Vietnamese:La C Bar,Tacoma

Seafood:Dukes Seafood,Various locations

Thai: Silk Thai Caf, Tacoma

Indian: Gateway to India,Gig Harbor and Tacoma

Outdoor Dining: Tides Tavern, Gig Harbor

Photo by Jeff Hobson

Cocktail:En Rama,Tacoma

Italian:Marzano Italian Restaurant,Tacoma

Grocery Store: Metropolitan Market,Various locations

Donut: Paos Donuts,Tacoma

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The Best of the South Sound 2021 -

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