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September 21, 2011

2011 Writers' Choice

LEO staffers weigh in on some of the city's best bets

Best Place to Get Myrtle Beach Drunk:

Falling Rock Quarry

Thank goodness we can now satiate our inner Snooki with a slice of spring break just a half-hour north in Oldham County. Falling Rock Park’s quarry, with its stagnant, emerald water, refreshes all kinds: hipsters, hillbillys and frat boys with phone numbers scribbled across their doughy chests for the girls, girls, girls! Just like Myrtle, booze flows from packed coolers (and hopefully not back into the water … though sources say the water is suspiciously warmer on peak days). Let’s be honest, no one arrives with a satchel full of book club reads. They come to party. Fearless divers flip from rocks. On the quarry’s dusty perimeter, neon bikinis — like little, flickering birthday candles — dance to top-40 hits blaring from pickups. So make the trip. The water’s sublime. The people watching? Divine. —Anne Marshall

Best Organic Market in New Albany:

Creekside Outpost

As a graduate of the best dang college in all of New Albany, I’m here to tell you two things: 1) You can get there on I-65 North as easily as you can on the late, great I-64 West, and 2) You need to chill on the Whole Foods for a minute and get back to the land. Creekside Outpost seems like a place you’d discover in the middle of the countryside, 60 years ago, yet it’s only a minute from the urbane Indiana University Southeast. The spot hosts a wellness clinic (with ear candling), a market that sells exotic meats, supplements and herbs in a pseudo-Native American setting, and, until recently, a small lunch room that made some mighty fine buffalo burgers and lavender lemonade. —Peter Berkowitz

Best Local TV News Promo:

WHAS 11 — Boat Fire

The TV news promo is a novelty in journalism. It encourages blatant truth bending in a truth-seeking profession. Be it a story on Kentucky declaring war on Indiana or a car fire where no one even coughed, the gravitas is equal in these 30-second wonders. So when an empty houseboat caught fire near Tumbleweed and drifted to its demise on the Ohio River, WHAS made the story sing, alluding to kids in danger at a playground “just feet away.” Meters would’ve been a more accurate measuring tool. Oh, and river water was separating the two. Perhaps baby fat is quite flammable, but would flames really bypass thousands of gallons of water just to char children? Watch tonight. And find out. —Anne Marshall

Best Place to Waste a Sunday:

Spring Street Bar & Grill

Once upon a time, I walked into Spring Street Bar & Grill at dawn’s early light (OK, so maybe it was about noon) and didn’t step back out until long after the sun had retired. I don’t make it a habit to spend my days inside a bar, but it does happen on occasion. You see, I went to watch back-to-back NFL playoff games with some friends, and then I got roped into staying for the Golden Globes following the final touchdown. I don’t remember who played that day or who won a statue, but I remember staring down a tab that still hurts to this day. Too bad Spring Street doesn’t have layaway. —Sara Havens

Best Place to Get Your A.D.D. On:

BW3’s

Look over there, Brady just threw a touchdown pass! No, look here, the Bengals just pounced on the Browns! Over there! Look! The steel curtain just melted! Look at that! Indy still sucks! Oh my! Look! That cheerleader is hot! Look! I think Favre might come back to football for the 27th time! He’s crying again during a press conference! Look here! I just got another crisp, cold, tall Miller Lite on draft! Look! Spicy garlic wings rule! Look at that! Michael Vick just took a hit! Look over there! It’s that Bud Light commercial you told me about! Will you shut the fuck up … I’m concentrating on my trivia game. Welcome to a typical Sunday at BW3’s. —Sara Havens

Best “Finally!”:

La Rosita in Louisville

Some people are smart, some are lucky, and some are both. Even with a functional Sherman Minton Bridge, La Rosita has needed to open a Louisville restaurant for years. Their successful launch downtown in the previously cursed location across from The Connection came slightly before Shermageddon, and will surely keep “the shortest trip to Mexico you’ll ever take” in business, no matter what happens over the river. Which is fantastic, because, as willing as I would be to travel out of my way to get a Quesadilla Manzanita (grilled chicken, melted cheese, caramelized apples, grilled onions, pecans, raisins and chorizo sour cream), I’d much rather just walk down the street. —Peter Berkowitz

Best Topping Combination at Sweet CeCe’s:

M&M’s and Hot Fudge

When I first entered through the pearly door at Sweet CeCe’s, I thought I had died and gone to hell. With all these topping options for the fabulous frozen yogurt, how could I possibly choose? Like a Democrat, I wished for more laws, sanctions and regulations. This couldn’t possibly be legal. I made a pros and cons list with the 3 billion toppings and came up with a formula that best suited my needs. It’s simple, easy to remember and cheap (remember, you pay by how much your concoction weighs) — plain M&M’s and hot fudge. My logic: Cereal is for breakfast. Fruit is not dessert. Gummies are for kids. Yogurt chips are for people who think granola is a treat. This leaves M&M’s and fudge. The end. —Sara Havens

Best Restaurant to Take a Small Child Without Getting Dirty Looks:

Sol Aztecas on Bardstown Road

A mere 12 months ago, I was among the judgmental masses doling out sanctimonious glares at parents who dared to bring their loud, messy children into the restaurant where I was dining. Fast-forward to the present — I now have a 1-year-old who drops at least half his dinner on the floor and bangs his sippy cup on the table for laughs. (He really is quite adorable, I swear.) Determined not to live a hermetic existence post-baby, we dragged our spawn to a handful of local eateries with mixed results (note: do not let baby get his hands on chopsticks). Eventually, we found the perfect spot at Sol Aztecas on Bardstown Road. It’s casual, quick, friendly and just dark enough so I don’t feel guilty about leaving a trail of puffs in our wake. —Sarah Kelley

Best Duck Fat Popcorn:

Eiderdown

As a proud Schnitzelburg resident, it has pained me at times that our neighborhood’s dining options haven’t always been as plentiful as our bar options. From the day they opened, Eiderdown won my heart with their relaxed but still kinda classy ambiance, nice enough for a date or a family gathering without being too downscale or too fancy. But it’s all about the taste of the food, ultimately, and their offerings are some of the best in town. So it’s kind of a shame that I’m going out of my way to praise their $4 popcorn starter, right? But no! The fact that they put so much care and flavor into something so otherwise inessential should tell you all you need to know about how they do everything else. —Peter Berkowitz

Best Way to Order Wings at The Back Door:

Garlic Herb Butter with a Side of Hot Sauce

I love me some hot, but I don’t order hot wings at The Back Door. Stay with me here. The best way to order wings and light up your esophagus while enjoying a thoroughly satisfying meal of gnawing chicken carcass is this: Ask for garlic herb butter wings and a side of hot sauce. This way, they come out crispy, rubbed down with delicious spices, and primed to dip and drown in the vat of sauce. And when you’re done tonguing the bones, you can lap up the rest of the sauce with a fork … or sometimes cake. It’s been known to happen. —Sara Havens

Best Room of Quiet Reflection:

The Charles Dickens Room at Jim Porter’s

When you go to Jim Porter’s Good Time Emporium, there’s often an overwhelming amount of stimuli for your brain to fully process, as it’s been recognized as the largest collection of 50-somethings dry-humping each other on a dance floor in North America. The Charles Dickens Room, tucked away in the corner of the top floor, is the perfect quiet hideaway to sit back and reflect on the horrors you’ve just witnessed. The room has Dickens books and memorabilia, as well as a first-edition print of “David Copperfield” that was published the same year the cougar who was trying to grind on you 15 minutes ago was born. —Joe Sonka

Best Place to Pretend You’re Someone Else:

Jockey Silks

It’s hard to throw a rock in this city and not hit someone you know, even if it’s on purpose. So where can you go to escape your past and rub elbows with people who don’t know your ex, haven’t slept with your ex or aren’t your ex? Point your car downtown, bypass the glitz and glam of Fourth Street Live and duck into Jockey Silks — located deep inside the Galt House. While you peruse the extensive bourbon menu for a swig of something you’ve never tried, make up a sordid past. Perhaps you’re a hooker with a heart of platinum or an undercover FBI agent investigating a national security threat involving the Louisville Mega Cavern and Col. Sanders’ 11 herbs and spices. Just be able to sustain your story through several rounds. —Sara Havens

Best Reason to Make the 20-minute Trek to Utica, Ind.:

Hidden Hill Nursery & Sculpture Garden

You know and love the avuncular Bob Hill from his career as a journalist and columnist, including his duties co-hosting a public radio show about gardening. While I am no (insert name of famous gardener here), I love pretty plants. I also love wacky yard art and fun events filled with music, movies, yoga, BBQ and beer. Anyone willing to open up their home and let me wander around and enjoy all these things is awesome. Hidden Hill is “a unique mini-arboretum, sculpture gallery and unusual plant nursery” open to the public on weekends between April and mid-October. It’s the kind of place you can take kids, parents, pretty much anyone you can tolerate being around for a while — and even if they annoy you, there’s plenty of distractions all around. —Peter Berkowitz

Best Free Sample at the Farmers Market:

Cheese!

Will they notice if I take two? Is it wrong? Especially since I don’t have cash to buy anything? Let me come up with something to say about the smoky flavor so as to appear on the cusp of a purchase. In a town laden with Catholic guilt, surely the longing for mouth-watering goat cheese (shout out to you, Capriole) conflicts souls tempted by generous cheese samples at local farmers markets. On the other side of the table, cheese-makers in faded T-shirts must chronicle grubby hand after grubby hand plucking at their goods. But it’s free! And those toothpicks sticking out of warm cubes look like edible exclamation marks, eager for consumption. Go on. Take one. Just don’t hover. People are waiting behind you. —Anne Marshall

Best Use of Baby Oil in Louisville:

Ladies Hot Oil Wrestling at Club 21

Neighborhood nostalgia, German ancestry and lukewarm Miller Lites fuel Schnitzelburg’s annual Dainty competition along Goss Avenue. On the flip side, over on Shelby Street, blowjob shots, baby oil and Greco-Roman tradition spill out of an inflatable baby pool onto an empty dance floor. Welcome to hot oil wrestling at Club 21. (Hold your tears Pour Haus loyalists, and try to appreciate some athleticism; plus, beer is still under $2.) Only ladies can participate because it’s Club 21, it involves baby oil, and anything else would be too homoerotic. But this is not exploitation. These women come looking for a fight. In fact, naive patrons are lured by the rumor of a $500 cash prize. Here’s all you need to know: three bottles of baby oil, hot water, and the baddest, least dainty ladies in the ’burg. —Anne Marshall

Best Place to Buy a Cheap Bottle of Wine Without Feeling Like a Schmuck:

The Wine Market

I love wine but loathe the pretensions that accompany it. And though I’ve come a long way since sipping Franzia from a coffee mug in college, my palate still is not refined enough to discern hints of oak and cloves and dirt, much less talk about it. But trust me -— I know a good red when I taste it. Luckily, I don’t have to feel ashamed of my limited tongue map or slim budget when patronizing The Wine Market on Bardstown Road, where the friendly folks behind the counter are happy to point out quality, low-cost wines with enthusiasm. They often have a bottle open for tasting, which results in an enhanced shopping experience. Plus, they sell an assortment of gourmet cheeses in small portions, making for an all-around affordable wine-and-cheese evening. —Sarah Kelley

Best Place in Prospect:

Henry’s Ark

Not only is this donation-based menagerie of otherwise unwanted animals the only reason I go to Prospect, it’s also my favorite place to visit yaks. It’s cool to go someplace where if a human is in charge, you never see them. Visitors are free to wander around Henry’s Ark, petting the freely roaming peacocks, emus, sheep and other animals, which is more helpful than a psychiatrist and a lot more affordable. It was once fun to toss carrots at the critters and watch them lunge at their lunch, but the Ark now discourages such behavior … which can only lead to a gang of teenagers buying a bag of carrots, happy to have an order to disobey. —Peter Berkowitz

Best Band That Had to Cancel Its Show in Louisville:

Quintron and Miss Pussycat

If you think Grover is the most unglued puppet at the monster disco, you’ve never dodged the machine gun fire from Miss Pussycat’s soft villains and snuggly heroines. Hurricane disco and humid funk skitter and burp from the chrome grill of Quintron’s homemade organ/vintage roadster while he and his maraca-pumping wife, Miss Pussycat, spit dance commands. But it’s the surreal puppetry exploring themes of art, witchcraft and greed that make their shows epic. Too bad a family emergency rerouted the couple’s tour before they could stop at Zanzabar earlier this year. Let’s hope 2012 will witness a return to Louisville for this New Orleans band/experience. —Anne Marshall

Best Reason to Drink Beer on a Monday:

Half-Price Growlers at Cumberland Brews

After a weekend of excess, Mondays have long been reserved for teetotaling oneself back to a state of good health. And in my line of work, Tuesday evening has traditionally marked the gateway back to boozetown, as LEO staffers flee to happy hour after putting this baby to bed. That said, I recently discovered a reason to throw back a pint or two of refreshing local brew at the beginning of the workweek: half-price growlers on Mondays at Cumberland Brews. That’s 64 ounces of craft beer for a mere $5. There’s nothing like a cheap batch of Moonbow Wit to wash away a case of the Mondays. —Sarah Kelley

Best Karaoke Host:

The Big Kahuna at Phoenix Hill Tavern

If you want a karaoke host with flair, Phoenix Hill Tavern is the place to go (or brave). Besides the wide assortment of hats and costumes that you can choose from during your performance, “The Big Kahuna” will put on a show of his own. He not only sings lovingly about his genitals, but will occasionally mosey on down to your table and give you a lap dance, if the mood strikes him. And it will. Also, you can be assured that the karaoke performances are likely better than the cover bands playing in the tavern’s other rooms. —Joe Sonka

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