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Best of Memphis 2012: Staff Picks

We have a few "Bests" of our own to share.

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Best Key Lime Pie in the South (Including Florida)

Jim's Place Grille carries on the long-standing Memphis tradition started at Jim's Place with excellent food and fun atmosphere, but one of my absolute favorite things about eating there is their homemade Key lime pie. I'm serious when I say that I've never had a better slice of Key lime pie. Ever. Yes, even in Florida. Something about its crumbly crust and combination of sweet and tangy is the perfect way to finish off a meal of their stuffed shrimp and house salad. Need I say more? — Anna Cox

Best Movie Theater

Malco Ridgeway Four. The movie theater many of us in Midtown hoped that Studio on the Square would be when it opened. Movies for grown-ups in a four-screen complex worth the drive, and minus the hassle and crowds at Paradiso. Also the most comfortable seats in town, and the best movie food and drinks.

John Branston

Best Dog Park

It wasn't long ago that Memphis didn't have any fenced-in parks for pooches. Now we have at least four, including downtown's Barking Lot, the dog park at Shelby Farms, and the city dog park on Avery. But there's no place better for butt sniffin' and tail waggin' than Overton Park's new Overton Bark. Natural shade, handmade benches, dog-friendly water fountains, and ground covered in wood chips to prevent dogs from muddying up the place make Overton Bark the best, paws down.

Bianca Phillips

Best Smoothie

Cosmic Coconut. This all-vegan smoothie and juice bar recently expanded their hours (open until 8:30 p.m.) and added daily meat-free lunch specials (think Mexican Monday and Burger & Friesday!), as well as a vegan grilled cheese sandwich available anytime. And they still do smoothies better than any place in town. Made with organic, natural, vegan ingredients, Cosmic Coconut smoothies will leave you feeling satisfied without the guilt. We're partial to the Chocolate Covered Almond Smoothie (banana, almond milk, almond butter, cacao, carob, and agave). — BP

Best Soup

Soup is a meal. Soup is not a meal. Both are wrong. The chicken tortilla soup at El Toro Loco on Poplar at Union Extended is two meals, and very good ones at that. Big slices of white-meat chicken with rice, cilantro, tortilla, grated cheese, avocado, and a delicious rich broth. Served with chips and salsa, at $5 for a huge bowl it's an incredible bargain. Add a frozen margarita for $3. You can't do this at home for the price, and the service is fast and friendly, too. — JB

Best Worst Year To Have a Uterus

By all accounts, 2012 hasn't been a banner year for women in the Mid-South. After defunding Planned Parenthood in the fall of 2011, Shelby County started off 2012 by squandering half-a-million Title X family-planning dollars, leaving untold numbers of women without Title X services. Tennessee legislators proposed a bill that would force the public disclosure of the names of abortion providers and detailed information about abortion patients. They later backed down, settling instead for an amended version of the law that simply hampers access to abortions by requiring providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The bill passed into law this summer and is the same kind of law that currently threatens the existence of Mississippi's only abortion clinic. As Women's Health News blogger Rachel Walden put it, "Welcome to Tennessee —Try Not To Be a Woman While You're Here." — Hannah Sayle

Best Vocal Performance

Rick Trotter, the Memphis Grizzlies PA announcer. A Griz game at FedExForum is a great Memphis experience for a lot of reasons, notable among them the entertainment value provided by Trotter. A Rudy Gay dunk or Z-Bo put-back or visiting team miscue ("Shot clock: VIOLATED") is cause for Trotter's vocal adrenaline. It makes you get on your feet and shout. Heart. — Greg Akers

Best Bygone Griz

OJ Mayo. Never again will we hear Rick Trotter exclaiming, "Oh! Oh! OJ Mayo!" after the guard sinks a three, jogs down the court, and blows the smoke off his hands and holsters them. Tear drop. — GA

Best Undiscovered Natural Wonder

Without question, Memphis' most underappreciated natural resource is the Mississippi River. While there is a small but rabid group of boat owners, kayakers, and canoeists who enjoy the river, most Memphians still seem to fear it or prefer to watch it from Tom Lee Park or Greenbelt Park. If you can find a way to get out on the river and explore the many sandbars, hidden lakes, and abundant bird- and wildlife, you'll be hooked.

Bruce VanWyngarden

Best Tearjerker

Undefeated. If you're a Memphian and you don't cry at least once while watching this Oscar-winning documentary, you're broken. The film — about the Manassas High School football team and coaching staff, struggling through life together — is an emotional haymaker. — GA

Best Salad

Try Cafe 1912's Lyonnaise salad once, and you'll be hooked. A blend of fresh greens, crispy potato slices, Benton Farms bacon, topped by a fresh, soft-boiled egg — this is a salad that doubles as a meal. — BV

Best French Fries

My vote goes to the fries at Fuel. They're cut thick but not too thick, with skin on and lightly salted. And they come with three dipping sauces. Whether as a side for any of the restaurant's excellent entrées or just as an appetizer, Fuel's fries are a great way to get your 'tater fix. — BV

Best Worst Year To Be a Pig

This was a tough year for heritage breed pigs, the reluctant stars of both the first Cochon 555 visit to Memphis and the inaugural Cochon Heritage BBQ. These two weekend-long festivals dedicated to porky delicacies and fine wine and bourbon brought a culinary wonderland to Memphis in February and August. But while Memphians were chowing down on full snout-to-tail menus, pigs all over the country erased "visit Memphis" from their bucket list. — HS

Best Place To Face Your Doppelganger AND Best Place To Rent a So-Awful-It's-Good B Movie

Black Lodge Video. Okay, I'm not so sure how literally the Twin Peaks reference in their name and on their store sign translates (or if anyone else out there will get it?), but there is a slight chance you may have to confront your fears and your evil twin soul when perusing the shelves of Black Lodge Video. There is an even greater chance that you'll find a weird, wild, and grotesque selection of movies to entertain or terrify you or gross you out — whatever you're into. Seriously, whatever you're into. — Shara Clark

Best New Cocktail Invented by a Memphis Arts Administrator

Opera Memphis' hyperactive general director Ned Canty is an idea machine. One minute he's planning a global campaign to prove opera isn't stodgy, then he's bragging about the Memphis-centric cocktail he's concocted and named "Ham" Embree, after a local artist who lived in his house for decades. The recipe, according to Canty: "Take one bottle of Ghost River Golden Ale, and pour into a cold glass. Add 1 1/2 ounces St-Germain liqueur. Stir gently. Take a moment to thank the Lord you live in Memphis."

Chris Davis

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