Best of the Chippewa Valley 2016

for the 10th year in a row, we ask what you like best

The 2016 Results Are In!

Select a category to see the winners:


For the last ten years, we’ve turned to our readers — you guys — to chime in and speak up about your favorite places to eat, favorite bands in the area, favorite spots, and favorite dishes at favorite restaurants in our Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll 2016.

This thing is always huge: This issue is our biggest ever. In these 96 pages (96 pages!), we’ve eschewed the bulk of our regular editorial content, covering all the latest events, music, books, art, eats, and Chippewa Valley happenings (don’t worry — it’ll all be back in two weeks!) in order to get the poll results out there in print.

It’s pretty crazy to think we’ve been doing this thing for ten years. Even crazier is that there are some categories where the same thing has won every single year that this poll has been in existence (check those out on the next page). In the last ten years, we’ve seen the Chippewa Valley change in ways we didn’t even think possible. New restaurants popping up, new businesses, new buildings, new people with new ideas. This issue celebrates all of that, while never forgetting the steadfast places that have kept the Valley going for years and years.

It’s you guys. It’s you all getting into it and voicing your opinions about the place you live. If you think something’s great, this poll celebrates how great that thing is. If you wish something were better, this poll shines a light on that thing and gets us all thinking of ways to make it better.

This year’s poll saw perennial winners continue to dominate (The Joynt, Girolamo’s Court’n House), plus some exciting newcomers shaking things up (Woodmans, The Brewing Projekt). But like every year, we have no idea how this thing is gonna shake out. This poll is completely driven by Chippewa Valley folk who are passionate to support (and if not support, weigh in on) every tiny facet of this community they love. That makes this a very, very special issue.

To us, this poll is an incredible thing, and that’s not to pat ourselves on the back. It’s you guys. It’s you all getting into it and voicing your opinions about the place you live. If you think something’s great, this poll celebrates how great that thing is. If you wish something were better, this poll shines a light on that thing and gets us all thinking of ways to make it better.

That’s the goal here: To make the Chippewa Valley a better place to live through the voices and votes of those who live here. Because really, the best burger joints or the best parks aren’t going to be the reason this is a great place to live. It’s the people here who populate those places and try new things and genuinely care about making their home great. After all, this is your home. Your neighbors are your neighbors. It’s up to both of you — not one or the other — to make this place great. There’s something kinda beautiful in that.

So to the thousands of voters who took the time to give their opinions, thank you for letting us and your community know what you think. Because really what’s the use of having a best burger without anyone special to eat it?

As you peruse these results, keep in mind ways to take advantage of them. If you see a great thing you haven’t tried, go try it! If something you disagree with disappoints you, let people know! We should all be striving to celebrate the things we have, and work on the things we don’t. That’s how places and people grow in harmony together.

This is big deal to us and — we believe — to this community. It starts with being active and engaged, trying things, going places, interacting with both your neighbors and your friends. So without further ado, here are the best of best.

Maybe we can start here.

Best Of Hall of Fame

Year in and year out, Chippewa Valley voters rank these winners as the cream of the crop in our poll. Here are the people, places, and things that have won their categories SIX or more straight years!

Ten Year Winners

Draganetti's Ristorante
Best Italian Food

Famous Dave's
Best Barbecue

The Joynt
Best Bar for Talkin'

Best Dance Floor

Michael Perry
Favorite Local Author

Best Thrift Store

Buffalo Wild Wings
Best Sports Bar

Coon Fork Lake County Park
Best Place to Camp

9-year Winners since 2008

McKay and Donuts - Best Radio Show
Cancun Mexican Grill - Best Mexican Food
Eau Claire Dog Park - Best Place to Take a Pet

8-year Winners since 2009

The Livery - Best Restaurant for Outdoor Dining
Irvine Park Zoo - Best Place to Take Your Kids
Big Falls County Park - Best Beach

7-year Winners since 2010

Altoona Family Restaurant - Best Restaurant for Comfort Food, Best Restaurant for Good Wait Staff
Girolamo’s Court’n House - Best Burger, Best Fish Fry, Best Bar Food
Phoenix Park - Best Place for Live Music
UW-Eau Claire Jazz I - Best Jazz Band
Brent Douglas - Best Florist
Michaels - Best Arts and Crafts Store
Wagner’s Lanes - Best Bowling Alley

6-year Winners since 2011

Riverfront restaurant - Kind of Eatery/Bar We Most Need
Chippewa Valley Museum - Best Museum or Historical Site
Sculpture Tour Eau Claire - Best Public Art Installation (non-gallery)
Lotus Spa - Best Spa
Mayo Clinic Health System - Best Hospital / Clinic
Eau Claire Bike & Sport - Best Local Bike Shop
Lasker Jewelers - Best Place for Jewelry
Trubilt Collision Center - Best Auto Body Shop
Morgan Music - Best Place to Buy an Instrument
B&B Electric - Best Electrician
Diamond School of Dance - Best Dance Studio
Just Local Foods - Best Business for Green Products/Services
Royal Credit Union - Best Bank / Credit Union
Hickory Hills - Best Golf Course
Hot Country B-95 - Best Local Radio Station

5-year Winners since 2012

Grizzly’s Wood-Fired Grill - Best Restaurant for Chicken
Books-A-Million - Best Bookstore
DaVinci Therapeutic Massage - Best Place for a Massage
Antique Emporium - Best Antiques / Old Stuff
Irvine Park Zoo - Best Free Activity
River Bend Vineyard & Winery - Best Winemaker
Acoustic Café (EC) - Best Restaurant for Subs and Sandwiches

Start by selecting a category: