Best Of 2016

Best artist who can also make great countertops

Wood wizard Jon Stine is known for crafting beautiful longboards, beer taps and very-high-end custom furniture, but countertops — who knew? When my boyfriend and I went searching for wood countertops that didn’t look like 1985-married ScanDesign, we ran into Stine working in the back room of Anderson Lumber and learned, shockingly, that we could afford him. He added artistic touches — tying together the tones of wood between the high-top and the work surface, carving out space for a mermaid compass rose, and using his power tools to add creative weathering to the cypress — all without calling attention to itself as “art.” Facebook: Stine Custom Woodworks, LLC. —Cathy Salustri

Best children's hospital
John's Hopkins All Childrens

Parents rarely feel more helpless than when we have a child in the hospital. Luckily for bay area locals, we have Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, formerly called All Children’s Hospital, where the staff is great both with kids and their worried parents. The giant medical compound’s cleanliness and child-friendly aesthetic, combined with the professionalism and caring bedside manner of the doctors and nurses, make a scary and stressful experience more tolerable, because we know our children are in the best possible hands. —Amy Beeman

Best exhibit for purse shopping

I have but one regret: that I did not buy the red and white striped replica of the purse seen on one of the Horst Vogue covers exhibited at the Dali this summer. Like the Disney & Dali exhibit before it, the show devoted to this visionary fashion and portrait photographer proved once again how art weaves itself into every corner of our culture. As strange as it sounds to say this about a museum that trucks in the surreal, at the Dali they’re keeping it real. One Dali Blvd., St. Petersburg, —Cathy Salustri

Best friendly AC company

A few years ago, our home’s central AC died an impactful death just as summer was coming on, and I ended up paying too much for a replacement unit. Worse, I was saddled with two guys for maintenance — a nice guy who quickly disappeared, and a surly guy who acted like every call was the height of inconvenience, and passively helped me screw myself out of the final half-year of my warranty (no matter how often you see someone, kids, always insist on the paperwork). CL’s Joey Neill recommended Chill Out, and a couple of amiable yet professional older (than me) guys came out and hooked me up; I’ve been with them ever since. Don’t let the, ahem, chill attitude fool you — they do big jobs and small, they know their shit, and most importantly, they’re honest and care about the customer. 727-502-7338. —Scott Harrell

Best greenwashing

“Cage free” isn’t the same as “free range” and “antibiotic free” is a worthless label. Publix manages to greenwash with the best of them, despite its beloved status as “Florida’s grocery store.” It’s a sad day when Wal-Mart does a better job of getting real organics to people inexpensively. Four dollars for a red pepper? What is this, Disney World? —Cathy Salustri

Best handyman

The only thing that sucks about Aaron Burkett is that you might have to get in line to have him work on your busted-up shit. The Tampa-based handyman has left a lot of shimmering home improvement projects in his wake, which means everybody wants Burkett and his posse of reliable fixers and builders to come to their house for a project. Burkett and crew work fast and clean, and play some good music while they do it. 813-732-1085. —Ray Roa

Best it's-hell-gettin'-old
Todd Bates

A popular election-year jab, especially at the presidential level, is to question an opponent’s physical health, thus implying that he or she may die in office and is thus unfit to serve. It’s one of the many lobs Trump’s people have tossed at Clinton, especially after she collapsed at the 9/11 memorial in September. One Trump supporter told The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper he was sure Clinton contracted AIDS from her husband, who probably contracted it from Magic Johnson. But when she took the debate stage later in the month, she was fine — it was Trump who sniffled numerous times throughout the night. Both candidates have released letters from their doctors ensuring good health, though the first of two letters written for Trump was comically bizarre and written under questionable circumstances. —KB

This year, LocalShops1 — run by Ester Venouzio — nominated Olga Bof, who founded Keep St. Pete Local, for a LocalShops1 award. Olga then asked that she be removed from the list of nominees. This is only the latest in the “As the ’Burg Turns” saga of local group vs. local group. Apparently each one wants bragging rights to loving local more. We get sucked in with emails and phone calls Every. Damn. Time. Look, if we have to come back there, we’ll turn this car around. Is that what you want? —Cathy Salustri

Best new grocery mini-chain
Ray Roa
click to enlarge Best new grocery mini-chain
Jessica Moore

There was a whole lot of hootin’ and hollerin’ from Mayor Bob Buckhorn and his gang last year when the news came out that a Publix would be opening downtown. Forgotten in the fray of “yays!”? Duckweed Urban Grocery was starting construction that same day on its second location just across from Channelside’s Washington Street dog park. No worries, though, as residents started flocking to the Duck as soon as it opened last March. 111 N. 12th St #1102, Tampa, 8 to the joint to get their essentials —Ray Roa

Best new source for nice people delivering things to Ray’s door and getting paid for it

Who the f*** is knocking at my door, and whose car is that? These days 2-day delivery is on the slow end. The trade-off? Having a whole lot of different strangers coming to your address to deliver goods you ordered on the internet. You are definitely taking money out of your favorite local retailer’s pocket, but at least there’s a neighbor getting to use their car to earn some scratch. —Ray Roa