Best place to hear live music: VZD’S RESTAURANT & CLUB
4200 N. Western Heralded throughout the metro for its great beer selection and tasty appetizers, VZD’s is an institution. No self-respecting alt-country band or folksinger would even think of skipping VZD’s pub hall, but that’s not to say the owners cater to a specific genre. Nearing 40 years of operation, the venue hosts the diverse “Acoustic Oklahoma” showcase, ’80s tribute nights, Bo Diddley, dubstep DJs, Dixie Chicks, power-pop rockers and even the Red Hot Chili Peppers once upon a time. Gotta respect the classics, man.
2. The Blue Door, 2805 N. McKinley
3. Blue Note Lounge, 2408 N. Robinson Worth mentioning: The Conservatory, The Deli
Best place to see a concert: OKC ZOO AMPHITHEATRE
2101 N.E. 50th How better to see a show than with a couple thousand of your dearest friends? Hordes of Oklahomans flock to the outdoor venue each year to see and hear some of the biggest names in hard rock, country, metal and classic rock. Often braving the heat and open-air half-dome, fans return home with ears, hearts and heads throbbing from swirling light shows, national-caliber acts and speakers that stack high like the Devon tower. Bigger is better, amigo.
2. Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker
3. OKC Arena (now Chesapeake Energy Arena), 100 W. Reno Worth mentioning: Diamond Ballroom, River wind Casino
Best dance club: GROOVY’S
5705 Mosteller Never has a winner’s name been so appropriate for a given category. Groovy’s is an obvious place to dance, juke, jive or whatever else you want to call it. Make a guilty-pleasure selection on the jukebox, grab a drink, and try not to commit a party foul while cuttin’ a rug.
2. Copa, 2200 N.W. 39th Expressway
3. Skky Bar, 7 S. Mickey Mantle Worth mentioning: City Walk, Kamp’s
Best sports bar: REPUBLIC GASTROPUB
5830 N. Classen Blvd. Republic isn’t your average pub, but given the food, drinks, atmosphere and the sports constantly playing on the so-large-you-can’t-miss-them TVs, you might not be able to tell the difference. The tech-savvy take on traditional pubs offers a number of unique menu items, many of which simply add some twists to the classics, all of which mix well with the huge selection of beverages.
2. Louie’s Grill & Bar, several metro locations
3. Coach’s Bar & Grill, several metro locations Worth mentioning: Henry Hudson’s Pub, The Dugout
Best karaoke bar: NANCY’S 57TH STREET LIGHTHOUSE
5708 N. May Karaoke is one of those odd combinations where you’re very likely to have fun, but almost equally likely to embarrass yourself. With that being said, Nancy’s is one spot where you can get the best out of such a combination. Stop by and have a cold beverage while you think about which song you’ll butcher next in front of all your friends.
2. Cookie’s, 2304 N. Western
3. Mr. Bill’s, 1101 Elm, Norman Worth mentioning: City Walk, Friends Restaurant and Club
Best fancy-pants bar: REPUBLIC GASTROPUB
5830 N. Classen Blvd. In the chic and sleek Classen Curve, your pick of Republic Gastropub proves that beer can, indeed, be fancy-pants. The beer list is massive (and impressive), but if you just can’t choose, go for one of the flights, which includes several selections to sample. And for dessert? Make it an ice cream beer float.
2. Seven47, 747 Asp, Norman
3. Skky Bar, 7 S. Mickey Mantle Worth mentioning: Ludivine, Purple Bar
Best new bar (that opened after May 1, 2010): THE GARAGE
307 E. Main Norman Voters kept it casual and picked The Garage as your favorite new spot to chill and throw back a few. The lowkey Norman bar turns out burgers and beer, with live music and games for a winning combination. Plus, where else but Chuck E. Cheese can you dominate at Skee-Ball?
2. Ludivine, 805 N. Hudson
3. The Office Drinks & Nosh, 5929 N. May Worth mentioning: Saints, West
Best place for a cheap date: OKLAHOMA CITY ZOO
2101 N.E. 50th If your debt ceiling is down to your ankles, you can still make his or her heart a-flutter for not a lot of paper with a date at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Who knows? Maybe seeing the zoo’s new baby elephant and bat-eared fox kits may unleash the beast in your partner afterward. Rawr!
2. Big Truck Tacos, 530 N.W. 23rd
3. Lake Hefner, 3301 N.W. Grand Worth mentioning: Bricktown, Louie’s Grill & Bar
Best art gallery: IAO GALLERY
706 W. Sheridan The “I” in “IAO” stands for “Individual,” and this is one gallery that always stands out. Now resting comfortably in its historic Film Row home, the brick base for all things arty hosts some incredible exhibitions of art in a variety of media, not to mention poetry readings, film and video screenings, and performance art.
2. DNA Galleries, 1705-B N.W. 16th
3. a.k.a. gallery, 3001 Paseo Worth mentioning: JRB Art at The Elms , Istvan Gallery
Best casino: RIVERWIND CASINO
1544 W. State Highway 9 Voters love to get their gamble on at this Chickasaw Nation-owned casino. The 219,000 square-foot oasis features more than 2,700 electronic games, 50-plus blackjack and poker tables, as well as a 100-room hotel and 1,500-seat theater.
2. FireLake Grand Casino, 777 Grand Casino, Shawnee
3. Remington Park Casino, 1 Remington Place Worth mentioning: WinStar World Casino, Lucky Star Casino
Best museum: OKLAHOMA CITY MUSEUM OF ART
415 Couch From films to furniture, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art has brought Oklahomans opportunities of enrichment since its incorporation in 1945. The museum always has daring exhibitions and classic collections. Taking pride in cinema, it offers screenings in independent, foreign films and the classics. A wide variety of art awaits adventure.
2. Sam Noble Museum of Natural History, 2401 Chautauqua, Norman
3. Science Museum Oklahoma, 2100 N.E. 52nd Worth mentioning: National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum , Museum of Osteology
Best charity event: OKLAHOMA CITY MEMORIAL MARATHON
To run for the community, for the family members and survivors of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing and for the Memorial — that is the purpose of this annual marathon. The run has raised more than $3 million in its 11 years. Thomas Hill and Chet Collier founded the race, which this year boasted nearly 25,000 runners and walkers from 49 states and six countries.
2. Race for the Cure
3. Mistletoe Market Worth mentioning: Relay for Life, Red Tie Night
Best local event or festival: FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS
A rite of spring for art and food enthusiasts alike, the downtown arts fest kicks off Oklahoma’s festival season. Artists, art-lovers and a delicious array of food fill downtown OKC. It doesn’t cost a thing, so who could ask for a better melting pot of culture? Rocking downtown for more than 40 years, the five-day festival is a beloved community event. Even when it rains.
2. Paseo Arts Festival
3. Norman Music Festival Worth mentioning: deadCENTER Film Festival, Medieval Fair of Norman
Best performing arts group: LYRIC THEATRE
All the world’s a stage, and you’ve chosen Lyric Theatre to be the director. This long-running theater company (founded in 1963) has staged everything from “A Chorus Line” (its last production of this summer’s season) to “A Christmas Carol” (coming this holiday). And the show continues at both the Civic Center and at Lyric at the Plaza. Get ready for “Xanadu” and “Spring Awakening” in 2012!
2. Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park
3. Oklahoma City Ballet Worth mentioning: Perpetual Motion Modern Dance, CityRep
Best family entertainment: OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
OKC has embraced the Thunder so much, it’s difficult to believe there was life before the team. When it comes to family fun time, voters love the thrill of the game: the deafening cheers, tense close-calls, Rumble’s antics and city pride.
2. Oklahoma City Zoo, 2101 N.E. 50th
3. Science Museum Oklahoma, 2100 N.E. 52nd Worth mentioning: Frontier City, HeyDay Entertainment Center
Best place to take out-of-towners: BRICKTOWN
Got a cousin who’s vegetarian? Or maybe you’re trying to impress the in-laws? Bricktown has something for everyone, and the urban setting is sure to impress. Cruise streets named for our most beloved Okies — Mickey Mantle, Wanda Jackson and The Flaming Lips — before you see the RedHawks or sit down for dinner!
2. Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, 620 N. Harvey
3. Pops, 660 W. Highway 66, Arcadia Worth mentioning: Oklahoma City Zoo, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Photos by Shannon Cornman, Mark Hancock and Lindsey Cooper