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Here we are. After receiving 184,000 votes for the top 3, we’ve finally reached the finish line. It’s time to honor the winners of the 152 categories and observe what can be learned from the results.
THE BASICS Lansing is home to more and more artisanal foods, from doughnuts sprinkled with Ecuadorian sugar and lady beetle wings (actually the elytra, or wing covers) to equatorial sirocco dried pizza to thermal vent barnacle cocktails, but this year’s results are a ringing re-affirmation: The basics, the staples, the no-nonsense pillars of Lansing cuisine still reign supreme, from DeLuca’s pizza to Quality Dairy doughnuts to the burger at Dagwood’s and the profoundly ecumenical deep fryer at East Side Fish Fry, where thick-cut, ranch-style pig skins are battered in chicken flour and “deep-fried to perfection,” as the menu proudly proclaims.
CONTINUED HOT STREAKS First off, the winner can’t be discussed without mentioning this contest’s perennial behemoth — Horrocks Farm Market.
Apparently it can do literally nothing wrong — it just wins, wins and wins some more. It receives by far the most votes and wins several categories every single year. Trying to sling produce, beer, meat or anything else? Take notes from Horrocks. Flat, Black & Circular, Elderly Instruments and Crunchy’s join Horrocks as having won in at least one category since Top of the Town’s inception. DeLuca’s, Jersey Giant and MSU Federal Credit Union continued their dynasties, but are still just one year short of being able to claim a total sweep of victories since 2007.
BROKEN UP/RECLAIMING THE THRONE After capturing a win in a music category for eight years straight, Root Doctor did not claim anything this year. Spiral took the Best Dance Bar title from Green Door last year, but Green Door has since snatched the honor back.
NEWCOMERS City Pulse added several new categories, which are too numerous to mention on this page (new categories will be marked on our expansive list of winners). Lansing is always changing and due to the multifaceted nature of any city, we inevitably missed out on a handful of potential categories. But with the new additions you should be able to find some fresh Top of the Town victors, which will hopefully lead to a new restaurant or even a new local band for you to check out.
CLOSE CALLS Crunchy’s beat The Avenue Café for Best Open Mic Night by a single vote, 226 to 225. The same thing happened with Gretchen Whitmer and Shri Thanedar, who are both seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, for Best Local/ State Politician: Whitmer won 436 to 435. MSU Professors of Jazz tied with Root Doctor for Best Jazz Musician (OK, neither is a musician, folks.) El Oasis lost Best Tacos to Pablo’s, 408 to 406. Those are just some of the tightest examples. Think your vote doesn’t matter? Think again.
NO CONTEST While some categories had a razor-thin margin, others were swept up in a landslide. Spiral Dance Bar had nearly 500 more votes than the second-place winner of Best Gay/Dance Bar. Meat doubled the votes of the next competitor for Best BBQ, and Golden Harvest did the same to win Best Breakfast. Some other winners with a runaway lead: MSU Dairy Store, Hawk Island, MSU Federal Credit Union, Horrocks and Lansing Brewery Co.
Well, without further kicking the analytics into the ground, let’s pore over the results. Hopefully you can use this gargantuan list to guide you to new experiences from Lansing’s best of the best. Or for the old locals, check out the winners and see if you believe our voters made the right choices.