Our 7th annual Best of the 405 survey is a reflection of what really stands out to our readers, but more than that, this annual opportunity to consider the metro's many high points helps us all appreciate the community where we live and the people who have helped make it thrive.
We’re delighted to share with you this summary of readers’ top picks for the highlights of life in OKC, Edmond, Norman and surroundings … and we added a few of our own Editors’ Choice selections, as well.
These are the places, people, taste sensations and overall examples of greatness that you (and we) love best about the 405. Enjoy!
Editors’ Choice Favorite Community Bridge Builder
To the list of rapper, actor, writer and entrepreneur, we would like to add that Jabee is one of our state’s most important connectors. Reading through the list of Jabee’s community-centered roles, it’s difficult to imagine when he finds time for making music. An overview: He’s a board member of the OKC Philharmonic and NE Oklahoma City Renaissance; was appointed to the Oklahoma City Arts Commission by then-Mayor Mick Cornett; is a legacy committee member for Clara Luper Sit-Ins, a position to which he was appointed by Luper’s daughter; a board member for Cut It Forward, a youth services organization for African American children in foster care; and Community Space Coordinator of newly renovated community space The Auditorium at The Douglass, located at Page Woodson.
Mayor David Holt’s Chief of Staff Steve Hill says of Jabee that, “You’d be hard pressed to find a more humble, hard-working person.
“Jabee brings a unique perspective to our city’s overall vision,” Hill says. “It’s one that I think is underutilized and often untapped. His work with the hip-hop community gives the city a perspective that people rarely see on municipal boards and committees, and Jabee’s ability to communicate in so many diverse contexts makes him the perfect person to bring different communities together.”
Editors’ Choice Favorite Community Advocate
Reading the biography of JoBeth Hamon, newly elected City Councilwoman for Ward 6, is an exercise in “So what have I done with my life?” Beginning in college at Oklahoma Baptist, where she started in community advocacy, through Chicago, where she worked with the homeless, back to Oklahoma City, where she works in mental health awareness and education, Hamon’s CV is a study in care for the marginalized. Oklahoma State Rep. Forrest Bennett (D-Oklahoma City) is a friend and fan of Hamon, and he speaks highly of her potential impact on our city.
“I think she bring a whole different conversation to City Council,” Bennett says. “She advocates for the people who are likely to get left behind when the conversation is only about development and expansion. The city has done great with that, and I think we’re going to continue to draw visitors and expansion, but the people in shadows of life need someone to advocate for them, too.”
Hamon made homelessness, mental health issues and even walkability central to her campaign – a bold move for a city council election – and she’s walked the talk since she was a teenager. Her time on the city council, and possibly beyond, should be good for the 405.
Readers’ Choice People
Infant Crisis Services
Jack And Ron
Ambassador That Makes You Proud To Be An Okie
Readers selected Denise Duong as Best Artist, and we’re happy to agree – her layered aesthetic is full of life and visual interest, whether it’s seen in gallery paintings, a giant Film Row collage … or on our front cover.
Editors’ Choice Favorite Dining Direction
For the record, barbacoa, pollo and chorizo are delicious. On the other hand, some people can’t eat meat, others choose not to and the rest of us could probably stand to consume a little less. That’s why we’re glad to see more local establishments offering some less-traditional alternatives: Portobellos and peppers at Hacienda, tofu scramble and chickpea fritters at Cultivar, Beyond Meat at Revolucion, nopales or sweet potatoes at Oso … OKC diners don’t have to sacrifice flavor for health, and even carnivores can skip carne asada once in a while.
Readers’ Choice Dining
Big Truck Tacos
Out-Of-Business Restaurant You Wish Would Come Back
Irma’s Burger Shack
Earls Rib Palace
Empire Slice House
The Loaded Bowl
Stella Modern Italian Cuisine
Ted’s Cafe Escondido
Ethnic Restaurant (Not Italian, Mexican Or Asian)
The Jones Assembly
The Jones Assembly
The O Bar
Place To Take Visiting Friends/Relatives
Editors’ Choice Favorite Versatile Chef
Rachel Cope, founder of 84 Hospitality Group, said she watched Chef Jeff Chanchaleune’s career develop for years before she partnered with him in Goro Ramen.
“He and my sister were friends in college, and he used to smuggle home bottles of (Sushi) Neko’s ginger dressing for us,” Cope says. “Watching him develop Kaiteki Ramen (his food truck), I realized he wasn’t just talented; he’s a hard worker. Trucks are hard.”
The chef-partner of Goro Ramen also developed the menu at Ponyboy, and the food is outstanding, especially the bologna sandwich. That a chef can excel at an Okie dish such as a fancy bologna sandwich, and deliver an entire menu of delicious ramen with equal skill, qualifies him to be our favorite versatile chef in the 405.
Editors’ Choice Favorite Transportation Trend
Call them a fad or a toy for overgrown kids if you must; the electric scooters are still awfully convenient (and fun) for zipping from A to B without having to park. Coupled with the new OKC Streetcar, they also seem part of a trend to allow more drivers to leave their cars at home now and then. And with a recent grant approval for developing a Bus Rapid Transit line from downtown to the NW Expressway, and formation of a Regional Transit Authority to bring faster, more complete public transportation to the metro overall – Edmond to Norman to Midwest City – the future seems brimming with possibilities outside the car.
Readers’ Choice Diversions
Art Gallery (Not Art Museum)
The Howell Gallery
Museum (Not Art Gallery)
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
deadCenter Film Festival
Performing Arts Venue
Civic Center Music Hall
Event Season Tickets (Nonsports)
Festival of the Arts
Red Tie Night
Live Music Venue
The Jones Assembly
Okc Thunder Basketball
Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
21c Museum Hotel
Editors’ Choice Favorite Offseason Decision
Paul George Stays in OKC
When the season ended, opinion seemed unanimous that PG would be joining his hometown Lakers over the summer. It didn’t quite happen that way. George decided to stay on the Thunder alongside fellow Cali transplant Russell Westbrook, and this year, he’s building an MVP case by racking up career highs in points, rebounds and assists while playing stellar defense. Meanwhile, Russ is yielding more of the spotlight but still averaging a third straight triple-double season – and we are loving this team-up of the titans.
Readers’ Choice Shopping
Luxury Auto Dealership
Bob Moore Cadillac
Mathis Brothers Furniture
Interior Design Company
Mister Robert Fine Furniture
Home Accessories Store
Henry Home Interiors
New Leaf Florist
Women’s Clothing Store
Men’s Clothing Store
Betsy King Shoes
Bad Granny’s Bazaar
Robert Stepp Md
Ashley Hancock Dds
Dr. Corbyn Rhodes
Dr. Tim Love
Medical Marijuana Dispensary
Tonya McLing of Bella Strada Salon
36 Studio West Salon
Nichols Hills Veterinary Clinic
Great Plains National Bank
Wealth Management Firm
Quail Creek Bank
Homes By Taber
Real Estate Firm
McAfee and Taft
Landscape Design Company
Editors’ Choice Favorite Retail Facelift
Nichols Hills Plaza
Change is a part of life, and especially of retail. While we’ll miss Pops and Provision Kitchen, it’s nice to have Osteria and the trifecta of En Croute, St. Mark’s Chop Room and Merret Champagne Bar in Nichols Hills Plaza, isn’t it? Long-loved metro names Naifeh Fine Jewelry and Balliets are working on moving in, too. Mamasita’s (and the office space across the patio that was formerly home to a little magazine called Nichols Hills News) is now gone, but if the larger replacement building is anything like the new home of Hopdoddy and Slapfish, it’ll bring more sleek new style to a shopping enclave that’s still a true pleasure to visit.