Best of Kingston

As far as hangover cures go, your votes say Stooley’s serves up the best in Kingston.
As far as hangover cures go, your votes say Stooley’s serves up the best in Kingston.
Voted the best live music venue in Kingston, The Grad Club’s a perennial favourite for a rockin’ night out.
Voted the best live music venue in Kingston, The Grad Club’s a perennial favourite for a rockin’ night out.
Always a favourite, Bubba’s serves up dripping poutine and hot pizza to a late-night crowd almost every night of the week.
Always a favourite, Bubba’s serves up dripping poutine and hot pizza to a late-night crowd almost every night of the week.
With a delicious menu and decadent atmosphere, Woodenheads was a shoo-in for Kingston’s best pizza.
With a delicious menu and decadent atmosphere, Woodenheads was a shoo-in for Kingston’s best pizza.
With its laid-back atmosphere, art displays, warm drinks and mouth-watering desserts, the Sleepless Goat is the best place to go for coffee or tea.
With its laid-back atmosphere, art displays, warm drinks and mouth-watering desserts, the Sleepless Goat is the best place to go for coffee or tea.

Ever wondered where the best place to buy books in Kingston is? Have you ever mulled over the pros and cons of people-watching? Thought about what one word best encompasses Kingston?

With over 100 respondents in our 30 categories, the Journal’s Best of Kingston survey may hold the answers.

Whether you’re looking for a way to reminisce about your Queen’s experience or for ways to spice up your routine, read on and benefit from the choices below.

Best breakfast

1. Morrison’s

2. Windmills/Pan Chancho/The Sleepless Goat

3. Cora’s

This wasn’t the landslide we expected, so either students are going for healthier breakfast options or you were all out for milkshakes and pancakes instead of voting. Either way, these places serve a range of healthy and greasy, but always delicious, breakfasts and are well worth a weekend morning visit.

Best greasy spoon

1. Morrison’s

2. Stooley’s

3. Right Spot

Morrison’s is off to a strong lead, with two out of two categories under its greasy belt. Two years ago Morrison’s won this category handily, which goes to show you how little it has changed—and how much we relish the grease.

Best pizza

1. Woodenheads

2. Atomica

3. Pizza Pizza

Nothing seems to beat Woodenheads’ endless variety of thin-crust gourmet pizzas as it cleared its opponents four times over. As for Pizza Pizza, we can only urge you to head a little farther down Princess St. in the future.

Best place to find obscure cooking ingredients

1. Tara Natural Foods

2. Cooke’s Fine Foods/Asian Market

3. A&P

Tara blew its opponents out of the water and with its many boxes, barrels and deliciously healthy offerings, it’s hardly surprising. We do, however, think it’s interesting that you think A&P’s a great place to find obscure ingredients. It makes us wonder what you’re cooking.

Best place to drink

1. Tir Nan Og

2. QP/The Kingston Brewing Company

3. Toucan/The Brass

Known for its crowd-rousing karaoke, Tir Nan Og takes first place this year by just one vote. Showing up as strong seconds, QP offers a great, laidback atmosphere and the Brew Pub’s signature beers and ciders make it well worth the walk downtown.

Best place for a night out with friends

1. Alfie’s

2. The Kingston Brewing Company

3. Toucan

Queen’s own underground nightclub has become a hotspot to dance your mid-week blues away and raise a glass to the weekend. If you’re looking for a more sedate experience, a pub is always a favourite fallback destination.

Best place to go for coffee or tea

1. The Sleepless Goat

2. Starbucks

3. Coffee & Co.

Any place that serves its hot drinks in enormous bowl-like mugs and has an entire case of delicious and socially conscious desserts is a place deserving of a win. Followed up by what used to be the Johnson St. duo, you now have to go a little farther downtown for your Coffee & Co. treats. We recommend the apple-cinnamon muffins.

Best post-pub food

1. Bubba’s

2. Pita Grill/Pizza Pizza

3. Famous King/McDonald’s

No surprises here. Whether it’s pizza, poutine or fries you crave after a night on the sauce, Bubba’s is a one-stop miracle shop. At least, it is if the miracle you’re seeking involves hot, greasy food.

Best place to buy CDs

1. Sunrise

2. Indigo

3. Chumleighs/Brian’s Record Option

Although we got a lot of snarky “Who buys CDs anymore?” answers, we’re glad to see some of you still know your way around Kingston’s music stores.

Best place to find a hard-to-find book

1. Novel Idea

2. Indigo

3. Wayfarer Books

This is geeky, indie love at its best. Despite the corporate middle ground (although admittedly a Canadian corporation), this is a nice cross-section of Princess Street’s reader-friendly core.

Best live music venue

1. Grad Club

2. Ale House

3. Stages

The Grad Club took this one in a landslide of toe-tapping, head-bopping love. Even with Ale House and Stages riding on its coattails, it’s clear it’s at this intimate venue where you want to see your favourite band play. We’ll be there too, pint in hand.

Best art gallery

1. Agnes Etherington

2. Union

3. Chameleon Nation/Artel

The visual arts scene has had a booming year, thanks in no small part to these local delights.

Best place to window-shop

1. Minotaur

2. Heel Boy

3. Agent 99/Sterling

As a poor student, sometimes you have to get your decadent shop-till-you-drop feeling by drooling over window décor. These are all bright, creative choices and are definitely the cream of the Princess Street crop.

Best place to buy men’s clothing

1. Gap

2. Dover’s/American Apparel

3. Blueprint

Going with classic style and hipster fun, it seems the men on campus know where it’s at fashion-wise.

Best place to buy women’s clothing

1. Agent 99

2. American Apparel

3. Lululemon

With everything from fancy dresses to indie rockin’ colours and stretchy pants, Princess Street offers the ladies of Queen’s and Kingston a wide array of shops and styles. On the whole, voters seem to have chosen comfy clothes in bright colours as the real winners.

Best place to buy a gift for $30 or less

1. Minotaur

2. S&R

3. Modern Primitive

As a student, finding a reasonably priced gift is important if you also want to buy groceries that month. At $30 or less, these three establishments offer up unique and surprising gift options that won’t cut into your beer money, but still give you a little bang for your buck.

Best place to people-watch

1. Stauffer Library


3. The waterfront/Sleepless Goat

Perhaps the best way to procrastinate, people watching is a deliciously indulgent past time. Whether you’re avoiding studying in the library, pretending to read in the JDUC or sitting on a downtown patio, keeping tabs on the people around you is always entertaining.

Best place to study

1. Stauffer Library

2. Douglas Library

3. At home

Apparently, when push comes to shove, the library is where you get into your study zone—after you’ve closed Facebook, said “Hi” to everyone you know and finally found space somewhere to sit down.

Best skating rink

1. Market Square

2. Victoria Park

3. City Park

If Kingston winters are rife with one thing, it’s ice, and we’ve chosen to celebrate that ice—at least when it’s contained. That said, we very much agree with the respondent who said his or her favourite rink was Kingston sidewalks.

Best place to go for a run

1. The waterfront

2. Lemoine point

3. PEC/Ghetto

Once again, it turns out Queen’s students hearts lie on the shores of Lake Ontario—the waterfront took this category by a landslide. At the same time, we’re suitably impressed a few of you make the trek out to Lemoine Point to get your endorphin fix. Getting out to run is commendable in and of itself, especially in this winter’s weather, so if the Ghetto is where you get your jog on, that’s pretty decent too.

Best place to take your parents

1. Chez Piggy

2. Pan Chancho/Chien Noir

3. Windmills

Congratulations—you all have classy, classy parents. Or maybe this is the only time you can afford to eat at one of Kingston’s higher-priced dining establishments. Either way, some very refined choices.

Best place for a cheap date

1. Copper Penny

2. Mekong/Wok In/Sleepless Goat

3. Coffee & Co./Screening Room/Common Ground

Apparently a cheap date in Kingston is synonymous with comfort food and/or a hot beverage. For the record, this suits us just fine. That said, a combination of the Screening Room and the Sleepless Goat would be pretty killer, especially if it involved sharing dessert.

Best place to splurge on a date

1. Chien Noir

2. Casa Domenico/Tango

3. Woodenheads

Hello, delicious night out. Taking a date anywhere that requires pretty shoes and a glass of wine is a splurge in the style department and well worth a little extra cash. Can you take us with you?

Best place for a hangover cure

1. Stooley’s

2. Bed 3. Toucan/Morrison’s

Nothing like a cup of raw eggs or a beer-and-tomato-juice combo at Stooley’s to dissipate the throbbing between your eyes. But if all else fails, go with the tried, tested and true method of pulling the covers over your head and going back to sleep.

Best public washroom

1. JDUC/Gusto

2. Stauffer

3. Fanatics/Indigo

First place shouldn’t really be a tie; voters are either entirely unaware that this Hub mainstay closed last semester, or else you’re just really, really nostalgic for that faux-Tuscan finish. Either way, you’re also fans of gender-neutral washrooms, which is fantastic.

Best place to drown your sorrows

1. Toucan

2. QP

3. Ale House

The Toucan’s cozy and brooding atmosphere won out here.Those Guinness posters really are good drinking—and commiserating—buddies. After these results, it may be wise that the Toucan doesn’t serve pitchers. As for the QP, if you’re drowning in academics-related sorrows you’ll likely be in good company.

Best place to celebrate

1. QP

2. Ale House

3. Toucan

Who doesn’t want to celebrate their good news in a place where you can run into everyone from all your classes, plus the AMS? As for the Toucan, being the number-one place in town to drown your sorrows would probably dampen your celebrations.

Best place to escape

1. The waterfront

2. Wolfe Island

3. The Sleepless Goat

When you want to get away, you head to the shore. Can’t say we blame you—the lake’s positively picturesque, especially when the light’s right. It gives you a stellar view of Wolfe Island and—if you plan your escape route well—you can swing by the Goat for or a drink a piece of pie on your way home.

Number-one place you haven’t been yet but want to visit

1. Wolfe Island

2. Fort Henry

3. K-rock Centre

It was a close one, but the small island with the big heart won you over in the end. Head to Wolfe Island on a bike, if you can. The summer and fall are the best seasons to visit, and the ferry ride will warm your heart. As for Fort Henry, if you’re a Canadian history buff (and who in this city isn’t?) you’ll probably enjoy the uniforms and the cannons. The Kingston Economic Development Corporation will be very pleased with the third-place winner, although it has us a bit confounded.

Best word to describe Kingston

1. Home

2. Eclectic

3. Quaint

It has to be a good sign for town-gown relations that the word the most respondents feel best describes Kingston is “home.” Now, if only we could act like it, we would be set. “Eclectic” and “quaint” are both repeats and equally descriptive of a vibrant and multifaceted city.

—Compiled by Angela Hickman, Anna Mehler Paperny and Madison Bettle

Number-one place you haven’t been yet but want to visit: Wolfe Island

Kingston’s very own island getaway is just a ferry ride away. It’s clearly a place many of you are hoping to visit—and rightly so.

As the largest island in the famous 1000, Wolfe Island offers something for everyone from music lovers to bikers and hikers.

Brian MacDonald is a Wolfe Island realtor and lifetime resident. Before getting involved in the housing market, MacDonald operated a commercial dairy farm on the island.

“I took over the farm from my family,” he said.

MacDonald, ArtSci ’72, said one of the most attractive features of island life is its proximity to Princess Street.

“It’s just 20 minutes away from downtown Kingston,” he said, adding that many residents just like living on the water.

For students, the attraction to Wolfe Island likely has more to do with its indie flair. As the host of an annual music festival, literary festival and crime writers’ festival, as well as numerous galleries, the island’s an artsy oasis and a fine complement to Kingston’s arts scene.

If you’re feeling a little sportier, or just want an excuse to show off your mad cycling skills, Wolfe Island has three bike trails of varying degrees of difficulty.

After you’ve seen the sights and burned some calories, there’s nothing like a picnic on the beach. Park your bike in the handy rack provided and take a stroll through the Big Sandy Bay protected beach area.

And, as MacDonald points out, there’s no better way to cool off on a hot summer day than a free ferry ride.

Angela Hickman

Best place to people-watch: Stauffer Library

You may not go to the library intending to people-watch, but chances are you’ve glanced over the top of your book or laptop screen once or twice to see what’s going on across the table. People-watching is the ultimate spectator sport and this year Stauffer Library came out on top—everyone from the students in the study carrels to the helpful librarians are in on the game.

At some point or another over the course of the year, most students and faculty, not to mention Stauffer employees, traverse this library’s four floors, so there’s no shortage of interesting people to look out for. Nicola Sikkema, a library technician, said she likes watching the changes in seasonal fashions.

“I always notice the students who dress alike,” she said. “You can’t help but notice the number of styles they go through.”

Kevin Offord is one of Stauffer’s commissionaires. His job involves walking up and down the rows, making sure everyone’s behaving. He said he has noticed how often students forget their belongings in Stauffer—everything from laptops and iPods to backpacks often go unclaimed.

Offord says that the most memorable thing he has seen in Stauffer was the captivating performance put on by a group of graduating law students who wanted to leave a “lasting impression.” “One of them came running down the stairs dressed as a ghost,” Offord said. “The other four came running after him dressed as Ghostbusters. The whole thing happened in less than five minutes, and when it was over, everyone in Stauffer broke out in applause.” Afton Albach, ArtSci ’10, said she’s definitely a people-watcher, although she prefers the JDUC to Stauffer because there are more people around.

Albach said she doesn’t think people-watching is creepy.

“I think it’s probably pretty natural.”

Madison Bettle and Angela Hickman

Best place to window-shop: Minotaur

When you’re shopping on a budget, sometimes you have to get your fix from the store’s windows instead of its racks. Putting together artistic window displays is an important part of the experience Minotaur offers its customers.

Having an eye-catching window display sets them apart from the other stores on Princess Street, co-owner Michael White said.

“We’re one of very few retail stores who have an art director,” he said.

“We think of our window as a theatre set. …. We’re always trying to do something with some action to it.”

In the past, Minotaur’s windows have been home to a large-scale Monopoly game, a ferris wheel and a ghoulish, Holloween-themed Scrabble display.

White said one of the key elements to a well-designed window is to tell a story, not to sell a particular product.

“Being less focused on the product is not what they would teach you at a merchandising college,” he said with a laugh. “[But] we try to go easy on the merchandising.”

Although Minotaur tries to stay away from direct product placement, White said the windows generally stick to a game theme. For a lot of people, the name Minotaur doesn’t automatically mean board games, he said.

“The name of our store doesn’t always communicate what we do,” he said. “Most of our windows have been large-scale games … [which] we do because they’re iconic.”

So where do you window shop if you have the best display in town?

“We really like [jewellery store] Sterling in terms of their window design,” White said, adding that having pretty merchandise to display always helps.

Angela Hickman

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