Readers’ choice: Ann Zadeh
Critic’s choice: Ann Zadeh
Local musician Big Mike Richardson won the Best Cover/Tribute Band category so many consecutive times that by last year he asked for his name to be removed from future consideration. Ann Zadeh might be making the same request soon. Her easy accessibility, forthright responses to questions, passionate activism for District 9, and constant presence in the community make her a perennial winner, and she shows no signs of slowing down.
Readers’ choice: The Jerry Jonestown Massacre
Critic’s choice: Ahhforrealpodcast
Justin Derington takes his listeners on weekly chats about Texas culture, people, and music. Each episode features 30 minutes of conversations with rappers, country singers, chefs, and other interesting folks who are helped along by Derington’s prompting. His guests hail from Texas towns and cities of all sizes, and Derington has an interest in letting listeners know what life is like in rural areas as well as major urban cities like Fort Worth and Waco. The upbeat show is mostly kid-friendly and peppered with insights and tidbits from guests that might leave you thinking, “Ah, for real?”
Readers’ choice: Dale Hansen, Channel 8/WFAA
Critic’s choice: Mac Engel, Star-Telegram
The premier sportswriter from some newspaper whose name escapes me is often maligned as a homer, hater, and everything in between. Engel cuts to the bone with hot takes and possesses the industry credibility to say anything he desires while staying employed. His social media posts often receive more comments than likes, a sign he truly rubs people wrong in all the right ways. Nary a print journalist in North Texas is as connected as he is when it comes to inside information for college or pro sports. Journalist layoffs pervade, but Mac survives the storm thanks to honest evaluations peppered with self-deprecating humor. Don’t read him unless you’re mature enough to have a sense of humor about your team and yourself as a sports fan. His non-journalistic productions are perhaps even better, including his daughter reading the hate mail he receives on camera and his own fearless attempts at NFL combine drills for viewers’ watching and mocking pleasure.
Readers’ choice: Sunshine Spaces, 12650 N Beach St, Ste 8, 979-324-9567
Critic’s choice: The Parenting Center, 2928 W 5th St, 817-332-6348
The Parenting Center’s mission to strengthen local families is critical. The West 7th-area clinic provides endless resources and houses the most qualified group of counselors in the city to serve clients at every income level. Whether your child has experienced life-changing trauma, or you’re just a concerned parent who could use a little help, the Parenting Center’s helpful staff is a phone call away.
Readers’ choice: Kelsey Hruska, Quarter Horse News
Critic’s choice: Deanna Boyd, former senior crime reporter for the Star-Telegram
Covering crime is probably the hardest beat a journalist can work. For murder cases, the police are often tight-lipped, acquaintances of the victims may understandably not be in a talkative mood, and the subject matter can be downright disturbing. Deanna Boyd joined the Star-Telegram in 1995 and worked her way up to senior crime reporter. She recently announced her retirement from our city’s daily paper. She will be missed. “I write about some horrible things,” reads her online bio. “A sense of humor (albeit twisted) is my therapy.” In between raising three children and shining a light on complicated crimes, Boyd somehow finds time to churn out a riveting monthly true crime podcast series called Out of the Cold. Fort Worth needs strong reporters like Boyd, not just to help the relatives of victims find closure but to ensure that law enforcement officials remain accountable to the taxpaying citizens of Fort Worth.
Readers’ choice: Gordon Keith, KTTK/96.7-FM, The Ticket
Critic’s choice: John Rody, KFTW/97.5-FM, The Pirate
A member of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, John Rody is all about giving love to Fort Worth artists. Many of them drop their CDs into a “booty box” at Avoca Coffee, and Rody plays cuts on the air. In 2013, Rody and his wife, Sallie Rody, launched their nonprofit station, 97.5 The Pirate. They spin local music exclusively, recruiting local musicians and others to host their own shows in the studio. The couple replays twice daily the Fort Worth Weekly Toast & Jam video series.
Local Political Development
Critic’s choice: Tarrant County turning purple
Nothing to do with TCU. The big political story of the past 12 months is the November 2018 midterms that saw Beto O’Rourke narrowly outpoll Ted Cruz countywide. Additionally, Democrats picked up seats in urban South Tarrant. Whether you’re a red or a blue, surely there is good news in the 35-year-old political stranglehold being broken. When politicians have to fight for their right to represent us, surely we are all better served by the democratic process and its results.
Coolest Local Celebrity
Readers’ choice: Tony Green, host of Hello, I’m Tony Green
Critic’s choice: Now that we’ve changed this category from “Hottest” to “Coolest,” maybe there won’t be as much creepiness in our blurbs, though we are totally gaga over this year’s winner. As the host of his own YouTube talk show, larger than life man of the hour Tony Green is funny, sweet, and charming, and he’s a hoot to hang with. Continued success to him, because he’s a hard worker and deserves it.
Nonprofit Place to Adopt a Pet
Critic’s choice: Fort Worth Animal Care & Control, 4900 Martin St, 817-392-1234
With shelters over capacity, it’s always a good time to adopt or foster a critter from a regional shelter. The Fort Worth Animal Shelter is especially packed, making every freed-up kennel invaluable. If you or someone you know is looking to give a dog or cat a second chance, check out Fort Worth Animal Care & Control.
Place to Meet Locals
Readers’ choice: West Magnolia Avenue
Critic’s choice: The Boiled Owl Tavern, 909 W Magnolia Av, 817-920-9616
You won’t find adult-sized games, ladies’ night specials, or other attention-grabbing gimmicks at the Boiled Owl Tavern. The Near Southside pub has a loyal following of local barflies, and the staff seems content to focus on servicing that homegrown crowd. Simply put, the humble watering hole is community-driven and community-loved. Before and after gigs, local musicians hang their hats at the bar and order $2 wells as well as specialty cocktails. The bar’s craft beer offerings run surprisingly deep and include some of the stoutest stouts on the market. As for the service, longtime Weekly writer and frequent Boiled Owl beer slinger Steve Steward told us the bar offers the “best damn” customer service in town.
Readers’ choice: Amon G. Carter Stadium
Critic’s choice: The University Pub, 3019 S University Dr, 817-345-7633
There isn’t an abundance of parking, you can’t smoke a brisket, and a touch football game would be hard to contest. Still, The Pub is the best pre-game location around and the only bar actually on campus. If you buy a tailgating parking space or own a tricked-out RV, then your plans are already spoken and paid for. The on-campus bar is the best for the rest. Updates to the previously dingy dive include a windowed façade and purple-felted pool table. Operating hours are expanded to provide ample lubrication times when early games are scheduled. Five-dollar Long Island iced teas are featured on game days in addition to $3 mimosas for fancier folk. Catch a (Jäger)bomb for only a fiver every hour on the hour before or during games. If you don’t know what to pollute your system with, there’s a purple-and-white spinning prize wheel that will decide for you, filled with special shot names not appropriate for print publication.
Athlete (Almost) Worth His/Her Salary
Readers’ choice: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Critic’s choice: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
In a salary-capped league, rookies who produce while they’re still cheap are as good as gold. Swaggy L has been an assist machine since he joined the Mavs following a draft-day trade from Atlanta. The native of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and NBA rookie of the year was expected to be a slick passer, but his outside shooting has been better than hoped, and he has cut short the team’s rebuilding process by years. Between him and Kristaps Porzingis, hoops fans can expect a Mavs team full of Euro flash and dazzle for the future.
Underrated Pro Athlete
Readers’ choice: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Critic’s choice: Arike Ogunbowale, Dallas Wings
During a putrid season for the local WNBA team, the rookie from Notre Dame was everything that the Wings could have wished for. Having previously distinguished herself with two dramatic game-winners during the 2018 NCAA women’s tournament, the WNBA’s fifth draft pick overall led the Wings in scoring with 19.1 points per game, many of them on heavily contested shots that would have been ill-advised from other players. Whether she wins the rookie of the year award or not, she gives the Wings a brighter future.
Readers’ choice: Jalen Reagor, TCU football
Critic’s choice: Alex Rybakov, TCU tennis
TCU is a tennis powerhouse. Alex Rybakov has been a central piece of their domination for the last four years. A first-team Big 12 singles player all four years of his college career, the now-graduated Rybakov finished his first year on campus as the conference freshman of the year and Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rookie of the year nationwide. Rybakov received All-American status from the ITA every year for the rest of his career. He finished as Big 12 co-player of the year and singles co-champion last season while anchoring his Frogs on their way to an Elite 8 finish and notched the single victory for TCU at first-line singles against the eventual national champion Texas Longhorns. Rybakov completed a deep run in the NCAA singles’ championship, reaching the Final Four before he was eliminated by the top-ranked player in the land. Rybakov’s finish is the best for a Frog player in the modern era of championships.
Sporting Event (Bargain)
Readers’ choice: Fort Worth Vaqueros
Critic’s choice: Lone Star Brahmas, NYTEX Sports Center, 8851 Ice House Dr, NRH, 817-520-3327
The season for the Lone Star Brahmas of the North American Hockey League is just gearing up, and there will be plenty of action on the ice. For the spectator, the 2,400-seat arena offers great sightlines no matter where you sit, and with prices ranging from $10 to $25, this is about as good a sports bargain as you’ll get in town. Yes, you have to head over to North Richland Hills, but it’s still in the 817, so it ain’t that far. The Brahmas are coming off a 31-21 season which saw them lose the division semifinals to the Shreveport Mudbugs. Who could resist heading out during a scalding Texas October evening to cool off with a Brahmas hockey game?
Sporting Event for Family
Readers’ choice: TCU football
Critic’s choice: UTA basketball
It’s certainly not cheap – none of the big sports are locally – but it sure is entertaining. In addition to watching the Mavericks slam-dunk and run the fast break, there’s good eats and lots of rah-rah activity to keep the kiddos engaged, and those tall drafts of Bud Light go down smooth. Plus, parking is a breeze, the sightlines are great, and the queues to the concessions are almost always short.
Sporting Event for Bachelors/Bachelorettes
Readers’ choice: Fort Worth Axe Factory, 220 S Sylvania Av, Unit 110, 682-499-6639
Critic’s choice: a 5K run
North Texas has no shortage of these races — Heroes for Hope, Red Ribbon, the Jingle Run, Rahr & Sons Oktoberfest, the list goes on. Someone who’s running in one is probably interested in getting in shape or staying there, and since the races are mostly for charitable causes, runners are probably interested in helping those in need as well. All that time on the course gives two people plenty of time for talking, and if anyone undesirable hits on you, you can always run away from them.
Critic’s choice: DFW Witchy Shit
As the name suggests, this is a group for lovers of anything “witchy,” from tarot cards and divination to herbalism and hoodoo. Members can find advice for expanding their practice, and events like the seasonal witchy gift exchange keep members’ magical inspiration flowing. The quick growth of this group over the past two years (along with their passion and enthusiasm in creating the Witchy Bazaar) is why DFW Witchy Shit deserves this win.
Use of Taxpayer Money
Critic’s choice: Panther Island
It’s what wasn’t used that’s the best. Even after Republican Congresswoman Kay Granger spent the past 10 years lobbying on behalf of the development project disguised as a “flood control” measure, the Trump-led federal government said, Nah, we’ll send our money elsewhere, leaving the possible boondoggle in limbo, where it probably belongs.
Critic’s choice: Near Southside, Inc., 1606 Mistletoe Blvd, 817-923-1649
This neighborhood revitalization nonprofit is dedicated to building the Near Southside’s commerce, walkability, and community engagement while keeping the area’s culture at the forefront. It’s a tough act to maintain the balance between bougie and funky, yet NSI designs both its programming and development directives to engage a wide and diverse segment of Fort Worth’s population, ensuring that the Near Southside retains its artsy character while attracting visitors from all over town.
Readers’ choice: Sara Pylant
Critic’s choice: Jason Hernandez
In December 2013, Hernandez was one of eight people in various federal prisons — most of whom were doing life without parole for nonviolent drug crimes — whose sentences were commuted by former President Barack Obama. Since his release in 2015, Hernandez has worked tirelessly for presidential and gubernatorial clemency for nonviolent drug offenders. Working on a Soros Open Society Fellowship with students and faculty of New York University and Texas A&M, he’s developed materials that prisoners can use to draw up their own clemency petitions and, in some cases, to write the petitions directly for those prisoners. He also speaks at colleges about harsh sentencing meted out for nonviolent drug crimes and the need for clemency appeals. We need good watchdogs in lots of places, and certainly one of those is the failed war on drugs.
Critic’s choice: Twin Points Beach, 10000 Ten Mile Bridge Rd
Take a short trek to Eagle Mountain Lake, and you’ll find Twin Points Beach, a man-made retreat, complete with picnic spots, shady trees, and (perhaps most importantly) public restrooms. Parking is $10 if you catch rays on a weekday. Otherwise, it’s $20. Alcohol isn’t permitted onsite, so plan your margaritas accordingly.
Readers’ choice: Shannon Osbakkan, the Bearded Lady and Fade to Black
Critic’s choice: Jonathan Morris, Fort Worth Barber Shop (3529 Lovell St, 817-731-5252) and the Lathery (200 Carroll St, Ste 170, 817-732-5252)
Jonathan Morris wants men to look their best and wants a haircut to be more than just another Saturday errand. Using that approach, he and his affable staff of barbers have made his shop a community unto itself for the past five years. With the Lathery, an establishment that offers top-quality unisex grooming products in addition to haircuts, he’s not only encouraging men to feel good about taking care of themselves, he’s further anchoring the Foundry District’s retail neighborhood aspirations.
Critic’s choice: Paulie Ayala, University Of Hard Knocks (7616 Camp Bowie W Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76116, 817-731-4665)
Paulie Ayala’s parents steered him toward boxing at an early age, after he punched out a school bully. Ayala wound up winning two world boxing titles, and his 1999 title win over Johnny Tapia remains one of the bantamweight division’s most epic brawls. Now retired from the pro ranks, he teaches the sweet science to local amateurs and implemented his Punching Out Parkinson’s training regimen designed to improve the physical and mental health of people battling the degenerative disease. A Fort Worth neurologist prescribes to his patients workouts at Ayala’s University of Hard Knocks gym on Camp Bowie West to help improve their coordination, confidence, and spirits. Ayala is still a world champ to them, and he’s a rock star to us.
Readers’ choice: Aaron Stevens, Ink817 Tattoo, 3204 Camp Bowie Blvd, 682-204-0696
Critic’s choice: Danny Tarron, TNT Tattoo Company, 5230 Denton Hwy, Ste 20, Haltom City, 817-849-9700
Nationally recognized as an artist at the top of his black-and-gray game, Danny recently opened his own studio in Haltom City. You get what you pay for with Danny’s perfectly imagined and realized artwork for life. While black-and-gray is his specialty, Danny also does a mean line in full color ink.