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We Las Vegans sure love us some superlatives — biggest, baddest, brightest, brashest. There’s not an adjective out there we won’t stamp an -est suffix on and then plaster onto a marquee or stir into an overheated press release. Maybe this yen for overstatement is baked into our civic DNA, a shared tribal memory of the unique brand of requisite crazy those pioneering entrepreneurs had in order to start seeding luxury resorts on a stretch of nowhere desert highway. Who knows? The unfortunate catch is that most of our gasping bests are cooked up in cubicles by PR folk and pitchmen — wonderful people, sure, but wouldn’t you rather get, say, a real restaurant recommendation from  hardcore eaters with their boots (and forks and knives) on the ground?

That’s a roundabout way of introducing our third annual Best of the City issue. Who are we to know what’s best? I’m glad you asked. We’re finicky foodies who know where to get the most flavor for our hard-earned buck; we’re functional shopaholics with a sixth sense for quality and value; we’re explorers who hike out of the valley for adventure and solitude — and then dive into strip malls for mom-and-pop shops with unique offerings. Your guide to the city’s best in dining, shopping, outdoors and more begins on page 55. Oh, and this time around, we conscripted a bonus panel of experts as well, known for their passion for discovering and celebrating culture and commerce in the Las Vegas Valley: you. See select results of our Best of the City online readers’ poll on page 65. You’ll want to keep this issue handy; there’s a lot of eating, drinking and shopping to be done.

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But this issue is a keeper for other reasons as well — for instance, as a scorecard for the Nevada Legislature, which goes into its 77th regular session Feb. 4. On page 34, Review-Journal political columnist Steve Sebelius proposes 10 laws the Legislature should pass — for the sake of sanity, fairness and common sense. (And, for the sake of balance, he offers up four bad laws on the books we should yank.)

Finally, of course, February is that wobbly-kneed month of chocolate, flowers and panting declarations: love! Whether you’re looking for a movie-worthy setting for popping the big question or a storybook spot for swapping I do’s, we’ve got you covered. Even better, your Vegas nuptials — fortified with glittering, jiggling Elvi or not — will put you firmly in the historic company of famous couples walking down the aisle (and, in many cases, walking it back a short time later in the clarifying light of sense and sobriety), from Michael Caine and Shakira Baksh (still together!) to Britney Spears and Jason Alexander (still don’t know who that guy is!). Check out the story on page 20.

If you missed out on our Best of the City readers’ poll, don’t fret. There’s still plenty of opportunity to upload all your brain’s opinions in our monthly reader survey at desertcompanion.com. Tell us what you think about the latest issue; pitch a story; school us on what we got right and if we got anything wrong. Plus, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win dinner on us.

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