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Best! Thing! Ever!

Whew! This marks the fifth annual Best of the City issue, and the third time we’ve run an online readers’ poll to put our finger on your vox populi as you turn your head and cough. You flooded us with your faves in food, shopping, arts and entertainment. And pizza. Especially pizza. Boy, do you guys have some strong opinions about pizza.

Reading the survey responses is nothing short of exhilarating. You know what it’s like? It’s like being in one of those game-show cash-grab booths, except instead of $100 bills, it’s filled with categorically representative survey tropes like slices of pizza, Blue Man performers, hot coffee, gym equipment and hunks of sandstone from Red Rock, all whirling around in a violent, pummeling cyclone of punishing enthusiasm. I’ll tell you, if that’s as close as I ever come to experiencing as a manifest physical incarnation the collective hive-mind of the Desert Companion readership, uh, yeah, I’d be totally fine with that.

But my favorite part  — my personal Best of the Best of the City, as it were — is the final bonus question, “The BEST! THING! EVER! in Las Vegas is ... ?” It’s the question where you tell us what you truly love in Las Vegas above all — what makes it home, what gets you up in the morning, what makes Vegas VEGAS! for you. It also serves as a reminder of what a motley bunch of Las Vegans you are. As I read the survey, one minute I think you’re largely a bunch of outdoorsy granola-munchers, the next I think the city comprises all-night club kids who live on pancakes and Red Bull, the next I’m introduced to a natural poet who rhapsodizes about “driving the 215 at night with the sea of lights from the valley.” You are not to be pigeonholed! However, if I had to come up with an overarching observation about you from reading the survey, there’s one thing I can say with complete confidence: You enjoy taking surveys.

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Let’s look at the results! Some of you took the occasion to give shouts-out to your favorite bands, foods, landmarks, lifestyle perks. Some of you gave some extra love to The Linq. One of you really likes the band Jeff Mix and The Songhearts. Also, props to Grouchy John’s! (And its misconstrued bizarro-world twin, Grumpy John’s!) Love to The Bunkhouse! The Pinball Hall of Fame! Channel 8’s Paula Francis! Due Forni! Blue Man Group! Made LV! The praying mantis at Container Park! The Smith Center! Cleveland Clinic! A mysterious entity named Squeezebox Hero! Discovery Children’s Museum! Bellagio Fountains! Desert Companion! Bronze Cafe! Patina Decor! First Friday! And in your own words: The great variety of food. It’s a 24-hour city. Anything at anytime! That you can find parking anywhere you go! The wide open space. The Amazing Places to Eat! LIVING IN SUMMERLIN!

Many of you took the opportunity to extol Southern Nevada’s natural treasures: Red Rock Canyon. View of the mountains on a clear day. Stunning. The weather. Outdoor trails. Our sunshine. Joël Robuchon’s 16-course menu at the MGM Grand. The sunsets. The desert. Being close to this much public land. The magnificent cloud formations. River Mountain Loop Trail.

Some of you took the question personally, choosing to throw some limelight on a loved one: Your mom! (Like, my your mom or your your mom?) My girl. ME. Me. Me! My life! My life. Gabriel Skerlich. My fiancée Kristin Kubala. Britney Spears overdosing in the future. It’s my home. My son. My dad. My husband!! (That’s with two exclamation points.) The beggars on every corner. Scott Dickensheets, obviously. My wife Lynn. My family.

But the most resonant answers touched upon the ineffable things that make Las Vegas such a great place to live. As I read them, they almost took on the inspiring force of an anthem, a crowdsourced populist poem. Sing:

The people. The real people. The natives. Living here. Your mom! Ziplining. Late-night pancakes. The people. Family. Nature! No income tax. Anything is possible vibe. Being around the world in 1 city. The people! Waking up here every day! Year-round hiking. 24/7 convenience. Freedom. THE SUNSHINE. Me! You. The beautiful mountains that surround it. Just living here is wonderful! Possibilities! My life! Your mom.

As a longtime journalist in Southern Nevada, native Las Vegan Andrew Kiraly has served as a reporter covering topics as diverse as health, sports, politics, the gaming industry and conservation. He joined Desert Companion in 2010, where he has helped steward the magazine to become a vibrant monthly publication that has won numerous honors for its journalism, photography and design, including several Maggie Awards.