March 23 2016 12:41 AM

Presented by City Pulse and Fox 47 News

“You’re the best … around! Nothing’s gonna ever keep you down.”

Those immortal words, of course, are from Joe Esposito’s theme from the original “The Karate Kid.” So what does it take to be the best … around?

Well, if you’re young Daniel-san, it takes some wise guidance from Mr. Miyagi and a smartly edited fighting montage set to the aforementioned Esposito tune.

Or, if you are the same Daniel-san, but in the 1987 Nintendo game based on the movie, it means punching and kicking your way through four levels of Cobra Kai fighters and other obstacles, stopping along the way to catch some flies with chopsticks and break blocks of ice.

So what does this have to do with the 2016 Top of the Town contest? Well, to achieve Top of the Town glory, Greater Lansing people/places/businesses must punch and kick their way through two levels of voting to emerge victorious. (I’m speaking metaphorically, of course. At least until we add a Best Local MMA Fighter category.)

So check out the categories and last year’s winners in this issue, then head over to and get started. If you’d prefer a paper mail-in ballot, contact Suzi Smith at (517) 999-6704 or (She's also your contact if you have problems voting online.)

Let me leave you with some more inspirational words from Esposito:

Try your best to win them all

And one day time will tell

When you're the one that's standing there

You'll reach the final bell!


Like previous years, the contest is broken up into two rounds. In the first round, which runs from now until April 12, you can write in your own choices or choose people/places/businesses that have already been submitted. We started the contest this year by automatically adding the Top Five from the 2015 contest. IMPORTANT: If the business you are nominating has more than one location, be sure to specify which location, such as “Cedar Street” or “West Lansing.” In categories like Best Bartender or Best Massage Therapist, be sure to list the person and the business he/she works for. On May 4, we whittle the list down to the top five in each category, and those five battle it out in a Final Five runoff contest until May 17. Nominees keep their votes from the first round. Winners are announced in the June 1 issue of City Pulse! And we’ll celebrate those winners at a Top of the Town Awards party on June 11 as part of the first-ever City Pulse River Rock Concert at Adado Riverfront Park. There are seven main categories and 122 subcategories. You must vote in at least 15 subcategories to have your votes count. You may spread your 15 votes through multiple main categories. You can only submit one entry per email address, so don’t hit that "finalize" button until you’ve voted in all the categories you wanted to. Winning a Top of the Town award means major bragging rights for locals, so be sure to support your top picks through both rounds.


• Cover Band

• Classical Musician

• Club DJ

• Folk Band/Artist

• Hip-Hop Group/Artist

• Jazz Musician

• Radio Station

• Rock Band/Artist

Turn it up to 11

Well, eight, actually. We’ve doubled the number of music categories, giving you more ways to recognize your favorite local musicians. We’ve split best original band into three categories: Best Folk Band/Artist, Best Rock Band/Artist, Best Hip-Hop Group/Artist. We’ve also added categories for Best Classical Musician and Best Jazz Musician.


• Accountant/CPA
• Auto Repair
• Bank/Credit Union
• Barber Shop
• Bicycle Shop
• Car Wash/Detailing
• Chiropractor
• Dance Studio
• Electrical
• Gym/Fitness Studio
• Heating/Cooling Co.
• Hotel/Bed & Breakfast
• Laundromat/Dry

• Lawyer/Law Firm
• Library Programming
• Maid Service
• Nail Salon
• Pet Care/Services
• Photographer
• Plumber
• Salon/Spa
• Tanning Salon
• Tattoo Parlor
• Vet Services
• Wedding Vendor
• Yoga Studio

Just a little off the top, please

We’ve shaved Best Barbershop off from Best Salon/Spa category so you can give some love to your favorite barber.


• Annual Event/ Festival
• Eye Candy (place)
• First Date Place
• Local Outing with Friends

• Local Theater Group
• Marijuana Dispensary
• Worst Eyesore (place)

I only have eyes for you

We want to know about your favorite eye candy, but we’re not talking about the dreamboat who works at your local coffee shop. We’re looking for the best (and worst) looking buildings and places in the Lansing area. Best Eye Candy/Worst Eyesore is based on our popular column highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly in Greater Lansing’s landscape. Do you have a favorite vintage storefront? Or is there an abandoned factory you hate driving by on your way to work? Vote for your favorite and least favorite buildings and places to look at in Greater Lansing.


• Audiologist/ Hearing
• Bartender
• CATA Bus Driver
• Local Advocate/ Activist
• Local Comedian
• Local FM/ AM Radio Personality
• Local TV News

• Massage Therapist
• Restaurant Wait Staff
• Seamstress/ Tailor
• Uber Driver
• Best Local/ State Politician
• Worst Local/State Politician

Roce to the botton

From bungled crisis responses to adulterous legislators to mysterious buyouts, the race for Worst Local/State Politician is wide open this year. On a more positive note, we’ve reinstated the Best Local/State Politician category, which was unintentionally left out of last year’s contest.


Do you Uber? We’re acknowledging the popular ride-sharing app with a brand new category, Best Uber Driver. Nominate the guy or gal who gets you home from the bar safely or gets you to the airport on time.


• Asian Buffet
• Bakery
• Breakfast
• Burger
• Chinese
• Cocktails
• Craft Beer Selection
• Dessert
• Diner
• Fish Fry
• Fries
• Greek

• Ice Cream Shop
• Italian
• Mediterranean
• Mexican
• New Restaurant
• Pizza
• Sandwich/Deli
• Seafood
• Steak
• Sushi
• Thai
• Upscale Dining
• Vegetarian/ Vegan/Gluten- Free Options

All you can eat

For this year’s contest, we’ve taken out the generic Best Asian Cuisine and added Best Chinese and Best Asian Buffet. We’re also giving restaurants a chance to spotlight their healthy offerings with a brand new Best Vegetarian/Vegan/Gluten-free Options category.


• Biggby
• Coffee Shop (non Biggby)
• Dance Bar
• For Students
• Gay/Lesbian Bar
• Happy Hour
• Karaoke
• Lansing-area Brewery
• Lansing-area Distillery

• Movie Theater
• Music Venue
• Open-Mic Night
• Patio
• Place to Take Kids
• Pub/Tavern
• Spartan Sports Hangout
• Sports Bar
• Vacation Spot in Michigan


You can’t swing a cat in this town without hitting a Biggby. Last year, we realized that the coffee B-hemoth was dominating the Best Coffee Shop category. In an attempt to give the little guys a chance, we spun the Biggbys off into their own category. Now you can vote for your favorite Biggby location, as well as your favorite non-Biggby java stop.


• Antique Shop
• Art Gallery
• Beer Selection
• Bookstore
• Butcher
• Candy Shop
• Consignment/Thrift Shop
• Convenience/Liquor Store
• Florist
• Gardening Center
• Gift Shop
• Indoor Grow Shop
• Jewelry Store

• Local Clothing Store
• Local Grocery Store
• Michigan Made Wine
• Michigan Products
• Musical Instruments Store
• Organic/Natural Market
• Pawn/Secondhand Shop
• Pet Store
• Produce/Farmers Market
• Record/CD Store
• Wine Shop