Seven years—a lot of learning and change can happen in that time. 2020 marks the seventh year of our Best Of NOCO survey and we have seen both happen frequently along the way.

When this survey debuted in 2014, we had just 50 categories. Over the years, some categories have come and gone. In 2014, we featured Best Fine Dining Restaurant. That year, the winner was Jay’s Bistro, followed by the Canyon Chop House and Sonny Lubick Steakhouse. In 2019, it was replaced by Best Chef, which has been secured by Jason Shaeffer of Chimney Park Restaurant for the past two years.

Each year, we have added new categories for a total of 201 in 2020. Occasionally a category drops off, especially when it does not have a sufficient number of competitors or not enough community votes. But it will make a reappearance as new businesses open and our region grows.

And each year, community participation has grown—and 2020 more than doubled both the number of voters and the number of votes. We were excited to see so many in our community reach out to promote their favorite Northern Colorado businesses. And with a worldwide pandemic decimating some of our small businesses, it has become so important for these pillars of our community to be recognized for all their hard work and determination.

A survey of this magnitude does two things: it showcases the vast number of businesses that make up Northern Colorado. But it also reiterates that we are still a small community of people who live and work together, and who knows their favorite neighborhood bartender by name, and who appreciates the special events that make Northern Colorado stand out in our state (we are looking at you, Bohemian Nights).

To continue our celebration of these local businesses, we have compiled a list of those who have won every year for the last seven years, those who received the most votes overall and a little bit of everything in between. Take a look…

No Seven Year Itch Here

These category winners have taken first place from 2014 to 2020. They proudly stand undefeated in their categories. Who will be unseated in 2021 and who will continue to reign supreme?

  • Nordy’s Bar-B-Que & Grill, Best Barbecue
  • Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, Best Margarita
  • Eye Center of Northern Colorado, Best Eye Care
  • Allura Skin, Laser & Wellness Clinic, Best Med Spa
  • She She Beauty Lounge, Best Nail Salon
  • Lawn Doctor of Fort Collins, Best Lawn Care Service
  • Allen Service, Best Plumbing Services
  • Mariana Butte, Best Golf Course
  • Mishawaka Amphitheatre, Best Live Music Venue
  • Bohemian Nights, Best Outdoor Event
  • Wilbur’s Total Beverage, Best Liquor Store
  • Burke Cleaners, Best Dry Cleaning Service

NOCO is Food Crazy

What are we most passionate about in Northern Colorado? It would appear that food ranks high, so high in fact, that our top, most-voted-for categories are all in the realm of food and drink. (Editor’s note: What could be more Colorado than #2? NOCO Proud right now!)

  1. Best Breakfast – 3,438 votes
  2. Best Brewery – 3,004 votes
  3. Best Pizza – 2,946 votes
  4. Best Breakfast Burrito – 2,766 votes
  5. Best Bakery – 2,746 votes
  6. Best Cinnamon Rolls – 2,701 votes
  7. Best Asian Dining – 2,693 votes
  8. Best Ice Cream – 2,659 votes
  9. Best Donuts – 2,647 votes
  10. Best Barbecue – 2,632 votes

However, we did have another category that inspired plenty of votes, and that was Health & Beauty. The three most-voted-for non-food categories were:

  1. Med Spa – 2,592 votes
  2. Hair Salon – 2,505 votes
  3. Waxing/Hair Removal – 1,383 votes

The People Have Spoken

Which businesses inspire the most votes? It would seem these, along with categories, are influenced by our stomachs, with one surprise in the mix. Here are the ten most-voted-for businesses, with number 1 taking the most votes overall.

10. Nothing Bundt Cakes, Best Cakes

9. Nordy’s Bar-B-Que & Grill, Best Barbecue

8. Allura Skin, Laser & Wellness Clinic, Best Med Spa

7. Lucile’s Creole Café, Best Cajun

6. Music City Hot Chicken, Best Fried Chicken

5. Krazy Karl’s Pizza, Best Pizza

4. Walrus Ice Cream, Best Ice Cream

3. Jim’s Wings, Best Chicken Wings

2. Silver Grill Cafe, Best Cinnamon Rolls

1. Gib’s New York Bagels, Best Bagels

Named By You

Each year, our Best Of NOCO survey features two parts. During April and May, we reach out to the community for their nominees in each category. The top five nominees appear on the voting ballot from July through September. However, voters have the opportunity to write-in another business or individual, if they so choose. If that individual or business gets 50 write-ins, their name or business will be added to the ballot for the remainder of the voting period.

This year, we had thousands of write-ins. Even some of our first-place winners were not on the original ballot but after several write-ins climbed to the number one spot. That’s what happened to Rocky Mountain Physical Therapy, who took the win in our Best Physical Therapy Practice category.

Those categories with the most write-ins were generally in categories where an individual was named, rather than a business. However, we did have some categories that prove that those who we deal with for our health, happiness and even for our stomachs, inspire us to champion our favorites with extra zeal. Here are the categories with the most write-ins.

  • Realtor – 232
  • Hair Salon – 175
  • Dental Practice – 167
  • Wait Staff & Service – 146
  • Chiropractor – 138
  • Full Service Bartender – 131
  • Massage Therapist – 128
  • Food Truck – 122 (We didn’t even know there were that many options!)

With 2020 put to bed, we are looking forward to our 2021 Best Of NOCO survey. We are reaching out to the community once again: if you have a category you feel should be added to our survey, send your suggestions to Nominations begin April 1, 2021.