BEST NEW BARS/CLUBS

  1. Muddy Waters
  2. Amsterdam Bar & Hall
  3. Marvel Bar
  4. Republic
  5. The Lowry
  6. Pat's Tap
  7. Zen Box Izakaya
  8. Urban Bean
  9. Bull Run Coffee Bar
  10. Crooked Pint

Unlike its original, absolutely-no-frills incarnation that stood at 24th & Lyndale for 20 years, the new Muddy Waters at Lake & Lyndale is now a destination bar and cafe reminiscent of a cozy, candlelit Dutch bistro with industrial edges and a catwalk-length bar. Here you can feel just as comfortable sipping on a malted mocha and nibbling on a maple bacon pudding pastry (by new pastry chef Sarah Botcher) as you can glugging a Steel Toe Dissent while exchanging heavy metal trivia with the bartender. Add Scott Hurlbut's culinary brawn to the mix, and you have the perfect storm of down-to-earth awesomeness that is perfect for any conceivable occasion. --Kat Kluegel

Best New Restaurants

  1. The Bachelor Farmer
  2. Muddy Waters
  3. Tilia
  4. Masu Sushi & Robata
  5. Zen Box Izakaya
  6. The Lowry
  7. Mill Valley Kitchen
  8. Rye Delicatessen
  9. Amsterdam Bar & Hall
  10. Mojo Monkey Donuts

Although the euro-bistro sensuality of Muddy Waters earned it a close second on our reader's list, the Bachelor Farmer wins No. 1 for charming our restaurant pants off with its meticulously executed yet humble smorgasbord of Nordic delights. Thank you, Dayton brothers, for allowing Paul Berglund to provide a modern and sincere homage to Midwestern and Scandinavian traditions in the way of lush rabbit pâté, sparkling pickles, tart lingonberries and flippingly fresh fish. Don't be fooled by its pastel-lettered moniker and blue gingham; TBF inhabits an important historic place (literally and figuratively). Its loveliness stems from a true-to-the-land sensibility and almost self-effacingly refined craftsmanship. Much like my imaginary Norwegian boyfriend. --Kat Kluegel

BEST ALBUMS

  1. Bon Iver, "Bon Iver"
  2. Radiohead, "The King of Limbs"
  3. Adele, "21"
  4. Fleet Foxes, "Helplessness Blues"
  5. The Decemberists, "The King Is Dead"
  6. Doomtree, "No Kings"
  7. Iron & Wine, "Kiss Each Other Clean"
  8. the 4onthefloor, "4x4"
  9. PJ Harvey, "Let England Shake"
  10. TV on the Radio, "Nine Types of Light"
Highlighted by a lofty 9.5 score from indie kingmaker Pitchfork, the cultural shockwaves set off by Bon Iver's eponymous sophomore LP came as a mild surprise. The real WTF moment came on Nov. 30 when it was announced that Eau Claire, Wis., resident Justin Vernon was nominated for four Grammys. Fellow nominees Bruno Mars and Katy Perry -- not unlike the rest of us -- never saw that coming. So, does the album validate the hubbub? It depends on whom you ask. For some, "Bon Iver" is an expertly crafted masterpiece, an art-folk gem that interlaces textural depth with moments of crystalline beauty. For others, it's a drippy and bloated Bruce Hornsby rehash. --Jay Boller

 

BEST SONGS

  1. M83, "Midnight City"
  2. Bon Iver, "Holocene"
  3. Bon Iver, "Calgary"
  4. TV on the Radio, "Will Do"
  5. The Black Keys, "Lonely Boy"
  6. Gotye, "Somebody That I Used to Know"
  7. Doomtree, "No Way"
  8. Radiohead, "Lotus Flower"
  9. Tune-Yards, "Gangsta"
  10. Adele, "Someone Like You"

In case you didn't get the memo, the '80s are cool again. Maybe not the haircuts, but those throwback, synthed-out pop tunes are, like, totally rad. In 2011, it was easy to get lost in the electro-pop shuffle, but with "Midnight City," the hit single off M83's ambitious double album "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming," Anthony Gonzalez and his mates have been lighting up the year-end lists. Its recognizably squeaky synths, laser-beam changes and climactic sax solo made this dance-floor paean a staple on local airwaves and saw the band playing to a sold-out crowd in November at First Avenue. Foster the who?  --Michael Rietmulder

BEST VIDEO GAMES

  1. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3"
  2. "L.A. Noire"
  3. "Batman: Arkham City"
  4. "Gears of War 3"
  5. "Dragon Age II"
  6. "Call of Duty: Black Ops"
  7. "Portal 2"
  8. "Star Wars: The Old Republic"
  9. "Uncharted 3"
  10. "Skyrim"

BEST TV SHOWS

  1. "Parks and Recreation"
  2. "Modern Family"
  3. "30 Rock"
  4. "The Daily Show"
  5. "Game of Thrones"
  6. "Dexter"
  7. "Breaking Bad"
  8. "Portlandia"
  9. "The Office"
  10. "Archer"

BIGGEST HEADLINES OF 2011

  1. Assassination of Osama bin Laden
  2. Japan earthquake and tsunami
  3. Occupy
  4. Penn State scandal
  5. The Royal Wedding
  6. Wikileaks
  7. Arab Spring
  8. Vikings stadium
  9. GOP presidential nominees
  10. Minnesota government shutdown

BEST MOVIES

  1. "Bridesmaids"
  2. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
  3. "Moneyball"
  4. "Drive"
  5. "Super 8"
  6. "50/50"
  7. "Source Code"
  8. "The Tree of Life"
  9. "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
  10. "The Muppets"

WORST MOVIES

  1. "Jack and Jill"
  2. "Green Lantern"
  3. "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"
  4. "Twilight: Breaking Dawn"
  5. "The Hangover 2"
  6. "Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon"
  7. "Cowboys and Aliens"
  8. "Red Riding Hood"
  9. "Thor"
  10. "Sucker Punch"

USER COMMENTS

"Bridesmaids" was horrific. Hard to believe that many people found it funny at all. but then nothing is as subjective as comedy. Witness the popularity of "The Hangover" garbage. --BADJUGGLER

"Bridesmaids" was horrific? No, "Sex and the City 2" set the bar for horrific. "Bridesmaids" was touching and funny, a perfect female romp in the style of the equally funny "Hangover." --MOEDING

I'm actually excited that Adam Sandler has entered the "playing multiple characters in a movie" stage of his career ["Jack and Jill"]. I think we're about two years away from the "caught having sex in a car with a transvestite prostitute" stage, which will also be fun. --EVB