Wow! When we asked readers to vote online to choose the Best of 425, we received thousands of votes. It was great to see many new businesses make this year’s stellar Best of 425 list, as well as repeat winners that definitely should be proud of repeat recognition. Thank you for taking the time to vote, and congrats to everyone who won. The competition was fierce!

By Kara Patajo and Maria Leuzinger

Arts & Entertainment | Business & Services | Fashion & Retail | Food & Drink | Health & Wellness | Home & GardenSchools | Travel & Recreation | Weddings & Events | Citizen of the Year

Arts & Entertainment

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Chris Henderson

Art Gallery: Ryan James Fine Arts

Ryan James Fine Arts gallery is a contemporary gallery that features a roster of Washington-based artists working in abstract, modern, and conceptual art. Featured artists include well-known, as well as up-and-coming, local artists. Ryan James Fine Arts opened its new location in Kirkland Urban last month. Kirkland

Casino: Snoqualmie CasinoSnoqualmie

Live Theater: Village TheatreEverett and Issaquah

Festival: Bellevue Arts Festival, Bellevue

Museum: Bellevue Arts Museum Arts FairBellevue

Local Celebrity: Russell WilsonBellevue

Local Radio Personality: John Curley, Kiro Radio, Seattle

Local TV Personality:Brandi Kruse, Seattle

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Businesses & Services

The Best of 425 2021

Photo by Jeff Hobson

Office Space: WeWork

WeWork offers an innovative approach to the traditional workspace. The company’s leasable office spaces are great for startups, large corporate meetings, or individual computer time. Additionally, WeWork is a flexible real estate platform tailored to a company’s specific needs. Now more than ever, the company’s open office spaces are tailored for remote work, so employees don’t feel like they’re always stuck at home. Multiple locations

Small Business: Noreen SkincareBellevue

Medium Business: Arnold’s ApplianceBellevue

Bank: Mountain Pacific Bank, Multiple locations

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of BECU

Credit Union: BECUMultiple locations

Auto Repair: Jeff’s Auto Repair, Multiple locations

The Best of 425 2021

Photo by Chelsea Abril Photography

Florist: Fena Flowers

Founded in 1988, Fena Flowers is the Eastside’s top-notch florist. Each Fena Flowers arrangement is handcrafted, with freshness and quality guaranteed. Its staff creates original bouquets for any occasion, including birthdays, holidays, congratulations, well wishes, and more. Combined, its artists have more than 125 years of experience in creating original and personal floral arrangements. Kirkland

Doggy Day Care: Camp CharlieDuvall

Groomers: Der Pet HausBellevue

Apartment Community: The MeydenBellevue

Nonprofit: Overlake Medical Center Foundation

Most Eastsiders already know that Overlake Medical Center and Clinics provide high-quality, personalized care and a wide range of specialties. What they might not know, however, is that The Overlake Medical Center Foundation works behind the scenes to support Overlake’s programs to ensure it meets the health needs of the Eastside community. Bellevue

The Best of 425 2021

Photo by Toni Pinto

Auto Dealer: Lee Johnson Auto FamilyMultiple locations

Marina: Kirkland Homeport MarinaKirkland

Retirement Community: Aegis LivingMultiple locations

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Aegis Living via Facebook

Law Firm: Helsell FettermanSeattle

Attorney: Laura Hoexter, Helsell FettermanSeattle

Real Estate Agent/Realtor: Kamran Mostofi, Jenna Kamran PropertiesBellevue

Insurance: Sarah Steblay, Alliant Insurance ServicesMultiple locations

City: Bellevue

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of the City of Bellevue via Facebook

Mortgage Lender: Doug Perry, Wallick & VolkBellevue

Cannabis Shop: The Novel TreeBellevue and Bremerton

The Best of 425 2021

Photo by Keith Caffery

Veterinarian: Judy Hung — Eastside Veterinary AssociatesRenton and Kirkland

Tattoo Artist: Skin and Soul Tattoo & PiercingBellevue

Established in 2010, Skin and Soul is a full-service tattoo and piercing shop filled with experienced artists who are ready and able to help customers create custom designs. Its retail shop also offers eclectic body jewelry, vintage clothing, and home decor. Whether you’re a first-timer or seasoned ink enthusiast, Skin and Soul is committed to providing its customers with a comfortable, personalized experience and quality artwork. Bellevue

The Best of 425 2021

Photo by Aaron Hafemeister

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Fashion & Retail

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Joe Bae

Hair Salon: Joe Bae Salon

The 13 stylists at Joe Bae Salon create a warm, friendly atmosphere and stay up to date on the newest hairstyle trends. The team’s expertise and enthusiasm provide customers with a unique and unforgettable boutique experience at the Old Bellevue-based salon. From coloring, cuts, extensions, or updos, the stylists at Joe Bae will leave you feeling refreshed and in love with your hair. Bellevue

Boutique: Marlowe BoutiqueBothell

Men’s Fashion: Seattle Thread CompanyKirkland

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Seattle Thread Company via Facebook

Jewelry: Alvin Goldfarb JewelerBellevue

Shoe Shop:Nordstrom, Multiple locations

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Food & Drink

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Lifted Taco

New Restaurant: Lifted Taco

As more of a taco eatery than a Mexican restaurant, Lifted Taco serves more than two dozen from-scratch taco options; you can even nosh on breakfast tacos (wink, wink). Lifted Taco challenges its customers to stretch their idea of taco fi llings to include unusual ingredients such as panko orange-glazed shrimp, citrus glazed beets, and barbecue bacon glazed meatloaf. And let’s not forget other menu favorites, like churro donuts, seasonal soup, and fresh salsa. Plus, guests will be able to enjoy meals on the patio this summer. Woodinville

Restaurant: Heritage Restaurant | BarWoodinville

Romantic Dinner: Ascend Prime Steak & SushiBellevue

Best Lunch: Just PokéMultiple locations

Food Truck: Mix Poke BarSeattle

Brunch: Salish Lodge & SpaSnoqualmie

Bartender: Joshua Moses, Central Bar + Restaurant

As a renowned mixologist with genuine hospitality, Joshua Moses specializes in serving drinks and experiences. “Everyone loves Joshua. His professional presentation, style, and bar knowledge calm you the moment you arrive at Central, knowing your guy Josh (has) got you covered as he slides your favorite cocktail across the bar just how you like it,” said Central Bar + Restaurant co-owner Joseph Brazen. For the past two years, Moses has been perfecting his craft at Central. “Whether I’m making a perfect Manhattan, or putting my own unique spin on a classic, I take absolute pride and joy in creating an exclusive intimate experience that both the patron and (I) can enjoy together,” Moses said. Bellevue

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Tom Leers

Happy Hour: WoodblockRedmond

Mexican: Cactus Southwest Kitchen + BarMultiple locations

Burger: Tipsy Cow Burger BarRedmond and Woodinville

Founded in 1982, The Goose Pub & Eatery is the place to escape from everyday life and enjoy a game of pool, darts, and even video games. Maybe the food will bring you through the doors, but the atmosphere will have you coming back. Bellevue

Sushi: Japonessa Sushi CocinaBellevue and Seattle

Coffee Company: Mercurys Coffee Co.

For 22 years, Mercurys Coffee Co. has been treating the Eastside to “outrageously good” organic coffee. Whether it is a signature White Chocolate Americano or an all-natural Lotus Energy Elixir, there is a drink (or two) for everyone. It all begins in the Bellevue flagship bakery and is made available at drive-thru locations across multiple cities, such as Sammamish and Bothell. Drinks and bakery items are handcrafted with quality ingredients, and baristas take pride in creating the best possible experiences. Multiple locations 

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Mercurys Coffee Co.

Japanese: Japonessa Sushi Cocina, Bellevue and Seattle

Pizza: Spark PizzaRedmond

Vegetarian:Araya’s PlaceBellevue and Seattle

Hole-in-the-Wall: Central TavernKirkland

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Novelty Hill-Januik Winery

Bakery: The French BakeryBellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond

Winery: Novelty Hill-Januik Winery, Woodinville

Brewery: Big Block BreweryRedmond and Samammish

Chinese: Facing EastBellevue

Thai: Bai Tong Thai RestaurantMultiple locations

Italian: Carmine’s, Bellevue

Dessert: Ascend Prime Steak & SushiBellevue

Fine Dining: John Howie SteakBellevue

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of John Howie Steak via Facebook

Best Donut: Top Pot DoughnutsMultiple locations 

Seafood: Seastar Restaurant & Raw BarBellevue

Distillery: Woodinville Whiskey Co., Woodinville

French: Le Grand Bistro AmericanKirkland

Outdoor Dining: Spark Pizza, Redmond

Grocery Store:Metropolitan Market, Variouslocations

Indian:Kanishka, Redmond

Vietnamese: Monsoon, Bellevue and Seattle

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Jeffrey Smith

Cocktail: Woodblock, Redmond

Ice Cream or Gelato: Molly Moon’s, Multiple locations

Chef: Breanna Beike, Heritage Restaurant | Bar

Midwestern native Chef Breanna Beike fell in love with cooking from a young age. Her major source of inspiration was Julia Child, who once said, “People who love to eat are always the best people.” Beike’s career in the kitchen began after high school and then spanned various Chicago hotels and clubs. After moving to Washington, Beike opened Heritage Restaurant | Bar in 2018. The na is derived from a family recipe box gifted to her from her mother that reads, “May you always cook with love and pride — keep the heritage.” Chef Beike runs her restaurant with a strong commitment to community and a passion for locally sourced fish and produce. Woodinville

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Jordan Swain Photography

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Health & Wellness

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Pro Club

Gym: PRO Club

PRO Club isn’t a typical gym, but a holistic health club dedicated to helping its clients accomplish their personal health goals. PRO Club offers a wide range of sports and exercise classes, medical services, spa and salon amenities, dining and catering, and auto detailing services. Additionally, its youth classes and camps are a great way to keep children motivated, active, and engaged. Bellevue, Redmond, and Seattle

Nurse: Karen Brooks, The Stern Center for AestheticsBellevue

Massage: Kelli McKeown, Vida Integrated HealthMultiple locations

Dermatologist: Dr. Sean Strother, Strother DermatologyKirkland

Lasik: Dr. Michael Gilbert, Northwest Vision InstituteMultiple locations

Doctor: Dr. David Stephens, David Stephens Plastic Surgery/AestheticsBellevue

Dentist: Dr. Brian Brooks,Bellevue

Naturopath: Dr. Michael Corsilles, Vida Integrated Health, Multiple locations

Hospital: Overlake Medical Center & Clinics, Bellevue

OB-GYN: Dr. Dionna Gallagher, Bellegrove OBGYN

Bellegrove OBGYN is a group of board-certified obstetricians and gynecologists. The group offers a wide range of services, from in-office surgery, annual exams, and contraception, to infertility treatments and laser hair removal. Gallagher joined the group in 2012 after receiving her medical degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine and working in a private practice in Colorado for several years. A mother of four herself, Gallagher said she enjoys taking care of women from their teens through menopause and especially enjoys being a part of pregnancies and births. Bellevue

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Bellegrove OBGYN

Physical Therapist: Dr. Vinh Chung, Vida Integrated HealthMultiple locations

Orthodontist: Bruner OrthodonticsDuvall and Redmond

Spa: Yuan SpaBellevue and Kirkland (coming soon)  

Mani/Pedi: The Spa, Pro Sports ClubMultiple locations

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Pro Club

Cosmetic Surgery: Dr. Fredric Stern, The Stern Center for Aesthetics, Bellevue

Personal Trainer: Maurice Agol, Pro Sports ClubMultiple locations

Chiropractor: Dr. Anita LeBlanc, Vida Integrated HealthMultiple locations

Assisted Living: Aegis LivingMultiple locations

Yoga Studio: Pineapple Life

Pineapple Life is a one-stop shop for all things wellness. In addition to yoga classes, Pineapple Life leads barre, HIIT, Pilates, and aerial yoga. Oh, and let’s not forget the in-house sauna to unwind in post-workout. On the way out, customers can take a stop into the Pineapple Life retail shop, which includes a wide range of yoga accessories, exercise attire, skincare products, nutrition supplements, and more. Can’t make it to a class? Pineapple Life offers a library of yoga and fitness classes online for an in-home experience. Snoqualmie

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Pineapple Life

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Home & Garden

The Best of 425 2021

Photo courtesy of Poppi Photography

Interior Designer: K. Peterson Design

Founder and designer Krissy Peterson of K. Peterson Design (KPD) believes in spaces that her clients are proud to call home. Founded in 2013, KPD is a full-service interior design firm that is known for producing architecturally driven, modern interiors. Blending the new and old with a warm, neutral, and textured color palette, KPD creates spaces with an emphasis on quality, craftsmanship, and a timeless finish that is perfectly suited for each client’s lifestyle. The company specializes in a turn-key experience for new-build construction, full-scale remodels, and full-room refurnishing projects on the Eastside and beyond. Bellevue

Condo: Bellevue Towers, Bellevue

Builder: MN Custom HomesBellevue

Architects: Gelotte Hommas Drivdahl Architecture, Bellevue

Landscaper: Green Spaces LandscapingRedmond

Kitchen and Bath Designer: Heiser Designs LLCBellevue

Remodeler: Urban RestorationBellevue

Nursery: Molbak’s Garden + HomeWoodinville

The Best of 425 2021

Photo by Cindy Tyler

Place to Buy Appliances: Arnold’s ApplianceBellevue

Place to Buy Furniture: Pottery BarnBellevue, Lynnwood, and Seattle

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The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Susan Wampler

Teacher: Isaac Pan, Eastside Christian School

Fourth-grade teacher Isaac Pan teaches with positivity, a community-oriented mindset, and the fundamental belief that every student can be successful in school. To keep his students engaged in the virtual classroom, Pan challenges them to jump rope competitions or transforms into Mr. Pan’s “evil twin.” As a graduate of the American Ethnic Studies department at the University of Washington, Pan discovered education as a tool to reconcile the injustices faced by racial minorities throughout American history. “If I can manage a classroom positively, with humor or with a smile, I’m going for it,” Pan said. “Just like our school, I want my classroom to have a loving community as well. Our classroom works together, plays together, and prays together.” Bellevue

College: University of WashingtonBothell, Seattle, and Tacoma

Public High School: Bellevue High SchoolBellevue

Public Middle School: Chinook Middle SchoolBellevue

Public Elementary School: Cherry Crest ElementaryBellevue

Private High School: The Bear Creek SchoolRedmond

Private Middle School: Eastside Christian SchoolBellevue

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Eastside Christian School

Private Elementary School:The Bear Creek SchoolRedmond

Preschool: Eastside Community School, Bellevue  

Daycare: Bright HorizonsMultiple locations 

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Travel & Recreation

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of The Golf Club at Newcastle

Golf Course: The Golf Club at Newcastle

Capping 350 expansive hilltop acres, The Golf Club at Newcastle features two championship-style courses, Coal Creek and China Creek, surrounded by stunning panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier, Lake Washington, and the Seattle skyline. The courses spark a challenge for all ability levels, given the undulations, bunkers, and elevation changes. Make yourself at home at the breathtaking 44,000-square-foot clubhouse, year-round practice facility, and multiple restaurants. Newcastle

NW Travel Destination: Lake ChelanLake Chelan

The Best of 425 2021

Lake Chelan. Courtesy of Benjamin Massello via Unsplash

Bowling: TechCity BowlKirkland

Hotel: Salish Lodge & Spa, Snoqualmie

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Weddings & Events

The Best of 425 2021

Courtesy of Salish Lodge & Spa

Wedding & Event Venue: Salish Lodge & Spa

Perched atop Snoqualmie Falls, the iconic Salish Lodge & Spa is a stunning location for any wedding or event. Plan an intimate ceremony just steps from the crest of the falls, or celebrate in the indoor-outdoor space. Toast with friends and family while admiring nature’s beauty. It’s not only the location that makes Salish Lodge & Spa special. The team at Salish will make any occasion even more memorable with customized menus featuring local, seasonal farm-to-table ingredients. The experienced event team understands the significance of once-in-a-lifetime events and will take care of all the details so you can spend more time making memories. Snoqualmie

Caterer: Barking Frog CateringWoodinville

Photographer: Mike Tabolsky PhotographyMaple Valley

The Best of 425 2021

Photo by Mike Tabolsky Photography

Bridal Shop: Bellevue BridalBellevue

Event Planner: Elite EventsSeattle

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The Best of 425 2021

All photos courtesy of Heather Jones

Meet the 425 Citizen of the Year


His nonprofit helps homeless families have happy holidays and more.

Story by Madison Miller

It’s been almost 26 years since the fateful night Mariners radio announcer Rick Rizzs and Mariners player Dave Henderson saw a TV news broadcast that stated Seattle’s homeless count was teetering at 8,316 men and women. Rizzs and Henderson immediately asked, “Where are the kids?”

This question gnawed at them, and they knew they wanted to do something.

Soon after, Rizzs rounded up the players, and together they raised $18,000 to buy Christmas presents for about 300 homeless children — an effort that later led to Toys for Kids (TFK).

Toys for Kids is based in Issaquah and gives toys, scholarships, back-to-school supplies, and more to homeless and disadvantaged kids and their families throughout the state. More than 14,000 are served every year. Rizzs is this year’s 425 Citizen of the Year for his dedication to and leadership of the program that brings kids hope and happiness.

The nonprofit brings him joy, too.

“We get to be Santa Claus for these kids,” he said. “I remember how excited I was when I was a kid to get a toy from Santa, and now we get to do that for these (families). And we’re going to keep doing it as long as we can. We can always do more. Help more. There are so many more kids; there’s so many more families that need help, that need hope. I’m glad we can be there for them and help however we can.”

Rizzs said that the first year barely scratched the surface in regard to how many kids and families are out there that are in need. That number has grown through the decades along with the nonprofit.

The Best of 425 2021

Over the course of the next few years, Rizzs and Henderson expanded and started a small auction selling autographed sports memorabilia. Each year brought in more money to help the kids, but Rizzs said they still wanted to do more. In 1999, Virgil Fassio, commissioner of the Seattle Mariners RBI Club, contacted Rizzs and Henderson, offering a partnership.

“It was amazing,” Rizzs said. “Seeing their faces light up, knowing that Santa showed up for them … it’s so rewarding.”

Toys for Kids has grown immensely since the start. In 2019, it worked with more than 30 homeless shelters and raised $700,000.

Though it began with delivering Christmas presents to homeless kids, TFK does more. In 2015, it launched its scholarship program. The program helps set high school seniors up for success with school supplies, laptops and/or tablets, and more.

TFK also helps the mothers and parents of homeless children. Each Christmas, while the children receive presents, the parents receive a $100 bill. TFK also treats mothers to a day of beauty, Rizzs said.

Throughout the years, Rizzs said it’s been an absolute joy to be a part of TFK, and he credits its ongoing success to all of its staff, partners, supporters, and volunteers.

Even with COVID-19 putting a halt to large gatherings, Rizzs said TFK celebrated a successful virtual auction that raised $300,000. Rizzs hopes TFK will be able to host its annual auction fundraiser in-person this year at the Bellevue Hyatt. Thousands of kids and families have benefitted from TFK over the past 26 years, and Rizzs is proud of that. However, he added that the homelessness problem continues to grow, and TFK can and will continue to help.

To learn more about TFK, visit here. 

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