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Introduction

20-20

City Paper's Best of Baltimore 2004

Posted 9/22/2004

Twenty years of City Paper’s Best of Baltimore issue. Twenty years of scouring the city and wracking our brains for worthy candidates for Best Crab Cake, Best Rock Band, Best Mexican Restaurant, Best Bike Shop, Best Scandal, Best Gay Bar, and Best Tattoo Studio, and 20 years of arguing over who or what was going to actually take each title. Twenty years of late, late nights and fried brains and frayed nerves from trying to put together what is invariably the biggest issue of the year. (Heft this thing, then pick up last week’s issue, which we’re sure you kept handy. See what we mean?) Twenty years of angry phone calls and letters when we miss—or insult—someone’s favorite bar/band/being/brisket.

But also 20 years of stopping, taking a look at the city we live and work in each day, and taking time to take stock. Twenty years of giving the city we love some love, in our fashion.

This Best of Baltimore issue is much like the 20 that preceded it. (It’s the 20th anniversary of the first issue, but this will be the 21st one. Don’t worry, we’re a little confused, too.) We trot out our picks for the best in Baltimore Living, Goods and Services, Eats and Drinks, and Arts and Entertainment. You’ll notice a lot a familiar names in the winner’s bracket. You will also find the results of our Reader’s Poll—plenty of familiar names there, too. Our sole concession to the nice round figure of the occasion is a year-by-year survey of some Best of blurbs from the past 20 years, hand-picked because, for us, at least in hindsight, they say something about the past two decades in this town, and about Best of Baltimore, in all its opinionated glory.

And here’s to the next 20.

City Paper’s Best of Baltimore 2004 was written by Rebecca Alvania, John Barry, Ryan Boddy, J. Bowers, Tom Breihan, Violet Carberry, Scott Carlson, Tom Chalkley, Charles Cohen, Blake de Pastino, Anna Ditkoff, Edward Ericson Jr., Lee Gardner, Michelle Gienow, Richard Gorelick, Alex Harding, Tim Hill, Jaye Hunnie, Brennen Jensen, Laura Lewis, Joe MacLeod, Bret McCabe, David Morley, Benn Ray, Meghan Ashlin Rich, Christina Royster-Hemby, Christopher Skokna, Van Smith, Dug Sohn, Erin Sullivan, Lily Thayer, Jason Torres, Wendy Ward, Gabriel Wardell, Jill Yesko, and Josephine Yun. Elizabeth Fields and Michael Hilt provided invaluable research assistance; interns Gina Callahan, Sarah Estes, Sarah Haller, Kim Phelan, Scott Sell, and Matt Tandlmayer performed mighty labors, more or less for free. Jeoff Davis, Michelle Gienow, Sam Holden, Frank Klein, Uli Loskot, Christopher Myers, Michael Northrup, and Jefferson Jackson Steele took the photographs, Emily Flake illustrated the Baltimore Living essay, and M. Wartella rendered 43 for the cover.

If you happen to have a copy of the very first CP Best of Baltimore from 1984, please call Lee Gardner at (410) 523-2300, ext. 228. You might even get a reward.

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