In our Fifth Annual Best of Cincy Awards, many hometown favorites from the Reds to the Flying Pig Marathon, cookies to ice cream, and playgrounds to party spots, still top the list. But there are always lots of new reasons why we love Cincy.

As always, agree or disagree?
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Best signature cookie

Busken Bakery put Cincinnati on the cookie map with its bright yellow Smile cookies. Fans love them. Folks send them to Cincy ex-patriots, keeping the hometown connection strong. Yes, the yellow Smile cookies, green St. Patrick's cookies and orange striped Bengals cookies are carefully packaged and sent to college students, former colleagues and families around the globe. During high school graduation season, head to your nearest Busken Bakery for cookies with your school logo. The billboards are classic: Boo! You just have to smile when you see one. Busken Bakery, multiple locations.

Best Trendy Cool/Artsy Party

You don't have to wait for another appearance by Dan Deacon on the keyboard to jump into the spontaneous mosh pit at the Contemporary Arts Center. There's always something fabulous going on here. Coming up? Art Play with Creepy Crawlies and Gruff Rhys investigating beliefs of Welsh-speaking Native Americans still walking the Great Plains. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 East Sixth St., Cincinnati. 513-345-8400 or

Best Reason to Play Hooky

"Tell the boss you are sick," suggests the bright billboards for Reds weekday games on I-71. You can't help consider choosing the ballpark over your cubicle on a sunny day. OK, we didn't have the courage to call in sick, but it did offer a moment of possibility: An afternoon at the ballpark with Joey, a beer and a brat? Great American Ballpark on the riverfront.

Best Sushi Connection

It's cafeteria style with service. The folks at Fusian want to make you happy. You walk past the chefs (Chipotle style) to customize your roll and they make sure it's exactly what you want. Staff swings by the table to make sure you are happy and there are big waves when you leave. The price is more than reasonable and the rolls are big and fresh, fresh, fresh. 28 W. Fourth St., Cincinnati.(513) 421-7646 or

Best Place To Rock

Naked Karate Girls bring it every single Wednesday to Jefferson Hall. Disconnect your head from the tiny earbuds off the iPad or iPod and get rowdy in a crowd. Rock and roll demands it. Jefferson Hall, One Levee Way, Newport. 859-491-6200 or

Best Cleaners for Your Favorite Dress

Atlas Dry Cleaners in Newport, across from the Newport Levee, provides excellent care for your best stuff. Don't trust us, Yelp it! 328 Monmouth St., Newport.
(859) 261-9745.

Best Place to Try Something New

Considering how loud it can get in the small space of this tiny Over-the-Rhine hotspot, A Tavola still provides an intimate experience. The server's recommendations tempt you to try something new each time and you always end up pleased with whatever you get. 1220 Vine St., Cincinnati. (513) 246-0192 or

Best Welcome

Even during a weekend rush, the folks at Lavomatic make sure you know they are glad you came. Servers welcome you as the hostess guides you to your table. When the rooftop table proved too hot to the touch, the waiter gallantly covered it with a napkin. So nice. 1211 Vine St., Cincinnati. (513) 621-1999 or

Best Way to Share the Wealth

Making more of a good thing available is a great treat for diners. Dan Wright, building on the fabulous success of the one-of-a-kind Senate Restaurant, opened another eatery just around the corner. And the buzz about Abigail Street is gold. Abigail Street, 1214 Vine St., Cincinnati. (513) 421-4040 or

Best Top Shelf Service

Yes, we love the food, the high-backed booths, the steak that fills your mouth with exquisite juices of properly-aged angus beef. But we cannot fail to be impressed when a waiter offers a young woman his arm, with great flourish, to escort her, rather than just point in a direction with a "that-a-way" when asked directions. Or, when the waiter works patiently with your 84-year-old mom to make sure she gets exactly what she wants and how. Top service "” you'll find it at all the Jeff Ruby restaurants.
Multiple locations,

Best Straight Shooter

Jack Cassidy, Cincinnati Bell CEO, pulls no punches when asked about issues holding back the economy. He effortlessly quotes Socrates in his straightforward approach to a solution. To develop a real kick-butt workforce in the Tristate, we need everyone from businesses and schools and parents jumping into the fray. Look at Taft High School; this guy walks the talk.

Best Vibe in a Megachurch

Walk in the door at Crossroads and you are greeted with invitation to have a cup of coffee, offered directions and just a friendly hello. For those of us who have been in churches of all faiths in dozens of states and a couple of continents, this was the warmest welcome ever.
Crossroads, 3500 Madison Road, Oakley.
(513) 731-7400 or

Best Serve

The Western & Southern Tennis Open just keeps getting better and better. Great tennis stars and great competition keeps putting us center court year after year. 5460 Courseview Drive, Mason. (513) 398-2872 or

Best Barn Vibe

Cincy found it at the home of the award-winning UC Equestrian Team trained by Coach Missy Jo Hollingsworth, UC's "Coach of the Year." Enthusiastic competitors with a love of the beautiful beasts that carries them through all the work entailed in this sport. Saddle Lake Farm, 2369 Nelson Rd., Camp Springs. 859-635-3773 or

Best Gamble on Cincinnati

Horseshoe Casino GM Kevin Kline meets with Pendleton neighbors, opens the "front lawn" of the still-under-construction casino to the city for concerts and events and spends time with the powers-that-be to make sure the new venture is a real part of the city. He gets it: this is a vastly different market than New Orleans or Cleveland. 1000 Broadway, Cincinnati,

Best Ballpark Party

It's a bit pricey, but what a treat to enjoy a Reds game at Great American Ballpark on the party deck. The food is great and the beer is cold. 100 Joe Nuxhall Way. (513) 765-7000 or

Best Pickup Line

"I can be there today." It's music to your ears when you realize the dry cleaning just has to get done and your Widmer driver assures you that he can swing by today and grab the bag of shirts and suits from the front porch. Multiple locations. (513) 321-5100 or

Best Treasure Trust

Whether it's truly valuable jewelry or just a sentimental piece worth investing in for repair, the folks at Richter and Phillips will take great care. 202 E. Sixth St., Cincinnati. (800) 774-3672 or

Best Hanky Pank

We can't explain why they are so good at Maury's Tiny Cove "” the recipe is no secret. Pure westside. Maury's Tiny Cove, 3908 Harrison Ave., Cincinnati. (513) 662-2683.

Best Vanilla Cone

Family-owned for four generations, Putz's Creamy Whip hands over the best summer delight in a cone through that little counter window. Go for the Turtle Sundae or the chocolate with sprinkles if you must, everything is a treat. Machines from the 1950's are still whipping it up and leaving very little air, just flavor. Putz Place and West Fork Road, Westwood. (513) 681-8668 or

Best Way To Help

Floods, hurricanes, disasters and world hunger. You know Matthew 25 will be in there pitching in. They collect and sort donations and make sure that things get into the hands of those who need it most. 11060 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash. (513) 793-6256 or

Best Police Presence

Cops on Segways who stop to offer directions to out-of-towners looking for a Skyline downtown or those on horseback moving slowly down a city street. Protect and serve? They mean it.

Best Ushers

You can't beat the Music Hall ushers and staff for help getting to your seat in time for the symphony. When we called about tickets for a friend in a wheelchair, they helped choose the most accessible seats and sent an usher to wheel up the ramp when we arrived. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati. (513) 744-3344 or

Best for a Brew

Sometimes you just want a cold beer and quiet conversation with a friend. Crowley's Bar, an old-school Irish pub, fits the bill. Nothing fancy, but definitely satisfying. Crowley's Pub, 958 Pavilion St., Mount Adams. (513) 721-7709.

Best Way to Treat Workers

Gold Medal Products of Evendale provides great benefits, good working environment and, most importantly, popcorn every day! This family-owned concession equipment business has not had a single layoff in its 81 year history. 10700 Medallion Drive. (800) 543-0862 or

Best Beach Wannabe

Can't get away to the gulf right now and you need a bit of the beach to get through? We like Ludlow-Bromley Yacht Club, on the southern shores of the mighty Ohio. It's a barge floating on the river, fake palm trees, sundeck, sand volleyball court, live music, great food. As they love to say: whatever floats your boat. 860 Elm St., Ludlow, Ky. (859) 291-8132 or

Best Kiln Moment

The staff at The Rookwood makes a birthday dinner in the kiln simply amazing. They know the drinks, they know the menu, they know the way to make even a vegetarian with very specific tastes completely happy on the big day. 1077 Celestial St., Mount Adams. (513) 421-5555 or

Best Renaissance

Washington Park. Start to finish, it's simply incredible. And it was ready for the thousands of visitors brought to the Queen City by the World Choir Games. Music Hall's front yard never looked so good.

Best Place to Play

McDonald Commons Park in Madeira is one of the best playgrounds around. Believe us, it's got everything. The 17- acre park includes three baseball fields, three soccer fields, two tennis courts, playground equipment, a picnic shelter, a concession stand, batting cage, and wooded areas. Lace up your sneakers and go for it. Dawson Road, off Miami.

Best Way to Run

Wave the Porkopolis banner high! The annual Flying Pig Marathon is the best way to run in Cincinnati. From January through May, the entire running community is training for those 26.2 miles over bridges and up and down the hills on both sides of the Ohio River. On the big day, folks who live along the way start the party at daybreak. School bands play along the route and clubs offer water and shouts of encouragement to runners.