Kendall County is just about the coolest place on earth.

We have such amazing natural beauty here, the people are wonderful and warm and friendly, and our little towns just drip with authentic “old-school” Texas charm and history. Beyond that, as there are few major employers in our county, the area is predominantly populated with lots of lots of family owned small businesses.  These businesses have also had just about the worst year ever.

These are our neighbors. Their kids play soccer with your kids. They’re on the PTO board with you. They’re sitting at the stoplight staring blankly ahead with you as they stress about revenue and lockdowns and COVID and all the rest of it.

And they need our support.

So it was good timing that our annual BEST OF contest fell to July because we had a great reason to celebrate our local small businesses.

Via EXPLORE’s website, we launched our voting on July 1 and the response was so big that it melted our servers within the first 15 minutes. We ultimately amassed over 80,000 votes for the businesses, and that makes me so proud to be able to have that many people focusing some love on our friends and neighbors locally. But sure enough, with a response so large, we were able to pull off one of the most successful BEST OF contests that has ever happened locally, and we’re so proud to be able to celebrate them in this special issue.

With sporadic lockdowns due to COVID, new regulations and occupancy concerns, and a world that has seemed to be a bad Twilight Zone movie of late…we hope that you really spend some time on this particular section of the magazine. If you commute to San Antonio for work and aren’t able to shop locally often, we get it. If you zoom down to The Rim for kid’s clothing needs, we understand that there are many options there. If you frequently visit some of our local franchise restaurants, we know that they make some pretty good food. However, with all of our examples, we hope that you can take this opportunity to take inventory of what is offered locally and perhaps adjust your shopping. Maybe you can grab that cup of coffee from Black Rifle Coffee Company instead of Starbucks. Maybe you can visit Dang Sassy or The Pearl Antler for your teen’s new jeans. Maybe you can hit up Little Gretel or The Cypress Grille for your family dinner. Maybe you could spend your money with local people that contribute to your local economy.

Enjoy the next few pages as we profile many of our winners and let you learn a little about the people that are responsible for some of the businesses that won in their respective categories. These people have poured their lives into their businesses and it is represented by the thousands of votes that they each amassed and their loyal followings. Lastly, may you find at least 3 businesses that you can pick to “give ‘em a shot” if you haven’t already, and not only enjoy their services, but do your part in supporting our local families during one of the weirdest years in history.

Best Bar
Cibolo Brewing Co.
Salvador Dobbs

Best Margarita
El Rio
Salvador Dobbs

Best Wedding Venue
Kendall Plantation
The Marquardt Ranch
Don Strange Ranch

Best Family Photographer
Chanda’s Photography
Linda Rukavina Photography
Snap Chic Photography

Best Orthodontist
Ferris Orthodontics
Boerne Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry
Dr Sprayberry

Best Italian Food
Bella Sera
The Creek Restaurant

Best Auto Care
Ritchie Automotive
WW Tire
Lester’s Automotive

Best Furniture Store
Boerne Farmhouse
Calamity Jane’s
Two Trick Pony

Best Bakery
Bear Moon
Snowflake Donuts

Best Florist
The Flower Shop
An Empty Vase
Blume Haus

Best Burger
Longhorn Cafe
Cibolo Creek Brewing Company
Dog & Pony Grill

Best Gift Shop
The Dienger

Best Park
Cibolo Nature Center
Joshua Springs Park and Preserve
Boerne City Lake Park

Best Fried Chicken
Raising Cane’s
Hungry Horse

Best Private School
Hill Country Montessori

Best Realtor
Dainelle Scott
Tiffany Gill
Brandi Quinn

Best Electrician
NH Electric
Ira Smoot
Winters Electric

Best Breakfast
Little Gretel
Bear Moon
Boerne Grill

Best Pizza
Z’s Wood Fired Pizza
Broken Stone
Inferno’s Wood Fired Pizza

Best Family Practice Physician
Boerne Family Medicine (Ben Stahl, MD)
Sports & Family Medicine of Boerne (Charles McCurley, MD)
Victor Vela, MD

Best Women’s Clothing
Dang Sassy
Ella Blue
Pearl Antler

Best Assisted Living Facility
Menger Springs/Morningside Senior Living
Franklin Park
Heritage Place

Best Breakfast Tacos
Mary’s Tacos
Boerne Taco House

Best Art Gallery
Carriage House
Gallery 195 of Boerne
Texas Treasures

Best Veterinary Clinic
Herbst Veterinary Clinic
Cibolo Creek Veterinary Hospital
Boerne Veterinary Clinic

Best Golf Course
Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort
Fair Oaks Country Club
Cordillera Ranch

Best Alternative Medicine
Annie’s Apothecary
Nature’s Presence
Fleur Botanicals

Best BBQ
Klein Smokehouse
Blackboard’s BBQ
Smokey Mo’s BBQ

Best Home Health Care
Visiting Angels
Texas Kids
Nurse Next Door

Best Kid’s Party Place
Ninja City
Cibolo Nature Center
Dog & Pony Grill

Best Dentist
Gardner Springs
Boerne Dental
Wade Hundley, DDS

Best Baby/Kid Clothing Store
Mommy 2 Be

Best Sandwich
The Dienger

Best Place to Enjoy Craft Beer
Cibolo Creek Brewing Company
The Dodging Duck
Tusculum Brewing Company

Best Community Event
Dickens on Main
Berges Fest
Boerne 0.5k

Best Coffee Shop
Black Rifle Coffee Co.
The Dienger
Bear Moon

Best Title Company
Kendall County Abstract
Guaranty Title
Legacy Mutual

Best Gym
Core Athletic Club
Planet Fitness

Best Antique Store
John’s Road Antiques
Sanctuary for the Vintage Soul
Corner Cartel

Best Non-Profit
Day 1 Bags
Hill Country Daily Bread
Kendall County Women’s Shelter

Best Gymnastics Center
Boerne Gymnastics
KO Cheer
Crossfire Gymnastics

Best Salon
Blush Hair & Beauty
Tres Bella Salon

Best Men’s Clothing
Billy’s Western Wear
Wheeler’s Western Outfitters & Boutique
Bechants Mens

Best Yoga Studio
Agave Wellness Studio
Yoga House
Aerial Yoga

Best Mexican Food
El Rio
Compadres Hill Country Cocina

Best Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt
Parker’s Ice Cream
Salty & Sweet
Kelani Yogurt

Best Chinese Food
China Bowl
Shang Hai Chinese
Lung Fung

Best Hotel
The Bevy Hotel
Ye Kendall Inn
Tapatio Springs

Best Light Lunch
The Dienger
Cypress Grille

Best Arborist
Burkett Arbor Care
Dream Image Tree & Landscape Service
ArborCare Consulting (Kevin Belter)

Best Landscape Company
Hill Country Scapes & Design
Maldonado Landscape
Panache Landscape and Design

Best Pet Store
Fetch & Friskers
Red Crest Pet Shop
Pet Barn

Best Optometrist
Johnson Eye Care
Boerne Vision Center
Vision Source Boerne

Best Digital Web Design
Cinch Local
Cibolo Creative
RL Agency

Best Full Service Jeweler
Morrell Jewelry
Boerne Jewelers
Chic Jewelers

Best Optical
Dietz-McLean Optical
Boerne Vision
Trinity Vision

Best Day Care
Lil Explorers School of Boerne
Apple Tree Day School
Mini Texans