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Annual Readers' Poll

Coming in August 2010:

The 12th annual


Readers' Poll

Also see:
2006 Poll Results

2007 Poll Results

2008 Poll Results

THE 11th YEAR!





Family Dining
   Take a drive through the Village Shopping Center’s parking lot on a Saturday night during the busy summer visitor season and you’ll see dozens of happy families dining. They’ve discovered what many locals already know, which is that Pizza Factory is the BEST place for two generations or more to dine together.
   River View Restaurant grabbed second place. Runners-up are Sierra Subs, We Three Bakery, Sequoia Cider Mill, Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant, Gateway Restaurant, and Wuksachi Lodge.

Romantic Dining
   Obviously, the formula for achieving romance includes a deck over the Kaweah River with a friendly staff that knows just when to be discreet. The Gateway has the most alluring site in Three Rivers, according to poll participants year after year after year.
   In second place is Orange Blossom Junction, and runners-up are River View, Wuksachi, and Bearpaw High Sierra Camp.

Outdoor Dining
   Seems that the “deck over the Kaweah River” works not only for only-have-eyes-for-you couples (see “Romantic Dining”), but also for any combination of dining parties, because the Gateway is also a perennial winner in this category as well.
   River View took second place for their patio with, what else?, a river view. Runners-up are Sierra Subs (their patio is the only seat in the house), Anne Lang’s Emporium (two levels of decking on the river side or people watch out front along the highway), Serrano’s (patio dining at the busy Village plaza), We Three Bakery (patio dining under the old oak tree), and Sequoia Cider Mill (new deck out back away from the busy highway).

Budget Eats
   These are hard times and consumers are watching every dollar, so this category is as important as it is informative.
   So, readers say, the place where you get the most taste for your hard-earned money is Sierra Subs & Salads. This is the BEST choice considering their advertised weekly special that is always fresh, always delectable, but don’t forget their dozens of other menu items and several new additions, which includes build-your-own subs, grilled sandwiches, quesadillas and wraps, salads (including a Salad of the Day offering), soup, smoothies, and you-bake pizza.
P  izza Factory garnered second place for the BEST meal deal, and runners-up are River View and Super Taco (Woodlake).

Place to Go When Someone Else Pays
   When someone offers to pick up the tab, you should offer to drive… to where the weather is cool and the food is fantastic. That’s because Wuksachi Lodge, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is the place to take your more generous friends and family.
   Coming in second is Orange Blossom (on Highway 198 near the Exeter junction), and runners-up are Gateway, Sierra Subs, River View, and Vintage Press (Visalia).

Breakfast / Brunch
   We Three Bakery is the preferred restaurant year after year for the first and most important meal of the day. And you could eat there every day of the week and still not have sampled every type of omelet that’s on the menu. Other choices include the scrumptious chicken enchiladas with eggs, the popular tofu scramble, and so many more.
   Second place is Gateway for their Sunday brunch. Runner-up is Plantation Bed and Breakfast for Marie’s scrumptious creations that could, and did, fill a cookbook.

   Sierra Subs & Salads wins this meatless category. Under new ownership this year, Allison and Dane have added a weekly special that always includes a vegetarian option and there are plenty of vegetarian selections of the everyday menu, such as the new Vegetarian Bill grilled sandwich (avocado, fresh mozzarella, pesto, tomato, and onions on a bakery roll) and new Veggie Tom (avocado, goat cheese and herb spread, onions, spinach, and sun-dried tomato spread on a bakery roll), as well as old favorites such as the Potwisha Portabella and Mountain Mozzarella sandwiches, the Greek or Avocado Vegge D’Lite salads, or the Vegetarian Quesadilla.
    Anne Lang’s Emporium came in second for their veggie-friendly choices, such as the yummy cream cheese and olive sandwich on your choice of several types of bread, which can be eaten inside the deli, out on the river decks, or packed as a picnic-to-go. Serrano’s is a runner-up for their meatless efforts, which include beans made without lard, as are River View and Gateway for their vegetarian-friendly menu selections.

Mexican Food
   And speaking of Serrano’s, they still have the BEST Mexican food, readers say, even though there is lots of competition within a 35-mile radius or so. Serrano’s has won this category ever since they opened in Three Rivers at the Village Shopping Center, which has proved to be a prime location for the summer-tourist crowds.
   Second place is Super Taco (Woodlake); runners-up are Dora’s (Woodlake), El Charro (Woodlake), Sequoia Cider Mill, We Three, and Alejandro’s (Exeter).

   Since Pizza Factory grabbed the top Family Dining slot this year, it should be a given that they also win BEST Pizza, which they did… and usually do. Of course, Pizza Factory would win this category with dozens of pizza choices in several categories like Cheese, Specialty (Vegetarian, Hawaiian, Fiesta), Gourmet from Pesto and Sundried Tomatoes to All Meat with six meat toppings), and Chicken and Seafood.
   Second place goes to River View for their fresh-from-the-oven pies, as well as their Monday pizza special (eat it there and it’s half price!). Runner up is Sierra Subs for their Take-N-Bake Pizza menu (and if you have a coupon, you get a pizza and a DVD rental; now that’s a real meal deal!).

   Read some of the sandwich selections above under Vegetarian, add some meat, and now you’ve got the winner of the Sandwich category – Sierra Subs & Salads. This makes sense because sandwiches are their business, but they’ve got to be delicious to get a discerning readers’ vote.
   Coming in second is Anne Lang’s Emporium, where they have been making sandwiches for decades, so they know what goes best with bread. Runners-up are We Three and Gateway for their selections of cold and hot sandwiches and burgers.

   A salad a day will keep heart disease away. If abiding by this mantra, stop in at Sierra Subs & Salads, because since salads are in their name, then salads are their game. Chef, Caprese, Smoked Turkey, Chicken Bacon Ranch, Chicken Caesar, Chinese Chicken, Greek, Avocado, Veggie D’Lite, Tuna & Tomatoe, and Dilly Red Potato… ‘nuff said.
   Anne Lang’s Emporium took second place. Their potato salad is well known around town. Silver City Mountain Resort and Gateway are runners-up for their plates of greens.

   No matter how much you may try to resist, the sweet tooth always prevails. And when it does, head to Reimer’s Candies & Gifts, where just their name can make your mouth water.
   There are the handmade-on-site chocolates and other delectable sweets, as well as candy from around the world. If looking for something a little cooler, then fill up a freshly made waffle cone with a few scoops of handmade ice cream, such as Three Rivers Blackberry.
   Orange Blossom garnered second place. Runners-up are Anne Lang’s Emporium, Gateway, Sierra Subs cookies, and Village Market.

Baked goods
   It’s the only bakery in town, but We Three Bakery gets up early every morning to compete in this category. Their fresh breads and pastries are baked daily in their kitchen.
   Coming in second, readers vouch that it’s worth the curvy drive up the Mineral King Road to not only breathe the cool mountain air, but to sample a piece of homemade Silver City pie.

   Voters like Gateway’s all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on a sesame seed bun the BEST, or the variations thereof. And just because it’s a burger, doesn’t mean it has to be beef, so try the Gateway’s locally raised, low-fat Emu Burger for a change.
   Discerning diners also like the Sierra Burger quarter-pounder at Sierra Subs and the hot-off-the-grill selections at River View.

   Burgers are quick, easy, and oh-so popular, but for a different cut of beef, dine inside or riverside with such selections as steak and lobster (or scampi), filet mignon (or petite), New York (or “bear cut”), and top sirloin.
   Orange Blossom takes second place. Runners-up are Sequoia Cider Mill, River View, and Wuksachi.

   Whether heading out for a picnic, a quiet meal at home, or munching while driving, they pack it up BEST for you at Sierra Subs & Salads. Anne Lang’s Emporium, with their picnics for one or a dozen or more, came in second. Runners-up are Super Taco, Pizza Factory, Serrano’s, and Village Market.

   And speaking of Village Market takeout, their barbecue grill fires up on the weekends and the lines begin to form as the aroma proves irresistible. There aren’t too many other places these days where someone will stand over a hot fire during the summer in order to provide someone else with a meal, but River View, in second place, will do what it takes to provide the hot-off-the-grill menu items that are so popular.

   Anne Lang’s Emporium will serve it hot, then if you like it you can buy the beans or ask them to grind them for you, so the java can be enjoyed everyday at home as well. They also serve espresso and hot or iced mochas.
   We Three came in second, while the runner-up is down the hill at Visalia Coffee Company. But keep the travel mug in the car, because the scuttle is that a coffeehouse will soon be opening their doors in Three Rivers.

Ice Cream
   Quite popular in the summer months as the lines out the door at Reimer’s Ice Cream Shoppe will attest, the cool confection is BEST here. From banana splits to a sky-high waffle cone, the ice cream will cool and refresh even as it drips off your elbows.
   Anne Lang’s Emporium, in second place, serves up cones of the frozen stuff, but also from the fountain are shakes, malts, and sundaes.

   Whether planning a party at home or a wedding on the river, there are the folks who will provide an indispensable service for the perfect gathering: the food. Call Sierra Subs (first place), Anne Lang’s Emporium (second place), Maria Reimer, or Gateway.


Place to Buy Souvenirs

   It’s a belated farewell gift for Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs that they received first place in this category, as they have for every year that they were open. Several penciled-in sad faces accompanied the votes for this gift shop that closed last month.
   Three Rivers Drug and Reimer’s tied for second place. Runners-up are the Foothills Visitor Center at Ash Mountain, Wuksachi Lodge’s gift shop, Anne Lang’s Emporium, Heart’s Desire, and Lodgepole Market and Gift Shop.

Place to Buy Outdoor Gear
   During the initial years of the BEST of Kaweah Country’s readers’ poll, it was a hard case to make for a place to buy the stuff necessary to play outside. That was until Three Rivers Mercantile opened its automatic doors. Nowadays, the Mercantile usually has just what you need, but if it’s not in stock, they’ll get it her on the next delivery truck.
   Kaweah General Store and Boa’s Minnow Farm (Woodlake) came in second. The runners-up are all located well away from Three Rivers: REI, Sports Chalet, Big 5, and Sierra Sporting Goods.

Place to Buy Fishing Tackle

   Get hook, line, and sinker at Three Rivers Mercantile, as well as your rod, reel, and creel. Kaweah General Store and the Kaweah Marina are other places to shop, then it’s down the hill you go to Boa’s Minnow Farm or Sierra Sporting Goods.

Bargain Buy
   What would Three Rivers do without The Thingerie for a good deal? On the other hand, what would Three Rivers do without a place to donate their unwanted household goods and furnishings, clothing and footwear, and camping and outdoor gear?
   The Thingerie has been in the recycling business since before being green was cool. And since all profits benefit the Three Rivers Woman’s Club, the money is recycled, too, right back into the community.
   My Sister’s Closet takes second place. Three Rivers Mercantile and Woodlake Hardware are runners-up.

Handcrafted Goods
   Creekside Yarns not only provides the handcrafted goods, they also have the material for you to make your own handcrafted goods.
   Ja Nene Natural Body Products grabbed second place. Janene Lasswell creates skincare products for men, women, and children using all-natural ingredients; no chemicals, artificial colors, or animal testing allowed.
   Runners-up are Nadi’s Studio and the Redbud Festival.

Place to Buy Gifts
   Reimer’s Candies and Gifts is the place to go to buy a present. Choose from edible, practical, ornamental, sentimental, seasonal, and more. The place is world-famous and has been open in Three Rivers for 50 years; they know gifts… and chocolate!
   The now-just-a-memory Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs came in second. Runners-up are Heart’s Desire, Anne Lang’s Emporium, Foothills Visitor Center, and Nadi’s Studio.

Place to Buy Antiques
   This category proves to be the biggest upset of year. Rocky Hill Antiques, a collection of dealers doing business just east of Exeter on Spruce Road took the top spot this year for the first time. With dozens of dealers, there is a large and revolving selection of treasures.
   The vendors include Country Plumbing of Three Rivers (need a clawfoot bathtub?), as well as The Farmer’s Wife, Toad House Antiques, Charles Fishburn Antiques, Ye Olde Shoppe, Sandy’s Antiques & Collectibles, and Betty Vincent Antiques.
   Rosemary’s Remembrances in Three Rivers came in second, and The Antique Store in Lemon Cove and Barby’s in Three Rivers are runners-up.

Place to Buy T-shirts
   Three Rivers Drug & Gifts provides an indispensible community service with its local pharmacy, but it’s also a fun place to shop for souvenirs, gifts, and an ever-changing variety of T-shirts for young and old. Show your hometown pride by investing in a variety of Three Rivers T-shirts or steer tourists toward Three Rivers Drug or the following outlets so they may take a piece of Kaweah Country home.
   In second place is Three Rivers Market for their constant selection of souvenir tees. Runners up are Silver City Mountain Resort, Nadi’s Studio, Wuksachi Gift Shop, and Mineral King Preservation Society.


Hotel / Motel
   Maybe it’s the long, hot summer that is making folks dream about sleeping in the mountains that gave Wuksachi Lodge the edge in this category. Whatever it was, they pulled out in front in this category over all the Three Rivers rooms.
   Wuksachi offers luxury lodging in Sequoia National Park with newly redecorated rooms. It is open year-round and located within minutes of the park’s prime visitor attractions.
   Lazy J Ranch Motel came in second in this race. Runners up are Rio Sierra, Comfort Inn & Suites, Buckeye Tree Lodge, Sequoia Village Inn, Gateway Lodge, and St. Anthony Retreat.

Bed and Breakfast
   There was a battle this year between three of the area’s many bed-and-breakfast offerings.
   Three Rivers Bed & Breakfast landed the knockout punch to win this  round. Peter Sodhy and Leah Catherine Launey’s “Riverhouse” overlooks the Kaweah’s Middle Fork and consists of two well-appointed guest rooms with queen-sized bed. Families are very welcome here, however, and twin beds are added upon request.
   Enough about the beds, let’s talk breakfast. Three Rivers B&B guests choose from quiche, cobbler with seasonal fruit, pancakes, French toast, yogurts, muffins, granola and oatmeal, and more. Complimentary wine and chocolates come with the room.
   Coming in second this year is Wicky-Up Ranch Bed & Breakfast, Jack and Monica Pizura’s historic home located on a working organic orange ranch. In third place is Log House Lodge with runners-up Sequoia River Dance, Bearpaw High Sierra Camp, and Lori’s Mountain House.

Family Lodging
   Comfort Inn & Suites offers a deluxe continental breakfast to feed the kidlets upon rising, which gets the whole family started on the right foot. Then after a day of touring in Sequoia, they can burn off more energy at the pool before returning to the room for a peaceful night’s slumber.
   In second place is Wuksachi Lodge, because there is no better place for families to bond than in the mountains. Runners-up are Lazy J, Three Rivers Bed & Breakfast, and Wicky-Up Ranch Bed & Breakfast.

   Some people like luxury accommodations; some like remote and rustic. But in Kaweah Country, it is possible to have it all.
   Silver City Mountain Resort is a good example. It’s the best of all worlds, located in one of the most beautiful spots on earth.
   There are cabins with kitchens, chalets with private baths, a restaurant that serves three meals a day and homemade pie, a gift shop, children’s play area, campfire programs, as well as everything the Mineral King area offers… naturally.
   In second place is the peaceful Lake Elowin Resort on Dinely Drive, a Three Rivers institution.
   Runners-up are The River Inn & Cabins, Sequoia Village Inn, and Lazy J Ranch Motel.

Room With a View
   They are relative newcomers to the Three Rivers lodging scene, but this is the second consecutive year that they have dominated this category. Rio Sierra Riverhouse was once just a house along the river.
   It has since been upgraded and transformed into a spa-like lodge with three rooms and suites, river views, private deck, and private river beach.
   In second place is Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia. Runners-up are Bearpaw, Silver City, Buckeye Tree Lodge, and Gateway Lodge.


Place to Meet People
   Just as important in maintaining good health as diet, exercise, and sleep is socializing with friends and family. So if making the commitment to a healthy lifestyle, head to the Gateway to add to your list of friends.
   In second place for where to find a new best friend is River View Restaurant and Lounge. And meet folks at these places, too: Chump’s Videos and DVDs, Kaweah Drum Circle, local post offices, and “on a trail.”

Local Band

   Bands come and go, except for the Rolling Stones and High Sierra Jazz Band. And since High Sierra happens to be from Three Rivers, they are also the perennial winner of this category.
   Earl McKee, Charlie Castro, Bruce Huddleston, Stan Huddleston, Howard Miyata, Pieter Meijers, and Bryan Shaw make up the band that is not only a local favorite but known worldwide.
   They have performed at venues around the world, but they have never forgotten their Three Rivers roots. They play several concerts a year for the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club, as well as host Jazzaffair, a 37-year-old festival held each April in Three Rivers.
   Second place this year is Jesse Belman & Friends. Runners-up are Mankin Creek, Still Water, and Monday Night Jam (a weekly River View event that’s like a potluck for musicians).

Entertainment Venue
   There is a tie in this category between Orange Blossom and Gateway. Orange Blossom has been luring some big names this way, such as Johnny Winter and Tommy Emmanuel.
   The Gateway, on the other hand, features area musicians in an intimate setting. Get up close and personal with the musicians in the lounge or on the river deck, where the Kaweah River adds the accompaniment.
   Runners-up are River View, Three Rivers Arts Center, and Three Rivers Memorial Building.

Local Event
   The Three Rivers Team Roping is a celebration of the Three Rivers heritage. This community was founded on cattle ranching, where in the early days, ranchers would pasture their stock in Three Rivers from late fall to early spring, then herd them to the high country for the summer months.
   These efforts required skills such as roping and branding, on which the annual Roping events were founded and have evolved. The competitive spirit of the cowboys and cowgirls continues today as they gather every April to participate in the local Roping, which has expanded to a four-day-long event.
   Jazzaffair takes second place, another April happening. Runners-up are the Redbud Festival, Polar Dip, Three Rivers School Foundation Dinner, and the Halloween Carnival.

Happy Hour
   It’s five o’clock somewhere. Readers have several suggestions on where to head whenever the mood for a happy hour hits.
   First, it’s Gateway. Second, River View. Third, Orange Blossom Junction.


Local Hero / Activist
   Everyone who receives votes in this category is a winner, and so is the community of Three Rivers because they live and serve here. Thank you to the following for their volunteer service:
   Sue Sherwood, Tom Sparks, Earl McKee, Gary Whitney, Ken Greenspan, Tina Caperton, Pat O’Connell, Ray Murry, Rudy Marinez, Scott Mullikin, Trish Stivers, and Glenn McIntyre.

Community Service Business
   Again, here are all the local businesses or organizations that received votes for providing vital community services:
   The Kaweah Commonwealth, Three Rivers Mercantile, USA Waste Management/Three Rivers Disposal, Three Rivers Bread Basket, Pat O’Connell’s Service, St. Anthony Retreat, The Thingerie, Village Market, volunteer ambulance and firefighters, Gateway, Three Rivers Post Office, Advance Therapeutic Massage, and Pro-Youth HEART.

Environmentally Friendly Business

   Saving the planet begins at home, and here are the local businesses and organizations that are consciously making a difference:
   Flora Bella Farm, Sequoia Natural History History Association, Ja Nene Natural Body Products, Sierra Garden Center, and USA Waste Management/Three Rivers Disposal.


Hiking Trail
   Maybe it’s because we are just coming off an election year, but the Congress Trail in Sequoia National Park is this year’s most popular hike. The trail begins near the General Sherman Tree. The easy hike will take visitors to the House and Senate groups of Big Trees, as well as the President Tree and other massive giant sequoias.
   The Ladybug Trail in the South Fork area of Sequoia, a perennial favorite, received the second highest amount of votes. Runners-up are Tokopah Falls (Lodgepole), Eagle Lake (Mineral King), Little Baldy (Sequoia), Alta Peak (Sequoia), Skyline/Salt Creek/Case Mountain (BLM), Farewell Gap (Mineral King), Kaweah Gap (High Sierra Trail), and Marble Falls (Potwisha).

Bike Ride
   So if hiking is not your thing, then climb on your bike and try one of these rides.
   Skyline/Salt Creek/Case Mountain, the BLM-managed trail, is the favorite ride, but bring the mountain bike and be ready for some single track.
   In second place is Shepherd’s Saddle, which is a featured route on the annual Sequoia Bicycle Jamboree itinerary. Runners-up are Dry Creek and Yokohl Valley roads.

Picnic Spot
   So maybe instead of climbing to the top of Alta Peak or riding up Case Mountain you would prefer to take it easy one day. Then pack the picnic basket and head to Crescent Meadow, where it’s always cool, green, and scenic.
   Readers also recommend Hospital Rock, South Fork Campground, Pinewood, Mineral King, and Wolverton.

   If packing the picnic and a tent, then head to this year’s number-one pick, Buckeye Flat (Hospital Rock area). Located in the foothills, this tents-only campground is much better enjoyed in the spring, when the weather is cool and the grass is green.
   Also set up at Cold Spring (Mineral King), Lake Kaweah, Potwisha, Kaweah Park Resort, Three Rivers Hideaway, Lodgepole, and Atwell Mill.

Place to Take the Kids
   It’s been well-advertised that children don’t go outside enough. In fact, the National Park Service is coming up with innovative ways to get families, and kids in particular, to visit national parks.
   But for 11 years, local readers’ poll voters have said that Sequoia National Park is the BEST place to take the youngsters… so be sure to take them… regularly!
   Other places that will keep them entertained, or to reward them for chores well done, are: Lake Kaweah, the river, Adventure Park (Visalia), Three Rivers Library, and Reimer’s Candies.


Place to Take
Out-of-Town Guests

   Whether you like them or not, take the houseguests to Moro Rock. They will either thank you profusely for the memorable experience or be suspicious as to why you are leading them to the edge of a cliff.
   Poll respondents also recommend taking guests to Sequoia as a whole, and parts thereof, such as Giant Forest, General Sherman Tree, and Mineral King. Also take out-of-town visitors to the river or river-rafting, they say.

Scenic Drive
   This category is always a toss-up between the Generals Highway and Mineral King. This year, like last, the Mineral King Road won out by mere votes.
   The Generals Highway came in second, but voters say to also try these other roads where views can be had through the windshield: Dry Creek, North Fork, Kings Canyon Highway, South Fork, Three Rivers “scenic highway,” and Yokohl Valley.

National Park Attraction

   Crystal Cave, where it’s always a cool 50 degrees, came in first this year. Here are the rest:
   Moro Rock, Big Trees, Giant Forest, Mineral King, Tokopah Falls, Bearpaw, General Grant Tree, General Sherman Tree, Kings Canyon, Mist Falls, Sawtooth Peak, Tharp’s Log.

Historical Attraction

   Three Rivers is proud of its own history, which is why the Kaweah Post Office wins this category year after year. Here are some other historical stops to make:
   Mineral King cabins, Three Rivers Historical Museum, General Sherman Tree, Big Trees, and Discoveries West Gallery and Archives.

Way to Tour
Without a Car

   Hiking/backpacking took first place this year. This is good news since, we, as a society, need to walk more. Here are other ways to leave the gas-guzzler behind:
   Sequoia Sightseeing Tours, park shuttle, biking, Kaweah White Water Adventures, and pack stations.

Place to be on a
summer afternoon

   The river!
   This says it all because, really, it’s what’s BEST about living in Three Rivers.
   Here are some other suggestions on how to stay cool: Lake Kaweah, 10,000 feet or above, Crescent Meadow, Giant Forest, and Groundhog Meadow (Mineral King).



THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
© Copyright 2003-2010 The Kaweah Commonwealth