Your McMurray Magazine’s Best of YMM 2023 Readers’ Choice

Presented by Rivers Casino Entertainment Centre

Nearly 4,000 nominations were cast and nearly 10,000 legal votes were cast and now it’s all over but the bragging.


We present to you, our largest Best of YMM yet with over 75 categories!

Some categories were predictable. The Keg Steakhouse continued their dominance in the Best Steak category, garnering 2,500 votes – the highest single number of votes in any category but the highest percentage of victory went to Prestige Jewellers with 64% of the total votes in the Best Jewelry Store category. Mitchell’s Cafe continued to impress, winning three categories including Sandwich, Soup and Best Gluten Free.

For the second straight year, an East Village Pub staff member won in their respective category with Amanda Barton winning the Best Server category. Ayman Hassan almost made it a clean sweep for their staff, losing by just 33 votes to Cocktails By Boots.

Upsets were a plenty too with the independently owned Abasand Liquor nudging out the popular chain Sobeys Liquor. Another close battle saw The Keg win for Best Date Night reclaiming the award from The Alley who won it in 2022. The Alley didn’t come up empty-handed though, winning Best Pizza and Best Family Entertainment Centre for the second straight year.

With nearly three dozen new categories added this year, there were some intense battles. Thrifty Dutchess was crowned Best Clothing and Apparel Store when the dust settled, barely beating out Drop Dead Darlings by only three votes, and only 157 votes separated first from last place. The newly created Best Cocktails category went to Cocktails By Boots, the only Independent candidate in the category!

Upstart rookies were a plenty with Ginger’s Bannock House debuting in the category Best Indigenous Owned Company. Five Guys stormed onto the scene with a massive win in the always competitive Best Burger category. The battle for Best Spa was far from relaxing with Layers Wellness & Spa coming out on top after finishing second to Achieve Wellness last year. Also flip-flopping this year was the Best Hair Salon category with Spoiled Rotten Beauty Boutique getting the 2023 hardware.

Some victories were long overdue such as the Rivers Casino & Entertainment Centre winning Best Live Entertainment Venue after a massive renovation (and name change). Blackhorse Pub has been in business for nearly 30 years and finally got a win in the Best Wings category, after not even making the final six last year. Interestingly, the winner and runner-up of that category in 2022 (57 North and Paddy McSwiggins) both closed down shop, leaving wing fans scrambling for a new favourite spot.

By popular demand, the Events category was split up into several sub genres reflecting the large variety of events offered in Fort McMurray as we returned to normal in 2022. Wood Buffalo Ribfest, who have dominated the category the last three years won for Best Festival while Northern Lights Health Foundation won for Best Charity Fundraiser or Gala for their legendary Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. Sustainival edged out contenders like the NLHF’s Daddy Daughter Ball, Heritage Village’s Haunted Village and Rock the Rails to win the Best Children’s Event category.

74 of the 75 category winners (we’re still not sure who to give Best Hidden Gem winner Birchwood Trails too) were presented a special certificate at a celebration at the River’s Casino and Entertainment Centre. They will hang their placards proudly in their place of business while knowing they’ll have a target on their back when the next edition of the Best of YMM kicks off shortly after the clock strikes midnight into 2024.

By the numbers

  • 75 Categories
  • 4,354 Votes in Best Breakfast category
  • 3,944 Total nominations submitted
  • 2,497 Votes received by Mitchell’s Café for Best Sandwich
  • 2,501Votes received by The Keg in the Best Steak category
  • 643 Worth the drive? Votes received for Vista Ridge for Best Poutine
  • 3 Number of votes separating first and second in Best Clothing & Apparel Store
  • 4 Consecutive number of wins for PK’s Donair (Best Donair) Wood Buffalo Ribfest (Best Festival) Macdonald Island Park (Best Fitness Centre) and The Flower Studio (Best Flower Shop)
  • 3 It’s a hat trick! Three consecutive wins for The Keg Steakhouse + Bar (Best Steak), Cora (Best Breakfast), Dedicate Health Meal Prep (Best Vegan + Vegetarian), Dan Tulk (Best in Education), Emily Gale (Best Photographer), Thickwood Barber Shop (Best Barber Shop) and The Alley YMM (Best Family Entertainment Centre)

About the author

Author Profile
Mike Jones

Mike has called Fort McMurray home for the past eight years. A true man about town, Mike loves supporting local artists and small businesses by using his platform to promote them however he can. In his spare time, you can find Mike checking out new music, drinking craft beer or managing his fantasy football team!

Mike strives to live life to its fullest and adopts a glass half full perspective. He is a constant promoter of all things positive in Fort McMurray and can’t wait to help share the Good News with you!

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