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Baltimore's Best

Baltimore's Best health and lifestyle services

The Baltimore Sun’s readers and staff scoured the region for the best service providers, from audiologists to veterinary surgeons.

First, you’ll find critics’ picks from The Sun’s editorial team — whom we recommend and why.

Baltimore's Best

Then, you’ll see what readers think; the readers’ choice winners received the most votes during an online poll in March. (Read the official rules here.)

The Baltimore Sun will celebrate the winners with a party at the Assembly Room on May 9. Visit baltimoresunevents.com/best for more details.

Here’s who came out on top in 2019:

Critics’ picks

Auto glass

Smith Auto Glass and Upholstery

Though it has 27 television and movie credits to its name (repairing and customizing cars used in “The Wire,” “House of Cards” and “Tin Men,” among others), this shop treats its regular customers with equal respect. “We’re old school, yet with the technology you need to be in this business,” says co-owner Fred Smith, whose family has been at this site for 59 years.

42 N. Caroline St., Oliver. 410-342-2677. smithautoglass.com

Auto repair

Autobahn of Towson

Dave Evans, left, is owner of Autobahn of Towson, and Frank Doty, right, is manager. The business h
Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun

In 1968 when Dave Evans was 15, he wrote to Hoffman Motors, the company importing BMW autos into the U.S., and asked detailed and sophisticated questions about the newest line of luxury cars. He received a response from company officials who probably never realized they were writing to a kid.

Two letters now hang on the wall of Autobahn of Towson, the business into which Evans has channeled his passion for understanding the inner workings of and repairing European-made cars: Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Mini, Volkswagen, Volvo and Saab. Thirty-year-old Autobahn may lack a plush office and amenities such as loaner cars or free coffee, but Evans and manager Frank Doty have a vast knowledge of foreign vehicles, they’re hardworking and reliable and customers say they’re not overcharged by so much as a dime.

Customers rave about them.

As one longtime client wrote on Yelp, “I like them so much that I will only buy a car they work on.” Another said on Angie’s List: “They go above and beyond. I've called them from New Jersey with something wrong with my car, and they'll tell me what to do to jury-rig it to get it home.”

7217 York Road, Towson. 410-583-1200. autobahnoftowson.net

Cobbler

The Cobbler Shop

Alex Shkolnik, 74, owner of the Cobbler Shop at 219 West Saratoga Street for more than three decades
Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun

In a throwaway world, there are still those who fix things. Like footwear. For 31 years, Alex Shkolnik has repaired the soles and heels of everything from pumps to golf shoes in his narrow workplace on Saratoga St. He rehabs loafers and wing-tips, orthopedic shoes and boots.

“You bring me shoes, 99 percent of the time I fix them,” says Shkolnik, 74. Two years ago, during the Baltimore run of “The Lion King,” he repaired the shoes of several performers. In gratitude, they invited him to the musical, where the entire cast signed a poster for the show. It hangs on the wall of Shkolnik’s shop.

Born in Russia, he left to escape the anti-Semitism and emigrated to Baltimore in 1987 with his family and $100 in his wallet. Two years later, Shkolnik opened the shop where he sews, stitches, sands and polishes the shoes of grateful walk-ins.

“I have some customers for 20 years,” he says. “When you leave here happy, it’s good for me, too.”

Sidelined by back surgery some years ago, Shkolnik says he hobbled into work soon after.

“My wife said, ‘You’re stupid,’ but I love my work,” he says. “When I stay home, I die — so I no stay home.”

219 W. Saratoga St., downtown. 410-234-2959

Eye/vision care

The Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute

Dr. Elliott Myrowitz with a slit lamp at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Green Spring Station. Wilmer Ey
Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun

In the early 1990s, the Wilmer Eye Institute was a pioneer in the Lasik eye surgery that has allowed 19 million near-sighted patients to put down their spectacles. Their researchers are still hitting the medical equivalent of home runs. One physician, Elliott Myrowitz, is the team optometrist for the Baltimore Orioles — literally helping players keep their eyes on the ball.

10753 Falls Road, Pavilion II, Lutherville-Timonium, and six other Maryland locations. 410-583-2802. hopkinsmedicine.org

Gynecology practice

Mercy Personal Physicians at Lutherville

Dr. Meghan Lynch is a gynecologist at Mercy Personal Physicians at Lutherville. The facility is Balt
Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun

Think of it as the MD equivalent of trade secrets. Some of Baltimore’s top female physicians seek out the gynecologists working for Mercy Personal Physicians when they or their daughters need health care. Their doctors combine medical expertise with the ability to put patients at ease. Can there be a higher recommendation?

1734 York Road, Lutherville-Timonium, and five other locations. 410-252-2273. mercydocs.com

Pet day care

Good Doggie Day Care

Good Doggie Day Care owner Jo Anne Garrett plays with some of the over 120 pooches the personal serv
Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun

Routinely, 130 pooches woof and wag their way through the day at this canine care center in Remington. Owner Jo Anne Garrett and her staff of 35 keep the dogs busy with structured programs of play, from chasing balls to tugging ropes in a 26,000-square-foot Funland for Fidos. Then they eat lunch. Then they all take naps, on cots. The dogs, that is.

“It’s just like nursery school,” says Garrett, 73.

Small wonder, at day’s end, that some clients balk at leaving.

“They do get attached to us,” Garrett says. “We’ve had owners who had to carry their dogs to their cars because they wanted to stay.”

The business she began 15 years ago with two dogs in a small house in Hampden has grown to the point where there’s a six-month waiting list (more than 100 dogs). Several regulars have been coming all that time.

“We’ve watched them get as gray as me,” Garrett says.

Dogs are grouped by size and temperament — about 15 per attendant — from four-pound teacup poodles to a 160-pound Great Pyrenees. Purebreds hobnob with mongrels and dogs that are deaf, blind or missing a leg. And when one has a birthday, the staff gives it a party hat and cornbread muffin and sings.

529 W. 29th St., Remington. 410-889-3031. gooddoggiedaycare.com

Veterinary surgeon

Maryland Veterinary Surgical Services

“Equal parts skill and empathy” is how Honor Ame Walesby describes her work doctoring people’s pets. Her 2,400 clients from five states swear by Walesby and her staff, who treat everything from orthopedic ills to cancer. An alumnus of Notre Dame Prep, she is one of eight surgeons worldwide who are board-certified to operate on both large and small animals.

32 Mellor Ave., Catonsville. 410-788-4088. mdvss.com

— Mike Klingaman and Mary Carole McCauley


Readers’ choice winners

Audiologist

Audiology at GBMC

Bank/credit union

First Financial Federal Credit Union

Child care

Mrs. Sue's Little Sunshine Learning Center

Chiropractor

Mary Steiner

College/university

Towson University

Dentist

Dental Designs of White Marsh

Elder care

Lorien Health Services

Hospital

GBMC Healthcare - Greater Baltimore Medical Center

Insurance company

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

Martial arts classes

U.S. Martial Arts Academy

Music lessons

Peabody Preparatory, Towson Campus

Pest control

Statewide Exterminating Company

Pet boarding/kennel

Tecla's K-9 Academy

Physical therapist

FX Physical Therapy

Travel agent

Mackenzie Peyser

Urgent care

Patient First


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