Here are your Best of Howard County 2018 winners

Whether you’re a recent transplant or you’ve lived here for decades, consider this list your go-to resource for local living. In this year’s readers’ poll, more than 17,000 voters selected their favorite people, places and organizations across Howard County — resulting in hundreds of recommendations among our winners and honorable mentions.

Here are your Best of Howard County for 2018.


Editor’s note: Winners and honorable mentions were determined by popular vote. Readers were invited to vote online in August.


Annual festival/event: Howard County Fair


Honorable mentions:

Wine in the Woods

Columbia Festival of the Arts

Preakness Balloon Festival


Art gallery: Howard County Center for the Arts

Honorable mentions:

HorseSpirit Arts Gallery

Artists’ Gallery

Pistachio Gallery (closed, operating online)

Kids’ activities: Clark’s Elioak Farm

A working farm in Howard County since 1797, a fun haven for children since 2002, Clark’s Elioak Farm has been an ever-evolving county institution for generations.

These days, the farm is pretty much all about the kids – including the adult variety.

“We’re very popular with grandparents,” says owner Martha Clark. “It’s a great place for grandparents to bring their grandkids.”

The farm’s major draws include fairy-tale attractions from the long-closed Enchanted Forest, imported to Clark’s over the past 15 years, and a super-abundance of farm animals.

“What people tell us is they like is the fact that we’re an open environment,” says Clark. “There’s not a lot of technology or bells and whistles. You just come, and the kids get to run around in a safe environment.” — Pete Pichaske

10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City. 410-730-4049. clarklandfarm.com.

Honorable mentions:

Sky Zone Columbia


Columbia SportsPark

Performing arts group: Toby’s Dinner Theatre

Honorable mentions:

Columbia Orchestra

Rep Stage

Columbia Pro Cantare

Special event venue: Turf Valley Resort

Honorable mentions:

Howard County Conservancy

The Great Room at Savage Mill

Waverly Mansion

Volunteer organization: Howard County Fire and Rescue

Honorable mentions:

Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center

The Arc of Howard County

Neighbor Ride


Antique shop: The Antique Center at Historic Savage Mill

Honorable mentions:

The Pink Cabbage

Antique Depot

Cottage Antiques (tie, closed)

The Vintage Marketplace at Glenwood (tie)

Bookstore: Barnes & Noble

Honorable mentions:

Second Edition


Books with a Past

Bike shop: Race Pace Bicycles

Honorable mentions:

Princeton Sports

Performance Bicycle

The Cycle Mill

Bridal shop: The Bridal Boutique/Columbia Bridal

Honorable mentions:

Curvaceous Couture

Cherie Amour

Venus Bridal

Car dealership: O’Donnell Honda

Honorable mentions:

Apple Ford Lincoln

Antwerpen Toyota

Jim Coleman Honda

Consignment/resale shop: 2nd Avenue

Honorable mentions:

Once Upon a Child

Charity’s Closet


Clothing boutique: Sweet Elizabeth Jane

Honorable mentions:


Kelsey’s Kloset

Clothes Mentor Columbia (tie)

A Divaz Boutique (tie, closed)

Furniture store: Su Casa

Honorable mentions:

Oak Tree Furniture


Indoor Furniture

Jeweler: Smyth

Honorable mentions:

Sergio’s Fine Jewelers

Edward Arthur Jewelers

Fulton Station Jewelers

Natalie Perna, manager of Bark! in Clarksville, with her dog, Colby, a Boxer and Scottish Terrier mix. Bark! was voted best pet supplies store in the Best of Howard readers' poll.
Natalie Perna, manager of Bark! in Clarksville, with her dog, Colby, a Boxer and Scottish Terrier mix. Bark! was voted best pet supplies store in the Best of Howard readers' poll. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Pet supplies store: Bark

You probably won’t find the same brands of pet food at Bark! that you’ll find at a supermarket.

What you will find is a variety of nutritious, mostly high-end products ranging from grain-free to gluten-free to raw.

What you’ll also find, according to marketing manager Laurie Newton, is a knowledgeable, well-trained staff that can help you choose the healthiest food for your pet.

“It’s really important for us that our staff is very well-versed on all of our products and a good resource for all of our customers,” Newton says. “If someone comes in and they have a dog or cat with a particular allergy, say, we make sure the staff can advise them on the best product.” — Pete Pichaske

5805 Clarksville Square Drive, Clarksville. 443-535-0200. barknatural.com.

Honorable mentions:



My Pet Store and More


Beer, wine and/or liquor store: Pine Orchard Liquors

Honorable mentions:

The Perfect Pour

The Wine Bin

Jason’s Wine & Spirits

Caterer: Putting on the Ritz

Honorable mentions:

Kloby’s Smokehouse

Smokin’ Hot Bar & Grille

Absolutely Perfect Catering

Farmers market/stand: Howard County Farmers Market Ellicott City

Howard County has at least a half-dozen farmers markets, but only a few sell only produce grown on a county farm. And only one of those sells prepared food as well.

That market is one of three operated by the Howard County Farmers Market Board, open Wednesdays from spring until fall, and located in the parking lot at the Miller Branch library in Ellicott City.

“It’s a grower’s market when it comes to produce and fruits, but the prepared food is the big difference,” says board president Jamie Brown, whose Glenelg-based TLV Tree Farm sells at all three of the board’s markets.

The market’s prepared food sellers include HarborQue BBQ, based in Baltimore, and River House Pizza of Ellicott City. — Pete Pichaske

Miller Branch library, 9421 Frederick Road, Ellicott City. Wednesdays, 2p.m.-6 p.m., May 9 through Nov. 14. howardcountyfarmersmarkets.com.

Honorable mentions:

Frank’s Produce and Greenhouse

Ellicott City Old Town Market

Gorman Farm

Health food/supplement store: Trader Joe’s

Honorable mentions:

David’s Natural Market


Roots Market

Place to buy seafood: Wegmans

Honorable mentions:

Today’s Catch

Sea King

Whole Foods

More than 2,000 people voted in Howard Magazine’s Best Restaurants readers’ poll, selecting their favorites in 45 categories.


Alternative wellness center: Maryland University of Integrative Health

Honorable mentions:

The Still Point

Awaken Wellness

Quiet Time Hypnosis

Audiologist/hearing repair: ENTAA Care

Honorable mentions:

Kaplan Hearing Center


Costco Hearing Aid Center


Designer Audiology

Chiropractor: Howard County Chiropractic Spine & Sports Rehabilitation

Honorable mentions:

Morrison Chiropractic

Dabbs Rehab Center of Maryland

Chesapeake Family Wellness Center

Day spa: The Pearl Modern Spa & Boutique

Honorable mentions:

The Spa at Turf Valley

Lynn’s Day Spa

The Spa at Skincare Institute

Dental practice: Columbia Smiles Family Dentistry

Honorable mentions:

Roschella & Zinger Dental Group

Dobbin Dental Suite

Menton Family Dental Care

Eye care: Wilmer Eye Institute at Columbia

Honorable mentions:

Physician’s Eye Care and Laser Center

Columbia Eye Associates

Columbia Family Eye Care

Medispa: Oasis Day Spa

Honorable mentions:

Doctor K MediSpa

Pura Vida Medical Spa

Between the Lines MediSpa

OB/GYN: Capital Women’s Care

Honorable mentions:

Signature OB/GYN

The Women’s OB/GYN Group

Johns Hopkins Community Physicians

Orthodontist: Baltimore Orthodontic Group

Honorable mentions:

OX Orthodontix

Vanguard Orthodontics

Rubler & Halpern Orthodontics

Pediatric practice: Kenneth Klebanow & Associates

Honorable mentions:

Howard County Pediatrics

The Pediatric Center

Ellicott City Pediatric Associates

Physical therapist: Howard County Physical Therapy

Honorable mentions:

Life Fitness Physical Therapy

Revive Physical Therapy

BodyWise Physical Therapy & Wellness

Dr. Eric Chang of Columbia Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Dr. Eric Chang of Columbia Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. (Amy_Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Best plastic surgeon: Columbia Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

His impeccable resume includes graduating magna cum laude from Yale, a medical degree from New York’s Columbia University and a position as plastic surgery chief resident at the Stanford University Medical Center.

But Dr. Eric Chang believes that what makes his 12-year-old practice, Columbia Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, stand out is his effort to make patients feel at ease.

“We expend a lot energy on making people feel comfortable, seeing our patients not as patients but as human beings,” he says. “It’s important for us to spend time with them, really get to know them as people.

“Some of our patients, our breast cancer patients for example, we’ve known for years,” he adds. “So in that way, it’s really special.” — Pete Pichaske

8860 Columbia 100 Parkway, #206, Columbia. 410-740-9330. columbiaaesthetic.com.

Honorable mentions:

Dr. Sarah Mess

Dr. Terri Hill

Plastic Surgery Professionals

Therapist/counselor: Stanton Psychotherapy

Honorable mentions:

Congruent Counseling

Spirit Therapy

Together Couples Counseling

Urgent care: Patient First

Honorable mentions:

KinderMender Walk-In Pediatric Center

Righttime Medical Care


Veterinary practice: Countryside Veterinary Clinic

Honorable mentions:

Triadelphia Veterinary Clinic

Cat and Dog Hospital of Columbia

Dunloggin Veterinary Hospital


Carol and Chuck Bode in showroom in Kings Contrivance. Bode Floors was voted best flooring and carpeting in the Best of Howard readers' poll.
Carol and Chuck Bode in showroom in Kings Contrivance. Bode Floors was voted best flooring and carpeting in the Best of Howard readers' poll. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Flooring and carpeting: Bode Floors

Chuck and Carol Bode have deep roots in Howard County. They’ve lived and raised a family here for more than 50 years, and they’ve been selling carpet and flooring here (now at two locations, in Columbia and Ellicott City) for 40 years.

Those deep roots are what make their family-owned company special, according to Chuck Bode.

“The biggest strength of Bode Floors is the reputation and brand-name recognition we have developed in Howard County over many years,” he says. “Most of our business comes from repeat customers, referrals and word of mouth.”

9515 Gerwig Lane, Suite 130, Columbia. 410-381-5900. bodefloors.com.

Honorable mentions:

A Plus Carpet & Flooring

The Vertical Connection Carpet One

Main Street Oriental Rugs

Garden center/nursery: Frank’s Produce & Greenhouse

Honorable mentions:

Sun Nurseries

Grandfather’s Garden Center

The Nursery at Lauren’s Garden Service

Heating/air conditioning repair: Environmental Systems Associates

Honorable mentions:

B&B Air Conditioning and Heating Service Co.

Ron Air

No-Frost A/C & Heating Co.

Homebuilder: Ryan Homes

Honorable mentions:

Williamsburg Homes

Columbia Builders

Trinity Homes

Housecleaners: The Cleaning Authority

Honorable mentions:

Merry Maids

Pioneer Custom Cleaning

Home Sweet Home Cleaning Services

Landscaper: Rhine Landscaping

Honorable mentions:

Mike’s Landscaping Supplies

Oaklawn Landscaping

Lauren’s Garden Service

Plumber: Ken Griffin Plumbing Services

Honorable mentions:

Zepp Plumbing & Heating

Heil Plumbing

Mark Brew Plumbing and Heating

Real estate agent: Bob Lucido, Keller Williams Integrity

Honorable mentions:

Creig Northrop, Long & Foster Real Estate

David Yungmann, Keller Williams Integrity

Maria Weaver, Re/Max Advantage Realty

Remodeler: Cornerstone Remodeling

Honorable mentions:

Cossentino and Sons

Allan Homes Unlimited

Ken Griffin Plumbing & Heating

Senior housing community: Vantage House

Honorable mentions:

The Lutheran Village at Miller’s Grant

Waverly Woods West

Ellicott Meadows


Accountant: Keith Dorsey, JK Associates

Honorable mentions:

Daniel Mules, Geier Asset Management

Jeffrey D. Ring, Fisher Ring LLC

Dembo Jones

Lead technician Kevin Wolf changes the oil of car at Hillmuth Auto Care, voted best auto repair in Howard County.
Lead technician Kevin Wolf changes the oil of car at Hillmuth Auto Care, voted best auto repair in Howard County. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Auto repair: Hillmuth Auto Care

A family-owned business since its inception 40 years ago, Hillmuth Auto Care has always been big on customer care.

“In the auto service industry, you have to build relationships, and we’re pretty good at that,” says Billy Hillmuth, who opened the business with his brother, Doug.

In that vein, Doug Hillmuth has a mantra he likes to instill in employees who deal with customers: “Have you made a friend today?”

“It’s our way of saying you treat everybody like a friend, a neighbor, a brother,” he says.

Started out of a two-bay repair shop on Dobbin Road in Columbia, Hillmuth Auto Care now has four locations, three in Howard County. — Pete Pichaske

12411 Clarksville Pike, Clarksville; 6810 Oak Hall Lane, Columbia; 2480 State Route 97, Glenwood. 410-381-1124. hillmuth.com.

Honorable mentions:

Ken’s Service Center

British American Auto Care


Neubauer’s Auto Repair

Bank/credit union: APL Federal Credit Union

Honorable mentions:

M&T Bank

Tower Federal Credit Union


Barbershop: Floyd’s 99 Barbershop

Honorable mentions:

Rob’s Barber Shop

Master Barber

Sal’s Barber Shop

Child care: Bet Yeladim Preschool

Honorable mentions:

The Young School

Columbia Academy

The Goddard School

Computer repair: Best Buy Geek Squad

Honorable mentions:


ScottE Software

Gadget Guru

Doggie day care: Camp Bow Wow

Honorable mentions:


The Coventry School Inc. for Dogs and Their People

Wagging Lounge Dog Resort

Family lawyer: Mulinazzi Law Office

Honorable mentions:

Weinberg & Schwartz, LLC

Law Offices of Alisa G. Cummins

Law Firm of Robert L. Flanagan

Financial adviser: Gary Williams, Williams Asset Management

Honorable mentions:

Baltimore Washington Financial Advisors

Geier Asset Management

Brian Avrunin, Ameriprise

Florist: Wilhide’s Unique Flowers & Gifts

Honorable mentions:

The Flower Basket

Raimondi’s Florist

Clarksville Flower Station

Interior decorator/designer: Classic Interiors

Honorable mentions:

Terra Maria Home Interiors

Drury Lane Interiors

The Decorating Therapist

Pet groomer: The Dog Wash

Honorable mentions:


Highland Groomery

Wagging Lounge Dog Resort

Salon: Mason & Friends Salon & Spa

Honorable mentions:

Inspire Salon

Looks Salon & Spa

Cloud 9 Salon

Travel agent: AAA Columbia Car Insurance and Travel Center

Honorable mentions:

Monica Baker Travel

Destinations Inc.

The Travel Boutique


Blog: Village Green/Town Squared

Honorable mentions:

Scott E Blog

The Unmanly Chef

Warren’s Beer Adventures

Clergyperson: Monsignor Joseph L. Luca, St. Louis Catholic Church

Honorable mentions:

Rabbi Craig H. Axler, Temple Isaiah

The Rev. Paige Getty, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia

Monsignor John Dietzenbach, Church of the Resurrection

Elected official: County Executive Allan H. Kittleman

Honorable mentions:

County Councilman Calvin Ball

County Councilman Jon Weinstein

County Councilwoman Jen Terrasa

Personal trainer: Bonnie Pace, Columbia Gym

Honorable mentions:

Stephanie Dignan, The Boot Camp Girl

Vic Selvaggi, Colosseum Gym

Jason Schreiber, Top Tier Crossfit Columbia

Police officer: Vic Broccolino Jr.

Honorable mentions:

Steve Willingham

Mary Levy

Mike Johnson

Principal: Nick Novak, Howard High School

After nearly a decade running one Howard County high school or another, Howard High principal Nick Novak has a good idea what works: listening to the many stakeholders.

“Whatever school you go to you’re going to find great students, great teachers, great parents – a great community, with so much passion and support for principals,” he says.

His style is to tap into that knowledge, passion and support and find a consensus for how the school should operate.

Novak used that collaborative style last year when he surveyed all of Howard High’s stakeholders to come up with a new mission for the school that aims to promote “a culture of integrity, equity, and responsiveness that embodies our Howard.” — Pete Pichaske

8700 Old Annapolis Road, Ellicott City. 410-313-2867. hohs.hcpss.org.

Honorable mentions:

Karen Murphy, Resurrection-St. Paul School

David Burton, Glenelg High School

Rick Wilson, Wilde Lake High School


CrossFit box: CrossFit Cove

Honorable mentions:

Top Tier CrossFit Columbia

CrossFit PCR

12 Labours CrossFit

Dance lessons: B. Funk Dance Company

Honorable mentions:

Backstage Dance Studio

Arabesque Dance Studio

Studio Dans

Golf course: Turf Valley Resort

Honorable mentions:

Hobbit’s Glenn Golf Club

The Timbers at Troy

Waverly Woods Golf Club

Gym: Life Time Athletic

Honorable mentions:

Columbia Gym

Supreme Sports Club

The Y in Ellicott City

Martial arts classes: American Academy of Martial Arts

Honorable mentions:

Klotz Institute of Karate

Hwarang Martial Arts

WKD Karate for Girls

Music lessons: Mike’s Music

Honorable mentions:

Damon Foreman Music Academy

Music & Arts

Olenka School of Music

Pool for kids: Swansfield Pool and Mini Water Park

Honorable mentions:

Life Time Athletic

River Hill Pool

North Saint John’s Swim & Tennis Club

Kathy Donnelly leads a hatha yoga class at the Yoga Center of Columbia.
Kathy Donnelly leads a hatha yoga class at the Yoga Center of Columbia. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Yoga studio: The Yoga Center of Columbia

You don’t have to know your downward dog from your plow pose to enjoy classes at the Yoga Center of Columbia.

For that matter, you don’t have to be capable of doing most yoga poses.

The Columbia studio offers yoga classes for just about all ages and abilities – including classes for amputees and people in wheelchairs.

“We are proud of offering yoga for everyone,” says owner Kathy Donnelly, who started at the Yoga Center as a teacher in 2000.

Longevity is another key to her studio’s success, Donnelly says. She noted that the Yoga Center has been open since 1992 and quipped, “You couldn’t even find a yoga mat then.”

8950 State Route 108, Suite 109, Columbia. 410-720-4340. columbiayoga.com.

Honorable mentions:

Yoga Love

BYC Yoga 26

Shift Yoga

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