By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
Best Youth Recreational Facility the City Put Off for Years Volcom Skate Park, now hugely successful, despite the city still being a prick. Build it, and they will come. The city was told this for years. Instead, under directions from parks commissioners with their own inherent conflicts of interest, the city kept pouring time, money and attention into crappy neighborhood parks that attracted bums, tweakers and day laborers. Kids: zippo! You see, Costa Mesa is in the heart of boardsports country, and young'uns—when they aren't being forced into organized sports by their caffeine-addicted parents—have no interest in playing baseball, basketball or soccer. They were born to skate, something the city of Costa Mesa was told over and over and over until—with the success of skate parks everywhere else in the free and not-so-free world—the city finally relented and opened this place. It's been such a massive success that parks commissioners are now saying, "Gee, maybe we should open some more." You think, Herr Douchebag? Meanwhile, go to the city's official site for their shiny new skate park—www.ci.costa-mesa.ca.us/recreation/skatepark.htm—and you won't see photos or words of praise. You'll see a list of rules that wouldn't be this long if it were a nuclear power plant. Holy fuck! 900 Arlington, Costa Mesa, (714) 754-5326.
Best Street Crawl 17th Street. If Costa Mesa is Paris—and why not?—then 17th Street is its Left Bank, if the Left Bank were filled with really drunk and obtuse skater boys and grown-up frats, and since I've never been to Paris, I really can't say yea or nay. On one lovely avenue, you have the clogged artery that is the Little Knight, with perhaps the latest last call in the county; Pierce Street Annex, where a girl just getting over heartbreak can affix to her button fly one of those flashing lights the beer girls hand out and then thunk her badonkadonk with Miss Missy Elliott while the men lurk by the walls; the Harp Inn, a soothing place where you can chat with friends on the patio and actually hold intelligent conversations with the regulars; and La Cave, with its overpriced à la carte hunks of bloody goodness, its bitchen underground absinthe ambiance, its regular Revolver night with spooky DJs and art installations, and the best Halloween costume contests in the county, though the Sexy Nurse always seems to win. Little Knight, 436 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 646-6650; Pierce Street Annex, 330 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 646-8500; Harp Inn, 130 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 646-8855; La Cave, 1695 Irvine Ave. (at 17th St.), Costa Mesa, (949) 646-7944.
Best $60 Whiskey Chat Noir. Rich people love Chat Noir. They love its red-and-blackness, they love its $9 side of French fries (seriously!), they love its bad jazz, they love that one booth that sits up on its own dais, so that, like Yertle the Turtle, you're king of all you survey. And, hell yeah, they love that $60 glass of Johnny Walker Blue. Mmmm. Two, please. 655 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, (714) 557-6647.
Best Vinyl Record Store Noise, Noise, Noise. If other shops stock musical meat and potatoes, this wonderfully weathered shop has the haggis and blowfish. It's charming to find a store where you can tell they really don't give a fuck if every customer leaves satisfied. I mean, they're polite enough in directing the lumpen masses to stores that stock the lumpenware they desire, but they probably don't miss them when they go. Those not driven out by the industrial electronica often on the turntable (they also go through phases of playing soulful Brit folkies Pentangle) will find an incredibly diverse range of music on hand, from the Minutemen to Motörhead to the Meters to the Jazz Messengers. 1505 Mesa Verde Dr. E., Ste. A, Costa Mesa, (714) 556-1507.
Best Place to Score a Keg, Nab a Bottle of Wine, Acquire a Great Cigar and Get the Best Customer Service Doing All That Hi-Time Wine Cellars. When we die, the inside of Hi-Time is what we hope heaven looks like. Sure, you could point to other places around the county that specialize exclusively in beer or wine or liquor or cigars and the various accessories that go with the consumption of each legal vice, but Hi-Time has an impressive collection of all of 'em under one roof. This is especially convenient for those times you need beer, wine, tobacco and a bottle of courage. And coffee. And a corkscrew. And munchies. What do they call those times again? Oh yeah: WEEKENDS! The selection of beer, wine and spirits is so extensive that connoisseurs the world over know Hi-Time. Now, you can wander the aisles, throwing stuff into your cart—and then putting most of it back when you see how much everything costs. A better strategy is grabbing a friendly, attentive floor person, telling him/her what you're looking for and how much you have to spend, and allowing them to put their expertise to practice, which they'll do by coming up with products that are perfect for your palate and wallet. When it comes to their fine wines from California, France and the world over, you can even taste before you buy at regularly scheduled wine tastings. And good people own the business and work there, which is nice. 250 Ogle St., Costa Mesa, (949) 650-8463 or (800) 331-3005; www.hitimewine.net.