By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Photo by Amy Theilig
Best Cuban Food Habana Cafe. Together with Felix's at Orange Circle and Habana at Costa Mesa's The Lab, Habana Cafe completes the troika that rules Orange County's Cuban food scene with an iron grip that would make Fidel proud. Food snob Gustavo Arellano recommends the tart shredded-beef stew ropa vieja, served with black beans and rice; crab croquettes; the spicy oxtail stew; and the tortillas, which unlike the rest of the world's are flat corn or flour pancakes, known in Cuba as veggie omelets. 18552 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 968-1133.
Best County Tour Biking Santa Ana River Trail. It begins at an underpass separating Newport Beach and Huntington Beach and stretches 30 miles inland. Along the way, it jumps back and forth across the Santa Ana River and passes Banning Ranch and Talbert Regional Park, soccer fields and ballparks, upscale housing communities and weathered shacks, Angel Stadium and the Arrowhead Pond, and, finally, Featherly Regional Park. It is a tour of OC—without the crush of automobiles. A strong onshore flow will push you inland and ensure a snail-like return.
Best Dog Beach Dog Beach. This isn't just the best dog beach in Huntington, it's the only dog beach in Huntington—or Orange County, for that matter. The only rules are you have to bring an ample supply of doggie bags and keep your pet on the wet part of the sand. And you have to use the bag. And only nice dogs are invited. Goldenwest St. and Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach.
Best Breakfast Park Bench Café. This is one of two dog-friendly joints in Huntington Beach's Central Park—the other is the down-homey Alice's Restaurant in the Park. Both serve great American fare for humans, but what makes Park Bench stand out is the Canine Cuisine Menu it introduced in 1993. Fido has never had so many culinary choices: everything from chopped bacon bits (Annabelle's Treat) and hot dog slices (Hot Diggity Dog) to peanut butter churros (Ole!). For the more finicky feline-chaser, there's Rover Easy (two scrambled eggs) and the Wrangler Roundup (a lean turkey burger patty). Don't forget: the café's closed on Mondays and when it rains. 17732 Goldenwest St., Huntington Beach, (714) 842-0775.
Best Punk Shop Electric Chair. If you're under 25 and like to wear patches saying things like "Minor Threat," "Bad Brains" or "Rancid," or if you can't leave the house without donning several studded leather items decorated with skulls and crossbones and British flags, this is your place. They've got a sturdy collection of creepers, Doc Martens and music posters and a decent collection of punk CDs and vinyl recordings. 410 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 536-0784.
Best Record Store Vinyl Solution. Weekly underground music guru Chris Ziegler says this store is slipping, but it's the city's best for rare punk and new wave vinyl recordings and accoutrements: CDs, DVDs, cassettes, T-shirts, stickers and badges. 18822 Beach Blvd., Ste. 104, Huntington Beach, (714) 963-1819.