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
Best School Los Alamitos High. Perhaps Orange County's best all-around public high school, considering its consistently exceptional combination of high academic performance as well as terrific extracurricular and athletic programs. Just about everything at Los Al is very good, and some things are damn great. Forget John Barnes not being able to leave Los Al—just ask some of the locals to tell you stories about how people in the surrounding areas attempt to weasel their way into the Los Al district to get into school. Very creative.
Best Hawaiian Island Grill, which sells Hawaiian food with a Japanese bent, meaning you can get your sushi and bento box fill along with sumptuous teriyaki bowls. Regardless of the main course, your dessert should be the shaved ice: a frosty, chilled monolith flavored with fruit and so delicate you could whittle it down with dental floss. 4390 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 431-6496.
Best Chicken Pittsburgh Broasted Chicken is just what the name says, plus a cute bird mascot armed with a baseball bat. They pressure-cook the gals with the same relentless intensity of the Steelers steel curtain, producing plump meat inside a fine knobby skin. 3671 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 594-0140.
Best BBQ Papa's Western BBQ smokes its meat Santa Maria-style—tri-tip served lean with a marinade dipping sauce that's salty yet delicious, the meat soaking up the redwood smoke of its heated chips. Baby-back ribs split apart like Legos are served sauceless save for that marinade. Chicken, steaks, pork loin: anything bathed in that dark, dense marinade transforms into the divine. 10900 Los Alamitos Blvd., Los Alamitos, (562) 594-9251; www.papaswesternbbq.com.
Best Pasty Pasty Kitchen is home to the English pasty, a dish riddled with mystery meat and wrapped in a tasty enigma. It's a turnover filled with what was described as "paste"—piles of meat, vegetables and whatever else is lying around chopped together and folded into a delicately sublime crust. 3641 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 431-9747.