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 Tenaya Hills
Best New Bar The District Lounge, formerly Los Vacitos (the little glasses). The first large bar in downtown Orange that seems geared for a more youthful clientele, it's also the first to offer a full menu along with live entertainment most nights. You don't have to be happy about the disappearance of an original arm-benders' hangout, but you gotta love the Chapman U. hotties. 223 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 639-7777.
Best Vintage Clothing Flashbacks. Kinda like that store Cheap in San Pedro, which moved from Long Beach after it mysteriously caught fire. Great vintage, with steel-trap by-the-book prices taking into account exactly what eBay is doing right . . . now. Meaning they're lenient on stuff that's hard to move, like letterman jackets; high on loop-collar gab shirts, but so is everyone else. 463 N. Tustin Ave., Orange, (714) 771-4912.
Best Place to Pick Up Baseball Sluts The Doubletree Hotel in Orange. This hotel's greatest gift is to the men of Orange County: that life form known as the "baseball slut"—the gal who for reasons best known to herself and her attorney scouts hotel upon hotel seeking unsuspecting professional baseball players in town to play the Angels. The team only has—what?—nine guys on the bench and maybe another 10 who'll be up for some action off the field, so, gentlemen, this is where you come in. After a few drinks, they're trysexual—they'll try anything—and this means you. Your room is ready. 100 The City Dr., Orange, (714) 634-4500; www.doubletree.com.
Best Guitar Repair Soest Guitar Repair. Getting your guitar repaired in OC was once a perilous thing. Old-time repair guys deeply didn't get that a new generation of players approached music differently and needed instruments that could be pushed into "misbehave" mode. They also didn't get that some guitars were precious: because the repair guy could reach the controls easier that way, a 1960 Gibson 335 in for minor maintenance might return with the back sawn off, causing lamentation. Steve Soest changed all that when he started repairing guitars in his Orange garage 30 years ago. Guitars would leave his shop more bitchen than when they went in, and the guitarists often would as well. He helped revive the local surf music scene, playing with folks from Dick Dale to Agent Orange's Mike Palm; has hooked players up with bands, gear and gigs; is a regarded guitar historian; and has pulled off the trick of making OC musicians from four decades think he's cool. So cool you need an appointment to see him these days. Soest Guitar Repair, 760-D N. Main St., Orange, (714) 538-0272.
Best Hope for Tomorrow Recent news that the American Civil Liberties Union is opening offices in Orange County: an area with one of the highest concentrations of members in the southern half of the state, but one devoid until now of representation. These guys know defending civil liberties the way so many knuckleheads around here know breaking them. www.aclu-sc.org.
Best Cemetery View Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. One thing you gotta hand to the Catholic Diocese of Orange—they know where to bury their dead. The view from Holy Sepulchre Cemetery finds undeveloped hills, where storks wade amongst the marshes that shrink with every new grave. 7845 Santiago Canyon Rd., Orange, (714) 532-6551.
Best House(s) of Tomorrow Assorted little tracts of Joseph Eichler-designed homes in east Orange. In his hubris, Joseph Eichler is every inch American. He started building homes not because he'd studied up on it for years, but because he knew what he wanted, he knew he could do it best, and no one else was doing it. So here and in the Bay Area, he put up a few score post-and-beam modern homes with comfortable sprawling layouts pointed at secluded back yards—and central atriums that brought the outdoors in. www.eichlersocal.com.
Best Way to Start a Music Collection CD Warehouse. Which, as its name implies, has scads of the things just waiting for you; in this regard, it's like a slightly less sprawling Amoeba—meaning that, while you may turn up a New Pornographers CD, you're slightly less apt to score Neko Case's debut, The Virginian. But you might. Good prices too. 125 N. Tustin St., Ste. D, Orange, (714) 771-6646.
Best Boys' Night Out Hollingshead's Deli. This amazing slice of blue-collar Americana is an absolute must-eat and -drink. Make sure to gab with Kenny or his dad, the salty dog who moved here from Chicago 40 years ago and polices the 150 bottled beers and 15 constantly rotating tap beers. They're wise and sardonic and can bullshit with the best. The food is good, the company's great, and the beer selection is jaw dropping: every fine American microbrew and most of the greatest imports in bottle or on tap—from the Russian River Pliny the Elder to the Belgian Delirium Tremens, perhaps the world's best beer. It's enough to make you almost really love the Packers. 368 S. Main St., Orange, (714) 978-9467; www.hollingshead4beer.com.
Best Bookstore The Bookman. This 250,000-volume bookstore makes its monthly nut selling paperback mysteries and romances, but bibliophiles know the real reason it exists is so they can browse for hours amongst its rare, out-of-print, new and used tomes touching virtually every broad and esoteric subject man's brain has ever grappled with. 840 N. Tustin Ave., Orange, (800) 538-0166.