Best Of Shopping & Services
Given the crises in Orange County, with so many judges rubberstamping corrupt law-enforcement actions, we sadly have to depart our boundaries and fly 3,000 miles to find the winner: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Who could have predicted a Roman Catholic, Republican, Ronald Reagan appointee would be the conservative...
Scott L. Sanders
Many folks have bad lawyer stories in which emptying your bank account was the priority while providing lackluster, if not downright lousy, legal service. Sadly, that type of scenario plays out every day in Orange County's courthouses. There are, however, dedicated, professional lawyers here, and easily one of the best...
Best Public Project
John Wayne Airport
Officials at John Wayne Airport claim a 95 percent passenger approval rate for their facility, and there's no mystery why. In comparison to the unwieldy, sprawling mess known as Los Angeles International Airport, this place—though much smaller—feels like heaven. It's clean, comfortable and continually modernized for visitor convenience. Plus, the...
Best Place to Buy Buddha
Maikong Arts & Crafts
Looking to fill a spot in your home or apartment with a bit of Eastern/Buddhist flair? Head to Maikong Arts & Crafts. Located on an unusually quiet Little Saigon street, this warehouse-style shop sells Buddha statues, ceramics and colorful wall art for reasonable prices. The location, off Bolsa Avenue next...
Santa Ana Public Library
Newport Beach's is the most sleek, Fullerton's just received a modern overhaul, and Huntington Beach probably has the best grounds, complete with a spiffy 319-seat theater. But what about SanTana? If a library's role is to "transform lives," as Fullerton College Systems Librarian E.H. Bennett says, then Santa Ana gets...
Best Vape Shop
The Vintage Vape
Vapers in the know say joints such as Vapor Bombz in Anaheim have a killer selection, but if you want the ideal combination of choice, friendly and knowledgeable staff, and environment, then crosstown compadre the Vintage Vape is the place to get your puff on. It has a groovy selection...
Nitrogen In Everything
Liquid nitrogen really blew up in 2014, but we kind of felt that was more gimmick than anything else. After all, science classes have been making ice cream with the stuff since the first science teacher could afford his or her own dewer. This past year, though, people started shoving...
Best Car Wash
Oasis Car Wash
What more do you really want in a car wash in 2015 than running water that doesn't drain a reservoir? It'd be nice if it were cheap, too—and Oasis Car Wash in Garden Grove definitely is. At $1 per minute, you can have yourself a washed car for as little...
Best Co-working Space
Excited co-workers, proximity to cool shit and great food right next door is what you want in a co-working space, and the best place to get all of that is right in the heart of Downtown SanTana. Effectively across the street from 4th Street Market, just a hop, a skip...
Best Taxi Alternative
Orange County's too big for effective public transit, biking farther than your own city is almost impossible without getting sweaty, and most other transportation methods are too slow to get you anywhere. What else are you to do but root for the underdog? It doesn't really matter anyway, since there's...
Downtown Santa Ana
It's been a few years since SanTana won our Best Downtown award, but it's not winning for the same reasons it did in 2012. Yes, some of the best restaurants in Orange County are there. Yes, there's some artsy fartsy stuff. Yes, it's heaven if you're into street wear. But...
Best Sugaring Salon
Almery & Co.
Sugaring spots seem to pop up as quickly as the hair you just had removed—but not all are created equal. You'll leave the county's most luxurious sugaring shop feeling as if you had a day at the spa. Almery & Co. owner Kelly Arnold, a guru in organic skincare, converted...
Best Laser Hair Removal
Gentle Touch Med Spa
Even Beefsquatch has no chance against Gentle Touch Med Spa's masters!...
Best Vintage Store
Elsewhere Vintage and Joyride: Vintage for Men
To enter Elsewhere Vintage and Joyride is to take a step back in time—a really fancy step in 1950s Roger Vivier pumps. The sister stores are next door to each other, just west of the nostalgic Orange Circle. Joyride: Vintage for Men hosts the menswear, while Elsewhere houses ladies finery,...
Best Used-Book Store
Dollar Book Fair
Dollar Book Fair is another one of those small-chain bookstores that, as you enter, will have you feeling as though you walked into the home of a hoarder: There's a makeshift sense of organization, with expansive rows and a random selection of items. But, hey, if you're that kind of...
Best Comic-Book Store
Nuclear Comics & Skate Shop
Nuclear Comics & Skate Shop has given comic-book readers their fix for more than 20 years now, with Marvel and DC for the geeks; indie comics for the art hipsters; and graphic novels, collectibles and vintage serials for everyone in between. There's a wide variety of inventory, yet the midsize...
Tustin Foot Massage
Detox water: Many of us associate the term with some kind of fancy lemon-mint water in the aisles of Whole Foods. At Tustin Foot Massage, a Chinese Reflexology joint, detox water is the grotesquely satisfying product of a long foot soak, the water turned rust-colored from the purported release of...
GLO Nail Bar
Sure, some nail spas will bring you champagne and roses during your visit, but only GLO Nail Bar will pour both over your legs as part of the pedicure itself. The Bubbly Champagne and Rose Pedicure is one of 13 specialty spa pedicures offered. Its services selection reads as if...
Best Shopping Plaza
South Coast Collection (SOCO)
With a line of high-end furniture purveyors, designer showrooms and a giant specialty culinary store, it's hard to believe the 405-hugging South Coast Collection (SOCO) is, by technical definition, a shopping plaza. But it is, albeit one with an entire boutique shopping complex (the OC Mix) and a weekly farmers'...
Best Clothing Boutique
Cloth and Metal
Women's clothing boutiques are a dime an overpriced dozen. They should take cues from the awesomely curated Cloth and Metal, one of Orange County's few men's goods boutiques. Couched inside the OC Mix shopping center, Cloth and Metal stocks durable and well-tailored men's clothing and shoes, high-end grooming products, tech-nerd...
Best Charity Gift Shop
Laura's House Resale Store
The thrift-store portion of domestic-violence agency Laura's House, Laura's House Resale Store gets altruistic on two levels. All proceeds directly support the nonprofit's emergency shelter, transitional housing and counseling programs. Plus, the resale store keeps quality clothing and goods affordable for shoppers, a benefit to both low-income families and frugal...
Best Way to Get a Pet
National Cat Protection Society
This nonprofit, no-kill shelter is dedicated to pairing cats with the right homes. Founded in 1968 by longtime humane officer C. Richard Calore, the National Cat Protection Society offers a soothing environment in which you're invited to find the newest member of your household. After filling out an application, you'll...
Best Auto Dealership
South Coast Toyota and Scion
The first time a certain customer bought a Highlander from this Costa Mesa lot, way back in 2005, not only was the process fast and easy, but also the sales representatives made it clear they intended to make this a lifelong business relationship: Don't like the vehicle after a couple...
Best Teen Shelter
Last August, after being a transitional housing facility for at-risk teens in Orange County for more than 29 years, Laurel House closed. Thanks to generous donors and community members, the Tustin home reopened after renovations on May 6 as the only shelter in the county providing long-term care and other...
Dr. Peter Joson
Board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Peter Joson, who is fellowship-trained in glaucoma, is a great practitioner who also gives back to the less fortunate. He is an advocate and volunteer for the nonprofits EyeCare America, which since 1985 has helped nearly 1.8 million needy people receive sight-saving care, and the Foundation Fighting...
Best Holy Person
The Reverend Sian Wiltshire
Orange County is a hotbed for anti-immigrant fervor, but that didn't stop the Reverend Sian Wiltshire's Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church in Costa Mesa from hosting and joining with others in the May launch of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement. The nonprofit provides micro-grants to people in immigration...
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Orange County sheriff's deputy Scott Montoya took temporary leave, volunteered for Iraq War duty as a U.S. Marine sergeant, and ignored incoming enemy fire to rescue four seriously wounded colleagues and a civilian during the Battle of Baghdad. In January 2005, President George W. Bush...
Best Bike Shop
Pedego Newport Pier
Some bicycle purists consider electric bikes blasphemous, but let us remind them that some unicycle purists consider two-wheelers offensive. Besides, you can ride a Pedego electric bike without cranking the throttle and employing the lithium battery in the little black box behind the cushy seat. We'll just see how long...
Best Liquor Store
Hi-Time Wine Cellars
Dear Hi-Time: You must think you're pretty hot shit by now. It appears OC Weekly still hasn't run out of adjectives to describe your fine selection of rare, yet suspiciously affordable spirits, cavernous wine selection, froufrou French bread and blah, blah, blah. You're so great. Meanwhile, do we get any...
If you're lucky enough to have a special-occasion arrangement from Browne's Flowers delivered to your door, you'll no doubt be blown away by the exquisite floral art: fresh, long-lasting, just all-around spectacular. Smells good, too. As you waft in the beauty, your mind's eye might picture the brick-and-mortar shop the...
Dana Point Marina Inn
You can check in and never get back into your car—there is just so much you can walk to from this unpretentious, surprisingly affordable inn. Fifty paces south is whiskey bread pudding at the Brig; farther on, you can drink until you're hammered at Turk's. Sleep it off in your...
Best Surf Shop
The rest of the country—and the world—shops at this 4,000-square-foot San Clemente warehouse e-style, but we lucky locals get to walk right in to get outfitted in person. With bodyboards by dozens of brands ranging in length from 12 to 47 inches, everyone from pros to tots will be taken...
Best Place to Donate Stuff
Orange County Rescue Mission
You drive right up, and guys are waiting to help you unload. You'll have a receipt, if you want one, and be on your way in no time. Unless you cruise around OC with much-needed items, such as hygiene kits or food, and personally hand them over to any homeless...
Framed bona fides on the walls attest to CAARS' (Capistrano Alignment and Auto Repair Service) ASA-certified technicians and AAA stamp of approval, which sure makes them good on paper. But the best thing about CAARS is that each time you walk in, you can sense absolute trustworthiness. Never have we...
Best Place to Get Married
Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens
If you saw Weekly art reviewer Dave Barton's site-specific adaptation of Hamlet there in April, then you know what a romantic house Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens is. Built in 1927, the bluff-top mansion retains all its architectural details inside and out, without a whiff of gentrification. It's like...
Best Smoke Shop
Ziggy's Smoke Shop
Besides bringing honor to one of the lamest names around—seriously: the only really famous Ziggys are the eponymous comic strip and the loser son from Season 2 of The Wire—this business sells pipes for everyone from the beginning smoker to stuff running into the thousands of dollars, as well as...
Best Record Store
Despite what Gina of Empire Records may say, it's not Rex Manning Day that makes a great record store. It's a great selection, peppered with affordable rarities and run by a clerk who has anecdotes of your favorite band, which you've followed religiously since high school, that even you didn't...
What does the Weekly have in common with Plant Depot? Both are celebrating 20th anniversaries this year. The nursery is owner-operated, while the Weekly—not so much . . . yet. Happy 20th! As is this infernal rag, Plant Depot is very good at what it does: provide expert advice and...
Sky High Holistic
Choosing the best medical-marijuana dispensary in Orange County is a fool's game. After all, what guarantee is there that the club in question will still be operating by the time our annual Best Of issue goes to print? Another factor is that certain collectives, knowing that having too high a...
Best Evaluation Center
Whichever One Is Still Open By the Time This Hits the Streets
Because the way our local, state and federal governments operate, whomever we give this award to will get a raid for this honor...
Best Corporate Do-Gooder
This is less about the corporation's charitable giving than its hearty support of employee-managed volunteerism. Disney's "cast members" donate a percentage of their paychecks, which then get paid out in employee-nominated grants of $1,000 to $5,000. Funds go to arts organizations, health and social services, educational and children's charities, among...
Best Genre Bookstore
Book Carnival has been Orange County's go-to for mysteries, thrillers and romantic suspense first-editions since 1981. Local authors including Dean Koontz, T. Jefferson Parker and Kem Nunn feature prominently, as do authors such as Lawrence Block, Stephen King, David Morrell and Donald Westlake. On a recent visit, we found a...
Best Place to Buy Cheap Kitchenware
99 Cent Only Stores
The aisle of dishtowels, spatulas, plates, coffee cups, glasses and other assorted kitchenware is less kawaii than an unnamed, Nipponese-focused extreme discount chain we could name, but with many items topping out at a buck rather than the other store's beginning price of $1.50, you won't hear us complaining. The...
South Coast Plaza
People-watching, Japanese tourists coming in by the busload, Saudi princesses using AmEx accounts that make the Black Card seem like Monopoly money, amazing Christmas displays: This is Orange County at its most ostentatiously awesome...
Best Place to Get Hair Product
Barbería El Catrín
Barbería El Catrín has graced the pages of Best Of before because of the spectacular haircuts offered there. But it's also the ideal place to stock up on all the products of Suavecito, the SanTana-based company that makes the finest pomade since Three Flowers. You'll also want to get the...
Best Residential Neighborhood
Old Towne Orange
Yes, the added "e" at the end of "Town" is a tad pretentious, but a quiet walk through the expensive quaintness of the area, its odd amalgam of architectural styles—from bungalows and Period Revival to Mediterranean to Craftsman to Victorian, to name a few—and its low, low crime rate (the...
Best Place to Avoid Downtown SanTana Gentrification
R&R Western Wear/La Casa del Sombrero
In the sea of new restaurants and upscale clothing stores sweeping East Fourth Street, R&R Western Wear/La Casa del Sombrero stands, silently daring the changing audience to come in and experience the old soul of SanTana. This Western store ain't going anywhere because this is where paisas from as far...
Best Tourist Attraction
Run by a sansei (third-generation) Japanese-American family, this 30-acre farm harvests daily, providing fresh produce for its roadside stand, and offers an hourlong wagon tour, reminding you not only where your food comes from, but also that kids still love to root around in the dirt and pick their own...
Best Swap Meet
Golden West Swap Meet
This is the one swap meet most representative of Orange County, with equal numbers of gabachos, Mexis and Viets haggling over everything from antiques to fake Levis to a box of 8-tracks. And the food scene is underrated AF...
The Grand Californian might get all the glory for the Mouse nowadays, but this old warhorse has upped its game significantly in the past couple of years, not just with new pools and lobby exhibits, but also with the time warp that is Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar. Plus, it...
Best Barber Shop
Hot Headz Barber and Beauty Shop
There's no shortage of places for guys to get a $30 haircut around the southern edge of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, with a bunch of silly rules and traditions that make everyone involved resemble prissy twits. Hot Headz Barber and Beauty Shop is the opposite: You can get an...
Best E-Juice Brand
Vape Goddess Gourmet E-Liquid
Too often, women are treated like butt sluts in the e-cig industry. Enter Vape Goddess, a company created by women with the intent to combat such idiocy. Its gourmet line of e-juice is not only flavorful and wonderful, but also features fem-positive names such as Fierce, Ginger Fetish, Spritz and...
Best Skate Shop
Programme Skate and Sound
What sets Programme Skate and Sound apart is its passion for skaters and skate culture. From bringing in pro teams to sign autographs and take photos with fans to holding impromptu skate-punk, hardcore and rap shows for free or cheap, Programme is as focused on building up the skate (and...
Best Tattoo Parlor
In addition to renowned owner Tim Hendricks, you'll find Chuco Moreno does some of the cleanest black-and-gray work anywhere and young guns such as Javier DeLuna rounding into their own as the next generation in OC's tattoo scene. With the late Eric Maaske no longer helming the place, Hendricks has...
Best Place to Get Pierced
Attached to Good Time Charlie's Tattooland, Koolsville is now run by legendary tattoo artist (and eccentric, expert storyteller) Jack Rudy. The shop also doubles as a gallery for some of Rudy's work, so even if you don't see the man himself (he's generally only there at night), you'll at least...
Paper Mint Press
The battle between digital and paper hasn't stopped since the days of Edison, but Kathleen Bantad and Emil Nguyen are changing how the new age perceives pulp. Their letterpress company reminds us why the smell of dead trees mixed with fresh ink is one to get giddy about—especially when it...
Best Adult Store
Spanky's Adult Emporium
Because a place that stocks most of the Anal'd series just never gets old...
Best Shoe Reseller
Anyone who knows a sneakerhead (or is one) knows that spending hundreds of dollars on Nike Air Yeezys and other collectibles is perfectly okay and totally not a sign of conspicuous consumption. The secret of sneakerheads who are part of the 99 percent? They shop at sneaker consignment depots such...
Best Apartment Complex
Los Alisos at Mission Viejo Luxury Apartment Homes
Situated against winding nature trails and the reflective sparkle of Lake Mission Viejo, Los Alisos seems as if it were built for those who'd like to get away, well, forever. Vegas' Mirage doesn't seem so far off when a bubbling jacuzzi and huge pool are always ready for your next...
Corazon De Vida
Corazon De Vida has served orphaned and abandoned children in Baja, Mexico, for more than 20 years, raising funds for orphanages so the kids can get sufficient nutrition, shelter and education. Founder Hilda Pacheco Taylor herself was orphaned at the age of 7 and started Corazon De Vida when she...
Best Tanning Salon
This Tustin spot has browned up pretty white girls for more than 30 years, effectively inventing the industry locally. Part of Tropic Tan's genius is in offering options: not just tanning beds, but also spray tans, lotions, even infrared services for paranoid people. Guys: A great way to pick up...
Best Body Shop
Kelly's Body Shop
Everyone in the world knows the best auto-body workers are located on a certain avenue in Tijuana, where the guys stand outside their talleres with wrenches and buckets of Bondo in hand. Kelly's Body Shop is the professional equivalent of that, its silhouetted neon car sign long a beacon for...
Best Cosmetic Surgeon
Dr. Terry J. Dubrow
From his show Botched and his cameos on The Real Housewives of OC, Dr. Terry Dubrow seems like a standup guy who truly enjoys his career and doesn't seem too much of a douche. But making his MILF-y wife Heather wear leeches? Eww . . . though we forgive you,...