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  • Best Place to Get a Video Game Before It's Released

    Games 4 U

    Opened in 1998, Games 4 U was one of the first places in South Orange County to buy and sell pre-owned video games. Now specializing in selling, buying and trading new, used and vintage video games and systems, Games 4 U holds the new distinction of being the place to go for anxious gamers who just can't wait to get… More >>
  • Best Vintage Store

    Out of Vogue

    The walls and floors in this huge vintage showroom are lined with everything you ever saw on The Wonder Years and more. This isn't a cluttered, vintage clothing-only destination. Out of Vogue is where you go when you're looking for Dansk cheese boards (those wooden beauties!), an Evelyn Ackerman tapestry, a functioning TV that reminds you of your grandma, or… More >>
  • Best Place to Decorate Your Casa

    Cantera

    If your house craves the warm, rich aesthetics of Mexico, or if it just needs a pop of color and something really cool and unique to hang on the wall, two-story boutique Cantera is there to help. From floor to ceiling, everywhere you look is an explosion of sugar skulls, Frida Kahlo portraits, elaborate mirrors, decorative crosses and candy-colored handmade… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Your Eames On

    The Vintage Collective

    Used furniture and clothing can be hip as long as previous owners haven't completely destroyed them and they aren't being sold by a sleazy dude with a comb-over. A good rule of thumb seems to be: If it's in good shape and it's more than 10 years old, label it "vintage" because the term "used" is so very last decade.… More >>
  • Best Flea Market

    Outdoor Antique and Collectible Market, Veterans Memorial Stadium

    There are only two reasons to wake up before 8 a.m. on a Sunday: church or bargain hunting. If your aspirations lean toward the latter, try heading to the mecca of all flea markets. It's held on the third Sunday of every month and hosts more than 800 dealers hawking about half a million antiques across a sprawling 20 acres.… More >>
  • Best Newsstand

    Rags

    Who says no one reads anymore? Don't tell that to Jim Kendrick, who last year opened a newspaper stand in a downtown Santa Ana nook that's literally the space below stairs—there are people fatter than the width of Rags. But this little retail space outperforms the much-larger Barnes & Noble and Borders offerings by focusing on the eclectic: obscure art… More >>
  • Best Used Bookstore

    Bookman and Bookman Too

    Now that Anaheim's legendary Book Baron is closed and Acres of Books in Long Beach is in the death throes of its months-long closing sale, the mantle of the county's best used bookstore falls upon the Bookman empire. The mothership still occupies three units in an Orange strip mall, still devotes a special section to communism, and still has almost… More >>
  • Best Nursery

    Roger's Gardens

    Perched on a hill near Fashion Island in Corona del Mar, this isn't just a nursery where you can buy plants and flowers. No exaggeration, it's a 7-acre landscaped park, a place to take a date on a pleasing stroll. It's also a high-end shop where, at Christmastime, you can find the best handmade tree ornaments in Southern California. Of… More >>
  • Best Hardware Store

    Ganahl Lumber Co.

    This chain with seven Orange County stores traces its roots back to 1884, when Austrian immigrants Christian and Frank Ganahl moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles and opened the first—and what would become the oldest—lumberyard in California. The business has been passed down to family members ever since; in 1976, the company allowed employees—cashiers, salespeople, mill workers—to become part… More >>
  • Best Mechanic

    South Coast Auto Clinic

    Your oil light (among others) has flashed for weeks, yet you fear patronizing any mechanic because of too many KNBC-TV Channel 4 exposés. Throw those fears away when visiting South Coast Auto Clinic, where affable owner Sal (like all good auto mechanics, he goes by only his first name 'cause it says it there on his blue work shirt) and… More >>
  • Arco on Euclid Street, near Trask Avenue

    Best Gas Station

    Arco on Euclid Street, near Trask Avenue

    Remember the days when you used to buy your gas based on which multinational was least evil? Neither do we. Forget that Arco is owned by British Petroleum and head toward Garden Grove. Not only is this station frequently ranked by websites that follow gas prices as selling the cheapest fuel in Orange County, but it's also next to Los… More >>
  • Best Car Wash

    Riverbend 100 Percent Hand Car Wash

    Other than the majestic views of the canyon below and million-dollar pads above, this may seem like your typical car wash with free Wi-Fi, advertising space on its billboard and those little brushes that clean interior air vents for sale near the cash register. A similar assumption can be made about the $24.99 "Chief Executive" hand wash, which a sign… More >>
  • Best Bike Shop

    Main Street Cyclery

    A man's bike is his steed—the kind of steed that doesn't crap on the floor—so one can't be expected to trust its care to just anyone. The lucky few who get the honor of caring for the beast must possess the hands of a surgeon and a knowledge of gears that rivals a civil engineer's. Dave Dunton knows this better… More >>
  • Prehistoric Pets

    Best Pet Store

    Prehistoric Pets

    A trip to this pet store nestled in an ordinary strip mall is like a trip to the zoo—a strange, freaky, kinda-scary zoo. Giant desert tortoises greet you from atop their hay and heat-lamped enclosure, while boa constrictors and anacondas hang out with bunny-stomach bulges in the snake section of Prehistoric Pets. Another corner of the store houses giant lizards… More >>
  • Best Name for a Pet Store

    The Puppy Shop Boys

    C'mon.… More >>
  • Best Place to See People Put Fuzzy Sweaters on Their Dogs Even When It's 70 Degrees Outside

    Muttropolis

    This fancy dog-clothing-and-accessories store inside Fashion Island regularly hosts portrait sessions. And the line always stretches across the store. It's really a great place to see tiny dogs stuffed into anything from ballerina costumes to leather vests and to poke at doggie T-shirts and sweat shirts more expensive than your own T-shirts and sweat shirts. Also: Where else can you… More >>
  • Best Toy Store

    The Star Trader

    First of all, screw George Lucas. Seriously, right in the ear. Hey, George, how do you sleep at night? "Why, on a mountain of $100,000 bills," he replies, "and pillows made extra-fluffy by stuffing them with the charred remains of millions of childhood fantasies. The smoky smell, you get used to it. Why do you ask?" GOD, what an asshole.… More >>
  • Best Health-Food Store

    Mother's Market

    Welcome to a modern-day, health-conscious incarnation of that friend's house we all went to as kids, where a doting mom would take us into her home, stuff us with homemade treats as if we were her own kids, and then send us on our way, dreaming of our next visit. The only difference, really, is that almost everything at Mother's… More >>
  • Best Surf Shop

    Swell.com

    As all serious surfers know, the last place you want to buy a surfboard is at a surf shop. They're basically overpriced window dressings aimed at making customers think they're buying into the surfing lifestyle when they're really interested in shopping for clothes, which is what makes up the bulk of sales revenue at any so-called "surf shop." Which is… More >>
  • Best Masseur

    Jess Dyrenforth

    The only happy ending (wah-wah-waaaaah!) you'll get with Jess Dyrenforth is a smile after his expert hands have released all the tension from your poor muscles, tendons, ligaments and thoughts. Armed with multiple degrees in holistic arts, Dyrenforth charges reasonable rates—considering he can cure even the trickiest of backs and stave off carpal tunnel indefinitely. But don't think he's some… More >>
  • Best Hair Salon

    Split Ends

    You can tell from the minute you try your damnedest to find a parking space in the tiny, tiny lot that this place is going to be as hip as the clientele. And it is. But not pretentiously so. As soon as you walk into the always-cool all-white interior (with splashes of red), the gals there will greet you and… More >>
  • Best Manicure

    Kréme de la Kréme Nail Lounge

    We're more than guilty of falling for the $15 manicure/pedicure and choosing to not acknowledge the possibility of gangrene, so splurging on a little pampering every once in a while isn't so bad, right? Kréme de la Kréme Nail Lounge is nestled in a burgeoning area of Long Beach—right next to the Kids Are Alright boutique and across the street(ish)… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy a Bar of Chocolate Soap

    Shades of Afrika

    When you walk into this boutique, the city outside drops away like a bad tour guide. The dark-wood paneling housing an impressive, esoteric African books collection and the cosmetic section (candles, soaps, oils) with imports from around the world all combine to make a visit to the recently relocated shop a welcome escape. Open-mic nights are a regular lively event,… More >>
  • Best Sex Shop

    Pink Kitty

    "Fun" and "sex" aren't words one often hears in the same sentence as "Irvine." But the only sex shop in Irvine is where to find the two together. Pink Kitty owner Alysia Pardo started working at a sex-toy shop to support herself while studying at UC Irvine; in January 2007, a decade after earning her degree, she bought the shop,… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Pierced

    Tommy T's

    For almost 20 years, locals who live for rebellion have been coming to Tommy T's to get their fix of shiny flesh accessories. This body-piercing haven was the first of its kind in OC and has since maintained a solid reputation among the locals of Huntington Beach. Walk-ins are always welcome, and things move pretty quickly around there. That means… More >>
  • OC Tattoo

    Best Tattoo Parlor

    OC Tattoo

    You might think all tattoo parlors are alike, but this one, located in Westminster since 2003, is multilingual. The helpful staff, according to the company's website, is fluent in English, Swedish, Hungarian, "Filipino," Spanish and "Guatemala." How's that for diversity? OC Tattoo does not discriminate against customers, except those under 18: You cannot get a tattoo here if you're a… More >>
  • Best Place to Get That Tattoo Removed

    Tat2BeGone

    Now that the tequila has been flushed from your system, or you finally broke up with what's-his-name, you're officially ready to pay a visit (or, if you're unlucky, numerous visits) to Orange County's top tattoo-removal service. It's also a great place to go if you are considering getting a tattoo: On a board inside the otherwise-nondescript lobby is a selection… More >>
  • Best Liquor Store

    Hi-Time Wine Cellar

    Confession: We don't really know much about liquor. We just know we like it. So if you've got a good dinner going on, or a certain drink you'd like to attempt to make, plan on making a trip to Hi-Time. No snooty clerks here—only a friendly, knowledgeable staff await. The sheer size of the place is impressive, with a huge… More >>
  • Best Smoke Shop

    The Glass Garden

    Huntington Beach, with its emphasis on surf/beach culture and its beautiful, psychedelic sunsets, is arguably the smoke capital of Orange County. Which means that any smoke shop within the city limits needs to be quality to survive. The Glass Garden features an outstanding and unique selection of truly quality glassware with which to smoke your favorite non-felonious flavored-tobacco blend; many… More >>
  • Best Record/CD Store

    Fingerprints

    Every year, as more and more record stores disappear, the potential selections for this category get slimmer and slimmer. As long as Fingerprints is around, other record stores will still have a tough contender to beat. For 16 years now, Fingerprints has prided itself on the knowledge of its staff (asking applicants to fill out a music survey separates the… More >>
  • Best Punk-Rock Record Store

    TKO Records

    The world mostly knows TKO as a label peddling quality punk rock from acts such as Antiseen, Cock Sparrer and CH3. But the company bucked conventional wisdom and prevailing music-biz woes and opened a brick-and-mortar shop in October 2007. This bold move seems to be paying off for old-school consumers who prefer to, you know, speak with actual human clerks… More >>
  • Best Used-CD Store

    SecondSpin

    The way things are going for music retail, this category may be irrelevant by next year. So, all you holdouts from the MP3 revolution, enjoy SecondSpin's bounty of used CDs while you can. Because it offers the most money to patrons selling their unwanted compact discs, this Costa Mesa shop consequently has built a voluminous, strong collection of albums in… More >>
  • Best Piece of West Coast Hip-Hop History

    VIP Records

    It doesn't have the best selection in the world, unless you just so happen to be looking for soul or West Coast gangsta rap—but who cares? This place will be forever remembered for its cameo in the Snoop Dogg "Who Am I?" video, in which Long Beach native Snoop rapped from the roof to adoring masses below. True story: Someone… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Something Pretty for Less Than $50

    No Rest for Bridget

    Let's face it, not many of us have the luxury of blowing hundreds of dollars on a single clothing item. With locations at Bella Terra in Huntington Beach and the 17th Street Promenade in Costa Mesa, this super-girly boutique lines its walls with feminine, flowy silhouettes and fabrics that may look luxe and expensive—yet most pieces confoundingly fit in the… More >>
  • Best Shoe Store

    Blends

    Going to Blends is like getting a private peek inside a rapper's fantasy shoe closet. Except, instead of pristinely layered rows of shoes on shelves, these sneakers are displayed in a faux grocery-store freezer—just one of the store's many cool elements. The boutique only carries limited-edition sneaks, but you'll find more than Ice Creams in this freezer. Blends also sells… More >>
  • Best Quinceanera Shop

    Rosa's Bridal

    The corner of Fourth Street and Broadway in downtown Santa Ana is a magical place for young ladies looking for a quinceañera dress. Shop after shop, poofy, frilly dresses take over nearly every window on the street. One store stands out among the masses, though: Rosa's Bridal. There's something to be said for amazing customer service, and the ladies who… More >>
  • Molly Brown\'s

    Best Swimsuit Store

    Molly Brown's

    The diminutive store on Newport Boulevard doesn't seem like it would hold much merchandise, but Molly Brown's carries an amazing selection of designer swimwear: Vitamin A, Obadash, Vix, Salinas, Ondademar and Modern Amusement are just a few of the brands carried here. Besides, how much space do you need to store some shimmering, skimpy fabric? The cozy space also makes… More >>
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