Best of 2018 – Winners

Best of 2018

Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Club DJ

    Funk Freaks

    For these Costa Mesa DJs, Funk Freaks are more than a hipster attempt at nostalgia. This is a lifestyle built on endless crate-digging, online scouring and dealing with record collectors around the world for the next song that’s destined to slap you silly on the dance floor at spots such as Original Mike’s and Marty’s On Newport. In the past few years, their brand has gone international. Locals are drawn to the boogie and modern soul selections, as well as live performances from the old-school pioneers of the genre.

  • Best Experimental Band


    Led by classically trained cellist Emmanuel Ventura-Cruess, EMAEL blend experiments with the weirder side of R&B to fashion eclectic, jazzy grooves with a nod to his roots. The five-piece band blur the lines between electronic textures and instrumentation that can be as soft as it is explosive. That’s a lot to take in—though hopefully not too much to make you forget that at the end of the day, they’re just a solid-ass band.

  • Best Festival

    OC Funk Fest

    You know a local festival has finally arrived when it’s filling seats in a house usually reserved for Kanye West and Ducks games. But even before its biggest year to date, George Sanchez of Curious Entertainment knew OC Funk Fest had something special. This year’s event only confirmed it. Summoning acts from the Bible of Lowrider culture and the pantheon of ’80s electro funk, the lineup included Morris Day and the Time, the Bar-kays, Dazz Band, Con Funk Shun, the Original Mary Jane Girls, even hometown legend O’Bryan. It was a crowning achievement that didn’t happen without years of dedicated fans piling in the stands and bringing the house down at gradually bigger and bigger venues, a testament to the everlasting power of the funk—long may it live.

  • Best Live Band

    Death Hymn Number 9

    Even if we know it’s the last time we can elect them since the band played their final shows this year, it’s worth singing Death Hymn Number 9’s praises from the grave. Going out on nine years strong (eerie, huh?), this Fullerton band made a mark on the scene by burning it to the ground after ripping the flesh from its bones and spitting blood in its face. Whether they were bashing their gear or diving head-first into the crowd, the group’s psychotic pursuit of a good time always left fans with a story to tell. Even those times when Death Hymn smelled even more violently than they played (they never seemed to wash their bloody T-shirts), their music and their attitude will continue to set them apart from the rest of local music until their dying breath.

  • Best Indie Band


    Channeling the roots of riot grrrl riffs through spacey reverb and hyper-literate lyrics, Slice have a way of making a complex song about existential woe sound like a day at the park. The female-fronted quartet of LGBT musicians found their footing after members migrated from OC to Long Beach. Since the trio of vocalist/guitarist Megan Magiera, bassist Barbara Barrera and drummer Kelsey Landazuri expanded to include Alex Hattick on keyboards, their sound has stood out in the city’s local scene. Check out songs such as “Horchata Teeth” and “Strata,” released on their self-titled EP in March.

  • Best New Band


    More than clever chords or rhythmic rage, Chicano punk comes down to feel. For new(-ish) OC band Stormhouse, capturing the kitschy soundtrack of a grindhouse movie you can dance to at your abuela’s backyard party is sort of the best feeling there is. When Santa Ana native Noel Becerra teamed up with OC Weekly photographer/drummer extraordinaire Isaac Larios, bassist Ozzy Chong and dynamite singer Markie Medina, the perfect storm was born. This year, the band’s long-awaited debut EP, Tfel (that’s “Left” spelled backward for you non-dyslexics), recorded by legendary wingnut wizard Mike McHugh, put them in the right position to unleash their special brand of eclectic electricity, which strikes at the heart of where punk rock is now.

  • Best Rapper

    Yung Pinch

    He may be “yung,” but he’s still the only rapper in OC big enough to have his face on a billboard on Pacific Coast Highway in his native “Bluntington Beach.” With a trademark mane of Tarzan locks, the rapper born Blake Sandoval continues to rise as Yung Pinch with the release of this year’s surfside slapper “Piña Colada,” “Sail Away” and “This My Wave.” Combining contemporary beats, a sing-songy flow and memorable hooks with the right amount of mumble, the trap is set for Pinch to catch even more recognition.

  • Best Venue for Live Music

    Garden Amp

    It would be enough for Garden Amp to win this category simply for giving us a reason to go to Garden Grove (other than when we’re hungry). Typically known as the home of the Shakespeare and Strawberry festivals, Jon Reiser and his team moved into the multipurpose venue—which includes a 600-seat amphitheater, a 150-capacity space dubbed the Locker Room and a massive outdoor area where the High and Mighty Festival drew more than 10,000 reggae rock fans last summer—to cultivate its assets and bring huge, unexpected shows to a sleeper city that finally seems to be waking up.
    12762 Main St.
    Garden Grove – 949.415.8544

  • Best Jazz Band

    Derek Bordeaux

    If you follow OC’s jazz scene, then you know Derek Bordeaux and his band have been tearing the covers off cover songs and breathing soul into jazz standards for years. The local, vocal powerhouse is king of making the roof jump wherever he performs, from the Newport Beach Jazz Festival to gigs at Spaghettini. He and his band of virtuoso siblings and longtime friends can still turn any cougar den or fancy dinner party into a smooth-jazz rager, which is actually much more exciting than it sounds if you enjoy getting lit to the tunes of George Benson and Luther Vandross.

  • Best Tribute Band

    Yachtley Crew

    Some might think yacht rock’s glory days sailed away decades ago, but every time this OC crew of skippers docks at the House of Blues, fans of Steely Dan, Hall & Oates, and the Eagles come out and party. Blending cheeky stage banter with solid songs from yesteryear and plenty of seamen (um, at least when it comes to their clothing), Yachtley Crew are the Steel Panther of the high seas, and we’re glad to hear ’em whenever they float into town with drinks in their hands and a shipload of cover songs.

  • Best Politicians

    Women of Congress

    In the Year of the Woman, Orange County could end up with more female members of Congress than males. In November’s general election, three congressional districts—the 46th, 47th and 48th—have incumbents and challengers with penises, but OC’s other four districts boast women in the races. Two of those are locks to send females to D.C. Popular incumbent Linda Sanchez (D-Lakewood) will again defeat Republican Ryan Downing in the 38th, a mostly southeastern Los Angeles County district that also includes the small OC city of La Palma. Even if incumbent Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) loses in the 45th, the winner will be a woman (Democrat Katie Porter). Making it four-for-four would require two Republican women to defeat two Democratic men in districts currently represented by male GOP veterans: Young Kim aims to succeed her former boss, Ed Royce (R-Brea), in the 38th, while Diane Harkey hopes to follow Darrell Issa (R-Vista) in the 49th, where she has won his endorsement.

  • Best Actor

    Noah Wagner

    The structure of Tom Jacobson’s play within many plays, The Twentieth Century Way, made it both appealing and a mystery to unravel—as did Noah Wagner’s performance as the older of two actors hired by the Long Beach Police Department in 1914 to entrap any gay men who committed the crime of being gay in the city. Like his acting counterpart, Christian Jordan Skinner, Wagner played a ridiculous number of characters in the two-person Long Beach Playhouse production, sometimes shifting roles mid-sentence. More impressive than the number of roles, however, was his riveting performance as Warren, the artist turned undercover snitch. He was charismatic and likeable but oozed a kind of seething menace. You never knew what hand he was playing, or whether he was even playing a hand. But obviously he was. Wasn’t he?

  • Best Actress

    Susannah Rogers

    For South Coast Repertory’s production of Shrew!, Susannah Rogers played the titular character in Amy Freed’s 21st-century revisionist take on Shakespeare’s classic. But she also played the female playwright helping Shakespeare salvage his terribly male-centric play and stood in for the real writer—Freed herself. The fact she kept her bearings and delivered a multifaceted and complex performance in a play in which, for some 400 years, Kate has usually been object rather than subject, was a credit not only to Freed’s script, but also Rogers’ superlative performance.

  • Best Musical Production

    Cambodian Rock Band

    No, this wasn’t a straight-up musical, but Lauren Yee’s world-premiere play about the ghosts of 1970s Cambodia intruding upon the present with a vengeance belongs in this issue somewhere. And why not musical? There were eight songs in the South Coast Repertory show, seven of them originals by Dengue Fever, a Los Angeles-based band with a Cambodian lead singer. All those songs, imbued with the American surf music and psychedelia sounds that permeated Cambodia until the mid-1970s, were performed by the six-person cast, four of whom played instruments. There was a lot more to Yee’s play than the tunes, but the music absolutely amplified and informed its concerns—and it was bitchen to hear it all played live.

  • Best New Play

    Kill Climate Deniers

    While Amy Freed’s Shrew! at South Coast Repertory was definitely a ringer, it also had the resources of that theater behind it. So why not our favorite group of Long Beachians, Garage Theatre, who secured the rights to be the first theater to mount the international ruckus that was Kill Climate Deniers years before it was first produced? The Breitbarts of the world pilloried the Australian writer for the title alone, but co-directors Ashley Elizabeth Allen and Matthew Anderson were adamant that the play dealt more with our increasing political polarization than actually killing the kind of people who should die.

  • Best Theater or Playhouse

    South Coast Repertory

    No, it’s not fair. It has the longest history, the most established pedigree, the biggest subscriber base, and by far the most money. It uses actors you may even recognize! But now heading into its 55th year, SCR feels as if it has a pep in its step that nothing that old should have. Its 2017-18 season featured pieces by noted writers such as Tom Stoppard, Wendy Wasserstein and August Wilson, but it also included five world premieres. The new playwrights were of multiple ethnicities, genders and age ranges, and their concerns reflected that; it was one of the most diverse, if not the most diverse, seasons in SCR’s history, a fitting way for Marc Masterson to cap his seven-year run as the theater’s first artistic director who wasn’t also a founder.
    655 Town Center Dr.
    Costa Mesa – 714.708.5555

  • Best Theatrical Ensemble

    Big Fish

    Director Oanh Nguyen flawlessly directed this musical adaptation of the 2003 Tim Burton-helmed film for the Chance Theater. Everything about it was stellar—except the story. But that wasn’t the fault of this exceptional ensemble. Whether called upon to act in the fantastic memory/dream sequences of the flawed man and storyteller at its heart (played superbly by Jeff Lowe) or more down-to-Earth people in the real world, the cast worked seamlessly together, the individual members never stealing focus or taking a Big Moment.

  • Best Play

    Dreamers: Aquí y Allá

    It’s rare that a new play—hell, any play—feels as relevant, poignant and important as this superlative effort. Presented by the graduate-level arm of Cal State Long Beach’s theater department, California Repertory, the piece was conceived by Andrea Caban with plenty of assistance from the actors whose story this truly was: some 30 Dreamers who participated in CSULB professor Armando Vazquez-Ramos’ California-Mexico study-abroad program. Though literally ripped from the headlines and suffused with an unmistakable call to action among voters to kick the racists out in the upcoming midterm elections, the play succeeded because it wasn’t noisy, tone-deaf agit-prop theater. Its agenda was a human one: to show that the so-called Dreamers, as with any group, are comprised of individuals with their own hopes, dreams, fears and stories. By focusing on those stories, the cast and other creators succeeded in telling one hugely important part of America’s collective story.

  • Best Art Gallery

    Fourth Element Gallery

    Art galleries come and go in Orange County with the blink of an ego. While Fourth Element has only been around for a few months, we’re not going out on much of a limb by saying that the work we’ve seen is intriguing and challenging. If curator Laura Black continues to secure the talent she has so far, we expect she’ll break the gallery losing streak that downtown Santa Ana is known for.

    210 N. Broadway Ave.
    Santa Ana – 657.232.0002

  • Best Art Museum

    Hilbert Museum of California Art

    A first-time appearance on our list, the museum has come a long way since it opened in 2016. What began as a repository for depressing, brown, narrative paintings has blossomed into a more colorful, lively, occasionally even experimental space for art. Under the watchful eye of director Mary Platt, its most recent exhibitions have included dynamic landscapes from artist Eyvind Earle, Star Wars art from Lucasfilm artist Robert Bailey, surf-culture paintings by John Severson and Rick Griffin, recent work by oil painter and former OC resident Bradford J. Salamon, as well as film cells and preparatory drawings from various Disney animators.
    167 N. Atchison St.
    Orange – 714.516.5880

  • Best Curator

    Mike McGee

    Orange County, especially Santa Ana, owes a lot to Mike McGee, a man whose résumé reads like a list of what we want to be when we grow up. From the Cal State Fullerton website, where he is the director of the Nicholas & Lee Begovich Gallery, an art professor, and head of the museum studies/exhibition design graduate program, we discovered that he has organized more than 200 exhibitions (more than a handful of which we’ve seen and fallen in love with); he’s written essays and exhibition catalogs; he’s founding board member of Arts Orange County and the City of Santa Ana Arts Commission; he was president of the board of trustees at the Orange County Center for Community Art; and he founded Grand Central Art Center. We’re grateful for his hard work over the years, his introduction of so much great art to the county, and his patronage of different local artists. It wouldn’t be the same without him.

  • Best Public Art

    Connector by Richard Serra

    Commissioned in 2006 by the late Henry Segerstrom, we love every inch of this 65-foot-tall steel sculpture. Resting in the courtyard between the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and the Concert Hall, Connector resembles weather-beaten giants leaning in for a rusty embrace, even with its sharp edges. We can identify.

    600 Town Center Dr.
    Costa Mesa

  • Best Visual Artist

    Kerri Sabine-Wolf

    An image of a man in a shooting stance, arms extended, pistol in both hands, his face swathed in a bouquet of butterflies. This is the world that Tustin painter Kerri Sabine-Wolf lives in, and when you look at her work, you’re right there with her. Once interviewed for a column in a local magazine, her painting Butterfly Effect was rejected as too alienating to its readers. The piece was then submitted and rejected at the Great Park Gallery for similar reasons. In August, it won first place at the Irvine Fine Arts Center’s “All-Media 2018.” The piece speaks to so many things about our current gun crisis and does so without any overt politics—just counteracting the ugliness with beauty. The painting can be seen at Irvine Fine Arts Center (14321 Yale Ave., Irvine, 949-724-6880; through Oct. 27, 2019.

    Instagram: @ksabinewolf/

  • Best Karaoke

    Big’s American Sports Bar & Grill

    During the day, enjoy a plate of buffalo wings and chicken strips with your kids, but after 9 p.m., send the rascals home in an Uber and enjoy a night full of drunks performing butchered versions of Livin’ On a Prayer. Every Tuesday and Thursday, Big’s American Sports Bar & Grill hosts lively karaoke nights with a crowd of all ages, including a plethora of Cal State Fullerton students. Both days include late-night happy-hour deals, but only Tuesday’s come with $2 Coronas and Pacificos. So, take a load off during the hectic workweek and drive over to Big’s for some TLC while listening to a gnarly rendition of TLC’s Waterfalls.
    323 N. State College Blvd.
    Fullerton – 714.526.4950

  • Best Newspaper

    Fullerton Observer

    Pound for pound, Fullerton Observer is the best free citywide paper in all of Orange County. Longtime editor Sharon Kennedy, the daughter of Observer founder Ralph Kennedy, and her dedicated troupe of reporters, columnists and editors—which includes such movers and shakers as Jane Rands, Matt Leslie and Jesse La Tour (who also happens to be the founder of the Fullerton Art Walk, owner of the Hibbletown Gallery, Fullerton historian and badass DJ at Mulberry Street)—somehow flourish in a time of lean print journalism. The community paper, now in its 40th year, continuously and consistently punches above its weight class, putting out content that’s relevant, well-researched and interesting every two weeks. And it’s even free, ya cheap bastards, so pick up a copy next time you walk by a stand in Fullerton.

  • Best Nightclub

    Mullberry Street Ristorante’s Anti-Club Night

    While out-of-town chuckleheads and college kids are chucking up their fifth Adios at the bars of downtown Fullerton, the real Fullerton/North County locals are at Mulberry Street every night after sundown. They skip the long lines and cover charges to instead enjoy the night at Mulberry’s “anti-club” while sipping cocktails shaken by bartender Kevin Malone and listening to Mr. Fullerton himself Jesse La Tour spin obscure records as the colorful cast of characters from the Fullerton art colony chain smoke out front. The only thing missing from this place these days is a loud, late-night cameo appearance from the Einstein-esque (in both looks and intelligence) artist Bax Baxter!
    114 W. Wilshire Ave.
    Fullerton – 714.525.1056

  • Best Local Celebrity

    Michael Avenatti

    This Newport Beach-based attorney who also owns a house on Lido sprang onto the national scene this year by representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against Donald Trump. He used the suit as a springboard to become a talking head on all the cable-news channels and transformed himself into something of a deus ex machina, the bete noire of our spray-tan president and a future possible candidate for the top office himself. Go get ’em, boyo!
    520 Newport Center Dr., Ste. 1400
    Newport Beach – 949.706.7000

  • Best Local Music Festival

    Music Tastes Good

    Each year, Music Tastes Good continues to up its game. So it was no surprise that 2018’s food lineup was just as good as the musical one. Each version has delivered an expanded, more inclusive taste tent, allowing attendees to expand their culinary tastes via samples from a lineup of talented chefs, local and not. Pair the bites with the musical act of your choice, and you’re guaranteed a great time!

  • Best Cultural Center

    Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens

    This historic gem, with its magical Spanish mansion and water-wise gardens overlooking the sea, is a powerhouse in cultural programming. Art, music, theater, dance, horticulture and literary events happen year-round in the grand salon, central courtyard and Pacific-view terrace. Casa Romantica brings the work of international artists from as far away as Rwanda and as close as Baja to its gallery. Local dancers and theater-makers are routinely commissioned to create site-specific works that get the audience moving throughout the grounds and into nooks, octagonal rooms and the amphitheater. Free programming for kids includes a two-week intensive music conservatory in the summers, plus storytelling and dance and arts workshops. Every year, Casa’s calendar gets fuller and richer in scope.
    415 Avenida Granada
    San Clemente – 949.498.2139

  • Best Hip-Hop Act

    Apollo Bebop

    Who got the jazz? Apollo Bebop got the jazz! Since forming in Santa Ana three years ago, the live hip-hop group bring daft musicality to a scene sorely in need. The quintet dropped their first full-length album, Still Learnin’, this year, a 10-track collection on which rapper Brian Gomez seamlessly rhymes over the band’s vibes. DeAndre Grover’s talent summons nostalgia for a time in hip-hop when saxophone samples defined a catchy chorus. Dom Cruz and Chris Trimmer keeps things slinky in the groove on guitar and bass. Donovan Cruz, the youngster in the group, is a future Art Blakey meets Questlove. Together, these cats possess chops that would’ve fit in smoothly at Steamers in Fullerton in its heyday just as easily as at any hip-hop venue in town. Apollo Bebop is cool like that, you dig?


  • Best Indie Film Theater

    The Frida Cinema

    You don’t have to be a stiff art-house nerd to enjoy what the Frida Cinema screens on a daily basis—although if you are, your tastes are easily catered to. What other film theater do you know of that holds genre all-nighters, quickly assembles screenings of movies featuring recently deceased stars, hosts experimental films scored by local bands, holds themed art shows in its lobby every month, has awesome murals covering its walls, arranges free screenings of nationally televised political events, brings excellent film festivals every year, and sells general-admission seats for the lowest price around? Not sure what we did to deserve the Frida, but we’re glad it’s here to stay.
    305 E. Fourth St.
    Santa Ana – 714.285.9422

  • Best Drag Show

    Hamburger Mary’s

    Your eyes and ears are simply not ready for the fabulousness in store from all the amazing drag queens werking, twerking and death-dropping their padded asses off onstage. From the Dream Girls revue to the Façade Drag Show to Mary’s Cabaret, everyone from the performers to the friendly staff provide an invigorating energy and chummy atmosphere that make you feel entertained and welcome at the same time. Not only will you encounter queens sashaying and lip-syncing to songs in front of the audience, but oftentimes, they’ll circle the room and engage with audiences, yuk it up with jokes and banter, all while dressed to the nines in the most epic, showstopping costumes and makeup. Maybe you’ll see a RuPaul’s Drag Race alum, or maybe you’ll see a queen perform a mind-blowing rendition of a song you love—either way, it’s never a dull night. Don’t forget to bring cash to tip the queens!
    330 Pine Ave.
    Long Beach – 562.436.7900

  • Best Political Protest

    Anti-Arpaio Protest in Yorba Linda

    In these Trump times, there’s no shortage of outrages to hit the pavement. From the Women’s March 2.0 to displaying disgust at family separations at the border, the resistance in OC has its walking shoes on. But an unlikely epicenter erupted in conservative Yorba Linda when its City Council teamed with the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a bona-fide hate group, to advance Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ lawsuit against California’s “sanctuary” laws. In this milieu, congressional candidate Phil Liberatore (and wannabe Trump) invited pardoned criminal, ex-Maricopa County sheriff and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Arpaio to town for a rally. Protesters from various groups vastly outnumbered Know Nothings—yes, in Yorba Linda! They denounced anti-immigrant policies and blew up an inflatable Rooster Trump to keep things fun. Liberatore and Arpaio’s bids for elected office ended as deflated as the hot-air likeness of the president after the protest.

  • Best Movie Theater

    Regency Theatres Directors Cut Cinema

    While more theaters are making reserved seating the norm, Regency makes up for its first-come, first-serve policy by leveling up in every other way. Café-quality eats are freshly prepared and delivered to your seat. The extra attention paid to the bathrooms and extensive lobby area is noticeable. And you’ll often find limited-release movies and sweet flashback films playing. The county is lucky to have such a gem.
    25741 Rancho Niguel Rd.
    Laguna Niguel – 949.831.4359

  • Best Rock Band

    The Growlers

    If you are younger than 50 years old and haven’t listened to the Growlers, then you are missing out on one of the most insanely fun music phenomenons in recent SoCal history: beach Goth. Although there are a few other local bands that are part of the scene, such as the Allah-lahs, beach Goth—a mix of surf rock, sea shanties and psychedelic music—will always be identified with the Growlers. Their early music, consisting of a somewhat tighter lineup but constricted by garage-quality acoustics, is worth exploring, particularly their debut, Are You In or Out?, as well as their third offering, Hung at Heart. Their constant evolution in sound and production lead to their biggest hit yet, City Club. Check them out at the next beach-Goth fest near you and feel the vapors!

  • Best Record Label

    Rad Cat Records

    One of the biggest things you learn about covering the Orange County music scene is to not overlook its quietest areas. The fact that Mike and Casey Condia are running a rock-music label out of one of OC’s sleepier cities is not only a well-kept secret (until now), but also an appropriately trippy contradiction. Their office and home are hardly reflective of the colorful, often-surreal sounds of their Rad Cat Records. Perhaps best known for albums from its marquee artist, Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel—as well as Gantez, Hammered Satin, Spendtime Palace and Chinese Wax Job—the label, founded officially in October 2014, finds a way to thrive as a small-time operation that’s far greater than the sum of its parts.

  • Best Radio Station

    KOCI-FM 101.5

    Imagine a world where you can enjoy cool, seldom-heard tunes from legendary artists instead of music made for uncles washing their red Trans Ams in their driveways (think “Highway to Hell” or “Don’t Stop Believin'” AGAIN). Luckily for us, KOCI-FM 101.5 broadcasts from a high-rise building in the bougie part of Newport-Mesa and is the closest thing Orange County has to pirate or college radio from the 1970s. Thanks to this independent, freeform radio station, we get to soak in the best B-sides and rarities from Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Stealers Wheel, Bob Dylan and more without hearing “Another Brick In the Wall” or “People Are Strange” for the zillionth time. It’s like Little Steven’s Underground Garage for those of us too cheap to pony up for a satellite-radio subscription.

  • Best Punk Band

    The Grinns

    Blending surf rock with melodic pop-punk, the Grinns splashed onto the OC punk-rock scene with a sound that’s perfect whether you’re grabbing an IPA at Pizza Port in San Clemente or catching an autumn swell at river jetties. Earlier this year, they played at San Diego’s You are Going to Hate This Festival with local pop-punk royalty Together Pangea and the Frights. Check out their debut digital album, Golden Hour, which debuted in January and is available on Bandcamp.

  • Best Strip Joint

    Fritz That’s It!

    Yeah, it’s true that Fritz That’s It in Anaheim is far from the Ritz of titty bars, but if it’s good enough for all the major-league athletes in town wanting to unwind after they beat the Angels, music-industry bigwigs in town hoping to get a little nooky during NAMM and all the naughty nerds from Blizzard Entertainment looking for a break from the annual BlizzCon down the road, then it’s good enough for you!
    710 E Katella Ave.
    Anaheim – 714.978.1828

  • Best Podcast

    I Know But . . .

    In the era of emails and text messages, I Know But . . . has taken on the epic task of indulging in the art of conversation. The dream team of Niyaz Pirani and Jeff Fliegler have spoken with some of Orange County’s most interesting movers and shakers. You can ruminate on the importance of tradition with Pascal Olhats, one of the most revered chefs in OC. You can talk tiki with Costa Mesa’s tiki ambassador and lead singer of the Hula Girls, Spike Marble. And—shameless self-plug—you even can get to know several Weeklings, including Long Beach Lunch columnist Sarah Bennett, music maestro Nate Jackson and local historian Taylor Hamby.

  • Best Museum

    Discovery Cube Orange County

    Whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart, you can spend HOURS at this constantly innovating campus. Easily spotted thanks to its giant, solar-panel-lined cube, the museum hosts permanent learning experiences about dinosaurs, space exploration, hockey, ecology, water and more. And the rotating exhibits keep things interesting; currently, you can try your hand at being part of a pride while discovering new information about lions on the African Savanna. There are regular stage shows and 3D screenings, plus seasonal parties. During the winter holidays, the gingerbread-creation contest is both epic and not to be missed.
    2500 N. Main St.
    Santa Ana – 714.542.2823

  • Best Quote

    Tony Rackauckas

    “We’re not backing down or walking on eggshells.” Unaware he was being recorded, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas boasts that chronic prosecutorial misconduct in his office will continue if he wins a sixth term in November’s election against challenger Todd Spitzer.

  • Best Venue for Live Comedy

    Anchor Bar

    Breaking into standup comedy is possibly the most uncomfortable undertaking known to humanity. Only a masochist would willingly stand onstage and flounder through five minutes of “new material” while 50 faces remain motionless through every punchline. For those brave (or stupid) fools, there’s no better starting place than the Anchor Bar, with its friendly, ready-to-laugh crowd. Every Monday night, Evan “the Cass Man” Cassidy hosts a crew of new standups amidst the tikis, fish nets and half-nude paintings.

    2675 Irvine Ave.
    Costa Mesa – 949.574.4995

  • Best Place for Country Music / Line Dancing

    Cowboy Country Saloon

    Being a country music fan in SoCal can be hard, but Cowboy Country Saloon is an authentic, refreshing escape from standard nightclubs. Inside the huge barn, you’ll find a mix of both old and new music on multiple dance floors—and if you get there early enough, you can even learn some new moves.
    3321 E. South St.
    Long Beach – 562.630.3007

  • Best Club DJ

    DJ Rome
  • Best Live Band

    Flashback Heart Attack

  • Best Indie Band

  • Best New Band

    Whiskey & the Wolves
  • Best Venue for Live Music

    The Observatory
    3503 S. Harbor Blvd.
    Santa Ana – 714.957.0600

  • Best Politician

    Harley Rouda
  • Best Musical Production

    The Rocky Horror Picture Show shadowcast at the Frida Cinema
  • Best Theater or Playhouse

    Long Beach Playhouse
    5021 E. Anaheim St.
    Long Beach – 562.494.1014

  • Best Play

    The Book of Mormon
  • Best Art Gallery

    Living Room Salon & Art Gallery
    125 Rochester St.
    Costa Mesa – 949.631.0808

  • Best Art Museum

    Bowers Museum
    2002 N. Main St.
    Santa Ana

  • Best Karaoke

    House of Blues at Anaheim GardenWalk
    400 Disney Way, Ste. 337
    Anaheim – 714.778.2583

  • Best Nightclub

    MDA Wednesdays at La Cave
    1695 Irvine Ave.
    Costa Mesa – 949.646.7944

  • Best Local Celebrity

    Gwen Stefani
  • Best Local Music Festival

    Ohana Music Festival

  • Best Indie Film Theater

    The Frida Cinema
    305 E. Fourth St.
    Santa Ana – 714.285.9422

  • Best Movie Theater

    The Frida Cinema
    305 E. Fourth St.
    Santa Ana – 714.285.9422

  • Best Rock Band

    Harlis Sweetwater Band
  • Best Radio Station

    KROQ-FM 106.7

  • Best Punk Band

  • Best Strip Joint

    The Library Gentlemen’s Club
    1421 N. State College Blvd.
    Anaheim – 714.808.8500

  • Best Podcast

    Granted Radio

  • Best Museum

    Aquarium of the Pacific
    100 Aquarium Way
    Long Beach

  • Best Venue for Live Comedy

    Irvine Improv
    527 Spectrum Center Dr.
    Irvine – 949.854.5455

  • Best Place for Country Music / Line Dancing

    THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon
    1025 E. Ball Rd., Ste. 101A
    Anaheim – 714.817.4200