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❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011


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“Our sincerest thanks for your continued support and kind words.” – James & Joe Halsell “With our credibility on the line, we highly recommend them to our friends because we know they are a company with integrity and honesty; and are experts in their field. If Halsell Builders do it – you know it will be done right!” – Julie & Jim Colegrove | “I chose Halsell Builders because they came in with the lowest bid and the quickest turnaround. They helped with all the building and DESIGN. They built me a phenomenal house!” – Dan Frigon | “We have had a room addition and a remodel completed by Halsell Builders and we could not be more pleased.” – Tom & Debbie Goeres | “A note of thanks and appreciation for building us the coolest garage anywhere. The county inspector went out of his way to tell us that our builder was doing and exceptionally high quality job.” – Dan & Sue Horwood | “Your suggestions and recommendations before and during the process were invaluable to achieving the results we desired but could not quite envision in detail ourselves prior to consulting with you.” – Mr. & Mrs. Steve Hudson | “You will find no better combination of building AND design than with Halsell Builders. Five years later, I am still bragging on the quality job they did.” – Jeannie Miranda | “We did a complete home remodel, which is quite an undertaking. Thanks to Halsell Builders, we had a wonderful experience and would highly recommend them to our friends.” – Arlene Peterson | “We so enjoyed our association with Halsell Builders. The end result is that our dark ‘cave’ of a family room and outdated kitchen have taken on a new light and lustrous life, one that evoked jaw-dropping, ooooo-ahhhhing responses from friends and family.” – Howard & Susan Ramsden | “I cannot recommend Halsell Builders highly enough. Their workmanship and attention to detail can’t be beaten. Customer satisfaction is truly their first priority. The process of building a new house that I was so worried about, turned out to be one of the best experiences that I have ever had. I not only have a beautiful new home, but also have wonderful new friends at Halsell Builders.” – Sally Harney | “Boy was I ever glad that your bid came in so we could accept and sign a contract with Halsell Builders. The shopping spree with James was a life saver for me – couldn’t have been better – it all looks great, thanks to you. Also, the suggestion you made for the can lights, reading lights, etc – you really added some ‘class’ to the room.” – Don & Ruth Scott | “The team was excellent and really knew what we wanted, and what would work best for our space. And most importantly, they take pride in their work – and it shows.” – Scott and Diane Swithenbank | “Fortunately, we selected Halsell Builders. We are so please with the quality of their workmanship and design ideas; and can unequivocally recommend the Halsell team.” – Ron Thatcher | “It was easy to work with the whole crew – from the office management, to the person who cleaned up when the job was finished. Their work is so professional, I chose them 2 – 3 years later to do another job.” – Tillie Finn




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Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011 ❧

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nchanting, isn’t it? You have in your possession a golden goose of sorts. This treasure-loaded publication offers a nearly endless supply of valuable treats for you in the form of stories about local businesses, people, nonprofits, organizations, and other groups in the area. Follow this guide like a trail of breadcrumbs to what Sun readers say is the best Northern Santa Barbara County has to offer. We put a lot of work into crafting this 11th annual publication, but we’re also grateful to the readers, voters, and winners who made our task much more enjoyable—and manageable!—than spinning straw into gold. The greatest honors, however, may be reserved for DeAnne Kennedy, set designer for PCPA, who crafted the storybook scenes that make up our section gateways. Assistant Art Director Heather Walter and Photographer Steve E. Mill-



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Georgia Shore


Ryan Miller

er added their own flourishes and flashes to create miniature real-world depictions of classic fairy tales. Join Hansel and Gretel at the door of a candy cottage for Wine, Dine, and Devour [6]. Meet the 12 dancing princesses for night of Arts and Entertainment [24]. Consider Burnin’ Cash with an emperor whose new clothes leave something to be desired [33]. Start Feelin’ Good with Cinderella and her new look, courtesy of her fairy godmother [48]. And join the Big Bad Wolf for some huffing and puffing in Community on My Mind [56]. So grab your Prince or Princess Charming, wake up any sleeping beauties, and avoid poisoned apples as you bite into this fantastic, fantastical issue. Ryan Miller executive editor


Jenny Gosnell Dora Mountain Brendan Rowe


Heather Walter Jody Harmon


Brent Parker Joe Payne Kristina Sewell Roberta Slutske Jeremy Thomas Ariel Waterman Sam Waterman

Steve E. Miller


Amy Asman Shelly Cone Malory Ensor Henry Houston Jacob Lopez Ryan Miller


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Best Bookstore

Thank You for all your wonderful support.

Here’s to many more years of happy reading and recycling books. Bes t Bes t Come on in and get of

Santa Maria Valley

your gratitude rock!


Santa Maria Valley

~Mrs. Butterworth

230-K E. Betteravia, Santa Maria (Near Pier 1 Imports)


2540 Skyway Drive, Suite A Santa Maria, CA 93455 (805) 347-1968 Santa Maria Sun © 2011

Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011 ❧








Same Great Food… Watch for new location early 2012

Old Orcutt

In the meantime… You know where to find us!

You Deserve

the BEST! Best Local Red Wine

Best Local White Wine Best Wine Tasting Room

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Live music on Wednesdays & Fridays 937-6400 400 East Clark Ave ~ Ste. A Old Orcutt Tues~Fri 11~9 / Sat 11~9 / Sun 11~7




❧ Best of northern santa BarBara County 2011


Best Breakfast

Kay’s Country Kitchen 127 E. Clark avE., suitE a, OrCutt If you haven’t been to Kay’s Country Kitchen, you don’t truly understand breakfast. Sun readers do understand the most important meal of the day, and that’s why Kay’s won Best Breakfast. Well known for its thick-cut bacon, Kay’s offers traditional breakfasts and some more creative fare. The “Too-Much-To-Drink-Last-Night Omelet” is a masterpiece that actually has chicken-fried steak inside. Chicken-fried steak! Besides the incredible taste, Kay’s has the ambience of an old-fashioned country diner, but with a more contemporary and stylistic flair. And there’s something very satisfying about receiving a drink in a hefty mason jar. —Joe Payne

Pappy’s Restaurant

runner up:

Best Ice cream/frozen Yogurt

Cold Stone Creamery 4869 s. BradlEy rOad, OrCutt After a long day battling dragons, you’ve probably worked up a sweat and might just want to cool off with a sugary treat. popular is the estate Pinot Noir, 2007, according to Addamo Tasting What better place to go than Cold Stone Creamery? Offering Room and Bistro assistant manager Bethany Pinzon. “It’s redelicious flavors from coffee to cake batter, Cold Stone allows you to sample ice ally popular. Everybody enjoys our wine,” she said. “We See food cream, cakes, shakes, and smoothies in a land not so far away. Everyone has ship all over. Los Angeles, New York, Texas, Nevada, and d Os C a r litOs , vOtEd B Est a favorite from the signature creations menu, including Manager Miguel —Joe Saucedo. “Definitely the Founder’s Favorite. Something about the brownie s a nta ynEz r Estaur a nt, OFFErs Florida are a few place we ship to now.” shr imp taCOs a nd mOr E . tastE and the sweet cream together is perfect for my sweet tooth, but the pecans runner up: a va r iEt y OF sa lsas , Chips , balance it out so it’s not too sweet,” he said. With delectable flavors and topa nd a m a ngO m a rga r ita pings, it’s no wonder the crowds are clamoring for more Cold Stone. “No one w hilE yOu ’ r E thEr E . else in the industry comes close to [us],” Saucedo said. “Everything is fresh.” —Malory Ensor

Rancho Sisquoc Winery

runner up:

Yogurt Creations

Best smoothIe

Blenders in the Grass 4954-F s. BradlEy rOad, OrCutt The perfect chaser after doing a round of wheat grass shots is a cold and delicious smoothie. Santa Marians make their way to Orcutt for their favorite blended beverages at Blenders in the Grass. “They say they’re addicted,” manager Nachole Castellanos said. “It’s the best meal-on-the-go they can get.” Blenders in the Grass offers plenty of options, including yogurt, frozen yogurt, frozen sherbet, milk ice, soy, fruit and vegetable juices, raw fruits, vitamin supplements, and, of course, wheat grass. Drink customization is always welcome, but who needs it when you have a score of incredible drinks already thought up for you? Ask about the secret menu item, the “Tropical Fuzz.” —Joe

runner up:

California Fresh

Best LocaL red WIne

Addamo Tasting Room and Bistro 400 E. Clark avE., suitE a, OrCutt When Santa Marians are looking for the best smoky, spicy, and smooth tastes of fine red wine, they agree that the place to go is Addamo Tasting Room and Bistro. The grapes are grown on the estate of David and Liz Addamo—about a mile east of U.S. Highway 101—where the terrain and climate are perfectly suited for Pinot Noir. Addamo currently offers 15 red wines, but their most

Best LocaL WhIte WIne

Addamo Tasting Room and Bistro 400 E. Clark avE., suitE a, OrCutt There’s nothing quite like a chilled Chardonnay on a hot summer’s day. At the top of Santa Maria’s exemplary white wine selection are those of Addamo Tasting Room and Bistro, according to local wine lovers. After growing at David and Liz Addamo’s estate just a mile east of U.S. Highway 101, the harvest is a study in perfection. Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling dance from vine to barrel to the bottle, each with distinct character and taste. “It’s really the grapes,” said Addamo Tasting Room and Bistro assistant manager Bethany Pinzon. “We have such amazing grapes, and that’s what good wine comes from. David and Liz make sure they get great grapes, and they make some of the best wine on the Central Coast.” —Joe

runner up:

Rancho Sisquoc Winery

Best WIne tastIng room

Addamo Tasting Room and Bistro 400 E. Clark avE., suitE a, OrCutt Want to get to know a winery? Get to know the tasting room. Santa Marians enjoy getting to know the folks,

Wine, Dine, Devour

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THANK YOU from The Staff At Santa Maria Applebee’s!!!

Best Margarita

Best Sports Bar


Have lunch at the bar and receive one FREE appetizer* on your 5th visit & one FREE entrée on your 10th visit. Good only for lunch at the bar. Valid until 3pm Mon-Fri 1415 S. Bradley · Santa Maria, CA · (805) 922-6633 One stamp per visit. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount. Excludes Appetizer Sampler and Ultimate Trios. No cash value. Tax and gratuity not included.

Best Happy Hour

Best Overall Bar

Make it a Lunch Date at Applebee’s Score a FREE Lunch Item* on Your 5th Visit! Santa Maria Applebee’s 1415 S. Bradley · Santa Maria, CA · (805) 922-6633 *Free lunch item of $10 value or less. One punch per entrée purchase per visit. Participating location listed above only. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers or discounts. No cash value. Tax and tip not included.

Call in for special pick-up service at (805)922-6633

You call it in. We bring it out. 1415 S. Bradley Rd. Santa Maria,CA. (805) 922-6633 www.applebees.com



❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

Best of northern santa BarBara County 2011 ❧ Wine, Dine,& Devour from page 8 wine, and food over at the Addamo Tasting Room and Bistro in Old Orcutt. Literally down the road from where the grapes are grown, the tasting room pours Addamo’s first-place white and red wines with bottles available to buy. The bistro serves fine Italian-style comfort food and features live music Wednesdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Sundays from 3 to 6 p.m. Happy hour is Tuesdays through Saturdays from 3 to 5 p.m., with discounts on appetizers and wine. “It’s a homey environment,” said assistant manager Bethany Pinzon. “It’s not just the wine; it’s also the atmosphere.” —Joe

runner up:

Rancho Sisquoc Winery

Best Margarita

Applebee’s 1415 S. Bradley road, Santa M aria

Once upon a time, the fair Cinderella was having a bad day. As it turns out, her Prince Charming wasn’t being very, well, charming. The distraught princess decided she was in need of a stiff drink. So Cinderella hopped on her noble steed and headed to the one place she knew she could count on for a refreshing drink: Applebee’s. Among all of the mixed drinks, Applebee’s is best known for its classic “Perfect Margarita.” According to manager Sergio Martez, this drink is the restaurant’s biggest seller. Though the recipe is a trade secret, the combination of traditional ingredients with a sweet and sour twist is bound to make you hum with pleasure at every sip (especially since you’re served two to three martini glasses’ worth). So if during these summer months your Prince Charming loses his charm or you just need to cool off, stop by Applebee’s for its perfectly “Perfect Margarita.” —Kristina Sewell

Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant

runner up: Pepper


Best LocaLLy owned coffee shop

Coffee Time Santa M aria, loMpoc

A steaming cup of coffee is a welcome friend in the morning, and so is the person who serves it to you. Santa Maria’s best friends in coffee are Mike and Uyen Doan, owners of Coffee Time, voted Best Locally Owned Coffee Shop. Coffee Time first opened in February 2009 in Lompoc, then expanded to its first location in Santa Maria, the drive-in at 151 E. Betteravia, in July of 2009. The drive-in locations are often flanked by lines of cars with drivers patiently awaiting lattes, mochas, cappuccinos, smoothies, and Coffee Time’s signature drinks, including the Magic Mocha, Thai Iced Tea, Mexican Mocha, and the very popular Vietnamese Coffee, all available hot, iced, or the hugely popular ice blended. “It’s like a big family,” Mike Doan said, “and we all meet up in the morning and say ‘hi.’” —Joe

runner up:

Café Noir

Best Bakery

Gina’s Piece of Cake 307 town center eaSt, Santa M aria

After meeting your prince charming and heading toward that fairy tale ending, you’re going to need a wedding cake! If you’re not throwing the grand wedding ball, however, Gina’s bakery still offers cakes for every occasion, from birthdays to anniversaries, as well as cookies and other confectionary delights. The family-operated bakery has more than 35 years of experience baking and decorating edible masterpieces. “We’ve been a family business for almost 40 years now. My father is a baker, and we’re just so passionate about what we do,” owner Gina Martin said, describing why her bakery

Wine, Dine, Devour

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Thank You

For Voting Us Best Manicure/Pedicure in Northern SB County European Manicure & Spa Pedicure

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Saturday 9am-6pm Sunday 11am-4pm

Waxing Available

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❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

WiNe, DiNe,& Devour from page 11 is ahead of the curve. Don’t really have a sweet tooth? Gina’s menu caters to all kinds of pastry palates, even those that enjoy savory linguica rolls. —Malory

runner up:

Tan Top Bakery

Best LocaLLy owned Burger Joint

Orcutt Burger

don’s version of the Alaskan wild. Peanut shells on the floor, trophy heads on the walls, and reindeer meat on the menu all serve up a warm, quirky ambience you won’t find anywhere else in town. “What we encourage is families coming in here and talking,” Klondike partner Irvin Kiger said. “We want people to enjoy themselves, with themselves, as opposed to having outside entertainment.” Klondike’s founders, Mike and Pam Dennis, once called the 49th state home and brought a little touch of the Arctic with them to the Central Coast. And then there’s the pizza: The vegetables are fresh, the pizza dough made daily, and Klondike’s cooks aren’t afraid to pile the toppings sky high, so you’re sure to walk away feeling like you’ve got your money’s worth. —Jeremy Thomas

runner up:

1099 E. Clark avE., OrCutt

Best steak

Thanks to Orcutt Burgers—winner of Best Locally Owned Burger Joint by Sun readers—the art of the burger has not been lost to the fast food assembly line method. Using a style that harkens back to the good old days of burger cooking, Orcutt Burgers uses only the freshest ingredients: meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion, balanced perfectly between two tasty buns. The burgers are star of the show at Orcutt Burgers, but there’s also a dynamite supporting selection, including killer pastrami, gyros that offer great Greek flavor, and fried zucchini that will knock your socks off. —Joe

runner up: Charlie’s

Burgers Plus King Falafel

Best Pizza

Klondike Pizza

Me and Ed’’s Pizza

The Hitching Post 3325 POint Sal rOad, CaSMalia 406 E. HigHway 246, BuElltOn After a knight in shining armor rescues a damsel in distress, he needs to de-stress. Steak is the perfect dinner for a hero, and the preferred steak around here comes from the Hitching Post. “We’re real particular about the meat we get,” Buellton Hitching Post owner Frank Ostini said. “We cook the beef over a wood fire. We give it a quick char with seasoning. There is no slow cooking here.” Ostini’s brother William owns the Hitching Post in Casmalia, and the two restaurants get the same beef—all Midwestern corn fed—and cook it the same way. “It costs so much for a meal now,” Frank said, “customers want something that’s consistently good, and we provide that for them.” —Joe

runner up:

2059 S. BrOadway, Santa M aria

Shaw’s Steak House

WiNe, DiNe, Devour

Stepping foot into Klondike Pizza is a bit like walking into Jack Lon-

continued on page





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shipped anyw Great HP food OU.com

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Best of northern santa BarBara County 2011 ❧ Wine, Dine,& Devour from page 12

those who can “bear” it. Come for breakfast and pour their wondrous mixture on their terrific chorizo or machaca and eggs; dunk lunchtime burritos in it; slather it on dinnertime fajitas; and take some home to enjoy anytime. It’s just right! —Ariel Waterman

Best tri tip sandwich

California Fresh

runner up:

230 E. BEttEravia road, suitE G, santa M aria Boy, does Santa Maria love tri tip. But what happens when you want tri tip on the go? The tri tip sandwich is a favorite for the busy eater, and the best in town, according to Sun readers, is made at California Fresh. “We’re pretty loyal to the Santa Maria style: the seasoning, the bun, and the salsa on the side,” California Fresh owner Chad Jordan said. “It’s the straight Santa Maria style you can’t get everywhere.” Jordan also gave accolades to his grill master Rene Hernandez, who, he boasted, has 20 years of tri tip grilling experience. “That probably has a lot to do with it,” he added. —Joe

runner up:


Shaw’s Steak House

Best salsa

Burrito Loco 4869 BradlEy road, suitE 101, orcutt

Jocko’s Steak House

Best taco

Burrito Loco 4869 BradlEy road, suitE 101, orcutt People go loco over the tacos at Burrito Loco. Crispy or soft, top yours with their award-winning salsa for a fiesta in your mouth! “We make everything homemade, except the tortillas,” said Gustavo Aguilar, who owns the shop with wife Mary Lizarraga. “The right carnitas is essential, and ours is very popular. We make 30 pounds every day!” It’s succulent, moist, and perfectly seasoned, and carnitas, chicken, or steak tacos come loaded with cilantro and guacamole. Fish and shrimp tacos are topped with homemade tartar sauce and cabbage. Tuesday is Taco Night—all you can eat and with beans for $5.99, shrimp and fish for $7.99. Planning a Teddy Bear’s picnic? They’ll deliver a platter of 16 tacos for just $32.95, or six each chicken and steak for $29.95, including cheese, salsa, rice, and beans. Stuff that in your picnic basket, Little Red Riding Hood! —Ariel

Owners Gustavo Aguilar and his wife Mary Lizarraga take pride in their salsa. Aguilar is the salsa maker, and he creates a fresh batch daily. “We worked with different recipes to find just the right one,” he said. Goldilocks would love the result, a chunky mix of Roma tomatoes, cilantro, onions, garlic, and seasonings. “We make 20 gallons of salsa every day,” Aguilar marveled, “and 60 gallons every Christmas Eve!” They also make a hot salsa for

Casa Mañana Mexican Restaurant

runner up:

Wine, Dine, Devour

continued on page


Thank You To Our Loyal Members

1335 S. Bradley Rd., Santa Maria (805) 928-9887

Best Place to Buy Tires

Best Place to Buy Eyewear

Best Place to Buy/Repair Computer


❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

WiNe, DiNe,& Devour from page 13

food worthy of royalty, venture to Shaw’s Steakhouse!

runner up:

Best Deli sanDwiches

California Fresh


Central City Market

Best Orcutt restaurant

230 E. BEttEravia road, suitE G, santa M aria

Trattoria Uliveto

A fine deli sandwich is a work of art. Each ingredient, each layer must balance and complement the others. This year, Santa Marians voted California Fresh as their best purveyor of artisan deli sandwiches. Edna’s Bakery delivers bread every morning to California Fresh. Choices include French rolls, sourdough rolls, wheat rolls, and sliced

285 s. Broadway, old orcutt


Want to travel to Italy, but don’t really have the funds or the time? Escape for a romantic night at Trattoria Uliveto in Old Town Orcutt. The trattoria offers a unique mixture of Old West and European decor, with its untreated wood walls, corrugated aluminum paneling, and luxurious Old World chandeliers. Diners in the restaurant can enjoy a plate of steaming pasta and a glass of full-bodied wine as, in the background, chef and co-owner Alfonso Curti directs kitchen staff in boisterous Italian. “We wanted to capture a little bit of Italy in Old Town Orcutt,” Curti told the Sun. “When people come in, they feel like they’re home. It’s a family business.” Curti knows the value of family: He learned how to cook from his grandfather and mother in Calabria, Italy, and he met Trattoria Uliveto co-owner Jim Spallino while working with his brother at Trattoria Grappalo in Santa Ynez. —Amy Asman

runner up:

Orcutt Burgers

Best lOMpOc restaurant

Tom’s Burgers 115 E. collEGE avE., loMpoc They call it “home of the educated hamburger” for a very simple reason: You can get your patty with toppings from A to Z. Owner Kim Blea, who’s been at the eatery since buying it in December 1979, said the menu offers 26 different kinds of burgers, from the expected (but still delicious) avocadoes, sprouts, and the like, to the unexpected, like bananas or cream cheese and olives. A popular choice is the bacon, Ortega chili, and Swiss cheese burger, while a crazy option that draws customers includes peanut butter. sourdough. Fresh meats and veggies are used to create staple “Just so you know, we sell one of all of them every day,” Blea said. “At least deli sandwiches, from turkey and cheese to roast beef, but one.” Tom’s Burgers has 23 employees, three of whom have been there New iN TowN it’s the special sandwiches that really catch the eye and for 28 years. Blea called the place a family-style restaurant, and she roonEy ’s i rish p uB took please the taste buds. “One that’s really popular is the spicy means it: Her five children and stepchildren have all worked there over sEvEral awards , includinG BEst jalapeño with honey mustard, turkey, and cheese,” owner the years. It’s the kind of place that draws local who wait for the doors nEw r Estaurant and BEst Chad Jordan said. “We also do a Santa Maria-style grilled to open for breakfast, and groups from Vandenberg—30 or 40 people o vErall Bar . c oME in to chicken sandwich that comes with ranch dressing, avocado, strong—come in to chow down. —Ryan Miller hanG out with “friEnds bacon, and melted cheese.” —Joe

runner up:

Subway Sandwiches

you ’vE nEvEr MEt.”

Best santa Maria restaurant

Shaw’s Steakhouse 714 s. Broadway, santa M aria The kingdom of Santa Maria is renowned throughout the land for having the most delicious tri tip. Travelers from both near and far journey here to devour this succulent meat. However, the kind people of this kingdom know where to get a tri tip fix—along with other delicious meals. Shaw’s Steakhouse, locally owned and operated since 1953, has tri tip fit for a king. Slow cooked over a wood-fired grill, covered in seasonings, this tri-tip’s aroma would surely wake Snow White from her slumber. “A lot of it is getting back to basics. There is a lot of pride and love that goes into our food,” manager Eric Spies said. Shaw’s, best known for its dinner, has a little bit of everything to offer guests. Everything is fresh, made in-house, and most of the ingredients are purchased locally. So, fair people, if you are looking for casual ambience and

runner up:

Mi Amore Pizza and Pasta

Best GuaDalupe restaurant

Far Western Tavern 899 GuadalupE st., GuadalupE Guadalupe’s Far Western Tavern has become legendary—written about in cuisine magazines and talked about by foodies far and wide—for its delicious, straight-fromthe-ranch barbecue. Owned and operated by the Clarence Minetti family, Far Western Tavern offers several cuts of mouth-watering steak, including its signature Bulls Eye Steak. According to a video on the restaurant’s website, the steak is called Bulls Eye because the cuts usually have an “eye” of flavorful, marbled fat in the middle of them. Other popular non-beef dishes include chicken, seafood, shellfish, and home-style ravioli. But if you want to sample Guadalupe’s best, you’d

WiNe, DiNe, Devour

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Thank you

to all our customers


THANK YOU for voting us BEST BREAKFAST 11 years in a row!

Bes t of

Santa Maria Valley


“We treat you like a NEIGHBOR… not a NUMBER!”

Bes t Bes t of

Santa Maria Valley


Santa Maria Valley


Voted best grocery store


Visit us at your neighborhood store 2320 S. Broadway, Santa Maria 346-2077 1120 E. Clark, Orcutt 934-4472

Serving Breakfast & Lunch (DVW&ODUN$YHQXH‡2OG2UFXWW  ( &O N $ 2OG 2 (805) 934-4429


❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011





BEST Chinese Restaurant AS THE

Year After Year!

For Voting us


4 years in a row!

4854 S. Bradley (CVS Shopping Center)

Bes t Bes t of

Santa Maria Valley

(805) 925-3705


Open Tues-Sun 11-9 · Lunch Specials 11-2 · Closed Monday’s


Santa Maria Valley

Orcutt 938-9011

Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011 ❧ WiNe, DiNe,& Devour from page 14 better hurry—the restaurant will be moving to Orcutt, executive chef Rick Manson’s old stomping ground, in 2012. —Amy

runner up:


Best Nipomo RestauRaNt

Jocko’’s Steakhouse

culture. The place that welcomes you like no other is Brothers Restaurant at Mattei’s Tavern, voted best Los Olivos Restaurant by Sun readers. Having studied with the likes of Wolfgang Puck, Rick Bayless, and Jimmy Schmidt, Matt and Jeff Nichols have brought their culinary creativity to the historic location. Five stars are truly not enough to give the perfection that is the Nichols brothers’ food. They offer American classics, but also bring international flavors to their cooking, all of which paints a beautiful picture for the taste buds. The stunningly restored bar has its own menu as well. Between you and me, the Kobe beef burger they make belongs on everybody’s bucket list. —Joe

runner up:

Los Olivos Café

125 N. ThompsoN Ave., Nipomo

Best los alamos RestauRaNt

Had the Big Bad Wolf known about Jocko’s, he’d have left the Three Little Pigs alone! Now in its 54th year, Jocko’s Steakhouse is still cooking incredible steaks over oakwood, served with choice of potato, relish tray, salad, salsa, beans, bread, ice cream, and coffee. Owner Sandy Knotts’ late father-in-law, Fred Knotts, and his brother George built Jocko’s, named for their pa, who had owned a saloon across the street. The atmosphere is crowded and noisy, but as Fred once said, “You can’t eat atmosphere.” Sandy explained, “We serve good food for a good price. You get your money’s worth.” In a hurry? Eat in the breezeway near the barbecue pit. It’s homey and smells great. Open daily, Jocko’s offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus take out. And now you can get Jocko’s Mix, their famous dry seasoning, at local grocers. —Ariel

Full of Life Flatbread

runner up:

The Rock Seafood and Grill

Best BuelltoN RestauRaNt

The Hitching Post 406 e. highwAy 246, BuellToN One restaurant has become synonymous with the city of Buellton, thanks to the Alexander Payne film Sideways. In the movie, the two main characters frequent the Hitching Post while on a weekend vacation. But the restaurant’s Hollywood fame isn’t what makes it Buellton’s best restaurant. “We’re the longest-running dinner house in the whole Santa Ynez Valley,” owner Frank Ostini said. “We’re always shooting for the highest quality, but in a casual manner. There’s a down-home feel here.” The Hitching Post is right off of U.S. Highway 101 in Buellton, and travelers and locals alike know they will get quality home cooking when they take the Highway 246 exit. —Joe

runner up:

Pea Soup Anderson’s

Best solvaNg RestauRaNt

Root 246 420 A lisAl RoAd, solvANg If you’re looking for a meal fresh off the farm created by a culinary master, you should probably shoot to Solvang and make a stop at Root 246. Here, renowned culinary master Chef Bradley Ogden has created a fine and fresh dining experience for guests who come from near and far. Ogden uses only the freshest ingredients available, which he and his team handpick from the local farmers market. The only freezer you’ll find in this restaurant is used for ice cream. According to the restaurant’s media relations representative, Nerissa Sugars, Ogden wants Root 246 to feel like home. “The restaurant strikes a beautiful balance between the cosmopolitan feel of a restaurant you’d find in a big city, and the warm and welcoming essence of the valley,” Sugars said. With four different dining areas and a menu filled with delicious options, there is something for everyone at Root 246. Be sure to try Ogden’s super juicy cheeseburger, complete with avocado relish, beefsteak tomato, and buffalo mozzarella. —Kristina

runner up:

Paula’s Pancake House

Best los olivos RestauRaNt

The Brothers Restaurant at Mattei’’s Tavern

225 w. Bell sT., los A lAmos If there’s a moral to the tale of Full of Life Flatbread, it could be, “Everything comes around full circle.” After eight years, the restaurant’s legend has stretched far and wide from its Los Alamos headquarters. Through its appearances at mega-festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo, to its gourmet frozen food line sold at supermarkets across the country, Full of Life has become a destination spot for tourists. However, the fame hasn’t affected the restaurant’s unwavering dedication to local, farm-fresh and organic artisan foods. With a menu changing weekly depending on whatever’s in season, just about everything Full of Life serves is handmade and cooked to perfection in their wood-burning stone oven, smack dab in the dining room. “We just have a different approach to fixing food than most commercial restaurants,” owner Clark Staub said. “It’s not always the most efficient, but it’s what makes us who we are.” —Jeremy

runner up:


Best saNta YNez RestauRaNt

Dos Carlitos Restaurant and Tequila Bar 3544 sAguNTo sT., sANTA yNez Once upon at time in a faraway land, there was a mysterious plant that looked like a giant pineapple. The native people of that land grew the plant, picked it, and used it to make a magical elixir. The people called the elixir “tequila.” Today, if Northern Santa Barbara County residents are thirsting for a taste of the best tequila around, they visit Dos Carlitos Restaurant and Tequila Bar in Santa Ynez. Dos Carlitos offers a plethora of top-shelf tequila brands, as well as plenty of other beverages and an extensive food menu. The idea for the restaurant “was conceived from a long-standing desire to bring Santa Ynez Valley the bold Mexican and Latin flavors from my family’s two restaurants, Carlitos Café y Cantina in Santa Barbara and Cava Restaurant & Bar in Montecito,” owner Carlos Lopez Hollis said on the restaurant’s website. Dos Carlitos is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. —Amy

runner up:

Red Barn

Best oveRall RestauRaNt

The Hitching Post 3325 poiNT sAl RoAd, CAsmAliA 406 e. highwAy 246, BuellToN There are plenty of reasons Sun readers picked the Hitching Post as the Central Coast’s Best Overall Restaurant (other than its silver screen fame). From its classic Western ambiance to the five-star stick-to-your-ribs comfort food, the Hitching Post is a place you want to eat. “It’s a friendly place,” said Frank Ostini, who owns the Buellton Hitching Post. “The energy is warm, there is always an energetic buzz that makes it a fun place to come to.” Ostini’s brother William owns the Casmalia restaurant that’s been in the Ostini family for more than 60 years. “There’s so many aspects to having a good restaurant,” Frank said. “To get some recognition like this is very special and gratifying.” —Joe

Jocko’s Steak House

runner up:

2350 R AilwAy Ave., los olivos Los Olivos might appear to be a sleepy little town, but it’s wide awake with


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❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

WiNe, DiNe,& Devour from page 17

Best Meal

for your

Money (tie)

Best Meal When soMeone else Pays

The Hitching Post

Hometown Buffet 1431 S. Bradley road, Santa M aria If Hometown Buffet is known for anything, it’s probably its gargantuan tables filled with stuff to eat, which could easily put Hansel and Gretel into a food-induced coma. But the even better part is that you won’t have to pay a king’s ransom to enter. “Our breakfast only costs $8,” food bar manager Belen Melendrez said. “You can try one, two, or all the dishes for that price. At other restaurants, that’s the price for one dish.” And, for that meager price, you can try the restaurant’s most popular dish: menudo. The Mexican soup is cooked traditionally, setting it apart from other restaurants that cook out of the can, Melendrez said. With the availability of tortillas, salsa, lemons, and whatever else you need for your menudo, you’d be losing money not eating at Hometown. —Henry Houston

Olive Garden

3325 Point Sal road, CaSMalia 406 e. HigHway 246, Buellton The Hitching Post restaurants in Casmalia and Buellton aren’t cheap—not the price, and not the food. The owners believe in a high-quality product with a price to match, and that’s why readers chose the dinner houses as Best Meal When Someone Else Pays. For instance, a $13 burger sounds like a lot of money. But take into consideration the quality of beef and the fact that Food Network Iron Chef Cat Cora named the very same burger on the show Best Thing I Ever Ate. So. If someone offers you lunch and claims “price is not an issue,” take them up on their offer and head to the Hitching Post. —Joe

runner up:

Best restaurant

runner up:


take your honey

The Hitching Post

1210 S. Bradley road, Santa M aria Olive Garden’s soup and salad combo is almost as famous as Italy itself. Almost. And it’s no wonder why: The soup, salad, and bread is as readily available as air. It seems that such a feast would cost an arm and a leg—or even your last cow. But Olive Garden’s menu is more akin to an affordable restaurant atop the clouds that requires a climb up a beanstalk. Of course, the soup and salad combo isn’t the only dish that gives you tons of bang for your buck. Everything on the menu comes with salad or soup, as well as the never-ending supply of bread that will leave you ecstatically shouting fee-fi-fo-fum upon arrival. —Henry

Shaw’’s Steak House

3325 Point Sal road, CaSMalia 406 e. HigHway 246, Buellton When taking your significant other on a date, believe it or not, the nearest fast food chain doesn’t count as “dinner out.” Central Coast readers agree the Hitching Post is the best place to take your honey because of the relaxed ambiance, fine cuisine, and Hollywood history associated with the eatery. “There are lots of couples that like to eat here,” said Frank Ostini, who owns the Buellton location. “You’re liable to see

California Fresh

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Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011 ❧ WiNe, DiNe,& Devour from page 18

Best new RestauRant

winemakers here, or maybe some of our local celebrity types.” Whether or not Bo Derek or David Crosby show up, your sweetheart is sure to be impressed by the five-star cuisine, friendly staff, and relaxed environment the Hitching Post has to offer. —Joe

runner up:

Best RestauRant



Trattoria Uliveto

Letting Kids



Chuck E.Cheese 2254 S. Bradley road, Santa M aria Chuck E. Cheese is a fun place “Where a kid can be a kid,” and that means big kids, too! My grandma likes the safe environment. Kids are checked in and out so they leave with their parents. I can run around and play, and it’s OK to be loud and goofy. There are fun rides and lots of arcade games to play for cool prizes. The pizza is really good, and my grandma says the salad bar is terrific because she is on a diet. You can also get free soda refills, like root beer for kids and diet soda for grown-ups on a diet. Grandma is really good at some of the games and watches the Chuck E. Cheese show and even does the dances with me. She’s better than a fairy godmother and makes magic happen when we go to Chuck E. Cheese. —Sam Waterman, age 9

Rooney’s Irish Pub 241 S. Broadway St., old town orCutt When Tim Rooney, a former Santa Barbara police officer, had designs on opening a new restaurant, he envisioned something a little bit different for Old Town Orcutt. “Most people, when they want to go out to a nice dinner, they go out to Santa Ynez or up to the Five Cities area,” Rooney said. “We wanted to create another place here so people wouldn’t have to go out of town for a good drink and a good meal.” Recently celebrating their one-year anniversary, Rooney’s unique and varied menu features Irish fare with an American twist. Their most popular dish is their take on the traditional shepherd’s pie: Instead of ground beef topped with potatoes, it’s made with a braised short rib, with Guinness beer poured all over it. Fish and chips are always a crowd favorite, as are the pulled pork sandwiches, half-pound burgers, and, of course, corned beef and cabbage. Rooney’s chefs are constantly revamping the menu. Chef Anthony Endy cooks up daily lunch and dinner specials and a Sunday brunch with seasonal ingredients, from pasta and porterhouse steaks to scallops and lamb. —Jeremy

runner up:


Home Town Buffet runner up (tie): Klondike Pizza runner up (tie): Straw Hat Pizza

runner up (tie):

Best RestauRant foR schmoozing cLients

The Hitching Post 3325 Point Sal road, CaSMalia 406 e. HigHway 246, Buellton When striking a business deal or just showing some clients a good time on the Central Coast, one place comes to mind: the Hitching Post. Voted the Best Restaurant for Schmoozing Clients, the Hitching Post impresses with just the food alone, not to mention it was also a set piece in a famous Hollywood production (Sideways). “We appeal to lots of different people,” said Frank Ostini, owner of the Hitching Post in Buellton. “We get cowboys right next to people in suits.” The menu boasts fine steaks, chicken, turkey, lamb, duck, and seafood, all cooked by the veteran chefs behind the counter, sure to impress even the most finicky businessmen and women. —Joe

runner up:

Best RestauRant

Shaw’s Steak House foR


The Natural Café 2407 S. Broadway, Santa M aria There was once a not-so-distant land where barbecue was celebrated and carnivores rejoiced, while the plant-eaters were frequently cast aside as somehow lesser than their meateating brethren. Then came Natural Café, and suddenly, the plant-eaters had their sanctuary. “We’re one of the only restaurants in Santa Maria that offers this kind of food,” Natural Café’s general manager Tawny Caplener said. “Our beans aren’t refried, we have brown rice instead of white rice. It’s just a healthier alternative.” Besides sporting a separate menu boasting strictly vegetarian fare—such as salads, portobello mushroom sandwiches, mouthwatering veggie burgers, and cheese enchiladas—nearly all of the café’s meat-containing dishes can be substituted with a vegetarian option. Tofu, anyone? There are also modified gluten-free and vegan menus for guests on special diets. —Jeremy

runner up:

California Fresh

Best cateReR

Testa Catering

Meat, deconstructed l ook ing for tHe B eSt t r i t iP S a ndw iCH a round? l et tHe Weddings, birthdays, funerals, corporate folkS at C a lifor ni a f r eSH events, and equestrian trail rides all have one aSSeMBle it for you—tHen thing in common: hungry people! Readers dig in ! 2385 a St., Santa M aria

trust Testa Catering to make their event delicious every time. “Our attention to detail is ever evolving,” said Debi Testa, who owns the company with her husband Marcin. “We try to cater to everyone’s taste.” Known for their gourmet twist on Santa Maria-style barbecue and other fabulous gourmet classics, Testa Catering also goes mobile. The business has three refrigerated trucks that include all the equipment necessary to prepare the food, which means you can enjoy Testa’s fine cuisine pretty much anywhere. —Joe

runner up:

California Fresh

Best cowBoy BaR

Cool Hand Luke’s 1321 S. niCHolSon ave., Santa M aria After a long day of roping and wrestling cattle—or maybe just filing copious amounts of paperwork—nothing tastes better than an ice-cold beer and some belly-busting grub. In Northern Santa Barbara

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❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

WiNe, DiNe,& Devour from page 19

Best spOrts Bar

County, the place to go for good eats and good conversation is Cool Hand Luke’s. “It’s where friends come to unwind,” owner Scott Van Pelt said. “Everyone’s always happy and smiling. We’ve got the friendliest staff and bartenders in town.” If you get there for happy hour, enjoy a 16-oz. beer for $3 and a small appetizer for $5 any time. For city folk, there’s also a full bar. You won’t find any sawdust on the floor here, but there’s still plenty of Western inspiration, including the requisite steer horns and a giant inflatable tequila bottle. —Amy

runner up:


Best Overall Bar

Rooney’s Irish Pub 241 S. Broadway, old Town orcuTT True story: Once upon a time in college, Tim Rooney and his roommate turned their dorm room into an Irish pub for Saint Patrick’s Day. They had so much fun, they did it again and again, and Rooney dreamed of someday turning the enterprise into his own brewpub. More than 30 years later, that someday came. “We didn’t want to be considered just another Irish pub, or people would be tired of coming in here,” Rooney said. “There’s a little something here for everybody.” With its cozy leather couches and a fireplace area made for comfortably sipping drinks, Rooney’s suits all walks of life, from farmers to working women looking for a little wine after a long day at the office. A self-described “big fan of craft brewing,” Rooney hired a local brewmaster to cook up the pub’s first batch of house beers last October. Four appear on a regular basis—blonde, amber, IPA and porter—and others are rotated in, like Belgian ale, stout, and hefeweizen. —Jeremy

runner up:

Applebee’s 1415 S. Bradley road, SanTa M aria It’s a dream come true: A large-screen TV plays the big game, the volume turned up and pulling you into the action while you enjoy a delicious appetizer. While it sounds like you’re daydreaming, you’re actually thinking of Applebee’s. Whether you want mozzarella sticks or potato twists, grab some grub and pull up a seat for the sporting event of the year. Even the employees enjoy themselves. When asked what the best part of the job was, Manager Alana Garcia couldn’t pick. “All of it: the staff, the managers, the great atmosphere. It’s a fun place to be.” Walking into the lively atmosphere, rest assured that you’ll be treated to a good game and great food, and welcomed like family. —Malory

runner up:

Stinky’s Bar and Grill

Best Happy HOur

Applebee’s 1415 S. Bradley road, SanTa M aria Everyone loves happy hour, but at Applebee’s it’s serious business. The restaurant has not one but two happy hours, from 3 to 6 p.m. and from 9 p.m. to close. The electric atmosphere ensures there’s never a quiet or boring night in the neighborhood. The entertainment, friendly staff, and infamous “Perfect Margarita” are all hits with Sun readers. “I would describe it as fantastic,” associate manager Luis Barrhean said of the


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❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

WiNe, DiNe,& Devour from page 20 happy hour atmosphere. “If you come in between 9 and midnight you will see that we are packed on those nights, every night.” Applebee’s has a variety of evening events to keep things fresh, ensuring it’s a little different each time you go. The staff posts a calendar every month to let customers know what to expect, including events such as live music and karaoke. —Jacob Lopez

runner up:

Stinky’s Bar and Grill

Best HealtH Food/Vitamin store

Natural Foods & Vitamins

113 n. Broadway, Santa Maria

Every now and then a big bad wolf gets tired of chasing down fat little piggies and craves a healthier alternative. That’s when he heads to Lassen’s Natural Foods & Vitamins, the place Sun readers voted Best Health Food/Vitamin Store. “We will continually strive to provide our Santa Maria community with the freshest local organic produce, the best high quality supplements, and largest selection of gluten-free and organic food options found anywhere,” Ashley Decker, media liaison for Lassen’s, said in a statement. “Thank you, Santa Maria, for choosing us as the best health food store of 2011.” Lassen’s was first opened in 1971 in Camarillo during the burgeoning health food movement of the 1970s. The store now has nine locations, including the one in Santa Maria. —Shelly Cone


Best Grocery store

runner up:

Ming Dynasty

Best Japanese Food 2431 S. Broadway, Santa Maria

1120 E. Clark avE., orCutt After capturing the dragon’s gold, you don’t want to spend all of your treasure on groceries! Luckily at Albertsons, you don’t have to. The store offers its customers a wide range of ways to save on items from the pharmacy to flowers. The variety of products would complete any wizard’s potion. Besides having the best selection in all the land, manager Mary Gill likes to credit customers for Albertsons’ success. “We have some very loyal customers. I’ve been able to see many of the families grow up,” she said. When Albertsons’ customer service model is to treat every customer like a guest in the home, who wouldn’t want to grab a grocery cart and get shopping? —Malory

Spencer’s Fresh Market

Best strawBerry stand

DB Specialty Farms /Darren’’s Berries u.S. HigHway 101 and EaSt StowEll, Santa Maria Right off the Stowell exit on U.S. Highway 101, on the east side of the highway, you’ll find a colorful and welcoming strawberry stand with “Darren’s Berries” emblazoned across the side. Locals know this is the spot to snag the tastiest strawberries in the valley. “It’s just a happy place,” said stand manager Kathy McPike. “It’s nice to sell a great product and a healthy product that you can do so many things with.” Darren Gee is the grower for the stand’s strawberries. McPike said Gee chooses the much-loved Albion variety of strawberry to sell at the stand, and he hasn’t raised his prices for four years. —Joe

Best Hispanic

When your taste buds call for the East, you must go north! Well, to North China Restaurant, that is. Located on the first block of North Broadway in Santa Maria, the Chinese-style restaurant has been serving up classic cuisine for years, earning it the title of Best Chinese Food from Sun readers. The first thing that strikes you about the restaurant is the décor and ambiance. Beautiful art hangs throughout the space, complete with vividly colored Bengal tigers staring through tall grass. The staff is very welcoming, as if you are entering the home of an old friend. All food is prepared masterfully and served steaming hot. From kung pao chicken to fried rice, the meal is guaranteed to be authentically delicious. —Joe

Yanagi Sushi


runner up:

Carniceria El Toro

North China Restaurant

1790 S. Broadway, Santa Maria

runner up:

runner up:

Best cHinese Food


runner up:

to prepare a feast worthy of a king. Ripe, colorful produce, thick cuts of meat, and freshbaked pastries can be found at every corner of the store’s far-reaching aisles. “Vallarta has a lot to offer,” manager Elia Santiago said. “We’re recognized for our quality service. We promote a different sale each week.” On Wednesdays, customers can find special deals on local produce. And Thursday is the day to purchase some affordable, straight-off-the cow (or chicken or pig) meat. “We get the full cow and pretty much do the cuts all on our own,” Santiago said. “It’s a little weird going in the back and seeing all the cows hanging there, but you get used to it.” Now that’s fresh. —Amy

Larry Moog


Vallarta Supermarket 1875 n. Broadway, Santa Maria At Vallarta Supermarket in Santa Maria, you’ll find all the ingredients needed

Yanagi Sushi has quickly become the sushi authority on the Central Coast, with enough popularity to establish four locations throughout the area. Established five years ago, Yanagi is known not only for its spectacular views and upscale Japanese décor, but also for its variety of fresh sushi. “All of the sushi is fresh, never frozen and purchased locally,” said Justin Kim, manager of Yanagi Sushi in Santa Maria. Aside from its delicious sashimi, Yanagi also offers 200 other sushi dishes, not to mention 30 different wines and sakes. Yanagi Sushi is great for both experienced and “new” sushi consumers on the Central Coast. —Kristina

runner up:


Best autHentic mexican Food

Casa Mañana

~ Maria 1640 S. Broadway, Santa No stranger to excellence, Casa Mañana has been a readers’ favorite since it opened 47 years ago. The restaurant’s huge success is attributed to its consistent excellence in flavor. The same chefs since Casa Mañana’s grand opening still use the original recipes. It’s not hard to imagine why using that practice still brings in hoards of hungry patrons. “Our customers are very loyal. I’ve seen the third generation of their kids come in,” manager Anthony Ontiveros said. “It’s rewarding to see the same customers over and over through the years.” With delicious, authentic food, it’s a dream come true to Casa Mañana and Ontiveros that the support of loyal customers has helped them achieve. —Malory

runner up:

Lo Mejor de Jalisco

Best outdoor dininG

Brick’s 112 w. Main St., Santa Maria Brick’s Restaurant gets its name from the main component used in the building’s architecture, which makes its outdoor

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Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011 ❧ Wine, Dine,& Devour from page 22 patio a cute, quaint place to enjoy a meal. Voted Best Outdoor Dining, Brick’s patio harkens back to Santa Maria’s golden years of downtown dining. “On nice days, breakfast is served out there, but it’s mostly lunch in the afternoons,” said Irene Ontiveros, who has owned Brick’s with her husband Robert for nine years. The patio is adorned with fragrant flowerpots and beautiful creeping ivy that accents the tall wall of red bricks, which provides a nice cool haven during Santa Maria’s summer days. —Joe

runner up:

Stinky’s Bar and Grill

Best seafood

Red Lobster 1525 S. Bradley road, Santa Maria I share the same name as the Little Mermaid, am married to a crab, and I’m a Red Lobster fan from way back, when founder Bill Darden opened the chain in the early 1970s. The big Red has come a long way since then, with lobster pizza appetizers and menus for special diets, including an allergen menu! They offer fresh fish, live Maine lobsters, and chef creations, a terrific kids’ menu, plus the complimentary Cheddar Bay biscuits are to die for! “We do seafood differently,” said manager Eric Cardoza, “and hold a new promotion every few weeks featuring lobster, shrimp, or crab.” Service is friendly, and that’s no surprise, since Fortune just voted Red Lobster among the top 100 companies to work for—the first time a restaurant chain has made that list. Don’t miss Crab Fest, through Sept. 5. I think I’ll take my hubby! —Ariel

runner up:


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❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

Best Live Music venue

Rooney’s   Irish Pub 3400 Skyway Drive, Santa M aria 241 S. BroaDway St. olD town orcutt Rooney’s didn’t set out to offer live music every Friday and Saturday night, but after Maverick’s Saloon in Santa Maria closed its doors and the nearby Loading Dock lost its music permit, it left a gaping hole only the pub could fill. “That’s what the people have asked for,” said owner Tim Rooney. “It hasn’t been that long, but the reception has been great.” Since October, Rooney’s has brought in internationally touring Irish bands like Young Dubliners, along with acts such as the California Celts to a cozy stage area located right near the bar. But although Rooney’s is an Irish pub through and through, they’re not pigeonholing themselves to just one genre. “We do a smattering of everything,” Rooney said. “We have a pretty young crowd … so it’s a lot of rock, it’s reggae, it’s Irish rock, and a little bit of country.” Besides landing artists from the L.A. area who are passing through the Central Coast, Rooney’s has played host to local favorites like Steppin’ Out, Soulamente, blues guitarist Pryor Baird, and reggae/hip hop acts Nada Rasta and Klockwyze. The best part? Most shows can be enjoyed with just a $5 cover charge. Rooney’s has recently started hosting mellower musicians from 3 p.m. to 6:30 on Sunday afternoons, mostly playing jazz and Irish folk music. To find out what’s coming up at Rooney’s, visit rooneysirishpub.com or call 934-5777. —Jeremy

runner up:

Chumash Casino

Best LocaL Band or Musicians

Steppin’Out 1Steppinout.coM Despite fewer than two years of local performances, Santa Maria’s

own Steppin’ Out has been voted Santa Maria’s best local band two years in a row! “That was a surprise, because I didn’t think we were that well known then,” leader, singer, saxophonist, and percussionist for the band Mike Ariolla said of the early win. The band also includes drummer Abe Robles, keyboards by Brian Herrman, JR Juanich on guitar, Joe Duran on bass, and his wife Lisa Duran on lead vocals. The group is well known for its old-school dance music that keeps Santa Marians on the dance floor no matter what the venue. “When I refer to our fans, I refer to them as ‘Steppers’” Ariolla said. “It makes them part of the family, and we’ve got a pretty large and growing family now.” —Joe

runner up:


Best PLace to Buy MusicaL instruMents

Owens Music Company 201 e. M ain St., Santa M aria Generations of music students have shared the experience of wandering into the musical haven that is Owens Music in Santa Maria. Voted Best Place to Buy a Musical Instrument by Sun readers, the classic music store stocks fine instruments, equipment, supplies, and sheet music, all ready to get into area musicians’ hands. “We have band instruments, pianos, guitars—you name it, we got it,” said Don Owens, “We also do rent-to-own with the band instruments, so the kids can afford it.” Flutes, trumpets, trombones, clarinets, violins, saxophones, and more —Joe are all awaiting the eager hands of Central Coast musicians at Owens Music.

runner up: Jensen   Guitar  a nd   Music  Co. arts & eNtertaINMeNt continued on page 27

Thank You For Voting The Best N Us ew Restau

rant within A Year, Be Best Live M st Overall Bar, usic Venue of Santa M , and One aria’s Best New Bu siness!

241 S. Broadway Street, Old Town Orcutt (805) 934-3777 www.rooneysirishpub.net



Music god? Jay t ur ner of S un n y C ountry, B eSt r a dio /tv P erSona lit y, iS li v e a nd loCa l . h e ’S Brought toe - ta PPing tuneS into PeoPle ’S Ca rS a nd


Edwards Cinema? Catch a mystery, a rom-com, or even an action flick with that special someone in a low stress environment. “Going to the movies is a natural choice,” said Marketing Manager Robbie Arrington. “You’re surrounded by others in a safe area, with something everyone loves doing in a communal experience. You have the jitters, but you can sit back and someone else entertains you.” A strong name in the theater industry, Edwards offers its viewers clean theaters, delicious snacks, and even a digital 3D experience. So grab a friend, fling, or fiancé and head over to your favorite theater! —Malory

hoMeS for

runner up:

y ea rS .

The Hitching Post

Best Place to View art ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT from page 26

Best Place to Go on a First Date

Edwards Cinema 10

Ann Foxworthy Gallery at Allan Hancock College 800 S. College drive, Building l South, Santa M aria Every couple of weeks, depending on what kind of art adorns its walls, the Ann Foxworthy Gallery at Allan Hancock College transforms itself

1521 S. Bradley road, Santa M aria

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT continued on page 28

After rescuing the damsel in distress, why take her anywhere other than

T he P lacteo Shop LocatLionocat ion Locat ion 205-354 S. Broadway

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❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

arts & eNtertaINMeNt from page 27


from just another building on a college campus into a mystical landscape of the imagination. One week, the gallery’s visitors are transported to a pastoral countryside. Another week, they’re experiencing the turbulent 1960s through a collection of rock’n’roll posters. “I try to run a variety [of art] in my programming: students, faculty members, and local artists,” gallery director Marti Fast said. Another unique aspect of the college gallery is its ability to offer a glimpse into the art’s historical or creative context. “Usually with the exhibits, the artists are willing to come and give a lecture with the show,” Fast said, adding that college faculty members are often excited to contribute to the lectures. On the books as of this writing was an exhibit from San Luis Obispo painter Joanne Beaule Ruggles. “She does figurative paintings,” Fast said, “but they’re huge. They’re like eight feet tall.” —Amy

runner up:

Town Center Gallery

Best Community Festival

Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival Santa M aria Fairpark, 937 S. thornburg When Alice fell into the rabbit hole, one would think she arrived in Wonderland. One would be wrong. Instead Alice found herself in a whimsical land of swirly, twirly things, where men in funny hats displayed curious wares and the most peculiar scents filled the air. Of course, there were also the giant strawberries, which just so happened to be Alice’s favorite thing about this crazy land. Alice, of course, landed in the midst of the Strawberry Festival, which just so happens to have been voted Best C ommunit y Festival by Sun readers. “We are really excited about it. When we found out, we thought about all the different wine festivals and other festivals in the community, and we thought, ‘Wow, that’s great that we can keep that title!’” said Yvonne Biely, who handles public relations for the Fairpark. Biely said that everyone at the Fairpark works hard to bring fresh and exciting entertainment each year to keep visitors coming back. The festival is enjoyable, but also helps the community. Biely said that between the Strawberry Festival and the Santa Barbara County Fair, the Fairpark employs more than 200 people. Biely said the Strawberry Festival has one advantage over the others: “I think a big part of it is we reach a very diverse group of people, ethnically and age wise. The festival just has a wide reach.” As for Alice, she saw the juicy red strawberries and saw the sign that said “eat me” and couldn’t resist. —Shelly

runner up:

Grapes and Grains

Top brass L oca LS Say the b eSt p Lace to b u y MuSica L i nStruM entS iS o w enS MuSic c oMpa n y. S oundS Lik e pLent y oF r eaSon to ceLebr ate !

Best PlaCe to take the kids on a saturday aFternoon

Waller Park 300 goodwin road, Santa M aria Give some kids a stretch of grass on which to run, and they’ll be happy for hours. All sorts of fairy tale wonderlands can arise from nothing more than the outdoors and a little imagination. That butterfly over there? It’s actually a flying unicorn. And that bird hopping around the tree? A dragon ready to breathe fire! Picnic tables at Waller Park allow for royal feasts with paper plates, the playgrounds represent kingdoms to be conquered, and the sparkling ponds with their splashing fountains offer plenty of prime mermaid-spotting opportunities. Older adventurers can explore the 153 acres via bike trails, and even older adventurers can sit and watch, compete at horseshoes, or watch a ball game. Huzzah! —Ryan

Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum runner up:

arts & eNtertaINMeNt continued on page 30

Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011 ❧

THANK YOU from Dr. Sara Tawata-Min & Staff for Voting Us One Of The BEST!!


Exhibits & Programming Go Hand in Hand Enjoy FREE weekly programs that allow children of all ages to learn, discover & explore. Wednesdays at 10:45—

Preschool Patrol

Designed for ages 3–5, kids will spend time each week experimenting with letters, numbers, shapes and colors by enjoying crafts, games, songs, or movement.


Thursdays at 5:30—

Twilight Thursday


301 E. Cook Street, Suite F · Santa Maria, CA 93454


Call (805) 925-2652 for your appointment today! Follow us on Facebook

Kids ages 6 -12 can learn about diverse topics and concepts—usually with local experts in their fields—expect lots of hands on projects to help with learning. Upcoming Twilight Thursdays will focus on music, one-ofa-kind careers, and all things “yuck.” Launching in August—A weekly story hour for preschoolers will start in August. Visit our website for details.

705 S. McClelland 928-8414 smdiscoverymuseum.org


❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

arts & eNtertaINMeNt from page 28

Best Place to Have a Kids’ Party

Chuck E. Cheese 2254 S. Bradley road, Santa M aria This year, I am going to have my birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. That big mouse and his friends sure knows how to throw a party and my Grandma says they’ve been doing it since 1977. That means they are really old, like my Grandma, but she is young at heart and so is Chuck E. Cheese. You can call them and reserve a table. You can even send a free online invitation to your friends. Then show up and, just like a magical feast, there’s yummy pizza and drinks for you and your guests, and tokens to play arcade games or go on rides. Chuck E. Cheese and his pals entertain everyone and it’s lots of fun! Grownups just bring the cake and relax, and that’s no fairy tale! Don’t forget the presents! —Sam

runner up:

Waller Park

Best local artist

Nat Fast There was once an artist whose work was so enchanting, he was knighted by the Sun as Sir Best Local Artist. And this past many years, he has he defended that title valiantly. The ephemeral magic cast by the denizens of PCPA is regularly captured within his canvas. At the time of this interview, Fast was working on a painting of the two protagonists and two antagonists from the 1960s-set musical Hairspray, which PCPA presented earlier this summer.

He also enjoyed the 1920s-style costumes from PCPA’s recent production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona “It reminds me of when I was a little guy,” he said. (He was born in 1924.) Fast’s portfolio of PCPA-related work is available for viewing in the Marian Theater lobby, and prints are sold there as well. The original paintings are auctioned off at PCPA’s Gala and Open House, and proceeds benefit the company’s —Brent scholarship program.

runner up:

Dale Kreiter

Best live tHeater

PCPA Theaterfest 800 S. College drive, Santa M aria PCPA is like a fairy godmother, transforming Santa Maria into a land of art and culture. Once upon a summer theater season, the company put on a world-premiere musical about Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote fairy tales of the kind that inspired this Best Of theme. Marketing Director Maria Centrella said PCPA is “very excited” about the production. She described the show: “Hans Christian Andersen goes on a fantastic journey, confronts his shadow, and meets all sorts of wonderful characters from his fairy tales.” Then, in September, PCPA will close its summer season with the musical Caroline, or Change, by acclaimed playwright Tony Kushner. The company will kick off its next season with A Christmas Carol, just in time for the holidays. —Brent

runner up:

Santa Maria Civic Theatre arts & eNtertaINMeNt continued on page 31

Best Place to Look 10 Years Younger Best Place To Make You Look 10 Years Younger 2008, 2009, 2010 & 2011

Call Today 928-1000

Gift Certificates Available

Dr. Michael W. Moats, a board certified dermatologist has been serving the Santa Maria Valley for over 30 years. And Moats Laser and Skin Care customizes each treatment to your specific needs performed by a highly trained, caring team of professionals. Michael W. Moats, MD Board Certified Dermatologist www.moatslaser.com 805.928.1000 525 E. Plaza Drive Ste. 200 All major credit cards accepted . Interest free Financing Avaiilable

Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011 ❧ ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT from page 30

ing to the Sun’s devoted readers, Sunny Country 102.5 is the station to turn to for good music and good company. The station has been on the air for almost 32 years, bringing great country music and real talk to listeners on the Central Coast. The station’s program director and morning talk show co-host, Jay Turner, said Sunny Country is a small-town radio station everyone can relate to. “A lot of radio stations come in from far away, but we’re live, local, of the people and for the people,” Turner said. There are plenty of radio stations to choose from, but when you need information between songs, 102.5 is where you want to turn for the scoop on the country music world. “We’re real, authentic radio. What you see is what you get,” Turner said. —Kristina

Best MuseuM/Learning Center

Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum 705 S. Mcclelland St., Santa M aria

The Beat KPAT runner up (tie): Mega KRTO

Here children and the young at heart may “discover as much as their imaginations can come up with about themselves, our valleys, our worlds, and beyond,” said museum director Kelly White O’Neill. Get the skinny on healthy foods in the Discovery Diner with its life-size nutrition labels. Discover space travel, and head to Mars on a visiting rocket ship. Be artistic at the Creation Station. Learn about local farming, coastlines, and nature habitats with hands-on exhibits and activities. Check out tropical fish and reptiles. Wanna hold an iguana? Reptile handler Aimee Crispen visits on Tuesdays and Thursdays when visitors may get up close and personal with tortoises, boas, and even dragons! Okay, bearded dragons—and there are no frogs for kissing. But there will soon be a new exhibit with touch screens and activities all about whales—and that’s no fish story, ’cause whales aren’t fish! —Ariel

runner up:


Santa Maria Public Library

Best radio station

Sunny Country

runner up (tie):

Best radio/tv PersonaLity

Jay Turner Sunny country, KSni, FM 102.5 Rip Van Winkle slept for 20 years, but Jay Turner did something better: He’s been in the radio business for more than 20 years. You have to be awake for that. Starting in Providence, R.I., he then moved to Florida; Victorville, Ariz.; and then SLO. He’s been on the Central Coast for 18 years and right here in Santa Maria for 11 1/2 of those. “We’re live and local ... at all the events,” he said. He’s known for playing new music and the legends. In —Roberta fact, he’s known for playing it all!

KSni 102.5 FM

runner up: The

Nothing else brightens up your day like some music, and accord-

er christian-filmer

santa maira ventura

san luis obispo mazatlan

Chief, Tony Gonzalez



er at k -s ie b b ro

chad-ripper! cody-skater

family!!!!! derek-?????? gavin-future!





1 timothy 4:12


❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011








We treat your Pet as if they were our OWN. SMALL ANIMAL • MEDICINE • SURGERY • DENTISTRY



Puppy - Kitten Health Programs • Chiropractic Care Vaccination Clinics • Reduced Fee Spay - Neuter Days

All Valley Pet Hospital Traditional & Holistic Medicine Martin M. Vale, D.V.M. Julie R. Bosserman D.V.M.

Best Veterinarian

230-A East Betteravia Road, Santa Maria In the Ross Shopping Center

7-7 Monday - Friday • 9-Noon Saturday By Appointment


Thank You...

for voting us the Best Travel Agency in Santa Maria. We appreciate your business!

Member of Jewelers of America, 3D VIRTUAL DESIGN SERVICES, Custom Design, Engraving, Jewelry Repair, Cleaning and Polishing, Reset Stones, Stone Replacement, Custom Wedding Sets, Watch Repair, Watch Battery and Bands. Eyewear Frames, Emergency Repair Services.

Automobile Club of Southern California 2033-B S. Broadway, Santa Maria · 805.614.1745 675 North H Street, Lompoc · 805.740.5208

Travel Services: · World-wide Travel Services · Cruises & Tours · Hotel Reservations · Travel Information

614-7711 323 Town Center West #C1-C www.jbsjewelers.com CTR# 1016202-80

Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011 ❧

35 PHoto by Steve e. Miller

Best LocaLLy owned cLothing store

One Way Board Shop 2348 S. Bradley, Santa M aria 250 Santa M aria town Center (upper level), Santa M aria Whether you’re looking to grind pavement, hit the bunny hills, or ride the waves, One Way Board Shop is the place to go for all your surf, skate, and snowboarding gear. One Way has been open for 11 years and offer hundreds of brands; the three most popular are Vans, RVCA, and Volcom. What separates One Way from the plethora of other surf, skate, and snow shops on the Central Coast is that all of its employees have a passion for what they sell. Everybody—even the owners—surf, skate, snowboard, or do some combination of the three. But for owner Dan Pankratz, what makes One Way most unique is its constant local involvement. “We host a lot of events in the community. We host skate demos at schools, whether it is for entertainment, reward, or for drug and alcohol awareness programs,” he said. Watch for a snowboarding contest with real snow in their own parking lot. “As long as the community supports us, we will support them,” Pankratz said. Right on, dude! —Kristina

runner up:

Best PLace


The Jean Pool

Buy Kids’ cLothes




Best reaL estate comPany

Caldwell Banker Premier Real Estate 2540 profeSSional parkway, Santa M aria House for sale with candy decorations outside and new oven inside ... just follow the breadcrumbs to see it. Or, better yet, contact Coldwell Banker Premier Real Estate. The company, started by Dan Blough, has been in this area since 1979. George Murphy took over in 2006—though he’d been with the group since 1989—and the legacy continues. George’s son Shay Murphy, vice president of the company and sales manager, says, “We have the client’s interest at heart, providing good service to the client and to other agents in the area.” Check out the website for featured properties, relocation information, and other services. —Roberta

Century 21

Goodwill Industries

M a in S tr eet Santa M aria, orCutt, loMpoC C yCleS if you ’r e looking for the B eSt B ik e There’s nothing like a good thrift store shopping spree. S hop. C ruiSe in , You get a lot of cool stuff for not that much money! The CruiSe out. preferred thrift store in the area, according to Sun readers, S w eet! is Goodwill Industries, with various locations throughout the

It’s time to get your little Hansel and Gretel ready to go back to school. If they’re anything like my grandson, they grew like Jack’s beanstalk over the summer and need everything from head to foot. Target hits the bull’s-eye when it comes to finding great clothes at terrific prices. My little “Jack” hates clothes shopping, so outfitting for school is an ordeal—but not at Target. He says, “Target’s cool because it’s an everything kind of store!” He’s right. You’ll find everything, including cartoon character underwear, popular fashions that kids adore, shoes and sports footwear, and even nifty accessories, book-bags, and school supplies for your trendy students, small and tall! My youngster claims that even the Emperor might have learned something if he had bought his new clothes at Target! —Ariel

runner up:

cycle r ea derS Say to

hea d to

223 e. Betteravia road, Santa M aria

runner up:

Best thrift store

The greaT

county. “We’re very thankful for the donations we get,” said senior manager Jeff Ward. “It says on the sign ‘Your donations create jobs,’ and that’s true.” Goodwill’s mission isn’t just to provide the community with reasonably priced wares, but also to give people with barriers to employment a chance to work to economic independence and employment. —Joe

runner up:


Best gift shoP

Company’s Coming 1108 e. Clark ave., Suite 140, orCutt Once upon a time, the shoppers of Santa Maria skipped down the road to the mysterious but alluring unincorporated kingdom of Orcutt. There, they found a gift shop like no other, where every shelf held some new wonder to behold. Owner Marty Willey said the “eclectic gift shop” has been in business 33 years, and is the oldest store in Oak Knolls Plaza. The shop’s wares include baby items, jewelry, “boutique-type” clothing, gourmet kitchen items, linens, and cards. “We appreciate our customers who have committed to shopping locally,” Willey said. “It creates the character of the community. If we don’t have the supporters, then there’ll be no little shops anymore. I really appreciate my —Brent customers [and] let them know that as often as I can.”

runner up:


Best LocaLLy owned JeweLry shoP

Fischer’s Fine Jewelry 225 e. Main St., Santa Maria So what makes Prince Charming so charming? Besides the handsome looks, the confident stride, and that whole being a prince thing, it’s because

BurNiN’ Cash continued on page 36


❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

BurNiN’ Cash from page 35

Best Place

he knows where to go to buy the finest jewelry. He takes advice from Sun readers and goes to Fischer’s Fine Jewelry, voted Best Jewelry Store in our annual poll. Fischer’s offers gold and platinum, diamonds and gemstones, wedding rings and more. When the prince bought a wedding ring for his bride, he even had it engraved with his favorite pet name for her: “Sweetikins.” Fischer’s was the jewelry store behind the beautiful ring that made her say “I do” and made Prince Charming come out looking like a winner. Later, when the princess wants to get an appraisal on that beautiful ring, she can head to Fischer’s to find out how much she really means to Prince Charming. Fischer’s also does jewelry repair and restoration and watch repair. Take a cue from Prince Charming and head over to Fischer’s Fine Jewelry and treat your own princess to a wonderful surprise. —Shelly

runner up:

Best Place


Melby’s Jewelers

Buy Music

Best Buy 2326 S. Bradley road, Santa Maria From Mozart to Mates of State, music is a hugely diverse art form, but where can you find all the music you need under one roof? Sun readers choose Best Buy as the best place to buy their music. Rows and rows of compact discs in every genre are available at Best Buy. Country, rock, oldies, classical, comedy, rap, alternative, and Hispanic music are all ready to be ripped out of their plastic wrappers and jammed into CD players. Best Buy is never behind the technological curve. That’s why the store offers gift cards for digital music distributors such as iTunes or Napster. Whether you get your music in hard copy or through cyberspace, Best Buy has you covered. —Joe

runner up:

Buy eyewear



Best Bookstore

The Bookworm

1335 S. Bradley road, Santa Maria Sometimes what you need is a good pair of glasses to turn that Kafkaesque squalor into fairy tale happiness, and that’s why we have Costco. Not only does Costco have a great selection of stylistic eyewear fit for a king, it has a great optician on hand, someone who’s certified, of course. The optician can sign for your prescription, then you can have them fill it in Costco, and while you wait, you can take care of your shopping or relax with a plump, juicy hot dog. That’s even more efficient than Merlin’s method of prescription. —Henry

runner up:


230 e. Betteravia road, Santa Maria When you walk inside, you’ll notice a peaceful silence weaving among the stacks of books lining the walls and neatly organized piles on the floor. This cozy bookstore, open for six years, is owned and run by Sheila Butterworth. The Bookworm is home to such a wide range of books, novels, and manuals that even a picky reader won’t be disappointed. “We have a good variety,” Butterworth


BurNiN’ Cash continued on page 37


Our Northern Santa Barbara County Locations:

2540 Professional Parkway SANTA MARIA (805) 934-1000 info@cbsantamaria.com

2933 Grand Avenue, Suite D LOS OLIVOS (805) 688-3200 info@cblosolivos.com

Best Real Estate Company

Best Place to Work Our Other Office Locations:

PASO ROBLES (805)239-1900 info@cbpasorobles.com

SAN LUIS OBISPO (805)544-7884 info@cbsanluis.com

PISMO BEACH (805)773-6611 info@cbpismo.com




HANFORD (559)584-2121 info@cbhanford.com


OAKHURST (559)642-2100 info@cboakhurst.com

VISALIA (559)734-5831 info@cbvisalia.com

Best of northern santa BarBara County 2011 ❧ Burnin’ Cash from page 36

Best Video Game selection

said. “We don’t specialize in romances or mysteries or things like that.” The owner herself has a wide array of reading interests, from self-help to psychology. When an avid reader walks in the door, he or she can expect the full attention of a woman with a twinkle in her eye and a faint English accent. She’s more than willing to help in the quest to find the perfect book: “I enjoy people and being of service. It’s very important to me.” —Malory

runner up:

Best FaBric

Dollar Book Store


Quilt store

Betty’s Fabrics

GameStop 2204 S. Bradley road, Santa Maria Fairy tales are cool. But sometimes what you need is a great escape to a virtual world, and there’s no better place to get started than GameStop. The store offers some of the new hits in the video game world, for all of the major consoles, at a low price—either used or new. And, where else can you bring in a game and trade it for a new one, as if you’ve been friends for a long time? Plus, the employees on hand are rather knowledgeable when it comes to the current games and more. It’s clear, Santa Maria. If you’re looking to live ever happily after, look no further than GameStop. —Henry

runner up:

1627 S. Broadway, Santa Maria Once upon a Santa Maria morning, with the fog hanging over the strawberry fields, a damsel was in distress. She was in need of a gown for the ball, but her fairy godmother couldn’t sew a stitch. She sped her pumpkin carriage to Santa Maria’s most trusted name in fabric: Betty’s Fabrics, where the helpful and experienced staff guided her toward all the necessary supplies she required to look like a princess that night. They measured several sheets of golden lace, silk, and velvet for the damsel who picked up some spare needles, thread, and other sewing supplies. She sped home to get to work and looked stunning in her beautiful new gown at the ball that night—thanks to the help of Betty’s Fabrics. And the best thing of all? The gown didn’t disappear at midnight along with her pumpkin carriage. —Joe

runner up:


Beverly’s Fabrics and Crafts

Best Buy

Best audio/Video eQuipment store

Best Buy 2326 S. Bradley road, Santa Maria Home theater technology has made some very serious leaps and bounds in the last few years, allowing consumers to bring movie theater quality into their own home, and the outfit that keeps locals best equipped is Best Buy. The store offers “full experience” set ups, which include the television, DVD, stereo, surround sound, and more. The really hot topic right now is the smart TV, which allows viewers to stream Internet to their television. And Best Buy’s seasoned installation staff can handle all the

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A for choosing us as one of the BEST! Each office is independently owned and operated!

Best Real Estate Company

Santa Maria & Lompoc Agents Pictured Front Row Left to Right: Fred Pluard, Miko Nehman, Yolanda Ponce, Yolanda Perez,Albert Ruiz, Connie Barlow, Daniel Armenta, Rocio Vallejo, Olga Olivera, Leona Doidge Back Left to Right: Joe Paul Garcia, Stephanie Harmes, Pamela Hogue, Sandy Frazier, Beth Stewart,April Hugh, Jay Conner, Pat Silva, Kalua Kuhnle, Guillermina Hale, Jeannie Lambert, Sandra Allen, Pam Hubbard, Sara Salcedo Not Pictured: Shea Hutchinson, Randy Smith, Diane Adams, Miguel Arevalo,Lisa Blume, Bob Folden, Gilbert Gauna, Dorothy Guida, Armando Gonzales, Larry Hogue, Lisa Morinini, Bette Naugle, Lourdes Rodriguez, Chuck Rosing, Deanna Sanchez, Necia Shelton, Aaron Smathers,Ray Spencer, Raye Vega, Chuck Barlow, Angela Brooks, Billie Jean Chadwick, Russ French, Lena Meurling, Belinda Pruitt, Reina Solorio, Lee Weir, Sandra Peterson, Red Sanders

1811 S. Broadway, Santa Maria 805-934-2105 www.C21Home.com license #00874459


❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011



RESIDENCES for adults with Alzheimer’s or other forms of DEMENTIA 4620 & 4630 Song Lane near Old Town Orcutt WEB www.magnoliacare.net CELL 805 / 310-6996 Chuck & Margie Halsell, Owners

Best of northern santa BarBara County 2011 ❧ Burnin’ Cash from page 37


a software malfunction, Sun readers choose Best Buy as their favorite place to take their computer when in need of repair. “Geek Squad has become a household name,” said customer solutions manager Andy Cortez. “Geek Squad agents have to be trained and certified to work on the computers. When people come in here, they know we are the highest trained and knowledgeable.” The agents even do house calls. Locals may recognize the white and black Volkswagen bugs that drive around town with the Geek Squad logo emblazoned on the side. That means someone has just been helped with a computer problem. —Joe

stress of setting up these digital domains. Best Buy also covers your automobile sound systems. They install on site and have a very impressive selection of stereo equipment. —Joe

runner up:

Audio Video City

Best Place to Buy a comPuter

Best Buy 2326 S. Bradley road, Santa Maria

runner up (tie):

While the television was the main media vehicle from the ’50s on in America, we now live in the age of the computer. When Sun readers need their technological demands met, they turn to Best Buy, where a mammoth selection of computers, hardware, and software awaits. “We carry all major brands: Dell, HP, Sony, Toshiba. We have the biggest selection in town,” said customer solutions manager Andy Cortez. “We have the biggest selection of not just computers, but tablets as well, for people who are adopting

ABRO Computers runner up (tie)): Staples

Best Bike shoP

Main Street Cycles 311 e. Main St., Santa Maria PHotoS by Steve e. Miller

Little Red Riding Hood walked to Grandma’s house every week to bring her a basket of goodies. She walked through the woods— which could sometimes be scary—over a big hill and across a meadow that seemed to stretch out to the horizon. Then one day as she started out on her trek she said, “Forget this, I’m getting a bike,” and she headed over to Main Street Cycles for the perfect ride. Sun readers like Main Street Cycles, too. “It feels pretty good, to get that honor,” said owner Scott Clark. “Even in the absence of a reader’s poll and regardless of what the competition is doing, we’re always striving to be the best at what we do.” Main Street Cycles offers every level of bike, from kids’ rides to prolevel cycles. Known as the pro shop with the friendly attitude, the store will celebrate its 25th year in business this year. That’s a strong testament to their customer’s appreciation. “No matter whether they are buying a kids’ bike or a $10,000, top of the line, pro bike, we treat our customers with respect and professionalism,” Clark said, just before he raced over to help a Jack and Jill with a tandem ride. —Shelly

that technology now.” All the major brands of tablets and e-readers are available at Best Buy, as is a cornucopia of desktop and laptop computers. —Joe

runner up:


Best Place to rePair a comPuter

runner up:

Best friends l ook ing for SoMe

Ca nin e or feline CoM -

pa nionShip?

t he S a nta M a r i a Va lley huM a ne S oCiet y waS Voted B eSt p laCe to g et a p et.

Best Buy 2326 S. Bradley road, Santa Maria Computers have made life much easier, but boy are they complicated. Whether they’re dealing with a virus, hardware problems, or

Pedal Power

Best sPorts/outdoor store

Big 5 Sporting Goods 305 town Center weSt, Santa Maria Tired of playing baseball with sticks and pinecones? When it’s time to get equipped with some sports gear, Sun readers agree on Big 5 Sporting Goods for all their sports and outdoor needs. “We have a more eclectic offering,” said store manager Ron Dodbs. “We have a variety of things we offer, and we are seasonally toned.” Depending on the sports season, Big 5 offers a plethora or sporting goods, and always offers all your outdoor survival gear from tents to stoves. Game hunting is not ignored either with rifles,

Burnin’ Cash continued on page 40


❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

BurNiN’ Cash from page 39

Best aUto repairs (tie)

shotguns, and fishing rods, bait, and tackle. The store is also known for its very fairly priced shoe selection. —Joe

runner up:

Play It Again Sports

Best LocaL Bank


credit Union

Coast Hills Federal Credit Union Lompoc, Nipomo, orcutt, SaNta maria, VaNdeNberg air Force baSe, aNd VaNdeNberg ViLLage Has the declining economy killed off your golden goose? Do you find yourself trying to spin straw into gold? What you need is a reliable credit union that offers superb service, sound financial advice, and programs to help keep you on even financial footing. Coast Hills Federal Credit Union is all that and a bag of magic beans! Established in 1958, the credit union was originally created to serve military families stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Their professional ethos is to identify customers’ needs and offer solutions. They offer such personal and business financial services as checking and savings accounts, loans, lines of credit, wealth management, and community education. Whether you’re saving for college or retirement, Coast Hills has the know-how to help you protect your nest egg. —Ariel

runner up:

Community Bank of Santa Maria

Drop by and see why we are voted

BestGift Shop

year after year



1108 E. Clark, Orcutt • 937-8766

Pichard Automotive 1137 W. cypreSS St., SaNta maria

No one likes sending their car to the shop. They fear the worst and at times don’t know what to expect. A talented and trustworthy mechanic can be invaluable, which is why people keep coming back to Pichard Automotive. “I always make an exalted effort to make the customer happy,” says manager Bernard Pichard. “We have the idea that many customers don’t really understand the way their car works. We always pay extra attention on what the issues of the car are. And that’s what I think has been the key for us, to address the right diagnosis of the car.” The result is a loyal consumer base. Pichard believes 99 percent of his customers are returning customers and the reason why the business remains strong in a struggling economy. —Jacob

Best aUto repairs (tie)

Pat’s Automotive 931 S. bLoSSer road, SaNta maria Pat’s Automotive has been serving the Santa Maria community since 1985, and not much has changed—despite all the new car technology. The customer is still king. “The cars and technology keep changing, and we keep up with that as far as training and education goes, but the way we treat the customer hasn’t changed,” explains owner Pat Nicoll. “We treat people the way we like to be treated.” Their slogan—“We test, not guess”—ensures you’ll get the highest quality service, your car will receive the necessary improvements, and you won’t get stuck with extraneous fees. —Jacob

runner up:

Jaekel’s Automotive BurNiN’ Cash continued on page 41

Best of northern santa BarBara County 2011 ❧ Burnin’ Cash from page 40

Best Auto DeAlership, New

Toyota of Santa Maria 700 E. BEttEravia, Santa Maria Shopping for a new car can be confusing and a real pain these days. You want to buy from a dealership that knows what it’s doing, but that also has your back. The dealership that fits that description locally is Toyota of Santa Maria. “It’s a privilege to be in this area because we have a great customer base. They love us and we love them,” says General Manager Carl Deriso. “I can replace a car, but I can’t replace a customer. It’s all about the relationship.” Car, truck, or SUV—if any vehicle on the lot is the right fit for you, the sales staff will find it. All sales consultants are trained, certified, and well versed in the latest industry developments to ensure you receive the best help possible. —Jacob

runner up:

Home Motors

Best Auto DeAlership, useD

Toyota of Santa Maria 700 E. BEttEravia, Santa Maria These guys again? Yes, Toyota of Santa Maria really is that awesome. They’re voted the best used-car dealership for a reason. They care. They hang their hat on customer satisfaction, and it shows. It’s not hard to negotiate when both sides trust each other. They see a lot of repeat business, where a family keeps coming back each time they want to trade in. “We take anything in on trade and will look to see if it’s a vehicle that offers something for our customers, our market. We keep the right vehicles for our inventory,” says General Manager Carl Deriso. “There’s a lot of


people that want cars that are $10,000 or less, there’s a lot of people that want cars that are $5,000 or less. So we just try to look at every vehicle, put it through safety inspection and, if it makes sense, we’ll put it on our lot.” —Jacob

runner up:

Best plAce


Home Motors

Buy tires

Costco 1335 S. BradlEy road, Santa Maria Do you ever wonder what happens at the end of fairy tales when the happy couple rides away in the sunset in a horse and carriage? Well, if they went to Costco, like Sun readers, they won’t be falling prey to faulty tires. Costco offers expert advice on those round things that keep you rolling and offers a great selection as well. Best of all, you might not even have to go in to get your tires. Just go to Costco’s website, put in your car info, and it’s as if they have magical employees, because your tires will basically appear on your car. Well, almost. —Henry

runner up:

Big Brand Tires

Best cAr wAsh

Santa Maria Car Wash 629 S. Broadway, Santa Maria, 2301 S. Broadway, Santa Maria Let’s face it. Even Cinderella’s fairy godmother needed to wax up that “blingin’” pumpkin carriage. If she were looking for a place here in Santa Maria, she’d head over to Santa Maria Car Wash. Because every customer is royalty, this car wash makes

Burnin’ Cash continued on page 42

The Staff, Management and Board of Directors would like to thank the Community for voting the Annual Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival the “Best Community Festival” for 2011 in Northern Santa Barbara County. ************* We hope you will join us in 2012 for the 25th Annual Strawberry Festival~April 27th-29th


❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

BurNiN’ Cash from page 41 sure its customers don’t have to lay a hand to labor: At the 629 Broadway location, customers have a chance to receive a full service car wash, and the 2301 Broadway car wash is a drive through. Either way, your car will look cleaner than it did when you bought it. —Henry

runner up:

Best Place


Splash n Dash

Fill UP YoUr car

Union 76 Old Orcutt 100 E. Clark, OrCutt When it comes to gas stations, Sun readers agree: the Union forever. How to get to this enchanted place, you ask? Just go over the mountain and cross the plains and open your car door and you’ll find yourself at this rustic little gas station that sits in the middle of a town that refuses to catch on to modern flow. This quaint gas station offers much more than a gas pump for a hungry car; it’s a place to take care of basic car maintenance and somewhere to do a smog check. And, thanks to the scenery, you won’t be aghast at the rising gas prices. —Henry

runner up:

Main Street Shell at 101

Best carPet/Flooring store

Valley Flooring Carpet One

One is family. This family-owned business has been a local mainstay for more than 40 years and is so well regarded, it enjoys third-generation customers. Such customer loyalty is rare nowadays. “Our mission is to serve our customers and help them get the ideal flooring for their home,” says Manager Eric Ferrari. “We have an unbelievable selection here: over 3,000 area rugs and all kinds of flooring in stock, carpeting, laminate, vinyl, tile, hardwood.” Ferrari can’t say enough about his professional and well-trained staff, whom he credits as essential to the store’s success. Carpet One’s installers are held to the highest standards—and they have to be, because their service includes a Lifetime Installation Warranty. No wonder these guys are so popular. —Jacob

runner up:

G&S Carpet

Best FUrnitUre store

Weatherby’s Furniture 1505 S. BrOadWay, Santa Maria Weatherby’s offers lots of furniture to choose from. I can see Goldilocks shopping for a new queen-size here: “This bed is too soft, this bed is too hard, but this one is just right!” Office Clerk Celeste Valdez said the staffers really go all out in their efforts to pair people with the perfect pieces: “We go above and beyond with customer service. Sometimes our sales people will go to a customer’s home and look at the decor and then come back to the store and work with them.” Get the best tables, sofas, and more from —Roberta the shop Sun readers voted Best Furniture store.

runner up:


1133 W. COOk, Santa Maria The first thing that comes to mind in regard to Valley Flooring Carpet

BurNiN’ Cash continued on page 43

Mandarin · Szechuan · Hunan · Cuisine Lunch • Dinner • Buffet • Banquet.

Thank you for voting us One of the Best Chinese Restaurants in Santa Maria Valley Bes t Bes t 11 years in a row! of

Santa Maria Valley


Santa Maria Valley

Thank you Santa Maria & Orcutt

SPECIAL LUNCH OFFER Take Out Only 11am-2:30pm Choice of 2 items from buffet, includes fried rice and chow mein


Only $6.95 Add a 3rd item for only $1.00 more!


$4 Sunburst Tans $7 Power or Monster Bed Tans (reg. $5)

Open 7 Days a Week 2011-E S. Broadway, Santa Maria, CA 93454


(reg. $10)

ORCUTT SALON ONLY All day M-F 8-7; Sat.-Sun. 9-1

1439 S. Broadway · JCPenny Center · Santa Maria · 922-7377 www.tannerscove.net 1140 E. Clark · Albertsons Center · Orcutt · 937-7000 We Appreciate Your Support

Best of northern santa BarBara County 2011 ❧ Burnin’ Cash from page 42

Best Hardware store

Orchard Supply Hardware 1950 S. Broadway, Santa Maria If the three little piggies were around today, Orchard Supply Hardware would have been the place they would have gone to buy materials to keep that huffin’ and puffin’ wolf off their hams. And with all of that building material and employee know-how, well, run for the hills, Mr. Big Bad Wolf, because these three piggies will be able to build themselves one formidable fortress. What makes OSH so popular must be its well-stocked store. It carries everything a budding handyman could imagine—and at a low price that’s affordable. —Henry

runner up:

Ace Hardware

Best Home accessories store

Pier 1 Imports 230 E. BEttEravia, SuitE n, Santa Maria Could your humble abode use a little touch up or a complete decorative redesign? If so, the only place to go, according to the Sun readers, is Pier 1 Imports. Inject some flash and fun into your surroundings. Pier 1 sends people all over the world to find the freshest and most exotic treasures for its customers. Merchandise consists of a wide variety of home furnishings, including candles, vases, and picture frames. You’ll also find full-sized furniture and seemingly everything in between. According to Pier 1’s official website, “The focus is original. Everything has a global, artisan feel, but the charm is always familiar. You’ll see that each time you visit up.” —Jacob

runner up:

Home Depot

Best Landscaper

Nishimori Landscaping 807 S. BloSSEr road, Santa Maria Nishimori Landscape and Design has been serving Central Coast residents with high quality service for almost 20 years, specializing in custom residential design and installation since 1991. If the name sounds familiar, chances are good that you heard about them from a satisfied customer. When you’re the best at something, you tend to let your performance speak for itself. “We pride ourselves in listening to our customer’s needs,” says Jill Sims, partner and director of operations for Nishimori. “We have a lot of repeat customers. We have customers who we’ve had for 18 years. So much of our business is word of mouth.” Customer service goes a long way. There’s a reason Sun readers have voted them Best Landscaper five years running. —Jacob

runner up:


Best nursery

Whispering Tree Nursery 110 norriS StrEEt, orcutt Home gardening seems to be increasing in popularity year after year. If you want to get in on the fun, do what gardening enthusiasts have done for years and take a trip to Whispering Tree Nursery. It doesn’t matter if you live on a ranch or in a condo. “Our mission is to have one of the nicest selection of trees, plants, flowers combined with knowledgeable nursery people on staff,” says Buyer Aaron Stern. “There is always something blooming.” Whispering Tree deserves a big star on both counts. The nursery keeps things fresh by constantly introducing new merchandise, and providing unique plants, pottery, and statues to its customers. The diverse


staff can make the most intimidating aspects of gardening seem like cake thanks to years and years of horticulture experience. It’s all fun to them. —Jacob

runner up (tie):

Old Town Garden Center

runner up (tie):

Home Depot

Best FLower sHop

Camfeldt’s Flowers & Gifts 2345 S. Broadway, SuitE d, Santa Maria If you’re looking for something sweet to present your princess, look no further than Camfeldt’s Flowers & Gifts! “We make all of your dreams come true and make sure you are happy,” said Manager Lupe Aguilar. With arrangements called “Zen Artistry” and “Enchanted Cottage,” the capable staff at Camfeldt’s can fashion just about anything for any occasion! Florists with flourish ensure the floral arrangements at Camfeldt’s are anything but ordinary. “We’re more creative and edgy than other flower shops. We’re not cookie cutter,” Aguilar said. This enchanted flower shop prides itself on getting to know its customers, tailoring a piece of floral fine art specifically to the needs of an individual. “Each arrangement is special for that person for that moment,” Aguilar explained. —Malory

runner up:

Flower Carriage

Best pLumBer

Jack’s All American Plumbing 2011-a PrEiSkEr lanE, Santa Maria If you’ve recently had Rapunzel stay over, and she happened to clog up your plumbing with her hair, Sun readers suggest Jack’s All American Plumbing to clean it up. Jack’s All American Plumbing is not only celebrating its fifth year in a row of being selected as Santa Maria’s best, but it’s their 20th year in business. And the company’s popularity may be in part due to its fearless leader, Jack Bingham, since he’s as recognizable as Rapunzel herself, thanks to those quirky commercials. “Jack’s mustache gets recognized a lot,” said Becky Bingham, the company’s president. “I think he likes it,” she added. —Henry

runner up:

Griffin Plumbing

Best Veterinarian

Dr. Martin Vale, All Valley Pet Hospital 230 a E. BEttEravia, Santa Maria Puss in Boots puts on his boots one at a time, and, just like us, he needs to see the doctor to stay in tip-top shape. Dr. Martin Vale may be a busy man—the day he spoke with the Sun he had three surgeries planned—but if knows one thing, it’s animals. They surround him every day, and they play an important role in his life. His wife raises an assortment of animals at home, and his son is a professional horseman. Dr. Vale opened his office in 1984—on May 9, he specifies. However, he’s been working with animals since he was around 14 or 15 years old, when his father got together with co-workers and bought some cows and horses to start a ranch. Although the ranch didn’t last that long, it sparked a passion that still burns today. —Henry

Dr. David Olwin, Evergreen Animal Clinic

runner up:

Burnin’ Cash continued on page 44


❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

BurNiN’ Cash from page 43

Best Place





Santa Maria Valley Humane Society 751 Black Road, Santa MaRia Everyone should have a pet. I’m serious. If you don’t have one, drop what you’re doing immediately (don’t worry, this paper is free) and head to the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society. Can’t make the trip? Visit their Facebook page or official website, SMVHS.org, and marvel at all the cuties they have available for adoption. The wonderful staff will assist you any way they can. “We’re trying to be as effective and efficient as we can with the resources that we have,” said Executive Director Jill Tucker. “We work very hard to increase our adoptions year over year. Last year, our adoption program took in 11.3 percent more animals for a total of 373.” Not only is adoption an ethically responsible decision, it’s also a financially responsible one. Prices range from $30 to $110, which includes the spaying, neutering, micro chipping and vaccinations that would cost you as much as $400 or $500 elsewhere. Plus, every time an animal gets adopted, they ring a bell. That’s neat. —Jacob

runner up:

Best Place


animal shelter




PetSmart 2306 S. BRadley Road, Santa MaRia People love their pets, and some owners really love to pamper their pets.

For the latter, there’s no better place to drop some cash on your animal than PetSmart. “We have customers with all types of needs. Some come in seeking a remedy to a specific problem, some come for regular maintenance such as buying food for their animal, and others come in for the salon or training department,” says Manager Eric Croiser. PetSmart is a one-stop shop for any animal lover—especially dog and cat owners who can take advantage of PetSmart’s premier salon service, which includes bathing, nail grinding, teeth brushing, and anything else a dog or cat may need. Want to teach your dog some new tricks? PetSmart’s dog training program will accomplish that in just one night a week during its six-week training course. —Jacob

runner up:

Best Place

Suzie’s Gaye Poodle





Dark Cloud Tattoo 617 e. Main St., Santa MaRia Did you know tattoos have magical powers? They do, according to Glenn Harding, one of the artists at Dark Cloud Tattoo in Santa Maria. “What’s magical about tattoos is that they alter the person’s opinion of themselves,” Harding said. “I’ve seen guys coming in to get tattoos and they’re looking kind of frail and meek. When they walk out, they’ve got their chests sticking out like, ‘Yeah, look at me. I’ve got a tattoo.’” Of course, the best tattoos are the ones that have significant meaning to their owners, and Dark Cloud has a whole group of artists available to match their clients’ individual style preferences. Whether it’s a fire-breathing dragon or a beautiful fairy queen you’ve got your heart set on, the artists at Dark Cloud will make your wildest tattoo dreams come true. —Amy

runner up:

Copper Coffin

BurNiN’ Cash continued on page 45

Best of northern santa BarBara County 2011 ❧ Burnin’ Cash from page 44

Best Place





Dark Cloud Tattoo 617 E. Main St., Santa Maria

In a glass case on the counter at Dark Cloud Tattoo in Santa Maria, there are dozens and dozens of different bejeweled treasures made to adorn one’s bellybutton. There are dolphins with diamonds on them, dainty silver pixies, and even a collection of studs with pictures of celebrities in them. “We always try to keep a good selection of jewelry,” said Frank Estrada, one of the shop’s piercers. “And whatever the customer wants, we’ll order it.” But the shop does way more than just bellybutton piercings. “We do tongues, monroes, snakebites, angel bites, ears—whatever they want really,” Estrada said. (For people who aren’t familiar with piercing lingo, monroes are off-center lip piercings designed to resemble Marilyn Monroe’s beauty mark; snakebites are upper lip piercings; and angel bites are piercings below the lower lip.) —Amy

runner up (tie): Raw Violets runner up (tie): Upper Room

Best PhotoGraPher

Luis Escobar, Reflections Photography Studio 824 S. Broadway, Santa Maria


she decided to peek around. To her surprise and delight, it was a cottage belonging to a family of bears—a mama bear, a papa bear, and a baby bear. “No one is going to believe this,” she thought, so she called her friend, photographer Luis Escobar of Reflections Photography Studio, to capture some pictures of the place. With his expert photographic skills, Escobar, who was named Best Photographer in the Sun readers’ poll, was sure to be able to get some excellent photos of the bear family cottage. Escobar offers senior, family, and business portraits. If you want a pretty picture of your pet, Escobar is the guy. And, of course, he does model and senior portraiture as well. He’s also available for wedding and event photography. At the bear cottage, Escobar was able to get some fascinating pictures of how the bears live: their three bowls of porridge, their chairs in the den, and their tidy little beds—that is, until they came home. —Shelly

runner up:

Best Place




Ashley Hylton

WeddinG recePtion

The Historic Santa Maria Inn 801 S. Broadway, Santa Maria When you meet the prince of your dreams, the wedding needs to be perfect. From the dress to the cake to the reception, everything needs to be special. Of course you can call on a fairy godmother, but in the absence of one, you can simply head to the Santa Maria Inn. With its picturesque setting and romantic gardens, the Historic Santa Maria Inn can make any wedding memorable. It was voted Best Place for a Wedding Reception by Sun readers. Sara San Juan, director of sales at the Historic Santa Maria Inn, credits the honor to the wonderful catering staff and beautiful grounds: “We have quite a few different sites for a ceremony on the grounds, with rose gardens and a

Goldilocks was walking through the forest one day when she happened upon a small cottage. Being a nosy sort with no respect for personal boundaries,

Burnin’ Cash continued on page 46

Still the #1 Carpet/Flooring Store! 1133 W. Cook 925-8718 Mon-Fri 9am-6pm · Sat 10am-5pm


Best Carpet/Flooring Store

We promise you’ll love the way your new floor looks, or we’ll replace it-FREE!†


❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011 PHoto by Steve e. Miller

BurNiN’ Cash from page 45 fountain—and the price is reasonable. And a lot of people simply enjoy the charm the inn has to offer.” Though it took this honor for receptions, you can actually have your entire wedding at the inn. Wedding packages are available and include all the amenities. Your wedding party, of course, can take advantage of the luxurious lodging. No matter how you meet your dream partner, celebrate at the Historic Santa Maria Inn. —Shelly

runner up:

Santa Maria Elks Lodge

Best Moving CoMpany

Meathead Movers 221 Town CenTer wesT, suiTe 351, sanTa Maria Moving can be a real headache. There’s an endless list of things to do, and the last thing you want to have is the physical strain of carrying a horrifically heavy sofa or the nightmare of seeing a beautiful antique table bite the dust. Do yourself a favor and enlist the help of Meathead Movers. They’ll provide you peace of mind and ensure a quick and efficient move. The meatheads are student-athletes of the highest quality who take pride in a job well done. Co-founder Aaron Steed stated on the company’s website, “The typical Meathead is a strong, moral, bad-ass mama’s boy.” You can rest assured that your belongings will be in safe hands. —Jacob

runner up:

Andersen Movers

Best plaCe to put up visiting FaMily

On the case

k irk and siMas, BesT aTTorney,


The Historic Santa Maria Inn

is PaCked wiTh PeoPle wiTh The know-how and

exPerienCe To win.

C on-

sider giving TheM a

Best attorney

Kirk and Simas 2500 Professional Pkwy., sanTa Maria Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put him back together, so he went to Kirk and Simas to take the king to court for an unsafe workplace. When Sun readers realize that life is no longer a fairy tale, the dynamic duo that can make life a little bit better is Kirk and Simas. The two can almost do anything: family law disputes, civil litigation, estate planning, and the list just goes on. In addition, the practice donates its barbecuing know-how for various charities, and shareholder Kathy Patton, the practice’s BBQ Queen, donates her time with the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo as well. —Henry

Michael B. Clayton runner up (tie): Richard Weldon

runner up (tie):

Best travel agenCy

AAA 2033 s. Broadway, suiTe B, sanTa Maria If it’s time for an enchanted vacation, it’s time to call AAA. Since the agency boasts more than 100 years of service and experience, why trust your getaway to anyone but the professionals? AAA can get you great deals and discounts on hotels and airfare, and with a staff as passionate about travel as Santa Maria Branch Supervisor Darci Buliavac, you know your vacation is in capable hands. “I would travel everywhere and anywhere I haven’t possibly been to,” Buliavac said. “I really love to travel.” The agency office itself looks like it’s been on a vacation, sporting cubicles smattered with pins and magnets from satisfied AAA members who bring the trinkets back as souvenirs. Why not let the AAA travel agency be your fairy godmother and help you travel in style for less? —Malory

runner up:

Agawa Travel

Trial run.

801 s. Broadway, sanTa Maria

Sun readers have spoken: The best way to keep your sanity, impress your pesky in-laws or wacky aunt and uncle, and give them a place to stay when they visit is to put them up at the Historic Santa Maria Inn. Established in 1917, the inn has a lot to offer its guests. Don’t be fooled by the antique décor; the hotel is a perfect blend of old world charm and modern amenities to keep the weary traveler comfortable and happy. Updated services include wireless Internet, Sterling Sleep Systems, flat-screen televisions, and on-demand movies—all of which are disguised by an old-fashioned theme expertly maintained by the inn. According to the general manager of 15 years, John Reinacher, the Santa Maria Inn is best known for its attention to details. Another selling point for the establishment is the “star-like” appeal: William Randolph Hearst, Charlie Chaplin, Demi Moore, and, most recently Rick Springfield have stayed at the inn. But according to Reinacher, the modern amenities aren’t what people love most: “This is a unique historical hotel that people find to be amazing, and they really enjoy the old world charm.” It’s a perfect blend of the old and the new. —Kristina

runner up:

Santa Maria Airport Radisson

Best new Business (within



CarMa Designs 350 e. Clark ave., suiTe 102, orCuTT CarMa Designs Accessories and Gift Boutique carries a beautiful line of custom floral pin arrangements and handmade floral hair accessories. Cinderella would be amazed at the beautiful hair accessories—perhaps she could find a beautiful bright orange flower hair pin to match her dress. And why not nab an adorable handbag and a cute scarf, too? CarMa also carries ball caps, bows, wallets, and more. Very much “un-evil” twin sisters Carrie Curiel and Mindy Anaya own the shop, and they’re always ready to help any Cinderella out. They also make a point to donate five percent of all credit card purchases to the Susan G. Konen Foundation for breast cancer awareness, and they participate in a variety of local fundraising events. Though the business has been open at its Orcutt location just about a year, the sisters have been creating their floral pin arrangements and hair accessories for more than three years. “Having strong family ties, we’ve received so much support and encouragement from our family and friends the whole way. That, coupled with our own determination never to fail, has helped us to get where we are,” Curiel said. —Shelly

runner up:

Rooney’s Irish Pub

Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011 ❧


ORCUTT THANK YOU! Santa Maria Sun readers for voting ORCUTT 76 as the best place to fill up!

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100 E. Clark Ave

In Old Town Orcutt







Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011 ❧

Happy Today or You Don't Pay!

(805) 934-1949

Visit our website at:



Thank You Sun Readers for your votes!


Lic# 823283

Thank You For Your Vote of CONFIDENCE!

Matthew P. Lane D.D.S. 2506 Proffesional Parkway Santa Maria, Ca. (805) 938-0100 www.pacificsmiledesign.com




Keller Williams r anks highest in customer satisfaction!

c o a s t a l va l l e y

Dick Keenan

Lawnae Hunter

204 E. Enos Drive, Santa Maria

Steve Weiss 805-310-5800

J.D. Power and Associates

Play It Again Sports wishes to

Thank all of our Customers and invite any new customers to

see what your missing!

Come see our beautiful Tile & Stone Showroom


On (805) 614-4200 InFREE s U Desig Home Join ebook n Ser c vice Fa Fax (805) 614-4226 Hours: Mon-Fri 8-5pm Sat 9-2pm

495 W. Betteravia, Santa Maria darla@contractorsplus.comcastbiz.net

2530-K S. Broadway, Santa Maria · 614-0072 www.playitagainsports-santamaria.com · pias11224@aol.com

Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011 ❧



sooth the beast of tension and restore the beauty of sublime relaxation. “I am so delighted I’m lIstenIng to be voted one r oBert o k er BloM , of the best masM.D., waS voteD B eSt sage therapists,” D octor . a ga in . a nD she stated—but aga in . t He loca l be warned. She’s Hea ler H aS ta k en tHe become so popuHonor ev ery y ea r lar that she’s had tHiS conteSt H aS to pare down her ex iSteD . appointments to better serve her long-time regular clientele. “I’m unable to take on new customers right now,” she explained. Hey, even massage therapists need to relax now and then. We wish her continued success and envy her regular clients, those lucky ducklings! —Ariel

runner up:

Kim Weekly

Best CHiropraCtor

Wayne Miller Best HealtH CluB FaCility/Gym

YMCA 3400 Skyway Drive, Santa M aria Looking to make fitness more than a fairy tale? Consider visiting a mystical and magical place known by a single letter: “The Y.” It’s a place with a positive environment for the family, offering a little bit of everything, from weights to step aerobics to a pool for aqua fitness And if money is a barrier to improved health, get this: Financial assistance is available. “The wonderful staff and nice club members make it feel like a home away from home,” said Cindy Most, membership service director. With that environment, a happily ever after can be a healthy ever after, too. —Roberta

runner up:

Western Village

Best massaGe tHerapist (tie)

Serenity Spa 3631 Sagunto St., Santa ynez Is your butt dragon? Do you want glow like a princess but feel more like a frazzled Cinderella? Then march your glass slippers over to Serenity Skin Spa, where owner and licensed aesthetician Heidi Fields says, “Our promise is to provide individual customized treatments that address clients’ specific needs.” She and massage therapist Sophia Avalos, M.T., specialize in various massage techniques, including customized Swedish meridian massage, hot stone massage, pregnancy massage, and gentle oncology massage for clients living with cancer. They also offer a bevy of services, including body treatments, facials, waxing, brow design, tinting, make-up, manicures, and pedicures. The professional and friendly staff provides one-on-one service in a peaceful environment that immediately makes you feel at ease. They will cast their magic spell of tranquility over your entire body and make you glow from head to toe! —Ariel

2441 ProfeSSional Parkway, Santa M aria When Jack chopped down the beanstalk, the giant who fell from it just had to live with those aches and pains. But the denizens of Santa Maria have more options, and they agree that the best is chiropractor Wayne Miller. According to his website, Dr. Miller has been in private family practice for 15 years. “Chiropractic is a system of adjusting the segments of the spinal column for the correction of the cause of ‘dis-ease’ (lack of ease).” That a quote from his site’s “philosophy” section, which shows he puts thought into his work. He’s also been the company doctor for the Allan Hancock College dance program since 1985, and we all know how well they move! —Brent

runner up:

WM Pierce Chiropractic

Best yoGa

YMCA 3400 Skyway Drive, Santa M aria Do you enjoy yoga? “We have a variety of different yoga instructors for different styles of yoga,” said Cindy Most, the YMCA’s membership service director. “The Y” offers multi-level yoga classes for health and fitness, and the instructors can modify the lessons to accommodate different attendees. So when Sleeping Beauty shows up after her long, long sleep, there’s a yoga class for her. The same goes for Snow White, who may want something that requires more flexibility when she shows up after her long, long sleep. —Roberta

runner up:

Best plaCe



Western Village a


Trends Salon 338 eaSt Betteravia roaD, Suite H, Santa M aria

Best massaGe tHerapist (tie)

Jessica Grant Jessica Grant is better than a fairy godmother. Her magic fingers can

Rapunzel looks in the mirror and realizes her gorgeous golden locks are not what they used to be. The blond is fading to near white and the ends are completely unmanageable. It’s high past time she climb down from her tower

feeliN’ Good continued on page 52


❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

feeliN’ Good from page 51

Best Doctor

to go get a cut and color, and there’s only one place in the kingdom of the Central Coast Rapunzel would let touch her precious tresses: Trends Salon. Established in 1989 and still operating under the same owner, Bruce Cleveland, Trends is a full service, upscale salon. After seeing a highly professional staff that offers services in everything from hair to skin to nails, Trends clients leave feeling and looking like fairy tale princesses. Kathleen Landress, a stylist for 11 years, loves working at Trends. “We are professional yet welcoming. We have quality products, merchandise, and educated hair dressers who love what they do,” Landress said. So to all you princesses out there, if you want a royal treatment, check out Trends Salon! —Kristina

runner up:

Sports Clips

Best Dentist

Matthew P.Lane, DDS 2506 Professional Pkwy., santa M aria Thanks to breakthroughs in technology over the years, the dentist’s office isn’t the place of horror kids and adults alike painted it to be in years past. Sun readers’ favorite tooth technician is Matthew P. Lane, DDS, because of his comfortable and friendly style. “We try to make everyone as comfortable as possible,” Lane said. “A lot of it has to do with the environment. It’s a friendly environment.” The waiting room alone puts you at ease. A big screen TV plays your favorite shows, and a bright freshwater aquarium is buzzing with happy little fish. And of course, the dentistry is of the highest caliber in that it’s very clean, painless, professional, and friendly. —Joe

Sara Tawata-Min, Town Center Dental

runner up:

Robert Okerblom, MD 1145 east Clark ave., suite f, santa M aria Not many Best Of contestants have won in their category every year, but Robert Okerblom has. At this point, locals should agree he’s truly the area’s best doctor. The family practice doctor has more than 30 years of experience and is a well-known community member. The tragic loss of his son Eric to a distracted driving accident led to the Eric Okerblom Foundation, which raises awareness of distracted driving. Dr. Okerblom took a brief hiatus from his practice recently to participate in a cross-country bike trip to raise awareness of his cause. Okerblom has a long standing reputation as a wonderful physician who brings a tenderness and care to his work that puts patients at ease and lets them feel reassured that they’re being carefully cared for. —Joe

runner up:

Patrick Voegele, MD

Best counselor/therapist

Shannon Larrabee, LMFT 518 e. M ain st., santa M aria Life is filled with ups and downs, and when you need to talk to someone about those tribulations, Shannon Larrabee is there for you. A licensed marriage and family therapist, Larrabee has been practicing in Santa Maria for the past nine years. Working at the Family Relational Therapy practice, composed of nine therapists with different areas of expertise, Larrabee’s specialty is trauma and helping people deal with major life changes. While Larrabee works

feeliN’ Good continued on page 53

Best oF northern santa BarBara County 2011 ❧ Feelin’ Good from page 52

Best tanning salon

with a wide range of ages, she’s especially proud of the Play Therapy Cottage, a specialized structure for children. “I like helping people feel better and stronger,” Larrabee said. “I want to be a good person along somebody’s path.” Attributing her success to working with an excellent group of people, Larrabee is a knight in shining armor to her community. —Malory

Tanners Cove

runner up:

Best Place


Skip Purpor

Make You look 10 Years Younger

Moat’s Laser and Skin Care 525 E. Plaza Dr., suitE 200, santa M aria

santa M aria, Orcutt, PisMO BEach Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? Snow White ... literally. Just because her last name is “White” doesn’t mean her skin color has to be. Every princess worth her crown deserves a good tan, and Sun readers say the best place to go is Tanner’s Cove. What started as one salon in the Landmark building with just five beds has expanded to five salons with 40 beds combined. Owners Jeff and Sharon Smith-Morrow have been building the business since they first met. The couple is looking to expand one of their salons into a miniature frozen yogurt parlor for their customers. Frozen yogurt and a natural-looking tan? What could be better for Californians? Sharon and Jeff love their customers and learned early on what they needed to do to be successful. “We learned to offer a quality product by changing our lamps regularly, and we offer reasonable prices for our customers,” Sharon said. With their bubbling personalities and commitment to pleasing customers, anyone who visits Tanner’s Cove is guaranteed to walk out with a rockin’ tan and a happy wallet. —Kristina

Does your mirror, mirror on the wall tell you you’re looking a little Grimm? Dermatologist Dr. Michael W. Moats and his expert staff will work their magic on your skin to restore a youthful look and provide skin care information. “Wearing a sunblock of SPF 30 or higher is important to help prevent skin damage and cancer,” said Physician Assistant Laura Rummel. “Apply and reapply, even on cloudy days.” Moats Laser and Skin Care offers laser hair removal, a photo-facial machine that reverses brown and red spots, peels for acne and skin damage, an FX resurfacing laser that exposes new skin, and Botox and Juvederm injectable fillers to reduce wrinkles. Now who’s the fairest of them all? —Ariel

runner up:

Trends Salon

runner up:

Image Tanning

Best Manicure/Pedicure

Sunny Nails 1140 E. clark avE., santa M aria Once upon a time, Cinderella woke up to find that one of her beautiful pink nails had been chipped. She began to panic—a princess could not be seen with such a blemish! So Cinderella snuck out of the castle, hopped in her

Feelin’ Good

Thank You Santa MariaValley!          

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1220 Suey Road • Santa Maria, CA 93454 www.merrillgardens.com

License #425801345

Retirement, Assisted Living & Alzheimer’s Care

continued on page



❧ Best oF northern santa BarBara County 2011 PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER

what sets the Children’s Center apart from other facilities, director Thesa Roepke said, “We’re You’re too tense! a lab school. That b eSt a lteR nati v e means we’re a teacher H ea leR , d R . H eR b training institution. K a ndel , offeRS We have lab space aCupR eSSuR e , for adult students to M aSSage , HeR ba l learn about how to be M ediCine , a nd MoR e a teacher. We have a to Help S a nta highly qualified staff M a R i a nS feel good . of all experience levels. The by-product is high-quality childcare.” The state-funded center caters to low-income families, specifically parents who are students at Allan Hancock College. Roepke said the program, which is currently undergoing accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children, offers a strong social-emotional component to aid children and families in stressful situations. Of course, the center is open to all families, and will be accepting more students this fall. For more information, visit hancockcollege.edu/childrenscenter. —Amy

runner up: Feelin’ Good from page 53 carriage, and made her way to Sunny Nails salon. Cinderella had been to this place before and loved the comfortable, inviting pedicure chairs and the experienced technicians. “We are like a family here, and we treat each customer with importance,” said manicurist Charlyne Tram. The salon uses quality products and takes the time to get to know each customer, all while providing superior nail treatment. If an affordable, friendly salon with skilled technicians is what you’re looking for, then Sunny Nails is the place to be! —Kristina

runner up:

Talk of the Town

Best Place For senior living

Merrill Gardens 1220 Suey Road, Santa MaRia The Big Bad Wolf didn’t eat Grandma. Grandma moved to Merrill Gardens in Santa Maria—she’s just been renting the house in the woods to the wolf for the meantime. And with a wide selection of things to do while staying in Merrill Gardens, who could blame Grandma for leaving the woods? “We offer activities, transportation, and anytime dining,” community relations director Gary Gross said. The living center also offers trips for seniors every Saturday to places such as San Simeon, Hearst Castle, and Morro Bay—as well as to appointments with the doctor and pharmacy trips. In fact, Merrill Gardens is so enticing that Gross is looking forward to staying at Merrill Gardens when he hits the right age. —Henry

runner up:

Magnolia House

Best Day care

The Children’s Center at Allan Hancock College 800 S. College dRive, building J, Santa MaRia All parents want to make sure their little prince or princess is in good hands while they’re off slaying dragons at the office each day. That’s where the Children’s Center at Allan Hancock College comes in. When asked


Best PeDiatrician

Dr.George Robertson 1430 e. Main St., Suite 201, Santa MaRia It’s hard to argue with more than 40 years of pediatric care in the area. That’s what Dr. George Robertson can boast—though his office representative hinted that he’s not really one for boasting at all. The kid-centered doctor prefers his practice and patients to be in the spotlight, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give him a little attention in Best Of, since, you know, our readers voted him into first place. Dr. Robertson’s professional experience spans south to north, from an internship and several-year pediatric residency at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (where he was chief resident). He combines his talents with several other pediatricians to make up the Pediatric Medical Group of Santa Maria, Inc. —Ryan

runner up:

Dr. Joseph Nunez

Best alternative Healer

Dr.Herb Kandel 225 e. Mill St., Santa MaRia Humpty Dumpty had a great fall—and a great pain in his back. As he got to his feet he noticed a quaint Victorian House occupied by Dr. Herb Kandel, a practitioner of Chinese medicine. Humpty Dumpty entered the building, which was built in 1896 by one of Santa Maria’s founding families. Like many of Dr. Kandel’s patients, Humpty Dumpty found the house to be warm and comfortable and instantly conducive to healing. That must be why Sun readers voted Dr. Kandel Best Alternative Healer. Dr. Kandel is entering his 25th year of private practice in Santa Maria providing herbal medicine, acupressure, massage, nutritional guidance, and special programs. Dr. Kandel was thankful for the honor of being named the Best Alternative Healer. “I’m grateful to my patients—who are like family—and to this community where I’ve practiced for 25 years,” he said. Dr. Kandel said people are increasingly turning to Chinese medicine and alternative treatments as complementary treatment to Western medicine. In fact, Dr. Kandel said he spends time most days answering calls from physicians wanting his perspective and listening to the physicians share theirs. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again, but Dr. Kandel was able to get him back on his feet pain-free. —Shelly

runner up:

Ruth Corbo



A Sincere “Thank You” to all our patients on the Central Coast for voting us

Best Pediatricians

Dr. George Robertson, MD

Dr. Joseph Nunez, MD

Dr. Robertson Winner Best Pediatrician

Dr. Nunez Runner-Up Best Pediatrician

New Patients Welcome! New! Electronic access to your child’s health record

Pediatric Medical Group of Santa Maria The leaders in pediatric care on the Central Coast for over 45 years!

Dr. David Ikola, MD • Dr. Shane Rostermundt, DO Dr. Joseph Abram, MD Dr. George Robertson, MD • Dr, Joseph Nunez, MD

Open Mon-Fri and select Saturdays Most Major Insurances Accepted

Visit us online at www.mypmgonline.com 1430 E. Main St., Santa Maria (805) 922-3548






Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011 ❧


NTMA SEPT. 5, 2011 N e w T i m e s M U S I C AWA R D S

This year’s musician and

songwriter competition is on.

The competition is bigger, better, and will end with awards at SLO Brew. Win yourself a custom trophy, prizes, a spot on our winner’s showcase, and a chance to be on this year’s NTMA 2011 CD.


GENERAL RULES 1. All entries must be received by September 5, 2011 by

Fill out the following form to enter songs into this year’s competition. You must pick a category for each entry (multiple entry spaces included below for your convienence). 3 original songs max for each entry (except Album category). For more entry forms come by our offices (1010 Marsh St., SLO) or download online (www.newtimesslo.com).

5pm with a completed entry form (in print or online) and

Name of performer(s) _____________________________________________________ Address ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ Phone # _________________ Email _________________________________________

County or Northern Santa Barbara County.

ENTRY #1 ______________________________________________________________

property of performers.


4. New Times Music Awards is not responsible for lost,




BEST ALBUM (see rules)



a $10 payment for each song. Make checks payable to “New Times”. 2. All entrants must reside primarily in San Luis Obispo 3. By entering the contest, all entrants give permission to New Times Media Group to reproduce submissions on compact disc and on the web. All entries remain the

damaged, incomplete, or late entries. 5. Winners will be chosen by a select panel of judges and

Song Title #1 ______________________________________________________________________ Song Title #2 ______________________________________________________________________

must be able to play at the showcase event. Event date is

Song Title #3 ______________________________________________________________________ Album Title _______________________________________________________________________

6. Contact NTMA@newtimesslo.com or check the website

ENTRY #2 ______________________________________________________________ Circle one: COUNTRY/AMERICANA/FOLK R&B/BLUES



BEST ALBUM (see rules)



Song Title #1 ______________________________________________________________________ Song Title #2 ______________________________________________________________________ Song Title #3 ______________________________________________________________________ Album Title _______________________________________________________________________

ENTRY #3 ______________________________________________________________ Circle one: COUNTRY/AMERICANA/FOLK R&B/BLUES



BEST ALBUM (see rules)



Song Title #1 ______________________________________________________________________ Song Title #2 ______________________________________________________________________ Song Title #3 ______________________________________________________________________ Album Title _______________________________________________________________________ Total number of entries _____________ Payment enclosed ________________________________ I certify that I am the writer or co-writer of the song(s) or lyrics submitted. I also certify that I have read, understood and accept the rules and regulations of the New Times Music Awards. If entrant is under 18 years old, the signature of a parent or guardian is required. Signature _________________________________________________

Date _________________

Please mail or drop off submissions to: 1010 Marsh Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 or 2540 Skyway Dr., Santa Maria, CA 93455

October 13, 2011. for more information. 7. Fill out entry form, upload songs, and pay for your entries at www.newtimesslo.com

GENRE CATEGORIES 8. Entries must be submitted on CD or online with entry form. Songs may have multiple co-writers, but please designate one name only on entry form. 9. Maximum 3 original songs per entry. 10. Songs will be judged on overall performance.

ALBUM CATEGORY 11. Your album must have been released between September 5, 2010 to September 5, 2011 to be eligible. Please deliver a hard copy to New Times, 1010 Marsh St., SLO, CA 93401 by September 5, 2011 for consideration. The entire presentation will be judged, including quality of songs, sound, and packaging.

SONGWRITING CATEGORY 12. You can enter up to three songs for the songwriting contest, which is being judged separately. Upload (or include) a .doc file of lyrics with your entry.



❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

Best tutor

such a state will always be out of reach. And she’s committed: “When I’m at school with the kids, that’s my focus all day.” —Ryan

Rob Dal Porto

David Dubransky, Tunnell Elementary

runner up:

Pine Grove elementary

As a tutor, Rob Dal Porto helps students tackle the typical reading comprehension problems and multiplication tables that present challenges to young learners. But he sees teaching about learning as his bigger responsibility. “What I try to do is get them motivated to learn by relating it to their everyday lives,” he explained. A child will process and retain information better if he or she sees how it applies to the real world. He prefers promoting perspective versus a “kill and grill” method of rote memorization. “What I work on is fundamentals and skills to became lifelong learners,” Dal Porto said. The Allan Hancock College and Cal State Stanislaus grad taught for 10 years at Ralph Dunlap—starting in P.E., which he still teaches—and last year started at Pine Grove. Lucky kids. —Ryan

runner up:

Debbie Isabell

Best teacher

Darlene Adams Benjamin Foxen elementary

Darlene Adams is tenacious. After 15 years in accounting, she launched a second career as a teacher, starting in Bakersfield, where she taught second grade for a year before moving to Santa Maria. She searched for work for a year, then taught first grade—again for a year, before getting laid off along with a slew of teachers unable to survive massive budget cuts. Then she found Benjamin Foxen, where she now teaches language arts, science, social studies, math (her favorite), and P.E. to seventh- through eighthgraders. She’s always looking for ways to improve what she does. “For the rest of my life, I’ll be working to perfect that, the job of teaching,” she said, admitting that

Best Kids’ a fterschool P rogram

Boys and Girls Club 901 n. r ailroad ave., Santa m aria It’s a question bound to eventually strike any working parent. What to do with your son or daughter after school gets out? There are many options available, but what brings 250 youngsters to the Santa Maria Boys and Girls Club every day after the bell rings, according to organizers, is its cost. “It’s a great program and people can afford it,” said Roberto Rodriguez, the club’s director of operations. “Kids come out and they have a bunch of different options to pick from.” At just $20 per year, children and teens have enough to keep them active and out of trouble without breaking their parent’s bank account. Youth ages 6 to 18, from any school in Santa Maria and Orcutt, are welcome to attend the club’s daily after-school program, which runs from noon to 6 p.m. It includes a main activity area, and a separate room just for teens. Kids love the occasional field trips and the club’s theme weeks, such as Carnival Week, Superhero Week, and Wet and Wild Week. The Boys and Girls Club is currently gearing up for one of its biggest special events, “Back to Youth Night” on Sept. 1. It’s a program specifically for kids from disadvantaged or single-parent households, where they’re paired up with a mentor for the night, playing games, eating food, and winning prizes. For more information on signing up for the Boys and Girls Club’s afterschool program, visit bgcsmv.org or call 922-7763. —Jeremy

runner up: CommuNity oN my miNd

Andy Caldwell would like to thank

all the readers who have voted him the best!

The only local talk show to cover the entire Central Coast! Central Coast Government watchdog, taxpayer, business and traditional values advocate. Andy is Live Monday Thru Friday 3:00pm to 5:00pm Call in 1-888-625-1440 Visit www.theandycaldwellshow.com for more information Streaming Live on www.am1440.com and www.newspress.com 5 years straight for

Best Take It To The Man Local Activist Best Community Watchdog

in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2005 KUHL the information station


continued on page


Best of northern santa BarBara County 2011 ❧ Community on my mind from page 58

Best LocaL Youth sports team

Boys and Girls Club Basketball 901 N. R ailRoad ave., SaNta M aRia Times are tough all over, but you don’t need a lot of dough to get your kids involved in the Boys and Girls Club’s basketball program. For just $55 a season, youth ages 6 to 18 can play up to 10 games per season, plus practices. According to league organizers, the program is as much about building strong youth and forging bonds as it is about the competition on the court. “A lot of it is just being able to meet other kids and learning to participate with others they normally wouldn’t see or wouldn’t normally play with because they attend different schools,” said Ernie Cuevas, sports director for the Boys and Girls Club. “[The] kids build friendships, even if it’s just for a little bit of time.” About 450 kids take part in the Santa Maria program, learning about the sport of basketball and the values of good sportsmanship. There to guide them through the process are the Boys and Girls Club’s all-volunteer coaches. Registration for the winter basketball league, for students up to sixth grade, starts in September, and the season runs October through February. The club also holds leagues for junior high and high school students beginning in the spring. “We look forward to new kids signing up every year, even if it’s the first time,” Cuevas said. “It’s never too late to give it a try to make new friends or play with a friend to learn a skill they like and see if they enjoy it.” For more information or to register for Boys and Girls’ Club basketball, visit bgcsmv.org or call 922-7763. —Jeremy

runner up:


Best entrepreneur

Chad Jordan 101MaRketiNg.biz Chad Jordan opened California Fresh in 2004, and the restaurant quickly became a local favorite, winning several categories in the Sun’s Best Of competition over the years. This year is no different award-wise, but the restaurant isn’t the only thing Jordan does. “Not only am I crazy enough to risk it all on one business, but three or four or five as well,” he said. Jordan is co-founder and owner of 101 Marketing, a Santa Maria-based marketing agency. He also owns Santa Maria Deals, a business that gives out coupons and deals over social media sites like facebook.com. “It’s great to be recognized,” he said. “Being an entrepreneur is a scary thing—no safety net, no retirement plan … it’s all on the line. But we [wouldn’t] win Best Of awards if we didn’t have great customers who supported us.” —Joe

runner up:

Milt Guggia

Best BuiLder

Halsell Builders 3130 Skyway dRive, Suite 601, SaNta M aRia If you’re thinking about building your dream house (gingerbread or not), remodeling your kitchen, or any other project, you need to call Halsell Builders. No project is too big or too small. They’re always up to date on the industry’s latest innovations and even have their own design showroom

Dance Motions

Community on my mind

continued on page

Best Counselor / Therapist

Congratulations Shannon Larrabee, LMFT

of Family Relational Therapy & the Play Therapy Cottage Voted The Best Therapist in Santa Maria Valley.

Tonya Palacios, LMFT, Rosi Mendoza Hill, LMFT, Bill Zimmerman, LMFT, Deana Huddleston, LMFT Erin Bunnell, LMFT, Shannon Larrabee, LMFT, Beverly Taylor, LMFT, Susan Benaron, LMFT Dr. Kimberly Valenzuela, and Dr. Deborah Moffett.

Celebrating our 9th year serving children, teens, adults, couples and families in the Santa Maria Valley.

518 E. Main St., Santa Maria

346-1999 www.familyrelational.com


Best Kid’s After-School Program

Best Community Non-Profit Organization


Best Local Youth Sports Team



❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

CommuNity oN my miNd from page 59

He has to keep ahead of crime. Sun readers say our police chief is just the man for Santa Maria, keeping us safer than Sherwood Forest. —Henry

for a more seamless relationship with their clients. There’s a reason the good businesses are able to succeed in a rough economy. Halsell Builders states on its website: “It’s all about taking the latest building ideas, listening carefully, and matching them up with our expertise and experience. The result is your home—the home you always wanted to build.” —Jacob

runner up:

Inland Pacific Builders

Best Place



Caldwell Banker Premier Real Estate 2540 Professional Parkway, santa M aria

Shay Murphy, Coldwell Banker Premier Real Estate vice president and sales manager, easily summed up why the company took this award: “We have a fun work environment and everyone is working to support each other on a daily basis.” But don’t take his word for it. Gloria Sprinkle and Stacy Camapho both confirmed that sentiment, saying the business, which started in 1979, is a great place to work and generates a sense of family and teamwork. They pointed out that management is very encouraging and provides training. The leaders give pep talks and are “right there to help in any way.” —Roberta

runner up:

Kim Graham runner up (tie): Sal Curiel

runner up (tie):

Best local neWs source

KCOY 1211 w. Mccoy lane, santa M aria Once upon a time, in a land called the Centralle Coaste, there were many events of which the citizens needed to be aware. Fortunately, they had a magical town crier who could appear in all of their homes—at the same time!—and keep them abreast of the day’s news. General Manager Kevin Harlan said KCOY has an “abundance of news” on its station. Between KCOY and its sister station, FOX 11, they do around “six and a half hours of news a day.” Not enough for you? They also put out breaking news through their website and via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter. Hear ye, hear ye! —Brent

runner up:


PHoto by Steve e. Miller

Allan Hancock College

Shaping the future Da r len e a Da Ms was voteD B est t eacher for her coM Mit Ment a nD Passion . s he teaches sixth , sev enth , a nD eighth gr a Des at B enja Min fox en s chool .

Best M an/WoMan Behind



Danny Macagni santa M aria Police DePartMent chief Police Chief Danny Macagni is no Sheriff of Nottingham, but that’s a good thing. Although he’s the head honcho of the Santa Maria Police Department, he started his career just like so many other Santa Marians did: at Allan Hancock College. He then went on to get his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Chapman University. Macagni sure does like his guns—and who wouldn’t with the city’s arsenal at their disposal?—but you shouldn’t blame the guy.

Best coMMunity Watchdog

Andy Caldwell aM 1440 anD colaB

Andy Caldwell dishes out a lot of information in his quest to hold government accountable to business owners, taxpayers, and their constituents in general. He directs Santa Barbara County’s Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business, and he’s host to a talk show on AM 1440 every Monday through Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. Andy keeps his eye on money, politicians, elections, regula-

CommuNity oN my miNd

continued on page



Where Pat ient Care Count s!


Our practice is dedicated to providing good healthcare for you and your whole family. Voted “Best Dr.” for 8 years in a row. TOP ROW:

Dr. Patrick Voegele, Dr. Don Hole, Dr. Bill Okerblom Rebecca Cook, NP, Dr. Bob Okerblom, Kay Moreland, NP


Congratulations Dr. Robert Okerblom WINNER “Best Dr.”

Congratulations Dr. Patrick Voegele RUNNER UP “Best Dr.”

(805) 934-5140

1145 E. Clark Suite F Santa Maria

Santa Maria Valley Humane Society Visit www.smvhs.org for info & to view pictures of pets available for adoption.

(805) 349-3435 www.smvhs.org

Best Place to Get a Pet

All of these animals are spayed or neutered, current on vaccinations & microchipped Low cost spay & neuter services open to public


❧ Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011

CommuNity oN my miNd from page 60 tions, rights, other leaders, and how they all mix. Whether he’s pointing out hypocrisy in the environmental movement or scrutinizing misuse of citizens’ dollars, he’s always working. And he hopes people tune in and follow up on the information he regularly provides to the community—and that they join COLAB at colabsbc.org. —Ryan

runner up:

The Sun

Best Community nonprofit organization

YMCA 3400 Skyway Drive, Santa M aria “Thanks to the community, we’re able to offer financial assistance to members who need it,” said Cindy Most, membership service director for the Santa Maria Valley YMCA. No person is denied access. That’s like having your own fairy godmother! “The Y” has been part of the Santa Maria community since 1960, offering healthful fun and fellowship to any and all takers through its facilities, teams, and programs. Volunteers make the whole thing run smoothly (as you’ll notice from the nonprofit’s other awards), and the good it does in the community is practically immeasurable. —Roberta

Boys and Girls Club

runner up:

Best plaCe



YMCA 3400 Skyway Drive, Santa M aria The positive environment of “The Y” makes it a great place to vol-

Best Thrift Store NOW IN 3 LOCATIONS

Thank You For Your Continued Support!

unteer. How rewarding to help the community and to be part of the family fun. Thank you, to all the volunteers! You’re like the heroes in the fairytales, appearing when needed and helping out. “During the annual support aide event in January and February, there were 135 volunteers,” said Shannon Seifert, chief executive officer. “There are around 350 volunteers at various times for different programs.” To join those ranks, stop by the front desk, go to smvymca.org, or call 937-8521. —Roberta

runner up:

Marian Medical Center

Best take-it-to-the-m an loCal aCtiVist

Andy Caldwell aM 1440 anD COLaB You listen. You know you do. Because when Andy Caldwell talks, people listen. They have to. As director of Santa Barbara County’s Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business and host of an afternoon radio talk show (3 to 5 p.m. on weekdays on AM 1440), Caldwell steps up and speaks out on governmental issues, society and culture, and more. His activism is intended to spur consideration when it comes to weighing economic moves against environmental ones. He motivates locals to stand up for business, to act as an antithesis to special-interest groups. In this crazy world, organizing is activism, and Andy certainly does more than just get people together. Love him or hate him, you have to admit: He shows no fear when it comes to facing off against elected officials in his efforts to elevate taxpayers, business owners, and the interests of Americans far and wide. —Ryan

runner up:

Judith Dal Porto


Thank You Santa Maria… For Voting Trattoria Uliveto

the Best!


Bring in this ad for 20% off one item VTC Store loca�ons:

FREE Donation Pick Ups E-Waste Recycle Drop Off Sites (805) 928-3436 www.vtc-sm.org

VTC Thrift Store 529 South Bloss er, Santa Maria, C A OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK

(805) 928-3436

124 North I Str eet, Lompoc, CA OPEN MON - SAT

(805) 736-7584

608 W. Ocean Avenue, Lompoc , CA OPEN MON - SAT

(805) 737-3280

Assisting youth & adults with disabilities or other limitations in choosing & achieving their life goals.



with purchase of 1 dinner of equal or greater value & 2 drinks (Sunday's only). Exp 9/25/11 285 S. BROADWAY, OLD ORCUTT

Fine Italian Cuisine

805-934-4546 285 S. BROADWAY, OLD ORCUTT

Best of NortherN saNta BarBara CouNty 2011 ❧



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The Best of Norther Santa Barbara County

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