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SEPTEMBER 2020 | OCREGISTER.COM/BEST

PEOPLE’S PEOPLE’ PE OPLE’SS CHOICE OPLE’ PLACES TO GO + DO SHOPPING & SERVICES LUXURY LIFESTYLE FOOD & DRINK HOME & GARDEN


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» WELCOME TO THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY

This year has been unlike any other EDITOR

JEFFREY MILLER COVER ILLUSTRATION

AMY NING CREATIVE DIRECTOR

LAILA DERAKHSHANIAN DESIGNER

KAY SCANLON PHOTO EDITOR

MICHELE CARDON

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER PUBLISHER

RON HASSE EXECUTIVE EDITOR

FRANK PINE

SENIOR EDITOR

TODD HARMONSON

INFORMATION CORRECT AS OF PRESS TIME

ocregister.com/best

L

ast year at this time, few among us attended family get-togethers via Zoom or wore face masks to do our grocery shopping. But the events of 2020 have required us all to adapt to a new environment. The Best of Orange County has had to adapt as well. In its 27th year, the annual reader survey of our community’s top destinations, attractions and businesses faced some unprecedented challenges. For starters, the places we’d go, such as movie theaters and music venues, closed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic in March and have remained so for months. The popular fairs and festivals we’d previously attended didn’t take place in 2020. Restaurants had to pivot to delivery, takeout and patio dining. Some longtime businesses threw in the towel. However, like our hardworking local businesses and workers, Orange County Register readers didn’t miss a beat. They cast tens of thousands of votes, a 22% increase over 2019. The businesses and attractions they voted for in scores of categories are in the magazine you’re holding right now. Besides popular perennial categories such as the best beach, burger and city to live in, this year’s guide features readers’ choices in several new categories. The Places to Go + Do chapter has voters’ recommendations for the best family outing and the best Orange County college or university. The Luxury Lifestyle chapter honors the county’s top charitable organizations and the most breathtaking waterfront dining spots. The Food & Drink chapter calls out the best date night restaurants and food halls.

We hope you enjoy the 27th annual Best of Orange County publication and use it as a resource as you explore the county in the months ahead. Many of the locations profiled here are available for you to visit or patronize right now, while others will have to wait until conditions change to reopen their doors. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that circumstances can be highly unpredictable. However, one thing you can count on is that Orange County will remain a beautiful place to live and experience, with perfect weather, a stunning coastline and amenities that rival anywhere else on the planet. The Best of Orange County celebrates the attributes that make our community a world-class destination. Even when terms such as “social distancing” have fallen from use, these places, events, restaurants and other businesses will continue to attract people seeking to experience the Orange County lifestyle.

facebook.com/bestoforangecounty

RON HASSE

PUBLISHER, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

@ocrbestofoc

HAVE A COMMENT OR A QUESTION? DROP US A NOTE AT BOC@OCREGISTER.COM THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 3


Âť INSIDE

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 4

PLACES TO GO+DO

FOOD & DRINK

Best Amusement Park Ride............................................................ 8 Best Beach........................................................................................ 10 Best Downtown ................................................................................ 11 Best Fair/Festival............................................................................. 12 Best Family Outing.......................................................................... 13 Best Farmers Market...................................................................... 14 Best Golf Course.............................................................................. 15 Best Live Theater ............................................................................. 16 Best Movie Theater.......................................................................... 17 Best Museum ................................................................................... 18 Best Music Venue............................................................................ 19 Best O.C. College / University ...................................................... 20 Best Run / Race................................................................................ 21 Best SoCal Casino ...........................................................................22

CHAPTER 2

SHOPPING & SERVICES Best Auto Repair...............................................................................24 Best Bank...........................................................................................25 Best Car Dealership..........................................................................26 Best Credit Union..............................................................................28 Best Dental Practice........................................................................30 Best Fitness Center / Boot Camp.................................................32 Best Grocery Store ...........................................................................33 Best Hospital .....................................................................................34 Best Medical Group..........................................................................36 Best Pet Clinic/Veterinary Hospital.............................................. 37 Best Place to Buy CBD Products..................................................38 Best Place to Get a Grab-and-go Meal.......................................40 Best Shopping/Dining Destination................................................41 Best Thrift Store...............................................................................42 Best Tutoring Service ......................................................................44 Best Wine Selection ........................................................................45

CHAPTER 3

LUXURY LIFESTYLE Best Charitable Organization........................................................ 48 Best Cosmetic Surgeon ................................................................. 50 Best Day Spa .....................................................................................52 Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store.......................................................... 54 Best OC Resort..................................................................................56 Best Waterfront Dining...................................................................57 Best Wealth Advisers ..................................................................... 58 4 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

Best Bakery........................................................................................62 Best Bar ..............................................................................................63 Best Barbecue...................................................................................64 Best Breakfast ..................................................................................65 Best Brunch.......................................................................................66 Best Burger........................................................................................ 67 Best Craft Brewery...........................................................................68 Best Date Night Restaurant...........................................................69 Best Doughnut Shop........................................................................ 70 Best Family Friendly Restaurant....................................................71 Best Food Hall ....................................................................................72 Best Happy Hour................................................................................73 Best Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt .......................................................74 Best Italian Restaurant ................................................................... 76 Best Mexican Restaurant............................................................... 78 Best Pizza...........................................................................................80 Best Seafood Restaurant ...............................................................82 Best Steakhouse...............................................................................83 Best Sushi..........................................................................................84

CHAPTER 5

HOME & GARDEN Best Apartment Community..........................................................86 Best Appliance Store .......................................................................88 Best Blind/Shutter Store................................................................90 Best City to Live In ...........................................................................92 Best Door/Window Company........................................................94 Best Furniture Store.........................................................................95 Best Garden Center/Nursery..........................................................96 Best Home Builder ...........................................................................98 Best Home Improvement Store...................................................100 Best Kitchen/Bath Remodeling Specialist...............................102 Best Mattress Store.......................................................................104 Best New Home Community .......................................................106 Best Place to Buy Carpet/Flooring.............................................108 Best Real Estate Company............................................................110 Best Senior Living Community.....................................................112


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PLACES TO GO + DO » Amusement Park Ride » Beach » Downtown » Fair/Festival » Family Outing » Farmers Market » Golf Course » Live Theater » Movie Theater » Museum » Music Venue » OC College/

University » Run/Race » Southern California Casino

JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER


» BEST

AMUSEMENT PARK RIDE

1. Space Mountain Disneyland

While it’s no surprise that Disney dominates the best amusement park ride category, the top three attractions feature new additions to the lineup. Space Mountain holds the top spot once again this year. The 1977 indoor roller coaster takes riders on a high-speed journey through the dark with many twists, turns and dips. After more than four decades of thrills, the popular coaster consistently has one of the longest lines in Disneyland. This year will go down in Disneyland history as one of the most unusual with the Anaheim park closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The attraction spent part of 2019 in Hyperspace Mountain mode, with a Star Wars overlay that was first introduced during the 2015 Season of the Force event. Scenes of X-Wings, Starfighters and even the Millennium Falcon flash on the interior walls of Space Mountain as riders race

COURTESY OF DISNEYLAND RESORT

The 1977 indoor roller coaster takes riders on a high-speed journey through the dark with many twists, turns and dips. through the dark aboard the indoor coaster. In past years during Halloween, a Ghost Galaxy overlay has filled the ride with paranormal activity with the help of projections, lighting and sound effects.

2. Soarin’ Around the World

Disney California Adventure The Soarin’ hang-gliding flight simulator ride in the Grizzly Peak section of Disney California Adventure combines a mechanical lift system with three rows of seats and an 80-foot-tall concave domed movie screen. The five-minute IMAX “Soarin’ Around the World” film visits 13 places around the globe, flying so close you wonder how the filmmakers got permission to capture the footage. The short film makes many subtle nods to Disney films and history, including “Cars” (Monument Valley), “Ratatouille” (Paris), “Finding Nemo” (Sydney Harbour), “Moana” (the South Pacific),

Disneyland’s castle (based on Neuschwanstein) and the park’s Matterhorn Bobsleds coaster (Switzerland). The film employs several clever transitions from scene to scene, including a scary seaplane barreling toward you, a playful kite that swoops across the screen and an eagle with wings spread. The original Soarin’ Over California debuted at Disney California Adventure when the park opened in 2001 with scenes from throughout the state. The original version of the attraction remains popular and returned to Disney California Adventure for a limited run in 2019.

8 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

Riders walk through a futuristic space station before boarding the coaster train in a mission control center. NASA Mercury and Gemini astronaut Gordon Cooper helped design Space Mountain so the ride

would feel like an actual space flight. Through the years, the coaster has introduced onboard audio, added new ride vehicles and undergone a complete retracking. — Brady MacDonald

3. Pirates of the Caribbean

Disneyland It’s no surprise that this ride is one of the top attractions in OC, because it remains a charming boat trip into a pirate’s lair that seems to be timeless after more than 50 years in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square. Its popularity is only enhanced by the fact that visitors get 15 minutes of cool, watery pleasure off their feet that often provides a respite from brutal heat in the park. And the hit movies starring Johnny Depp based on the ride only add to the appeal.

Last year Disney replaced the previous “buy-a-bride” scene that some found offensive with a newer scene starring a feisty red-haired female pirate named (what else?) Redd. This is the last attraction that Walt Disney himself had a hand in creating, although he died in late 1966 before it opened, so to the most ardent Disney fans, it’s sacred ground. To overheated and tired parents everywhere, it’s a chance to cool off and rest their tootsies.


THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 9


» BEST

BEACH

A surfer pauses to check out the waves just south of the Huntington Beach Pier at dawn.

1. Huntington City Beach

2. Main Beach

Pacific Coast Highway between Beach Boulevard and Seapoint Street, Huntington Beach

Coast Highway between Broadway Street and Ocean Avenue, Laguna Beach

When looking for some breathing room on the edge of this continent, you would be hard-pressed to find a more iconic spot than the stretch of surf and sand at Huntington City Beach. From the beginning to the end of the 3.5mile stretch, wide-sand beaches give way to renowned surf spots, such as north and south of Huntington Beach Pier and Dog Beach (also known as the Cliffs). It is the waves’ consistent quality here throughout the year, and not their height, that helped earn Huntington Beach the trademarked Surf City USA name. At the center of it all is the Huntington Beach Pier, which extends out from Main Street. A stroll to the end of its 1,850 feet allows a look back at the long, flat stretch of beach. On good days, you can pick out the Newport Pier down the coast and the tall buildings of downtown Long Beach and “the Hill” on the Palos Verdes Peninsula the other way. Look out to sea and Santa Catalina Island stretches before you. Back at the base of the pier, the beach bike path lets you explore more if you can navigate the strollers, runners, bikes, skaters, skateboarders and multi-seat pedal carts. During the peak summer months, this can be daunting, with people crossing from the parking areas and Pier Plaza onto the beach across the busy thoroughfare. The areas not as close to the pier, and the off-season, offer respite from the crowds. — Kathie Bozanich

Nature helped create this popular spot right in the heart of town, as two gentle coastal slopes converge to create Main Beach’s small but memorable stretch of sand. With its white lifeguard tower, wooden boardwalk, grassy park area and the basketball and volleyball courts that are seemingly always in use, it is known throughout the world and is considered a must-see for visitors. It’s a quick walk from the sand to the shops of downtown if you want to pick up beach or picnic supplies. Called Laguna’s “Window to the Sea,” Main Beach offers shore break-type waves that favor swimmers and bodyboarders over surfers. Luckily for the latter, there are plenty of nearby prime surf spots. The key drawback to Main Beach’s renown is that you have to share it with many others. Without its own parking lot and the prospect of finding a spot in downtown daunting during busy times, your best bet is to park farther out in other parts of the city and take a free shuttle to the beach.

10 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

MARK RIGHTMIRE, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

3. Corona del Mar State Beach Ocean Boulevard and Jasmine Avenue, Newport Beach

It’s tough to find a beach with better views than Corona del Mar State Beach. Look one way and you can watch boats come in and out of the harbor while another view offers the sea. Peer down to the bluffs and around inland, which affords a look at hillsides full of impressive real estate holdings. The beach, also known as Big Corona Beach and Corona del Mar Main Beach, stretches a half-mile from the East Jetty at the entrance to Newport Harbor to a small bluff top upon which sits Inspiration Point Park. The triangular-shaped, sandy beach offers gentle waves, due in large part to the protection of the harbor jetties. This makes it particularly popular among swimmers and families. Also, fans of the beach often cite its cleanliness as a key attraction. There is a huge paid parking lot that does fill up quickly in the summer months; free parking on surrounding hillside streets is extremely limited.


» BEST

DOWNTOWN

1. Orange

Mile-square area with Plaza Park at Glassell Street and Chapman Avenue at its center; cityoforange.org While much of Orange County has paved over its past in a mad dash to modernity, the City of Orange took the opposite tack, making historic preservation a guiding value and keeping its downtown like a time capsule. The results have proved the wisdom of the idea as Orange consistently ranks high among Orange County residents with its active and bustling entertainment and business district. It is much more than a oncearound-the fountain and out destination. Designated a “Great Place in America” by the American Planning Association, the city consistently draws high marks for maintaining a small-town, Main Street, USA feel. Smack dab in the middle is the Plaza Square, with its historic fountain and traffic rotary. Extending from the plaza is the 1-square-mile Old Towne historic district. Curiously, the iconic

LEONARD ORTIZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Bozy and Rick Hodge celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in the new outdoor dining area outside Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen in Orange. fountain is not original to the plaza. It was built by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in 1887 for $585 and spent the first 50 years of its life next to the library 3 blocks away. More than 1,300 homes

2. Huntington Beach

Main Street off Pacific Coast Highway and nearby areas; 714-536-8300; hbdowntown.com With its scenic vistas, seashore breezes and iconic beach and pier, Downtown HB draws throngs of visitors throughout the year. The area surrounding Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street hums with activity from the vibrant entertainment district with its bars and restaurants, trendy shops and boutiques and highend hotels, all under that watchful eye of the Duke Kahanamoku statue. Sarah Kruer, executive director of the Huntington Beach

Downtown Business Improvement District, said the area strives to offer, “the quintessential Surf City experience. It has one of the most iconic open landscapes, with downtown being right there.” Also driving business and visitors is a menu of year-round events, from weekly events such as Tuesday Surf City Nights street fair and farmers market. Annual events such as the Fourth of July Parade and fireworks and U.S. Open of Surfing also pack them in.

and businesses are located in the Old Towne area, the largest National Register District in California, since its addition in 1997. The business area is a hive for antiquing, shopping and dining with 24

antique shops, 29 specialty shops and more than 50 restaurants and cafes. Nearby Chapman University and its students help give the Old Towne a youthful vibe. — Greg Mellen

3. Fullerton

Area bounded by Chapman Avenue, Highland Avenue, the train tracks and Santa Fe Train Depot and Lemon Street; 714-738-6300; cityoffullerton.com The Chapman Building, Although Orange may be VIlla del Sol, Fox Theatre and the poster child for promotFullerton Museum Center in ing old-timey atmosphere, a Works Progress AdminisFullerton has also sought to tration-funded building from keep in touch with its roots. the Great Depression are Founded in 1887, the city great examples of adaptive has an impressive stock and reuse. The city also is home maintained some of the best examples of intervening peri- to “Pastoral California,” a WPA fresco painted in 1934, ods while still modernizing. later covered, and finally Historic areas include restored in 1997. the Santa Fe District, home of the Fullerton Railway Downtown Fullerton feaPlaza and train museum. tures more than 70 historic Keeping with the train buildings. Don’t fill up on theme, the Old Spaghetti history alone, as there are Factory is in the old Orange trendy shops and restaurants County Depot for the Union over 350,000 square feet of Pacific Railroad. retail space. THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 11


» BEST

FAIR/FESTIVAL 2. Sawdust Art Festival

935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach; 949-494-3030; sawdustartfestival.org The Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach celebrates artistic creativity in all its forms. More than 200 painters, jewelry makers, sculptors, woodworkers, glassblowers and others gather over nine weeks in the summer to display and sell their wares. Local artists offer pottery, drawing and other classes for kids and adults, and food and entertainment options are plentiful. Born during the vibrant arts movement in the 1960s, the festival takes place in a picturesque eucalyptus grove. Paths linking its handbuilt village are covered in sawdust to keep the dust down, the inspiration for its name. For five weekends in November and December, the festival grounds are transformed into a wonderland of lights and decorations during the Winter Fantasy event. After a smaller summer Weekend Outdoor Marketplace in 2020, organizers are hopeful to bring the full summer slate back in 2021.

LEONARD ORTIZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

A couple stroll past the La Grande Wheel as the sun begins to set on the midway at the OC Fair.

1. OC Fair

88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa; 714-708-1500; ocfair.com As familiar as a trip to the beach, a visit to the OC Fair is an enduring summer tradition, and it comes as no surprise that it again tops this list. Unfortunately, concerns over COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 fair. Disappointed fairgoers had to go without all the deep-fried food and scream-inducing carnival rides, but organizers stepped in to bring a taste of the fair experience to fans with virtual contests and other offerings. At-home gardeners, photographers, bakers, crafters and others submitted photos of their work to compete for ribbons in 33 contest categories. A Virtual Market Livestock Show gave agriculture students the opportunity to showcase their animals and match them with 12 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

potential buyers. Even the fair’s 5K Fun Run went virtual. As for the entertainment lineup, many of the shows and events that were originally to have taken place at the 2020 fair have been rescheduled for next year’s event, set for July 16 through Aug. 15, 2021. These include performances by Trevor Noah, Ramon Ayala and the Happy Together Tour at Pacific Amphitheatre; OC Brew Hee Haw and Queen Nation at the Hangar; and the Monster X Tour at Action Sports Arena. The OC Fair first launched in 1890; the last time it was canceled was for a few years in the 1940s because of World War II. The 2019 event attracted about 1.39 million visitors over its 23-day run. — Kathie Bozanich

3. Garden Grove Strawberry Festival Village Green Park, at Euclid and Main streets, Garden Grove; strawberryfestival.org

The Garden Grove Strawberry Festival was conceived in 1958 as a way to bring together the east and west sides of the city while paying tribute to the area’s then-plentiful strawberry fields. It has grown into a Memorial Day weekend staple, with carnival rides, a parade, entertainment, food and strawberry-themed activities. An opening-day tradition is “the world’s biggest strawberry shortcake,” with hundreds getting a free slice of the multitiered dessert. The festival has donated more than $4.5 million to hundreds of nonprofits. Though the 2020 festival was canceled, donations and scholarships were still awarded. Perhaps the most poignant moment in the festival’s history was in June 1968 when Sen. Robert F. Kennedy rode in the parade and gave a speech about his presidential candidacy. He was fatally shot the next night in L.A..


» BEST

FAMILY OUTING

Simply in terms of total ridership, It’s a Small World is the most popular ride at Disneyland.

1. Disneyland

1313 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim; 714-781-4636; disneyland.disney.go.com This might be the very definition of something that “needs no introduction.” Disneyland, which is so much a part of Orange County’s DNA, takes top honors in this new Best of OC category. Visiting Disneyland requires putting the rest of the world away for a day and just going with what’s before you. But there is something special about visiting the theme park with your own children — wrapped in your own nostalgia and experiencing it anew through their eyes — that makes it a next-level experience. Walt Disney said about his decision to build Disneyland, “It all started from a daddy with two daughters wondering where he could take them where he could have a little fun with them, too.” When Disneyland opened 65 years ago, Main Street, USA, gave way to about 20 attractions in the themed areas of Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Over time, the park has added New Orleans Square, Critter Country (originally Bear Country), Mickey’s Toontown and most recently, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Planning is key for any family Disneyland trip. Parents should familiarize themselves with online maps, calendars and updated park information. Many times, you can avoid disappointment if you know in advance rides such as the Matterhorn Bobsleds or Pirates of the Caribbean are closed for the day. It also helps to avoid needlessly crisscrossing the park, especially if you want everyone to have enough energy to make it through the nighttime parade and fireworks show. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 13 and remained closed at press time. — Kathie Bozanich

JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

2. Balboa Fun Zone

3. Irvine Regional Park

With its iconic Ferris wheel offering incredible views of Newport Harbor, the Balboa Fun Zone ranks among one of the few coastal amusement zones in California – and the only one in Orange County. In 1936, during a boom time of such seaside attractions, the Balboa Fun Zone opened with a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, bumper cars and other rides, along with an arcade area. Over the decades, it changed hands often and has been refurbished a few times, and now is operated by Balboa Fun Zone Inc., a subsidiary of the Discovery Science Foundation. Long gone are the merry-go-round and bumper cars, but the Ferris wheel remains, along with the arcade, which features old-school SkeeBall and air hockey amid classic and newer video games. Newer additions on the boardwalk are a Happy Swing family ride, Coconut Tree Climb and Ocean Motion bungee launcher. Discovery Cube’s Ocean Quest, opened in the past few years at the site, is an educational, handson space focused on teaching kids about sea life and sustainability.

Irvine Regional Park offers a lot of bang for the buck for families. The beautiful, treefilled setting includes the Irvine Park Railroad, the OC Zoo, a lake with paddle boat rentals, pony rides and horse rentals, as well as four playgrounds and plentiful picnic areas for birthday parties and other gatherings. A paved walking and bike trail winds through the center of the park linking many of the attractions. The Irvine Park Railroad train takes you on a 10-minute loop inside the park, past the lake and other points of interest. The railroad also plays host to an egg hunt and other activities in the spring, a pumpkin patch and fall-related activities in September and October, and a Christmas train each December. At the OC Zoo, there are black bears, mountain lions, hawks, owls and more, along with a petting zoo full of barnyard animals. Wildlife spotting isn’t limited to the zoo: Families are often surprised and delighted to see that peacocks freely roam the regional park.

600 E. Bay Ave., Newport Beach; 949-675-8915; ocfunzone.com

1 Irvine Park Road, Orange; 714-973-6835; ocparks.com/ parks/irvine

THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 13


» BEST

FARMERS MARKET

MINDY SCHAUER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Roman Ramos works the Arnett Farms booth at Mariners Church Farmers’ Market in Irvine on July 11.

1. Irvine Farmers Market

Mariners Church, 5001 Newport Coast Drive, Irvine; 949-769-8262; ocfarmbureau.org It’s not easy to stand out among more than two dozen farmers markets in Orange County. But the Irvine Farmers Market, held Saturdays rain or shine from 8 a.m. to noon at Mariners Church, is consistently at the top of the list. Being the biggest in

Orange County doesn’t hurt. The market features more than 100 vendors spread across parking areas along Bonita Canyon Road and Turtle Ridge Drive. Split about half-and-half with growers and artisans, the Irvine market is notable for its large number of

2. Orange Home Grown Farmers & Artisans Market

303 W. Palm Ave., Orange; orangehomegrown.org Since its opening in 2011, the certified Orange Home Grown Farmers & Artisans Market in Old Towne has become part community gathering, part shopping experience. Created through the efforts of a small group of Orange residents, the market operated as an essential business while maintaining community aspects, said Megan Penn, Home Grown’s executive director. The market is open Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. During the COVID-19 pan-

demic, the market allowed limited numbers of shoppers to proceed past the stalls. Penn says the market is eager to return to its former routine when feasible. That included free coffee for visitors, yoga and meditation sessions, local artisans selling crafts, cooking demonstrations, kids club, free dogsitting and live music. In the meantime, shoppers are still treated to fresh seafood, herbs and a wide mix of seasonal produce delivered by certified area farmers.

14 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

farmers, according to Casey Anderson with the Orange County Farm Bureau. “When I go in I’m excited to see the variety,” he said, pointing out about 20 kinds of stone fruit. These included hybrids such as cherry plums not found in many supermarkets. “They have really extraordinary flavors,” Anderson said. There are also artisan baked goods, humus spreads

and vegan meals. The Orange County Farm Bureau, which operates eight certified markets with a ninth planned in Brea, ensures vendors are certified by the county and state and sell homegrown produce. As the pandemic ebbs, Anderson said, “It’s more important than ever to support local farmers and regional agriculture.” — Greg Mellen

3. Fullerton Certified Farmers’ Market

Independence Park, 801 W. Valencia Drive; 714-871-5304; cityoffullerton.com Through the years, this midweek market, possibly the oldest farmers market in the area, has consistently upped the ante. The Fullerton Certified Farmers’ Market, open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays, has grown and prospered. The market outgrew its first home at the old Ford School property, now Ford Park, moved to Woodcrest Park and again had to uproot to Independence Park in

2007 to accommodate demand from shoppers and an expanding list of vendors. In addition to the requisite produce, flowers, nuts and bread, the market is known for a selection of Asian produce such as bok choy, squash, bitter melon, Thai eggplant and basil. It also features quail and duck eggs. Vendor farmers travel from as far as Brawley and Fresno.


» BEST

GOLF COURSE

Golfers take to the the links at Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach.

1. Pelican Hill Golf Club

22800 S. Pelican Hill Road, Newport Beach; 844-878-0942; golfpelicanhill.com For resortgoers and club members at the Pelican Hill Golf Club, there has been a silver lining in the effect of COVID-19 on play. “The pace of play is under four hours,” said Robert Ford, general manager of golf operations in July. As part of the safety policies, players had individual carts, unless with family members. “They’re playing ready golf,” Ford said. “Just drive up to the ball. They love it.” The virus took a big bite out of the club, which reduced play to one course because of a lack of carts and the course was closed to the public. Those issues notwithstanding, Pelican Hill remains atop the iconic courses in Orange County, which will continue as it emerges from the aftermath of the virus. The two courses designed by legendary golf architect Tom Fazio, who compared the landscape to Ireland, are like two Old World gems on the Left Coast. Built in the early 1990s, the courses were “reperfected” in 2007 and overseen by Fazio. The Pelican Hill Golf Club consists of the par-71, 6,949-yard North course and par-70, 6,580-yard South Ocean Course. The pair consistently rank high in annual lists published by national golf magazines. The courses are set in the shadow of the Roman-themed Resort at Pelican Hill, which spans 504 acres with spectacular ocean views from both courses. After rounds, there are numerous eating and drinking choices. — Greg Mellen

JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

2. Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club

3. Black and Gold Golf Club

Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club prides itself on a country-inthe-city vibe. That was particularly true in March and April, when geese, rabbits, deer and coyotes from the adjoining Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo checked out the golf links and turf grew thick during the pandemic shutdown. The two-legged creatures are back, but Geoff Cram, club manager, says the turf remains in “phenomenal” condition. Since reopening, Cram said “we are busier than we’ve ever been.” “We’re getting people who haven’t golfed in 10 years,” he said. Designed by Casey O’Callaghan and PGA Tour Pro Tom Lehman and set on 240 acres, the course is scalable and can play between 5,000 and 7,000 yards. The course features the namesake Trabuco Creek, a devilish hazard on seven holes and lakes are involved in three other holes. The facilities are all highend, making the site popular for weddings and banquets and O’Neill’s Bar & Grill is a popular dining and watering hole.

Visitors and first-timers invariably note the stunning waterfall at the 18th green, but there is much more to the Black and Gold Golf Club. Designed by Arthur Hills, who built more than 200 courses and prepped courses for PGA and USGA championships, the par-72, 6,756-yard circuit is an Orange County favorite. Undulating like a rumpled green blanket through the hills of Yorba Linda, the course features elevation changes, strategic bunkers and water features as well as some stunning vistas of coastal Orange and Los Angeles counties, the Newport Beach Coast and Catalina Island. Green frees are affordable, set with Yorba Linda City Council approval. The course is a three-time “Worth the Greens Fees” winner according to GreensKeeper.org. After golf, Derricks Grill is a full-service restaurant and popular for weddings with banquet facilities for more than 250 guests.

26722 Avery Parkway, Mission Viejo; 949-305-5100; arroyotrabuco.com

One Black Gold Drive, Yorba Linda; 714-961-0060; blackgoldgolf.com

THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 15


» BEST

LIVE THEATER

1. Segerstrom Center for the Arts

600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa; 714-556-2787; scfta.org Segerstrom Center for the Arts, the largest nonprofit arts organization in Orange County, makes it possible for people to indulge their tastes for quality theater with top-notch Broadway touring productions. Its upcoming Broadway season at the 3,000-seat Segerstrom Hall was adjusted because of the coronavirus pandemic. It now is scheduled to begin in February with the Lincoln Center Theater production of Lerner and Loewe’s classic, “My Fair Lady.” Two center premieres will follow: the stage version of “Disney’s Frozen” in May and Audience Choice Award winner “Pretty Woman: The Musical” in July. Next up will be Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin’s acclaimed stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” in August. New York Magazine called it “a real phenomenon. Majestic and incandescent, it’s filled with breath and nuance and soul.” The series finishes with the rescheduled “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life

PHOTO BY MATTHEW MURPHY

“Escape to Margaritaville,” the Jimmy Buffett jukebox musical, opened in February of this year at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. and Times of the Temptations” in September 2021. The center’s 2021 Curtain Call Series features the return of the musical “Come From Away” in January and a new production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in March. It also offers a cabaret series

2. South Coast Repertory

655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa; 714-708-5555; scr.org South Coast Repertory has earned its place as one of the top regional theaters in the country through its innovative programming that puts a premium on discovering and cultivating new works. It has received the Regional Theatre Tony Award for Distinguished Achievement. Its annual Pacific Playwrights Festival — which brings in local and national professionals for three days of staged readings, full productions and collaborative efforts — is part of The Lab@SCR, the theater’s newplay development initiative. It has come a long way from its opening in 1964, led

by artistic directors David Emmes and Martin Benson. Its first home was a two-story, converted marine hardware store in Newport Beach with 75 seats. Today, its home is the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and 94-seat Nicholas Studio. Emmes and Benson continue to advise in their roles as founding artistic directors. The 13-play lineup for South Coast Repertory’s first full season under recently appointed Artistic Director David Ivers was announced in March right before fullscale closures of all performing arts venues.

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and special productions for children throughout the year. Beyond theater, the center presents a Dance Series and plays host to the Pacific Symphony and Philharmonic Society of Orange County, while bringing in renowned orchestras and soloists from

around the world. And the newer Julianne and George Argyros Plaza, a large outdoor space with a permanent stage, public seating and picnic areas, plays host to free community cultural events. — Kathie Bozanich

3. Laguna Playhouse

606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach; 949-497-2787; lagunaplayhouse.com Laguna Playhouse, with its year-round offerings, is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020, though its centennial season was delayed until 2021 “due to the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19.” Over the years, it has drawn well-known stage and screen actors who are attracted to the theater and the lifestyle and offerings of the Laguna arts community. It remains one of the oldest not-for-profit theaters on the West Coast.

Each season, the theater features performances and special engagements that include dramas, comedies, musicals, oneperson shows and tributes to classic rock bands. Laguna Playhouse, described in the September 2019 Orange County Register arts preview as “a resurgent house that recently has ratcheted up its onstage accomplishments to match its artistic ambitions,” is overseen by Executive Director Ellen Richard and Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham.


» BEST

MOVIE THEATER

PHOTO BY PAUL RODRIGUEZ, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Leather recliners are featured in the luxury cinema The Lot at Fashion Island in Newport Beach.

1. The Lot, Fashion Island

999 Newport Circle Drive, Newport Beach; 949-281-0069; thelotent.com

Movies, sure. But in the modern market, old-fashioned mall cinemas don’t cut it anymore. Patrons are looking for “entertainment experiences.” Enter The Lot at Fashion Island, which in 2018 replaced the Island Cinema in the popular mall. Walking up to The Lot you can easily tell this no regular mall cineplex. The third and newest of the Lot properties features a standalone restaurant as well as indoor-outdoor social space. “I think we set ourselves apart by offering a first-class experience and by delivering quality,” said Rayner Chi, general manager of the Newport theater. Customers can get dinner and a movie at the same time, with the restaurant serving everything from gourmet burgers with a “secret” chipotle aioli sauce and a full bar with signature cocktails and craft beers. There is also a cafe featuring artisanal coffees The experience extends inside the theater, where patrons can place food and drink orders from their seats, which are full leather recliners, of course. The lot features seven “suites,” with between 35 and 74 seats each with everything from first-run blockbusters like “Avengers” movies and “Frozen,” to smaller indie films and anime, according to Chi. Movies, sure, but at the Lot you are also apt to see live operas and concerts. Definitely not your old school mall cinema. — Greg Mellen

2. Edwards Aliso Viejo 20 & IMAX

26701 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo; 844-462-7432; regmovies.com A neighborhood feel remains a priority at the Edwards Aliso Viejo 20 & IMAX. Operators say it’s that vibe and a faithful clientele that make the cinema a top finisher in the yearly readers survey. With 20 screens, the theater brings in the big studio hits with all the bells and whistles, including digital IMAX. And, of course, there are the now staple reclining chairs and food and drink service, including domestic and craft beers, wine and sangria, flatbread pizzas, specialty sandwiches, soft tacos and Bavarian pretzel sticks. Edwards is part of the Regal Cinemas based in Knoxville, Tennessee, the second largest theater circuit in the United States.

3. AMC Tustin 14 at The District 2457 Park Ave., Tustin; 714-258-7036; amctheatres.com

Located in the heart of The District, where Highway 261 transitions into Jamboree Road, the AMC Tustin 14 theater is in prime position to attract eager moviegoers. And the theater delivers on that in the view of Register readers. From Dolby sound, to 3D to its trademarked PRIME screening, the theater has the high-end features patrons seek. Plus all the Hollywood blockbusters. There are also reserved seats and recliners, including comfy heated numbers in some of the auditoriums. The MacGuffin’s bar features hand-crafted cocktails, and an extensive selection of beers, such as the 16-ounce Tank 7 by Boulevard, and a wine list. Food offerings range from traditional theater fare to sliders, flat pizza, nachos, wings, wraps, salads, Bavarian pretzels and gourmet popcorn. You can even have your food and drink ready for you when you arrive by using the AMC Theatres app. THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 17


» BEST

MUSEUM 2. Discovery Cube Orange County

2500 N. Main St., Santa Ana; 714-542-2823; oc.discoverycube.org With its hands-on exhibits and activities, Discovery Cube Orange County makes science learning fun. It’s apparent throughout the place, as children (and adults) go from the Eco Challenge to Mission Control to the Water Gallery and more. Interactive exhibits bring concepts into the real world — for example, a pulley cable device in which kids lift their own weight teaches kids about applied force, while putting on foam wings in front of a wind blast is a lesson in aerodynamics. Discovery Cube Orange County, which opened in 1998, has two sister campuses: Discovery Cube Los Angeles and Discovery Cube Ocean Quest at Newport Beach’s Balboa Fun Zone. In May, Discovery Cube launched the platform Discovery Cube Connect, a digital extension of the three locations. It features STEM programs and activities divided by area of interest and grade level, and is free to access with a valid email address.

LEONARD ORTIZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The Ancient Arts of China exhibit in the East West Bank Gallery at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana.

1. Bowers Museum

2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana; 714-567-3600; bowers.org Its popularity and reach in the cultural community cannot be denied: Bowers Museum again tops this list, as it has for more than a quarter of a century. “The Bowers prides itself on showcasing world-class arts and cultures in a warm, inviting space located in the heart of Orange County,” said Kelly Bishop, the museum’s associate director of communications and branding. Bowers includes eight permanent exhibitions and rotating special exhibitions with renowned global partners. The museum, however, did not have to reach far for its most recent featured exhibition, “Inside the Walt Disney Archives: 50 Years of Preserving the Magic,” which has been extended until Oct. 18. The exhibition features more than 400 items from the Walt Disney Co.’s 18 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

permanent archives. Items on view include the first ticket ever sold at Disneyland, Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse plush dolls from the 1930s, never-before-displayed sketches from “Fantasia” and Herbie, and the VW Beetle from the 1968 Disney movie “The Love Bug.” Looking ahead to “a bright 2021,” Bishop said, “Bowers will host the return of iconic fashion designer Guo Pei in a whole new exhibition of her couture masterpieces.” The Bowers Museum was established in 1936 as a small, city-run museum. Its community offerings also include lectures, workshops, classes and special events. A 296-seat auditorium, 26,000 square feet of event space, a Patina-owned restaurant, Gallery Store and surrounding gardens round out the campus. — Kathie Bozanich

3. Orange County Museum of Art

1661 Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana (temporary); 714-780-2130; ocmaexpand.org After its groundbreaking in September 2019, the new permanent home of the Orange County Museum of Art at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts is on track for a late 2021 debut. The 53,000-square-foot museum, the last to join the Costa Mesa cultural complex, will feature a light-colored, flowing terra-cotta-paneled facade and a signature roof terrace that takes up the majority of the building’s footprint. The open space can be used for concerts, movie screenings and special events. Pritzker Prize-winner Thom Mayne is the design director for the project. The museum has been operating out of temporary space in Santa Ana. With the larger building, the museum will have the space to exhibit parts of its permanent collection, which includes more than 4,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs and other contemporary works.


» BEST

MUSIC VENUE

KELLY A. SWIFT, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Sinead O’Connor performs at The Coach House in February on her first U.S. tour in seven years.

1. The Coach House

33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano; 949-496-8930; thecoachhouse.com In the “can’t judge a book by its cover,” category, The Coach House proves that what happens inside a rock venue can often belie a plain wrapper. The magic of this iconic venue, which has brought such acts as B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Chris Isaak, Tori Amos, Tom Jones and Devo to sleepy San Juan

Capistrano, occurs when groups hit the stage. Gary Folgner opened the club in 1980 and it has been shaking ever since. In addition to “name” acts, Coach House has been an incubator for emerging groups and plays host to the usual rotation of tribute bands. “The Coach House feeds

2. House of Blues, Anaheim 400 Disney Way, Suite 337, Anaheim; 714-778-2583; houseofblues.com/anaheim Since House of Blues, Anaheim opened at the Anaheim GardenWalk in February 2017, it has become a popular live music venue. Located in the Anaheim resort area and with the weight of the national Live Nation Entertainment and House of Blues brand behind it, the Anaheim venue has all the bells, whistles and lights. Despite its corporate brand, however, the House of Blues, founded by owners of Hard Rock

Cafe, has an eclectic mix of music, from hard rock to gospel brunch to local artist performance spaces. There are three spaces within the 40,000-squarefoot venue. The main concert hall, which has hosted acts such as Billy Idol, Santana and Social Distortion, holds 2,200, with VIP options. The Parish holds 400 and the Foundation Room 150 to 175. There is also a full restaurant and bar on-site.

fans nostalgia, while giving them an intimate setting to see their favorite artists,” said Tiffany Amber, box office manager. When closed down by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coach House livestreamed entertainment that featured discussions, interviews and live music. “We have started working with Alert the Globe to bring the magic of music to people’s homes all over the world via online live streams at least twice a

week,” Amber said. Folgner said before the pandemic he had been enjoying his best economic year. The venue seats about 500 with reserved tables and seating closer to the stage. This “allows music lovers to enjoy dinner while sitting right at the edge of the stage,” Amber said. The dinner fare includes steak, fish and chicken as well as appetizers and dessert. — Greg Mellen

3. The Observatory

3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana; 714-957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com The Santa Ana hot spot is a double threat with two clubs under one roof. A 1,000 capacity venue, the club’s namesake is a larger theater-styled concert hall, while the Constellation Room is an intimate space for special events and emerging artists. As with many clubs there is VIP service at many shows, with preferred views and seating and dedicated servers with food and bar service. Rising from the ashes of the old, and admittedly decrepit, Galaxy Theatre, the Observatory opened

in 2011, then sold with its sister in San Diego to national entertainment power Live Nation in 2015. The Observatory has nonetheless maintained its local appeal. With the backing of Live Nation, before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the venue was booking more than 500 shows annually and was able to bring in national and alternative groups. Over the years the Observatory has played host to diverse groups from the Zombies to X to the Old 97’s.

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» BEST

OC COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY

1. UC Irvine

311 W. Peltason Drive (student center), Irvine; 949-824-5011; uci.edu Founded in 1965, UC Irvine has evolved into a nationally recognized research university that values offering a quality education to everyone regardless of background. “For our students, UCI is where they can explore great ideas, find their passions, develop their talents and start their individual journeys toward their own American dream, as they define it,” university Chancellor Howard Gillman said through a spokesman. UCI is the most popular school in California for instate students, according to Tom Vasich, the university’s director of media relations. He added that for the second year in a row, UCI received the largest number of applications from state residents, Latinx high school seniors and transfer students from community colleges. Among other honors, UC Irvine ranked No. 1 on Money magazine’s 2019-20 list of the nation’s “Best Colleges” based on cost and

UCI students walk to and from class. quality, making it the first public university to top the list. The university “nets positive scores across all five of Money’s ‘value-add’ metrics, which compare outcomes on graduation, student borrowing, and alumni wages with how

2. Chapman University

1 University Drive, Orange; 714-997-6815; chapman.edu Chapman University is a private institution with more than 7,600 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students that offers almost 200 academic programs. The Argyros School of Business and Economics, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts and Fowler School of Law all rank highly on national and discipline-specific surveys. The Fowler School of Engineering is the university’s latest addition. With a low student-to-teacher ratio, Chapman puts a premium on personalized instruction and encourages students to pursue interdisciplinary studies.

The school has invested in state-of-the-art technology in its classrooms. It is tied for 63rd on U.S. News and World Report’s “Most Innovative Schools” list and is tied for 125th among national universities. The campus itself draws praise for its beauty, with a blend of neoclassic and modern architecture amid lots of trees and other greenery and walkable paths. More than 90 percent of first-year students live on campus, which is in Old Towne Orange, with its myriad dining and shopping options in a quaint, historic setting.

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we’d predict colleges to perform based on the students they enroll,” the magazine said. The university also administers UCI Medical Center in Orange, the only academic health system in Orange County.

JOSHUA SUDOCK, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Gillman said UCI also plays an intrinsic role in the community “as a powerful force for progress … there’s not an issue that really matters where UCI does not contribute to the improved well-being of our region.” — Kathie Bozanich

3. Cal State Fullerton

800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton; 657-278-2011; fullerton.edu Cal State Fullerton has the largest enrollment among colleges in Orange County, with 39,868 students enrolled in fall 2019. Mostly a commuter school, it also has the largest student body in the 23-campus California State University system. That’s a far cry from the 452 students who were there when classes first began at the then-Orange County State College on the northeast Fullerton campus in September 1959. The university offers more than 50 undergraduate and about 50 graduate degree programs, as well as

numerous credential and certificate programs. Its nursing school rates highly compared to others — in particular, its anesthesiology program is tied for fourth and midwifery program is tied for 21st in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools” list. The university was tied at No. 22 on the 2019-20 Money magazine “Best Colleges” list that measures cost and quality of education. Its men’s baseball team has won four NCAA national championships.


» BEST

RUN/RACE

MINDY SCHAUER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

About 17,000 athletes take part in the 24th Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach in February.

1. Surf City USA Marathon Huntington Beach; 562-795-8900; motivrunning.com/run-surf-city

Orange County’s oldest marathon will be riding a wave into its 25th running on the first weekend of February. “This is a legacy year,” said Dan Cruz, event spokesman, “It’s a milestone and we’re excited.” By tradition, the race is held the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. The 2020 race was held a week after the helicopter crash that killed Los Angeles Lakers basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others, including two from Huntington Beach. Organizers honored the victims with a pre-race ceremony, moment of silence and memorials at the 8- and 24-mile markers, signifying Kobe Bryant’s jersey numbers. The race also featured a group of about 60 runners from Hawaii who came to honor and finish the race for Dr. William Travis Lau. A cardiac anesthesiologist from Hawaii, Lau was training for the 2019 race when he was one of three killed by a suspected drunk driver in Honolulu just days before the Surf City race. The 2020 race was held in textbook conditions with cool morning fog giving way to brilliant sunshine. And, as always, it featured the spectacular Southern California coastline as a backdrop. The event is scheduled to be held Feb. 6-8 in 2021. The course is flat and fast and with a half-marathon, 5 kilometer run and a Saturday 1-mile sand run. Entertainers line the course and finishers receive the unique and popular surfboard medal. — Greg Mellen

2. Dana Point Turkey Trot

3. SDCCU/OC Marathon

Turkey and Pilgrim costumes will be on full display, because dressing up and participating in the costume contest is just part of the fun at the Dana Point Turkey Trot. As scenic as any race in Orange County, the race meanders along the shores of the city’s famed harbor area and Doheny State Beach. The Turkey Trot has been a holiday tradition for 42 years. The flat, scenic race features 10- and 5-kilometer runs and a kids Gobble Wobble. Presented by the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce and a perennial winner of local Golden Lantern awards, the small-town secret has gotten out to greater OC The race began as a fundraiser involving 300 people with pizza and beer waiting at the finish line. Nowadays upwards of 10,000 flock to the seaside town to get in the miles and burn off calories before sitting down for their turkey stuffings.

While many summer and late spring marathons were canceled outright in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, organizers of the SDCCU/OC Marathon, traditionally held in early May, pushed the date back to Nov. 7-8 in the hopes of keeping the 15th running going on an annual basis. As of July, race director Gary Kutscher had his fingers crossed it could still happen, but admitted it was up in the air saying, “We hope there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.” Before the virus, Kutscher said, “we were on track for our best year in four or five years.” Registered runners unable to run in November can defer until 2021 or convert to a virtual run and still get their swag. Whether held in late 2020, or its regular date in 2021, the race will still be held on “one of the most beautiful courses in one of the most idyllic locations in the world,” according to organizers. The marathon had been the signature event in the three-day OC Marathon Running Festival at the OC Lifestyle and Fitness Expo, attracting 25,000 runners and spectators and 70 exhibitors.

Dana Point; 949-496-1555, Ext. 101; turkeytrot.com

Newport Beach/Costa Mesa; 949-496-1555; ocmarathon.com

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» BEST

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CASINO 2. Pala Casino, Spa & Resort

11154 Highway 76, Pala; 877-946-7252; palacasino.com This casino, located in northern San Diego County, has a 507-room hotel, an RV resort with clubhouse and pool, as well as a gaming floor with more than 2,000 slots and 70 table games. The casino recently finished renovating each of its hotel rooms. All rooms have new paint and amenities that include small refrigerators, Keurig coffee makers and charging and personal music stations on the nightstands. Fred Buro, CEO of Pala, said one of the things that separates the casino is its commitment to customer service and making sure casino employees know how to make that happen. “What we do differently, No. 1, is communication and make sure that everybody on the executive team doesn’t take for granted that when they hand off the baton and it’s outside of their area, that somebody’s ready and willing to grab that baton and take customers to the next place, fluidly and transparently and easily,” Buro said.

3. Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa PHOTO BY ALEX GROVES

Pechanga Resort Casino is one of the larger Southern California casinos and boasts amenities comparable to what you might find at a Las Vegas resort.

1. Pechanga Resort Casino

45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula; 877-711-2946; pechanga.com One of the largest and most opulent casino resorts in Southern California is Pechanga Resort Casino near Temecula. The casino boasts two hotel towers with 1,100 hotel rooms, an RV Resort, more than 5,000 slot machines and 166 table games. Some of its restaurants include fine dining spot The Great Oak Steakhouse, Italian restaurant Paisano’s and Asian seafood spot Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar. Jared Munoa, president of the Pechanga Development Corp., said that the fact that Pechanga is among the top California casinos “speaks to the care and attention to detail each and every one of our team 22 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

members strives to provide to all of our guests.” “You’ll hear some say our hospitality is the ‘Pechanga way,’” Munoa said in an emailed statement. “Our guests and loyal club members pick Pechanga because they know they’ll consistently receive upstanding customer service and because we have made sure there is something for everyone to enjoy here. We work hard to give guests great perks for earning points from playing their favorite slots or table games. They also tell us they appreciate our deep commitment to giving back to our community, especially in these difficult times.” — Alex Groves

49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 951849-3080; morongocasinoresort.com Morongo boasts a 27-story hotel tower with 272 guest rooms and 32 suites, more than 4,000 slots and 80 table games. The casino recently completed a 65,000-square-foot expansion that increased gaming space by more than 30 percent. It also added new restaurants and bars on the casino level, including the 24-hour Good Times Cafe; Mozen Asian Kitchen; and cafe and pastry shop Pink Coffee. “With our luxurious new expansion now open, Morongo’s gaming floor is now over 30 percent bigger, with more slots, table games, amenities, and good times,” Simon Farmer, executive director of marketing, wrote in an email. “Our expansion marks another major milestone in Morongo’s legacy as a world-class resort destination and underscores our ongoing commitment to always exceed the expectations of our guests by offering the very best casino-resort experience.”


SHOPPING + SERVICES » Auto Repair » Bank » Bicycle Shop » Car Dealership » Credit Union » Dental Practice » Fitness Center/ Boot Camp » Grocery Store » Hospital

» Medical Group » Pet Clinic/Veterinary Hospital » Place to Buy CBD Products » Place to Get A Grab-And-Go Meal » Shopping/Dining Destination » Thrift Store » Tutoring Service

NAME GOES HERE, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

SHOPPING & SERVICES

Auto Repair Bank Bicycle Shop Car Dealership Credit Union Department Store Fitness Center JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF Grocery PHOTOGRAPHER Store

XX THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

Hospital Medical or Dental Group Men’s Clothing Store Organic Food Selection Pet Clinic/Veterinary Hospital Pet Groomer Pet Supplies Store Shopping/Dining Destination

Sporting Goods/ Athletic Apparel Store Surf Shop Thrift Store Tire Dealer Tutoring Service Wine Selection Women’s Clothing Store


» BEST

AUTO REPAIR

1. Expertec Automotive

Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach; experteccostamesa.com It seems like such a simple concept: Have specialized mechanics trained in different disciplines. But that seemingly simple concept vaults Expertec to the front of its class again. The two-shop business carved out a niche based on two pillars of service. The first pillar is that specialization. Expertec’s 13 mechanics: nine at the Huntington Beach shop and four at Costa Mesa, operate like doctors. Each mechanic possesses a specialty or multiple specialties that enable him to cover the mechanical spectrum of car issues. If a customer brings a car into the Huntington Beach location and it’s diagnosed with a problem best served by a Costa Mesa mechanic, Expertec will drive the car to the Costa Mesa shop. “We have other shops referring cars here because they can’t fix it,” said Gary Frahm, Expertec’s vice president. “You give the mechanic a pat on the back because he fixed some-

PAUL BERSEBACH, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Mechanic Carlos Zavala works on a car at the Expertec Automotive in Huntington Beach. thing no one else can do. Between repeat and referral business, that’s 75% of our business.” Along with that specialization, Expertec offers loaner cars and shuttle service for customers. That brings us to the second pillar: customer

2. South Coast Auto Clinic

3191-B Airport Loop Drive, Costa Mesa; 714-557-1480; southcoastautoclinic.com Several years ago, a customer found a used Jeep Cherokee for sale. Hearing about South Coast Auto via a referral, the customer contacted the shop and asked it to pick up the car for a prepurchase inspection. Satisfied with the inspection, the customer came down, bought the Jeep sight-unseen and drove it home — to Anchorage, Alaska. It’s stories like this that have made South Coast Auto the go-to auto repair for three generations of customers. In business since 1966, South Coast Auto built that repeat

business base through methodical, customer-oriented service. Mechanics avoid upselling, making it a central point to prioritize necessary service with matters that can wait — and telling customers when that service will be needed. South Coast Auto performs the full range of mechanical work, from major engine repairs to oil changes, brake replacements, shocks, struts and AC repairs. The shop also specializes in milestone maintenance on cars reaching 30,000, 60,000, 90,000 and 120,000 miles.

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service. Expertec mechanics show customers every repair they make or propose to make. Frahm said if a customer doesn’t choose to have work done at a given date, Expertec will send them periodic reminders in an effort to spare major

expense later. “I pretend every car that comes in here is a car my daughter is driving and the last thing I want is to pick her up at 11 o’clock at night,” Frahm said. “It’s all about customer service.” — Brian Robin

3. A-Z Tech Automotive

23672 Via Fabricante Ave., Mission Viejo; 949-472-8111; a-ztechautomotive.com This Mission Viejo-based shop takes a proactive approach to car care that customers discover before stepping foot in their offices. You can prediagnose your car’s potential issues through a blog on the shop’s website, then take it to the experts at the all-purpose shop that began in 1989 with a box of tools and a floor jack. A-Z Tech not only services an international A-to-VW spectrum of brands, from Aston Martins to Volkswagens, but guarantees its work for two years or 24,000

miles. This encompasses routine maintenance and engine diagnostics, along with engine overhauls and rebuilds. A-Z Tech’s niche is all-encompassing. The facility offers smog checks, glass repair and a full-service collision and paint center that is a PPG Certified First Repair Facility. A-Z Tech even has its own club, the Car Care Club, that provides members free services ranging from four free oil changes to free mini detailing, along with discounts on various services and service packages.


» BEST

BANK

MINDY SCHAUER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

California Bank & Trust is again the best bank as determined by Best of Orange County voters.

1. California Bank & Trust Multiple locations; calbanktrust.com For more than 60 years, California Bank & Trust has been helping Californians and California businesses grow. In fact, it is among California’s leading banks with more than $11 billion in assets and about 90 branch offices throughout the state. Starting out as a group of individually

owned banks throughout California, it has since become a force to be reckoned with. California Bank & Trust is the result of merging three institutions acquired separately by Zions Bancorporation: Sumitomo Bank of California, San Diego-based Grossmont Bank and First

2. Bank of America

Multiple locations; bankofamerica.com Pretty much everyone has heard of, or at least seen, one of the many locations of Bank of America. It first appeared in 1923 with the formation of Bank of America, Los Angeles. In 1928, it was acquired by Bank of Italy of San Francisco then took on the name Bank of America in 1930. Originally operated by Amadeo Pietro Gianni, the bank already had 453 banking offices in California back in 1929.

Today Bank of America prides itself on its friendly customer service, can-do attitude, and its willingness to share its success with its community. The bank’s culture is one of accountability as it takes its commitments to ethical behavior and integrity seriously. Bank of America has more than 66 million clients around the globe and more than 40 branch and ATM locations in Orange County.

Pacific National Bank. Today, California Bank & Trust, which is a division of Zions Bankcorporation, N.A., operates in almost 500 local financial centers throughout 11 Western states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and Utah. One of California Bank & Trust’s major goals is to help all community members and their businesses prosper. It

created a Community Development Grant Program and also provides resources to a number of female- and minority-owned businesses. CB&T also seeks to stabilize communities with low to moderate incomes. Business owners can also benefit from webinars on economic trends and financial updates to stay in the know as well as keeping their financials safe. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Wells Fargo

Multiple locations; wellsfargo.com Wells Fargo is one of the largest banks in the United States by total assets and also by market capitalization. In 2018, Wells Fargo ranked No. 26 on Fortune 500’s list of the largest U.S. corporations by total revenue. However, this bank isn’t strictly by the numbers; it also helps out the community. Wells Fargo has donated $175 million to help address small business needs, housing, financial stability, and public health needs during the COVID-19

pandemic. Outside of the pandemic, it also focuses on housing affordability, financial health, and small business growth for those in need of a little extra help. More than 96,000 Wells Fargo team members have volunteered more than 2 million hours for charitable organizations. As for the bank itself, you can find a location around pretty much every corner in Orange County and its app makes banking a breeze.

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» BEST

CAR DEALERSHIP 2. Tustin Mazda

28 Auto Center Drive, Tustin; 714-361-2142; tustinmazda.com Tustin Mazda is the flagship of John Patterson’s four-dealership armada that includes Huntington Beach Mazda, Tustin Hyundai and Mission Viejo Acura. At each dealership, Patterson’s concept of treating customers as intelligent individuals instead of walking ATMs is instilled in his staff. Tustin Mazda assumes every customer is educated about their purchase options and presents those options with sales incentives on every Mazda model. Some of those incentives include 0% financing to deferring payments for 90 days to military and loyalty specials. The dealership also features a wide array of used vehicles. One of the dealership’s special touches is its Showroom to Go, where buyers can pick their vehicles, get an instant online appraisal of their trade-in, submit an offer and finalize the purchase — all from their computer or smartphone.

JOSHUA SUDOCK, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Fletcher Jones Motorcars in Newport Beach has been the nation’s No. 1 Mercedes-Benz dealership for the past 21 years.

1. Fletcher Jones Motorcars

3300 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach; 949-220-0178; fjmercedes.com The country’s No. 1 Mercedes dealership for 21 consecutive years earned that title by not only offering customers a wide variety of high-end vehicles — from SUVs to luxury sedans to roadsters — but by staying ahead of the sales curve in a competitive market. Currently, Fletcher Jones is enhancing its service reputation by offering 0% financing on new or certified used vehicles, deferring first payments for 90 days, waiving up to three payments on eligible leased vehicles and offering up to $5,000 in loyalty incentives for current customers. Fletcher Jones offers regular service and parts specials, even offering a “vehicle disinfectant special” that disinfects the car from the inside out. The dealership also offers deals on its loaner vehicles — all coming with low mileage — that provide bargains for would-be Mercedes buyers. Those interested in a new Mercedes 26 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

are taken to what the dealership calls its “Field of Dreams.” That’s a fancy term for its showroom, which features every make, model and option imaginable. Before venturing afield, buyers can examine some of the newest models on the dealership’s website, which blogs about everything from what to expect from upcoming Mercedes models to which accessories every Mercedes owner “should own.” When Fletcher Jones Sr. opened his first dealership in downtown Los Angeles in 1946, he jumped ahead of the curve in terms of car shopping. In his mind, there was more to selling cars than selling cars. When his son, Fletcher “Ted” Jones Jr. opened his Mazda dealership in the 1970s — during the oil crisis — he displayed the same foresight. And today’s Newport Beach dealership takes the same steps in terms of meeting buyers’ expectations in terms of sales and service. — Brian Robin

3. Toyota of Orange

1400 N. Tustin St., Orange; 714-907-4742; toyotaoforange.com Yes, this is the dealership that made the lemon forbidden fruit, along with burning a jingle into the heads of generations of Southern Californians. It’s also one of the top Toyota dealerships in Southern California, one that carved out an award-winning niche as a versatile dealer. Toyota of Orange earned many of those awards not only for its large inventory of one of the most popular car makes in the world, but a finance department that makes it easy for anyone to get behind the wheel of a new or used Toyota. The dealership makes it a point to work with people with poor credit or no credit. In a sign of the times, Toyota of Orange also offers an Express Store program that allows buyers to purchase a car without leaving their house. Buyers can pick out new cars designed to their specifications, arrange for financing, lease or trade-in terms, then have the car delivered by an employee. It also offers numerous incentive specials on parts, services, new cars and used cars, many of those with low mileage. There are also military and college graduate rebate programs.


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» BEST

CREDIT UNION

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union at 5305 Alton Parkway in Irvine.

1. SchoolsFirst FCU

Multiple locations; schoolsfirstfcu.org In 1934, during the middle of the Great Depression, 126 school employees pooled $1,200 to form the Orange County Teachers Credit Union. By 1973, the credit union’s assets had grown to $56,902,611 and by 1983, the Orange County Teachers Credit Union had become the largest teachers’ credit union in the nation and the fifth largest credit union in the state of California. By 1987, it had expanded its membership to include private and parochial schools and assets surpassed the half-billion-dollar mark. Today, SchoolsFirst FCU has made a few “best of ” lists for multiple years running, it has grown to more than 500,000 members and its assets exceed $10 billion. Current and retired school employees are eligible for membership in the credit union, as are their immediate family. Members who use SchoolsFirst FCU credit cards, auto and mortgage loans, and checking and share accounts save $1,923 a year on average compared to conventional California banks. Members are also members for life; they can change careers or move out of the area and still reap the benefits of SchoolsFirst FCU as long as they maintain at least a $5 balance in their Share Savings account. — Jessie Dax-Setkus 28 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

2. Orange County’s Credit Union Multiple locations; orangecountyscu.org

Orange County’s Credit Union is the county’s largest community credit union with over $1.5 billion in assets. Created in 1938, it serves more than 100,000 members who have access to online and mobile banking, roughly 30,000 CO-OP network ATMs, investment options, auto loans, and mortgages. Banking with Orange County’s Credit Union means exclusive benefits including Mastercards with no annual fee, a free rewards program which earns a point for every dollar spent, safe and secure transactions, and the ability to conveniently bank online 24 hours a day. There are even banking options available for kids, such as the Sand Dollar Savings account that was created for kids 12 and under, or the Pacific Checking account for those 13 and older and is also a free account.

PAUL BERSEBACH, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

3. Wescom Credit Union Multiple locations; wescom.org

Wescom Credit Union was created in 1934 and since then has been “dedicated to help members throughout Southern California build better lives.” It was founded by 13 Pacific Telephone employees who pooled a grand total of $65 and formed the Telephone Employees Credit Union to help fellow employees obtain difficult loans. Today, Wescom Credit Union has 24 locations, more than $3.5 billion in assets and serves 200,000 members. The company is a nonprofit financial cooperative where the members are the owners. This means lower loan interest rates, reduced fees and a robust network of branches and ATMs. Anyone who lives, works, or attends school in Southern California is eligible to open an account. Wescom also has a mobile app for convenient banking as well. The credit union’s WeCare initiative is nonprofit and is designed to help those in need through giving and volunteering.


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THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 29


» BEST

DENTAL PRACTICE 2. Bright Dental Care 320 Bristol St., Suite A, Costa Mesa; 714-546-7595; brightdentalcare.com

This two-person practice stands out for a devotion to keeping up with the latest advances in dentistry, along with an array of other services. Drs. Kouroush Bassiri and Parisa Behroozi perform the usual crowns, extractions, dentures, hygienics and cosmetics that include inlays and onlays. But they also perform implants and cosmetic services ranging from lumineers (porcelain caps) to veneers to whitening. Along with that, the pair handle orthodontic work that covers both clear and traditional braces. They also perform endodontic surgeries, such as root canals and root canal retreatments. The office’s arsenal of technology allows those root canals to be performed with an electric handpiece that eases the process. The clinic also employs an interoral camera that allows patients to see what the dentists see inside their mouths and a stateof-the-art device called the panorex, which takes a 360-degree view of the teeth, head sinuses and bones. PAUL BERSEBACH, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

SC Dental Care in Laguna Hills was the top vote-getter for best dental practice.

Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach; 714-841-0203; oceanicdental.com

1. SC Dental Care

22972 Moulton Parkway, Suite 106, Laguna Hills; 949-770-3010; SCdentalcare.com It sounds oxymoronic, equating a visit to the dentist with a trip to “Cheers,” but that’s how Practice Manager Dennise Devane categorized this four-dentist practice that Dr. Rodney Boyd purchased in 2002. “Eighty percent of our staff has been here since the beginning. I’ve been here since 2005 and we have a hygienist who has been here that long as well,” Devane said. “This is ‘Cheers.’ Everyone knows who they are and everyone knows our patients’ names. When grandkids of your original patients come in, that’s pretty special. We have one family we saw as newlyweds and now we’re treating their grandkids.” Seeing those kids usually is the domain of Dr. Alison Austin, who handles much of the pediatric dentistry. She and Dr. Boyd, a USC Dental School graduate, also oversee an extensive Invisalign practice. The 30 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

3. Oceanic Dental

clinic’s proficiency with that teethstraightening process earned it a designation as an Invisalign Preferred Provider. Dr. Boyd’s speciality is cosmetic dentistry, a foundation of SC Dental’s services. Dr. Tabby Abulhosseini, who became Boyd’s active partner in 2010, oversees the practice’s laser treatment. But don’t let the high-tech and cosmetics overshadow the fact SC Dental performs the customary range of dental services, such as fillings, dentures, extractions, porcelain veneers, crowns and bridges and implants. Much of the implant work is done by Dr. Paul Murray, the fourth dentist in the practice. “If it’s something we can’t do for you here, Dr. Tabby and Dr. Boyd have so many connections that we can refer you out to a specialist,” Devane said. — Brian Robin

A lake outside Oceanic Dental is more than truth in advertising. It’s a conscious effort from practice owner Dr. Krystal Pham to create as much a sense of comfort as a trip to the dentist can provide. Pham selected her dentists as much for their devotion to patient comfort as their knowledge, although her six-dentist clinic covers the dental spectrum. From the lake to the interior décor to the use of DentalVibe to numb the area where injections take place, Oceanic Dental takes pains to minimize pain in its patients. As for services, Pham handles much of the cosmetic dentistry. Experienced oral surgeons Dr. Chris Bonin and Dr. Azadeh Lakani perform everything from implants to bone grafting. Drs. Matthew Amaro and Ai-Quyen Tanya Duong handle general dentistry needs, while Dr. Katie Hutson brings a wide array of dental experience to Oceanic Dental, from periodontics and oral surgery to general dentistry.


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» BEST

FITNESS CENTER/BOOT CAMP

1. 24 Hour Fitness

Multiple locations; 24hourfitness.com With the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be hard to find a workout that burns some serious fat without taking a run in the outdoors or going on a hike. 24 Hour Fitness has the solution for all those looking to work up a sweat with their 24GO Personalized Fitness App. The gym encourages all fitness enthusiasts to live their healthiest life anytime and anywhere as it give access to more than 1,500 workouts to do at home or at the gym. Track and share progress, schedule classes and workouts, get calendar reminders and more with this handy app. As for the facilities, 24 Hour Fitness boasts tons of classes for every fitness level. Classes include the ever-so-famous Zumba, U-Jam, POP Pilates, and Les Mills classes such as BODYPUMP and BODYCOMBAT. There are also many popular studio classes and cycle classes available at no extra cost. There is also the option for personal training, TC24

MARK RIGHTMIRE, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

24 Hour Fitness was voted the top fitness center as part of the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards. Shown here is the location on North Tustin Avenue in Orange. Small Group Training and high performance training. No place to drop the kids off while getting

2. LA Fitness

Multiple locations; lafitness.com Since opening in 1984, LA Fitness has been one of the most popular places to grab a quality workout. As its name would suggest, the club was founded in Southern California, but has stretched throughout the nation over the years. The popular MYZONE app tracks heart rate, calories burned, and displays information regarding personal fitness goals and milestones on any smartphone device. Using age, height, weight, and gender, MYZONE provides accurate ways to track every workout. Take part in a variety of classes such as Cycle Zone,

which is a 45-minute class catering to cyclists looking to go the extra mile, yoga, Zumba, and more. Get a complimentary fitness assessment by scheduling an appointment on the gym’s user-friendly website, and decide whether personal training is an option to obtain fitness goals. Looking for a workout partner? LA Fitness allows all members to give twoweek memberships to those looking to join. Its website makes it easy to track visits, add family members or guests, book personal training sessions, reserve racquetball courts, and more.

32 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

in a solid workout? Never fear, 24 Hour Fitness offers Kids Club, where children up to age 12 can

play and meet new friends while mommy and daddy get their sweat on. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Orangetheory Fitness Multiple locations; orangetheory.com Not a fan of a conventional gym? Orangetheory Fitness has the perfect workout. Boasting a lively HIIT workout, Orange Theory splits their program into three pieces: rowing, cardio, and strength training. Every class is a little less than an hour and takes gymgoers on a journey through either strength, endurance, or power days depending on which day guests show up. Whether running for distance, using explosive motions, or lifting a slightly heavier weight

than usual, Orangetheory puts every member to the test that they can set on their own. Members are split into categories, which include walkers, joggers, and runners and this determines the speed dialed up on the treadmill. Each workout encourages members to get their heart rate into the orange zone, which burns fat for a couple of days after the workout. This heart rate is tracked on the arm or chest band heart rate tracker purchased when signing up.


» BEST

GROCERY STORE

DAVID CRANE, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Trader Joe’s was named the top grocery store as part of the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards.

1. Trader Joe’s

Multiple locations; traderjoes.com Ever thought that grocery shopping sould be a party? Well, Trader Joe’s is the luau shoppers have been looking for as every shopping excursion is actually fun. Explore the fun, organic products the shop has to offer and try some exciting goodies you might not have thought to buy.

The chain’s humble beginnings came about in 1958, when Joe Coulombe took over a group of L.A.-area convenience stores called Pronto Markets. The idea was shoppers could visit the store quickly and race home with their delicious treats with ease. In 1967, the first

2. Whole Foods

Multiple locations; wholefoodsmarket.com This organic behemoth, now owned by Amazon, seems to be just around every corner these days. Whole Foods isn’t just an organic marketplace — it is so much more than that. It is a shopping metropolis where shoppers can find everything from a favorite product to a freshly made juice, a hot lunch, or a place to hang out. The produce section can’t be beat as they offer the freshest staple

products such as avocados, carrots, or raspberries and also more offbeat products like dragon fruit or sumo citrus. The cheese selection at Whole Foods is also something to be admired as the store has the perfect cheese pairing for every bottle of wine. Grab a freshly made sandwich, compose a light green salad, and sip on a tangy kombucha from the tap after shopping — there are also vegan and vegetarian options.

official Trader Joe’s opened in Pasadena and it has been a shopping sensation ever since. In 1972, Trader Joe’s introduced its first private label product — granola. This changed the landscape of the store and made way for the well-known signature products it offers today. In 1988, the chain had 19 stores; today it boasts more than 500 locations and continues to

grow year after year. Another great thing about Trader Joe’s is it keeps its shelves fresh — if an item doesn’t sell it is pulled and replaced with something else. Also, Trader Joe’s offers great prices compared to other organic chains. Visit the Trader Joe’s website for fun and fresh recipe ideas, and drop by the store for free samples and helpful tips on how to use them too. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Sprouts

Multiple locations; sprouts.com Sprouts is all about saving the customer money. The chain even goes so far as posting the deals of the month on its website for shoppers looking for a deal. It also posts digital coupons, feature their on sale items, and offers a Sprouts App for additional savings. The app is easy to use as it as simple as downloading and then presenting the bar code to the cashier upon checkout to take advantage of in-store deals. Their helpful website also

offers fun recipe ideas for shoppers in a dinnertime pinch — recipes are separated into categories so they can be found with ease. The site also categorizes products so shoppers can know exactly what they are buying and for what price. Sprouts also has an extensive selection of Sprouts brand products to try, everything from peanut butter and orange juice to baby products and household cleaners.

THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 33


» BEST

HOSPITAL 2. MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center

JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center was named the best hospital by Register readers as part of the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards.

1. MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center

18111 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley; 714-378-7000; memorialcare.org/orangecoast This 218-bed, 1,279-employee nonprofit hospital regularly shows up on regional and national rankings for specialty programs that stretch the boundaries of medicine. But under the auspices of CEO Marcia Manker, who oversees both Orange Coast and its sister hospital — MemorialCare Saddleback in Laguna Hills — MemorialCare Orange Coast brings medicine back to its roots. It regularly invests in community programs that bring transportation to seniors, after-school programs for underserved youth and health screenings for underserved families. On the medical front, MemorialCare Orange Coast provides innovative specialty programs in such fields as heart and vascular care, cancer, joint replacements, Parkinson’s and movement disorders, spine health, digestive health and surgical weight loss. The facility just expanded and renovated an already-decorated emer34 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

gency department. Two areas of prominence include the MemorialCare Breast Center, which opened two new locations in Newport Beach and Huntington Beach. The center’s quality breast care earned accreditation by the National Accreditation Programs for Breast Centers. And MemorialCare’s lung program was designated as a Lung Cancer Screening Center by the American College of Radiology, the Lung Cancer Alliance and a Community Hospital of Excellence by the GO2 Foundation. Along with that, MemorialCare Orange Coast staked its claim to being one of the region’s innovators in minimally invasive surgical treatments. It is home to Orange County’s only CyberKnife radio surgery system, a process that literally delivers a surgical strike of radiation to tumors anywhere on the body. — Brian Robin

24451 Health Center Drive, Laguna Hills; 949-837-4500; memorialcare.org/saddleback Along with 248 beds, the sister hospital to the Fountain Valley MemorialCare offers access to many of the same features: that includes the Heart & Vascular Institute, the Cancer Institute, the Joint Replacement Center and the MemorialCare Breast Center. MemorialCare Saddleback stands out for its excellence in women’s health services. Its Women’s Hospital at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center introduced the first LaborDelivery-Recovery-Postpartum suites in California. The center also includes an advanced neonatal intensive care unit with an onsite neonatologist available 24/7 to handle problematic deliveries. The hospital is also home to the Neuroscience Institute, which treats strokes and other neurological conditions, spine health, rehabilitation and fall prevention and balance.

3. Hoag Hospital Newport Beach and Irvine; 949-764-4624; hoag.org

One of the largest acute care hospitals in Orange County, Hoag is one of the county’s top employers, boasting 5,500 employees. The threefacility hospital network provides 597 beds, spread across its main center in Newport Beach (443), its Irvine satellite (84) and the Hoag Orthopedic Institute (70). Its employees include a network of more than 1,500 physicians covering 52 different specialties. Hoag specializes in five areas: cancer treatment, heart & vascular, neuroscience, women’s health and orthopedics. Through a partnership with USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Hoag Family Cancer Center brings new treatments and research to treating the disease. Hoag’s Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute is nationally and internationally accredited, with its thoracic surgeons recognized by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons as being among the top 10% in terms of quality cardiac surgery.


For all stages of life, big or small, we’re here. MemorialCare has once again been recognized as the “Best of Orange County” in 2020. This honor has not only brought recognition to our health centers and hospitals, but also to our physicians and staff members whose unwavering dedication to our community shines brighter than ever. This year has been like no other and, amid all of this, we’re here to safeguard you with confidence. We are ever-focused on a healthy present and future. Thank you, again, for choosing MemorialCare to provide Orange County with simply better care.

Learn more about our services. memorialcare.org Orange Coast Medical Center | MemorialCare Medical Group | Saddleback Medical Center

THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 35


» BEST

MEDICAL GROUP

JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Edinger Medical Group was named the best medical group by Orange County Register readers.

1. Edinger Medical Group Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach; 714-965-2500; edingermedicalgroup.com

Back when Edinger Medical Group counted pediatricians among its staff, one of them chronicled treating five generations of patients from one family. Even though this Fountain Valley medical group now handles only family practice and internal medicine, the generational staying power among patients keeps Edinger Medical Group atop its peers. For the past 18 years, Edinger has placed in the top 10th percentile among California’s medical groups, according to the Integrated Health Association, an HMO watchdog association that measure HMO standards of care. Edinger is also the health care option for Orange County’s Boeing employees and must meet strict benchmarks to keep that contract, according to Director of Marketing Lara McKenna. “They tell medical groups your patients should be followed if they have a high BMI (body mass index) or if they have high blood pressure or if they have depression. They have benchmarks that state how you have to care for patients. We’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations,” McKenna said. That’s where Edinger’s eight physicians, four nurse practitioners and 60 support staff stand out. They are big on following up with patients suffering from those chronic conditions, a trait McKenna says comes not only from the rapport doctors form with their patients, but from Edinger’s relatively small size. Edinger even drew strong reviews for how it handled the COVID-19 pandemic. It went to a 50/50 system, where 50% of the patients are seen in the office and 50% via phone or video. — Brian Robin 36 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

2. MemorialCare Medical Group

3. Hoag Medical Group

One of the most prolific health care providers in Orange County, MemorialCare Medical Group brings the medical power of more than 200 physicians to bear across the physiological spectrum. MemorialCare physicians handle internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, pulmonology, gastroenterology, neurology, sleep medicine and even acupuncture. One of 15 MemorialCare centers around Orange County, the Irvine center features 14 physicians, covering internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, orthopedic surgery, neurology and pulmonary/sleep medicine. Those physicians are the heart of a center that also offers what it calls an ACTIVE Diabetes program two days a week. That integrated program employs a team approach that turns a patient’s primary care physician, pharmacist, registered dietitian, social worker and a medical assistant loose on their condition to help a diabetic patient reach achievable health goals.

Hoag Medical Group brings the medical expertise for which Hoag Hospital is known to 30 locations around south and central Orange County. All Hoag Medical Group offices offer same-day appointments and each location features doctors specializing in various disciplines, from family practice to internal medicine to pediatrics. That network also provides access to Hoag’s nearby health centers, which provide imaging services, urgent care, mammography screening, ultrasounds, X-rays, physical therapy and pediatric care. Those doctors have access to Hoag’s specialists in fields such as geriatrics, rheumatology, allergy and immunology, endocrinology, sports medicine, HIV medicine and diabetes. Hoag physicians also write about topics such as adolescent medicine, Medicare issues, headaches, eating right during the holidays and even the safety of chicken pox parties. A care management team handles patients’ needs regarding continuity of care and other logistical issues.

Multiple locations; 800-6366742; memorialcare.org

Multiple locations; hoagmedicalgroup.com


» BEST

PET CLINIC/VETERINARY HOSPITAL

1. Alicia Pet Care Center

25800 Jeronimo Road, Suite 100, Mission Viejo; 949-768-1313; mypetsdr.com Acupuncture — yes, acupuncture — for Alfie or laproscopic surgery for Leo. Concierge service for Charlie, dental work for Daisy or boarding Brutus. Alicia Pet Care Center provides all of these services — and many that other clinics can’t or won’t provide. Tim Wheaton, the office manager and younger brother of clinic owner Dr. Matthew Wheaton — who bought Alicia Pet Care in 2000 — said Alicia Pet Care is founded on four pillars: patient care, client service, hospital efficiency and employee happiness. For patient care, Alicia Pet Care’s seven vets provide the usual small-animal services, such as shots, spaying, grooming, pet dentistry, surgery and preventative care. But Alicia Pet Care goes beyond the basics. Three of the staff’s vets perform acupuncture, which helps dogs and cats with everything from pain relief to gastrointestinal issues to epilepsy. The clinic prides itself in its laproscopic surgery abilities, which Tim Wheaton said

PAUL BERSEBACH, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Kennel Attendant Bobbi Cadena trims the nails on a dog at the Alicia Pet Care Center in Mission Viejo, voted the best pet clinic/veterinary hospital. only 10% of veterinary hospitals perform. “Every one of our doctors does laproscopic surgery. That’s another big thing that sets us apart,” Tim Wheaton said. “We also have six registered veterinary technicians on staff. Other hospitals struggle to get one. It’s not an easy class to get through.” Alicia Pet Care features

2. Friendly Animal Hospital

6832 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach; 714-784-0680; friendlyah.com ing your pet safe during This two-vet animal the holidays to keeping clinic provides all of the your pet cool in the heat. services you expect from The information answers a full-service veterinarplenty of pressing quesian hospital. Drs. Rick tions all pet owners have Kohltfarber and Long at one point, including Tran perform dental care, the myriad of benefits in spay and neuter surgery, spaying or neutering your vaccinations, preventative pet. In addition, Friendly exams, orthopedic surgery, Animal Hospital makes pet ultrasound and digital dermatology a key to its radiography, emergency practice. treatment and grooming. Another service it offers Friendly Animal Hospiis radiosurgery, which the tal, however, goes deeper doctors say goes beyond into diagnosing what’s typical laser surgery in wrong with your pet. It terms of reducing bleeding offers a blog informing you and recovery time. on everything from keep-

three state-of-the-art operating rooms for those surgeries and surgeries are available by appointment until 7 p.m. One of the clinic’s surgeons is board-certified, meaning he has to complete a three-year residency, produce published research and meet specific training and caseload requirements. Alicia Pet Care’s vets

also provide behavioral counseling for troublesome pets, along with referrals to trainers and veterinary behavioral specialists for more challenging cases. Along with a complete pharmacy, the clinic has a concierge service that delivers food and medication to patients’ homes. — Brian Robin

3. San Juan Animal Hospital

32391 San Juan Creek Road, San Juan Capistrano; 949-493-1147; sjah.com and other measures of care Now under the direcand service. tion of Dr. Randall BonBondurant’s smorgasbord durant, who founded a of services run the gamut of multiple-doctor practice in pet care: complete physical Atlanta before moving to exams, onsite labs, enhanced California in 2011, 55-yearX-rays, low-risk vaccines, old San Juan Animal Hosfull-service dental care, laser pital is one of two Orange surgery, cardiology, a full County veterinary clinics pharmacy, allergy treatment, to own more than 25 years of continuous American An- internal medicine, fertility and pregnancy assistance, imal Hospital Association emergency services and membership. pet urgent care, behavioral The AAHA limits membership to small animal and dermatology issues and hospitals that maintain boarding care. strict standards in patient In addition, he has a full care, client service, diagRolodex of specialists on nostic tests, facility upkeep call for referrals. THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 37


» BEST

PLACE TO BUY CBD PRODUCTS 2. People’s OC

2721 S. Grand Ave., Santa Ana; 714-582-3446; peoplescali.com Here you have a licensed dispensary that is one of the largest in the state. One that runs every item through a state-licensed laboratory, bringing those items to you with something called a Certificate of Analysis. But make no mistake. People’s OC brings a proletarian approach to selling CBD and cannabis products that seems more natural in Humboldt than in Santa Ana. People’s OC plays host to monthly Cannabis Farmers Markets, publishes a newsletter — the People’s California Newsletter — and stresses a social atmosphere in its marketing efforts. One blog on its webpage explains “How To Celebrate Pride During a Pandemic: Cannabis Edition.” As for products, People’s OC offers 84 different CBD items: buds, tinctures, edibles, topicals, extracts, vapes and prerolls. Each item breaks down its percentage of CBD and/or THC (if applicable), allowing customers a sense of how much psychoactive punch an item packs.

FILE PHOTO BY KEVIN SULLIVAN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Customers shop inside the 420 Central dispensary in Santa Ana in 2018. The store was voted Orange County’s best place to buy CBD products.

1. 420 Central

420 Central Ave., Santa Ana; 714-965-4420; 420central.org Tinctures. Capsules. Balms. Oils. Patches. Gel pens. Vape cartridges. Even drinks, sour raspberry, peach or watermelon gummies and dark chocolate bars. Who knew there were so many ways to ingest, apply or inject CBD? And this Santa Ana emporium has seemingly every type of CBD dispenser and product at your disposal. First things first. CBD is short for cannabidiol. It’s a chemical compound extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant, better known as marijuana. Yet, CBD lacks the psychoactive compound THC, the element that gets you “high.” CBD typically is used as a relaxant or pain reliever and one medication — Epidiolex — is FDA-approved for epilepsy treatment. You can’t find that at 420 Central, 38 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

but you will find 118 different CBD products, along with knowledgeable budtenders and associates who possess a Gray’s Anatomy-meets-Wine Spectator depth and breadth of knowledge about CBD and its uses. It carries the popular Papa & Barkley products in numerous forms: patches, balms and capsules, and stocks only products that are lab-tested. The dispensary understands its clientele and makes customer service a priority. Aside from delivery service, 420 Central offers daily specials such as “Sour Diesel Sunday,” “Munchie Monday” and “Wellness Wednesday,” along with loyalty and referral programs. 420 Central caters heavily to medical users, offering discounts, educational programs and other benefits. — Brian Robin

3. South Coast Safe Access

1900 Warner Ave., Unit A, Santa Ana; 949-474-7272; southcoastsafeaccess.com Opened in August 2015, South Coast Safe Access was Orange County’s first legal medical marijuana dispensary. It plunged into the nascent market with the mindset of building relationships with its patients and learning from them as much as they learned from the knowledgeable staff. The store’s staff members combine a chemist’s mindset toward their products with your favorite science teacher’s mindset toward explaining what they are. The lab-tested dispensary carries most of the usual CBD items: edibles, tinctures, oils, patches, capsules, flowers, etc. along with accessories. SCSA even carries Bailey’s CBD Dog Treats for your pooch. It also features a blog on its website dedicated to explaining what benefits CBD can — and cannot — provide, pointing out that CBD is not a magical cure for everything. But users do swear by its anxiety-reducing benefits.


THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 39


» BEST

PLACE TO GET A GRAB-AND-GO MEAL

COURTESY OF MESS HALL MARKET

Mess Hall Market in Tustin was voted the top place to get a grab-and-go meal. Here, a signature burger from Vaka Burger.

1. Mess Hall Market

1705 Flight Way, Tustin; flight-tustin.com FLIGHT in Tustin is known for its one-of-a-kind office park. The amenities of FLIGHT include the newly constructed but already noteworthy Mess Hall Market. There are plenty of options for every palate, including Fowl Play, Slap-

fish, and The Little Greek. Foodies from the business park itself can grab a quick bite then head back to work while food enthusiasts can pick up something tasty and fast. Looking for an impromptu happy hour? No problem,

2. The Point Restaurant & Bar 34085 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point; 949-464-5700; thepointrestaurantandbar.com The Point is much more than a place to get a great nosh, it is amazing American cuisine with a Filipino flair. Watch sports teams battle it out on their large flat-screen televisions or two extra large flat-screens that are located on their pet-friendly patio. There is even a kids Cave play area and kids menu for picky eaters. The Point even offers brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to

2 p.m. The big selling point though is its $11.99 lunch deal, which includes The Point Burger, clam chowder and salad, or a brick oven pizza of choice. Each meal includes a drink as well. Grab a tasty burger and head to the nearby Dana Point Harbor where you can watch the boats sail by, go for a walk with a four-legged friend or host a picnic at one of the many outdoor tables.

40 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

as The Mess Hall boasts The Bar @ FLIGHT where freshly crafted drinks can be sipped a short walk from employees’ desks. Grab a drink with a co-worker, hold a meeting with a boss, or get some friends together for a much needed round of drinks. Savor a fresh cup of coffee to start the day at The Lost Bean, nosh on a light sandwich for lunch at

The Sandwich Society, then indulge on an authentic Mexican dish at Anepalco or sink your teeth into a thick juicy burger at Vaka Burger. The Mess Hall is also located close to walking areas, so after a delicious meal, diners can burn off the extra calories by lacing up some sneakers and getting a sweat outdoors. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Burntzilla

14413 Culver Drive, Irvine; 949-392-5995; burntzilla.com It’s widely known that Burntzilla started out as a food truck that visited many cities in Orange County. However, this awesome location is the brainchild of the Dogzilla and Burnt trucks. The Burnt trucks’ take on classic comfort foods met the Dogzilla fun twist on the all-American hot dog, and created Burntzilla in Irvine. Of course, food trucks are known for their grab-and-go nature and Burntzilla offers the same convenience as its

made-from-scratch food comes out quickly without skimping on the flavor. The menu is small but mighty and boasts a cheeseburger, buffalo chicken sandwich, fried mozzarella, a Dogzilla hotdog, a street dog, and loaded French fries or tater tots. Bringing the family? Try the Golden Combo, which allows guests to choose two sliders or “zillas,” a side, and a regular sized soda, or the Family Platter, which offers 10 “zillas” and a tray of tater tots and fries.


» BEST

SHOPPING/DINING DESTINATION

MARK RIGHTMIRE, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Shoppers wear masks as they make their way through the reopened South Coast Plaza shopping center in Costa Mesa.

1. South Coast Plaza

3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa; 800-782-8888; southcoastplaza.com This shopping center offers everything from high-end shops to quirky, low-priced options. Located a few blocks away from the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, South Coast Plaza is the perfect place to kill some time or grab a bite before a big performance. This global shopping destination offers 250 stores and boutiques, critically acclaimed restaurants, and much more. The dining options are expansive with more than 30 eateries that encompass fine dining, casual fare and quick bites. Some high-end options include AnQi By House of An, which offers Asian fusion delicacies, The Capital Grille which has prime cuts of steak, Seasons 52 which is a seasonally-inspired grill and wine bar, and Vaca which offers the flavors of Madrid. Hoping not to break the bank? Head over to Boudin SF for soup in a sour dough bread bowl, Champagne French Bakery Café for a charming dessert, or Ruby’s Diner for a family-friendly food fest. Shopping is also an exciting venture at South Coast Plaza as there are stores for all ages. Bring the young ones to Abercrombie Kids, get an eclectic gift from Anthropologie, or grab a high-end handbag from Coach all in the same shopping trip. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

2. Irvine Spectrum Center 670 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine; 949-790-4871; irvinespectrumcenter.com

The Irvine Spectrum Center attracts 18 million visitors annually, according to the Irvine Co., which is almost as many people as pass through the gates of Disneyland in a normal year. With the amount of stores, eateries and entertainment available at one location it’s easy to see what draws the throngs. The Spectrum offers fun for the whole family as the giant Ferris wheel, carousel and Regal movie theater welcome kids of all ages. Adults can get a great laugh at the Irvine Improv after enjoying a fresh drink and burger at Umami Burger or play a large assortment of video games with a drink in hand at Dave and Buster’s. Bring the kids to family-friendly dining locations such as California Pizza Kitchen, The Cheesecake Factory, or Wood Ranch. Experience a happy hour filled with more than 200 taps of beer at Yardhouse while watching a live game or take a trip to Cuba by getting a cocktail in a coconut at Habana. There are also shops devoted to women’s apparel, menswear, beauty, fitness, and accessory stores as well. Don’t forget to get a quality workout at the 24 Hour Fitness on site, too.

3. Fashion Island 401 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach; fashionisland.com

Whether you are looking for a quick bite, to spend the day shopping or take in a movie, Fashion Island has it all. For starters, Fashion Island has its own Whole Foods market where shoppers can load up on fresh goodies. Head down to the lower level to eat at the food court, which offers everything from Wahoo’s to Five Guys, with Gelato Paradiso for dessert. Looking for an actual sit down meal? Drop by Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, or Red O Restaurant. Watch a movie at The Lot, a luxury movie theater complete with a gourmet meal and cocktails. The outdoor mall also has a wide range of shopping options, including the trendy Alex and Ani, the techy Apple Store, and the comfortable Barnes & Noble. Don’t forget to visit the Koi pond — it’s a crowd favorite. You can also bring along a four-legged friend, as dogs are welcome to walk the grounds. THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 41


» BEST

THRIFT STORE

1. Goodwill of Orange County Multiple locations; ocgoodwill.org The motto of Goodwill of Orange County is “We believe in the power of working together,” and that means working with those looking for some quality secondhand goods. The charity joins hands with employers, government agencies, fellow nonprofits, business leaders, donors and more to collect the items sold in more than 20 stores throughout Orange County. Its goal is to empower, serve and change as many lives as possible. Whether shoppers are having a hard time landing a job and need a little extra help or want a vintage find, the Goodwill of Orange County has something for all. Did you know that Goodwill of Orange County also provides communication, technology, education, training, and employment services to those facing barriers or disabilities within the community? Go to its website to find helpful reading about some of

MARK RIGHTMIRE, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The Goodwill Store & Donation Center on North Tustin Avenue in Orange is one of more than 20 outlets the organization operates in Orange County. the obstacles that stand in the way of gaining and keeping employment, how to overcome disability barriers, work adjustment, and more.

2. Salvation Army Family Stores Multiple locations; orangecounty.salvationarmy.org The Salvation Army assists more than 23 million Americans annually and works in more than 130 countries around the globe. Since 1865, The Salvation army has met human needs without discrimination and currently has more than 1.5 million members consisting of soldiers, officers and more. The Salvation Army’s stated mission is “to holistically aid low-income families and individuals by meeting basic needs, providing financial, emotional and spiritual support and case management services.” However,

this doesn’t mean that those looking for bargain secondhand goods aren’t welcome. The Salvation Army invites all people from all walks of life to find goods at an affordable price. The Salvation Army also has a number of initiatives to help the community, including homeless outreach and shelter programs, anti-trafficking services, adult rehabilitation, emergency disaster relief and more. Members of the community are also welcome to volunteer their time as well as their goods to help others in need in Orange County.

42 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

It’s just as easy to donate as it is to shop. There are many drop-off locations throughout Orange County where people looking to give back to the community

can drop off their used goods. Goodwill of Orange County has served more than 27,000 people through its programs. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Savers

Fountain Valley, Yorba Linda; savers.com Savers is a for-profit store that specializes in gently used clothing, accessories, and household goods. Its business model, called Rethink Reuse, consists of purchasing, reselling and recycling, which keeps more than 700 million pounds of used goods from going to landfills every year. The chain also buys used goods from more than 100 nonprofit organizations, has more than 300 locations nationally and employs more than 21,000 people.

Community members are also encouraged to donate to Savers to help those in need throughout Orange County. Not only does Savers help the community by providing affordable used goods, it also provides shopping tips on its website for those looking to compose an ensemble, hunt for the best bargains or find the best brand labels from used goods. Savers is also a proud sponsor of Eco Fashion Week, so you can find some of their looks on the runway.


Online Math Classes NOW ENROLLING

Thrift & Gift Shop sales are the major source of funding for our philanthropic programs like Operation School Bell® - creating stronger families in our community by providing clothing, shoes, backpacks, school supplies and grade-appropriate books to students enrolled in the Irvine Unified School District.

We welcome your tax-deductible donations

The Russian School of Mathematics is an award-winning, afterschool math enrichment program for K-12 students; we help children of all levels build a solid math foundation and develop critical-thinking and problem solving skills. Starting in September, all courses are taught in a live, interactive, virtual classroom setting.

RSM is “among the top 10 schools in the world.” -Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth

Schedule a FREE Math Evaluation!

Math Classes Now Enrolling!

Assistance League of Irvine Thrift & Gift Shop

2452 Alton Parkway, Irvine 92606 Currently Not Open Please Check Our Website www.alirvine.org for Updates

www.RussianSchool.com (949) 864-6592

THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 43


» BEST

TUTORING SERVICE 2. Strive to Learn 474 E. 17th St., Suite 103, Costa Mesa; 949-873-6807; strivetolearn.com

Founder Josefine Borrmann built Strive to Learn with a holistic approach that in a perfect world, “we seek to put ourselves out of a job,” as her website states. Yes, her all-encompassing approach specializes in test prep for the SAT, ACT and GRE and college admissions counseling. Yes, Strive to Learn offers subject tutoring in math, English, science, social studies, three foreign languages (German, Spanish, Japanese) and AP and IB. Its English tutoring offers not only grammar, but essay and speech writing. But Borrmann and her seven specialized tutors approach their individual disciplines with the concept that the journey — not the destination — is the end goal. They want students to develop curiosity and a love of the process. Strive to Learn offers online tutoring, virtual summer camps that include classes in robotics, video game coding and cartoon animation. MARK RIGHTMIRE, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Tutoring service, Kumon, was named one of the top tutoring services in Orange County by Register readers.

1. Kumon

Multiple locations; 855-306-6827; kumon.com The term “old-school” truly applies to this franchise tutor. Not only through the now-famous 60-plus year-old process of reducing lessons to accessible, bite-sized portions, but through the use of the same style of worksheets Gen X parents used when they were in school. The 20 Orange County locations, which stretch from Fullerton to Mission Viejo, employ the methods of Toru Kumon, who built his son’s knowledge foundation through short, accessible assignments. That not only reinforced the lessons being taught, but built confidence along the way because each concept had to be mastered before progressing to the next one. The process begins with Kumon enrollees taking a placement test to assess where they are. From there, Kumon tutors create an individualized lesson plan that takes 44 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

the student through the first six months of Kumon tutoring. Students progress at their own pace and the program claims to build good study habits and reduce test anxiety along the way. The company’s website says the process not only reinforces math and reading skills — Kumon’s foundation — but helps children develop critical thinking skills across the board. Both Kumon’s math program and reading program are age-accessible, starting with kids as young as 3 — who learn to count — and running through high school students — who learn algebra, trigonometry and calculus. Reading lessons take kids from phonics to Poe, building reading comprehension along the way. Kumon sells individual franchises to franchisees, the information for which is on its website. — Brian Robin

3. Stowell Learning Center

1150 Main St. Suite C, Irvine; 949-477-4133; , stowellcenter.com While many tutoring centers focus on pushing already high-achieving students to the next level or helping with test prep or college admissions, Stowell Learning Center built a successful and necessary niche helping children with dyslexia, learning challenges or learning disabilities. Jill Stowell’s approach and the approach used by her 35 tutors across her four centers: Irvine, Chino, Pasadena and Thousand Oaks, is the same across the board. First: identify the weak link in a student’s learning skills and develop a comprehensive “therapy” — Stowell’s term — that allows the student to channel different skills in how they process information. Stowell tutors devise a personalized learning program that addresses the specific learning challenge. The multisensory programs include attention focus and integration, sound and listening therapies and executive function training designed to address higher-level thinking and behavior.


» BEST

WINE SELECTION

PAUL BERSEBACH, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Manager Mario Mendoza stocks wine at BevMo! at 15315 Culver Drive in Irvine.

1. BevMo

Multiple locations; 877-772-3866; bevmo.com BevMo lives by the philosophy that “shopping for beverages should be as much fun as drinking them.” Shoppers can easily become members by filling out a simple form and collecting their Club Bev card. This card can also be found

by phone number when checking out at the register, and enables the shopper to save on their purchases. The bargain for which BevMo is best known is its 5-cent wine deal, with which customers can purchase a specially marked bottle

2. Total Wine & More

Multiple locations; 855-328-9463; totalwine.com Total Wine & More is known for its selection. Shoppers can easily find the region of their favorite bottles of wine and beer then purchase with some of the best prices around. The chain opened its first store in Delaware in 1991 and has since grown to more than 200 stores in 25 states, making it the largest independent retailer of wine, beer, and spirits. A typical Total Wine & More store offers more than 2,500 types

of beer ranging from microbrews to imports and more than 3,000 spirits in every style, price range, and flavor. The stores also offer wine tastings, classes and events. Total Wine & More is known for its low prices, as many competitors constantly price match to keep up. Shoppers can find everything from their favorite brand names to more obscure items, along with quirky accessories to complete any party.

of wine and get a second one for only 5 cents. There are also times when the store offers case sales, which means shoppers can purchase 12 bottles with six of them costing only 5 cents each and then receive an additional 10% off the case’s price on top of that. BevMo also offers signature brand wines and liquor that rival the taste of popular brands

for a fraction of the cost. Don’t forget to drop in for the store’s fun weekly wine tastings. For 5 cents, shoppers can taste a variety of preselected wines, beer, and soda and stay as long as they would like. The store boasts a wine expert to recommend vintages and share tips on selecting the perfect bottle. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Hi-Time Wine Cellars

250 Ogle St., Costa Mesa; 949-650- 8463; hitimewine.net Hi-Time Wine Cellars is a family-owned store that opened its doors in 1957 and has been welcoming the community in hoards ever since. On any given day, you can find three generations from the original founding family working at the store as well as staff members who have been part of the company for over 20 years. The 3,000-square-foot, underground, temperaturecontrolled wine cellar boasts more than 10,000 different bottles of wine for shoppers to enjoy as

well as over 1,200 different beers from over 25 different countries. The store also offers over 500 different kinds of cigars, and gourmet foods including specialty chocolates, cheeses, and charcuterie, truly making this a one-stop shop. The store’s owners say John Wayne was a frequent customer at the store’s original location. Other celebrities who have shopped there include NBA stars Kobe Bryant and Bill Walton and comedians Dan Aykroyd and Cheech Marin.

THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 45


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LUXURY LIFESTYLE » Charitable Organization » Cosmetic Surgeon » Day Spa » Jeweler/Jewelry Store » OC Resort » Waterfront Dining » Wealth Adviser

JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

XX THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020


» BEST

CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION

1. OneOC

1901 E 4th St., #100, Santa Ana; 714-953-5757; oneoc.org OneOC was founded originally in 1958 as the Newport Bureau of Volunteerism, which was the first community service project of the Junior League of Orange County. The organization kept its name until it was rebranded in 2010 as OneOC. In 2015, the OneOC Center for Business and Community Partnerships came to be with the hopes of assisting companies in building employee volunteerism and charitable giving programs to help more nonprofits gain a greater impact within the community. Today, OneOC follows its three-year road map to provide opportunities to those in need. The mission of OneOC is simple: the company wants to accelerate nonprofit success within the Orange County community. OneOC provides solutions and support services to nonprofits to help them reach their own individual goals. As for volunteer opportunities, there is a plethora to

ANA VENEGAS, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Volunteers pack boxes of food in observance of the Martin Luther King holiday. The event was organized by OneOC. choose from. Join the Disaster Response Cadre, which is a program that supports emergency response officials following a disaster situation. Community members can also put their hands up to volunteer for Days of Service. There are

2. Goodwill of Orange County Multiple locations; ocgoodwill.org Looking to help the community by donating some secondhand goods? Come to one of the Goodwill of Orange County locations which have some of the best gently used goods. The Goodwill of Orange County works together with employers, government agencies, fellow nonprofits, business leaders and donors to bring goods to those in need. Goodwill helps people facing barriers in finding and keeping jobs and provides goods to those who need a little extra help. The charity also provides communication, technology,

education, training, and employment to people with disabilities and those struggling to find or keep a job. Goodwill of Orange County also has reading materials available on the Goodwill website for those struggling to work that could help them land a job. There is material for young adults, job coaching, work adjustment, interview skills, and more. Donating is a breeze as there are dropoff locations throughout the county. This charitable organization has served more than 27,000 people throughout the county over the years.

48 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

four national volunteer days including Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Earth Day, 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance, and the Season of Giving during the holidays where volunteers can help the community. Take part in the Community Cup that

brings together over 1,000 people to participate in fun, athletic events. Additionally, there are many other opportunities available to sign up for, which are described on their website. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. United Way of Orange County 18012 Mitchell South, Irvine; 949-660-7600; unitedwayoc.org United Way of Orange County has a few goals in mind when it comes to philanthropy. Education is part of the program as the company strives to create programs that ensure that kids graduate and are prepared to take on a job. United Way also looks to end the cycle of generational poverty by providing money management tools, financial coaching, and giving access to social service resources. Health is also at the forefront as the agency improves the standards of health for children and

their families. The last goal is to reduce homelessness in Orange County by assisting families in finding permanent housing. In fact, there is a separate website linked to the main site dedicated to fighting and conquering homelessness. Volunteers can donate their money or time to help those in need throughout the county. Volunteering time could mean anything from a school supply drive, working as a virtual reading tutor, taking part in physical fitness days or assembling food and daily household care packages.


Best Cosmetic Surgeon THANK YOU ORANGE COUNTY!

Specializing in Face and Neck Lifts under Local Anesthesia • Face Lift • Neck Lift • Mini Lift • Upper Eyelid Lift • Lower Eyelid Lift • Brow Lift • Chin Liposuction

• Chin Implants • Buccal (Cheek) Fat Removal • Earlobe Repair • Laser Resurfacing • Fillers • Dysport • Botox

180 Newport Center Drive, Suite 160. Newport Beach, California www.newportfaces.com Dr. Stephen H. Fink

Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon

(949) 566-1032

THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 49


» BEST

COSMETIC SURGEON 2. Dr. Jeffrey Joseph 180 Newport Center Dr. #158, Newport Beach; 949-424-3524; ococuloplastic.com

Dr. Jeffrey Joseph is a member of a limited group of board certified ophthalmologists. Dr. Joseph is a native to Southern California but got his medical credentials at Boston University School of Medicine. He also has additional subspecialty training in reconstructive surgery and oculofacial plastic. His main focus is the reconstructive surgery of the eyelids, the lacrimal or tear drainage damage, the eye socket, and surrounding facial structures. The procedures Dr. Joseph offers include upper and lower eyelid blepharoplasty, which essentially makes eyes look more rested and vibrant. He will also do brow lifts, eyelid crease surgery, which is also known as an Asian blepharoplasty and creates a natural and symmetrical eyelid crease, and he also treats those with Graves Disease. Joseph also provides minimally invasive procedures such as Botox, eyelash enhancement and cosmetic ptosis repair.

JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Dr. Stephen H. Fink outside his office in Newport Beach. Fink was voted best cosmetic surgeon by Register readers.

1. Dr. Stephen H. Fink

1401 Avocado Ave., Suite 100, Newport Beach; 949-566-1032; newportfaces.com Dr. Stephen Fink grew up in a family dedicated to medicine. His father was a plastic surgeon and his mother was a registered nurse. He became passionate about plastic surgery when he would go on mission trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic to assist his father on various plastic surgery procedures. Dr. Fink wasn’t the only one influenced by his parent’s endeavor; his brother also took on a profession in the medical field as well. After 10 years of operating a solo practice, Dr. Fink — who received his medical degree from the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine — relocated to Southern California with his wife to perform face-lifts and other facial 50 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

rejuvenation procedures. As for his list of procedures, Dr. Fink places his focus on the face, neck, eyes, and skin. The Newport Faces Lift is one of the most popular procedures as it uses advanced laser technology. It is a procedure that is customized to every patient and it improves jowling, neck laxity, and wrinkles in a less invasive manner. Other procedures offered include Botox injections, chin implants, earlobe repair, and fat transfer to name a few. As for skin, there is scar revision, sun damage removal, and chemical peels available for those looking to rejuvenate their skin among many other procedures. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Dr. Kevin Sadati 359 San Miguel Dr. #110, Newport Beach; 949-706-7776; galleryofcosmeticsurgery.com

Dr. Kevin Sadati boasts more than 15 years of experience in performing reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. He is also a diplomat of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery and a member of the American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. He has been voted as best cosmetic surgeon in Orange County five years in a row. One of the procedures Dr. Sadati is known for is his Natural Facelift. The procedure is perfect for men and women in their late 40s to 70s, and will give patients a more youthful appearance along with the confidence they deserve. Dr. Sadati believes in enhancing every patient’s natural beauty, yielding results that are never artificial looking or overdone. Some facial concerns he addresses are acne treatment, excess chin fat, facial asymmetry, fine lines and wrinkles, and thin lips.


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@FACOrangeCounty THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 51


» BEST

DAY SPA

1. La Vita Salon & Spa

2721 East Coast Hwy #110, Corona Del Mar; 949-723-0406; lavitasalonspa.com La Vita Salon & Spa is the perfect sanctuary for those who love a little privacy with their pampering. The founder of La Vita Salon & Spa is Mariella Hoss, who is a hair stylist to the stars with more than 30 years of experience who was trained at the London College of Fashion. Her mission is to “provide guests with a customized, exclusive, and luxurious experience that caters to the mind, body, and soul.” She also prides herself on hiring a small, yet friendly team of experts to make every guest’s experience at La Vita Salon & Spa the perfect escape. Hoss says she was born with curly and frizzy hair and taming her own mane helped her become the hair stylist she is today. Guests will happily find that her hair straightening services are second to none and one of the most relaxing options to choose at her spa. There are also skincare and healing options as well

PAUL BERSEBACH, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

La Vita Salon & Spa in Corona Del Mar was voted the best day spa in the Register’s Best of Orange County contest. as organic nail care as well. Guests are also encouraged to get a massage on their arms, shoulders, scalp, lower legs, and feet. Get some seasonal masques, foot soaks, and indulge

2. Burke Williams Day Spa Mission Viejo, Orange; burkewilliams.com Said to be the original day spa, Burke Williams is a European-inspired spa that has a little something for everyone. Guests are encouraged to unwind and find their chi while they take part in one of Burke Williams’ many treatments. Theresa and Bill Armour opened the spa chain in 1984 with the vision of bringing the luxury experience of a world-class spa to a more urban setting. The list of options at Burke Williams is seemingly endless, including everything from

blissful massages to med spa treatments. Get a deep tissue and sports massage, a shiatsu massage, or a pure relaxation massage to name a few. There is also nail care available as guests are invited to get a five-star manicure or pedicure. Facials and skin care are also on the menu as guests can get a nourishing, radiant, or regenerative facial to name only a couple of options. The spa also offers memberships so guests can take part in the relaxation and rejuvenation every month.

52 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

in some luxurious body butters. There are also workshops available for those who love holistic living, Ayurveda therapies, and yoga. La Vita Salon & Spa is

also available for event bookings for bachelorette and wedding parties, girls nights, prom prep, or small corporate events. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Spa Gregorie’s

Newport Beach, Rancho Santa Margarita; spagregories.com Spa Gregorie’s is no new-comer to creating one of the best spa experiences in Orange County. Whether guests are looking to release some stress from the rigors of daily life, replenish their mind, body, and soul, or are just looking for a small escape, Spa Gregorie’s has something special to offer everyone. Indulge in a relaxing massage including the S-T-R-ET-C-H massage, which is a full body massage that can aid in deeper sleep while improving range of motion and mental clarity. Swedish

and sports massages are also available for those who really like a masseuse to work deep into their tissue. There are packages to try if a guest is bringing along a partner, friend or family member such as the Spa Date for Two package. If guests really want to unwind, they can get the Gregorie’s Petit Escape, which boasts five fabulous treatments including 30-minute hydrotherapy, a signature custom facial, manicure, pedicure, and a healthy lunch, making for one amazingly relaxing day.


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» BEST

JEWELER / JEWELRY STORE

1. Happy Jewelers

1475 S. Harbor Blvd., Unit B4, Fullerton; 714-992-0454; happyjewelers.com Owned by Gabe and Danny Arik, Happy Jewelers in Fullerton really makes a statement when it comes to quality jewelry. Their father, Isa, also had a keen eye for design and the finer things, so he got into sourcing and designing fine jewelry, paving the way for the brothers to start their own jewelry business. The brothers emigrated from their homeland of Turkey with big dreams. Today the brothers believe in choosing only the highest quality diamonds, gemstones, and gold to create and craft their jewelry. Over the years, the family has opened multiple locations of Happy Jewelers in California, Chicago, and New York, but the Fullerton location is something special to the brothers as well as their customers. The company prides itself on keeping things the same — same values, same quality, and same level of care with every piece of jewelry.

PAUL BERSEBACH,, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Jeweler Armida Green and owner Daniel Arik are with Happy Jewelers in Fullerton. Happy Jewelers also handpicks every stone that is in the store, so customers know each piece has passed through the loving and watchful eyes of the staff before being purchased. The store also has a huge

2. The Jewelry Box of Lake Forest

21771 Lake Forest Drive, #109, Lake Forest; 949-284-7983; thejewelryboxlf.com The Jewelry Box of Lake Forest is not only known for its outstanding service and jewelry, but the store’s owners say customers come in just to visit. The Jewelry Box of Lake Forest sells unique preowned jewelry, meaning customers will find the perfect one-of-a-kind piece whenever they stop in. For those who treasure their jewelry that’s in need of repair, have no fear, The Jewelry Box of Lake Forest rarely ships jewelry off-site

as almost everything is done in-house. The store’s experts will appraise jewelry whether it was purchased at The Jewelry Box or not, and its helpful staff is happy to help every guest find the perfect piece. The jewelry store is also known for its community support as it has generously given to South County Outreach for a number of years — bring in a can of food and you will receive 10 percent off jewelry repair.

54 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

selection of engagement rings, bridal pieces, watches, chains, and more. The company’s helpful website also shows images of some of the pieces in the store, so customers can know what they are looking

to buy without any hassle. Customers can even book appointments for repairs, watch shopping, and engagement ring shopping with a time estimate on the website, too. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Jeweler’s Touch

1215 E Imperial Highway, Placentia; 714- 579-1616; jewelerstouch.com Jeweler’s Touch has graced “best of” lists for a number of years and the company attributes that to the trust it has built with customers over the 28 years it has been in business. There are plenty of services for customers to choose from, but the jewelry store believes people keep coming back time and time again because it always puts the customer first. Jeweler’s Touch has a number of full-time jewelers on staff, which helps the customers feel more

comfortable when handing over their precious gems for repair. It has state-ofthe-art equipment like a 3D printer and the jewelers work with CAD (computer-aided design) as well. All of the custom design work at Jeweler’s Touch is done in-house and customers can view repairs through a 16-foot window. The store also has an expansive diamond selection. Customers are encouraged to custom design their jewelry with the help of a professional, such as a highly trained gemologist.


THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 55


» BEST

OC RESORT

The Resort at Pelican Hill was voted the best OC resort by Register readers.

PHOTO COURTESY OF PELICAN HILL

1. The Resort at Pelican Hill

2. Montage Laguna Beach

3. The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

There is always something to do in Orange County, but at The Resort at Pelican Hill, guests don’t even need to leave the grounds to find something fun to do. There are a wide array of activities to enjoy while staying at The Resort at Pelican Hill. Head over to the spa, which is said to be a “haven within a retreat.” Get a therapeutic massage, a Terra Stone Healing Massage, the Rest + Relax Massage, or, for pregnant guests, a Prenatal Care Massage. Guests are also encouraged to take a fitness class like Abs & Glutes, Aqua Yoga, meditation, or body conditioning. Bring your clubs and play a round at the resort’s picturesque golf course with 36 holes that overlook the Pacific Ocean. Pelican Hill also offers shopping for guests looking to pick up some souvenirs. Head over to Allegra to pick up a fresh SoCal ensemble, or go to the Golf Shop to buy some golf wear and equipment. For dinner, take in a bite of Northern Italy at the renowned restaurant Andrea — the barrel-aged acquerello risotto is to die for. Additionally, dine poolside at the Coliseum Pool and Grill, or experience California coastal cuisine at Pelican Grill. –— Jessie Dax-Setkus

Sitting right on the Pacific coast, The Montage Laguna Beach is the perfect escape for ocean enthusiasts. Not only are the accommodations heavenly, but there’s a wide range of things to do at this luxury resort. There is no such thing as a standard room as each room comes with a marble bathroom featuring a deep soaking tub as well as outstanding views. If you are in need of extra space, get a suite or villa. Enjoy a delightful massage at the Spa Montage or choose from a facial treatment, body treatment, nail therapies, sugaring and waxing services, and more. There are also personal training sessions available for those who want to get their sweat on. The dining options are spectacular too. Savor some modern coastal cuisine with California influence at Studio where there are filling yet healthy options such as smoked Pacific swordfish, seared mero Arctic seabass, and fennel dusted wild king salmon. Take in panoramic views at The Loft, which sits on the fourth floor, or guests can dine poolside at Mosaic Bar and Grille.

The name Ritz-Carlton speaks volumes. There are so many things to see and do that guests don’t even need to venture far to find the perfect SoCal getaway. The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel even hosts a Yappy Hour for guests with four legged friends. Sip a dog-themed cocktail while the pups play on the big lawn and lap up meat-flavored waters. There’s even a spot for the kids as the Ritz Kids has everything from poolside movies to tween manicures and pedicures, and games on the ping-pong table. The spa also has treatments available for those looking to add a little relaxation in their vacation. Get a signature Pacific Wave massage, which includes a beach inspired treatment inducing pure relaxation. Get a bite at Raya, where Richard Sandoval’s Pan-Latin coastal cuisine is prepared with sustainable seafood and local produce, or go to Enosteak for the perfect cut and a great glass of wine to name just a few of the resorts delicious options.

22701 S Pelican Hill Road South, Newport Coast; 855-315-8214; pelicanhill.com

56 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

30801 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach; 866-271-6953; montagehotels.com

One Ritz Carlton Dr., Dana Point; 949-240-2000; ritzcarlton.com


» BEST

WATERFRONT DINING

1. Duke’s Huntington Beach

317 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach; 714-374-6446; dukeshuntington.com Diners can’t come to Duke’s without learning a little bit about who Duke was and his awesome history. Duke Paoa Kahanamoku was born in 1890 in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is a descendent of Hawaiian royalty. He was quite the swimmer as he broke three freestyle records by the time he was 21 and won two Olympic medals at the Stockholm Games in 1912. He was also an avid surfer and was the person who introduced surfing to Australia, New Zealand, and the Atlantic coast of the U.S. It’s only fitting that this beach-side eatery pays homage to him. Being that Huntington Beach is known as “Surf City USA,” it is only fitting that it is the home of Duke’s Huntington Beach nestled right on the beach just feet from the crashing waves. The menu itself is a perfect California coastal take on cuisine and packs quite a punch when it comes to

JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Duke’s Huntington Beach was voted one of the top waterfront dining establishments in Orange County by Register readers. flavor. Start out with some fresh poke tacos, Korean sticky ribs, or crab cakes then prepare for a delightful main plate. The seafood

2. Fly N Fish

2304 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach; 949-673-8400; flynfishoysterbar.com Fly N Fish is located a quick stroll away from the Newport Pier and has some of the most beautiful views around. Fly N Fish is committed to serving the freshest seafood available, offering a fun environment, and friendly service with a smile. Seasonal seafood is delivered to the restaurant daily, so guests know that their meal is of the highest quality. Fly N Fish does business with some of the most prominent seafood purveyors from all around the world, meaning their catches are of the highest

quality. Start the meal off with a small plate like the crispy calamari, shrimp ceviche, or crab cocktail. Oyster lovers rejoice, as there are many options for oysters on the half shell including Pacific oyster shooters and a cold seafood platter for two. Some of the best stickto-your-ribs main plates include miso-glazed wild sea bass, wild Alaskan king crab legs, and cedar planked New Zealand king salmon. Outside of seafood, Fly N Fish has a great grilled chicken breast sandwich and a halfpound grilled sirloin burger.

menu is seasonal so the fish selection changes often. Some plates include fish tacos, a seafood hot pot, or a Furikaka ahi steak. There are also a variety of turf

options to go along with the surf on this menu, including filet mignon, a rib and chicken plate, or a Duke’s classic burger. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Las Brisas

361 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach; 949-497-5434; lasbrisaslagunabeach.com As a premier dining location that literally hugs the coast of Laguna Beach, Las Brisas has a history that stretches back to the Victor Hugo Inn, which was a world-class eatery and celebrity destination that debuted in 1938. In 1979 it was transformed into the Las Brisas we know today. For those wanting to host a classy event, Las Brisas boasts fabulous views as well as delicious meals. For those just looking for a little piece of paradise, the restaurant offers live music while guests are dining on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fri-

days, and Saturdays from 6 to 9 p.m. and on Sundays from 12 to 3 p.m. Don’t forget to drop by for the weekend brunch served on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. There are bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys for those of age. As for the regular menu, try a fresh treat from the raw bar like tuna poke, yellowtail sashimi, or seafood cocktail. Guests can choose to indulge on main plates such as butter-poached lobster, steak and lobster enchiladas and maitake mushroom tamales.

THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 57


» BEST

WEALTH ADVISER

MINDY SCHAUER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Fidelity Investments was named one of the top wealth adviser services in Orange County by Register readers.

1. Fidelity Investments Multiple locations; fidelity.com Fidelity Investments is one of the largest asset managers in the world with more than $3.2 trillion in discretionary managed assets, and total assets under administration of $8.32 trillion. The company also works with 32 million individual investors. Founded in 1946 by Edward C. Johnson II, the company was first known as Fidelity

Management & Research. In 1969, the company went international by forming Fidelity International Limited, and in 1982 it started offering 401(k) products. At Fidelity Investments, the company prides itself on making the complex simpler, as it shoots to be straightforward with its advice, yet understands

2. Charles Schwab Multiple locations; schwab.com Charles Schwab is one of the behemoths of wealth management, boasting $4.11 trillion in total client assets. The company is the 14th largest banking institution in the United States and the third largest asset manager in the world. Charles Schwab also employs more than 21,800 people. Founded in 1971 under the name Charles Schwab & Co., the broker dealer capitalized on the financial deregulation of the 1970s in hopes of pioneering discount sales of equity securities.

Wealth advisers might seem a little bit overwhelming, but Charles Schwab simplifies this complicated area of business so everyone can understand it. Charles Schwab says customers should take charge of their financial future and it provides all the tools necessary to help. The company’s website is available for those looking for financial advice, how to get started, how to build wealth, help for those looking to retire and those already living in retirement.

58 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

that all cases need to be individually tailored as well. It also has a huge selection of services spanning all the way from retirement & IRAs to stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. As for planning and advice, Fidelity Investments realizes that life encompasses a lot of changes, and it is ready to take them all on as well as help every customer plan for them whether it is through investment strategies and directing stock portfolios to

wealth management needs. Trading is also a breeze with $0 commission trades. The company even caters to teachers with its Teaching Teachers initiative, in which the goal is to help schoolteachers become more financially savvy. If this sounds like a lot of information, Fidelity Investment’s helpful website and friendly customer service representatives break down all their services so everyone can understand. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Advanced Financial Independence Group

17822 17th St., #202, Tustin; 800-546-2499; theafigroup.com Founded in 1979 by Steve Sousa, the company began its journey as Advanced Financial Concepts. Sousa was a national retirement planning expert and charter life underwriter, but prided himself on building his business through the relationships he forged in his community. Sousa was also a standup guy, as he believed in volunteering and coaching as he also founded the Little League in the Northwood community of Irvine, which went on to

make the championship game of the Little League World Series in 1987. Today the company brings the same passion to the plate with its customers. As for the services, Advanced Financial Independence Group will help with wealth management from retirement planning to those looking to expand their financial portfolio to estate management. Make sure to check out the blog on the company website for a more in-depth look at financial questions, too.


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60 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020


FOOD & DRINK » Bakery » Bar » Barbecue » Breakfast » Brunch » Burger » Craft Brewery » Date Night

Restaurant

» Doughnut Shop » Family Friendly

Restaurant

JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

» Food Hall » Happy Hour » Ice Cream/Frozen

Yogurt

» Italian Restaurant » Mexican

Restaurant » Pizza » Seafood Restaurant » Steakhouse » Sushi


» BEST

BAKERY

Assorted pastries are on display at French’s Pastry Bakery in Costa Mesa, voted best bakery.

1. French’s Pastry Bakery Multiple locations

French’s Pastry Bakery has been a part of the Orange County community since 1965 when it opened its doors at the Costa Mesa location. In 1996, the Mission Viejo location opened followed in 2005 by opening the Orange location. The ownership and operations are all in the family as Manuel Gonzalez founded the Costa

Mesa operation, and his children run the day-today operations. Mariana Gonzalez is the manager of the locations; her brothers Daniel and Edgar are the creative hands of French’s Pastry Bakery as they handle the cake décor at the Costa Mesa and Orange stores respectively. The claim to fame at French’s Pastry Bakery is the

2. 85°C

Multiple locations; 85cbakerycafe.com 85°C, or 85 Degrees is a Taiwanese-inspired bakery chain that offers coffee, tea, cakes, assorted desserts, smoothies, fruit juices and more. There are more than 1,000 stores worldwide and multiple locations in Orange County. The chain was founded in 2003 and opened its first U.S. location in Irvine in 2008. The store’s name is the perfect temperature Wu Cheng-Hsueh, the founder, believed coffee should be served. The chain is known for its sea salt coffee, which is

a delightful blend of iced Americano coffee with sea salt whipped cream on top. It’s a must-try for all newbies to the shop. Cakes come in all shapes and sizes including individual serving sizes. Patrons can also get various fresh breads including puff pastry, savory breads, sweet breads, or toast. Kids will love the offering of slushes and smoothies. Don’t forget to sign up for the 85°C rewards program where users only have to download the app and present a barcode at checkout.

62 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

Wagon Wheel coffee cake. For under $12, guests will receive a delicious coffee cake that they can adorn with chocolate chips and cream cheese or strawberries and cream cheese. The Danish itself is the size of a medium-sized pizza. Another thing the bakery prides itself on is that it actually makes real whipped cream in-house, which is something not many bakeries do because it is pricey. The turnaround time on desserts is another thing the

NICK KOON, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

bakery is known for as many bakeries require guests to order wedding cakes three months in advance; French’s Pastry Bakery will have a fresh original cake completed in a week. French’s Pastry Bakery has been a top vote recipient in Best of Orange County for 27 years straight, and the store is very grateful to the community, workers and staff for keeping the bakery on top so many years running. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Cream Pan

602 El Camino Real, Tustin; 714-665-8239; creampanbakery.com Cream Pan’s specialty is delectable custardfilled, strawberry croissants. Cream Pan has a fresh take on baking and boasts a fusion of Japanese and French cuisine on its menu. Since 2002, this bakery institution has been part of the community and welcomes hungry Orange County residents on a daily basis. Cream Pan’s delightful French décor and tasty menu

keeps eaters coming in time and time again. Owned by Yoshinori Inada, this bakery has a little something for everyone. Come in for a sweet treat or sit down for lunch and nosh on a delicious sandwich. Lunch options include a scrumptious chicken katsu sandwich, a turkey avocado sandwich, egg salad, a yakisoba sandwich and more. Don’t forget to bring home a freshly baked loaf of bread.


» BEST

BAR 2. The Blind Rabbit 440 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim; theblindrabbit.com

It’s one thing to have a cool concept, another to pull it off well. That’s what husband and wife Robert and Ying Adamson have done. The Blind Rabbit is patterned after a Prohibition era speakeasy in the Anaheim Packing District. Enter through a cleverly concealed entrance, the line of waiting patrons notwithstanding, and step into a cramped room of wise guys and dolls. The cramped confines feature inspired-by-the-era furnishings and artifacts and patrons are encouraged to dress in apparel from the era to complete the effect. The idea may draw you, but it’s the food and beverage that keep you. No bathtub gin here. Check out the House Classic Devil’s Soul, with whiskey, mezcal, Elderflower Aperol and Amaro. Or go with a bartender’s choice. The menu is seasonal and changes biannually. The bar lists a set of rules on its website that includes a 90-minute time limit. And, oh yeah, exit through the bookcase.

CINDY YAMANAKA, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Social Costa Mesa was voted best bar by Register readers as part of the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards.

1. Social Costa Mesa

512 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa; 949-642-2425; socialrg.com You don’t necessarily have to be bougie to check out this popular bar and eatery in Costa Mesa, or its sibling establishment that opened in Huntington Beach last year. But you really should check out the Shiso Boujee, one of the house cocktails created to tickle both your taste buds and funny bone. And really, how can you get through life without saying you tried one? The cocktail, and a number of other in-house creations, are indicative of the attitude Social engenders. “Definitley the vibe,” said Andrew Dorsey, co-founder and owner of Social, about what sets his places apart. “You can’t bottle it and sell it. It’s a special energy — a combination of our guests and our team that makes dining out truly sociable and fun.”

About the Boujee cocktail, it draws part of its name from shiso leaves, a Japanese ornamental member of the mint family with a scent that has been described as reminiscent of cinnamon and cloves. It also includes Reyka vodka, passion fruit and lime cordial. “Shiso Boujee is not only fun to say but delicious to drink,” Dorsey said. “The sweetness from the passion fruit is really well balanced with the shiso. It’s never coming off our menu.” Another of the homemade cocktails, The Gunslinger, is made with rye, bourbon, black tea syrup, Chinese 5-spice bitters and cherrywood smoke. Social also features what it calls “curated eats,” and an always evolving seasonal menu. — Greg Mellen

3. The Point Restaurant and Bar 34085 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point; 949-464-5700; thepointrestaurantandbar.com

Long known as a popular sports bar with nine-flat screen TVs and two more on its pet-friendly patio, the Point Restaurant is a relaxing bar without some of the pomp of other gathering spots. Opened by Brett and Rene Cassel in 2012, The Point remains a family friendly sports restaurant and bar. From those humble roots, the Point has built an obviously faithful following. On Yelp, owner Rene Cassel writes, her restaurant “features fresh locally grown food, craft beer, a full bar and old school prices. Late night DJ and dancing Friday and Saturday, drink specials every Friday and Saturday.” As Rene Cassel writes, “It’s memorable when the background music is upbeat, all enveloping the gregarious sounds of a restaurant theme to create culture in that community, with great food, a great atmosphere and freshly brewed beer.” THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 63


» BEST

BARBECUE

1. Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que Multiple locations; lucillesbbq.com Kansas City or Carolina? Memphis or Texas? OK, maybe not Texas. But for Orange County fans of barbecue, regardless of the style, the answer is always the same. For the 18th straight year, Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que took top honors. The chain restaurant sidesteps the regional disputes about ‘cue style by appealing to a variety of tastes. Whether it’s St. Louis-style ribs, Texas brisket pulled pork, tri-tip, rib tips, links, smoked chicken or burnt ends, there is something for all barbecue palates. Rubs are applied by hand and meats are hickory smoked. Everything is available with a variety of house sauces, including a hot and spicy sauce, a tangy Memphis style, original and a new apple-butter, along with two rubs. It doesn’t stop there. Lucille’s also has a wideranging Southern menu, with Southern fried chicken, complete with “Grandpa’s

BRITTANY KEENE, COURTESY OF LUCILLE’S SMOKEHOUSE BAR-B-QUE

Lucille’s rubs and marinates its meats for more than 12 hours then cooks them in a smoker for as long as 24 hours. pan gravy,” jambalaya and New Orleans gumbo. For the less adventurous there’s salmon and steak. Owned by Hofman Hospitality Group, a family business that opened its first Hof’s Hut on the beach in 1951, Lucille’s celebrated its

2. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Multiple locations; dickeys.com Started as a single stand on the dusty plains of Texas in 1941 — OK, Dallas — Dickey’s has grown into the nation’s leading barbecue chain. However, it still spins its family roots. A call to the corporate offices generally yields the recorded voices of Roland and Edna Dickey. Getting a live human voice is something else altogether. The original Dickey’s, founded by Travis Dickey, is still in operation. The restaurant began franchising in 1994 and continues to grow.

Self-described as a “fast, casual chain,” Dickey’s has more than 500 locations across the country and serves beef brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis-style ribs, sausage links, smoked turkey and more. Sides include coleslaw, jalapeño beans, mac and cheese and, horrors, Caesar salad. A company saying is “it’s not legit without the pit.” Dickey’s certified masters smoke its meats on-site over hickory in open kitchens everyday for up to 14 hours. The company also has a proprietary line of rubs and sauces.

64 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

20th birthday in 2019. Barbecue joints like to spin homey tales of grandmas and secret restaurants. In this case, the faux Lucille Buchanan is the eatery’s namesake. The other, and purportedly true, origin

story happened in the 1990s. Craig Hofman, seeking a new venture, sampled barbecue shacks from Carolina to Tennessee, Missouri to Texas, to dig up recipes which came together with the launch of Lucille’s. — Greg Mellen

3. Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ Multiple locations, gyu-kaku.com Barbecue lovers know all about the variety of American regional styles. For a growing segment of the population, Korean restaurants have become go-to eateries to satisfy your barbecue itch. But increasingly, Japan, which brought you the high-end Kobe and Wagyu beefs, is making its presence known in the barbecue market. The latest, greatest example, according to our readers, is Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ. Founded in Japan in 1987, and coming to the United States in 2001, Gyu-Kaku has grown to 700 restaurants worldwide, including 61 in

the United States. Restaurants feature grills at every table for self-cooking, with smokeless roasters and downdraft systems that suck smoke away from guests. Gyu-Kaku, which means “Horn of the Bull” in Japanese, provides the authentic yakiniku (grilled barbecue) dining experience. Customers grill and share their selections, such as Harami skirt steak in a miso marinade and Angus Kalbi short rib in a tare sweet soy marinade. Beverages include sake, shochu, Japanese wine and cold beer.


» BEST

BREAKFAST 2. Snooze, an A.M. Eatery

Orange, Tustin; snoozeeatery.com Don’t be fooled by the name, Snooze encourages breakfast lovers to skip the snooze button and head into its restaurant for a delicious breakfast. Founded in Denver in 2006, this chain is known for its breakfast, but also offers “after hours” fun too. Everyone looking for morning goodness with an evening spin will be happy to know that Snooze offers after-parties for everything from rehearsal dinners to corporate celebrations. Hours are 5-10 p.m. for the after hours fun. Snooze also offers fun swag for fans who want to rep their favorite breakfast spot. Choose from shirts, hats, coffee mugs, wine mugs and even pancake flavored lip balm. Diners can order a variety of milks to go with breakfast. Vegetarians are encouraged to dine as well, as the restaurant offers a tofu scramble, sweet potato hash, and egg white frittatas. The menu includes flavorful Benedicts, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, French toast and egg classics.

KEN STEINHARDT, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

A waitress takes an order of strawberry pancakes to a customer at Stacks Pancake House in Dana Point.

1. Stacks Pancake House

Multiple locations; stackspancakehouse.com When you go to Stacks, don’t expect a typical breakfast. Its creative take on the most important meal of the day has foodies coming back for more at breakfast time. Known for its banana macadamia nut pancakes, this breakfast joint has the perfect morning meal for everyone to enjoy. Founded by Nixon Tanuwidjaja, this restaurant was created after his life-long pursuit and passion for creating uniquely delicious foods. His inspiration comes from both Japanese cooking as well as the Hawaiian flavors he learned to love while living there. Tanuwidjaja and his wife came back to the mainland with their banana macadamia nut pancakes, authentic Loco Moco, their renowned

coconut syrup, and a dream to start their own restaurant. From there, Stacks was born. Grab anything from Korean Kalbi ribs, Japanese fried rice omelets, French crepes, and even a classic eggs Benedict. The chain is known for its pancakes, but also serves a wide selection of omelets, waffles, French toast, breakfast combos, scrambles and more. Kids will rejoice because they have their own menu to choose everything from sweet to savory options. Show up hungry because the Stacks portion size is large. Stacks loves its community too. Over the years the chain has raised more than $250,000 for various organizations. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Glee Donuts & Burgers

Anaheim, Fountain Valley; gleednb.com Joining the Fountain Valley community in 2015, Glee Donuts & Burgers has become known for its service and hospitality, as well as its tasty breakfast staples ever since. People travel from all over Orange County to enjoy breakfast at this family-owned eatery. Want to have an early lunch? No problem. There are cheeseburgers, pastrami burgers, a BBQ bacon cheeseburger, soft shell crab burgers, super sourdough burgers, grilled chicken burgers and more. Ever heard of a Kronut? This cross between a croissant and a doughnut can be ordered with ease as well as an assortment of breakfast burritos, breakfast plates, breakfast sandwiches, bagels, blended coffee, doughnuts and more. Fans of the restaurant say to make sure to try the blueberry doughnuts. Lunch is also a great option at Glee Donuts and Burgers, as the restaurant has salads and sandwiches for midday cravings. THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 65


» BEST

BRUNCH

Moreno’s Restaurant and Bakery in Orange celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019.

1. Moreno’s Restaurant 4328 E Chapman Ave., Orange; 714-639-2181; morenosrestaurant.com

Looking for a brunch spot that is really into history? Moreno’s Restaurant respects the community called El Modena, which was founded in 1887. At that time the Spanish language was widely spoken and businesses catered to people hailing from Mexico. This is where Moreno’s had its humble beginnings, taking a page out of this distant chapter. The restaurant site includes a 19th century Quaker church that hosts weddings and can accommodate 150 guests. The restaurant is known for weddings with a touch of Mexican flair. Weddings are subject to a five-hour limit and include a buffet style dinner. Diners can choose from tostadas to burritos and chicken plates for dinner and from an array of lunch specials daily. Moreno’s also has an on-site bakery where guests are encouraged to buy the fresh bread and desserts that are baked daily. However, brunch is a staple at Moreno’s Restaurant. Come in on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne as well as a delicious meal. The menu isn’t huge but it packs a Mexican punch as guests can order everything from huevos rancheros to jamon con huevos, avocado omelets, chilaquiles con huevo, and huevos con chorizo. Children are also welcome to join in on brunch as well. — Jessie Dax-Setkus 66 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

2. The Cut Handcrafted Burgers

3831 Alton Parkway, #C, Irvine; 949-333-3434; thecuthcb.com The Cut was originally founded as a food truck that placed in the Top 3 for best burger in 2016. The following year, the food truck became a brick-and-mortar restaurant that boasts a rustic, urban and casual setting. The burgers at The Cut are certified humane, free range, and hormone and antibiotic free. In addition to the mouth-watering burgers The Cut offers, guests can also get sandwiches, salads and shareable plates like smoked mac & cheese, honey Sriracha chicken wings and more. Brunch is absolutely on the menu Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offers everything from plates such as pancakes and biscuits and gravy to shareables like poutine, shishito peppers, and cheese tots and original breakfast sandwiches. The Cut’s famous burgers grace the menu as it offers The Colombian with South American flair, Truffle & Brie, a sweet and spicy with bacon and honey-Sriracha, and the original with American cheese, pickles and Cut sauce.

JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

3. El Torito

Multiple locations; eltorito.com Founded in 1954, El Torito claims to be the “authority of great Mexican food.” Located throughout Orange County, El Torito offers brunch, lunch, dinner and happy hour options for hungry guests. Delectable lunch specials include fajitas chiquitas, all-you-can-eat tortilla soup and Mexican Caesar salad, arroz con pollo, tacos, or guests can create their own combo with options like cheese enchiladas, chicken machaca or beef barbacoa tacos, or chicken tamales. El Torito is really applauded for its all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch that is held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is a hot entrée, salad, taco, dessert, and kids station available as well as soups and omelets made to order. Grab a beer birra, cheese enchilada, waffles, bananas loca with ice cream, huevos rancheros and more. Don’t forget to order champagne or a mimosa. El Torito even has a Saturday breakfast complete with omelets, breakfast burritos and carne asada with eggs.


» BEST

BURGER

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER YEE

In-N-Out Burger was again voted best burger by Register readers in the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards.

1. In-N-Out Burger

Multiple locations; 800-786-1000; in-n-out.com There’s an old tenet dating back to Socrates about the importance of doing one thing and doing it well. When Harry and Esther Snyder debuted In-NOut Burger in 1948, they followed this precept: To make burgers and to make them the best burgers. “At In-N-Out Burger, we have always served just a few items — burgers, fries

and drinks,” said Denny Warnick, vice president of operations. “This approach has allowed us to really focus on the quality of those products.” You don’t need to spend time pondering the menu. You can have a single or double burger, with or without cheese, with onions raw or grilled. There are fries, shakes and drinks.

2. The Habit Burger Grill Multiple locations; habitburger.com It’s becoming habitual. The Habit Burger Grill has become a mainstay in the Orange County burger scene. Although quietly founded in 1969 in Santa Barbara, Habits have been popping up like wildflowers around Orange County with more than 20 locations. After the grill celebrated its 50th birthday in March 2020, Yum Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC, acquired The Habit. The grill sticks to a basic formula of using simple and fresh ingredients to

create a quality experience. The Charburger and Double Charburger are signature items. Portabella mushrooms, avocados and teriyaki have been added into the mix. Unlike some other burger-only joints, the Habit does veer a little afield with sandwiches such as tuna filet, chicken club and avocado and veggie. Plus salads. At the end of the day, however, even as the menu grows and the restaurant flourishes, it remains all about basics: a burger and a side of fries.

That’s it at 28 locations in Orange County and 170 in Southern California. Of course, there is also the so-called “secret menu,” which Warnick said started organically from customers wanting special preparations of basic menu items. Over the years, “Animal Style” and “Protein Style” have worked their way into the lexicon, but Warnick says, “Whether a ‘secret menu’ order or not, we still prepare every burger just the way a customer

wants it.” Something that people may not know about is the company’s mission to community service and activism.The In-N-Out Foundation and the Slave 2 Nothing Foundation support nonprofits fighting against child abuse, substance abuse and human trafficking, Wanick said. Kudos also go to the company’s personnel policies in pay, flexible scheduling and free food. — Greg Mellen

3. Glee Donuts and Burgers Anaheim and Fountain Valley, gleednb.com This isn’t your average burger and fries joint. There are doughnuts, too. And don’t forget, the croissants, breakfast burritos, sandwiches, coffees, smoothies and freshsqueezed orange juice. Glee Donuts and Burgers is a cornucopia of fast foods. Glee, which first set roots in Fountain Valley before expanding to Anaheim, remains at heart a family story. Burgers remain a central part of the experience. The basics include USDA choice patties with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and house

dressing. From there you can go myriad ways, with bacon, pastrami, barbecue, avocado, cheese and veggie burgers among the choices. Then there are a half dozen specialty burgers with crab, chicken, pineapple, guacamole and other items on grilled sourdough or brioche buns. According to its website, “Our patrons come here for our delectable twists on breakfasts, lunches and desserts. But providing a gourmet snack or meal without sacrificing the ‘mom and pop’ feel is what keeps them coming back!”

THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 67


» BEST

CRAFT BREWERY

1. Ballast Point Brewing Co.

1540 S. Disneyland Drive, #201, Anaheim; 714-687-9813; ballastpoint.com Don’t think you’re a beer drinker? The folks at Ballast Point Brewing Co. think maybe you just haven’t had a chance to experience the broad scope of modern craft brewing. Jeremy Kirby, vice president of retail operations for Ballast Point, says if you give the staff a chance to explore your “flavor profile,” they are often able to find something delicious. “The impression changes and we have a customer for life,” Kirby said. Ballast Point traces its origin to a crew of avid home brewers in 1996, including George Cataulin, Doug Duffield and Colby Chandler. After experimenting with a variety of fish-themed brews, they hit on Sculpin, a hoppy IPA but with tropical notes, that made it an instant hit. Ballast Point, with Sculpin, quickly became darlings of the craft brew

PAUL BERSEBACH, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

A flight rack uses tie downs for a nautical theme at Ballast Point Brewing Co. at Downtown Disney in Anaheim. The restaurant and bar opened in January 2019. industry and were bought by Constellation Brands, makers of Corona, for a staggering $1 billion. The fit as a corporate beer didn’t work and Ballast was sold to Kings and Convicts, which Kirby said seeks to

2. BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse

Multiple locations; bjsrestaurants.com From Chicago-style pizzeria to craft-brewing and restaurant powerhouse, and, oh yeah, makers of Pizookies, it’s been quite a ride for Huntington Beach-headquartered BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. Despite its various focuses, it is the brews that caught the attention of Orange County residents. With 11 signature beers, BJ’s flavors run the gamut from the light, refreshing Lightswitch Lager to the gut-busting Tatonka Imperial Stout. There are also seasonal brews that cycle through regularly as well

as a Berry Burst Cider. The first BJ’s opened in Santa Ana in the late 1970s as a Chicago-style pizzeria and the restaurant continues to honor those roots with more than 18 signature flavors of pizza, from tavern-cut to deep dish to made-to-order combinations. Not to mention a wide and varied menu and the trademarked Pizookie, a hybrid pizza dough/hot fudge brownie concoction. BJ’s has brewing facilities that service more than 200 locations in 28 states, including nine in Orange County.

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bring the company back into ballast as creative brewers. As an example, the brewery continues to play with Sculpin, adding flavors, such as grapefruit. At Ballast, patrons can find a dizzying variety of

brews, ranging from crisp bright lagers, to sour or fruity ales, to rich and malty stouts. And of course the signature hop, hoppy and hoppier pale ales. — Greg Mellen

3. Golden Road Brewing

Anaheim, Huntington Beach; goldenroad.la It didn’t take long for baseball fans heading to and from Angels games to turn this craft brewery on Orangewood Avenue into a craft-beer mecca. Especially for those who may not want to drop $15 for something not nearly as tasty in the stadium. The brewery was founded in 2011 in Los Angeles, adding a location in Anaheim in 2016 with a 600-squarefoot tasting room before expanding into its current 40,000-square-foot complex with more than 100 taps and an on-site brewery.

Financing the massive operation was Golden Road’s acquisition by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2015. The brewer also announced in January 2019 the planned opening of a new facility at the Peter’s Landing in Sunset Beach. When it comes to the family of beers, Golden Road has 14 core brands available year-round, including a number of hoppy pale ales and several fruity variations. There is a similar array of seasonal blends available. The restaurant features pub fare ranging from appetizers to burgers, sandwiches and salads.


» BEST

DATE NIGHT RESTAURANT

LEONARD ORTIZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The outdoor patio at the Orange Hill Restaurant provides an excellent view of Orange County at sunset.

1. Orange Hill

6410 E. Chapman Ave., Orange; 714-997-2910; theorangehillrestaurant.com Driving up the sweeping road to the top of the hill gets you in the mood for something special and different. Once inside, the spectacular view afforded from the restaurant, wraparound patio and O Bar add to the experience. The lights of Orange County twinkle at night, Catalina rises from the mist on a clear day. Cascading waterfalls and tranquil koi ponds dot the large property. All of these come together to make Orange Hill Restaurant and Bar a place for special occasions and the top pick among readers for date night excursions. The restaurant opened in 1979 and is run by John Tallichet, whose father founded the restaurant. Orange Hill advertises itself as having “prime steaks and primo views” and delivers on both ends. Because of its vistas, the restaurant has been highly sought as a destination for weddings and other special events. For dinner, the steaks include the 40-ounce Kansas City Tomahawk Chops for really big eaters, as well as grass-fed, GMO free or dry aged selections. The produce is locally sourced. A full bar is available and features a number of home-designed craft cocktails. On a promotional video, General Manager Jake Rossman says, “Come for the view, stay for the food and great service” — Greg Mellen

2. Bruno’s Italian Kitchen 210 W. Birch St., Brea; 714-257-1000; brunositaliankitchen.com

It’s hard to get much more romantic than Venice, and Chef Peter Serantoni folds his love of the cuisine of the Italian city into his dishes. Serantoni, who has 40 years in restaurants, was already running Cha Cha’s Mexican Cantina in Brea when the opportunity came to open another space. The idea to go to his roots felt natural The eatery is named in honor of Papa Bruno, Serantoni’s father and mentor, who, with Nonna Maria, filled the house at San Marco 865 in Venice with “abbondanza.” Being chosen by readers, Serantoni is special. “For most people, (dinner is) a special occasion,” he said. “We understand that and we don’t take it for granted. We want people to feel special and well taken care of.” The food is rustic Northern Italian, simple and authentic. For example, “The lasagna is exactly like grandma made it,” he said, before admitting no one, after all, can match grandma. With various half-price, discounted and extended happyhour days, it can also take some strain off the wallet.

3. Hanna’s Restaurant and Bar

22195 El Paseo, Rancho Santa Margarita; 949-709-2300; hannasprimesteak.com Owner Dave Hanna calls food service his “ministry.” That devotion to both food quality and quality of experience makes his namesake Hanna’s Restaurant and Bar a go-to destination among readers. Hanna says his passion filters down to the restaurant’s culture, where the staff learns “the science and art of hospitality.” “We teach them how to give diners a great experience,” Hanna said. “We don’t say no, we make it happen.” Hanna has been serving food in Rancho Santa Margarita for 30 years, starting with coffee shops before moving into his high-end steakhouse in 2005. Besides being a purveyor of fine food, Hanna says he is deeply involved in the community, helping to add to the popularity of his place. A unique aspect of the restaurant is its extensive connections with Northern California winemakers. The staff is extensively trained in wine-food pairings, with many servers obtaining sommelier certification. THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 69


» BEST

DOUGHNUT SHOP 2. Krispy Kreme

Multiple locations; krispykreme.com Krispy Kreme, which says its mission is to “make the most awesome doughnuts on the planet every single day,” is an institution when it comes to this fried dessert. Krispy Kremes can be found all across the country — even the Excalibur in Las Vegas. Krispy Kreme is also very involved with the community as the company hosts a fundraising option. Created in 1955, Krispy Kreme Fundraising has helped organizations raise more than $37 million to support various initiatives. Super fans can also buy some fun swag on the restaurant’s website including coffee mugs, hats, shirts, doughnut socks, umbrellas and more. As for doughnuts, the traditional glazed is a popular item as it is simple yet classic. In fact, Krispy Kreme has a fresh doughnut sign that is illuminated whenever a fresh batch of glazed doughnuts are ready for eager eaters to grab a dozen (or two). Purchase something classic or something a little more off the wall like cake batter or Oreo Cookies and Kreme.

3. The Donuttery MARK RIGHTMIRE, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The huckleberry doughnuts are popular and often sell out at Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee in Costa Mesa.

1. Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee

270 E. 17th St. #18, Costa Mesa; 949-873-5424; sidecardoughnuts.com Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee, established in 2012, stands by its commitment to serve “the world’s freshest doughnut.” Sidecar also has some heavy hitters backing it up such as Food Network star Alton Brown, who has gushed about the restaurant’s buttermilk drops, as well as Foodbeast, “Good Day LA” and The Cooking Channel. The Food Network really loved Sidecar’s fascinating take on eggs Benedict which is an eggs Benedict doughnut, and it’s exactly what it sounds like — a doughnut wrapped around prosciutto and a poached egg, fired then finished with hollandaise and fresh basil. Sidecar also keeps things fresh by changing up the menu daily and makes 3,000 to 5,000 doughnuts 70 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

over the weekends. The restaurant is known for both sweet and savory options. Some of these creations include maple bacon and its famous huckleberry doughnut, which is filled with fresh huckleberries and finished with a sugary huckleberry glaze. Other yummy doughnuts on the menu include Susie’s Blueberry pancake, which is a blueberry cake doughnut topped with a maple syrup glaze and a drizzle of Vermont Maple Syrup. Also make sure to try the old fashioned doughnut, butter & salt, and the apple fritter creations. Sidecar even offers gluten-free and vegan options for diners with dietary restrictions. The vegan chocolate coconut is a real winner for vegans looking to nosh. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

17420 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach; 714-847-7000; thedonutteryhb.com When looking for creative doughnuts, The Donuttery in Huntington Beach is the place to go. Ever had a vegan doughnut? Even consumers of animal products will enjoy The Donuttery’s lineup of vegan options. There are “fancy” vegan options such as apple fritter, cinnamon roll, chocolate chip bar, or peanut butter and jelly doughnuts. For regular doughnut fans, try the Long John Jellys, which include chocolate, maple, or raspberry, or buttermilk doughnuts in traditional or old fashioned. The Donuttery isn’t a one-trick pony either as it is open for breakfast and lunch. Get a breakfast bagel, sausage muffin, or even a breakfast burrito to start the day, or come in for lunch and get a signature sandwich like the Goldie Lox which boasts smoked salmon, tomato, red onion and cream cheese; the Palm Springs, which has tomato, red onion, avocado and is seasoned with lemon pepper; or the classic pastrami.


» BEST

FAMILY-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT

1. Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza Store

2300 SE Bristol St., Ste. F, Newport Beach; 949-852-9500; sgtpepps.com Kids love pizza and the secret behind great pizza is awesome ingredients. At Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza Store, the staff is committed to grating more than four tons of mozzarella cheese and making 500 gallons of pizza sauce monthly — now that’s a lot of pizza. The store has been in operation since 1976 and uses only the freshest ingredients. Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza Store introduced a pizza catering truck in 2019 to deliver the freshest pizzas across Orange County. Equipped with a full kitchen on board, the truck makes pizza to order and serves it hot and fresh. East Coast pizza lovers will be happy to know that this pizza place subscribes to the Eastern take on pizza, and we all know quality New York style pizza is not an easy find in Southern California. It is also a great place for families to enjoy a quality meal or pick up some swanky swag. An example of their funny shirts is the

MINDY SCHAUER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza Store was voted the best family-friendly restaurant in Orange County by Register readers as part of the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards. Pink Floyd interpretation of pizza as the shirt states it’s the “dark side of the pie.” The menu caters to pizza lovers from all walks of life as the restaurant offers the famous pizza shop appetizer, garlic knots, as well as

2. Ruby’s Diner

of Hawaiian pie, or guests can build their own pizzas. The prices of the lunch deals offered can’t be beat as guests can get two slices of pizza and a soda for less than $10. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Stonefire Grill

Multiple locations; rubys.com For all those looking to add a touch of vintage to their dining experience, head to Ruby’s Diner where the atmosphere takes guests straight back to the 1940s. Cape Cod native Doug Cavanaugh created Ruby’s in 1980. He remembered seeing an old, dilapidated building at the end of the Balboa Pier after taking a jog and realized it would be the perfect spot for a family restaurant. Enter the concept of emulating an American diner from the good old days. Each location has its own transportation theme,

its own staple Great Balls of Fire, which is pizza dough stuffed with cream cheese, bacon and tomato. The menu has lots of pizza options including margherita, buffalo chicken, the works, Sgt. Pepperoni’s version

Multiple locations; stonefiregrill.com and is designed with 1940s décor and nostalgic menu items. Kids can try a signature milkshake or get vanilla or chocolate syrup added to their cola, but the real crown jewel of the menu is their burgers like the mushroom Swiss, cobb and Ruby Melt burgers. Ruby’s also has great sandwiches, fresh salads, and an all-day breakfast. Get a basket of frings, which is a combo plate of French fries and Ruby Rings, to pair with a burger or take part in the all day breakfast, which has everything from French toast to corned beef and hash.

Stonefire Grill is a family restaurant started by the large Harrigan family. Serving food that’s “simply and lovingly prepared with both taste and budget in mind,” Stonefire Grill came to fruition in the summer of 2000 when sisters Mary and Maureen Harrigan put their heads together to create the family favorite restaurant. The menu is immense, and caters to every kind of diner-goer. Eat from the crowd pleasers menu, which boast hearty favorites for larger groups

like whole tri-tip and a full slab of ribs, whole chicken and tri-tip, or a whole chicken and full slab of ribs. The pizza is to die for as Stonefire Grill offers a traditional cheese, pepperoni, the works and mesquite barbeque. Pair a meal with a fresh salad as it has five options to choose from including a Caesar, classic cobb, or zesty signature BBQ chopped salad. There is also a kids menu for picky eaters including chicken strips, mac and cheese, and a 7-inch pizza.

THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 71


» BEST

FOOD HALL

Plants hang suspended on wires as guests of the Anaheim Packing House explore the space.

1. Anaheim Packing House

440 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim; 714-533-7225; anaheimpackingdistrict.com By the time the Anaheim Packing House opened in 2014, Shaheen Sadeghi had already pioneered alterna-malls with The Lab and The Camp in Costa Mesa. This one was different. Rather than carving out his concept on an industrial space, he remade a 1919 Spanish style citrus plant.

Bars, retail and restaurateurs moved in and it quickly found a following. “A lot of families like to dine together,” Sadeghi said. “Hispanic or Asian or Middle Eastern, they still like to get grandma, grandpa and grandkids together. So 12 or 15 people show up. They can all grab

2. Mess Hall Market

1705 Flight Way, Tustin; 949-333-2114; messhalltustin.com Mess Hall Market made a big splash when it opened last year, debuting at No. 3 in the Orange County Register’s list of restaurants with the biggest buzz. A grand space with contemporary architecture, it’s packed with tasty food concepts including Big Parm, a pizza-by-the-slice restaurant; The Little Greek, a take on Greek street food; and the ever popular VaKa Burger. There’s plenty of outdoor seating including patios, shaded areas with umbrellas and a fireplace

for cool nights. Mi Ho, co-owner of the Sandwich Society, said it’s a laid-back spot to enjoy a drink from The Bar @ Flight. “You can have a really good cocktail, hang out and enjoy the weather,” she said. She jumped at the chance to bring her menu there with bulgogi and crackling pork belly sandwiches. “It’s like a campus and I thought that it fit really well with our concept,” she said. “And it’s just a beautiful space.”

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food from different places, congregate and set up their own picnic — that’s been unique.” There’s a lot to choose from. “Anaheim, being the largest city in Orange County, it has a wonderful international flavor and we also get tons of business from Disneyland and the convention center down the street.” Stroll about and gather a feast: Middle Eastern fare at Mangal, Southern fried

NICK AGRO, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

chicken from Georgia’s or Indian street treats by Food Network “Chopped” champion Chef Shachi Mehra at Adya. Dine in a park-like setting where there’s often entertainment. Sadeghi thinks the secret to the Packing House’s success is that it keeps the family together. “Mom gets a glass of wine, dad gets a beer … you can relax and take your kids with you.” — Anne Valdespino

3. 4th Street Market

201 E. 4th St., Santa Ana; 714-486-0700; 4thstreetmarket.com When 4th Street Market opened five years ago, “there was a lot of pushback from the community, the locals, the merchants. ‘What are you guys doing? Are you crazy?’” owner Ryan Chase recalled. “But on the first day some of those same people came back saying, ‘I can’t believe you pulled this off. ... We’re so happy you’re here.’” Chase provided spaces that were low-cost and turnkey. Food vendors come and go and that’s part of the plan. Portola

Coffee moved out, Loose Leaf Boba Company moved in. Jason Quinn’s Noodle Tramp made way for new concepts like Banh Xeo Boys’ Vietnamese Crepes. A recent refresh included more outdoor dining space and an Instagram wall. 4th Street has something for everyone. “You’re going to see people from the Civic Center, jurors, college kids, OCSA kids, families, foodies, hipsters, neighborhood folks and everyone in between,” Chase said. “And I think that’s what’s so cool about it.”


» BEST

HAPPY HOUR

Yard House won best happy hour in the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards.

1. Yard House

Multiple locations; yardhouse.com Pass by any Yard House at certain hours and you’ll see large, ebullient crowds, which makes it an easy pick for best happy hour. Yard House, which advertises itself as having the world’s largest selection of draft beers, was founded in Long Beach in 1996 and was acquired by Darden Restaurants, owner of Olive Garden and other chain operations. “At Yard House, there’s something for everyone,” said Christopher Yeh, director of operations. “Happy hour gives guests the opportunity to explore 14 items on the menu with a mix of globally inspired dishes and twists on American classics.” Half-priced appetizers range from poke nachos to Wisconsin cheese curds and there are also half-priced pizzas Happy hour revelers can get discounts on drafts, wine and handcrafted drinks. As for a draft, you have 180 to choose from, from crisp to sour, light to dark, fruity, malty and, if you like hops, a list of India Pale Ales is as long as your arm. The bar is the centerpiece attraction at every Yard House, according to Yeh, and all have a glass-enclosed keg room that holds 3,000 gallons of beer at 36-38 degrees, with more than two miles of keg lines stretching overhead. However, each establishment is allowed to create its own music playlist and choose artwork by abstract artist Jerome Gastaldi for an individual vibe. — Greg Mellen

2. The Point Restaurant and Bar

34085 CA-1, Dana Point; 949-464-5700; thepointrestaurantandbar.com A self-described family-friendly spot for seafood, pizza and burgers may not seem like the obvious choice for best happy hour, but readers of the OC Register and fans of the restaurant may be in on a secret. Fans of this Dana Point hot spot enjoy the upbeat atmosphere and the wide selection of screens for sports. Happy hours are everyday fare, from 3 to closing on Mondays, and 3-7 p.m. during the rest of the week and weekend. There are deals on wings, beef or Buffalo chicken sliders, nachos, street tacos and pizza to name a few. The bar menu has discounted beers ranging from Karl Strauss Brewing Company-crafted Aurora Hoppyalis IPA to Coors Light. House wines and sangria, well drinks and Libre Margaritas are also on sale. Another recent special is not confined to happy hour: Dew and a Brew, featuring a beer and a shot of Tullamore Dew blended Irish whiskey.

MINDY SCHAUER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

3. El Torito

Multiple locations; eltorito.com El Torito’s $4, $6 and $8 menus, not to mention a $2 discount on the Grande Fiesta Platter, have become a happy hour staple at the eateries which bring in strong afternoon/early evening crowds. Happy hour begins at 3 p.m. in the cantinas daily, except Dana Point, which does not have weekend happy hours. On the liquor end, patrons can order tequila shots, 16-ounce drafts and well drinks off the $4 menu; signature margaritas, schooners and call drinks of the $6 portion; and for $8, mojitos, or a newly added Paloma tequila cocktail or spicy mango margarita. Food menu items feature selections that include street corn, mini tacos, loaded nachos, Mexican style sliders and the new steak and chorizo gorditas at different price points. And, of course, the Fiesta Platter which includes Buffalo tenders or wings, flauta, quesadilla, nachos supreme, plus guacamole and dipping sauces. Although El Torito had to close a number of restaurants in recent years and was bought out of bankruptcy by Xperience Restaurant Group, the new owners say the contraction is over for the time being. THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 73


» BEST

ICE CREAM/FROZEN YOGURT 2. Baskin-Robbins Multiple locations; baskinrobbins.com

Over 70 years ago, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins brainstormed an idea of giving customers the choice of 31 ice cream flavors. Keep in mind, everyone else at the time was mainly serving only chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream. The founders loved everything about ice cream, even going as far as having an ice cream shaped pool in Robbins’ backyard. To date, Baskin-Robbins has created more than 1,300 flavors since opening the first store back in 1945. Not only can guests get their favorite ice cream flavors, they can also get cakes, too, with any flavor they would like. Baskin-Robbins cakes include the unicorn cake, mermaid cake, Oreo triple chocolate cake, and the baseball cake. On to the flavors, there are obviously 31 flavors to choose from at any given time. Flavors range from the more classic such as chocolate and vanilla, and on to the crazier flavors like cotton candy, daiquiri ice, green tea, and triple mango.

MINDY SCHAUER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Golden Spoon won the best ice cream/frozen yogurt category in the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards.

1. Golden Spoon Multiple locations

Golden Spoon is a frozen yogurt chain that is headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita and has multiple locations throughout Orange County. Not many people know that Golden Spoon also has a few international locations in Asia as well. However, no matter where guests get their yogurt, Golden Spoon always provides its signature golden spoon for guests to eat with. As for options, guests can choose from a few different sizes, the most notable being the mini size, which allows guests to get a sweet little craving of Golden Spoon’s yogurt without getting too weighed down while costing less than $5. Golden Spoon also allows guests to get more than one flavor per bowl, including the mini bowls. The flavors themselves range from 74 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

the classics such as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, to the more unique like peanut butter, European tart and cake batter. One thing that many customers note about Golden Spoon is the taste of its product, saying it surpasses that of other chains in Orange County. In fact, people have mentioned missing the chain after moving away to other states. There is also a large range of toppings to choose from. Toppings include everything from fresh fruit like strawberries to crumbled up sandwich cookies, gummy bears, chocolate chips and hot fudge. Lastly, the staff is always known for service with a smile, and most locations will even have cartoons playing on the televisions for kids to enjoy. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Rich Farm Ice Cream

901 E. Yorba Linda Blvd., Placentia; 714-854-7424; richfarmicecreamca.com The first Rich Farm Ice Cream was founded by David and Dawn Rich on a dairy farm in Connecticut in 1994. This dairy farm originated five generations ago starting with David’s great-grandfather, Raffaele Ajello. In the 1970s, grandsons Dave and Don Rich took over the dairy business, and continue to operate the farm to this day. Rich Farm Ice Cream was opened by Dave and Dawn Rich and their children to enhance the experience of their dairy farm. Their success prompted Dawn’s younger brother, John, to open a shop on the West Coast in 2016. The ice cream store uses only high quality, non-GMO dairy from local farms, and high-quality ingredients from the freshest fruit to the richest hot fudge. Some of the original flavors include Razzmanian Devil, Cookie Monster banana marshmallow and German chocolate brownie.


THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 75


» BEST

ITALIAN RESTAURANT

1. Fratellino’s by Cesar Lomeli

600 S. Brea Blvd., Brea; 714-255-9100; www.fratellinos.com Cesar Lomeli has his opinions about restaurant critics. However, as long as patrons continue to flock to his restaurant and rave about the food by consistently choosing his homey eatery as their top choice, the critics can write what they like. “This is voted by the people,” Lomeli said. Fratellino’s by Cesar Lomeli has an 11-year streak as a top three choice in Orange County. “The public are the ones that put us on top,” he said. Lomeli cut his teeth in restaurants, working at his older brother’s Lomeli’s in Gardena. Since the family name was taken, he chose Fratellino, or little brother, when he set out on his own in 2000. The younger Lomeli was in Fullerton for 10 years, before moving to the larger space in Brea, where he became a consistent hit with diners. The fare is straightforward with combination plates of

PAUL BERSEBACH, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Cesar and Gabriela Lomeli own Fratellino’s by Cesar Lomeli in Brea. The eatery was voted best Italian restaurant in the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards. ravioli, spaghetti and lasagna. The restaurant also has build-your-own pizza and pasta options. A signature dinner entree, Lomeli said, is

2. Roma D’Italia

611 El Camino Real, Tustin; 714-544-0273; www.romaditalia.com Generations of the Correa family have been at the helm, and in the kitchen, of Roma d’Italia, helping to make it an institution among restaurants in Tustin. In 1968, the late Dominic Correa bought the restaurant, which had opened in 1961. His wife Nina’s family recipes became the backbone of the restaurant. Dominic, after all, was a carpenter and, legend has it, would whip out a ruler to measure lasagna before it was served. Since then, the restau-

rant has been a go-to destination for those seeking a classic Italian dining experience. The restaurant was remodeled in 2011 but still has a kitschy Italian vibe down to the depictions of the capocuoco to the redand-white checkerboard linens. There are 14 fish, 10 chicken and four veal dishes and more than 20 signature pastas to choose from. And that doesn’t include pizzas, bread, appetizers and hot sandwiches.

76 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

chicken marsala, which is made with a hint of the restaurant’s secret alfredo sauce. Complete dinners include complimentary red wine for patrons 21 years

and older, soup or salad and ice cream. “We have good food and our prices are very reasonable,” Lomeli said. — Greg Mellen

3. Peppino’s Italian Family Restaurant

Multiple locations; facebook.com/PeppinosItalian Peppino is a diminutive of Joe, but there is nothing small about the string of restaurants owner Joe Moscatiello started in Orange County. From his first restaurant, opened in Lake Forest in 1984, Peppino’s peaked at eight locations, before settling back to its current number of four, plus a thriving catering business. Moscatiello learned to cook Italian food in New York at the knee of his Naplese mother, Antonetta. That authenticity was brought to California and helped make Peppino’s a

perpetual contender among OC diners as a Best of OC finalist. The restaurant’s large menu features ravioli, torellini, lasagna, calzone, soups, salads and pasta plates with your choice of pasta and a dozen sauces. There are also chicken, steak, lamb, veals and seafood dishes. No pizza, however. Two years ago in Lake Forest, the adjoining bar, Joe’s Place — well, Joe’s other place — was expanded to share space with the dining room, allowing diners to order from the bar.


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w w w. FR ATE LLinOS.cOM THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 77


» BEST

MEXICAN RESTAURANT

MARK RIGHTMIRE, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Umbrellas are set up to shade customers at Avila’s El Ranchito in the restaurant’s parking lot near the Plaza in Orange.

1. Avila’s El Ranchito

Multiple locations; avilaselranchito.com Avila’s El Ranchito has 13 locations throughout Orange County and has roots from Guanajuato, Mexico — meaning the cuisine is the real deal. The restaurant came to be over 50 years ago when Salvador Avila immigrated to Orange County bringing his family favorite recipes and a dream to America. The restaurant is still family owned and operated

to this day as Avila’s children and grandchildren have stepped up to manage their own respective stores. When it first opened in Huntington Park in 1966, the restaurant had only five picnic tables to its name, but has become the local Mexican food behemoth it is today with its commitment to quality and authentic recipes. The restaurant is known

2. Moreno’s Restaurant

4328 E Chapman Ave., Orange; 714-639-2181; morenosrestaurant.com are baked daily. As for Moreno’s Restaurant brunch, it is a mustis known for the dinner experience situation as selection on the menu, the restaurant offers a but also for an amazing complimentary glass of brunch too. The Morechampagne and includes no’s property includes dishes like huevos a 19th century Quaker rancheros, avocado church, which still hosts omelets and more. many weddings today For dinner, the options and boasts a charming include everything from and authentic Mexican combination plates to ambiance. Weddings staples such as burritos, include a buffet style tostadas, tacos and dinner complete with all more. The kids’ menu of the bride and groom’s for children under 12 favorite dishes. features items such as a The restaurant also has taco, a taquito, mini bean an on-site bakery where and cheese burrito, and a guests can purchase fresh cheese enchilada. bread and desserts that 78 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

for both its dine-in options as well as the fiestas it hosts with its catering options. Avila’s offers banquet space in six of its locations that can host business meetings, showers, birthdays, weddings and more. The party trays can feed an army, and the authentic Mexican vibe is second to none. Some of the delicious menu items include everything from local specials to Impossible meat combinations for the vegetarians. Start the

meal with fresh ceviche or a towering plate of Nachos Especial, then move on to Mama Avila’s Soup, which is a steaming bowl of chicken and rice soup just like an abuela would make. Enjoy sizzling fajitas, California chicken in tomatillo sauce, or get a large burrito. Make sure to drop in for taco Tuesday, which is offered from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every Tuesday and includes three crispy tacos with frijoles and guacamole for less than $11. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Blue Agave Southwest Grill

18601 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda; 714-970-5095; blueagaveswgrill.com tostada. Also, the take-out Since 1994, Blue Agave drink prices can’t be beat as Southwest Grill has served Blue Agave offers $5 house local flavors and favorites margaritas, $10 bottles of found throughout Mexico, wine, and $2 bottle of beer South America and the with a food purchase during American Southwest to select hours. hungry guests throughout Ever had plantain Orange County. Blue Agave’s nachos? Guests are invited catering also offers fanto try this interesting menu favorite dishes as well as item that is composed spirits, beer and wine. of fried plantains, fresh The menu consists of mango, tamarind BBQ crowd pleasing Mexican pulled pork, shredded meals but also encourages lettuce, mango dressing, guests to try specialty items such as the Mahi Mahi and cotija cheese. As for Mazatlan Mango Wrap, Kiva entrees, try the crispy fish grilled steak and shrimp, tacos, Arizona chicken mole Montego coconut shrimp, enchiladas or one of the or the Puerto Nuevo heaping combination plates.


Celebrating our 50th Anniversary! Established in 1969 and family owned to this day, Moreno’s is the best Mexican restaurant for lunch, dinner, or take out.

VOTED

BEST WATERFRONT DINING IN ORANGE COUNTY T H A N K YO U !

361 Cliff Drive Laguna Beach, CA 92651

9 4 9 . 4 9 7. 5 4 3 4

Come celebrate with us and enjoy some of the Best Mexican Food from our restaurant and panaderia!

Restaurant Hours Monday-Thursday: 11am-8:30pm Friday & Saturday: 11am-9:30pm Sunday: 10am-8pm 4328 E. Chapman Ave. Orange, CA 92869 (714) 639-2181

www.morenosrestaurant.com Follow us on

L AS B R I SAS L AG U N A B E AC H . C O M THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 79


» BEST

PIZZA 2. Tony’s Little Italy 1808 N. Placentia Ave., Unit B, Placentia; 714-528-2159; tonyslittleitaly.com

Palermo-born founder Tony Manzella’s Tony’s Little Italy serves up the classics with a dash of Chicago attitude. Walk in and talk Da Bears, Bulls, Cubs or Ditka!, and you’ll instantly gain the respect of the family that has run the pizzeria since 1978. The large mural on the back wall of Wrigley Field is a clue about the shop’s sports alliances. However, you won’t score points looking for neo-artisanal fare. That said, you can build your own pie with 14 toppings to choose from in either deep dish or thin crust without a “wassa-matta-you?” Pizzas are made fresh to order with homemade crust. The menu also includes a variety of spaghetti dishes or entrees such as eggplant à la parmigiana or lasagna à la villa or baked mostaccioli with meatball or sausage. Sandwiches, buffalo wings and daily lunch specials are also available.

3. Pizza Hut

Multiple locations; pizzahut.com MINDY SCHAUER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza Store was voted best pizza by voters in the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards.

1. Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza Store Newport Beach, Aliso Viejo; sgtpepps.com When Jeff Roberts, Stan Frazier, Rob Dodman and Andy Hong decided to go into the restaurant business together in 2013, they weren’t just four successful businessmen. They were four friends with a shared memory and love of one of their favorite childhood pizza hangout joints. When it became available, they jumped. Sgt. Pepperoni’s was founded in 1976 and became an iconic, albeit somewhat down in the mouth, spot when these four horsemen came to the rescue. Now, the partners are surfing a wedge-worthy wave of success, not only winning the top pizza place in the Best of OC, but also launching a new store in Aliso Viejo and a food truck in 2019. Although the restaurant has been 80 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

a family-owned local institution, the new team has kicked it up a notch. “Beside fresh ingredients, everything is hand-made, nothing is premade,” said Lilly Shamma, general manager of the Newport Beach store. “We even shred our own cheese.” As the name may indicate, pepperoni is central to the pizzeria’s identity. Shamma said the store buys its own “secret” high-end brand, identifiable by the way it “cups up” when cooked. Another favorite, she said, is a meatball pizza with ricotta cheese. The store’s interior is Beatles-themed, naturally, and there is a selection of craft beers on tap, including a home brew: Sgt. Pep’s Pilsner. — Greg Mellen

In recent years, Pizza Hut has skated a narrow space between lowcost contenders such as Domino’s and independent and eat-in “artisanal” restaurants. In 2019, Pizza Hut announced it would close 500 restaurants, mostly dine-in, and was overtaken by Domino’s in sales in 2018. However, the “Hut,” is rallying. As part of the massive Yum Brands, owners of KFC and Taco Bell and other fast-food franchises, it has the backing needed for a comeback. Innovations include a loyalty program, cubby-style pick up, a lower-cost $5-and-up menu and beer at more eat-in restaurants. It has even changed the recipe for the original pan pizza. And don’t forget, it was the “Hut” that brought you stuffed crust pizzas. At Pizza Hut, diners can still get the standards at nominal prices, but the menu is large enough to include five kinds of chicken pizza and, of course, build-your-own pizzas. There are also wings, pastas and box dinners.


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EATPHILLYSBEST.COM THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 81


» BEST

SEAFOOD

NANCY LUNA, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

King’s Fish House was voted the top seafood restaurant as part of the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards.

1. King’s Fish House

2. Water Grill

3300 Bristol St., Costa Mesa; 949-208-7060; watergrill.com

3. Fly N Fish

Huntington Beach, Laguna Hills, Orange; kingsfishhouse.com King’s Fish House has the goal to provide the ultimate seafood experience at its three Orange County locations. During the early days of King’s Fish House, its founders toured the country looking for some of the best seafood recipes for inspiration of this great seafood spot. The pleasure they received from trying comfort classics to new and exciting dishes inspired the King’s Fish House we know and love today. The idea of King’s Fish House is that the restaurant wants guests to feel that they have been invited into someone’s house to enjoy a delicious seafood meal. It’s about the camaraderie and celebration of the freshest seafood as well as the dishes the seafood loving guest loves best. King’s offers a happy hour 3-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Some of the plates happy hour patrons can get include fish tacos, oyster shooters, and a spicy tuna roll. Drinks are all very well priced to pair with a cost-effective meal as well. As for lunch and dinner, there are plenty of creative and tasty dishes available. Try King’s crab cakes with a homemade remoulade, choose from a large amount of oyster dishes, or dine on wild local spiny lobster. There is also an assortment of sushi available as well as well as fish house favorites including grilled wild Alaskan and halibut tacos, uni pasta with bucatini, and sautéed N’awlins BBQ shrimp. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

Travel to South Coast Plaza to experience the fresh seafood dishes at Water Grill. Guests can dine as a small party, or can book space for a private event complete with an amazing seafood dinner. Choose between a more intimate setting with up to 18 guests, a mid-size party, or large-scale parties that will accommodate up to 500 guests. The décor is sleek and comfortable without being overly fancy, and guests can sit in a wine vault, at a traditional table, or pull up a seat at the fresh oyster bar where diners can see their meal being shucked right in front of their eyes. The menu is large with seafood options spanning from the East Coast to the Pacific Ocean. Order an iced shellfish platter, or try something a little more creative at the raw bar including stingray or sea cow. Don’t forget to get dessert as the restaurant has daily homemade ice creams and sorbets, gooey caramel bread pudding, and maple cheesecake to name a few options.

Located in the very heart of Newport Beach, Fly N Fish is just a mere stroll from the Newport Beach Pier. The restaurant prides itself on three things: It has the freshest seafood available, there is a fun environment, and it has some of the friendliest service around. Seasonal seafood is brought in fresh daily, and the restaurant focuses on the most prominent and responsible seafood purveyors of fine foods from all around the world. Enjoy a traditional bowl of New England clam chowder, dine on succulent oysters Rockefeller, or indulge in cedar planked Skuna Bay salmon. Some of the fresh catches of the day include Alaskan halibut, mahi mahi, sea bass, swordfish, and New Zealand king salmon. Don’t pass up the small plates menu, which has many items for guests to share as well as the signature dessert menu as it boasts vanilla bean ice cream complete with berries, dark chocolate lava cake, and warm banana chocolate bread pudding.

82 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

2304 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach; 949-673-8400; flynfishoysterbar.com


» BEST

STEAKHOUSE

1. Mastro’s Steakhouse

633 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa; 714-546-7405; mastrosrestaurants.com Self-described: “Snazzy chophouse serves decadent plates and drinks to glamorous crowds in a plush supper-club setting,” Mastro’s Steakhouse again takes the cake, or maybe the steak, as the top pick in Orange County. In addition to serving some of the best meats in Orange County, the management of the eatery, purchased by Landry’s Inc. in 2013, says it strives to keep ‘em coming back. Of course, a steakhouse is only as good as its cuts, and Mastro’s features 11 choices of hand-cut steaks from the 8-ounce petit fillet to four choices of the popular and ultra high-end Japanese Wagyu steaks. American steaks are 28 days wet-aged USDA Prime, cooked in a 1,500-degree broiler and served sizzling with clarified butter on plates heated to 450 degrees. Its seafood offerings consist of numerous choices, such as New Zealand

COURTESY OF MASTRO’S STEAKHOUSE

Mastro’s Steakhouse in Costa Mesa has a huge selection of steaks and chops. salmon, dual lobster tails and Alaskan king crab legs. There is also chicken and rack of lamb. Appetizers such as caviar and an exclusive sushi selections are available.

2. La Cave

1695 Irvine Ave., Costa Mesa; 949-646-7944; lacaverestaurant.com For 58 years, the cozy Costa Mesa restaurant has served a simple fare with a retro flair. La Cave opened on Valentine’s Day 1962, and it seems little but the utensils and linen have changed. The place breathes ‘60s Americana. The restaurant’s literature reads, “We take pride in our fresh selection of meats, generous portions, best in class service, and our signature warm, romantic 1960’s ambiance.” The menu is basic with six cuts of steak: 9-ounce filet mignon, 24-ounce

porterhouse, 16-ounce boneless ribeye, 11-ounce New York steak, prime rib and medallions of beef with Bordelaise sauce. Seafood choices are Australian lobster tail, Alaskan king crab legs and halibut and swordfish. Entrees come with garlic cheese bread, soup or salad, twice baked potato or rice pilaf and a vegetable. There is a fully stocked bar, craft beer selection and a number of wines that pair well with the meals, including a number of “La Cave Traditions” red wines from Napa and Sonoma.

Top-shelf wines, handmade cocktails and liquor and a decadent warm butter cake complete the experience. Since being acquired by Landry’s Inc., Mastro’s has grown into a popular

chain with the well-heeled crowd, with 18 high-end restaurants nationally. There is often live music. Mastro’s also enforces what it says is a “strict” dress code. — Greg Mellen

3. Morton’s The Steakhouse Anaheim and Santa Ana; mortons.com Morton’s The Steakhouse was founded in 1978 in Chicago after, as the legend goes, one co-founder served the other the best hamburger he’d ever tasted. Much has changed since then, including ownership, twice, and expansion to more than 50 restaurants nationally. However, the company, now owned by restaurant mega-chain Landry’s Inc., maintains a three-fold vision: “Quality. Consistency. Genuine Hospitality.” Two Orange County locations maintain the standard, serving only USDA Prime meats.

Morton’s cuts are aged for 23-28 days and custom-cut per Morton’s specification. The menu features nine steak choices, ranging from a 6-ounce filet mignon to a 42-ounce porterhouse, plus “The Original Prime Morton’s Burger” that started it all. There are also fish dishes. Desserts include Morton’s “legendary” hot chocolate cake. The bar is well stocked and features a wide selection of original and hand-crafted mixed drinks. There are also plenty of single spirits and even wine and whiskey flights.

THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 83


» BEST

SUSHI

CINDY YAMANKA, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

From left, albacore, salmon, halibut and seared yellowtail sushi are served at Yama Sushi and Grill in Mission Viejo.

1. Yama Sushi

27782 Vista Del Lago C-22, Mission Viejo; 949-716-9262; yamasushionthelake.com Yama Sushi uses the freshest and highest-quality ingredients available. Yama Sushi also will not settle for anything but the best and most highly trained Japanese chefs who create the finest sushi rolls on a nightly basis. Diners not only come to Yama Sushi

for the terrific sushi and entrees, but also for the environment and swanky ambiance. In fact, Yama Sushi is known for its picturesque views as it sits right on Lake Mission Viejo. Yama Sushi also has great prices considering the prime ingredients being used.

2. Full Moon Sushi

Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Tustin Full Moon Sushi opened its doors to its first location in Fountain Valley in 2001, and ever since then it has become an extremely popular spot for diners to enjoy their favorite Japanese delicacies. From there, the restaurant opened another location in Costa Mesa in 2007 as well as in Tustin in 2009. Full Moon Sushi is known for its great service, delicious food and wonderful selection. The staff at Full Moon Sushi says every hour is happy hour because the prices are some of the

best for sushi in Orange County. Not to mention it is family friendly, which brings guests with kids back to Full Moon Sushi time and time again. Customers can even buy fashionable hats and t-shirts to support their favorite sushi joint too. Make sure to try the popular Healthy Full Moon Roll, Hawaiian Roll or a fresh poke bowl. There are also delicious dishes outside of sushi such as vegetable tempura, sesame chicken, gyoza (pork dumplings), and fried tofu.

84 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

However, if customers want an even better price on their sushi, Yama Sushi hosts Sushi Tuesday with sushi rolls 40 to 50 percent off the regular price. This Tuesday tradition became a customer favorite in 2008 when the promotion was started, and has been a staple to the business ever since. Customers also have the ability to choose a variety of ways to eat their food as well. Omakase style is

where chefs prepare items of their choosing in front of customers where they can see it being made. There is also a five-course meal that includes a delicious dessert. Along with sushi, there are also entrees available such as udon or rice bowls. There is also a kids menu available, which has chicken, salmon and beef teriyaki; chicken nuggets, and kids’ sushi. — Jessie Dax-Setkus

3. Shunka Sushi

369 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa; 949-631-9854; shunkasushi.com Shunka Sushi is a Japanese spot specializing in some of the freshest sushi in Orange County. The restaurant only offers classically trained chefs who are known for carefully crafting authentic items using fish bought directly from Japan every day at the sushi bar. Shunka Sushi also prides itself on using fish so flavorful that no wasabi or other additions are necessary in boosting the flavors of the fish, vegetables and rice. The fish purchased at Shunka Sushi is not as widely available as your typical

sushi joint has to offer, and the sushi the restaurant has available is prepared with the freshest and most authentic ingredients available. Guests must also try the wide variety of sake the restaurant has available to pair perfectly with their sushi. Choose between everything from a California cut roll, to a salmon avocado roll, or a spice tuna hand roll. Shunka also serves fresh salads and sashimi including big eye tuna, fresh water eel and albacore. No menu option will disappoint.


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THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 85


» BEST

APARTMENT COMMUNITY

1. Newport Bluffs Apartment Homes

100 Vilaggio, Newport Beach; 844-277-3455; irvinecompanyapartments.com The gated community of Newport Bluffs is a richly landscaped development of three distinct villages inspired by Old World Italian towns. The surrounding scenic coastal foothills of Bonita Canyon make for nice views from many of the apartments. With townhome and single-level options, Newport Bluffs includes 30 separate floor plans; each has fully equipped chef kitchens, a private patio or balcony, in-home washer and dryer and central air conditioning. Some come with private, one or two-car garages and gas fireplaces. The smallest floor plan is the only studio on offer at Newport Bluffs — a 549-square-foot unit in the Residencia village starting at $1,925 a month. One-bedroom units in the Residencia and Loggia villages range from 683 square feet starting at $2,255 a month to 1,152 square feet over two levels starting at $3,150 a month. There are 15 two-

COURTESY OF IRVINE COMPANY

Newport Bluffs Apartment Homes in Newport Beach was named the best apartment community by Register readers as part of the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards. bedroom floor plans in the Residencia, Loggia and Rivoli villages, starting at 945 square feet and going up to 1,395 square feet over two levels; pricing details are unavailable. Lastly, there is one three-bedroom floor plan in Residencia and five three-bedroom

2. Broadstone Arden

1951 E. Dyer Road, Santa Ana; 844-379-1841; broadstonearden.com Broadstone Arden welcomed its first tenants in November 2019, becoming the first residential community to open in Allied Residential’s Park and Paseo district. With 335 units of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans, sizes range from 594 square feet to 1,956 square feet, starting at $1,905 a month. All come with washers and dryers, private patios or balconies, walk-in closets, stainless steel appliances, Nest thermostats and keyless entry.

A lot of attention was paid to design elements in the common areas. “The Instagrammable spaces allow residents and guests to easily tap into the aesthetically pleasing dynamics of luxury living,” said Lauren Blum, Alliance Residential’s marketing director for Southern California. Community features of note include a rooftop pool with a glass-edge spa, a two-story gym and spa retreat with a Himalayan salt room. A game lounge features an interactive golf simulator.

86 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

townhome plans available in Rivoli; square footage starts at 1,317 square feet and prices at $3,425 a month. The three resort-style pools with spas include plenty of lounge seating and private cabanas. Adding to the resort feeling are several

outdoor fireplaces and seating areas, two lighted tennis courts, a fitness center and aerobics studio, and a clubhouse with a catering kitchen for group events. A unique offering is a private wine room. — Kathie Bozanich

3. Gateway Apartment Homes 299 N. State College Blvd., Orange; 844-848-2383; irvinecompanyapartments.com The Gateway Apartment Homes, operated by Irvine Co. Apartment Communities, has many of the amenities you would find in a high-end resort community: Multiple pool areas, lush tropical landscaping and attractive, stylishly decorated common areas. Located in the Platinum Triangle area and straddling the Orange/ Anaheim border, Gateway offers studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartment homes, some featuring lofts; furnished units are available. The units have

a private patio or balcony, many with a view of landscaped courtyards. Monthly rents start at $2,780 for a 618-square-foot studio, $1,925 for a 729-square-foot one bedroom and $2,380 for a 1,077-square-foot two bedroom. Apartments also have you covered on the workat-home front, with built-in shelves and computer desks already in place. Community features include four pools and spas with waterfalls, along with poolside cabanas with private TVs and stereos.


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» BEST

APPLIANCE STORE

LEONARD ORTIZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Save More Appliance in Santa Ana was named the best appliance store in Orange County by Register readers.

1. Save More Appliance

2. Sears

1805 E. Dyer Road, #111, Santa Ana; 714-892-7433; savemoreappliance.com

2100 N. Tustin St., Orange; 714-282-3600; sears.com

In 2006, Save More Appliance shifted its focus from audio/visual equipment to appliances, but kept the same business model and it’s made the Santa Ana-based open box supplier readers’ favorite spot to keep their kitchens and laundry rooms up-to-date. Save More has long built a following among real estate industry professionals, with builders and investors turning to them for appliances, but, the general public is welcome to shop here too and, after a move to a newer, more retail-based location, the store has seen more people come into outfit their own homes. For those customers, what they want is changing as well. “A lot of people are actually doing their whole kitchen,” says Save More Appliance President Ray Hunt. While the store was used to people stopping by to replace a refrigerator or a dishwasher, now it’s seeing more customers coming in for full kitchen suites. Save More Appliance is a popular choice for its low prices on high-quality products, with brands such as Thermador, Bosch and Gaggenau among its most popular, and prices tend to be about 30% lower than what you would normally see in stores. The inventory is in constant flux, so your best bet is to stop by the retail space and see what’s in stock at the moment. — Liz Ohanesian

It’s been a struggle for 128-year-old department store Sears in recent years. Sears Holdings filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and was purchased by Transformco the following year. A succession of store closures followed, including the Buena Park location, which shuttered in February. Sears at the Mall of Orange is the company’s last remaining full department store in the county, but it remains a favorite among readers. Sears Outlet locations, rebranded as American Freight, still exist in Brea and Santa Ana. And, of course, there’s always the online store, still stocked with major appliances like Kenmore refrigerators and General Electric washing machines, and kitchen treats like a faux vintage popcorn machine or a cotton candy maker.

88 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

3. Howard’s Appliance TV & Mattress

Multiple locations; 844-469-2737 howards.com Howard’s roots are in San Gabriel, where founder Howard Roach began repairing radios back in 1946, and has since gone on to become a Southern California institution with locations in Westminster, Irvine and Laguna Hills. Now, the chain is employee-owned, meaning that everyone who works there has a stake in the business. While Howard’s carries the greatest hits in the appliance game, the store’s selection also includes high-end, contemporary lines, such as GE’s Cafe Appliance refrigerators, Lynx’s sleek outdoor kitchen gear and Big Green Egg’s cult-favorite grills. The store offers a 60-day price-match guarantee and free, next-day delivery.


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» BEST

BLIND / SHUTTER STORE

LEONARD ORTIZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

A New View Windows and Doors in Anaheim was named the best blind and shutter store in Orange County as part of the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards.

1. A New View Windows & Doors 3445 East La Palma Ave., Anaheim; 714-953-7663; anewviewwindows.com For A New View, consistency is key. Jamie and Cash Cockerill started the company in 2001 with an emphasis on windows, doors and siding. Nearly 20 years later, both Cockerills remain hands-on owners of the business and Jamie credits longevity as the reason

behind their popularity. “We’ve pretty much mastered the whole business from the products we sell to the way that they’re installed,” she says. The company has also made regular appearances on the Best of Orange County list over the years. “I think

2. Bockman’s Drapery, Upholstery, Carpet, Blinds

1008 N. Tustin Ave., Anaheim; 714-630-4455; bockmaninteriors.com Sometimes, customers mention to Jon Bockman that their drapes were hung by his grandfather. Right now, though, shutters, as well as roller and Roman shades, are popular. “People are looking for a lighter, more airy, open look, but they still want to be able to have full coverage,” says Bockman. The Anaheim store that bears his family’s name is actually a merger of three Bockman businesses. There’s the drapery company that

his grandmother started in the 1940s, his dad’s upholstery shop, which dates back to 1967, and his own business, launched in 1991 with an emphasis on shutters and decorative fabrics. Today, Bockman’s has become a go-to spot for people looking to keep their home improvements local. “Even with our shutters and a lot of our blinds,” says Bockman, “I think that a lot of our customers like the fact that we make them here.”

90 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

that’s a testament to what kind of business we run and the satisfaction of our customers,” Jamie Cockerill says. Earlier this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the company had its concerns. “We were worried, what is this going to look like?” Jamie says. Back in March, they wondered if the jobs they had on deck would remain. Jamie recalls asking customers, “Do you still want us to come

out and install?” Most of the time, the answer was yes. While business was slower in March and April, it picked up again by May and kept going strong into the summer. They’ve joked, she says, that with so much time at home, people are figuring what needs to be replaced. On the shade front, that’s often meant roller and Roman styles, which are very popular right now. — Liz Ohanesian

3. Orange County Shutters

7649 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove; 714-891-0090; orangecountyshutters.com One of Rebecca Gloudeman’s clients walks by her house daily and continues to commend the owner of Orange County Shutters. “People like to have a local company,” says Gloudeman. “Even though we are a high volume company, we still have the small town mentality level because we live in the area.” It’s a family-run company as well. One of Gloudeman’s sons is the showroom manager and handles sales, while another just turned 18 and is learning the business. Gloudeman has been in the business for over 25 years. Her degree is in

interior design and she started out doing just that. In 2010, though, she changed the business name to Orange County Shutters Corporation to reflect their most popular product. Over the years, the store has remained popular, with newer styles bringing the classic window coverings to contemporary home designs. “They’re more of a luxury item,” says Gloudeman. “The people who get them are people who have had shutters before in their home and realize what a beautiful product it is and how it upgrades the value of their home.”


ORANGE COUNTY SHUTTERS & WINDOW FASHIONS

Thank You For Voting Best of Orange County 2020

At Orange County Shutters we are the one stop shop for all your window covering needs. We are the 2020 Winners for Orange County Register’s Best Of OC Window Coverings/ Shutters. We specialize in plantation shutters, draperies, and all other window coverings and bedding. We have been in the window covering and interior design industry in beautiful Southern California for over 25 years. We are a family owned and operated corporation who specialize in great customer service and exceptional knowledge of the industry. We offer a very high end plantation shutter at a very affordable price. Whether you have a standard window, sliding door, french door, arched top window, octagon window, or any other specialty shape, Orange County Shutters can custom make a beautiful and elegant custom shutter just for you.

Specializing in Shutters, Shades, Blinds, Draperies, Motorized and more 7649 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92841

714-891-0090

www.OrangeCountyShutters.com THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 91


» BEST

CITY TO LIVE IN

1. Irvine

cityofirvine.org For the past 24 years, Best of Orange County voters have been asked to name the county’s best city to live in. Irvine has never failed to place in the top 3, and it has been the top vote recipient for 13 of those years and ranked second for 10 more. Many reasons are cited for Irvine’s livability. It routinely ranks among the nation’s safest cities and has recorded the lowest per capita crime rate for cities with 250,000 or more residents for the past 14 years. Its acclaimed school system is a major draw for home buyers. Mayor Christina Shea points to Irvine’s abundance of recreational amenities, which include 20 community parks, 40 neighborhood parks, 179 acres of sports fields and more than 63 miles of off-

PAUL BERSEBACH, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

A woman walks on Quail Trail in Irvine. Part of Irvine, from the Spectrum Center on the right to the 133 toll road to the left, is seen in the distance. Irvine was named best city to live in. street bicycle trails. “We have the bike trails, the hiking trails — it’s an outdoor environment,” Shea said. Irvine was one of America’s first masterplanned cities, which has helped guide the

2. Newport Beach newportbeachca.gov

Newport Beach is many things: An affluent city of more than 85,000 residents, a tourist destination known for its 10 miles of pristine beaches and a foodie haven with hundreds of top-notch restaurants. But Newport Beach isn’t any one thing — it’s a community of distinct villages, including the 3-mile-long visitor mecca of Balboa Peninsula, the quaint enclave of Balboa Island, the commercial hub of Newport Center and Fashion Island, the seaside haven of Corona del Mar and the more recently developed resort area of Newport Coast. The peninsula is how most tourists experience Newport, with attractions such as the Newport and

Balboa piers, the Balboa Fun Zone, the historic Balboa Pavilion and the Balboa Ferry, which connects the peninsula to Balboa Island. The stretch is bordered on one side by the Pacific Ocean and on the other by bustling Newport Harbor. At the end of the peninsula is The Wedge, the world-famous surfing and bodyboarding spot where swells are magnified by bouncing off the rock jetty at the harbor’s entrance. On the inland side of Pacific Coast Highway is the Back Bay, a prime spot for activities such as kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. The Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve features trails for hiking and jogging.

92 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

community’s development from a hamlet of just over 10,000 people in 1971 at its incorporation to its current estimated population of more than 281,000. The composition of that population has changed over time and people

of color now make up a majority of residents, with 41.2% of Asian ancestry and 9.7% identifying as Latino. “We’ve grown into a much more multi-ethnic and diverse community over the past 20 years,” Shea said. — Jeffrey Miller

3. Huntington Beach huntingtonbeachca.gov

The place that adopted the trademark Surf City USA does live up to its name, with hundreds of surfers hitting the waves starting before dawn each day along Huntington Beach’s 9.5 miles of shoreline. Surf spots stretch from the southeast end of Huntington State Beach near the Santa Ana River to Bolsa Chica State Beach and Sunset Beach to the northwest, but the city’s best-known surfing spot is along its landmark pier. The current 1,850-foot pier, which opened in July 1992, is the city’s focal point, attracting not just surfers, but fishermen, strollers, joggers and tourists. The pier adjoins Main Street, which attracts hordes of visitors

with its surf shops, boutiques, restaurants and bars. The corner of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway is the home of the Surfing Walk of Fame, which honors the sport’s pioneers and legends with granite stones in the sidewalk. Each summer, throngs descend on the area for the U.S. Open of Surfing. Of course, most of Huntington Beach’s 200,000 or so residents don’t live directly on the beach, but in the neighborhoods of homes and apartments that span the city’s 28 square miles and stretch several miles inland. However, they can still access the coast by bicycle. The Huntington Beach Bike Trail is often packed with cyclists, joggers, walkers and skaters.


Best Bakery

850C Best Breakfast

Stacks Pancake House Best Brunch

THE CUT Handcrafted Burgers Best Brunch & Best Happy Hour

El Torito Best Burger

In-N-Out Burger Best Burger

The Habit Burger Grill Best Craft Brewery

BJ’s Restaurants & Brewhouse Best Family Friendly Restaurant

Ruby’s Diner Best Family Friendly Restaurant

STONEFIRE Grill Best Happy Hour

Yard House Best Pizza

First Class Pizza Best Furniture Store

Living Spaces Best Kitchen/Bath Remodeling Specialists

Sea Pointe Construction Best Charitable Organization

Orange County United Way Best Credit Union

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Best Credit Union

Wescom Credit Union Best Fitness Center

LA Fitness Best Fitness Center

The City of Irvine congratulates our Best of OC winners and finalists

24 Hour Fitness Best Fitness Center

Orangetheory Fitness Best Hospital

Hoag Hospital Best Place to get a Grab-and-Go Meal

BurntZilla Best Shopping/Dining Destination

Irvine Spectrum Center Best Tutoring Service

Kumon Best Tutoring Service

Stowell Learning Center Best Farmers Market

Irvine Farmers Market

#WeAreIrvine

Best College/University

University of California, Irvine THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 93


» BEST

DOOR / WINDOW COMPANY 2. Metropolitan High Performance Windows 940 E. Orangethorpe Ave., G, Anaheim; 800-995-8878; mhiwindows.com

There’s no sales team with Metropolitan Windows. If you reach out to the Anaheim-based company, you’ll be talking to Paul Richart. “Every customer is going to be dealing directly with the owner,” Richart says by phone. This method, he adds, allows Metropolitan to offer “no-nonsense, haggle-free” quotes. “I’m just trying to find the right window to fit their budget and what they’re looking for.” There’s no showroom either. Richart, who bought the company several years ago and inherited Metropolitan’s longtime staff, focuses on home visits with customers. Right now, many of those customers are looking for energy efficient window and door solutions, as well as ways to maximize their view. “People are enlarging windows, opening up walls so that they can have a bigger viewing area for their yard, front and back,” he says. Door trends, he says, are similar. “People are wanting to make their house more pleasant to be there, like a vacation in your backyard because you’re stuck at your house. They’re opening things up.” LEONARD ORTIZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

A New View Windows & Doors in Anaheim was voted the best door/ window company in the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards.

1. A New View Windows & Doors 3445 East La Palma Ave., Anaheim; 714-953-7663; anewviewwindows.com At A New View, customers’ tastes in doors and windows have been fairly consistent since Jamie and Cash Cockerill opened shop in 2001. What does change, though, is the color. Although white is the long-running favorite, right now, black and bronze are gaining popularity. When it comes to windows, Jamie Cockerill adds, frames are shrinking. “People want as much glass as possible and as little frame,” she says. One reason A New View stands out in the doors and windows game is that the company — a regular on the Best of Orange County list — works with a custom door company. “We can pretty much get anything anybody wants built and they’re 94 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

nice quality and they last,” says Jamie. “That’s something we love.” Another reason for the store’s popularity: A New View does entry doors. “There aren’t a ton of companies that do entry doors,” she says, “so we do a lot of them because there’s not a lot of people doing them.” While the company is best known for doors and windows, siding is becoming increasingly popular. “We are doing a lot more siding now than we’ve ever done,” says Jamie. For those looking to improve their homes with as little contact as possible, A New View can offer ballpark estimates with measurements and photos submitted online. — Liz Ohanesian

3. Hardy Windows

1639 E. Miraloma Ave., Placentia; 714-996-1807; orangecountywindowanddoor.com A curious thing happened when the COVID-19 pandemic hit California. At Hardy Windows, sales rose. Freddy Arvizu, marketing and advertising coordinator for the Placentia-based company, had recently crunched the numbers and estimates that there’s been a 10-20% uptick in sales. “People are at home a lot and they’re looking out their doors and windows and they’re realizing that they want to change them,” Arvizu says. Founded in 1989 by Chance Hardy, the company employs 135 people, maintains a 30,000 square foot showroom in Placentia and has commercial branches in San Diego and San Francisco. They’ve long been a go-to source for windows and doors. Maybe customers noticed the Hardy trucks, with their pleasantly nostalgic red and yellow logos, in the neighborhood as well. “A lot of times, when people are calling in, they mention that they’ve seen our trucks driving all around,” Arvizu says. “They had heard about us from their neighbors.”


» BEST

FURNITURE STORE

1. Daniel’s Home Center

355 S. Euclid St., Anaheim; 866-528-1556; danielshomecenter.com Family-owned Daniel’s Home Center opened in 1991 and currently operates three Southern California outposts, including an Anaheim location. The local favorite is a one-stop shop for any home, its offerings including living, dining and bedroom furniture at various price points, as well appliances and electronics. It’s with furniture where Orange County residents show a lot of love for Daniel’s Home Center. Styles are varied, including everything from modern to “rustic artisan.” A bonus for online browsers: product entries include a phone number for further questions on an item. Sales here are fairly frequent. Plus, financing options are available, both online and in-store, and the store has a price match policy for in-store purchases only. All this makes Daniel’s Home Center a budget-friendly destination for large

LEONARD ORTIZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Daniel’s Home Center in Anaheim was voted the best furniture store as part of the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards. purchases that feel like a splurge, no matter how necessary they are. Speaking of large purchases, you may need some help getting that new sectional home or

2. Living Spaces

Huntington Beach, Irvine; 877-266-7300; livingspaces.com You found a sofa that’s almost perfect, but the color just isn’t doing it for you. If you’re making the purchase from Living Spaces, there’s a fix. The Southern California chain with two of its 26 stores located in Orange County has a Design Studio in every location with access to more than 100 different fabrics, any one of which can be used to customize your purchase at no additional charge. The furniture selection at Living Spaces ranges in style from modern

to boho and everything in between. It includes the on-trend lines from celebrity interior designers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent, as well as Magnolia Home by former “Fixer Upper” star Joanna Gaines. Even if you’re planning an in-person visit, it’s a good idea to go through the design tips and catalogs on the website first. You can even use the 3D Room Designer on Living Spaces’ website to see how potential purchases might look in your room.

setting up the bunk bed you just for got the kids. Daniel’s Home Center can help with that too. The store offers delivery and assembly services within 50 miles of the store for an

additional fee. There’s also an Express Delivery option for people within a 10 miles of Daniels. It also offers free pickup from the Anaheim warehouse. — Liz Ohanesian

3. Jerome’s Furniture Multiple locations; jeromes.com “COVID-19 transformed what people require from their homes,” says Jim Navarra, executive vice president of Jerome’s Furniture, by email. “It continues to serve as the anchor for family life, but now must also operate more than one satellite workplace and, in many cases, several virtual classrooms.” Navarra is part of the third-generation at the helm of the Southern California chain of furniture showrooms and mattress retail shops; his grandfather founded Jerome’s Furniture in San Diego. In 66 years, home trends have certainly changed, but, during the

pandemic, they saw a shift in customer needs toward specialty home office furniture and other items that would help them stay at home. Moreover, this past year has made their online customer service more important. All of Jerome’s stores, including the five Orange County locations, have remained open, but they’re also using FaceTime and the Jerome’s mobile app, which uses augmented reality, to work with customers. “These experiences allow them to get a feel for how our products would look and fit in their home while remaining in it,” Navarra says.

THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 95


» BEST

GARDEN CENTER / NURSERY 2. Armstrong Garden Centers

Multiple locations; 626-914-1091; armstronggarden.com The Armstrong Garden Centers chain, with nine stores in Orange County, is guided by providing customers with service that lives up to its registered trademark: Gardening Without Guesswork. This could range from do-it-yourselfers seeking the advice of associates as to what plants to choose that will work best in their gardens to those who seek more extensive landscape services, including landscape design and complete installation of plants, lighting, patios and more. Unlike many other garden centers and nurseries, Armstrong grows its own plants at facilities operated by Armstrong Growers. The result for customers is a wide selection of annuals and perennials, trees, shrubs, roses, vegetables, herbs and fruits that are meant to thrive in Southern California as well as popular and trending houseplants, cacti and other succulents.

JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach was voted the best garden center as part of the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards.

1. Roger’s Gardens

2301 San Joaquin Hills Road, Corona del Mar; 949-640-5800; rogersgardens.com Now in its 55th year, Roger’s Gardens is the place to turn to for something different, something to stand out from others. “I feel that the reason our guests come back over and over again is for the experience of walking through our beautiful grounds, and product displays that give them inspiration,” said Gavin Herbert, the president and owner of Roger’s Gardens. He added that guests also enjoy “the fun of discovering new and unique products, and perhaps most important is the ability to connect with our team members for knowledge and expert advice for gardening and home décor.” Roger’s Gardens offers exclusives like the first-ever fragrant tuberous begonias, which are reliably blooming plants that sweeten the air as well as 96 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

the scenery. Among its new rose offerings for 2020 are the Double Delight hybrid tea rose, the most popular new offering of the last three decades with a cream and blushing red color combination and deep fragrance. Roger’s Gardens themed holiday boutiques are must-see events in the area. The Halloween Boutique transports you into another world with seasonal décor offerings displayed to tell a story; the 2019 theme of “Malice in Wonderland” featured a room full of clocks and tea party setup that was memorable and inspiring. The Christmas Boutique is where to go to get in the spirit with over-the-top ornaments and décor, and the Spring Celebration is all about the reawakening of gardens and getting back outside. — Kathie Bozanich

3. Green Thumb Nursery

23782 Bridger Road, Lake Forest; 949-837-3040; greenthumb.com With more than five acres devoted to plants and creating indoor and outdoor green spaces, Green Thumb Nursery is a place for which to set aside some time so you can wander and imagine the possibilities. Perhaps it’s a citrus tree you want as a step toward sustainability or a few flowering plants for outside or in to lift your spirits. Beyond the basics, the store’s greenhouse is known for its selection of hard-to-find houseplants from around the world. Green Thumb also has a Patio Shop that includes outdoor furniture, replacement cushions, umbrellas, barbecues, fountains and seasonal décor. The Lake Forest store is one of five Green Thumb locations in Southern California; the others are the original store in Canoga Park, established in 1946, and outlets in Ventura, Santa Clarita and San Marcos.


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» BEST

HOME BUILDER

1. KB Home

10990 Wilshire Blvd., Floor 7, Los Angeles (corporate headquarters); 888-524-6637; kbhome.com Founded in 1957 as Kaufman & Broad, KB Home builds homes across eight states and has a current roster of nine projects in Orange County: six in Irvine, two in Anaheim and one in Lake Forest. Appealing to a wide variety of buyers and their tastes, they range from two-bedroom townhomes at Arroyo in Anaheim to five-bedroom single-family homes at Genoa at Orchard Hills in Irvine. KB Home became the first builder to make every new build an Energy Star-certified home and leads the way with more than 140,000 homes built to date that meet and exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s tough set of standards. This pays off for buyers who value energy efficiency, lower costs and comfort. It received a record 21 Energy Star Market Leader Awards this year. Beyond energy efficiency and sustainability, the company values giving its homebuyers as many

PHOTO COURTESY OF KB HOME

A model at KB Home’s Genoa development in Irvine. Homes in the 110-house project come equipped with Delos home wellness systems. choices as possible when it comes to personalizing their homes. This starts with homesite selection and flexible floor plans but extends much further with in-home customization. The KB Home Design Studio in Irvine helps

2. Landsea Homes

660 Newport Center Drive, Suite 300, Newport Beach; 949-345-8080; landseahomes.com Landsea Homes takes its “pioneering commitment to sustainability” seriously as it employs the latest advancements to build in an eco-friendly manner through its High-Performance Homes initiative. Landsea partners with Apple to automate heating and cooling, lights and entryways while striving toward lower energy use and less impact on the environment through the use of sustainable materials. Two of the five neighborhoods that Landsea Homes is developing in the large

master-planned community of IronRidge in Lake Forest — Silveroak and Copperleaf — feature homes that are part of the initiative. Landsea also designs and builds suburban single-family homes and mid- and high-rise urban units. Landsea won five awards at the most recent Building Industry Association SoCal Awards, and it was a finalist at the National Association of Homebuilders awards gala for its sold-out Lido Villas townhouse development in Newport Beach, completed in January.

98 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

homebuyers explore their options and upgrades in person with design consultants. Here, they can see how dark the tile flooring they are considering really is, calculate the actual size of light fixtures and other elements, and determine

how their chosen countertops look next to their chosen cabinets. It also is a place to discover add-ons they hadn’t considered, such as digital wiring and various smart home technology elements. — Kathie Bozanich

3. FivePoint

15131 Alton Parkway, 4th Floor, Irvine; 949-349-1000; fivepoint.com It’s a massive undertaking, envisioning, planning and developing master-planned communities. Irvine-based developer FivePoint specializes in just such developments, taking on the challenge of creating communities that offer quality of life that goes beyond just having a place to retreat to each night. Its ambitious local project is the Great Parks Neighborhoods development in Irvine. FivePoint is the developer of the new community that includes homes, commercial and

retail spaces, schools, civic areas and recreational facilities, as well as open space. Six neighborhoods surrounding the Orange County Great Park are in various stages of planning, construction, sales and opening, as FivePoint teams with local builders to bring an architecturally varied, recreationally enhanced community to life. FivePoint was spun off from Lennar Homes in 2016, making it the largest developer of mixed-use communities in coastal California.


WE’RE OC PROUD! Thank you to the readers of The OC Register for nominating Landsea Homes for Best Home Builder and IronRidge as Best New Home Community. We take pride in our eco-friendly and tech-forward approach to home design and our dedication to creating beautiful communities that deliver an unrivaled living experience.

Stylish New Homes from the Low $500,000s to the $1 Millions IronRidge

The Westerly

Crestley

ShadeTree

Six New Lake Forest Neighborhoods

Simi Valley Townhomes

Chatsworth Single-Family Homes

Four New Ontario Neighborhoods

© 2020 Landsea Homes. All rights reserved. LANDSEA® and LIVE IN YOUR ELEMENT® are federally registered trademarks of Landsea. Plans, pricing, product information, square footages, amenities and community/neighborhood information are subject to change without notice or obligation. Homes shown do not depict actual homesites. Landsea Real Estate California, Inc. CA DRE license #02030520.

We’re

Honored!

(949) 770-9626 AMY LAO, BROKER • 949-378-2292 24310 Moulton Pkwy, Suite F, Laguna Woods

CAL DRE #00952681, #01265047 Each office is independently owned and operated. THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 99


» BEST

HOME IMPROVEMENT STORE

1. The Home Depot

Multiple locations; 1-800-466-3337; homedepot.com The Home Depot is the world’s largest home improvement retailer and the top pick on this list. It has 2,293 locations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico; Orange County is home to about 20 of them. It reported an estimated 80% online sales growth in the latest quarterly results as it expanded its curbside order pickup. With about 35,000 products available instore, Home Depot can be daunting for the amateur do-it-yourselfer looking for something specific, such as a green, 25-foot outdoor extension cord or a smart keyless dock lock in oilrubbed bronze. Luckily, the large warehouse-style stores clearly mark the aisles and use the same basic setup at each location. Home Depot also does a good job of grouping together on one end of the store the bigger items that are much more popular with professional contractors – things like lumber, drywall and other

PHOTO BY MICHAEL GOULDING

The Home Depot is the world’s largest home improvement retailer. Register readers voted it the best home improvement store in the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards. construction materials. Another option is to go online at homedepot.com, where you choose from an estimated 1 million products. This is also where you can find inspiration with detailed project ideas, instructions and project

2. Lowe’s

Multiple locations; 1-800-445-6937; lowes.com Lowe’s began in 1921 as a single small-town hardware store in North Carolina. Today, it serves an estimated 18 million customers a week in the U.S. and Canada, with more than 2,200 retail locations. There are six stores in Orange County, in La Habra, Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Tustin, Rancho Santa Margarita and San Clemente. Lowe’s extensive online offerings include DIY projects, articles on popular topics like outdoor living and storage and organization, how-to videos and buying guides.

Lowe’s also operates its own home installation service for those who don’t have a contractor or got in over their heads on do-ityourself projects. Lowe’s puts a premium on corporate responsibility. Its most recent report on its efforts highlights its work promoting sustainable practices, helping customers reduce their environmental footprint and giving back to the community. Lowe’s received the 2019 Energy Star part of the year award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

100 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

calculators. For example, you can shop for tile for your new entryway by seeing what others have done and ordering supplies based on your square footage. If you aren’t comfortable doing the work yourself,

Home Depot offers its own installation services for the “Do-It-for-Me” customer. From flooring to electrical, cabinet, fencing and other installations, as well as painting and other services, it has you covered. — Kathie Bozanich

3. Ace Hardware

Multiple locations; acehardware.com Ace Hardware’s locally owned and operated stores have a devoted following, as these stores focus on friendliness, knowledge and the needs of its customers with a focus on do-it-yourselfers more than professional builders. With this, comes loyalty: Ace Hardware was rated the “highest in customer satisfaction” among home improvement stores in the J.D. Power 2020 survey; the 13th time in 14 years it has earned the distinction. While its stores are smaller than others on this list, Ace has a bigger

footprint worldwide, with about 5,300 outlets in about 70 countries. There are 20 stores in Orange County, stretching from La Habra to San Clemente. Beyond the tools, plumbing and electrical parts, household products, paint and other items it sells, Ace offers its Handyman Services for easy upgrades to more labor-intensive work. It also has half-day and full-day service packages for those who have a “todo” list of repairs and tasks they have put off that can be bundled for a handyman to tackle.


THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 101


» BEST

KITCHEN / BATH REMODELING SPECIALIST

1. Mr. Cabinet Care

4375 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim; 714-961-1900; mrcabinetcare.com Family-owned Mr. Cabinet Care has been in business for more than 30 years and the Anaheimbased company has long been a favorite for Orange County residents in search of cabinet refacing and kitchen remodeling. While you could visit the showroom, potential clients can figure out what they want at home though the Design Online section of Mr. Cabinet Care’s website. Use the virtual showroom tour to get a better idea of what’s in store and make sure to read the company’s blog as well, which is updated with design trends and innovations. If you want to refresh the look of your kitchen, but aren’t in the market for a full-scale remodel, Mr. Cabinet Care offers services such as cabinet refacing and refinishing, as well as countertop installations. With refacing, customers can swap out their cabinets and maybe add undercabinet lighting or a few new accessories, without

LEONARD ORTIZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Mr. Cabinet Care has been in business for more than 30 years. It was named the best kitchen/bath remodeling specialist in the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards. changing the layout of your kitchen. Refinishing projects are an even simpler way to update a look. Countertop options include Cambria Quartz and Duraquartz. Sink and faucet options include a

2. APlus Interior Design and Remodeling

401 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim; 949-458-2108; aplushomeimprovements.com A second-generation, family-owned business, A Plus Interior Design and Remodeling has made numerous appearances on the Best of Orange County list. Owner and president Alex Tabrizi grew up in his father Abraham’s business. “I used to hold the hammer for him when I was a little boy,” he says. By 19, Alex had passed his general contractor exam. He later became a certified kitchen designer. “We lead with design,” says Tabrizi, who takes a tech-forward approach,

both in the design process and at the factory where custom cabinets are made. Tabrizi also tries to understand the clients, using the insight he’s recognized about their kitchen needs for details like cabinetry. Right now, says Tabrizi, “a lot of people are staying home and they really value the family time” and kitchens are reflecting that. Large islands, integrated speakers and attractive lighting are some of the elements they’re bringing into their homes.

102 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

number of different styles, including the popular farmhouse sink and restaurant-style troughs. Mr. Cabinet Care can also tend to lighting and tile needs like backsplashes. In addition to kitchens,

Mr. Cabinet Care also handles bathroom remodels, with similar services, including cabinet refacing. The company offers three different financing plans. — Liz Ohanesian

3. Sea Pointe Construction

576 Wald, Irvine; 949-649-4744; seapointe.com “We’re a construction company at the core that really values design,” says Lauren Mills, director of design and client services for Sea Pointe Construction. The Irvine-based firm handles a variety of residential projects, from kitchen and bathroom renovations to whole home remodels. Among its specaities is universal design, preparing homes for greater accessibility as residents age, whether that’s by tweaking showers walls so that grab bars can be added when needed, or increasing the width of traffic patters in

the kitchen. “Maybe you don’t need them now, but it’s that thoughtful planning up front for what the future holds,” says Mills. More than half of Sea Pointe’s customers are repeat or referral, and the 34-year-old company typically only works on homes in the area. “We feel that we can provide better service by just servicing Orange County,” Mills says. “We just want our project managers to be on site and with our clients and answering questions and offering support, rather than on the road.”


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» BEST

MATTRESS STORE 2. Sit ‘n Sleep

Multiple locations; sitnsleep.com Mattress superstore Sit ‘n Sleep uses the bedMATCH system to help you figure out the best support for your sleep style. You can start this process online, by answering surveystyle questions on the store’s website that will provide recommendations to get you started on your in-store search. From there, the options are vast, from tried-and-true brands like Serta and Sealy to Tempur-Pedic’s memory foam models. There are also advanced sleep tech brands such as Smartlife, which can adjust to fit your form as you sleep, and Hybrid Infinity, which combines elements of both foam and spring mattresses. If you’re in the market for the latest in sleep tech, like cooling mattresses, you can find those here too. The store is also up on the latest in sleep accessories, from weighted blankets to cooling pillows. Orange County Sit ‘n Sleep locations include Brea, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Laguna Hills, Orange, Santa Ana and San Clemente.

3. Sleep Number Multiple locations; sleepnumber.com LEONARD ORTIZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Daniel’s Home Center in Anaheim was voted the best mattress store as part of the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards.

1. Daniel’s Home Center

355 S. Euclid St., Anaheim; 714-999-1281; danielshomecenter.com Daniel’s Home Center, with three Southern California locations, including one in Anaheim, is not only a favorite among readers for its furniture selection. The homegrown, family-run business is also popular as a mattress store. The 29-year-old home furnishings shop carries brands such as Diamond, Sealy, Serta and TempurPedic. One thing to note, however, is that the Daniel’s website is not the greatest gauge of what is in stock. Recently, we only found two queen mattresses in stock, but called and found out that there were more sizes and styles available at the Anaheim store. Your best bet is to either visit the store in person or call during business hours 104 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

and ask to speak with one of the salespeople. If you need new pillows to go with your mattress, Daniel’s Home Center has a wide range of those, including gel and memory foam varieties. If you’re planning to buy a mattress, keep your eyes peeled for sales, which are posted on the store’s website, and note that there are financing plans available. While same day pick-up from Daniel’s warehouse is free, delivery services come with a fee. However, the deliveries do include placement and assembly of your order, as well as debris removal. Express delivery is available for those who live within 10 miles of a Daniel’s Home Center. — Liz Ohanesian

With stores in Brea, Santa Ana, Irvine, Mission Viejo and Huntington Beach, Sleep Number is a popular stop for Orange County residents in search of a good night’s sleep. The cult favorite mattress-and-more company draws from sleep science to create products that address individual needs and provide an interactive store where customers can figure out their own Sleep Number Setting. “Consumers today are increasingly health-conscious and focused on prevention and wellness. They are embracing the important role that sleep plays in their overall well-being,” says Angela Gearhart, vice president, brand experience for Sleep Number, in a recent email. “They are beginning to understand that they should demand more from their beds and retail experience.” The Minneapolis-based company has been in the midst of another innovation, with the late summer release of its latest Sleep Number 360 smart bed that aims to keep temperature balanced.


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» BEST

NEW HOME COMMUNITY

1. Great Park Neighborhoods

238 Merit, Irvine; 949-523-2067; greatparkneighborhoods.com All around Orange County Great Park, on land once occupied by the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, several distinct communities collectively known as Great Parks Neighborhoods are in varying stages of completion and construction. In all, the developments by FivePoint are expected to eventually include 9,500 homes by myriad homebuilders. The blend of builders and neighborhoods brings an eclectic feel to the master-planned community, with a mix of architectural influences like Spanish, farmhouse, California Monterey and modern. The shared spaces feature the parks, community pools and recreational facilities Irvine residents have come to expect while blending seamlessly into the surroundings. First to begin opening, in 2013, was Pavilion Park, with about 700 homes. Beacon Park came next with a little more than 1,000 homes, starting in 2015. Parasol Park, named for the large Parasol Pine that

JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

New homes in the Great Park Neighborhood of Cadence Park in Irvine. sits in the middle of the neighborhood park, started opening in 2017 with about 725 homes. In various stages of construction and sales are homes in the Rise, Novel Park and Cadence Park

2. Rancho Mission Viejo

1 Salubre St., Rancho Mission Viejo; 949-768-1882; ranchomissionviejo.com With a 15-year plan to build a cluster of new communities on the remaining acreage of a former ranch, Rancho Mission Viejo is well on its way to meeting its ambitions near Ladera Ranch. First out of the gate was the Sendero development in 2013. The second is the village of Esencia, with five builders working on singleand multi-family homes within it. In the development’s Gavilan community, which is for those ages 55 and older, Del Webb is working

on three neighborhoods. “The Ranch also provides unique amenities for residents, including play spaces built for all ages, pools, state-of-the-art fitness centers, community farms, miles of hiking and biking trails and parks and playgrounds for kids and kids-at-heart,” said Nadine Corrigan, vice president of sales and marketing at Rancho Mission Viejo. Coming up next is the village of Rienda, with the first phase expected to go on the market in early 2022.

106 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

neighborhoods. The overall Great Park Neighborhoods project had 553 sales in 2019, ranking it among the nation’s top 20 best-selling master-planned communities, according to a June 3 article in the Orange

County Register. When finished, Great Park Neighborhoods is also expected to have 138 acres of open space as well as trails that link to the Great Park itself. — Kathie Bozanich

3. IronRidge

1401 Viejo Ridge Drive, Lake Forest; 949-316-5576; liveironridge.com This master-planned community springing up in the northern reaches of Lake Forest again makes this list. In all, more than 300 single-family detached homes and 230-plus townhomes, divided into six communities, make up the development that first launched in late 2017. Landsea Homes is the homebuilder on five of the communities. Sagebluff features 65 single-family, two-story homes with three to five bedrooms next to the community park. Close to selling out is Brookha-

ven, with open floor plans featuring four to five bedrooms. The homes in the Windstone community all feature five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms. All three communities’ homes are large, starting at 2,065 square feet in Sagebluff and going up to 3,814 square feet for the largest house in Windstone. The two townhome communities are Copperleaf and Silveroak. KB Homes is the developer on IronRidge’s Highmark community of two-story, single-family homes with four to five bedrooms.


G R E AT PAR K N E I G H B O R H O O D S RISE PARK

At Great Park Neighborhoods by FivePoint, we always knew there was something special about our community. And we love it when others take notice. We’re deeply thankful to win 2020 Best New Home Community in OC Register’s annual “Best of Orange County”. New homes in Irvine from the $600,000s to over $1,000,000. Visit our website to chat with one of our Neighborhood Information Specialists. GreatParkNeighborhoods.com | 949.523.1758 ©2020 Heritage Fields El Toro, LLC. All rights reserved. Great Park Neighborhoods, the bicycle logo, and “Life Will Be Different Here” are registered trademarks of Heritage Fields El Toro, LLC (“Heritage Fields”) dba Great Park Neighborhoods used for the marketing of new home neighborhoods in Irvine, California. FivePoint Communities Management, Inc. (“FivePoint”) is the development manager of Great Park Neighborhoods. Neither Heritage Fields nor FivePoint is designing, constructing or offering homes for sale in Great Park Neighborhoods. All proposed amenities are subject to change without notice. Lifestyle photography does not reflect any ethnic or racial preference. (9/20) THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 107


» BEST

PLACE TO BUY CARPET / FLOORING

PAUL BERSEBACH, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Marathon Triad Carpet Mill Outlet was voted the best place to buy carpet/flooring in the 2020 Best of Orange County awards. The business, located in Santa Ana, has been family owned and operated for more than 30 years.

1. Marathon Triad Carpet Mill Outlet

1348 N. Santiago Street., Santa Ana; 800-540-1859; marathontriad.com Family-owned and operated for more than 30 years, Marathon Triad serves both residential and commercial clients with their carpeting needs. The company’s massive Santa Ana warehouse offers a bounty of carpets and

remnants at budget-friendly prices and offers next-day service. Marathon Triad’s carpet selection includes commercial grade, sturdy enough to handle a full office, as well as residential and rental grade carpets. Styles vary

2. Bockman’s

1008 N. Tustin Ave., Anaheim; 714-630-4455; bockmaninteriors.com It’s the custom touch that keeps people heading to Bockman’s for interiors. “We make it all,” says owner Jon Bockman by phone. “Everything is all made here.” That’s a family tradition. Bockman’s grandmother made drapes and his father was an upholsterer. When they retired, Bockman merged their businesses into his own. While their roots are in window coverings and upholstery, the Anaheimbased shop is also a

favorite for carpets. Bockman’s has an ample selection of carpets and area rugs available, but the store can also make rugs from its carpet supply to fit your specifications. “We actually can cut it and make it to the exact size that they want,” he says. That’s become one of the most popular features at Bockman’s. Even with carpets, it’s their knack for creating custom products that keeps customers hooked.

108 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

— new shipments arrive frequently — but both plush and patterned carpets are available. The store also sells remnants, handy if you only need a bit of carpet for a project like a rug. Although best known for carpets, Marathon Triad also carries hard surfaces. Options include both luxury vinyl tile and commercial luxury vinyl tile, the latter becoming more popular for high-traffic areas at home. Other types of flooring,

including tile, sheet vinyl, laminate and luxury vinyl plank are also available. Marathon Triad is an authorized seller of products from the massive carpet and flooring brand Mohawk. You can email Marathon Triad through its website for an estimate, or stop by during business hours. Early-birds should note that the store opens at 7:30 a.m., six days a week. Marathon Triad is closed on Sundays. — Liz Ohanesian

3. Colonial Carpet Co.

7331 Garden Grove Blvd, Suite B, Garden Grove; 714-892-4495; colonialcarpetco.com Rick Tessier’s first memory of the family carpet store was when he was 3 years old. Colonial Carpets has been family-owned since 1955. When Tessier finished college, his dad suggested that he give the business a try for six months. That was about 40 years ago. “Being in business for 65 years, we have a big book of business and a lot of return customers and tons of referrals,” says Tessier. Colonial Carpets has also made the Best of Orange County repeatedly, which he says has

brought in new generations of customers. Over the decades, Colonial has seen carpet change a lot, in ways that are not entirely visible. “They’re much more stain-resistant and pet friendly,” says Tessier. Plus, he adds, manufactures have been making softer carpets too. “Some of it almost feels like silk now,” he explains. One thing that hasn’t changed as drastically is the staff. Colonial Carpet’s salespeople, on average, have 20 years experience.


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» BEST

REAL ESTATE COMPANY 2. First Team Real Estate

Multiple locations; 888-236-1943; firstteam.com With a home office in Irvine and 16 other offices throughout Orange County, First Team Real Estate lays claim to being the largest independent brokerage firm in Southern California. It is overseen by Chief Executive Cameron Merage, who founded the brokerage in 1976. Its continuity, size and knowledge of the local market contributes to its strength. The company reported it ended 2019 with a 13.7% increase in sales volume year-over-year with a total of 8,984 transactions. It has extended access to the luxury market through its exclusive affiliations with Christie’s International Real Estate, Luxury Portfolio InternationalReal Estate and the Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate’s Board of Regents in Orange County. The company has expanded into surrounding areas, which includes a key push into the coastal North San Diego County market.

KEVIN SULLIVAN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Steve High is president of the luxury real estate company Villa Real Estate, which was voted best real estate company by Register readers as part of the 27th annual Best of Orange County awards.

1. Villa Real Estate

450 Newport Center Drive, Suite 100, Newport Beach; 949-717-6000; villarealestate.com Established just six years ago, Villa Real Estate focuses on the luxury real estate market in many neighborhoods in the coastal communities of Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Costa Mesa, Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach from its headquarters near Fashion Island. Its agents have an average of 10 years’ experience in luxury real estate. Villa’s easy-to-navigate website is a nod to its understanding of the role technology plays in the real estate industry; as it points out, an estimated 90% of buyers and sellers start the process online, skimming listings and narrowing down their choices. Marketing materials play up the results of its efforts, with photos 110 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

that highlight happy homebuyers in their new homes with quotes about their experiences with Villa. Social media also plays a key role, with regular postings that include photos and details about its most eyecatching listings on Villa’s Facebook and Instagram pages, plus links on Twitter, all under the @villalxre handle. It’s one thing to read about a home’s ocean views, gourmet kitchen or midcentury modern flair, but Villa combines the words with stunning visuals — multiple photographs from lots of angles — to give buyers a real sense of a property before visiting it in person. Besides its headquarters, Villa has two other offices, on the Balboa Peninsula and in Laguna Beach. — Kathie Bozanich

3. Century 21

Multiple locations; 866-732-6139; century21.com Century 21 is going through a period of reinvention. Its forward-thinking approach to selling and buying real estate is as intact as it was when it established itself and its then-futuristic name. Now, it is again looking to be a game-changer with a modern view that looks to the next century, with new branding and a new logo to go along with it. Technology plays a key part in that modern approach. Through its Live Open House feature, homebuyers can virtually view select Century 21 properties for sale. Its Zap platform connects its brokers to consumers from the beginning of the search for a new home to making the deal and closing. Social media and an aggressive online listing strategy are also parts of the equation. Its dozen offices in Orange County are part of a global juggernaut: Century 21 has about 11,600 independently owned and operated franchise brokers in 83 countries. Its high-end offerings are available through its Century 21 Fine Homes and Estates.


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» BEST

SENIOR LIVING COMMUNITY

1. Freedom Village

23442 El Toro Road, Lake Forest; 949-472-4700; freedomvillageorangecounty.org Freedom Village does not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. The continuing care retirement community for those 60 and older features three levels: independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing. Studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments are available, each with granite countertops, new carpet, dual-pane windows and sliders and walk-in closets; most units have a deck or balcony. Each has access to a 24-hour emergency call system for medical needs. “In addition to a beautiful apartment home and amenities, Freedom Village features a full continuum of health care services conveniently located right on our campus,” said Stephanie Chappell, Freedom Village’s director of marketing. “For instance, our residents have peace of mind knowing that if they need to have surgery, they have a spot available in our skilled nursing facility for their rehabilitation. Then, when they return home to their apartment,

COURTESY OF FREEDOM VILLAGE

Freedom Village is a continuing care retirement community for those 60 and older featuring three levels: independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing. residents know they can receive home care services from our trusted staff and home-delivered meals, supplies and groceries.” Freedom Village employs an executive chef who oversees the community’s four dining venues; a private dining room for large groups

2. Heritage Pointe

27356 Bellogente, Mission Viejo; 949-364-9685; heritagepointe.org While embracing the key tenet of Jewish tradition to honor and respect our elders, Heritage Pointe provides independent and assisted living and memory care services for its 200 residents. For more than 30 years, caregivers and volunteers have worked to create a safe, family-like atmosphere at the facility, which is based on Jewish values but is welcoming to all. Unlike other communities in the area, Heritage Pointe is a nonprofit organization that relies on outside support. It welcomes donations

of any size, from $18 for a meal for its front porch drop-off program to major gift opportunities including endowment funds. One such endowment fund, established by Loretta and Herb Modelevsky, has made Heritage Pointe’s ZEST for Learning program possible. Popular with residents, family and community members, ZEST encourages lifelong education with an emphasis on the arts. The facility also has a dining hall, swimming pool, synagogue, movie theater and gift shop.

112 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020

is also on-site. Amenities include classes and activities ranging from on-site swim and other fitness programs to weekly socials and live entertainment. Another key attribute, Chappell said, is that “Freedom Village offers the stability of 33 years of experience

and the same owners since our inception.” It is not just the residents who favorably view Freedom Village: the community has made the Orange County Register’s Top Workplaces List for the last three years based on employee votes. — Kathie Bozanich

3. Laguna Woods Village

24351 El Toro Road, Laguna Woods; 949-597-4600; lagunawoodsvillage.com Laguna Woods Village began as Leisure World — Laguna Hills in 1964, designed “to supply the basic needs of life for people aged 52 and older; create a serene atmosphere of beauty; and provide security, recreation and religious facilities — then leave the living to the individual,” according to the Laguna Woods History Center. Three neighborhoods make up Laguna Woods Village: Third Laguna Hills, which features condominium living with views of one of the area’s two golf cours-

es; the co-op community of United Laguna Woods and the high-rise building, the Towers. Residents are especially attracted to the “active” part of the community, which offers more than 250 clubs and organizations as well as special events, lectures and projects. Other community amenities beyond the golf courses include five swimming pools, a tennis facility, lawn bowling and equestrian centers, a performing arts venue and several art studios.


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THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020 113


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or more than 30 years, Kisco Senior Living has delivered an enriched lifestyle where health, safety and overall wellbeing have always been a top priority. A Kisco community is a home where residents thrive, making new memories with confidence.

marks. But the company wanted to go further, so they adapted the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star experience. “Confidence is everything and the Forbes training helped our employees develop that confidence. We are going to do the right thing

“People have an idea of what aging is, and we’re changing that every day,” explained Leandra Negrete, Regional VP of Operations. “I’m reminded of one of our communities that started a dream come true program. The activity director meets with every resident and comes up with a goal or experience and she makes it happen.” Plenty of activities and excursions are part of the Kisco experience, as is a five-star dining experience. Kisco has a tradition of hiring award-winning executive chefs, and recently partnered with Crandall Corporate Dietitians, the nation’s largest pro-

every time and maintain the highest standards,” explained Cynthia Williams, operations manager. When the coronavirus hit in March 2020, Kisco

vider of nutritional consulting to senior living communities throughout the United States. Randall Lonoza oversees

took their health and safety protocol next level by partnering with Accushield, a national leader in security and safety. Each Kisco property has an Accushield check in, complete with temperature monitoring and health screening questions. Ed Ward is Kisco’s VP of Operations. “We’ve implemented the highest frequency of custom protocols like electrostatic fogging and increased sanitation,” said Ward. “We ensure each apartment is Kisco clean for move in. We check all of the surfaces down to the plumbing and paint, so when you move, you move with confidence.” People might be surprised to learn that, despite COVID, moving into the right senior living community

which remains a symbol of American ingenuity during World War II. Turnbull moved to Kisco’s Emerald Court community in 2018. The move relocated her closer to her children and secured extra care for when she needs it. Turnbull has macular degeneration, and takes advantage of the Low Vision Support Group that meets regularly at Emerald Court, Kisco’s community in Anaheim. Not that the active 98 year-old is slowing down anytime soon. She faithfully attends fitness classes and takes full advantage of Emerald Court’s exercise room. For Turnbull, the sky has never been the limit. That’s Kisco confidence.

Culinary Services. “We focus on a healthy eating pattern -- vegetables, proteins,

can be a safe, secure experience. “We have tours by appointment and are very careful about

Kohlberg concluded. “During this

fresh fruits, variety in grains, you have a lot of different options,” Lonoza said. “We are also

PPE and social distancing,” Patricia Gustin, Executive Director in Orange County, explained, “our

time, trust and transparency are even more important. Kisco communities

proud of our Taste, Travel and Explore program that introduces different cuisines from around the world.” Kisco knew their properties were scoring high

residents continue to feel safe and secure.” “Open communication, trust and transparency

offer a warm and friendly environment, and welcoming surroundings, so people feel like it’s a home for them for years to come.”

is an integral part of what we do. It’s built into the DNA of our culture,” Kisco President and CEO Andy

Kisco communities are available for personal tours by calling 760-804-5900 or connecting online at kiscoseniorliving.com. 114 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY SEPTEMBER 2020


The place to find peace of mind. The safety and wellbeing of our residents has always been our top priority. At Kisco, safety and security is an integral part of our wellness philosophy - something we practice every day. It’s in our DNA as associates who have been trained to treat your family members as part of our extended family. It’s in every way we prepare and protect our residents from any outside adversity. From direct grocery and pharmacy delivery to technology that keeps you connected to family. From impromptu courtyard entertainment and fitness to chef-prepared meals for room service. We put safety and security at the top of our ongoing daily routine to take all the worry out of living an independent lifestyle. That’s the true meaning of peace of mind.

That’s the promise of Kisco Confidence.™ Call your local Kisco community today to schedule your personalized virtual tour or visit KiscoSeniorLiving.com for more details.

1731 West Medical Center Drive Anaheim, CA 92801 __________________

620 South Glassell Street Orange, CA 92866 __________________

21952 Buena Suerte Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 __________________

714.844.0655

714.997.5355

949.888.2250


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