Issuu on Google+

Family Classic Cars Service Manager Glen McDorman says good listening skills are just as important as good mechanics. The shop took gold in the “Best Customer Service” category. Photo by Jonathan Volzke

A hearty congratulations to this year’s winners of The Capistrano Dispatch’s 5th Annual Golden Horseshoe Awards. In 2011, it was the best of

times and the worst of times for businesses that keep our historic town moving along. While the economy continued to recover, companies and their employees hunkered down and some, sadly, didn’t make it. This just gives us all the more reason to salute — and patronize — the ones who survived, not by taking shortcuts but by streamlining their business and continuing to earn our business with everything from good prices to great attitudes. With our hectic schedules filled with school, work and play, we often take for granted the folks who make our lives a little easier. They groom our dogs and care for our horses. They clean our work shirts and help us keep our fitness routines. They keep our bellies—and our glasses—filled and put smiles on our faces. So cheers to all the winners and the hundreds of nominees. — Jonathan Volzke


Dining BEST BREAKFAST

Golden Horseshoe

Mollies Famous Café 32033 Camino Capistrano, 949.240.9261

Georgia Kelley and her crew make Mollies a perennial winner in this category. Mollies captures Capistrano’s small-town feel with a diner that serves big portions with low prices—all in a no-frills setting where you can find anyone from your neighbor to the Mayor enjoying a meal. Our favorite: The homemade scramble, a special on Fridays.

Silver Horseshoe

Bagel Shack

31876 Del Obispo St., #1, 949.488.8023

NOMINEES: Bravo Burgers • Cedar Creek Inn • Del Taco • Denny’s • Hidden House Coffee • Hummingbird House Café • Las Golondrinas • NewStart Nutrition • Panera Bread • Ramos House Café • Ricardo’s Place • Ruby’s • San Juan Hills Golf Course • Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot Capistrano Depot • The The Vintage Steakhouse • Walnut Grove LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Mollies

BEST LUNCH

Golden Horseshoe

NYC Café

31888 Plaza Drive, 949.234.0071

NYC Café is an unassuming little spot tucked in a strip mall that offers a menu boasting everything from pizza to gyros. The restaurant has been family owned for a decade,

and Al Shan says the secret to his restaurant is making everything fresh. We like the Italian sausage sandwich, but you won’t go wrong with anything on the menu. The Bagel Shack

Silver Horseshoe

31876 Del Obispo St., #1, 949.488.8023

NOMINEES: Aldo’s Sidewalk Caffe • Arby’s • Bad to the Bone • The Bagel Shack • Bistro 311 • Bravo Burgers • Café Mozart • Cedar Creek Inn • Ciao Pasta • The Dutch Bakery • El Adobe de Capistrano • El Campeon • El Maguey • El Molino del Oro • Hidden House Coffee • Hot Lunch Lady • Humingbird House Café • L’Hirondelle • Marie Callenders • Mollies Famous Café • Oeeshi Japanese Grill • Panera Bread • Pedro’s Tacos • Ramos House Café • Rick’s Café at Regency Theatre • Ricardo’s Place • Ruby’s • San Juan Hills Golf Course • Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot Capistrano Depot • Sundried Tomato Café • Thai One Juan • Vito’s Pizza LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Hot Lunch Lady

BEST APPETIZERS

Golden Horseshoe

Comfort food: Tomato soup and grilled-cheese sandwich at Sundried Tomato Café. Photo by Jonathan Volzke

www.thecapistranodispatch.com

Sundried Tomato Café 31781 Camino Capistrano, 949.661.1167

The Sundried Tomato soup has been a signature appetizer for the Franciscan Plaza restaurant since it opened, and is a repeat Golden Horseshoe winner. It’s so good you’ll be tempted to ignore the other offerings on the menu, but then you’d be missing the Blackened Chicken Spring Rolls and the Panko Crusted Crispy Asparagus—all in the coolest bar in town.

Silver Horseshoe

Cedar Creek Inn 26860 Ortega Hwy., 949.240.2229

NOMINEES: Aldo’s Sidewalk Caffe • Bad to the Bone • The Bagel Shack • Bravo Burgers • Ciao Pasta • Denny’s • El Adobe de Capistrano • El Maguey • Jack in the Box • L’Hirondelle • Marie Callenders • NYC Café • Ramos House Café • Ricardo’s Place • Rick’s Café at The Regency Theatre • Ruby’s • Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot Capistrano Depot • San Juan Hills Golf Course • Simply Fondue • Tannins Restaurant and Wine Bar • Thai Juan On • The Vintage Steakhouse • Vito’s Pizza LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Sundried Tomato Café

BEST DINNER

Golden Horseshoe

Sundried Tomato Café 31781 Camino Capistrano, 949.661.1167

Rob Quest and his crew at Sundried knocked Cedar Creek Inn out of the top spot this year, earning the gold with a combination of great food backed up with great service. Sundried Tomato expanded in recent months, adding more tables for al fresco dining and now can even handle large parties on the lower patio.

Silver Horseshoe

Cedar Creek Inn 26860 Ortega Hwy., 949.240.2229

NOMINEES: Aldo’s Sidewalk Caffe • Bad to the Bone • The Bagel Shack • Ballpark Pizza • Barth’s • Bravo Burgers • Café Mozart • Ciao Pasta • El Adobe de Capistrano • El Maguey • KFC • L’Hirondelle • Marie Callenders • NYC Café • Oeeshi Japanese Grill • Ricardo’s Place • Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot Capistrano Depot • Tannins Restaurant and Wine Bar • Thai Juan On • The Vintage Steakhouse • Vito’s Pizza LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Cedar Creek Inn

Owner Al Shan behind the counter at NYC Café, which took gold in best lunch and best pizza this year. Photo by Jonathan Volzke

BEST DESSERT

Golden Horseshoe

Cedar Creek Inn 26860 Ortega Hwy., 949.240.2229

Cedar Creek Inn takes the gold in this category every year. The restaurant’s dessert menu offers unique flair on traditional favorites such as a Lemon Tart with Raspberry Sauce, Warm Toll House Pie and Warm Bread Pudding. Dinner’s great a Cedar Creek Inn but save room for dessert, always.

Silver Horseshoe

Marie Callenders 31791 Del Obispo St., 949.661.5977

NOMINEES: Aldo’s Sidewalk Caffe • Bad to the Bone • The Bagel Shack • Baskin Robbins • Café Mozart • Ciao Pasta • The Dutch Bakery • El Adobe de Capistrano • Family Classic Cars • Frio • Golden Spoon • Hidden House Café • L’Hirondelle • • Mr. B’s Pizza Kitchen • Panera Bread • Rite Aid ice cream • Ruby’s • Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot Capistrano Depot • Simply Fondue • Sundried Tomato Café • The Vintage Steakhouse • Vito’s Pizza LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Cedar Creek Inn

BEST AMBIANCE

Golden Horseshoe

Cedar Creek Inn 26860 Ortega Hwy., 949.240.2229

Whether a warm evening or a cold night, Cedar Creek Inn’s the place to go. Inside page 3


Whether it’s the salsa brava with a bit of bite or the cool and chunky combination that servers slide onto your table with a warm basket of chips, Ricardo’s Place continues to take top honors with its salsa. It doesn’t hurt that Ricardo and Rosa Beas are great people active in the community, either.

Silver Horseshoe

El Adobe de Capistrano 31891 Camino Capistrano, 949.493.1163

NOMINEES: Agustin Mexican Food • The Bagel Shack • Bravo Burger • Del Taco • El Campeon • El Maguey • El Molino • Las Golondrinas Marbella Farmer’s Market • Pedro’s Tacos • San Juan Hills Golf Course • Swallow’s Inn LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Ricardo’s Place

BEST PIZZA

Golden Horseshoe offers a fire-toasted lounge and dining room that fits a rustic inn style – complete with a tree growing through it – while the patio offers a view of the old Mission and oversized fireplace.

Silver Horseshoe

Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot

26701 Verdugo St., 949.493.9593

NOMINEES: Bad to the Bone • The Bagel Shack • Café Mozart • Ciao Pasta • El Adobe de Capistrano • Family Classic Cars • Hidden House Coffee • L’Hirondelle • Marbella Country Club • NYC Café • Ramos House • Simply Fondue • Sundried Tomato Café • Swallow’s Inn • Tannins Restaurant and Wine Bar • Thai Juan On • The Vintage Steakhouse • Vito’s Pizza LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Hummingbird House Café

BEST OUTDOOR PATIO

Golden Horseshoe

Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot

26701 Verdugo St., 949.493.9593

Long our favorite spot on a summer morning or warm evening, the Sarducci’s patio is the perfect Capistrano spot: In the heart of the downtown and alongside the railroad tracks that helped the town thrive throughout history. The Sarducci’s patio is a place where you’re sure to see a friend, and can just sit back and watch people stroll through downtown and the trains rumble by.

Silver Horseshoe

Ciao Pasta

31661 Camino Capistrano, 949.496.5002

NOMINEES: Aldo’s Sidewalk Caffe • Bad to the Bone • The Bagel Shack • Café Mozart • Cedar Creek Inn • El Adobe de Capistrano • Hidden House Coffee • Hummingbird House Café • L’Hriondelle • Ramos House Café • Rick’s Café at The Regency Theatres • Ruby’s • Sundried Tomato Café LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Cedar Creek Inn

BEST CUP OF COFFEE

Golden Horseshoe

Starbucks

32341 Camino Capistrano, 949.248.1598; 27211 Ortega Hwy., 949.661.5801; 32022 Camino Capistrano, 949.661.4809

www.thecapistranodispatch.com

The Sarducci’s patio in the heart of downtown is a Capistrano favorite. Photo by Jonathan Volzke

Each of the three Starbucks in town—across from the Mission, at Ortega and Rancho Viejo Road and in the carwash plaza—has its own vibe and crowd of loyal regulars, but they all have the same great coffee and service.

Silver Horseshoe

The Bagel Shack

31876 Del Obispo St., #1, 949.488.8023

NOMINEES: Bravo Burgers • Café Mozart • Ciao Pasta • Denny’s • Hidden House Coffee • Hummingbird House Café • Marbella Farmer’s Market • Marie Callenders • McDonalds • Mollies Famous Cafe • Panera Bread • Ruby’s • San Juan Hills Golf Course • The Dutch Bakery LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Hidden House Coffee

BEST TACO

Golden Horseshoe

Ricardo’s Place

32082 Camino Capistrano, 949.403.4941.

Ricardo Beas started his career bussing tables in the building that now houses his signature restaurant, and taking the Golden Horseshoe in the “Best Taco” category in San Juan Capistrano is something to be proud of. Winning it multiple times is something to brag about.

Silver Horseshoe

Pedro’s Tacos

31721 Camino Capistrano, 949.489.7752.

NOMINEES: Agustin Mexican Food • Del Taco • El Adobe de Capistrano • El Molino del Oro • El Campeon • El Maguey • Los Golondrinas • San Juan Hills Golf Course • Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot • Swallow’s Inn LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Ricardo’s Place

BEST SALSA

Golden Horseshoe

Ricardo’s Place

32082 Camino Capistrano, 949.403.4941.

NYC Café

31888 Plaza Drive, 949.234.0071

If you’re surprised a place that also serves Greek food is winning best pizza, you haven’t tried it. NYC Café offers the traditional buildyour-own selection, but also has more than a dozen specialty pies ranging from the New York Special to a Banana Pizza. And yes, there’s a Greek pie, too.

Silver Horseshoe

Quality tequila and just the right amount of sweet and sour helped El Adobe wrestle the gold away from Ricardo’s this year. But El Adobe has an advantage, too: You can almost taste the rich history of the place in each drink.

Silver Horseshoe

Ricardo’s Place

32082 Camino Capistrano, 949.493.1163

NOMINEES: Bad to the Bone • Cedar Creek Inn • El Maguey • Ruby’s Sky Ranch • San Juan Hills Golf Course • Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot • Thai Juan On • The Vintage Steakhouse LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Ricardo’s Place

BEST BARTENDER

Golden Horseshoe

Fernando at El Adobe de Capistrano

31891 Camino Capistrano, 949.493.4914

Fernando Campuzano is the sort of bartender who not only remembers your name, but what you like to drink, too. And he knows just how to mix it, and ensure your glass doesn’t sit empty. And even when the El Adobe bar is hopping, he always seems to have a moment to see how you’re doing.

Z Pizza

3241 Camino Capistrano, 949.429.8888

NOMINEES: Aldo’s Sidewalk Caffe • The Bagel Shack • Ballpark Pizza • Ciao Pasta • Costco • Dominos • Mr. B’s Pizza Kitchen • Papa John’s • Pizza Hut • Roundtable Pizza • Sundried Tomato Café • Tannins Restaurant and Wine Bar • Vito’s Pizza LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Z Pizza

Nightlife BEST NIGHTSPOT

Golden Horseshoe

Swallows Inn

31786 Camino Capistrano, 949.493.3188

As long as there’s a Golden Horseshoe Award, you can bet on Swallows Inn taking the Golden Horseshoe for Best Nightspot. A little bit biker, a little bit country, Swallows brings us all together for a beer and a good time. Owner Steve Nordeck and manager Cheryl Krupps have pulled together a great crew to serve that beer, too.

Silver Horseshoe

Tannins Restaurant and Wine Bar

27211 Ortega Highway #C, 949.661.8466

NOMINEES: El Adobe de Capistrano • Bad to the Bone • Cedar Creek Inn • Ciao Pasta • City Hall • The Coach House • Ruby’s Sky Ranch • Rick’s Café at The Regency Theatre • Thai Juan On • The Vintage Steakhouse Vito’s Pizza LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Swallow’s Inn

BEST MARGARITA

Golden Horseshoe

El Adobe de Capistrano

31891 Camino Capistrano, 949.493.4914

Fernando Portillo Campuzano mixing it up at El Adobe. Photo by Jonathan Volzke

Silver Horseshoe

Hillary at Bad to the Bone

31738 Rancho Viejo Rd, 949.218.0227

NOMINEES: Carmen at Swallows • Joel at Swallows • Mike at Cedar Creek Inn • Molly at Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot • Sam at The Vintage Steakhouse • Trevor at Sundried Tomato Café LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Swallows Inn

OUR LOCAL CHEERS

Golden Horseshoe

Swallow’s Inn

31786 Camino Capistrano, 949.493.3188

When Capistrano wants to celebrate, it heads to Swallows. When Capistrano needs to mourn, it heads to Swallows. The people watching is great, and so is exploring the signs and memorabilia on the walls. You can find cowboys, business leaders, bikers, page 4


BEST WINE SELECTION

Golden Horseshoe

Tannins Restaurant and Wine Bar

27211 Ortega Highway, #C, 949.661.8466

If you’re going to run a wine bar, you’d better like wine. And Tannins owners Gabriel Sanchez and Bryan McKay are “wine people,” Sanchez says. Going to other wine spots, they found shops just wanted to sell highpriced bottles. Tannins offers something for everybody, by the glass, at reasonable prices.

Silver Horseshoe

Jespah Clanton and Ursula Cassinelli in the wine cellar at Tannins. Photo by Jonathan Volzke

regulars and first-timers there, and always a friend.

Silver Horseshoe

Bad to the Bone

31738 Rancho Viejo Rd, 949.218.0227 NOMINEES: The Bagel Shack • Bravo Burgers • Cedar Creek Inn • Ciao Pasta • The Coach House • El Adobe de Capistrano • Family Classic Cars • Hidden House Coffee • San Juan Hills Golf Course • Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot • Sundried Tomato Café • Tannins Restaurant and Wine Bar • Thai Juan On • The Vintage Steakhouse • Vito’s Pizza LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Swallow’s Inn

BEST SPOT FOR A GLASS OF WINE

Golden Horseshoe

Tannins Restaurant and Wine Bar

27211 Ortega Highway, #C, 949.661.8466

Tannins has a small bar, with about a dozen

stools, but even as you’re enjoying your first sip of a nice merlot, you’ve made 11 new friends. There’s a regular crowd at Tannins, but they’re always open to new faces. The bartenders know their wines, and the restaurant is known for high pours. A good glass of wine with good company makes for a Golden Horseshoe.

Silver Horseshoe

Sundried Tomato Café

31781 Camino Capistrano, 949.661.1167

NOMINEES: Aldo’s Sidewalk Caffe • Bad to the Bone • Café Mozart • Cedar Creek Inn • Ciao Pasta • El Adobe de Capistrano • L’Hirondelle • NYC Café • Ruby’s Sky Ranch • Ramos House Café • Rick’s Café at The Regency Theatres • San Juan Hills Golf Course • Swallow’s Inn • The Vintage Steakhouse • Vito’s Pizza LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Tannins Restaurant and Wine Bar

Sundried Tomato Café

31781 Camino Capistrano, 949.661.1167

NOMINEES: Aldo’s Sidewalk Caffe • Café Mozart • Cedar Creek Inn • Churchhills • Ciao Pasta • El Adobe de Capistrano • L’Hirondelle • San Juan Hills Golf Course • Swallow’s Inn • Thai Juan On • The Vintage Steakhouse • Vito’s Pizza LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Tannins Restaurant and Wine Bar

Living

Marbella Plaza

31115 Rancho Viejo Rd., 949.859.6012

NOMINEES: Costco • DeNault’s True Value Hardware • Downtown • El Adobe de Capistrano • Big Lots/Ross • Franciscan • Los Rios Street • Ralphs • Vermuelen’s Plaza • Rancho Ortega Plaza LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Plaza Del Obispo

BEST HAIR SALON

Golden Horseshoe

Charisma Beauty

32301 Camino Capistrano #F, 949.240.1200

Another repeat winner in a tough category, Charisma Beauty offers the traditional haircuts and coloring, as well as an adjacent shop with hair products and supplies. After 15 years in the community, owner Sherry Behzadi also knows customers like a friendly, chatty staff, too. Curtis Michael Salon

31882 Del Obispo St. #150, 949.240.9240

BEST SHOPPING PLAZA

Golden Horseshoe

Silver Horseshoe

NOMINEES: Bella Moda Salon • Brush Salon • Daniel Michael Salon • Resurrected/London Hair Studio • San Juan Hair Station • Sage • Southwest Barbers • Silver Shears • Vincent Michael Salon • W Salon LAS T YEAR’S WINNER: Charisma Beauty

Plaza Del Obispo/ Marshalls Plaza

31878 Del Obispo St., 949.240.2711

Anchored by Marshall’s, Del Obispo Plaza offers a bit of everything from the department store to Thai Juan On to Mission Jewelers. Owner Gretchen Stroscher Thomson, a member of a longtime Capistrano family, didn’t have to go far when she added a new favorite: her daughter, Melissa, opened The Ceramics Studio there, where you can paint ceramics or play with clay.

Plaza Del Obispo added Panera Bread this year and brought home another Golden Horseshoe. Photo by Jonathan Volzke


Silver Horseshoe

Family Classic Cars 33033 Camino Capistrano, 949.276.7777

NOMINEES: Avery Automotive • British 4x4 • Brother’s Auto • CAARS • Camino Auto Imports • Capistrano Ford • Goodyear/ Capistrano Tire • Capistrano Toyota • Capistrano Transmission • Del Obispo/Camino Capistrano Chevron • Franks Auto and Transmission • German Imports • Weseloh Honda LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Family Classic Cars

BEST DRY CLEANER

Golden Horseshoe

Polo Cleaners

31105 Rancho Viejo Rd. Ste. C11, 949.496.7354

Dan Newell has the Golden Horseshoe in this category locked up. Providing quality service with an on-site tailor, Polo is open every day and even offers pick up and drop off, too.

Silver Horseshoe

Ortega Cleaners

27184 Ortega Hwy., 949.3405

NOMINEES: Express Cleaners • Mission Village Cleaners • San Juan Cleaners • Shine Cleaners • Town & Country • Village Cleaners LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Polo Cleaners

Chris Knuth and Emma Silvera in the award-winning shop at Star Motors. Photo by Jonathan Volzke

BEST FITNESS SPA

Golden Horseshoe

24 Hour Fitness 27131 Calle Arroyo, 949.489.9000

We were in the Laguna Niguel 24 Hour Fitness once when we overheard two women talking on the treadmill. One told the other she liked the Capistrano gym better, because Niguel’s had “too much silicone.” San Juan Capistrano’s gym is nothing flashy, just a good workout in a clean facility.

Silver Horseshoe

Seafit Studio

31654 Rancho Viejo Rd., 949.388.0002

BEST JEWELRY STORE BEST CAR REPAIR

Golden Horseshoe

Star Motors

32959 Calle Perfecto, 949.443.1946

Chris and Knuth and Emma Silvera know it’s a cliché to say they provide Nordstromstyle service, so they just let their good work, day in and day out, do the talking for them. The engaged couple purchased Star Motors more than three years ago, and the upgrades continue: They’ve expanded the shop and require every employee—from the ever-friendly receptionist to the service technicians—to complete continuing education every year. All that and the shop, which donates to charities when people “like” them on Facebook, services all makes and models, with a European specialty.

Golden Horseshoe

Abby’s Fine Jewelry Design

32382 Del Obispo St. #C3, 949.493.3632

Abby Khan was born in South Africa and learned his craft from fine jewelers around the world before settling into Capistrano about seven years ago. Visitors to his his Vermuelen’s Plaza shop find him at the work bench in the shop, designing pieces that have been worn by everybody from Rick Dees to Cher—and your neighbors.

Silver Horseshoe

Zia Jewelry

31761 Camino Capistrano, 949.493.1322

BEST CLOTHING

Golden Horseshoe

Marshalls

31878 Del Obispo St., 949.240.2711

If you’re surprised Marshall’s can win the Golden Horseshoe for ‘Best Clothing,” you haven’t been in there. The commercials promise designer goods for less, and the store delivers. You might have to browse around to find what you’re looking for it, but the prices are worth it.

Silver Horseshoe

Blue Eyed Girl

31103 Rancho Viejo Rd. #D4, 949.420.1361

NOMINEES: American Horse Products • Blue Echo • Chico’s • Children’s Orchard • Inspiration Boutique • Milie • Ortega Tack and Feed • Oh La La • Ross Dress for Less • The Antique Barn • The Black Cat Gallery • The Carved Horse LAST YEAR’S WINNER: The Carved Horse

BEST HOME DÉCOR

Golden Horseshoe

Whim

31831 Camino Capistrano, 949.388.9600

Whim owners Eric Guenther and Daviell Maldonado search near and far for the products in their Camino Capistrano store, and wandering through each of the rooms feels like you’ve stepped into the pages of a design magazine. From large furniture to that perfect finishing touch, Whim has it all.

Silver Horseshoe

Marshalls

31878 Del Obispo St., 949.240.2711

NOMINEES: The Antique Barn • Big Lots • Costco • DeNault’s True Value Hardware • A Touch of Elegance • Plant Depot • Renaissance • The Ceramics Studio • Two Doors Down LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Whim

NOMINEES: Chico’s • Mission Jewelers • Monaco Jewelers • Ortega Trading Post LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Abby’s Fine Jewelry Design

NOMINEES: Curves • Massage Associates • SJC Pilates LAST YEAR’S WINNER: 24 Hour Fitness

BEST MANICURE

Golden Horseshoe

Happy Nails & Spa

32301 Camino Capistrano, 949.493.6888

Happy Nails is a new gold finisher in this category, and good service at good prices seems to the be winning combination. Manager Tracy Huynh says the key is making sure manicurists know what the customer wants, then delivering. The shop has been in its Camino Capistrano location for more than 15 years, which doesn’t hurt either.

Silver Horseshoe

Color Nails and Spa 31876 Del Obispo St. #4, 949.443.0125

NOMINEES: Bella Moda Salon • Curtis Michael • Debra’s Nails • Lily Nails • Lovely Nails • Merlin Skin Care • Natural Nail Clinic LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Color Nails and Spa

page 6

Marshalls in Del Obispo Plaza not only won gold for best clothing, but silver for best home décor, too. Photo by Jonathan Volzke

www.thecapistranodispatch.com


BEST SPOT FOR THAT ‘PERFECT GIFT’

Golden Horseshoe

Whim

31831 Camino Capistrano, 949.388.9600

Two things you know when you shop at Whim for that perfect gift: You’ll find something the recipient doesn’t have, and you’ll find something the recipient will be proud to own. Whim wins this category regularly, and one trip through the store tells you why. From glassware to the perfect accent, it’s nice when finding the perfect gift really means picking from among the options.

Silver Horseshoe

Abby’s Fine Jewelry Design

32382 Del Obispo St. #C3, 949.493.3632

NOMINEES: The Antique Barn • Big Lots • Capo Smoke Shop • Cottage Home and Garden • DeNault’s True Value Hardware • Family Classic Cars • Marshall’s • Millie • Ortega Tack and Feed • Plant Depot • Paper Annex • Ross Dress for Less • The Ceramic Studio • The Cottage • The Gift Goddess • Two Doors Down • Villas and Verandas LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Whim

BEST VET

Golden Horseshoe

Ortega Animal Care 27341 Ortega Highway, 949.487.7600

Ortega Animal Care hasn’t been all that long, especially by Capistrano standards, but Dr. Deborah Adams and the staff have set a new gold standard with a second consecutive Golden Horseshoe. Ortega offers veterinarian care, grooming, boarding and even doggie play groups. Dr. Deborah Adams opened the Ortega Animal Care just over three years ago, and it’s quickly become a local favorite. Photo by Jonathan Volzke

Silver Horseshoe

San Juan Animal Hospital/Dr. Mannix

32391 San Juan Creek Rd., 949.493.1147

NOMINEES: Banfield • Pet Hospital • Dr. Secor • Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Ortega Animal Care

BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE

Golden Horseshoe

Family Classic Cars 33033 Camino Capistrano, 949.276.7777

Family Classic Cars Service Manager Glen McDorman knows that people can be upset when they bring their vehicle in for service, especially if it’s a classic. So McDorman and his crew find their inspiration for customer service in the business name: They treat them like family. Being sympathetic and accommodating, while also providing great repair service at a great price, is the key, McDorman says.

Silver Horseshoe

Star Motors

32959 Calle Perfecto, 949.443.1946

NOMINEES: Abby’s Fine Jewelry Design • American Horse Products • Bad to the Bone • The Bagel Shack • Bravo Burgers

www.thecapistranodispatch.com

BEST ART OR FRAMING SHOP

• Buy My Bikes • Camino Import Auto Service • Carved Horse • Charisma Salon • Chico’s • Children’s Orchard • DeNault’s True Value Hardware • Color Nail and Spa • Costco • F&M Bank • Hidden House Café • Independence Bank • Orange Coast Chrysler Jeep Dodge • L’Hirondelle • Marbella Farmers Market • San Juan Photo & Digital • NYC Café • Plant Depot • Polo Cleaners • Regency Theatre • Ricardo’s • Ruby’s • San Juan Hills Golf Club • The Bagel Shack • The Antique Barn • The Ceramics Studio • The Hot Lunch Lady • Mission San Juan Capistrano • Two Doors Down • Vons LAST YEAR’S WINNER: DeNault’s True Value Hardware

Golden Horseshoe

Mother Earth

32158 Camino Capistrano #105, 949.493.4400

Amir Zagar and business partner Masoud Badie emphasize customer service and supporting local charities in their business plan for Mother Earth Flowers. Support the community, Zagar says, and the community will support you. In this case, it’s with another Golden Horseshoe. Twenty-five years’ experience doesn’t hurt either.

Silver Horseshoe

Silver Horseshoe

The Ceramics Studio

31878 Del Obispo St., 949.412.9241.

NOMINEES: Black Cat Gallery • Mission Art • San Juan Photo & Digital • Villas and Verandas • Whim LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Plaza Art Gallery

BEST NURSERY Plant Depot

Panage

33413 San Juan Creek Rd., 949.240.2107

31876 Del Obispo, 949.661.1858

NOMINEES: Costco • Farmer’s Market • Flowers by Lisa • Vons • Lilacs and Lace • Mission Flowers LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Mother Earth

32382 Del Obispo St., #C1, 949.493.1950

Ted Rosenfeldt complains we keep writing the same thing about his shop, but in our defense, his Plaza Art Gallery in Vermuelen’s Plaza wins every year. A great selection and his attention to detail make Rosenfeldt the Golden Horseshoe winner again this year… wonder if he’ll frame it?

BEST FLOWERS

Golden Horseshoe

Plaza Art Gallery

Amir Zagar of Mother Earth Flowers. Photo by Jonathan Volzke

It says something that a town as small as Capistrano has four nurseries, and they’re all good. So it says even more that Plant page 9


lunch. We also suspect it took gold this year because it’s home to the Camino Real Playhouse’s summer Shakespeare Festival, where playgoers picnic.

Silver Horseshoe

Los Rios Park

NOMINEES: Casper’s Regional Park • Descanso Park • Mission grounds • Staging Area in Northwest Open Space • Shakespeare Festival LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Casper’s Regional Park

History & Heritage BEST HISTORICAL SPOT

Golden Horseshoe

Mission San Juan Capistrano

26802 Ortega Hwy., 949.234.1300

The fountain of the interior courtyard at Mission San Juan Capistrano. Not just one of our favorite spots, but one of Capistrano’s too. Staff photo

Depot is a perennial winner of this category. Plant Depot just has it all: a large selection of everything from trees to herbs, ground covering and pottery, gardening supplies and a friendly staff that knows its stuff.

Silver Horseshoe

Armstrong Garden Centers

32382 Del Obispo St., 949.661.6666

NOMINEES: Ito Nursery • Tree of Life Nursery LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Plant Depot

Outdoors BEST TRAIL Patriot’s (Flag on the Hill) Trail Created by the community, supported by Eagle Scouts Ryan and Kyle Pickell, the Flag on the Hill Trail is a good family hike that offers a bit of a challenge but rewards those who reach the flagpole with incredible views of the Dana Point shoreline and Capistrano.

Golden Horseshoe

Silver Horseshoe

San Juan Creek Trail

NOMINEES: Creek Trail To The Beach • Las Ramblas • Peppertree • Whispering Hills Trail LAST YEAR’S WINNER: San Juan Creek Trail

BEST PARK

Golden Horseshoe

Los Rios Park

Paseo Adelanto north of Del Obispo Street

The city’s newest park, a stone’s throw from Capistrano’s downtown, proves again to be page 10

Capistrano’s favorite park. A runner up for Best Picnic Spot, Los Rios Park offers a quiet spot for lunch, a place for the kids to play and a walk through Capistrano’s history.

Silver Horseshoe

Cook Park

28202 Calle Arroyo

NOMINEES: Four Oaks Park • Casper’s Regional Park • Historic Town Center Park • Mission Bell Park • Sports Park LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Los Rios Park

BEST STABLE

Golden Horseshoe

Ortega Equestrian Center

27252 Calle Arroyo, 949.661.3130

Kathy Holman and her crew continue to do more than their part to hold onto Capistrano’s equestrian tradition. While many of the stables in town are English-riding spots, Ortega remains western. That, and Holman’s ties to the community, are the reasons OEC riders open the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo every year.

Silver Horseshoe

Sycamore Trails Stables 26282 Oso Road, 949.661.1755

NOMINEES: Mission Trails • Rancho Sierra Vista • J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center • Tar Farms LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Ortega Equestrian Center

BEST PICNIC SPOT Historic Town Center Park Probably best known as the spot where Capistrano gathers for Summer Nites Concerts or the Annual Tree Lighting, Historic Town Center Park also offers a couple of tree-shaded tables perfect for an outdoor

Golden Horseshoe

Whether you go there for one of the great Music Under the Stars Concerts or to pray in Serra Chapel—the last building standing where Father Serra said Mass—the Mission finds a way to showcase Capistrano’s rich history for everyone.

Silver Horseshoe

Los Rios District

Los Rios Street, north of Del Obispo Street

NOMINEES: Hidden House Coffee • Little Hollywood Old Train Station • Los Rios District • Mission Parish Church • Montanez Adobe • O’Neill Museum LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Mission San Juan Capistrano

BEST CAPISTRANO TRADITION

Golden Horseshoe

Swallows Day Parade www.swallowsparade.com

The swallows put Capistrano on the map, but these days we see more visitors for the Swallows Day Parade than we do birds. That’s

OK, though, El Presidente Steve Weekes and his volunteer Fiesta Associate put on a great show. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t use a little help, though. Check out the website for volunteer opportunities.

Silver Horseshoe

Mission San Juan Capistrano

26802 Ortega Hwy., 949.234.1300

NOMINEES: Christmas at the Mission • Holiday Tree Lighting • Mission Bells on Sunday • Playhouse Melodrama • Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Swallows Day Parade

BEST PLACE TO SPOT THE SWALLOWS

Golden Horseshoe

Mission San Juan Capistrano

26802 Ortega Hwy., 949.234.1300

There’s no doubt the number of swallows returning to the Mission has declined over the years—other tall buildings in the area attract the birds now—but the Mission honors the tradition well and even brings out a renown swallows expert to let us get to know our winged visitors a bit better. Besides, the students who dress up as swallows for the Mission’s St. Joseph’s Day Celebration are cute enough for us.

Silver Horseshoe

San Juan Creek

NOMINEES: Bridge at San Juan Creek • Camino Capistrano and Del Obispo • Downtown • La Novia Bridge • Little Hollywood • Marbella Golf Course • Near the Train Depot • Zoomars LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Mission San Juan Capistrano

BEST EXAMPLE OF

‘PRESERVING THE PAST TO ENHANCE THE FUTURE’

Golden Horseshoe

Mission San Juan Capistrano

26802 Ortega Hwy., 949.234.1300

At more than 235 years old, Mission San Juan Capistrano keeps getting better. Executive Director Mechelle Adams, her staff and


Mission supporters keep a focus on history with changing museum-quality exhibits. The new gatehouse, under construction now, promises to add to the legacy.

Silver Horseshoe

San Juan Capistrano Historical Society

31831 Los Rios St., 949.493.8444

NOMINEES: Adobes • Blas Aguilar Adobe • Family Classic Cars • Swallow’s Inn • Train Depot • Open Space LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Mission San Juan Capistrano

BEST REASON TO LIVE IN SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO

Golden Horseshoe

The People

If you looked at a list of the 400-plus cities in California, Capistrano’s population would actually rank it near the middle. But it never feels like it. When we set aside the arguments over growth and politics, we all know Capistrano’s a special place that attracts special people.

Silver Horseshoe

Small Town Atmosphere

NOMINEES: Beauty • Climate • Downtown • Equestrian Lifestyle • History • Mission SJC • Old Town Feel/Ambiance LAST YEAR’S WINNER: The People

Showing Off BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT OF TOWNERS

Golden Horseshoe

Mission San Juan Capistrano

26802 Ortega Hwy., 949.234.1300

Beautiful grounds, Capistrano’s history showcased and that self-guided audio tour make the Mission the natural choice.

Silver Horseshoe

Los Rios District

Los Rios Street, north of Del Obispo Street

NOMINEES: Bad to the Bone • Bagel Shack • Los Rios Street • Café Mozart • Camino Real Playhouse • Cedar Creek Inn • Christmas Tree Lighting • El Adobe de Capistrano • Family Classic Cars • Hidden House Café • Ortega Equestrian Center • Ramos House Café • Ricardo’s Place • Regency Theatre • Ruby’s • Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot • Shea Therapeutic Riding Center • Swallow’s Inn • Tannins Restaurant and Wine Bar • The Antique Barn • The Black Cat Gallery • The Oaks • Depot Area • The Vintage Steakhouse

Carolyn Franks, with one of the star attractions at ZOOMARS Petting Zoo in the Los Rios District. Courtesy Photo

BEST PLACE TO TAKE CHILDREN

Golden Horseshoe

ZOOMARS Petting Zoo

31791 Los Rios St., 949.831.6550

Carolyn Franks runs a western wonderland for kids at the edge of the Historic Los Rios District: Pony rides, the bunny pen, parties and now even panning for gold. A great place to let kids be kids, for about the same price as a cup of java.

Silver Horseshoe

Mission San Juan Capistrano

26802 Ortega Hwy., 949.234.1300

NOMINEES: Ballpark Pizza • Bagel Shack • Family Classic Cars • Los Rios Park • Mission San Juan Capistrano • Ortega Equestrian Center • Pond at Plant Depot • Ruby’s • The Ceramics Studio • The Hot Lunch Lady LAST YEAR’S WINNER: ZOOMARS Petting Zoo



The Capistrano Dispatch-Best of 2011