http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2008/07/25/readers-choice


Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - July 25, 2008

Reader's Choice

The race is over. Find out who our readers named tops in town

by Jeb Bing, Janet Pelletier and Elyssa Thome

With 29,358 confirmed votes from 1,550 voters across the globe, our readers truly chose their favorite parts of Pleasanton--from Sports Park to downtown to Pleasanton Ridge. Besides local readers, votes came from other parts of California where the Pleasanton Weekly circulates or is read online, as well as from Oregon, Arizona and Texas, such cities as St. Louis, Boston, New Prague and London and even one sent from India.

The enthusiasm, the number of categories and Readers Choice candidates far exceeded last year as interest in the annual contest continues to grow. Despite the record-high number of votes, there was only one tie: Cyclepath and Bicycles! Pleasanton, both on Main Street.

Of course, this is a city that likes to participate. There are probably more commissions, committees, task forces, ad hoc groups and active nonprofit and citizens' organizations here than in any other town this size. A survey two years ago showed that 96 percent of the 67,000 people who live here think this is a great place to raise a family, that the schools and sports programs are good and that, despite a slowdown in home sales and a slight price decline, this continues to be an exceptional city for quality of life and job stability.

Around Town

Around Town headed the list of seven key categories where Readers Choices were lumped together by services, products and activities. An early winner in that group which stayed in the lead during the online voting was Lexus of Pleasanton, part of the Hendrick Automotive Group at 4345 Rosewood Drive, which won for Best Auto Dealership. On any weekday, the service bays are jammed with some of the thousands of Lexus automobiles in for oil changes and other services. That crunch could soon be eliminated when Hendrick moves its Lexus, Acura, BMW, Mini, Infiniti and Volvo dealerships to a new and larger auto mall that it plans to develop on 36 acres adjacent to the I-580-El Charro interchange. Hendrick has been a leader in developing the total 124-acre Staples Ranch property with Hendrick expected to move its 330 employees and the $335 million in annual taxable revenue that the business generates to the new location.

Besides auto dealerships, many of us work to keep our less-than-new (meaning old) cars clean and running. In that category, Pleasanton Hand Car Wash just across Santa Rita Road garnered the most votes in the Best Car Wash category. For expert detailing, which always adds that extra value to a premium car, California Shine Co. at 7090 Johnson Drive was a clear winner in the Best Auto Detail category.

To get those clean cars back on the road, Readers Choice for Best Car Repair this year is Precision Auto Repair. When it comes to tires for those clean-running cars, Big O Tires scored again in our readers' vote as the Best Tire Store/Service Center.

And then there was the other side of driving a flashy car in a city known for its tough-looking, stern-speaking police officers. Asked where the Best Place to Get a Traffic Ticket is, our readers had no hesitation in choosing Anywhere in Pleasanton. Thanks to Police Chief Mike Fraser and the city's traffic engineering staff, more flashing lights have been installed throughout the town to remind us just how fast we're going.

Shear Magic at 39 California Ave., Ste. 109, was the Readers Choice for Best Pet Groomer. Of course, if you have a dog, it's good to have a veterinarian and this year Pleasanton Veterinary Hospital was our Readers Choice for Best Veterinarian. Located at 3059-B Hopyard Road, the group offers preventive care, puppy care and geriatric care. (Sorry folks, that's for dogs and cats only.) And, if you have a dog you probably need a house, which takes us to Hometown GMAC at 4725 First St. at the south end of downtown Pleasanton, which won for Best Real Estate Office.

There were other bests, including our Readers Choice for Best Computer Repair, which TriValley PC Medic won, run by computer guru Ken Cook; Best Mortgage Professional, with our readers picking Residential Pacific Mortgage (RPM) , which has offices on Neal Street downtown and on Koll Center Parkway; Best Tutoring School, won by Steps Community Prep School, 2340 Santa Rita Road, Ste. 10; and Best Video/DVD store, which went to mail order company Netflix.

For the challenge or joy of the sport--or just plain fun--our own Callippe Preserve Golf Course came out a strong winner this year in the Best Golf Course category. Callippe, which opened three years ago, is seeing golfers teeing off in increasing numbers well over projections, which is good for golfers who don't have to join a private club or travel out-of-town to other public courses. An added plus: Golf carts now have their own GPS systems just to make sure you can find all of the meandering 18 greens.

Although Callippe might be a good place to meet that special someone--or at least find out if he/she likes golf as much as you do, the Best Place to Have a First Date award goes to Blue Agave Club, truly an enchanting place, rain or shine and even sitting outside under the heat lamps in cool weather. It's located at 625 Main St. While you're out, walk on down Main Street, to people watch, which is our readers' overwhelming choice for Best Place to People Watch. To commemorate these rendezvous, readers recommend Bella Luna Studios as the Best Photographer for the occasion, run by Christina Gray. If the two of you really hit it off, why not waltz over to Jazz N Taps, our Readers Choice as the Best Place for Dance Lessons. Located at 1270-A Quarry Lane off Valley Avenue, the studio focuses on developing coordination, confidence and teamwork.

Personal Care

You don't have to be high maintenance to enjoy some of the simple pleasures that Pleasanton stores have to offer in the personal care department. Readers told us everything from their favorite place to receive acupuncture to getting their clothes dry cleaned to styling and coloring their hair.

Winner for Best Acupuncture was Body in Balance, located at 4133-E Mohr Ave. The center defines its treatment as a dynamic medicine that understands and works with the body to keep it strong and balanced, including the use of acupuncture, herbal medicine, tai chi, tui na (a style of massage) and cupping.

When your finest garments need a coffee stain removed or just a general decleansing, you told us you took them to VIP Cleaners, which won Best Dry Cleaners this year and last year. VIP is located at 3120-E Santa Rita Road.

Another repeat winner was Fusion 3 SalonSpa at 722 Main St. for Best Hair Salon for Women. The popular salon sells Aveda products and services run the gamut from hair extensions, coloring, deep conditioning and straightening.

Mani/pedis are all the rage and leading that charge in Pleasanton is newcomer Euphoria Nail & Body Bar, which won the category of Best Manicure/Pedicure. Maybe customers are brought in by the allure of a "peppermint patty pedicure" or treatment with Egyptian milk and honey. Euphoria, which opened downtown this year, is located at 660 Main St.

And what better to go along with that mani/pedi than a relaxing Swedish massage? Our readers told us they prefer Pleasanton Spa, which garnered Best Massage in our Readers Choice. Located at 6155 Stoneridge Drive, Ste. 150, it offers a 6,000-square-foot retreat from the pressures of everyday life.

A good hair cut is something all men and boys need, even those with little on the top to trim. This year, readers chose Cosmo's Barber Shop, 4274 First St., as the Best Hair Salon for Men. Equipped and furnished much like men's barbershops over the last few decades, Cosmo commands the first chair as owners always do and adds to the tradition of conveying the latest Pleasanton news and chatter.

Dubbing themselves the ultimate medical makeover, Weekly readers agree that Essence MedeSpa is a medical spa miracle when they voted as the Best Medical Spa in town. Conveniently located downtown at 700 Main St., its services cater to those looking beyond a "superficial beautification process."

Specialty Retail

It's no surprise that Pleasanton residents had trouble narrowing down their favorite retail shops. After all, our downtown is home to some of the best specialty stores around.

Whether it's a specially-themed Dr. Seuss exhibit or exhibits by local Pleasanton artists, readers have spoken: Studio 7 Fine Arts is the Best Art Gallery. The gallery is located in the heart of the downtown, at 77 W. Angela St.

It was a dead heat when it came to Best Bicycle Shop in town, with popular shops Cyclepath, 337-B Main St. (behind Bank of America) and Bicycles! Pleasanton, 537 Main St., ending in a tie. You know you live in a great place when residents feel there are just too many great bicycle shops to pick an outright winner. Congratulations to both!

Best Bookstore was an easier choice, with frequent Readers Choice winner Towne Center Books stealing the show. The popular bookstore, located at 555 Main St., is owned by Judy Wheeler, who hosts many local author signings and some memorable Harry Potter book releases.

Who said second-hand was a bad thing? Not when it comes to brands such as 7 For All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity and other popular designer jeans brands. For those and other stylish pieces of clothing, our readers said Savvy Seconds was the Best Consignment Store. Savvy Seconds recently relocated to 560 Main St.

Whether it's an "I'm Sorry" or "Happy Anniversary," residents said Alexandria's is the Best Florist in town. Located at 3037 Hopyard Road, the shop is proud to say it's family-owned and goes the distance to provide the best and most appropriate floral arrangement.

Located in the same shopping center as Alexandria's is Valley Health Mill, which for a second consecutive year has won Best Health Food Store in our Readers Choice. Residents say they buy items there that they can't find elsewhere.

Another consecutive winner was California Stampin', where scrapbook aficionados can get their fix. Located at 5480-2 Sunol Blvd., the store received Best Hobby/Craft Store.

When it comes to picking out anything from earrings to bracelets to necklaces and rings, residents said they frequent the Jeweler's Gallery at 614 Main St., which won for Best Jewelry Store.

Best Pet Store went to Murphy's Paw, 410 Main St. Murphy's Paw, a newer pet shop, is named after owners Mike and Melanie Sadek's golden retriever Murphy, whom they love to spoil with pet toys and accessories.

When it comes to Best Place to Buy a Gift readers chose Domus, 652 Main St. Sad to say, the owners have decided to move on to other pursuits and will close the store next Thursday, July 31. Shoppers are already jamming in the store for close-out specials.

Pleasanton is a pretty sports-savvy town and the place readers say they're most likely to go to buy equipment was Sport Chalet. The winner of Best Place to Buy Athletic Equipment is located at 4555 Rosewood Drive.

It's hard these days to find a specialized toy store, but GR Doodlebug continues to impress customers, who chose it as Best Toy Store. GR Doodlebug is located across from Tully's Plaza at 350-A Main St.

For the best selection in merlots, cabernets and chardonnays, residents venture to The Wine Steward, located in the expansive old Roxy Theatre at 641 Main St., which won for Best Wine Store. You're bound to find what you're looking for and more.

Women's athletic store The Passionate Athlete took home honors for Best Women's Clothing Store. Located at 440 Main St., the store has something for every occasion, whether it's taking a leisurely walk, exercising or going on vacation.

Epicure

Pleasanton is home to a wide variety of choices when it comes to enjoying the finer side of food and drink (or less fine if that's more your taste). Maybe that's why this category has 31 winners. This probably hasn't made your decision for dinner tonight much easier, but everyone's a winner when it comes to these places.

Starting at home, almost, this year's Best Assemble Your Own Meal Store goes to GourMade Cookery, found at 7060 Koll Center Parkway, Ste. 320. At GourMade, readers create several months' worth of gourmet meals in one visit which they can cook in their own kitchen at a later date. When the meal gets rave reviews you can take all the credit without any guilt because you did make it yourself!

If you decide instead to leave your house for a fancy meal, you'll probably run into other Pleasanton Weekly readers at one of the following places.

This year, Blue Agave Club won big, taking the title of Best Margarita, Best Outdoor Dining and Best Atmosphere. The long list of available margaritas certainly offers variety, and if you try enough of them you won't even need the heat lamps on the patio to keep you warm. The atmosphere--and tequila--Blue Agave is known for can be found at 625 Main St.

Best Mexican Restaurant has a new winner this year--Casa Orozco. The authentic Mexican eatery was started by the Orozco family in Livermore and it now boasts a location in Dublin, too. Casa Orozco is located at 325 S. L St., Livermore.

If you are looking for Best Barbecue, readers voted Red Smoke Grill king of the grill this year. Located at 4501 Hopyard Road., you can dine in or take out your barbecue favorites frorm Red Smoke Grill.

For the Best French Fries, readers say The Hop Yard Alehouse & Grill (3015-H Hopyard Road) is the best spot in town, and if you're lucky our summer reporter intern Elyssa Thome might bring them hot to your table. When she's not at her desk she is usually wearing a Hop Yard apron, and after three years working there she still likes the fries, too.

For the Best Burger and Best Take-Out Restaurant, our readers keep it simple and fast with In-n-Out Burger. Whether ordering one of the basics or a secret menu specialty, the fast food made fresh found at 6015 Johnson Drive is always a California, and Pleasanton, favorite.

Mahalo Grille stole the show with Best Seafood Restaurant. The restaurant, located at 425 Main St., describes its food as the fusion of tropical cuisine with inspiration from the Hawaiian islands. Sea bass, Ahi tuna and mahi-mahi are just some of the fish on the menu.

Readers who prefer their fish uncooked--as well as many who like hot, cooked meals--chose Sozo Sushi at 2835 Hopyard Road as the Best Japanese Restaurant, both for lunch and dinner. Several emailed us comments praising the restaurant's sushi bar and party trays, saying it's the one place in town where they can satisfy their sushi cravings.

For those looking for a fine dining experience, Hap's Original Steakhouse is the place to go. Located at 122 W. Neal St., the winner of Best Steakhouse is known for its flavorful filet mignon using USDA-certified Angus beef.

Anyone in search of a little piece of Paris should check out C & D's Bistro at 210 Rose Ave. This year's Best French Restaurant may have shortened its name but it's not short on taste. Formerly Claude and Dominique's, the new owners are still getting readers' votes.

For the Best Italian Restaurant, readers chose La Vite Ristorante (formerly Garlic di Pasta). Readers seem to enjoy the wide variety of authentic and delicious Italian food the restaurant is known for. La Vite Ristorante is located at 3037-G Hopyard Road.

Best Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern restaurant this year went to Oasis Grille at 780 Main St. Ste. 101. Oasis's fusion grille and wine lounge offer an exotic and unique dining experience downtown for those who want to try something exotic.

Traveling farther East in global cuisine, readers voted Sugandh Indian Cuisine for Best Indian Restaurant. Sugandh features a popular lunch buffet as well as Indian cuisine favorites, all of which can be found at 4515 Rosewood Drive, Ste. 700.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro, the newest outside link to Stoneridge Shopping Center, is also our Readers Choice for the Best Chinese Restaurant in Pleasanton. Nationally-known, the restaurant at 1330 Stoneridge Mall Road opened here in November 2006.

Rounding out our local foreign selections, Best Thai Restaurant goes to Lux Thai at 4301 Valley Ave., Ste. D. for pad thai and yum that will make you say "yum".

Whether it's the first date or the 100th, readers looking for the perfect night with their significant other go to Barone's at 475 St. John St. This year's choice for Best Romantic Restaurant features continental cuisine, live music and candlelight perfect for setting the mood.

For the third time, Gay 90's Pizza & Pasta is our readers' favorite place for that Italian-American favorite--pizza! This year's Best Pizza can be found at 288 Main St., in a building that houses as much Pleasanton history as flavorful pizza (which is a lot).

Even though so many winners are located downtown, readers chose a different one for Best Main Street Restaurant. After a narrow loss last year, Stacey's Cafe took the category this year. Readers also voted Stacey's the Best Place for a Business Lunch. Stacey's menu includes the special touch of Scott Adams, co-owner and creator of the "Dilbert" comic strip, so readers can look forward to a laugh with their meal. The food must be pretty good, too, to be the best restaurant on Main Street (310 Main St. to be exact).

For a sweet treat after any meal, or before, readers chose Cold Stone Creamery as this year's Best Ice Cream/ Yogurt Shop. With one store downtown in the Tully's center and one at Hacienda Crossings, the create-your-own style and lively employees (who sing for tips) make Cold Stone this year's favorite.

Vegetarian readers in search of meatless options chose Sweet Tomatoes for Best Vegetarian Cuisine. With a soup and salad bar that makes choosing your own ingredients convenient and fun, Sweet Tomatoes (at 4501 Hopyard Road) makes for a tasty meatless meal.

Wine connoisseurs once again went outside the city limits for Best Winery. Wente Vineyards of Livermore took the title once again for its family owned and distinguished vintages, as well as restaurant and concerts found among the vines.

Our Readers Choice for Best Bakery is Noland's Cake Shop, 205 Main St. Specializing in cakes for all occasions, Noland's is known for its expansive flavor offerings and creative designs.

When it comes to Best Breakfast in Pleasanton, our readers frankly rocked over Dean's Cafe, the old-fashioned blue plate special type of restaurant that seems to age right along with Main Street. The omelettes are to die for but the gravy and biscuits are good, too, if calories and cholesterol are not your concern. Dean's is located at 620 Main St.

By an overwhelming vote, readers chose High Tech Burrito at 349 Main St. for the Best Burrito in town. Patrons love the downtown setting and, of course, the beans, rice and other fillings bursting at the tortilla seams.

With its sumptuous entrees from a New York steak to Hawaiian Lanai chicken sandwiches and a surprisingly kid-friendly atmosphere, Eddie Papa's American Hangout at 4889 Hopyard Road is our Readers Choice as the Best American Food Restaurant and also the eatery with the Best Meal Under $20. The food is good, the service is excellent and one reader proclaimed that the macaroni and cheese with potato chips on top instead of bread crumbs was a very nice touch. Add all that to reasonable prices and it's worth a try if you haven't yet been there.

Whether it's for a chai latte or cappuccino, readers swarmed us with votes for Peet's Coffee & Tea, 5765 Valley Ave., Ste. 100, as the Best Independent Coffee House in Pleasanton. Its distinctive new building replaced the old (and long empty) US Bank building.

Let's Get Physical

We hope the song that inspired this title is now stuck in your head, and while it's there maybe it will inspire you to "get physical". Many Pleasanton residents are there already and have chosen their favorite spots to exercise, indoors and out, whether their idea of a workout is walking the dog, hiking, training or martial arts.

While there are trails throughout the city with more to come, this year's Readers Choice is, once again, the Pleasanton Ridge for Best Bike or Walking Trail. The steep and varied inclines present a challenge to all levels of athletes, but the payoff is always worth it with views of the Tri-Valley from the top (and middle if you don't quite make it all the way up).

For Best Place to Jog, readers go to the Sports Park at 5800 Parkside Drive. Miles of sidewalk run through and around the fields, so you can catch a game while you run, too.

For those who want to exercise AND learn how to win a fight, last year's runner-up Jue's Taekwon-Do, took first place this year for Best Martial Arts Studio. Located at 5460 Sunol Blvd., Ste. 8 in the Raley's Shopping Center, readers this year think Jue's is the best place to get their kicks.

Another returnee, Downtown Yoga, located at 220B Division St. won this year's Best Yoga/ Pilates. With prenatal classes, as well as specialized classes for all ages and levels of expertise, residents once again said Downtown Yoga is the best place in town to do the "downward dog."

If health clubs are more your style, ClubSport took home the title of Best Health Club this year. Located at 7090 Johnson Drive, the club recently added another lap pool to the list of amenities and classes that keep readers voting and exercising.

For a more private exercise experience, the Readers Choice for Best Personal Trainer goes to newcomer Fitness Together--Ruby Hill at 101 E. Vineyard Ave. Ste. 111 in Livermore. At Fitness Together (which is almost in Pleasanton), training is one-on-one and more private than other clubs, qualities readers took into consideration when voting.

For a less structured workout, and a less structured answer, readers voted Any Pleasanton Park the Best Place to Walk a Dog. But please remember to clean up after your pet!

At Home

With thousands of homes built during the boom-time construction years of the 1970s, '80s and '90s, many are ready for upgrades, renovation, new furnishings and new roofs. Voters chose from a wide selection of retailers, vendors and service companies--many from personal experience in undertaking these projects--with a vast majority of votes going to Workbench TrueValue Hardware, located at 1807 Santa Rita Road, for Best Hardware Store. Could it be homeowners are doing the work themselves?

When it comes to making improvements outside the home, readers picked Bruce's Tree Service as the Best Landscaper/Designer, Serenity Stoneworks, 252 Main St., as the Best Outdoor Furniture Store, and Wicks Roofing Company, 5424 Sunol Blvd., Ste. 130, as the Best Roofer in town.

Opening the door and going inside, readers voted S&G Carpet, 6070-F Johnson Drive, as the Best Carpet Store, and also as the Best Flooring Store. When you need those new carpets cleaned, reader chose Tiger Carpet Cleaning, 5750-D Sonoma Drive, as the Best Carpet Cleaners.

The rage these days is to upgrade the 1980s-1990s look in kitchens and bathrooms, and readers selected KDC Kitchens, 3732-A Stanley Blvd., as the Best Kitchen/Bath Remodeler. Most kitchen and bathroom projects often require a plumber--a need that comes in high volumes after too much turkey fat is poured down kitchen drains after Thanksgiving--and Valley Plumbing, 272 Rose Ave., won the most votes in the Best Plumber in Pleasanton category.

Readers chose Clover Creek at 670 Main St. as the Best Home Furnishings Store, which has a large inventory of merchandise that makes homes cozy and spectacular on the inside. Readers chose Consignment Plus as the Best Home Consignment Shop, located at 4250 Rosewood Drive.

Also in this "At Home" voting section was a question to readers on what they believe is the city's Best Antique Store. Tattered Treasures, 5737 Valley Ave., was our Readers Choice by a wide margin.

Stepping Out

In a tight-knit community such as Pleasanton, residents say they enjoy the small-town nature and such events at Concerts in the Park and the Farmers' Market.

Winner for Best Place For a Picnic was the Friday Night Concerts in the Park series, sponsored by the Pleasanton Downtown Association and the Pleasanton Weekly, and held in Lions Wayside Park. But you better get there early because people start laying down blankets early Friday mornings during the summer concert season.

After a long day at work, residents agree that the Hop Yard Alehouse & Grill is the place to go, named Best Place for an After Work Drink. It's no wonder because the Hop Yard has a large selection of beers on tap, not to mention those garlic fries.

And after that after work drink, some may venture over to the Best Place for Dancing, Aura Nightclub, located at 4825 Hopyard Road, Ste. 10. The owners of Aura also own popular San Francisco nightclub Ruby Skye and the club often features well-known DJs such as DJ AM.

When it comes to getting together with the crew, readers said Downtown Pleasanton was the Best Place to Get Together With Friends. And the Best Place to Meet New People? Why, that's the downtown Farmers' Market, featuring fresh locally-grown produce and other related booths scattered downtown on Saturday mornings.

With Pleasanton still growing, school enrollment bursting at the seams, the housing market cautiously but still successfully working its way through the subprime mortgage loan dilemma that seems to have escaped most of us, and businesses expanding and new ones opening up, we look for another exciting "Readers Choice" in 2009. See you then.

Comments

Posted by AF, a resident of another community
on Jul 25, 2008 at 1:47 pm

This makes me miss Pleasanton so much!!


Posted by News, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2008 at 3:05 pm

For best Daily Newspaper:
The Valley Times

For best Weekly:
The Independent


Posted by Bad news, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Feel free to delete this post, as well as the jerk above me.