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Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - June 28, 2013

Readers Choice: The votes are in

Check out the old favorites, new choices and best loved things in Pleasanton

by Isabella Ohlmeyer and Sierra Rhodes

The votes are in and readers have chosen their favorite services, restaurants, stores and more in our annual Readers Choice contest. With 28,477 confirmed votes throughout the Tri-Valley, readers of the Pleasanton Weekly and PleasantonWeekly.com cast their ballots in categories that included the best place for live music, the best place to jog and the best ice cream -- and services ranging from banks to photographers. Choices ranged from "mom and pop" enterprises on Main Street to popular franchises.

Here are the winners. See if your favorites are shared by others, and learn more about Pleasanton and all it has to offer.

Services

Best Bank -- Wells Fargo. More and more we bank with an ATM machine or computer rather than an actual person, but when you must go in person, our readers find Wells Fargo's staff friendly and polite.

Best Commercial Real Estate Service Provider -- Colliers International. Creativity, innovation and hard work drive the team at Colliers International, with this recipe for success winning the loyalty of our readers.

Best Computer Repair -- TriValley PC Medic. It's no surprise that TriValley PC Medic has won yet another best-of award. With over 20 years of experience, it provides professional support at homes or businesses, and has scads of satisfied customers.

Best Credit Union -- Patelco Credit Union. Clients of Patelco Credit Union call its service courteous, friendly, efficient and capable. Everybody wants their money in good hands, and our readers have voted Patelco's hands the best.

Best Dry Cleaner -- VIP Cleaners. VIP Cleaners has once again cleaned up the competition. For the eighth year in a row, VIP has been named the Best Dry Cleaner. It also does alterations.

Best Financial Planning Firm (Non-brokerage) -- Wealth Management Associates. Our readers trust Wealth Management Associates to help them focus on the important things in life, while the associates focus on staying in tune with the current market and making your financial portfolio its best.

Best Financial Planning Brokerage -- Charles Schwab. The place to get one-on-one help to make decisions with your money, Charles Schwab will guide you through financial ups and downs. Check out a free workshop -- whether or not you're a Schwab client.

Best Local Insurance Agent -- Renee Huber. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. State Farm insurance agent Renee Huber and her staff go above and beyond to make clients feel welcome and informed, offering professional advice and service as well as a personal touch.

Best Mortgage Company -- Landmark Mortgage Group. Customer for life is the guiding principle that fuels the Landmark team. Our readers know they can bank on Landmark.

Best Mortgage Professional -- Mary Lou Edwards. Marylou has been in the business for 16 years, and she takes all that experience right to her clients, giving them sound advice and a smooth loan process.

Best Photographer -- Bella Luna Studios. Christina Gray, owner and photographer of Bella Luna Studios, seems to have a magical eye -- taking pictures so beautiful they've inspired tears of joy. This is the sixth straight win for Bella Luna.

Best Real Estate Agent -- Gina Piper. Gina's passion is helping her clients meet their real estate goals, whatever they are. Our readers love her dedication and the wonderful relationships she cultivates with them.

Best Real Estate Team -- Moxley Team. With four generations of real estate experience, mother-son team Kris and Tyler Moxley are the duo to turn to if you have a home to sell or are looking to buy.

Best Real Estate Office -- Keller Williams. A lot of companies function like a family, and Keller Williams takes this to heart while focusing on service and productivity. No wonder they've won our Reader's Choice four years in a row.

Best Title Company -- Old Republic Title. Old Republic impresses with its strong work ethic and professionalism. Home-buying is stressful -- let Old Republic help you through the mountain of paperwork.

Health & Fitness

Best Acupuncture -- Eastern Medical. Some might squirm at the idea of having tiny needles stuck into their skin, but our readers trust Dr. Shen and the Eastern Medical staff to take care of them.

Best Chiropractic Office -- TIE --Amador Valley Chiropractic Group and Sohl Chiropractic. At Amador Valley Chiropractic Group, Drs. Lisa and George Kirk not only snap their patients' joints back in place with finesse, they care about their patients' non-skeletal well-being, too. Sohl Chiropractic sees its care as a way to fulfill its mission to impact humanity, by helping people feel better and reach their highest potential. Their patients say it is working.

Best Health Club -- ClubSport. Our readers' favorite place to get fit is ClubSport Pleasanton. They rave about its modern equipment and great personal trainers.

Best Hearing Services Provider -- Hearing Services. You've probably heard of Hearing Services. Serving the Tri-Valley for 27 years, it offers innovative digital hearing instruments, and countless testimonials say loudly and clearly that this is the place to go.

Best Massage -- Healthy Necessity Massage. Michelle Pena and the staff at Healthy Necessity Massage offer more than just a back rub. Our readers rave about the thorough massage therapy for all their aches and pains.

Best Martial Arts Studio -- Crispim BJJ Barra Brothers. No matter which discipline you're interested in, Crispim BJJ Barra Brothers has a bit of everything, from mixed martial arts (MMA) to "muay Thai," with instructors that care for their students and have respect for their martial arts.

Best Optometrist -- Foothill Optometric Group. Helping people see the light -- and everything else -- since 1983, Foothill Optometric Group is dedicated to customer service and vision solutions.

Best Place to Buy Fitness Equipment & Apparel -- Fleet Feet. Whatever you want -- shoes, equipment or apparel -- the staff at Fleet Feet will take the time to find the ideal match for you. Run, hop, skip or jump to Fleet Feet for all your fitness apparel needs.

Best Place to Walk, Jog or Bike -- Pleasanton Ridge. You can see all of Pleasanton from the top of Pleasanton Ridge. With numerous trails at many levels of difficulty, easy parking and a great view, it's a beautiful spot for being active outdoors.

Best Yoga/Pilates -- Zen Pilates & Fitness. Find your zen place with small classes and personal training. Zen Pilates and Fitness offers yoga, Pilates, flexibility, balance and core stability -- and it's snagged a third win in a row with our readers.

Beauty & Style

Best Consignment Store -- Savvy Seconds. An upscale consignment store, Savvy Seconds sells new and used clothes for women. Maintaining its chic outlook for its clientelle, this consignment store sells clothing by popular brand names such as Michael Kors, Chanel, Seven Jeans and Bebe.

Best Day Spa -- A Touch of Health. For 23 years, A Touch of Health has offered Pleasanton a place of relaxation. The day spa offers services such as microdermabrasion, eye refirming treatment, a Swedish massage, reflexology massage and a couple's massage.

Best Hair Salon for Men -- Cosmo's. A barbershop on First street, Cosmo's is a staple for quick and quality haircuts and hair care, for men, women and children, with friendly customer service.

Best Hair Salon for Women -- Hairlights. You may recognize Hairlights salon from its presentation booth and free braiding hairstyling during the 1st Wednesday Street Fairs downtown. Services include updo's, haircuts, highlights, keratin treatment, waxing and a Tea Tree scalp and hand massage.

Best Jewelry Store -- Cardinal Jewelers. This jewelry emporium specializes in custom designs, using your gemstones or its own. It also had a wide array of glittering jewels on display to purchase as gifts or as a treat for yourself. Knowledgeable professionals are always there and ready to help.

Best Nail Care -- Bollinger Nail Salon. This nail salon assures fine nail care treatment from start to finish. Services include manicures, pedicures, waxing, shellac manicures and acrylic full set manicures. No need to cross your fingers hoping for a good mani or pedi when you choose this shop.

Best Place to Buy a Gift -- Clover Creek. Located in the heart of Main Street, Clover Creek offers unique gifts such as silk flowers, 4th of July patriotic seasonal gifts and garden decorations. Pick up something for your home, too.

Best Clothing Store for Women -- Apparel and Company. This feminine original clothing store offers unique finds from T-shirts to skirts and pants. Once a year, Apparel and Company offers an "Everything 1/2 Off Sale" for its customers.

Epicure

Best American Food Restaurant-- Eddie Papa's American Hangout. This American infused restaurant serves iconic entrees such as Harlem fried chicken and waffles, Monticello acaroni and cheese, and a locally inspired Pleasanton summer S\salad with fresh mozzarella, cucumbers and red onions. Appealing to everyone, Eddie Papa's also offers gluten free menu/dietary accommodations.

Best Atmosphere -- Blue Agave Club. Known for its fanciful artwork throughout the restaurant, this fine Mexican eatery succeeds in creating a relaxed, enjoyable environment with its excellent customer service, calm blue color scheme and fascinating decorations displayed in the large outdoor patio area, not to mention its "alta cocina Mexicana" or fine cuisine.

Best Bakery -- Noland's Cake Shop. Noland's specializes in tending to impeccable detail both on the inside and outside of its delicious cakes. This shop leaves you with a permanent sweet tooth in regard to its cake flavor choices, such as vanilla custard, chocolate nut, white champagne and amaretto cream. Noland's creates cakes for all occasions, from weddings to children's birthdays.

Best Barbeque -- Dickey's BBQ. Creator Travis Dickey aims to satisfy the hunger of his customers, both first timers and Dickey's veterans, with his authentic Texas-style barbeque joint. The scrumptious menu includes fall-off-the-bone pork ribs, the popular spicy cheddar sausage, fried okra and a smokehouse salad.

Best Breakfast -- Jim's Country Style Restaurant. Pleasanton and Tri-Valley locals flock to Jim's for mouthwatering meals and good old-fashioned hospitality from the friendly staff. The delicious menu includes a grilled linguica sandwich (which may not qualify as breakfast fare) and barnyard favorite omelets such as the "Dina" omelet, which comes with ham, avocado, mushroom, sour cream and cheddar cheese.

Best Brew Pub/Sports Bar -- The HopYard Alehouse. This well-known American Alehouse & Grill, the HopYard, offers numerous beers on tap such as imperial IPA-style brews, Pliny The Elder and Blind Pig. Beer, sports on the big TV screens, and popular cheeseburger sliders make for an enjoyable experience.

Best Burger -- In-N-Out. A California classic, In-N-Out offers affordable burgers such as the "secret menu items" known as the protein style burger (meat wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun) and an animal style burger (with extra pickles, cheese, its special sauce and grilled onions mixed on the grill before being plopped on the burger).

Best Burrito -- Chipotle Grill. Chipotle Mexican Grill's fresh, jumbo-sized burritos are complete with cilantro-lime rice, pinto or black beans, barbacoa meat, salsa, cheese, guacamole, tomatoes and sour cream.

Best Chinese Restaurant -- Chinese Szechuan. Looking for a zesty Asian restaurant for tasty dining? Chinese Szechuan is just the ticket to a hearty meal. Try the mu shu pork, crispy pan-fried noodles and egg rolls.

Best Coffee House -- Peet's. Peet's offers delicious coffee and baked goods for its coffee-loving customers as well as gourmet teas, for a great pick-me-up in the morning or any time. Peet's ensures a welcoming environment all around -- and the fresh aroma of coffee.

Best French Fries -- In-N-Out. This popular hangout is known for its fresh hand-cut potato french fries. In-N-Out fries are prepared in cholesterol free vegetable oil so it makes for a healthier alternative at a fast-food restaurant.

Best Grocery Store -- Trader Joe's. Beginning in 1958, Trader Joe's was originally called Pronto Markets. Under either name, it promises quality food with low prices. With specialties such as Chunky Spicy Guacamole and Pizza Veggie Burgers, it's hard to stay away from this grocery store.

Best Health Food Store -- Valley Health Mill. This health food store offers knowledgeable customer service, high-quality supplements, grass-fed beef and lamb as well as gluten-free boiled asparagus. Valley Health Mill is passionate about encouraging people to consume healthy foods.

Best Ice Cream/Yogurt Shop -- Meadowlark Dairy. Craving some cool ice cream on a hot summer day? Well then Meadowlark Dairy is just the place for you. The Dairy's chocolate vanilla swirl in a cone or the seasonal pineapple soft serve ice cream is the perfect summer treat.

Best Italian Restaurant -- Fontina Ristorante. Buon appetito! Complete with a vegetarian menu option and a children's menu, Fontina serves high quality food and encourages its customers to enjoy every bit of their meal. Clams linguini and veal picatta are among many of the appetizing entrees at this restaurant.

Best Kid-Friendly, Non-Chain Restaurant -- Eddie Papa's American Hangout. Created by Pleasanton resident Edward Westmoreland, Eddie Papa's is known as the "cotton candy place" to kids, who receive a fun portion of grape, green apple or cherry cotton candy at the end of their meal.

Best Main Street Restaurant -- Oasis Grille. Oasis Grille has created a warm atmosphere and a topnotch dining experience, featuring Mediterranean fare. Enjoy an exotic cocktail outdoors near the Rose Garden, a special part of the restaurant.

Best Meal Under $20 -- Eddie Papa's American Hangout. The combination of Memphis pulled pork, bacon cheddar garlic fries and a soft drink all equal a grand total under $20. For a low-cost, well-made meal, Eddie Papa's is a great choice.

Best Mediterranean/Middle Eastern Restaurant -- Oasis Grill. Downtown Pleasanton's Mediterranean cuisine specialist, Oasis Grill on Main Street offers delicious Mideastern food, including kabobs, hummus, flatbreads and more. An appetizer sampling offers a "Tour of the Mediterranean."

Best Mexican Restaurant -- Casa Orozco. First operated in 1984, Casa Orozco offers a variety of meal combinations including tacos, enchiladas, tamales and other Mexican favorites. The pollo asado verde and pan-seared tilapia are Orozco specialties.

Best New Restaurant 2012 -- Habit Burger. Opening in Pleasanton in February 2012, Habit Burger's char-grilled flavor and affordable prices have folks waiting in long lines for their meals, which include original charburgers, teriyaki charburgers and barbecued bacon charburgers. Thank goodness for its pagers! Also, don't miss the onion rings.

Best Pizza -- Gay 90's Pizza & Pasta. Located in a historic building downtown that's reputed to have a ghost or two, Gay 90's Pizza & Pasta is the local favorite. From the Wayne's World pizza -- with garlic, onions, olives, feta cheese and tomatoes -- to the ham and pineapple Maui special to the plain ol' pepperoni, Gay 90's never disappoints.

Best Romantic Restaurant -- Barone's. A premiere dining establishment, Barone's sets the mood for romance. The Vineyard Room is the perfect ambiance for weddings and other events. In the backyard patio, there is live entertainment every Thursday evening during the summer.

Best Seafood Restaurant -- Strizzi's. The unique seasoning in the wood grilled salmon and seafood fettucine, complete with a garlic cream sauce, makes Strizzi's one of the best seafood restaurants in town.

Best Sushi/Japanese Restaurant -- Sozo Sushi. Sozo's is known for its delicious sushi and fine tasting meals, especially the raw sashimi plate. The Marilyn Roll and The Double Hamachi Roll are two sushi items on the menu to remember.

Best Take-out Restaurant -- Dickey's BBQ. Are you hungry, in a hurry and not willing to wait in line? Dickey's Barbeque offers an option to order online. Dickey's gives great service and quality food, whether for take-out or dining in.

Best Thai Restaurant -- Little Home Thai. This Thai cuisine is inexpensive and offers generous portions. Soft shell crab and pad Thai are among the most popular choices.

Best Vegetarian Cuisine -- Sweet Tomatoes. A healthy choice for a hearty meal, Sweet Tomatoes offers a variety of salads, including tossed and Caesar. Along with salads, there are hot pastas and kitchen favorites such as vegetarian bruschetta and vegetarian cilantro lime pesto pasta.

Kids & pets

Best Party Place for Kids -- Rockin' Jump. Open since 2010, Rockin' Jump offers a safe and fun place for kids to play trampoline dodgeball, dive into foam cubes, and enjoy the company of other kids at the facility. Rockin' Jump motivates kids to exercise in a fun and safe atmosphere.

Best Pet Groomer -- Shear Magic. With more than 25 years of grooming experience, the owners of Shear Magic promise to provide the best service to its furry customers. A full grooming package includes nail trimming, anal gland release and ear cleaning.

Best Pet Store -- Pet Food Express. Shop here for healthy pet foods of the best quality and with decent prices. Not only does this pet food store offer food and treats for dogs, it prides itself in helping homeless dogs find homes.

Best Place for Dance Lessons -- Jazz N Taps. For 21 years, Jazz N Taps has taught children and teens how to learn and develop dancing skills. Jazz N Taps offers a variety of lessons, including jazz, tap, modern, lyrical, hip hop and ballet.

Best Toy Store -- Golden Apple Learning Center. This store's mission is to sell toys that stimulate the imagination and create a learning experience for children. Its unique toys include a Jumbo ABC Chunky Puzzle, a Medieval Contraptions Trebuchet game and a Waboba Big Kahuna ball.

Best Tutoring Center -- Steps Community Prep School. This efficient tutoring program is taught by Pleasanton Unified School District instructors. Steps Community Prep School offers SAT preparation courses, college boot camp and a summer camp complete with SAT/ACT classes and academic classes.

Best Veterinarian -- Pleasanton Veterinarian Hospital. These veterinarians share their passion for the animals in their care, as they help with arthritis, dentistry, cancer and obesity.

Home & Vehicle Maintenance

Best Antique/Collectibles Shop -- Olde Towne Antiques Mall. Take a walk down memory lane at Olde Town Antiques Mall. Knickknacks, furniture, vintage cards, vases and more add up to a blissful feeling for lovers of antiques.

Best Art Gallery -- Studio 7. This gallery inhabits a light, airy space in a corner location on Main Street -- always a joy to visit. Stop in to peruse exhibits of sculptures, hand-blown glass, crafts and unique handcrafted jewelry, or ask for help in selecting the perfect original work for your collection.

Best Auto Dealership -- Lexus of Pleasanton. Lexus of Pleasanton provides a world-class experience when purchasing a vehicle, along with helpful customer service. Whether you are there for auto leasing, or buying a new or used Lexus, our readers say it's the place to go.

Best Auto Detail -- California Shine Co. The devil is in the details -- and that's what shows your automobile to its fullest advantage. This full-service car wash specializes in interior and exterior detailing and body work.

Best Car Wash -- Pleasanton Hand Car Wash. With high-quality equipment, such as microfiber drying towels, Pleasanton Hand Car Wash does not disappoint. Services include deluxe hand wash, specialty outside hand wash and a complete express hand wax.

Best Carpet Cleaning Service -- Glover's. In business since 1959, Glover's family-owned business prides itself on its excellent services, which include carpet re-stretching and repairs, cleaning area rugs, odorologist and wall-to-wall carpet cleaning.

Best Carpet/Flooring Store -- Carpetland. This place strives to sell the best soft floor decorating in town, carrying a variety of quality brands. Carpetland also sells laminate, vinyl, ceramic and wood flooring.

Best Deck and Fencing -- Borg Fence. Borg Fence offers decks built from redwood or composite materials as well as fences that range from wood to ornamental iron. It also sells retaining wall, arbors and specialty gates.

Best Domestic Car Repair -- Harry's Auto Repair. It can be scary to leave your car and its exotic problems in the hands of someone else, yet our readers trust Harry. He also touts reasonable prices.

Best Florist -- Alexandria's. With prices ranging from $45-$150, Alexandria's floral shop creates beautiful flower arrangements for birthdays, weddings, graduations, new babies, love and romance and much more.

Best Foreign Car Repair -- Precision Auto Repair. Precision Auto Repair offers routine maintenance, smog checks and oil changes. It also has excellent customer service in providing free shuttle service to and from BART, work or your home.

Best Hardware Store -- Workbench True Value Hardware. Workbench is the favorite go-to store for hardware supplies and home improvement products. Blade sharpening, lock re-keying, pipe cutting and propane exchange are all offered.

Best Homebuilder -- Ponderosa Homes. Ponderosa has been building homes since 1968; it recognizes that a home is more than a shelter -- it's a haven and it shapes your every day.

Best Home Contractor -- Borg Fence. Borg Fence creates a professional and friendly service in providing experience in commercial projects, and they gives free estimates.

Best Home Furnishings -- Clover Creek is a unique home furnishings and gift shop located downtown. Check out the special home accents, quality seasonal decorations and so much more.

Best Nursery/Garden Center -- Alden Lane. Just stepping foot in this garden center fires up your landscaping brain. It also promotes an environmentally friendly environment, with its beautiful plants, flowers, vegetables and fruit trees.

Best Outdoor Furniture Store -- Patioworld. Summertime is perfect for visiting Patioworld to choose from its stainless steel chairs and woven furniture. It also carries unique outdoor umbrellas in many shapes and sizes.

Best Place to Buy a Spa or Hot tub -- Alameda County Fair. From portable spas and saunas to jacuzzis and soft tubs, you'll find a huge variety of hot tubs at the Fair. By the time you finish walking around the grounds, you'll crave their soothing jets.

Best Plumber -- Valley Plumbing. For 31 years, Valley Plumbing has provided plumbing services that include pipe and drain repair, help with dripping faucets and toilet and shower clogs. It also does bathroom remodels with a showroom full of ideas.

Best Pre-Owned Car Dealership -- Lexus of Pleasanton. This dealership prides itself on helpful customer service, whether you are there for auto leasing or buying a new or used Lexus.

Best Roofer -- Sierra Roofing Systems. Our readers agree with Sierra's more than 10,000 satisfied customers -- in both residential and commercial roofing. It provides a leak-free guarantee on all roofing installments and fixtures.

Best Senior Living Facility -- Heritage Estates. Providing a mixture of fun and luxury, Heritage Estates is a senior living facility center with options of independent living, active adult or assisted living.

Best Tire Store -- Big O Tires. Our readers head to Big O for new tires, tire repair, wheel alignment, tire pressure check and tire mounting and rotation.

Rest & Recreation

Best Bookstore -- Towne Center Books. In a predominantly digital age, it's a beautiful thing to find a place where books are still objects of love. Not only does Towne Center Books feel like a bookworm's home away from home with truly personal and caring service, it also hosts author events and book groups.

Best Golf Course -- Callippe Preserve. This city golf course has fantastic views and is a wonderful setting for the intriguing sport of golf. The preserve also offers hiking trails, golf lessons and a restaurant appropriately named Vista.

Best Hobby/Craft Store -- Michael's Arts & Crafts. Looking for a make-your-own type of project? Michael's offers glitter-filled glass bottles, tie-dye T-shirts, scrapbooking supplies, ribbons and so much more.

Best Kept Secret Treasure of Pleasanton -- Firehouse Arts Center. Patrons can enjoy musical and theatrical performances in the theater, which is the venue for the professional Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre. Its Harrington Gallery offers frequently changing exhibits, and its classrooms are used for art classes and workshops, for adults as well as children. The building is an art treasure as well -- with some of the original Pleasanton firehouse still in place. It's especially stunning at night.

Best Local Winery -- Wente. One of the oldest, family-owned wineries, Wente provides public and private wine tastings, a golf course and a concert venue. Its eclectic offerings include Wine, Music and Food Trucks, and a Yoga and Wine Series.

Best Place for Dancing -- Barone's. With a gorgeous setting on the backyard patio, Barone's proves to be the perfect environment for outdoor dancing every Thursday evening from May 30 through Oct. 31, with live music by popular bands.

Best Place for Live Music -- Concerts in the Park. Looking for something fun to do on a Friday night? Concerts in the Park on First Street is the perfect place to be for all ages. Set out blankets on the grass before showtime and prepare to enjoy unstoppable bands -- if it's not enough to tap your toes, feel free to get up and dance.

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