The Best of Silicon Valley 2011

Arts | Reader Picks

Rosicrucian Museum Rosicrucian Museum For readers, no other museum is quite so esoteric as the Rosicrucian.

Best Small/Quirky Museum

Rosicrucian Museum

1660 Park Ave., San Jose; 408.947.3636. The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum essentially began with one artifact: a statue of Sekhmet on Harvey Spencer Lewis' desk. That was almost 100 years ago, and after many life-cycles of expansion, the museum continues to be part of the social fabric of San Jose, housing 4,000 artifacts, the largest collection of authentic ancient Egyptian artifacts on display in Western North America.

History Park, San Jose 1650 Senter Road, San Jose; 408.287.2290

Computer History Museum 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View; 650.810.1010

Best Art Gallery

Anno Domini

366 S. First St., San Jose; 408.271.5155. San Jose has always been a place where, if folks want anything interesting to happen, they have to fight for it. For 11 years now, Brian Eder and Cherri Lakey of Anno Domini have done exactly that. The gallery has brought artists from all over the world to San Jose. They've also been intertwined with almost every interesting countercultural meme that's emerged during those last 11 years.

San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art 560 S. First St., San Jose; 408.283.8155

Empire Seven Studios 525 N. Seventh St., San Jose; 408.668.4434

Best Local Festival

Boogie on the Bayou

Downtown Campbell; Campbell does its downtown festivals right, and where it was once considered sort of a season opener for Big Bands & BBQ in July and especially Oktoberfest, Boogie on the Bayou has now officially arrived. Held every third weekend in May, and featuring live music along with arts and crafts booths and Cajun cuisine, the point is not so much gritty down-on-the-bayou authenticity as it is a great excuse for a Big-Easy-style party to kick off the summer season.

San Jose Jazz Festival Downtown San Jose;

Gilroy Garlic Festival Christmas Hill Park, Gilroy; 408.842.1625

Cinequest CINEQUEST John Turturro received a Maverick Spirit Award at this year's Best Of film festival.

Best Film Festival

Cinequest Downtown San Jose; 408.295.3378. At 21, Cinequest seems like it has been around forever. It's hard to remember that, once upon a time, it was just the most recent attempt to start a film festival in a market where more than a couple of such festivals had died on the vine. Today, this event brings the cinematic world to our doorsteps, through dozens of celebrated directors and actors. Cinequest is also the launching pad for numerous local talents.

Midnight Movies at Camera Cinemas

San Jose Short Film Festival

Best Open-Mic Night

Johnny V's Cypher, Wednesday 31 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose; 408.947.8470

Rooster T. Feather's, New Talent Showcase, Wednesday 157 W. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale; 408.736.0921

Barefoot Coffee Roasters, Wednesday 5237 Stevens Creek Blvd., Santa Clara; 408.248.4500

Cinequest San Jose Rep

Best Theater Company

San Jose Rep

101 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose; 408.367.7255. San Jose Rep is a cultural ornament to the valley; since 1980, it has been entertaining and enlightening hundreds of thousands of attendees. The Rep's upcoming season includes the provocative hit musical Spring Awakening, and then, in January 2012, the world premiere of a stage version of the noir gem Double Indemnity. They're continuing "Pay as you will Tuesdays" (March 24 this month) and continue with community outreach programs too numerous to name.

TheatreWorks Performances at the Lucie Stern Theatre, Palo Alto, and the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts; 650.463.1950

City Lights Theater Company 529 S. Second St., San Jose; 408.295.4200

SJ Ballet BALLET SAN JOSE The discipline and beauty of dance are well served at San Jose's resident company.

Best Dance Company

Ballet San Jose

40 N. First St., San Jose; performances at San Jose Center for the Performing Arts; 408.288.2800. As Ballet San Jose's acclaimed production of Swan Lake just demonstrated, the movies are no substitute for the grace and discipline of real dancers. Dennis Nahat's nimble company upholds the classical dance tradition with technical skill, exuberance and dedication.

Studio 10 Dance 6190 Bollinger Road, San Jose; 408.446.0103

Flamenco Society of San Jose Performances at the Historic Hoover Theatre, San Jose; 510.792.8355

Los Lupenos Performances at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, San Jose; 408.920.6070

Best Small Theatre Company

Children's Musical Theater

271 S. Market St., San Jose; performances at Montgomery Theater; 408.288.5437. Not only does CMTSJ provide young actors the chance to experience the thrill of live performance, the company also puts on consistently entertaining and often quite elaborate shows. Over the course of some 40 years, CMTSJ has instilled more than 100,000 kids with a feel for the magic of the stage.

Retro Dome 1694 Saratoga Ave., San Jose; 408.404.7711

Cardboard Box Theater Project Performances at WORKS/San Jose;

Best Concert Venue

Mountain Winery

14831 Pierce Road, Saratoga; 408.741.2822. Featuring arguably the best view of the valley one can get to without a grueling hike, a concert at Mountain Winery is like a mini-getaway. The lineups tend to do a excellent job of balancing veteran headliners with edgier openers, just as the bowl seating combines star-power shows with an intimate feel—which is perhaps why this spot gets more performers off the stage and up in the crowd than any other in the South Bay.

Shoreline Amphitheatre 1 Amphitheatre Pkwy., Mountain View; 650.967.4040

HP Pavilion 525 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose; 408.287.7070

Improv The Improv

Best Comedy Venue

The Improv

62 S. Second St., San Jose; 408.280.7475. With the "Improv" name providing industrial-strength comedy cred, this spot is able to snag big standup headliners the South Bay wouldn't otherwise get. The classic theater setting ranks it among the top clubs in the Bay Area for rolling in the aisles.

Rooster T. Feathers 157 W. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale; 408.736.0921

ComedySportz 288 S. Second St., San Jose; 408.985.5233

Best Local Winery

J. Lohr

1000 Lenzen Ave., San Jose; 408.918.2160 Last year, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named them American Winery of the Year. And just like last year, Metro readers again named the San Jose wine maker their favorite local winery.

Cinnabar 14612 Big Basin Way, Saratoga; 408.867.1012

Testarossa Winery 300A College Ave., Los Gatos; 408.354.6150

Gordon Bierch Gordon Biersch

Best Microbrewery

Gordon Biersch

357 E. Taylor St., San Jose, 408.278.1008; 33 E. San Fernando St., San Jose, 408.294.6785; 640 Emerson St., Palo Alto, 650.323.7723 Gordon-Biersch started right here in 1988, in the days when brewpubs were a complete novelty. The original location in Palo Alto led to the downtown San Jose landmark, with its Old World brick courtyard. This patio is the one of the best places around to be on a hot Friday afternoon. Over the years, G-B specialized in German-style beers; lately, it is also brewing heartier, hoppier beers to accompany their popular line of wheat, dark and lagers.

Rock Bottom Brewery 1875 S. Bascom Ave., Campbell; 408.377.0707

Los Gatos Brewing Company 130G N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos, 408.395.9929; 163 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose, 408.292.9928

Best Local Jock (except Greg Kihn)

Audio Dru

Is Audio Dru the hardest-working man in the South Bay electronic music scene? All we know is that while turning out a weekly radio show that Metro readers consistently vote among the best in the valley, he also runs open-mic fixture the Cypher (another Best Of winner this year), spins at local DJ showcases regularly, helps out Pacific Art Collective, pursues a photography career and writes a mean haiku.

Ophelia Necro, The Suicide Watch, KFJC

Robert Emmett, KFJC