The Best of Silicon Valley 2011
New Categories | Reader Picks
Best Ethnic Market
Multiple locations. Safeway has a lone "ethnic foods" aisle, but at Mi Pueblo every aisle offers delicious things to eat from Latin America. If you're fond of Mexican food—and who isn't?—this is your one-stop shop. Check out the in-store taqueria and grilled chicken.
Mitsuwa Marketplace 675 Saratoga Ave., San Jose; 408.255.6699
Bahar International Market 811 W. Hamilton Ave., Campbell; 408.378.7477
Best RamenRamen Halu
375 Saratoga Ave., San Jose; 408.246.3933. Silicon Valley is a culinary focal point for ramen, Japanese soup and noodles that is worlds apart from the 69-cent packaged stuff you can pick up at 7-Eleven. Ramen Halu serves ramen that all others should be judged by. Slurp with abandon.
Kumako 211 Jackson St., San Jose. 408.286.2111
Maru Ichi 530 Barber Lane, Milpitas, 408.434.5991; 368 Castro St., Mountain View, 650.564.9931
Best Green (as in Eco) Restaurant
37 S. First St., San Jose; 408.294.2694. Given the environmental impact of meat, going without is one of the best things you can do for the environment. But going without need not be about deprivation. Good Karma has all of the bases covered: friendly staff, locally owned, a cool vibe and meat-free vegan food that is good enough to attract vegans and carnivores alike.
Straits 333 Santana Row, San Jose; 408.246.6320
Flea St. Cafe 3607 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park; 650.854.1226
333 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos; 408.356.2729. This expansive, sprawling park has something for everyone. Vasona Lake County Park's 150 acres include hiking trails, climbing structures for kids, picnic areas and long stretches of grass for cartwheeling, frisbee or soccer, plus the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad, which begins across the way at Oak Meadow Park.
Castle Rock State Park 15000 Skyline Blvd., Los Gatos; 408.867.2952
History Park 1650 Senter Road, San Jose; 408.287.2290
15000 Skyline Blvd., Los Gatos; 408.867.2952. Castle Rock is known for its challenging hiking trails, which can be adventuresomely steep. Notched rock structures frame much of the park's many paths, which lead in and out of the forests along Highway 9 with amazing views out over the wilderness.
Los Gatos Creek Trail 1250 Dell Ave., Campbell; 408.356.2729
Rancho San Antonio 22500 Cristo Rey Dr., Los Altos; 650.691.1200
Best Biking Trail
Los Gatos Creek Trail
1250 Dell Ave., Campbell; 408.356.2729. For hikers and bikers alike, the Los Gatos Creek Trail provides a great commute, with wide-open stretches and plenty of friendly faces, especially from leashed dogs eagerly tugging at their owners. The path is completely paved and divided into two clear lanes and has entrances in Campbell, Los Gatos and Willow Glen.'
Coyote Creek Trail & Hellyer Park, Coyote Creek County Park 995 Hellyer Ave., San Jose; 408.225.0225
Joseph D. Grant Park, Mt. Hamilton 18405 Mt. Hamilton Road, San Jose; 408.274.6121
Best Holiday Celebration
Christmas in the Park
Plaza de Casar Chavez, Park Avenue and Market Street, San Jose; 408.995.6635. Since 1950, Christmas in the Park, first on Willow Street, then at City Hall and now in Plaza de Cesar Chavez, has delighted families from Thanksgiving to New Year's. The retro animated elves, reindeer and mice—not to mention the Christmas train and Santa House—evoke pleasant memories of holidays past. The fake snow is picturesque without being slushy. It's free, but some donations would help keep the tradition alive in hard times.
Oktoberfest, Campbell East Campbell Avenue, Campbell; 408.378.6252
Fantasy of Lights, Vasona Lake County Park 333 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos; 408.356.2729
Best Community Music Series
Music in the Park
Thursdays, June to August; Plaza de Cesar Chavez, Park Avenue and Market Street, San Jose; 408.279.1775. For more than 20 years, the summer concert series in downtown San Jose has drawn major performers (Pete Escovedo, Tony Lindsay, English Beat, Pato Baton, et al.) and big crowds to unwind after work. With two acts every Thursday, starting around 5:30pm, and no admission charge ever, Music in the Park has become one of the bedrocks of San Jose's summer scene. Metro has been sponsoring it all along.
San Jose Jazz Festival
Various venues, downtown San Jose; sanjosejazz.org
Music in the Park, Los Gatos Civic Center, 110 E. Main St., Los Gatos; 408.354.1155
Best Hookah Bar
2271 The Alameda, Santa Clara; 408.247.6653. Smoke This is easily the most popular hookah lounge in the valley; on weekends, getting your smoke on practically requires crowd control. The three secrets to their success: sink-into-your-couch comfort, attentive service and an intriguing menu of flavors.
Giza Hookah Lounge 18 N. First St., San Jose; 408.998.4622
Shisha Hookah Lounge 84 N.Market St., San Jose; 408.298.0300
Best Pearl Teas
Fantasia Multiple locations. It's not hard to remember a time when bubble tea wasn't available in every mall and shopping center in Silicon Valley. But now the Taiwanese-inspired tapioca ball and sweet milk tea phenomena has created a whole new beverage category. And Fantasia Coffee & Tea leads the pack.
Hydration Coffee & Tea 310 S. Third St., San Jose; 408.298.9968
Cafe Zen 43749 Boscell Road, Fremont; 510.656.1638
Best Smartphone OS
With a high-resolution display, intuitive finger commands and a wide lead in applications, the iPhone continues to be the smartest of smartphones, as vouched for by our readers in a sweeping victory in this first-time Best Of category. As the NRA types used to say, you'll get my iPhone when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.
Best Internet TV Option
The stock goes down, goes way up, comes back down again. Doesn't matter. Having pretty much vanquished video stores, Netflix now has Hollywood studio executives shaking in their Guccis at the thought that the Los Gatos-based company will colonize the movie industry the way iTunes did the music business. People want the convenience, the immediacy and the one-stop shopping for movies that Netflix provides. A variety of devices interface properly, and the base price is cheaper than waiting for DVDs to arrive by snail mail.
GoogleTV (Sony, Logitech Revue)
Best Lawyer, Family
Moreno Family Law Firm
1800 Hamilton Ave., San Jose; 408.266.9011. Known for working quickly and treating clients with respect, Moreno Family Law Firm specializes in separations as well as bringing people together. Divorce is never easy, but Moreno's attorneys have a reputation for at least making it amicable. And in case you're not so sure about him/her going into the marriage, the firm also has expertise in devising pre-nups.
Phil Hammer 60 S. Market St. #1400, San Jose; 408.287.9501
Blecher and Hubbell 1500 E. Hamilton Ave. #201, Campbell; 408.369.1010
Best Large Law Firm
Silicon Valley Law Group
25 Metro Dr., San Jose; 408.573.5700. There's nothing worse than trying to get an attorney on the phone with an important question, and then never hearing back. Silicon Valley Law Group specializes in a variety of business law, but its priority is to provide answers at the speed of business.
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati 650 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto; 650.493.9300
Hopkins & Carley 70 S. First St., San Jose; 408.286.9800
Best Lawyer, Business
480 N. First St. #101, San Jose; 408.603.7688. The economy has made times more than a little difficult, which is why finding a lawyer like Guy Caputo could be the difference between having a roof over your head or being out on the street. Offering free consultations and specializing in bankruptcy and creditor harassment, looking up Caputo could be worth the time when in a tough spot.
Cynthia G. Starkey 1153 Saratoga Ave., San Jose; 408.247.3454
Jon G. Brooks 941 W. Hedding St., San Jose; 408.286.2766
Best Lawyer, Criminal
Nolan, Armstrong & Barton, LLP
600 University Ave., Palo Alto; 650.326.2980. Guilty or not guilty, the first call to make when charged with a serious crime should go to the firm of Nolan, Armstong & Barton. All three partners are listed as some of the best in the country by www.BestLawyers.com. And since this is Silicon Valley, the firm is especially adept at handling white-collar crime cases.
Albie Jachimowicz 2007 W. Hedding St. #100, San Jose; 408.217.0356
Steven Clark 10 Almaden Blvd. #1250, San Jose; 408.271.3245
125 S. Market St. #1001, San Jose; 888.496.0311. A Columbia Law School graduate who was born in France and attended UC-Berkeley as an undergraduate, Steve Ellenberg is widely considered to be one of the most ethical attorneys in the Bay Area.
Marc Eisenhart 125 S. Market St. #1200, San Jose; 408.288.8100
Bradley Bening 50 W. San Fernando St. #400, San Jose; 408.289.1972
Best Small Downtown
As a model for small-town success, it would be hard to do better than Campbell. From the layout of its 100 percent walkable downtown and the cross-generational appeal of its broad range of culinary, drink and shopping options to its weekly farmers market and annual soirees (see Best Local Festival), there are plenty of reasons this place is always packed.