The Best of Silicon Valley 2012
Best Shopping: Miscellaneous
Best Place to Hold a Wedding Reception
14831 Pierce Road, Saratoga. Metro voters have chosen the Mountain Winery as a great place to see a concert as well as the perfect spot to tie the knot in style. The location provides both unparalled views of the twinkling lights of the valley but also superb food and an event staff that has extensive experience in pampering couples on their big day.
Montalvo Arts Center 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga
Dolce Hayes Mansion 200 Edenvale Ave., San Jose
Best Antique Shop
Not Too Shabby
481 S. Bascom Ave., San Jose. Need a vintage green gas pump? How about a Little Orphan Annie tin toy stove? Or maybe a complete block of metal school lockers? The well-stocked Not Too Shabby collective on Bascom is full to bursting with antique furniture and fascinating collectibles. The outdoor section offers both expected garden art (wrought-iron fence sections) and unexpected inspiration for adventuresome landscapers—like streetlights and a decommissioned rowboat.
Willow Glen Collective 1349 Lincoln Ave., San Jose
Antiques Colony 1881 W. San Carlos St., San Jose
Best Place to Fake a Game of Chess
Chess Court, Santana Row
"The biggest waste of mental energy this side of an ad agency," snarked Philip Marlowe, detective. Bring the pieces and set them up; among the upscale saunterers there must be someone with the chops for a cutthroat game. If (as is more likely) not, lay out the pieces in the Ruy Lopez position and hang out, gazing thoughtfully at the board. Wait to be interrupted and feel inward happiness knowing you now have a license to loiter without buying anything in this shopping village.
Best place for hipsters to buy a Corn Cob Pipe
Mission Pipe Shop
1205 The Alameda, San Jose. What's out is in in the lala land of hipsters, but smoking never loses its luster. Mission Pipe Shop has earned its reputation as a premiere establishment for fine cigars, tobacco and hand-crafted pipes, and the variety of styles will cater to every type of smoker.
Best Art Supply Store
267 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto; 456 Meridian Ave., San Jose. In addition to a complete selection of materials, from pigments and palettes to canvases and cutters, University Art offers classes and demonstrations—in oils, watercolors, pastels and more—by seasoned artists.
D&J Hobby 96 N. San Tomas Aquino Road, Campbell
The Arsenal 1202 The Alameda, San Jose
Best Place to Buy Music
1820 S. Bascom Ave., Campbell; 1939 W. El Camino Real, Mountain View. The Bascom location can induce sensory overload at times: all those shelves, all those albums, all those DVDs. By the time you rifle through every bin from one end of the store to the other, likely the stock has been replaced, and you'll have to start all over. Particularly impressive is the selection of classic movies, including Criterion titles.
Streetlight Records 980 S. Bascom Ave., Campbell
On the Corner Music 530 E. Campbell Ave., Campbell
Best Toy Store
The Wooden Horse
796 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos. The true measure of a great toy store is its ability to imbue adults with the same desires as youngsters: A fun ride that glides on a steel cable above the ground? Absolutely. A deluxe pounding bench? Talk about stress relief for all ages. The store also hosts story–time parties to ease 4-to-10-year-olds into slumber land.
D&J Hobby 96 N. San Tomas Aquino Road, Campbell
Treehouse in the Glen 1275 Lincoln Ave., San Jose
Best Comics Store
2050 Lincoln Ave., San Jose. This Willow Glen shop has outlasted a lot of the competition, likely because of its passion for comics, from familiar superhero lore, manga and classic reprints to semiautobiographical graphic novels. Visitors now get a price break with the Hijinks Comic Book Club, which allows frequent-shoppers store credits.
Legends Comics & Games 10123 N. Wolfe Road, Cupertino
Lee's Comics 1020 N. Rengstorff Ave., Mountain View
Best Independent Bookstore
1066 The Alameda, San Jose; 275 E. Campbell Ave., Campbell. After the last Kindle has winked out, people will still crave the tactile pleasure of a good printed book. Recycle remains a treasure trove of bibliophilic pleasures, from a good pulp-mystery paperback to coffee-table art tomes. The friendly store cats add a note of feline self-assurance to the most fruitful of idle pastimes: hunting for old books.
Hicklebee's 1378 Lincoln Ave., San Jose
Kepler's 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park
Best Car Wash/Detailing
Classic Car Wash
Multiple locations. This is Classic Car Wash's eighth year as the winner in this category. If someone's going to take them out at this point, they're gonna need a bigger boat. The Delta Queen, built like a Mississippi riverboat, was the first-ever themed car wash, and it's still the jewel of the fleet. But all the locations have their own character and offer a full-service experience far beyond the typical sponge-and-bucket-while-you-wait.
Lozano's Multiple locations
AJ Auto Detailing 702 Coleman Ave., San Jose
Best Independent Hardware Store
Willow Glen Hardware
2253 Lincoln Ave., San Jose. Willow Glen Hardware is popular both for its selection of tools and supplies but also for its knowledgeable employees who can explain how to keep that DIY remodel on track.
Southern Lumber 1402 Monterey Hwy., San Jose
Palo ALto Hardware 875 Alma St., Palo Alto.
Best Garden Store
1361 S. De Anza Blvd., Cupertino. A real tradition in the valley's gardening communities, Yamagami's is a consistent favorite with Best of voters for its extensive selection of everything from bare-root fruit trees to all kinds of native plants and vegetables.
Almaden Valley Nursery 15800 S. De Anza Blvd., Cupertino
Summerwinds Nursery Multiple locations.
Best Gift Store
1395 Lincoln Ave., San Jose. For all occasions, Domus has a suggestion honed by three decades of connoisseurship in the art of making the right choice. The selections cover the whole home—from linens to bar accoutrements—and the great outdoors, with a nifty new backpack-cum-picnic set for day-tripping gourmets.
San Jose Museum of Art Museum Store 110 S. Market St., San Jose
Spencer's Multiple locations
Best Luxury or Boutique Hotel
170 S. Market St., San Jose. The location can't be beat—in the heart of downtown overlooking the Circle of Palms. The lobby defines elegance, and the luxurious rooms are well appointed enough to make any guest feel like a dignitary or touring rock star.
Hotel De Anza 233 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose
Hotel Valencia 355 Santana Row, San Jose
Best Flower Shop
3100 Stevens Creek Blvd., San Jose; 990 E. Hamilton Ave., Campbell; 800 Scott Blvd., Santa Clara. This family business is the valley's premier spot for bouquets, floral gifts, plants in full flower, corsages and theme decorations.
Bunches 14 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos
Bloomster's Floral Designs 5945 Almaden Expwy., San Jose
Best Stationery Store
334 Santana Row, Ste. 1020, San Jose. No text, no ping, no email can match the personal touch of a hand-written note on handmade paper. Paper Source concentrates on beautiful papers in many sizes, with delicate envelopes to match.
MaiDo Fine Stationery & Gifts 378 Santana Row, Ste. 1125, San Jose
Out of the Envelope 326 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos
Best Limousine Service
2590 Lafayette St., Santa Clara. A Prius may be fine for commuting, but when one wants to make a vehicular statement, Le Grande Affair can roll out a Lincoln big enough to hold 14, or a stretch Hummer with stereo, a lighting system and a "disco floor" for the ultimate prom experience.
Cloud 9 Limousine 830 Auzerais Ave., San Jose
Bauer's Limousine 1615 Airport Blvd., San Jose
Best Organization Making a Difference
Second Harvest Food Bank
750 Curtner Ave., San Jose; www.shfb.org. In a time of recession and halting recovery, a group like Second Harvest Food Bank is needed more than ever. For nearly a quarter-century, Second Harvest has been helping the people most in need—reaching some 10 percent of folks in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Food donations are always welcome, and always important.
Planned Parenthood Multiple locations
Hospice of the Valley 4850 Union Ave., San Jose
Best Family Lawyer
10 Almaden Blvd., #10, San Jose. Camilla Cochran rates high marks for her persistence and deep knowledge of the laws governing divorce and custody.
Brooke Blecher, of Blecher & Hubbell 1500 E. Hamilton Ave., Ste. 201, Campbell
Marilyn Moreno, of Moreno Family Law Firm 1506 Hamilton Ave., San Jose
Best Criminal Lawyer
10 Almaden Blvd., #1250, San Jose. Once a prosecutor in Santa Clara County, Steven Clark knows his way around the criminal courts, and can help in a time of need, from traffic violations to parole issues.
Traci S. Mason 45 E. Julian St., San Jose
Emily Phan 255 N. Market St., #265, San Jose
Best Vicarious Down-Under Experience
Australian Products Company
3680 Stevens Creek Blvd., San Jose. Buried away on a long stretch of Stevens Creek Boulevard, characterized by car lots and strip malls, a seemingly endless street resembling the fine promenades of suburban Torrance, one discovers Australia. That is, this nondescript retail masterpiece will surprise even the most discerning Aussie wannabes. The store carries boomerangs, koala bears, kangaroo pencils and so much more. Art, underwear, footwears, drinks, vegemite and DVDs are all here for your perusal. Never thought you would find Australia in San Jo? Think again.
Best Place to Urn One's Keep
Paradise Art & Garden
1490 Park Ave., San Jose. As Park Avenue escapes from San Jose into Santa Clara, it bisects the Shasta-Hanchett mansions and the Rosegarden district. As it careens its way toward the Rosicrucian Museum and Hoover Middle School, Park can claim to host a gorgeous outdoor retail area filled with urns, headstones, ceramic oddities, statues and all the sculptures one can curiously look at. This pottery and statuary garden features priceless goods for landscaping or to make art with. If you want a giant ceramic frog, a fish, a few religious figurines or just a giant urn for that rich art lady in the family, this is the joint for you.