The Best of Silicon Valley 2011
Best Place to Pop Off an Assault Weapon
Best in the West
Playing with automatic weapons in 2013 America is very out-of-fashion and probably not a good thing to do anyway. If you have an overwhelming desire to pop off multiple rounds and need a place to do it safely, we recommend the largest invitational S.W.A.T. competition in the Western United States. Best in the West is run by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office and takes place each September. Members of the Sheriff's Advisory Board and invited guests can fire machine guns at targets with a certified instructor, providing a dose of Second Amendment excitement without all the nasty side effects.
Best Commercial Neighborhood Improvement
Lincoln Avenue Willow Glen
While tons of public funds have transformed Mountain View, downtown San Jose, Sunnyvale, and King and Story, with mixed degrees of success, little Willow Glen plugged along with private capital. The result: an authentic business district that's popping with owner-operated small retail stores and restaurants, including one of the valley's last independent bookstores. The effort has been so well embraced by the public that the new threats are parking problems and rising rents that endanger smaller boutiques.
Best Gravy Train
Santa Clara County Government
Ever since San Jose's city government started exercising some fiscal discipline, the trough-feeders have set their sights on the $4 billion county budget. The county has been only too happy to comply, handing out P-cards to electeds and $100,000 grants to political organizations masquerading as health care nonprofits for things like "flash mobs" and "outreach." Supervisors, county administration, auditors and the news media, until recently, have been only too happy to look the other way.
Best New Greek Restaurant
Nemea Greek Taverna
96 S. First St., San Jose. One of the new bright spots on the culinary scene is Nemea, a white-tablecloth restaurant in downtown San Jose with uniformed waiters who serve authentic food while maintaining a relaxed and informal atmosphere. The food and wine are authentic, and the desserts steal the show. A cocktail lounge nicely completes the mix.
Best Asian Street Food
340 S California Ave., Palo Alto
Best New Coffee Roaster
5237 Stevens Creek Blvd., Santa Clara. Artisan coffee roasting is a serious business, and the baristas and roasters at Chromatic consider it a way of life. As the latest addition to the valley's caffeine offerings, it has brought together some of the micro-industry's best talent, and the results are smooth and flavorful.
Best Downtown Coffee
87 N. San Pedro St., San Jose. A city needs well-crafted caffeinated beverages. Since the closing of Red Berry, the best coffee in downtown San Jose is, hands down, Bellano 2 a.k.a. B2 Coffee in the San Pedro Square Market. The specialty is slow-poured filtered coffee, from a choice of three types of beans from carefully sourced regions.
Best Liquor Store
Coach House Liquors
1655 S De Anza Blvd., Cupertino. A good place to buy limited lot wines from the Saratoga side of the Santa Cruz Mountains as well as an extensive selection of small batch distilled spirits from places like the hill regions of Scotland and Tennessee.
Best Eclectic Cuisine
185 Lincoln Ave., San Jose. Joe Cirone's Hay Market is a place for foodies who don't like to eat the same thing every time, enjoy farm-to-table quality and don't mind sharing conversations with other diners at communal dining tables. It's probably the area's most interesting restaurant, well priced and friendly, without the attitude you'd expect from a culinary innovator.
Best Return to the Land
647 S. King Road, San Jose. Recently expanded to six-acres, this organic urban farm with a social mission grows a range of healthy vegetables and trains volunteers in the tradition of turning land, sunshine and water into delicious and nutritious produce. The Saturday farm stand is one of the best values around, and kids love watching the chickens roaming free beneath the 280 freeway.
Best Craft Beer Store
498 N. Fourth St., San Jose. An unpretentious wooden building on a residential street north of downtown houses Kelly's Liquor Store. With a veritable selection of exotic and hard-to-find malt and hops beverages, even the pickiest beer snob won't be disappointed here.
Best Beer-Making Supplies
991 N. San Antonio Road, Los Altos. More Beer! has been riding the craft-brewing explosion since 2007 and went from online only to bricks and mortar. For people who don't want to inspect a sparge arm personally or select a mead-making kit in a non-digital environment, the Northern California showroom is thankfully located here. Pretty much anything one needs to wow aficionados with home made craft beer can be purchased here.
Best Place to Learn Cheese-Making, Goat-Milking and Blacksmithing
26870 Moody Road, Los Altos Hills
Best Kosher Restaurant
Jerusalem Bar and Grill
1740 S. Winchester Blvd., Campbell. Since the closure of Mountain View's The Kitchen Table, it may be the only real kosher restaurant around. Luckily, it's a good one, with a selection of tasty Israeli salads, traditional soups and grilled meats.
Best Place to Buy Tropical Plants
415 Meridian Ave., San Jose
Best London/Amsterdam/Toronto Street Fashions
1342 Lincoln Ave., San Jose
Best Place for Tool Junkies
Harbor Freight Tools
241 Stevens Creek Blvd., Santa Clara and 32 Blossom Hill Road, San Jose
Best Car Detail and Wash
AJ's Auto Detailing
702 Coleman Ave., San Jose
Best Auto Body Shop
Cronus Collision Center
277 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Sunnyvale
Best Small Bicycle Shop
131 E. William St., San Jose
Best Place to Clean an Oriental Rug
Martinous Oriental Rug Cleaning
25 Union St., San Jose
Best Place to See Meerkats and Lemurs or Spot a Spotted Jaguar
1300 Senter Road, San Jose