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Photograph by Carlie Statsky
Cheap Shots: Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama stop by the Asti to blow off some steam.

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Editor's Picks

Campaigning is tough--almost as tough as working for a living. That's why God gave us bars and rock & roll. But as the party faithful know, not all venues were created equal. Some are mere backdrop to the fun, while others seem to help make the fun happen. And the latest polling on Santa Cruz hot spots says ...

Best Selection of Suds

Homer Simpson isn't the only one who'll do just about anything for a cold one--we know after a day of fun in the sun you'll be craving a frosty brew to call your own. Santa Cruz is home to a number of quality alcohol-serving establishments, but which bar has the best selection of brews? Consult this list and then raise a pint to whatever--or whoever--deserves the toast.

The Crepe Place
1134 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz. 831.429.6994
Eat a crepe, drink a beer. Any questions?

99 Bottles of Beer
110 Walnut Ave, Santa Cruz. 831.459.9999
The name says it all. With 99 beer choices lurking in the back freezer, it can be a little overwhelming trying to decide on which one to start with. But you'll get over it because, after all, you're picking beer, not race horses.

Poet and Patriot
320-E Cedar St, Santa Cruz. 831.426.8620
One night at the Poet, I'd finished playing darts when I noticed that everyone in the room was drinking these weird-looking beers in white bottles. Turns out they were some kind of Belgian concoction, so I tried one and, well, let's just say my next beer was a Guinness.

200 Locust St, Santa Cruz. 831.425.1913
Red is known for its wide array of fancy-shmancy cocktails, but for those of us more likely to order a cold beer than a Cosmo-sex-on-the-beach-ini, there's actually a damn good selection on hand, including lots of Belgian varieties. My favorite: the 22-ounce Anchor Steam bottle.

Seabright Brewery
519 Seabright Ave, Santa Cruz. 831.426.2739
The locally brewed ale is pretty good, though the darker stuff can make you sorry in the morning. Don't forget Tuesday is Neighborhood Night, and more importantly, pitchers are $7.

--Garrett Wheeler

Best Place to See an Up-and-Coming Band

In case you haven't noticed, there are a lot of talented people in Santa Cruz. Artists, surfers, drum-circle guys on West Cliff, and of course, local rock & rollers--from punk to funk, not only does everybody here play guitar, but most people can actually play their guitar well, unlike those hippies up in Berkeley. Insulting jokes aside (sorry, Berkeley), the hordes of gifted music buffs in Santa Cruz are welcome at a handful of diverse venues that cater to an even wider range of players.

Caffé Pergolesi
418 Cedar St, Santa Cruz. 831.426.1775
The hipsters' enclave puts on a show or two each month, usually of the indie-rock variety. Grab a cup of joe (or beer) and shoulder your way through the pack of (standing) onlookers.

Catalyst Atrium
1011 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz. 831.423.1338
The Cat knows how to pack 'em in, especially when local rock bands are itching to show off their latest goods. With up to eight shows a month catering to hometown heroes, the Atrium stage is the perfect place to discover high school prodigies before they become the next Scott Weiland (yep, he's from Santa Cruz).

The Crepe Place
1134 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz. 831.429.6994
The Crepe Place has started hosting shows again, and you know what that means: delicious food and equally delectable music.

Kuumbwa Jazz Center 320-2 Cedar St, Santa Cruz. 831.427.2227
Kuumbwa pulls in talent from across the nation, but a few times a month local performers get the stage all to themselves. Superb acoustics and a great atmosphere make the downtown establishment an enticing venue for any musician.

Moe's Alley
1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. 831.479.1854
Moe's is the quintessential music club: good sound, nice bar and great dance floor. Superpromoter Bill Welch hand-picks the variety of acts that come through here, and believe me, he knows good tunes.

--Garrett Wheeler

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