Best of Silicon Valley 2004
Arts & Culture
Goods & Shopping
People & Personalities
Sports & Recreation
Style & Beauty
Editor's Short List
Goods & Shopping
Best Place for Posh Pet Pads
Pampered pets are indispensable to modern fulfillment. So is well-designed furniture. Until now, the two have not cohabited well. Postmodernpets.com wants to change all that. Started in May by brother and sister Stuart and Cheryl Teng, the Mountain View-based website corrals pet accoutrements from such famous designers as Philipp Plein, Michael Young and Alessi. Want a dog bed that looks like Le Corbusier's famous leather sofa? How about a cat perch that could double as a Noguchi? You're barking up the right tree. As far as he knows, Stuart says, "Some of our itemsone or twomight be carried by higher-end pet stores," but no one has "assembled them all in one place and marketed them under the postmodern or modern design rubric." Maybe $1,450 is a little much to spend on a leather couch for your pooch, but what about $38 for a supercool cat box? Or $22 for a mod plastic dog dish? Finally, Bauhaus for bow-wows. 650.331.3500. (TV)
Best Flower Arrangements
If Pablo Picasso and Tim Burton had a love child, her name would be Linnae Asiel. Daring arrangements from this floral aficionado often incorporate fantastic elementslike long-stemmed Black Baccara roses carefully isolated between twisting dried vines adorned with ribbon-laced antique French keys or exotic fish swimming in the vase. In her quest to completely deviate from conformity, Linnae has vowed never to create the same arrangement twice. She is a floral designer with intense style and extraterrestrial creativity. Give her a call, and together you can break the rules. 245 McEvoy St., San Jose. 408.280.7078. (AR)
Best Place for Cheap Comics
Depending on the last time you actually bought comic books, sticker shock from perusing current titles can be anywhere from considerable to overwhelming. What was once a 12-cent-$1 impulse buy can now run between $2.25 and $2.99. A small stack of books can be as much as a year's subscription to a magazine. The many long boxes in the bargain-bin rows at Hero's contain spot issues and even several consecutive ones of a variety series for a quarter apiece. No, you won't find the hottest, eBayable titles here. But there are many new or newish series and plenty of opportunities to revisit the olden days of the 60- and 70-cent comic. 24 East Campbell Ave., Campbell. 408.378.3667. (YK)
Best Diva Dog Store
When a dog is not just a dog, but a diva, Santana Row's Mutt is the place to go. Diva dogs require rhinestone-studded collars, cashmere canine sweaters, doggie biscotti andof course!Paris Hilton booties. But Mutt doesn't just cater to the Hiltons of the world. Co-owner Judi MacDonell explains, "We wanted someone to be able to come in and buy a $1.40 cookie for their dog or to be able to buy the floofy sweater they've seen in New York that's half the price here." Items at the cozy store are displayed comfortably on antique furniture instead of shelving. Among the most desirable doggie objets are dog jewelry designed by Dorothy Bauer (who did the jewelry for the chihuahua in Legally Blonde) and the Bon Ton plastic baggie holder, which is shaped like a dog bone and attaches to your leash ($8!). Look for future Mutt events, such as a dog costume party for Halloween, and "extreme makeovers" for rescued dogs looking for adoption. 377 Santana Row, San Jose. 408.249.2345. (TV)
Best Place to Paint Yourself Into a Corner Downtown
Pastel pencils, badger-hair brushes, powder tempera, linseed oil. The tactile pleasures of art supplies speak to the senses in ways that no software program ever could. Even the brand names excite: Windsor & Newton, Rembrandt, Da Vinci Paint Co., Rivesthey place the Sunday painter firmly in line with generations of creation. Conveniently located near San Jose State University and its budding art students, Artist Supply occupies a chunk of the ground floor of the Fourth Street. parking structure, making it easy to load the largest pre-stretched canvases. With no-nonsense metal-frame shelving and industrial-chic concrete floors, the store offers vital accouterments for oil painters, watercolorists, model makes (including a complete Styrofoam solar system kit for science-fair quickies), beading tools, marker pens in a multitude of hues and sketch pads. 88 S. Fourth St., Suite 130, San Jose. 408.280.7474. (MG)
Best Place to Get Railroaded
The Train Shop
Even as real railroads struggle to maintain their routes, model railroaders busy themselves laying track, erecting plaster-of-Paris mountain ranges and planting groves of tiny synthetic trees, elaborately re-creating historic steel-ribboned routes. The Train Shop caters to that kind of benign empire building with a deep selection of trains and accessories for all scales and gauges (from HO through O to G gauges) and pocketbooks (the obsessively detailed top-end brass models can run deep into the six figures for the well-heeled hobbyist). The back wall boasts an exceptionally large selection of coffee-table picture books about famous railroads past and present: from obscure narrow-gauge trains like the South Pacific Coast that ran along the San Lorenzo River to the great cross-country behemoths like the Pennsylvania and the New York Central. Closed Sun-Mon. 1829 Pruneridge Ave., Santa Clara. 408.296.1050. (MG)
Best Place to Have an Organic Experience
Mollie Stone's Markets
Mollie Stone's describes itself as "a big supermarket with the personality of a small store," and indeed it is. This grocery store has seven locations throughout the Bay Area and carries loads of organic, ethnic and hard-to-find products. But true to its statement, Mollie Stone's also carries the necessities of an everyday supermarket and doesn't have that grungy feel that some alternative markets do. In addition, Mollie Stone's is family-friendy; the Palo Alto location even has a musical puppet show to entertain little ones. Another reason to feel good about shopping here is the fact Mollie Stone's donates to socially conscious causes like Larkin Street Youth Services, which provides meals for homeless children. Various locations. 415.289.5720; www.molliestones.com. (AB)
Best Ethnic Supermarket
Super Mercado Mexico
When Montoya Gonzales' immigrant family founded the Super Mercado Mexico company 17 years ago, the aim was to serve the first-generation Mexican-American community. But the supermarkets have also become popular with the Anglo population looking for traditional and authentic Mexican food and products. With the Spanish-language slogan "Le da mucho mas por su dinero," which translated means "Giving you more for your money," Super Mercado has five stores in San Jose, winning this category hands down. The markets are easily identified because of their large signs in the traditional Mexican flag colors of red, green and white. Open daily 7am to 9 or 10pm, depending on the location. 1098 Park Ave., 860 S. White Rd., 400 S. King Rd., 204 Willow St. and 960 E. Santa Clara St.; www.supermercadomexico.com. (SS)
Best Born-Again Grocery Store
No one was surprised when Zanotto's closed its downtown location one year ago. An upscale market just couldn't do enough business in the neighborhood. But it's back, although at two-thirds the size. Items are perfectly organized on the shelves in almost Japanese fashion. Downtown employees are piling in again for killer sandwiches at lunchtime. The grill man is out there providing tri-tip samples for local freeloaders. Gourmet sausages and meats abound. Overpriced beer has returned. Those sushi ladies are back, and we must absolutely give three cheers for the olive bar. 40 S. Second St., San Jose. 408.977.1333. (GS)
Best Place to Fix Your Own Fender Bender
Santa Clara County Auto Recyclers Association's Member Businesses
The Bay Area's best place to find used car parts is "Junkyard Row," just off Monterey Road between Hillsdale Avenue and Keyes Street. One of about 12 auto recyclers is sure to have the item you need at a cost that makes price-gouging dealers cringe. Each auto dismantler has its specialty; some focus on late-model import cars, while others carry only Cadillacs and Lincolns. Some will even find and deliver your part if they don't have one in stock. Call Santa Clara County Auto Recyclers Association to find out which auto recycler can best help you find new, used and rebuilt parts for your car. 408.286.2838. (AB)
Best Place to Get Hooked on Yarn
Now that knitting is cool again, unraveled wannabes are on the hunt for their own yarn gurus. Want to learn how to Create Your Own Scarf? Or perhaps go Beyond the ScarfBut Not by Much? You're in luckthese are the names of actual classes at Knit Arts, which owner and "Knitter in Chief" Jan Hurwitz describes on the website as "a haven for knitters, where they can be surrounded by yarn and color." The warmly decorated Saratoga store features bookshelves full of yarns from around the world. Visit the website for class information. 14554 Big Basin Way, Saratoga. 408.867.5010; www.goknit.com. (TV)
Best Place to Go Native
Yerba Buena Nursery
When it comes to nurturing a garden, native plants offer a host of advantages. They are already suited to the weather and rainfall in the area; they resist pests and attract beneficial insects; and they help preserve California's horticultural past. At Yerba Buena Nursery, they don't just sell native plants, they show weekend cultivators how to grow them successfully. The 40-acre complex includes a large demonstration garden full of massed specimens of local flora in a variety of settings: under the redwoods, in meadows and beside ponds. Now is an especially ripe time for a visit, because in fall, before the arrival of the rainy season, transplants thrive. The nursery also features a garden shop with both utilitarian and whimsical gardening accessories, and visitors can stop for tea and scones on the Tea Terrace. Because the nursery boasts its own menagerie of cats, no visiting pets are allowed. 19500 Skyline Blvd., Woodside. 650.851.5565. (MG)
Goods & Shopping
Best Massages: La Concha Spa, Willow Glen Runner-up: Victorian Rose, Campbell
Best Bicycle Shop: Wheel Away, Campbell Runner-up: Faber's Cyclery, S.J.
Best Motorcycle Shop: San Jose BMW Runner-up: Harley Davidson San Jose
Best Vintage Clothing: Moon Zoom, S.J. Runner-up: 23 Skidoo, Campbell
Best Shoe Store: DSW, Multiple Locations Runner-up: Shoe Palace, multiple locations
Best Art Supplies: University Art, Palo Alto Runner-up: Michael's Crafts, multiple locations
Best Pet Supplies: Andy's Pet Shop, S.J. Runner-up: Sams Downtown Pet Feed, S.J.
Best Video/DVD Rental: Netflix, Los Gatos Runner-up: Bradley's, Campbell
Best Place to Buy Music: Rasputin, multiple locations Runner-up: Streetlight, multiple locations
Best Place to Download Music: iTunes.com Runner-up: Kazaa.com
Best Clothing Boutique: Barbarella, S.J. Runner-up: 23 Skidoo, Campbell
Best Toy Store: The Wooden Horse, Los Gatos Runner-up: Leather Masters, S.J.
Best Comic Book Store: Heroes, Campbell Runner-up: Hijinx, Willow Glen
Best Manicures/Pedicures: Nail Art, S.J. Runner-up: Classy Nails, Campbell
Best Hair Salon: Gothic, Campbell Runner-up: Faux, Campbell
Best Beauty Supply: Sally Beauty Supply, S.J., Santa Clara Runner-up: Peninsula Beauty Supply, Palo Alto
Best Surf/Skate Shop: Circle A, S.J. Runner-up: SkateWorks, Mtn. View
Best Bookstore: Recycle Book Store, S.J. Runner-up: Willow Glen Books, S.J.
Best Car Dealer: Stevens Creek Honda, S.J. Runner-up: Capitol Honda, S.J.
Best Wine Shop: Uncorked, Saratoga Runner-up: Trader Joe's, multiple locations
Best Car Wash: Classic Car Wash, multiple locations Runner-up: Marlins Car Wash, Santa Clara
Best Flower Shop: Bunches, S.J., Los Gatos Runner-up: Cittis, multiple locations
Best Outdoor Gear: Mel Cotton's Sporting Goods, S.J. Runner-up: REI, Saratoga
Best Tattoo Parlor: New Skool Tattoo, S.J. Runner-up: Marks of Art, S.J.
Best Piercing Studio: Body Exotic, S.J. Runner-up: Gothic, Campbell
Best Pilates Studio: True Balance Fitness Pilates, S.J. Runner-up: Center of Balance, Mtn. View
Best Yoga Studio: Bikram Yoga, S.J. Runner-up: Los Gatos Yoga Studio, Los Gatos
Best Health Club/Gym: Gold's, multiple locations Runner-up: 24-Hour Fitness, multiple locations
Best Hiking Trail: Los Gatos Creek Trail Runner-up: Almaden Lake Quicksilver
Best Dog Park: Sunnyvale Las Palmas Runner-up: Watson Dog Park, S.J.
Best Alternative to Home Depot: Orchard Supply Hardware Runner-up: Lowes
Best Kitchen/Cooking Store: Sur La Table, S.J., Los Gatos Runner-up: Cooking, Etc., S.J.
Best Garden Store: Summer Winds Nursery, Mtn. View Runner-up: Veranda, S.J.
Best Furniture Store: Ikea, East Palo Alto Runner-up: Z Gallerie, S.J.
Best Gift Store: Stone Griffin, Campbell Runner-up: None
Best Neighborhood: Willow Glen Runner-up: Campbell
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