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Content for Thursday, December 25, 2003

News & Stories

Best of 2003: Best Marathon

Suzuki Rock 'n' Roll Marathon www.rnrmarathon.com 2002's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon was everything the concept promised. It was loud and fast. After a few years of stumbling through -- understaffed and short on supplies (even ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best East County Scuba Training

The Dive Shack 787 Arnele Avenue, El Cajon 619-447-7400 Rod and Tami Tuttle sell everything you need -- wet suits, regulators, buoyancy control devices, tanks and dive computers -- but it's the "instructional classes that ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Half-Marathon

La Jolla Half-Marathon www.lajollahalfmarathon.com The La Jolla Half-Marathon, a 13-mile race held each April, traces San Diego's coastline from the Del Mar Racetrack, through Del Mar, up into Torrey Pines, past UCSD, through La Jolla ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Campsite In A Wheelchair

Salsipuedes About 50 miles south of the border "It's just a little turnoff on the road to Ensenada, about midway through that little mountainous section," explains Vern. "You come around this corner and there's an ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Cross-Country Skiing

Laguna Meadow off Sunrise Highway Cleveland National Forest www.r5.fs.fed.us/cleveland/ 619-445-8341 Rise before dawn on the day after a major storm from the northwest has swept over San Diego County and moved eastward, December through February. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Beach Transportation Options

Cruiser King 735 Seagirt Court, Mission Beach www.kruiserking.com 858-488-6341 Beach cruisers, mountain bikes, inline skates, and surfboards can be rented by the hour, day, or week at this shop. Prices range from $5 to $8 ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Bike Ride

Coronado and the Silver Strand For comfort and beauty, the route leading south from the Coronado Ferry Landing is hard to beat. The views across the bay to downtown San Diego are engrossing enough to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Baseball School

San Diego School of Baseball www.sandiegoschoolofbaseball.com 619-491-4000 Instruction is offered at four locations throughout the county, and the school maintains a year-round staff of 15 coaches. It also gets help from professionals such as Steve ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Way To Green Your City

People For Trees www.peoplefortrees.org 619-222-TREE (8733) At People For Trees, the simple idea is to plant as many "canopy trees to shade San Diego" as possible. They say their volunteers have planted over 35,000 shade ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Women's Outreach Program

YWCA Women's "Passages" program 1012 C Street, Downtown 619-239-2341 The folks at the YWCA believe they're unique (and they probably are) with their "Passages" program. It gives single homeless women a bed and food while ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Way To Give Food To The Homeless

Food for the Homeless St. Stephen's Church of God in Christ 619-262-2671 With Pastor Wilkins and colleagues, you're talking about helping people at the bottom. People who can't get into Father Joe's, who haven't made ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Way To Get To Coors Amphitheater

Highway 905 You're heading south on the 805 to hear your favorite band at Coors when the traffic becomes a sea of red brake lights. The show starts in 20 minutes and you're only at ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Way To Get To Catalina Without Getting Seasick

Island Express Helicopters 1175 Queens Highway South, Long Beach www.islandexpress.com 562-436-2012 If your stomach is prone to queasiness, the only good way to reach Catalina Island is on a quick 15-minute helicopter ride. Located just ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Way To Become An Architect (Without Going To School)

Institute for Organic Architecture www.sandiegoart.com Kendrick Bangs: Kellogg is San Diego's passionate un-architect, famous worldwide, and known for getting so mad at his school that he quit just before graduation. He doesn't believe in rulers ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Tourist-Free Beaches

Leucadia and Encinitas State Beaches Neptune Avenue from Roseta Street north to Grandview Street The mile and a half of sand along the bluffs of Leucadia and Encinitas is mostly tourist-free because it's hard to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Topiary Garden

Carmelite Monastery 5158 Hawley Boulevard, Normal Heights Enrique Arroyo, the gardener at the Carmelite Monastery, was allowed to create topiary animals on the convent grounds. Arroyo's walrus, snail, armadillo, owl, and tortoise can be seen ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Tijuana Afternoon

Teniente Guerrero Park Located six blocks west of Revolución between 3rd and 4th Avenues This park proves that Tijuana is, after all, part of Mexico. While much of the city now resembles suburban San Diego ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Source For Vintage Local Radio Shows

California Aircheck www.california aircheck.com 619-460-6104 Since 1980, Lemon Grove-based California Aircheck has offered 60- and 90-minute audio tapes featuring vintage local radio broadcasts (DJs only, no music) that may be purchased individually or by yearly ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Smell

Solunto Baking Company 1643 India Street, Little Italy 619-233-3506 The doors open at 7 a.m., but the genuine Italian bakers are at their craft an hour before that. By 6:30 the sidewalk area outside the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Soul-Stirring Sermons

Calvary Baptist Church 719 Cesar Chavez Parkway, Sherman Heights 619-233-6487 It's in the city's African-American churches that the rhetorical tradition has remained most vibrant, and Reverend W. James Smith, senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Sculpture Scavenger Hunt

The Stuart Collection UCSD Campus, La Jolla http://stuartcollection. ucsd.edu 858-534-2117 Take an hour or two to visit the 15 sculptures that make up this collection and you'll get a good introduction to the layout of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Seaside Soul Searching

Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Garden 215 K Street, Encinitas 760-753-2888 The temperature drops as you pass under a canopy of gigantic tropical trees, marking your transition into the ocean-bluff garden once enjoyed by resident and spiritual ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Scary Weekend Getaway

Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area, Imperial County 760-337-4400 San Diegans have visited this remarkable stretch of desert for decades. On weekends between October and May, tens of thousands of off-road enthusiasts thunder across these barren ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Sandbox

Happy Isles Sandbox at Sea World 619-226-3901 Sea World's Happy Isles, a.k.a. "the kiddie section," has the dream sandbox. It's huge -- about 50 by 25 yards. And it's canopy-sheltered from the sun, rain, and ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Roadside Attraction

Boulder Park At the Desert View Tower, Jacumba (80 miles eastof San Diego; from I-8, take In-Ko-Pah Park Road exit) Although the Desert View Tower grabs your attention and is worth a visit, it's the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Resource For Those Considering Adoption

Adoption Coalition of San Diego www.adoptioncoalition ofsandiego.com 619-542-7772 This volunteer coalition is made of agencies, lawyers, and consultants who work in adoptions, as well as representatives of the "adoption triad": adoptive parents, adoptees, and birth ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Rainy-Day Outing For Kids In Central San Diego

Birdland San Diego 3069 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park www.birdlandsandiego.com 619-284-9601 Pet stores are great places to visit with kids, as long as you aren't prone to impulse purchases. But it's unlikely you'll suddenly decide ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Rainy-Day Outing For Kids In East County

Parkway Plaza Johnson Avenue and Fletcher Parkway, El Cajon A ride on the hand-carved 1926 Herschell carousel in the southwest corner of Parkway Plaza costs $1.75. The carousel spins around to the tune of "Sidewalks ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Radio Station For Teens & Other Hip People

91X (XTRA-FM) www.91x.com 619-570-1919 (request line) 91X targets teens with rock music and an emphasis on music over talk. Punk, alternative, and hard rock are all in rotation and local musicians get prominent play. Sugarcult ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Public Nap Spot

City Council Chambers 202 C Street, 12th floor, Downtown Monday through Friday, from 2 p.m. to whenever they're done doing whatever it is they do 619-236-6440 It's cool in the summer, warm in the winter, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Radio Show Featuring Local Bands

92.1 KFSD-FM www.independent.fm An independent radio station operating out of Escondido, 92.1 FM spotlights local bands every Sunday night from 6 to 10 p.m. on its award-winning "Go Loco" program, hosted by Scott Riggs and ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Public Display Of Bosoms

Casa de Balboa, Balboa Park www.sandiegohistory.org/bpbuildings/casabalb.htm You can't touch them and you won't see any suckling infant, but there they are -- big, pendulous breasts -- out in the open for the whole world to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Wow Your Grandma (If She's Over 70)

Lawrence Welk Resort 8845 Lawrence Welk Drive, Escondido www.welkresort.com 760-749-3000 The old baton twirler isn't around anymore (he died in 1992), but his legacy lives on in this enclave just north of Escondido proper. Of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Volunteer

Volunteer San Diego 4699 Murphy Canyon Road, Kearny Mesa www.volunteersandiego.org 858-636-4131 In January 2002, San Diego Cares and the Volunteer Center of San Diego County merged to become Volunteer San Diego. Their entire purpose is ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Throw Your Money Away In East County

Grossmont Center Fountains Last year, Grossmont Center teamed up with La Mesa Parks and Recreation to redevelop two parks. The mall collects change thrown into its fountains, and $50,000 has already been raised to benefit ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Take A Consumer Complaint

UCAN, the Utility Consumers' Action Network 3100 Fifth Avenue, Suite B, Hillcrest www.ucan.org 619-696-6966 When California's electricity crisis was at its worst, hardly a night went by without Michael Shames, attorney and executive director of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Skip Rocks

Lake Murray Reservoir 5540 Kiowa Drive, La Mesa www.mtrp.org 619-668-2050 Yes, Lake Murray used to be a bleak place, half empty, full of hydrilla, and adjacent to a rutted and potholed perimeter road. No more. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Send Your Relatives Before They Show Up On Your Doorstep

Local Wally's Tourist Guide www.localwally.com The guy won't reveal his real name, but he's not shy when it comes to discussing his likes and dislikes in San Diego. To quote his website: "Toss those other ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To See A Real Cowboy Bunkhouse

Guy B. Woodward Museum of Western Culture 1886 Verlaque House 645 Main Street, Ramona 760-789-7644 This a fascinating old French Provincial mansion filled with the history of San Diego cowboy -- not Spanish ranchero -- ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Play Three Hours Of Chess On One Cup Of Coffee

East Village Coffee House 1065 14th Street, East Village 619-234-7760 There are a lot of places you can play chess, but at East Village they supply the chessmen, the coffee's good, they're right at the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Reach For The Stars

Palomar Mountain Observatory 35899 Canfield Road, Palomar 760-742-2119 Palomar, which means Pigeon Haven in La Jolla Indian dialect, is not an outing for those prone to carsickness. Once you exit I-15, curves are the norm. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Learn To Follow Chukkers, Stomp Divots, & Sip Champers

San Diego Polo Club 14555 El Camino Real, Rancho Santa Fe 858-481-9217 Five bucks will get you in. (Of course, you can pay up to $2700.) But have $25 ready for the "de-lish" buffet. What's ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Meet Cool Asian Youth

TeaZone 4688 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa 858-279-6888 They come from Taipei, from Seoul, from Asia's trendiest capitals. They carry walnut-size cell phones that twitter like sparrows. They drive sassy low-slung subcompacts with dazzling rims and ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Learn Rose Pruning

San Diego Rose Society's Annual Hands-On Demonstration, Balboa Park www.sdrosesociety.org 619-235-0004 Come January, it's possible to find a half-dozen sources of rose-pruning instruction throughout the county. But none provide as much inspiration as the free ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Hunt Mullets

Barona Speedway Wildcat Canyon Road, Lakeside www.baronaspeedway.com Fans of Billy Ray Cyrus may recall the fashion statement also known as the Tennessee Top Hat, the Kentucky Waterfall, the Camaro Cut, and Hockey Hair. Those sporting ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Learn How To Shake, Shake, Shake Your Belly

Sohaila www.sohailainternational.com 760-743-1235 A one-time San Diego County sheriff explorer, Sohaila began bellydancing 25 years ago and turned professional in 1990. Her international appearances have included bookings in Paris, Greece, Syria, Dubai, Egypt, and Jordan. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Get High When You're Dying

Stir It Up Cannabis Coffee House 4683 33rd Street, Normal Heights 619-521-0337 Dying is never pleasant, but it doesn't have to be boring. Stir It Up Cannabis Coffee House provides terminally ill patients with a ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Find Support When A Loved One Has Died From Substance Abuse

Pat and Russ Wittberger, GRASP 4720 Kensington Drive, Kensington www.graspgriefsupport.org 619-656-8414 After Pat and Russ Wittberger's teenage daughter, Jenny, died of a heroin overdose, the couple founded GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing) to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Fly A Kite

Mission Bay Park West Mission Bay Drive, south of the Hilton Hotel www.sdkc.net The crowd can get pretty thick at times (weekend afternoons any day when the weather's good). Regulars sort themselves into two rows ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Contact The Departed

Fraternal Spiritualist Church 4720 Kensington Drive, Kensington www.fraternalspiritualistchurch.org 619-281-4557 The dead rarely give financial tips like, "I buried $3 million beneath the grapefruit tree." Or, "Dump all your WorldCom stock, pronto." But if you hang ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Disappear

Slab City, Niland www.slabcity.org Buy a beaten-down trailer or RV and head to Slab City 2 1/2 hours east of San Diego, where -- for more than 40 years -- folks have turned their backs ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Be When Nature Calls

Nordstrom Fashion Valley Center 619-295-4441 Nordstrom offers anyone the opportunity to relieve themselves in the atmosphere of a four-star hotel at no charge. The men's room is on the first floor, the women's on the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place For Local Elvis Fans To Find Each Other

Elvis Connections www.members.aol.com/mompac/epfc.htm Elvis Connections was established in 1996 for the sole purpose of "keeping Elvis's memory alive. In doing so, we work on projects in Elvis's memory which give to the charities that Elvis ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place For Kids To Run Away & Join The Circus

Fern Street Circus www.fernstreetcircus.org 619-235-9756 Although the adult members of the Fern Street Circus say they run a recreation program, not a circus school, don't tell the kids attending the free After-School Circus Skills Program ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place For A Moment's Peace In The Airport

West end of Terminal Two, near luggage offices, Lindbergh Field You've got to get as far away as possible from the Southwest Airlines juggernaut in Terminal One if you want to find some peace at ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place For Future Rembrandts

Little Artists 8680 Navajo Road, San Carlos 619-462-1955 The studio offers classes designed to teach children the basics of drawing and, once those skills are learned, painting methods. Lessons are laid out in a series ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place For A Kid To Learn To Say "Aye-Aye, Captain"

Living History Program Aboard the Star of India 1492 North Harbor Drive, Downtown www.sdmaritime.com 619-234-STAR Pioneered by the National Park Service, this overnight program takes kids back in time on an imaginary voyage. According to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Picnic & Bird Watching Spot

Dos Picos County Park 17953 Dos Picos Park Road, Ramona Nestled between two mountain swells (Dos Picos is Spanish for two peaks) with boulders dotting the surrounding hillside, the picnic area in this remote state ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Pastime For Suburban Moms

Bunco If you're a bored mom in Sabre Springs, Rancho Bernardo, Scripps Ranch, or Carmel Mountain Ranch, put your ear to the ground and listen for the sound of dice rolling and blenders whirring. Bunco ...

Best of 2003: Best Neighborhood Gossip

Mid-City Police Services Advisory Committee Meeting 4310 Landis Street, City Heights 619-531-2815 Just what was that Vietnamese fellow up to at that Cape Cod-style home in Talmadge? Drunks have been urinating outside which bar in ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Old-Fashioned Tree Swing

Hospital Park Carlsbad Just west of Plaza Camino Real, south-running Jefferson Street hits Marron Road and turns due west. Follow it and pull into Hospital Park, the first driveway on the left. Walk south past ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Neighborhood For Snooping

Marlborough Drive, Kensington Kensington's large Spanish-style homes almost always have vast bay windows facing the street. Curtains or folding screens may obstruct some, but many afford an open view of at least three rooms. Marlborough ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Neighborhood Beautification Project

Uptown Utility Artbox Project The Utility Artbox murals scattered throughout Hillcrest, North Park, and the Uptown District really act as "anti-graffiti" landmarks. Most taggers won't deface the murals, probably because they recognize the similarity in ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Mexican Beer Adventure

Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma Brewery Av. Hidalgo and Calle Carranza, Tecate www.baja-web.com 665-654-9478 Named for its place of origin, Cerveza Tecate was launched in 1944 when Alberto Aldrete transformed an old brick building from a vegetable-oil producing ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Meeting Spot For Spies

Bayside Trail, Cabrillo National Monument 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, Point Loma 619-557-5450 There's something Hitchcockian about this trail as it descends some 300 feet through dense and silent coastal scrub. The trail's two-mile round-trip no ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Mcdonald's With Live Music

McDonald's at 54th and El Cajon Boulevard, East San Diego 619-287-0359 Every Tuesday night, from 6 to 8 p.m., the San Diego Banjo Band plays a free concert inside this red-and-white McDonald's. As many as ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Poll Results

Best Afghan Khyber Pass 523 University Avenue, Hillcrest 619-294-7579 Best After-Hours Club Club Montage 2028 Hancock Street, Midtown www.clubmontage.com 619-294-9590 Best American Corvette Diner 3946 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest www.cohnrestaurants.com/corvette.html 619-542-1001 Best Antique Store India Street ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Marathon Religious Experience

Saint Demiana Coptic Orthodox Church 360 North Granados Street, Solana Beach 858-635-2169, 858-259-2585 Cymbals crash in peppy rhythm. Huge clouds of incense roll through the nave. People line up in their stocking feet to receive ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Local Lobbyist

Matthew Peterson 530 B Street, Suite 1700, Downtown 619-234-0361 Say you need politicians to create legislation so your hovercraft taxi can get licensed. Or you're pulling your pro tiddlywinks team out of San Diego because ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Local Fall Foliage

Pine Creek Road, Pine Valley Take the SUV, not the sedan, and drive east on I-8 to the Highway 79 exit. Go north on 79 toward Julian, then take Old Highway 80 toward Pine Valley. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Local Entrepreneurs

OnlineSports.com www.onlinesports.com 800-856-2638 Chris Haupt and Michael Farkas got into the Internet retail game in 1995. The college buddies (USD class of '83) pooled their talents (Haupt's computer skills and Farkas's MBA), went online, and ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Little Day Trip To A Farm

Bell Gardens Farm 30841 Cole Grade Road, Valley Center www.bellgardensfarm.com 760-749-6297 In 1993, Glen "Taco Titan" Bell cashed out his Taco Bell stock and bought 115 acres in Valley Center. He transformed much of the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Library Branch

Mission Valley branch 2123 Fenton Parkway, Mission Valley www.sandiego.gov/public-library/locations/ 858-573-5007 At the newest branch of the public library, desks are equipped with outlets for laptops and all computers (there are 11 workstations) have flat-panel monitors. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Hometown Family Resort

Hilton San Diego Resort 1775 East Mission Bay Drive, Mission Bay 619-276-4010 San Diego residents with kids and extra bucks can make the Hilton their hometown resort. Membership in the tennis club costs a one-time ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Free Animal Show

Harbor Seals The Children's Pool, La Jolla www.lajollaseals.org They don't balance balls on their noses. They never stand up on their flippers and wave their tails at the crowd. What they do is wriggle their ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Historical Archive Of Local Rock Concerts

www.billsilvapresents.com/JonMooreExperience.html This site is a reference list of San Diego rock concerts from the 1940s through 1999, plus reproductions of handbills, ticket stubs, and photos from performances and press conferences. "I was too young to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Fountain

Corner of Beech and India Streets, Little Italy Until this fountain was built, the only outdoor seating on India Street was at the cafés. Now, passersby can sit on the two-foot rim of this fountain ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Faux California Mission

Serra Museum 2727 Presidio Drive, Old Town www.sandiegohistory.org/mainpages/locate4.htm 619-297-3258 How is it that even locals confuse the stately Serra Museum overlooking Old Town with an 18th-century California mission? Well, for one thing, it really does ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Etiquette School

San Diego Junior Cotillion 619-222-3769 San Diego Junior Cotillion, privately run by father and son team Donald and Peter Benjamin, offers children, sixth grade and up, classes in the art of social graces. The goal ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Dog Beach

Ocean Beach Foot of Voltaire Street (north of rock jetty) 619-221-8899 This is the best place to take your dogs for uninhibited romps. They'll have lots of room to run, other dogs will keep them ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Cultural Mural

Journey to Aztlan Harbor Drive between First and Fifth, Downtown Visible from the San Diego Convention Center, the images within this colorful mural re-create the laughing masks of South America's pre-Columbian Veracruz period. The public ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Community Planning Meeting

Normal Heights Community Association Planning Committee Meetings 4649 Hawley Boulevard, Normal Heights 619-584-1608 If you're community-minded and want to learn how true obsessives fight City Hall, don't miss the monthly meetings of this community-planning committee. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Concierge

Tom Turman, The Westgate Hotel 1055 Second Avenue, Downtown 619-557-3645 Just ask Mrs. B., 90-something and a 12-year resident at the Westgate: Tom is the best concierge she knows. And she's a regular at swank ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Community Cable Show

World Peace Now Cox Cable Channel 23 (Channel 18 in North County), Saturdays, 9 p.m. Time Warner Channel 19, Mondays, 8 p.m. Wayne Johnson, producer/host 619-294-4697 Okay, first you've gotta realize Wayne is into conspiracies. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Community Garden

Juniper-Front Community Garden Front Street, between Ivy and Juniper, Banker's Hill 619-276-9224 There are several neighborhoods in the downtown area that offer plots of land in community gardens. Among these, the Juniper-Front Community Garden in ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Church For Miracle Healings

Vista Christian Fellowship 820 Williamston Street, Vista 760-726-4856 Since a 24-year-old Canadian evangelist visited Vista Christian Fellowship in June 2002, the church claims to have documented dozens of miraculous healings. Lung cancer. Irritable bowel syndrome. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Cacti Sighting

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park www.anzaborrego.statepark.org 760-767-4684, 760-767-4205 Cactus heaven can be found on the rocky slopes of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, especially at elevations of 1000 to 2000 feet. In March and April you'll be ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Bridge Buddies

OK Bridge Club 4655 Cass Street, Pacific Beach www.okbridge.com 858-490-6770 Established in 1994, OK Bridge is the oldest online card players' forum. On the site, members can play bridge with thousands of people worldwide 24 ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Beach Access In A Wheelchair

Accessible San Diego 3145 Ocean Front Walk, Mission Beach www.accessandiego.org 858-279-0704 "What if my buddies want to go on the beach? They're not gonna want to drag my ass down there," says Vern. He takes ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Access To Relics Of Our Musical Past

Museum of Making Music 5790 Armada Drive, Carlsbad www.museumofmakingmusic.org 760-438-5996 The Museum of Making Music displays instruments, artifacts, and historical records documenting the evolution of music-making devices. Instruments once owned by celebrities are popular tour ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Wine Meet & Greet

The Cabernet Cellar 3820-1/2 Ray Street, North Park www.thecabernet.com 619-683-2221 Want to meet other connoisseurs? On weekends, the Cellar hosts a gathering with bread, cheese, and appetizers -- you bring the wine. Private lockers are ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Wine Bar Without The Attitude

The Grape 823 Fifth Avenue, Gaslamp 619-238-8010 You could walk right past this uniquely shaped bar on a busy Saturday night if you weren't looking for it. The Grape, with its long narrow bar, sits ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Wheelchair View Of A Movie Screen

Hillcrest Cinemas 3965 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest 619-819-0236 Vern scratches his head as a 737 makes thunder over his O.B. yard. "Hmm...I'd have to say Hillcrest theater," Vern says. "Because there's space for your chair in ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Wheelchair Rock

Belly Up Tavern 143 South Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach www.bellyup.com 858-481-9022 "I saw a good band there...from Colorado...they had an electric cello, a couple guitars, a banjo." Vern taps his hand on the side of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Wedding Band

The Fabulous Pelicans www.pelicans.com 760-729-1546 The Fabulous Pelicans' playlist includes hundreds of songs, from Robert Palmer's "Bad Case Of Loving You" to Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It?" and wedding staples like ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Vintage Theatre

La Paloma Theatre 471 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas www.lapalomatheatre.com 760-436-5774 One of the last single-screen movie houses in the county, La Paloma Theatre has a long tradition of embracing Southern California culture. Built in ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Vocal Coach

Janie Prim 619-668-0935 Local opera singers know Prim as the accompanist for San Diego Opera's chorus auditions and the annual Metropolitan Opera Auditions. She's also been the music director for San Diego Comic Opera for ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Vampire Hangout

Club Luminal 308 University Avenue, Hillcrest (inside Hamburger Mary's) www.clubluminal.com/index.html 619-491-0400 The darkly dressed congregate every Tuesday at Kickers, inside Hamburger Mary's. "We believe in playing the most diverse selection of music possible within the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Urban & Coastal Stargazing

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center www.sdaa.org 619-238-1233, x6 Oceanside Photo and Telescope I-5 and Mission, Oceanside www.optcorp.com 800-483-6287 On the first Wednesday of each month, the San Diego Astronomy Association sponsors free evening star parties ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Tools For Watching Those Watching The Submarine Races

North American Integrated Technologies www.nait.com 800-432-6248 This San Diego company makes some of the best night vision equipment around, including the night vision goggles the Army uses, the AN/PVS-7B. But the sexiest are the monoculars, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Tribute Band

The Steely Damned www.thesteelydamned.com 858-467-1966 The original Steely Dan songs -- especially post­Royal Scam -- were so meticulously arranged and brilliantly played that it's a thrill to hear Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's musical fussiness ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Tijuana Nightclub

Tangaloo Club Avenida Monterrey #3215, Tijuana www.tangaloo.com 011-52-664-681-8091, 011-52-664-681-8092 For years, Baby Rock has dominated Tijuana nightlife. But now Tangaloo is giving it stiff competition. Francisco Gatica, the owner of Tangaloo, has turned a former ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Symphonic Mariachi

Mariachi Champana Nevin www.virtuosomariachi.com/MariachiChampHome.html 619-267-3023 There's your everyday mariachi -- you know, the ones who competently perform as background during your meal at Casa de Bandini -- and then there's Mariachi Champana Nevin, who play ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Swiss-American Bar

Sotano Suizo Gourmet & Sports Bar Centro Plaza Fiesta Avenida Paseo de los Heroes 9415, Zona R’o, Tijuana www.sotanosuizo.com 011-52-664-684-8834 Only a half mile south of the border is an area of Tijuana nightlife not ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Sexy Female Singer

Rachael Gordon "I don't really play," says San Diego native Rachael Gordon. "I sing and I've always wanted to do that, but I only started doing shows about seven years ago with the Sleazybeats." Regarding ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Shuffleboard Bar

The Jewel Box 805 16th Street, Downtown 619-236-8685 The Jewel Box is a little bar with a big future once the ballpark opens. So visit while it's still a neighborhood bar with great eats. And ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Satanic Metal Band

Crimson Moon www.geocities.com/ kthuluproductions/Bands.html Crimson Moon is composed of two musicians and a drum machine. Bassist/vocalist/lyricist Scorpios and Nocturnal Overlord (guitars, keyboards, drum programming) wear Kiss-style Kabuki makeup (whiteface with black patches dripping around their ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Rat Pack Remnant

TP Lounge 4977 El Cajon Boulevard, Talmadge 619-287-9505 Operating in the same location since 1947, the TP Lounge's customers say the bar's martini atmosphere and old-time feel can't be matched anywhere else in San Diego. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Retro/Retread Band

Roundabout The band Roundabout specializes in '70s progressive rock by the likes of Yes. Bassist Kevin Dennis founded the band and says the most common complaint of Yes fans is that "our guitarist plays too ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Pool Hall

College Billiard Center 5303 El Cajon Boulevard, College Area 619-583-6361 The "billiards" moniker tells you this great barn of a pool hall has been around awhile. Thirty years or so. Fact is, only two of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Watch The Submarine Races

Highway 101 at Torrey Pines State Beach Unfortunately, the prime spots for automotive lovebirds along San Diego's beaches and bays are well-known. If you're going to be there any length of time, chances are the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To See A Double Feature

Museum of Photographic Arts (MoPA) 1649 El Prado, Balboa Park www.mopa.org/film.html 619-238-7559 Not only is MoPA the only film house in town that regularly offers double features (for a mere $7), but curator Scott Marks ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Start A Comedy Career

Comedy Co-Dependents 4716 32nd Street, Normal Heights 619-280-5177 Want to break into comedy? Start right here. Whoopi Goldberg did, working with Arlene before she started her own "Co-dependency" troupe in 1994. Just call ahead and ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Ogle Straight Men

Café Japengo 8960 University Center Lane, UTC www.cafejapengo.com 858-450-3355 On Thursdays from 7 to 10 p.m., you'll find handsome, well-educated, career-minded men, late 20s to mid 40s, packing this place. Maybe they come for the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place For A Woman To Drink Alone

Outdoor deck at the Fish Market 750 North Harbor Drive, Downtown www.thefishmarket.com/san_diego.htm 619-232-FISH (3474) You're not in the mood for company, but you still want a drink. And a little bite. And a view, if ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Get Dead Drunk

Hiram's Guns and Spirits 660 South Magnolia, El Cajon 619-442-5353 Remember the Rugburns' "Suburbia"? "I'm dancing naked on my street...I think I'll go to Hiram's Guns and Liquor just for fun...And pick me up some ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Opera Night

Small Opera San Diego and the ARK Center for the Performing Arts 3454 Kettner Boulevard, Midtown www.smallopera sandiego.org 619-725-0777 It used to happen every Sunday night. Local opera singers would bring their music and sing ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Peculiar Performance Art

Sushi Performance and Visual Art 320 Eleventh Avenue, Downtown www.sushiart.org 619-235-8466 This 6000-square-foot facility houses a 3000-square-foot performance space that seats up to 200 patrons. "Sushi audience members and performers are within hands' reach of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Parties For Smarties

San Diego Mensa High IQ Society www.sandiego.us.mensa.org 619-282-7022 Mensa members must score at or above the 98th percentile on standard IQ tests. "There are a few popular misconceptions about Mensans," according to the local chapter's ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Open Mic For Performers

Tiki House 1152 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach 858-273-9734 If you think it's time to take your show on the road but lean toward the shy side, take it to the Tiki House in Pacific Beach ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Old School Dancing

"Jivewire" at the Casbah 2501 Kettner Boulevard, Midtown 619-232-4355 Disco dancers, rockabilly greasers, zoots, sportys, indie geeks, and skate punks -- they all died and went to "Jivewire," the Casbah's intermittent dance night. Once in ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best North County Dive Bar

The Boardroom Bar 109 Diana Street, Leucadia 760-634-3415 The Boardroom Bar's been spiffed up and there's a new marquee in the shape of a surfboard. But the old "Cocktails" sign still blinks against the sky. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best North County Dance Club

Margarita Rocks 212 North Tremont Street, Oceanside www.margaritarocks.net 760-967-7699 This is a 14,000-square-foot extravaganza, with a basement "dive" bar and dance floor, and a large, third-floor, ocean-view deck. Airbrushed murals of waves and sharks riff ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Night-Time Miniature Golf

Fun 4 All Miniature Golf 950 Industrial Boulevard, Chula Vista 619-427-1473 Maybe it was after the America's Cup sponsors held a swank party at a fun center, or post-9/11, that movers and shakers started sneaking ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best North County Bowling Alley

AMF Eagle Lanes 945 San Marcos Boulevard, San Marcos 760-744-7000 Eagle Lanes is San Marcos's secret landmark. Secret because it's a half-block off the main drag of San Marcos Boulevard, back behind some other, more ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best New Hip Dive Bar

The Silver Dragon 3519 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park 619-284-3323 The former Zombie Lounge has a new look and image. But from the outside, you'd never guess that inside is a brilliantly decorated, Feng Shui­inspired ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best New Barroom Rock

Cherrybomb 2237 First Avenue, Banker's Hill 619-544-1173 There's been a recent spate of neighborhood barrooms opening up their modest floors to live bands, but early in 2002 it was Sondra and Josh, proprietors of Cherrybomb ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Neighborhood Video Store

Video Rush 1947 Fern Street, South Park 619-239-0323 No one calls out a cheery "Hello!" when you walk into this video rental store. In fact, the 20-somethings working here are usually talking on the phone ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Murder And A Meal

The Mystery Café Imperial House Restaurant 505 Kalmia Street, Banker's Hill www.mysterycafe.net 619-544-1600 Mystery Café is San Diego's longest running dinner theater. Patrons are seated by 8 p.m. and then dinner is served with a ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Movie Theater If You Hate Standing In Line

Pacific's Cinerama 6 5831 University Avenue, East San Diego 619-287-8990 There's no stadium seating here, no espresso machine, and sometimes you have to buy your tickets at the snack bar. But this six-screen theater shows ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Metal Band

Cattle Decapitation www.cattledecapitation.com Cattle Decapitation recently joined the roster of L.A.'s Metal Blade Records. A press release announcing the signing says "Cattle Decapitation brings forth the ideas of vegetarianism with the utmost brutal approach in ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Mojito

Prado Restaurant House of Hospitality, Balboa Park www.pradobalboa.com 619-557-9441 There's a new drink in town, kiddies. The mojito. It's a Cuban hottie that sailed into San Diego a few years ago and is giving the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Local Filmmaker Forum

Independent Film Society P.O. Box 23078 Encinitas, CA 92023 www.independentfilm society.org 760-942-5988 "The independent filmmaker's journey making films is often as compelling as the film itself," says Dan Hare, director of the Independent Film Society. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Local Comic Deserving Of A Break

Mitzi Gussow, Improv Comedienne www.members.cox.net/jfbushnell/latebloomer.html 619-647-4958 Mitzi, 71, thrives on the interplay of ideas, picking up on whatever is thrown at her. "It's the best training for life you can imagine," she says. Gussow performs ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Latin Music Evening

Monday nights at the Westgate Hotel Bar 1055 Second Avenue, Downtown 619-238-1818 Guitarist Julio de la Huerta was approached by the general manager of the Westgate Hotel. "He said, 'We'd like to have you come ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Local Brew

Calico Amber Ale Ballast Point Brewing Company 5401 Linda Vista Road, Linda Vista 619-298-2337 First Calico Amber Ale won a gold medal in the Great American Beer festival in Denver in 2001, then it won ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Goth Gatherings

Club Xanth 4225 30th Street, North Park 616-584-2720 Club Xanth's "Cathedral" is the place to go on Saturday nights for minor-chord melancholy. Recent DJ playlists have included "Hellraiser" (Suicide Commando), "Rock Is Dead" (Marilyn Manson), ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Heavy-Metal Neil Diamond

Brother Love www.neildiamondtribute.com Brother Love takes its name from the 1968 Neil Diamond hit "Brother Love's Traveling Show," but the group refuses to settle for attracting the singer's aging fan demographic. Songs like "Sweet Caroline" ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Foreign Evening

El Lugar del Nopal Callejon 5 de Mayo, Tijuana 011-52-664-685-1264 On Thursday nights after 9, Tijuana's poets and artists mosey over to El Lugar del Nopal, a cafŽ at the start of Cinco de Mayo ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Free Film Series

San Diego Public Library, Central 820 E Street, Downtown www.sandiego.gov/public-library/news-events/screenings.shtml 619-236-5800 Every Monday at 6:30 p.m. and every other Sunday at 2 p.m., the downtown public library offers free film screenings in its third-floor auditorium. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best First-Gig Bar

Etta's Place 6179 University Avenue, College Area 619-582-6730 Etta's Place books bands five nights a week, and owner Etta Keeler is proud that she's given first-time exposure to local acts including Beer Money, the Fremonts, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best First-Date Bar

Victor's Restaurant & Bar 2702 North Mission Bay Drive, Mission Bay www.liveonthebayconcerts.com 858-490-3389 Located adjacent to the Mission Bay Golf Course, some people mistake this restaurant for just another snack bar clubhouse. But Victor's has ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Film Festival

San Diego International Film Festival UCSD Price Theater, La Jolla www.sdiff.com 858-534-4559 This is San Diego's version of Sundance or Telluride -- without the celebrity hoopla. Entering its 19th year, the San Diego International Film ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best East County Stargazing

Tierra del Sol Observing Site www.sdaa.org This is the best place to get acquainted with the night sky and the local amateur astronomers who are passionate about it. The San Diego Astronomy Association hosts free ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Exotic Nightspot

San Diego Min Sok Chon 4620 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa 858-560-8168 True aficionados of exotic nightlife head to San Diego Min Sok Chon, a self-described "Korean folk village" that is a cavernous bar/restaurant with thatch-roofed ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best East County Caffeinated Evening

Zodiak CafŽ 9158-A Fletcher Parkway, La Mesa 619-466-9055 The eclectic living-room theme draws all ages, but especially teens and young adults. The Tuesday Open Mic Nights at 8 serve as public forums for musicians playing ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Ear Plugs For Your Next Concert

Dietsch's Hearing Aid Center, North Park 3952 30th Street 619-297-4145 (Also El Cajon, Pacific Beach, and Mobile Service) Savvy rock stars order hollow plugs with special filters to protect their ears. They're not going deaf...why ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Dive From Down Under

Australian Pub 1014 Grand Avenue, Pacific Beach 858-273-9921 The Australian Pub has been open in P.B. for six years now, and the decor includes Australian flags and World Cup soccer memorabilia intended to invoke a ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Detox

Volunteers Of America Detox Center 1111 Island Avenue, Downtown 619-232-9343 If the San Diego Police Department finds you drunk in public (or in private, if someone files a complaint), this is where you'll likely end ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Dance Club For Exhibitionists

Buffalo Joe's 600 Fifth Avenue, Gaslamp 619-236-1616 This is a fantastic place for showing off your dance moves. If you don't want the entire intersection of Fifth and Market watching you shake your groove thing, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Custom-Built Guitars

Zolla Guitars 8360 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Suite 104, Clairemont www.members.cox.net/bzolla/index.html 858-576-9655 Bill Zolla has been building custom guitars, necks, and bodies since 1979. Each instrument is built to order according to the buyer's choice of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Concert Arena Sound

Cox Arena 5500 Canyon Crest Drive, SDSU www.cox-arena.com 619-594-0234 Since 1997, the 12,000-seat Cox Arena has hosted some of the best-known performers to come through San Diego, from Pearl Jam to the Boston Pops Orchestra. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Club To Kick Up Your Boots

Magnolia Mulvaney's 8861 North Magnolia Avenue, Santee 619-448-8550 It's the kind of bar where blondes are proud of their dark roots and men are proud of their too-tight jeans. There's a restaurant and banquet room, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Christian Goths

Sanctuary: The Rock and Roll Refuge Pastor Dave Hart, [email protected] www.sanctuarysd.org "I became one of those 'born-agains' back in 1970, during the Jesus People days," says Pastor Dave Hart. After promoting Christian rock bands like ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Caffeinated Melting Pot

The Living Room 1010 Prospect Avenue, La Jolla 858-459-1187 Centrally located in La Jolla's village, this is a popular locale for foreign singles. Men and women from Brazil, Lebanon, Syria, Croatia, Bulgaria, Iran, Iraq, and ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Caffeinated Literary Evening

Esmeralda Bookstore 1555 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar Plaza 858-755-2707 Small, but with an amazingly diverse collection, Esmeralda serves coffee and munchies at cafŽ tables and chairs inside and out on the patio. At the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Yogurt To Serve With Exotic Cuisines

Straus Family whole-milk yogurt www.strausmilk.com Home cooks who want to re-create the flavors of Greece, India, and the Middle East face a major problem: unflavored whole-milk yogurt is a frequent ingredient in these dishes, but ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Vietnamese-French Sandwich

Bale French Sandwich Shop 6937 Linda Vista Road, Linda Vista 858-565-8057 The best French bread in town is often Vietnamese-baked. And the most delicious French-style torpedo roll gets made here in this little place next ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Use Of Corn Smut In A Fancy Restaurant

La Diferencia Boulevard Sanchez Taboada 10611-A Zona Río, Tijuana 011-526-664-634-3346, 011-526-664-634-7078 One of Mexico's great traditional delicacies is cuitlacoche, a subtle-flavored black "mushroom" that grows on fresh corn ears. (Its English name is the ugly ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Value Glass Of Greek Wine In The Gaslamp

Gyroscope Greek Café 926 Fifth Avenue, Gaslamp 619-235-4635 You want interesting food and cheap wine in the Gaslamp? Gyroscope's one of the few that has both. They have the usual medium-priced beef kabob, moussaka, spanakopita, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Under-The-Freeway Café-Bar

Moonlight on the Sea/ Club 13 640 Civic Center Drive, National City 619-477-2851 They say Club 13 is the second-oldest bar in town. The building dates from 1934. It's been Club 13 since 1943. Hell's ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Surfers' Health Food Restaurant

Roxy Natural Foods Restaurant 517 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas 760-436-5001 Though Roxy's reputation was made by catering to the veggie-spiritual crowd, the owners have added chicken and fish for the "new people" in Encinitas. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Thai

Celadon Royalty Thai 540 University Avenue, Hillcrest 619-297-8424 The chef cooked for the Queen and Princess of Thailand, and she'll cook for you, too. One menu page lists all the specialties, such as "Choo Chee ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Sunday Breakfast Downtown

Café 222 222 Island Avenue, Downtown 619-236-9902 Weekday mornings, businessmen crowd in. Later, you see politicians and conventioneers. But weekends, 222 belongs to downtown's young urban professionals. They come here to see -- and be ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Student Hangout

Effin's Pub & Grill 6164 El Cajon Boulevard, College Area www.effins.com 619-229-9800 The great thing here is you can swagger up to the five-sided bar and blurt "Gimme an Effin beer!" and nobody's going to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Steak Breakfast

Adam's Steak & Eggs 1201 Hotel Circle South, Mission Valley 619-291-1103 These guys have cooked breakfast steaks since 1966 in this bricky, woody, clubby, business-convention-tourist kind of place for very faithful customers. The breakfast menu ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Special Occasion Cake

Blood Orange Ricotta Torte Extraordinary Desserts 2929 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest 619-294-7001 Ripe fresh fruit and ethereal textures are the secret to Karen Krasne's pastries. Krasne's fruited ricotta tortes must be the real "angel food" cakes. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Spooky Candlelight Dinner

The Abbey Café 127 University Avenue, Hillcrest www.theabbeycafe.com 619-692-0311 Every night at dusk, in the patio below the big wooden cross, some poor sucker gets the job of lighting the wall of candles, 250 of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Small Step For Nature

Chilean Sea Bass Ban by Top Local Chefs www.seafoodchoices.com Hungry restaurant patrons pretty much ate the entire supply of orange roughy, the trendy new fish of 20 years ago; nobody realized that it's a slow-maturing ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best South Indian Curry

Madras Café 9484 Black Mountain Road, Suite H, Miramar 858-695-6229 Madras is in the south of India, where the Indians were not forced to assimilate with the Aryans who invaded the north 3500 years ago ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best "Signature" Lobster Bisque

Marine Room 2000 Spindrift Road, La Jolla www.marineroom.com 858-459-7222 Chef Bernard Guillas's bisque proves to be a signature indeed, a unique version of the omnipresent soup. Exciting and unexpectedly complex, it starts with a good, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Salt

Fleurs du Sel There's plain table salt that just tastes "salty" (possibly with some iodine off-flavors). Then there's France's fleurs du sel ("flowers of salt"), hand-harvested from natural salt deposits that form on certain shores ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Sidewalk Mexican

La Jolla Cantina 2161 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla Shores 858-459-5282 You'd expect this cantina to charge La Jolla Shores prices. It doesn't. You can get huevos rancheros, machaca, and even eggs Benedict at ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Scones

Rebecca's Coffeehouse 3023 Juniper Street, South Park www.rebeccascoffee.com 619-284-3663 They are crusty on the outside and fluffy inside. The owner -- named Rebecca -- bakes them herself. Some of the more unusual flavors include pear ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Restorative Potion At The Zoo

Margarita at Canyon Café San Diego Zoo 858-552-9577 Deep in Cat Canyon, between the Hunt Amphitheater and the panda exhibit, the Canyon Café serves a margarita -- a real margarita, complete with ice, salt, and, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Rock'N'Rolls

Sushi On the Rock 7734 Girard Avenue, La Jolla 858-456-1138 If you're looking for purist Japanese-style sushi, then it's hard to choose between Sushi Ota and Sushi Kazumi. But if you've got a yen for ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Restaurant Ravioli

Alfiere Sheraton Harbor Island, West Tower 1590 Harbor Island Drive, Downtown 619-692-2778 There's nothing like Chef Antonio Friscia's braised short-rib ravioli. The squares of pasta are about three inches across and so thinly rolled that ...

Best of 2003: Best Religious Vittles

Shri Mandir Temple 9474 Black Mountain Road, Mira Mesa 858-566-5644 On Sunday mornings, the Journey Community Church in La Mesa serves up everything from tacos to pizza. And on Sunday mornings, the Buddhist Temple of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Really, Really Late-Night Eats, Downtown

Broadway Pizza 1008 Broadway, Downtown 619-232-6264 The pizza is decent -- way above average, miles better than the national chains. Portions are generous and the grub's pretty good -- try the sausage link sub or ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Quick (Not Fast) Food At The Zoo

Sydney's San Diego Zoo Sydney's offers some of the best quick hot food in the whole hundred-acre stretch. One of its specialties is a barbecued beef sandwich that's luscious -- tender shredded beef in a ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Quiche

Michele Coulon Pastries 7556 Fay Avenue #D, La Jolla 858-456-5098 The Quiche Lorraine features a light, satiny filling of spinach, cheese, and organic Siestel bacon inside a divine crumbly crust. This is not your mother's ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Quality Supermarkets North Of I-8

Harvest Ranch Markets and Jonathan's Harvest Ranch Market, 1555 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, 858-847-0555 Harvest Ranch Market, 162 South Rancho Santa Fe Road, Encinitas, 760-944-6898 Jonathan's, 7611 Fay Avenue, La Jolla, 858-459-2677 Harvest Ranch ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Quality Supermarket South Of I-8

Whole Foods Market 711 University Avenue, Hillcrest 619-294-2820 You want Thai Kitchen bottled curry bases, not just their insta-noodles? Bottled anchovies from Greece? Italian salt-cured capers? Finnish Lappi or French Explorateur cheese? Extra-virgin oil from ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Watch Airplanes As You Eat

Bertrand at Mr. A's 2550 Fifth Avenue (12th floor), Banker's Hill 619-239-1377 The room is civilized and comfortable. The staff strikes just the right balance between friendliness and professionalism. The food is delicious. But up ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Prime Rib Value In The Gaslamp

Sicilian Village Deli 895 Fourth Avenue, Downtown 619-234-4002 This place was once part of the late lamented Farmer's Bazaar in East Village. Happily their prices haven't gone Gaslamp. One of downtown's best values, and a ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Take Your Boss To Breakfast

Arterra Marriott Del Mar Hotel 11966 El Camino Real, Del Mar 858-369-6032, 858-523-1700 What better "power breakfast" than tangerine soufflé hotcakes, the paragon of pancakedom -- light, sweet, and pungent all at once. The ethereal ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Stock Up On Russian Food

Continent Deli 4150 Regents Park Row, Suite 110, La Jolla 858-623-0099 Can there be a better place in all of Southern California to buy salami? Owner Irina Kanevsky claims her University City store typically stocks ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Relive San Diego's Cable Car Days

Cable Car Café 1945 Adams Avenue, University Heights 619-291-8607 The Cable Car Café is the last remnant of San Diego's 1890s transportation system. Wall photos commemorate it, the subsequent electric trolleys, and Harvey Bentley's ostrich ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Take Your Parents To Breakfast

Golden Egg Omelet House 316 W. Mission Avenue, Escondido 760-489-6420 These omelets are thin, weightless, crêpe-like sheets of eggs wrapped around heaps of elaborate fillings. One option is strawberries and cream -- Golden Egg is ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Pick Up A Gourmet Dinner And Pretend You Made It Yourself

Waters Catering 1115 West Morena Boulevard, Morena District www.waterscatering.com 619-276-8803 Adjacent to their catering operation, Waters has opened a take-out café with dishes that you can grab for a quick lunch or an easy dinner ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Eat Like You Did In Oaxaca

Aqui Es Oaxaca Avenida Cuauhtemoc Sur Qte. 212-5 (across from Hotel Palacio Azteca) Zona Río, Tijuana www.bajavisual.com/oaxaca/mapa.htm 011-526-664-686-4193 You'll find the most authentic Oaxacan cooking in our general neighborhood at the "Here's Oaxaca" restaurant in ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best (& Only) Place To Buy Cajun Boudin

Mardi Gras Café and Market 3185 Midway Drive, Loma Portal 619-223-5501 If you know what it means to miss New Orleans, this deli serves Louisiana cooking and sells the ingredients. The shelves are piled high ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place For Hot & Spicy Hamburgers

Crest Café 425 Robinson Avenue, Hillcrest 619-295-2510 The Crest boasts "Hearty Homemade Comfort Food," but there's nothing comforting about the "Butter Burger." This unique, h-h-hot half-pound burger is packed with spices: paprika, cayenne, and cumin, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Persian Breakfast

Café Caspian Persian Eatery & Tearoom 4646 Park Boulevard, University Heights 619-298-2801 Two tiny rooms overflow with midnight blue cushions and eggshell blue walls and colorful cloths draped everywhere. Three samovars speak of the old ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Peanut Butter Sandwich

Nutter's 428 C Street, Downtown www.nutterspeanutbutter.com 619-239-7075 Still have pangs for that mouthwatering "PB&J" from your childhood? Nutter's offers new twists on the old standard. But first you have to choose your peanut butter: white ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Pickled Herring

Chesapeake Fish pickled herring at Sausage King 811 Washington Street, Mission Hills 619-297-4301 Sausage King is an amazing source for all manner of Mitteleuropean foods, from their own house-made sausages and jerky (a huge assortment) ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best New York- Style Pizza

Knockout Pizzeria They don't do California thin crust. They don't do deep-dish. They don't do chicken. They won't do pineapple. They call their pizzas "pies." And they do sell by the slice. These guys are ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best New Twist On California Cuisine

Faz Courtyard by Marriott 530 Broadway, Gaslamp 619-446-3040 Where most "California cuisine" chefs reinterpret the flavors of France and Italy, Iranian-born Faz Poursohi brings the same clean-flavored, stylish slant to the cuisines of the Southern ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Paella

Costa Brava 1653 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach 858-273-1218 At Costa Brava, the seafood paella goes into the pan right after (not before) you order it, and it's served to you straight out of the paellera, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best New Restaurant

910 Grande Colonial Hotel 910 Prospect Avenue, La Jolla 858-964-5400 In this casual-chic dining room, you feel like you're in Manhattan. You'll hardly notice this soignée ambience, though, once you plunge into Chef Michael Stebner's ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best "N'Awlins" Crawfish Boil

Sassafras 3667 India Street, Mission Hills 619-295-4745 This restaurant gains its moniker from ground sassafras, the primary seasoning in gumbo filé. Chef-owner, Andre Bellard, is a native son of Lafayette, Louisiana, and knows that flavor ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best New Fish House

Third Corner 2265 Bacon Street, Ocean Beach 619-223-2700 Mediterranean-style seafood is the specialty at Ed Moore's latest outpost, across the street from his Thee Bungalow. Chef Juan Flores is turning out some wonders here. A ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best New Ethnic Restaurant

Aswan African Restaurant Helix Center 7404 University Avenue, La Mesa 619-464-7100 How many restaurants offer Somalian sambussas (a "best" in their own right) for the first course, followed by one of the world's finest Creole ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Moroccan Atmosphere, Coffee, And Belly Dancing

Gargoyle Gallery & Café 1845 India Street, Little Italy 619-234-1344 Moroccan decor with Turkish pillows, exotic lamps, tiles, inside fountain, and sunlit courtyard. This place may be in Little Italy, but it has captured North ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Monkfish Liver Appetizer

The Surfside 4527 Mission Boulevard, Pacific Beach 858-273-2979 Monkfish liver is a Japanese delicacy that resembles -- well, it's best described as the duck-liver mousse of the ocean. It shows up only intermittently, usually at ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Mexican Chicken Soup

La Especial Norte 664 North Coast Highway 101, Leucadia 760-942-1040 La Especial features a dozen terrific soups, but their Mexico City-style chicken soup is the best of them all. Based on a full-flavored, made-from-scratch chicken ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Luscious Latin Dessert

Tres Leches Cake, Amici 564 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas 760-753-9050 Eating at intimate little Amici is like going to a dinner party presided over by a brother-sister team of culinary globetrotters, originally from Cuzco, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Metro-Area Source For Herb Plants

Mission Hills Nursery 1525 Fort Stockton Drive, Mission Hills www.missionhillsnursery.com 619-295-2808 Some herbs can be grown from seed, but the long-lasting perennials (such as rosemary, French tarragon, and Greek oregano) are typically best started as ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Mex-Greek Fusion Restaurant

The Greek Sombrero 12891 Highway 94, Jamul 619-669-1979 Pete Saridakis and his Mexican-American wife, Alexandra, decided they'd each serve their own food in the same restaurant. Result: they have a Mexican chef and a Greek ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Locally Swimming Fish To Eat

San Diego Sportfishing Council 2171 India Street, Midtown www.sportfishing.org 619-234-8791 Drum roll please...San Diego's best tenderloin of the sea: the Pacific yellowfin. These cigar-shaped tuna cruise up and down past San Diego at least half ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Little-Known Asian Snack

A Chau 4644 El Cajon Boulevard, City Heights 619-281-4066 Faster and cheaper than a deluxe fast-food burger, lighter than the gourmet sandwiches concocted at Hillcrest's Bread & Cie, the crusty French rolls stuffed with chicken ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Late-Night Hot Dog Place

Vida Cart Corner of Fifth Avenue and Island, Downtown (No phone) When the vibes are right, usually around one or two in the morning, this hot dog stand becomes a café des artistes, the kind ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Li'l Pub With Grub

Happy Hour Sports Bar 2519 Market Street, Sherman Heights (No phone) If you blink, you'll pass it. Just listen for Mookie and Runt. The dogs will bark their heads off at you, the first time. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Late-Night Eats, North County

Juanita's Taco Shop Estilo Tepatitlan 290 North Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, 760-943-9612 248 Main Street, Vista, 760-758-4531 Enticing aromas of fresh tortillas and fragrant frijoles emanate from these little taquerias, where the food's cooked in ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Late-Night Eats, Hillcrest

La Posta de Acapulco's 3980 Third Avenue, Hillcrest 619-295-8982 La Posta's urban assault cooks deliver truly authentic Mexican delicacies that are reasonably priced without skimping on ingredients. The carnitas burrito weighs in at almost four ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Late-Night Eats, Downtown

Sevilla Restaurant & Tapas Bar 555 Fourth Avenue, Gaslamp www.cafesevilla.com 619-233-5979 Energized but not manic, crowded but courteous, with almost as many European as American patrons, this is a sophisticated scene for nibbling in the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Jewish Lunch

Sheila's Café & Bakery 4577 Clairemont Drive, Clairemont www.sheilascafe.com 858-270-0251 Sheila creates dishes everybody eats, from Italian to Mexican to ribs to fried chicken to desserts like cheesecake, but in a way that allows observant ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Introduction To Ostrich

Classic Malt Shop 3615 Midway Drive, Sports Arena 619-226-1600 "Fifteen years ago," says ostrich farmer David Stebb, "we thought ostrich was going to take off as the new red meat. Ostrich meat is identical in ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Irish-Jewish Corned Beef

Dublin Square 554 Fourth Avenue, Gaslamp 619-239-5818 This most Irish of Irish pubs cooks the standard Irish-American dish: corned beef and cabbage, using a good cut of brisket beef and cooking it so that it ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Indian Buffet

Star of India 1820 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach 858-483-1372 It's the freshness of the food and the owners' originality that make this great. They even made their own tandoor -- the oven -- from clay ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Homemade Tortillas

Las Cuatro Milpas 1857 Logan Avenue, Barrio Logan 619-234-4460 As light as a snowflake landing on your tongue, these tortillas are bagged by the dozen and kept on the front counter, tempting patrons with their ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Hawaiian-Style Pork

Kailani's 137 West D Street, Encinitas 760-942-5642 "Livin' the Aloha Spirit" next door to a 7-Eleven just off Highway 101, Kailani's offers "plate lunch" for breakfast, lunch, and early dinner. You get two scoops of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Hangout For The Pierced Goth Crowd

Pokéz Mexican Restaurant and Vegetarian Cuisine 947 E Street (at 10th), East Village 619-702-7160 The wooden cutout Aztec dude on a skateboard tells the tale: This is Aztlan territory. The boss, Rafael, started this when ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Good-Value Swedish Food

IKEA Restaurant & Café 2149 Fenton Parkway, Mission Valley 619-283-6166, x1200 How do we know this place serves authentic Swedish food? Because of the number of Swedes you see and hear in the line to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Garlic Shrimp

Chiki Jai Basque Restaurant 1388 Avenida Revolucion (at Eight), Tijuana 011-52-664-685-4955 Tijuana's oldest restaurant is kicking with new life. Yes, it has always been famous for its paella. That's what the Spanish jai alai players ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Frozen Pesto

Rosanna's Italian Deli 1070 North El Camino Real, Encinitas 760-633-4546 Remarkably fresh and delicate, the house-made pesto in the freezer case at Rosanna's delightful Italian deli tastes purely of fresh basil and a little olive ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Fun Feed For Carnivores

Rei Do Gado Churrasceria 939 Fourth Avenue, Gaslamp 619-702-8464 The meats just keep coming at a Brazilian rodizio, skewer after skewer of churrasco (Brazilian barbecue). Sirloin shish kebab, skirt steak, top sirloin, tri-tip, linguiça, shrimp, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best French Patisserie In Tijuana

Café Francais La Belle Claude Calle Galeana (7th Street), No. 8186-A 011-52-664-685-3415 La Belle Claude, named after the owner's daughter, looks expensive but isn't. It's a light, airy patisserie full of richly varnished wood, Victorian ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best British Pub

Speakers' Corner British Pub & Grill 2664 Fifth Avenue, Banker's Hill 619-232-5456 Come on a Friday night, when English, Scots, Irish, Aussies, and Kiwis turn this place into a piece of Blighty (England) with their ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Bar To See Famous Musicians Jammin'

Backstage Bar, Humphrey's by the Bay 2241 Shelter Island Drive, Shelter Island www.humphreysbythebay.com 619-224-3577 The bar's biggest plus is its location adjacent to the outdoor concert venue that features some of the biggest names in ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Beach Bar For Smokers

The Sunshine Company 5028 Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach 619-222-0722 It is getting harder to find a place to light up ever since the nonsmoking ordinance in restaurants and bars was passed in 1998. Although many ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Banjos

Deering Banjo Company 3733 Kenora Drive, Spring Valley www.deeringbanjos.com 619-464-8252 The Deering Banjo Company is world-renowned for its affordable handmade banjos. Back in 1978, Greg and Janet Deering started building banjos for the beginner out ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Bar Dartboards

Babe's Billiards 'n' Brew 1246 East Main, El Cajon 619-588-0426 Babe's has six dartboards and a shop -- B&D Darts, right in the bar, stocked with all the darts paraphernalia you need. Steel-tipped or soft-tipped, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Artsy Evening

Ray at Night One block east of 30th and University, North Park Second Saturday of the month 6 p.m. to midnight 619-683-2221 On an unassuming block in North Park, artists and friends have transformed worn-down ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best All-Teenage All-Girl Band

Jailbait www.jailbait.8m.com Drummer Alex Lautenen celebrated her 17th birthday in September, bassist Amber Dodson turned 18 in October, guitarist Ashley Degan was 18 in May, and singer Nicky Friedman turned 19 in June. Jailbait lands ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best After-The- Bullfights Party

Señor Frogs Tijuana Via Oriente #60 C-6 L-4 Centro Commercial Pueblo Amigo 22320, Tijuana First you have to go to the bullfights (if only to make conversation at the party afterwards) located a few steps ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best After-Hours Raves

E Street Alley 919 Fourth Avenue, Gaslamp www.estreetalley.com 619-231-9200 Located down a flight of stairs at the end of a downtown alley, this restaurant and nightclub opened in July 1994. Filling its 18,000-square-foot space are ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Adult Kiddieland

Dave & Buster's 2931 Camino Del Rio North, Mission Valley www.daveandbusters.com 619-280-7115 This place has the newest, hottest, and largest collection of video participation games -- from virtual skateboarding to a barrage of shooting galleries ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Acoustic Guitar-Head Store

Buffalo Brothers 2270-C Camino Vida Roble, Carlsbad www.buffalobrosguitars.com 760-431-9542 The average cost of a guitar from this industrial park warehouse is $3000. Although brothers Bob and Tim Page also sell electric guitars, their inventory of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best French Bistro

Chez Odette 3614 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest 619-299-1000 Odette comes from Belgium and she has decorated her small place like a bistro in Brussels. Her place smells of fresh French bread and garlic. She has cooked ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Zero-Emission Cab Company

Mini Cab Company, Inc. 526 J Street, Downtown 619-234-1818 Nepal is the only other place on the planet that Greg Paquette and Paul Basile think this is happening: electric, nonpolluting, short-distance cabs beetling about downtown ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Way To Welcome A New Baby

Stork News www.storknews.com 858-576-8521 Call Stork News and they'll deliver and install an eight-foot stork in front of the new baby's home. The stork comes with a "baby bundle" hanging from its bill that lists ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Wood Mantel Carver

Bill Nevers, Nevers Oak 312 North Coast Highway 101, Encinitas 760-632-5808 For 26 years, artist and sculptor Bill Nevers has been carving mantelpieces. "I love them because they are so important in a house," he ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Vegetable Garden Plant People

Suilin and Whitney Robinson, Multiflora Nursery Hillcrest Farmer's Market, DMV parking lot In an experiment some Mission Hills residents planted vegetable plants from two local nurseries next to plants from the Robinsons. The Robinsons' sprouts ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Used Running Shoes

Road Runner Sports 5553 Copley Drive, Kearny Mesa 858-974-4455 All the used shoes on the shelves, and there are hundreds of pairs, are returns from catalog sales. The fit wasn't right or the arch didn't ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Upscale Baby Store

Oh Baby! 1356 West Valley Parkway, Escondido 727 Center Drive, San Marcos www.ohbabykidstoo.com 760-739-0226 The store carries a variety of brand names, but stocks only the best products from those brands. Top-of-the-line Peg Perego strollers ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Upholsterer

Point Loma Upholstery, Inc. 3950 Hicock Street, Loma Portal 619-298-3828 Owner Buzz Rodriguez's recorded message explains the "seven secrets of upholstering." The most important considerations include ergonomics (is it comfortable for your body?), foam quality, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Undertaker

Benbough Mortuary 3051 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park 619-283-7211 Located in what was originally the Lewis Colonial Mortuary, Benbough Chapel specializes in customizing services to what the family wants. The biggest variable expense in funerals ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Tiara Source

Hair Team International 319 Parkway Plaza, El Cajon 619-579-2266 Priced from $8.99 to $79.99, this tiara selection includes more than 50 tiaras in silver and gold, rhinestones and pearls. There are small tiaras held in ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Travel Agent

Laura Smith-Moritz, Adventure Travel Company 7 Horton Plaza, Downtown 619-544-0800 Get in line if you want to consult with this ebullient and meticulous veteran (and be prepared to pay the up-front fees that have become ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Thrift-Store Clothing

Amvets Thrift Store 3441 Sutherland Street, Midtown 619-297-4213 Located off Pacific Highway, Amvets offers used clothing from current, costly name brands to styles of bygone eras -- all in fair or better quality. High turnover ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Teen Meet-&-Shop Mall

Fashion Valley Shopping Mall 7007 Friars Road, San Diego www.shopfashion valley.com 619-688-9113 Inexpensive options for clothes include Charlotte Russe, Wet Seal, and Express, where prices start at $20. More expensive are BCBG, Bébé, and Jewel, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Tattoo Artist

David Davenport @ On Point 1459 University Avenue, Hillcrest www.dogspunk.com 619-297-7777 After graduating from art school in San Francisco, Dave worked as a video game designer before he discovered his true knack: creating intricate patterns, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Food Extravaganza For Charity

Celebration of San Diego Chefs www.theebungalow.com The chef celebrations held annually in May serve the good cause of furthering the culinary education of young local chefs. (It's not just good for the young chefs; it's ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Family Restaurant On Avenida Revolución

Café La Especial Avenida Revolución #718, Tijuana 011-52-664-685-6654 Low ceilings, deeply varnished tabletops, black furniture hand-painted with flowers and portraits, murals of Mexico, and unhurried waiters. Signs from the days when the bullfight crowd hung ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Fish Grub

South Beach Bar & Grill 5059 Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach 619-226-4577 Occupying the last space in the last building on Ocean Beach's famed Newport Avenue, South Beach is half restaurant and half bar. All of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Fishmonger To The Star Chefs

Leong Kuba Sea Products 9066 Carroll Way, Miramar 858-693-7561 What do Mille Fleurs, Pacifica Del Mar, the Third Corner, and Miguel's Cocina have in common? They all serve scrumptious seafood -- and they buy it ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Family "Early-Bird" Special

Village Garden Restaurant and Bakery 8384 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa 619-462-9100 This is a deal. For a Hamilton, you get a three-course dinner with soda included. The early-bird dinner specials last from 3 to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Stained & Leaded Glass

Noel Laue, Elemental Glassworks 16261 Woods Valley Road, Valley Center 760-749-7590 For over 20 years, artist Noel Laue has been working with stained, painted, and leaded glass -- specializing in windows, doors, and entry halls. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Tailor

Hans' Tailoring 444 Camino Del Rio South, Mission Valley 619-291-3381 Employees in the suit departments at Nordstrom and Saks refer their clients here. Regular hems on men's trousers are $8, $12 if you want cuffs. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best "Everything Old Is New Again" Food Trend

"Grazing" Some menus call them "small plates" or "global tapas." Others come right out of the closet and admit what they are: grazing menus -- collections of artfully constructed, smaller-size dishes (sized as large appetizers ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Soap & Philosophical Soapbox

www.drbronner.com Dr. Bronner died six years ago, but thanks to his family, his soaps and philosophical treatises live on. According to the website, "No one agrees with everything on the label, but everyone finds something ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Ethiopian Value

Awash Ethiopian Restaurant 4979 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park 619-583-9225 Don't expect cutlery here; you eat with your hands. Awash (named after an Ethiopian river) serves pretty much everything on injera, the giant soggy crumpet ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Second-Hand Stuff

Cedros Classic Antiques and Décor, Inc. 124 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Suite 206, Solana Beach 858-792-2929 "We take nice consignment," says Rita Hitchin; her partner is Marilyn Hughes. "We get mostly large things -- armoires, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best End-Of-Pier Food Experience

Ruby's Diner 1 Pierview Way, Oceanside www.rubys.com 760-433-RUBY(7829) Okay, we're walking, we're walking...to the end of the longest wooden pier on the West Coast. Oceanside's. That's where Ruby's is. Third of a mile out to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Satellite Dish Dealer

AmeriSat 7370 Opportunity Road, Suite P, Kearny Mesa www.digitaldishnet.com 858-505-1122 HDTV or TiVO? You want programs in Russian, Portuguese, or Arabic? Ask here and you'll get a knowledgeable answer. Although AmeriSat has specialized in commercial ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Emu Steaks

Rancho San Diego Emus 9966 Dolores Street, Suite 101, Spring Valley www.emuoil4u.com 619-464-3000 Tastes like steak, has less cholesterol than turkey, and needs a lot less pasture to raise. Willi Seeger has 100 emus on ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Rug Store

Outrageous Rugs 7126 Miramar Road, Miramar www.outrageousrugs.com 858-536-9760 Their selection covers the history of the world, from animal prints to Aubussons to Tea Wash and Tufenkian. They do ultramoderns, too. You can design your own ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Rock Quarry

KRC Rock 315 East Carmel, San Marcos 12249 Oak Knoll Road, Poway www.krcrock.com 800-572-7625 These guys have two dozen different kinds of flagstone, all in different colors and textures and thicknesses. They'll walk you through ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Reptiles Retail

Pet Kingdom 3191 Sports Arena Boulevard, Sports Arena 619-224-2841 The bare concrete aisles are cramped and narrow. Heavy metal music bangs out from the stereo behind the counter, and long hair and tattoos are the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Reproduction Vintage Stoves

The Warm Hearth 8748 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa 619-465-0890 Sales of wood stoves like the Danish Morso keep this business humming year-round. Because people want fireplaces with fires you can toss logs onto, these ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Rare Records Source

Folk Art Rare Records 3611 Adams Avenue, Normal Heights 619-282-7833 The jazz vocals, reggae, Brazilian guitar, western swing, pop, gospel, and bluegrass draw clients from all over the world. The shop's proprietor, Lou Curtiss (father ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Recycling Demolisher

John Smith Earthworks 619-276-0946 "We have salvagers. They start at the roof, take the tiles, windows, doors, fixtures, and lumber. Most of that goes to Mexico, but Habitat for Humanity gets a lot. We pretty ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Propane Station

Texas Street Ultramar 4616 Texas Street, University Heights 619-296-4913 The guys at Ultramar will fill your tank quickly for about $10 and check to see if the brass male is "tweaked." If it is, they'll ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Preschool

Fleur de Lis 3743 Front Street, Hillcrest 619-295-6781 For about 30 years, this Victorian house-cum-preschool has been nurturing wee ones. Tuition runs on the high end at Fleur de Lis ("the Harvard of preschools," some ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Recover Your Face

Amy Steinmetz, International Skin Care Centre 3518 Union Street, South Mission Hills 619-299-0543 Steinmetz offers her services to burn victims and those suffering facial disfigurement. She also caters to less extreme conditions, ranging from acne ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Tie One On

The Ascot Shop 7750 Girard Avenue, La Jolla 858-454-4222 Since 1950, the Ascot Shop has been San Diego's mainstay for traditional men's clothing. Neckties, bow ties, and ascots are available in contemporary and traditional designs. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Undo Your Tattoo

Tattoo Removal Laser Clinic De Anza View Medical Center 3737 Moraga Avenue, Suite B-111, Mission Bay www.trlaser.com 858-272-2021 Mistakes and youthful indiscretions can be permanently erased. The clinic can also lighten an existing tattoo for ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Play "Button, Button, Who's Got The Button?"

As Cute as a Button 814 Washington Street, Mission Hills www.ascuteasabutton.com 619-220-7012 The retail store offers over 6000 button styles; 500 styles are featured in the online catalog. Old buttons, new buttons, antique buttons, chartreuse ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Make A Motorcycle Handicapped-Accessible

Vortex Engineering 9201 Isaac Road, Santee www.vortexengineering.com 619-258-9660 "They also did the lift on my boat," says Lou-Lou, sportsman to the max. He's got two motorbikes now, a Honda VTR 996 "crotch rocket" and a ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Find Out Who's Your Daddy

Genetic DNA Profiles 6122 Nancy Ridge Drive, Sorrento Valley www.geneticprofiles.com 800-551-7763 Dr. Gilroy uses buccal (cheek) swabs from mother, child, and the alleged father to determine DNA. Results take 7 to 10 days. Fees to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Buy Saltwater Tackle

Fisherman's Landing Tackle Shop Corner of Scott Street and North Harbor Drive www.saltwatertackle.com 619-221-8506 Two of the three tackle shop owners are long-range sportsfisher captains. They've been selling and repairing local and big-game tackle since ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Buy Shoelaces

Mira Mesa Shoe Repair 8965 Mira Mesa Boulevard, Mira Mesa 858-566-9280 A six-foot wall section is devoted to shoelaces. You'll find the color, length, and style of laces you're seeking. A pair of 36-inch, black, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Buy Used Building Materials

Habitat for Humanity ReStore 3653 Costa Bella Street, Lemon Grove www.habitatsdiego.org 619-463-0464 In this "thrift-store" warehouse, items sell at 50 to 75 percent off retail. Windows are $7 a square foot, carpet is 33 cents ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Buy Roller Skates

SkateWorld 6907 Linda Vista Road, Linda Vista www.sandiegoskateworld.com 858-560-9349 SkateWorld has the widest selection of roller skates -- the classic four-wheelers -- in the county. You'll find leather boots in white, black, and natural tan, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Buy Meteorites

Michael Blood www.michaelbloodmeteorites.com A San Diego native, Blood was one of the first dealers in the world to sell some of the rare and beautiful objects from space on a website. Although the number of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Buy Incense

Inhale 412 University Avenue, Uptown www.2inhale.com 619-295-1991 Tobacco, incense, and scented candles perfume the small shop. A 12-foot wall section is devoted to incense. Have a sniff of the Precious Gulab Rose Incense Sticks, $2 ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Buy Historical Pictures Of San Diego

San Diego Historical Society Research Archives Casa de Balboa, Balboa Park www.sandiegohistory.org 619-232-6203, x127 Hunting for an early San Diego picture of whaling ships in the bay, the neighborhood your family grew up in, or ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Buy Cheap Orchids

Trader Joe's Multiple locations 619-296-3122 Ranging in price from $10 to $20 depending on size and type, the orchid plants at Joe's are in bloom all year. And the assortment is wide -- everything from ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Buy Bricks And Stones

Thompson's Building Materials 6636 Federal Boulevard, Lemon Grove 619-287-9410 This is where contractors go for masonry products. Thompson's stocks almost 40 different varieties of bricks, including "used" (made to look old) for 36 cents apiece ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Buy Balloons

Balloonatics 703 Palm Avenue, Imperial Beach www.balloonatics.com 619-563-1088 In business since 1978, Balloonatics was San Diego's first balloon designer and decorator. Balloon arrangements cost anywhere from $35 to $75 and come laden with candy or ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Buy A Palm

Jungle Music, Encinitas (Call for directions) www.junglemusic.net 619-291-4605 Phil Bergman, a former president of the International Palm Society, reigns over this horticultural resource. No other nursery in San Diego County comes close to offering the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Buy A Good Cheap Mattress

Superior Mattress Factory 3376 Main Street, San Diego 619-233-6643 These guys have been in business just east of Barrio Logan since 1932. And they're factory-direct. And because they make their mattresses and box springs there ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place For Feng Shui Cures

Feng Shui Warehouse 1130 Scott Street, Sports Arena 619-523-2158 The world's largest supplier of Feng Shui books and products, this warehouse has crystals, fountains, mirrors, furniture, and reference books. Owner James Moser, a practitioner and ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place For Discount Pottery

Canyon Pottery 8575 Aero Drive, San Diego 858-279-2600 Pots range from tiny one-inch numbers for 50 cents to enormous terracotta four-footers for $350. With a range of colors, textures, and designs, these pots are anything ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Pharmacy

Meds Made Easy www.medsmadeeasy.com 866-993-6337 (toll free) This San Diego-based pharmacy specializes in helping people with diseases that require complex medication regimes. Let them fill your prescriptions and you're welcome to take advantage of their ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Photo Fixer-Uppers

Village Studio 8215 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa 619-466-6708 Owned by David and Sherry Gillespie, Village Studio repairs and restores antique photographs. The shop first opened in 1947 and has kept up with technology through ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Personalized Car Wash

Mr. Fred's Car Care Center 830 25th Street, Golden Hill www.mrfredscarcarecenter.com 619-531-0854 Mr. Fred does it the old-fashioned way -- by hand. He uses only soft water and shampoo (no detergents) and options range from ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Octogenarian Pet Sitting

Home Sitting Seniors 5851 Antigua Boulevard, San Diego 858-576-4417 Since 1972, this referral agency has provided retirees to serve as house and pet sitters for those on vacations or business trips away from home. The ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Nursery

Walter Andersen Nursery 3642 Enterprise Street, Midway District 619-224-8271 12755 Daniellson Court, Poway 858-513-4900 www.walterandersen.com People come here carrying diseased leaves, pictures of their backyards, and vague recollections of a shrub they once saw and ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Not-So-Coy Koi

Koi-Koi Living Jewels 1975 Jamacha Road, El Cajon 619-441-9275 Owner Donita Blalock can answer all your koi questions. These fish live longer in Japan (about 75 years) than in the United States (20 to 30 ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best North County Bike Tune-Up

Pacific Coast Cycle 2801 Roosevelt Street, Carlsbad 760-729-7671 Bicycle frames and wheels hang from the open beams of this small shop with patchwork wood floors. Customers stroll in and linger, swapping jokes and stories with ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best No-Frills Interior House Painter

Napolean Navarro, Navarro Maintenance 619-469-4542 "Napo" does what he promises and finishes on time even if he has to work all night. Prices vary according to the size and complexity of the job, but to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Edible Plants

Foraging in San Diego's Canyons Balboa Park Could you live off Mother Nature in San Diego? Maybe, says Jon Rebman, curator of botany at San Diego's Natural History Museum, but only if you know what ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Mother-Daughter Duds

April Cornell 1000 Prospect Avenue, La Jolla 858-454-1980 7007 Friars Road, Fashion Valley Center 619-298-8482 www.aprilcornell.com Start with the fabrics: crinkled crepe, brocade, crepe de chine, damask, Fuji silk, georgette, jacquard, panne velvet, and sand- ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best East County Thai Food

Orchid Thai and Vegetarian Cuisine 762 North Johnson Avenue #106, El Cajon 619-447-2819 Montry Sengsouriya opened this restaurant as a fancy place, with tablecloths, napkins, and flowers. But that scared the locals off, so now ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Downtown Business Lunch That Doesn't Bust Your Bank

Lilo's New American Cuisine 1125 Sixth Avenue, Downtown 619-231-1969 Close to all the downtown office towers, the food at Lilo's is reasonable, quick, generous, and sophisticated. Dishes like pear and walnut salad with bleu cheese ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Muscle Car Restorer

Brian's Classic Auto 9450 Camino Ruiz, Miramar 858-566-4138 When you're ready to restore that baby in the garage, call father and son, Bob and Brian Hamzey. Their thing is early Camaros. They specialize in restoring, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Mobile Dog Groomer

Hairy Tales 619-280-5660 The groomers from Hairy Tales come to your house, take your pooch for a walk around the block, and get to work. After they're done bathing and trimming to show-dog perfection, your ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Mobile Door Ding Removal

DentPro www.dentpro.com 619-520-8853 At DentPro they'll come out and give you a free estimate. Averaging about $100 per ding, they'll get busy as soon as you give the okay. Using an unusual tool that looks ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Croissant

St. Tropez Bakery & Bistro 947 South Coast Highway101 #103D, Encinitas 760-633-0084 The outstanding almond croissant here is done exactly as you'd find it in Paris (or on Manhattan's ritzy Upper East Side). The pastry ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Crêpes

Crêpes de Paris 1727 University Avenue, Hillcrest 619-298-7651 Run by an endearing couple transplanted from France, Crêpes de Paris does its best to re-create the original treats found on the streets of Paris. All you ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Deep-South Barbecue And Fixin's

Big Jim's Old South Barbecue 190 North Coast Highway 101, Encinitas www.bigjimsbar-b-q.com 760-635-1166 "Big Jim" Wade, from Clanton, Alabama, does barbecue right -- smoking it long and slow over sweet-flavored hickory. Then he makes two ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Mobile Car Detailer

Jaime Gill 619-470-9439 Gill's business is self-contained (he brings his own water) and he comes to you. After he cleans your vehicle at your home or office, people will think you just drove it off ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Martial Arts Instructor

Dr. Jacques Perrault SDSU Shotokan Karate Club SDSU Peterson Gym http://mintaka.sdsu.edu/karate 619-229-9700 Biology professor Jacques Perrault is also the International Technical Director of the American Shotokan Karate Alliance and was trained by master Hidetaka Nishiyama. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Mental Health Program

Alvarado Parkway Institute 7050 Parkway Drive, La Mesa www.apibhs.com 800-766-4274 Here's a private behavioral (i.e. mental health) system that really seems to work. Three local psychiatrists -- David Bergman, Michael Lardon, and Brad Sanders -- ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best "Continental" Dairy Products When Your Local Market Is A Mercado

Queso Oaxaca, Queso Cotija, Crema Mexicana, and Crema Casera At local Mexican markets, you'll find Mexican-style dairy products that taste more like their European equivalents than the supermarkets' sorry substitutes. Rubbery, semi-skim mozzarella doesn't melt ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Café Run By Homeless Kids

Cabo Café & Grill 808 West Cedar Street, Downtown 619-595-1618 Ralph Rubio of fish taco fame helped raise a million dollars to get this restaurant up and running, for good reason: Homeless kids from the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Chinese Breakfast Porridge

Sam Woo Bar-B-Q Restaurant In the 99 Ranch Supermarket 7330 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard #A103, Kearny Mesa 858-505-9888 The Chinese say jok, Chinese porridge, is the healthy, gentle way to start the day. Jok is made ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Life Coach

Kathy Nelson, CPPC On Track Success Coaching www.ontracksuccesscoaching.com 858-481-6757 "Life coaching is a little psychology, a little therapy, a little spiritual counseling, and a little business advice," says Kathy Nelson. Like most coaches, she works ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Jewelry Designer

Mary Hicklin, Virgo Moon 5519 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard #269, Clairemont www.virgomoon.com 619-443-0518 With original pieces like "The Crack Between The Worlds" necklace, and "Jaguar Tassel," Hicklin turns beads, stones, and fossils into art, and each ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Breakfast With Free Newspapers

Café 1134 1134 Orange Avenue, Coronado 619-437-1134 With bistro tables outside and an art-splattered, split-level, warm wood interior, 1134 doesn't even have to try hard. One badge of coolness: all the day's newspapers hanging wedged ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Inexpensive, High-Quality Art

C Note Sale San Diego Art Institute 1439 El Prado, Balboa Park 619-236-0011 This semiannual event (June and December) features paintings, photographs, and sculptures created by local San Diego artists, many of whom are in ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Inexpensive Massage

School of Healing Arts 1001 Garnet Avenue, Suite 200, Pacific Beach www.schoolof healingarts.com 858-490-2560 At the School of Healing Arts Clinic, they'll knead your body for one hour. The massage therapists are students in the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Brand Of Chicken At Local Restaurants

Shelton Free-Range, Antibiotic-Free Chicken At: Chive 558 Fourth Avenue, Gaslamp, www.chiverestaurant.com, 619-232-4483 Fio's, 801 Fifth Avenue, Gaslamp, www.fiositalian.com, 619-234-3467 and others The chefs at Chive and Fio's are among those who've discovered the virtues of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best House Painter -- Exterior

Matt Simpson, Apex Painting 858-268-9363 Apex might not provide the cheapest quote, but it won't be the most expensive either. Matt Simpson will come out to your house, walk around with you while you explain ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Hypnotherapist

Shirley Boyle, CCH 4024 Ibis Street, Mission Hills 619-692-4001 "Be kind and loving and truthful," Boyle advised callers to her voice mail recently. "Take a little time to slow down and just be." Some of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Home Brew Suppliers

Home Brewing Company 5401 Linda Vista Road, Linda Vista 619-295-2337 "We all started off not knowing a thing about making beer," says Don Nelson. But he's an expert now, and for around $75, Nelson will ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Biscuits & Gravy Joint

Mary J's Café 1930 Cleveland Avenue, National City 619-477-6645 This is real National City, with mile-long freight trains passing right behind the place, and Mary J. serving up biscuits and gravy as she did when ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Biker Burger Joint For Middle-Class Harley Riders

The Hideout Saloon & Steakhouse 27413 Highway 76, Santa Ysabel 760-782-3656 This is an old, dark, timbered roadhouse peeking out of the trees, with its own spring-fed water wheel, 3000 feet up in the mountains. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Betcha-Can't-Tell-It's-A-Veggie Burger

Islands 10669 West View Parkway, Mira Mesa www.islandsrestaurants.com 858-578-6500 At Island Burgers, the décor is tropical and the menu is full of variations on Grade-A beef burgers, like the "Hawaiian" with pineapple and teriyaki sauce, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Heart Disease Recovery Program

Healing Hearts Program Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine www.scrippshealth.org/723_766.asp 858-554-3300 Modeled after the Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease, the Healing Hearts Program helps people make changes that can prevent and even reverse heart disease. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Bean-Based Pastries

Crown Bakery 4690 Convoy Street, Suite 104, Kearny Mesa 858-499-0067 Every morning, Korean-owned Crown Bakery produces the city's freshest and tastiest green, red, and white bean paste buns at its Convoy Street storefront. Bean paste ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Headstones

Clemens Granite Works 10527 Prospect Avenue, Santee 619-449-0670 Family-owned and operated since 1933, owner Frankie Clemens insists on only pure stone and marble (ordered from as nearby as Gopher Canyon and as far away as ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Bean Soups

San Diego Women's Bean Project 1954 Fifth Avenue, Downtown www.sdwbp.org 619-230-1151 You can cook like a local chef with a soup mix from the San Diego Women's Bean Project, a program that has helped San ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Hawaiian Goods

Motu Hawaii 4150 Mission Boulevard, Pacific Beach www.motuhawaii.com 858-272-6688 Motu Hawaii offers a full range of authentic leis, handmade in the store from imported Hawaiian flowers. Made from plumeria, tuberose, ginger, ti leaves, and crown ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Hatha Yoga

Bikram's Yoga 2188 San Diego Avenue, Old Town 619-220-6811 Bikram's Hatha yoga is an exercise of postures, "a demanding 26-pose (Asana) series," performed in the same order every time. It's not fun and it's not ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Aztec Food In Town

Tamale and Champorrado cart Outside Rancho Fresco Market 1852 National Avenue, Barrio Logan 619-338-9140 Tamales are about the most genuinely Aztec food you can get, virtually unchanged since Montezuma's time. And people vote the tamale ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Handwriting Analyst

Paula Sassi 858-586-1511 All Sassi needs is your signature, or better still, a page of your scrawl. She started this with a free class at City College. Now, a psychology degree and certification later, she ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Hardwood Floor Refinisher

Dependable Hardwood Floors 619-229-8110 Kim can help you weigh the pros and cons of patching and refinishing your floors versus replacing them. Matching colors isn't a problem; she comes prepared with a mix-ready set of ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Argentine Empanadas

Tango Grille Argentine Steakhouse 635 Broadway (at J), Chula Vista 619-420-0384 Argentina's best-known contribution to world cuisine is probably its empanada, a savory turnover (like a "Hot Pocket") -- very handy for a gaucho to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Greenhouse Open To The Public

Cordova Greenhouse 720 Balour Drive, Encinitas 760-436-7393 Walk through the door, and you'll enter a humid jungle of green leaves, red blossoms and tropical delights, complete with parrot. Way in the back, Mr. Cordova and ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Hammocks

Paul de Smit, Exotic Hammocks 449 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas www.exotic hammocks.com 760-436-2946 You can choose among 20 different styles from Mexico, Nicaragua, and Brazil. De Smit has his own team from Puebla weaving ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Fun Hardware Store

Ace Hillcrest Hardware 1007 University Avenue, Hillcrest www.hillcrest hardware.com 619-291-5988 The store carries the usual assortment of plumbing, electrical, paint, hardware, and tools, but the front area is devoted to housewares. You'll find a dozen ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Garden Furniture

Akakora 5670 El Camino Real, Suite C, Carlsbad www.akakora.com/new/home.asp 760-930-4348 Ayman Suleiman discovered a Venezuelan process that fuses stained glass, cement, and wrought iron to create decorated garden tables, chairs, and benches. He is now ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best French Indulgences

Maison en Provence 820 Fort Stockton Drive, Mission Hills 619-298-5318 Some folks insist on table linens from Provence. Others can't do sans santons -- little Provençal Christmas figures or lavender honey for their petit dejeuner. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Flip-Flop Selection

South Coast Wahines 4500 Ocean Boulevard, Pacific Beach 858-273-7600 Flip-flops, zorries, thongs for the feet...South Coast Wahines, directly adjacent to Crystal Pier, offers approximately 30 styles in pastel and primary colors, leather, canvas, rubber, metal-studded, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Family-Fun Car Wash

Challenger Car Wash 3540 El Cajon Boulevard, East San Diego 619-584-9274 Take the kids to this car wash, where they let you stay inside the vehicle. No one can hear you scream with pretend fright ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Expensive Massage

Sheri Rosalia 4406 Park Boulevard, Hillcrest 619-269-8606 www.sherirosalia.com Sheri uses a combination of methods. Try the bag of hot rocks. Nestled into the small of your back, they'll coax your muscles to relax while Sheri's ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Family Portraits

The Picture People Multiple mall locations www.picturepeople.com 619-442-3383 "I'd gone into a department store portrait studio," explains one satisfied customer, "and it was dark and hot, and my baby fell asleep. I left and went ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Doggie Daycare

Camp Diego 2926 Garnet Avenue Pacific Beach 619-224-2267 None of the canines are caged. Small ones can choose between sunbathing outdoors or curling up in an indoor room where doggy classics such as Lady and ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Designer-Outlet Center

Carlsbad Company Stores 5620 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad www.carlsbadcompanystores.com 760-804-9000 Barney's of New York, Polo, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, and Banana Republic are a few of the 50 stores here. On a recent ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Dog Trainer

American Canine Training 11724 Johnson Lake Road, Lakeside 619-561-6768 Chris's house calls get pooches to listen and behave. He trains them, then teaches you how to repeat the commands and get the same results. The ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Deals On Long-Stemmed Everything

Franco's Flowers 842 Leucadia Boulevard, Leucadia 760-632-1624 A remnant of Leucadia's once-flourishing flower-growing industry, Jose Franco grows roses and carnations in five greenhouses and uses a sixth as a walk-in refrigerated room where customers roam ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Deal On Sunglasses

Sunglass & Optical Warehouse 3450 Kurtz Street, Sports Arena 619-291-4810 With about 7000 choices, every surf dude, glam chick, and party gal can find an exact fit and good look. And they have a prescription ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Customized Piñatas

Casa de la Piñata 4204 University Avenue, City Heights 619-281-7858 Star-shaped piñatas with a picture of a person in the middle are the most popular, but Patty can hand-build the piñata of your dreams. Give ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Colonic Irrigator

Rachail Baxter, Internal Cleansing Center 3330 Fourth Avenue, Hillcrest www.internalcleansingcenter.com 619-294-2218 Baxter is certified by the American Colon Therapy Institute to clean your large intestine. She'll even squirt in organic coffee to help your liver ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Clothing Source For Female Teens

Off 5th (Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet) 1750 Camino de la Reina, Mission Valley 619-296-4896 North of Mission Valley Center, Off 5th offers young women prom dresses short and long, fancy and elegant, by designers such ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Clock Repair Shop

Bob's Carlsbad Clock Shop 1055 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad 800-734-5121 This Carlsbad institution has two staffers who, for $85, make house calls from Los Angeles to the border. In-house, they fix broken clocks and oil ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Cheap Pedicure

Diva Nails 7354 University Avenue, La Mesa 619-460-4237 Pick up your nonfat mocha next door at the drive-through Cappuccino House and then settle into the black-leather "Human Touch Technology" chair for a pedicure at Diva ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Card Shop

Just for the Halibut 3960 West Point Loma Boulevard, Sports Arena 619-224-8024 The store carries products ranging from whimsical to different levels of contemporary humor, as evidenced by the number of people mistaken for insane ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Children's Resale

Cory's Closet 3745 Avocado Boulevard, La Mesa 619-660-1235 A gated play area stocked with toys and a playhouse entertain kids while parents check out the $3 and under clearance racks. Recent scores at Cory's: a ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Candle & Soap Shop

Clarity Soaps & Candles 3022 Juniper Street, South Park 619-640-5903 The two women who run this small shop make their own candles, soaps, and skin care and bath products. They wrap everything in baskets with ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Bullet- Resistant Equipment

California Police Equipment Company 4151 El Cajon Boulevard, City Heights www.californiapoliceequipment.com 619-280-1199 The miracle of Kevlar means that over the last three or four years, cops, military personnel, and even journalists have been able to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Cabinetmaker

Bob Stewart, Stewart Cabinets 619-441-8015 Stewart takes precision measurements and makes detailed drawings for your approval. After building the cabinets in his studio, he installs them so they look as if they've always been there. ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Cactus Guy

Brad Brown, Cactus King Nursery 1534 Crest Drive, Encinitas www.cactusking.com 760-753-6939 Brown's as expert a guy as you'll find. His dad bought the 50-year-old Cactus King Nursery 22 years ago. " 'Lawn' is a dirty ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Bikinis

Pilar's Beach Wear 3745 Mission Boulevard, Mission Beach 858-488-3056 Long lines in front of the dressing rooms are common, as are boyfriends and other spectators who watch those trying on suits by Body Glove ($28 ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Blacksmith

Steve Dvorák, Iron Touch 1251 Alturas Road, Fallbrook 760-723-5273 Dvorák learned his trade in his native Czechoslovakia. He uses a real forge and pumps his own bellows. People come for fireplace grates, driveway gates and ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Black Light Equipment

The Black 5017 Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach 619-222-5498 Black light will reveal toxic mold in your bathroom, illuminate your pet reptile in the dark, and expose forgeries in documents. But most folks want to get ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Barbershop

Westgate Hotel 1055 Second Avenue, Downtown 619-239-8566 There's over 100 years of barbering experience in the three-chair shop in the lower level of the Westgate Hotel. The shop maintains the Parisian theme of the rest ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Bankruptcy Assistance

Due Process 10391 Friars Road, Suite B, Mission Valley www.dueprocesslegal.com 619-284-9434 Due Process provides low-cost preparation of bankruptcy documents. Filing for Chapter 7 (discharging your unsecured debts so you're no longer responsible to pay them) ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Alzheimer's Facility

Parkside Special Care Center 444 West Lexington Avenue, El Cajon 619-442-7744 Accepting only senile dementia patients, the residents at this 52-bed facility are allowed free range, which includes a fenced patio area with trees and ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Aerial Photography

Lenska's Imageland 4250 Camino Santa Fe 858-453-1585 When Lenska Gaebel left Berlin for America, she wanted to take pictures, just like her grandfather, who had snapped Adolf Hitler and Marlene Dietrich. But Lenska wanted to ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Yacht Club For Ordinary People

Mission Bay Yacht Club 1215 El Carmel Place, Mission Bay www.mbyc.org 858-488-0501 You don't have to own a boat to belong to this club, which is considered the least pretentious (and least expensive) yacht club ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best-Kept-Secret Tennis Courts

Mission Hills Courts Corner of Washington and Randolph Streets These two city-owned and free-to-the-public courts are located across from Pioneer Park and overlook the greenery of Mission Hills Nursery. Although recently refurbished, they still have ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best 1950s "Moderne" Furnishings

Boomerang for Modern 2040 India Street, Little Italy www.boomerangformodern.com 619-239-2040 Remember falling-leaf chairs? Surfboard coffee tables? Blue-and-white cushioned stackable chrome chairs? Right now it's the young who are buying this stuff again -- for the ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Wheelchair Jaunt

Miramar Reservoir 10400 Scripps Lake Drive, Scripps Ranch 619-465-3474 "It was a hot day and, ya know, I made it," recalls Vern about the last time he rolled around Lake Miramar. "I think I brought ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Surf School

Kahuna Bob's www.kahunabob.com 760-721-7700 This is the county's oldest provider of year-round surfing instruction. During the past 18 years, more than 8000 newcomers to the sport have managed to stand up and start surfing by ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Urban Canyon Walk

South Mission Hills to Hillcrest This mile-long stroll will take you from the bottom of the Laurel Street hill to Hillcrest. Along the way you'll pass under the First Avenue Bridge, an impressive sight from ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Spot For Beginner Surfers To Save Face

Dog Beach, Coronado Learning the pecking order can be a humiliating experience. Getting "stink eye" (being stared down for robbing a wave or cutting someone off) or being called "kook" or "Barney" can ruin one's ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Rock Climbing

Mount Woodson Highway 67, 3 miles north of Poway Road Mount Woodson is a boulder-studded promontory rising between Poway and Ramona. Weathering and erosion have worked their will on the mountain's tough granodiorite bedrock, carving ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Walk The Tracks

Carrizo Gorge Jacumba Mountains, East County These train tracks were in use until 1976, when Hurricane Kathleen damaged them. They meander for miles through the arid terrain via tunnels and trestle bridges, including Goat Canyon ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place To Have A Surfboard Shot At You

Newbreak Sunset Cliffs, Ocean Beach www.staythehellaway.com Okay, the Web address is fake, but the sentiment is dead-on. In the olden days of surf localism, at many breaks it was enough, if you were a stranger, ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Place For Inline Skating

Silver Strand Bike Path Coronado "A good place not too many people know about," says Howard Yeh, who runs the San Diego Street Elite inline skating club, "is south of Coronado Island on the Silver ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Peak Climb

Stonewall Peak Highway 79 at Paso Picacho Cuyamaca Rancho State Park www.cuyamaca.statepark.org 760-765-0755 Stonewall offers a touch of vertigo for its visitors, tempered by the iron railings atop its summit block. The zigzagging, two-mile-long Stonewall ...

December 25, 2003
Best of 2003: Best Marathon Training Clinic

USA Fit Multiple locations www.usafit.com 858-792-2900 The San Diego version of USA Fit, a six-month program beginning in July, trains participants for the San Diego Marathon or Half-Marathon in January. New members pay $90 for ...

December 25, 2003
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