2022 Best of OC by Southern California News Group Special Sections - Issuu

2022 Best of OC

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Our community steps out and moves forward


or nearly three years now, we’ve heard about a “return to normalcy,” when the pandemic restrictions that upended our lives in early 2020 would be fully lifted and we could go back to the way things were previously. But while it’s true that mask mandates and social distancing rules have abated, if you look around Orange County these days, you’ll see a place that has progressed considerably since 2019 and continues changing and growing at a brisk clip. Forget going back to where we were — we’re moving forward. Last month, City of Hope opened a 190,000-square foot outpatient cancer center in Irvine, part of a $1 billion expansion into Orange County that includes smaller clinics in Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Irvine that have opened since 2020 and a new hospital that will open its doors in 2025. Next month, the Orange County Museum of Art will realize a yearslong goal of opening a new home on the campus of the Segerstrom Center for

the Arts in Costa Mesa. The 53,000-square-foot facility, twice the size of the museum’s previous location, will present selections from the museum’s permanent collection of about 5,000 artworks. The best part is that admission to the new space will be free for its first 10 years, thanks to a $2.5 million gift. In July, a 20-acre, $60 million water park opened at the Great Park in Irvine. The new Wild Rivers officially replaces the park of the same name that closed 11 years ago, but the new facility is 50% larger, with 20 attractions, including a 550-footlong water coaster, a 25,000-square-foot wave pool and a quarter-milelong lazy river. Next year, Disneyland will open a revamped version of Mickey’s Toontown, which will include a Dreaming Tree inspired by Walt Disney’s boyhood in Marceline, Missouri, and the West Coast debut of the innovative trackless ride Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Meanwhile, Knott’s Berry Farm will reopen its Montezooma’s Revenge roller coaster as Montezooma: The Forbidden Fortress and will reimagine its Fiesta Village marketplace as a


tribute to Olvera Street in Los Angeles. Like our community, the Best of Orange County magazine is also changing and growing. Readers cast half a million votes this year in 79 categories, ranging from best beach to best burger to best city to live in. Several voting categories are new this year, including best chicken restaurant, best nursing school and best outdoor dining. We hope you enjoy the Best of Orange County and keep it throughout the year as a resource to consult for finding things to do, new restaurants and other businesses as you enjoy our growing and evolving community.





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Places to Go+Do

Best Amusement Park Ride............................................................10 Best Beach......................................................................................... 12 Best Downtown................................................................................ 14 Best Fair/Festival.............................................................................. 16 Best Farmers Market........................................................................ 17 Best Golf Course............................................................................... 18 Best Live Theater ............................................................................. 19 Best Movie Theater......................................................................... 20 Best Museum.................................................................................... 21 Best Music Venue............................................................................. 22 Best Run/Race...................................................................................24 Best SoCal Casino ............................................................................26


Shopping & Services

Automotive: Best Auto Repair........................................................28 Automotive: Best Car Dealership...................................................29 Education: Best OC College/University ...................................... 30 Education: Best Nursing School ...................................................32 Education: Best Trade School........................................................ 34 Education: Best Tutoring Service..................................................36 Financial: Best Bank.........................................................................38 Financial: Best Credit Union............................................................40 Financial: Best Mortgage/Reverse Mortgage Lender.............. 42 Health: Best Dental Practice...........................................................44 Health: Best Fitness Center/Boot Camp.....................................46 Health: Best Hospital........................................................................48 Health: Best Medical Group............................................................50 Health: Best Place to Buy Hearing Aid.........................................52 Retail: Best Cannabis Dispensary..................................................54 Retail: Best CBD Store.....................................................................56 Retail: Best Grocery Store...............................................................58 Retail: Best Shopping/Dining Destination...................................59 Retail: Best Thrift Store...................................................................60 Retail: Best Wine Selection.............................................................62 Services: Best Lawyer/Law Firm...................................................64 Services: Best Meal Delivery...........................................................66 Services: Best Pet Clinic/Veterinary Hospital............................. 67


Luxury Lifestyle

Best Charitable Organization..........................................................70 Best Cosmetic Surgeon...................................................................72 Best Cruise Line.................................................................................74


Best Day Spa......................................................................................76 Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store............................................................78 Best OC Resort.................................................................................. 80 Best Waterfront Dining....................................................................81 Best Wealth Adviser........................................................................ 82


Food & Drink

Best Bakery.........................................................................................86 Best Bar............................................................................................... 87 Best Barbecue....................................................................................88 Best Breakfast...................................................................................89 Best Brunch........................................................................................90 Best Burger..........................................................................................91 Best Chicken.......................................................................................92 Best Craft Brewery............................................................................94 Best Date Night Restaurant............................................................95 Best Doughnut Shop........................................................................96 Best Family Friendly Restaurant.................................................... 97 Best Frozen Yogurt/Ice Cream.......................................................98 Best Happy Hour..............................................................................100 Best Italian Restaurant...................................................................101 Best Mexican Restaurant..............................................................102 Best Outdoor Dining........................................................................103 Best Pizza..........................................................................................104 Best Seafood Restaurant..............................................................105 Best Steakhouse..............................................................................106 Best Sushi......................................................................................... 107


Home & Garden Best Air Conditioning and Heating Company.............................110 Best Apartment Community..........................................................112 Best Appliance Store.......................................................................114 Best Blind/Shutter Store................................................................115 Best City to Live In...........................................................................116 Best Door/Window Company........................................................118 Best Furniture Store........................................................................119 Best Garden Center/Nursery.........................................................120 Best Home Builder...........................................................................121 Best Home Improvement Store....................................................122 Best Kitchen/Bath Remodeling Specialist................................123 Best Mattress Store........................................................................124 Best New Home Community........................................................125 Best Place to Buy Carpet/Flooring..............................................126 Best Real Estate Company............................................................ 127 Best Senior Living Community.....................................................128


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1. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Disneyland; disneyland.disney.go.com While it’s no surprise that Disney dominates the best amusement park ride category, the top three attractions feature a few new additions to the lineup. This year will go down in Disneyland history as one of the most unusual with the Anaheim park bouncing back after a 412-day closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rise of the Resistance nabs the top ranking for the first time since the dark ride debuted in December 2019 in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. The ambitious, first-of-its-kind attraction combines four separate ride systems with state-of-theart audio-animatronics and visual effects. Rise of the Resistance enlists recruits to join a battle between the villainous First Order and the heroic Resistance. The backstory for the attraction finds riders entering a dense forest where the Resistance has set up a temporary and secret


Jadson Santos, 9, walks past 50 stormtroopers on a Star Destroyer while on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge. military base camp outside of the Black Spire Outpost village on the Star Wars planet of Batuu, the setting for the 14-acre Galaxy’s Edge

2. Space Mountain

Disneyland; disneyland.disney.go.com Space Mountain drops from the No. 1 spot after several years on top. The 1977 indoor roller coaster takes riders on a high-speed journey through the dark with many twists, turns and dips. After more than four decades of thrills, the popular coaster consistently has one of the longest lines in Disneyland. The attraction occasionally shifts into Hyperspace Mountain mode, with a Star Wars overlay that was first introduced during the 2015 Season of the Force event. Scenes of X-Wings, Starfighters and even the Millennium Falcon flash on the interior walls of Space


Mountain as riders race through the dark aboard the indoor coaster. In past years during Halloween, a Ghost Galaxy overlay has filled the ride with paranormal activity with the help of projections, lighting and sound effects. Riders walk through a futuristic space station before boarding the coaster train in a mission control center. NASA Mercury and Gemini astronaut Gordon Cooper helped design Space Mountain so the ride would feel like an actual space flight. Through the years, the coaster has introduced onboard audio, added new ride vehicles and undergone a complete retracking.

themed land. Along the way, the recruits will be captured aboard a Star Destroyer, break out of a First Order detention cell, elude the

clutches of Kylo Ren and escape back to a secret base on Batuu.

— Brady MacDonald

3. Haunted Mansion

Disneyland; disneyland.disney.go.com The 999 ghosts who call Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion home redecorated the classic dark ride attraction and the grounds surrounding the estate while the mortals were away during the yearlong coronavirus closure of the Anaheim theme park. Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion renovation introduced new draperies, carpet, wallpaper and décor inside the attraction and fresh paint and plants on the exterior. In 2019, Disneyland celebrated the 50th anniversary of the popular haunted house attraction that has persevered and thrived at the Anaheim theme park despite a tortured and protracted birth. The story of the determined dark ride

involves a string of starts and stops that stretches for nearly two decades from 1951 to 1969. The reasons for the delays are many — from storytelling direction (frightening or funny) to architectural aesthetic (pristine or ramshackle) to attraction experience (walk-through or ride). In the 1960s, fans wondered if the finished facade would ever open as the Haunted Mansion sat vacant and fenced off for six long years. But the detours and diversions proved valuable as the Haunted Mansion helped usher in a new level of storytelling and technological advances at Disneyland that are still celebrated and enjoyed by fans today.


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As the sun sets and the clouds begin to glow, a woman walks along the beach at Crystal Cove State Park.

1. Crystal Cove State Park Pacific Coast Highway between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach; 949-494-3539; crystalcovestatepark.org From the highway, Crystal Cove State Park boasts classic beach scenery, from its stretch of golden sand to craggy coastal formations such as Pelican, Reef and Abalone points and its undulating coves. But that only starts to tell the story of Crystal Cove. Since its early discovery by filmmakers as the setting for the 1918 movie “Treasure Island,” Crystal Cove has been noted for its abundance and variety of activities that range far beyond surfing, swimming and sunbathing. From 2,400 acres for hiking, to picnicking, to geological tours and formations, to diving, to historical buildings, the diversity in the park is staggering. If you’re there for the classic beach experience, the park has you covered there as well, with 3.2 miles of wide beaches with gorgeous vistas. Although the surf breaks here are not as noted as other beaches in the county, Crystal Cove still attracts its share of surfers, as well as body boarders, stand-up paddle boarders, surf fisherman and kayakers. The beach’s Historic District, a 12.3-acre enclave of 46 cottages, was built as a seaside colony in the 1930s around Los Trancos Creek. It is one of the few surviving examples of early 20th century Southern California coastal development. Docents and rangers are available to offer a variety of educational and informational programs throughout the year, with guided hikes, tidepool walks and geology talks.

— Greg Mellen


2. Huntington City Beach Pacific Coast Highway between Beach Boulevard and Seapoint Street, Huntington Beach; surfcityusa.com/things-to-do/ beaches/huntington-city-beach/ Maybe the best known, most photographed and iconic stretch of Orange County beaches is the expansive, pristine piece of sand straddling the Huntington Beach pier and spreading miles in each direction. A hub of Southern California beach culture, whether it was really the model of Jan and Dean’s “Surf City,” Huntington City Beach has become the epitome of the beach scene. Home to the U.S. Open of Surfing, and pro beach volleyball tournaments, it is the “it” place from which to view the Pacific Air Show. The beach is host to concerts, car shows and events throughout the year. Vendors are on hand to provide bikes and other beach rental fare. The Huntington Beach Pier is City Beach’s centerpiece, a municipal pier that extends 1,850 feet from the end of Main Street and a popular perch to peoplewatch, check out surfers or fish.

3. Corona del Mar State Beach Ocean and Jasmine avenues, Newport Beach; 949-718-1859; parks.ca.gov/?page_id=652

Corona del Mar State Beach, tucked into a half-mile stretch framed by cliffs and the entrance to Newport Harbor, is a crescent-shaped state beach that packs a big punch in a small space. Once a surf mecca, the rock jetties created at the entrance to the harbor now shield the beach from bigger waves. Also called Big Corona, the beach is a popular destination for families with children and swimmers. The sand boasts fire pits and nine beach volleyball courts that have produced some of the country’s top beach volleyball players. Next door is Little Corona, a jewel of a beach protected on both sides by rock formations. It is known among locals for its clear waters, excellent for diving and snorkeling, as well as tide pools. You can also bring along Fido, but only before 10 a.m. and after 4:30 p.m.


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1. Huntington Beach Main Street off Pacific Coast Highway and nearby areas; 714-969-3492; hbdowntown.com; surfcityusa.com Throughout the year, the throngs that traverse the area around Main Street, Pacific Coast Highway and the Huntington Beach Pier tell you what you need to know: Huntington Beach remains at the top of people’s minds when it comes to popular downtowns in Orange County. Ever since Huntington Beach adopted the “Surf City,” moniker, the downtown area has done all it can to perpetuate the image with numerous surf shops, the Duke Kahanamoku statue and International Surfing Museum. The pristine, expansive Huntington City Beach, home to the U.S. Open of Surfing, provides scenic views north and south, with volleyball courts, bike and walking paths and, naturally, surfing. The focal point is the 1,850-foot municipal Huntington Beach Pier. Downtown proper features an entertainment district with lively bars and restaurants, cutting-edge shops and boutiques and strives to offer “the quintessential Surf City experience,” according to


An aerial photo of Main Street in Huntington Beach shows outdoor dining areas in front of restaurants that were extended during the COVID-19 pandemic. city leaders. Downtown also offers residents and visitors a variety of year-round events, such as Surf City Nights, a weekly street fair and farmers

2. Santa Ana

Ross Street to Minter Street, First Street to Civic Center Drive; 562-704-6909; facebook.com/downtowninc Over the past decade, the city has transformed its downtown core into a vibrant district that has managed to blend trendy entertainment and retail with art space that still pays homage to the city’s ethnic heritage and roots as the original hub of the county. “Downtown Santa Ana is OC’s original and largest downtown district,” says Ryan Smolar, director of placemaking for Downtown Inc.” We have 99 historic buildings from the 1890s-1930s.” Calle Cuatro, or Fourth Street, hums with activity 14

from the Civic Center to the pedestrian-friendly outdoor mall and plaza. Throughout the downtown are cafés, restaurants, craft breweries, bars, jewelers and other retail. While other downtowns, notably in Orange, have received plaudits for preserving heritage, Santa Ana beats them all. Through adaptive reuse and restoration, inside historical buildings visitors can find “the county’s hottest restaurants, independent shops and creative businesses,” according to Smolar.

market, as well as annual events, including the Fourth of July Parade and fireworks, Halloween Fest, Miracle on Main Street and Chili at The

Beach. Just south of downtown, Pacific City offers even more shopping and dining options.

— Greg Mellen

3. Laguna Beach

Pacific Coast Highway between Anita St. and Bluebird Canyon, 949-494-2333; visitlagunabeach.com Dubbed the “HIP District,” downtown Laguna is an eclectic kaleidoscope of fashion, art and eateries where Bohemian chic and bodies at the beach meet. Main Beach, set in a southwest facing cove and ringed by a grassy park area, serves as the backdrop to the downtown. The park offers a boardwalk, basketball and sand volleyball courts. Short strolls in opposite directions lead to Heisler Park and its tide pools, or Sleepy Hollow Beach which opens beneath the cliffs at low tide.

As the home city of the renowned Festival of the Arts and Pageant of the Masters, Laguna Beach features a robust artists’ community and more than two dozen galleries in the downtown area. Fashion is always forward in Laguna with abundant independent clothing stores and unique boutiques featuring their own vibes. Dining options range from swanky top-shelf restaurants to funky coffee shops with outside dining for unparalleled people watching.


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Balboa Bay Resort, 1121 West Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA







1. OC Fair 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa; 714-708-1500; ocfair.com Still going strong after 130+ years, the OC Fair is one of the area’s most anticipated events and draws more than a million people annually. Many are return visitors. No surprise there: trying to experience all the fair has to offer in a single day can be an exercise in futility. OC Fair Communications Director Terry Moore calls the monthlong event a “much-loved summer tradition.” “We hear wonderful stories about young families making memories just like the parents did when they were growing up,” she said. “It’s about friends seeing concerts under the stars and winning giant stuffed animals in the carnival. Most of all, it’s about being together and enjoying the fun you can only find at the fair.” Activities include midway games, rides, the large Ferris wheel and entertainment shows at three different venues. The Action Sports Arena returned with demolition derbies, speedway races and monster trucks


The OC Fair draws thousands of fairgoers every summer to the fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. after being dark in 2020-21. The Hangar offered the usual tribute band favorites and the Pacific Amphitheatre’s music and comedic talent rivaled neighboring county fairs. Jackson Browne, Trevor Noah, Brett Eldredge, the

2. Orange International Street Fair Old Towne Orange; orangestreetfair.org For nearly 50 years, sights, sounds and flavors from other countries have enveloped Plaza Park and surrounding streets in the historic downtown district. The event began in 1973 as a way to mark the city’s centennial. Held over Labor Day Weekend, OISF regularly draws a few hundred thousand people. Food and drink booths — sausages, barbecue and beer are quite popular — run by local nonprofit organizations spotlight over a dozen ethnicities. Last year’s fair featured Italy, France, Germany, Greece, 16

Switzerland, Great Britain, Mexico, Australia, Denmark, Thailand, and others. Some local restaurants provide menu samples. Other booths sell high quality handmade arts and crafts. There are eight stages of live music. Veteran OC Celtic rock band The Fenians is an OISF mainstay. One street is devoted to children’s food, crafts, games, activities, and a kids’ stage with familyfriendly performances by groups such as School of Rock. Admission is free and proceeds go to local nonprofit organizations.

Offspring, Counting Crows, Smokey Robinson, Culture Club were among this season’s performers. Elsewhere, the fair’s visual and photographic art contest winners guarantee something stunning, while a visit to

the war-themed Heroes Hall Museum and Education Center proves enlightening. The craft beer roundup, plus all the deep-fried and barbecue food are modern fair traditions.

— George A. Paul

3. Festival of Arts/ Pageant of the Masters

650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach; 800-487-3378; foapom.com

Pageant of the Masters, which uses original music, storytelling, and stage illusions to recreate great artworks, started in 1932. The traditional “The Last Supper” finale originated in 1936. According to Festival of Arts President David Perry, “the festival’s presentation of tableau art in the Pageant of the Masters, the quality and diversity of art displayed by exhibiting artists, and the timeless location in Laguna Beach,” help make the event unique.

Running July-September, the festival features numerous activities, including a weekly music series, family art day (plus the return of art classes, ceramics, and printmaking) and a festival runway fashion show. This year’s performers included Melissa Manchester, Mindy Abair, Jeff Lorber and Arturo Sandoval. Sixteen new artists were juried into the fine art show. Perry notes the festival spent $20 million to renovate its facilities in recent years, which benefitted the community.


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1. Great Park Certified Farmers Market 8000 Great Park Boulevard, Irvine; cityofirvine.org/great-park/farmers-market Orange County residents have no shortage of great farmers markets, and, according to readers, the greatest is the Great Park Certified Farmers Market. The market offers the requisite wide selection of certified fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables from 30 to 45 vendors and whatever you need for the latest diet craze. “I like to describe us as the Las Vegas buffet of markets, because we have a little everything,” said Mary Senske, market manager. The market also features live entertainment, artisan crafts and arts, bread, flowers, plants and packaged foods. In addition, gourmet food trucks serve breakfast and lunch. Part of what distinguishes this market — which attracts 1,200 to 1,500, more on big sports days — is a laid-back Sunday vibe with lots of multi-generation families. And, oh, yeah, adds Senske, “We have the best parking ever.” Visitors can also check out the nearby giant Great Park balloon and carousel. Another popular nearby


Pedro De Santiao with Chavez Farms keeps the veggies fresh during the weekly Great Park Certified Farmers Market in Irvine. feature is the Farm + Food Lab, where visitors can learn home gardening tips and see presentations from University of California Cooperative

2. Irvine Farmers Market

Mariners Church, 5001 Newport Coast Drive, Irvine 949-769-8262; ocfarmbureau.org The Irvine Farmers Market, not to be confused with its Great Park neighbor, is consistently at the top or near the top of the list for local farmers markets. The biggest of the Orange County markets, it features more than 100 vendors spread across the expansive parking area at Mariners Church.. Split about half-and-half with growers and artisans, the market is notable for its large number of farmers. There are also artisan baked goods, hummus spreads and

vegan meals. Although farmers markets were hard hit by the pandemic, they are hoping to rebuild to pre-pandemic numbers of 5,000 to 6,000 shoppers. The Orange County Farm Bureau, which was established in 1917 and operates nine certified markets, ensures vendors are certified by the county and state and sell homegrown produce. The Bureau also advocates for farmers and the challenges they face.

Extension (UCCE) master gardeners. Features include raised-bed gardens, fruit trees, vertical gardening, a worm compost

bin, chicken coop, butterfly garden, solar and windpowered lights and classes on pickling and canning.

— Greg Mellen

3. Downtown Anaheim Farmers Market

435 W. Center Street Promenade, Anaheim downtownanaheim.com

It may be tucked into a cozy locale, but the Downtown Anaheim Farmers market continues to draw a devoted contingent of customers to its digs. Established in 1995, the market offers a wide selection of produce and fruit all from certified growers. In addition there are gourmet foods, artisan breads and live entertainment. Local artists and craftspeople have handmade leather, jewelry and clothing for sale.

Located in the heart of downtown Anaheim, the market is accessible to entertainment and attractions. There are 16 dining vendors and adjacent retail shops, boutiques and restaurants open right out onto the market area. In addition, Center Street is closed off to vehicle traffic during the market, creating a comfortable walkable space. Two-hour validated parking is available at the Anaheim Boulevard parking structure.


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GOLF COURSE 2. Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club 26722 Avery Parkway, Mission Viejo; 949-305-5100; arroyotrabuco.com Set on a vast 240-acre tract amid the Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo, Arroyo Trabuco gives the impression of being removed from it all. Designed by Casey O’Callaghan and PGA Tour Pro Tom Lehman, the course, which opened in 2004, is scalable for all levels of golfers and can play from anywhere from about 5,000 to a full-on par-72, 7,000-yards circuit, depending on the tee boxes used. At the shorter distances, newer golfers can play without being intimidated, but the course can be plenty challenging and has hosted major events, such as Southern California Golf Association qualifiers. The namesake Trabuco Creek is often in play as a hazard on seven holes and lakes are involved in three other holes. Facilities include a large ballroom for weddings and banquets. O’Neill’s Bar & Grill serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a champagne brunch every Sunday.


Orange County Register readers selected San Juan Hills Golf Club as the top golf course in Best of Orange County voting.

1. San Juan Hills Golf Club 32120 San Juan Creek Road, San Juan Capistrano; 949-493-1167; sanjuanhillsgolf.com Affordable greens fees, along with some of the best greens in Orange County, have helped the golf course at San Juan Hills break to the top of the conversation of top golf choices in an always tough and competitive field. “We have a nice sweet spot between the high-end courses and the smaller ones,” said General Manager Ryan Brown, who took over managing the course in 2019. At 6,317 yards and par 71 from the blue tees with lots of elevation changes, the course is tough enough for the serious player, but forgiving enough for the less experienced. “We’re a windy, hilly course with a lot of sun elements,” Brown said.


In the past four years, the course has been able to make consistent improvements and remain active. Some of the changes include redesigned tee boxes on the first and 18th holes as well as a reconfiguration that can allow the 17th hole to play as either a par 3 or 4. The 14th hole is a fun, picturesque par-3 with three elevations. San Juan Hills also pumps up the offcourse activities with a driving range open until 10 p.m. with music. The San Juan Hills Sports Bar and Grill is inviting, whether you’re watching live sports on more than 25 flat screens, or relaxing and taking in the stellar views from the veranda.

— Greg Mellen

One Black Gold Drive, Yorba Linda; 714-961-0060; blackgoldgolf.com This is not your average muni. Black and Gold Golf Club in Yorba Linda is a course that punches above its weight against the big hitters in the tough, upscale, Orange County golf scene. In addition to being among the best values in Orange County, Black Gold plays every inch of its 6,756 yards from the black tees. Noted local course architect Arthur Hills created a demanding course with elevation changes and water features, including the course’s signature waterfall off the 18th hole. As one online review on GolfPass wrote, “Had to play it again cause I got my butt kicked last time. Just as fun and challenging. I’ll get ’em next time.” Vaulted ceilings and wall-to-wall bay windows make the 20,000-square-foot clubhouse a popular wedding venue. Derrick’s Grill serves breakfasts, appetizers and lunches, along with banquet service for up to 250 guests.


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Capulets rehearse for Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo’s production of “Romeo and Juliet” at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

1. Segerstrom Center for the Arts

2. Laguna Playhouse

There’s a sense of prestige at Segerstrom Center for the Arts you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in Orange County. Opened in 1986 (originally as the Orange County Performing Arts Center), the nonprofit arts organization oversees multiple venues on the arts campus and serves as home to the Pacific Symphony, Philharmonic Society of Orange County, Pacific Chorale and South Coast Repertory. “The Center continues to bring internationally acclaimed performances, not only in our theaters, but also uniquely curated outdoor performances featuring eclectic artists on the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza,” said Segerstrom Senior Director of Communications Carla Cruz. “We stay true to our mission to continue to grow an amazing arts community… Our education programs regularly serve 300,000 people annually. “We are always evolving and bringing new experiences,” added Cruz, citing the new author series In Conversation with Fran Lebowitz, Amy Tan, and Erik Larson as an example. The 2022-23 Curtain Call and Broadway series schedules will feature “Hamilton,” “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Frozen,” “Mean Girls,” “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical” and the North American premiere of “Like Water for Chocolate.” Various other genre series will present Belinda Carlisle, Mavis Staples, Chita Rivera, Jane Lynch, Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters, George Benson, and others over the coming months. Cruz added that the dance classes have been popular and that Segerstrom continues to maintain COVID-19 safety protocols.

Laguna Playhouse is one of the oldest continually operating nonprofit theaters on the West Coast. Open since 1920, it offers acting classes, workshops, and a summer theater camp for kids. This past summer, the Playhouse presented “Saturday Night Fever — The Musical,” “Xanadu” and tribute act Forever Simon and Garfunkel. The comedic production “Kim’s Convenience,” based on the acclaimed Canadian TV sitcom, runs through Oct. 9. Executive Producing Director Ellen Richard explains that the venue was founded by “local community members who had a dream that has been sustained by theater lovers in Orange County. (Millions) of artists, volunteers and audience members are responsible for us being here today. I hope they recognize the part they have played in these past 10 decades.” When it comes to regular patrons, Richard says “I believe they consider the playhouse to be their hometown theater. There is a strong sense of pride and ownership of this legacy institution.”

606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach; 949-497-2787; lagunaplayhouse.com

600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa; 714-556-2787; scfta.org

— George A. Paul

3. South Coast Repertory

655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa; 714-708-5555; scr.org

Back in the early 1960s, South Coast Repertory staged its first production at the Newport Beach Ebell Club. Several venues later, the company is now based on the Segerstrom Center campus. Over the summer, SCR’s theatrical slate included “Million Dollar Quartet” and “Matilda — The Musical.” Artistic Director David Ivers says SCR is “fortunate to have the resources to mount productions on a national scale,” which allows it to “tell complex and compelling stories that engage even as they entertain.” The 2022-23 season features “Nina Simone: Four Women,” “Snow White,” “A Christmas Carol”; “Prelude to a Kiss — The Musical” and “Coleman ’72” (Pacific Playwrights Festival); “The Little Foxes” and “Appropriate” will run in repertory on the same stage with overlapping casts. Ivers says SCR’s “diverse representation of voices, theme, style, and culture are at the center of our programming. It all intersects with a passionate commitment to new voices, new writers, new plays and how they speak to extant work.”


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1. Regal Irvine Spectrum Screen X, 4DX, IMAX & RPX 500 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine; 844-462-7342; regmovies.com One of Regal’s highest performing locations in America, the Regal Irvine Spectrum was also the first location to land a Screen X in 2018. Crown Club members can earn various perks (snacks, movie tickets) based on attendance. The Regal Unlimited movie subscription pass offers better benefits. Regal auditoriums can be rented for birthday and watch parties, private screenings, business meetings and events or group sales. Richard Grover, VP of communications for Regal, says “along with a great central location and partner in the Irvine Spectrum Center, the theater showcases the latest innovations to the theatrical experience. In the last couple of years, Regal has invested in a multi-milliondollar refurbishment of the theater from the digital lobby experience to state-of-theart auditoriums including five premium moviegoing experiences, with all five only available at Regal Irvine Spectrum. “The fully remodeled


Regal Irvine Spectrum ScreenX, 4DX, IMAX, RPX & VIP at the Irvine Spectrum Center was voted the top movie theater by Register readers. theater features an entrance and lobby featuring LED and digital signage along with a full bar, Lavazza coffee shop and B-Fresh smoothie shop,” said Grover. “All auditoriums are equipped with laser projection and

screens, expanded aspect ratio and improved audio. RPX boasts uncompressed surround sound. Screen X extends the screen to the auditorium walls with a 270-degree panoramic visual.

— George A. Paul

2. Krikorian Metroplex

3. Frida Cinema

8290 La Palma Ave., Buena Park; 714-826-7469; kptmovies.com

305 E. 4th St., No. 100, Santa Ana; 714-285-9422; thefridacinema.org

The Krikorian cinema chain began in 1984, focusing on underserved movie markets in Southern California before being sold to Regal in 1996 and then re-launching in the early 2000s. The state-of-the-art 18 screen Metroplex opened at Buena Park Mall (now called Buena Park Downtown) in 2003. It was the company’s first “metroplex” concept location, with a lobby inspired by classic movie palaces. The crystal chandeliers, commissioned artwork, custom designed sound system, spotlights on the roof and courtyard fountains provide the outer and indoor facilities with a classy vibe. Check out the latest blockbuster, sequel and more at Metroplex, which has Dolby Atmos sound, digital projection, luxury electric recliners, stadium seating, plus game and party rooms available.


sound enhancements along with multiple premium experiences available” such as king-size recliners and an enhanced menu. 4DX is an immersive sensory cinematic experience. IMAX comprises large, curved

Orange County’s only 501(c) (3) nonprofit art house theater opened in 2014 and is known for its eclectic schedule. Last summer, rock music laser shows took place on Saturday nights. There are regular monthly film series, indie theater fundraisers, lobby art shows, classic film/director/actor tribute series (David Lynch, Ray Liotta), all-night marathons (the “Twilight” saga), cult classics and more. “Our mission and work extend beyond simply sharing diverse and engaging films to our community,” Executive Director Logan Crow says. “Core to our

efforts is complementing and supporting community arts and education efforts by means of consistent collaborations with local arts institutions, schools, artists, community leaders, and organizations and groups dedicated to social equality and justice.” The Frida Cinema has “served as a home for live theater, poetry readings, drag shows, civic engagement, concerts, educational classes and panels, pet adoptions, and a COVID-19 vaccination clinic, furthering our vision for The Frida to serve as a community cultural center, and not merely a movie theater.”


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Bowers Museum was chosen the best museum in Best of Orange County voting.

1. Bowers Museum

2. Lyon Air Museum

2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana; 714-567-3600; bowers.org

19300 Ike Jones Road, Santa Ana; 714-210-4585; lyonairmuseum.org

The oldest and largest museum in Orange County, Bowers Museum opened in 1936 and has several permanent collections housed in various galleries. Bowers offers family programs, workshops, distinguished lecture series, senior art classes and more. There is a restaurant and store on-site too. Kelly Bishop, vice president of external affairs, says the museum’s “deep sense of community” and past connections tend to prompt return visits. “Community building is at the forefront of all we do to create a welcoming and accessible environment.” Bowers often partners with top institutions around the world for exhibitions and programs, resulting in a quality reputation that “allows us to level-up beyond the typical scope of a midsized nonprofit museum.” “Inside the Walt Disney Archives: 50 Years of Preserving the Magic,” “Dead Sea Scrolls,” “Egyptian Treasures from the British Museum” and “Terra Cotta Warriors” are some of the more than 50 featured exhibitions in the last 15 years. Later this fall, the museum presents “Guo Pei: The Art of Couture,” with 40 works of couture art personally selected by the world-renowned Chinese fashion designer known for her celebrity dresses (she did Rihanna’s yellow 2015 Met Gala gown) and bridal wear. Bishop says the exhibition is a “creative journey” that references Pei’s “cultural influences from international arts, architecture, and mythology. The interplay of female empowerment, strength and vulnerability are all reflected in exquisitely rendered couture.”

— George A. Paul

England’s American Air Museum was an inspiration for the Lyon Air Museum. Maj. Gen. William Lyon, a decorated veteran, was involved with the facility abroad, saw the impact it had on local schools and wanted to replicate that locally. Mark Foster, Lyon president, says the namesake pilot was passionate about aviation, got the hangar built and funded everything. “He already had some WWIItype airplanes” and acquired more to put on display here upon opening in 2009. “He wanted the stories of the greatest generation to be carried forward.” Open cockpit events, where visitors can get a closer look at historic airplanes, take place throughout the year. The Lyon also participates in the Pacific Airshow (Sept. 30-Oct. 2) by providing an aircraft flown in the event and serving as a base for civilian performers. Museum visitors on those dates can meet the Pacific pilots and view the planes in an intimate setting.


3. Pretend City Children’s Museum

29 Hubble, Irvine; 949-428-3900; pretendcity.org

Through interactive exhibits and activities, young children can experience reading, science, and math basics in a hands-on environment at Pretend City. “We are different from other kids’ museums because we focus on developing the brains, bodies, and hearts of young children during their most formative years — ages 0-5,” says Executive Director Ellen Pais. “We do it through playful learning, led by children with participation of adults in their lives.” Learning spaces are regularly adapted with new ideas to reflect the diversity and uniqueness of Orange County. A Mind and Body Studio focuses on wellness using yoga mats and singing bowls. The museum, which opened 13 years ago, has cultural activities, film nights, a monthly Baby Steps program, developmental screenings and can be rented for birthday parties and special events. An expansive new location focusing on the outdoors is being planned for Irvine’s Great Park. As a nonprofit educational organization, Pretend City welcomes donations. SEPTEMBER 2022 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY

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Sinead O’Connor performs at The Coach House in February 2020.

1. The Coach House 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano; 949-496-8930; thecoachhouse.com A perennial winner in this category, The Coach House opened in 1980 and gained a reputation for booking a wide range of music genres as well as comedy (though classic rockers, blues musicians and tribute acts are its bread and butter). OC bands have recorded live albums and videos here. The old school South County venue, located off the 5 Freeway, has a 500-person capacity, with 300 seats reserved for dinner guests. A few VIP rooms overlook the stage. Savvy regulars know to purchase tickets early for a coveted long wooden table spot right in front of the stage. Yet there are also decent vantage points at smaller tables and leather booths along the side walls. The wooden chairs are placed close together, so you’re practically required to break bread with a fellow music lover over a plate of steak, chicken, nachos, or pie. Through the years, everyone from Los Lobos, Todd Rundgren, Huey Lewis and the News, Michael Bublé and Asia to The Bangles, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Replacements and Crowded House have graced the stage. Even Kiss, The Eagles, Heart, and Duran Duran members made Capistrano a tour stop at some point. Jake Shimabukuro, Crash Test Dummies, ABC and All-4-One appeared more recently. Although artists tend to charge an additional fee for a fan photo/autograph nowadays, the venue used to be an easy place to secure a quick personal encounter.

— George A. Paul



2. Soka Performing Arts Center

3. FivePoint Amphitheatre

With an overall design based on a Tuscan hillside village aesthetic, Soka Performing Arts Center (making its Best of Orange County debut) opened in 2011. The three level, 1,000-capacity venue has a sound system designed by acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, who also oversaw Walt Disney Concert Hall. General Manager Renee Bodie says her staff’s mission is to “engage, educate, and elevate the human spirit” and that they are dedicated to “programming world class musicians.” Soka PAC is “an exquisite listening experience and a jewel of the OC. Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Bela Fleck and Jimmy Webb have all appeared at Soka PAC. This past spring, Danny Elfman watched the Pacific Symphony perform the North American premiere of his Percussion Concerto here. Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite, Judy Collins, Booker T. Jones, Karla Bonoff and David Lindley are on the upcoming schedule. Soka Performing Arts Center also does music education outreach with local elementary schools.

FivePoint has been a “temporary” venue since 2017, but it boasts a few benefits that permanent places lack. Public transit is nearby and there’s a relatively short walk from the parking lots to the entrance. Tiffany Silman, general manager/ concerts at Live Nation, says what concertgoers come upon next is rare: “A huge, open lawn where you’ll see food trucks and people playing cornhole. You can sit at a picnic table or buy a blanket from our general store and spread out on the grass with your friends and family.” Music fans had better sound than usual during a summer season including Thomas Rhett, Train, Third Eye Blind, Brad Paisley, Incubus and Sammy Hagar. That’s because noise-attenuating acoustic blankets were installed around grandstands. “In an effort to be good neighbors, we want to do everything we can to be sure we keep the sound inside the venue and not impact those in the surrounding communities,” Silman said.

1 University Dr., Aliso Viejo; 949480-4278; performingarts.soka.edu

14800 Chinon, Irvine; livenation.com


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1. Dana Point Turkey Trot Dana Point; 949-496-1555 ext. 101, turkeytrot.com With the motto “Run the race before you stuff your face,” what’s not to love about this Thanksgiving Day tradition? Turkey and pilgrim costumes are always on display, because dressing up and participating in the costume contest is just part of the fun at the Dana Point Turkey Trot. After being held as a “virtual” event in 2020, the race returned in 2021 for its 44th running with 9,000 runners. As scenic as any race in Orange County, the course meanders along the shores of the city’s famed harbor area and Doheny State Beach. The flat, scenic race features 10and 5- kilometer runs and a kids’ Gobble Wobble. Presented by the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce and a perennial winner of local Golden Lantern awards, the small-town secret has gotten out to Greater OC. The race began as a fundraiser with 300 people participating and pizza and beer at the finish.


Runners Alise and Tyler Bowman and their son Brixton join about 8,500 people as they run the 44th annual Dana Point Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day 2021. Each year, the race benefits local charities. In 2021, about $22,000 was raised for the Boys and Girls Club of Capistrano Valley and the

2. Reaching for the Cure Half Marathon Irvine Valley College, 5500 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine; 909-399-3553; cure.pcrf-kids.org Many races support good causes, none better than the Reaching for the Cure Half Marathon, which benefits the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation of Irvine in its ongoing battle against the ravages of childhood cancer. In 2022 the race returned from the pandemic interruption with a field of between 2,500 and 3,000 runners and raised $430,000 for the center. In addition to the Half-Marathon, 10- and 5-kilometer distances are offered. While charity connections in other races may not be prominent, at the PCRF event,


participants and groups bring tents and other gear and “adopt” a child who is either suffering from cancer or recovering. This year, Spectrum Sports Events presented the race for the first time, after Renegade Racing became a pandemic victim. Event Manager Curtis Casper immediately noticed the difference and was choked up when a running family stopped at the finish-line to acknowledge a banner honoring their cancer-stricken child. “There’s a tangible feel,” Casper said. “It’s a whole different vibe and feel.”

Music Preserves Foundation. This year’s race supports the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group, supporting wounded and

fallen soldiers’ families, and South County Outreach, which fights homelessness.

— Greg Mellen

3. SDCCU/OC Marathon

Newport Beach/Costa Mesa, 949-222-0456; ocmarathon.com The county’s eponymous running event is back to full strength. The scenically stunning race that typically features a field of more than 2,000 is a Boston Marathon qualifier. The circuit wends its way along PCH, through Corona del Mar, the Newport Back Bay and Costa Mesa, before ending up at the OC Fairgrounds. Staged on mostly undulating and flat terrain, the course has its version of a Heartbreak Hill at Mile 14. That’s where runners face a

climb along Red Hill Road and over the 405 Freeway that can be seen coming from more than a halfmile away. Race director Gary Kutscher calls the race circuit “one of the most beautiful courses in one of the most idyllic locations in the world.” The marathon had been the signature event in the OC Lifestyle and Fitness Expo. At the course terminus, the OC Fair & Event Center hosts a party with more than 20,000 spectators, live music, vendors and exhibitors.


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1. Pechanga Resort Casino 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula; 877-711-2946; pechanga.com This Temecula resort has two hotel towers with 1,100 rooms, an RV campground and a gaming floor measuring close to 200,000 square feet, making it one of the largest in California. The gaming floor has more than 5,000 slot machines and over 150 table games. The casino’s hotel rooms come in various sizes, measuring from 400 to over 800 square feet. Each room offers flat screen LCD televisions, floor to ceiling windows, an alarm clock radio with MP3 connectivity, a safe and 24-hour room service. Pechanga also has two entertainment venues. The outdoor Pechanga Summit can accommodate up to 3,000 guests, and the indoor Pechanga Theater can seat 1,200. Pechanga offers a resort experience with amenities such as a spa and a 4.5-acre pool complex called The Cove. This area has four pools, two whirlpools, two twisty waterslides, a family pool, 27 cabanas, a walk-up restaurant, and a swim-up bar. Some of Pechanga’s eateries include the fine-dining restaurant,


Patrons check-in with a receptionist at 1882 Cantina Mexican restaurant at Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula. The Great Oak Steakhouse and other spots such as Italian restaurant Paisano’s and Asian seafood spot Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar. Andrew Masiel Sr., president of the Pechanga Development Corp., said he

and everyone at Pechanga were honored and thankful for Orange Country residents who once again voted for Pechanga as the top casino in Southern California. “At Pechanga, we work hard to consistently provide

2. Harrah’s Resort Southern California

777 Harrah’s Rincon Way, Valley Center; 760-751-3100; harrahssocal.com Harrah’s in Valley Center has a 1,087-room hotel, more than 1,000 slots and 50 table games and an entertainment venue. Harrah’s has embraced the resort experience, offering its guests a variety of spa treatments and swimming options, including a lazy river, a pool exclusively for guests 21 and over and a swim-up bar. The area for the swim-up bar houses hot tubs, a waterfall hot tub, eight cabanas, seven loungers and a fire pit. Restaurants at Harrah’s include the fine dining spot Fiore and full-service restaurants such as ’ritas Cantina, The Café and Gordan Ramsay’s new Hell’s Kitchen restaurant, which opened this past


summer. Jill Barrett, senior vice president/ general manager of Harrah’s Resort Southern California, said that the resort’s Caesars Rewards program has been a favorite of guests who can use their rewards at other Caesars locations across the country. Barrett also said their unique promotional campaigns also stand out from those of other casinos. The casino resort “elects” celebrity mayors such as Rob Riggle, David Hasselhoff and, most recently, Jane Lynch to carry out the casino’s promotional campaigns. “We feel that we create an experience that is unique and memorable to guests who visit,” Barret said.

the best customer service possible,” Masiel said. “We’re always asking ourselves, ‘how do we make the experience better?’ The guest experience has always been a top priority for us.”

— Charlie Vargas

3. Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa

49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 951-849-3080, morongocasinoresort.com

The Cabazon property has a 272-room hotelw with nearly 4,000 slots, over 80 table games and an entertainment venue. The property has also moved in the direction of offering a resort experience to its guests. The property includes a spa, a lazy river and a pool with a makeshift sandy shoreline surrounded by cabanas. Dining at Morongo includes various fast food options, fine dining restaurants such as Cielo and full-service restaurants such as Mozen Asian Kitchen and Good Times Café. The most recent dining addition at the property was “Top Chef” contestant Fabio Viviani’s The Marketplace. The food hall concept replaced the property’s buffet.


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1. ExperTec Automotive Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach; 949-645-7722, 714-848-9222; expertecautomotive.com ExperTec Automotive has won the hearts of Orange County residents for six consecutive years. This family-owned business began serving the communities of Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa back in 1993. Today, both locations are run by president Roy Daneshavke, vice president Gary Frahm and general manager Gary McMann, as well as several qualified service advisers, assistants, and technicians. Like other repair shops in the area, ExperTec provides a variety of general repair services ranging from anything under the hood to tires and headlights. However, this repair shop also caters to fleet vehicles, classic cars and hot rods, and even hybrids. In addition to providing exemplary service to its customers, ExperTec also maintains close ties with the community. “The more we serve our community … the stronger we get!” – a striking statement boldly announced on the company’s website that is nothing short of the


ExperTec Automotive technician Juan Martinez etches a catalytic converter with the car’s license plate number in Huntington Beach in November 2021. truth. ExperTec has been committed to assisting in the development of the surrounding community by participating in various charity and fundraising events. In 2022, the company lent a helping hand to the Boy Scouts of America, the

2. Britton’s Automotive

17242 Gothard Street, Suite C, Huntington Beach; 714-841-5701; brittonsautomotive.com What began as a fascination with autopmobiles for the Britton brothers at a young age has transformed into a wildly successful repair shop nearly four decades later. This family-owned auto repair shop is more than just a business — it’s a brotherhood between Cameron and Bruce Britton who have developed their hobby into a thriving facility in Huntington Beach. Their sole location offers an array of services including engine repairs, brakes and suspension, air conditioning and transmission repairs as well as electrical work. 28

If you’re in need of a car inspection or a towing service, no worries — Britton Automotive has got you covered. With all work handled by ASE certified mechanics, customers are immediately educated on the vehicle’s needs and provided solutions to best care for the car’s needs the moment they enter Britton’s Automotive. From the start to finish, Britton’s aims to perform necessary maintenance and even provide information to prevent additional issues from occurring in the future.

Newport and Costa Mesa Police Departments, and Surf City USA, among others! No matter the make and model, ExperTec prioritizes the customer’s needs and budget. “They are always courteous, professional, and greet you with a smile,” said

a Yelp review by customer Shelley B. of Irvine, who has been bringing her car to ExperTec for three years. “They are honest and have never tried to sell me on repairs or products I don’t need.”

— Kenya Barrett

3. Mission Viejo Transmission

27210 La Paz, Suite J, Mission Viejo; 949-583-1828; mvtransmission.com/girls-garage.asp Mission Viejo Transmission is not your ordinary repair shop. It has become popular due to its well-received “Girls in the Garage” community event. Owner Kevin Hurley was initially approached with the idea by Cheryl Carrera, a local real estate agent. Carrera was interested in the auto shop’s repair team giving eight of her clients an educational demonstration of how to perform simple vehicular tasks including fluid level and tire pressure checks.

“From there, the idea took flight,” states Hurley on the company site. “But we had never hosted an event like this before — so we were skeptical about how successful it was really going to be.” The event has since become a hit within the community and has managed to draw in crowds of more than 8,500 women since its debut. Guests can look forward to the opportunity on the first Wednesday of every quarter.


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1. Fletcher Jones Motorcars Location: 3300 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach; 949-397-2112; fjmercedes.com Fletcher Jones Motorcars has set the standard in Newport Beach as one of the county’s top luxury dealerships for several decades. With humble beginnings tracing back to 1946, this family-owned dealership started at the hands of Fletcher Jones in Los Angeles. After years of hard work and investments, Fletcher Jones was able to pass his business down to his son, Fletcher “Ted” Jones Jr., who built a legacy around the buying and selling of Mazda vehicles in the city of Whitter. In 1991, Ted purchased a luxury dealership that was facing bankruptcy in the city of Newport Beach and transformed the property into one of the top Mercedes-Benz dealerships in the nation. Today, the business maintains its prestigious reputation by providing the residents of Orange County with the largest selection of luxury automobiles. When customers buy or lease from Fletcher Jones

Fletcher Jones Motorcars is on Jamboree Road in Newport Beach. Motorcars, they become eligible for “exclusive amenities” such as a complimentary car wash or a free shuttle to John Wayne Airport. Customers can also prepay for scheduled

2. AutoNation Toyota Irvine 9101 Research Drive, Irvine; 844-990-3597; autonationtoyotairvine.com AutoNation Toyota Irvine is one of largest Toyota dealerships in all of Southern California and has served residents of Irvine, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Santa Ana, and Costa Mesa for several years. Customers can choose between a wide selection of new and certified pre-owned vehicles that range from Toyotas to Nissans, Hyundais and much more. In addition to being a dealership, AutoNation Toyota Irvine also serves as a one-stop shop for any and all vehicle repairs, maintenance needs, and

car part sales. Frequent visitors of this location often praise the dealerships team’s efficient commitment to providing great customer service and attention to detail. AutoNation Toyota Irvine continues to set itself apart from their competitors by remaining involved in the fight against breast cancer. Since the debut of the dealership’s Drive Pink mission, AutoNation Toyota Irvine has donated more than $15 million to the advancement of cancer research and treatment for those battling the disease.

maintenance, which the dealership says can save 30% off maintenance costs. In addition to this dealership displaying the highest form of class and quality to its clientele,


Fletcher Jones Motorcars has been the recipient of the Best of the Best Dealer Recognition Award from Mercedes-Benz as well as the Magna Society Award from Audi in 2021.

—Kenya Barrett

3. Land Rover of Newport Beach

1540 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach; 949-274-4344; landrovernewportbeach.com If you’re looking to purchase a Land Rover or Range Rover, then consider shopping at Land Rover of Newport Beach. Named the “#1 Range Rover Dealer In the United States,” the Newport Beach location has served the residents of Irvine, Costa Mesa, Corona del Mar, Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach for many years. Now under new ownership, this dealership recently completed renovations to the showroom and service department — an additional measure aimed to provide quality assistance

to clientele. A franchise known for its luxury fleet of SUVs, the Land Rover of Newport offers potential drivers an opportunity to choose from an array of exclusive preowned and new vehicles. While the dealership specializes in the sale of Land Rover automobiles, customers can also browse for other makes and models including Honda, Chevrolet and Acura. Customers have continuously praised the dealership’s impeccable service and ability to conduct business in a timely fashion.


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1. UC Irvine Irvine; 949-824-5011; uci.edu Orange County’s only University of California system campus, UC Irvine enrolls more than 37,000 students and had more than 133,000 applicants for the fall 2021 term. Applications to UCI have increased by approximately 60% over the last seven years, and the school remains the top choice for in-state, firstgeneration college students. Additionally, the campus has been federally designated as a Hispanic-serving institution, as well as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution. UCI is expanding its presence with the building of a 144-bed hospital on its North Campus at Jamboree Road and Birch Street, an addition that will be home to an emergency department and clinical programs including oncology, neurology, orthopedics and digestive health. The January 2021 announcement comes alongside plans already in motion for the UCI Health Center for Advanced Care


Students return to campus after a few weeks of online learning due to a COVID-19 surge at UCI in Irvine on January 31. at that location. The new UCI Medical Center IrvineNewport campus will also house the Center for Children’s Health, research and clinical trials, urgent care and specialty disciplines. Across campus, the

2. Chapman University

One University Drive, Orange; 714-997-6815; chapman.edu Located in historic Old Towne Orange, Chapman University is home to 10,000 students as well as some of the country’s top programs, including the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts and the Fowler School of Law. This last application cycle yielded more than 14,000 applicants, the second highest in the school’s history, with approximately 19% of admitted students being first-generation college attendees and 40% identifying as persons of color. Additionally, Chapman has admitted 30

students from all 50 states with over 100 countries represented and more than 750 students with dual citizenship. In its third year, the university’s Fowler School of Engineering continues to see growth annually, with the application rate up 9 percent this year alone. Last fall, the Keck Center’s Swanson Family Hall of Engineering opened, a 31,000-square foot build-out that houses cutting edge technology learning spaces such as a Signals and Cyber Lab and a Circuits and Structures Lab.

University of California, Irvine Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences (on the corner of Bison and California avenues) will feature new buildings for the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute and the

Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing. This area will be complemented with the addition of a 150-seat auditorium, a Zen Garden and a wellness walk.

— Jenelyn Russo

3. Orange Coast College

2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa; 714-432-5772; orangecoastcollege.edu The only community college on the list, Orange Coast College sees about 22,000 students enroll each semester in more than 135 academic and career programs, including a highly acclaimed public nautical program. OCC holds the top spot in Orange County for the number of students it transfers to the University of California and California State University systems and was the first community college in Southern California to offer student housing. With funding provided by Measure M, OCC has

been active in upgrading or replacing many of the campus’ aging buildings. At the start of the 2021 fall semester, a new 107,000-square foot Language Arts and Social Sciences Building opened, housing indoor labs for psychology, economics, English, world languages and communications. Additionally, students now have a new place to meet, study and socialize on campus in OCC’s new 41,000-square foot student union, which is home to Associated Students, as well as scholarship and outreach programs.


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1. CNI College


3. American Career College 1200 N. Magnolia Ave., Anaheim; 714-763-9066; americancareercollege.edu

1610 E Saint Andrew Place, Suite 200, Santa Ana; 714-437-9697, 888-220-3701; cnicollege.edu Celebrating 28 years in Orange County, CNI College offers accredited postsecondary vocational training in nursing and the health sciences fields, including programs in Vocational Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the RN-toBSN Completion Program. After a number of years in the city of Orange, CNI moved to its single location in Santa Ana in 2019. Designed to look like a hospital, the 52,000 square-foot campus features high-tech classrooms and laboratories, an operating room lab and high-fidelity simulation labs, including high-fidelity mannequins that can simulate childbirth. Additionally, the site provides traditional campus spaces, such as a student union, library and other student support services. “The simulation labs provide a safe learning environment where students have hands-on training to

Stanbridge University’s Orange County campus, located in Irvine, is home to more than 1,000 students, with over half enrolled in one of their five nursing programs. Learning paths include Associate of Occupational Science in Vocational Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, including RN-SN Degree Completion, and Master of Science in Nursing Education or Leadership. The school boasts 98% NCLEX-RN and 96% NCLEX-PN licensure pass rate averages over the last five years. “Stanbridge University Orange County campus’s pre-licensure nursing programs offer students a unique emphasis on thorough admissions review, academic rigor and innovative hands-on learning to support preparation for modern nursing careers,” says Victoria Sauer, Stanbridge University’s director of marketing. Students have access to state-of-the-art tools, such as a the first SynDaver Synthetic Cadaver Lab on the West Coast, an Anatomage Table anatomy visualization system that provides fullscale human virtual dissection and an Advanced Laerdal Haptic IV Trainer for repeat practice of intravenous techniques.

practice and apply fundamental and advanced skills before they go into the clinical settings,” says Director of Digital Marketing & Community Relations, Shannon O’Hara. Supplemental resources are available to CNI’s approximately 950 students through their Library Information Resources Network (LIRN) online database and St. Joseph Hospital’s Burlew Medical Library. The school’s “excellence in education” extends to serving the local community through a number of annual volunteer efforts. “Our school believes in giving back to the community with its time, talents and energy,” says O’Hara, as CNI students consistently support local organizations such as CHOC Children’s Hospital, Orangewood Children’s Home and the Ronald McDonald House.

— Jenelyn Russo

With locations in Los Angeles, Ontario and Anaheim, American Career College has more than 40 years of experience providing handson health care training to more than 50,000 graduates. ACC’s Anaheim campus provides education tracks for 12 health care programs, including an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), Medical Assistant, Surgical Technology and Vocational Nursing. The school places a focus not only on educating the next generation of health care professionals, but also on the “soft skills” that accompany the nursing profession. ACC Co-President and COO, Timothy Lee, says both the art and science of nursing are infused into the school’s curriculum and culture, which allows for a “student-centric” approach to all operations. “We have a service-based curriculum and mentality,” says Lee. “We encourage empathy and giving back.” As a result, Lee says that ACC’s programs produce great practitioners, as well as great people. “Every student at ACC leaves a little bit better than they came.”


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2022 Named Best Nursin ng School Thank you to our students, faculty, and the Orange County community who votted in the OC Register’s 2022 Readers Choice e Awards! For over 40 years, American Career College has proviided hands-on training f the nex generation of healthcare workers. • Den Assisting • edi sistant • Medical Billi and Coding • Occupation l herapy Assistant • Pharmacy Techn ian

• Physical Therapist Assistant phy • Radiograp • Respiratory Therapy al Nursing • Vocationa • Surgical Technology

Most of our programs offer a blended schedule that combines online and in-person classes. Get the flexibility you u need to complete your career training! Financial aid and scholarships available for those who qualify.

AMERICAN CAREER COLLEGE-Orange County 1200 North Magnolia Ave., Anaheim, CA 92801 To learn more, go to AmericanCareerCollege.edu or call 877-880-7014 ACC provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. Programs vary in length and by campus. Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, the College has moved some of the on-ground courses into a distance education modality. However, as soon as the COVID-19 circumstances change, students will be expected to return on campus to complete their program onsite in the regular learning modality as approved by ABHES and outlined in the college catalog.





10870 Katella Ave., Garden Grove; 657-284-1400; uei.edu UEI College offers a number of accredited vocational programs in health care, business and the trades, including technician training by experts in the fields of automotive, HVAC, electrical and welding. With campuses across the state, UEI has been in Orange County since 1993 (Anaheim), moving to its current Garden Grove location in 2020 that serves approximately 500 students. “We’re very student-centric, and we have all of our support services right on campus.” says UEI Director of Communications Joe Cockrell. “We care about the students’ learning experience.” An alternative to a traditional four-year school, UEI saw an uptick in enrollment after extensive layoffs due to the pandemic, Cockrell says. In response, the campus offers evening classes, as well as a hybrid model that allows for students to complete bookwork at home and attend hands-on lab classes on campus. Additionally, UEI offers a program that allows students to earn their high school diploma while concurrently completing vocational training. JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

South Coast College was the top trade school in Best of Orange County voting.

3. Summit College

1. South Coast College

1639 E. Edinger Ave., Santa Ana; 888-504-2552; summitcollege.edu

2011 W. Chapman Avenue, Orange; 714-867-5009; southcoastcollege.edu

With three campuses across Southern California, Summit College’s Orange County campus in Santa Ana focuses specifically on providing several paths for adult learners in trade and technical careers. Accredited training areas include HVAC, welding, electrical and plumbing, all of which provide Summit College students exposure to growth industries that are in high demand for skilled workers. The learning tracks at Summit College offer options to complete hands-on training in a little as nine months through a variety of day and evening classes. Hybrid instruction delivery is available as well, with lectures online and lab classes in person. The school employs instructors well versed in their fields of expertise, updated classrooms and equipment, as well as free tutoring and academic support, “to ensure our students meet the needs of their respective job markets.” Following program completion, Summit College’s Career Services department assists students with résumé building and interview training for successful job placement.

South Coast College has been serving Southern California students with career training since 1961. The school offers instruction in a variety of post-secondary education paths that include a Court Reporter Certificate Program, a Paralegal AA Degree Program and a Medical Assistant Certificate Program. Best known for its 60-year history in training court reporters, the school provides hands-on accredited instruction taught by industry leaders, including many alumni, providing students the skills needed to become a Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR), an industry of projected growth over the next decade. Christine Mantyla, South Coast College’s community outreach & marketing development coordinator, says that what sets the school apart from its competitors is a strong 34

alumni success record and presence on campus. “Many of our alumni go on to start their own businesses,” says Mantyla. “And they return to campus to give back as mentors.” Mantyla referenced a South Coast College alumna who serves as a court reporter on the show “Judy Justice” (IMDb TV), a reality court streaming series that won a 2022 Daytime Emmy Award for outstanding legal/courtroom program. The student body of 200-400 is comprised mostly of those looking to start a second career, but no matter their background or goals, South Coast College students experience a sense of community and support. “We have this atmosphere of family,” says Mantyla. “No one is left behind.”

— Jenelyn Russo


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Thank You



1-800-NoCuffs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131 A New View Windows & Doors . . . . . . . . .130 Alzheimer’s Orange County . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Amazing Hearing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 American Career College . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Anaheim Dentist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Boo Bowl. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Builders Surplus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108 California Bank & Trust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 City of Irvine Public Information . . . . . . . . 117 Dana Point Turkey Trot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77 Dr. Stephen Fink . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Easton & Easton LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Edinger Medical . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 EP Wealth Advisors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Epic Wings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 Facial Aesthetic Concepts . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Feig Law Firm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61 Fratellino’s Italian Restaurant . . . . . . . . . . 99 Freedom Village . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .129 Goodwill of Orange County . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Handel’s Home Made Ice Cream . . . . . . . 99 Happy Jewelers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77 HerbsnLeaf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Hi-Time Wine Cellars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 In-N-Out Burger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99



Irvine Company Apartment Communities 113 Jeweler’s Touch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Keno’s Restaurant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 KM Productions / Chefmasters . . . . . . . . . 63 Low Vision Care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Memorial Care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Mortgage League of America . . . . . . . . . . 43 ONX Wines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Pechanga Resort Casino . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. . . 25 Planet 13 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Reata Glen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .132 Regency Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .130 Russian School of Mathematics . . . . . . . . 37 San Juan Hills Golf Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Santa Ana College . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31 SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union . . . . . . .41 Simon Law Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Soka Performing Art Center . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Table 4 Ten . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 The Jewelry Exchange . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77 United Way of Orange County . . . . . 47 & 111 Visiting Huntington Beach . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Walnut Senior Village . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Wescom Credit Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43





Multiple locations; 888-524-0541; tutortime.com More than just day care, Tutor Time Child Care and Learning Centers throughout Orange County and the state provide families with young children a “one-of-a-kind school experience” with researched-base curriculum and early education programs. The foundation of Tutor Time’s LifeSmart curriculum is based on Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory — an approach that taps into how each child’s individuality is used to problem solve, build self-esteem and develop their imagination. Programs are offered beginning at infant age, including morning and afternoon programs for school-aged children. Homework Club provides support to students with their school assignments in a structured setting. Community Club allows students to participate in goal setting, team building skills and community projects through the My Best Self program. Additionally, extracurricular elective options introduce students to subjects such as Spanish, phonics, music and sports. And spring break and summer camp programs offer a variety of instruction in STEM subjects and the sciences. KEVIN SULLIVAN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Strive to Learn, in Costa Mesa, was named the top Tutoring Service as part of our 26th annual Best of OC awards.

1. Strive to Learn 1835 Newport Ave., A109-653 (mailing address), Costa Mesa; 949-873-6807; strivetolearn.com Strive to Learn founder Josefine Borrmann didn’t set out to establish a tutoring business — the career path instead found her. While providing private tutoring as she was working on her master’s degree in anthropology, she had an “aha’ moment and realized she was already doing what she enjoyed. “I decided I wanted to create a company that supports any student with any challenge, (train) employees to understand many types of learners, encourage students through their struggles and instill a growth mindset in every single student,” says Borrmann. Strive to Learn provides academic support for grades K-12, college academic tutoring and test preparation (SAT, ACT, etc.). Additionally, a college counseling team is available to assist high school 36

students through the entire college admissions process, including career exploration, college list building and an in-depth approach to essay writing. All sessions are one-on-one to allow for individualized attention, as well as custom tailored curriculum and teaching methods. Strive to Learn primarily meets with students online via Zoom, a format Borrmann and her team of mentors began using long before the pandemic. In-person sessions are available as well. More than just a tutoring company, Borrmann’s mission is to improve students’ quality of life by instilling courage and confidence. “At Strive to Learn, we are all mentors,” says Borrmann, “and we are in this for our students, in whichever way that they define success.”

— Jenelyn Russo

3. Kumon Math and Reading Center Multiple locations; 800-222-6284; kumon.com Based on a method that was conceived in 1954 by Japanese father Toru Kumon for his son Takeshi, Kumon Math and Reading Centers provide structured math and reading afterschool tutorials for students from pre-K through high school. The method uses short, incremental assignments, or worksheets, alongside individualized instruction that equip the students of various learning styles with critical thinking skills and the ability and confidence to learn new material independently, both in the classroom and at home. Kumon centers are located across Orange County, including the Tustin Market Place location run by Richard Teshiba. The franchise recently celebrated its eight-year anniversary serving the Tustin community. “The program builds discipline in completing daily work, allowing students to exceed their current grade level of study,” says Teshiba. “With dedication and practice, a student can achieve almost unlimited success. As with music and sports, math and reading skills benefit from daily practice.”


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Math Classes Now Enrolling

The Russian School of Mathematics is an award-winning, afterschool math enrichment program. We use the rigorous study of mathematics as a vehicle to develop our students’ math fluency, intellect, and character, empowering them for life. Hybrid and in-person classes may be available, please inquire with our office for more information.

RSM is “among the top 10 schools in the world.” -Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth NEW

RSM-South OC (949) 864-6592

RSM-Irvine (949) 551-1777

RSM Irvine-Woodbury (949) 593-0080






California Bank & Trust placed first in Best of Orange County voting for best bank.

2. Chase Bank

3. Wells Fargo

Multiple locations; calbanktrust.com

Multiple locations; chase.com

Register readers have once again chosen California Bank & Trust as their favorite bank, the ninth time the financial institution claims the top spot. “It’s an honor we take to heart,” said Jathan Segur, executive vice president, executive director of premier wealth management. “We thank our clients for sharing their perspective on what great banking looks like, and we’ll continue working to attract those who demand the very best.” The award-winning, San Diego-based CB&T has been in Orange County since 1952 and currently has 10 local branches in Brea, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Palma, Laguna Hills, Monarch Beach, Orange, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente and Tustin. The locations offer a full range of services for individuals, families, small-tomedium businesses and people who need wealth management services. Per its website, the bank has more than $12 billion in loans and $16 billion in deposits. And while California Bank & Trust is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. and has resources of a big bank, decisions are made by local bankers who have strong relationships in their communities. “CB&T puts a strong emphasis on relationship banking,” Segur said. “We pride ourselves on listening to our clients.” Building lasting relationships and strengthening communities are the top values listed on the bank’s website, right above thriving as a diverse team and acting as owners.

Chase is back as one of the readers’ favorites. A fullservice bank, Chase offers Orange County residents a wide range of services at its 95 OC branches. Those include personal and business financial solutions from credit cards, checking and saving accounts to mortgages, auto financing, small business loans, investment advice and more. On top of that, Chase gets involved in the areas it serves. Andy Carney, regional director, consumer and community banking in Los Angeles and Orange County, said Chase hires local community managers and is “focused on bringing financial literacy programs to local underserved communities.” The firm is also working toward closing the racial wealth gap among the Black and Latino communities through its $30 billion Racial Equity Commitment. So far, the bank has deployed or committed more than $18 billion. “We are very proud to be voted one of the best banks in Orange County,” Carney said. “It inspires us to double down.”

Wells Fargo’s history in Orange County dates back to 1968 when the first branch opened in Santa Ana. Today, customers can visit one of the county’s 90 branches. Like any other big bank, Wells Fargo offers a variety of products and services, but it’s the people that make this bank stand out, said Keith Kobata, regional banking director, Orange County. “We say, people don’t bank with banks, they bank with people,” he said. Following up on that, the corporation and its employees are involved with a number of nonprofit organizations supporting housing affordability, small business, financial health and a low-carbon economy. These days, Kobata is excited about the bank’s digital services and tools, which include a new consumer mobile platform, rolled out earlier this year, and giving customers banking control whenever and wherever they want. Soon, a new digital assistant, Fargo, will be coming to the mobile app to answer users’ questions and provide personalized insights.

1. California Bank & Trust

— Magda Liszewska



Multiple locations, wellsfargo.com


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Your Best Bank says, “Thank you, Orange County!” California Bank & Trust is proud to be your choice as Best Bank by readers of The Orange County Register for the 9th consecutive year. Thank you to our many thousands of clients who have enabled us to achieve this recognition year after year. It truly is our honor to provide each of you with the financial tools and resources — and the exceptional customer service experience — to live your best life, year after year. To learn more about our award-winning business- and consumer-banking services, stop by one of our branches, or visit us online.






1. SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Multiple locations; schoolsfirstfcu.org SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union is back in the top spot for serving the financial needs of school employees and their families. The fifth largest credit union in the United States, SchoolsFirst FCU has 70 branches in California, including 22 in Orange County, and 1.2 million members throughout the state. Aside from typical banking services such as credit cards, checking and savings accounts, auto loans, insurance, investment and retirement accounts and more, member-owned SchoolsFirst caters to the unique needs of educators. “We are truly focused on our school employee members and finding financial solutions that help them as they focus on building that future for our communities,” said Valerie Godsey, manager, member & teammember communications. Those services include interest-free classroom supply loans up to $1,000 and interest-free uniform


SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union was the top credit union in Best of Orange County voting. loans up to $500 as well as a special school employee mortgage and a special school employee credit card. Then there’s the summer saver, a specialized savings product, to put money aside and offset

2. Orange County’s Credit Union Multiple locations; orangecountyscu.org Orange County’s Credit Union continues being a favorite among Orange County residents. The not-for-profit financial institution was established in 1938 to serve local county government officials, but in the 1990s expanded to include all O.C. residents. It now has nine branches in Orange County and one in Long Beach, offering a wide range of services such as checking, savings and youth accounts, auto, home and personal loans, credit cards, investments and more. These days, anyone who 40

lives or works in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties can become a member. Earlier this year, the credit union reported a membership of 123,000 and more than $2.3 billion in assets. Orange County’s Credit Union does not operate on a sales-driven model, said Amber Cisneros, chief member experience officer. “Our associates take the time to listen to our members’ stories to get to the root of their financial needs,” she said.

the lack of pay in the summer and paycheck planner that spreads out the members’ pay to cover summer months. “We are appreciative of our members and their extraordinary commitment to

uplifting the communities we serve, and we thank them for recognizing us as one of the best credit unions in Orange County,” CEO Bill Cheney said.

— Magda Liszewska

3. Wescom Credit Union Multiple locations, wescom.org

Wescom Credit Union also is no stranger to the Best of Orange County ranking. The nonprofit, member-owned financial institution has been around since 1934 when it was founded by a telephone company employees. Now, it’s open to anyone in Southern California who is interested in a checking or savings account, credit cards, loans, insurance or investments. Wescom also has youth accounts for its youngest members looking to save for the future. Members can take advantage of benefits such as higher savings yields, lower

loan rates and reduced fees. As of last year, Wescom had more than 200,000 members and $5 billion in assets, which makes it one of the largest credit unions in the country. Aside from typical financial services, Wescom gets involved in the communities it serves through Wescom Foundation, a charity which supports community-based organizations. The foundation awards strategic grants to nonprofits addressing financial wellness, disaster response, disaster relief and critical human needs.


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Michelle M. Member since 2002


BEST CREDIT UNIONS IN ORANGE COUNTY! It’s our privilege to serve school employees and their families. Your dedication to making a difference by helping to build the future for others inspires us to do the same.

800.462.8328 | schoolsfirstfcu.org

Insured by NCUA.






Orange County Register readers voted Mortgage League of America as the top mortgage/reverse mortgage lender in Orange County as part of the 29th annual Best of Orange County readers’ choice awards.

1. Mortgage League of America

2. Sun West Mortgage Company

22121 Canyon Crest Drive, Mission Viejo; 949-632-4347; mortgageleagueofamerica.com

6131 Orangethorpe Ave., Suite 500 Buena Park; 800-453-7884; swmc.com

3. OC Mortgage Solutions, Inc.

Mortgage League of America is a full-service mortgage broker company with expertise in all areas of mortgage lending, including mortgage refinancing. James W. Gordon Jr. started it in 1987, eight years after he got into the mortgage business himself. Now, he and his staff work with Orange County residents to find loans with the best rates, costs and terms for their specific needs. Clients can then expect regular updates and progress reports throughout the process. Whether it’s senior citizens looking for reverse mortgages to improve their cash flow or improve their IRA, first-time homebuyers who are trying to figure out the process or seasoned borrowers/buyers who need an update on the latest regulations, Gordon says he educates his clients and never sees them as a number. He also meets personally with every single one, so they can have a chance to get to know him as more than a voice on the phone. Gordon is not one to brag (“Do Well, and Let Them Say” is his motto), but having owned medium-sized mortgage companies, he says he is familiar with most products out there. “I specialize in what the client actually needs now, show them how to attain the loan and most times, think outside the box,” he said. “I tell my kids, if someone has real estate, I can fund them.”

Sun West Mortgage Company was founded and HUD-approved in 1980 and has since made its name throughout the U.S. as one of the top lenders and top places to work. The company, headquartered in Buena Park, is licensed in 48 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and as of last year, operated more than 80 branches. According to its website, it is “one of the largest privately owned mortgage-backed originators and servicers” and can work with its clients on just about any type of loan, including fixed mortgages, VA loans, reverse mortgages, small business loans, renovation financing and more. While the process of selecting and securing a loan can be a complicated and confusing one, Sun West’s website has a comprehensive breakdown of the different types of loans, giving its clients a good starting point. The online glossary and frequently asked questions could also be helpful for the less experienced borrowers.

Real Estate Broker and Mortgage Broker Pam Nguyen founded OC Mortgage Solutions, Inc. almost a decade ago with the goal of helping her clients get homes of their dreams through affordable loans and a promise of honesty, integrity, quality service and individual attention. Now, she works with each customer’s unique needs to secure a loan that best suits them, whether they’re buying a house or refinancing. The company works with multiple lenders to secure competitive pricing and a variety of options. With so many loans available out there, OC Mortgage Solutions provides an online overview of the most popular ones, such as FHA home loans, VA loans, USDA loans, jumbo loans, and works with the clients on finding the best kind, rates and terms. The company’s online resource section also is a helpful place to start for those who are new to the process of securing the loan, with a tutorial on mortgage terms and calculators to help them determine their payments, tax benefits and how much house they can afford.

— Magda Liszewska


600 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa; 714-496-9619; ocmortgagesolutions.com


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We’re all in for Orange County!

Lending Since 1979! • Purchases & Refinance • Reverse Mortgages • Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) Call NOW! 949-273-4410

JAMES W GORDON Lending since 1979

Thanks for voting for the Credit Union that loves you back. Not a member? Pop into any of our seven Orange County branches to open a free* Checking Account and learn about our great rates and personal service. Or check us out at wescom.org wescom.org | 1-888-8WESCOM | 1-888-893-7266 /WescomCreditUnion

NMLS329512 • DRE00517589

Go with EXPERIENCE! Lender since 1979 Licensed Department of Real Estate since 1974 In GOD we (I) Trust


www.MortgageLeagueofAmerica.com ic

TABLE FOR TEN- ORANGE COUNTY MARCH 5, 2023 I 4:30PM VEA, Newpor1 Beach, California (Black-Tie Optional)

TITLE SPONSOR- MARY MURFEY WINE SPONSOR- MONA LEE NESSETH Table for Ten Orange Country Culinary Event features top chefs composing masterpiece signature dishes prepared table-side for 10 guests. At each table, chefs create unique awe-inspiring table designs, cuisine fit for royalty, exquisite wines perfectly paired for each course and a five star “white glove” service.

For more information, please visit www.tableforten.org SEPTEMBER 2022 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY




1. Lollipop Dental Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics Multiple locations; lollipopdental.com Many people don’t like to go to the dentist, but the doctors and staff at Lollipop Dental make the experience pleasant enough that readers continue voting for the practice. Dr. Mary Pham founded Lollipop Dental in 2012 to provide specialty pediatric dental care for children and orthodontic care for children and adults. The practice has locations in Costa Mesa, Garden Grove, Placentia and Cerritos and is growing to include Tustin, Lake Forest and Long Beach. Pham said she works at all of them, and she and her staff strive to provide an education and family-friendly dental experience for all kids, from infants who are just beginning their oral care to teenagers who need regular check-ups and/or braces. “What is really cool is that we are able to shape a child’s dental visit into a positive and enjoyable one if we see them at an early age,” she said. The doctors also work with parents, educating them


Lollipop Dental Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics was the top dental practice in Best of Orange County voting. and giving them tools to help their children be cavity free. The Lollipop Dental team has a vision to give everyone a reason to smile. They celebrate the children’s

2. Anaheim Dentist

8516 Katella Ave., Anaheim; 714-527-7775; adentist4me.com Anaheim Dentist opened its doors in 2010 with a novel idea of staying open until midnight seven days a week to accommodate their patients’ schedules and keep things affordable with or without insurance. The doctors and staff have a mission to “provide the best treatment at the lowest cost in the most pleasant way.” It seems to be paying off as the doctors now see about 40-60 patients a day. The specialists at Anaheim Dentist offer a range of dental services, including emergencies, 44

cleaning and prevention, cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, dentures and more. Manager Michael Nonahal said the Anaheim Dentist team is focused just as much on getting to know the patients and building relationships with them as they are on providing dental care. “Our goal wasn’t for recognition, but we actually enjoy what we do, and we appreciate the fact that anyone has taken the time to find our service worthy enough, and we’re thankful,” he said.

birthdays, have surprises for them and even hand out lollipops — the kind that are good for teeth, of course. “We exist to serve the patients and families in

our community and to be recognized by families and children to be the best is all that we could have ever dreamed of,” Pham said.

— Magda Liszewska

3. Hada Family Dental

26137 La Paz Road, Suite 100; Mission Viejo; 949-951-1067; mymissionviejodentist.com Hada Family Dental promises to always make patients a priority and treat them like respected family members. The team wants to get to know the patients’ life along with their dental needs and make them feel comfortable emotionally and physically during office visits. Patients of all ages are welcome at the South County practice where services range from cleaning and prevention through extractions, orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry, family dentistry, tooth replacement and more. The doctors also offer help with appliances

for sleep apnea and teeth grinding. Dr. Richard K. Hada’s passion for dentistry led him to specialize in cosmetic dentistry, dental implants and root canals aside from general and special needs dentistry. Patients who don’t necessarily have medical problems but are not happy with their smiles will find Hada Family Dental team ready to perform a subtle or complete smile makeover through teeth whitening, short-term orthodontics or porcelain veneers to significantly alter their appearance.


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CALL US: 714-527-7775


Se Habla Espanol

Why we are the best:  We are open 7 days (So you won’t miss money from work to see your dentist)  We are open late nights: 9 a.m. to 11:55 p.m. (midnight) (So you won't miss school to visit your dentist)  Our prices are low-cost and affordable  We love and care about our patients  We do great dentistry - experts in relieving dental pain & improving your smile (cosmetics)  We accept most insuranced: PPO insurances, Medi-Cal / Denti-Cal and Cash  We offer financing

Emergency Services Available (Call for Details)

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LA Fitness was the top fitness center/boot camp in Best of Orange County voting.

1. LA Fitness

2. 24 Hour Fitness

Multiple locations, lafitness.com LA Fitness is back in the Best of Orange County rankings, and this year the readers showed it even more love, naming it the top fitness center. LA Fitness’ slogan calls it “one place for all the ways you work out” and with everything that this major gym chain has to offer, it’s not a big stretch to call it that. The Irvine-based company has been around since 1984 and has more than 700 clubs in the U.S. and Canada. LA Fitness attributes its growth to understanding and meeting the needs of each community it serves. The locations offer everything from group classes such as cycling, yoga, Zumba, kickbox cardio, aqua fit, Pilates and more to personal training, basketball, racquetball, weight room and heated pools. Seniors have the opportunity to work on their strength and increase their energy while being led by instructors in Senior Fit and SilverSneakers classes. Meanwhile, parents can burn off some calories while their little ones spend time at the Kids Club with background-checked babysitters. Club members can schedule a complimentary fitness assessment to check their current fitness level and body composition and get a personalized timeline to achieve their fitness goals as well as an overview of the gym equipment and a quick workout with a trainer.

— Magda Liszewska


Multiple locations, 24hourfitness.com

24 Hour Fitness has been in the industry for more than 35 years with a commitment to “create a happier, healthier world through fitness.” One of the major gym chains in the U.S., the company operates nearly 300 clubs in 11 states nationwide. In Orange County alone, it feels like there’s a club in almost every shopping center, which makes it convenient for members to get a workout in wherever they are. The clubs offer a variety of cardio, strength, cycle, dance, mind-body and active aging classes as well as options for virtual training and classes. Personal training, basketball, weight room, cardio machines and swimming pools and sauna round up the options for members. Not every location has all the amenities and not every type of membership allows full access to everything 24 Hour Fitness has to offer, but chances are you can find a combination to accommodate your fitness needs.


3. Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County 1 Federation Way, Irvine, 949-435-3400, jccoc.org

It’s no surprise to see Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County back in the top three best fitness centers. Located in a 220,000-square foot facility, “The J” truly is a place where just about anyone can find something to do regardless of age, fitness level or faith (no, you don’t have to be Jewish to join). During the pandemic lockdown, Merage moved fitness equipment and classes outdoors, which proved to be such a hit, they are keeping a hybrid indoor/outdoor model. “We expanded and spent a significant amount of time just really talking to our members and finding out what they wanted outside, what they wanted inside and how to best meet their needs,” Director of Marketing and Communications Char Williams-Cavitt said. Aside from fitness classes, equipment and pool, the J offers activities for kids so the whole family can participate. They also have day passes if you’re not ready to commit to joining long-term.


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MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley was voted the best hospital in Best of Orange County.

1. MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center 18111 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley; 714-378-7000; memorialcare.org MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center is no stranger to the Best of Orange County, holding on to its top ranking for another year. This relatively new hospital has been around for 36 years, joining the MemorialCare family 26 years ago. It’s the only nonprofit hospital in Fountain Valley, meeting the health care needs of about 120,000 patients a year through emergency department, surgeries, baby deliveries, inpatient visits and more. The full-service hospital offers high-level specialized advanced care, something that’s not common at a community hospital, said CEO Marcia Manker. She also said Orange Coast is the only hospital in Orange County to have an essential tremor program that helps restore patients’ (including those with Parkinson’s disease) functionality with a very non-invasive ultrasound approach. Manker said the staff and employees “create the magic for patients” through technology and innovative programs. Plus, she says “everyone puts the needs of a patient first and foremost.” Aside from being recognized as a top hospital for patients, MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center has also earned recognition as one of the top places to work, and it has a relatively low employee turnover. “We have a very highly engaged workforce, and we’ve worked very hard over all these decades to maintain that relationship with our community, with our employees and with our physicians,” Manker said.

— Magda Liszewska


2. Hoag Hospital

Newport Beach, Irvine; hoag.org Readers continue to choose Hoag Hospital as one of the best in OC. Doctors and staff at the nonprofit regional health care delivery network treat more than 30,000 inpatients and 460,000 outpatients each year. The Newport Beach location is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. The network expanded in 2010 with the opening of Hoag Hospital Irvine. It also has 10 health centers and 14 urgent care centers. The extensive range of health services includes six institutes specializing in cancer, digestive health, heart and vascular, neuroscience, women’s health and orthopedics through Hoag Orthopedic Institute. “At Hoag, everything we do is guided by what our community needs,” said Hoag President and CEO Robert Braithwaite. “For 70 years, Hoag has been committed to providing innovative medical and surgical advancements and investing in highly-skilled clinical teams and facilities to expand the comprehensive services we offer. Hoag has also been recognized as a top hospital by U.S. News & World Report.

3. MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center

24251 Health Center Drive, Laguna Hills; 949-837-4500; memorialcare.org

MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center is also no stranger to the Best of Orange County ranking, keeping its position in the top three for at least another year. The community hospital came about almost 50 years ago thanks to South County residents who wanted medical services available to them nearby. These days, the full-service facility is also known for extensive health care for women. CEO Marcia Manker said it was the first women’s hospital in Orange County to have labor, delivery and postpartum all in one suite, something other hospitals have since adopted. Manker said Saddleback is about to get a new pavilion focused entirely on women’s needs. “It will serve the needs of the women in the community from your adolescence all the way to your golden years,” she said. Meanwhile, Saddleback’s centers of excellence have been recognized for addressing a number of medical conditions, including heart disease, cancer, pulmonary disease, stroke and orthopedics.


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Our community says it BEST! Congratulations to our physicians and staff who help make our Orange County hospitals and health centers simply the BEST. Once again, MemorialCare has been voted among the top hospitals and medical groups by readers of The Orange County Register during its annual ‘Best of Orange County’ competition. This year, Orange Coast Medical Center and Saddleback Medical Center ranked in the top three in the 2022 best hospital category. MemorialCare Medical Group ranked in the top three under its category. To our community, thank you for this vote of confidence. We’re proud to be recognized as the “Best of Orange County” because it means we’re continuously achieving our mission of improving the health and well-being of our community. To our dedicated and passionate physicians, nurses, caregivers and employees who give their all every day, congratulations. Whether you’re on the frontlines providing care, hold a leadership role or work behind the scenes to support the health system, you exemplify MemorialCare’s vision: Exceptional people. Extraordinary care. Every time.






1. Edinger Medical Group Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach, edingermedicalgroup.com Edinger Medical Group is holding on to its Best of Orange County title for the sixth year in a row. With offices in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach, the physician-owned internal and family medicine practice has been serving the health needs of OC residents for 60 years and now sees about 140 patients a day. “We take this recognition very seriously ever since we were fortunate to earn it,” Director of Marketing Lara McKenna said. “We’ve been really proud of this recognition, really proud that this is how our community views us. It really means a lot to us.” The quality comes from inside out, McKenna says, as the staff puts in a lot of effort into maintaining morale and good office culture, which translates into happy, longterm employees putting their best foot forward for the sake of the patients. And while the practice grew over the years, it always managed to “remain small enough to be able to implement change quickly but large enough to make an


Edinger Medical Group received the most votes in its category in Best of Orange County. impact in the community,” McKenna said. One of the unique developments in the award-winning practice is a new program called senior

2. Xpress Urgent Care Multiple locations, xurgentcare.com Xpress Urgent Care has six Orange County walkin clinics in Tustin, Costa Mesa, Stanton, Cypress, Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos. They’re open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day for scheduled and walkin appointments, with an online check-in to make the experience more convenient. Xpress Urgent Care has telehealth services as well to protect the safety of patients, especially those at higher risk of COVID-19 infection. The group’s physicians 50

treat patients of all ages for conditions such as cold and flu, broken bones, fractures, sprains, lacerations and burns. Aside from immediate health needs, patients can also get school and sport physicals, vaccines, immigration physicals, STD testing and more. The medical group has onsite X-rays and an inhouse lab and accepts more than 40 insurance plans. It’s also a place to go for workplace injuries and urgent care for veterans.

care coordinators with a team of staff dedicated to helping seniors over 65 navigate the Medicare system. Another comes in the form of diabetic

care coordinators working with any patient who needs extra diabetic attention on top of regular health care.

— Magda Liszewska

3. MemorialCare Medical Group Multiple locations, memorialcare.org

MemorialCare Medical Group has a history in Orange County spanning 61 years and includes close to 40 locations that see about 2,000 patients a day in person and virtually. Those patients range from newborns to centenarians. It all started with two doctors teaming up and growing their practice before joining MemorialCare in 2011. These days, the medical group has more than 350 providers, 90 percent of whom are physicians, the others advanced health

practitioners such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners and midwives. And while the group offers a wide range of health services, it is known for its oncologists, OBGYNs and cardiac doctors, CEO Mark Schafer said. “Our doctors and our staff, they work really hard, especially during the pandemic, to just improve the health of the community and improve the wellness of our patients and so to be recognized is something that we really appreciate,” Schafer said.


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Specializing in Internal Medicine & Family Medicine since 1961.

714-965-2500 edingermedicalgroup.com 9900 TALBERT AVE, FOUNTAIN VALLEY CA 18682 BEACH BLVD, HUNTINGTON BEACH CA Most HMO, PPO, Fee for Service and Medicare Advantage plans accepted.





1. Amazing Hearing 24251 Avenida De La Carlota, Suite B-1, Laguna Hills; 949-667-9818; amazinghearing.net Amazing Hearing has been serving the needs of Orange County residents for almost a decade. Owner and audiologist Ann Mundell-Noel started the business in 2013, but she has been in the industry for about 30 years and still finds it very rewarding. “We know that hearing is a huge part of our life,” she said. “It not only affects our communication with other people, but it can affect our balance, our alertness, our memory, our overall cognitive functions, and so our goal is to maximize that for each person.” Amazing Hearing’s patients range in age from 7 up to 108, with the majority being in their 60s to 90s. The staff aims to be as accommodating as possible by offering Saturday and evening appointments and going to people’s homes if they’re not able to make it to the office, as was the case during the pandemic. They can even adjust hearing aids remotely. The specialists take a medical approach to each patient’s issues before selecting the


Register readers voted Amazing Hearing as the top place to buy a hearing aid in Orange County as part of the 29th annual Best of Orange County readers’ choice awards. right hearing aids. Amazing Hearing is not tied to any manufacturer. They also offer custom ear protection for swimming, motorcycle

2. Costco Hearing Aid Center Multiple locations; costco.com

One of the benefits of Costco membership is access to the services at the Hearing Aid Center. Members can schedule a complimentary in-person appointment and hearing test, which takes about an hour in a private sound booth. Based on the results, the hearing aid staff — who don’t work on commission — will suggest the most appropriate hearing aids if needed and help with fitting and follow-up visits. Costco works with a few well-known brands, including Kirkland, to 52

provide a variety of hearing aid styles from behind the ear, in the ear to tiny models that go completely in the canal. Like with many other products in the warehouses, Costco aims to offer value pricing. Most hearing aids offered through the Hearing Aid Centers come with remote services and can be adjusted from a smartphone or a tablet. You can also expect free loss and damage coverage and free warranty periods, the length of which varies by model.

riding and more, as well as ear monitors and assistive devices for TVs. “I wish I could give everybody normal hearing,”

Mundell-Noel said. “I can’t, but what I tell them is that we do our best so that they can hear their best.”

— Magda Liszewska

3. Ears to Hear

2200 Harbor Blvd., Suite B-165, Costa Mesa; 714-754-7777; earstohear.co

Ears to Hear has been around since 2006, offering hearing tests, care, ear health check-ups and patient aftercare, all with the goal to “maximize your hearing potential.” The hearing providers start with a comprehensive evaluation before making a unique recommendation. They don’t stop at just selling the hearing aids. The specialists make sure patients understand the journey and expected outcomes as they come up with a long-term plan. The staff works with patients after they buy the

hearing aids through followup appointments, ongoing evaluations and verifications of the hearing instruments, minor in-house repairs, cleanings and personalized treatments. “It makes me feel so thankful and honored to be recognized as one of the best in OC, especially through all the pandemic challenges we all had faced together,” President Gina Menear said. “It means others are aware that we truly care about trying to help others to get the chance to live a better life through better hearing.”


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1. Farmacy Santa Ana 1327 E. St. Gertrude Place, Santa Ana; 714-576-2150; farmacyshop.com Formerly known as Bud and Blossom, Farmacy is the newly renamed cannabis dispensary located in the prime area of Santa Ana. Since 2016, it has offered residents 21 years of age and up the opportunity to shop premium cannabis products including flowers, edibles, and concentrates. Today, the shop continues to be the No. 1 choice for locals looking to purchase recreational and wellnessdriven cannabis products. Not available to visit in-store? No worries, Farmacy provides customers the option to shop online or order for same-day delivery! Once you walk into the Santa Ana storefront location, you’ll be greeted by a familiar aroma with hints of fruit flavors and savory scents. Customers can survey the flowers and products for sale through beautifully designed constructed glass displays before making their choice. All of Farmacy’s products are sustainably sourced from local growers.


Farmacy in Santa Ana was the top vote recipient in the cannabis dispensary category in Best of Orange County balloting. Farmacy says it continuously aims to provide customers with a true holistic experience. “Natural isn’t a

2. People’s California

2721 S. Grand Ave., Santa Ana; 714-439-5213; peoplescali.com People’s California is one of the largest retail dispensaries in the United States and aims to curate your journey from the “canna-curious beginner,” to something of a connoisseur. Customers are able to choose between instore and delivery options and are given an extensive selection of products that are available for purchase. Whether you’re in the mood for a pre-roll, an edible, or a concentrate, People’s California has something in stock to suit your needs. 54

The difference between many dispensaries and People’s California is the store’s passion for farming cannabis and spreading the benefits of such products to others. As the name suggests, People’s California is certainly in the business of promoting everything positive surrounding the recreational and medicinal uses of cannabis. Additionally, this company supports the state’s rural farming community and supplies customers with California-grown products.

trend, it is a commitment to our customers and the values that matter most to them,” the company website reads. “We

believe that what appears on our shelves should begin in the earth.”

– Kenya Barrett

3. Planet 13 Dispensaries Orange County 3400 W. Warner Ave., Santa Ana, CA; 563-732-1313; planet13dispensaries.com Unlike its competitors, Planet 13 Dispensaries is far more than just a storefront. It is an entirely unforgettable experience that starts at the entrance and ends once you exit. Featured in various publications including Vice and Forbes, this dispensary is a combination of your favorite toy store and art museum in one. With an inviting, bright, and colorful atmosphere, customers will be mesmerized by the sights as well as the smells. In addition to the beautiful design, Planet 13 provides

fresh, top-shelf quality cannabis products. What customers love the most about this unique shop is the level of knowledge and expertise that each budtender possesses. For every question, there’s an answer — something that contributes to an overall outstanding consumer experience. For its excellence in providing customer satisfaction, Planet 13 has been the recipient of numerous awards including Best Overall Dispensary by Leafly in 2018 and 3 Product Awards by Jack Herer Cup in 2020.


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1. Herbsnleaf 1175 Baker St., #10D, Costa Mesa, CA; 714-545-3620; www.herbsnleaf.com Herbsnleaf has served the city of Costa Mesa since its opening in 2006. Owner Prakash “Kash” Ronvelia takes pride in being a pioneer of the CBD industry in Orange County and remains passionate about the promotion of holistic remedies as means to assist customers with any health issues they may be experiencing. The brick-andmortar location offers various CBD and non-CBD products that range from oils and vapes to edibles and capsules. Since CBD has been proven to help customers with chronic pain, insomnia and anxiety, many of the products that Herbsnleaf offer cater to people with those conditions. In addition to offering products for humans, Herbsnleaf also carries a range of products that focus on the health and well-being of your pets. The store offers CBD Dry Treats and Liquids for cats or dogs who may display signs of anxiety, restlessness, or stress. After all, animals have the ability to process CBD in the same way that humans do.


Kash Ronvelia and Hema Ronvelia inside their CBD store, Herbsnleaf, in Costa Mesa, which was voted the top CBD store in Best of Orange County balloting. With more than 10 years of experience in the hemp industry, Ronvelia’s top priority has always been bettering the wellness of

2. Sunmed


have been able to help people and their pets with aches and pains as well as with their worries and anxieties.”

— Kenya Barrett

3. My CBD Hub

Multiple locations; getsunmed.com While SunMed started off as a Florida-based company in 2018, the business became wildly successful and found its way into the hearts of Orange County residents. Rachael Quinn, founder of SunFlora and SunMed, initially developed the idea for a CBDbased product line with her husband Marcus after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease — a debilitating inflammatory gastrointestinal disorder. Today, the company is the producer of many CBD-infused products of all strengths and needs under categories such

customers who purchase his products. “We truly believe health is wealth,” the company’s website reads. “We take pride in knowing that we

Los Alamitos, Seal Beach; mycbdhub.com as “mind,” “body,” “sleep” and “rise.” With everything from weight-loss soft gels to CBD beverage enhancements, SunMed has something for everyone in need. The chain currently has stores in Brea, Dana Point, Huntington Beach, Lake Forest and Tustin. The company maintains its credible reputation by providing consumers with a window of transparency. All products are backed by laboratory testing and customers are able to access the results at the click of a button.

My CBD Hub has only four locations in the world, but two of them are right here in Orange County. Residents of Seal Beach or Los Alamitos can head over to their physical locations to purchase some quality CBD products. The company was originally established in 2018 and offers in-store pickup options for customers to stop by and quickly grab items such as tinctures, topical skincare products, beverages and inhalers. In the coming months, My CBD also plans to launch its very own online service for clients who prefer delivery. While My CBD Hub isn’t a manufacturer of its own products as of yet, it does offer a large assortment of hemp and CBD-based items from notable brands. Whether you’re looking for a cold hemp-infused beverage, tinctures, or hemp clothing, My CBD Hub is a perfect place to explore.


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The International Academy of Low Vision Specialists IF YOU HAVE LOW VISION FROM MACULAR DEGENERATION OR OTHER EYE CONDITION, YOU DESERVE TO VISIT A LOW VISION DOCTOR! WHAT IS LOW VISION? Low Vision is defined as fully corrected vision which is insufficient to do what you want to do, usually caused by Macular Degeneration or other eye conditions. WHAT DO LOW VISION DOCTORS DO? 1. Dr. Shuldiner starts with a free telephone consultation. He will ask questions about your present level of vision and the tasks you are having trouble with. If you qualify, he will offer you an appointment for a low vision evaluation. 2. At the appointment, Dr. Shuldiner will carefully determine your level of vision. He will analyze the tasks you wish to do in terms of the amount and type of magnification you need and the amount of lighting and other factors required. 3. With demonstrators of telescope and microscope glasses, filters, hand held and electronic devices, Dr. Shuldiner will help you achieve your goals. 4. Once you determine that the glasses/devices help, they can be ordered. WHAT IF MY VISION CHANGES AFTER A SHORT WHILE? Dr. Shuldiner will see you as many times as necessary and make any possible changes to the glasses at no charge for one year. HOW DO I START? Call Dr. Shuldiner for a free telephone consultation.





The International Academy of Low Vision Specialists has 47 low vision optometrists located in the USA, Canada, Mexico and South Africa. All 47 doctors have been personally trained by Dr. Richard J. Shuldiner in his offices in Southern California. SEPTEMBER 2022 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY




1. Trader Joe’s Multiple locations; traderjoes.com One of Southern California’s most beloved American grocery store chains first opened its doors to the residents of Pasadena in 1967. Founder Joe Coulombe wanted to rebrand the stores he’d already introduced to the public nine years earlier as Pronto Markets, which were developed to compete with mini-mart grocers such as 7-Eleven. Responding to the growing trends of international travel and college-educated Americans, Coulombe decided to develop the Trader Joe’s brand to cater to individuals who wanted fresh groceries and foods that were diverse in taste and quality. After the opening of the Pasadena location, the company saw excellent growth and was subsequently purchased by Theo Albrecht, a German investor and past owner/CEO of Aldi Nord. Under Albrecht’s leadership, Trader Joe’s, now based in Monrovia, expanded into Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and the rest of the Pacific Northwest area by 1995. It now lists stores in 42 states


Trader Joe’s was again the top grocery store in Best of Orange County voting. and the District of Columbia. What continues to set Trader Joe’s apart from its competitors is its focus on organic and imported items for customers with particular

— Kenya Barrett

2. Ralphs

3. Stater Bros. Markets

Ralphs Grocery Company was started as Ralphs & Francis, by a merger between brothers George Albert Ralphs and Walter Benjamin Ralphs and S.A. Francis nearly 150 years ago. The first storefront opened in downtown Los Angeles and faithfully provided groceries to residents in the area, keeping its slogan of “Fresh Food, Low Prices,” in mind. After experiencing two years of success, Walter Ralphs brought Francis out of his share and the brother duo decided to expand the company to other surrounding neighborhoods. Eventually, Ralphs had stories throughout the region. Ralphs was among the chains acquired by Kroger in 1999 as part of a $13 billion merger that created the nation’s largest supermarket group. Today, Ralphs is one of Southern California’s top grocery chains.

Stater Bros. Markets was born during the depths of the Great Depression when a young man named Cleo Stater took a job at a Yucaipa market for 10 cents an hour. After Stater had learned the ropes of the grocery trade, the store owner offered to sell him the business. Lacking the $600 down payment for a business loan, Cleo Slater turned to his twin brother Leo. The siblings both sold their cars to get the money and Stater Bros. Markets opened its doors in 1936. Today, the San Bernardinobased company operates 170

Multiple locations; ralphs.com


budget-friendly option, Trader Joe’s continues to provide quality foods and affordable rates for the residents of Orange County.

diets, such as vegan or glutenfree. Additionally, Trader Joe’s utilizes the privatelabel method where they sell various items under their brand at discounted prices! A

Multiple locations; staterbros.com

supermarkets that are scattered throughout seven counties in California, with total sales topping $4 billion. The chain employs 18,000 people and says it is the largest private employer in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Stater Bros. is the largest independently owned grocery store chain in Southern California, according to its website. Since 2008, Stater Bros. has donated more than $80 million in supplies, groceries, and funds to several organizations to provide relief for families in need.


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1. Irvine Spectrum Center 670 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine; 949-790-4871; irvinespectrumcenter.com Developed by Irvine Company Retail Properties, the Irvine Spectrum is a vibrant gathering spot. Filled with restaurants, stores, entertainment, and even attractions, the Irvine Spectrum Center is the perfect place for families and friends to spend quality time together. If you’re looking to spice up your wardrobe, consider hitting up any of the fashion retailers on the premises, which include Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, and Lululemon. Fittingly for Orange County, the center also has surf-wear brands well represented, with Hollister, Hurley, Oakley, PacSun, Quiksilver, Vans and Volcom all on-site. With more than 10 different restaurants available at the Irvine Spectrum Center, there’s no reason why anyone should have a problem finding anything to eat — whether it’s sweet or savory. Higher-end, full-service dining options include Brio Tuscan Grille, Cucina enoteca, Del Frisco’s Grille, Javier’s Cantina & Grill, Little Sister and Paul Martin’s American


Irvine Spectrum Center was the top shopping/dining destination in Best of Orange County voting. Grill. Fast casual or grab-andgo outlets include Chipotle Mexican Grill, Falasophy, The Melt, Pho Saigon Pearl and Roll Em Up Taquitos. The center’s best attribute is its abundance of things to do. Bring your kids, friends, or

2. South Coast Plaza

3333 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa; 800-782-888; southcoastplaza.com South Coast Plaza is world-renowned as a luxury shopping center. Visitors who stop by South Coast Plaza will be welcomed by classy boutiques, designer shops, and expensive eats. For those looking to purchase name-brand fashions and jewelry, consider shopping at Audemars Piguet, Alexander McQueen, or Balenciaga, just to name a few. Fine-dining restaurants in the plaza include AnQi Bistro, The Capital Grille, Darya Fine

Persian Cuisine, Seasons 52 and the recently opened Petrossian at Tiffany. Aside from elegant dining and shopping, South Coast Plaza is home to various art galleries. Observe masterpieces in the Martin Lawrence Galleries, Bear Street Gallery, and LIULI Crystal Art to name a few. If you’re interested in enjoying a day of classical music or a live performance, consider spending some time at the nearby Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

significant other for a spin on the giant wheel or a twirl on the carousel. For even more thrills, consider participating in the Escape Game or Duff’s Cakemix, a unique DIY desert design studio experience. If you’re interested in a chill

night, feel free to catch the latest film at the Regal Theater or enjoy a comedy shop at Irvine Improv. The options are endless at the Irvine Spectrum Center.

— Kenya Barrett

3. Fashion Island

401 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach; 949-721-2000; fashionisland.com Fashion Island has been a prime destination for locals and tourists alike for decades. What originally started as Newport Town Center in 1967 transformed into an iconic shopping center filled with restaurants, arts and entertainment, and of course — fashion! As the years passed by, the center evolved into a lively location that features everything one could ever imagine. The Lot is an upscale movie

venue with elevated cuisine that includes Prosciutto & Burrata flatbread, a flat iron steak with fingerling potatoes and a spicy ahi bowl. Visitors can use the trolley to move around Fashion Island without tiring themselves from walking. The outdoor mall also offers views of the Newport coastline. Whether you choose to enjoy a day of food and fun or a few hours of retail therapy, Fashion Island is a solid choice.


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The Goodwill Store & Donation Center on North Tustin Avenue in Orange on Wednesday, July 22, 2020.

1. Goodwill of Orange County Multiple locations; ocgoodwill.org Goodwill has been a well-known community-based donation center across the United States for decades, so it’s no surprise that it has landed 1st place among the top thrift shops in Orange County. The perfect place to find a namebrand shirt or cozy pair of slacks at an affordable price, Goodwill continues to be a go-to for the residents of Orange County. The thrift shop readily accepts donations of any kind — and customers received tax-deductible receipts in return. Although the facility has prided itself on providing new and gently used products to the residents of Orange County, Goodwill is actually so much more than just a thrift store. In the past 20 years, more than 238,000 adults and children were served by Goodwill programs and services, over 15,200 participants found meaningful employment with the organization, and nearly 4 million hours were dedicated to coaching individuals to build skills and confidence in the workplace. In addition to bettering the community, Goodwill has been committed to assisting those who have served the United States. “We help veterans and their families find long-term employment in the community,” Goodwill’s website reads. “The Tierney Center for Veteran Services promotes success by helping veterans access resources and services.”

– Kenya Barrett


2. Laura’s House Resale Stores

Lake Forest, San Juan Capistrano; 949-472-8800 or 9499-2186400; laurashouse.org/resale-store Laura’s House was founded in 1994 in honor of a woman named Laura who died of domestic abuse at age 38. In an effort to provide a safe place for individuals who have been subjected to abuse, co-founders Sandy Condello and Helen Kendall organized other concerned citizens and opened the Laura’s House Walk-In Center in San Clemente to offer resources, referrals and support groups to domestic violence victims. The following year, the nonprofit opened an emergency shelter.. Today, Laura’s House not only provides programs and assistance to those in need, but also serves as a thrift shop for the residents of South County. Both locations offer a variety of designer items including handbags, furniture, artwork, men and women’s clothing, and even jewelry. All proceeds from the stores fund the nonprofit’s community efforts and services that aim to help families that are affected by domestic violence. To meet the demand, merchandise at Laura’s House Resale Stores is now available to purchase online via Poshmark.

3. Salvation Army Thrift Store and Donation Center

Multiple locations; salvationarmyusa.org

For more than 150 years, The Salvation Army has carried out its mission to minister and provide services to the poor, serving both their physical and spiritual needs. The organization grew out of the work of founder William Booth, an English clergyman who sought to spread the gospel among denizens of London’s East End, including thieves, prostitutes, gamblers and drunks. Booth adopted the name Salvation Army for his organization in 1878 and carried the group’s message to the U.S., Canada, Australia, France, Switzerland, India and other countries. “The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church whose ministry is motivated by the love of God,” the company’s website reads. “Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” Keeping true to its motto, The Salvation Army continues to provide services, programs, and items to those in need. With several locations scattered throughout the county, residents can snag bargain deals on clothing, home furnishings, accessories, and more. Additionally, members of the community can access various programs including food pantries, rehabilitation services, homeless shelters, veterans services, and other types of community assistance.


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Orange County Register readers voted Hi-Time Wine Sellers in Costa Mesa No.1 for wine selection.

1. Hi-Time Wine Cellars 250 Ogle St., Costa Mesa; 800-331-3005; www.hitimewine.net This year, Hi-Time Wine Cellars celebrates 65 years in the fine wine and spirits industry. This family-owned business was founded by Fritz Hanson and his brother-in-law Jim McVay. Since its opening in 1957, Hi-Time Wine Cellars has seen three generations of relatives as well as committed staff members working in executive and sales positions. The 24,000-square foot facility features a temperature-controlled underground cellar. This area stores some 10,000 different wines from various countries around the world. Hi-Time Wine Cellars also maintains an extensive selection of beers, Bourbon, Scotch, and other rare liquors you won’t find anywhere else. “We are proud to have been able to serve our customers for over half a century,” the company’s website reads. “Our goal is to provide a large selection of fine wines and rare spirits from all over the world at competitive prices without sacrificing the quality of our customer service.” Hi-Time Wine Cellars also has an impressive collection of cigars in their very own humidor. Tobacco enthusiasts can grab their favorite bottle of whiskey and explore the store’s selection of pipes and other fine tobacco products. Treat yourself to a drink at the wine bar or sample other liquors that might spark your interest. Cap your experience off by discovering Hi-Time Wine Cellars’ gourmet foods section where you can grab some specialty chocolates and even fancy cheeses.

— Kenya Barrett



2. Total Wine & More

Multiple Locations: bevmo.com

Total Wine & More has held the title as America’s Wine Superstore since its inception in 1991. Founded by brothers David and Robert Trone, the chain went on to become the largest retailer of fines in the United States with 233 locations scattered among 27 states. Five of those are in Orange County, with stores located in Brea, Huntington Beach, Laguna Hills, Newport Beach and Tustin. At any given time, most Total Wine locations have more than 8,000 different wines, over 3,000 microbrews and more than 3,000 spirits in stock from different countries and regions around the world. “Whether you are new to the world of wine or a great wine enthusiast, we want all our customers to be confident and comfortable exploring our stores and selecting the wines they prefer,” says the Total Wine’s website. “That’s the Total Wine Experience.”

BevMo continues to win a place in the hearts of Orange County residents as one of the top places to purchase wine or other alcoholic beverages. Similar to Total Wine & More, BevMo is one of the largest alcohol retailers in the United States with most of its locations conveniently situated on the West Coast. Of 166 stores nationwide, 11 are located right here in Orange County. BevMo’s motto is quite simple, “shopping for beverages should be as much fun as drinking them.” The company aims to make customers’ experience exciting and easy by providing samples when browsing in-store or offering discounts while shopping online. BevMo also provides a delivery service for those who don’t want to leave their home but desire a cozy home happy hour. For its excellence in the field, BevMo has been the recipient of numerous accolades including two American Business Awards in 2012, and the Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Award for Retailer of the Year in 2008.

Multiple Locations: totalwine.com

3. BevMo


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Thank You!

Sunday October 16, 2022

L s

Register Now

Thanks for Voting for us for BEST WINE SELECTION! We are a family-owned wine, spirits, beer, cigars & gourmet foods shop open since 1957. Our 3,000 square foot climate-controlled underground wine cellar is the biggest retail cellar West of the Mississippi and we keep it stocked with the best wines from California, France, Italy, Spain and the world!


Not in the immediate area? Check out our CALIFORNIA SHIPPING SPECIAL: $14.99 to ship up to a full case (12 x 750ml bottles or 24 x 12oz bottles) anywhere in CA.


250 Ogle Street • Costa Mesa CA 92627 hitimewine.net • 800.331.3005 • @mrhitime




SERVICES: LAWYER / LAW FIRM 2. The Simon Law Group 1327 N. Broadway, Santa Ana; 714-916-5050; thesimonlawgroup.com

Family is also the theme at the Simon Law Group, where twin brothers Robert and Brad Simon teamed up and maximized their strengths to start the firm in 2009. They are joined by several family members and have expanded to 20 attorneys across seven offices, including five in California and two in Texas, with their Orange County office located in Santa Ana. Specializing in representation in all areas of personal injury, the awardwinning litigation and trial firm’s stated objective is to put their clients first. “We pride ourselves on putting the client’s thoughts, feelings and desires above what might be best for our bottom line,” says Simon Law Group CFO Murat Jon Abayhan. “Our goal is to maximize the client’s net recovery and walk away with a new friend for life.” Outside of the courtroom, the brothers founded Justice HQ, a membership organization for like-minded consumer advocates (justicehq.com).


Matt Easton, left, Brian Easton, Doug Easton and Travis Easton, right, at their office. Easton & Easton was No. 1 in voting for best lawyer/law firm.

3 Park Plaza, Suite 1500, Irvine; 949-864-3400; knchlaw.com

1. Easton & Easton, LLP

Established in 1986 in Irvine, Koeller Nebeker Carlson Haluck, LLP specializes in general litigation, as well as complex cases in the areas of construction defects, auto and trucking accidents and construction site accidents, as well as insurance coverage and bad faith, environmental claims and employment law. Since their start more than 35 years ago, KNCH has expanded beyond Orange County to not only establish offices in San Diego and Sacramento, but across the country in Arizona, Nevada, Texas and Florida. The firm’s newest location in Jacksonville, Florida, opened in March of this year. With more than 80 attorneys and 200 employees across its nine offices, KNCH credits the “faithful support of our clients and the dedicated service of our attorneys and staff” for its ability to establish a national presence. The firm’s website states, “Dedicated to service and forging ahead with integrity and strength, KNCH is committed to providing exceptional legal services to our clients.”

650 Town Center Drive, Suite 1850, Costa Mesa; 714-733-2492; eastonlawoffices.com At Easton & Easton, practicing law is all in the family. After entering the field in 1971 and spending a number of years working for large litigation firms, Douglas Easton opened The Law Offices of W. Douglas Easton in 1991. His sons Brian, Matthew and Travis Easton all followed their father’s lead in becoming attorneys, and Easton & Easton, LLP was established in 2014. Specializing in personal injury, premises liability, catastrophic injuries and wrongful death cases, the firm’s four Easton partners and four associate attorneys have seen success in advocating for injury victims in the Southern California area, as Easton & Easton has obtained more than $100 million for its clients in the last five years alone. 64

3. Koeller Nebeker Carlson Haluck, LLP

In three decades, Easton & Easton attorneys have won numerous individual and firm awards, and the firm has a strong Orange County presence, as it currently serves as the official attorney of the Anaheim Ducks and a sponsor of the Los Angeles Angels. Easton & Easton credits much of its success to a unique family dynamic, where their individual strengths come together to create an entity that is greater than the sum of its parts. “Our firm differentiates from others because of our family aspect and integrity,” says Easton & Easton case manager, Katie Rea. “Doug is very proud to have had his sons follow in his footsteps and continue this legacy.”

— Jenelyn Russo


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SERVICES: MEAL DELIVERY 2. Uber Eats ubereats.com Expanding its offering in 2014 to more than ride sharing, Uber’s delivery platform, Uber Eats, has approximately 24% market share in the food delivery sector. Areas where Uber Eats tops its competitors is in availability and variety of restaurant options, as users have access to menus from more than 600,000 supported restaurants in 6,000+ cities across 45 nations. Uber Eats has also made recent efforts to diversify options for their customers by adding alcohol (through acquiring Drizly), as well as groceries and other convenience store items. Additionally, its prescription delivery partnership with Nimble allows users to manage prescriptions directly from the Uber Eats app. Through its latest offering, Uber One membership, users can take advantage of the entire Uber platform, bringing together rides and delivery. For a monthly fee, members receive $0 delivery fees on eligible orders and discounts on rides, with exclusive access to perks, such as top-rated drivers and promotional offers.


Orange County Register readers voted Door Dash as the top meal delivery service in the 29th annual Best of Orange County readers’ choice awards.

1. DoorDash doordash.com The most popular third-party food delivery company not only in Orange County but also the U.S. with an approximate 59% market share, DoorDash has an estimated 20 million active users who place at least one order each month. Fueled by nationwide stay-athome orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the food delivery business sector thrived with DoorDash generating nearly $3 billion in revenue in 2020, more than three times the amount of their growth over the previous year. DoorDash service fees come in slightly lower than its closest competitor, Uber Eats, at 10-11% versus 15%, along with easily accessible live chat customer support. For frequent users, DoorDash introduced DashPass, a membership 66

that includes unlimited $0 delivery fees, discounts on certain eligible items and other exclusive offers. The monthly fee is waived for the first 30 days and there is no term commitment, with DashPass for Students available as well at a reduced price. DoorDash has access to more than 390,000 restaurants and is available in more than 7,000 cities in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Australia, but not unlike other food delivery companies, order options are no longer limited to meals. Users have access to convenience store items, thanks to its partnership with CVS, as well as alcohol, pet supplies, flowers and other gift and retail items. DoorDash also recently launched nationwide shipping through a select list of merchants.

— Jenelyn Russo

3. Postmates postmates.com One of the earliest food delivery companies to emerge, Postmates got its start in 2011, and in an effort to secure more market share, Uber acquired the San Francisco-based company in 2020 for a reported $2.65 billion. Tapping into Postmates’ stronger presence in the Western U.S. put Uber Eats in the second spot nationally in this fast-growing business sector. The app continues to operate independently, although with an interface that resembles Uber Eats and the ability for users to link accounts. According to Uber’s website, all of Postmates’ merchants will remain available to users on the Postmates app, with many of those merchants now becoming available on Uber Eats. By combining their delivery fleet, Uber Eats drivers are likely delivering Postmates orders. Postmates version of a member program is Postmates Unlimited, which for a monthly subscription offers $0 delivery fees and discounts on restaurant and grocery orders. Bonus offers may include discounts on Uber rides.


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1. Greek and Associates Veterinary Hospital 23687 Via Del Rio, Yorba Linda; 714-463-1190, 866-940-7028; gavh.net With a strong interest in exotic animals from a young age, Southern California native Dr. Tom Greek took his childhood enthusiasm for unique pets and opened Greek and Associates Veterinary Hospital in 2008. “Our motto is, ‘If you can get it through the door, we will see it,’” says Greek’s wife, Desiree. “About 50 percent of the animals we see are exotic.” That means Greek and Associates cares not only for the family cats and dogs, but also for more unusual species such as goats, pigs, ducks, snakes and tortoises. “Believe it or not, we recently saw a camel,” says Desiree Greek. Their state-of-the-art Yorba Linda location has four fulltime veterinary surgeons on staff who provide services ranging from basic care to surgery needs, including cold laser therapy, which is used to treat arthritis and promote healing from procedures. Additionally, overnight boarding is available.


Greek and Associates Veterinary Hospital in Yorba Linda was voted the top pet clinic/veterinary hospital in the 29th annual Best of Orange County readers choice awards. Beyond treating local fur babies and reptiles, Greek and Associates is active in supporting their community through annual philanthropic efforts, including Toys For Tots.

2. Lake Forest Animal Clinic

24301 Muirlands Blvd, Suite P, Lake Forest; 949-837-7660; lakeforestanimalclinic.com Lake Forest Animal Clinic uses high-end technology and expertise in providing comprehensive care for family pets in South County and surrounding areas. The clinic’s in-house labs for stool samples and blood and urine tests provide families with virtually immediate results, allowing the five veterinarians on staff to determine prompt diagnoses and treatment plans. These tools complement a variety of digital radiography and ultrasound capabilities, including digital dental x-rays. The clinic also has access to a mobile board-certified

cardiologist who performs echocardiograms and EKGs to test and diagnose heart disease. In addition to these and other standard wellness exam services, laser therapy, microchipping and surgery needs, Lake Forest Animal Clinic offers “a low-cost vaccine clinic and high-quality spay and neuter services to our community at significantly reduced prices.” From the clinic’s website, Dr. Jennifer Self says the ultimate goal at Lake Forest Animal Clinic is, “… to have your fourlegged baby home, healthy and happy.”

Dr. Greek can be found sharing his passion for exotic pets through talks at both national conferences and local nature centers, such as Oak Canyon in Anaheim. You can also catch him on

KTLA’s “Off the Clock: Ask a Vet” online series where he answers questions and gives tips on caring for pets of all shapes and sizes.

— Jenelyn Russo

3. Costa Mesa Animal Hospital 480 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa; 949-548-3794; costamesaanimalhospital.com Providing veterinary care for pet owners in Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and surrounding communities for 37 years, Costa Mesa Animal Hospital specializes in treating the family’s furry friends and other small animals, including reptiles and rodents. Dr. Timothy J. Donnelly and Dr. Ronald Paladin lead a veterinary team that provides a range of services such as wellness exams, vaccines, spays and neuters, dental care, boarding, flea and tick prevention and prescription diets. Open seven days a

week with an after hours veterinarian on-call, Costa Mesa Animal Hospital is also ready for those unexpected pet emergencies and can service x-ray, blood work and surgery needs. The hospital’s long-term local presence and depth of experience make it a coastal favorite. “CMAH is a fairly traditional animal hospital,” says office manager, Kari O’Connor. “The big difference is that there are two ‘dinosaur’ veterinarians who have a century of experience backed by a youthful energetic staff that keeps them moving.”


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Congratulations TO THE 2022 BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY #1 WINNERS A New View Windows and Doors

Hi-Time Wine Sellers

Reata Glen

Alps Heating & Air Conditioning

Howard’s Appliance TV & Mattress

Amazing Hearing

Huntington Beach

Regal Irvine Spectrum ScreenX, 4DX, IMAX, RPX & VIP

Avila’s El Ranchito

In-N-Out Burger

Baypointe Apartment Homes


Bowers Museum

Irvine Spectrum Center

California Bank & Trust

LA Fitness

CNI College

La Vida Cantina


La Vita Salon & Spa

Crystal Cove State Park

Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar

Custom Comfort Mattress


Dana Point Turkey Trot

Living Spaces

Door Dash Dr. Wenjing Liu, Beach Eye Medical Group Easton & Easton LLP Edinger Medical Group ExperTec Automotive Farmacy Fletcher Jones Motorcars Floor & Décor Fratellino’s Italian Restaurant

Rose Bakery Café Ruin Bar San Juan Hills Golf Club SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Segerstrom Center for the Arts Shunka Sushi & Japanese Cuisine Snooze, an A.M. Eatery South Coast College Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Strive to Learn

Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ

TAPS Fish House and Brewer

MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center

The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove

Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors Mortgage League of America Morton’s the Steakhouse Mr. Cabinet Care OC Fair

The Cliff Restaurant The Coach House Concert Hall The Crab Cooker The Donuttery The Hobbit The Home Depot

Goodwill of Orange County

Orange County Great Park Certified Farmers Market (Sundays)

The Resort at Pelican Hill

Greek and Associates Veterinary Hospital

Pechanga Resort Casino

Tony’s Little Italy

Porto’s Bakery and Café

Trader Joe’s

Princess Cruises

Trellis International

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers

UC Irvine

Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream Happy Jewelers Hardy Windows HerbsnLeaf


Lollipop Dental Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics

Roger’s Gardens


Rancho Mission Viejo



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1. Trellis International 711 W. 17th St., Suite E5, Costa Mesa; 949-873-5805; wearetrellis.com In June, Newport Beach City Manager Grace Leung announced the creation of the city’s homeless data dashboard. The online resource is updated monthly with information on individuals served, which includes workforce reentry projects organized through a partnership with Trellis International. Trellis is a faith-based nonprofit located in Costa Mesa. It was initially founded in 2011 and became a nonprofit in 2013. It’s centered on “neighboring, education, homelessness and prayer.” “Trellis is all about facilitating city-centric collaboration around practical, relational and spiritual challenges,” says Ian Stevenson, executive director of Trellis International. Stevenson joined Trellis in the fall of 2015. “We mobilize people from numerous churches, businesses, nonprofits and neighborhoods to work with the city, school district and residents throughout the year. Having birthed ‘Love Costa Mesa’ and


Trellis International is a faith-based Costa Mesa nonprofit partnering with local cities to create change and solve problems at a local level. impacted every school in Costa Mesa as well as hundreds of people experiencing homelessness and neighbors in need, Trellis is now striving to help several surrounding cities establish similar city-centric collaborative movements.”

2. Goodwill of Orange County Multiple locations; 714-795-3130 ocgoodwill.org Most people know Goodwill through its donation centers and retail stores. Nicole Sudyam, Goodwill of Orange County’s president and CEO, wants the community to know that Goodwill does so much more. “We are most proud of how we change lives through the power of work,” says Nicole Sudyam. “We take a person-centered approach to our mission by matching every individual who comes through our doors with a job, an internship or an opportunity that will help them be successful. We meet


every individual where they are and help them connect the dots on their pathway to further independence and ultimately, sustainable employment.” The nonprofit celebrates its centennial in 2024. Sudyam has big plans. “We will be expanding our retail stores, donation centers and online shopping through ShopGoodwill. com with an emphasis on providing enhanced job training and career growth for our team members either inside or outside of Goodwill.”

In 2021, Trellis International began looking beyond Costa Mesa. The partnership with Newport Beach’s civic leaders is one recent example. The organization has also sought out leaders in cities such as Anaheim, Fullerton, Huntington Beach, Irvine and

Orange. Trellis International’s programs include a homeless check-in center, community impact team, street team, intentional neighboring network, and community/ family engagement events.

– Jenn Tanaka

3. Working Wardrobes

2000 E. McFadden Ave., Santa Ana (Donation Center: 17392 Daimler St., Irvine); 714-210-2460; workingwardrobes.org Since 1990, Working Wardrobes has provided individuals seeking employment with the resources to obtain a job. “Working Wardrobes was founded on the principle that one person can make a difference, and that power rests in each of us today,” says Bonni Pomush, CEO of Working Wardrobes. “That is, every individual has unique gifts and strengths to contribute to the world, and Working Wardrobes invites all of us to help create sustainable changes in the lives of

people in our community. When we own our power to contribute to the world, the transformations that result in clients of Working Wardrobes reverberate throughout our community — lifting each of us as well as the collective.” The organization’s Power UP class is designed to assist veterans during transition. The soft skills training sessions provide another avenue to self empowerment for veterans. In 2022, Working Wardrobes earned The Vetty award for its work with veteran employment.


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Dr. Stephen H. Fink Specializes in Face & Neck Lifts Under Local and Oral Sedation.

180 Newport Center Drive, Suite 160., Newport Beach, California www.newportfaces.com • (949) 566-1032 SEPTEMBER 2022 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY



COSMETIC SURGEON 2. Dr. Stephen Fink Newport Faces Cosmetic Surgery 180 Newport Center Drive, Ste. 160, Newport Beach; 949-566-1032; newportfaces.com Dr. Stephen Fink of Newport Faces offers a wide range of cosmetic procedures, from chin implants to non-invasive treatments such as fillers and laser treatments. In 2020, Newport Faces moved to a new location which allowed the staff to perform more procedures. Newport Faces is a boutique practice that focuses solely on cosmetic facial surgery with personalized care. “Having extraordinary patients and taking years off of their appearance is the highlight of what I do,” Fink says. Fink has been practicing for more than 25 years and has specialized in cosmetic facial surgery for 16 years. Dr. Fink has had several patients who return to him for multiple procedures. At the Newport Faces surgical center, most procedures are performed using local anesthesia with local sedation. However other options are available upon request. Dr. Fink carefully customizes his surgeries to achieve the best results tailored to his patients.


Specialization in eyelids and the area surrounding the eye sets opthamologist/ plastic surgeon Dr. Wenjing Liu’s practice apart from others in the county.

4501 Birch St., Suite B, Newport Beach; 949888-9700; orangecountyplasticsurgery.com

1. Dr. Wenjing Liu

“We make it a priority to truly listen to our patients’ concerns and individualize their care. Our goal is to help our patients achieve their aesthetic surgery goals and as a result, feel better about themselves” says Dr. Juris Bunkis of Orange County Plastic Surgery. In 1983, Harvard-educated Bunkis opened his private practice. For decades, he grew a reputation for a natural approach to facial rejuvenation, breast surgery, body contouring (including pectoral, buttocks and calf implants). Recently, Dr. John Compoginis, who specializes in body contouring such as abdominoplasty, liposuction, breast surgery, and buttocks augmentation, joined OCPS. Educated at the University of Southern California, Dr. Compoginis worked in private practice for 10 years. The doubleboard certified surgeons are both members of the American Board of Plastic Surgery and fellows of the American College of Surgeons.

360 San Miguel Drive, Suite 410, Newport Beach; 949-200-6838; wliumd.com After two years of constant Zooming and Facetiming, a lot of us were looking in the mirror and we didn’t care for the reflection. To combat the signs of fatigue, several people sought surgical help. Since 2020, blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) has been one of the top cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States. Newport Beach-based Dr. Wenjing Liu is one of the few U.S. physicians who is a board certified ophthalmologist and plastic surgeon. “What sets our practice apart is that we specialize in the face and specifically the eyelids and areas surrounding the eyes,” Liu says. “More and more often we see patients seeking out experts in these delicate areas


3. Dr. Juris Bunkis, Orange County Plastic Surgery

to achieve the best results. We also genuinely care about our patients and work with them to address their concerns, customizing our approach to every individual.” Beyond her surgical skills, Dr. Liu is constantly researching new technologies for her patients. “We have recently introduced a new state-of-the-art technology to treat inflammation of the eyelids to improve dry eyes and styes,” she says. “In the coming year, we will continue to educate and introduce patients to this new treatment option. We will also continue to provide the highest quality of care that our patients have come to expect from us.”

– Jenn Tanaka


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The Grand Princess cruise liner, one of Princess Cruises’ 15 ships, has 717 cabins with private balconies and five pools.

1. Princess Cruises princess.com Princess Cruises launched its newest flagship, the Discovery Princess in April. The 3,600-passenger ship features wearable technology that enables keyless entry. The wearable medallion-shaped device was an initiative of Princess Cruises President John Padgett, who previously worked on technological innovations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. One of Padgett’s projects was Disney Parks MagicBand, a precursor to these Princess key fob medallions. “Keyless stateroom entry is one of the most fundamental uses and is undeniably a guest favorite,” Padgett told The Orange County Register in April. “The medallion automatically unlocks doors, similar to using a remote key fob to open a car. On top of this, personalized greetings on the stateroom door portals welcome guests and note any special milestones they may be celebrating, such as birthdays and anniversaries.” It also works on shore with participating restaurants and shops. The Princess Cruise line is known for its reliable internet connection at sea called the MedallionNet Wi-Fi. The Princess flagship, which sets sail from San Pedro’s World Cruise Center to the Mexican Riviera and will also sail to Alaska, will remain on the Pacific Coast through the winter of 2023. Next up for Princess Cruises is the company’s first LNG-powered Sphere class ship. It will be the largest ship ever built for Princess and will carry 4,300 passengers.

– Jenn Tanaka


2. Carnival Cruise Line

3. Disney Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line was founded in 1972 and its price value among its competition has helped it become “The World’s Most Popular Cruise Line.” Two new ships will be added to the fleet: the Carnival Celebration later this fall and Carnival Jubilee in 2023. The Carnival Corporation’s sister lines Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Cunard Line, among others, allow guests to choose from a variety of locales. The cruise line gives attention to important causes and allows its guests to give back while onboard. The Carnival Cruise Line is an Official Celebration Partner for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. When a patient celebrates a birthday, Carnival supplies the cake. The Care to Play program helped raise more than $18 million for St. Jude Hospital to combat childhood cancer. The cruise operator also hosts a Day of Play at St. Jude, an event for patients and their families. The Mardi Gras ship will also feature a custom sculpture and three paintings by St. Jude patients.

The Disney Cruise Line is family-friendly and ever-evolving. The five-ship fleet expanded with Disney Wish, which embarked on its inaugural sailing July 14. The Disney Wish features Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure, Disney’s first “Frozen”-themed theatrical dining experience, and “Avengers: Quantum Encounter” at Worlds of Marvel is the first Marvel cinematic dining adventure. “Sharing a delicious meal together is an important part of family life, and we love finding surprising new ways to show our guests a magical time as they dine on each of our ships,” said Ozer Balli, vice president, hotel operations, Disney Cruise Line. “For the Disney Wish, our three new family restaurants are a feast for the heart as well as the palate, and all meals are served, of course, with the incredible care and attention to detail that families expect from our worldclass Disney Cruise Line service team.” A third restaurant called 1923 celebrates the year The Walt Disney Company was created.




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1. La Vita Salon & Spa 2721 E. Coast Highway, Suite 110, Corona del Mar; 949-723-0406; lavitasalonspa.com “At La Vita Salon & Spa, we are here to purely help people with the best of our knowledge, not to sell services and add toxins to their body,” says owner Mariella Boniadi. “We are a private sanctuary, surrounded by a beautiful British-style garden and fountain.” La Vita Salon & Spa is an inclusive space. “Our attention is fully directed to one client at a time so they have privacy as well as timely service without a long wait,” says Boniadi. “Our space is set up for those ladies who need full privacy because of their faith. We are a non-carcinogenic environment.” The appointment-only salon and spa in Corona del Mar offers a range of services from balayage hair treatments, tattoo removal, plasma skin tightening to anti-aging facials. With more than 30 years experience, Boniadi and her team of specialists, including Emily Chaplow and Anita Sundaram, are available for private event bookings. Another specialty service


The spa offers therapies for detoxification and rejuvenation from specialists in skincare, ayurvedic healing and reiki, as well as a hair salon. at La Vita Salon & Spa is the Holistic FaceLift (HFL). Boniadi performs the treatment, which is often called a natural facelift and promotes lymphatic drainage

2. Burke Williams Day Spa

Mission Viejo, Orange; 20 City Blvd. W, Orange; 866-239-6635 burkewilliams.com Burke Williams Day Spa boasts two locations in Orange County. The Mission Viejo spa is located in the Kaleidoscope shopping center and the Orange location is situated at The Outlets at Orange. The European-inspired spa is popular with bridal showers and girlfriend’s getaways. There are 11 locations throughout the country. The Pure Relaxation massage is Burke Williams’ signature therapy. The stress-relieving Swedish massage experience improves circulation and promotes relaxation.


In 2020, Burke Williams Day Spa tried to give back to frontline healthcare workers. Clientele of the spa purchased gift cards ($150 or more) and Burke Williams contributed a spa voucher to a health care worker for a complimentary 50-minute Pure Relaxation Massage or spa style facial. More than $2 million in complimentary massages and facials were gifted to 14,000 health care workers from local hospitals such as Providence, Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo and St. Joseph Hospital in Orange.

and reduces signs of aging. Beyond physical beauty, Boniadi plans to help clients from within. “We are expanding in having more educational training for

those who need help with selfimprovement and confidence so they can attract more loyal clients and the right people in their life,” she says.

– Jenn Tanaka

3. Spa Gregorie’s Day Spa & Salon

Newport Beach, Rancho Santa Margarita; 949-644-6672, 949-858-9455; spagregories.com Since 1998, Spa Gregorie’s Day Spa & Salon has offered rejuvenative services and has became one of the most popular Orange County destinations for restorative and relaxing massages. Spa Gregorie’s owner Angela Cortright opened her first location in Newport Beach. In 2006, the boutique spa expanded with a second location in Rancho Santa Margarita. Spa visitors are offered a full menu of services. Massage therapies are available for pregnant patrons and individuals undergoing cancer treatment. The 90-minute

Fassage experience includes a full body massage and facial. Facials are in high demand all year round. During the summer, body enhancements such as custom spray tans and body exfoliation remain in high demand. Currently, Spa Gregorie’s most popular packages include the Spa Date (for two) and the Head to Toe Renewal with an hour-long massage, an anti-aging facial and a sole scrub enhancement. For gentlemen, expectant mothers and oncology services, Spa Gregorie’s offers special services.


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1. Happy Jewelers 1565 S. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton; 714-992-0454; happyjewelers.com Happy Jewelers is a second generation, family-owned jewelry store in Fullerton. After emigrating with his family from Istanbul, Isa Arik founded the shop in 1973. Now his sons Gabe and Danny Arik continue on with their father’s legacy. “We continue our family tradition of providing the same superb quality, customer service, value, and level of care,” said Gabe and Danny Arik, co-owners. “Jewelry makes people happy, and we want to make people happy,” Gabe Arik says. The Arik brothers oversee Happy Jeweler’s 2,000-square foot Orange County location and a Jewelry District factory in downtown Los Angeles. For more than 40 years, Happy Jewelers has been known for its custom work. Patrons of the shop select their stones and a team of in-house jewelers create custom settings. The Arik brothers hand-pick each diamond and source gemstones and precious metals from quality suppliers. “We demand the best, and


Brothers Gabe and Danny Arik continue the family tradition of providing quality jewelry and service from their Fullerton location. offer unsurpassed quality at wholesale pricing, directly from our factory to our customers,” Gabe says. Happy Jewelers carries a variety of luxury timepieces ranging

2. Jeweler’s Touch

2535 E. Imperial Highway, Brea; 714-579-1616 jewelerstouch.com “Family-owned Jeweler’s Touch is the Southland’s premier full-service jewelry store,” says Guy Julian, who handles marketing. Jewelers Touch in Brea prides itself on “serving the community for three decades,” he says. Since opening in 1992, the store is known for “offering a unique selection of fine jewelry in contemporary and classic styles, with a giant collection of hand-selected diamonds and gemstones in stock,” he says. Jewelers Touch is sought out for its custom pieces, adds Julian. “JT’s onsite


studio boasts seven full-time goldsmiths who are ready to restore your precious heirlooms or just replace a broken clasp.” Jewelers Touch carries Shinola Detroit timepieces, collections by Kendra Scott and cutting tools by William Henry Studios. “We have a state-of-theart 3D printer, and we are in the process of getting an even bigger and better one,” says Julian. Custom projects range from Star Warsinfluenced rings, video game lore rings, to traditional anniversary bands.

from a Rolex Oyster perpetual stainless steel 36 mm pink stick dial watch to a sizable Richard Mille men’s RM011 “Filipe Massa” Rose Gold 50mm x 40mm skeleton dial

timepiece. “We treat our team members and our customers as if they are walking into our home,” Gabe Arik says.

– Jenn Tanaka

3. The Jewelry Exchange

15732 Tustin Village Way, Tustin; 714-542-9000 jewelryexchange.com The Jewelry Exchange CEO and President Bill Doddridge began his career by working in pawn shops. Doddridge learned the business and after taking over Buena Park Loan & Jewelry in 1977, he eventually embarked on his venture. The Jewelry Exchange in Tustin has expanded to 16 locations across the country. Known for manufacturing its own jewelry and importing diamonds, The Jewelry Exchange designers create custom engagement rings, wedding bands and

fine jewelry. As a direct diamond buyer, The Jewelry Exchange gains access to precious and rare gems. In 2014, the shop acquired a large stone called the Katya Diamond, a 50.11 carat cushion-cut gem that is suspected to have come from Siberia. It was displayed at The Jewelry Exchange’s flagship store in Tustin. While gems such as the Katya Diamond are rare, Doddridge and his team of jewelers and buyers are always on the lookout for the next big thing.


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1. The Resort at Pelican Hill 22701 Pelican Hill Road South, Newport Coast; 888-507-6427; pelicanhill.com The Resort at Pelican Hill is known for its luxurious amenities: The Coliseum Pool, Pelican Hill Golf Club (not to mention the club’s scrumptious burger), the property’s luxurious Tuscan atmosphere, and its award-winning restaurant. The resort, which opened in 2008, still remains a favorite locale in Orange County for celebrations and staycations. The property boasts 504 acres surrounded by 50,000 acres of protected green space. It’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Conde Nast Traveler and Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” Accommodations include 204 bungalow-like guest rooms with plush chairs and limestone fireplaces. The ultra-luxurious villas feature two- to four bedrooms complete with ocean views, large soaking marble soaking tubs in the bathrooms, kitchens, personal butlers at your disposal and exclusive clubhouse access. Located within walking distance to Crystal Cove State Park, The Resort at Pelican Hill provides guests with lounge chairs, beach towels and a driver who will escort them to the beach. The Resort at


The resort’s 504 acres include luxurious villas, bungalows and guest rooms that offer easy access to Crystal Cove State Park. Pelican Hill boasts the best of Newport Coast living. In fact, some guests are opting to stay long. The home-hotel trend is heating up. At the Villas at Pelican Hill, extended stays beginning at 14 days are available for visitors seeking longer

2. Montage Laguna Beach

30801 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach; 866-271-6953 montagehotels.com/lagunabeach Montage Laguna Beach is located steps away from Laguna Beach’s protected marine life sanctuary. During low tide guests can wander the tidepools and discover ocean creatures such as sea anemones, crabs and mussels. The craftsman-style beachfront property opened in 2003. It features guest rooms, two bedroom bungalows with ocean views, 3,000-square foot villas with private patios, gas fireplaces, Viking appliances, and outdoor gas grills. For guests planning longer stays, residences are available to satisfy those interested in the home-hotel hybrid setup. The Homes at Montage Laguna Beach offer ownership


opportunities for those who enjoy the resort’s amenities. Amenities include the 20,000-square foot Spa Montage, which boasts dry redwood saunas, eucalyptus steam rooms, and a lap pool with a view of the Pacific ocean. Estheticians use Lola’s Apothecary products handmade in Devonshire for Spa Montage’s bespoke body treatments. The California Wildflower Ritual experience was created exclusively for Spa Montage. The head-totoe treatment wraps guests in an orange blossom souffle for pure relaxation and herbal poultices with rice, calendula flower, lavender and chamomile are used to evoke California’s bounty.

accommodations. The villa amenities include access to personalized grocery delivery, unlimited use of the private Villa Club Pool with cabana rentals, exclusive access to preferred golf and dining.

– Jenn Tanaka

3. Balboa Bay Resort

1221 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach; 949-645-5000 balboabayresort.com Balboa Bay Resort is a waterfront luxury resort in Newport Beach. It’s highly recommended in the Forbes Travel Guide and beloved by OC locals as a viewing spot for the annual Newport Boat Parade. For decades, Balboa Bay Resort has been the place for nonprofit events, weddings, celebrations and company gatherings. Guests lounge onsite while viewing the boat slips and watching the yachts as they dock. Dining includes California-style pub A+O Restaurant and Bar and a Sunday seafood brunch in the bay front Lighthouse room. The full service spa with nine treatment rooms is only available to guests during their stay at Balboa Bay

Resort. The only exception to this rule is if you are a Balboa Bay Club Member. “We are excited to have unveiled a Pampered Pooch Package for very important pet guests that includes accessories, gourmet meals, and a photoshoot session,” says Marina Dutton, Balboa Bay Resort’s general manager. “Balboa Bay Resort and Club is a crown jewel of Orange County, our home since 1948.” While staying at Balboa Bay Resort, exploring the waterfront is on the agenda. From renting an electric Duffy boat from Balboa Bay Resort Marina to the complimentary waterfront workout with CAZ Training Club on Mondays for hotel guests, it’s all done by the bay.


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Visitors to The Beachcomber’s patio are treated to views of Newport Beach’s coastline and Santa Catalina Island as they dine.

1. The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove

15 Crystal Cove, Newport Coast; 949-376-6900 thebeachcombercafe.com The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove State Park is one of the best waterfront dining locales in Orange County. The restaurant is situated on the beach with views of Crystal Cove’s historic 1930s beach cottages, Newport Coast’s vistas, and the Pacific ocean. The 12.3-acre historic site is overseen by the Crystal Cove Conservancy. The Beachcomber is one of only a few places in Orange County where diners can eat beignets on the beach. Since opening in 2006, The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove has expanded its offerings. From The Big Jars cocktails including the Big Bad Bloody Mary with jumbo shrimp, a sizable crab claw and fresh vegetable garden at Bootlegger Bar — Register restaurant critic Brad A. Johnson also recommended this Bloody Mary — to beach rentals and special events. “The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove is honored to be recognized by the community as one of the premier waterfront dining locations in Orange County. The entire Beachcomber team is excited to announce the new Promenade Beach Dining area adjacent to the main deck, bringing visitors closer to the ocean for that amazing California coastal experience,” says Chris Seever, general manager of The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove. “Since its inception in 2006, The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove has strived to provide an amazing culinary experience on the shoreline, and there is no better way to showcase the Orange County lifestyle than enjoying a meal while we raise the martini flag in your honor.”

– Jenn Tanaka

3. Mastro’s Ocean Club

2. Bluewater Grill, Newport Beach 630 Lido Park Drive, Newport Beach 949-675-3474 bluewatergrill.com/newport-beach

8112 E. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach 949-376-6990 mastrosrestaurants.com

Bluewater Grill in Newport Beach opened in 1996. Founded by partners Jim Ulcickas and Rick Staunton, this location of Bluewater Grill (there are currently eight other sister restaurants) is special because it serves regular diners and boaters cruising in Newport Bay. The restaurant’s dockside delivery option is available via phone or online ordering. Diners sip on clam chowder or eat crispy calamari that’s delivered directly to their boats. Ulcickas and Staunton renovated the restaurant after 26 years. They unveiled the updated version by La Jolla-based Robinson Brown Design Inc. in April. The multi-million dollar renovation closed the restaurant for three months. When it reopened, the 5,000-square foot space featured fisherman’s basketstyle lighting fixtures, comfy booths and banquet seating. Locals appreciated the updates (Brad A. Johnson even requested the reno in 2019) but the menu remains true to Bluewater Grill’s sustainable seafood mission.

The moment diners pull into the parking lot at Mastro’s Ocean Club in Newport Beach, they can tell the area is affluent. Maserati, Lamborghini, Bently, Ferrari — it’s a luxury car show awaiting the valet. This matches the ambience at Mastro’s Ocean Club, which is an elevated version of Mastro’s. Inside the restaurant, wagyu steaks and seafood reign. Specialty sushi in the form of hamachi with crispy onions, big eye tuna tostada and maguro lime roll developed for Mastro’s by chef Angel Carbajal of Nick-San Cabo San Lucas is served. While the sushi tempts, most diners visiting Mastro’s Ocean Club are celebrating. The live music is back in the evenings and the menu includes Bering Sea King Crab legs and lobster tails followed by Snake River Farm 32 ounce wagyu tomahawk chops or Japanese A5 wagyu steaks. Side dishes include wild mushroom truffle gnocchi and the white cheddar lobster macaroni and cheese. The cream spinach, a Mastro’s classic, is still popular as ever.


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1. Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors, The South Coast Complex 800 Newport Center Drive, Ste. 500, Newport Beach; 949-717-5300; advisor.morganstanley.com/south-coast-complex Lance Million heads up the Morgan Stanley Wealth Management branch offices in Orange County, which is called The South Coast Complex. Based in Newport Beach, it consists of six branch offices with more than 350 financial advisers, client service associates and staff. The South Coast Complex Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors specializes in institutional securities, investment management and wealth management. Million began his career in 1987 working in the mailroom while completing his business management degree. Million built a successful advisory practice and held several responsibilities; eventually becoming a complex manager. He took over the South Coast Complex covering Orange County in 2010 when Morgan Stanley consolidated with Smith Barney. In 2020, Million became a managing director. He has served on the National Branch Manager Advisory Council, co-chaired the Branch Manager Empowerment Committee, conducted “peer-to-peer” training and currently serves on the National Recruiting Advisory Committee. Along with assistant director Robert Rettig, Million and his team of advisors adhere to Morgan


More than 350 financial advisers and staff work at the complex of six branch offices. Stanley’s heritage. “We live on a proud history of trying to bring excellence to everything that we do,” James P. Gorman, chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley, said on the branch’s website. “So, the essence of our culture is as you make decisions every day you

2. TABR Capital Management

TABR Capital Management, Inc., 500 N. State College Blvd., Ste. 1320, Orange; 714-704-9180; tabr.net “Like most people, you want to make money, grow it, and keep it,” says Steven W. Medland, MBA, CFO and partner at TABR Capital Management Inc. “TABR has launched hundreds of successful financial portfolios for individuals across the nation, and steered them safely through market storms.” With more than 35 years of experience, TABR Capital Management is focused on risk management. President/principal Robert M. Kargenian, CMT and Steven W. Medland oversee a team of advisers who manage more than $165 million in assets.


“If you are preparing to retire, have retired, or are in financial transition, TABR can help optimize your investments,” Medland says. “Our primary objective is to develop strategies for our clients, to enable them to achieve their long-term financial goals with less risk.” TABR Capital Management clients range from preretirees seeking advice on when to start taking Social Security benefits, women in life transition, retirees and people seeking guidance on windfall inheritance. Services range from investment/ asset management, financial planning, portfolio design to financial risk assessment.

come to work, are you trying to do the right thing, always.” The company offers an investing with impact program that includes investing with 120 products aimed at advancing a sustainable world.

– Jenn Tanaka

3. EP Wealth Advisors 18301 Von Karman Ave., Suite 1050, Irvine; 949-247-2067 epwealth.com EP Wealth Advisors in Irvine began with longtime friends Derek Holman and Brian Parker. The duo met as adolescents working together in an ice cream shop. In 1999, Holman and Parker started Premier Financial Management, a precursor to their EP Wealth Advisors. They wanted to offer transparency to their clients. The company grew over the years. In 2004, EP Wealth Advisors hired its first employee and in 2011, Holman and Parker enlisted the expertise of Patrick Goshtigian, CFA, to serve as EP Wealth’s president. The company has provided financial advice for

entertainment professionals, athletes, retirees and members of the LGBTQ community, foundations and small business owners. EP Wealth Advisors recently launched community initiatives to empower female financial literacy called Investing in Women, which according to the website, hopes to provide “the right tools and pathways to grow their careers, personal wealth and financial education. By working as partners, we can better elevate the EP experience for both our clients and our colleagues all while creating a diverse culture that attracts and promotes women.”


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EP Wealth Advisors has been named to

OC Register’s Best of Orange County Wealth Advisors Congratulations to the OC Team for their dedicated work to the community!

EP Wealth Advisors is a wealth management firm serving 10,000 clients with financial planning, estate planning, retirement, investing, and more. Our in-house team of Certified Financial Planners, Certified Public Accountants, and Tax Professionals are fiduciaries that always put our clients first.

To connect with Ryan and the full team of EP Wealth Advisors® in Orange County, call (949) 247-2067 or visit www.epwealth.com



Open For Dine In or Take Out

EAT TOGETHER At Kenos, you’re a stranger only once!

5750 E. LaPalma Ave. Anaheim, CA 92807

714-777-9511 https://www.kenosrestaurant.com Monday - Thursday: 7:00 am - 9:00 pm Friday - Sunday: 7:00 am - 10:00 pm 84




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1. Porto’s Bakery and Café 7640 Beach Blvd., Buena Park; www.portosbakery.com Porto’s Bakery and Café is a favorite place to enjoy bakery treats such as tarts, croissants, cakes, breads, as well as Cuban specialties like ham croquettes, empanadas and potato balls. The communist takeover of Cuba decades ago partially led to the creation of Porto’s, which now has stores in Buena Park, Glendale, Burbank, Downey, West Covina and Northridge. Rosa Porto, a Cuban refugee, opened her first Porto’s Bakery in Echo Park. She’d previously been selling her homemade cakes to friends and relatives out of her home while trying to make ends meet in America. Rosa Porto passed away in 2019, but her recipes remain a part of the successful bakery business that her children and grandkids now run. Growing up in Cuba, Rosa loved the kitchen at home, filled with the scents of cinnamon, sugar and vanilla as her mother baked with recipes she’d brought from her homeland, the Galicia region of Spain. After Cuba fell to communism, Rosa and


Customers filled the shop when Porto’s opened its Buena Park location in 2017. Today, there are six locations of the Cuban bakery. her family decided to leave Cuba; Rosa Porto was fired from her job and her husband was taken to a labor camp. Rosa began baking and selling

2. 85°C Bakery Café

Multiple locations; www.85cbakerycafe.com From Taiwan to California, 85°C Bakery Café continues to expand with the opening of a distribution center in Buena Park in March of this year. The business — a huge and popular chain in Taiwan that launched in 2004 and now has over 1,000 locations worldwide — first came to the United States in 2008 with the opening of a café in Irvine. 85°C Bakery Café has additional Orange County stores in Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Orange and Tustin. If you’re wondering 86

where the name comes from, here’s what the chain’s website says: “The idea that the perfect brewing temperature for espresso coffee is 85° Celsius. For us, the name symbolizes our devotion to provide coffee, breads and cakes of the highest quality to every guest.” 85°C Bakery Café stores offer a variety of more than 50 freshly baked breads, cakes and Danishes, many of them exotic and filled with treats like blueberry cream cheese, chocolate chips or coconut and raisins.

cakes to neighbors and friends there to support her family, a skill she took with her when the family immigrated to California. Later, Porto’s

Bakery and Café was born. In 2016, Porto’s was named one of Yelp’s “Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S.”

– Amy Bentley

3. Poul’s Bakery

2950 Grace Lane, Suite A, Costa Mesa; 714-532-5101 www.pouls-bakery.com In 1955, Poul Johansen, an immigrant from Denmark, opened his first bakery in the city of Orange, and the bakery became a popular tradition for many local families. Ayliz Guclu is the third and current owner — she reopened Poul’s in 2012 after it closed the previous year — and clearly the beloved longtime bakery has retained a loyal following. “Being in business 67 years, we have followers for decades. Generation after generation, people come to us,” Guclu said. “It’s like a tradition. We do offer a lot

of different products that are not found in a normal bakery,” said Guclu, who still offers many of Poul’s old favorite menu items as well as some new ones, she added. Custom-made cakes for special occasions, cannolis, gourmet cookies, pastries and Danishes are just some of the bakery treats at Poul’s. Other popular specialties include marzipan bonbons, cupcakes, petit fours, brownies, cream puffs and cake pops. Poul’s Swedish Princess cake and their colorful unicorn cake are favorites for birthdays and children’s parties.


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Bartender JC Drake serves up craft cocktails created from herbs and house-made ingredients at Ruin Bar in Costa Mesa.

1. Ruin Bar

2. Pump Room

3. La Vida Cantina

2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa; 714-884-3189 theruinbar.com

1532 W. Chapman Ave., Orange 714-978-6010; instagram.com/ocpumproom

1870 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa 949-612-2349 lavidacantina.com

Established in 1950, The Pump Room calls itself “OC’s original bikini sports bar.” Scantily clad female bartenders are on duty daily (check them out via the establishment’s social media) to serve drinks while a row of TVs display sporting events and patrons use a pair of pool tables. There is a limited food menu, but people can also bring their own food or order a delivery. Local lore suggests the name was derived from staff having to manually pump the beer kegs. Back then it was frequented by bikers before transitioning into a bikini bar in the 1970s. Apparently one former proprietor was an ex-cop who kept a gun on his desk. The Pump Room’s current owner says its most popular drinks include Jameson Irish Whiskey, Casamigos Reposado (plus other higher end tequilas), not to mention the old classic bar standby.

This Mexican restaurant and bar is located on the entertainment level of The Triangle. It has an outdoor bar, with five fire pits under two oversized palapas. The drink menu boasts an array of margaritas, both fresh (the Pineapple Jalapeño, Watermelon Mint, Blueberry Basil) and blended (Blood Orange, Cactus Fruit, Tamarindo); premium tequilas such as Guavarita and La Paloma; specialties like the Tropical Mojito; bottled beers and more. Before Alex Petrosian became the owner in 2020, he was immediately taken by the spacious outside patio, figuring it would help “bring back the energy and vibe that the Triangle was known for back in the day.” Since then, the setup provides a “vibe that is second to none and gives people a unique bar/restaurant experience for parties, sports viewing, or just general nightlife.” Petrosian also emphasizes the “fresh fruit margaritas are what people gravitate to. They are very delicious and Instagram-worthy.”

“Ruin bars” first cropped up in Hungary during the mid-2000s, where they took over abandoned buildings and neglected outdoor spaces. Owners made minimal changes and often left mismatched furniture, aged floors, and peeling paint intact, adding to the off-kilter charm. OC’s take on the concept includes a drink menu of craft cocktails and beers on tap. According to General Manager Jennifer Eguiluz, The Lab Anti-Mall location has an energy that people won’t experience anywhere else. “The artistry and eclectic pieces from all over the world definitely have a presence.” She describes her team as a “dedicated family of chefs with ice” and “well-traveled cocktail nerds” who “truly express the style of European cooking incorporated into cocktails.” The ambience is created by burning candles and incense and a fresh herbs and flower-festooned bar top. “We have countless house-made bitters and tinctures” and Ruin makes syrups and sherbets with a distinct flavor profile. Eguiluz cites Saged and Confused, a house-made mezcal cocktail, as its most popular. Another customer favorite is gin drink The Cat’s Pajamas, made from a date-infused catnip tea cordial. “It’s as safe for humans as it is relaxing,” like a sweet Earl Grey tea, Eguiluz explains. “We have a ton of cat paraphernalia and people often refer to Ruin as ‘the cat bar,’ so we have a little fun with that.”

– George A. Paul


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1. Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que Multiple locations, lucillesbbq.com Talk about doing due diligence. Craig Hofman spent years on a road trip of the best American barbecue shacks before developing a barbecue restaurant concept around Southern hospitality and blues music (possibly inspired by B.B. King’s famous Gibson guitar that he named Lucille). Hofman chose Long Beach for the first location in 1999. Lucille’s has topped this Best of OC category for 20 years. The BBQ food dishes are slowly smoked with hickory wood using spices popular in Texas, Memphis, and the Carolinas. The large menu is highlighted by such entrées as Texas-style beef brisket, St. Louis ribs, baby back ribs, smoked Alabama half chicken, smoked pulled pork, hot honey-glazed salmon, Southern fried catfish, and shrimp. Then there’s New Orleans gumbo, jambalaya, chimichurri top sirloin steaks and more than a dozen sandwiches or burgers. Among the appetizers are buttermilk battered onion straws, smoked BBQ nachos

The large, diverse menu at Lucille’s includes hatch green chile cheese grits. with smoked brisket, pulled chicken or pork and hot honey cauliflower bites. On Destination Days, Lucille’s has special discounted food and drink offerings for dine-in guests.

2. Heritage Barbecue 31721 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano heritagecraftbbq.com Heritage is known for long wait times, but corporate chef-turned-pitmaster Daniel Castillo’s Central Texasinspired food is apparently worth it, garnering rave reviews from multiple U.S. food publications and organizations. Register restaurant critic Brad A. Johnson named it his Restaurant of the Year for 2022. After successful pop-up events with local breweries, Heritage opened a physical location with a patio and picnic tables in 2020. Castillo says Heritage was the first restaurant in 88

California to use analog offset smokers as used in Texas. They take patience. “We are a true live fire cooking restaurant and offer the traditional Texas trinity of brisket, ribs and housemade sausage, but we are also known for pushing the boundaries of traditional barbecue,” more like SoCal craft barbecue. “That’s why you’ll see everything from brisket banh mi and pastrami tortas to smoked pork belly musubi and pulled pork adobo rice bowls.” Open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (or until sold out) WednesdaysSundays.

This is separate from the weekday happy hour deals from 3-7 p.m. and 9 p.m.-close. Hours may differ by location. Lucille’s is also available for large party celebrations. Mimi J. of Yorba Linda


wrote on Yelp about Lucille’s that the family supper is “really a lot of portions. The meats were tender, juicy and the BBQ flavoring was perfect.”

– George A. Paul

3. Famous Dave’s 13122 Jamboree Road, Irvine; 714-462-9179 famousdaves.com Launched by awardwinning pitmaster “Famous” Dave Anderson in 1994, the restaurant chain has nearly 200 locations nationwide. “From our hand-rubbed hickory smoked meats to our dressings, we pride ourselves on being a scratch made kitchen,” affirms Scott Hohenstein, marketing and catering manager. “We source the highest quality meats and trim them up like we’re in a competition.” He cites the All-American BBQ Feast — which serves up to six people and includes St. Louis-style spare ribs, tri-tip, country-

roasted chicken, Wilbur beans, coleslaw, fries and cornbread — as the most popular menu item. Nashville hot chicken, tri-tip and Southern fried chicken sandwiches were recently added as sandwich options, along with steakhouse filet, blackened salmon, and veggie salads. There are also signature burgers such as the JackedN-Stacked, Dave’s Favorite and The Ultimate, various platters, a few desserts and kids’ menu selections. Catering is available for any type of event from 1010,000 guests.


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From burritos to pancakes to eggs Benedict, Rose Bakery Café serves it all up, plus lunch offerings, starting daily at 5 a.m.

1. Rose Bakery Café 3536 East Coast Hwy., Ste. C, Corona Del Mar 949-675-3151; rosebakerycafe.com From basic fare to killer breakfast burritos to fancier dishes like eggs Benedict or lox, this eatery in Corona del Mar is grabbing attention and a loyal following in the busy breakfast scene. The bakery cafe opens at 5 a.m. for early risers and rarely slows down until the last of the sandwiches made with premium Boar’s Head meat is made. “You need to see what we’re about,” said owner/proprietor Shawn Lim, who opened the modest-from-the-outside eatery 23 years ago. “In summer it’s just crazy.” Long before the bakery and cafe doors open, the eatery hums with activity — bakers are at work cooking up doughnuts, croissants, scones, breads and cakes. Meanwhile, fresh coffee beans are ground for the morning caffeine seekers. Breakfasts include five classic egg combos, eight breakfast burritos and five omelet platters. There are also pancake stacks, two kinds of eggs Benedict and lox and bagels. For those who miss the breakfast rush, the quality doesn’t diminish with a lunch menu stuffed with burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads. The cafe has a generous outdoor seating area from which to observe the morning goings-on in CdM. Despite its often crazy-busy pace, Lim says he has worked hard to train and keep the best wait staff in the area so that you’ll be in, out and ready to take on the rest of your day.

– Greg Mellen

2. Snooze an A.M. Eatery

3. Proud Mary’s Restaurant

With the motto of “breakfast but different,” Snooze Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Jaffe says there is “an emphasis on thoughtful, craveable and innovative breakfasts. “We’re thrilled that our creative take on breakfast has continued to resonate with Orange County residents.” An example of “different”? How about six, count ’em, kinds of bloody Marys? If you like eggs Benedict, try any of nine “Bennies.” All are made with cage-free eggs, you can get them in combinations with ham, pork bellies, chiles, avocados and hollandaise sauces with a twist to fit the dish. If you can’t decide, you can combine two with a “Benny duo.” Snooze has 11 kinds of pancakes, including the Funky Monkey French Toast. For those who want a little breakfast with their dessert, it features banana pancakes, white chocolate chips, caramel sauce, candied pecans, whipped mascarpone and banana broulee. And there’s always pure maple syrup. Don’t forget the plant-based menu.

The proprietors at Proud Mary compare breakfast or lunch with them, while enjoying the killer harbor views, to “vacation without the expense or travel hassles.” It is also self-described as having a “Jimmy Buffett atmosphere,” without the corporate Margaritaville trappings. Breakfast is served between 8 a.m. and noon, and features a wide array of breakfast fare, including your basic egg and pancake combos. Proud Mary’s also has five kinds of breakfast burritos and eight different omelets and scrambles. There are also seven combo plates, including eggs Benedict and Florentine. A featured Country Benedict comes with buttermilk biscuits topped with sausage patties and poached eggs and smothered in sausage gravy with home fries. Lunch with burgers, sandwiches, burritos and tacos are served after 11 a.m. Mary’s also has a full bar and cozy lounge because, to quote Buffett, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”

Tustin, Orange, Laguna Niguel snoozeeatery.com

34689 Golden Lantern, Dana Point 949-493-5853; proudmarysdp.com


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1. Snooze, an A.M. Eatery Multiple locations; snoozeeatery.com An eatery with a social conscience, Snooze prides itself on using only responsibly sourced ingredients and being a good corporate partner and neighbor. All while providing high quality and tasty food. So far the recipe has been a success, with more than 37 company-owned locations opening since the chain launched in Denver in 2006. On its website, Snooze says “We work hard with partners who are as passionate as we are about food, sustainable agriculture, and how animals are treated to help create a better food system for future generations to thrive upon.” The company created a numerical system called Snooze Approved to grade products and providers on sustainability, responsiblesourcing and treatment of animals and employees. As a result, eggs are cage-free and meats are antibiotic free. “We aim to continue to keep guests coming back with new menu items, responsibly sourced ingredients and change-maker initiatives like giving 1 percent back in-kind to our local communities and


At Snooze, options abound. You can have your French toast stuffed with mascarpone and your burrito filled with everything from pulled pork to roasted cauliflower. lessening our impact on the environment by diverting waste and lowering our carbon footprint,” said Andrew Jaffe, chief marketing officer, in a statement.

2. Bosscat Kitchen & Libations Irvine, Newport Beach, Orange bosscatkitchen.com

From Houston to Newport Beach, Bosscat was built on a reputation of a sipping whiskey collection with more than 80 Kentucky bottles at any given time and even a variety of Pappy Van Winkles. But it’s the Bosscat Kitchen’s family-friendly and self-described “over-the-top weekend brunches” that brought it to the attention of our readers. On Saturdays and Sundays, nightlife gives over to a different vibe. And a wide menu offers plenty from which to choose.


To feed a sweet tooth there’s the Fruity Pebbles French toast or an apple cheesecake waffle. Or you can choose Southwestern favorites with a twist, such as a burrito accented with Nashville spicy fried chicken hollandaise. Or more standard fare ranging from Benedicts to bacon and eggs. And whether it’s the hair of the dog or first of the day, the bar is stocked with mimosas, Bloody Marys and Breakfast in Bed, a shot of maple bourbon, orange juice and bacon.

The test, however, is in the taste and Snooze prides itself on unique combinations. Try the Monte Cristo, made with French-toast Brioche and housemade raspberry pepper jam.

Every restaurant features a full bar with choices from mimosas to Bloody Marys, margaritas and local craft beer.

– Greg Mellen

3. Ramos House Café

31752 Los Rios St., San Juan Capistrano; 949-443-1342 ramoshouse.com Tucked away in San Juan Capistrano on what is purportedly the oldest residential street in California is the Ramos House Cafe, which has gained attention for its literally home-cooked twocourse brunch menu. Although praised for its dining throughout the week, brunches are the only weekend fare. The flavor offerings are diverse and chances are you may find something new or an interesting twist on a classic. On the sweet side there are

cinnamon apple beignets and huckleberry coffee cake on small plates. On a large plate, tuck into the blackberry pain perdu with lemon curd and mascarpone cream. On the savory side, basil cured lox with toaster points and baby herbs, and chicken and buttermilk biscuit dumplings both come come in small and large portions. Check out the orange or pomegranate mimosa, or for something with a little more kick, the Ramos House Bloody Mary, to which you can add a Scotch quail egg.


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BURGER 2. The Habit Burger Grill Multiple locations; habitburger.com

When it comes to cooking charbroiled hamburgers, The Habit Burger Grill is among the top tier of fast-casual eateries. Started in Goleta as a family-owned business in 1969, a second location opened in Ventura in 1996 and rapidly expanded from there during the ensuing decades. Now there are more than 300 sites, primarily in California. Burgers are prepared over an open flame for a smoky flavor. The menu features such burger varieties as the Santa Barbara Char (double patties, avocado, onions on sourdough), Portabella Char (mushrooms, roasted garlic aioli), Teriyaki Char with cheese (grilled pineapple), Original Impossible Burger and Veggie Burger (cucumbers, mustard on toasted wheat bun). Other options include chicken, tenderloin steak and tuna sandwiches, salads and sides like onion rings, sweet potato fries or tempura green beans. Customer service is a top priority, and Habit employees are very responsive online if an issue crops up.


The ever-popular Double Double has two beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato and In-N-Out’s own special spread.

1. In-N-Out Burger Multiple locations, in-n-out.com The epitome of comfort food in Southern California, In-N-Out has maintained its traditional core burgers and fries menu since company founders Harry and Esther Snyder opened the first small drive-thru stand in 1948. According to Chief Operating Officer Denny Warnick, they maintained a simple business philosophy: “Serve only the highest quality product, prepare it in a clean and sparkling environment, and serve it in a warm and friendly manner. These principles are still what guide us today.” “We don’t freeze, pre-package or microwave our food,” Warnick continues. “Everything is still made fresh to order, and we deliver fresh ingredients to each In-N-Out location at least every other day. Our hamburger patties are de-boned and ground from whole chucks by our own

team of butchers. To this day, locally grown produce is sliced and prepped by associates several times daily, and fresh, whole potatoes are peeled and diced by hand for made-to-order french fries. Our shakes are made from real ice cream.” In addition to ordering a hamburger, cheeseburger and Double-Double, extremely hungry customers can also triple or quadruple their patties, go bunless or try a grilled cheese from the Not So Secret Menu. There are 30 In-N-Out Burger locations in Orange County among 378 total throughout California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Texas, Oregon and Colorado. On the business side, the company supports nonprofit efforts fighting child abuse, substance abuse and human trafficking.

– George A. Paul

Irvine, Costa Mesa; burgerlounge.com People who are conscientious about exactly how their food is processed should check out Burger Lounge. Established 15 years ago in La Jolla, it uses 100 percent grass-fed and finished beef, free-range turkey and plant-based burgers. Forbes once spotlighted Burger Lounge on a top 10 list of top upstart fast-casual chains in America. There are currently 19 Southern California locations. Robert Lane, chief marketing officer, says “the healthful nature and sustainability of our menu stands out” with offerings like turkey and Keto-friendly diet burgers, two fish sandwiches, three chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, two plant-based burgers, chick’n bites, onion rings and fries. Drinks include milkshakes, a root beer float, house-made lemonade, organic brewed iced tea, batch craft soda and even premium beers and wine. Kid-sized options are available. Customer George U. of Mission Viejo wrote on Yelp that Burger Lounge has a great selection of sandwiches and was “simply a ‘wow.’” SEPTEMBER 2022 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY

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1. Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Multiple locations; raisingcanes.com Since opening its first restaurant in 1996, Raising Cane’s has been raising a ruckus in the fast food chicken market, expanding to markets across the country. Cane’s, with a growing cult following, has blown up the chicken market the way In-NOut did with burgers. “We pride ourselves on serving our Orange County Caniacs the perfect Chicken Finger box every time they visit one of our restaurants, and we can’t wait to keep being a staple in the Orange County community,” said Russell Ford, senior vice president of marketing. With a super specific concept of not just chicken, but JUST chicken fingers, Cane’s prides itself on doing one thing and doing it well. OK, so there is variation. JENNIFER CAPPUCCIO MAHER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER There is a chicken sandwich, Founder Todd Graves was told, according to the company website, that the chicken finger which is fingers on a bun. restaurant business plan he developed for a college class would never work. Sides are limited to fries, with a particular focus on chain shows few signs of spice that sets it apart. The coleslaw and Texas toast. education, pet welfare, hunger, slowing. sauces are made daily only by The dipping sauce recipe promoting active lifestyles and The company also touts its the location’s general manager. is a closely guarded secret, entrepreneurship. community involvement and California is home to about although it looks suspiciously donates food, gift cards and 40 Raising Cane’s with more like Thousand Island without services for a variety of events than 530 nationally and the – Greg Mellen the islands. There is a hint of

3. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

2. Chick-fil-A

Multiple locations; chick-fil-a.com With more than 2,800 stores nationwide, despite plenty of traditional and new competition, this chicken joint remains the cock of the walk in the fast food chicken sandwich market. Founded in 1946 as the Dwarf Grill in an Atlanta suburb and rebranded in 1967 as Chick-fil-A, the chain has been a stalwart in the market. That remains true despite its closed-on-Sunday policy. When S. Truett Cathy unveiled his concept, the idea of a restaurant focused almost solely on breaded,


Multiple locations; popeyes.com boneless, chicken breast sandwiches was considered bold and maybe a bit foolhardy. More than 75 years later, it has stood the test of time and spawned plenty of imitators. The signature remains the chicken sandwich — available in six variations, fried or grilled. Nuggets and strips with seven dipping sauces are also available as well as an array of sides and salads. The popular waffle fries and six flavors of milkshakes, including peach, are favorites. The restaurants also feature a varied breakfast menu.

When Alvin C. Copeland Sr. opened Chicken on the Run outside New Orleans in 1972, it flopped. When he reopened as Popeyes with a spicy, New Orleans-style chicken, he had a hit that continues to this day. The chain has numerous bone-in chicken and chicken tender combos from which to choose with a slew of sides that include red beans and rice, mashed potatoes macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, biscuits, plus Cajun style fries, rice and gravy. In 2019, in an effort to

replicate the successes of competitors in the chicken sandwich market, Popeyes unveiled four kinds of chicken sandwiches. There are also four kinds of fried flounder sandwiches and fried shrimp and catfish and surf and turf combos. Over the years, Popeyes has introduced and removed a number of items to the menu, some inspired, some, not so much. There has been crawfish, beer can and red stick chicken, blackened tenders, and the Thanksgiving turducken patty sandwich.


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3191 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim brewery-x.com An independent craft brewery on the La Palma Beer Trail that opened in 2019, Brewery X offers beers, lagers, ales and specializes in hard seltzer. Beers are listed under categories like European, hoppy, hazy, light, and easy and dark and malty. Micheladas come in mango, cucumber and spicy. The seltzer menu states each alcohol by volume percentage for such flavors as strawberry lemonade, mint julep, blackberry mojito and jungle juice. Food trucks rotate monthly, but Brewery X also has a limited food menu consisting of burgers, fries (you can add duck fat or crab seasoning), buffalo chicken, grilled cheese sandwiches, the popular New York style pizza and chocolate éclair pie. Live music is provided by DJs and local acts. Aside from food and drink, Brewery X regularly partners with the OC Smoke Kitchen charity — among others throughout SoCal — and is the site of monthly American Red Cross blood and plasma drives.

3. Bottle Logic Brewing 1070 N. Armando St., Anaheim 714-660-2537; bottlelogic.com PAUL RODRIGUEZ, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Best known for its rotating craft beer selections, TAPS Fish House & Brewery also serves brunch, lunch and dinner and has a sushi bar.

1. TAPS Fish House & Brewery 101 E. Imperial Highway, Brea; 714-257-0101; tapsfishhouse.com The Manzella family opened the original TAPS Fish House and Brewery in Brea in 1999. Core craft beer offerings include TAPS’ own Irish Red, Juicy Liu, and White Ale, with others from Mason Ale Works and Newtopia Cyder, plus additional rotating selections on-site. “Our best-selling beer is our American Cream Ale, which has won several gold medals over the years at The Great American Beer Festival,” says Grant Tondro, vice president of operations. Quite a number of sparkling wines, whites, and reds, plus cocktails are also served. The new food menu has “some fantastic sushi offerings,” Tondro notes and adds the Fish House restaurants are best known for Chilean seabass. That dish was recently tweaked but 94

TAPS still has “our traditional plating that has been on the menu for over 20 years.” Elsewhere, customers can order clams, shrimp, salmon, fish and chips, calamari, steak and six different salads. Crème brÛlée, lava cake and s’mores are among the dessert items Happy hour fare is highlighted by stone oven pizzas, fish tacos, chowder fries and truffle bacon sliders. It runs 3-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 3-5 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays. The popular Sunday brunch is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Also within the company umbrella is the production brewery/tasting room in Tustin and a TAPS Brewery + Kitchen in Yorba Linda. TAPS Great American Brewery is also slated for Anaheim this year.

– George A. Paul

Originally a garage hobby for brewmaster Wes Parker, Bottle Logic opened a tasting room in 2014, serving six beers off a 15-barrel system. Currently, there are more than 400 beers and 30 additional ones brewed on an expanded 30-barrel main side system or 7-barrel experimental pilot system. The most popular selections are barrel-aged stouts, smoothie-style fruit-laden sours and Lightning in a Bottle cocktail-inspired barrel-aged offerings. The website is consistently updated. Rotating food trucks provide food. There is a shaded patio and indoor tables. “We’re motivated by creating ‘aha’ moments for our guests — whether that’s with a palate-expanding new beer or hosting unique experiences in our tasting room,” says Creative Director Lindsay Langton. “There will always be a frontier to explore,” she continues. “Nothing is more thrilling than a mind-blowing beer. We brew beers for people with curious minds and adventurous palates and specialize in vibrant, innovative flavors in both fresh and barrel-aged products.”


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6410 E. Chapman Ave., Orange; 714-9972910; theorangehillrestaurant.com With its setting and spectacular views, this upscale steakhouse perennially scores high with readers. In addition to its popularity as a restaurant, Orange Hill is a much sought after event space. The eatery bills itself as “a hilltop hideaway offering prime steaks and primo views.” Inside and out, Orange Hill takes full advantage of its not-to-be missed vistas with a wraparound patio and floor to ceiling windows. The grounds also feature waterfalls, koi ponds and fire pits. The menu features highlights for red meat and seafood lovers alike. Steaks include a 48-ounce black Angus tomahawk, or a steak progressive, with four cuts of premium steak. On the sea side, diners can choose among lobster, shrimp, salmon and bass. Or pile it up with the restaurant’s seafood tower with East and West coast oysters and other assorted shellfish. A full bar is available and features a number of home-designed craft cocktails.

3. The Cellar Restaurant 305 N. Harbor Blvd.; Fullerton 714-525-5682; cellardining.com CINDY YAMANAKA, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Every evening at The Hobbit begins with champagne and hors d’oeuvres in the wine cellar. Diners then proceed to their tables for a six-course, French-inspired meal.

1. The Hobbit 2932 E. Chapman Ave., Orange; 714-997-1972; hobbitrestaurant.com Imagine going to a friend’s house for an evening. Assuming, that is, that your friend is a renowned chef with a 1,000-bottle wine cellar. And imagine you’d been waiting months to be invited. That’s kind of what awaits the patrons at The Hobbit, a restaurant where dining is described as an “experience.” At the fine-dining Anaheim restaurant, there is one seating, from 7 to 11 p.m. The Hobbit, tucked in a beautifully appointed 1930s house, has been a notso-well-kept secret since 1972. The restaurant offers a six-course, prix-fixe menu of French-inspired cuisine chosen by the chef, Wednesday through Sunday. The menu is seasonal and there is one main entrée per week. Diners can find the main course for their reservation

date on the restaurant’s website under “upcoming entrees.” There is an alternate to the evening’s main course for an added fee. The evening begins in the cellar with champagne and hors d’oeuvres over which diners can decide on the wine to have with dinner. Help with pairings is available. The evening continues with a course of shellfish, fowl or light meat and a salad. After a break during which diners can visit the patio or wander into the kitchen and speak with the chef and friendly staff, it’s back to the table. After a palate cleansing sorbet comes a main dish then dessert and liqueurs.

– Greg Mellen

With its historic ambiance, its location tucked beneath the Villa del Sol and décor by the set designers of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyland, The Cellar delights in being called OC’s best hidden secret. The restaurant invites diners to “Take a step back in time and join us downstairs.” As with other date-night getaway eateries, The Cellar is about both the menu and the experience. Luckily, diners are covered on both ends. The menu is limited but top notch. The signature dish is a classic Chateaubriand for two from a center-cut 20-ounce Cape Grimm filet mignon and carved tableside. Other steaks, sea food, duck and lamb are available. The Cellar has a nice wine list and mixologists known to create new cocktails daily. Oh, and check out the Grotto, where a number of historic Hollywood canoodlings have occurred. SEPTEMBER 2022 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY

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Every doughnut at The Donuttery is hand-crafted, fresh and great tasting thanks to a dedicated production staff.

1. The Donuttery

17420 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach 714-847-7000; www.thedonutteryhb.com There is something about a small, intimate, doughnut-diner coffee shop that pulls people together with a sense of belonging and community. “Perhaps that is why old-timers stay, and newcomers return,” said Alyssa Chan, assistant director, Restaurant Operations, for The Donuttery. “After the madness of National Donut Day, June 3rd, our staff cheered with exhaustion that we survived another year,” she said. “It has been a hectic and challenging year for us with the ebb and flow of staff and supply shortages.” Chan added that The Donuttery’s ranking among the best doughnut shops in Orange County “is a testament to our incredible team, their dedication and relentless drive to produce really great tasting doughnuts, ones that could bring our community joy and momentary reprieve from the pandemic.” Chan called The Donuttery “a charming, oldtime, well-worn juxtaposition to the modern era of loopy invention and Instagram-ready dessert art.” Preserving traditional flavors is important. “Every doughnut is still hand-crafted with misfits and imperfections, and prizing freshness and process above all,” she said. “We are constantly chasing for perfection — finding that synergy between texture and flavor. Our production staff has dedicated immense time and resources to studying, testing and experimenting with many varieties of flours for the purpose of extracting their natural flavors and utility for yielding the perfect crust and crumb.” In the future, The Donuttery hopes to expand its vegan and gluten-free options.

– Amy Bentley


2. Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee 270 E. 17th St., #18, Costa Mesa 949-873-5424 sidecardoughnuts.com

Sidecar’s flagship location in Costa Mesa opened in 2013. The Sidecar story began with a warehouse-turned-test kitchen and a renovated 1959 Helms Bakery Truck. The creators asked friends and family over to weekly taste test gatherings, and they took their truck around town to share fresh doughnuts with the neighbors. Sidecar’s doughnuts eventually made numerous “best of” lists including The Register’s, and they were featured on food programs on the Cooking Channel and Food Network. The doughnuts are made daily from scratch and are fried in organic, sustainable palm oil. Doughnuts are made throughout the day in small batches so the doughnuts are always fresh. Unique flavors include dulce de leche churro, maple bacon, celebration cake, Saigon cinnamon crumb, passion fruit pavlova, lemon poppyseed, basil eggs Benedict and cream and butter and salt.

3. Oliboli Donuts

1​ 35 W First St., Tustin 714-760-4876; www.oliboli.com Orange County natives Victor and Brooke Desprez run Oliboli along with daughter Hailey and son Hunter. The family opened Oliboli Donuts in October 2018. “We love our customers and strive to make each one of them feel at home,” Brooke said. The family prides itself on their baking methods. “Oliboli Donuts is a family-run business that specializes in naturally leavened, sourdough donuts. We bulk-rise our dough for 40 hours and we fry them to order. We also offer tender cake doughnuts made with house-milled white Sonora wheat flour and kefir. We work with the seasons and source locally as much as possible. Many neighbors supply us with Meyer lemons from their backyards and we work with small farms for many of our other fruits and toppings,” Brooke said. Original flavors include the Bumbleberry, a vanilla cake filled and glazed with a “bumble” of berries like wild blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries; and the Banoffee, topped with fresh banana slices, banana whipped cream, toffee sauce and streusel.


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1. Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar Multiple locations; www.lazydogrestaurants.com Lazy Dog is a fun eatery for humans and their fourlegged friends, offering a large, eclectic menu of American food and a menu for hungry doggies too. Lazy Dog Restaurants in Orange County are located in Brea, Huntington Beach, Irvine and Orange. Lazy Dog is well-known for its cozy atmosphere and dog-friendly outdoor seating. Fido and Fluffy can enjoy a fresh bowl of water and a meal off the dog menu of a grilled hamburger patty or a grilled chicken breast, served with brown rice and veggies. Lazy Dog Chief Executive Officer and Founder Chris Simms, a Southern California native, says on the company COURTESY PHOTO website that he wanted to Street corn fries is one of the newest additions to the menu at Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar, create a casual restaurant which offers family meals that serve four to five people. that reminded him of the good times he spent in the hospitality to our guests, Chang’s and Mimi’s Café, which Costa Mesa. Rocky Mountains with his and we’re grateful for the “We’re very excited to be was founded by his grandfather, family, enjoying warm, rustic recognition. We work hard Arthur J. Simms, and his father, voted one of the best familyhospitality. Simms has been friendly restaurants in Orange to make this a special place Tom Simms. Chris and his dad involved in the restaurant where family and friends can County,” Chris Simms said. opened the first Lazy Dog in business all of his life, Huntington Beach in 2003 and “Lazy Dog has a long-standing create memories.” previously working with P.F. tradition of providing great the corporate offices are in – Amy Bentley

2. Keno’s Restaurant

5750 East La Palma Ave., Anaheim Hills; 714-777-9511 www.kenosrestaurant.com Open now for nearly 40 years, Keno’s keeps evolving to stay up with the times while still offering its popular pancakes, fried chicken and other family favorites at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The oldest restaurant in Anaheim Hills, Keno’s has live entertainment and weekend concerts, and now offers its outdoor entertainment venue space for private events. The lounge area has been converted into Geno’s Steakhouse, an upscale dining option named after owner Steve Cooper’s late father, Gene, who worked at Keno’s for 25 years.

At least one popular feature hasn’t changed, however: Tuesday nights are still Chicken Night, a Keno’s tradition since it first opened in 1983. “We are family-owned and community-focused. We’re a classic independent American restaurant that will hopefully be here to serve many generations. We thank our loyal patrons who voted for Keno’s Restaurant, as well as the Orange County Register for sharing our love of food with the rest of the community,” said Steve Cooper, whose family took ownership of Keno’s in 1993.

3. Spires Restaurant

13451 Newport Ave., Tustin; 714-544-0631 spiresrestaurants.com In 1965, John Haretakis, an immigrant from Greece, founded Spires Restaurants with the first location in Anaheim. At the time, a New York steak dinner cost $2.55. Spires is known for its oldschool, traditional American fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and comfort food like bacon, avocado and cheese omelets; a fried chicken dinner; and chocolate fudge cake. Senior citizens enjoy senior special and half-sandwich offerings, and customers appreciate the nostalgia in the décor from decades past. At one time, there were

more than 30 Spires locations in Southern California, with others in Texas. Now there are just seven in SoCal — Carson, Lawndale, Long Beach, Ontario, two locations in Torrance and the one in Orange County. Customer Christine from Tustin wrote the following review on Yelp about the Tustin Spires Restaurant: “One of the rare Spires locations that is still in business today, please don’t change this!! Such nostalgic vibes when my family and I frequented other locations growing up. The food is still as delicious as ever!”


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Multiple locations; www.yogurt-land.com Yogurtland has made many “best of” lists, including being named among the Top Food Franchises by Entrepreneur magazine in 2019. Yogurtland opened its first store in Fullerton in 2006 and today has more than 250 locations in the United States and worldwide, including in Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Anaheim, Orange, Irvine and Tustin. “We are incredibly honored to win this award in Orange County which is our home. We are so happy to know that our guests love our frozen yogurt, as our mission is to share love, joy and hope with our guests. We sincerely thank our guests for the continued support,” said Yogurtland founder and CEO Phillip Chang. Chang credited much of Yogurtland’s popularity to its flavors. “We have over 250 unique flavors developed by our highly trained flavorologists and food scientists. We continue to put a lot of love and care into developing new flavors, keeping our guests’ taste buds and market trends in mind. Such great recent flavors as Strawberry Mango Sorbet, Plant-Based Brown Sugar Vanilla and Lucky Irish Mint Cream arrived at our stores after going through a rigorous R&D and tasting process,” Chang said. LEONARD ORTIZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Sundaes, hurricanes, shakes, ice cream sandwiches and Handel pops are on the menu if a cone doesn’t fulfill your ice cream needs.

1. Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt Multiple locations; handelsicecream.com Handel’s has been scooping muchloved ice cream since 1945 when Alice Handel created this ice cream brand in Youngstown, Ohio, using fresh fruit from her backyard garden and her own recipes. Handel’s ice cream became a neighborhood favorite and is still a popular sweet treat today. Handel’s stores offer dozens of flavors, from banana cream pie to black cherry to cinnamon roll to peanut butter parfait to pineapple upside-down cake. There are also vegan, fat-free and sugarfree options and sorbets, including pink champagne sorbet and vegan apricot sorbet. Patrons can enjoy a cake cone, sugar cone, waffle cone (hand-dipped in chocolate or not), or a waffle bowl.


There’s an option to make it a sundae by adding caramel, marshmallow, strawberry, peanut butter and hot fudge toppings, plus whipped cream and a cherry on top. And there’s Handel’s ice cream-on-a-stick treat: vanilla, chocolate or mint chocolate chip ice cream covered in gourmet chocolate and served on a stick. Another Handel’s original is their blended Hurricanes drinks. Handel’s has over 80 stores in at least 10 states and several locations in Orange County, including in Newport Beach, Lake Forest, Laguna Nigel and Rancho Santa Margarita. A new local shop opened in February at The Market Place in Irvine.

– Amy Bentley

3. House of Yogurt

369 East 17th St., Costa Mesa 949-335-5565; houseofyogurt.com

House of Yogurt in Costa Mesa, a family-owned business that opened in 2008, likes to brag that theirs is the store that made yogurt exciting again. House of Yogurt offers 10 house flavors along with four special flavors that rotate. House flavors include standard favorites in the yogurt world like Fancy French Vanilla, Ghirardelli chocolate, salted caramel, cookies and cream and strawberry banana. House of Yogurt developed their own blends and secret recipes using real skim milk. If you prefer, they’ll transform your frozen yogurt treat into a smoothie. House of Yogurt expressed their gratitude to all their customers when told of their win. “As a small family-run business, thank you to all of you who voted for us as (a) Best Frozen Yogurt destination in OC. ... Our goal is to make you feel right at home.”


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Voted Best Italian Restaurant Winner 13 Year’s In A Row!

Celebrating our 22nd Anniversary!

Where Fine Dining is Affordable. W

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HAPPY HOUR 2. Newport Landing Restaurant

503 E. Edgewater, Newport Beach; 949-675-2373; newport-landing.com

Want a panoramic view of some of OC’s finest locales while eating and drinking? Then look no further than Newport Landing Restaurant. Opened in 1986, it is perched on the waterfront overlooking Balboa Ferry with sightlines of Newport Harbor, Balboa Island and Saddleback peaks. Patrons can settle in the upstairs Oyster Bar for what is called “the longest happy hour in town” from noon to 6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. The special menu is extensive, containing garlic bread, butternut squash soup, parmesan garlic and truffle fries, a Baja taco with battered cod, fried zucchini, sweet potato fries, chicken tenders, chargrilled oysters, New England clam chowder, buffalo cauliflower, Mahi taco, sauteed Chilean mussels, shrimp and scallop ceviche, calamari tempura, Ahi tuna nachos, steamed clams, coconut shrimp and more. Newport Landing emphasizes its fresh steaks and hamburgers, natural steroid-free chicken breasts, daily fresh breads and fresh locally sourced produce. A local California wine list, craft beers and tropical drinks are also available.


Friends Ana Aguilar and Elaine Vu-Shin right, conduct a video call during their lunch at La Vida Cantina in Costa Mesa.

1. La Vida Cantina 1870 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa; 949-612-2349; lavidacantina.com This year, La Vida Cantina has the honor of placing in two Best of OC categories (the other being Best Bar). Owner Alex Petrosian says his happy hour, which runs all day Mondays and 3-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, is “perfect for the 9-5 worker looking for that after work cocktail while watching our gorgeous Southern California sunset.” Drinks on the happy hour menu include the house margarita, chardonnay, cabernet, and champagne, plus beers and well drinks. Nachos, taquitos, Borracho fries and crispy taco plates of either chicken, beef or potato are among the food offering during those periods. Scott D. of Rancho Palos Verdes wrote on Yelp that La Vida Cantina


has “amazing drinks in a lively atmosphere” and was “definitely a pleasant surprise. The music was fun, and the eclectic décor fit perfectly with the overall style. The drinks were perfectly made, and really tied the place together. We tried the mango margarita and the blood orange margarita. They were each unique and dressed up with all the trimmings.” Dave H. of Fountain Valley wrote, “If you’re visiting the OC or a local, this is the spot where it’s happening. From the food to the drink selection to the music and overall vibe, it deserves an A+. I’ve been coming here for over five years, and it never get old.”

— George A. Paul

3. El Torito Multiple locations, eltorito.com El Torito, the Mexican restaurant established in 1954, has happy hour specials that are aimed squarely at the budget conscious customer. The cantina offerings begin at 3 p.m. daily, though some locations differ. Xperience Restaurant Group CEO Randy Sharpe says El Torito’s “daily happy hour is the perfect time to get a taste of the warm hospitality and high quality, heritage recipes that we are known for.” He adds that the company proudly gives guests “the option to enjoy some of our signature items at affordable prices” and “there really is something for everyone.” The signature margarita is a happy hour favorite. “Guests enjoy making it their own with various fruit flavor options like Midori melon or strawberry. Our jalapeño cucumber margarita is also very popular for those who want something spicy and refreshing. In terms of food, our mini tacos, and our chicken flautas” are also ordered frequently.


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1. Fratellino’s by Cesar Lomeli 600 S. Brea Blvd., Brea; 714-255-9100; fratellinos.com These are tough times for restaurants, but through it all Fratellino’s not only soldiers on but maintains high quality and wild popularity for its cuisine, both in the restaurant and for takeout. For the 12th straight year, Cesar Lomeli’s restaurant has placed among the top 3 in the Best of Orange County. “It looks like people still love Fratellino’s,” Lomeli said. “They don’t get tired of us. They feel they have a good restaurant and they don’t want to lose us.” This year on Mother’s Day, lines were out the door. When the pandemic struck, Lomeli was able to quickly shift to a takeout menu that continues to thrive. While many restaurants have either cut staff, service or their menus, Fratellino’s remains resolute on maintaining a full menu and full staffing. The restaurant is also a popular caterer for large events. “We still have a good product and the service to stay on top,” Lomeli said. Walk into the family restaurant and an Old World


Fratellino’s by Cesar Lomeli in Brea was voted best Italian restaurant in the OC Register’s 2022 Best of Orange County contest. Shown is Fratellino’s Deluxe Pizza with assorted side dishes. Italian atmosphere is evident down to the mural of an Italian lake that surrounds the dining area. The menu consists of

2. Roma D’Italia

611 El Camino Real, Tustin; 714-544-0273; romaditalia.com Roma D’Italia has been an Old Town dining destination for more than 60 years and bills itself as Tustin’s original family-owned Italian restaurant. The Dominic Corea family founded the restaurant, and the recipes of Nina Corea remain a staple. The menu features an abbondanza of choices, including 15 signature pastas, 14 seafood dishes as well as chicken, eggplant, hot sandwiches and a variety of pizzas. All meals are accompanied by the restaurant’s homemade Italian bread.

Exterior neon lighting notwithstanding, the dining area is casual and Old World-y, down to the checkerboard tablecloths. Outdoor dining on the patio is also available and has become popular. A family tradition, second and third generations of the Corea family have continuously operated the restaurant. There is a generous lunch menu. Check out the homemade specialty breads with pepperoni, sausage or spinach and glazed with garlic butter, topped with Romano cheese.

Italian staples in generous portions: lasagnas, eggplant or veal parmigiana, shrimp scampi, chicken cacciatore, plus pizza, sandwiches and

salads Lunch specials are available seven days a week.

— Greg Mellen

3. Sabatino’s Lido Shipyard Sausage Company

251 Shipyard Way, Cabin D, Newport Beach; 949-723-0621 sabatinoschicagosausage.com

If you want to go authentically old school and Old World, this is your place. According to the restaurant’s literature, it is famous for its unique sausage. The family has been making its own sausage since the company started in Sicily in 1864. Part of the secret, they say, is a special imported Sicilian goat cheese. Given that, a natural choice would be the World Famous Sizzling Sausage Platter, served with sautéed

bell peppers, onions and a marinara sauce on the side. If you want to go a little less sausage-specific, the links can be found in a half-dozen other dishes as well as as a side dish. There is also a homemade turkey sausage. The restaurant is also open for breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch. Sabatino’s also runs a pizza and deli in Newport for “gourmet takeout,” and has outdoor seating and catering


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1. Avila’s El Ranchito Multiple locations; avilaselranchito.com With a family legacy dating back to the ’60s and recipes handed down from Mexico, Avila’s El Ranchito restaurants are owned or operated by Avila relatives in 11 OC cities. The sites often sport unique characteristics: Costa Mesa is the test kitchen. Orange was once a church. San Clemente and Huntington Beach have nods to surf culture. Maribel Avila Ley, who oversees three locations, says customers can find core, original food items at each site, such as Mama Avila’s Soup, chile rellenos and carnitas. Local favorites cater to specific clientele. For example, Laguna Beach serves fresh fish and vegan options; Santa Ana has chile verde and menudo. Other offerings include authentic botanas (shrimp or pork), fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, handmade tortillas, seafood, quesadillas, tostadas, vegetarian options and more. Check the website for menus specific to each city. “I truly believe our niche is in our history, says Marcus


Mama Avila’s Soup is chock-full of chicken, rice and avocado, all floating in a flavorful broth. Avila, owner of the Orange and Laguna Niguel restaurants. “We have been serving authentic Mexican food and stayed true to our grandmother’s and mother’s — depending on what

2. Rodrigo’s Mexican Grill Multiple locations; rodrigos.com

Originally christened Don Jose’s upon opening in 1972, the restaurant chain was founded by Roderick Fraser, a World War II pilot from Oregon, and wife Patricia, an Orange native, who met at a dance when the former was stationed in Santa Ana. They went into the restaurant business during the late 1960s. All locations were brought under the new brand, Rodrigo’s Mexican Grill, in 2018. The name is a tribute to Rod. Regulars at Rodrigo’s Mexican Grill tend to rave about the warm tortilla chips and fresh salsa, refilled as often as you want, at some point in describing their meals. The


Sunday Champagne Brunch runs 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Happy hour is 3-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. According to Suzanne Fish, vice president of marketing, the ultimate fajitas with steak, chicken and shrimp is a best seller. “Our seafood chalupa salad with shrimp is another favorite. Housemade churros with our abuelita spiced chocolate sauce, a more recent addition to our menu, has quickly become our fastest selling dessert. We have generations of families that have celebrated many family dinners together here over 50 years. We pride ourselves on being a family restaurant for all ages.”

generation you are in — recipes since 1966.” The items that tend to consistently resonate with customers, Marcus Avila explains, are “tried and

true” ones like a handmade margarita (the drink menu lists a dozen of the signature Avila’s drink), tacos and cold beer.

– George A. Paul

3. Blue Agave Southwest Grill

18601 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda; 714-970-5095 blueagaveswgrill.com Focusing on culinary flavors from Mexico, South America and the American Southwest, Blue Agave Southwest Grill opened in 1994. Among the offerings are pork belly tacos, Mesquite grilled fish, grilled skirt steak, Yucatan-style chicken, Apache chicken quemada, Barbacoa beef enchiladas, sautéed mahi mahi, Mazatlán mango wrap and Puerto Nuevo tostada. The nearly dozen appetizers include plantain nachos, Southwestern chicken and steak skewers, tequila citrus flautas and Montego Bay coconut shrimp. There are salads and soups too.

The cantina offers various tequilas, beer, wine, and cocktails, including 10 varieties of magarita and seven different martinis. Yelp reviewer Tammy B. of Anaheim described the “excellent fajitas” as “some of the best we’ve ever eaten. Both the chicken and steak are always tender and flavorful. They are served atop sizzling red and green bell peppers, then topped with shredded zucchini and cabbage. They come with your choice of flour or corn tortillas and refried black beans, rice, guacamole, and a tasty corn cake. Perfection.”


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The Cliff’s multilevel patio offers diners sweeping views of the coast as they enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner.

1. The Cliff Restaurant 577 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach 949-494-1956; thecliffrestaurant.com If “location, location, location” is indeed so important when it comes to real estate, then The Cliff Restaurant in Laguna Beach has that in spades. Diners are treated to breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean from the restaurant’s patio all day long while they enjoy open-air dining seaside. The Cliff Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, with happy hour from 3-6 p.m., Monday through Friday. There’s also live entertainment and live music most nights of the week, with the entertainment schedule posted on the restaurant’s website. The restaurant’s owners are grateful to their patrons and their staff for the recognition in the Best of Orange County. “My sister, Kathy Gibson, and I are always so proud to be recognized by our customers and the community for the delicious food of our chefs, the hard work of our wonderful staff, and our fantastic view,” said Sharon Haron, managing partner of The Cliff Restaurant, which was built in 1981 by Gibson’s and Haron’s father, Ed Olson Jr. “We want to thank you and say how sincerely grateful we are for all the wonderful support from our fantastic customers at The Cliff.” Breakfast favorites include chicken and waffles, eggs, omelets, French toast or eggs Benedict. Salads, soups, sandwiches, Mexican dishes, burgers, seafood dishes and hot dogs complete the lunch menu. For dinner, pasta joins the lineup with specialties like macadamia chicken, steak and surf and turf.

– Amy Bentley

2. The Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar, San Clemente

3. Rancho Capistrano Winery Ladera Ranch, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano ranchocapwinery.com

611 Avenida Victoria, San Clemente 949-498-6390; thefishermansrestaurantsanclemente.com The Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar San Clemente opened in 1982 on the San Clemente Pier, a year after a sister restaurant called Pier 57 opened in Seattle. “I can’t find another restaurant that’s like my restaurant. You get the sea and the seafood,” said Valarie Daugherty, manager of The Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar San Clemente. Fried calamari, crab and shrimp cocktails, clams, mussels, coconut shrimp, clam chowder in a sourdough bowl and oysters Rockefeller … classic favorites featuring fish and seafood from the Pacific northwest pack a full menu. Pair your meal with a daily happy hour special for drink bargains and on Wine Wednesdays, bottles of wine are half price. Fresh fish selections also are offered and are sourced daily, Daugherty said. “We stay up on that 100 percent every day, calling around and finding what we can to bring the freshest fish to our customers,” she said.

Rancho Capistrano Winery is Orange County’s largest winery and an award-winning restaurant with three locations: San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente and Ladera Ranch. The winery, which has won many previous “best of” awards, features more than 30 wines from Paso Robles, Napa Valley, and the Walla Walla wine regions. All three locations offer outdoor dining. Visitors have wine tasting opportunities at the bar or in the wine-tasting room with a reservation. Join the wine club as a member and enjoy two bottles of wine each month as well as other benefits like a complementary glass of wine on each visit. Winery owner Kyle Franson said the San Juan Capistrano location is extra special, with its big, blazing fireplace on a 3,000-square-foot patio that is dog-friendly. “It’s a closed patio in old downtown San Juan Capistrano in a historic building,” he said. “It’s got a lot of the Mission-style architecture and people can see the mission nearby. We’re at the train station so people can take the train and walk across to us.”


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1. Tony’s Little Italy 1808 N. Placentia Ave., Unit B, Placentia; 714-528-2159; tonyslittleitaly.com Thin crust, extra-thin crust, or thick, deep dish Chicagostyle pizza — Tony’s Little Italy is the place for a delicious fresh pizza no matter where the toppings are placed. Tony’s Little Italy has been a family-owned and operated favorite pizza restaurant since 1978. Founder Tony Manzella, a native of Palermo, Italy, first opened a pizza restaurant in Chicago when he was 21 years old. He and his wife, Rosalie, ran their Chicago restaurant for over 20 years then continued the tradition at their new eatery in Placentia when the family moved to Southern California. Tony Manzella passed away in 2021 on National Pizza Day. Today his family — including Rosalie and son Tony Jr. — carries on the tradition. Tony Manzella Jr. said he has been working in the family business since he was a child. “We do everything ourselves. Everything is homemade, from scratch. My dad taught me everything,” he said. “We make everything for our customers


The hand-tossed Tony’s special pizza has sausage, pepperoni, mushroom, green pepper, and onion. like it’s for our family. ” All pizzas are made fresh to order from the finest ingredients and the pizza dough is made on the premises. Tony’s

2. Sgt. Pepperoni

Aliso Viejo, Irvine, Newport Beach; SgtPepps.com Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza Store has been spreading love through pizza since 1976, making fresh dough, pizza sauce and desserts, and hand-grating cheese daily. The owners/partners expressed gratitude for their win. “Continuing to be honored among the best at our craft is very meaningful to us,” said Rob Dodman, one of the owners. “Our standards are unique in our industry with our commitment to being a scratch kitchen at each location, and it is invigorating to see that our customers recognize this and continue to appreciate and


support us. It is because of this support that we’ve grown from one store to three through the pandemic and are experiencing sales growth at each of our locations.” “We are so grateful to receive such a tremendous acknowledgment, and none of this would be possible without our incredible staff and team members who work tirelessly, day in and day out.” Sgt. Pepperoni’s is also charitable, donating Lego kits to children at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and providing free pizza to local police and first responders to thank them for their service.

offers a variety of toppings including sausage, pepperoni, hamburger, artichoke, Canadian bacon, pineapple, mushrooms, anchovies, olives, green pepper, onion, chicken,

garlic and jalapeño. Also on the menu are appetizers, pasta entrees, Italian sandwiches and an Italian favorite — cannoli — for dessert.

– Amy Bentley

3. Zito’s Pizza

Multiple locations; zitospizza.com Zito’s philosophy about its pizzas can be summed up in the word “abbondanza,” which means “abundance” or “plenty” in the Italian language. Zito’s says its large pepperoni pizza has at least 50 pepperoni slices on it and that every large Zito’s pizza is covered with nearly a pound of fresh mozzarella cheese. “The key to our success has been from our loyal customers, some of whom have been dining with us since we opened 34 years ago. We are thankful for their continued support, especially during these trying times, and for making

us a community favorite,” Zito’s said regarding news of its placement in Best of Orange County. “Zito’s is a family-owned restaurant serving the community of Orange since 1988. We only use the best ingredients available for all our menu items, providing our customers with a topquality product. “Other pizzerias claim to have the best ingredients, but unlike them we make our dough daily and ship our cheese from Wisconsin. We have more than just pizza to choose from including our famous homemade garlic and dessert knots.”


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The Crab Cooker’s founder, Bob Roubian, learned mesquite broiling as a young man and the restaurants still uses it today.

1. The Crab Cooker Newport Beach, Tustin; 949-673-0100, 714-573-1077 facebook.com/TheCrabCooker The Crab Cooker has gone through some tumultuous times in recent years, including the 2018 demolition of its original Newport Beach location due to seismic damage from nearby construction and then the pandemic. However, the popular family seafood spot, which modestly proclaims “world’s best” for its

seafood and chowder, is back in a big way, landing in the top spot of our annual list. Founded in 1951 and focused solely on seafood, through its restaurants and fish market, the Crab Cooker has been a go-to spot for the best from the briny deep. Originally a funky place known to locals in Newport

2. King’s Fish House

Huntington Beach, Laguna Hills, Orange kingsfishhouse.com King’s Fish House remains royalty among readers and diners in Orange County. Home based in Costa Mesa, the chain has expanded over the years to three locations in Orange County, plus eight more in the other parts of Southern California, plus Arizona and Nevada. With its motto, “The House that Seafood Built,” it’s easy to guess where the emphasis lies. As owner of its own distributor, King’s Seafood Distribution, the restaurants

assure themselves of the cream of the catch. Kings has seasonal menus on which there can be surprising finds, such as Australian spiny lobster that King’s was able to have shipped live to the U.S. There is also Alaskan salmon and halibut in season and a whole fish New Zealand Pink Bream. King’s purchases more than 4 million oysters per year, 10 varieties of which can be found at the raw bar, along with other chilled shellfish.

Beach, it now has two locations. The restaurant features fresh Pacific-caught Dungeness crab, Alaskan red king crab legs and claws, king salmon, scallops, oysters and lobster. Don’t forget the catch of the day, which can include white sea bass, halibut, swordfish and mahi mahi. The fish is generally mesquite broiled with light seasoning to let the fish’s flavors shine through. The service and vibe

are casual, old-school fish house. Meals are served on paper plates, there are no reservations and seating is first come, first served. The seating is functional and the decor is uniquely fish-kitschy. The attached fish market is open seven days a week. As owner Jim Wasko once told The Register, “The whole point is to change as little as possible when you’ve got a family-owned restaurant that’s been a hit for 70 years.”

– Greg Mellen

3. The Black Marlin

560 El Camino Real, Tustin; 714-929-7427 blackmarlinrestaurant.com The Black Marlin prides itself as being a small neighborhood restaurant that can duke it out with the big boys and provide unique service, meals and tastes that you won’t find elsewhere. The restaurant’s location in the historic Tustin Garage is fitting because owners say they offer “full service” dining. The title of the restaurant lets you know seafood is the focus, but you can also try steaks, ribs and chicken. However, the stars of the show are the signature seafood dishes prepared

with the recipes of longtime executive chef Alfonso Gonzales, who is constantly experimenting with flavor combinations. Recipes for dishes such as halibut and sea bass can change every two to three days; diners are encouraged to ask the server about the day’s preparation. The restaurant also features seasonal lunch and Sunday brunch menus. The bar features a wide array of handcrafted cocktails, and there is live music on Sunday afternoons.


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STEAKHOUSE 2. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

Anaheim, Irvine; ruthschris.com Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse diners don’t have to worry about their steak getting lukewarm. The company’s broiling method guarantees each USDA prime cut arrives sizzling atop a 500-degree plate. Founder/single mother Ruth Fertel bought the fledgling New Orleans Chris Steak House in 1965. She turned the restaurant’s finances around. Nine years later, it had been renamed and relocated and Fertel franchised the concept soon after. The steaks are individually cut in servings ranging from 8 to 40 ounces and 1.5- to 2-inch thickness. They are cooked to reach 1,800 degrees in a specially designed broiler, seasoned and finished with butter and fresh parsley. Many fresh appetizers and side dishes originated from Fertel’s recipes and are portioned to share. Regional Vice President Nik Talwar says the restaurant uses the highest-quality beef. “These cuts are well marbled and hand-selected for thickness and tenderness.” He adds that guests can also enjoy fresh seafood, scratch-made side dishes and desserts, craft cocktails and choice wines. PAUL RODRIGUEZ, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Quality, consistency and hospitality have guided Morton’s development, according to the restaurant’s history on its website.

1. Morton’s Anaheim, Santa Ana; mortons.com This fine dining establishment traces its roots to co-founders Arnie Morton and Klaus Fritsch, who both worked at Montreal’s Playboy Club. Legend has it that Fritsch crafted a hamburger for the club’s new menu Morton thought was scrumptious. They opened Morton’s of Chicago in 1978. Now there are more than 65 locations across North America. Scott Crain, chief operating officer and senior vice president, cites the lobster ravioli, dry age bone-in K.C. strip and herb roasted cauliflower as some new menu additions that have gone over well with customers. “Our commitment to top quality food and unparalleled service is unwavering,” he says. “We strive to provide our patrons with the best possible experience every time and that consistency makes us stand out amongst others in the 106

industry.” The dinner menu lists nine appetizers (including Maine lobster ravioli and bacon-wrapped sea scallops), six soups or salads (baked French onion, lobster bisque) and a Raw Bar featuring oysters on the half shell and ahi tuna poke. Wagyu filet and tomahawk ribeye are among the butcher cuts, plus 8 prime steaks and chops, chef’s selections and signature sides (sauteed spinach and button mushrooms; baked corn souffle). Select Club membership holders receive various rewards plus earned points for every dollar spent. E-club members have access to exclusive, behind-the-scenes events ranging from mixology classes, wine and chocolate pairings to winemaker dinners and rare scotch tastings.

– George A. Paul

3. The Capital Grille

3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa 714-432-1140; thecapitalgrille.com Another fine dining restaurant, The Capital Grille launched in Rhode Island in 1990. The Costa Mesa location has African mahogany paneling and Art Deco chandeliers for a warm, stately setting. Managing Partner Michael Callahan says the restaurant provides “personalized service in an atmosphere of relaxed elegance” and a dedication to culinary excellence, thanks to “our in-house butcher who hand cuts and dry ages all steaks in-house and our skilled pastry chef who prepares desserts each morning from scratch.” The main dinner courses encompass steaks, chicken, seafood, burgers, oysters, steak tartare, lobster, crab cakes, shrimp, and calamari appetizers and more. Some dishes are made to share; Capital Grille sells steak grille boxes to-go for home cooking.


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1. Shunka Sushi & Japanese Cuisine 369 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa; 949-631-9854; shunkasushi.com It’s right there in the name. According to the restaurant, “Shunka” translates into “flavor of the season,” and the Costa Mesa sushi bar selects fish imported daily from Japan and fruits to match the season. The restaurant lists more than 75 species of fish that can be imported from Japan. However, equally important to Yuki Takishima, a renowned former chef-turned-owner, is the service. “I tell the employees they have to have warm service, like you would have for family or a boyfriend or girlfriend. Takishima said. And that comes through in the care the chefs put into every meal. Although diners can order teriyaki chicken or tempura, that’s not why discerning eaters come to Shunka. CINDY YAMANAKA, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER The restaurant features an Yuki Takishima, executive chef/owner, serves guests at his Costa Mesa restaurant, Shunka Sushi, omakase menu, in which designed by his wife who greets customers at the door. diners place their palates in Surely that is why a largely necessary. the hands of classically trained selections catered to personal Japanese clientele packs this tastes. The restaurant also has a sushi and sashimi chefs. place.” This authenticity helps wide array of sake to pair with These taste maestros, with The restaurant boasts explain why a Michelin review meals. bounteous fish from which to that its fish are so flavorful choose, are known for crafting noted of the omakase menu, that no wasabi or sauces are “there is no sign of fusion. impeccable and delicious – Greg Mellen

2. Yama Sushi

27782 Vista Del Lago C-22, Mission Viejo; 949-716-9262; yamasushionthelake.com If you don’t find something on the menu at Yama Sushi, either you didn’t look or you don’t care for Japanese cuisine, or its relatives. Consider that Yama offers 27 kinds of cold and cooked appetizers, 25 rolls, salads, noodle and rice bowls. Steak or grilled fish dinner? They’ve got you there too. However, for the aficionados, who annually choose Yama among Orange County’s best, sashimi and sushi carry the day. For the omakase menu, the restaurant says “Our chefs

will present a series of plates, beginning with the lightest fare and proceeding to the heaviest.” Or you can always go with a wide selection of meals, which include up to 30 pieces of hand-formed nigiri sushi or sashimi. Diners not only come to Yama Sushi for the terrific sushi and entrees, but also for the elegant environment and spectacular views across Lake Mission Viejo. The restaurant can also host company parties and banquets.

3. Oeeshi Japanese Grill

31882 Del Obispo St #157, San Juan Capistrano; 949-234-9649; oeeshi.com For an accessible and affordable introduction into sushi and sashimi, the Oeeshi Japanese Grill is an excellent choice. Offering a wide array of sushi rolls and sashimi platters, the restaurant has ample selections featuring tuna, snapper, albacore and salmon in combinations. The sashimi platter, for example, offers five different kinds of fish in 15 pieces. Or you can combine it with rolls or sushi-only specials. Overall the restaurant offers 50 Oeeshi rolls.

According to the restaurant, “Our Experienced staff will assist you in creating a delicious unforgettable occasion. You will enjoy the finest, freshest food, expertly prepared and beautifully presented.” Oeeshi also serves up a variety of flavorful tempura and teriyaki combo plates as well as udon, ramen and fried rice meals and bowls. It is also known for its party platters, which can be ordered in advance for festive occasions.


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1. Alps Heating & AC 1895 S. Santa Cruz St., Anaheim; 714-633-8892; alpscomfortair.com In Springfield, South Dakota, Al Puig was in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning program, while his wife Kathy studied business management. Then, about 40 years ago, they moved to Southern California, where, after Al spent several years working in the HVAC industry, the couple decided to open their own business. Since 1993, Alps Heating & AC has been installing and servicing heating and cooling units in homes across Orange County and in parts of Los Angeles County. “It was just a mom-andpop shop,” Kathy Puig says of Alps’ beginnings. In the early days, the staff consisted of Al, Kathy and one other salesperson. Today, though, they have 25 employees. “We’re still small, but we’re larger than we were,” she adds. “We enjoy taking care of people’s homes.” And that keeps Alps busy, particularly during Southern California’s heatwaves, when the company’s trucks roll from city to city tending to service calls as the temperatures rise.


Orange County Register readers voted Alps Heating & Air Conditioning in Anaheim as the top A/C and heating company in Orange County. For those who want to prepare their homes for summer heat and winter cold, Alps does have a seasonal maintenance program. In worst-case-scenarios, you can

2. Veteran Air

2925 E. Ricker Way, Anaheim; 714-206-3493 veteranairusa.net Mike Anderson grew up in the HVAC industry before serving in the U.S. Army and then, ultimately, opening Veteran Air in 2009. More than a decade later, the Anaheim-based shop is an Orange County mainstay, participating in community events like the Anaheim Easter Egg Hunt and Tustin Chili Cook Off. When it comes to keeping locals cool, Veteran Air consistently earns rave reviews online. Beyond your AC, the company handles heaters, 110

fan motor replacements and duct installation/ repairs, as well as air scrubbing and UV light air purifiers. In addition to basic services, Veteran Air offers a monthly maintenance membership program, which includes biannual checkups, extended warranties on repairs and discounts for various services, plus, the membership fee can be applied toward the cost of system or duct installations.

call the company’s emergency line to request service. “We do our best to fulfill the customer’s needs and get out there as soon as we possibly can,” says Kathy.

Beyond heating and AC, Alps offers duct cleaning, air scrubber, insulation and water heater services.

— Liz Ohanesian

3. Service Champions Plumbing, Heating, AC

3150 E Birch St, Brea; 800-800-2417; servicechampions.com

For more than 20 years, Service Champions has been handling air conditioning, heating, air purifying and plumbing needs for homes in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Founded by Yorba Linda resident Leland Smith, the company boasts a top notch crew of more than 100 technicians who are required to spend 150 hours a year training with masters in their trades. Education is a part Service Champion’s business strategy. Its website includes

resource sections that breaks down subjects like how your AC works and common heating system problems. Service Champions also partners with Brea Olinda Unified School District on career programs for both elementary and high school students. Appointments with Service Champions can be booked online and the company offers both a CHAMPSRewards program for regular maintenance customers and financing options for new home systems.


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1. Baypointe Apartment Homes 2500 Baypointe Drive, Newport Beach; 844-712-9056; irvinecompanyapartments.com Want to see why Baypointe Apartment Homes in Newport Beach is Orange County’s pick for best apartment community? Hop online and take the 3D tour. Scroll around and check out the complex’s spacious one-bedroom, one-bath unit with Whirlpool stainless steel appliances outfitting the kitchen, a walk-in bedroom closet and quartz countertops in the bathroom. In the twobedroom, two-bath tour, you might gravitate toward details like the kitchen’s farmhouse sink, a fireplace in the living room or the cozy patio. Step into the lounge with its bar available for private events and the iLounge co-working space before virtually heading out to the pool with its saltwater spa and barbecue area. Yes, there are a lot of amenities at Baypointe Apartment Homes, including a fitness center and a wine room on the site, as well as private garages and ultra high speed internet. Still, despite all it has to offer, if you’re living at Bayside, you might want


An interior view of Living Room at Baypointe Apartment Homes in Newport Beach, voted the top apartment community in Orange County. to venture outside the gated community. You’ll be located near Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve, home to California gnatcatchers and

2. The George

2211 E. Orangewood Ave., Anaheim; 714-874-9027 www.lyonliving.com/anaheim-california/the-george For die-hard Angels fans, The George is an ideal location. The luxury apartment complex is situated in Angel Stadium’s VIP parking lot. But, even if baseball isn’t your thing, The George has all the amenities for anyone looking for a home with elements of resort life. The rooftop pool and resident beer garden with local breweries on tap are just the start of what the community has to offer. There’s a yoga studio in


addition to the fitness center, a co-working space and a coffee bar. And, not only is The George pet-friendly, but it has a pet spa. As for the units, which range from studio apartments to three-bedroom pads, they come with washers and dryers, stainless steel appliances and private patios or balconies. Residents can also request accent walls in their spaces. The George also offers fully furnished apartments in collaboration with Brook Furniture Rental.

burrowing owls, among other awe-inspiring creatures. If you’re a bird-watcher, the location gives you a prime spot to see the unusual, and sometimes endangered,

species that fly through the area. Meanwhile, athletic residents will enjoy the bike, hiking and equestrian trails in the area.

— Liz Ohanesiabn

3. Promontory Point

200 Promontory Drive West, Newport Beach; 844-766-4607 www.irvinecompanyapartments.com For about 50 years, Promontory Point has been a go-to community for luxury apartments in Newport Beach. The complex is positioned in an envious location, overlooking Newport Bay and close to Balboa Island, Fashion Island and the Back Bay. “Due to its geographic positioning, it really has had the opportunity of continuing to offer the finest in Southern California Coastal Living, which we

take pride in continuing to find ways of delivering to our residents,” says Promontory Point’s manager Edward Carbajal. Residents have access to in-house paddle boards and bicycles, as well as a tennis court and basketball court. The lounge and Palapa bar have ocean views. There are wine events with local vineyards, fitness classes in the on-site gym and poolside chair massages too. Plus, residents have private beach access.


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Howard’s Appliance, TV & Mattress Store was voted the top appliance store by Register readers as part of the Best of Orange County.

1. Howard’s Multiple locations; howards.com There’s good news for those who named Howard’s Orange County’s best appliance store. The Southern California chain is what CEO and Chairman of the Board John Riddle calls “expansion mode.” Back in 2019, Howard’s launched its Experience Center, where customers play with interactive displays as they try out the latest in luxury and tech-savvy appliances. Recently, the company converted its longtime locations in Huntington Beach, La Habra and Laguna Hills into Experience Centers, while a new location is set to open in Tustin soon. Founded in 1946, Howard’s is an appliance institution and part of its appeal is that the store caters to customers shopping at a wide variety of price points. If you’re in the market for a Thermador built-in wine cooler or a Jennair Noir dual fuel professional-style range, you might find yours at Howard’s. Yet the store also stocks loads of midrange and budget-friendly brands and models for both small and large appliances. Beyond the stock, though, Howard’s stands out for its service. The store offers free next-day delivery for qualifying purchases, as well as haul away services for a nominal fee, a major selling point for anyone who has had to make an immediate refrigerator purchase. Speaking of refrigerators, Howard’s has actually loaned out some of its units to customers so that they could have something in the home until their purchase arrived. “I think that’s part of that sort of personalized kind of service that you can get from a local company that takes an interest in how to build customer following,” Riddle says. “And that’s really been, I think, a big part of our success.”

— Liz Ohanesian


2. Daniel’s Home Center

3. Saddleback Appliances

From a smart gas range with an air fryer to Wi-Fi enabled washers and refrigerators, Daniel’s Home Center has what you need to upgrade your domestic technology game. The family-owned chain of stores with an outpost in Anaheim takes some of the stress out of appliance shopping with its financing options and a new online bill pay portal. Express Delivery is available for a fee in Anaheim, Fullerton, Santa Ana and several other Orange County cities. Regular delivery, also available for a fee, includes assembly and placement of your purchase. You can also schedule same-day warehouse pickup for no extra charge.

Family-owned since 1955, Saddleback Appliances is situated inside an 8,000-square foot showroom that stocks goods from over 30 brands. Saddleblack Appliances is the authorized dealer for American Range’s professional chef caliber products, Capital’s innovative appliances and Speed Queen’s washer and dryers. Free delivery and haul away services are available for qualifying purchases. In addition to selling you stoves, refrigerators and laundry machines, Saddleback Appliances does repairs for items from most major brands and offers installation services. If you’re the sort of handy person who likes to fix your own appliances, head here to seek out the pieces you need in the parts department. If you’re going for a full kitchen facelift, Saddleback Appliances also carries sinks, faucets and cabinet hardware.

255 S. Euclid St., Anaheim; 714-999-1285 danielshomecenter.com

23201 Del Lago Drive, Laguna Hills; 949-830-6910 saddlebackappliances.com


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A New View Windows and Doors in Anaheim was voted the No. 1 blind and shutter store for Best of Orange County 2022.

1. A New View Windows & Doors

2. Orange County Shutters

3. Cali Coast Shutters and Shades

3445 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim; 714-953-7663 anewviewwindows.com

7649 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove; 714-891-0090 orangecountyshutters.com

If you know that you need new window coverings, but aren’t quite sure what you want, A New View’s recently renovated 5,000-square foot showroom can offer plenty of inspiration. “A lot of people don’t know what they’re looking for, so they can come in and see hundreds of different displays and get an idea,” says Jamie Cockerill, who co-owns A New View with husband Cash. “Then we can lead them in the right direction based on their budget.” A benefit of stopping by A New View’s showroom is that the products are built into displays and operational. “People can feel them, touch them, open them and see all the color options,” Jamie Cockerill says. Step inside the conference room and take a seat to research color samples and other product details. Once you know what you want, Cash Cockerill himself handles the home visits to take measurements and answers questions about the installation process. When it comes to shutters and blinds, A New View stocks goods from La Palma-based Norman USA. “We offer the whole line of Norman products for window coverings and we do have all of them on display as well,” says Jamie Cockerill. Those include shutters, roller shades, honeycomb shades, Roman shades and faux wood blinds. Shutters and roller shades are amongst the most popular items.

“Quality doesn’t have to be expensive with us,” says Rebecca Gloudeman of Orange County Shutters. “We have very high standards for quality and workmanship on shutters, but we want everyone to be able to afford it.” Shutters are the bread-andbutter of this local business and Orange County homeowners often turn to them for contemporary looks, including flat panels, hidden tilts and Z-frames. But motorized shades are a growing portion of the company’s sales. In fact, Orange County Shutters recently brought in a new employee who specializes in this area. “A lot of times, we’re mixing the shutters and the motorized roller shades or Roman shades,” says Gloudeman. For motorized shades, they work with Alta Window Fashions, whose products include shades that can be controlled by Alexa, Google Assistant or an app on your phone.

— Liz Ohanesian

9778 Katella Ave., Suite 207, Anaheim; 714-867-6023 calicoastshutters.com

Cali Coast Shutters and Shades was founded just last year, but owner Rich Gloudeman has more than 15 years of experience, having previously worked at his family’s business, Orange County Shutters. Now building his own business with his wife, Gloudeman is focused on in-home consultations for folks in Orange County and southern Los Angeles County who are in need of shutters, shades or blinds. Make contact by phone or email and schedule a time for him to stop by loaded with samples. “I want to be able to put these things in your windows to show you what they would look like in your windows,” he says. The new company is also set on giving back to local communities, Cali Coast has collaborated with Huntington/ Seal Beach Surfrider Foundation on a beach cleanup and donated roller shades to the Big Brother Big Sister office in Lakewood.


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1. Irvine cityofirvine.org There are plenty of reasons why more than 300,000 people call Irvine home. The city boasts more than 17,000 businesses and 275,000 jobs across a wide variety of industries. For 16 years in a row, it’s been ranked as the safest U.S. city with a population of over 250,000, based on FBI data. Irvine also has consistently drawn praise for its park system. There are 22 community parks and 40 neighborhood parks and 141 athletic fields in the city, plus more than 400 miles of on and off-street bike trails. It’s also home to Great Park, for which 200 acres of a planned 1,300-acre space have already been developed. In addition, despite decades of development, there are still tens of thousands of acres of native habitat cared for by Irvine Ranch Conservancy and its partners. It’s a city that’s earned accolades for its commitment to the environment, which


People ride scooters past the balloon at the Great Park in Irvine, voted best city to live in. is demonstrated through its Green Business program, which offers assistance to those businesses wanting to improve their sustainability, the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan that it began

2. Costa Mesa


of affordable housing that currently exist, 80% are for those who earn less than half of the county’s median income.

— Liz Ohanesian

3. Mission Viejo


“I think Costa Mesa has more variety and more attractions than really any, any city that I’m aware of,” says Mayor John Stephens. The “City of the Arts” is home to Segerstrom Center for the Arts, South Coast Repertory, Noguchi Sculpture Garden and Costa Mesa Playhouse, as well as Pacific Amphitheater and other music venues. Orange County Museum of Art will christen its new venue on the Segerstrom campus on Oct. 8 with a free, 24-hour grand opening. Costa Mesa is also a shopping destination, where you can peruse designer boutiques at South Coast Plaza, head over to The Lab to stock

to develop last year and its efforts to become carbon neutral by 2030. The city also boasts that it has the largest amount of affordable housing in Orange County. Of the 4,853 units

cityofmissionviejo.org up on zero waste products at Eco Now or dig for vinyl at Port of Sound Record Shoppe before grabbing lunch or dinner at one of the city’s many beloved restaurants. But, there’s more to Costa Mesa than the activities. “It’s a very supportive community,” says Stephens, mentioning their First In-Family program for students who are the first in their family to attend college. There’s also the city’s attention to infrastructure — it has redone all of its alleyways over the past decade — as well as its new library and community center and highly staffed public safety departments. “There’s a lot going on in Costa Mesa,” Stephens says.

Mayor Wendy Bucknum describes Mission Viejo as a family-friendly city and there are a lot of reasons for that. For one, it’s ranked as one of SafeWise’s safest cities in California. Its also has multi-generational appeal. Between the city library, local arts and culture programming and Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center, says Bucknum, “there’s lots of activities geared towards our 55 and better population.” Youth sports and parks are plentiful. It’s home to the Mission

Viejo Nadadores swim school team, which maintains the Marguerite Aquatic Center and has had swimmers compete in every Olympics since 1968. Mission Viejo also has its own animal services department with a nokill shelter and a large volunteer group, DAWG, that supports animal welfare. “The volunteerism in Mission Viejo is amazing,” Bucknum says, “and the love of the city by the residents, and the pride, is something to behold.”


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Best City to Live In! Find out what makes Irvine the best choice for residents, businesses, and visitors at cityofirvine.org.


The City of Irvine congratulates our Best of OC winners and finalists. Tutor Time The Oaks at Portola Hills 85° Café California Bank & Trust Century 21 Famous Dave’s Chase Bank Compass Bosscat Kitchen & Libations Wells Fargo Working Wardrobes Burger Lounge Orange County’s EP Wealth Advisors In-N-Out Burger Credit Union Irvine Certified The Habit Burger Grill SchoolsFirst Federal Farmers Market Chick-fil-A Credit Union at Mariners Church TAPS Fish House Wescom Credit Union Great Park Certified and Brewery 24 Hour Fitness Farmers Market Lazy Dog Restaurant LA Fitness Regal Irvine Spectrum and Bar Merage JCC of ScreenX, 4DX, IMAX, Yogurtland Orange County RPX & VIP El Torito Hoag Hospital Pretend City Ruth’s Chris Steak House MemorialCare Children’s Museum Living Spaces Medical Group FivePoint Amphitheatre Shea Homes Costco Hearing Aid Center Reaching for the Cure Lowe’s Home Improvement Ralph’s Half Marathon by Pediatric The Home Depot Trader Joe’s Cancer Research Foundation Sea Pointe Design Irvine Spectrum Center AutoNation Toyota Irvine & Remodel BevMo! Stanbridge University Custom Comfort Mattress Koeller Nebeker UC Irvine Mattress Firm Carlson Haluck, LLP Kumon Math Central Park West





1. Hardy Windows 1639 E. Miraloma Ave., Placentia; 714-996-1807; orangecountywindowanddoor.com Back in 1989, Chance Hardy founded the window company that bears his name. “He started knocking on doors on the weekends and seeing who needed windows, wanted windows,” says Zoe Hardy, Chance’s stepdaughter, who grew up in the business and is now part of the team at Hardy Windows. “From there, it grew into the company it is today through years of hard work.” Today, Hardy Windows resides in a 30,000-square foot Placentia showroom, where the company offers products from more than 30 different manufacturers. Among the most popular brands is Milgard and the modern farmhouse look is big with clients right now. But home owners aren’t just choosing Hardy Windows for the styles of windows and doors that it carries. “We know that home remodeling, or home building, is a big project,” says Zoe. “so we try our best to be helpful and be an easy company to work with.” That starts with your first home visit. For those who may be uncomfortable with


Hardy Windows was voted best door/window company in Best of Orange County balloting. people coming inside the house, Hardy’s estimators can take measurements from outside, so long as the windows and doors are on the first floor.

2. A New View Windows and Doors 3445 E La Palma Ave., Anaheim; 714-953-7663; anewviewwindows.com Recently, A New View gave a facelift to its Anaheim showroom, which offers customers an opportunity to see what they might want in their own homes. It added storefront doors from Golden State, whose entry doors are big sellers for A New View. The company, owned by Jamie and Cash Cockerill, also installed a bi-folding door, showcasing one of the big trends amongst Orange


County homeowners. Right now, requests for both bi-folding and multislide doors are high. “People want to open up their yards and make it so the house goes seamlessly out into the yard,” says Jamie Cockerill. Entrance and patio doors have helped earn A New View’s reputation, but the company handles interior and garage door projects as well.

beyond its Orange County base. About 75% of the company’s business comes from word-of-mouth.

With a mix of residential and commercial projects across Southern California under its belt, Hardy Windows has earned a reputation that’s spread far

— Liz Ohanesian

3. Metropolitan High Performance Windows

940 E Orangethorpe Ave., Anaheim; 800-995-8878; mhiwindows.com

When you call Metropolitan High Performance Windows, you’ll be speaking with one of three people in the office, “so you know who you’re getting,” says manager Amanda Richart. Also, the Anaheim-based company doesn’t have a showroom. “That way we’re able to offer the best price possible for all the products,” Richart explains. Instead, you’ll make an appointment for a home visit to take place at a time that’s

convenient for you. When you place your order, your custom windows or doors will be installed within four to eight weeks. Among the requests Metropolitan is fielding right now are for vinyl windows. “Vinyl windows are increasing in popularity,,” says Rickart, “especially in Orange County, where having maximum energy efficiency is not so much a trend, but a necessity, just because of the rising temperatures and utility costs.”


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FURNITURE STORE 2. Ashley Furniture Multiple locations; ashleyfurniture.com

Ashley Furniture’s eclectic stock caters to a variety of tastes. Whether you’re looking for a minimalist kitchen table, classic dining set, tech-forward sofa or a luxe upholstered bed, you’ll have a good chancing of finding it inside one of Ashley’s four Orange County stores or online. Check out website tools like the 3D Room Planner to see what works before you make any big purchases. If you’re still not quite sure what you want in your home, Ashley has free, virtual design services available online. You let them know what style and room you have in mind, whether that’s a boho chic bedroom or an urban/industrial kitchen, the color and fabric families you prefer and a few other details. An expert gets back to you with recommendations. You make your purchases and they’re delivered to you with a floor plan customized to fit your room. PAUL BERSEBACH, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Living Spaces was the top furniture store in Best of Orange County voting.

1. Living Spaces Multiple locations; livingspaces.com Last spring, Living Spaces launched its third designer collection. Drew + Jonathan comes from the twin siblings behind the HGTV series “Property Brothers” and has quickly become a hit for the home goods store. “It’s just a really beautiful, contemporary, modern aesthetic,” says product manager Cynthia Diaz. With its sleek dressers and accent chairs that subtly recalls midcentury design, the brothers’ inaugural collection provides a look that’s distinct from the classic style of Nate + Jeremiah and Magnolia Homes’ modern farmhouse vibes. That’s important at Living Spaces, where shoppers are searching by aesthetic as well as by furniture piece in stores and online. Post-pandemic, Diaz says, customers are using the Living Spaces site as a research tool before coming into the store, where an overwhelming amount of the store’s sales take place. “Every single customer is really

educating themselves online first,” says Diaz. After the boom of home renovations during 2020 and 2021, the store has seen a return to its usual best sellers, upholstery and bedrooms, with a few changes. The store’s custom upholstery program is incredibly popular with customers, as are the customizable sofas. Fortunately, Living Spaces has been able to maintain a four-to-six-week window for delivery time, where supply chain issues have brought about longer waits with other retailers. Right now, the most popular sofas are ones with plush seating. “Comfort was something so important during the pandemic that has stayed,” says Diaz. “Even though they’re venturing out now, they want to come back and have something that’s really comfortable.” Meanwhile, shoppers in the dining room department are now eyeing tables with extensions that will allow them to seat anywhere from eight to 12 people.

— Liz Ohanesian

3. Daniel’s Home Center 255 S Euclid St, Anaheim; 714-9991285; danielshomecenter.com Family-owned Daniel’s Home Center is a longtime go-to for appliances and furniture among Orange County residents. On the furniture front, the stock ranges from show-stopping headboards with hand-carved inlays and ornate dining room sets to chic, mid 20th century-inspired sofas and sectionals. White glove delivery service options are available for an extra fee, but the Express Delivery, ensuring the speediest arrival of your purchase, is only available in select Orange County cities, including Anaheim, Tustin and Orange. Same day warehouse pickups are available for orders placed before 4 p.m. on weekdays and purchases are generally available for pickup within 45 minutes. Look into financing options and note that your bills from Daniel’s can now be paid online. SEPTEMBER 2022 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY

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32413 San Juan Creek Rd, San Juan Capistrano; 949-240-2107 plantdepot.coms Since black olive trees started trending in the plant world last year, Plant Depot has seen growing demand for them. “There’s this huge drive for this plant that I had honestly never seen before,” says Jennifer Kittles, second-generation co-owner of the family-owned business. But that’s not the only reason why people are heading to San Juan Capistrano to visit the 27-year-old gardening center. Their edible plant selection is impressive, stocked with 120 varieties of tomatoes and a bounty of fruit trees. Succulents range from tiny plants that can be used in decorating projects to large ones ideal for landscaping. Then there is their selection of imported pottery, with finds coming in from Brazil, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Italy. “We have the largest pottery selection in Southern California by far,” says Kittles, adding that, what the store doesn’t have on hand, it will try to track down for customers.


Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach was chosen the top garden center/nursery in Best of Orange County voting.

1. Roger’s Gardens 2301 San Joaquin Hills Rd, Corona del Mar; 949-640-5800; rogersgardens.com “What we’re really trying to do is connect people, gardeners in particular, with nature. The tool that we’re doing that with is their gardens and their plants,” says Ron Vanderhoff, general manager and vice president of Roger’s Gardens. Founded in 1965, and located in Corona del Mar since 1975, Roger’s Gardens is an institution for Orange County residents. Its large, lush campus is a destination during the summer months, when hummingbirds flit amid the flora. Part of the appeal, Vanderhoff says, is that customers can come to Roger’s and see the variety of wildlife that gardens will attract, so long as you select the appropriate plants. The nursery’s demonstration gardens help inspire and educate visitors, but they also host education events that range from talks with 120

wildlife experts to plein air painting. Meanwhile, the store’s website and YouTube channel are chock full of advice for gardeners. There’s a conservation element instilled at Roger’s Gardens too. The store has collaborated with Sea & Sage Audubon, an Orange County chapter of National Audubon Society, to raise funds for education and conservation programming. Roger’s Gardens has also partnered with The Xerxes Society for Invertebrate Conservation to raise funds for the group’s work in monarch conservation. Whether you’re looking for unusual roses, like the pink-and-orange Disneyland Rose that’s a hit at the store, planning a vegetable garden, or need more drought-tolerant plants that will attract pollinators, Roger’s has the experts on hand to help you.

— Liz Ohanesian

3. Green Thumb Nursery 23782 Bridger Rd, Lake Forest; 949-837-3040; greenthumb.com Since 1965, Green Thumb Nursery has been serving Saddleback Valley shoppers. In recent years, though, the Lake Forest shop has been attracting gardening enthusiasts from well beyond its usual customer base. “I’m amazed at how far they come,” says store manager Karen Sandell, who has been with Green Thumb since 1978. Sandell suspects that might be a result of store closures in the aftermath of COVID-19. However, Green Thumb has also earned a rep for its knowledgeable staff, which includes two landscape designers, fruit tree experts and a succulent buyer who “knows all the succulents you could ever imagine.” The store also boasts an impressive water garden department with a pond plant expert on staff. Green Thumb is also a popular source for fountains. “Many places don’t sell fountains anymore because they are hard to manage,” says Sandell. “We have people that are very experienced in what it takes to have a fountain.”


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1. Lennar 15131 Alton Parkway, Suite 345, Irvine; 949-349-8000; lennar.com Lennar builds homes across the United States and the development company has a large footprint here in Orange County. Local developments include The Farm, a new gated community in San Juan Capistrano, with plans to include a half-acre park, and Serrano Summit, which includes a beach entry pool, cabanas and pickleball courts. The Currents is a Fountain Valley project opening this year with homes that range in size up to five bedrooms, while Seamark is a Huntington Beach development of single-family homes near the Santa Ana River Trail set to open next year. What makes Lennar homes so popular? It might be all the features that are included in them, like smart home technology, WaterSense-certified kitchen and bathroom faucets, Energy Star appliances and energy-efficient windows. It could be the fashionable interior design choices, from hardwood and ceramic tile floors to granite or quartz countertops and tile or stone backsplashes.


Lennar was voted the top home builder in the Best of Orange County 2022 contest. Model homes are pictured at Almeria at Rise in the Great Park Neighborhoods in Irvine. It might also be some of the company’s innovations, like the NextGen home, which includes a “homewithin-a-home” that features a separate entrance and kitchenette and can be

2. Shea Homes

of their homes a little less stressful with its myLennar online service that you can use to set up utilities, make a change of address and more.

— Liz Ohanesian

3. Sailhouse

480-933-5840; sheahomes.com Shea Homes is a company with history. The company worked on projects like the Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge and the BART mass transit system before turning toward new homes. Today, the company’s projects range from single family homes to senior living communities. Its current Orange County projects include the sold out Camila gated community in Placentia and the multimillion-dollar homes inside Irvine’s Cetara at Orchard Hills and Launch at

used for multigenerational families, home school setups, home offices or other situations where someone needs a little more privacy. Lennar also makes the process of moving into one

Rise, Neo at Mission Foothills townhomes in Mission Viejo, duplex The Cay at Mariner Shore in Newport and Lake Forest’s Teresina development. Soon, Shea Homes will be bringing Saffron, a community of four- to five-bedroom homes on sites that measure more than a third of an acre, to Yorba Linda. The company has developed SheaConnect for smart home functions and Shea Homes Design Studio is available when you’re ready to work on the interiors of your new abode.

170 Newport Center Drive, Suite 260, Newport Beach; 949-281-6044; sailhouse.com Home projects were a hobby for Pat Patterson, but, after a project on Lido Isle went particularly well, friends encouraged him to do more. He did. Then clients asked for more and Sailhouse grew from there. For the past eight years, the company has been building its reputation in and around Newport Beach. “Our main goal is to create timeless

architecture that fits in with the neighborhood,” Patterson says. Sailhouse signature homes are the ones the company builds to sell or lease and have a distinctly classic, coastal vibe. Sailhouse also works on custom projects for clients in a variety of styles, incorporating requested features like home gyms, solar technology, even elevators.


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Orange County Register readers voted The Home Depot the top home improvement store in Orange County as part of the 29th annual Best of Orange County readers’ choice awards.

2. Lowe’s

3. Builder’s Surplus

Multiple locations; homedepot.com

Multiple locations; lowes.com

The challenge that comes with a trip to The Home Depot isn’t finding what you need. Rather, it’s trying to avoid the allure of the rows of colorful plants, aisles of sparkling home lights and walls of paint samples while you’re looking for that tool you think you might need for a home repair. It’s so easy to get distracted by the wide variety of goods and supplies inside the beloved megastore that it might be best to use the many tools they have available to make a plan before you head to the store. First, download The Home Depot’s app onto your phone. Look for the project calculator, which will help you figure out how much of an item you need, whether that’s wallpaper for the bedroom or boxes for a move. If you want to handle the project yourself, you’ll find guides on the app too. Use the lists section in the app to keep track of what you need and take that on your shopping trip, then switch the app over to store mode so that you can quickly and easily find what you need. The coolest recent feature to the app, though, is the truck and tool rental feature. If you need large tools, like a chainsaw or pressure washer, you can actually rent those through the app and then pick them up at the store. Additionally, you can rent pickups, vans and moving trucks through Home Depot, too.

For some people, home improvement projects are fun. For others, it’s a headache. Either way, Lowe’s has your back. If you are interested in learning how to handle DIY projects, sign up for an in-store class. Subjects include painting tricks and how to build your own farmhouse-style table. In addition to the ample supply of home goods and supplies to perk up every space in your home, Lowe’s offers a good amount of services to help you along the way. These range from assembling products and cutting materials for you to full installations. Last year, Lowe’s launched the Livable Home program to help folks modify their homes for accessibility. You can schedule a virtual home assessment with a Certified Aging in Place Specialist who will help you and your family discern which upgrades need to be made and how Lowe’s can help.

Builder’s Surplus’ 120,000-square foot showroom in Santa Ana is a go-to for kitchen and bathroom projects. Founded in 1969, the family-owned business focuses on overstock and closeout pieces, including factory assembled kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities, stainless steel farmhouse sinks, bathtubs, countertops and more. The inventory is massive, with 40,000 cabinets alone in stock, and a wide array of cabinet, vanity and countertop styles to select. The showroom is open to the general public, so you can head down here whether you’re working with a contractor or doing it yourself. If you are handling a project solo, make sure to download the measuring guide and get all the necessary information together before you head to Builder’s Surplus so that you can get the best help you need.

1. The Home Depot

— LIz Ohanesian


1800 E. Dyer Road, Santa Ana; 949-502-0040 builderssurplus.net


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1. Mr. Cabinet Care 4375 E La Palma Ave, Anaheim; 714-961-1900; mrcabinetcare.com In its 35 years of business, Mr. Cabinet Care has served 24,000 clients, scooped up multiple awards and expanded from a 1,500-square foot shop in Santa Ana to a 24,000-square foot Anaheim factory. The family-owned company offers multiple ways to update your kitchen. For a refresh that’s easier on the budget, folks turn to Mr. Cabinet Care for refacing services. If you’re looking for a more drastic change, though, the contractor can handle everything from countertop replacements to complete remodels. A recent renovation development is what the company calls “The Smarter Kitchen.” That’s redesigning your space to accommodate more than just the cooks in the family and incorporating spaces like a nook where family members can work and study from home as well as more room to entertain and enjoy family meals. Get started with Mr. Cabinet Care’s visualizer tool. Found on the company’s website, this interactive tool will let you try out different styles and colors of cabinets to get an idea of what you want before you call for an in-home estimate. Check out the photo gallery for before and after photos from Mr. Cabinet Care projects to get a little inspiration too.

— Liz Ohanesian

2. Pacific Coast Custom Design 10545 Ellis Ave., Fountain Valley; 714-962-7500 pacificcoastcustomdesign.com Fountain Valley-based Pacific Coast Custom Design features general contractors whose specialty is custom cabinetry. Kitchen and baths are where the family-owned business has earned much of its reputation, where it has applied its craftsmanship and creativity to a wide variety of home styles from dark and dramatic to cozy


Mr. Cabinet Care in Anaheim was voted the best kitchen/bath remodeling specialist in Best of Orange County 2022 balloting.

modern farmhouse. The company has glammed up bathrooms and given them the minimalist, spa-like treatment. But, Pacific Coast Custom Design’s skills extend beyond these two rooms. Desks with built-in office cabinetry, wallbeds, fireplaces and entertainment centers are a few other areas where the company excels.

3. Sea Pointe Design & Remodel 576 Wald, Irvine; 949-755-0416; seapointe.com “Remodeling and construction is just really invasive into people’s personal lives, in their homes. You’re in their personal space,” says Lauren Mills of Sea Pointe Design and Remodel. “I think that we really pay a lot of attention to that.” Mills is the second generation of the business that her dad, Andrew Shore, founded in 1986, and she says that working with family on other families’ homes has helped them stay aware of

the disruptions that the process can cause. Because of that, Sea Pointe works to “make sure that it’s the least stressful experience that remodeling can be for our clients.” Aside from making the process less stressful, Sea Pointe makes spaces that are both function and fun, from custom organization in the kitchen to spa-style bathrooms. The firm even turned a former laundry room into a dog bath station.


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MATTRESS STORE 2. Mattress Firm

Multiple locations; 877-384-2903 mattressfirm.com There’s a reason why people are heading to Mattress Firm for their sleep needs. “There are a lot of online retailers that will ship products fairly quickly to your door, but what we find inside our stores is that they really want to try the beds before they buy them,” says Frank Guzman, director of regional sales for Mattress Firm. “They want to be met by an expert that will show them why one mattress is better than another, that can fit their needs to the product.” To better help customers, the company launched MattressMatcher, a data-driven tool powered by Google and SleepScore Labs that helps you pick the best mattress for your sleep style and wellness needs. From there, the store’s knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect mattress to work within your budget and space. Continuing the tech-forward approach, Mattress Firm and SleepScore Labs’ partnership has resulted in the sleep.com app, with both free and premium subscription functions that allow you to track your sleep without a wearable.


Custom Comfort Mattress was voted the top mattress store in Best of Orange County 2022 balloting.

1. Custom Comfort Mattress Multiple locations; customcomfortmattress.com Since 1989, Custom Comfort has been focusing on quality, handmade mattresses. Owners Mel and Gary Trudell have built a team of craftspeople who use traditional techniques to build long-lasting, mattresses out of their Orange factory using natural cotton, organic wool and natural latex. The mattresses are double-sided so that you can flip them over when necessary, which helps extend the life of your purchase. Although they make classic mattresses, without all of the tech that’s currently touted to help people sleep better, Custom Comfort does offer a variety of styles for both kids and adults at various different price points. The Reserve collection features the brand’s most luxurious mattresses, including the Santa Cruz, a medium-


firm mattress that counts alpaca wool amongst its materials. And, true to the name, custom mattresses are an option here. Need a longer than standard mattress? That’s possible. Want something that’s firmer on your side than on your partner’s? That’s possible too. Custom Comfort can even make mattresses to fit the specifications of your RV or boat. Whether you’re looking for a custom mattress or a standard one, you should head to one of several Custom Comfort shops in Orange County for a fitting. When you make your decision, place an order and your mattress will be delivered either the same day or following day. Custom Comfort will also haul out your old mattress for you.

— Liz Ohanesian

3. Sit ’n Sleep Multiple locations; sitnsleep.com “Most of our guests know the slogan, ‘We’ll beat anyone’s advertised price or your mattress is free,’” says Drew Miller, vice president of marketing for Sit ’n Sleep. They probably also know the catchphrase from radio ads, “You’re killing me, Larry.” But, as Miller, who you’ve probably seen in commercials alongside his father Larry, points out, the chain has turned to a new motto: “Trust your sleep to Sit ’n Sleep.” So, why do so many folks trust Sit ’n Sleep? There’s the large selection of mattresses, offering something for virtually any budget. Plus, its bedMATCH technology helps you find the right mattress for your body and sleep patterns. But, there’s also the experienced and knowledgeable staff. “Our sales people have an average of eight years experience,” says Miller, who has also worked on the sales floor and in Sit ’n Sleep’s warehouse, “which is very rare in this industry.”


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1. Rancho Mission Viejo 1 Salubre St., Rancho Mission Viejo; 949-768-1882; ranchomissionviejo.com “We try to invest wellness in all of the different areas that we create,” says Stephanie Walker, marketing director at Rancho Mission Viejo. Situated on a 23,000-acre working ranch, where much of the land is set aside for The Nature Reserve, Rancho Mission Viejo isn’t your typical new home community. It’s the kind of community where residents have access to a number of trails, an outdoor fitness center and three community farms that provide seasonal produce. Rancho Mission Viejo is divided into three villages, Esencia, Sendero and the most recent addition, Rienda. Located near the Nature Reserve, Rienda is home of the Ranch Camp, which features a 20,000-squarefoot lagoon-style pool, an open-air fitness center, The Nature House, which offers environmental education classes, and other communitycentered spaces. There are also the Galiván neighborhoods designed for people ages 55 and older, which include exclusive hangouts like The Hacienda, which features a saltwater pool and spa, and the BBQ Barn with a fire pit and bocce ball courts. With its mix of


New homes are shown in Rienda, the newest village at Rancho Mission Viejo, which opened this past spring. neighborhoods and amenities, Rancho Mission Viejo has developed as an intergenerational community that appeals to people with

2. Central Park West 855-241-3495; lennar.com

In Irvine, near UCI’s north campus, Lennar’s masterplan community Central Park West offers residents a sophisticated, yet family-friendly, living space. Central Park is the primary community hub. This 2.2-acre space is where you’ll find the clubhouse, fitness room and recreation areas. At Rockefeller Park, you’ll find a pickleball

court, a junior Olympicstyle swimming pool, plus a wading pool and spa, a barbecue area and a children’s playground. Over at Delancy Park, you’ll find a basketball halfcourt in addition to a picnic area. Retail is proposed as a future addition, but, presently, the homes are close to a number of restaurants.

varied interests and needs. “There’s really something for everyone here,” says Walker. “I think that’s what makes us so unique and

stands apart from a lot of other masterplans in the area.”

— Liz Ohanesian

3. The Oaks at Portola Hills

1582 Sunset View Drive, Lake Forest; 949-791-6811 portolahills-homes.com The Oaks at Portola Hills is for those looking for both luxury and privacy. A gated community overlooking Lake Forest and Trabuco Canyon, The Oaks offers prospective residents the opportunity to choose from a handful of floor plans, all of which feature spacious and elegant design, to be built on pool-sized lots. There’s also a resort-style

community pool club with a beach entry pool, cabanas, a spa and splash pad and a 5,300-square foot clubhouse with office spaces. For nature lovers, the location is ideal too. You’re close to Limestone Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, Aliso Creek and Santiago Canyon, as well as a number of trails in Lake Forest.


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Floor & Decor was chosen as the best place to buy carpet/flooring by Best of Orange County voters.

1. Floor & Décor Multiple locations; flooranddecor.com Since its founding in 2000, Floor & Décor has taken the superstore model and applied it to a niche department, hard surface flooring. It’s been a winning game plan for the Atlanta-based company, which counts Fullerton, Fountain Valley, Santa Ana and Mission Viejo among its 166 warehouse-style outposts across the United States. Inside Floor & Décor’s stores, and on its website, you’ll find a wealth of tile, stone, wood, laminate and vinyl surfaces, including ecofriendly options likes bamboo. If the options seem overwhelming, test drive a few different styles at home with the online visualizer tool. Just upload a photo of your space and add one of the flooring options to see how it looks in your room. Set up an account on Floor & Décor’s website to save items related to your projects. For more guidance, you can schedule an appointment with a Floor & Décor designer to discuss your vision and options either at the store or via a virtual meeting. The designers can make recommendations based on your budget and needs, as well as give you a better understanding of the installation process. The design services are free. For DIY folks, the company’s website offers tutorials for installing multiple flooring materials, as well as backsplashes. You’ll be able to find the materials and tools that you need at the store. If you need professional help, the store partners with Installation Made Easy.

— Liz Ohanesian



2. Colonial Carpet

3. Michael’s Carpet

Family owned and operated for 67 years, Colonial Carpet is a longtime favorite of Orange County residents. “We offer good values,” says owner Rick Tessier of the company’s secret to success. “We follow up with customers and we listen to them.” Colonial Carpet’s staff walks customers through the process from deciding which carpet or flooring will work best with your needs — are you looking for something that’s pet friendly? — through the installation. “We’re very patient because it’s kind of daunting to tear up your whole house and pick something new,” says Tessier. Colonial Carpet representatives will come to your home, take the measurements, answer your questions and coordinate with their crew to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. Then, at the end, your point person will follow up to ensure that the job was done properly. “There’s no loss of continuity,” says Tessier. “You’re working with that same person from beginning to end.”

Looking for an eco-friendly flooring option? Michael’s Carpet in Huntington Beach offers bamboo flooring, considered to be a sustainable alternative to hardwood, as well as cork, which is made from recycled materials. Michael’s also works with a number of manufacturers who are employing more environmentally conscious practices. You can stop by familyowned Michael’s Carpet, which has been in business since 1984, to see what’s in store. However, you can also go to the shop’s website and schedule an at-home appointment, where an employee will go through samples with you. The team at Michael’s can also handle floor and carpet installations. Michael’s Carpet also offers interior design consultations, free in-home estimates with product samples and financing options. Head over to its website to peruse the look book or read through helpful articles about types of carpet and flooring and the installation process as you make your next home improvement decision.

7331 Garden Grove Blvd., Suite B, Garden Grove; 714-892-4495 colonialcarpetco.com

9005 Adams Ave., Huntington Beach; 714-962-6569 michaelscarpethb.com


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REAL ESTATE COMPANY 2. Century 21 century21.com

With more than 50 years in business through its franchises around the globe, Century 21 is an immediately recognizable brand in the real estate business. Its listings across Orange County showcase a wide swath of what the region has to offer, from senior living condos for under $200,000 to single-family houses hovering around the halfmillion mark to palatial multimillion dollar homes with ocean views. While the franchise model could make it difficult to keep tabs on all the independently owned and operated offices, the search function on the corporate website makes it easier to search among the listings that fit your parameters and find the agents that best suit your needs. Between the offices, you’ll find similarities, most notably a diverse, frequently multilingual, group of agents who serve a broad expanse of locations across Southern California.

Compass was voted the top real estate company in the Orange County Register’s Best of Orange County readers poll.

3. Regency Real Estate Brokers

1. Compass

Dana Point, Mission Viejo; regencyrealestate.com


compass.com Compass has had one wild decade. Founded in 2012 by a Goldman Sachs executive and a Twitter engineer, the tech-forward company is now the largest residential real estate brokerage in the United States. Last year it went public. This year, it debuted on the Fortune 500. Compass has sold half-a-trillion dollars in real estate, served 400,000 clients and built a team of 30,000 agents across 352 American cities. “During the pandemic, technology went from being a nice-to-have to a must-have. I think every agent in the country needs some sort of real estate platform,” says Parker Beatty, Compass’ regional vice president of Southern California and Hawaii. “Compass is building that and building tools for agents to take advantages of collaborations in the communities across the country.” Some of those tools include

Collections, which Beatty describes as “Pinterest for real estate,” that allows agents and their clients to keep track of interesting properties, and “private exclusives,” which enables Compass agents to share listings among each other, without making them visible to the public. For home buyers, the Find an Agent option has helped people on their home searches in other parts of the country. Then there’s Compass Concierge, a loan program that helps folks with staging and home improvements to increase the value of the property. But, there’s another reason people love Compass, which opened its flagship operation in Dana Point last year. “Especially in Orange County, today’s home buyers and sellers come to Compass to work with the most qualified agents,” Beatty says.

— Liz Ohanesian

Founded in 1994 by a group of real estate agents based in South County, Regency Real Estate Brokers has two offices, one in Dana Point and one in Mission Viejo, where its team of 180 agent/brokers can focus on cities and communities throughout the county. The company’s model has been successful. Last year, Regency racked up 893 transactions and tallied over $845 million in total sales volume. A bonus for clients is Regency’s Enhance concierge program, where agents work with clients to figure out what improvements need to be made, whether that’s a deep clean, new flooring or a fresh paint job. You’ll work with your agent to find the pros who can tackle those jobs and then list your home after they’re completed. All of this is done with no upfront cost to the client. SEPTEMBER 2022 THE BEST OF ORANGE COUNTY

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1. Reata Glen 2 Las Estrellas Loop, Rancho Mission Viejo; 949-541-9079; reataglen.com Located in Mission Viejo, Reata Glen is a “life plan” community, meaning that you aren’t just purchasing a home within this large senior community, but you’re making plans to ensure yourself access to services and long-term care if you ever need that. The neighborhoods here are varied; the housing choices range from apartments to townhouses to single-story homes. As a resident, you’ll pay a monthly service fee that covers a wide range of amenities including 24-hour security, meals, maintenance and housekeeping. Membership also comes with access to the fitness center, swimming pool and a variety of classes. There is a health care center adjacent to Reata Glen, which gives residents access to skilled nursing, assisted living and memory care. For those who want to remain active and social, there are many opportunities to engage with the community at Reata Glen, from sports like pickleball

Bocce ball courts, right, and an indoor pool, left, are among the amenities at the senior living community Reata Glen in Rancho Mission Viejo. and tennis to yoga to movie screenings, as well as trips to off-site events. If you prefer to explore on your own, there’s plenty to do in the vicinity given the community’s close proximity to the coast,

2. Freedom Village

23442 El Toro Road, Lake Forest; 949-472-4700 freedomvillageorangecounty.org For 35 years, Freedom Village in Lake Forest has been a place where seniors can thrive. “It’s kind of like living on a cruise ship that doesn’t really move,” says Eric Salgado, director of sales and marketing. Residents have access to fitness classes, musical entertainment, card games and astronomy classes. They can create inside the recently refurbished art studio, attend events like the high tea in spring or luau during the summer. Group excursions are 128

popular too, such as the Friday beach walks or trips to casinos. Freedom Village offers a variety of health services from wellness classes to extended care. For some, though, the biggest selling point might be bringing their furry friends along on this journey. Freedom Village is not only pet friendly, but has three different dogwalking areas and makes extra efforts to ensure your pets don’t accidentally wander out of your home.

Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park and the sites and shops in historic downtown San Juan Capistrano. If you’re interested in moving to Reata Glen, you can request an information

package online or sign up for information on upcoming events in your neighborhood. Call or email if you would like to schedule a time to visit the community.

— Liz Ohanesian

3. Laguna Woods Village

24351 El Toro Road, Laguna Woods; 949-597-4600 lagunawoodsvillage.com With a 55-year history, Laguna Woods Village is home for nearly 19,000 residents living in three distinct neighborhoods that range from a highrise apartment complex to townhomes with a golf course view. There are actually two golf courses at Laguna Woods Village and it’s one of the community’s most popular features. Also popular are the 250+ clubs, the swimming pool and arts and crafts programming. Events are held throughout the year,

the most popular of which is the annual Woodstock party thrown by the Baby Boomer Club. “It’s very social, very active,” says Eileen Paulin, director of media and communications for Laguna Woods Village. In addition to the social opportunities, Laguna Woods Village has a Social Security department on site to assist residents when needed. It’s highly recommended that you work with a Realtor if you’re interested in moving to Laguna Woods Village.


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Simply The Best...

Residents at Freedom Village deserve the


T he

Bes t Lifestyle


Dining The Bes t

Best Healthcare T he

Bes t Service


FOLLOW US ON: Lic. #300606831 COA 143



Thank You FOR VOTING FOR US FOR BEST REAL ESTATE COMPANY! “Serving Orange County For Over 27 Years!”



RegencyRealEstate.com • (949) 707-4400 Mission Viejo 25950 Acero, Ste 100 Mission Viejo, CA 92691

Dana Point 24851 Del Prado Dana Point, CA 92629

DRE# 01200533

Voted Best Window/Door Company & Best Blind/Shutter Store in OC since 2011!

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SAME. SAME BUT different.

Not all retirement communities are voted the best. Home

Maintenance-free living

At Reata Glen, you have a choice of over two dozen floor plans, from well-appointed one-bedroom homes to single-story villas up to 2,800 square feet.

Convenient services like yard and home maintenance, housekeeping and laundry service are all part of the Reata Glen package.

Reata Glen

55+ community

Reata Glen

55+ community

Built-in fun

Enhanced peace of mind

On-site dining venues, theater, aquatics and fitness center, and a calendar with 200+ monthly activities and 40+ social clubs.

At a Life Plan Community, residents have priority access to the adjacent health center for long-term care, if ever needed.

Reata Glen

55+ community

Reata Glen

55+ community

Call 1-949-779-8218 to schedule a personalized tour of OC's voted best retirement community.

State of California License #306005546. Certificate of Authority #840. For the well-being of residents, Reata Glen strives to follow CDC guidance and comply with recommendations from state and local health officials. Offerings depicted are subject to change.