Shopping And Services
Best Of 2000
Thursday, March 23, 2000
BEST PLACE TO BUY ART SUPPLIES
Searle639 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey, 373-0126
Sometimes in the course of international intrigue it becomes necessary to frame someone. Or to paint them into a corner. One frequently has to canvas a neighborhood with a broad palette of colorful techniques, sculpting new ways to give someone the brush-off before taking them to the matte. When it comes to finding supplies for any sort of artistic endeavor, Agent 000 knows the place to shop is Searle Art Supplies or Art Max (Searle's cleverly disguised Seaside location).
Runner-up: Crafts Unlimited, Monterey
BEST PLACE TO BUY CRAFT SUPPLIES
Crafts Unlimited2090 N. Fremont St., Monterey, 646-0346
Looking for some leather to lace up your moccasins? Some fabric to finish your sarong? How about some wax to replenish the candle you've been burning at both ends? Silk flowers to replace that houseplant you never remember to water? Unpainted ceramics? Sequins? You name it, and you can find it at Crafts Unlimited.
Runner-up: Beverly's Fabric, Seaside and Monterey
Wells FargoMultiple locations, toll-free 24-hour telephone banking center (800) 869-3557
Bigger really is better when it comes to our readers and banking. Pressed to name the place you most want to give your money to, you chose mega-bank Wells Fargo. Maybe it's the cool horse-and-wagon they use in their ad campaign. Maybe it's the Old West cachet. Maybe it's the 1,800 branches and 4,300 ATM machines in 10 states. With nine branches and in-store locations on the Peninsula and six more in Salinas, Agent 000 is never far from her money when she comes to MoCo.
Runner-up: Bank of America, multiple locations
BEST BIKE STORE
Aquarian Bike Shop486 Washington St., Monterey, 375-2144
Who do you call when your wheel gets bent after an especially harsh ride at Fort Ord? A perennial winner in this category, our readers says Aquarian Bikes can fix nearly any mountain or road bike problem, and if not, they can sell you a whole new Rockhopper to enjoy.
Runner-up: Joselyn's Bicycles, Monterey
BEST CAR WASH
El Estero Hand Wash590 Fremont St., Monterey. 373-1801
The friendly and fast car shiners at El Estero do a bang-up job at not banging-up your car's paint. It's rumored that this was the only car wash, in fact, that James Bond trusted with his Aston-Martin. The popular car wash near Lake El Estero often has a line out the back on sunny days, a statement on the care these washers take with everything from fenders to windows. They'll even do full detailing to keep your jalopy sparkling inside and out.
Runner-up: Del Rey Car Wash, Del Rey Oaks
BEST COMPUTER STORE
PC People534 Abrego St., monterey, 649-5900
When you've got a bad case of cyber-shock, PC People promises to fix your glitches and gobble up your gremlins. And when you try to describe exactly the havoc your glitches and gremlins are manifesting in layperson's terms, they are to be commended for trying very hard not to giggle. As we increasingly become more dependent on our hard drives, a computer store that cares becomes almost as important as the grocery store or gas station.
Runner-up: Circuit City, multiple locations
BEST DIVE SHOP
Bamboo Reef614 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey, 372-1685
Bamboo Reef opens at the crack of dawn Saturday and Sunday for all you weekend wetsuiters, eager to plummet the depths of Monterey Bay's giant kelp forest. They offer rentals and sales of everything you need to go down under, as well as lessons, certification, dive trips, and free air on Fridays (plus a collection of the odd bits of stuff local divers have picked up on the bay floor).
Runner-up: Aquarius Dive Shop, Monterey
BEST DRY CLEANERS
Rainbow Cleaners269 Bonifacio Place, Monterey, 372-6743
Pick up your pants from Rainbow and you'll find your creases so sharp, they're a felony in some states (and, yes, Agent 000 has apprehended the felonious crease-wielders where appropriate). Courteous counter people and quick turn-around times help to make Rainbow the favorite choice of an appreciative, sartorially correct clientele.
Runner-up: PG Cleaners, Pacific Grove
BEST ETHNIC MARKET
Sunrise Grocery400 Pearl St., Monterey, 372-2524
Weekly readers tap this family-run specialty shop every year as their favorite place to pick up dried Chinese mushrooms and cooking sake. Specializing in Japanese and Chinese cooking ingredients for more than 80 years, Sunrise also caters to other Asian tastes such as Thai and Korean, with canned and bottled goods, fresh and frozen items, and cooking utensils. Coconut milk? Salted black beans? Frozen dim sum? You'll find it here, along spacious, brightly lit aisles.
Runner-up: International Market, Monterey
swenson and Silacci90 W. Alisal St., Salinas, 424-2725
432 Alvarado St., Monterey, 375-2725
The success that Swenson and Silacci has enjoyed, being chosen "best" by Weekly readers and being in business for 52 years, comes from their commitment to fresh, exotic flowers. The arrangements created by S&S range from elegant orchids to whimsical daisies. The staff knows a rose is not just a rose on that special occasion, so they provide only the best.
Runner-up: Pacific Grove Floral Co.
BEST HEALTH CLUB
Monterey Sports Center301 E. Franklin St., Monterey, 646-3700
Agent 000 obviously has to keep in shape. While you'll usually spot her sweating (or making other people sweat) at runner-up Garden Health and Fitness, she sometimes goes under cover and heads to the Monterey Sports Center to pick up a game of B-ball or swim laps in the 30-meter indoor pool. All secret agents know that the Sports Center is not just a health club. It's an activity center for the whole family, offering aerobics for mom, camps and classes for kids, and a weight room for dad. And the best part? No commitment necessary. Exercisers can join for three, six or 12 months. Or, you can pay a drop-in fee just for the day--all the better for an agent on the move.
BEST FURNITURE STORE-NEW
Furniture Mart1740 N. Main St., Salinas, 442-7520
425 Pacific St., Monterey, 372-7766
280 Reservation Rd., Marina, 384-4884
It's hard to beat this furniture giant for sheer selection, but more than that, it feels good to walk in the store (especially the Monterey location, which has been upgraded into a kind of fantasy garden of mile-deep armchairs and plush designer sofas). Looking to set yourself up in a Victorian boudoir? A Moroccan tea room? An elegant French dining room? Or do you just need a clean and simple bed for the kids? Ask the friendly folks at Furniture Mart.
Runner-up: Poppletons, Monterey
BEST JEWELRY STORE
Gasper's Jewelers447 Alvarado St., Monterey, 375-5332
The way to a man's heart may be through his stomach but a fast way to a woman's is with diamonds. The longstanding reputation of Gasper's guarantees the finest in gems, settings, necklaces and watches. Readers have been going back to Gasper's for years, for the best gold jewelry and sparkling stones.
BEST NATURAL FOODS STORE
BEST PLACE TO BUY ORGANIC PRODUCE
Whole FoodsDel Monte Center, Monterey, 333-1600
Any corporate bad guys lurking in the aisles at Whole Foods, the nation's largest chain of natural food stores? Nope, says Agent 000--just plenty of fruit. Fields and fields of fruit. And vegetables, and hormone-free milk, and cruelty-free makeup, and Far Eastern sauces and recycled toilet paper...it's hard to compete with a store that has so darn much, and displays it so perfectly. Whole Foods in Monterey carries more than 200 varieties of fresh produce on any given day, with about half of that organic. All local produce is so labelled, to let you know when you're supporting your neighbors.
Natural Foods Runner-up: Cornucopia Community Market & Cafe, Carmel
Organic Produce Runner-up:Farmers' Markets
BEST WOMEN'S CLOTHING BOUTIQUE
Catherine's405 Calle Principal, Monterey, 646-1565
This six-year-old boutique specializes in women's clothing that is "fun but a little different." Catherine's carries reasonably priced attire, some with a soft look and some a more tailored style. Generally, the designers get rotated but some favorites, such as Tribal and Mondo, are kept in stock. Catherine's also sells David Khan jeans, handpainted purses, belts and jewelry.
Runner-up: The Clothing Store, Pacific Grove
BEST STORE FOR MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
Music Unlimited425 Alvarado St., Monterey, 372-5893
G'ahead. Buy yourself a trumpet so you can blow your own horn. Or a piano. Or a guitar. Or a djembe. Whatever your choice of instrument, wherever in the world it might have come from, you'll find it at Music Unlimited. And if you have a budding musician in the house, you'll be able to rent many band instruments until you find out whether their interest in music is real, or whether it's just a passing phase. And if you're looking to put some music in your own soul, you can take lessons from the many accomplished musicians who work out of the back rooms. (Where do you think Agent 000 learned to play the kazoo?)
Runner-up: Gadsby's Music, Salinas
BEST SHOE STORE
PaylessNine Monterey County locations
OK. You're not going to find your Charles Jourdans or your Cole Haans here, there's probably more vinyl than leather on the shelves, and the shoes here probably won't last as long as more expensive brands. But you will find a large selection of styles at bargain prices, which, sometimes is exactly what you need when you're buying shoes for kids and their growing feet, or when you're looking for some knock-around shoes for doing yardwork, walking around town, or for those mid-level fancy events where your Birkenstocks or Tony Lamas just won't work.
Runner-up: Macy's, Monterey and Salinas
BEST FURNITURE STORE--USED
BEST THRIFT STORE
GoodwillFour locations in Salinas, Seaside and Monterey
Has the relationship with your love seat gone south? Is your bed's headboard suffering from a migraine? Your table leg got shin splints? Whether you're a student on a budget, saving your pennies to buy a new computer or an artist who's looking for old furniture needing a creative, colorful new paint job, Goodwill has what you're looking for. In fact, they have almost everything you need, whether it's dinnerware (stylishly mismatched), jackets, skirts, mattresses or televisions. If you don't need to buy it new, why pay new prices? Besides it's another way to practice the "reduce, reuse and recycle" philosophy that's so necessary in today's world.
Used Furniture Runner-up: Patrick's Consignment Store, Pacific Grove
Thrift Store Runner-up: Salvation Army, multiple locations
BEST MEN'S CLOTHING STORE
Dick Bruhn, A Man's StoreLocations in Monterey, Salinas, King City
When it's time to move up from denim trousers and T-shirts, Dick Bruhn is the place to go. From quiet, elegant men's wear to contemporary casual, Dick Bruhn has no equal in Monterey County. And don't worry if you have no idea about what color jacket will match your slacks, or if you really need a three-piece suit to complete your wardrobe. The skilled staff at Dick Bruhn make even the most fashion-unconscious consumer feel comfortable and well cared-for.
Runner-up: Khakis Men's Clothier, Carmel
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD MARKET
Grove Market242 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove, 375-9581
Charles Higuera and Dwight Langley have owned this friendly neighborhood grocery store for more than 30 years, and it's become more than a fixture in the community. Folks chat in the aisles, the cashiers know your name, and everyone gets a smile. And they know their customers' tastes, as well--for a small store, it seems to carry everything you want. High-quality fresh produce and an in-house butcher are two highlights. Check out the sandwiches, made fresh daily, for $3.95.
Runner-up: Monte Vista Market, Monterey
BEST OUTDOOR GEAR STORE
Outdoor World2222 N. Fremont St., Monterey, 373-3615
When Agent 000 is sent on a perilous outdoor expedition, she always stops at Outdoor World to stock up on camping supplies, cold-weather gear, and ammunition for her "persuader." When she's going on vacation and wants some beachwear, sunblock and a skimboard she goes to Outdoor World. And when she's just relaxing on the weekend by playing a casual game of pickup basketball or engaging in a more fiercely contested tennis match... you know where she goes. Agent 000 knows that whatever she needs, Outdoor World can put the outdoors in her world.
Runner-up: Big 5 Sporting Goods, Monterey
Griggs Nursery9220 Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley, 626-0680 & 1021 David Ave., Pacific Grove, 373-4495
Once again, Weekly readers say Griggs is the best nursery in the county. And no wonder. Griggs' two lush locations carry an outstanding selection of shrubs, trees, flowering plants, succulents, and native plants. And, in P.G., Griggs also offers a flower and gift shop, a good reason to stop by even if you're no gardener. But it's the personal service and high level of customer attention that keep the green thumbs coming back to Griggs.
Runner-up: Graeber Gardens, Salinas
BEST PET STORE
PetsMart2020 California Ave., Sand City, 392-0150
1265 N. Davis Rd., Salinas, 755-0318
It cannot be denied: PetsMart is a pet owner's paradise. Person and pooch alike appreciate the store's vast selection of everything an animal needs to survive--and a lot it doesn't. But it doesn't end with pet supplies. PetsMart also provides an outstanding range of services, including veterinary care, grooming, training classes and pet adoption. PetsMart is one-stop shopping for pets and their owners.
Runner-up: Posh Pets, Pacific Grove
BEST PHOTO DEVELOPING
Longs DrugsFive Monterey County locations
Your one-stop-shop when it comes to picking up some corn pads, a gallon of milk, some pretty fair wines, a birthday card and a bottle of Tidy Bowl. Another bonus, the clerks in their crisp green smocks have been often observed and admired for their polite helpfulness. In the cold hard turf of avenging organized crime, terrorism and people that double park 'cause they're scared of getting a scratch, it never fails to make a girl's day. And, with locations spread across the entire county, you don't have an excuse to not get your film developed. Whether it's for snapshots from your Hawaiian vacation or fine quality enlargements, our readers again choose Longs for their affordable prices and convenient one-hour processing. When the kids at Susie's birthday party smear cake in her hair, you can see the photos right away.
Pharmacy Runner-up: Ordway, Monterey
Photo Developing Runner-up: Green's Camera World, Monterey and Salinas
BEST LIQUOR STORE
Cork 'n' Bottle1112 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove, 372-6091
2210 N. Fremont St., Monterey, 372-8246
610 E. Alisal St., Salinas, 424-5244
Independently and locally owned for 20 years, our readers say that Monterey County's Cork 'n' Bottles offer the best in libation. Mr. Cork 'n' Bottle himself, Ron Pollacci, recently sold the Monterey store to his son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Christy Pollacci, who are carrying on dad's commitment to selection and service. All Cork 'n' Bottle locations offer a wide selection of wine, spirits, micro-brewed beer. And, Cork 'n' Bottle is your headquarters for kegs and party supplies. The Monterey store, conveniently located across the street from the bowling alley, also offers homemade sandwiches from its deli and an extensive selection of California wines.
Runner-up: Bottles 'n' Bins, Monterey
BEST PLACE TO BUY WINE
Trader Joe's1170 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove, 656-0180
Trader Joe's uses its buying power and industriousness to get inside deals with wineries, buying out entire stocks as well as securing ongoing relationships. That's why they can offer more than 300 varieties of high-quality wines at such low prices, according to "first mate" Mark Edwards (who, in other stores would be called "manager"). The store's focus is people who want to serve a good wine without emptying their wallets, and the non-intimidating environment encourages first-time buyers to make forays into unknown territory. This month, for example, they're offering wines by Central Coast winery Foxhorn for the stunning price of $2.99. "The Chardonnay is wonderful," Edwards claims. "We're selling it by the caseload."
Runner-up: Costco, Sand City, Salinas
BEST PLACE TO BUY SEAFOOD
Sea Harvest1136 S. Main St., Salinas, 422-2016
598 Foam St., Monterey, 646-0547
100 Crossroads Blvd., Carmel, 626-3626
You can always count on Sea Harvest to have the freshest, widest selection of quality seafood, local and flown-in from faraway waters. And they get extra points for being owned and operated by local fishermen. You can eat in, or bring your catch home to cook--pick up one of their sauces or wines to go along with it. Try their fish and chips--delicious!
Runner-up: Monterey Wharf
BEST RETIREMENT FACILITY
Canterbury Woods651 Sinex Ave., Pacific Grove, 373-3111
The Monterey Peninsula has some pretty classy retirement homes, but Canterbury Woods tickled your fancy yet again as the best of the bunch. The quiet yet accessible Pacific Grove location helps, as does the friendly staff and administration. Owned and operated by the Episcopal Life Foundation, Canterbury Woods is nevertheless non-denominational, and one of just three Life Care communities in Monterey County. That means you pay a lot of money to get in, but once you're there, they take care of you for life, which is more than your ungrateful children might do.
Runner-up: Park Lane--A Classic Residence--by Hyatt, Monterey
BEST PLACE TO BUY CDS/TAPES
Wherehouse MusicFour locations in Carmel, Monterey and Salinas
Sure, you can buy music from any number of Web sites now, and even download songs onto your own CDs. But nothing will replace the experience of browsing leisurely through racks while you contemplate the perfect recording to suit your mood. And the best place to do that, say Weekly readers, is at any of the four local Wherehouse locations. Whether Agent 000 is planning a seductive evening (say, with some Johnny Mathis) or a more raucous weekend party (perhaps some Smashing Pumpkins?) she knows her first stop is at Wherehouse.
Runner-up: Do Re Mi, Monterey and Carmel
BEST SURF SHOP
On The Beach Surf Shop693 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey, 646-9283
When the surf's up on the Peninsula, local surfers head to On The Beach to grab what they need to face the swell. On The Beach offers a full selection of wetsuits and surfboards, plus skateboards, snowboards, and all the attire you need to engage in your board sport of choice. Agent 000 likes On the Beach because they carry women's clothing and equipment, too, plus a great selection of cool shades--a must for secret agents and surfers alike.
Runner-up: Sunshine Freestyle Sports, Monterey
BEST VIDEO STORE
BlockbusterSix Monterey County locations
It's all about looking: If you're looking for Hollywood's latest releases, you don't have to look any further than Blockbuster. With shelf after shelf dedicated to new releases, there's no reason to fall behind in your movie viewing. And with locations scattered all throughout the county, you don't have to look very far to find a Blockbuster.
Runner-up: Hollywood Video, Salinas and Seaside
BEST SHOE REPAIR
Frederico's Drive-In542 Abrego St., Monterey, 649-3322
Chasing bad guys for a living can put a lot of wear and tear on your shoes, and with the recent government cutbacks in the counter-intelligence budget, Agent 000 knows it makes sense to get her shoes repaired at Frederico's, the choice of secret agents everywhere since 1940. With their quality work, quick service and reasonable prices, Agent 000 knows she doesn't have to worry about missing a step in her pursuit of the bad guys.
Runner-up: Grove Shoe Hospital, Pacific Grove
BEST NEW BOOKSTORE
Borders Books Music & Cafe2080 California Ave., Sand City, 899-6643
It's easy to get lost, roaming the miles of aisles filled with new books at Borders. But with the helpful staff, that's not a problem. They can give you directions to the newest John Grisham, or tell you where to find books by local authors. And with discounts on the newest releases, as well as tables groaning under the weight of remaindered (and heavily discounted) sale books, Agent 000 finds that Borders takes the pain out of her literary gain.
Runner-up: Bay Books, Monterey
BEST USED BOOKSTORE
Old Capitol Books639A Lighthouse Ave., Monterey, 375-2665
There's a certain romance about buying used hardcover books. As you thumb through the pages, you get a feeling of connection with someone else who's been there before you. On some level, your mind is wondering about that person how s/he was feeling or thinking as s/he read the same pages that you're on. It's a small mystery and pleasure that runs as a background to whatever you're reading. Somehow, buying a used paperback doesn't have quite the same feel--but what the heck? The point of buying a paperback is to save money, and if you're buying a used paperback you're saving even more. Regardless of which pleasure you're shopping for, you'll find it at Old Capitol.
Runner-up: Books & Things, Monterey
BEST PLACE TO BUY A CAR
Seaside's Motor CityHeitzinger Plaza, Seaside
When it comes to four-wheel transportation one location stands out as the clear winner for your shopping needs: Seaside's Motor City. Whether you're looking for a sporty new Volkswagen Bug, an even sportier Mazda Miata, a dependable Toyota or Nissan pickup or a Volvo, Chevy, Ford... you get the idea. You want a car? You're going to find it here.
BEST GOLF STORE
Nevada Bob's399 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey, 372-5516
Claiming to be "the world's largest chain of pro-fessional golf shops," Nevada Bob's offers everything a golfer could long for. Agent 000 knows that when it comes time to infiltrate the links, she can find the putters, drivers, clothing and accessories that'll make her look like a pro on the greens. And if she damages one of her clubs by whacking an enemy agent over the head, she knows she can bring it back to Bob's for repairs.
Runner-up: Pebble Beach