We received a lot of suggestions and a few complaints, including: "Survey too long!!!" Yes, we agree that a survey with 90 categories is hard to manage. Some voters voiced concern we might share their e-mail addresses but we definitely will not. Requiring an e-mail confirmation was the only way we could prevent ballot stuffing.
Please remember as you look over the results that they are the opinions of our readers. And the contest is just for fun. Although we all have our favorites, we have so many wonderful restaurants, shops and services that it is impossible to really single out just one as the best.
Feel free to send in your suggestions for next year to editor@DanvilleWeekly.com. But first this year - here are the results.
Best Auto Dealership - It's a tie: Concord BMW and Lexus of Pleasanton
Hey - what about the Mercedes dealers, not to mention Ferraris - we see them all around town.
Best Car Repair - Auto Care of Danville
Well, you sure can't beat the location on Hartz Avenue at Linda Mesa. Leave your car and go shopping. Or have lunch. Or coffee. Or etc., etc., etc.
Best Car Wash - Chamois Hand Car Wash
Is there a dirty car in Danville or Alamo? Seems they're either reeeeeeeally dirty - as in just back from the mountains - or sparkly clean. One customer pointed out that Chamois on Crow Canyon Road was able to remove difficult dirt from the car on the first try, plus the waiting area is comfortable. Another said customer service is inviting and satisfying. If you want to help out your local high schools, try the service offered by the kids waving the "free car wash" signs every weekend.
Best Danville Area Real Estate Office - J. Rockcliff Realtors
It's fun to buy a home around here - especially if you're a billionaire. No, really, choosing a home for just yourself or your family is a very personal experience, which can be made better with the right Realtor. Check out the pros in the Danville Weekly.
Best Financial Planner/Estate Planner - Summit Financial Group
We all need help with this, right? If we don't, then how about a second opinion?
Best Golf Course - It's a tie: Round Hill Country Club and Blackhawk Country Club
What makes a good golf course? It's gotta be more than the grass, and all of the courses around here are gorgeous and designed by acclaimed professionals. None of us on staff plays golf regularly but one of us used to live by a golf course. After two years, she moved away with a bucket full of balls that had fallen in her yard.
Best Pet Groomer - Blackhawk Grooming
You mean I don't just have to feed him? Grooming is something a person should definitely check out before taking a dog into the family. Does it shed or not? Need cuts? Don't they all need their nails trimmed? Finding a groomer where the pooch heads in with enthusiasm - as opposed to digging in his heels - is a real bonus.
Best Mortgage Broker/Brokerage - Countrywide Mortgage - Jim Black
So important when you need them!
Best Pet Sitter - The Pet Nanny
Apparently there are quite a few pet sitters around these parts as many people wrote in their favorites. The name Pet Nanny brings to mind Mary Poppins - with a pooch sticking out of her carpetbag. This service will give pets medications if needed but says nothing about using a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down. While loving your pets, the service also takes care of your home while you're gone, picking up mail and papers and tending plants.
The Best Place to Get a Traffic Ticket - San Ramon Valley Boulevard
Zip swiftly up and down bustling San Ramon Valley Boulevard and expect to get a ticket. The police gave a Danville Weekly reporter a ticket for making an illegal left turn over a solid yellow line on Diablo Road. He ignored the ticket for several months and received a suspension on his license and a court summons. Needless to say, he paid a couple hundred dollars for his traffic squabbles. He now realizes that it's nice to take it easy on every road and have extra cash to spend on things other than traffic violations.
Best Place to Have a First Date - Bridges Restaurant & Bar
For a first date, it's important to keep the conversation flowing. At Bridges, you can say, "Did you see 'Mrs. Doubtfire'?" It's probably best not to rave about Pierce Brosnan (or, conversely, Sally Field). Robin Williams is a safe topic. Or you can talk about the food, which is always special - in conception, taste and presentation. Second choice was Hot August Nights. Hmmm. Lack of appreciation for those classic cars - or too much appreciation - could make or break a relationship before it gets started.
Best Place to People Watch - Hartz Avenue
Park yourself on a bench or in an outdoor eatery on Hartz Avenue and see the colorful small shops situated in the heart of downtown Danville. Watch mothers pushing their children in strollers, men walking a bit unevenly out of Elliott's midday, customers going in and out of Starbucks with a grande, venti or tall (just which is what???). It's a medley of diverse pedestrians walking along under the bright blue sky.
Best Swim School - Sue's Swim School
Swimming is one of the most important skills we learn - for safety, for fun and, for some, as a sport. Sue's been here forever on Stone Valley Road, a fixture on the way to Monte Vista High School, and apparently is still tops with parents - congratulations, Sue's Swim School.
Best Tire Store/Service Center - Big O Tires
Are tires important or what? Check your treads today - then head for Big O - or Costco - or Danville Authomotive & Tire - or Wheel Works, which also got votes.
Best Tutoring School - Sylvan Learning Center
Give your children the Danville Weekly to inspire them to read!
Best Veterinarian - Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center
Our readers love their vets but this one came out ahead. Maybe it's the long hours and seven-days-a-week service. Or the fact that it was built just to be what it is - a full service veterinary clinic.
Best Travel Planner - Danville Travel
Remember to take along the Danville Weekly on your travels to snap a photo reading it. Then send it in to us to be printed in the paper as a special memento of your trip.
Best Day Spa - It's a tie: Body Adventure and Aqua Salon & Spa
Life is too short not to pamper yourself. Amen.
Best Hair Salon for Men - Giovanni's Classic Barber Shop
Indeed. Giovanni's is classic and voters agree. It's a rarity and a gem in Alamo. The Giovanni's craftsmanship comes from the old school. You're in good hands every time one of the Giovanni's barbers cuts your hair. Relax on the chair, fall asleep, and enjoy the trimming. When you wake up, you will see your hair beautifully sculpted as you look in the mirror. Even Michelangelo would be proud.
Best Hair Salon for Women - Jerol Beauty Salon
Every woman has her favorite so we could have listed a ton. How wonderful to finally find the stylist who knows how to deal with your individual cowlicks and hair texture not to mention the one who listens best to your personal problems. And if a salon has more than one who can do right by you, so much the better. Although in our opinion, until you've had your hair highlighted, you ain't been saloned.
Best Manicure/Pedicure - Pinkies
After a long period of neglect, it can take nerve to put your scruffy feet into someone's hands but staff members at Pinkie's never blink an eye or burst out laughing when they're presented with a pedicure or manicure challenge. They settle you into a comfy chair that massages you during the entire experience and bring out the warm water to soothe your cuticles. Its space is airy and attractive, chirpy with flowers and laughter. And of course the name is delightful - we also like the names Perfect 10 and Tootsie's.
Best Medical Spa - Professional Skin Aesthetics
Look good, feel good. Our readers named this place the best.
Best Women's Clothing Store - Flaunt
If you've got it, Flaunt it, so the saying goes. And our readers apparently like to flaunt what they find at this Prospect Avenue boutique. Not only does it provide stylin' rags for local chicks, but its presence adds to the fun of this shopping district that is developing a following among the hip and the well-heeled. Chico's was a close second - probably it's an age thing. Bet one rack in Chico's has more elastic waistbands than all the offerings in Flaunt.
Best Art Gallery - Art on the Lane
What is art? Something beautiful? Creative? Art isn't ordinary. Or is it? Check out Art on the Lane.
Best Athletic Apparel - Forward Motion
Hoo boy. Sports apparel has come a long way since the days of the ol' gray sweats. Designers seem unclear on the concept that one exercises vigorously because one does not have the type of body that would look good in spandex. Today's exercise clothes are cute and sassy, and the new fabrics are made for movement and comfort. But - where does one find baggy gray sweats these days?
Best Bicycle Shop - It's a tie: California Pedaler and Danville Bike
Voters feel California Pedaler and Danville Bike equally provide the sharpest and coolest bikes in the area. Check them out! Both offer an assortment for cyclists who want to zip along Danville Boulevard and down the Iron Horse Trail - or struggle up Mount Diablo. Go figure! Danville Bike has been in town for 20 years and its owner Jose Guiterrez, known as the "master of the wrench," takes the time to make sure all of his customers are satisfied.
Best Bookstore - Rakestraw Books
There is no place like Rakestraw Books, which beat mega Borders Books and Music in San Ramon by 12 votes. Rakestraw owner Michael Barnard, who originally planned to be in academia, knows books, his customers and their tastes, and he accommodates unique literary flavors while showcasing a chorus of diverse books and well-known writers during the year. He's also a great resource for kids' reads and book clubs.
Best Children's Clothing Store - Bellies N' Babies
Cute, cute, cute. These adorable little clothes, ranging from tiny hats to snuggly jammies to little dresses and sports tops, could tempt a confirmed non-parent into making a rash decision. And talk about accessories! This place has it all. People liked other shops, too, including Target. Now, really, what isn't cute when it's size "3 months"?
Best Discount Store - Tuesday Morning
Did you say discount?!?! We're blessed with two great bargain shops in Danville. The winner Tuesday Morning is located in Castle Square around the corner from Costco and Marshall's, which also received write-in votes. Guess that's bargain corner. It's great for household goods, linens, kitchenware, and odds and ends. Rick's Picks on Hartz Avenue was a not-too-distant second. This well-located eclectic shop is fun to shop in even when you don't need anything, and it's surprisingly hard to walk out empty-handed. It has a lot of quality merchandize - at a discount.
Best Florist - East Bay Florist
Say it with flowers. On Valentine's Day, a birthday, anniversary or any day.
Best Grocery Store - Trader Joe's
With $2 drinkable wine, and gourmet food at a steal, some say "TJ's" has an almost cult-like following - and it's no surprise why.
Best Health Food Store - Healthy 4 U
For special health foods, or health food advice, check out this place on Crow Canyon Road.
Best Hobby/Craft Store - Richard's Arts & Crafts
Saunter into Richard's and you'll want to get crafty. It's also a good place for little gifts, such as Beanie Babies, plus great for frames and silk flowers. The greeting card selection is good, too.
Best Home Accessory Store - Azzulina
Wow! You have to see this place to believe it.
Best Jewelry Store - Christe James Fine Jewelry Works
All that glitters is not gold - a lot of it is diamonds, emeralds and rubies. Diamonds are forever at Christe James Fine Jewelry Works. Shop owners Chris and James Edlund, winners of the 2006 Danville Area Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year award, design their jewels to their customers' individual requests. They have been in business for 13 years, and they especially enjoy picking out the best engagement rings for newly engaged couples. It's no wonder they were voted best jewelry store in the area.
Best Lingerie Store - Original Sin
Ooh la la. Climb the stairs to find this shop on the second floor at 145 E. Prospect Ave. The offerings say "temptation" and "naughty," but everything is beautiful, too.
Best Maternity Store - Bellies N' Babies
There's no reason not to look great while you await the big event. Here are clothes to make you look and feel good - and that will grow with you for the full nine months.
Best Men's Clothing Store - Edge Shop for Men
Are we in Europe? You might think so to look at the stylish men's clothing in Edge on the corner of Prospect and Front Street. When guys finally outgrow the jeans and T-shirt phase, this is the place to get them turned out in trendy duds, tasteful and elegant enough to walk onto the pages of GQ. Let wardrobe consultant Charles Meng turn you - or your man - into a classy dude.
Best Store for Pets - Molly's Pup-Purr-Ee
A big sign on the wall reads: "Life's too short to wear boring collars." And the stock at Molly's supports this belief. It also has a great selection of halters, the only way to go with the little 'uns, and seasonal collars; pet beds sized from teensy to moose; ditto the dishes. It's a fun shop to check out, and it's a joy to observe your fellow customers, especially the little furry ones. There is great stuff for dogs, cats and people who are pet lovers. Where else can you buy socks decorated with black labs? Pyrenees Pets and Alamo Pets were runners up.
Best Place to Buy a Gift - The Livery Shops
Around here we're big fans of recycled gifts. But they all have to start somewhere and our readers say the Livery Shops are a great gift-buying destination. Looking for something for someone who has everything? Check it out. Of course, we don't personally know anyone who has everything but we're sure a lot of them live around here. Elegant Clutter, located in the Livery, was just one vote away from being the best. And just about every shop in Danville and Alamo had a few fans.
Best Shoe Store - Tootsies
A woman can never have too many shoes - just ask Imelda Marcos. Of course, your collection may never be a tourist destination. But Tootsies is a good place to start for darling shoes to match every outfit or whim.
Best Toy/Kids Store - Games Unlimited
Trains and games and dolls, oh my! Need a gift or something special for your own child? Check out this place - it may also bring out the inner child in you.
Best Wine Store - Beverages & More
Walking into Beverages & More is like entering a huge supermarket filled with beer and wine, with many fermented with the finest fruits and ingredients in California, Europe and other places. It offers fabulous snacks, wine samples and the funniest greeting cards. If you want wine deals at an affordable rate, visit BevMo and see if its merlot, champagne, chardonnay and other bottles satisfy your palate. The individual-sized hard liquor bottles help to keep your drinking under control.
Best Assemble Your Own Meal Store - Now We're Cooking
Now we're talking - help with the cooking chores. Try this place out for a fun experience, good nibbling while you assemble your meals, and then good eating for weeks to come.
Best American Food Restaurant - Pete's Brass Rail & Car Wash
See below under "Best Place to Get Together With Friends."
Best Bakery - Katrina Rozelle Pastries & Desserts
Do you smell sweet cakes, cookies and tarts in the air at Alamo Plaza? Then you must be at Katrina Rozelle Pastries & Desserts. Owner Katrina Rozelle Topp, one of the finest bakers in California, adds elegance and grace to her luscious baked treats. Danville Town Bakery was a close runnerup.
Best Breakfast - Country Waffles
Smell the scent of fresh eggs, French toast, pancakes and waffles percolating in the air at Country Waffles, which beat Vally Medlyn's by a slim margin. Stop by the eatery in the morning and you'll find waitresses giving you sunny smiles, "hellos," "hi's" and "how are you's." Country Waffles is located where San Ramon Valley Boulevard splits into Railroad Avenue and Hartz - stop for breakfast as you enter downtown.
Best Burger - Lawrence Meats
Hands down. Smell the smoke at Lawrence Meats and see if you can pass it by. The butcher shop barbeques the best burgers, franks and grilled park sandwiches in the area, out on the patio. If your mouth is watering for a hamburger, hotdog, chicken, pork or steak sandwich, drop by Lawrence Meats around lunchtime.
Best Burrito - El Balazo Crossroads
It's like little Mexico when you enter Taqueria El Balazo Crossroads. The Taqueria's burritos, fajitas and quesadillas are made fresh - with newly cooked meats, beans, rice and vegetables daily. The wall paintings of Mexican culture inside Taqueria add to the Latin tang in your burritos.
Best Chinese Restaurant - Uncle Yu's
Readers raved about Uncle Yu's Szechuan on Crow Canyon Place for all-round good Chinese fare plus for takeout. Bring on the chopsticks! Alamo Palace was popular, too.
Best Deli - Domenico's
OK, it ain't a Jewish deli in New York but it sure has its specialties. Its wild rice salad is tops, although our Epicure columnist has given a recipe for one she says is its equal. But the point of a deli is to find it readymade and, in most cases, better than you can make it yourself. And Domenico's does this in spades.
Best French Restaurant - Pascal French Oven
The choice is yours at Pascal French Oven. Scones, omelets and coffee for breakfast? How about grilled chicken and avocado on a croissant for lunch? Mmmm. Eat at Pascal French Oven on Railroad Avenue for a taste of Paris and great friendly service. And you can order in English.
Best Ice Cream / Yogurt Shop - Cold Stone Creamery
The main draw of Cold Stone, located in the Livery, is that patrons get to pick what ice cream they want along with a "mix-in" of their choosing that can be anything from strawberries to graham crackers to chocolate chips, which all gets mixed together on a cold stone (hence the name). Just one vote behind was Yogurt Shack, opened on the corner of Hartz and Diablo Road by a Danville family last year. Here you add your own toppings and pay according to the weight. The Web site lists the flavors of the day.
Best Independent Coffee House - Yellow Wood Coffee & Tea
The gold light in Yellow Wood Coffee brings out the glitter from baristas brewing coffee, and tranquility from customers as they sit on soft couches and chairs, working on their laptops or conversing about their lives, their families, their views of the world. Venture capitalists wearing jeans, college students wearing sweatpants, mothers with other mothers, and a singing barista hang out at the popular coffee shop in Alamo.
Best Indian Restaurant - Masala Indian Fusion
Masala pairs the spices of traditional Indian fare with Western ingredients to bring its cuisine to a new level. The décor is sparse and pleasing, and the food presentation makes each plate a work of art.
Best Italian Restaurant - Basil Leaf Café
The best of Northern Italy is right here on Hartz Avenue. From a chicken portobello sandwich with fresh basil on a baguette to linguini with garlic and mushrooms and basil for lunch and to eggplant tri-colore with fresh mozzarella and roasted pepper, and penne with smoked salmon and fresh spinach in gorgonzola oil, you'll find your appetite soothed and your hunger filled - maybe for weeks. How can you resist the alluring temptations of Basil Leaf Cafe?
Best Mediterranean/Middle Eastern Restaurant - The Peasant & The Pear
This restaurant in downtown Danville said it owes its name to its rustic California and Mediterranean cuisine. Apparently, that's how our readers see it, too. Faz Restaurant came in second.
Best Mexican Restaurant - Luna Loca Mexican Restaurant
Not only the food is good here - the location is beautiful, located in the Livery with a patio that is mucho relaxing.
Best Outdoor Dining - Faz
Faz has a large inviting patio situated among redwood trees. The tinkling of the fountain and the sounds of visiting and laughing make it perfect on a warm summer evening. Of course the food helps the fun atmosphere - the Mediterranean specialties or the gourmet pizzas cooked in a wood burning oven that also produces flat bread to die for.
Best Personal Chef - Niel Ruggiero Chef for Hire
What a concept! What's Niel's number?
Best Pizza - Ascona Pizza Co.
Voters find that Ascona Pizza Co. on Camino Tassajara near the Blackhawk Safeway is the yummiest pizzeria in the area and it's got stiff competition. They say the pizza's savory, cheesy and garlic buttered crust brings boundless ecstasy to their tastebuds. Plus, the casual family ambiance, sports theme and friendly service keeps customers coming for more cheese, more garlic and more fun.
Best Place for a Business Lunch - Piatti's
An important trait for a business lunch is bustle - mustn't forget we're on limited time here. Good food and ambiance are also a must.
Best Romantic Restaurant - Bridges
Bridges again! It also won for the Best Place for a First Date. Can there be a connection? New romance or old, this spot has it. It begins as the valet opens your car doors, and you stroll through the vine-covered entrance. Then gaze into each other's eyes over one of its fine meals with a world-class wine. Last time we were there for dinner, no fewer than four couples were celebrating their anniversaries. A toast to romance!
Best Sushi/Japanese Restaurant - Kane Sushi Japanese Cuisine
Sushi is popular here - this category received a lot of vote. And Kane was voted the best by our readers. One problem we've found - you may have to wait for a table.
Best Take-out Restaurant - Great Impasta
Some foods travel better than others and pasta seems to travel best of all. Especially from the Great Impasta in the Livery.
Best Thai Restaurant - Thai House Restaurant
Sawaddi! This means hello and goodbye. The Thai House on Rose Avenue in Danville not only serves scrumptious food but the little restaurant is charmingly decorated with Siamese décor. The waitresses hail from the Land of Smiles and have brought their gracious ways with them. Be sure to ask if mangoes and sticky rice are in season for dessert - only the Thais would have thought of this magical food combination. Jitr Thai in Alamo was a close second. Sawaddi.
Best California Cuisine - Patrick David
Patrick David has made a mark for itself and put Danville on the map, with both its gourmet meals and its desserts. Our readers also like the Peasant and the Pear, and Café Esin.
Let's Get Physical
Best Bike or Walking Trail; Best Place to Jog, Walk a Dog - Iron Horse Trail
How lucky we are to have this wonderful resource. Thank goodness we thought to kick out the Southern Pacific, put its trains in storage somewhere, pick up all that nasty iron track, and leave its right of way for us to bike, walk, jog and walk our dogs. Plus how wonderful that the San Ramon Valley had its era of the train so the railroad bought the land when it was still affordable and preserved this thoroughfare for us instead of building more houses. We have enough houses, but such a lovely trail is a gift from the gods. Sometimes things just work out, don't they?
Best Health Club - Bally Total Fitness
It's nice our readers chose Bally because it also gets involved with community projects such as the Weight Loss Challenge held last spring. Check out the trainers and equipment, located in the Town and Country Shopping Center.
Best Martial Arts Studio - Tao Sports
Tao Sports Taekwondo owner Rick Kemsley, an avid Harry Potter fan, and his staff of instructors help students develop their bodies, minds and spirits in harmony through discipline and focused martial arts training. From his teachings, his students find success in his school and in life. Kemsley's mantra focuses on safety and core conditioning and a fun environment where his students can reach the pinnacle of their potential.
Best Personal Trainer/Studio - Fitness Together
This must be the best way to get in shape, with a personal trainer. Our readers seemed to know all about it - no wonder everyone looks so good!
Best Yoga/Pilates - IM=X Pilates Studio
This place has added a second location in Alamo - it must be doing something right.
Best Nursery - Navlet's Garden Center
This newly re-built garden center is as spacious and fresh as any gardener could ask. It can take a long time to peruse all the items for sale inside the building. What garden doesn't need a little troll to hide among its foliage? The selection of gardening hats is outstanding, for both men and women - and recommended by the American Cancer Society. Once outside, row after row of fresh and healthy plants shout, "Buy me! Buy me!" And your garden will surely be the better for your lack of willpower. Tassajara Nursery came in second. Who can resist a peak at its pottery while driving east on Camino Tassajara?
Best Antique Store - Sophie's At Rue 137
Check it out next time you're at Starbucks or cruising the shops on Prospect. Cottage Jewel on Railroad was a close second.
Best Flooring Store - First Choice Abby Carpet of Danville
Time for new carpeting already? First Choice was the readers first choice.
Best Hardware Store - Alamo Yardbirds Home Depot
Everyone lamented its closure last year and now everyone seems thrilled to have it back. Need a hammer? Nails? Microwave oven? Alamo Yardbirds Home Depot has it all. Plus it's a great place to run into friends, second only to Alamo Safeway. And, as someone blogged on our Web site - it pipes in classical music. The new nursery section still has all the old basics and is a convenient spot to pick up some color. The renovations also resulted in an attractive fence section at its rear on the Iron Horse Trail.
Best Home Consignment Shop - Home Consignment Center
Check in frequently because the stock keeps changing. And so can your home with the treasures you find here.
Best Home Furnishings - Elegant Clutter
This is another one of those places to check out frequently. It's great for gifts - for friends or for yourself.
Best Interior Designer - J. Hettinger Interiors
Stunning. What more can be said about the results after a home has been entrusted to J. Hettinger?
Best Kitchen/Bath Designer and Best Kitchen/Bath Remodeler - Kitchens of Diablo
Our readers raved about this place - its designs, its timeliness and its results. "I felt comfortable leaving for vacation while the work was in progress," reported one fan.
Best Landscaper/Designer - Big Dog Landscape
Just who is responsible for all these beautiful yards? Quite a few chose Big Dog.
Best Remodeling Contractor - Shawn Lober Construction
Shawn Lober makes remodeling like ripping off a Band-Aid: Most people cringe at the thought of tearing their house apart in the name of a new bathroom or wing, but this year's winner prides himself on making it quick and painless. Our readers say he rolls the work along like clockwork.
Best Place for a Picnic - Mount Diablo
Like your picnics with a view? Apparently our readers do, too. Although the Danville and Alamo parks all had their fans, Mount Diablo won by a large margin. Since it's right in our back yard, it's not too far to go to just enjoy a meal although it can easily be combined with a hike; you can hike to the 3,839-foot summit on trails ranging from just less than a mile to almost seven miles. The state park also has picnic tables with plenty of parking and group picnic areas.
Best Place for an After Work Drink - Piatti's
We noticed this when we did a story on Singles in the Suburbs.
Best Place for Dancing and Best Place for Live Music- Sh-Boom
Makes sense the two would go together.
Best Place to Get Together With Friends - Pete's Brass Rail and Car Wash
This is a place with a buzz as the beer flows and patrons contend to try yet another of the brews on Pete's Connoisseur's Club Hall of Fame Beer List. As the restaurant says: "There is no brass rail, there is no car wash, and who the hell is Pete?" No one seems bothered by these incongruities as the restaurant welcomes families, singles and everyone in between. The salads are big, the burgers are delicious and the staff is friendly. It's nice on quiet nights to watch a game, but on weekends, the excitement level is high - must be all those people getting together with friends.