The winners are:
Best auto dealership: Concord BMW
We expected a Mercedes dealership to win based on our unscientific observations but our Readers Choice poll responders chose Concord BMW. Around here they're just called Beemers but apparently they're called "bimmers" in Jamaica. In Germany where they're made - that's Bavarian Motor Works - BMW is pronounced "bay emm vay." None of us drive beemers; we're in the newspaper business.
Best car repair: Danville Service Center
What's all that cussing? Aha! Your car came to a rolling stop so who do ya call? Not the Ghostbusters, but Danville Service Center. At least that's what our readers say. Located on West Linda Mesa in Danville, it earned five stars by one person on Yelp! after charging half what the dealership quoted.
Best car wash: Sponges and Chamois
Can't stand those bird droppings another minute? Then head on down to Sponges (next to Costco) or Chamois (near Blackhawk Safeway), which tied for best car wash in the area. Yes, you can do those drive-throughs when you buy gas - but who wants to sit terrified while being attacked by monster rolling brushes, not to mention the cyclone that dries the car. Plus they don't really get the car that clean. For shiny rims and spotless windows, inside and out, trust these two favorites.
Best computer repair: Tri-Valley PC Medic
Medic! When your PC has problems, according to our readers, call out for Tri-Valley PC Medic. (When our PCs crash, we yell other things.) Computers are like cars; we love them until they don't work. It's a love-hate relationship. And the Medic can help you stay in love.
Best Danville Area real estate office/Realtor: J. Rockcliff
Looking to sell or buy a house? Most of us go through this scary adventure a few times in our lives and it helps to have a pro by our side. We're blessed with a lot of area experts so shop first for a Realtor you like. Location, location, location - we're already in the best.
Best financial planner: Summit Financial Group
Financial planning? What a concept. Summit Financial Group offers comprehensive financial planning and wealth management. Also the group is hosting its seventh annual Charity Golf Tournament on Oct. 12 at Crow Canyon Country Club, this year benefiting the Troy and Alana Pack Foundation.
Best golf course: Blackhawk Country Club
This is a tough category in this golf course-blessed Valley. Blackhawk was originally a ranch raising prized thoroughbreds. The golf courses and luxury housing were developed in 1979, originally featuring opulent homes in the hinterlands. But the landscaping has matured and grown lush, and Danville and San Ramon have grown out to meet it. Blackhawk has come into its own as golf nirvana.
Best mortgage broker/brokerage: Jim Black, Countrywide
What's a house without a mortgage? Old. Jim Black of Countrywide Mortgage received the most votes from our readers so he must be doing something right. It's important that your mortgage broker knows his stuff and our readers trust Mr. Black.
Best pet groomer: Shampooches
Aw, come on, you guys just like the name. This San Ramon establishment opened in 1993 and provides professional grooming services for all breeds of dogs and cats. It also has a self-bathing tub - no, not to bathe yourself, to bathe your animal yourself. That's for those customers who enjoy washing their pets but don't want the mess in their homes. Shampooches motto is: "Tails are Waggin, Pets are Braggin." Let your pooch walk proud!
Best pet sitter: Pets Plus
No one looks as sad as a pet watching his owners pack their bags. But maybe Pets Plus can turn this around. PP's goal is to make sure the owners feel totally comfortable leaving their loved ones in their care. They also point out that a pet sitter offers home security and yard care as well as pet care as they bring in the mail and newspaper, water plants, etc. But most importantly pets can stay in their own environment, and all the pets can stay together.
Best place to get a traffic ticket: Camino Tassajara
Come on, folks, the speed limit on Camino Tassajara is 45 mph and no one needs to go faster than that. Plus those helpful signs give drivers an electronic reading on their speeds midway between the freeway and Blackhawk. Maybe people like to see just how high they can make that number go.
Best place to have a first date, best place for a picnic: Mount Diablo
Whether it be at Rock City, the top of the mountain or just out on one of the many miles of trails crisscrossing its massive expanse, Mount Diablo is the perfect place for a picnic - and a first date. Nearly unlimited views all the way to the ocean, coupled with narrow valleys and hidden waterfalls make this a beautiful area to hike, explore and enjoy. But on a first date, be sure to keep your eyes on the winding road en route - nothing puts the kibosh on romance like being carsick.
Best place to people watch: Starbucks on Hartz Avenue.
Need a dog fix or a kid fix without getting one of your own? Settle yourself at a table at Starbucks on Hartz Avenue and you'll see it all as people go about their business in downtown Danville. The show includes hot chicks and hunks, too. Obviously warm weather and summer fashions are the best so get on down.
Best senior living facility: Villa San Ramon
Have you always wanted a home with white columns? This grand entrance can be yours at Villa San Ramon, voted No. 1 by our readers. The outdoors is important here, with lush landscaping, courtyards and a one-mile walking path. Residents can exercise their green thumbs in their personal gardens set in raised planter boxes. Villa San Ramon offers independent living as well as assisted living, Alzheimer's and respite care.
Best swim school: Sue's Swim School
Yes, there really is a Sue, Sue Pantos, who has been teaching and coaching since 1971. Sue taught swimming in Indiana, then moved to California in 1979 and taught in home pools. Since 1985, she has been owner and head instructor at Sue's Swim School in Alamo. To those who drive up and down Stone Valley Road the school is a landmark. To those who want to learn how to swim, it's a godsend.
Best tire store/service center: Big O Tires
Roll 'em out, those big O's that hold up our vehicles. Apparently there's more to this shop than a clever name because our readers chose Big O Tires as the best store and service center. It's also conveniently located in downtown Danville next to the Iron Horse Trail.
Best travel planner: Danville Travel
"See the pyramids along the Nile..." or any of the other wonders of the world. And our readers say they go to Danville Travel on San Ramon Valley Boulevard to help them plan their adventures - by land, by air or by sea - by yourself, in a group, or with a tour.
Best tutoring school: On Track Learning
On Track Learning was started a few years ago by Dan Harrington, a teacher in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District who found he liked to teach one on one. At first he went to students in their homes but as his business grew he opened his tutoring center in Alamo, behind Cherubini's coffee shop. Our readers say this business helps them stay on track.
Best veterinarian: Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center
Our readers chose Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center as their favorite place for health care and services for their pets. It offers the convenience of a large facility - lots of good doctors, open seven days a week, a pet store right next door - and is well planned, from the doggie relief area in front to the grassy expanse in the back to the spacious, well-planned waiting room.
Best athletic apparel store: Forward Motion
Our readers again chose Forward Motion in downtown Danville, which carries running shoes galore and the latest in running apparel with comfortable "performance" fabrics. Of course many of the clothes are perfect, too, for yoga, working out at the gym, and walking around town as well as running. From shorts and tops to warmer gear, it's all stylish and high quality.
Best bicycle shop: Danville Bike
With the sunny weather come the cyclists, up and down the major thoroughfares, with the hardiest heading up Mount Diablo. For more than 20 years, Danville Bike has been in downtown Danville although it recently moved next to Lotsa Pasta on Hartz Avenue. It is owned and operated by Joe Gutierrez, a rider himself as are all of his staff members so they know the importance of good equipment.
Best bookstore: Rakestraw Books
Read anything good lately? Ask that question at Rakestraw Books and you may be there a few hours. Check out its spacious new store on Hartz Avenue with the cool floor, vividly painted walls and oriental carpets. Now there's lots of room for each section of books plus a separate space for Julie's Book Club.
Best children's clothing store: Snickerdoodles
Cute as a sugar cookie - that's what the clothes are in Snickerdoodles on Hartz Avenue, which must be why our readers voted it the best children's clothing store. It's a children clothing consignment shop and lots of new items are available here at good prices.
Best discount store: Tuesday Morning
Any morning is a good time to shop at Tuesday Morning, voted best discount store by our readers. It's a large venue, located on Camino Ramon around the corner from Costco, and inventory at this chain store changes often.
Best florist - East Bay Flower Company
When it comes to flowers, it's the little personal touches that do it. That's why our readers picked East Bay Flower Company. During its 22-year history in the Livery, co-owners Kristin Simpson and Vicki Low have built up a reputation of putting that "something extra" into everything they do.
Best grocery story: Trader Joe's
To hear Trader Joe tell it, he scours the world on the back of camels and mules to search out bargains to sell at his homey little shops to his best friends. We know that's but an illusion but nonetheless our readers like the goods at this convenient downtown grocery store where the "crew" is helpful and the prices are good.
Best hobby/craft store, best framing shop: Richard's Arts and Crafts
Whether you're a crafty oldtimer or a newcomer to arts and crafts, Richard's Arts and Crafts in Alamo will keep you in supplies, plus offer you advice. This roomy store is well organized and pleasant to browse for holiday fare - you may be surprised at how easy it is to decorate with the right supplies.
Best home accessory store, best place to buy a gift and best home furnishings: Elegant Clutter
Looking for that special something for your coffee table - or looking for an accent piece? For home accessories, our readers say Elegant Clutter in the Livery is tops, as well as finding the perfect gift for a friend's home. This shop is fun to wander through at any time but during the holidays the large rooms, each decorated differently, are absolutely elegant.
Best jewelry store: Christe James Fine Jewelry Works
Our readers chose Christe James Fine Jewelry Works as their favorite jewelry store and how hard to choose from so many. Owners Christine and Jim Edlund offer an array of jewelry from renowned designers or will work with customers to design something just for them at their Hartz Avenue store.
Best maternity store: Bellies N' Babies
Our readers head for Bellies N' Babies for maternity wear. This cute shop on East Prospect Avenue in Danville opened in September 2005, the brainstorm of a young mother who couldn't find anything stylish to wear when she was pregnant. It also offers diaper bags and clothes for babies and toddlers.
Best men's clothing store: Patrick James
Patrick James, voted best men's clothing store, is located in Blackhawk, one of 17 locations for this Purveyor to Gentlemen. It carries everything from dress wear to casual clothing to swim attire. No wonder the men around here are so well dressed.
Best pet store: Molly's Pup-Purr-ee
From collars to pet fashions to treats, Molly's has it all, which must be why our readers voted it best pet store. It opened in 1996 as an act of love for the owner's dog Molly, whom she described as "a perfect Welsh Terrier." She knew other people must have the same great bond with their pets and want to buy them things that are fun, functional and safe.
Best shoe store - Tootsies
When it comes to pampering one's feet, Tootsies ranks right up at the top. Not content to offer shoes to compliment a woman's foot, Tootsies also provides in-store pedicures and will even schedule after-hours pedicure parties for you and your friends.
Best wine store: Beverages & More
Our readers chose BevMo as the best place to buy their wine. The chain store, located on Diablo Road, has a good moderately priced wine selection plus all the other alcoholic beverages and tasty snacks to go with them.
Best women's clothing store: Chico's
Chico's, at the southern tip of Railroad Avenue, was named the best women's clothing store by our readers. This tells us something about our readers because while Chico's aims to provide style it also emphasizes comfort. For basic sweaters, T's or jackets with a striking print, there's no place like Chico's.
Personal care and pampering
Best day spa and best medical spa: Professional Skin Aesthetics
Our readers named Professional Skin Aesthetics as the best in two categories, as day spa and medical spa. They do cross over when services include chemical peels, hydrating eye treatments, Botox and treatments for spider leg veins, all in a soothing environment. Customers come out relaxed and rejuvenated - sounds like a spa to us.
Best hair salon for women: Jero'l Salon & Spa
Jero'l Salon & Spa, located in the Clocktower in downtown Danville, is a favorite for all ages, for stylish cuts and coloring. Customers rave about the talent of the stylists and the fact that they are fun, which is important for a coloring job that may takes hours.
Best hair salon for men: Charlie's Barber Shop
Charlie's has the feel of an old time barber shop. When you stop in, Charlie greets you at the door and makes you feel right at home. And when it's your turn in the chair, he demonstrates his tonsorial skills, all while chatting a mile a minute. As customer Bradd Statley said it, "There's always a smile at Charlie's."
Best manicure/pedicure: Pinkies
Slip your feet and hands into that soothing warm water while relaxing in the wide open space of Pinkies in the Livery. Manis and pedis are offered throughout Danville, Alamo and Blackhawk but our readers chose Pinkies as their favorite.
Best American food restaurant; best dessert: Esin Restaurant & Bar
One of the jewels found in the new Rose Garden Shopping Center on Camino Ramon, Esin Restaurant & Bar boasts a wide assortment of cuisines, including its scrumptious pot roast, which comes with garlic mashed potatoes and baby root vegetables. And Chef Esin DeCarion provides a delightful assortment of desserts to tempt even the fullest diner. The dessert menu comes with suggestions for wine pairings to go with the sweet confections.
Best bakery: Katrina Rozelle Pastries and Desserts
Readers once again chose Katrina Rozelle's beautiful cakes and desserts as the best in the area. In her Alamo Square location, Katrina spins the ingredients in her kitchen into culinary wonders. Besides fantastic desserts, she designs magnificent wedding cakes to fit any bride's vision of her wedding day.
Best breakfast: Katy's Korner
Katy's Korner doesn't just provide breakfast. It provides a homey atmosphere that lets you sit and enjoy your breakfast in comfort. From pancakes to eggs benedict, the menu doesn't disappoint and the portions are of a size that after you finish you might just need a short nap.
Best burger, best place for a business lunch, best takeout, best happy hour: Tower Grille
Right in downtown Danville, next to the Clock Tower, you will find the place our readers voted for over and over again. Tower Grille Owner Tony Beville gets big kudos for his juicy 1/3-pound house ground certified Angus burgers; the patties are made fresh daily using a variety of herbs and spices. That may be why readers also chose the Grille for best takeout, although Beville said it could be due to their pizza. Food would be a reason for having a business lunch here, but so would the side room where diners can get a bit of quiet to talk over work-related matters - when their mouths aren't full. And at Tower Grille, Happy Hour runs from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. with $1 off all drinks.
Best California cuisine/innovative dining, best Mediterranean/Middle Eastern, best romantic restaurant; best salad: The Peasant and the Pear
Combining breezy openness with a sense of intimacy, the Peasant and the Pear on Hartz Avenue serves up an amazingly deep menu that hits all the right notes. From its Bishop Ranch salad (with an incredible balsamic vinaigrette dressing) to the Sonoma lamb shank served osso buco style, you can't go wrong. For those seeking that romantic evening out, what better way than by starting off with a cheese fondue for two?
Best Chinese restaurant: Uncle Yu's
A little bit of Chinatown in San Ramon, this area gem is nestled into a strip mall on Camino Ramon. Uncle Yu's has a gentle ambiance that lures you through the door, its well dressed maitre d' taking you to your table. The food is excellent, from the crab puffs to the general's chicken. The menu accommodates the more discerning fan of Chinese food, while also dishing out tasty versions of the more "Americanized" dishes.
Best deli: Domenico's
With more than 40 meats and 30 cheeses to choose from, its easy to see why readers flock to Domenico's as their favorite deli. On top of that, add 60 different house salads, pizza and other hot entrees and you have a place you may never want to leave.
Best French restaurant: Pascal French Oven
Pascal, on Railroad Avenue, is not a secret so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to savor your visit and enjoy the delightful ambiance. Delicious pastries and croissants, along with fabulous eggs benedict and French toast. Oui! Oui!
Best fresh produce: Danville Farmer's Market
Easily one of the best things about living in Danville is riding your bike or driving downtown on a Saturday morning to enjoy the weekly farmers market. Wonderful food everywhere you look, brought in fresh by area farmers. Strawberries, carrots, okra, you name it, it's there. There's always a musician playing away, a crepe shop and the chance to stock up on some yummy kettle corn.
Best ice cream/yogurt shop: Yogurt Shack
You can't go wrong with a good cup of ice cream or iced yogurt. Almost any day of the year when school is out you'll find teens from nearby San Ramon Valley High School or children with parents stopping by the Yogurt Shack for a cup of creamy goodness. On warm evenings, it's a great "hot" spot.
Best independent coffee house: Peet's
Coffee is competitive these days and Peet's is holding its own here in Danville. Readers chose the younger upstart for its atmosphere and its love of the bean. Located on Railroad Avenue, Peets is a favorite stop for bikers, joggers, strollers and just plain old walkers out and about on the Iron Horse trail.
Best Italian restaurant: Piatti Ristorante & Bar
It's a little bit of Tuscany right here in Danville. Readers chose Piatti for a number of things: the tablecloths, fresh flowers, the lighting and of course the menu. Gnocchi to die for in a parmesan sauce with peas and spicy pork meatballs. If you haven't tried the Maiale, do so. It's a house-cured pork tenderloin with a vegetable ragu. Molto Bene!
Best Mexican restaurant: Luna Loca
Our readers chose this fun Mexican restaurant in the Livery and with good reason. From the minute you walk in the door, you're taken care of. Copious baskets of chips and salsa are brought to the table while you peruse the full menu. Adults may enjoy a refreshing margarita before digging into some delightful shrimp tacos or the Camarones California.
Best outdoor dining: Faz
Faz on Hartz Avenue offers an outdoor dining experience while still allowing a sense of privacy. Sit out among the trees on the patio and enjoy fire roasted Pasilla Peppers or some of the Free Range Pomegranate Chicken prepared in the restaurant's wood burning oven.
Best personal chef: Niel Ruggiero, Chef for Hire
Having a dinner party and want to put out your best Italian cuisine? Bring in Niel Ruggiero to get the job done. Niel will come to your home, prepare and cook a full Italian meal that will leave you loosening your belt a few notches.
Best pizza: Zachary's
Readers loved Zachary's Chicago-style pizza, dripping with cheese and sauces, both the thin variety and the deep dish. Since it opened at its location in San Ramon just off Crow Canyon there is always a crowd waiting for the next pie out of the oven.
Best sushi/Japanese restaurant: Kane Sushi Japanese Cuisine
Kane, pronounced kah-nay, brings in sushi lovers from throughout the area to its Hartz Avenue location. The wide variety of rolls and the size of the portions keep customers coming back for more. As one person said on Yelp.com, "Anything with unagi is the bomb here!"
Best Thai restaurant: Thai House Restaurant
Owner/Chef Sam Sendee is no stranger to restaurants or Thai cooking. While the Thai house has only been in Danville for six years, Sendee and his family have been running restaurants in the Bay Area for over 20 years. The restaurant has an intimate feel and the food makes each meal an experience. This food from the Land of Smiles will leave you smiling.
Best wine bar: The Vine
Whether you are one step from being a sommelier in your own right or if you're a neophyte unable to tell a Bordeaux from a Chardonnay, there is something for you at The Vine at Bridges. The establishment sports 300 different wines for purchase and 30 wines for tasting, by the glass or bottle. The relaxed atmosphere encourages customers to experiment with different tastes in search of the perfect vintage. Live music is performed Wednesday through Saturday nights, and wine education classes are held periodically.
Let's Get Physical
Best bike or walking trail, best place to jog, best place to walk a dog: Iron Horse Trail
The Iron Horse trail spreads from Concord to Pleasanton, providing area residents with the opportunity to get out and walk/jog/bike without getting onto the busy streets of Danville. Signal lights are installed at all major intersections, heightening the safety. In addition, there are open areas on either side of the paving to allow your canine companion a chance to sniff and explore and to protect the knees of runners not wanting to run on the asphalt.
Best fitness club: ClubSport San Ramon
Exercise is a major part of life around Danville, and many of our readers head up Bollinger Canyon Road to get their sweat on at ClubSport in San Ramon. Its 10,000-square-foot exercise area features some of the most advanced fitness machines on the market. Racquet enthusiasts can choose from tennis, squash or racquetball, and the heated lap and children's pools are available year round.
Best martial arts studio: Tao Sports
More and more children are learning martial arts both as a form of exercise and as a way of learning to be more disciplined. Tao Sports offers classes for both children and adults in Taekwando. Instructors help children learn to control their bodies while building self esteem, confidence, focus and discipline.
Best personal trainer: Michelle Adams
In addition to her 10 years as a fitness/figure competitor, Michelle Adams is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer and holds a masters degree in public health. She will design a diet and workout plan designed to reach goals set by the customer.
Best yoga/pilates: Danville Yoga Center
You begin to unwind just walking from the parking lot along the verdant pathway to the Danville Yoga Center. The deck outside holds plants, statues and the shoes of those who enter the peaceful premises to practice yoga, developing an awareness of their body, mind and spirit. Beginners are welcome, and classes and workshops are available for all levels. Namaste.
Best antiques store: Cottage Jewel
Readers chose Cottage Jewel for best antiques store although it's more than that with its period jewelry and fanciful wares on Railroad Avenue. As the owner says, "We're more an artist's treasure trove of inspiration than a formal antique boutique." She also provides estate liquidation services.
Best home consignment shop: Home Consignment Center
Furniture is better the second time around. Or is that love? Home Consignment Center specializes in high quality furniture and accessories, and gets in new items everyday, including things from builders, model homes, rep's showrooms and the area's better homes. It provides 24-hour holds as well as 24-hour "test drives" - no wonder our readers named it the best!
Best flooring store: First Choice Abbey Carpet of Danville
Most people don't change the carpets, hardwood or tile on their floors very often so when they do, they need experts. First Choice Abbey Carpet says it offers fashion, not just flooring, and its experts guide customers every step of the way.
Best hardware store: Ace Hardware
Our readers chose Ace Hardware in Danville as the best hardware store. Its huge inventory offers a great selection on everything from hand vacs to plumbing joints, plus it carries seasonal supplies. Right now, check out the patio accessories.
Best kitchen/bath remodeler: KDC Kitchen and Bath Gallery
Remodeled kitchens and bathrooms are fabulous - when they're finished. It's the journey through renovations that can be arduous. KDC Kitchen and Bath Gallery has showrooms that demonstrate their capabilities and they will guide you through the process from design to product selection to installation.
Best landscaper/designer: CK Landscaping
Lawn looking a little shabby? Or does your entire yard need an overhaul? Our readers love CK Landscaping. It prides itself on attention to detail and that's what makes the difference between a yard and a "yard."
Best nursery: Navlet's Garden Centers
Navlet's has several garden centers and the one in Danville is popular with its residents. It has everything for your gardening needs, from plants and flowers to sheers to cute little gnomes and gardening hats and gloves. Its pros help you select the best.
Best remodeling contractor: Gayler Construction
Gayler Construction reports that it's been 100 percent on time and on budget for 12 straight years - no wonder our readers like it. The design/build firm specializes in residential and commercial remodeling.
Best place for dancing: Two Left Feet Dance Center
Owned and operated by Randy and Stephanie Krul, the Two Left Feet Dance Center boasts the largest dance floor in Contra Costa County. Classes run the gamut from swing dancing to the Texas two-step. All the classes are available to drop-ins and you don't even need a partner. Brides wanting to make sure their feet stay unbruised on their wedding day can have the folks at Two Left Feet help choreograph their first dance.
Best place to get together with friends: Pete's Brass Rail & Car Wash
Don't bother looking for the brass rail, and your car will remain every bit as dirty as when you got there. What you will see though, is a great place to hang out with friends. Whether you are simply having a cold beverage and hitting the sumptuous appetizer menu or you're there for the long haul, Pete's has got you covered. Just don't ask them to wash your windows.
Best public event: Danville annual Fourth of July Parade
One of the most highly attended events of the year takes place during the hot first week of July. Dozens of area groups turn out for the parade, making floats, handing candy to the crowd and just generally having a great time. Beware though, seating goes fast. Diehards start staking out their seats the night before!