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 July-August 2010

July-August 2010

 

The Best of Alameda 2010

Power to Our Own Superheroes and Superstars

Chris Duffey

     Alameda Magazine celebrates Island living all year long, but once a year we pull out all the stops for the annual Best of Alameda issue. It’s a perfect opportunity to salute the people, places and things that make Alameda great, and this year’s roster of winners covers more than 100 categories. Whew!
     When you want to know where to get the best hamburger, the best dessert or the best late-night munchies, we’ve done all the work for you. We can tell you where to hang for the best happy hour, who’s got the liveliest crab feed and which bike shop goes above and beyond. Best corner store? Check. Best margarita? Yep. Best pizza? Of course! And so much more.
     Don’t waste another second — see which of your favorites made the list we put together from what readers voted as preferred hot spots. We’ve added more than a dozen of our own personal off-the-readers-poll favs to add depth to the coverage. Are you hip to Modern Mouse, Yojimbo and Three Ring Bingo? You will be.

Food & Restaurants

READERS CHOICE

Appetizers
The Hobnob 1313 Park St. (510) 769-1011www.thehobnobalameda.com
Asian Restaurant Zen Fusion 2315 Santa Clara Ave. (510) 521-7070
Bakery Feel Good Bakery 1650 Park St. (510) 864-2733 www.feelgoodbakery.com
Burrito Taqueria Ramiro & Sons 2321 Alameda Ave. (510) 523-5071
Breakfast Jim’s Coffee Shop 2333 Lincoln Ave. (510) 523-5368 www.jimscoffeeshop.com
Brunch The Hobnob 1313 Park St. (510) 769-1011 www.thehobnobalameda.com
Caterer Herbs & Spices Catering: Gourmet Food on the Run, Wendy Shay 2711 Encinal Ave. (510) 748-0423 www.herbsandspiceschef.com
Coffee Shop Peet’s Coffee & Tea 2531 Blanding Ave., (510) 814-8800 1365 Park St., (510) 473-0136 www.peets.com
Date-Night Place Pappo 2320 Central Ave. (510) 337-9100 www.papporestaurant.com
Deli Sandwich Dimitra’s Sandwiches to Go 1251 Park St. (510) 521-3737
Dessert Tucker’s Ice Cream 1349 Park St. (510) 522-4960 www.tuckersicecream.com
Diner Jim’s Coffee Shop 2333 Lincoln Ave. (510) 523-5368 www.jimscoffeeshop.com
Established Restaurant (5+ Years) Asena 2508 Santa Clara Ave. (510) 521-4100 www.welcometoasena.com
Family Restaurant Tomatina 1338 Park St. (510) 521-1000 www.tomatina.com
Hamburger BurgerMeister 2319 Central Ave. (510) 865-3032 www.burgermeistersf.com
Italian Restaurant C’era Una Volta 1332 Park St. (510) 769-4828 www.ceraunavolta.us
Late-night Munchies La Piñata No. 3 1440 Park St. (510) 769-9110 www.lapinataalameda.com
Mediterranean Restaurant Asena 2508 Santa Clara Ave. (510) 521-4100 www.welcometoasena.com
Mexican Restaurant La Piñata No. 3 1440 Park St. (510) 769-9110 www.lapinataalameda.com
New Restaurant (Open Less Than a Year) Flavors of India 1337 Park St. (510) 522-6821 www.flavors-india.com
Favorite Overall Restaurant Pappo 2320 Central Ave. (510) 337-9100 www.papporestaurant.com
Produce Dan’s Fresh Produce 2300 Central Ave. (510) 523-1777 www.dansfreshproduce.com
Pizza Bowzer’s Pizza 1330 Park St. (510) 523-7500
Restaurant With the Best View Pier 29 Restaurant 1148 Ballena Blvd. (510) 865-5088 www.pier29restaurant.net
Most Romantic Restaurant Pappo 2320 Central Ave. (510) 337-9100 www.papporestaurant.com
Salad Burma Superstar 1345 Park St. (510) 522-6200 www.burmasuperstar.com
Soup Shay’s Cafe 2711 Encinal Ave. (510) 748-0423 www.shayscafe.com
Sushi Kamakura 2549 Santa Clara Ave. (510) 521-9121 www.kamakurarestaurant.com
Takeout Food (No Fast-Food Chains) Kobe-Ya 2300 Encinal Ave. (510) 337-1966
Vegetarian Dish Flavors of India 1337 Park St. (510) 522-6821 www.flavors-india.com
Vietnamese Restaurant Dragon Rouge 2304 Encinal Ave. (510) 521-1800 www.dragonrougerestaurant.com

EDITORS CHOICE
Best Breakfast Blintz
Marti’s Place
     What’s on the menu for breakfast? If you’re going out, the usual fare includes waffles, pancakes and omelets ... but where can you find a delicious breakfast blintz? In addition to offering a comfortable, homey atmosphere with mismatched mugs and photographs on the wall, Marti’s Place spices up the menu with some traditional Swedish fare. Marti’s Swedish pancakes with lingonberry jam get most of the attention, but the blintzes, ultra-thin pancakes, should not be forgotten if you’re in the mood for something both sweet and savory. Marti’s blintzes are made with a combination of ricotta cheese, cream cheese and sour cream inside (the savory) and strawberries on top (the sweet). They’re richer than your average pancakes and make a wonderful detour from the usual breakfast. Owner Noreen Swaford says, “We make them from scratch,” and that makes all the difference. The restaurant uses a family recipe, safely passed down from Marti’s original owner, who was Norwegian.
1905 Encinal Ave., (510) 521-4600                                                                              — Renee Macalino Rutledge

READERS CHOICE
Best Soup and Best Kept Secret Shay’s Cafe
     Owners Shawn and Wendy Shay have combined their geographic backgrounds to offer customers culinary delights that reflect both Shawn’s love of East Coast submarine sandwiches and Wendy’s health-conscious California fare that includes grilled salmon, vegetarian and grilled chicken sandwiches. The café, which opened in 2009, features a rotating menu of daily soups such as roasted red pepper, black bean and coconut chicken. Local businesses appreciate the cafe’s ability to cater business lunches, while local moms enjoy meeting for impromptu playdates in this kid-friendly café. Wendy Shay also earned kudos from readers as Best Caterer with her company Herbs & Spices Catering.
2711 Encinal Ave., (510) 748-0423, www.shayscafe.com                                        — Linda Childers

EDITORS CHOICE
Best Hidden Find
Yojimbo
     You’ve probably passed it two or three times before realizing it is an actual restaurant, let alone a good one. The entrance to Yojimbo is easy to miss. Inside, it consists of a small but comfortable dining room. Once there, you’ll discover that far from being a hole in the wall, Yojimbo is a great find, with attentive and generous service, thematic art on the walls, good Japanese food at even better prices (including ramen bowls you don’t find on every menu), altogether fresh and decent sushi and a constant influx of hip diners taking advantage of all of the above. It’s one of those restaurants locals love to discover and then keep coming back to. Yojimbo means “assassin” or “bodyguard” in Japanese, and the black and white canvases on the restaurant walls include depictions of Superman, the Joker and Japanese animation characters. They make the scene pop, and they were painted by one of the two proprietors, James and Ryo, who are always there to greet you. The place has character. Not surprisingly, it’s beginning to draw a crowd, so get yourself a seat before the sushi rice runs out!
1221 Park St., (510) 523-4120, www.yojimbosushi.com                               — Renee Macalino Rutledge

READERS CHOICE
Best New Restaurant (Open Less Than a Year) and Best Vegetarian Flavors of India
     Those who want to experience the flavors of Mumbai without leaving the Island will delight in this new Park Street restaurant. The fourth East Bay location in the Flavors of India chain offers authentic Indian cuisine served in a comfortable and family-friendly environment. The restaurant boasts the best flavors of India with dishes ranging from lamb samosas to chicken makhani. Diners who prefer meatless dishes can enjoy a wide array of vegetarian dishes, and a revolving array of daily specials assures that regulars will never be bored.
1337 Park St., (510) 522-6821, www.flavors-india.com                                                              — Linda Childers


Best Breakfast and Best Diner Jim’s Coffee Shop
     Fresh brewed coffee and delicious home-style cooking await customers at this family-run restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. For more than 40 years, Jim’s has been the Island’s go-to place for comfort-food dishes including chicken-fried steak, French toast, waffles and a wide selection of omelets. If you’re looking for a nostalgic American diner that offers heaping portions of classic breakfast favorites and friendly service, Jim’s won’t disappoint.
2333 Lincoln Ave., (510) 523-5368, www.jimscoffeeshop.com          — Linda Childers


EDITORS CHOICE
Yummiest Freebies Alameda Farmers Market
     There are those who can’t wait to declare TGIF or celebrate hump day, but the day of the week that most excites me is Tuesday — Alameda’s Farmers Market day! Take one step onto Haight Avenue and Webster Street and the familiar smells of rotisserie chicken and freshly popped kettle corn fill the air. Our family of four frequently hits the market, and we shamelessly admit that one of our favorite reasons to visit is the free food samples given out at many of the stands. We especially enjoy tasting a variety of fresh fruits on a warm, sunny day. More than 45 farmers and vendors offer goodies to fill picnic baskets and ingredients for outdoor parties, such as breads, honey, seafood and fresh eggs, as well as ready-to-eat meals. Go ahead, let the juice from a plump red strawberry run down your arm; sample several types of apples, peaches and oranges; and dip the fresh naan in that cilantro-garlic dip. Is it Tuesday yet? For working stiffs, there’s always Saturdays, by the way.
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays, Haight Avenue and Webster Street, www.pcfma.com                          — Karen Granados

Best Lemon-Ginger Scones Julie’s Coffee & Tea Garden
     The folks at Julie’s Coffee & Tea know how to serve a scone: warm, freshly baked and with a serving of Devonshire cream. The lemon-ginger variety is by far one of the cafe’s most prized recipes, with just the right balance of texture and softness, sweetness and zing. And with a dab of Devonshire cream on top, every bite comes together for a taste you won’t experience anywhere else. The scones are small but rich and filling. Be careful, though, because you will crave them in the morning and during your breaks. The best scone needs the best tea to wash it all down, and Julie’s is prepared with a variety of organic and herbal blends that suit your teatime pleasure. The tea is traditionally served in individual pots with milk and honey on the side at the customer’s request. Somehow, the art-filled walls of the café, or the hidden-garden-feeling on the patio, make it all taste even better!
1223 Park St., (510) 865-2385, www.juliestea.com               — Renee Macalino Rutledge
 

Drink & Nightlife

READERS CHOICE

Beer Selection Lucky 13, 1301 Park St.  (510) 523-2118 www.lucky13alameda.com
Cocktails Forbidden Island 1304 Lincoln Ave. (510) 749-0332 www.forbiddenislandalameda.com
Coffee Peet’s Coffee & Tea 2531 Blanding Ave.  (510) 814-8800
     1365 Park St., (510) 473-0136 www.peets.com
Happy Hour Tie: Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill, Lucky 13
     Applebee’s: 2263 South Shore Center (510) 522-7071, www.applebees.com
     Lucky 13: 1301 Park St. (510) 523-2118, www.lucky13alameda.com
Latte Peet’s Coffee & Tea 2531 Blanding Ave. (510) 814-8800
     1365 Park St., (510) 473-0136 www.peets.com
Live Music Venue Speisekammer 2424 Lincoln Ave. (510) 522-1300 www.speisekammer.com
Margarita La Piñata (LP3): 1440 Park St., (510) 769-9110
     (LP Bay Farm): 891-B Island Drive  (510) 814-0560 www.lapinataalameda.com
Overall Bar Lucky 13, 1301 Park St. (510) 523-2118 www.lucky13alameda.com
Tea Julie’s Coffee & Tea Garden 1223 Park St. (510) 865-2385 www.juliestea.com
Wine List Pappo 2320 Central Ave. (510) 337-9100 www.papporestaurant.com
Wine Retailer Farmstead Cheeses and Wines 1650 Park St. (510) 864-9463 www.farmsteadcheesesandwines.com
Wine/Spirits Maker/Producer Rosenblum Cellars 2900 Main St. (510) 865-7007 www.rosenblumcellars.com

EDITORS CHOICE
Best Island Nightcap Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge
     Folks from around the Bay have discovered a tropical getaway right on the Island — the Forbidden Island, that is. Once inside, you’ll really feel as if you’ve traveled to an exotic land by the sea, with thatched roofing, colorful lanterns, bamboo paneling, wicker furniture, woodcarvings and many other floor-to-ceiling details that bring Alameda’s only tiki lounge to life. In addition to creating full-on atmosphere, Forbidden Island hearkens back to another era, with mood and memorabilia inspired by the ’60s. You’ll often find the bartenders sporting looks from the era for the evening. Sounds like a nice detour from the average late-night hangout, right? There’s more: Forbidden Island offers excellent cocktails, using freshly squeezed juice from four different citrus fruits. Both indoor and outdoor seating are available, and outside, you can enjoy fresh breezes while basking under the tiki lights and sipping on your Island Mimosa, made, of course, with orange juice squeezed that very day.
1304 Lincoln Ave., (510) 749-0332, www.forbiddenislandalameda.com        — Renee Macalino Rutledge

Best New Booze Scene Alameda Point
     It’s a beautiful afternoon, and you and your friends have finished:
1.  Working out
2.  Mowing the lawn
3.  Shuttling the kids to a sleepover
Time to get together at the hippest new party spot in Alameda. Grab some tempting appetizers at Trader Joe’s and arrange to meet everyone at Alameda Point. Plenty of parking for cars and bikes.
Start at Rosenblum Cellars, on Main Street, near the Alameda Ferry. Enjoy a tasting of Rosenblum’s now renowned old-vine Zinfandels. The winery production side of the once locally-owned cellar is moving to the Napa Valley, but parent company Diageo intends to keep the Alameda facility’s tasting room open — at least for now. The tasting room remains a local reminder of the origins of winemaking on
the Island some 40 years ago.
     From there, follow the wine trail and the family tree to Rock Wall Wine Co. on the old Naval Base at 2301 Monarch St. It’s the brainchild of Shauna Rosenblum, daughter of Rosenblum Cellars’ founder, Kent Rosenblum, and the grandmaster of Zin himself. Break out your picnic and enjoy some of the younger generation’s Zinfandel. Rock Wall is ground zero for local urban winemakers from more than a half dozen boutique wineries that are part of a winemaking incubator, with awesome space and views for entertaining. It’s the new alternative to driving to Napa or Sonoma.
     By this time, the sun might be setting over the most beautiful view in the world. Head next door, to 2601 Monarch St., to St. George Spirits and enjoy a tasting of Hangar One Vodka in the Pilots Lounge or, perhaps, if you’re feeling spirited, the absinthe. And enjoy the sunset.
Rosenblum Cellars, (510) 865-7007, www.rosenblumcellars.com; Rock Wall Wine Co., (510) 522-5700,
www.rockwallwines.com; Hangar One, (510) 769-1601, www.hangarone.com                       — Mary McInerney

 

Lifestyle

READERS CHOICE

Barbershop
Salon One 1327 Park St. (510) 523-5555
Beauty Salon Salon One 1327 Park St. (510) 523-5555
Crab Feed St. Joseph Notre Dame High School
Gym/Health Club Harbor Bay Club 200 Packet Landing Road (510) 521-5414 www.harborbayclub.com
Live Theater Performance Troupe Alameda Civic Light Opera
Massage Sumbody 1350 Park St. (510) 523-2639 www.sumbody.com
Museum/Art Center Alameda Museum 2324 Alameda Ave. (510) 521-1233 www.alamedamuseum.org
Neighborhood Park Street
Park Franklin Park 1432 San Antonio Ave.
Street Park Street
Yoga Studio Alameda Yoga Station 2414 Central Ave. (510) 523-9642 www.alamedayogastation.com
Best Event in Alameda Park Street Art & Wine Faire www.shopparkstreet.com
Kept Secret Shay’s Cafe 2711 Encinal Ave. (510) 748-0423 www.shayscafe.com
Society Event Classic Car Show www.shopparkstreet.com

EDITORS CHOICE
Best Way to Exercise With Your Family Alameda Bicycle’s Family Ride
     Hands-down the most fun way to exercise with the brood is the Alameda Bicycle Family Ride offered the first Sunday of the month during spring and summer. Participants meet at Alameda Bicycle at 10 a.m. to cruise around the Island for a few hours. Each time it’s a different route, so you won’t have to bear witness to the eye rolling and hear the exasperated sighs of your easily bored children. Sometimes groups are divided to ensure younger bikers are paced accordingly. The routes are flat so that kids and adults of all ages and abilities can safely enjoy riding along Alameda’s numerous trails and streets. There’s something quite magical about when your kids discover something new while riding their bike that they typically overlook when zooming by in a car. The bicycle group always ends at Tucker’s Ice Cream for a complimentary scoop and pat on the back. The bicycle ride is a treat in itself, and the ice cream is just icing on the cake.
1522 Park St., (510) 522-0070, www.alamedabicycle.com          — Karen Granados

Wackiest Way to Spend an Evening Three Ring Bingo
    Three Ring Bingo is for hipsters who wouldn’t be caught dead in a church basement playing four corners or black-out. No, it’s definitely not your grandmother’s bingo. At Rhythmix Cultural Works, Three Ring Bingo is kind of like going to a show. It’s also kind of like watching performance art. It’s also bingo, with a few drinks on the side. Join the Yay girls, Lucky Lucy and the emcee, Mr. Entertainment, for 10 knockout rounds of low-stakes laughter. Beware: If you win, you’ll end up on stage as part of the show. Don’t worry, though, it’s a blast. “We used to take my mom to play sometimes at church,” says Patti Ward. “But I only come here now.”
7:30 p.m. second Thursday of every month, $20 at the door, includes a free drink; Three Ring Bingo, Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave., (510) 865-5060, www.rythmix.org          — Mary McInerney

Most Wholesome (Not) Movie Scene Classic Movie Night at the Alameda Theatre
     Some people like sticking plastic 3-D glasses on their faces to watch a bazillion-dollar extravaganza that’s basically a rip-off of an ancient Native American legend and features blue creatures in a tricked-out junglescape.Others? Well, they like getting a full barrel of buttery popcorn and snuggling up to their date while they watch the classic steamy love story Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, starring a very young and very hot Paul Newman along with a very young and sexy Elizabeth Taylor. It might seem wholesome, but, really, cuddling in the historic Alameda Theatre and watching Newman and Taylor in the steamy setting of the old South could be downright hot. With the right person.
The Classic Film Series at Alameda Theatre is ongoing and scheduled at different times of the year. The goal? To show the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Movie Classics such as featured flicks Citizen Kane and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.
Alameda Theatre and Cineplex,  2317 Central Ave., (510) 769-3456, www.alamedatheatre.com          — Mary McInerney
 

Goods & Services

READERS CHOICE

Antique Store Pauline’s Antiques 1427 Park St.  (510) 523-9941 www.paulinesantiques.com
Auto Repair Shop Engine Works 1923 Minturn St. (510) 523-6779 www.engine-works.com
Beauty Products Salon One 1327 Park St. (510) 523-5555
Bike Shop Alameda Bicycle 1522 Park St. (510) 522-0070 www.alamedabicycle.com
Book Store Books Inc. 1344 Park St. (510) 522-2226 www.booksinc.net
Business Institution Alameda Chamber of Commerce (510) 522-0414 www.alamedachamber.com
Car Wash/Detailer South Shore Car Wash  Shoreline Drive at Towne Centre (510) 523-7866
Corner Store Encinal Market 3211 Encinal Ave. (510) 522-7171
Eyeglasses/Eyewear Eyes on Webster  1620 Webster St. (510) 522-2811
Facials Salon One 1327 Park St. (510) 523-5555
Dry Cleaners One-Hour Martinizing-Alameda 2210 South Shore Center, Suite 1 (510) 523-6033
Frame Shop Urban Forest 2434 Webb Ave. (510) 521-2385
Gift Shop 3 Wishes 1428 Park St. (510) 523-4438 www.3wishescardsandgifts.com
Grocery Store Trader Joe’s 2217 South Shore Center (510) 769-5450 www.traderjoes.com
Home and Garden Accessories Store Pagano’s Hardware Mart 1100 Lincoln Ave.  (510) 522-1345 www.paganoshardware.com
Home Furnishings Pillow Park Plaza 1419 Park St. (510) 521-6227 www.pillowpark.com
Manicure/Pedicure Salon One 1327 Park St. (510) 523-5555
New Business East Buffet 1919 Webster St. (510) 263-9838
Pharmacy Walgreens 1916 Webster St., (510) 864-2800
     2300 Otis Drive, (510) 523-7043 www.walgreens.com
Shoe Store Scott’s Shoes 1330 Park St. (510) 865-5565
Shopping Center/District Park Street www.shopparkstreet.com
Women’s Accessories T.J. Maxx  2250 South Shore Center (510) 749-8201 www.tjmaxx.com

EDITORS CHOICE
Best Indie Design Store Modern Mouse
     Part art gallery, part retail store, Modern Mouse in Alameda Towne Centre beckons you to stop inside and browse through the gift and household collections of original goods. Your eyes quickly scan the bold colors, cool graphics and sleek styles for items like hand-felted flower vases and bowls, bolts of fabric by Echino by Etsuko Furuya, hand-knit stuffed animals and neckties featuring hand silkscreen graphics of lobsters, honeybees or missiles. Owner Eleen Hsu believes in supporting the close-knit Bay Area artist community and showcases local talent by displaying their handicrafts while giving them a place to tell their story. Scattered among the store are cards featuring the artist’s picture, story behind the artist and interesting tidbit section. Now where did I see Lego cuff links?
2228 South Shore Center, (510) 814-8830, www.modernmouse.eleen.com                 — Karen Granados

Best Mini Escape to Europe
It’s All About You
     Step inside It’s All About You skin care salon and immediately feel the Parisian chic surround you. This quaint and charming space feels like a cozy French cottage with items such as lotions, creams and soaps for you to browse. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi when being surrounded with sparkly jewelry, trendy hats and sumptuous scarves draped about, enticing you to touch and feel. For the pièce de résistance, relaxing facials and skin care services by owner Jaydee Cohen transport you to another space. The classic European facial infuses aromatherapy with steaming and exfoliation that leaves your skin feeling as soft as a baby’s. Other popular treatments include the caviar facial using the latest German technology; rosacea facial; nonsurgical face-lifting facial; and skin care regimens specifically for teens and men. Now that’s sure to give you a reason to say, “Ooh la la!”
2500 Central Ave., Ste. 1, (510) 864-7000                                                                       — Karen Granados


 

Kids

READERS CHOICE

After-School Program
Alameda Recreation  and Park Department 2226 Santa Clara Ave. (510) 747-7529 www.ci.alameda.ca.us
Birthday Party Venue Circuits of Alameda 1710 Lincoln Ave. (510) 522-6600 www.circuitsofalameda.com
Clothes and Accessories Store Monkey Bars 1339 Park St. (510) 769-6905 www.shopmonkeybars.com
Dance Studio Dance/10 900 Santa Clara Ave. (510) 522-5678 www.Dance10.org
Day-Care Center/Program Alameda Recreation and Park Department 2226 Santa Clara Ave. (510) 747-7529 www.ci.alameda.ca.us
Most Kid-Friendly Restaurant Tomatina 1338 Park St. (510) 521-1000 www.tomatina.com
Playground Franklin Park 1432 San Antonio Ave.
Private School St. Philip Neri School 1335 High St. (510) 521-0787 www.spnalameda.org
Public School Alameda High School 2201 Encinal Ave. (510) 337-7022 www.aus.alamedausd.ca.schoolloop.com
Summer Camp Harbor Bay Summer Camp 200 Packet Landing Road (510) 521-5414 www.harborbayclub.com

Kids’ Clothes and Accessories Store Monkey Bars
     No kidding around, Monkey Bars made top grades with Alamedans. Parents and kids are going bananas over the great selection of baby and kids’ clothing and environmentally conscious products. Owner and mom Heather Reed strives for a store with a conscience, focusing on brands that use materials that won’t harm the environment without sacrificing style. Hipster parents and kids alike enjoy the punchy graphic styles on clothes by Little Society, a California organic clothing brand that donates portions of proceeds to endangered species charities, and Endemic adult T-shirts that are made with renewable energy sources. Accessories such as kid-sized plaid fedoras, Vans-style slip on shoes by Me In Mind and Sweet Shoes keep kids feeling like king of the jungle. Whether you’re looking for baby teethers made with sustainable maple, surfer-style onesies or lullaby music set to No Doubt, Queen or Aerosmith, you’ll be sure to swing out of Monkey Bars with a smile.
1339 Park St., (510) 769-6905, www.shopmonkeybars.com          — Karen Granados

Best Kids’ Birthday Party Venue  Circuits
     It’s not possible for boredom to set in at this unique indoor playland featuring more than 4,000 square feet of fun. Catering to ages 6 to 106, Circuits offers inflatable jumpers, game bikes, video and arcade games, Wii games, virtual reality bikes and more. The concept allows kids to play some of the most popular video games while getting exercise at the same time. For parents, Circuits takes the stress out of planning a birthday party by offering a one-stop venue where kids can eat, play and celebrate on a year-round basis.
1710 Lincoln Ave., (510) 522-6200, www.circuitsofalameda.com         — Linda Childers

Kids’ Dance Studio Dance/10 Performing Arts Studio
     This popular dance studio does more than just teach children the latest dance steps. Under the direction of Pamm Drake, who brings the nationally-famous Tap Dancing Christmas Trees to life each holiday season, the teachers at Dance 10 also emphasize discipline, self-esteem, mutual respect and teamwork. By sharing their expertise in various forms of dance including ballet, tap, hip-hop and jazz, the studio provides a training ground for both beginning dancers and seasoned professionals. Whether you’re 6 or 60, Dance/10 is the perfect spot to channel your inner “Gleek.”
900 Santa Clara Ave., (510) 522-5678, www.Dance10.org           — Linda Childers


EDITORS CHOICE
Best Way to Learn for Pulpuslaceratapohobians (Those Who Fear Paper Cuts) Alameda Free Library
     Whether your paper aversions are for environmental reasons or you have family members who seem perennially connected to electronic gadgets, the Alameda Free Library offers electronic ways to learn something new. For younger kids, the library lends out electronic learning systems by Leapfrog with carrying case for three weeks. Kids have an extensive variety of cartridges to choose from, including learning how to read, mathematic games or sorting shapes. Located on nearby shelves, CD-ROMS of educational games and popular stories with read along books line the shelves. From the library’s website, users can login with their library card number and password to access a database of more than 1,250 audio book titles from all types of genres. Download it onto an iPod or Windows Media Player device, and the book will be available until the expiration date. Just like checking out a physical book from the library, users can request a hold on an audio book until it becomes available and suggest new titles. For those who don’t own an iPod, new Playaway audio books located near the CD-ROM audio book shelves require only ear buds or headphones that can be plugged into the new, small handheld units.        — Karen Granados

People

READERS CHOICE

Artist Margaret W. Fago www.margaretfago.com
Bartender Julie Craig, Harbor Bay Club
Blogger Michele (Marcucci) Ellson www.theislandofalameda.com
Chef John Thiel, Pappo/Culina Pappo: 2320 Central Ave., (510) 337-9100 www.papporestaurant.com
     Culina: 1650 Park St., (510) 864-1044 www.culinamarketplace.com
Chiropractor Greg Vrankovich, D.C., HealthFit Chiropractic Center 311 Oak St. Suite 115, Oakland  (510) 655-3456 www.myhealthfit.com
Dentist Douglas S. Mitchell, D.M.D. 2145 Central Ave., Suite 1 (510) 865-4551 www.dougmitchelldmd.com
Good Samaritan Dawna Dowdell
Lawyer Susan Jeffries 2121 Central Ave. (510) 629-4199, (866) 921-9692 www.susanjeffries.com
Local Author Linda Treml Hallam
Musician Terrence Brewer www.terrencebrewer.com (510) 755-2821
Optometrist Gary Nelson, O.D. 1801 Santa Clara Ave. (510) 521-2015 www.garybnelsonod.com
Photographer Al Wright, Raintree Studios 1205 Park St. (510) 521-4900
Real Estate Agent Elizabeth Kane Kane & Associates Realtors 879 Island Drive (510) 523-6058, (510) 522-0660,

Best Teacher Irene Quon, Frank Otis Elementary School
     Irene Quon has been getting kids excited about learning since 1988. A third-grade teacher at Otis School, Quon makes concepts such as California history and Earth sciences come alive to her students through visuals and models. She also coordinates the school’s Junior Coaches program that promotes problem solving and good behavior. The mother of two teenagers, Quon has the same high expectations for her students that she does for her son and daughter — a good school year isn’t just one where they make positive memories; it’s a year where they also experience success.           — Linda Childers

Photographer Al Wright, Raintree Studios
     From baby photos to wedding portraits, Al Wright has captured the smiles and special moments of Bay Area families for more than 25 years. A full-service photography studio, Raintree specializes in corporate profiles, family portraits and candid photos that reflect each subject’s unique personality. With his trademark baseball cap and splashy belt buckles, Wright is the Island’s go-to photographer for local publications including this magazine and Parents’ Press. A longtime member of the Alameda Kiwanis club, Wright is a staple at annual events such as the Park Street Spring Festival and the Park Street Art and Wine Faire, where he can be found pitching in. He’s as likely to
be flipping pancakes for the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast as he is to have camera in hand to immortalize the Boys & Girls Club annual auction.
Raintree Studios, 1205 Park St.,  (510) 521-4900                   — Linda Childers


 

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