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The Best of San Diego 2007

We scoured the county, with a little help from readers and some notable San Diegans, to uncover the best spots, services and stuff in town.


(page 5 of 6)


“I created this company to make an impact through designs that evoke thought and action to protect the Earth as our playground,” says Mission Playground founder Mark McMahon. His Solana Beach–based operation selling organic T-shirts bearing eye-catching designs and ecoinspired witticisms has grown into a diversified apparel company (goods can be purchased online at missionplayground.com and at select retail outlets including REI, Adventure 16 and Whole Foods). Mission Playground also supports fair-labor suppliers around the world.

After Cardiff couple Pollie Gautsch and Darryl Matsui bought a 1.3-acre lot in Solana Beach to build their dream “green” home, they began researching environmentally friendly, energy-efficient building resources and service providers in San Diego. Frustrated by the lack of a single, central repository of such information, they decided to create a Web site, sandiegogreenhomes.com. “We hope to facilitate the networking process by connecting people with architects, contractors and material providers in their area, and assist them with building more responsibly,” says Gautsch.

Owner Lindy Boynton fills the shelves of her Encinitas Lumberyard shop Migrate Home (937 Coast Highway 101, Suite C-103, 760-632- 8284) with wares that are both eco-friendly and design savvy. With stylish, sustainable home décor and Loomstate organic jeans and tees, going green never looked so good. She also carries Lulu Frost jewelry designs, which incorporate one-of-a-kind vintage pieces.

Get a global vibe, spiritual enlightenment and organic beer, wine and spirits at Kava Lounge (2812 Kettner Boulevard, 619-543-0933). The venue supports the organic movement and live music, art and dance.


Oops. The kids down the street were playing baseball, and a foul ball broke the back window of your Chrysler Sebring convertible. It’s a specialty job——one you should take to Jim’s Auto Upholstery in Kearny Mesa (7902 Armour Street, 858-268-8531). Brenda Orlando will quote you a price hundreds of dollars (even half!) off other estimates in town. It’ll be done in a day.

Local offices are kept sparkling by Your Cleaning Resource (858-717-3179). It’s a husband-and-wife operation manned by ever-smiling Marcelino and Argelia Romero (sometimes the kids pitch in, too). Marcelino vacuums, takes out the trash and wipes down counters——ever smiling. He also stocks paper goods and lightbulbs, and is available to do home cleanings (ever smiling).

Ever heard of an auto mechanic who hosts a free barbecue lunch every Friday and hands out longstem roses and free car washes to customers? And offers trustworthy, affordable, expert service, to boot? Neither had we ——until we came across Boulevard Automotive (737 Turquoise Street, Pacific Beach, 858-488-7573). Says one satisfied customer: “You feel like the guys are looking out for your car and your pocketbook.”

The tech guys at San Diego Computer Consultants (2217 Adams Avenue, 619-980-9363) have a motto: “We’re not satisfied until you are.” Says one recent customer of technician Bill Cumley: “I didn’t feel like my case was one of a hundred computers sitting on his desk. He even offered to deliver my computer back to me. And he sends me e-mails letting me know about important updates.”

Prato Cleaners (472 Third Avenue, downtown, 619-702-8515) wants to groom your Gucci and press your Prada. Billed as San Diego’s first “luxury dry cleaners boutique,” Prato guarantees a 24-hour turnaround and offers a sleek, inviting lounge setting——“a place you would actually want to visit,” says Frederico Leff, director of operations. “Many people think we are a spa or art gallery.” Prato will open two more locations in East Village and North County later this summer.

Established in 1927, Santee’s Dependable Hardwood Floor Services (9926 Prospect Avenue, 619-562-9110) is a family-owned and -operated business that takes pride in every job——from private and commercial gigs to historical restorations. And it shows. Says one repeat client: “They do it right the first time and do it perfectly.” Third-generation owner Kim Holcomb is a pro, with 25 years in the biz.


Self-proclaimed “punk-rock moms” Chrissy Laughlin and Piper Lacy bring their “rebellious, edgy and soulful” style to children’s fashion design with their Rockabilly Baby (760-434-1506) clothing line. “We like to mix different fabrics and colors to create a disco/country/rock vibe,” says Laughlin. Of their recent line: “We were going for a Bee Gees meets Johnny Cash feel.” The collection is fun and affordable, with retail prices ranging $24-$45.

Coronado Beach (619-437-8788) has one of the widest stretches of sand in San Diego County. The necessities, such as lifeguards, clean restrooms and showers, are in place. Get there early to find a free parking spot on Ocean Boulevard. The beach runs along Ocean from Avenida Lunar in the south to Naval Air Station North Island Gate 5 to the north. Stroll past swimmers, bodysurfers, boogie-boarders, sand sculptors, kite flyers and, in the off-leash area, dog lovers.

Fireside storybook readings, sidewalk hopscotch and kids’ art classes were all part of Kelly Kraus’ vision for her Mission Hills children’s shop, Zuzu’s Petals (1918 Fort Stockton Drive, 619-269-5432). That vision became reality last December. Housed in a 1918 Craftsman cottage, the cozy shop features vintage toys, clothing and furniture from around the world. Much more than a storefront, it’s a neighborhood gathering place.

Youngsters can run, jump, crawl and explore to their heart’s content at Cottonwood Creek Park (95 North Vulcan, Encinitas, 760-633-2740). There’s a double set of swings, a large play structure with slides and tunnels, a climbing rock, a big stretch of grass and bathrooms on site. Another plus: It’s only a few blocks from Moonlight Beach.

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