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Best Of Oakland and the East Bay 2015

Some 178 winners, epitomizing the finest in food and drink, goods and services, and lifestyle and leisure.

Winners

2015 Goods & Services

Best European Auto Mechanic

Auto Alpina

Most European cars are designed to flip their odometer’s 100K-mile mark several times over, but only if scrupulously maintained. All that precision engineering comes at a price. So when something goes “schief,” it’s good to know an honest mechanic. Even better if he’s brilliant. Auto Alpina rolled up its garage door in 1985 and immediately gained a following among the European car-driving set of the East Bay. One of dozens of shops along San Pablo Avenue’s “Car Repair Corridor,” what sets this place apart from the competition—aside from the vintage VW Beetle parked on the roof—is Norick Khachikians, mad-scientist mechanic/proprietor with a veritable heart of gold. Auto Alpina has a deservedly good reputation, if slightly unconventional customer service. After 30 years in business, Khachikians is a straight-talker renowned for his savant-like ability to diagnose issues and quote you a fair price. No fancy waiting room; no free coffee, and, you might have to wait a little longer, but what you’ll get for your time (and money) is personalized attention from a master mechanic who’ll never play you for a fool.

2015 Food & Drink

Best Wine Tastings

Bay Grape

2015 Food & Drink

Best Gourmet Burritos

Belly Uptown

We are living in an era of blurred lines—between genders, nations, and genres of music, fashion, film, and, of course, food. As more and more restrooms go unisex and McDonald’s sells bundt cake, nothing can be taken at face value anymore. That’s certainly true for burritos, which at sundry locations around the East Bay now contain all manner of non-Mexican fare. At airy, sunny, many-windowed Belly Uptown, you can order yours stuffed to saucy, satisfying plumpness with fish tempura, shrimp tempura, honey-broiled chicken, sesame slaw, Korean slaw, fried tofu, kimchi, and various combinations thereof. Tangy, garlicky, salty-sour, and eye-poppingly capsicum-packed, kimchi isn’t all that unlike salsa. It’s just a matter of opening your mind—and your mouth.

2015 Food & Drink

Best Grocery

Berkeley Bowl

2015 Goods & Services

Best Plant Nursery

Berkeley Horticulture

2015 Goods & Services

Best Triathlon Store

Beyond Aero

It takes some chutzpah and a competitive spirit to open a bike shop across the street from REI. But Andres Douzoglou, owner of Beyond Aero, knew there was an audience for his highly focused customer service for a very discerning group—without the intimidation factor. You’ve seen them—skinny as the newest smartphone on a bike that weighs less than an iMac, bike racers and triathletes are a breed apart. These exceptional generalists require specialized gear. It’s an obsession, to be sure, where every gram matters. No ordinary bike shop, the modern industrial interiors, artful displays, and a low-key soundtrack feel more like the lounge for a high-tech startup with just as much leading-edge gear and a friendly welcoming vibe. Yeah, there’s even a craft-beer kegger in the shop for post-ride cool downs and friendly banter. Elite triathletes have been known to ascribe to the unattributed adage, “There’s only one thing more fun than racing your bike—talking about racing your bike.” And you know what else? It’s never too early to start talking about your race.

2015 Lifestyle & Leisure

Best Private High School

Bishop O'Dowd

2015 Food & Drink

Best Chocolate Shop

Bittersweet Cafe

2015 Lifestyle & Leisure

Best Thing to Happen in The Past Year

Black Lives Matter Movement

2015 Food & Drink

Best Coffeehouse

Blue Bottle Coffee

2015 Food & Drink

Best Korean Restaurant

Bowl'd

2015 Goods & Services

Best Chiropractor

Brett Jones, D.C., The Source Chiropractic

2015 Food & Drink

Best Southern / Soul Food

Brown Sugar Kitchen

2015 Food & Drink

Best Breakfast/Brunch

Brown Sugar Kitchen

2015 Food & Drink

Best Thai / Burmese Restaurant

Burma Superstar

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