Twelve months spent researching, making lists, and checking ’em more than twice, and it all pays off in this issue. Here’s our definitive guide to the county’s best foods, drinks, fun things to do, places to shop, and people who can fix just about anything.
Well-Appointed Auto Spa | Ultimate Custom Car Care offers a full range of detailing services, from a by‑hand basic wash to a complete conditioning; they’ll detail boats and trailers, too. Customers have a choice of two tricked-out waiting rooms with amenities (magazines, DirectTV, free WiFi, children’s toys, and complimentary cups of joe), but what we like is that one room is nice and quiet, for reading only. 415 W. First St., Tustin, 714-544-4595, ultimatecustomcarcare.com
Flawless Knit Repairs | We call them the Knitbusters: Galia and Boris Gukaylo of Knitwear Doctor have been repairing and altering garments and doing custom knits for 30 years. Their customers range from high-end designers to regular folks. When your sweater sleeve unravels, moths do a number on your favorite cashmere, or yarn pulls become distressing, the Gukaylos will make everything look better than new. 1651 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa, 949-650-1025, knitweardoctor.com
Curated Jewelry Store | Broken English owner Laura Freedman’s new Lido Marina Village jewel box is a showplace for the dozens of unconventional jewelry designers she cham-pions and the lust-
worthy vintage pieces she expertly curates. She also sells boxes, ceramics, and candle-
holders, some of which she designs herself. 3431 Via Oporto, Newport Beach, 949‑675‑2550, broken
Fine Art Framing | Trusted by respected O.C. interior designers, Best framing lives up to its name. With helpful staff, hands-on owners, and prices substantially lower than other shops, it makes custom framing an option for everyone. 1671 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa, 949-791-8780, bestframing.com
Refuge for Book Lovers | With its massive collections of used books, The Bookman is the best brick-and-mortar fix for bibliophiles. Expect a large coffee table art selection, entire author catalogs, and out-of-print titles. You’ll pay more here than at the click-and-ship multinational websites, but you’re helping a local business thrive. 840 N. Tustin St., Orange, 800-538-0166, orange.ebookman.com
Specially Sourced Fashion | The SoCal-cool, geometric-patterned Nickel + Birch truck is worth chasing. Catch it, and your spoils include wares such as kitschy T-shirts, hand-beaded jewelry, and hand-woven accessories—all made in the USA, many by local artisans. Find the mobile boutique at various events around town, including the DTSA Farmers Market, or shop online. Look for the truck July 15 at the Lemon Grove Market at Irvine Woodbury Town Center. Nickelandbirch.com
Sun-Kissed Minimalism | Seal Beach’s Coast Modern is an indie boutique with a flair for a certain strain of beachy, midcentury-inspired minimalism. There’s a blend of home goods (think hand-poured candles and custom prints) and men’s and women’s wearables, with a special focus on local brands such as Norden, Almond Surfboards, and Slightly Choppy. 219 Main St., Seal Beach, 562-314-3440, coastmodernstore.com
Boutique Face-Lift | After 23 years, Modern Romance is now calling itself Stevie Sister, in recognition of the growing popularity of owner Theresa Johnson’s clothing line with the same name. Johnson added a pink wall, shoes by Kendall + Kylie, more of her own flowy, printed pieces, and fab new lines that better complement her own collection. Fashion Island, Newport Beach, 949-640-5477, steviesister.com
Couture For Kids | Open nearly a year, Occasion kids is a children’s boutique for fashion-minded shoppers. White, brightly lit, and organized by designer, the shop includes Dolce & Gabana, Stella McCartney, Fendi, and many more in its surprising location, tucked into the same strip mall as The Halal Guys in Costa Mesa. Stroll in and check out the stunning collections that rotate regularly, with items in sizes from newborn to 14. We loved the Chloe dresses and couldn’t wait to get our hands on the Stella McCartney floral denim espadrilles. 3033 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714-400-1213, occasionkids.com
Succulent Spectacular | OC Succulents’ occasional promotions are fun, but the sprawling nursery alone is worth a trip, especially on quieter days. You could spend hours winding through its rows of succulent plants, discovering new varieties and perhaps rediscovering that drought-tolerant living looks awfully good. 3350½ Warner Ave., Irvine, 949-552‑9619, ocsucculents.com
Bold Looks & Good Works | Buy beautiful designer-wear at about half the retail cost at The Hanger boutiques—and your purchases will help support the mission of Working Wardrobes, a nonprofit that assists adults in crisis and helps veterans find work. Shop previoiusly worn Dolce & Gabbana, Escada, Armani, Misook, Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior, and more. Non-designer duds get extra discounting Monday through Wednesday. 28051 Greenfield Drive, Laguna Niguel, 949‑425-9900; 1071 E. Main St., Tustin, 714-573-4596, workingwardrobes.org
Tech Whisperer | Ray Wilson at Tech Trekkers in Irvine runs an indie shop with solid street cred. He’ll cure your PC or iOS ills fast and affordably. It’s handy to have a good general practitioner, and Tech Trekkers treats it all—from panic‑inducing viruses to supporting IT for all your digital schemes and dreams. 16755 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, 949-457‑0221, techtrekkersoc.com
Surfside Golf Goods | The soft shirts from linksoul lab, the flagship brick‑and‑mortar from casual golfwear line Linksoul, look great untucked with board shorts, which you’ll also find here, plus watches and jewelry from Shinola and Miansai, and surfboards from Affinita Surf. Golf course, beach, bar: You’re covered. Pacific City, Huntington Beach, 714‑374-0910, linksoul.com
Mission: Best throwback home goods
Bona fides: Home editor Ada Madigan is an antiques enthusiast.
Decision: Even with its fair share of kitsch, the monthly Driving Miz Daizy vintage market is a manageable endeavor, and a must if rummaging through antiques is your idea of a perfect Sunday. 28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo, 949-422-0432, drivingmizdaizy.com
Mission: Best O.C. optical company
Bona Fides: Style editor Chris Christensen has spent the past decade shopping for the county’s best.
Decision: Costa Mesa’s Salt Optics is all about timeless design, optimum fit, and polarized lenses—and really, what more do you need from a pair of sunglasses? They’re on trend, without a whisper of trying too hard. Shop the styles at A’maree’s, or saltoptics.com