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  • Readers' Poll

    Best Massages Sunset Sauna & Non Sexual Massage Best Used Bookstore Green Apple Best Women's Clothing Store Ooma Best Men's Clothing Store Macy's Best Vintage Clothing Crossroads Trading Company Best Women's Shoe Store Nordstrom Best Car Repair Noe Valley Auto Works Best Furniture (New) IKEA Best Furniture (Used) Goodwill Best Art Supplies Flax Art & Design Best Music Supplies Guitar Center Best Athletic Supplies Lombardi Sports Best Pet Supplies Petco Best Garden Supplies Sloat Garden Center Best Hardware Supplies Cole... More >>

  • Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Bookstore

    Borderlands Books In certain circles, finding that out-of-print copy of Roger Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness or H.P. Lovecraft's The Outsider and Others is an event worthy of wild celebration. While few understand this mania, Borderlands does. Most bookstores relegate fantasy, horror, and sci-fi writings to the lonely aisle or dusty corner, but Borderlands has devoted its entire store to the genres. Lovingly presented -- complete with staff recommendations, awards, and summaries -- all titles are organized by author,... More >>

  • Best Garage-Sale Alternative for People Who Hate Getting Up Early

    Mickey's Monkey

    If you crave the endless potential of garage sales but can't stomach that whole getting-up-at-6-a.m. thing, Mickey's Monkey furniture store should suit your fancy. This hole-in-the-wall treasure trove doesn't even open its doors until 11 a.m., and some days, not even that early, as the hours are often determined by the whims of management. Mickey's Monkey is tiny -- about the size of some suburban bathrooms -- but during business hours, the store unloads its merchandise onto the sidewalk for... More >>

  • Best Cheap Haircuts

    Trimmers

    Getting a haircut can be downright frightening. Your anxiety might stem from the affordable but often hit-or-dangerously-miss quality of Supercuts. Or maybe the panic sets in when you get the credit card bill for that $50 (or more!) chopping by your local coiffeur. A safe and wallet-friendly alternative can be found at Trimmers in the Upper Haight. This modest and decidedly untrendy salon looks, to a casual observer, as though it would offer the pitfalls of a bargain-chain barbershop. Instead,... More >>

  • Best Not-So-Cheap Haircuts

    Louie Hair Salon

    Louie opened its doors 11 years ago, when co-owners Susan Daar and Joel Quinteros had all of four clients. Since then Louie (named after Susan's grandfather, who paid her a few bucks to trim his hair when she was a girl) has come a long way, expanding the modern space from one room to three, in order to accommodate a growing clientele. Nestled in a quaint alley across the street from Zuni, Louie is centrally located yet comfortably distant from... More >>

  • Best Party Paraphernalia

    SFParty

    "We sell fun!" is SFParty's motto, and if there was ever such a thing as truth in advertising, this is it. The huge barnlike space is packed floor to ceiling with just about everything you could possibly need for that special wingding, from banners and confetti and balloons to streamers and sombreros and specially tinted light bulbs. The store's absolute dedication to all things festive came in handy a few months ago when we couldn't find suitable décor for our... More >>

  • Best Juice Harp Emporium

    Lark in the Morning

    Its origin is clouded in history, but the juice harp -- the tiny one-stringed instrument that's held against the teeth and plucked -- turns up in similar guises in ancient cultures around the globe. (A 1,000-year-old iron model was discovered in Japan a few years ago.) The name alone is a matter of conjecture, deriving as it does from "gewgaw" and "Jew's harp" to today's less inflammatory moniker. In Germany it's a maultrommel, in Italy a scacciapensieri, and at Lark... More >>

  • Best Young Fashion Engineers

    Joe Haller and Ian Hannula, Nice Collective

    The Richmond District isn't exactly known as a hot spot for innovative fashion. But from a lair out in the avenues, a creative clothing lab releases its sartorial experiments to an international urban network and has earned respect in discerning markets including Tokyo, Milan, and London. Joe Haller and Ian Hannula's 7-year-old company kick-started with inspiration from the synergistic audiovisual elements of the electronic dance music scene. But the pair has since translated the techno vibe into wearables that often... More >>

  • Best Martial Arts Stuff

    Brendan Lai's Supply Co.

    Cardio kickboxing isn't a martial art, and neither is Tae Bo -- Bruce Lee could've had Tae Bo king Billy Blanks on the canvas faster than Blanks could've said, "Buy my videos." So don't go to Brendan Lai's Supply Co. thinking you'll find cute workout gear or Blanks' tapes. But if you're in the market for a kwando, broadsword, or spear, or if you're simply looking to dress up as a ninja, this Mission storefront is the place to be.... More >>

  • Best Driving School for Transplanted New Yorkers

    Apex Driving School

    Getting around the Big Apple is easy: It's got no hills, a reliable bus and subway system, and cabs competing to take you anywhere you need to be, at any hour, day or night. As a result, it's no stretch to find 30-year-old New Yorkers who've never driven a car. Some of these city slickers eventually find their way out west, where they can feel out of sorts and homesick when faced with the Bay Area's less-than-dependable public transportation system... More >>

  • Best Resource for Overwhelmed Parents

    Parents Place

    Everybody knows that having a kid changes your life, for better and for worse. With the help of Parents Place, moms and dads can make sure that it's more better than worse. Founded in 1975 by Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, the program is based on the philosophy that parenting is a skill that can be learned and perfected over time. Practical issues get covered in workshops like "Mastering Motherhood" and "How to Find a Nanny," plus... More >>

  • Best Custom Makeup

    Oui, Three Queens

    As we all know, beauty isn't always natural. Sometimes it takes blending! And Evan Kaminsky of Oui, Three Queens in Hayes Valley is a master at blending cosmetics. A veteran makeup artist who has studied both theatrical and prosthetic makeup, Kaminsky formulates lipsticks, foundations, concealers, and glosses while you watch. And natural beauty can be easily trumped by the "beautifully natural" look this artisan produces, from the mundane to the wild. His products are made using the finest mineral-based pigments... More >>

  • Best Beauty Supplies

    Skin Zone

    With welcoming bubbles emanating from its entrance, Skin Zone fulfills all of our pore-cleansing and leave-in-conditioning needs. Although we have to buy our $500 La Prairie Cellular Radiance Cream Time-Correcting Therapy elsewhere, we can always pick up an impressive and unusual array of other skin- and hair-care products here -- enough to satisfy even the most stubborn of toiletry fetishists. What makes Skin Zone extra special is its history: It was once Castro Camera, the camera shop, home, and campaign... More >>

  • Best Free Alcohol and Drug Rehab

    St. Anthony Foundation

    St. Anthony's is well-known for serving hot dinners to the homeless (2,000 meals per day), as well as providing free medical care and clothing to the poor. Psychological counseling and employment training are available at the foundation's Covenant House and Seton Hall for those who want to spend a year engaged in physical labor, such as gardening, furniture moving, painting, and washing dishes, while learning how to restructure their lives without the use of mind-altering substances. Computer classes are also... More >>

  • Best Mortuary

    Pacific Interment

    It's never too soon to plan for your passage into the next world (assuming it exists). And if you're thinking cremation, Pacific Interment is the place to go. After all, it was tacitly endorsed by no less than Jessica Mitford, author of The American Way of Death, her famous exposé of the funeral industry, who chose to be cremated at Pacific's pretty green building surrounded by those trees that look like giant asparagus. The biz is family-run. With several on-site... More >>

  • Best "Out of the Office" Appointment

    Silk Salon

    Close the laptop. Turn off the phone. Dip your feet in the warm water and, if only for an hour, relax. A visit to Silk tops our list of quick treats we can give ourselves in the midst of a stressful life. Strategically located on Franklin near Sutter, the salon offers delightful manicures and pedicures, performed in the comfort of cushy recliners, all in a bright, calming space. For a little something special, add warm herbal oils or a milk-and-honey... More >>

  • Best Place to Find Something to Hold Something

    The Container Store

    Some of us have wrapping issues. We find that we desperately need an oddly shaped box for that really cool birthday present -- the one we bought without a second thought to how we might actually send it. And some of us just like stuff that holds other stuff: For us, finding a box, a bottle, a uniquely shaped jar, or an envelope that's just the right size is a secret pleasure. We all dig the Container Store -- literally,... More >>

  • Best Prenatal Yoga

    Yoga Tree

    For reasons that will go unmentioned, performing yoga moves while pregnant can be problematic. But according to yoga's more earnest practitioners, the extra effort produces bountiful results. Prenatal yoga, they say, creates felicitous creatures called "yoga babies," who supposedly enter the world more at peace, and more physically attractive, than other newborns. Yoga Tree, which has several locations in San Francisco, is a good place for experimenting with this premise. Though one might think an activity aimed at producing highly... More >>

  • Best Hardware Store Employees

    Roberts Hardware

    When home-improvement tasks come calling, take a deep breath and remember this pleasant alternative to Home Depot. Forgo the terrifying experience of wandering monstrous aisles and begging for advice from employees just as confused as you are -- head instead to this tiny storefront in the Upper Haight. It's got an extensive supply of merchandise geared toward city apartment-dwellers -- everything from tools to plants to paint -- but the store's main appeal is its neighborly attitude and the genuine... More >>

  • Best Writing Journals

    NBC Stationery & Gift

    For many hard-core diarists, having the right kind of journal can make or break the experience of writing in it. There's nothing worse than going to a darkened cafe and sitting down to poignantly spill your observations onto paper and finding that your notebook doesn't really speak to you. Perhaps its cover is too bright or its lines too wide, or maybe it just looks like a poser's journal? You've wasted a dollar on coffee and a morning full of... More >>

  • Best Vegan Shoe Store

    Otsu

    As a shoe store, gift shop, and all-around purveyor of hip gear, Otsu is a haven for anti-leather consumers and carnivores alike. Owned and operated by two indie rock-listening vegans, Otsu sells fashionable faux-hide shoes, purses, jackets, and belts that would appeal to even the choosiest of fashionistas. The minimalist but stylish store also supports local artists (those who don't use animal products in their work) by selling their creations: colorful paintings, crocheted stuffed animals, underground comics, handmade stationery, and... More >>

  • Best Travel Store

    Flight 001

    With aisles of gorgeous travel accessories arranged in an über-stylized setting (think walnut paneling, opaque Plexiglas, and Pirelli tile), Flight 001 revives the super-glam travel experience of the 1950s. Named after Pan-Am's infamous Flight 001 -- which flew between San Francisco and New York by way of Tokyo, Hong Kong, Delhi, Frankfurt, and five other cities -- this funky travel store sells everything a finicky jet-setter could want. From tangerine-colored leather passport holders to pocket-size cameras, handy penlights to prepacked... More >>

  • Best Beauty Parlor-Meets-Pet Store

    Garbo's and Amore Animal Supply

    In 1996, the owners of Garbo's beauty parlor decided to erect a wall down the middle of their salon and run a separate business on the other side. Times were tight, but they didn't want to raise the price of a haircut ($25 for short hair, $30 for long). After much rumination (one owner began thinking about how much money she spent on dog treats), the stylists converted the extra space into a pet supply store, leading to the unlikely... More >>

  • Best Place to Find That Elusive Hit Song on Vinyl

    Rooky Ricardo's

    Bay Area DJs and music aficionados alike (at least the ones savvy enough to have working turntables) know there is only one place to go when searching for a particular tune on wax. Damn near overflowing with 7-inch singles, Rooky Ricardo's is the Lower Haight's living, breathing shrine to the 45. Co-owners Richard Vivian and Jerry Thompson share an encyclopedic knowledge of classic soul and pop music. When someone doesn't have a song title or artist to go on, Vivian... More >>

  • Best Auto Repairs

    Auto Lab

    Honest. Affordable. Fast. Reliable. Need we say more? Henry Chua has worked on more than one of our vehicles. In every instance, we've had it back the same day, right as rain. When we drop off our ride in the morning (no appointment necessary, we've always been told to just come on by), we describe the problem to Chua, who suggests what he thinks the trouble might be. He hasn't been wrong yet. Not to mention he's always charged us... More >>

  • Best Specialty Pet Store

    PuppyCat

    It can be tough to differentiate one pet store from another; they all tend to carry similar toys, treats, and whatnot. What sets PuppyCat apart is its philosophy about food. The shop carries only all-natural products, many containing organic, human-grade ingredients. As organics have become all the rage in human foodstuffs, pet foods have gone in that direction, too. But who could argue that better nutrition doesn't equal better health, no matter what kind of mammal you're talking about? Shop... More >>

  • Best Hair Colorist

    Sherri Wheeler

    Wheeler's talents are not a very well-kept secret. She has an extensive and loyal client base even without any press. And her popularity extends beyond her clients; Wheeler and her husband, Raymond Granado (who can work magic with a pair of shears), opened their own salon last month, and several of Wheeler's former co-workers promptly followed her to On Mars. Here's our theory on why. Not only is Wheeler extremely knowledgeable about color processes and palettes, and a wiz at... More >>

  • Best Junkyard

    S.C.R.A.P. (Scroungers' Center for Re-Usable Art Parts)

    Want to make an Art Car? Or a puppet? Or a robot sculpture that doubles as a wet bar? All the random gadgets and forgotten bits of salvaged stuff imaginable are here: baby food jars, plastic gold chains, old brass belt buckles, linoleum samples -- you name it. S.C.R.A.P. is massive and run by a really cool old German lady who -- unlike Berkeley's Urban Ore -- won't charge you an arm and a leg for great junk.... More >>

  • Best Selection of Literary Kitsch

    Chelsea Books

    Chelsea Books is a mostly used bookstore for the ironic history buff in the family. At this cozy, homey shop in the Inner Sunset, you can find that folio-size tome on hippie communes you didn't know you needed. It's also the place to get your hands on biographies of now-campy figures from the past. Just think of the gag-gift potential in a biography of Evel Knievel, or -- for your gay friends -- the autobiography of Anita Bryant! The sex... More >>

  • Best Women's Bathhouse

    Osento

    You can pass Osento for years and not even realize it's there. Located in a Victorian house on Valencia with no sign in front when it's not open, you have to know about it to find it. For women who enjoy a homespun alternative to the fancy bathhouses of the Kabuki, Osento is the city's best-kept secret. Inside is a homey little bathhouse, complete with hot tub, two tiny outdoor saunas, and a cold soaking pool. Women clients (no men... More >>

  • Best Selection of Old-School Adidas

    Harput's

    Long before Sean John and J-Lo, Harput's was selling track suits. Long before Run-D.M.C., Harput's was selling Adidas. Originally run out of a minivan in the 1970s, Harput's put down roots on Fillmore Street 18 years ago, selling what it calls "old school" sneakers and track suits. These are the shoes and warm-up suits you remember from your youth -- the simple designs, bold colors, and sporty stripes of the 1970s and '80s. Though you can buy Nikes, Pumas, and... More >>

  • Best Thrift Store Clothes Shopping

    Goodwill As Is Shop

    Every hard-core thrift store shopper is a masochist at heart. The deeper the level of hell one must go through to find that $2 Pucci blouse, the sweeter the discovery. And that being the case, thrifters can find the greatest agonies and ecstasies at the Goodwill As Is Shop. Located behind the big Goodwill on Mission Street, As Is has clothing that hasn't been sorted, priced, or -- ahem -- discarded. Enormous laundry baskets inside a dirty warehouse are crammed... More >>

  • Best Boutique Hotel

    The Archbishop's Mansion

    Holy deluxe, Batman, what a B&B! Beautifully decorated rooms laden with antiques, breakfast in bed if you desire, wine and cheese in the magnificent lobby every afternoon -- what could possibly be better? A great escape without going far, this French Empire-style mansion turned 10-room hotel was built at the turn of the 20th century as a home for the archbishop of San Francisco (do they all really take a vow of poverty?) and is imposing inside and out. Crystal... More >>

  • Best Boutique Hotel (With a Theme)

    Serrano Hotel

    This theater district gem offers the plush décor and elegant rooms that travelers expect from a boutique hotel, but it also offers a great gimmick -- a board-game theme that charmingly permeates every aspect of the experience. The lobby is dotted with the likes of checkers and backgammon, and guests can choose from an extensive menu of games and puzzles -- including Life, Boggle, and Yahtzee -- to be delivered to their doors, room-service style and free of charge. New... More >>

  • Best Dollar Store

    99 Cents Only Giant Value

    Sadly, the only place in the city called "The Dollar Store" is actually a video shop, not a knickknack lover's heaven. Two fine dollar stores -- in spirit if not in name -- are the 99 Cents & Over Discount Outlet 5 on Mission and the 99 Cents Store on Geary. But possibly because of signage alone, the hands-down winner in this arena is 99 Cents Only Giant Value, deep in the heart of the Mission. For the true dollar-store... More >>

  • Best Kite Store

    Chinatown Kite Shop

    A Chinatown staple since 1969, this classic kite boutique offers the largest selection of kites, parafoils, and windwheels one is apt to find this side of the rainbow. There are delta kites, box kites, sports kites, stunt kites, and, of course, an enormous selection of traditional Chinese kites. And, in keeping with the tenor of the times, there are even kites shaped like military helicopters and U.S. Navy warplanes.... More >>

  • Best Sex Shop

    Good Vibrations

    Famous for helping make sex shops respectable, Good Vibrations has become a San Francisco institution since founder Joani Blank decided it was time to bring sex toys out of the closet in 1977. (Besides the flagship store, there's another one in Berkeley.) There's certainly no other place we know of where one can shop for massage lotions, designer condoms, and naughty books and videos while enjoying a rotating display of erotic art. There's even a collection of antique vibrators. The... More >>

  • Best Recycled Building Materials

    Building REsources

    As part of San Francisco Community Recyclers, Building REsources is under contract with the city to divert waste from the municipal landfill. Since 1994, the outfit estimates that it has done its job thoroughly, to the tune of about 1,000 tons per year. Managers Matthew Levesque and Andy Pugni run a salvage yard stuffed with building materials that have been donated instead of junked: Doors, sinks, windows, lumber, and hardware are arrayed in giant piles. They're sold at rock-bottom prices,... More >>

  • Best Night to Find Good Stuff in the Trash

    Thursday

    It's a fact that people leave treasures on the sidewalk, expecting them to be taken to the dump by sanitation engineers only to find that other people pick them up and love them. It's probably been that way for a long time, too; otherwise we wouldn't have that saying about one man's trash. But why Thursday, particularly? Secret sources tell us that folks want to get rid of stuff before the weekend. Because it isn't the weekend, though, passers-by are... More >>

  • Best Book Restorer

    Tom Conroy

    Conroy talks about books the way a caring doctor talks about his patients. He has been repairing and restoring books of all kinds for nearly 40 years, specializing in volumes with sentimental value or those "with a story." Have a third-generation children's book with a broken spine? A lectern-size family Bible with a missing cover? A 19th-century cookbook with torn pages? Conroy's your man. He's unapologetic about his philosophy of responding to the needs of the book rather than the... More >>

  • Best Handcrafted Jewelry

    Jessica Mendels

    Is Jessica Mendels a gifted artisan or a slave laborer? Hard to tell. But one thing's for sure: She's having trouble keeping up with demand for her handcrafted jewelry. Probably because these are not your run-of-the-mill necklaces and earrings. The unique pieces are created from real flower petals, gorgeous specimens of bougainvillea, rose, begonia, and jasmine. The flowers, with all their vibrancy and color, are preserved in a process about which Jessica is very tight-lipped. The petals are then strung... More >>

  • Best Way to Shop in This Lousy Economy

    Department Store Sales Markdowns, baby -- we live for 'em in the best of times. But they're even more important during this endless Bush recess- ... oops, economic downturn. Of course, if you're dead-set on a particular item, waiting for a sale can be risky, given the obvious: It can sell out. We advise that you buddy up with a sales clerk at your store of preference, so he can clue you in on discounts before they become public knowledge.... More >>

  • Best Women's Jeans

    The Savvy Department, Nordstrom

    Move over Seven jeans, your reign has been glorious, but we're over you and ready for some new options. Savvy at Nordstrom houses more than 10 different brand names, including Paper Denim & Cloth, Hudson, Earl, D&G, Miss Sixty, Juicy Couture, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Blue Colt (remember the infamous "Gwyneth" jean?), Angel by AG, Diesel, and Joie. Whether your penchant is for flare, boot-cut, or tapered leg, light-wash or dirty denim, crack-friendly low-rise or not so crack-friendly low-mid-rise, you'll... More >>

  • Best Chance for a Decent Date

    The Internet Looking for love in the big city can be a big, honkin' pain in the ass. You've encountered one too many half-drunk idiots at your neighborhood bar (and after one too many happy-hour margaritas, you've found them interesting). The people in your office are flat-out geeks. Your gym crush plays for the other team. Your single friends have introduced you to their single friends who, in turn, have introduced you to their therapist. So hey, there's nothing wrong... More >>

  • Three Best Funky Furniture Stores

    We're so tired of IKEA, we could scream. Entertaining faux-Swedish names aside, its furniture doesn't inspire us, doesn't make us want to invite our friends over just to admire our new chairs. For real inspiration at prices that don't require you to sell your plasma, check out these favorite haunts: The Drug Store 3149 Mission (at Precita), 282-0544 It looks like a drug store -- complete with retro "Drug Store" sign out front and "Rx" tiles on the outside wall... More >>

  • Readers' Poll

    Best Massages Sunset Sauna & Non Sexual Massage Best Used Bookstore Green Apple Best Women's Clothing Store Ooma Best Men's Clothing Store Macy's Best Vintage Clothing Crossroads Trading Company Best Women's Shoe Store Nordstrom Best Car Repair Noe Valley Auto Works Best Furniture (New) IKEA Best Furniture (Used) Goodwill Best Art Supplies Flax Art & Design Best Music Supplies Guitar Center Best Athletic Supplies Lombardi Sports Best Pet Supplies Petco Best Garden Supplies Sloat Garden Center Best Hardware Supplies Cole... More >>

  • Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Bookstore

    Borderlands BooksIn certain circles, finding that out-of-print copy of Roger Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness or H.P. Lovecraft's The Outsider and Others is an event worthy of wild celebration. While few understand this mania, Borderlands does. Most bookstores relegate fantasy, horror, and sci-fi writings to the lonely aisle or dusty corner, but Borderlands has devoted its entire store to the genres. Lovingly presented -- complete with staff recommendations, awards, and summaries -- all titles are organized by author, with... More >>

  • Best Garage-Sale Alternative for People Who Hate Getting Up Early

    Mickey's Monkey

    If you crave the endless potential of garage sales but can't stomach that whole getting-up-at-6-a.m. thing, Mickey's Monkey furniture store should suit your fancy. This hole-in-the-wall treasure trove doesn't even open its doors until 11 a.m., and some days, not even that early, as the hours are often determined by the whims of management. Mickey's Monkey is tiny -- about the size of some suburban bathrooms -- but during business hours, the store unloads its merchandise onto the sidewalk for... More >>

  • Best Cheap Haircuts

    Trimmers

    Getting a haircut can be downright frightening. Your anxiety might stem from the affordable but often hit-or-dangerously-miss quality of Supercuts. Or maybe the panic sets in when you get the credit card bill for that $50 (or more!) chopping by your local coiffeur. A safe and wallet-friendly alternative can be found at Trimmers in the Upper Haight. This modest and decidedly untrendy salon looks, to a casual observer, as though it would offer the pitfalls of a bargain-chain barbershop. Instead,... More >>

  • Best Not-So-Cheap Haircuts

    Louie Hair Salon

    Louie opened its doors 11 years ago, when co-owners Susan Daar and Joel Quinteros had all of four clients. Since then Louie (named after Susan's grandfather, who paid her a few bucks to trim his hair when she was a girl) has come a long way, expanding the modern space from one room to three, in order to accommodate a growing clientele. Nestled in a quaint alley across the street from Zuni, Louie is centrally located yet comfortably distant from... More >>

  • Best Party Paraphernalia

    SFParty

    "We sell fun!" is SFParty's motto, and if there was ever such a thing as truth in advertising, this is it. The huge barnlike space is packed floor to ceiling with just about everything you could possibly need for that special wingding, from banners and confetti and balloons to streamers and sombreros and specially tinted light bulbs. The store's absolute dedication to all things festive came in handy a few months ago when we couldn't find suitable décor for our... More >>

  • Best Juice Harp Emporium

    Lark in the Morning

    Its origin is clouded in history, but the juice harp -- the tiny one-stringed instrument that's held against the teeth and plucked -- turns up in similar guises in ancient cultures around the globe. (A 1,000-year-old iron model was discovered in Japan a few years ago.) The name alone is a matter of conjecture, deriving as it does from "gewgaw" and "Jew's harp" to today's less inflammatory moniker. In Germany it's a maultrommel, in Italy a scacciapensieri, and at Lark... More >>

  • Best Young Fashion Engineers

    Joe Haller and Ian Hannula, Nice Collective

    The Richmond District isn't exactly known as a hot spot for innovative fashion. But from a lair out in the avenues, a creative clothing lab releases its sartorial experiments to an international urban network and has earned respect in discerning markets including Tokyo, Milan, and London. Joe Haller and Ian Hannula's 7-year-old company kick-started with inspiration from the synergistic audiovisual elements of the electronic dance music scene. But the pair has since translated the techno vibe into wearables that often... More >>

  • Best Martial Arts Stuff

    Brendan Lai's Supply Co.

    Cardio kickboxing isn't a martial art, and neither is Tae Bo -- Bruce Lee could've had Tae Bo king Billy Blanks on the canvas faster than Blanks could've said, "Buy my videos." So don't go to Brendan Lai's Supply Co. thinking you'll find cute workout gear or Blanks' tapes. But if you're in the market for a kwando, broadsword, or spear, or if you're simply looking to dress up as a ninja, this Mission storefront is the place to be.... More >>

  • Best Driving School for Transplanted New Yorkers

    Apex Driving School

    Getting around the Big Apple is easy: It's got no hills, a reliable bus and subway system, and cabs competing to take you anywhere you need to be, at any hour, day or night. As a result, it's no stretch to find 30-year-old New Yorkers who've never driven a car. Some of these city slickers eventually find their way out west, where they can feel out of sorts and homesick when faced with the Bay Area's less-than-dependable public transportation system... More >>

  • Best Resource for Overwhelmed Parents

    Parents Place

    Everybody knows that having a kid changes your life, for better and for worse. With the help of Parents Place, moms and dads can make sure that it's more better than worse. Founded in 1975 by Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, the program is based on the philosophy that parenting is a skill that can be learned and perfected over time. Practical issues get covered in workshops like "Mastering Motherhood" and "How to Find a Nanny," plus... More >>

  • Best Custom Makeup

    Oui, Three Queens

    As we all know, beauty isn't always natural. Sometimes it takes blending! And Evan Kaminsky of Oui, Three Queens in Hayes Valley is a master at blending cosmetics. A veteran makeup artist who has studied both theatrical and prosthetic makeup, Kaminsky formulates lipsticks, foundations, concealers, and glosses while you watch. And natural beauty can be easily trumped by the "beautifully natural" look this artisan produces, from the mundane to the wild. His products are made using the finest mineral-based pigments... More >>

  • Best Beauty Supplies

    Skin Zone

    With welcoming bubbles emanating from its entrance, Skin Zone fulfills all of our pore-cleansing and leave-in-conditioning needs. Although we have to buy our $500 La Prairie Cellular Radiance Cream Time-Correcting Therapy elsewhere, we can always pick up an impressive and unusual array of other skin- and hair-care products here -- enough to satisfy even the most stubborn of toiletry fetishists. What makes Skin Zone extra special is its history: It was once Castro Camera, the camera shop, home, and campaign... More >>

  • Best Free Alcohol and Drug Rehab

    St. Anthony Foundation

    St. Anthony's is well-known for serving hot dinners to the homeless (2,000 meals per day), as well as providing free medical care and clothing to the poor. Psychological counseling and employment training are available at the foundation's Covenant House and Seton Hall for those who want to spend a year engaged in physical labor, such as gardening, furniture moving, painting, and washing dishes, while learning how to restructure their lives without the use of mind-altering substances. Computer classes are also... More >>

  • Best Mortuary

    Pacific Interment

    It's never too soon to plan for your passage into the next world (assuming it exists). And if you're thinking cremation, Pacific Interment is the place to go. After all, it was tacitly endorsed by no less than Jessica Mitford, author of The American Way of Death, her famous exposé of the funeral industry, who chose to be cremated at Pacific's pretty green building surrounded by those trees that look like giant asparagus. The biz is family-run. With several on-site... More >>

  • Best "Out of the Office" Appointment

    Silk Salon

    Close the laptop. Turn off the phone. Dip your feet in the warm water and, if only for an hour, relax. A visit to Silk tops our list of quick treats we can give ourselves in the midst of a stressful life. Strategically located on Franklin near Sutter, the salon offers delightful manicures and pedicures, performed in the comfort of cushy recliners, all in a bright, calming space. For a little something special, add warm herbal oils or a milk-and-honey... More >>

  • Best Place to Find Something to Hold Something

    The Container Store

    Some of us have wrapping issues. We find that we desperately need an oddly shaped box for that really cool birthday present -- the one we bought without a second thought to how we might actually send it. And some of us just like stuff that holds other stuff: For us, finding a box, a bottle, a uniquely shaped jar, or an envelope that's just the right size is a secret pleasure. We all dig the Container Store -- literally,... More >>

  • Best Prenatal Yoga

    Yoga Tree

    For reasons that will go unmentioned, performing yoga moves while pregnant can be problematic. But according to yoga's more earnest practitioners, the extra effort produces bountiful results. Prenatal yoga, they say, creates felicitous creatures called "yoga babies," who supposedly enter the world more at peace, and more physically attractive, than other newborns. Yoga Tree, which has several locations in San Francisco, is a good place for experimenting with this premise. Though one might think an activity aimed at producing highly... More >>

  • Best Hardware Store Employees

    Roberts Hardware

    When home-improvement tasks come calling, take a deep breath and remember this pleasant alternative to Home Depot. Forgo the terrifying experience of wandering monstrous aisles and begging for advice from employees just as confused as you are -- head instead to this tiny storefront in the Upper Haight. It's got an extensive supply of merchandise geared toward city apartment-dwellers -- everything from tools to plants to paint -- but the store's main appeal is its neighborly attitude and the genuine... More >>

  • Best Writing Journals

    NBC Stationery & Gift

    For many hard-core diarists, having the right kind of journal can make or break the experience of writing in it. There's nothing worse than going to a darkened cafe and sitting down to poignantly spill your observations onto paper and finding that your notebook doesn't really speak to you. Perhaps its cover is too bright or its lines too wide, or maybe it just looks like a poser's journal? You've wasted a dollar on coffee and a morning full of... More >>

  • Best Vegan Shoe Store

    Otsu

    As a shoe store, gift shop, and all-around purveyor of hip gear, Otsu is a haven for anti-leather consumers and carnivores alike. Owned and operated by two indie rock-listening vegans, Otsu sells fashionable faux-hide shoes, purses, jackets, and belts that would appeal to even the choosiest of fashionistas. The minimalist but stylish store also supports local artists (those who don't use animal products in their work) by selling their creations: colorful paintings, crocheted stuffed animals, underground comics, handmade stationery, and... More >>

  • Best Travel Store

    Flight 001

    With aisles of gorgeous travel accessories arranged in an über-stylized setting (think walnut paneling, opaque Plexiglas, and Pirelli tile), Flight 001 revives the super-glam travel experience of the 1950s. Named after Pan-Am's infamous Flight 001 -- which flew between San Francisco and New York by way of Tokyo, Hong Kong, Delhi, Frankfurt, and five other cities -- this funky travel store sells everything a finicky jet-setter could want. From tangerine-colored leather passport holders to pocket-size cameras, handy penlights to prepacked... More >>

  • Best Beauty Parlor-Meets-Pet Store

    Garbo's and Amore Animal Supply

    In 1996, the owners of Garbo's beauty parlor decided to erect a wall down the middle of their salon and run a separate business on the other side. Times were tight, but they didn't want to raise the price of a haircut ($25 for short hair, $30 for long). After much rumination (one owner began thinking about how much money she spent on dog treats), the stylists converted the extra space into a pet supply store, leading to the unlikely... More >>

  • Best Place to Find That Elusive Hit Song on Vinyl

    Rooky Ricardo's Records

    Bay Area DJs and music aficionados alike (at least the ones savvy enough to have working turntables) know there is only one place to go when searching for a particular tune on wax. Damn near overflowing with 7-inch singles, Rooky Ricardo's is the Lower Haight's living, breathing shrine to the 45. Co-owners Richard Vivian and Jerry Thompson share an encyclopedic knowledge of classic soul and pop music. When someone doesn't have a song title or artist to go on, Vivian... More >>

  • Best Auto Repairs

    Auto Lab

    Honest. Affordable. Fast. Reliable. Need we say more? Henry Chua has worked on more than one of our vehicles. In every instance, we've had it back the same day, right as rain. When we drop off our ride in the morning (no appointment necessary, we've always been told to just come on by), we describe the problem to Chua, who suggests what he thinks the trouble might be. He hasn't been wrong yet. Not to mention he's always charged us... More >>

  • Best Specialty Pet Store

    PuppyCat

    It can be tough to differentiate one pet store from another; they all tend to carry similar toys, treats, and whatnot. What sets PuppyCat apart is its philosophy about food. The shop carries only all-natural products, many containing organic, human-grade ingredients. As organics have become all the rage in human foodstuffs, pet foods have gone in that direction, too. But who could argue that better nutrition doesn't equal better health, no matter what kind of mammal you're talking about? Shop... More >>

  • Best Hair Colorist

    Sherri Wheeler

    Wheeler's talents are not a very well-kept secret. She has an extensive and loyal client base even without any press. And her popularity extends beyond her clients; Wheeler and her husband, Raymond Granado (who can work magic with a pair of shears), opened their own salon last month, and several of Wheeler's former co-workers promptly followed her to On Mars. Here's our theory on why. Not only is Wheeler extremely knowledgeable about color processes and palettes, and a wiz at... More >>

  • Best Junkyard

    S.C.R.A.P. (Scroungers' Center for Re-Usable Art Parts)

    Want to make an Art Car? Or a puppet? Or a robot sculpture that doubles as a wet bar? All the random gadgets and forgotten bits of salvaged stuff imaginable are here: baby food jars, plastic gold chains, old brass belt buckles, linoleum samples -- you name it. S.C.R.A.P. is massive and run by a really cool old German lady who -- unlike Berkeley's Urban Ore -- won't charge you an arm and a leg for great junk.... More >>

  • Best Selection of Literary Kitsch

    Chelsea Books

    Chelsea Books is a mostly used bookstore for the ironic history buff in the family. At this cozy, homey shop in the Inner Sunset, you can find that folio-size tome on hippie communes you didn't know you needed. It's also the place to get your hands on biographies of now-campy figures from the past. Just think of the gag-gift potential in a biography of Evel Knievel, or -- for your gay friends -- the autobiography of Anita Bryant! The sex... More >>

  • Best Women's Bathhouse

    Osento

    You can pass Osento for years and not even realize it's there. Located in a Victorian house on Valencia with no sign in front when it's not open, you have to know about it to find it. For women who enjoy a homespun alternative to the fancy bathhouses of the Kabuki, Osento is the city's best-kept secret. Inside is a homey little bathhouse, complete with hot tub, two tiny outdoor saunas, and a cold soaking pool. Women clients (no men... More >>

  • Best Selection of Old-School Adidas

    Harput's Market

    Long before Sean John and J-Lo, Harput's was selling track suits. Long before Run-D.M.C., Harput's was selling Adidas. Originally run out of a minivan in the 1970s, Harput's put down roots on Fillmore Street 18 years ago, selling what it calls "old school" sneakers and track suits. These are the shoes and warm-up suits you remember from your youth -- the simple designs, bold colors, and sporty stripes of the 1970s and '80s. Though you can buy Nikes, Pumas, and... More >>

  • Best Thrift Store Clothes Shopping

    Goodwill As Is Shop

    Every hard-core thrift store shopper is a masochist at heart. The deeper the level of hell one must go through to find that $2 Pucci blouse, the sweeter the discovery. And that being the case, thrifters can find the greatest agonies and ecstasies at the Goodwill As Is Shop. Located behind the big Goodwill on Mission Street, As Is has clothing that hasn't been sorted, priced, or -- ahem -- discarded. Enormous laundry baskets inside a dirty warehouse are crammed... More >>

  • Best Boutique Hotel

    The Archbishop's Mansion

    Holy deluxe, Batman, what a B&B! Beautifully decorated rooms laden with antiques, breakfast in bed if you desire, wine and cheese in the magnificent lobby every afternoon -- what could possibly be better? A great escape without going far, this French Empire-style mansion turned 10-room hotel was built at the turn of the 20th century as a home for the archbishop of San Francisco (do they all really take a vow of poverty?) and is imposing inside and out. Crystal... More >>

  • Best Boutique Hotel (With a Theme)

    Serrano Hotel

    This theater district gem offers the plush décor and elegant rooms that travelers expect from a boutique hotel, but it also offers a great gimmick -- a board-game theme that charmingly permeates every aspect of the experience. The lobby is dotted with the likes of checkers and backgammon, and guests can choose from an extensive menu of games and puzzles -- including Life, Boggle, and Yahtzee -- to be delivered to their doors, room-service style and free of charge. New... More >>

  • Best Dollar Store

    99 Cents Only Giant Value

    Sadly, the only place in the city called "The Dollar Store" is actually a video shop, not a knickknack lover's heaven. Two fine dollar stores -- in spirit if not in name -- are the 99 Cents & Over Discount Outlet 5 on Mission and the 99 Cents Store on Geary. But possibly because of signage alone, the hands-down winner in this arena is 99 Cents Only Giant Value, deep in the heart of the Mission. For the true dollar-store... More >>

  • Best Kite Store

    Chinatown Kite Shop

    A Chinatown staple since 1969, this classic kite boutique offers the largest selection of kites, parafoils, and windwheels one is apt to find this side of the rainbow. There are delta kites, box kites, sports kites, stunt kites, and, of course, an enormous selection of traditional Chinese kites. And, in keeping with the tenor of the times, there are even kites shaped like military helicopters and U.S. Navy warplanes.... More >>

  • Best Sex Shop

    Good Vibrations

    Famous for helping make sex shops respectable, Good Vibrations has become a San Francisco institution since founder Joani Blank decided it was time to bring sex toys out of the closet in 1977. (Besides the flagship store, there's another one in Berkeley.) There's certainly no other place we know of where one can shop for massage lotions, designer condoms, and naughty books and videos while enjoying a rotating display of erotic art. There's even a collection of antique vibrators. The... More >>

  • Best Recycled Building Materials

    Building REsources

    As part of San Francisco Community Recyclers, Building REsources is under contract with the city to divert waste from the municipal landfill. Since 1994, the outfit estimates that it has done its job thoroughly, to the tune of about 1,000 tons per year. Managers Matthew Levesque and Andy Pugni run a salvage yard stuffed with building materials that have been donated instead of junked: Doors, sinks, windows, lumber, and hardware are arrayed in giant piles. They're sold at rock-bottom prices,... More >>

  • Best Night to Find Good Stuff in the Trash

    Thursday

    It's a fact that people leave treasures on the sidewalk, expecting them to be taken to the dump by sanitation engineers only to find that other people pick them up and love them. It's probably been that way for a long time, too; otherwise we wouldn't have that saying about one man's trash. But why Thursday, particularly? Secret sources tell us that folks want to get rid of stuff before the weekend. Because it isn't the weekend, though, passers-by are... More >>

  • Best Book Restorer

    Tom Conroy

    Conroy talks about books the way a caring doctor talks about his patients. He has been repairing and restoring books of all kinds for nearly 40 years, specializing in volumes with sentimental value or those "with a story." Have a third-generation children's book with a broken spine? A lectern-size family Bible with a missing cover? A 19th-century cookbook with torn pages? Conroy's your man. He's unapologetic about his philosophy of responding to the needs of the book rather than the... More >>

  • Best Handcrafted Jewelry

    Jessica Mendels

    Is Jessica Mendels a gifted artisan or a slave laborer? Hard to tell. But one thing's for sure: She's having trouble keeping up with demand for her handcrafted jewelry. Probably because these are not your run-of-the-mill necklaces and earrings. The unique pieces are created from real flower petals, gorgeous specimens of bougainvillea, rose, begonia, and jasmine. The flowers, with all their vibrancy and color, are preserved in a process about which Jessica is very tight-lipped. The petals are then strung... More >>

  • Best Way to Shop in This Lousy Economy

    Department Store Sales Markdowns, baby -- we live for 'em in the best of times. But they're even more important during this endless Bush recess- ... oops, economic downturn. Of course, if you're dead-set on a particular item, waiting for a sale can be risky, given the obvious: It can sell out. We advise that you buddy up with a sales clerk at your store of preference, so he can clue you in on discounts before they become public knowledge.... More >>

  • Best Women's Jeans

    The Savvy Department, Nordstrom

    Move over Seven jeans, your reign has been glorious, but we're over you and ready for some new options. Savvy at Nordstrom houses more than 10 different brand names, including Paper Denim & Cloth, Hudson, Earl, D&G, Miss Sixty, Juicy Couture, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Blue Colt (remember the infamous "Gwyneth" jean?), Angel by AG, Diesel, and Joie. Whether your penchant is for flare, boot-cut, or tapered leg, light-wash or dirty denim, crack-friendly low-rise or not so crack-friendly low-mid-rise, you'll... More >>

  • Best Chance for a Decent Date

    The Internet Looking for love in the big city can be a big, honkin' pain in the ass. You've encountered one too many half-drunk idiots at your neighborhood bar (and after one too many happy-hour margaritas, you've found them interesting). The people in your office are flat-out geeks. Your gym crush plays for the other team. Your single friends have introduced you to their single friends who, in turn, have introduced you to their therapist. So hey, there's nothing wrong... More >>

  • Three Best Funky Furniture Stores

    We're so tired of IKEA, we could scream. Entertaining faux-Swedish names aside, its furniture doesn't inspire us, doesn't make us want to invite our friends over just to admire our new chairs. For real inspiration at prices that don't require you to sell your plasma, check out these favorite haunts: The Drug Store 3149 Mission (at Precita), 282-0544 It looks like a drug store -- complete with retro "Drug Store" sign out front and "Rx" tiles on the outside wall... More >>

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