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Web Extra — Bonus Best Of 

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People and Places

Best Caltrain Voice
Sergio Cruz
Sergio Cruz knows what early morning Caltrain commuters heading from S.F. to their jobs on the Peninsula and the South Bay want. The supersmooth conductor doesn't try to be an authority figure or hone his standup routine when he calls the stops and makes announcements. No jokes. No attitude. No shtick. Instead, he employs a soft, silky voice that somehow combines the best of Barry White and Ricardo Montalban. You'd swear there's harp music in the background when he's on the microphone. The calming delivery soothes the soul and makes the economy, the boss, and the hassles of commuting fade away.

Best Theater PR Person
Erica Lewis-Finein
Alongside the puzzle of the postlaundry lost sock, one of life's eternal mysteries has to be the hiring of PR specialists. Companies ostensibly employ press representatives to get word out about their services and products. But surprisingly few of these so-called professional communicators possess communications skills. In the world of arts PR, where theater, opera, and dance companies have to fight for dwindling column inches, knowing how to interact with journalists is key — and no one does the job better in the Bay Area than Erica Lewis-Finein. She represents several smallish San Francisco-based companies such as the Cutting Ball (whose co-artistic director dubs her "the best"), as well as the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley. Lewis-Finein approaches her job with professionalism, creativity, and a quiet sense of humor. She gets out the message without being pushy, is always responsive, comes up with excellent story ideas, and — most important of all — knows when to back off.

Sports and Recreation

Best Yoga Deal
City College Yoga Classes
50 Phelan (at Cloud), 239-3000
www.ccsf.edu
Most yoga studios charge more than $100 a month of yoga, with a full year ringing in at more than $1,000. Those prices are hard to swallow, even if you are paying for peace of mind and a tight bod. Enter the eminently affordable City College of San Francisco, which offers beginning, intermediate, and intensive classes. There's even a Senior and Restorative class. Main Campus classes take place in a yoga studio with bamboo floors and lots of natural light. Mission Campus classes take place in the same linoleum-floored, fluorescent-lit room as the dance classes. They can be crowded, but at $20 a unit (about $44 a semester for one weekly two-hour class after all the fees are added) it's easy to overlook the lack of luxury. Mats, blocks and straps, and woo-woo yoga music are provided gratis. Availability varies by semester, so check the catalog.

Arts and Entertainment

Best Food-Friendly Theater
The Exit Theatreplex
156 Eddy (at Mason), 931-2699
www.theexit.org
In a country where most performing arts venues won't sell you an alcoholic beverage, let alone let you bring it into the auditorium, the Exit Theatre's cafe space is a modest yet wonderful bastion of hospitality. Located in the heart of the Tenderloin in the same building as two of the Exit's main performance spaces, the cozy and cheerfully managed cafe serves theatergoers such unpretentious yet appetizing treats such as bountiful fruit and cheese plates as well as copious slices of quiche garnished with apple slices (both a steal at $5). There are also wine, beer, and sake. The booze may not be top-shelf, but the voluminous pours go down nicely alongside the cafe's seemingly bottomless supply of free pretzels. The best thing of all is that, unlike at many other venues in town, audience members can take food and drink to their seats.

Shopping and Services

Best Lingerie
My Boudoir Lingerie
2029 Fillmore (at California), 346-1502
www.myboudoir.net
Grandma panties, begone! My Boudoir Lingerie is a Pacific Heights boutique for your unmentionables that is as versatile as it is small. It sports an exquisite assortment of everything from frilly accoutrements to suitably trampy getups for your vixeny alter ego. Exclusive European brands like Princesse Tam Tam, Aubade, HUIT, and Chantelle grace the racks here. Cleavage-enhancing balconette bras, an impressive array of fishnets and thigh-high stockings, and filmy nighties will catch your fancy, but the devil is in the details. Pearls, intricate embroidery, lace-up seams, and strategically placed hooks put a visit to My Boudoir echelons above, say, an outing to your local Victoria's Secret. If you're in an adventurous mood, some of the pieces come with more details and are a bit more involved as far as putting 'em on and taking 'em off. Whatever the case, maximum femininity is the order of the day here, so as the friendly salespeople squeeze you into some seriously seductive undies, check your demureness at the door.

Best Place for Pulp Lit
Kayo Books
8914 Post (at Hyde), 749-0554
www.kayobooks.com
Kayo boasts unexpurgated editions (many of them first editions) of some of the lowest-brow literature this side of the men's room. The material mainly hails from annals both obscure and lurid, from the 1930s to the 1970s. Most of the items are more depraved than an H.P. Lovecraft book. Titles by the likes of David Goodis, Ed Wood, and Peter Rabe share shelf space with Mad magazines and monster comics. The store is also a veritable cornucopia of collectors' items; its two floors are crammed with comic books, rare vintage magazines, hard-boiled fiction, and seedy sci-fi. Considering that Kayo has helmed counterculture lit in S.F. for the last 11 years, it's no wonder sleaze lovers like director John Waters get their regular dose of smut right here.

Eats and Treats

Best Rebirth
Washington Square Bar & Grill
1707 Powell (at Union), 433-1188
San Franciscans were shocked when the Washington Square Bar & Grill, a fixture in North Beach since 1973, disappeared on January 1, 2008 (after a brief "blue period" during which it was known as the Cobalt Tavern). Its regulars entered a period of mourning, now happily ended, as restaurateurs Liam and Susan Tiernan rescued the room from oblivion and reopened it in March. They rebuilt the place from the ground up to have it look just like it did before: white tablecloths, polished wood, gleaming brass. They rehired veteran bartender Michael McCourt, and once again there are piano players at night and jazz groups at Saturday and Sunday brunch. American comfort food (steak, chops, meat loaf, burgers, Caesar salad, pastas, french fries) dominates the menu, but it's the comfy atmosphere (and the drinks and music) that you're here for.

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Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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