BEST PLACE TO CLEAN UP AFTER BURNING MAN
Imperial Day Spa
1875 Geary Blvd. imperialdayspa.com/
As anyone who’s spent a week on the Playa knows, it takes more than just a simple shower to get rid of the powdery dust caked into every imaginable crevice. Imperial Day Spa has got your back (and everywhere else, too). Sign up for a purification scrub and oil massage ($90), and you’ll be loofah-ed, soaped, covered in grated cucumber, bathed in milk, and massaged with oil. It’s no frills the tables are covered in plastic and the scrub-down is intense but after 80 minutes, you’ll leave feeling completely reborn.
BEST RETAIL STORE LINE TO WAIT IN
461 Valencia St. everlane.com
OK, first of all, how is this a thing?! Whoever believes the brick-and-mortar retail industry is dying hasn’t walked past Valencia Street’s new Everlane on a Saturday afternoon. The minimalist clothing retailer drew a powerful following online, but the opportunity to see, touch, and try on clothes in person is clearly so irresistible that the store — which, for the record, is not tiny — regularly fills to capacity. Expect anything from a five- to 20-minute wait outside the shop on weekends. You’ll probably get some stares from passersby, but they clearly have no idea what a steal that short-sleeve button-up silk shirt is.
BEST NEW TATTOO SHOP
236 Leavenworth St. temperancetattoosf.com
In a city chock full of tattoo parlors, it’s not an easy thing to open up one and immediately see rampant success. But Temperance Tattoo, which launched in summer 2017, already has pretty full books for its three stellar artists, who all work in wildly different styles. Owner Oliver Kenton made a name for himself with intricately-detailed blackwork designs. Regina “Push” Estrada draws achingly beautiful flowers, and specializes in scar coverups. And Cho’s work, with its thick black lines and colorful Lisa-Frank-esque interiors, defies definition. The trio are doing great work in a city filled with talented tattooers, and we’re excited to see what this little shop does next.
BEST STORE FOR WRITERS
980 Valencia St. kolo.com
If spending an hour choosing the perfect pen sounds like a dream come true, then Topdrawer is for you. The quirky, new, little shop on the 900 block of Valencia carries dozens of pens and pencils, from fine-tipped to erasable, and notebooks for every possible purpose. It’s a stationery store for grownups, and is hard to walk out of without dropping $10 on pens, another $35 on stationery, and perhaps $35 for an LED camplight because why not.
BEST PLACE TO SHOP WHILE HIGH
570 Market St., 22 Peace Plz., and 2300 16th St. daisojapan.com
Daiso is colorful, cute, and bizarre as hell. Trust us this one: It’s a great place to be after a few hits of that vape pen. Stroke strange fluffy underwear, spend an hour agonizing over which teddy bear teacup to take home, and fill your basket with every Japanese snack imaginable. (We recommend tomato gummies, dried squid, green tea Pocky.) In between all the kawaii, there are actually useful things, like cooking supplies and dog poop bags and disposable underwear. But the best part is that no matter how long you spend there and how much you buy, few items are over $1.50, so a basket full of cell phone accessories and washi tape is hardly going to break the bank.
BEST BOOKSTORE FOR ANIME AND MANGA FANS
1581 Webster St. kinokuniya.com
With a plethora of hard-to-find Japanese books and magazines, Japantown’s Kinokuniya is nothing short of heaven on earth for anime and manga fans. Their selection apart from the comics and cartoons include imported toys, knick-knacks, and movies that anyone interested in Japanese culture would enjoy. For those new to Japanese animation and comic books, Kinokuniya’s entire bottom floor dedicated to anime and manga is a perfect spot to dip your toes into the fantasy worlds that have captivated the imaginations of countless people. (Be sure to check out the Studio Ghibli section!)
BEST PLACE TO MEET A PARROT
The Animal Connection
2550 Judah St. animalconnectionsf.com
Proudly billed as San Francisco’s “largest independent pet store,” The Animal Connection is the perfect place to meet your new furry, scaly, or feathery best friend. The 31 year running Sunset pet shop always has new exotic birds and parrots coming in and out of the store, and most of them are very friendly to humans. Even if you are not in the market to purchase a severe macaw or veiled chameleon, you are more than welcome to come in and say hello to the exotic birds, reptiles, fish, and rodents at the store.
HOTTEST NEW SPOT TO GET PIERCED
3169 16th St. fiatluxsf.com
Calling all septums, lips, tongues, and ears. The latest place to be pierced by talented professionals happens to be one of the Mission District’s best jewelry shops: Fiat Lux. Cofounder Marie McCarthy, who also owns Rose Gold Tattoo and Piercing in the Haight, bridges the two by sharing her talented piercing staff. Sparkles abound with jewelry made in-house, or by L.A. design firm bvla. Swing by Saturday afternoons to get some diamonds in your lip or sapphires in your nose.
BEST SPOT TO BUY FROM LOCAL DESIGNERS
541 Octavia St. gathersf.com
Hayes Valley boutiques are jam-packed with stationery from France, shoes from Italy, and vintage dresses from Japan. But one shop doesn’t stray so far to find its wares: Gather’s vast array of gifts, jewelry, clothes, and art is sourced primarily from local artists. Swing by for bags by Lady Alamo, clothes by Alamere Designs, cards by Brenna Daugherty, or soap by Etta & Billie, and put your money toward the artisans that reside in our hilly city.
Oak Street Laundry
1130 Oak St.
This Divisadero corridor laundromat hits all the basics: It’s clean, there are lots of washers and dryers, the prices aren’t insane, and it’s conveniently located across the street from Vinyl Coffee and Wine Bar. But what really propels this laundromat from “acceptable” to “freakin’ awesome” is what’s on TV: non-stop Soul Train. Watch your socks spin around with Jackson 5 playing in the background, grab something out of the vending machine while Michael Jackson serenades the room, and just try not to start dancing and humming along to Chuck Berry while you fold your undies.
BEST NEW PRETENTIOUS BUSINESS
2401 Mission St. laundre.co
You won’t find Soul Train on the TV at Laundré, but you will find avocado toast. The high-end laundromat on the corner of Mission and 20th street is obnoxious as hell, in part because it’s so great. Yes, each load of dirty clothes costs upwards of $10 to wash and dry, the minimalist decor screams wasted space, and the $4.75 lavender latte is beyond pretentious. But, the washers have a self-cleaning cycle, an unprecedented luxury when you’re forced to share with strangers. The food is pricey ($8 for avocado toast??) but delicious, as is the coffee. The atmosphere is calm and quiet. As much as we loathe admitting it, if you’re going to spend time and money doing laundry, there’s really no nicer place to do so in all of S.F.
BEST FLOWER SHOP
3639 18th St. and 550 Divisadero St., biritemarket.com
There’s something to be said for buying flowers that don’t resemble the exploding, overstuffed bouquets that you’d find in your grandma’s house. Bi-Rite has perfected the art of finding unusual flora and fauna, packaging them in simple brown paper for that fresh-from-the-farmers-market look. Large, alien-like Proteas sit next to small pompoms of Dahlias and delicate, sexual Calla Lilies, packing that wow-factor punch. Grab a bouquet or two next time you’re picking up $5 oranges and $12 cheese.
QUICKEST WAY TO SEE IF IT’S FOGGY AT THE BEACH
Everyone already knows that Weather Underground does a fair — if not perfect — job of mapping out the capricious microclimates of SF on the daily. But temperature at the beach is not really as important as the question of whether or not the fog has burned off. Thankfully we have a handy web-based tool built by SF resident and BuzzFeed reporter Logan Williams called Fog Today, which takes publicly available satellite images of the city and shows you the present cloud/fog situation, and loops of both the last two hours, and the last 24 hours. The images come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s new geostationary Earth-observation satellite, GOES-16. Now, on those confusing days in July, Fogust, and September, when you wake up saying, “Is this maybe a beach day?”, you can hop on Fog Today and get your answer without having to guess and be disappointed after applying sunblock and packing that cooler.
FRIENDLIEST FABRIC STORE EXPERIENCE
117 Post St., britexfabrics.com
It may not be the cheapest game in town if you’re designing on a dime, but 66-year-old Britex remains one of the better retail experiences in the city if you’re in the market for fabric — as well as just a colorful oasis in Union Square wherein to find some DIY inspiration. The downstairs is devoted to woolens and dressmaking, while you’ll find suiting and denim upstairs, as well as a notions department, and upholstery fabric in back. Everyone who works here is helpful and knowledgeable, especially the Russian/Slavic lady who sometimes works the upholstery station and who’s not afraid to offer her opinions and guidance on your furniture recovering projects. Also, if you’re in the market for some crazy buttons to liven up an old coat, or a pair of serious, high-end scissors, this is the place to shop.
BEST USED KITCHEN SUPPLY STORE WE HOPE NEVER DIES
339 Divisadero St.
Functioning like a large and unruly flea market stall, with items for sale stacked and piled in every nook and corner, Cookin’ has been humbly serving the needs of home cooks, food stylists, and professional chefs for 37 years now. The vintage cookware emporium, stocked with the help of a small and loyal army of pickers, may not be long for this world depending on the ever-evolving mood of its curmudegonly owner, Judy Kaminsky. (She was complaining to the Chronicle seven years ago that she was sick of the “kids” who come in “with their laptops, don’t say hello, never buy anything, and just go home and Yelp about us.”) But for now you can still go in, and if you show some interest and respect, get some good advice on seasoning old cast iron pans, find a gorgeous vintage bundt pan, and buy yourself a lightly used Le Creuset Dutch oven. The prices aren’t bad, but generally marked up from the flea markets where most of this stuff came from. And you can feel satisfied that you’ve supported a quirky and unique local business that’s been keeping it real since 1981 — long before Divisadero became the new Valencia. Just please, please don’t pick things up at random and put them back somewhere that Judy doesn’t think they belong.
BEST REASONABLY PRICED HANDMADE JEWELRY
542 Hayes St., lava9.com
This small shop on Hayes Street’s bustling retail strip stands out among its neighbors as offering some high-fashion jewelry and leather goods without the crazy New San Francisco prices found at some of the newer boutiques nearby. Opened over 26 years ago, before Hayes Valley became anything like it is today, Lava 9 specializes in handmade metal work and baubles, much of it from American craftspeople, and priced well for gift giving that won’t kill your whole holiday season or birthday budget. Also, in an age of sameness and blind grasping at “luxury” brands, shops like this feel refreshingly homespun and down-to-earth.
BEST SHOP CAT
Owen of Aardvark Books
227 Church St., aardvark-books.com
Where too many landlords deprive tenants of fuzzy family members, Aardvark’s orange cat Owen comes along. Unlike the store’s previous cat, he adapted beautifully to the shop setting around eight years ago — and according to employee Rob Cahow, he’s very people-oriented. Since then, the kitty has developed a bit of a fan base, drawn to the store just to say hi. Like most cats, the 11-year-old mostly sleeps and rotates his usual spot from under a table to a new chair or behind the counter. The sounds of cars and the F-line usually keep him from darting out the door, but Cahow says it’s a real fight against Owen’s instincts when a pigeon is nearby.
BEST HIPSTER SHOE STORE
1420 Haight St., nicekicks.com
The former Shoe Biz on Haight is on new footing since merging with NiceKicks, an Austin, Tex., purveyor of sneakers for the athletically obsessed. NiceKicks skews toward sportswear much more than Shoe Biz did, but it’s a two-floor sneaker-head’s paradise with all of the latest signature athlete shoes, gear, and limited-release ballcaps. NiceKicks’ golden sneakers dangling from the ceiling are one of the city’s coolest retail interior displays to behold even if you’re not shopping for shoes, and with the NBA playoffs in full swing it’s a must-hit destination for fans who wish to be current on their Steph Curry and Kevin Durant fan gear.