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  • Best Comic Book Store

    Isotope Comic Book Lounge

    Nestled in the clean, budding center of Hayes Valley sits the Isotope Comic Book Lounge. Stylish and upbeat proprietor James Sime has created a welcoming and unique atmosphere (something between an upscale art gallery and Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory) complete with knowledgeable and helpful staff. The store's fresh selection largely features offbeat and independent fare, including titles like Rutu Modan's… More >>
  • Readers' Poll Winners

    Comic Book Store Isotope comic book lounge Best Massage The Barber Lounge Best Manicures/Pedicures The Barber Lounge Best Hair Salon Dekko Best Lingerie Store Alla Prima Best Men's Clothing Macy's Best Women's Clothing Ambiance Best Laundromat BrainWash Best Shoe Store Shoe Biz Best Jewelry Store Gallery of Jewels Best Furniture Store Propeller Best Antique Store Tie: X21 Modern and The Apartment Best Thrift Store Goodwill Best Pet Store Babies Best Veterinarian Mission Pet Hospital Best Green-Conscious Retailer Rainbow Grocery Best Video/DVD Rentals Le Video Best Place to Buy CDs Amoeba music Best Tech Store Central Computer Best Computer… More >>
  • Best Tintin Resource

    Kar'ikter

    Anyone who grew up thrilling to the adventures of boy globetrotter Tintin and his snarky fox terrier Snowy will delight in the doodads and curios offered at this emporium of primary-colored Euro-adolescent paraphernalia. Created by Belgian artist Hergé in 1929, Tintin starred in a series of hardbound comic books that took him from the Wild West to Scotland, Tibet, and… More >>
  • Best Children's Store

    Thursday's Child

    Shopping at Thursday's Child is like poking around in an overstuffed closet and finding one unexpected treasure after another. Every nook and cranny of this tiny, dimly lit basement-level kids' boutique is packed with stuff: toys, dolls, stuffed animals, myriad doodads and knickknacks, and, primarily, clothes. Unlike other children's clothing outlets in Cow Hollow (and practically everywhere else), Thursday's Child… More >>
  • Best Homemade Gifts

    Laku

    Upon entering this delicate store, the question of "homemade by who?" is quickly put to rest. For the owner, Yaeko Yamashita, is often seen with the tools of her trade in hand (ball of yarn, needles), fashioning new products between helping shoppers. Yamashita, a designer from Tokyo who opened the store in 1993, has a few specialties. Baby booties, for… More >>
  • Best Magic Shop

    The Sword and Rose

    This teeny gem of a specialty shop is bound to appeal to all sorts, from run-of-the-mill Harry Potter fans to neo-pagans who spell "magic" with a K. Even if you're not necessarily in search of an alembic for your own philosopher's stone or driftwood wands and other love-spell ephemera, the twining ivy and moth-eaten ambience of the Sword and Rose… More >>
  • Best Record Store

    Aquarius

    Before there was this whole digital music distribution stuff, there was Aquarius Records. The store has been around since 1970, and despite the crumbling of the bricks 'n' mortar CD shop industry, it has retained a loyal following of geeky music lovers over the years. Aquarius' niche has always been quality over quantity, so while you can't walk in there… More >>
  • Best Place to Smash an SFPD Car

    Piñata Art Studio & Gallery

    So you've always wanted to bash the hell out of a patrol car with a stick? Take your anarchic instincts to Piñata Art Studio & Gallery. The front window of this Excelsior treasure is filled with paper princesses, but the real charm is in the custom piñatas. Choose from a grinning monster head, a teal-Mohawked punk rocker in silver boots,… More >>
  • Best Place to Fill a Piñata

    Heartfelt

    Candy may be the traditional piñata stuffer, but Heartfelt has so many garish trinkets, alluring tchotchkes, cool gewgaws, and tiny toys that's it's hard to resist a low-priced, high-volume shopping spree before everyone beats the hell out of the next paper bull or superhero. The store has a constantly rotating collection of everything from super balls to rubber nuns to… More >>
  • Best Source for Glass Dildos

    Glass Dildo Me

    Why would you spend up to $300 on a sex toy made of glass from this new high-end boutique in the TenderNob? Because bacteria won't grow on it, it'll last forever, it's a cinch to clean, it can easily be heated in water or cooled in the fridge, and it can double as a suggestively shaped conversation piece when company… More >>
  • Best Folsom Street Fair Prep

    Mr. S Leather

    You can't say San Francisco falls into easy categories. On the one hand, you have Rainbow Grocery, with its vegan-friendly wonderland of dolphin-free, fair-trade goodness; just a few blocks away is Mr. S, a hallowed space devoted almost entirely to the allure of things made from dead cows. Plenty of local leather queens shop at both establishments without any thought… More >>
  • Best Striptease Lessons

    The Sacred Art of the Striptease

    In a go, go, go world that sometimes seems to be an endless treadmill of deadlines and bill paying, we can often forget that we're fundamentally sensual beings. If you've been denying that inner sexpot coiled inside you, try taking a class with the Sacred Art of the Striptease. Owner and instructor Diane Greenberg worked as a massage therapist for… More >>
  • Best Reason to Get an STD

    Magnet

    For the record, we're not huge fans of hanging out at STD clinics (though we hear it isn't a bad scene if you're into sloppy seconds). However! Unlike the farcically inefficient City Clinic with its weird ticketing system and Eastern Bloc decor, Magnet offers free testing that doesn't feel like symbolic retribution. First of all, the volunteers seem to understand… More >>
  • Best Pussy Tamers

    My Furry Friend

    Want to train your tabby so you can dress it in a funny outfit and entertain the neighbors like you're Siegfried or Roy? Call the trainers at My Furry Friend. All right, they prefer to be called cat behaviorists, and they won't teach kitty to growl or fetch the newspaper. But they can get your cat to stop avoiding the… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Pins Stuck in You

    American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine

    For certain ailments, it's best to hit up Western doctors and get their prescriptions for chalky pills. Other times, only a more holistic cure can help with what ails you. From depression to joint pain to the common cold, the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine offers remedies combining acupuncture and herbs. The Potrero Hill school turns you into a… More >>
  • Best Chiropractor

    Latch, So & Hwang Chiropractic

    And they said the only good crack in the 'Loin came from the corner hustler. The expert hands of the professional back crackers at Latch, So & Hwang will give your spine a much-needed shift to ease everything from sharp shooting pain to chronic headaches, tiredness, and achy tension. The Latches are a San Francisco pain-relief dynasty: Lloyd Latch started… More >>
  • Best Local Organic Skincare Line

    Juice Beauty

    If you're going organic with what you put inside your body, you might as well keep pesticides and chemicals away from your skin, too. The locally produced Juice Beauty products are as green as they get, using fresh-squeezed, organic juice as the base for creams and cleaners that won't harm your pretty little face. Everything from Juice Beauty's toners to… More >>
  • Best Fancy Spa-and-Yoga Combo

    International Orange

    Maybe it's not as revolutionary as when someone combined peanut butter with chocolate, but the union of spa and yoga is not as common as you may think. In San Francisco, International Orange in the Upper Fillmore is one of those not-so-easy-to-find places that offers both pampering and stretching. Most of the yoga schedule is geared toward all levels of… More >>
  • Best Cannabis Club

    The Vapor Room

    The name evokes the notorious Sunset Strip nightclub the Viper Room. Yet the Vapor Room is so named for championing the use of vaporizers to consume marijuana in a kinder, gentler way. The dispensary prides itself on its compassion services, which include complimentary massage sessions from a visiting therapist and advice from a guest nutritionist as well as providing immediate… More >>
  • Best Plant Nursery

    Sloat Garden Center

    Global warming ensures that it is not quite so unbearably foggy, cold, and desolate out by Sloat Garden Center's original location as it was nearly a half-century ago at its inception. But it's still just plain good sense to wear a layer or three out to this nursery, located near the Pacific Ocean and just across from the San Francisco… More >>
  • Best Way to Help the World from Your Desk

    Kiva

    On Kiva's Web site, a mere $25 contribution via PayPal or credit card into a microloan can help a cattle breeder to buy a new calf in Azerbaijan, or indigenous women in Mexico to invest in thread and dye to embroider textiles. Started by a Bay Area couple inspired by Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning pioneer of microcredit loans,… More >>
  • Best Store for Guilt-Free Handicrafts

    Global Exchange

    Each Laotian scarf, pair of Malian earrings, Indian block-print tablecloth, and bar of Bolivian chocolate has proudly come to this Noe Valley store via fair trade. Translation: They were made by artisans or farmers who received a living wage in a worker-owned co-op or farm where they have collective bargaining power. Global Exchange was cofounded in 1988 as an international… More >>
  • Best Fashionable But Not-Too-Snobby Hair Salon

    Urban Roots

    Dishing the gory details of your love life to your stylist usually makes exorbitantly priced cuts well worth the money — but talking over all the other clients' mindless chatter and the noisy salon equipment can be tough, so why not go somewhere where you can be the center of attention? Enter Lisa Holt, sole stylist and proprietor of Urban… More >>
  • Best Place for a Man to Get a Dyke Haircut

    Barberella Hair Lounge

    There's nothing wrong with straight guys who want to look like k.d. lang. After all, she has great hair and no shortage of girlfriends. In fact, dykes often end up with coifs hetero men would love to have, but it's just too awkward for them to approach a well-groomed lesbian hottie walking her pit bull in Bernal Heights and say,… More >>
  • Best Fish and Flower Shop

    6th Avenue Aquarium

    Part florist, part pet shop, this chaotic, cramped spot is lined with all kinds of fascinating aquatic creatures you never knew you wanted to take home. It is not unusual for kids to leave begging their parents for a pet dragon eel, Pacman frog, or Atlantic stingray. And the small flower shop at the front gives you a compelling idea… More >>
  • Best Literary Service for Slacker Parents

    SF Public Library Dial-a-Story

    So you're a careerist who got knocked up and now the dirty little attention freak won't go to bed without a story. We have a solution: Just dial the San Francisco Public Library and hand your pint-sized monster the phone. A comforting-sounding woman answers, and tells a three-minute-or-so story; one recent example was "Little Gorilla" by Ruth Borenstein. Honestly, we… More >>
  • Best Newsstand

    Smoke Signals

    Today, average edgy urban dwellers can hardly step out of their live/work spaces without tripping over a copy of L'Uomo Vogue or Flaunt. Ask them where to acquire amoral European gossip rags or troubled leaflets from the French-Canadian intelligentsia, however, and they're likely to, understandably, go blank. The answers they seek await them at Smoke Signals, an international newsstand that… More >>
  • Best Video Store

    Le Video

    The rise of Netflix has picked off plenty of mom-and-pop video stores. The laziness factor of getting movies delivered to your door even affects the most thoughtfully curated shops like Le Video, which, as its name suggests, is owned by an actual French proprietor. And while Netflix may have the quantity, Le Video has the heart. That isn't to say… More >>
  • Best Camera Store

    Adolph Gasser

    Yes, the shop's name is somewhat unfortunate and doesn't help at all with imagery, but Mr. Gasser didn't choose his name and it isn't his fault (unless, of course, he isn't actually a real person). The large, independent store is a worthwhile place to visit for camera concerns — it's also a place where the traditional isn't ostracized in favor… More >>
  • Best Online Views of S.F.

    MapJack

    MapJack is a little start-up company that has blanketed S.F., just like Google Earth, with a free, very fine service: streetside imagery. But unlike Google, MapJack offers pictures that are so clear and vibrant they'll make you want to turn off the computer and go outside. Like a glossy travel brochure or a trip to Fremont, the site reminds us… More >>
  • Best Mac Repair Shop

    PowerBook Guy

    When the time-released self-destruct mechanism built into all PowerBooks and iPods inevitably kicks in (typically about three to four hours after you simultaneously try to write a best-selling novel, watch high-definition pornography, lay down some beats on your digital sequencer, keep up with three online social networking Web sites, and send an instant message to your friend about what you're… More >>
  • Best Lighting & Knife- Sharpening Store

    Yuri's Lights and Beyond

    It's a great shop that offers its patrons the inexplicable. For instance, with Yuri's Lights and Beyond, you have a store where you can buy a lamp or get that fleamarket find completely refurbished and — through a referral — even installed. Or maybe you don't need a lamp, a light, or any decorative garnish for your nightstand. No, what… More >>
  • Best Interior Design Store

    Flipp

    Flipp was created for city folk who dwell in studios, in-law units, or cramped one-bedrooms. (The name is an acronym for Fashionable Living in Petite Places.) Owner Dan Kowalski stocks the sort of minimalist, one-of-a-kind pieces that don't demand an extra wing or a sprawling back forty: vases, blankets, lamps, accent pillows, wine glasses, ottomans, candles, and tabletop chests. That… More >>
  • Best Hand-Printed Fabrics

    Anne Kirk Textiles

    Top-quality craftsmanship is getting tougher to find. But if you're designing the interior of your home or business, and want that old-world look that you can get only with hand-printed fabrics, you're in luck. San Francisco is fortunate to have Anne Kirk Textiles, one of the last places in the country to design and silk-screen interior fabrics by hand. Kirk,… More >>
  • Best Vintage Furniture Deals

    X-21's basement - CLOSED

    Valencia Street is the easy choice for vintage furniture shopping — for all you high-income-tax bracketers with two grand to drop on bar stools. For those of us with antique tastes and thrift-store budgets, bargain tables and chairs are a little harder to find. Luckily, then, X-21 has a basement floor piled high with cool used items at prices that… More >>
  • Best Chair Restoration

    Ah Sam

    Thousands of torn, worn, rent, bent, fractured, mangled, or otherwise broken woven-cane chairs have enjoyed new lives since Ah Sam opened for business in Hang Ah Alley. The firm's long tradition of superb craftsmanship has been responsible for the hand-tooled rebirth of countless wicker armchairs, stools, and rockers from across the city. Once fixed, they tend to stay fixed. One… More >>
  • Best Epic Kitchen Vintage Supply Store

    Cookin'

    Cookin' is an overstuffed cookware anomaly. Filled with funky latte bowls, 1970s Time/Life cookbooks, vintage Le Creuset, and copper pots just like your mom used to use, this is a great place to rummage away an afternoon. Its cantankerous owner — a lady who spends a great deal of time fussing with her funny little dog or grouching about un-Cookin'-worthy… More >>
  • Best Espresso Machines

    Thomas E. Cara Ltd.

    Tucked away among the antique shops and prequake brick buildings of Jackson Square, Thomas E. Cara specializes in one thing and one thing only: gorgeous, shiny, imported contraptions absolutely devoted to the brewing of espresso. The business opened on Grant Avenue 62 years ago when World War II vet Thomas E. Cara arrived in San Francisco with the first espresso… More >>
  • Best Mix of Art and Clothing

    Brown Bear

    Lots of stores in the city have tried to master the elusive combination of modern art and vintage clothing. Most end up looking trashy on both counts: either the clothes or the art aren't good enough. Brown Bear has found the magic balance. Inside the store's Edwardian exterior, the space has a loftlike feel, and the artwork gets full exposure… More >>
  • Best Laundromat

    Fiesta Wash & Dry

    For Laundromat purists, Fiesta Wash & Dry has the best machines in the city. But it's also the number of machines that impress. The 45 washers can handle larger loads that cycle in quicker times. Once your clothes are done, there's no waiting around, because one of the 50 dryers is always ready for a soggy load. There's 24-hour service,… More >>
  • Best T-Shirt Shop

    Bang On

    There's a line from a movie you can't stop repeating. Or a girlfriend whose birthday gift you just can't figure out. Or a phone number you want broadcast for all to see. If any of these situations sound familiar, your prayers have been answered, thanks to Bang On. Originally started in Vancouver in 1999, the retro T-shirt company offers the… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store

    Out of the Closet

    At Out of the Closet's magenta-colored San Francisco locations, you can unearth the full range of secondhand clothing from "Wear to a job interview" to "Wear if you want to ensure you'll soon be needing a job interview." These aren't the only thrift stores in the city where you can walk in searching for Hush Puppies and leave with a… More >>
  • Best Vintage Clothing Store

    Schauplatz

    Tucked in a long narrow store along the Mission's main shopping corridor is a haven for top-quality vintage clothing that'll surely make you stand out from the crowd. Whether you're looking for a dress for a party, a cozy but stylish jacket to protect you from the chilly San Francisco wind, or a shirt for the office with an extra… More >>
  • Best Locally Designed Clothing

    Martha Egan

    San Francisco is packed with talented designers, but what makes Martha Egan's vintage-inspired clothing and accessories stand out are the amazing fabrics she uses. Whatever design you can think of — boldly patterned cottons, diaphanous silks, richly embroidered velvets — Egan likely has at least a yard or several tucked away in her store and studio. While she always has… More >>
  • Best Lingerie

    Dark Garden

    If you think corsets are synonymous with wispy Victorian waifs plagued with a proclivity for fainting, you obviously haven't been to Dark Garden. The couture retailer is the one-stop shop for your décolletage, but this ain't no frilly peekaboo shit. It specializes in custom-made corsets, and you can nab everything from dangerously sexy accoutrements for your trousseau to fetish fashion… More >>
  • Best Jewelry Store

    Claudia Kussano Jewelry Design

    If you are the kind of person who's irritated by people grabbing your hand at parties and cooing, "Where did you get that ring?" you should think twice before purchasing jewelry by Claudia Kussano. The Mission-based jeweler was trained as an artist in her native Brazil, which may explain the tactile, exotic appeal of her pieces. Certain biomorphic shapes repeat… More >>
  • Best Architectural Bookstore

    William Stout

    If you're an architect, designer, or a lover of all things architecture and design, you already know about this bookstore. But for the uninitiated, or at least the new to town, here's a place to add to your "gotta-go now" list. With both new and antiquarian books featuring the like of Gaudí, Le Corbusier, and Mies van der Rohe, William… More >>
  • Best Used Bookstore

    Adobe Book Shop

    Beneath the clutter, the disorganization, and the insane library of titles at Adobe, you'll find a highly sophisticated venue for artists, poets, musicians, and other jobless literates. Persian carpets underfoot and a delicious, moldy-aired sense of antiquity evoke the spirit of knowledge, and the various sections up and down the aisles will spark manic interest in such subjects as espionage,… More >>
  • Best Author Appearances

    The Booksmith

    When bookstores vanish, so do their author appearances, a point that was sadly hammered home in 2006 when A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books crapped out. City-bound authors, however, weren't out of luck, given that the Booksmith was ready and willing to add to its already stellar speaker series. The events at the independent store, which changed owners last year,… More >>
  • Best No-Brow Art Bookstore And Gallery

    Park Life

    Park Life is a quirky independent bookstore and gallery (and publisher, and gift store, andandand) in the Inner Richmond. All merchandise in this funky little store is carefully and lovingly chosen. From books on outsider artist Henry Darger, recent offerings from the likes of Barry McGee, Marcel Dzama, and Kota Ezawa, to Holga and fish-eye cameras and goofy David Shrigley… More >>
  • Best Place to Learn from (Sort of) Famous Artists

    Intersection for the Arts Intersection Institute

    Don't you wish you could go back to school? Art school, a writing program, or something creative? That would be great! You could finally get out some of those ... ideas, or whatever, that run through your head driving you crazy. It's sad, though — you don't have time. Gotta work. Gotta raise kids. Worse, nagging away at your brain… More >>
  • Best Cooking Class

    First Class Cooking

    If the last time you took a cooking class was during junior year home ec, it may be time to visit Emily Dellas. The self-taught foodie has spent the past four years teaching locals recipes from around the globe, all in the casual setting of her spacious Pacific Heights home. For a very reasonable fee, and with just a handful… More >>
  • Best Shoe Shine

    Dennis Franklin, aka Dr. D

    Don't let the sign fool you: "Warning: I have an attitude and I know how to use it." If Franklin's suggestive pointing at your leather shoes doesn't lure you into the chair, the Miles Davis or Cannonball Adderley streaming out of the two amps running off a car battery certainly will. Step up to the wicker lawn chair in front… More >>
  • Best Muni Line to Ride as an End in and of Itself

    The F-Line Trolley

    In as gay-friendly a city as San Francisco, it's only fitting that everyone has the chance to bellow the lyrics of a Judy Garland song: "Clang, clang, clang went the trolley!" The F-Line trolleys — which shuttle foreign tourists, domestic tourists, and the occasional local between Pier 39 and the Castro — aren't exactly rapid, but they are transit. The… More >>
  • Best Home-OfficeAlternative

    Citizen Space

    If you're one of the lucky bastards who get to work from home, or if you just constantly whine about how hard it is to meet people in San Francisco, we implore you to pay a visit to Citizen Space. This grassroots "co-working" community is a collaborative area in which freelancers, telecommuters, and independents can be superproductive while networking with… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Wood

    MacBeath Hardwood

    Non-woodworkers stand to get the most out of a visit to MacBeath Hardwood, because they're often unaware of the effect wood's aroma compounds can have on the mood. As you walk past the small white outbuilding that serves as a sales office into the warehouse containing many of the exotic woods MacBeath is famous for, your nerve receptors are overwhelmed… More >>
  • Best Divorce Kits

    Divorce Kits & Notary Public Service

    With this year's recession, more married people will become broke, stressed out, and easily annoyed. They'll fight, scheme, tire of each other, and lose hope. Pondering the next logical step, malcontent husbands and wives will encounter an ironic hurdle: the same poverty that caused them to want a divorce also made the lawyers, accountants, financial analysts, real estate appraisers, antique… More >>

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