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  • Best First Date

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

    For those baffled by the notion of the perfect first date, look no further than the Museum of Modern Art. Not as expensive or as much of a commitment as a dinner out, nor as impersonal as a movie, a trip to the MOMA can teach you a lot about a person as you whisper your way through the works of Richard Diebenkorn, Willem de Kooning, and Diego Rivera. If the vibe is right, romance can be as simple as... More >>

  • Best Gay Bar

    Twin Peaks Tavern

    For years, the young and the beautiful have poked fun at the venerable Twin Peaks bar. "The Glass Coffin," it's been dubbed, for the wraparound windows that allow a glimpse inside at the bar's patrons, gay men in their 50s, 60s, and beyond. While it has long been sport to snicker at the "pathetic" old men and their martinis, let's just consider who and what in the Castro is truly pathetic. What about the Detour, with its tired décor of... More >>

  • Best Place to Watch Straight Yuppie Women Act Like Lesbians for an Hour

    "Loöq Hard" at 111 Minna

    Something strange is going on at 111 Minna on the first Saturday of the month. During the progressive-house night known as "Loöq Hard," there are platinum blond, diet-starved women in black halter tops kissing each other. It used to be that Marina girls with names like Muffy and Heather would go to "Loöq Hard" to dance, and maybe, if they were feeling especially flirtatious (read: drunk), Muffy would do a mock bump-and-grind with Heather, in order to turn on Biff... More >>

  • Best San Francisco Movie

    Vertigo

    San Francisco's pastel charms and mysterious, fog-shrouded ambience have attracted filmmakers for generations, even before Erich von Stroheim shot Greed here in 1922, but few movies have captured the city's wraithlike spirit and impassive beauty as well as Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. A retired detective with a dizzying fear of heights becomes obsessed with a mysterious woman who is herself obsessed with the past: her spiritual forebear, a contessa who met a tragic end in San Francisco a century earlier. Splendid... More >>

  • Best Night of Jazz

    Monday, Jazz at Pearl's

    The hot and cool sounds that once kept North Beach and its Beatnik brethren bopping are practically nonexistent these days, but Pearl's is keeping the tradition alive with its regular schedule of live and lively jazz. On Monday nights at 8 p.m. the 19-piece Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, the only bebop big band in San Francisco, takes the stage and for the next six hours treats its lucky audience to the blissful sounds of classic, swingin', Diz-era jazz. Alex Budman leads... More >>

  • Best Contortionist

    La Candela, Teatro ZinZanni

    Midway through this cirque fantastique of pantomime, acrobatics, cabaret, and operetta, a graceful and bewitching creature appears in the spotlight and twists, undulates, curves, and coils her lithe and supple body into the most amazing shapes and configurations. She is La Candela the Contortionist, played by one Svetlana, a Russian dancer who has been studying this ancient art since she was a child. A graduate of the Kiev State Circus School, she has also performed at such European megavenues as... More >>

  • Best Transit Party

    Alameda/Oakland Ferry

    It's 5:20 Friday afternoon, you've just left your office in downtown San Francisco, and you are not looking forward to boarding the automaton-filled BART train back to the East Bay. Then suddenly you remember, it's the last Friday of the month, and it's time to party on the Alameda/Oakland Ferry! For the past four years, weary commuters have come together each month to chat, drink, nibble hors d'oeuvres, and enjoy the ad hoc ferry band made up of musically inclined... More >>

  • Best Place to Take a Chance on a Band You've Never Heard Of

    Hemlock Tavern

    What seemed at first to be a dicey proposition -- put a hipster bar in a neighborhood where few hipsters live -- has now proven to be gold. Since opening last October, the spacious Hemlock Tavern has become a beacon for jean-jacketed, bedheaded coolios who like to toss back a few drinks, eyeball each other's duds, and check out some great music by bands they've never heard of. Thanks to a very open-minded booking policy, the Hemlock's 55-person-capacity performance space... More >>

  • Best Cabaret

    Plush Room

    Any cabaret or jazz singer will tell you that today's San Francisco is as much a jazz-friendly town as the Haight-Ashbury is an affordable neighborhood for people with alternative lifestyles. Once one of the top live-music scenes in the country, San Francisco's jazz is now esoteric, but still alive thanks greatly to the support of one swank little venue called the Plush Room. With barely 130 seats and an attentive clientele, the intimate downtown spot gives local and national talents... More >>

  • Strangest Little Bar

    Heinold's First and Last Chance

    Heinold's First and Last Chance was originally built in 1880 from the belly of a whaling ship. After several years as a bunkhouse for local oyster fishermen, the tiny one-story building was bought and renovated by former deckhand John Heinold. The current bar looks much the way it did at the turn of the previous century. The saloon's wood floor tilts downward from the front and back walls at a 30-degree angle, while the bar itself slants enough that you're... More >>

  • Best Place to Wind Up a First Date

    Dalva

    Well, the movie or mellow dinner went well, and now you're ready to have that "getting to know you" conversation. You know, the one where she decides whether you listen well enough to see you again, and you weigh whether that peculiar laugh she has is endearing or annoying. But where? The back room at Dalva offers the perfect setting. One of the Mission's hippest watering holes, the narrow front room crams a sea of black-wearing patrons between the long... More >>

  • Best Place to Relive the 1970s

    Disco Roller Skaters

    Don't bother telling the Sunday regulars at John F. Kennedy Jr. Drive and Sixth Avenue in Golden Gate Park that disco's dead. Still carrying the torch for the 1970s roller-skating pastime, they're having way too much fun eight-wheeling it to hear you. (Then again it could be the boomboxes blaring "Rapper's Delight.") Like Haight-Ashbury nostalgia, but way more authentic, this tiny time capsule of sounds from Chic and Sister Sledge is still dy-no-mite. Watch the rainbow population have a blast... More >>

  • Most Soulful Young Jazz Artist

    Ledisi

    With a style that's as playful as it is soulful, a repertoire of catchy original tunes, a litany of fun facial expressions, and scat that is all that, Ledisi is our most commanding young local performer. The Orleans-born, Oakland-raised, opera-trained singer has shared the mike with Isaac Hayes, Jai Uttal, Alphabet Soup, and the Marcus Shelby Trio, has enlivened the city's acid jazz scene while performing with Slide 5, and continues to bring down the house with her R&B/ jazz/funk... More >>

  • Best Place to Cop a Feel

    Tactile Dome at the Exploratorium

    Like a tunnel of love with credibly educational overtones, the Tactile Dome will have you crawling, sliding, and climbing side by side with the object of your affection in complete and total darkness. Go ahead, reach out and grab something. The whole point of this fantastic 1971 exhibit is to reacquaint visitors with the remarkable and too often neglected sensation of touch. As you clamber through the maze, housed within a geodesic dome (or Bucky Ball, as we like to... More >>

  • Best Theme Bar

    The Owl Tree

    The past few years have seen a proliferation of sceney theme bars, from the chilly ski lodge décor of Sno-drift to the aquatic blues of Backflip. Such halfhearted attempts at Disney-fying the drinking experience are shamed by the truly obsessive theme of the Owl Tree, an old-school dive bar at the edge of the Tenderloin. More than a clever marketing gimmick, the Owl Tree's motif is the manifestation of a deep passion -- a passion for owls. Barn owls, snowy... More >>

  • Best Thursday Night

    Skylark

    We know there are many club choices on a Thursday night -- but how many offer a free cover; amazing DJs spinning deep house, Brazilian, and nu jazz; a dance floor; an eclectic crowd; and animated bartenders who concoct a mean drink for $5 or $6? Resident DJs Paul Craven, King Brit's Capitol A, David, and Tokyo imports Takeshi and Kazu keep the beat flowing until last call. The vibe is local -- no bridge-and-tunnelers here. Mission twenty- and thirtysomethings... More >>

  • Best Use of Trash

    The Sanitary Fill Co.

    Since its inception in 1990, the artist-in-residency program at the Sanitary Fill Co. (otherwise known as the city dump) has been putting S.F.'s garbage to good use. The highly competitive program grants selected artists carte blanche access to the dump's treasure troves, plus much-needed studio space where they can turn rubbish normally sent to landfills or recycling plants into works of art. Run by Paul Fresina, the program encourages recycling and resource conservation: Fresina himself has salvaged glass panels from... More >>

  • Best Place to Get Stoned

    The Crucible

    Some say stone carving is a dying art, but you couldn't tell at the Crucible, the educational foundry and arts facility where experienced practitioners and novices can master the tricks of various trades, learning everything from how to get around a machine shop to welding metal, forging steel, blowing glass, and crafting neon sculptures. One of the only places in the Bay Area to learn stone carving and the fiery arts of blacksmithing and welding, the rambling East Bay warehouse... More >>

  • Best Museum

    California Academy of Sciences

    The well-curated SFMOMA and the wondrous Exploratorium were stiff competition, but the choice for best museum in San Francisco goes to the underrated California Academy of Sciences -- actually three museums in one: the Natural History Museum, Steinhart Aquarium, and Morrison Planetarium. Like MOMA's, the academy's creative and lucid exhibits can be visually stunning (for example, the current "Skulls" show, a room filled with thousands of skulls, from elephant to shrew; the vivid palettes of sea life; or the glorious... More >>

  • Best Bar Manager

    Nic Janes, Redwood Room

    How does one manage to keep his cool when stars like Moby, Monica Lewinsky, and Barry Bonds pull up a stool at your bar, alongside some of the hippest cats in the city? Maintaining equality and enjoyment for all guests is what Nic Janes does better than anyone. Formerly with the Kimpton Group Hotels, he turned Ponzu into a nightlife destination. Then cutting-edge hotelier Ian Schrager grabbed Janes to run the revamped Redwood Room. Janes has preserved the Schrager quality... More >>

  • Best Tour of the Bay

    Bulletproof Boat Party

    Your parents have dropped in for a surprise visit, and they want to see what the bay looks like from the water, say from one of those tour boats. Luckily, you planned ahead: You bought extra tickets for the Bulletproof Boat Party just in case someone wanted them. (The party is held four or fives times a year, mainly in the warm months, and is co-sponsored by the Bulletproof clothing shop in the Lower Haight.) Of course, your parents aren't... More >>

  • Best Underground Loft Party

    41 Powell (at Market), no phone

    For those lucky few in the know, this late-night loft party begins at 2 a.m. and goes until the wee hours of afternoon. Unlike most loft parties here in the city, this isn't located in SOMA or Potrero Hill but in the bustling heart of the city -- to be more specific, above Burger King at the Powell cable car turnaround. Run by Natasha, Queen of the Morning, you never know who you will be dancing beside, or sitting on... More >>

  • Best Piano Bar

    Martuni's

    If everything old is new again, then Martuni's may once again be considered cutting-edge. Considered the anti-karaoke bar, Martuni's has become a playful spot for San Francisco's moderately to extraordinarily talented singers to show off their chops among friends. If you've ever imagined what Cheers would be like set to music, Martuni's is a must-visit. The music is mellow, the musicians take all requests (generally classic jazz and show tunes), and anyone with a good ear and a decent voice... More >>

  • Best TV Commercial

    Bad Boys Bail Bonds

    A main staple between episodes of Jerry Springer and Divorce Court is an amazing series of commercials targeting today's career criminals. The ads have a delicious offensiveness (although we're still not sure if it's on purpose) packed into every second of airtime. Their main character is a linebacker-size man in a woman's housedress, curlers, and fuzzy slippers, who, from behind an ironing board, pleads in falsetto for viewers to seek help from their local bail bondsmen. He/she has made the... More >>

  • Best Outrageous TV Lifestyle

    Dee-Dee TV

    Hands down, Dee-Dee Russell, hostess of the cable public access show Dee-Dee TV, gets our vote for the most outrageous personality in the Bay Area. Standing center stage, wrapped like an abstract painting in several multicolored feather boas, a rubber-looking bodice, and fishnet hose, surrounded by "freaky-daddies" (Dee-Dee's term for extreme undercover freaks who look normal -- "like Woody Allen or any politician") and oodles of props, Dee-Dee razzle-dazzles audiences with her contagiously radical yet thought-provoking comedy. Her show features... More >>

  • Best Local Indie Pop Artist You've Probably Never Heard

    Golden Gram

    Gram LeBron moved from his native Houston to the East Bay in early 1999. In Bushland, he'd been one of the principals in a band called Schrasj, which made the kind of stretched and spacey pop that sounded like freedom alongside the highway strip, and featured his ex-wife, Terri Loewenthal (now in Call and Response). When he arrived in Oakland, however, he took to recording a batch of songs he'd written while driving cross-country -- shorter, poppier, more wide-ranging tunes... More >>

  • Best Local Cartoonist in Need of His Own Animated Show

    Steven Weissman

    Following the triumphant release of last year's Ghost World film, Dan Clowes became the cartoonist with the highest profile in the Bay Area -- even besting that of R. Crumb, who still casts a lengthy shadow from his current home in France. But there's another local brushman who deserves some overdue recognition, if not his very own kids' show: Steven "Ribs" Weissman. The cartoon world has known about Weissman for a while, with the underground-touting Harvey Awards tapping him as... More >>

  • Best Place to Go Dancing for $5 on a Friday Night

    "Joyride" at 26 Mix

    Bay Area veteran DJs O-Dub and Vinnie Esparza spin dance-ready hip hop, vintage reggae, dancehall, Latin, and funk every second Friday of the month at 26 Mix. The DJs' seamless mix of both obscure records and old-school hits on the club's suspended turntables gets even the most determined wallflower onto the dance floor. But most of the diverse and un-yuppified crowd takes quickly to the music; there's always someone to dance with, yet always enough room to groove. And as... More >>

  • Best Marina Outpost in the Mission

    Blondie's Bar & No Grill

    Of all San Francisco's neighborhoods, the Mission boasts the scene that's hardest to define. Bars up and down the vibrant Valencia strip on a Saturday night boast mellow vibes, dim lighting, and diverse clienteles. And then there's Blondie's, which has somehow evolved into a portal to Chestnut Street, where everyone is blond and guzzling one of way-too-many precious martini varieties. If you happen to wander in, there's no point in wondering where all these Marina types came from. Just enjoy... More >>

  • Best Place to Drink Away a Sunday

    Zeitgeist

    On a Sunday afternoon, there is no mellower place to be in San Francisco than the courtyard at Zeitgeist. Hidden behind a somehow foreboding purple exterior on a block not quite in the Mission or the Castro, an eclectic mix of hipsters, bikers, and weekend warriors mingles among rows of picnic tables, passing around pitchers of beer, joints, and, occasionally, a damn good string-bean-garnished Bloody Mary. One of the city's best jukeboxes blasts a selection of tunes that's as mixed... More >>

  • Best Place to Catch Sexy Dancing

    "Cafe Flamenco"

    Once a month, the Mission catches fire. At ODC Theater, a crowd spills out onto the street waiting to see Yaelisa and Caminos Flamencos burn up the stage. Once the crowd settles inside the dimly lit room, tiny, busty Rina Orellana Rall, a Caminos Flamencos dancer, flips her ruffled skirt, kicking her heels to the floor faster than the audience's eyes can follow. Elegant Juliana Drecshel and striking Liza Thomson stride forcefully onto the stage for a group dance. Yaelisa... More >>

  • Best Way to Get Dizzy Downtown (Alcoholic Category)

    The 711 Club

    Far from the fern-and-redwood aura of the Financial District's hotel bars, the 711 Club is one of the few watering holes on downtown Market Street with genuine character. Darkly lit and seemingly dreary at first, the décor quickly reveals plenty of small pleasures. The walls feature large images of nude women in bas-relief; there's an old (or rather, vintage) tabletop Pac-Man game and, most touchingly, a pathetic little painting of a clown with a butterfly sitting on his nose, which... More >>

  • Best Way to Get Dizzy Downtown (Nonalcoholic Category)

    Yerba Buena Gardens Carousel

    For something that goes around in circles, the magnificent, brass-poled carousel in Yerba Buena Gardens did a lot of traveling. Made in Rhode Island in 1906 and installed in San Francisco, the whirligig later moved to Seattle, came back here in 1912 for a lengthy residence at the old Playland-at-the-Beach, moved to Long Beach in 1982, and finally came back to the city in 1998. And the horses still look chipper and spirited. Though it apparently moves a little too... More >>

  • Best Neighborhood Newspaper

    San Francisco Call

    A self-described "Bay Area blend of the New Yorker and the Nation," the San Francisco Call is the brainchild of Betsey Culp, who's trying to bring a little class to the often-shrill world of local political commentary. Launched in 2000 and taking its name from a defunct daily, the Call weighs in each week with essays on local politics, reports from community meetings, and assorted musings about city life. At a scant eight pages a week, it isn't yet the... More >>

  • Best Thing About the San Francisco Examiner

    The New York Times Crossword Puzzle

    We're not trying to be backhanded here -- crosswords are an important part of a daily newspaper. Well, OK, fine, we're being backhanded, but crosswords are still an important part of a daily newspaper. And the only reason to pick up the pointless Chronicle PM -- the same damn Chron you read in the morning, just with more articles from the wires -- used to be its inclusion of the famed Times crossword, a witty tonic to the pair of... More >>

  • Best Place to Watch Hipsters Take a Spill

    The Entry Stairs at Cafe Du Nord

    The cozy basement feel of the Castro's Cafe Du Nord accounts for much of this music venue's appeal. But with every tucked-away underground lounge comes a stairway down to that underground lounge, and that's where navigating Du Nord gets dicey. To witness the phenomenon yourself, just grab a seat near the door and watch as hipster after hipster, gaily re-entering from a smoke break, fails to negotiate those last few steps, slips, and flops to a shameful thud among the... More >>

  • Best Grungy Art Factory

    Artists' Television Access

    In the punkish 1970s, this small storefront art gallery was known not for its art, but as a shooting gallery (as in heroin, speed, sex) serving Valencia Street degenerates. When anarcho-artists took over the space nearly two decades ago, they stuffed thousands of used needles behind the wallboard and then dedicated the space to making alternative television and political art. In the early 1990s, ATA became a center of radical anti-war art and anarcho-communist agitation against what ATA-ites saw as... More >>

  • Best New Radio Show

    Working Assets Radio

    Perhaps it's not surprising that Working Assets Radio would have to reach far outside Northern California to find a daily talk show host who could voice a steady leftist line without stumbling into clinical irrelevance. On a new daily talk show scheduled against KQED's Michael Krasny, preciously British-accented Laura Flanders has found a snug-fitting San Francisco shtick as the quirky European Leftist Who Knows How. While Flanders isn't the skilled interviewer Krasny is, her patter never fails to include the... More >>

  • Best Old Radio Show

    "T.O." Ted Dively

    While Laura Flanders' quirky brand of radio chatter can be satiating, there are moments when the appetite is best served by the aural equivalent of buttered toast -- familiar, savory, unadorned, college-style radio. Lucky listeners feel this urge Wednesday mornings and listen to "T.O." Ted Dively, a 21-year college radio veteran who occasionally plays exotic interludes of records made by 1950s screaming professional wrestlers, but more often fills the waves with a template of college radio fare: jazz, funk, synth,... More >>

  • Best Pickup Spot for HAL 9000

    "Synth Modular" Nightclub

    This is the nightclub where androids come to dance and computers come to dream. For over a year, the folks at Form8 have provided a forum for emerging artists who revel in the synthetic -- everything from laptop punk to lo-fi experimental techno, from analog dub to galaxy-stretching new wave -- but it's only recently that the artists have really gotten as good as the concept. Local mainframes like Kid 606, Blectum From Blechdom, and Memory Systems ("Synth"'s new-wave house... More >>

  • Best Nonprofessional Reading Series

    "Bored Collective" at 26 Mix

    People in the dance-music community tend to be a boisterous lot. They like to drink, they like to snort, they like to get in all sorts of trouble staying up past dawn. Thanks to the "Bored Collective," you can hear about such activities. Begun by local scribes Amanda Nowinski and Billie Sharp a year ago, the now-quarterly event started as a way for fans, writers, DJs, and musicians to get off the dance floor and in front of the mike.... More >>

  • Best Reason to Celebrate the End of the Universe

    Club Townsend Closing Party

    It may be the end of an era, but club kids, circuit boys, and their friends will certainly still celebrate the closing of this late-night landmark, known internationally for its Saturday event, "Club Universe." The lease is up, and it's time to move on in the name of SOMA progress. To mark the occasion, the staff is bringing back the best talent from the last 10 years. Some scheduled performers include Motörhead, Cyndi Lauper, CeCe Peniston, and Dead or Alive.... More >>

  • Seven Stops on a North Beach Pub Crawl

    North Beach has been the center of San Francisco's rambunctious nightlife ever since the Gold Rush days, and today several excellent neighborhood saloons uphold this venerable tradition. Some offer live music, some serve food, many are boisterous, and a few are merely moody, but each one reverberates to its own particular beat. Covering all of them in one night is probably inadvisable, so we've narrowed it down to seven. San Francisco Brewing Company 155 Columbus (at Pacific), 434-3344, www.sfbrewing.com Begin... More >>

  • Four Best Bars With a View

    The only thing more beautiful than a beautiful panorama is a beautiful panorama with a cocktail in the foreground, and San Francisco has plenty of both. The town's lousy with gorgeous views: Between the hills, the bay, the ocean, and the surrounding mountains, valleys, and inlets, unforgettable vistas are practically an inevitability. Some of the best vantage points have been purchased, sheltered, and equipped with a bartender; four of these scenically subsidized saloons are mentioned below. Carnelian Room Bank of... More >>

  • Three Best Ways to Dance Away a Beautiful Sunday

    Dancing outside on Sundays may have begun as a continuation of Saturday evening's revelry, but that's not the only way to enjoy these popular weekend parties. It might be an even better idea to show up freshly showered and well-rested, so you can enjoy the fresh air and warm weather and keep your feet moving till long after the sun goes down. Endup "T-Dance" 401 Sixth St. (at Harrison), 357-0827, www.theendup.com This 28-year-old S.F. institution is still the best place... More >>

  • Arts & Entertainment Readers' Poll

    Best Movie Theater Castro Best Rep Film House Castro Most Inventive Movie Theater Programming Red Vic Best Movie Theater Menu Metreon Best Local Band/Artist None Best Local Live Theater Space None Best Local Theater Company San Francisco Shakespeare Festival Best Local Theater Production This Year Free Shakespeare in the Park (S.F. Shakespeare Festival) Best Local Dance CompanyODC Best Art Museum SFMOMA Best Street Mural Women’s Building Best Gay Bar (tie) Cinch; The Stud Best Lesbian Bar Lexington Best Pickup Scene... More >>

  • Best First Date

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

    For those baffled by the notion of the perfect first date, look no further than the Museum of Modern Art. Not as expensive or as much of a commitment as a dinner out, nor as impersonal as a movie, a trip to the MOMA can teach you a lot about a person as you whisper your way through the works of Richard Diebenkorn, Willem de Kooning, and Diego Rivera. If the vibe is right, romance can be as simple as... More >>

  • Best Gay Bar

    Twin Peaks Tavern

    For years, the young and the beautiful have poked fun at the venerable Twin Peaks bar. "The Glass Coffin," it's been dubbed, for the wraparound windows that allow a glimpse inside at the bar's patrons, gay men in their 50s, 60s, and beyond. While it has long been sport to snicker at the "pathetic" old men and their martinis, let's just consider who and what in the Castro is truly pathetic. What about the Detour, with its tired décor of... More >>

  • Best Place to Watch Straight Yuppie Women Act Like Lesbians for an Hour

    111 Minna Gallery

    Something strange is going on at 111 Minna on the first Saturday of the month. During the progressive-house night known as "Loöq Hard," there are platinum blond, diet-starved women in black halter tops kissing each other. It used to be that Marina girls with names like Muffy and Heather would go to "Loöq Hard" to dance, and maybe, if they were feeling especially flirtatious (read: drunk), Muffy would do a mock bump-and-grind with Heather, in order to turn on Biff... More >>

  • Best San Francisco Movie

    Vertigo

    San Francisco's pastel charms and mysterious, fog-shrouded ambience have attracted filmmakers for generations, even before Erich von Stroheim shot Greed here in 1922, but few movies have captured the city's wraithlike spirit and impassive beauty as well as Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. A retired detective with a dizzying fear of heights becomes obsessed with a mysterious woman who is herself obsessed with the past: her spiritual forebear, a contessa who met a tragic end in San Francisco a century earlier. Splendid... More >>

  • Best Night of Jazz

    Monday, Jazz at Pearl's

    The hot and cool sounds that once kept North Beach and its Beatnik brethren bopping are practically nonexistent these days, but Pearl's is keeping the tradition alive with its regular schedule of live and lively jazz. On Monday nights at 8 p.m. the 19-piece Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, the only bebop big band in San Francisco, takes the stage and for the next six hours treats its lucky audience to the blissful sounds of classic, swingin', Diz-era jazz. Alex Budman leads... More >>

  • Best Contortionist

    La Candela, Teatro ZinZanni

    Midway through this cirque fantastique of pantomime, acrobatics, cabaret, and operetta, a graceful and bewitching creature appears in the spotlight and twists, undulates, curves, and coils her lithe and supple body into the most amazing shapes and configurations. She is La Candela the Contortionist, played by one Svetlana, a Russian dancer who has been studying this ancient art since she was a child. A graduate of the Kiev State Circus School, she has also performed at such European megavenues as... More >>

  • Best Transit Party

    Alameda/Oakland Ferry

    It's 5:20 Friday afternoon, you've just left your office in downtown San Francisco, and you are not looking forward to boarding the automaton-filled BART train back to the East Bay. Then suddenly you remember, it's the last Friday of the month, and it's time to party on the Alameda/Oakland Ferry! For the past four years, weary commuters have come together each month to chat, drink, nibble hors d'oeuvres, and enjoy the ad hoc ferry band made up of musically inclined... More >>

  • Best Place to Take a Chance on a Band You've Never Heard Of

    Hemlock Tavern

    What seemed at first to be a dicey proposition -- put a hipster bar in a neighborhood where few hipsters live -- has now proven to be gold. Since opening last October, the spacious Hemlock Tavern has become a beacon for jean-jacketed, bedheaded coolios who like to toss back a few drinks, eyeball each other's duds, and check out some great music by bands they've never heard of. Thanks to a very open-minded booking policy, the Hemlock's 55-person-capacity performance space... More >>

  • Best Cabaret

    Plush Room

    Any cabaret or jazz singer will tell you that today's San Francisco is as much a jazz-friendly town as the Haight-Ashbury is an affordable neighborhood for people with alternative lifestyles. Once one of the top live-music scenes in the country, San Francisco's jazz is now esoteric, but still alive thanks greatly to the support of one swank little venue called the Plush Room. With barely 130 seats and an attentive clientele, the intimate downtown spot gives local and national talents... More >>

  • Strangest Little Bar

    Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon

    Heinold's First and Last Chance was originally built in 1880 from the belly of a whaling ship. After several years as a bunkhouse for local oyster fishermen, the tiny one-story building was bought and renovated by former deckhand John Heinold. The current bar looks much the way it did at the turn of the previous century. The saloon's wood floor tilts downward from the front and back walls at a 30-degree angle, while the bar itself slants enough that you're... More >>

  • Best Place to Wind Up a First Date

    Dalva

    Well, the movie or mellow dinner went well, and now you're ready to have that "getting to know you" conversation. You know, the one where she decides whether you listen well enough to see you again, and you weigh whether that peculiar laugh she has is endearing or annoying. But where? The back room at Dalva offers the perfect setting. One of the Mission's hippest watering holes, the narrow front room crams a sea of black-wearing patrons between the long... More >>

  • Best Place to Relive the 1970s

    Disco Roller Skaters

    Don't bother telling the Sunday regulars at John F. Kennedy Jr. Drive and Sixth Avenue in Golden Gate Park that disco's dead. Still carrying the torch for the 1970s roller-skating pastime, they're having way too much fun eight-wheeling it to hear you. (Then again it could be the boomboxes blaring "Rapper's Delight.") Like Haight-Ashbury nostalgia, but way more authentic, this tiny time capsule of sounds from Chic and Sister Sledge is still dy-no-mite. Watch the rainbow population have a blast... More >>

  • Most Soulful Young Jazz Artist

    Ledisi

    With a style that's as playful as it is soulful, a repertoire of catchy original tunes, a litany of fun facial expressions, and scat that is all that, Ledisi is our most commanding young local performer. The Orleans-born, Oakland-raised, opera-trained singer has shared the mike with Isaac Hayes, Jai Uttal, Alphabet Soup, and the Marcus Shelby Trio, has enlivened the city's acid jazz scene while performing with Slide 5, and continues to bring down the house with her R&B/ jazz/funk... More >>

  • Best Place to Cop a Feel

    Exploratorium

    Like a tunnel of love with credibly educational overtones, the Tactile Dome will have you crawling, sliding, and climbing side by side with the object of your affection in complete and total darkness. Go ahead, reach out and grab something. The whole point of this fantastic 1971 exhibit is to reacquaint visitors with the remarkable and too often neglected sensation of touch. As you clamber through the maze, housed within a geodesic dome (or Bucky Ball, as we like to... More >>

  • Best Theme Bar

    Owl Tree

    The past few years have seen a proliferation of sceney theme bars, from the chilly ski lodge décor of Sno-drift to the aquatic blues of Backflip. Such halfhearted attempts at Disney-fying the drinking experience are shamed by the truly obsessive theme of the Owl Tree, an old-school dive bar at the edge of the Tenderloin. More than a clever marketing gimmick, the Owl Tree's motif is the manifestation of a deep passion -- a passion for owls. Barn owls, snowy... More >>

  • Best Thursday Night

    Skylark Bar

    We know there are many club choices on a Thursday night -- but how many offer a free cover; amazing DJs spinning deep house, Brazilian, and nu jazz; a dance floor; an eclectic crowd; and animated bartenders who concoct a mean drink for $5 or $6? Resident DJs Paul Craven, King Brit's Capitol A, David, and Tokyo imports Takeshi and Kazu keep the beat flowing until last call. The vibe is local -- no bridge-and-tunnelers here. Mission twenty- and thirtysomethings... More >>

  • Best Use of Trash

    The Sanitary Fill Co.

    Since its inception in 1990, the artist-in-residency program at the Sanitary Fill Co. (otherwise known as the city dump) has been putting S.F.'s garbage to good use. The highly competitive program grants selected artists carte blanche access to the dump's treasure troves, plus much-needed studio space where they can turn rubbish normally sent to landfills or recycling plants into works of art. Run by Paul Fresina, the program encourages recycling and resource conservation: Fresina himself has salvaged glass panels from... More >>

  • Best Place to Get Stoned

    The Crucible

    Some say stone carving is a dying art, but you couldn't tell at the Crucible, the educational foundry and arts facility where experienced practitioners and novices can master the tricks of various trades, learning everything from how to get around a machine shop to welding metal, forging steel, blowing glass, and crafting neon sculptures. One of the only places in the Bay Area to learn stone carving and the fiery arts of blacksmithing and welding, the rambling East Bay warehouse... More >>

  • Best Museum

    California Academy of Sciences

    The well-curated SFMOMA and the wondrous Exploratorium were stiff competition, but the choice for best museum in San Francisco goes to the underrated California Academy of Sciences -- actually three museums in one: the Natural History Museum, Steinhart Aquarium, and Morrison Planetarium. Like MOMA's, the academy's creative and lucid exhibits can be visually stunning (for example, the current "Skulls" show, a room filled with thousands of skulls, from elephant to shrew; the vivid palettes of sea life; or the glorious... More >>

  • Best Bar Manager

    Nic Janes, Redwood Room

    How does one manage to keep his cool when stars like Moby, Monica Lewinsky, and Barry Bonds pull up a stool at your bar, alongside some of the hippest cats in the city? Maintaining equality and enjoyment for all guests is what Nic Janes does better than anyone. Formerly with the Kimpton Group Hotels, he turned Ponzu into a nightlife destination. Then cutting-edge hotelier Ian Schrager grabbed Janes to run the revamped Redwood Room. Janes has preserved the Schrager quality... More >>

  • Best Tour of the Bay

    Bulletproof Boat Party

    Your parents have dropped in for a surprise visit, and they want to see what the bay looks like from the water, say from one of those tour boats. Luckily, you planned ahead: You bought extra tickets for the Bulletproof Boat Party just in case someone wanted them. (The party is held four or fives times a year, mainly in the warm months, and is co-sponsored by the Bulletproof clothing shop in the Lower Haight.) Of course, your parents aren't... More >>

  • Best Underground Loft Party

    41 Powell (at Market), no phone

    For those lucky few in the know, this late-night loft party begins at 2 a.m. and goes until the wee hours of afternoon. Unlike most loft parties here in the city, this isn't located in SOMA or Potrero Hill but in the bustling heart of the city -- to be more specific, above Burger King at the Powell cable car turnaround. Run by Natasha, Queen of the Morning, you never know who you will be dancing beside, or sitting on... More >>

  • Best Piano Bar

    Martuni's

    If everything old is new again, then Martuni's may once again be considered cutting-edge. Considered the anti-karaoke bar, Martuni's has become a playful spot for San Francisco's moderately to extraordinarily talented singers to show off their chops among friends. If you've ever imagined what Cheers would be like set to music, Martuni's is a must-visit. The music is mellow, the musicians take all requests (generally classic jazz and show tunes), and anyone with a good ear and a decent voice... More >>

  • Best TV Commercial

    Bad Boys Bail Bonds

    A main staple between episodes of Jerry Springer and Divorce Court is an amazing series of commercials targeting today's career criminals. The ads have a delicious offensiveness (although we're still not sure if it's on purpose) packed into every second of airtime. Their main character is a linebacker-size man in a woman's housedress, curlers, and fuzzy slippers, who, from behind an ironing board, pleads in falsetto for viewers to seek help from their local bail bondsmen. He/she has made the... More >>

  • Best Outrageous TV Lifestyle

    Dee-Dee TV

    Hands down, Dee-Dee Russell, hostess of the cable public access show Dee-Dee TV, gets our vote for the most outrageous personality in the Bay Area. Standing center stage, wrapped like an abstract painting in several multicolored feather boas, a rubber-looking bodice, and fishnet hose, surrounded by "freaky-daddies" (Dee-Dee's term for extreme undercover freaks who look normal -- "like Woody Allen or any politician") and oodles of props, Dee-Dee razzle-dazzles audiences with her contagiously radical yet thought-provoking comedy. Her show features... More >>

  • Best Local Indie Pop Artist You've Probably Never Heard

    Golden Gram

    Gram LeBron moved from his native Houston to the East Bay in early 1999. In Bushland, he'd been one of the principals in a band called Schrasj, which made the kind of stretched and spacey pop that sounded like freedom alongside the highway strip, and featured his ex-wife, Terri Loewenthal (now in Call and Response). When he arrived in Oakland, however, he took to recording a batch of songs he'd written while driving cross-country -- shorter, poppier, more wide-ranging tunes... More >>

  • Best Local Cartoonist in Need of His Own Animated Show

    Steven Weissman

    Following the triumphant release of last year's Ghost World film, Dan Clowes became the cartoonist with the highest profile in the Bay Area -- even besting that of R. Crumb, who still casts a lengthy shadow from his current home in France. But there's another local brushman who deserves some overdue recognition, if not his very own kids' show: Steven "Ribs" Weissman. The cartoon world has known about Weissman for a while, with the underground-touting Harvey Awards tapping him as... More >>

  • Best Place to Go Dancing for $5 on a Friday Night

    26 Mix

    Bay Area veteran DJs O-Dub and Vinnie Esparza spin dance-ready hip hop, vintage reggae, dancehall, Latin, and funk every second Friday of the month at 26 Mix. The DJs' seamless mix of both obscure records and old-school hits on the club's suspended turntables gets even the most determined wallflower onto the dance floor. But most of the diverse and un-yuppified crowd takes quickly to the music; there's always someone to dance with, yet always enough room to groove. And as... More >>

  • Best Marina Outpost in the Mission

    Blondie's Bar & No Grill

    Of all San Francisco's neighborhoods, the Mission boasts the scene that's hardest to define. Bars up and down the vibrant Valencia strip on a Saturday night boast mellow vibes, dim lighting, and diverse clienteles. And then there's Blondie's, which has somehow evolved into a portal to Chestnut Street, where everyone is blond and guzzling one of way-too-many precious martini varieties. If you happen to wander in, there's no point in wondering where all these Marina types came from. Just enjoy... More >>

  • Best Place to Drink Away a Sunday

    Zeitgeist

    On a Sunday afternoon, there is no mellower place to be in San Francisco than the courtyard at Zeitgeist. Hidden behind a somehow foreboding purple exterior on a block not quite in the Mission or the Castro, an eclectic mix of hipsters, bikers, and weekend warriors mingles among rows of picnic tables, passing around pitchers of beer, joints, and, occasionally, a damn good string-bean-garnished Bloody Mary. One of the city's best jukeboxes blasts a selection of tunes that's as mixed... More >>

  • Best Place to Catch Sexy Dancing

    "Cafe Flamenco"

    Once a month, the Mission catches fire. At ODC Theater, a crowd spills out onto the street waiting to see Yaelisa and Caminos Flamencos burn up the stage. Once the crowd settles inside the dimly lit room, tiny, busty Rina Orellana Rall, a Caminos Flamencos dancer, flips her ruffled skirt, kicking her heels to the floor faster than the audience's eyes can follow. Elegant Juliana Drecshel and striking Liza Thomson stride forcefully onto the stage for a group dance. Yaelisa... More >>

  • Best Way to Get Dizzy Downtown (Alcoholic Category)

    The 711 Club

    Far from the fern-and-redwood aura of the Financial District's hotel bars, the 711 Club is one of the few watering holes on downtown Market Street with genuine character. Darkly lit and seemingly dreary at first, the décor quickly reveals plenty of small pleasures. The walls feature large images of nude women in bas-relief; there's an old (or rather, vintage) tabletop Pac-Man game and, most touchingly, a pathetic little painting of a clown with a butterfly sitting on his nose, which... More >>

  • Best Way to Get Dizzy Downtown (Nonalcoholic Category)

    Yerba Buena Gardens Carousel

    For something that goes around in circles, the magnificent, brass-poled carousel in Yerba Buena Gardens did a lot of traveling. Made in Rhode Island in 1906 and installed in San Francisco, the whirligig later moved to Seattle, came back here in 1912 for a lengthy residence at the old Playland-at-the-Beach, moved to Long Beach in 1982, and finally came back to the city in 1998. And the horses still look chipper and spirited. Though it apparently moves a little too... More >>

  • Best Neighborhood Newspaper

    San Francisco Call

    A self-described "Bay Area blend of the New Yorker and the Nation," the San Francisco Call is the brainchild of Betsey Culp, who's trying to bring a little class to the often-shrill world of local political commentary. Launched in 2000 and taking its name from a defunct daily, the Call weighs in each week with essays on local politics, reports from community meetings, and assorted musings about city life. At a scant eight pages a week, it isn't yet the... More >>

  • Best Thing About the San Francisco Examiner

    The New York Times Crossword Puzzle

    We're not trying to be backhanded here -- crosswords are an important part of a daily newspaper. Well, OK, fine, we're being backhanded, but crosswords are still an important part of a daily newspaper. And the only reason to pick up the pointless Chronicle PM -- the same damn Chron you read in the morning, just with more articles from the wires -- used to be its inclusion of the famed Times crossword, a witty tonic to the pair of... More >>

  • Best Place to Watch Hipsters Take a Spill

    Cafe Du Nord

    The cozy basement feel of the Castro's Cafe Du Nord accounts for much of this music venue's appeal. But with every tucked-away underground lounge comes a stairway down to that underground lounge, and that's where navigating Du Nord gets dicey. To witness the phenomenon yourself, just grab a seat near the door and watch as hipster after hipster, gaily re-entering from a smoke break, fails to negotiate those last few steps, slips, and flops to a shameful thud among the... More >>

  • Best Grungy Art Factory

    Artists' Television Access

    In the punkish 1970s, this small storefront art gallery was known not for its art, but as a shooting gallery (as in heroin, speed, sex) serving Valencia Street degenerates. When anarcho-artists took over the space nearly two decades ago, they stuffed thousands of used needles behind the wallboard and then dedicated the space to making alternative television and political art. In the early 1990s, ATA became a center of radical anti-war art and anarcho-communist agitation against what ATA-ites saw as... More >>

  • Best New Radio Show

    Working Assets Radio

    Perhaps it's not surprising that Working Assets Radio would have to reach far outside Northern California to find a daily talk show host who could voice a steady leftist line without stumbling into clinical irrelevance. On a new daily talk show scheduled against KQED's Michael Krasny, preciously British-accented Laura Flanders has found a snug-fitting San Francisco shtick as the quirky European Leftist Who Knows How. While Flanders isn't the skilled interviewer Krasny is, her patter never fails to include the... More >>

  • Best Old Radio Show

    "T.O." Ted Dively

    While Laura Flanders' quirky brand of radio chatter can be satiating, there are moments when the appetite is best served by the aural equivalent of buttered toast -- familiar, savory, unadorned, college-style radio. Lucky listeners feel this urge Wednesday mornings and listen to "T.O." Ted Dively, a 21-year college radio veteran who occasionally plays exotic interludes of records made by 1950s screaming professional wrestlers, but more often fills the waves with a template of college radio fare: jazz, funk, synth,... More >>

  • Best Pickup Spot for HAL 9000

    "Synth Modular" Nightclub

    This is the nightclub where androids come to dance and computers come to dream. For over a year, the folks at Form8 have provided a forum for emerging artists who revel in the synthetic -- everything from laptop punk to lo-fi experimental techno, from analog dub to galaxy-stretching new wave -- but it's only recently that the artists have really gotten as good as the concept. Local mainframes like Kid 606, Blectum From Blechdom, and Memory Systems ("Synth"'s new-wave house... More >>

  • Best Nonprofessional Reading Series

    "Bored Collective" at 26 Mix

    People in the dance-music community tend to be a boisterous lot. They like to drink, they like to snort, they like to get in all sorts of trouble staying up past dawn. Thanks to the "Bored Collective," you can hear about such activities. Begun by local scribes Amanda Nowinski and Billie Sharp a year ago, the now-quarterly event started as a way for fans, writers, DJs, and musicians to get off the dance floor and in front of the mike.... More >>

  • Best Reason to Celebrate the End of the Universe

    Club Townsend Closing Party

    It may be the end of an era, but club kids, circuit boys, and their friends will certainly still celebrate the closing of this late-night landmark, known internationally for its Saturday event, "Club Universe." The lease is up, and it's time to move on in the name of SOMA progress. To mark the occasion, the staff is bringing back the best talent from the last 10 years. Some scheduled performers include Motörhead, Cyndi Lauper, CeCe Peniston, and Dead or Alive.... More >>

  • Seven Stops on a North Beach Pub Crawl

    North Beach has been the center of San Francisco's rambunctious nightlife ever since the Gold Rush days, and today several excellent neighborhood saloons uphold this venerable tradition. Some offer live music, some serve food, many are boisterous, and a few are merely moody, but each one reverberates to its own particular beat. Covering all of them in one night is probably inadvisable, so we've narrowed it down to seven. San Francisco Brewing Company 155 Columbus (at Pacific), 434-3344, www.sfbrewing.com Begin... More >>

  • Four Best Bars With a View

    The only thing more beautiful than a beautiful panorama is a beautiful panorama with a cocktail in the foreground, and San Francisco has plenty of both. The town's lousy with gorgeous views: Between the hills, the bay, the ocean, and the surrounding mountains, valleys, and inlets, unforgettable vistas are practically an inevitability. Some of the best vantage points have been purchased, sheltered, and equipped with a bartender; four of these scenically subsidized saloons are mentioned below. Carnelian Room Bank of... More >>

  • Three Best Ways to Dance Away a Beautiful Sunday

    Dancing outside on Sundays may have begun as a continuation of Saturday evening's revelry, but that's not the only way to enjoy these popular weekend parties. It might be an even better idea to show up freshly showered and well-rested, so you can enjoy the fresh air and warm weather and keep your feet moving till long after the sun goes down. Endup "T-Dance" 401 Sixth St. (at Harrison), 357-0827, www.theendup.com This 28-year-old S.F. institution is still the best place... More >>

  • Arts & Entertainment Readers' Poll

    Best Movie Theater Castro Best Rep Film House Castro Most Inventive Movie Theater Programming Red Vic Best Movie Theater Menu Metreon Best Local Band/Artist None Best Local Live Theater Space None Best Local Theater Company San Francisco Shakespeare Festival Best Local Theater Production This Year Free Shakespeare in the Park (S.F. Shakespeare Festival) Best Local Dance CompanyODC Best Art Museum SFMOMA Best Street Mural Women’s Building Best Gay Bar (tie) Cinch; The Stud Best Lesbian Bar Lexington Best Pickup Scene... More >>

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