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  • Best Pet Boutique

    Babies

    It's no secret that San Francisco is a dog lovers' town, and no one caters to all types of dog lovers better than Hayes Valley's Babies. Whether you deck out your Chihuahua in the latest fashions or seek the most wholesome food for your Great Dane, Babies has it all. The owner, Michael Cunningham, and his two boisterous dachshunds, Zeke and Hank, run a chic yet friendly establishment stocked with the latest doggie trends and pet care basics. Though small,... More >>

  • Best Place to Buy Frogs

    Sunset Supermarket

    San Francisco's sizeable Asian population ensures that the city stays stocked with creatures not particularly indigenous to the American diet, including live frogs and turtles. Frogs are a notable inclusion in Sunset Super's vast selection of meat in a department that ranges from giant, wiggly conches to (thankfully dead) pork intestines. Last we checked, the amphibious treats could be yours for $2.99/pound. But if the idea of eating frogs is horrifying, and you can't bear the sight of them looking... More >>

  • Best Brazilian

    Marilyn Jaeger Skincare

    There's no one quite like Marilyn Jaeger, a woman who can make you feel comfortable and chatty in the midst of removing all of your pubic hair. She has turned the once painful Brazilian wax into a world-famous art form. Jaeger's version is virtually painless and takes all of four minutes. Her motto is "A clean girl is a happy girl" — so she leaves you with no hair, front to back. Plus, she knows that happy girls can't have... More >>

  • Best Bulk Shopping

    Foods Co

    When you want the low prices of Costco but don't want to pay for membership or brave the sheer mass of cheap humanity, give the unexpectedly helpful FoodsCo a try. The warehouselike building is nothing fancy — OK, it's a little scary — but the prices can't be beat. Here you can buy everything from baby food and diapers to giant boxes of cereal and big packages of pasta, plus produce, cheese, meats, flowers, seafood, and bakery items. The lines... More >>

  • Best Funky Hotel

    Hotel Boheme

    When our friends visit from London and New York, we put them up at Hotel Boh�me because it's fabulously cosmopolitan (right in the heart of North Beach) without being absurdly spendy. Rooms run from $159 to $189, and they're sumptuous: no chintz bedspreads or hideous floral artwork here. The furniture runs from wrought-iron beds to antique armoires you want to cart home, and the walls are painted rich shades of pumpkin and tomato. But just because it's funky doesn't mean... More >>

  • Best Baby Store

    DayOne

    Baby's on its way and you have no idea where to start. Friends are having a kid and you want to buy them something they might actually use. Got an infant at home and need to find updated supplies. For all of these situations — for just about any baby-related event, really — there's Day One. In one sense, it's a comprehensive store: maternity and baby clothes, pumps and strollers, car seats and high chairs, baby-proofing supplies and books. But... More >>

  • Best Place to See a Doctor for $39

    Farmacia Remedios

    It may not be ideal from a traditional doctor's point of view, but the recent trend of mini-offices in drugstores is often the only option for people without health care. Locally, Farmacia Remedios caters proudly to Spanish-speaking clients, but the large shop's friendly workers make it easy for anyone to visit. That's the point, after all: Should it really be so difficult to see a doctor — regardless of who you are, where you're from, or what language you speak... More >>

  • Best Veterinarian

    Mission Pet Hospital

    San Franciscans spoil their pets horribly. Handmade clothing, special food, and excellent health care are practically the norm. We do it our own way, of course — this is no L.A. full of rich ladies clutching toy poodles. Mission District denizens, for example, are as likely to lavish a mutt with goodies as a show dog, and both pet and friend might be dressed in spiked leather. The perfect match for this style is Mission Pet Hospital, whose dreadlocked surgeons... More >>

  • Best Place to Learn a Language

    Pacific Arabic Resources

    Jamal Mavrikios, the president and founder of Pacific Arabic Resources, begins a class by reminding students that there's no better time to learn Arabic. And he's right. This feisty, multilingual Greek New Yorker is the perfect Arabic instructor, with a sharp wit and an easy teaching style. He created Pacific Arabic Resources in hopes of promoting inclusiveness, multilingualism, and internationalism. There's no question that, for Westerners, Arabic is one of the hardest languages to learn. But Mavrikios has developed an... More >>

  • Best Lingerie Store

    Alla Prima

    These extravagant, elegant boutiques give new meaning to the word sexy. The stores have an air of rococo elegance, from the crystal chandeliers to the array of silks and lace. In addition to a divine selection and sultry atmosphere, Alla Prima owners Magie Crystal and Yolaida Dur‡n are known for their measuring-tape magic. Even if you're sure you know your size, their distinctive measuring system gets you into the best-fitting bra of your life. They offer an outstanding selection, too,... More >>

  • Best Pet-Friendly Hotel

    Hotel Palomar San Francisco - A Kimpton Hotel

    As more and more hotels open their doors to our pets, it takes a lot to stand out. Hotel Palomar, near Union Square, has gone the extra mile. When making reservations, guests have two pet package options to choose from — a deluxe room or a suite, ranging from $239 to $439. And with 10 percent of all pet package proceeds going to San Francisco's SPCA, you can feel a little less guilty about going all out for your pooch.... More >>

  • Best Thrift Store

    Thrift Town

    Thrift Town is not a shop for the weak-willed or the time-strapped. Unlike some other Mission District "thrift" stores, its selection has not been pre-edited by hipsters. For some this is a deterrent, as it requires more digging. To the pure of heart the store presents a welcome challenge, and the rewards are so much sweeter. Gorgeous, mint-condition Gunne Sax hippie dresses and perfect Pucci-esque shifts can be found for under $10. The costume jewelry counter stretches forever, and the... More >>

  • Best Gifts

    Period George

    The art of display is key here. At Period George the carefully curated and orchestrated tableaux of china, tableware, cooking utensils, vases, candle holders, framed prints, and sundry other decorative objets are delightful to peruse on a regular basis, whether or not you find something to purchase. Offerings range widely in price and style, from affordable kitschy Victoriana to expensive antique silver. Owner Donald Gibson has a discerning eye and eclectic tastes, and he'll gift-wrap your treasures exquisitely. The emphasis... More >>

  • Best Mascara Alternative

    Benefit Cosmetics

    Eyelash tinting — it sounds like the kind of scary beauty procedure that's normally the sad provenance of starlets and sorority girls. But when you consider all the shortcomings of mascara (bleary, early-morning pokes in the eye; the emotional foresight needed to avoid it on days when someone might break up with you; waking up all raccoony if you forget to wash it off, etc.), tinting comes out the lower-maintenance option. In the wrong hands this process can have horrific... More >>

  • Best Cheap Designer Threads

    Jeremys

    Nestled on the darling little alley leading to the almost disgustingly charming little South Park, Jeremys has long been the preferred feeding trough of S.F.'s cheapskate clotheshorses, a classy, well-organized riot of discount designer threads for broke boys and girls. The store reels in customer returns, damaged goods, and past-season items from high-end department stores; it's also in touch with photographers who use clothes in advertisements and designers looking to unload unused samples. But who really cares where that nutty... More >>

  • Best Indian Bazaar

    New India Bazzar

    Every square foot of this friendly, fragrant grocery store is packed with the makings for your next Indian banquet. Dried rajma, moong, chandal and masoor beans, bulk cardamom, coriander and other essential spices, and huge sacks of basmati rice, both raw and puffed, adjoin cans and jars of coconut milk, ghee, preserved mango and papaya, and a wide array of chutneys. Several shelves are dedicated to the preparation of masala, pakora, vadai, and kulfi, not to mention tea, and among... More >>

  • Best Office Supplies (Plus)

    Polk-a-Dot Stationers

    Polk-a-Dot stocks all the usual stationery-store suspects — pencils, paper clips, staples, and such — but it's the stuff between the glue sticks and the Wite-Out that makes you want to browse the afternoon away. Tiny wooden drawers are neatly stocked with glitter, ladybugs, pint-size printing blocks, and miniature Buddhas. Beautifully tactile Quo Vadis planners from England share display space with vintage postcards of Atlantic City and an eclectic assortment of handmade greeting cards. Crayons, coloring books, balloons, and kid-friendly... More >>

  • Best Tobacconist

    Grant's

    Grant's is a venerable refuge for anyone who still enjoys a contemplative puff of the pipe and the vanishing aroma of smoldering carcinogens. Tucked into only its third location since 1849, this handsome, wood-paneled den is fragrant with history as well as cedar and tobacco. Originally the Sutcliff Pipe Shop, purveyor to prospectors, it was purchased in 1953 by manager Ed Grant, who installed California's first walk-in humidor and began the now-common practice of blending toasted and flavored tobaccos. Today... More >>

  • Best Store to Inspire You to Open Your Own Restaurant

    Kamei Restaurant Supply

    There's something strangely disorienting about stepping inside Kamei Household Wares & Restaurant Supply, the Inner Richmond's bargain-filled answer to Bed Bath & Beyond. Its aisles are filled with thousands of items most people have never seen outside a restaurant. At every turn, there's another surprising rack — wooden sushi boats and bridges, the fountain glasses used exclusively for ice cream sundaes and root beer floats, piles of thick plastic booster chairs. Before you know it, you start thinking, "Hmm ...... More >>

  • Best Map Resource

    Coffee & Power

    Try as they might, the goons at MapQuest will never supplant the tactile gratification of opening a map, creases intact, and thinking about faraway places with strange-sounding names. Although the wistful fun of plotting a 'round-the-world voyage is nearly obsolete, Get Lost doesn't seem to notice — or care. Here both armchair and actual travelers can find wall maps and road maps, maps of cities and countries and continents, maps for a stroll through the neighborhood or a circumnavigation of... More >>

  • Best Cheap Haircut

    Supercuts

    Supercuts may be the McDonald's of hair salons, but if the opinions of a growing number of style-conscious locals count for anything, then at least one Supercuts stylist — Bing Du at the chain's Noe Valley branch — should win awards for her work. Her no-nonsense approach (you're in and out of the chair in 20 minutes flat) might put off those who consider head massages, free coffee, and slatherings of expensive sprays and serums to be an integral part... More >>

  • Best Hole-in-the-Wall Florist

    Guy's Flowers

    Guy's Flowers creates a riot of color on the leafy, pedestrian-friendly stretch of Noe Street between Duboce and Market. On open days (currently Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.) the genial florist can often be seen lolling about outside his garage storefront in a deck chair, freshly picked seasonal stems spilling out of buckets along the nearby wall. Inside the garage are more buckets, wrapping materials, and rows of neatly stacked vases. His blooms range from everyday... More >>

  • Best Place to Buy Veggies

    Golden Produce

    A David to Safeway's Goliath across the street, the cramped yet bountiful Golden Produce grocery on Church Street serves a faithful clientele with its high-quality selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. Stocking everything from the humble spud to obscure varieties of kumquat, the family-run store purveys standard and organic produce at reasonable prices. Beyond the wide selection of produce, the shop also carries a fine range of other tasty goods, including fresh mozzarella and feta cheeses (help yourself to chunks... More >>

  • Best $8 Manicure

    Relax Nails

    Many nail salons look like Relax, but few offer the same level of service and attention to detail. While an $8 manicure in a similar beauty parlor might leave you with uneven tips, ragged cuticles, and smudged lacquer, the ladies here take so much care over the job they do that they'd rather wipe off the polish and start over than let you leave with imperfect nails. The salon used to look a little worse for wear, but a lick... More >>

  • Best Animal Groomer

    Bow Wow Meow

    From Bernese mountain dogs to Siamese cats, Bow Wow Meow is the place to have your pal scrubbed, clipped, and trimmed. With its great prices and top-notch facilities, no place in the city rivals Bow Wow Meow when it comes to grooming our furry friends. The air-conditioned grooming space and large pens for big dogs make for a comfy, stress-free experience. These experts clip your squirming pup's nails for only eight bucks, and do a full wash — which includes... More >>

  • Best Place to Take an Art Class

    The San Francisco Center for the Book (SFCB)

    In this era of instant-gratification entertainment and techno-peppered art, it's nice to know that there are still places to cultivate hobbies that hark back to a simpler time. The San Francisco Center for the Book ups the ante on the craft of bookmaking with a smattering of innovative and delightfully vintage workshops. Here you can take a wood engraving class with one of the country's most lionized experts or immerse yourself in a few days of letterpress printing and make... More >>

  • Best Naked Yoga

    One Taste

    San Francisco may have more yoga studios than people, but for $12 a pop, you can forego all the others and get the city's quintessential yoga experience at One Taste. Naked yoga has been getting its share of raised eyebrows from less crunchy aficionados — particularly those who (regretfully) remember the famous "Naked Yoga Guy" on Fisherman's Wharf — but the class at One Taste ("an urban retreat center") is meant not only for staunch nudists, but also for those... More >>

  • Best Bike Shop

    Bike Hut

    We're not sure if Victor Veysey, proprietor of the Bike Hut at Pier 40, would go so far as to say that using and exchanging bicycle stems over and over until a customer finds one that's just right — as he allowed us to do once — counts as official store policy. But it's a good example of the no-worries, aim-to-please, keep-fussing-and-helping-and-advising-until-a-customer's-happy attitude that makes this eccentric little place on the west side of the ballpark our first stop for... More >>

  • Best World Music Store

    Grooves Inspiralled Vinyl

    First off, Grooves Inspiralled Vinyl — that white building with all the candy-colored albums hanging in the windows sitting just around the corner from It's Tops Coffee Shop — is not a used record store dedicated exclusively to world music. It peddles all kinds of styles: rock, jazz, classical, comedy, blues, soundtracks, folk, electronic, as well as "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender." But now that eBay has helped to inflate prices for used records — even fairly easy-to-find artifacts — we've... More >>

  • Best Place to Get (Almost) Everything for Dad

    Cable Car Clothiers

    It might be the arresting scent of leather and Brut that greets you at the door, but Cable Car Clothiers ("San Francisco's British goods store since 1939") simply screams Father's Day.* The place has a mountain of headwear to choose from — wool newsies, Borsalino fedoras, safari-ready pith helmets, and Greek fisherman caps — and various styles that, according to the clerk, "are also very fashionable for young ladies these days." If your dad isn't into lids, a minute's browsing... More >>

  • Best Place to Get Dad That Other Thing

    Sally Beauty Supply - 16th St.

    Take some advice: Though Cable Car Clothiers has nearly everything else you might want to get for your pop (see above), don't ask about picking up a straight razor. You'll be quickly put in your place when the lads behind the counter roll their eyes and tell you such razors are technically illegal, and they're tired of everyone asking. But we think the Cable Car clerks should check across town: We found a straight razor under the pink banner of... More >>

  • Best Spa

    Kamalaspa

    Aside from the fact that Kamalaspa looks like it's straight out of an Arabian Nights fairy tale, it's singular among its S.F. cohorts for specializing in the ancient Hindu practice of Ayurveda, an across-the-board wellness practice that means "knowledge of life" in Sanskrit. Launched by self-professed spa junkies Christopher and Amber Marie Bently, whose treks across India's Rajasthan informed their slew of hedonistic appointments — sumptuous ottomans, sari-draped settees, and tea services fit for a maharani — the spa boasts... More >>

  • Best Picnic Supply

    24th Street Cheese Company

    We've learned our soggy lesson well: Fickle microclimates make it impossible to plan a picnic in advance. So when the sun breaks through, we have to be ready to grab the checkered blanket and get to the park on a moment's notice. A pit stop at the 24th Street Cheese Company makes Bay Area picnicking possible. It's not just the place's impressive stockpile of cheesy delights — the wall behind the counter has everything from crumbling Stiltons to creamy monastery-made... More >>

  • Best Reason to Sell Your Car

    City CarShare

    Wish you could get rid of that gas-guzzling eyesore? It's expensive, smelly inside and out, and nearly impossible to park. Join City CarShare, sell your hunk of junk, and you're likely to save money — and definitely lower your blood pressure. The math may seem complicated at first: Add up the yearly expenses on your car, estimate the number of times per month you go various places, yadda yadda yadda. But the numbers don't lie — zero insurance, zero repairs,... More >>

  • Best Boutique Hotel

    Inn at the Opera

    Built half a century ago to cater to visiting opera stars, this sophisticated European-style resort is the perfect accommodation for patrons of nearby Davies Concert Hall, War Memorial Opera House, and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. (Among notable guests who've slept here are Pl‡cido Domingo and Mikhail Baryshnikov.) The 48 well-appointed rooms and suites, tastefully decorated with European furnishings, evoke the intimacy of a fine private residence. Despite its smallish size, the inn functions as a full-fledged luxury hotel, with amenities... More >>

  • Best Eyebrow/Lip Wax

    Macy's Union Square

    There aren't many people in the world you'd trust to handle both your facial aesthetics and your most sensitive nerve endings. That's why an excellent waxer is so valuable; she must be gentle yet brutally precise about the requirements of your bone structure. Benefit's star is Jai Anderson, famous among a certain set for her tender touch and patient manner. She never rushes through this delicate operation. She's meticulous, with a preternatural understanding of the brow shape best suited to... More >>

  • Best Flea Market

    Alemany Farmers Market

    We're always hesitant to draw attention to Bernal Heights: For all its marketable charm, the neighborhood remains oddly quaint and unhyped. Its weekly flea market, however, is too great to keep secret. Unfortunately, for you Saturday-night-owls, you must hit the market by 11 a.m. (it runs every Sunday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.) to get the good stuff. The spread is small and select, and the treasures disappear fast. Once you're there with cash in hand (ATMs are scarce... More >>

  • Best Sporting Goods/Outdoor Store

    The Sports Basement

    Take a cavernous warehouse, stuff it with sporting goods of every imaginable kind, add a staff that's as friendly as it is knowledgeable — presto, you have Sports Basement. From snowboards to hiking boots, biking helmets to swimming goggles, brand-name equipment can be had here for — we can't help ourselves — bargain-basement prices. The pretty little secret of how the company shaves the cost of new gear: It simply snaps up the surplus inventory of mainline manufacturers. (Why other... More >>

  • Best Magazine Stand

    Fog City News

    There's nothing like a good magazine stand to make you realize you're reading the wrong magazines. A corporate rag like Spin may seem like a hot ticket at the doctor's office, but it pales when set among hipper labor-of-love endeavors at a place like Fog City News, which has the kind of selection that forcibly broadens your horizons. A ridiculous number of meticulously arranged titles lines the walls of this narrow shop, betraying the hand of a scrupulous organizer (and... More >>

  • Best Surf Shop

    Mollusk Surf Shop

    In the 1970s, surfing had plenty to do with art — boards were sculpted more than manufactured, airbrushed in wild designs, and ridden with an anything-goes flair more about personal expression than knocking off competitors. Mollusk celebrates that spirit with a ramshackle shop inspired by pure '70s soul surfing. The boards lean heavily toward the long and the fish, with the wetsuits (which aren't now and never should be retro) relegated to a back room. A plastic turntable and stacks... More >>

  • Best Brand-New Vintage Clothing

    Al's Custom Originals

    You can spend years hunting at thrift stores for the perfect '70s trench or '50s swing coat, but when you consider the potential for failure, the lost hours, the gas money, and the knickknacks you'll inadvertently pick up along the way, you should probably just head to North Beach to see Al. The man is a wizard. He has a stock room of sumptuous vintage fabrics and trims, a genius for shape, a total devotion to detail, and a mental... More >>

  • Best Custom Fashions

    My Trick Pony

    Oh, the tyranny of the T-shirt. Stroll down Haight Street and the situation appears positively oppressive: You're either stuck with an overpriced ironic vintage concert tee ("Journey World Tour 1983") or one of a hundred new tees with a Curious George knockoff smiling back at you. How to free yourself from this cycle of fashion frustration? Visit My Trick Pony. Founded in 2005 by Matteo Tacchini, the store offers the tools for you to design pretty much any pattern you... More >>

  • Best Return Policy

    REI San Francisco

    Imagine the following scenario: You purchase a backpack. You take it camping — 50 times. Five years after you bought it you're trudging through Yosemite when one of the shoulder straps breaks off. In any normal situation your only option would be to buy a new one or learn to sew industrial material. If you bought it at REI, however, you'd have another: Take it back and get a new one. Indeed, REI (short for Recreational Equipment Inc.) has what... More >>

  • Best Creative Reuse

    SCRAP - Scroungers' Center for Reusable Art Parts

    An imaginative person's junkyard, SCRAP describes itself as a "creative reuse center" that encourages both innovation and environmental awareness. The store and workshop is a scrounger's paradise of castoffs repurposed as art supplies — textiles, paper, jewelry, wood, buttons, and plastics. SCRAP collects these goods from companies and individuals and distributes them to art groups, schools, and other organizations, encouraging young and old artists to turn materials into collages, sculptures, and other masterpieces. The idea is that by "breathing new... More >>

  • Best 24-Hour Establishments

    Bob's Donuts & Pastry Shop

    Bob's is an oasis of civilization in the wee small hours of the morning when the rest of the city's fast asleep and there are glazed old-fashioneds to be dunked. These fresh, hot, made-from-scratch triumphs come in several varieties — plain, cinnamon, glazed, jelly, light, dense — yet none has ever been heavy, greasy, or stale. It's a pleasure to get a cup of joe from the do-it-yourself coffee station, settle in at the counter, and, if you're there at... More >>

  • Best 24-Hour Establishments

    Fiesta Laundromat

    The Fiesta glows like a Fab-scented beacon in a dirt-stained post-midnight world, its cheerful yellow edifice beckoning the sleepless and the crazed to wash, fluff, and fold their way through the predawn hours. There's more to the place than its all-day, all-night welcome mat, though. The city's first solar awning system was installed right here. A magnetic-strip Easy Card payment system is employed, so you can save your quarters for your next poker game. There are plenty of machines and... More >>

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