Best People & Places

Best Ed Lee Critic

The fiercest and most authentic critic of Mayor Ed Lee is not found at City Hall, but out confronting him at cafes, heckling him at his speeches, and hunger-striking in front of police stations. Longtime local hip-hop standout Equipto burst onto the fucking-with-Ed-Lee scene in his infamous 2015 “You’re a disgrace to Asians!” coffee shop confrontation, which went viral. Since Lee’s re-election, Equipto has led choruses of boos at many of his speeches and got arrested for disrupting the mayor at a fancy Fairmount Hotel breakfast address. Those recent hecklings were intended to bring attention to the Justice for Mario Woods effort, but Equipto’s more recent advocacy has been at a string of public meetings for new Homeless Navigation Centers.

Best Meaningless Symbolic City Hall Legislation
Granting Landmark Status to the Pride Flag at Market and Castro

They pass some silly, symbolic, and ultimately pointless legislation at Board of Supervisors meetings, but one symbolic resolution has meaning for all San Franciscans. Supervisor Jeff Sheehy wants to grant city landmark status to the giant rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza at Market and Castro streets. You’d think the site would have been designated as a landmark years ago, but it never was — and it was never meant to be permanent. This display is still not officially sanctioned, so there’s nothing that could stop the city from taking it down — unless Sheehy’s resolution passes. It would also be a poignant nod to Pride flag designer Gilbert Baker, who passed away in March (and who erected that very flag himself).

Best City Hall Task Force
San Francisco Cannabis Legalization Task Force

Yes, San Francisco has a Cannabis Legalization Task Force, and oh has it been busy, meeting since well before the November 2016 passage of Prop. 64 that legalized the recreational use of cannabis in California. Consisting of dispensary owners, attorneys, and cancer and HIV survivors, it’s working until Jan. 1, 2018 to develop a framework for the sale, distribution and taxation of marijuana in our fair city. They’ve already worked out a one-percent excise tax on the sale of all marijuana products, a city-operated bank for the largely cash-only industry, and a permitting system for pop-up pot tents at big events. Upon “hashing out” such minutiae, San Francisco may become a marijuana-tourism destination on par with Amsterdam.

Best Local Trump Critic in Washington
Sen. Kamala Harris

Our former District Attorney rose through the ranks to become California’s Attorney General, and Kamala Harris is now our junior senator. A reliable f-bomb-dropping Trump opponent who puts her colleague Dianne Feinstein to shame, Harris has been adamant in her defense of undocumented immigrants and over Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ need to resign due to his obvious perjury. Harris trolls Trump on Twitter like she was one of those rogue federal agency accounts, winning mentions as a possible 2020 presidential candidate — not unlike another first-term African American senator we can name. Her rebuke of Idaho congressman Raul Labrador’s remark that “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care” is an absolute classic: “You might as well say, ‘Well, people don’t starve because they don’t have food.’ What the fuck is that?’”

Best Animal Mascot

LiLou the SFO Therapy Pig
SFO Therapy Pig

LiLou the SFO Therapy Pig

We’re all about the eccentrics who keep parrots or walk Siamese cats on leashes or bring 11-foot Florida alligators on Muni, but there’s one animal that embodies the spirit of San Francisco like no other: LiLou, the trained, 3-year-old “therapy pig” in a pink tutu who comes to SFO once per month to bring joy to weary travelers — or confirm every stereotype they’ve ever had about the Bay Area they instant they deplane. She’s the first non-canine in the “Wag Brigade” partnership with the SPCA, and her handlers stick to terminals with carpet, so that LiLou’s (painted) cloven hooves don’t slide.

Best Candidate for a Renaming
Isis Street

In Archer, the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS) was dissolved by the federal government right around the time that, IRL, the successor organization to Al-Qaeda was reviving the caliphate by decapitating people in northern Iraq who didn’t uphold its rigid (and incorrect) interpretation of Islam. You’re really supposed to refer to the Islamic State as “Daesh” to avoid legitimizing it, but we still can’t help cringing when we pass by Isis Street, a one-block alley in SoMa between 12th and 13th streets that runs parallel to the benevolently named Bernice Street. Considering that San Francisco is sensitive enough to rename Lech Walesa Street to Dr. Tom Waddell Place after the Polish anti-communist leader made homophobic remarks, it’s not entirely out of the question. Oh, and the Isis is also what the River Thames is called, upstream from Oxfordshire. Maybe they should rethink that, too, cause terrorists are such jerks and all.

Best BART Musician
Roger Brooks

If you’re lucky enough to catch a Roger Brooks performance at the Powell Street BART station, you might be tempted to miss your train so you can listen to his dulcet piano tunes a little longer. Brooks, a 23-year-old from Philadelphia who’s been homeless for the last three years, employs a simple set-up that belies just how good his music is. He sports terrycloth sweatbands and Adidas apparel, and works only with a battery-powered keyboard that he balances on his lap. A deft musician with nimble fingers that flutter across the keys with impressive agility, Brooks makes celestial compositions with interlocking melodies that sound like shooting stars. Waiting for BART is never fun, but with Brooks echoing in the background, you can’t help but enjoy yourself.

Best Pissed-Off Supervisor Moment
Malia Cohen and Waterbend

It’s fun seeing politicians get riled up — and sometimes scary. We wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of Sup. Malia Cohen, particularly after she called out of Bayview developer Waterbend. “Come grow with us as Bayview becomes the next Mission,” the front page of their website stated — along with an offensive ad of tiny white women working out while a Black man looks on. Cohen wasn’t having it. “I would politely advise @WaterbendSf, and their ad consulting team, to get a firm understanding of the word ‘columbusing,’ ” she tweeted. “This is what people are talking about when we use words like ‘cultural incompetence.’ Your description of your planned housing, ‘urban living at its best,’ is #culturalappropriation at its worst. And what do you mean by ‘Grow With Us as Bayview Becomes The Next Mission’?! The Mission is ground-zero for aggressive tech #gentrification.” Yikes. This all went down on a weekend, but the team behind Waterbend hustled fast, quickly replacing the front page of site with something blander and less offensive. Go, Cohen, go!

Best SFMTA Mess-Up
NextMuni Prediction Fail

It was one of the the wettest winters on record, and many, many people spent it standing in leaky bus stops in the rain as all Muni predictors went down. Was the 22-Fillmore coming in two minutes, or was it actually 22? No one knew. The problem was part SFMTA, part AT&T, and part NextBus, but it was the SFMTA who felt the blow of soggy commuters’ rage on social media.

Best Recent Crime
People Got Arrested For Base Jumping in the Tenderloin

On Feb. 28, three people in their 20s thought it was a brilliant idea to jump off a building on the 300 block of Jones Street at 11:30 p.m. Tenderloin officers spotted the trio falling with parachutes, and arrested two men — but a woman escaped capture. They were charged with trespassing and conspiracy.

Best Animal-Control Moment
Capturing the Castro Turkey

The city’s Animal Care and Control officers don’t just spend their time rescuing kittens from under houses or pursuing domesticated parrots released into the wild. Every now and again, they’re faced with a fiercer, uglier competition. In mid-March, an adolescent turkey was spotted parading through the Castro, but it took four days for one Officer Edith and her entourage to trap the “wiley flapling.”

Best Place to Walk Four Blocks Without Hearing English
Clement Street

There are so many places in San Francisco where this is possible, but this year’s award goes to Clement Street between Sixth and 10th streets — specifically on a weekday morning. Grab a boba tea and stroll along the busy street to encounter parents walking their kids to school, shopkeepers sweeping the sidewalk in front of their business, and vendors pulling out trays of fruit grown thousands of miles away, to sell at a startling price to hip white residents who remember tasting mangosteens once in Thailand.

Best Nonprofit for People Living on the Streets
Lava Mae

Sometimes the biggest way to make a difference is by starting really, really small. While there are many amazing nonprofits working to assist the communities living on our streets, Lava Mae has the simplest goal: Restore homeless people’s dignity by providing them with free showers and toilets. The small nonprofit started with an old converted Muni bus, and it now has a number of trailers that they truck all over the city.

Best Ferry to Take for No Reason
S.F. to Sausalito
From the Ferry Building, $11.75 for adults,

The knocks against using our ferry system as a means of public transportation are all well known. The routes are limited, it’s seldom the fastest way to travel, and the cost of a ticket continues to rise. Then again, it’s hard to beat leaning on the safety rail as ocean spray hits your face, perhaps with a Bloody Mary in hand. And the best way to enjoy the splendors of our ferry system is with no destination in mind. If you agree, the San Francisco to Sausalito ride is a great place to start. Not only will you get a rare view of the Bay Bridge from below, but you’ll also float past Alcatraz and Angel Island. The scenery truly can’t be beat, and the on-board bartenders always deliver. Pick a date and spend an afternoon at sea.

Best Cheap Birthday Party
Golden Gate Park Bunny Meadow

Trying to plan a birthday party for a friend is usually a major pain. You have too many people to reserve tables at the bar they like, the Giants are on a road trip, and you have reasonable suspicions that your Venmo requests for reimbursement from the guest list will likely go ignored. Given the situation, why not plan a day at the park with your own reserved slice of the outdoors? Golden Gate Park’s Bunny Meadow is located behind the Conservatory of Flowers and offers an ideal space for picnics, light recreational sports, or even a few rounds of sloshball. (You’ll need cans though — no kegs allowed.) To procure a permit, simply call the nice folks at Rec and Park and fork over about $30, then enjoy nature’s beauty and all the alcohol your savvy savings make possible.

Best Test to See If Someone Reads the News
City Hall Lights

For those who claim to be in touch with current events, there are few party tricks more fun than asking them to explain the meaning of that evening’s lighting at City Hall. While some answers are obvious — Giants in the playoffs, Fourth of July — others take a bit more sleuthing to uncover. There was the night City Hall turned purple in honor of Prince’s death last April, or the pink hue that greeted protestors at this year’s Women’s March. Locals will also easily identify the rainbow lights that take over the building during Pride. How City Hall will recognize the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love remains to be seen, but until then, enjoy testing the acumen of your peers and racking up the Instagram karma.

Best Dolores Park Hookup
Coconut Man

If your first instinct seeing a man coming towards you with a machete in Dolores Park is to run, think again. The gentleman in front of you is likely to be Michael, the Coconut Guy. If it’s sunny in Dolores Park, you can bet he’ll be there, ready to lop off the top of a fresh coconut and plop in a straw. The fruit itself costs about $6, but only a fool would pass on the extra charge to enrich your treat with a generous pour of Captain Morgan’s rum. As the colorful characters that give San Francisco its heart continue to disappear, let us celebrate the gift of Coconut Guy will all our livers.  


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