Events Listings


Events listings are compiled by Paula Connelly. Submit items for the listings at For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.


Bear Rendezvous Locations throughout San Francisco Wed. through Mon., visit for a schedule of events, times, and prices. The theme of this year’s Bear Rendezvous is "Sin, Fire, and Gold" and includes events like beer busts, dance lessons, happy hours, movie screenings, art shows, pub crawls, beer busts, and more to raise funds for non-profit organizations that promote and assist the GLBTQQI community.

How to do Magic Tricks Bazaar Café, 5927 California, SF; (415) 831-5620. 7pm, $1 suggested donation. Attend this month’s "How – To Night" and learn how to do magic tricks with professional magician Robert Strong. Suggested items to bring include coins, a deck of cards, a dollar bill, business card, 6 feet of rope, and scissors. Extra supplies will also be available there.



"Counter Culture" Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck, Berk.; (510) 649-1320. 7:30pm, free. Hear oral historian, photographer, and former waitress Candacy Taylor discuss her new book, Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress, and uncover the experiences of diner waitresses from a sociological perspective.

Sweetheart Bingo Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding, Alameda; (510) 865-5060. 7:30pm; $20 for 10 games, includes a free drink. This three ring bingo circus is not like your grandmother’s bingo, with cash and gift certificate prizes, circus arts, food and drinks for purchase, music and carnival games. Proceeds benefit Rhythmix Cultural Works.


Love on Wheels Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF; 6pm, $10. Join other single cyclists for a chance at romance at this recreation of the original 1970’s Dating Game where bachelors and bachelorettes select hidden dates to roll away with to hip local spots.

Lunar New Year Flowers San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, 100 John F Kennedy Drive, Golden Gate Park, SF; (415) 831-2090. 9am, $5; runs through Feb. 28. Celebrate the year of the Tiger by enjoying a special display of Chinese miniature plant landscapes, a tradition that dates back over 2,000 years.

Soul Food for Thought Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, SF; (415) 392-4400. 8pm, $10-40. Celebrate Black History Month at this fundraiser for the International Fund for Africa featuring comedian MC Leo Flowers, music from R&B legend Lenny Williams, live music, dance, thought-provoking speakers, and more.


Hot glass, Cold beer Public Glass, 1750 Armstrong, SF; (415) 671-4916. 6pm, $25 includes a glass drinking vessel or glass heart made by Public Glass artists. Enjoy a cold one while watching glassblowing demonstrations by artists Jaime Guerrero and Guido Gerlitz. Featuring live music with Joel Streeter and Max Delaney.

Love Dub Yoga Tree Castro Studio, 97 Collingwood, SF; (415) 701-YOGA. 8:30pm, $45. Open your heart and share the love with those in need at this fundraiser for the Save the Redwood Tree Foundation, Surfriders, and Power to the Peaceful featuring a Native American blessing, a Hatha yoga session, guided meditation, and ending in a live reggae concert.

Sea Watch Meet at Louis’ Restaurant, 902 Point Lobos, SF; (415) 349-5787, email to RSVP. 8am, free. Look for the Marbled Murrelet, California Sea Otter, and Steller Sea Lion on this sea watch for endangered sea creatures.

Vegan Bakesale Ike’s Place, 3506 16th St., SF; 11am, free. Enjoy goods from local professional and amateur bakers while helping to raise money for the Harvest Home Sanctuary, a rescue for domesticated and farmed animals, and Cycles of Change APC, a non-profit community bike shop in Alameda.


Alameda Zombie Crawl Starts at Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge, 1304 Lincoln, Alameda; (510) 749-0332. 7pm; free. Zombie make-up available at 5pm, from $5-25. Join other zombie lovers for a "Valentine’s Eve of the Living Dead" starting at the Forbidden Island Tiki lounge and continuing to Scobies Sports Bar and Grill and Lost Weekend Lounge before the zombies are unleashed on the rest of Alameda.

Love Mission Chabot Space and Science Center, 10000 Skyline, Oak; (510) 336-7311. 1:30pm and 3:30pm, $85 per couple. Go on a Valentine’s Day love mission at this simulated space mission to find the red planet.


LoveSick 3 Mighty, 119 Utah, SF; (650) 524-0056. 7pm, $15-20. Cure what ails you at this lingerie fashion show featuring live music, DJ sets, an art installation, trunk sale, kissing booth, raffle, and more.

Pet Adoption Day Amoeba Music S.F., 1855 Haight, SF; (415) 831-1200. 11am, free. Find yourself somebody to love at this pet adoption event on Valentine’s Day in support of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, a non-profit dedicated to creating better lives for older dogs.


Muir Woods after Dark Meet at Muir Woods National Monument Visitors Center, Mill Valley; (415) 349-5787. 5pm, $5. Hear the rich sounds of nature in Muir Woods after dark and learn about the nesting Northern Spotted Owl. Bring a flashlight and wear sturdy shoes.


Eve Ensler Commonwealth Club, 2nd floor, 595 Market, SF; (415) 597-6705. 6:30pm, $20. Hear author and anti-violence feminist Eve Ensler discuss the daily struggles faced by women around the world and how they have overcome obstacles at this talk and booksigning for "I am an Emotional Creature."

Gracias Madre’s sacred tacos


Text and photos by Caitlin Donohue

gracias 2 0110.JPG
The aura of these tacos de hongos is orange

It’s easy to pick on the Café Gratitude cabal of which the “vegan taqueria,” Gracias Madre is the newest representative. At the original CG raw vegan menu items are named after affirmations- from their “I am insightful” spring rolls to the “I am cherished” cheesecake special. Plus, there’s the issue of their

Food & Drink




Blurring the line between rustic and contemporary Italian, this Mission newbie doles out specialty pizzas, inspired cocktails, and two dozen antipasti options.

1199 Valencia, SF. (415) 695-1199,

Runners up: Spork, Spruce


Sugar Café

Fresh-baked pastries and near-regal environs make Sugar Café a refined coffee shop by day, while moody lighting and seasonal cocktails turn it into a perfect after-work lounge.

679 Sutter, SF. (415) 441-5678,

Runners up: Cafe Flor, Atlas Cafe


Saigon Sandwich

Three bucks and a quick stroll through Civic Center will get you one of Saigon’s crave-worthy banh-mi, the timeless combo of marinated pork, barbecue chicken, or tofu on a chewy baguette.

560 Larkin, SF. (415) 474-5698

Runners up: Little Saigon, Cafe Dolce



The charming Mission haunt continually wins over San Franciscans from all walks with seasonal ingredients, great service, and an incredible vino selection.

3621 18th St., SF. (415) 552-4055,

Runners up: Incanto, Tomasso’s


Citrus Club

From spicy curry to garlic shiitake, when it comes to slurping noodles on the cheap, this Upper Haight noodle house has something for everyone.

1790 Haight, SF. (415) 387-6366

Runners up: Hotei, Mifune


Taqueria Can-Cun

So what keeps Can-Cun packed until the wee hours? Slightly seared tortillas wrapped around well-seasoned meat; close proximity to prime drinkin’ spots; and horchata that just won’t quit.

2288 Mission, SF. (415) 252-9560; 3211 Mission, SF. (415) 550-1414; 1003 Market, SF. (415) 864-6773

Runners up: El Farolito, El Metate


Cha Cha Cha

The sangria flows freely, the small plates are built for sharing, and the good-time vibes never stop at both Cha Cha Cha locations.

1801 Haight, SF. (415) 386-7670; 2327 Mission, SF. (415) 648-0504,

Runners up: Andalu, Ramblas


Blowfish Sushi to Die For

High-tech decor meets Zen service at Blowfish, the Mission’s den of floppin’ fresh fish, where innovative sushi platters and anime-filled LCD screens are the norm.

2170 Bryant, SF. (415) 285-3848,

Runners up: Ebisu, Tsunami


A la Turca

At A la Turca, delectable pita and perfectly seasoned lamb meet on the cheap, smack in the center of the Tenderloin.

869 Geary, SF. (415) 345-1011

Runners up: Cafe Troya, Bursa Kebab



San Francisco’s favorite South Indian restaurant, Dosa churns out some mean curries, aromatic rice dishes, and of course a variety of savory dosa, its namesake Indian crepe.

995 Valencia, SF. (415) 642-3672,

Runners up: Indian Oven, Shalimar



This authentic Peruvian spot serves up fresh ceviche, seared ahi, and herb-crusted rack of lamb to salivating diners.

24 West Portal, SF. (415) 759-8087; 2114 Fillmore, SF. (415) 447-2668; 3945 24th St., SF. (415) 695-0549;

Runners up: Limon, Mi Lindo Peru


Burma Superstar

With 22 ingredients, the rainbow salad here shows that this Inner Richmond joint pays attention to the details. Imagine what it does with ginger, curry, and basil.

309 Clement, SF. (415) 387-2147,

Runners up: Mandalay, Pagan


Miller’s East Coast West Deli

Miller’s authentically conjures the Eastern Seaboard with mountainous Reubens, steamy matzo ball soup, and cheese blintzes in portions that are bigger than your face.

1725 Polk, SF. (415) 563-3542,

Runners up: Moishe’s Pippic, Mr. Pickles



With a menu full of eggs Bennies, loads of classic French options, and Bloody Marys by the pint, it’s no wonder that people happily wait hours for a brunch at Zazie.

941 Cole, SF. (415) 564-5332,

Runners up: Tangerine, Boogaloo’s



Forward-thinking Specialty’s lets you order hearty sandwiches, fresh salads, and made-from-scratch soups online or at one of its seven citywide locations.

Runners up: Zuni, Chow


Cliff House

The cliff-side art deco joint offers classic cocktails, a refined old-school menu, and floor-to-ceiling windows for taking in stunning ocean vistas and the Pacific sunset.

1090 Point Lobos, SF. (415) 386-3330,

Runners up: Beach Chalet, Greens


Memphis Minnie’s

This Lower Haight staple serves up brisket and pulled pork so tender that urban tailgaters don’t even need the three delicious tabletop sauces available for slatherin’.

576 Haight, SF. (415) 864-7675,

Runners up: Everett and Jones, Big Nate’s



Situated in the geographic center of the city, Sparky’s is a 24-hour melting pot of urban carnivores and herbivores, with kitschy environs, a menu packed with diner staples, and bottomless cups of coffee.

242 Church, SF. (415) 626-8666

Runners up: Nopa, Grubstake


Gary Danko

White linens, a doting waitstaff, and a celebrity chef … dropping a whole paycheck at Gary Danko’s innovative Californian spot is easy.

800 N. Point, SF. (415) 749-2060,

Runners up: Boulevard, Kokkari


Tu Lan

Located near the intersection of Sixth and Market Streets, Tu Lan serves up the best dive meal around, with enormous portions, order-by-number efficiency, and authentic pho.

8 Sixth St., SF. (415) 626-0927

Runners up: Pakwan, Naan ‘N’ Curry


Octavia Lounge

Our readers are head over heels for the charms and attentions of the staff at fabulous cabaret-restaurant Octavia Lounge.

1772 Market, SF. (415) 863-3516,

Runners up: Luna Park, Stinking Rose


Bob’s Donuts

Bob does most of his baking right before last call, endearing him to Tenderloin bar rats and music venue castoffs citywide.

1621 Polk, SF. (415) 776-3141 King Pin, Peoples Donuts


Ritual Roasters

Sleek, minimalist environs, an endless parade of MacBook Airs, and fair trade coffee make this the default destination for hipster techies.

1026 Valencia, SF. (415) 641-1024,

Runners up: Blue Bottle, Philz



The extensive selection of craft beers at Toronado can be bewildering. Fortunately, the bar lets you sample as many tasty local brews and fancy imports as it takes to make a decision.

547 Haight, SF. (415) 863-2276,

Runners up: Monk’s Kettle, La Trappe



Taking the pretentiousness out of the vino experience, Bacar boasts a three-story wine wall and a book-size menu by the taste, glass, flight, and bottle.

448 Brannan, SF. (415) 904-4100,

Runners up: Cav, Yield


Christine Rammey at Martuni’s: Best Classic Cocktails


Decorum stops with the slickly made manhattans, sidecars, and martinis: raucous show tunes, flamboyant crowds, and heaps of drunken revelry here break the mold.

4 Valencia, SF. (415) 241-0205

Runners up: Aub Zam Zam, Rye


Orbit Room

This stylish mid-Market spot can do things with basil, cucumber, and ginger that are positively subversive by classic cocktail standards.

1900 Market, SF. (415) 252-9525

Runners up: Bourbon and Branch, Cantina


Fog City News

Sure, Fog City peddles thousands of periodicals in its tiny Financial District locale, but cacao-lovers also drop by for one of the country’s largest chocolate collections.

455 Market, SF. (415) 543-7400,

Runners up: Edible Love Chocolate, Recchiuti



Locally grown veggies and organic Niman Ranch beef set Burgermeister’s charbroiled beauties apart, but freshly cut fries and fountain root beer put this place over the top.

86 Carl, SF. (415) 566-1274; 759 Columbus, SF. (415) 296-9907; 138 Church, SF. (415) 437-2874;

Runners up: Barney’s, Big Mouth Burgers


Ike’s Place

The rock star of the San Francisco sandwich scene, Ike’s Place puts magic on bread: whether you like it stacked or Spartan, vegan or meaty, this Castro joint rocks the sammy like no other.

3506 16th St., SF. (415) 553-6888,

Runners up: Hazel’s, Yellow Submarine


Acme Bread Company

Buttery croissants, chewy baguettes, and herby ciabatta bread make up the carb-laden menu at this Ferry Building favorite.

Ferry Building Marketplace, Embarcadero at Market, SF. (415) 288-2978

Runners up: Arizmendi, Tartine


That Takes the Cake

The fluffy homemade cupcakes at That Takes the Cake range from Southern red velvet to carrot cake — and conjure up blissful childhood memories of stuffing your face with frosting. Mmm, frosting.

2271 Union, SF. (415) 567-8050,

Runners up: Kara’s Cupcake, Citizen Cupcake


Cheeseboard Collective

This Berkeley co-op serves up specialty pizza, baked goods galore, and an impressive menu of artisanal cheeses.

1512 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 549-3055,

Runners up: Cowgirl Creamery, Say Cheese


Samovar Tea Lounge

Serving up grounding doses of ritual and history with every fair trade, organic, and seasonal cup of loose leaf, Samovar also programs cultural-specific tea services.

498 Sanchez, SF. (415) 626-4700; Yerba Buena Gardens, Upper Terrace, 730 Howard, SF. (415) 227-9400,

Runners up: Leland Tea Company, Lovejoy’s Tea Room



Nothing kills a hangover like playing hooky from work, chain smoking Parliaments, and sucking back a Bloody Mary on Zeitgeist’s gigantic patio.

199 Valencia, SF. (415) 255-7505

Runners up: The Ramp, Home


Café Gratitude

Café Gratitude caters to the raw set without isolating the rest of us; sustainably farmed local ingredients and communal seating make this the best vegan bet around.

2400 Harrison, SF. (415) 824-4652,

Runners up: Cha-Ya, Millennium



From wood-roasted calamari to warm goat cheese crostini, the rustic-chic appetizers that come from Nopa’s open kitchen are organic bits of heaven.

560 Divisadero, SF. (415) 864-8643,

Runners up: Betelnut, Town Hall


Citizen Cake

Decadent chocolate ganache, a rotating cupcake roster, and cookies aplenty make this Hayes Valley café a primo dessert destination.

399 Grove, SF. (415) 861-2228,

Runners up: Mission Pie, Tartine


Ferry Building Farmers Market

Not many markets can hold a candle to creamy cheeses, craft breads, organic fruits and veggies, and specialty oils outside a San Francisco landmark.

Ferry Building Marketplace, Embarcadero at Market, SF. (415) 693-0996,

Runners up: Alemany, UN Plaza


Eatwell Farms

For a seasonal dose of heirloom tomatoes, summer squash, and fresh basil, look no further than the local, certified-organic wares of Eatwell’s CSA program.

Runners up: Planet Organic, The Fruit Guys

Food & Drink — Editors Picks


An unpalatable shocker: despite the massive quantities of Filipino folks in the Bay Area, gourmet Filipino food has been nigh impossible to find. Sure, lumpia, those little egg roll–like wonders, are ubiquitous at street fairs, and that national dish of the Philippines, adobo (well-grilled meat slathered in the eponymous marinade and served over rice), can be found at many Hawaiian joints and Asian cultural festivals. But what about a classy take on the unexplored bounty that is Filipino cuisine? Palencia in the Castro reduces us to babbling superlatives with its inventive yet traditional dishes, including a melt-in-your-mouth sisig na boy, a combination of diced fried pork, cherry tomatoes, and green onions, and dreamy kare kare, oxtail stewed in peanut sauce with still-crisp vegetables. The interior, dotted with votive candles, trimmed in teakish wood, and edged with manila walls, appeals to a romantic notion of the islands. And yes, there’s heavenly adobo, either pork simmered in garlic sauce or chicken in coconut milk, with vinegar, fermented soy, crushed red peppers, and bay leaves. Palencia’s prices may call for a special occasion, but the tastes will linger long after the bill’s been paid.

3870 17th St., SF. (415) 522-1888,


Remy Nelson of Mojo Bicycle Café

There are few combinations as simple and viscerally satisfying as reclining on the seat of your ’74 Monte Carlo enjoying a $10 hummer and a puff or two on the glass dick. I mean, you gotta relax, right? However, it’s all about trying new things, or putting together old things in new combinations. Like, picture this: the Monte Carlo is in the shop, and you’re pedaling down the road on the Schwinn Varsity 10-speed you inherited from your pops. You realize two things: (1) This bike rides like shit, and (2) Damn, I picked a bad week to give up crack and hookers — I’m really gonna need some strong coffee before my head explodes. Mojo Bicycle Café has got you covered: you can have your ride wrenched on while you glug an expertly poured triple cappuccino, perhaps noshing on a salad or sandwich while you make small talk with your sponsor. If you decide to give up on the Schwinn, you can peruse the selection of bikes for sale, including the new line of city cruisers by Swobo.

639A Divisadero, SF. (415) 440-2338,


Calling Sabra Grill the “best glatt kosher meal in Chinatown” sounds like a backhanded bitchslap along the lines of Flight of the Conchords’ paean to the “most beautiful girl in the whole wide room.” But it’s no joke: Sabra is the city’s only restaurant with a full-time resident mashgiach (supervisor of adherence to kashrut, or Jewish dietary laws). Everything on the Israeli menu is generously portioned, and you can’t go wrong with the greaseless, well-spiced falafel tucked inside a perfectly pillowy pita with luscious tomatoes, crisp lettuce, saucy tahini, and pickles, washed down with a Maccabee beer. But don’t go on weekend nights: Sabra closes, of course, two hours before sundown on Friday and all day Saturday. Sabbath, sweeties, although a special for-Shabbat takeout menu is available.

419 Grant Avenue, SF. (415) 982-3656,


The gaggle of teenagers at Sweetheart Cafe is here for the impressive selection of boba tea, coffee “freeze” drinks, shaved ices, slushies, and smoothies, plus perhaps a snack of popcorn chicken and a bag of muscat gummies to go. But the item that really puts the sweet in Sweetheart is the ginger milk, a Hong Kong creation of warm sweetened milk and fresh ginger juice, which gels the milk. Some versions of ginger milk have the texture of flan, but this one is more like cappuccino — served in a coffee cup, it has a thick, foamy cap of custard above warm, peppery, ginger-laced milk. It’s the perfect foggy–weather drink (and yes, that does include Irish coffee). If you’re feeling more dessert-minded, try it with the optional bird’s nest or harsmar (a topping made from the dried fallopian tubes of a frog, it has a glutinous texture and sweet flavor).

909 Grant Avenue, SF. (415) 262-9998


Indian food is pretty much the best stuff on the planet, but it’s hard to eat casually, like, say, when you’re really drunk and nowhere near a table with plates and cutlery. Most ravenous sots will forgo the greasy cartons of mixed sabzi and chicken masala in favor of something more drunk-friendly, like a burrito or a slice of pizza. But there are plenty of tikka freaks who’ll risk slimy fingers and curry-stained sheets just to get a bellyful of spicy brown-and-yellow glop. Well, they don’t have to. Zante, a pizza parlor in Bernal Heights run by an Indian chef with a doctorate in dough flipping, has been serving up handheld versions of classic Indian Cuisine for years. It sounds like magic, but Zante’s “Indian pizzas” are really just traditional dishes baked onto pieces of naan bread. Genius.

3489 Mission, SF. (415) 821-3949,


The geoduck (pronounced goo-ey-duck) is a bivalve mollusk that lives deep under the sand, alerting potential predators of its presence with a geyser-like spray. This culinary delight, which can be up to three feet long, looks like a giant clam with a phallic protrusion sized to match. And like many foods that are difficult to obtain and reminiscent of human genitalia, geoducks are considered a culinary delicacy in some places. In this case, those places are Japan and especially China, where geoducks are prized for their savory flavor, crunchy texture, and rumored sexual performance-enhancing qualities. Despite San Francisco’s considerable Asian population, you can only find the suggestive dish in one local restaurant: Kim Thanh in the Tendernob, where tanks of geoducks line the front windows. Not ready to put something so big and foreign in your mouth? Kim Thanh’s salt-baked crab, seafood clay pot, and garlic noodles are great too.

607 Geary, SF. (415) 928-6627


Chef Thomas Peña knows his Mexican — he retains fond and obsessive memories of watching his mother and grandmother prepare traditional favorites in their kitchens, surrounded by family and an overwhelming feeling of comida community. Inspired a few years ago by a meal at a makeshift kitchen in a Mexico City market stall to pass on that sense of tradition to San Franciscans, Peña opened the achingly cute Regalito Rosticeria in the Mission, with its open kitchen, brightly colored walls, and snug dining area. All well and good, but does he bring the goods? Ah, si! His menu eschews fancy Californian flourishes and pumps up the basics: the handmade guacamole soothes and rocks, house favorite pollo regalito (a slow-roasted half chicken with a choice of lemon or chile-garlic marinade) leaps off the bone and into our salivating yappers, and, flawlessly, the chile verde — a stew of green chiles, pork, and green beans — mixes kick with comfort to a startling degree. Regalito means “gift” in Spanish, and we’re delighted to dig our warm tortilla into any of Peña’s bustling kitchen’s special deliveries.

3481 18th St., SF. (415) 503-0650,


Cocktail ingredients seem to be getting more and more esoteric these days, with elderflower liqueur and kumquat garnishes taking the places long held by cheap vodka and nuclear maraschinos. Lingba Lounge’s Bowl of Monkeys may not be able to compete in the Cocktail as Art category, with its basic blend of dark rum, light rum, lime, amaretto, and pineapple juice (all mixers your mom has actually heard of), but it’s giving competitors a run for their money in the Cocktail as Gimmick race. How? With its “garnish,” a flame in the center of the plastic-monkey-rimmed vessel, plus a Polaroid photo taken to commemorate what will surely be a memorable night (especially if you finish the $24 drink, meant for two but big enough for four, on your own). Once you’ve had a Bowl of Monkeys, hit the dance floor and get your monkeys up in someone else’s bowl.

1469 18th St., SF. (415) 647-6469,


Judging from the standard fare at most of the city’s Japanese restaurants, you might think the Japanese subsist solely on sushi and shabu-shabu. Not so! Japan is so full of weird and wonderful edibles, it would take a lifetime to eat your way through them all. But maybe you can start at Maki Restaurant, San Francisco’s premiere location for wappa-meshi. A “wappa” is one of those ubiquitous round wooden steamers you can find stacked to the ceiling at deep discount kitchenware shops on Clement Street, and wappa-meshi is said container filled with rice and meat, fish, or vegetables that are then steamed together. The flavor, like the best Japanese foods, is subtle and exquisite in its simplicity. Although the menu at Maki punches the pocketbook a little harder than noshing at No-Name used to, as a genteel taste of Kansai cuisine, you won’t find better.

Maki Restaurant, 1825 Post, SF. (415) 921-5215


Established in the fall of 2006 as a temporary culinary experiment by chef Thomas Keller, ad hoc is a delicious casual restaurant located just down the street from Keller’s famed flagship restaurant, French Laundry. The philosophy behind ad hoc is simple: a unique four-course prix-fixe menu is presented daily and served family-style in a cozy, convivial atmosphere. Current chef de cuisine Dave Cruz seems to specialize in comfort food staples like fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits or steak and potatoes, but endows them with haute cuisine flourishes. As with French Laundry, ad hoc’s emphasis is on fresh, organic ingredients and plenty of vegetables — so vegetarians are as welcome as carnivores. And while reservations are certainly recommended, the low maintenance hospitality of ad hoc allows you to experience the magic of Thomas Keller without the three month wait … or the exorbitant bill.

6476 Washington, Yountville. (707) 944-2487,


Chapeau!: Best Après-Dinner Smooch

Though Philippe Gardelle and his wife Ellen started their small Richmond District bistro, Chapeau!, 12 years ago, it remains one of the best sources of French cuisine in the city. Classic but far from pretentious, Chapeau! has a warm, rustic, bistro mood whose roots are more Provençal than Parisian. The menu offers a wide range of delectable dishes, from classic high-cuisine favorites like coq au vin or duck confit served with cabbage and smoked bacon as well as more traditional “peasant” fare like cassoulet. Monsieur Gardelle’s passion for food extends well beyond the plate. He is also the host and sommelier, laughing and drinking his way from table to table. After the meal, the bill comes to the table in a hat (the nominal “chapeau”) and the garrulous Gardelle will not let you leave without a kiss and a hug. As an indication of their success, the Gardelles recently purchased and renovated nearby hot spot Clementine.

1408 Clement, SF. (415) 750-9787


Caitlin Williams Miette with a pop
by Lollyphile: Best Candy for Grown-ups

People always talk about how San Francisco has more singles than any other place on the planet, but that’s just a nice way of saying that this city is full of aging hedonists who refuse to grow up. Marriage, cars, house payments? Yeah, right. Many San Franciscans are content to waste away their late 20s and early 30s in the pursuit of drink, fashion, casual sex, and candy. Yes, candy. With a population composed almost entirely of poorly groomed Peter Pans and tattooed Tinker Bells, it makes sense that the city would produce some of the best candy on the planet. Newest on the confectionary scene is Lollyphile, whose limited runs of gourmet lollipops satisfy the mature palettes of eternally young adults as much as they might make a real kid want to barf. But that’s beside the point. Flavors like bacon-maple and absinthe have been designed for the young at heart, not for those who are actually young.

(415) 690-5198,


A stop by Taquería Can-Cun at 2 a.m. will prove that the Mission is certainly not hard-up for good nachos. But when it’s Wednesday and you’ve already had more than your weekly recommended servings of the Mexican food group, try the Phoenix Pub‘s European take on this layered delight — Irish potato nachos. The pub’s version matches steaming spuds, black beans, jack and cheddar cheeses, guacamole, and crème fraîche in one big cross-cultural medley. Plus, you get complimentary Irish soda bread with table service, or on request at the bar. Add frothy beer on tap, strong Long Island iced teas, and a room full of Steelers fans, and you’ve got a perfect Sunday afternoon — unless, of course, you’re loyal to the Patriots.

811 Valencia, SF. (415) 695-1811,


Kimchee — cabbage shreds fermented with garlic and chili peppers — is about as earthy as it gets. Despite its robust flavors, it need not be crude. Context is everything, and the context at Namu is all about spare, modern style. When a little heap of kimchee appears on your complimentary platter of banchan, it doesn’t look at all out of place — even on a serving dish that looks like something acquired at the SFMOMA gift shop. The geniuses behind the inner Richmond restaurant (a trifecta of brothers: David, Dennis, and Daniel Lee) are all about sophistication, and their restaurant glows like a dark jewel on a commercial stretch of Balboa otherwise lined with Russian bakeries, laundromats, and cheap Chinese restaurants. (You’ll know you’re there when you start having to navigate through clusters of thirtysomethings in sleek black clothes working their handhelds while waiting for tables to open up.) Don’t think you’ll be stuck just eating kimchee here, either. The mostly pan-Asian fare is stellar, as is the surprisingly good burger.

489 Balboa, SF. (415) 386-8332,


All the Popeyes hopped up on all the spinach in the world couldn’t take Bakesale Betty. This fantastic bakery, famous for brilliant multitudes of chocolate chip cookies and gingersnaps, also serves an astounding fried chicken sandwich well worth a jaunt over the Bay Bridge. A veritable conveyor belt of young bakers on site assemble this breaded-poultry masterpiece with machinelike precision. Add freshly baked bread and jalapeño coleslaw garnish, and you’ve got a sandwich that has lunch-goers lined up around the block. But don’t let the wait scare you. Like any good grandmother, blue-haired Betty and her smiling staff keep the restless children (and hungry adults) occupied with refreshing lemonade slushies and complimentary cookies — not to mention hip-hop, indie rock, or electronic music playing loud enough to keep heads bobbing. Also try this Temescal hot spot’s chicken pot pie, egg salad sandwich, and fresh strawberry shortcake. Take it all to go or people watch at Betty’s genius ironing board patio.

5098 Telegraph, Oakl. (510) 985-1213


Lime: Best Bottomless Morning After


There’s no reason to end your weekend on Saturday night — not when the sassy, gorgeous waitstaff at Upper Market’s Lime are serving bottomless mimosas for $7 on Sunday mornings. The brunch scene is something like a Hollywood movie set, though it’s hard to determine whether that film is more Sex and the City (beautiful people in Fendi shades) or Austin Powers (the chocolate brown and white leather decor is so groovy, baby). Either way, it works for the hungover twentysomethings who consistently fill the dining room, looking for a little protein and a lot of hair of the dog. The menu here is surprisingly good for a place built for a party, and the mini-burgers are perfect for eating even when your hands have the shakes. An extra bonus? You don’t have to bother changing out of the clothes you wore to the club last night — no one else has been home yet, either.

2247 Market, SF. (415) 621-5256,


How glam can yogurt get? Pretty darn fancy-schmancy, according to the sleek, chic, and überstylin’ Jubili. The nation’s Pinkberry-spurred soft-style yogurt explosion continues unabated, but where are the real contenders to Pinkberry’s crown? The immaculate, moderne, and nightclubby Jubili seems to be the only true potential usurper, all with only a trio of flavors: original, peach, and strawberry sorbet. Perhaps it’s because the array of dry, cereal, and fresh fruit toppings is always a boggling delight to encounter. And why choose just one? Jubili ushers in My Parfait, a tall, cool serving of low-fat vanilla yogurt, two fruit toppings, and house granola. Next up, for all you closeted teens who never quite quit gobbling Cocoa Pebbles straight from the box: My Cereal, a serving of cold nubbins or hot oatmeal, milk or soy milk, and one topping. Perfect for spooning up while sitting beside fashiony Asian girls or twentysomethings wearing mouse ears and reading manga. Yami Yogurt — we never knew ye.

1515 Fillmore, SF. (415) 292-9955,


Cantina is:

1) Filled with esoteric alcohols and weird brands you’ve probably never heard of,

2) Staffed by half of the city’s best cocktail geeks, and

3) Patronized by the other half of the city’s best cocktail geeks.

All of these factors combine to make it a bartender’s bar, the kind of place where mixologists entertain patrons with detailed explanations of just how Cynar, that herbaceous digestif, got its distinctive flavor (13 herbs, the most predominant being artichoke). This also means you can order a Pisco sour — the tangy, egg-white-shaken, grape-brandy-based beverage both Chileans and Peruvians claim as their national drink and argue they invented — while other Bay Area bars are still stuck on caipirinhas. Just don’t blame your hangover on the bartender. If you’re going to drink with the pros, you better prepare like the pros: water, chili-cheese fries from Grubstake, and a 3 p.m. wake-up call.

580 Sutter, SF. (415) 398-0195,


The laws of the working drunkard state that if you’re gonna drink, you gotta eat. Thus, within walking distance of nearly every great SF bar, there sits an equally amazing food stand. The Mission has its taquerías; the Castro has its all-night diners; and most neighborhoods have late-night pizza and Thai. But SoMa’s got something special: Crepes A-Go-Go, which robs European burritos of their foreign mystique by serving them from a broken-down trailer, the way God intended. After a night of dancing and debauchery, hit up the shack near Harrison Street for down-and-dirty crepes. You won’t find delicate Suzettes here, but you can score just about any other variation on the theme. Sweet, savory, sickening? Yup. Equipped with multiple brands of hot sauce, vegetables, meat, assorted cheeses, and jumbo jars of Nutella, this French chuckwagon will have you digesting your hangover away before your head hits the pillow … or sidewalk.

350 11th St., SF. (415) 503-1294


Somewhere between a latke and a potato pizza, the brambory, a Czech culinary favorite, is both delicious and, in the Bay Area at least, rare. Enter Frankie’s Bohemian Café, where the crisp-bottomed delight is available in several incarnations. Every house specialty starts with a thick base of shredded potato and zucchini pancake, comparable to the comforting potato pancakes you find more easily on the East Coast, which is then topped with mozzarella and your choice of meat: carnitas, sausage and meatballs, BBQ shrimp, chicken and bell peppers, or steak and guacamole. The rest of the menu is decent, standard American fare, but beer options — available in giant steins — are better than average. Add to that a quirky European-cafeteria feel (the bar looks like a deli counter, and small tables are nearly obscured by too many chairs) and cheap prices ($9 for one brambory), and you might just forget you’re in Pacific Heights.

1862 Divisadero, SF. (415) 921-4725


If you belong to the club that believes chef Carlos Altamirano’s first restaurant, Mochica, set and continues to set the standard for Peruvian cooking in the city, you will probably want to join the club that believes his newer place in Bernal Heights, Piqueo’s, is quite as good in its way. Piqueo’s serves “traditional” Peruvian cuisine “with a California twist,” and whatever this means, it’s good. Certainly all the familiar elements of Peruvian food are in place, from those supersize corn kernels to an array of ceviches to desserts made with exotic tropical fruits — not to mention alfajores, the addictive butter cookies layered with dulce de leche. Piqueo’s raises the riveting, if deeply superfluous, question of whether a cuisine as innately rich in wondrous twists and turns as Peruvian needs any California tweakings. The likely answer is no, but chances are you won’t be inclined to complain either way. For one thing, your mouth will be full.

830 Cortland, SF. (415) 282-8812,


The Imperial Tea Court may have shed some authentic Chinese teahouse accoutrements (old men, pet birds) when it shuttered its original Chinatown location. But it continues to be San Francisco’s pre-eminent teahouse at its new location in the no-birds-allowed Ferry Building. It’s not for nothing that the Imperial Tea Court is the tea vendor of choice for many local high-end restaurants and hotels. It stocks almost 200 varieties of tea, ranging from basic blends for neophytes to ultrarare aged pu-erhs for aficionados. Most are available for on-site sipping; a gaiwan tea service only runs $5 and makes for a pleasant (yet fully caffeinated) respite from the crazed foodies surging through the Ferry Building Marketplace. And true tea lovers can pick up a few ounces to savor at home.

1 Ferry Building Plaza, #27, SF. (415) 544-9830,


Nestled on a little neighborhood commercial strip four blocks from the Great Highway, the Sea Breeze Cafe looks like a dive. The decor falls somewhere between tacky and unimaginative, the low-budget tables are crammed into a small space (with a few on the sidewalk for alfresco dining during rare fog-free weather). But the lunchtime fare is outstanding and very reasonably priced. The emphasis is on American comfort food — omelets, sandwiches, burgers, and some creative organic salads. The dinner fare is more elegant and expensive, but for brunch, the place is fun, casual, and relaxed. The service is friendly and attentive, kids are welcome, and unlike a lot of upscale eateries these days, the Sea Breeze actually gives you a full plate of food. It’s a perfect place to stop after a walk in Golden Gate Park.

3940 Judah, SF. (415) 242-6022


Absinthe Brasserie and Restaurant:
Best Bar Whose Time Has Come


Being an American sucks in a lot of different ways. Perhaps worst of all is that absinthe has been illegal in this country for nearly 100 years. Our art and literary scenes have undoubtedly suffered because of the century-long ban on genius juice, and we haven’t been able to hold our own in global drinking contests for years. But those days are over. After dozens of court hearings and drug trials, the Association of American Drunkards has somehow managed to convince the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to re-legalize the production and distribution of the Green Fairy. Now Americans can get drunk and hallucinate at the same time, just like the boys across the pond. Get ready, world, the next batch of Hemingways, Picassos, and Van Goghs is about to hit the scene — and Absinthe Brasserie and Restaurant, with its green flights and psychedelic cocktails, is likely to be ground zero for the revolution.

398 Hayes, SF. (415) 551-1590,


While it might not have been the actual inspiration for Twin Peaks’ Double R diner, the Peninsula Fountain and Grill has a kooky nostalgia that puts David Lynch obsessives in the mood. Long referred to simply as the “Creamery,” this wood-paneled-and-chrome landmark in the center of Palo Alto has all of the trappings of a family-owned 1950s hang-out. There’s the ol’ Seaburg jukebox that still plays yesteryear’s hits, a working soda-jerk behind the bar, and red vinyl booths for cozying up with your sweetheart. On any given day, the restaurant is packed with Cardinal collegiates, hipster townies, and silver-haired couples ordering the daily specials. As for the menu: if there’s such a thing as Californian home-cookin’, the Creamery has perfected it. Choices include hearty omelets, homemade mac ‘n’ cheese, freshly caught salmon, daily specials like the fab lemon ricotta pancakes, and milkshakes that, alone, are worth the trip. A separate bakery serves fresh breads and cakes every day.

566 Emerson, Palo Alto. (650) 323-3131


Stepping into Izzy’s Steaks and Chops on Steiner Street near Chestnut is exactly like stepping into the living room of Grandpa-with-a-capital-G’s living room — you know, that stereotypical patriarch of yesteryear who liked wood paneling, manhattans, and steak. And like all grandparents’ homes, Izzy’s doesn’t seem to have changed in the past 20 years. The menu still offers big cuts of beef, potatoes au gratin, and creamed spinach, and the classic wine list features lots of full-bodied zinfandels — just as it did in the days before Atkins, South Beach, and the Master Cleanse. In fact, the only proof that Izzy’s has entered the modern age might be the photo on the wall of a seven-year-old Samantha Duvall posing with Ted Danson; now grown up, the daughter of Izzy’s original owner can be found chatting up regulars at the bar over an aptly chosen old-fashioned cocktail. The Marina may have left its unpretentious working-class roots behind, but Izzy’s hasn’t.

3345 Steiner, SF. (415) 563-0487,


OK, let’s get this out of the way: The first person to say “you can’t get a real bagel outside of New York” is going to get it. We’re going to jump out of this newspaper and give you an old-fashioned beatdown. We’re sick of the same ol’ Big Apple bullshit about real bagels, and seeing the seasons change, and how it was so cold that one winter your uncle Maury became sterile. Face it, dillhole: you don’t live in New York anymore, and you grew up on Long Island, anyhow, so please, have a tall frosty mug of STFU. The House of Bagels in the Richmond serves a bona fide boiled bagel, which, when matched with the shop’s nova lox in either the standard two-ounce portion or the Jen’s True New York lox bagel sandwich four-ounce whopper, will bring a tear to ol’ Uncle “Ice Cube Nuts” Maury’s eye.

5030 Geary, SF. (415) 752-6000,


Who says sushi can’t be bar food? Not the folks at the Knockout’s Godzuki Sushi Happy Hour, which draws a laid-back, eclectic, friendly local crowd to the bar every Wednesday. Thanks to wonder duo Tim Archuleta and Erin Neeley of Ichi Catering (many know Tim from Tokyo Go Go), you can munch some swell sushi specials while enjoying Kirin on draft — or other beer, sake, and cocktail specials — plus some rock ‘n’ roll. Place your order with Taka, taking your pick of super-fresh rolls and nigiri, ranging from shiro maguro to inari, and famed specials like yuzu chicken wings. One perennial favorite is the spicy crab and scallop nigiri. Yum! The Knockout also just started Tuesday Raw Bar Night, with shrimp cocktails, oyster deals, and drinks — that means at least two weeknights of drinking that won’t require chili cheese fries.

3223 Mission, SF. (415) 550-6994


How is it possible that beer at the Bean Bag Coffee House is so cheap? Did the owner win a lifetime supply of imported brews on some game show and buy the café to unload them? Is it a state-subsidized effort to herd drinkers toward Divisadero Street? Once you order your $1.75 pint (of microbrew!), you won’t really care. Especially since you can also get a nice cup o’ joe, along with the light atmosphere and pleasant aromas of an espresso joint (as opposed to the darkness and rotting-hops smell of a bar). On top of its cheap beer, Bean Bag has a respectable food menu. While the culinary fare isn’t quite the value the draft options are, many items — like the burger and fried calamari — are as pleasing to your mouth as the pilsner prices are to your wallet.

601 Divisadero, SF. (415) 563-3634


While it might not be completely appropriate to tuck a Fra’Mani sausage into the waist of your pants and scream “peek-a-boo!” as you chase your lover around the kitchen table, it sure is entertaining (for you, at least). And filling lunchtime with lots of meaty double entendres is half the fun of eating Fra’Mani salumi. The other half, of course, is the salumi itself. Fra’Mani’s Paul Bertolli, who lived in Italy and trained under sausage maestros there, has been providing the Bay Area’s chichi-est restaurants with antipasto plate fixings for years. He makes cooked and cured salumi, as well as fresh sausages based on classic Italian recipes (as close to his grandfather’s as he can approximate). Everything at Fra’Mani is made and tied by hand, using the highest-quality, all-natural pork and casings that can be found. From the feather-light mortadella to chewy, salty, perfectly thin soppressata with just a hint of clove, Fra’Mani salumi are fun to play with — but they’re even better to eat.

1311 Eighth St., Berk. (510) 526-7000,


Think burgers and burritos have cornered the market on post-bar, pre-hangover food? Think again. Island Café in the Sunset has a nice, warm, Pacific Island alternative: Hawaiian food! What better way to battle the dark, the fog, and the burning in your belly from your hastily quaffed liquor at last call? It’s hard to argue with the appeal of kalua pork, chicken katsu, macaroni salad, or that pâté of the Pacific: Spam. (How do you think all those hard-partying Hawaiians manage to overcome their hangovers in time for their early-morning surf sessions?) And just in case your tastes fall a bit east of Honolulu, Island’s got the usual diner suspects, too — and all served 24 hours a day.

901 Taraval, SF. (415) 661-3303


There are plenty of places in the city that serve wings, but Kezar Pub serves ’em up with history. This former 49ers hangout gives patrons the option of buffalo or BBQ style, plus 15 televisions with killer satellite reception. And you can guarantee that most of your fellow diners and drinkers are sports fans — with Kezar Stadium, the original home of the football team, right across the street, people often find their way from soccer games, rugby matches, and Roller Derby tournaments directly into the warm, wood-paneled restaurant and bar. Those in the competitive spirit can play games of pool or darts in the back room, while thirsty folks can wash down their wings with one of the many beers on draft. Don’t forget to bring cash, though — while Kezar accepts trash talking, it doesn’t accept credit cards.

770 Stanyan, SF. (415) 386-9292


Is Milpitas the new Chinatown? It’s definitely the place to find the regional delicacies you can’t access easily in San Francisco, and Darda Seafood Restaurant will have you hopping in the car regularly to partake of its popular Chinese Islamic–style — or qingzhen — cuisine. The sizable space is oh-so-conveniently positioned next to the Highways 880 and 237 interchange, in a sprawling Chinese American strip mall. And the hordes of Silicon Valley Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani transplants converging on Darda and filling those huge round tables immediately tell the newbie that he or she found the place. Naturally lamb subs for pork — that otherwise ubiquitous über-Chinese ingredient — here, but oh, what lamb. It’s all fabulous: from the hefty sesame bread with green onions to the hot pots to the meats stewed with pickled cabbage. But the truly unique offering has to be the house-made, hand-cut noodles — soft yet toothsomely substantial, and best with lamb as fuel for riding your pony, or Honda Civic, across the steppes.

296 Barber, Milpitas. (408) 433-5199,


Presidio Social Club: Best Nuevo USO

When the USO was founded in 1941, its purpose was to give enlisted military personnel a home away from home. Which is exactly what Presidio Social Club does for us civilians — give us a 1941 home away from home. With classic ’40s decor and music, hosts and servers dressed according to period, and upscale twists on down-home classics like sloppy joes, mac ‘n’ cheese, and s’mores, it’s an ideal dining locale for those who remember the good old days — and those who just dress like they do. Make sure you don’t miss the mint smashed peas, a delightful alternative to mashed potatoes, or the cupcakes. None of this is country club fare, but it isn’t meant to be. Who wants to be that stuffy when you might be in a trench, or just in the Tenderloin, tomorrow?

Ruger Street, Building 563, Presidio, SF. (415) 885-1888,


Jesse Miner: Best Vegan Magician

San Francisco is quickly becoming a vegan wonderland. There are multiple natural foods stores in every neighborhood and numerous restaurants that cater specifically to those who shun all animal products. But vegans still suffer from the same impediments to eating fantastic, nutritious meals three times a day that the rest of us do: time constraints, tiny kitchens, and/or a distaste for cooking. Only thing is, it’s even more important for those who cut out entire food groups to pay attention to balancing their diet — one can not live on seitan stir-fry and Tofutti Cuties alone. Enter Jesse Miner, a personal chef who, for about the price of a meal at a fancy restaurant, will make meat-, egg-, and dairy-free meals for families and groups. With 15 years of experience, a degree in natural foods from Bauman College, and an internship at Millennium under his belt, he’s also adept at adjusting menus for other food restrictions, including wheat intolerance, diabetes, and raw food diets. And by the way, don’t miss his peanut butter squares and ginger snaps. (One can’t live on quinoa alone either.)


Where to take elementary-age picky eaters and discriminatingly stylish singles? Nonna knows best, and Gialina — a streamlined yet warmly minimalist, rosy-walled pizzeria that’s made a gastronomic beachhead in the adorable but otherwise culinarily challenged Glen Park village — is here to provide. Owner Sharon Ardiana — formerly of Lime, Boulevard, and the Slow Club — concentrates on a handful of scrumptious starters and salads, one or two roasts, and, last but definitely not least, delectable, slender-crust Neapolitan-style pizzas. It’s tough to choose just one when it comes to her pies, like wild nettle and prosciutto, pork belly and tomato, spigarello and sweet Italian sausage, and summer squash and sundried tomato. Top any with an egg, cooked perfectly soft and ready to be put to work sopping up with crust, and expect kids and coolios alike to emerge grateful and sated. Remarkably, Ardiana ups the modest-yet-well-executed ante even further with her desserts: the only thing better than the chocolate hazelnut sweet pizza are the house-made ices — expect an intense, refreshingly palate-cleansing jolt of ruby grapefruit or Meyer lemon.

2842 Diamond, SF. (415) 239-8500,


La Ciccia: Best Sardinian Surprise

Yes, yes, North Beach contains some of the best old country–style Italian restaurants in this country and has become synonymous with said saucy fare — so much so, in fact, that one is often hard-pressed to find a superlative spicy meatball in other parts of San Francisco. But little olive-oiled outposts do, indeed, exist, and La Ciccia in Noe Valley is fantastic. It even fills a niche we never knew we yearned to see filled: that of Sardinian cuisine, a robust cookery chock-full of splendid seafood menu items and breezy preparations rife with sweet spices. Who knew we’d want to buy our taste buds a one-way ticket to the sparkling isle of Sardinia? Husband-and-wife team Massimiliano Conti and Lorella Degan work the kitchen and the floor, imbuing the cozy, seafoam-tinted space with a true family atmosphere, and the staff is beyond helpful, especially when faced with questions of pronunciation. (You try ordering the brilliant cocciula schiscionera — clams dusted with bread crumbs — without slipping on your drool.) The wine list is top-notch, the pecorino-drenched pizza a sa Sarda is justly lionized among foodies, and entrées like the tonnu in padella cun cibudda e zaffaranu, pan-seared ahi with saffron onions, float on delicate layers of Mediterranean flavor.

291 30th St., SF. (415) 550-8114,


In most Latin cultures, dinner isn’t just a meal — it’s an event. Which is exactly what going to Laurel’s feels like. The small Cuban restaurant, tucked away in Hayes Valley on an otherwise residential street, is festive and relaxed. Hosts and servers, of which there are only two or so on a given night, are friendly but in no hurry — and neither will you be as you sip sangria and nibble fried beef and plantains, all while chatting with a tableful of friends. Though a bit pricey, Laurel’s menu is packed with simple, fresh, savory items for vegetarians and omnivores: particularly good is the seafood-stuffed avocado appetizer, which may have several in your party wishing for a swift end to the travel embargo. And if all of that isn’t enough to get you dancing in the narrow aisle between tables, the upbeat music will. The host might even dance with you.

205 Oak, SF. (415) 934-1575


Loló: Best Turkish-Mexican Eclecticism

You might not expect Turkish and Mexican culinary elements to mix well — or at all. And yet it is just this combination, more a mutual influence on creative cuisine than a true fusion, that qualifies Loló to compete with (and triumph over) the Mission’s other new upscale foodie havens. The menu is full of inspired items like veal carpaccio, shrimp tacos with jicama shells, and empanadas stuffed with rare mushrooms — complemented by a fine wine selection. We especially admire the atmosphere, whose tone is set with whimsical, oftentimes downright silly decor and warm, attentive service. Separate rooms, one including a sit-down bar, can accommodate (in space and in mood) either a sizable dinner party or an intimate tête-à-tête, and an understated classiness means you’ll be equally comfortable in flip-flops or formalwear. Like the Mission itself, Loló blends seemingly disparate elements with eclectic, energetic results.

3230 22nd St., SF. (415) 643-5656


North Beach is a great place for wine and pasta, but don’t you wish you could visit the neighborhood without risking the carb overload and headache? And what’s with all the old-school gangster and beatnik stuff, anyway? Sometimes you just want to kick back with a nice pint of Belgian ale and suck down some clams, burgers, and fries in a space that doesn’t remind you of Jack Kerouac or Godfather movies. La Trappe, a Belgian brew house and restaurant with a weekly-changing roster of 20 drafts and more than 180 bottled selections, is located right around the corner from Washington Square Park, smack in the middle of North Beach. It’s a bilevel job with date-worthy seating upstairs and a huge bar area with couches and larger tables in the basement. Tasty nibbles on the menu include moules à la bierre (mussels in white beer sauce) and pancetta-wrapped shrimp, which you’ll want to wash down with some heady Euro imports, of course.

800 Greenwich, SF. (415) 440-8727,


San Francisco is a pretty cool town, but it’d be a whole lot cooler if it didn’t shut down so damn early. Most SF restaurants stop seating at 10 p.m., about three and half hours before the prudish citywide last call. A night of drinking for us, then, usually starts with time-saving snacks like tacos or pizza and inevitably ends with a bacon-wrapped hot dog from a street vendor or a box of mush from a late-night Indian spot. But there are ways around the usual drunk diet plan; you just have to know where to look. In the Financial District, look for Globe, one of San Francisco’s best late-night restaurants, with a menu that doesn’t feature a list of toppings or salsa choices — instead, the tiny New American restaurant serves veal, steak, seafood, and veggie dishes until 1 a.m., Monday through Saturday. The upscale menu changes seasonally, so the selections are always fresh, and the classy preparations complement Globe’s spotless-chic interior.

290 Pacific, SF. (415) 391-4132,


San Francisco is celebrated around the world as a culinary paradise, but all the foodie fanfare has a downside. Sure, you can easily find a $1 million filet or a fresh cut of fish with a side of locally grown organic asparagus. But what if you’d rather have a huge plate of barbecue ribs and an oxtail dripping with fresh grease and pepper sauce? For some real eatin’, head to the outskirts of the city, where underground BBQ houses fill the skies with the sweet smell of smoked flesh. San Francisco’s best unsung casa de carne is Johnson’s BBQ in Portola, an old-school Arkansas-style (meat smoked with apple, plum, and other fruitwoods) barbecue shack that serves the finest flesh in the land slathered with the most atomic hot sauce this side of the Mississippi. The pork is pulled and the chickens have all been choked. But nothing is ever gonna beat Johnson’s meat: it says so right on the window.

2646 San Bruno, SF. (415) 467-7655,


If you dig Indian food — the curries, the dal, the tandoori-roasted breads — but also have somewhat, shall we say, elevated tastes, you will heart Metro Kathmandu, in the Metro Hotel. The cooking is Nepalese, and since Nepal is perched in the Himalayas near India … you see where this is going. There are some nice non-Indian touches on the menu, such as the momos, a lot like potstickers — and hey! China is Nepal’s other monster neighbor. But the food in the main is Indian-ish, and it’s fresh, carefully prepared, and wonderfully seasoned. It doesn’t cost much, either, and this helps boost the restaurant onto the top of the heap of value places. There are restaurants where you can spend somewhat less and get a lot less, but there are more places where you can spend way more but leave with the haunting sense that the additional spendage didn’t get you much. The password is dal, er, deal.

311 Divisadero, SF. (415) 552-0903,


Prohibition may have ended in 1933, but the Volstead Act wasn’t completely repealed until the 1980s, when home brewing finally became legal again. That doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of low-pro ale shacks operating throughout the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s in places like, oh say, Hunters Point. By the time the ban was lifted, countless backyard brewmasters had already refined their methods and were pumping out some of the best porters, lagers, ales, and wheat beers the world had ever tasted. Only, the world couldn’t really taste them because lingering laws concerning global distribution had created an ale-ogopoly of sorts. It wasn’t until the late ’90s that things finally settled and smaller breweries were able to get a piece of the market. Speakeasy Ales and Lagers, a San Francisco brew collective specializing in limited runs of specialty beers (including White Lightning and Hunters Point Porter), “officially” opened its doors in 1997 and has since gained a reputation as one of the best in the West.

1195 Evans, SF. (415) 642-3371,

City Living



N Judah Chronicles

Crazies, crashes, coins! Public transportation is way more exciting than the freeway. Share your tales of Muni woe (and whoa!) with blogger Greg Dewar.


Politics, current events, and culture coverage for people smart enough to distrust “the Voice of the West.” is the FUBU of local news sources.


Freddy Corbin, Temple Tattoo

Corbin’s work can be found on the arms and necks of hipsters from here to China. Intricate, original, and flawless. In a word: gangsta.

384 17th St., Oakl. (510) 451-6423,


Black and Blue

The renowned female artists at B&B may not be able to pee while standing (we think), but they’ll man up to the needles any day. The best tattoos in town.

381 Guerrero, SF. (415) 626-0770,


Gavin Newsom

Is it his creepy smile, his perfect hair, or his questionable policies and personal life that irritates everyone so much? Whatever it is, the dude fucking sucks.


Gavin Newsom

Er, time out. Newsom’s not that bad. He’s kind of sexy in a Zoolander sort of way, and he did stand up for gay marriage. Plus, he’s related to Joanna. Thumbs up, dude. You win.


Homeless Prenatal Program

Being homeless sucks, but homeless and pregnant? Come on! Luckily, HPP has been assisting homeless mothers-to-be with their situation since 1998.

2500 18th St., SF. (415) 546-6756,


Nanci Price Scoular

Scoular’s abstract painting style is like an onion, revealing layer after layer of the artist’s struggle to belong.


Liberation Ink

Liberation Ink designs T-shirts and accessories for liberal arts majors, cute activists, and hippies with fashion sense. All profits support local grassroots organizations.

(415) 294-3196,



Wading through hordes of blissfully ignorant, clam-chowder-chomping tourists is never much fun, but sometimes the destination is worth it. Alcatraz is such a place — the best, in fact.


Broke-Ass Stuart

Stuart’s city guidebooks may fly off the shelves these days, but the dude’s still broke as shit. It doesn’t stop him from having fun, though, and it shouldn’t stop you either.


The Loin’s Mouth

Read about the ups and tragic downs (plus anonymous sexcapades!) of Tenderloin dwellers every month in The Loin’s Mouth.


Big Top Magazine

Circus freaks, sideshow performers, exhibitionists, and straight-up weirdos. Big Top Magazine gives a voice to them all. Finally!


Six Degrees

Dedicated to the sweet and sexy sounds of international genre-bending, Six Degrees offers the best in contemporary music from across the globe.



Like books? Pirates? Clever writing with a socially conscious twist? Dave Eggers and McSweeney’s wants you!


Dennis Richmond

In a perfect world, all news anchors would be like newly retired Richmond: cool, composed, and confident enough to rock the same mustache through decades of facial hair trends.


Check, Please! Bay Area

Regular Bay Area residents review San Francisco’s finest restaurants. No pretense, no expertise, no bullshit. Genius!


Energy 92.7 FM

Indie rock’s cool and all, but sometimes you just wanna bump Rihanna, Britney Spears, or Gunther. Cut a rug at Energy 92.7, the ass-movingest radio station in the Bay.


Folsom Street Fair

More cock than a chicken fight! More ass than a donkey show! Break out those chaps and grab some lube when the sprawling granddaddy of leather events hits in September.


Mighty Dog

Most dog walkers stop after a stroll, but Mighty will take Fido to the beach, give him a trim, and maybe even introduce him to some hot tail.

1536 Alabama, SF. (415) 235-5151,


Little Ark
Grooming Shop: Best Pet Groomer

Little Ark Grooming Shop

Dogs make nice child substitutes, but they can get dirty as hell. Clean ’em up at Little Ark, the best groom shop in town.

748 14th St., SF. (415) 626-7574


Pets Unlimited

Sick pets suck. They whine all day, smell nasty, and repel potential lovers. Get them fixed up at Pets Unlimited.

2343 Fillmore, SF. (415) 563-6700,


Camp Galileo

Art, science, and outdoor activities for students from prekindergarten to entering fifth grade. Summer camp for creative types.

(415) 595-7293,


Dr. Natasha Lee, Better Living Through Dentistry

Drugs and alcohol will do the trick temporarily, but if you really want a better life, fix your grill at Dr. Lee’s.

1317 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 731-9311


Dr. Scott Swanson, Parkside Chiropractic

Need a backiotomy? Head to Parkside Chiropractic, where Dr. Swanson will snap your spine back into action.

2394 31st Ave., SF. (415) 566-7134,


Joshua Alexander, CMT

He will listen to your body and honor what he hears with a plethora of techniques, including energy work modalities ranging from Swedish and deep tissue to shiatsu and polarity.

Castro and Market, SF. (415) 225-3460,


Pat’s Garage

Cars may never be as environmentally friendly as bicycles, but they get substantially closer at Pat’s, San Francisco’s premier green auto shop. Plus, organic coffee!

1090 26th St., SF. (415) 647-4500,


Dekko Salon

If you’re looking for a truly individualized experience, get your hair styled at swanky Dekko, San Francisco’s most luxurious hair and art gallery.

1325 Indiana, SF. (415) 285-8848,


Blue Turtle Spa

Cruelty-free skin products and beauty services for your worldly vessel. Animals shouldn’t have to suffer just so you can look pretty.

57 West Portal, SF. (415) 699-8494,


Anthony’s Shoe Repair

There’s nothing worse than showing up to a party in a scuffed-up pair of kicks. Anthony will restitch, resole, and stretch your shoes back to freshness.

30 Geary, SF. (415) 781-1338


Cable Car Tailors

Throw your thrift store finds in a bag with some oversize slacks and wait for CC Tailors to work their magic.

200 O’Farrell, SF. (415) 781-4636



Where else can you find someone actively seeking a “sex-positive, 420-friendly, artsy-fartsy new housemate who likes cats and cooks vegan”?


San Francisco SPCA

Rescuing distressed pooches and wayward felines since 1868, this SPCA outpost offers a stunning array of humane services.

2500 16th St., SF. (415) 554-3000,



Drink beer, eat food, and wash duds with stand-up comedians, SoMa punks, live bands, and swingers from nearby One Taste Urban Retreat Center.

1122 Folsom, SF. (415) 861-3663,


Bike Kitchen

Give a man a bike; he’ll ride until it breaks. Give him the tools to fix a bike (the Bike Kitchen’s raison d’être); he’ll ride for life.

1256 Mission, SF. (415) 255-2453,

City Living


We love the independents, and it doesn’t get much more independent than pirate radio. West Add Radio, on 93.7 FM, features some of the most adventurous musical programming in the city — from minimal techno crew Kontrol and Green Gorilla Lounge’s M3 to Cobain in a Coma, a show about music, celebrity gossip, and homo drug culture with a cult following, and Pancake Radio, with prolific DJ Ryan Poulsen. The advantage to flying under FCC radar? Anything goes — the seven dirty words, explicit lyrics, inappropriate banter, obscure kraut rock — if you’re lucky enough to pick up the signal. Otherwise, you can access the live stream and podcast archive online. (Hurray for the Internet.) In addition to its radio programming, West Add has become known for its parties, most significantly the monthly Italo-disco Ferrari at Deco Lounge, but also quirky nights such as “Merry Crass-mas,” a tribute to CRASS. West Add has also started releasing the free zine WAR in collaboration with Aquarius Records. Radio’s not dead!


Driving in these eco-conscious times may be unfortunate, but since 2002, when artists Harrell Fletcher and Jon Rubin stenciled fortunes into each of its parking spaces, the North Beach Parking Garage has offered a curious kind of hope. Some fortunes are cookie classics (“Opportunity is fleeting”). Others are enticingly bawdy (“There is a party inside you” abutting “Your lovers [plural] will never wish to leave you”). Some contain road rage management tips (“It is often better to not see insult than to avenge it”) or reality checks (“Your trouble is that you think you have time”). The best of ’em trigger intriguing dilemmas for the superstitious — do you cast a shadow over your day by parking in “A whisper separates friends”? Do you wait for “You are not a has-been” to become free? If you need to come up for air, hit the garage’s roof: its lovely view of Saints Peter and Paul Church and the Transamerica Pyramid (along with nearby Chinatown clotheslines) will wipe your mind clear of ontological philosophizing.

735 Vallejo, SF. (415) 399-9564


The Melvin M. Sweig Interfaith
Memorial Labyrinth: Best Amazing Journey Inward

The ancient mystical tradition of the labyrinth lives on in front of Grace Cathedral with the ostentatiously named Melvin M. Swig Interfaith Memorial Labyrinth. Laid out in terrazzo in the meditation garden to the left of the cathedral entrance is a replica of the medieval 11-circuit labyrinth on the floor of Chartres Cathedral. A labyrinth is not a maze; there is but one path, and it leads to the center. Yet as with so many other things in life (childhood, religion, partying), the point is the journey. The walk through the labyrinth is surprisingly long and circuitous, one well suited to embodying your preferred metaphor. It’s difficult not to be contemplative as you slowly wend your way through the three stages of the labyrinth: purgation (the walk in), illumination (standing at the center), and finally, union (walking out). You may not have achieved perfect spiritual balance by the time you exit, but you can’t help feeling slightly more enlightened.

1100 California, SF. (415) 749-6300,


Most people just throw their broken electronics in the trash. If your conscience won’t let you contribute to the 220 tons of e-waste dumped annually in the United States alone, consider hauling the dot matrix printer you’ve been guiltily hiding in the basement for the past 15 years to an electronics recycling service. Green Citizen boasts of its ability to recycle “anything with a plug.” CEO James Kao acknowledges that the actual output of reusable material is often small — consider alkaline batteries, which must be carefully broken down to get at a mere 3 mg of zinc. But the larger advantage is the safe disposal of the toxic substances within your cast-off gadgets, which can leach into the soil if left in landfills. Green Citizen even assigns a unique serial number to every item it recycles, so its various parts can be traced all the way to their final destinations. There’s a small fee for certain items, usually well under $10, but you’ll be a bit more free of guilt. Now about all that consumption …

591 Howard, SF. (415) 287-0000,


Forget the soothing new age music, bubbling indoor waterfalls, and arcane aromatherapy. Sometimes you’re broke, your back is full of knots, and all you want at the end of a rough week is a no-nonsense deep-tissue massage. At Jin Healing for Women a 60-minute full body will set you back $39 — or $30 if you buy a six-hour package. For that price, who cares if they don’t serve cucumber water or slather you in organic clay? The massage style falls somewhere between shiatsu and Swedish: the masseurs use oil, acupressure, and plenty of strength. The best part of the massage is arguably the hot towel treatment at the end. Some may complain that the place is too noisy — it’s not uncommon to hear the receptionist answering the phone or people talking outside — but it’s nothing that earplugs or an iPod can’t block out. While Jin Healing for Women is advertised as serving women only, some have found that men are not turned away if accompanied by a female friend or family member.

999 Powell, SF; 3557 Geary, SF. (415) 986-1111


It’s not easy being blue — especially if you’re short on green and your health insurance doesn’t cover mental health services. Or if you don’t have health insurance at all. Luckily, the California Institute for Integral Studies offers “mind-body-spirit” counseling and psychotherapy on a sliding scale based on your income. The friendly CIIS therapists are graduate students and postgraduate interns working under the supervision of an instructor. With five counseling centers across the city, each with its own specialty, CIIS has expertise in a wide range of “therapeutic orientations,” including somatic, transpersonal, psychodynamic, and gestalt, as well as more conventional modes of psychotherapy. The holistic approach and alternative fee system make CIIS an ideal counseling center for a city like San Francisco.


North Beach has come a long way since the days when Lawrence Ferlinghetti et al. drank gallons of cheap red wine at Caffe Trieste. Though it’s now more frat boy than the best minds of a generation starving, hysterical, and naked, North Beach does sometimes remember its poetic beat heritage. For a weekend each May, Kerouac Alley — recently repaved with cobblestones and stone tablets engraved with quotes by Western and Chinese poets — is home to dozens of emerging and established artists showcasing their recent work in the open air for Art in the Alley. Live music, painting, poetry, and sculpture bring back the creative bohemian buzz that enveloped North Beach before the blonde beer haze did, and the art is always on display at fab sponsor Vesuvio bar for a couple of weeks before the festival. Perhaps best of all, at the end of the alley is surreal karaoke bar Bow Bow’s, where bartender Mama Candy serves a mean Tokyo Tea. After some heady art and a couple of those, you’ll be shouting lines from Howl yourself.

Kerouac Alley, between Columbus and Broadway, SF.


Women’s products and services are all about euphemism. Douche becomes a feminine cleansing product; a period becomes “celebrating one’s femininity.” And of course, the bikini wax, or Brazilian, is really a way to get hair off your cha-cha. Lonni of Lonni’s Punani dispenses with all niceties with the candid name of her Potrero Hill waxing service. Her motto? “Keeping San Francisco smooth one pussy at a time.” The name and motto may be blunt, even crass, but the end results will indeed leave a woman’s naughty bits smooth and ingrown-free. Lonni, a certified aesthetician and a pastry chef with a degree in sociology, forgoes mood lighting and new age music for bright environs, a rocking soundtrack, and fingers quick enough to make you forget she’s ripping hair off your most sensitive regions. (House calls are also offered.) And she doesn’t just stick to the punani: “manzilians” are happily performed as well.

1756 18th St., SF. (415) 215-7678,


Master artists don’t always work on canvas or paper. Steven R. Young, BCO, uses little plastic orbs as his canvases. And his work never appears in museums: you see it on people’s faces, and most of the time, he’s so good you never know it’s there. Young paints eyes — false eyes, replacements for people who have lost a real eye to accidents, disease, or surgery. The ocularist gets referrals from the top surgeons in the Bay Area, but his studio hardly looks like a doctor’s office: he has the TV blaring much of the time, and he jokes around with his customers, particularly kids. In the end, though, he’s all business as he replicates, by hand, with tiny, fine brushes, the exact look of a customer’s companion eye, restoring much comfort and confidence. His shop also handles the fabrication and custom fitting. The results can be uncanny — we’ve known people who went to Young for a prosthesis, and even from very close you couldn’t tell the fake eye from the real one.

411 30th St., Oakl. (520) 836-2123,


Kelly Vogel at Float: Best Drug-Free Altered Stat

Sometimes other people are just too much to bear. And it’s always their fault, isn’t it? The guy at the liquor store forgets to stock your brand of cigarettes. Some yuppie in a fancy car nearly runs you off the road. Your manager fires you, your landlord evicts you, your friends diss you. Don’t you wish you could just make them all disappear for a while? Well, if you’ve ever seen the movie Altered States, you know all about sensory deprivation chambers, those weird water tanks psychology students use to study brain chemistry and sleep cycles. In a deprivation chamber you are utterly alone. Your body is suspended in warm water, your ears are submerged so you can’t hear a thing, and it’s totally dark, odorless, and soundproof. The entire world melts away, and you’re left with raw brain waves. Outside of a ketamine trip, it’s the most detached experience humanly possible. Lose yourself at Float, then, an art gallery with a room full of deprivation tanks.

1091 Calcot Place, Unit 116, Oakl. (510) 535-1702,


Everybody’s meetin’ Down at Lulu’s — for new clothes and a new hairdo. Co-owners Seth Bogart (of raunchy electro-rap band Gravy Train!!!) and Tina Lucchesi set up shop two years ago and describe the Down at Lulu’s ambience as “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls takes a field trip to the candy factory.” Which is another way of saying that this is a place for hot-blooded people who aren’t afraid of color or taking a dare. They’ll cut you — and you’ll like it! They’ll bleach you and they’ll blow you — dry — and you’ll come back for more! If you’re a girl, you can find the purse you love while you’re waiting for your dye job to set. If you’re a pouty-lipped boy with shaggy hair, ask them to style you like Matt Dillon circa 1979 and you’ll be sure to send a rebel army of crushes over the edge. Down at Lulu’s, that’s where it’s at.

6603 Telegraph, Oakl. (510) 601-0964,


Clancy Fear of Pedal Revolution:
Best Revolution on Wheels

You know, the hippies weren’t just dirty, fatuous potheads with annoying slogans and bad taste in clothes. They were also big into causes. You say you want a revolution? Well, c’mon — we all wanna change the world. There’s got to be an easier way than adopting a baby from Mali, you know? I mean, you’re gonna have to feed and water that kid for, like, 18 years — without the benefit of Brangelina’s army of nannies. How about this for a solution? Not only is Pedal Revolution a full-service bike shop, with both new and used rides, but it’s also a nonprofit that helps at-risk youth gain valuable skills to keep them off the streets. It accepts tax-deductible donations of bicycles, and for $30 a year you can become a member and work on your bike at the Community Membership Workbench, which will give you some skills and save you a bundle on repair costs. Also, the shop’s got really cool logo T-shirts, which means you can show you care without, you know, growing dreadlocks and playing hacky sack in Golden Gate Park.

3085 21st St., SF. (415) 641-1264,


Burning Man has inspired and elevated some amazing Bay Area artists over the years, but Peter Hudson, a.k.a. Hudzo, has become a star both on and off the playa using a unique medium: stroboscopic zoetropes. Hudzo is a San Francisco carpenter and stagehand who has designed sets for the San Francisco Opera, porn flicks, and the upcoming Milk movie. His first piece for Burning Man, Playa Swimmers, used strobe lights and precise molds of the human form to give the appearance of figures swimming in the desert sands. He’s returned every year with steadily more ambitious projects, which culminated last year in Homouroboros: a bicycle- and drum-powered carousel that conjured up the vision of a monkey swinging from limb to limb, then taking a bite from an apple delivered by a snake slithering down a vine. Installations in San Jose, Minneapolis, and other cities followed. Now Hudzo is busy putting together his next piece, Tantalus, working with a huge group of committed volunteers out of his SoMa home.


Imperial Spa: Best Purification Scrub-down

Housed in a fortresslike former bank building with a forbiddingly windowless exterior, Imperial Spa is easy to mistake for a more, ahem, sensual retreat than it is. This traditional Korean spa, however, turns out to be a model citizen, complete with hot and cold pools; an array of sauna rooms, including an ultratoasty “yellow clay fomentation” space; and its own unforgettable twist: a “purification” body scrub that essentially takes off the top layer of epidermis. Women lie on plastic-lined tables with little to hide behind apart from a teensy towel draped over the booty, while industrious ladies in black bras and panties soak them down, then proceed to zealously scrub every single part of the body with what feels like a scouring pad. And that means every part — parts that you never imagined being attacked with such vigor. Don’t be afraid; don’t be very afraid — you’ll never feel silkier than when you emerge, after an application of milky essential oils, cleaner than you’ve ever felt. Men are also welcome, although their purification scrub is administered by a man, minus the bra and panties.

1875 Geary, SF. (415) 771-1114,


It’d be far too easy and predictable for the Guardian to give Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius a sarcastic Best of the Bay award for spending the last year beating up the homeless and their advocates in a succession of articles. But Nevius reached a new level of hilarity April 10. When the controversial Olympic torch made its way to San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom was so worried pro-Tibetan demonstrators would clash with supporters of Beijing and the Olympic Games that he clandestinely diverted the torch’s route at the last minute. The result, according to Nevius, is that the swelling crowds of people who were defending China near the ballpark, where the torch was originally expected to pass, didn’t threaten the critics of China’s human rights record. In other words, Nevius seemed to imply that Newsom saved free speech. Uh, yeah. All the red flags in the world are no match for the colossal figures who appeared in San Francisco to support Tibet and condemn Beijing — including actor Richard Gere and motherfucking Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Tutu, you might recall, sleeps with a Nobel Peace Prize around his neck. The pro-Tibet movement doesn’t need Gavin Newsom. Nice try, though, Nevius.


Ever-lurking danger in the streets means that many city kids barely leave their own block, let alone experience the pleasure of long bike rides. But thanks to Cycles of Change, East Bay youth are learning how to venture through the urban jungle and beyond safely on two wheels. The 10-year-old collective, headed by Maya Carson and Grey Goykolevzon, draws inspiration from the famed Bikes Not Bombs project and other like-minded organizations. Run in the basements of approximately 13 Alameda County schools, COC takes kids on training rides and shows them how to obey the rules of the road and navigate safe routes from home to school. Serious bike club members pedal up into the hills on longer rides and also learn marketable skills like bicycle repair and how to run their own after-school programs. The organization, soon to be a nonprofit, would love you to donate any unwanted nonrusty, functional bikes to its bike shop in Alameda.

(510) 595-4625,


It takes a girl to understand the issues other girls face today regarding relationships, body image, pregnancy, and parents who don’t understand, or can’t help, or worse, abuse them. It also takes a girl who’s worn those shoes to know how to help another girl get where she wants to go. For the past 10 years, the young women who run GirlSource have been training local low-income teens for their future, by teaching them how to build a Web site, digitally edit photos, take leadership roles, and express themselves through writing. The results are impressive. After receiving SAT prep and counseling on all the teen issues that can thwart potential co-eds, most of the girls participating in the program go on to attend college, where GirlSource continues to support them. Some of them come back to offer peer counseling to new girls coming up, thus completing an important cycle in creating better community.

1550 Bryant, Ste. 675, SF. (415) 252-8880,


Before you run down to Best Buy for a new laptop or television set, check out Midtown Loan, San Francisco’s most respected and experienced (50 years in the biz!) pawnshop and cash-advance boutique, for better deals. Conveniently located on beautiful Sixth Street, right where the Civic Center and Tenderloin neighborhoods join up with SoMa at Market Street, Midtown Loan stocks only the finest used jewelry, timepieces, diamonds, tools, and electronics. But that’s not all. Midtown Loan is a working person’s dream come true: a place where you can actually trade your unwanted luxury items for cold hard cash and even get a cash advance on your next paycheck while you’re at it. Got an extra MacBook Pro lying around? A Rolex you never wear? Throw the whole bundle into a dirty backpack and run down to Midtown Loan before your snooty neighbors catch on.

39 Sixth St., SF. (415) 362-5585,


The Unity Foundation, a lively nonprofit, was founded in 1976 to keep the flames of the l960s alive and “promote world peace, cooperation, and unity.” Its founder and president, Bill McCarthy, is a classic ’60s entrepreneur, renowned for producing the stunningly successful 20th- and 30th-anniversary Summer of Love celebrations in Golden Gate Park. Unity accomplishes its ambitious mission through cultural and educational events, media campaigns, and a monthly television program on SF Access, channel 29, called Positive Spin, which is produced by McCarthy himself. Unity hosts annual Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for children in the Mission District, organizes a weekly street-cleaning program, and has thrown three Unity Fairs in the Mission. The foundation also puts together special public service announcements for the United Nations and presents UN-specific segments on its TV program. McCarthy recently set up his own camera crew to get exclusive coverage of a speech by UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon at San Francisco’s World Affairs Council. The United Nations Association, a grassroots UN support group, has recognized Unity with its top national citizenship award.

744 Treat, SF. (415) 550-1092,


Isn’t it time you stopped just eating healthy and started eating with a conscience? Eat with the Seasons can help you do just that. The community-supported agriculture program, developed a few years ago by farm-family descendant Becky Herbert, delivers locally grown, sustainably produced, high quality organic foods to a drop-off point near you. In conjunction with farms located in San Benito and Santa Cruz counties, Eat with the Seasons assembles personalized produce boxes stamped and sealed with your name on them. Every week you choose what seasonal fresh produce you feel inclined to graze on, how many cage-free eggs you want to fry up, the amount of fair trade coffee you can slurp down, and how much grass-fed beef you fancy barbecuing. Then the Seasons folks collect it all, wrap it up, and deliver it to various drop-off locations in the Bay Area. That means next Sunday you can sleep in without worrying about being late to the farmers market snatch-and-grab.

(831) 245-8125,


Owing to an unfortunate blip in city zoning laws, alleyways less than 32 feet wide don’t count as — or get spruced up as — streets, and for years Chinatown’s alleys were dark, dirty, and dangerous. Enter Adopt-an-Alleyway, whose youthful volunteers, all from local high schools and colleges, beautify and monitor the neighborhood’s walkways, issuing regular “alleyway report cards” to the local press. AAA also runs the Chinatown Alleyway Walking Tour, which squires you along the back streets under the guidance of locals aged 16 through 23. You’ll get a dose of sightseeing and some interesting nuggets of history — such as the fact that Waverly Place was once known as Fifteen-Cent Lane because of its multiplicity of cheap, queue-braiding barbers, and that Spofford Alley was home to Sun Yat-sen’s secret revolutionary headquarters. You’ll also get honest opinions about an aging neighborhood from young people interested in civil rights and housing issues, and who provide an emotional connection and a real sense of place to tourists, of all people. You may, however, also get a good-natured lecture on litter (meddling kids).

(415) 984-1478,


When you walk into the lovely surroundings of the Mindful Body holistic health, fitness, and well-being studio in Pacific Heights, the first thing you notice is the silence. The receptionists speak like calm kindergarten teachers, and you find yourself moving more carefully and opening doors as if they might break. The place oozes relaxation — even the bathrooms, equipped with shower stalls and clean robes, smell ultra-aromatherapeutic. “Through a consistent practice of ‘mindful’ or focused activities, we learn how to tap into our inner intelligence and make choices leading to a life of integrity, fulfillment, peace and harmony,” says founder Roy Bergmann. OK, then! As long as it comes with a back rub. Yoga classes for $15 (with price breaks for memberships and packages) and $70-per-hour massages are definitely a draw here, and the services offered, including the not-as-scary-as-it-sounds Chinese organ massage, or chi nei tsang, are top-notch and myriad. But it’s the highly qualified and serenity-minded staff that really make the Mindful Body a bargain. The friendly teachers, facilitators, and masseurs are worth their weight in Zen.

2876 California, SF. (415) 931-2639,


In an ideal world, every public school in America would have a music program, complete with appreciation classes, live performances, instruction in playing instruments, and a full curriculum of classical, contemporary, and multicultural styles. Until this utopian vision is realized, though, at least we have Adventures in Music, the San Francisco Symphony’s fantastic community education program. Operating in partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District, the program has been working with students in first-through-fifth grades for five years, training teachers to integrate music into their classrooms, providing kids with instruments and educational supplies, presenting participatory in-school performances four times a year, and bringing classes on a field trip to Davies Symphony Hall for a special concert. AIM encourages students to learn musical concepts and terminology, to become familiar with the sight and sound of different musical instruments, and to understand critical listening as well as music as a medium of artistic expression. And yes, AIM’s education bridges musical genres, ranging from Western classical to traditional Chinese.

(415) 552-8000,


Western medicine is great for acute problems — like, say, restarting your ticker after a heart attack. But for chronic, systemic, or difficult-to-diagnose ailments, the Eastern approach still seems to have the market cornered on treatments that actually work. (This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.) Acupuncture, acupressure, herbal remedies, medical qigong, and a variety of movement and body work techniques ease the pain of sleep disorders, headaches, chronic fatigue, and joint injuries for many. Which is why we love Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College, a Berkeley institution that not only trains future practitioners but also provides consistent, affordable clinic services to the community. Student workers are skilled and well supervised — but if you’re still not comfortable with them, you can work with a pro for a slightly higher price. The relief you may find from your migraines or your tennis elbow, though, will be priceless.

2250 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 666-8234,


They say that once you learn how to ride a bike, you’re pretty much set for life — until the tire pops, your bar tape frays, and the shifting gets a little funky. A bicycle repair class can be a daunting thing, but Dan Thomases’s Bike Maintenance in Three Parts,” offered every three months or so, clears an essential path toward demystifying your rock hopper or 10-speed. The three-part series is run out of Box Dog Bikes, a Mission shop co-owned by Thomases, and takes you from repairing flats to replacing cables and trueing wheels. The Sunday-evening classes are cheap, and more important, small — making for lots of individualized instruction and talk therapy between you, Thomases, and your bike. Thomases says he was inspired by his dentist dad, who schools his patients on preventative maintenance. “I’m hoping the classes will give people an idea of what it takes to be responsible for your bike.”

494 14th St., SF. (415) 431-9627,




Green Apple

With thousands of dirt-cheap books, CDs, and DVDs, Green Apple is worth visiting for the witty staff picks alone.

506 Clement, SF. (415) 387-2272,

Best Independent Bookstore runners up: Books, Inc., City Lights

Best Used Bookstore runners up: Dog-Eared Books, Aardvark



Mainstream comics are represented at Isotope, but its raison d’être is small-press, independent, and self-published varieties.

326 Fell, SF. (415) 621-6543,

Runners up: Whatever, Al’s Comics


Fog City News

Nibble designer chocolates while you sift through a staggering selection of magazines, including more than 700 foreign titles.

455 Market, SF. (415) 543-7400,

Runners up: Issues, Farley’s



This Mission District shop, specializing in fantasy, horror, and science fiction, hosts an author nearly every week.

866 Valencia, SF. (415) 824-8203,

Runners up: Babylon Falling, Get Lost


Amoeba Music

A Bay Area institution, Amoeba features a formidable vinyl collection and bargain bins overflowing with cheap used CDs.

1855 Haight, SF. (415) 831-1200; 2455 Telegraph, Berk. (510) 549-1125;

Best Place to Buy Vinyl runners up: Grooves, Open Mind

Best Place to Buy CDs runners up: Rasputin, Streetlight Records


Le Video

Conceived when the Parisian owner couldn’t find the cult and foreign films she craved, Le Video is known for its large, eclectic inventory.

1231 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 566-3606,

Runners up: Lost Weekend, Faye’s



Ambiance junkies love the store’s dedicated staff and massive selection, stretching across several budget octaves and featuring brands like Free People, BCBG, and Betsey Johnson.

1458 Haight, SF. (415) 552-5095; 3985 24th St., SF. (415) 647-7144; 1864 Union, SF. (415) 923-9797;

Runners up: Crossroads Trading Co., Brownies Vintage


Indie Industries

The pared-down Berkeley storefront features prints, graphic tees, hoodies, and dresses by in-house artisans, plus anime-inspired kitsch.

2003 Milvia, Berk. (510) 549-3285,

Runners up: Cable Car Clothiers, Five and Diamond


Chloe’s Closet

Visit Chloe’s for the big selection, sweet Bernal Heights location, and homey atmosphere that’s earned it accolades four years running.

451 Cortland, SF. (415) 642-3300,

Runners up: Little Fish, Pumpkin


Nicacelly: Best Local Designer


Nicacelly’s designs are as colorful and eclectic as San Francisco itself — imagine a schizophrenic geisha sightseeing in Thailand while moonlighting as a hip-hop DJ. You can find her styles at True, Upper Playground, and Density, among other locations.

Runners up: Linda Pham, Sunhee Moon


Brownies Vintage

Brownies has an unusual specialty: deadstock vintage that’s never been washed or worn. The unassuming shop also carries new styles by local and independent designers.

2001 Milvia, Berk. (510) 548-5955,

Runners up: La Rosa, Painted Bird


Thrift Town

Thrift Town’s not your tame little vintage boutique — it’s a massive beast of a thrift store, with a huge selection and dizzyingly low prices.

2101 Mission, SF. (415) 861-1132,

Runners up: Community Thrift, Out of the Closet


Shoe Biz

If Kelly of YouTube fame were to shop at any of these footwear outlets, he/she could have only one response: these shoes rule.

1446 Haight, SF. (415) 864-0990; 877 Valencia, SF. (415) 550-8655; 3810 24th St., SF. (415) 821-2528,

Runners up: Gimme Shoes, Rabat



Propeller mixes whimsy, beauty, and function in its showroom, featuring items like ceramic deer-head wall hangings, a chair made to look duct-taped, and dishes that look like they’re in motion.

555 Hayes, SF. (415) 701-7767,

Runners up: Zonal, Monument



Perfect for buying your home’s centerpiece item or simply getting inspiration, Monument has an impressive selection of modern and deco furniture.

572 Valencia, SF. (415) 861-9800,

Runners up: The Apartment, X-21


Alemany Flea Market

Smaller than Alameda’s but more charming, the Sunday Alemany market is a haven for hipsters seeking ironic art, vintage housewares, old tools, and antique art-projects-to-be.

100 Alemany, SF. (415) 647-2043

Runners up: Alameda, Ashby


Cole Hardware

Friendly staff, an impressive selection, and convenient locations have made this independently owned shop a Bay Area favorite since 1920.

956 Cole, SF. (415) 753-2653; 3312 Mission, SF. (415) 647-8700; 70 Fourth St., SF. (415) 777-4400

2254 Polk, SF. (415) 674-8913;

Runners up: Brownie’s, Cliff’s


Ambassador Toys

A wonderland of toys, puzzles, coloring books, vintage race cars, collectible dolls, and other unique gifts for kids, Ambassador further charms shoppers with free gift wrapping.

186 West Portal, SF. (415) 759-8697; 2 Embarcadero Center, lobby level, SF.

(415) 345-8697,

Runners up: The Ark, Mr. Mopps


Natural Resources

Encouraging mindfulness in pregnancy and child rearing, Natural Resources is an eco-boutique as well as an educational resource.

1367 Valencia, SF. (415) 550-2611,

Runners up: Day One, Chloe’s Closet


Bernal Beast

Locals love Bernal Beast’s courteous staff, merchandise selection, unique treats (antlers as a chew toy!), and fantastic raw food section.

509 Cortland, SF. (415) 643-7800,

Runners up: Best in Show, Noe Valley Pet Co.


Paxton Gate

A more eclectic selection of bones, stones, taxidermy, rare plants, and oddball collectibles than Paxton’s could only exist in a gothic novel.

824 Valencia, SF. (415) 824-1872,

Runners up: Heartfelt, Wishbone


Sports Basement

Whether it’s yoga mats, running shorts, tennis rackets, or basketballs you need, this is the place to get them — and often at warehouse prices.

1590 Bryant, SF. (415) 575-3000; 610 Mason, SF. (415) 437-0100;

Runners up: See Jane Run, Lombardi’s



It’s difficult to find a retailer with a better selection of outdoor gear, from trek shoes to white-water rafting oars — and the return policy for members is unmatched.

840 Brannan, SF. (415) 934-1938,

Runners up: Sports Basement, Wilderness Exchange


Mike’s Bikes

Mike’s does sell bikes and gear, but it’s best known and loved for its knowledgeable, reliable, and friendly service staff.

1233 Howard, SF. (415) 241-2453, Valencia Cyclery, American Cyclery


Rainbow Grocery

Featuring organic produce at good prices, natural bath and body products, and a selection of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and other specialty items, Rainbow pleases a full spectrum of shoppers.

1745 Folsom, SF. (415) 863-0620,

Runners up: Elephant Pharmacy, Spring

Shopping — Editors Picks


Sui Generis: Best Sui, Sharp and Sweet

Despite the vast numbers of stylish males who haunt our fair burg, shopping for menswear in San Francisco can be a real downer. You’re either pummeled with dopey high-end “designer” street labels à la G-Star or forced to piece together a credible look from scattershot resale sources — not a bad option in itself, except that every other subculturally fashion-conscious Y-chromosomer is usually elbowing you out of the way to get to the good stuff. Enter Sui Generis, a boutique of impeccably vetted men’s vintage wear on Church Street (another location, featuring dressier consignment duds, recently opened on Market Street). The Generis gentlemen hand-select a dossier of ultrasharp hand-me-down duds that poke the up-on-it eye with longing — rare and perfect tees, plaids of fondest dreams, jeans that scream “do me,” fedoras, scarves, footwear, more — and force us to re-evaluate our look every time we glance up at its display windows. A good thing, then, that Sui’s also manageably affordable. And one-of-a-kind cache is part of the value: no chance of running into your twin from Rolo or Nomads, here.

218 Church, SF. (415) 436-9661; 2265 Market, SF. (415) 437-2265,


Sure, Valencia Cyclery has a whole store full of bikes, locks, tools, lubricants, and clothes at their 1077 Valencia showroom, but what makes them so magical is the 1065 Valencia repair shop. They opened in 1985, which means if you need a roller cam on an early Suntour mountain bike brake, a rebuild kit for a Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub, or just a hard-to-find nut with an odd thread pitch, you’re stoked. The back rooms have shelves and drawers full of every imaginable wingding and doohickey for your two-wheeled best friend — and if what you need isn’t there, the manager will order it. The mechanics are actually people you’d trust to work on your bike, not ham-handed hacks with their thumbs on backwards. And best of all, they explain things in plain English, not cooler-than-thou biker-ese.

1065 and 1077 Valencia, SF. (415) 550-6600,

Sara Brownell and Nici Williams of
Brew Holster Cult: Best Beer Helmet


You’d think hipsters would’ve come up with an answer to beer helmets ages ago. But it wasn’t until saucy AC/DShe rock ‘n’ roll vixens Nici and Sarah began to face technical tippling difficulties at their shows — including drenched T-shirts and wet amps — that the Brew Holster was born. The studded leather gun sling, created by the girls in their backyard chop shop, kept the rockers’ drinks close and off their clothes while still looking badass. So how to join the Brew Holster Cult? Simply buy one off the Web site and wear it to backyard BBQs, outdoor concerts, all-night barhops, or wherever you need to rock out with your cock out or jam out with your clam out — without losing your booze. Brew it to it!


Quaint, antique- and decor-store-lined Jackson Square got a little chicer — and a little more fashionista-friendly — when Carrots moved into the gracious hood. Sisters Melissa and Catie Grimm named their sublime boutique, tongue firmly placed in cheek, after the petite veggies that built their family’s business, Grimmway. Yet we couldn’t be further from the farm amid Carrots’ lofty yet elegant, European-inspired mix of antiques and industrial decor touches. Visitors are welcome to sip an espresso beneath the zinc 19th-century chandelier while browsing the wares of such covetable young designers as Thakoon, Stella McCartney, Narcisco Rodriguez, Vanessa Bruno, and Peter Som. Men can also find fashion respite courtesy of such desirables as Band of Outsiders, Obedient Sons, and Rag & Bone. The free mini carrot-cake cupcake isn’t your only reward for stopping by and discovering the ideal piece.

843 Montgomery, SF. (415) 834-9040,


Chances are, if you’re at all familiar with the Bay Area metal scene, you’ve crossed paths with Shaxul, proprietor of Shaxul Records. In addition to distributing and releasing local and rare metal albums, Shaxul hosts a monthly radio show on KUSF (all-metal, natch) and runs a snug storefront on Haight Street, boldly perched opposite the megasize Amoeba Records. The walls are black and decorated with all manner of posters and T-shirts (including a particularly rad High on Fire tee that is sold out on every Internet vendor you might think of). The shelves are packed with vinyl (them things you put on a record player, kids!), CDs, DVDs, and more. And you ain’t gonna find no wimpy selections here: Shaxul almost exclusively stocks bands with names that’d scare your grandma, with brutal sounds to match. Both current (Saros, Hammers of Misfortune, Asunder) and classic (Death, Exodus, Testament) acts are well represented. Emo kids stay home! Everyone else, horns up.

1816 Haight, SF. (415) 831-5334,


Helen Keller once said, “Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.” Which may be true, but she forgot to add that it can also be used to accumulate money, secure a long life, and get back at your ex for blowing your housemate. The aromatic candles, incense, and powders at Yoruba Botanica, a Santeria store in the Mission District, have been imbued with a potent form of South American sorcery, so choose your scents wisely. You don’t want to mistakenly buy a death candle for your arthritic grandmother, or some romance dust for your creepy bi-curious roommate. A consultation with one of the women who run Yoruba Botanica will ensure you get the correct smell for your purposes. And for a small fee, they’ll take you in back, read your fortune, and maybe even tell you how to score more ass.

998 Valencia, SF. (415) 826-4967


The Mission Indie Mart, a roaming thrift store, local design showcase, and barbecue that takes place monthly in backyards and at dive bars throughout the Mission District was dreamt up by Kelly Malone, a tattooed hipster chick with three lifelong obsessions: DIY fashion, hard drinking, and good times. Sadly, while her hobbies did wonders for her social life, they caused quite a stir at the Gap, where Malone had been working for more than 10 years. So she set up her own business. Her brainchild has become a staple of Mission dwelling: a monthly opportunity to mingle with artists, musicians, fashion designers, misfits, and fall-down drunks like the founder herself, whose hourly announcements at MIM evolve throughout the day from straightforward information to inebriated performance art. Her best line to date: “The bathrooms are in the back, the T-shirts are in the corner, and the vodka is in my belly. Now come on stage and let’s get naked, bitches. Wooo!”


Charlie’s chocolate factory may be pure fiction, but Miette Confisserie is pure magic. This Hayes Valley confectioner, sister to the Ferry Building’s Miette Patisserie, brings European decadence and childlike devotion to the candy-shop concept. Walls are lined floor-to-ceiling with apothecary jars filled with imported boiled sweets, Dutch licorice, saltwater taffy, fine chocolates, and buttery caramels — all of which can be packaged in custom boxes tied with satin ribbons. But you don’t have to take your treats home. Miette hosts children’s birthday parties, complete with ballerinas, storytelling, and pony rides. Not a breeder? Adults can play too, with private evening fetes featuring champagne and cotton candy. Either option is ideal, considering Miette’s decor is as winsome as its sweets: if the perfectly salted walnut shortbread doesn’t charm you, the black-and-white checkerboard floor surely will.

449 Octavia, SF. (415) 626-6221


Alternative economies sound nice in political lectures at the University of California, Santa Cruz, but they rarely thrive in real life. Sure, there are little free markets that crop up in cities across the world, but they’re usually full of questionable scavengers, dirty hippies, and slumming rich kids temporarily rebelling against “the Man.” And then there’s the stuff they trade — the idea that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure just doesn’t hold water when you see the usual pile of broken plates, outdated VCRs, and defunct Web site promo T-shirts. But thanks to the hipsters behind SwapSF, one experimental trade economy seems to be working. Their secret? Alcohol and music, of course. SwapSF is a seasonal warehouse party that charges $5 and a bag of clothes for entry. It’s a small price to pay for access to dope beats, an open bar, and all the cool togs your friends bought and never wore.


Many people are frightened of French wine, particularly the indecipherable and austere-looking labels — but not you. When your friend goes to a Halloween costume party as an uncorked bottle of Château d’Yqem, you are savvy enough to be amused. You are also savvy enough to know where to find deals on French (and other European) wines — which can still be found despite the dollar’s collapse against the euro: The Wine House. The warehousey setting on the northern foot of Potrero Hill assures you that it’s not ambience or fancy shelving you’re paying for. The staff is knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly. And there are plenty of offerings from Burgundy, Bordeaux, and lesser-known winegrowing regions, especially those in the south of France. Many wines are priced near $5 a bottle, making them competitive with Trader Joe’s plonk. Best of all are regular case discounts, from 10 percent on up, along with occasional case specials (often on fine Côtes du Rhône) even more drastically discounted.

129 Carolina, SF. (415) 355-9463,


Ensure the longevity of both your children and the world they’ll grow up in at Mabuhay Kids, an eco-friendly baby boutique in Noe Valley named for the Filipino phrase for “long life.” Sporting eco-friendly, safe, and stylish attire from global and local designers, Mabuhay (pronounced “ma-boo-hi”) is a must for JAKC’s organic baby blankets, Stubby Pencil Studio’s soy crayons, and much more. Why trick out your toddlers with gun-toting G.I. Joes or sweatshop OshKosh B’Gosh overalls when you can provide them with sustainably harvested rubber tree tricycles or duds from Ses Petites Mains, who make organic French fashions for little ladies? In light of massive baby product recalls, this is a shop whose wares you can trust — whether your moppet’s got ’em on her bod or in his mouth. Plus, for Noe dwellers, it’s just one biodiesel stroller ride away.

195 Church, SF. (415) 970-0369,


A bookstore that sells mysteries shouldn’t be clean and well-lighted. It should look and smell and feel like it came out of the dark streets of Victorian London. And although the San Francisco Mystery Bookstore isn’t by any means dingy or dank, it’s got that wonderful cluttered feel of a place owned by someone who loves books and tolerates a bit of chaos. There are paperback mysteries everywhere — in the shelves, on the windowsill, stacked up by the cash register, tucked away in the back. They’re brand-new, used, or very old and valuable. There are selections by famous authors and some by writers you’ve never heard of. And best of all, the people who work there are as obsessed with whodunits as we are — they seem to have read everything by everybody and are happy to talk, recommend, critique, or chat. Or are they?

4175 24th St., SF. (415) 282-7444,


Bike Yard: Best Bargain Beater Motorcycles

The Bike Yard is every would-be sick boy’s dream come true: a used bike dealership, run by Francisca Feribert, a petite German mechanic who repairs totaled motorcycles and sells ’em cheap. Surrounded by ivy-covered brick warehouses and highway overpasses, the Yard feels like a piece of the country plopped down on the east side of Potrero Hill. Motorcycles and scooters in various states of repair look like they’ve been poured into the cyclone-fenced lot, where they’ve washed up against the sides of a gypsy caravan-style wagon, a small, corrugated metal workshop, racks of tires, and a tattered, sun-bleached Winnebago — all protected by Feribert’s guard goose, Helga. This licensed dealership even handles registration and sells helmets, so you can get riding as soon as you’ve got the scrill. Plus, beaters are especially good for first-timers, who need not wreck a $1,000 ride the first time they drop it.

851 Tennessee, SF. (415) 821-3941,


If you like Banana Republic’s simple, well-fitting, flattering clothes but not its reputation for using child labor and cutting down old-growth forests, you’ll love Sunhee Moon. This independent local designer with a “less is more” attitude uses such high quality fabrics and tailored, classic designs that you’ll hardly bat an eyelash at the price tags (tops run between $48 and $118). Women of all body types can find basics in simple, solid colors that somehow manage to maintain a hip, San Francisco-style sensibility. These are cute, modern clothes for home-based creative types who want to feel a bit dressed up, or for professionals working in the Financial District — who are probably the people who can afford to shop here regularly. But if you’re sick of ill-fitting T-shirts and corporate-shopping guilt, an occasional splurge at Moon is well worth the sacrifice.

2059 Union; 3167 16th St.; 1833 Fillmore, SF. (415) 922-1800,


Whether you’re headed to Club Meat at DNA Lounge, a Fall Out Boy concert, or simply a party full of squares where you’ll be the token “edgy” guy, there’s nothing to make a man feel sexy like a smudge of black kohl around the eyes. But who wants to defile his delicate emo lids with chemical-laden mainstream makeup? Not you. That’s where Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy comes in. This Cole Valley cosmetic emporium features shelf after shelf and wall after wall of beauty products that won’t take a toll on either the planet or your face. There’s even a male makeup artist to give you tips, as well as a dizzying array of browsing-friendly herbal remedies, magazines, and health-related tchotchkes to occupy your friends who refuse to wear guyliner. Oh, and ladies can shop here too.

925 Cole, SF. (415) 661-1216,


Any savvy shopper knows you have to refuel midday if you want to hit all the sales before closing. But there’s no need to resort to food courts and burger stands. Tucked away down Claude Lane, just blocks from Union Square, is Café Claude. Dining at the clandestine café is like spending an afternoon in Paris — arguably the best shopping city in the world — and has similarly replenishing effects (without the price or carbon footprint of a flight to France). Sit inside to enjoy a daily special amid the zinc bar, period travel posters, and vintage tables all rescued from an actual Parisian café. Or refuel with soupe l’oignon, salade Niçoise, and charcuterie et fromage on the petite heated patio. Weary shoppers can also enjoy a full bar and daily happy hours from 4 to 6 p.m. After all, you might need a glass of Sancerre — or a shot of St. Germain — before you take a second glance at your receipt from Neiman Marcus.

7 Claude Lane, SF. (415) 392-3505


It’s likely you’ve never stepped inside Lark in the Morning, unless you’re a musician with highly specialized needs. (Bagpipe reeds? Musical saws? Chinese opera gongs? It’s got ’em.) Time to change that! Though it does most of its business via mail order and its Web site, Lark recently moved from tourist-choked Fisherman’s Wharf to cozier digs in the Mission District, where the diverse inventory of ethnic instruments covers the walls, fills floor space, and hangs from every available ceiling hook. Adventurous beginners (including kids) and pros alike can find what they need here. And unlike certain big-chain instrument stores, Lark is staffed by musicians who are excited to share their knowledge with fellow artists, budding and otherwise. Just don’t test-drive anything by playing “Smoke on the Water” or “Dueling Banjos” — the staff might have to pull a Wayne’s World on you and request a song they aren’t subjected to on a daily basis.

1453 Valencia, SF. (415) 922-4277,


Like Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” vision of a sunny pleasure dome filled with caves of ice, Rare Device, that bright little Hayes Valley shop on Market Street, exhibits gorgeous and amazing things. Things, (as the poem says, of course), of rare device. This San Francisco find is actually the sister of a Brooklyn establishment running under the same moniker, and both focus on designer objets d’art from around the world. Stop by once and your list of must-gets could go something like this: Japanese tea cups carved from single blocks of wood, a mouth-blown wine glass with an inverted stem, and a linen silk-screened pillow for your dreamy head. Things you must give as gifts range from the perplexing knitted bowl with a porcelain center to the mind-blowingly obvious bottle opener that says “open.” Well, how else are you going to pop the lid of that milk of paradise at the next housewarming party?

1845 Market, SF. (415) 863-3969,


In Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, it is the magic of nature, experienced privately, that transforms Mary and Colin into blossoming children. Though Vines Café is not officially a secret, the quaint coffee house and gallery’s proximity to the typically quiet Thomson’s Nursery next door seems to have a similar effect on patrons. Sitting on the patio of the converted Victorian, one might find time standing still: hummingbirds hover midair to drink nectar from red-flowered pineapple sage while bees and butterflies flit from the lavender to the lemon geraniums to the foxglove plants below. ‘Tis a place that seems built for writing in a diary, reading a fanciful novel, or sketching a whimsical landscape. And if contemplation isn’t your thing, you can occupy yourself by browsing Vine’s antique jewelry gallery upstairs or choosing which petunias you’ll take home with you. Just don’t tell Mr. Craven where you got ’em.

1113 Lincoln, Alameda. (510) 522-8489


Babylon Falling: Best Bookstore for Aspiring Activists

Mark Twain said, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read,” which means that if you ever want to actually learn anything from books, you’re gonna have to get some decent lit. But you don’t need to waste your time surfing on Amazon or searching through library stacks (gasp!) — the rebel academics at Babylon Falling have already done all the work for you. If you really want to learn how to be as subversive as Che Guevara or Chuck D, pop into Babylon and check out its selection of revolutionary literature, graphic novels, art, and music. Babylon also carries a huge assortment of toys, artwork, clothing, and DVDs to complement its collection of more than 3,000 book titles. Plus, it hosts readings, art shows, and signings by literate revolutionaries from the Bay Area and beyond. Babylon will never fall if its citizens learn to read good. You can quote us on that.

1017 Bush, SF. (415) 345-1017,


Jeremy’s is what all fashion discounters should aspire to be — fluorescent lights, foul dressing rooms, and lack of mirrors be damned. Brick-lined, filled with well-weathered wood and retro fixtures, built like an aging beauty of a department store, and chock-full of full-tilt high fashion and fun bargains, Jeremy’s is catnip to the clothes fiend who has all the desires of an haute couture client but few of the funds. It’s all here, kids: Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni, McQueen, Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Marc Jacobs, Marc Jacobs — all well-edited and last season or older. You wouldn’t guess it, of course. The men’s collections are similarly high style, though often much more pecked over. Pity the poor manly fashionisto in search of a deal elsewhere — you’ll find them here. Also worth perusing are the always delightful collections of unique shoes and boots, junior lines (often culled from Anthropologie and its ultracute, vintage-inspired brand), and accessories, jewelry, bags, and housewares. Items come and go, but, man, do they speed out of the store when Jeremy’s all-store sales are in full effect.

2 South Park, SF. (415) 882-4929; 2967 College, Berk. (510) 849-0701,


Toss the tacky Axe body spray, lose that horrid Aveda sheen, forget dropping oodles of dough on some designer-brand swill that looks better in its fancy bottle then on your handsome man-skin — Nancy Boy products are the real deal when it comes to male image enhancement. Manufactured locally and distributed from a lovely shop in Hayes Valley that also functions as a gallery of rare and covetable glassware, the all-natural line for men features several enormously popular products for local luxury lovers, including an inimitable signature replenishing shave cream infused with natural steam-distilled extract of fresh cucumbers (“not some ‘idea of cucumber’ concocted in some chemistry lab,” the makers assure us), a wildly fab lavender laundry detergent, and myriad other beauty products — not just for metrosexuals and A-gays! They work on scruffy hipsters and women too! — that we never thought we’d come to depend on so much. An extra treat: co-founder Eric Roos’ occasional hilarious, politically satirical newsletter that keeps us in stitches. Who knew beauty could be so spot-on?

347 Hayes, SF. (415) 552-3802,


Jeannine Giordan believes that pet stores are places humans should want to shop in, and that pet food should be made of ingredients animals actually want to eat. So radical! So revolutionary! And, in the case of Giordan’s brand new pet boutique Hazel and Gertie’s, so cute! Housed on the bottom floor of a Victorian on 22nd Street, the shop is clean, airy, and punctuated by tastefully, carefully collected displays of products for four-legged friends, from beds for your beagle to collars for your chartreux. Most impressive, though, is the selection of pet foods, including healthy, organic items by California Natural, Innova, Newman’s Own, and Wysong and raw food by San Francisco–based smallbatch. But Hazel and Gertie’s — named for Giordan’s dogs — is more than just a store. It’s also the outpost for Giordan’s dog-walking business, Gooddog, as well as a self-serve washing station (tub, water, towel, apron, and all-natural soap provided for $15). Giordan even gives referrals for other pet-related services.

3385 22nd St., SF. (415) 401-9663,


You refuse to get your wedding dress off the rack, so why buy your guestbook at Target? Especially when Kozo Arts can make you a custom book as special as your ceremony? This small bindery in Cow Hollow specializes in Japanese-style journals, invitations, scrapbooks, photo albums, and guest books, all handmade by one of Kozo’s five artisans. You choose from a wall of gorgeous screen-printed Chiyogami papers, pick a matching imported silk binding fabric, and order the size and page count you want — and you soon have a one-of-a-kind volume for documenting your once-in-a-lifetime event. The small, charming shop on Union Street also has a selection of premade books in its most popular styles, including journals decorated with pink and white flowers and bunnies, a basic red cherry blossom print, and various colored backgrounds embossed with Japanese parasols that are great as gifts. And don’t miss the scrap bin, full of beautiful leftover papers and fabrics perfect for DIY projects.

1969A Union, SF. (415) 351-2114,


Porto: Best Garden of Fashion

We can’t decide which we like better: the imported Italian fashions Porto sells or the building it houses them in. It’s undeniable that the clothes for women are chic, distinctive, and well made. We love the asymmetrical details on Sathia tees and dresses, the fun and flirty sportswear by Deha, the innovative skirts and tops from MC Planet, and the unique detailing on everything by Vasalli. But we especially love how the shop is tucked away from the bustle of Union Street down a long corridor, and how natural light floods the airy, two-story building. Add the adjacent rooftop garden, where Porto’s friendly, helpful owner might let you sip bubbly between purchases, and you might forget about the clothes altogether. That is, until you check out the fabulous sale racks. One visit here and you’ll never need Urban Outfitters again.

1770 Union, SF. (415) 440-5040,


If you like the bold colors, interesting shapes, and exotic romance of Moroccan design, but don’t want your home to look like a college dorm or a swingers’ lounge, you’ll love Tazi. This Hayes Valley showroom is stocked full of Moroccan furniture, textiles, clothing, and accessories — all with a sleek, modern edge. Think mosaic patio tables, bright sofas, metalsmithed lanterns, leather poufs (ottomans), and antiqued doors — most handmade, and all of unmatched quality. Though the Linden Street studio specializes in working with retailers, bars, and restaurants, the staff will also happily help individuals supplement their wardrobe with a gorgeous leather purse, or solve complicated spatial issues with mix-and-match furniture pieces. Plus, Blue Bottle’s just down the street. You can’t get that in Morocco.

333 Linden, SF. (415) 503-0013,


When Sheila Moon started racing bicycles in 1993, very few companies made cycling clothes designed to fit women. “I started asking friends in bike shops if women’s clothing would be a good idea, and they all looked at me like I was crazy,” she said. Moon went for it anyway. Now, after six years in business, she’s distributed in 32 states, plus Canada, and her extensive line includes caps, jerseys, shorts, and knickers for women and men, with separate styles for professional cyclists and regular ol’ riders. She’s moved her SoMa design studio to a live/work loft in Oakland, but everything is still stitched and shipped from San Francisco. Locals can find styles like her women’s riding britches on her Web site and at shops like Sports Basement, City Cycle, and Mojo Bike Café. And daily commuters should keep an eye out: Moon’s got even more bike-to-boardroom threads in her fall line. (Hint: skirts!)

Best of the Bay 2009: Readers Poll Winners


Readers Poll — Food and Drink


Chez Panisse

1517 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 548-5525,



542 Grand, Oakl. (510) 452-9500,


Cafe Flore

2298 Market, SF. (415) 621-8579,


King of Thai

Various locations


Taqueria Cancun

Various locations


Cha Cha Cha

1801 Haight, SF. (415) 386-7670; 2327 Mission, SF. (415) 824-1502,


Blowfish Sushi to Die For

2170 Bryant, SF. (415) 285-3848,



3621 18th St., SF. (415) 552-4055,


La Mediterranee

Various locations,



955 Valencia, SF. (415) 642-3672; 1700 Fillmore, SF. (415) 441-3672,


La Mar Cebicheria

Pier 1 ½, SF. (415) 397-8880,


Slanted Door

1 Ferry Building, Suite 5, SF. (415) 861-8032,


Little Star

846 Divisadero, SF. (415) 441-1118; 400 Valencia, SF. (415) 551-7827,


Mr. Pickles

Various locations,



500 Presidio, SF. (415) 441-5669,


San Francisco Soup Company

Various locations,



Various locations,


Big Nate’s

1665 Folsom, SF. (415) 861-4242



Building A, Fort Mason Center, SF. (415) 771-6222,



1525 Pine, SF. (415) 673-8268,



1 Mission, SF. (415) 543-6084,


Tu Lan

8 Sixth St., SF. (415) 626-0927,



200 Jackson, SF. (415) 981-0983,


Mission Pie

2901 Mission, SF. (415) 282-1500,


Gary Danko

800 North Point, SF. (415) 749-2060,



580 Geary, SF. (415) 345-3900,


Café Gratitude

Various locations,


Blue Bottle

Various locations,



1351 Church, SF. (415) 648-5895,


Broken Record

1166 Geneva, SF. (415) 963-1713,



2490 Third Street, SF. (415) 401-8984,



547 Haight, SF. (415) 863-2276,



1725 Haight, SF. (415) 666-0822,



199 Valencia, SF. (415) 255-7505



600 Guerrero, SF. (415) 487-2600,


Drewes Bros. Meats

1706 Church, SF. (415) 821-0515,



1504 Shattuck, Berkeley. (510) 549-3183,



1 Ferry Building, Suite 30, SF. (415) 834-9494,


Ferry Plaza

1 Ferry Building, SF. (415) 983-8000,


Farm Fresh to You

1 Ferry Building, Suite 9, SF. (415) 834-9981,

Readers poll — Arts and Nightlife


Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF. (415) 621-6120,


Red Vic

1727 Haight, SF. (415) 668-3994,


American Conservatory Theater

405 Geary, SF. (415) 749-2228,



351 Shotwell, SF. (415) 863-6606,


City Art Gallery

828 Valencia, SF. (415) 970-9900,


California Academy of Sciences

55 Music Concourse Dr., SF. (415) 379-8000,


Jacinta Vlach


Root Division

3175 17th St., SF. (415) 863-7668,


Stephen Elliot


Hamburger Eyes


Last Gasp

777 Florida, SF. (415) 824-6636,


Six Degrees


DNA Lounge

375 11th St., SF. (415) 626-1409,


Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF. (415) 626-4455,


Club Six

60 Sixth St., SF. (415) 863-1221,



510 Embarcadero West, Oakl. (510) 238-9200; 1330 Fillmore, SF. (415) 655-5600,


Cafe Cocomo

650 Indiana, SF. (415) 824-6910,


Thee Parkside

1600 17th St., SF. (415) 252-1330,



401 Sixth St., SF. (415) 646-0999,


El Rio

3158 Mission, SF. (415) 282-3325,


500 Club

500 Guerrero, SF. (415) 861-2500,


Bourbon and Branch

501 Jones, SF. (415) 931-7292,


Edinburgh Castle

950 Geary, SF. (415) 885-4074,


Lucky 13

2140 Market, SF. (415) 487-1313


The Mint

1942 Market, SF. (415) 626-4726,




Lexington Club

3464 19th St., SF. (415) 863-2052,



1081 Post, SF. (415) 474-3482,


Kitten on the Keys




DJ Earworm






Smash-Up Derby


Richie Panic


Twilight Vixen Revue




Marga Gomez




Mondays at Hotel Utah

500 Fourth St., SF. (415) 546-6300,


Writers with Drinks

Readers Poll — Outdoors and Sports


San Francisco Giants


B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls


Mission Cliffs

2295 Harrison, SF. (415) 550-0515,


Yoga Tree

Various locations,


Cheryl Burke

1830 17th St., SF. (415) 252-9000,


AT&T Park

24 Willie Mays Plaza, SF. (415) 972-2000


Sports Basement

500 Bryant, SF. (415) 575-3000; 610 Old Mason, SF. (415) 437-0100,



Various locations,


Valencia Cyclery

1065 and 1077 Valencia, SF. (415) 550-6600,


Christabel Zamor


Potrero del Sol

25th Street and Utah, SF


Rossi Pool

600 Arguello, SF. (415) 666-7014


Linda Mar


Land’s End


Baker Beach


Stinson Beach


Crissy Field


Dolores Park


Golden Gate Park


Fort Funston


Angel Island


Twin Peaks


Ocean Beach


Mt. Tamalpais


Bernal Hill

Readers Poll — Shopping


Green Apple Books and Music

506 Clement, SF. (415) 387-2272,


Green Apple Books and Music


Green Arcade

1680 Market, SF. (415) 431-6800,



326 Fell, SF. (415) 621-6543,


Fog City News

455 Market, SF. (415) 543–7400,



1855 Haight, SF. (415) 831-1200; 2455 Telegraph, Berk. (415) 549-1225,




Le Video

1231 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 566-3606,



Various locations,


Sui Generis

2265 Market, SF. (415) 437-2265,



1306 Castro, SF. (415) 641-6192,


Colleen Mauer

3361 Mission, SF. (415) 637-7762,


La Rosa

1711 Haight, SF. (415) 668-3744


City Optix

2145 Chestnut, SF. (415) 921-1188; 1685 Haight, SF. (415) 626-1188,


Out of the Closet

Various locations,


Shoe Biz

Various locations,



555 Hayes, SF. (415) 701-7767,


Community Thrift

623 Valencia St. (415) 861-4910,


Alameda Flea Market

2100 Ferry Point, Suite 100, Alameda. (510) 522-7500,


Cole Hardware

Various locations,


The Ark

Various locations,


Natural Resources

1367 Valencia, SF. (415) 550-2611,


B&B Pets

4820 Geary, SF. 1-866-476-7734,


Five and Diamond

510 Valencia, SF. (415) 255-9747,


Rainbow Grocery

1745 Folsom, SF. (415) 863-0620,

Readers Poll — Sex and Romance


Chez Spencer

82 14th St., SF. (415) 864-2191,


Eros Guide


Dolores Park Café

501 Dolores, SF. (415) 621-2936,


Foreign Cinema

2534 Mission, SF. (415) 648-7600,


Hot Tubs on Van Ness

2200 Van Ness, SF. (415) 441-8827,


The Bitter End

441 Clement, SF. (415) 221-9538


Dark Garden

321 Linden, SF. (415) 431-7684,


City Hall

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, SF. (415) 554-6068,


Piedmont Springs

3939 Piedmont, Oakland. (510) 652-9191,


Church Street Flowers

212 Church, SF. (415) 553-7762,


Dossie Easton

406 16th Ave., SF. (415) 752-7455,


Dollhouse Bettie

1641 Haight, SF. (415) 252 7399,


Good Vibrations

Various locations,


Mr. S and Madame S.

385 Eighth St., SF. (415) 863-9447,,


Folsom Gulch

947 Folsom, (415) 495-6402


Lusty Lady

1033 Kearny, SF. (415) 391-3126,



2051 Market, SF. (415) 255-4921,



1347 Folsom, SF. (415) 552-8689,


Center for Sex and Culture

1519 Mission, SF. (415) 255-1155,


Violet Blue

Readers Poll — City Living


Muni Diaries


Broke Ass Stuart’s Goddamn Website


Idexa at Black and Blue

381 Guerrero, SF. (415) 626-0770,


Black Heart

177 Valencia, SF. (415) 431-2100,


Gavin Newsom

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 200, SF. (415) 554-6141,


Gavin Newsom



2500 16th St., SF. (415) 554-3000,


Dana King, CBS 5

855 Battery St., SF. (415) 362-555,


Distortion 2 Static

570 Beale St, Suite 204, SF.


Energy, 92.7 FM

400 Second St., Suite 300, SF. (415) 356-1600,


Folsom Street Fair

965 Mission, Suite 200, SF. (415) 777-3247,


Mighty Dog Walking

(415) 235-5151,


Little Ark

748 14th St., SF. (415) 626-7574


Especially Cats

1339 Taraval, SF. (415)-681-5553,


Camp Galileo

Various locations,


Melissa Chavez, DDS

2460 Mission St. Suite 201, SF. (415) 821-0101


Erika Horowitz, ND

1615 20th St., SF. (415) 643-6600,


ACE Plumbing and Rooter

945 Taraval, Suite 201, SF. (415) 824-6333,


Wells Electrical

80 Duboce, SF. (415) 255-7831


Delancey Street Movers

600 Embarcadero, SF. (415) 512-5110,


Joshua Alexander, CMT

29 Saturn, SF.


Immune Enhancement Project

3450 16th St., SF. (415) 252-8711,


Art’s Automotive

2871 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. (510) 540-7093,


Box Dog Bikes

494 14th St., SF. (415) 431-9627,


Edo Salon

601 Haight, SF. (415) 861-0131,


Blue Turtle

57 West Portal, SF., 170 Columbus, SF. (415) 699-8494,


Haight Street Shoe Repair

1614 Haight, SF. (415) 565-6710


San Francisco Tailors

109 Geary, Suite M, SF. (415) 392-6611


Rocket Dog Rescue

(415) 642-4786,


Brain Wash

1122 Folsom, SF. (415) 431-9274,

Readers Poll — Classics



1658 Market, SF. (415) 552-2522,


Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum

12 William Saroyan Pl., SF. (415) 421-4112


San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus


Intersection for the Arts

446 Valencia, SF. (415) 626-3311,


City Lights

261 Columbus, SF. (415) 362-8193,


Golden Gate Bridge


Ferry Building


California Historical Society

678 Mission, SF. (415) 357-1848,


Dashiell Hammett


Ruth Asawa


Carlos Santana


Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon


Harvey Milk


“I Left My Heart in San Francisco”



Lush bash: One of the best post-Xmas sales started today


lush sm 122709.jpg

By Kimberly Chun

One of the finest post-Christmas sales has to be the ask-and-they’ll-tell, somewhat-secret sale going down at Lush on Union Square.

No signs in the windows herald its arrival, but just ask a salesperson and they’ll spill the beans about the highly scented, ordinarily pricey products: buy one holiday bath bomb and you get two more free. Purchase a wrapped gift package of, say, vegan bath bombs, shower gels, and soaps and you get another free. Buy a soap and you get two more free. And so on… so get to it, if you’re a fan of the UK bath and skincare brand.

Lush Cosmetics
2116 Union St., SF
(415) 921-5874




Berkeley Critical Mass
Help to promote different modes of transportation during this critical time of Global Warming and Oil wars at this community bicycle protest and celebration that takes over the streets of Berkeley.
6 p.m., free
Meet at Downtown Berkeley BART station
Shattuck between Allston and Addison, Berk.

Terra Madre Day
Celebrate Slow Food’s 20th anniversary by taking part in a worldwide “eat local” effort that aims to link chefs, artisans, and regular people. Coordinate your own event, join in with other people in your community, or just eat local in solidarity.
All day, free
San Francisco Bay Area and countries around the globe


Health Forum
Learn more about single-payer health care at this screening of two short videos on the national single-payer plan, HR 676, which is being supported by many progressive leaders, and California’s SB810, which passed the state Legislature twice, only to be vetoed by the governor.
2 p.m., free
Community Room
1501 Blake, Berk.

Velo Vigil
Rally to support cycling on the eve of the U.S.’s participation in the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen this month. Cyclists will circle the Oakland Federal Building to create a swarm of LED lights, while pedestrians congregate in front of the building. Bring as many LED lights as possible.
6 p.m., free
Oakland Federal Building
1301 Clay, Oak.


“Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Consumption Christmas”
Take part in this theater workshop and performance with the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Class begins by collecting impressions and images among holiday shoppers, then returns to the YBCA to create characters, costumes, speeches, and actions for a procession that takes the show back to the streets of downtown for holiday shoppers to enjoy.
12:30 p.m., $15
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
YAAW Lounge
701 Mission, SF
(415) 978-2787

Art as Propaganda
Discuss tactics for making effective banners for demonstrations and community spaces with artist Hannah Blair. Blair will teach sketching designs with gouache paint and coming up with powerful messages and images. More work sessions will be available to gear up for the Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights day of action Jan. 23, 2010.
2 p.m., free
Radical Women
625 Larkin, Suite 202, SF
(415) 864-0778

Rainwater Harvesting
Learn more about rainwater harvesting options in an urban area and hands-on skills for working with rain barrels just in time for our winter rains. Harvesting can be as simple as placing a barrel under your drain spout or using tanks and pumps to route water inside for toilet flushing.
10 a.m., $15
Garden for the Environment
Seventh Ave., SF
(415) 731-5627

“That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals”
Attend this vegan book-signing and ice cream social with children’s author and illustrator Ruby Roth. The event is designed to encourage children to think about the emotional lives of animals, factory farming, the environment, and endangered species in relation to the food we eat.
1 p.m., free
Café Gratitude
1730 Shattuck, Berk.
(510) 725-4418


Protest AIPAC
Challenge and confront the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which supports Israel’s hawkish policies toward Palestine, at their annual dinner.
5 p.m., free
Hilton Hotel
333 O’Farrell, SF

Mail items for Alerts to the Guardian Building, 135 Mississippi St., SF, CA 94107; fax to (415) 255-8762; or e-mail Please include a contact telephone number. Items must be received at least one week prior to the publication date.

Out of reach


On a sunny afternoon in Civic Center Plaza, a remarkable bounty covered a buffet table: coconut quinoa, organic mushroom tabouli, homemade vegan desserts, and an assortment of other yummy treats. The food and event were meant to raise awareness about public school lunches, although it was hard to imagine these dishes, brought by well-heeled food advocates, sitting under the fluorescent lights of a San Francisco public school cafeteria.

The spread was for the Slow Food USA Labor Day “eat-in,” a public potluck meant to publicize the proposed reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, national legislation that regulates the food in public schools. The crowd was in a festive, light-hearted mood. There was a full program of speeches by sustainability experts and a plant-your-own-vegetable-seeds table set up in one corner of the plaza.

A bedraggled couple who appeared homeless made their way through the jovial crowd and started scooping up the food in a way that suggested it had been a long time since their last roasted local lamb shish kebob. Their presence shouldn’t have been a surprise; most events involving free trips down a food table are geared toward a different demographic in this park, which borders the Tenderloin.

In a flash, an event volunteer was on the case, nervous in an endearingly liberal manner. “Sir,” she began. “This food is for the Child Nutrition Act.” And then she paused, searching for what to say next. I imagined her thinking: “Sir, this food is to raise awareness about the availability of sustainable food to the lower classes, not to be eaten by them,” or, “Sir, this good, healthy, local food is not for you.”

But there was no good way to say what she meant to convey. She knew it, and delivered her final line hurriedly before walking away. “If you could just, well, just don’t take like 25 things, okay?” Indifferent to the volunteer’s unspoken reprimand, the couple continued to eat, ignoring the whispers and stares of the social crusaders around them, who all seemed to take issue with their participation in this carefully planned political action.

It was a telling scene from a movement that has yet to really confront its class issues. Though organic grocery stores and farmers markets have sprung up on San Francisco’s street corners, it remains to be seen whether our current mania for sustainable, local food will positively affect the lower classes, be they farm workers or poor families.

Even iconic food writer Michael Pollan acknowledges the challenge the sustainability movement faces in widening its relevance for the poor, citing the high cost of local and organic food as just one of the issues that Slow Foodies and their allies must tackle before they can count the “good food” movement a success.


For the average heirloom tomato eater, the words “organic farm” often conjure up an idyllic agrarian picture: happy communes of earnest farmers growing veggies straight from the goodness of their hearts. In reality, a lot of the people who plant, tend, and harvest produce are poorly paid Latino immigrants. And it might come as a surprise that those who work on small or organic farms often face the same exploitative working conditions as those in conventional agriculture.

To learn how organic farm workers should be treated, consider Swanton Berry Farm, whose fields stretch out along the coastal highway just north of Santa Cruz. Swanton was the first organic farm in California to sign a contract with the United Farm Workers, a move that highlights the owners’ conviction that farm workers be viewed as skilled professionals. Employees are offered ownership shares in the farm and are provided health insurance, retirement plans, comfortable housing, and unlimited time off to attend to pressing family matters.

“Organic is a lot cleaner. Working with pesticides, you have to worry about wearing gloves and covering your skin. Here, you can pick that strawberry right off the plant and eat it,” Adelfo Antonio told the Guardian. He has worked these fields for 20 years, the last five as a supervisor. His high regard for his job and employers is apparent. As we talked, he kept at least one eye fixed on his coworkers, who stretched plastic sheets across the dirt of the field to protect their rows of seed from the coming autumn winds.

Antonio said he appreciates the culture of mutual respect on this farm. “People like how they are treated here. When conflicts come up, our management is open to working through them,” he said. A few minutes later, a break was called, illustrating his point. There had been some disruptive behavior in the company housing and a discussion ensued between the crew and one of the farm’s owners about house rules. The group formulated a plan to avoid trouble in the future.

But Swanton’s egalitarian fields are the exception among American organic farms. The average salary of the estimated 900,000 farm workers in California — the birthplace of the organic and farm labor movements in the U.S. — is around $8,500, more than $2,000 below the federal poverty line.

In 2006, the California Institute for Rural Studies put out a rare study of working conditions on the state’s 2,176 organic farms that suggested that in some respects, workers are better off on conventional farms. Although the average wage was higher on organic fields — $8.20 for entry-level work, compared with $7.91 on conventional farms — traditional agriculture outstripped organic on certain employee benefits. A mere 36 percent of organic businesses were found to provide health insurance to their employees, as opposed to 46 percent on conventional farms.

Unable to rely on chemicals for pest control, organic farms often face higher labor costs in the fields. “Wages and benefits should always be viewed in the wider context of sustainability, and that includes a farm’s ability to stay in business from one year to the next, i.e. its profitability,” said Jane Baker, a spokesperson for California Certified Organic Farmers, the state’s major organic certification agency.

The inequity faced by farm workers belies the fact that the organic movement began as an alternative to the industrialized food system. “Back then, we never would have imagined that you’d be buying an organic product that was built on the backs of workers. For us, social justice was every bit as important as the environmental part,” said Marty Mesh, an organic farmer since 1973 and executive director of Florida Certified Organic Growers & Consumers.

Mesh was involved in the debates over the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first codification of the National Organic Program. He said that although many farmers advocated for regulations surrounding working conditions, the federal government found it hard to stomach labor stipulations. Many involved felt their inclusion would hurt the growth of the organic industry. So the social movement aspect of organic farming was left on the cutting room floor.

That has not been the case overseas. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, whose organic label is recognized worldwide, adopted explicit social justice language in its basic standards in 2003, stating in their “Principles of Organic Agriculture” document that “organic agriculture should provide everyone involved with a good quality of life and contribute to … reduction of poverty.”

CCOF now offers a dual track certification process wherein California farms can forgo specific IFOAM requirements. The lack of guidelines of worker treatment has led to some problems. “We’ve seen many of the same issues on organic farms that we do in conventional agriculture, on small and big farms alike,” Michael Marsh, directing attorney of California Rural Legal Assistance, told us. CRLA is an organization that regularly provides low cost legal assistance to agricultural workers, whom Marsh has seen bring charges against organic farmers for cases of sexual harassment, underpayment, and job safety concerns.

Sometimes the organic label is even used to justify vioutf8g workers rights. In 2003, the California Legislature considered a bill that would ban “stoop labor,” activities like hand-weeding which require working in bent positions that can cause musculoskeletal degeneration. Organic farmers’ associations lobbied against the bill, claiming that pesticide-free agriculture would suffer under such restrictions. Also, although chemical pest-killers are banned from organic farming, some popular natural pesticides like copper and sulfur have been known to cause irritation of the throat, eyes, and respiratory system.

“This is one of the hardest nuts to crack in the sustainable food world,” said Michael Dimock, executive director of Roots of Change, a San Francisco-based foundation that has developed campaign strategies for improving agricultural working conditions. Three years ago, Dimock left his post as chairman at Slow Food USA, at a time when farm labor conditions “were generally not at the top of the list. Slow Food as an organization is just beginning to figure out what it can do in a meaningful way on this issue.”

Roots of Change has found some success in identifying farm labor challenges and possible solutions through a series of worker-grower forums. It has pinpointed immigration reform as one key to progress. Anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of farm workers in California are undocumented, which puts even fair bosses at risk of being prosecuted for employing illegal immigrants.

Many farm owners turn to labor contractors — essentially agricultural temp agencies — to supply field hands. Use of these middle men largely shields the owner from legal responsibility for illegal hiring, but “the bad farm labor contractors cheat workers, take their pay, and risk their health and safety,” Dimock said.

Some Californian farm labor contractors have become notorious for their disregard of minimum wage and other labor standards, taking advantage of workers who are discouraged to seek help for fear of deportation. The role played by irresponsible contractors is one of many issues that can remain unseen by the buyers of food from farms that rely on the inadequate public information available on agricultural working conditions.


Food management company Bon Appetit in Palo Alto has built a good reputation as a sustainable company, buying its produce and other foodstuffs as locally and organically as possible. “I’ve learned a lot working here,” said Jon Hall, head chef of Bon Appetit’s University of San Francisco cafeteria. “In other kitchens, if you can get something for five cents a pound cheaper, that’s what you buy. If I did that here, people would notice. [My bosses at Bon Appetit] would say, ‘Why’d you buy that?’ ”

But when Bon Appetit executives decided to take on the issue of worker treatment on the farms that supplied their food, they found it difficult to find reliable information on the subject. “We always felt like there was something there that needed to be done and change that needed to take place,” said vice president Maisie Greenwalt. “But we didn’t know who to talk to.”

Her cue to act came from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group from Immokalee County, Fla. The farm workers’ organization brought nationwide publicity to the slavery-like conditions in the area’s tomato fields. Greenwalt accompanied the group on an information-gathering trip to Immokalee and saw firsthand the places where recent immigrants were held to work against their will, living in squalor and being paid little as $20 a week.

Greenwalt saw the travesty as a wake-up call. Collaborating with the Immokalee activists, Bon Appetit developed a workers’ rights contract that all their tomato suppliers must now sign. “After Bon Appetit sent me the contract, I sort of at first didn’t see the point. But then I spoke with the [Coalition of Immokalee Workers] and it made sense. Worker abuse has been around for centuries,” said Tom Wilson of Alderman Farms, one of the company’s tomato growers.
Greenwalt says Bon Appetit cafeterias were prepared to eliminate tomatoes from their menus. “Every chef and manager I talked to said they would rather not serve tomatoes than serve the tomatoes that were coming from these conditions.” But every one of their suppliers signed, agreeing to conditions such as a mandatory worker-controlled safety committee and a “minimum fair wage.”

The success convinced Bon Appetit that this style of food buyer participation is crucial to making positive progress on farm worker treatment. The company is now conducting a nationwide survey of working conditions on organic farms. “Labor’s not a new issue,” said Carolina Fojo, one of the company’s researchers. “But for some reason, people are just now talking about it. We’ve found it can be a sensitive topic for a lot of farmers.”

Visually, Hall’s USF food court is similar to traditional college eateries. But plate-side, Bon Appetit’s commitment to sustainability is clear; specials vary seasonally and food is sourced locally whenever possible. The price for a semester’s meal plan is $3,810, more than twice that of San Francisco State University. Hall’s customers, college students who may eat three meals a day here, often approach him with questions about their food. Queries range from where to how the food was grown, but in no instances that Hall has been aware of, about the workers who grew it.

Labor issues are not the popular cause these days, at least in the sustainable food movement. Unlike the “eat local” and organic food movements, equitable treatment of farm workers has yet to spawn trendy slogans for tote bags or a book on the best-seller list.

One UC Santa Cruz study found that, when asked to rank their concern about food system related topics, Central Coast grocery shoppers assigned higher concern levels to animal treatment on farms than that of humans. But Hall is confident this will change as Bon Appetit and others continue to bring attention to the economically disadvantaged on the front lines of our local and organic food systems.

“This is the next frontier,” he said. “I can see it brewing.”


In school cafeterias across the city, a different low-income group has its own challenges fitting into the sustainable food movement. San Francisco Unified School District manages one of the city’s most important food sources.

Every school day, Student Nutrition Services dishes out 31,000 cafeteria meals; of those, 84 percent go to students who qualify for free lunch or for the reduced price of $2 for elementary school students. It is not a stretch to say that for many of these kids, this is their one chance at healthy food for the day — certainly their only chance to learn about local and organic food. But the school district faces one of the major issues the sustainability movement has yet to resolve. Local and organic food costs a lot to produce, which makes it more expensive. If pricing was more socially equitable and accounted for living wages for farm workers, costs might rise even more. This is a problem. Federal funds supply about $2.49 for each free student lunch in San Francisco and less for the meals of students who do not qualify for reduced prices. After logistical costs like labor and transportation are accounted for, 90 cents per meal is left over for the food itself.

This is not enough to fund a menu like Hall’s. Given the numbers, it should come as no surprise that examining an average SFUSD school lunch — as San Francisco Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer did in his Oct. 29 “Between Meals” online column — turns up a lot of recently thawed, bland food matter. But this is not to say that cafeteria meals have not seen progress. Student Nutrition Services eliminated junk food in 2003, signaling a new attention to nutrition on a menu previously dominated by pizza and french fries.

Unlike working conditions for farm workers, school lunches have the benefit of visibility to middle class consumers and activists. Demonstrable efforts are being made to send some of that 90-cent budget toward local food. But with such a limited budget, institutions like SFUSD can only address a small slice of what is important about sustainable food. Yes, efforts are being put toward buying kids local, pesticide-free food that doesn’t further jeopardize their future by using excessive fossil fuel on transportation. But these limited efforts do nothing to affect the social aspect of sustainability — those who produce the food are again left invisible.

The school salad bar program, started in 2007, uses organic and local vegetables in its buffet line as much as possible. The majority of the bars are strategically located in schools where more than half the student body qualifies for free and reduced-price lunches, a response to a Community Healthy Kids survey that put the number of ninth-graders who had eaten a single vegetable in the last week at 29 percent. Student reaction to the bars has been encouraging. Many poor families credit them with increasing the amount of produce in their kids’ diets.

“This program is an anomaly,” said Paula Jones, director of San Francisco Food Systems. “Other schools around the country just don’t see things like this.”

But a generation’s worth of antitax sentiment has limited the variety of the salad bars and other attempts at getting fresh food onto kids’ lunch trays. Due to high labor costs, the school district buys pre-chopped vegetables, severely limiting sourcing options. In the meantime, another generation of low-income kids is growing up on processed, packaged foods. Jones said making sustainable food available to all children is an issue the community must help take on. “The bottom line is, it’s going to take a lot of people talking about this to realize this is not just the school district’s problem.”

Jones’ organization works on getting healthy food to the city’s underserved populations. Nutritionally, this is the salient mission of our age. Despite its current vogue, only 10 percent of Americans buy organic, and shoppers who consistently choose healthy foods usually find themselves spending 20 percent more. Several California studies have indicated that socioeconomically depressed neighborhoods have disturbingly high rates of food insecurity and obesity.

Despite the enormity of the challenge, Jones remains positive. “We lead in this issue. San Francisco is ready, and we have the will.” She counts among the city’s biggest successes in this area the fact that all farmers markets, typically more expensive than average supermarkets, now accept food stamps.


On a bright autumn Wednesday, market assistant manager John Fernandez stands outside his “office,” a white van with the Heart of the City logo. The Heart of the City Farmers Market takes place in a plaza just between City Hall and the Tenderloin twice a week, year-round. Fernandez said it has the highest food stamp sales — second only to that of the Hollywood market — in California and has played a role in allowing low income families and individuals in the area to fit local and organic food into their budget.

Fernandez has worked here for 13 years, and said that the use of food stamps has doubled since last summer. Most of his food stamp customers are families and individuals coming back week after week. They pass by the van to have Fernandez swipe their food stamp cards through a machine and hand them the yellow plastic coins used to buy everything from persimmons to what is far and away the market’s most popular item: the live chickens that squawk from cages at one end of the line of stalls.

Efreh Ghanen was one of the shoppers we talked to who felt that being able to use her food stamps at the farmers market had improved the health of her family. Ghanen, who shops with her mother and sister, likened Heart of the City to the Yemeni markets where they bought their food growing up. “The honey, fruit, and vegetables here are fresher,” she said. “They just taste better.”

“I definitely wouldn’t be able to shop here if it weren’t for the food stamp program,” echoed Shana Lancaster. She teaches at Paul Revere Elementary School in Bernal Heights, a position funded through AmeriCorps whose low pay automatically qualifies her for the food stamp program. She selects an armful of organic Gala apples while noting the value of shopping local for working people like herself. “I like supporting the farmers. Everyone here at the market has a story. These days, everyone is struggling.”

But both Lancaster and Ghanen tell us that when they can’t afford to shop at the farmers markets, they head straight for corporate retailers like Safeway and Walgreens, buying whatever they need to get by.

Programs like these are essential if the sustainability movement is to remain relevant and widen its reach. Just as the environment will degrade if industrial agriculture continues unabated, so too will local and organic food sources falter if the majority of our society cannot afford to buy their wares.

In the end, the obstacles are about class. Low-income groups, be they the people who grow the organic food or the schoolchildren who benefit from eating it, need to become more of a focus of the “good food” movement. What Slow Foodies and other activists must keep in mind is that over-accessorizing a cause (as with esoteric artisan products and exclusive dining experiences) makes it less a vehicle for change and more like reshuffling of the same old injustices. Social change, by definition, has to be for everyone. Because elitism tastes as bad as it always has.

For more information, check out “Fair Food: Field to Table,” a multimedia project recently released by the California Institute for Rural Studies. CIRS is one of the leading researchers of working standards on Californian farms and its data is found throughout this article. Watch the Fair Food documentary for free at



SUPER EGO Child, there is no better place to digest your Thanksgiving giblets than a leather bar. (For all my non-homo homies and vegan amigos, meet me at the rather hopping Mission Hill Saloon — 491 Potrero, SF — for some cheap après-pie Chimay. I’ll bring the family-recovery Vicodin. Is Vicodin vegan? Anyway.) Hunky and slightly distressed-skin leather queens will actually cruise the holiday fat off those chunky drumsticks poking through your peek-a-boo chaps with their hungry, hungry, laser-beam eyes. And let’s not even get into all the "stuffing" double-entendres here because what do I look like, an anal-leather-metaphorologist? Gag, not hardly.

But say, what’s better than a leather bar? Saw VII: Lady Gaga? Nah, it’s several leather bars — which is why I’m harnessing your attention to the upcoming Folsom Friday dead-cow spectacular, hosted by the chacondo folks of SoMa enclave Truck. Board the free shuttle there and get carted to such dark and lovely glories as Chaps, Lone Star Saloon, Powerhouse, Mr. S, Blow Buddies, and Off Ramp Leather to get you good and plucked. I’m not sure why the juicy Hole in the Wall and Eagle Tavern aren’t on the list, but the whole man-megillah’s a testament to our thriving leather scene, once thought strangled by the Web’s insidious tentacles. Flog that bird!

FOLSOM FRIDAY Fri/27, 9 p.m., free. Truck, 1900 Folsom, SF.


Goths — always in fashion because they’re above it. They’re even immune to hiatuses, as the 10th anniversary fete for this once-regular, now-rare goth-glam jamboree attests. Return from the grave to rock’s frigid underside with DJs Miz Margo and Sage.

Wed/25, 10 p.m., $5. Café Du Nord, 2170 Market, SF.


World AIDS Day is Dec. 1, and incredibly on-top charity NextAid ( is rolling out a ton of worldwide benefit parties, starting with an all-star bonanza here, with long-standing L.A. techno king D:Fuse, Sen-Sei, Rooz, and Fil Latorre

Wed/25, 9 p.m., $15. Supperclub, 657 Harrison, SF.


A gaggle of local woofer gobblers of all bass styles invades Paradise Lounge to sauce your canned cranberries. Ginsu-wielders include Smoove, Mozaic, Influence, Uncle Larry, Cruz, and Antibiotik.

Wed/25, 9 p.m.–3 a.m., $5. Paradise Lounge, 1501 Folsom, SF.


Poor Joker. This year, the young Bristol, U.K., phenom tried to start a more melodic "purple" dubstep movement to get more women on the dance floor — and was immediately accused of stereotyping. Truth is, he’s got killer bass instincts and soulful taste, a rare combination these days — as rare as women on the dubstep dance floor, in fact. With Lazer Sword, an-ten-nae, and loads more.

Fri/27, 10 p.m.–late, $10. 103 Harriet, SF.


Pop your cork early this year, love. All-star disco DJ dream team Sergio Fedasz, Stanley Chilidog, Nickie B., Flight, and door-slut Stephen You Guys! are celebrating one year of monthly high-hat spritz at Deco. Plus: Ken Vulsion of Honey Soundsystem and’s Ash Williams, who’ll be offering a "Cosmic Beardo Lift-Off Set."

Sat/28, 9 p.m.–late, $5. Deco, 510 Larkin, SF


Hall and Oates meet hyphy classics in the crunktastic mashup universe of DJ Roots Uno. He’s the house decks wrecker at the new weekly Sunday joint from the too-high LOW SF kids who, when they’re not peeing in someone’s swanky pool, are keeping the electro-disco dream alive.

Sundays, 9 p.m., free. Delirium, 3139 16th St., SF.


I finally have to put in a good word for my favorite shady lady Monistat’s Tuesday night drag cataclysm at EndUp. (EndUp just turned 36! Where have all the flowers gone?) Every week brings a more thrillingly horrifying theme, with outré performances, rotating DJs, and a bountiful bouquet of mayhem. Outwit, outplay, outlast.

Tuesdays, 10 p.m., $5. EndUp, 401 Sixth St., SF.

Seasons eatings


A man hath no better thing under the sun than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry. — Ecclesiastes 8:15

Writing about Christmas treats and festive beverages is dangerous territory. Locals are adamant about their favorite spot to score an authentic stollen, the most buttery sugar cookie, or the strongest hot toddy. So while I won’t claim to offer the most exhaustive list, the following spots are sure to whisk you through the madness of the holiday season with some semblance of sanity and satiation.


While there’s something about this time of year that inspires me to break out my whisk and apron, I also love what our local bakers and pastry chefs produce. Whether you’re looking for a treat to go with your coffee or want to contribute to the holiday table this year, these folks have got you covered in the seasonal sweets department. Let’s face it — they do it better than most of us can anyway.


There’s something to be said about a simple piece of pie, and nobody does seasonal slices better than Mission Pie. For Thanksgiving, it will feature pumpkin, apple, pear/cranberry, walnut (much like pecan but made with a sister nut), and a vegan apple with brandied raisins ($3.50/piece). Mission Pie is adamant about getting its fruits and flowers from local farms, so it only uses what’s in season. Later in the winter, the Mission District destination will feature desserts made with winter fruits, like my favorite: the bright, sharp, citrusy Meyer lemon — perfect with a cup of hot tea.

2901 Mission, SF. (415) 282-1500,


If traditional pie isn’t your bag, pastry chef Elizabeth Faulkner is your gal. Leave it to her to take a seasonal dessert like pie or a simple holiday cookie and turn it upside down. This year, Faulkner is planning her usual butter and lard crust for Thanksgiving pies (mmm, lard) filled with innovative flavors like apple and cheddar or a bourbon chocolate pecan ($25–$28) as well as her infamous pumpkin sage cheesecake ($30). And of course, a holiday at Citizen Cake wouldn’t feel right without the gingerbread Joes and Janes ($4) in festive bikini attire.

399 Grove, SF. (415) 861-2228,


The leftovers — and the in-laws — have come and gone. Hallelujah. Now look forward to a wintry season hunkering down with a fruitcake. I know, I know, fruitcake’s got a bad rap. Are you scared of those plastic tubs of pseudo-fruit with sticky green cherries? Me too. But bakers who do traditional fruitcakes don’t touch those. Instead you’ll find a variety of boozy fruits, citrus, warm spices, and nuts. What’s not to like about that? Arizmendhi does one of the most popular fruitcakes in town ($12). It’s smaller than your average loaf and made with dried apricot, papaya, pineapple, currants, and cherries, along with healthy doses of brandy, spices, and citrus. Noe Valley Bakery also makes a much-loved fruitcake, specifically an iced German Christmas stollen ($21). Owner Michael Gasson has updated an old family recipe that includes housemade candied orange peel, toasted almonds, fresh ground nutmeg, and lots of brandy. Much like a fine wine, fruitcakes get better with time (which is one reason they were so popular in pre-refrigeration days), so Gasson starts making these treats early to allow the flavors to ripen and mellow. For all you fruitcake skeptics out there, this is the year — and these are the places.

Arizmendhi Bakery, 1331 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 566-3117,; Noe Valley Bakery: 4073 24th St., SF. (415) 550-1405,


After I’ve won you over with the fruitcake, you must believe me when I sing the praises of Masse’s Pastries for the best bouche in the Bay. The bouche de noel (or yule log), a dessert traditionally served in France during the holidays, consists of a rolled cake in the shape of a log filled with buttercream and topped with ganache. Not only does Masse’s make the loveliest bouche around, it does three of them. The most popular is the traditional mocha with almond roulade and coffee buttercream. Next up is the black forest with Bavarian cream and kirsch (cherry liqueur). The third option is a simple lemon topped with Italian meringue and seasonal fruits. The owners decorate the festive cakes with New Zealand red currants, imported brandied cherries, and the highest quality shaved chocolate. Prices range from $38–$55 depending on flavor and size. Now comes the difficult part: how to decide between the three options. The good news? It offers mini bouches ($4.50), so you can taste before you invest.

1469 Shattuck Ave., Berk. (510) 649-1004,

Drink …

There’s no time like the holiday season to splurge a little on cocktails. Push the PBRs to the back of the fridge and treat yourself to a warm, wintry drink or festive liquor concoction. The following spots will ease you into the yuletide spirit in the most delicious way. Who wouldn’t drink to that?


After lugging around shopping bags, groceries, bikes — you name it — kick back a few hot-spiced buttered rums ($5.50) at Trad’r Sams. The historic tiki bar opened in 1941, and while the drinks aren’t top shelf, they’re strong and consistent, like most things from that era. For this classic cold-weather drink, Sam’s bartenders use a special batter with top-secret ingredients and mix it with a healthy serving of rum and hot water. The bar itself is a little odd, a little kitschy, and more dive than date spot, but proven mastery of this delightfully warming beverage outweighs all that.

6150 Geary, SF. (415) 221-0773


Another warm holiday beverage that’ll help chase away worries and strife: the house cappuccino ($6) at Tosca. In reality, this drink is nothing like a cappuccino. It’s a brandy and hot chocolate concoction layered into sweet little glasses, which seems to pair perfectly with the dimly-lighted bar, its cozy red vinyl booths, and the jukebox playing Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. The stiff drinks and unpretentious bartenders add to the charm. And lucky you! Tosca serves this signature cocktail year-round.

242 Columbus, SF. (415) 986-9651


Bartender Ismael Robles doesn’t just make great drinks — he invents them. Recently he’s been making the Velvet Hive ($10), a variation on the hot toddy that’s served cold. Robles’ version is made with honey vodka, clove and citrus liqueurs, fresh lemon juice, and allspice dram. Even though this drink isn’t heated, there’s nothing like notes of honey, clove, and allspice to warm you right up.

398 Hayes, SF. (415) 551-1590,

Luna Park

During the winter months, you can’t walk past Luna Park without noticing the enticing aroma of the warm mulled wine ($7) that’s always simmering in a crockpot this time of year. Made with red wine, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and orange peel, this aromatic delight is available Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

694 Valencia, SF. (415) 553-8584,

Be Merry

After you’ve had your fair share of hot buttered rum and gingerbread people, we’re betting that being merry won’t be far out of reach. But in case you need a little guidance, here’s our tip: grab a friend or loved one — or 10 — and introduce them to the delights mentioned above. The best way to guarantee good cheer is to spread it.

Our Weekly Picks




The Walworth Farce

Ever since his 1996 teen psychopath romance, Disco Pigs, Edna Walsh has been delivering unnerving plays of unusual verve, full of whimsy and deep dysfunction, crazy Gaelic cadences, the wit and high lyricism of the low of brow. We don’t see enough of it over here, which is all the more reason to catch Druid Ireland theater company’s production of Walsh’s The Walworth Farce, courtesy of Cal Performances. Not since Joe Orton have the traditional outlines of this classic comedic form been so over-amped and even over the line, downright weird and sort of dangerous. You are correct: this is in-your-farce theater. (Robert Avila)

8 p.m. (continues through Sun/22), $72

Zellerbach Hall

Bancroft at Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus, Berk.

(510) 642-9988



Second Annual Erotic Art Exhibition Tour

Featuring 120 international artists, body painting, live music, and a fashion show with more nip than slip, the Erotic Art Exhibition Tour promises to be much sexier than shopping for tofurkey and stuffing that doesn’t taste like puke. This year’s ARTundressed theme is "Illumination," and it presents the winning artists from the Erotic Showcase 2009 competition. Indulge your voyeuristic tendencies and benefit the American Foundation for AIDS Research by attending Saturday night’s Silent Art Auction. Then grab something white, red, or leathery, and head to the thematic "The Good, the Bad, and the Kinky" after party. (Lorian Long)

6 p.m. (through Sat/21), $45

California Modern Art Gallery

1035 Market, SF

(415) 716-8661


Justin Quinn: "Keep Out This Frost"

In an obsessive, Oulipian gesture, artist Justin Quinn constrains himself to the oft-used and abused letter E in his second solo show at Cain Schulte Gallery. Rather than playing off the letter’s relation to the party drug, top of the optometrist’s eye chart, or various corporate logos, Quinn delegates his E‘s to transutf8g the chapters of Melville’s Moby Dick. In substituting the particular for the ubiquitous, Quinn makes up for lost meaning through charged typographical flair that takes on a narrative all its own. If this isn’t enough Moby Dick for you, you can also check out a group show of visual responses to the classic at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. (Spencer Young)

Continuous through Dec. 23

6 p.m., artist talk at 7 p.m.

Cain Schulte Gallery

714 Guerrero, SF

(415) 543 1550



The Finns are curators of the strange, adapting the metal conventions of their Scandinavian neighbors and adding a good deal of idiosyncrasy. Helsinki’s Ensiferum embodies this trend, churning out martial, aggressive death metal augmented by keyboard flourishes, Ennio Morricone worship, harmonized vocals, and an army of folky, epic melodies. Their new album From Afar (Spinefarm) features the band at its grandiose best, and the war-kilted warriors prove themselves equally adept at atmospheric arrangement and straightforward, razor-wire riffing. Billed as the "Tour From Afar," this is their first headlining run stateside — prepare for battle. (Ben Richardson)

With Hypocrisy, Blackguard, Lazarus A.D.

8pm, $22

DNA Lounge

375 11th St., SF



Adam Savage: "My Dodo — History and Personal Reflections"
Magical werewolves, flightless fairies, and the raphus cucullatus (dodo bird)? Once thought to be a farcical myth, the extinct dodo is now fondly recalled — not just by Lewis Carroll fanatics, but by Mythbusters maven Adam Savage, an official model-maker of dodo bird skeletons. At this lecture by Savage, audience members are free to filch tidbits of information about this once illustrious and very real avian phenom. (Jana Hsu)

7–9 p.m., free

The Bone Room

1573 Solano, Berk.

(510) 526-5252



Down and Dirty Dance Series

The name of Dance Mission Theater’s latest dance series is somewhat hyperbolic, because the 11 scheduled companies aren’t known for being particularly subversive. But the series itself is more than welcome. A showcase primarily for local artists that doesn’t force them to go through an onerous vetting process is a fabulous idea. Dance Mission’s request was as simple as can be: explain in 500 words or less why you should be in the series. Three companies fill the first of five weekends. Christy Funsch is a tough thinker and independent dancer whose White Girls for Black Power is draws from Malcolm X and grrrl rock. The French-born, New York City resident and butoh artist Vangeline also brings feminist principles to her visually seductive dances. Dance Elixir will show rep and new work, informed by choreographer Leyya Tawil’s recent sojourn in the Middle East. (Rita Felciano)

8 p.m. (Funsch and Vangeline); Sat/21, 8 p.m. (Funsch and Vangeline); Sun, 6 p.m. (Vangeline and Elixer); $15–$18

Dance Mission Theater

3316 24th St., SF

(415) 273-4633


Naked Lunch 50th Anniversary Weekend

Sadly, my only Naked Lunch experience thus far has been an encounter with David Cronenberg’s 1991 film adaptation, at age 13. Sadder still, I only saw the scrambled version, because Showtime didn’t come with basic cable. I did, however, watch it in its distorted, striated entirety because — beyond its suggestive, sexy title — it offered to threaten my worldview. And threaten it did: bugs and vacuum cleaners and typewriters have never quite looked the same. The 20 participants, including DJ Spooky and Stephen Elliott, within this commemorative weekend of critical analysis and readings likely have more sophisticated accounts of William S. Burroughs and his seminal work. Still, I anticipate loads of raunchy debauchery. (Young)

7 p.m. (continues Sat/21–Sun/22 at other venues), free

San Francisco Art Institute Lecture Hall

800 Chestnut, SF

(415) 362-8193


San Francisco Hip-Hop DanceFest

You’d think that after a decade, the San Francisco Hip-Hop DanceFest would have settled into a comfortable, complacent groove. Not so — this amazing event stretches ever wider to pull in new companies, adding personal and national perspectives. For the first time, a mixed-ability company, Ill-Abilities, is representing. New acts are traveling from South Korea, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Norway. The crews’ names include Last For One, Deep Down Dopeizm, Plague, Bad Taste Cru, Smash Bro’z Hip Hop, and B-Boy Spaghetti. Nothing wrong with their verbal imagination, now let’s see how it translates to kinetic energy. More than welcome back, of course, are "old timers" Mop Top, DS Players, Soul Force Dance Company, and Funkanometry. (Rita Felciano)

8 p.m.; also Sat/21, 8 p.m.;

Sun/22., 2 and 7 p.m.; $35

Palace of Fine Arts

3301 Lyon, SF



San Francisco Bicycle Ballet

What exactly is a bicycle ballet? Find out tonight by witnessing the San Francisco Bicycle Ballet, a team of synchronized bike riders best viewed from above. Founded in 1996, SFBB has kept its pedals to the metal, or at least some forms of rock music, thanks to its own band, the Spoke Tones. Tonight’s performance also includes the bands Molten Grog, Charbo, and Chump. (Hsu)

8 p.m., $8 (free vegan spread)

Dogpatch Saloon

2496 3rd Street, SF


Tim Miller: Lay of the Land

You wouldn’t call it straight talk exactly, but queer performance artist Tim Miller has a talent and penchant for speaking his mind. Internationally known for his vigorously, hilariously, even enchantingly outspoken solo performance pieces, his concerns remain socially activist and largely American (he’s even one of the "NEA Four," artists targeted for funding assassination by D.C. wing nuts, surely worth a patriot merit badge if not a rent check). His latest, Lay of the Land, is a "state of the queer union," a clarion call to arms and legs and other appendages, and — presently on tour across said land — it touches down at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts this weekend. (Avila)

8 p.m. (also Sat/21, 8 p.m.), $25

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787



Episco Disco: Bronze and Kamau Amu Patton

Apparently Bronze isn’t being ironic by labeling itself "religious" on its MySpace page. Bands usually sidestep genre affiliation on MySpace by claiming no style or, through the safe security of self-effacement, a ragtag of disparate and insincere stripes like "melodramatic/tropical/metal." But given that this show is at a cathedral — a legitimate designator of religion — I’m guessing Bronze’s devotion is for real. Sure, it could all be part of its shtick, or a joke gone too far, but anyone who’s seen them play knows they command reverence. With slippery psychedelic grooves that faithfully and graciously point to Silver Apples and visuals by Goldie winner Kamau Amu Patton, there’s potential here for raised arms and hallelujahs, granted those pews get filled. (Young)

7–10 p.m., free

Grace Cathedral

1100 California, SF

(415) 749 6300


Thao with The Get Down Stay Down

On the title track of Know Better Learn Faster (Kill Rock Stars), Thao Nguyen lustfully (and more than a little desperately) sings, "I need you to be /better than me /you need me to do /better than you." Nguyen’s romantic tendencies involve a kind of self-loathing that only she can make precious with lyrics like daggers thrown at a shiny backdrop of plucky guitars, blaring horns, and achy vocals. "What am I /just a body in your bed?" she asks with a punk’s sneer on "Body," before admitting "Won’t you reach for the body in your bed?" This is music to listen to when you’re sleeping with someone you shouldn’t be sleeping with. But disastrous love tastes a lot sweeter when you have a soundtrack like Thao with the Get Down Stay Down to listen to as you drive over train tracks in the middle of the night, telling yourself you’re not going back, and then turning around at the next stoplight. (Long)

With the Portland Cello Project, David Schultz

9 p.m., $17

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF




Pirates are honorary heathens, and none are more worthy of honor than Scottish pirate-metal sensations Alestorm. The pick of the Heathenfest litter, the Perth-based band has terrorized landlubbers the world over with their freebooting chops and foc’sle-ready melodies, the latter courtesy of singer/keyboardist Christopher Bowes, who wields a mighty keytar to get the peg-legs tapping. 2009’s Black Sails at Midnight (Napalm) made good on the promise shown by debut offering Captain Morgan’s Revenge (Napalm), and there is surely more plunder in store for the quartet as they ply the high seas and highways of the land. (Richardson)

With Eluveitie, Belphegor, Vreid, Kivimetsan Druidi

$22, 7:30

DNA Lounge

375 11th, SF




Bo Dixon in the Flesh

Hair has gotten a bad rap during certain eras of gay porn, but it’s been back with a vengeance in recent years, as baby-oil-slick twinks began sharing shelf and site spaces with men with an "edge." While Bo Dixon was a skinny toothsome kid at his college graduation, more recently he’s proven that hairiness is sexy. This former COLT Studio model is a serious bodybuilder, and he’ll be showing off his bronzed, fleshy, hairy strength at a calendar-signing for the brand-new Bo Dixon: Reinvented calendar. (Hsu)

7:30 p.m., free

A Different Light

489 Castro, SF

(415) 431-0891

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Pot in the kettle


Save for the teeny-weeny skirts and gunfights, Sandy Moriarty is like Nancy Botwin, the main character of Showtime’s Weeds. To casual observers, these women may look like regular God-fearing folk, but in their circle of marijuana smokers and edibles-eaters, both are local celebrities. Unlike the activities of her television counterpart, everything Moriarty does is legal.

Known now for best-selling lemon bars — sold exclusively through Oakland’s Blue Sky dispensary and made with her psychedelic 10X cannabutter — and as a cooking professor at Oakland’s Oaksterdam University, Moriarty’s culinary escapades with cannabis began as a personal endeavor to test the plant’s potency.

"I’ve always been interested in cooking and I was intrigued by the process of cooking with cannabis," said the Fairfield resident. "I wanted to push the plant to its limits and see what it could render me."

In the process, Moriarty discovered she could help a larger range of cannabis patients who needed stronger medication in their food. These "extreme case" patients, Moriarty said, include those with spinal injuries, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.

"The need for something stronger [than what was available] intrigued me," said the mother of two. "I wanted to help those people."

So for several years Moriarty sporadically experimented with different cooking techniques. Her aha! moment came in the fall of 2004, when she discovered that slowly simmering a mixture of butter, leaf shake, and water for a few hours would evaporate the water and render all the THC-rich trichomes off the leaves. Unlike the cannabutters she had produced before, she could smell a sweet, rich, and buttery aroma that had a nutty taste.

"I let other people try it, and when they started dropping like flies, I knew that was it," Moriarty said. "It was like — wow!"

The discovery helped the 58-year-old catapult her life in a new direction. Though still a property manager by day, Moriarty now tends simmering stockpots of cannabutter in the kitchen of her ranch-style home at least four times a week (usually in the late evening or near dawn). And since January 2008, she’s been sharing how to make her cannabutter, as well as other ways to cook with pot through oils and alcohol-based tinctures at Oaksterdam cannabis college.

Indeed, her cooking class — which is incorporated into a Oaksterdam weekend and semester curriculum that includes lessons on horticulture and politics/legal issues — is one of the most popular courses at the school. "A lot of students come just for the cooking," says Oaksterdam facilitator Trish Demesmin. "And once she gets to talking about her 10x butter, they’re all ears."

But Moriarty hasn’t stopped there. Feeling that she has conquered the realm of baked edibles — her creations, which are known for packing a potent THC punch without the ganja taste or smell, have gained something of a cult following — Moriarty is now focused on creating savory dishes such as pastas, salad dressings, and sandwiches. And thanks to the super-concentrated butter, Moriarty has been able to incorporate the green herb into dishes like fillet of sole Florentine, Thanksgiving turkey — even fried chicken. She plans to feature these dishes, along with recipes for baked goods, drinks, and vegan- and diabetes-friendly food items, in her upcoming cookbook, tentatively titled Cooking with Cannabis.

Moriarty’s brother Al Wilcox says his big sister has come a long way from her days of baking brownies filled with stems and seeds. Wilcox, who medicates every day to help his arthritis, said the greatest advantage of his sister’s food is that its strong potency means patients can eat less while watching their weight. The proud sibling predicts Moriarty could become the next Brownie Mary. "She’s done this all on her own, and she’s been real gung-ho about it," Wilcox said. "She wanted to help people, and now she is."

To attend Moriarty’s cooking class, enroll at Oaksterdam University, 1776 Broadway, Oakl. (510) 251-1544, Weekend seminars and semester-long courses are available. All students must be 18+. Nonmedical cardholders are welcome.


Want to take your Thanksgiving dinner to new heights? Try Moriarty’s recipes below.


1 cup cannabutter (plus an extra 1/2 cup or less to rub inside and outside of the turkey)

2 cup chopped onions

1 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 Tbs. fresh sage or 1 tsp. dried sage

1 Tbs. fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. clove

1 cup chicken stock

2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all the ingredients together, except for the chicken stock and eggs. Blend the mix with the chicken stock and eggs. Rub extra cannabutter on the outside and inside the cavity of the turkey. Stuff the turkey with stuffing mix and bake for 20 minutes per pound. Bake until outside of the turkey is golden brown and stuffing reached 165-degrees.


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbs. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup cannater melted

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×12 baking pan. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend the eggs, milk, sugar, and cannabutter together. Mix the flour and cannabutter mixtures together, including the blueberries. Bake for 30 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

6 innovative ice creams


It’s not just you. There really is an explosion of new places to get sweet, cold, creamy treats in the Bay Area. But why the new interest in this classic American dessert? Neil Gottlieb, founder of Three Twins in the Lower Haight, considers the trend the newest place the slow food movement is having an impact. "There’s a renaissance of making ice cream the way it should be made — with fresh ingredients." Jake Godby, chef/owner of Humphry Slocombe, agrees. "Ice cream is the new cupcake," he said. But does that mean the market will become oversaturated soon? Mitchell’s manager Linda Mitchell doubts it, explaining that people simply love ice cream — and have a seeming insatiable desire for new and interesting flavors. Plus, Godby adds, each specialty ice cream shop has its own niche. "We’re all kind of different from each other, and we all get along," he said. After extensive testing (and just a few ice cream headaches), we’ve discovered six of our favorite flavors from both new and long-beloved creameries. Pinkberry who?


You may scream for ice cream, but the yelling in my house came from my mother when I tried to nibble a block of Mexican baking chocolate: "That’s not candy!" Bouncing off the walls, I begged to differ. Now Mitchell’s, the family-run parlor that’s been open more than 50 years, has turned the spiced chocolate of my childhood dreams into a bona fide creamy dessert, rich in flavor and accented with blasts of cinnamon. Not even Mom can argue.

Mitchell’s, 688 San Jose, SF. (415) 648-2300,


This orgasmic flavor is what inspires people to wait in tangled lines, even in the middle of a rainstorm. Is it the first lick, when salt puckers your taste buds, that’s so enticing? Or the luscious sweetness of caramel that kicks in next? Or the pleasant surprise at the way the two meld into one perfect after-experience? It doesn’t matter. Thanks to flavor combinations like these, Bi-Rite’s ice cream, always made with organic dairy products from Straus Family Creamery, already feels like a San Francisco classic after only three years.

Bi-Rite Creamery, 3692 18th St., SF. (415) 626-5600,


Three Twins carries only eight flavors of its organic ice creams and sorbets at its tiny shop on Fillmore and Haight (and its several other locations, including one in Napa), so you never know what special flavors will be available. But if you can get the Domaine Carneros sorbet, made from unfermented pinot noir grapes, you won’t want to miss it. The delicate hint of wine mixes with ripe bursts of tangy, tart berries for an unexpectedly balanced flavor, pleasing your child-like and 21+ palate alike. (If the sorbet’s not available, you also can’t go wrong with Lemon Cookie, a Three Twins staple flavor.)

Three Twins, 254 Fillmore, SF. (415) ITS-TWIN,


Following the lead of spicemasters like Bombay Ice Cream, Mission District newcomer Xanath has turned the savory spice of saffron into a creamy, lush, and ginger-filled frozen treat. The young, family-owned parlor also offers an array of organic ice creams and vegan sorbets, including options like coconut, strawberry, and peanut butter. And we love the staff, not only because they’re extraordinarily friendly, but also because they let you try as many flavors as you like (before you inevitably settle on Saffron Ginger).

Xanath, 951 Valencia, SF. (415) 648-8996


I’d like to thank the crazy person who first made goat cheese gelato. In the meantime, I’ll just thank Holy Gelato!, the neighborhood shop that hosts this pungent, creamy party in your mouth. The quirky shop, featuring a picture of Darth Vader glaring at you from a heaping tub of gelato, makes sure you not only get an eyeful of eccentricity, but a mouthful of crazy flavors that’ll have you skipping back for more. (For your best goat cheese pairing, try an accompanying scoop of raspberry sorbet.)

Holy Gelato!, 1392 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 681-3061,


Sure, Humphry Slocombe may have a reputation as the latest hipster trend (and it is). But for good reason: its Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee flavor is the most phenomenal thing to happen to ice cream and coffee since the two were first mixed together in … who knows? The shop on Harrison and 23rd streets may be known for its way-out flavors, but it’s the combination of some of the best coffee in the city infused into this simple yet complex ice cream that makes this flavor a hit.

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, 2790 Harrison, SF. (415) 550-6971,

Buns and the city


DINE In our hamburger-challenged city, the Mission District would not seem to be a particularly promising place to go burger-hunting. The hamburger is the all-American statement food, while the Mission is many things, but probably not all-American. Among the most conspicuous burger outlets in the Mission is Whiz Burger, which has held down the corner of 18th Street and South Van Ness since time immemorial and even has a parking lot, as if Arthur Fonzarelli might soon be rolling up in a ’57 Chevy. I have eaten Whiz burgers from time to time, but I don’t remember them — and, in fact, not remembering the hamburgers one has eaten in San Francisco seems to be a central fact about eating hamburgers in San Francisco. They are, generally speaking, forgettable at best.

Why this is so remains a mystery to me. Part of the answer might involve the local tendencies toward preciousness and fuss — obsessing about the pedigree of the meat and the bun (ciabatta? focaccia? baked with organic flour?) and the fancy cheese on top, or the exotic bacon, or the foie gras. All these grand touches are ruinous. A hamburger should not be complicated or fussy. The meat should have fat in it and be adequately salted. The soft bun should be buttered and toasted or griddled a little. Maybe a slice of cheese; the best cheese is wrapped in plastic sheets. Nothing says "American" quite like plastic.

Because the Mission is such a gaudy potpourri of ethnicities, styles, and foods, eating a hamburger there could be seen as a particularly pathetic sort of defeat. You could have had dosas or pupusas or rendang curry for the same money, maybe less. On the other hand, maybe there’s an ironic appeal, and maybe that’s the bet placed by Urbun Burger, which opened recently in the heart of the Valencia Street scene in a space that once held Yum Yum House.

The aesthetic makeover, it must be said, is sensational, with a spic-and-span factor Ray Kroc himself would approve of. Despite the deepness and narrowness of the layout, there is a sunniness to things. Under the cashier’s station at the back is a panel of ceramic tiles in mod colors, while the tables sit on gleaming stainless-steel (or chrome) stems. Seating choices are unexpectedly vast; there are tables with taverna chairs, tables with barstools, and a long counter with barstools.

The turkey burger is to hamburger cookery what fish is in other kitchens: it is the test. A good turkey burger, like a good fish dish, doesn’t just happen. Turkey is unforgiving. It dries out easily and doesn’t taste like much. The best news I have to give about Urbun’s turkey burger ($7.75) is that the fries ($2.75) were excellent — tender-crispy, near-molten inside, well-seasoned. But the burger itself was rather dry and lifeless inside its glossy (egg-washed?) bun. Had the kitchen failed to take the necessary remedial steps of adding at least egg yolk, and maybe some oil, to the ground meat? A slice of pepper-jack cheese struggled to make itself noticed, while the restaurant’s signature urban sauce was a little too soupy to bring deliverance. But the fries!

While you can also get a vegan (although not a turkey) burger at Mission Burger, the real burger ($8) here is of beef. And not just beef but a blend of short rib, brisket, and chuck (all from Harris Ranch), none of which are exactly lean cuts. Plus, the patties are seared in beef fat. So moistness and flavor are not issues.

Neither is the setting, because for all practical purposes there is none. Mission Burger isn’t a restaurant, per se; it’s a kind of station at the end of the meat counter in the Duc Loi supermarket. You find it by locating the sign taped to an exhaust hood, as if the hood were a piece of oversized junk waiting on the sidewalk for a bulk-item collection by the trash company. Seating? There is a small family of low benches squatting against one wall, as if in the lounge of a forlorn regional airport. You probably don’t want to sit there. Mission Burger is fundamentally a takeout operation, but also a made-to-order one.

But one of the virtues of a genuine fatburger is that it travels well. As insurance, the briochy-looking bun is lined with jack cheese, spicy caper mayonnaise, and a slathering of caramelized onions. This combination isn’t exactly coherent, but it is tasty. Plus, there are fries, and they are as good as McDonald’s fries used to be back in the day when they were fried in beef tallow. For a bit of color: coleslaw made with red cabbage. It’s appealingly creamy, although that doesn’t do much for the calorie count — not that it matters in the shadow of Mount Fatburger. Could it be the highest point in the Mission?


Mon.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–10 p.m.;

Fri.–Sat., 11 a.m.–11 p.m.

581 Valencia, SF

(415) 551-2483

Beer and wine



Wheelchair accessible


Lunch: Fri.–Wed., noon–3 p.m.

2200 Mission, SF

(415) 551-1772

No alcohol



Wheelchair accessible

Events listings


Events listings are compiled by Paula Connelly. Submit items for the listings at


Jungle Effect Commonwealth Club, 2nd floor, 595 Market, SF; (415) 597-6700. 6pm, $15. Hear about the experience of Daphne Miller, MD, as she traveled to five countries around the world where common diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression, are rare to learn about how nutrition and indigenous foods can prevent chronic illnesses.


Old Growth Redwoods San Francisco Public Library, Richmond Branch, 351 9th Ave., SF; (415) 557-4277. 6:30pm, free. Learn about the beauty, delicate ecosystem, and challenges we face to preserve California’s old growth redwood forests at this slide show and discussion with William Walsh, development director of the San Francisco Bay chapter of the Sierra Club.

Passage of Tibet’s Salween River KoKo Cocktails, 1060 Geary, SF; (415) 885-4788. Listen to extreme traveler, author, and NPR commentator Craig Childs recount his experience in the first expedition to descended the upper Salween River in Tibet. Featuring breathtaking images and exclusive video footage.

Wild Imagination Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission, SF; (415) 655-7800, 6pm, free. Hear children’s books authors Daniel Handler, of the Lemony Snicket series, Lisa Brown, and Jonathan Keats explore the privilege of writing for and about children. In conjunction with Litquake and the current exhibition, There’s a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak.


Indigenous Permaculture Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo, Berk.; (510) 548-2220 ext.233. 6:30pm, $5-50. Learn about the methods and practices that traditional farmers from New Mexico use to steward land in order to create sustainable, self-sufficient communities.


Alternative Press Expo Concourse Exhibition Center, 620 7th St., SF; (619) 491-2475. Sat. 11am-7pm, Sun.11am-6pm; $10 , $15 both days. Attend fun and informative programs focused on special guests and various aspects of independent and alternative comics, including some of the top creative talent working in comics today.

Potrero Hill Festival Brunch at the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, 953 DeHaro; street fair 20th St. between Missouri and Arkansas, SF; Brunch 9am, street fair 11am; brunch $10, fair free. Enjoy a traditional New Orleans Jazz Brunch made by students of the California Culinary Academy before heading over to a street fair featuring local vendors selling wares, arts, and crafts, live music, and activities for kids.

SOEX Grand Opening Southern Exposure, 3030 20th Street, SF; (415) 863-2141. 4-10pm, free.

Celebrate Southern Exposure’s new location and the Bay Area artist community by attending their inaugural exhibition, Bellwether, and letting loose at a block party on Alabama between 19th and 20th St. Block party to feature outdoor seating, food from local street food vendors, and music.

Theater Chili Cook Off San Francisco LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market, SF; (415) 255-7846. 2pm; $1 for tastes, $30 all you can eat. Support Bay Area theater organizations while chowing down on some traditional, vegetarian, or "anything goes" chili and vote for your favorite. Featuring live music.

Vegan Bake Sale Ike’s Place, 3506 16th St., SF; 11am, free. Buy baked goods from over 40 bakers. including Violet Sweet Shoppe, Bike Basket Pies, and Fat Bottom Bakery. Proceeds from this delicious and conscientious sale to benefit Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue.


Festival De Los Volcanes Horace Mann Middle School, 3351 23rd St., SF; (415) 642-4404. 10am, free. Join in on this second annual Central American cultural celebration featuring prominent local musicians, poets, rap artists, and community leaders.

Futurism Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St., SF; (415) 647-2822. 4pm, 6pm, 7:30pm; $10, $15 for both programs. SFMOMA, Italian Cultural Institute, UC Berkeley, YBCA, and SF Center for the Book are teaming up to present a program in the tradition of the 100 year old avant-garde Futurism movement, which aims to combine every art medium. Enjoy a series of short live performances and films unique to this tradition at the Brava Theater. To find out about other Futurism programs happening throughout the Bay Area visit,


Gregory Maguire Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California, SF; (415) 292-1233. 8pm, $10-18. Step inside the mind of Gregory Maguire, best-selling author of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, which became the basis for the Tony Award-winning musical, Wicked.

Joyce Carol Oates Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, SF; (415) 392-4400. 8pm, $20. See Joyce Carol Oates, author of 39 novels, including three forthcoming books, in an interview with KQED’s Michael Krasny as part of a literary series benefiting the 826 Valencia College Scholarship Program.

Reel Fabulous New Conservatory Theater Center, Decker Theater, 25 Van Ness, SF; (415) 861-8972. 7:30pm, $30. Catch the one-night-only benefit starring Bay Area Emmy-winning producer, columnist, critic, and historian Jan Wahl titled, Reel Fabulous: LGBT in Hollywood. The performance will feature stories and clips from films directed by, written by, or starring LGBT artists and technicians.

Veterans Stories Project Oakland Veteran’s Hall, 200 Grand, Oak; (925) 684-4424. 10am, free. Contribute your Pearl Harbor and WWII stories for an online museum project designed to collect and preserve the personal recollections of U.S. wartime Veterans. Homefront civilians who worked in support of the armed forces are also invited to contribute.


Appetite: Joy of Sake and Ghirardelli Chocolate Fest bring the flavor


Every week, Virginia Miller of personalized itinerary service and monthly food, drink, and travel newsletter,, shares foodie news, events, and deals. View the last installment here.



9/10: Joy of Sake at Yoshi’s San Francisco
Though you cannot imagine a Japanese meal without sake, you know there’s a whole world of sakes out there you have yet to discover. The Joy of Sake is an annual event highlighting the best of the rice spirit, featuring 100 gold and silver award–winning sakes (and finalists) from the 2009 U.S. National Sake Appraisal. Junmai, ginjo, and daiginjo… it’s all here for tasting, including 49 unavailable in the U.S. In the past, this event has been held at hotels at a higher cost with over 200 sakes, beyond medal winners. This year, the best have been weeded out for you and it takes place in the ideal, Japanese-chic setting of Yoshi’s San Francisco. Skilled Executive Chef, Shotaro "Sho" Kamio, serves an all-inclusive menu of dishes like Okinawa rock sugar–braised short ribs with peach compote, Kakiage Tempura fritters with veggies, shrimps and scallops… or why not wood burning–oven roasted American Kobe Tri-tip with caramelized shallot teriyaki? It’s an education and a feast, all in one evening.
7:30–10:30pm (food 8-10pm)
$50 advance, $60 at the door
Yoshi’s on Fillmore
1330 Fillmore Street


9/12-13: Ghirardelli Square’s 14th Annual Chocolate Festival
If your not "festival-ed out" yet, it’s almost time for the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival, benefiting Project Open Hand. Going 14 years strong, the weekend hosts over 40 vendors serving chocolate well beyond truffles (including Amore Chocolate Pizza, Ana Mandara, Boomerang Vodka Chocolate Martinis, Bo’s Best Pancakes, Eat My Love For You Vegan Desserts, Gelateria Naia, Kara’s Cupcakes, Kika’s Treats, Mighty Leaf Tea, Pacific Puffs, Spun Sugar, The Toffee Company), loads of chef demos hosted by Season 3 Top Chef finalist, Casey Thompson, the “Hands Free Earthquake Ice Cream Sundae Eating Contest" (may be even be more fun to watch than to participate in), Cadillac Ride & Drive (Cadillac is displaying luxury cars in the Square while offering visitors an opportunity to test-drive the 2010 SRX – not sure what gets you ‘in’?), and Crown & Crumpet hosts a tea party with chocolate teas, scones, sandwiches and truffles (both days at 3pm, $12). Surrounded by chocolate sampling stations and views of the Bay, it’s not a bad weekend.
Free; $20 for 15 tasting tickets
9/12-13, 12-5pm
900 N. Point Street

Appetite: Joy of Sake and Ghirardelli Chocolate Fest bring the flavor


Every week, Virginia Miller of personalized itinerary service and monthly food, drink, and travel newsletter,, shares foodie news, events, and deals. View the last installment here.



9/10: Joy of Sake at Yoshi’s San Francisco
Though you cannot imagine a Japanese meal without sake, you know there’s a whole world of sakes out there you have yet to discover. The Joy of Sake is an annual event highlighting the best of the rice spirit, featuring 100 gold and silver award–winning sakes (and finalists) from the 2009 U.S. National Sake Appraisal. Junmai, ginjo, and daiginjo… it’s all here for tasting, including 49 unavailable in the U.S. In the past, this event has been held at hotels at a higher cost with over 200 sakes, beyond medal winners. This year, the best have been weeded out for you and it takes place in the ideal, Japanese-chic setting of Yoshi’s San Francisco. Skilled Executive Chef, Shotaro "Sho" Kamio, serves an all-inclusive menu of dishes like Okinawa rock sugar–braised short ribs with peach compote, Kakiage Tempura fritters with veggies, shrimps and scallops… or why not wood burning–oven roasted American Kobe Tri-tip with caramelized shallot teriyaki? It’s an education and a feast, all in one evening.
7:30–10:30pm (food 8-10pm)
$50 advance, $60 at the door
Yoshi’s on Fillmore
1330 Fillmore Street


9/12-13: Ghirardelli Square’s 14th Annual Chocolate Festival
If your not "festival-ed out" yet, it’s almost time for the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival, benefiting Project Open Hand. Going 14 years strong, the weekend hosts over 40 vendors serving chocolate well beyond truffles (including Amore Chocolate Pizza, Ana Mandara, Boomerang Vodka Chocolate Martinis, Bo’s Best Pancakes, Eat My Love For You Vegan Desserts, Gelateria Naia, Kara’s Cupcakes, Kika’s Treats, Mighty Leaf Tea, Pacific Puffs, Spun Sugar, The Toffee Company), loads of chef demos hosted by Season 3 Top Chef finalist, Casey Thompson, the “Hands Free Earthquake Ice Cream Sundae Eating Contest" (may be even be more fun to watch than to participate in), Cadillac Ride & Drive (Cadillac is displaying luxury cars in the Square while offering visitors an opportunity to test-drive the 2010 SRX – not sure what gets you ‘in’?), and Crown & Crumpet hosts a tea party with chocolate teas, scones, sandwiches and truffles (both days at 3pm, $12). Surrounded by chocolate sampling stations and views of the Bay, it’s not a bad weekend.
Free; $20 for 15 tasting tickets
9/12-13, 12-5pm
900 N. Point Street

Fall fairs and festivals


AUG 28-30

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival Golden Gate Park, SF; 12-10pm, $89.50-$225.50. SF’s best alternative to That Thing in the Desert is back for its second year, with headliners Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, and Tenacious D playing for you and two thousand of your closest friends.


Eat Real Festival Jack London Square, Oakl; Fri, 4-9pm; Sat, 10am-9pm; Sun, 10am-5pm. Free. Buy from your favorite street food vendors, sample microbrews at the Beer Shed, or shop in the market for local produce at this sister event to La Cocina’s Street Food Festival.

AUG 29-SEPT 20

SF Shakespeare Festival Presidio’s Main Post Parade Ground Lawn, between Graham and Keyes; Sat, 7:30pm; Sun, 2:30pm, free. The genius of Shakespeare in SF’s most relaxed setting.

SEPT 1-30

Architecture and the City Times, locations, and prices vary. The American Institute of Architects San Francisco chapter and the Center for Architecture + Design host the sixth annual fest, featuring home tours, films, exhibitions, dining by design, and more.

SEPT 5-6


Millbrae Art and Wine Festival Broadway Avenue between Victoria and Meadow Glen, Millbrae; (650) 697-7324, 10am-5pm, free. The Big Easy comes to Millbrae for this huge Labor Day weekend event.



Antiques and Collectibles Faire Alameda Point, Alameda; 9am-3pm, $5. California’s biggest and best antiques and collectibles extravaganza is back with 800 outdoor booths, with something for everyone.

SEPT 9-20

Fringe Festival Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy; 931-1094, Times and prices vary. An ever-changing collection of unusual and lively experimental theater pieces will be showcased over the course of 18 days.

SEPT 12-13

Chocolate Festival Ghirardelli Square; 1pm, free. Indulge in chocolate delicacies, sip wine, and enjoy chocolate-inspired family activities at this annual event benefiting Project Open Hand.

Power to the Peaceful Festival Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park; 9am, prices vary. Michael Franti and Guerrilla Management present the 11th annual festival dedicated to music, arts, action, and yoga. With Alanis Morrisette, Sly & Robbie, a special after party at the Fillmore, and workshops all day Sunday.


Mountain View Art and Wine Festival Castro Street between El Camino Real and Evelyn Ave, Mountain View; (650) 968-8378, 10am-6pm, free. More than 200,000 art lovers will gather for the 38th installment of one of America’s top art festivals, featuring crafts, live music, food, and drink.


Brews on the Bay Jeremiah O’Brien at Pier 45; 929-8374. Times, locations, and prices vary. The American Institute of Architects San Francisco chapter and the Center for Architecture + Design host the sixth annual fest, featuring home tours, films, exhibitions, dining by design, and more.

SEPT 17-21


Symbiosis Gathering Camp Mather, Yosemite; $180, includes camping. This synesthesia of art, music, transformational learning, and sustainable learning is quickly becoming one of NorCal’s favorite fall festivals. This year’s headliners include Les Claypool, Yard Dogs Road Show, Bassnectar, and the Glitch Mob.

SEPT 19-20

Autumn Moon Festival 667 Grant; 982-6306, 11am-6pm, free. Chinatown’s annual street fair features continuous Asian entertainment, lion dances, costumed artisans, cultural demonstrations, arts and crafts, and food vendors.


Folsom Street Fair Folsom Street between Seventh and 12 St; 11am-6pm, free. The world’s largest leather event covers 13 city blocks with entertainment, vendors, and plenty of spectacle.

OCT 2-5

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park; Check website for times. Free. Natalie MacMaster, Emmylou Harris, Aimee Mann, Neko Case, and many more perform for free in Golden Gate Park.


LovEvolution Civic Center Plaza; 12pm, free. The event formerly known as Love Parade may have a new name, but the music, color, and fun remains.

OCT 3-4

World Veg Festival San Francisco County Fair Bldg, Lincoln and Ninth Ave; 273-5481, 10am-6pm, $6. The San Francisco Vegetarian Society and In Defense of Animals present the 10th annual award-winning festival featuring lectures, cooking demos, vegan merchandise, and entertainment.


Castro Street Fair Castro at Market; 11am-6pm, free. The festival founded by Harvey Milk returns with the theme "Come Get Hitched in the Center of the Gay Universe," in an effort to keep the embers burning in the fight for equal rights.

OCT 9-17

Litquake Locations vary; Times vary, most events free. To commemorate its 10-year anniversary, the storytelling festival kicks off with the "Black, White, and Read" ball and continues with nine days of lit-themed programming.

OCT 11

San Francisco Decompression Indiana Street; Break our your still-dusty Burning Man costumes and welcome hard-working BMORG staff back to "Real Life" with this BRC-themed street fair and festival.

OCT 15

West Fest Speedway Meadows, Golden Gate Park; 9am-6pm, free. 2b1 Multimedia Inc., the Council of Light, and the original producer of Woodstock 1969 team up to celebrate Woodstock’s 40th anniversary with a free show featuring Country Joe, Denny Laine, Alameda All Stars, Michael McClure, and tons more.

OCT 16

WhiskyFest San Francisco Marriott, 55 Fourth St; 896-1600, 6:30-9:30pm, $95. America’s largest whisky celebration returns to SF for the third year with more than 200 of the world’s rarest and most expensive whiskies.

OCT 17

Potrero Hill Festival Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, 953 De Haro. 9am-5pm. This benefit for the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House features a jazz brunch catered by students of The California Culinary Academy and continues with a street fair along 20th Street between Missouri and Arkansas.

OCT 17-18

Treasure Island Music Festival Treasure Island; Fri-Sat, 11am. $65-$249. The Bay Area’s answer to Coachella (minus the camping, heat, and Orange County douchebags) is back, this year featuring The Flaming Lips, The Decemberists, Yo La Tengo, The Streets, and about 100 other indie favorites and up-and-comers.


Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival Main Street at Highways 1 and 92, Half Moon Bay. 9am-5pm, free. Jim Stevens and Friends will return to the world famous festival featuring music, crafts, parade, and children’s events.

OCT 23-24
Exotic Erotic Expo Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva; Fri, 2-10pm; Sat, 12-6pm; $20. Part Mardi Gras, part burlesque, and part rock concert, this two-day fest is a celebration of human sexuality and freedom of expression, with its crowning event the Exotic Erotic Ball on Saturday night.
Day of the Dead Starts at 24th and Bryant, ends at Garfield Park; 7pm, free. Celebrate this traditional Latin holiday – and SF institution — with a procession and Festival of Altars.
NOV 13-15
SF Green Festival San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 Eighth St; Fri, 12-7pm; Sat, 10am-7pm; Sun, 11am-6pm. $15-$25. A joint project of Global Exchange and Green America, this three-day event features the best in green speakers and special events.
NOV 27-DEC 20
Great Dickens Christmas Fair Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva; Fri-Sun, 11am-7pm. Check website for ticket prices. Channel Charles Dickens’ Victorian London with this 90,000 square-foot theatrical extravaganza.

Worth it


CHEAP EATS He signs his e-mails Romeo. I sign mine Juliet. It’s cute, but you try not to think about how that one ends.

You know … well, you probably don’t know, so I’ll tell ya: if you’re a trans woman dating men, you can spend years and years and years trying to find one who doesn’t either cream his pants or throw up as soon as you take your clothes off. And then, by some miracle of shifting continents and a spectacularly rare alignment of stars, planets, and good hair days, you do! You find, in fact, the one. Now, like everybody else in love, you have to kinda wait. And see. What happens.

There are questions. There is distance. There are Capulets and Montagues, jobs, exes, currents. There are riptides and undertows, sharks, lions and tigers and bears … and there are days when you feel like you are on Cloud 10. I like those days. They’re way better than the other ones, where you feel like you are hacking your way through a jungle of impossibility with a plastic butter knife and without mosquito repellent.

Yo, Shakey, is this what love is supposed to feel like? A million mosquito bites? Probably not, but I’ll take it. I’ll take it because it’s perfect. It’s perfect! It really is — give or take 5,822 miles and a logistical conundrum that would make Alfred North Whitehead reach for his binkie — perfect.

My head hurts. Again. (And again and again.) The last time I remember feeling really physically good, let’s see, I was sitting in my new favorite restaurant with my soccery girlfriends, eating grilled meatball and green apple spring rolls dipped in this insanely delicious orange pork sauce.

And if you think that sounds slightly odd, the next item on the menu is a grilled shrimp Popsicle on sugar cane.

No, it’s not some kind of funky fusion foofoo place, it’s Pot de Pho, Geary and Parker streets, and I love it. Yeah, it’s a little pricier than most Vietnamese restaurants, but worth it because it’s worth it, and fun. They don’t overly worry about authenticity. I like that. It’s like, let’s do Vietnamese food with all the best ingredients possible, well-researched recipes, and a sense of fun.

Our waiterguyperson, like the menu, was full of enthusiasm. He told us he was starting a new happy hour thing, making cocktails and punch and stuff using just wine and sake by way of alcohol.

The pho was good, I didn’t order it, of course, because I’d eaten noodle soup for lunch and dinner the day before, and still had a big pot of it at home in my fridge. But I did taste.

It’s $10 for a large bowl, $8.75 for a medium, and $5 child size. And, although they do offer a chicken pho, a vegan pho, and even (for a couple bucks more) an ahi tuna pho, they don’t offer tendon and tripe as options for their beef pho.

That’s the kind of thing I might have made fun of them for a few years ago — even though I would have been snickering over a bowl with just rare steak, every time.


Bean sprouts are in the soup, not on the side. Wide rice noodles instead of vermicelli. They have a Vietnamese sandwich, but in a green onion crepe instead of a crusty French roll … The authenticity snobs will complain. But you know what? The older I get, the more I couldn’t care less about words like authentic and traditional, and grammar in general.

If it wasn’t for inauthenticity and maltradition somewhere down the line, we’d all be having bananas and bugs for lunch. Thank you, I’ll try the green apple spring rolls and green onion crepes.

Speaking of crepes, I’m pretty sure the French gave pho to the Vietnamese, not to mention French bread.

That’s why Pot de Pho is my new favorite restaurant, for giving us grilled shrimp Popsicles. And because the teacups are a pretty shade of green, and the chairs there are cushy and comfortable. I need that right now. Pretty shades of green and a soft, comfy chair.


Tues.-Thurs., Sun.: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Fri.-Sat.: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; closed Mon.

3300 Geary, SF

(415) 668-0826

Wine, beer


L.E. Leone’s new book is Big Bend (Sparkle Street Books), a collection of short fiction.

The Blender: What we’ve been eating


By the peckish Guardian Staff


(1) Tonno puttanesca, Pesce, SF

(2) Meyer lemon ginger ale

(3) Tofu stew and vegan brownies, San Francisco Zen Center

(4) Trader Joe’s chile-spiced mango slices

(5) Fish tacos and mango agua fresca, El Metate