|lllustration by Mie Hommura
It's all you, dear readers. The response to this year's Best of the Bay poll was overwhelming, and the array of nominations that stuffed our mail slot and streamed through our Web site was so impressive, we were tempted to create several new awards on the spot so all your varied Best Of choices could be honored. But rules are rules, and the winners of the preordained categories took the lead (although there were more than a few close races). This year, more than 7,000 of you pitched a ruckus for your Bay Area faves, voting in classic categories such as Best Nude Beach, Best Salsa Club, Best Vietnamese Sandwich, and Best Mechanic. Some of the winners came as no surprise; others knocked our socks off. Thank you for continuing to open our eyes to new (and vintage) wonders of the Bay and for reaffirming our belief that living here is an endless, mindblowing process of exploration and discovery. Cheers to all the winners below, to all the runners-up, and to you, voters, for championing the things you treasure.
Food and Drink
BEST NEW RESTAURANT
How does a casual, American-food restaurant come to be one of the most coveted reservations in town? Consistently friendly service, innovative cocktails, and a lofty, jaw-dropping decor are a great start, of course, but the food at NOPA is comfort all the way, as are the prices, a combination that keeps our readers going back again and again.
560 Divisadero, SF. (415) 864-8643, www.nopasf.com
BEST RESTAURANT THAT'S MORE THAN 25 YEARS OLD
Located in a stunning building that skirts the line between industrial and intimate, Zuni offers a menu that our readers love. The American bistro fare here is refined, comforting, and always tastier than you remembered.
1658 Market, SF. (415) 552-2522, www.zunicafe.com
It's easy to while away your hours people-watching at Café Flore , a welcome dose of Euro-charm in the Castro. And it doesn't hurt that the café offers comfy outdoor seating, premium coffee, and blood orange mimosas by the pitcher.
2298 Market, SF. (415) 621-8579, www.cafeflore.com
BEST VIETNAMESE SANDWICH
Philly has the cheesesteak, Chicago has the hot dog - but they don't know what they're missing. San Franciscans get to stuff their faces with marinated pork, barbecue chicken, or tofu banh mi from Saigon Sandwiches - and all for under three bucks.
560 Larkin, SF. (415) 474-5698
BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT
Delfina is the little trattoria that keeps blowing our readers' minds - and we totally understand. Seasonal cooking, a gracious staff, and prescient wine pairings keep this Mission neighborhood spot at the top of its class.
3621 18th St., SF. (415) 552-4055, www.delfinasf.com
BEST BOWL OF NOODLES
When it comes to slurp-worthy noodles, there's nothing like a sure thing. With dirt-cheap prices, consistently tasty dishes, and five convenient locations, King of Thai is the no-frills noodle joint that our readers turn to.
639 Clement, SF. (415) 752-5198; 346 Clement, SF. (415) 831-9953; 3199 Clement, SF. (415) 831-1301; 1507 Taraval, SF. (415) 682-9958; 1507 Sloat, SF. (415) 566-9921. www.kingofthainoodle.com
It's the Evander Holyfield of taquerías; other burritos keep lining up, but Can-Cun just keeps knocking 'em down. Regardless of where our readers' burrito loyalties lie, they can't resist the perfectly seasoned meat, beans, and rice concoction that the folks at Can-Cun lovingly wrap in a soft, slightly seared tortilla.
2288 Mission, SF. (415) 252-9560; 3211 Mission, SF. (415) 550-1414; 1003 Market, SF. (415) 864-6773
BEST SMALL PLATES
The thing about tapas is that the servings are so small. At Cha Cha Cha, the small plates are big enough to share. But Cha Cha Cha didn't snag this award on food alone - our readers come here for the kitschy decor, festive vibe, and deliciously inspiring sangria.
1801 Haight, SF. (415) 386-7670; 2327 Mission, SF. (415) 648-0504.
Our readers like to go where the food is as loud as the music - and in both cases, Blowfish turns up the volume. The cyber-chic decor has just the right amount of Zen, the food is innovative and always fresh, and the anime LCD screens add just enough geekiness to soften the hipster edge of this popular mainstay.
2170 Bryant, SF. (415) 285-3848, www.blowfishsushi.com
BEST TURKISH RESTAURANT
Whether you go with the lamb or the doner, the meat at cozy little Tenderloin spot A la Turca is always perfectly flavored, tender, and as authentic as anything you'd find in Turkey (or Germany, depending on your reference point). But our readers know that the only true test of a Turkish restaurant is the bread - and this place nails it.
869 Geary, SF. (415) 345-1011
BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT
For saag and saffron with a little class, our readers head to Indian Oven. The tandoori at the Lower Haight haunt is to die for, the pakoras are always deliciously crisp, and the naan will have any dieter worshipping at the carb altar in no time.
233 Fillmore, SF. (415) 626-1628, www.indianovensf.com
BEST PERUVIAN RESTAURANT
The menu at Fresca can be intimidating. Everything from the seared ahi to the herb-crusted rack of lamb screams, "Order me!" Particularly daunting is the extensive seviche selection; if it swims or slithers in the sea, it's served fresh at this tiny chain.
24 W. Portal, SF. (415) 759-8087; 2114 Fillmore, SF. (415) 447-2668; 3945 24th St., SF. (415) 695-0549. www.frescasf.com
BEST BURMESE RESTAURANT
Besides heavenly traditional meat and vegetable dishes, Burma Superstar serves up a 22-ingredient rainbow version of a salad that our readers can't get enough of. The Inner Richmond favorite is packed with salivating crowds every night of the week, but the things Burma does with lentils, curry, and basil are well worth the wait.
309 Clement, SF. (415) 387-2147, www.burmasuperstar.com
San Francisco's affection for late-night libations makes brunch an everyday affair - who the hell is awake for breakfast, anyway? Pairing a quaint French atmosphere with a half-dozen delicious takes on eggs Benedict, Zazie snags the top spot in this highly competitive category.
941 Cole, SF. (415) 564-5332, www.zaziesf.com
BEST RESTAURANT WITH AN OCEAN VIEW
There's only one thing better than watching the sun set over the Pacific: sipping a giant martini and popping calamari into your mouth amid the lavishly deco decor of the Cliff House while you're doing it.
1090 Point Lobos, SF. (415) 386-3330, www.cliffhouse.com
We might be geographically challenged when it comes to barbecue, but San Franciscans know that tender, sweet-smoked meat isn't all there is to the BBQ experience. The secret is in the sauce - and Memphis Minnie's gives you three exquisite table-top options, elevating urban tailgating to a lip-smacking, finger-licking art.
576 Haight, SF. (415) 864-7675, www.memphisminnies.com
BEST LATE-NIGHT RESTAURANT
By the time last call rolls around, there's only one thing on our readers' minds. No, not that - we're talking about grease, and lots of it. Sparky's has been the default late-night spot for years because of its central location, kitschy decor, and excellence in pleasing carnies and veggies alike.
242 Church, SF. (415) 626-8666
BEST SPLURGE RESTAURANT (MORE THAN $20 PER PERSON)
When they're looking to get their uppity on, our readers head to the restaurant that put San Francisco on the culinary radar of foodies around the world. Gary Danko turns up the wow factor on every aspect of the dining experience, from the mind-blowing cheese selection right down to the doting waitstaff.
800 N. Point, SF. (415) 749-2060, www.garydanko.com
BEST CHEAP RESTAURANT (LESS THAN $6 PER PERSON)
Life's rewards never come without a price. Luckily for our readers, the price to pay in this case isn't in dollars but in the shifty trip down a sketched-out block of Sixth Street. Tu Lan is worth it, though; once you get inside, just shout out any number, proceed to stuff your face, and remember that, no, you can't fit the entire plate in your mouth at once.
8 Sixth St., SF. (415) 626-0927
BEST DOUGHNUT SHOP
The broken-down ambience at Bob's Doughnuts is a little Twin Peaks-ish, but our readers don't come for the decor. Open till the wee hours, Bob's does most of its baking just before last call, and it doesn't go for that newfangled Krispy stuff - just classic rings of fried dough that taste sublime.
1621 Polk, SF. (415) 776-3141
BEST INDEPENDENT COFFEEHOUSE
Peddling superior free-trade coffee and an unabashedly scenester vibe, Ritual Roasters gives our readers their fix. The minimalist decor is accented by eye-catching artwork, a sea of Mac laptops, underemployed hipsters, and irreverently obscure music; Ritual can make its customers cool by mere association.
1026 Valencia, SF. (415) 641-1024, www.ritualroasters.com
BEST SELECTION OF BEERS
If you're plagued by indecision, it's best to stay far away from the Toronado. Our readers love this Lower Haight beer bar for its extensive, rotating menu of imports and exports that keeps them eenie-meenie-miney-moe-ing all day long.
547 Haight, SF. (415) 863-2276, www.toronado.com
BEST WINES BY THE GLASS
"Great wine - no pretense." That's the formula by which Hidden Vine in Nob Hill operates. The staff here are redefining wine culture by dissolving the snoot factor, making it safe for the vinophile in all of us to shine.
620 Post, SF. (415) 674-3567, www.thehiddenvine.com
No one has ever eaten a Joseph Schmidt chocolate without moaning, sighing, or crying a little. The San Francisco institution is all about quality and luxury - and it's been getting our readers some romantic action (we hope) for years, one truffle at a time.
3489 16th St., SF. (415) 861-8682, www.josephschmidtconfections.com
BEST BURGER AND FRIES
Organic Niman Ranch beef expertly charbroiled, locally grown veggies, and fries that make you forget that a certain chain restaurant ever existed add up to the best burgers and sides in town. Our readers drool in their dreams for Burgermeister.
86 Carl, SF. (415) 566-1274; 759 Columbus, SF. (415) 296-9907; 138 Church, SF. (415) 437-2874. www.burgermeistersf.com
BEST LOCALLY MADE BREAD
You know how Dr. Atkins really died, don't you? He was wandering the streets of San Francisco and caught a whiff of freshly baked bread in the air, which he followed to the Acme Bread Co. Surrounded by steaming croissants and sweet baguettes, he cried, "What have I done to the world?" and committed seppuku right then and there.
Ferry Bldg. Marketplace, No. 15, Embarcadero at Market, SF. (415) 288-2978
BEST CHEESE SHOP
The Cowgirl Creamery can make a fromage enthusiast out of anyone. From stinky to sweet, flaky to creamy, the Ferry Building oasis doles out ample free samples, gift baskets designed to please, and cheese-filled goody bags for those who just can't decide.
Ferry Bldg. Marketplace, No. 17, Embarcadero at Market, SF. (415) 362-9350, www.cowgirlcreamery.com
BEST TEA SHOP
Our tea-savvy readers know that there is a high road and a low road to the leafy stuff. The low road involves bags, overprocessing, and staples, while the high road, i.e. Samovar, is all about quality, ritual, and that special uplifting feeling you get from a great hand-brewed cuppa.
498 Sanchez, SF. (415) 626-4700; Yerba Buena Gardens, upper terrace, 730 Howard, SF. (415) 227-9400. www.samovartea.com
BEST BLOODY MARY
Nothing says, "I'm too hungover to go to work today" to our readers like bellying up to the bar at Zeitgeist for the best Bloody Mary around. They concur that there's just no better way to satisfy your daily veggie requirement while making your liver scream.
199 Valencia, SF. (415) 255-7505
BEST VEGAN RESTARAUNT
Sustainable agriculture, local produce, and ecological responsibility aren't enough for our readers - they like their dinner alive. That's why they head to Café Gratitude. The communal seating, organic menu, and "eating in the now" mind-set also help make this their go-to vegan-nosh spot.
2400 Harrison, SF. (415) 824-4652; 1336 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 665-0335; 1730 Shattuck, Berk. (415) 824-4652, ext. 3. www.withthecurrent.com
Lifting mere starters to haute cuisine heights, the Social Plates at Sauce do their Best Of title proud. Innovative appetizers like ham-and-cheese Tater Tots, chili-mango crab wontons, and those infamous portobello mushroom fries are built to share - but perhaps our readers prefer not to.
131 Gough, SF. (415) 252-1369
Screw breakfast - our readers consider dessert to be the most important meal of the day. And when they get that sweet-time feeling, they head to the Hayes Valley spot with enough tarts, cakes, and parfaits to make teeth ache from a mile away. Proof positive that Citizen Cake rocks a cupcake harder than Orson Welles rocks a flashback.
399 Grove, SF. (415) 861-2228, www.citizencake.com
BEST FARMERS MARKET
Our readers love to get their produce loose from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. At this waterfront haven, the goods are local and organic, the flowers are fresh cut, and artisanal products abound. And there's nothing like the feeling of buying garlic pistachios and heirloom tomatoes in the bracing breezes blowing off the bay.
Ferry Bldg. Marketplace, Embarcadero at Market, SF. (415) 693-0996, www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com
Nightlife and Entertainment
BEST REP FILM HOUSE
Whether they're in the mood for the artsy antics of Matthew Barney, yearning for the kitsch of 3-D porno, or just looking to brush up on their Big Lebowski recitation skills, our readers fix their film jones on the well-worn couches of cozy independent neighborhood co-op the Red Vic Movie House. Don't forget to grab a bag of nutritional yeast popcorn!
1727 Haight, SF. (415) 668-3994, www.redvicmoviehouse.com
BEST MOVIE THEATER
Single-screen movie palace the Castro Theatre features a live organist, a classic neon marquee, and a stellar lineup of indie, classic, and art flicks. It's easy to get swept away here to the days of yesteryear, when going to the movies meant something more than forking over obscene amounts of money and suffering through an endless stream of Top 40 cell phone rings.
429 Castro, SF. (415) 621-6120, www.castrotheatre.com
BEST THEATER COMPANY
That troupe of irreverent tricksters BATS Improv has entered its second decade of interactive fun with no signs of slowing down. If screaming things from your seat, watching people make fools of themselves, and laughing until your guts hurt sounds like a great time to you - and it does to our readers - haul ass to see these perennial Bests.
Fort Mason Center, Bldg. B, Marina at Laguna, SF.
(415) 474-8935, www.improv.org
BEST DANCE COMPANY
Our readers never tire of seeing the impossibly toned performers of ODC/Dance contort their bodies into innovative and thought-provoking poses with seemingly no regard for the force of gravity. ODC's progressive approach to all dance styles keeps San Francisco dance fans on their toes.
3153 17th St, SF. (415) 863-9834, www.odcdance.org
BEST ART GALLERY
Tiny neighborhood co-op City Arts Gallery is a true gem, offering our readers a chance to view the world through different eyes in an accessible atmosphere. It also claims to sell more than 30 paintings a month - proof that a gallery can have community-minded scruples and still turn a profit.
828 Valencia, SF. (415) 970-9900, www.cityartgallery.org
The largest cultural gift ever given to the city of San Francisco, the de Young Museum comes wrapped up in a swanky copper package, filled with treasures, and topped with a tower in lieu of a bow. The permanent collections are exquisite, and temporary exhibits such as the recent Vivienne Westwood retrospective really shine in the new space.
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, SF. (415) 750-3600, www.thinker.org/deyoung
BEST MIXED-USE ARTS SPACE
Is there no limit to the things the folks at CELLspace can conceive? Roller-skating and dance parties, classes in everything from fire dancing to metalsmithing, zine festivals, even the occasional indoor circus - CELLspace hosts it all.
2050 Bryant, SF. (415) 648-7562, www.cellspace.org
BEST DANCE CLUB
What do you get when you combine Run DMC, Metallica, a couple of hundred pairs of fishnet stockings, and a few heavy-handed bartenders? One hell of a morning after. Blame it on Bootie. The monthly mashup club loves to blur the lines - between Modest Mouse and Grandmaster Flash, say, or Devo and Destiny's Child - and our readers love it.
DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF. (415) 626-1409, www.bootiesf.com
BEST ROCK CLUB
There's one in every town, a divey little venue with an unbelievable knack for consistently booking the best bands around. Bottom of the Hill is San Francisco's little rock 'n' roll gem - even the boondock location is no match for the cheap drinks, friendly staff, and smoker-convenient back patio.
1233 17th St., SF. (415) 621-4455, www.bottomofthehill.com
BEST HIP-HOP CLUB
When they've got an itch for a legit hip-hop vibe in a downtown location, our readers head to Club Six. The upstairs lounge-gallery is the perfect chill-out space after braving the packed beats-and-rhymes extravaganza (often live) in the basement below.
60 Sixth St., SF. (415) 863-1221, www.clubsix1.com
BEST JAZZ CLUB
Our readers like their Manhattans neat, their sushi flopping fresh, and their jazz red hot. Yoshi's is the classy Oakland spot that has perfected all three. The sound is always excellent, there's not a bad seat in the house, and the musicians are class acts all the way.
510 Embarcadero West, Jack London Square, Oakl. (510) 238-9200, www.yoshis.com
BEST SALSA CLUB
There's nothing like a gigantic dance floor packed with writhing couples dripping with sweat and sex. Café Cocomo keeps the passion flowing by offering salsa classes and booking world-class entertainment. The result? A stunningly attractive, enthusiastic, and talented pool of muy caliente salsa enthusiasts.
650 Indiana, SF. (415) 824-6910, www.cafecocomo.com
BEST AFTER-HOURS CLUB
Last call can be a very confusing and disorienting thing: suddenly the lights are brighter, and the bartender isn't quite as friendly. And then suddenly you're at the Endup . How did you get there, reader? Who cares? You're already dancing wildly with a hot, ambiguously gendered castoff from another bar. Yes, once again, you've ended up at the Endup. Let the good times roll!
401 Sixth St., SF. (415) 646-0999, www.theendup.com
BEST HAPPY HOUR
Two-buck drinks in a trilevel bar with a waterfall? Oh readers, you are so classy. Happy hour at Jade always pulls in the best-dressed nine-to-fivers in town, and it wins yet again for the best early-evening cocktails around.
650 Gough, SF. (415) 869-1900, www.jadebar.com
BEST DIVE BAR
Open at 6 a.m., the 500 Club is the ideal start (or finish) to our readers' adventures in barhopping, with a pool table, a well-stocked juke, and a generous bartender pouring cheap drinks. Why do they call it the 500 Club? Because that's how many scene points you get for scoring one of the cozy leather booths on a Friday night.
500 Guerrero, SF. (415) 861-2500
BEST SWANKY BAR
A library in a bar? How very San Francisco. Our readers like to work out their highbrow at the Bourbon and Branch. Just ring the bell and whisper the secret password (hint: almost scuba backward), and you're swooped away to the X-rated subtext of a Sherlock Holmes tale, full of expensive drinks, a sultry decor, and mirrored (ahem) tables for your amusement.
501 Jones, SF. www.bourbonandbranch.com
BEST TRIVIA NIGHT
When gunning for trivia champion, our readers find that nothing aids the intellectual journey like a perfectly poured pint of Guinness, a deliciously greasy parcel of fish-and-chips, and the old-world ambience of the Edinburgh Castle Pub. Every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m., Castle Quiz host Carl Gibbs fires off rounds of titillating questions for crowds of amateur academics hoping to win free drinks, strange prizes, and the chance to lord a mastery of useless knowledge over their friends.
950 Geary, SF. (415) 885-4074, www.castlenews.com
These days, everyone's a DJ. When listening to yet another forgotten '80s hit played ironically on your local bartender's iPod gets old, it's time to haul ass to the Lucky 13. The jukebox there is well stocked with all the music you love - ironically or otherwise. Cue the Thin Lizzy, dude.
2140 Market, SF. (415) 487-1313
BEST KARAOKE BAR
What could be more rewarding than belting out a soulful, if off-key, rendition of Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield"? Getting mic time at the Mint to do it. It's true that our readers' perpetual favorite karaoke joint is always packed to capacity with peeps jonesing for a stage fix, but that just means there's always an audience to applaud, laugh, and cringe at your attempts to make like American Idol .
1942 Market, SF. (415) 626-4726, www.themint.net
BEST CLUB FOR QUEER MEN
Our readers expect more from a gay bar - this is San Francisco, after all. Dancing trannies, off-kilter costumes, and killer music are all musts, but our readers also prefer that all snootiness be left at the door. Since 1966 the Stud has been fulfilling that somewhat impossible request.
399 Ninth St., SF. (415) 252-STUD, www.studsf.com
BEST CLUB FOR QUEER WOMEN
This Mission dive is no stroll through the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, and it doesn't claim to be. Our readers love the Lexington Club for its rotating local art, dirt-cheap drinks, and devil-may-care attitude. Oh yeah, and the hot, hot girls.
3464 19th St., SF. (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com
BEST CLUB FOR TRANNIES
For any San Franciscan in (or out) of their right mind, Tuesday nights are Trannyshack nights. After more than a decade, the off-kilter glam explosion, hosted by the indomitable Heklina, is still finding new and boisterous ways to combine trash with class - or at least blood with sequins.
Stud, 399 Ninth St., SF. (415) 252-7883, www.trannyshack.com
BEST ELECTRONIC MUSIC ACT
The most bleep-worthy duo in the Bay Area by our readers' lights, Kepi and Kat fry all competitors again this year. Is it Kat's poignant vocal tracks, Kepi's studio skills, or the fact that the world-class dance act croon electro on video game soundtracks?
BEST HIP-HOP GROUP
While everyone else has been getting hyphy, Zion I have been getting real - laying down infectious tracks with such precision that they could only be the result of a long and illicit love affair with a studio console.
BEST INDIE BAND
Tartufi write songs like they're folding towels fresh from the dryer. Traveling the seam between coo and caw, the duo churn out lush and layered soundscapes that billow with cerebral grace, prog-perfect texture, and a deliciously abstract abrasion that our readers adore.
BEST COVER BAND
Unabashedly, unapologetically, perhaps even unironically rocking the Sting legacy, Stung is sending an SOS around the Bay Area. And while that power trio may be bringing new life to old Gordy's catalog, it's AC/DShe who turn on the red light. Still sexin' up that highway to hell, these ladies don't hold back. Your favorite tribute bands tied up the cover-band category this year - do we smell a rock-off in the making?
BEST BAND NAME
We don't know what the fabulous ladies of San Francisco's favorite trans band, Lipstick Conspiracy, are up to right now - but we do know that they've infiltrated the local media, the worldwide Pride scene, and the hearts of our readers. We suspect they're presently plotting to overthrow the domain of power pop with their distinctive brand of ambiguity.
DJs don't develop a cult following in this town very easily - it takes a lot of skill, an ear for mixing, and positive energy to keep the gyrating hordes a-flutter. DJ Vahid is the real deal for our readers, and now that he's landed a gravy gig at 1015 Folsom, adoring dance junkies can hear a lot more of him.
BEST BURLESQUE ACT
What's your poison, dear readers? Buxom pirate wenches? Leggy Vegas showgirls? The lusty frills of a Barbary broad? The Twilight Vixen Revue has got you covered, though its dancers can't say the same about themselves. These talented burlesque mamas are taking it off, one perfectly executed number at a time.
BEST DRAG ACT
Risqué doesn't even begin to cover it. Charlie Horse is performance chaos at its peak: a makeshift Grand Guignol constructed in the middle of a psychotic child's birthday party, with former Miss Trannyshack Anna Conda in the middle of it all, like a deranged - yet pretty - ringleader. Catch Charlie Horse every Friday night at raunchy Polk bar the Cinch.
Magician, juggler, mime, comedian - one-man vaudeville act Robert Strong is the kind of performer who attracts accolades like "Hot Ticket!" "Laugh Riot!" and "Brilliant!" But that may only scrape the surface. He's performed everywhere from cruise ships to the White House, and he's only just begun.
BEST OPEN MIC NIGHT
From hookers to thieves, bootleggers to beats, the Hotel Utah has always had a thing for the underdog. For almost a hundred years, anyone has been able to walk through these doors, get liquored up, and play the very public fool. And the saloon's Monday-night open mic has long been a breeding ground for new talent - the generous stage here has hosted Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and, most important, you!
500 Fourth St., SF. (415) 546-6300, www.hotelutah.com
BEST LITERARY NIGHT
Tickling the underbelly of the literary set, Writers with Drinks is the roving monthly that refuses to be pigeonholed. Booking sex workers alongside children's book authors, hosting theme nights, and making sure everyone always has a drink in hand, WWD has made a movement out of a cliché.
Outdoors and Sports
BEST PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM
We love our home baseball team. Why do you think we drape all our high school kids in Giants jerseys? That's showing some love right there. So is voting them Best Professional Sports Team again this year.
Ever notice those weird, shiny-skinned, happy people walking down Market Street in the Castro or getting into their cars on Brannan Street in SoMa? No, they're not fashion models or movie stars. They're members of Gold's Gym , the largest coed gym franchise in the world and our readers' choice.
1001 Brannan, SF. (415) 552-465;
2301 Market, SF. (415) 626-4488. www.goldsgym.com
BEST YOGA STUDIO
If you live in San Francisco and don't do the downward dog every morning, something is wrong with you. Maybe you should eat more organic greens. For our readers, Yoga Tree is the nirvana of workshops, retreats, and private instruction.
780 Stanyan, SF. (415) 387-4707; 1234 Valencia, SF. (415) 647-9707; 519 Hayes, SF. (415) 626-9707; 97 Collingwood, SF. (415) 701-YOGA. www.yogatreesf.com
BEST DANCE STUDIO
Our readers learn how to shake their stuff at the Temple of Poi, where the instructors school them in the fine arts of fire spinning, juggling, and hula-hooping.
953 Mission, SF. (415) 543-4911, www.templeofpoi.com
BEST PUBLIC SPORTS FACILITY; BEST PUBLIC PARK
Why pay $60 a month for a gym membership when you have free access to the best sports facility in the Bay Area? You can do anything at Golden Gate Park. Archery, cycling, basketball, fishing, golf - the park has it all. And that's leaving out some of the things that make it our readers' favorite public park as well: a Chinese tea garden, hippy-friendly knolls, flowers, sexy fitness freaks, proximity to the beach, sheer size, and, of course, people selling magic brownies. Plus, with its car-free Sundays, winding paths, and little cement breakaways, it's our readers' favorite place to skate.
BEST PERSONAL TRAINER
Our readers love HoopGirl. She has big baby-doll eyes, wears tight-fitting, midriff-bearing shirts, and teaches an erotic exercise program using a modified children's toy (the hula hoop) as her sole piece of equipment. What's not to love?
BEST PUBLIC POOL
The last outdoor community pool in San Francisco, Mission Pool is the one our readers dive into when they need to get their swim on. The pool is only open during the summer, but it's perfect for a good old-fashioned dip in the sunshine.
19th St. and Linda, SF. (415) 695-5002
BEST SURF SPOT
Ocean Beach is a gangster-ass surf spot. The water is freezing, the harsh wind blows in a thousand directions at once, and it's dangerous. But that's what surfing is all about: risk. This ain't Los Angeles, brah. Our spots are for real surfers.
Great Hwy. between Geary and Sloat, SF
BEST PARK FOR HIKING
Our readers love to hike in Berkeley's Tilden Park. And with its gorgeous, nature-ridden trails for beginner, intermediate, and advanced hikers, it's no wonder it holds such hoofer appeal.
Grizzly Peak Blvd. and Wildcat Canyon Road, Berk. (510) 562-PARK, www.ebparks.org
BEST NUDE BEACH; BEST CLOTHED BEACH
Just like the different-bellied Sneetches of Dr. Seuss, the clothed and unclothed fans of Baker Beach have found a happy middle ground in their ongoing fight for the right to claim it as their favorite hangout.
Off Lincoln Blvd., Battery and Gibson, Presidio, SF. www.nps.gov/prsf/places/bakerbch.htm
BEST NATURE SPOT FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Readers facing challenges getting around appreciate Muir Woods for its wide trails and accessible vistas. They also appreciate the fact that, along with dogs and picnics, bicycling is not permitted in the park, so there's not much traffic.
Muir Woods Road and Camino del Canyon, Mill Valley. (415) 388-2595, www.visitmuirwoods.com
BEST PICNIC SPOT
Our readers continue to laud the eminently picnic-able Dolores Park for its views, facilities, and overall atmosphere. After the deviled eggs are eaten, it's also a great spot to join a drunken kickball match or catch some sun in a pink Speedo.
Between Dolores, Church, 18th, and 20th sts., SF. www.parks.sfgov.org
BEST DOG PARK
We asked a hundred dogs where we could find the best dog park in the city, and 99 of them said Fort Funston. The other dog, a Los Angeles–born Pomeranian, said the water at Funston was too chilly for his taste. Whatever, man. Where else can a pup frolic in Pacific Ocean waves and then chill with his bitch on a grassy knoll when he's done? Nowhere.
Skyline at John Muir Blvd. www.fortfunstondog.org
When the frantic pace of the city gets to be too much, our readers book a spot at Angel Island. Wind-sheltered and semiprivate, the campsites at Angel Island are the perfect remedy for the fog city blues.
BEST PLACE TO SEE THE STARS
The Marin Headlands aren't some cheesy vista spot. They're a full-fledged camping experience. Our readers love to sip wine and ponder existence as they watch the fog eat the city, then lie back and watch the stars put on a show just for them. Cosmic.
BEST CITY VISTA
It's official: we live in the most beautiful city in the world. There's the Golden Gate Bridge, the parks, the crazy hills, the pastel colors, the towers ... and the best place to see it all at one time is on top of Twin Peaks, according to our readers.
Top of Twin Peaks Blvd., SF
BEST INDEPENDENT, USED BOOKSTORE
Big corporate bookstores lack personality. And used bookstores often lack selection. Our readers love Green Apple because it's got the best of both worlds: a ton of quality books you actually want to read, a helpful staff, a history that goes back 40 years, and an SF-appropriate dog-friendly policy.
506 Clement, SF. (415) 387-2272, www.greenapplebooks.com
BEST COMIC BOOK STORE
Comic books and creepy, hole-in-the-wall stores don't have to go hand in hand. At Isotope Comics you can get your mainstream and obscure comics and graphic novels in clean, classy, modern style.
326 Fell, SF. (415) 621-6543, www.isotopecomics.com
BEST MAGAZINE SELECTION
Looking for a French fashion mag or a publication dedicated solely to scale models of airplanes? Look no further than Fog City News, our readers' favorite place to find Women's Day and W, all with a side of insanely good chocolate.
455 Market, SF. (415) 543-7400, www.fogcitynews.com
BEST SPECIALTY BOOKSELLER
From Sufism to the cult of The Secret, Fields Books has our readers' spiritual needs covered. The Polk Street favorite has been selling books, candles, and knickknacks and hosting in-store events with enlightened authors since 1932.
1419 Polk, SF. (415) 673-2027, www.fieldsbooks.com
BEST PLACE TO BUY VINYL; BEST PLACE TO BUY CDS
Now almost as much a San Francisco institution as the bridge (yeah, that one) or that cruisey windmill in Golden Gate Park, Amoeba Music has maintained its reputation as the best place in the Bay Area to buy music - thanks to a huge selection and a knowledgeable staff - since it first set up shop in Berkeley 17 years ago.
1855 Haight, SF. (415) 831-1200; 2455 Telegraph, Berk. (510) 549-1125. www.amoebamusic.com
BEST PLACE TO RENT MOVIES
Blockbuster might do for those looking for 47 copies of that awful Jennifer Lopez movie (which one?), but our readers have more eclectic tastes. That's why they rush to Le Video, the movie mecca for cult films, silent movies, hard-to-find erotica, and TV series on DVD.
1231 Ninth Ave., SF. (415) 566-3606, www.levideo.com
BEST CLOTHING STORE (WOMEN)
Free People, French Connection, BCBG, Betsey Johnson ... when it comes to unique dresses, trendy shirts, to-die-for shoes, and help choosing all of 'em, it's Ambiance our readers turn to.
1458 Haight, SF. (415) 552-5095; 3985 and 3989 24th St., SF. (415) 647-7144; 1864 and 1858 Union, SF. (415) 923-9797. www.ambiancesf.com
BEST CLOTHING STORE (MEN)
Wow! It only just appeared on our radar, and now it's won a Best of the Bay award. The tiny yet infinitely stylish T Shop in the Castro, featuring all the crazy-print racing caps and dashing T-shirts our