As we do every year, Northside San Francisco‘s annual holiday gift guide focuses on locally owned businesses here in the Northside. There are all kinds of reasons for shopping locally, not the least of which is recirculating our money in our own neighborhoods and reducing our environmental impact – walking down the street or hopping on Muni to shop creates far less pollution and congestion than driving the car to a mall of homogenous stores.
For this year’s guide, we rallied the troops and sent them to twice as many neighborhoods as last year. In the following pages you’ll find their Fab Five gift picks as well as Fab Five places to refuel during your holiday shopping in the Ferry Building, North Beach, Russian Hill, Union Street, Chestnut Street, Laurel Heights, Fillmore Street, and the Tenderloin. Yes, you read that correctly, this much-maligned, troubled area is cleaning up, sporting some trendy shops and tasty eats.
So we hope you enjoy our suggestions as you shop this holiday season, knowing that you are supporting the merchants who have helped to make our neighborhoods the ones we choose to live in.
Fab Five: FERRY BUILDING
By Ed Attanasio
Shop 26, 415-981-8181,
This store is small, but packed with gardening and cooking supplies including shopping carts, totes and baskets, cookbooks and cutting boards, bowls and platters, napkins, candles, vases – everything necessary for setting a generous table and celebrating the seasonal harvest from the garden. Give a holiday gift that will blossom with these narcissus bulbs that grow in their own little vases even in the fog and cold of the City. $1 each or 12 for $10 (small vases and growing rocks $15 each)
Other Fab Finds:
Gardening tools and designer gloves; The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market Cookbook
by Tim Flach (all proceeds benefit the Milo Foundation dog rescue)
Shop 35, 415-576-1700,
Culinaire features primarily French antiques for and about food, and you’ll find many one-of-a-kind items that say “class” and illustrate the simple fact that quality matters. This is the perfect store for foodies, chefs and everyone who likes to cook and entertain friends. If napkins can ever be considered art, these 19th century French linen napkins surely fit the bill. Hand monogrammed
and hand hemmed for a formal look, they will enhance family dinners and special occasions while accenting your dinner table year-round. $48 each
Other Fab Finds: Tableware, copper cookware, fish pans, stockpots
Frog Hollow Farm
Space 46, 415-445-0900,
Gift Baskets & Combo Packs
If you haven’t sampled the preserves from Frog Hollow Farm, you’re probably in a jam taste-wise. Packed with freshness and flavor, Frog Hollow Farm produces some of the finest tree-ripened peaches, cherries, apricots, nectarines, pears, pluots, and plums. Based on a community-supported agriculture business model, this company goes 100 percent organic on everything they grow or create. Gift baskets and combo packs contain jams, dried fruit and granola, and you can literally assemble them yourself with a little assistance from the helpful folks who work there. $38-$89
Other Fab Finds: Baked goods, conserves, chutneys
Farm Fresh to You
Shop 9, 415-834-9981,
Fruit & Vegetable Baskets
No time to make it to the farmers’ market? Sign up with Farm Fresh to You and you’ll find beautifully fresh fruit and vegetable baskets delivered to your doorstop on a schedule you devise. Located in Capay Valley, this farm grows incredible 100 percent organic produce. It’s a local, green and a healthful way to eat in 2011. $25-$31.50 (weekly or bimonthly deliveries)
Other Fab Finds: Wide range of specialty gourmet and organic items, like Vosges chocolates; La Tourangelle almond and hazelnut cooking oils; fresh berries; holiday chestnuts
Shop 12, 415-399-9284,
Heath Ceramics has been making high-quality, affordable tableware and homeware ceramics since 1948 in its factory right across the bay in Sausalito. With 60 skilled craftsmen on their crew, Heath is known for simple, elegant designs that are both beautiful and practical. This stylish espresso set is one of their prime examples of mid-century American potteries. $32
Other Fab Finds: Designer aprons; wooden pate knives; Studio44Eighty pepper mills; cheeseboard sets
Fab Five Places to Eat: FERRY BUILDING
Shop 48, 415-399-1155,
With a different menu every day for breakfast and lunch, Boulette’s is all about quality, freshness and variety. Pick up prepared meals like vegetable borscht; Sicilian rustic spicy tomato-braised chicken leg; or a pimentón-braised Llano Seco Rancho pulled-pork sandwich to die for. This place is no longer a secret, but the service is always excellent and the staff knows the food inside and out.
Imperial Tea Court
Shop 27, 415-544-9830,
Imperial Tea Court is an elegant, traditional Chinese teahouse that sells and serves some of the world’s finest handpicked Chinese tea. They also serve a plethora of snacks and light meals for lunch and dinner, including Niman Ranch pork buns; red bean paste buns; and vegetarian buns made with mustard greens and shitaki. The shop is also renowned as an exclusive source for rare and beautiful traditional Chinese tea ware, with many items handmade by master artisans.
Shop 45, 415-834-0344,
Delica is a Japanese deli and sushi bar with sozai, which means small plates Japanese-style. For lunch or dinner, sample their hijiki seaweed salad; veggie rolls; smoked wild salmon rolls; and other sushi rolls for side dishes; and main course offerings like tofu and chicken patties; and freshly fried foods like Kobe-style croquettes filled with potatoes, shrimp or meat.
Il Cane Rosso
Shop 41, 415-391-7599,
Daniel Patterson (chef-owner of Coi) brings delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners to the Ferry Building every day, and even in this “Foodie Ville,” Il Cane Rosso’s rotisserie roasted meats and sandwiches stand out in a big way. Try their fried egg sandwich with pancetta with spring onion butter and mozzarella, house-made yogurt with blackberries, and the Marin Sun Farms pork and cabbage stew.
Shop 6, 415-318-3423,
Gott’s gets it right by preparing fast, fine food created by working closely with local small farms and artisan producers, and every morsel is well-thought out and health-focused. Are you a tray gourmet – someone who wants top-tier cuisine fast, but at reasonable prices? Find it here for lunch or dinner with ahi burgers, garlic fries, local fish ’n’ chips, soft-shell crab tacos, duck confit tacos, portabella Reuben sandwiches, and more.
Fab Five: NORTH BEACH
By Ernest Beyl
1500 Grant Avenue (at Union),
Lily Flower Ring in White Rhodium
Mea Cinis is a tiny museum-like space operated by local metal-smith designer Mike Leon. The shop displays ancient and modern artifacts – antiques from Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand. There’s a contemporary silver necklace inset with a 6th century B.C. Indo Chinese glass disk for your sweetie – or for yourself? It’s $2,300. A bargain if Mike will part with it. Or how about this white rhodium lily flower ring with a brushed matte silver finish? $375
Other Fab Finds: Handcrafted gold and silver rings, bracelets and necklaces
Schein & Schein
1435 Grant Avenue, 415-399-8883, www.scheinandschein.com
Rare California Wine Map
Jimmie and Marti Schein collect rare maps, prints and other ephemera. One particular focus is historical San Francisco material dating to the 1840s when the City was a rough-and-ready village. This rare wine map was published by the California Wine Advisory Board in 1945 and is illustrated by Ruth Taylor-White. $1,400
Other Fab Finds: California coastal survey maps; 19th century botanical and animal prints; satiric cartoons from British magazines dating to 1750; and 14th century illuminated manuscripts; $20–$20,000
Tai Yick Trading Company
1400 Powell Street (at Broadway), 415-986-0961, www.taiyick.net
Ceramic Garden Stools
This 50-year-old, family-operated Chinese trading company sells porcelain and ceramic objects at exceptionally modest prices. The incredibly cluttered shop is stacked from floor to ceiling with hundreds of beautiful items, including these ceramic garden stools (used nowadays in fashionable living rooms) in a pale green that Asians call celadon or in Chinese imperial yellow. For anyone thinking of getting me a holiday present, I think this imperial yellow garden stool would suit me fine. $95–$125
Other Fab Finds: Bowls, pots, jars, figurines, vases, brush holders, and incense burners
City Lights Booksellers and Publishers
261 Columbus Avenue (at Broadway), 415-362-8193, www.citylights.com
‘Howl & OTHER POEMS,’ by Allen Ginsberg; ‘Coney Island of the Mind,’ by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s landmark bookshop is where Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and other beats hung out back in the ’50s. Today, it’s a magnet for baby boomer tourists and their offspring, but locals are hip to shopping here, too. $8 & $10 ($24 for special 50th anniversary edition of the Ferlinghetti masterpiece)
Other Fab Finds: Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, by Rebecca Solnit; first edition copy of The Old Ways, by Gary Snyder; handmade letterpress poetry broadsides; Beat photographs by Larry Keenan
Biordi Art Imports
412 Columbus Avenue (at Green),
This family-run business opened in 1946 and is the place to find classic Italian pottery from Deruta, Orvieto, Siena, Ricciarelli, and more – extraordinary dinnerware, vases, trays, decorative pieces, and tableware, like these colorful cups from Deruta. $110
Other Fab Finds: Jewelry boxes, soap dispensers, ornaments, and wall hangings
Fab Five Places to Eat: NORTH BEACH
1600 Stockton Street (near Union), 415-986-3414,
Overlooking Washington Square Park, Café Divine is perfect for a cappuccino or a casual bite. Spectacular breakfasts are served until 1 p.m. It also serves outstanding sandwiches and salads. Frequently there’s live music, and the gallery space on the walls can feature some interesting work, so you might also want to shop the gallery space.
373 Columbus Avenue (at Vallejo), 415-421-2337
Perhaps no other institution represents the heady essence of North Beach today better than Molinari. It dates to 1896 and has always been at this same hallowed site. It’s a good idea to stop at Molinari for sustenance when you shop in North Beach for their great deli sandwiches and cold salads. Eat ’em there on the sidewalk.
155 Columbus Avenue (near Pacific), 415-617-0071,
Although open for less than a year, the Comstock Saloon evokes North Beach’s brash and bawdy past. It occupies the historic space that has served as a hangout for San Franciscans since 1907. There’s an assortment of early California dishes like a shrimp Louis and a fried oyster po’boy sandwich, as well as snacks and classic cocktails.
Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store and Cafe
566 Columbus Avenue (at Union), 415-362-0536
Oral history has it that this funky little cafe, which does not in fact sell cigars, dates back to the 1920s when it did. Over the years this hole-in-the-wall has had several owners, but in 1972, Mario Crismani, a retired police inspector from Trieste, took it over, and his son still operates it today. So let’s forget the cigars and dwell on the panini or focaccia sandwiches, admirable pizzas, cannelloni, lasagna, and eggplant parmigiana. And, if you wish, a tumbler of red wine, then an espresso or a cappuccino will get your engine started again. With a few tables and a bar-counter, the place is an unlikely combination of old school, North Beach Italian tradition, and young, finger-snapping pop culture. The sound system is programmed with heavy metal, blues, hip hop, Israeli pop, gypsy punk, and whatever else strikes the fancy of the all-purpose countermen Jacob and Alby, who supply a twitter of hipster playfulness that attracts locals and visitors alike.
308 Columbus Avenue (at Broadway), 415-392-9677,
One doesn’t usually associate North Beach with Mexican food, but in the case of Taqueria Zorro that would be wrong. This taqueria is as good as the more highly touted places in the Mission, which is saying it’s about as good as it gets. The burritos are magnificent bombs with either black beans or refried pintos, meat of your choice, and all the usual trimmings. Yes, there is good Mexican beer, but also a selection of wonderful fruit juices like cantaloupe, strawberry and tamarind. Also worth considering is the classic Mexican hangover cure, menudo – tripe soup. It’s only served on weekends, which assumes hangover cures are only necessary then. As a bonus, while slurping your menudo you can watch Mexico City TV.
Fab Five: RUSSIAN HILL
By Iris Rowlee
2001 Polk Street (near Pacific),
Fog City Gift Basket
This store is a foodie’s dream. Owner Ray Bair, former director of cheese, wine and specialty food for Whole Food Markets, is an avid traveler, constantly seeking out the best products to bring back to his store for lucky us. If you’re planning to send a gift basket this holiday season, check out their selection. This cornucopia of Bay Area specialty foods is sure to be a cheery gift. $85
Other Fab Finds: Hard-to-find artisan food, beer and wine, with and a deli packed with the best meats and cheeses
Molte Cose & Belle Cose
2036 & 2044 Polk Street (near
‘Mansilk’ Silk Boxers
Owner Teresa Nittolo has lived in the neighborhood and walked to work since opening her doors on Polk Street in 1990. This connected two-shop extravaganza is a go-to, one-stop shop for everyone on your list with vintage and boutique apparel, jewelry and homeware as well as art and kids’ toys with a focus on local, green designers and artists. These silk boxers, made by internationally acclaimed, local lingerie designer Mary Green, would make a pretty sexy stocking stuffer. $30
Other Fab Finds: Great selection of holiday cookie cutters; cuff links made from vintage Muni tokens; vintage Trader Vic cocktail glasses
2354 Polk Street (at Union), 415-400-4299, www.michellehomme.wordpress.com
Painter Michelle Homme, whose store is a recent addition to Polk Street, has local art of all mediums at realistic prices. Check out these effortlessly cool bird pillows hand sewn by local fashion designer Adrian Leong. Down-filled with a hand-stitched appliqué sourced from local workrooms and upholstery shops, this pillow will make a one-of-a-kind addition to your favorite art admirer’s collection. $120
Other Fab Finds: Striking black and white photo by Fran Meckler, “Bubbies at the Beach” ($500), of two women sunning with the Golden Gate sprawling majestically in the background; hip selection of vintage furniture
1210 Union Street (at Hyde),
Gold-Filled Star Locket with Center French Paste Stone, c. 1900
Chic yet warm, Elle-Même showcases vintage fashion and antique fine jewelry painstakingly acquired by owner Denise Kohne. All of her jewelry is at least 25 years old with period pieces dating to the 1800s. Her collection so well covers the last century there is a museum-like feel to the store, with an impressive collection of lockets. Put a special trinket or picture inside this one for a particularly meaningful present. $340
Other Fab Finds: Victorian era necklaces; Roaring Twenties cocktail rings; streamlined Art Deco earrings; chunky sixties bangles to hip-modern designs
2010 Hyde Street (near Union), 415-776-0104, www.busaccagallery.com
Broken Baby Porcelain Pieces
The Busacca Gallery is a treasure trove of the well traveled – jam packed with museum quality antiques, art pieces and oddities. The gallery also plays headquarters to owner Mark Busacca’s online art and antiques consignment service. Of particular note is Busacca’s own art: in a very non-morbid, playful way, he collects antique porcelain doll parts and assembles them into dynamic and thought-provoking pieces of art. $275
Other Fab Finds: Vintage chessboards; bronze sculptures; antique vases; marble boxes; carved figurines; and antique silver cigarette cases conjure up notions of a fine study
Fab Five Places to Eat: RUSSIAN HILL
1500 Hyde Street (at Jackson), 415-447-4100, www.cafenook.com
Perched on the corner of Jackson and Hyde, Nook is a refined little cafe and wine bar. Sweet and often sunny, it boasts sophisticated, health-conscious fare with ample breakfast and lunch plates. Standouts include fluffy, golden waffles and fresh salads and sandwiches. Small plates like the three cheeses with fig spread and walnut bread make a great accompaniment to Nook’s diverse and affordable wine list, with most bottles under $30.
1448 Pacific Avenue (at Morrell), 415-673-2961, www.milanosf.com
Classy and exuding that “Italians just know how to eat” sort of phenomenon, Ristorante Milano showcases authentic northern Italian cuisine. Owner and executive chef Aldo Blasi was born and raised in Rome, learning the ropes as a child in his grandfather’s restaurant. He makes all of the pasta, gnocchi, bread, and desserts in-house daily. A discerning and refined selection of Italian and American wine complements the cuisine. Try the delicate house-made ravioli; nibble on the grilled sardines over seared fennel; save room for the shaved espresso ice with whipped cream.
1896 Hyde Street (at Green), 415-674-4343, www.luellasf.com
Luella is a neighborhood gem serving up American comfort cuisine with that culture-fusing, sustainable, seasonal, slow food California twist. Asian and Italian influences appear in the form of duck confit imperial rolls; ahi tartare tacos; and pizzetta and pasta, while some of the classic favorites are Coca-Cola-braised pork shoulder and beef Wellington. The wine list accordingly highlights California’s best. They offer prix fixe dinners as well as a Sunday kids’ night.
1919 Hyde Street (near Green), 415-771-3100, www.zapizzasf.com
Stop by ZA for a quick bite in a relaxed and friendly environment. One of their huge slices with a very thin, crispy crust, well-spiced sauce, and fresh, inventive toppings along with a beer is the perfect refuel for your holiday shopping excursion. The menu features daily slices as well as whole pies and salads. Try the Potesto, a divine combination of roasted red potatoes and pesto.
2424 Van Ness Ave (near Green), 415-345-0072,
This longtime local favorite keeps people coming back, serving up exceptional Afghani cuisine. Perfectly prepared meats and vegetables, balanced flavors, and delicate aromas coupled with warm staff and reasonable prices make Helmand a positive experience all around. Not only is it family owned and operated, it’s the only Afghani restaurant in the City. Try the popular kaddo borawni, a baked pumpkin specialty; aushak, delicious leek-scallion ravioli; mantwo, a fluffy meat- and veggie-stuffed pastry; the many variety platters, and ever-nourishing soups.
Fab Five: UNION STREET
By Lynette Majer
Fatto a Mano
1800 Union Street (at Octavia),
‘Perle’ Venetian Glassware
Strolling through Heather Dempsey’s store is like taking a mini vacation to Italy, and like most things Italy, this glassware line is a visual treat. Designer Federico de Majo started in the family business on Murano and now makes these award-winning hand-blown and crafted glasses, bowls and pitchers using age-old methods so each piece is unique. By Zafferano, $42–$195
Other Fab Finds: Consigli family handmade knives; Tuscan olivewood cutting boards, bowls and salt cellars; Dr. Vranjes room fragrance; Florentine boxes, trays and mirrors; handmade jewelry with vintage pieces by Heather’s mom, Jan
1861 Union Street (at Octavia), 415-775-1610, www.eurasianinteriors.com
‘Jardins’ Ceramic Chinoiserie Container Candle
Shop dog, Tienna, watches over an eclectic mix of antiques spanning styles and centuries as well as a variety of home décor items. These beautiful, cleverly concealed candles in hand-painted gold-accented ceramic containers illustrated in the Chinoiserie tradition come in five colors with exotic fragrances like wild lotus and monarch quince are definitely two gifts in one. By Seda France, $39.
Other Fab Finds: Zulu wire basket; 19th century Chinese pillow boxes and jewelry boxes; Italian marble coasters; porcelain mugs in matching gift box
2149 Union Street (near Fillmore),
‘Let Them Wear Glass’ Earrings
Set back in a charming courtyard, Atys’s Paul Kerr will make you an espresso while you browse his
extraordinary collection of “living accessories.” These simple but elegant sterling silver, hand-blown glass earrings come in a variety of colors both clear and opaque. The packaging, in a tiny glass jar, is just about as cute and clever as it gets. By Verre New York (but made in California), a portion of all sales benefit charities, $48–$88.
Other Fab Finds: Ron Arad cocktail shaker; Nuance mortar and pestle; Missoni Home throws; Tsubota Pearl perfume atomizer
2274 Union Street (near Steiner),
Artichoke Decoupaged Serving Tray
Cheryl Modica stocks her sister Annie’s line of these gorgeous serving trays, lazy Susans, wastebaskets, and tissue holders. But this is not your sister’s high school decoupage project: in her San Rafael studio, Annie uses an extensive 18-step process, finished with a high-gloss resin, and the results are simply stunning. $210
Other Fab Finds: Juliska mouth-blown glassware; Laura Zindel naturalism-inspired ceramic serveware; Pacific Heights-based NOAH (NO Animals Harmed) handbags; Neeru Kumar French-knotted silk pillows
Photo courtesy of
Corey Lynn Calter
2277 Union Street (at Steiner),
Vintage-Inspired Lace Shift Dress
Petaluma-raised Meggie White returned from art school in SoCal to set up shop right here on Union Street. This adorable little dress in a timeless style flatters any shape and is feminine to boot. Speaking of, our art director, Sara, and I think it would look great with leather boots. By Corey Lynn Calter, $258
Other Fab Finds: Decorative white starfishes; crocheted eternity scarves; exclusive line of fabulously fragrant soy candles; handmade jewelry by Ms. Meggie herself
Fab Five Places to Eat: UNION STREET
Roam Artisan Burgers
1785 Union Street (between Gough & Octavia), 415-440-7626, www.roamburgers.com
Far from your typical burger joint, Roam focuses on local, fresh, seasonal, organic, sustainable, free-range, and grass-fed. Choose a beef, bison, turkey, or veggie burger in suggested combinations (like the Chalet with Swiss and crimini mushrooms) or build your own from a list of tasty sauces and toppings. Don’t forget the fries with custom seasonings like chipotle maple (great on the sweet potato fries) or the Straus Family shakes.
Cafe Des Amis
2000 Union Street (at Buchanan), 415-563-7700,
This is certainly the prettiest restaurant on the street, inside and out, and the food won’t disappoint either with a substantial all-day menu of classic French favorites. You can’t go wrong with the escargots made with bone marrow; the cassoulet with duck confit and pork belly; or the fruits de mer. Get the full menu in all seating areas: the cool zinc bar; the cozy bistro bar tables; the coveted, heated sidewalk; or in the restaurant proper.
Unwind on Union St.
1875 Union Street (at Laguna), 415-931-3436,
Owners Kai and Todd will take care of you for lunch, dinner or weekend brunch whether inside, on the skylighted back bar and patio, or at the sidewalk tables. Don’t miss the lobster corndog; chicken noodle soup; steak and Caesar wraps; and fish tacos. Warning: if you sit at a sidewalk table, Tienna, the black and tan German shepherd mix from Eurasian Imports, may want to share your meal, but pay her no mind.
2184 Union Street (at Fillmore), 415-563-1853
Jovino has all bases covered: order breakfast (like a flipped egg sandwich or a breakfast burrito) until 3 p.m.; for lunch or dinner, a large assortment of salads, burgers, sandwiches, and more with daily specials, like the Wednesday Chicken Soul Food for $10. A comfy-casual atmosphere with high-tops, a communal table and sidewalk seating, the service is friendly and laid-back: When I ordered a latte then discovered I had no money, the counter person told me to just bring it in next time – how nice is that?
2298 Union Street (at Steiner), 415-775-2200, www.rosescafesf.com
Neighborhood stalwart, Rose’s outdoor tables beckon year-round, thanks to self-controlled overhead heating. The menu changes slightly each day to reflect what’s in season and is posted on their website. Favorites include the breakfast pizza with ham, fontina & egg; the salmon cozy sandwich; and house-made focaccia with olive oil tastings (take away a cup for $18). If Fido is your shopping companion, be sure to ask for one of the house-baked, bone-shaped dog biscuits. Happy hour 4–6 p.m. with half-priced wines by the glass.
Fab Five: CHESTNUT STREET
By Cindy Beckman
2379 Chestnut Street (near Divisadero), 415-673-3669, www.weolive.com
We Olive Blood Orange Olive Oil and Vinegar
Food gifts are tricky these days with so many friends and relatives on special diets, but you can’t go wrong with healthful olive oils and vinegars. These are perfectly flavored with the tart, fresh essence of blood orange. Use alone or together as a delicious dressing for spinach, mixed greens, steamed vegetables, even strawberries, or as a bright addition to marinades. My mouth waters every time I think about these two! $12 each/275 ml
Other Fab Finds: Harris Ranch Napa Valley California Organic Balsamic Vinegar is the only California-made balsamic; bulk Olio Nuovo 2010 is from the first press of 2010 – in a signature We Olive bottle, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime gift!
2185 Chestnut Street (near Pierce),
Dav Rain Boots
La Niña has arrived and we could all use something to keep us smiling through the rainy days ahead. Dav wedge-heeled rain boots have a studded, wrapped-belt detail that will make puddle jumping stylish … maybe even fun again! $95
Other Fab Finds: Affordable Bella bags come in a variety of sizes and colorful prints that can be personalized with peel-and-stick monograms; for the iFanatic in your life, fashionable iTouch knit gloves have special pads on the thumb and forefinger that keep touchscreens usable while your digits stay toasty warm
3237 Pierce Street, 415-440-1000, www.sloatgardens.com
Bulbs in Glass Containers
The perfect hostess gift is one that requires minimal prep work and offers the maximum impact. Preplanted Amaryllis and paperwhite bulb kits abound, but few are as beautiful as the preplanted vases at Sloat. You can choose single or multiple bulbs in glass containers of various sizes and shapes – the larger sizes have layered planting materials for that extra pop. $20–$130
Other Fab Finds: Orchids in bloom are a gift that keeps on giving; Wally planting pockets create an instantly lush vertical garden indoors or out
2209 Chestnut Street (near Pierce),
The Fort Point Surfer Graphic T-Shirt
Now, something for the guys. You know what they really covet is their favorite broken-in (or broken-down) t-shirt. Marina Layer knows that, too, and their brand is built on that premise: super-soft, preshrunk tees and polos that feel just that good from Day 1. All shirts are made from sustainably sourced fiber and produced completely in California. They also carry in-between sizes, so now there is a perfect fit for that medium-large, or “marge,” man in your life! $35
Other Fab Finds: Marine Layer now has a line of shirts for women, too
2080 Chestnut Street (at Steiner),
Nioi Side-Wrap Sweater
If you’re looking for something for that special woman, you can’t go wrong with something from Rabat: clothing, shoes, jewelry, bags, and accessories in fresh styles that suit a wide range of tastes. The Nioi knee-length, side-wrap sweater with a ribbon tie (black in a lambs wool/alpaca/acrylic blend) has decorative detailing front and back so she’ll look good from all angles. Luxurious, soft, warm, and huggable … just like your girl! $230
Other Fab Finds: Hobo leopard print bag – Rabat has one of the best selections of Hobo bags, clutches and wallets in town; a fabulous collection of Boho wrist warmers from fun to classy in wool and cashmere blends
Fab Five Places to Eat: CHESTNUT STREET
3340 Steiner (between Chestnut and Lombard), 415-202-0100, www.bistroaix.com
If you do your holiday shopping after dark, having a delectable dinner destination is a well-earned reward for your gift-buying efforts. If you haven’t been to the remodeled Bistro Aix yet, it’s time you made a reservation. The baby beet salad, gnocchi and bouillabaisse are a few favorites.
Blue Barn Gourmet
2105 Chestnut Street (at Steiner), 415-441-3232,
For lunch or early dinner, choose salads from the chefs or sandwiches from the press – the selections will satisfy vegetarian to artery-clogging taste buds. Whether you eat-in (it’s a tight fit!) or take-out, you can dine with a clear conscience as Blue Barn is passionate about using local, organic and sustainable products.
2120 Chestnut Street (near Steiner), 415-921-7873,
Order lunch or dinner to go at the Marina’s classic and enduring deli – Lucca celebrates 81 years in business this month! Sandwiches are filled with fresh-cut meats and cheeses to your specifications. You can’t go wrong with their handmade fresh ravioli paired with Lucca’s own Bolognese or marinara sauce – instant dinner with little fuss.
2942 Lyon Street (at
If you end up having way too much fun shopping and need a late-night dinner spot, comfy-cozy Lil’s serves food until 1 a.m. Tuesday–Saturday and 11 p.m. Sunday–Monday. The Liverpool burger, classic fish and chips, or shepherd’s pie with a pint will bring a calm (and tasty) end to your hectic shopping day.
Paxti’s Chicago Pizza / Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria
3318 Fillmore Street (near Lombard), 415-345-3995,
2200 Lombard (at Steiner), 415-885-4500,
Pizza is a comfort food these days, and I can’t think of a better menu choice to sustain you through your holiday shopping. Patxi’s has decadent, Chicago-style deep-dish pies – ooey-gooey-cheesy fillings in a flakey crust with options like whole-wheat crust, vegan cheese, and vegetarian/vegan pizzas. Amici’s features East-coast-style thin crust pizzas and I love that they offer gluten-free selections.
Fab Five: Laurel Heights
By Ed Attanasio
3220 California Street (at Presidio),
Fused Glass Menorah
Dayenu describes itself as “Judaica at the Jewish Community Center offering everything for the Jewish heart and soul.” This colorful glass menorah made by fusing glass, a technique dating to biblical times, is by the late Tamara Baskin, an artist well known for amazing art glass creations. This piece will stand out in any house. $200
Other Fab Finds: Hanukkah cookies and lollipops; yenta silly bands; dreidel roulette game for children 3 and older; San Francisco Giants hats emblazoned with the logo in Hebrew
3325 Sacramento Street (near Presidio), 415-440-8697, www.thearktoys.com
The Ark sells classic Waldorf-inspired, wooden, and just all-around fun toys. The store features a holiday area with arts and crafts tips so kids can make ornaments, beaded snowflakes, puzzle balls, and Shrinky Dinks to keep them busy during the season. This tea set made of recycled plastic by San Francisco-based Green Toys is perfect for children ages 2 and older. $25
Other Fab Finds: Owl bookends; unique California-made, nature-inspired fairy crowns; Moulin Roti nostalgic handcrafted wooden racecars, fire engines and more – good for grandson to grandpa
3440 Sacramento Street (between Laurel & Walnut), 415-474-9201
OndadeMar One-Piece Bathing Suit
This mega-trendy swimwear boutique sells stylish suits and other beach accessories by Karla Colletto, Mily, Jean Paul Gauthier, Eres, Jets, Eberjey, and more. OndadeMar was founded a decade ago in Colombia as a luxury swimwear line featuring a distinctive Latin flair, and when you wear one of these, you’re telling everyone at the entire resort in an emphatic way that you look wonderful. Every bathing suit designed by OndadeMar is carefully crafted to enhance a woman’s natural beauty. $179
Other Fab Finds: Parasols, beach jewelry and beach dresses to be seen on the beaches of Bora Bora, Hawaii, and the pools of Palm Springs and Vegas, baby!
Josephine Fisher Interior Design
3376 Sacramento Street (near Walnut), 415-447-8333, www.jfidesign.com
For people who take their towels very seriously, Josephine Fisher offers a wide range of high-end fingertip towels that will impress even the most jaded towel purist. Josephine is usually there to help you and offer suggestions for colors, threads and embroidery options. $30
Other Fab Finds: One-of-a-type bedroom linens and sheets; ultra-comfortable, custom-made boudoir pillows for about $100
3600 Sacramento Street
(at Locust), 415-567-2638, www.bath-sense.com
BedHead Pajamas and Robe
You don’t have to be Hugh Hefner to look marvelous in pajamas. BedHead sleepwear for the whole family is stylish enough to wear in public (although you may get stares), but inside or out you’ll enjoy the comfort and luxury of these designer jammies. (On Dec. 11, drop in for the store’s trunk sale, and say hello to owner Elizabeth Timbrell and the store’s mascot pooch, Bandit.) $135 & $125
Other Fab Finds: Shower mist; home fragrance diffusers; Kneipp German salts; soaps; a wide range of bathrobes; hyped-up bedroom slippers
Fab Five Places to Eat: LAUREL HEIGHTS
500 Presidio Avenue (at California), 415-441-5669,
They call it neo-classical American cooking, and it’s all made from scratch, but I just call it real good! Dig into their legendary, brandied orange French toast on honey oatmeal bread or renowned chicken hash. And if you’re in the mood for lunch, try their tuna melt with Swiss or their great open-flame burger served on a cornmeal molasses bun.
3277 Sacramento Street (at Presidio), 415-771-5030,
This intimate little 66-seater serves outstanding, unforgettable Italian cuisine served by warm and friendly staff. The menu combines Italian classics and innovative creations: scampi Mediterraneo, petto di pollo paillard, all griglia, great pastas, and salads.
Dolce & Salato
3613 Sacramento Street (near
Northern Italian cuisine coupled with a passion for the best coffee in the world, Dolce & Salato features a wide range of lunch items, like focaccia, low-carb wraps, and some of the freshest Italian salads (spinaci, caprese and Greca) this side of the Boot. If you have a sweet tooth, embrace it with some home-baked biscotti or baci di dama.
3640 Sacramento Street (near Spruce), 415-931-5100,
Spruce walks the walk when it comes to fresh, local, organic, and sustainable. For lunch, go for the chicken Waldorf salad or their signature burger with incredible French fries. For dinner, why not try a honey lacquered duck breast, or for the more adventurous diners, the sweetbreads Lyonnaise.
3226 Geary Street (near Parker), 415-668-7711
Sushi to dive for – so fresh that fish fear this place! You can always identify a good sushi place by the condition of their hamachi and maguro, and Sanmi’s is top grade all the way. Their Bento lunch specials, noodles and donburi also make the grade.
Fab Five: FILLMORE STREET
By Ed Attanasio
1455 Fillmore Street (at O’Farrell),
Special Northside Fitness Promotion
At $68 per month, a Club One membership is an outstanding value and by far one of the most thoughtful gifts you can give to help family and friends get healthy and fit in the new year. Club One has it all from a pool to every type of fitness equipment imaginable. Mention Northside San Francisco and you’ll pay no registration fee, and sign up for their special Get Started program for $150 (normally $210) until the end of 2010.
Other Fab Finds: Personal trainers, like Kara Kim in the photo, can motivate and guide you to get where you want to be in 2011; Pilates, yoga, power plate training, group fitness training
1928 Fillmore Street (near Pine), 415-625-2800, www.boconcept-ca.com
‘Xtra’ Single Bed Ottoman
BoConcept’s approach is smart, functional Danish design that represents durability and good value. Their friendly and helpful designers are available for in-home consultations for $100, which can be applied toward purchases, like this sleek ottoman. Remove the upholstered cover, and a single bed unfolds in seconds – an ideal solution for small apartment living. $499
Other Fab Finds: Unique accessories imported from all over the world and exclusive to BoConcept include retro Danish wooden puzzle sculptures; sari blanket throws; colored metal letters starting at $25 each
Mrs. Dewson’s Hats
2050 Fillmore Street (at California), 415-346-1600
Stingy Brim Hat
If your friend’s comb over isn’t fooling anyone, a classy hat is always a great gift for the hair-challenged. Mrs. Dewson’s Hats has been at this location for 35 years, and a parade of celebrities have bought her hats. This Stingy Brim, made by UBI in the USA says, “Hey, I’m not trying to be cool, but I sure am getting there!” $35
Other Fab Finds: An always-popular Inwood Stetson; feathered cloche for the ladies who don’t mind showing off that strut; the exclusive Willie Brown-designed Willie Brim
2434 California Street (near Fillmore), 415-346-9864, www.salonyuni.com
Keratin Smoothing Treatment
New hair in the new year? Why not? Salon Yuni is an eight-chair modern hair salon featuring creative, highly trained and experienced stylists who provide a service-focused warm, friendly atmosphere. Everyone is doing keratin smoothing, so why not give a gift certificate to a friend who covets the treatment, and help her look and feel beautiful in 2011? $50 off
Other Fab Finds: Men’s haircuts for $45; women’s haircuts $20 off the first visit; special prices on
DermOrganic hair products
2122 Fillmore Street (near Sacramento), 415-921-0292, www.solematessfshoes.com
La Canadienne ‘Mazy’ Boots
Crosswalk Shoes is a family-owned seven-year old business, so people who actually care and don’t mind smiling always serve you. These are the kind of boots Nancy Sinatra used to sing about. Black suede and waterproof, they are both elegant and functional, and will get you lots of attention. The rest is up to you. $355
Other Fab Finds: Everybody “Vinci” ankle booties; Sandro Moscoloni shoes for men; fabulous selection of colorful rain boots for women
Fab Five Places to Eat: FILLMORE STREET
The Elite Cafe
2049 Fillmore Street (near
It’s Fat Tuesday every day on Fillmore Street at The Elite Cafe. This sophisticated Cajun and Creole spot is well known for its shrimp and scallion Johnnycakes with pepper relish and lime cream. New Orleans meets the City by the Bay in a big way with their California seafood gumbo with shrimp, scallops, oysters, and crabmeat; and a red-wine-braised beef brisket with horseradish mashed potatoes are some of the more unforgettable bayou delights served nightly.
2020 Fillmore Street
(near California), 415-921-1010,
Rick Howard and George Karas have been running this fun, comfortable spot since they purchased it from Harry Denton in 2001. Their easy menu of finger bar food includes memorable items like grilled Kobe sliders with fresh horseradish aioli; California blackened-chicken sandwich; and mahi-mahi fish tacos served the healthful way – grilled instead of deep-fried. Two of Harry’s signature cocktails are the cucumber gin gimlet and the fresh fruit mojito. Lunch served Friday–Sunday.
2114 Fillmore Street (between California & Sacramento), 415-447-2668, www.frescasf.com
Julio and Jose Calvo-Perez own this upscale restaurant serving nouveau Peruvian cuisine that is fresh, simple and full of intriguing flavors. Enjoy one or more of their eight types of ceviche; bocadillas that are much more than just sandwiches; oysters on the half shell; fresh-made empanadas; and an extensive wine list with top-tier Peruvian and South American blancos, rosados and rojos.
Long Bar & Bistro
2298 Fillmore Street (at Clay), 415-440-1700, www.longbarsf.com
New owner Reza Esmaili has big plans for this great location. He describes his cuisine as sensible, practical American food, including notable items like an inventive ahi tuna tartare; a personal pot pie with organic chicken; and classic favorites like “freedom” fish and chips, mini fried chicken and braised short ribs. Its laid-back, relaxed atmosphere, with tall ceilings and a spacious bar is a perfect place for a weekend lunch or nightly dinner.
2301 Fillmore Street (at Clay), 415-614-1010, www.mehfilindian.com
The true test of a good Indian restaurant lies in the quality of their lamb curry, and Mehfil exceeds even the highest standards with their exemplary version. Ravi Singh, owner of this new location, has a lengthy menu featuring favorites from several Indian regions, like a flavorful chicken tikka masala; a tasty saag paneer (house-made curdled cheese cubes cooked with fresh spinach leaves); and a great selection of wines and creative cocktails prepared by top mixologist Shawn Shrout.
Fab Five: TENDERLOIN
By Iris Rowlee
Parfumerie In Fiore
868 Post Street (near Hyde), 415-928-5661, www.infiore.net
In Fiore Parfum Solide
Parfumerie In Fiore is the boutique headquarters for In Fiore, an all-natural beauty line that promotes the healing benefits of flowers. Proprietor Julie Elliot believes that caring for the body leads to the nourishment of the mind and spirit. As master scent blender, she keeps her scents simple and pure using raw, organic, biodynamic, or wild-crafted ingredients. These solid perfumes in a beautiful bronze compact make a beautiful gift and are made of the finest natural essences in golden jojoba oil and honey-scented beeswax base. $65
Other Fab Finds: Aromatic jewelry, balms, bath and body oils, and a highly specialized skincare line
941 Geary/Shooting Gallery & White Walls
941 Geary Street (between Larkin & Polk)/ 839 & 835 Larkin Street (near Myrtle), 415-931-1500, www.941geary.com ,
‘USAF’ by Jesse Hazelip
Justin Giarla is the king of the urban art movement in San Francisco, and has been a fundamental force in keeping the City on the forefront of the Pop Surrealism, Lowbrow and Urban Contemporary art scene over the last seven years of opening his galleries. Consider investing in some of Giarla’s up-and-coming art picks. One of my favorites is this 34”x 26” framed, ink on paper piece by Oakland artist Jesse Hazelip. $1,200
Other Fab Finds: Robert Minervini, A Means To an End; Casey Gray, Night Owl; Katy Horan, Laundress; Morgan Slate, Victory; Jon Todd, The Stones in the Garden
Love Project Curio Shop
509 Leavenworth Street (near O’Farrell)
Open Friday-Sunday, 12-6 pm
Vintage Ring with blue stone
The Love Project curio shop is just that – a project of love by owner Don. His adorably unique little shop is jammed with an amazing array of his handpicked treasures at ridiculously low prices. This little-known, magical shop is well disguised when closed, but when open (Friday–Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.), it transforms into a blooming flower, bursting out onto the block with beautiful twining leaves and flowers Don lovingly assembles. There are cool gifts of all kinds, including this vintage ring Don is offering for, no joke, $10.
Other Fab Finds: Vintage
clothing and ties, records, toys, turquoise pendants
601 Van Ness Avenue (at Turk in the Opera Plaza), 415-474-1114,
Spelletich Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay 2007
Jeff Runquist Amador County ‘R’ Barbera 2008
Diedre O’Merde opened this one-of-a-kind combination floral shop and wine bar back in 1980. Guests can opt for glasses, half glasses or tastes chosen from O’Merde’s discerning, small-production collection. In this incredibly unique forum, O’Merde will help you expand your palette as well as make a wine selection. These are two of my favorites. $20 & $30
Other Fab Finds: Custom floral arrangements, gift baskets, an array of plants, other cute gifts
Hooker’s Sweet Treats
442 Hyde Street (near Ellis),
Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels
Louisiana-bred owner David, or “Hooker” as friends call him, serves up sweet treats alongside strong Sightglass coffee at his aptly named establishment with an old-fashioned, cozy feel and a long, wooden table adorned with flower-filled antique mason jars. Hooker’s specialty is his immaculately balanced, lusciously smooth dark chocolate salted caramels, which come in handcrafted boxes and make the perfect little party gift for holiday guests. $7/box of three
Other Fab Finds: Praline cookies, bread pudding, caramel corn
Fab Five Places to Eat: TENDERLOIN
Little Bird Coffeehouse
835 Geary Street (near Hyde), 415-440-2165
Little Bird Coffee House, although still getting on its feet after a late summer opening, proudly serves Ritual and De La Paz coffee as well as Bob’s donuts. How’s that for some cult classics? They also have a modest assortment of sandwiches, bagels and cookies. This pet project of Dave and Chelsea of neighboring Whiskey Thieves has an artsy décor and an anomaly in the neighborhood – a kid’s play area. There are plans to eventually expand to be open nights and offer fare to the hungry bar set, but for now, stop in for some strong coffee and a quick bite.
743 Larkin Street (at O’Farrell), 415-776-9814, www.olive-sf.com
Pull open Olive’s big wooden door and suddenly find yourself in an absolute refuge from its bustling, grimy exterior. Sleek but very inviting, Olive has a respectable offering of well-executed small plates and exemplarily cocktails in this shot-and-a-beer part of town. Their pizza is of particular merit, and they have the classiest and best bang-for-your-buck happy hour around.
577 Geary Street (near Jones),
Stop in for a sandwich at this tiny cafe, and you’ll find it’s fresh and friendly with a lot more on the menu than you would expect. They use Boar’s Head meats and cheeses and have a have large and quality selection of sides as well as daily specials and soups. Also, the incredibly sweet owner is perpetually baking all sorts of delicious and tempting desserts. There’s a little plaque on the wall that says, “Enter as strangers, leave as friends,” and the way you’re treated, it really holds true.
572 O’Farrell Street (near
Golden Era is a vegan’s dream, clearly stating on their menu, “With respect for all life, we proudly serve all dishes free of meat, poultry, fish, egg, and MSG.” But all you meat eaters don’t get disappointed. The place isn’t popular simply for lacking meat, they have delicious food. The menu is pan-Asian with lots of fake meat, fresh veggies and noodles. Check out the curry vermicelli soup, rich with coconut milk, spicy and oh-so satisfying.
601 Larkin Street (at Eddy),
Just at the gates of Little Saigon sits this incredibly authentic and fabulous Vietnamese restaurant. Granted the whole block is full of fabulously authentic Vietnamese spots, but what sets Mangosteen apart is the freshness and consistency coupled with a healthful and more diverse menu. Their papaya salad is a must-try, as are the garlic noodles, and a bowl of the pho is a go-to cure for any cold-weather-related malaise.