1. The Mission / 24th Street: This is the part of the Mission that has always been my favorite. 24th Street was one of the most authentic streets in this neighborhood. Over the past few years many of the storefronts that were once family-owned are now being bought out and turned into hip coffee shops. There was once a panaderia where the sweetest little abuelita would twice a week make a very small batch of hand-made flour tortillas. If you got there too late they were gone. And, as she sat in her chair behind the counter you knew better than to ask her to make you another batch. Now I consider La Palma Mexicatessen a shopping staple on 24th Street; it's the go-to spot for masa para tortillas or tamales.
2. Polk Gulch / Rosalie's New Look: I stop into Rosalie's every single day just to say hello. Since her move to the Polk Gulch from North Beach -- where she was doing hair for close to 50 years -- Rosalie, her staff and family are a big part of my life. Most of what Rosalie, and her stylist Manuel are known for, are the big bouffant and beehive wig styles from the 60s. The candy-colored ones they display in the window just pop! In reality, they carry a wide selection of real and synthetic hair for your every need -- and they have the knowledge and know-how to help you choose what is just right for you. There is something to be said about the lost of art of knowing how to build a foundation in a wig.
3.The Marina / Chrissy Field: I love bringing my puppy Jackson here on a sunny day. The beach here allows you to let your dogs off leash. I was a bit worried about that since my boy has selective hearing, but it was just too gorgeous of a Saturday not to. Being in the Marina, this beach also attracts a lot of families with children. Jackson sure loves kids. I let him off leash and he went went running like a bat out of hell straight for an adorable six-year-old girl in a pink bikini. She screamed as she saw what looked like a 15 pound bowling ball coming straight at her. Jackson stopped dead in front of her and sat like an angel -- just begging to be petted. It was too late. She was traumatized and our day at Chrissy Field was over. I like it better there on a Monday.
4. The Castro / Cliff's Variety Store: For the past four years, Joshua J and I have been producing Booty Call Wednesdays at QBar every Wednesday night. Each week an elaborate photo booth backdrop is set up -- a Christmas tree lot theme with 40 eight-foot tall trees, a mock ER with faux surgeons, a larger-than-life giant robot made out of boxes and junk from SCRAP -- giving our guests the opportunity to model and update their Facebook profile photos and it has been so exciting to showcase the work and concepts of many local artists in that back room. If it wasn't for Cliff's Variety store that supplies all the tape, staples and glue to make it happen -- we would never have such stunning photographs.
5. Hayes Valley / Gimme Shoes: This awesome local shoe store started off in a shoebox sized shop on Post Street in the mid 80s and has now grown into three thriving shops in San-Francisco, with their flagship store located in Hayes Valley. I'm a bit biased about this place -- because I did work for them at one point. I had the opportunity to go on buying trips in Paris with the owners and they have always had a great eye for new trends in shoe design. Whether that be cool and classic, funky or chic, many of the designs that Gimme Shoes carries cannot be found anywhere else in the country.
6. Western Addition / Cookin': I've always loved vintage kitchen gadgets. I have scoured thrift stores and flea markets for that really cool rare find since my youth. Nowadays, there just isn't as much great stuff out there. As a matter of fact, it seems that the only way to find something special is to go online and search the internet; thank God for Cookin'. When you walk through the doors you feel like you've jumped back in time and landed in someone's spectacularly cluttered home kitchen. You might feel like you're somewhere in Europe and definitely not just off Divisadero in the up and coming NOPA district. Cookin' has been around for decades and the eclectic ladies who own it obviously search high and low for kitchen standards and oddities. Whether you're looking for an original Moet & Chandon ice bucket from France, a selection of coffee grinders or an antique copper pot, Cookin' has a gem for every kitchenware fanatic.
7. The Richmond / Satin Moon Fabrics & Fabrix: These two fabric stores located on Clement Street in the Richmond District could not be more different. At Fabrix you can find a table of fabrics for $1 a yard. Though they also have a small collection of silks and woolens, this place is most popular for having that rare piece of $3.98-a-yard microfiber fabric you just have to have, but didn't know you wanted or needed. Across the street is Satin Moon, which carries a very selective and gorgeous collection of silks and other specialty fabrics. Last year Mr. David, who exclusively designs my dresses, found a bolt of floral print silk-chiffon-lame. This rare find ended up becoming a spectacular kaftan for my annual Pride fête. And, you can grab a great lunch at Burma Star after you're done shopping.
8. Embarcadero / The Ferry Building: This indoor marketplace has become such a gem in our city. It has been praised and written about over and over again and is a must-stop for anyone visiting our lovely city. I never look at this building as a tourist stop, but I utilize as it was intended to be -- a great local market. I do truly love the service-ware I've gotten at Heath Ceramics, the fresh ricotta at Cowgirl Creamery's Artisan Cheese Shop, the Pan d'Epi at Acme Bread Bakery, lunch at Boulette's Larder -- where the food continues to inspire me, or the lard from Boccalone Salumeria. Or, try the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning where I enjoy the always perfect chilaquiles at Primavera's outdoor food stand with a lovely view of the Bay Bridge.
9. Bay View / SCRAP (Scroungers' Center for Reusable Art Parts): You never know what you'll find here to inspire your next art project or finish off your current one. Scrap is a junkyard of rare finds in a warehouse full of recycled art supplies. The materials here change every day and range from discarded toys, antique frames and forgotten photographs, to rolls of unused photography paper or the remains of a store's window display. I've created some very inspiring things from this virtual dump of misfit artist discards and also appreciate that its warehouse space provides services to teachers and students, encouraging them to create art out of discarded gems.
10. SOMA / The NEW After-Hour parties: Over the past year there has been a big resurgence in late night parties. I consider myself a well-seasoned veteran of the club scene and these new spots are offering a lot of options for the party-hardy crowd. I usually fight going, especially since I've probably already worked most of the night and have drunk my fare share of alcohol, but I digress. I'm easily persuaded and always find myself greeted by the most patient door staff. I don't know how they deal with the long line of late-night messes! These people always seem to remember my name, which is always surprising to me. Once inside you can continue drinking and what not, dance or listen to live jazz music. I tend to find a dark corner with a seat for two. If I'm out this late I have probably hopelessly fallen in love with someone who thinks my eyelashes are pretty, and let's just say I never end up going home alone.
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