S.F. Magazine's favorite Bay Area products

About the 2008 Best of the Bay Area issue:
(Information courtesy of San Francisco Magazine)
We don't do anything halfway in the Bay Area. If we find the perfect egg, we stand in line in the Ferry Building to order a dozen. If we find the perfect clutch, we get one in every color. When we start a business, we make it 100 percent green. When we upgrade our sound system, we pick the one that handles room lighting and home security, too. When we hear about someone changing the world, we evangelize like there's no tomorrow. That's what having too many graduate degrees and being twice as productive as the national average has done to us: It's made us obsessive (in a good way, we swear). This July, San Francisco magazine presents the Best of the Bay Area 2008: the 217 people, places, and ideas that are striking our collective nerve the hardest and making us clamor to keep up with the flock. Here is a sneak peak at our editors and readers picks for our best obsessions.

1. Getting your Life Delivered
San Franciscans love to load up our schedules with hiking trips, nights at the symphony, doggie play groups-you name it. All the more reason for staying home during our rare downtime and letting the best newfangled delivery services take care of the tedious stuff.

Cake Gallery
With one quick call to the Cake Gallery, you can satisfy your sweet tooth or surprise the birthday girl. Though more elaborate cakes require 24-hour notice, simple ones can be ordered and delivered the same day.

Planet Organics
Many chains will deliver your groceries, and any number of services will bring organic produce straight from the farm to your home. But Planet Organics does both. Planet organics is a local family-run business in the business of supporting and promoting other local and family-run food businesses-everything from local family farms, to bread bakers (Full Circle in Cotati), coffee roasters (Jeremiahs in San Francisco and Wolf in Santa Rosa), dairy farmers (Straus in Pt Reyes, clover in Sonoma), cheeses (Springhill in Sonoma & Cowgirl in Pt Reyes), Beef, chicken and lamb (Marin Sun Farms in Marin). Another reason we love Planet Organics--they recently launched full-service office deliveries in San Francisco that include everything from Artisan Bakers pastries to the girl & the fig sandwiches to The Real Good Project.

Funk 'N Chunk
Entertaining has never been so easy, thanks to Funk N Chunk, a brand, new mobile barbecue unit that brings the grill, the food, the outdoor sound system, and all the tunes you need to throw a killer bash-and handles setup, cooking, and cleaning. Upon request, the food can be entirely organic, with vegetarian options like marinated portobellos, so guests of all tastes can partake.

2. Warm and Fuzzy Design
Whenever you buy one of Hiroko Kurihara's stylish, one-of-a-kind, hand-cut, and hand-crafted wool blankets or scarves, a similar product made of recycled polar fleece is donated to someone who is homeless. In 1989 Kurihara disappointed her mother when she graduated from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design and decided not to take a job managing a textile mill in China. Instead, she headed to Berkeley and spent 14 years working in what she describes as "the urban fabric," including stints with Habitat for Humanity and an affordable housing developer in Oakland. Four years ago, she wove her interests into a business that makes the stylish smile. One more reason to be obsessed about Hiroko-she has created the Unity Council's Sewing Manufacturing Initiative, MIO (Made in Oakland), which is working to establish Oakland as a hub for sustainable and socially responsible manufacturing that will deliver new sources of work and wealth to people with low income and develop a supportive fashion industry network.

Available at local boutiques and museum stores like the de Young.

3. Curing our Common Wardrobes In a city saturated with Marc Jacobs handbags, Tory Burch flats, and Juicy Couture charms, tru originals are easy to spot but hard to mimic-unless you know the best new boutiques that'll save you from assembly-line assimilation.

Carrots Boutique
Even before twentysomething sisters Melissa and Catie Grimm were ready to opoen their Jackson Square boutique, Carots, fashion fans were already clamoring to get inside. Granted, the space has a pedigree: It's the former home of Ernies. The sisters pride themselves on harvesting collections from Bay Area native son Peter Som and Narciso Rodriguez, as well as lesser-known designers Richard Chai, Yigal Azrouel, and Sari Gueron. To keep you fueled while you browse, the Grimms offer carrot cupcakes and an espresso bar.

Sobella's Bravo clutch
Fendi's ubiquitous baguette bag has been making the rounds for more than 10 years, but now there's a low-pro alternative in town: Sobella's Bravo clutch, a hardware- and logo-free patent leather rectangle that sips shut. Designed by SF-based Brooke Sobel, who started making jewelry nine years ago and launched her bag line in 2004, the clutch is so classic that it almost looks vintage.It comes in jewel tones, as well as black, brown, and python prints. Her entire collection is super chic. Available at Heidi Says.

Rings Eclectic
For women who gesticulate wildly (a species often spotted at wine bars like Varnish and Nectar), no outfit is complete without a statement ring. Hand-assembled from acrylic that's neither too heave nor too precious, Melanie Lynn Macy's Rings Eclectic work overtime as conversation pieces, thanks to her use of materials like Lucite, moonstone, and antique Italian buttons. Forgoing sketches, she puts a ring together like a puzzle, choosing from hundres of rare items. The San Leandro-based asrtist also makes one-of-a-kind necklaces with antique chains, jet glass beads, and clusters of pearls.

  • 510.632.6028
  • Ringseclectic.com Visual: a collection of rings (7) for Natasha and Janelle to wear

4. Graphic Tees
Forget about Facebook-graphic tees are the next major social-networking tool. The following artists are the reason why all self-respecting style setters have as many tees as they do jeans

Loyal Army
Already gracing the likes of movie actresses, reality TV queens, and Paris Hilton herself, local T-shirt company Loay Army is currently conquering the teen market. The uber-soft graphic tees, along with hoodies and a slew of accessories, depict sugar-addled, cartoonish versions of everyday images.

Bunny & Bee (for little girls) and Little Thieves (for boys) Since Gen-X fanboy Faez Fathi entered fatherhood, children's wear has never looked the same. The two lines he launched with his wife, Jen Bright-Fathi-Bunny & Bee for girls and Little Thieves for boys-are the toast of the playground for their anime-inflected robots, trains, and teddy bears, an aesthetic Faez honed working for Japanese streetwear companies and at the Academy of Art University as a design instructor.

Lemon Twist
Inspiration can come from anywhere-even the gutter, for husband-and-wife duo Eric and Danette Scheib. Eric once found a discarded embosser with the words "New Testament Church of God," did a pencil rubbing of it, and developed his version of the Holy Trinity that consists of psychedelic rockers. According to Eric, Lemon Twist is a modern, "funky-fresh, and high as hell" take on the Bay Area's counterculture ethos.

5. Reader's Pick: Best Wine Bar

Bin 38
Bin 38 offers 51 premium wines by the glass, as well as 23 exotic beers-what's not to love? A creative and wine-friendly shared plates menu, crafted by head chef Glenn Christiansen (formerly of NOPA and Delfina), provides the perfect complement to the wines-choose from light bar bites to heartier fare. If you aren't hanging inside in one of the private alcoves or with a crowd at the communal table, you'll want to find yourself outside on the patio, next to the fire-pit, on a San Francisco night. Bin 38 likes to find, and highlight, wine from relatively small producers that represent quality and value-especially in burgeoning wine communities like South Africa and Argentina. What's best is the knowledgeable staff loves to educate guests; but, they don't take the wine selection-or themselves-too seriously.

6. Readers Pick: Best Guilty Pleasure

Bi-Rite Creamery
Ice cream is indeed a quilty pleasure: it's creamy, sugary, and irresistible. But Bi-Rite Creamery is a cut above the rest-San Francisco magazine's readers recognize the difference passion and attention to ingredients can make. Bi-Rite Creamery is committed to creating ice cream in a responsible and sustainable manner. They are the first ice cream shop in San Francisco to use Straus Family Farms organic dairy to create their ice cream and they strive to create unique and exciting flavors that are made with local, organic, or sustainable ingredients. Their flavors (like balsamic strawberry, orange cardamom, salted caramel, and standards like mint chip or chocolate) rarely have more than 5 ingredients, nothing artificial, and the mix-ins are homemade. They also care about their impact on the environment and use biodegradable cups and spoons. Plus, their tastes are served on metal spoons to reduce waste.

About the "Best of the Bay Area" party
Every July San Francisco magazine celebrates the Best of the Bay Area issue with the Best Party of the year. You'll enjoy endless entertainment for every obsession: eats, treats, drinks, and beats. You'll celebrate the best of the best with more than 55 restaurants, free flowing bars, the Sonoma Valley wine lounge; and dancing to the hottest sounds in the city, featuring Kid Beyond and Scissors for Lefty. Best of all, the party, benefits Family House.

The Best of the Bay Area Party is:
Thursday, June 26
VIP 6-11 p.m., Main Event 7-11 p.m.
Concourse Exhibition Center
Get information and buy tickets at sanfranmag.com
(Tickets at the door as available -- the 2007 event sold out!)

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