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Besties 2017 results are in

by compiled by Cynthia Laird

Daddy's Barbershop in the Castro is a reader favorite.
Daddy's Barbershop in the Castro is a reader favorite.  

The results of the 2017 Bay Area Reporter's readers' poll are in.

For this seventh annual LGBTQ Best of the Bay, also known as the Besties, readers voted for their favorites in several categories. Throughout this issue, you'll find results in Community, Services and Shopping, Weddings and Destinations, Arts and Culture, Spaces, People, Food, and, of course, Sex.

We'd like to thank all the winners, who inspire, contribute to, and support the Bay Area's LGBTQ community.

Readers, winners, and everyone else are invited to a free Besties celebration party Thursday (April 6) from 6 to 9 p.m. at Oasis, 298 11th Street. There will be hosted cocktails and light refreshments. Emceed by veteran Bestie winner Marga Gomez, entertainment will include Jason Brock, Alex U. Inn and Kingdom, and DJ MC2. Veronica Klaus, with accompanist Tammy L. Hall, will be performing for the last time before she moves to New York.

With that, on to the winners.


Best Barbershop

Daddy's Barbershop

Located in the heart of the Castro, Daddy's is proud to be part of the community, said co-owner Jessie Vanciel.

"A lot of us do outside volunteer work for nonprofits," Vanciel said, adding that many of the shop's 11 barbers also have a presence in the leather community.

In fact, this year's Daddy's Barbershop Leather 2017 candidate, Geoff Millard, was recently named Mr. San Francisco Leather. Vanciel himself was Mr. San Francisco Leather 2012.

Vanciel also said the shop welcomes everyone.

"We're open and welcome to any customer," he said, adding that the shop is a drama-free zone.

Daddy's Barbershop, 4102 19th Street, San Francisco, (415) 552-5101.


Joe's Barbershop

Best Bicycle Shop

Valencia Cyclery

Valencia Cyclery has been a favorite of B.A.R. readers for years. The store has been doing business at its Mission district location under the same ownership since 1985. With the popularity of biking to work, the store also provides full maintenance services. According to its website, the store can repair just about any make or model of bicycle, from kids' bikes to carbon fiber models. New this year is the arrival of electric bikes, the store's site noted.

Valencia Cyclery, 1065 and 1077 Valencia Street, San Francisco, (415) 550-6600 (sales) or (415) 550-6601 (repairs).


Mission Bicycle Company

Drag king Alex U. Inn holds a copy of his favorite book at Dog Eared Books. Photo: Gooch

Best Bookstore

Dog Eared Books

Dog Eared Books is a new winner in this category, just as the store gets ready to celebrate its first anniversary in its Castro location. Longtime lesbian bookseller Kate Rosenberger opened the shop in the former A Different Light Bookstore space and said she has been pleased with the community's support.

"People are grateful we're there, that a bookstore is back, so to speak," she told the B.A.R. in a phone interview. "I'm really trying to keep us there."

Rosenberger said the store has seen a lot of activity since the presidential election, with people wanting to buy books about social justice issues, and to "read their history," she said.

It also has a table for people to send postcards to their elected officials.

Store manager Alvin Orloff said that often people will meet their neighbors while writing postcards and start talking about current events.

Orloff, who has been manager since the store opened last year, said he was thrilled with the readers' poll honor and credited the neighborhood for enthusiastically welcoming the shop.

"Every neighborhood deserves a bookstore," he said, "but maybe the Castro more so because of its history. Bookstores are the soul of a neighborhood and we're thrilled to provide that."

Dog Eared Books regularly holds book readings, book club meetings, and other events.

"It's become a gathering place for ideas, where people can take comfort in each other," Rosenberger said.

There's also a Dog Eared Books at 900 Valencia Street.

Dog Eared Books, 489 Castro Street, San Francisco, (415) 658-7920. www.


Green Apple Books

UOP School of Dentistry

Best Dentist

University of the Pacific

This is a new winner this year. The University of the Pacific is a private school with its main campus in Stockton. But for many people living with HIV, UOP's Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, located in San Francisco, is a lifeline to maintaining good oral health. Its CARE (HIV) Dental Services is funded by the city of San Francisco through the federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act. According to its website, dental services include preventive treatment, same-day emergency dental care, fillings, root canals, dentures, and oral surgery for people with HIV who qualify for this special program. Oral health care is provided by student dentists partnering with dental school faculty members. There is no cost for qualified patients.

UOP also offers other dental services at about 30 to 40 percent less than a typical Bay Area private dentist. For information, visit

UOP Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, 155 Fifth Street, San Francisco, Second Floor Specialty Clinic, (415) 929-6448.


Michael Perona, DDS

Whaler plays with his ball at Duboce Park. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

Best Dog Park

Duboce Park

Duboce Park in the city's Duboce Triangle neighborhood remains a favorite of B.A.R. readers, and presumably their canine buddies. The dog play area has grassy fields that are perfect for Fido to get his exercise and check out other pooches.

Duboce Park, Duboce and Scott streets.


Bernal Heights Dog Park

Readers love Trader Joe's.

Best Grocery Store (Chain)

Trader Joe's

Readers overwhelmingly picked Trader Joe's for the second year in a row. The store has great prices and a wide variety of food, pre-made items for lunch or dinner, snack items, wine, and more. With CVS Pharmacy set to depart the Market-Noe Center, city planning officials should allow Trader Joe's to move into the space as it continues to get rave reviews from the LGBTQ community. If Trader Joe's can open a store at Market and Fourth streets in the heart of downtown, surely planners can find a way to make it happen in the Castro.

Best Grocery Store (Independent)

Rainbow Grocery

Once again, readers voted for this worker-owned co-op that is so supportive of the LGBTQ community that it closes on Pride Sunday every year. Rainbow has an excellent selection of dried spices and other goods that you can't find anywhere else. The store has served San Francisco and the Bay Area since 1975 and last year won an AdPop award from the National Gay Media Association â€" of which the B.A.R. is a member â€" for its advertising campaign (design by Goodman Marketing Partners).

The store strives to offer the widest selection of organic and locally sourced products at the most affordable price and also works to be a community resource for exchanging information about the health and sustainability of food.

Rainbow Grocery, 1745 Folsom Street, San Francisco, (415) 863-0620.

Fitness SF-Castro. Photo: Courtesy Fitness SF-Castro

Best Gym

Fitness SF-Castro

This is a new category and Fitness SF in the Castro was the winner. Its website notes that for 16 years, the gym "has been and still is the epicenter of the vibrant, dynamic community called the Castro."

Over 16,000 square feet offers two floors of tools and equipment, ensuring that patrons' workouts stay fresh and challenging. The gym also offers nationally certified personal trainers.

Fitness SF-Castro, 2301 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 348-6377.


24-Hour Fitness

Best Health Care Provider

Kaiser Permanente

For health care, readers have once again selected Kaiser Permanente, which has hospitals and medical offices throughout the Bay Area.

Kaiser continues to be a leader in LGBT health care, and has been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign.

The Apothecarium offers many types of medical cannabis products. Photo: Courtesy Apothecarium

Best Medical Marijuana Dispensary

The Apothecarium

Even though state voters approved the adult use of recreational marijuana, regulations for its sale have not yet been implemented. Many patients continue to rely on medical cannabis and, once again, readers have voted the Apothecarium as their top choice.

According to its website, the Apothecarium provides its members access to a wide variety of appropriately priced medication in a safe, well appointed setting. It offers a broad spectrum of medicinal options for members, including flowers, edibles, topicals, and concentrates.

The Apothecarium gives back to the community through its philanthropic efforts and has a dedicated advisory board to help direct funds back into the community.

The Apothecarium, 2029 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 500-2620.


Green Door

Best in Show has toys for your cat or dog. Photo: Courtesy Facebook

Best Place to Pamper Your Pets

Best in Show

Since the Besties readers' poll started, two companies have taken turns winning this category. This year, it's Best in Show's return to the top spot. This Castro pet store opened in 2002 and pioneered the pet boutique concept that has become so popular. Best in Show carries many products for dogs and cats, and also manufactures its own house brands, including dog toys, and ball caps and T-shirts for humans. Through its sister company, Barkly and Kitty, it provides cat sitting and dog walking services.

Best in Show, 545 Castro Street, San Francisco, (415-864-7387.


Mudpuppy's Tub and Scrub

Best Pet Hotel

Wag (San Francisco)

Wag Hotels is a repeat winner in this category. It has locations in San Francisco, Oakland, and Redwood City, and recently opened its Santa Clara facility. Wag offers pet boarding that's like a hotel stay for your dog (or cat). Suite sizes and amenities vary. Wag also offers doggie daycare, grooming, and various special events. Wag is strict about making sure all animals are current on their vaccinations.

Wag Hotels, 25 14th Street, San Francisco, (415) 876-0700.

Realtor Michael Ackerman

Best Realtor

Michael Ackerman

Real estate agent Michael Ackerman with Zephyr Real Estate is the choice of readers this year. Working out of the firm's Noe Valley office, Ackerman has built his business on referrals from past clients and friends.

Ackerman grew up in the Bay Area and started his career in downtown San Francisco in the late 1970s, creating a niche for himself through his passion of managing projects, business systems, and events at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. After 15 years, Ackerman retreated to his ranch in Sonoma County to care for his terminally ill life partner. He later moved back to San Francisco.

He took his lifelong passion for real estate and turned it into a career. His familiarity with the city and the Bay Area, his own investments and personal contacts, coupled with his organizational and caregiving skills, melded together to provide exceptionally diligent service for his clients.

Ackerman and his business partner, Oliver Burgelman, provide full service for buyers and sellers, under the tagline "Building Trust for Life."

Michael Ackerman, (415) 307-5850.


George Langford (Zephyr Real Estate)

Best Retirement Community

San Francisco Towers

San Francisco Towers is again the favorite of B.A.R. readers. The retirement community is very LGBT-friendly. According to its website, SF Towers provides world-class living where like-minded residents are part of your life and your lifestyle.

Operated by Episcopal Senior Communities, SF Towers offers residents scheduled outings and in-house programs such as lectures and special interest groups. Amenities include a pool, rooftop lounge, and activity rooms. It also has assisted living, rehabilitation, and 24-hour nursing service on site.

Interested people can call to schedule a tour.

San Francisco Towers, 1661 Pine Street, San Francisco, (415) 776-0500.

Best Thrift Store

Out of the Closet

Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation operates Out of the Closet, a chain of thrift stores that raises money for the organization. There are several Bay Area locations that offer clothing, books, DVDs, and other items. At the Oakland location, people can get a free HIV test from a certified counselor. The stores accept donations of clothing, household items, and more.

Out of the Closet, 1295 Folsom Street and 1498 Polk Street in San Francisco, (415) 558-7176 or (415) 771-1503. In Oakland, 238 E. 18th Street, (510) 251-8671.


Community Thrift

Best Veterinarian

Mission Pet Hospital

Mission Pet Hospital continues to be a favorite with readers, who trust the hospital when their pet is having health issues. It has been in business for over 30 years and is able to coordinate specialists for pet care. Its website includes information to help pet guardians get information on common medical issues and provides tips for home health care.

Mission Pet Hospital, 720 Valencia Street, San Francisco, (415) 552-1969.


San Francisco Veterinary House Calls

Best Vintage Clothing/Consignment

Crossroads Trading Company

A new winner this year, at Crossroads, customers sell their in-style, on-trend clothing and accessories for cash or trade credit on the spot. Its stores are located in vibrant neighborhoods, each filled with the clothes you want at prices you can't resist.

Right now, shop for spring at one of several Bay Area locations. Its website features tutorials on how to best market merchandise you're trying to sell.

Crossroads Trading Company, 2123 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 552-8740.


Buffalo Exchange

Best Automaker


Toyota is a new winner in this category. The company is known for dependable vehicles and has taken a lead in lower-emission cars with its popular Prius hybrid models. .

Best Bank

San Francisco Federal Credit Union

Readers are apparently not inclined to support traditional banks and this year selected San Francisco Federal Credit Union as their favorite. The credit union offers a full range of banking and lending services, as well as online banking and account management.

San Francisco Federal Credit Union, 770 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, (415) 775-5377.


Bank of America


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