Besties, Services and Shopping: Readers pick their favorites

  • by Cynthia Laird
  • Wednesday April 11, 2018
Share this Post:

Best Dog Park

Duboce Dog Park

Bay Area Reporter readers love their dogs, and they love to take them to Duboce Dog Park in the Duboce Triangle neighborhood for exercise and socializing. The dog park was tops - again - in the best dog park category, due to its grassy fields for doggies to run around.

Duboce Park, Duboce and Scott streets.


Bernal Heights Dog Park

Best Grocery Store (Chain)
Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market is a new winner this year. The store features a wide selection of groceries and pre-made meals; desserts; men's grooming supplies; and other items. Amazon purchased Whole Foods last year and CEO Jeff Bezos has been experimenting in the stores with lower prices and other features.
Whole Foods Market, 2001 Market Street, San Francisco. (415) 626-1430.

Trader Joe's

Best Grocery Store (Independent)
Rainbow Grocery

Rainbow Grocery remains the favorite independent grocery store of B.A.R. readers. Its claim to fame in the community is that it closes on Pride Sunday every year. Rainbow has an excellent selection of produce, spices, and other unique items.

The worker-owned cooperative has served San Francisco since 1975 and strives to offer the widest selection of organic and locally sourced products at the most affordable price. Along with being a grocery store, Rainbow is a resource for the community to exchange information about the health and sustainability of the foods people eat.
Rainbow Grocery, 1745 Folsom Street, San Francisco, (415) 863-0620.

Bi-Rite Market

Best Barbershop
Daddy's Barbershop

Readers like Daddy's Barbershop, which offers plenty of barbers to choose from and is open until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Located in the heart of the Castro, guys can always stop by for a quick trim or a new style.
Daddy's Barbershop, 4102 19th Street, San Francisco, (415) 552-5101.


Best Bicycle Shop
Valencia Cyclery

There's no stopping the popular Valencia Cyclery, which won this category again. Readers like the service and selection of this store in the Mission district that has been under the same ownership since 1985. The shop provides full maintenance services and can repair just about any model of bike, from kids' to carbon fiber models.

The showroom reopened April 7 after a seismic retrofit, meaning it has lots of bikes in stock and ready to ride.
Valencia Cyclery, 1065 and 1077 Valencia Street, San Francisco, (415) 550-6600 (sales) or (415) 550-6601 (repairs).

Mission Bicycle Company

Best Bookstore
City Lights Booksellers

This is a new winner this year. City Lights is a landmark independent bookstore and publisher that specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics. Founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who just turned 99, and Peter D. Martin, City Lights is one of the great independent bookstores in the United States, its website states, and a place where booklovers from across the country and around the world come to browse, read, and just soak in the ambiance of alternative culture's only "Literary Landmark."
City Lights Booksellers, 261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway (North Beach), San Francisco, (415) 362-8193.

Dog Eared Books

Best Recreational Marijuana Dispensary

SPARC offers recreational and medicinal cannabis; this category recognizes it on the recreational side. With locations in San Francisco, Santa Rosa, and Sebastopol, it offers a variety of products. Erich Pearson, a gay man who is CEO of the eight-year-old dispensary, was the first to introduce mandatory laboratory testing of all cannabis products in San Francisco. He has been cultivating marijuana in northern California since he moved here over 18 years ago.
SPARC, 1256 Mission Street, San Francisco, (415) 252-7727.


Best Medical Marijuana Dispensary
The Apothecarium

With cannabis use now legal in California for adults, we broke up this category this year, though most dispensaries sell both recreational and medicinal pot. Medical marijuana patients can often get their medicine at a lower price than recreational marijuana, and the Apothecarium in the Castro is a repeat winner.

Readers like its mellow vibe and wide selection of products, including flowers, edibles, and more. Other locations include the Marina and South of Market.
The Apothecarium, 2029 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 500-2620.

Green Cross

Best Gym
Fitness SF - Castro

Fitness SF - Castro is a repeat winner. The over 16,000 square foot facility offers two floors of tools and equipment to keep a person's workout fresh and challenging, according to its website. From free weights to cardio, the gym has it all.

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

Readers have once again voted for Kaiser as their top health care provider. With hospitals and medical offices throughout the Bay Area, Kaiser continues to be a leader in LGBT health care.

For the ninth consecutive year, all 21 of Kaiser's hospitals in northern California have been recognized as a "Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality" by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the national LGBT rights organization. The designation, reported in HRC's 11th Healthcare Equality Index, demonstrates Kaiser's commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBTQ patients, visitors, and employees, officials said in a news release.

"This honor reflects our ongoing, unwavering commitment to LGBTQ patient-centered care and continuous efforts toward equitable health outcomes for our LGBTQ members, patients, and families," stated Dr. Ronald L. Copeland, senior vice president and chief equity, inclusion, and diversity officer for Kaiser Permanente.

Kaiser has participated in the HEI since 2008 and has consistently moved up in its rankings, achieving a perfect score in 2010 and each year since.

Best Personal Trainer
Sessions Training Center

B.A.R. readers selected Sessions Training Center as their favorite. Clients can choose from several certified personal trainers and find a workout that meets their needs.
Sessions Training Center, 1874 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 834-5885.

Best Dentist
University of the Pacific

UOP's dental school is a repeat winner. UOP is a private school with its main campus in Stockton. Its Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco is much used by people living with HIV/AIDS through its CARE (HIV) Dental Services program, which is funded by the city of San Francisco through the 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 the program. Oral health care is provided by student dentists partnering with faculty members.

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.

Best Place to Pamper Your Pets
Doggie Day Spaw

We retired perennial winners Best in Show and Mudpuppy's Tub and Scrub so that another business could win, and Doggie Day Spaw was voted readers' favorite this year. The North Beach spa offers a full line of grooming services for your pet, including micro-bubble baths, teeth-brushing, and blueberry facials.
Doggie Day Spaw, 641 Green Street, San Francisco, (415) 872-9282.

Noe Valley Pet Company

Best Pet Hotel
Wag San Francisco

Wag Hotels is on a roll, winning this category for the third year in a row. Bay Area locations include San Francisco, Oakland, Redwood City, and Santa Clara. Wag offers boarding, all-day play, and training classes. Suite sizes and amenities vary. As always, Wag is strict about making sure all animals are current on their vaccinations.
Wag Hotels, 25 14th Street, San Francisco, (415) 876-0700.

Pet Camp

Best Veterinarian
Mission Pet Hospital

Once again, Mission Pet Hospital is the place B.A.R. readers go when their pet is having health issues. Its website says that its doctors pride themselves on their coordinated approach to caring for their clients' pets.

"In decades of serving the community, our top-tier group of veterinarians has saved countless lives through the integrative approach that we've pioneered," the website states.
Mission Pet Hospital, 720 Valencia Street, San Francisco, (415) 552-1969.

San Francisco Veterinary House Calls

Best Vintage Clothing Consignment Shop
Buffalo Exchange

Buffalo Exchange won this category by one vote and is a new winner this year. The store is located on Haight Street in the historical Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, which is known for its legendary hippie movement in the mid-1960s. Customers can sell clothing for cash, and of course, buy clothing. Other Bay Area locations include San Francisco's Mission district and Berkeley.
Buffalo Exchange, 1555 Haight Street, San Francisco, (415) 431-7733.

Crossroads Trading Co.

Best Thrift Shop
Out of the Closet

Out of the Closet is a repeat winner. The stores - there are several in the Bay Area - are operated by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Sales raise money for the nonprofit. Stores offer clothing, books, DVDs, and other items. According to AHF, 96 cents out of every dollar collected by the thrift stores directly fund the agency's HIV/AIDS services in the U.S. and abroad. The Oakland store offers free HIV testing.
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 Retirement Community
San Francisco Towers

San Francisco Towers is a repeat winner. The retirement community is very LGBT-friendly and provides world-class living where like-minded residents are part of your life. The facility is owned and managed by Covia, a nonprofit public benefit corporation serving older adults since 1965.

SF Towers offers residents scheduled outings, in-house programs, and special events. Amenities include a pool, rooftop lounge, and activity rooms. It also has assisted living, rehabilitation, and 24-hour nursing service on site.
San Francisco Towers, 1661 Pine Street, San Francisco, (415) 776-0500.

Best Bank/Credit Union
SF Federal Credit Union

San Francisco Federal Credit Union is once again the readers' choice. The credit union offers a full range of banking and lending services, along with online banking and account management.
San Francisco Federal Credit Union, 770 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, (415) 775-5377.

Bank of America

Contact the reporter at [email protected].