Best of the Bay
BEST RESTAURANT TO SPARK ROMANCE
Small, chic, and oh so French, this North Beach gem is an ideal spot to sip wine with your candlelit date while waiting for your made-to-order soufflé.
1454 Grant, SF. (415) 981-5565
BEST ONLINE PERSONALS
Like Craigslist but without all those pesky non-sex-related categories, Eros is the definitive guide to escorts, strippers, BDSM partners, and "adult" dating.
BEST PLACE FOR SINGLES TO MEET SOMEONE
This small subterranean dance club features reasonably priced drinks, theme parties, and singles nights.
685 Sutter, SF. (415) 441-5678, www.cellarsf.com
BEST FIRST DATE SPOT
Upscale cuisine, excellent cocktails, an adjacent art gallery, and a backdrop of films projected onto the wall in the outdoor patio make this a classy choice for a first night out.
2534 Mission, SF. (415) 648-7600, www.foreigncinema.com
BEST PLACE FOR AN ILLICIT TRYST
Bathrooms at the Lexington Club
Girls like going to the loo together — especially at the Lexington, SF's favorite lesbian bar.
3464 19th St., SF. (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com
BEST BREAKUP SPOT; BEST CRUISING SPOT
On a sunny day, this sprawling, multifaceted public park is jam-packed with people. Once you finish the breakup talk, just hop to the next blanket over to find your rebound.
Dolores, between 18th and 20th Sts., SF
BEST PLACE TO BUY WEDDING WEAR
This versatile shop offers quality custom corsets for all your costume, special occasion, and seduction needs.
321 Linden, SF. (415) 431-7684, www.darkgarden.net
BEST PLACE TO HAVE YOUR WEDDING CEREMONY
San Francisco City Hall
Say your vows with simple sophistication in the rotunda of this gorgeous historic building.
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, SF. (415) 554-4933, www.sfgov.org/cityhall
BEST HOT TUB RENTAL
The Hot Tubs on Van Ness
Clean, comfortable, and calming, each room at the Hot Tubs offers a redwood sauna, a hot tub, a seating area, and controlled lighting and music.
2200 Van Ness, SF. (415) 441-8827, www.thehottubs.com
BEST FLOWER SHOP
Church Street Flowers
Friendly petal peddlers offer a selection of quality blooms in traditional and creative arrangements.
212 Church, SF. (415) 553-7762, www.churchstreetflowers.com
BEST COUPLES COUNSELOR
Marriage Prep 101
This husband-and-wife team hosts informative, proactive, practical sessions to help your relationship succeed.
417 Spruce, SF. (415) 905-8830, www.marriageprep101.com
BEST PLACE TO BUY LINGERIE
My Boudoir: Best Place to Buy Lingerie
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY BRANDON JOSEPH BAKER
My Boudoir Lingerie
The exquisite yet low-key purveyor of intimate finery delights shoppers with a diverse selection of reasonably priced, well-crafted bras, panties, teddies, and more.
2029 Fillmore, SF. (415) 346-1502, www.myboudoir.net
BEST PLACE TO BUY SEX TOYS; BEST CONDOM SELECTION
It's famous for a reason: a great selection of toys, books, and accessories; helpful staff; and a comfortable atmosphere.
603 Valencia, SF. (415) 552-5460; 1620 Polk, SF. (415) 345-0400; 2504 San Pablo, Berk. (510) 841-
BEST PLACE TO BUY FETISH GEAR
Mr. S Leather/Madame S Boutique
Between the two of them, Mr. and Madame S can satisfy any of your leather or latex needs, be it for bondage clothing, kinky sex toys, or sexy bedroom hardware.
BEST ADULT VIDEO STORE
Home of independent, gay-themed, and top Hollywood movie releases, Superstar is also beloved for its collection of gay adult films.
474 Castro, SF. (415) 863-3333, www.castromoviestore.com
BEST STRIP CLUB
The world's only unionized, worker-owned peep show, the Lusty is a perennial award winner.
1033 Kearny, SF. (415) 391-3991, www.lustyladysf.com
BEST SEX CLUB
Spa by day and sex club by night, this clean Castro locale provides steam, saunas, showers, lube and condoms, and a diverse selection of music and porn for its male clientele.
2051 Market, SF. (415) 255-4921, www.erossf.com
BEST SEX EDUCATION RESOURCE
Center for Sex and Culture
Is there anything the center doesn't do? Workshops, classes, social gatherings, a library, archives, and special events are all part of its mission of providing the public with nonjudgmental, sex-positive education and support.
(415) 255-1155, www.sexandculture.org
BEST SEX WRITER
This sex educator, sexual enhancement coach, phone sex operator, and former radio host titillates readers with Destination DD: Adventures of a Breast Fetishist.
BEST SWEET PIECE OF ASS
Cake Gallery: Best Sweet Piece of Ass
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY BRANDON JOSEPH BAKER
Scoring a sweet piece of ass in SoMa has never been difficult, but finding it gushing with chocolate or vanilla? And in a box? For that you'll have to head to the Cake Gallery, where a three dimensional ass-cake is actually one of the tamer selections on the menu. The policy here is to quickly whip up "anything your demented mind can imagine." A giant penis spurting Bavarian jizz? Pssh. If you can't conjure anything crazier than that for your sister's Quinceañera, you can peruse an album of past creations for ideas: trannies swimming in rivers of piss, clam bumpin' lesbians, and iconic cartoon characters engaged in bizarre sex acts are just the tip of the iceberg here. Think big! The only order that might get you a sidewise glance is a "normal" one.
290 Ninth St., SF. (415) 861-2253, www.thecakegallerysf.com
BEST APHRODISIAC WITH ADMISSION
Most San Francisco foodies worth their salt wouldn't consider dating someone who didn't like oysters. Obvious body-part references aside, oysters are supposedly one of the saltiest, slipperiest, juiciest aphrodisiacs on the planet (due to high levels of libido-increasing zinc) — plus there's something both sexy and classy about the whole process of eating them. The largest oyster festival on the West Coast, O'Reilly's Oyster Festival, then, seems like a good place to take someone if you've got ulterior motives. With attractions like the "Shuck and Suck Competition" (winner gets innuendo-filled bragging rights for a whole year), cooking demonstrations, an oyster history exhibition, and live music, North Beach's oystery weekend pretty much completely rocks. Add that other great aphrodisiac — beer — to the equation, and you'd better have some smooth moves planned for when the sun goes down.
Second weekend in May, Fort Mason's Great Meadow, SF. www.oreillysoysterfestival.com
BEST DAREDEVIL FIRST DATE
Let's face it: San Francisco's dating scene is exhausting. The excess of attractive, successful single people who live and date within the city limits practically guarantees that whoever you're dating is probably dating someone else; and if someone wants to settle down with you, you're not quite ready because your three other options are just too good to discard. That means there are a lot of first dates happening all over the city. And how many times can you go for a cup of coffee at an anarchist café, or dinner at a new trendy restaurant, or an indie show at a tiny dive? For an out-of-the-ordinary meet-and-greet, trek your asses up Diamond Heights (specifically, to Douglass Street between 19th and 20th) to the Seward Slides, sit on the empty pizza box you brought with you, and get ready to shoot headfirst down the awesomest hidden hillside slides in San Francisco. Plus, you're less likely to run into your date's other poly partners.
Seward and Douglass Sts., SF.
BEST ROMANTIC ACTIVISM
What's more romantic than equality? A place to celebrate it right in the center of one of our favorite neighborhoods. That's what we've got with Heart of the Castro Wedding Chapel, a charming locale for commitment ceremonies that opened on the heels of the California Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex marriage. The chapel is run by a collective of friends and activists striving to keep the institution legal while also providing dream weddings for couples who never thought they'd have one. Want something simple and elegant? Something crazy and kooky? The folks at Heart will help you plan it, and then they'll host it in their lovely Victorian suite. Want a big party in December? Or quickie nuptials tomorrow afternoon? Either way, they'll try to accommodate you. Indeed, they're so dedicated to your happiness, they'll even help you find a different venue if theirs doesn't work for you. With reasonable prices and a great mission, we love Heart of the Castro so much it makes us want to marry them.
4052 18th St., SF. (415) 626-7743, www.heartofthecastro.com
BEST DOGGIE STYLE
Forget the Hallmark cards and expensive rings. Valentine's Day was made for one thing only: boning. You know it, we know it, and all the animals on God's green earth know it. If you need proof, book a spot at the SF Zoo's annual Woo at the Zoo for a multimedia, champagne-soaked rundown of the myriad fornication styles the Coital Creator has bestowed upon Her beastly children. Gasp at the site of a horse's schlong as it enters an unsuspecting mare. Wince at the violent lovemaking rituals of sharks. Imagine penguin orgies and simian BDSM parties. By the time the show's over, your animal-loving date will be hornier than a bonobo and ready to get down, monkey-style, in the backseat of your Jaguar (or VW Rabbit, if that's how you roll). If you hear screams of ecstasy in the parking lot after the show, listen closely — we bet some of 'em are human.
1 Zoo, SF. (415) 753-7080, www.sfzoo.org
BEST FLOATING LAP DANCE
OK, so the dancers on the Mermaids Cruise don't actually dress like Disney's Ariel, but they still do a pretty good job of satisfying whatever deep and dirty fetish you have for that under-the-sea siren. Book a spot for you and your friends any Friday or Saturday — or charter a private ride on another night of the week — and you'll find yourself trapped on a boat for a two hours with an open bar and randy strippers like goth girl Candy, Brazilian kitten Cheetah, Southern belle Trillian, or hip-hop hottie Vanity. They may not have fish scales, but we bet men and women alike won't be able to keep their eyes off the mermaids' tails. Heteros, homos, singles, and couples are all welcome on the restored classic motor vessel. And if women aren't your thing, the company has a Merman Cruise too.
(415) 859-7052, www.mermaidscruise.com
BEST HIPSTER HOOKUP HANGOUT
Want to pick up a hipster punk but can't handle another night in the Mission. Your best bet is Hemlock Tavern, run by the same folks responsible for Valencia Street favorite Casanova. Located in Polk Gulch (otherwise known as the Tenderloin with higher rent), the Hemlock has a 360-degree bar, plenty of PBR, a pool table, an enclosed and heated smoking room, and bags of peanuts for a dollar — all well worth riding a fixed gear across town for. Plus, there's often live music in a side room. When the giant red arrow on the wall lights up, you can pay a small cover to see the music or simply stay in the larger bar area and watch music-lovers in tight jeans and studded belts parade past you. Another bonus: this might be the only non-gay bar in San Francisco where the line for the men's room is longer than the one for the ladies', which means plenty of opportunity for hitting on cute hipster boys.
1131 Polk, SF. (415) 596-7777, www.hemlocktavern.com
BEST NEXT STEP IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Filbert Street Steps: Best Next Step in Your Relationship
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY BRANDON JOSEPH BAKER
It's quite possible that the only thing cuter than twosomes of cooing birds are the cooing couples who watch them. For your own chance to go "awwww" with your amore, head over to the Filbert Steps. Yes, this is the locale for feel-good-movie-of-all-time The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, featuring the tiny cherry-headed conures that make their homes in the trees lining the steps for most of the year. To get there, take your sweetie and your fixie through the Broadway Tunnel to Washington Square Park, and head up Telegraph Hill to the base of Coit Tower. Check out the WPA murals on the way, then descend 28 stories down the wooden stairs until you hear distinctive squawks from the flock. Next? Look. Listen. Lock lips. What you do after that is between you, the birds, and the bees.
Filbert and Telegraph Hill Blvd., SF. www.coittower.org
BEST BEER GOGGLES DOWN BELOW
The thing about shelling out for drinks when you aim to impress a hottie is that they go away so quickly (the drinks, definitely; the hottie, possibly). By the time your crush is rattling ice in the base of their empty vodka-cran-lime glass, the object of your financed affections may have moved on to the other end of the bar. But strike up a good rapport with someone at the Lucky 13, Zeitgeist, the R Bar, or Ace's, and you can spend your hard-earned bucks on a longer-lasting investment with clearer purpose — and a better chance of big returns. The answer? Underwear bearing the bar's logo. If your paramour accepts the gift, you know you're on the same page — and possibly on your way to a private, postbar fashion show. Just make sure you get ones you like. After all, both rejection and romance can end with you having to wear them.
BEST BAR FOR A BOOTY CALL
Smooth-talking, heavy-handed bartenders and a packed house of good-looking, hormonal twenty- and thirtysomethings boozing it up in muted, raucous style are part of what make Solstice a classic among booty-call bars. If you've already got a FWB, this place will get you in the mood — and do it in style. And if you're simply looking for a bed buddy, you'll have your pick of young execs with flushed cheeks, loosened ties, and skirts deliberately pushed up high-thigh. The menu's got classy down-home bar food like Kobe beef sliders with sweet potato fries or gorgonzola mac 'n' cheese, so you can satisfy any "not before you buy me dinner" roadblocks. Add in that happy hour that starts at 5 p.m. and food is available until midnight (that's seven hours to score), and you're looking at pretty good odds. Speaking of looking good, everyone does after a bottle of wine, so take advantage of Monday's half-off special.
2801 California, SF. (415) 359-1222, www.solsticelounge.com
BEST VIOLET BLUE
Violet Blue: Best Violet Blue
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY BRANDON JOSEPH BAKER
Beloved San Francisco sex writer Violet Blue recently started seeing red when she realized porn actress Ada Mae Johnson had adopted her moniker in 2001 — using it to make 300 films, which earned her the coveted "Best New Starlet" award from Adult Video News in 2002. The conflict came to a head at the 2006 Exotic Erotic Ball, where confusion ensued when SF Violet Blue (her given name) and porn star Violet Blue both attended. Last year the writer of sex books and columnist for SFGate.com sued her doppelgänger to get Johnson to change her stage name. After the writer won an initial victory in the courts earlier this year, the porn star finally changed her name — first to Violetta Blue, then to Noname Jane. We're happy for Blue, though we assume Noname doesn't feel the same. She's probably green with envy.
BEST DISNEY WITH LUBE
Whoever thinks a DVD is the best way to see gay porn never watched it on 8mm. The undoctored color, the absence of grunting, the lurid, jumpy detail ... how could you not prefer that to the glossy, homogenous automatons in contemporary adult films? Of course, finding gay porn by way of the DVD's lasered predecessor isn't easy — which is where Super8Man comes in. This 8mm-afficionado has collected an impressive number of such films, exhibiting the grainy fantasies at various clubs and venues — like Artists' Television Access — throughout the city. So keep an eyeball out for this showman and his varied and nuanced delights. Perhaps you'll even get to see his personal favorite: a madcap vignette of two guys fucking in a van while a wheel man zips them through town with the back doors swinging open. It's like Disney's North Avenue Irregulars with lube!
BEST MÉNAGE À MEATLESS
It's said that vegetarians have the freshest smelling genitals around. But the folks at Millennium seem to know something about the way a flesh deficit affects a vegetarian's sex life in other ways. Apparently, noncarnivores feel an intense yearning for a four-course meal and an all-night session of cruelty-free lovemaking every month. That's why they host an Aphrodisiac Dinner and optional accompanying overnight package in a Love Suite at The Hotel California every Sunday closest to the full moon. Gone are the days of curry-scented, low-budget establishments and a grabass session in the VW bus — high-rolling horny vegans can now feast and fornicate in upscale style. You can opt only for the meal ($45), but we suggest the full package ($192) for a more satisfying dessert.
580 Geary, SF. (415) 345-3900, www.millenniumrestaurant.com
BEST SWINGIN' SEX CLUB
It isn't just the jazz bands that are swingin' in North Beach. Private club Twist offers couples the opportunity to engage in that other kind of swinging, away from home. Located in a two-story commercial space, Twist provides a club atmosphere for adults who want to play you-show-me-yours-I'll-show-you-mine with style, sophistication, and secrecy — the club is invitation-only (apply online), very big on etiquette, and very specific about not giving away details about its patrons. No drugs are allowed, but unlike many sex clubs, there is a bar, though it's BYO wine and beer (no hard alcohol). Visitors like the art on the walls; the washable black covers on couches and beds; and the supply of fluffy towels, condoms, and lube in every room. Voyeurs and exhibitionists love transparent room dividers, while shyer types like the downstairs dance floor and DJ. No single men are allowed, and couples are asked to arrive, participate, and leave together, so this is an especially appealing and safe place for single ladies. Plus, they get in free!
(415) 812-7221, www.twist-sf.com
BEST GALLERY-WORTHY GLAMOUR SHOTS
Looking for a sexy gift? Or maybe a titillating mantelpiece? We suggest photos of you naked, in your favorite corset, or wrapped around your lover, taken at Erosfoto, the boudoir photography studio run by gallery-exhibited artist Suzanne Jameson. A far cry from mall-quality glamour photos, Jameson's prints fuse fine art principles with her subjects' ideas, making the result of each private session tasteful and uniquely sexy. Even better, Jameson's an expert in helping the women and couples she works with feel comfortable. She encourages models to bring their own music, clothing, lingerie, jewelry, and props — or to borrow some from her extensive collection. She also can provide makeup and hair artists upon request — indeed, many brides-to-be kill two birds with one erotic stone by using portraits as nuptial gifts for their spouses and a chance to test out wedding day hair and makeup. The pictures aren't cheap — it costs $600 for a two-hour session — but you're welcome to split the cost with a friend who wants to pose too. You get a DVD with digital negatives, and you keep all rights to the photos.
1483 Guerrero, SF. (415) 706-5237, www.erosfoto.net
BEST DARING DRESS-UP CLOTHES
Stormy Leather: Best Daring Dress-Up Clothes
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY BRANDON JOSEPH BAKER
While roses and rosé may do it for some, others need latex and leather to get them in the mood. The latter lotharios need look no further than Stormy Leather. This SoMa warehouse is a dream for playing daring dress-up, carrying everything from sweet silk corsets to sadistic leather whips — and everything in between. We especially like its line of latex clothing, with styles ranging from Cat Woman to Marilyn Monroe–esque, and the selection of corsets, including the ruffled Colette and military-themed Sergeant. Since Stormy's a manufacturer as well as a retailer, you can have items custom made to fit your size and preferences (yellow extra small? red silk 5X?) — and the knowledgeable staff to help you figure out what, exactly, those preferences are. What's even sexier is how involved Stormy is in the community, providing classes in fetish play, hosting art shows, and sponsoring burlesque troupe Twilight Vixen Revue.
1158 Howard, SF. (415) 626-1672, www.stormyleather.com