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The Best Services in S.F. in 2018

Careful lashing for your body, custom permaculture for your home, new-school midwives for your offspring, and more.

SLIDESHOW

The Root Midwives with a few dozen of the 1,000 kids they've delivered.

Photo: Anastasiia Sapon

(1 of 8)

MM.LaFleur

(2 of 8)

MNTStudio

Photo: Ashley Batz/MNTStudio

(3 of 8)

Ampersand

(4 of 8)

Jasmine Rae Cakes

Photo: Haley Sheffield/Jasmine Rae Cakes

(5 of 8)

 

Sun Basket

(6 of 8)

Farmgirl Flowers

(7 of 8) 

Small Spot Gardens

(8 of 8)

Read more Best of San Francisco 2018 here.


CLOTHING

Tailor: Andreas Gorges Custom Tailoring
500 Sutter St., Ste. 426, 415-391-1119
Tucked inside a Union Square building of dentists, optometrists, and nail salons is the workshop of second-generation tailor Andreas Gorges, who learned the trade from his father and now runs the studio with his son. The duo provide hemming, alterations, and bespoke menswear—the suit jackets (starting at $700) are hand-stitched works of art. While the shop’s original creations are limited to menswear, the alterations are for men and women and priced accessibly: Taking a silk dress from tea length to just above the knee costs $35.
Runner-up: Wah’s Fashions

Dry Cleaner: Mulberrys Garment Care
101 California St., Lower Level, 415-835-9873, mulberryscleaners.com
About as tricked out as a wash and fold gets, Mulberrys has expansive offerings: dry cleaning; “wet cleaning”; specialty services for linens, leathers, and wedding dresses; and even shoe repair. And it does it all using toxin-free cleaning products and purified water. Drop off at one of five San Francisco locations or schedule a pickup via the app (yes, a dry cleaner with its own app).
Runner-up: Soap Box Cleaners

Jewelry Repair: Diju Jewelry
3247 24th St., 415-814-3644
This family-owned Mission jeweler is popular for its quick and affordable work. Diju will swap out your watch battery for $5, resize a ring for $35, and fix a chain for $20. A craftsman and a showman, co-owner Edwin Ayala is the type of guy who’ll drop what he’s doing and repair your antique watch, then open it up so you can admire the analog innards.
Runner-up: Derco Fine Jewelers

Cobbler: Shoe Repair
1339 Polk St., 415-349-3841
Shoe Repair hustles hard for your business. So hard, it’s possibly the city’s only cobbler shop with an “Early Bird Special”: 30 percent off any job brought in between 7 and 10 a.m. First-timers get half off, and repeat customers can utilize a frequent-flier program. Don’t let all these deals make you think that Shoe Repair is doing shoddy work: The shop guarantees all repairs.
Runner-up: Odsy Workshop

Wardrobe Kit: MM.LaFleur
23 Grant Ave., 5th Fl., mmlafleur.com
Not your typical clothing subscription box, this female-owned startup is made for professionals who are allergic to fast fashion and pantsuits. Consult with a stylist online or at MM.Lafleur’s flagship showroom on Grant Avenue, then look forward to a flow of curated ensembles landing on your doorstep that will make you look “invincible and polished and daaaamn good.” Keep what you love, send back what you don’t—either way, shipping is always free.
Runner-up: Le Tote

BEAUTY

Mani-Pedi: La Petite Nail Shop
601 Kansas St., 415-796-2863
The reasons to schlep out to this Potrero Hill salon are many: Its picture windows show off stunning views of downtown and the Bay Bridge; it smells delightfully like mint, rather than acetone; the friendly staff serve up tea and brownies (who needs free Korbel, anyway?). But the best reason to visit La Petite Nail Shop is the staff’s artistry. Whether you want a glitter ombré, perfect half-moons, or little flecks of gold foil in your shellac mani ($45), they will execute your vision flawlessly. And when you really need to treat yourself, try their “sit and lit” pedicure ($85), which uses CBD-laced soaks, scrubs, and lotions to relax your muscles and unwinds your mind with a CBD-rich edible.
Runner-up: LUXSF

BathHouse: Archimedes Banya
748 Innes Ave., 415-206-9000
This Hunters Point spa offers a dizzying array of ways to steam, soak, polish, and pummel your body into relaxation. Loaded with luxe touches like heated floors and benches, Archimedes draws on a number of traditions, with Turkish hammam-style steam rooms, Finnish dry saunas, and Russian saunas ($42 for three hours of access). It offers a range of massages, facials, and spa treatments including the Russian venik platza ($37): a massage given in a sauna heated to at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit that involves “careful lashing” with supple bunches of young oak leaves and branches. Afterward, cool down on a sun lounger on the roof deck and take in views of the San Francisco Bay.
Runner-up: Imperial Spa

Salon: Plum Organic Beauty
1921 Hayes St., 415-640-1214
Say goodbye to ammonia and hello to this “holistic living salon” run by Danica Winters, whose schooling at the Integrative Institute of Nutrition informs her eco-friendly practices, from the local and organic hair products all the way to the organic-cotton towels. Stylists serve up bold cuts (starting at $60) and colors (starting at $110) that emphasize customers’ natural beauty.
Runner-up: Veer & Wander

Waxer: Honeypot
210 Post St., Ste. 906, 415-296-1198
Honeypot’s one-woman show of sugaring and waxing comes courtesy of “punky proprietress” Anna Crowley. The shop’s name is a cheeky homage to its Brazilian and bikini services, which start at $35. Even sweeter, Crowley will mix you up a cocktail to take the edge off. Her current favorite: a vodka-jalapeño-limeade.
Runner-up: Sugar

Microblader: Lu Lu Beauty Bar
2356 Van Ness Ave., 415-346-1285
At a time when bold Brooke Shields brows are enjoying a comeback, what are the thin-browed to do? Put down the eyebrow pencil and hit up Lu Lu’s pigmentation perfectionists, who will tattoo tiny, hairlike strokes to fill in your brow line. Lu Lu’s expertise isn’t cheap (the full treatment runs to $775), but save the penny-pinching for a service that isn’t semipermanently tattooed on your face (treatments last for one to three years).
Runner-up: Brow Club

Permanent Hair Removal: Soft Touch Electrolysis
323 Geary St., Ste. 419, 415-391-8929
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more experienced electrologist than Elissa Schwartz. She’s spent more than 25 years zapping other people’s unwanted follicles and has a wall of certifications and credentials to show for it. Schwartz keeps detailed notes of each session and eases the painful process with topical analgesics and good conversation. Unlike other permanent hair removal methods, electrolysis works on all skin tones and hair colors.
Runner-up: LaserAway

HEALTH

Pilates: MNTStudio
766 Brannan St., 415-863-3935
MNT stands for Move Nourish Transform, but don’t let the delicate-sounding name or the studio’s Goop-y vibe fool you: Its Pilates will work you so hard you’ll hobble to your car after. The focused but fast-paced reformer classes ($38) are capped at eight students, so friendly instructors have the time to make individual modifications that will take a workout from tough to punishing. The studio, which rebranded and reopened last April, also offers mat Pilates, barre, and nutrition classes. Bonus: onsite childcare during select weekend classes.
Runner-up: Blue Sparrow Pilates

Dance-Based Workout: Rhythm & Motion
351 Shotwell St., 415-549-8519
The dance classes taught out of ODC’s Mission studio by Rhythm & Motion—especially the fast-paced Fusion ($15 drop-in)—offer all the booty-shaking physicality of a Beyoncé routine. Teachers are encouraging, and classes are heart-pumping but low-pressure: Rather than picking off students in twos and threes to perform choreography for the group, instructors lead the class in the routine on the fly.
Runner-up: Zumba in the Parks

Spin: Wheel House
1 Embarcadero Center, Lobby Level, 415-666-2288
Come for the discotheque lighting; stay for founder and instructor Carl’s wild (but fun) high kicks. Between Wheel House’s dynamic spin offerings (12 class styles) and its ever-changing artist-themed classes (Rihanna, Major Lazor), the spin studio’s “immersive experiences” will never make you feel like you’re just spinning your wheels.
Runner-up: Go! Indoor Cycling

Boot camp/cardio: Hit Fit SF
1150 Sutter St., 415-440-8269
As the trainers here like to say, they don’t use machines; they build them (the machine in this metaphor is you). Hit Fit’s infamous tough-love boot camps will have you sweating, but sweating in style. As you endure the punishing classes ($30 drop-in; first class is free) in the airy, naturally lit space, you can admire the gym’s exposed red brick—and your newly toned muscles.
Runner-up: Koi Fitness

Gym: Studiomix
1000 Van Ness Ave., 3rd Fl., 415-926-6790
After you finish a barre, Zumba, Pilates, personal training, boxing, martial arts, TRX, climbing, yoga, or conditioning class (just some of what’s offered here), you can unwind with a massage or acupuncture session or sweat it out in the sauna. Then head to onsite Vitalist Superfood for a tempeh Reuben ($16) or an appointment with one of the nutritionists to tweak your meal plan. Memberships start at $145 a month.
Runner-up: The Firm Fitness

Nutritionist: Happy Belly Health
happybellyhealth.com
When it comes to nutrition, “one person’s food is another person’s poison,” Happy Belly says. Coaches Shanti, Kasia, and Kristina use data to build programs, cleanses, and classes tailored to clients’ bio-individuality, with consultations starting at $295.
Runner-up: Food NE/RD

Meditation and Mindfulness: Mindfulness Care Center
2041 Larkin St., 415-786-5456
Everyone wants to “be more present,” right? But what does it actually mean to be  “mindful”? With a suite of courses geared toward stress reduction, reflection, and brain-body integrative wholeness, the Mindfulness Care Center will help you “slow down and look within.” Swing by its weekly Tuesday- evening meditation class (donations welcome) and get yourself on the path toward inner calm.
Runner-up: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Birthing Support: The Root Midwives
1300 Sanchez St., therootmidwives.com
This collective of home-birth midwives boasts five-plus decades of experience: Jamie Shapiro, Kara Engelbrecht, Kelly Murphy, and Nile Nash have delivered more than 1,000 babies. Together, they work out of a sunny Noe Valley office bedecked with gloriously graphic home-birth photos. The practitioners also perform everything from pap smears to fertility treatments to prenatal checkups at their headquarters, but when it’s go time, they come to you.
Runner-up: San Francisco Birth Center

WEDDINGS

Hair and Makeup: The Glamourist
2323 3rd St., Ste. 412, jane@theglamourist.com
Jane Kim, owner of the Glamourist, keeps her brides “effortless and current” by focusing on the basics: skin and lashes. She makes skin glow through the judicious application of liquid foundation, highlighters, and blush, and she adds full, fluttery lashes one by one to avoid overkill. Her services, delivered in her new Dogpatch studio, start at $650 for a weekday City Hall wedding and run up to $2,150 for her “Glamour Package,” complete with on-location hair and makeup changes and hours of touch-ups.
Runner-up: D+A Bridal

Baker: Jasmine Rae Cakes
1890 Bryant St., Ste. 415, inquiry@jasmineraecakes.com
Cakes from this appointment-only Potrero Hill bakery are true works of art—no surprise given that owner Jasmine de Lung studied fine art and used to run a mural business. Her portfolio includes masterworks of verisimilitude—cakes that look like stacks of wood or cracked geodes—as well as abstractions in watercolor and gravity-defying layers of sugar. Better still, inside her works of art are surprising flavor combinations—coconut cake with coconut buttercream and a pop of passionfruit—that are never cloying. Slices start at $15 for simple buttercream and $20 for more artful works.
Runner-up: A Spoonful of Sugar

Photographer: Helena + Laurent
helenaandlaurent.com
This husband-and-wife duo understands that when you look at your wedding photos, you want to see a story, not a bunch of campy pictures of your wedding party. So they focus on capturing moments of connection—fingers intertwining, people smiling, a shared joke—and use those to build a narrative that reflects how your big day moved and felt, “not just a portrait of some isolated couple on a cliff somewhere,” Laurent Martin says. Packages start at $2,200 for elopements and shorter ceremonies and run up to $7,000 for all-day services.
Runner-up: Kara Brodgesell

Bridal Salon: LOHO Bride
1120 Pacific Ave., lohobride.com
Forget stiff taffeta wedding dresses: LOHO—which stands for League of Her Own—sells beautiful, fun, unusual, high-fashion gowns…that just happen to be white. The studio’s collection of made-to-order dresses skews toward boho styles but has something for every bride, including elegant white rompers and pantsuits. Owner Christy Baird sources from labels such as New Zealand’s Dan Jones and local favorite Kamperett, and LOHO was the first bridal salon in the city to carry the buzzy designer Rime Arodaky. Gowns average $3,500, but assistants know how to finesse brides on a budget toward lower-priced dresses and the 20-to-75-percent-off sample rack.
Runner-up: Alt Brides

Caterer: Fogcutter
1080 Howard St., info@fogcutter-sf.com
If you envision your wedding first and foremost as a wonderful dinner party, Fogcutter can help. The SoMa-based caterer will leave your guests talking for months—in a good way. Fogcutter works closely with couples to design a menu that is equal parts delicious and meaningful; it will do a spin on the first dish you cooked together or turn your favorite snack into “late-night” bites to be passed around on the dance floor. Best of all, at $80 to $140 per plate, it will leave your guests full without draining your wallet.
Runner-up: Paula LeDuc

Florist: Ampersand
80 Albion St., 415-654-0776
For this Mission district flower shop, wedding florals capture the “ephemeral essence of what the day is,” says co-owner Emerson Boyle. And Ampersand believes that everyone who wants wedding florals should have them, so, unlike many other florists, it doesn’t set minimums. If all you want is a bouquet ($150) and a boutonniere ($30) for City Hall nuptials, this shop has you covered. If you want full florals (starting around $3,000), it’ll transform your venue into Monet’s garden. The team at Ampersand is known for its creative assemblages, rich in color and texture, that bloom from a couple’s inspiration and are “a unique representation of them specifically,” Boyle says.
Runner-up: Natalie Bowen Designs

Photo Booth: Night Owl Photo Booth
nightowlphotobooth.com
Husband and wife Oran Cohen and Adi Nevo started this business nearly a decade ago after they hacked together a photo booth for a party at their house. Cohen’s tinkering plus Nevo’s photography equipment—she was a wedding photographer—made the booth a smash hit. Night Owl uses DSLR cameras and studio lighting, ensuring that photos don’t come out over- or underexposed, and techs know how to adjust the cameras in case bad weather forces a last-minute venue change. But techs are also supervised: They send a test shot to Cohen and Nevo, who adjust or approve the exposure. Packages range from $799 for three hours to $1,599 for five hours and fun extras, like animated GIFs in digital versions.
Runner-up: Chroma Photobooth

HOME

Plumber: Gateway Rooter & Plumbing
3119 24th St., 415-336-9155
When sewage is rising into your bathtub faster than a king tide on San Francisco Bay, you want a plumber who answers your cry for help ASAP. By all accounts, that plumber is Daniel Guerrero and his team at Gateway Rooter & Plumbing. Call or message the business through Yelp and expect a response in a flash, and a plumber on the job often the same day. They price out parts and labor ahead of time to help you avoid sticker shock—$160 to fix a blocked shower drain—and cover their work with a 30-day warranty.
Runner-up: Heise’s Plumbing

Produce Subscription: Imperfect Produce
imperfectproduce.com
This produce-delivery service knows that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Where one might see a lumpy orange or a freakish two-pronged carrot, Imperfect Produce sees healthy, delicious, perfectly edible fruits and vegetables at risk of going to waste. Instead of chucking them in the compost, the company delivers them to your doorstep at a steep discount: A small box of organic fruits and veggies from Imperfect will set you back about $15, compared with $26 at other produce-delivery services. Best of all, boxes are fully customizable, meaning you won’t end up with a crisper full of leeks three weeks in a row.
Runner-up: Farm Fresh to You

Housekeeper: Sparkling Clean Agency
178 Commonwealth Ave., 415-742-4869
Sparkling Clean Agency is a rarity: a housekeeping company that’s as eco-friendly as it is tech-friendly. It uses all green products and deploys a color-coding system to ensure that the rag that gets used to clean your toilet doesn’t go on to polish countertops. No need to trade emails with a sales rep just to get a quote: All it takes is the click of a few buttons—number of bedrooms and bathrooms; any add-on items, like an oven scour—on the company’s website to quote and book the job. A two-bedroom, one-bathroom clean clocks in at $147, with discounts ranging from 10 to 20 percent if you make it a regular thing.
Runner-up: Natural Maidens

Organizer: Liberated Spaces
liberatedspaces.com, 415-902-6327
Maybe it’s a recent move, a divorce, or just life in a small apartment. Whatever has caused the paperwork to pile up and the closets to overflow can be put in check by Debra Baida, owner of Liberated Spaces. The photo editor turned organizer works alongside her clients, who she says are often “feeling stuck” mentally or physically, to order the chaos. She brings judgment-free coaching to “situational disorganization”—where a one-time consultation can establish systems of organization—and to those who desire more ongoing support ($100 per hour, with sessions typically lasting three hours). And for those worried about sending their old belongings to the landfill, rest easy: Liberated Spaces is a city-certified green biz, and Baida donates everything that’s usable to local nonprofits.
Runner-up: Pick It Up

Meal Kit: Sun Basket
sunbasket.com
At $11.99 per serving, Sun Basket is one of the pricier meal kits. But it’s proof that sometimes more is better. Not only does Sun Basket offer more meal choices (18 each week), but it also offers more ways to accommodate dietary needs. It has gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan plans, as well as broader categories like Mediterranean, “lean and clean,” and “diabetes friendly.” Meal ingredients arrive bundled together, so when it’s time to cook there’s no hunting in the fridge for a stray bunch of radishes. Recipes are quick and easy to follow, and they come with pointers on how to involve kids in the cooking process or how to make a dish slightly healthier. Best of all, the meals are damn delicious.
Runner-up: Blue Apron

Mover: Rainbow Movers & Storage
2275 Market St., 628-222-5008
Not only will you get a quote from Rainbow within 10 minutes, but once you hire them (and you should), their deft movers will deliver your stuff as far as Nevada and store what you’re not taking. They’ll do housecleaning when the packing is finished and probably take before-and-after selfies with you, too. Check the company’s blog for moving checklists and advice on if and how much to tip—at least $20 per mover and more if there are stairs—and once the madness is over, try out one of their cocktail recipes (also on the blog).
Runner-up: Golden Bay Relocation

Flower Delivery: Farmgirl Flowers
farmgirlflowers.com, 855-202-3817
If you’re shopping for—yawn—a dozen red roses, you’ll have zero luck at Farmgirl Flowers. They’re not here for the it’s-the-thought-that-counts arrangements nested near grocery store exits. What are they here for? Seasonal, local bouquets, arranged not in cellophane but in biodegradable burlap sacks, donated by local coffee roasters. And if you thought it couldn’t get any greener, you were wrong—bouquets (starting at $48) are delivered by bicycle.
Runner-up: Church Street Flowers

Cannabis Delivery: Kind Courier
kindcourier.com, 844-473-5463
We live in a time and place in which ordering recreational marijuana is as easy as ordering a deep-dish pizza. And thanks to Kind Courier’s vast online menu, we can now do so with the help of adorable cartoon canines illustrating the effects of various strains. Bathrobed dog with cucumber-covered eyes? A relaxing Banana OG (an eighth for $58). Paint-palette-wielding pup in a beret? A creativity-sparking 10-pack of quinoa-granola cookies (100 milligrams for $29). Newbies get 10 percent off their first order.
Runner-up: Barbary Coast

Gardener: Small Spot Gardens
smallspotgardens.com, 415-298-9229
Small Spot’s team of botanists, farmers, and licensed landscape contractors works collaboratively with you to curate a permacultural “plant palette” that meets your garden goals, sustainably. And, as the name suggests, it specializes in tailoring its gardenscapes to meet the needs of compact spaces.
Runner-up: Dirty Boots Gardens

FAMILY

Driving School: Rivadavia Driving School
2988 Mission St., Ste. 102, 415-647-2605
With more than 25 years in the business, Rivadavia Driving School knows its favorite type of student: nervous drivers. Whether those are teens studying for their license ($540 for six hours) or adults in need of a refresher ($180 for two hours), patient, encouraging instructors take learners throughout the 47 hills, from residential streets to areas of heavy traffic. Lessons are private—no performance anxiety in front of strangers—and full of clear instruction to help build confidence.
Runner-up: Fearless Driver

Family Photographer: Samantha Brancato Photography
samanthabrancato.com, 631-880-8210
The words “family photography” call to mind cringe-worthy mall studio portraits. With Samantha Brancato, you’ll get the opposite. She aims to capture a day in the life of her clients, all the natural, carefree, and intimate moments: a mother breastfeeding, a family beach day, snuggles on the couch. Two-hour sessions ($600) usually start at home and then strike out for a beautiful outdoor location. She also offers an “Expecting Mama” package ($900), which includes a two-hour maternity session and a two-hour newborn session. And with all her packages, she doesn’t limit the number of images she delivers.
Runner-up: Nicole Paulson Photography

Uber for Kids: Kango
kangoapp.co
When home is in Noe Valley, school is in the Marina, and work is in the Haight, getting kids home can be a certifiable nightmare. But with Kango, the app-powered babysitter-plus-driver service, it’s a dream. Kango’s vetted drivers (DMV check, vehicle inspection, background check, in-person interview) can haul kiddos anywhere in the city ($9 monthly subscription plus $16 ride minimum), provide babysitting before or after the ride ($15 to $20 per hour), and stay in touch with anxious parents through the app. And unlike with similar services, there’s no minimum age requirement for riders.
Runner-up: HopSkipDrive

Babysitting Service: Trusted
usetrusted.com
Whether you need last-minute coverage for a sick kid, a regular date-night sitter, or an overnight nanny, Trusted’s sitters can bail you out. Plus, sitters can’t simply join the platform—to be hired, they must pass rigorous background checks and be current on their CPR certification and vaccines; once hired, they undertake ongoing scenario-based coaching. As if that’s not enough to offer peace of mind, nervous parents can monitor the home front remotely through Trusted’s app. Rates run from $15 to $25 per hour, and all payment is handled through the app.
Runner-up: UrbanSitter

PETS

Dog Walker: Top Dog SF
topdogsf.com, 628-207-7555
Whether you place your pup at Top Dog’s private and securely fenced 4.5-acre off-leash enclosure in Pacifica or in the hands of one of the service’s “professional pack leaders” for a 75-to-90- minute beach or park hike (starting at $34.50), your fur baby is in good hands. To ensure pack compatibility, walking groups are selected based on your dog’s energy level, temperament, and size. And of course, all Top Dog walkers are insured, certified as dog trainers, and schooled in canine first aid.
Runner-up: The Urban Paw

Pet Hotel: Pet Camp
Multiple locations, 415-282-0700
Drop your four-legged camper off at one of Pet Camp’s two outposts—Cat Safari in Pac Heights (cat boarding starting at $35 a night) or the Main Campground in the Bayview (dog boarding and day care starting at $38 and $40)—and keep tabs on them with daily “camper cameo” photos. Buy them VIP (Very Individualized Playtime) sessions, starting at $26, and maybe they’ll forgive you for leaving them behind.
Runner-up: Embarkadero Social Club

Dog Behaviorist: Better Nature Dog Training
betternaturedogtraining.com
When you’ve had enough of your leash-pulling, pants-tearing, shoe-chewing, garden-digging bundle of barking joy, bring him over to Better Nature. Work with certified trainer and behavior consultant Jeff Stallings to reveal your best friend’s inner good boy with a specific training plan (starting at $150) that emphasizes positive reinforcement—no “bad dogs” here—and owner education.
Runner-up: Sit Stay SF

Cat behaviorist: Go, Cat, Go
gocatgosf.com, 415-806-1351
After spending over a decade working with the most difficult kitty cases as a behavior specialist at the SFSPCA, Daniel Quagliozzi is well equipped to school you on feline behavior and body-language basics. That said, it’s often the humans who need the attitude adjustment, Quagliozzi says: “They’re not dogs. Some want to go outside, some want to walk on leashes…most of them just want you to leave them the fuck alone.” Either way, he’ll help develop a customized action plan for you and your problem child.
Runner-up: Feline Minds

 

Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco

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