Best Burrito, Best Drag Queen, Best Dentist, Best Street Fair .... more than 300 winners show the diversity and awesomeness of the Bay Area in our annual celebration.



By Marke B.

Welcome to the Guardian's Best of the Bay 2012!

This is our 38th annual celebration of the people, places, and things that make living here such a great experience. Inside, you'll find a feast of winners in categories like Best Burrito, Best Band, Best Strip Club, Best Shoe Store, Best Place to Watch the Sunset, Best Drag Queen, and beyond.

More than 15,000 of our readers voted in our Best of the Bay Readers Poll for their local, independent favorites in more than 200 of these categories, including several new ones we added this year, like Best Yoga Teacher, Best Comedy Show, Best Food Festival, and Best Lunch.

You'll find the results inside — as well as 150 Best of the Bay Editors Picks that highlight some Guardian favorites, old and new, that we think deserve some special recognition for lighting up our lives this year.

We've also included many enthusiastic quotes from our readers who responded to the question, "Best of the Best: What's your favorite thing about living here?" We got tons of great answers! We wish we could run all of them. But rest assured, there's a whole lot to love in the Bay.

This year, there was no question that the state of the economy had a profound effect. The Occupy movement continues to resonate here, even while many of the world's biggest tech companies draw well-to-do people from all over the world. As the population of the Bay Area shifts and grows, debates about authenticity and integration have raged, and sometimes it seems like everyone's at sixes and sevens.

And yet. The sheer gorgeousness, thriving alternative culture, and promise of freedom and acceptance that are unique to our shores continue to attract amazing characters, visionary dreamers, and explorers of both inner-cosmic and rugged outdoor terrain. We at the Guardian like to think of the Best of the Bay issue as a special document — a map charted through our crazy little corner of the universe, drawn up by people coming together to talk about the things we love.

In 1974, Esquire magazine asked us for ideas for its Best of the USA issue, which led us to publish the original Best of the Bay. Made by the people of the Bay Area for the people of the Bay Area, it's our opportunity to celebrate the people and places that make this city great. We were the first weekly paper to publish a regular "best of" issue. Thirty-eight years later — and 45 years after we opened our doors — we're still going strong.

Editing this year's issue with Caitlin Donohue was a hoot. I shower grateful smooches on all our fabulous collaborators, especially creative aces Brooke Robertson and Mirissa Neff, diligent copy editor Emily Appelbaum, the Guardian staff, and the ever-supportive Hunky Beau, my own personal Best of the Bay.

But most of all we thank you, dear reader, for your generous participation, for making the Bay Area such an astounding place to live, and for turning us on to great new things this year. Peace.



Chloe Fleury is a French illustrator who fell in love with international travel on a trip to California when she was 10 years old. She now lives in the inspirational Mission District, where she likes to transform flat sheets of paper into three-dimensional objects, sometimes even bringing them to life through stop-motion animation. Unfortunately, we were unable to animate Best of the Bay this year, but if you like the illustrations in this issue you can check out work that Fleury has done for the likes of Cosmopolitan, Warner Bros Records, Condé Nast Traveler, Chronicle Books, Target, and Anthology Magazine at




Caitlin Donohue, Marke B.


Brooke Robertson, Mirissa Neff


Graham Misenheimer


Chloé Fleury


Emily Appelbaum, Robert Avila, Soojin Chang, Yael Chanoff, Kimberly Chun, Cheryl Eddy, Nicole Gluckstern, Emily Hunt, Sean Hurd, Steven T. Jones, Ali Lane, Kelly Lovemonster, Phil McGrew, Virginia Miller, Tim Redmond, Cat Renz, Emily Savage, April M. Short, Ariel Soto-Suver, Ruth Tam


Rafi Aji, Gabriel Hurley, Gene X. Hwang, Virginia Miller, Brittany M. Powell, Anastacia Powers, Amber Schadewald, Ariel Soto-Suver, Trevor Traynor, Godofredo Vasquez


Emily Appelbaum


The Readers Poll (The Ballot Box Stuffer Poll) has produced particularly bizarre results.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 11:50 am

we meticulously ensure that there's no cheating -- we go over every vote ourselves.

Posted by marke on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 2:27 pm


Yay - I'm very excited that I won a Reader's Poll award!!! Will I receive anything for this honor... like a sticker, award suitable for framing, etc?

Thanks, jaden*

Posted by JadenRoseHolisticBodywork on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

I don't know him and am not in District 5. But what is it all about? Sorry, I'm a fucking lawyer (retired). What's with his "conduct" and why is he being dumped by progressives and his campaign called a "debacle" by Redmond? If a woman was "groped" (how? by doing what?) 6 years ago by him, why didn't she report that to the authorities or promptly memorialize it in some way so that there's some kind of record or evidence established by which to evaluate the charge? Lacking that, it's she said-he said, and that goes nowhere and isn't a sound reason not to back him if he's the best candidate on the issues--right?

This is like the groundless demonization of Mirkarimi. Even the Guardian joins in: (Redmond editorial, Oct. 24) "What Mirkarimi did was inexcusable....") Well, he grabbed Eliana's arm during an argument to prevent her from exiting their car. That's an unwanted touching or simple battery, not by any stretch an intentional blow, far less domestic violence or spousal abuse (requiring a pattern of abuse), So, if inexcusable, why have we been fighting for him and his family all year? It's blatant demonization which never would have occurred had he been any official in the machine that's run our town seemingly forever.

Posted by ken scudder on Oct. 31, 2012 @ 10:27 am

Someone will be in contact with you shortly. feel free to use my email above if you have any questions -- and congrats!

Posted by marke on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

Hi! We would like to come to the dinner/party to celebrate the Best of the Bay. How do we RSVP?


Posted by Guest on Aug. 01, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

Winner will be notified soon about the celebration party. If you have any other questions, please feel free to email Marke. Thanks!

Posted by admin on Aug. 01, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

So what's wrong with this picture?
Hint: it has to do with color.

Posted by Joseph Thomas on Aug. 16, 2012 @ 6:22 am

increible!!! it's very popular. Congratulations.

Posted by Sexycalia on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 7:45 am

Could some kind soul let me know how one gets nominated or applies to become a nominee for Best of the Bay 2013? Any links or timeline info would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much~

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

Hi guest - voting for Best of the Bay in our readers poll usually begins in June, so stay tuned!

Posted by admin on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

I too would like to find out how a company gets on the nomination list. June is a long time to wait just to find out how. Help!

Posted by Guest Sharon on Sep. 25, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

our readers vote for whom they like in the categories provided ;) Rally your customers and fans!

Posted by admin on Sep. 25, 2012 @ 2:40 pm

Hi, I would like to know if I can still get my company nominated for Best of in 2012? If not, how do I go about getting nominated for 2013?

Posted by Kelly Scott on Dec. 04, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

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