LOCATIONS>
ADVERTISE>
CONTACT US>
SUBSCRIBE>
DIGITAL EDITION>
BEST OF SACRAMENTO     GOODIE BAG      MASTERS CLUB MEMBERS     NEWSLETTERS     WEDDINGS     RESTAURANTS     WINE

Best of Sacramento 2011

(page 1 of 7)

 

Life can feel a bit unpredictable these days, but one thing we know for sure: Our region is full of innovative and intriguing people, places and things that make it a great place to live, work and play—always giving us fabulous fodder for our annual Best of Sacramento feature. This year, the editors have taken over, naming 41 of their favorites around town. But your voices also were heard: In our online survey at sacmag.com, everyone was invited to vote for local businesses in categories including media, retail and the arts. So enjoy the read and join us in saluting the region’s best.

 

STYLE + SHOPPING + BEAUTY

Best Blowout
Can you imagine anything more heavenly than a weekly professional blowout? Inspired by the blowout-only salons that cater to well-groomed Manhattanites, Folsom esthetician Carmen Gammon opened REPUBLIC BLOW OUT BAR n August 2010. Her blowout menu includes The Dirty Girl (a blowout with loads of volume), The Trophy Wife (sleek and smooth) and The Girl Next Door (lots of curls). Cost for a wash, scalp massage and blowout: $35. The blowout bar is attached to Gammon’s full-service Republic Salon and can handle individual drop-ins; appointments are recommended for groups such as bachelorette parties and high school promsters. “When you leave here,” says Gammon, “you’re ready for whatever the night holds.” 302 S. Lexington Drive, Folsom; (916) 984-4444; republicsalon.net

Best Adult Toy Store
Get your mind out of the gutter—we’re not talking about X-rated toys. DRAGATOMI in midtown sells collectible art toys (aka urban vinyl) with price tags that run as high as $1,200. Owner Joanne Suavillo was already collecting the cartoonish action figures when she decided to start an online store about three years ago. She was so successful (with customers from all over the world) that she followed up with a bricks-and-mortar shop on J Street in 2009. The shop’s designer toys are produced in limited quantities by artists who put their own 3-D spin on characters such as Badtz-Maru, Android and The Simpsons. Dragatomi carries all the big industry names: Kidrobot, Tokidoki, threeA Toys and Kuso Vinyl. And while the designer figures are awfully cute, they’re definitely for adults. “This is not for kids,” says Suavillo, “although we do have kids who buy our stuff.”  2317 J St., Sacramento; (916) 706-0535; dragatomi.com

Best Discount Denim
Designer jeans can cost an arm and a leg. Not at RENEW DENIM in downtown Davis. Founded by Davis residents Samantha and Barth Ballard (both of whom have extensive experience in the retail denim industry), the store carries designer jeans at 40 to 70 percent off their original prices. Brands include Joe Jeans, J Brand, Kunna and Denim by Victoria Beckham. 222 D St., Davis; (530) 297-5326; renewdenim.com

Best Designer Vintage
When Stefan Bloom and Erin Boyle opened Scout Living, their new midtown design collective, they invited Hector Lopez to set up shop in a small alcove of the store. An avid collector, Lopez scours estate sales, flea markets, thrift stores and antiques fairs from here to Southern California for high-end vintage women’s wear. His tiny shop-within-a-shop, MADEMOISELLE, is filled with his fashionable finds. He carries tons of Chanel apparel and accessories (purses, sunglasses, shoes and jewelry), plus a who’s who of other big designer names: Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, YSL, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Jean Paul Gaultier, Stella McCartney, Dior and more. Clients come from as far away as San Francisco and L.A. for special pieces, such as a 1920s opera coat from Emporium Capwell and a Chanel 2.55 handbag (the iconic quilted one) that retails for $3,200. “It’s simply the best designer collection in the city,” says Bloom. 1215 18th St., Sacramento; (916) 594-7971; scoutliving.com

Best Sunless Tan
Esthetician Meri Thresher ran a conventional tanning salon for five years before deciding she no longer wanted to subject her clients to the UV radiation of tanning beds. So last
year, she opened the city’s first sunless-only tanning salon, EYECANDY SUNLESS SPA. While you stand in front of a screen, she applies a sun-free tanning solution to your body, using a high-pressure, low-volume spray gun. For $40, you get a gorgeous golden glow that lasts up to seven days. And no UV rays! 2011 P St., Sacramento; (916) 977-3737; eyecandytanning.com

Best Bet for the Full-Figured Bride
As many full-figured brides discover, it’s hard to find larger-size sample wedding gowns at most bridal salons. Recognizing this untapped market, Sandra Gonzalez opened SPARKLE, a bridal salon for women sizes 14 to 30, this past July. “A bride shouldn’t have to sacrifice style just because she’s a size 14,” Gonzalez argues. The salon carries about 150 gowns designed specifically for larger brides, with clever construction and special boning to flatter a curvy woman’s figure. The dresses (many of them strapless) are sexy and body-conscious—not, as Gonzalez puts it, “frumpy-dumpy”—at prices from $900 to $3,000. In addition to wedding gowns, the East Sac salon sells a small collection of LBDs (Little Black Dresses) in larger sizes. 3200 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 538-6615; sparklebridalcouture.com

Best Place To Buy a Car
Buying a car can be stressful. So one automaker had a brilliant idea: Why not let consumers buy cars the same way they purchase sunglasses and blue jeans? Last November, The HYUNDAI STORE opened in Downtown Plaza. Located on the mall’s ground floor, the 7,000-square-foot showroom has cars that you can test-drive as easily as trying on a sweater at nearby Macy’s. Salespeople are paid a salary rather than a commission, and there’s a no-haggle, fixed-price policy. “You can purchase a car in about an hour without getting beat up,” says sales manager Tim Langston. “Nobody’s trying to ram stuff down your throat.” The first store of its kind in the country, it’s a five-year pilot program; if the concept works, Hyundai plans to roll it out in other markets. 545 L St., Sacramento; (916) 444-1101; hyundaistore.com

Best Product for an Expectant Mom
Being pregnant can take a toll on your body. With this in mind, Paige Birge Smith and Jill Birge Brewer (cousins who are both mothers) created PURE BELLY WRAP. Made of bamboo, it helps keep you cool in summer and warm in winter. And, when used with creams and lotions, it may help minimize stretch marks. It’s adjustable, so you can use it throughout your pregnancy. You can buy it at Goore’s, Whole Foods Market in Roseville and on Pure Belly’s website. purebelly.com

Best Thrift Store
Thrift stores are a dime a dozen. But one stands out from the crowd: GOODWILL'S MIDTOWN BOUTIQUE. Open since May, the 6,400-square-foot store specializes in vintage and designer-name clothing: Donna Karan New York, Dana Buchman, Calvin Klein, Ralph by Ralph Lauren, Adrienne Vittadini, Armani Collezioni, St. John and others. “We pick the best of the best,” store manager Aidan MacAllister explains. “It has to be almost brand new: no holes, no stains, only garments in the greatest condition.” Prices are wallet-friendly: $8 to $10 for a sweater (even cashmere), $25 to $30 for a suit. Proceeds help people with disabilities. Isn’t it nice to know the dough you drop on a Burberry blazer is going to someone in need? 1621 L St., Sacramento; (916) 441-4407; goodwillsacto.org

Best Old-Fashioned Barbershop
Barbershops are a place where men come for a cut, maybe a shave, and 30 to 45 minutes of fellowship. UNLCLE JED'S CUT HUT  in Oak Park is just such a place. Outside, men shoot the breeze. Inside, a row of chairs and washbasins are at the ready, and there’s a big-screen TV and memorabilia on the wall. We hear the mayor even pops in on occasion to get his hair cut. 3432 Third Ave., Sacramento; (916) 452-3222

 

Next page: Food + Drink

(page 3 of 7)


THINGS TO DO

Best Way To Spend a Day
Grady O’Bryant likes bringing people together. And he does just that with his Meetup, SACRAMENTO DAY TRIPPERS. The group, which boasts 2,000 members, has been tripping all around Northern California since 2008: wine tasting in Amador, seeing plays in San Francisco, cheering at football games in Oakland, taking in the sights at Monterey Bay Aquarium. O’Bryant organizes some 50-plus outings a year. The group also holds a big New Year’s Eve bash and gets together to listen to jazz at MIX Downtown during the warm-weather months. (916) 443-8741; escapesac.com

Best Way To Expand Your Mind
Where do you go when you’re craving intellectual sustenance? California State Library’s FOOD FOR THOUGHT CULTURAL PROGRAM scratches that itch. Held the third Wednesday of every month, the free events have a format that varies: It could be a movie screening, author lecture or music performance. But it’s always something California-related. This month, pop-up-book author and illustrator David A. Carter talks about his books. “The series is meant to introduce people to what we offer here at the library,” says Rebecca Fontaine, special events coordinator at the library, which is like the California version of the U.S. Library of Congress. “Most people don’t know what we are really about or that we are even here.” 900 N St., Sacramento; (916) 654-0266; library.ca.gov

Best Way To See the Real Old Sac
In the late 1800s, the city raised Old Sac’s buildings 8 to 12 feet to help combat the effects of flooding. Now you can tour the hidden underground city that was left behind. Hourlong OLD SACRAMENTO UNDERGROUND TOURS ake you below several historic buildings, including the B.F. Hastings and Hall & Luhrs Co. buildings. You’ll learn about interesting residents of the era and view bona-fide artifacts from back in the day. Sturdy shoes are recommended and a new appreciation for Sacramento history is guaranteed. Tours run through November, then resume in April. historicoldsac.org/programs/programs-underground.asp

Best Place To Spot a Celebrity
Sacramento isn’t exactly teeming with famous people. But once a year, a slew of celebs come to town for induction into the CALIFORNIA HALL OF FAME. Founded in 2006 by then-first lady Maria Shriver, the Hall of Fame celebrates remarkable Californians who’ve had a major impact on the world. Past honorees include Tiger Woods, Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Serena Williams, Jack Nicholson, Mark Zuckerberg and Clint Eastwood. In previous years, induction was held in The California Museum’s tiny downtown auditorium. This year’s ceremony will be on Dec. 8 at the much larger Memorial Auditorium. Tickets are available at $125 a pop. For fans looking to gawk for free, there will be a red carpet arrival out front for this year’s inductees, which include Buzz Aldrin, Magic Johnson, Carlos Santana and The Beach Boys. Bring your binoculars. californiamuseum.org

 

Next page: Garden + Design

Subscribe