CURRENT ISSUE>
ADVERTISE>
CONTACT US>
SUBSCRIBE>
DIGITAL EDITION>
--> BEST OF SACRAMENTO     GOODIE BAG     DOLLAR-WISE GOURMET     E-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 6 of 7)

ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

Best Way To Add Sizzle to Your Life
SIZZLING SIRENS, a sensuous all-woman dance troupe, has been bringing va va voom to Sacramento since 2008, performing everywhere from the Crocker Art Museum to Harlow’s. Make a night of it and check out the The Siren Show at RESTAURANT THIR13EN, which features live jazz and blues from the Harley White Jr. Orchestra, themed cocktails and an optional themed dinner. Another option? Fishnet Friday, a burlesque-themed dance party that takes place every first Friday at Marilyn’s on K. Want to get your own sizzle on? Take a class at Burlesque Academy. Private and group lessons are available. sizzlingsirensburlesque.com

Best Way To See Artistsin Their Natural Habitat
To the layperson, art making can be a mysterious process. CAPITOL ARTISTS' STUDIO TOUR gives Sacramentans a chance to see what an artist’s life is like behind the scenes. Held every September by the Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento, the free, self-guided two-day event allows you to tour 150 working artists’ studios and see for yourself how the magic happens. The art on display covers a wide spectrum, with textiles, furniture and sculpture among the offerings. “There’s something for every style,” says CCAS board member Cheryl Holben. The center encourages attendees to start their art collections by purchasing original works, many of which cost less than framed reproductions at major retailers. (916) 498-9811; ccasac.org

Best Alternative to the Multiplex
Sacramento isn’t a top-tier city when it comes to attracting independent films. So Robert McKeown and his wife, DeeAnn Little, started MOVIES ON A BIG SCREEN to bring documentaries, indie flicks and the occasional cult classic to town. Screenings have been held at different venues over the past five years that MOBS has been in existence, but for now they’re on Sunday nights at Oak Park’s Guild Theater. Tickets to most films are just $5. McKeown cites positive audience feedback as a reason why MOBS endures. “Our tagline is ‘We’re 5 years old and it’s all your fault,’” he says. The pair hope to add a second movie night. moviesonabigscreen.com

Best Band To Watch
When we first heard the name SISTER CRAYON, we thought we’d stumbled upon a children’s band. But one listen to the band’s ethereal, sometimes haunting
music and we were properly schooled. The band—Terra Lopez, Dani Fernandez and Jeffrey LaTour—put heart, soul and sometimes sweat into their live appearances. They have a solid fan base in Sac, and they love their fans back. Sister Crayon posted the following on its Facebook page after one Sacramento appearance this summer: “Thank you, thank you, thank you Sacramento. You never disappoint. Truly humbled and honored for your energy and support tonight. 916 got moves.” The Sammie-award winning band is currently touring, so you might not catch it here until next year. In the meantime, check out Bellow, its first full-length album under the Manimal Vinyl Records label.

Best Splashy New Arts Center
Not too shabby for a theater that was conceived as a gathering ground for students to show off their performance skills. Since its opening in February with A Chorus Line, THREE STAGES AT FOLSOM LAKE COLLEGE has drawn the Joffrey Ballet, Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight!, Gloria Steinem, Harlem Gospel Choir, Rosanne Cash and other top touring acts. The complex also is a venue for professional groups closer to home, such as the Sacramento Ballet and Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra, and youthful productions such as those of El Dorado Musical Theatre and Northern California Dance Conservatory. With three performance spaces—847-seats, 207-seats and 95-seats—there’s enough room to fulfill the original mission of showcasing college performances. This season, expect to see FLC’s Afro-Cuban Funk Band’s Jazz After Dark (Nov. 18), Monty Python’s Spamalot (Nov. 17 to 19) and Folsom Symphony’s A Joyful Celebration (Dec. 11) among other inspiring shows.

Best High School Touring Company
We’re busting with pride that MIRA LOMA HIGH SCHOOL was invited to perform at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival this past August. It’s not an easy gig to get: The school was one of 1,500 U.S. schools nominated and, following an arduous audition, one of only 50 nationwide selected to attend the fest. In Scotland, Mira Loma’s thespians performed Almost, Maine by John Cariani, “a romantic comedy with magic realism,” according to the school’s theater instructor Nikki Schallig-Weil. “It’s very American, which is why we decided to bring it.”

Best Usable Art
Fans of TWO ACCORDIONS quilts should be grateful that founders Joe Gallegos and Ruth Hansen met. The duo creates handsome, streamlined designs with a retro, ’60s mod feel, featuring abstract patterns in vivid colors. “Our goal is to keep our quilts simple and original,” says Gallegos, who was inspired by a tattered quilt made years earlier by his grandmother. Once he and Hansen started dating, he shared with her his vision for crafting modern, usable quilts. And these quilts are most definitely usable: Yoga mats and picnic quilts are among the styles they offer. Gallegos performs what he calls the “construction process,” which includes cutting and piecing the fabric, while Hansen sews the pieces together and adds their signature stitch design at the very end. The quilts can be found only at Scout Living on 18th Street while the quilting duo works on building up an inventory. twoaccordions.com

 

Next page: Civic Life

Subscribe