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2016 Lifestyle & LeisureReaders' Choice
Best Charitable Event
2016 Goods & ServicesEditors' Choice
Best French-Themed Gift Shop
Dreaming of Paris? Round the corner onto 17th Street and you’ll know Oo La La Gift & Accessories Lounge is open by a whiff of nag champa incense, owner Tracey Friley’s signature scent. Next, a sidewalk sign warns, “Cute Little Gift Shop—6 steps ahead.” Enter the tiny shop through a doorway framed with colorful flowers, and French cafe music fills your ears. Friley (that’s her sitting in the front window, greeting each customer) personally curates the funky, eclectic, ever-changing, floor-to-ceiling collection of curios and clothing during her extensive travels in France, the United States, and around the world: dazzling jewelry, unique purses and hats, cute, little trinket boxes and trays, cool clothes, and countless perfect gift items for yourself or your BFF. “There isn’t anything in here that I don’t love,” Friley says. “I’m excited when you love it, because I do too.” The Left Bank is much closer than it seems.
2016 Food & DrinkEditors' Choice
When you’re craving high-level banter about life’s nuances interspersed with pop culture trivia references, you want Pam Chao, aka Pam Noir, at The Layover Music Bar & Lounge. Able to rapid-fire obscure movie quotes and philosophical quips while matching every double entendre, she will mix your cocktail with the precision and calmness of a Wild West sharpshooter. An elegantly tattooed Bay Area native, her sweet heart pairs well with her classy no-nonsense attitude. You can catch her on weekends, amid the Layover’s packed hip-hop grinding moments dancing behind the bar, recommending the best tequila, or lovingly razzing you for ordering a margarita during rush hour. She won’t blink an eye at your odd nonalcoholic cucumber drink request but will serve it up with a wink and a smile—once you kindly wait your turn.
2016 Lifestyle & LeisureEditors' Choice
Best New Parklet
That charming blue replica of a trolley, “parked” outside MLK Cafe around the corner from MacArthur BART station, is a parklet, there for public use. Privately sponsored and maintained, parklets offer anyone a place to meet up, read, play, eat, check mobile devices or just hang out. They are meant especially for districts that lack parks or outdoor seating areas—both of which the Longfellow neighborhood sorely needed. MLK Cafe owner Asmerom Ghebremicael and then-board member of Longfellow Community Association Yuriko Jewett led the project, and the community came together to make it happen. The structure’s theme reflects back to the late 1800s when trolleys traveled this stretch, adding historical significance. And now the parklet adds unity to the historically rough neighborhood. “We’re changing it,” said Ghebremicael, “little by little.”