You've been to one Borders, you been to them all, right? Not so fast. There is one exception, and that is the Borders located in downtown Palo Alto. This is the nicest Borders around. Located in an old theatre, you can take your time with a coffee and read through a book in their outdoor area. It's a special place. I highly recommend.
I've been to La Spalon for color and cut. Owned and operated by Alan Ray, you can also request him for your cut and color. Located next to Jimmy Johns in the Vista, La Spalon is a nice salon with staff willing to help. Although a bit expensive, so far my experiences have been worth it (and I'm tough on salons).
This place is a legend unto itself. Known best for its days as The Beats hangout -- writers like Jack Kerouac held court here. City Lights is located in North Beach. And although most tourists just take a picture of the front, those who care about history should take a look inside. The store is filled with books you can't find anywhere else. Can you dig?
Good Vibrations is a great place, whether you're looking for yourself or someone else. Unlike those seedy sex shops that you're afraid to go into for fear of catching something -- GV is employee-owned and top notch. It is a welcoming, clean place for fun items. And at GV, you are never judged and questions are welcomed.
I'm not a big bar fly, but Vesuvio is cool. Located in North Beach, the bar has a neighborhood feel, yet isn't dated or filled with people who need to get jobs. Saturday nights are hopping at Vesuvio and from what I have seen, ages run from early 20s to late 30s. If you don't like packed bars... try another night of the week.
Located in the heart of North Beach on Columbus Ave., Steps of Rome is only 10 years old, but has made itself a staple of North Beach eateries. It is cozy inside with a true Italian menu to suit every palette. The service is good and cost is very reasonable. Although you may have to deal with tourists -- Steps of Rome is worth it.
The Stinking Rose is such a cool restaurant. If you don't like garlic, then you can stop reading now. But if you do -- read on.
Located in North Beach, The Stinking Rose is a delicious place that doesn't take itself too seriously. Named after that smelly, yet yummy ingredient, garlic -- this place is like none you have ever experienced. The menu is all about garlic, which is added to everything from seafood, beef and pasta. They also have a decent wine list. And the interior is best, with lots of vampire memorabilia. Get it... garlic... vampires? Check it out.
Yoshis is a class act. With excellent entertainment and fabulous Japanese cuisine -- you must give Yoshis a shot. Perfect for a date or group of friends, at night at Yoshis is money and time well spent. And if you don't want to head over the bridge to Oakland -- Yoshis recently opened a location in SF.
There are many jazz clubs in the City, however, one of the oldest -- and still the best -- is Pearl's. Located in North Beach, Pearl's showcases some of the best local and national acts. Pearl's is an intimate club that makes you feel like you are in an upscale club in New Orleans. It's classy without being pretentious. If you are looking for great jazz in SF, check out Jazz at Pearl's!
Al's Upstairs is considered one of Columbia's upper-end restaurants. I don't think it delivers. The odd location makes parking difficult. The inside is nice, but also awkward. The food and wine lists are nice, but nothing special. The food itself was good -- not great. The service was very good. Overall, it's just okay. Don't expect a five-star dining experience.