Authors Posts by Molly Oleson

Molly Oleson


We know what you’re thinking: “Romance? Ewww!” But come on—anyone can find love in Marin … even if it’s just with that cocktail you’re clutching while you’re waiting to meet “the one.” From romantic dining options, to sexy lingerie to a sex therapist who will help you find what you’ve been missing, Marin has you covered when it comes to hearts and kisses and holding hands and planning your wedding. And it doesn’t hurt that this place is overflowing with stunning backdrops for flirty adventures and heartfelt proposals.—M.O.

Prime Destination

You gave the Panama Hotel the prize in the Best Boutique Hotel category, so you must be in on the secret. From an aptly named Bordello Room to the unassuming location, the Panama feels like the ultimate getaway, full of romance and mischief. The shady courtyards and small balconies contribute to the hotel’s exclusive, lucrative atmosphere, and if romance makes you hungry, there’s an on-point restaurant on the premises. The design will please even the toughest critics, with modern and traditional Hispanic touches and a discreet facade. With the Panama’s approachable rates taken into consideration, no wonder it’s a prime destination for close-to-home adventuring.

4 Bayview St., San Rafael; 415.457.3993.

Sexy & Practical

When shopping for the right little lacy number, it’s best to be comfortable and a little curious. Fans of The Lingerie Shoppe, winner of Marin’s Best Lingerie Shop, clearly appreciate the romantic-yet-casual vibe that this long-standing Larkspur favorite exudes. No dark spaces and dead-serious sales associates here. Instead, the space is bright and welcoming, and the lingerie is colorful and—gasp—often practical as well as sexy. In addition to satin bras and panties by brands like Hanky Panky, Lejaby and more, the shop offers plenty of baby dolls, slippers, small gifts and excellent sleeping masks—for sleeping or other purposes.

484 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur; 415.924.0505.

El Paseo

When it comes to the almost-forgotten concept of the ‘romantic dinner,’ sometimes a true and tested classic goes a long way. Almost forgotten, because in the age of Tinder and casual ‘dating,’ the value of candlelit, tasteful courtship is slowly diminishing. But don’t give up hope! The readers who awarded El Paseo the victory in the Best Romantic Dinner category clearly know a thing or two about romance. The Mill Valley restaurant, an institution of 70 years, has all of the attributes of old-school charm: A Spanish courtyard, wooden chairs begging to be adjusted by an eager suitor, dim lights and cozy brick walls all play significant parts. And the menu? Shareable heaven—steamy paellas, sexy small bites (aphrodisiacs hide in every other dish) and a wine list geared to seduce pretty much anyone. This restaurant calls for a celebration, any day of the week.

17 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley; 415.388.0741.

Here Comes the Bride

Marin County has no shortage of stunning venues for the big day, but there could be only one Best Wedding Reception Venue winner. That would be Marin Art & Garden Center, tucked away in Ross. What makes the place so exceptional? Perhaps the sense, upon entering the lush green premises, that nothing could possibly go wrong here. The open-air spots, adorned with string lights upon request, can host a large crowd, while the indoor spaces will accommodate a smaller group. And, of course, nothing beats the round, fountain-clad pond for wedding photos and pre-celebration relaxation.

30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross; 415.455.5260.

Talkin’ ’Bout Sex

What should one expect from a Best Sex Therapist? The category winner, Claudia Six, embodies the answer—an unapologetic, straightforward approach, compassion and the ability to tell you things friends and family won’t. Six, a clinical sexologist and relationship coach with an M.A. in counseling psychology and a Ph.D. in clinical sexology, is based in San Rafael and runs a successful practice that combines traditional therapy with a focus on relationships and sexuality. Her book, published in May 2016, is titled Erotic Integrity: How to be True to Yourself Sexually, which may give you a hint on her interest with the inner self. Loyal clients who value the slow, thoughtful path to self-realization can’t stop recommending Six to anyone who’d listen, and the result is complete community appreciation.


Come Here Often?

How does one meet a significant other, a fling or a potential best friend these days? Apparently it involves a visit to Terrapin Crossroads, Marin’s winner as the Best Place for Singles to Meet. The San Rafael music and dining venue, forever tied to Grateful Dead glory, stands out thanks to a number of factors. First, the musical calendar—featuring anything from Neil Young-themed nights to Top 40 dance parties—tends to attract a mixed crowd of fun-loving, music-appreciating folks of all ages and classifications. The unbuttoned, casual neighborhood-bar atmosphere helps with small talk and flirting, and the evening can stretch into dinner, with a delicious full menu always available. And don’t forget about the back patio, complete with couches for lounging on as you watch the boats go by, and a firepit to get cozy next to in the big, remodeled backyard.

100 Yacht Club Drive, San Rafael; 415.524.2773.

Wedding Bells

In Marin’s competitive wedding market, winning the Best Wedding Event Planner category isn’t to be taken for granted. Katie Rebecca Events, featuring a dedicated team of creative planners clearly in love with their jobs, takes the cake—and for a good reason. Specializing in breezy, tasteful and very California-style weddings, the ladies at Katie Rebecca’s company do it all, from lighting to draping, and from the cake to the flowers—with a beautiful Instagram account to prove it. Aside from a high taste level and attention to detail, Katie Rebecca’s key selling point is flexibility—custom packages with high to low involvement and a varying timeline are available. Wedding planning never felt less stressful.


Escape From Reality

When looking for the Best Staycation, you clearly want the following: An out-of-this world feel, a unique experience, a pampering and relaxing vibe and beautiful surroundings. Enter Cavallo Point in Sausalito. A member of the distinguished Historic Hotels of America list, Cavallo Point delivers with every step. The views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge are pretty priceless, while the majestic white buildings will make you feel as if you’ve travelled thousands of miles to faraway European destinations. With its classic, muted tones and green open areas, the resort manages to feel intimate and grand at the same time, offering the ideal escape from reality. Craving fine dining? Murray Circle, the on-location restaurant, serves up beautiful and nuanced tasting menus and ‘lazy brunches.’ Aching for a nurturing experience? The spa offers traditional massages as well as innovative and staycation-worthy experiences like chakra balancing, detox rituals and ‘ZENaissance’ wraps. And the fact that it’s a short drive away? A total winner.

601 Murray Circle, Sausalito; 415.339.4700.

Flora Tsapovsky

The full list of Best of Marin 2017 Romance winners:

Best Boutique Hotel
Panama Hotel
4 Bayview St., San Rafael.

Best Couples Counseling
Dr. Rick Scott
33 Millwood St., #4, Mill Valley.

Best Erotica Store
Pleasures of the Heart
1310 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Lingerie Shop
The Lingerie Shoppe
484 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur.

Best Place for Singles to Meet
Terrapin Crossroads
100 Yacht Club Drive, San Rafael.

Best Romantic Dinner
El Paseo
17 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Sex Therapist
Dr. Claudia Six

Best Staycation
Cavallo Point
601 Murray Circle, Sausalito.

Best Wedding Event Planner
Katie Rebecca Events

Best Wedding Reception Venue
Marin Art & Garden Center
30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross.

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Marin County boasts some of the most beautiful homes in the Bay Area—and the world. Have you admired the places tucked into the Sausalito hills as you’re cruising in on the ferry? Have you stopped to smell the flowers surrounding the homes in lush Mill Valley? Yes—the homeowners deserve a pat on the back, but they may have gotten a little help from Marin’s stellar garden centers, architects, home organizers and landscape designers. Thanks to the winners on the pages that follow, a high bar has been set for North Bay living.—M.O.

Key to Safety

Let’s face it: You can’t live in the North Bay and talk about locks and locksmiths without breaking into song. Yes, the Sammy Hagar song, the one with the three-lock-box. Sammy was talking chastity but we’re talking home security and Transbay Security, Best Locksmith, is the standard-bearer in Marin County, in business since 1964 and offering the full range of 21st  century security needs: They’ll consult, install and repair a home system; they’ll sell you locks and they’ll rekey any that are in need of such things. They also offer automotive security packages along with the a full line of keys, safes, and fail-safe door-lock systems. The company features top-line products from the likes of Medeco, Schlage, Emtek and Hollon Safe which means good products matched with top-notch service. That’s unbeatable security.—Tom Gogola

2018 Fourth St., San Rafael; 415.456.3860.

Total Tune-up

In business since 2006, Tamalpais Plumbing will repair your pipe problem with a minimum of fuss and surprises. The owner-operated company doesn’t use subcontractors and all costs are determined by the job itself. There’s after-hours service for when the septic system goes nuclear in the middle of the night. Tamalpais is a full-service affair; they’ll tune up your toilet or install a gas or electric water heater. Service is the buzzword here and you can expect top-notch attention and professionalism from Marin’s Best Plumber—they are reasonable and ready to rock your clog with a smile and a bill that won’t have you reaching for the lead pipe.—T.G.


‘Tree’ting You Right

After a hard-blowing winter it’s time to call Treemasters to clear branches and fell that Monterey cypress that’s about to crush the roof. These guys will eliminate diseased trees and won’t leave with a huge overhanging bill that you can’t pay. Reasonable and hard-working, the Treemasters logo is ‘Honesty, Integrity and Craftsmanship.’ No wonder they are Marin’s Best Tree Services.—T.G.

3175 Kerner Blvd., Ste. A, San Rafael; 415.455.9933.

Garden of Eden

Marin’s Best Nursery/Garden Center, Sloat Garden Center is named after the street of the business’s original location in San Francisco, out by the San Francisco Zoo. Have you been there? It’s cold and foggy and yet the nursery is an eden of healthy green plants. The same thing goes for the five, far sunnier locations in Marin County. Walk into any of the stores and behold the array of plants, and you can’t help but get inspired to garden. The stores have a great line-up of pottery, too. Sloat has been independently owned since 1958 and has embraced chemical-free gardening long before it was popular. The store has partnered with Our Water Our World, an organization that helps educate the public regarding toxic runoff into our streams, bays and oceans, since 1997.—Stett Holbrook

700 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Kentfield; 415.454.0262; 2000 Novato Blvd., Novato; 415.897.2169; 1580 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael; 415.453.3977; 657 E. Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley; 415.388.0102; 401 Miller Ave., Mill Valley; 415.388.0365; various other locations.

Next Fix

Oh no! The freezer isn’t working and everything is starting to melt all over the floor! It’s 100 degrees out and the air conditioning suddenly quit! Yikes! There’s a bad gas smell coming from the stove—maybe it’s leaking! Appliance repair is one of those things that you don’t think about until you REALLY need it. And then you have to find a reputable, reliable place to call IMMEDIATELY. A Diamond Certified business would be really nice, and luckily, voters chose one this year for Best Appliance RepairMartin & Harris Appliances. Family-owned and operated, Martin & Harris has been servicing Marin County for more than 50 years. And because they sell a huge variety of appliances, including washers and dryers, gas and electric stoves, microwaves, outdoor grills, trash compactors and much more—from brand-name manufacturers like Amana, Bosch, Hotpoint, GE, KitchenAid, Maytag and Whirlpool—they really know how to fix them. Known for their friendly service and competitive prices, they also place a high value on giving back to the community, and lend support to schools and charities in Marin County. So whether you need to fix that leaking dishwasher, or just buy a new one, Martin & Harris is a one-stop shop for any and all of your appliance needs.—Lily O’Brien

2158 Fourth St., San Rafael; 415.454.2021.

Personal Touch

Decades before home improvement customers started wandering lost among the canyon-like aisles of Home Depot, trying in vain to find someone, anyone, in an orange vest to help them find a simple goddamned shelf bracket to fix the piece-of-junk shelf they purchased amid the same mammoth cavern of hardware and lumber, Jackson’s Hardware in San Rafael has been serving customers since 1964, long before there was such a thing as a big-box store. The reason for the longevity and great service of the Best Home Improvement Store is simple: It’s employee-owned. There’s a real difference between being served by someone waiting for their $15-an-hour shift to end and an employee/owner with an interest in making you happy so that you come back. Most of Jackson’s staff has more than 10 years of experience, and no interest in selling you anything other than what you need.—S.H.  

435 Du Bois St., San Rafael; 415.454.3740.

The full list of Best of Marin 2017 Home Improvement winners:

Best Appliance Repair
Martin & Harris Appliances
2158 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Architect
Crome Architecture
905 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Carpet Cleaning
Atlas Window & Carpet Cleaning
118 Auburn St., San Rafael.

Best Carpeting/Flooring
Rafael Floors
822 Francisco Blvd. W., San Rafael.

Best Cleaning Service
Molly Maid
3095 Kerner Blvd. Ste. K, San Rafael.

Best Computer Repair Service
Mac Repair
7075 Redwood Blvd., Novato.

Best Contractor—Residential
DNL Builders

Best Deck & Fencing
Clough Construction
4220 Redwood Hwy., San Rafael.

Best Electrician
Hazelton Electric

Best Hauling
Think Pink & Green
4 Brooke Drive, Novato.

Best Home Furnishings
Sunrise Home
831 B St., San Rafael.

Best Home Improvement Store
Jackson’s Hardware
435 Du Bois St., San Rafael.

Best Home Organizer
Changing Places
4340 Redwood Hwy., Ste. F-100, San Rafael.

Best Kitchen/Bath Remodeler
Kitchens and More
4178 Redwood Hwy., San Rafael.

Best Landscape Design Company
Rayner Landscaping
19 Digital Drive, Ste. U, Novato.

Best Locksmith
Transbay Security Service
2018 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Moving & Storage
Johnson & Daly Moving & Storage
110 Belvedere St., San Rafael.

Best Nursery/Garden Center
Sloat Garden Center
700 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Kentfield.
2000 Novato Blvd., Novato.
1580 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael.
657 E. Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley.
401 Miller Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Paint Supplier
Tamalpais Color Service
5784 Paradise Drive, Corte Madera.

Best Painting Contractor
Greenline Painting
40 Ross Ave. #2, San Anselmo.

Best Plumber
Tamalpais Plumbing

Best Real Estate Brokerage
Bradley Real Estate
851 Irwin St., San Rafael.

Best Roofer
McLeran Roofing

Best Self Storage
Bellam Self Storage & Boxes
24 Bellam Blvd., San Rafael.

Best Solar Supplier
8 Digital Drive, Ste. 101, Novato.

Best Tree Service
3175 Kerner Blvd., Ste. A, San Rafael.

Best Window Cleaners
Smart Window Cleaning
22 Commercial Blvd., Ste. B, Novato.

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A world-class food and drink scene: Just one more thing to love about Marin. From restaurants that offer dinner paired with a stunning view, to bars that serve rotating craft brews, to delis that know to hold the onions for you to farmers’ markets that carry the latest bounty from the fields, you really can’t go wrong when trying to satisfy your appetite. And if you ever find yourself slurping from oyster shells on Tomales Bay, or playing pool and trading stories with new friends at the county’s best dive bar, you’ll know that life is good.—M.O.

Good Ol’ ’cue

Your image of the Best BBQ joint may conjure a clapboard restaurant with a squeaky screen door and great jukebox along a country road somewhere south of Luling, Texas. But there’s no need to go that far. Pig in a Pickle is right down the road in Corte Madera. So what if it’s located in the not-exactly-backwoods Corte Madera Town Center? Good barbecue is where you find it and you’ll find it at Pig in a Pickle. Barbecue is a regional delicacy and Pig in a Pickle plays homage to the diversity of good ’cue with a variety of sauce styles: Memphis, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama and just plain hot habañero. Of course sauce doesn’t matter much if there’s not good barbecue to go with it. That’s not a problem here. The brisket, pulled pork, ribs and chickens are cooked low and slow over white oak. You want side dishes? They have it all—pickles, corn bread, collard green, beans, mac ’n’ cheese, coleslaw and more. And of course there’s plenty of cold craft beer, with rotating specials, to wash it all down.—Stett Holbrook

341 Corte Madera Town Center, Corte Madera; 415.891.3265.

Burger Craving

Marin County is known as a place where residents enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Vegan, organic and gluten-free are all in; eating meat, not so much. But let’s face it—there are times when the only thing that will fill your comfort-food craving is a large, delicious, hearty, juicy burger. And that’s why Phyllis’ Giant Burgers, with five locations (three in Marin, two in Santa Rosa) is this year’s choice for Best Burger. Phyllis’ offers a full range of burgers, in junior or giant size, teriyaki, Cajun or BBQ, and lots of choices for additions like cheese, avocado, sautéed mushrooms and onions, pesto and an extra patty. And if you’re dating a no-red-meat eater, he or she will be happy to know that there are chicken, turkey, fish and vegan burgers, plus lots of foodie-friendly salads like the Cobb, Chinese Chicken, Mediterranean Chicken and more. And don’t forget the fries—French, garlic, curly and chili, plus kiddie-size dogs and burgers for the little ones, and milkshakes and soft ice cream shakes for little or big ones.—Lily O’Brien

8 East Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley; 415.381.6010; 924 Diablo Blvd., Novato; 415.898.8294; 2202 Fourth St., San Rafael; 415.456.0866.

King of the Sandwich

If you’re searching for the Sando King, search no more. Voters have ruled that Perry’s Delicatessen rules, as Marin’s Best Deli. With all of the usual, and unusual choices for meat, cheese and breads, the deli has customers raving about the breakfast sandwiches, like the Trifecta and the Hashfecta, the pesto chicken sandwich and other specialties like the Cubano, the Reuben and the Pastrami Bomb. Drinks, desserts and chips are also available, and Perry’s is known for its friendly staff, reasonable prices and casual atmosphere. Get thee to the deli!—L.O.

909 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael; 415.456.4886.

Chocolate Cure

When it comes to sweet treats, chocoholics will all agree that vanilla and strawberry and lemon are all just fine, but there is only one thing that really hits the sweet spot—IT HAS TO BE CHOCOLATE! And Marin voters this year have spoken—their pick for Best Chocolatier is Pick Me Up Chocolate. Located on Bridgeway, Sausalito’s favorite bayside promenade, Pick Me Up’s goodies in the window will tempt those walking by, and make it nearly impossible not to go inside. Trays and boxes of luscious, handcrafted, organic, artisan chocolates are laid out on tables and shelves. Collections include the 28-piece Big Love Heart Box, containing dark ganaches, milk chocolates, pralines, caramels and more. Simplicity is found with the Little Brown six-piece box. Whatever you choose, do choose to leave your diet plans outside.—L.O.

707 Bridgeway, Sausalito; 415.729.9557.

All Things Sublime

Well yeah, you’re sitting right on the water, checking out all of the boats bobbing in their slips on a breezy afternoon in the North Bay. You’re munching on a burger, enjoying a beer and life is good. There’s a reason Sam’s Anchor Café wins Best Outdoor Dining every year, and it’s because the location is sublime, the eats are first-rate and you can just sit there for hours and hours like Otis Redding, on the dock of the bay, and take it all in, slurping oysters on the half-shell, slamming down onion rings fried to crispy perfection and getting “shellacked” as you watch the prisoners from San Quentin wave at the ferry. Or you can stay home and fire up the 24-7 “Sam’s Cam” on their website and take in the view from the privacy of your own kitchen, sort of like watching the yule log on TV but with better visuals.—Tom Gogola

27 Main St., Tiburon; 415.435.4527.

Brew Time

If you’re looking for late-night drinking and dining in Marin County, it’s not so easy to find, especially if you’re seeking quality, and not just some lonely dive bar. That’s probably one of the reasons that Marin Brewing Company, serving the community since 1989, won Best Brew Pub. Let’s start with the brew. This award-winning microbrewery offers a huge selection of specialty beer and ale, like White Knuckle Eldridge Grade Double IPA, Stinson Beach Peach, Witty Monk, Tiburon Blonde and seasonal specialties like Hoppy Holidaze. And for those with late-night munchies, Marin Brew Co. serves a full menu, seven days a week—until midnight! A huge selection of burgers, pizzas, soups, salads, sandwiches and more are available, while high ceilings and lots of windows give the lively large room an open and airy feeling. On warm nights, you can enjoy outdoor dining before jumping on the nearby ferry to San Francisco.—L.O.

1809 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur; 415.461.4677.

Beachy Keen

First let us dispense with the bread. The Parkside Cafe’s loaves are legion around the North Bay, and we’re partial to the garden basil pesto half-loaf on the menu, which runs five bucks. The view is fairly spectacular, to put it mildly, at Marin’s Best Beach Restaurant, as you look off into the great Pacific Ocean, marvel at the cool breezes and sandy Stinson Beach and load up on local cod tacos, the potato gnocchi or the BBQ king salmon. We’re also partial to the Bolinas dungeness crab cake—and the dungeness crab and rock shrimp risotto is a stirring encounter with richness and parmesan.—T.G.

43 Arenal Ave., Stinson Beach; 415.868.1272.

Treat Yourself

When you decide to treat yourself to brunch, you might as well go for the best. And you can’t beat homemade food at reasonable prices. Family owned and operated since 1986, the Half Day Cafe fits all of the above, so it’s no surprise that voters picked it this year for Best Brunch. A lovely and inviting place for a meal, Half Day has a wall of windows looking out into a small courtyard where you can also dine. The food is heavenly. Brunch options include all kinds of eggs—scrambles, Benedicts, Huevos Rancheros, and original griddle treats like Raspberry-Whole Wheat Pancakes, Brioche French Toast and fluffy Belgian Waffles, a Half Day Parfait, with yogurt, fruit and granola and much more. The bakery offers a yummy selection of treats like orange currant scones and cinnamon buns, and you can wash everything down with your favorite espresso drink. Half Day serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week, and brunch on the weekend. And, per the name, this very popular place closes every day at 2:30pm—so plan accordingly.—L.O.

848 College Ave., Kentfield; 415.459.0291.

Sip Supreme

With a chic and cozy space sporting comfortable tables and chairs, and an attractive designer-looking bar, INCAVO Wine Tasting & Collective—which opened in San Rafael last year (there’s also one in Petaluma)—got the nod this year for Best Wine Bar. An array of wine can be ordered by the glass, in a flight or by the bottle, along with a small menu of tasty treats. You can even join INCAVO’s wine club; different levels have different perks. And while you’re relaxing and enjoying some fruits of the vine, live music on select nights adds a nice touch—you can check an online event calendar for the schedule. And if you’re looking for a cozy space for a private party, INCAVO rents out space for events, including baby showers, birthday parties and private dinners.—L.O.

1099 Fourth St., Suite F, San Rafael; 415.259.4939.

The full list of Best of Marin 2017 Food & Drink winners:

Best Bakery/Cafe
Rustic Bakery

Best Bar
2am Club
380 Miller Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Bartender
Steven Schaefer, Flatiron
724 B St., San Rafael.

Best BBQ
Pig in a Pickle
341 Corte Madera Town Center, Corte Madera.

Best Beach Restaurant
The Parkside Cafe
43 Arenal Ave., Stinson Beach.

Best Breakfast
335 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo.

Best Brew Pub
Marin Brewing Company
1809 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur.

Best Brunch
Half Day Cafe
848 College Ave., Kentfield.

Best Burger
Phyllis’ Giant Burgers
8 E. Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley.
2202 Fourth St., San Rafael.
924 Diablo Blvd., Novato.

Best Burrito
High Tech Burrito
914-A Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo.
484 Las Gallinas Rd., San Rafael.
118 Strawberry Village, Mill Valley.

Best Business Lunch
Buckeye Roadhouse
15 Shoreline Hwy., Sausalito.

Best Butcher Shop
Belcampo Meat Co.

Best Cafe/Coffeehouse
Marin Coffee Roasters
1551 S. Novato Blvd., Novato.
466 Ignacio Blvd., Novato.
546 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo.

Best Caterer
Stacy Scott Caterers

Best Cheese Shop
Cowgirl Creamery
80 Fourth St., Point Reyes Station.

Best Chef
David Haydon, Il Davide
901 A St., San Rafael.

Best Chinese
Jennie Low’s
120 Vintage Way, Novato.

Best Chocolatier
Pick Me Up Chocolate
707 Bridgeway, Sausalito.

Best Cocktails
2233 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur.

Best Craft Brew Event
Fairfax Brewfest

Best CSA
Table Top Farm

Best Deli
Perry’s Delicatessen
909 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael.

Best Diner
Dipsea Cafe
200 Shoreline Hwy., Mill Valley.

Best Dining After 10pm
Sol Food
901 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael.
401 Miller Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Dive Bar
Silver Peso
450 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur.

Best Farmers’ Market
Marin Farmers’ Market
3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael.

Best Food Truck
Johnny Doughnuts
1617 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best French
Left Bank Brasserie
507 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur.

Best Frozen Yogurt
916 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo.

Best Happy Hour
Servino Ristorante
9 Main St., Tiburon.

Best Ice Cream
Woody’s Yogurt Place
802 Strawberry Village, Mill Valley.

Best Indian
Lotus Cuisine of India
704 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Italian
Il Davide
901 A St., San Rafael.

Best Japanese/Sushi
Sushi Gourmet
215 Strawberry Village, Mill Valley.

Best Latin American
Sol Food
901 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael.
401 Miller Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Mediterranean
120 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo.

Best Mexican
Saylor’s Restaurant and Bar
2009 Bridgeway, Sausalito.

Best Microbrew
Iron Springs Pub & Brewery
765 Center Blvd., Fairfax.

Best Natural/Sustainable Restaurant
Cafe del Soul
247 Shoreline Hwy., Mill Valley.
1408 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best New Restaurant
Más Masa
31 Bolinas Road, Fairfax.

Best Outdoor Dining
Sam’s Anchor Cafe
27 Main St., Tiburon.

Best Pizza
Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria
1242 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Place for Oysters
The Marshall Store
19225 State Route 1, Marshall.

Best Restaurant
El Paseo
17 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Restaurant with a View
Hilltop 1892
850 Lamont Ave., Novato.

Best Sandwich Shop
Michael’s Sourdough
999 Andersen Drive, San Rafael.
42 Digital Drive, Novato.

Best Seafood
350 Harbor Drive, Sausalito.

Best Server
Debbie Walker, Poggio Trattoria
777 Bridgeway, Sausalito.

Best Sommelier
Erick Hendricks, Hilltop 1892
850 Lamont Ave., Novato.

Best Sports Bar
724 B St., San Rafael.

Best Spot to Dine Solo
Marin Joe’s
1585 Casa Buena Drive, Corte Madera.

Best Thai
Royal Thai
610 Third St., San Rafael.

Best Vegetarian
Cafe del Soul
1408 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Vietnamese
Pho Viet
555 E. Francisco Blvd., Ste. 22, San Rafael.

Best Waterfront Restaurant
The Spinnaker
100 Spinnaker Drive, Sausalito.

Best Wine
Kendric Vineyards
48 Tamalpais Ave., San Anselmo.

Best Wine Bar
INCAVO Wine Tasting & Collective
1099 Fourth St., Ste. F, San Rafael.

Best Wine List
Hilltop 1892
850 Lamont Ave., Novato.

Best Wine Tasting Room
Trek Winery
1026 Machin Ave., Novato.

Best Winery Event
Tiburon Wine Festival

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There are so many fun, cultural things to do on any given day in Marin that it’s hard to know exactly what to say “yes” to when your friends invite you to join them. You could catch a film that goes on to win an Oscar, hear an author speak about his or her latest book, check out what artists have been up to when they display their work in a park or hear Phil Lesh play a set at sunset. In the arts and culture realm, Marin is teeming with energy and creativity. We are spoiled. Very, very spoiled.—M.O.


New York Times-bestselling author Anne Lamott is a writer of contradictions. For instance, her nonfiction works—including essays and memoirs—are deeply personal, though they are universally relatable. Another case in point, her honest and wondrous writing is biting in its humor, though Lamott largely aims the sights on herself, injecting self-deprecating laughs in her stories of struggles and triumphs.

And in keeping with her trademark turnabouts, Marin’s Best Author went high when society went low last year. Lamott’s new book, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, is a breath of fresh literary air. With a caring and understanding tone, Lamott takes on the overwhelming negativity in today’s political and international culture head-on, and gets hands-on in finding humor and hope in between the headlines. Known across the country as “the people’s author,” she is also a sought-after writing instructor whose workshop sessions always sell out instantly. Lamott is a longtime staple of Marin, and she matches her words with action, supporting women’s rights, gay rights and environmental causes.


Hell Yeah

On a national scale, music critics and country rock aficionados still consider Danny Click & the Hell Yeahs! to be an under-the-radar sensation. Locally, Marin’s Best Band is pinging on all of the radars, with praise coming from fans and peers alike. The tall drink of water with a striking mane of snow-white hair past his shoulders and a sly, ever-present grin on his face is rarely seen without a guitar in tow, rocking festivals and performing intimate sets throughout Northern California since moving here from Austin, Texas, more than a decade ago.

Whether he’s supporting international acts like Australia’s Kasey Chambers or headlining Marin’s top venues, Click and his band make the most of their stage time with a joyful exuberance and celebratory atmosphere. On record, Click’s acclaimed releases under his own name have each spent weeks on Americana charts. His latest album, 2015’s Holding Up the Sun, is his most wide-reaching album yet, full of lush melodies and searing guitar work.


Gala That Gets It

Outdoor dining may have an Italian name, alfresco, but it was made for Marin. Aside from the region’s bounty of agricultural acreage and diverse culinary destinations, it’s also a perfect spot to take your lunch baskets and dinner plates outside and enjoy your meal among the elements.

Founded four years ago, Marin Alfresco is a gala that gets it. Hosted by the Osher Marin JCC, Marin’s Best Charity Event sits under the umbrella of the sky and boasts the Bay Area’s best chefs and wineries coming together in the great outdoors for a fresh and scrumptious dining experience among the stars to benefit scholarship programs at the JCC.

Taking advantage of an expansive campus setting, Marin Alfresco often begins in the Plaza J courtyard, where live bands set the mood and tastings excite the appetite. From there, a meal in a field pairs with silent auction action and lively dance music.

Normally, Marin Alfresco takes place at the end of May, though perhaps due to this year’s record-setting wet season, 2017’s incarnation is currently set for next October. The good news is that there is plenty of time to get your finances in order. Keep your eyes peeled for tickets to the always sold-out extravaganza.

Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael; 415.444.8000.

Dance, Dance, Dance

In the immortal words of Gloria Estefan, “Get on your feet, get up and make it happen,” at Love2Dance. Located in Novato, Marin’s Best Dance Studio is the place to go for an encouraging atmosphere where you can move to the rhythm with positive, affirming instructors and all-skill level classes for all ages.

Have a toddler who loves to tango? Love2Dance hosts Little Feet courses that let children ages 2-5 explore their world with movement and creativity. For school-age children and adults, Love2Dance breaks down the class schedule by genre, with hip-hop, jazz, tap, ballet and musical theater categories, among others. Once you’ve got the moves down, you can become a part of the show, as Love2 Dance holds two showcase performances each year at the Marin Center. The studio’s upcoming performances include “Paint the Stage” with Little Feet dancers delighting onstage on May 21, and “Color the World with Dance,” featuring participants in a globe-spanning repertoire of works on May 28.

Love2Dance also offers special master classes from professionals in the world of Broadway and Hollywood, and the studio even sponsors trips to Disneyland. What’s not to love about that?

830 Sweetser Ave., Ste. A, Novato; 415.898.3933.

Support Team

There are a ton of extremely talented music makers in Marin, as evidenced by the venues pumping out live tunes every day of the week, and the array of festivals that dot the calendar and landscape throughout the year. But, what’s less obvious is the army of engineers and production providers who make the music heard. One such audio entrepreneur is Renegade Productions, run out of San Rafael by audiophile Jake Hammerslag.

Often accomplishing behind-the-scenes magic, Marin’s Best Production is a team of dedicated professionals. Renegade Productions provides rehearsal space and studios for local bands along Hwy 101 (where noise complaints are few and far between), though the production company also takes the show on the road and offers a lifetime of experience and expertise as event coordinators. With a warehouse packed with the best gear in the business, Renegade can power a PA for your party or assemble a stage for your soiree. Get Jake on the phone for more information about what Renegade can do for you.

101 Joseph Ct., San Rafael; 415.250.3617.

Iconic Style

This isn’t the first time that we’ve sung the praises of Tom Killion. In fact, we’ve long fawned over Marin’s Best Visual Artist,  known for his spectacular woodblock prints depicting North Bay coastlines in vivid color and detail. As recently as 2015, when his collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder, California’s Wild Edge: The Coast in Prints, Poetry and History, was released by HeyDay books, we’ve compared Killion to Picasso and Banksy for his iconic and instantly recognizable style.

And with each new breathtaking print, the artist continues to wow us with his imaginative landscapes. The 2017 Marin Cultural Treasure Award winner is currently wrapping up a solo show of his most well-regarded prints of Marin County locations at the Bartolini Gallery in Marin Center’s Exhibit Hall, closing on April 28. The next best chance to see Killion’s work is at his home studio during the Point Reyes Memorial Day Weekend Open Studios event May 27-29. Visitors can purchase Killion’s prints, books, posters and more, while viewing rare and out-of-print pieces and getting a glimpse of the artist’s printmaking process.


Charlie Swanson

The full list of Best of Marin 2017 Arts & Culture winners:

Best Art Festival
Sausalito Art Festival

Best Art Gallery
Art Works Downtown
1337 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Author
Anne Lamott

Best Ballet Company
Marin Ballet
100 Elm St., San Rafael.

Best Band
Danny Click & the Hell Yeahs!

Best Charity Event
Marin Alfresco
Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael.

Best Curator
Donna Seager and Suzanne Gray, Seager Gray Gallery
108 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Dance Studio
830 Sweetser Ave., Ste. A, Novato.

Best Festival
Fairfax Festival

Best Film Festival
Mill Valley Film Festival

Best Filmmaker
George Lucas

Best Media Personality: TV, Radio & Print
Rick Clark, KWMR FM 90.5 Pt. Reyes, 89.9 Bolinas, 92.3 The Valley Point Reyes Station

Best Movie Theater
Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center
1118 Fourth St., San Rafael

Best Museum
Marin Museum of Contemporary Art
500 Palm Drive, Novato.

Best Music Festival
Fairfax Festival

Best Music Venue
Sweetwater Music Hall
19 Corte Madera Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Outdoor Art Event
Sausalito Art Festival

Best Outdoor Music Festival
Fairfax Festival

Best Outdoor Music Venue
Rancho Nicasio Bar & Restaurant
1 Old Rancheria Road, Nicasio.

Best Performing Artist
Phil Lesh

Best Performing Arts Center
Marin Center
10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael.

Best Performing Dance Company
830 Sweetser Ave., Ste. A, Novato.

Best Place to Dance
Rancho Nicasio Bar & Restaurant
1 Old Rancheria Road, Nicasio.

Best Production
Renegade Productions
101 Joseph Court, San Rafael.

Best Theater Company
Marin Theatre Company

Best Visual Artist
Tom Killion

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Marin County is not a bad place to raise a kid or have a pet. Multiple destinations to bring children to keep them happy—museums that will teach them about science, parks that will thrill them and restaurants where they won’t get the evil eye for laughing—make for low-stress, happy outings. And with Marin animal-loving professionals who will spoil your pets like they’re getting them camera-ready for a Hollywood film, or playing with them until they’re dizzy with excitement while you’re sipping a tropical cocktail in Costa Rica, your furry friends are in good hands.—M.O.

Forever Young

You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy Five Little Monkeys toy and gift store. In fact, playing with toys, especially puppets, keeps the laughs coming and can be great “therapy” for adult couples. Voted this year’s Best Baby Gift Store, Five Little Monkeys offers an array of treasures for kids of all ages. Who could resist a toy named the Elephant Sshlumpie Deluxe Blankie Friend, or Sophie la girafe So’Pure Teether Ring (made of 100 percent natural rubber)? Best of all, owner Stephanie Sala (the daughter of a renowned toy designer), is committed to offering unique, quality toys that are not only fun to play with, but safe, planet-friendly, educational and spark imagination and creativity. Three Bay Area locations, including one in Novato, offer special events like Rainy Day Crafternoons, Create It! Make it! Take it! Summer Activity Classes and Neighborhood Toy Store Days. Family-friendly and community-minded, the stores donate their wares to local schools and nonprofits, and sponsor youth sports teams and events.

852 Grant Ave., Novato; 415.898.4411.

This Place Rules

Is your dog talking back to you? Staying out too late? Hanging with the wrong crowd? No worries! Just head over to the Marin Humane Society (MHS), voted this year’s Best Dog Obedience School, and enroll in a dog training class or workshop—designed to help you and your pooch have strong bonding experiences. Classes address common behavior problems like looking to pee in all the wrong places, and jumping up on people. Dogs with deeper “issues” can get help in private sessions. Staffed by devoted animal-lovers, the small classes—beginning to advanced—include Puppy Social Scene, Family Dog, Trail Manners, Share a Book with your Dog, Agility Instruction and Senior Handling. On top of that, MHS offers dog workshops with names like Crate Training, Odor Recognition and Tricks.

171 Bel Marin Keys Blvd., Novato; 415.883.4621.

Smarty Pants

Whether you’re interested in brushing up on your Shakespeare, learning how to fix your hot rod or getting up to speed on the computer, College of Marin, voted this year’s Best College, is where you should be headed. With two campuses—in Kentfield and Novato’s Indian Valley—the college offers a fully accredited associate’s degree, certificate programs and community education. So you can go for the whole banana, or just take a class or two. Tuition is reasonable, and the wide variety of classes—from astronomy, to music, to physics, to political science—gives everyone the opportunity to stretch their brain muscles—or find a new career.

835 College Ave., Kentfield; 1800 Ignacio Blvd., Novato; 415.457.8811.

Plush Puppy

It’s your dog’s birthday. You need a present, fast. What to do? Head to San Anselmo’s Dogville, voted Best Pet Boutique. Fido will certainly love a designer collar or leash. Fifi will be overjoyed with a Cotton Crochet Cupcake Toy. And for those discerning foodie pets (cats included, too), how about Daisy’s Delights Bacon Beef Daisy Burgers or BowWowScotti Peanut Butter? And don’t forget about grooming. Organic Oscar Lavender Puppy Shampoo will surely put your beloved pet in a state of relaxed bliss. Leashes are available in styles ranging from Turks & Caicos Glam, to North Beach Blue Collar to Marin Pink Owl Collar—très chic! And one must keep up appearances with Poopsies Biodegradable designer doggie poop pick-up bags.

554 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo; 415.454.2090.

Game On

They say that “idle hands are the devil’s playground,” so if you have time on your hands, games on your mind and don’t want to play life-or-death chess with the devil, pay a visit to Gamescape North in San Rafael, and find out why it was voted Marin’s Best Hobby Shop. Whether you’re in the mood for the quest-based Lord of the Rings Living Card Game or Scrabble, this place has it all. On top of a huge inventory of both interactive and solo games, onsite seminars, events, parties and tournaments are offered. You can even bring your own snacks and drinks! The knowledgeable and friendly staff will help you find just the right game to delight your inner child.

1225 Fourth St., San Rafael; 415.457.8698.

School’s Out

Summer is almost upon us, and the kids will be more than ready for a break from school. But you don’t want them just moping around the house or spending all of their time playing video games. So it’s time to find a fun and interesting camp—and that’s where the Osher Marin JCC comes in. Offering multiple camps throughout the entire year for kids of all ages, Marin’s Best Children’s Camp has something for everyone. For toddlers, there’s Jymbabies, plus a summer preschool program. For children in grades three and four, there are two-week traditional programs that include an overnight experience and art, music and dance programs. For ninth and 10th graders, there’s a four-week counselors-in-training program. There are also one-week specialty camps for all ages, like Into the Wild, Baking Buddies, Junior Chefs, Ninja Warrior and How to be a Mad Scientist. And the best part is the beautiful 11-acre campus that includes swimming pools, a gym, playgrounds, an art studio and much more.

200 N. San Pedro Rd., San Rafael; 415.444.8000.

Vaycay for Pets

You’re going on vacation. Yay! But—oh no—what do you do with Rover? Pampered constantly at home, he has his standards. Well fret no more, because there’s a place to take him that will treat him just like he’s on vacation, too: Canine & Company. Owner Chris says that he takes great pride in offering “a state-of-the-art facility while preserving a warm, welcoming feeling.” Your pooch can commune with others in a large indoor play area with natural sunlight, music and toys, and there’s even a room dedicated to small dogs. Marin’s Best Pet Day Care also offers supervised playgroups and a modern bathing station with all-natural bathing products. They’ll even customize your dog’s feeding schedule to match the one you have at home. Complimentary self-serve espresso, coffee and tea are available—a real pleasure for Marin canines who like to kick back with a good book. But then again, maybe that’s for the owners.

2060 Fourth St., San Rafael; 415.858.4567.

—Lily O’Brien

The full list of Best of Marin 2017 Family winners:

Best Animal Adoption Center
Marin Humane Society
171 Bel Marin Keys Blvd., Novato.

Best Animal Hospital
San Rafael Animal Hospital
419 Irwin St., San Rafael.

Best Baby Gift Store
Five Little Monkeys
852 Grant Ave., Novato.

Best Child Care Center
Miss Sandie’s School
2001 Center Road, Novato.

Best Child-Friendly Restaurant
Finnegan’s Marin
877 Grant Ave., Novato.

Best Children’s Camp
Osher Marin JCC
200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael.

Best Children’s Clothing Store
Cha Cha Cha
589 Bridgeway, #B, Sausalito.

Best Children’s Consignment Store
1417 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Children’s Educational Center
Bay Area Discovery Museum
Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito.

Best Children’s Indoor Sports Center
Novato Gymnastics
950 Seventh St., Novato.

Best Children’s Museum
Bay Area Discovery Museum
Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito.

Best College
College of Marin
835 College Ave., Kentfield.

Best Dog Obedience School
Marin Humane Society
171 Bel Marin Keys Blvd., Novato.

Best Dog Park
Red Hill Dog Park
100 Shaw Drive, San Anselmo.

Best Hobby Shop
Gamescape North
1225 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Kennel
Canine & Company
2060 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Pet Boutique
554 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo.

Best Pet Day Care
Canine & Company
2060 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Pet Groomer
Doggie Styles
401 Miller Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Pet/Feed Store
Pet Club
508 Tamalpais Drive, Corte Madera.

Best Place for a Children’s Party
830 Sweetser Ave., Ste. A, Novato.

Best Preschool
Miss Sandie’s School
2001 Center Road, Novato.

Best Private School K-12
Marin Montessori
5200 Paradise Drive, Corte Madera.

Best Public School K-12
Redwood High School
395 Doherty Dr., Larkspur.

Best Toy Store
Five Little Monkeys
852 Grant Ave., Novato.

Best Veterinary Services
The Country Vet
511 Atherton Ave., Novato.

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Illustration by Trevor Alixopulos.

By Tom Gogola

Donald Trump has been in office nearly 100 days and as we reach this grim milestone we tally the ways the popular vote loser has been a disaster for the North Bay and civilization at large.

  1. Fuel-Efficiency Fallout
  • Let’s start right at the kitchen-table issues and—heh? President Obama bails out the auto industry and now the industry gets the back-seat deal from Trump on fuel-efficiency rollbacks? The administration has vowed to eliminate the phased-in standards. California can hold the line, says Gov. Brown, but you can’t stop the guzzlers from crossing the border from Nevada. Can you?
  1. Bank-Fee Freedom
  • The fine print in numerous areas of consumer concern got a lot less mean under Obama, under rules instituted by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), both of which Trump has vowed to repeal and eliminate. For the time being, enjoy the absence of $35 overdraft fees when you go 35 cents into the red on your checking account.
  1. Car-Loan Reforms
  • The CFPB leveraged a North Bay lawsuit that paid out to thousands of car buyers who’d been subjected to discrimination at the dealership. Trump has vowed to kill the CFPB, so there goes another great reform. The good news is that pro-CFPB agitation is well-represented by organizations like the California Reinvestment Coalition and the North Bay Fair Housing Coalition.
  1. Emergent Farmworker Shortage
  • Who is going to work when Immigration and Customs Enforcement is in the field checking papers among the grapes?
  1. Offshore Drilling
  • Trump has pledged a renewed push for offshore drilling and a streamlined regulatory and review process, but all bets are off when Trump’s secretary of state is an Exxon diplomat whom you’re not even allowed to look at.
  1. Dams and Drought
  • State Republicans called for more drought-beating dams in the dry season—which means more concrete, more gravel mining and more dust for anyone who agrees that this is the way to go as far as infrastructure boondoggles are concerned. Not to mention that dams are no good for salmon.
  1. Planned Parenthood Putsch
  • Access to reproductive care is threatened by Trump’s call to defund Planned Parenthood, a move that would be especially harmful to low-income women who depend on the services. The good news: Public support for Planned Parenthood has never been higher.
  1. Disconnect Decrees
  • The U.S. Department of Justice under President Obama sought and obtained binding consent decrees (legal agreements) in various local police departments and jails to bring them into compliance with the Constitution. Attorney General Jeff Sessions: We’re not doing that anymore.
  1. Civil Rights Investigations
  • The FBI swooped into Santa Rosa when Andy Lopez was killed by a Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputy and eventually exonerated the officer of federal civil rights violations. Sessions and the Civil Rights Division of the Attorney General’s Office: We’ll take a pass.
  1. Militarization of Police
  • Trump has proposed a $753 quintillion defense budget to make “America Great Again” (that’s an exaggeration, but no coin shall be left unspent in the search for the USS Carl Vinson!). The older military hardware trickles down to half-failed states and any needful locality with a Black Lives Matters “problem” or otherwise. Locally, Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties can each field an armored personnel carrier and multiple military-issue firearms (Sonoma and Marin share one).
  1. California McCarthyism
  • The rugged hard-right California congressional delegation has been among the worst of the Trump throne-sniffers. Downstate, Kevin McCarthy urges a federal-fund shutdown for a high-speed rail, which can’t be good for anyone who loves trains.
  1. Infrastructure Buyoffs
  • The promised trillion-dollar boondoggle will have devilish details to sort out locally, and democratically, as the corporate-industrial juggernaut meets with the business-class POTUS and the actual need on the ground in Sonoma and elsewhere. It could get awkward.
  1. ICE Meltdowns
  • New anti-immigration edicts from the administration have taken hold as California sheriffs react with varying degrees of participation, as Dreamers have nightmares about Jeff Sessions with a Gitmo switchblade. The good news is that on the whole, the respective sheriffs of Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties lie on the more reasonable side of the “We’re not ICE agents” question.
  1. Roads to Ruin
  • Trump’s roadbuilding plan eliminates the federal Department of Transportation with its $500 million budget. OK, dude. A Petaluma pothole has meanwhile taken its latest victim. The good news: It was a gas-guzzler.
  1. Endangered Species Act I
  • Trump’s not going to let a few squirrely butterflies intrude on his business plan, as his minions push him to blow off the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) wherever and whenever possible. The wolves can move to Canada or face execution if they don’t like it. The good news: First Nation wolf packs are allowed under California law.
  1. Endangered Species Act II
  • Trump-emboldened California Republican Congressman Tom McClintock wants to “reform” the act to allow for logging of previously off-limits forests—to end the apocalyptic fires that have plagued the state. It therefore holds that if you support salamanders, you hate first responders. Nice try.
  1. Endangered Species Act III
  • The good news is that Trump has yet to send his sons to kill the last American buffalo—and CESA is a rugged and court-challenged law that has saved numerous California beasts from extinction.
  1. Medical Cannabis Criminalized
  • Expect a Sessions-driven spike in incentive for raids at dispensaries seeing an uptick in business as a recreational crackdown sends users to the canna-doc. It’s also true that while Sessions’ views on medical cannabis are not especially enlightened, it’s never too late for a CBD rubdown to shake a man to his soul.
  1. Elder Abuse
  • The elders of West Marin, Sebastopol, San Rafael and other havens of spiritual decency are in for some real pain on numerous fronts—any room for Alzheimer’s research at the savagely gutted National Institutes of Health under Trump’s budget? Nope.
  1. Homeless Veteran Surge
  • It’s axiomatic that if the administration withholds the number of American troops it is sending into harm’s way, then their disappearance into a USS Vinsonland of “miscommunicated” priorities about care for wounded warriors will ensue upon their return.
  1. Economics of Resistance
  • Trump’s election has created a surge in donations and interest in liberal and progressive groups as he’s pledged to hack away at federal grants that enhance community programs. Can the donations keep pace with the promised cuts? Yes, but we may have to go Doctor Zhivago on Mark Zuckerberg’s San Francisco estate.
  1. Carbon Cut to Coal Crudity
  • Ever get the feeling that this whole coal thing is just so Trump can stand around with a bunch of white guys in blackface and not get called out for it? And even if he did get called out for it . . .
  1. Open Encouragement of Disaster Capitalism
  • Trump has called for a $500 million cut in FEMA’s pre-pre-preparedness budget, which generally goes for stuff like fires, earthquakes or floods—and those signs that tell you where to go if there’s a tsunami.
  1. Section—Wait?
  • Marin County has a great program where they encourage landlords (or potential ones) to take a Section 8 voucher and rent below market, in exchange for a kick-in from the county to make up the diff. HUD secretary Ben Carson thinks Section 8 is the devil’s work.
  1. Prisoner Program Putsch
  • That San Quentin is one of the least violent prisons in the state is a direct reflection of its unusually high level of anti-recidivism programs, run mainly by citizens and groups from around the Bay Area. Obama put a priority on grants targeted at education and skills-training programs—a priority that is, alas, not shared by the new administration.
  1. Let’s Try That Thing Where We Lock up All the Young Black Boys Again and Hope No One Notices
  • A “crackdown on crime” threatens any progress Obama and Black Lives Matter have made when it comes to multiple lost generations of young black boys to the prison system.
  1. Hedge-Fund Mental-Health Prison Blues
  • The American prison industry can expect a surge in new business, and with it, a surge in profit to a cadre of select vulture capitalist entities that stand to profit mightily on others’ weakness, illness and pathos.
  1. Encouraging Aggression Through Bully-Tactic Normalization
  • The insidious normalization of the insane equals a possible road-rage meltdown on the commute if you dwell on it too long. The good news: There are other radio stations, and some of them rock.
  1. Tourism Industry Cooked
  • Numerous reports have rolled in that the U.S. Trump tourism slump is a real, ongoing deal, and did you know—seriously!—that Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties rely heavily on tourism to keep their economies humming along? The good news is maybe people can afford to live around here again.
  1. Brain Drain on Specialized Medical Services
  • Trump’s new guidance on H1B1 visas means fewer high-degree specialists from faraway lands will be on call to replace that balky heart valve.
  1. National Public Radio Silence
  • These threats come along every once in a while, but this time they mean it!
  1. Symphony of Sorrowful Cuts
  • Break out the violins. Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties’ respective symphonies each rely on federal arts grants in their annual budgets.
  1. Museum of Museums
  • “Hey, remember museums? Well, we’ve got a museum full of them. See, after Me and the Freedom Caucus heroically cut all the funding for arts and culture, we’re down to one museum, but it’s a big one, folks—a museum of museums! That’ll be $125, double for the kids. I don’t really like kids.”
  1. School Arts Programs
  • “You know, while we’re at it—why are we encouraging this art stuff in school anyway?” Trump’s budget cuts federal funds devoted to school arts programs utilized in districts throughout the North Bay, for less advantaged and other kids who could use a hand.
  1. Meals in Wheelbarrows
  • Elders comprise a significant and growing percentage of Sonoma and Marin counties, and the homebound rely on Meals on Wheels programs that Trump has vowed to cut because they’re inefficient and haven’t been adequately means-tested. Or was that mean-tested?
  1. Librarians Are Cool
  • Ivanka said great things about libraries the other day and was tweet-shamed by librarians who pointed out dad’s disdain for federal funds to support them. Sort of puts a new perspective on the critical role that local library tax-votes play.
  1. The Numbing, Dumbing Lies . . .
  • . . . that never seem to catch up with Trump, but they have caught up to, and warped, reality—a scary lurch toward a mandate of might makes right, emboldening morons where few right-wing loons have dared to tread before (such as on our Facebook comments section).
  1. Nazi Punks . . .
  • Witness the rise of a new California White Nationalist right that expresses its patriotism by flying a Confederate Flag at the July 4 Parade in Petaluma—and that was before he was elected.
  1. Existential Pressures Are Mounting
  2. California is home to the nation’s Strategic Air Command. 2. The hothead president. 3. A four-pack of jets just zoomed over my Bolinas fringe-pad . . .
  3. Recreational Blowback
  • Say what you will about Big Cannabis in California, but if it goes, it all goes—and with it, all the investment and opportunity to expand an economy without fracking your state to death.
  1. Cannabis and Cartel
  • A cannabis crackdown means a vibrant black market, more cartel violence and a further militarization of police in neighborhoods that for the most part don’t need it.
  1. Five Dollars a Gallon Just in Time for the Fourth
  • And California will be blamed for “leading the pack.” The good news: Gas is already $5 a gallon in Bolinas, but they use the money for affordable housing in town.
  1. Jared Kushner in a Flak Jacket Over His Suit Jacket
  • Very troubling.
  1. Me Tarzan, You Payin’
  • The administration promises more domestic oil production, which means even more tar sands coming down the rail into the Bay Area.
  1. Monomaniacal Pursuit of Popular-Vote Victory
  • Trump said he could have won California, and is hellbent on winning the state in 2020 led by a pack of rabid California advisers who hate-love their home state so much they want to destroy it before the rest of the country gets wind that things actually work pretty well here if you let them.
  1. Paris Accord Is Burning
  • California can lead the way all it wants on carbon emissions, and will continue to do so as the high-sheen president demands a queen’s carriage and withdrawal from the multilateral accord. Sonoma Clean Power, Marin Clean Energy—they’ll continue to crank out the geo-thermalized truth of the matter. Plus PG&E is discounting seniors and pot growers, so how bad can things be, really?
  1. Crock of the Bay
  • Trump’s budget eliminates the entire $500 million EPA contribution to the ongoing San Francisco Bay Restoration project.
  1. ‘Degradation Without Consequence … ’
  • Could apply to the 100-day spectacle to date, but specifically, Trump’s budget eliminates the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. There goes the enforcement arm that makes sure the brown field goes back to green when the polluter is brought to justice.
  1. We Could Get Nuked by North Korea
  2. Day 101
  • One hundred days into this experiment and the vile campaign is now subsumed by the history of cable-internet immediacy, and erased at the next presidential Mother of All Bombast moment. “They’re still talkin’ about my taxes, whuuuh?” The good news is that tomorrow is another day to resist, refuse, write, rock out, write a letter, roll a number, call a loved one, march in the street, prepare the bunker, pick some basil or get ready for court.

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How spoiled are we to have Marin County’s gorgeous landscape at our fingertips for all things related to fun and exercise? Rolling green hills for cycling, pristine beaches for walking and surfing, calm bays for kayaking, trails with epic views for hiking … the list goes on. On top of endless locales for outdoor play, there are impressive gyms, health clubs and yoga studios full of like-minded people who want to get in shape or find a quiet space in which to relax and meditate. And when it comes to finding new equipment for an active lifestyle, this place has it all. High-five to all of you fellow adventurers. Next time we exchange a smile out in nature, you’ll know how grateful I am to be here.—M.O.

Push It

Clip your feet in, tighten up your helmet, and get ready for the ride of your life! The Marin Century (on Saturday, August 15), voted this year’s Best Cycling Event, will test your mettle. Rides ranging from 35 miles, to 135 miles to the super duper Lance Armstrong 200-mile Mt. Tam Double Century will put hair on your chest. Enjoy the scenery on routes that are well supported and include lots of rest stops, with munchies to pump you up, color-coded arrows so you don’t ride off into the sunset, water-resistant color maps and water bottles. Produced by the Marin Cyclists Club, the event is staffed by all volunteers. After a good workout, celebrate at the post-ride feast and expo. Proceeds support local charities and athletic and social causes for youth.



Looking for something a little different to do, right in your own backyard? There’s nothing like being on the water, and kayaking is a lovely way to be in nature while getting a workout. Sea Trek Kayak in Sausalito, voted the Best Outdoor Adventure Tour, has your back. Whether you’ve raged through Class III rapids, or have never been in water outside of your bathtub, Sea Trek will teach you what you need to know. Trip choices include an afternoon on the bay, a paddle around the Golden Gate Bridge, a starlight paddle to dinner, a Full Moon Paddle and even an overnight on Angel Island. And if you want to just get out of town and grab some quiet time, you can go south of the border on a trip to the Sea of Cortez, with options for meditation, yoga and whale watching. For those who don’t like to sit so close to the water, stand-up paddleboard tours and classes are offered, too.

2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito; 415.332.8494.

Get Fit

Your New Year’s resolution to get fit is still on your mind. OK, so you let it go a little longer than you had planned, but you don’t have to do it alone—you can get help—from Michael Krick, voted this year’s Best Personal Trainer. Working out of his Krickfit studio in San Anselmo, Krick will get you on track and make your goals his mission. With a degree in kinesiology and a CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) certificate, (to name just a couple of his creds), Krick likes to work closely with his clients—either one-on-one or in small groups.  He’ll keep you motivated and toned using a variety of exercises, including Pilates, TRX, strengthening and conditioning, cardiovascular training and calisthenics. A trained holistic lifestyle coach, Krick also takes into account nutrition, sleep patterns and stress levels for each client. So whether you want to lose weight, get back in shape or just get into better shape, Krick can help.

245 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo; 415.707.9912.

Hit the Slopes

It’s been a stellar year for rain—and snow! And there’s still time to hit the slopes. A new pair of skis would be so nice. But you hate to spend the money and then find out that you don’t like them. If only you could try them out first. Demo Sport in San Rafael, voted this year’s Best Snow Sport Shop, has you covered with their try-before-you-buy program. Demo Sport sells and rents hundreds of different kinds of equipment, including skis, ski boards, splitboards, boots, poles and more. Other services include custom boot-fitting, binding installment and installation, and ski and snowboard tune-ups. For those of you counting your pennies, your first rental fee can go towards a purchase. And you can look good on the slopes—Demo carries a full line of quality sunglasses and must-have fashion accessories. When the snow finally melts, Demo keeps you in shape with paddleboards, water skis, wake surfers and more; their Tiburon location rounds it out with bikes and in-line skates.

1101 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael; 415.454.3500.

Time to Tone

Pump up your body and get those endorphins singing at Fitness SF, this year’s choice for Best Gym. With classes ranging from spinning, yoga, ZUMBA, Pilates, step aerobics, T’ai Chi Chih and a “killer cardio” Burn Series, Fitness SF allows for mind and body alignment. Membership includes a complimentary FIT session, and personal trainers can help with bodybuilding, powerlifting, losing fat, stretching, TRX, nutrition and more. Small group classes are offered, and if you want to just do your own thing, a state-of-the art fitness floor awaits, and includes an abs and stretching area. Locker rooms, a sauna, a pro shop, Wi-Fi and free parking are all perks.

10 Fifer Ave., Corte Madera; 415.348.6377.

Mental Focus

Have you found yourself up at night, sneaking off to watch Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan movies, secretly wishing that you could be kickboxing in your kitchen or practicing Jiu-Jitsu with your cat? Maybe you think you’re too old, too young or the wrong sex for martial arts—but you’re not! Marin Mixed Martial Arts, (MMMA) voted Marin’s Best Martial Arts School, caters to kids, men and women. Founded in 2006 by professional martial artist and Marin native Mikyo Riggs, MMMA bases its classes on the philosophy that martial arts blends physical strength and agility with practice, discipline and focus. And the benefits are amazing—increased strength and energy, weight loss, greater self-discipline, stress relief and mental focus. Classes include Brazilian Jij-Jitsu, Muay Thai Kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts, along with special martial arts classes for kids. One of the coolest things yet? A dedicated women’s program that not only teaches women self-defense, but provides them with a community of other women to practice with. “What we learn on the mat, we carry into our everyday lives.”—Mikyo Riggs

222 Greenfield Ave., San Anselmo; 415.456.1557.

Sculpted Bodies

Are you ready for the FitFormer? You’ll find this specially designed Pilates reformer machine, for an all-in-one full body workout, exclusively at Pilates ProWorks—probably just one of the reasons why the place was voted Best Pilates Studio this year. Founded in 2009 by husband-and-wife team Oscar Sanin and Taylor Carter, Pilates ProWorks offers classes like Matbox, a combo of kickboxing, mat Pilates and yoga, Barre Pro, based on the principles of ballet barre work and Pilates and Mommy & Me, a class for moms and their babies. And for overly obsessive brides-to-be, the Sweating for My Wedding Bridal Package is available. On top of all of that, ProWorks offers NutritionPro, a weekly, healthy digital meal plan program with every possible option for getting the bod you’ve always dreamed of.

360 Miller Ave., Mill Valley; 415.360.5816.

Lily O’Brien

The full list of Best of Marin 2017 Fitness & Recreation winners:

Best Beach

Stinson Beach

Best Bike Route/Trail
China Camp State Park

Best Bike Shop
Mike’s Bikes

Best Cycling Event
Marin Century

Best Gym
Fitness SF
10 Fifer Ave., Corte Madera.

Best Health Club
Body Kinetics Health Club
1530 Center Road, Novato.
1800 Second St., San Rafael.
639 E. Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Hiking Trail

Best Martial Arts School
Marin Mixed Martial Arts
222 Greenfield Ave., San Anselmo.

Best Outdoor Adventure Tour
Sea Trek Kayak
2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito.

Best Park/Open Space
China Camp State Park

Best Personal Trainer
Michael Krick, KrickFit
245 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo.

Best Pilates Studio
Pilates ProWorks
360 Miller Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Skate Shop
Proof Lab
244 Shoreline Hwy., Mill Valley.

Best Snow Sports Shop
Demo Sport
1101 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael.

Best Surf Shop
Proof Lab
244 Shoreline Hwy., Mill Valley.

Best Tennis Club
Mt. Tam Racquet Club
1 Larkspur Plaza Drive, Larkspur.

Best Yoga Studio
YogaWorks Mill Valley
650 E. Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley.

When it comes to finding art supplies for your latest creative project, a new book that you’ve been dying to read, a bouquet of flowers for a loved one or even new car tires that will ensure a safe trip out to Stinson Beach, Marin is the place for top-tier everyday items. Even if you don’t really need anything, it’s fun to browse at places that make you feel like you’re part of a welcoming, thriving community that appreciates and celebrates everything local and special. So have fun out there, whether you’re checking out jewelry, scoping out a vintage dress for an upcoming party or dreaming about a liberating motorcycle ride up the coast.—M.O.

Casual & Sexy

The ideal boutique is a place that you want to move into immediately upon arrival—and wear nothing but the clothes it offers for the rest of your life. Chances are, you’re already feeling all of the feels about Tumbleweed, Marin’s Best New Retail Business—Opened in 2016. The cute San Anselmo store opened in 2016, and has been a local star ever since. It offers both men’s and women’s clothing, plus a wide array of accessories, aromatic candles, gentle throws and metrosexual grooming products. The style reflects Marin County’s free-spirited-yet-expensive look to the T; brands like Free People, For Love & Lemons, Wildfox and Levi’s mingle together, mixing casual and sexy. Hours can be spent browsing and choosing the right products in a welcoming, unbuttoned atmosphere—and it’s nice to know that most brands are U.S.- and specifically California-based.Flora Tsapovsky

570 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo; 415.747.8118.

Across the Globe

One of Montecito Plaza’s highlights, Jasmine Market, is this year’s winner in the Best Ethnic Market category. The Persian grocery is, as a proper ethnic market should be, full of pleasant surprises—thick yogurt and packaged Middle Eastern spices, European chocolates, dolmas, falafel wraps and anything you can imagine. Given Marin County’s relatively limited variety of authentic ethnic groceries from across the globe, it’s no wonder that this one scored the big prize.F.T.

307 Third St., San Rafael; 415.459.4866.

Say Cheese

Let’s give credit where credit is due. West Marin has long been the land of milk and butter, but it wasn’t until Cowgirl Creamery came along in 1997 to showcase cheese made with Straus Family Creamery milk that the region’s cheese boom took off. One of the most successful cheese businesses to emerge from the new cheese scene was Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, this year’s Best Local Food Product winner. Around 20 years ago, Marshall dairyman Bob Giacomini called his four daughters together to talk about the family business. Milk prices were holding steady, but the cost of production was going up. What else could they do with their milk? Make cheese, of course. But not just any cheese. Blue cheese. At the time, the only other nationally known producer of blue cheese was Maytag Blue. With a herd of their own and Cowgirl’s example to inspire them, the Giacomini sisters banded together to shepherd the family business into a new era—and the rest is cheese history. In addition to their signature Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese, the company makes six other cows’ milk cheese including mozzarella, gouda and toma.—Stett Holbrook


Small-town Charm

You love your town. You think it’s great, rather charming and accommodating. But, alas, there’s a better town in your county, and there’s no avoiding it. You rightfully embraced Larkspur as the Best Town Other Than Your Own, and the reasons are endless—the slightly remote, elevated location. The vintage cinema, and the dazzling boutiques and hair salons are straight out of a magazine. Larkspur embodies that elusive small-town charm that you’ll find in any county of the world, and yet there’s nothing quite like it. Most importantly, its narrow structure and picturesque houses offer a real sense of escape in those moments when your own town just won’t do.—F.T.



Vintage and resale stores can be tricky business. How do you know what’s still trendy and what’s outdated? How do you decide which second-hand item is worth adopting? Knimble Clothing and Knick Knack, winner in the Best Vintage Clothing Store category, makes the customer’s job easy, since its staff has an excellent eye and great taste. In the inviting San Rafael location (there’s another shop in Oakland), you’ll find an eclectic mix of second-hand brands, jewelry and house items that all feel of-the-moment and right. The shoes and bag selection, often displayed on the store’s website, is especially winning.—F.T.

851 Fourth St., San Rafael; 415.454.4009.

From the Earth

We all know that Marin has no shortage of natural, delicious foods that also happen to look pretty. But when it comes to Good Earth Natural Foods, the winner in the Best Natural Foods Store category, it’s a whole different story. First, the drive to Fairfax builds anticipation. Then, goodhearted Fairfax welcomes you with its small taquerias and tye-dye aesthetics. Inside the clean, beautiful and colorful store, some of California’s best brands line the shelves, tempting shoppers with organic hummus, local chocolate and too many kombucha brands to count. And a second location in Mill Valley is the perfect spot for picking up picnic goods on the way to the beach. Not in the right headspace to grocery shop? Three Twins ice cream by the scoop and a delicious salad and hot meal bar are there to please.—F.T.

720 Center Blvd., Fairfax; 415.454.0123; 201 Flamingo Rd., Mill Valley; 415.383.0123.

More Than Words

Where do you go to meet Bernie Sanders, hear a reading by Khaled Hosseini and also grab a bite and a present for your niece? Book Passage, your pick for the Best Bookstore—New category. A local institution and a repeat winner with multiple locations, Book Passage is the utopian example of what a bookstore should be—a center for exchanging ideas, experiential learning and excitement about reading. Workshops vary from writing to languages, and the events are the talk of the town. But even on a regular day, just hanging out at Book Passage, flipping through a magazine or picking up your new favorite book, is a good idea.—F.T.


Find it Here

The art of gifting is a complicated one. Some excel at it and manage to pick out just the right thing, while others drop the ball and constantly suspect that their offerings are being re-gifted (they really are!). Columbine, Marin’s Best Gift Shop, has helped many Marin County residents avoid gift-giving disasters over the years. How? The Corte Madera favorite simply has it all—woven baskets for grandma, designer home goods for the posh friend and candles and soaps for the birthday girl. The best part? You can’t go wrong.—F.T.

101 Corte Madera Town Center, Corte Madera; 415.927.8884.

Edible Flowers

Let’s just put it out there: Cupcake bouquets—realistic, dazzling bouquets made of cupcakes. Baked Blooms, winner of the Best Locally Made Retail Product, is a winner by concept alone—but also because owner Sarah Thongnopneua really knows her job (and that would be to sweeten people’s lives and impress anyone who receives the end product). The cupcakes are not only gorgeous—they’re delicious. Just try giving a colorful bouquet to someone special, and watch their eyes light up.—F.T.


The full list of Best of Marin 2017 Everyday winners:

Best Antique Shop
Laurel House Antiques
30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross.

Best Art Supply Store
Rileystreet Art Supply
1138 Fourth Ave., San Rafael.

Best Auto Body Repair
Blake’s Auto Body
31 Bay St., San Rafael.
861 Vallejo Ave., Novato.

Best Auto Dealer—New
Toyota Marin
445 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael.

Best Auto Dealer—Used
Toyota Marin
445 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael.

Best Auto Detailing
Matt & Jeff’s Car Wash & Detail Center
125 Vintage Way, Novato.

Best Auto Repair
Easy Automotive
747 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael.

Best Body Art Place—Tattoo & Piercing
Spider Murphy’s Tattoo
1006 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael.

Best Bookstore—New
Book Passage

Best Bookstore—Used
Rebound Bookstore
1611 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Business Bank
Bank of Marin

Best Camera/Photography Store
Seawood Photo
1601 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Car Audio
City Car Radio
820 Second St., San Rafael.

Best Chamber of Commerce
San Rafael Chamber of Commerce
817 Mission Ave., San Rafael.

Best Clothing Store—Men’s
Gene Hiller Menswear
729 Bridgeway, Sausalito.

Best Clothing Store—Women’s
Mad Rags Fashions
373 Third St., San Rafael.

Best Consignment Store
Knimble Clothing and Knick Knack
851 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Consumer Bank
Bank of Marin

Best Costume/Festival Apparel Shop
The Belrose
1415 Fifth Ave., San Rafael.

Best Credit Union
Redwood Credit Union

Best Culinary Store
480 Gate Five Road, Ste. 115, Sausalito.

Best Digital Creative Services
Lotus Live Design & Social Media Marketing

Best Eco-Conscious Business
Bellam Self Storage & Boxes
24 Bellam Blvd., San Rafael.

Best Ethnic Market
Jasmine Market
307 Third St., San Rafael.

Best Event Production Services Company
Event Consulting International

Best Fashion Jewelry Store
Marin Jewelers Guild
1331 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Fine Jewelry Store
Johann Paul Jewelers
272 Bon Air Center, Greenbrae.

Best Florist
Bloomers of Larkspur
501 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur.

Best Framing Shop
Frame Crafters Gallery
320 Bon Air Center, Greenbrae.

Best Gift Shop
101 Corte Madera Town Center, Corte Madera.

Best Grocery Store
Mill Valley Market
12 Corte Madera Ave., Mill Valley

Best Grocery Store
Mill Valley Market
12 Corte Madera Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Home Audio
World of Sound
800 Redwood Hwy. Frontage Road, Ste. 218, Mill Valley.

Best Home Furnishings
Sunrise Home
831 B St., San Rafael.

Best Hotel/Resort
Cavallo Point
601 Murray Circle, Sausalito.

Best Hydroponic Supply Store
Marin Hydroponics
55 Frosty Lane, Novato.
721 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael.

Best Judge
Paul Haakenson
Marin County Superior Court.

Best Law Firm
Law Offices of Ackeret Sheron
890 Lamont Ave., Ste. 202, Novato.

Best Lawyer
Law Offices of David Simonini
679 Bridgeway, #2, Sausalito.

Best Local Food Product
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company

Best Locally Made Retail Product
Baked Blooms

Best Motorcycle/Scooter Shop
1121 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael.

Best Musical Instruments Store
The Magic Flute
182 Northgate Drive, San Rafael.

Best Natural Foods Store
Good Earth Natural Foods
720 Center Blvd., Fairfax.
201 Flamingo Rd., Mill Valley.

Best New Retail Business—Opened in 2016
570 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo.

Best Nonprofit
SF Marin Food Bank

Best Optical Store
20/20 Optical
1127 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Phone Repair
Gadget Pro
473 Third St., San Rafael.

Best Pipe Shop
The Mighty Quinn
1099 Fourth St., Ste. G, San Rafael.

Best Psychic
Annie Bachelder
105 Westwood Drive, Novato.

Best Record/CD Store
Red Devil Records
894 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Recycling Center
Marin Sanitary
1050 Andersen Drive, San Rafael.

Best Senior Living Facility
The Redwoods
40 Camino Alto, Mill Valley.

Best Senior Services
930 Tamalpais Ave., San Rafael.

Best Shoe Store
Sole Desire

Best Tire Shop
Cains Tire
1531 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Tow Service
Redhill Towing & Auto Repair
428 Irwin St., San Rafael.

Best Town Other Than Your Own

Best Transportation—Taxi/Limo
Strawberry Limousine
1800 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael.

Best Travel Agency
Redwood Skytours
1204 Fifth Ave., San Rafael.

Best Vape Shop
The Mighty Quinn
1099 Fourth St., Ste. G, San Rafael.

Best Vintage Clothing Store
Knimble Clothing and Knick Knack
851 Fourth St., San Rafael.

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Going to the doctor isn’t always a party. In most cases, a visit to someone in a white coat means that you’re sick or injured, and all you want to do is curl up in a little ball in bed. But having a nasty flu, a broken toe, eyes that need new glasses or a chronic back injury doesn’t have to be a drag in Marin. This year’s winners prove that no matter what ails you, a dedicated health care professional is just around the corner, ready to make you feel better. And once you’re cured, there are plenty of pampering spas that can’t wait to show you your reflection.—M.O.

Time to Indulge

Tucked away in the Strawberry Village Shopping Center, Best Spray Tan winner EVO Spa is also your overall choice for Best Spa—but it’s more than that. Offering everything from herbal facials to infra-red saunas, EVO is a destination for all things indulgent. What makes their spray tan so awesome? Just the fact that it follows a sunless, un-hazardous DHA formula and delivers a sun-kissed, just-back-from-vacation tan, rather than a weird orange glow, a-la Trump. According to the spa, the formula is anti-aging as well, packed with antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients including organic aloe, DHA, vitamins A, C and E, Co-Q10 and Matrixyl 3000. What more could you ask for?

800 Redwood Hwy. Frontage Road, #216, Mill Valley; 415.383.3223.

Way of Life

The moment you walk into Gathering Thyme, this year’s winner in the Best Holistic Herbal Shop slot, you feel the urge to shed all unhealthy habits and embrace a better way of life. The San Rafael institution is always there for our readers when they need organic soap, sulfate-free shampoo or homeopathic medicine, and the array of spices is truly dazzling. With a nutritionist, herbalist, chiropractor and holistic psychotherapist on staff, Gathering Thyme takes holistic medicine very seriously, with classes, workshops and plenty of reading material on hand for those who may be just entering this fascinating world. And if you’re interested in diving deep into the topic, books await (so do delicious snacks and gifts).

1447 Fourth St., Ste. B, San Rafael; 415.524.8693.

Wax Off

Who loves to talk about waxing? That’s right—no one. So let’s just put it out there quietly: La Jolie, a San Rafael salon, is the winner for Best Waxing Studio. While going to the local JCC to get your bikini line in order may sound strange at first, clients can’t seem to get enough of La Jolie’s fast and on-point services, and love to compensate themselves, after an especially fierce waxing experience, with a quickie facial or a sauna. It’s a win-win.

200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael; 415.272.8108.

‘Me Time’

Doing your nails can be an everyday, mundane task, or a dazzling beauty experience—depends on where you go. With Lavande Spa & Boutique, Mill Valley’s leading nail salon, manicures are never dull. Another Strawberry Village hit, Lavande is the winner in the Best Nail Services category, and for a good reason; it always goes the extra mile (or inch) for the clients’ toes. The signature ‘extra’ manicure includes, what else, a lavender soak, and the pedicure includes a lavender aromatherapy bath. In addition to regular treatments, Lavande offers facials, reflexology and other fun add-ons, turning a weekly chore into some pampering ‘me time.’

800 Redwood Hwy., Frontage Road, #803, Mill Valley; 415.388.6699.

Rock Solid

You’re either completely obsessed with Spirit Rock Meditation Center, or know nothing about it—and it seems that the readers who voted it to be the Best Retreat Center belong to the first category. Hidden in the West Marin hills, Spirit Rock is all fields, buddha statues, attractive buildings with lots of natural sunlight and, most importantly, serenity and tranquility that stand out even in Marin County’s relatively peaceful surroundings. On the menu are meditation retreats with sitting and walking meditation, drop-in retreats, online courses and a comprehensive bookstore, plus friendly volunteers and staff. Whether you’re going for the big transformation or just a quick weekend recharge, Spirit Rock has the community’s back. It is, no pun intended, a rock.

5000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Woodacre; 415.488.0164.

Pristine Precision

Facials are all about precision and the little things. Using Dermalogica products and mastering an aura of calm, Aura Beauty Lounge is your worthy pick for the Best Facial in Marin. Pristine and welcoming, the lounge offers free 20-minute consultations and a dazzling array of treatments, all delivered by calm and collected professionals. Clients love Aura’s attention to beauty and cosmetic trends, such as ‘energy-charged’ treatments and touch therapy, as well as its loyalty to returning customers and their needs. At the end of the day, what could be better than checking into an airy, stylish place guaranteed to return the glow to your face? That’s right—nothing.

61 Camino Alto, Ste. 101-B, Mill Valley; 415.384.9857.

Batting Lashes

Larkspur, on its own, is a little haven of esthetic pleasure and Instagram-friendly luxury. The winner in the Best Eyelash Extensions and/or Brow Enhancements category, Gloss Beauty, is no exception, mixing the cutest wallpaper with chandeliers, rich rugs and other swoon-worthy touches. But while the surroundings will make you feel pretty, the eyelash and brow services are unparalleled. You might not even feel that eyelashes and eyebrows are there, but once something goes wrong, your whole face goes south. At Gloss Beauty, in addition to life-changing facials, the estheticians prevent disasters, fix your mistakes and enhance faces with their expertise. And after the perfect lash extensions, it only makes sense to take a selfie with the colorful birds wallpaper.

1127 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur; 415.457.3067.

Against the Grain

Hair salons are often tricky—a cat in a bag, if you will, as so many nuances and circumstances collide in the making of a perfect haircut. In our winner’s case, the name says it all: Altogether Different Hair Design, your pick in the Best Hair Salon category, is indeed a different breed. The personal attention and the openness to walk-ins is second to none at this humble Corte Madera salon, and clients’ favorites Kim and Barbara never do a hack job. What’s even more remarkable is the fact that no matter what you’re after—highlights, a men’s haircut or styling, and more—they do it all with equal zeal and precision. Then, the big dilemma becomes—do you recommend this great place or keep it a secret? The secret is out.

47 Tamal Vista Blvd., Ste. B, Corte Madera; 415.945.8873.

Good Humor

You really must trust someone to lay down on a table, eyes closed and let them cover you with a myriad of tiny needles. In a small and cozy space in downtown San Rafael, the winner of our Best Acupuncturist category, Jennifer Jackson, has clearly earned your trust, and has worked her magic over satisfied clients for a number of years now. Rooted in classical Chinese medicine and influenced by Master Jeffrey Yuen, Jackson treats anything from muscular pain to menstrual cramps, and, according to her clientele, never fails to show compassion and a sense of humor. If you let someone puncture you, they better be funny.

706 D St., Ste. C, San Rafael; 415.686.6077.

Flora Tsapovsky

The full list of Best of Marin 2017 Beauty, Health & Wellness winners:

Best Acupuncturist
Jennifer Jackson
706 D St., Ste. C, San Rafael.

Best Allergist
Schuman Tam, MD
1000 S. Eliseo Drive, Ste. 101, Greenbrae.

Best Beauty Supply Store
Novato Beauty Supply
140 Vintage Way, G11, Novato.

Best Chiropractor
Marilyn Britton, DC
300 Tamal Plaza, Ste. 100, Corte Madera.

Best Dentist
Bruce Davey, DDS
30 Caledonia St., Sausalito.

Best Dermatologist
David Laub, MD
591 Redwood Hwy., Ste. 2210, Mill Valley.

Best Ear, Nose & Throat Physician
Romeo Agbayani Jr., MD
1000 S. Eliseo Drive, Ste. 103, Greenbrae.

Best Endodontist
Darron Rishwain, DDS
1526 Fifth Ave., San Rafael.

Best ER Doctor
Jeffrey Jim Dietz, Marin General Hospital
250 Bon Air Road, Greenbrae.

Best Esthetic Dentist
James A. McDowell, DDS
1447 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Esthetician
La Jolie Marin
200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael.

Best Eyelash Extensions and/or Brow Enhancements
Gloss Beauty
1127 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur.

Best Facial
Aura Beauty Lounge
61 Camino Alto, Ste. 101-B, Mill Valley.

Best Family Practitioner
Curtis F. Robinson, MD
619 E. Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Full-Service Beauty Salon
D&O Salon
800 Redwood Hwy. #220, Mill Valley.

Best General Practice Physician
Barry S. Landfield, MD
900 E. Eliseo Drive, Ste. 202, Greenbrae.

Best Hair Salon
Altogether Different Hair Design
47 Tamal Vista Blvd., Ste. B, Corte Madera.

Best Heart Surgeon
Joel Sklar, MD
2 Bon Air Road, Larkspur.

Best Holistic Health Center
Preventive Medical Center of Marin
4340 Redwood Hwy., Ste. A-22, San Rafael.

Best Holistic Herbal Shop
Gathering Thyme
1447 Fourth St., Ste. B, San Rafael.

Best Holistic Practitioner
Elson Haas, MD
4340 Redwood Hwy., Ste. A-22, San Rafael.

Best Hospital/Health Care Clinic
Kaiser Permanente

Best Internal Medicine Physician
Sajot S. Grewal, MD
23 Reed Blvd., Ste. 120, Mill Valley.

Best Laser Surgery Center
The Laser Center of Marin
770 Tamalpais Drive, Ste. 301, Corte Madera.

Best Lasik Eye Surgery
Marin Eyes
165 Rowland Way, #207, Novato.

Best Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Kathy Jarosz, LCSW

Best Marriage and Family Therapist
Benjamin Russack, MFT

Best Massage Services
Mill Valley Massage
61 Camino Alto, Ste. 102, Mill Valley.
1007 C St., San Rafael.

Best Midwife
Joan Green, Heart Wisdom Midwifery

Best Nail Services
Lavande Spa & Boutique
800 Redwood Hwy. Frontage Road, #803, Mill Valley.

Sally Boero, MD
100 Drakes Landing Road, #225, Greenbrae.

Best Oncologist
Dr. Bobbie Head
1350 S. Eliseo Drive, #200, Greenbrae.

Best Ophthalmologist
Robert R. Anderson, MD
900 S. Eliseo Drive, #102, Greenbrae.

Best Oral Surgeon
Alex Kashef, MD, DDS
770 Tamalpais Drive, Ste. 408, Corte Madera.

Best Orthodontist
Bales Orthodontics
1713 Novato Blvd., Novato.

Best Orthopedic Surgeon
Michael J. Oechsel, MD
18 Bon Air Rd., Larkspur.

Best Pediatrician
Michael Matsumoto, MD
97 San Marin Drive, Novato.

Best Pharmacy
Jack’s Drug Store & Medical Supplies
121 Tunstead Ave., San Anselmo.

Best Physical Therapist
Katherine Manning, Marin Physical Therapy
165 N. Redwood Drive, Ste. #120, San Rafael.

Best Plastic Surgeon
Stanley G. Poulos, MD
350 Bon Air Road, #300, Greenbrae.

Best Podiatrist
Catherine Cheung, DPM
599 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ste. 102, Greenbrae

Best Psychiatrist
Adam Nelson, MD
45 Camino Alto, #200, Mill Valley.

Best Psychologist
Patricia Kunstenaar, PhD
163 Miller Ave., Ste. 4, Mill Valley.

Best Retreat Center
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
5000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Woodacre.

Best Spa
800 Redwood Hwy. Frontage Road, #216, Mill Valley.

Best Spray Tan
800 Redwood Hwy. Frontage Road, #216, Mill Valley.

Best Urgent Care Center
Golden Gate Urgent Care
750 Redwood Hwy., #1204, Mill Valley.

Best Urologist
R. James Yu, MD
1000 S. Eliseo Dr., Ste. 201, Greenbrae.

Best Waxing Studio
La Jolie Marin
200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael.

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Here at the Pacific Sun, it’s the most fun time of the year. Best of Marin season means discovering what our loyal readers love about this county—from its hardworking people to its beautiful places, putting together a big, colorful paper to honor it all and then sharing it with you.

This year our theme is Carnival, because, well, who doesn’t love a party? And with winners in categories that include Arts & Culture, Beauty, Health & Wellness, Everyday, Family, Fitness & Recreation, Food & Drink, Home Improvement and Romance, there’s a lot to celebrate.

We hope that after you flip through the pages of this issue, you feel as grateful as we do to be able to live, work and play here. So enjoy, and thanks for yet another entertaining Best of Marin. The party is just getting started. Don’t forget your feathers and mask.—Molly Oleson, Editor



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We know what you’re thinking: “Romance? Ewww!” But come on—anyone can find love in Marin … even if it’s just with that cocktail you’re...