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Best Glasses for Film Buffs: You'll Find Them in Hayes Valley

Look closely: The sides of those eyeglass frames from Hungarian company Cinematique are crafted of 35mm film from real movies (but only those made after 1989, when communism fell). Through the Hayes Optometry. 529 Hayes St, 415-553-6166, vinylize.com

Jay's Cheesesteaks and Liberty Ale—Sweet Perfection



Drinking food: I'm not talking about liquid food, but about the kind of food that insists on being accompanied by a good drink. In this case, Exhibit A is the cheesesteak, a wonderful sandwich with sautéed steak, onions, peppers, mushrooms and cheese served on a toasted roll with, usually, a little mayo and maybe some mustard. I'm a big fan of the cheesesteaks at Jay's (553 Divisadero). I get mine to go, however, because Jay's doesn't serve beer and I think the proper cheesesteak experience is not complete without a good brew. You can go with a lighter style lager--a Budweiser, for instance--but I like something a little richer and more flavorful, as the cheesesteaks at Jay's are pretty rich themselves and also quite savory.

Holiday Gift Idea #1: Get the Best Bonbon of 2008 at Coco-luxe

If you can't cook a turkey and write your Christmas list at the same time, you've failed in holiday multi-tasking.

But we're here to help. Starting today until December 25, Jessica and I are going to let you what we want for Christmas, because the best gifts to give are often the ones you want to eat yourself.

100 Cookies Later, The Ultimate Gingerbread

Jessica and I finished up our holiday-cookie–tasting extravaganza weeks ago, but the fruits of our labor can now be viewed right here. Tasting over 100 cookies from SF’s best bakeries sounds fun until you’re on your fifth really mediocre Mexican wedding cookie, feeling vaguely strung out on sugar (not to mention the suspicious dusting of powder on your nose).

SF's Best Cheap Eats

Chow Down. Or, if $5 is just too much, here's our guide to the best $1, $2, $3 and $4 snacks in town.

"Save the Drama 4 Obama" T-Shirts at Loyal Army

The elections may (finally) be over, but the inaugural celebrations have yet to come. We're predicting everything from lunchtime toasts to swanky shindigs around town on January 20. Loyal Army, an SF-based clothing line for teens that opened its first retail shop, in the Haight, in recent months, is whipping up a batch of limited-edition T-shirts just for the occasion. Founder Brian Dold says he designed the shirts with the goal of getting teens involved in politics.

Local Etsy Shop We Love: Hannah Stouffer

Local illustrator Hannah Stouffer, daughter of wildlife documentarian Marty Stouffer, finds inspiration in a “grand array” (also the name of her online Etsy shop) of pop-culture emblems, which are neatly disorganized into graphic mash-ups emblazoned on everything from posters to pillows.

Michael Mina's XIV Debuts in L.A.

It's always fun to see what SF star chefs are doing abroad, so to speak. We recently checked out Michael Mina's newest outpost, XIV, on a bustling corner of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. While the design by Philippe Starck is an uncommon marriage of modern and French chateau (a nice play on the name, which derives from this being Mina's fourteenth restaurant), the food is classic Mina mini-portions, taken to the next level.

Best Soap: Glowology Believe Honey Bar

For the beauty novice, it’s hard to believe that a bar of soap could do more than wash the dirt off. Those in the know realize the potential joys of the ideal cleansing bar—one so perfectly balanced that its rich lather leaves your skin moisturized and smooth, freshly scented and, of course, gently cleaned. We’ve found said bar in the form of the new, ultragentle Glowology Believe Honey Bar by San Jose–based Noodle & Boo. As a bonus, the company donates 100 percent of the product’s profits to the Raise Your Hand Campaign, which funds water-purification systems for disadvantaged children worldwide. Available at Nordstrom, 865 Market St., 415-243-8500

Best Beauty Bargain: Cinta Salon Brings the Aveda Institute to Town

Cinta Gibbons of Cinta Salon fame has opened California’s first Aveda Institute, providing West Coast cosmetology and esthetics students with 10,000 square feet of eco-friendly space in which to train, and bargain hunters with a gold mine for discounted grooming services. Professionally supervised students perform an array of services, from brow tints and waxes to haircuts, updos and highlights. Our budget service of choice is the 50-minute custom-cleansing facial, which includes a neck massage and extractions, as well as post-treatment mineral makeup application, for $40—twice the beauty at more than half off the usual spa price. 305 Kearny St., 415-989-4400

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