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3685 Sacramento St.
Followers say owner Susan Foslien has the best fashion eye in the city. Peruse the racks of wildly avant-garde (and expensive) clothing at this Laurel Heights icon and you'll probably agree. Up-and-coming and already-arrived designers from Europe and Japan are popular here, with a well-curated selection of Comme des Garçons, Lanvin, Jill Sander, Junya Watanabe and the like. Some patrons find the salespeople pushy, others rave about their attentiveness, but few fault the drool-worthy couture. Susan's sister shop, the Grocery Store (3625 Sacramento St.; 415-928-3615), stocks MTV Awards–ready fashions; jeans, jeans and more jeans; and designer shoes, jewelry and colorful handbags to complete your rockin' look.
UNION SQUARE AREA
Downtown's Union Square and surrounding blocks host big-name department stores—Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Bloomingdale's—but for every Gucci and Cartier, you'll find haute that's homegrown. Start at Wilkes Bashford (375 Sutter St.; 415-986-4380; wilkesbashford.com), six floors of sartorial sophistication for both sexes. Prowl narrow Maiden Lane, where Yves, Marc and Coco are all well represented. More unusual are the hand-poured Parisian candles at Diptyque (171 Maiden Lane; 415-402-0600) and the ancient Roman glass necklaces, Venetian glassware and decorative objects at De Vera (29 Maiden Lane; 415-788-0828; deveraobjects.com). Then pop over to Xanadu Gallery (140 Maiden Lane; 415-392-9999; folkartintl.com), which sells antiquities and folk art inside San Francisco's only building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; its circular interior is a miniature Guggenheim.
754 Columbus Ave.
San Franciscans who know their chocolate say the real deal is not in Ghirardelli Square but in North Beach at this confectioner awash in the blues and yellows of Provence. Cocoa freaks flock to chef Jean-Marc Gorce's shop for hand-rolled treasures in flavors such as Earl Grey and French roast, with four different coatings, including hazelnut and coffee crunch. (Vegans, don't despair: You can choose from three versions that are every bit as decadent as the classic truffles.) If you order a cup of joe or hot chocolate, don't be surprised if you find one of these buttery babies perched on the saucer.