Goods & Services

Writers’ choice

Best cheap flight

Weekly wine tastings at the Florin Road Nugget
From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday nights, it costs just three bucks to taste a flight of five wines at the Nugget. Steve Q., the market’s wine steward, says he eschews best-selling wines because they “all taste alike.” One recent evening, his choices ranged from a slightly sparkling Prosecco to a Viognier. Rounding out the flight were a Pinot Noir in a box the size of a 1-pound bag of coffee (and about the same price), a local Tempranillo and—the best wine of the night—a Vacqueryras. Each week offers a different tasting experience. Sometimes, like on St. Patrick’s Day, Q. lines up a flight of beer. The best part? Getting to know your neighbors while sipping wine and getting your shopping done, a multitasking opportunity that’s hard to beat. 1040 Florin Road, (916) 395-2875,

Best freebie

Shade trees from SMUD and the Sacramento Tree Foundation
Everyone loves free stuff, but your average swag quickly breaks, gets lost or is just plain useless. The shade trees from SMUD and the Sacramento Tree Foundation actually improve with age, growing to shade your home and save you money in cooling costs. The program is ultra-efficient: Just sign up (online or by phone), and a friendly trained forester will come to your house and figure out the best type of tree and placement for your property. You can have a pretty maple or a soon-to-be-majestic oak delivered within days, complete with detailed instructions on how to plant and care for it. If you suspicious types are looking for the catch, there isn’t one, unless you count having to dig the hole—a small price to pay for years of lounging in the shade. (916) 924-8733,

Best airplane salvage

Faeth Aircraft
Whenever the Discovery Channel’s MythBusters need to jury-rig a cockpit or Ginsu-slice a fuselage to put some avian-themed urban legend to the test, they turn, naturally, to Kenny Faeth’s salvage yard. Aptly described by the MythBusters narrator as “an Aladdin’s cave of aeronautical off-cuts,” Faeth Aircraft meets all your non-ground-bound gearhead needs. 5954 Bradshaw Road, (916) 368-1832.

Best car rental

Midtown’s Avis Rent A Car
Sometimes, in this pedestrian-unfriendly town, you just need a set of wheels. Well, here’s a no-brainer: For the cost of a single cab ride across the river, you can rent your own car for a day from the Midtown Avis. Sure, you could probably do about the same, cost-wise, at some other places, but you won’t do better than Avis’ service. It’s got that whole “we try harder” thing going on, and it actually shows. With these guys around, will you ever even need to buy a car? 901 16th Street, (916) 446-2695,


Best free Wi-Fi

Naked Lounge
1500 Q Street, (916) 442-0174,

Yes, Naked Lounge you have saved me again.
I have searched my whole life for free Wi-Fi,
(six dollars is a sin for MSN)
And electric plugs to keep laptops high.

Your independent coffee is so great,
Caffeine: fuel for a Net-inspired task.
I love how you are always open late.
So, when anyone stops me and they ask,

    I will say you are the best place in town,
    For joe, Wi-Fi: You surely take the crown.

—Matthew Craggs


Best opportunity to indulge in records

Capital Public Radio’s annual Used CD and Record Sale
Capital Public Radio (KXJZ and KXPR in Sacramento) isn’t just a great way to start your day. The organization also hosts great events, like its annual Used CD and Record Sale. Unfortunately, this year’s has come and gone (it was June 3 and 4, from noon to 5 p.m.), but you can bet your bottom it will come around again next year. And no, CPR’s not selling just a bunch of jazz records, either. From LPs to 33s, you will definitely find your favorite music here. Plus, if you’re a member, you get 25 percent off the already thrifty prices. 7055 Folsom Boulevard, (916) 278-8900,

Best alternatives to yellow ribbons

The magnetic ribbons at Etc.
We’ve written about the card selection at Etc. before, but the store really deserves another nod for the lefty political supplies it’s stocked since our country’s been at war. For those who want to counterbalance a neighbor’s yellow-ribbon/American-flag overkill, Etc. has a selection of alternative magnetic car-bumper ribbons with sentiments like “Just pretend it’s all okay” or “God forgive George Bush; God bless our troops.” The store’s offerings change frequently, but in recent months they’ve included anti-Bush postcards with peel-off bumper stickers and timely politically slanted birthday cards, like the one reading “My country invaded Iraq and all I got was this expensive oil.” 2101 L Street, (916) 446-8049.

Best place to find a used coffee table or an outfit for the drag prom

Thrift Town on Stockton Boulevard
All Thrift Town locations claim to get 4,000 items in daily. At Sacramento’s Stockton Boulevard store, that’s not hard to believe. Kids’ clothes, furniture, toys and household goods take up the lower level, and adult-sized clothing, shoes and books fill the ground floor. Thrift stores have come a long way in recent years, and this one’s no exception, with decent-sized dressing rooms (you don’t have to fetch a salesperson to open one), gift cards, shopping carts, the option of paying by ATM card, and frequent sales. (Thrift Town offers 50 percent off all items with a certain colored tag every day, and senior citizens get a 30-percent discount on all clothes every Monday.) Best of all, the store is open seven days a week. Now, if only vintage-clothing boutiques would stop buying up all the good stuff. 5005 Stockton Boulevard, (916) 454-0435,

Best friend to those who adore man’s best friend

Go Fetch Pet Sitting
Many pets are used to a leisurely lifestyle that most humans only dream of. They eat the finest food, are taken to the best doctors and sport the latest fashions. Still, even the best pet owners can’t take their furry or feathered friends everywhere they go. That’s where Go Fetch Pet Sitting, owned and operated by Janet Smith, comes into play. Go Fetch provides your loved ones (dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents and birds) with meals, playtime, grooming and cuddling when you can’t. Smith is certified with the American Red Cross for pet CPR and first aid and is an Emergency Animal Rescue Service volunteer. Your pets will be in good hands. 5960 South Land Park Drive, Suite 305; (916) 392-6779;

Best gas station on the grid

Bonfare Market-Liquor
Bonfare may not be the best gas station anywhere—it only has four pumps, you have to pay inside, and there’s no carwash—but it does have its charms: The gas is usually cheaper than at Chevron, Shell or 76; it’s always playing interesting music; it has a better-than-average selection of wines, beers and snacks (for a gas station, that is); and it offers check cashing and sells money orders and stamps, making it easy to knock out several errands at once. Its biggest selling point is the valuable service it provides to grid dwellers who live, work and party within the confines of a few square miles. If there’s one thing the central city lacks, it’s gas stations. Bonfare is an oasis in the desert of downtown—for your thirsty car. 809 20th Street, (916) 441-1798.

Best place to drop off a U-Haul truck

U-Haul Center Downtown
Usually, the only thing worse than driving a rental truck is the customer service at the rental center. Let’s face it: The customer-service reps have the upper hand. Either you need a truck quickly, or you’re dropping one off and don’t want to drive to another town to do so. None of this is the case at U-Haul’s downtown location. A clean, organized shop and a courteous, knowledgeable staff make the moving process a little less of an ordeal, instead of inspiring a fitful rage. 2830 Broadway, (916) 456-6446,

Best hangout for the elderly

Asian Community Center
The Asian Community Center’s goal is to tap seniors’ “lifelong learning and wellness” energy. Classes in line dancing, hula, tai chi, kimekomi (the Japanese art of doll making), digital-camera use and e-mailing are available for $3 an hour. For another three bucks each way, ACC Rides offers a door-to-door shuttle service for residents in nearby zip codes. Caregivers can take it easy and drop elders with physical or cognitive disabilities off during five-hour respite sessions twice a week, which include exercise, creative activities, snacks and meals. And stay-at-home seniors who live alone can get in on the action also by signing up for free daily phone calls from ACC volunteers. 7375 Park City Drive, (916) 393-9026,


Best consolation for giving up eggs and dairy

Vegan carrot cupcakes from the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op
1919 Alhambra Boulevard, (916) 455-2667, 6, 2006

Dear Diary,

It finally happened! I never thought anything could replace my love for desserts saturated with eggs and butter. But tonight something did! Since you’ve so dutifully listened to me lament about how desperately I craved just one snickerdoodle or a piece of Black Forest cake from Ettore’s, I thought you should be the first to know. I stopped to get some dinner and saw behind the deli case one lone cupcake topped with what looked like the sweetest, most cavity-inducing icing. I immediately thought, “Off limits, as usual.” But I looked closer, and the placard read, “Vegan carrot cupcake: $2.25.” Were my tired eyes playing tricks on my deprived sweet tooth and empty stomach? A closer look at the ingredients revealed powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, tofu, raisins, olive oil, walnuts, orange juice and soy milk—not a trace of anything forbidden to a vegan! And, Diary, when I bit into that cupcake, it was like Cupid himself shot me straight through the heart with a piece of raw sugar cane. It was the sweetest, moistest cupcake I’d ever had, and I know I will never find another dessert as perfect, with or without the butter. More tomorrow …

—Alexis Raymond


Best notary

Midtown Framing & Gallery
Getting documents notarized may not involve any great exertion, but it’s no party all the same. Gallery owner Gary McCann goes beyond the perfunctory “sign and collect cash” brand of notaries that dominate the trade by providing simple, organized service and straightforward answers, without ever making you feel rushed. Even better, his shop’s quiet, creative atmosphere is a great alternative to queuing up at a sterile shipping chain. 2504 J Street, (916) 447-7558.

Best place to buy your child’s love

Goore’s Furniture & Accessories for Babies to Teens
Family owned and operated, Goore’s started out as a small boutique in 1992. After two expansions, the business grew big enough to move into a former supermarket on Marconi Avenue across from Town and Country Village. Now the largest independently owned baby and children’s specialty store on the West Coast, Goore’s offers virtually anything a baby, toddler or teen could need. Customers make pilgrimages from throughout Northern California and Nevada to browse and buy the latest gear for the little ones. The selection of bassinets, cribs and clothing and especially the massive variety of strollers have to be seen to be appreciated. Overstock and close-out merchandise is sold around the corner at the Goore’s Outlet. 2700 Marconi Avenue, with the outlet store at 2854 Fulton Avenue; (916) 485-1915;

Best Capitol fashions

Best Capitol fashions:<br>S. Benson and Co.

Photo By Larry Dalton

S. Benson and Co.
The fashion police don’t discriminate, no matter if you’re a senator, chief of staff or run-of-the-mill flack. This is where Steve Benson, a longstanding purveyor of men’s clothing, comes in. He’ll have you looking sharp, be it in a Zegna suit or one-of-a-kind sportswear. You can drive to his East Sac shop, park right up front, get personalized service and be out the door in no time. Benson offers wardrobe-management, unparalleled advice and an excellent fit that you simply won’t find at the mall. Oh, and fret not, ladies: Katia’s Collections (owned by Katia Davies-Kemmler and also located at S. Benson) is where professional women go to be à la mode. Relax and trust them—they’ll have you looking great! 702 57th Street, (916) 452-4288.

Best class about the dead for the living

Psychology of Death and Dying at Sacramento City College
Psychology 390 covers all things deathly—from the dynamics of grief to the fear of death, mythologies, hospice care and near-death experiences. It may sound grim, but the engaging and utterly human professor Tom Bruce imparts his wisdom through death stories that are ultimately about life. He reminds you to relax, return to your simple self and enjoy. 3835 Freeport Boulevard, (916) 558-2111,

Best computer-repair and upgrade services

Home Base Computer Services
If you haven’t yet had a falling out with your computer, don’t worry; you will. A virus will eventually make your life miserable. Or, if your machine is more than a year or two old, it will run out of hard-drive space for all your music, photos and video, or not have enough power to let you edit and enhance your personal movie clips before posting them on YouTube. The good news is that simply upgrading a component or two probably will provide enough storage space and power to run and store everything. Neal Winchell and his team of über-geeks can do it all at a fraction of the price of a new system and remove spyware and viruses to boot. 1835 Fulton Avenue, Suite B; (916) 485-1836;

Best fireworks stand

The temporary kiosk next to Headhunters Video Lounge and Grille
Hastily erected firework outlets pop up everywhere in the days before the Fourth of July. They’ve all got two-for-one specials and sparkler giveaways, but the Phantom Fireworks stand at 20th and K streets is the only one where you can buy “piccolo Petes” from a drag queen in a sequined gown and a red-white-and-blue bobbed wig. God bless America! for general information on Phantom Fireworks.

Best free eats at a hardware store

Capitol Ace Hardware
Ace has been declared the best before. But it’s not just the store’s good selection, good service and good attitude that make it a winner. It’s the free popcorn and coffee. Talk about tools you didn’t know you needed. Doing it yourself, whatever it is, always goes more smoothly with a little cuppa joe. As for the popcorn, we don’t know what the hell that has to do with home repair. We don’t want to know. We just love it. 1815 I Street, (916) 446-5246.

Best $10 men’s haircut

Vicky’s Hair & Nails
They say you get what you pay for, but Vicky’s challenges the conventional wisdom. The locally owned salon located in an aging Rancho Cordova strip mall might not have the slick, color-coordinated interior of franchise bargain-haircut chains like Supercuts or Fantastic Sams, but the stylists at Vicky’s get the job done with style. The bulk of the business is women’s hair and nail work, but a steady stream of male customers keeps the gender ratio in balance. An appointment means you won’t have to wait, but walk-ins are welcome. Vicky, the salon’s namesake, is usually busy with longtime regulars, so ask for Linda or Karen and expect an above-average cut for only 10 bucks. 9675 Folsom Boulevard in Rancho Cordova, (916) 361-8942.

Best wine selection

Best wine selection:<br>58 Degrees & Holding Co.

Photo By Larry Dalton

58 Degrees & Holding Co.
Being both a bistro and a wine retailer, 58 Degrees & Holding Co. has a substantial selection on hand, but its greatest strength is its balance of quality and price. From subtle Pinot and rustic Garnacha to spicy Gewürtz and floral Grüner Veltliner, there are no disappointments on the list. Wines by the glass can be ordered by the full- or half-pour, but bottles are always the best value, and the racks at 58 Degrees & Holding are stuffed with wines that guarantee maximum enjoyment at competitive prices. Great reds from Spain and Australia and whites from New Zealand and California won’t max your credit. But if you’ve just gotta drop some cash on a ‘64 Gruaud-Larose, they’ve got that, too. 1217 18th Street, (916) 442-5858,

Best marriage of conventional and alternative medicine

Sutter Health’s integrative-health-care centers in Davis and Sacramento
Dr. Ron Cotterel envisioned a health-care practice that combined state-of-the-art Western medicine with the most effective complementary therapies. His own training in conventional medicine and as an herbalist taught him that a holistic approach to health care was a true path to optimal wellness. Cotterel’s team of 13 alternative health practitioners in Davis includes spiritual counselors, a nutritionist, an acupuncturist, herbalists, a dance-movement therapist, massage therapists, yoga teachers and chiropractors. Cotterel and the team meet, review a patient’s case and together determine the healing modalities best suited for that patient’s needs. The program has been so effective that a Sacramento center was established to serve the growing number of people who want their mind, body and spiritual needs considered whenever they visit their doc. Sutter Center for Integrative Health; 635 Anderson Road, Suite 12, in Davis; (530) 759-9804;

Best place to save your relationship—with your car

Sacramento Carburetor & Electrical Specialist
Has that long-term love affair with your four-wheeler hit the skids? If that special vehicle doesn’t return your affection like it used to due to mechanical problems, veteran mechanic Lee Burkhouse and his team just might be able to save the relationship. The shop does virtually any kind of repair and specializes in performing the complex tweaks (sometimes missed by less-experienced mechanics) that get older vehicles running clean so they can pass state-mandated smog inspections. “The kids today just want to work on the newer, computerized vehicles,” Burkhouse explained. The shop is also approved by the state to perform government-subsidized repairs on certain vehicles that fail smog checks. 2528 Tesla Way, (916) 971-4185.