Reader’s Choice: Life + Style

Posted on August 5, 2011 – 10:46 PM | by Admin
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Compiled by William Burg, Tim Foster, Becky Grunewald, Michele Hebert,
Niki Kangas, Anthony King, Liv Moe, Sarah Singleton and Melody Stone

Photos by Scott Duncan

The answers for the Life + Style section of the Best of Midtown survey offered the most variety of the whole questionnaire. The competition for Best Boutique and Best Auto Repair was fierce, and the Best Annual Event question may have generated the most different answers to any single question. Here’s the winners…

Best Place to People Watch: Marrs Project/ 20th and K

It’s easy to see how the Marrs Project/20th and K was voted best place to people watch in Midtown. With all the wonderful patio dining and interesting characters passing through, lounging back and taking in the urban natives is just too irresistible. Whether it’s a zombie walk, bicycle pack or a gang of queens there’s plenty of interesting human-types parading past the Marrs Project for your viewing pleasure. Grab a slice of pie at Luigi’s, a taco from Azul or a cocktail from Lounge on 20. Maybe you’ll see Downtown James Brown serenading an uncomfortable passerby – anything can happen at 20th and K!

Marrs Project/ 20th & K

Best Annual Event: Chalk It Up!

Chalk it Up! is the annual free chalk art festival that has taken place at Fremont Park every Labor Day Weekend since 1991. Chalk it Up! was founded to raise money for youth arts education programs with a three day celebration of arts and music. The festival has grown exponentially since 1991 and has gotten more enticing each year; nationally known, CIU is one of the largest chalk art fests in the United States.  Though the incredible chalk drawings are the stars, the festival also features live music all three days.

Jerry Perry, the well-known local music advocate (and long-time publisher of the now defunct Alive and Kicking music rag) is at the music-booking helm of this event, and consequently, some of Sacramento’s best bands take the stage to rock the park. Meanwhile, scattered food vendors ensure that no attendee goes hungry. This year’s Chalk it Up! takes place September 3rd-5th. Visit for more information or to purchase a square.

Fremont Park, September 3-5

Best Salon: Spanish Fly Hair Garage

The competition was neck and neck, but Spanish Fly Hair Garage won the Best Salon category by a hair.  Since 2006, Spanish Fly has been providing Sacramentans with fabulous haircuts (starting at $40), color and bleach treatments, updos, shampoos and styles and makeup applications.  All that is swell, but what really sets Spanish Fly apart is the atmosphere. A mural featuring Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin greets passerbys on the brick facade, and those who cross the threshold are visually dazzled by Spanish Fly’s modern art and décor which spills into a lush, verdant courtyard. Visit Spanish Fly on Second Saturday in October for a hair show that will feature live bands and local art.  To book an appointment, call 444-1FLY.

1723 J Street

Best Boutique: Bows & Arrows

While their previous location seemed to have a larger selection than their new bar/gallery/eatery/boutique collective, Bows and Arrows is still a perfect place to find incredible vintage looks from the ‘50s to the ‘80s.  Whether you’re looking for an authentic 1950s summer frock for the annual Seersucker Bike Ride, cutoff jean shorts for river raft stylin’ or epically garish polyester prints for the nightlife scene, you’re set at Bows.  But now, your boyfriend/husband can enjoy a beer while you shop – instead of incessantly pestering you to leave.

1815 19th Street

Best Place To Take Kids: ArtBeast

Artbeast Studio took this category by a landslide! A nonprofit organization, the proceeds of Artbeast benefit Tubman House, a transitional living program for homeless women and children. Artbeast studio is more than a place, it’s an ideology. The founders believe that, “discovering who you are is usually messy and loud. But quiet and methodical are just fine too.” To provide children (and their caregivers) a space for self-discovery, Artbeast took over a three story location at 2226 K St. and converted the building and backyard into an art, dance, yoga, music, theater, domestic and tactile free-for-all… well, it’s a free-for-all that costs $8 per person. Memberships are available, too, for frequent Beasties. Classes are also offered, and include exciting activities such as Ballet and Tap, Drum Circle, and Toddler Storybook Art. Artbeast is open daily from 9AM-6PM, and since in and outs are okay with a daily pass, it’s an obvious and enriching place for parents and children to while away their hours together.  To view rates, class schedules and more, visit

2226 K Street

Best Midtown Blog: Heckasac

While we’re not at liberty to divulge the identity of Heckasac’s lone wordsmith, we can – in the interest of full transparency – tell you that the writer behind one of Sacramento’s most informative, insightful and useful blogs is in fact a MidMo staffer. Pontificating on topics ranging from food and fashion, to music and art (and everything in between), nothing in Sacramento escapes the keen eye of Heckasac’s scribe.  Chances are, if it’s worth the time, the money and a damn in Sacto, Heckasac’s daily blog postings already have it covered. See? Secret identities can be a good thing!

Best Yoga: Zuda Yoga

We published a rundown of five local yoga studios a few years back and we discovered one thing: folks do not take their love of Zuda lightly.  People who go to Zuda LOVE Zuda. Our readers certainly agreed, putting Zuda comfortably at the top of our survey for Best Yoga Studio in Midtown. Owners Anne Marie Kramer and Bill Prysock have created a thriving studio in a delightful space featuring reclaimed wood floors and natural lighting. Their combination of hot yoga and intense power yoga training have won fans all over Sacramento –  Zuda Midtown celebrated their fourth anniversary on June 1st and they now have a Folsom location as well.

1515 19th St #104

Best Bike Shop:The Sacramento Bike Kitchen

There’s no showroom featuring gleaming new bikes. No salespeople talking up the latest in bicycling technologies. Hell, they don’t even sell water bottles or spandex bib shorts! So how did the nonprofit Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen score an overwhelming victory in our Best Bike Shop category? Two words: community outreach. Since 2006, this all-volunteer bike repair co-op has been making life easier for a majority of Midtown’s bike-riding denizens in need of knowledgeable assistance, hands-on repair classes or a reasonably priced rebuilt bicycle. Since moving from Oak Park to their current digs in Midtown in 2009, the SBK’s volunteer bike mechanics have served over 2,000 customers. Staying afloat through fundraisers such as the annual Hunt the Grid scavenger hunt and monthly Second Saturday art/music events – as well as donations from generous community members and local businesses – the SBK has become a vital, irreplaceable resource in Sacramento. Plus, their ($15) T-shirts are pretty damn cool.

1915 I Street,

Since winning the Best Bike Shop category in our reader survey, we asked if any of the Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen’s volunteer wrenchers to would like to pick their favorite Midtown bike shop. Ryan Sharp, the SBK’s Corporate Secretary, graciously stepped up to the plate.

“I’d have to say Whitworth Cycles,” concludes Sharp after a lengthy decision process (there are, after all, five bike shops in Midtown to choose from). “[Whit] lives and breathes the craft of bicycle making.”

Ask the Experts: Best Bike Shop

Since opening nearly two years ago, Whit Brooks’ namesake shop provides Sacramento’s cycling community with expert bike repair, sales and fabrication services. The shop itself has an eclectic, lived-in vibe, with bikes and parts hanging floor-to-ceiling – an ambience perfect for kicking back and shooting the breeze with its personable owner.

“Customer service is also a big part of it,” adds Sharp. “Whit’s knowledge and ability to figure out what the customer wants and needs really goes a long way.”

Best Auto Repair: Paul’s Automotive

Paul Criswell of Paul’s Automotive has been at this for a long time – since 1974, to be exact.  He and his staff of five mechanics must be doing a pretty great job; not only did they ring up the win in our Reader’s Choice Survey, they’ve managed a 5 star rating on Yelp – something most businesses can only dream about.  As luck would have it, some of our staff have taken cars to Paul’s over the years, and yup, it’s a good as those Yelpers say. Paul’s specializes in Japanese and domestic vehicles, so whether you’ve got a 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser, a ’95 Mazda Miata or a 2003 Ford Ranger, Paul’s got you covered.

1922 O Street

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