by Nirmala Nataraj

It’s a serene Monday morning in the Lower Haight, one of San Francisco’s trendiest and most bustling districts—and I’m ready to begin the long week with some much-needed indulgence.

You’d think that in the midst of all the hip boutiques, hair salons, record stores, and other city fixtures, there would be more options for harried customers looking for a pampering fix. However, Dolci is the only one-stop oasis for mani-pedi addicts in the entire neighborhood. And after only a year of being around, it’s already a favorite among both locals and people just passing through—even getting a nod from popular local website for the best manicures and pedicures in town.

As soon as I walk into Dolcei which is perched inconspicuously along a tree-lined street just a half-block away from urban madness, I am greeted by walls in shades of lemon yellow and cotton candy pink. It’s a tiny yet cozy establishment, lined with four pedicure stations on one side and a “manicure bar” on the other. The retro-mod appointments and French lounge music whispering from the speakers only add to the charm of the sunny ambience.

Treatments are derived from a combination of research and creativity, according to manager Sandy Ma. The lavish pedicures are all named after drinks (for example, ‘lemon drop’ and ‘mint julep’), which complements the concept of a manicure bar, where customers can relax with friends as they get filed and buffered. The nail treatments also include add-ons like oil therapy, a refreshing paraffin dip, scrub exfoliation, massage, or the rejuvenating caress of vitamin shea butter cream. The two back rooms offer body waxing and facials, which utilize Dermatologica products and emphasize the importance of supple skin through concentrated multivitamin boosters.

I myself opt for the mint julep pedicure, with its detoxifying combination of fresh mint, lime, cucumber, and cooling peppermint essential oil. I sip on green tea and play with the massage controls on my chair, enjoying the occasional envious glances from passersby who are drawn to the lemon interior.

Customers can expect far more than a touch-and-go treatment. Aside from the requisite cuticle care, my pedicure includes a leisurely paced exfoliation with a salt sea-scrub and vigorous cocoa butter massage from my calves to my soles. The best part of the pedicure comes right before the polish, when a cooling mint masque is thickly swabbed over my feet. Saran wrap is then draped around them, and sandwiched by moist, hot towels. It’s simple but brilliant, the perfect formula for soft feet that tingle to the touch.

The modest perfection of the treatments is complemented by the fact that Dolci applies the most stringent sanitation procedures in their treatments, and all nail instruments are disposed of after one use. Ma says that Dolci is looking to incorporate massage and body work in the near future; judging from the number of bridal showers and birthday celebrants that have graced the spa over the last week, additional treatments would be nice but not necessary.

For a quintessential girl’s night out, or an uncomplicated way to relax on your lunch break, Dolci Beauty Lounge is a must. And don’t worry if you get lost—ask around, and you’ll find just how much of a neighborhood favorite this unpretentiously hip establishment has become.

Dolci Beauty Lounge

211 Steiner Street @ Waller

San Francisco, CA 94117

1521 18th Street (at Connecticut)

San Francisco, CA 94107