Missing parts, frayed cords, short circuits, jammed gears – who has time for all that? Fortunately, Mr. Wizard does. For almost 10 years they've been servicing the protons and electrons of Austin; so when the vacuum starts whining or the TV starts buzzing, let Mr. Wizard perform his magic and make it all better.
Mr. Wizard's Electronics Service, 1507 W. North Loop, 512/454-1137
Are they still giving out free condoms at the counter of this excellent service center? And were they doing that in a desperate attempt to lessen (as if perceptibly) the future influx of customers – all those Austinites who would, as they do now, flock to this mecca of mechanistas for repairs and tuneups of their four-fendered friends? Popularity has its costs, we reckon, but it also pays to patronize a place known for its good works. Condoms or not, the expertise and consideration provided by the Flamingo team is, our readers' cars attest, almost autoerotic.
Flamingo Automotive, 3512 Guadalupe, 512/459-9917
For close to 40 years, the Wooten has been delivering haircuts you can set a watch to. The staff is friendly, and there are creature comforts aplenty – feature films on the TV, ample magazines, and most importantly, the free scalp and shoulder massage at the end of your trim. Undergrads, take a trip into the past, and see where Pops got his hair cut.
Wooten Barber Shop, 2106 Guadalupe, 512/477-0109
Cracked crank? Loose bars? No, we're not talking about substance abuse; we speak of the Bicycle Sport Shop and their peerless repair. With a minimum of the elitist gearhead talk, these guys will patch your ride back up on the cheap, and even rent you one for the time being. So you can still make it downtown to those loose bars. Bottoms up!
Bicycle Sport Shop, 9900 W. Parmer, 512/637-6890
Oh, Genie Car Wash, hear our three wishes: fine people who can clean our dirty wagons, a price tag that won’t break our bank, and a big ol' mascot that keeps our geography-addled brains from forgetting your location. Our wishes are granted? Vroom-vroom!
Imagine this: Your report is due tomorrow morning, and the computer has decided to take an indefinite hiatus. Well, unless you live next door to one of the Dell interns (and maybe even then), you'll probably need some help. With flexible hours and student discounts, these Nerdz are what we like to think of as our pale, brainy superheroes.
Reid's helps us keep our appearance in tiptop shape. Its devoted clientele and 10 locations make it an easy choice when looking to dry-clean a suit or preserve a wedding gown. With services that cover everything from alterations to shoe repair, Reid's is a local favorite.
Reid's Cleaners & Laundry, 3317 N. Lamar, 512/302-1870
Even with the barest and most difficult of guidelines (male recipient, make it smell good), C&F manages to pull off the most improbable and artistic and utterly original arrangements in town – making you end up looking good.
This place is so beautiful, it's fun to just drive by it and improve your mood. It's cool, verdant, lush, fantastic, and named for a Lucinda Williams song – what else do you want from a nursery? Proprietors Selena Souders and Dylan Robertson have turned this corner of Cesar Chavez into more than a gardener's paradise. They also have fun events like live music and a birdhouse-building competition. There's a gift shop, too. Want to see some of their commercial work? Check out the lovely Hotel San José on South Congress.
Highlights, lowlights, cuts, color, and style – Avant always leads the way with its cutting-edge techniques and expert craftsmanship. From the runways of Austin to the sidewalks, Avant's work is ever-present. Multiple locations make it very accessible, and since it's an Aveda salon, we can always be sure the products are as top-quality as the attentive staff.
Austin's breathtaking retreat on the lake has massaged a win in this category again. Our readers know what the rest of the world knows, as our haven in the hills is no stranger to hifalutin kudos: Condé Nast Traveler includes it in its Top 10 Spa list, and Travel & Leisure calls it one of the Top 50 Best Kept Secrets in the World. Last year, the spa decided to share some of its secret flavor with the rest of us by releasing FRESH: Healthy Cooking and Living From Lake Austin Spa Resort, chef Terry Conlan's guide to culinary bliss. The spa features too many amenities and package deals to list here, but there may still be time to reserve space for some of this fall's special events. Lake Austin Spa Resort, take me away!
Whether it's the bugs that eat your trees or the bugs that eat your house, ABC can handle it. This family-run business can handle just about any pest, from mites to bees to rats … and they can keep your lawn and garden looking sharp, too, with complete lawn care and maintenance. As they say, "One call solves it all."
Known for their historic preservation work with the new Mansion at Judges' Hill in West Campus and their playful design for the Austin Children's Clinic (featuring a mural of our 360 Bridge), this fledgling design firm has been making its mark on the Austin style scene with classic Texas flair since the year 2000.
3DC Design Studio, 911 W. 29th, 512/478-8200
Meep meep! Look, no service provider is sans glitch, but the Road Runner holds up pretty darn well. With 24-hour tech support available by phone, and even friendly come-to-your-door service if you forget to pay your bill, these folks make the whole home high tech experience seem pretty darn human.
Road Runner, 1905 N. Mays, Round Rock, 512/531-3278
Fresh, dry, and guilt-free! Hey, that "Eco" in their name stands for something, bub. ECOnomical and ECOlogically friendly! Did we mention how much faster the time goes when you're surfing the Net? That helps when you have a month's worth of laundry. Or better yet, try their wash-and-fold service, and save yourself the hassle all together.
Ecomat, 2915-B Guadalupe, 512/236-8645
With 17 play areas, doggie day care, and lots of room to roam, pups can play instead of suffering the indignities of being cooped up at home or inside some concrete kennel. DogBoy's boarding cost includes play time, food, and any other special needs. They say, "Unlimited TLC is free of charge!" Believe us, your dog will eat better than you do. Check out their online Dog-E-Zine, and take a virtual tour of the kennel before you go.
Your two phave pharmacies have duked it out in this category for years. This year they tie, and no wonder; their personal, old-timey service behind the high counter keeps so many of us out of the chain stores. Plus, both businesses feature locations with fabulous lunch counters, so you can sit and enjoy a nip and a sip while your script is being filled. Hey, that's just what the doctor ordered!
Nau's Pharmacy, 2406 San Gabriel, 512/476-1544
We like to think we’re “good photographers.” So when we brought in photos of Fluffy to Holland Photo, we were surprised at how much they improved our aesthetic. “Would you like us to crop your thumb out?” Oh, yes. “Shall we remove this red eye?” Very nice. But they did more than that – sharpened the image, adjusted tones. Unlike some booths, where profit is a premium, Holland Photo employees care about their craft. And Fluffy has never looked better.
We offer a hearty, "Welcome back!" to Ginny's, which narrowly missed this award, coming in second to a chain, for years. Locally owned and operated, Ginny's has been loyally supplying Austin with all of its copying needs for many years now. Whether it's color or black-and-white copies, printing and binding, faxing, or even T-shirt printing at their Lamar location, this local copy shop with a smile has got you covered, or should we say copied.
Ginny's Copies, 308 Congress, 512/477-9827
Habitat Hunters has helped Austinites navigate the turbulent real estate market since 1975, and their success is a tribute to their expertise. Craig’s List, on the other hand, brings a groovy do-it-yourself aesthetic to the housing search. This San Francisco-based online listserv, www.craigslist.com, caters to progressive folk seeking a place to live, someone to live with, or simply someone to luuuuv.
This previous Critics Pick has made its first appearance as a winner in our Readers Poll. We can't tell you how long we've been going there, but for the longest time we would have to catch ourselves before calling proprietor John Salazar Jr. "Sammie." We knew better than that: He's not Sammie! And neither is his dad, John Salazar Sr., who ran this small, friendly shoe-repair shop for the better part of 30 years and is still cobbling strong. So who is this Sammie fella? Prior to the Salazars' almost-40-year reign, a man named Sammie Akins ran the Eastside shoe palace for 30 years, and when John Sr. took over the place, he thought it best to keep the name.
Sammie's Shoe Repair, 3909 N. I-35, Ste. E-10, 512/451-7463
With four locations, Ace Tailors makes regular appearances in the "Best of Austin" poll. Quick and expert service on virtually any style of garment keeps customers returning again and again.