Best Everything but the Kitchen Sink
Métier Cook's Supply

We may never compete on Iron Chef, but we sure like pretending. Luckily, we have Métier owners Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher (you know them as the pair behind Lenoir) to outfit our personal Kitchen Stadium. From Togiharu knives to Tilit chef jackets and vintage cast iron, the charming space has everything we need to impress the judges – even if we are still using Pinterest for all our recipes.

Métier Cook's Supply, 1805 S. First, 512/276-2605,

Best Feminist Subscription Box
A Box of Your Own

Who doesn't want to receive a surprise in the mail every month – especially if it's a goodie box that includes everything from feminist pins, patches, or stickers, to "herstory" postcards offering a mini lesson on a female historical figure, to fair-trade snacks? Curated by entrepreneur and blogger Katie Kronbergs, each box celebrates the power of self-care. And with 10% of proceeds going to a rotating charity helping women and girls, it's proof that treating yourself and doing good can sometimes happen at the same time.

Best Force of Nature

We don't mean to call you basic (although don't think we don't see that pumpkin spice latte), but that sad clump of sedum you have growing in a terra cotta pot doesn't exactly give us home design #goals. It's time to raise your plant game, son. Perch a tillandsia in a minimalist blackbird, hang a jade plant from a baby-blue hexagon, or take a class on how to make your own living wall. Articulture has tons of accents to instantaneously and affordably upgrade your most humdrum rooms. Now let's talk about that IKEA couch.

Articulture Designs, 6405 Manchaca Rd., 512/762-5228,

Best Gift Box
Take Heart

This tiny Eastside shop is full of beautifully made objects that will impress even your most demanding aunt. Showcasing artisans from around the world and our own backyard, and Japanese design without any Sanrio Surprises, the space is all about details, like the grain of bird's-eye maple on a spreader or the seed head of a dandelion permanently captured in a paperweight. If you are lucky enough to receive something that caught owner Nina Gordon's eye, take heart that the giver didn't decide to keep it for themselves.

Best Goody Two-Shoes

Remember when David Bowie and Mick Jagger broke into a warehouse yard to dance in the street? We can't help but think they would have looked a little less awkward if they were wearing the proper shoes. If we were around, we would have suggested Austin-made Suavs – classic, lightweight, flexible slip-ons that go with everything from sweeping dusters to voluminous pleated pants. As it turns out, it does matter what you wear.

Best Help for Your Garden
Tillery Street Plant Co.

In September, Tillery Street Plant Co. began to offer free Saturday classes on prepping and planting fall gardens. Later in the season, they'll offer complimentary and comprehensive instruction on harvesting and protecting your garden from the freeze. If you missed your chance to plant edible vegetation this season, the passionate folks at this homegrown nursery will certainly be helping the public prep their green spaces for spring bounties – and are always on hand to offer advice year-round. Drop in, wander the beautiful gardens, and photosynthesize.

Tillery Street Plant Co., 801 Tillery, 512/567-1090,

Best Jewelry for City Witches
Via Christa

If your style leans more Morticia than Melania, simulated sparkle just won't do. Instead of throwing some banal bauble on top of your black velvet maxi, layer a few pieces molded in silver or gold from bat skulls, cat jaws, or hawk talons. Sure, some folks may think you're creepy and you're kooky, but you'll still be casting a spell on the rest of us.

Best No-Fuss Bath Time
Little Roseberry

Gettting your kids to eat their broccoli is difficult, but maybe you can get them to put it on their heads. Little Roseberry operates under the philosophy that what we put on our bodies is just as important as what we put in them. "Mom cosmetologist" Brizy Tait created the skin and hair care line when she couldn't find the right gentle and natural products for her son. Dinnertime may still cause some tantrums, but now bath time couldn't be easier.

Best Personal Art Objects
Q Toys

Sometimes – like Ariel says – we want more ... than luridly anatomical jellies and glittery dolphin vibes. Q Toys can't help but stand out with their well-curated strap-ons and sculptural dildos. You probably won't frame it, or arrange it into a tablescape, but you'll definitely think twice before tucking it behind your bed.

Q Toys, 6800 Burnet Rd., 512/772-1614,

Best Place to Get Your Goth On
Secret Oktober

It’s been a dead dreadful year for daring dark rock – RIP David Bowie, Lemmy Kilmister – but Austin’s only women-owned goth/punk/horror boutique can salve the savage beast within via their terrifyingly huge selection of clothing, footwear, badges, patches, stickers, and oh!, Bela Lugosi’s not dead corsetry. Owners Cassandra Davis and Mary Milton know the sweet smell of the cemetery all too well, and they’ll help you be a better, badder, deader person, too. Hey, can I get some spiderwebs with that?

Best Place to Sell Your Records
End of an Ear

Bad taste is a consequence of being human. We've all had copies of an Aaron Carter (or some similarly coiffed twink) record under our bed at some point or another, but when we come to our senses it can be painfully embarrassing to cash in on our past mistakes. Unlike some other record stores that give you shit for going through a Savage Garden phase, End of an Ear delights in both the good and the bad. We can't promise you they'll buy your records, but they won't shame you for them either.

End of an Ear, 4304 Clawson, 512/462-6008,

Best Roll of the Dice
Whose Turn Is It? Games

For four years, Whose Turn Is It? Games has sold tabletop, card, and miniature games. Now expanded, the store still boasts a solid collection of retail games, with more space dedicated to actual gaming. Their big draws are Magic the Gathering and miniature tournaments (think Warhammer 40K and X-Wing), but they’ve also got shelves of European-style tabletop releases available to try out for free. On most days you’ll still find owner and game enthusiast Patrick Hanschen minding the store, ready to give expert advice.

Best Secondhand Tchotchkes
Austin Habitat for Humanity ReStore

If you want something eclectic for your home, it's a well-known fact that you go to a thrift store. Of course, in a city more impressed with the hairpin legs of your boomerang table than your Hepplewhite, there are few places left undiscovered. But walk past the furniture and light fixtures of ReStore, and you'll find shelves brimming with secondhand tchotchkes, kitchenware, office accessories, accent decor, and more. This is where you can buy an old-school cereal bowl featuring Kellogg's Corny the Rooster. Or snag an Austin-themed tea kettle-shaped cast-iron trivet. And the money you drop goes to a good cause – Austin Habitat for Humanity's programs that benefit low-income families.

Best Souvenir Mug
Star Seeds Cafe

We've always been of the mind that, when buying a souvenir, you should steer clear of anything that screams, "tourist" – you know, like those generic keychains and shot glasses you can find at any airport newsstand. That's why a mug from Star Seeds Cafe is the perfect alternative for people back home (or your kitchen in South Austin). Sure, the mug's pretty simple with Star Seeds' retro-looking logo on one side and its slogan on the other. But the late-night joint is an Austin institution. It's where you get cheap eats and cheap beer at 11pm before heading back to your room at the Days Inn next door. And what's a better story to tell – that you grabbed any old mug from some Sixth Street shop or that you bought this at the place where you ate a chicken-fried steak the size of your head?

Best Vessel for Your Succulent
Foxwares Ceramics

It's an Austin habit to place our succulents in anything from plastic dinosaurs to old soup cans. But we like our spaces to be extra, so not any container will do. Lindsey Wohlgemuth's mugs and bowls are meant to hold things like chamomile tea and sage granita, but we are shipping them hard with a clump of pencil cactus.

Best Way to Prepare for Festival Season – Men's Edition
Weathered Coalition

When you are considering what to wear for Austin's endless stream of festivals, don't take a cue from the dudebros who still think Make America Great Again caps are funny. Instead consider the collection of goods assembled by Weathered Coalition owners Tyler Guinn and Ben Woods. Not yet a year old, the Domain Northside shop offers basics like Western shirts and tapered denim, along with accessories like limited-edition hats proudly proclaiming you are from the ATX. They may be nodding their heads to LCD Soundsystem, but they'll definitely be looking at you.

Best Way to Prepare for Festival Season – Women's Edition
Golden Bones

We know you washed those shorts at least half a dozen times to get a perfect fringe on your cutoffs, and we bet you spent at least a couple of Saturdays researching just what culture to appropriate, but can we give you some style advice? Get thee to Golden Bones. Buy an easy crop top and a zip sequined skirt, and just sit back while your mug lands on every street-style blog.

Golden Bones, 3210 Esperanza Crossing #110,

Best Way to Share Your Good News
Bonne Nouvelle Design

You can buy a pretty-enough Hallmark card to tell someone "thank you," or announce your wedding with a flat rectangle of card stock. But your feels should be expressed with feeling, and off-the-rack greetings just don't do the trick. Bonne Nouvelle Design ensures your announcements, invitations, and any other non-digital communication are worthy of a stamp by showcasing the gorgeous work of local illustrators and calligraphers. Something to write home about indeed.

Tightest Tights
Tramps Fashion Compression Hosiery

Everybody knows that sitting is the new smoking. But spending eight hours on your feet is no walk in the park, either. Just ask Austin entrepreneur Alex Reyes, recently named by People en Español readers one of its annual 25 Most Powerful Women. Reyes drew on her experience as a hairstylist and salon owner to launch with her designer brother Tomas the Tramps Fashion Compression Hosiery line. With products in eye-popping pink and cheetah jacquard, the Tramps team helps working women keep the blood flowing – and look darn good doing it.

Best Adult Store
Forbidden Fruit

These guys have been fighting the good fight and stocking good toys since before most readers were born! – Cranston Vincent

Forbidden Fruit, 108 E. North Loop, 512/453-8090,

Best Bookstore

Hands down. If you can get Supreme Court justices to come and speak to a crowd when their book is published ... you're the best. – Edward Snider

BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar, 512/472-5050,

Best Comics/Fandom
Dragon's Lair Comics & Fantasy

Dragon's Lair not only has the friendliest staff I've ever known at a comics store, its dedication to providing a safe space for everyone – kids, woman gamers, LGBT+ gamers, etc. – makes it an amazing hub of the community as well. – Gwen Sanger

Dragon's Lair Comics & Fantasy, 2438 W. Anderson Ste. 1-B, 512/454-2399,

Best Costume Shop
Lucy in Disguise

How can anyone else compete with a fixture on South Congress for 32 years, jam-packed with every costume, wig, and piece of vintage clothing you could ever want? – Jerry Durham

Lucy in Disguise, 1506 S. Congress, 512/444-2002,

Best Electronics Store
Discount Electronics

Discount Electronics rocks. Helpful staff, inexpensive basics (printers, computers, monitors), great service & repair department. – Paul Bell

Discount Electronics, 1011 W. Anderson, 512/983-9989,

Discount Electronics, 9711 Manchaca Rd., 512/458-8612,

Discount Electronics, 1001 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/637-7051,

Best Farmers' Market
Texas Farmers' Market at Mueller

Dog-friendly, family-friendly, and foodie-friendly! Love this place. – Whitney Fies

Texas Farmers' Market at Mueller, 4209 Airport

Best Furniture/Accessories
Room Service Vintage

I learned about RSV even before living in Austin. On my first visit 12 years ago, it was my first stop immediately after leaving ABIA. I have now lived here nine years, and nearly every single item in my house has come from RSV. We are so lucky to have Room Service! – Jen Venzke

Room Service Vintage, 107 E. North Loop, 512/451-1057,

Best Game/Gaming
Dragon's Lair Comics & Fantasy

You want to try out games? They have tons of them already opened up so you can see how they work and if you enjoy them before you buy them. Can't beat Dragon's Lair! – Tammy Cox

Dragon's Lair Comics & Fantasy, 2438 W. Anderson Ste. 1-B, 512/454-2399,

Best Garden Store/Nursery
Natural Gardener

Nowhere else will you find a more diverse selection of native species. – Logan Guerra

Natural Gardener, 8648 Old Bee Caves Rd., 512/288-6113,

Best Local Bridal Shop

Most unique selection of dresses for Austinites with prices for everyone. Super nice employees. They're not pretentious [and there's] no pressure to buy. Awesome selection of accessories too. Love this store. – Meghann Flynn

Unbridaled, 701 S. Lamar, 512/444-2743,

Best Local Jeweler
Kendra Scott

When my husband was at his daily chemo treatment at Texas Oncology, Kendra sent lovely gift wrapped earrings to all the female patients, which numbered about 150. She's tops in my book. – Leea Mechling

Kendra Scott, 1400 S. Congress, Ste. 170-A, 512/499-8400,

Best Men's Clothing

Eating pizza and leering at men going into Stag is one of my favorite pastimes. – Anna Doty

Stag, 1423 S. Congress, 512/373-7824,

Best Neighborhood Grocery
Wheatsville Food Co-op

I <3 you, Wheatsville. Let's go to City Hall and make it official. – Nicholas Lewis

Wheatsville Food Co-op, 3101 Guadalupe, 512/478-2667,

Wheatsville Food Co-op, 4001 S. Lamar, 512/814-2888

Best Pet Store
Tomlinson's Feed & Pets, Inc.

I walk into the Four Points location and say, "Hi honey. I'm home." I know every single one of them by their first name. – Samantha Stevenson

Tomlinson's Feed & Pets, Inc., 908 E 49th 1/2, 512/452-1560,

Tomlinson's Feed & Pets, Inc., 5900 W. Slaughter Ste. 480, 512/276-2057,

Tomlinson's Feed & Pets, Inc., 7301 Ranch Road 620 North, Ste. 110, 512/215-9242,

5 more locations

Best Record Store
Waterloo Records

Sometimes loyalty matters. Sometimes they're just better. Sometimes it's both. – David Sweeney

Waterloo Records, 600-A N. Lamar, 512/474-2500,

Best Smoke Shop
Planet K

Hang there for five minutes for a spiritual experience. – Anna Maria Garcia

Planet K, 1516 S. Lamar, 512/443-2292

Best Toy Store
Terra Toys

Their wide selection of toys for boys and girls of all ages is dizzying. There's some well-known toys as well as some really nice homemade ones too. Every toy will bring a smile to every tot (or adult)'s face. – Dwhitney Shaw

Terra Toys, 2438 W. Anderson Ste. 1-C, 512/445-4489,

Best Video Store
Vulcan Video

I went back to Vulcan after some time away, and found the answer to "Why do we need video stores any more?" – Shannon Kelle

Vulcan Video, 100-A North Loop, 512/478-5325,

Vulcan Video, 4411 Russell, 512/326-2629,

Best Vintage/Antiques
Uncommon Objects

A tough category to pick a winner. They're all awesome. Giving the edge to Uncommon because I think they have the highest jackalope count. – Joe Ballato

Uncommon Objects, 1512 S. Congress, 512/442-4000,

Best Women's Clothing
Uptown Cheapskate

I never leave empty-handed. Fun, quirky, and full of character – and the clothes are awesome too. A must when on SoLa! – Lindsay Gillen

Uptown Cheapskate, 3005 S. Lamar Ste. 110-A, 512/462-4646

Best Annual Sale
Oat Willie's Indian Bedspread Sale

For generations, Oat Willie's has been outfitting new apartments, guest rooms, and dorms with Eastern-influenced color. The small chain, mostly known for "smoking accessories," is the likely answer to any word-association game when folks are asked what's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the phrase "Indian bedspreads." It's the place in town to get them. And what variety! The palette of colors and array of designs have expanded greatly through the years, and everyone knows they also make great wall, doorway, and table coverings as well. The annual sale knocks anywhere from 20-50% off the regular price and always happens at the beginning of the school year. If you are reading this the week this issue comes out, you have a few days left! (Sale ends Sept. 15.)

Oat Willie's, 617 W. 29th, 512/482-0630,

Oat Willie's, 1931 E. Oltorf, 512/448-3313,

Oat Willie's, 9505 Burnet Rd., 512/836-6287,

Best Beer Adviser
Sam Rozani of Sunrise Mini Mart

In this craft ale boom, it’s easy to have a good beer selection in stock. But knowing them all? Knowing what seasonals are coming, what rare brews are hidden gems? That’s hard. Tougher still is knowing not just your market, but each and every regular who comes through the door, what they like, what they love, what you should hold in the back for that one customer who will really appreciate it. That’s what makes Sam Rozani, the genius of the growler and the professor of the pint, the best friend an Austin beer aficionado ever had.

Sunrise Mini Mart, 1809 W. Anderson, 512/453-5176,

Best Chocolate Bar Made in Austin
SRSLY Chocolate's Oaxacan Espresso

For those who find pleasure in food that is not only delicious, but ethical, SRSLY Chocolate should top lists of local favorites. Married business partners Bob Williamson and Robin Simoneaux-Williamson make their chocolate with Fair Trade cocoa beans sourced from a cooperative of Dominican farmers. Plus, SRSLY Chocolate is vegan, and Bob and Robin are two of the most delightful chocolatiers in town. The Oaxacan Espresso is a must-try. You can find small bars of this local delicacy in the checkout line at Wheatsville Co-op and other stores.

SRSLY Chocolate, Inc., 850/270-8572,

Best Gluten-Free Mixes
Bona Dea

In this day and age of food sensitivities, the list of food choices and labeling can overwhelm: gluten-free, organic, non-GMO…. Thankfully, Bona Dea makes it simple. St. Edward's University alumna Melissa Robinson, Ashley Blake, Joanie Cahill, and Jenni Ferguson make up this team of entrepreneurial women with not only health in mind, but social consciousness as well. Their locally owned enterprise offers delicious bagged mixes for bread, pancakes, muffins, even scones (scooooooooooooones!). If you're not the type to go to H-E-B and pick up a baking mix and whip it up yourself, then next time you're at Hopdoddy or Kerbey Lane Cafe, try their gluten-free bread made with Bona Dea grains.

Bona Dea, 512/580-9964,

Best Hey, Are We in Houston?
Chinatown Center

It's not Bellaire Boulevard, it's North Lamar. Perhaps quaint in comparison to the Chinatowns of other burgs, North Austin's Chinatown Center ably reps Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, and now (why, hello there, Fit, Japanese two-dollar store!) Japanese businesses. Anchored by the MT Supermarket – where herbs and seafood are cut-rate, and in our not-so-humble opinion, the only place in town to shop, really shop, for a rice cooker – and filled out by a bevy of other restaurants, bakeries, foot therapy spas, bubble tea shops, video and music stores, jewelry stores, and nail and hair salons. You could eat and shop and pamper all day. And we do. We do.

Chinatown Center, 10901 N. Lamar, 512/502-8887,

Best Insider Hooch
Wiggy's Liquor Store

This gem of a liquor store has been an insider secret for decades, nestled in Clarksville on West Sixth Street inside a building over 100 years old. Wiggy’s has an entire room devoted to wine, and not one, but two walk-in humidors. Big deal? Well, considering that Wiggy's is an independent business (owned by a former manager of 25 years) that effortlessly straddles the fence between extremely knowledgeable and friendly (read: unpretentious) service, it’s easy to see why Wiggy’s is a beloved Austin institution. A real neighborhood joint for both the snob and novice.

Wiggy's, 1104 N. Lamar, 512/479-0045,

Best Little (Huge) Gun Store in Texas
McBride's Guns

The problem with trying to buy a gun in a big box is that you feel like you’re in a big box, a vast space, surrounded by products without any guidance, often in faraway places like Buda. Look no further than McBride’s Guns just off Lamar & 29th Street, a local landmark in business for over 50 years, boasting "one of the largest firearms inventories in the nation." Friendly and helpful employees promptly greet customers and are happy to offer advice or fulfill specific requests. Plus they employ diligent and knowledgeable gunsmiths on-staff and on-duty during all business hours to maintain those firearms. McBride’s offers reasonable prices, and they buy and trade. No need to get stuck in traffic every time you need bullets.

McBride Guns, Inc., 2915 San Gabriel, 512/472-3532,

Best Nest Egg
Bower Bird Antiques & Curiosities

Named after a fowl that creates its nest to attract a mate, Bower Bird transforms trash into treasure. Owner Katinka Pinka can be found most days on her workbench inside the store, stringing a chain through a hole in an animal's tooth or wrapping wire around a quartz crystal. Bower Bird is a living I Spy book: "I spy, with my little eye, something … vintage!" You'll have to be more specific than that. Shelves and hangers are lined with vintage clothing and home decor. There are enough knickknacks to keep a person guessing for hours.

Bower Bird Antiques & Curiosities, 215 N. Comanche, San Marcos,

Best Overlooked Whole Foods Parking Space
Downtown, Level 2, right by the escalator doors

You’ve circled and circled the steamy, barbecue-scented netherworld under the Downtown Whole Foods. You finally find a parking spot in the hinterlands of Level 2. You grab your reusable bags and follow a winding route through the hulking SUV hybrids. You’re almost to the sliding glass door and that first frigid blast of grocery store AC when you notice, out of the corner of your eye, a suspiciously empty space. Less than 15 feet from the door. It is neither a handicapped spot nor specially designated in any way. D’oh! Despite the infernal circling, you – and usually lots of other shoppers – missed it. Next time ….

Whole Foods Market, 525 N. Lamar, 512/476-1206,

Best Pluming Thrift
Thrifty Chicks Vintage and the Thrifty Peacock

We stumbled on Thrifty Chicks Vintage last year and were smitten by the curatorial sensibilities of the two women who opened the place. When we saw the prices, we were all wallets-open and stone-cold in love. Midcentury end tables bumped up against preppy armchairs and original paintings of sad clowns and The Angel of Leslie (Cochran, we think). Since then, the Chicks have moved and opened an, um, sister store that features vintage women’s clothing in – be still, our hearts – sizes 0-32, as well as a nice batch of men’s apparel. Their collective good eye is apparent in the selection – top-notch throwback clothing, Coach and Louis Vuitton bags, collectible figures, toys for kids – and the prices range from bargainistic to quite-reasonable-for-mint-designer-vintage. Lovers of the high-low will will want to shake a tail feather to both stores.

Thrifty Chicks Vintage, 1724 W. Anderson, 512/467-7575,

The Thrifty Peacock, 1736 W. Anderson, 512/467-4784, www.thriftychicksvintage

Best Shop for Your Film Fix
Holland Photo

Enjoy listening to a record instead of a CD? Sometimes it's just more fun to put down the DSLR (or iPhone) and shoot with film. Holland Photo is the one-stop shop for all your analog needs. Forget the photo gadgets and frills; here, it's all about efficient simplicity. Get creative with Holland's wide range of film options, and get printing with their fantastic photo lab. And with an always informed, always affable staff, you know your snaps are in good hands here.

Holland Photo Imaging, 1700 S. Lamar #327, 512/442-4274,

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