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1997 Readers Poll
1997 Critics Picks

photograph by John Carrico   John Carrico

Best African-american Barber Shop

For the African-American male with a "real job," dreadlocks and bushy afros just don't cut it. While the clean-shaven, bullet-head look has its adherents (among balding major league sports heroes and the victims of barbers who just don't know any better), most African-African men have full heads of hair (short and nappy though it may be) and want to enjoy every strand. Fortunately for them, a reasonable compromise can be achieved between length and good taste. Head Fadz Studio/Barber Shop is the place and Lance Jackson, Ava Lott and the other members of the Head Fadz team can fix you up, whether you're interested in a "line and a trim," a "fade" or "designer parts." And as Lance says, please remember to "pick yo' afro!" That is, run a comb through the stuff before you get there, aw 'ight?

Head Fadz Studio-Barber Shop
4800 Loyola, Suite 108

Best Alternative To Having A Garage Sale

If you're down to one room because the others are filled with stuff that you've been storing until you get around to having a garage sale, or because you already had a garage sale and the ordeal of it (not to mention schlepping the all of the unsold junk back into the house) made you too tired to even think about putting it all in the car to take someplace, don't worry. If you can find the phone, you can call the ARC and make arrangements to have your stuff picked up. You just have put it on your porch on the appointed day and come back to a roomy abode and a gloriously streamlined, do-gooder's life.

Association for Retarded Citizens
5726 Manchaca

Best Bike Resurrection

The bike establishment (big boys like Bicycle Sport Shop and Freewheeling) gets a lot of repair referrals. However, word of mouth led us to this small outfit. From a routine tune-up, a well-traveled Klein road bike came back almost a brand new machine. Impeccable attention to detail. Oh, and you can get some good training tips for everything from a 5K to your first Ironman.

Austin Tri-Cyclist Inc.
923 Barton Springs Rd., 512/494-9252
5555 N. Lamar, Suite C103

Best Construction In Oak Hill

It's about time literature hit the Hill, but worth the wait. Named after the late lawyer and Oak Hill advocate, this library is packed with crisp, new books, audio and video tapes, compact discs, and sometimes more squealing kiddos than a free immunization clinic. Almost makes us proud to pay our city taxes.

Austin Public Library
Terrazas Branch Library, 1105 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/472-7312
Twin Oaks Branch Library, 1800 S. Fifth
Oak Hill Branch Library, 5125 Convict Hill, 512/892-6680
Ralph W. Yarborough Library, 2200 Hancock, 512/454-7208
Will Hampton Branch Library, 5125 Convict Hill Rd.
710 W. César Chávez, 512/974-7475
www.cityofaustin.org/library

Best Country Holiday For The Pooch

We like to think our dogs are having more fun than we are when we drop them off here. Plenty of diversions - peacocks and sheep circle the kennel - and plenty of comfort in the air conditioned and heated indoor runs. The theater-in-the-round setup also gives them ample chance to meet their fellow vacationers and laugh at dogs who are getting groomed.

Driftwood Kennel
19101 FM 150

Best Drive-in Dry Cleaner

In by 9am out by 5pm. There's a cleaning plant on-site, so your clothes won't have to be sent to God-knows-where and returned three days later. Home Steam is an industrial operation, specializing in real clothes for real people cottons, denims, twills, wools and robust synthetics, clothes that you'll wear more than once. Plus, they boast reasonably priced repairs and alterations, and if you've gotten a little behind with your regular laundry, stuff it in a garbage bag and bring it down For $1.25 per pound your wash will be returned to you clean and neatly folded in plain brown wrappers. With specials on Tuesdays and Thursdays for shirts, slacks and suits, you won't have to go far to clean up your act!

Home Steam Laundry & Cleaners
2301 Manor Rd.
512/478-2586

Best Foreign Exposure

The next time you need to have your spy camera fixed try Eurotech. The whole of the experience lends itself to intrigue. Perhaps it's being peered at through barred windows before admittance, or that the place actually does business on E. Fifth. Maybe it's just that the proprietors name is Sorin (Dangerously close to Zorin, Christopher Walken's evil company in _View to a Kill_) and that Romanian sounding accent he has, actually is Romanian. It could be something to do with the fact that he defected from Romania in 1980. Either way, Eurotech has provided exemplary service for the lowest prices in town since 1994, and yes, he takes consumer cameras as well.

EuroTech Camera Service
2810 S. First
512/479-5090

Best Friend To The Bottle

Hahn gave away 60,000 bottles of out-of-date beer last year. He had acquired 5,000 cases of old beer from Shiner of Austin. Refusing payment for the beer, Hahn asked only that everyone return the bottles for him to recycle. Unfortunately, the owner of Green Guy Recycling was charged with two counts related to unlicensed sale of alcohol. The charges were later dropped.

Best Graphic Design

Who's responsible for the sprawling metal murals that adorn the walls of Little City's downtown location? Matt Hovis of Hovis Design. Integrating inspirations drawn from outside the realm of traditional design, Hovis, along with partner Kevin Whitley, are designing for such local luminaries as 15 Minutes, Club de Ville, and Threadgill's. Designs approximating art: much more than just circles and squares, trust us.

Hovis Design & Advertising
109 E. 10th

Best Lamp Resurrection

Lose that clamp that held a Luxo/swing arm lamp on your desk? Want to convert that lamp to a table lamp? The Fixture Shop sells replacement lamp parts, shades, crystal and unique gifts. The best part is leaving the dead lamp and they'll fix it.

Fixture Shop
713 W. St. Johns

photograph by John Carrico   John Carrico

photograph by John Carrico   John Carrico

Best Laundromat Attendant

Maria! We just met a laundromat lady named Maria! And suddenly it seemed our clothes smelled nice and clean again! We noticed a change for the better at our local Kwik Wash last year. The place is brighter, cleaner, less smelly, and all-around less dreary. We think Maria Cedillo is the reason. Whether we are grumpily tossing in a 7:30am earlybird load or are utilizing her affordable wash & fold service, she brightens our day. She takes a shine to regulars, and if you become one, you'll find yourself engaged in conversations with Maria and neighbors from all over the neighborhood. When we are pinched for time, we use her terrific wash & fold service. It's reasonably priced, and our clothes seem whiter, brighter, and more like when our parents did the laundry!

Kwikwash Laundry
1138 Airport, 512/929-9663
905 E. 41st

Best Local Heroes

Fires are flat out terrifying and experiencing just one can make you a compulsive air sniffer for the rest of your life. It would be much more traumatic if it weren't for the humane heroics of our city's firefighters. Courageous and compassionate, they quell fear as quickly as they quash conflagrations. Whether it's comforting terrified victims, giving a toy Dalmatian (with fire helmet) to a frightened child or providing sensible advice about what to do next, these heroes do much more than fight fires.

Austin Fire Department
92 Red River
Austin Fire Department Headquarters, 4201 Ed Bluestein, 512/974-0130
Austin Fire Department Station #7, 201 Chicon
Fire Station #11, 1605 Kinney
South Austin Fire Station, 1705 S. Congress, 512/442-6822
Fire Station #1, Fifth & Trinity, 512/974-4100
www.cityofaustin.org/fire

Best Lube Job, Dude

"Home of the Groovy Mechanics" reads the sign at their 41st & Red River location but when your car is on the fritz, groovy gets traded for good service. Yeah, yeah - it's around the corner from our office so many of our staffers use it. But that also gives us a very good notion of the many services they provide, from inspection stickers and lube jobs to major mechanical difficulties. Besides, you know how hard it is to find a good mechanic!

Express Automotive
4011 Red River
512/450-0951

Best Mystical Mechanic

His sign advertises "Metaphysical Volkswagen Repair," and we agree. (Note to selves: Is there such a thing as metaphysical Buick repair?) Owners Toby and Jacklynn Andrus specialize in good repair, a fair price, and that elusive feeling of spiritual wholeness. One friend of ours was so taken by Toby's patient explanations of her car's inner truths that she brought him a watermelon to show her gratitude. It's a rare mechanic indeed that inspires spontaneous gifts of fruit.

Underground VW
6915 Ryan Drive

Best Outdoor Wedding Venue, In Town

Both the land and the statuary for this lovely pastoral retreat at the edge of Zilker Park were donated to the city by famed sculptor Charles Umlauf. Now the city-owned and privately run garden and museum are very popular with spring and fall brides. The beautifully landscaped setting is peaceful and serene, the perfect antidote to pre-wedding jitters. Guests are enchanted by Umlauf's animals, children and wood nymphs. The garden can accommodate groups of fifteen to 275 people and the rental packages include access for photo sessions and rehearsals, a full-service catering kitchen, necessary sound permits for live music, parking security, and liability insurance. Reservations should be made with museum director Nelie Plourde a year in advance of that special day.

Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum
605 Azie Morton
512/445-5582
www.umlaufsculpture.org

Best Outdoor Wedding Venue, Rural

We knew Melanie and Mark McAffe restored this stately Victorian home of a Southern cotton magnate years ago for a wedding facility but we'd never actually seen it. In the spring we visited to sample the wedding cakes and were totally smitten by the meticulously manicured lawns. There are several outdoor areas where nuptials can be celebrated. A gingerbread cupola on the front porch offers the perfect stage for bride and groom as does a romantic trellis. They'll gladly tent an area if inclement weather threatens. They'll even hire a horse and buggy to deliver the blushing bride in perfect turn-of-the-century splendor.

The Barr Mansion
10463 Sprinkle
512/926-6907
www.barrmansion.com

Best Pampering

One Chronicle staffer who lacks a sense of smell swears that her dead olfactory nerves awaken upon entrance to Jami's domain. Make yourself an appointment for an aromatherapy facial or massage for the most relaxing, luxurious sensefest imaginable.

Jami Barnes Aromatherapy
507 Powell

Best Place To Do The Shuffle

When we asked John Salazar, Sr., how long he had been cobbling Austin shoes, he grinned and muttered, "Too long," and shuffled to the back room of the small Delwood shop to fetch his son. The affable John Salazar, Jr., with a grin as wide as his senior's proudly pointed out an old flyer for dad's original store at 2203 East Avenue, which old-timers will recall as what is now known as Manor Road. The Salazars have been at it for 30 years this year. Their speedy, friendly service is remarkably priced within means. They will find the best, most affordable way to keep your favorite loafers alive.

Sammie's Shoe Repair
3909 N. I-35, Ste. E-10
512/451-7463

Best Place To Rent A Big Honkin' Van

Personally, we pine for the days when the fleet featured nice n' banged-up cargo vans with Honest Ed's smiling mug on the side, but it seems Ed has spiffied up of late. No matter: It's still a cheap place to rent wheels when you've got to move a lot of people. Can't fit no livestock in, though-.

Honest Ed's Rent-a-Sled
725 N. Lamar
512/474-7368

Best Place To Rent A Small Honkin' Car

Their line of Plymouths will cart you all around the great State of Texas at eye-poppingly affordable prices. Day takes cash deposits and sell cars off their fleet, too.

Day Car Rental & Auto Sales
1001 N. Lamar

Best Place To Unload 1,000 Jars Of Horseradish

Last time we went to the Food Bank warehouse, there were - we're not making this up - 1,000 jars of horseradish packed on a pallet. At least those in need won't have to worry about bland sandwiches. Seriously, in 1996 the CAFB distributed over 2,800 tons of donated groceries to 233 human service agencies around central Texas, and not all of it horseradish, either. So pass the spread and a knife, sister, 'cause that's something to whinny about. 8201 South Congress Avenue, no phone as of 8/1.

Central Texas Food Bank
6500 Metroplis Dr.
6500 Metropolis, 512/282-2111
www.centraltexasfoodbank.org

Best Publicist

Publicist. The very word gives many writers and editors the willies but publicists are the reason why your favorite band/movie/book/play etc. is getting into the news. Around town, there's one who doesn't make us cringe, and that's Jill McGuckin. McGuckin started in music but has expanded to such clients as Threadgill's Cookbook and the Texas chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and she handles them all with aplomb. Hear, hear, Jill! (And thanks for introducing us to Ann Richards.)

Best Record Store Owner-Turned-Realtor

In the old days, Joe Bryson sported a very different profile around town as founder and owner of the once-beloved campus community hub, Inner Sanctum Records. Time has a way of making us all settle down though, so it was a thrill to discover that after selling the store in the Eighties, Bryson turned his business acumen to real estate and has done well enough to open his own realty office at 37th and Guadalupe, scant blocks from his former digs in his record store days. And let us tell you that having a realtor who once bucked the system successfully in an alternative business is a real plus when it comes to negotiating points on that mortgage contract...

Bryson Realty
4100 Denim

Best Seamstress

We've yet to find something this very talented woman can't do. She can copy any item of clothing she sees, make patterns, re-design an antique wedding dress to fit a tall, pregnant bride, create flamenco dance costumes for international stars, alter wardrobes depending on weight fluctuations and turn out unique bunting bags every time our friends have babies. She's fast, she's cheerful and she sews like a dream.

Best Self-indulgent Babying

Okay, it's not quite Austin, but it's worth the trip and one visit to this sweet and soothing little skin salon will more than erase the tensions you build up making that 183 drive (even if you do it every day). Owner/operator Tina Scheidler knows skin and her results justify her salon's name. If you're showing the ravages of the Texas sun, the accumulation of too many birthdays or the burden of bad skin genes, drive (crawl if you have to!) to Baby Face.

Baby Face
200 S. Bell
Cedar Park

Best Service Station To Pretend That You Still Live In A Tiny Town

This is fine place to go experience a taste of small town Austin. On our most recent visit we whiled away our wait watching the comings and goings at the service desk and eavesdropping on the conversations- one particularly juicy story involved a large bandage a butcher knife and a nearly severed thumb - eeeeyikes! We do love a good wound story. The gentleman working the counter seemed to know (and like) everyone.Service rendered with a smile. This is a true neighborhood station- never mind that the neighborhood is Airport and I35. By the time our car was ready we were (almost) sad to go. Next time you need that routine car maintenance taken care of give ol Gene a try- you'll be glad you did.

Chevron
30 N. I-35, 512/473-5113
M.E. Gene Johnson Garage, 4801 Airport, 512/453-7376

photograph by John Carrico   John Carrico

Best Thing In A Tool Belt

If we had a hammer we'd still call upon Garland to do any remodels on our homes. Be it built-in cabinetry or a major renovation, Garland's artistry and design sense come through in the finished product. An addition is about a whole lot more than just extra square footage; with Garland it's about style, details and capturing an era. Beautiful, high end carpentry is his business and, judging by the work we've seen, his love.

Best Voice Mail Service

The strange thing is, you can order voice mail with a local Austin number and end up with a service headquartered someplace like Phoenix. Voice Mail Plus, based in nearby Dripping Springs, is not only a chance to go local, but one of the more tested and word-of-mouth praised virtual phone services around. The basic service is about the same as the big nationals, and their more deluxe options does basically everything short of talking to creditors for you.

Best Way To Stay Fresh In The Heat

This bath and body mecca includes treasures to refresh and revive even the most dire heat victim. Offering materials such as pure cotton and Irish handkerchief linen and scents such as Wisteria and Sweet Pea, La Provence keeps you cool during those Dog Days. Not to be outdone by the merchandise, owners Tracy Baudoin and Anne Guerin offer personalized service that is a luxury in itself. From $20-200, La Provence has something for every overheated body.

La Provence
701 S. Capital of Texas
2414 Exposition

 
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