1999 Readers Poll
1999 Critics Picks
Best Animal Rescue Story

The three-and-a-half-foot alligator was captured in Town Lake in May. He was destined for a private alligator farm when local citizens rallied to his aid and persuaded Texas Parks & Wildlife officials to send him to a wildlife sanctuary instead of risking that he'd ultimately end up in a restaurant or boot manufacturer. TP&WD report that Snappy is safe and happy where he will live wild and free.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Rd.

Best Bail Bonds

For once, dialing the first number you see in the Yellow Pages is your best bet. Zamora's Triple A has been singled out for praise by many in the local community. "They do it the right way," says one. All praise their honest, trustworthy way of conducting business - which is certainly the first thing you look for in a bail bond company.

AAA Bail Bonds, R Zamora, Inc.
1609 Nueces

Best Combination Car Repair Shop/Taxidermy Museum

It's fortunate that students in West Campus, so many of whom are away from home for the first time, have such a trustworthy and efficient car repair place within easy walking distance. It's also fortunate that those students, so many of whom are experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs for the first time, have a chance to see this amazing menagerie of stuffed hunting trophies, some of which seem to date from an earlier evolutionary epoch. Is that thing over the counter a badger? A beaver? A wolverine?

Chote's Chevron
500 W. MLK

Best Free Advice When Your Slumlord Witholds Your Deposit

With the cost of living and real estate in Austin constantly escalating, it's good to know that there's an organization dedicated to giving dwelling hoppers the lowdown on the law and the feasible when a landlord exersizes his/her "right" to be an abusive ass. The ATC provides free telephone counseling weekdays, 9am-noon and 1-4pm.

Austin Tenants Council
1640B E. Cesar Chavez, #150

Best Friend When You're Buying A Used Car

Apprehensive about dropping a massive wad of cash on a shiny little pig in a poke? Invest in a diagnostic exam by Lemonbusters. Will the tranny go south in six weeks? Odometer rolled back? How can you know, oh neophyte car buyer? Before you drain Junior's college fund, let Lemonbusters crawl inside the beast and give you a detailed report on exactly what's wrong and what's right with that little red corvette. The mechanic angels at Lemonbusters spared us the huge expense of taking on a gas-sucking money pit. Allow them to save you, too.

Lemon Busters
8910 Research Blvd.

Best Misnamed Post Office

These post office names hark back to an earlier, smaller Austin, and they've got to be confusing as hell for newcomers. At one time 45th Street must have been Austin's north border. Then Austin grew. Now "North Austin Station" at 43rd & Speedway serves Central Austin. Bluebonnet station, near Research, is equally confusing. It's a name that conjures up lush rolling hills, plentiful flowers, and a white clapboard P.O. run by a Eudora Welty character. Yet the bluebonnets are far outnumbered by the number of cars passing daily on Braker Lane.

United States Post Office
510 Guadalupe, 512/494-2200
1914 E. Sixth
3903 S. Congress, 800/275-8777
9001 Tuscany Way, 512/342-1355
2883 Hwy. 71 E., Del Valle, 512/385-7902

Best Mobile Bike Service

The "Dr." in Dr. Bike is not a prefix to be taken lightly. In our modern world, Dr. Bike is one of those rare mavericks whose desire to serve goes above and beyond the call of duty. We prefer to think of him as not just a doctor, but a veritable bike repair superhero. With a single phone call, Dr. Bike will race to your rescue in his snazzy Dr. Bike bus, a full-fledged bike repair shop on four wheels. Along with his trusty Dr. Bike dog, this fabulous physicist and physician tends to the dire needs of your bike right in front of your home, where you can watch the repairs take place and ask him questions as he operates. Above all, Dr. Bike understands what only a true doctor can - that your bicycle is more than just a two-wheeled metal frame, it's a dear friend and a trusty steed that needs sincere, compassionate care.

Dr. Bike
(mobile service no address)

Best Opposite End Of The Spectrum Auto Repair

The haves and the have-nots are both given true separate but equal treatment at this South Austin auto repair shop par excellence. Terry and his wife Debbie cater exclusively to BMWs and Volvos. While we know several more Volvo owners than BMW owners, both are given truly personal service to keep them in tip-top shape. If your pocketbook doesn't allow for tip-top shape on that 150,000+ miles Swedish tank, he'll keep it running for you at a performance level acceptable to both of you. In their other life, Terry and Debbie are spelunkers of sorts; they explore caves in the Borderlands in search of pictographs and petroglyphs, which makes for interesting reading as you wait.

Terry Sayther Automotive
1606 Fort View

Best Organic Lawn Service

Admit it. We're hooked on our lush green outdoor carpets. Can love alone make our grass grow better? Can full moon rituals? Voodoo ceremonies? Classical music? Earnest prayer? Unfortunately no research has been done in any of these areas, but it has been proven that nothing works better or cheaper to produce beautiful healthy grass than organic fertilization. LiveLawn has the best program available. Saves water, too.


Best People To Help Contact Your Ancestors

Nope, we don't organize a seance. When we're looking for information about great-great-great granddaddy's Confederate Army pension, trying to find which ship brought our ancestors to American shores, or just need help loading a roll of microfilm into the viewer so we can spend hours looking at old census records, the friendly and helpful staff at this remarkable resource library are always ready and willing to help.

Texas State Library & Archives, Geneology Collection
1201 Brazos

Best Place To Air Your Dirty Laundry

Before hiring an attorney at $100 an hour to take that pesky ex-spouse or shady business to court, consider spending $35 for a mediator to try to find a solution. More than 5,000 cases have been mediated by the nonprofit group over the past six years, with 80-85% of them reaching an agreement without going to court.

Dispute Resolution Center
5407 N. I-35, Ste. 410

Best Place To Feel Insured

Mother Seton's goal was to help the poor. The Daughters of Charity are continuing her mission by making quality health care for the working poor a reality. They provide primary health care for adults and children, immunizations, parenting classes, diabetes education, counseling, and more for those lacking the safety net of government-sponsored services. All services are offered on a sliding scale. And all provided by a caring and knowledgeable staff.

Seton Hospital
2811 E. Second

Best Place To Fine-tune Your Hi-fi

Inherited an antique Macintosh, run into a battered Thorens, or searching for a pristine Marantz? Whether you're looking to refurbish a piece you have or locate a hard-to-find item, Circle Stereo is the place. We love proprietor Bill Green's patience and passion for turntables and vintage stereo equipment. His prices are reasonable, his knowledge immense, and his shop busy. So call ahead and schedule a time to bring in your little baby.

Circle Stereo
500 Springlake Dr.
Dripping Springs

Best Place To Get Your Radiator Fixed

Fast and cheap when it comes to car repairs, especially radiator repairs in the boiling (over) heat of Central Texas, is the nicest thing you could say about a shop. Courteous, quick, and affordable, The Radiator Shop will help you and your car keep cool on the mean and crowded streets of Austin.

The Radiator Shop
9904 Gray Blvd Sute A

Best Place To Learn All Kinds Of Stuff

Hang glide! Belly dance! Be a shaman. A horse whisperer. A weatherman. Learn to rock climb. Or to watercolor. Or to tattoo. Get on the radio. Tell stories. Compute. Learn how to travel free, trek the Himalayas, and get paid what you're worth. Wanna be a private eye? A songwriter? A gardener? Cook! Feng shui! Lose weight! Read auras. Read palms. Read music. Wow. Look for the chock-full of goodies brochure all over town.

University of Texas at Austin
727 E. Dean Keeton, 512/471-3434
Sarah M. & Charles E. Seay Building, Speedway & Dean Keeton, 512/471-1157
UT Architecture Library, 200 Battle Hall, 512/495-4620
University of Texas Department of Art & Art History, 2301 San Jacinto, 512/475-7718

Best Place To Spend A 20¢ Stamp & Find Someone Who Cares

Do you ever go on long, exotic vacations, to say, Hot Springs, and realize that friends just don't want to hear about it? Well, if you are hankering for eager listeners who will appreciate your travel tales, mail a postcard to the nice folks at Travel Fest, and they'll pin it up on their bulletin boards. Voila! You're an expert! You have a whole new audience for your stories about line-dancing in Estonia and meeting the King at a quaint wedding chapel in Vegas.

Travelfest Superstores, Inc.
1214 W. Sixth

Best Reason To Get Poked In The Eyes

It works! The success ratio is impressive. It has a lifetime guarantee. It is just a matter of time before this procedure is so routine that it becomes a rite of passage for young adults, and a gift of clear sight for those older who have been wearing glasses or contact lenses all their lives. Austin has world-class facilities with several highly qualified specialists performing this simple, painless procedure. What you hear about it is true. It's amazing.

Howerton Eye & Laser Surgical Center

Texan Eye Care
1700 S. MoPac

Austin Eye Clinic Association

Best Reason To Leave The Pets Home Alone

Peggy Alexander (our dogs know her as Peggy the Pet Sitter) has that special connectedness with animals. That's reassuring to those of us who are skittish about leaving our beloved critters behind. Those anxieties disappear as soon as Peggy walks through the door for her initial visit. The lengthy questionnaire she has you fill out appears formidable at first, but asks all the particulars about your pets - everything from Mugsy's quirky behavior patterns to Baby's favorite toys and where the cleaning supplies are in case there's an accident. This is followed up with a "comfort call" on the day before you leave town, and followed up once again with a personalized note upon your return. All told, this is one fetching pet sitter.

Alexander's Particular Pets
1802 Kinney Ave.

Best Store Greeter

Donna and Harry DeFoy's store has survived in the era of warehouse discounters because of their great central location and because they provide the kind of personal service only a family business can. Gus DeFoy proves this every day, making customers feel at ease, listening to (if not exactly understanding) customers' needs, taking frequent naps to allow undisturbed shopping, and offering his tummy for scratching. Did we mention that Gus is a basset hound?

Twin Oaks Hardware
1902 S. Congress

Best Student Travel Source

Once out of school, you usually have the money to travel but not the time. Being a student means the opposite: time with no cash. Next to having a bake sale, the best way for students to make their traveling ends meet is to visit Council Travel. Informative and pleasant, their staff will help you with all of your traveling needs, be it an international student ID, money belt, Eurail pass, or plane ticket to Lubbock. Discounted student-rate tickets are available to boot.

Council Travel
2002 Guadalupe

Best Toyota Mechanic

Watching Mark Larkin work on cars is like witnessing a one-person Indy crew - perfectly choreographed poetry in motion (plus he and Teresa now sell gently used Toyotas as well). Mark books by appointment only, guarantees his work, and fixes only what's necessary. One food critic drives an '83 pickup with 438,000 miles on the odometer - it runs like it's brand-new, and Mark's the only one who's ever worked on it. Testify!

An Honest Mechanic
121 Pickle Rd.

Choo-chooinest Railroad Fix

As we contemplated a visit to friends and relatives in Dallas, we considered our transportation options. Driving seemed tiresome after a long day at the salt mines, flying too cumbersome and expensive. Then we checked with Amtrak and hit paydirt. For an extremely modest fare, we left Austin at 10:30am and leisurely rolled into Dallas at 4:45pm. No, this trip isn't for slaves to the clock, but the trip is the thing. The seats are veritable Barca loungers with ample leg room. There's a glorious sightseeing car with swivel lounge chairs, a snack bar stocked with wine, beer, and the like, and a swanky dining car complete with white linens and fresh flowers. The return trip is equally convenient (3pm departure, 9pm arrival). We now look for any excuse to head to Big D on a big train.

250 N. Lamar

Craftiest Tailor

Know anything about French weaving? How about inweaving? Neither do we. But no problem, because Martha knows - and does - it all. From simple stitching to complex weaving, it's all in a day's work for this clothing surgeon. And not only does Martha tailor well, her fine craftswork comes with an affordable price and a genuine "you're a part of the family" smile. So don't get rid of those pants with the ripped seam - take 'em to Martha's and turn it into a treasure.

Martha's Tailor Shop
1900 East Oltorf, Suite 113

Most Enlightened Exterminator

With the exception of Kitty Kestenbaum, adjectives like "enlightened" or "proactive" aren't often associated with exterminators. Kestenbaum is out to save the planet - and you from indulging your worst instincts, one knee-jerk reach for the toxins at a time. The concept: know your critters' lifestyle preferences and render your house inhospitable. Strategic caulking and maintenance, perhaps a sand barrier - and you can lose the pesticides. So sensible. Why do your family in just to off a few bugs?

Term-Trol Exterminating Co.
8908 Georgian

Tenderest Tlc For Appliances

When our antique vacuum cleaner coughs, or when our avocado-colored clothes dryer starts moaning, we don't pitch it on the curb for bulk pickup. We take it straight to Weldon at Long's Vacuum and know he will give it the care and attention more typical of a cardiac patient in an ER. If his expert ministration cannot revive the expired appliance, we know we're due to purchase a first-rate new vacuum or an expertly rebuilt and guaranteed dryer from among his choice selection.

Long's Vacuum Cleaner Co.
2118 S. Congress

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