1999 Readers Poll
1999 Critics Picks
Best Birkenstock Repair

Need a new soul? Try the Church of Christ. Need your ratty old sandals fixed? Try In Step, the only store in Austin that specializes in Birkenstock repair. And if your footwear is too far gone, they have a large selection of new merchandise to help ease the pain of the loss.

Best Bones About It

Did your dog have a breakthrough with her therapist this morning? Then why not take her to Austin's finest pets-only eatery for some freshly baked longhorn-shaped or Texas-shaped biscuits (available in beef, chicken, peanut butter, and apple-cinnamon flavor)? Maybe she'd prefer a personalized bone dipped in carob and sprinkled with nuts, with your own special message inscribed in frosting. Why say it with flowers when you can say it with beef ears (smoked or natural flavor)? Or try our personal favorite, the "Fetch & Feast": a dog pizza pie served in an inverted flying disc.

Bone Appetit Bakery
8820 Burnet

Best Chain Supermarket Store Location

Face it. With the news that Safeway has recently bought Randalls for over a billion dollars, big supermarkets are here to stay. But this shopping experience doesn't always have to be cold and impersonal. In fact, some stores actually serve as a neighborhood's central hub, a place where a true cross section of folks are found. The HEB on South Congress is such a place. Both the shoppers and employees come from the same neighborhood pool, so the atmosphere is open and unpretentious. Oh yeah, they have a huge selection and cheap prices, too.

7015 Village Center Dr., 512/502-8445
2400 S. Congress, 512/442-2354
2701 E. Seventh, 512/478-7328
10710 Research #200, 512/794-8221
6900 Brodie, 512/891-8900
11521 FM 620 N., 512/249-0558
2508 E. Riverside, 512/448-3544
201 FM 685 N., Pflugerville, 512/251-0002
1080 E. 290, Elgin, 512/285-4168
500 Canyon Ridge Dr., 512/973-8143
5808 Burnet, 512/453-8864
7112 Ed Bluestein #125, 512/926-1491
9414 N Lamar, 512/835-5400
600 W. William Cannon, 512/447-5544
6001 W. Parmer, 512/249-0400
5800 W. Slaughter, 512/301-9770

Best Collectible Posters

Watching David Bowie's head spin makes us giddy. Known for its extensive collection of collectible vinyl, Treasured Tracs poster selection is sometimes overlooked. Offering both vintage and new, movie and music, this store caters to the avid collector as well as to the poor college kid in need of wallpaper. Elvis, Marilyn, and Bart are all waiting side by side to be taken off the rack and pinned against your wall. Can't find what you're looking for? Just ask. The guy behind the counter and his young assistant amazingly keep track of all these treasures.

Best Healing Atmosphere

Hosting one of the largest selections of bulk herbs in town (340 different types), the Herb Bar is a veritable garden of delight. Helping people easily utilize the healing effects of these herbs is a goal of this privately owned store. They carry books and products for using color, aroma, and herb therapies, as well as tinctures created for a variety of ailments and herbs made for the critical tastes of kids. Various other natural products are available for housecleaning, killing fleas, or body care. The Herb Bar also has a section of essential oils which the customer can form into his or her own personal fragrance.

The Herb Bar
200 W. Mary

Best Local Soap

If cleanliness is next to godliness, then this soap is just one wash away from heaven. Pungent with rosemary and other essential oils, this simple amber bar, handcrafted by Sarah Nitsch, is a miracle of ablution. It might not make your hair talk, but if it did, that hair would say, "Wow! I've never felt so damn clean before!" And the rest of you? It would happily concur.

Natural Magic
5209 Martin

Best Music Matchup In The Galaxy

These two unrelated music ventures - the mega Mars Music mart and the impressively stocked independent CD and vinyl shop Jupiter Records - reside in the same solar system: Hancock Center. Do we detect a pattern here? There is some retail space left at Hancock- How can etherial entrepreneurial types resist? Venus Furs, anyone? Neptune's Seafood? Mercury Thermometers? Fine. We're all for it - as long as no joker comes up with one for the seventh planet -

Best Musician's Instrument Shop

Austin prides itself on being a comfortable, friendly, musical place to live. And if there is one establishment in town that cements this impression for both out-of-towners and natives alike, it's the multi-instrument shop above the Continental Club. Mainstays Steve and Gary will not only give you top-notch advice and a square deal on their chock-full-o'-goodies inventory of preowned and new equipment (Moogs, sitars, Gretsch, etc.), but they also offer excellent repairs on everything from cracked acoustics to broken necks on African lutes.

One World Music
1313 S. Congress

Best Place For Busy Bees

Frank Hunt calls it a hobby that got out of hand. Since 1972, his queens and workers have produced veritable tons of pure, raw honey which he sells in three-pound mason jars from the front of his furniture restoration business right off Guadalupe. The Health Department now says he has to move the hives to the country, but the buzz is that his small supply of mint-tasting honey, beeswax, and candles will continue to fly off the shelves.

Best Place For Young Men To Shop For High-maintenance Women

Any man that tells you he's in Melange or By George's San Gabriel location shopping for his girlfriend is a liar. Looking for a girlfriend maybe, but not purchasing for one. Savvy suitors know that finding attractive, smart, well-dressed, and approachable women in either clothier is easy - convincing them you have what it takes to keep up with their taste, sophistication, and sense of style may be another story, though. And if browsing the evening wear racks for a date sounds sleazy, at least know you're in good company - you'll see plenty of freshly minted Dellionares, real-estate types, and even Lyle Lovett himself (at By George) "shopping" right alongside you.

By George
524 N. Lamar

500 N. Lamar

Best Place To Buy Hemp Necklaces

Designing you own necklace has never been so easy. They have countless numbers of beads, shells, pendants, and rocks to help make any anklet, necklace, or bracelet meet your fancy. And for those of you who don't know how to make your own hemp necklace, the employees here are happy to make it for you. The Austin Bead Shoppe also offers a wide variety of supplies for making hemp jewelry in your own spare time.

Austin Bead Shoppe
2102 S. Lamar

Best Place To Buy Men's Resale Clothes

We hate to give this secret away, but how many Ralph Lauren shirts can a closet hold? The beauty of buying at The Shoppe is that many of the shirts come already dry cleaned and ready to wear to almost any occasion. Great prices, good selection, and support for good causes add up to great purchasing power, especially for skinny wallets.

Junior League's The Shoppe
6555 Burnet Rd.

Best Place To Drink Your Way Around The World

This new wine and liquor market off MoPac is stocked by the former wine buyer at Central Market - and a cool and classy repository for the oenophile it is. Have yourself an expertly guided sipping tour, beginning perhaps with a full, chewy Argentinean Malbec called Miguel Gascon, or perhaps an Australian Cabernet/Shiraz blend that goes by the name Buckley. For those of you planning to bring in the new millennium in style, there's a Krug champagne that'll set you back $250. When completely stocked, Grape Vine will house the largest selection of Italian wines in the country. A knowledgeable staff will remove any intimidation you may feel among such an array, and you can fortify yourself with delectables from the deli.

Best Place To Find The Mother-in-law A Gift

Every item in Eva Roots is a unique, quality piece, reflecting the exquisite taste of its well-traveled proprietress. When you really want to wow your significant other's mother, take a spin around the jam-packed interior of this upscale-funky little shop in far North Austin. The owner periodically jaunts around the globe and hand-selects big and little treasures to bring back to you. Appropriate a little of this hand-crafted and exotic taste next time you want to endear yourself to Endora.

Eva Roots
9901 N Hwy Loop 360

Best Place To Indulge Your Fabio Fantasies

Some of us are learning to accept old age gracefully and find we are no longer ashamed to indulge our formerly secret love of romance novels. Unfortunately, it's expensive, as the price of paperbacks continues to spiral. All the better then that Book Exchange lets you trade in your romances, or mysteries, or westerns, or biographies. They're picky - a clerk confessed that they couldn't take any more Danielle Steele - but the idea of being able to trade in the book it took two days by the pool to read is very appealing. Plus, you can see a lot of man titties on those covers.

Book Exchange
7411 Burnet

Best Place To Mug At Surveillance Cameras

They're everywhere, you know, and lots of them. You can't even see most of them because they're tucked into ferns or family portraits or your girlfriend's bra. Get up to speed with the latest in Big Brother technology at this store that specializes in James Bond, oops, we mean Austin Powers paraphernalia. Really scary stuff. Learn how to vanish without a trace, how to get anything on anybody, how to pick locks. They've got it all, Flint: bionic ears, blowguns, CIA shirts, pen blades - whoa.

Spy Exchange and Security Center
9513 Burnet Rd. #101

Best Place To Sup & Shop

The blossoming of South Congress Avenue continues unabated. It is now the premier strip to peruse and partake. Longtime retail residents such as Off the Wall, Uncommon Objects, The Armadillo Market, Rue's, and others have been joined by relative newcomers Pieces of the Past and New Bohemia. And the variety of places to fortify oneself while shopping for the truly wonderful is staggering. While the choices offered by Magnolia Cafe, Fran's, TFB, Shaggy's, and Güero's have made choosing difficult before, the additions of the wonderful Liberty Pie and the hip Vespaio make this street a diner's paradise. We know of no better place to satisfy two of our most urgent pleasures.

Best Place To Swing From The Chandeliers

Geronimoooo. Okay, okay, we admit it: The folks at Tipler's won't let you swing from their chandeliers. But if they did - whoo boy - you'd be swingin' in style. Glass, brass, crystal, and more. With almost 400 chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, this West Fifth purveyor of lovely lamptitude has everything a latter-day Tarzan could ask for, from humble little pretties to gaudy glass gaslights from 1920s France. It's mighty tempting to jump up and take a ride, but with prices running from a hundred bucks to the low five figures, we think we'll just stay on the floor.

Tipler's Lamp Shop
1204 W. Fifth

Best Place To Think Globally & Act Locally

Mitchie's is more than your average specialty art gallery and custom framing shop. While carrying a most impressive array of fine black art and literature from around the globe, Mitchie's Fine Black Art is also a great place to learn about what's going on right here in Austin's African-American community. Yet, it's even more than that: With a row of shops within the new Manor Road location, inside Mitchie's is a place to get your hair plaited, no matter the hair type (Braids From Africa), to have a totally custom Afro-centric attire created or your current wardrobe altered (Gussie's Corner), to check out the latest and greatest hard-to-come-by gospel recordings (BJ's Gospel Music), to bring the kids for storytime (Saturday's, 1-2pm), to hear the raves of the Ebony Poet Society (the last Saturday of each month, 4-6pm), and even to get that traffic ticket wiped off your record (Rapid Defensive Driving). This beacon in north East Austin is the labor of love of Joyce Hunt, a local entrepreneur and de facto anti-drunk-driving activist, who named this shop for her son, a determined young man who survived a horrific car accident.

Mitchie's Gallery
7801 N. Lamar Ste. B-148

Best Reason To Wait In Line At Whole Foods

Last time we checked, her roots were purple. She reminds us of that poem "When I Grow Old I Shall Wear Purple," but Nant Z's too young to be old; in fact she's exactly the right vintage. She's also a delight at the cash register, friendly without being too perky, doesn't wear any extraneous hardware where it doesn't belong, and is professional to a T. Chamomile tea, of course, since this is Whole Foods.

Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market Gateway, 9607 Research #300, 512/345-5003
Whole Foods Market Downtown, 525 N. Lamar, 512/476-1206
Whole Foods Market Arbor Trails, 4301 W. William Cannon, 512/358-2460
Whole Foods Market Bee Cave, 12601 Hill Country Blvd, Bee Cave, 512/206-2730
Whole Foods Market Domain, 11920 Domain Dr., 512/831-3981

Best Shop For The Wearin' Of The Green

Actually, a corny phrase like "wearing of the green" has little to do with the wonderful selection of arts, books, CDs, crafts, T-shirts, jewelry, musical instruments, and more from various Celtic countries. There are no chubby-cheeked leprechauns in green bowler hats and they don't sell Guinness - but you can buy a harp! They also stock books on learning Scottish, a Gaelic League T-shirt, or an Irish cross. They also host lectures and classes in various Celtic interests; as the local Celtic community grows, look for this to become an ersatz cultural center.

Things Celtic
1806 W. 35th

Best Totally Fly Shop

For angling with a challenge (no bait buckets here), these folks have led the movement in the metro area since 1980. They were the first shop in the entire state of Texas specializing in fly fishing only. Stocked with an incredible selection of sage advice, flies, rods, reels, and all the accoutrements. Introductory clinics, casting classes, fly tying clinics, fishing trip bookings, and guides. Just tell them where you're fishing, and they'll show you what works. Tight lines and loops - they'll teach you how!

The Austin Angler
312 1/2 Congress

Best Unexpected Place For Wedding Rings

Who would've thought to find jewelry, much less some of the most stunning innovations for officially plighting one's troth, in a place better known for its take on functional ceramics and larger art forms? Gold, silver, diamonds, so much of all that glitters forged into breathtaking circles of precious metal by the likes of artisans Stephen Dixon, Kate Pearce, and George Sawyer. Holy matrimony, Batman! We've stumbled upon The Nuptialator's secret hideout!

Clarksville Pottery & Gallery
4001 N. Lamar #200

Best Weekly Carnival Atmosphere

Tired feet wander over warm concrete as dust wafts in. "$3 for Photo with Monkey," "Bunny Rabbit $15: Good for Stew or Pet" "Ab Roller Plus $2, (only a little damaged)" "Hot Steamed Corn," "Any Key Copied - No Refunds." Plus, they sell that weird, white decal stuff we always see on pickup trucks with ground effects. A buck a carload? It's more than worth the trip, even if we do not see any fleas.

Austin Country Flea Mart
9500 Hwy. 290 E.

Finest Array Of 40 Oz. Malt Liquors

This West Campus wonder has it all: Mickey's, Mickey's "Ice," Hurricane, Red Dog, Olde English 800, Big Bear, Colt 45, Miller High Life, Schlitz Malt Liquor Red Bull, Carta Blanca, Schlitz Malt Liquor BLUE Bull, King Cobra, Country Club, Crazy Horse, Magnum. All of them neck-deep in chests of ice and conveniently located near the checkout counter for impulse buying. Just remember to get a paper bag, or it'll slip right out of your hand.

Grande Food Mart
2706 Rio Grande

Most Aromatic Come-on

While the expertly chosen South American merchandise is alluring enough to get us into this meandering gallery of treasures, it is the pungent aroma as the door is opened when we walk by that makes it irresistible. The citrus potpourri is made on site and it is as beautiful as it is fragrant. Dried blood oranges, cinnamon, and chili peppers are combined in this perfect hostess/housewarming gift. We've been very popular when we come bearing this gift.

Mi Casa Gallery
1700 S. Congress

Most Practical Clothing

We generously offer our own jingle free of charge: Flames to the left of me/Eyeballs to the right/Here I am/Stuck in Work Clothes & More!!! So maybe we should stick to newspapers, but boy, does this place know how to serve the working crowd. Working attire is more than a blue collar these days. Working in style requires Quicksilver, von Dutch, and Dickies. And for the worker who wants to slack, the racks are stacked with Hawaiian shirts. This is the place for farmers, construction workers, and even shiny happy punks to find high-quality clothing. But as the name suggests, there is more: jewelry, satchels, and errrrrr, more.

Work Clothes & More
1613 West Ben White

Most Unusual Glasses

From cat's eyes to Buddy Holly frames, Santa Fe Optical has the prescription for fabulous eyewear. The little store near Kerbey Lane offers an impressive collection of hard-to-find styles to suit anyone from the conservative businessman to the pierced punk. We recommend asking for assistance: The help is wonderful.

Santa Fe Optical
1601 West 38th Street #8

Critics: Services
1999 Intro

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