1999 Readers Poll
1999 Critics Picks
Best Bar Snacks

Where else but Austin's only London-style pub will you find burgers, quesadillas, and nachos on the same menu with Bubble & Squeak, Fish & Chips, Bangers & Mash, and a Ploughman's Lunch? Nowhere else on planet Earth that we know of. Y'all grab a Shiner Bock and some Scotch eggs and stay awhile, mate!

Best Bar Staff

This popular downtown joint refers to itself as a "cocktail lounge," and the staff appears dedicated to the proposition that patrons are there to enjoy expertly prepared mixed drinks. Here's our toast to Mendy Frolich, David Dart, Davis Comeau, John Nordstrom, Jamie Schroeder, Kevin Radican, Michael Nowlin, and Sam Williams. Salúd!

Best Casual Joint

Remember when your friend's parents redecorated their basement, all soft funky chairs and disco lights and a killer bar at one end? That's what you've got here, distilled, downtown, and with an outdoor section like Uncle Joe's backyard. (But triple the size of that old haunt inside, and behind the bar, a cadre of booze jockeys with skills a-go-go.) At Club DeVille, you don't turn on the lights: Shadows hang here in profusion, easing the eyes like a visual martini.

Best Country Music Club

You can't get much deeper in that ol' heart of Texas than the Broken Spoke, long a legend amongst classic honky-tonk dance halls. Good folks been dressing ornamental and two-stepping here since 1964, and for nine years, y'all been voting it the best, and you can bet the farm on that.

Broken Spoke
3201 S. Lamar

Best Dance Music Club

David Cassidy is still in his prime in the warehouse district's Polly Esther's Seventies fancy-wancey dance club. Which is a good thing if you never got rid of your lovebeads and smiley faces, baby. This is your club. We are family. Peace-out.

Best Downtown Club

Weathering the recent storm-troop tactics of infernal revenuers and the threat of vertical bars for founder Clifford Antone, this club continues to earn its blues licks as a don't-miss-it venue rocking our casbah year after year. It may well be the samurai of Austin clubs.

Best Drink Specials/Happy Hour

After more than 20 years of success in Austin, it's no secret that Trudy's has lots of things going for it: wonderful burgers, stellar margaritas, award-winning hot sauces, the list goes on and on.Trudy's is especially the place to be at happy hour, when their exemplary house margaritas are cheaper by one American dollar and they knock 50¢ off the price of the fancy drinks and all the beer. What a deal! All this and award-winning hot sauce to go with the chips. We're there.

Trudy's North Star, 8820 Burnet Rd., 512/454-1474
Trudy's South Star, 901-C Little Texas Ln., 512/326-9899

Best Gay/Lesbian Club

What more is there to mention about this mecca for tight pecs - the groovy backyard patio or Cher's "I Believe in Love?" All are synonymous with Oilcan's laid back fun times and help keep the effects of that rose-hued lighting dancing in your brain even the morning after.

211 W. Fourth

Best Jukebox

An unerringly slick assortment of the newest and latest, as well as the most eclectic and least hidebound collection of "oldies" in town: MC5! George Jones! X-Ray Spex! Roland Kirk! Motley Crue! Small Faces! Cab Calloway! Love! Shangri-Las! Repo Man! Eric Dolphy! Mott the Hoople! Temptations! Adverts! KISS! Big Joe Turner! Pere Ubu! Clovers! Flamin' Groovies! Eno! AC/DC! Captain Beefheart! Etta James! New York Dolls! Sonny Boy Williams! The Nuggets comp! Roger Miller! Robert Mitchum's Calypso! Psychedelic Furs! Mötorhead! Planet of the Apes soundtrack! Who the hell needs live music anyway?

Casino el Camino
517 E. Sixth

Best Movie Programming

Sold out - but still committed! Longtime Dobie kingpin Scott Dinger passed his reins to a new corporate owner, Landmark, amongst much fear and loathing in the Austin film community. So far, so good. They rode the Blair Witch hype broom to death, but have still managed to stay the course, and we're breathing easier knowing those Phantom Menace Iceberg Blockbusters will stay in the megaplexes. We luvvvvv our independents!

Best Movie Theatre

While the idea of dinner theatre (mediocre food and a play featuring fading TV stars) has gone the way of the dinosaur, this downtown cinema reinvents the concept with top-notch nibbles and a choice lineup of flicks. Readers all slapped their foreheads and said, "duh" when it opened, and now they queue up at every opportunity.

Alamo Drafthouse
Alamo Drafthouse Village, 2700 W. Anderson #701, 512/861-7030
Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, 1120 S. Lamar, 512/861-7040
Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane, 5701 W. Slaughter, 512/861-7060
Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline, 14028 Hwy. 183 N., 512/861-7070

Best Non-downtown Club

From vintage car shows in front, hot damn music inside, and cozy intermissions out back, this quintessential South Congress hangout attracts all types. Local songstress Toni Price showcases Tuesdays, but our readers say it's hard to go wrong any night of the week.

Continental Club
1315 S. Congress

photo by John Anderson

Best Other Club

Jay Clark, everyone's favorite one-man band, retired from his regular Carousel gig last summer, and this Austin mainstay has fallen from the dizzying heights of hipness it represented in previous years. But it remains what it has always been - a secret little hideaway of hip, a clean and ill-lit place that attracts people of all ages, classes, tastes, and persuasions. The carnivalesque atmosphere is aided immeasurably by the fact that the Carousel is set up for set-ups and BYOB.

Carousel Lounge
1110 E. 52nd

Best Place To Meet A Blind Date

Well, of course it is. The darkly-wooded, rambling interior where you purchase coffee drinks and various comestibles, the vast under-the-trees-and-stars open patio, the central campus location: perfect for providing comfort in what might be a somewhat awkward situation: "Hi, are you Sylvia? I thought that might be you. What? Mark? No, my name is Charles!" The arachnoid name is supposed to give you the creeps, says co-owner Conrad; the place itself won't.

2908 Fruth

Best Place To Meet Your Friends

"Party of one" is a tough concept to swallow, but at least it's easy to seat. Now, party of 20, that's a different story. While Trudy's doesn't take reservations, they are most accommodating to groups large or small. And, even if it's busy and you're required to wait in the bar for a seat, they hand you this neat-o-keen-o flashing light thingy to tell you when your table is ready. We get all swirly just thinking about it!

Trudy's North Star, 8820 Burnet Rd., 512/454-1474
Trudy's South Star, 901-C Little Texas Ln., 512/326-9899

Best Pub

Whether it's trolling for celebrities like Quentin T., a stop for a pint of Guinness, or the occasional need for a little bagpipe music, the Dog & Duck Pub is a dark little haven worthy of praise. (Except for their TV commercials. Oh lordy, do those things grate! If you're smart and you mute before that demented singing starts, you can just get a look at some local near-celebs like Steve Chaney and Hunter Darby.) But mostly, the Dog & Duck is great ale, good burgers, low ceilings, bad lighting, and poor ventilation - just like a real limey pub!

Best Retail Beer & Wine

The enormous selection of singles (you might as well try the Fat Tire Ale when you're not in for a six-pack) make this the candy store of beer retailers. Informal and witty notes on featured wines ("So dry and unfiltered it'll make you cry") lead neophytes and connoisseurs alike to the new and undiscovered in the fruit of the vine.

Central Market North
4001 N. Lamar

Best Swanky Joint

There are very few places in Austin where a double-parked limo out front isn't completely pretentious. Sullivan's is one of them. Come with your red-meat appetite in place and your martini buds primed. The other place is the sneaky Speakeasy. No fear of an Elliot Ness-esque raid here (unless, of course, your taxes aren't paid up), but it's all in the attitude. From the Hitchcockian staircase leading to one of the best rooftops in Austin, to the wingdinging on the dance floor, it's worthy of an ankle excursion.

412-D Congress

Best Tejano/Conjunto Club

Live Tejano music, man. According to one faithful customer, "I used to be a Sixth Street man, but this Tejano music saved my life." He admits he still forays downtown, but this is la familia. Cowboy hats are optional, not to mention handsome. The strutting on this dance floor is some of the best in town.

Tejano Ranch
7601 N. Lamar, Ste. A

Best Video Store

Blockbuster guarantees to have it in, but not when we looked for Ponette or Astaire & Rogers' Top Hat. No, when movies outside the current Hollywood offerings are their desire, readers head to one of these two locations. Where to start? Try the directors wall for films from your favorite, or check the staff suggestions, because these stores employ clerks in the know.

Readers: Arts & Culture
Readers: Food

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