2000 Readers Poll
2000 Critics Picks
Best Alternative To Teaching Fido To Use A Condom

You can talk to Pebbles the poodle and her third-cousin Bam-Bam about safe sex all you want, but it's never worked for us. Animal Trustees of Austin runs a low-cost, nonprofit spay-and-neuter clinic, with surgery done by a licensed DVM. Since 1997, they have left 18,557 animals gender-neutral. Empancipet is the Spaymobile covering Austin and Central Texas. It's the project of Dr. Ellen Jefferson, DMV, the Humane Society animal birth control queen. Call for locations and appointments, or to make a special request that they visit your vet-free neighborhood.

Emancipet Low-Cost Mobile Spay and Neuter Clinic
ATOA parking lot; Humane Society Parking Lot

Animal Trustees of Austin Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic
5129 Cameron Road

Best Attempt To Change The Gay Social Scene

AMP is a nonprofit attempt to give young gay men in Austin a reason to get together that doesn't necessarily include sex, alcohol, and a spinning disco ball. Not that the AMP coordinators are anti-fun, mind you; it's just that they harbor the seemingly simple belief that the gay community might suffer fewer incidences of unsafe sex if the people having all that sex got to know one another a bit before getting it on. Revolutionary, huh?

Austin Men's Project

Best Austin History

Wanna know who lived in your house in 1932? How about how the city reacted the time a City Council member walked into a bar and stabbed a co-councilman? It's all at the Austin History Center, Austin's own archive containing thousands of feet of files, photographs, maps, and microfilm pertaining to just about everything in our community, from local gunslinging legend Ben Thompson to the rise and fall of Liberty Lunch. History Center employees are always friendly and helpful, with suggestions not only on which sources to search, but also on how to use them. Public-access Internet ports in the reading room make it easy to do global research as well. There's no better place to spend a few hours hibernating among the dusty records of our city's past.

Austin History Center
810 Guadalupe

Best Clinical Nutritionist

Gather here all ye who are tired of dragging around that ball-and-chain of this or that physical ailment. Come in, put your complaints - and lifestyle - on the table and work with Dr. Heffley to figure out whether what you are eating - or not eating - could be the culprit. Fear not: The quest is science-based - and always kindly, never judgmental.

Best Dog Behavior Miracle Worker

We have a deaf Dalmatian with issues: agoraphobia, a submissive pee-er who bites out of fear. Another local trainer repeatedly suggested euthanizing our pretty puppy; fortunately, we found Janice. After months of weekly, in-home, private lessons, we have a reasonable approximation of a normal dog! A professional dog trainer since '97, Patton also offers standard dog training classes, and board-and-train for those at the end of their leash.

Best Dose Of Being A Wild One

At least once in every God-fearing citizen's life, there should be a hog day, with you and your woman (or whatever) as Brando and his chick (or whatever). So take a ride on the wild side. Strap on the leathers, rent a gleaming precision machine from these friendly road warriors, and tool the hill country with the wind in your face. What the hell, angel, let's head cross-country; they've got facilities in eight major cities, and are authorized by Harley Davidson itself. Sing it now - "Boooorn to be wiiiild - f"

Eaglerider Motorcycle Rental
2300 S. Lamar, Suite 105

Best Effort On The Behalf Of Girls

Rachael Muir created Girlstart to encourage girls to take an interest in math and science - direction she was never given. Through Girlstart, girls can participate in summer camps or weekend workshops which teach html and expose young women to nontraditional roles. The program participates in the Take a Girl to College Day, which lets middle school girls go to varsity with college girls for a day. Through the Web site, girls can post their own Web pages, write to each other, and explore possible careers in math and science. The site has many links that can help girls (and for that matter boys) with their studies.

Girlstart STEM Center
1400 W. Anderson

Best Expansion Team

Used to be, parents and teachers listening to staff presentations at school board meetings gaped as if they were hearing messages from the twilight zone. Now that AISD superintendent Forgione has put together a new team of deputies, people may not like what they hear, but it at least sounds like the truth. Inquiries from the press aren't falling into black holes anymore, either. Here's hoping the relationship with the public lasts past the honeymoon.

AISD Carruth Administration Center
1111 W. Sixth

Best Gas Station Cashier

You'd think a cute, young girl would have a hard time working next to the day labor site - not Cary, who calls everyone "sweetie." When she refused to sell beer one morning to a drunk man, he said, "You know what I can tell you to do, don't ya?" Cary replied in a chipper voice with a big smile, "Yeah, you can tell me to go fuck myself, and I do it better than a-ny-one else. I'm still not going to sell you beer, sweetie."

Airport Fast Stop
5325 Airport Blvd.

Best Gas Station Go-to Guy

Is there a car emergency - or repair - that Jeff can't de-awfulize on the spot? So far, we've coasted in with a dead battery - in pouring rain with kids waiting in front of school and oops! Wallet's empty! - unexplained tire failures, and equally mysterious blinking dashboard lights. No problem. He even made a house call when the key decided not to turn the car on. And he's just as helpful when the kids roll in with bike problems. Who says service is dead?

Best Grooming School For Grownups

Would you like to run for office someday? Are you jockeying for a promotion? Or do you just want to do good things for your community? Whatever your ambitions, Leadership Austin may have a seat at the table for you. Each year, this program accepts a cross-section of about 50 folks for nine months of leadership-building skills. If the fact that the program is run by the Chamber sounds a little too boosterish for you, consider that the program's yearbook of graduates reads like a who's who in Austin. Everyone from the mayor (class of '83-'84) to the small business owner to the gay and lesbian activist to the community volunteer has done time at this finishing school. Note to teens: There are special classes for you, too.

Leadership Austin
111 Congress

Best House Calls For The Housebroken

So Rover throws up every time she gets in the car? Fluffy is allergic to the outdoors? Or taking the cat to the vet on the bus is beyond your stamina? What's a responsible pet owner to do? Call in the vet. Unlike people doctors, several Austin animal doctors still make reasonably priced, routine, small-animal house calls. Vet calls: not just for cows anymore.

Best Housecalls For The Housebroken

So Rover throws up every time she gets in the car? Fluffy is allergic to the outdoors? Or is taking the cat to the vet on the bus is beyond your stamina? What's a responsible pet owner to do? Call in the vet. Unlike people doctors, several Austin animal doctors still make reasonably-priced, routine, small-animal house calls. Vet calls: not just for cows anymore.

Mobile Veterinary Clinic

Mobile Pet Vet Inc.

Mobile Veterinary Services

Anderson Mill Animal Clinic

Visiting Vet

Best Laundry Attendants

The friendly gals at our local Kwikwash seem more like neighbors than just workers doing their jobs. Orie works most weekdays, and if you can catch her between helping customers and keeping the place shiny clean, you might have a laugh together over the latest Jerry Springer or chat a little about the latest goings-on in the area. Miss Viola, who handles the weekends and Mondays, has been at this particular wash-o-mat for as long as we can remember, and will always have a smile ready for lonely launderers.

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

Best Movie-supply Store

Located right by the likes of 501 Studios and the Texas Filmmakers Society, Gear is the technical right arm to moviemakers working at every level of the industry. One day we saw the Gear guys loading up a truck for Spike Lee's latest. It doesn't get more professional than this.

912 E. Fifth

Best Person To Ring 'em Up

A grocery clerk is a grocery clerk, right? Well, sure, unless you've fumbled your way through a trainee at the chain store or been grilled on what you are buying, and does it taste good? Karla brings to Central Market the same kind of professionalism she developed at Whole Foods (meaning she won't ask about your gall bladder operation and can check out celebrities without gawking) and hence provides fast service (talk about underrated talents when you're standing in line!). Plus she looks kinda like Sixties Cher in all the good ways.

Central Market North
4001 N. Lamar, 512/206-1000
4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-4300

Best Piano Tuner

You have to wonder how this much competence can reside in one woman. Not only is the tuning job impeccable, but should your set of 88s develop some kind of weird ring, zing, or whooshing sound, Karla can often walk you through a repair - over the phone! If not, she'll be right over and get to the root of the problem.

Best Place To Buy A Hot Rod

"Hot rods wanted, dead or alive," reads the sign in front of Sam's Auto, home of cars to die for in all stages of restoration and decay, from a smokin' flame-painted '67 Thunderbird to a bombed-out shell of a '70 Charger. Even the traffic on I-35 doesn't seem so bad from behind the wheel of one of these babies!

Sam's Auto
15300 N IH-35

Best Place To Go When Fido Is Barfing At 4am

Seeing your pet sick is no fun. It's as hard as seeing your child ill. Worse, what happens at 3am when you know something is seriously wrong with Fido? A late-night visit to Kerbey Lane South made us aware of the clinic's presence; two weeks later, the pup became seriously ill at 2am and we rushed over. Twenty-four hours later he was good as new. The real question is, has anyone ever known a dog actually named Fido?

Best Place To Learn To Make Your Own Digital Movie

So you wanna make movies? No more excuses. Even if your name isn't Rodriguez, it's easier and more affordable than ever to make movies. Under one roof, ADVC is a bunch of digvidphiles who have everything it takes to get a project in the can. Start with an in-depth class or jump right in with unbeatable equipment rental deals. Dream it? You can do it.

Austin Digital Video Center
708-A S. Lamar

Best Professional Photo Lab

Professional photographers (and those who shoot like pros) who need high-quality printing turn more often than not to API for their reasonable rates, huge variety of services (including two-hour film processing), and steady hand.

Austin Photo Imaging
605 W. Fourth

Best Ray Of Sunshine

We all know that most police officers work hard to keep us safe despite the inherent danger and abuse. And what better way to let their efforts shine than give citizens more power to root the bullies and boors out of their ranks. Thanks to former council member Bill Spelman and the leaders of the Sunshine Project for Police Accountability, a citizens board will soon be able to review complaints and oversee investigations at the APD.

Citizens Police Oversight

Best Rehearsal Space

Ideally, the best rehearsal space for a band is any place free where nobody calls the cops on you. Barring that, Music Lab's Oltorf and Krebs Lane locations offer a variety of well-insulated, air-conditioned rehearsal spaces with P.A. systems for as little as eight bucks an hour. And you'd be surprised how much you can get done in an hour when you're paying for it.

Music Lab
500 E. St. Elmo, 512/707-0560

Best Resident Store Cat

Enormous and good-natured, Maya is a roly-poly gem of a store mascot, reducing hyperintellectual film buffs to cooing admirers with a wiggle of her ample girth.

I Luv Video
4803 Airport, 512/450-1966

Best Shelter From The Storm

This cozy wood-frame home in Austin's Eastside serves as a temporary shelter for many Spanish-speaking immigrants who arrive here empty-handed but willing to lay bricks, mop the floors, dig a hole - whatever it takes to put food on the table and send money back home to their families. It goes without saying that this segment of our population makes up a good chunk of Austin's hardest-working labor force. Thank goodness, then, for places like Casa Marianella. It's just the ticket to help the newcomers get on the road to independence.

Casa Marianella
821 Gunter

Best Substitute For A Main Street Trolley

We don't use public transit because we don't like to wait. Half an hour between buses is reason for aiming the gas guzzler downtown. But not if you live near the No. 1, North Lamar. Starting at the 183/North Lamar transfer center, it comes practically every 10 minutes and stops often, at locations including the Austin State Hospital and the University of Texas. It changes to the No. 13 bus, then goes down Congress to William Cannon.

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority
2910 E. Fifth

Best Vet Clinic East Of I-35

Way over yonder in Apartment City, right there in a strip mall with a check-cashing business, dollar store, and a pizza joint, Riverside Vet Clinic right off East Riverside has been caring for everyone's best friends, plus all the cats. Dr. Susan Johnson and Dr. Henry Meyers started caring for a staffer's puppies at six weeks and has seen them grow into healthy, loved pets who do not quite believe that having their nails trimmed is not tantamount to torture.

Riverside Veterinary Clinic
1421 Arena

Best Way To Fix Your Computer and Fight Dragons

The CompuBARDS believe that if your computer needs servicing, don't just call any nerd, call the Bards. They freely admit that what you often pay for with a technical visit is time waiting for downloads, etc. and seek to remedy these moments with, what else? A little folk music. Yes, in between the standard comp-speak and the endless waiting, the Bards perform Celtic and medieval music just for you! A renaissance in computer repair indeed!


Best Way To Take A Load Off Without Unloading Your Wallet

How many times have you said to yourself, "If only I had someone to rub my aching back"? While you may not be able to buy yourself a lover to fulfill your every whim, you can afford the next best thing: a head-to-toe massage by one of the handy therapists-in-training at the Texas Healing Arts Institute. For a mere $25-35 (depending on the length of the massage), you'll get professional-quality treatment and walk out feeling ready to conquer the world. This is one luxury you'll want over and over again.

Texas Healing Arts Institute
7001 Burnet Rd.

Most Glamorous New Salon

Wet has an incredibly young and vibrant stable of stylists, and has become an overnight sensation. Their salon itself is as stunning as the amount of work they produce. From their constant contributions to every fashion show, to their editorial and photo work, they have an amazing energy and one of the freshest approaches around.

Most Imaginative Floral Arrangements

The Austin Music Awards has seen some beautiful floral displays throughout the years, but none as spectacular as in March 2000. Cowgirls & Flowers put together matching arrangements that used Stratocaster guitars and stalks of bird of paradise as part of the display. Imagine what they can do with weddings or something that requires a little more imagination than raffia and ribbon.

Cowgirls & Flowers
508 Walsh

Traffic Signal Most In Touch With The Needs Of Its Community

It's green when we top the hill just south of the West Lynn Cafe. We don't speed up because we know we won't make it. It's red as we approach Nau's Pharmacy from the east. We happily slow down because we know if we just creep up it'll change without us ever having to stop. Somehow, it knows just how to keep the flow moving slow and steady through this haven of small-town America, curbing our usual urge to floor it through stoplights.

Critics: Politics & Personalities
Critics: Shopping

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle