2001 Readers Poll
2001 Critics Picks
Best Affordable Legal Advice For Guys & Dads

A nonprofit funded by membership fees and contributions, this cluttered downtown office is a genuine lifeline for men facing the gantlet of Texas Family Law who can't afford the high price of justice. Run by seasoned advocate Hugh Nations, they offer family crisis counseling, low-cost DNA paternity testing, and individual legal consultations with attorneys donating their time. Men: If you're trying to do the right thing, but think you can't afford it, think again.

Men & Fathers Resource Center
807 Brazos, #315

Best All-in-the-Family Tax Service

Come tax time, you don't want to be fussing around debating whether or not hiring a service is worth the sometimes prohibitive costs and long lines for which some of the national chains are so well known. Take our advice: Cut this listing out and clip it to your pay stubs. Juanita Ross has been making people's taxing migraines go away for 24 years. Her sharp, efficient service is complemented by her equally talented and dedicated daughter Yolanda Ross-Gobert, who began at mom's biz back when she was in the third grade(!). Add to that an office manager named Gladys who never forgets a face and always has a kind word, and you have a tax-related business you actually look forward to visiting every year.

Juanita Ross Income Tax Service
2710 Manor

Best Excuse to Lie Around, Eat Cookies, and Drink Soda

Why feel guilty about that sugar rush? You're saving lives! We've found the perfect volunteer project (assuming you aren't totally freaked by needles) with no hard labor, no cash outlay, and no grouchy old ladies barking orders. And you're still saving lives! A half hour of relaxing in air-conditioned comfort is all it takes for the staff to accept your kind donation of precious life fluid. Then, you get free cookies, soda, and lemonade as the benevolent lounge nurse watches over you. Hey, some people actually enjoy that slightly woozy feeling ...

We Are Blood
4300 N. Lamar

Best Fabulous Relief For A Sore Back

Dr. Cynthia Schade and her crew of pros can handle just about anything that walks, crawls, or hobbles through her door. From adjustments and massage to therapy for feet, legs, backs, shoulders, arms, necks, and heads, this extremely personal and relaxed clinic offers not only emergency expertise, but fabulous post-surgical treatment. With healing hands, gentle souls, and huge hearts, this is the place you want to go when your body demands attention.

Best Family Doctor

So we're chatting with a friend of 20-plus years who starts to rave about what a cool doctor she has. We snicker knowingly because we have the best physician when suddenly she says "Jefferson Street Family Practice." Wait! "Elliot Trester? Hey, he's our doctor too - isn't he cool?" "Yeah, the last time I was sick he saw me right away!" The table oohed and aahed. But it's true; the offices hours are arranged with walk-in hours so that if you are ill, you get to see a doctor without a two-week appointment. And if Trester's not available, we've had equally good luck with his partners. Now that's a cure for what ails ya.

Best Foreign Exchange Brokers

Have you been wanting to jump into the high-stakes/high-risk world of foreign currency trading, but been put off by how many traders seem to wind up in jail for fraud? Then this could be the outfit for you. Actually, this is an easy pick for a "Best of Austin," because since Russell Erxleben got sent up the river by the Feds, Forex has been the only game in town.

Best Guy to Call on the Carpet

First things first: Most other carpet cleaning companies charge less. But Tim Petzold, the sole proprietor and operator of Aegis, truly makes it worth the money. He uses the hot water-extraction method of cleaning (not shampoo), which leaves carpet less prone to re-attracting dirt. He leaves a bottle of spot remover for the customer. He even keeps his knowledge of carpet and upholstery care continually updated! Besides, you gotta love a guy who says in his print ads to call him anytime, even in the evenings: "I'm probably reading some exciting report on pet urine."

Aegis Fine Rug & Carpet Care
1250 Capital of TX Hwy.

Best Homebuyers Agent

You're looking to buy a house. Okay, how do you find one? What about financing? Appraisals? Inspections? Liens and easements? What labyrinthine pathways of paperwork and negotiation must you navigate to reach your domestic goal? Ask Denese Washam. Denese knows. She'll walk you through the steps, she'll deal handily with the seller, she'll hack through the jungle of red tape with a smile as her machete. She's been doing this for more than six years, and she's got the chops down: She'll help you get a house. The process still won't be as enjoyably simple as perusing Washam's display of Pre-Raphaelite art posters, but it'll be much closer.

Best Hospital-Based Midwife Team

The frustration of searching for the perfect doctor or midwife to assist you and your future miniature addition into this world is a maddening process. You want good responsive care, but in an environment that allows you to be yourself. You want to have that "in-home" feeling, as well as the freedom to marvel in this sacred moment of your life, without the intrusion of modern medicine's often imposing technology, but, of course, without jeopardizing the health of you or your baby. Fortunately, Seton Hospital has a team of three wonderful midwives, Mary Barnett, Nancy Loomis, and Melanie Benson, who work together at Women Partners in Health to allow patients to have that one-on-one camaraderie with their care professional. Not only can you utilize insurance benefits, but you can feel safe in a superb neonatal unit, all the while enjoying birth the way it was intended - naturally.

Women Partners in Health
1305 W. 34th St. #308

Best In & Out Barber Shop

Though some folks adore the pamper factor of a visit to the hair salon, some of us just want a haircut. If that's the case, head over to Kervin's and plop yourself down in the first barber chair that opens up. There's plenty of conversation about family, football, and fishing, but if you'd rather remain silent and listen to Paul Harvey on KVET, that's fine, too. Eleven dollars and 20 minutes later, you're looking sharper than ever.

Kervin's Delwood Barber Shop
3909 N. I-35, E-4

Best In-home Electrical And Drop-off Ceiling Fan Repair

While owner Greg Klock may have closed his funky Burnet Road retail space, which used to be loaded with a curious and disjunctive mix of mid-last century collectibles and ceiling-fan parts, he still takes ceiling fan drop-off work through neighbor Alamo Alarms, just up the sidewalk. Our experience with Klock Electric, however, is through their terrific in-home electrical repair service. While they cover all the necessary superlative bases to earn this title: fast, efficient, cost-effective, the thing that distinguishes them from other firms is that elusive "extra mile" that you so rarely hear about in home services these days. If you pay Klock for an hour service call, they work that entire hour, not by stretching a 15-minute job, but by asking, "What else do you need? How else may we assist?" They are also mighty helpful and not at all shy about offering recommendations and home maintenance tips to save you dough. That is so cool.

Klock's Electric

Best Inadvertently Funny Name That We Can Totally Relate To

Stoned Windshield Repair
3311 N. I-35

Best Ironic Parting Gift Rumor

Now, this is what we heard: When this online pharmacy site shut their doors and laid off the remaining employees, they had no money for severance pay ... and instead gave everyone a T-shirt that said: "RX.COM: WE NEVER CLOSE."

Best Low-impact Church Service

Other than kneeling (but remaining silent) for the Lord's Prayer and confession, all you have to do is sit back and listen as the accomplished St. David's singers bring to life the ancient sung-and-chanted Compline service. The church is dark (and cool!), the incense sweet, the voices sweeter, and if a thunderstorm happens to pass overhead, all the better.

St. David's Episcopal Church
301 E. Eighth

Best Man-Handler Of The Canvas Strip

It takes someone with a fast hand and a sure touch to be able to do the kinds of waxing jobs Doug Gerow has mastered. Razors don't come near this kind of smoothness, and they sure don't give you that same rush of endorphins before Doug pulls the canvas strip. For Your Image is a husband/wife owned salon across the street from Threadgill's on Riverside.

For Your Image Body Salon
210 W. Riverside

Best Most Amazing Free Service

Every injured worker in the state of Texas ought to get down on their knees (if they can) and thank their lucky stars that there's someone like Pam Carroll out there pitching for them. An injured worker herself, she was infuriated by the byzantine complexities of the system and turned her full-time attention to educating injured workers about their rights with the insurance companies and Workers' Comp. Carroll's abiding compassion and breadth of knowledge are not only incredibly valuable - they're free.

Best New Features on a Web Site

It may not be the end of overdue books, but the expanded online services at the Austin Public Library make it easy to avoid those pesky late fees with online renewal. All it takes is a photo I.D., a library card, and an e-mail address to establish a Web Catalog account with a personal identification number at any Austin Library circulation desk. Patrons can then review their library records, see what materials they currently have checked out, reserve materials, and best of all, renew materials. The Web site also includes a complete catalog of the library's holdings so you can check which branch has the material you're looking for.

Best Night-Owl Hair Experience

They're open until midnight! Midnight! Over the years, Avalon Hair Salon has amassed loads of "Best of Austin" awards for its hair genius, and inspiration struck again recently, when the fashionable bastion started opening its doors until midnight Tuesday-Saturday. Although it seems a natural fit for the city that occasionally sleeps, as far as we know they're the only salon in Austin to cater to extreme night-owls. Note too what a brilliant solution this is to the problem of Avalon's growth-besieged location; traffic slows and parking loosens up considerably at the Sixth & Lamar nexus as the witching hour approaches. Wedge a fab new 'do into your evening social schedule and still make it to the club well before the headliner goes on.

Avalon Hair Salon
1012 W. Sixth Ste. A

Best People To Get It Together

File this number under, "Aaargh! I'm Not Even Gonna Try Putting This Thing Together!" Bobby and Nancy Cordell, owners of Assembly Experts, are the answer to the proverbial maiden's prayer when it comes to wielding the socket wrench. That stupid new home office cubicle you bought? Done. The swing set. Done. The bikes, the treadmill, the storage shed. Done. They'll also deliver items from stores that don't have their own delivery service. Save a manicure, a marriage, or a life.

Assembly Experts
130 Misty

Best Personable Grocery Store Pharmacists

The fact that some of us have developed a close relationship with the local pharmacy is not particularly thrilling news, it just means declining health. Or at least seems that way. Dr. McPherson and the staff of the Albertson's Pharmacy on Pleasant Valley have eased some of that trauma considerably with good humor, diplomacy, and easily understood instructions for all those bottles of pills. They dispense sensible over-the-counter recommendations and are seldom as backed up as the superstore across the street. Plus the snack food is only two aisles away.

Albertson's Pharmacy
1819 S. Pleasant Valley Rd.

Best Phonograph Museum

Jim Cartwright has given up his home and garage to a collection of CDs, LPs, 45s, 78s, wax cylinders, phonographs, cylinder players, and other audio equipment we didn't even know existed. As the only registered antique phonograph museum owner in Texas, Mr. Cartwright is fully licensed to crank up one of his many Victrolas to let you "dance to a song that was a hit before your mother was born." Immortal Performances also buys, sells, and trades vinyl from all periods and sells classical music CDs. Whether you are a record collector or not, the towering towers of vinyl stacked next to an ever-growing Victrola and cylinder player collection are worth a gander.

Immortal Performances
1404 W. 30th

Best Place to Take Your Doggie When It's the Last Place He Wants to Go

Four a.m. pet emergencies are the stuff of nightmares for animal owners, but at least AM/PM makes doggie/kitty trauma a little less, errrr? traumatic. Just like the name says, they're open all hours to answer Muffy's medical emergencies, with a smile and a scratch to the Muffster's worried brow.

AM/PM Animal Hospital
2239 S. Lamar

Best Time Machine

This one comes from our hearts and souls: While we were researching our "Lost Austin" issue, the folks at the Austin History Center became our best friends. A resource for everything from turn of the (previous) century photographs to newspaper clippings, they provided us with a wealth of information about our town past, which told us a lot about the present. As an unexpected bonus, an exhibit enlightened us about long-ago fashions and accessories - we came for photos of Congress Avenue, and left with so much more!

Austin History Center
810 Guadalupe

Best Way to Chill Out on a Budget

Cynically, perhaps, we suspected that taking part in the city's low-interest loan program to help Austinites get central heat and air conditioning in their homes would be a pain in the butt. What did we know? It turns out that getting an AC loan from the city is not only easy, but it also helps ensure that homeowners taking part in the program get good equipment installed right. City requirements mean that homeowners taking the loan must weatherize their homes for maximum energy efficiency when they have their central heat and air systems installed; it also requires that registered contractors play by the rules and don't overcharge unsuspecting customers for their work and equipment. And payments can usually be less than $100 with no down payment. Is there anything better than stepping out of 100-degree heat into your own cool living room? Not likely.

Austin Energy
721 Barton Springs Rd.

Best Way To Get Acquainted With The Best Of Austin

We wish we had known about the nonprofit Austin Newcomers Club when we moved here so many years ago without knowing a single soul. For an annual fee of only $30, immigrants to our sometimes insular city can take advantage of the many groups and activities the ANC organizes, like antique shopping, art gallery, theatre, film, and restaurant treks; book groups; card games and mahjongg; French and Spanish conversation groups, gardening, quilting, hiking, golf, tennis, and tap dancing, and that's just for starts. If your particular lifestyle/age group/hobby is not on their roster, no doubt they'll add it for you.

Austin Newcomers Club

Best Way To Look Rich

Yes, believe it, we women know what long, beautifully painted nails mean: You are A) rich, B) a professional backscratcher, or C) patronize a nail salon every two weeks. Most likely the answer is C, and for those of us addicted to acrylic nails, the family-owned Nails 2000 is heaven-sent. There's seldom any waiting, walk-ins are encouraged, and the way they say, "You pay now so you no mess your nails," before the paint job is smart. Okay, so it's a little slower typing at the keyboards - that's a small price to look rich.

Coolest Car Inspection

"Is this the garage of the Cajun guy with all the hunting pictures on the walls?" "Yeah but Terry's no Cajun, he's a Yankee!" Well, life's not perfect, but the need for a quality car inspection comes annually. Maybe it's the autographed photos from Jimmie Vaughan, Lou Ann Barton, and Junior Brown that makes us feel like we're in good hands -- those folks are mighty picky about who touches their bodies. Terry Sabin and his crew have been fine-tuning autos for about 10 years, and that's long enough to be a honorary Texan, Terry.

Burnet Road Vehicle Inspection
5209 Burnet Rd.

Hottest New Down-to-Earth Hairdresser to the Stars

Curiosity - okay, maybe some vanity, too - made us call for an appointment with Jacomo Forbes, the new-to-Austin hairdresser who the fashion media had followed so closely when he worked in NYC and LA. Could he work the same magic on our Perpetual Bad Hair Day locks as he did with celeb clients like Sandy Bullock, Claudia Schiffer, and the Dixie Chicks, to name just a few? A resounding yes. Even better - all done in laid-back Austin style - without a shred of pretense or attitude.

904-D W. 12th

Most Creative Landscape, Garden, And Floral Design

Unending creativity, unbeatable expertise, a stunning assortment of plant life, breathtaking landscaping skills, and custom-designed accessories are among the things that are cultivating a most impressive reputation for Selena Souders and Dylan Robertson. Combining an architectural viewpoint with a thorough knowledge of botany, their style is fresh and original. From luxurious private gardens to the ultra-stylish Hotel San José, they are imprinting Austin with their "retro botanical" approach that is completely modern.

Big Red Sun
1102 E. Cesar Chavez

Most Heartfelt Thanks

In response to the national tragedy now dubbed 9-11, our fine Blood & Tissue Center issued a plea for folks to hold off of donating blood for awhile, due to the rush of support and the anticipated need over a long period of time. Now, thankfully, operations are back to normal. Below is the statement offered on their Web site a few weeks after the tragedies. We couldn't have said it better ourselves: "A Day That United a Nation In our time of greatest need, Central Texans responded by giving their most precious gift ... the gift of life. The Blood & Tissue Center of Central Texas thanks the thousands who came to donate and help save the lives of those injured by senseless acts of terror on September 11, 2001. We are grateful for the generous support from individuals and local businesses who provided meals and refreshments for our donors and staff. Your response has filled the blood supply ... for now. As demand rises in the coming weeks, and months, this call must be answered again ... and again. Be a quiet hero. Be a repeat blood donor. Sign a pledge card today. The USA - indeed, the world - will never be the same again. It is comforting to know we share the goal of helping one another. Thank you again for helping your fellow Americans during this time of national tragedy. It's About Life"

We Are Blood
4300 N. Lamar

Sweetest Bank Tellers

Okay, so we're a little biased; it's where we bank. But every time we go in, we are greeted (usually by name) with a smile and a handshake and a willingness to assist even in the stickiest of situations. The eager staff at our bank branch make our semi-monthly rituals a pleasure, and we are grateful to them for it.

Bank of America/American Center
600 Congress

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