2001 Readers Poll
2001 Critics Picks
Best Addition To The Congress Avenue Skyline

Everybody needs a mascot, so why not that ubiquitous little monkey with a fez? The playful folks at Lone Star Illusions took the kitschy little monkey to new heights when Blue Genie studio artist Rory Skagen was hired to recreate the King Kong version of the monkey for all to see and perched it above the store. A fun and funky addition to the Congress Avenue skyline.

Parts & Labour
1704 S. Congress

Best Divine Fabric For Interiors

Purveyors of the things that the dreamiest interiors are made of, owner Stephanie Moore and partners have created a shop that is an incredible platform for Moore's exquisite taste in fabrics and trims. From breathtakingly magnificent silk brocades and gossamer organzas to trims that drip with crystals, feathers, and fringe, they not only sell these luxurious goods, but will design and custom-make bedding, pillows, and upholstered headboards. But it's hardly for interiors alone - clothing designers flock to it, too.

Best Guy With A Fuzz Box Who's Not Afraid To Use It

Aside from providing some of the best, fastest, and most reasonably priced service on amps and guitars that we've ever received, Musical Exchange salesdude and repair guy Jon Bessent also is one half of local Austone Electronics. Bessent, the affable bearded and braided cosmic cowboy who answers his work phone, "Musical Sex Change!" has produced a darned fine line of effects boxes along with biz partner Randy Larkin. The bottom heavy Fuzz Nutz(TM) and crunchier Textone Fuzz Nutz(TM) fuzz boxes are virtual time machines that replicate sounds from the Sixties and Seventies that digital can't touch - as do the Soul-O-Stomp(TM) pre-amp boost, Vibro-Stomp(TM) tremelo/vibrato box, and Millennium Overdrive(TM). All Austone boxes include a lifetime labor warranty, boast "true bypass" (3-pole double throw!), and no radio interference. Handbuilt in Austin, Texas, these chrome-coated babies look as sweet as they sound.

Jon Bessent
Austone Electronics

Best Hoopty Cannibalizers

Okay, so we have a tiny problem with auto incidents. Not that any of them have been our fault of course - but try telling that to the insurance company, to say nothing of those pesky car inspectors. No matter, ever since we discovered Capitol City, we've been able to slap that bucket of bolts back together with little more than duct tape, a Phillips-head, and a credit card. See, Capitol has more than just import car parts, they've got acres of car parts, from that hard-to-find '81 Celica rear mirror to the back bumper for your '91 Accord. They're affordable, accessible, and discreet: no frills, no questions ... no problem.

Capitol City Imports
7900 S. Congress

Best Jewelry

From First Ladies to Oscar-winning actresses to well-dressed women across the city, the design team of Anthony Camargo and David Nakard are adorning some of the most high-profile necks, wrists, and earlobes, both locally and internationally. Spread across Glamour, and In Style, and Town & Country, this dynamic duo has the magic touch when it comes to gold and unusual gemstones. From Sandra Bernhard to Jennifer Lopez to Liv Tyler, the strikingly original designs and exquisite craftsmanship has Anthony-Nak's star rising quickly.

Anthony Nak
800 Brazos

Best Kilt Supply

There's an old Gaelic saying that a true Scot should wear his kilt at least once a week. Okay, so we made that up just because we like kilts and those who wear them. At Things Celtic, which last year doubled its store space, the whole kilt-and-kaboodle can be ordered, from the tartan wool in clan weaves to hose, garters, shirts, coats, sashes, and the ever-popular sporran. What, you don't know what a sporran is? Hie thee down to the store if it's the last fling you do.

Things Celtic
1806 W. 35th

Best Mad Hatter

So you wanna be a Texan, eh? Well, buying a cowboy hat is a fine first step. But, make no mistake, you can't just pick one off the rack, plop it on your head, and call yourself a Texan. Oh no, that would never do. So, how do you get that shape and fit that says "I am Texas"? Go where the natives go: Texas Hatters. Just south of Austin on I-35 in Buda, Texas Hatters has been shaping hats in the Lone Star State for three generations. From NFL players and Hollywood starlets to Hill Country ranchers and politicians from both sides of the aisle, Texas Hatters knows all their shapes and sizes. In all, a short car trip for a serious lesson in Texas Cool.

Texas Hatters
911 S. Commerce

Best Outlet To Interior Expression

You've got one of them there "eclectic" tastebuds, eh? One of them design aesthetics that runs all over the map. You dig Heywood-Wakefield, mission-style, and arts and crafts, but boy, that Queen Anne would look swell in your anteroom. You've got turquoise and goldenrod everything but can't take your eyes off that smooth black and pink Eighties lamp. You like clean lines and kitschy clutter, and the furious amalgam that is design of this last century drives you nuts, nuts, nuts! Damn, you've got it bad. Where to go? What to do? Head on down to North Loop, to Room Service, bubby, where for 20 years (Happy Birthday, R.S.!!!) the vintage crew has been outfitting the interiors of Austin's weird and wonderful. And if you missed their spankin' 20th anniversary par-tay in September, fret not, they supposedly have a big shindig in the works to celebrate the erection of a brand new sign.

Room Service Vintage
117 E. North Loop, 512/451-1057

Best Place for a Family Fit

You've worn the same shoe size for years. The last time you were actually fitted for a pair was probably when you were a kid, right? And that's just wrong - especially when it comes to sports and comfort footwear. You can buy shoes anywhere, but Karavel really knows the business of fitting shoes for men, women, and kids. The service people are so nice and care so much about what they do, it's actually kind of fun to make a family outing of it. Karavel only sells New Balance athletic shoes (no Swooshes, thank you very much!) and has the widest selection of brands of those pricey-but-comfy shoes we love (NAOT, Born, Ecco, Dansko, et al.).

Karavel Shoes
5525 Burnet Rd.

Best Place To Buy A Christmas Tree

December in these parts don't resemble the snow-dusted greeting cards scenes that fill the stores. There are plenty of days when shorts are perfectly appropriate attire. Where is one to find a winter wonderland and get into the spirit of things? Right on South Congress, where the good folks at the bucolic Great Outdoors nursery set up their Christmas trees among the permanent collection of gorgeous plants, garden accessories, and trees that inhabit the nursery year round. The yuletide trees are kept in water while they await adoption, which ensures minimal needle expulsion. Sizes range from lilliputian to grand two-story monsters that grace local bank lobbies. And while you and the kiddos (bring the kids, it's a fairyland delight that resembles the Secret Garden) peruse the forest, the aroma of freshly baked cookies compete with the piney smell of evergreens. Munch the warm Christmas cookies while the staff goes the extra mile of putting your selection on a super shaker machine that releases all loose needles before they bag the tree and put it safely in your car for the trip to its new home. That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

The Great Outdoors Garden Adventures
2730 S. Congress

Best Place To Buy Plants For A Good Cause

Marbridge Farm is a boon to green-thumbed Austinites who make the drive south for the huge selection and wide variety of reasonably priced decorative and vegetable plants, trees and shrubs, and gardening supplies. A gardener can get lost in the series of greenhouses, and seldom do you see a customer who isn't pulling a wagon full of plants. But shopping there isn't just good for the gardens. Marbridge Farms Greenhouse is part of Marbridge Ranch, a residential facility for mentally handicapped men. The residents earn and learn working in the greenhouses tending the plants, and the profits go to help continue the Marbridge mission.

Marbridge Farm
2310 Bliss Spillar

Best Place To Dress Like A Gentleman

Good quality clothing, ranging from upper moderate to kind of expensive prices. Superb service -- they'll teach you which socks and belt to wear with what, how to fashion a tie properly, or which buttons of a 3-button jacket to leave undone. Fittings and alterations done on the premises.

Capra & Cavelli
3500 Jefferson

Best Place To Fill Your Tank & Lose Your Wallet

Picture a hypothetical moron who pulls into a convenience store with great gas prices, fills up, and unwittingly drives away without his wallet, which contains his entire lifesavings of $500 in cash. The aforementioned moron is notified by the store and flies down there post-haste, knowing that the $500 is history. Imagine the moron's surprise to receive the wallet with the cash intact. Incredible honesty and excellent customer service in these morally questionable times.

Lamar Food
1222 S. Lamar

Best Selection of Cabinet Hardware

Although Stripling Blake is more of a builder's/contractor's outlet than a do-it-yourselfer's store, they take good care of their noncommercial customers, too. One of the best reasons for a so-called "Weekend Warrior" to wander in there is for the drawer pulls and cabinet knobs. Whether you're refurbishing old cabinets or just starting from scratch, Stripling Blake's in-stock selection of hardware is about the most extensive in town. And if you don't like what's there, they have oodles more to choose from that you can special order. You'll wait anywhere from one to several weeks to get them, and prices range from reasonable to totally extravagant. But to possess the perfect drawer pull, no sacrifice is too great. Don't forget to set up a cash account in your name so you'll get 10% off your purchase.

Best Shopping Center For Cheap Gifts

When a glut of birthdays becomes too much for your wallet to bear, head on over to Highland Village for instant relief. MacFrugal's and Dollar General both feature a constantly changing selection of close-out items sure to appeal to your kitsch-loving pals. For a more exotic gift, try the New Oriental Market. And if your friends don't dig that Spice Girls camera and jumbo-size bag of rice cracker party mix, it's time to find a new peer group.

Best Thing To Come From Houston Last Year

No, it's not your best friend from college, Kara, and her kids, Cody and Kyle. The best thing to come here from Houston is High Fashion Fabrics, which opened up a branch near the old Mueller air field last year. The staff knows the product well and can refer you to upholsterers and drapery makers. The store is roomy, and you can help yourself to fabric swatches. With hundreds of upholstery and drapery fabrics to choose from, High Fashion fills a massive void in the decorator fabric market since London Fabrics and Scotland Yards closed. Now, if they'll just open up a section of apparel fabrics, too, we'll never have to step into one of those national chains again.

Most Intriguing Business Name

Hmm ... that would make dating awfully convenient. Actually, from their Web site, we gather that they specialize in all manner of crates and shipping supplies. Coming soon ... Hunk in a Box?

Chick Packaging
5501 Airport

Most Super Fly Men's Suits

One step into Dres Up and you'll know you're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. And just like in the Wizard of Oz, the first difference you'll notice is color: bright, brilliant, overwhelming color. This is not your average snoozer of a men's shop. Heck, even some of Austin's nattier suit stores can elicit yawns, with their drab racks of grays and blues and blacks and tans. Not so at Dres Up, where you'll be taken in by turquoise, lathered up in lavender, and reeling in red. Collarless suits, knee-length jackets, and double-breasted coats are all complemented by complete lines of matching shirts, waistcoats, socks, ties, and hats(!). Check out their full line of cool casual wear, too.

Dres Up
7112 Ed Bluestein

Critics: Services
2001 Intro

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