2002 Readers Poll
2002 Critics Picks
Best Band Swag

It's not just that we split our sides laughing at Cornell's song titles and between-song patter. Neither is it the massive all-star South Austin lineup he features onstage or the dare-you-not-to-dance left-wing swing tunes. When the tip jar came around, a bonus was offered: Whoopie Cushions that featured pictures of Presidents? Wives on the Guy Juke-illustrated package. We got Mamie Eisenhower, a friend took Pat Nixon. Thrilling!

Cornell Hurd Band

Best Bar Band

Where's the best weekly show in town? Sunday nights with the Resentments at the Saxon Pub, according to MSNBC, who dubbed them the best bar band in America. No dispute here, we're too busy snickering at Jon Dee's stories about his kid ("Why are all those people running around downtown, Daddy?" "It's the Motorola Race, son" "Then why don't they run around Motorola?") and swooning over Stephen Bruton's and Jud Newcomb's blue eyes. Did we mention the music? Superb!

Best Bit o' Blarney

The band formerly known as Hair of the Dog changed their name but not their fiery brand of Irish rock. While you can certainly call out for "Danny Boy" and other Emerald Isle faves, Pubcrawler's oeurve lies in their deft performance of original, modern Irish rock under the leadership of Dubliner Neville Stewart. Less fashionably earnest than U2 yet just as heartfelt as Van Morrison, this band gloriously celebrates the Irish spirit and you won't be able to resist. Slainte

Best Comeback

When you lose your Sixth Street guitar palace of many decades around the same time you're diagnosed with hep C, making music may not seem like the salve it always was. Unless, that is, you're Danny Crooks, Steamboat's down-with-the-ship Commodore. He went down with the steamer alright, but up from Davy Jones' locker he rose with a bigger and better Steamboat. In a location bequeathed by the lately unforgiving local music gods, the new Steamboat, at the tony corner of Riverside & Congress, is once again giving veteran and fledgling local acts a kingly stage to combat expensive, hyped-up roadshows. Aqua Fest may have come and gone from the Austin landscape, but Steamboat is afloat once more and weathering the perfect storm that threatens the live music in the capital city. Ahoy, Danny!

110 E. Riverside

Best Happy Minutes

From 3:00 pm to 3:15 at the Texas Showdown pints of Budwiser are $.90. It’s not happy hour. It’s better. It’s happy minutes. And it’s a favorite of university students and saloon lovers alike. And on September 7 Showdown will turn 21 and finally be legal.

Best Heir to the Hole in the Wall

It is time for us to stop all of our sobbin', for even if the Hole opens again, it won't be the same. Still, another hole-in-the-wall venue has been reaping its share of beers and bands since waaaaaay before the Hole started to close. Tucked away discreetly under a South Congress apartment complex, Ego's offers just as much fun and anonymity (if you want it) with the likes of Dale Watson and Shawn Pittman & Killer Instinct. And plenty of cold ones to go around, too.

510 S. Congress

Best hold over from the ‘60s.

Dry Creek Saloon is still out there overlooking Lake Austin. The place hasn't changed a bit since Sarah sold cold beer to college students and then wrangled them like a mother hen.

Dry Creek Cafe
4812 Mount Bonnell Rd.

Best Movie Trailers

It's a given that the Alamo Downtown is gonna show goofy, retro trailers or shorts before main features. It's one of our favorite things about the Alamo, in fact. The pleasant surprise is what you see at sister cinema Alamo North, the first-run moviehouse that shows mostly mainstreamy flicks. Instead of forcing moviegoers to endure those damned Jeep or Pepsi commercials the bastard people have taken to showing at chain megatheaters -- on top of phasing out Junior Mints from the concession stand! -- the Alamo plays an appropriately cheesy or meaningful ad, like the seventies-futurific "Logan's Run" trailer before "Minority Report," or action-packed "Spider Man" cartoons before "Spider Man," or the unforgettable animated version of "Lord of the Rings" before the recent live action "Lord of the Rings." Not that we need any further evidence of the endless recycling machine that is Hollywood, but if we want to know where we're going, we need to know where we've been. Makes you wanna crack open a time capsule and swallow it down with a Tab. Where DO they get these things?

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
Alamo Drafthouse Mueller, 1911 Aldrich #120, 512/572-1425

photo by John Anderson

Best Place to Eat Tacos, Read Poetry, and Get Drunk: Not Necessaily in that Order

Loca Maria's Taco X-Press, 2529 S. Lamar in South AustinMy god, when this place goes, Austin is DEAD! You might as well live in the Gap and eat biscotti dipped in seltzer. You might as well get your poetry from the fucking New Yorker, pal. Dirt floors and 30 minutes of poetry every Thor's Day. Hammer one, sister. Open up that taco shell and take a deep long whiff! This is the smell of heaven. It can only get better. It can't holds no more. It overflows with the true religion of soul and body and the music of sweat flung from the brows of true believers and righteous heretics. Many a venue has been rolled into the black dung heaps of the sacred scarab this past year, but Maria's just keeps rolling in the sweet soma of Chimichuri. Hmmmmm. Pollo Guisada. Hmmmmm. To repeat myself: This is why God lives in South Austin and eats tacos naked twice a day except on Sundays when she is the taco in your baby's smile. This is a holy place of poetry awaiting only your presence. There's no reason this should not be the locus of all that is unique to Austin poetry.There is only one Paradise, though there are many paths to get there.

Best Place to Have an Intervention Over Margaritas

Ninfa's presents quite the accommodating atmosphere if you happen to need something to take the edge off of your next intervention. The colorful contemporary interior on Sixth cheers up even the most awkward social confrontations, while the comfortable, modest village-styled exterior up north soothes the nerves. We found the service exceptionally attentive there, so much so that by the end of the meal and step #4, we were convinced that our waiter would have just as agreeably finished our much needed sensitivity training for us.

Best Punk Rock Musical Trend

With the "rebellion" of youth so mainstream and the control of this town so squarely seated in the mitts of the white-boy (55 year old boy ... ) blues contingent, it's totally punk rock to be a snot-nosed 30- or 40-year old. Most of this generation chose guitar or bass. But there's this "new" crop of just-pre-midlife-crisis dudes wailing on the black & whites like nobody's business or a monkey. To wit: Check out any of the many packed and sweaty shows by loco heroes like Pong, Hug, or ST 37, and you too may fall under the mesmerizing gaze of the weirdly handsome old fart behind the keys (okay, sometimes it's a cheesy Casio), whipping the crowd into a frenzy. {kate said she'll hop on it}



ST 37

Sexiest Kings

With names like Hank, Da Boner, and Ox how could a gender parody enthusiast not get all giddy. These gals...uh..I mean boys throw a wicked vaudeville-esque show.

Snazziest New Martinis

Ginger and Wasabi Martinis with infused vodkas that they make at Pango.

718 Congress

Best Drag King Troupe

Mothers! Lock up your daughters! Just when you thought Hedwig got to have all the fun, Kings 'n' Things, Austin's very own cross-dressin', schlong-swingin?, lady-pleasin?, harmonizin? boi band extravaganza, is coming soon (but not prematurely) to a stage near you. Nothing "beats" a performance by Jack Hov and his Kenneth Anger-esque tribute, complete with sparkler. Sexy, funny, smart, and macha, the Kings have got every Y-chromosome archetype covered: cowboys, the "Black Russian," b-boys, suave crooners, and, of course, "The Lancebian," who bears a striking resemblance to Lance Bass. With founding members Johnny T. (K. Bradford) and Mocha Jean "the Lancebian" Herrup, the Kings are supercharged chick magnets. Be sure to not miss the Kings as they yank their cranks with upcoming national touring celebs Michelle Tea and NYC's Mo B. Dick. Ladies, start your engines.

Kings N Things

Bret Brookshire

Best Holdout in the Warehouse District

Waterloo Brewery is gone, the Bitter End is next on the chopping block, and Ruta Maya has been ... well, let's not talk about it. Cheer up! The Gingerman is still its same old self -- more than 60 taps on the wall and a happening, center-of-the-action atmosphere perfect for enjoying them.

Most Romantic Music Venue

The sunsets alone make OWT worth the visit. Situated atop a bluff that overlooks the rolling hills just west of Austin, this mansion was converted into a nonprofit music venue in ‘93 and subsequently a theatre in ‘99. Comfortable yet intimate, the theatre seats no more than 300 people for acts that range from Grammy winner George Benson to the Latin grooves of José Feliciano to the classical stylings of Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. Ambience and beauty may set the mood, but great music truly makes the evening.

One World Theatre
7701 Bee Caves Rd.

Best Elvis Karaoke

Looking for some fun on a Wednesday night? Slip on your blue suede shoes, baby, and make your way to Ocean's 11 for Elvis Karaoke! The atmosphere of this tiki bar screams fun, which you just can't help, especially after a gulp or two of their famous "Smok'n Krakatoa." When it's time to head up to the mic, pick out someone special in the audience and dedicate "Love Me Tender" to them. After your heart-rending plea, march over and proclaim, "Kamanawanaleia." If they look puzzled, explain that it is just another fabulous drink, and you'd love to buy them one. By the end of the evening, you could be takin' off those blue suede shoes and enjoying an encore of "All Shook Up" -- ahem. Of course, there's always the chance that the night will turn out to be more like checking into "Heartbreak Hotel," but at least you'll still have monkeys and mermaids floating in your drinks.

Best Moveable (Movie) Feast

It's not exactly reinventing the wheel – more like accessorizing it, with giant inflatable screens and barbecue. So far, in addition to the regular "Movies in the Park" series at Republic Park, the Rolling Roadshow – a sort of traveling movie palace from the Alamo Drafthouse's Tim & Karrie League – has ventured down into a cave, onto a racetrack, through some rapids, and into the bowling alley for truly liberating experiences for audiences with armchair burn. Oh, and some wicked cool fun, to boot.

Rolling Roadshow
409-B Colorado

Bret Brookshire

Best Babe to Getcher Freak On

Smoking vinyl and a sweet, steady sweat come together in the potion that DJ Organic has been brewing ever since she heard Bad Boy Bill mixing on the radio in her native Chicago. Let yourself be seduced by the elements, as Earth, Wind, & Fire, Kimara Lovelace, and Prince (to name a few) are woven together in her therapeutic hands. The name Organic evokes other thoughts as well, as Austin's purveyor of Chicago Soul House is no misbehavin' rave maven. "If you've got to be high to get what I'm doing, I don't really want to be part of that," she says. Indeed, while the spiritual web she's weaving on the mixer doesn't require chemical assistance, you'll swear you saw Angie Stone's smiling approval over the dance floor. And like Mary J. Blige did for hip-hop, Organic invites soul into the house that Jack built. Feel her love Tuesdays at the Gurlz Cellar and Thursdays at Rainbow Cattle Co.

organicproductions@hotmail.com, 458-1423

Best Local Libation

Tito Beveridge, owner of Texas' only legal distillery, makes an award-winning vodka that is pretty good sippin' all by itself. However, when Tito's Handmade Vodka is mixed with Boggy Creek Farmer Larry Butler's handmade organic Tomato Tonic according to the formula below, the resulting libation is so much more valuable than simply the sum of its parts, it's downright Austintatious! 1 jigger Tito's Handmade Vodka 1 1/2 jiggers Boggy Creek Farm Tomato Tonic 1/4 lime 1 stem fresh rosemary to stir Cheers!

Boggy Creek Farm
3414 Lyons

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Best Retro Game Rooms

He had long, flaxen locks of sun-kissed mousey brown, the coolest pair of Foster Grants, shiney blue Birdwell Beach Britches, and nimbler fingers than any boy his age should ever be allowed to have. Oooh, he was King of the Arcade -- a Pinball Wizard, the master of our High Score. And we think of him every now and then. Our beachside reveries are fueled every time we slide a quarter into one of the classic old Seventies/Eighties arcade games at either of these two cool rock clubs. Our faves? Room 710's Centipede and Elysium's Joust, where we get to be a knight on a giant flapping ostrich, just like that handsome boy with the sandy feet back in the day ...

705 Red River

Best Renaissance Men

Marc Gunn and Andrew McKee, aka the Bards for short, have been spreading ye old good word far and wide ever since their days on the South Mall at UT. Austin?s prime purveyors of Renaissance and medieval folk music and what-have-you made quite the impression during SXSW 2002, as they traipsed about in full kilt regalia. Their surprise MP3 hit, "Tolkien (The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings)," got its two millionth download and has spawned a Tolkien tribute album, due for fall release. Just like the second LOTR movie ...

Bret Brookshire

Best Renaissance Women

If you thought Elizabeth the First and Kathryn the Great were history, think again. The two are better known as the Tudor Tarts, and their divinely bawdy ballads and deliciously lascivious lyrics have made them favorites at fantasy faires and Renaissance festivals all around Texas, not to mention livening up weddings with their naughty bits of humor. Their Live and Unbodiced CD just hit their Web site, so you need not wait for the Celtic Festival to enjoy these wenches.

The Tudor Tarts

Best Chicken 'Product'

Every Sunday from 4 until 8pm you'll find free live music, free monster chili dogs, and Dewey the Chicken holding court at Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon. For a “poultry” two dollar donation, you draw numbers at random and wait for Dewey to do her business on a numbered board. Whichever numbered square Dewey hits with her, um, "product" is the winner. Did we mention the free monster chili dogs?

Little Longhorn Saloon
5434 Burnet Rd.

Best South Austin Listening Room

Not that we need a bunch of yankees on some hifalutin' cable news channel telling us how cool the Saxon Pub is, but they did indeed say it. Now well into its second decade on South Lamar, Joe Ables' unpretentious little room is rumored to be expanding. Besides bringing together singer-songwriters of several generations like Patrice Pike and Bob Schneider, the Saxon boasts Rusty Wier every Thursday night, a taste of the music that made Austin famous.

Saxon Pub
1320 S. Lamar

Best Off-Sixth-Street Bar

In the space that used to house Charlie's Attic, there is sadly no longer proof of neither Giant Jenga nor peanut-covered floor. But don't fret, instead let us recognize the unique goodness of the new kid on the block. The former, sometimes-frightening hangout has morphed into a beautifully hip rock-star joint. Armed with a killer jukebox, insanely cheap drinks, and the all-too-familiar tough bar staff, this bar can rival anything on Sixth Street. It's a veritable 12-step Rock Survivors Anonymous meeting. It's a refuge to those who have tired of the Sixth Street stress. It is, indeed, an Austin sanctuary.

5420-B Airport

John Anderson

Best Ambassador to Cuba

Only 90 miles off the coast of Florida, Cuba remains largely unknown and impenetrable to most Americans. Determined to break through the haze of government half-truths and bureaucracy is Fran Magee's Gallery 106. Affiliated with MedAid.org, a grassroots nonprofit organization that provides medical support and encourages cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Cuba, Gallery 106 basically gives a blank space to Cuban artists and says, "You are our guest." The proceeds from these efforts fund outstanding artists like Jacqueline Maggi, Tonel, Eduardo Muños Ordoqui, and Kcho, and, more importantly, they help to donate medical supplies to Cuban neighborhood hospitals and clinics. We can't think of a better diplomat.

Gallery 106
2832 E. MLK

Best Use of Auditorium Shores

Over the better part of the past decade, one of the best components of SXSW has been its free outdoor shows. No badges, no wristbands, no cover required, just lots of warm bodies and lots of local and national headliners. This year, rather than cordoning off already crowded downtown streets and/or parking lots, the biggest musical festival in the country utilized one of the biggest and best places in Austin for free, outdoor shows: Auditorium Shores, natch. Considering the crowd that turned out for NARAS's huge Hispanic throwdown, featuring Houston's La Mafia, we're not the only ones who thought the idea was muy bueno!

South by Southwest
1400 Lavaca

Best Answer to Austin's Pathetic Lack of Lesbian Bars

When Austin lost its last lesbian hot spot (Gaby & Mo's), local women were left with little in the way of dependable social forums. While the mostly men's Forum has been presenting their sassy Monday night "Grrls World" and a local group of nonprofit babes have been hosting semi-regular Club Skirt nights at Fiesta Gardens for quite a while now, the additions of Tuesday Gurlz Cellar nights at the Boyz Cellar, Thursday Ladies Night at the Rainbow Cattle Co., as well as the irregular Thursday Guerilla Grrl Bar (GGB, an e-mail list of local dykes who agree to meet up in one location and "take over" a bar for the night) are welcome substitutes. Gee, if we're really lucky, maybe someone will offer a weekly weekend night event ... .

Guerilla Grrl Bar

Best Arcade for Dancing

Fun is right! DDR, aka Dance Dance Revolution, is the best video game in town. For those who are out of the loop, this game has been all the rage in Japan, landing stateside just a few years ago. It consists of a video screen of dance steps and a floor pad on which you must dance with good rhythm to an awesome menu of techno tunes emanating from the box. Conveniently located on the Drag, Le Fun, with several remix versions of DDR, is our critics' fave place to rave.

Best Austintatious Memory Trip

For one whole day, La Zona Rosa passed backward in time to an Austin that now exists only in brief riffs and glimpses: Paul Ray, the Uranium Savages, Marcia Ball, the ghost of Doug Sahm (and his son), a dozen more of the living dynamos of real Austin music. Who says you can't go home again? For one long day and night, we all did. David Majewski 658-7810

Best Free-Range DJ

Not for ravers, not for hippies, DJ Sue is just for mods. Her monthly appearance at Beerland’s Fuzz Club gives Austinites a chance to enjoy obscure early punk, garage rock, and an assortment of all things Italian while dancing up a sweat. And for those from the "in" crowd, DJ Sue makes appearances at house parties and private club shows airing her awesome record collection and encyclopedic knowledge of rock & roll.

DJ Sue
711 Red River

Best Guilty Pleasure

Sitting in Cozzoli's midweek, grabbing a couple forbidden slices of some of Austin's finest pizza before going into a purely fun double bill at the Paramount. Eating and watching people on the balcony of the Stephen F. Austin drinking cocktails and watching the sun go down. Observing people hurriedly passing by and wondering if they're heading into the same double bill as we are or going next door to a play at the State Theater, or to an art show at the Jones Center right next to Cozzoli's.

700-800 block of Congress

Best No-Talking Warning at the Movies

One of life’s most annoying scenarios is to be stuck in front of morons who must hold a discussion concerning every plot development during a movie. No matter how sotto their voces, you can hear every irritating, distracting word. Hurray, then, for Alamo Drafthouse & Cinema, who show the world’s funniest No Talking During the Movie Simpsons cartoon, then follow it up with the menacing “We Mean It! You talk, we drag your ass out of here!” Which then gives the non-talkers in the audience a chance to cheer and flex their shoulders in a threatening, “Yeah, man, we mean it, too,” attitude. Perfect.

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
Alamo Drafthouse Mueller, 1911 Aldrich #120, 512/572-1425

Best Place to Party Like It's 2000 ... And You Still Have a Job

Some nights we just want to ignore that Intel fiasco in the middle of town. We want to stop searching HotJobs and Monster.com. We want to don a slinky outfit, spray on some perfume, and pretend we’re still living large, with stock options. On these nights, we put away the Top Ramen and head for the Speakeasy. Everyone is glamorous at the Speakeasy: Men flash gold jewelry, and women wear heels. They serve Bellinis and Cosmopolitans. Drink up, and dance the night away on the rooftop terrace. After all, the economy has got to pick up one of these days. Right?

412-D Congress

Critics: Arts & Culture
Critics: Food

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