2002 Readers Poll
2002 Critics Picks
Best AC Repair

Texas Cool Tech
7000 Cameron Rd.

Best Customer Service For Your Car

The folks at the S. IH35 location certainly treated us right ... and for $50 less than the other guy! Mechanics with talent, management with integrity. We share a dim recollection of the same exact experience at NTB ten years ago. Some things, unlike your motor oil, should never be changed.

National Tire & Battery
various locations

Best Hope for Aging and Awkward Athletes

When those beer-drenched Sunday softball games start feeling like they were no-holds-barred rugby games come Monday morning, you know you’re in trouble. Too often, we are advised that surgery or giving up the sports we love are our only options. Now, aging athletes, weekend warriors and the less adroit among us have a wonderful ally. Bradley Fullerton,M.D. offers a little-known, but marvelously effective medical procedure called Prolotherapy. Whether you suffer from an aching back or tennis elbow or a gimpy knee, Dr. Fullerton will treat your chronic pain and he'll do it with the kind of gentle, compassionate and thoroughly engaged bedside manner we've not witessed since Dr. Welby.

Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital
1215 Red River

Best No Drip Novocain Shot

Don't you hate it when your dentisit accidentally dribbles a little novocain on your tounge while giving you an injection? We certainly do. This won't happen when you make the trek to North Austin for a visit to Dr. Hobbs. It's worth the drive. With a steady hand, Dr. Hobbs will administer a shot that in most cases you don't even feel and then start working his magic on your chompers.

Kelly Hobbs, D.D.S
11615 Angus Rd, Ste 116

Best Online Fun For Boys-Who-Like-Boys
Best Place to Hear 80's Music Without Getting Drunk

For those of us who were young and punk (or, okay New Wave) in the '80's, our time has come: we ARE the target market and we can tell by the soundtrack haunting businesses these days (Elvis Costello in HEB anybody?) But nobody does it better than Kinko's, where you can hear Robert Hazzard and the Heroes singing "Escalator of Life," get a puzzled "that's familiar, what the hell is it?" look in your eyes and wind up in a twenty minute conversation with the cute guy two copiers over about the good old days. Making copies is never really fun, but there's a perverse pleasure involved with the Kinko's mix.

FedEx Office
2901-C Medical Arts, 512/476-3242
327 Congress #100, 512/472-4448
327 Congress, 512/472-4448
330 Bee Caves Rd. #715, 512/314-2300
6406 N. I-35 Ste. 1210, 512/452-3600
5601 Brodie #1210, 512/892-1992
9222 Burnet #101 & 102, 512/339-1191
13729 Research, 512/331-0800

Best Place to Make Your Car Fast and Furious


Best Web Site for Prospective Homebuyers

Best Wine Sommelier

Alan Ungueth
512 W. Sixth St.

Best Yoga Instructor Gluteus Maximus

Rhoades is a scholar alright. Of the mind and body. When beloved yoga instructor Riki Dunn gave up her classes at Ballet Austin, her classes sucked in their collective breath, waiting for some poor substitute. But Todd has filled her shoes (technically, bare feet) nicely, with his own style (maybe a few less downward dogs, Todd?) He's also a dancer with Ballet Austin and the combination of yoga and ballet has provided him with a most awesome and firm gluteus maximi, if we said that right. Exhaaaaaaale.

Todd Rhoades
1112-B N. Lamar

Most Interesting Pit Stop

We cannot possibly capture the essence of the Pronto Mart in words. We can, however, quote a newcomer to Austin who claims that going to the Pronto Mart is "like walking onto the set of Clerks." Late night stop-ins are definitely worth the trip. Be sure to keep an eye out for Huff's poetry on the wall.

Pronto Mart
Duval, Hyde Park

Best Place to Find Fluffy Luv

Dogs and cats of all ages and breeds have grown increasingly grateful to the Humane Society since its founding in 1952. Promoting responsible pet ownership and preventing pet overpopulation, this nonprofit organization is not governmentally subsidized, yet has participated in the city's efforts to end the liquidation of healthy, adoptable, but homeless pets. As the city's first "no-kill" facility, the Humane Society instead houses an abundance of orphaned animals until they can be placed in homes.

Austin Humane Society
124 W. Anderson

Best Place for Spots (and Stripes, Too!)

Danny Smith, formerly of Catapult, opened up his own digs recently in those cool industrial buildings on Third Street. The Beauty Lounge offers your basic spoiled-in-the-chair-'til-your-hair-is-perfect treatment. But there's more! Danny is a total badass with bleach and dye and has been responsible for some pretty amazing striped, checked, leopard-spotted, and polka-dotted 'do's around town.

The Beauty Lounge
800 W. Third

Best Place to Let Your Volvo Convalesce

Dave comes on like Father Time, his long white beard showing up a good five minutes before the rest of him does, and that's perfect for the kinds of circles he travels in. Volvos are his trade, and his repair lot is about overrun with them, which is saying something in this town. He knows his stuff, is honest with what he knows, and understands the fact that we know little to nothing about a piece of machinery that we use extensively every day. It's like having Dad fix our car, only with significant (but reasonable) financial transactions.

Dave's Imports
1818 W. Anderson

Best Arborist

In towns where trees abound, tree-pruning businesses seem to grow like weeds. It's difficult to discern which ones rate in terms of expertise, value, and trustworthiness. May we make a suggestion? With Ultimate Tree Care's Tim Hackney, less is more. Which isn't to imply that he leaves trees looking like naked, outsized bonsai. No, Tim's proud of his profession, but he's no prima donna. His totally reasonable rates are testament to that.

Tim Hackney

Best Kept-Secret Manicurist

As the old adage goes, the best-kept secret is kept secret because the people who know about it don’t want to lose the privilege. Bellisima’s Dominique Strauss is a perfect example. Strauss came to Austin nine years ago, after receiving a college degree and five years of training and apprenticing in Los Angeles. While hair stylists tend to have similar experiences, there is more intimacy in someone working on, massaging, holding your hands and feet. With this connection established, people will share their lives – the old, original idea of a salon. It seems Strauss is trying to bring this connection back.

Dominique Strauss
1206 W. 38th St.

John Carrico

Best Legal Services

We're not talking wrongful prosecution (no matter how "medicinal" your possession was) here. P.A.P.A. is a nonprofit organization concerned about the immigrants and refugees of Central Texas. It offers education as well as free and low-cost legal services to an immigrant community composed of indigent asylum seekers, undocumented immigrant survivors of domestic abuse, and new residents from every part of the globe. They don?t neglect the rest of us, either, promoting community awareness of the human rights issues facing immigrants. Needless to say, lawyer jokes don?t exactly apply.

Political Asylum Project of Austin
314 E. Highland Mall Blvd. #501

Best Branch Library Oasis

Following its recent relocation from a nearby strip mall, the revitalized Windsor Park branch -- behind the regal lions -- became even more indispensable to the neighborhood. There are so few walking destinations in near Northeast (north of Old Mueller Airport) that the library, with its high-demand Internet terminals and affably knowledgable staff, can be a second home for kids and adults alike. Students do their homework, community groups hold their meetings, and books, films, and CDs fly in and out -- there's even a great free mag exchange out front! Hail to a hearty handful of unsung heroes of literacy and neighborliness.

Windsor Park Branch Library
5833 Westminster

Best Reason to Wear Out Your Shoes

Repeated experiences of exemplary customer service underscore the fact that Golden Slipper is a prime example of independent Austin business at its finest. Family-owned since 1950, their reputation goes far beyond offering friendly and knowledgeable service. Counting the dearly departed Doug Sahm among their devoted customers, Golden Slipper is currently run by Abel & Robert Hernandez, who took over from their father. The brothers continue the tradition of excellent work and excellent service.

Golden Slipper Modern Boot & Shoe Repair
1903 S. First

Best Mobile Combatant of Overgrown Lawns

One of the fringe benefits of the droughts of previous summers was the one-cut lawn. You know, you cut it in June and you're good until September. No rain, no growth. This summer of relentless precipitation has the grass growing like, well, grass. When you can't face another day sweltering in pursuit of a clipped sea of green, call your Crazy Aaron lawn dude. He's fast, he's reasonable, he's crazy, and there's a free hug with your cut. That's a bargain.

Crazy Aaron's Yard Service

John Carrico

Speediest Auto Repair Service

Doc’s is a South Congress fixture. Amid stylish boutiques and salons, it has been servicing the area for four years, providing reliable, friendly service and quick turnaround. Owner Brad Watson and his team are expert repairmen, with a specialty in Saabs, though they’ll handle just about anything that rolls into their shop.

Doc's Bar & Grill
1123 S. Congress, 512/448-9181
Doc's Backyard, 5207 Brodie #100, Sunset Valley, 512/892-5200

Best Place to Fight the Ravages of Time

Her hands are like magic, performing minor (and major) cosmetic miracles everyday. With her lilting French accent, comforting demeanor, and vast knowledge, she tends some of the great faces of Austin in need of nourishing treatment from too much sun, too much stress, and just plain age. Turn yourself over to Vickmay: With treatments that include Botox, epilight hair removal, nonsurgical face lifts, photo-facials, pedicures, manicures, skin care, permanent make-up, makeovers, inch-loss body wraps, micro-dermabrasion, and massage therapy, you’ll walk out feeling – and looking – a lot better than when you came in.

Vickmay Skincare & Spa
1715 W. 35th

Best Rehearsal Space

Considering that everyone you bump into these days is in a band (or two), it is no surprise that the Music Lab is thriving. The lab not only offers rehearsal space at hourly and monthly rates, but is also a recording studio, they repair and rent gear, and in case your brain-dead drummer forgets his sticks, you can just saunter on down to the front desk and buy him a new pair. The employees are helpful and friendly while still managing to keep their "Too Cool for School" attitude requisite for A-town musicians.

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

Best Nonprofit Bootstraps to the Financially Disadvantaged

Those looking for a new start and a new job can delve into Lisa?s H.O.P.E. Chest for the clothes to help get them on their way. The unique thing about Lisa?s H.O.P.E. Chest is that it offers work clothes for men as well as women, for blue- as well as white-collar jobs. Need a pair of work boots? A presentable suit? A warm jacket? A dress to wear to a job interview? Lisa's H.O.P.E. Chest is a veritable treasure trove of serviceable clothes that Lisa hopes will Help Others Progress Economically. A full measure of warm encouragement comes with each acquisition.

Lisa's H.O.P.E. Chest
4136 E. 12th

John Carrico

Best Auto Body Experience

For those who believe that nothing good ever happens to a car – or its owner – once the services of a body shop are required, this one's for you. Imagine a job impeccably done, cheerfully done, and done on time. One of the few places where the notion of "service" is alive and well. Who'da thunk it?

Southpark Autobody
1009 Shelby

Best Way to Get From the Warehouse District to the Red River Zone

It's Saturday night and you're enjoying a little live music in the Red River area. When it's time to go home, you realize that in the hustle & bustle of things your car is still parked in the warehouse district -- a walk you're not too excited to do at this late hour. Flag down a friendly bicycle pedicab or rickshaw driver and your problems are solved. The friendliest, quickest, easiest way to get from point A to point B.

Best Place to Go Gently Into That Good Night

Proving that a good death is not an oxymoron, the skilled staff and compassionate volunteers at Hospice Austin's Christopher House ease pain, quiet fears, hold your hand (both literally and euphemistically), and calmly guide you through the final days of life. Patients and family members alike are treated with loving kindness and the utmost respect. From the lush, tranquil gardens to the lovely, sun-drenched patient rooms, Hospice Austin’s Christopher House provides the terminally ill with a perfect place to go gently into that good night.

Hospice Austin's Christopher House
2820 E. MLK

Most 'Home-Grown' Business

Kimas Tejas Nursery keeps Central Texas beautiful, and in the most long-term way, with their sustainable gardening resources. Specializing in native and well-adapted perennials while also stocking organic fertilizers and soil amendments, this Bastrop nursery stretches almost two acres. If the drive out sounds daunting, one can still keep up with the seasons through a quarterly newsletter and the Web site's monthly diary.

Kimas Tejas Nursery
926 Hwy. 71 E.

Best Mobile Mechanic

The car was in the middle of the Lamar bridge during rush hour … dead. Pushing it backward against traffic, we maneuvered it off the road. Never having experienced this before, we fretted … and looked up mobile mechanics in the Yellow Pages. In no time at all, like a cross between a white knight and a grease-monkey, Adam Dollinger arrived with everything necessary to get us on the road, and for a very reasonable fee. Then, when we left the lights on in our sister’s car …

Dollinger Automotive

Best Curly Hair Stylists

We hate our hair: It has a mind of its own. We have had to deal with it our whole lives, the cowlicks, the frizziness. We’ve tried everything – gel, confixer, blowtorches – even the overpriced salons can’t quite get it to look and lay right. We finally tried this salon, buried in the far corner of yet another shopping center in Central Austin. There we found stylists who know how to shape curls into something other than a silly, unkempt mess. We receive more compliments on it than ever before. We are amazed to find that it still manages to sit right, even after prolonged abuse from wind or hats or Barton Springs. We now love our hair.

Estilo Valdez Salon
3700 Jefferson

Best Chance You Stand of Getting Your Darned Nutty Mutt to Mind You

Melanie and William McLeroy are the alpha female and male of this fine doggie training service. Able to domesticate even some wild-eyed Rott-hua-hua mix you picked up at Town Lake Animal Center (you kindhearted soul, you) or improve upon the fanciest, schmanciest traits of your purebred whatever, they will make you love your pooch even more than you already scooby-do.

Taurus Academy
715 S. Lamar, 737/402-8679
6917 McNeil, 737/242-2359
Taurus Academy: Bark & Zoom, 2601 Cardinal Loop, 512/817-2275
12419 Metric, 737/242-2381
3721 RR 620 N., 737/202-2156
6506 Burnet Rd., 512/900-2236

Best Sewing Center

South African emigre Barbara Goldkorn arrived in Austin in 1984 and opened Sew Much More. Since then, the business has survived economic ups and downs, rapid changes in the home-sewing market, and a fire. Sew Much More is an authorized dealer of Viking, Husqvarna, Elna, and Baby Lock sewing machines and sergers. They carry a lot of hard-to-find sewing aids and notions, and their wonderful sewing classes fill up quickly. It's simply a great place to buy your first sewing machine, or your next, and learn how to use it, too.

Sew Much More
3010 W. Anderson

Most Relaxing Shampoo in a Salon

The practice of having the "shampoo girl" wash your hair instead of the stylist doing it himself/herself seems kind of old-school, and we seek out in earnest the hair salons that resist dividing the labor that way. Dave Bain at Vitali Salon is not only most happy to shampoo your head with his own capable hands, but he applies the most splendid, delicious scalp massage as well. To top it off, Dave swathes your face in what he calls "steamy goodness," a hot, wet towel doused with good-smelling toner (even for women). Ahh. Now you're ready for a haircut. Oh, yeah, Dave does a good haircut, too.

Vitali Salon
1511 W. Sixth

Best Groomers

That “dog smell” will permeate everything over time, and if that’s a problem, try taking your best friend down for a bath and trim at West End Grooming. They use no chemicals or tranquilizers and will even personalize your particular pet’s haircut, so your, say, poodle doesn’t have to look like Richard Simmons. On top of that, West End grooms dogs collected by local rescue groups -- like the WEE, Lucky Mutts Rescue, and Animal Trustees of Austin – for free. Owners Fran Adams and Kit Brooking even adopt the animals that no one else wants, just so they can have a happy home ... and, of course, good hair cuts.

West End Grooming
909 W. 24th

Best No-Fuss Alterations

When you’re vertically challenged (some people like to say "petite"), clothes shopping can be a challenge. Not to worry, your new or old duds have friends in Primo Tailors of Austin. They’ll shorten a pant leg, raise the hem of a skirt, or just about any other alteration necessary to make your wardrobe fit to a T. Timely service, great work, no fuss, and smiling faces – Ray and Yolanda Gomez will take care of you.

Primo Tailors of Austin
6615 Airport

Best Knife Sharpening/Tool Honing

This business is housed in a ramshackle old building, a likely holdover from when its location was considered way out of town. Inside, you can get your knives sharpened and tools honed while you wait. And while you wait, well, there are all varieties of knives to peruse in cases and on the walls. And there are some really, really dangerous-looking sharp objects that don't really look like knives, exactly. Some resemble that weapon Worf used to use on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and some look a bit like those ninja stars you see in the movies. We don't know what these things are or what they're for and, frankly, we're hesitant to ask.

The Sharpest Knife
4703 Burnet Rd.

Best Florist to Appease a Rock Star

We confess to insider info here: When Courtney Love threw her famous tantrum (about Ken Lieck's column item on her) at the Four Seasons during SXSW 2002, Cowgirls & Flowers whipped up a to-die-for bouquet of stargazer lilies, baby pink roses, creamy white snapdragons, and fey greenery delivered on the Chron's behalf. Owner Kathryn Miller and her staff worked afterhours to create the floral confection. After graciously accepting them, Love ripped the bouquet apart and used some of the flowers for her interview with News 8's Andy Langer. Confided one longtime SXSW staffer, "I wanted to see her ass out. I wanted to see it out of the Convention Center, out of the city, out of the state."

Cowgirls & Flowers
508 Walsh

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