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2002 Readers Poll
2002 Critics Picks

John Carrico

Best Antiques

Travel into the past as you wander around the different dealers' stalls, down the store's two corridors packed with one-of-a-kind collectibles and some truly fascinating oddities to add to any antique collection or personalize any home. Uncommon Objects has something to brighten everyone's life.

Uncommon Objects
1602 Fortview
512/442-4000
www.uncommonobjects.com

Best Furnishings/Home

Each of these three Texas-bred home furnishings havens expresses a unique take on Southern style. Louis Shanks is at the high, yet not outrageously, priced end of the type of comfy modern décor you'd expect to see in any number of new model homes, while Aqua's version of "modern" is strictly mid-last-century (among other genres and eras), featuring gorgeous one-of-a-kind museum pieces made by the likes of Herman Miller, Heywood-Wakefield, etc. Eurway seems to bridge the gap a bit with well-made reproductions of classic Fifties-Seventies and original comtemporary style at reasonable (yet not cheap!) prices.

Louis Shanks
1105 N. Lamar
512/472-4176
www.louisshanksfurniture.com

Eurway
2236 W. Braker
512/835-4006
www.eurway.com

Best Hardware Store

Whether you need to kill the rats in your dumpy slumlord rental or are looking for certain accouterments to round out a barbecue featuring matching sterling silverware, Breed is the little hardware store that could, and will, be there for you. It's astounding, the broad range of products. It's like taking a trip back into some small town hardware store of yesteryear -- except for all that fancy stuff on the home décor side.

Breed & Co.
718 W. 29th, 512/474-6679
3663 Bee Caves Rd., 512/328-3960
www.breedandco.com

Best Plant Nursery

Red Barn features everything from ponds and water plants to cacti and Christmas trees -- not to mention a stellar reputation among Austinites who demand excellent quality at reasonable prices. Three well-stocked locations make them easily accessible from just about anywhere in town.

Red Barn Garden Center
12881 Pond Springs, 512/335-6964
13858 Hwy. 183 N., 512/335-8093

John Carrico

Best Pet Store

In addition to grooming and lots of pet supplies like cool doggie beds, this top-notch pet store offers all sorts of dietary options, from holistic foods to specialty diets to Steve's Real Food for Dogs and Cats -- so carefully prepared that it's "human edible." (You first...)

Bark n Purr Pet Center
4604 Burnet Rd.
512/452-3883
www.barknpurr.com

Best Drugstore

What other drugstore offers splendiferous burgers, egg sandwiches, grilled cheese, and shakes back at the counter? Not to mention all the cool knick-knacks. And, oh yeah, the health and beauty stuff. Just say yes to Nau's Drugs.

Nau's Enfield Drug
1115 W. Lynn
512/476-1221
www.nausdrug.com

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Austin/Texas Souvenirs

Just a visit to this regal wonder, housed in the old Texas General Land Office (just east of the big pink granite dome we call the Capitol), will fill you with state and local pride. And once you begin to rifle through one of the best collections of Texana books for sale and gaze upon such Texas marvels as bookends made from the very same mold as the hinges on each of the mammoth doors on the Texas State Capitol, you will know that you have truly GTT (Gone to Texas!) and can consider yourself a native for life.

Capitol Complex Visitors Center Gift Shop
112 E. 11th
512/305-8400

Best Bookstore

Here is what Events Coordinator Peter Duggan said on his last day at BookPeople, back in August: "My only official comment is that BookPeople, the Chronicle, and the folks working for these institutions are blessings to the city of Austin." He was quite obviously drunk when he got to the part about us, and we can understand that, but he was reasonably coherent and lucid on the subject of his former employer: The only acceptable reason for you to not grasp how lucky we are to have a bookstore of its magnitude is if you're illiterate. And you're not. You are, we're sure, worried about a certain chain wrapping itself around BookPeople's graceful neck and choking it to death. Don't be. BookPeople has the friendliest and most knowledgeable staff, the most splendid and varied inventory, and the best booksignings around. They'll be fine for another 20 years, at least. As long as you keep reading.

BookPeople
603 N. Lamar
512/472-5050
www.bookpeople.com

Best Comic Books

Well, of course. Not only do they carry the entire available panoply of superhero-type glossies from the Big Two and others, Austin Books blesses readers of more catholic tastes with a huge selection of indy comics and graphic compilations. Jonathan Adams? Kalah Allen? James Kochalka? Dame Darcy? Tim Doyle? Gosh-wow, this is the place!

Austin Books & Comics
5002 N. Lamar
512/454-4197
www.austinbooks.com

Best Specialty Books

Your enduring favorite faces new challenges with the ongoing development plans of Sixth & Lamar, but for now they continue to satisfy your female and feminist needs with musical events, video screenings, BookGroup, and a hearty selection of opinionated stickers and T-shirts. Oh ... and books! Did we mention books?

BookWoman
5501 N. Lamar Ste. 105-A
512/472-2785
www.ebookwoman.com

Best Computer Store

Think Central Market for electronics. Over half of the warehouse that Fry’s Electronics calls home is devoted solely to computers. For those who like to build their own computer, Fry’s has everything you need, as well as any number of roving employees who will help you to the best of their ability. Check out the daily Apple Computer demos to keep up with the latest releases.

Fry's Electronics
12707 MoPac N.
512/733-7000
www.frys.com

Best Gift Shop

Follow the yellow brick road to Emeralds' city of hip girlie fashions. The place for cards, candles, and Betsey Johnson dresses, Emeralds makes finding the perfect gift for any occasion easy. The difficult part is not hoarding it for yourself.

Best Jewelry

Somewhere between their loyal, elder Austin contingent and their recent young, hip Internet followers are the girls at camps near Kerrville who have been known to shoot rifles and dine on camp vittles without ever removing their personalized charm bracelets from James Avery. What brings all these generations together? Years of good business and great service. This is one "import" that Austin loves (for more than 49 years).

James Avery Craftsman
Barton Creek Square Mall, 2901 Capital of TX Hwy., 512/327-6342
Harper Rd., 830/895-6800

Best Clothing

Austin's very own temple of fashion has earned its reputation with cutting-edge styles and creative merchandising. Through constant revising and renewing of their collections, they keep up with the fast pace of fashion unlike any other Austin retailer, bringing the world of high style to our doorstep. By George, we think they've got it!

By George
524 N. Lamar, 512/472-5951
1400 S. Congress, 512/441-8600
www.bygeorgeaustin.com

Best Lingerie/Naughty

Naughty, naughty Austinites ... it seems that Forbidden Fruit has stolen your hearts and lowered your inhibitions again this year. In their three separate locations, they have managed to warehouse enormous collections of subconscious desirables, from educational erotic toys, to body art. Just don't forget to hide it under the bed when Mom comes to visit.

Forbidden Fruit
108 E. North Loop, 512/453-8090
www.forbiddenfruit.com

Best Liquor Store

Hey! Think you're seeing double? Nah, it's not the spirits, it's the twins … Austin's Twin Liquors. Stocking a wide range of wines and wine accessories alongside their already exhaustive selection of spirits, Twin Liquors has once again earned a special place in the hearts and livers of our readers' adult beverage connoisseurs. With a Web site that heralds TwinLiquors.com as ushering in an "evolution in fine wine and spirit sales," the twins seem to know that the best is yet to come. Virtual scotch, anyone?

Twin Liquors
Main office: 107 W. Stassney
512/442-8395
www.twinliquors.com

Best Music Business

Is it due to their fine selection of the best musical instruments? Partly. Is it because of their new and convenient location? Maybe. Is it their 40 years in Austin as a family-run business? Does it have anything to do with the friendly, knowledgeable staff who treat their customers with respect and offer helpful advice unencumbered by judgments about musical taste or gender-biased condescension? You bet your sweet Telefunken it does, brothers and sisters.

Strait Music Co.
2428 W. Ben White, 512/476-6927
13945 Hwy. 183 N., 512/918-3743
www.straitmusic.com

Best Pawn Shop

Luckily for us, sometime long ago Doc Holliday gave up life as a tuberculosis-afflicted gambling gunslinger and settled into a more peaceful existence as a local pawnbroker. Okay, while this might not exactly explain the namesake of Austin’s best pawn shop, it does point to the fact that a visit to Doc Holliday’s is far from a gamble. Step in to one of the many Austin-area locations and explore the wildly satisfying frontier of buying and selling goods pawn-shop style.

Doc Holliday's Pawn Shop/Cash America
611 S. Lamar
512/443-7787

photo by John Anderson

Best Record Store

Waterloo rocks! Apparently we are all in agreement on this fact. This perennial "BOA" winner and fabulous musical smorgasbord has been serving Austin for decades since owner/founder John Kunz began offering what seems like a darned near complete musical inventory of everything from the obscure to well-known, hip to not-so-hip. Don't miss the recommended section or the ever-popular in-store record release parties.

Waterloo Records
600-A N. Lamar
512/474-2500
www.waterloorecords.com

Best Used Records/CDs

Has looking at your CD collection made you feel depressed and uncool? Well take your crappy old disks to the only place where you can still get cash for an Ace of Base CD: Cheapo! Selling back these used embarrassments can get you some nice cool cash to buy some newer or cooler (or even more embarrassing) records.

Cheapo Discs
914 N. Lamar
512/477-4499
www.cheapotexas.com

Best Thrift Store

With everything from slacks and blouses arranged by hue to antediluvian computers and furniture, Goodwill stands as our readers' reigning champion of the thrift world -- all while helping folks with disabilities help themselves in the way of gainful employment.

Goodwill
Main office: 1015 Norwood Park Blvd.
512/637-7100
www.austingoodwill.org

Best Vintage

Austin's favorite place for retro clothing and accessories is Blue Velvet, where their fashion lineup includes mullet wigs, paisley button-downs, bowler hats, AC/DC shirts, and blue jeans that are faded from actual human wear. Yea!

What Makes Austin Austin

When most people not from Austin talk about Austin, it is usually with a note of shock in their voice: They enjoy themselves so much while they are here, and it is Texas after all. But when these out-of-towners wax poetic about our burg, it’s never the bats or the music, it’s the people. The citizens of this small town/big city are genuinely committed to keeping Austin weird, cool, and safe. From the slacker dot-commers who wrote that first business prospectus on a napkin at Star Seeds to the overeducated waitstaff that served them, it is the people of Austin that give us that freshly scrubbed sense of well being, ruddy charm, and effervescent optimism. Working hard or hardly workin’, the people of Austin are always up for the trippy ride called Life.

 
Readers: Services
Critics: Architecture & Lodging

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