Entertainment
2005 Readers Poll
2005 Critics Picks

Bret Brookshire

Best Annual Festival

Austin now features so many festivals of worldwide recognition that you could almost be tempted to take them for granted. But take them for granted we will not. In three short years ACL has established itself as a festival to be modeled after and has featured memorable performances from such heavyweights as R.E.M., the Pixies, and Wilco as well as giving local acts like Pong and the Real Heroes a chance to broaden their fan base.

Austin City Limits Music Festival
300 W 6th Ste. 2100
512/478-7211
www.aclfestival.com

Best Bartender

Asian Love – not only Duc Dihn's signature drink, but, if you'll forgive us, his signature style. Serving up a heady mix of class, wit, and presentation since 219 West's inception, he's tended his way through college and successfully shakes (not stirs) this up with two, count 'em, two businesses on the side. Entrepreneurial, a networking genius, and a mean martini? Get some love on!

John Anderson

Best Beer on Tap

"80 varieties of draft on the wall/100 bottles of beer/Nestled downtown, buy another round/80 varieties of draft on the wall." Whether the mood calls for a dark corner on a plush leather chair or sunshine on a spacious deck, the Ginger Man is the yin-yang blend of summer and winter and a consistent Readers favorite for their vast selection of brews on tap served up by their famously friendly and well-studied staff.

The Ginger Man
301 Lavaca
512/473-8801
aus.gingermanpub.com

Best Beer/Wine Prices

Grapevine bends over backward to stock their 18,000 square feet with the most extensive selection of spirits in the city; if they don't have it, you don't want it (but they probably still can get it). This density keeps prices low and quality high. They sell single bottles of beer in every imaginable brand – dozens from 17 countries – so you can expand your horizons with a creative six-pack. Believing that no wine is a good wine if you can't find it, Grape Vine has over 5,000 labels representing every important wine region in the world (proudly boasting Texas's largest Italian and German wine array). The market's equally impressive Web site features an entire column of specials and deals for all tastes and budgets.

Best Beer/Wine Selection

Grape Vine bends over backward to stock their 18,000 square feet with the most extensive selection of spirits in the city; if they don't have it, you don't want it (but they probably still can get it). This density keeps prices low and quality high. They sell single bottles of beer in every imaginable brand – dozens from 17 countries – so you can expand your horizons with a creative six-pack. Believing that no wine is a good wine if you can't find it, Grape Vine has more than 5,000 labels representing every important wine region in the world (proudly boasting Texas' largest Italian and German wine array). The market's equally impressive Web site features an entire column of specials and deals for all tastes and budgets.

Best Cheap Date Place

The Drafthouse may have been named Entertainment Weekly's "Best Theater in the Nation," but how does that stack up to the annual nod given by the loyal readers of The Austin Chronicle? Anyway, could you possibly imagine a better theatre? Maybe 50 years in the future, when theatres offer immersive, interactive technologies and in-house massages. But, you know, that theatre will probably be the Drafthouse. And if National Geographic were to make a documentary about the human courtship ritual, it would offer scenes of the first date: the meal, the entertainment, and the dark corner for making out. What place better combines all three than our own Alamo Drafthouse? If you go, you might even be able to see that documentary.

Alamo Drafthouse
Alamo Drafthouse Village, 2700 W. Anderson #701, 512/861-7030
Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, 1120 S. Lamar, 512/861-7040
Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz, 320 E. Sixth, 512/861-7020
Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane, 5701 W. Slaughter, 512/861-7060
Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline, 14028 U.S. Hwy. 183 N., 512/861-7070
www.originalalamo.com

Best Cocktails/Cocktail Menu

Named not for Texas' San Saba River but for a volcano in the Caribbean Sea, Saba overflows with tropical cocktail concoctions. One specialty they make by the raftload is the tastiest mojito to ever touch lips. The house fave, they're fresh, stiff, and fruity. Another specialty is their Saba Island Tea, a Long Island Iced Tea with an altogether different sort of island tinge. They also serve the Michelada: a bottle of Corona, lime, a salted glass of ice, and Bloody Mary mix. One sip and you're on island time!

Best Dance Club

The staff is still sexy; owner/bon vivant John Wickham is still one friendly mofo; but most importantly the music is still keeping everyone moving to the beat. This "gothic and industrial haven" on Red River has quite a loyal following of booty-waggin' clubgoers. Live music and events are for Thursday through Saturday, while Wednesday and Sunday are reserved for the much-anticipated underground Eighties nights. Whatever the night, when you find yourself at Elysium, get ready to lose yourself on the dance floor.

Elysium
705 Red River
512/478-8385
www.elysiumonline.net

Best Drag Queen/Drag King

"I'm a man/I'm a goddess I'm a man/Well I'm a virgin I'm a man/I'm a blue movie" Oh, sorry! We got lost in our little reverie there. The thought of Leslie, our favorite homeless transvestite, gallivanting around town in that thong does that to us. And apparently to our readers, too, who year after year find fitting categories to award Austin's very own royalty. Well, this was a new category, and local stud Kings N Things' Jack King Off and delicious diva Taylor Trinity came darned close, tying for runner-up. But for 2005 there is only one queen, and his/her name is Leslie.

Best Gay/Lesbian Hangout

About a year ago, the humidity began to rise. The barometer was getting low. Our readers asked around, and everyone told 'em that Fourth Street was the place to go. For on that night – just about half past 10 – for the first time in a looooong time, it started to rain men … and womyn. When the clouds dissipated, a new rainbow decorated the Warehouse District. With an outdoor patio and a staff that is surely heaven-sent, no wonder everyone's saying "hallelujah!"

Rain on 4th
217 W. Fourth
512/494-1150
www.rainon4th.com

Best Jukebox

It's been a decade since the Casino first took this top honor, and may it rule for another 10! To celebrate, we have a game for you, lucky reader: Head toward the honored jukebox, insert a quarter, and pick a song at random. The odds are stacked in your favor and the payout is almost always better than a slot machine. Whether it's the Buzzcocks, the Flaming Groovies, or Elvis, you've hit the jackpot.

Casino el Camino
517 E. Sixth
512/469-9330
www.casinoelcamino.net

Best Karaoke

Much to the chagrin of music snobs everywhere, the so-called "fad" that washed upon these shores more than a decade ago is still singing its heart out (if a bit off key). A phenom once exclusive to Japan, karaoke is now part of the American office party underbelly with mainstream counterparts in the forms of clubs and special bar nights. Way back in the day, Common Interest said nay to the naysayers and has been going strong, offering the very best of the "empty orchestra" to regulars and the newbies alike. Long may the parrot croon!

Common Interest
8440 Burnet
512/453-6796
www.ciaustin.com

Bret Brookshire

Best Live (Club/Party) DJ

A taste of São Paulo for the late-night ravers, DJ Tarek keeps it going until the cops show up. And even after they do. Resident DJ every Saturday night at Barcelona, he keeps it underground but flaming hot. Bringing a hint of Brazilian flair to Austin, his set is a bilingual exploration of break beats, hip-hop, Latin syncopation, and dance, dance, dance fever. Getting hot and sweaty is not optional. You won't need a translator to feel it, love it ... own it. Because, seriously, this man has the talent, his ear to the ground, and his finger on the pulse.

209 E. Sixth St.
www.barcelonaaustin.com

Best Live Music Venue

You can't have Austin without Stubb's. Wafts of their special sauce simmer the backyard air electrified by the crowds: eager, poised on the hill, and ready to rock. The sound is almost as dope as the atmos (almost), with acoustics surprisingly on-point for an outdoor venue of this size. Stubb's hosts just about any genre: we see Patty Griffin crooners all the way to Insane Clowns with faces painted. Stubb's does it all. Rocking Red River with barbecue, bands, and beer. So Texas it hurts.

Stubb's
801 Red River
512/480-8341
www.stubbsaustin.com

photo by Sandy Carson

Best Local Music Label

The blues ain't dead, baby. No sir. You can hear the pulse from here. Some genres wait for the scene to come around. Others create it and take the rest of the world by storm. You know the name: Antone's, an Austin dynasty. You've seen the store, hocking vinyl and CDs by the bushel. You know the club. But did you know that since 1972 the blues have been alive and kicking right here in Austin, thanks to Antone's Records, the label? Boasting such local faves as Lavelle White, Kim Wilson, Toni Price, Guy Forsyth, and so many more, Antone's makes distributing Texas to the rest of the world a neighborhood thing.

Best Lounge

The bartenders are hot (especially that tiny ball of assmaster energy, mulleted and rough enough to scare the boys – you know who you are). The drinks are boozey if you know someone, and the lines are usually packed enough that the Darwinian grab is generally offset by a chance for a friendly chat. Throw in punk rock karaoke, a possible Roller Girl brawl, and a hidden bar in the back, and too cool for school just made the grade.

Best Movie Theatre

The Drafthouse may have been named Entertainment Weekly's "Best Theater in the Nation," but how does that stack up to the annual nod given by the loyal readers of The Austin Chronicle? Anyway, could you possibly imagine a better theatre? Maybe 50 years in the future, when theatres offer immersive, interactive technologies and in-house massages. But, you know, that theatre will probably be the Drafthouse. And if National Geographic were to make a documentary about the human courtship ritual, it would offer scenes of the first date: the meal, the entertainment, and the dark corner for making out. What place better combines all three than our own Alamo Drafthouse? If you go, you might even be able to see the documentary.

Alamo Drafthouse
Alamo Drafthouse Village, 2700 W. Anderson #701, 512/861-7030
Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, 1120 S. Lamar, 512/861-7040
Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz, 320 E. Sixth, 512/861-7020
Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane, 5701 W. Slaughter, 512/861-7060
Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline, 14028 U.S. Hwy. 183 N., 512/861-7070
www.originalalamo.com

Best Place to Drink Alone

Aushtin isss the Life Werld of the Capitollll! We luvv to go out an tie on one by ourselfs at a number f clubs and placces. Buttttt sometimsh, is juss easier to stayy! Put! Awwwwwww, hell. URP. At leasssssht we know where our own john issssh. Johnnnn? JOHN! Johnnnnny-John? Oh, john.

Best Place to Find a Lover

Prospective partners in passion are all over Austin just waiting to be found; you just have to know what you're looking for to know where to look. Our readers have a three-way tie of suggestions suitable for sating a wide array of tastes. For your pick of the party animal herd, they suggest Sixth Street. For the free-spirited making the nature scene, head on over to Barton Springs, where you're sure to find someone who floats your boat. If all of this is too overwhelming, and you feel like crawling back to your musty bed and not leaving the house for days, well, there's always the World Wide Web. No excuses. Get out there and get some.

Sixth Street
between I-35 and Congress

Barton Springs Pool
2201 Barton Springs Rd.
512/867-3080
www.austintexas.gov/department/barton-springs-pool

Best Place to Watch Hipsters

Whether the sun is setting on First Thursday or not, SoCo is always a safe bet for both eye candy and just desserts. While clothing, shoes, hair, tattoos can all be bought within mere steps of one another on this bustling strip, the attitude pulling it all together cannot. Patio seating as de rigeur provides ample perches for eating and drinking while musing and perusing over the ones who can. Come nightfall these very same combinations of rock-star hair, distressed jeans, and retro belt buckles convene at Emo's for requisite rounds of Lone Star and rock.

South Congress Avenue

Best Porn Rental/Purchase

In days of yore, adult shopping was limited to dimly lit stores hidden away on the outskirts of town, where the combed-over selection was meek, the attendants gruff and gnarly, and the patrons shuffled quietly by in their trench coats. Thank the heavens for Dreamers. Two easily accessible locations, vast selections, professional and knowledgeable staff; it's not called "The Store for Lovers" for naught: The one-stop shop locals love to get their (new, nude, lewd, and/or previously viewed) lovin'.

Dreamers
3401 N. I-35
512/469-0539
www.dreamersdvd.com

Best Video/DVD Rental/Purchase

Video stores plaster every corner, their garish corporate logos visible blocks away. Local fave, Vulcan Video, discreetly housed on side streets, still stands out amidst the competition. Huge selections of domestic and foreign films, current and future cult classics, and its unique Directors wall, make perusing the shelves at Vulcan almost as entertaining as watching the film itself. Add the input of an exhaustively informed staff, and you can be sure there will be no wasted celluloid in your final selection.

Vulcan Video
4411 Russell, 512/326-2629
www.vulcanvideo.com

 
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