2006 Readers Poll
2006 Critics Picks
Best Funtime Free-for-All

On the first Thursday of every month, Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse gets filled to the brim with Austin's queerest of queers coming out for a DIY talent show (it is truly do-it-yourself at this very open mic). Your affable hosts, Silky and Kai, present a perfect mixture of feel-good, camp-counselor energy, vaudevillian gags and skits, and arty goofiness; reminding us exactly what we should be proud of: the creativity, fearlessness, and love that forever bonds freaks and things you see, thankfully, here in Austin.

Camp Camp!

Best Group Effort

The only surprise for us was that somebody actually beat them. Well, not really: We knew they were good, but we didn't know they'd accomplish so much so quickly. Neither did the 72 teams they snuck up on. South Flavas – comprising performance poets from the weekly Neo Soul slam at Antonio's Tex-Mex – skyrocketed to a second-place finish (Denver finally held them off to emerge as champion) in their debut NPS, which came to Austin for the first time since 1998 and will return in 2007. Watching Joe Brundidge, Michelle Desiree, Brian Francis, Trey Stepter, Kim Taylor, and coach Mike Whalen practice group pieces in the weeks leading up to the event was revelatory; watching them upset the field, spectacular.

Austin Slam

Best Mariachi

Craving Mexican food on a Thursday? Austin certainly has plenty of spots that can satisfy, but only one place offers the hottest damn salsa this side of the Rio Grande and live mariachi soloist James Broadway, strumming and serenading into the night.

Little Mexico Restaurant
2304-A S. First

Best Maybe I'll Have One More ...

Slice, pint, play on the jukebox … favorite pizza place. While the suckers to the south and east might wonder why the Parlor opened its second location so close to the original on North Loop, we in the area aren't complaining. How life-affirming is it to feast on the fresh and bubbly haute-punk pies – getting hungry just thinking about them, seriously, and we ate lunch, like, 20 minutes ago – at one spot and then to walk off the calories en route to beers and maybe a band at the other? No clue, but it's nice to know we can find out if we wanna. Bonus: coffee, Wi-Fi, and the Movie Store right next door.

photo by John Anderson

Best Neighborhood Nightlife Secret

Check out Thursday nights in Clarksville, where, at this delicious little Italian Bistro, Glover Gill (of 8 1/2 Souvenirs fame) takes the stage with a handful of friends and electrifies the mostly local crowd with two hours of Tango. The regular dancers help add some flavor to the scene as well – some of the best tango we have seen since Scent of a Woman. For now, their identities remain secret … as do the clandestine salsa shows on Friday nights. Show up early to ensure a good seat while you eat, drink, and try to muster up the courage to dance.

1213 West Lynn

Best New New Year's Party

New Year's Eve used to belong to drunken revelers, then last December a group took back the night for everyone else. First Night Austin commandeered Downtown from Auditorium Shores to the Capitol for 10 hours of family-friendly performances and demonstrations by artists and community groups. The results were dazzling: men in suits rappelling down the Radisson, dancers gliding through skyscraper lobbies, a dragon of light floating on Town Lake, giant puppets, a grand parade. It was a cultural blowout! And best of all, some 100,000 people turned out to sample the wonders. Now, that's what we call a party!

First Night Austin
515 Congress #2050

Best Place to Play SuperChexx and Revel in the Infinite Regressions

Whether your idea of an infinite regression is listening to Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" ("You make the rockin' world go 'round!") over and over and over or reliving your college rathskeller glory days impersonating the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team in a rousing match of Super Chexx, you can do it all and at the same time at South First's favorite watering hole. But the real infinite regression is in the bathroom. No, we're not talking about reverting back to Freud's anal phase. We're talking about the four walls (!!!) of mirrors that surround you ass you doo your bidness. Disconcerting? Nah. But one helluva mind-blow after a few too many brewskis.

G&S Lounge
2420 S. First

Best Place to Pretend You Have an Interscope Expense Account

Downtowners are of two radically different minds about the "Booty Bar": either they love it or dismiss it as hipsters gone wild. Then there are those who love it because it's hipsters gone wild. Whatevs, anywhere Blur's "Girls + Boys" comes on at closing time twice in 10 days is fine by us. Because the local proprietors, Trail of Dead's Jason Reece and his lovely wife Chi Paek, couldn't be more gracious hosts, the Austin branch of this nationwide franchise is something they sure don't have in New York, Vegas, or L.A.: a down-home bar for the beautiful people and the best source of material Misprint magazine will ever have.

Best Place to Recharge Your Cha Cha

Two left feet got you down? Don't worry, Footworks has got you covered! Their staff are not only experienced and friendly but an integral part of the Austin dance community. Plus you'll get more attention because their classes are relatively small. Located in the warehouse district, Footworks offers group/private classes in salsa, ballroom, country, Argentine tango, swing, Lindy, and more.

Footworks Dance Center
403 W. Second

Best Place to Watch Granddad Cut a Rug

Going to Donn's makes us look forward to growing older. The amazing septuagenarian dancers totally school the young whippersnappers who won't dance until they've have four beers. Several of the veteran ladies have better legs than the twentysomethings who watch the two-stepping, dazed by the graceful chemistry the older women have with their partners. Couples get up to dance hour after hour, finally making us understand what retirement is really for: partying.

Donn's Depot
1600 W. Fifth

Best Porch for Smoking, Drinking, Headbanging

What's best about this little record store is its seemingly unending series of free shows. Because of the pint-sized proprietor's musical palate, the riffage is usually heavy and always loud. Sometimes there's a keg, and sometimes you've got to hoof it to the Cool Store around the corner for a 40. But invariably, the kids will be spilling out of the tiny hallway that serves as the viewing deck and onto the roomy porch, trickling down the steps and milling under the big tree in the parking lot. It's throwback to high school days in any small Southern town, where the air is balmy, the beer is cheap, and the time is slow to pass.

Best Reason to Pawn Your Karaoke Machine

That K-Tel Hit Machine is one of the most beloved bands in originality obsessed Austin should be no surprise to anyone who's seen them do "Hot Legs." Or packed into Antone's for their ELO tribute. Or salivated over their looming "Eighties explosion." What started as a goof among friends has certainly grown – have them quote their fee sometime – but hasn't really changed; it's still a bunch of friends, who happen to be some of Austin's most talented musicians, getting together to jam on songs they all grew up on. The songs may be other people's, but what makes K-Tel so delicious is that they do them with a style all their own.

K-Tel Hit Machine

Best Restaurant Jazz Outside of New Orleans

Besides what may be the finest Creole dining in town, the second location of this Pflugerville-born restaurant has created a weekend jazz haven in the revitalized heart of Downtown's Eastside. While Brenda "Ms. B" McGowan (who occasionally moonlights as a waitress in her own restaurant) first offers her floor to Big Easy musicians who have taken refuge in Austin while their neglected home continues to be neglected, anyone who can play is welcome. The restaurant may close at 10pm, but the music keeps pumping for another couple of hours – and is a stone's throw away from nearby joints like the Longbranch and the Victory Grill and close to both Red River and Sixth Street.

Best Stripper

With a rockin' bod and a sassy personality, the stud they call Magnum is the Magic Bullet of Austin strippers – you know, personal, versatile, and does any job in 10 seconds or less. And like the challenge of shopping for wacky kitchen gadgets on late-night TV, shopping for strippers can be a crapshoot. Who knows what they're made of, or which one of them will actually get the job done? Fortunately, there are a few out there who are worth every penny (or in this case, every dollar bill). Magnum is the perfect example of this theory. And we bet he takes longer than 10 seconds.


Best Tourist Destination for Your Bachelor Brother

He's way too classy for a strip club and far too hip and urbane for one of those home-cookin' places. Why not show your bro' one of the last Texas biergartens? This 140-year-old watering hole has been the gathering place for generations of Texas politicians and exuberant Longhorn fans. Head on down on Thursday night, grab some suds, tuck into your schnitzel, and soak in the history to the oompah soundtrack provided by the Wurst Band. He'll never look at Austin the same way.

Scholz Garten
1607 San Jacinto

Best Way to End a Night on the Town

There's no better way to end a night on the town than by going down to the dark basement of the Elephant Room to enjoy live jazz and a drink or three. On any night of the week, expect to see some of the most talented musicians in the city — from UT music professors to established jazz quintets — jamming on the Elephant Room stage. Smooooooooth.

Elephant Room
315 Congress

Biggest Drag (Conference)

It's an annual international celebration harnessing the performance-fueled energy of the chicks-with-packages and 'staches-to-die-for set: IDKE, the International Drag King Extravaganza. This year (next week!), it's in Austin. Boo-yah. With keynote gender revolutionary Leslie Feinberg, author of queer cult novel Stone Butch Blues, and the DJ stylings of Lesbian on Ecstasy's Lynne T, not to mention that for the first time, the international king fest will feature drag queens, our town surely knows how to do it right. Hosts with the mosts! Gay bars, local restaurants, and even the Palmer Events Center will be pulsating with the excitement of this weekend gender throwdown, getting bent with drag kings flying, driving, and hitching in from all over creation. The dapper-er the dandier, these handsome hounds will converge to wow us all with spot-on skits, films, art shows, an academic conference, and of course, dancing until sweaty, sweaty, sweaty. All aboard!

PO Box 2211

Most Smoooooooov New DJ

First he goes down. Down low. Chill. Downtempo. Ambient. Low. Then a dose of lounge spreads across the mix, sending vibes even lower, slower, like hips on a perpetual grind. Electrical grind. Then he takes it a little further, deeper. A tease. A flush. A wash of chill. The name Polaris may imply "north," but this DJ of the sensual is all about the south, the lower reaches of your belly, past the manipura, the solar plexus, and into the swadhisthana, the deep down sacral chakra. Down girl, down.


One Reason Mondays Don't Totally Blow

When else can you see Debbie Harry stoned on cable access and celebrate Wayne Newton's birthday? Music Mondays at the downtown Alamo have become the place where $2 will make you hollah - at the screen - thanks to badass programmer, creator, and music lover Kier-La Janisse. Everything from obscure French new wave to glam rock to NYC noise gets its 90 minutes, and every once in a while a local band gets to rock beforehand, completing the unholy trinity of music, film, and booze.

Alamo Drafthouse
Alamo Drafthouse Village, 2700 W. Anderson #701, 512/861-7030
Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, 1120 S. Lamar, 512/861-7040

Critics: Arts & Culture
Critics: Food

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