2006 Readers Poll
2006 Critics Picks
Best ... uh ... Septic Service

Well, there's just no way around the gamey topic of septic tanks. If you live outside the city in Oak Hill or Manchaca or near the lake, you likely experience the pleasure of country living and an occasional need for septic tank service - pumping, repair, building, etc. And when you call Rainbow Septic, don't be surprised if Jan Witt appears at your door when the truck pulls up. Her expertise on sewer systems and know-how about septic problems are matchless. When she's done, all your troubles will be ... er, flushed away.

Rainbow Septic
2903 Terrain Lane

Best 50 Ways to Love Your Liver

Just lay off the drinks, Jinx. Get an exam, Sam. Take care of yourself, Relf, and get yourself free. Free of that nasty hep C virus that is, or at least get it under control, thanks to the Liver Foundation of Central Texas and their education and referral program. They also offer free testing and financial help for those who can't afford the very expensive treatment. So get on the stick, Dick.

Liver Foundation of Central Texas
PO Box 684672

Best Dirty Name for a Hygienic Place

Let's be clear (as clear as your freshly waxed skin, even): there isn't necessarily anything scandalous about an establishment that calls itself The Strip. (Mothers, rest easy! Those biweekly appointments in day planners were not for job interviews afterall.) Do be judicious when looking for this establishment online, lest you make an appointment for paint-stripping or for someone else to show off the waxing job they had done. When you do find the right name, though, you'll be making an appointment for attentive and thorough service in a soothing environment. Owner and wax specialist Kerra Frueh worked in the nonprofit sector before her hair-removal training, so she waxes philosophical with equal faculty. We're glad she turned her compassion to waxing patrons, though, because waxing strips have never gotten a better reputation.

The Strip
3407 Guadalupe

Best Drive-Through Postal Service

UPS, U-Haul, USPS, packing, copying, faxing, notary public, mailboxes for rent, keys made, and a Chihuahua named Annie – all this from a drive-through window. Drive-Thru Postal is the easiest way to handle the drudgery of mailing and any affiliated tasks, and owners Rick and Venice Wheeler take a great deal of pride in running an efficient, honest operation. Why would you ever want to stand in line to deliver packages again?

Drive-Thru Postal
1712 E. Riverside

Best Force for Theatre Behind the Curtain

You may not have heard of Austin Circle of Theaters – that's because, rather than take center stage, they work behind the scenes for local theatre. They describe themselves as the one who arranges the bride's veil and fluffs her train before she walks down the aisle in splendor. ACOT provides marketing, ticketing, and capacity-building programs to more than 120 theatre, music, and dance groups. Their arts incubator program has produced such established companies as Austin Cabaret Theatre, the Rude Mechanicals, Salvage Vanguard Theater, the Vortex, FronteraFest, and Hyde Park Theatre. And their annual B. Iden Payne Awards acknowledge excellence in local theatre. Supported by membership and donations, ACoT does so much for Austin theatre so that Austin theatre may continue to do so much for Austin.

Austin Circle of Theaters
701 Tillery Ste. A-8 (Box 9)

Best Key to Happiness

There are few things more irritating than being stuck in the middle of a blacktop parking lot at 5pm on a blistering summer day, the sweat pouring from your brow as you stand, staring, longingly, through your car window at the keys dangling from the ignition. In fact, it's a nightmare; trust us, we know. But we also know that there's at least one man in town who you can call to unlock your life and return you to your motorized Freon breeze: John with Austin Lock and Key. Swift, efficient, and reasonably priced, he's the man to call.

Austin Lock and Key
8760-A Research, #165

Best Laser Hair-Removal Specialists

It ain't easy to drop your drawers for strangers, but the funny and nonchalant "hair removal specialists" with 16 years of experience are skilled at putting people at ease at Alite. You lie back on a massage table in a beautiful room draped with vibrant silks and fresh flowers. Take in the feng shui, and prepare to get zapped. Back, beard, full Brazilian bikini – whatever you are lasering, there's no shame here. So many of the local laser hair-removal places are corporate, sanitized chains staffed by perfect spokesmodels. Alite is just the opposite: a refreshing hometown place to contemplate your physical form and adjust nature's plans.

Alite Laser Hair Removal
1412 W. Sixth

Best Laser Operator

Locally owned and operated, Wellsprings is located in a swanky dermatologist office instead of a strip mall. Shannon Hicks, owner of Wellsprings, cannot only have your unmentionables lasered free of hair, but she can also remove tattoos, reduce wrinkles, and has been known to lend her patients books and take prayer requests.

Wellsprings DermaSpa
11671 Jollyville, Ste. 104

Best Long Lost Hair-Doer

For those who knew Phyllis Nunez (aka Sharoo) from back in the day at Gaitan's Barber Shop in Hyde Park, it was a sad day when she left. For those who've been searching high and low for the teeny, wild-tressed lass, fret not. She can now be found in her own little corner of Kent of Europe Salon on Koenig. Specializing in men's cuts and a heckuva scalp massage, Phyllis is back. She uses the name Sharoo in honor of her dad, who gave her that too-cute nickname.

1801 W. Koenig

Kent of Europe
1801 W. Koenig

Best Mechanical Saviors

Because of our office's proximity to the little shop on the corner of 38 1/2 and I-35, we've been asked about the guys over at Dura-Tune. We had no idea. So, we asked around the office, and everyone who had utilized them had nothing but great things to say. Hmmm. Well, on more than one occasion this past year, we have had to send an SOS out to the fellas up the road, and in no time they'd appear ready to get our beater out of whatever rut it found itself in. Since then we've taken the old jalopy over for some serious fine-tunage, and we can now attest that not only do these guys tune in perfect harmony, but their work lasts for the duration. Hence the name.

3810 N. I-35

Best Moving Muscle

So, you couldn't resist that sectional couch at J.C. Penney's Highland Mall closing, or you succumbed to the lure of that weighty armoire at a garage sale. And you own a two-door Toyota, and all your friends with pickups are out of town. Give Chris Rogers a jingle and drop him an e-mail. He'll be your extra muscle on that move, your trailer-hauler for that last heavy load, and, if you need it, the right guy to move that antique furniture from room to room.

Chris Rogers

Best Original Rock & Roll Realtor

Austin is blessed with a plethora of hip realtors who once worked the music business - Laura Croteau of Rabid Cat Records and Readers Poll winner Don Harvey of Ian McLagan's Bump Band come to mind immediately. Yet it was Joe Bryson, owner and founder of the original indie record store of the Seventies, Inner Sanctum, who first turned that passion for music into a moneymaking career elsewhere. Bryson's two-plus decades selling real estate have made him one of the smartest, most knowledgable brokers in town - dig the string of acronyms behind his name!

Joe Bryson
Real Estate Alliance
3701 Guadalupe #105

Best Reason to Take Your Disk Out for a Drive

In college, Whitney Tracy broke his roommate's Macintosh during finals and had to figure out how to fix it. Lucky for the rest of us, because after stints in Apple's tech support division and rocking a few independent shops, Whitney found his own squad of badass technophiles in 2004. Their motto, "Relax, it's HappyMac," sticks because they still offer one-on-one appointments and (gasp!) free advice over the phone, as well as new and used machines (trade in that bad boy!) and in-store or on-site troubleshooting (house calls!). Don't tiptoe around your Mac's expired warranty: Relax.

Happy Mac
601-A E. 53rd

Best Salon, Gallery, Boutique and Performance Space

Pink Salon, Gallery, Boutique, and Performance Space has provided award-winning service for more than seven years. But it's not just the service that's such a draw; it's the atmosphere that the clients and visitors adore. Owned by the exotic Deborah Carter (hairdresser, artist, writer, and illustrious astrologer) and her daughter Farah Carter, Pink is a world unto itself, a bastion of SoCo style, a bustling salon and boutique by day – loaded with local designs and an ever-changing array of local artists – and venue by night, certain nights, notably First Thursday, when the salon fills to the rafters with fans watching fashion, dance, and music happen live. There you are, in the Pink.

Pink Hair Salon & Gallery
1204 S. Congress

Best Southside Remodeler

Dreamed about that new kitchen, converting the garage, or a deck in the back yard? Been scared of all the horror stories about remodeling scams or shoddy work? Here's a remodeling contractor whose excellent work you can bank on: George Felix Minor Home Repair. What makes him so good? Fine, conscientious work, of course, but here's the bonus. Believe him when he suggests replacing the electrical box or tells you something is a fire hazard. Felix works as a firefighter in South Austin for 12 years and in the Marines before that. Now that's professional!

George Felix Minor Home Repair
12101 Underwood Dr

Best Unsubluxator

Tense? Stiff? Strained? In pain? Well, you are probably subluxated, meaning that the nerves in your spine may be irritated by the shift of vertebrae. To undo it, a round of heat therapy, electro stim, chiropractic adjustment, and massage might just do the trick. Oh, what affable Gary Dow and crew can do for you in a pinch.

Dow Chiropractic
900 1/2 N. Lamar

Most Glamourous Transportation

It's not red hot, it's pink hot … Pink Car service, that is. Created for the sensibilities of a woman (and the men who love them), Pink Car offers a pink stretch limo or pink Cadillac Escalade with a female chauffeur attired in pink. Clients are treated to a pink rose with pink champagne (or pink lemonade if you prefer) and pink-wrapped chocolates. Pink Car founders Vickie Roan (of the Menagerie) and her daughter, Jenny Roan Forgey, have one goal with this uniquely Austin service: to see to it that you're tickled pink.

Pink Car Service

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