Entertainment
2006 Readers Poll
2006 Critics Picks
Best Annual Festival

Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges! We do, however, need masks, sunscreen, and gallons of water to protect ourselves from the punishing elements while we’re waiting in line for cold drinks. Oh, and enjoying all all those awesome bands – Al Green, Cat Power, Elvis Costello, Massive Attack, Tom Petty, Aimee Mann, Gnarls Barkley! They almost make braving Mother Nature’s more sadistic side worth it.

Capital Sports & Entertainment
98 San Jacinto #430
512/478-7211
www.planetcse.com

Charles Attal Presents
98 San Jacinto #430
512/385-3602
www.capresents.com

Best Bartender

Last year, our readers clued us in to the wonders of 219 West's Duc Dihn, known for his signature libation, Asian Love, and his signature style of debonaire drinkery. This year, add to your list of cocktail curators one wonderful Emily of Elisium. Known for her attentive and sweet demeanor, Em pours 'em mean and neat and dry or sweet. And if you aren't careful, you'll fall prey to her specialty, the Bloodshot, a Jim Jones Kool-Aid affair that'll have your eyes in the same condition the next day. Then you'll just have to keep them closed – so you can dream of Emily!

219 West
612 W. Sixth
512/474-2194
www.219west.com

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

Best Beer on Tap

With more than 75 revolving beers on tap – not to mention 100 bottles of beer on the wall – it's no wonder that Fourth Street beer lovers' haven the Ginger Man capitalizes on the Beer on Tap category. One of four Ginger Mans, the Austin hold boasts international brews, ciders, and wines to play Prozac to your thirst.

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

Best Beer/Wine Prices
HEB

HEB is the true one-stop shopping destination. After you've picked up some fresh produce, soy milk, and maybe a little sushi; delve into their extensive and impressive beer-and-wine section for an excellent array of hooch at prices that can't be beat.

HEB
7015 Village Center Dr., 512/502-8445
2400 S. Congress, 512/442-2354
2701 E. Seventh, 512/478-7328
10710 Research #200, 512/794-8221
6900 Brodie, 512/891-8900
11521 FM 620 N., 512/249-0558
2508 E. Riverside, 512/448-3544
201 FM 685 N., Pflugerville, 512/251-0002
1080 E. 290, Elgin, 512/285-4168
500 Canyon Ridge Dr., 512/973-8143
5808 Burnet, 512/453-8864
7112 Ed Bluestein #125, 512/926-1491
9414 N Lamar, 512/835-5400
600 W. William Cannon, 512/447-5544
6001 W. Parmer, 512/249-0400
5800 W. Slaughter, 512/301-9770
www.heb.com

Best Beer/Wine Selection

It may sound like a tall tale, but with more than 5000 labels in stock, it's easy to believe that Texas' largest selection of German and Italian wines can be found here. Add to that largesse a beer selection spanning 20 countries, and you have the stuff legends are made of. Bridal registry, party planning, and home-delivery services round out the bill.

Best Cheap Date Place

Tim and Karrie League’s minicinema-chain has been open for a decade; try imagining Austin without it. While the Rolling Roadshow made Alamo a national institution, ever-soaring downtown business rates almost closed the original downtown site. Yet even with those financial pressures, the Leagues have stayed true to their ambition of providing accessible, affordable, and innovative cinema, whether it’s the regular, free midnight Weird Wednesday or Terror Thursday series, throwing the doors open for World Cup screenings, or the perfect coupling of cuisine and ciné.

Best Cocktails/Cocktail Menu

From call brand martinis and mojitos to gourmand comfort food like chipotle macaroni and mini caprese burgers, everything we've ever enjoyed at this downtown hot spot has been simply scrumptious. We hear they even grow their own vegetables – how Austiny! Whether you're looking for a nice cocktail or cocktail corn dogs, 219 West has got you covered. And now they've expanded their happy hour to include Saturdays – yay!

219 West
612 W. Sixth
512/474-2194
www.219west.com

Best Dance Club

Four years running, and John Wickham’s Elysium is holding strong as Austin’s Best Dance Club. Whether it’s New Wave, no wave, goth, house, electroclash, Eurotrash, or the occasional Eighties revival band, the Elysium is the fabric of Austin nightlife. The drinks are cheap, the dance floor huge, and there are few things cooler than a remote-controlled smoke machine.

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

Best Drag Queen/Drag King

Tough as nails and smooth as silk, divine diva Jamé Perry has worked the Austin clubs for years. Be it Mary J. Blige, Beyoncé or Li'l Kim, Miss Perry's got 'em all covered with her inimitable style and consummate showmanship … or is it showwomanship? Either way, watching this drag doll is no drag at all. Same goes for Dusty Sadsack, aka, Jimmy Dean, the new kid on the block. Hard as nuts and soft as an infant's behind, this brand-new baby king has the ladies by the aortas. Whether slicked down with a buttload of Murray's pomade or in his/her bro-fro au natural, Dusty is no sad sack on the stage. And since the world-renowned International Drag King Extravaganza is happening here in October 2006, look for both of these winners representing Austin to the world!

Jame Perry
www.charliesaustin.com

Dusty Sadsack
www.myspace.com/haughty_hottie

Best Gay/Lesbian Hangout

“I’m only happy when it rains,” crooned Garbage lead Shirley Manson. Austin’s gay community appears to agree. Offering weekly karaoke, blasting out dance and (thankfully) hip-hop’s latest, and offering some of the cutest bar staff in tight shirts, Rain’s meteoric rise should come as no surprise. And with newbie Fabric and old timers Rainbow Cattle and Oilcan's, Rain has solidified the Fourth/Fifth Street parallel as Austin’s own gay(er) district.

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

Best Jukebox

We couldn’t think of a better soundtrack machine for this eclectic neighborhood bar, either. An 11-year streak shows you agree. Outside of the occasional Ramones staple, you’re guaranteed to hear something new each visit. The genre jumping can be a pleasant surprise – kinda like walking through a gargoyle-themed dungeon bar, past Hell's Kitchen, to an Aztec garden patio.

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

Best Karaoke

While the choice between karaoke venues might seem immaterial, consider this: “How confident are you in front of a deeply inebriated crowd?” If you were short-listed by a Simon Cowell-inspired reality contest, consider the recently reconstructed Common Interest, where brave souls have been belting tunes since 1974. However, if you’d prefer not to subject total strangers, no matter their degree of incomprehension, to a mangled version of Journey’s "Small Town Girl," Austin Karaoke’s private rooms might be a better fit.

Austin Karaoke Studio
6808 N. Lamar Ste. B-120
512/323-9822
www.austinkaraoke1.com

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

Best Live (Club/Party) DJ

No shit, this guy's a vegetarian. And a Terp fan. No wonder those Real World brats never left the Rooster. The place is packed, nightly, with hot crowds drunkenly muttering "That DJ." What is he up to this time? Is it a spoof video, showing a nut-hugging version of the DJ as Britney Spears? Or is it a freshly spun set that gets you four sets of digits? Or any one of his many get-the-crowd-into-it-and-rowdy (that's rowdy) antics that spin frenzies of excitement, wall to wall. You might just get diz-zay. Really.

Dizzy Rooster
306 E. Sixth
512/236-1667
www.thedizzyrooster.com

Best Live Music Venue

Emo's: dark, loud, and hip. Antone's: colorful, rootsy, and historic. Those might be generalizations, but you'd be hard-pressed to find two live-music venues that differed more. Nevertheless, both clubs boast regular clientele, top-notch bookings, and fantastic sound. Where Emo's concentrates on contemporary rock & roll, Antone's leans more toward blues-based rhythms. Emo's is to Spoon as Antone's is to Bob Schneider. Whatever your cup of tea, these two venues are your favorites of which to take a sip.

Best Lounge

No one ever gets tired of those limestone walls. Half patio bar, half red-and-black lounge, de Ville fills all of our needs for gathering, entertainment, and libation. With more music right around the corner – not to mention their regular karaoke gigs – de Ville hits for the third year in a row as Best Lounge.

Best Movie Theatre

Tim and Karrie League’s minicinema-chain has been open for a decade; try imagining Austin without it. While the Rolling Roadshow made Alamo a national institution, ever-soaring downtown business rates almost closed the original downtown site. Yet even with those financial pressures, the Leagues have stayed true to their ambition of providing accessible, affordable, and innovative cinema, whether it’s the regular free midnight Weird Wednesday or Terror Thursday series, throwing the doors open for World Cup screenings, or the perfect coupling of cuisine and ciné.

Best Place to Drink Alone

It's been one of those days. Work sucked. The last person you want to see is your lazy-ass roommate. What you need right now is a ginormous burger, a nice Pernod/Maker's/Lone Star, minimal conversation, and Johnny Cash singing in your ear. Choose your poison and go with it.

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

Best Place to Find a Lover

It happens every time. You're just stopping in to buy your week's supply of oysters and chocolate, and the next thing you know, you're back up at Make-Out Point (what you've come to call the second floor courtyard). It makes sense: Your witty remarks are audible (hear that, Sixth Street?), there's no swimsuit body anxiety (sorry, Barton Springs), and a shopping cart full of personal items can be far more revealing than the most ardent online profile.

Best Place to Watch Hipsters

With darker plumage and a diet of veggie chips and Roppolo’s pizza, the hipster is more comfortable in an urban setting. Unlike the reclusive cassowary, this species flocks around central Austin. In particular, music from Emo’s and South Congress’ live stages soothes their nerves and aids in mating dances. Binoculars are not a necessity when viewing the creatures in their own habitat, as they are friendly and might accept you as one of their own.

Best Video/DVD Rental/Purchase

Yes, the mainstream video chains will have a copy of the new Freddie Prinze Jr. straight-to-DVD release. Hooray! But if you’d like to try to get the lowdown on what was well-received at the Vienna Film Festival or go for an episode of old-school Dr. Who, those savvy folks at Vulcan can point you in the right (and a little more off-center) direction.

Vulcan Video
100-A North Loop, 512/478-5325
4411 Russell, 512/326-2629
www.vulcanvideo.com

 
Readers: Arts & Culture
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