2006 Readers Poll
2006 Critics Picks
Best Antiques/Collectibles/Vintage

You can’t just visit Uncommon Objects once. The shelves, floor, and ceiling are so crowded with vintage and antique items that you’ll miss something wonderful if you don’t keep going back. Where else can you find a photo tree, a hat-rack just for fezzes, or a bucket of chenille spiders? Less a store, more a foster home for amazing artifacts.

Uncommon Objects
1602 Fortview

Best Clothing

Again and again and again By George wins this award. They make it seem easy – how tough can it be to scour the world's fashion capitals for cool clothes? Well ... very tough. That's why owners Matthew and Katy Culmo are so successful at making it seem easy for you to breeze in feeling underprivileged and breeze out feeling glamorous. With extensive collections by Belgium's Dries Van Noten, Britain's Megan Park and Paul Smith, and Italy's Mario Mateo, we say, "Viva By George!"

524 N. Lamar, 512/472-5951
1400 S. Congress, 512/441-8600

Best Comic Books

When it comes to graphic novels, if Austin Books doesn’t have it, it probably doesn’t exist. A recent re-fit to expand the manga section has changed some priorities, but the enormous selection covers the comic spectrum, from the biggest Marvel titles to the smallest hand-stapled indie. A permanent 10% discount on trade paperbacks makes this a collector’s dream.

Austin Books & Comics
5002 N. Lamar

Best Computer Store

When PCers stroll by this store at Barton Creek, do they think it is forbidden fruit? The Apple, the source of all knowledge? Eh, probably not so biblical but a few branches higher than what snake charmer Gates has to offer. The Apple Store Genius Bar offers more wisdom in the form of workshops and one-on-one sessions with Mac consultants, and the store itself is a veritable Garden of Eden, with walls of software (yes, Mac's got software) and entire sections dedicated to every little widget your noble iPod could desire. We said desire. Take a bite.

Apple Store
2901 Capital of TX Hwy. S., 512/634-0520
11410 Century Oaks Terrace, 512/691-4800

Best Convenience Store

Question: If all of the employees at Whip In know your name, does that mean you have a problem? Never mind. We challenge you to find a staff like Whip-In's anywhere else on the planet. Led by the Shiek of Shiraz, the wine and beer experts at the Whip know their stuff and then some. They're always willing to suggest something new or find a drink that will complement your dinner — all you gotta do is ask. And with their surprisingly fantastic selection of chocolate and cheese, you might be able to get your entire meal in one stop.

Whip In
1950 S. I-35

Best Drugstore/Pharmacy

As corporate giants compete on every corner, it's hard to find a human-sized pharmacy that still cares these days. Our readers know to head over to Peoples, where someone who might even remember your name will guide you through the great selection of local products, natural foods, and alternative medicines. Most reassuringly, the pharmacists there are experts at cutting the red tape and translating the hieroglyphics of today's prescription drugs. Sign up for the excellent e-newsletter, and see for yourself.

Peoples Rx
4018 N. Lamar, 512/459-0845
3801 S. Lamar, 512/444-8866
13860 Hwy. 183 N. Ste. C, 512/219-9499
4201 Westbank, 512/327-8868

Best Fashion Accessories

Does it glimmer? Shimmer? Does it light up the night sky? Yes? No matter, chances are it probably still came from Emeralds. And chances are getting greater by the second with the launch of An Austin favorite in this category for three years running, Emeralds is now making their fashion accessories fashion necessities to the rest of the world as well.

Best Furnishings/Home

Receiving their fourth "Best of Austin" award in a row, Room Service continues to be one of the best places in town to find weird lamps, unusual wall clocks, vintage toys, and tiki statues. With their new location on South Lamar, it’s even easier to find that perfect piece to complement everything else in your hip habitat.

Room Service Vintage
117 E. North Loop

Best Gardening Store

There’s no garden like a natural garden full of native Texas plant life, decomposing granite, and compost, compost, compost. The Natural Gardener is a haven for seasonal plants, organic remedies, and soil, as well as tips on when, what, and how to plant that mystery succulent. Go organic!

The Natural Gardener
8648 Old Bee Caves Rd.

Best Gas Prices

Gas prices are so ugly that we put our cars on a petroleum diet, shoving celery stalks and corncobs into them to make them go. That didn't work out so well, so, reluctantly, we are back on the gas habit. Thank you, HEB, for making our nasty addiction a bit easier on the pocketbook and also for being a place we both can fill up and go together.

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

Best Independent Bookstore

If there’s one down side to BookPeople, it’s that they have so many booksignings and readings that it’s hard to keep up with what author is coming to town next. Actually, there’s another problem. There’s only one BookPeople. Its model of educated staff, huge stock, regular events, and the warm approachability that book-lovers crave should be a global phenomenon.

603 N. Lamar

Best Independent Hardware Store

Hardware doesn't begin to cover all the things Breed & Co. offers. Yes, you can buys nails and hoses there, but you can also buy Baccarat crystal, Kitchenaid electrics, Spode china, cookbooks, bird feeders, and more importantly, gift certificates. It would be hard to find someone who didn't covet something from Breed & Co.

Best Liquor Store

Whether you have busting some capillaries or a more elegant evening in mind, one of Austin's many Twin Liquors locations can provide the necessities. Though known for specializing in wines and hard liquors, they also boast an unpredictable beer selection including German and Czech beers, Mexican beers, Belgian beers, and numerous domestic macros. So many options can be confusing, so count on the clerks' expertise.

Twin Liquors
1000 E. 41st, 512/451-7400
519 E. Seventh, 512/476-9982
8030 Mesa, 512/346-1861
3652 Bee Caves Rd., 512/327-0315
5505 Balcones, 512/323-2775
850 N. Bell Blvd., Cedar Park, 512/335-4244
12400 Hwy. 71 W., 512/402-0333
701 Capital of Tx. Hwy. S., 512/347-1299
Main office: 107 W. Stassney, 512/442-8550
3925 Market St., Bee Cave

Best Music Gear

Whether you dream of becoming the next Eddie Van Halen on guitar, John Bonham on the drums, or Jaco Pastorious on the fretless electric bass, it matters not. The fine folks at the Guitar Center have the gear you need to bring your fantasy to reality, and they'll keep your music room fully stocked with tuners, effects pedals, drum heads, microphones, percussive implements, and everything else your rock & roll desires demand.

Guitar Center
2525 W. Anderson #200, 512/419-1717
5300 MoPac S. #103, 512/891-0297

Best Naughty Business

Forbidden Fruit says it’s “dedicated to your body’s needs,” and for the umpteenth year in a row, you readers — and your naughty bits — concur. This fruit has ripened in Austin for 20 years, and with its constantly blooming assortment of erotic toys, edible underpants, and dirty books with titles as subtle as Blow Him, the garden offers hornys o' plenty.

Forbidden Fruit
108 E. North Loop

Best New Boutique

"Because You Can." That is the motto of the boutique that will equip you to bewitch, anytime, anywhere. Bat those lashes on a moment's notice in labels like Beau Bois, Miss Me, Red Button Seven, and Triple Five Soul, while shoes from Dollhouse, Seychelles, Zinc, and BC provide a quick getaway. An attentive staff and lots of accessories (big bags!) guarantee the spell you cast.

2405 Nueces Ste. H

Best New Car Dealership

The hum of a new engine. The smell of untouched leather interior. The click of new gadgets. The smoothness of the sales spiel as slick as the tie collection, except, this time it's as friendly as the name implies. Howdy. And hello. To the good ol' down-home folks selling practical cars at down-home prices.

Howdy Honda
5519 E. Ben White

Best Pet Store

It was odd. Most of the "Best of Austin" ballots were submitted with plainly written responses in ink or pencil. But a large portion came stained in paw prints. Far be it from us to question the mewling and growling of our animal companions, and so Bark ‘n Purr Pet Center carries home the best in this show again. Who can doubt the fine pedigree of B ‘n P’s employees who are somehow able to give a cat a bath and not end up in a hospital.

Bark n Purr Pet Center
4604 Burnet Rd.

Best Shoe Selection

Notoriously Nordstrom, the shoe selection at this upscale national retailer is sheer heaven - not to mention that the service is legendary. From Birkenstocks to Betsey Johnson, Converse to Cole Haan, Mephisto to Michael Kors, and Stride Rite to Steve Madden, the Nordstrom shoe department has what you want ... as well as what you didn't know you wanted.

2901 Capital of TX Hwy. S., 512/691-3500
9607 Research, 512/651-6180
5601 Brodie, Sunset Valley, 512/697-2600

Best Thrift Stores

The Lake Austin location is known for its great clothes; the expanded North Lamar relocation is a veritable department store of treasures; and this time of year, all locations pull out the stops to ensure you can find a great Halloween getup. Goodwill engenders a lot of goodwill here in Austin. With everything from clothes, jewelry, and accessories to electronics, appliances, and housewares, Goodwill does a lot of good for a lot of people by helping with rehabilitation programs for its workers and great low-cost shopping for its customers.

Main office: 1015 Norwood Park Blvd., 512/637-7100
2800 S. Lamar, 512/442-8802
836 Airport, 512/389-3277
Main office: 1015 Norwood Park Blvd., 512/637-7100
13096 Hwy. 183 #104, 512/258-5898
8965 Research Blvd., 512/832-0004
5555 N. Lamar, 512/451-2306
9801 Brodie, 512/280-8037
701 Newman, 512/478-6711
7100-C W. US Hwy 290, 512/288-7700
3910 Far West, 512/795-6387
6505 Burleson, 512/681-3301
7727 Burnet, 512/374-0260
1819-B S. Pleasant Valley, 512/389-0547
1700 W. Parmer #101, 512/719-4119
9111 S. First, 512/280-2204
1420 Wells Branch Pkwy. #300, 512/251-2777
2814 Bee Caves Rd. Ste.2814-B, 512/329-8771

Best Used Car Dealership

Thanks to CarMax, long gone are the days of bow ties, greasy hair, and smooth talk from used car salesmen. The classy folks at CarMax won't bother you unless you ask, and they're more than willing to go out of their way to help you when you do ask. And not just with finding a car, but finding a way to pay for it, too. Every car for sale here has been thoroughly inspected to minimize your chances of buying a hunk o' junk.

CarMax Auto Superstore
13300 N. I-35, 512/873-2315
4400 S. I-35, 512/651-7160

Best Used Records/CDs

If you're looking for the mainstream stuff that you know someone off-loaded for beer money yesterday, Waterloo is the place to find it, with the added bonus of an insanely healthy vinyl selection in the same room. But if you're looking for that Archers of Loaf EP that costs about a skadillion dollars and is nearly impossible to find, chances are it's hiding out at Cheapo-and you're going to have to really, really look for it.

Cheapo Discs
914 N. Lamar

Waterloo Records
600-A N. Lamar

Readers: Services
Critics: Architecture & Lodging

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