Entertainment
2007 Readers Poll
2007 Critics Picks
Best Annual Festival

We'll deal with the diaper rash and heat stroke. We'll even take that dust storm and turn it into lemonade. Why? Because we adore our annual outdoor music festival, all just an easy stroll across the fields of Austin's favorite park, where you can manage to lose even yourself in the colorful crowd of skin and backpacks. So many options, so many big names, so many badass musicians: Let one headliner pull out, because there's a hundred more on the bill to take its place. This yearly dose of social stimulation is by far our readers' fave contained cluster of human potential.

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

Best Bar Ambience

Think Vegas. Not old-lady, slot-machine-pinging, liter-margarita-in-a-commemorative-beaker Vegas. Think Peter Lawford in a slim-cut suit and Angie Dickinson in a spangled cocktail sheath. Intimate yet spacious, the Belmont with its many lounging and dining areas has become the Downtown mecca and Austin's coolest watering hole. Generously sized cocktails and crooning music attract a typically diverse crowd, all enchanted by the ambience.

The Belmont
305 W. Sixth
512/476-2100
www.thebelmontaustin.com

Celesta Danger

Best Bar Staff

Little Woodrow's is a Texas chain that maintains a neighborhood-bar feel, where buxom beauties know your name. With three locations spread throughout Austin offering more than 100 beers, 30 on tap, anyone can take advantage of their ice-cold seasonal drafts and noteworthy service. Attentive and cheerful down-home Texas girls serving you a cold-one: Nothing wrong with that.

Little Woodrow's
520 W. Sixth, 512/477-2337
6301 Parmer, 512/918-2337
9500 S. I-35, 512/282-2336
www.littlewoodrows.com

Best Beer on Tap

Home of a mind-boggling selection of draft beer – international, seasonal, and oh so fresh! Taps seem to pour straight from the Bavarian alps, the Irish moors, or the mountains of the Czech Republic into a perfectly headed pint glass. They even commit the gorgeous heresy of mixing beers (beware the Snake Bite!). Word on the street is this location is on the chopping block to make way for new condos, but fear not, connoisseurs of fine ales: Another Downtown location is in the works.

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

J.P. Bleibtreu

Best Beer/Wine Prices

Next time you’re planning a party, don’t sacrifice choice on the altar of the dollar – stop at Spec’s, and get just the potion you want. A recent addition to the Austin hooch scene, this Houston-based shopper's paradise is not just about the discounted domestics: They keep the cost low on everything from price-busting prize-winning weissebiers to bargain boutique bourbons. Heck, get two. The prices are that good.

Spec's
5775 Airport, 512/366-8300
4970 Hwy. 290 W., 512/366-8260
10515 MoPac N., 512/342-6893
201 University Oaks #600, Round Rock, 512/341-9066
9900 S. I-35, 512/280-7400
13015 Shops Pkwy., Bee Cave, 512/263-9981
739 Hwy. 71 W., Bastrop, 512/308-0250
3550 S. General Bruce Dr., Temple, 254/771-1518
4970 Hwy. 290 W., 512/366-8260
www.specsonline.com

Best Beer/Wine Selection

Grape Vine stocks every beer available in our region and one of the largest selections of German and Italian wine in the country. Not enough? They also found it fit to stock one of the largest single-malt whiskey collections in the world. That's a lot of fermented and distilled glory! Stuck on indecision? Leave it to their über-knowledgeable staff to point you to the right ales for what ails you.

Best Cheap Date Place

When the original Alamo on Colorado locked its doors for the last time on June 27, a collective tear glistened in the eye of Austin’s film community. But the spirit of founders Tim and Karrie League’s dream of modern grindhouse lives on: in their indie-tastic multiplexes; in their loving, ongoing renovation of the old Ritz; and in their so-cheap-they're-free midnight cult-movie screenings.

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
Alamo Drafthouse Mueller, 1911 Aldrich #120, 512/572-1425
www.drafthouse.com/austin/theater/village

Best Cocktails/Cocktail Menu

The Brown Bar's cocktail-centric menu showcases quality local ingredients like Tito's Handmade Vodka, as well as house-made jalapeño olives and other pickled garnishes. Such attention to detail makes this the place to go for a great happy-hour martini – without breaking the bank. Inventive flavors like pear or green-tea mojitos will perk the interest of even the sloshiest cocktail enthusiast.

The Brown Bar
201 W. Eighth
512/480-8330
www.thebrownbar.com

Best Dance Club

Sunday nights have meant Eighties dancing for way too long, and Elysium is just a fixture of Austin nightlife, always a sweaty, smoky good time in one of the darkest, gothiest bars in town. It's a dance club. No gimmicks, no frills. Just drinks served by tough-looking cookies, great music, and lots of black-clad kids.

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

Best Dive Bar

We love places where locals can relax, sip beer, hear the band, play a game, shoot the breeze, and yell, "Bingo!" when a chicken shits. Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon is the perfect place for all of that and then some, known for years of good country music and fun, fun games. That’s right: We like the games. Especially that one with the chicken.

Little Longhorn Saloon
5434 Burnet Rd.
512/524-1291
www.thelittlelonghornsaloon.com

Todd V. Wolfson

Saffire Trinity-Barin, Trevor N. Deavor   Celesta Danger

Best Drag Queen/Drag King

Behind the scrim, the shadowy figure preens: regal, dramatic, queenly. The profile, especially the hairdo, is distinct. When she emerges, there is no question: Saffire Trinity is Joan Crawford. It takes a lot of woman to be able to pull off an icon like Joan … or Dolly or Tina. Well, once the gown is draped and the foundation sets, even at the tender age of 21, Olin Meadows as Saffire Trinity-Barin is all woman: already titled (United Court Princess Royal) and credited for successfully hosting the first drag show in Williamson County. That takes eggs. Another shadowy figure with plenty of huevos is Trevor N. Deavor. Kristen Gerhard was a founding member of the 2001 A-Town Boys, the presages to Austin's premier drag king troupe, Kings N Things. Part randy, part dandy, part cad, when Trevor electrifies with original routines to the Zombies' "Time of the Season," Rufus Wainwright's "Oh What a World," and Jeff Buckley's take on "Hallelujah," the lip-syncing gender genre is raised to new levels of high-art blur.

Best Gay/Lesbian Hangout

Hooch, hot dogs, and Hedda Layne's divine electro-beats. Rain knows what Austin's gay and lesbian party people want, and they know their clientele can be as proudly nerdy and sporty as anyone else. Yeah, they'll fire up the Xbox 360 for some competitive Dance Dance Revolution, but Mondays can get a bit Rob Halford with Guitar Hero happy hour. And what self-respecting Texas bar doesn't show Sunday Night Football or keep it's eye on the ball when the Longhorns are on the field?

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

Best Jukebox

Dim, skull-and-gargoyle interior or inviting garden patio, this bar boasts a vibe more chill than the average Sixth Street joint, and the backdrop couldn’t be better for the hip assortment they pack in the jukebox. Sing the blues with Nina Simone, jam with Funkadelic, rock it out with John Schooley & His One Man Band – Casino el Camino’s box offers enough to match 10,000 moods. Must be why it came out tops for the 12th year running.

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

Best Karaoke

Austin's best for their bright and colorful private rooms, their ever-expanding song list, and their microphones that have a magical way of bringing out the diva in all of us. Is it magic? Is it music? It's ridiculous amounts of fun, and bravo to Austin Karaoke for playing along without ever once asking for the gift of earplugs.

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

Celesta Danger

Best Live Club/Party DJ

Every Monday night since 1997, unpretentious mix master DJ Mel has rocked the house at Nasty's hip-hop night. He spins an eclectic mix of head-boppin' beats pulling from classic tracks, from Positive Force's "We Got the Funk" to Dr. Dre, while sliding in the unexpected Eighties pop mixes, the highlight of his Rock the Casbah performances. He draws from a vinyl goldmine, beyond your average Top 40 player. As a great party DJ should, his classic flow appeals to whole rooms full of booty shakers.

www.djmel.com

Best Movie Theatre

When the original Alamo on Colorado locked its doors for the last time on June 27, a collective tear glistened in the eye of Austin’s film community. But the spirit of founders Tim and Karrie League’s dream of a modern grind-house lives on: in their indie-tastic multiplexes; in their loving, ongoing renovation of the old Ritz; and in their so-cheap-they're-free midnight cult-movie screenings.

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 New Club

A club so hot it should have spontaneously combusted by now – the Belmont is modern and chic while taking guests on a stroll through Palm Springs with the Rat Pack, circa 1961. Sip a mai tai on the Palm Terrace overlooking the patio while watching the suave live band, or plan a party in the luxe Imperial Room. The Carlyle Room is the kind of place Sinatra & Co. would have brought their wives … but the Dakota Lounge is where they would have brought their mistresses. The Belmont has it all.

The Belmont
305 W. Sixth
512/476-2100
www.thebelmontaustin.com

Best Place to Drink Alone

Johnny Cash drank alone. He sat in the corner, smoking cigarettes 'til yellow-fingered, sipping stiff fingers of well whiskey, wearing some black. Probably some boots. Cash, he'd be right at home at the Mean-Eyed Cat, not even because the bar's name is an homage to some of his lyrics. Cash knows that drinking alone makes you look intellectual. Elusive. Mysterious. On Mondays, you're looking at Frito pie (best eaten alone). On all days, you're ordering from a tough-looking bartender who generally remembers what you're drinking. It's nice here. Even if they say it's mean.

Mean-Eyed Cat
1621 W. Fifth
512/472-6326
www.themeaneyedcat.com

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Place to Find a Lover

Is that an organic, locally produced squash in your basket, or are you just pleased to see me? If you want to know what lies in a hottie’s heart, look what they’re putting on their plate, which is likely to be pretty healthy here. And you could always invite them for a quick gelato on the way past the tills.

Whole Foods Market
525 N. Lamar, 512/476-1206
9607 Research #300, 512/345-5003
4301 W. William Cannon Dr.
12601 Hill Country Blvd, Bee Cave, 512/206-2730
11920 Domain Dr., 512/831-3981
www.wholefoodsmarket.com

Best Place to People Watch

Lady Bird Lake, the aqua artery of this fine city formerly known as Town Lake, draws an estimated 1.5 million people per year, mostly Austinites, from all walks of life to its cool breeze and inviting shade. People-watching, not only the proud activity of the bored and eccentric, is prime in the hike-and-bike bustle that rings Lady Bird Lake every day. Admire lovers as they stroll hand-in-hand, or check out the parade of dogs. You can rest at one of the many benches nestled along the 10.1 miles of trail or take a canoe out on the lake itself and gander at more than just the geese.

Lady Bird Lake
512/974-6700
www.cityofaustin.org/parks

Best Video/DVD Rental/Purchase

What could be better than being able to rent Cannibal Ferox, that shiny new transfer of Yojimbo, Pink Flamingos, and A Charlie Brown Christmas in one trip to the video store? Getting them on Vulcan’s two-for-one nights. With a nation-by-nation shelving policy, the two locations also serve as a pocket education in global cinema, from schlock to doc.

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

 
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