2008 Readers Poll
2008 Critics Picks
Best Health Services

Health care shouldn't be confined to the rich or insured. Since 1970, People's has been the bedrock of nonprofit medical service, and as such, Austin holds these volunteer doctors and nurses in high esteem. Let's repeat that: volunteer doctors and nurses. To them, people are not numbers, consumers, or the bottom line – just people with basic human needs, and the People's Community Clinic is always there to help fill them.

People's Community Clinic
1101 Camino La Costa

Best Barbershop

Hipper than thou and cheaper than dirt, Birds wins again in the Battle of the Barbershop. With a menu of cuts and chemical treatments that are easy to digest, Birds is casual and fun without a hint of salon prissiness, and both convenient locations bring clean lines, good looks, and low prices to the people.

Birds Barbershop
Birds Barbershop South Lamar, 2110 S. Lamar, 512/442-8800
Birds Barbershop Burnet, 6800 Burnet Rd., 512/454-1200
Birds Barbershop East Sixth, 1107 E. Sixth, 512/457-0400
Birds Barbershop South Congress, 1902 S. Congress, 512/445-0500
Birds Barbershop 41st/Red River, 905 E. 41st, 512/492-8400
Birds Barbershop Slaughter, 5000 W. Slaughter, 512/758-7800
Birds Barbershop 183/Anderson Mill, 13219 Hwy. 183 N., 512/879-4700
Birds Barbershop Rock Rose, 11420 Rock Rose #114, 512/610-7600
Birds Barbershop William Cannon, 3601 W. William Cannon, 512/795-4600

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Hair Salon

In a short time, this 26 Doors salon with the funky Fifties flair has fomented a fiercely fanatical following. With an array of stylists, each with a wide range of experience, Urban Betty can handle just about any hair issue under a hat. In a town with very creative hairdressers, this vote of coiffure confidence proves the talent behind these chairs is a cut above the rest.

Urban Betty
1206 W. 38th #1107

Best Tattoo Artist

There is no shadow. There is just Karen Slafter, whose reputation precedes her, making it about a month and a half before you can even get into her chair. Pretty rad for an art that is usually a boys' club. The wait's well worth it, though, not just for the name, no, but for the lines, the attention to detail, and the way she cocks her mouth to the side, concentrating, fully in focus on giving you the most kickass tat she can bring to life. No wonder she's owned this award for four years now. (She was our cover girl last year.) This lady can ink.

Karen Slafter

Best Spa

Austin shows its love for the Lake Austin Spa Resort – not just by going there but by voting it Best Spa again and again. The spa packages are truly divine and make fabulous gifts (note to foodies: consider enrolling in its Culinary Experience, an interactive cooking school with visiting chefs from around the country). From the grounds to the services to the food and hospitality, this spa offers it all in a beautifully manicured package. As a destination, it is unbeatable. As an asset in Austin, it is priceless.

Lake Austin Spa Resort
1705 S. Quinlan Park

Best Pedicure/Manicure

Once spring had sprung, Aziz made sure our digits – all 20 of 'em – were trimmed and gleaming. It saw us through the rough times of a parched summer, and now that fall has fallen, it will keep our hands and feet soft and winterized. Getting a mani/pedi can be a chore, but Aziz makes it an experience that we look forward to.

Aziz Salon & Day Spa
710 W. Seventh

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Dry Cleaner

Dry cleaners are dry cleaners, right? Cut and dried. Unless you really use them. If you do use them, Reid's has a sterling reputation for excellent service and has been a "Best of Austin" winner since 2000. But wait! Is that an upstart we hear on the horizon? What's its name? Westbank? Hardly an upstart, Westbank Dry Cleaning has had a rabid, devoted following for more than 15 years. But the secret's out, and Reid's better batten down for a fight – Westbank's here to stay.

Reid's Cleaners & Laundry, various locations; Westbank Dry Cleaning, various locations

Best Laundromat

Just one in a long line of entrepreneurial successes for John Dorgan and Conrad Bejarano, the owners of … that whole block it seems (I Luv Video, Spider House). But this section of their domain is special, a way to do laundry that's better for the environment, safer for your family, and less harmful for your clothes. It's like clean laundry that's really clean. Get that toxic crud out of your washers, and do it right. Or John and Conrad will come after you.

2438 W. Anderson Ste. C-3, 512/236-8645
4012 N. Lamar, 512/236-8645
3005 S. Lamar Ste. D-114A, 512/236-8645
3600 Capital of Texas Hwy. N. #120, 512/263-8645

Best Shoe Repair

The name says it all – and whether you wear Skechers or Manolos, the Austin Shoe Hospital will give your tired footwear a new lease on life. With complete services and product lines for shoe care, ASH's multiple locations ensure that your feet will never have to go too far without the best.

Austin Shoe Hospital
720 Congress, 512/477-5078
3106 Windsor, 512/477-6515
3300 Bee Caves Rd., 512/329-8104
1911 W. Ben White, 512/440-8788
8211 Burnet, 512/453-1961
5114 Balcones Woods Dr. Ste. 301-B, 512/345-8663
6781 Hwy. 290 W., 512/288-6386
1316 Round Rock Ave., Round Rock, 512/244-9124
306 S. Bell, Cedar Park, 512/219-8387
3932 RR 620 S., Lakeway, 512/263-4630
12119 Hwy. 290 W., 512/827-3398

Best Tailor

Take it in; let it out; raise this; lower that; fix this; replace that. With Ace Custom Tailors at your back, you need never feel uncomfortable or self-conscious about your ill-fitting clothes again. From wedding gowns to bathing suits, Ace isn't happy with the fit unless you are happy with the fit … and that's a service not even advertised on its menu.

Ace Custom Tailors
724-A N. Lamar, 512/478-9965
11909 Domain Dr. #154, 512/345-7688
2707 Walsh Tarlton, 512/329-0523

John Carrico

Best Florist

Nothing could brighten up a Congress commuter's traffic-congested drive home more than flower petals leading to Ben White Florist other than, perhaps, the flower shop's sunflower sign and blue bicycle-wheel fence. This florist does more than just encourage folks to buy local, it does it itself by stocking Wimberley-grown Texas blooms. Check out its weekly carryout specials and its MySpace page.

Ben White Florists
3200 S. Congress

Best Auto Service/Repair

A rumble, a grumble, a squeak from your trusty jalopy? Pull into the pink and purple awnings of Flamingo Automotive, and bask in the personal care of these engine experts. It's the most stylish garage in Austin, with mod Miami decor and staffed by hunky and honest mechanics. Vroom!

Flamingo Automotive
3512 Guadalupe

Best Car Wash

With a little TLC and lots of soapy concoctions, the hardworking Genie Car Washers thoroughly lather up, vacuum out, and wax off your baby, all in a speedy and professional manner. Best part? They have killer coupons in darn near every publication this side of the Mississippi.

Genie Car Wash
1311 S. Lamar, 512/444-9274
7320 Burnet, 512/451-9274
1021 W. William Cannon, 512/416-9274

Best Bicycle Repair

Fitted with two master mechanics and a full-time staff of knowledgeable, friendly mechanics, Bicycle Sport Shop has your best and safest riding experience in mind and one of the very best guarantees in the business, standing by not only the products they sell but the services they perform, as well.

Bicycle Sport Shop

Best Computer Repair

Where geekiness is godliness, Logic Approach is the best place to upgrade the old or recapture data once thought completely lost. They work hard-drive miracles, dole out sage advice, and stock an unprecedented amount of spare parts. Fast, economical, convenient, professional miracle workers for today's digital needs.

Logic Approach
2500 S. Lamar

Best Appliance/TV Repair

The greenies forgot an “R” before reuse: as in repair (not replace!). If that broken appliance served you well until it … well, broke, then don’t give up on it yet. Take it to the Wizards instead, and get it another lease on life. Beats shovin’ it in the back of a closet. Or a landfill.

Mr. Wizard's Electronics Service
1507 W. North Loop

Best Printer/Copies

It all started back in 1971. Through the offset Seventies and the Xerox Eighties, Ginny's served as Austin's versatile and speedy one-stop print shop. (Ahhhh, we remember afternoons constructing many a gig flier at her convenient locations!) But as the industry has changed, so has nimble Ginny's. Last year, it merged with the Lithoprint Co., a large Austin trade printer, thereby redirecting efforts exclusively to the commercial front. Its wisdom was in learning to grow with its clients. Gone are the self-serve copiers and counter service, and in their stead has emerged some of the most informed and conscientious print-job customer service in the biz.

Ginny's Printing
8410-B Tuscany Way, 512/454-6874

Best Veterinarian

A vet who knows how you feel when your animal companion is ailing is a gem beyond price. But Brykerwoods Veterinary Clinic, a petite office which wins the dedication of our readers this year for its emotionally perceptive service, is also affordable. We woof, meow, squawk, and nibble in its honor.

Brykerwoods Veterinary Clinic
1501 W. 35th

John Carrico

Best Recording Studio

When Kurtis Machler opened this studio on the south side in 1999, it was with fingers crossed. Now, with credentials stretching from Hunt Sales to Jesus Christ Superfly and then some, Million Dollar Sound has a third home off South First and Stassney with more rooms, better sound, and a view of the greenbelt. Who could ask for more?

Million Dollar Sound
217 E. Alpine

Best Landscape Services

We all like having someone to call when a lawn or garden crisis strikes at 3am. A subset of the larger Southwest Key nonprofit group, Southwest Key Maintenance may well be the only landscaping and cleaning company with 24-hour emergency service. Its affordable annual package delivers 30 visits a year for less than $30 each. This enterprising public service program is a successful example of social entrepreneurship: Its mission to create job growth is backed up by tidy landscapes all over town.

John Carrico

Best Movers

Noted as a responsible and caring way to help seniors transition to higher-care facilities, Heavenly Care has truly proven that angels walk among us. Any moving situation can be stressful and scary. Thankfully, this team of consummate professionals has the heart to make the transition an attentive, secure, and respectful one.

Heavenly Care Moving Services
13266 Pond Springs

Best Contractor/Home Service

This tie goes to two local, female-owned companies that have the foresight to meld innovative design ideas with the sweat and labor to implement them. Room Fu has design consultation and interior design for almost any budget and taste. Whether you're looking for modern and eclectic or cozy and accessible, Robin Callan's design guru eye can nail down your vision with clarity. And speaking of nailing, the women at Handychicks are more than adept at nailing, painting, construction, plumbing, electrical, and lawn work. They offer everyday general services while keeping the costs reasonable, the expectations high, and the level of service several notches above dependable. Both of these companies are turning Austin's residences into well-designed, well-kept, and well-working abodes.

Room Fu

1916 Cannonwood

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