Maximum FX aesthetician Tess has amazing abilities. She can somehow make you feel comfortable even when your bare bum and legs are over your head, midwax. She can clear a forest faster than a tornado can a trailer park, all while keeping up the convo about love lives, pets, and the daily grind in general. She will get you in, out, and ready to show off some skin with impeccable speed, all while maintaining a level of professionalism and attention to detail that comes along with almost a decade of experience at the same salon. Her clientele is loyal to her and for good reason. Got a mustache creepin' up on ya? Give her a ring – she's got you covered … or uncovered, rather.
Father Scott Johnson has married many, many couples in many, many ways: religious, spiritual, some, all, and/or none of the above. He officiates with Austin flavor and will tailor your wedding to a "T." It takes a man of deep faith to administer to all faiths, and when it comes to "I do," there's something special in knowing what you believe, whatever that may be, is treated with the utmost respect on your big day.
Fr. Scott F.E. Johnson, 699-4027, www.austinweddingchaplains.com
Michelle Oliveri talks to cats – and listens to them, too. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in Austin who better understands and explains feline behavior, which can be – err – quirky at times. There's good reason for Oliveri's expertise. Not only does this vet tech work at Austin Vet Care at Central Park, but she also has nine cats of her own. For reals: nine. And to top it off, those were all bottle babies. Needless to say, she's put a lot of time and effort into figuring out exactly what our purr-y friends are trying to tell us. And we're glad she has. Meow.
W3LL People constitutes the perfect eco-friendly makeover haven with fresh facial care on one wall and Shirley Pinkson's "eco-luxe" organic makeup line on the other. Choose from mango- or cucumber-scented sunscreen (paraben-free, of course) or grab a moisturizing lip gloss with corn labels and wind-powered stickers. Packed full of antioxidants, every piece of makeup nourishes your skin while making you beautiful. We've never seen a woman who glows like Pinkson, and we're pretty sure it's because she uses everything in her store. Meet with one of W3LL's knowledgeable consultants, and we bet that glow is contagious.
Austin, we have a problem: cats. And, specifically, feral cats – homeless cats that live in our alleys and yards that have had little, if any, positive human interaction. There's no real way to know how many of these felines actually live in the ATX, but, by anecdotal wisdom, experts say the number could surpass 100,000. For reals. Thankfully there are those among us who are working hard to get those cats fixed, identified, and, when possible, tamed, socialized, and moved into loving homes. Chief among those groups is the Austin Humane Society, which has spayed and neutered more than 14,000 cats as part of its free trap-neuter-release program, overseen by Austin's own feral cat guru Leticia Stivers. Also, the fabulous ladies behind the AHS foster-adoption program headed up by Heather Allard work day in and day out to make Austin a healthier and safer place for felines and humans alike. It's a big job, but somebody's got to do it – and this team does it well.
Spruce's Lizzie Nguyen and Amanda Brown hit the ground running less than a year ago, bringing high style and recycling culture together to recover and restore vintage furniture of all eras, right in their on-site upholstery workshop on Lamar. The secret of their success lies in their unusual and gorgeous fabrics, high-quality restoration, and, most of all, an uncanny eye for the perfect yet unexpected mix of the two. The results are all utterly unique and often a little breathtaking; their friendly, down-to-earth demeanor and updated sensibilities create a welcoming sense of simpatico to boot. Visiting Spruce will probably prompt you to recover something, anything, just for the pure pleasure of the results, but the store also sells its fabulous fabrics by the yard, as well as an assortment of household items, and offers upholstery classes on an ongoing basis. Nguyen and Brown's creations have rocketed them on to the national radar almost immediately – they've already been featured on E!'s Ultimate Bachelorette Pad and in The New York Times – and while we wish them boundless success, we prefer to think of Spruce as a hometown treasure for as long as we can.
A radically new approach in master's level art studies, the Art Department has expanded to Austin and hired many local professional artists as teachers. Founders Jason Manley and John English have a history establishing new concepts in the teaching and commerce of art. TAD also has "pods" located in San Francisco; Kansas City, Mo.; and Richmond, Va., and offers an extensive course schedule available both online and on-site, as well as hosting international art and design symposiums. Traditional and digital art merge in a 30-month intensive program that bridges the gap between learning the art of art and actually being a professional artist.
Thanks to a new city volunteer program, critters like this one (see picture) are appearing curbside all around town as a reminder that what goes down the storm drain ends up choking the waterways that Austin's creatures call home. The city will provide the metal markers (in both English and Spanish), as well as maps, door hangers, safety vests, and other handy equipment to anyone interested in helping out with the effort, so feel free to extend a hand – these wild animals don't bite.
Mocha Moms started out as a way to encourage stay-at-home moms to share resources, knowledge, and support. As this chapter of dynamic and talented women grew, the ranks opened to include all moms, stay-at-home or not, for weekend outings and holiday events. And while Mocha Moms exists primarily for support, outreach, and involvement, some of the best parts center around having a place where sisters can be found away from home, kids can be surrounded by culture, and sharing the load includes sharing the laughter.
We know a little something about the tattoo business at the Chronicle, since the late Rollo Banks served as our cover master in the Eighties. We also know that when Banks handpicked Keith Underwood as his last apprentice, he did so knowing Underwood would carry on the right traditions of the art form. Steeped in the Sailor Jerry tradition, Underwood and partner Frank Carter opened their North Austin shop earlier this summer, fusing modern and classic styles with myriad designs. That the shop operates as a tribute to Rollo Banks makes us love it, too.
Is there anyone else in town who loves cutting and styling hair more than Roxana Wise? It's doubtful. Her charming little shop past the crook in Mary Street, just off South Lamar may be hard to place until your first visit, but once you've had your tresses cut and styled by Roxana, you will gladly make the trip every time you need a new 'do. Roxana takes the time to listen to what you want and hears what you say, but she's not afraid to make suggestions. No hard sell here, just her desire to make sure you leave her shop looking as marvelous as you can. You will look – and feel – marvelous.
How cool is this: Inspired by the brief but pivotal career of her father, Gram Parsons, Polly Parsons' Hickory Wind Ranch offers a sober living environment for recovering men and women. Though it does not regard age, ethnicity, or profession, there is a creative element to the program that comes from Parsons' deep belief in nurturing the arts. In Austin, that's a crucial step for those pledging to stay sober and successfully entering into a new stage of their lives.
It's no fun once you find out you need "diagnostic imaging services." But if an MRI or a CT scan is what the doctor ordered, you know you are in sensitive, professional, and well-trained hands at River Ranch Radiology. Best of all, patients are allowed to bring in a DVD to help distract them during the long and stressful process. (We're OK, in case you are wondering.)
We have few uses for photo prints these days, since we now share myriad images with a click and enjoy them on a screen. Most consumer printers yield only 4-by-6-inch prints or smaller, so take heart when it's time to enlarge and frame that old shot of Uncle Buddy for Aunt Dixie's birthday. Precision Camera can beam him right up for you: Just choose your file transfer speed, then upload Uncle Billy's posterior for posterity from the crib. The lab will see you coming, since they can often have them ready in an afternoon.
Austin's raddest bike co-op recently opened its new headquarters on Webberville Road, its third move in two years and hopefully its last. YBP operates by the teach-a-man-to-fish ethos, offering free education in bike repair and free or low-cost ways to get new riders on the road. The shop was renovated by volunteers and financed by $100,000 in microloans; all the materials were moved from the previous shop location by bike. Newcomers can volunteer, donate, or stop by during an open shop.
After a day of flying – or of waiting in airports for that delayed next connection – arriving home can seem like just another bleary-eyed burden: schlepping the baggage, loading the trunk, finding our mazelike way out of the lot. How delightful, then, to arrive at the parking toll booth to a Texas-sized smile and an Austin, Tejas, welcome, 24 hours a day. We’re not sure whether it’s just the airport training or, more likely, an abundance of local workers who want to make certain travelers know they’re coming home – no matter where they live – to the friendliest spot in Texas. ’Cause as we all know – if you’re not from Austin, you’re just passing through. Bienvenidos!
ABIA: Airport Parking Garage & Ground Transportation Services, 3600 Presidential, 512/530-3300, www.cityofaustin.org/austinairport/parking.htm
Austin Ashiatsu will change the way you think about massage. The therapist, balancing above you on bars, uses her incredibly sensitive feet to palpate your muscles, and the feeling is almost indescribably strange and fantastic. Feet are bigger and stronger than hands, and the added use of gravity – you are actually being walked on – means that whole muscle groups are moved. This depth and the exquisite precision of placement are what make ashiatsu marvelous. Cathy Altman, owner of Austin Ashiatsu, is a magical creature with a rare gift to share.
Sumptuous calla lilies become tutu chandeliers for the ballet fete! Lavish orchids for the Hispana Leadership Summit gala! Bamboo and ginger for the Austin Bar Association's gala! If you're going to do flowers, you might as well do fabulous flowers, right? Mandarin Flower Co. has made a big splash on the local charity circuit. Working with Ballet Austin, the Center for Child Protection, Habitat for Humanity, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and Caritas, Mandarin's impossibly glamorous founders, Sofia and Victoria Avila, represent a new generation of Austin floral designers.
The fabulous Mercedes Mobilejet is nothing if not a first-class airline cabin – with an attendant, no less – able to get you door-to-door from Austin to your destination in Houston or Dallas in the same amount of time it would take you to catch a flight, travel, deplane, and travel some more to your final destination. With Mobilejet, there is no changing planes – the luxuriously appointed traveling conference center picks you up at your front door and delivers you to the front door of your destination without any stress or wasted time. Equipped with a 7-foot interior height; four luxurious, completely adjustable captain's chairs; uninterrupted and secure wi-fi; and an onboard bathroom, the Mobilejet gets you there with the style of Mercedes and the service of the Four Seasons.
The suit was perfect. The sleeves were not. They were way too long and needed to be shortened. This was no simple hem. The jacket was lined and featured snazzy decorative buttons. The event where the jacket was to be worn loomed. All of this information was given to a number of local tailors, and the prices they quoted produced vapors, gasps, and in one case, a fainting spell. Lo and behold, Marfiel! One call to this friendly altar of Eastside alteration did the trick. The turnaround was quick, the work was flawless, and the price produced another fainting spell – this time for being so unbelievably reasonable.
Marfiel's Tailors, 2703 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/478-3639
In 30 years of business, Mr. and Mrs. Wizard, owners Mark and Allison Duffel, may have saved more modes of media delivery than the Smithsonian. The waiting list for a repair consultation alone can be up to six weeks, but on our most recent visit, the ear-to-ear fulfillment from a 1920s typewriter enthusiast rang louder than all the stereos, TVs, and tape decks on the front room shelves. If someone built it, he can fix it, and she makes it affordable. Wizardry.
Mr. Wizard's Electronics Service, 1507 W. North Loop, 512/454-1137
Basking in its first appearance at the top of our readers' automotive-repair charts, Gene Johnson's has the friendly service, reasonable prices, and honest work that any superlative shop would. What sets it apart is its decades-long relationships with its neighbors, be it the oil-change joint next door, the convenient full-service gas pump option, or the friendly crew waiting out in front to lend a helping hand.
Chevron, 30 N. I-35, 512/473-5113
More than just a hipster hair-cuttery, Birds has an expanding arsenal of fashionable hair pros to put the icing on your hair cake. Complimentary Lone Star? Foosball? The annual Man Fest? That's why Austin loves you, baby.
Bicycle Sport Shop loves cyclists. The shop's mechanics will tune up your bike for free for a year if you bought it there, offer you labor discounts if you purchase their parts, and retune your bike if you're not satisfied with the work they've done. But they'll even do better than all that: They'll teach you to fish. The shop offers free maintenance classes to keep you riding without unnecessary assistance.
Bicycle Sport Shop, 9900 W. Parmer, 512/637-6890
Tell us if you've had the same reverie: watching your car roll down the cleaning production line at Genie Car Wash, wishing (just once) that you could hide in the backseat just to experience all the wipers (mechanized and human) from the inside. It's either that dream or the one where we hijack the old Genie Car Wash sign from the side yard of Roadhouse Relics. Hiding and stealing: That's all we dream about.
Visits to veterinarians and computer repair shops are possibly the most nerve-racking appointments we keep. Check a different award for the former, but when it comes to your precious iBook, it's Whitney Tracy to the rescue. Founder of Happy Mac, Tracy isn't new to this award. His experience inside Macintosh boards and drives, the reassuring manner of the staff, and knowing that your wallet isn't considered to be in open season makes this the best way to solve your crisis.
With eight locations around Bat City, Westbank Dry Cleaning is the place Austinites favor to make collars crispy sharp and restore glory to the garments we treasure. There's even an outpost in the Frost Bank Tower, and deliveries are made Downtown to defeat wardrobe emergencies in the Capital City.
Serving Austin since 1974, this family-owned business pleases again and again as Austin's full-service florist. Romantic occasions? Everything's coming up roses! New baby? Gerbers, baby! Any occasion: St. James likes to gaze at the stars! Freytag's aims to please and has done that so well that readers salute them year after year with a green thumbs-up for Best Florist.
Sure, you could spend the money on self-help audiobooks, but we think you're already perfect inside. Why not try out personal transformation on the outside? Winner of this category in 2008, Urban Betty keeps its foot in the winner's circle by consistently providing fabulous styling services in the neat and cozy 26 Doors spot stocked full of Bumble and Bumble. Stephanie Hebert and Sarah Kempton are especially standout hairdressers. There's a reason Chronicle readers are so good-looking.
It's an organic thang! For the second year in a row, Fertile Ground Organic Gardens is our readers' choice for landscape services. With design, installation, and maintenance with an artist's touch and an environmentalist's know-how, the two women who own Fertile Ground keep us blooming.
How do you remove pesky bloodstains from your clothing? We didn't know until we read Wash Day Laundry's blog, which also told us how to remove chocolate, grease, meat juice/gravy (ew/yum), pencil lead, and the ever-present "unknown stain." "Pshaw!," you say, "I can find that information in the latest issue of Good Housekeeping." Sure, but to be given that information by a business that stands to lose out because trade secrets are no longer secrets is a (detergent) balls-y move. Truly, it's an act of good faith from this laundromat's owners, who used to be denizens of the corporate sector and didn't know the difference between laundry and dry cleaning. We learned that from the blog, too.
Moving can be stressful, but having a positively fabulous experience is neither mythical nor elusive. Unicorn Moving makes the job almost joyful with its movers' level of professionalism and absolute dedication to making your relocation, be it residential or commercial, smooth and pain-free. (And dare we say, happy?) Word-of-mouth works wonders, and its reviews are stellar.
The new and the seasoned come head-to-head in the mani/pedi/personal care category. Halina is an Austin institution, offering Old World-style treatment that generations of Austin women have come to adore. But the youngbloods over at Embellish, eager to offer quality services at affordable prices while still offering all that a "day of beauty" should entail, are the eager, new kids on the spa block. Either way, you can't go wrong.
It's been said that Austin has 122 acres of parks for every 1,000 pets. That's a lot of dirt and grass and who knows what else for your dog to roll around in, and as you don't necessarily want it all in your bathtub or on your couch, that's where Dirty Dog comes in. Just like a car wash, you can walk in anytime for self-service or make an appointment for the total package. Taking home a tired, clean dog from the park is nicer than a tired and dirty one, after all.
Dirty Dog, 3016 Guadalupe, 512/453-3647
Design, copy, print, pack, ship, and repeat. Design, copy, print, pack, ship, and repeat. FedEx Office helps make the process fun, creative, and easy.
The olfactory wall of leather that hits you when you enter one of the many Austin Shoe Hospital locations is, in our humble opinion, a little piece of heaven. We've replaced heel caps and soles many times over, and still, it has been cheaper to repair than to buy new, which means that those Helmut Lang pumps we bought in the Nineties are finding life after life after life after ….
We missed this longtime winner last year. (Where did you go? A spa?) Welcome back! Here it is, our readers' pick for 2010, present tense. Its reputation as the No. 1 destination spa in the world is likewise not in the past tense. This year, after a gorgeous update of its 40 guest rooms, it earned a coveted distinction again from Condé Nast Traveller. And what that travel bible can't tell you, our readers can: Lake Austin is the queen of serene and cuisine, with everything you need to whisk you and your boo away for a few nights of world-class relaxation, and there's nothing tense about that.
We're told there was a time when ready-made clothing was unheard of. Everything was made to fit … you. Now, in these off-the-rack times, it's the reverse: You're supposed to fit the mold. Of course, nobody actually fits the mold, and that's where Ace comes in. With simple sartorial solutions to your most desperate wardrobe malfunctions, Ace is here to tell your closet who's boss – because it's your clothes that don't fit … not you.
You may remember her in the Rosie the Riveter-esque pose she struck on the cover of our 2007 "Best of Austin" issue, and, fact is, she still kills it! Kali1313 owns Spellbound Studio now, uses vegan inks, and is a Reiki master. As if there were any doubt that this lady is a badass.
If you own a pug, there is no reason why you shouldn't be taking your little man or lady to Westlake Animal Hospital. WAH has hundreds of pug patients and runs regular pug spa specials (our little guy comes home scrubbed with clipped nails and clean wrinkles and smelling faintly of lavender). Of course, we hear these vets and techs are great with other breeds and animals as well, but c'mon; there's a pug room!