2013 Readers Poll
2013 Critics Picks

Devaki Knowles

Best Antiques/Collectibles

Uncommon Objects is a real-life I Spy book, chock-full of faded old photos of lives long past, dusty books of questionable origins, estate gems once gifted as tokens of love everlasting, and the random “didn’t know I wanted it 'til I saw it.” Cramped yet cozy, this Congress Avenue treasure trove has the goods to make you say, "Hey, look at this!" at least once, even if you’re there by yourself. Sure, people might stare, but don’t worry about it – they probably found something amazing, too.

Uncommon Objects
1602 Fortview

Best Bookstore

From their critically acclaimed author/speaker readings to their in-store book clubs, BookPeople lives up to their motto: "A community bound by books." This is a haven for people to come and share their adoration for the written word. And in this space, surrounded by books and book lovers, for a little while nothing else in the world matters.

603 N. Lamar

Best Clothing/Accessories

If you've got that whole Champagne taste/Lone Star budget thing going on, this hotbed of hot shit is the answer to your prayers. Buffalo is brimming with affordable and awesome recycled fashion. You can find a little vintage, lots of neon, some sensible stuff to wear to work, off the chizzain scores from last season, and loads and loads of party pants.

Buffalo Exchange
2904 Guadalupe

Best Comic Book Store

Batman fans, manga maniacs, Miyazaki lovers, Godzilla geeks, and every other Golden or Silver Age graphic novel devotee will find a home in this "BOA" Hall of Famer and multiple Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retail finalist. Since 1977, this Central Texas mecca for comics has been a haven for DC-vs-Marvel arguments, a pot o’ gold for vintage comics, and a hot spot for superheroes. Trail your favorite artists or discover a new universe: ABC boasts knowledgeable staff and a legion of avowed ABC shoppers in addition to featured events like Steampunk Day and Free Comic Book Day. Did we mention ABC keeps tame an enormous in-store Hulk?

Austin Books & Comics
5002 N. Lamar

Best Computer Store

If you're having a "Tigers and Snow Leopards and Mountain Lions, oh my!" kind of day, then there's an Apple store a few miles away to keep the techno-cats at bay. If you're in need of a PC genius, our readers know you can count on the brilliant and economical beasts at Discount Electronics. Both can guide you to the new or used computer rig, plus all the bells, whistles, and accessories that will make you purr. Rrawrrrr.

The Domain, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace

Discount Electronics
4005 W. Parmer

Best DVD Rental/Purchase

Yes, Vulcan is versed in DVD, stocking the latest and greatest. But many of the cinematic world's treasures can still only be found on VHS. A recent queer/punk rental, which included both DVDs and VHS: Mondo Trasho (D: John Waters, 1969), Thundercrack! (D: Curt McDowell, 1975), No Skin Off My Ass (D: Bruce LaBruce, 1991), Nitrate Kisses (D: Barbara Hammer, 1992), The Watermelon Woman (D: Cheryl Dunye, 1996), Mala Noche (D: Gus Van Sant, 1986), Totally Fucked Up (D: Gregg Araki, 1993), and Urinal (D: John Greyson, 1989). What's your list?

Best Farmers Market

Easy like Sunday morning at HOPE Farmers Market means strolling around Plaza Saltillo perusing a variety of local vendors specializing in colorful, flavorful uniqueness. Artisans, artists, farmers, and programs designed to improve and inspire community and education are all wrapped up in a bear hug and set to live, local music. Only in this East Austin weekly treasure can you find beautifully handcrafted and cause-driven Kuna Kicks right alongside fresh Windy Hill Farm goat meat and Johnson’s Backyard Garden veggies. Brunch and conscious shopping make for a lovely day of rest.

412 Comal St,

Best Furnishings/Home

We'll admit it. On more than one occasion, we thought about hiding in Uptown Modern's restrooms so we could live there after hours. We would eat popcorn on a beautifully refurbished Danish modern sofa, store our clothes in a Paul McCobb chest, and arrange lavish buffets on a rosewood credenza. Sure, we might get arrested, but at least the crime scene would be tastefully appointed.

Uptown Modern
5111 Burnet Rd.

Devaki Knowles

Best Gardening Store

You can't honestly call the Natural Gardener a simple gardening store. They do sell plenty of soil, compost, and organic plants from their nursery, but with their gardening and sustainable living classes, on-site butterfly garden, and open invitation to post up on the lawn for a picnic, Natural Gardener distinguishes itself as more than a shop. What John and Jane Dromgoole have created is a growing, blooming, year-round celebration, dedicated to Austin's adoration of our natural world.

The Natural Gardener
8648 Old Bee Caves Rd.

Best Grocery Store

When artist Albert Bui titled H-E-Bs on his "Judgmental Austin Map" ("scary H-E-B," "scarier H-E-B," and "gimp H-E-B"), he may not have been prepared for the barrage of people who either defended or became embattled over the meme-moniker of their neighborhood H-E-B. But Bui certainly got one thing right, our neighborhoods aren't only defined by the schools and parks nearby, but also by the nearest H-E-B. For our part, we live near "the birds H-E-B."

7112 Ed Bluestein #125, 512/926-1491
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
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

John Anderson

Best Hardware Store

One of the many great things about Breed & Co. is even before you hit the aisles a'searchin' for that widget-wadget that will magically fix your toilet, there's someone preempting your frantic search, greeting you and asking if you need help. And trust us, you need help. We know we need help. The experience here is so smooth we usually get a bon-bon or two (or three) before we exit, widget-wadget in hand, strolling toward our car with the knowledge that we're about to get shit done.

Breed & Co.
718 W. 29th, 512/474-6679
3663 Bee Caves Rd., 512/328-3960

Best Music Gear

So you wanna be a rock & roll star? Quit singing into your toothbrush or playing air guitar in the mirror, and journey to the center of Austin's gearhead universe. Project the galaxies with their extensive lighting, call out to the stars to see if there is life on Mars with the vast selection of amps and mics, or just traverse the Earth like a troubadour with their many six-stringed wonders. In space no one can hear you scream, but here on Earth, Guitar Center is making sure you get heard at the speed of sound.

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

Devaki Knowles

Best Naughty Business

Keeping Austin kinky and twinky for more than 30 years, Forbidden Fruit specializes in all kinds of erotic gear. BDSM? LGBTQIA? Forbidden Fruit remains steadfastly, wholly inclusive with an emphasis on education and self-expression. A delight to your saucy bits, their vast selection of toys and lingerie will keep you coming back for more, more, more.

Forbidden Fruit
108 E. North Loop

Best Neighborhood Grocery/Convenience

The only retail food cooperative in Texas, Wheatsville Co-op is where sustainability meets substance. This city is in love with this multiple "Best of Austin" winner/bohemian foodophile haven. With an emphasis on local and organic, it's no wonder the co-op has over 12,000 owners. Don't worry though; you don't have to be an owner to enjoy this unique and charming grocery. This community driven co-op is open to all – and soon, super-convenient for our pals south of the river.

Wheatsville Food Co-op
3101 Guadalupe, 512/478-2667
4001 S. Lamar, 512/814-2888

photo by John Anderson

Sandy Carson

Best New Local Business

With only a year in business, Medusa Skates has solidified its place as the go-to gear hub for everything Roller Derby. Rollergirl owned and operated, this badass skate shop houses derby skates, pads, gear, wheels, plates, helmets, apparel, and just about anything else one could possibly need to dominate the track. Flat-track or banked-track skates? Ain’t a problem; they’ve got both. And there’s a shop cat, Dexter. Get your skates on, ladies. Medusa’s the bee’s knees. Speaking of which, need some kneepads? Fanboys and future brats need apply.

Medusa Skates
3515 Hyridge

Best Pet Store

"Woof!" (Can you believe Bark 'n Purr Pet Center has won 'Best Pet Store' in Austin 13 times? I can! It has all my favorite foods and toys, plus I get to go inside the store and make new friends! Wow, I love Bark 'n Purr so much!) "Hiss!" (Hiss!)

Bark n Purr Pet Center
4604 Burnet Rd.

photo by John Anderson

Best Record/CD Store

This independent music and video store has become an Austin staple, with its eclectic mix of new and used, rare, cult DVDs, and popular vinyl to suit its equally eclectic clientele, who've been popping in-and-out since 1982. If these walls could talk they'd probably tell you its regular in-store performances have included shoegazers My Bloody Valentine and Yo La Tengo, Texans Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, and St. Vincent, as well as former Waterloo Records employee Alejandro Escovedo of the Nuns and True Believers fame, among many others. So it's no wonder why Waterloo Records, named after the city's former moniker, has been on the Chronicle's "Best of Austin" list for decades and frequently included in similar lists across the nation.

Waterloo Records
600-A N. Lamar

Best Shoe Selection

Let's not mince words: You'll either need to "forget" your "good" credit card in the car, or bring a friend who is good at restraining you before you feast your eyes (and feet) on Nordstrom's shoe selection. By all means buy, but when the mortgage is at risk because, GOOD GOD, there are so many pretty pretties in that devil's den of bipedal luxury, you may need some financial-planning strategies. You've been warned.

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

Best Small Record/CD Store

Okay, vinyl heads, cool your jets. This beloved South Austin wax museum won't be leaving its post anytime soon. These guys are at the top of their game, providing music lovers with an insane range of contemporary indie releases as well as a well-stocked back catalog of everything from prog rock, dancehall, early Nineties rap, and British punk. With an approachable and adorkable staff and mind-blowing in-store events, this music destination can't be beat.

End of an Ear
4304 Clawson

Best Thrift Store

Our readers know what's what. Never turn your nose up at Goodwill because it truly is amazing. With set prices for each type of clothing, all brands are created equal! Also, besides the huge selection of cheap clothing, you can walk out with a new desk, some golf clubs, a DVD player, and a painting all at once. Goodwill is a treasure chest of odds and ends and never disappoints. Did we mention it's amazing?

9801 Brodie, 512/280-8037
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
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 Video Game Rental/Purchase

Pick your poison. As every childhood is unique, so is everyone’s retro gaming addiction. Mom wouldn’t buy a Sega in the Nineties? Game Over Videogames can help with that. Their deep, next-level selection of consoles, titles, and accessories are offered by a staff that speaks fluent gamer. Ding!

Various locations

Best Vintage

This North Loop neighborhood cornucopia of cool is chock-full of vintage household wares, retro baubles and furniture, and an ever-evolving inventory of whimsical midcentury chic. Plan to spend a day trying on costume jewelry, lounging in a pistachio-green wingback chair, and exploring the various nooks, crannies, curiosities, and delights.

Room Service Vintage
117 E. North Loop

Readers: Services
Critics: Architecture & Lodging

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