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2015 Readers Poll
2015 Critics Picks
Best Antiques/Collectibles

Our first impulse was to liken Uncommon Objects to our grandma's attic, but on further reflection no single grandma would have a collection of trinkets, costume jewelry, cabinet cards, mid-century furniture, glassware, Victorian hair art, etc., etc., this varied. Our readers know Uncommon Objects offers the perfect range for sprucing up your Austin abode, or rummaging for unique props for more … artistic endeavors.

Uncommon Objects
1602 Fortview
512/442-4000
www.uncommonobjects.com

Best Bookstore

Two score and five years ago our Grokkers brought forth on this continent a new BookPeople Nation, conceived in Literacy, and dedicated to the proposition that all readers are created equal…ly jazzed about the latest hardback in print. There's no greater testament to the enduring allure of books than the vibrant culture around the written word nourished here. To wit: Their recent Carnival of Books offered everything under the Big Book Top this side of gap-toothed carnies: Book Pong, Predicting Your Literary Future, a Fall Author Scavenger Hunt, and so much more. By the way, that fall author list of visiting book signers includes Carrie Brownstein and Chelsea Clinton. The state of the nation is strong…

BookPeople
603 N. Lamar
512/472-5050
www.bookpeople.com

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Clothing/Accessories

Now in its lucky 13th year, SoLa is an Austin fashionista's go-to dream. And if you can't dream it, they offer free personal stylist service and their "frequent flyer" SoLanista Club to help you manifest it. Owner Coral Smith houses a variety of styles for every girl from classic to boho to sleek. SoLa is all about the right mix of fun, feminine, and chic.

SoLa
2005 S. Lamar
512/441-7370
www.solastyle.com

Best Comic Book Store

When you need a massive scale model of the Hulk watching you shop for your favorite comic, graphic novel, or other nerd-tastic memorabilia, Austin Books & Comics is a good place to go. Not only do they have aisle after shining aisle of DC and Marvel classics, but local authors and publishers are also given the space to catch a wandering eye. Who knows, there might even be a coloring book or a new favorite Batman storyline to Ooooff! Pow! Bip! or strike a fancy.

Austin Books & Comics
5002 N. Lamar
512/454-4197
www.austinbooks.com

Best Computer Store

Much more than just a computer store, this emporium of affordable electronics is a one-stop shop for your techiest plug-and-play needs. From anti-virus software and smart watches to gaming accessories and even drones, you will find them here. If you need something repaired, look no further than our Services section to see the 2015 "Best Computer Repair" winner here, too – their technicians are honest and can make most any repair, plus you'll get a diagnostic within 24 hours.

Discount Electronics
1011 W. Anderson, 512/983-9989
9711 Menchaca Rd., 512/458-8612
1001 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/637-7051
www.discountelectronics.com

Best Costume Shop

Come as you are, leave who you want to be. This staple in the heart of SoCo is where you turn for those most outlandish bets you lost, "ironic" themed parties, and stalking your ex. There's racks-upon-racks-upon-racks of costumes you can rent or purchase from every genre/hallucination/vortex imaginable. Slutty shark, anyone?

Lucy in Disguise
1506 S. Congress
512/444-2002
www.lucyindisguise.com

Best DVD Rental/Purchase

Whether you’re feeling independent and looking for an Andrew Bujalski film, brushing up on your French with a reel of Rohmer, poking the funny bone with Jerry Lewis, or just wanting to rent The Wedding Singer for the 1,000th time, Vulcan Video has it all and then some. Everything from the rarest of the rare to the newest of the new is at your fingertips. Vulcan is every movie lover’s dream, and Austin is lucky enough to have two fabulous locations: North Loop and South Congress. Get to rentin’!

Best Farmers' Market

Sunday morning shopping under the historic Browning Hangar is the see-and-be-seen scene for the young families of the Mueller development and surrounding neighborhoods. The stroller brigade is out in force with kids and dogs, browsing the impressive array of fine quality products from local farmers, ranchers, and food artisans. It's the most convenient place in town to be a locavore.

Mueller Farmers Market
4550 Mueller
512/363-5700
www.texasfarmersmarket.org

Best Furnishings/Home

With the retro revival that’s been in full swing for the past few decades, you’d think that Austin’s supply of mid-century treasures would have already run dry. This is far from true at Room Service Vintage, where you can find everything from an ugly-cute Seventies couch to nudie girls glassware to the perfect Forties dress that’s totally gonna get you some action at your friend’s wedding this weekend. Every visit to Room Service is more of an experience than a shopping trip, and it’s a place that always difficult to leave empty handed.

Room Service Vintage
117 E. North Loop
512/451-1057
www.roomservicevintage.com

Best Garden Supply Store

Voted "Best of Austin" over 10 times and a three-time winner of Today’s Garden Center's “Revolutionary 100 Garden Centers” in the nation, Natural Gardener is an eight-acre paradise tucked away on Old Bee Caves Road. From soil to plants, and everything organic, these folks know it all. Be sure to ask about John Dromgoole's famous Lady Bug line of products.

The Natural Gardener
8648 Old Bee Cave Rd.
512/288-6113
www.tngaustin.com

Best Grocery Store

It's like H-E-B can read our minds (and wallets) with its Meal Deals. Primo Picks turn us onto food and products we've never heard of, like Jalapino White Wine. Short on time? Grab a rotisserie chicken or some sushi made fresh daily. The bakery has individual to-die-for tres leches cakes with fruit on top and seasonal touches like pumpkin in the fall. Need some lawn ornaments? You're gonna need a second cart.

HEB
5808 Burnet, 512/453-8864
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
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
www.heb.com

Best Hardware Store

You may see the familiar denizens of Breed & Co. donning new red vests, marking the transition to a new "family of retailers," but fret not! The relationship between our beloved local Breed and national chain Ace Hardware is cooperative, not top-down corporate. Ace is their new primary hardware supplier. The things we love about Breed & Co. are still there. Human-scaled and humble is how we like our hardware stores, and Breed & Co. still has that in spades.

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

John Leach

Best Hats/Boots

The folks at Allen's became purveyors of boots, hats, and other fine Western haberdashery on South Congress long before anyone ever thought to call it SoCo. Now, the store is one of the definite retail attractions in a nationally known shopping destination. Visitors from all over stop in to shop at the South Austin flagship and at the sister store in Round Rock for a distinctive, wearable memory of Austin, Texas.

Allen's Boots
1051 I-35, Round Rock, 512/310-7600
1522 S. Congress, 512/447-1413
www.allensboots.com

Best Music Gear

Whether you’re looking for new guitar strings or want to try your hand at banjo, Strait Music has all the gear to launch your rockstar rocket. Friendly staff immediately greets customers as they walk into this toy store for musicians (or those of us who think we are musicians). The employees are helpful but don’t breathe high-pressure sales tactics down your neck. Their ability to be informative without being overbearing allows one to pluck away at “Stairway to Heaven” without missing a note. Whether a beginner or Stevie Ray reincarnate, your ability to shred will be well-equipped at Strait.

Strait Music Co.
2428 W. Ben White, 512/476-6927
13945 Hwy. 183 N., 512/918-3743
www.straitmusic.com

Best Naughty Business

The grande dame – or better, grande dom – of adult boutiques has been keeping our city kinky since 1981, and continues to be a favorite thanks to its safe environment and friendly staff. People of all sexual orientations and gender identities rely on this Austin institution for the best in adult toys and intimacy enhancing workshops, and you won't find a better place to stock up on bachelorette party favors and props.

Forbidden Fruit
108 E. North Loop
512/453-8090
www.forbiddenfruit.com

Best Neighborhood Grocery/Convenience

Though it boasts upwards of 17,000 members, Wheatsville still retains its “quaint local co-op” feel. And with a selection of local produce and goods for every diet type, it’s the perfect place to shop whether you’re on a juice cleanse or looking for some vegan dessert. Fresh Plus has roots in Austin dating back to 1927. With health food nestled alongside bigger brands, it’s the one-stop grocery for Austinites who like some balance in their pantry. As their site says, Fresh Plus is the place where “you can get your Frosted Flakes and gluten-free snacks in the same place.”

Wheatsville Food Co-op
3101 Guadalupe
512/478-2667
www.wheatsville.coop

Fresh Plus
408 E. 43rd
512/459-8922
www.freshplusaustin.com

photo by John Anderson

John Anderson

Best New Local Business

The term may be used to belittle folks who eat healthy, but there's no shame in Rabbit Food's cruelty-free product game, and this little new grocery nook on South First specializes in food that won't make you barf once you find out where it came from. Nobody got skinned, murdered, or had poison poured into their eyes for what you are about to consume. The way we eat says a lot about us. Sure, it's tough learning new ways to see the world and take in nourishment, but it sure helps when places like Rabbit Food Grocery are conscious and convenient.

Rabbit Food Grocery
2210 S. First
512/666-8638
www.rabbitfoodgrocery.com

Best Pet Store

Not only does Tomlinson’s have an array of food, toys, and other pet accoutrements, but they host events every weekend, including adoptions, low-cost vaccination clinics, painless anesthesia-free teeth cleanings, and trainings. Their customer rewards program featuring their Pet Picks special offers and a 10% discount with no tricks or strings attached is pretty nice, too.

Tomlinson's Feed & Pets
5716-B Burnet Rd., 512/531-9311
916-B W. 12th, 512/514-1881
11521 FM 620 N. #940, 512/284-9988
4815 W. Braker #501, 512/531-9220
3563 Far West Blvd. #114, 512/291-7910
3421 N. Lakeline #210, Leander, 512/986-7482
www.tomlinsons.com

photo by John Anderson

Best Record/CD Store

Our world is full of change: Albums no longer drop on Tuesday, vinyl has made more than a hipster-ite comeback, and musicians are reinvesting in their cover art. And while we feel all our feels about such inevitable entropic flow, we can't help but be calmed walking into Waterloo. Here's a place that gets it, that holds space for us to just wander, explore, discover, and reconnect to the music.

Waterloo Records
600-A N. Lamar
512/474-2500
www.waterloorecords.com

Best Shoe Selection

Shoobies worth their salt know that Nordstrom’s shoe selection is second to none: dependably on-trend, high-quality, featuring classics and unexpected twists on classics, as well as hot seasonal designs. Mentioned less often is that Nordy’s well-trained shoe pros know how to make a shopping experience fun, informative, and personal. Stunning product and stellar service make a great pair.

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

Best Thrift Store

Goodwill is always a pretty accurate reflection of what people in the area are/were/will soon be wearing. That's why you can go to almost any Goodwill in Austin and find vintage dresses, cowboy boots, band T-shirts, and quirky costume jewels galore. While you're at it, you can grab a few books, some dishes, and a couch – though you may want a friend to help you with that.

Goodwill
8965 Research Blvd., 512/832-0004
Main office: 1015 Norwood Park Blvd., 512/637-7100
2800 S. Lamar, 512/442-8802
836 Airport, 512/389-3277
Goodwill Computerworks, 1015 Norwood Park Blvd., 512/637-7502
13096 Hwy. 183 #104, 512/258-5898
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
www.austingoodwill.org

Best Vape Shop

C'mon, make the switch. All About Vapor has starter kits for new converts, binders full of flavors, and a steeping room in the back with leather couches and enough upscale e-juice to fill a Jacuzzi. And their friendly neighborhood "nicologists" will brew a special e-juice with your name on it. Seriously, when was Marlboro ever that attentive?

All About Vapor
4631 Airport #122, 512/452-8273
2000 N. Mays #115, 512/671-8273
www.allaboutvapor.com

Devaki Knowles

Best Video Game Store

In a world where products increasingly live in the cloud, there's something to be said for a physical artifact, and Game Over Videogames knows it. It's found success over the last decade and grown from one store and one employee to a dozen locations. The community built around Game Over is evident at the store's annual Classic Game Fest.

Game Over Videogames
911 W. Anderson #106, 512/454-4263
110 N. I-35 Ste. 200-A, Round Rock, 512/246-6837
3005 S. Lamar Ste. B-105B, 512/326-4263
1504 Aquarena Springs Dr. #110, San Marcos, 512/878-4684
www.gameovervideogames.com

Best Vintage

With the retro revival that’s been in full swing for the past few decades, you’d think that Austin’s supply of midcentury treasures would have already run dry. This is far from true at Room Service Vintage, where you can find everything from an ugly-cute Seventies couch and nudie girls glassware to the perfect Forties dress that’s totally gonna get you some action at your friend’s wedding this weekend. Every visit to Room Service is more of an experience than a shopping trip, and it’s a place that's always difficult to leave empty-handed.

Room Service Vintage
117 E. North Loop
512/451-1057
www.roomservicevintage.com

 
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Critics: Architecture & Lodging

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