Our ever-evolving language hasn't yet invented a superlative that betters "best." Still, every year, putting together our "Best of Austin" issue, we tussle with the word anew. Best to whom? The born-and-bred local, or the brand-new resident? And best when? Best right now, or best always?
So we strive to strike a balance: to celebrate the new businesses and trends and emerging artists that flipped our wig in the past 12 months, and also to champion the stalwarts, the undersung, those people and places so consistently great at what they do we don't always think to say thanks.
And by "we" I mean, yes, the Chronicle editorial staff and crackerjack freelancers out scouting for fresh Critics Picks. But also you, dear readers, who voted in record numbers this year in our annual Readers Poll and took the time to tell us why you love what you love. We couldn't do it without you.
And this issue couldn't get done without a whole mess of people working behind the scenes. They include: former "Best of Austin" editor Brandon Watson (bless you for leaving instructions); "BOA" assistant extraordinaire Katarina Brown, who met every challenge thrown at her with a smile; webmaster Brian Barry, who reinvented the online "BOA" portal (so snazzy!) and never said no to any and every (often annoying) sentence I began with "Can you ...?"; Art Director Jason Stout, who elevates everything he touches, plus his ace team of photographers; Publisher Nick Barbaro and our extraordinary editorial staff and contributors, who answered my call to make this a truly collaborative endeavor; our killer proofreading (Kat McNevins, Greg Stitt, Danielle White) and production (Chris Linnen, Zeke Barbaro, Jeff Gammill) staff; our marketing and events team (Sarah Wolf, Karena Rogers, Dan Hardick, Tamar Price), who make us all look good, and throw kickass parties to boot; Reanna Sioux Zuniga, who surely didn't take on this internship thinking she'd learn all about international postal codes; the whole damn staff, because truly, whether they're selling ads to pay for this monster-sized issue or keeping us all well-fed with queso and munchies, "Best of Austin" is an all-hands-on-deck operation; and finally, the therapy dogs – Thisbe, Hank, Omar – and humans – James Renovitch, Cassidy Frazier, Sarah Wolf. In these pages, we hand out 281 awards, but in my heart, I've saved for one more for all y'all. – Kimberley Jones
John Anderson, Neha Aziz, Nick Barbaro, Marjorie Baumgarten, Jana Birchum, Wayne Alan Brenner, Bret Brookshire, Katarina Brown, Jessi Cape, Sandy Carson, Barbara Chisholm, Kevin Curtin, Mark Fagan, Robert Faires, Doug Freeman, William Harries Graham, David Brendan Hall, Raoul Hernandez, Shelley Hiam, Chase Hoffberger, Melany Jean, Kimberley Jones, Michael King, Josh Kupecki, John Leach, Carina Magyar, Sean Malin, Sarah Marloff, Maria Mendez, Susan Moffat, Joe O'Connell, Eric Puga, James Renovitch, Bailey Shelden, Kahron Spearman, Jason Stout, Beth Sullivan, Mary Tuma, Adrienne Whitehorse, Richard Whittaker, Todd V. Wolfson, Reanna Sioux Zuniga