2018 Readers Poll
2018 Critics Picks

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Most Badass Septuagenarian Tattoo Artist

Remember all those times your parents told you not to get a tattoo because of that age-old fear: "How will it look when you're 70?" Well, "Shanghai" Kate Hellenbrand, America's "Tattoo Godmother" is living (and inked) proof they're wrong. Now in her 70s, Shanghai Kate has built a reputation of trailblazing and talent, tattooing celebrities like Howard Stern and everyday Austinites alike. Go on, get the tattoo.

Shanghai Kate's Tattoo Parlor
4405 Guadalupe

Best Way to Make Your Art Sustainable

There's something romantic about a starving artist ... unless you're the starving artist. If that's the case, CMB helps you meet other creative folk and business types (ick) who can give you tips on maximizing limited resources. Founder Ashland Viscosi's never-exhausted passion is ever-inspiring without being insufferable. With regular meetups, special events, and an annual, three-day conference to keep you up on the latest resources and best practices, you can stay in the black without selling out. Missed the meetings? Regular podcasts from the group conversations with mentors are expertly edited to be all killer and no filler.

Ashland Viscosi

Photo by John Anderson

Photo by John Anderson

Best Groove Maker

Since it opened last March, Austin’s first large-scale record pressing plant has been a blessing for musicians as well as local labels. Gold Rush’s calling card is a speedy turnaround. While many vinyl manufacturers will keep you waiting for several months, owner Caren Kelleher and her team usually have your stack of wax ready in four to six weeks. What's more, they take small-batch orders and save artists money on shipping because you can pick up your records from their North Austin warehouse.

Gold Rush Vinyl
1321 Rutherford #130

Best Intravenous Vitamin Rush

Babies get shots all the time, so please ignore your needle phobia for a hot second and let your body revel in the glory of this Drip Drop IV Vitamin Bar. The expert wizards at Alive + Well custom-mix vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, and amino acid fusions to be delivered intravenously (cells absorb the goodness better that way). There are drips for beauty, weight, peak performance, immunity, energy, and, yes, party animal, they’ve got one for hangovers, too. As if that’s not enough, there’s yoga and meditation, an infrared sauna and float chamber, and a wonderful chef-driven, gluten-free cafe, Elle’s, all in one lovely facility designed by MF Architecture. Get thee to Bee Cave.

Alive + Well
3944 RR 620 S., Bldg. 6
Bee Cave

Photo by Jana Birchum

Photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Most Grammable Nail Sculpture

Over French tips? Tired of yet another boring beige polish? Call Michelle for an edgy and unique look to pump up your hand wardrobe. Like Michelangelo, she sculpts each nail from scratch, perfectly matching your digits so the manicure lasts much longer than using cheap plastic tips. Not for the shy, you can indulge all of your rhinestone-encrusted fantasies with shapes like stab-them-in-the-heart pointed stilettos or bury-your-enemy coffins. Fingers and toes, people.

Michele Nails
2204 W. Anderson

Best Furry Companion Caretakers

When we had to leave town for a week, the most stressful part was planning for the care of our animals. Premier Pet TLC soothed our anxiety. From the first meeting, where our sitter took time to ask all the right questions and even wrote a sweet thank-you note, to the daily pet report cards complete with photos of the family we left behind, to our return to a happy, tail-waggin' household, we were all well cared for. They take the TLC part seriously, both for the pets and the parents.

Premier Pet TLC

Image via Facebook

Best Custom Carpentry

Maybe as many as 1.285 billion people worldwide believe Jesus Christ was a carpenter. In boomtown Austin, finding any available craftsman – or electrician, fence builder, handyman, plumber – worth trusting, cherishing, and referring to friends, is damn near miraculous. Matt Novak might be just that bearded wonder. You dream it, he’ll design it, build it, stain it, and install it, from entertainment units and beds to “that really odd cat enclosure.” Most homes have lots of woodwork. Divine carpentry? Perhaps less abundant.

Deer Hollow Woodworks
40225 Industrial Park Cir.

Best Artist With a Flash

Bill McCullough isn't just a photographer. He's an artist. As Technicolor Weddings (co-owned with wife Meredith Miller, who makes the custom keepsake wedding books), he's a master of lighting and composition who somehow manages to get the perfect candid shot of your grandmother letting loose at your wedding. But McCullough doesn't just document your big day. His stunning photos have been exhibited in solo shows and in the pages of The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine.

Technicolor Weddings

Photo by Bill McCullough

Photo by Susan Moffat

Best Way to Transform Your Backyard

The backyard came with a huge unlovely concrete slab in the middle, remnants of a long-gone garage. Rather than tear it out and send it to the landfill, we called Austin Pergola. Justin and his crew were a joy to work with, designing a gorgeous pergola to attach directly to the slab. They were patient, punctual, efficient, meticulous, and willing to work around our crazy schedule – and installation only took a few hours. With some potted plants and patio furniture, this former visual blight is now our favorite hang!

Austin Pergola Company
2407 S. Congress Ste. E-118

Best Place to Revive Your Comatose Camera Gear

These days it seems that direct contact with the repairman is rare. At Eurotech customers are met with caring sympathy for their malfunctioning equipment. Friendly, knowledgeable, and personal service sets owner Sorin Marcu apart from other camera service outfits. Though the shop may look like a mad scientist’s lair, in fact it is a fastidious workshop performing what seems like magic.

EuroTech Camera Service
2810 S. First

Photo by Jana Birchum

Photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Best Color to Make Your Ex Regret

So their startup IPOed right after you were dumped and now they’re dating a model. Shake it off and breathe life into your hair. Try subtle balayage highlights or get your locks dyed baby pink and hot magenta by the peeps at Little Sister Salon. Shade sorcerers who eat, sleep, and breathe color, they will guarantee a supremely flattering result no matter how soft or wild your choice. Now book a photo shoot and post those carefree pics to Facebook. New ’do, new you.

Little Sister Salon
3715-C S. First

Best Couples Massage

Ever had a massage, gone home, and felt guilty that your partner isn't as relaxed as you? Then relax and stretch together with Austin Ashiatsu's couples massage, as you both get the professional, deep tissue treatment at the same time. And if having someone walking on your back (the word ashiatsu literally means foot pressure) weirds you out, then at least your nearest and dearest is with you – and you both get to head home a lot looser.

Austin Ashiatsu
1306 E. Seventh

Image via

Photo by John Anderson

Best-Case Scenario When You've Got a Bee Infestation

It’s not that we don’t wish bees well. We just wish them to not build a teeming hive in our tool shed. So when that happens – and boy, does it happen fast – what we want is to ethically rehome them. Enter Keith’s Bee Removal, which uses a nontoxic compound to neutralize the bees, then gently vacuums them up for a quick trip to Spicewood and re-hiving, all for a price that doesn’t sting.

Keith's Bee Removal Service

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