In this week's issue, we unveil the finalists in our annual "Best of Austin" Readers Poll. That "annual" comes with an asterisk; we ended up skipping 2020, an eminently skippable year. But we've come roaring back – or should I say you have, readers? Because it's your effort, truly: You voted for the nearly 900 (!!) nominees that made this final ballot, a terrific mix of old Austin and new. I'm a particular fan of a category unique to last year – Most Innovative Pivot – and the inventive people and businesses y'all have singled out for recognition.
I've been living with this ballot for a week now, and it's already been a great motivator for me – perfect timing, as spring pushes forward and the proliferation of the vaccine has us all peeking our heads above ground again. I checked out a new-to-me plant nursery over the weekend, made a plan to train for a 10K in the fall (Best Outdoor Run/Race is another new category this year), and circled a half-dozen restaurants to consider the next time I order takeout. If you, like me, are looking to reintroduce yourself to the city, I think you'll find this ballot is an inspiring place to start.
Vote now through April 12 for your favorites using either the print ballot on p.9 of this week's issue, or at vote.austinchronicle.com. While you're there, leave a comment about who you're voting for. We'll print your shoutouts/compliments/valentines/huzzahs alongside the winners in our "Best of Austin" issue, on newsstands and online on Thursday, May 13.
This week, Nick Barbaro winds down his weekly column "Soccer Watch," which has been a staple of our paper for decades. Now, Nick's not going anywhere: If you consult the masthead, you'll see he's got his hands full as publisher of the Chronicle. He also has another weekly column in our News section, "Public Notice." And he says he'll likely revive "Soccer Watch" for the next World Cup. But with the dawn of major league soccer in Austin, Nick's been eager to pass the torch. That happens next week with the debut of Eric Goodman's new Austin FC-focused column, "The Verde Report." You can follow Eric on Twitter at @goodman and find Nick's final (for now) "Soccer Watch."
SXSW Online Highlights: Dubya talks baseball, McConaughey stumps for soccer, Romeo slides into Juliet's DMs, and more dispatches from last week's all-virtual Fest.
Destination: New Mexico: Staff writer Kevin Curtin conducts an exit interview with post-punk guitar great Bill Anderson as he packs up for the Land of Enchantment.
Tune In Tuesday: Associate News and Qmmunity Editor Beth Sullivan will be on Bob Dailey's Civil Rights and Wrongs March 30 episode on KOOP radio to discuss the LGBTQIA legislation shaping up at the Capitol.
Social Justice's Social Strategy: Contributor Lilli Hime reports how LGBTQIA rights advocacy orgs are navigating pandemic protocols and pivoting to online channels this Lege session.
Those Biscuits: The Chronicle Food lieutenant (and this week's cover story author) Wayne Alan Brenner explores the brunchy goodness of the Bearded Baking Company.
Minari for the Win: The Austin Film Critics Association announces its 2020 awards, including six wins for Lee Isaac Chung's coming-of-age drama Minari.
So, Not the Font: Screens Editor Richard Whittaker chats with director Dominic Cooke about The Courier, a Cold War spy thriller starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
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