People & Places

  • Best Bar Manager

    Betty Campbell, Little Woodrow's

    Tucked in the armpit of West U, Bellaire and the railroad tracks, Little Woodrow's seems out of place and time. Few of the mostly working-class regulars who frequent the area's only neighborhood bar live in the monstrosities that have sprouted in the adjoining neighborhoods, displacing the modest middle-class ranch-styles. But those regulars are fiercely loyal, thanks in no small part… More >>
  • Best 15 Minutes of Fame

    A.J. McClure, Kaufman County

    On June 16, the New Black Panthers had every right to be pissed. They'd dressed all in eye-catching black. They arrived at the state GOP convention in Houston in a rare Hummer limousine. And most of them came to the protest party armed with all manner of menacing weapons: rifles, shotguns and an AK-47 or two. They were hunting, all… More >>
  • Best Car-Commercial Jingle

    Mossy Nissan

    Just another example of how overrated pop music songcraft is. Since a catchy five- or ten-second hook is usually described as genius, the little bit of pop profundity known as the Mossy Nissan commercial jingle also deserves as glowing a description. Over a snappy beat, a male voice sings the name of the dealership over and over. "Mos-sey Neeee-sahhhhn /… More >>
  • Best Bar Bathroom

    Prague

    Europeans may build great cathedrals, but Americans have a genius for bathrooms. At Prague, the WC marries old-world elegance with Yankee utilitarianism. When nature's irrepressible call rises above the club's techno beat, you can drift down to this swank unisex chamber of flickering candles, period furniture and a full-service bar to answer. The style might be described as bathroom baroque.… More >>
  • Best Motorcycle Parking Lot

    Wortham Theater Center

    Maybe these are just the moments that downtown finally arrives. Party on the Plaza is in full swing. So is its dynamic corner of the central city, with Bayou Place beckoning the masses across the street. And there, on the magnificent grounds that serve as the front entrance to the Wortham Theater Center, are scores of motorcycles at rest in… More >>
  • Best Use of Taxpayer Dollars

    Truck Enforcement Unit, Houston Police Department

    The stuff of public art, hike-and-bike paths, youth programs and parks are pleasant municipal amenities, to be certain. Even residents who don't personally partake of such things can still feel good about having them as part of life in Houston. But all those come after what ought to be the priorities of any public service agency: peace of mind. Sewer… More >>
  • Best Place for a First Date

    Mi Luna

    Dating is like ordering tapas: You try a whole bunch of different things and you hope you get something you like that agrees with you and doesn't make you sick. Mi Luna is a fun "first date" -- it's like a fancy mall food court, because you each can get whatever you want, from baby clams and poached salmon to… More >>
  • Best Random Act of Kindness

    J. Mark Davis

    There's no telling where Cynthia Flood and her two children would be living today if they hadn't crossed paths with Mark Davis. Last October, Davis read a story in the Houston Press that recounted how Flood's $250-a-month apartment in the Fourth Ward was in the path of a city-sponsored redevelopment project and was destined to be demolished. She was denied… More >>
  • Best Public Make-out Place

    The underground parking lot at Compaq Center

    Journey back to your junior year of high school. You just saw a movie while seated next to the crush of your dreams, with your feet propped up on the back of the seat in front of you. Your hands touched in the giant tub o' popcorn. Happiness shot straight through you. You drove separately. Afterward, you walk to your… More >>
  • Best Reason Not to Take Public Transportation

    Smog ranking

    Finally, now that Houston ranks No. 1 in something, why should we give that up? You thnk it's easy being top dog when it comes to ozone violations? This year shows all signs of a tough competition with Los Angeles, the traditional winner of the smog crown. Consider this: Houston's weather (hot air and weak winds) should serve to our… More >>
  • Best Democrat

    Billie McClain Carr, the long-serving Democratic National Committeewoman from Houston

    Seventy-two-year-old Billie Carr has finally retired from her DNC position, and she'll leave plenty of devoted fans behind, including her old friend President Bill Clinton. Having fought her way to the top through the ranks of conservative Democrats who once dominated the party, Carr, by necessity, also adopted many of their hard-fisted tactics. That has left plenty of moderates bruised… More >>
  • Best Local Girl Made Good

    Courtney Lanier

    The settlement of the mega-nasty divorce suit between Christopher and Valerie Sarofim in June suited more than just the parties themselves. Former mayor Bob Lanier's adopted daughter Courtney, who had paired off with Chris when he moved out on Val, would likely have gotten a ski ride through the mud. Val's attorney, Earle Lilly, had Courtney fitted out for the… More >>
  • Best Billboard

    Tony's signage on the Southwest Freeway at Kirby

    To grab your attention, billboards should be as explosive as a child's temper tantrum, and just as unsubtle. Vasectomy reversal! Who's the father?! When half's not enough! The best billboards are amusing as much for what they don't say as for what they do. "The church found out about our family planning!" "The asshole won't fess up to fathering the… More >>
  • Best Patio

    The Terrace on Main, Warwick Hotel

    Houston boosters are fond of reminding the uninitiated that Bob Hope once said the view from the Warwick penthouse was the most beautiful he had ever seen. If only the Main Street Coalition had as juicy a celebrity quote about the hotel at street level. Light rail or no light rail, the coalition hopes to turn Main Street into Houston's… More >>
  • Best Community Newspaper

    El Día

    If Houston's Spanish-speaking community has a paper of record, El Día is it. More than simply recap police blotter sagas, this daily diligently covers news affecting the city's diverse Hispanic community that otherwise wouldn't get covered. El Día has kept a watchful eye on police brutality, the fire department's handling of emergency services, schools and other critical issues. The paper… More >>
  • Best Restoration Project

    Rothko Chapel

    After a year and a half with its doors shut for a $1.8 million face-lift, the Rothko Chapel reopened in June, radiating renewed richness in its muted simplicity. The renovation work reached from the ground up, bringing the shrine closer to what Rothko had intended, says Suna Umari, the chapel's executive director. The brick structure's foundation was elevated, the roof… More >>
  • Best Place to Beat Road Rage

    Cullen Center park

    Afternoon rush hour. Traffic oozes south from the Cullen Center garage and north from Brazos Street, battling for the turn that will take commuters onto the Interstate 45 ramp at Pease. Others are roaring off the exit ramp onto Jefferson. The light turns red and stays that way just long enough for motorists to gaze beyond rolled-up windows at a… More >>
  • Best Rest Stop

    Interstate 10, one mile west of FM 1489 in Brookshire

    The Texas Department of Transportation has the cookie-cutter approach to rest stops. Most of them are no more than off- and on-ramps from freeways, where the harried masses of motorists huddle at basic tables as traffic roars by a few yards away. The no-frills approach suits drivers just fine. But how sweet it is to steer away from the standard… More >>
  • Best Birthday Present

    Gulf Coast's salute to the University of Houston Creative Writing Program

    UH's Creative Writing Program turned 20 this year, and in its honor, the literary magazine Gulf Coast devoted its summer 2000 issue to essays, stories and poems by the program's alumni and professors. The fat issue (303 pages, about twice the magazine's usual size) bulges with surprises: national poet laureate Robert Pinsky finds generosity and intelligence in an old cat's… More >>
  • Best Do-It-Yourself Nature Park

    The woods on 11th Street in Timbergrove Manor

    Just west of the Heights, in the largely undiscovered subdivision of Timbergrove Manor, sit 21 acres of pine-tree-filled land, one of the largest such plots left inside the Loop. The land is owned by the Houston Independent School District, and residents grew alarmed last year when HISD announced plans to use the forest as a new location for the High… More >>
  • Best Gay Role Model

    Gene Mikulenka

    When he was growing up in the town of Hallettsville, Gene Mikulenka thought the word "gay" meant that you smoked pot, that you were cool. One day a couple of guys came into the restaurant where he worked and asked Gene if he was gay. "I did it a couple of weeks ago," he responded, "but I'm not going to… More >>
  • Best Downtown Bar That's Still There

    Brewery Tap

    Don't get us wrong. We love the "revitalization" of downtown. We love the crowds, the foot traffic, the energy and the fact that in some bars you have to wear the right fucking clothes to get a drink. This is not our idea of alcohol consumption. Our ideal bar combines good spirits with an even better ambience. The Brewery Tap… More >>
  • Best Bridge

    Dunlavy Street bridge over U.S. 59

    Yeah, yeah. We know. The bridges being built over U.S. 59 have caused ridiculously frequent freeway closures. And on the occasion when 59 is open, drivers have to risk life and limb just negotiating the lane merges around heavy machinery. But as our own Mayor Lee Brown so prosaically put it, "This is the price of real progress." The set… More >>
  • Best Judges

    14th Court of Appeals Chief Justice Paul Murphy and Justice John Anderson

    Justices Paul Murphy and John Anderson brought the wrath of GOP social conservatives down on their heads by ruling that the state's antediluvian homosexual conduct law discriminates against gays by banning sexual behavior that is legal for straights. Murphy and Anderson made up the majority on a three-judge panel that considered the constitutional challenge to the statute by Houstonians John… More >>
  • Best New Downtown Club

    Mercury Room

    Dorothy Parker would drink here. The old Isis Theater has been restored to its swinging, speakeasy style. There's a 25-foot-long cherry-wood bar with a rolling library ladder to get to the good stuff. You can buy a $4 bottle of Bud Light and order caviar at the bar. Down the slippery slate stairs, there's a cigar bar and a wall… More >>
  • Best Bureaucrat

    City Parks Director Oliver Spellman

    City Parks Director Oliver Spellman is without question Mayor Lee Brown's most popular appointee as a city department head. Spellman, formerly the Cleveland, Ohio, parks chief, faced a daunting task when he arrived in Houston in the spring of 1998. The department had been left in shambles by Lanier administration predecessor Bill Smith, and was the object of City Council… More >>
  • Best Country Club

    Harrisburg Country Club

    Trick answer: As you may have guessed by the street name, the Harrisburg Country Club is not a country club at all, but an exceptionally cheeky icehouse, and a fine example of the genre at that. "Just good folks" and "Just good food," promise the signs flanking the door, and while we can't honestly recommend the food as anything but… More >>
  • Best Local Terrorist

    Lloyd Kelley

    Lloyd Kelley never worked for the U.S. Postal Service, but the former cop, city councilmember and controller has been living up to the standard set in the 1990s by the both-barrels-blazing mail clerks. Once a rising star in Republican political circles, the photogenic Kelley was on a fast track to the mayor's office after he won the controller's job in… More >>
  • Best Road to Drive When You Happen to Have Your Martini Shaker Handy and Are Thirsty

    Westheimer

    So The Incredible Hulk gets ahold of our roads, and all the City of Houston can do is set up orange cones and sawhorses around the damage. Oy vey. Driving down Westheimer, specifically through the Montrose area, has become as jarring as navigating the lunar surface on a Huffy. The road has divots deep and wide enough to make Tiger… More >>
  • Best Bar Decor

    Dean's Credit Clothing

    Sure, we were sad to see the well-preserved grit and grime of the old Dean's go. But let's face it: The couches smelled like pee, and the dark, cluttered room was a minefield of opportunities to fall on your ass. Besides, the new yuppified version of Dean's makes a few nods in the direction of its less illustrious past. Vintage… More >>
  • Best Mystery

    Why Lee Brown hired Jerry King as public works director

    Freshly elected in 1998, Mayor Lee Brown had a chance to add substance to his well-padded résumé by doing what predecessor Bob Lanier had only pretended to do: shore up the city's sagging infrastructure with an aggressive public works program. Lanier's program had been aggressive, at least in terms of spending billions, but rampant corruption and no accountability in the… More >>
  • Best Nonprofit

    Avenue Community Development Corporation

    While most people are loath to acknowledge it, Houston's housing boom has a downside, too: higher rents and less affordable single-family housing. Avenue CDC was formed in 1991 by a handful of residents of the Sixth Ward, back when demands for inner-city housing forced out lower-income renters and homeowners who had settled there when times were not so flush. Since… More >>
  • Best Place for a Last Date

    Valentino's

    The grand doorway opens at this obscure Midtown corner on Fannin. A heavy sense of foreboding can be felt with the first step into the enormous premises. The clock freezes at the just-off-peak dining hour. Over in the hazy corner, by that faded mural of the canals of Venice, a jazz vocalist lazily ends her set. She sings throaty refrains… More >>
  • Best Event That No One Thought Would Ever Happen

    Opening of the Historic Oaks of Allen Parkway

    For almost 20 years Allen Parkway Village, the sprawling 963-unit public-housing project just east of downtown, was at the heart of a class war that pitted a small band of tenants and affordable-housing advocates against the Housing Authority of the City of Houston, or HACH, which wanted to bulldoze the complex and sell the land to private developers. Negotiations eventually… More >>
  • Best Speed Trap

    Memorial Drive/Woodway, from Loop 610 through Memorial Park to Crestwood

    Ask most cops about the favorite HPD speed traps, and they'll chuckle. After all, speeders are everywhere in Houston. Traffic enforcement is like radar-shooting SUVs in a barrel. Perhaps a few miles over the limit can be tolerated in most areas, simply because there's not much reason to slow down and savor scenery that's not even there. However, two miles… More >>
  • Best Car for Houston Roads

    High-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (Humvee/Hummer)

    Elegance and efficiency. Durability with at least a dab of uniqueness. Houstonians aren't that different from drivers elsewhere. We want the best of all worlds: tungsten toughness combined with soft leather. Consumers pick the SUVs, the E-cars -- Ford Expeditions and Explorers, Caddy Escalades -- or the Suburbans, or even the Zee-Me-Now BMW sportsters. Others try to find the perfect… More >>
  • Best Local Boy Gone Bad

    District G City Councilman Bert Keller

    If anyone wants to dent a squeaky-clean political image in the course of one evening, look no further than the unfortunate 39-year-old Bert Keller for pointers. First the councilman, who was already estranged from wife Susan, took off after an Astros game for the inner sanctum of Centerfolds topless bar on Richmond. There, he got an up-close and personal inspection… More >>
  • Best Use for the Astrodome

    Mock naval battles

    The poor Dome. The former Eighth Wonder of the World has to sit there helplessly and watch as, right across the parking lot, construction crews build the new NFL stadium that has a contract out to kill it. The humiliation is compounded by the endless speculation and discussions about what to do with the white elephant. In July the Houston… More >>
  • Best Dot-com Ad Campaign

    www.GroceryWorks.com

    Some folks think they're creepy, but we like the various foods that have taken on the personae of animals in the company's billboard campaign around the city. They have a banana that looks like an octopus, cherries made to resemble an ant, a watermelon as a turtle, and several other charming characters. If only the groceries and produce they delivered… More >>
  • Best Zoo Animal

    Orangutan, Houston Zoo, Hermann Park, (713)523-5888

    Most of the animals at the zoo don't seem to care too much about visitors. They eat or pee or groom themselves or loll about, oblivious to the prying eyes and children's cries. But the orangutan knows what's going on. When a crowd gathers on the other side of her glass wall, she'll wander over to say hello, using her… More >>
  • Best Archival Project No One Has Heard About

    Crazy Cajun Records catalog

    Producer Huey Meaux was a perfect fit for Houston. Something of a wildcatter of Texas music, Meaux never showed any interest in history. His focus was always on the new thing: the next single, the latest thrill, the youngest girl. The past was only a tool to acquire something in the present, or the future. It wasn't surprising, then, that… More >>
  • Best Hidden Neighborhood

    Forest Hill

    It's not hidden if you live there, of course, but for plenty of us who've arrived at thinking-about-home-buying age in the last few years, it's all about -- in words lifted from the housewarming invitation of one recent arrival -- "East side, baby!" East side means different things to different people, and the rising Heights-like affluence of close-in neighborhoods like… More >>
  • Best Explanation of a Traffic Accident

    "...and then we were flying"

    On a Thursday morning last December, two automobiles collided at the T intersection of Hillcroft and Skyline. One car, traveling south on Hillcroft, was attempting a left turn onto Skyline when it slammed into a northbound vehicle. It's impossible to tell, by virtue of the police report, which driver was to blame. The woman driving the southbound car gave a… More >>
  • Best Name for a Dry Cleaners

    $1.39? Dry Clean

    For a year, Vijay Grrala called his dry cleaners, located in a strip mall at Westheimer and Kirkwood, The Kirkwood Dry Clean. Situated down the mall sidewalk from an H-E-B and Half Price Books, it seemed a boring little name for a boring little dry cleaners, with cheap, plastic-framed decorations of sunny landscapes on the wall. So two years ago,… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Sculpture Garden

    Blossom Street Gallery & Sculpture Garden

    Three years ago, the square block of land surrounded by Shepherd, Durham, Blossom and Floyd was a debris-filled mess that did little more than depress the few drivers who bothered to notice it. Richard Roederer, owner of the Blossom Street Gallery, cleaned the place up and used it to display work from regional artists such as Herbert Long, Michelle O'Michael… More >>
  • Best Time and Place to See Low-Riders

    Richmond Strip, late Saturday night

    Yes, there are other cruising routes -- out on Airline or Irvington, say -- but this western stretch of Richmond club land is the oldest and biggest and most reliable. If the weather's good and the cops aren't swarming, car-watchers will be rewarded with a combination parade and dance competition. All along the strip, you'll see gorgeous paint jobs and… More >>
  • Best Bus Stop

    Outside Sears

    A bus stop is pretty much a bus stop here in Houston. But there is one location that offers a little variety, not to mention style. Outside the Sears in the Garden Oaks neighborhood, north of the Heights, is a 1950s gem, with a space-age roof featuring the curves of an artist's palette and long benches that put to shame… More >>
  • Best Administrative Judge

    Chief Justice Michael Schneider, First Court of Appeals

    Even in the justice system, silence can be golden. While the 14th Court of Appeals has been in seemingly continual controversy in recent years -- justices even sued their chief justice at one point in a long-running dispute over administrative authority -- the First Court of Appeals has been a relative sea of calm jurisprudence. The reason is obvious: First… More >>
  • Best Y2K Story

    Butch Forest

    Last time we checked in with La Porte jack-of-all-junk Butch Forest (see "J-U-N-K in the Y2K," December 30, 1999), the conversation revolved around a complicated four-way horse trade involving a gutted 18-foot Airstream trailer in Manvel, a 14-foot fiberglass bass boat in Houston, a Hi-Lo camper in Dickinson and a canoe described in full by Forest as "green." That proposed… More >>
  • Best Contribution to Downtown Redevelopment

    Randall Davis Company

    Enron Field? Hardly. The Astros' stadium may be a strong anchor to east downtown's revitalization, but the real stars of central city redevelopment were already playing hardball long before Drayton's dream ever hit the drawing board. The real pioneers are people like New York implant Sharon Roseke Haynes. She led the group that rehabbed the sad Brashear building into the… More >>
  • Best Ferry

    Lynchburg

    We dithered on this one: Lynchburg or Bolivar? Bolivar or Lynchburg? Lynchburg is a shorter ride, a smaller, perhaps cozier ferry, and it operates in the appropriately industrial seascape of the Ship Channel near the San Jacinto Monument, which is always a plus. The Bolivar ferries make for a longer trip, they're bigger, sturdier-seeming boats, and the mood is more… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    JR.'s Bar & Grill

    Right in the center of Houston's gay bars, JR.'s has one of the longest and most entertaining happy hours around. Though its patrons are predominantly gay men, people of all persuasions are welcome (age 21 and older, that is). Happy hour begins at noon (yes, noon) but really starts firing up around 5:30 p.m. The drink specials vary nightly, but… More >>
  • Best Mile of Houston

    The 1000 block of Memorial Drive to 900 Texas Avenue

    Houston's strength is in diversity and ever-evolving transitions. Nothing shows this off better than the last leg of Memorial Drive into the city. Relish the tribute to nature on the green-space trails along Buffalo Bayou, the ones accented with public art, the ones that could have been erased with a concrete-lined culvert ages ago. The trees along that area instantly… More >>
  • Best Place to Park Your Car and Walk Two Feet for an Ice-Cold Shiner

    West Alabama Ice House

    You're stuck in traffic, the temperature is over 100 degrees, and you're thirsty. Highway beer billboards are making you even thirstier. This is what hell must be like, you think to yourself. Pull off the highway and head to the West Alabama Ice House. Park your car and stumble to one of the picnic benches under the awning. There, a… More >>
  • Best Revolution

    Seabrook's recall election

    Democracy reared its not-so-ugly head in Seabrook this year when residents got mightily pissed off that their elected officials were determined to bring a mammoth billion (with a "B")-dollar container port to the doorstep of their small town. Visions of a huge rail yard and 7,000 trucks a day rumbling down now-rural roads to deliver goods to the proposed Bayport… More >>
  • Best Bar with a Ghost Story

    The Ale House

    Lend an ear to anybody over at the hallowed beer hall, and they will tell stories of the apparition that has been lurking in the nooks and crannies of the place for ages. Just how long has this spook been around? Well, long enough that the people have given it a name: Maggie. Cynical social drinkers may not buy the… More >>
  • Best Citizens

    Mark and Louise Zwick

    For more than two decades the Zwicks have helped thousands of Latin American immigrants make the transition to life in the United States. What began as a humble shelter for refugees from war-torn Central America has evolved into a multifaceted operation that includes two health clinics, a labor hall and clothes- and food-distribution components. Casa Juan Diego, located on Lillian… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet Single Men

    Kay's Lounge

    Walk into this dive, and you're surrounded by beer and boys. The walls are papered in beer ads, and hanging over the Texas-shaped table is a faux Tiffany lamp advertising Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller Lite. Around the Texas table are men, men, men. Men in lumberjack plaids, men in jeans, men in hiking boots. Real Texas men singing along… More >>
  • Best Lawyer

    Richard Burr

    Richard Burr is the veteran Houston attorney who devoted his intellect and emotions to fighting the death penalty long before Governor George Bush's run for president made the issue a hot-button topic with the national media. Burr started his career as a public defender in Florida and became director of the Capital Punishment Project of the NAACP. After moving to… More >>
  • Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners

    Cleveland Turner's house, 3311 Sampson Street

    Sometimes referred to as the Flower Man, Cleveland Turner is a former drunk who slipped the grip of booze by promising God he'd dedicate his life as a sober man to creating a place of uncommon beauty. God must have held him to the vow, because Turner's home and yard in the Third Ward are a cacophony of flowers, fruit… More >>
  • Best Politician

    Paul Bettencourt, Harris County tax-assessor collector

    After the death of 51-year Democratic incumbent Carl Smith, former corporate salesman and GOP Harris County treasurer Paul Bettencourt ran a political gauntlet to win the post. After Commissioner Steve Radack pushed the appointment of former Oilers defensive back Willie Alexander through the court, supporters on the county GOP Executive Committee put Bettencourt on the ballot instead. He trounced his… More >>
  • Best Local Girls Gone Bad

    Krystal Maddox, Lisa Warzeka, Katie Dunn and Michelle Morneau

    The long arm of the law has permanently broken up that old gang of Kingwood High School convenience-store banditas whose rampage for cash and cigarettes earned them face time on such national news shows as 20-20 and 48 Hours. The trio most involved in the series of five robberies -- Krystal Maddox, Lisa Warzeka and Katie Dunn -- took their… More >>
  • Best Landlord

    Brian Copeland

    Brian Copeland is definitely the nicest landlord in town. He owns five area properties, but he has scaled down and sold a few apartment houses so that he and his partner, Tyler, can spend more time with their adorable son. Most landlords are just people who collect your rent check. When you call Brian, he actually cares about what's going… More >>
  • Best Local TV News Anchor

    Lisa Foronda, KHOU-TV Channel 11

    By now, any TV buff knows this show. Diverse characters come together under demanding conditions and fend for themselves on a remote island. Darwinism depletes their numbers as the weak-willed get culled -- voted off the island -- while others thrive on the primal challenges for their tribes. Survivor scored big in the summer season on Channel 11. But by… More >>
  • Best Reason to Join the Houston Zoo

    Zoobilee

    This annual members-only party takes place in early summer, but blessedly, it's during the cool of evening, when it's pleasant to stroll the grounds. Stuff your offspring full of free hot dogs, sodas and ice cream. Sway to the reggae band. Watch the clown wobble on stilts and juggle flaming sticks. Or -- oh, yeah -- look at the animals.… More >>
  • Best Amnesia

    Phillip Lopate

    Essaying New Yorker Phillip Lopate (track down a copy of his out-of-print "Against Joie de Vivre") spent eight years, from 1980 to 1988, living and working and teaching in Houston, so he must have seemed a defensible choice when the editors of the New York Times Magazine assigned him to revisit his old stomping grounds for its February 27, 2000,… More >>
  • Best Street Festival

    The Southwestern Bell African-American Arts Festival

    Oh, what were you expecting, the Westheimer Street Festival? The Houston International Festival, with its overpriced gyros and male Carmen Miranda impersonators? They may be the largest and most popular street fests in the city, but this modest weekend get-together should be rightfully recognized. For a couple of days last October, a few blocks on Holman Street were filled with… More >>
  • Best View

    Chase Tower

    The sky lobby on the 60th floor of the I.M. Pei-designed Chase Tower offers the kind of view that gets kids oohing and asking really deep questions. "What would happen if there was no glass here?" queried one little girl as she and her brother pressed against the floor-to-ceiling window, peering over pulsating downtown to the smoky horizon. Dad cut… More >>
  • Best Name for a Nail Salon

    Nail a La Mode

    With 547 manicurist shops listed in the Yellow Pages, Houston must serve as home to more nail salons per capita than any other American city. While we haven't statistically tested our hypothesis, we can't miss the glaring fact that a different nail shop sits on every other block. Why is the demand so high? Are Houston women more concerned about… More >>
  • Best Insider's Shortcut

    The 2000 and 3000 blocks of Brazos

    Ah, progress. Northbound motorists on the Southwest Freeway have that elevated TxDOT marvel to get them to the I-45 interchange. The only problem, as any regular driver on that route knows by now, is the stop-and-slow traffic on what has turned out to be a consistent bottleneck. Age adds wisdom in such matters, however. Two decades ago those who had… More >>
  • Best Time and Place to See Street Racers

    Westheimer

    From the Galleria past Beltway 8, as Saturday night gives way to Sunday, the strip-mall parking lots on Westheimer host impromptu car shows, with ball-capped guys checking out each other's mods. You hear words like "cams" and "noz." You feel the sub-bass rumble of Corvettes eager to exceed the speed limit. You see the racing stickers and parking lights that… More >>
  • Best Flack/ Public Information Officer

    Children's Protective Services of Harris County's Judy Hay

    Not only is University of Houston grad Judy Hay one of the best straight shooters in town in her dealings with the media, but she would surely be the last flack standing if Survivor had peopled its island with public relations types. Hay joined the agency in 1970 with a freshly minted sociology degree and became its spokeswoman in 1975.… More >>
  • Best Postcollegiate Fraternity Experience

    Bronx Bar

    From the street, music blares from the Bronx Bar like a warning. Thump-thump-thump, the numbing bass line declares. At the sidewalk gate, a broad-shouldered bouncer clad in a black T-shirt gives the coveted silent nod. Inside, members of the mostly young and Caucasian crowd navigate around, trying to shout to one another over the obnoxious thump-thump. It is packed. Another… More >>
  • Best White House Intern

    Kristen Jones

    In a world where the phrase "White House intern" elicits sniggers and blow-job jokes, we all can say we're relieved that Monica "I don't take dirty dresses to the dry cleaners" Lewinsky wasn't from Houston, but Kristen Jones is a White House intern we're proud of. The 20-year-old University of St. Thomas sophomore broke her neck and crushed her spinal… More >>
  • Best Freeway to Get Lost On

    Loop 610

    How can you get lost on a circular freeway? Easy. Other large cities have a natural barrier such as an ocean or mountain. In Chicago, you can go east only as far as Lake Michigan. The Atlantic gets in your way in Boston, Baltimore and Miami. Seattle has Puget Sound or Mount Rainier, and San Francisco has the bay. But… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    Warren's Inn

    A downtown fixture as venerable as Warren's would be incomplete without a fine jukebox to complement the (Houston Press) award-winning decor, martinis and staff. And there, placed innocuously inside the main room, sits the late-model Rowe Ami. It's not the flashiest box in town, but what sets it apart are the options within: one classic disc after another, perfectly fitted… More >>
  • Best Bike Path

    Brays Bayou along North and South Braeswood

    While Houston has light-years to go before becoming a truly bike-friendly city, it is finally beginning to get at least tolerant of the two-wheelers. Nothing shows the détente with motorists better than the pathway system along Brays Bayou in the southern sector of the city. Paved lanes swoop from street level down to the water's edge, ascend again and bisect… More >>
  • Best Whistle-Blower

    Charles Max Jennings

    Like a hand-hewn beam, Charles Max Jennings is both rough-cut and a commodity. He may come off as a crude old fart with an attitude ("You're goddamn right" is one of his favorite phrases), but Jennings is the worst nightmare of a corrupt bureaucracy. In his case, it's the City of Houston Water Production Department, the subject of a 1999… More >>
  • Best Place to Get a Traffic Ticket

    Revitalized section of downtown

    "Downtown...," sang Petula Clark, "...where all the lights are bright." And she's exactly right -- it's where all the flashing red lights are brightest. Perhaps the trade-off, the sense of security from crime, is worth it. But downtown cops seem dead set on writing up damn near every driver that ventures anywhere near the downtown district. On certain weekday mornings,… More >>
  • Best Hero

    Texas Ranger Sergeant Drew Carter

    Houston-based Drew Carter's combination of law enforcement sleuthing and social working with the family of serial killer Angel Maturino Resendiz resulted in the killer's bloodless surrender last summer. Carter, with less than one year's tenure with the Rangers, had become involved five months earlier, when the Rangers were called in to assist in the investigation of the bludgeoning murder of… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet Single Women

    Ceramics class, Foelber Pottery Gallery & Studio

    She was bored. She had nothing to do after work except eat dinner and watch TV, and the reception was so bad in her apartment that the rabbit ears were useless. She wanted to do something fun, something artsy and hands-on. And she wanted to meet other people. A Leisure Learning catalog appeared in her mailbox, so she signed up… More >>
  • Best Place to Smoke

    The State Bar and Lounge

    Walk up. Sit down. Light up. Savor. The State Bar, that one-flight-up reincarnation of the Old Capitol Club at the Rice Lofts, pays ample tribute to an earlier time when tobacco could be richly enjoyed, right along with well-mixed drinks and quiet conversation among trusted associates. Atop the grand stairway, it is quickly obvious that this is a place that… More >>
  • Best Republican

    State Representative John Culberson, winner of the GOP nomination in the Seventh Congressional District

    This state rep ran a smart but vastly underfunded campaign against River Oaks big bucks Peter Wareing. He also showed rare political moxie by taking on westside political activist Steven Hotze and refusing to kowtow to the good doctor to get his endorsement. After leading a crowded field into the runoff to succeed the retiring incumbent Bill Archer, Culberson came… More >>
  • Best Local Boy Made Good

    Tilman Fertitta

    Tilman Fertitta already had a sizable restaurant empire, including his highly successful Kemah Waterfront complex. Now he has snagged a prime pied-à-terre in the burgeoning downtown entertainment district as well. Fertitta recently won the competition to lease from the city the old Fire Station No. 1 and original municipal water plant along Buffalo Bayou, and will be building an aquarium-entertainment-eatery… More >>
  • Best Response to a Houston Press Story

    Karen Gerstner

    In a story this past February about the suicide of lottery winner Billie Bob Harrell, we described Karen Gerstner, an attorney, as seeming "more likely to offer someone a glass of milk and a plate of cookies rather than cutting-edge financial advice." A couple of weeks later, Gerstner had a package of cookies and a pint of milk, along with… More >>
  • Best Place to Smoke a Hookah

    Star Cafe

    Star Cafe is for real. It doesn't cater to denizens of the mainstream American culture looking to try something it deems "exotic." Nope, at Star Cafe, the clientele is composed of Arabic immigrants, mostly from Egypt. They gather at this drab location (next to Sun & Ski on the far side of a Westheimer strip mall) to sit beside concrete… More >>
  • Best Weathercaster

    Chuck George, KPRC-TV Channel 2

    During the long half-year that is the Houston summer, there's not much to the weather beyond hot and humid. Occasional rainfall will pass through; even less occasionally some severe weather will occur. But Houstonians still cling desperately to the romantic notion that maybe, just maybe, the weather will one day change, so we like to watch meteorologists in action. Anything… More >>
  • Best Use of Dental Floss

    Texas prisons

    We're not sure of the brand, but this past March, Texas prison inmate Antonio Lara allegedly sawed through several cell bars using dental floss. Unfortunately, say prison officials, he then fatally stabbed fellow prisoner Rolando Rios as guards were escorting him to the shower. The incident resulted in a statewide lockdown of Texas's 122,000 inmates.… More >>
  • Best Execution of a Business Plan

    Dickie Rosenfeld, KILT/610 AM

    The late Dickie Rosenfeld, who died in July, was a giant in Houston radio. He brought the Beatles to town in the 1960s and was the creator of the original Hudson and Harrigan show. He spent most of his 50 years in radio as general manager of KILT. But even the legendary Rosenfeld raised eyebrows a few years ago when… More >>
  • Best Bike Lanes

    West Alabama at South Shepherd

    At least Houston now has bike lanes. The intersection where Alabama meets Shepherd has long been a congested one for Houston motorists. And now one of the lanes in either direction on Alabama has been converted into a lane for bicycles. It may not improve the traffic flow for gas-guzzling vehicles, but perhaps that alone will encourage people to pedal… More >>
  • Best Roadway Improvement

    U.S. 59 from I-10 to just south of Humble

    Not that long ago, the Eastex Freeway was the obvious orphan of area transportation arteries, a forlorn, four-lane route to sheer frustration. Compared to its sister link, the Southwest Freeway on the other side of town, this section of U.S. 59 suffered from potholes, uneven pavement, antiquated access and awful scenery. The scenery hasn't changed much, but the infrequent travelers… More >>
  • Best Ditch

    East of the power lines between Gramercy and North Braeswood Boulevard

    The trickle of water emerges from a giant culvert and heads south in a straight line, carved years ago by machinery, bounded by a grass-covered levy to the east and power lines to the west. The water has a brownish hue, and at times a faint whiff of sewage speaks to origins other than rainwater. But the ditch that runs… More >>
  • Best Aquarium

    Sawadee Thai Restaurant

    Fish are usually the featured performers in any aquarium, but at Sawadee, they take a backseat. Sure, there are a few exotic species swimming in the jumbo 500-gallon tank that greets customers near the door. But the real attractions are the stunning varieties of coral: spectacular tentacled colonies waving in the artificial current that simulates waves breaking overhead; brilliant green… More >>
  • Best New Downtown Bar

    Slainte

    Slainte (pronounced "SLAWN-cha") is a Gaelic drinking toast, which translates roughly to "Cheers!" Stools are situated around a big black barrel of Jameson whiskey, a James Joyce quote is on the wall, and Lord of the Dance music fills the air. You can order a blarney burger, Irish lamb stew, corned beef and cabbage or chicken strips fried in Harp.… More >>
  • Best Driving Accessory

    Key Maps

    When it comes to getting around in a car, Houston is a sprawling, featureless, illogically laid out mess. Which means you should never attempt to get anywhere without a Key Map in the car. For 42 years the Rau family has been producing annually updated, easy-to-use maps of Harris County -- maps that make it a breeze to find your… More >>
  • Best Lobbyist

    New Houston Port Commission Chair Jim Edmonds

    If he wasn't the best-known municipal lobbyist before he was elevated to the prestigious chairmanship in June, he will be now. For years affable, low-key Jim Edmonds has run with the big boys, ranging from developer Walter Mischer to financial guru Tom Masterson to previous port chair Ned Holmes, pouring the best whiskey, hosting good-'ol-boy birding trips (they shoot 'em… More >>
  • Best Gadfly

    Dan Hart

    Dan Hart is the indefatigable property tax activist who bugs Harris County Tax Appraisal District officials with the persistence of a salt marsh mosquito. Hart, a retired Kinkaid School coach, has embraced the role of tax watchdog as a second career, and has even started up a nonprofit organization, Taxpayers for Equal Appraisal, with its own Web page (www.hcadtea.org) to… More >>
  • Best Source for Texas Political Info

    Quorum Report

    For a $175 annual subscription, this Austin-based political newsletter published by Bellaire High grad Harvey Kronberg churns up plenty of information. Features of the Quorum Report Web site (quorumreport.com) include bulletins in the form of the Daily Buzz plus an invaluable daily clip service of relevant Texas and national media stories. While the hard-copy version of the newsletter comes out… More >>

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