Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Bar Food

    Stag's Head Pub

    Bar hoppers and pub crawlers alike still reminisce about the talent the Ale House's kitchen had for sating the drunken munchies. We find the Stag's Head does more than come close to matching the old classic's mad skillz. It tops them. No need for a late-night Taco Cabana run when the Stag's Head makes stuffed jalapenos, fajita nachos, burgers and… More >>
  • Best DJ to Listen To While Eating Sushi

    Lushus Brown at Zake

    Friday nights at Zake are the place to be for raw fish consumption. That's when Elaina "Lushus" Brown, a staple in the local sushi nightlife scene -- yes, there is such a thing -- hits the restaurant's DJ booth to provide musical accompaniment to your evening of Japanese cuisine. We're not giving Brown a shout-out just because she's a gorgeous… More >>
  • Best Pool Hall

    Slick Willie's Family Pool Hall

    It's been said that the family that shoots stick together stays together. Of course, Ted Nugent said the same thing about hunting elk, but that's neither here nor there. We suggest visiting Slick Willie's "Family" Pool Hall during the waking hours, before the downtowners get too knackered and the place gets all smoky. The joint has tons of games, both… More >>
  • Best Graffiti Artist


    Every summer dozens of graff kids hit the streets, wielding cans with skills so lame their scribbles wouldn't look out of place knifed on a park bench. Someone even tagged the Art League Houston's Inversion house, messing up a highly original work. Whoever that hack is, he should take a lesson from YAR!, who's been plastering the Montrose with dope… More >>
  • Best Latin Club

    Coco Loco

    "Hip-hop" club Coco Loco's main audience has always been a progressive, young Latin crowd whose collective ear stays planted firmly to the street. From the beginning, the club has featured Latin nights mixed in with more urban fare, but in recent months, Coco Loco has begun to lean more toward the new sounds coming from across Latin America, mainly reggaeton,… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Tejano Bar

    Mela's Tejano Country

    True, there's not much competition in this tight niche -- in fact, there's so little, one might wonder how a watering hole like this could even survive. Yet owner Mela Contreras has kept her bar running in this little edge-of-Midtown nook for more than two decades. Tied into and proud of her community, Contreras was the female Pride Parade grand… More >>
  • Best Local Musician Who Left Town and Will Truly Be Missed

    Brian McManus

    Brian McManus -- also known as Brian McGuilloteen, the rowdy guitarist for the Fatal Flying Guilloteens, and as Filthy McNasty, the rambunctious, R&B-singing front man for Filthy McNasty and the Rhinestone Life (not to mention the Press's former Nightfly) -- has picked up and moved to Philadelphia. Anyone who's ever seen the paunchy, punchy, Gary Busey-looking fool perform knows how… More >>
  • Best Unsigned Act

    Tody Castillo

    He's got that Ron Sexsmith-Neil Finn-Jeff Buckley melancholy singer-songwriter thing going for him. He's got a great band, featuring hypercerebral drummer Paul "Falcon" Valdez and dreamlike pedal steel player Matt Rhodes. His CD was perched at or near the top of the sales chart at Cactus Music & Video all summer long. And while Castillo may not be tall, he… More >>
  • Best Artist Collective

    Otabenga Jones & Associates

    Named after a pygmy who was brought to the United States in the early 1900s and placed in a zoo, Otabenga Jones & Associates consists of Jabari Anderson, Jamal Cyrus, Kenya Evans, Robert Pruitt and, of course, the spirit of the eponymous martyr, who eventually committed suicide after being released from captivity. His associates offer us heavy reminders of the… More >>
  • Best Band to Get Together in the Last Year

    God's Temple of Family Deliverance

    Though the name conjures up a utopia where families are created, God's Temple of Family Deliverance is not a pro-life Christian rock band. In fact, it's quite the opposite, the antithesis of both rock and roll and fundamentalism. What's delivered by this brooding foursome is monolithic, 15-minute-plus songs of sheer cacophony. The temple for which they're named is built with… More >>
  • Best DJ to Skip Town and Make a Career

    DJ Jester the Filipino Fist

    Sure, there are plenty of DJs who are well known in and around the city, but it seems few branch out and explore the world, let alone the state. Not so for West Columbia, Texas, native DJ Jester the Filipino Fist, a.k.a. Mikey Pendon, who left his tiny hometown to travel the globe in 2003, when fellow Filipino Kid Koala… More >>
  • Best Hotel Bar

    The Whiskey at Hotel Icon

    The Whiskey is in a league of its own. Whether you decide on a Shiner or one of their $12-and-worth-it specialty martinis, you can't help but feel cool in the dimly lit atmosphere, amid the muted reds and golds. You can drink at the bar, settle into one of the cozy chairs overlooking the lobby, or hit the seductive Whiskey… More >>
  • Best Microcinema

    Aurora Picture Show

    Aurora is known around the country for its consistently challenging, cutting-edge shorts and feature films. The little theater, housed in a former church, shows animated and illustrated films as well as computer, video and other experimental works. Audiences often spill out from the pews onto the floor. Our favorite offerings this year: Iraq, Inc. and Shocking and Awful, two daring… More >>
  • Best Curator

    Mari Carmen Ramirez

    A recent article about Mari Carmen Ramirez is titled "The Evangelist for Modern Art." It's an accurate assessment -- she's caused a lot of people to see the light. Ramirez is the first director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's International Center for the Arts of the Americas. Opened in 2001, the ICAA was established as both a curatorial… More >>
  • Best Place to See Vintage Flicks

    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

    The well-culled celluloid offerings this year have included the gritty realism of Soviet filmmakers Stanislav Rostotsky and Yuri Ozerov, Japanese masters Kenji Mizoguchi and Akira Kurosawa, a 75th anniversary of The Maltese Falcon -- and yes, French New Wavers Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Bresson, Robert Aldric and Jacques Tati. If you didn't catch the screening of Tati's Playtime, you missed out.… More >>
  • Best New Bar

    Chaise Lounge

    This funky new watering hole in the Heights is the perfect hangout for hipsters, artists, slackers and the newly relocated yuppies who populate all the new town-home developments in the area. Located in the building that used to house Silky's, which was one of the grungier blues joints outside the Third and Fifth wards, Chaise Lounge represents the growth and… More >>
  • Best Dive

    Alice's Tall Texan

    Quite simply, nobody does it better than Alice and her crew at the Tall Texan. Located on the northern edge of the Heights in a residential area that's anything but hip, this little out-of-the-way watering hole attracts all kinds. From elderly barflies to middle-aged professionals to young movers and shakers, the clientele here generally comes for one thing: the beer.… More >>
  • Best Bar Atmosphere

    The Social Lounge and Patio

    Since the 1940s, "fill'r up" has been a popular phrase at Washington and Yale. Nowadays, we aren't talking petrol. Housed in what once was a gas station, this classy, uber-chic bar has a rich sense of nostalgia. The bar still has original tile work from the gas-station era, and its richly colored, comfortable leather and vinyl furnishings are striking. The… More >>
  • Best Bar Games

    The Tavern on Gray - CLOSED

    At the Tavern, the shots keep coming. They happen when the Rockets are on TV, and when patrons down buttery nipples, but that's just the icebreaker. The main attraction here is the bar games. Tavern denizens can shoot pool at a dozen tables inside this spacious sports bar. On the patio, they can take a shot at foosball or air… More >>
  • Best Local CD Cover

    I Hate It Here, I Never Want To Leave, Mustache Records

    From the title's love-hate relationship with our fair city to the songs themselves, this CD compilation of abrasive Houston rock bands captures the mood of a town just a-fixin' to explode. The skyline photo on the cover is particularly evocative: the twisted images reflected from what looks to be the curvature of the Enron Building mirrors both the beauty and… More >>
  • Best Artist

    Jason Villegas

    Jason Villegas is the Iron Chef of local artists. Put that man in a room with some random materials, and you can bet he'll walk out with something interesting in his hand. For his "Beast Taxidermy" show at Commerce Street Artists Warehouse, he used cardboard, felt and tape to create a surreal menagerie of animals, including a giant humpback whale… More >>
  • Best Band

    Los Skarnales

    For a band to be the best in any given city, they should sound like that same city. Los Skarnales -- that fearsome agglomeration of ska, norteno, rockabilly, punk, surf and even zydeco -- sounds like Houston. Or at least the funky parts of town -- places like Magnolia Park, where beer-fragrant icehouses stand next to Mexican Pentecostal churches, and… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Guava Lamp

    We were big fans of Guava Lamp in its old location, tucked away over there at Shepherd and Richmond, but we like its digs on Waugh even better. The new circular bar, covered in copper-colored tiles, just makes it a lot easier to check out who's checking us out. The clientele seems to have remained pretty much the same, and… More >>
  • Best Icehouse

    West Alabama Ice House

    No effing contest. Once again, West Alabama Ice House gets the prize. The beer, the bikers, the bands -- this place has it all. Where else can you dine on dogs, pitch shoes and take it to the hole, all in one place? In your own backyard, you say? Well, that's the point. This place has always been more of… More >>
  • Best Montrose Bar


    Sure, Poison Girl may have come along and seduced away some of this venerable bar's clientele and staff, but Rudyard's has kept on keeping on. Mike Simms has continued longtime booker Scott Walcott's great tradition of quality music; the new outdoor seating area is the tops; and the beer, burgers and fish and chips are as tasty as ever. All… More >>
  • Best Reminder that Houston Is Still in Texas

    Goode's Armadillo Palace

    With the Inner Loop getting all cosmopolitan and whatnot, it's often all too easy to forget that you're in Texas. Thank our lucky stars for the Armadillo Palace, Jim Goode's latest paean to all things Lone Star State. There's museum-quality lore on the walls, twangy sounds on the stage, lots of little Texas touches (pistol-grip door handles, saddles on the… More >>
  • Best Place to Be Glad You're Alive

    Next Door Coffeehouse's garden labyrinth

    The cell-phone tower a pistol shot away is probably frying your brain. Horns are honking. But once you're inside Next Door Coffeehouse's garden labyrinth, that world starts to disappear. This secret spot features short, teenage shrubs clipped into a sort of labyrinth, a meditative path. Somehow, it encourages you to pay closer attention to your steps, and to what's happening… More >>
  • Best Radio Station

    KCOH/1430 AM

    This is the last place on the commercial dial where the DJs still pick a lot of what they want to play. This is the last place on the commercial dial where virtually all of the DJs are natives of Houston and care about the city for its own sake -- Houston ain't some stint on a resume to these… More >>
  • Best Art Show

    "Thought Crimes: The Art of Subversion"

    "Thought Crimes: The Art of Subversion" was a like a tent revival, a great awakening for subversive art in an America becoming increasingly more repressive. Curated by DiverseWorks visual arts director Diane Barber, the exhibition was rife with provocative art that dealt with everything from politics and social issues to pure, joyful brattiness. Preemptive Media asked us to subvert the… More >>
  • Best Band Stage Show

    Chango Jackson

    They always bring the rocenrol, but you never what they'll be wearing when they do. Over the years, Chango Jackson has taken the stage in everything from dresses to gorilla suits to ruffled tuxes to cowboy duds to chemical suits and gas masks. They break stuff, throw tamales into the crowd, jump around, fall down...In one memorable rock and roll… More >>
  • Best Cigar Bar

    Downing Street Ltd.

    Is that Rush Limbaugh in the corner? Probably not, but we figure if the neocon blowhard ever finds himself in Space City, it's a spot he'd frequent (well, it and Coco Loco, of course). Huge and luxurious mahogany tables with raised ashtrays dot the room around a statue of famed Brit Winston Churchill. Talk of all things England (10 Downing… More >>
  • Best Club for Out-of-Town Acts

    The Meridian - CLOSED

    Though the Meridian has yet to hit its second birthday, it's become the tour-de-force venue for national and international touring acts. Everyone from punk laureate Patti Smith and industrial pioneers Ministry to sought-after DJs like RJD2 and Paul Oakenfold has graced the same gargantuan stage in the lofty Blue Room that can hold around a thousand live-music connoisseurs. When first… More >>
  • Best Dance Club Night

    Boys and Girls Club

    Forget the weekend. Houston's best dance night happens right smack-dab in the middle of the miserable workweek. Close to 400 kids in haute couture fill out 1415 Bar & Grille every hump day to sweat and stomp their feet to an eclectic mix spun by the Boys and Girls Club bunch: DJs Bobby, Damon and Fred. Expect to hear old-school… More >>
  • Best DJ

    DJ Chill

    He's the self-proclaimed No. 1 street DJ in the city, and no one will argue that fact. His club nights top out at over 1,000 people every Friday (Coco Loco), Saturday (Candy Shop at Max's) and Sunday (Club Konnections), partly because he's one of the few hip-hop DJs in town who really, deeply support the local scene. A force in… More >>
  • Best Art Gallery

    Rice Gallery

    Located on the campus of Rice University, Rice Gallery is off the beaten track of many gallerygoers. It shouldn't be. Under the directorship of Kim Davenport, Rice Gallery is "all installation art all the time," and it consistently brings in phenomenal shows from heavy hitters as well as newly emerging artists. Eve Sussman's high-definition video 89 Seconds at Alcazar used… More >>
  • Best Jazz Club

    Red Cat Jazz Cafe

    Houston is no Harlem, New Orleans or Chicago, but we still have a robust jazz following, especially in the urban smooth jazz markets. You can find these suave sound followers downtown at the Red Cat Jazz Cafe, where jazz happens not just on weekends, but every day of the week. Even those who need to score a fix of traditional… More >>
  • Best AM Radio Personality

    Wash Allen

    Sandra (not her real name) just kicked her two-timing renegade Romeo to the curb and is on the prowl for a "real" man who can satisfy her materially, emotionally and -- yes, she was getting to that -- physically. But this working woman can't get anything spicy cooking. So let's open up the lines, Wash. We have a few interested… More >>
  • Best Band Name

    Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys

    Sure, weed jokes are old. Most of them stopped being funny not long after Cheech and Chong busted out of the hippie underground. But this one works, because it tells you a lot about the band you're gonna hear. That "Valley Boys" bit is the key -- it tells you you're in for some serious old-school country. And the Reefer… More >>
  • Best Band to Leave Houston in the Last Year

    Indian Jewelry/NTX & Electric

    Nikki Texas, a.k.a. NTX, a.k.a. Tex Kerschen, was important to Houston's independent music scene. But he's gone and left us for the (less intense) sun and surf of Los Angeles, a move that makes perfect sense for him. After the demise of his early combo, the synth-fueled rock band Japanic, the former front man made waves in the art and… More >>
  • Best Bar

    Warren's Inn

    While flashier and hipper bars have come and gone in downtown Houston, rock-steady Warren's Inn remains a bar for people who go to bars to drink, not to mingle or self-advertise. The decor is dark and wooden, with a mishmash of tables and a single turret-style elevated booth (the best place to sit). The joint's packed on weekend nights, the… More >>
  • Best CD by Local Musicians

    Michael Haaga, The Plus and Minus Show

    No writer has yet encapsulated what this CD sounds like. Sure, it's easy to broadly label it a "surreal pop-rock masterpiece," but that doesn't do it justice, nor do the comparisons to acts like the Shins, the Flaming Lips and Todd Rundgren. The album stands up to all that praise, but it's that rare beast that sounds like everything else… More >>
  • Best Circus

    Cirque du Soleil's Varekai

    As with all of Cirque du Soleil's fabulous shows, the gorgeous Varekai combined dizzying acts of death-defying acrobatics and soulful music with a loosely constructed story about a lonely wanderer. Without any forlorn circus animals, the Canadian group manages to make us all feel like kids again. And the fantastically imagined world of Varekai, as directed by Dominic Champagne, became… More >>
  • Best Concert Venue

    Verizon Wireless Theater

    Go ahead, holier-than-thou hipsters, scoff at the choice of a corporate, commercial venue that you may view as an unholy alliance between a cell phone company and Clear Channel (um, that is, the now retro-christened Pace Concerts). But there's nowhere better in town to see a mid-level to major show, be it Basia, Nine Inch Nails or the Black Crowes… More >>
  • Best Designer

    Kirk Markley for Orange Flower Water

    Kirk Markley's set for Craig Wright's Orange Flower Water was not beautiful -- it was devastating. The script told the tale of badly behaving married folks, most notable for their ordinariness. And Markley's set, with its looming backdrop of to-the-rafters metro shelving, captured the terrible banality of their suburban world. Stacked along the metal shelves were toilet paper, a pair… More >>
  • Best Downtown Bar

    La Carafe

    Housed in Houston's oldest commercial building (it used to be a freaking Pony Express station), La Carafe is a barroom-lover's bar. We're not talking a Bud Light-clock, gigantic-TV, supermodel-poster barroom, but a grown-up, no-bullshit place to sit down with a close group of friends and do some serious drinking. The candles that appear to give the bar its only light… More >>
  • Best Recording Facility/Dance Club

    Clark's Recording Studio

    The music that gets played in clubs has to have been recorded somewhere. This high-energy downtown watering hole and dance spot simply chops out the middleman. Boasting a 32-track recording console, a state-of-the-art speaker system and a narrow but friendly dance floor, Clark's is unlike any other club, downtown or anywhere else, and it keeps the hip, well-dressed crowd coming… More >>
  • Best Ensemble Production

    The Exonerated

    Shadowy, dark and brutally haunting, the Alley Theatre's mesmerizing production of The Exonerated was everything live theater should be. Deeply political and heartbreakingly moving, the stories told in Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen's script -- about a group of wrongly accused death-row inmates -- were mesmerizing. But without the fine Alley cast directed by Rob Bundy with gorgeous and lyrical… More >>
  • Best Rapper

    Devin the Dude

    Who is Mike Jones? Who cares? Devin the Dude's the rapper who matters most round these parts, a vintage-Cadillac-drivin', blunt-smokin', Bud-drinkin', bitch-runnin' fool who also happens to be a hilarious, stone-cold genius. Devin's the rare rapper who never boasts in his rhymes -- instead, he just lays out his life and those of the alter egos he inhabits, which run… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    The G.R.A.B.

    When you walk in this joint, the last thing you expect is a killer jukebox. If you come in early, there's a few old codgers watching Jurassic Park or Seinfeld, and the hip-o-meter registers zilch. You expect to find the juke stocked with plenty of Journey, Stevie Ray and Steve Miller, with a little Buffett thrown in for that --… More >>
  • Best Local Music Radio Show

    Damage Control

    Every music scene should have a show like this weekly local hip-hop feast. Really, the rockers here need the equivalent: a show co-hosted by two guys -- club spinner DJ Chill and radio DJ/journalist/lore repository Matt Sonzala -- who know everybody and everything about the scene (note: Sonzala is an occasional Press contributor and the editor of this Best of… More >>
  • Best Midtown Club

    The Continental Club

    The Houston offshoot of the fabled Austin Continental Club joins the ranks of The Godfather II and Superman II -- all are that rare breed, sequels that live up to the originals. Patrons hear local and national blues, country, soul and rockabilly acts at the funky bar, which offers old-school video games, kitschy neon signs and posters and, of course,… More >>
  • Best Modern Dance Company

    Suchu Dance

    Jennifer Wood, the choreographic engine behind Suchu Dance, has been toiling away crafting dance after dance for the past 11 years. It's been said that Wood doesn't make dances -- instead, she creates worlds where dance happens. She has directed ten full-length works and seems remarkably comfortable in the form. Her vivid imagination, combined with a natural sense of theatricality,… More >>
  • Best Museum

    National Museum of Funeral History

    Okay, so Houston has some kick-ass museums. We've got the Menil, Contemporary Arts, Natural History, you name it. We're not hurting for good -- even great -- traditional museums. But only Houston has the NMFH, where the motto is "Any day above ground is a good one." From "fantasy coffins" to old-timey hearses, this homage to the dead-body business is… More >>
  • Best Museum District Bar

    Ernie's on Banks

    We define Museum District as being that area between Almeda to the east, West Alabama to the north, Rice Boulevard to the south, and Shepherd to the west, so if you think about it, there's a fair bit of competition for this sporty yet intelligent nightspot. Here's why we like it best: It's less of a meat market than the… More >>
  • Best Musical

    Promises, Promises

    Burt Bacharach will forever be associated with the '60s. Tunes like "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," made famous by the velvet-voiced Dionne Warwick, defined urbane cool. They also do quite well in today's world of musical comedy, as Main Street Theater's production of Bacharach's Promises, Promises made clear. Spun by director Rob Babbitt into a lively froth, the musical,… More >>
  • Best Rice Village Bar

    The Ginger Man

    The undisputed college bar's college bar, The Ginger Man boasts a massive menu of magnificent microbrews. The CD jukebox has an eclectic selection, ranging from high-octane classic rock to London Calling. And as might be expected, conversation overheard here is as intellectually stimulating as it is slurred, but who would want it any other way?… More >>
  • Best River Oaks Bar


    What's wrong with classy every once in a while? This place provides a high-toned alternative to all those sports bars and trendy hipster hangouts that are so common. Elegant art on the walls, a knowledgeable bartending staff and a world-class selection of booze make Mugsy's an option for your inner social climber. So throw on your best duds, grab your… More >>
  • Best Original Show

    Tamalalia 10: The Greatest Hits Show

    Tamarie Cooper has become an institution in H-town. Every summer for the past ten years, she's treated the city to a brand-new musical episode of her ever-evolving, bust-a-gut-funny Tamalalia series, put on with the folks at Infernal Bridegroom Productions. And hip Houstonians have come to love her for it. Sadly, this year all the fun came to an end, when… More >>
  • Best Patio

    Poison Girl

    Poison Girl's got a strangely schizo feel to it. Inside, the narrow bar and hipster/rocker clientele reminds you of a dive in Brooklyn's Williamsburg or San Francisco's Mission District. Outside, though, the whole vibe shifts Texas-ward. There are picnic tables loaded with glasses of Bock beer, pebbly dirt on the ground, lots of lush subtropical foliage...and the rear of Poison… More >>
  • Best Performance Space

    The Axiom

    Infernal Bridegroom Productions' home at the Axiom nightclub is the perfect atmosphere -- it's comfortable enough for those tentatively making a first foray into "edgy" theater, but it has a ramshackle warehouse vibe that won't make the black-clad scenesters feel out of place. The large theater in the back is big enough for the most outrageous Tamalalia production number, while… More >>
  • Best Political Art Exhibit

    Thought Crimes: The Art of Subversion

    This spring DiverseWorks looked less like a conventional art gallery and more like an illicit guerrilla bunker. It housed work from some of the most creative minds in culture jamming, the hit-and-run art of media intervention. The image of a baby strapped with TNT, below the words "Hamas Baby Bomb," appeared on a faux postage stamp, which artist Michael Hernandez… More >>
  • Best Spanish Radio Station

    Mega 101, KLOL/101.1 FM

    There was a general wailing, flailing and gnashing of teeth when Clear Channel radio pulled the plug on local rock institution KLOL. Here was the general complaint: How dare they pull the plug on my Walton and Johnson, AC/DC-Audioslave-Stevie Ray playlists and Mandatory Metallica and replace it with all that Tejano racket! We're gonna get up a petition and get… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar

    The Wet Spot

    This bar's residential neighbors don't seem too keen on its existence, but the people inside are too distracted by the 20-odd flat-screen TVs to give a damn. Here you can watch just about any sporting event imaginable, save for pro hockey (thanks, organized labor), and chow down on some of the best bar grub in town. Top it off with… More >>
  • Best Theater Season

    The Alley Theatre

    Any theater that can produce the cornball lovefest Steel Magnolias in the upstairs auditorium while running David Mamet's darkly profane Glengarry Glen Ross downstairs in the basement deserves a huge round of applause. But that bit of artistic (and marketing) genius was just what came at the end of the Alley Theatre's fabulous year. The rest of the season included… More >>
  • Best Traveling Show

    Culture Clash in AmeriCCa

    Founded by Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza in 1984, Culture Clash made a name for themselves as performing sociologists. In the Alley Theatre's Culture Clash in AmeriCCa, which came roaring into town last fall, the group brought to life everyone from an angry white Vietnam vet to a deliriously happy transgendered Latina to a modest Muslim taxi driver… More >>
  • Best Actor

    Josh Morrison in Orange Flower Water

    Playing the cuckold has never been easy. Just ask Josh Morrison, who played one such loser in Stages Repertory Theatre's production of Craig Wright's Orange Flower Water this past spring. Hard as it may be, Morrison was somehow able to make the ordinary meathead named Brad into the most memorable male character on any stage this past season. Morrison's Brad… More >>
  • Best Actress

    Annalee Jefferies in Bad Dates

    The charming Annalee Jefferies can breathe life into the most ordinary tale. She made that clear last season when she played Haley in Theresa Rebeck's silly play Bad Dates at the Alley Theatre. It was Jefferies alone, under Jeremy B. Cohen's direction, who kept Rebeck's one-woman show from sinking under the weight of its own cuteness. The play focused on… More >>
  • Best After-Hours Hangout


    We didn't know what to make of this place when it popped up last year right down the street from Cecil's. With that graveyard mural on the front and a name like Resurrection, it had to be a goth club, right? Not quite. The title refers to the revival of the after-hours scene, and those tombstones bear the names of… More >>
  • Best Ballet Company

    Houston Ballet

    Sure, it's a no-brainer. But you have to hand it to Stanton Welch for putting this company back on a streamlined track that just keeps moving upward and onward. Tutus off to Welch for Women@Art (the first ever evening of all-women choreographers), for bringing back the Cullen Contemporary Series and for Maina Gielgud's glorious production of Giselle. Welch has made… More >>
  • Best Ballet Dancer

    Mireille Hassenboehler

    It's no wonder Houston Ballet principal Mireille Hassenboehler graced the cover of the February issue of Pointe Magazine -- she's got star power. Hassenboehler triumphed as the weak-hearted village girl in Maina Gielgud's magnificent production of Giselle, handling the famous "mad scene" with a light but convincing touch. There's a fine line in romantic ballet between high drama and melodrama.… More >>
  • Best Blues Club

    The Big Easy

    At first glance, the Big Easy's vicelike grip on the category seems too easily clinched. For a city like Houston, with a sizable amount of blues history, there's a surprising paucity of clubs devoted to the genre. The Dead Club Scythe has killed off the little joints (Miss Ann's Playpen, Silky's) and more upscale venues (Billy Blues, Cactus Moon) with… More >>
  • Best Coffeehouse


    Thanks to prefab Starbucks stores on every block, independent coffeehouses are on the decline. Located in a beautiful two-story house in the heart of Montrose, Agora defies all corporate definitions of an exceptional coffeehouse. Six different brews, including organic and exotic roasts and a great Texas pecan, make up the daily selection. Also available: perfectly pulled shots of espresso, foamy… More >>
  • Best Contemporary Jazz Dance Company

    Houston Metropolitan Dance Company

    The Houston Met is constantly expanding its repertoire toward ever edgier contemporary jazz dance, and innovative dances full of kinetic thrills. You can count on a Met concert being both engaging and wildly entertaining. Director Michelle Smith has been savvy in selecting choreographers; the rep includes works by Robert Battle, Kevin Wynn, Fred Benjamin and Eddie Ocampo. The dancers, mostly… More >>
  • Best Director

    Charlie Scott for Medea

    Under the guidance of Euripides, one of the oldest playwrights in Western civilization, Charlie Scott, with Infernal Bridegroom Productions, became a directorial force to be reckoned with last season. His mercurial imagination and thrilling intellect shimmered in every aspect of his astonishing adaptation of Euripides's Medea. Scott, who has been an IBP company member since the troupe's inception, has spent… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    Six Degrees Lounge

    Happy hour is a salvation after sitting in a cubicle staring blankly at a computer screen all week. Six Degrees has the medicine to cure your work-weary woes. The lounge hosts the longest happy hour downtown, running from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, which may not spare you a hangover, but will spare your wallet. Get $2… More >>
  • Best Installation


    Montrose has always been a good place to rubberneck, what with the punks, the goths, the trannies and the street kids (most of which are punks, goths or trannies). But the Art League Houston upped the brake-slamming quotient big-time with Inversion, Dan Havel and Dean Ruck's magically surrealist installation in the organization's former digs. Havel and Ruck stripped the building's… More >>
  • Best Modern Dancer

    Yolanda Gibbs

    When Yolanda Gibbs takes the stage, watch out. She dances like she owns the place, gobbling up space with her downright generous style. Gibbs possesses a rare quality in a dancer, in which her technique serves her artistry. Her pure, natural grace is evident in everything she does. With long limbs and an uber-flexible body, Gibbs elongates movements to the… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater

    Alamo Drafthouse - CLOSED

    If you're going to be bombarded by yet another Hollywood blockbuster with computer-generated effects and a lame plot, there's no better way to do it than with a couple of beers and a burger at Alamo Drafthouse. The setup is comfortable, the service is fast and friendly, and the burgers and sandwiches are sure bets. There's also an impressive wine… More >>
  • Best Eastside Bar


    Neighborhood joints don't get very much more down-to-earth than this spacious, unpretentious quasi-shitkicker sports bar located on a lonely stretch of two-lane road in Highlands near Baytown. The staff is friendly, the TV screens are viewable from anywhere in the place, and the jukebox is great. The place is such a rarity in the area that the clientele all behave… More >>
  • Best Heights Bar

    Cadillac Bar

    There's no equivalent to this place in heaven or on earth. Graffiti on every wall, chairs attached to the ceiling, zero regard for personal space. If the Cadillac Bar didn't exist already, somebody'd have to invent it. They've got liveried waiters in the dining area, taciturn bartenders in the tightly packed "lounge" and hordes of regulars ready to induct you… More >>
  • Best New Effort to Inject Culture into Houston

    Deep Listening Institute,

    Dave Dove has a mission: to bring avant-garde and improvised music to our hallowed city. In a region where "jazz" is almost universally considered either slick background music for a steak dinner or outdated New Orleans brass party jams, Dove's recently rechristened DLI (formerly the Pauline Oliveros Foundation) has done a great job bringing important current international sound pioneers like… More >>
  • Best Phoenix

    Cecil's Tavern

    Cecil's used to be one of the stickiest places around, and we loved it for that. And then that baby burned to the ground. Three months later it rose from the ashes with a new look, one we were quick to dismiss as being a little too clean (see "We Want the Funk," April 22, 2004). But all it took… More >>
  • Best Place to Relive the '60s

    Last Concert Cafe

    Every day at this place might as well be smack-dab in the middle of the summer of '69. Jam bands such as the Hightailers rule the roost, noodling the night away while tie-dyed revelers kick it at wooden tables and flop around in front of the stage with their eyes closed. Baby boomers and college kids are the two groups… More >>
  • Best Place to Watch Dance

    Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex

    Barnevelder may be named after a chicken, but there's nothing chicken about managing director Louie Saletan's brave leadership of this blossoming dance venue. In 2003, when Saletan declared his goals for the multi-purpose spot, with its sloping floor and the lack of heat and a/c, it was easy think this guy had a bad case of arts optimism. Well, here… More >>
  • Best Production

    Medea by Infernal Bridegroom Productions

    This year the folks at Infernal Bridegroom Productions conjured the ancient Greeks to help them create the most extravagantly intelligent and wonderfully original production of the season. Euripides's Medea, about a woman who kills her children to get back at her unfaithful husband, is one of Western civilization's oldest and most deadly love stories. But the ancient tragedy was rendered… More >>
  • Best Club for Local Acts

    Java Jazz Coffee House

    On almost any given weekend, close to 20 Houston-area start-up punk, emo, ska and/or all-of-the-above bands show up to play no-age-restriction shows in a nonalcoholic environment. Sure, the place used to be somebody's house, but heck, that's appropriate -- many of these combos are taking their first baby steps out of the garage (notwithstanding the occasional bewildered national touring act… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    The Proletariat

    No, all karaoke nights are not created equal; some are populated by Houston's most shameless hipsters. Grooving on the irony of doing something as magnificently unhip as performing off-key renditions of hackneyed hits, members of the cooler-than-you set make just as big fools of themselves as we mere mortals when they get up to sing. Whether you're here to try… More >>
  • Best Radio Host

    Charlie Pallilo

    When it comes to sports knowledge, everyone in the city is sprinting for second place behind Charlie Pallilo. Much like his fellow sports junkies Marv Albert and Bob Costas, Pallilo is a graduate of Syracuse. It was the reading of Albert's book (the aptly titled Yesss!) at age 12 that convinced the young and future Orangeman to make a living… More >>
  • Best Strip Club

    Gigi's Cabaret

    There are just certain things you expect from a gentlemen's club. Outrageous drink prices -- check. Women interested in your money and your money alone -- check. No sex in the champagne room -- check. All these things apply at Gigi's Cabaret, to be sure, but the drinks are a tad cheaper, the girls talk to you even when you're… More >>
  • Best New Club


    It's Friday night and you're looking absolutely fabulous, but your designer heels are giving you grief. Make Joia your destination -- comfort is the top priority here, with good looks coming in at a close second. The club has plenty of places to kick back. Miami-style bungalows with couches and beds with throw pillows dot the large, candle-lit deck. Inside… More >>
  • Best Radio Talk Show

    The Other Side

    Houston talk radio tends to be nutty. On the commercial dial, you've got every shade of right-wing hot air, from Rush Limbaugh's parroting of the Republican party line all the way to Michael Savage's lunatic fringe rantings. (In between, you've got a bunch of locals like Chris Baker, Edd Hendee and Dan Patrick all more or less agreeing with one… More >>