Best Car Wash

1. Wash Tub
       Multiple locations,
2. The Cove
       606 W. Cypress, 227-2683,
3. Waterworks

When it comes to keeping cars clean, the majority of Current readers turn to homegrown chain the Wash Tub. Boasting a number of locations throughout Say-Town, the Wash Tub offers its car-cleaning services to people from DeZavala to Austin Highway. Eclectic taco & beer/live music emporium the Cove made the list, too. Although it did not crack the top three this year, “My driveway,” garnered a grand total of four votes.

Best Mall

1. North Star Mall
       7400 San Pedro, 342-2325,  
2. The Shops at La Cantera
       15900 La Cantera Parkway,
3. Ingram Park Mall
       6601 NW Loop 410, 684-9570

San Antonians like the way Chicago-based General Growth Properties operates its malls: that old-society gem North Star and the flashy new La Cantera, Best of SA 2007’s top vote-getters. North Star’s post-Cantera facelift is still underway, but the locals love it best nonetheless, perhaps because it’s Say-Town enough to produce its own Fiesta medal.

Best H-E-B

1. Central Market
       4821 Broadway, 368-8600
2. No. 395
       12777 IH-10 W, 558-3981
3. No. 397
       18140 San Pedro, 490-4931

Dear Readers: Voting for Central Market as the best H-E-B is like voting for Groucho as the best Marx Brother. Our fault for not specifying, though, and the deli is divine, with its tubs of salted capers and slabs of cured Italian meats. But the charm of the plain-old H-E-Bs is that no two are alike these days. Olmos-B is a little Gigante, the Deco-B features a great vegetable and juice section, and head on out to the second-place winner above for the best healthy-snacks section in town.

Best Vintage Furninture

1. Furniture for a Cause
       5245 Blanco, 340-1678,
2. Too Good to be Threw
       Multiple locations
3. (Tie) Goodwill
       Multiple locations,
    Salvation Army
       Multiple locations,

Furniture for a Cause stocks a wide variety of furniture and accessories sold at bargain prices. If you’re looking for some interesting vintage pieces, check back often, as the selection changes daily. All proceeds generated through donation and purchase benefit the city’s homeless through the programs and services offered by SAMMinistries.

Best Thrift Store

1. Goodwill
       Multiple locations,
2. Salvation Army
       Multiple locations,
3. Texas Thrift
       Multiple locations

Ah, the thrill of the hunt. Our grandparents, while they were alive, derived sublime pleasure from picking through garage-sale boxes on the weekends. There’s a similar kind of solace in perusing the racks of a thrift store or resale shop, coffee in hand, on a Saturday morning — especially when in need of an angry/sad spending spree. The stuff you’ll hate tomorrow only costs you five bucks.

Wolverine All-Stars
Best Lucha-Libre Venue

1. Wolverine All-Stars
2000 S. Presa, 543-0201,

One of the glories of Southtown is that a family-friendly establishment will suddenly and inexplicably transform itself into a lucha-libre venue for a night, in much the same way your neighbor dons a red mask and some tights and transforms himself into a luchador for a couple of hours a week. Wolverine All-Stars is a cheerleading facility that moonlights as a lucha-libre venue, and it was part of a crowded voting field that included one vote for “My backyard.” 

Best Gun Shop

1. Nagel’s Gun Shop
       6202 San Pedro Ave., 342-5402,
2. Dury’s Gun Shop
       819 Hot Wells Blvd., 533-5431,
3. Powderhorn
       2412 SW Loop 410, 674-5220

Providing excellent customer service has been this gun shop’s forte for the past 65 years. Whether you are a first-time buyer or an avid gun aficionado, Nagel’s offers a wide array of all types of guns and will guide you in picking out the best for you. It’s also known to be the largest and oldest shooting sporting establishment in South Texas. 

Best Mechanic

1. Northwest Automotive
    Services Inc.
       8880 Oakland, 696-4721
2. Steve Gehrlein
       9823 Fredericksburg, 697-9600,
3. As the Wheel Turns
      735 S. Flores, 225-2898

Not to be confused with the Northwest Automotive on Culebra (the truck-accessories shop), this Northwest Automotive in the Medical Center does engines. And water pumps. And whatever’s causing that stain in the driveway. The Colunga family has run this full-service shop for 31 years, and welcomes the die-hard classic-car owner (a ’55 Buick Roadmaster was in the shop the day we called) but mostly work on the newer, more-complicated models.

Best Bookstore

1. Barnes & Noble
       Multiple locations,
2. Half Price Books
       Multiple locations,
3. Borders
       Multiple locations,

The term “bookstore” is a bit of a lie, because everyone knows the bookstores of today must have music, video, and gift sections that are up to snuff. Not to mention, oftentimes, coffee shops. Ergo the monstrous B&N and Borders chains. But clearly our readers also value the merits of used media, both enviromentally friendly and cost-effective, signalled by second-place honors for homegrown chain Half Price, which has always been a multimedia
bargain basement.

Best Bowling Alley

1. Bandera Bowl
       6700 Huebner, 523-1716
2. Oak Hills Lanes
       7330 Callaghan, 344-6251,
3. University Bowl
       12332 IH-10 W, 699-6235,

Bandera Bowl Funplex has long been one of the city’s bowling destinations — birthday packages are offered, several private rooms are available, and there’s an area with pool and video games. Edged out of first place, Oak Hills Lanes has Dollar Sundays, and family value packages including lanes, shoes, soda, and pizza. Cosmic bowling rocks the lanes on weekends.

Best Shoes

1. DSW
      Multiple locations,
2. SAS Shoemakers
       Multiple locations,
3. Payless ShoeSource
       Multiple locations,

The top three picks reflect the shoe-buyers’ life cycle: their first cork-and-plastic wedges come from Payless, they buy their professional Liz Claiborne leathers at DSW, and their golden years are spent in comfortable-sole walkers from SAS. The 2000 Census says 61 percent of the city is between 18- and 65-years-old. No wonder DSW is our number one shoe outlet.

Best Pool Hall

1. Fast Eddie’s
      2335 NW Military Highway,
2. Clicks Billiards
      5545 NW Loop 410, #160, 647-7227
3. Tiffany’s Billiards & Sports Bar
       7011 San Pedro, 344-4646

World-class billiards hustlers might disagree, but for the rest of us, pool tables are pool tables. Ultimately, what separates one pool hall from another is not the quality of its facilities, but the relaxed, unpretentious vibe of the place. Along those lines, Fast Eddie’s, Clicks, and Tiffany’s are three of SA’s perennial favorite spots to visit for a pitcher of beer and a few friendly games of 8-ball.

Best Toy Store

1. Toys “R” Us
      Multiple locations,
2. Target
      Multiple locations,
3. Wal-Mart
      Multiple locations,

It appears that quaint, locally owned toy shops are going the way of the dinosaur, although you can still find Tex-Cap Wholesale Toys and JCR Co.’s World of Magic & Fun. Some voters offered alternative adult-toy shopping locations, including Shades of Love and Adult Video Megaplex.

Bob’s Comics
Best Comics/Gaming

1. Bob’s Comics
       11781 West Ave., 524-9821,
2. Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy
       7959 Fredericksburg #129, 615-1229,
3. Heroes & Fantasies
      Multiple locations,

Our 2006 winner, Bob’s Comics tops the list again. Why? Because Bob loves comics more than you. Because Bob knows comics better than you. Because Bob’s Comic Blender podcast tied for second in Best YouTuber and unless you’re Splat TV yours didn’t. Who’d win in a fight, Bob versus a red-rover line of Juggernaut, Spider Jerusalem, and Alan Moore? Bob. Bob every time.

Best Golf Course

1. La Cantera-Palmer Golf Course
       16641 La Cantera Pkwy, 558-4653,
2. Brackenridge Golf Course
       2315 Avenue B, 226-5612
3. Blossom Golf Center
       13800 Jones Maltsberger Rd., 494-0002,

Though it was not yet a golf course, there is evidence of human visitation and occupation at Brackenridge Park extending back at least 11,000 years. And just like Brackenridge Golf Course’s extensive history makes it one of San Antonio’s best golf courses, La Cantera’s Palmer Golf Course’s expansive fairways and lush greens make it San Antonio’s best-rated golf course.

Best Spa

1. Watermark Hotel & Spa
       212 W. Crockett St., 396-5800,
2. Folawns, The Day Spa
       14353 Blanco Rd., 408-0101,
3. Spa d’Sante
       Multiple locations,

Hail to the happy masseuses at the Watermark! But should you ever have the good fortune (read: money), please, please spend the night here and get a room (from $419 to $850 on the weekends) with a patio overlooking the River Walk. They leave fresh fruit and candied nuts beside your four-poster bed, and the jacuzzi tub and plush robe are impossible to tear yourself away from. No HBO.

Best Spooky Spot

1. The Ghost Tracks
       Railroad crossing at intersection of Shane and Villamain Roads
2. Nightmare on Grayson
       201 E. Grayson St., 2990-1555
3. Ripley’s Haunted Adventure
       105 S. St. Mary’s #329, 226-2828

Current readers are to be commended for not taking the low road and voting for “Office of My Insurance Agent,” but their “Ghost Tracks” selection is a bit generic. Our suggestion is that when Halloween rolls around you steer clear of the “ghost tracks” (wherever they may be) and head to the Nightmare on Grayson haunted house.    

Best Gym

1. Gold’s Gym
       Multiple locations,
2. Spectrum Fitness Club
       Multiple locations,
3. Bally Total Fitness
       Multiple locations,

Gold’s Gym is a repeat winner. Last year, they managed to snag the number-one title as well and it’s for a reason: State-of-the-art everything, from cardiovascular equipment to an indoor basketball court to offering a plethora of classes ranging from spinning to pilates. Group exercise classes are also offered and personal trainers are readily available.

Dandyland Tattoos &  Piercing
Best Tattoo Shop

1. Dandyland Tattoos & Piercing
       1821 Bandera, 432-5747,
2. Platinum Piercing
       545 NW Loop 410, Ste. 103, 682-5239
3. Mr. Lucky’s
      2710 N. St. Mary’s, 736-6900,    

Consistently voted best tattoo and piercing studio by Current readers for years on end, Dandyland Custom Tattoos & Body Piercing is once again the favorite. Notoriously clean and professional, Dandyland underwent a facelift last year that has enriched the positive atmosphere even further. The tattoo artists and body piercers are highly reputable, with portfolio pictures and bios posted online. Customers are encouraged to browse, peruse portfolios, and discuss future works of art.

Best Strip Club

1. All Stars
       9440 IH-10 W, 593-0576
2. Sugar’s
       2731 NW Loop 410,
3. Perfect 10 Men’s Club
       111 NW Loop 410,

You gotta love a men’s club that lets you window-shop online before you convert your whole pay into ones and fives. Sugar’s and Perfect 10 (respectively second and third place) are owned by the same company and feature websites where you can preview the dancers. Of course, the images of steak and fries and their $2.99 price tag are just as sexy.

Best Sex Toy Shop

1. Adult Video Megaplex
       Multiple locations
2. Shades of Love
       300 W. Bitters, 494-3006
3. Apollo VIdeo
       2376 Austin Highway, 653-3538

Second-place winner Shades of Love is one of the rare sex shops (globally speaking) that’s not only owned by a woman (Rita Delgado), but a family woman at that (two daughters and three grandchildren). But procreation’s probably not on your mind when you’re picking out a penis pump (they’ve got eight different varieties, including Nick Manning’s MasturStroke Kit, a bargain at $29.99!).

Best Pimper/Detailer

1. Broadway Body & Paint
       1988 Austin Hwy., 654-1960
2. Sunset Imports
       5352 Walzem, 637-5123
3. Mother’s Window
       Multiple locations,

Make your car the slickest slab on the block by having it detailed at Broadway Body & Paint. Even if your vehicle needs some repair work to that fender bender, Current readers say this is the place for your automotive needs.

Best Head Shop

1. Planet K
       Multiple locations,
2. Cracker Box Palace
       622 W. Hildebrand, 734-3023
3. Flipside Record Parlor
       1445 SW Military, 923-7811

You know how there never seems to be a gas station when your tank’s running on empty? Head shops are often like that, except instead of hitching a ride from a stranger, you’re forced to improvise with a gum wrapper and a spork. With eight locations, Planet K is always there when you need it, assuming you’re lucid enough to remember where the nearest is.

Best GLBT Bar

1. Bonham Exchange
       411 Bonham, 271-3811,
2. Alternative Boutique and Lounge
       221 San Pedro
3. The Saint
       1430 N. Main, 225-7330

History matters in this category: that tattered, tippling old party girl housed in a former German social club (or the city’s first synagogue, depending on who’s telling the tale) conga lines straight back to San Antonio’s gay renaissance and Hap Veltman, the brilliant visionary who co-conceived Blue Star, the modern-day River Walk, and this fabulous turn-of-the-last-century maze of bars and dance floors.

Best Pickup Spot

1. Rebar
      8134 Broadway, 320-4091,
2. Hotel Valencia’s V Bar
       150 E. Houston St., 227-9700,
3. Doo or Dye
       331 W. Mulberry Ave., 739-8089,

Rebar was once a place of residence, and although nobody lives there now, it still is a place of solace for people looking for cheap drinks and a great hangout spot. Live bands are always plentiful on the weekends, and the laid-back atmosphere makes for a great meeting place for singles. V Bar is stainless-steel-beaded-curtain swanky, and Doo or Dye — well, it’s one swingin’-’60s hairdo joint, and apparently a great place to meet someone who shares your style.

Best Place to Adopt a Pet

1. Humane Society
       4804 Fredericksburg, 226-7461,
2. Animal Defense League
       11300 Nacogdoches, 655-1481,
3. Petco
       Multiple locations,

This is a trick category: The best place to adopt a pet is anywhere — there are too many little guys and girls who need homes. When our staff writer was adopting, the Humane Society was discouragingly crowded (with people) and too institutional for him to fall in love. He picked up his sweetheart, Marlowe, a yorkie mix, at the Animal Defense League, a homey little no-kill shelter where the staff love the animals as much as you will.

Best Kid-Friendly Park

1. Brackenridge
       3910 N. St. Mary’s, 736-9534,   
2. Sea World
       10500 Sea World Dr., (800) 700-7786,
3. Six Flags Fiesta Texas
       17000 IH-10 W,

We heartily second our readers’ pick in this category for the same reason our critic named it best park to host a kiddo’s birthday party: a beautiful makeover that turned roads into stroller-friendly trails, thoughtful public-art installations, an award-winning zoo, a super-cute choo-choo train, and the super-fowl San Antonio River. Or, you could spend half your annual salary at our Northwest-side theme parks.

Dan Kirby
Best Veterinarian

1. Dan Kirby
       Alamo Heights Pet Clinic,
       6488 N. New Braunfels, 821-5544
2. Kirby Animal Hospital
       4623 Binz Engleman, 661-6717
3. Affordable Pet Care
      5443 Grissom, 684-2273'

With a radio show (“Your Pet’s Health”) that broadcasts every Sunday on KTSA (550 AM) and KLUP (930 AM), Dr. Dan is probably San Antonio’s most public veterinarian. His Alamo Heights Clinic covers dogs and cats, of course, but also exotic pets. In addition to on-site care, the good doc is also available through phone consultation. (For the record: Dan Kirby is not related to the Kirby Animal Hospital.)

Best Fiesta Event

1. NIOSA, 4/24-4/27
2. Oyster Bake, 1 Camino Santa Maria St., 
3. King William Fair, 4/28

The King’s Garden Reception is an invitation-only event and part of the four-day A Night in Old San Antonio at La Villita. It’s a who’s-who party with an open bar (think San Antonio’s drunken Facebook). Please use caution when getting smashed and horny around every public official and institutional somebody in town.

Best Up-’n’-Coming ’Hood

1. Southtown
2. Beacon Hill
3. Woodlawn Heights

If the Current were nitpicky, we’d say that with home prices in the mid-100,000s and a Damien Watel venture parked on its cusp, Southtown has arrived already, but there are still affordable makeovers to be had in Beacon Hill, the bungalowed, shady enclave that lies just west of Monte Vista. Woodlawn Heights, the near Westside sister of Monticello, is also on the mend thanks in part to a refurbished Woodlawn Lake.

Previously in Best of SA