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Best Of 2001

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Best Of :: Food & Drink

Best French Pastries

Pastry chef Richard Ruskell could impress us with just his star-quality résumé: award after pastry award in eight years at our Valley's world-class Mary Elaine's. He could win us over with the clever hiring of Scott Fausz from Scottsdale's stellar Pierre's Pastries. Ruskell certainly gets our warm thoughts for naming his shop after his beloved Dalmatian, whose photos are proudly displayed on the wall.

But it's Ruskell's breakfast pastries, desserts and chocolates that bring us to our knees in genuflection. Flaky croissants -- plain, cinnamon, chocolate -- burst with butter. Soft brioche are gorgeously fat with custard, almond cream and orange, cinnamon and almonds, cream cheese and fresh blackberries, or lemon cheese.

And what can we say about his hand-sculpted pastries, except, "Wow!" Our favorite is the light-as-air Tuzigoot, with vanilla Bavarian, fresh fruit and mango gelée.

Ruskell also designs custom chocolates in the winter months, adding such sensations as tangerine/caramel mousse to chocolates from Michel Cluizel, a family-owned chocolatier in Normandy. Oh, Maxine, we're not worthy. But we'll come anyway.

Readers' Choices

Best Margarita Spot
Macayo's
several Valley locations

Best Mexican Restaurant
Macayo's
several Valley locations

Best Salsa
Blue Agave Oyster & Chile Bar
Shops at Gainey Village
8787 North Scottsdale Road, Suite A-102, Scottsdale
480-607-9222

Readers' Choices

Best Breakfast Spot
International House of Pancakes
several Valley locations

Best Downtown Executive Lunch
Durant's
2611 North Central
602-264-5967

Best Romantic Restaurant
The Melting Pot
8320 North Hayden, Scottsdale
480-607-1799
3626 East Ray, Ahwatukee
480-704-9206

Best Healthful Eating
Pita Jungle
1250 East Apache, Tempe
480-804-0234
1949 West Ray, Chandler
480-855-3232

Best Late-night Meal
Denny's
several Valley locations

Best Outdoor Patio
Dos Gringos
4209 North Craftsman Court, Scottsdale
480-423-3800

Best Happy Hour
Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar
several Valley locations

Readers' Choice

Best Bakery
Paradise Bakery
several Valley locations

Readers' Choices

Best Classic Pizza
Papa Johns
several Valley locations

Best Desserts
Cheesecake Factory
15230 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
480-607-0083

Best Gourmet Pizza
Pizzeria Bianco
623 East Adams
602-258-8300

Readers' Choices

Best Barbecue
Honey Bear's Bar-B-Q
5012 East Van Buren
602-273-9148
2824 North Central
602-279-7911

Best Chinese Restaurant
P.F. Chang's China Bistro
several Valley locations

Best Coffee House
Starbucks
several Valley locations

Best French Restaurant
La Madeleine French Bakery and Cafe
several Valley locations

Best Greek Restaurant
Greekfest
1940 East Camelback
602-265-2990

Best Indian Restaurant
Delhi Palace
5050 East McDowell
602-244-8181
16842 North Seventh Street
602-942-4224
933 East University, Tempe
480-921-2200

Best Italian Restaurant
Olive Garden
several Valley locations

Best Japanese Restaurant
RA Sushi Bar
411 South Mill, Tempe
480-303-9800
3815 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
480-990-9256

Best New Restaurant
Garduo's Margarita Factory
Shops at Gainey Village
8787 North Scottsdale Road, Suite A-102, Scottsdale
480-607-9222

Best Sandwich Shop
Subway
several Valley locations

Best Seafood Restaurant
Red Lobster
several Valley locations

Best Smoothie/juice Shop
Jamba Juice
several Valley locations

Best Southwestern Restaurant
Z'Tejas Grill
several Valley locations

Best Steak Restaurant
Outback Steakhouse
several Valley locations

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Best French Pastries: Pastry Maxine

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