Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2001


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  • + Tolleson
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  • + West Phoenix
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Arts & Entertainment

Food & Drink

Megalopolitan Life

People & Places

Shopping & Services


Best Of :: People & Places

Best Place To Find Buddha

Looking for a god? Any god? For just $2, you can have your own Buddha -- or choose from a plethora of other gods immortalized in wood, plastic, porcelain and brass at the Oriental Factory Direct. Among the weird statuettes are pudgy, baby-faced kung-fu fighters donning sunglasses and cute little deadly weapons. For quiet but constant affirmation, try one of the "bobble-head" dolls in traditional Chinese costume. Their big heads are on springs, so the slightest breeze sends them nodding every which way. Quirky items are side by side with beautiful silk dresses and intricate jewelry. The outlet also has a robust collection of Asian books, videos, DVDs and music. Whether you're looking for a path to enlightenment or just a cool frock to wear next Saturday night, you'll find it here.

Readers' Choices

Best Movie Theater
Harkins Theatres

Best Movie Theater Snacks
Harkins Theatres

Best News Station
KTVK-TV Channel 3

Best Politician
John McCain

Best Professional Athlete
Luis Gonzalez

Best Pro Sports Team
Arizona Diamondbacks

Best Radio Personality
Krazy Kid and Ruben S.
KISS-FM 104.7

Best Spanish Language TV Station

Best Tourist Trap
Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse
23023 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale

Best TV Newscaster
Brad Perry

Readers' Choices

Best Kids' Free Fun Spot
Kiwanis Park Recreation Center
6111 South All-America Way, Tempe

Best Kids' Fun-at-a-price Spot
9445 North Metro Parkway East

Best Kids' Restaurant
several Valley locations

Best Professional Athlete (Individual Sport)

In his native Kazakhstan, International Boxing Federation cruiserweight champion Vassily Jirov learned to develop his boxing footwork by being forced to outrace angry police dogs down a narrow hallway. By comparison, facing a 190-pound pugilist in the boxing ring has to seem like a snap. Sure enough, the self-proclaimed Russian Tiger -- who moved to Scottsdale in 1996 after winning a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics -- has cruised through his unheralded weight division like it's just a preliminary to some anticipated main event. That main event would be either a heavyweight title shot or a step down to take on light-heavyweight king Roy Jones Jr. But, with his unmatched knockout percentage and relentless body-attacking style, Jirov might continue to be a victim of his own success, scaring away opponents unwilling to tangle with a tiger.

Best Place To See A Skiploader Up Close

This is the Valley's most splendid tribute to the equipment that paved the Garden of Eden, courtesy of designer Bill Tonnesen. Even before you reach the renovated interior, the building's exterior walls and courtyard are designed to praise the visual virtues of the company's earthmoving tools -- mostly Caterpillars. Just about every surface and nook celebrates the sculptural appeal of big loud things that dig, split, drill, scrape and core. At Empire, it's all about blades, pistons and bits done up as pure decor. But be prepared: The weight and size of the details tend to leave first-time visitors gape-mouthed and asking, "What kind of rig did that come from?"

Best Public Art

There's a rare spiritual resonance about this work, created by artist James Carpenter in collaboration with the Richard Meier Architectural Firm. It can be found inside the cylindrical glass-and-steel courtroom at the west end of the atrium at the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse. The parabolic glass ceiling hangs like the lens of a clear-seeing eye on a spider web of metal cables and connectors. The beauty of it is in the subtle way its craftsmanship and precision rise above the merely practical. They make poetry of what law books lay out in dull prose and the courts themselves sometimes ignore: that the illuminating search for truth and justice should focus the mind on every fact, large and small -- dimpled chad or not.


Best Place To Find Buddha: Oriental Factory Direct


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