Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2002

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Food & Drink

La Vida

Megalopolitan Life

People & Places

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Best Of :: La Vida

Best Chips And Salsa

Chips and salsa. They go together like love and marriage. A horse and carriage. Like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Batman and Robin, Britney Spears and her belly button, they're inseparable.

We're addictive dunkers, never able to stop at just one basket. But we're highly particular about our chips. They must be thin, crispy, lightly salted, blooming with rich corn flavor, not greasy, and served warm (cold chips, bleh). We're stuck up over our salsa, too. No puny tomato purée will do -- some pico de gallo is always welcome, but at least one of the dips has to be a flame-thrower.

We've found the perfect combination at Cantina!, the upstairs restaurant next to the Boulders resort (they can't keep us off the pretty patio, sipping margaritas and double-dipping like nobody's business). Chips are yellow and blue corn, airy crisp. Salsas are inspired, both in variety and in macho flavor. We start with the complimentary servings of salsa dulce (mild) and salsa media picosa (regular), both thick with fresh vegetables.

Five others flavors beckon, and they're all dramatic: salsa picante (sweet and spiced), salsa verde (sharp, metallic jalapeños and tomatillos), salsa tejana (gutsy garlic, cumin and spice), salsa arbol (seriously hot) and salsa habanero (bring-us-to-our-knees fiery). For just $5, we get a variety pack, a thrilling taste-bud tour of picante, arbol and verde.

These chips are champs, and these salsas sure sizzle.

Readers Choice

BEST SPANISH LANGUAGE TV/RADIO PERSONALITY
Johnny Dilone (Mas Channel 55)
480-607-9222

BEST SOUTHWESTERN RESTAURANT
Z'Tejas Grill
several Valley locations

BEST SALSA
Macayo's
several Valley locations

BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT
Garduño's Margarita Factory
8787 North Scottsdale Road,
Scottsdale

BEST MARGARITA
Garduño's Margarita Factory
BEST TEQUILA SELECTION
Garduño's Margarita Factory

Readers Choice

BEST SPANISH LANGUAGE TV/RADIO PERSONALITY
Johnny Dilone (Mas Channel 55)
480-607-9222

BEST SOUTHWESTERN RESTAURANT
Z'Tejas Grill
several Valley locations

BEST SALSA
Macayo's
several Valley locations

BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT
Garduño's Margarita Factory
8787 North Scottsdale Road,
Scottsdale

BEST MARGARITA
Garduño's Margarita Factory
BEST TEQUILA SELECTION
Garduño's Margarita Factory

Best Pi?ata Shop

There's no better way to relieve stress than to bash the shit out of someone with a large stick, and you can do this legally at Reyna's Party Place. With a few days' advance notice, and for around $25, Reyna's people can provide you with a custom-made piata -- just bring in a photo or a description of the character you would like to create. Stuff the offender with tiny plastic airplane bottles of scotch and beat your papier-mâché nemesis into a newsprint-and-crepe-paper pulp. Reyna's also rents bouncy castles, helium tanks, tables, chairs and other festive necessities, including mini-handcuffs and stink bombs.

Best Piata Shop

There's no better way to relieve stress than to bash the shit out of someone with a large stick, and you can do this legally at Reyna's Party Place. With a few days' advance notice, and for around $25, Reyna's people can provide you with a custom-made piñata -- just bring in a photo or a description of the character you would like to create. Stuff the offender with tiny plastic airplane bottles of scotch and beat your papier-mâché nemesis into a newsprint-and-crepe-paper pulp. Reyna's also rents bouncy castles, helium tanks, tables, chairs and other festive necessities, including mini-handcuffs and stink bombs.

Best Curandero O Brujo

Boss on your case? Feeling hexed? If you're in need of a quick spell removal -- or a spell installation, for that matter -- Las Potencias Africanas might be able to help. The small storefront next to the Azteca Cafe offers just about anything you might need for a self-help take on the ancient Catholic-and-African-fused method of Santeria -- including its darker cousin, Palo Mayombe. Some practices might call for frog legs and dried hummingbirds, so it's a good thing it has them on hand. Plus it has original artwork by local Latino artists, incense, religious items, soaps, candles and music, along with readings of tarot cards and chamalango (coconut shells). And just to round out your expertise, there are even classes available in spiritual candle- and soap-making, for the more advanced spell-it-yourselfers.

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Best Chips And Salsa: ¡Cantina! del Pedregal

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