Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2002

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Food & Drink

La Vida

Megalopolitan Life

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Best Of :: La Vida

Best Nueva Mexican

So owner Richardson Browne has a sign in his restaurant that reads, in Spanish, "Restaurant critics can kiss my ass." So he celebrated a former New Times Best of Phoenix designation by mounting the plaque on a toilet seat in his rest room. So he bluntly warns diners that his chile policy is: You Order It, You Own It. It's all fair warning that Richardson's isn't about pandering to fussy clientele. Here's a restaurant with food so good it stands on its own merits, take it or leave it.

We'll take it, and gladly, welcoming the foghorn blast of searing Hatch chiles that sounds through almost every dish. Such New Mexican cuisine is painful but addictive, from a glorious fiery green chile stew stocked with beef tenderloin, potatoes, carrots and Cheddar to a classy chimayo chicken, plump with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, poblano chile and Asiago cheese.

Everything is so good that Browne has been known to get in fights with copycat restaurateurs over his trademark touches: green chiles stuffed with mashed potatoes, tomatillo toast with sautéed chicken and ham, and red chile primavera topped with artichoke hearts, portobello mushrooms, spinach and goat cheese in a white wine tomato broth.

There's no argument in our minds. Let others copy away. Our original is always Richardson's.

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 Nueva Mexican: Richardson's

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