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Best Of 2006

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Best Of :: People & Places

BEST KARAOKE FOR PEOPLE WHO HATE KARAOKE

Who can blame you for hating karaoke? No one with any sense wants to hear people who can't sing attempt to wade through "Mack the Knife" or hit the high notes in "Lady Marmalade." Karaoke is the worst of those '90s fads that refuses to die, especially in Phoenix. But this most annoying of unhip holdovers is having a happy rebirth in a quiet corner of East Osborn Road. Every Friday night at Linda's, where the daily specials (all of them tasty) are handwritten on colorful recipe cards and attached to the menu with a paper clip, Joanne the Karaoke Singer mesmerizes the early dinner crowd with an uncommon talent and a towering hairdo. Seated next to the cash register, flanked by a wee karaoke machine that spits out prerecorded pop tunes from the '50s, '60s, and '70s, Joanne serenades diners in a throaty whisper that's barely audible over clinking flatware and customer chatter. From beneath a foot-high blonde bouffant, this willowy miss of indeterminate age talk-sings her way through a cavalcade of quiet hits, occasionally arching an eyebrow or shrugging a shoulder as if to say, "Here I am, although I'm not sure why." We're not sure, either but we're always glad when she is.

BEST GARDEN BAR
House of Tricks

The Tricks' garden has Eden beat, no contest. Built around two old houses in downtown Tempe well off the beaten beer-spilled path of Mill Avenue the trellised, bricked, vine-covered spot is the perfect place to sit at the bar or relax at a table, with a good glass of wine. And one more thing we can guarantee: No one in Eden knew how to cook the way the Tricks do with menu temptations like marinated quail with a coffee honey vinaigrette or pistachio-crusted rack of lamb. Paradise.

114 E. 7th St., Tempe, 85281
MAP
480-968-1114
BEST PLACE TO GET NAKED
El Dorado Hot Springs

According to the Bible, our ancient ancestors Adam and Eve grew ashamed at their nudity in the Garden of Eden after sampling forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge, and thusly, mankind was forever cursed with a sense of body modesty. Well, you can finally feel good about dropping trou outside the confines of your residence (without getting thrown in the cooler) inside the confines of El Dorado Hot Springs. This picturesque mineral-water spa located 45 miles west of the Valley is a clothing-optional compound with a bounty of bathing pools and tubs filled with natural H2O pumped straight from a subterranean spring. Five private areas located inside fenced areas and historic buildings including a small post office where old-school civil servants soaked their letter-carrying carcasses back in the day allow you to take a dip away from the prying eyes of the public for only $10 an hour per person. If you're feeling a bit more exhibitionistic, there's also a semi-private pool for $7.50 an hour per person. Cell phones and cameras are forbidden, however, so you needn't worry about any saucy pics of your skinny-dipping adventures getting posted on the Internet.

41225 W. Indian School Rd., Tonopah, 85354
MAP
623-386-5412
BEST APPLETINI

The appletini is the quintessential frou-frou cocktail. Flirty. Tasteful. Fun. Grilled Expedition at Desert Ridge Marketplace offers an appletini that's shaken, not stirred, and garnished with a Granny Smith apple slice. Its house special martini isn't exactly a trade secret just vodka with a splash of sour apple liquor but the restaurant's bartenders manage to get just the perfect combination of sweet and tart. This is an apple that will definitely sink its teeth into you.

BEST GARDEN OF EDEN IN THE DESERT
The Wright House

Phoenix summers are hell. By August, the only flowers left alive in this town are on night-blooming cactuses. Wright House proprietors Peggy and Michael Wright must have made a pact with Satan's gardener, because somehow their lush landscaping manages to stay green and flowering nearly all year. The property houses three buildings a historic cottage house, an English ballroom and a recently added French villa that can be rented for weddings, special occasions and private parties. Wrought-iron fences and delicate gazebos are covered with ivy and fragrant jasmine. Stone walkways snake through country gardens planted with roses and perennials bursting in vibrant shades of fuchsia, pink and saffron. The best part? There's not one goddamned cactus on the lot.

636 W. University Dr., Mesa, 85201
MAP
480-833-0902
BEST PLACE TO PISS OFF GOD
Apollo's Greek God Revue on Sundays

For those of you who specialize in committing the most profane acts of immorality, now you can royally piss off God in a variety of ways at Apollo's Greek God Revue. As if the infamously sassy GLBT clientele that frequents Apollo's wasn't enough to get on the Lord's bad side, now guests can further annoy the Most High with the overt idolatry of Dionysian-loving tranny sing-alongs, the likes of which some fundamentalists might say could invoke the wrath of God with more urgency than the folks in those little towns called Sodom and Gomorrah. To add injury, the party happens every Sunday night, a day typically reserved by the rightest of the right for spiritual fasting and meditation. Perhaps the guys at Apollo's view their wacky Sunday night Greek drag extravaganzas as worshipful in their own way. Since the Lord hasn't struck them down yet, be sure not to miss a week; that would really light up this already fabulous party!

5749 N. 7th St., Phoenix, 85014
MAP
602-277-9373
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BEST KARAOKE FOR PEOPLE WHO HATE KARAOKE: Joanne the Karaoke Singer

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