Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2006

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Best Of :: People & Places

BEST STOP ON ART DETOUR

Julie Hampton's small studio was only open for a few months, but we'll never forget her Art Detour 2006 exhibition. In honor of a show called "Green," Hampton and her co-curators forked over some of their own green to lay the studio with sod, for a few short days. The inspiration came from a conversation about a previous Art Detour exhibition, in which an artist built a house in her studio, then put grass around it. This was quite the ordeal, Hampton recalls. The day of the more recent landscaping, Hampton knowing there was a sod shortage called four Home Depots at 6 a.m., in search. She found it at 75th Avenue and McDowell Road, so she hopped in her Nissan Sentra and drove, as she puts it, like "a mad woman" to get it calling her co-curator, Kriste Peoples, on the way. Peoples met her with a Toyota RAV4. The two crammed 20 rolls of sod (about 220 square feet) into their vehicles it barely fit put air in their tires, and drove to the studio on Grand Avenue, in Beatrice Moore's wedding cake of a building, called La Milgosa. They put plastic on the ground, then rolled out the sod. "Sort of a hack job, but it turned out okay," Hampton says. We recall it as more than okay. In fact, we were entranced, as was our 4-year-old companion, who immediately slipped off her shoes and got down on her hands and knees. Much like the Hanukkah miracle, the grass held up for a full week. "That much wet grass in a small space was a bit humid for my liking, but people seemed to enjoy taking off their shoes and walking around," Hampton says. a.ware's formal space is gone, but the vibe continues with open houses and Tupperware-esque home parties (but much more arty!) thrown by Hampton and Carol Panaro-Smith, who also plan to offer workshops on bookmaking and candlemaking. For more information, e-mail juliehampton@earthlink.net.

BEST GARDEN BAR
House of Tricks
Jackie Mercandetti

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 STOP ON ART DETOUR: a.ware Studio

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