Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2012

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Inspiration in a Retail Setting
MADE

Believe it or not, the Phoenix arts district known as Roosevelt Row has been around long enough to have some actual history. And when people tell the story of how the whole thing started, they love to talk about Modified Arts, the music/arts venue that popped up many years ago in a nest of twinkly white lights that eventually put the spotlight on downtown. With all due respect to Modified's Kimber Lanning, there's another pioneer in the field (and one that's still going strong, while Modified has adopted a lower profile): MADE. Cindy Dach opened her little boutique in 2005 and — in a city where shops come and go with the seasons — she kept it going during one of the toughest economic times in history. That's because MADE isn't just a store (although that would be enough — we'd go there just for the refrigerator magnets!); it's a community gathering spot, both literally and figuratively. Dach hosts workshops and classes (full disclosure: New Times' Deborah Sussman and Laura Gill currently lead workshops there) and themed art exhibits (among our favorites, the artist-made salt-and-pepper show several years ago). The merchandise (much of it made by local artists) is constantly changing, and we find ourselves stopping by on a regular basis for inspiration – or any time we need an original gift. A bonus: In the years MADE's been there, an entire community of coffee shops, boutiques, salons and other businesses has sprung up near the corner of Fifth and Roosevelt streets, with Dach's little shop as its centerpiece. Thank you, Cindy.

922 N. Fifth St., Phoenix, 85004
MAP
602-256-6233
Best Shot of Espresso
Press Coffee Roasters

There are three factors that contribute to a good shot of espresso — beans, machine, and barista. If even one of the pieces of that trifecta is off, your shot of espresso can suffer. Luckily, the boys behind Scottsdale Quarter's Press Coffee Roasters have the process down. Created with their bold house-roasted Twitch Espresso Blend and pulled by their talented baristas off their top-of-the-line Synesso espresso machine, the end result is a perfectly balanced earthy shot of espresso with hints of sweet fruit, notes of chocolate, and a slightly smoky finish.A great way to start the day — or make sure it doesn't start too early.

15147 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 85254
MAP
480-718-9762
Best Coffee Beans
Black Market Espresso Critics' Pick
Black Market Espresso

Great coffee starts with high-quality beans, and the folks at Cartel score only the best from Brazil for their impressive Black Market Espresso. The four-bean blend is sourced from a single high-elevation farm in the Sul de Mina region of Brazil, where it goes through its natural pulping process on-site before it is shipped off the farm. Cartel then roasts these beans to perfection, creating a bold-flavored coffee with citrus and chocolate notes and a dash of sweetness.

225 W. University Dr., Tempe, 85281
MAP
480-432-8237
Best Coffee House, Central Phoenix
Carmel's Coffee & Bakery

We were sold on this quaint and cozy coffee shop the second that designer-turned-barista Pat Flanagan opened the doors of his freshly remodeled spot last spring. The warm interior and interesting artwork begs you to take a few minutes out of your day to stay and enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee (beans courtesy of Lux). But Carmel's isn't just a coffee house — it serves a full menu of delicious breakfast and lunch treats. Fresh-baked quiches, scones, and muffins, flaky croissant sandwiches, and even crepes are available. When the weather permits, Carmel's has plenty of patio space to savor your coffee while watching traffic go by on Camelback.

4233 E. Camelback, Phoenix, 85018
MAP
480-626-0020
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455 N. 3rd St., Phoenix, 85004-3924
MAP
602-258-8472
Best Coffee House, Downtown Phoenix
Lola Coffee

All of the sudden, there's a lot of coffee competition on Roosevelt Row. But for us, there's no contest. Fresh house-roasted beans, an in-house bakery, an omelet bar, and a beautiful selection of rotating artwork are just a few reasons why Lola is our go-to downtown coffee shop. Artisan coffee roaster and latte art fanatic Daniel Wayne has created a laid-back atmosphere with a welcoming demeanor — and some of the best whipped cream in town. The espresso-infused whip gives Lola's coffee drinks a sweet and creamy kick. Try the dark chocolate and orange Café Borgia or the coffee shop's almost famous Matador.

1001 N. 3rd Ave., Phoenix, 85003
MAP
602-252-2265
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4400 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 85012
MAP
602-327-1396
Best Coffee House, South Phoenix
Cupz N' Crepes

Crepes and coffee go together like peanut butter and jelly, David Lee Roth and Van Halen, or vodka and Red Bull. Without one, the other is lonely and incomplete. Thankfully, Cupz N' Crepes is keeping the coffee-and-crepe team together at its Paris-inspired shop in Ahwatukee. Dig into a delicate crepe packed full of sweet Nutella and ripe bananas or the savory Veggie Delight, filled with spinach, tomatoes, and goat cheese. The coffee is always fresh and the bold espresso drinks are expertly crafted. A can't-miss breakfast or lunch stop on the south side of town.

4232 E. Chandler Blvd., Ahwatukee, 85048
MAP
480-706-1963
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4030 W. Ray Rd., Chandler, 85226-7254
MAP
480-752-8522
Best Coffee House, West Valley
Elevate Coffee Co.

A good West Valley coffee shop isn't easy to come by — so many we've loved have shut their doors and taken their sweet coffee drinks and free Wi-Fi with them. Thank goodness we've been blessed with Elevate Coffee Co. The modern coffee shop is inviting, with lots of cozy nooks in which to relax with a hot latte and a good book or sit at one of the sleek tables with a laptop, a java chip frappe, and a Southwest turkey sandwich during lunch. If you're in a rush, this coffee shop lets you text in your order, and they will even deliver to your car when you arrive. Warning: The coffee shop is owned by a church, but we swear you'd never know unless someone told you; nevertheless, you may want to leave your "F*@# Religion" shirt at home.

2530 W. Happy Valley Rd., Phoenix, 85085
MAP
602-341-5480
Best Coffee House, Southeast Valley
The Coffee Shop

On the grounds of Agritopia (home of Joe's Farm Grill) in Gilbert, The Coffee Shop is a sanctuary from run-of-the-mill strip-mall coffee joints. Set in a beautifully repurposed maintenance garage, the spacious modern building has tons of natural light and plenty of seating. The baristas behind the counter whip up fantastic iced lattes and specialty drinks, including the Black and White — a unique blend of espresso, steamed milk, white chocolate, and milk chocolate topped with a healthy dose of fresh whipped cream. And The Coffee Shop has cupcakes — lots and lots of cupcakes. This place can get packed, but there is plenty of seating among the trees outside to escape the crowds. Don't forget your laptop and your puppy; Wi-Fi is free, and furry friends are allowed on the patio.

3000 E. Ray Road, Building 2, Gilbert, 85296
MAP
480-279-3144
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9243 E. Baseline Rd., Mesa, 85209-8308
MAP
480-986-3060
Best Coffee House, North Phoenix
Matador Coffee Roasting

This strip-mall gem serves hot cups of fresh-brewed coffee from its skillfully roasted beans along with sweet housemade pastries. Matador strives to roast only the best beans daily, giving each and every cup of coffee or shot of espresso an extra kick of flavor to start your caffeinated day on the right foot. Curl up in one of the shop's tucked-away chairs with a book or get out your laptop and take advantage of free Wi-Fi. And if you need something stronger than coffee to get you through that paper you've been working on for a week, Matador serves up a nice selection of beer and wine.

3230 E. Union Hills Dr., Phoenix, 85050
MAP
602-971-3600
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4857 E. Greenway Rd., Scottsdale, 85254-1686
MAP
602-996-5635
Best Coffee House, Tempe
Cartel Coffee Lab Critics' Pick
Cartel Coffee Lab

When Cartel Coffee Lab opened its doors in 2007, it changed the game for coffee shops across the state. In Arizona, roasting beans was unheard of, and unless they'd visited Portland or Seattle, most Arizonans didn't really have a clue that coffee could be so good. With its über-hip industrial space and walls adorned with artwork from the Tempe community, Cartel is still top dog in this 'hood. A couple of other shops have tried, but not a single one can come close to the quality beverages made by the expertly trained staff. You may have to wait a minute or two longer for your cup of joe, but you can't rush the best.

225 W. University Dr., Tempe, 85281
MAP
480-432-8237
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1620 W. Elliot Rd., Tempe, 85284-1024
MAP
480-756-8750
Best Coffee House, Scottsdale
Village Coffee Roastery

The first thing that you'll notice when you walk in the doors of this sleek coffee shop is the giant bean roaster on the south side of the room, and most of our afternoon visits have been accompanied by the aroma of fresh-roasted coffee. The shop's small-batch roasted beans have an exotic flavor achieved by using a patented scientific method employed by only a handful of roasters in the world. The result is a smooth, balanced blend that doesn't need even a dash of cream or sugar. The only thing that rivals the shop's coffee is its handmade fresh-out-of-the-oven pastries and Danishes. Stop by for a delicious afternoon pick-me-up.

8120 N. Hayden, Scottsdale, 85258
MAP
480-905-0881
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10135 E. Vía Linda, Scottsdale, 85258
MAP
480-391-0517
Best Brewery
Four Peaks Brewing Co.

Four Peaks seems to have winning down to a science. At the 2011 Great American Beer Festival, the brewery's American IPA, Hop Knot, took home the bronze; at the 2012 World Beer Cup, it claimed the gold, along with its Kolsch, SunBru. Four Peaks was the only Arizona brewery honored in the World Beer Cup's judging competition — actually coming within half a medal of winning Champion Mid-size Brewery and Brewmaster — and was ranked among the top 50 craft brewers in terms of sales volume for 2011. With a new production facility set to open this year, an impending partnership with a nearby distillery, great beer, and the hardware to prove it, Four Peaks' success should only continue.

1340 E. 8th St., Tempe, 85281
MAP
480-303-9967
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Best Inspiration in a Retail Setting: MADE

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