Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Perhaps a trip to the comics shop sounds like a nostalgia-ridden adventure down memory lane. While it can certainly serve that function, Ash Avenue Comics is big on the now. With a solid selection of fresh indie books, notable graphic novels, and big-name serials, too, the Tempe standby eschews an old-timey feel for a selection that'll surprise anyone who's been on a hero hiatus. Not sure where to begin? Consult owner Drew Sully. The shopkeeper is (surprise) an avid comics reader and readily dishes on his favorite ongoing series like Uncanny X-Men or Hellboy in Hell.
One of the Valley's best-kept secrets, the Roastery of Cave Creek was started by Dave Anderson as a small operation that roasted estate-grown organic coffee for some of the best local restaurants. Chances are you've sipped this expertly roasted coffee once or twice without even knowing it. If you have had a cup of joe with your breakfast or brunch at Matt's Big Breakfast, Bertha's Café, or Vovomeena, you have tasted the divine elixir that results from these exceptional coffee beans. There are several single varietals and blends available from ROC2, but they all have in common a great sense of balance, full-bodied flavor, and rich smoothness. These beans can be purchased directly at the roastery or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The blend made especially for Bertha's Café can be purchased at the restaurant.
There's something so addictingly romantic about sipping a shot of espresso, cleansing your palate with the accompanying sparkling water, and pondering life's great mysteries while sitting in the open, airy Giant Coffee lounge in Central Phoenix. For local espresso lovers, Giant's Four Barrel Friendo Blendo espresso is a high point in a town of many great coffee joints. Two dollars gets you your shot and the side shot of sparking water, which is an unbeatably cheap pick-me-up. The thick, almost syrup-like consistency of the espresso paired with its tart fruit notes somehow make the perfect companion to Giant's flaky, savory quiche, which has been known to contain bacon, goat cheese, and pecans on certain days. That combo is sure to get you moving, maybe right across the street to the Phoenix Art Museum — now, doesn't that sound like a lovely day?
When Central Phoenix locals want to show off their neighborhood know-how to out-of-town guests, chances are they take them to Lux Central. Stationed in a nondescript building, this hipster hotspot houses a lively interior of mismatched mid-century furniture, typewriter centerpieces, grandma-chic dishware, and a seemingly endless maze of rooms in which to work, study, and socialize. Open from the wee hours and back again, Lux triples as a coffee shop, bar, and restaurant, serving up mason jars of iced lattes, as-you-like-it cocktails, and an ever-changing made-to-order menu. With so much action happening in one place, it's no wonder Lux draws such an around-the-clock assortment of people. From posh professionals and caffeinated study groups to late-night socialites and (don't say we didn't warn you) a fair share of awfully loud religious zealots, Lux Central is a miscellaneous mecca.
Shine started off as a retro trailer coffee shop that cropped up at different farmers markets and events in downtown Phoenix. Since then, it's expanded to include a permanent coffee stand just south of Thomas Road off of Central Avenue. Though the small outdoor shack still serves up some of the best pastries in town, like raspberry peach handpies and orange blossom shortbread, the best part is Shine's brand-new "Living Room" lounge in the neighboring building. It may seem intimidating to walk into a separate building with your wickedly delicious vanilla bean latte in tow, but once inside, you'll find a space that looks like a living room anyone would be happy to call their own, with lovely vintage furniture, great local art and mellow, ambient music — the perfect environment for reading a book or getting a boatload of work done. Plus, unlike most living rooms, there's no TV to distract you.
Pomegranate Café is as much about fresh juices, teas, and gluten-free, organic, local and vegan cuisine as it is about the coffee — maybe more so. But that suits us just fine when we're in South Phoenix, because it's nice to have a cafe to go to when we want a caffeine rush with a side of über-healthy. The kombucha and cleansing juices are definitely a more chakra-friendly option to your classic coffee drinks, but the espresso drinks are nothing to sneer at, either. If you get hungry after your soy latte, the simple, wholesome menu includes vegan burgers, raw tacos, kale salads, gluten-free bowls, and some great granola. Picky eaters with a laundry list of diet restrictions are always welcome at Pomegranate Café, which is good 'cause it's hard to find many other places in the Valley to take them while still satisfying our caffeine needs.