People & Places

  • Readers' Choices

    Best Movie Theater Harkins Theatres Best Movie Theater Snacks Harkins Theatres Best News Station KTVK-TV Channel 3 Best Politician John McCain Best Professional Athlete Luis Gonzalez Best Pro Sports Team Arizona Diamondbacks Best Radio Personality Krazy Kid and Ruben S. KISS-FM 104.7 Best Spanish Language TV Station Telemundo Best Tourist Trap Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse 23023 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale 480-502-1880 Best TV Newscaster Brad Perry… More >>
  • Readers' Choices

    Best Kids' Free Fun Spot Kiwanis Park Recreation Center 6111 South All-America Way, Tempe 480-350-5201 Best Kids' Fun-at-a-price Spot Castles-n-Coasters 9445 North Metro Parkway East 602-997-7575 Best Kids' Restaurant McDonald's several Valley locations… More >>
  • Best Professional Athlete (Individual Sport)

    Vassily Jirov

    In his native Kazakhstan, International Boxing Federation cruiserweight champion Vassily Jirov learned to develop his boxing footwork by being forced to outrace angry police dogs down a narrow hallway. By comparison, facing a 190-pound pugilist in the boxing ring has to seem like a snap. Sure enough, the self-proclaimed Russian Tiger -- who moved to Scottsdale in 1996 after winning… More >>
  • Best Place To See A Skiploader Up Close

    Empire Machinery

    This is the Valley's most splendid tribute to the equipment that paved the Garden of Eden, courtesy of designer Bill Tonnesen. Even before you reach the renovated interior, the building's exterior walls and courtyard are designed to praise the visual virtues of the company's earthmoving tools -- mostly Caterpillars. Just about every surface and nook celebrates the sculptural appeal of… More >>
  • Best Public Art

    Ceiling of the Special Proceedings Courtroom

    There's a rare spiritual resonance about this work, created by artist James Carpenter in collaboration with the Richard Meier Architectural Firm. It can be found inside the cylindrical glass-and-steel courtroom at the west end of the atrium at the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse. The parabolic glass ceiling hangs like the lens of a clear-seeing eye on a spider web… More >>
  • Best Public Art At A Shopping Mall

    Sandcasting Garden

    Our earliest memories of late '60s/early '70s life in the Valley are not of tubing the Salt River or visiting the Phoenix Zoo, but -- well, okay, we admit it -- shopping. The best excursions were to the elegant Biltmore Fashion Park, where we recall peeking in the windows at Rosenzweig's Jewelers and Mills Touche, and wondering what that Red… More >>
  • Best Politician

    Grant Woods

    After nearly a decade as the state's attorney general and a couple of stints on talk radio, smarmy Grant Woods -- unofficial leader of the Mod Squad of left-leaning Arizona Republicans -- has stepped back into the shadows. Or has he? Is the incredibly ambitious, relatively young, spotlight-addicted Woods content to sit on his duff and fatten his coffers by acting… More >>
  • Best Reason To Forgive Bad Signage

    Michael Todd's Furniture

    Considering the more-than-affordable treasures we've dragged home from this delightful vintage furniture shop, we're feeling very forgiving about the gigantic typo emblazoned across its tidy storefront. There, in huge plastic letters, we're promised "ANTIQUE'S," a possessive inaccuracy that would normally have us phoning the Grammar Patrol with angry complaints. But we're smiling, instead, because this cozy cache of cool old… More >>
  • Best Sports Franchise

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    In some ways, 2001 has been a bumpy year for the D-Backs. Consistently disappointing fan turnout has confirmed that the honeymoon days of 1998-'99 have faded. And the team's well-chronicled money problems have called into question its long-term viability as a major league baseball franchise. But in an era when player salaries and team budgets are dinner-table topics, it's easy… More >>
  • Best Sports Radio Host

    Evan Andeen

    In the ongoing war for sports-radio Arbitron numbers, the most obvious route to success is to be louder, ruder and more obnoxious than the competition. KDUS afternoon host Evan Andeen, known to his listeners as "E-Dog," doesn't fall into this trap. Sure, he's caustic and frequently indignant, but you sense that Andeen's anger comes from an honest disgust with the… More >>
  • Best Radio Personality

    Tony Femino

    Everyone should have a cause. For KTAR afternoon host Tony Femino, the crusade of 2001 has been the brutal Valley heat (and the accompanying electricity costs). So, a few months ago, Femino launched a one-man campaign to get Avondale to give city employees the day off whenever thermostats exceed 115 degrees. If the plan has little chance of actually being… More >>
  • Best TV Ad Campaign

    Goldberg & Osborne, Attorneys at Law

    "When I was injured in an accident . . ." With those familiar words, we bet you can already hear the creepy client endorsements from the Goldberg & Osborne commercials, featuring everybody's favorite shell-shocked accident victims, filmed from the waist up and speaking in a sort of Percocet-induced Night of the Living Dead monotone. Countless times per week, G&O airs… More >>
  • Best Cure For Your Knickknack Jones

    The Enchanted Garden at the Old Brick House

    The magic of The Enchanted Garden is how low its prices are for charming ceramic cherubs, mansion-size birdhouses, flowery wind chimes and unusual blown-glass vases, cat-shaped pet bowls and wrought-iron clocks. It's tucked into downtown Mesa's Old Brick House, a furniture store that leases space on its different levels to anyone with a cool new line of tchotchkes to launch.… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy A Christmas Tree

    The Home Depot

    If you're after the perfect, fresh, affordable tree that will outlast your holiday spirit, give The Home Depot a try. Each year, this hardware retailer fills a chain-link pen with the widest selection of firs and spruces to be found in the Valley. Overlook the asphalt-covered surroundings and you'll find all of the perks of a more traditional tree lot:… More >>
  • Best Art House Movie Theater

    Valley Art Theatre

    It feels almost traitorous not to bestow this award on Harkins' Camelview 5 in Scottsdale, which has pretty much single-handedly maintained what little independent and foreign film fare the Valley has to offer. But Dan Harkins has outdone himself with the Valley Art, a beautiful, modernized renovation of the spot where he claims to have been conceived when his parents… More >>
  • Best Discount Movie Theater

    Tempe Cinemas

    Phoenix is no Manhattan, but we're inching our way toward the Big Apple's $10 movie ticket prices. There are few alternatives for the financially deprived, except Tempe Cinemas. Miss a movie première? Wait a while and watch it here for less than half the price of a regular matinee. The ticket lines move quickly, and the box office is inside,… More >>
  • Best Scottsdale Branch Of A Thailand Whorehouse


    Talk about best-kept secrets: Most people don't know that the popular college party bar Giligin's has a second location -- in Thailand. The Pattaya version has the same owners, the same name and the same tropical theme and Corona beer specials, but with one distinctive addition: whores! Plenty of young Thai prostitutes who, according to the Giligin's Web site,,… More >>
  • Best Tourist Trap

    Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse

    It's the granddaddy of Phoenix tourist traps, but Rawhide is wearing its age well. We know it's mostly fake and corny, but, shoot, it's fun. In addition to its mainstay attractions like the cowboy-actor shoot-outs and covered-wagon rides, Rawhide has new features including a haunted hotel, a trampoline-style bungee jump, and an Old West climbing wall. If you feel like… More >>
  • Best Web Site Devoted To A Local Celebrity

    Acquanetta! During the 1950s and '60s, the former B-movie queen was the most exotic thing Phoenix had to offer, a pre-Cher glamazon equally at home in the society pages or on local television, where she modeled wigs and read poetry during commercial breaks on the Late Late Show sponsored by her car dealer husband. And if you were lucky, you spotted… More >>
  • Best Spanish-language News Radio Station

    KNAI-FM 88.3

    This non-commercial station on the left end of the dial -- KNAI, known as La Campesina -- spent much of the '90s with a virtual monopoly on the listening tastes of Spanish speakers in the Valley. In the last three years, an explosion of Spanish-language stations has cut into KNAI's ratings, but it continues to be the Latino community's most… More >>
  • Best Place To People-watch

    Terminal Four at Sky Harbor International Airport

    Wig-Wearing Lady, who's been reading a Harlequin romance, just got up from her seat. Is she going to . . . ? She is! She's sitting down next to Long-Haired Sleeping Man! Now she's shaking him awake -- what's the deal? Does she know him? Or is this just another story unfolding in the cozy mystique of our favorite people-watching… More >>
  • Best Mobile Masseuse Who Does Ear Coning, Feng Shui And Aromatherapy

    Holly Kish

    Do you know a woman who, with one phone call, will come over and rub your back, rearrange your furniture, make your place smell nice and pour hot wax in your ears? Yeah, we do, too. But Kish is a different kind of "professional." For three years, she has promptly and faithfully served the Valley's holistic needs with massaging hands… More >>
  • Best Place To Hug A Hyena

    Out of Africa Wildlife Park

    The homely hyena is a misunderstood creature, Out of Africa Wildlife Park president Dean Harrison wants us to know. Rather than the vicious, bloodthirsty animals we've seen portrayed on TV, hyenas are loving, affectionate and playful, even with humans. It sure looks convincing, as Harrison wrestles with a huge hyena that chews gently on his arm, then follows him with… More >>
  • Best Place To Spend Saturday Night In Your Car

    Scottsdale Six Drive-In

    Want to watch a movie on a big screen, but you'd be pelted with popcorn if you took your squirming toddler? Hankering for a little hanky-panky to enhance the cinematic experience, but stadium seating and decorum just won't allow it? At this 25-year-old Scottsdale drive-in, you can watch the movie -- and do whatever -- without leaving your car. And… More >>
  • Best Place To Open A Business If You're Not Good With Names

    Downtown Mesa

    Head south down Country Club Drive in Mesa toward Main Street and check out the businesses that line the streets. Don't just glance at them, read their signs. You'll find a haven for the creatively challenged business owner -- the uninspired, the copycat, the redundant. Beer World is a few spots away from Birds of the World, and about a… More >>
  • Best Couch Art

    Z Gallerie

    Although usually associated with funky retro furniture for budget-minded urbanites, Z Gallerie's separate roomful of framed paintings, drawings and photographs is a gold mine for wanna-be art aficionados. Sift through a stack of prints by anyone from Ansel Adams to Kandinsky to van Gogh or pull a framed reproduction from the wall for less than what you paid for air… More >>
  • Best Museum Of Contemporary Art

    Arizona State University Art Museum

    After more than a decade in its Antoine Predock building, this museum is showing the Valley what a broad, inclusive phrase "contemporary art" can be. Despite a thin bottom line, ASU's art museum has assembled stellar exhibitions of crafts alongside intriguing shows by the likes of Shirin Neshat, Lucio Muniain and Andreas Gursky. These names aren't likely to bring in… More >>
  • Best Place For A First Kiss

    The Vintage Market

    Maybe it's all the couples who seem to glide by, holding hands, chatting effortlessly, on their way from one fancy store to the next. Or perhaps it's the large fountain, surrounded by bright flowers. Take a first date to this little wine-and-cheese shop at Biltmore Fashion Park (the salads ain't bad, either), and you won't have to worry about using… More >>
  • Best-decorated Dentist Office

    Will Hoskyns, D.D.S.

    There's a place in the West Valley where Will and Susan Hoskyns turn frowns upside down. Not only does the dentist offer a "comprehensive cosmetic practice," which whitens smiles with veneers and fixes the mouths of people who grind their teeth, he offers an entire office full of precious art that makes people feel like they've stepped into Europe during centuries… More >>
  • Best Professional Athlete (Team Sport)

    Luis Gonzalez

    In the past 12 months, the sky has fallen on many of Phoenix's sports superstars. Jason Kidd, Aeneas Williams, Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick have all been sent down the road. The only local sports team not in a total rebuilding mode is the Arizona Diamondbacks. Pitchers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling have had their usual superb seasons, and free-agent… More >>
  • Best Baseball

    Arizona Fall League Baseball

    When it comes to baseball, you can sit with the roof closed, far, far away from the field. Or you can wait for the weather to cool and sit front-row center, close enough to hear catchers mutter to umps, "How many fingers you see me holding up?" We've never been able to figure why this extraordinary peek at baseball's future… More >>
  • Best Radio Commentary

    Gregg Paul's Politically Incorrect Touching Moment

    Metro Network traffic stud Gregg Paul is pissed off. After serving in Desert Storm during the first Bush administration, he returned to Arizona and scored a five-minute commentary spot on KZON's afternoon show, where he tells it like he sees it -- always in an honest and unforgiving tone. The son of a West Valley blue-collar father, Paul's Everyman rants… More >>
  • Best Standup TV Reporter

    Blair Meeks

    What passes for "live" TV news these days too often consists of shots of a place where something exciting happened hours ago, and the only thing close to "live" is the reporter in front of the camera. But when it comes to delivering real breaking news, reporting without a script from the scenes of fires, explosions, shootings or whatever, Meeks… More >>
  • Best TV Newscaster

    John Hook

    When Channel 10 announced it was beginning a one-hour newscast at 9 p.m., we expected lots of slow talking, meaningless stories and chitter-chatter just to fill the time. But this show is none of that, thanks to John Hook. A former Valley TV reporter, Hook knows what he's talking about, but he doesn't come off as too serious or self-absorbed.… More >>
  • Best Place To Be Dear To A Bear

    Southwest Wildlife Rehabilitation and Educational Foundation

    All it takes is one scroll through the baby animal pictures on this nonprofit sanctuary's Web site, and we're head over heels in love. The photos are just a few examples of the injured or orphaned wildlife rescued and rehabilitated by Southwest Wildlife, including gray foxes, coyotes, raccoons, wolves, bobcats, mountain lions, deer, javelina and black bears. Since 1994, Southwest… More >>
  • Best Place To Hang With Elvis

    Casino Arizona

    Elvis has not left the building. The entertainer extraordinaire is alive and in full, glittery color at Casino Arizona. You can see the mighty pelvis-twister in all his glory at shows -- 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays -- in the cushy lounge. And the price is very good: free. Sometimes, we even get an extra glimpse, as the… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater Snacks

    Harkins Theatres

    Yummy and cheap. Those two factors give the nod to Harkins. While not quite at the haute-cuisine level of the trendiest California movie concessions stands, Harkins does offer a nice specialty-coffee selection, hot dogs, nachos and plenty o' candies. But the deals on basics are steals: Buy a large drink for $3.50 and get $1 refills the rest of the… More >>
  • Best Place For Smokers, Strippers, Swappers And Soothsayers

    Gene's Hickory Smoked BBQ

    It's like a Disneyland of debauchery here: Not only does Gene's serve up some mighty tasty hickory-smoked barbecue, but it shares space with a topless bar, a flea market and a psychic. This gleaming white trailer sits in the parking lot of the Candy Store exotic dance club, an ambitious piece of asphalt that's also home to Paradise Valley Swap… More >>
  • Best Eye Job

    Governor Jane Dee Hull

    When we first heard about Governor Hull's most significant accomplishment this past summer -- getting her eyes done -- we smirked. Jeez, lady, you don't need to go under the knife, we thought. Some scissors and a bottle of Clairol will do just fine. Really, no one's looking at your eyes -- who could, after being blinded by your fire-engine… More >>
  • Best Hole In The Sky

    "Knight Rise"

    It's easy to scoff at the thought of staring up at the sky through a hole in a building not much bigger than an outhouse. But this best new view -- named after the museum's former director, Robert Knight, and created by artist James Turrell and architect William Bruder -- reveals the delicious spins that great artists can put on… More >>
  • Best Local Tourist Attraction You've Probably Never Heard Of

    Somewhere Over the Rainbow

    Have you had it up to your disposable camera with Western-themed tourist traps featuring fake cowboy shoot-outs and chuck-wagon dinners served in mining pans? Then dare to look beyond the obvious at Somewhere Over the Rainbow, a three-acre oasis of oddities near Cave Creek and Sweetwater roads, assembled by 77-year-old retiree Gus Brethauer. He has spent the past 25 years turning… More >>
  • Best Pair Of Double Entendres In A Local TV Newscast

    KPNX News 12

    Several months after 14-year-old Sean Botkin was arrested for holding a classroom full of Glendale elementary school students hostage at gunpoint, the boy's mother talked to reporters about his upcoming trial. An optimistic Cary Botkin said Sean's lawyer hoped to persuade the court to try her son as a juvenile, rather than as an adult, because that strategy represented "our… More >>
  • Best Tempe-to-downtown Shortcut

    State Road 153

    We're trusting you not to spoil this, to tell only whom you must: The recently constructed SR 153 takes you from University Drive at Priest, past Sky Harbor Airport, and over to Washington Street at 44th Street in less than two minutes with zero traffic. That's it. We sometimes weave from one side of this three-lane highway to the other,… More >>
  • Best Place To Have A Seinfeld Experience


    On Seinfeld, Elaine was so smitten by the Soup Nazi's offerings that she withstood his abuse and capricious behavioral requirements. We won't go so far as to imply a Scone Nazi exists in the Valley, but let's just say you do what you have to do to get what you need at Kohnie's. Kohnie's scones are so good -- they're… More >>
  • Best Place To Find Buddha

    Oriental Factory Direct

    Looking for a god? Any god? For just $2, you can have your own Buddha -- or choose from a plethora of other gods immortalized in wood, plastic, porcelain and brass at the Oriental Factory Direct. Among the weird statuettes are pudgy, baby-faced kung-fu fighters donning sunglasses and cute little deadly weapons. For quiet but constant affirmation, try one of… More >>
  • Best College For A Major In Jin Shin Jyutsu

    Southwest Institute of Healing Arts

    Ancient Chinese secret, huh? Last year, the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts became an officially accredited college, offering diplomas in Therapeutic Massage, Western Herbalism and -- our favorite -- Oriental Bodywork. In the Institute's hallowed halls of healing, you can enroll in classes such as "Chinese Face Reading" and the always popular "Chi Gung for the Spine: Bend the Bow… More >>
  • Best Alternative To Kiddy Music

    KBAQ-FM 89.5

    Nothing against Raffi, who surely means well, but his and other children's CDs are really not meant for adult ears. So tell your tiny tot to just grow up . . . because we happen to live in a city with a really topnotch classical radio station. Let your tyke listen to KBAQ. Often. Besides being a lovely and peaceful… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy A Baby Gift

    Pure Style Kids

    We love the fact that Pure Style Kids is just across the breezeway from Three Dog Bakery -- a shop offering the ultimate indulgences for Fido. Those of you making the transition from Dog Mom to Real Mom will find it much easier after a trip through Pure Style Kids. This place is enough to cure any new mother of the… More >>
  • Best Place To Rent Baby Gear

    Baby Boom Rentals

    How can one small person require so much stuff? Traveling with an infant requires more gear than a rock concert -- babies should have their own roadies to help them set up when they arrive for a vacation at Grandma's house. With Baby Boom Rentals, a visiting entourage can bring just the bare essentials. This company delivers equipment across the… More >>
  • Best Hangout For The 18-and-under Crowd

    Ahwatukee Foothills Towne Center

    A small but hip section of this unassuming strip mall comes alive on Friday nights with teens and preteens sporting big shoes and baggy shorts. In addition to the 24-screen AMC theater with valet parking, there's Coffee Society for non-alcoholic, caffeinated refreshment. As You Wish can keep artistic hands busy with a paintbrush and a piece of unfinished pottery. Barnes… More >>
  • Best Video Arcade

    Video Roundup

    Whether you're partial to that sweet young thing from the '80s, Ms. Pac-Man, or you need to burn up a little testosterone with Virtua Cop 2, you can conquer the universe of your choice at Video Roundup, an independently owned video arcade that's been around for more than a decade. Novice players will appreciate the back room full of old-school… More >>
  • Best Toy Store

    Kidstop Learning Fun

    We chose Kidstop after rigorous scientific testing, which can be duplicated by anyone with access to a 3-year-old. Simply turn the child loose in any toy store while you shop for another kid's birthday present. If the range of merchandise is good enough and the staff is helpful enough, you'll end up with a well-occupied young shopping companion. Kidstop gets… More >>
  • Best Kids' Fun-at-a-price Spot


    New attractions here have turned a fun but standard amusement park into the ultimate kiddy attraction. Golfland/Sunsplash is a one-stop entertainment center that will manage to please vanloads of multi-aged kids with different interests. Golfland, which is open all year and charges fees in the neighborhood of $4 to $6.25 for each activity, has old standbys like miniature golf (three… More >>
  • Best Skateboard Shop

    Cowtown Skateboards

    As soon as you walk in the door, you can tell that Cowtown Skateboards is run by a bunch of skateboard-loving purists. What gives us that notion? Ah, could it be the unavoidable wall-o-boards, covered from floor to ceiling in colorful, shiny new decks? Everything else in the store is secondary to the amazing array of skateboards on display. No… More >>
  • Best Restaurant To Take Kids

    Chevys Fresh Mex Restaurant

    Parents can get a bite in edgewise at Chevys because the kids will be happily occupied with an assortment of activities. Chevys goes beyond the standard crayons-and-placemat handouts, throwing in a ball of raw tortilla dough (sometimes the crayons are stuck in it) that doubles as Play-Doh when the placemat coloring is finished. If the little niņos are still antsy,… More >>
  • Best Place For A Kid's Birthday Party

    Ultimate Dive and Travel

    Never having another kid's birthday party at home, even if the stains did come out of the rug after the umpteenth cleaning? Looking for something more memorable and, God forbid, more meaningful than cardboard pizza and head-splitting video games at the usual locales? For little ones 10 and older, this north Valley shop will host a "Bubblemakers" Party, a terrific… More >>
  • Best Kids' Clothes (New)

    This Little Piggy Wears Cotton

    This wonderful store with the awkward name (most patrons just call it "Piggy" and leave it at that) has the funkiest, hippest collection of clothes for the preschool and grade-school set. Grown women have been heard requesting some of the more fashion-forward girls' items in grown-up sizes, but the real test of a kids' clothing store is what it's got… More >>
  • Best Place To Take Kids On Summer Nights

    McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

    The summer heat demands that you keep the kids inside, hour after pent-up hour, day after frustrating day. Don't throw yourself under the wheels of a train. Just throw yourself near the train -- in this pretty park with a restored historic train depot, an antique carousel and a clock tower. On Saturday evenings in May, June and July, the… More >>