Shopping & Services

  • Readers Choice

    BEST BOOKSTORE -- NEW TITLES Borders Books & Music several Valley locations BEST BOOKSTORE -- USED TITLES Bookman's Used Books, Music and Software 1056 South Country Club Drive, Mesa 480-835-0505 BEST SECONDHAND SHOP Buffalo Exchange 227 West University, Tempe 480-968-2557 730 East Missouri 602-532-0144 BEST BIKE SHOP Tempe Bicycle 330 West University, Tempe 480-966-6896 BEST MOVIE THEATER Harkins Theatres several Valley locations BEST PLACE TO RENT A SUPERHERO COSTUME Bert Easley's Fun Shop 509 West McDowell 602-271-9146… More >>
  • Best Party Garden

    Boojum Tree

    Boojum is long known as a premier nursery for beautiful, exotic plants. Named after a tall, spiny tree known only to the Sonoran Desert and Baja, the gardening shop is evolving into a romantic escape for get-togethers. After 18 years, the family that owns the spot is transforming the five-acre property into lush gardens for special events. We love the… More >>
  • Best Downtown Bookstore

    The Book Island

    If you're a book freak and you have some time left over after tucking into that brown-bag lunch, it's hard to find a brainier downtown work break than the Book Island. Nestled neatly at the foot of the Luhrs Building, the Island is a triple treat for any nerd with some spare time to kill. Not only is it a… More >>
  • Best Chicano Store

    Homies Hobbies

    If you like lowriders but the family car isn't ready for the change, how about just starting with a model? That way, you can get as elaborate as you like, as you customize your plastic dream, and not worry about how the family's going to get around in the meantime. Homies Hobbies is the perfect place for fulfilling your mini… More >>
  • Best Scenic Resort

    Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

    In the bastion of beauty and newness that is far north Scottsdale, it's only fitting that the neighborhood's shiniest new resort, perched in the foothills of Pinnacle Peak, showcases the Valley's most stunning views. Though it's unquestionably classy, this Four Seasons isn't your typical Scottsdale resort. Rather than rooted in glitz, its grandeur rises from nature. The patio adjacent to… More >>
  • Best Place To Grub A Hub

    Hub-Cap City

    Our friend parked at a high school football game in Mesa, then returned to his car to find his Jaguar stripped of its hubcaps. It seemed too easy that we might find the wayward caps at Hub-Cap City, itself a Mesa establishment. The grungy looking store is an endless array of gleaming chrome Frisbees, and the owner, after being pressed,… More >>
  • Best Mid-Century Decor

    Red Modern Furniture

    A recent newcomer to downtown, Red is the furniture boutique to satisfy your demanding inner Barbarella or George Jetson. It offers a swingin' assortment of mid-century modern chairs and couches, sleek lamps and streamlined tables, and you'll recognize a lot of the still-stylish classics, from Eames to Nelson. Conveniently located right next door to beloved vintage shop Spine, it rounds… More >>
  • Best Camera Store

    Lewis Camera Exchange

    Every owner of a lunky old professional Nikon or Canon has at one time dreamed of using his camera as a mace. This dream is the old bravado of old shooters in commune with the simple, perfect steel girth of the old pre-digital bodies. But while most of us talk the talk, Jess Wells actually clocked a prospective thief with his… More >>
  • Best Secondhand Store

    Buffalo Exchange

    Contrary to popular belief, you don't need a million bucks to look like a million bucks. In fact, if you have some groovy threads that you're willing to part with, you don't actually need any bucks, because Buffalo Exchange gives credit or pays cold hard cash for cool clothes. A steady stream of starving -- but apparently well-dressed -- ASU… More >>
  • Best Funky Stuff

    Bo's Funky Stuff

    A Playboy Bunny stands in the entryway, holding a sign: "Playboy Presents: Bo's Funky Stuff." While she looks just as fetching as a five-foot cardboard cutout can, she's got nothing on the grass-skirted mannequin in the back, who -- with her dark hair and fringy eyelashes -- is a perfect, plastic, posable Catherine Zeta-Jones. Pop goes the culture weasel at… More >>
  • Best Bargain For High-End Clothing

    Last Chance Bargain Shoes & Apparel

    Materialist hell on Earth is having good taste without the means to acquire good things. Well, enlightened losers, now you can have your career passions while still wearing Cole Haans. Welcome to Last Chance, the final resting place of all the stuff Nordstrom couldn't sell for what it was almost worth. If you don't mind the swap-meet frazzle, and you are… More >>
  • Best Chick-Friendly Head Shop

    Hippie Gypsy

    Even girlie-girls need a place to buy their pipes, screens, pokers and papers, and some are intimidated by shelves of monster-size bongs, ultra-pierced salespeople, tweaker gear, and other non-girlie things liable to adorn the inside of the typical head shop. If you're more tree-huggin' than skull-wearing, you can literally spend days in this Valley looking for a good selection of… More >>
  • Best Place To Dress Your Baby In Cherries

    Petit Chateau - CLOSED

    Cherries happen to be particularly "in" this season -- not as sustenance, but rather as a style element -- and count on Petit Chateau to offer up baby wares adorned with whatever's of the moment, and in the prettiest way possible. This is a great place for moms and baby-gift seekers who need a break from the uniformity of Baby… More >>
  • Best Tchotchke Shop

    Michael Todd's Furniture

    Michael Robertson's latest furniture boutique remains the best place to find great deals on well-worn bibelots. On our most recent visit, we brought home a pair of mahogany-veneer bed tables, a mid-century modern desk lamp, and a Bionic Woman styling head (the spitting image of Lindsay Wagner!), all for less than 50 bucks. A return trip netted us a set… More >>
  • Best Flower Shop

    Fleur de Lis Fine Flowers

    You're nobody, darling, if you don't know Fleur de Lis. It's the florist of choice for the rich and famous in the Valley. An average wedding runs $5,000 with Fleur de Lis flowers. Regular clients are said to spend as much as $525 a week to decorate their mansions. That charity ball designed to funnel funds to cancer? Perhaps $25,000… More >>
  • Best Place For Wardrobe Time-Traveling

    Spine

    These days, the cycle of fashion is so speedy that the amount of time it takes for a piece of clothing to run the full course -- from chic to tacky, then to vintage status -- is barely more than a decade. Not every vintage store owner seems to be aware of that, and some shops' selection is stuck in… More >>
  • Best Old-Time Barber Experience

    Sal's Barber Shop

    It's a guy thing: sitting in an old, hand-crank chair, talking weather and politics with some fellow your dad's age while he trims your hair. For those of us who disdain salons, who want to relive our childhood ear-lowerings, or who just really like the sound and feel of a good, old-fashioned electric razor cut, Sal's Barber Shop is the… More >>
  • best Men's Salon

    Boxers

    Lately, we've been spending more time at Boxers Men's Salon than we have at home. That's because, at home, we can't get a clipper cut, a full-body massage or a shoeshine. At Boxers, on the other hand, we can have our backs waxed, our teeth whitened and our beards trimmed. We can get shaved, have a facial and get a… More >>
  • Best Furniture For Your Groovy Pad

    Go Kat Go

    This place isn't just a store -- it's a lifestyle. That is, if you're into all things "sleazy vintage." We're not talking straight-up Elvis, James Dean and Marilyn. Go Kat Go caters to the cheetah-clad Bettie Pages, the leather-loving greasers and the cocktail-swilling lounge dwellers of the world. Proprietors Chris and Brandi fill their store with a revolving selection of… More >>
  • Best Seinfeldian Experience

    Pink Flamingos Antique Mall

    Before you're halfway through the door, the litany begins: "Hi, welcome to Pink Flamingos. Today all yellow-glazed ceramic from the 1950s is 10 percent off, except for ashtrays and lamps. Also, all Stengelwear, except for serving bowls, is 5 percent off, and anything with a blue-striped price tag -- but not a green-striped tag or yellow-striped tag -- is 30… More >>
  • Best Place To Coordinate The Colors Of Your Aura

    The Enlightened Heart

    Feeling lost, purposeless, out of touch with the angels flitting about inside your soul? (And, really, who isn't?) Get thy seeking self to downtown Gilbert, where the folks at the Enlightened Heart can arrange an Archangel Realm reading to "reveal what training your soul has, and the strengths and challenges inherent with your angelic experience." Finally! The shop's other Intuitive and… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy A Shabby Chic Chandelier

    subtle tones

    This boutique -- barely a chain, as there are only a couple in the country -- is the place to find distressed wood furnishings and frames, casual linen clothing and beautiful beaded necklaces, earrings and even shoes: the essentials of the Shabby Chic ethic. But our favorite find is the gorgeous, straight-from-the-estate-sale-but-these-actually-work chandeliers. Adorned with colorful metal flowers and beads,… More >>
  • Best Legal Copyright Infringement

    Jugos y Licuados/La Salsita Mexican Restaurant #3

    We had to drive by several times to make sure of this one. Some night, if you're barreling south past Camelback on 15th Avenue, you'll see a Mexican juice and taco stand making the most out of a gleaming Arby's sign that happens to be alongside it. Where's the beef, you ask? It's hiding in enchiladas, salads, soups, tortas and… More >>
  • Best Reason To Believe In Old-Fashioned Service

    Gordon Joines in Men's Suits

    We'd given up on getting anything other than attitude from men's department sales clerks until one recent afternoon, when we stumbled into Macy's at the Biltmore in search of a new necktie. We left with armloads of trousers, a new pair of Santoni loafers and a renewed respect for retail sales help -- all thanks to Gordon Joines, whose warm,… More >>
  • Best Music Store

    Central Music

    Music salespeople can sometimes get snotty if you don't instinctively know the difference between Gibson, Fender and Taylor. That's why we love Central Music. They know their stuff, but it's no problem if you don't know yours. Whether you know everything or nothing about your instrument of choice, they will help you get what you need. And they should be… More >>
  • Best Jazz CD Selection

    Zia Record Exchange

    Just for the record, this is decidedly not a jazz town. That said, here's a tip: You don't know what you've been missing. In Europe, Japan and a few more enlightened pockets inside the States, appreciation for jazz rarely has been greater, and with good reason. It's a far fresher genre than you know, especially if you limit your listening… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy New CDs

    Tower Records at Desert Ridge

    Those of you who bemoan the behemoth chain stores conveniently forget the many times Tower Records has saved your ass by having the record you were looking for at the last -- and we mean very last -- minute. Sure, when you're buying CDs for yourself, you can take your sweet time shopping around and getting a used copy of… More >>
  • Best Vinyl Record Store

    Tracks in Wax

    Who are the real music lovers? Some would say it's the MP3 people who obsessively download music from the Internet. This would be true if they actually listened to half the glut they burn, print labels for and file away. No, these are just people who want something for nothing -- and who are never going to listen to all… More >>
  • Best Reason To Relax And Enjoy Your Vacation

    Angel Pet Nanny

    We love to travel, but leaving behind our menagerie (four cats and an obstreperous Dalmatian) can make for tough times away. Or it used to, anyway, before we discovered Angel Pet Nanny. These bonded, insured, animal-loving pet sitters come to call as many times a day as you like while you're off traipsing, and nothing -- not even a doggy… More >>
  • Best Place To Get A Jackalope

    Ron's Taxidermy Studio

    If you love something, set it free; if it doesn't come back, hunt it down and have it stuffed at Ron's Taxidermy Studio. In the Valley for 20 years, Ron Cowper is a state and federally licensed master taxidermist with more than 30 years' experience. At Ron's, all work is guaranteed for life -- or for the remainder of death… More >>
  • Best Place To Find Jesus For Under 10 Bucks

    Autom

    The Autom store is not only a great place to stock up on anointing oil, monastery incense, rosaries and crucifixes, but smart shoppers find the real bargains with proper direction. What Would Jesus Do? He'd bypass the shelves bursting with virgins and saints and head to the back of the store. There, a cart holds large brown paper grab bags,… More >>
  • Best Place To Feed The Need For Beads

    The Bead Museum - CLOSED

    Before visiting this "permanent safe haven for beads," our knowledge of beads was limited to two facts: 1) beads have holes in them; and 2) beads are easy to lose. We had no idea that an entire subculture is devoted to promoting the "appreciation of the historical and cultural significance of beads . . . from ancient, ethnic and contemporary… More >>
  • Best Place To Feed The Need For Weeds

    City of Glendale's Xeriscape Botanical Garden

    Okay, so they're not exactly weeds, but master gardeners we are not. Outside the Glendale Main Library, nearly 1,000 different plant varieties grow on four acres. This collection of rare and unusual flora focuses on native and adapted plants that can be used in xeriscape design, including 600 varieties of low-water-use plants. The shrubs, trees, cactuses and sprouts are sectioned… More >>
  • Best 12-Step Gift Shop

    Gifts Anon

    Gifts Anon carries merchandise for every incarnation of the anonymously recovered, from sparkly "NO CAINE NO PAIN" bumper stickers to kids' books. Look especially for Gangs and Drugs from the "Tookie Speaks Out Against Violence" series -- Tookie being Stanley "Tookie" Williams, co-founder of the Crips, who currently sits on death row, writing children's books in which he introduces the… More >>
  • Best West-Side Day Spa

    Savant

    Our monthly visit to cranky Aunt Betty on the west side always necessitated a calming visit to one of the better day spas in the tonier part of town. That is, until we discovered Savant, a full-service salon with all the comforts provided by better-known beauty stops. Now we save ourselves a drive to Scottsdale by dropping in at Savant's… More >>
  • Best Place To Get Inspired For Halloween

    SAS Fabric by the Pound

    Few things excite us like the phrase "by the pound." Imagine walls of fabric -- piles and shelves of it -- everything from leather to lamé, stacked, hung and rolled into every nook and cranny of SAS's orderless shelves, sans any recognizable categorical system. True, you can't go in looking for something specific unless you have three hours to search… More >>
  • Best Refuge For The Nebraska Diaspora

    Big Red of the Desert

    Sharing a block with a Mexican restaurant and a row of showrooms shilling Southwestern furniture, it sits there like the visiting bumpkin cousin at Christmas dinner. Maybe it doesn't fit in, but we have to count it as one of our own. Big Red of the Desert is a place of safekeeping, a source of succor, for a very specific… More >>
  • Best Mexican Taxi

    Taxi Mayas

    Since the deregulation of the taxi business, the streets of south Scottsdale, Mesa and central Phoenix have been filled with colorful taxis bearing Spanish names and plastered with advertising for everything from Food City to chiropractic doctors. And Mayas Radio Taxis are one of the first and largest squads on the streets. Their cars are clean, colorful and come in… More >>
  • Best Place To Catch A Mexican Taxi

    Food City - CLOSED

    Hands full? No car? No problema! The best place to catch a Mexican taxi is outside the Food City grocery store at 20th Street and McDowell. But for that matter, most Food Citys in Mesa and Phoenix now have lines of cars ready to provide you with their services, whether it's Taxi Azteca, Mayas or one of the many independent… More >>
  • Best Paleteria

    La Michoacana

    Once you step inside the doors of La Michoacana, it's like you're transported back to Mexico. And with good reason. The ice cream recipe it uses is from the original and famous La Michoacana from Michoacán, Mexico -- creamy and flavorful with exotic flavors, like pi˝a, melon, mango, mamey, coco, limon, durazno, horchata, jamaica, tamarindo and sandia, to name a… More >>
  • Best Mexican Dulceria (Candy Store)

    Dulceria Pico Rico

    Sometimes it's good to find yourself surrounded by suckers. Like when you're at a dulceria candy store as cool as Dulceria Pico Rico. Inside you'll find suckers, suckers and more suckers. Some are made to look like a mango and are sprinkled with chile and lime, others are made of goat's milk caramel. How about some watermelon-flavored hard candy with… More >>
  • Best Central And South American Grocery Store

    Pan Americano

    You can find a Mexican carniceria on just about every corner in downtown Mesa, Phoenix, Avondale and Chandler. But if you're in the mood for making some Salvadoran tamales or popusas, then the unique Pan Americano can come to your rescue. Aptly named for the Pan American highway that runs through Central and South America, this is your number one… More >>
  • Best Mexican Takeout

    Phoenix Ranch Market

    Past the pretty wooden façade and row of split rail fencing at Ranch Market sits the Valley's most exciting selection of Mexican staples, desserts, produce, meats, cheeses, seafood and more. The quality is supreme, even if sometimes shocking (a whole beef head, eyes still in, stares at us from the meat case, its open mouth stuffed with an ear of… More >>
  • Best Mexican Bakery

    La Estrella

    Selection and ingredients are what make La Estrella stand out as the Valley's best Mexican bakery. Considering how tiny it is, it has an impressively varied selection of breads that are just too tasty to pass up. The pan de huevo is soft and delicious (because of, we think, the powdered milk Estrella adds to the recipe). Plus, hard-to-find pan… More >>
  • Best Fry Bread

    Fry Bread House

    Forget the leaden treats served at the state fair. Fry bread here is the real thing -- virtually greaseless, a pillowy puff peeking through the softest veil of vegetable oil. But that's the lightest thing about these two-hand monsters, folded over in fat tacos and stuffed with lots of good, goopy fillings. Favorites include a vegetarian, with smoky beans, green… More >>
  • Best Pre-Columbian And Chicano Tattoo Shop

    Fine Art Tattoo

    Although Mexico can claim the origin of some really beautiful pre-Columbian art, Fine Art Tattoo can stake a claim to having one of the best selections in the United States -- especially if the artwork you're talking about is a perfect Virgen de Guadalupe tattoo. In its Thomas Road shop, Aztec, Toltec and Mayan art is beautifully displayed, ready for… More >>
  • Best Place To Find Obscure Ingredients

    Park 'n Swap

    If your local grocery store isn't fulfilling your culinary needs, you just might want to try a different venue. Like the dog track. Volcanic rock molcajetes (grinding bowls), imported moles, hard-to-find cheeses and illegal fruits all are part of what makes the Phoenix Greyhound Park Park 'n Swap a fun day at the races. If it's from Mexico, you are very… More >>
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