People & Places

  • BEST PLACE TO SEE AND BE SEEN ON A FIRST FRIDAY

    monOrchid Gallery

    With fresh white walls, great lighting and a dramatically high ceiling, this cavernous warehouse turned gallery space not only does justice to the intriguing art on display, but also to the downtown pretty things who turn up in droves on First Fridays to check out the work as well as each other. Any given month, monOrchid might also be hosting… More >>
  • BEST ART HOUSE MOVIE THEATER

    Harkins Camelview 5

    Aside from the experimental, no-budget "microcinema" events that have popped up in downtown art spaces, the best chance Valley cinema lovers have of seeing the edgiest indie films is at this jewel box of a theater, tucked in the shadow of Scottsdale Fashion Square. While some competition has cropped up recently, it's mostly from within the Harkins chain. (In particular,… More >>
  • BEST ONLINE BULLETIN BOARD

    Craig's List

    Craig's List is a free Internet bulletin board system where you can buy, sell and trade just about everything, as well as cruise personal ads, find a job, or enter into one of many community discussion forums. Created in San Francisco in 1995, Craig's List came to Phoenix in May 2003 and has steadily built up its listings. Although still… More >>
  • BEST BASEBALL STADIUM

    Maryvale Baseball Park

    Noted baseball architects Ellerbe Beckett designed this beautiful facility that serves as home to the Milwaukee Brewers. Built in 1998, and originally planned to house two spring training teams, the Maryvale park is not Bank One Ballpark, and that's why we love it. Sure, you can't see regular-season major league play, but when a game is on in this no-frills… More >>
  • BEST POLITICIAN

    Senator Linda Binder

    The British-born Binder threw the state Legislature into a tizzy last spring when she elected to take her long-planned vacation during the final days of a contentious debate on the budget. Binder already had balked at draconian cuts urged by Republican leadership, and her departure forced the Rs to compromise with Governor Janet Napolitano's proposal. We love her for that.… More >>
  • BEST SEINFELDIAN EXPERIENCE

    Being Waited On by the Lamp Nazi at Modern Lighting

    For fans of all things light-giving, Modern Lighting is the only place to shop. This Phoenix mainstay is as much a gallery of great lamps of all eras as it is a shining shrine that proves how illuminating art can be. It also proves that Seinfeld's Soup Nazi has nothing on Phoenix, where surly shopkeepers like Peter Alper (known in… More >>
  • BEST REASON TO GET UP IN THE MORNING

    The Loser Line

    The Loser Line is arguably the cleverest bit of radio in the Valley, brought to you by the DJ duo of Kid and Ruben S who handle this too-short segment of the morning show perfectly. The premise is simple. Girls can call the station and get a phone number to give to guys -- total losers, of course -- who… More >>
  • BEST SCARY MARQUEE

    Mr. Lucky's - CLOSED

    As if the northwest section of Grand Avenue isn't scary enough after dark, there's that giant Mr. Lucky's vintage marquee that's been putting the "yeeeeeeee" in "yee-haw" for coulrophobiacs (that's clown fearers to you) since the mid-'60s. For the mime dreaders, jack-in-the-box shunners and people who just plain freak out at the sight of Bozo, imagine cowering in the neon… More >>
  • BEST ALTERNATIVE PERFORMANCE VENUE

    The Paper Heart

    In its two prolific years of existence, this performance space/art gallery/espresso bar has graced downtown Phoenix with a wonderfully weird, unpredictable lineup of free or cheap entertainment and cultural happenings, making it a magnet for local creative types. On any given night of the week, Paper Heart might be hosting punk bands, experimental groups or singer-songwriters, improv comedy, spoken word,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR PUBLIC INFORMATION

    Maricopa County Clerk of the Superior Court Records Office

    The records office used to be in a tiny basement room in the county courthouse building at First Avenue and Jefferson. So if you needed, say, a copy of your divorce file, you had to circle the block a few times for an open parking space, then find the basement office, then brave the gridlock of lawyers, paralegals and others… More >>
  • BEST BOWLING CENTER

    AMF Christown Lanes

    From its retro angular roof to its neon lights, Christown Lanes looks like a throwback to bowling's 1950s heyday. But once inside, the 48 shining synthetic lanes designed to enhance the "hook and spin" bowler's game boldly proclaim that Christown is still at the forefront of the Valley's bowling renaissance. The ultra-clean alley sports new carpet, spotless rest rooms and… More >>
  • BEST WOMEN'S GUN CLUB

    Annie Oakley Sure Shots

    There are not many things more annoying than being hit on at a shooting range, or being offered help shooting "that cute little gun." This is why we love the Ben Avery Shooting Facility's Annie Oakley Sure Shots program, and the Thursday "ladies' night." Created to provide a safe atmosphere for women to learn about and practice shooting firearms, the… More >>
  • BEST ODE TO RACING

    Penske Racing Museum

    The Penske Racing Team has been awarded the most wins in the history of racing. So what do you do when you've done everything? Build an 8,000-square-foot museum, of course. At Penske Racing Museum, diehard fans can experience some action in two full-size simulators, on a custom-designed racetrack, or on the off-road course. Then check out the 16 championship winning… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PEOPLE-WATCH

    Mill Avenue, Tempe

    Mill Avenue is the heart of downtown Tempe, and there's no better place to see the pulse of living than this urban strip. Arizona State University brings college kids in proximity, but it's also a popular spot for cruising and hanging out. The voyeur within us likes to sit back and watch the eclectic mix of teens, the young hippies… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR AMERICAN IDOLATRY

    Karaoke Superstore

    Rather than killing us softly with your song, why not swing into this store and set yourself up for private, in-home karaoke humiliation. A mere $67.99 scores the most basic setup, but -- as Britney is well aware -- the more money one invests in equipment, the better one sounds. Fancier systems carry options such as a digital key controller… More >>
  • BEST POST-OP STOP

    The Recovery Room

    Why did the Phoenix Baptist Hospital patient cross Bethany Home Road? To get to the Recovery Room. No joke. After enduring a hospital stay with $23 gelatin cups and flavorless IV drips, dischargees will liken this tavern's food specials to deep-fried manna from heaven. Free chili from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays, 99-cent quarter-pound burgers during NFL games, and… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HOOK UP IF YOU'RE GAY

    Bally Total Fitness - CLOSED

    It seems that the traditional places to pick up men or women have become tired. That ultimate classic, the bar, has become stale and it tends to carry a Cheers quality to it -- you know, "Everyone knows your . . . name." The second is a shot in the dark and scary: the personals. How many horror… More >>
  • BEST PRO ATHLETE

    Brandon Webb

    Six months ago, nobody in Phoenix -- make that nobody in Major League Baseball -- knew the first thing about Brandon Webb. And while Phoenix has yet to realize what a rare gem he is, the rest of the country has jumped on the B-train. Brandon Webb is one of the country's few legitimate rookie pitching phenoms, and he couldn't… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO EAT IN THE CAR

    Cuisine Limousine

    The last time someone took us on a car-dinner date, we were 15, and it involved window service at a roller skating waitress-service hamburger shop. Well, these days, we're substantially older, and our tastes are substantially ritzier. The only vehicle vittles we'll be munching on are the ones in the opulent package offered by Cuisine Limousine. The evening starts with… More >>
  • BEST GALLERY FOR EMERGING ARTISTS

    Art One Gallery Inc.

    Contrary to popular belief, downtown Phoenix isn't the only place to see what up-and-coming Valley creative types are up to. In fact, right in the midst of Scottsdale's prestigious gallery row lies Art One, a cutting-edge art space showcasing the work of talented student artists from area colleges and universities, as well as local artists just beginning to make names… More >>
  • BEST NEW GALLERY

    Perihelion Gallery and Bookstore

    Since it opened less than a year ago, Perihelion has brought the Phoenix art scene to a whole new level. Sure, we already had plenty of spaces for experimental work, and Scottsdale long ago covered the bases on upscale art establishments. But when Perihelion owners Amy Young and Doug Grant came back to the Valley after living in New York… More >>
  • BEST MOVIE SNACKS

    Madstone Theaters

    We rarely answer the costly call of movie snacks, but at Madstone, we make concessions. Boasting biscotti, imported chocolate and an espresso bar, this theater of seduction offers the substantial (turkey and Brie on sourdough) and the sweet (fresh-baked carrot cake, brownies and lemon bars from a nearby bakery). Now that we've feasted on Madstone's soft, hot pretzels, mere Milk… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR SCOOBY TO SCAMPER

    Horizon Park

    Our barker hates to park it. His energy is endless, he absolutely adores other dogs, and on weekends, when we want to take a nap, he wants to run, run, run with his buddies. So it's been a godsend for us both that the City of Scottsdale recently wised up and deemed Horizon Park a permanent Off-Leash Bark Park. Since… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR DOG A DRIVER'S LICENSE

    Fetch Doggie Store

    Having a dog is like having a kid. We need to drive him to the vet, to the doggy park, to the groomer, and on trips out of town (he likes vacations to the forest and the beach). We have to drive to the pet store for kibble and toys. It gets time-consuming. So Fetch Doggie Store has come up… More >>
  • BEST TELEVISION NEWS REPORTER

    Mike Watkiss

    "I've been fired from every job I've had and I'll be fired from this one too," Phoenix's best in-your-face television reporter says with obvious pride. Eschewing cell phones, pagers, and, most incredibly, computers, Watkiss relies instead on his quick wit and the timely thrust of his microphone into the faces of often reluctant newsmakers. Watkiss, with the strong support of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BE A PUNK

    www.AZPunk.com

    Thanks to a local league of punks, all the news punks need to know is advertised on a Web site. And it's got so much information, we have to wonder how its creators even find time to punk (yes, it's a verb, too). There's punk mail, as in a chat room. There are punk classifieds and punk radio favorite recommendations.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SCARE UP A GARGOYLE

    Black Hearts, A Bazaar Noir

    You're looking for a gas mask and a taxidermied chipmunk and a ceramic candleholder shaped like a nun. Wal-Mart has failed you; even Osco doesn't carry black candles. What to do? Race for Black Hearts, where it's Halloween every day. Open at the crack of noon Friday through Monday, this bizarre boutique is your one-stop shop for death-centric items,… More >>
  • BEST INDOOR RACING

    Speedway Indoor Kart Racing

    The smell of exhaust is in the air at Speedway, the Valley's premier indoor kart racing facility. Residents who feel the need for speed can burn rubber on the 75,000-square-foot track -- a challenge for seasoned racers and novices alike. The technical and four-wheel drift turns will test your skills and get your adrenaline racing. Professional timing equipment clocks your… More >>
  • BEST RADIO TALK-SHOW HOST

    Charles Goyette

    Charles Goyette is well-informed, a bit goofy and often irreverent, but that's not why he made the final cut for this award. What made Goyette stand above the madding (and maddening) crowd that populates the Valley's talk-show scene was his unexpected take on the war in Iraq. He was against it, no small deal in this neck of the woods,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR HIGH-FLYING ROMANCE

    Bomber Boudoir

    We already have our Valentine's Day mapped out for next year. We're going to rent the "Bomber Boudoir" and take our sweetie on a trip to the clouds. The BB is a private plane owned by a local doctor, and he takes couples on flights 1,000 feet above the Valley (hint: sunset is awesome). The plane is a funky propeller-driven… More >>
  • BEST USE OF TAXPAYER MONEY

    Freestone Recreation Center

    In a time when most of our tax dollars go into things we can't use (like corporate loopholes and kickbacks), the City of Gilbert has built what is by far the best rec center in metro Phoenix, and offers its use to all Valley residents for a fraction of what it costs to work out anywhere else. At only $2.50… More >>
  • BEST SPANISH-LANGUAGE NEWSPAPER

    La Voz

    Each week, La Voz and Prensa Hispaña duke it out for Spanish-speaking readers. And nearly every week, the edgier, flashier La Voz comes out on top, often breaking stories of importance not only to the Hispanic community but the Anglo world as well. This year has been a particularly successful one for the three-year-old weekly. At the Arizona Press Club… More >>
  • BEST PRO SPORTS TEAM

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    Just when you thought the ride was over indeed, just when the ride should have been over the Arizona Diamondbacks once again provided Valley sports fans with a pleasant surprise: the overachieving, hard-charging "Baby-Backs." When they should have been losing with a stable of injured veterans, they once again found ways to win, this time with a stable of greenhorn… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO WATCH PEOPLE TICKLE THE ORGANS

    Organ Stop Pizza

    Who wouldn't love a giant organ, especially when it comes with a pizza? Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa prides itself as home to a massive 5,000-pipe Wurlitzer, the largest Wurlitzer theater organ in the world. Built in 1927 and revamped and put to use again in 1975, the thing, powered by four huge turbine blowers, totally wails; musicians play everything… More >>
  • BEST NAZI ARTWORK AT A STATE BUILDING

    Arizona State Office Building

    What's in a name? A lot, we learned, during last spring's brouhaha over Squaw Peak. But what do our state leaders do if the offending symbol is actually part of a state building? Not much, apparently. There they are -- swastikas -- carved right into the façade of the Arizona State Office Building in downtown Phoenix, home to… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER

    Sergeant Randy Force

    The Valley has many dedicated professionals who are very good at dealing with the public and the press. And we should know; the media are their biggest customers and often their biggest headaches. But the Phoenix PD's Randy Force has taken the concept of public information to a new level. Three years ago, Force gave up a long-held post in… More >>
  • BEST LITTLE PLAYHOUSE THAT COULD

    Nearly Naked Theatre Company

    We'd sooner eat our playbill than employ that overused phrase "Broadway caliber," but we're struggling to come up with a better description of this teeny troupe's last season. With its letter-perfect production last August of Neil LaBute's humorous morality play The Shape of Things, Nearly Naked set the bar impossibly high. By November, the five-year-old company had surpassed itself with… More >>
  • BEST ZEN EXPERIENCE

    Japanese Friendship Garden

    Leave it to the Japanese to create a serene oasis right in the middle of a desert metropolis. Situated at the south end of the Margaret T. Hance Park, this three-and-a-half-acre refuge is the perfect place for busy urbanites to slow down and contemplate simple beauties: a 12-foot waterfall, a rocky stream that flows into a koi-filled pond, a shore… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY NASCAR MEMORABILIA

    Action

    This is the place to get decked out in the latest NASCAR and racing gear while picking up precision models of your favorite race car. Billing itself as the “full service racing collectibles retail store,” Action has more gizmos with corporate logos than Richard Petty’s jump suit. Dressed out in its new Tempe digs, Action features a complete line of precision… More >>
  • BEST WORLDWIDE WARDROBE

    West Valley Art Museum's Ethnic Dress Collection

    Talk about fashion-conscious. Home to a 972-piece Ethnic Dress Collection, the West Valley Art Museum is the best-dressed museum in the Southwest. Comprising costumes, textiles and ethnographic artworks from more than 75 countries, "The Golden Thread" collection got its start in 1985, when Sun City resident Dorothy Knop donated 356 pieces. (All are illustrated in her book Collections and Recollections:… More >>
  • BEST RADICAL CHICANO CYBERPROPAGANDA

    Ladmo Park Chicano Chronicle

    Although production of the feisty and subversive e-zine has been slow this year, Ladmo Park Chicano Chronicle's recent return to cyber-activism is well-appreciated. The e-zine's mission since its inception four years ago has been "to research, inform, advocate, promote, protect and expose by peaceful means in the best interest of Arizona's Chicanos." LPCC's targets include anyone from former Arizona Republic… More >>
  • BEST ESPRESSO BAR FOR DOGS

    In the Raw

    Do we come here for the fresh-baked muffins -- the carrot-ginger, corn-Cheddar and banana? No. Though the bakers pull the trays of treats from the oven and let them cool in a heady fog of aroma that makes us drool, we're not their customers. The real guests are dogs, here to snack on those muffins and to grocery shop for… More >>
  • BEST UNKNOWN TOURIST ATTRACTION

    Buffalo Museum of America

    If you're stuck with relatives or friends in town, especially in the warmer months, it's tough to find inexpensive and "unique to Phoenix" things to do that don't include shopping. But this gem of a museum, dedicated (yes, we're serious) to the American buffalo, is nestled in the strip mall at the southeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard.… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR KIDS

    Hooters

    Breast-feeding jokes aside, Hooters is a great place to bring the kids. On Saturdays, children under 12 eat free all day, from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. (on a kid-per-adult ratio). And every day of the week, youngsters are greeted with balloons, crayons and gifts -- like a Hooters cup, beads or a Frisbee. The offer's good at all… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY KIDS' CLOTHES

    This Little Piggy Wears Cotton

    Attention, parents. If you're looking to blow that $400 tax credit from George W., head over to This Little Piggy Wears Cotton. For infants, we're partial to the Fattamano layettes. There's a full line of Baby Lulu dresses and onesies -- with wonderful hats to accessorize -- for the girls, and Lucky jeans for the boys. We also love… More >>
  • BEST CHILDREN'S THEATER

    Great Arizona Puppet Theater

    Established in 1983, this theater is housed in a beautiful, renovated downtown church. With a repertoire of more than 50 different fairy tales and original puppet plays, the Great Arizona Puppet Theater tours throughout the state, performing shows and teaching workshops for kids and teachers. The troupe serves more than 400 schools and preschools in the state, and offers private… More >>
  • BEST IN-TOWN GETAWAY WITH THE BABY

    The Phoenician

    So you need to get away from it all, but you're not quite ready to leave the newborn home with a sitter? Escape to the Phoenician. Bring the baby along, but don't bother to take the diaper bag. In your room, you'll find a mini-bar stocked with milk, juice and zwieback crackers, and a crib with a diaper pail… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A BABY GIFT

    2littlemonkeys.com

    What better place to buy a baby gift -- heck, any gift -- than from the comfort of your own computer chair? We tracked down the ladies at 2littlemonkeys.com after a friend sent us a box of velvet-trimmed burp clothes to celebrate a new arrival. Turns out they're right here in the Valley, running one of the best baby Web… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET POP CULTURED

    Toy Anxiety

    Since opening 10 years ago, this toy box has gone from run-of-the-mill geek (Star Wars figurines) to frighteningly specific freak (a 12-inch plastic YS German Anti-Tank Rifle Panzerbchse 39). Combat keepsakes range from historical (Civil War Brotherhood of Arms infantry outfits come in Wisconsin, Georgia, Carolina and Pennsylvania versions) to hysterical (the 21st Century "Armed Terrorist" action figure is deemed… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BALANCE BRAIN AND BRAWN

    Laurita Jiu-Jitsu and Karate Academy

    Kids who kick academic butt can learn to kick literal butt -- on the house -- thanks to this martial arts school's Self-Defense for Grades program. Any honor roll student from any Valley school can cash in that stellar report card for a free month of martial arts lessons -- just call and schedule the first session. This program could… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR NON-PARENTS TO ENTERTAIN KIDS

    CrackerJax Family Fun and Sports Park

    Just because you're not a parent doesn't mean you don't ever have to entertain little ones. And if you're not used to it, you can go from normal, well-adjusted adult to crazy person with PTSD in about 30 minutes. In that case, a place like CrackerJax is Mecca. Even if you are used to the supercharged energy of your average… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR KID'S HAIR CUT

    Cool Cuts

    Mom goes to those salons that smell funny, and Dad goes to those boring barbershops. Getting a haircut is such a drag. Isn't there a place for a kid to go? Cool Cuts specifically caters to the children. The styling chairs are proportional to small bodies and there are even racecar chairs for those who need a little more coaxing.… More >>
  • BEST SPOT TO NUMB YOUR CHILD'S BRAIN

    Jillian¹s of Phoenix

    Truth be told, most parents get downright sick of seeing their youngsters (more boys than girls, according to what we've seen) numb their brains with video games and Skee-Ball. But when it's too damn hot to even go swimming, we've found a notable step up from the cardboard-pizza chains with those disgusting, germ-infested "play areas." This immaculate, warehouse-size, two-story complex… More >>

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