BEST 25-CENT CUP OF COFFEE Phoenix 2005 - The Counter at Kierland Commons
This place is so, so darling. Bright white walls, blond-wood everything, and a clean expanse of pale blue mosaic tile behind the namesake counter (which only seats a dozen) create a welcoming atmosphere for anyone who wants to enjoy a cup of dark roast coffee that's as tasty and cheap as they come. But be forewarned: One-half of the store showcases gourmet foods, including treats from Dean & Deluca and Vosges, ready-to-go sandwiches and salads (also available off the menu), and boutique-y booze like Chimay Ale, Sofia Mini, and Lindemans Framboise. The other half of The Counter peddles perfect little gifts to keep for yourself: jewelry, hip CDs and books, groovy Jonathan Adler ceramics and pillows, $50 tank tops, and Jack Spade tote bags. After lingering a while -- and getting as caffeinated as you please -- you're bound to spend more than a quarter.