People & Places

  • BEST ELVIS IMPERSONATOR

    Duke Hicks

    Lord almighty, we feel our temperature rising, especially when Mesa resident and diehard Elvis Presley fan Duke Hicks takes to the stage and unleashes his realistic reproduction of the legendary superstar. Having offered up his Elvis imitation act for more than two decades, this delivery man and part-time country musician is arguably one of the longest-lasting King clones in the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO ACT LIKE YOU GOT BIG CHIPS

    The J Bar at the James Hotel

    Even if you ain't got big chips, there are places -- especially in Scottsdale -- where it will behoove you to act as if you do, and the J Bar is one of them. This super-slinky waterin' hole packs in the booful people on peak nights Thursdays through Saturdays, and the high-class chicas therein can smell a scrub coming from… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO FEEL THE WIND UP YOUR SKIRT

    Casino Arizona at Salt River

    Okay, so you're no Marilyn Monroe. Neither are we. But that doesn't mean you don't deserve a little wind up your skirt once in a while, honey. Casino Arizona -- and we're not talking about that big tent off Indian Bend Road, we mean the nice building farther south on the 101 -- has six lounges, three restaurants, keno, 50… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET SOME QUICK CASH

    ZLB Plasma Services

    Settle down, big spender. Just because the bank account is down for the count (and the casino has already cut up your Visa), don't go home just yet. You need cash in a flash -- but wanna avoid turning tricks in the parking lot -- so head for one of ZLB's two locations. Presuming you're drug- and disease-free, have strong… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO LOSE YOUR SHIRT

    Shepherd's Super Soak-Her

    Everyone worships the good Lord in his or her own way. On Fridays, Muslims hit the mosque, and on Saturdays, Jews go a-synagoguing. Christians of many denominations make Sunday their day of prayer, and we fall into this category, although our chapel, if you will, is Shepherd's Nite Club, where communion is in the form of a Jack 'n' Coke,… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO SPEND YOUR WINNINGS

    Aji Spa at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort

    After you've rolled the dice or pulled the slot machine handle one too many times -- and you're ready to quit while you're ahead -- ease those aching limbs over to Aji, part of the resort adjacent to Gila River Casino at Wild Horse Pass. The 17,500-square-foot spa oozes serenity, from the sleek details of the Native American decor to… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DOUBLE DOWN

    Castle Megastore on a Tuesday or Thursday night

    For those of you who don't play blackjack often and who've never seen the buddy flick Swingers, wherein this gambling maneuver is much discussed, doubling down is essentially doubling your bet in mid-play because the odds are in your favor. And what's the best time and place to double down in Casino Phoenix? Tuesdays and Thursdays at any of the… More >>
  • BEST NAME FOR A GAMBLING ADDICTION RECOVERY BUSINESS

    Arizona WinWay Center

    Hey, loser. Having bet your bottom dollar (plus whatever other cash you've "borrowed" lately from kith and kin) and busted yet again, maybe it's time for that intervention everyone keeps casually mentioning. Consider the shrinks at the Tempe-based WinWay Center, if for nothing else but its oh-so-clever name. While other gambling addiction outfits around town offer touchy-feely terms like "hope"… More >>
  • BEST WHALE WATCHING

    Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa

    In casino terms, a whale is a big fish with money to burn: a Shamu-size gambler who can afford the fickle fortunes of wagering, while staying in a posh money pit and enjoying all the amenities due someone of his or her stature. If we think of PHX as a Vegas-style casino, then the best "whale" watching is at the… More >>
  • BEST CHURCH BINGO

    St. Daniel's Catholic Church

    Long before the Valley began blowing its collective wad out on the reservations, bingo was king. While some might call it a quaint throwback, a few local venues still offer up the old-school game of chance, with St. Daniel's being the best. This Scottsdale house of worship, which offers games at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and 1 p.m. on… More >>
  • BEST SAWDUST JOINT

    Bikini Lounge

    In the parlance of gaming, a sawdust joint is a no-frills, lower-end gambling parlor, the kind of place where they might even have sawdust on the floor, but where you can still catch that betting buzz. Now, there's no sawdust on the floor of the Bikini Lounge, and there's not even gambling, unless you're wagering on when the cat next… More >>
  • BEST DUMPSTER DIVING

    The alleys of Willo Historic District

    Willo rules as a trash-picking destination because it has become a neighborhood of upper-middle-class strivers who repeatedly replace their old stuff with new, more upscale stuff. Their grail: turning enough of a profit from the eventual sale of their remodeled Willo house to move across Seventh Avenue to tonier Encanto-Palmcroft. Luckily for the poorer among us, the path of Willo's… More >>
  • BEST CARPET JOINT

    Pussycat Lounge - CLOSED

    Picture the polar opposite of the sawdust joint, and that's a carpet joint, the sort of plush, swank spot that caters to the moneyed and dissolute, the terminally hot, who want nothing more than to rub up on one another while sipping their cosmos. The Pussycat Lounge is the best carpet joint in a city of carpet joints -- Scottsdale,… More >>
  • BEST DOWNTOWN DESTINATION

    City Bakery and Poisoned Pen Central at Bentley Projects - CLOSED

    This is what Phoenix has been waiting for. When Bentley Projects opened its doors a while back, we knew something special was happening. If you haven't been yet, go immediately. Don't be swayed by the "un-Phoenix" location, so far off the beaten path it's actually south of Bank One Ballpark. The Bentley folks wisely enclosed their small enclave and provided… More >>
  • BEST DINNER AND A SHOW

    Bacchanal Greek Restaurant - CLOSED

    Introverts, you've been warned. If you're the wallflower type, stay the hell away from Bacchanal. In addition to gourmet Grecian cuisine -- like succulent lamb capama and mouth-watering moussaka -- this east Phoenix ethnic eatery is famous for its big, fat Greek wedding of food and festivities. A spirited slate of entertainment runs Tuesdays through Saturdays, where patrons, including fraidy-cats… More >>
  • BEST DOWNTOWN BUILDING TO POKE YOUR HEAD IN

    First Studio

    Built in 1949, the "first television studio in Arizona" was once home to KPHO-TV and is headquarters for the most creative collective in town. The building currently houses 15 businesses, including Forsmo Design Works, True Story Films, Rhonda Graphics, and Randy Murray Productions. Lookee-loos are welcome to wander the halls, which are painted a deep red and adorned with original… More >>
  • BEST NEW NIGHTCLUB

    e4

    You might be pimpin' all over the world, like Ludacris, or you might be pimpin' in Old Town as a $30,000-per-annum "millionaire" with a Lexus on lease and a wardrobe by MasterCard. Either way, if you're young, hot and stylish, chances are the glamorous new Scottsdale club e4 is calling your name. The brainchild of founder/CEO Aron Mezo, e4 is… More >>
  • BEST PENTHOUSE

    Security Building

    It was once the lair of Walter Bimson, the late Valley National Bank president and philanthropist whose love of money was equaled only by his love of art. And, beginning this fall, the penthouse at the top of the 77-year-old Security Building will be ground zero for Arizona State University's Phoenix Urban Research Lab (PURL), filled with busy minds looking… More >>
  • BEST MANSION

    Wrigley Mansion

    There's a lot to love about the Wrigley Mansion, built by chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. for his wife, Ada, and now owned by Phoenix's own jazz-playing recluse Geordie "Son of Spam" Hormel, heir to the meatpacking fortune. The interior of the regal mansion is a little dusty and threadbare in places, but the patina only adds to the place's… More >>
  • BEST NEW OUTDOOR MARKET

    Downtown Phoenix Public Market

    This new public market offers an eclectic and always-changing range of Arizona-grown products. Choose from foods such as organic fruits and veggies from Queen Creek's One Windmill Farms, cactus jellies over at Cotton Country Jams, and diabetic-friendly sweets from TJ's Good Cookie -- and that's just a start. Navigate around dog owners and mothers pushing strollers to the beat of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DRINK IN THE RAIN

    AZ 88

    When the weather's just right, we like to sip a vodka martini on the perfectly appointed patio at AZ 88, with the rest of the beautiful people. When it's too hot, we'll crowd up against them at the bar. Last time we were there, it drizzled, but instead of ushering the B.P.s indoors, the staff handed out black umbrellas, a… More >>
  • BEST OUTDOOR MARKET

    Camelback Market at Vincent's

    This tiny parking lot market closes during the hot months (June through September), but when it's up and running, it's one of the best reminders of why we live here. Where else in the country can you relax outside on a sunny morning in, say, March, contemplating the state of the world over coffee and some chocolate soufflé, or a… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A TWILIGHT DRINK

    jade bar

    Every year, the sunsets in the Valley just seem to get better and better. We'd tell you that's because of the increase in pollution, which, at twilight, lights the sky on fire with pinks and oranges. But that would be a buzz kill. Better to simply send you over to the jade bar -- the bar adjacent to elements, the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HEAR LIGER REFERENCES

    Tempe FLASH Stops

    Thousands of people head to Tempe each year to learn. Arizona State University's campus is a hotbed of artistic and engineering ingenuity. Just think, you can even learn something new on the free ride around campus. The Tempe Free Local Area Shuttle (FLASH) is the perfect spot to get an education on ligers. Now, during the time it takes you… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE

    Segway tour at Westin Kierland Resort

    For a first date sure to set you apart from every other yahoo who attempted to impress your paramour before you, hook up with the concierge at the ritzy Westin Kierland Resort in north Scottsdale for a semi-guided ride on the hotel's fleet of $5,000 Segway scooters. Merely stepping on the high-tech gyroscopic "human transport" devices is instant fun --… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET BUSTED

    Clarendon Hotel and Suites

    Downtown Phoenix's answer to Scottsdale's James Hotel snags the above category not because you might get busted by the po-po if you have one too many of Carson Quinn's martinis at the Camus bar/restaurant and then try to drive home. There's another reason. In the lobby of this newly renovated, baby-blue boutique hotel is a lifelike bust of AZ's legendary… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO EAT AT THE BAR

    Roaring Fork

    What's that sexy look in Roaring Fork proprietor/chef Robert McGrath's eye? Yeah, baby, Chef Robert knows what you want and just how you like it: His signature 12 oz. Big Ass Burger with roasted green chiles, long horn cheese, bacon, grilled onion, and fries, served only at the restaurant's saloon. That burger alone would be enough to net McGrath top… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET COFFEE WITH A POLITICO

    Starbucks

    Phoenix City Councilman Tom Simplot has long been seen as a civic booster, advocate of the local arts scene, and patron of mom-and-pop businesses. So why the heck does the friendly official, who represents Phoenix's District 4, regularly grab a mid-morning java jolt at the Starbucks outlet located in Park Central Mall? Don't worry, Simplot hasn't sold out to the… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO EAT AND DRINK LIKE GODZILLA

    Tokyo Tuesdays at Ra Sushi Bar

    Hey, you! Yeah, we're talking to you. You got a Godzilla-size appetite? Then get your fill of Japanese food and stiff cocktails during Tokyo Tuesdays at Ra Sushi Bar. From 8 p.m. to midnight, Ra serves up monster-themed drinks and menu offerings while screening classic Godzilla and martial arts films. Come give your best impersonation of those cheesy voice-overs and… More >>
  • BEST GOP GOSSIP SHEET

    West Washington

    At $179 for a year's subscription, former state senator Stan Barnes' biweekly newsletter is no bargain. But the deftly titled West Washington is a good source for inside-the-statehouse gossip, particularly if you're looking for the skinny on Barnes' GOP pals and the political minutiae of who voted which way, and why. Barnes, who most recently lost a bid to… More >>
  • BEST HAPPY HOUR

    Susie's Mexican Cafe

    We've had a long, hard day of keeping our noses to the grindstone, but now it's quitting time and we're plenty parched. We need a place to quench our thirst and drown our sorrows, cheap. While nearly every local bar, tavern and saloon offers the ubiquitous happy hour, few are as inexpensive as this popular cantina-style Mexican eatery located on… More >>
  • BEST POLITICIAN

    Governor Janet Napolitano

    Sure, we've picked on Governor Janet in the past, but only because we have such high expectations for our favorite daughter. The 47-year-old University of Virginia law school graduate is on track to become the next major national political figure to emerge from our fair state. She's already served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona and was… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET DRUNK ON A DIME

    Blaze Nightclub

    Find a penny, buy a drink: Every Friday and Saturday night, Blaze hosts "1 Cent Night," where lushes can enjoy penny U-Call-Its from 8 to 11 p.m. The special includes top-shelf liquors like Hennessy, Hypnotiq, and Kahlúa, so your dates will think you're spending lots of moola for them to imbibe, when you're really not spending any more than you… More >>
  • BEST SMALL-TOWN MAYOR

    Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon

    Is Phil Gordon really the mayor of the fifth-largest city in the nation? If so, why does his "vision" for downtown look strangely like Ahwatukee? Whether it's making sure Phoenix library computers are filtered, the endorsement of wing-nut County Attorney Andy Thomas, or the addition of "front porch" benches at Sky Harbor Airport -- part of his cornball campaign for… More >>
  • BEST BYOB

    Giuseppe's on 28th

    We don't like whining about wine, but the vino prices at restaurants these days are through the roof! All we want is a little bottle of Chianti or a nice Pinot Noir to slurp with our meal, but the bottle that costs you $12 at Cost Plus might go for two or three times that much in the most modest… More >>
  • BEST FLASHBACK TO THE '80S

    Spotting Charles Keating at El Portal

    Halfway through our huevos rancheros, he walked through the door, like a prune-faced version of Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter: a ghost of Christmas past embodying all the corruption, avarice and prudish anti-porn politics of the Reagan years. Could it be, out from whatever rock he'd been hiding under since serving four and a half years in the federal… More >>
  • BEST DRUNK FOOD

    Durant's debris

    With the ghosts of such renowned tipplers of yore like John Wayne and Jack Durant roaming the place, it's no wonder that this Phoenix classic serves what we regard as the best drunk food ever conceived on the face of the planet. Indeed, after our fifth or sixth Crown and Coke, what we want is a plate or two of… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER

    Lisa Allen MacPherson

    If dodging and delaying are the hallmarks of a great director of communications, then Lisa Allen MacPherson is the grand master of flackdom. It's MacPherson who is responsible for turning Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio into a worldwide celebrity, with an endless stream of ridiculous publicity stunts meant to advance Joe's tough-guy persona, ranging from pink underwear to starving inmates… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BEER

    Kiltlifter Scottish-Style Ale

    Life is short, pallie. Nothing's guaranteed in this crazy-ass world, except that eventual date with Doctor Death, and the fact that The Man owns your ass from diapers to dust. So what's the point? Is it all so bad people will burn in Hades and goody two-shoes and snitches will get to strap on wings and kiss God's blessed hiney… More >>
  • BEST REPUBLICAN BABE OF THE WEEK

    Special Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Alexander

    We certainly don't begrudge this up-and-coming pal of County Attorney Andy Thomas for her striking good looks. Cool-looking blondes in business suits actually do something for some of us. Nor do we care much either way about her political persuasion, which runs along the lines of fellow onetime "Republican BABE of the Week" honorees Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham (go… More >>
  • BEST BREW PUB

    Rock Bottom at Desert Ridge Marketplace - CLOSED

    Imagine 40,000 gallons of beer on the wall. That's what the Rock Bottom brewery chain produces every year, using the finest hand-selected hops and malted barley from Yakima Valley in the Northwest. Rock Bottom's got three other Valley locations (see the Web site for locales in Glendale, Ahwatukee and Scottsdale), but the Desert Ridge location boasts brewmaster Brian Helton, who… More >>
  • BEST TV REPORTER

    Lew Ruggiero

    He's looking a little bit grumpier these days, and we like it! Maybe ol' Lew misses his pal Kent Dana. Or maybe Channel 12's got him doing double duty with the "Storm Team." Nevertheless, having the Valley's top TV newsman getting a little bit ornery in the twilight of his career is a great thing for local news. Lew's smart,… More >>
  • BEST MARTINI

    Camus at the Clarendon Hotel

    We have no earthly idea what you're going to do once you finish reading all these Best Ofs. Change your underwear finally, we hope. But we do know what we're doing once we're finished writing all these puppies: heading over to the Clarendon's Camus restaurant and bar, where we plan to grab a stool and ease into one of Carson… More >>
  • BEST TV NEWSCASTER

    Kent Dana

    If local TV is a numbers game, Kent Dana wins hands down. Take, for instance, the five-year deal he signed with Channel 5 last October, rumored to be for an astonishing $650,000 a year. In May's Nielsen ratings, a month after Dana officially defected from NBC affiliate KPNX Channel 12 to take over the anchor chair at CBS-5, KPHO was… More >>
  • BEST MOJITO

    Sierra Bonita Grill

    Here's how to mix a good mojito: Take a lime and put it into the microwave for about 20 seconds. This makes it easier to extract the juice from the bugger. Squeeze into a tall mortar (a bowl will do, if you are as ill-equipped as we are). Add a tablespoon of sugar, plus four or five washed mint leaves.… More >>
  • BEST MORNING RADIO

    The Morning Ritual

    Before Howard Stern and the emergence of shock jocks, morning DJs actually relied on shtick to keep listeners tuned in. The Morning Ritual crew at The Edge must be some old-schoolers, because from 6 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, ringleader Chuck Powell and sidekicks Vince Marotta, Drew Hutchinson, and obligatory hot chick Heather Lewis (who does not, in fact,… More >>
  • BEST COSMO

    Portland's - CLOSED

    We know, we know, Sex and the City is so 2004. Everyone who's anyone is now watching Entourage. But can we help it if we developed a strong attachment to Carrie Bradshaw's favorite drink, the cosmopolitan? We know vodka sales skyrocketed along with Sex's ratings, and we intend to keep sales high. And ourselves a little high, too, on the… More >>
  • BEST NEWS RADIO

    KXXT-AM 1010

    We'll admit that KXXT, the local Air America affiliate, has a bit of a bias. Okay, it's a self-proclaimed liberal station. But the bleeding hearts still deliver the news in this town with more fervor, passion and personality than the stiffs at the other two big AM news stations or even the brilliant geeks on the local NPR affiliate. (And… More >>
  • BEST SANGRIA

    Havana Cafe

    We never tire of visiting the various Havana Cafes owned and operated by B.J. and Gilbert Hernandez. This year, we recognize them for their sangria, that fruity, blood-red Spanish libation that elsewhere can seem so drab and bland, but at Havana Cafe is terribly refreshing and bursting with flavor. Three-quarters of the chilled drink is a blend of Merlot and… More >>
  • BEST (FORMER) RADIO TALK-SHOW HOST

    David Leibowitz

    We didn't tune in to David Leibowitz as much as we knew we should. The ads on KTAR are just too obnoxious. But recently, we forced ourselves to sit through demands that we refinance our home or eat at P.F. Chang's, just to hear Leibowitz bat it back and forth with callers who wanted to complain about the victims of… More >>
  • BEST MELONBALL

    Stray Cat Bar and Grill - CLOSED

    When your mixed drink of choice is the melonball, and it seems to be made differently (and usually poorly) at every bar in the Valley, you start to feel like maybe you should just order a friggin' screwdriver. Most of the time, when you do ask for a melonball, you get a drink made of mostly orange juice, a smidge… More >>
  • BEST CLASSICAL MUSIC STATION

    KBAQ-FM 89.5

    It's easy to remain the city's best classical station when you're the only game in town. But KBAQ takes an active role as the Valley's sole classical connection, operating one of the most active production studios and mobile recording units in NPR land, and offering live performance broadcasts by visiting international artists as well as showcasing members of the ASU… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, CENTRAL PHOENIX

    Shady's

    This newcomer has just the right features to keep us coming back. First of all, Shady's is no townie hangout. Its cool, understated coziness -- a compact bar, black upholstered banquettes and booths, a single pool table -- attracts a crowd that's young, good-looking, and interested in more than simply getting hammered. There's also a killer jukebox stocked with classic… More >>
  • BEST HIP-HOP RADIO STATION

    KKFR-FM Power 92.3

    Power 92.3 dominates hip-hop in the Valley of the Sun, dropping the livest mix of what's popular now, from the Ying Yang Twins and David Banner to Mike Jones and Pretty Ricky, while staying true to the old-school, like Dr. Dre, Snoop, N.W.A and others. They keep it poppin' with radio personalities that could easily make it in a bigger… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, NORTH PHOENIX

    Joe's Grotto

    One might assume that Joe Grotto is a bit pompous, given that he named his north Valley speakeasy after himself. But after you encounter the friendly and down-to-earth owner (if you can manage to flag him down as he eagerly interacts with customers, that is), you'll discover how appearances can often be deceiving. The same goes for Joe's drinking establishment.… More >>
  • BEST ALTERNATIVE ROCK RADIO STATION

    KEDJ-FM 103.9

    The Edge takes its "Independent Radio" tag line seriously, giving its DJs leeway to spin little-played alt-rock oddities and aggressively seeking input from listeners. The "Insider Lounge" feature on the station's Web site, promising listeners a say in what gets played on the station, too often ends up functioning like a telemarketing survey, but the Edge Insiders Download offers exclusive… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, WEST VALLEY

    Amber Inn Cocktail Lounge

    Nowhere is the west side's rough-and-tumble reputation more apparent than at the adult playground of sorts available at this tavern. Barflies from miles around amble into the Amber Inn for grown-up thrills, whether it's the arcade claw machine stocked with triple-X DVDs and other porno novelties; the virtual poker games over the bar's interactive NTN trivia system; raucous karaoke nights… More >>
  • BEST COUNTRY RADIO STATION

    KNIX-FM 102.5

    Shortly before his passing in February of 2002, Arizona outlaw country legend Waylon Jennings memorably schooled KNIX morning personalities Tim and Willy on the air. In answer to the duo's mock "We're not worthy!", Jennings replied, "Then why don't you play my music?" Jennings still doesn't get much play on KNIX, which continues to favor the mainstream country-western fare… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, SOUTH PHOENIX

    Federico's Bar and Pool Hall

    For many Valley urbanites, the portions of Phoenix located south of Interstate 17 might as well be south of the border. Ask 'em for the hookup on any hip hangouts or cool clubs among the blighted badlands of junkyards, dollar stores, or industrial parks, and you'll usually get blank stares or suggestions of "Um . . . Applebee's?" instead. If… More >>
  • BEST ROCK RADIO STATION

    KUPD-FM 97.9

    The station may have long ago lost its Morning Mayor, Dave Pratt, but John Holmberg has proven a worthy successor to this FM-dial throne. His "Morning Sickness" reality program has helped build a loyal listener base rivaling Pratt's in just under four years. The music is still pure Ozzfest fare, with bands like Nine Inch Nails, Sevendust, Velvet Revolver, and… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, TEMPE

    Casey Moore's

    Approaching its 20th anniversary, Casey's is still the best place to hang if you're too cool for school -- namely, nearby Arizona State. Whether you're a hipster art student or a slacker fifth-year senior, chillin' at Casey's with a plate of crab cakes and a mug of Guinness (and blowing off that 3:15 class on a Tuesday afternoon) is a… More >>
  • BEST BLUES/JAZZ RADIO STATION

    KJZZ-FM 91.5

    By day, Valley jazz fans must rely on their iPods, or make do with the inferior smooth jazz served up on KYOT, until KJZZ switches over from its National Public Radio talk feed at 7 p.m. From then until 3 a.m., though, it's all smooth sailing, with the station's "acoustic jazz" format giving blessed airplay to Miles, Byrd, Coltrane, Dizzy… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, SCOTTSDALE

    Mardi Gras Bar and Grill - CLOSED

    Turns out that drunks and dickheads aren't the only things that've been 86'ed from this roadhouse, as boredom and pretentiousness are equally verboten. Despite this club's hot spot in the shadows of Scottsdale, there's nary a posturing person to see or be seen among a diverse throng of pierced and tattooed patrons, trendy college kids, working stiffs from the General… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL PODCAST

    The Dragonpage's "Wingin' It!"

    Operated out of local sci-fi writer Michael Mennenga's crowded home office in northeast Phoenix, "Wingin' It!" is a freewheeling weekly gab fest hosted by Mennenga and his pal, Web designer and practicing herbalist Evo Terra. Ostensibly a show dedicated to science fiction and fantasy books, "Wingin' It!" takes off on any number of geeky tangents, often rambling about podcasting itself,… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, SOUTHEAST VALLEY

    Pecos Lounge - CLOSED

    A thought struck us the other day as we sipped a rum and Coke while maxing and relaxing inside this, our newest favorite watering hole: This place is definitely chill. Maybe it's all the fans and vents blasting freezy freshness throughout this darkened shelter from the sun, or perhaps it's the refreshing specialty drinks like the Blue Lagoon (a breezy… More >>
  • BEST PRISON BLOG

    Jon's Jail Journal

    Unlike other blogs where people yammer about what they had for breakfast or who they ran into at the mall, "Jon's Jail Journal" is worth reading, thanks to its dry British wit and clever word play. The author is convicted Arizona ecstasy ring leader "English" Shaun Attwood. Convicted in 2002, the yoga-practicing, book-loving former stockbroker has been penning his ponderings… More >>
  • BEST GAY BAR

    BS West

    BS West is absolutely one of the friendliest clubs you'll ever party at, whether you're bi, gay, straight, or none of the above. Hidden in Scottsdale's back streets (despite its Fifth Avenue address), the party's always pumpin', with enough stud muffins in attendance to make a het fella rethink his sexuality. It's got the feel of a two-story gay frat… More >>
  • BEST ARGUMENT FOR MANDATORY GEOGRAPHY LESSONS

    The Arizona Republic, May 11, 2005

    We're big fans of the Republic's "Today's News Briefing" section, with its super-short stories about global hot spots keyed to a world map. But the paper's effort on May 11 was off the map -- literally. One of that day's briefs informed us that "President Bush brings words of support for Georgia's democracy and its wish to join NATO… More >>
  • BEST LESBIAN BAR

    Ain't Nobody's Bizness

    There was a time when people were afraid that "The Biz" would be a victim of its own success. The Valley's oldest lesbian bar is also its best-known, and if straight people know about only one gay bar in the city, it's The Biz. But what makes this bar so popular for people of any sexual orientation is not just… More >>
  • BEST POSTHUMOUS MEMORY OF HUNTER S. THOMPSON

    Way back in 1986, the late Mr. Thompson showed up at our fine offices on East Jefferson Street with a beer in one hand and a joint in the other. He had this comment: "I want to find out who killed Don Bolles, and I want to start at the dog track." (Or words to that effect; memory does fade.)… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR GUYS TO WATCH GIRLS GRIND ON EACH OTHER

    Axis/Radius - CLOSED

    We swear, if we took our mom to Ain't Nobody's Bizness, then drove her across town to Axis/Radius, she'd think the Scottsdale club was the lesbian bar. Everybody knows that the gals in the stylish Scottsdale clubs are stone-cold hotties, with their low-cut shirts and skirts so tight they could have been painted on. But at Axis/Radius, they let it… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL CAMEO IN A NATIONAL MURDER TRIAL

    Genna "Jordie" McCallie and Kathy "Katie" Monkman

    These two court watchers from Tempe never meant to insert themselves into the middle of the Scott Peterson trial. Really. They were just in Redwood City, California, trying to get a coveted seat in the courtroom -- the next logical step for two Court TV obsessors, who'd made names for themselves as frequent posters on the Court TV Web site… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET A TRANNY

    Cruisin' Seventh

    Our desert metropolis has everything, including a place where one can pick up a lady with a little something extra, if you know what we mean. These unique gals congregate for libations and laughter at Cruisin' Seventh, a queer neighborhood dive that's become popular with transgender and transsexual types. Entertainment by such drag performers as Ineda Buffet, Devina, and Evelyn… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL CAMEO IN PEOPLE MAGAZINE

    Wendy Cracchiolo

    So there we were, holed up in the dentist's office on a hot afternoon in June, having waited for hours and having read the last six issues of The Atlantic cover to cover, when, out of desperation, clean out of anything smart to read, we picked up a copy of People. Oh, who are we fooling? We bought People… More >>
  • BEST GAY LEATHER BAR

    Padlock

    Locating this nightspot can be difficult if you're not a leather queen or at least a fan of same, since the Padlock has no flashy sign, just a giant black and blue flag (which means "Trusses and biker caps in here, lads!") painted on the front wall. Inside, dungeon decor and dartboards are the play stations of bare-chested, buff and… More >>
  • BEST AUTHOR WHO LEFT TOWN

    Laurie Notaro

    Laurie, we hardly knew ya. That's so totally a lie. After countless years as a columnist at every rag in town (but this one) from Planet to the Arizona Republic, and -- count 'em -- four books of essays, we know everything about Laurie Notaro. Everything, from the time she tried out to be a Playboy bunny to the time… More >>
  • BEST POOL HALL

    Groggy's

    A pool hall, as opposed to a billiards parlor, should be comfortable but with an edge. The kind of place where no one tells you to take your feet off the neighboring barstool; where the drinks are strong, a game costs 50 cents, the sticks are straight, and chalk is plentiful. You want a place where people treat each other… More >>
  • BEST AUTHOR WHO LEFT TOWN AND CAME BACK

    Tania Katan

    What's a nice Jewish girl like Tania Katan doing in a place like Phoenix? Very well, thank you. Katan was raised (at least partially) in the Valley, a proud graduate of McClintock High in Tempe, and she escaped to assorted environs including San Francisco and Long Beach, according to her book, My One-Night Stand With Cancer, which you really should… More >>
  • BEST ENGLISH PUB

    George & Dragon English Restaurant and Pub

    It's hard to resist the charms of a bar that serves up both darts and bangers and mash, which is why George & Dragon is our pick as the best English pub in town. A low-key spot, it's bigger on comfort than style, catering to football hooligans and people who like a good pint -- real Brits, in other words,… More >>
  • BEST CHUTZPAH

    Martha Beck

    Even before its publication, Martha Beck's Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith was causing cramps among Latter-day Saints around the globe. Which is one of several reasons we're proud of Beck's Phoenix connection (she now lives here), right up there with her "I'm not gonna take it" attitude, her regular column in O magazine,… More >>
  • BEST IRISH PUB

    Fibber Magees Irish Restaurant & Pub

    We've picked Chandler's Fibber Magees as the Best Irish Pub again for one salient reason: To be a great Irish pub, you not only have to have great drink, an authentic atmosphere, and Irish music, you also have to have a solid Irish menu, one that does more than give lip service to the cuisine of the Emerald Isle. More… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SNATCH A PURSE

    The Old Bags Luncheon

    We've gotta tell you, if we have to go to one more charity luncheon, we're going to puke up our chicken plate. We gave at the office, sweetie -- now can we go to the mall and shop? Here's exciting news from the society scene: Now there's a charity luncheon where you can actually pick up a fabulous handbag (one… More >>
  • BEST HOOKAH BAR

    Red Sea Hookah Lounge

    If you regard pitas, shish kebabs and belly dancers as a distraction to your hookah pipe smoking, then the Red Sea Hookah Lounge is the place for you. The Red Sea isn't a restaurant; it's a straight smoking joint. Sprawl on the velvet love seats and order up a water pipe of tobacco in flavors like mango, blueberry and peach.… More >>
  • BEST YENTA

    Bonnie the Matchmaker

    Her Web site doesn't provide hook-ups for the lovelorn, because Madame Matchmaker says the best way to meet your one true love is by exploiting her peculiar talent for tying people's knots. And if Bonnie Wills should maybe disdain online dating services, who are we to judge? She is, after all, responsible for hundreds of local marriages, and, if she… More >>
  • BEST STRIP CLUB

    The Penthouse Club

    A veritable seraglio of heterosexual sin that could turn one of those altar-boy-caressin' Father Feelgoods in the Catholic Church into a red-meat-eatin' lover of the female form, this palatial chichi emporium boasts 160 of the finest dames in the Valley, each of them getting half-nekkid just for you. Penthouse also offers up 10,000 square feet of flashing lights, plush chairs,… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL STAG MAG

    Playtime

    L.A. has Hustler. Chicago has Playboy. New York has Penthouse. So what does P-town have in response? Playtime, fool. If you haven't seen it, Playtime is glossier than 944, with content we're a hell of a lot more interested in perusing. Its purview is the PHX's extensive strip-club scene, one of the largest in the nation, as well as all… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SHOW YOUR BOOBS

    Coyote Hill Bar and Grill

    Tits, bazooms, chi-chis, ta-tas, melons, jugs. No matter what you call them, if you want to be the queen bee of Coyote Hill, you have to be willing to show them off a time or two. At this popular nightspot just three miles north of Glendale Arena, DJ Mikey Mike hosts "Bead Night" every Friday and Saturday, during which he… More >>
  • BEST WAY FOR STRAIGHT WOMEN TO HOOK UP WITH LESBIANS

    Craigslist

    The "Women Seeking Women" and "Casual Encounters" personal ads on the Phoenix Craigslist Web site overflow with headlines like "Woman seeking woman for first lesbian encounter"; "Yet another bi-curious twenty year-old"; "dying to have my first experience with a woman"; "looking to learn"; "Bi Curious/Can't get it out of my mind"; and "would like to try something new." The faceless… More >>
  • BEST DANCE FLOOR

    Barcelona

    A big, swank Spanish restaurant by evening, by night Barcelona becomes a meat market pulsing with dance tunes and beautiful people on the prowl. Most nights, count on a DJ who knows how to keep the place hopping or a band that does a decent job covering good dance tunes. But unlike lesser clubs, Barcelona never feels ridiculously crowded or… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO HOOK UP IF YOU'RE HOMELY

    Livelinks

    Geeky guys of the Valley, take note. Ever seen those licentious late-night commercials for local interactive date lines? Usually they're squeezed between the oh-so-mockable Goldberg & Osborne advertisements, starring hot-to-trot hotties who probably wouldn't let your unphotogenic ass buy them an overpriced martini at Myst. While these intimidating adverts have kept you from calling, the truth is that these beauties… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO FOX-TROT

    Johnny's Uptown

    All these new ballroom-dance-related reality shows and feature films have us craving a smooth spot to glide across a dance floor. The place that comes to mind is a jazz club tucked quaintly into a corner of Uptown Plaza at Central Avenue and Camelback Road. Johnny's Uptown caters to those with aspiring twinkle toes. Its modest-size dance floor is set… More >>
  • BEST FREE PEEP SHOW

    Prieto's Auto Sales infomercials on KGF Channel 53

    If you're a lad on the lookout for some no-cost titillation, break out your rabbit ears and tune to KGF Channel 53, the UHF Spanish station, which runs amazing infomercials for Prieto's Auto Sales that air at varying times Thursdays through Sundays. We're talkin' some real skin on a real skinflint's budget. Broadcast from each of the used car dealership's… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS BAR

    BJ's Sports Bar and Grill

    If you need a place to sit back with a bottle of beer while watching a game, a place where you can sing your troubles away to an off-pitch karaoke song, or a place to rock along with local bands, BJ's is where you'll best land. And before you try to score points with a giggle at this hopping spot's… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC ACCESS SHOW

    SWWF Rampage

    There was nothing good on television the other night, so we started surfing through all 550 channels of dreck until the sight of some skinny teenagers smacking each other around with kendo sticks caught our eye. It looked like an episode of Viva La Bam, but it turns out we had just tuned to local public access (Cox channel 98… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET MOONED

    Half Moon Sports Grill

    Don't expect any alone time in either of the restrooms at Half Moon, an upscale sports bar that caters to corporate lackeys looking to unwind -- and to undress, apparently. Each restroom has what appears to us to be a strategically located video camera mounted in a corner, pointed right at you. It's not uncommon to find a gaggle of… More >>
  • BEST REALITY SHOW FLOP WITH A PHOENIX CONNECTION

    The Will

    A few days before Penny Long made her reality TV show debut last January on CBS' The Will, the Arizona Republic ran a feature on the Cave Creek woman predicting that "You will read about her in Us Weekly, . . . spot her on Access Hollywood, and come into work on Monday morning and talk Penny, Penny, Penny .… More >>
  • BEST FAKE VOLCANO

    Hurricane Bay - CLOSED

    Standing nine feet tall, weighing in at five hundred pounds, this enormous monstrosity can put any bar mascot to shame. Set at the entrance of Hurricane Bay in north Phoenix, a giant replica of a volcano inspired by Mount Wannahockaloogy from the Disney movie Finding Nemo transports patrons directly to the Islands. Complete with a waterfall and smoke billowing from… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE AN INDIE FLICK

    Tempe Pollack Cinemas

    Owned by local real estate investor Michael A. Pollack, this funky modern theater boasts a lobby filled with video games, autographed photos, and life-size cardboard figures of celebrities, which patrons love to use for funny photo ops. But the truly edgy stuff happens on the big screens, where award-winning indie films make their Valley premières, and artsy repertory films get… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BE SEEN

    The Gelato Spot

    Sure, you can see and be seen all night long in the clubs, but in some circles, gelato has become the new nightcap -- and everyone who's anyone is slurping it up. It's a true Experience, hanging at The Gelato Spot, which shares a strip mall with Zen 32, Delux, and Hava Java. On a recent visit we spotted… More >>
  • BEST STAR GAZING

    Moonlight Movies

    Turns out Phoenicians prefer Ferris Bueller to The Birds. This completely unscientific observation took place this summer, during Phoenix City Councilman Tom Simplot's Moonlight Movies series. The movies, shown in the amphitheater at Steele Indian School Park, drew revelers of all ages, who picnicked before the movies, and munched on popcorn and ice cream for sale by vendors through the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE NOT TO BE SEEN

    Chez Nous

    If you're up to no good and don't want the whole town to know about it, there's no better place to hide out than this funky, thoroughly dark central Phoenix watering hole. The Valley's version of Hernando's Hideaway has a great retro vibe, a thoroughly diverse clientele, and just enough smoke (and so little light) that total discretion is a… More >>
  • BEST CHAIN WE'RE GLAD IS A CHAIN

    Harkins Theatres

    We curse Dan Harkins every time some kid asks us to upsize our popcorn (didn't the movie magnate see Super Size Me?), but Dan, we're still glad your mother gave birth to you in the Valley Art Theatre, and that you held onto the space -- and the more than 200 theaters Harkins Theatres has subsequently opened since 1933. … More >>
  • BEST DIVE BAR

    Palo Verde Lounge

    There's no explanation for a place like the Palo Verde. Dude, this place should be on an episode of Ripley's Believe It or Not. By everyone's admission, even the regulars, the PV is a dive. Outside, the junky brick building looks like it might house a meth lab or a massage parlor. Inside, it's bare bones: a jukebox, two pool… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOY MAKES GOOD

    Sean Anders, Never Been Thawed

    The director, star and co-writer of Never Been Thawed, a tiny masterpiece of an indie film, deserves nods not only for creating a sweetly acerbic, nicely acted local film, but for helping to bust up the post-PC etiquette that's still dogging us into the new millennium. Anders' snarky send-up of all things sacred about a collection of young losers who… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO WATCH BIKERS BREAK-DANCE

    Dirty Dogg Saloon

    Dirty Dogg Saloon may be a "biker bar," but don't be scared. The hot Harleys and other shiny chrome hogs out front belong mostly to middle-aged moneymakers and thirtysomething trendsetters. After all, we're talking about a bar in a Scottsdale strip mall. Some of the fellas still look pretty rough, though, covered in old, faded tattoos, with a few teeth… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL MAKES GOOD

    Emily Stone as Laurie Partridge

    When VH1 asked the musical question "Doesn't Somebody Want to Be Laurie?", Phoenix ponied up with lovely young Emily Stone, who took off on a race to be the next Laurie Partridge. First, she appeared on the music network's In Search of The Partridge Family, a quasi-American Idol in which the original cast of the '70s sitcom introduced kids (and… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DRINK WITH BIKERS WITHOUT GETTING YOUR ASS KICKED

    Hardtailz Bar and Grill

    Check your attitude at the door. Hardtailz caters to bikers, but it's no place for assholes. You don't have to have tattoos or grease under your fingernails to get a fresh drink as soon as yours runs dry. Unlike some other places where strange faces are greeted with suspicion or indifference, everyone is welcome here, whether they get around on… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOY MAKES SHOES

    George Mang

    You'll only find a small picture of Scottsdale native George Mang on his own Web site, but you will see a bevy of the hottest stars in Hollywood -- and they're all wearing Mang. In the last year, the self-taught shoe designer has shod everyone from Halle Berry to Kate Bosworth, and he's got the press clips to prove it.… More >>
  • BEST BAR IN TEMPE THAT (SHHH!) ALLOWS SMOKING

    Yucca Tap Room

    Kudos to the Yucca Tap Room for a courageous common-sense approach to the anti-smoking Nazis. At considerable financial risk (establishments that allow smoking can be fined up to $500 by the city, and snitches can rat to the police online), the Yucca keeps a healthy supply of Altoids tins behind the bar. They are not there to cure bad breath.… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL MAKES SHOES

    Holly Dunlap

    Perky and blonde, Holly Dunlap could easily pass for a Scottsdale soccer mom with a taste for cute shoes. But while she's a Scottsdale native, and while the shoes are adorable (hey, don't take our word for it -- ask the editors at Vogue), Dunlap is actually one of the hottest young designers in Manhattan. (Once again, see Vogue.) The… More >>
  • BEST DEADHEAD BAR

    The Sail Inn - CLOSED

    One of the last surviving old Tempe bars, the Sail Inn regularly hosts Grateful Dead cover bands like The Noodles and Xtra Ticket. Both bands kick out mind-reeling jams, much to the delight of Deadheads who come from miles around and are still kicking up the dirt 10 years after Jerry Garcia's death. Even former Grateful Dead keyboard player Vince… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL WITH A GREEN THUMB

    Tera Vessels

    Everybody from Target to Home Depot sells plants, but only Tera Vessels can tell you the secrets to making them thrive here in the world's most populated oven. Vessels runs a nursery in an old downtown bungalow, selling plants, gardening accessories and art. But it's the garden surrounding the house that signals you're in the presence of someone who could… More >>
  • BEST KARAOKE

    Apollo's Lounge

    When heading down Seventh Street, drivers can't miss the massive blue and yellow sign that screams "Apollo's!" and marks the spot where a personable bunch is always busy welcoming a good time. And for anyone, gay or straight, who can't resist belting out his fave tune in public, Apollo's -- one of Phoenix's oldest gay clubs -- is the place… More >>
  • BEST LEGEND IN THE MAKING

    Legend Logsdon

    Although Roosevelt Street sometimes seems like a teenage wasteland during First Fridays -- especially since those darn kids do nothing but bum cigarettes outside Modified Arts -- adolescent phenom Legend Logsdon is proving that assumption incorrect. Though only 13, Logsdon has a keen eye for turning trash into amazing 3-D found-object treasures, transforming such finds as an eight-foot-long saguaro cactus… More >>
  • BEST SPIN

    Hot Pink!, Friday nights at Karamba

    Electroclash had already peaked by the time this Friday-night dance fest got started, but that didn't stop Phoenix's young and trendy from coming out en masse to freak dance to Fischerspooner. Wisely, though, founder DJ Nimh (who stays involved but has since moved to New York City) established a weekly mix that went beyond the now oh-so-over music genre; now… More >>
  • BEST POWER COUPLE

    Vivian and Derek Ware of www.urbanaz.com

    The Wares, Vivian and Derek, are the ultimate power couple when it comes to nightlife in the PHX. Not only do they regularly help bring major acts to the Valley, like the Ying Yang Twins, they also promote, do ad buys for, or in some manner represent a multitude of the flyest events out there, whether it's a club night… More >>
  • BEST DJ LEGEND

    Pete "SuperMix" Salaz

    Phoenix has some great DJs of all stripes, proficient in all types of musical genres, but is there anywhere in town a DJ of more renown than Pete "SuperMix" Salaz, the Buddha of House, who has long reigned over the night like some affable Aztec god? If you spotted Salaz on the street, you'd just see a portly, easygoing chap,… More >>
  • BEST ALT-CULTURE CAPITALISTS

    Chris and Jim McLennan

    Everyone needs friends like Chris and Jim McLennan. Not content to sit in the audience and enjoy their favorite filmmakers, professional wrestlers, comedians and performance artists, this Scottsdale couple has helped bankroll the efforts of Valley creative types using profits from their Web-based bead business since 2001. In addition to funneling financing, these funky philanthropists also provide promotional assistance to… More >>
  • BEST HOUSE DJ

    DJ Senbad, a.k.a. Sean Badger

    Wanna party with the PHX's Sultan of Soulful Beats? Then DJ Senbad, a.k.a. Sean Badger, is your man. Though Next's Wednesday night Batucada is no more, DJ Senbad continues his magical carpet ride, whether at special events, like pool parties at the Clarendon, or at the new house night over at Majerle's in downtown Phoenix. There's even talk of more… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE AND BE SEEN ON A FIRST FRIDAY

    Grand Avenue, east of 15th Avenue

    Good old Bikini Lounge will always be one of our favorite downtown nightspots, and we'll still head west on Grand to 15th Avenue and beyond for our fill of arts and amusements. But lately we've been digging the great vibe just down the street, where a whole new generation of gallery spaces and hangouts has cropped up: the Cone Gallery… More >>
  • BEST HIP-HOP DJ

    DJ Fashen

    Whether he's setting the decks ablaze at the after-party for the Soul Train Music Awards in L.A., or backing up Da Nutz weekday afternoons on Power 92.3 FM with the Two Hour Drive at Five, DJ Fashen is one of the greats in the game, who weaves the most popular hip-hop of the day in with classic and sometimes surprising… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE AND BE SEEN ON A FINAL FRIDAY

    Wet Paint - CLOSED

    While downtown Phoenix First Fridays have turned into a gallery-hopping parade of thousands, Tempe's Final Fridays are still relatively intimate. It has a lot to do with the lay of the land -- the area around Mill Avenue is more about bohemian hangouts (with cool art on the walls, of course) than full-on art spaces. The anchor of the action… More >>
  • BEST ROCK DJ

    William Fucking Reed

    DJ William Fucking Reed has but one command for your delicious derrière: Get on that floor and dance! Every Saturday night at the Rogue Bar East in Scottsdale, Reed hosts Shake!, a frenzied, hip-twisting bacchanal where he drops genres like mod, glam, post-punk, garage, Brit-punk, metal, power pop, British invasion, and so on into one high-energy perpetual-motion machine with Reed… More >>
  • BEST NEW GALLERY

    The Chocolate Factory - CLOSED

    The easiest way to figure out the best galleries in town is to ask the artists. These days, plenty of people are name-dropping the Chocolate Factory, an impressive new offering from local artist Hector Ruiz, whose provocative exhibition of sculptures, carvings, and woodblock prints, "La Realidad," is on display at the Heard Museum until next spring. Also home to Ruiz's… More >>
  • BEST SAVE

    Tigerface

    The night that Tigerface crashed its own party might've been the kind of mortifying experience that most musicians would rather forget, but no matter. We were damn impressed. It was a sticky July evening at Modified Arts, and the Scottsdale quartet was in the middle of its opening set for psychedelic D.C. band Weird War. The steadily swelling crowd was… More >>
  • BEST STOP ON ART DETOUR

    The studio of Carrie Marill and Matt Moore - CLOSED

    We ambled through dozens of studios during Art Detour, the downtown Phoenix art walk sponsored by ArtLink that's held one weekend each year, usually in March. Months later, we have to admit, our recall of this year's now institutionalized city art event is just all one big beige blur -- except for a very distinct spot that stands out in… More >>
  • BEST CONSOLATION FOR AGING PUNKS

    Jeff Dahl 50th Birthday Blast

    The urge to "live fast, die young" has been around about as long as rock 'n' roll itself, but a certain song by the Circle Jerks made it more of a punk motto 25 years ago. Funny, then, that one of that band's contemporaries, the Angry Samoans, spawned the legacy of Jeff Dahl, who's evolved into the Valley's patron saint… More >>
  • BEST MOBILE GUERRILLA GALLERY

    2 Kaotik Gallery

    First Fridays was a mere zygote of a scene when local artisans Dayvid LeMmon and Jerry Portelli first rolled the 2 Kaotik Gallery through downtown in 2000. The pair rented a U-Haul, loaded up a generator for lighting, and made stop 'n' parks throughout the downtown district, usually planting themselves in the dirt lot across from Modified Arts on Roosevelt… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SIT AND ROTATE

    The Compass Room at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix

    Like a giant roulette wheel floating 24 stories in the air, the Compass Room spins atop the downtown Hyatt, adding character to our skyline. The disc-shaped building slowly completes a full clockwise turn every 55 minutes, so guests who stay for an hour are guaranteed an unparalleled panoramic 360-degree view. Since celebrating its 25th anniversary, the restaurant has been completely… More >>
  • BEST MUSEUM YOU'VE NEVER BEEN TO

    The Bead Museum - CLOSED

    We've always considered beading strictly a consumer endeavor -- as in, we don't want to look at them, we just want to buy them. And it is true that we were immediately sidetracked by the Bead Museum's large (perhaps larger than the exhibit space itself, although, to be fair, it's under construction) gift shop. But after we were done… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO WATCH SOMEONE SIT AND ROTATE

    Celebrity Theatre

    Off the beaten path of most concertgoers, this Phoenix landmark's signature revolving stage is still spinning after all these years. With no seat farther than 75 feet from the stage, Celebrity Theatre presents intimacy incomparable to other competing concert venues. Since its creation in 1963, the Celebrity has hosted a stunning list of entertainers that includes Chris Rock, George Carlin,… More >>
  • BEST MINI CACTUS TOUR

    The Barry Goldwater Memorial

    We love the Desert Botanical Garden, but not everyone has enough passion for cactus to make it through a two-hour tour. Which is why Paradise Valley's Barry Goldwater Memorial is so damn cool. Not only does it feature a big bronze version of the father of American conservatism himself, but it's got a great variety of succulents, each painstakingly attended… More >>
  • BEST VENUE FOR NATIONAL ACTS

    Marquee Theatre

    There's nary a place to rest your weary feet except for a few concrete stools on the smokers' patio, and you'll probably have to find parking on the other side of the Mill Avenue Bridge, but if you want to see the bands with the biggest buzz, you'll be coming to the Marquee Theatre. Many of the shows sell out,… More >>
  • BEST DRAGON

    Sculptor John Peirce's house

    John Peirce's 1920s English Tudor revival home in the F.Q. Story historic district is the antidote to KB Homes bland. A five-foot winged dragon of copper weathered to a cool, reptilian green clings to copper vines covering most of the front porch. The beastie grins through razor teeth, and his eyes glow red at night. The Dragon House, as some… More >>
  • BEST VENUE FOR LOCAL ACTS

    The Clubhouse Music Venue - CLOSED

    Everything else in the Valley is in a strip mall -- why not a music venue? While this place has been around for years, it only recently expanded to double its previous size, with a bigger stage, a bigger bar, and a broader lineup. Plenty of great national acts have played here, but it's clear that local rockers have made… More >>
  • BEST COLLECTION OF ARIZONA LICENSE PLATES

    The Old Station

    There's a lot of local history in this gas station turned sandwich shop. The deli sits right next to the Pioneer Memorial Park and Cemetery, where some of Arizona's first settlers and political figures are buried, and the building has been a presence on Jefferson Street since its birth as a Mobil gas station in 1926. The inside walls… More >>
  • BEST CLUB FOR BLUES

    Rhythm Room

    For years, Valley bluesman Hans Olson lobbied valiantly to establish an Arizona Blues Hall of Fame, building a list of 65 inductees ranging from '40s bandleader Louis Jordan (who moved here for his arthritis) to local stalwarts like Small Paul Hamilton, Big Pete Pearson, and Rochelle Raya. In the end, Olson lamented, his dream of building a blues museum wound… More >>
  • BEST SIGNS OF THE TIMES

    "A Few Pieces of Advice to Help You on Your Way"

    We can't recall when we first noticed the signs stuck in the grass where Mill Avenue veers into Apache Boulevard, curving around Gammage Auditorium at Arizona State University in Tempe. But we figured they had to be a prank, since one of the poster-size boards -- designed to look like a green chalkboard -- held the message: "Always have at… More >>
  • BEST C&W NIGHTSPOT

    Graham Central Station - CLOSED

    Young singles who know how to make a cowboy hat and denims look bad-ass strut their stuff on the Rockin Rodeo dance floor at Graham Central Station in Tempe's auto mall district. Part of a Texas-based chain of megaclub "entertainment complexes," Graham Central Station combines four clubs and four distinct clubbing populations -- retro, karaoke, urban dance and country --… More >>
  • BEST SIGN OF PAST TIMES

    Mr. Lucky's - CLOSED

    Phoenix is notorious for bulldozing its own past faster than you can say "custom homes from the $550s." That's why you should cruise west on Grand Avenue/U.S. 60 right now and look at the gloriously tacky sign for the defunct honky-tonk Mr. Lucky's, before it ends up existing only on Web sites devoted to roadside kitsch. Both the 50-foot-tall neon… More >>
  • BEST CLUB FOR HIP-HOP

    CBNC

    50 Cent did his two-step on the bar. Britney mingled with the regular folks on the dance floor. LL Cool J sat in the exclusive "Owner's Booth" and signed autographs for fans. And such hip-hop/R&B royalty as Eve, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Beyoncé, and Alicia Keys have all gotten their groove on here. This is why CBNC is legendary in… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC ART

    "Tributary Wall" by Kevin Berry with Design Workshop

    How we love art that happens to be functional as well as visually arresting and entertaining. That's why we're particularly enamored of artist Kevin Berry's "Tributary Wall," which undulates its way along the west side of Goldwater Boulevard between Camelback and Indian School roads in Scottsdale. Berry's rusty metal fish-out-of-water, swimming placidly on a rippling wall toward a canal… More >>
  • BEST HIP-HOP NIGHT

    Blunt Club - CLOSED

    Wanna see giants walk the Earth? Then check out the Blunt Club on Thursday nights at Mesa's Hollywood Alley, where you'll catch live spoken word, painting and performance by legends in the Valley hip-hop scene. Like that "verbal taxidermist" and last year's New Times Best Of cover model, MC Emerg McVay of Bionic Jive fame. Or urban artist extraordinaire Adam… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC WORKS AS PUBLIC ART

    Standpipes in the Maple Ash Neighborhood, Tempe

    The folks in the Maple Ash Neighborhood Association have one heck of a pipe dream. Over the past two years, the inhabitants of the sylvan residential area located just west of Arizona State University have mixed a deluge of grant money from the City of Tempe with the torrential creativity of Valley artists Nina Solomon, Ruben Valenzuela, and Chris Rowley… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE A HARDCORE BAND

    PHiX - CLOSED

    Downtown's stretch of Grand Avenue has seen a lot of changes in the past few years, most notably the number of galleries and performance spaces that keep popping up in once-dilapidated shops and warehouses. All this development is a good thing, one from which even hard rockers have benefited. The folks at PHiX, once a motorcycle repair shop that's been… More >>
  • BEST UNEXPECTED PUBLIC ART

    Tempe Library Cards

    Public art in your wallet? It's enough to make you want to move to Tempe -- which is where you'll have to go to get one of the groovy new artist-designed library cards that the city's libraries made available this summer. The City of Tempe Public Art Program commissioned four Arizona artists to produce art that was then reproduced onto… More >>
  • BEST REC-ROOM APPEAL

    The Paper Heart

    This Grand Avenue staple hasn't picked sides -- it wants to be a gallery and a bar with live music. Maybe that's why the Paper Heart doesn't entirely feel like either. Instead, it reminds us of some eccentric person's living room, or maybe a crafty kid's clubhouse, with all these comfy old couches where you can slouch back with a… More >>
  • BEST UNEXPECTED PRIVATE ART

    Erastes Cinaedi

    Here's the straight poop: When hip screenwriter and novelist Jerry Stahl visited Perihelion Arts last year to sign copies of his latest tome I, Fatty, turns out the ex-heroin junkie also purchased one of mixed-media maven Erastes Cinaedi's artfully decorated toilet seats on display at the Grand Avenue bookstore and gallery. The story goes that Stahl acquired this particular throne,… More >>
  • BEST MUSIC ON A SCHOOL NIGHT

    Hollywood Alley - CLOSED

    Without a doubt, Hollywood Alley has consistently good live music, from hardcore to Americana, on any night of the week. But the past several months have brought a lot more workweek excitement to break up the daily grind. First, Dumperfoo and Emerg McVay's Thursday night Blunt Club arrived. And just this past July, Vodka Tonic Media got on board with… More >>
  • BEST COMMUNITY MURAL

    The wall mural in front of Maie Bartlett Heard Elementary School

    It takes a lot to get our attention when we're driving, but the wildly colorful, Fauve-style mural painted on a wall in front of Maie Bartlett Heard Elementary School does just that. In fact, the first time we saw the block-long art project, we cruised by several times to determine what was going on. After a number of drive-bys, we… More >>
  • BEST ROCK 'N' ROLL MAKEOVER

    The Rogue East

    It takes more than a fresh coat of paint and some nice new booth seating to really change a place. And sure enough, a lot of changes happened at The Rogue this past year (that is, The Rogue East, sister to Phoenix's newer Rogue West). We've heard rumors about what really went down, but all we'll say is this: The… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SCAM ART SUPPLIES

    Evans-Churchill Neighborhood

    Those in the Phoenix art scene love to recycle, and it's not just because of their hippy-dippy lifestyle. No, these arty people are all about reusing refuse because it provides them with tons of debris to either use as canvases or as part of a found art sculpture or two -- especially the kind of junk that can be unearthed… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CATCH A FREAK SHOW

    The Trunk Space

    Stephanie Carrico and JRC's Grand Avenue art space/performance venue is sorta like Disneyland, only way smaller -- it's persistently packed with colorfully larger-than-life characters, there's tons of fun and fantasy to be had, and it could be "The Happiest Place on Earth," especially if you're a fan of entertainers (from both inside and outside the Valley) who are equally weird… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY ART SUPPLIES

    Arizona Art Supply

    Often, when we ask friends and colleagues for a recommendation for a particular "Best of," we're overwhelmed with choices and a lot of hemming and hawing. After all, there are a lot of places in this town where you can get a good margarita. But when we asked about art supplies, the answer came back quickly, always the same, and… More >>
  • BEST SUNDAY NIGHT CLUB THEME

    Muck Fondays at Bruno Mali's

    Sunday night is usually spent lying low, doing laundry, and licking our wounds after not snagging that honey's number at the club the night before. It's a "school night," and we gotta turn in early so we can rise bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for another week of workin' for The Man. Well, fuck that cheese! And while you're at it, Muck… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO GET ARTSY IN A DAY

    Alchemy Studio

    You think you're too busy to acquire a new art skill? Well, we're not impressed. Got a day? Get artsy with Alchemy Studio's one-day workshops conducted in, as they put it, a "small but rich time frame." An eclectic mix of classes ranging from figure drawing and playwriting to hand-sewn scrapbooks and Polaroid transfers (where the emulsion creates a print… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET TRASHY

    Sadisco

    What do you say about a club night where one of the DJs' names is "Squalor" and people donate detritus to the garbage-laden walls? We'd say that's one trashy event, trashy-cool, actually, on the same level of John Waters' early flicks like Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos, and Desperate Living. They call it Sadisco, short for "Sadistic Disco." It previously went… More >>
  • BEST AUDIO GEEK SCHOOL

    The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences

    When a post-secondary school has a voluntary three-year waiting list, you know it must be a great institution. You also know it's full of some serious geeks. For more than two decades, the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS) has been teaching audio fanatics the ins and outs of the recording world. From analog and digital sound manipulation to… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HAIL SATAN

    Tranzylvania

    Hey, we know the difference between goths and Satan-worshipers. After all, the goths may look ghoulish, but we never see them at Black Mass, taking up a collection while we're doing the hard work of sacrificing a virgin. Sheesh! Still, one look at Steven Rogers' glorious new space Palazzo on a Friday night, when he unveils the Goth-Romance-Trance nightclub Tranzylvania,… More >>
  • BEST EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC COLLECTIVE

    Phoenix Creative Music Movement

    For anybody who needs a fill of "out there" improvisations, unconventional time signatures and syncopated dissonance, the Phoenix Creative Music Movement (PCMM) is just what the ear doctor ordered. Influenced by Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and New York's Jazz Composers Collective, Jennifer Rogers and Marvin Scott established the PCMM to provide a place for creative musicians… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET FULL-FILLED

    Club FullFilled

    No, they don't have a buffet. But if there's a club in P-town that really should have a buffet for its patrons, Club FullFilled is the one. Club FullFilled is the Valley's premier plus-size event, held weekly at rotating locales -- usually a bar or club -- where Big Beautiful Women (BBWs) and Big Handsome Men (BHMs) can shake as… More >>
  • BEST ROCK 'N' ROLL FICTION TOUR

    First Fiction

    Contrary to popular belief, some pretty happening things got their start in Phoenix -- like the chimichanga (reputedly), Steven Spielberg, and, dare we say it, the New Times chain. But the coolest thing to come out of this town in a long time is First Fiction, the authors' tour created by Cindy Dach, marketing guru for Changing Hands Bookstore. A… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO GET YOUR FETISH ON

    The AZ Fetish Ball

    Fetishism used to be "underground," and the only glimpse the general public got of the fetish community at play came from movies and TV shows. But TNG (The Next Generation of Fetish & Kink in Arizona), along with local body modification outfit Horns 'n Halos, has brought several fetish events to the Valley and left them open for anybody who… More >>
  • BEST INTENTIONAL HILARITY

    Modest Proposal Presents

    Modest Proposal Presents is the place to see a rotating cast of young, creative, totally off-the-wall talent doing sketch and standup comedy. And did we mention that it's only five bucks? Hey, that's no joke. We gotta say, we didn't think it was funny at all when Ron Babcock and Ryan McKee, the dynamic duo behind the Modest Proposal mother… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET A CRACK DEALER

    Margaret T. Hance Park, a.k.a. Deck Park

    Phoenix's Margaret T. Hance Park, affectionately known as Deck Park because the Interstate 10 tunnel through central Phoenix is under it, would truly be a beautiful and serene respite from downtown, except for one thing. Try walking though it on a bright Sunday afternoon, and you'll see what we mean. On a recent hike to the Safeway on Seventh… More >>
  • BEST UNINTENTIONAL HILARITY

    ASU-TV's Dance in the Movies

    The first time we stumbled upon Raymond Shaw and his weekly, televised distance-learning class, we thought we were watching a Mad TV sketch. Shaw's teaching techniques were so delightfully bumbling, so very way out there, that we couldn't believe that Arizona State University -- or the man himself -- could possibly be serious. Au contraire! Shaw's three-hour-long Dance in… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET AN ILLICIT LOVER

    The bar at Autumn Court Restaurant

    The point here is that you would never even realize that Autumn Court, one of Phoenix's venerable Chinese eateries, even has a bar, so tucked away is this cozy gin mill at the back of the place. But we made a wrong turn on the way to the restroom after an early dinner and noticed the charming saloon, with tables… More >>
  • BEST LITTLE THEATER THAT COULD

    Stray Cat Theatre

    We've been attending theater in this town for longer than we care to tell you, and if there's one thing we've learned, it's that smallish companies tend to either vanish after a couple of seasons or wind up doing crap to keep their doors open. Not so with Stray Cat Theatre, whose mission seems to be taking big risks with… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PICK UP DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES

    Drinkwater's City Hall Steakhouse and Bar

    Save the steak dinner for later, if at all. What Drinkwater's City Hall is known for is its gigantic, rectangular bar, and that's because there are so many horny MILFs sitting around it on Friday and Saturday nights. There are other pretenders to the throne in this town when it comes to supplying desperate housewives, but nothing compares to the… More >>
  • BEST LITTLE THEATER THAT COULDN'T, DARN IT

    TheatreScape

    They gave it a go, but, sadly, TheatreScape -- like so many little local troupes before them -- folded halfway through their second season. Too bad, because these folks pulled off a couple of smart, skillful programs while they were around. Although they're gone, we're still talking about their letter-perfect Eleemosynary from two seasons ago, and about how, even when… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO FIND A SUGAR DADDY

    Merc Bar

    If you want to find a well-heeled date for the future, or even a Rolly-wearin' husband-to-be, you don't have to confine your search to Scottsdale. All you need do is head over to Phoenix's ultra-cool Merc Bar, preferably on a Friday or Saturday night. You won't find a hipper watering hole in New York or L.A., and the place is… More >>
  • BEST ARGUMENT FOR THE BLACK BOX

    Nearly Naked Theatre at Phoenix Theatre's Little Theatre

    They're ambitious, giving us the naughty fun of The Rocky Horror Show and the deeply troubling misogyny of Hurly Burly in the same season. And they're showy as heck, offering up French drawing-room comedy with Les Liaisons Dangereuses and revisions on Christopher Marlowe with E2: A Heretical Adaptation of Edward II. But mostly, what Nearly Naked Theatre is is a… More >>
  • BEST AFTER-HOURS

    .anti_space - CLOSED

    Although normally it may seem unwise to traipse around the seedier sections of downtown Phoenix after 2 a.m., that's usually when the after-hours parties at Scot McKenzie and Justin McBee's establishment -- located on the crack-laced fringes of the downtown warehouse district -- get going. You don't have to worry about either your car or your life, as there's always… More >>
  • BEST ACTING CHOPS, MALE

    Joseph Kremer

    Whether playing a pompous, pomaded pirate or a foppish French schemer, actor Joseph Kremer was nearly perfect in numerous stage roles this past season. Whence this talented newcomer sprang is anyone's guess; his playbill bios don't mention acting academies or years spent in summer stock. But Kremer's talent spoke for itself, as he assayed a puffy baron in a sniffy… More >>
  • BEST WORST-KEPT SECRET, STILL

    The Black and Tan

    Okay, so last year at this time, we thought we'd pat the bad boys at the all-night party scene called the Black and Tan on the shoulders by writing them up as the "Best Worst-Kept Secret." Hey, we were just trying to tell you guys that you rock! But what followed were more denunciations and finger-pointing than at a Stalinist… More >>
  • BEST ACTING CHOPS, FEMALE

    Cathy Dresbach

    Being the only saving grace in the horror that was last summer's Menopause: The Musical would have been enough to win her our deep gratitude and affection, but then Cathy Dresbach appeared in the lead in Actors Theatre's Nickel and Dimed, playwright Joan Holden's comic adaptation of Barbara Ehrenreich's nonfiction best seller, and we were reminded what a local treasure… More >>
  • BEST REDEMPTION OF A LOUSY PLAY BY A LOCAL ACTOR

    Teresa Ybarra in A Night in Vegas

    This past season, someone named Teresa Ybarra walked off with an entire play, and then -- as far as we can tell -- vanished into thin air. Despite her rather limited acting experience, Miss Ybarra saved the sinking ship that was Alternative Theatre's A Night in Vegas, an otherwise untidy muddle of playlets by local playwright Joe Marshall, with her… More >>
  • BEST CELEBRITY IMPERSONATION

    Sarah Wolter as Liza Minnelli in Phoenix Theatre's Cabaret

    We're counting our blessings that Sarah Wolter wound up impersonating '70s-era Cocaine-and-Leotards Liza Minnelli, rather than, say, '80s Post-Rehab Pet Shop Boys Liza, or New Millennium Married To A Scary-Looking Homosexual Liza. But still, the truth is that Wolter didn't so much play Sally Bowles in Phoenix Theatre's messy and ultimately dull Kander and Ebb rerun as she did impersonate… More >>
  • BEST PIECE OF CHOCOLATE

    The Steve Almond - CLOSED

    Once upon a time, a guy named Steve Almond (really, that's his name) wrote a book about chocolate. He traveled to candy factories all over the country, cataloguing his funny experiences and funnier insights in Candy Freak, an odd but compelling memoir that became a smash hit. This is a man who has spent a great deal of time… More >>
  • BEST IRONIC HOT DOG STAND

    Lezbos-A-Gogo Hot Dog Stand at Holga's - CLOSED

    If nothing else, Angela Pulliam and lesbian burlesque troupe Lezbos-A-Gogo prove that even girls who just love girls can appreciate a good wiener from time to time -- as evidenced by the hot dog stand the lusty ladies run every First Friday from 7 to 11:30 p.m. outside Holga's, a popular art house/apartment complex just off Roosevelt Row. As if… More >>
  • BEST RESTROOM TO IMPROVE SELF-ESTEEM

    Mucho Gusto Taqueria and Mexican Bistro - CLOSED

    Feeling guilty because you downed that Colorado pork stew with a little too mucho gusto? Head for the ladies' room. No, not to stick your finger down your throat. Look around, girlfriend. You're in good company. The stout figures adorning the walls are repros of the work of Fernando Botero, the Colombian artist who made his name painting chubbies. Even… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO FLIP OFF THE BIRD

    The Le Peep Restaurant Chicken

    Most every day, at the intersection of Central and Indianola avenues from about 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., you'll find a rabid, dancing, human-chicken hybrid spazzing out in hopes of luring us into nearby Le Peep Restaurant. The masked bird, decked out in a mismatched yellow tee shirt, shorts and a giant costume chicken head, has been shaking its… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PRETEND YOU'RE NOT IN THE DESERT

    Encanto-Palmcroft neighborhood

    You'll have trouble spotting a single saguaro in Encanto-Palmcroft, a lushly landscaped district of upscale, period revival homes in central Phoenix. The neighborhood was developed between the 1920s and the 1940s, when the desert was a wasteland to be conquered, not an ecosystem to be celebrated. So Encanto-Palmcroft is full of homes mimicking the architecture of Italy, England, Spain and… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO HIGHTAIL IT TO VEGAS

    U.S. Highways 60 and 93

    Reservation casinos and poker nights at the pub are all well and good, but we need a taste of the real action that only Sin City can supply. We wanna Viva Las Vegas double quick, so we're looking for a sure-fire escape route that'll allow us to blow town and speed toward America's playgound like yesterday. Sure, you could take… More >>
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