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  • BEST PLACE TO NAB A LOUNGE LIZARD OUTFIT

    Retro Redux - CLOSED

    When we stepped into this chic Seventh Avenue secondhand shop, it was as if a time machine had transported us back to an era when the Chairman of the Board ruled the world and cocktail culture was king. In our disorientation, we decided it was time to ditch our trendy obsession with '80s fashion and get a style that's more… More >>
  • BEST SLOTS

    Atronic Casino Technology

    We confess. As much as we live for the exhilaration of the table games like Texas Hold'em and blackjack at the multitude of casinos in the Valley, we sometimes like to simply slip off to the slots section with a few dozen rolls of nickels, for a slower-paced way of wasting our kid's college fund. Many a lost weekend has… More >>
  • BEST DRIVE-THROUGH LIQUOR STORE IF YOU WON BIG

    Sportsman's Fine Wines and Spirits - CLOSED

    Phoenix is a city of pawnshops and drive-through liquor stores. There seems to be one or the other on every corner, thus allowing you to pawn that Rolex, then cruise on down the street to grab a bottle of Maker's Mark without ever having to get out of your BMW. Brilliant, eh? Of course, not all drive-through liquor stores are… More >>
  • BEST DRIVE-THROUGH LIQUOR STORE IF YOU LOST BIG

    Hermanos Liquor and Market

    So you've dumped all your hard-earned nicks into Lobstermania, Betty Boop's Big Hit, and Wheel of Fortune machines, and you're feeling lower than William H. Macy's loser character in The Cooler. You're down to your last few bucks -- just enough for a Lone Star and a lone butt. Where to go in Phoenix that would perfectly mirror the murky… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DRINK BEER WHILE YOU SHOP

    American Park 'n' Swap at Phoenix Greyhound Park

    We're always crunched for time these days, so to free up spots on our schedule, we've combined two of our main passions: boozing and buying. Since the security fascists at Scottsdale Fashion Square wouldn't let us flit around with Fat Tires in our fists, we're gonna try purchasing while plastered on Wednesday evenings and during the day from Fridays through… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO FIND BEER-RELATED ACCESSORIES

    Plush Clothing

    We love to drink, and thanks to Plush, now everyone knows it. The Tempe clothing and accessories store knows folks like beer. Whether you're a patriot (Samuel Adams), a foreigner (Guinness) or simply a cheap bastard faking it as a hipster (Pabst Blue Ribbon), Plush Clothing has what you need to dress as a beer lover while not coming off… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A PRESENT FOR A RECOVERING ADDICT

    Gifts Anon

    Located in a battered 1950s-era strip mall in central Phoenix, Gifts Anon is like a Hallmark store for the rehab set. Twelve-step-program-themed paraphernalia, some of it sad and strange, fill the aisles here: teddy bears emblazoned with the Narcotics Anonymous logo; blankets embroidered with the Serenity Prayer; and, of course, Harley-Davidson-licensed coffee mugs and tee shirts with messages of encouragement… More >>
  • BEST HEAD SHOP

    High Society

    One of the few independent businesses that has survived Sunnyslope is High Society, a "smoke 'n' stuff" shop that has sat in the same strip mall for 21 years. Sure, other smoke shops -- especially the big chains -- have more pop culture kitsch, like Korn posters and porcelain ashtrays with pot leaves on them. But this is the… More >>
  • BEST WIG SHOP

    Panorama Wigs - CLOSED

    Having a bad hair day? Why not do what all the celebs do when they don't feel like messing with all those follicles and all that hairspray? Slip on a falsie. The place to unearth such wonders is Panorama Wigs. With more than 3,000 wigs in stock and a personal stylist on hand, you're destined to walk in as a… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO TAKE IT ALL OFF

    Carsten Institute

    It started with "manscaping" on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and The 40-Year-Old Virgin sealed the deal. Back hair has always been a problem in certain circles, but now male body hair in general is as out of style as a mullet. You can shave or pluck, gentlemen, but really, the way to take it all off is wax.… More >>
  • BEST HAIR EXTENSIONS

    BBB Fashion

    Finding hair-care products for a woman of color can be frustratingly difficult in any area of Phoenix, except -- by virtue of its more diverse population -- the west side. Fortunately, there's BBB Fashion, a cavernous clothing/jewelry/hair marketplace located in an old strip mall at 52nd Avenue and Indian School Road. Here, amid long aisles packed with gels, pressing oils,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET INDIE-ROCK HAIR

    Orange Salon

    Sure, Stiletto Formal is a killer band. It bills itself as "indie sex-core" (apparently a merger between Tilly and the Wall's serenade-style melodies and the Blood Brothers' art damage spasticity). Throw in some Mars Volta-ish vocals, and you've got Stiletto. But it takes more than talent to make it in a music biz where image sells records; while we're concerned… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET A CREW CUT AND DISCUSS MID-EAST AFFAIRS

    ASU Cut-Rite Barber Shop

    Listen up, recruit. That unkempt mop-top of yours isn't going to pass muster in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps. Get yourself square by double-timing it down to Roman Aronov's haircutting establishment, where the Uzbekian émigré and former Soviet Army barber will wage a surgical strike against your flowing tresses with military precision. Aronov's been chopping locks for… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET BART SIMPSON SCULPTED INTO YOUR BUZZ CUT

    Papa Joe's

    At Papa Joe's (formerly Video Cuts), owner Joseph Lazzara, who moved here from Sicily in 1958, will do anything you ask to your head, as long as it's legal and within the realm of possibility. Papa Joe is famous for cutting all manner of designs into willing buzz cuts. He's barbered heads to look like basketballs and baseballs, cut the… More >>
  • BEST REASON TO BATHE

    Lush

    We don't generally rejoice when a big chain comes to town, but we can't help but get bubbly about the impending arrival of Lush, our favorite bath and beauty products shop. The Vancouver-based company is reportedly picky about where it pitches its tent, which is why we're so excited to hear that it's chosen Scottsdale Fashion Square as one of… More >>
  • BEST REASON TO SCRUB

    Emelmahae's Almond Shea Sugar Scrub

    We could have called this award "Best Reason to Go to a Local Farmers' Market," because that's where you'll find a sweet young woman named Kari, selling her homemade soaps, bath teas and scrubs. We love the samples of soap she's pressed on us, and a friend says you can no longer drive a truck through her pores, since she's… More >>
  • BEST TEE SHIRTS

    Roy Wasson Valle

    The whimsical creatures Roy Wasson Valle silk-screens onto primary-colored tee shirts seem vaguely disturbing -- one looks like a Cheshire cat on crack, another appears to be a bear that resembles the demonic rabbit from Donnie Darko -- but they're strangely endearing, too. Wear one around, and you're sure to gather compliments all day long. Expect people to ask you… More >>
  • BEST SHOPPING OPPORTUNITY ON GRAND

    Sophistikatz Boutique

    When you first walk into Sophistikatz Boutique, you might find one of the three sisters who own the business rearranging clothing racks or meticulously setting up an antique shoe display. They care about image (after all, they do "image consulting"), so they want their clothes to catch the eye right away. And they do! Everything is separated by season, so… More >>
  • BEST CUP OF COFFEE ON GRAND

    Paisley Violin European Cafe - CLOSED

    We liked Paisley Violin when it was on Roosevelt Street, but now that it's on Grand, we're in love. We're not sure what it is -- the owners are the same, the place looks similar, if a little less dingy -- but still low-rent enough to make the grungiest scenester happy. Maybe it's Pete Deise's metalwork (his studio's nearby) or… More >>
  • BEST SHOPPING OPPORTUNITY ON ROOSEVELT

    MADE Art Boutique

    Too many times, we've fallen in love with some gorgeous artwork at a gallery on Roosevelt Row, but only had several dollars to spend, not several hundred. But MADE has stuff we'd gladly fork over our last few bucks to take home. A carefully edited selection of unique jewelry, tee shirts, and greeting cards appealingly displayed alongside some choice reads.… More >>
  • BEST CUP OF COFFEE ON ROOSEVELT

    Fair Trade Cafe

    After at least one turn as a conventional coffee house, Fair Trade Cafe now answers to a higher authority. Conveniently located in the bottom of the Post Roosevelt complex, Fair Trade is a comfortable place to get a strong cup of coffee, or a bag of beans. Bonus: The organic coffee is sold to benefit charity, as Fair Trade is… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE TO DISCOVER NEW BANDS

    Stinkweeds

    We already know that Stinkweeds owner Kimber Lanning has good taste in music -- she also owns Modified Arts, the downtown gallery-slash-music venue that's hosted edgy acts like Arcade Fire and Wolf Eyes. So whenever we drop by Stinkweeds to find some new music to fall in love with, we know we're in good hands. Lanning herself works the counter… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE ON A BUDGET

    Zia Record Exchange

    Who isn't a sucker for a good sale? Seems like Zia always has CDs marked down -- and not just older titles. If you stop by with a shopping list of some of the most in-demand new releases, chances are you'll snag some for a couple bucks less than you'd expect. Better yet, Zia has an overwhelming selection of used… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR BOYS TO BUY GIRLS' JEANS

    Buffalo Exchange

    Have you noticed lately that some boys are wearing jeans so tight it looks like they've raided their sisters' closets? They probably have. We haven't seen jeans this tight since the '80s, but even then the boys stuck to the boys' department. No more. Now the boys are wearing girls' jeans, regardless of sexual preference. (And trust us, we've heard… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DRESS DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES

    Electric Ladyland - CLOSED

    If you want to see the local versions of Susan, Gabrielle and Edie, just look here, among the Barbie tee shirts, chandelier earrings and jeweled sandals. This north Scottsdale boutique has aisles of clothing and accessories for the bored, spray-tanned and Botoxed demographic. There are rhinestone-studded platform wedges, beaded tube tops, Jackie O sunglasses, and dresses cut low for better… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A BALL GOWN

    Designs by Randall

    In an ordinary one-story office building, surrounded by other bland office complexes, hides a workspace oozing decadent glamour. Designs by Randall is a playland of vibrant fabrics and glistening rhinestones, and rack upon rack of shimmering gowns waiting to light up a competition dance floor. For 19 years, Randall Christensen and Henry Vela have partnered up to design dancewear for… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY DRAG QUEEN HEELS

    Smokin' Lingerie

    Your first pair of high heels is a beautiful thing. When you were younger, you'd runway up and down the hall in your mother's pumps, feeling tall, sexy and confident, as if you were the queen of the world. And then came the day when you were old enough to purchase your very own pair. We'd like to suggest you… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY CLOGS

    The Shoe Mill

    There was a time, we must admit, when we wanted to wear clogs but didn't, afraid someone might think we were a lesbian. We got over that as soon as we slipped a toe into a black leather Dansko. These days, it's so hip to be gay we wouldn't mind being mistaken for bi-, but now all the lesbians… More >>
  • BEST CLOTHING RETAILER WITH A CONSCIENCE

    Objects

    We're not ready to canonize Objects owner Tina Liston just yet. But we're hard-pressed to find a clothing retailer with as big a heart. Since opening last year at the Biltmore, Objects -- which sells hard-to-find designer clothing, and harder-to-find home furnishings from around the world -- has held in-store art shows and charity benefits for tsunami relief (raising more… More >>
  • BEST BARGAIN CLOTHES

    Last Chance Bargain Shoes & Apparel

    This Best of Phoenix is brought to you by a metrosexual man in Mephisto shoes, Bugachi shirt and Indigo Palms jeans. Suggested retail: $590. Last Chance price: $59. That's a 90 percent discount, just about average for this clearinghouse dive for leftovers, returns and misfit dolls from the nation's Nordstrom department stores. Yes, it is a dive, something akin to… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SPEND YOUR ALLOWANCE

    Here on the Corner

    For years, we've waited for someone to open a cute boutique near Arizona State University, a place where it's just as much fun to browse as to buy, and where even a cash-strapped coed can find a stylish little something to spruce up that outfit from Old Navy. And then we stumbled into Here on the Corner. We love the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PASS THE TIME

    Artafax

    Looking for the ideal housewares gift for your too-cool-for-school pal? Head over to Artafax in the Kierland Commons shopping plaza for everything from cool place settings to knickknacks that will knock your smock off. What moved us about the store for Gucci hipsters on a recent visit was the inordinate number of far-out clocks on its walls, many by Dutch… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A MAKE-UP GIFT

    Tiffany & Co.

    If there'd been any way to buy one of those light-blue Tiffany boxes on the black market, we could've saved a mint by snagging the box and heading over to the discount jewelry mart for a cheapo trinket. Alas, you've gotta pay to collect a Tiffany box. Sometimes, there's no substitute. Yep, we did something so wrong, we were forced… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A GREETING CARD

    The Store at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

    We think this classy museum emporium is just about the best place to buy anything, but it's unparalleled in the area of greeting cards, thanks to the exquisite eye of Janice Bartczak, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts' Director of Retail Operations (a fancy-schmancy name for head buyer). No Hallmark here. Rather, Bartczak stocks The Store with an assortment… More >>
  • BEST MAGAZINE RACK

    Borders Books & Music Tempe

    It's kind of sad to admit that we really researched this, but indeed, we did -- that's how hooked we are on magazines. The god of glossies still hasn't answered our prayer for an independent, can't-miss newsstand downtown, so for now, we schlep to the crown jewel of Mill Avenue's chain-store lineup for our fix. Quite simply, there are just… More >>
  • BEST BOOKSTORE

    Changing Hands Bookstore

    The kind folks at Changing Hands are so helpful. They publish a monthly newsletter, complete with a full listing of the events held at the store, which include costumed storytelling for kids, grown-up authors like Scott Simon and Hillary Clinton, and a variety of writing classes. Ask a staff member for a book, and it's in your hands before you… More >>
  • BEST COLLECTIBLE BOOKSTORE

    The Antiquarian Shop - CLOSED

    With the passing of George Chamberlain in January, Arizona lost its dean of booksellers. The erudite Mr. Chamberlain held court in the same location for 40 years, and now his daughter Ann Chamberlain Maroe has relocated from Oregon and her own bookshop to continue her father's legacy. There are many Valley bookshops where one can pick up a copy of… More >>
  • BEST COMIC BOOK STORE

    Samurai Comics - CLOSED

    Here in the Valley, the comic book landscape seems to be dominated by ginormous Atomic-powered retail establishments that are "All About Books and Comics." These titans of the sequential art set draw teenagers and other socially maladjusted hooligans from Tempe to Tolleson into their establishments with the latest multi-paneled, four-color adventures from a cadre of superheroes, or exclusive signing sessions… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO "RENT" A MOVIE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF

    Burton Barr Central Library

    When you get right down to it, you have to be pretty cheap these days to want to actually rent the video or DVD rather than buy it. After you rent the damn thing and bring it back late, it'll cost you about the same amount of scratch it would have if you'd bought it new from the beginning. (This… More >>
  • BEST BLOOM

    Hot Haus

    Sometimes, the whole mall scene in the Valley gets depressing, with the search for originality. Let's face it: That platter you got at Pottery Barn might be super-cute, but it's sitting on the Crate & Barrel dining room table of several thousand other super-cute shoppers. That's why we love Haus. When the owners moved from the street to the mall… More >>
  • BEST ALTERNATIVE TO SENDING FLOWERS

    The Brownie Connection - CLOSED

    Sure, flowers are pretty, but they wilt. Wouldn't you rather have a little nosh? For a long time, we ignored the offerings of the Brownie Connection, turned off by the boring packaging. But now we must admit we've learned, you can't judge a brownie by its cover. When a friend finally shoved one (okay, several) of these under our noses,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A GIFT FOR YOUR DOG

    Greta's Pet Boutique

    Greta the Weimaraner greets you at the door of the store that bears her name, and she'll follow you around as you browse through a fab collection of dog and cat gear you won't find at PETsMART. There are gift sets of pink and blue baby items for girl puppies and boy puppies, gift baskets of pet bath items, pink… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A JACARANDA TREE

    Moon Valley Nurseries

    Our pick for the most spectacular tree found in the Valley is the jacaranda, with its spectacular summer show of vivid lilac-blue trumpet-shaped flowers. Many Valley nurseries carry them, but the best selection of jacarandas and all other varieties is at Moon Valley Nurseries. Palms, citrus and desert favorites like paloverde are here by the thousands -- visiting a Moon… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A DESERT PLANT

    Desert Gardens Nursery

    Granted, it's tough to top Desert Botanical Garden's annual spring and fall plant sales for snagging rare cactuses and euphorbia, but where do you find 'em the other 50 weeks of the year? We go to Desert Gardens Nursery, on Cave Creek Road just north of the 101. This blooming oasis, lovingly tended by a helpful and personable man named… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A GIANT PLASTER CHERUB

    The Garden Party

    We admit it: We live in a house overflowing with rococo kitsch, the sort of stuff you'd find in a brothel that had been decorated by Charles Nelson Reilly. Velveteen draperies; gilded urn lamps; claw-foot everything. And until recently, we thought we had the edge on cool home furnishings, because we shop weekly at The Garden Party, a mini-museum of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A BIRDHOUSE

    Weathered Wonders

    Your garden needs one of David Bruce's birdhouses. Bruce makes each of his avian abodes by hand, in a shop in the back of his central Phoenix store, from old wood, doorknobs, pieces of tin, and whatever else he scavenges from abandoned buildings and alleys. Some are made in the manner of English cottages, others like Spanish mission churches, and… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A LIVE CHICKEN

    Pratt's Pet Store

    Need a pair of great tits? They're birds, pervert, and just one of dozens of varieties we found at Pratt's, a family-owned and operated business that started as a feed store back in 1936 but is now, as the staff tee shirts say, "the Unofficial Glendale Zoo." As the outskirts of town have shifted, so has Pratt's marketing emphasis. Instead… More >>
  • BEST VINTAGE TOYS

    Auntie Em's Miniatures

    There are a couple of small signs just inside the front door of Auntie Em's that read, in both English and Spanish, "Parents: Please watch your children. Expensive toys." The placards don't lie, Mom, as this downtown Glendale curio shop is crammed with a plethora of pricey playthings dating back to the 1940s -- things that've been placed in glass… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO FIND MELISSA AND DOUG TOYS

    The Book Connection

    The Book Connection is an odd little business, a shop just steps away from the ultimate independent bookstore (in these parts, anyway), Changing Hands. But there it is, tiny in comparison, with rows of used books and a few Melissa and Doug puzzles in the window. Melissa and Doug toys are one of life's true joys. They're almost all… More >>
  • BEST MALL EXPERIENCE WITH KIDS

    Scottsdale Fashion Square

    To be honest, our perfect shopping trip to Scottsdale Fashion Square consists of stops at the new Anthropologie and the expanded Sephora, then a long, long stop in Neiman Marcus, followed by cocktails in the bar at Kona Grill. Ah, but we digress. This is a trip for the kids, and so there will be none of the above.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY KIDS' CLOTHES

    This Little Piggy Wears Cotton

    We were so happy to see This Little Piggy come home to the Biltmore, where it belongs, rather than tucked away at the Borgata in Scottsdale -- a place we always, frankly, forget is there. Piggy's new (old) location is sweet, with two huge rooms packed with toys and kid accessories. But our favorite part of this Santa Barbara-based children's… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY KIDS' USED CLOTHES

    Urban Baby Exchange

    Our Number 1 rule for buying used clothing: Shop in the neighborhood of the people you aspire to dress like. For us, that's north central Phoenix, particularly when it comes to the fashion sense of that 'hood's little people. We hit Urban Baby Exchange, and we weren't disappointed. For less than $25, we scored two Baby Lulu outfits -- a… More >>
  • BEST CHILDREN'S SHOE BOUTIQUE

    Bearly Kidding - CLOSED

    The selection of kids' and infants' shoes at Bearly Kidding -- especially the dress shoes -- is to die for. Perhaps even better, you won't be left to your own devices. A member of BK's knowledgeable staff is always at the ready to measure your muffin's foot and dispense sound advice about style and fit. So pick out some stylish… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A KID BIRTHDAY GIFT

    Arizona Museum for Youth gift shop

    The wonderful assortment of books and fun-but-educational toys in this gift shop is the most thoughtful part of the Arizona Museum for Youth. We particularly appreciated the cuddly staffers at the gift shop who, unlike the museum guards, were friendly and encouraged our kids to browse and touch toys. We understand the need to protect precious art, certainly, but why… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A BABY GIFT

    Baby Bliss

    We swear, we don't want any more kids, but a walk through Baby Bliss makes the thought of procreation -- or at least, the notion of another baby shower -- very tempting. The small shop adjacent to Domestic Bliss (a home store that makes you want to nest like crazy) is crammed full of only the sweetest, cutest, most awwwww-inspiring… More >>
  • BEST MAKER OF FINE ADULT BABY FURNITURE

    Santiago LLC, a.k.a. babyapparels.com

    When the producers of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation needed props for a curious caper titled "King Baby" that aired back in February, they went to Mike Sally and his adult baby/diaper lover (AB/DL) business, babyapparels.com. And, yes, the folks at CSI had plenty of other options for their episode about the murder of a grown man who had a secret… More >>
  • BEST CATALOGUE FANTASY COME TRUE

    Design Within Reach

    Eames and Bertoia and Starck, oh my! Yeah, this is dangerous territory if you love modern furniture. We can barely contain our drool when the gorgeous, glossy Design Within Reach catalogue arrives in the mail, so visiting this spacious new retail showroom -- which brings gleaming Mies van der Rohe chairs and glowing Noguchi lamps into three dazzling dimensions --… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A LAMP AND A MEATBALL

    IKEA

    The super-cool home decor at IKEA is so inexpensive that shopping there is almost like shopping for free. Or at least like having a perennial 50-percent-off coupon. Because where else are you going to get such a shiny lacquered bookcase for under $100? Where in the world but IKEA can anyone come away with a pine Tansu coffee table that's… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO FIND ESTATE SALES

    Family Heritage Estate Sales, Inc.

    Death can be so darned messy, but Family Heritage has been helping to tidy up the loose ends for more than 20 years. The Phoenix-based company's slogan is "We do the work so you don't have to," and what fine work it does. There are scores of estate-sale liquidators operating in the Valley, but none better than Gary Landi and… More >>
  • BEST JUNKYARD

    Ecology Auto Parts

    Where can you shop in the Valley where destroying the inventory to get at something you want isn't against the rules? The Ecology Auto Parts junkyard, that's where. This used car parts oasis features the usual next-to-nothing customer service, car parts infested with bird feces, and shoppers covered in greasy oil. What distinguishes Ecology from the other guys is the… More >>
  • BEST ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE STORE

    Relics

    There must be fabulous garage sales in Europe. How else to explain the amazing castoffs that turn up in this store? Like a 250-year-old santo from Prague; a 60-year-old steel medical table from Belgium; and a three-foot-high, 150-year-old ceramic water jug from Crete. Oh, and don't forget the set of four-foot-tall clock faces from a tower in Holland. (A local… More >>
  • BEST ANTIQUE MALL

    Superstition Grand Antique Mall

    Location, location, location. What's gospel for Realtors also holds true for antique malls, only in reverse. This Grand Old Dame's address on the Valley's eastern fringe means lower prices -- typically by about a third -- than those at similar antique emporiums located in the urban core. There is also, in our opinion, a better selection of quality items on… More >>
  • BEST UPSCALE ANTIQUES

    Willo Historic District Antiques

    Sometimes, even on days when antiquing isn't in our budget, we drop in on this elegant collection of old furniture and art, because it's almost like visiting a tiny museum of what was once considered beautiful in-home decor. Although Phoenix is lousy with antiques shops, Willo Historic District Antiques is the only one that reminds us of the super-stylish shops… More >>
  • BEST ASIAN ANTIQUES

    Echoes of Asia

    The middle of the desert Southwest is not exactly where you'd think to look first for Asian antiques and decorative accessories. But Scottsdale's Echoes of Asia is where you'll find some of the finest Asian and Southeast Asian pieces we've seen outside of tony boutiques in L.A., San Francisco and New York. Located in the Scottsdale Airpark, this relatively… More >>
  • BEST MID-CENTURY FURNITURE

    d.a.'s Modern - CLOSED

    When it comes to home furnishings, Tuscan is as over as Michael Jackson's career. Modern is the new new thing: sofas on skinny metal legs, TV lamps, faux abstract-expressionist sofa art. Dave Alvarez (d.a., get it?) scours estate sales from Beverly Hills to Palm Springs looking for vintage high-end modern furnishings. He comes home with some treasures. d.a.'s has… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO FIND A '50S SPUTNIK LAMP

    Modern Lighting

    What's old is new again, as they say in the fashion and furnishings biz. And if it's old you're looking for, as in 1940s, 1950s and 1960s old, Modern Lighting is a not-to-be-missed destination for any connoisseur of vintage funk. From goofy to gorgeous, this small store has stuff literally hanging from the rafters and taking up every available inch… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A ZEBRA MASK

    Black Market Minerals

    This place has umpteen thousand shiny rocks -- for jewelry, for metaphysical conjuring, for decorating your home. Whether you're looking for amethyst, quartz or feldspar, this is the place. What drew us to the store originally was its collection of what appeared to be African animal and death masks (turns out they're Indonesian, but they're still cool). We had… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY EVERYTHING FROM A DINETTE SET TO A STUFFED PIRATE

    Furniture Row, Bell Road at 28th Street

    There's nothing conventional about a couple of the stores on Furniture Row, where you could accessorize your entire home without leaving the parking lot. The best of the places along the strip offer cool secondhand stuff. There are about half a dozen businesses here, the crème de la crème being Eclectica and Cupid's Furniture. We purchased a killer retooled dinette… More >>
  • BEST TRIM

    H & R Sales

    If you're in the market for key tassels, beaded fringe, tiebacks, bullions or similar trimmings, you've come to the right place. H & R carries a wide assortment of the fancy stuff, as well as related items and accessories for home-decor improvement. Depending on your mood and needs, you might find some new legs for that vintage couch or a… More >>
  • BEST KNITTING MATERIALS

    Arizona Knitting and Needlepoint - CLOSED

    These days, knitting is hotter than a nickel on a car seat. With-it Valley knitters tend to flock to Arizona Knitting, a floor-to-ceiling mass of high-quality yarns and fibers, as well as needles, crochet hooks and needlecraft paraphernalia. It also stocks a surprisingly thorough collection of literature on the subjects of knitting, crocheting and needlepoint. The most endearing quality of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO RHINESTONE YOUR PHONE

    Diane Ribbon and Notion

    Considering that we still haven't figured out how to enter phone numbers into our cell phone (which we've had for a year now), we're not so sure we're candidates for phone rhinestoning, the hottest craft trend among the under-20 set. What are those kids doing with cell phones, anyway? And do you think any of them would be willing to… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DIG FOR BURIED BEAD TREASURE

    Beads Galore

    You know something's become way too mainstream when PBS creates a TV series about it, like the new one just for jewelry-making and bead-stringing (we haven't yet gotten Beads, Baubles and Jewels in the Valley, sponsored in large part by Fire Mountain Gems, so start vigorously lobbying our local PBS station now). But long before the craze hit, Beads Galore,… More >>
  • BEST NEW BEAD SHOP

    Bead World

    Sandwiched between a pottery-painting enterprise and a florist shop in a small strip mall adjacent to a floridly decorated Chinese restaurant, Bead World isn't much to look at from the outside. But swing open that glass door and, if you're a beader, an involuntary gasp will slide from your jaded lips. Though small, this new bead shop is artfully covered… More >>
  • BEST STRINGABLE GEMS

    AZ Gems Gifts & Beads

    If beads were edible, we suspect we would be considered morbidly obese at this point. Our insatiable appetite for the latest in jewelry-making components has even driven us to brave the wilds of the world-renowned Tucson Gem and Mineral Show every February for days on end. When the show is over, we pine for the high quality and good deals… More >>
  • BEST SCRAPBOOK SUPPLIES

    Scrapbooks Etc.

    Locally owned Scrapbooks Etc. provides a haven for both serious and novice scrappers, all of whom walk around in a joyful haze amid the store's extensive -- and we do mean extensive -- selection of scrapbook- and album-making supplies. You'll find printed and solid-color papers of every conceivable hue and weight (including vellum and heavy cardstock), as well as punches,… More >>
  • BEST PAPER SHOP

    The Paper Studio

    Phoenix still doesn't have a chapter of the Church of Craft -- the campy club that's popped up in other cities, devoted to, you guessed it, the art of craft. (Check it out at www.churchofcraft.org -- start a chapter here and we promise you a Best of Phoenix next year!) But we've got better -- we've got Cindy and Gary… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A PINK BAKERY BOX

    ABC Baking Cake Decorating & Party Supplies

    We're not so good at decorating cakes, but we do love the boxes they come in. Not sure why, maybe it's a throwback to too many trips to Karsh's Bakery with Mom, back in the day. In any case, we go crazy for pink bakery boxes, and we've found the place to buy them: ABC. From cupcake-tiny to extra large… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET COOKIN'

    Kitchen Classics - CLOSED

    Misplaced your crème brûlée torch, or desperately seeking a salt pig? Kitchen Classics is the place for you. This store (you can also order online) is well known around town as the place to go for hard-to-find kitchen supplies. From high-end specialties to everyday spatulas, you can find it here, or, if you can't find it, the staff will help… More >>
  • BEST STRIP MALL

    La Grande Orange

    Anyone who laments Phoenix as a minefield of strip malls needs to head straight to the southwest corner of 40th Street and Campbell Avenue, to see what Kris and Craig DeMarco have done. Sure, they had a big shell of a former post office, which is now the wine bar Postino, but they also spearheaded the groovy makeover of the… More >>
  • BEST WINE SELECTION

    Kazimierz World Wine Bar

    If some wine lists are like poems or short stories, then Kazimierz World Wine Bar's list is like reading a Russian novelist of old -- like Tolstoy or Dostoevsky. You're not going to finish it in one sitting. As Yoda might say, overwhelmed you will be. After all, the list is made up of 2,600 wines from 40 countries, with… More >>
  • BEST CHEESE SELECTION

    Whole Foods Market

    Be it from cow, goat, sheep, yak, llama or any other milkable mammal, we crave cheese in all its fat-laden, smelly grandeur. From mild-mannered Monterey Jack, Gruyère, Gouda and Havarti to rock-on Roquefort, Castello, Brie and Manchego, we can't get enough of the stuff, so it's a good thing we're near a Whole Foods Market, where the selection is nothing… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A STILL ALMOST WRITHING WILD ALASKAN SALMON

    Alaska Family Salmon

    Once you've tasted real wild salmon, you can't ever go back to those sea spuds of the deep -- you know, the tasteless, fatty, red-food-coloring-added, farm-raised variety that swim lazily around in their pens doing the backstroke and munching on prefab fish-food pellets. And we've found just the place where you can get the wild stuff all year long: Alaska… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY BREAD FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN'T EAT IT

    Gluten Free for You

    For the one in every 133 people who suffers from genetic autoimmune gluten intolerance in one form or another, jokes about the Texas Two-Step and Montezuma's Revenge are not particularly funny. Nor is the fact that these people can't ingest any grain product containing gluten (including wheat, rye and barley) without suffering even more severe consequences, like intestinal damage, joint… More >>
  • BEST GERMAN BAKERY

    Old Heidelberg German Bakery

    From the pretzels to the strudel, this outpost of the old country is the finest place in town to find fresh-baked German goods. We also had fun browsing the aisles of the small market. Who knew so many varieties of gummis existed? Old Heidelberg also features a wide selection of sausage, and, judging by the accents we overheard on our… More >>
  • BEST JEWISH BAKERY

    Karsh's Bakery - CLOSED

    If you walk into a Valley bakery and ask for mandel bread (instead of biscotti) or challah (rather than egg bread), some folks around here might think you're a little meshugana. But not the staff at Karsh's. They've run the Jewish bakery in town for decades, providing the city with rugalach, bagels and onion rolls. You can get the best… More >>
  • BEST ICED COOKIES

    Barb's Bakery

    The folks at Barb's are so accommodating when it comes to decorating their infamous iced cookies that we once brought Mexican paper flowers and asked if they could match the colors. They could, and unfortunately (because we didn't think ahead) our guests left the party smeared with shocking pink, red and dark purple icing. Yuck. We suggest you stick to… More >>
  • BEST SAUSAGE FEST

    Stanley's Home Made Sausage Co. - CLOSED

    This is the best sausage fest ever: meaty butts, thick kielbasas, and Hungarians that'll leave your mouth orange with paprika. May sound like the after-party for an all-male revue, but get your gray matter out of the gutter! We're talking about McDowell's own Stanley's Home Made Sausage Co., which has been in business since 1963 under three sets of owners.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A KNISH AND A PLATE TO PUT IT ON

    Yasha From Russia European Market

    After a trip to Yasha From Russia, we really wish we could read Russian, Bulgarian, even a smidge of Turkish. That's because the majority of labels in this incredible deli market are written in those languages and several others that use the Cyrillic alphabet, which is Greek to us, so to speak. Where do we begin? Yasha has one of… More >>
  • BEST INTERSECTION FOR HOMESICK VIETNAMESE

    Dobson and Warner roads, Chandler

    Hundreds of Asians make their way to this part of town every weekend as if it were some sort of Vietnamese Mecca, and with good reason: Not only can you score a bowl of pho -- rice noodles in fragrant beef broth -- at the Vietnamese restaurant Yen Mi, but after your meal, you can walk next door to one… More >>
  • BEST STREET FOR HOMESICK KOREANS

    Northwest corner of Dobson Road and Southern Avenue, Mesa

    If the only thing you know about Korean culture is what you learned from reruns of M*A*S*H, it's time to turn off the tube and make a trip to this Mesa strip mall. There are the standard favorites: a Korean grocery store (Asiana Market) to pick up some kimchee, and a restaurant (Hodori) that serves huge portions of kalbi (Korean… More >>
  • BEST STRIP MALL FOR HOMESICK JAPANESE

    Southeast corner of Priest and University drives, Tempe

    If home is where the heart is, and the best way to a person's heart is through the stomach, then Japanese natives longing for the Land of the Rising Sun will find no better cure for homesickness -- or hunger -- than a visit to this tiny Tempe strip mall, where food is the main attraction. For chicken teriyaki that's… More >>
  • BEST STRIP MALL FOR HOMESICK SOMALIS

    5050 East McDowell Road

    According to the Somali Association of Arizona, there are more than 5,000 Somalis living in Arizona. The majority of them have moved to Phoenix in the past five years, and the Somali presence is especially noticeable along McDowell Road in east Phoenix. Indeed, the unnamed strip mall located at the northwest corner of 51st Street and McDowell should be dubbed… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO GET FROM SAN SALVADOR TO SARAJEVO IN UNDER 10 SECONDS

    The strip mall at 3411 West Northern Avenue

    Screw the travel agent. In a tiny strip mall near 35th Avenue and Northern, you can go from San Salvador to Sarajevo in under 10 seconds, just by walking from Hugo's Salvadorean Restaurant on one end to Cafe Sarajevo on the other. At Hugo's, you'll wish you'd brought your Spanish phrasebook along, as you point out a plate of pork… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN GROCERY STORE

    Baiz Market

    Until a long-established Phoenician friend of ours from Jordan turned us on to it, we had no idea that one of the best Middle Eastern grocery stores in the Valley was right under our noses. Like a small, shimmering oasis, Baiz (pronounced "bays") Market appears out of nowhere, a nondescript white 1950s building in the middle of a quiet residential… More >>
  • BEST ASIAN MARKET

    Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket

    Why do we like Lee Lee so much? Well, let's just say there's another ethnic market somewhere in the Valley that we've visited and sometimes found dead fish floating in the fish tank. We've never seen that at Lee Lee. Rather, each section is well-kept and unusually clean considering the sheer volume of people who shop at Lee Lee on… More >>
  • BEST CHINESE PASTRIES

    99 Ranch Market

    There is one place in the Valley you can score authentic Chinese baked goods. 99 Ranch Market in the Chinese Cultural Center is the best alternative to laying your hands on a slice of Asian goodness short of driving hundreds of miles to the nearest Chinatown. Behind the glass cases, Taiwanese cakes, complete with light cream (instead of spackle-like butter-cream)… More >>
  • BEST JAPANESE SNACKS

    New Tokyo Food Market

    The Japanese have got tons of wacky snacks, and no place in town offers better evidence of this benign cultural stereotype than the west-side Japanese grocery store New Tokyo Food Market, which has the best selection we've seen in town. At New Tokyo, you'll find dried squid snacks like "Let's Party Squid," dried sea eel that looks like pork rinds,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET SOME FLAVOR

    Pop: The Soda Shop - CLOSED

    Despite our love of new technology, we sometimes need a little blast from the past. Although soda shops were filled on weekend date nights back in the 1950s, after they vanished, flavored sodas mostly went with them. If you're hunting for the memory of sarsaparilla or just a swell swig of one of the several Jones Soda flavors not found… More >>
  • BEST GELATO

    Angel Sweet

    Technically, at least, Italian gelato is better for you than regular ol' American ice cream. Like they used to say of Miller Lite back in the day (and may still do, as far as we know), it tastes great and is less filling. Indeed, gelato uses less milk fat during its production (the FDA mandates at least 10 percent milk… More >>
  • BEST 25-CENT ICE CREAM CONE

    Pizza Mart

    The vintage storefront and prices are certainly evidence that not much has changed since 1982, when Pizza Mart began serving up cheap eats and a certain cold, sugary treat for people in search of an inexpensive meal. Opened in 1972 as a Village Inn Pizza joint, the oddly triangular-shaped red brick, wood, and corrugated sheet metal structure has been turned… More >>
  • BEST 25-CENT CUP OF COFFEE

    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… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET WIRED

    E-Joy Cafe - CLOSED

    It's three days until that thesis is due, and a virus from a pop-up promoting Lonely Housewives Begging for More has just eaten up the hard drive of an outdated computer you found on Craigslist. Access to the magic of the information superhighway has been lost, but luckily all the hours of work were saved on a faithful floppy. But… More >>
  • BEST COFFEE HOUSE TO PRETEND YOU'RE IN L.A.

    The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

    The Coffee Bean is to Southern California what Starbucks is to Seattle -- on every corner, ready to turn the unsuspecting into $4-a-day latte addicts. There are far fewer Coffee Beans than there are Starbucks, but chances are you've seen a Coffee Bean or two in your day -- in a sitcom or a reality show, or, even more likely,… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, CENTRAL PHOENIX

    Lux Coffeebar

    In a city where we have to drive everywhere anyway, we're happy to extend our definition of "neighborhood" by a few miles to include Lux in our locality. While plenty of folks really do come here on foot, many more are willing to cruise past their corner Starbucks -- or even a few of them -- just to lounge on… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, WEST VALLEY

    Espresso Garden - CLOSED

    This quaint coffee commissary located in downtown Glendale wants a piece of the caffeinated action. Steel your wiry nerves, business-minded baristas, 'cause instead of wi-fi access or Joni Mitchell CDs, the smallish Espresso Garden offers a kinder, gentler java junction built into the converted garage of a Victorian-era home and teahouse. Within the country-store-like setting -- complete with checkerboards painted… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, NORTH PHOENIX

    Soma Cafe

    This spacious, welcoming room is a regular hangout for all manner of North Tatum habitués, from tat-covered crypto-hipsters to moms, business types and retirees just passing the time. Creature comforts predominate, including soft couches and chairs, a big flat-screen television, computer hookups, and a staff of kind young women (and an obligatory man or two) who try to remember everyone's… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, SOUTHEAST VALLEY

    Coffee Rush

    We get a rush from anything open past 10 that doesn't serve fries. How about some homemade baklava instead? Lakefront property, a nearby Pita Jungle and wireless Internet access means Coffee Rush is always packed. Sans laptop? There's even a computer for customers, gratis. Pick up a giant iced mocha and make everyone jealous because you have the stamina to… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, TEMPE

    Steve's Espresso

    Sometimes, the rest of you forget that Tempe actually extends south of University Drive, beyond Arizona State University and into suburbia. It's there that we find Steve's Espresso, across the street from Target, around the corner from Ace Hardware and next door to a pretty good Indian restaurant. We love Steve's because the crowd's a bit calmer than what we… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, SCOTTSDALE

    The Orange Table

    If you care to sip a latte in Scottsdale, we recommend the Orange Table, tucked into a hard-to-find cranny on the Scottsdale Mall near the Center for the Performing Arts. If you're seeking a frou-frou coffee drink or just a plain old cup of coffee in a plain old cup, try the Table. The small coffee-house-cum-eatery will satisfy your caffeine… More >>
  • BEST 24-HOUR COFFEE SHOP

    Counter Culture Café

    Monique and Andres Yuhnke opened Counter Culture Café with hopes of becoming the late-night hangout spot, and we have to say they seem to have pulled it off. At the very least, the hip coffee shop that moonlights as a perennial First Friday haunt and a popular dance club oasis has definitely put Denny's and IHOP on the alert. During… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO CUT YOUR CRAP

    Freecycle

    Say you've just spent countless weekends trying to rid your residence of unwanted objects and other oddities, or rushed out to shop, after reading our "Goods and Services" section of Best of Phoenix. After six carport sales, though, no one wants that huge concrete fountain of a cherub pissing in a pool or the soiled patio furniture. There's no way… More >>
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