People & Places

  • BEST GARDEN BAR

    House of Tricks

    The Tricks' garden has Eden beat, no contest. Built around two old houses in downtown Tempe — well off the beaten beer-spilled path of Mill Avenue — the trellised, bricked, vine-covered spot is the perfect place to sit at the bar or relax at a table, with a good glass of wine. And one more thing we can guarantee: No… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET NAKED

    El Dorado Hot Springs

    According to the Bible, our ancient ancestors Adam and Eve grew ashamed at their nudity in the Garden of Eden after sampling forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge, and thusly, mankind was forever cursed with a sense of body modesty. Well, you can finally feel good about dropping trou outside the confines of your residence (without getting thrown in… More >>
  • BEST APPLETINI

    Grilled Expedition at Desert Ridge Marketplace

    The appletini is the quintessential frou-frou cocktail. Flirty. Tasteful. Fun. Grilled Expedition at Desert Ridge Marketplace offers an appletini that's shaken, not stirred, and garnished with a Granny Smith apple slice. Its house special martini isn't exactly a trade secret — just vodka with a splash of sour apple liquor — but the restaurant's bartenders manage to get just the… More >>
  • BEST GARDEN OF EDEN IN THE DESERT

    The Wright House

    Phoenix summers are hell. By August, the only flowers left alive in this town are on night-blooming cactuses. Wright House proprietors Peggy and Michael Wright must have made a pact with Satan's gardener, because somehow their lush landscaping manages to stay green and flowering nearly all year. The property houses three buildings — a historic cottage house, an English ballroom… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PISS OFF GOD

    Apollo's Greek God Revue on Sundays

    For those of you who specialize in committing the most profane acts of immorality, now you can royally piss off God in a variety of ways at Apollo's Greek God Revue. As if the infamously sassy GLBT clientele that frequents Apollo's wasn't enough to get on the Lord's bad side, now guests can further annoy the Most High with the… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO TURN YOUR BLACK THUMB GREEN

    Garden Territory at The Farm

    So your last houseplant turned black, you think putting leftover meat loaf in your orchid's pot means you've fed it, and you've now proven (multiple times) that you can, in fact, kill a cactus. No worries. The folks at Garden Territory have heard it all before. The shop offers gardening classes for all skill levels, from novice to seasoned grower.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO TAKE YOUR SHIRT OFF

    Monkey Pants Bar & Grill

    After attending a few of Monkey Pants' "One O'Clock Shirtless Shot" promotions, we wholeheartedly endorse going topless at this wacky watering hole in Tempe. A single one-cent shot of any liquor in stock — including such premium spirits as Patrσn and Hennessey — is doled out to anyone engaging in the half-naked high jinks (ladies are required to wear bras).… More >>
  • BEST COMMUNITY GARDEN

    Scottsdale Community College Community Garden

    How does your garden grow? Probably quite nicely, if you've hooked up with the folks at the cooperative garden at Scottsdale Community College. Spread across a couple acres on the northeast end of campus, a fragrant plot of tilled earth has provided fertile soil for SCC's students, faculty, neighbors, and other local residents to cultivate all manner of fabulous flora… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DANCE NEARLY NAKED

    Underwear Night at Pat O's Bunkhouse Saloon

    Underwear night definitely operates under the premise "less is more." Every Thursday night, promiscuous persons flaunt what they've got at the LGBT-friendly bar while enjoying all-night drink specials. The house lights aren't the only thing that drops at 9 p.m. when men move and groove on the dance floor in tighty whiteys, and exposed ladies shake it all out to… More >>
  • BEST ECUMENICAL HISSY FIT

    Father Francis LeBlanc versus the Diocese of Phoenix

    Father Francis LeBlanc leads a church in El Mirage that celebrates the traditional Latin Mass as well as numerous other ancient Catholic rites. The rest of the Valley's Catholics celebrate the modern Mass born out of the widespread modernization of the Catholic Church in the 1960s known as Vatican II. Because LeBlanc refused to change to the modern-style Mass, he… More >>
  • BEST KIDDY-DIDDLER

    Warren Jeffs

    Now, there's a lot of competition for this honor. We've read of pedophiles in Arizona who've each accosted scores of children. But Warren Jeffs, prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has not only had sex with minors himself, he's required multitudes of his followers to commit the crime since he took over as Polygamyland's top… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE HOT, SWEATY PAINTED BOOBS

    The Ozzfest Tour

    As if the spectacle of having contest booths involving kicking a soccer ball into some dude's face from 30 feet away and hordes of head-bangers running around in black tee shirts wasn't entertaining enough, Ozzfest's newest sideshow attraction is guaranteed to get more ogles than Anna Nicole Smith bending over in a tube top. The body-painting booth (or tent) has… More >>
  • BEST OVER-DIDDLING OF A KIDDY-DIDDLER

    Dale Fushek

    To be honest, we're actually beginning to feel a little sorry for Father Dale. When New Times broke the story of the friar's alleged frivolity with naked young men, we went to great lengths to explain that the best evidence suggested Fushek only seemed to get really frisky once the young postulates were of legal age. Really, with the evidence… More >>
  • BEST PUDDING WRESTLING

    Jugheads - CLOSED

    How to make a pudding wrestling match: Add eight parts hot, tattoo-covered chicks, four parts fishnets (of course), one part grungy punk bar, and stir in gallons of yellow pudding — we'll let you draw your own conclusions about what it looks like. Jugheads, Phoenix's perennial dirty punk-rock bar, and the Dirty Darlins of Debauchery, the Valley's first (and only)… More >>
  • BEST SIGN OF GOD

    Calvary Community Church

    The Lord works in mysterious ways these days. Gone are the times of consulting a Virgin Mary-shaped potato or Dionne Warwick for a little guidance from on high. Nowadays, all Phoenicians have to do to tap into the divine for some instant encouragement is look up — at that big, bright sign on the freeway, that is. Thanks to the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HANG WITH JESUS

    onePlace

    Hipsters have a demanding to-do list lately: get hair to do that floppy-do, hang-dramatically-to-the-side thing, update MySpace pictures, and find God. Luckily, among the art galleries and dive bars of the Grand Avenue scene is onePlace, the nightclub with a secret identity. While some of you may be familiar with the shows thrown at the cool, clean downtown venue,… More >>
  • BEST SIGN OF CHANGE

    Mr. Tile

    If urban life has taught us anything, it's that no savvy entrepreneur tears down a perfectly good sign. Remove that mammoth mid-century marquee from your frontage, and big government comes a-knockin' with updated display guidelines. Besides, have you seen what new signs cost? So we enjoy the doughnuts of Vinchell's and Wishill's, and we play "spot the former wig store"… More >>
  • BEST CHRISTIAN HIP-HOP ARTISTS

    Urban Artists United

    Jesus has a posse, and we're not talking about the 12 apostles, yo. Nope, this particular Christ-following crew we speaking of are the more than 40 different members of Urban Artists United, an ultra-religious collective of ghetto-fabulous peeps who're down with both God and the hip-hop lifestyle. Co-founder Vocab Malone says UAU consists of rappers such as himself and EmceeQuest,… More >>
  • BEST GRAPHICS

    Jason Hill

    We struggle every day to love Phoenix (or, as we like to put it, to "heart" Phoenix), and one day, we found Jason Hill — he makes it a little easier. Hill, a talented graphic artist, lends his own unique graphic style to iconic Phoenix buildings you never knew were iconic, 'til Hill got ahold of them. Thank you, Jason.… More >>
  • BEST HOLY LOCAL BAND

    Andrew Jackson Jihad

    Whether the almighty Jihad is shredding the bandstand at the Trunk Space, Great Arizona Puppet Theater, or Modified Arts, there's sure to be a rabid cult following singing every hyperactive, hilarious, and politically charged absurdity. The band is centered on the duo core of upright bassist Benjamin Ora Gallaty and acoustic guitarist/main vocalist Sean-Claude Vincent Bonnette, who screams out demented… More >>
  • BEST PEOPLE-WATCHING

    Arizona Mills

    Hey, you. Yes, you! The one sitting at your suburban Starbucks, complaining that the Valley is bland. Head over to Arizona Mills on a Saturday night, and you'll be hit over the head with the fact that you live in a "real" city. Just about any time, but particularly on weekend evenings, Arizona Mills is packed with activity, teeming with… More >>
  • BEST COVER BAND

    The Minibosses

    Instead of taking their cues from MTV or VH1, like other cover bands in these parts, The Minibosses ape video games. That's right — this quarter-wielding quartet of bassist Ben Baraldi, drummer Matt Wood, and guitarists John Lipfert and Aaron Burke look to the Nintendo Entertainment System of the 1980s to build their song list, re-creating soundtracks of such old-school… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE CHICKENS ROAMING THE STREETS

    Harmony Neighborhood

    No doubt about it, this quiet east Phoenix residential district is for the birds. Namely, the neighborhood, located north of Thomas Road between 32nd and 36th streets, has been overrun by dozens of chickens, as well as guinea fowl, quail and peacocks. Having become fruitful and multiplied after escaping from a couple of small ranches nearby, these carefree cluckers live… More >>
  • BEST OLD TYME BLUES

    Paris James

    Phoenix is a long way from the bayou, but if you look hard enough, you'll find a small but talented group of old tyme musicians. The type of broke-down, Deep South kind of musicians that command you to stomp your feet and clap your hands, bringing to mind a time gone by in a place you've never lived, but feel… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL MYSPACE FIND

    The Love Me Nots

    On a massive site like MySpace, which features millions of bands, it's not always about the number of hits a band's profile receives, but who's hitting it up. Local garage go-go band The Love Me Nots had only been together for a month before they posted a MySpace profile, and within three months, the band hooked up with renowned garage… More >>
  • BEST PARTY MONSTERS

    Sadisco

    All dressed up and no place to go? Head to Sadisco and get your freak on all night with like-minded evil geniuses who have a taste for leather, vinyl, and outrageous hair. At this sort-of-monthly dance party, held at nightspots including Mardi Gras and Jugheads, the soundtrack is as harsh as the eye makeup, with industrial, EBM, noise, and dark… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET IN ON AN ENTERTAINING BITCHFEST

    AZPunk.com

    The Valley's premier punk rock community and networking site serves many purposes — promoting local punk shows, offering merchandise from local bands, and highlighting different local bands each week — but the site component that probably sees the most action is the Message Board, where P-town punks love to get their panties in a bunch at each other, or —… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BE SEEN

    SMoCA Nights at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

    We're feeling a little un-hip lately, mostly because we've been blowing through our 30s faster than you can say "midlife crisis." Since we don't have the dime to drop on either a new roadster or a new wardrobe, we'll get our hepcat groove back by attending the next SMoCA Nights shindig. The bold and the beautiful of the Valley… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO MEET LIKE-MINDED NEIGHBORS WITHOUT LEAVING THE HOUSE

    ModernPhoenix.net

    They call themselves MoPhos, which is short for "Modern Phoenicians," and they're all about preserving the recent past by elevating our consciousness about the importance of local architecture and landmarks. They come together via the occasional home tour, but mostly through a Web site called ModernPhoenix.net, where folks who love mid-century homes and slump-block banks can share their knowledge and… More >>
  • BEST PLACE NOT TO BE SEEN

    Monroe's Food & Fine Spirits

    Visibility is at a premium at this basement-level bar, which is usually shrouded in a state of near darkness, punctuated only by the eerie crimson glow of red ceiling lamps. Serving not only as shady shelter from which to escape the blazing Arizona sun, Monroe's also provides downtown Phoenix denizens with the perfect hiding place to slip away for a… More >>
  • BEST FLIER RACK

    Modified Arts

    Shameless self-promoters love this kick-ass rack, because Modified's smack in the middle of Roosevelt Row, and the Row is the hub of Phoenix's arts scene. What better place to get the word out about your band's next gig or that new experimental-art performance? And the grassroots advertising technique seems to work, as you always see First Friday/Third Friday street crawlers… More >>
  • BEST HOME AWAY FROM HOME

    Homme

    Confession: We love cheap booze as much as anyone, but to be honest, we're a little sick of slump-block dives and cans of PBR. Yet while we yearn to class things up a bit, we can't quite get into a night on the town with the plastics on the east side. Luckily, we've stumbled upon this midtown house turned bar… More >>
  • BEST SCOOP

    Desert Living's SCOOP

    We've gotten to the point where happiness is an empty e-mail inbox, but we're always glad to see SCOOP show up. The folks at Desert Living put together a beautiful magazine, and their weekly SCOOP — full of news about new restaurants, hot parties and good shopping — is always fun. We've learned about Dolce & Gabbana's new cell phone,… More >>
  • BEST DINNER AND A SHOW

    Farrelli's Cinema Supper Club - CLOSED

    Start in the cozy-chic lounge, where specialty martinis are named after movie stars. As you sip and unwind by firelight, you'll honestly forget you're in a strip mall. The seriously yummy food (which takes you, for instance, from a crab-dip-of-the-gods through a high-end steak sandwich to a crème brϋlιe that can hold its head up anywhere in town) is served,… More >>
  • BEST CHICKS TO HAVE YOUR BACK IN A BRAWL

    Arizona Derby Dames

    Suzy Homewrecker. Joan Threat. All the Way Mae. These are just a few of the elbow-slinging, body-banging babes in this all-woman roller-derby league, whose motto is "Live fast, die pretty." When they don't have their game faces on, the Dames are regular Janes — with professions ranging from accountants to teachers — but you'd best not try to snatch their… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A TWILIGHT DRINK

    The courtyard at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa

    Not everyone can hang out at this refurbished historic hotel on Camelback Road — its bar and restaurant are among the only places in town that ban blue jeans. But that's okay with us, mainly because there's something refreshing about seeing people a little bit dressed up, even if it is mostly in khaki. And we really can't think of… More >>
  • BEST SECRET SEX CLUB

    Club Mistress

    Given that Club Mistress is purely a women's play club (a strict "no cameras, no men" rule is enforced at meetings and parties), it's not surprising that the members are so covert. After all, the Mistresses who run the show (other participants are subservient "Girls") are seasoned pros, not exhibitionists looking to entertain the testosterone set. Club Mistress isn't a… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE

    Counter Culture Cafe Poetry Slam

    A first date should be relaxed, fun — and easy to escape if something goes horribly wrong. A 24-hour coffee shop with a weekly poetry slam is exactly what the date doctor prescribes. Counter Culture Cafe is a bohemian hideaway, with art by locals lining the walls, and bookshelves stocked with well-worn tomes to borrow. Seating is varied, which is… More >>
  • BEST LOVE STORY

    Former Mesa Deputy Fire Chief Leroy Johnson's Lamb-Loving

    Firefighters! You gotta love 'em. They save lives. They put out fires. They make a nice pot of chili. And sometimes they screw sheep, too! At least that's what Mesa deputy fire chief Leroy Donald Johnson was accused of doing last March, when he was busted for allegedly screwing his neighbor's lamb. What made this particular chorus of "Baa Baa… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO EAT AT THE BAR

    Zen Bar at Zen 32

    It's time to relax, and one beer stands clear. Not Miller, fools. Kirin Ichiban! A tall frosty pint glass of Kirin will chase away that desert-induced tickle in the back of your throat. Of course, it's best to imbibe where there's the appropriate Nipponese grub, a chill atmosphere, and some bar stars of both sexes for gawking purposes. Hey, you… More >>
  • BEST FAKE LOVE STORY

    HBO's Big Love

    We love what Hollywood does with real-life miscreants, so this year's prime-time television take on polygamy really caught our eye. What HBO's Big Love series lacked in reality it made up for in high cheekbones and even higher-gloss soap opera antics, courtesy of co-creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer and a passel of midlevel movie stars. They took a… More >>
  • BEST HAPPY HOUR

    Caffe Boa

    We love the concept behind happy hour — cheap drinks and eats and a way to avoid traffic for a while after work. But the reality of happy hour usually sucks: We can only consume so many Buffalo wings and Bud Lights. Which is why Caffe Boa is our favorite place to blow off steam, and enjoy libations after… More >>
  • BEST POLLING PLACE

    Freedom Inn at Scottsdale

    Voting ain't what it used to be, at least if the pathetic local and national turnouts in recent years are any indication. But given the choice of sitting on our behinds and whining about the sad state of affairs or casting our votes for whatever sorry sucker somehow strikes our fancy, we'll take the latter. That brings us to this… More >>
  • BEST BYOB

    Giuseppe's Italian Kitchen

    Giuseppe's Italian Kitchen owns this spot, like Mark Cuban owns the Dallas Mavericks. Of course, it costs the Eye-tie eatery a pretty penny. Three hundred of them, to be exact. See, the corkage fee at Giuseppe's, the no-frills eatery with the way-above-average fare that's owned by Richard Bock, principal cellist for the Phoenix Symphony, is only $3 per bottle. That's… More >>
  • BEST POLITICIAN

    Governor Janet Napolitano

    Janet Napolitano's the hands-down champion when it comes to political maneuvering around here. The mere fact that a woman who comes across as this butch can get elected governor and, before that, attorney general in Arizona (of all places) is testament to her political IQ. Plus, she's a bleedin' Democrat! Somehow she's been able to avoid all the hot-button issues,… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BEER

    Sonora Brewhouse

    Whenever we get that little desert tickle in the back of our throats, we do what the po-po do: Park it next to Sonora Brewhouse and amble inside for a pint or three of one of Sonora's locally produced brew-ha-has. Not that we're saying the Phoenix PD drink on the job, but it just so happens that we always see… More >>
  • BEST NEPOTISM

    Don Goldwater

    The word "nepotism" comes from the medieval word for political favoritism shown to the nephews of prelates. What Webster's dictionary failed to do in its explanation was include a link to Don Goldwater's Web site, where the poster boy for nepotism begged voters to do for him what his dead uncle could no longer do — give him a political… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BEER WITH A KICK

    Crazy Ed's Original Cave Creek Chili Beer

    It's appropriate that the hottest beer on the planet is concocted right here in the desert by Cave Creek's Black Mountain Brewing Company, an offshoot of the popular Crazy Ed's Satisfied Frog restaurant/bar. Each bottle of the ferocious firewater is superheated by a nasty little chile pepper, and the attitudinal vegetable leaches its uncaged heat into the surrounding amber. Ed's… More >>
  • BEST HYPOCRITE

    Len Munsil

    Len Munsil is the shiny-happy-people candidate for governor. He's the golden boy of all the folks who pray a lot to a white-haired, white-skinned Christ-bearing God who — oh, wait, holy crap — conceived his first child out of wedlock. As one of the leading voices for Arizona's Christian right, Munsil has spent much of his life lambasting the heretical… More >>
  • BEST BREW PUB

    Four Peaks Brewing Company

    Is there such a thing as a slow night at Four Peaks? Not as far as we can tell. ASU populates this place with young faces, but the draw goes well beyond this quiet residential neighborhood. It's easy to understand why. Eight house-made beers on tap, including the popular Kilt Lifter ale and Oatmeal Stout, plus a rotating seasonal menu… More >>
  • BEST POLITICIAN WITH A FAMILY

    State Senator John Huppenthal

    Those of you in the East Valley have surely grown accustomed to the political campaign billboards of Mormon men. Often, it appears to be an arms race to see which candidate can get more children dressed in white on the billboard. In most cases, the children were sired by the candidate. That's because believers equate procreative prowess with leadership skill.… More >>
  • BEST PITCHERS FOR UNDER A BUCK

    Casey Jones Bar and Grill

    While there's no shortage of places to score cheap drink specials near the Tempe campus, have you ever wondered where the thirsty and broke students at ASU's West campus go to swill? We've got the answer: Casey Jones Bar and Grill, a down and dirty watering hole and game hall located directly across the street from the West campus. … More >>
  • BEST WASTE OF UNGODLY AMOUNTS OF MONEY

    The Kyl/Pederson U.S. Senate Race

    What's with Jim Pederson's mouth? When he speaks, his mouth looks disconnected from the rest of his head. Is it actually his mouth, or has it been replaced by a hand puppet on blue screen? Or is he speaking Japanese with the English dubbed over? So many questions. Don't worry, though. We'll have plenty of time to find answers. Pederson… More >>
  • BEST STARTENDER

    Veronica Newell

    Veronica Newell has been working the patio bar on Friday and Saturday nights at Palazzo/Tranzylvania for two years, and in that time, she's accumulated quite a fan base — partly because she's so fast and friendly, but mostly because she makes a mean mixed drink. Her most popular blend is the Miami Beach, a fruity mix of Hypnotiq, Malibu rum,… More >>
  • BEST MEXICAN BASHER

    Maricopa County Attorney Andy Thomas

    Where do we start with County Attorney Andy Thomas, whom we prefer calling Candy Thomas, because he's a wimpy-looking dude whom some have likened to (ahem . . . ) a candy-ass? Not that his tough-guy actions in office should've led them to believe this. At least not his actions against illegal immigrants. We suggested calling him Puffy Thomas,… More >>
  • BEST VINTAGE DRINK MENU

    Trader Vic's

    In these days of high-octane Red Bull and vodka, there's something infinitely charming about the long list of drinks they're serving up at Scottsdale's new and improved Trader Vic's. The parchment-colored menu features no less than 78 specialties, each one redolent of the bygone era when people used to sip rather than chug. Check out such retro delights as the… More >>
  • BEST BIG MOUTH

    State Senator Jack Harper

    His gums rarely stop flapping, and sometimes that's a good thing. Like the time, early this year, when state Senator Jack Harper (R-Surprise) insisted on holding legislative hearings to investigate the controversial September 7, 2004, District 20 recount, after nearly 500 new votes magically appeared between the primary and the recount. Then again, there was the time Harper went after… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A SCOTCH AND A CIGAR

    George and Dragon English Restaurant and Pub

    If you're planning on visiting the G&D because you've heard the selection of English pub beers and great cozy feel is just scrummy, you might be surprised to find another great secret of the Dragon — in addition to authentic pub drafts and grub, the G&D stocks one of the finest selections of cigars and scotch in the Valley. … More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER

    Sergeant Dan Masters

    Part of being a good reporter is being a pain in the butt when necessary. Part of being a good public information officer for a police department is not taking public records requests personally, and not losing one's cool when someone like us insists on getting his or her grubby little hands on the juicy stuff. We've met dozens of… More >>
  • BEST OLD SCHOOL MARTINI

    The Carson City Martini at Camus

    It doesn't get much cooler than Camus. Not only is the bar/restaurant named after the French existentialist Albert Camus, author of The Stranger and The Plague, it's set in the renovated, boutique-y Clarendon Hotel, which is illuminated by red and blue lights in the evening, and exudes a studied hipster charm. The Clarendon's also a historic site, where investigative reporter… More >>
  • BEST TV REPORTER

    Mike Watkiss

    Some years ago, the great science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury was asked by an audience member after a speech at Arizona State University, "What's the first thing that you'd tell one of your space aliens after they landed on Earth?" Bradbury didn't miss a beat. "Don't watch local TV news," he replied, to a rousing ovation. That said, we are… More >>
  • BEST NEW SCHOOL MARTINI

    Blue Wasabi Sushi and Martini Bar

    This popular establishment, located way up at DC Ranch, is well worth the trip on two engaging fronts. The sushi is excellent. And the signature martinis? Well, bet you'll have at least two. We especially love the "Mowie Wowie," a creative blend of Van Gogh pineapple vodka, tropical schnapps and a pineapple splash. Goes swimmingly with the yellowtail rolls.… More >>
  • BEST TV NEWSCASTER

    Lin Sue Cooney

    We don't know whether it's that '80s hair, the fact that she's Asian or that she projects that motherly TV charm, but Channel 12's Lin Sue Cooney gets our nod this year. We were always turned on by Donna Summer and the other disco queens of the day, and Saturday Night Fever is one of our all-time favorite films.… More >>
  • BEST POMEGRANATE MARTINI

    FEZ

    We'd like this swank downtown nightspot even without the pomegranate martinis — after all, just being able to write "swank downtown nightspot" is something wonderful in Phoenix. But it's this drink in particular that takes our feelings from "like" to pure rapture. Yeah, pomegranate is everywhere this year, but nowhere in town is it so perfectly tart/sweet as in the… More >>
  • BEST SUBSTITUTE FOR HOWARD STERN

    Johnjay and Rich, KISS-FM 104.7

    We don't blame anyone for automatically dismissing a guy named "Johnjay" as one of those annoying radio personae not worth a listen. But this show, which hit the airwaves of 104.7 FM earlier this year after major success in Tucson, is far more amusing than its hosts' names let on. Like Howard Stern, but unlike most of his successors, these… More >>
  • BEST MOJITO

    Sierra Bonita Grill

    As with any scrumptious cocktail, the proof's in the amount of alcohol involved. Now, some places serve their mojitos weak. So weak, in fact, that they taste like lemonade with mint leaves thrown in. Not so at Sierra Bonita, the excellent Southwestern restaurant that's into its second year in Phoenix. At Sierra, the bartenders know how to mix the restaurant's… More >>
  • BEST HOWARD STERN SUPERFAN

    Alice Rubio

    Plenty of people in Arizona listened to morning radio host Howard Stern obsessively, but not too many of them listened to him for all four hours of his show, every day, for 10 years. Or purchased a license plate honoring him. Or bothered to fly all the way to New York City to fete his farewell to FM radio. … More >>
  • BEST COSMO

    Barcelona

    Yeah, right, Sex and the City made them famous, but even before that, we found them to be tasty concoctions. Some self-described manly men have contended that you must be gay or a girly-girl to be seen in public holding one, but guys who say that are obviously uncomfortable with their sexuality. Cosmos are for everybody who enjoys a fine,… More >>
  • BEST NEWS RADIO

    KJZZ-FM 91.5

    In a city chock-full of nationally syndicated shock-jock talk and robotic rock, we're thankful for our National Public Radio affiliate, which broadcasts healthy doses of local Arizona news. Each weekday morning during "Morning Edition," we tune in to thoughtful, well-reported stories on subjects ranging from water politics to immigration reform. Specialty programming includes "Talking With the Governor" every third Wednesday… More >>
  • BEST SANGRIA

    Lola Tapas

    We love everything about Daniel and Felicia Ruiz Wayne's stylish little Spanish spot on Camelback, from the big communal tables to the flavorful plates of Serrano ham and Manchego. (Okay, we also love that chickpea-and-spinach combo.) But most of all, we love the sangria, a perfect house blend of wine and fruit that's never too sweet and never too dry.… More >>
  • BEST RADIO TALK-SHOW HOST

    Joe Crummey

    It isn't that we always agree with Joe Crummey — after all, he's enough of a conservative to substitute occasionally for the nationally syndicated right-wing nut Glenn Beck. But what we like about KFYI's Crummey is exactly what we like about hosts like Howard Stern: He's smart, he's not always orthodox, he's not shrill, and he understands pacing. Indeed, it's… More >>
  • BEST JUKEBOX

    Bikini Lounge

    We know what makes a jukebox good: selection, selection, selection. Take Election Night, 2004. We stumble into the Bikini, where the beer and cable TV are flowing. Before long, we realize some things won't be resolved that night — things about Ohio. But we need closure, some way to process recent events, and we spy the jukebox. Five dollars buys… More >>
  • BEST INTERNET RADIO STATION

    Creamy Radio

    Kind of like college radio for the 9-to-5 set, Creamy Radio's mix of indie artists and local celebrities has pushed us through many a long day in front of the computer screen. Run by Dog and DboG, two self-described "wankers with too much time on their hands," the radio station is the answer to FM dial monotony. But that doesn't… More >>
  • BEST BAR TO SING WITH ROCK STARS

    The Real Bar

    How many towns boast weekly gatherings of sousing and open mic jams hosted by some of the biggest local musicians around? Ever since Billy Marcks from Authority Zero started booking events at The Real Bar as an excuse to do some singing and swilling with his buddies, the Tempe juke joint has become quite the magnet for the Valley's musical… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL PODCAST

    Fox and the City

    Ragan Fox is the poster boy for gay overachievers. He published a book, became a university instructor and got his doctorate all by the time he hit 30, which probably explains why his podcast is so damn brilliant. Technically, he's Dr. Fox now, but his fans just call him Rag — pronounced rayg as in "ray of friggin' sunshine," not… More >>
  • BEST NEW NIGHTCLUB

    Trax

    The same building that once housed reggae musicians and Grateful Dead tribute bands as The Sail Inn became Trax this year, a "casual but trendy" nightclub that mixes house, breakbeat and electronica music from DJs like Rephil and Earth with live rock music by bands like Fat Rhabit and the Chris Tafoya Band. The club's most popular components seem to… More >>
  • BEST RADIO STATION FOR SWINGERS

    KRZS-FM Star 97.5

    The swanky Gen X set that wants to find the perfect Roaring Twenties cigarette holder, wear zoot suits, and drink a mah-tini has the perfect soundtrack on Star 97.5. The station's self-avowed "sass, brass, and a whole lot of class" format includes jazz, blues, pop, swing, and standards, with the coolest of the old school (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat… More >>
  • BEST DIVE BAR

    The Great Escape Lounge

    We knew a fellow from Arkansas who stepped out with women who were not, technically, single. He said the best bars have no front windows. The Great Escape does that concept one better: The parking's out back, so passersby can't even spot your wheels from Indian School Road. Inside, the ATM's broken. The popcorn looks wicked old. Want a… More >>
  • BEST RADIO STATION FOR NEW COUNTRY

    KMLE-FM 108

    Country's become a lot cooler recently, probably because it's become a little more cheeky. Instead of the stereotypical, twangy, "lost-my-woman-now-I'm-drinkin'" sob songs, we get flashy, hot cowboys like Big & Rich, and roaring ditties like Trace Adkins' "Honytonk Badonkadonk." The folks over at KMLE country embrace this new wave, with cool country cats like Stacey Brooks , Shappy, and ex-KUPD… More >>
  • BEST METAL BAR

    BulldogZ

    There was a time in the '80s when an army of spandex-stretching, Aqua Net-abusing metalheads controlled the turf of nightclubs across the land. Thankfully, times have changed, but for folks who still want to be rocked like a hurricane, BulldogZ is the bar to kick-start your heart. The best thing about BulldogZ, besides the reemergence of ponytails and old Slayer… More >>
  • BEST RELIGIOUS RADIO STATION

    KFLR-FM 90.3 Family Life Radio

    This Christian radio station is pretty traditional in its beliefs, and those beliefs are reflected in the station's talk programs, specifically Dr. Randy Carlson's "On Call" evening program, where the venerable doc discusses such family topics as "Overweight Children" and "Coping With Infertility" (we are, of course, referred to Bible verses for the answers). But Family Life isn't just all… More >>
  • BEST GAY BAR

    Karamba Nightclub

    The best gay nightclubs are the ones that welcome all shades of the rainbow, from post-op trannies to Latin lovers to straight women just looking for a place to party without having to fight off a dozen touchy-feely slimeballs. No matter what your preference, you can find it here. Karamba is friendly, inviting and pretty clean for a place that's… More >>
  • BEST POWER COUPLE

    Angela Ellsworth and Tania Katan

    Angela is an "interdisciplinary artist" represented by one of the most prestigious venues in town, Bentley Gallery in Scottsdale. Tania is a writer and playwright with an acclaimed memoir, My One Night Stand With Cancer. You might have seen her at a local 10K — running topless, fighting breast cancer. Sadly, the couple left town for L.A. several years ago,… More >>
  • BEST LESBIAN BAR

    e-lounge

    Thank God they ditched the pool table to make room for more people. This hot homo hub serves up some of the best eye candy in Phoenix, from big-busted women in wife-beaters to femmes in frilly skirts. There are more good-looking women here than at any other lesbian bar in town. To put it bluntly, "the e" is a meat… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL MAKES GOOD

    Linda Cobb, the Queen of Clean

    How a retired woman made her fortune by recommending that one bathe the dog in Massengil, we'll never know. But we've gotta give Linda Cobb props. Not only can you see the self-named (and trademarked) Queen of Clean regularly on Good Morning Arizona (KTVK-TV, Channel 3), she appears on HGTV, the D.I.Y. Network — there's no stopping her! Once a… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, DOWNTOWN PHOENIX

    Newsroom Lounge

    The ongoing redevelopment of downtown Phoenix has been something of a love-hate thing for us. We're down with revitalizing our city's urban core, but for every new posh loft and upscale eatery that debuts in and around Copper Square, cool places like Emerald Lounge and Newman's get shuttered. Which is why we're holding onto The News Room for dear life.… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOY MAKES GOOD

    Vince Vaughn

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. So he was born in Minnesota and grew up in Chicago. Big freakin' deal. Since his dad lives in the Valley, and he has come for repeated visits in the past year or two, the big funny guy counts as one of ours. Getting pulled over in Scottsdale last December on a suspicion of driving drunk, Jennifer… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, CENTRAL PHOENIX

    Carly's Bistro

    If there was ever an excuse to mosey on down to Roosevelt for something other than the gallery scene, Carla Wade and John Logan's funky bistro is the reason. The arty couple opened the cozy eatery and wine bar to satisfy a need to feed hungry lunch folks and the libation-seeking arts crowd. A four-by-six-foot customized Steven Yazzie painting overlooks… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL DOES GOOD

    Hilary Griffith

    Hilary Griffith is not your typical beauty queen. Yes, she's a broadcast journalism major and she twirls a baton. But she also spins an amazing tale — all true — of what happened to her one night in November 2004, her sophomore year at Arizona State. A man broke into her Tempe apartment and raped her at knifepoint. Hilary has… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, NORTH PHOENIX

    The Dubliner Irish Pub and Restaurant

    Here's an Irish-themed pub that's got everything non-leprechauns need to unwind after a long day at the office (or to get fugged up with friends on the weekends). There's a bar, of course, stocked with all sorts of brews and beers, usually served by the pint. There's a jukebox, stocked with country, pop, hip-hop, and rock. There are a couple… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOY DRAWS GOOD

    Jon Haddock

    Until this, the closest we'd come to knowing anyone whose work had appeared in The New Yorker was the time our friend Doug was a finalist in the caption-writing contest on the magazine's last page. That was cool, but this was cooler: Picking up the January 16 edition of the magazine and seeing a full-page drawing by Tempe artist Jon… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, WEST VALLEY

    Oggi's

    A newer addition to the swanky section of 67th Avenue just south of the Loop 101, Oggi's features a tempting mix of homemade brews and grub as inviting as it is reasonably priced. The real plus: All the drinks and eats can be enjoyed while taking in any and every sporting event via the 21 huge TVs that pepper the… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL ARTIST WHO BUYS HER SUPPLIES AT TARGET

    Lisa Albinger

    Over the past year, you may have been wowed by painter Lisa Albinger's stunning depictions of relationships gone wrong, womanhood, and growing up with scoliosis. Her work's been on view at monOrchid, Studeo Tad and Soul Invictus. But did you know that Albinger's painted women and rabbit guides — some housed in the private collections of Tori Amos, The… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, TEMPE

    Doc and Eddy's

    Tucked inconspicuously behind a Bank of America at the northeast corner of Rural and Baseline roads is this friendly neighborhood sports bar, where twenty- and thirtysomethings, college kids and working professionals, singles and couples, and sports fans and the happy hour crowd peacefully co-exist over cheap grub and tap beers. The main attraction is the huge outdoor misted patio, where… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL ARTIST WHOSE WORK HAS BEEN SOLD AT TARGET

    Josh Wiley

    Joshua Dean Wiley was already known locally for his serene, high-color landscapes and lively abstracts before busting out big with a national distribution deal that brought his bright, metallic-tinged paintings to department stores all over the U.S. The 34-year-old Iowa transplant's work can be found in Target, JC Penney, Bed Bath and Beyond, Linens 'n Things, and Mervyn's, although local… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, SCOTTSDALE

    The Longshot Bar & Grill

    Everything you could possibly want in a neighborhood watering hole can be found at this laid-back Scottsdale roadhouse: a rollickingly entertaining karaoke show every night of the week, a fully stocked bar and seven different beers on tap, wait staffers who eagerly provide service with a smile instead of serving up their surly disposition, amusements ranging from arcade games to… More >>
  • BEST NEW GALLERY, LOCAL ART

    Lords of Art Town Studio and Gallery

    Censorship? Totally against it. Controversy? Bring it on. Sex? Well . . . they'll just leave the hard-core stuff to Phoenix's other alternative galleries. "I wouldn't want to exhibit anything that I would be ashamed to show my kids," says Lords of Art Town co-owner Gaea Bailey. Luckily for us, that's not much. The space used to be a recording… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, SOUTHEAST VALLEY

    Uncle Bear's Bar and Grill

    From the hardwood floors covered in peanut shells to the outdoor patio, this friendly neighborhood bar immerses itself in a modern country-and-western feel. The Uncle Bear's moniker comes from the owner's pooch, and the pup's insignia is plastered on the walls and the menu donning a full offering of pasta dishes, gourmet pizzas, Tex-Mex fare, burgers, and sandwiches. We particularly… More >>
  • BEST NEW GALLERY, NATIONAL ART

    Costello-Childs Contemporary Gallery

    How do you separate your new gallery from all the other "upscale, contemporary art" galleries on Marshall Way? Simple. Don't put it in Scottsdale. Michael Costello and Daryl Childs chose wisely when they selected the historic Gold Spot in downtown Phoenix as the location for their new gallery. The building, constructed in the 1920s, has been completely restored to its… More >>
  • BEST ENGLISH PUB

    The British Open Pub

    If an English pub is well-lighted and smoke-free, be suspicious. No self-respecting Brit would be caught dead in a place like that, which is why owner Gregg Troilo created the British Open. It's clean enough to suit American tastes, but it's windowless — and the ashtrays are always full. The wooden bar is as dark and stout as fine… More >>
  • BEST GALLERY, AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

    Lisa Sette Gallery

    With all the talk about edgy Phoenix, we forget that some of the Valley's strongest art roots are, in fact, in Scottsdale — and we're not talking howling coyotes here. Try those equally iconic gussied-up Weimaraners, since William Wegman is a longtime member of Lisa Sette's posse. Sette is one of the most elegant women in town, with a gallery… More >>
  • BEST IRISH PUB

    Rϊla Bϊla

    Located in the 1888 Andre Building in downtown Tempe, this authentic Irish saddlery-styled pub has been pouring the best Guinness and whiskey in town since 2000. Rϊla Bϊla's Gaelic name translates into "uproar and commotion" in the context of celebratory times, and this authenticity extends throughout the space with stained-glass booth dividers, rustic wooden furniture built in Ireland, even bartenders… More >>
  • BEST OPENING

    "New American City"

    Believe the hype. ASU Art Museum has catapulted itself into the 21st century with its latest exhibition, "New American City," making Tempe — for real — a new American city to watch. Curators Heather Lineberry and John Spiak panned the Phoenix metropolitan area for good stuff, and came up with a satisfying collection of shiny nuggets. There are familiar names… More >>
  • BEST HOOKAH BAR

    Urban Cafe

    Leave your troubles at the door when entering the Urban Cafe. This Mediterranean eatery and hookah bar is a killer place to chill and enjoy a plate of hummus and baba ghanouj while listening to sitar music. Hookah is treated as a main course, with tobacco flavors ranging from exotic Zaghloul to green apple. Shisha, a blend of tobacco, honey… More >>
  • BEST STOP ON ART DETOUR

    a.ware Studio

    Julie Hampton's small studio was only open for a few months, but we'll never forget her Art Detour 2006 exhibition. In honor of a show called "Green," Hampton and her co-curators forked over some of their own green to lay the studio with sod, for a few short days. The inspiration came from a conversation about a previous Art Detour… More >>
  • BEST STRIP CLUB

    The Pin-Up Girl Lounge

    You'll have to excuse us if we're a little tired. We've spent the past few nights visiting the Valley's various flesh factories in search of the best strip club. Frankly, they tend to run together, all seemingly offering the same pole-dancing and lap-grinding brand of nearly naked ladies of the night who move and groove to blaring rock and hip-hop… More >>
  • BEST MUSEUM YOU'VE NEVER BEEN TO

    Arizona Doll & Toy Museum

    We thought we'd seen it all — when it comes to Phoenix, at least — until a friend brought us to the Arizona Doll & Toy Museum. This small treasure, tucked into a historic house in downtown's Heritage Square, is a wonderful monument to childhood. Antique dolls from different decades share their home with more modern Betsy Wetsy types. There's… More >>
  • BEST DANCE FLOOR

    Buzz Funbar

    It's crowded, sweaty and packed with college students trying to hook up for the night. So, why do we love the Buzz? Segregation. Yes, it's a political buzz word, but when you're talking nightclubs, having your own space is a godsend. There are three separate dance floors segregated by age and gender. The center of the hive is the aforementioned… More >>
  • BEST MUSEUM YOU HAVEN'T BEEN TO SINCE YOU WERE A KID

    Heard Museum

    In case you haven't heard, the Heard Museum isn't the place you visited on that Brownie field trip, back in third grade. Sure, the traditional Native American exhibits are still in place (beefed up, in fact), but now you can get modern with other exhibits, like the recent one-man show of the work of Hector Ruiz, a local Mexican artist,… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS BAR, CENTRAL PHOENIX

    Stoudemire's Downtown

    Stoudemire's may be the rookie among local sports pubs, but it's got all the makings of a major league player. Great location. Giant televisions. And a celebrity co-owner. The brainchild of Phoenix Suns superstar Amarι Stoudemire and renowned chef Eddie Matney, the bar is sleek and modern, with billiards, a large dance floor, and wi-fi access. Hoping to see some… More >>
  • BEST NEW PUBLIC ART

    Art Is a Guaranty of Sanity

    Louise Bourgeois' amazing 90-foot mirror was the talk of the town long before its dedication in August, and Phoenix is right to be proud of the latest project in a rich history of wonderful public art. Funded by the convention center's Percent for the Arts Funds, we can think of no better way to reflect our city's dedication to the… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS BAR, WEST VALLEY

    Padre Murphy's

    Phoenicians who are convinced that the only thing north of Greenway Road is car dealerships and cookie-cutter housing tracts will be surprised to find a sports bar like Padre Murphy's. With 50 TVs, off-track betting, and a slamming menu, Padre Murphy's is all about sports, sports, sports, and caters to everyone. There are family-friendly booths and a misted patio for… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC ART

    Bob Adams' Hall of Mirrors

    We probably shouldn't admit that we always check our hair as we pass by this gorgeously reflective work by local artist Bob Adams, but we do. Our vanity isn't so great, however, that we think we're any prettier than Adams' super-cool installation of circular, convex mirrors lining the walkway between Phoenix Theatre and the Phoenix Art Museum. It's a work… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS BAR, NORTHWEST VALLEY

    Dillon's Restaurant

    Just the thought of pecan-smoked anything sends us through the roof. This friendly barbecue joint at Thunderbird Road and Loop 101 does the 'cue just right, slow-cooking the tender meats in a big vat in front of everyone. The great sight lines to the strategically placed TV screens naturally please the sports junkies in the house, and an encyclopedic piano… More >>
  • BEST COMMUNITY MURAL

    Chicano Mural at Guadalupe Market

    Next time you take a pass through the tiny town of Guadalupe, stop at the Guadalupe Market. Not for the fresh vegetables, which are pretty damn good, but to do a little urban sightseeing. The large mural on the side of the building is a window into the local culture. The mission-style Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is at the… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS BAR, SOUTHEAST VALLEY

    Crabby Don's Bar & Restaurant

    Crabby Don's doesn't cater to former high school football stars or diehard fans who shave team logos into their back hair. This is the everyman's sports bar — a comfortable, neighborhood joint where you can munch on hot wings while watching Sunday Night Football or bring in the kids for a post-Little League game celebration. Unlike other local sports bars,… More >>
  • BEST REASON TO SLOW DOWN

    Loop 101 freeway, between Shea and Frank Lloyd Wright boulevards, Scottsdale

    If you have never traveled the 101 between Shea and Frank Lloyd Wright boulevards in Scottsdale, put your pedal gently to the metal and go there now. We say gently because there is a three-mile stretch of spectacular you don't want to miss. Both retaining walls display Southwestern relief sculptures showing off mammoth cactuses, lizards and desert landscapes in hues… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS BAR, TEMPE

    Six Shooters Sports Bar and Grill

    Located half a mile from the ASU sporting facilities in the Cornerstone Mall is this roomy and chill-out watering hole and grill that shoots down the sports bar competition. Rub shoulders with fellow sports fans and cheer on your favorite team while sipping from your choice of 26 beers on tap and chowing on pub grub from shrimp cocktail and… More >>
  • BEST FRONT YARD

    Gary Parsel

    Maybe it's just us, but a majority of the front yards found around town are really quite boring. Sure, some folks might try livening things up by plunking down such cheap-ass tchotchkes as windmills or garden gnomes in front of their homes, but for the most part, the Valley's lawns bring nothing but yawns. Not so with Gary Parsel's place.… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS BAR, SCOTTSDALE

    Fox Sports Grill - CLOSED

    Ever since we've been in the Valley, friends have been telling us about this great sports bar or that cool sports bar. It seems that everybody's got a favorite sports bar like everyone's got a favorite college football team. But most of these joints smell like beer and piss and have patrons who're butt-ugly and need a bath. A lot… More >>
  • BEST ART AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE

    Shemer Art Center and Museum

    This lovely stucco home with the breathtaking mountain view was built in the 1920s and donated to the City of Phoenix as an arts center in 1984. Its historic/pastoral/funky/luxurious vibe is unique in a part of the city that's better known for big houses and expensive resorts than for serene public areas. Whether you're looking at exhibits in the front… More >>
  • BEST VENUE FOR NATIONAL ACTS

    Marquee Theatre

    You've still got to pay five bucks to park there, but at least you don't have to fight downtown Phoenix traffic. There are other benefits to seeing national acts at the Marquee, too. The venue often hosts bands just before they blow up big (H.I.M., The Darkness), so it's a great place to catch "the next big thing" before they're… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO RELIEVE THE GUILT OF UNDONE ART PROJECTS

    Art Resource Center

    Macramι? Macra you, buddy. We know your dirty little secret. You've got a big ol' stash of fabric, beads, clay, yarn, paint, paper and whatnot, and you were going to make all kinds of fabulous things someday. Hey, buying craft supplies is supposed to motivate you, right? Well, when you've faced reality (or at least your bulging closet door), donate… More >>
  • BEST VENUE FOR LOCAL ACTS

    The Clubhouse Music Venue - CLOSED

    There aren't many great music venues left in the Valley. Many have closed or become so run-down that you have to bring a can of Mace with you just to get out of the parking lot safely. The Clubhouse Music Venue is one major exception. It's got a relatively clean, spacious location, with matte black walls and a portable stage.… More >>
  • BEST ART BEFORE NOON

    The Breakfast Club

    There's an age-old stereotype that artists are nocturnal creatures, immersed in their craft 'til morning and sleeping the day away. Not the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed creative cats in The Breakfast Club, an artist group founded in 2003 by Beth Ames Swartz, Heidi Hesse, and Jon Haddock that meets bi-monthly at a Scottsdale restaurant of the same name. More than 30… More >>
  • BEST CLUB FOR BLUES

    The Rhythm Room

    Bob Corritore's blues juke joint has won this award before, and, to be honest, we really tried to find a topper this year. But with blues legends like Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, and Louisiana Red playing regular gigs in this cozy club, we just can't stay away. Some artists — like Johnny Rawls, Asylum Street Spankers, and Candye Kane —… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE AND BE SEEN ON A FIRST FRIDAY

    .anti_space - CLOSED

    We've heard whisperings lately amongst art scenesters that First Friday isn't what it used to be, especially in the Evans-Churchill neighborhood (home to Roosevelt Row). These catty kooks claim the downtown district from where the monthly art walk sprang more than a decade ago has become too gentrified and overpriced, with all the hipper happenings going down over on Grand… More >>
  • BEST C&W NIGHTSPOT

    Handlebar-J

    The Herndon family has owned this landmark institution since 1975, when the late Brick Herndon and his wife, Gwen, sold almost everything they had to purchase the place where Gwen had worked as a waitress for eight years. Over the past 30 years, the family's turned Handlebar-J into the country capital of Phoenix, with the Herndon Brothers band (led… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE AND BE SEEN ON A THIRD FRIDAY

    Tilt Gallery

    We had just become accustomed to tromping around Grand Avenue in the dark when galleries began opening off Grand. Don't be afraid of this one — Tilt really is just barely off Grand; you can almost see it from the main drag. Look for the bright pink walls. We love to hang at Tilt on Third Fridays, the best time… More >>
  • BEST HIP-HOP NIGHT

    The Blunt Club

    Why has the Blunt Club nabbed this award three years in a row? Because we just couldn't help it; there was no alternative. Blunt Club's arsenal of awesome includes a crew of P-town's hottest hip-hop DJs, including residents Mr. Hyder, Tricky T, Pickster One (Vinyl Rockers, Drunken Immortals), and DJ Daddy Rich (3rd Bass); stellar national underground guest acts like… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE AND BE SEEN ON A FINAL FRIDAY

    Mill's End Cafe - CLOSED

    For the past few years, the hype surrounding the Final Friday Art Walk in downtown Tempe has pretty much centered on one venue in particular, namely the art supply store Wet Paint. But now the kick-back cats over at Mill's End Cafe are giving those pigment-slinging peeps a run for their money, as the java joint has proven to be… More >>
  • BEST REGGAETON NIGHT

    Saturdays at Jackson's on 3rd

    There are dozens of reggaeton nights around town, but Saturdays at Jackson's was the first (it started in 2002), and it's still the largest, drawing an eclectic crowd that sometimes includes celebrities like national reggaeton sensation Pitbull, and Wu-Tang Latino Records CEO Ray Acosta. Every week, hundreds of people flood the three dance floors at Jackson's to hear everything from… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SPOT ARTISTS ON A NIGHT OTHER THAN FRIDAY

    the untitled artist bowling league

    Cosmic bowling is so last year. Now the hot thing on the lanes is to actually start your own league. Case in point: a group of Valley art types who started bowling just to hang out with friends, and are quickly expanding into several teams. It all started when Neil Borowitz, an exhibit designer at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art… More >>
  • BEST NEW WORLD MUSIC NIGHT

    Afro:baile at Club Cabo

    Folks who like to get their sweat on along to the deeper world beats of Brazilian, salsa, and merengue have been filling up the funky dance floor at downtown Mesa's Club Cabo. The "Afro" refers to Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian, and the baile is Portuguese for "dance party," and both merge when DJ Seduce tantalizes and marinates eardrums with an eclectic… More >>
  • BEST REASON TO GET UP AT 4 A.M. ON A SATURDAY

    VNSA Book Sale at the Arizona State Fair and Exposition

    Picture a bunch of shivering folks willingly waiting in line during the middle of the night, exchanging friendly banter and warm coffee. Now, strip away the consumer-obsessed IKEA feel and the Cabela's "real American" quality and you've got the bookworm diehards awaiting the Volunteer Nonprofit Service Association (VNSA) book sale, held annually during the second weekend of February. The… More >>
  • BEST SOUL MUSIC LOUNGE NIGHT

    Karlie Hustle's Groove Candy Night at The Door

    We know that Bob Marley preached a world filled with one love through spiritually uniting music, but sometimes other soul music pioneers like Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and D'Angelo are seriously slept on. That's why Karlie Hustle, a mover-and-shaker in the soul and hip-hop scenes, created the Groove Candy Night weekly lounge night. The Power 98.3 DJ represents dusty grooves… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO SPEND FIRST SUNDAY

    No Festival Required

    The granddaddy of microcinema, No Festival Required, has brought underground films — sans the censorship of distribution, festival rules, or economics — to Modified Arts during each first Sunday evening for the past three years, and counting. The films run the artsy gamut of comedy, drama, documentary, and experimental works, whether it's during February's annual Arizona Statehood Show that showcases… More >>
  • BEST LOUNGE-STYLE JAZZ NIGHT

    Sundays at Bobby C's Lounge and Grille - CLOSED

    This swank soul food eatery and cocktail bar, with its African-themed paintings, sexy lighting, and heavy alcoholic pours, sets the ideal atmosphere for local musicians to jam out groove-oriented standards and originals in the cozy and crowded lounge. The music is geared toward straight-ahead aficionados and provides a great introduction to jazz newcomers. Players known to sit in include the… More >>
  • BEST BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

    www.litchicks.com

    What happens when a human resources manager, a fitness director and an accountant read a lot? Lit chicks! Kim Novotny, the HR gal, gathered a couple of friends together a while back and created a Web site devoted to reviewing good books. Novotny lives in Anthem, but she and the other literate chicks dream of someday traveling to Chicago to… More >>
  • BEST EXPERIMENTAL-FUSION JAZZ NIGHT

    Thursdays at Orange Table

    Stroll near the Scottsdale Center for the Arts on a Thursday night and you'll hear an ambient blitzkrieg of up-tempo and accessible sounds. Then let your ears be the guide and continue past the official performing arts center to the funky Orange Table cafe, nestled in a hard-to-find-if-you-blink cranny, where Trio Oro jams out modern and original compositions embodying elements… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MINGLE WITH PUBLISHED AUTHORS

    ASU Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference

    Each year, established writers and hopeful scribes descend on the ASU campus for several days of intensive writing instruction, readings, panel discussions, and book signings. Participants can rub elbows with published authors during a variety of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry classes, ranging from screenwriting and political poetry to gender-identity fiction and travel writing. During the evening break, authors and conference… More >>
  • BEST MUSIC ON A SCHOOL NIGHT

    Big Fish Sports Pub

    The saying goes that it's better to be a big fish in a little pond. In this case, that's true. Big Fish isn't the most popular hangout in Tempe, but while the larger bars are sparse during the week, this "little pub that could" packs 'em in. Skip Skoolnik, Foundation, and Pickster One rock the Boom Bam Room on Monday… More >>
  • BEST LIT GROUP FOR HIPSTERS

    PAGE 23 at Changing Hands Bookstore

    According to a recent National Endowment for the Arts Reading at Risk study, most people between the ages of 16 and 35 think books are blasι. PAGE 23 isn't going to let you fold up literature quite yet. Through guerrilla marketing and word-of-mouth promotions, a group of Changing Hands employees hopes to inspire a new generation of readers by… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PICK UP A SCHOOLGIRL

    Tranzylvania

    All right, fellas, it's time to fess up. We know many of you reading this harbor the freaky Lolita-style fetish of wanting to hook up with a sexy siren in a schoolgirl uniform. Don't worry, it doesn't mean you have some predisposed penchant for pedophilia (we think); it's probably just your ultra-repressive Catholic upbringing coming back to haunt you. Besides,… More >>
  • BEST CLASSIC PHOTO BOOTH

    Trunk Space

    JRC and Stephanie Carrico, co-owners of the Trunk Space, know they have a hot product when folks are making special trips to the exhibition space to score material for their MySpace profiles. The photo booth, converted from color to beautiful black-and-white, is one of a kind in the area, and pics snapped at the booth have been showing up on… More >>
  • BEST IMPORTED PUNK

    Avail

    Who coulda guessed that a band from Richmond, Virginia, that's been playing hardcore for more than 12 years would grow to have a cult following in Phoenix? You can thank Will Anderson largely for that, one of the Valley's longest-standing promoters of rock shows around town, and arguably one of the biggest Avail fans on the planet. Because… More >>
  • BEST FILM SERIES

    OneNightCinema at Pollack Tempe Cinemas

    Following the closure of Chandler's indie-focused Madstone Theatres in 2004, the Valley's repertory film scene looked more desolate than a theater after the final encore. Enter OneNightCinema, the brainchild of local film buff Randy Montgomery. During its two years of existence, the quarterly film series has screened more than two dozen flicks unique to the Valley, including Sundance Film Festival… More >>
  • BEST PUNK BAR

    Cypress Lounge

    From the outside, this squat watering hole looks like any of the other dirty dive bars scattered throughout the West Valley. On the inside, however, it's a ground zero for all types of punk rock pandemonium. Instead of having to haul ass across Central Avenue for the best bands from the local scene, the west-side tattooed-and-pierced patrol can stay closer… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CATCH A BOLLYWOOD FLICK

    Pollack Tempe Cinemas

    You dropped a few shekels last weekend at Blockbuster to rent Bride & Prejudice and The Guru 'cause you finally wanted to learn about this whole Bollywood thing. After the drippy double feature zapped away four hours of your life, you're still left wondering what the deal is. Get a taste of actual East Indian celluloid (and not some mass-produced… More >>
  • BEST HOUSE DJ

    Senbad

    Sean Badger, better known as Senbad on sweat-stained Scottsdale dance floors, has been a "house music soldier" for more than 10 years now. The 36-year-old considers his occupation to be "record pusher," and to him, the best dope is house music. He's a loyalist who's spun pure house at every club from Next and e4 to Majerle's and SIX. Until… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CATCH AN INDIE FLICK

    Harkins Camelview 5

    Movie theaters in the Valley come and go, but inevitably, when we want to see the hot new movie, we find ourselves at Camelview. We don't always find ourselves inside Camelview — who knew Little Miss Sunshine was the movie of the summer? — but we always know we'll find the best, brightest and quirkiest playing at our favorite old… More >>
  • BEST KARAOKE

    Solos

    Auditions for American Idol might be months and months away, but there's no reason you shouldn't start practicing now. After all, your pipes could definitely use some practice. Getting a much-needed warm-up by kicking it karaoke-style like Kelly Clarkson is necessary, but since nearly every two-bit tavern and gin joint in town features this mimicking musical mainstay, where's a wanna-be… More >>
  • BEST NEW SPOKEN-WORD SERIES

    Divine Poetry at Entertainment Alley

    Divine Poetry isn't just the name of the Valley's hottest new spoken-word series. It also refers to the event emcee, lyrical poet, and organizer of sharp tongues, known simply as Divine. After Scottsdale's soul food and cultural haven Livingston's closed in 2004, the Bronx-born poetry diva created the open-mic function at the bare-bones Entertainment Alley. What the space lacks… More >>
  • BEST KARAOKE WITH A LIVE BAND

    Yucca Tap Room

    Question: What do you get when you mix cheap drinks, an open mic night, a cover band that calls itself Mother Trucker, and one of Tempe's favorite dive bars? Answer: The best fucking karaoke night in town. Every Thursday night, members from local band the Zen Lunatics hit the stage at the Yucca Tap Room to back drunken wanna-bes… More >>
  • BEST NEW SPOKEN-WORD SERIES WHERE YOU CAN WIN $100

    Greater Phoenix Poetry Slam hosted by Anthology

    Valley word-slingers needing to score some fast cash, look no further. Just put down the latte, scribble some chapbook strophes, and hightail it down to the $100 winner-take-all Anthology Greater Phoenix Poetry Slam. On the last Wednesday of every month at the Paper Heart, 10 performance scribes read three poems of their own creation, with winners determined by five randomly… More >>
  • BEST KARAOKE FOR PEOPLE WHO HATE KARAOKE

    Joanne the Karaoke Singer

    Who can blame you for hating karaoke? No one with any sense wants to hear people who can't sing attempt to wade through "Mack the Knife" or hit the high notes in "Lady Marmalade." Karaoke is the worst of those '90s fads that refuses to die, especially in Phoenix. But this most annoying of unhip holdovers is having a happy… More >>
  • BEST NUTCRACKER

    Ballet Arizona

    Living in Phoenix, we've learned we need to create our own holiday traditions. No sledding, no skating, not much bundling up by the fire (damn those no-burn days). That's why we're happy to have such a fantastic local Nutcracker to look forward to as the holidays approach. Ib Andersen, creative director of Ballet Arizona, has a wonderful interpretation, full of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HEAR NERDS TALKING TOUGH

    Samurai Comics

    Geeky teenage boys aren't exactly the most hard-hitting hombres walking the face of the Earth. Usually, the toughest they'll get is standing up to mom and dad about violating the sanctity of their fortress of solitude (read: the basement). So imagine our surprise at overhearing said dorky dweebs talking serious smack during one of the many gaming nights held at… More >>
  • BEST HOLIDAY ALTERNATIVE TO NUTCRACKER

    The Snow Queen

    Nutcrackered out? Or looking for something to do the rest of the holiday season, other than stand in line to see Santa? We hear you. Which is why we're here to recommend The Snow Queen. An original production by France Smith Cohen, director of Center Dance Ensemble (the resident modern company at the Herberger), the retelling of the Hans Christian… More >>
  • BEST LEGAL SPEAKEASY

    The Door

    The concept-meisters behind Sugar Daddy's and Dos Gringos must've been channeling the spirit of Al Capone when they conjured up this classy-yet-covert club, secreted away in a tiny Tempe strip mall. A simple antique lamppost with glowing red lights and a bouncer's station outside a nondescript utility door comprise the entrance, where patrons provide either a password or skeleton key… More >>
  • BEST OUTDOOR HOLIDAY EVENT

    Las Noches de las Luminarias

    By the end of BOP, we'll have planted repeated mentions of our wonderful botanical garden, but we must take a moment to celebrate our all-time favorite Valley tradition, the luminarias. Each season, we're the first to get our tickets, the first to pull up to the garden and start the holidays with a leisurely stroll through the garden grounds, lighted… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO TEST YOUR CULINARY COURAGE

    Wheel of Fear Factor at Giligin's

    If you're tired of simply watching episodes of the retch-inducing reality show Fear Factor, see if you've got the gastronomic gumption to consume cow brains or cockroaches at this Scottsdale bar's extreme weekly event every Wednesday at 10 p.m. Courageous contestants spin a large wheel for points and attempt to solve frequently lurid word puzzles like "Finger My Furburger Until… More >>
  • BEST THEATER PLAYHOUSE SEASON

    Actors Theatre

    We almost lost this venerable company last year, in good part because people don't go to the theater often enough to support even the best playhouses. Which is senseless when you consider how truly impressive Actors Theatre's just-passed season was. It kicked off with a remount of the previous season's Nickel and Dimed, a comic adaptation of Barbara Ehrenreich's book… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GO "BEAR" HUNTING

    Padlock

    Although the darkened domain of the gay leather bar Padlock is under weekly siege by big, brawny bears, put away your guns and ammo. See, the burly beasts we're referencing aren't anything like Smokey or Gentle Ben, but, rather, are part of the particular subset of the gay community known as "bears." These bearded, bulky, and hairy males — who're… More >>
  • BEST EVENING AT THE THEATER

    Nearly Naked Theatre's Valhalla

    We're still remembering fondly this production of Paul Rudnick's remarkably funny Valhalla, brought to us last winter by Damon Dering's Nearly Naked Theatre Company. Rudnick's naughty comedy was elevated by wonderful performances from Dion Johnson as a degenerate yokel with a heart of gold; Tim Shawver as the mad King Ludwig II; and Joseph Kremer as a hick whose exasperation… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CATCH A QUEER-FRIENDLY SHOW

    Soul Invictus

    This gallery and performance space has exploded since David Salcido, publisher of local gay and lesbian mag Red Nightlife, moved into the building that used to house the Annex. In less than a year, Soul Invictus has played host to a series of alternative theater plays (including Salcido's own Rain Damage, and the glammy — and very gay — Hedwig… More >>
  • BEST SURPRISE HIT OF THE THEATER SEASON

    Desert Stages Theatre's A Man of No Importance

    There were so many reasons Desert Stages Theatre's production of A Man of No Importance shouldn't have worked. There was the cramped quarters of the company's Actor's Cafe space, into which this odd musical was squeezed. There was the mostly amateur cast, an unusual, time-bending script, and the curse that seems to blight most all stage musicals based on little-known… More >>
  • BEST POLKA FACES

    Haunted Cologne

    The eccentric 19th-century German musician Christian Friedrich Buschmann built the first accordion way back in 1822. We're willing to bet the kooky Kraut would have been shocked to learn that his atonal invention would someday be utilized by a pair of goofy and gangly Valley teenagers to create a comically clamorous combination of polka and punk rock. But regardless of… More >>
  • BEST ACTOR

    Kyle Sorrell in Stray Cat Theatre's Trainspotting

    Kyle Sorrell gave a powerhouse performance as Mark, the lead in Harry Gibson's dark meander through heroin addiction's dark night — no mean feat when one considers that Sorrell was surrounded by a superb cast. Sorrell shone brightest, though; balancing the horror and comedy in the text without ever toppling into camp, and never playing Mark as weird or deranged.… More >>
  • BEST EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC FESTIVAL

    Phoenix Creative Music Movement Winter Festival

    Since its wildly cacophonous and sonically entrancing inaugural concert last year, the Phoenix Creative Music Movement has been dead set on getting folks out of their aural comfort zones by offering kick-ass experimental music during its bi-monthly concert series at Modified Arts. And it must be doing something right, because its diehard followers and curious newbies demanded more creative craziness… More >>
  • BEST ACTRESS

    Lillie Richardson in iTheatre Collaborative's production of Death and the Maiden

    Lillie Richardson is among our finest local actors, and as Paulina in Ariel Dorfman's semi-autobiographical political thriller, she was called on to play a woman who's alternately jovial and condescending; who might be insane or simply jubilant in her finest hour. She played scenes that in the hands of a lesser actress certainly would have fallen to scenery chewing, scenes… More >>
  • BEST BLUEGRASS JAM

    Arcadia Bluegrass Jam at Mama Java's Coffeehouse

    Brush up on some classic bluegrass, some low-down country blues, and bring out your inner hillbilly during the Arcadia Bluegrass Jam every Sunday night. Started in August 2004, the open bluegrass flat-pickin' session features a healthy mix of musicians equipped with acoustic guitars, banjos, bass, and violins in Mama Java's relaxed and sociable atmosphere. If the only thing you know… More >>
  • BEST CREATIVE USE OF YOUR LUNCH HOUR

    Herberger Lunch Time Theater

    Too busy to get to the theater? Well, you have to eat, right? So multitask in the most creative way and head to the Herberger's Lunch Time Theater. The show is only $6, and for a few extra bucks you can pre-order a bag lunch (salad or sandwich, with all sorts of choices, complete with sides and a drink) that… More >>
  • BEST CURE FOR THE MONDAY BLUES

    Amsterdam's Martinis & Manicures

    There are two types of women in the world: those who use spa treatments to lift their spirits, and those who prefer to drown their sorrows in alcohol. Fortunately for us girls who've made friends outside our type, this swanky gay bar hosts a regular Monday bash that will satisfy everybody. "Martinis & Manicures" features both stiff drinks and a… More >>
  • BEST PRACTICAL USE OF YOUR LUNCH HOUR

    Los Olivos Hand Car Wash

    For just a few bucks, you can eat a hot dog in the sunshine and head back to work with a sparkling car. We knew this was the best car wash in town when we ran into our boss (not just our editor, but the big boss) here one day at lunch, spiffing up his car and his shoes at… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO ASSESS YOUR MARKET VALUE

    Graham Central Station - CLOSED

    Single or taken, this dance club is the perfect place to see how you measure up. It's huge, with four large rooms dedicated to different music genres — hip-hop, retro, country and, yes, karaoke (if you can call it a genre). If you're looking for a one-night stand, a mere raised eyebrow, or anything in between, the place is sure… More >>
  • BEST HOPE FOR THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

    Tempe In Motion's School Program

    Want to get us excited about public transportation? DO NOT TALK TO US ABOUT LIGHT RAIL! We already spend much of our day talking about light rail — to ourselves, under our breath, stuck in horrendous traffic. Yeah, yeah, it will make our lives wonderful. Maybe. We'll get back to you in several years. For now, we'd rather talk about… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR AN AFTER-PARTY

    Wrigley Mansion

    We've all had to attend stuffy banquets at country clubs, at the Heard Museum (where the Arizona Press Club has recently held its awards ceremony), or at some other hoity-toity spot in the PHX, only to wish we could get down to some real partying before the night is through. Well, the Wrigley Mansion is the perfect place for this.… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO AVOID THE AIRPORT RUNAROUND

    Stage and Go Lot

    Here's another one we can blame on Osama. For the past five years, Arizonans have been shooed away from the curb, forced to drive in hellish circles from the South to North, in search of newly arrived air passengers. Finally, the think tank at Sky Harbor has found a way to save us from "You bastard, let me in!" and… More >>
  • BEST BIKING BAR TOUR

    Tour de Bar

    There is a maddening line of demarcation between exercise and libation, where we constantly obsess over calorie intake while tipping back a few cool ones with our mates ("If I have this one last beer, it will cost me 30 extra minutes on the treadmill"). Well, enjoy the best of both worlds while getting a full body workout of pedaling… More >>
  • BEST SHORTCUT THROUGH RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC

    Sky Harbor Boulevard

    It's quitting time and you've gotta beat feet home to your East Valley domicile double-quick. Too bad Interstate 10 is a parking lot. But before you anger up the blood and throw another road rage, shave plenty of time off your commute by taking Sky Harbor Boulevard. The twisting thoroughfare cutting through the middle of the airport is your roadway… More >>
  • BEST AFTER-HOURS

    Charlie's

    There's very little in the way of after-hours action here in the PHX other than a handful of danceterias daring to stay open after last call. On the constant lookout for additional all-night venues to stage their post-2 a.m. shenanigans, nightcrawlers of the Valley have been flocking to this Western-themed gay bar on Fridays and Saturdays to dance and debauch… More >>
  • BEST ROCK 'N' ROLL ART

    Rock Star Gallery

    This inconspicuous gallery in a Scottsdale strip mall is a music geek's paradise, and for the rock memorabilia collector, owner Michael W. Dunn's collection is downright enviable. The artwork hanging on the walls is most notable because the featured artists are people like Grace Slick, Ringo Starr, Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia, and Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones. While most… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A SECOND CHANCE

    Harlow's Cafe

    If you're on the prowl and came up short the night before, Harlow's Cafe will buy you a little extra time to make it happen. Similar to your favorite hookup bar, Harlow's offers the thrill of anonymity. The low ceilings and booth seating create the atmosphere of a road-trip breakfast stop. Chances are, there will be another table of Mill… More >>
  • BEST ROCK 'N' ROLL TEACHER

    Abe Gil

    With apologies to Jack Black, Abe Gil is running the real School of Rock. When he isn't wearing wild outfits and crashing about downtown music venues like Holgas or Modified as the one-man noise polluter Treasure Mammal, the 26-year-old teaches music, math, and art to seventh- and eighth-graders at Montessori Academy in Scottsdale. As riotous as his act gets, Gil's… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE PHOENIX PD UNPLUGGED

    Mojo Music

    Downtown art scenesters have gotten used to seeing the long arm of the law in their midst since August 2005, when Phoenix police officers stepped up their patrolling of First Fridays along Roosevelt Row. Artists and gallery owners have peeped po-pos standing on street corners, checking out their work, and even strumming a guitar or two. Yep, it seems as… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PICK UP A DAY LABORER

    Dr. AJ Chandler Park

    While we ain't doctors or anything, we're pretty sure if Minuteman Project spokesperson Chris Simcox drove past this downtown Chandler square on an early weekend morning, the immigrant-busting vigilante would suffer a heart attack. After all, more than a hundred unemployed Hispanics gather near the park, located along Arizona Avenue between Boston and Buffalo streets, hoping to nab some work… More >>
  • BEST SHADE

    Clarendon Hotel and Suites

    Don't expect to find howling coyotes and Monument Valley vistas within the environs of the Clarendon Hotel's art-friendly lobby and spacious suites. From nude portraits by Chris Raboin to Leigh Merrill's abstract photographic landscapes, the stylish boutique hotel boasts a variety of local artists, including the hippest window shades in town. Created by eye lounge painter Doug Oland, who uses… More >>
  • BEST WOMEN'S ROOM

    Scorch Bar

    Ever wonder what it would be like to wander around the inside of a lava lamp? The closest simulation might be a walk through Scorch Bar, with its shiny silver chrome and glowing red interiors, plasma-shaped tables, and futuristic restrooms. Not only is the ladies' restroom always clean to the OCD-degree, but there's also a big, trippy window right above… More >>
  • BEST MEN'S ROOM

    The Rogue

    The boys' toidy at this popular punk paradise might be dirty, cramped, poorly lighted, and swelteringly hot, but there's a reason the guys keep making return trips — and not because they've got to drain all the PBR they've downed. Nope, it's probably because of all the gonzo graffiti covering almost every inch of the Pepto-pink walls and ceiling of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET MARRIED ON THE CHEAP

    Lost Dutchman State Park

    We think that outdoor weddings are the bomb, especially because we live in paradise for six months of the year. That said, some very deep pockets are required to get hitched at Desert Botanical Garden, nearly every outdoor-wedding buff's first choice. But Lost Dutchman is just as lovely, and, best of all, it's budget-friendly. How budget-friendly? You probably won't believe… More >>
  • BEST HIGH-BUDGET WEDDING

    Royal Palms Resort and Spa

    If money is no object, get yourself hitched amongst the twinkly orange lights adorning the trees at Royal Palms, just beneath Camelback Mountain. This resort (completely rehabbed in the '90s; we miss the heart-shaped pool but otherwise love the redo) is the perfect blend of Mediterranean charm with a nod to the desert. The lawn is the perfect place to… More >>
  • BEST EXTREME MAKEOVER

    Hotel Valley Ho

    We heard so much for so long about the remodel of the Valley Ho that, frankly, we never thought it would happen. But it did, and boy, was it worth the wait. From the moment you step out of your car in the driveway, you're transported back to the '50s, but with a 21st-century twist. Iridescent tiles offset the mid-century… More >>
  • BEST EXTREME MAKEOVER ON A TEDDY BEAR

    "Ursidae Anaplasty"

    Textile taxidermist Tara Logsdon engages in some fuzzy haps when she goes to town on her furry patients during "Ursidae Anaplasty" — Latin for "Bear Plastic Surgery." The Holgas resident artist scours Valley thrift stores and rescues teddies that are in grave need of physical and psychological repair. From there, the surgeon employs needle-busting hand-stitching techniques and repairs dismembered… More >>
  • Ally Resnick

    BEST PROM DRESS

    Ally Resnick

    Leave it to Scott Jacobson — one of our all-time favorite Phoenicians — to be the one who donated his tie collection to the cause of his good friend Ally Resnick (daughter of Denise, another fave) so she could make her own prom dress. Ally wore the dress to the prom held at the Scottsdale Plaza Conference Center, sponsored by… More >>
  • BEST USE OF A 1979 PLYMOUTH FURY

    Way Cool Hair Salon & Art Studio

    Eye-catching decorations abound inside Tad Caldwell's combination fashion boutique, art studio, gallery space, and hair salon in east Phoenix. The walls and ceiling are covered with a vibrant rainbow mosaic of graffiti, the works of local artists are scattered throughout the establishment, and Caldwell himself sports a shock of bright orange hair. But the most unusual ornamentation is the body… More >>
  • BEST TRADE

    Jody Gnant's Recording Contract

    When word about the red paper clip trading frenzy hit national media outlets, including Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and National Public Radio, it brought Valley musician Jody Gnant into the national spotlight. A year ago, a light bulb went off in the head of Kyle MacDonald, an enterprising young Canadian who wanted to trade a thin piece of… More >>
  • BEST DROP

    Arizona Diamondbacks Front Office

    Sometimes life is about being in the right place at the right time. For instance, one morning in February, we found something interesting outside the Circle K at 16th Street and Washington. It wasn't a cash-stuffed wallet or a photo of Sheriff Joe in flagrante delicto with one of his deputies, but rather the 2004 confidential phone directory for Major… More >>
  • BEST TATTOO INTERPRETER

    Tian Tang

    Tian Tang, a Chinese-born student at ASU's engineering school, has devoted his Web site, www.hanzismatter.com, to explaining to dumb Westerners exactly what the Chinese characters etched on their backs, arms, and ankles are saying. In many cases, it isn't pretty: One tattoo that ostensibly read "mommy," according to Tang, is really "female horse rice." Another, he wrote, appears to say… More >>
  • BEST ARTWALK ANIMAL

    Noodle the Cat

    Of all the animals roaming Grand Avenue (biological and metaphorical), Noodle the unfixed tomcat may be the biggest scenester. The orange-and-blond tabby showed up on the 1500 block of Grand about a year ago (when he was just a kitten), and the gallery owners at Perihelion Arts, Art One, and the Trunk Space have been feeding him and taking care… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL STAR WARS FAN FILM SERIES

    Spirits of the Force

    Despite the fact that George Lucas axed his Star Wars film franchise more than a year ago, the members of the Phoenix Fan Force — a cadre of local Obi-wanna-bes — haven't spent their time bitching about losing touch with the Skywalker clan. Nope, these sci-fi superfreaks have instead been busy continuing to churn out their series of Star Wars-themed… More >>
  • BEST URBAN ODDITY

    MC Merv

    Supporters of the downtown arts district, meet your true enemy: MC Merv. According to the word on the street, this white yuppie rapper who was raised on the "mean streets" of Anthem is the dastardly developer who single-handedly shut down the Emerald Lounge, razed the old Planet Earth Theatre, and is the driving force behind the ongoing gentrification of your… More >>
  • BEST REFRIGERATOR MAGNETS

    Mike Miskowski

    Whenever our out-of-state friends come to our heat-blasted burg for a visit, they're quite taken with the kitschy Arizona-themed refrigerator magnets found littering gift shops and souvenir stands across the Valley. They seem so drawn to these tacky trinkets filled with howling coyotes, jackalopes and Southwestern sunsets, you'd think our buddies were made of metal. The last time they blew… More >>
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