Shopping & Services

  • BEST SPRINKLES

    ABC Baking Cake Decorating

    We've been shopping at ABC Baking for years, and have yet to walk in the place and not have our deepest wish fulfilled — and we have some odd wishes, including a need for pink bakery boxes in assorted sizes, sugar violets, and tiny plastic ballerinas that dance on the tops of cupcakes. If you're a serious baker, you're in… More >>
  • BEST CANDY

    Sweet Hots Candy Company

    This candy company doesn't sell prickly pear jellies or candy rocks. (Thank goodness — have you ever tried to eat a candy rock?) They're much more creative than that. Instead, you can order small bags of treats, including Arizona Great Fruits (hard candies in citrus flavors), Margaritas on the Rocks (flavored like tequila, lime, and salt) and Hot Chocolate (again,… More >>
  • BEST CHOCOLATE

    Chatham's Fine Chocolates - CLOSED

    Finally — a place where we can let our chocolate freak flags fly, and nobody will give us a funny look. On the contrary, it's de rigueur to gush about cacao confections here, and the more exotic, the better. The proprietors are so enthusiastic that they're like gourmet chocolate cheerleaders. How about the marzipan filled with rum and spiced poached… More >>
  • BEST CARAMEL CHOCOLATE-COVERED PRETZELS

    Granny's Chocolate Creations - CLOSED

    There are lots of ways to satisfy your craving for sweet/salty (and don't act like you don't know what we're talking about), but our favorite is with a caramel-dipped, chocolate-covered pretzel rod from Granny's. We've spotted Granny's rods at Starbucks in Seattle and closer to home, at MADE art boutique and at Granny's quaint HQ in Gilbert — where, if… More >>
  • BEST GELATO

    Arlecchino Gelateria

    Falling for the gelato at Arlecchino is kind of like finding religion.At first, you try to be rational. (There are new gelato places cropping up all over town. I can find gelato a lot closer to home.)Then, some healthy skepticism kicks in. (What's all the fuss? How can it really be that good?)Pretty soon, you admit that you're curious. (Man,… More >>
  • BEST FROZEN YOGURT

    Seven Sisters Sweet Shop - CLOSED

    Who doesn't love a good fad? C'mon, admit it, you're hot for gelato. And cupcakes. And those foodie places popping up all over town, promising high-end gourmet but really winding up as high-end cafeterias. Still, you gotta try it, and that's how we felt about the yogurt at Seven Sisters. A friend we trust to the ends of the earth… More >>
  • BEST COOKIES

    Urban Cookies

    We no longer apologize for our need to eat dessert every day, now that we've discovered a place that bakes up the world's most responsible cookies. The Urban Cookies philosophy ("Our cookies are round, but our vision has four integral corners") says it all about this extraordinary, cookie-specific bakery, where the freshest, highest-quality ingredients are gathered from select purveyors who… More >>
  • BEST BROWNIES

    Fairytale Brownies

    Brownie purveyors come and go, but our favorite will always be the fairy tale of a company dreamed up by David Kravetz and Eileen Spitalny, two childhood pals who turned David's mom's brownie recipe into a booming business. We're not sure Mom thought to put espresso and cocoa nibs into her brownies, or "lively raspberry purée," but we're glad David… More >>
  • BEST BAKERY

    Sweet Pea Bakery

    We confess. We cheated this year. A lot. It's hard to stay on the dietary straight and narrow when there's so much goodness to be had at Sweet Pea Bakery. From the signature rosemary shortbread cookie to the margarita tart with lime curd to the brownie chunk cookie and the chocolate brownie cupcake with white chocolate ganache, these people know… More >>
  • BEST JEWISH BAKERY

    Karsh's Bakery - CLOSED

    Whenever we walk into Karsh's, we immediately think of Jerry Seinfeld. Partly because the place feels more Manhattan than Phoenix, but also because they have the best black-and-white cookies this side of NYC. (And if you don't remember that episode, you better start catching up on the ubiquitous Seinfeld reruns. That show's on more than Sex and the City.)Ah, but… More >>
  • BEST CAKE

    Cathy's Rum Cake - CLOSED

    Cathy's Rum Cake has been around for 30 years. That's a long time. Cathy was popular here before people had even heard of another woman who goes by her first name (we're talking about Martha, not Madonna), a woman who made that fondant icing so popular.Now, we love the look of fondant, and there are some local cake purveyors who… More >>
  • BEST CUPCAKES

    Tammie Coe Cakes

    High-style bakeries and designer cupcakes are all the rage these days — but dessert diva Tammie Coe has long been ahead of the pack, working her magic with batter and frosting for years now. And although we've dabbled in other kinds of cupcakes around town, the ones we keep coming back to are Tammie's. Available at La Grande Orange… More >>
  • BEST CUPCAKES ON YOUR DOORSTEP

    Sweet 'N Dough

    With all the specialty cupcake shops popping up around the Valley, you'd think we'd be psyched to get our fix at so many new places. Well, yeah, we're glad the trend's reached critical mass, but even that's not enough to satisfy us. Honestly, we've been spoiled ever since we discovered Sweet 'N Dough, pastry chef Ichha Sethi's made-to-order cupcake delivery… More >>
  • BEST CUPCAKE MERCH

    Lulu's

    This little cupcake outpost is so sweet, it'll give you a sugar rush even before you've downed a Blonde Bombshell (vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream) or a Tantrum Tamer (chocolate buttercream on vanilla cake). The walls are shades of the palest pink and seafoam green, the logo's super-duper cute (check out the Web site to see for yourself) and even… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO HAVE YOUR CAKE AND LOSE THE BABY FAT, TOO

    Babycakes

    We have a question. Why is it that as soon as you have a baby, all your friends come over with steaming trays of lasagna and iced sugar cookies the size of salad plates? Bitches. Your stomach's hanging to your knees, your boobs are the size of watermelons, and your butt — well, thank goodness you lack the dexterity or… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PAMPER YOUR PRINCESS

    Lollilocks

    It's not easy, being a 21st-century mom. You want to give little Annabelle all the best, but you don't want her turning into a whore.No, really, we mean it. Have you been to the mall lately, walked by a certain shop that offers your 6-year-old the chance to romp like Christina and Britney, complete with long wig, platforms and micro-mini?… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PAMPER YOUR POOCH

    Diva Dogs Boutique - CLOSED

    Muffy is badly in need of a new dog collar, dahling, but there's no way in hell we're going to wrap one of those neon nylon jobs from PetSmart around her precious little throat. She's much better off with the rhinestone-encrusted patent leather neckbands we can get from the Diva Dogs Boutique, an absolutely fabulous ritzy pet shop located in… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A PURSE DOG

    Arizona Pups

    These days, it seems like you can't be a true diva unless you've got a pint-size pup peeking out of your purse, particularly a Chihuahua. Songstress Katharine McPhee owns a cutie-pie named Nena, while Demi Moore dotes on Vida Blue, and Paris Hilton has both Tinkerbell and Hendrix.But before you beat feet to the closest pet store and purchase your… More >>
  • BEST CUSTOM BRIDAL DESIGN

    Jennyvi Dizon Couture

    Women who've spent their entire lives planning their perfect weddings likely won't consider deviating from the "formula" — conservative gown, staid church, standard-issue vows. Those you can find all over town. But the playfully slinky designs of Jennyvi Dizon are designed for more open-minded and impulsive ladies who can't be caged inside stuffy cathedrals, who like to get their hems… More >>
  • BEST TOUCH OF HOLLYWOOD DECADENCE

    Hustler Hollywood - CLOSED

    As his hulking bodyguards hoisted his gold-plated wheelchair over the threshold of a swank new Hustler Hollywood store back in December of '06, a crowd of 200-plus greeted porn magnate Larry Flynt with the sort of spontaneous chant usually reserved for the likes of Jerry Springer or Howard Stern: "Lar-ry, Lar-ry, Lar-ry!" Little old ladies and Iraqi war vets. Truck… More >>
  • BEST ROCKET IN YOUR POCKET

    Taser C2 Metallic Pink with Laser

    At a glance, it looks like an electric razor, maybe, or even, um... Well, okay, we'll say it. A vibrator. But the Taser C2 packs a much bigger punch than your personal pleasure device. This thing is built to take a grown man down from a distance of 15 feet. Shocking! Really, why should cops get all the fun? Now… More >>
  • BEST BLING

    Fleur't

    Fleur't has a solid collection of all the cute basics: dresses, jeans, tops, skirts. But what really makes this place pop is the bling. It's everywhere — on the Havaiana flip-flops (they're made in Brazil, all the girls have 'em, where have you been?) to the bras in the boudoir section in the back of the boutique. In the center,… More >>
  • BEST BOUTIQUE

    Jennifer Croll and Croll Blue - CLOSED

    Now that Jennifer Croll is getting national props for her retail vision, we wish we could say we knew her when. The fact is, Croll opened her first boutique in California — but don't blame us for boasting that she soon found a better shopping mecca in Scottsdale. Today, Croll's six-boutique empire is based in the Valley of the Sun,… More >>
  • BEST NEW BOUTIQUE

    Bunky Boutique

    We've been waiting for more great shopping near Roosevelt Row (MADE art boutique was getting lonely!) and finally, our wish has been granted. Bunky Boutique is named for the owner's grandmother, and that's not the only whimsical touch at this small but well-stocked haven. Yes, we saw stacks of silk-screened T's (what passes for high fashion in our fair metropolis)… More >>
  • BEST KIDS' BOUTIQUE

    This Little Piggy Wore Cotton - CLOSED

    We know what you're thinking: "Quit wasting my time. Everyone knows the best place to buy kids' clothing is Target."Yeah, yeah, we've been on that Target high, too. And so have you, and you, and you, and you — and we know that because last week on the playground, six little girls were all wearing the same Circo dress. Nothing… More >>
  • BEST COMMUNAL BOUTIQUE

    C.O.L.A.B. - CLOSED

    T-shirts with bike prints that expand the eco-consciousness. Skirts dolled up with kitschy flower patterns. Hand-sewn, hippie-friendly hemp bags and wallets.These are just some of the items you'll find at the Collectively Operated Local Artists Boutique (C.O.L.A.B.). More than a dozen artists communally run the space dedicated to serving the community with handmade fashions and accessories for men, women and… More >>
  • BEST CLOTHING CONCEPT

    Black Cherry Clothing

    Boyfriend/girlfriend textile duo Cory Hazlett and Jen Davis decided to ditch the pre-fabricated, rent-heavy storefront concept for a more personalized approach. Hazlett and Davis sew a variety of hot threads from their home, then ship to any address nationally or internationally. Every Black Cherry item is handmade, ranging from men's Civil Disobedience T-shirts bearing snarky comments like "We Didn't Give… More >>
  • BEST T'S

    Brand X Store

    It's pretty easy for chicks when they want to sauce up the old wardrobe. The options for tops alone are endless. Tube top, halter top, tank top, spaghetti strap, empire waist — and so on. But for dudes, it's button-up, collared or T. It's no wonder that they rely on color, pattern and printed designs so heavily. On Mill Avenue,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET THE BLUES

    Moody Blues

    Want the latest jeans design by True Religion? Then get your butt down to Chandler and wiggle it into a pair — or try another brand, like Rich & Skinny or People's Liberation. Moody Blues has dozens of options, all designed to show off your rear and lighten your wallet, but hey, for some people, finding the perfect pair of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR BOOGIE SHOES

    Great American Dancing Shoes

    Where else can you find professional athletes competing against B-movie actors competing against aging talk-show hosts — all broadcast on a hit TV show — other than in the arena of ballroom dancing? Thanks to Dancing with the Stars, ballroom is hot hot hot right now. And we've discovered the place in the Valley to get the most important equipment… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO FIX YOUR KICKS

    Tony's Shoe Repair

    You've skipped your daily dose of Starbucks for a month to buy those half-off Guccis you've been eyeing, only to snap a heel on the first wearing. Never fear; Tony's Shoe Repair will fix your heels faster than you can say "Manolo." Fixing kicks in the Valley since 1940, Tony's Shoe Repair is the insider fashion secret that keeps last… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO RELIVE THE '80S

    Pink Paradise

    Nothing says 1984 (to us, at least) quite like a trip through the Lilly Pulitzer time machine. We're sure the brand has been updated since our high school preppy days, but not that we can tell, walking through the relatively new L.P. outpost in Scottsdale. All pink and green, all the time, harkening back to the days we felt the… More >>
  • BEST VINTAGE BOUTIQUE

    Gold Lion

    With so many people confusing "old" with "retro" and "retro" with "vintage," it's refreshing to have a place like Gold Lion, where true vintage lovers — and newbies, too — can sate the craving for a '70s romper or a '60s swimsuit. Simply, vintage means a rare item at least 20 years old.Owner Emily Blanche has hit on several keys… More >>
  • BEST KIDS' RESALE BOUTIQUE

    Small Change

    Sadly, we can't afford the children's boutique at Neiman Marcus. Not even the sale rack. Not even the sale rack at the N.M. outlet. That's where Small Change comes in. We swear, every bored wealthy mom between Fountain Hills and Paradise Valley must bring her kids' barely worn clothes, shoes and toys here — that's how plentiful the merch is.… More >>
  • BEST SWAP MEET

    The Trunk Space's Swap-o-Rama

    The Trunk Space's JRC and Steph are always up to something cool. And lately, they've found a new funky fashion stream of consciousness. Swap-o-Rama is a national thingy that pit-stops in Phoenix on Grand Ave. Just grab your crazy clothes and hand-me-downs that are meant for Goodwill or the Second Hand Rose in your family, and tramp on down to… More >>
  • BEST ESTATE SALES

    Michael Todd's Estate Treasures - CLOSED

    Most of us might be a little squeamish about digging through the treasures of the recently deceased or even just tromping through the homes of folks who are on their way out of town for good, but lucky for us, the nice guys over at Michael Todd's are not. They use their discerning eye for good design and collectible treasures… More >>
  • BEST TWO-MILE SHOPPING SPREE

    Seventh Avenue between Thomas and Camelback roads

    It's a mean old world and when things start to get us down, we head not for our favorite watering hole (or the roof) but straight for Seventh Avenue, where we know great treasures and low prices await us. We start at Seventh and Thomas for a quick run through Willo Antiques, where high-end antiques at affordable prices always tempt… More >>
  • BEST SHABBY CHIC

    Hollywood Regency

    If Martha Stewart lived in Phoenix, she'd be eating at Tammie Coe Bakery and shopping at Hollywood Regency, a place where the best collection of slightly tarnished treasures resides, waiting for you to discover them and bring them home to your cool shack. Proprietors Heidi Owens and Michael Robertson spend every day of the year scouring our sweet town for… More >>
  • BEST JUNK SHOP

    Qcumberz

    We admit it. We've got a thing for what we like to affectionately refer to as Other People's Shit (O.P.S., in polite company). There's nothing better than a bad flea market on the edge of town, and we've traveled far and wide to find several. So you can imagine how pleased we were to find a convenient outpost right in… More >>
  • BEST THRIFT STORE

    Flo's on 7th

    Our new china looks great and has garnered a number of oohs and a couple of ahs, and if we're hesitant to tell where we got it, it's not because we're embarrassed to admit we shop in thrift stores. We're just a little reluctant to let the secret out that we've rediscovered the best one in town. The former Florence… More >>
  • BEST DEALS SINCE PIC-N-SAVE

    Hobby Lobby Creative Center

    There used to be a time when Phoenicians flocked to a quaint chain called Pic-N-Save. Here you would find, amidst a bunch of crap, some of the best bargains in town. Hobby Lobby does away with the crap part of that equation. Several clearance aisles sport some of the finest low-budget home furnishings and accessories around (think Pottery Barn knock-offs… More >>
  • BEST REASON TO GIVE UP EBAY

    Curiouser and Curiouser - CLOSED

    It was too hot to get out of the air-conditioned car, but we just had to pull over once we saw the brightly painted façade of this, well, curious new Seventh Avenue establishment. What could they be selling inside? While we were straining to see what was displayed in the windows (was that really a Day of the Dead King… More >>
  • BEST ANTIQUE MALL

    Antique Market

    We were overcome with grief when three of our favorite antique malls vanished overnight earlier this year. Central Antiques and Antique Gallery, both formerly located at Uptown Plaza, disappeared pretty much the same week that West McDowell's Antique Market (our all-time fave) closed up shop. But before you could say "great old furniture at spectacular prices!" all three malls returned… More >>
  • BEST UPSCALE ANTIQUES

    Antique Gatherings

    Okay, so we were shopping for a table lamp and we came home with two giant 1940s Drexel china cupboards. So shoot us. We couldn't resist these mammoth mahogany beauties. They were so gorgeous — and so affordable, too! Now all our china is happier, and so are we, because we know where to go for fancier antiques for our… More >>
  • BEST UPSCALE FURNITURE AT LOW-SCALE PRICES

    Vintage Solutions

    We saw it from the street and nearly drove off the road: A flawless fainting couch, circa 1930, upholstered in blood-red chintz and trimmed in enough fringe to choke a horse. When we stopped to admire it, we did so knowing its price tag would be enough to scare us off, because nothing this beautiful could cost as little as… More >>
  • BEST MIDCENTURY FURNITURE

    CQ Furnishings

    It'll drive our copy desk crazy that the name of this place is CQ (Wikipedia it, Einstein). But we must bring the goodness to you. Every visit reveals something we never knew existed. A yellow enamel one-piece complete kitchen that looks like you should buy it for a giant Barbie doll. A hand-carved tiki bar with red-velour-topped stools. At 20,000… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO FIND JONATHAN ADLER

    Haus

    We're not sure, but we think we might have actually been birthed in a shopping center, given our native Phoenix status. So don't get us wrong, we love a trip to the mall. And we're sure that the Biltmore Fashion Park location of Haus, the groovy midcentury-style furnishings store, is perfectly pleasant. But the Scottsdale location is to die for,… More >>
  • BEST COLOR PALETTE

    Red Modern Furniture, Mint Vintage Clothing

    It may not hold any bargains, but Red Modern is the place for midcentury chic. And since the shop switched up locations a while back, settling into groovy two-story digs on Camelback Road, we can't stay away. Can't afford those Paul Laszlo (at least, the owner thinks so) powder-blue chairs reupholstered in brightly striped chenille (to die for), or even… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO BUILD A GREEN HOUSE

    a.k.a. green - CLOSED

    It's not that easy, being green.Apologies to Kermit, but truer words were never spoken. (Ribbeted?) We look around the house and think, "Where to begin?" We can barely keep up with the laundry, much less the movement that tells us to use all natural products and rid our lives of plastic bottles. (As if.) That's why we're so glad we… More >>
  • BEST D.I.Y. REMODEL SUPPLIES

    Construction Lots!

    Planning a remodel? Looking to replace an old door? Need a new toilet but don't want to flush big dollars down the drain at the usual warehouse home improvement stores? Navigating the construction on Washington is worth it when you land in this DIY-er's oasis for great deals on all things related to remodeling. Construction Lots! gets inventory from builders'… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CLEAN UP

    Sears Parts and Service Center

    Have you shopped for a decent vacuum cleaner lately? It's akin to buying a car or real estate (a good canister vac in a specialty store virtually requires a background check and employment verification). Well, shopping for a super-hard sucker doesn't have to suck super-hard. The Sears Roebuck and Company service center at 32nd Street and Greenway offers a wide… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BE CHINTZY

    Fabric Depot and Supply Inc.

    Fabric Depot is the textile industry's answer to a candy store. Unsurpassed in its selection of top-notch fabrics sporting affordable yardage prices, this warehouse puts its competitors to shame with both inventory and service. Bolts are well-organized according to pattern, color, and material, and swatches are pre-cut for the taking, eliminating the need to have an employee snipping at your… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CONTAIN YOURSELF

    Western Plastics

    Since 1968, this family-owned business has been turning out all shapes and sizes of plastic and glass containers for crafty types as well as big businesses. Need some eight-ounce jars for the salt scrubs you've perfected? They've got that. How about cobalt glass bottles for your super-secret perfume blend? They've got that. Large food-safe containers for your million-dollar-idea barbecue sauce?… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR BEAR STUFFED

    A-Z Seivers Mountain Valley Taxidermy

    Pardon the pun, but animals of all shapes and sizes are just dying to get into Frank Jimenez's taxidermy shop. Whether it's recently departed desert fauna like javelinas, wildcats, and mountain goats; or such inanimate African animals as rhinos, giraffes, or zebras; the tanned and treated pelts of all of these recently deceased beasts have been skillfully stuffed and mounted… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR TEDDY BEAR STUFFED

    Dolls Bears & Surprises

    The first time (and, okay, the second and third) we walked into Dolls Bears & Surprises, we thought we'd stumbled into the toy store time (and organization) had forgotten. To our plebeian eyes, the shop was nothing more than a mishmash of far-too-real looking dolls, particularly babies, crammed onto every available surface, staring at us. Our instinct: run. But our… More >>
  • BEST SHRINE TO TODD MCFARLANE

    McFarlane Toys Store & Showroom

    Everyone deserves to have their own trophy room. You know, a swank little space to display one's awards, spoils of victory, and other mementos of personal glory. It's kind of a staple of comic book heroes, as both Batman and the Justice League of America each have their own hidey holes. So it's kinda fitting that Valley comic book impresario… More >>
  • BEST STORE FOR JUGGALOS

    The Monstar Shop

    The Dark Carnival calls you, young Juggalo, so you'd best show proper devotion to Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope (a.k.a. the wickedly infamous horror-core rap duo Insane Clown Posse) by getting outfitted in style. Before you don your evil-clown makeup and head off to the annual "Gathering of the Juggalos," head for the Monstar Shop, a West Valley boutique… More >>
  • BEST TOY STORE FOR BIG KIDS

    Red Hot Robot - CLOSED

    Red Hot Robot opened its doors earlier this year, and with that, the northwest corner of Camelback Road and Central Avenue officially reached critical mass. Alongside Stinkweeds (music), Frances (fashion) and Halo (piercing), a toy store for big boys (and some girls) was the perfect thing to round out the edgy corner. Our favorite part? Along with toys designed by… More >>
  • BEST TOY STORE FOR LITTLE KIDS

    Kidstop

    The trouble started with Cabbage Patch Dolls. By the time Tickle Me Elmo and Furbies came around, parents were getting in bloody fist fights to snag the last ridiculous piece of fluff that will record every embarrassing moment — from cursing at the mailman to sneaking a quickie after bedtime — so your kid can play it back to your… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A BABY GIFT

    Petite Chateau - CLOSED

    Buying a baby gift is simple: Just make sure you get something the mom would never buy herself. Like a onesie (with matching hat) emblazoned with the message: I AM BOOB MAN.Too obvious? Oh, okay, party-pooper (hey, that's not a bad idea for a onesie message, either!), check out the wide variety of super-soft, super-luxurious (read: super-pricey; but hey, baby's… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY YOUR BADASS FRIEND A BABY GIFT

    Garage

    Okay, so your favorite late-night party girl sidekick got herself knocked up, and she's not ready to go all Earth-mama yet. Don't worry, we're not headed for a discussion about, um, a shmashmortion or anything. (Apologies to readers who haven't yet seen Knocked Up.)We're just saying, it's cool to stay yourself — yeah, you may have to give up the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A KID BIRTHDAY GIFT

    Learning Express - CLOSED

    Birthday parties are one of the little joys of childhood, and one of the big pains in the butt of parenthood. The pressure to find just the right gift — one that little Lily will ooh and ahh over in front of all her friends — is tough. We've all been there — watching little Logan open the remote control… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY YOUR BEST GIRLFRIEND A BIRTHDAY GIFT

    Frances

    So your BFF's the big 4-0? Get over to Frances, ASAP. We've said it before and we'll say it again — this is the shop we'd open if we could open a shop, only the owner has way better taste. So we're content to browse the super-cute tables, packed with body products, garden supplies, jewelry, and a mix of new… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO FIND WHAT SHOULD BE ON MILL AVENUE

    University Square

    In recent years, developers by the dozen have sunk serious sums into Mill Avenue and downtown Tempe with the hope that ASU kids and other hipsters will spend their hours and (more importantly) their dollars at its ultra-corporate chain stores, restaurants, and nightspots.Too bad for them that the gnarliest place around these parts ain't even on Mill Avenue at all,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO RENT A FOREIGN FILM — FOR FREE

    Burton Barr Central Library

    Smack in the center of the first floor at our biggest library sits a stunning collection of foreign and American classic films in both DVD and VHS format that rivals that of any retail store we've ever frequented. Literally hundreds of movies are available to anyone with a library card, the time (they have to be returned within a week),… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE

    Stinkweeds

    Kimber Lanning continues to run our favorite CD shop in Phoenix. No, you probably won't find Barry Manilow's greatest hits in this small outpost of indie music. That's what Borders is for. Or even, dare we breathe it, amazon.com. Stinkweeds is where you go if you want to stretch your taste, and Lanning and her staff are up to the… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE ON A BUDGET

    Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

    Our music collection is taking over our home ever since we discovered Bookmans. The mammoth store is just as cozy as our favorite ma-and-pa bookshops, thanks to friendly, little reading-and-relaxing nooks scattered all over the store, but we find ourselves lately heading straight for the colossal CD department, where gently used music of every stripe can be found, sampled, and… More >>
  • BEST RECORD STORE FOR OUT-OF-PRINT AND RARE RECORDS

    Memory Lane Records

    Forget eBay. Vinyl junkies who want that rare record — in mint condition and at a fair price — need to stroll down Memory Lane.Looking for a quadraphonic, 180-gram vinyl pressing of Johnny Cash Sings Hank Williams for your cowboy cousin? It's here. Gotta get that double-LP picture-disc import of Iron Maiden's Matter of Life and Death for your metalhead… More >>
  • BEST VINYL ON SUNDAYS

    Rock Zone Records - CLOSED

    It's not easy for vinyl-focused shops to stay afloat these digital days. Just look at Mesa's mainstay Rockaway Records, which closed up shop after 22 years. No worries, because Rockaway's longtime owner simply sold the inventory to new management, who, in early 2007, quietly reopened the store in south Tempe.The significantly larger space boasts an expanded inventory of vinyl goodness,… More >>
  • BEST TRAVELING RECORD STORE

    Gilgongo Traveling Record Store + Distro

    Attention, vinyl nerds and compact disc geeks. You now have another outlet for your music-collecting obsession whenever musician James Fella performs a music space or a house gig in downtown Phoenix and Tempe. Fella, a member of Soft Shoulder, Tent/City and various solo and group noise projects, sells hand-picked LPs, seven-inch records, cassette tapes, and CDs wherever he plays. The… More >>
  • BEST BOOKSTORE

    Changing Hands

    In an era when brick-and-mortar bookstores are considered quaint and sort of inconvenient, we're gratified that Changing Hands continues the tradition of wonderful old book shops of yore. Really, you know us — we don't give a hoot about what anyone else thinks. But we were happy earlier this year when Publishers Weekly named Changing Hands Bookseller of the Year.About… More >>
  • BEST USED BOOKSTORE

    Toys, Books & Treasures

    It says something about us all that a store that sells the contents of abandoned storage units has so many books. But they were cherished once, and the folks at Toys, Books & Treasures make sure they'll be cherished again. Pick your way past the porch full of furniture, the racks of old cassette tapes, and shelves crammed with vintage… More >>
  • BEST RARE BOOKSTORE

    Alcuin Books

    First printings of novels penned by the late, great Kurt Vonnegut and Samuel Beckett are just some of the treasures you'll find inside the clean and inviting Alcuin Books. Friendly and knowledgeable bookworm Richard Murian and other welcoming staff members are more than willing to intellectually dish about their inventory and general history topics like the rise and fall of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY BOOKS ABOUT POLYGAMY

    Agreka Books

    There are good (read: marketable) authors and bad (read: unpublishable) authors. Scottsdale-based Agreka mines the middle ground, specializing in "niche" authors — scribes with specialized tales to tell but not too many people to tell them to. Take polygamy. The Agreka bigwigs must be either jack Mormons or full-blown excommunicates because about half of the house's inventory casts a dim… More >>
  • BEST COMIC BOOK STORE

    Samurai Comics - CLOSED

    Being a dork isn't easy. The looks of pity while standing in line for nine hours to see Star Wars: Episode III. The snickers and snide comments just for dressing up as hunky Final Fantasy hero Cloud. So what if it wasn't Halloween? At Samurai Comics in Phoenix, you're not alone. Magic: the Gathering is a lifestyle, not just a… More >>
  • BEST WIG SHOP

    Panorama Wigs - CLOSED

    There are wig shops and there are wig shops, and then there's Panorama Wigs, where faux follicles await those of us in need of a new mop up on top. Bad hair days vamoose for good after a quick trip to the city's oldest, wisest wig salon, where more than 3,000 hairdos, from flips to feathered falls, wait patiently atop… More >>
  • BEST HEAD SHOP

    It's All Goodz

    This unassuming little shop, tucked in a tiny strip mall behind an Exxon Mobil gas station, is still the best one-stop stoner shop in town. The coolest thing about It's All Goodz is the shop's custom-blown glass pipes and bongs, which are made on-site in a room with windowed walls where spectators can check out the craft. Some of the… More >>
  • BEST DRIVE-THRU COFFEE SHOP

    Daily Rush

    After recovering from a broken neck in 2000, former aerospace worker Richard Vietor opened this little gem on Scottsdale Road just south of Thomas Road. Now, we can hardly drive Scottsdale's main drag without pulling in to slam one of his tasty, caffeinated treats.The building is small and quaint and, we confess, we've never been inside. But we've driven through… More >>
  • BEST BOOZE SUPERSTORE

    BevMo!

    Now, why didn't we think of opening a huge store that sells nothing but alcohol and everything you need (from caviar to snack on, to sugars to rim your glass) to go with it? Duh. How could you go wrong? The BevMo!people have gone terribly right, which must be why their stores are popping up around the country quicker than… More >>
  • BEST WINE SELECTION

    Sportsman's Fine Wines & Spirits - CLOSED

    It's funny to think that the Valley's best wine purveyor started in the '50s as a neighborhood liquor store, the kind of place where folks stopped to pick up a six-pack, and maybe a fishing license.Sportsman's, you've come a long way, baby! Of course, the place has long since gone upscale, and in recent years, its empire has expanded to… More >>
  • BEST WINE SELECTION AT A CONVENIENCE STORE

    Pam's Wine Rack, inside the Chevron

    Time was, convenience stores were good for a cold six-pack, some Gatorade, and maybe a bag of chips for the road. But as far as grabbing a decent bottle of wine this side of Ripple to take home for dinner, forget it.That's changed — at least at this unexpected little find on the border of Phoenix and Scottsdale. Whoever "Pam"… More >>
  • BEST NAME FOR A CONVENIENCE STORE

    Pump-N-Munch

    When we're heading over to the West Valley to catch a Cardinals game or shop at Arrowhead Towne Center, one of our preferred pit stops to reload on carbs and refuel the car is this former Exxon Food Mart that's become an independent petrol depot, staffed by super-friendly cashiers and stocked with a full selection of salty and sugary snacks.Plus,… More >>
  • BEST BEER SELECTION

    Tops Liquor

    From the outside, Tops looks like an ordinary neighborhood booze purveyor, but as soon as you take a stroll down the narrow aisles — where shelves are stocked high with a jaw-dropping variety of beers from around the world — you'll understand why beer connoisseurs can't resist this place.First of all, the inventory is divided by regions and countries, so… More >>
  • BEST CHEESE SELECTION

    AJ's Fine Foods

    It's great to order the cheese course after a meal at a nice restaurant, but these days, you don't need to rely on the whims of the kitchen to try an interesting cheese. Actually, it's much more fun to find your own fromage and serve it at home, where you can take your time enjoying it. Over the course of… More >>
  • BEST SPICE SELECTION

    Penzeys Spices - CLOSED

    Our idea of spicing things up is to throw on some cinnamon if it's sweet and some garlic if it's savory. So we got quite a lesson at Penzeys, a shop with more than one kind of cinnamon (have you ever heard of cinnamon chunks?), several kinds of garlic, and an entire section devoted to curry. (And another to extracts!)… More >>
  • BEST OLIVES

    Queen Creek Olive Mill

    Like wine, cheese, and more recently, chocolate, the humble olive has undergone a gourmet makeover. Years ago, we thought of olives as either pimiento-stuffed martini garnishes, or something that went straight from a can onto our nachos.But those days are long gone, especially now that Queen Creek Olive Mill's on the scene. Known for its extra-virgin olive oil, made from… More >>
  • BEST SWEET BBQ SAUCE

    The Barbecue Company Catering

    We can't get enough of the Sweet Sonoran Heat at The Barbecue Company, so we drive across town without complaint and load up on several bottles at a time of this heavenly sauce, then go home and pour it on everything in sight. We've been known to attract ants, but trust us, the Sweet Sonoran Heat is worth any inconvenience.… More >>
  • BEST TARTELETTES TO GO

    Essence Catering

    For 12 years, chef Eugenia Theodosopoulos and partner Gilles Combes have made parties tasty with their menu of stylish finger food and classic European dinners. And even though they've recently opened a bakery and cafe in Tempe, we still prefer the magnificent decadence of eating their treats on our patio or in our dining room. Our guests are still raving… More >>
  • BEST CROISSANTS

    Au Petit Four

    If we had to guess where Parisians get their joie de vivre, we'd say it's the smell of freshly baked croissants wafting through the streets of every arrondissement. With such an abundance of bakeries and pastry shops, those lucky French can indulge at whim, even making croissants part of their daily diet. (Of course, how they stay so slim with… More >>
  • BEST BREAD

    Simply Bread - CLOSED

    European vacations used to haunt us in the worst possible way. You know how you get hungry for something you've had somewhere far away, and can't satisfy your craving until you go back? That was us, with the amazing artisan bread we'd find at traditional bakeries in Paris. The crisp, golden crust, the remarkably sweet flavor, the moist, delectable crumb… More >>
  • BEST BAGELS

    New York Bagels 'N Bialys

    In theory, the humble bagel should be an easy thing to make. After all, it's just a big ol' roll with a hole, right? Wrong. For anybody who's ever gotten a taste of real-deal New York bagels, there's just no tolerating the bready rounds that some stores try to pass off as authentic. In truth, good bagels are hard to… More >>
  • BEST ASIAN MARKET

    Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket

    After a trip to Lee Lee, your neighborhood grocery store will be a bore. At most supermarkets, the "Asian" ingredients get meager shelf space, taking up a fraction of an aisle.That's pretty poor representation for the culinary traditions of an entire continent, dontcha think? Yeah, we do, too. Which is why we head to Lee Lee when we're in the… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN GROCERY STORE

    Baiz Market

    It's hard to shop for groceries on an empty stomach, so we're glad we can fill up on tabbouleh, kebabs and shish taook (grilled chicken) before hitting the aisles at Baiz Market. Once you've found the place (off the beaten path, just north of Van Buren), it's hard to miss the in-house restaurant, tucked into a corner near the front… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO FIND A LOCAL FARMERS MARKET

    www.foodconnect.org

    We happen to love the Downtown Phoenix Public Market. We also happen to live in downtown Phoenix, which, we admit, probably has a lot to do with it. No one wants to get up on a Saturday morning and drive 45 minutes for a bag of apples, even if they are organic. The idea behind the farmers market — indeed,… More >>
  • BEST NURSERY

    Baker's Nursery and Gift Shop

    We love a hometown success story, and that's what Baker's is. Jim Baker started the nursery almost four decades ago, and he's still poking around in the soil, though three of his six daughters assumed day-to-day duties from their octogenarian dad last year. Though it's a bit pricier than, say, Home Depot or Wal-Mart, Baker has something the megastores don't… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A GIFT FOR AN OUTDOORSY TYPE

    Cabela's

    If you've got rugged guys and gals to buy for — people who fish, hunt, camp, or generally stomp around in the dirt — be glad Cabela's has a huge, theme-park-like retail store. Why be a gift-giving martyr when you can enjoy yourself? These genius outfitters offer something for everyone. Things like candles, jewelry, fresh fudge, toys, books, baby clothes,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A GIFT FOR AN INDOORSY TYPE

    The Phoenix Art Museum Store

    We love how the PAM Museum Store doesn't sell hiking boots. Or backpacks. Or bicycle helmets. In fact, nowhere in its newly remodeled 2,700 square feet of unique shopping space is there a single item that says "outdoors," unless it's that coffee table book of Monet landscapes over by the entrance. We're glad that the first leg of Phoenix Art… More >>
  • BEST HOLIDAY DÉCOR HOLY GRAIL

    Crown Import

    Last December, we became enamored of the little wire Christmas trees we spotted at our favorite eatery, but our waiter didn't know where the little guys came from. We set out in search of them, and wouldn't you know it? We found them at Crown Import, our favorite place to shop for interior home décor year-round. During that pre-holiday trip,… More >>
  • BEST KNITTING STORE

    Arizona Knitting and Needlepoint - CLOSED

    Like a favorite sweater, we can't resist this cozy, comfortable Scottsdale shop for all of our hand-knit needs. Sure, all knit shops have yarn, needles, and resources for various types of projects. But unravel these common threads and you'll find Arizona Knitting's true talents: customer service and knowledge woven into an environment that stresses community and comfort. Staffed by needle-wielding… More >>
  • BEST BEAD STORE

    Scottsdale Bead Supply

    Beading is often shoved in the category of trite hodgepodge hobbies like needlepointing or quilting. But if you check out Scottsdale Bead Supply, the swankiest bead-pushing venue in the Valley, you may see the activity in a different light. The store takes beading out of Grandma's gnarled paws and elevates the hobby to a high-class and glamorous profession. With a… More >>
  • BEST JEWELRY SUPPLY STORE

    Lonnie's Inc.

    So, we were looking for some "stuff" to make some "art," but we knew exactly nada about jewelry-making. Just for the heck of it, we waded into the Phoenix branch of this family-owned and operated store and tried to look pathetic.It worked! A very friendly and knowledgeable lady sidled up to us, grilled us about what we had in mind,… More >>
  • BEST PAPER STORE

    The Paper Studio

    Every child is an artist — at least to Mom, who lovingly taped our rudimentary crayon drawings on the fridge. But when they grow up, only a few become real artists, while the rest of us never improve beyond stick figures. Artist Cindy Iverson just doesn't believe that. She and her husband Gary opened a bright, modern paper store stocked… More >>
  • BEST SCRAPBOOKING STORE

    Scrap Happy Sisters - CLOSED

    It began innocently enough. We wanted to commemorate our husband's 1978 bar mitzvah with a scrapbook of mementoes we'd recently found (the invitation; the snapshots of him reading from the Torah; the commemorative blue denim yarmulke handed out to each guest), and ended up with a full-fledged hobby inspired by our new favorite store.Scrap Happy Sisters is more than just… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MAKE YOUR STAMP

    Frenzy Stamper

    If you're hot for grommet tools and ink pads, or if hearing names like Our Lady of Rubber, Staampotique Originals and Stampington & Co. gets you excited, you're definitely a Frenzy Stamper. This tiny shop is packed with stamps in every conceivable pattern and size, as well as enough glitter and ink to fill every sheet of fancy paper in… More >>
  • BEST OFFICE SPACE

    Soma Cafe

    Yes, we know that most of you still work 9-to-5-type jobs, punching in, punching out (and wanting to punch the supervisor about half the time!). Lucky us, we don't. That's not to say, though, that this journalism stuff takes anything less than, say, 60 hours (okay, boss, so it's only 50) in an average week. Some of us still tromp… More >>
  • BEST NEW COFFEE HOUSE

    Dutch Bros. Coffee

    We know, we know. The coffee thing is over-priced, over-hyped and over-caffeinated. Who really needs four shots of espresso a day? Um, we do. Which is why we were curious, on a recent Saturday morning, about a big sign in front of a tiny drive-thru just off the Arizona State University campus. The sign read, "FREE COFFEE."We burned rubber, getting… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, WEST VALLEY

    A Shot of Java

    Lisa Dowd's diminutive espresso parlor isn't so much a coffee house as it is a coffee cottage, snugly located inside a cozy building behind Pizza Old Roma in downtown Glendale. But while it may not be as roomy as your corner Starbucks, A Shot of Java offers a far tastier cup of joe, served up by counter help that are… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, NORTH PHOENIX

    Unlimited Coffee - CLOSED

    At 7 in the freaking morning, we want comfort. We want breakfast. The last thing we want is to walk into a new place and meet new people, so first impressions are even more impressive than usual. Within our first five minutes in this cozy cafe, the barista helped us choose a chocolate-chip scone that he swore was "sex on… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, CENTRAL PHOENIX

    Willow House

    Willow House has been around so long, it arrived before the coffee chains. The good folks of Phoenix continue to support the charming ol' green-roofed home with red trim originally constructed in the early 1900s. On any given eve, the joint is crowded with folks surfing the 'Net on complimentary Wi-Fi, enjoying acoustic singer/songwriter performances during open mic Mondays, or… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, DOWNTOWN PHOENIX

    Royal Coffee Bar

    With the real deal of a downtown Phoenix seemingly on the horizon, we've been longing (cups in hand) for a friendly java joint. Gloriously, we recently happened onto one just south of Sheriff Joe's empty old jail down on Jackson Street, and have found ourselves returning again and again. Royal is a small operation — a half-dozen chairs, a few… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, SOUTHEAST VALLEY

    Into the Bean - CLOSED

    We've been big fans of this small coffee house, located across the street from Mesa Community College, since owner Luis Prado opened his doors in 2004. We dig the place's weird, shabby-chic vibe (including a multitude of Christmas lights and bizarre paintings from local artists) its eclectic baristas, as well as the constant stream of musicians who perform here throughout… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, TEMPE

    Xtreme Bean

    Gold Bar? What's that? Oh, yeah, it was the beloved coffee shop that moved out of this former bank building a few years ago. We almost forgot — not because Gold Bar wasn't a great place for hanging out (still is — its new location is down the road at 3141 South McClintock Drive) but because Xtreme Bean was such… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, SCOTTSDALE

    The Orange Table - CLOSED

    The Orange Table has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a cramped coffee shop across the plaza at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, but it's remained true to itself as far as the quality of the coffee it serves. If you order a latte or a cappuccino, you won't get overpriced dishwater, nor will you get a… More >>
  • BEST RETAIL ANTICIPATION

    The Mix Shops of Southbridge

    Not since the Galleria opened on the other side of Scottsdale Road has there been such a buzz about a mini-mall in the Valley. That's because Fred Unger — the guy behind the remods of the Royal Palms and Hermosa Inn — is the mastermind behind the explosion of good taste anticipated to open this fall on the south side… More >>

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