No doubt there are many criteria that could be used to determine excellence in tire shops, but how about free tire repairs? While this particular Discount Tire outlet certainly charges for most of its services, the exceedingly cheerful and friendly staff has been known on many occasions to quickly patch tires without charging. This sort of gesture is sadly antiquated, given the current "customer is always wrong" service mentality. Also noteworthy is that, when all those Ford Explorers needed replacements for their Firestone death tires, this Discount Tire was the only place we found that a) did not mention a four-month waiting list and b) actually had the needed tires in stock. And to tread on a politically incorrect non-tire criterion for those who appreciate a good-looking guy: Virtually all the men who work here are handsome as heck. So you won't get tired of watching while you wait.

Super chefs like Julia Child and Jacques Pépin can't be wrong. If Sur La Table is good enough for their culinary contraption needs, then it's good enough for us. This is where the pros stop to shop, do demonstrations and share their secrets with regular home chefs like us.

We fill our baskets with bread machines, coffee mills, waffle makers, brioche pans and cookbooks. We're sold on cedar smoking planks, Majolica corn dishes, scales and sauciers. And treats tempt by the ton: specialty chocolates, coffees, teas, cookies, mustards and marinades.

Let's just put it on the table. It's the best.

Laundromats are typically best approached with blinders on: Don't look too closely at the floor; try to ignore your surroundings and your fellow launderers; don't subject your clean laundry to the folding tables and counters without disinfecting them first. Although doing laundry may never be a pleasure, Spin Cycle at least makes it possible to clean clothes without lowering one's hygienic standards. This is a squeaky-clean facility with bright signs marking double, triple and quadruple loaders. Folding tables are immaculate and plentiful, and several even have televisions built into them. Dryers are efficient and almost always available. The facility also offers Ms. Pac Man and a few other classic arcade games to amuse you while you wait for your duds to dry. There's even Internet access available at 10 cents a minute. If you're too caught up with all these amenities to be bothered with doing laundry, a reliable Fluff-and-Fold service is available on the premises.

Best Of Phoenix®

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