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Sportsman's has won our Best of Phoenix so many years now that some might think we own stock in this popular wine shop. Nothing could be further from the truth. What is true is that Sportsman's continues to surprise and delight with the breadth of its selection, expertise of knowledge, and flat-out friendliness to connoisseurs as well as people who couldn't find their way out of a vat of Boone's Farm. Looking for that perfect pairing for buffalo? Sportsman's recommends a 1997 Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa. What's good with spicy Asian food? Select a 2000 Alexander Valley Vineyards Gewürztraminer. And for those stumped about what to serve with shellfish, a 1998 Merryvale Chardonnay "Reserve" is just the ticket (not for lobster, though). Sportsman's is easily the best game in town.
When we say, "Pass the cheese, please," it's no easy proposition. It takes several trips to cart over the more than 60 varieties the Duck brings in from around the world. This is a virtual tour of the classiest cheeses from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, England, Belgium, and, of course, the good old U.S.A. Exploring for l'Explorateur, a triple-cream cheese with almost as much butterfat as butter? The Duck's got it. Salty, spicy Mimolette Cheddar is on the menu, too, along with Port Salut (made by Trappist monks), Bruder Basil, Chevagne (goat's milk) and gorgeous, hard Parmigiano Reggiano.

Not sure which is your favorite? The Duck offers free samples. If you like it, buy a pound, and they'll simply put it on your Duck bill.

Many of the specialty breads here are wonderful -- the olive bread is a standout -- but if a bakery's all-important baguette doesn't deliver, then all the chocolate-cherry loaves in the world don't make up for the failure. The simple baguettes at Arizona Bread Company -- and the slightly larger and terribly useful sandwich-size baguettes -- display all the hallmarks of a good loaf of bread: thick, crisp crusts; chewy, airy centers; and a vaguely nutty, but never yeasty, flavor. Serve them with soup or salad, and call it a meal.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of