Best Of 2006 | Phoenix | Phoenix New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Phoenix, Arizona


Best New Restaurant: Pink Taco
Best Mexican Restaurant: Bitz-ee Mama’s Restaurant
Best Upscale Italian Restaurant: Tomaso’s
Best Neighborhood Italian: Times Square Pizzeria
Best Thai Restaurant: Malee’s Thai Bistro
Best Indian Restaurant: Taste of India
Best Japanese Restaurant: RA Sushi Bar Restaurant
Best Chinese Restaurant: Fate
Best Vietnamese Restaurant: Cyclo Vietnamese Cuisine
Best German Restaurant: Haus Murphy’s
Best French Restaurant: Sophie’s — A French Bistro
Best Mediterranean Restaurant: Pita Jungle
Best Brewery: Four Peaks Brewing Company
Best English Pub: George & Dragon English Restaurant and Pub
Best Irish Pub: Rosie McCaffrey’s Irish Pub
Best Fish and Chips: Pete’s Fish & Chips
Best Pizza: Zpizza
Best Bakery: Paradise Bakery
Best Gelato: The Gelato Spot
Best Coffee House: Willow House
Best Seafood: The Salt Cellar Restaurant
Best Fig Dish: Vincent on Camelback
Best Apple Pie: Bill Johnson’s Big Apple
Best Ribs: Famous Dave’s Legendary Pit Bar-B-Que
Best Salad Bar: Sweet Tomatoes
Best Deli: Chompie’s Delicatessen
Best Steak House: Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Best Wings: Wingstop
Best Caesar Salad: Oregano’s Pizza Bistro
Best BBQ: Honey Bear’s Bar-B-Q
Best Hamburger: Delux
Best Chili: Roaring Fork
Best Sunday Brunch: Sugar Daddy’s
Best Downtown Lunch: Durant’s
Best Place for a First Date: Oregano’s Pizza Bistro
Best Place for a Twilight Drink: Elements at Sanctuary
Best Margarita: Z’Tejas Grill
Best Martini: AZ 88
Best Appletini: Amsterdam
Best Hangover Breakfast: Matt’s Big Breakfast
Best View: Elements at Sanctuary
Best Patio Dining: Oregano’s Pizza Bistro
Best Restaurant for Kids: Eatza Pizza
Best Vegetarian Restaurant: Pita Jungle
Best Vegan Restaurant: Green, New American Vegetarian

Phoenix Lifestyle

Best Sinner, Sports World: Barry Bonds
Best Sinner, Political World: Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Best TV Newscaster: Kent Dana
Best News Station: KSAZ-TV Channel 10
Best Alternative Rock Radio Station: KEDJ-FM 103.9 The Edge
Best Country Radio Station: KNIX-FM 102.5
Best Classical Radio Station: KBAQ-FM 89.5
Best Rock Radio Station: KUPD-FM 97.9
Best Blues/Jazz Radio Station: KJZZ-FM 91.5
Best Radio Personality: Liz Boyle
Best Public Golf Course: Papago Park
Best Miniature Golf Course: Golfland-Sunsplash
Best Spa: The Healing Arts Day Spa
Best Bookstore: Changing Hands Bookstore
Best Hiking Trail: Echo Canyon, Camelback Mountain
Best Independent Film Theater: Harkins Camelview 5
Best First Friday Hangout: Soul Invictus Gallery & Cabaret
Best Place to Go Thrifting: Goodwill
Best Market for Produce: Sprouts Farmers Market
Best Outdoor Garden: Desert Botanical Garden
Best Fruit Selection: Sprouts Farmers Market
Best City Park With Trees: Encanto Park
Best Place to Turn Your Black Thumb Green: Desert Botanical Garden
Best Place to Pretend You’re in the Garden of Eden: Desert Botanical Garden
Best Reptile Store: Pets, Inc.

Clubs, Etc.

Best Casino: Casino Arizona
Best Bar Concept: e4
Best Place to Buy Local Music: Zia Record Exchange
Best Club for Salsa: Pepin
Best Club for Blues: The Rhythm Room
Best Club for Swing: Club Red Swing
Best Venue for National Acts: Glendale Arena
Best Venue for Local Acts: Marquee Theatre
Best After-Hours: Mickey’s Hangover
Best Country and Western Nightspot: Handlebar-J
Best Bar for Watching the Game: Buffalo Wild Wings
Best Sports Bar: Zipps Sports Grill
Best Dive Bar: Bikini Lounge
Best Gay Bar: Amsterdam’s
Best Lesbian Bar: e-lounge
Best CD Store: Zia Record Exchange
Best Pool Hall: Clicks Billiards
Best Local Band: Brimstone Flowers
Best Bar for Conversation: Casey Moore’s Oyster House
Best Beer Selection: Yard House
Best Place to Be Seen: SIX Lounge
Best Place to Find a One-Night Stand: Dos Gringos
Best Place to See Snakeskin Boots: Pink Taco

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 one in Eden knew how to cook the way the Tricks do with menu temptations like marinated quail with a coffee honey vinaigrette or pistachio-crusted rack of lamb. Paradise.
You say Phoenix and Eden don’t mix,
That the PHX is more like the sticks.
But there are five million strong
To prove you wrong,
And if you don’t believe us, just listen to this:

In our Valley the sun never dies,
And winter, we think that’s a lie.
The cactus grow tall
The rain hardly falls
And though summer sucks, that’s no reason to cry.
(See, the gods made AC, so when it’s 100 degrees,
The cool air will make your blues go bye-bye.)

Now, Adam and Eve had it good
But did they eat Mexican food
Like that at Rosita’s?
Not even Mrs. Rita
Could predict tacos like those that we’ve chewed.

They didn’t need strip clubs in Eden,
But nekkid ladies aplenty, we’ve got ’em.
And our pal the Serpent says,
“Drink hardy, my friends,”
While sipping Camus’ Carson City Martini.

Why not trip the light fantastic with Lucifer?
Rogue’s Shake’ll make the evening a blur.
And DJ Al Page
Rocks The Shop in an age
When true hip-hop is rarer than mink fur.

Goody two-shoes, we got stuff for you, too.
There’s hiking and sports,
Spas and resorts,
And watching monkeyshines at the zoo.

Clean American fun you can find
If you’ve got family ties that bind.
With a budget that’s meager,
You can be a dream weaver,
And discover plenty of spots to unwind.

Our Steve Nash is MVP for a reason,
Plus the Cards have a new home this season.
New arrivals come this way,
Sometimes hundreds a day,
There’s something about Phoenix that reels ’em.

The Zona is the new Promised Land,
Albeit one surrounded by sand.
It’s where the wise reside,
You might fault us our pride,
But whether for nice or for vice,
You don’t have to ask twice,

It’s the reason we call Phoenix “Paradise.”

We love the art that celebrates Das de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead the enormous papier-mch skeletons, the smaller scenes that depict the dead doing everything from writing at the typewriter to performing surgery in the operating room. But damn, sometimes that art can be expensive! So when we want a quick, sweet (but warning not edible) Day of the Dead fix, we head to the Willow House, where we can find a beautiful (in its way) sugar skull, made deep in Mexico and decorated with the traditional brightly colored sugar frosting and shiny tinfoil, for $4. On a recent trip to Willow, we also found a lovely cardboard Jesus air freshener to hang in the car.
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 the cooler) inside the confines of El Dorado Hot Springs. This picturesque mineral-water spa located 45 miles west of the Valley is a clothing-optional compound with a bounty of bathing pools and tubs filled with natural H2O pumped straight from a subterranean spring. Five private areas located inside fenced areas and historic buildings including a small post office where old-school civil servants soaked their letter-carrying carcasses back in the day allow you to take a dip away from the prying eyes of the public for only $10 an hour per person. If you're feeling a bit more exhibitionistic, there's also a semi-private pool for $7.50 an hour per person. Cell phones and cameras are forbidden, however, so you needn't worry about any saucy pics of your skinny-dipping adventures getting posted on the Internet.
When we wanted to rent an Australian Jungle Carpet python, we knew where to go. Rich Ihle has been collecting, studying and breeding reptiles for more than 30 years, and he's happy to lend some of them out, for a fee and with supervision, for which we're thankful. We're not sure we want a python all our own (who knew they peed!), so we'll stick to the rental option, thanks to Reptile Adventures.
Back in the day, the Valley's pro athletes were, well, human. Every month or so, one of them would drive drunk, or very fast, or kick someone's ass, or pinch someone's ass, or stalk their ex, or get caught with some dope, or blow, or say something racist, or sexist, or profoundly stupid, or knock somebody up who wasn't their wife, then be late on paternity checks, then hit their wife, then violate the restraining order, then get back together with the wife who then shows up at every friggin' playoff game with their child so the cameras can adore them ad nauseam, then . . . oh, you get the point. But with all this "character counts" crap invading local locker rooms, every one of our stars is starting to act like Luis Gonzalez. All right, already. We get it. You're a family man. Without any real sin or criminality, we have to go with the best violation of the rule book. This honor goes, hands down, or, hands on, to Raja Bell, who, at the precise moment in Game 5 that everyone in Phoenix wanted to do the same thing, leveled the Little Lord Fauntleroy of the court, Kobe Bryant, with a hit so flagrant, so beautifully premeditated, that it seemed to wash away the decades of Phoenix subjugation at the hands of the hack-happy ref darlings from Hollywood. Of course, beating both the Lakers and the Clippers in seven games also helped wash away that pain. Now, though, we obviously need such a hit next year in the conference finals, then the NBA Finals. Amar? Welcome back. Now hack some Shaq.
When we decided to do a Garden of Eden theme for this year's Best of Phoenix, we knew we'd have to tell you where to find the best apple pie, the best place to make your garden grow, the best place to rent a snake. And, of course, we figured we needed to tell you where to find the best spareribs apologies to Adam. Turns out, the term "sparerib" doesn't refer to an extra rib at all. It originates from the German word rippenspeer, which means "spear ribs" apparently, the cut was traditionally speared and roasted. We Americans bastardized the term 'til it became sparerib also so-named because the cut, from the bottom section of the ribs and breastbone of the pig, doesn't have much meat. So we're confused. We want to tell you where to get the best spareribs, but frankly, we're not 100 percent sure of the cut of the ribs at Golden Eggroll, one of our favorite little Chinese joints, just around the corner from REI in Tempe. No matter, really. These are the best ribs in town an order comes with four juicy, tasty ribs, covered in a light sweet sauce and sprinkled with scallions. We often make a meal of them alone, so perhaps therein lies our answer there's nothing spare about them. One thing we know for sure: Eve would have chosen these ribs over that apple any day of the week. And she wouldn't have had to leave the garden: Golden Eggroll delivers.
In our opinion, it's always worth a trek out to east Mesa, to this homey and charming shrine to the land where corn grows freely, and it's all because of our favorite part of the day: dessert. More than 20 types of homemade pie are baked daily using passed-down family recipes, and the offerings will overwhelm your taste buds. There are straight-ahead varieties like the cherry and peach pies, as well as more unusual offerings like the decadent chocolate peanut butter and the sweet sour cream raisin. But what keeps us coming back to fill our greedy guts is the award-winning apple pie, a thick and sweet creation with a flaky butter crust available by the slice at $2.59 a pop or as a whole delight for $10.99 (with a $2 refundable on each pie tin). We guarantee that you won't leave hungry or dissatisfied, you hear, now?
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 perfect combination of sweet and tart. This is an apple that will definitely sink its teeth into you.

Best Of Phoenix®