We always swore that whatever dry cleaner was closest was good enough for us. So why do find ourselves driving crosstown just to visit Michael and Kevin at Krisply Kleen? It's not just because they're charming, although that certainly helps. These guys run a tight ship, with brand-new, state-of-the-art equipment that just happens to be much more environmentally friendly than what your neighborhood place is using. (They don't use perchloroethylene, which can cause liver and kidney damage with extensive exposure — and they take the time to recycle hangers, too.) And they don't just have a drive-thru for your convenience; they also have free pickup and delivery across the Valley. If the fact that we still bother to pop by doesn't convince you that these guys are cool, we're guessing that nothing ever could.

We were feeling so smug about the cool 1940s Kenmore gas range we bought from a neighbor. All gleaming white enamel and chrome, it screamed to us from across the street to take it home and bake something in it. We did — or tried to. We knew, once we quieted the shrill shriek of the carbon monoxide alarm, that our only hope was to call the nice folks at 805 Stoveworks. We'd heard for years about how they could fix any antique appliance used for cooking, and we discovered this to be more than true once a pair of Stoveworks workers arrived at our home with their notepads and their little box of, well, whatever those stove-repair things were. They measured some parts of our range and looked into and under other parts of it, then went away. A week later, they returned with dead-mint replacement parts and shiny bits of chrome and Bakelite and, after adding these and making some adjustments under the hood, so to speak, they left us with a brand-new old-timey stove that cooks everything, without setting off any smoke alarms. This appointment-only service (it doesn't have a physical location) is the only game in town when it comes to vintage stove and oven repair, offering everything from cosmetic to internal fix-ups on cookers from the turn of the last century to the present. When it comes to vintage stove repair, these guys know what's cooking.

Classic Automotive

It's a bit of a mystery, but somehow, Classic Automotive in Queen Creek has become a go-to shop for the Arizona DeLorean Club, a group of enthusiasts dedicated to preserving the stainless steel coupes manufactured in the early '80s by a long-defunct company and used as Doc Brown's time machine in the Back to the Future trilogy. Only about 9,000 of the cars were ever made, but about two thirds are still on the road, owned by collectors who need to take them someplace special when they need repairs. Classic Automotive, a small and attentive shop, is that place. If it's good enough for a DeLorean, it's good enough for your Ford Tempo — or so they seemed to be suggesting, when they turned their two-week gig repairing a replica of the movie car into a full-on promotional campaign, complete with fliers bearing the auto's image.

Lindstrom's Family Car Wash

We had rather an odd problem: Our former favorite car wash is owned by someone who's a little obsessive about keeping one's car clean. We grew tired of taking it on the chin every time we pulled up in our usually filthy two-door coupe, and went looking for someplace we liked as well. We ended up wishing we'd gotten wise sooner, because not only do the nice folks at Lindstrom's leave us the heck alone, they reside in a cool old building that's a total flashback to the swinging '70s. Its giant teepee-shaped metal overhangs, blue-striped awnings, and groovy lightning-bolt graphics painted around the perimeter of the building really turn us on. Inside the lobby, there's a fish tank to ogle, although in cooler weather we always choose the neat outside seating area, because it's paneled in boss knotty pine that reminds us of Grandma's basement.

Did we mention that Lindstrom's gets our car really clean, too? This family-owned business, open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. 'til 5:30 p.m., offers a complete auto detail service, as well as express waxing and interior shampooing. They never try to upsell us and — more important — never rag on us if we don't turn up again for months.

Best Place to Buy E-85 (Ethanol) for Your Flex-Fuel Vehicle

Western States Petroleum

Western States Petroleum

We sometimes refer to ethanol as the conservative's alternative fuel. It's not a whole lot better for the environment, but buying it helps Midwest corn farmers and reduces the amount of oil needed from the Saudis and Hugo Chávez. Trouble is, we learned after purchasing a flex-fuel vehicle (one that runs on either gasoline or ethanol) that there are probably more Al-Qaeda sleeper agents in the Valley than there are ethanol filling stations. Fortunately, Western States Petroleum stocks the stuff at its main plant near downtown Phoenix. The plant, with its tall, metal tanks, looks more like a set from The Road Warrior than a gas station, but the workers there are certainly our heroes. We'd be ridin' dirty — as in, burning up sooty, old gasoline — if not for them. Okay, it's not all about trying to be that kind of "green": Ethanol has been about 50 cents cheaper than gas lately.

We may not be afraid of writing about Sheriff Joe, but when it comes to drunk driving, we'll admit that we're terrified of the consequences. Forty-five days in jail for an extreme DUI? Yikes. Of course, that doesn't mean we've cut back on our drinking — but we have found ourselves getting downright anal about calling a cab. And for that all-important ride home, we've never found a cab company we like more than Yellow Cab. It's one of the few local cab companies where the drivers know the city (for the most part), show up promptly, and — shocker of shockers — can actually speak English. After seven martinis, that's good enough for us.

Melrose Liquors

In other parts of the world, the concept of a drive-thru liquor store is probably illegal, let alone indulgent and mostly unnecessary. Here, it's one of the perks of living in the desert. Phoenicians know that turning off the air conditioner for even a second is unthinkable, even if it's to stop off for a cold one. Why would you get out of your chilly respite from the heat to load up on beer if you don't have to? At Melrose Liquors, you don't. Pull up under the shade of a charmingly battered 1950s building, done up in bubblegum pink and seafoam green, and a cheery attendant will help you. Ice-cold beer in every flavor? They've got that. Budget smokes? Piece of cake. Tequila, vodka, or Red Bull? It's all here. The best part? There's nary a premium charge for the privilege, unlike lesser drive-thrus in town, and it's not just cash and carry. (Debit card users, beware — that will cost you 50 cents.) Staying cool in the summer on a beer run? Thanks to the good folks at Melrose Liquors, that's priceless.

Top's Liquor

We love a wide selection — particularly when it's of booze — but the last time we called one of those liquor mega-stores, looking for a particular brand, the guy on the phone sneered, "Look on our Web site," and practically hung up. We'd like our vodka tonic with a twist of customer service, please, so we vowed to stick with an old favorite — Tops. No, the place doesn't gleam, and we don't see coupons for it in the Sunday paper, but the last time we walked into Tops, a sweet young guy with onion on his breath put down his submarine sandwich and took the time to walk us to the vodka aisle and recommend his new favorite. He even searched the shelves 'til he found it and put it in our hands. Our friend was delighted with the gift of potato vodka, and we decided then and there that superstores just aren't all they're cracked up to be. For us, Tops is, well, tops.

Chandler Liquors

From the funky vintage sign to its dusty catacombs of shelving, we dig the vibe at this downtown Chandler liquor store. But it's the vast selection of airplane-sized liquor bottles lining the wall behind the cashier's booth that caught our eye. The answer was a curt "no" when we asked to go back and peruse the hundreds of colorful mini-bottles ourselves, but quickly followed up with "everything you see on the shelves is back here." You want a tiny bottle of Hypnotic for 3 bucks? You got it. 10 mini Chivas Regals to hand out to the men at your bachelor party? Check. While you're there, if so inclined, you might want to wander down one of those gritty liquor-lined aisles to see the pockets of porn strategically placed throughout the store. Or not. Yeah, this place drips unapologetic charm.

Habanos Torres Cigar Factory

Though he recently moved to classier digs in downtown Mesa (estimated square footage of the old store: 10), there are still much fancier cigar shops than Habanos Torres Cigar Factory. But how many other shops have a torcedore working on your smokes while you peruse the humidor? Timothy Torres, a fifth-generation Cuban cigar maker, knows how to roll, and he uses tobacco aged up to 30 years in his blends. If you don't like what he's got on the shelves, he'll also roll you a custom blend totalmente a mano on the spot. Businessmen, be warned: There are no gold-embossed bands on these bad boys. It's all about the smoke, so don't expect to impress anyone on the golf course. If you want a taste of Cuba, though, this is the place.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of