Best Place to See Lucha Libre 2011 | Club Deportivo Coliseo | La Vida | Phoenix
There's nary an empty seat to be found on Sunday afternoons in the grandstands of El Gran Mercado. That's because more than a hundred fans of lucha libre (a.k.a. Mexican-style professional wrestling) never seem to miss the weekly wrestling action put on by the stars of Club Deportivo. As with most lucha events, many of the competitors are clad in unique colorful masks as they bounce and battle in the squared circle for the delight of fans. Fast-paced and high-flying competitors such as Psycho Extreme and Aguila Negra engage in mortal combat each week. Much like the more Americanized superstars of World Wrestling Entertainment, there are good guys and there are bad guys, only they're known as tcnicos (the heroes of lucha libre), who fight it out against rudos (villains). Although it's a bit more colorful than your average episode of WWE Smackdown, the raison d'être is pretty much the same: wrestlers battling for glory (as well as the Club Deportivo championship title) and soaking up the cheers and boos of those in attendance.

Best Place to Prepare for a Quinceañera

Azteca Wedding Plaza

Those in the business of selling gowns for quinceañeras — the coming-of-age celebrations for young Latinas — say the fiestas aren't as popular, or as traditional, as they once were. One of the waning traditions is the birthday girl's starting the night off with a pair of sneakers that are later removed by her father and replaced with high-heeled shoes to signify her transformation from niña to mujer. But at 15, the señoritas are not as concerned about welcoming womanhood as they are about finding the perfect dress, perfect shoes, and throwing a perfect party that will make them the envy of all their friends. And there is no better place to prepare for a quinceañera than Azteca Wedding Plaza, a store packed with rows and rows of everything from extravagant gowns — think pink Cinderella dress with ruffled layers — to simple but sleek dresses. It also carries all the necessary accessories — earrings, veils, tiaras, and crowns — for the little princesa's special day.
Up your street cred with the kiddos this birthday go-round and swing by Dulcería Pico Rico for your piñata and candy fillings. Even better, take the kids with you and let them wander through the many colorful aisles of salty, sweet, and spicy treats. Mexican candies like marzipan, as well as tamarind- and chili-lime-flavored treats, are displayed next to festive party favors and rows upon rows of fancy piñatas. The standards (clowns, donkeys, and toucans) share space with popular superheroes, and they all feature a price point to fit your budget. Feliz cumpleaños a tí!
When looking for Mexican imports, head to what we lovingly call Little Mexico, the small Yaqui reservation of Guadalupe. Right on the border of Tempe, Guadalupe's Mercado Mexico is muy auténtico. Sure, they have the standard Mexican tchotchkes on hand: colorful ceramic figurines, bundles of chile peppers, and celestial iron hangings. But they also have top-notch Mexican ceramics, so even the serious collector of talavera pottery will have plenty to peruse. There are also more calaveras than you've ever seen outside a Dia de los Muertos festival, and you can even snag a cow skull if you're going for that old-timey cowboy décor.
Ah, the swap meet — south-of-the-border-style. Step into El Gran Mercado for an unmistakable flavor of Mexico. There is no better place to relax with a cold beer and munch on authentic Mexican food such as a tasty ensalada de cueritos, bite-size chunks of pork doused with hot sauce. Take in some lucha libre on the weekends, listen to hot local bandas and international performance artists, and find great deals from more than 350 vendors selling everything from religious trinkets to clothes, used cars, and a variety of Mexican tchotchkes.
Business not going well? Want to shed a few extra pounds? Looking for a natural energy boost? Head over to Yerberia San Francisco, a small West Phoenix shop packed with herbal remedies. Inside, you will find a friendly, knowledgeable staff that will guide you through the shelves of neatly arranged products. Loyal customers swear by the ointments, oils, pills, and powders good for all that ails.This yerbería also carries healing bracelets, products to reverse hair loss, and an array of candles, from those that will help you attract more customers to religious candles featuring Inmaculada Concepcion (Mary Inmaculate), Nuestra Senora Del Perpetuo Socorro (Lady of Perpetual Help), and others. Hey, it can't hurt, right?
Timur Guseynov
Pro's Ranch Market is the supermercado to end all supermercados. Step one upon entering Pro's Ranch? Avoid the "don't go shopping hungry" dilemma by hitting up the sprawling eatery with made-to-order Mexican combo platters packed with tamales, tacos, and mounds of carne. Also make sure to stop by the thirst-quenching aguas frescas stand to fortify yourself for your shopping trip. Watch tortillas fly fresh off the presses and into bags bound for your kitchen. Hit up the pescadería and carnicería to ogle the fish and meat displays, which include a pig's head made out of chorizo, and a real cow's skull for making cabeza. Then wrap up the trip with a couple of dulces from the panadería, packed with cookies, sweet rolls, and cakes.
Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is one of our favorite autumn festivals at the Desert Botanical Garden. The peaceful desert ecosystem provides an ideal backdrop for this Mexican celebration of ancestors and departed loved ones. Day of the Dead festivities are part of the ticket price, so make sure you check out the colorful ofrendas (shrines and offerings to commemorate departed loved ones) and the mercado packed with Mexican folk art, sugar skulls, and plenty of food. Or schedule your trip to coincide with La Procesión, which pays homage to the tradition of a community marching toward ancestors' burial sites. And if you're willing to support the garden a bit more (and experience Dia de los Muertos in style), buy a ticket to the "Cuisine and Culture of Dia de los Muertos," catered by the talented Barrio Café chef, Silvana Salcido Esparza.

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