Zinnias at Melrose
We love you, Phoenix shoppers, and we're giving up our most closely held secret to prove it. In fact, it's not just our secret. Up 'til now, no one has known about The Book at Zinnias at Melrose. But now you do, because we're blabbing. You can thank us later.Here's how it works: At Zinnias — the city's latest and greatest Seventh Avenue antiques and collectibles mall — there's this book that's kept behind the counter. If you're looking for something, say a specific vintage coffee pot or a piece of furniture, you can write it down in the book. The dealers who work there read the book and can add your "must have" to their list of stuff they're looking for.Big deal, right? Lots of antique stores have "want lists." But here's what makes the Zinnias book different: People who are not antique dealers — just everyday shoppers and collectors like you — can also ask to see the secret book, which is kept tucked away under the counter at Zinnias. If they have what you're looking for, they can sell it to you from their private collection, and Zinnias doesn't seem to mind."It's like a very low-fi Craiglist, for collectors," Zinnias owner Michael Robertson confides. Robertson let us look at this ultra-private book and pointed out items that customers had found for other customers. Why, since Zinnias doesn't take a cut from all this goodwill, is this good for business? "We're doing just fine," Robertson says. "So why not let collectors share in the fun?"
Allied Surplus
When the apocalypse comes (or maybe just when the dust storms outside are particularly nasty) nothing beats an underground bunker for comfort — provided you have all the essentials. And Allied Surplus has them all. You'll need food, and this military supply store stocks a wide selection of emergency, ready-to-eat meals ranging from canned "scrambled eggs and bacon" and "seafood chowder" to granola and pouches of "chili mac." Just add water and a heat source. Speaking of heat sources, Allied Surplus stocks a really handy Esbit Pocket Stove for less than 13 bucks. If you want better water, pick up a water-purification filter pump or some purification tablets. If things get really hairy (or dusty), AS has Israeli M-15 gas masks. Oh, and there are plenty of can openers, flashlights, and first aid kits to choose from, as well. With so many survival tools to choose from, going underground doesn't seem so bad, after all.
Last Chance Bargain Shoes & Apparel
Like many of the best things in life, Last Chance just isn't what it used to be. Back in the day (like, the mid-'90s) you could pick up a Kate Spade purse for under $20 ($19.97, to be exact), a Nicole Miller ballgown for under $40, five pairs of Hush Puppies for well under $100. But now Hush Puppies are out of style — again — and the folks who run Nordstrom's clearinghouse for all returns and the crap it didn't sell at it department stores or outlets are onto us. More important, they're onto the network of re-sale experts who truly seem to live at Last Chance. These days, you can't just snatch up every Prada purse that lands on the pile; there are rules and limits. And, yes, that takes some of the fun away. (Although really, did you need that fifth Louis Vuitton?) Still, there are bargains to be had in this musty, well-lit basement in the former Colonnade Mall, where, on a recent Saturday afternoon, shoppers packed the aisles, trolling for TOMS espadrilles and Hobo wallets as "That's the Way I Like It" by KC and the Sunshine Band played overhead. We must admit, there's nothing we like better than a big score at Last Chance. Uh huh, uh huh.
Copper Star Coffee
Lauren Cusimano
There are so many things that make this old gas station turned coffee shop cozy and charming, from the vintage pump out front and the exposed industrial piping in the ceiling to the comfy couches and red brick walls adorned with local art. This is a hangout place, where hip Phoenicians gather to gab over a cup o' joe or cloister in a corner with their laptops. Of course, all the quaint ambiance in the world wouldn't matter if the coffee sucked. Thankfully, Copper Star serves up some delicious brews, from frozen treats like green tea smoothies and blended double chocolate mochas to hot Americanos and chai lattes. Everything is made fresh, so expect to wait for your drink (especially on weekends), but while you're waiting, there's no shortage of people to chat up, free magazines to read, and pastries to ogle.
Jobot Coffee
Heather Hoch
On average, we fill a minimum of three punch cards a month at this Fifth Street coffee house. Some might say we have a problem — and they might be right. But that's not going to stop us. Just over a year old, JoBot brews its own special blend of locally famed Cartel coffee and serves to-die-for homemade scones — and crêpes. Not just any crêpes; these are some of the best in town. Sweet or savory, we love them all. Hang out inside at the bar and chat with the locals, and when it gets too crowded, move next door to the quaint living room or take your business outside to the covered patio. Open 'til midnight Sunday through Thursday and 24 hours Friday and Saturday, JoBot's got you covered whether you're looking for your morning fix or attempting to sober up after a late-night binge.
Cupz N' Crepes
We're suckers for a good crêpe. Light and eggy, savory or sweet, the prospects of grabbing a cuppa joe with a crêpe on the side have us salivating just thinking about it. Lucky for us, at Cupz N' Crepes each part of that dynamic duo stands on its own. The drip coffee is rich and bold, and the fully stocked coffee bar serves up all your favorite espresso-based treats. And the crêpes are just as varied and delicious, whether they're packed with bananas and nutella or eggs and bacon. Cupz N' Crepes will definitely have you coming back for more.
Cave Creek Coffee Co.
You know those little leaf patterns that baristas create with cream or milk on top of your coffee? Well, the leaves at C4 (as Cave Creek Coffee Company's also known) are perfect — so beautiful that you almost don't want to ruin them by taking a drink. But then you'd miss out on the delicious house blend javas here. Whether you like your coffee dark, medium, or light, C4 has your strength (in house blends called Black Mountain, Black and Tan, and Cowgirl, respectively). Caffiends with a sweet tooth will also relish C4 drinks like the Mocafe (spiced Mexican hot chocolate) and the Mocha Latte (made with Ghirardelli chocolate). And the atmosphere at C4 — which draws an eclectic crowd ranging from old bikers to young artists to families of tourists — is damn cozy, as guests can chill at candlelit tables by the wine bar or in comfy oversize chairs by the coffee bar.
Ground Control Coffee & Wine Bar
Tucked away in the Southwest Valley, Ground Control serves up delicious coffee drinks from beans that are roasted and ground on site. Ground Control has the usual suspects — Americano, cappuccino, and iced mocha — and signature drinks such as Cafe Sisu (a white and dark chocolate drink); or Cafe Roma, a flavor that mixes dark chocolate, caramel, and praline. The shop offers a variety of blended coffee drinks, including a lactose-free CocoMochaNut and a Blended Fruit Blast with mango, strawberry, peach, banana, sour green apple, and wildberry, a super-fruit antioxidant. Don't look for Wi-Fi at this old-school gathering place, which encourages you to bring a book or a friend instead of a computer. Check out Ground Control for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and don't leave without trying the homemade gelato.
One of the best things about Coffee Rush in Chandler is the view — where else in the Valley can you sip a hot, fresh cappuccino while cooling your heels next to a big blue man-made lake? And it's not just the cappuccino and lake that make this place awesome. Just walk in and get a whiff of all the delicious mochas and lattes. There are almost too many menu items to choose from. But if figuring out whether you want a scrumptious caramel nut latte or a strawberry vanilla java or a tiramisu mocha or a regular ol' Americano is the hardest decision you'll make all day, that's not so bad. The atmosphere here is cool, too, with free Wi-Fi for costumers, a pet-friendly patio, and a friendly staff that treats even newbies like regular customers.
Cartel Coffee Lab
There's a reason many other coffee shops in the Valley use beans from Cartel Coffee Lab: flavor, baby. Lots of it. Cartel's beans create rich and nutty espressos, smooth and sweet iced toddies, and chocolaty mochas. Baristas at Cartel roast their coffee beans on site, which means everything is super-fresh. And if you want to know every little detail of how your coffee is made and what's in it, the baristas at Cartel can tell you. This is a place for coffee connoisseurs. In fact, the baristas are so confident in the absolute perfection of their coffees that any request to change up the recipe is likely to be met with rolling eyes or a raised eyebrow. So if you want to order a coffee with "one pump caramel, one pump white mocha, two scoops of vanilla bean powder, with whipped cream and caramel drizzle on the top, no ice, double-cupped," go to Starbucks. But if you're just looking for a damn good cup of coffee that doesn't take five minutes to order (but, be warned, might take a good long time to make), then Cartel's got you covered.

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