Best Of 2022 | Phoenix | Phoenix New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Phoenix, Arizona
Kevin Cannon
Best of Phoenix 2022
Lauren Cusimano

Best Dispensary for Recreational Customers

Jars Cannabis

It's hard to believe that it's been almost two years since recreational marijuana was legalized in Arizona. In that time, local dispensaries have seen an avalanche of customers navigating their way through purchasing pot for the first time. The three Jars Cannabis locations take great care of their recreational customers whether they're newbies or veteran purchasers. Waits are generally short, and once you're inside, you'll have an eager budtender take your order, tell you about the day's sales, and offer advice on product selection. We love Jars' referral program (we get free stuff for bringing in first-time customers), their excellent selection of all kinds of cannabis products, the discounts on popular items, and the hip atmosphere.

The moment the next installment of Phoenix Flea is announced, we start squirreling away extra money. You see, the one-day modern market typically held a couple of times a year is a veritable wonderland of things we want to buy. The April market had more than 100 vendors, including local favorites Paige Poppe Art, Keep Nature Wild, Iconic Cocktail Co., and The House of Used, plus food and drink purveyors such as Mustache Pretzels and Honey Bear's BBQ. We love the wide range of available goods, the convenient location in downtown's Phoenix's Heritage Square and Science Park, and the hustle and bustle of the large crowd each market draws. The next Phoenix Flea is November 26, and you bet we'll be purchasing our tickets in advance so we can get in and start shopping as quickly as possible.

Allison Young

It's been 20 years since Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza opened Barrio Café with Wendy Gruber on July 11, 2002 — and the Mexican restaurant that blends cuisine, art, and culture is still going strong despite some significant challenges. Esparza recalls the kitchen flooding on opening day, the chronic health condition that could have destroyed her spirit, the devastating financial impacts of COVID-19 closures, the death of a beloved friend and artist, and the politicians who promulgated racial profiling of Latinos. Instead of giving up, she's pushed forward grounded in love for family, community, and food as a profound creative expression of resistance. We can't wait to see what adventures await her as her impact continues to grow in breadth and depth.

It's hard to find a bad place to watch the sunrise in Phoenix, because the desert sky consistently delivers an impressive constellation of colors with an orange sherbet aesthetic. But when we want to see more than a bit of sky, and really take in the sunrise surrounded by the whole city and a vast urban landscape, we head to Camelback Mountain. It's the best place to get a 360-degree view, and the sunrise feels like more than just a collection of shifting forms and life. Here, sunrises remind us of deep connections to the land and the vast expanse of humanity. The view is especially sweet because you have to hike a challenging trail to get there, and the time it takes really allows for centering your thoughts and emotions beyond a cacophony of speed and noise.

Phoenix is a lively and lighthearted city. And with great jocundity comes even greater jokes — remember the whole Penis Man graffiti saga? But the most epic prank in the Valley of the Sun this year came one night in late February, when a $30 million roadwork project in north Phoenix was briefly derailed after pranksters hijacked the controls of an electronic message board near Interstate 17 and Thunderbird Road. More than 100,000 motorists were instructed to "SUCK MY ASSHOLE" as they passed the sign on that fateful Tuesday. Just one day later, after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the invasion of Ukraine, the hacktivist hijackers targeted another illuminated message board on I-17, this time directly on the interstate near Thunderbird Road. This time, the political vigilante manipulated the traffic sign to say "FUCK PUTIN."

Debby Wolvos

The menus are ever-changing at celebrated Scottsdale eatery FnB, subject to the passing of the seasons, the availability of fresh, local ingredients, and the imagination of James Beard Award-winning Chef Charleen Badman. On a recent evening, we enjoyed a salad of bitter greens with anchovy, chile garlic crumbs, jammy egg, and bottarga, before our main course of Jewish-style fried chicken on a bed of beans, corn, peppers, and roasted meyer lemon gremolata. What doesn't change at FnB is the excellent service, the expansiveness of the wine menu with a decent array of Arizona-made options, and the feeling that you're experiencing something very special. Tucked away in a courtyard in Old Town Scottsdale, FnB isn't flashy; it doesn't try to draw attention itself. Rather, it brings in new and returning customers the old-fashioned way: a hard-earned reputation for food too good to be forgotten.

It's hard to believe that it's been 30 years since Gin Blossoms' New Miserable Experience album debuted and brought the Tempe desert rock sound to the world. But here we are, and to honor the milestone and the band that's still touring the country today, the city of Tempe announced in June that it would rename part of Eighth Street to Allison Road Avenue. (It's a reference to "Allison Road," the ninth track on New Miserable Experience.) The renamed portion runs from Rural Road to Una Avenue, a section of town that holds great meaning for the band. "Tempe is my home and heart forever," lead singer Robin Wilson said in a statement in June. "My recording studio was on 8th St. inside Four Peaks Brewery for 20 years. There are no words for the intense pride I feel for this honor." Look for the signs for Allison Road Avenue to go up in October.

The vibe at the annual Waste Management Open golf tournament can be summed up in a February 12 tweet by local sports journalist Dan Bickley: A man in a T-shirt, shorts, and a backward baseball cap lays face-down on the grass, his head encircled by a bottle of water, a Miller Lite, and a mixed drink. "Down goes Frazier!!! (It's 10:19 am)," Bickley wrote. Undoubtedly, some of the thousands of visitors to the Waste Management Open come for the golf. But to the casual eye, most of the attendees are there to party, and party hard. We ourselves have been known to spend a lost afternoon in one of the corporate tents or at the notorious 16th hole (a.k.a. the party hole), where all-you-can-eat buffets and far too many free drinks meet people of all ages who are excited to not be at work. All in all, the beautiful winter weather and yes, even the golf, make for an excellent backdrop for the best daytime party in town.

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