Africankelli Best of 2010 Continued, Arizona Edition:
Best bagel sandwich: western bagel at Back East Bagels in Tempe. They are so good I have to keep this a weekend indulgence, or I’d be wearing stretchy pants to work.
Best place to buy quirky gifts: MADE in downtown Phoenix. Their jewelry and pottery collection — created by local artists — are fantastic.
Best place to buy artsy gifts: Phoenix Art Museum gift shop. (They have a section dedicated to Frida!)
Best place to buy cheap books: Burton Barr Library book shop. Most books are $1-5 and they regularly receive donations from press junkets. Meaning, you can find books new to the market for pennies, and the store supports the library’s outreach.
Best indie fabric store: Three Dudes Quilting. Their selection is plentiful, although they don’t carry Amy Butler.
Best yarn store: Tempe Yarn and Fiber. While I love Jessica Knit’s in Scottsdale, the Tempe store is friendlier. They have community tables and their prices are fair. Since my mom moved and took my knitting help with her, these folks have helped me more than once mid-project.
Best sushi: Sakana in Ahwatukee. (Conveniently next to Three Dudes, for those who want some fabric with their raw fish.)
Best place to have a long lunch and a glass of wine before sneaking back to work: Herb Box.
Best running store: Sole Sports. They are patient, will watch your stride and fit you for shoes that will make any walker or runner much happier. Their prices are competitive and if you bring an old pair of running shoes in to donate to homeless outreach, they take $10 off your total.
Best pool: masters swimmers work out at a handful of pools in the Valley and while I love the SRC at ASU, the parking is a nightmare. Trying to find a spot near the university for a quick swim is nearly impossible. Cactus pool in Scottsdale is older, but they run long-course in the summer and the bulkheads in the winter aren’t terrible. The pool is maintained well and if you don’t want to pay for a masters program (although SwimDevils workout there and their program is excellent), you can pay a drop in fee for a lane during open swim.
Best thrift store: Flo’s on 7th. Sales benefit Florence Crittenton of Arizona. Their selection of glassware, books and fabric is diverse. I can always find a Pyrex dish in a pinch, or a stack of fabric napkins.
Best place to people watch: Chloe’s Corner at Kierland Commons. Grab a drink and a patio seat. Spend time with a girlfriend. Watch the plastic surgery parade go by!
Best hike: Mormon Trail at South Mountain. From the south side of the mountain, there is a 5 mile hilly loop. I’ve got this down to 1 episode of This American Life and .5 episode of The Splendid Table. It is a gorgeous hike and depending on the time of year, could be covered in flowers, baked in the heat or dry and dusty.