Get Out's 2005 Devil Picks - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Get Out's 2005 Devil Picks

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Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2005 7:41 am | Updated: 8:54 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Whether you’re a freshman who’s new to the Valley or a senior getting ready to graduate, there's always something new to discover in Sun Devil territory. From bars and clubs to bowling alleys and malls, here's your guide to finding the hottest places for cool college kids.

Food and restaurants

BEST SANDWICH

Orange Table: Tucked away in Old Town Scottsdale, this cafe has both an artistic indoors, with lots of creative works pinned up on the walls and regular live music, and a dog-friendly outdoors that is a perfect place to take a study break. Come for the nearly 40 different types of sandwiches, ranging from the Chipotle Chicken Melt to the Green Chili Roast Beef Melt, all served on freshly baked bread. (7373 E. Scottsdale Mall, Suite 6, Scottsdale, [480] 424-6819)

BEST ITALIAN

Caffe Boa (pictured): This chic establishment brings back a taste of Italy with its brick walls, sleek black-and-white decor and wine bar. Perfect for a date, the cozy tables are candlelit, jazz music fills the air every night and the food is so delicious you’ll be feeding it to your companion. Sample dishes like the agnolotti boa (pasta filled with mushrooms in a tomato cream sauce, $12.95) or the linguine el greco ($15.95) complete with tiger shrimp sautéed in white wine. (398 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, [480] 968-9112)

BEST SMOOTHIES

The Juice Spot: Not only can you get yummy fruit and yogurt smoothies like the Top Spin (high-energy raspberry, blueberry, banana and yogurt) and the Overtime (mocha, latte, heath mocha or peanut butter chocolate iced coffee) at this chill smoothie bar, you can also sink your teeth into a variety of energy bars or stock up on vitamins and supplements. There’s 30 smoothies and more than 10 dietary additions like protein boosts, so the combinations are many, and coffee lovers can also get a java fix with lattes and cappuccinos. (725 S. Rural Road, Tempe, [480] 968-2855)

BEST SUSHI

Kona Grill: If seeing the gorgeous fish in Kona Grill’s tank makes you more hungry than sympathetic, don’t hesitate to walk into this chic fusion restaurant. Besides to-die-for dishes like the Maui tacos ($7.50) and avocado egg rolls ($7.95), Kona boasts delicious sushi creations, including the jalapeño yellowtail sashimi ($10.75) and three-layer tuna tartare ($13). Plus, the happy hour is always hoppin’, making exotic eating ever so appealing. (7014 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, [480] 429-1100; 3111 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, [480] 792-1711)

BEST COFFEE SHOP

Mill’s End: Any stressed-out Sun Devil will feel instantly relaxed at this European-style coffeehouse. Get some studying done at one of the many desk tables with individual lamps, converse with friends on the couches, take in one of the eclectic choices from the bookshelf, admire the student and local art adorning the walls, sample some hookah or work on a puzzle. The coffee is yummy, and there are also tons of breakfast, lunch and bakery items. Music lovers can hear bands every Friday and Saturday night, and bluegrass music takes over Sunday brunch. (310 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, [480] 829-0755)

BEST BREAKFAST

T.C. Eggington’s Brunchery: Stepping into this restaurant is like making yourself at home in a country cottage: It’s cozy, and the staff is so friendly it’s as if they’re family. The food is just as comforting, with generous portions and healthy options. Try a frittata, a skillet egg concoction, like the Marinara de Vinci (Italian sausage with peppers, mushrooms, onions, marinara and provolone, $7.75), or dig into a pile of “girdle” cakes, all topped with whipped honey butter (the honey-roasted wheat germ cakes, $5.95, are lip-smackingly good). There’s also lots of omelet choices, and top your meal off with a smoothie or raspberry cappuccino. (1660 S. Alma School Road, Suite 129, Mesa, [480] 345-9288)

BEST POST-BAR GRUB

Flavio’s: Formerly Filiberto’s, the best Flavio’s in Arizona is always poppin’, especially after last call. The food is greasy, and the servings are plentiful — a perfect combination for those who will be feeling a hangover the next morning. Try one of the 20 combination plates, like the scrumptious No. 5 (two cheese enchiladas, rice and beans, $5.25), sip some horchata ($1.75 for a large) or dig into a shrimp quesadilla supreme with guacamole and sour cream ($6.19). It’s open 24 hours, so you and your crew can hang out all night. (More than 15 Valley locations; the best is at 1993 W. Elliot Road, Chandler, [480] 814-1526)

BEST ASIAN EATS

Thaifoon: This dark, candlelit restaurant is ultra-chic, with mirrors on the walls and smoldering red lamps, and the food is just as upscale. It's known for its bold flavor, and you can sink your teeth into dishes like the Evil Jungle Princess Shrimp (peanut-red curry with shrimp, vegetables, long beans, mint and Thai basil, $12.99) or Bangkok Duck (duck breast with citrus-chili sauce, cabbage, ginger and garlic, $13.99). There are also a ton of vegetarian and vegan options. (8777 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, [480] 998-0011)

BEST VEGETARIAN EATS

Veggie Fun: Those who don’t want to eat dead animals should take a trip to Veggie Fun, where there are no furry creatures in any dishes; all the food is made with only vegetarian/vegan ingredients like soy. Try Shredded Pork With Chili Sauce minus the pig ($5.20), sample some “seafood” like Shrimp in Lobster Sauce ($5.80) or simply load up at their lunch vegetable bar. The restaurant is cute and quaint, and eaters will be able to leave with a guilt-free conscience. (2240 N. Scottsdale Road, Tempe, [480] 941-9003)

BEST GROUP RESTAURANT

Buca di Beppo: If you travel in packs or just want to bond a little with friends, stop by Buca di Beppo, where all the food is meant to be shared and passed around. The atmosphere is Italian kitschy, with vintage photos adorning walls, but there’s actually a table in the kitchen for those who would prefer to look at the chefs as they prepare meals. You can’t go wrong with their classic Spaghetti Meatballs ($14.95-$21.95, depending on how many servings), and their Chicken Parmigiana ($15.95-$21.95) is also to die for. Top off the meal with a Torta Doppia Cioccolato ($8.95), a chocolate cake served on chocolate sauce with chocolate buttercream icing. (3828 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, [480] 949-6622; other Valley locations, www.bucadibeppo.com)

BEST RESTAURANT ATMOSPHERE

AZ 88: AZ 88 is a modern and hip restaurant at Scottsdale Civic Center. A haven for the trendy and beautiful, the venue’s elegant outward appearances are deceiving — the food is fairly cheap and delicious, and the moderately priced drinks are pretty darn good, too. The atmosphere, however, is what makes this place such a great hangout: The leather chairs are comfy, the ambience is elegantly casual, and the bathrooms feature mirrors on all the walls so you can watch yourself from all directions. (7353 E. Scottsdale Mall, Scottsdale, [480] 994-5576)

BEST DATE RESTAURANT

The Melting Pot: Dripping cheese on your date may be messy, but hey, it’s a great way to break the ice. Romantics can rest assured, feeding food to your date is highly encouraged here, and there are tons of fondue dishes to try. Dip some veggies into some Fiesta Cheese Fondue ($14), or dig into fish, scallops and shrimp paired with Louisiana Hot Sauce ($20). Top it off with a dessert fondue like the Chocolate S’mores, with flambéd milk chocolate and marshmallow cream served with graham crackers ($12). These meals are meant to be shared, so get prepared to have some fun with your food. (8320 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale, [480] 607-1799)

BEST DELI

Bison Witches: This recently opened bar and deli, located near the Brickyard in downtown Tempe, serves up big and hearty sandwiches for a small amount of money. A perfect place for ASU students who want to watch their favorite game with a beer and some good grub, Bison Witches also has some great daily specials, including $1.50 Budweiser and Shiner Hefeweizen pints on Thursdays. Try their SunDevil sandwich ($6.25) — roast beef and smoked turkey covered with gouda cheese and spicy mustard. (21 E. Sixth St., Suite 146, Tempe, [480] 894-9104)

BEST WINGS

Hooters: Hooters' famous wings, fried and topped with a buttery hot sauce, live up to their reputation. (“I go there for the wings! Honest!”) Featured sauces include mild, medium, hot, Three Mile Island, 911, cajun, samurai or spicy jack. Don’t miss their happy hour, which features two-for-one prices on their wings from 3 to 7 p.m. (501 S. Mill Ave., Suite 201, Tempe, [480] 967-2222)

BEST BARBECUE

Big City Barbecue: Known as “Barbecue with Soul,” this excellent restaurant features delicious smoked meats, hand-carved beef brisket ($6.99 per half-pound) and Honey Rubbed Smoked Ham ($6.99 per half-pound). The chef, Rasshad Brown, is known for his excellent “soul food” culinary skills and spice-creating techniques. We should also mention that their barbecue has received prestigious awards, including the Best of the Valley (2005) in Phoenix magazine. It also received a vote for Best Barbecue in Get Out Magazine’s 2005 Devil Picks. Oh wait, that’s us. (5118 S. Rural Road, Tempe, [480] 756-5702)

BEST DESSERT

T.G.I. Friday’s: The reason we chose Friday’s as our favorite dessert can be pinpointed to one mouth-watering creation: Brownie Obsession. Similar to Oregano’s popular pizookie, Friday’s Brownie Obsession is made with a warm, chewy brownie, vanilla ice cream, Ghirardelli hot fudge and yummy caramel. Another favorite is the Oreo Madness — two large Oreo-cookie sandwiches filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate and caramel. Once you try these delectable desserts, you may become just as obsessed as we are! (10 Valley locations, including Chandler and Mesa; check out www.tgifridays.com for more info)

BEST SEAFOOD

The Salt Cellar: Located underground in south Scottsdale, the Salt Cellar is considered the “best catch in town” when it comes to seafood — it has some of the finest and most affordable dishes you can find in the Valley. The atmosphere is serene and dark, with dimly lit candles and dark wooden chairs. An oyster bar is available, and there's a great list of seafood-based appetizers such as mussels and clams. (550 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale, [480] 947-1963)

BEST PLACE TO FEEL LIKE YOU’RE IN MEXICO WITHOUT

CROSSING THE BORDER

Macayo’s Depot Cantina: Located near Third Street and Ash Avenue in downtown Tempe, Macayo’s Depot Cantina isn’t just another of your run-of-the-mill chain Mexican restaurant in the Valley. With great happy-hour specials, awesome tunes and a large outdoor patio, you’ll feel like it’s Cinco de Mayo every day of the year. Come at 4 p.m. on a weekday and have a Bud, Bud Light or Michelob Ultra for $2 or one of their famous margaritas for only $4.95. (300 S. Ash Ave., Tempe, [602] 212-2420)

BEST FLAPJACKS

International House of Pancakes: With more than 10 different styles of pancakes, including the beloved chocolate-chip and crepe-style, IHOP is definitely the best place to go when you’re craving a carb-laden meal any time of day. Of course, you don’t have to get pancakes or any other breakfast food — they also serve lunch and dinner. We recommend the Banana Nut Pancakes, the Big Steak Omelette or one of their new Funnel Cakes smothered with strawberry topping. (225 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, [480] 894-9220)

BEST ICE CREAM

Carvel: That’s right, they have more than just ice cream cakes. Carvel, which was founded in 1934 by Tom Carvel, has been serving up tons of different ways to calm your sweet-tooth cravings for years. With more than eight Valley locations, don’t miss out on their rich and buttery ice cream flavors ranging from their most popular, Cake Mix, to Brownie Dough Fudge. We recommend heading down on a Wednesday with a friend because it’s buy one, get one free on all classic sundaes. (Several Valley locations, www.carvel.com)

BEST MEXICAN FAST FOOD

Carolina's Mexican Food: Carolina’s (pronounced Car-o-LEE-na’s), has been a popular Mexican fast-food joint since 1968 and is the only place on Mohave Street where you can find BMWs and Escalades parked. Patrons from all over the Valley come to this quaint and authentic eatery to buy Carolina’s well-known tortillas for $2.35 a dozen. Just walk through their doors to encounter the largest wall display of “Best of Phoenix” tributes and reviews you’ve ever seen. Our favorite: The Oaxaca Special Burro. (1202 E. Mohave St., Phoenix, [602] 252-1503)

BEST HAMBURGERS

Fuddruckers: Despite our adversity to chain restaurants, Fuddruckers does serve a pretty tasty hamburger. And the “do it yourself” method for creating the self-proclaimed “World’s Greatest Hamburger” is also a plus. If you’re not a hamburger type, they also have excellent salads, ostrich burgers and the best beans you’ve ever tasted. Try the Southwest one-pounder with pepper jack cheese — just make sure to bring a friend, because there’s more than enough for two. (Eight Valley locations, www.fuddruckers.com)

BEST CHEAP LUNCH

My Big Fat Greek Restaurant: This Greek restaurant serves healthy and delicious dishes that will keep your palate and your wallet happy at the same time. For under $5, you can get one of this restaurant’s famously tasty and large pitas, made original-style or with chicken or pork souvlaki. Once you go Greek, you can never go back! (525 S. Mill Ave., Tempe; three other Valley locations, including Scottsdale and Chandler, [480] 966-5883 for more info)

Bars and nightlife

BEST GAY BAR

BS West: The space may not be generous, but that’s just a better incentive to mingle with the hotties. BS sees many college-aged patrons, and there’s a little something for everyone: Plenty of alcohol (there are drink specials almost nightly), a pool table, a lounge and a dance floor where you can get down to music that isn’t purely techno — there’s actually a bangin’ Top 40 playlist with all types of music mixed in. Plus, with Kamikaze Karaoke on Thursday nights, you can pick your own tracks to sing along with. (7125 E. Fifth Ave., Scottsdale, [480] 945-9028)

BEST FLAGSTAFF BAR

Maloney’s: Yes, you can find this joint in Tempe, too, but in Flagstaff, Maloney’s is the place for Lumberjacks and -jills. This bar is bumpin’ every night of the week, and most of the time, the people who are getting down and dirty are also sizzling hot. There’s great motivation to get your drink on: Mondays are $3 martinis and margaritas, and Wednesday is $2 pint night. Just don’t be surprised if you end up having a mountain-town romance. (101 N. Leroux St., Flagstaff, [928] 214-9519)

BEST WEEKDAY NIGHT OUT

Wednesday at The Library: No, we’re not talking about Hayden Library. We’re talking about the restaurant and bar that features college-aged girls in Catholic schoolgirl uniforms who are known for getting down on top of the bar. Sound familiar? And to make this scene even better, the Phoenix-based ’80s cover band Metalhead plays at The Library every Wednesday night. The place is packed, featured shots are $3, and the ladies get in for free (gentlemen are $5). Just another reason to put off that research paper until tomorrow. (The Library Bar and Grill, 501 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, [480] 929-9002)

BEST BAR WHERE THE COVER CHARGE IS ACTUALLY WORTH IT

The Big Bang: Replacing the former Beeloe’s bar and restaurant, the Big Bang is a dueling piano bar featuring live music every night of the week (except for Mondays, but that will change at the beginning of September). For a $3 cover charge on weekdays and a $6 cover charge on weekends, you will get a night of great music, lots of laughs and an opportunity to submit your own song request and hear it played by the house musicians. It might not be the best place if you’re a little timid, since the musicians are known for calling patrons on stage and embarrassing them. (501 S. Mill Ave., Suite 101, Tempe, [480] 557-5595)

BEST MARTINI

Devil’s Martini: Located in Old Town Scottsdale around a plethora of other clubs, Devil’s Martini is known for its nonstop gyrating dance floor and, of course, its martinis. This place is always packed on Fridays and Saturdays and serves some mean and sophisticated libations. Try their signature Devil’s Martini and you won’t be disappointed. (4175 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale, [480] 947-7171)

BEST PATIO BAR

Loco Patrón: Located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, Loco Patrón is the newest hot hangout for ASU students looking to relax in a mist-covered patio with margarita in hand. Hit this bar on a Friday or Saturday after 11 p.m. and you may not be able to find anywhere to sit. Don’t miss the reverse happy hour specials at this time (Monday through Friday), with $2 beers, $4 Stoli drinks and $5 margaritas. (4228 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, [480] 874-0033)

BEST BREWERY

Four Peaks Brewing Company: Besides being the largest brewery in Arizona, Four Peaks’ “hand-crafted” beer is tasty and pretty easy on the wallet (especially during happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close, with $2.75 pints). Enjoy the award-winning tastes of the Kiltlifter Scottish-Style, or the 8th Street Ale, two of their most popular ales. They also have a full menu, featuring “alehouse” sandwiches and tasty hamburgers. (1340 E. Eighth St., Tempe, [480] 303-9967)

BEST SPORTS BAR

McDuffy’s: This happenin’ sports bar, located on Ash Avenue and Fifth Street in Tempe, was voted the No. 5 best sports bar in the nation by Sports Illustrated in February. Besides having tons of TVs to watch the games, McDuffy’s boasts some of the best drink specials in the Valley every day of the week. It’s especially packed on Thursdays, when beer-hungry ASU students congregate for 50-cent Coronas from 9 to 11 p.m. (230 W. Fifth St., Tempe, [480] 966-5600)

BEST FEMALE STRIP CLUB

Skin Cabaret: The remodeled cabaret is a popular hangout and strip joint for guys and girls, especially with the great two-for-one drink specials and the free lunch buffet (with a two-drink minimum) available on selected days. All the girls are hot, but some are simply stunning — and with $10 lap dances, you can’t go wrong. (1137 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, (480) 425-7546)

BEST TUCSON CLUB/BAR

The Wildcat House: Located on North Stone Avenue near the University of Arizona, this bar/club is known for its packed dance floor and great drink specials. Monday through Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. they offer $1.75 well drinks and $5 monster beers. The bar, which caters to young twentysomethings, also features “nights with a theme”— Thursday nights are hip-hop nights, Friday nights are an known as an “alternative dance party,” and Saturday nights are Tejano/ Tex-Mex nights. (1801 N. Stone Ave., Tucson, [520] 622-1302)

BEST HOTEL BAR

James Hotel: Called “America’s Sexiest Resort” by Travel and Leisure magazine, it’s no wonder the James Hotel’s popular “J Bar” is where you’ll find the hottest scene in all of Scottsdale. With a glowing fireplace, signature drinks and a sleek lounge-style atmosphere, this bar offers more than just a beautiful crowd. Also try their award-winning restaurant, Fiamma Trattoria, located downstairs. (7353 E. Indian School Road, Scottsdale, [480] 994-9203)

BEST CLUB TO LOSE YOUR PAYCHECK IN UNDER AN HOUR

Axis Radius: Although there was quite a selection of clubs to choose from in this category, Axis Radius in Scottsdale tops the list. Not that we don’t love the two high-class, trendy nightclubs that come together under one roof. It’s just that the money goes pretty quick— 10 bucks for a cover charge after 10 p.m., and the drinks ain’t much cheaper. If you aren’t a poor, starving college student like us, though, the retro yet contemporary lounge/club, with its hot people and even hotter dance floors, may be worth the extra cash out of your pocket. (7340 E. Indian School Road, Scottsdale, [480] 970-1112)

BEST DIVE BAR

Chez Nous Cocktail Lounge: Called the “Valley’s Ultimate Lounge” by Get Out, Chez Nous is a precious gem in a sea of coal. The dark, smoky lounge has been around since 1963 and has remained pretty much unchanged since then. It brings people closer together — folks of different ages, social circles and races fill this barely lit lounge. (675 W. Indian School Road, Phoenix, [602] 266-7372)

Style and shopping

BEST-LOOKING CROWD

Scottsdale Fashion Square: While celebrities like Brandy, the “Spearderlines” and Ludacris have all stopped by, this upscale shopping center also sees Arizona Diamondbacks players making regular appearances. Dress to impress if you’re shopping here; the nonfamous also seem to wear the latest designer duds, and model look-alikes prance through dressing rooms. (7014 E. Camelback Road, [480] 990-7800)

BEST PEDICURE

Uni Hair and Nails Salon: This Asian-decorated establishment has peaceful vibes and is squeaky clean, and it costs only $30 for a manicure/pedicure combo. Plus, a perfect way to top off your day of beauty is a back massage, included with the European pedicure. (930 E. University Drive, Tempe, [480] 967-9920)

BEST MALL

Chandler Fashion Center: This top-notch haven has all the shops ASU students could possibly need: Express, Hollister, Bath & Body Works, American Eagle Outfitters, Nordstrom . . . minus a snobby vibe. Plus, there are tons of yummy restaurants (Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen) included, and it boasts a Harkins movie theater. (3111 W. Chandler Blvd., [480] 812-8488)

BEST CLUB CLOTHES

Plush: Not only can you find traditional preppy club wear like dark denim, button-downs and pretty camisoles here, cats and kittens who want to stand out from the Abercrombie crowd also can find rock ’n’ roll tees and studded belts galore. Their sunglasses collection is huge, so if you feel like playing movie star for a night, grab a couple of pairs to make yourself mysterious, or make your presence known with a huge ghetto-blaster belt buckle ($26.95). (215 W. University Drive, Tempe, [480] 967-9200)

BEST TATTOOS ANDBODY PIERCINGS

Divinity Tattoo: Those who may be squeamish about getting a tattoo or body piercing will feel instantly relaxed when they walk into this clean establishment. There’s artwork all over the place, which may just inspire you as to what to put on your body, and the staff is super-friendly, patient and more than willing to guide you through the process. Divinity specializes in art fusion, which is sprawling, overlapping images, but you can get something as simple as a tiny heart. (2947 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, [480] 970-5042)

BEST BOOKSTORE

The Poisoned Pen: After hours of studying, the last thing an ASU student wants to see is a textbook, and here at The Poisoned Pen, academic reading is nowhere to be found. This shop specializes in mystery books (there’s even a crime-scene body outline on the floor), but there are also tons of feminine “beach reads” and crime magazines, plus a slew of signed first editions. The store also holds book signings and crime-themed book clubs, and there are comfy spots to get caught in a good read. (4014 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale, [480] 947-2947)

BEST HAIR

Toni & Guy Academy: Toni & Guy do the hottest hair in the Valley, so why not get a style of the same caliber, but with a lower price? Coloring starts at only $35, while a basic cut is a measly $10. After the pupils have graduated and start working on celebrities, you can say you had your hair done by one of them back in the day. (7201 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, [480] 994-4222)

BEST RECORD STORE

Zia Record Exchange: Opened in 1980 as a small shop in Phoenix, Zia Record Exchange has blossomed, with seven locations in Arizona, including one very close to ASU. The shop is open daily from 10 a.m. to midnight (gotta love those hours!) and sells not only used records, but new records as well new and used records. They have loads of CDs and DVDs, including imports, and what they don't have on hand, they'll order for you.

(105 W. University Drive, Tempe, [480] 829-1967)

BEST SKATE SHOP

Cowtown Skateboards: Cowtown has all the essential skateboarding gear, from snappy PJ Ladd shoes to Project Hardware tool kits to a multitude of Plan B skateboards. There are also DVDs, books and board designs you won’t find anywhere else. Plus, you’ll want to be a stylish skater, so there are plenty of jeans, polos, watches and button-downs that will always keep you chic. (3016 N. Dobson Road, Chandler, [480] 214-0133)

BEST LIQUOR STORE

Sun Stop Food Shop: This beer, wine and liquor store has one of the largest selections of alcohol in the Valley. Beer connoisseurs will rejoice in their countless brands; even the finest of aficionados has not sampled many of the foreign beers available here. Much to the excitement of ASU partygoers, there are also more than 36 types of keg beers, ranging from Bass Ale to Four Peaks' Kiltlifter. (1212 E. Apache Blvd., Suite 1,Tempe, [480] 968-7880)

BEST TANNING SALON

Darque Tan: Yes, we’ve all heard about the harmful effects of tanning beds, but it’s no fun to be pale in a city where bronzed skin is in. For $18.88 a month, customers at Darque Tan can get unlimited tans on VIP beds, as well as half off all the upgrade beds (there are five different kinds of upgrade beds, each a little stronger than the last). With a knowledgable and helpful staff, new and up-to-date equipment, and private sound systems in each room, Darque Tan is not a place you want to pass up. (1819 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, [480] 941-8364)

BEST ASU MERCHANDISE

The College Store: Besides selling new and used textbooks at pretty decent prices, The College Store has tons of ASU-themed clothing, supplies and even home accessories. It's also within walking distance from the university, which helps students who are carless. For added convenience, you can reserve textbooks for your classes or purchase other materials at its Web site, www.collegestoretempe.com. (1015 S. Rural Road, Tempe, [480] 894-4400)

BEST BARGAIN CLOTHES

Buffalo Exchange: Where else can you find the perfect jeans for half price AND that have already been broken in? Buffalo Exchange is a great thrift store close to ASU where you can find designer clothes that are usually in near-new condition. It’s a great place to make some extra cash, too — just clean out your closet, sell those clothes that have been sitting there for five years, and leave with cash in hand. You can also do a trade-in and walk away with some trendy new designer tops.(227 W. University Drive, Tempe, [480] 968-2557)

BEST PLACE TO OUTFIT YOUR LIVING SPACE AND YOURSELF

Urban Outfitters: Located in the heart of downtown Tempe, this urban-chic, two-level store sells more than just men’s and women’s apparel for the young and trendy. Home accessories, ranging from velvet curtains to fashionable wall art and lowrider chairs, are available on the second floor. Check out their hefty clearance area, loaded with all kinds of goodies, including tongue-in-cheek books and cool electronics. One of their most popular books: The comical and slightly raunchy “Position of the Day” playbook ($12.95). (545 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, [480] 966-7250)

Music and dance

BEST KARAOKE

The Vine Tavern & Eatery: Whether you’re a serious singer or someone who’s drunk and looking to make a fool of yourself, Thursday nights at The Vine mean getting down to some good ol’ trashy karaoke (with the occasional Mariah-piped songstress). Take your place on the stage and belt out songs such as Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” and Modern English’s “I Melt With You.” If you’re worried about hitting a bad note, you can blend your vocals in a group. (801 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, [480] 894-2662)

BEST RADIO STATION

The Edge (KEDJ 103.9 FM): This independent station has long been a favorite of ASU students for its commitment to playing a variety of music and not submitting to corporate powers. You can hear everyone from The White Stripes to Cake to My Chemical Romance here, and the music is given top priority: The DJs are personable and knowledgeable, so you won’t hear any meaningless chatter, just convo relating to the tunes. Plus, there are local, global and ska/punk specialty shows. The Edge has also been a major supporter of the annual Vans Warped Tour and puts on its own "Edgefest" every September. This year, look for Social Distortion to rock the Peoria Sports Complex on Sept. 17. (www.theedge1039.com)

BEST PLACE TO PLAY LIVE MUSIC

Mill Avenue: Street performers abound on Tempe's Mill Avenue, and just about every type of genre is covered here: Battling beat boxers, emo guitarists, pop keyboardists — there’s even a massive drum circle every Saturday night! No matter what style you’re into, if you want to let out your inner rock star, simply bring your instrument down, grab a street corner and hope people are in the mood to drop some dollars. (Mill Avenue between University Drive and Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe)

BEST UNDER-21 DANCE CLUB

Buzz Nightclub: Just because you’re not of drinking age doesn’t mean you need to put away your dancing shoes! Buzz is the place to be if you’re under 21, and Fridays and Saturdays see the nightclub packed wall to wall as 18-and-over hot young thangs dance the night away to Top 40 and hip-hop beats. Those who are of age can still get their drink on, and patrons stay as late as 4 a.m. grabbing numbers and getting down. Cover charge is $10, and on Saturdays, ladies get in for $5 before midnight. (10345 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, [480] 991-3866)

BEST VENUE

Celebrity Theatre: Located on 32nd Street just north of Van Buren Street in Phoenix, Celebrity Theatre was built in 1963 as a conference center and has hosted many legendary performers over the years. Another reason to love this venue is the spinning stage — with the flexibility to seat up to 2,665 people in the round or 2,100 with stage not turning. It also offers a full bar serving cocktails and snacks. (440 N. 32nd St., Phoenix, [602] 267-1600)

Outdoors

BEST ONE-DAY TRIP

Sedona: This small city to the north is home to fortune tellers and good-vibes-inducing crystals, vortexes, rock slides, creeks to play in and breathtaking views of gorgeous red rocks. There’s also old-town-style shopping, the community Canyon Moon Theatre (1370 W. Highway 89A) and art galleries galore. Grab a bite of the yummiest Mexican food in the north at El Rincón in Tlaquepaque (336 Highway 179), then pick up some jewelry at Turquoise Buffalo (320 N. Highway 89A). To get to Sedona, take Interstate 17 north to state Highway 179 (exit 298) toward Sedona/Oak Creek Canyon. Take a left onto 179 and turn right onto state Highway 89A. (www.sedona.net)

BEST PARK

Freestone Park: This gorgeous outdoor recreation center in Gilbert has everything a park lover wants: Batting cages, lakes, a skate park, basketball courts, a railroad and carnival, sand volleyball courts, baseball fields, picnic tables, ramadas and plenty of grass to lay out a blanket. There’s also a kiddie playground, so there are plenty of ways to let out your inner child. Frisbee, anyone? (1015 E. Juniper Ave., Gilbert)

BEST WATER PARK

Golfland/Sunsplash: Not only does this entertainment mecca boast miniature golf, laser tag, bumper boats and a huge arcade, there are tons of attractions for the bathing-suit-clad. Sunsplash has a huge wave pool, a relaxing inner-tube river, inner-tube slides (a couple are pitch black) and slides that seem to drop at a 90-degree angle —scary, but oh so fun. A $21 day pass gets its mileage if you’re at the park all day; just don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen. (155 W. Hampton Ave., Mesa, [480] 834-8319)

BEST HIKING TRAIL

Peralta Trail — Superstition Mountains: With more than 180 miles of trails, the Superstition Wilderness is a haven for those wanting to experience the stunning Arizona desert. The Peralta Canyon Trail, a popular hike, is known for its connection to the Legend of the Lost Dutchman and his hidden treasure of gold. It also has a terrific view of Weaver's Needle, a very prominent rock spire located on a nearby mountain range. This hike, like most of the hikes in the Superstitions, is relatively short (4.4 miles) with a moderate level of difficulty. Make sure to bring lots of water, and watch out for rattlesnakes! (Drive east on U.S. 60, then turn left on Peralta Road. Drive for about eight miles on the dirt road until you reach the trailhead.)

Hooking up

BEST DATE

Paddle boats at Tempe Town Lake: Being on one of Arizona's rare bodies of water is special in itself, but renting a paddle boat can make the event even more memorable. You and your honey can take in the pretty scenery and admire the Mill Avenue bridge lights, or converse as you navigate your boat around the lake. If you get tired of paddling, there's always an opportunity to cuddle, and it's only $12 an hour. (620 N. Mill Ave., Tempe, [480] 517-4050)

BEST MAKEOUT SPOT

Camelback Mountain: The fact that there's no parking allowed here from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. hasn't stopped tons of ASU couples from making the drive around the winding road on Camelback Mountain and finding the perfect spot to get their mack on. There's lots of pretty scenery and mountains and houses to admire, plus you'll get an optimal view of the gorgeous city lights. (Take Camelback Road to 56th Street, go north to Valle Vista and follow the road west to find a spot.)

HOTTEST MALE STAFF

Pasta Brioni's: Located on Miller Road near Old Town Scottsdale, Pasta Brioni's is the epitome of an East Coast Italian restaraunt, only it's in Arizona. The food is authentic and delicious, and the staff is even tastier (gotta love those young Italian men!). Don't miss the happy hour specials starting at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, with half-price drinks and half off the entire dinner menu. (4416 N. Miller Road, Scottsdale, [480] 994-0028)

HOTTEST FEMALE STAFF

Margarita Rocks Beach Club: This new bar and dance club in downtown Tempe is a haven for young college guys wanting to see some scantily clad females. Located a few blocks from ASU, this Beach Club boasts three levels, the largest dance floor in the Valley, 10 bars and beer tubs. Did we mention that the waitresses and go-go girls wear tight-fitting bikinis? (410 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, [480] 968-3301)

Sporty stuff

BEST PLACE TO GO STEALTH

Stratum Laser Tag: For laser tag obsessors, Stratum features a big course at 13,000 square feet, with winding tracks, tons of corners to hide in and towers to shoot down at opponents from. Grab a group of your friends and divide into opposing teams, or go at it individually, trying to rack up as many points as you can. With unlimited play on Friday and Saturday from 8 p.m. to midnight ($16.99), you can practice and hone your skills so that by the end of the night you'll have mastered some tricks to conquering laser tag. Individual games are $6.99 per game. It's a fun, safe way to get a super adrenaline rush. (1455 S. Stapley Drive, Mesa, [480] 545-5500)

BEST BOWLING

Brunswick Zone Mesa: This squeaky-clean bowling center is smoke-free, meaning you won't get wheezy as you're sending your ball down the lane. The place is always packed, too, and the cosmic bowling on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays is one big party: The lights go off and a DJ plays grindin' tunes. Bring five friends and it's only $10 per person ($59.99 per lane). (1754 W. Southern Ave., Mesa, [480] 834-0588)

BEST ROLLER SKATING

Surfside Skate: Strap on some roller skates and you'll instantly feel groovy. At Surfside, you can request the hottest tracks from a DJ, skate side-by-side with your honey for couples' skate or participate in the Hokey Pokey. There's also a ton of arcade games, pool tables and greasy food. For the young adults, check out Teen Night on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m.; it's only $2 admission and $2 for skates. Friday night means staying out late; it's open until midnight, so you can boogie on your happenin' wheels all night. (1625 E. Weber Drive, Tempe, [480] 968-9600)

BEST ICE SKATING

Alltel Ice Den: Just because it's over 100 degrees outside doesn't mean you can't find a fun way to cool off in the Valley. This ice skating rink is home to the Coyotes Amateur Skate Association, among other groups, and there's also a fitness center, Peter Piper Pizza, pro shop and game room. You can opt to take skating classes, but for those experienced or brave enough to go at it alone, open skate times take place every afternoon and Friday and Saturday nights for $7, plus a $3 figure or $4 hockey skate rental. (9375 E. Bell Road, Scottsdale, [480] 473-5811)

BEST BATTING CAGE

Kiwanis Park: There are plenty of cages to choose from, with softballs and baseballs being hurled toward the batter at varying speeds. You get 12 pitches for only 50 cents, so you'll be warming up for the professional leagues in no time. The swing zones are open daily from 4 to 9 p.m. (6005 S. All-America Way, Tempe, [480] 350-5727)

BEST MINIATURE GOLF

Crackerjax: This place is a golfer's paradise, from the expert to the novice. Try your hand at the driving range, or play on one of two miniature golf courses, where you'll have to maneuver through mazes, waterfalls and streams. The Optical Delusion Course has plenty of trickery that is challenging to any puttputter. After mini-golfing, you can enjoy go-karts, bumper boats, a professional putting course, a batting cage or a game arcade. It's only $9 to play two rounds of mini-golf. (16001 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, [480] 998-2800)

Sober fun

BEST PLACE TO HOOKAH

Oasis Cafe Mediterranean: For those who don't want to smoke hooka flavors like melon, raspberry and vanilla, fear not: Oasis has tons of cheap yummy Mediterranean food, a happy hour and belly-dancing shows Thursday through Saturday. The earliest it closes is 2 a.m., so there's plenty of time to come lounge on some pillows or chill in the private room. (1314 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, [480] 966-6388)

BEST MOVIE THEATER

Harkins Cine Capri: Part of this 14-screen multiplex is the big daddy of them all: A 70-foot-wide display, which has the most popular movie of the week projected onto it. The theater's huge, but still get there early, since seats tend to go quickly. Make friends with your neighbors, and you can even get "the wave" going before the previews. (7000 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix, [480] 538-1707)

BEST PLACE TO VOLUNTEER

Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Arizona:

Become a mentor for a child between the ages of 6 and 15. There are two ways to make a difference in a young person's life: Hang out with "littles" once a week at their schools and play on the playground, do arts and crafts or eat lunch with them, or spend two weekend days a month having fun by doing stuff like going miniature golfing or seeing movies. The relationship you'll build could last forever, and you'll be able to directly see your volunteer hours pay off. (1010 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix, [602] 264-2447)

BEST COMEDY CLUB

Tempe Improv: This classy joint has seen some of the biggest names in comedy, including Jerry Seinfeld. "Full House" royalty Bob Saget and "Saturday Night Live" alum Tracy Morgan performed this summer. Not only are there giant laughs to gobble up, the club also serves dinner with the shows. Ticket prices generally start at $15. (930 E. University Drive, Tempe, [480] 921-9877)

BEST ARCADE

Gameworks: It's hard to be bored at this sprawling two-story arcade, where you can find just as many college students as young'uns. Get your boogie on with "Dance Dance Revolution," hop on a simulated motorcycle or shoot hoops to get prize-winning tickets. If all the playing makes you hungry, there's a stacked sports bar with tons of yummy food that you can munch on while you check out the current sport events on a giant video screen. Those who are over 21 can get their drink on and sample the 48-ounce "Mega-rita," and gamers can plan for a late night out — the center is open until midnight weekdays and until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. (5000 Arizona Mills Circle, Suite 669, Tempe, [480] 839-4263)

BEST POETRY

Essenza slam: This isn't your average poetry reading. At the Essenza Coffeehouse, hard-core wordsmiths battle it out. There's poetry about topics ranging from love and heartbreak to ostracization and even hip-hop rhymes and tunes. It costs $1 to show your stuff every first and third Thursday, and anyone is welcome to enter the contest, which is judged by random audience members and has a cash grand prize. Some rules to keep in mind, though: Only original work, no nudity, no props and under three minutes. Other than that, feel free to wild it out! (1350 S. Longmore, Mesa, [480] 461-0445)

BEST PLACE TO PAINT YOUR OWN POTTERY

Café au Clay: There's an artist in all of us, and here at Café au Clay, even the most inexperienced painters will be able to create a masterpiece. This place looks just like an artist's studio, with plenty of space and tables to sit at and get your paint on. The studio fee is $5, then pick a piece of pottery from over 300 choices (like a flower vase or dog bowl) and paint it yourself. There's also a private party room. (15730 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, [480] 367-1155)

BEST THEATER

Gammage Auditorium: Tons of shows that have played on Broadway come to Gammage, including "Cats," "Les Miserables" and "Evita." Splurge on a lowerlevel seat to see more of the action, but if you're in the balcony, you'll still be able to take in the play from good sight lines (thank legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright for designing it). Plus, students can get 50 percent off tickets an hour before some shows, so check to see if you can score a discount for the next "The Lion King." (1200 S. Forest Ave., Tempe, [480] 965-3434)

BEST DRIVE-IN

The Scottsdale Six: Grab a vehicle and park it; there's no indoor theater here! You can watch movies from the comfort of your own Honda or pickup truck; all that's required is an FM radio station. There are six screens all playing the latest in cinema, and it's the perfect way to enjoy the warm Valley nights. Tickets are only $5.75 per person (that beats most student discounts), and Tuesdays mean $3.50 tickets and $1.50 hot dogs. (1625 N. Hayden Road, [480] 949-9451)

BEST LIBRARY

Scottsdale Public Library: If you're yearning to get away from campus to find a peaceful place to study, the Scottsdale Public Library is the best place to have a fun time doing your homework. There are plenty of study rooms, a multitude of desks with individual lights, computers and comfy couches overlooking the grassy Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza. If the classy, adult side of the library is too mature for you, you can also try to get away with playing in the children's center castle. The book and media collection is also extensive, making writing your research paper that much easier. (10101 N. 90th St., Scottsdale, [480] 312-6012)

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