The 2014 Best of ASU Winners
After gathering reader input and our writer’s knowledge, we compiled this list of the Best of ASU. Read on for the winners for all of the categories including Best Coffee, Best Splurge and Best Places to Take a Nap.
Best of Tempe:
Graphics by Noemi Gonzalez
University Drive and College Avenue
Hours: Monday through Thursday
The sun rises over the Tempe campus shining bright on the Blue House Coffee cart. It’s 7:30 a.m. and Sam Beger and Nick DiPastena have already wheeled to work, or rather, wheeled their work—a self-made bicycle cart—to the corner of College Avenue and University Drive. The boys are ready to begin another day of serving up coffee and tea to the regulars on their daily commute. “It opens a lot of doors to talk to interesting people I wouldn’t have met before,” says DiPastena. “Blue House is a part of a morning routine that’s always really fun because it’s meeting a lot of people you’ve never met before, talking to a lot of people and getting to hear their stories. It just makes college seem like a much smaller place.
414 S Mill Avenue, #115 480-968-8226
Hours: Mon. –Thur. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Fri. – Sat. 10 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Sun. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The food is average when sober but for late-night drunk eats, it is heaven. Their delicious shredded beef tacos arrive in a red plastic basket topped with lettuce, cheese and tomatoes. If you manage to get there before 2 a.m. you can order one of their giant Coronaritas. And, with lots of seating and clean bathrooms, it's a good place to end a long night out on Mill Ave.
Best Place to Grab a Beer: Four Peaks Brewery
Suite 104, 1340 E 8th St. 480-303-9967
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m
Sun. 10 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
For the best beer, why not go local? Four Peaks Brewing Company is housed in a high-ceiling warehouse where patrons can sit right next to the vats of brewing beer. In addition to its varied selection of beers, the food is stellar. If you like spicy, try the Popper Burger; you won’t regret it.
Best Mexican Cuisine: America’s Taco Shop
735 E University Drive Tempe, AZ
Hours: Mon. – Sat. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sun. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Just a block from campus is the best place to grab cheap, delicious Mexican food. The best part about this place is their generous serving size. Offering a variety of authentic regional dishes based on the recipes from owner America Corrales’ mother.
Sun Devil Fitness Complex
Mon - Fri: 5 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Sat: 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sun: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
There’s nothing like getting your gym gear together and heading to the Sun Devil Fitness Complex to get in a good workout. But as you descend the steps toward the SDFC racquetball courts, you immediately feel your body temperature start to climb, and you haven’t even started working out. I highly recommend racquetball as an insanely competitive and intensely enjoyable sport to play with one or two friends, but the humid, submerged ASU courts are kept at such high temperatures to begin with, that you are guaranteed to be drenched in sweat by the end of your racquetball session.
Best Slice of Pizza: Venezia's Pizzeria
27 E. Southern Avenue
Sun - Thur: 10:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Fri - Sat: 10:30 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Expensive eateries featuring artisan pizza have dominated the downtown Phoenix over the past few years, so the refreshingly affordable and casual Venezia’s Pizzeria is a welcome sight in Tempe. Tucked away into a crowded shopping plaza off of Southern Avenue and Rural Road, Venezia’s features delicious, New York style pizza along with other classic Italian fare. Try their homemade meatball hero, which is out of this world.
1151 S. Forest Avenue
For all the time you've passed in the hallways of Coor Hall, have you ever been remotely uncomfortable, temperature wise? Thought so. For a good reading place or to simply unwind, the hall presents an opportune location to cross your legs on that modern metal patio and relax. We've also been told that it's a few degrees cooler than under the adjacent direct sunshine. Don't ask us why.
1301 E. University Drive #114
Su-W 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Th-Sa 11 a.m – 10 p.m.
Want to try authentic Japanese ramen? This savory noodle place serves all kinds of Japanese ramen, allowing you to customize what meat and toppings you desire. They also feature boba and smoothies. It’s a hybrid of traditional recipes and Japanese flavor, while adapting a modern atmosphere of clean wooden tables for groups or a party of one.
425 S. Mill Avenue, Suite 109
Open daily 11 a.m. – 10 p.s.., open late Fri-Sat
It is a sleek-looking establishment. There are white chairs and tables for patrons to sit, either outside or inside, and there is one person manning the counter. Inside containers enclosed in the counter are rows of traditional Mexican popsicles. The popsicles are delicious in either fruit-based or cream-based flavors and provide a cool and sweet treat for those walking along Mill Ave.
Best of Downtown:
120 E. Roosevelt St.
Hours: Mon-Sat: 12 – 8 p.m., Sun: 12 – 6 p.m.
The sky-blue walls bursting with art provide a cool juxtaposition to the buzzing needles and the inked-up artists working at Golden Rule Tattoo. Settled in the heart of the Roosevelt Row arts district, Golden Rule provides customers with a friendly and creative team that is passionate about their trade. Despite the shop being a bit pricey, the care and conversation of the artists, and the tattoos they create, are definitely worth it.
330 N. First Avenue
Hours: Mon-Fri: 5 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sat: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sun: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
The new Sun Devil Fitness Complex on the downtown Phoenix campus opened up at the beginning of the fall semester and has been busy ever since. In connection with the Lincoln Family YMCA facility, the complex offers top-of-the-line workout machines for both cardio and weight training. Take a run around the indoor track, play a game of basketball, or do some laps in the rooftop pool. Whatever your activity, you are sure to keep moving (and sweating) throughout your time there.
1326 N. Central Avenue (602) 795-7954
Hours: Daily 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
The favorite food truck has taken its pizzas from road to restaurant. Pizza People recently opened its first permanent location across from the Burton Barr Public Library on Central Avenue. Here, they offer an extended menu that includes wings, burgers and salads in addition to its popular pizza pies. These pizza artists use a range of ingredients and also offer gluten-free and vegan options. Look for their food truck or visit the restaurant to enjoy a delicious combination of food and atmosphere.
5223 N. Central Avenue
Hours: Mon. to Fri. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Churn is the ice-cream place you always dreamed of going to as a child. Here, you can get the craziest ice-cream combinations—paired with the best names like Fat Elvis and Kitchen Sink—while taking a stroll back into memory lane, even if you weren’t born in the ‘50s. At Churn, your inner child is let out while your taste buds dance to Jailhouse Rock. Added bonuses: you can also grab some yummy candy, cookies and retro toys on the side of your ice cream.
401 W. Clarendon Avenue
Hours: Sun. to Thurs. 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
When you dine out at Gallo Blanco, you’re so overwhelmed with happiness that you even begin to better understand things like what the song “La Bamba” was referring to all along. Gallo Blanco has the best dishes from its Huevos Rancheros to its fish tacos. The food is so tasty because Gallo Blanco partners with farms and local distributors to ensure that every dish is made fresh. The dining experience is made even better thanks to its atmosphere. The restaurant, located inside the Clarendon Hotel, is an urban neighborhood café with an open dining room and bar. So, para bailar a la bamba, go to Gallo Blanco!
Best Place to People Watch: The Light Rail
People watching is a fun experience that gets you to think outside of yourself. It’s made even better when you’re constantly surrounded by all different kinds of people, which is what happens on the light rail. There’s always someone on the light rail car that surprises you. Whether it’s the guy dressed in the weird costume, the woman rambling nonsensical words to the wary passengers, or another student who has your eye, you always have someone to keep your interest as you pass the time while waiting for your stop to come. Check out our feature on people watching on page 12.
214 E Roosevelt Street 602-374-4192
Hours: Sun. to Thursday 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Fri. and Sat. 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
A short (and completely worth it) 10-minute walk from the downtown campus, Songbird Coffee & Tea House carries the best brew the city has to offer. Perfect for any coffee nut or tea fanatic, the small, artfully decorated shop offers roasts from Brazil, Costa Rica and India and a plethora of loose leaf tea varieties ranging from the classic chai (sweet or spicy) to a pomegranate mojito green tea guaranteed to knock your socks off.
214 E Roosevelt Street 602-253-0339
Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat. and Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Out of sight and often missed behind a downtown coffee shop, monOrchid Gallery is the hidden treasure of the Roosevelt Row art scene. While the outside is humble in appearance, each piece featured in monOrchid is unique and exhilarating. Revitalized from a warehouse constructed in 1937, monOrchid’s history adds to the space, creating a serene space to admire local talents.
918 N. 5th Street 602-501-9076
Hours: 24 hours on weekends, until midnight daily
If there's a good place to wind up when you're either hung over or still drunk, it's Jobot. We can't think of a better way for a slightly inebriated person to greet the day than with Jobot's rustic decor and all-day breakfast favorites like biscuits and gravy and a stout Cafe Americano. Say, that sounds pretty good!
Follow them on Twitter for updates on their location @ShortLeashDogs
Short Leash is the type of food truck that wants to defy expectations. Any fool can boil a hot dog and slap some condiments on it. Yet, it takes an ingenious business owner, with equal parts audacity and nerves, to pervert the holiest of food creations. Case in point: One of their signature dogs, the "Lady," wrapped in gyro roll, topped with chipotle cream cheese, fried pickles and sautéed onions. Interested?
Hours: 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
You can't peacefully sleep on the light rail. Thieves abound. And crazy people shout. Brakemen like to surprise with the screeching stops at intersections. But, the ASU shuttle? None of that. It's like playing a harpsichord on a cloud above all dominions below. Like a demigod, you are oblivious to the all the little quibbles on Earth, or in the case of the shuttle, just outside on the soda-stained pavement.
An awning resides over a series of metal tables and chairs on a platform. The platform overlooks the green, grassy area that houses the art structure in the Civic Space Park, and looking out to the right you can see trees and park benches, littered with students underneath. Under this awning lies the perfect haven and escape from the sun.
2221 N 7th St 602-252-3326
Hours: Sun. to Thurs. 11 a.m. 10 p.m. Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.
Rice Paper is all about the flavor. Do you like trying ethnic food that’s not too ethnic? With a modern aesthetic, the restaurant mixes Vietnamese flavors into delicious results, like an indelible tuna and mango spring roll, served with the titular rice paper, with a side of hoisin sauce. It’ll taste yummy in your tummy.
525 S Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Monday: Closed Tues - Thurs 11 am - Midnight Fri - Sat 10 am - 1 am Sun 10 am- - 6 pm
Certainly one of the more interesting buildings in downtown Phoenix, The Duce serves as a venue, a restaurant, a clothing store and a boxing ring fully equipped with punching bags. See "The Top 10 Overlooked Places" for more information on page 52.
721 N Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Hours: Sunday to Saturday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
When you are looking to grab a beer with some friends after class, Phoenix Public Market is a great option. Just a stone throw from the Cronkite School, Phoenix Public Market offers a menu of delicious snacks, like the rice and bean bowl, along with a great selection of craft beers. Try the orange blossom if you are looking for something with a sweet dessert taste.
214 E. Roosevelt St. 602-326-9944
Hours: Mon. - Fri. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Made with the nest quality leather and supplies, Bison Made takes pride in each of their handcrafted products. Each item is inspected and sealed with the owner’s stamp of approval, so you know your money has been well spent!
Best of Polytechnic:
2150 E Williams Field Road #120 Gilbert, AZ 85295
Mon – Thurs 11 AM to 10 PM
There’s a reason why the Tuscon-based Frost Gelato has expanded to stores across the United States and across the world. With a bevy of gelato and sorbet flavors ranging from chai tai, Guinness and Bailey’s Irish Crème (all made fresh daily and made with ingredients straight from Italy), Frost brings a fresh spin on dessert in the Valley. Located in the Santan Village, try to visit Frost before rush hour, as the lines for this popular gelataria can get outrageous.
2757 E Guadalupe Road Gilbert, AZ 85234
With lush greens, beautiful lakes and waterfalls, the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is its community’s own oasis. Perfect for evening walks for moments to think, this park is also great for biking and fishing. So next time life seems to take a bit of a toll, set your mind at ease with a stroll at the Riparian Preserve.
25062 S Meridian Road Queen Creek, AZ 85142
Hours: Sun. to Thur. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fri. to Sat. 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
You don’t know olive oil until you’ve been to the Queen Creek Olive Mill. A surprisingly urbane marketplace smack dab in the middle of Queen Creek’s rustic surroundings, the Queen Creek Olive Mill bottles and sells beautifully packaged oils (can you say blood orange olive oil?) in addition to all of the sauces, vinegars and savory cooking essentials you need for your kitchen. And that’s just the marketplace. Head outside under the trees and enjoy lunch, where all of the dishes are prepared with their own olive oil and other healthy, local ingredients.
Best of West:Best Mexican Cuisine: Big Burrito Mexican Food
4920 W. Thunderbird Road Glendale, AZ 85306
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 7:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. Sun. 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
This little hole-in-the-wall restaurant is close to campus and great for take-out. With a wide variety of traditional Mexican food dishes, Big Burrito is a great place to try and serves many satis ed customers regularly. Their burritos and carne asada fries are two can’t miss dishes!
Best Place to Grab a Burger: Freddy’s Steakburgers
4929 W. Bell Road Glendale, AZ 86001
Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 10:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.Fri.-Sat. 10:30 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.
The red and white awning that hangs above the building signals a good meal. Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers always has people inside and ordering through the drive-thru, a testament to it’s wildly popular and insanely delicious steak burgers. As an added bonus, Freddy’s has the best frozen custard in the area. This establishment offers a tasty lunch or dinner and cool, sweet custard for dessert. It truly has it all.
Best Place to Grab Pizza: Pullano’s Pizza and Wings and Sports Bar
13848 N. 51st Avenue Glendale, AZ 85306
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Fri.-Sun. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
This family-owned restaurant has been a staple at this location since 1987. Serving a wide variety of delicious Italian delicacies, Pullano’s is a great place to grab a slice of pizza, some wings and watch a game, as it serves as a sports bar too! Pullano’s Pizza and Wings will undoubtedly become a regular spot to get some delectable Italian grub after just one visit.