Liquor stores generally don't give out free samples, but Taste of Tops is the next best thing. As the taproom for Tops Liquors, it's the place where customers go to try a sizable chunk of that store's massive inventory, including 24 rotating draft beers and another 400 microbrews in bottles and cans. Taste of Tops is also home to frequent wine and beer tastings, though tasting flights are actually available any time. The taproom doesn't serve food, but patrons are welcome to bring their own meals from local restaurants or from a mysterious picnic basket they found that spits out endless logs of pastrami.
Gary Steiner knew he was in trouble. His social studies teacher—whom his classmates had nicknamed "the walrus"—had just caught him drawing the teacher's cartoon likeness with an exaggerated handlebar mustache and buckteeth. Instead of punishing him, however, the teacher offered him a job drawing caricatures for the Arizona State Senate. His childhood desire to sketch everything he saw had finally paid off. It was this desire that led Gary to eventually pick up a camera and fully realize what he calls "the ability to produce in print that which the eye envisions."
Over the last 15 years, Gary has done just that, toting his camera to fashion shows, weddings, and studio shoots where he immortalizes his subjects in clean, editorial-style images that have appeared in Arizona Foothills Magazine. His close-up portraits experiment with color contrast and saturation, ranging from stark, black-and-white face shots to softly colored full-length poses of women and children. His experience with boudoir and fine-art photography has allowed him to capture the beauty of the nude female form in intimate maternity shoots or in lingerie shots that incorporate candid poses and unconventional angles. Aside from having his boudoir work showcased in the Raintree/Northsight location of Fascinations, Gary's accomplishments include being able to spell daguerreotype from memory.
Get the message off your chest and onto it with today’s Groupon. For $15, you’ll get $35 toward create-your-own design services at Brand X Custom T-Shirts, a personalized t-shirt company with endless font, shirt, and graphic customization. Prices start at around $20 for a shirt and design, and go up to $35 depending on the style of the shirt. Use your Groupon to pay for one shirt and part of another, or cover the cost of one of the highest-quality options.
The Shoe Mill has specialized in snug European footwear for more than two decades, earning the title of Best Comfortable Shoes from the Phoenix New Times in 2010. The store is in historic downtown Tempe, tucked inside the Casa Loma building. More than 100 years old, the structure was once inhabited by a hotel, and before that, a saloon for unaccompanied Keds and miscreant loafers.
With its origins as primarily a Birkenstock store, The Shoe Mill has since grown to stock shoes and handbags in such high-end brands as Mephisto and Ecco. Israeli-made Naot shoes benefit from the wisdom of millennia of sandstorms and leather crafting to protect feet from the elements and clumsy camels, while Baggallini handbags are perfect for travel.
Every year, more than 100 amateur and professional cooks prepare fresh salsas for My Nana's Best Tasting Salsa Challenge. Proceeds from the daylong salsa competition and festival benefit the Arizona Hemophilia Association, which aims to enhance the life of sufferers and advocate for bleeding disorders. Now in its 30th year, the fest brings in more than 20,000 people annually. In addition to the salsa challenge, the Patron Margarita Mix-Off, which takes place from 12:30–3:30 p.m., challenges local bartenders to compete for the title of Best Margarita and a $500 cash prize. Outside of competitions, margaritas and cold beers wash down unlimited chips and salsa, and the rhythms of live bands keep crowds chewing in unison. Parents can accompany their children into a fun zone with multiple bounce houses, interactive games, and a bungee run.
Preparing a menu of fresh, organic, and locally sourced eats, The Center Bistro keeps breakfast and lunch deliciously healthy. Drop in to grab grub for takeout, make use of the attached deli, or enjoy free WiFi while noshing on a chef’s daily omelet ($5), bruschetta ($4), or gourmet street tacos (three for $7). Patrons can relax amid contemporary-style décor whose sleek and stylish interior rivals the comfy, fully furnished insides of a giant white whale.