Monthly Archives: June 2009

WEEKENDER: Fourth of July Edition

Weekend Events: July 3-5


Red, White and Bloom, at Ahwatukee Country Club: A fireworks show, food and drink and the The Ahwatukee Country Club.

Time: 9 PM

Admission: Free

Family Fun Day: “Wizard of Oz”, at Paradise Valley Mall: Family Fun Night features the 1939 film, “The Wizard of Oz.” There will also be a balloon artist and free carousel rides.

Time: 5:00 PM

Admission: Free

Light up the Sky, at Maryvale Baseball Park: Games, contests and refreshments leading up to a grand fireworks display.

Time: 5 PM- 9 PM

Admission: Free

The Joey Arroyo Band, at Marquee Theatre: Acoustic/rock quintet the Joey Arroyo Band headlines the Marquee Theatre for their new disk, “Joey Arroyo Is…The Storyteller.” The band has performed with Sara Bareilles, Ben Kenney, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers and Rocco Deluca. It’s like Love, Five High, Reynaldo Moreno and Lucky Edmund Band open the all-ages event.

Time: 6:30 PM

Admission: $12; $10 in advance

Piano Man- Tribute to Billy Joel and Elton John, at Skye: A multimedia tribute concert with the music of Billy Joel and Elton John performed by Terry Davies and his 11-piece band. Fans watch the live concert and video on a massive 28-foot screen.

Time: 7 PM

Admission: $10- $80


A Star Spangled Shoot out, at Rawhide at Wild Horse Pass: A Star Spangled Shoot Out at Rawhide features live music, face painting, a “best dressed” cowboy and cowgirl costume contest, performances by Rawhide’s own Rough Riders, good eats at the Steakhouse and Saloon and an amazing fireworks finale.

Time: 5:30 PM

Admission: Free

Fourth of July Festival, at Tempe Town Lake: This popular annual Fourth of July Festival has a free inflatable village for all ages plus tons of rides and rock climbing walls. There will also be face painters, relay races and live entertainment from the bands Telescope, Lil Debbie and Blue Plate Special, the Joey Arroyo Band and Calumet. Fireworks light up the sky from 9 -10 p.m. Attendees can bring one gallon of sealed water per person, blankets, portable chairs, personal cameras and umbrellas up to 48 inches. Pets are not permitted. Military admitted free with ID.

Time: 4- 11 PM

Admission: $15 for two at gate; $8 for individual at gate; $6 in advance; free for children 12 and under

7UP Fireworks Spectacular, at Tumbleweed Park: You can’t miss this free kids carnival, a bike parade, 35-foot water slide, rock-climbing wall and dunk tank. The Arizona Veteran Rodders Club will be showing more than 100 classic cars. The Cactus Bike Push, Pull, Peddle Bike Parade is held at 6 p.m. and features decorated bikes. The participant with the best-decorated bike wins a Harro children’s bike. Live music is played by Plastic Gladys at 6:30 p.m. and Panhead Ronnie at 8:30 p.m. The fireworks display begins at 9:30 p.m.

Time: 4 PM

Admission: $5 per vehicle

Fabulous Phoenix Fourth, at Steele Indian School Park: The Fabulous Phoenix Fourth features local entertainment beginning at 7 p.m. including a giant misting area, inflatable rides, a stage for kids, a classic car show, and a fireworks display. The Phoenix Fire Department is on-site to cool people down in the water spray zone.

Time: 6-8 PM

Admission: Free

Gilbert Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration, at Mesquite High School: Contests, games, inflatables, community exhibits, activities, rides will be in abundance at this celebration. Attendees may bring chairs, blankets and umbrellas. Pets, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, glass containers and weapons are not permitted. The fireworks display begins at 9 p.m.

Time: 4- 10:30 PM

Admission: free

Great American Barbecue, at Pacana Park: The Great American Barbecue features a hot dog eating contest, and the winner receives the first-ever Maricopa Hot Dog Eating Championship Cup. Kids can play in water activities and slides. A fireworks display concludes the evening. The hot dog eating contest is open to adults age 18 and older.

Time: 6- 10 PM

Admission: Free

RockHard ’09- Red, Ryche and Blue, at Skye: Independence Day rocks at Skye with RockHard ’09 – Red, Ryche and Blue. Tribute band the Ryche performs songs from rock band Queensryche and Free Will rocks out covering songs from Rush. All ages are welcome.

Time: 7:30 PM

Admission: $20- $100


JCC Scottsdale Firecracker Spring Triathlon and Duathlon, at Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center: These events feature an adult and youth triathlon, adult relay triathlon and adult duathlon. Awards are given to the top 5 individuals in each age and team category and all youth receive a ribbon for participation. An additional $5 is added for race day entries.

Time: 6:45 AM

Admission: $155 for relay team; $65 for adult individual; $59 for youth individual

Best of the Best Showcase, at The Comedy Spot Comedy Club: The top five local comedians take the stage. Hear a variety of fresh jokes, stories and acts from homegrown superstars.

Time: 7 PM

Admission: $10

Sunday Chamber Music: Musica Dolce, at Tempe Center for the Arts: Cynthia Baker, violin; Abra Comitz, gamba; Jodi Buckles, recorder; and Janet Green, krummhorn perform Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music evoking the spirit and pageantry of an age 500 years before Bach.

Time: 3 PM

Admission: $25

The 122nd Annual World’s Oldest Rodeo, at Prescott Rodeo Grounds:  When the bulls, the horses and the clowns come to town, you’ll want to see what’s kicking up all that dust. The World’s Oldest Rodeo is about top athletes competing for big dollars. It’s about broncos throwing their hooves any which way, bulls that are mad at the world and leather straps holding cowboys together.

Time: 1:30 PM

Admission: $12- $22

“Wait Until Dark”, at Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre: Don’t miss this eerie, spine-tingling drama. One thing stands between three dangerous con men and a fortune hidden inside a child’s doll: A blind woman named Susy Hendrix. What seems like an easy day’s work quickly turns into a gripping game of cat and mouse as the trio leads her on a dangerous path of deceit and murder. What they didn’t count on is that Susy has a game of her own as she turns her disability into her greatest weapon. This masterfully constructed thriller moves from one moment of suspense to another as it builds toward an electrifying, breath-stopping climax.

Time: 2 PM

Admission: $25/Day of Show, $22/Advance, $20/Seniors and Students, $17/Groups of 10 or more, $15/Student Rush

Phoenix Zoo and Giraffe Encounter

This is my hand.

Giraffe eating

My hand – what this lovely giraffe named Charlie Bell used for a breakfast plate. It’s part of the new Giraffe Encounter at the Phoenix Zoo, where every morning from 9 – 10 a.m., you can feed a giraffe either a pellet (for adults), or a piece of lettuce (for the kiddos).

For three dollars (and kids under 2 are free), you step right up and one of the professionals shows you exactly what to do. Notice the assistance I received.

Waiting there right before it opened, the giraffes intuitively made their way over to the Encounter deck, which is just a few feet lower than where their heads reach. They all start to get hungry for the goodness we are about to feed them, and each person feeds them once. My nephew fed the lettuce, and was surprised by the big black tongue!

nephew feeding giraffe

I think it’s a great way to get the kids and adults (let’s not kid ourselves) to get up close to some of the most magnificent animals. The area where you feed them also has ostrichs and tons of other animals in the safari area all together.

While you’re at the zoo, which Travel + Leisure named one of the top five in the country, check out these not-so-native animals:


It’s a very cool experience – literally. There are splash “caves” and water play areas everywhere, a lot of the exhibits are shaded by huge tropical trees, and the best part – there are SnoCones galore for sale throughout the zoo.

Just do me this favor – when you go, say hello to my near and dear friend, Charlie Bell.

Charlie Bell

Phoenix Zoo

455 N. Galvin Pkwy

Phoenix, AZ 85008

Frank and Lupes

I thought I had been everywhere in Old Town Scottsdale when I went to Frank and Lupes for the first time a few years ago. After all, I grew up in Scottsdale and Phoenix, and I was no stranger to any of the great restaurants in the area, particularly the Mexican ones.

But tucked away in this little corner, between the art galleries and shops in Old Town, is the place you’ve been looking for. Ambiguous signs wind you around to a patio shaded by the architecture around it, always with a lively but relaxed crowd, colorful ambiance and amazing Mexican food (and margs) being ushered around quickly to the thirsty gringos.

You start here:

Frank and Lupes sign

Wind around here:

Frank and Lupes sign 2

Go straight here:

Frank and Lupes hallway

And end up here. This is where the goodness lies.

Frank and Lupes patio

I love the laid-back vibe with the good food. This is the one Mexican place I can rely on for authentic, tasty food that isn’t always bad for you. Don’t get me wrong – you want the fried chimis or delicious flan, you go for it, but it’s all created from the best ingredients. White-meat chicken, no-lard beans, ripe veggies – it’s all super-fresh, adding to the I-love-this-place feeling.

Fajita Burrito

Fajita Burrito

Chicken Mole

Chicken Mole

This is the place the locals love to love too, and the wait isn’t usually too long, but go earlier for your pick of tables. Then take a walk afterwards around Old Town to stretch your legs. The Phoenix area has a lot of fantastic Mexican places, and Frank and Lupes is always at the top of the list.

4121 N Marshall Way

Scottsdale, AZ

(480) 990-9844



So many boutiques offer great shopping here in the Phoenix area, especially for clothing and home goods. Everything from vintage to edgy-urban is represented very well here in P-town. But my favorite places are the little shops where you don’t go in looking for anything, and you find more than your heart’s content.

frances vintage (non-caps on purpose) is this great place that is my go-to for greeting cards, t-shirts (check out my fave one below, for obvious reasons), and perfect gifts for everything. Half the store is clothes, jewelry, accessories, and the other half is home and gift stuff, including an entire baby section, kitchen/home, books, etc. Another thing you should know – they sell those TOMS shoes (the ones from the AT&T commercial).

inside frances

"Trees" of jewelry at frances

"Trees" of jewelry at frances

home items at frances

My favorite t-shirt

My favorite t-shirt

It’s located on Central & Camelback, next to Stinkweeds and Red Hot Robot, and is open Mon – Sat, 10am- 6pm (meaning there’s time to go after work for us downtown-ers), and open Sunday 12 – 5pm.

See their great website at and stop in! BTW -it’s right on the light rail.

10 w Camelback Road

Phoenix, AZ 85015



Every time I walk into Durant’s, I think of the opening line of John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row, which goes like this: “Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.”

Durant’s, of course, is not in Monterey — it’s on Central Avenue in Phoenix, and has been since 1950. And unless freshly sliced prime rib or clinking cocktail glasses offends your sensibilities, it certainly does not stink or grate the ears. But, on a purely sensory level, there is something literary about the place.

Durant’s is an old hardback novel. Durant’s is a car with fins. Durant’s is your grandfather’s cologne. Durant’s is a place where the walls retain the memory of cigarette smoke and lies, and the tablecloths are as stiff and white as papal robes. Durant’s patrons are movers and shakers, regulars and lifers. Even first-timers to Durant’s seem to have an eye for history and a story to tell.

Put simply: Durant’s is the Cannery Row of Phoenix dining.

IMG_8048The namesake of Durant’s is Jack Durant. In Phoenix’s pantheon of colorful characters, he falls in right behind Jack Swilling and Jacob Waltz and Barry Goldwater. Google him. You’ll learn he was a gambler, a gangster, a drinker, a grandpa with a gold heart. You’ll read that he loved his dogs more than his wives, that his taste in décor was influenced by bordellos, that one of Phoenix’s most notorious murders was planned in his bar.

Jack Durant died in 1987, and I don’t know the real man from the legend. (Though I’m pretty sure he would detest the idea of being Googled.) I do know, however, what Jack Durant left behind: a classic American steakhouse.

This is old news for the beef-eating lawyers and lobbyists who convene at Durant’s for lunch and happy hour, and for the playwrights and reporters who linger until closing time. But for a new generation of journalism students and light-rail riders, Durant’s stands to be a revelation.

IMG_8042On a recent Saturday night I encountered a hipster couple at the bar who wondered aloud about the difference between an apertif and a digestif, then left without finishing their martinis. I have a feeling Mr. Durant’s English bulldog, Humble, would have growled at them were he still prowling the bar instead of hanging on the wall, immortalized in oil paint.

IMG_8268College students and cool kids should know that Durant’s ain’t cheap. You could buy a year’s worth of Top Ramen for what it costs to order dinner for two. Expect to pay $49 for a filet mignon, $72 for a porterhouse and $32 for crab cakes. For those of us not impervious to the recession, splitting a shrimp cocktail or a late-night dessert at the bar is a more reasonable option. (I’m a fan of the simple-yet-sublime vanilla ice cream with fresh berries.)

And here’s a memo to light-rail riders: I know the trains drop you off on Central Avenue, but if you use the restaurant’s streetside entrance, you’ll miss out on the true Durant’s experience. Instead, walk around to the valet stand in the rear parking lot, then follow the red mats through the kitchen to the dining room. For a few seconds, as the cooks and wait staff issue greetings over the din of sizzling meat and clattering kitchenware, you’ll feel like you’re the star of that long tracking shot in Goodfellas.

IMG_8101Once inside, request a booth. They’re covered in wine-colored vinyl and set against red-flocked wallpaper. They’re also shaped like capital “C’s,” which might make you feel like you need to close a deal or engage in a game of footsie, depending on your dining companion.

When it’s time to order, go big. Eat like a gangster. Every entrée is as monumental as Jack Durant’s backstory, but I recommend something old-schoolish like the Delmonico steak or prime rib — you know, something with a little fat on it. And don’t be shy about asking for seconds of Durant’s famous bread, which comes drenched in butter and garlic and crowned with minced basil and leeks.

Jack Durant’s motto was this: “In my humble opinion, good friends, great steaks and the best booze are the necessities of life.” I don’t know if you’ve ever read Cannery Row, but let me tell you: That little novel’s cast of characters would have loved Jack Durant and the poetic, nostalgic, habit-forming restaurant he gave Phoenix.



Qcumberz sign

I prefer not to call it “old” or “antique” but instead I like “pre-loved.”

Qcumberz finds the best of pre-loved pieces, and knowing each is hungry for attention, sells them to a new home. It’s not donation junk, it’s not giveaway items, it’s like the very very best garage sale you’ve ever been to. They have great furniture all over the place, but I look there for some of the best home accessories.

They have really cool old relics like record players, old cameras, old typewriters, fans from the 1940s, lamps, trunks, suitcases, everything. They also take pieces from buildings demolished on the East Coast, including old doors, windows, sinks (really), and my favorite, old metal ceiling tiles with those great patterns on them.

Qcumberz camera

Qcumberz typewriter

I told you - there are sinks!

I told you - there are sinks!

It will take some time to get through, so give yourself a good half hour to go through the place. It’s on 7th Avenue in Phoenix, right in the heart of other shops like Melrose Vintage, Hollywood Regency, Figs and more. The people are so very nice there, too, and if you’re looking for something special, they’re happy to help out.


4429 N 7th Ave

Phoenix, AZ 85013

Rowdy Boutique



When I hear the word “rowdy” (which is not a lot as an adult), it conjures up the feeling of fun, wild, play, and energy. Nevermind that it’s also a fun word to say.

So when Rowdy Boutique opened on 7th Street and Highland in Phoenix a few years back, I knew I could not stop myself from checking it out. It measures up to all the “Rowdy” implications, and I’ve been a loyal fan ever since.

Rowdy Boutique front

One of the things I like about the most about this great shop, they carry local lines and hand-picked items from national brands,  and they have a lot of stock that rotates frequently, so there is always something new (…that I swoon over). The jean selection is vast, and the Rowdy gals are more than happy to help you find a brand and fit that work, and it helps to have an honest opinion in a store owner.

Rowdy is owned by two local gals that wanted to sell clothes they couldn’t find anywhere else, and from the looks of it, many others share their taste. It’s nicely laid out, open space with room to browse, in an energetic atmosphere. The best part are the prices – extremely reasonable, often less expensive than comparable clothing in a mall or big-box store. 

 Rowdy store

I’ve told all my friends about Rowdy, and yes, dear readers, that means you, now, too. Check it out – it’s on 7th Street next to Urban Cookies (which means you can’t go wrong). 

4717 N 7th St # 1 Phoenix, AZ 85014

 (602) 277-0510

Phoenix City Grille

Years ago, my then-boyfriend now-husband asked me to go to “PCG.”  All I knew was that they had great food and that’s all I need to hear. I was thrown off when we pulled into this interesting shopping center on 16th Street and Bethany Home Road (right across from where Luci’s Healthy Marketplace is now), but realized very quickly that the exterior is really completely unrelated to the interior.

Phoenix City Grille

I immediately fell in love with the “classy” Southwest feel, the calming green walls, beautiful artwork, wood tables with character, and an extremely attentive staff. The menu was even more impressive, and every single time I go I start with the bacon-wrapped shrimp stuffed with cojita cheese, and from there it’s a toss-up. Usually I get the Rose Lane chicken, with all these herbs, which comes with horseradish mashed potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus in a jus that is amazing, or I get the pork tenderloin with jalapeno preserves, with these delicious goat cheese cakes and veggies. I am a big fan of the burger, too, and my husband always, always, always gets the jambalaya, which amongst seafood and spices also has Schreiner’s sausage, a local sausage company that provides meat to the best restaurants. 


PCG Jumbalaya - delicious food, bad photo of mine

PCG Jumbalaya - delicious food, bad photo of mine



But this I will tell you – do not leave until you have the buttermilk pie. I know, some of you might be a little scared, but I am telling you that it is the best thing you will ever have for dessert. The caramel sauce with it helps too, but it’s so good that I get it for my birthday every year.  It’s amazing. Go, go, go!

5816 N 16th Street

Phoenix, AZ 85016