PHOENIX Magazine Editors’ Picks for August/September 2023
Something to Eat
“Don’t even try to get into Cocina Chiwas without a reservation,” cautions food critic Nikki Buchanan in her review of the always-packed new restaurant from culinary power couple Armando Hernandez and Nadia Holguin. Best known for the Tacos Chiwas taqueria empire, the restaurateurs forge a somewhat more aspirational, fusion-driven path with this Tempe gastro-lounge, Buchanan writes: “Tacos do not figure prominently, while a separate menu offers daily specials [and] foodie bait such as bone marrow and a market-price 28-day, dry-aged tomahawk.” She loved almost all of it, lavishing special praise on “delicate heirloom blue corn empanadas, stuffed with chorizo, potato and queso Menonita” and open-face quesadillas, “liberally strewn with juicy shreds of beef birria, white onion and cilantro.” Find the full review and more Valley dining content in PHOENIX mag’s Eat Beat section.
Something to Do
Best of the Valley
The Valley’s wellspring of cultural diversions—festivals, the arts, fitness, et al.—has never been deeper or more diverse, as our intrepid staffers and freelancers prove in this year’s Best of the Valley cover story. The Things to Do section alone is chockablock with ideas for yearlong merriment, from adult ballet courses at The School at Ballet Arizona to the New Orleans-style burlesque show Spellbound at Grey Hen Rx. Find the Best Karaoke bars in each corner of the Valley, have bottomless mimosas with local legend Barbra Seville at the Best Drag Brunch and hit the Best Place to See a Punk Band, The Nile Theater. Looking for the best family-focused fun? Check out Free Art Fridays at the Edna Vihel Arts Center, the Fiesta Bowl PLAY addition to Hance Park and the i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa. These are just a few of the delights in this compendium of cool stuff, which spotlights 561 of our favorite people, places and things in the Phoenix metro.
Someone to Know
“Sports parents are insane, and I am one of them,” Teresa Strasser laughs. The bestselling author and former host of “The List” lets managing editor Leah LeMoine peek into her “baseball-mom bag” in our “What’s in your…?” column, which closes out the issue on a fun, visual and gently voyeuristic note. Among her discussion of water bottles, sugar-free Wint-O-Green Lifesavers and first aid kits, Strasser opens up about her latest book. “Making It Home: Life Lessons from a Season of Little League” (Penguin Random House, $18) chronicles her and her father’s journey processing the loss of her brother while watching her son’s Arcadia Little League practices and games. “I’m worried people will think that this book is too grief-y,” she says. “It oscillates between sadness and baseball. And when you’re grieving, you need that—you need breaks from it. Baseball was our support group.”
Somewhere to Go
Oak Creek Canyon
Though not quite the “monster of spectacle and dimension that its counterpart to the north is known to be,” Oak Creek compares favorably to the Grand Canyon in several ways, writes editor-in-chief Craig Outhier in his slavishly researched ode to the mythic river gorge north of Sedona. “You’ll find richer biodiversity than the Grand Canyon and just-as-improbable medleys of stone, water and plants,” he writes. “It all goes well beyond Slide Rock State Park, its most popular and trafficked feature. It’s the sum of the thing.” Fashioning his travelogue into a “personality profile” of sorts, Outhier tells the geological origin story of the canyon and interviews the chefs, yogis, hoteliers and other present-day habitués who prize its riches. Find it all in “Interview With a Canyon,” along with travel tips and a map of prime viewing spots.