Editor’s Note: No Rest for Best (of the Valley)

Craig OuthierJuly 9, 2021
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As we were putting the final touches on this behemoth Best of the Valley issue – 264 ever-loving pages, a new PHOENIX magazine record for anything not called Top Docs – a fellow editor kindly reminded me that it was my 10th BOV issue since starting at the magazine a decade ago.

In terms of professional milestones, it’s not exactly Michael Jordan scoring his 30,000th point, or Meryl Streep getting her 12th Oscar, but it speaks to a certain longevity. Put it this way: I’ve been around long enough to remember when Steve Nash, now retired, got the BOV readers’ choice award for Best Phoenix Sun. Then again, Postino won for Best Wine Bar in 2011, and Postino still wins for Best Wine Bar. So maybe things haven’t changed that much.

I also remember the cover image that first year I worked on BOV. We dressed up an attractive model as Charlie Chaplin, for reasons I couldn’t divine then and still don’t understand. Usually the cover telegraphs a concrete superlative: Best Burger, Best Taco, Best Napkin Holder Cast from a Body Part, etc. But what was she? Best attempt to mimic a Vanity Fair cover? I still don’t know.

Ten years later, we have newly acquired Arizona Cardinals sack monster J.J. Watt on the cover, which isn’t as hard to decode. We all know what he’s best at: harassing quarterbacks under double coverage, flexing his righteous biceps, etc.

One dilemma we always grapple with during BOV season: knowing when to stop. In trying to celebrate the full sweep of Valley culture – from dining to art to All-Pro defensive ends – it’s easy to get caught up in the manic momentum of it all and go overboard. That’s especially true this year, with 18 months of pent-up consumer energy waiting to be unleashed. So go overboard we did: 511 food recs, local products, resurrected music festivals and more, plus our annual Great 48 menagerie of excellent Phoenicians you should definitely know about, plus our annual Top Dentists list. (Not as fun as the others, that last one, but certainly useful.)

photo by Mirelle Ingelfield
photo by Mirelle Ingelfield

“So: That’s why this issue is as thick as a phone book. We feel like you might have the appetite for it this year.”

Whew. It was a spot of work, I’m not afraid to admit. And then we went and embellished it with a gang profile of Valley athletes vying to compete at the Tokyo Summer Olympics in July, plus writer Stephen Lemons’ grant-no-quarter “premature” oral history of the Arizona Senate’s election recount, plus all our usual dining, travel and entertainment coverage.

So: That’s why this issue is as thick as a phone book. We feel like you might have the appetite for it this year. That, and I guess we  never stopped trying to be Vanity Fair.


For more than 50 years, PHOENIX magazine's experienced writers, editors, and designers have captured all sides of the Valley with award-winning and insightful writing, and groundbreaking report and design. Our expository features, narratives, profiles, and investigative features keep our 385,000 readers in touch with the Valley's latest trends, events, personalities and places.