Just because classes are about to begin doesn’t mean you’ll actually spend evenings at the library. Whether you're new to the Valley or just want to up your hip factor, we’ve assembled the places to be seen, score dorm duds, take a date and even save on school supplies. We’ve got your back.
Best first date on a budget
398 S. Mill Ave., No. 110, Tempe, (480) 968-9112, cafeboa.com (unbold)This romantic Italian bistro offers up delicious dishes (such as the tortellini, pictured) and a good selection of wines at reasonable by-the-glass prices.
Best first date on payday
House of Tricks
114 E. Seventh St., Tempe, (480) 968-1114, houseoftricks.com Tricks is the perfect date place with its extensive wine selection, top-notch food and romantic ambiance — complete with twinkle lights and candles.
1639 N. Scottsdale Road, Tempe, (480) 994-8787 At this all-vegetarian south Indian restaurant, 90 percent of the spicy dishes are vegan.
Best food on campus
Einstein Bros. Bagels
Memorial Union, Arizona State University, Tempe On-campus food is mostly unhealthy and overpriced. The only place to find a healthy option without blowing your beer money is Einstein Bros. Bagels (which also sports salads and sandwiches).
The Chuck Box
202 E. University Drive, Tempe, (480) 968-4712 A Tempe cornerstone, The Chuck Box grills your burger over a wood fire while you watch. The fried zucchini is also a must.
There are a few different delis around ASU vying for your sandwich dollar, but none is finer than this local chain, featuring yummy (and fun-to-say) menu items such as the Doozy, the Yahoo and the Dilly’s Dilly.
W. Warner Road, No. 14, Chandler, (480) 899-7191, shimogamoaz.com After searching the Valley for quality sushi, a local Japanese businessman gave up and opened his own sashimi spot. Don't be fooled by Shimogamo’s strip mall location. Inside it's hip and the sushi is delicious.
Best breakfast instead of class
College Street Deli
706 S. College Ave., Tempe, (480) 966-9254 Who really needs to go to those 100-level classes every day when College Street makes killer pancakes and omelets? Not us.
1020 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, (480) 966-4949 People talk too much and too loudly at Starbucks. Try this locally owned spot for a low-key lounge to study, join in a heated political debate or just kick back in the living room-styled joint.
Otto Pizza & Pastry
804 S. Ash Ave., Tempe, (480) 966-4292
This cozy family-owned joint makes a mean New York-style pie and has delicious cake on hand — just in case.
Best cheap lunch
It’s completely likely that you can scrounge up enough cash to cover lunch at Barro’s ($3.50 for two big slices and a soda) from loose change accumulated from a week’s worth of Starbucks trips.
Best cheap dinner
There’s barely anything on the menu that’s over eight bucks, and a lot of the fun, filling, healthy (and vegetarian-friendly) fare is as low as $4 (like the pita burrito or falafel sandwich).
Best post-drinking food
There are roughly as many 24-hour greasy Mexican restaurants in the East Valley as there are people, but this post-last call destination — which doesn’t use lard — is your best bet for sopping up a booze-filled gut.
Best place for a hangover breakfast
1021 W. University Drive, Tempe, (480) 829-9444 When you’re feeling gross after a beer-filled Saturday night, you need somewhere dim with greasy diner food. Harlow’s has it.
Mucho Gusto Taqueria Mexican Bistro
603 W. University Drive, Tempe, (480) 921-1850, muchogustomexicanbistro.com With both machaca and shrimp to die for, vegetarian options and a full bar, Mucho Gusto is worth the short walk from ASU.
Oregano’s pizza cookie
Multiple locations, oreganos.com
The cookie comes in white chocolate macadamia nut, chocolate chip, peanut butter or a mixture of the three with three big scoops of fresh vanilla bean ice cream atop the warm skillet cookie.
Best place to be seen
Casey Moore’s Oyster House
850 S. Ash Ave., Tempe, (480) 968-9935
Casey Moore’s is the “Cheers” of Tempe — there’s always someone to talk to at this Irish pub, known for the best patio drinking in the Valley.
Hottest female staff
4312 N. Brown Ave., Scottsdale, (480) 425-0111, mickeyshangover.com Offering a breath of fresh air in the Scottsdale club scene, the ladies of Mickey’s Hangover are girl-next-door hot. They’re sexy in just jeans and tank tops — or maybe even just their skivvies. Added bonus: They’re friendly.
Hottest male staff
7333 E. Indian Plaza, Scottsdale, (480) 970-6969, suedeaz.com One Get Out staffer calls these guys “droolable hot.” She’s right. They’re buff with coifed hair and offer great service.
Best dive bar
Palo Verde Lounge
1015 W. Broadway Road, Tempe, (480) 968-9221 Affectionately known as “The PV” to regulars, the Palo offers up an eclectic jukebox and cheap drinks — including $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon nights. It's dirty, dank and a short cab ride from ASU.
Bar where the cover is worth it
4282 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale, (480) 970-3325, e4-az.com With rooms named after the elements — earth, air, fire, water — the swanky club and lounge offers up something different for everyone. The see-and-be-seen spot is the first club in downtown Scottsdale to give Myst and Axis/Radius some competition.
Best hipster dance night
Shake! at The Rogue
423 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, (480) 947-3580, roguebar.com Smudge the eyeliner, grab a couple bucks for some PBR and hit this dance night. William (expletive) Reed spins indie rock, ’80s and occasional Danzig for those willing to dance on the stage.
Best place to spot a celeb
7340 E. Indian Plaza, Scottsdale, (480) 970-1112, axis-radius.com Celebrities, both local and from Hollywood, are known to hit this Scottsdale nightclub. This summer it hosted a celebrity night, Axis Hollywood, where celebs such as Nick Lachey and Tyrese hosted.
Four Peaks Brewery
1340 E. Eighth St., Tempe, (480) 303-9967, fourpeaks.com Support local beer by quaffing the tasty brews (including Hefeweizen, 8th Street Ale and an oatmeal stout) made fresh in Tempe. The food’s not bad, either.
3636 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, (480) 946-7258, saltysenorita.com Big, salty, delicious. The bartenders at the Salty Señorita know how to make a mean margarita. Keep ’em coming.
Best bar for body shots
Dos Gringos Trailer Park
1001 E. Eighth St., Tempe, (480) 968-7879, dosgringosaz.com Packed with sweaty ASU students in their skimpiest club get-ups, Dos Gringos is the place (within stumbling distance of the dorms) to find that sexy boy or girl to let you lick salt off them.
Best gay bar
7125 E. Fifth Ave., Scottsdale, (480) 945-9028, bswest.com Honestly, there’s a real lack of gay bars in the East Valley (most of the happening ones are in Phoenix), but there’s always this joint, located smack dab in downtown Scottsdale’s drinking (and arts) district.
Best movie theater
7001 E. Highland Ave., Scottsdale, (480) 947-8778, harkins.com This small theater nestled just north of Scottsdale Fashion Square shows new independent films such as “A Scanner Darkly.”
Best record store
Memorial Union, Arizona State University, Tempe, (480) 727-8733, hoodlumsmusic.com Hoodlums is on-campus, has a staff of music junkies, will order any CD — from Jay-Z to Cursed to Cute is What We Aim For — upon request and has a great discount program.
Best local music venue
The Modified Arts
407 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, (602) 462-5516, modified.org The Modified Arts is a place to feel music. When the crowd dances to bands such as The Necronauts, the floor shakes. The staff are volunteers, and local bands (and everyone else) are always made to feel at home.
Best venue for national bands
730 N. Mill Ave., Tempe, (480) 829-0707, luckymanonline.com Bands such as Flogging Molly, The Raconteurs and Converge grace the stage at this downtown Tempe venue. Downside: You’ll need to pay to park. Or just walk across the Mill Avenue bridge.
Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe, (480) 730-0205, changinghands.com This locally owned bookseller puts a literary smackdown on its big-box peers when it comes to selection (new and used books, plus hard-to-find magazines) and author signings (Christopher Moore, Allison DuBois and Chuck Klosterman).
Yucca Tap Room
29 W. Southern Ave., Tempe, (480) 967-4777, yuccatap.com Each Thursday, this infamous Tempe dive bar hosts your standard karaoke — then follows it up with “Rockaroke,” where you can sing along to any song the resident live band can figure out how to play.
Best live theater
ASU Prism Theatre
Arizona State University, Tempe
No need to venture off campus to experience wild, wonderful theater. ASU’s student production board is earning a reputation for daring and often hilarious shows and packed audiences. Bonus: The tickets are dirt cheap.
Best place to feel like a kid again
Amazing Jake's Pizza Factory
1830 E. Baseline Road, Mesa, (480) 926-7499, amazingjakes.com If your pride can take waiting in some lines with swarms of little kids, you’ll be rewarded with all-you-can-eat pizza, video games, skee ball, laser tag, go-karts, bumper cars and a host of other joyfully juvenile activities.
Best day trip
311 E. Congress St., Tucson, (520) 622-8848, hotelcongress.com/club/ This Tucson (put aside your UA rivalries) joint isn’t just a concert venue attracting the likes of Jenny Lewis, it’s also a hip bar, old-school hotel (the rooms don’t even have TVs!) and laid-back cafe.
Best weekend trip
Beach? Check. Surfing? Check. Shopping? Check. The best zoo in the U.S.? Oh, double check. Plus, you can fly round-trip for around $90 or drive there in five hours.
Best radio station
The Blaze (1260 AM)
ASU’s student-run radio station is perhaps the only station on the dial that offers a true alternative — music and genres that the corporate entities ignore. Yeah, the signal’s weak, but you can listen live on their Web site.
Best liquor store
403 W. University Drive, No. 104, (480) 967-5643 All your friends are in this ASU adjacent liquor store: Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Mickey and more. Oh, this place also supplies kegs for parties and Wild Turkey for those infamous Wild Turkey Wednesdays.
Best hiking spot
Usery Mountain Park
3939 N. Usery Pass Road, (480) 984-0032, maricopa.gov/parks/usery This alternative to often-crowded Camelback Mountain has a handful of great trails and isn’t too far from ASU.
Best comedy club
930 E. University Drive, Tempe, (480) 921-9877, tempeimprov.com The Improv snags the best in touring comedians. Jamie Kennedy, Richard Lewis and Joe Rogan were all on the stage this summer. The Young Americans Tour, featuring Mike Young, Butch Bradley, Sebastian Maniscalco and Steve Byrne, performs this weekend.
Best make-out spot
The Secret Garden
In the middle of Dixie-Gammage Hall, ASU, Tempe With big trees, colorful flowers and a lush lawn, this hidden garden is perfect for budding love. It’s somewhat secluded and chances are there are, at most, two other people in the large area.
Best place for water fun
Salt River Tubing
1320 N. Bush Highway, (480) 984-3305, saltrivertubing.com An ASU staple is tubing down the Salt River, which typically starts in May and runs into September. Start planning, folks, because it really is lots of fun.
Dolce Salon & Spa
3325 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, (480) 722-0500, dolcesalonspa.com Whether you want to be a trendsetter or just want some subtle highlights, the highly trained staff at Dolce will make it happen. Plus, it’s also a spa with amazing massages and facials.
Uni Hair & Nails
930 E. University Drive, No. 101, (480) 967-9920 Coupons for this nail salon can be found scattered around campus. The staff work quickly to get you in and out, and never require an appointment.
Best body piercing
HTC Body Piercing
808 S. Ash Ave., Tempe, (480) 784-4460, htcbodypiercing.com With more piercers certified by the Association of Professional Piercers than the rest of the state combined, HTC may be the safest piercing studio in the Valley.
1454 W. Main St., Mesa, (480) 668-4940, immaculatetattoo.com Immaculate has talented artists with solid reputations for quality work, especially when it comes to traditional, bold tattoo design.
101 and Chandler Blvd.
Not only does this mall have all the stores you would expect, it’s flanked by a movie theater, a Target, a Best Buy and several restaurants, effectively making it a retail utopia.
Best place for the basics
526 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, (480) 317-3000, americanapparel.net All the basic tees, dresses, hoodies and undies at this Los Angeles-based chain are guaranteed “sweatshop-free.”
Best place to score bargain threads
Sunset Clothing Xchange
1628 E. Southern Ave., Tempe, (480) 456-0308 sunsetclothingxchange.com Those looking for designer jeans — from True Religion to Paper Denim to Rock & Republic — need to hit up this fashionista heaven to score designer denim for $20 to $100.
Best alternative to the ASU bookstore
Student Book Center
704 S. College Ave., Tempe, (480) 966-6226 studentbookcenter.com For a great deal on textbooks and ASU merch (including Greek goods), hit up this alternative. The Book Center’s basement is stocked with new and used books for classes, and, generally, they cost less than at the “official” bookstore.
Best non-required reading
Ash Avenue Comics
810 S. Ash Ave., Tempe, (480) 858-9447
With comics spawning movies as diverse as “Sin City” and “Art School Confidential,” the geeky stigma they’ve always had is just about gone — so pop into this downtown Tempe shop to find the Valley’s best selection of graphic novels.
Best place for dorm decor
545 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, (480) 966-7250, urbanoutfitters.com The Mill Avenue store has chairs, lamps, rugs, bead curtains, coffee table books and pint glasses. Basically, a one-stop dorm shop.
Best place for dorm furniture
2110 W. IKEA Way, Tempe, (480) 785-8209, ikea-usa.com Score cool contemporary furniture (plus linens, curtains and bathroom accoutrements) for cheap at this Swedish chain.
Best grocery store to find a date in
Broadway and Rural roads, Tempe
Sure, this looks like your average grocery store. But don’t be fooled — this is known as the “Sexy Safeway,” where fetching young ASU singles often initiate a hot hook-up in the frozen food aisle.