READERS' PICK: See Best Parent Company, page 105.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Coffee Etc., 2830 N. Campbell Ave.; 6091 N. Oracle Road; 1101 N. Wilmot Road. By far our favorite story about this Tucson institution comes from a recent high-school grad. She and her classmates were sweating out the upcoming AP calculus test, for which they could gain college credit. Their dedicated teacher, Mr. Paul Des Jarlais, was willing to help them study well above and beyond the normal classroom time, but he insisted that they meet in some central location, away from the school. To Coffee, Etc. they went. They took up two large tables, drank coffee and soda, and ate the supernaturally good fries for hours as they studied. The waitresses were cool all night long, bringing refills, taking away empty plates and asking how the studying was going. Everybody at the place was great, even when the entire group showed up the next night for one last cram session. Most places are going to sneer at a group of high-schoolers taking up table space for hours at a time, but not at Coffee, Etc. (Oh yeah, seven of the 12 passed the exam and got college credit. We never said that Mr. Des Jarlais and Coffee, Etc. were miracle workers, just good people.)
LOOSE CHANGE: Café Paraiso, 880 E. University Blvd. See Best Outdoor Seating, below.