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Best Southwestern Gifts 

Native Seeds/SEARCH

526 N. Fourth Ave.

STAFF PICK: If you're looking for a scorpion bola tie, you've come to the wrong place. What the Native Seeds/SEARCH retail outlet offers is even more loco than that, starting with bag after bag of beans ready for the stewpot. These beans draw their allure from their exoticism -- they're mostly Native American heirloom varieties -- as well as from their sheer beauty. Imagine running your fingers through the mottled maroon-and-white Anasazis or the vibrant purple Rio Zapes. It's tempting to forego eating them and instead decorate with the little beauties, layering them in attractive glass jars as if you were a Martha Stewart of the mesas. And just try to resist snuffing up the bagged chile powders, like the rich, golden Aji Amarillo. The shop displays even more wonders: whole dried chiles, posole, mesquite honey, inexpensive Tarahumara baskets and bowls, slightly higher-end Tohono O'odham baskets, handmade wooden spoons, Mayo/Yaqui Pascola dance masks, cookbooks and T-shirts (none of which say, "Where the hell is Tucson?"). If you want to grow your own goodies, this is the place to pick up a seed packet of Cochiti popcorn or Hopi red watermelon. While you're at it, you'll be supporting a nonprofit organization that valiantly preserves Native American crop seeds. You can go wild in this place; just don't forget to stop at the Food Conspiracy down the street and pick up a bottle of Beano.

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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