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Best Public Restrooms

Café Magritte
254 E. Congress St.

READERS' PICK: We suspect the changes at Café Magritte, 254 E. Congress St., may include the Bowler Room's fabulous restrooms--perfect places of repose and quirky, artful design that've been pueblo favorites for as long as we can remember. There's no telling how many desert denizens they've served over the years, but rumor has it that many a significant event has transpired within. Of course, we aren't telling, but we can testify to the intrigue, mystery, eroticism, elegance, and general potential for naughtiness that projected from the oh-so-spacious interiors behind doors No. 1, 2 and 3.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Playgirl pin-ups: an entire wall devoted to pink things...and brown things, and tan things, famous things, and...er...up and comers. A veritable cornucopia of genitalia is to be found amidst the fleshy decor in Pink-E's, 8640 E. Broadway Blvd. And while the ladies' room wall decorations establish "The Mood," its confines offer free primping products to achieve "The Look": extra-hold "pump-action" hair spray, and a colorful selection of heady Jovan musks, all suspended from the ceiling by chains. Everything a lady might need for an evening of indiscretion. And one of the best things about Pink-E's ladies' room is that the door is always open, giving the line of fellas waiting to use the men's room a full-on view of their pin-up competition. The only thing that could make Pink-E's facilities better would be if instead of the two-dimensional wall o' men, they offered a three-dimensional Can-O-Man (as featured on an episode of The Tick), in a variety of fun flavors. A girl can dream....

CLUE IN: There's nothing more annoying than enjoying a pleasant bike ride and having the increasingly persistent feeling of a loaded bladder. Bicycle seats do not carry such loads gently. Luckily for us, Tucson architect Les Wallach designed "Project Potty II," a lovely public facility on the west end of the Rillito River Park in which to enjoy the baser functions. One can void waste in the pleasant, purple-hued environment of ceramic tile, secure behind a sturdy wooden door, enjoying fresh air from the covered but open space above the throne. Though the bathroom is ostensibly for the benefit of park users, it's conveniently if not obviously located off River Road, so motorists can also enjoy this clean, brightly colored refuge. It sure beats the hell out of a pit toilet. Thanks, Les!

CLUE IN: Forget all those architecturally correct, oh-so-clever yet tasteful public restrooms in town. Especially forget those places with blow dryers. For an exhilarating experience when nature calls, second only to squatting in the woods, hold it until you get to the composting toilets at Molino Basin (Catalina Highway, Milepost 6). These are restrooms that citified toilets can only aspire to become. They're big and bold and very sturdy; being public and functional is their purpose. First, they don't use water; they compost. Second, you got yourself a damn fine view of the great outdoors. Third, there's a map of Mt. Lemmon and an educational display to read (in case you have to wait for someone). And fourth, since you've come all this way, you might as well enjoy a few minutes of serenity in Molino Basin before you get back to that computer.

Case History

1997 Winner: Café Magritte
1996 Winner: Café Magritte
1995 Winner: Tucson International Airport

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