If your idea of going out centers around your competitive edge, there are plenty of spots downtown where you can get your game on. The new Vig Fillmore offers free bocce courts and plenty of craft cocktails (named after downtown neighborhoods) for a more upscale gaming experience. However, if you're looking to take out pent-up frustration, you can try your hand at boxing in the ring on Sunday mornings at The Duce. If that's too aggressive for your tastes, the bar offers friendlier free, nightly competition by way of ping-pong, corn hole, shuffleboard, and foosball. For a more classic bar gaming experience, head to Rose & Crown English Pub, where billiards is the name of the game. Though the pub no longer has a dartboard, you can flex your mental muscles during the team trivia on Wednesday nights beginning at 7 p.m.
Vig Fillmore: 606 N. 4th Ave., 602-254-2242 www.thevig.us
The Duce: 525 S. Central Ave., 602-866-3823, www.theducephx.com
Rose & Crown English Pub: 628 E. Adams St. 602-256-0223, www.theroseandcrownaz.com
If you think Phoenix has no culture, you haven't been to one of the small theaters around town. Some of the town's up-and-comers can be seen at the nonprofit Space 55, which hosts everything from underground plays to musical variety shows. The theater focuses on exposing new acts, while also making attending stage productions more affordable and accessible. If you're in it for the improv, though, Torch Theatre is the place for you. This community-centric theater specializes in all things off the cuff, giving a unique look into the creative process that other theater experiences just don't have. Finally, the historic Phoenix Theater, located just east of the Phoenix Art Museum off McDowell Road and Central Avenue, is the perfect place to spot rising stars in the theater world on stage or behind the scenes. The theater just opened a state-of-the-art black box venue.
Space 55: 636 E. Pierce St., 602-663-4032, www.space55.org
Torch Theatre: 4721 N. Central Ave., 602-456-2876, www.thetorchtheatre.com
Phoenix Theatre: 100 E. McDowell Road, 602-254-2151, www.phoenixtheatre.com
Quick PHX: Your Pocket Guide to Phoenix: Party
Phoenix's movers and shakers know where to get down in town, and downtown is where it's at for getting your groove on. Hidden House Cocktail Lounge is one such place, with a reputation for playing great hip-hop and serving cheap drinks. In North Phoenix, Apollo's Lounge is a must-stop for hipsters looking to shake a leg to their favorite indie jams. That's because Apollo's is home to Tongue Tied, which has played with themes such as an arcade-themed Arcade Fire dance party. If you're craving a darker dance experience, Monarch Theatre, located in the heart of downtown next door to fellow dance clubs Bar Smith and Sky Lounge, is the gothy, industrial place for you. Just be sure to wear your blackest blacks and tightest vinyl, otherwise you probably won't fit in with the cool kids jamming on EDM, live music, and the occasional fashion show.
Hidden House Cocktail Lounge: 607 W. Osborn Road, 602-279-0170, www.facebook.com/thehiddenhousephx
Apollo's Lounge: 5749 N. 7th St., 602-277-9373, www.apollos.com
Monarch Theatre: 122 E. Washington St., 602-456-1991, www.monarchtheatre.com
If your idea of a good time centers on music, there are plenty of bars and venues for watching live music, discovering classics in a great old jukebox, or listening to a vinyl-spinning DJ. Char's Has the Blues is a good place to get soul in your life. While the dancing at Char's is just as good as any of the dance clubs mentioned, the music played, both live and recorded, makes it a prime destination for music nerds. If you're itching to catch a solid blues act or see up-and-coming acts before they blow up, Rhythm Room is the venue to check out. You also can take the stage yourself if you've got the pipes to match your courage by going to Kobalt for karaoke. While you're there, you can catch live drag shows and big-screen airings of RuPaul's Drag Race.
Char's Has the Blues: 4631 N. 7th Ave., 602-230-0205, www.charshastheblues.com Rhythm Room: 1019 E. Indian School Road, 602-265-4842, www.rhythmroom.com
Kobalt: 3110 N. Central Ave., #125, 602-264-5307, www.kobaltbarphoenix.com
Maybe you've had a busy week. Maybe all you're looking to do is get a drink and relax. That's okay. In fact, neighborhood hangouts like Main Ingredient Ale House cater to low-key folk like you who are still looking to get out of the house. With an impressive, ever-changing craft beer offering and a large patio with little fire pits, it's easy to lose track of time at Main Ingredient and end up there until it closes. The Lost Leaf, right off Roosevelt Row, is another great spot for craft beer lovers to unwind. Usually buzzing with regulars, the beer- and wine-only bar also features live music ranging from punk to jazz to indie favorite Wooden Indian every Thursday. If you want a good strong classic cocktail to accompany your calm, Hanny's combines casual with upscale, all in the trappings of an old department store. Best part, all of the upholstered benches in Hanny's are made to recline.
Main Ingredient Ale House: 2337 N. 7th St. 602-843-6246, www.tmialehouse.com
Lost Leaf: 914 N. 5th St., 602-258-0014, www.thelostleaf.org
Hanny's: 40 N. 1st St., 602-252-2285, www.hannys.net
You'd think after three years of FilmBar showing movies and slinging drinks, the novelty would have worn off. But you'd be wrong. With screenings of new indie movies, some classics, limited-release documentaries, locally produced flicks, sport screenings, and one-of-a-kind performances, FilmBar, on Second Street just south of Roosevelt, offers Phoenix's cinema geeks something made and otherwise unavailable at other theaters — and we're not just talking about the beer. For higher-energy nights, FilmBar also hosts world music DJ sets from DJentrification and more.
815 N. 2nd St., 602-595-9187, www.thefilmbarphx.com
Although Crescent Ballroom is an obvious choice for a great live concert, the two-year-old venue also serves up inventive DJ nights in a wide range of styles. Old-school hip-hop and R&B, funk and soul, and Sean Watson's Kismet have become staples for downtown dancers. However, occasional treats like the Prince vs. Michael Jackson DJ night and costume contest as well as the One More Time: Daft Punk Tribute nights have both sold out in the past, likely due to their uniqueness. Other dance options in the past at Crescent have included disco, rock classics, and world music.
308 N. 2nd Ave., 602-716-2222, www.crescentphx.com
So you like New Order and Joy Division and you can't stand the thought of dancing to the Top 40 nonsense played at other clubs. Well, then, the delightfully divey Rips Bar on 16th Street north of Thomas Road is the place for you to party. Though you may feel out of place if you haven't gotten your rockabilly look on lock, you'll forget all about it after a few cheap beers. If you're at Rips on Tuesday night, you'll have the opportunity to sing your heart out on stage for the weekly karaoke night.
3045 N. 16th St., 602-266-0015, www.ripsbar.weebly.com
Located on the roof of Hotel Palomar right in the middle of downtown, Lustre Bar is everything Phoenix needs in a bar. Craft cocktails and a chic atmosphere make Lustre a fun stop if you're looking to impress, and in the summer months, you just can't beat a Lustre pool party. The events, featuring bikini-clad partiers and DJs, offer a hip way to cool off in the summer. Best of all, Lustre Bar also occasionally offers free yoga classes to help you recover from the fun you had there the previous night.
2 E. Jefferson St., 480-478-1765, www.lustrerooftopgarden.com
At Carly's, having fun doesn't have to mean dressing in fancy duds and strutting around like you're on a catwalk. It could mean going to Nerd Nite, a compilation of seminars, discussions, presentations, and games focused on a certain topic like space or comic books that changes every time. The event, combined with Carly's killer Moscow Mules, is a great alternative for folks looking to meet like-minded geeks in a judgment-free environment.
128 E. Roosevelt St., 602-262-2759, www.carlysbistro.com
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Top-notch coffees, housemade pastries, and tasty breakfast and lunch dishes make Daniel Wayne's cozy Roosevelt Row java shop one of downtown's best.
1001 N. 3rd Ave., 602-252-2265, www.lolacoffeebar.com
A coffee and tea shop, cafe, and wine bar with heart, this charitable spot donates a portion of its proceeds to other nonprofit services in the Valley.
4727 N. 7th Ave., 602-265-1795, www.therefugeaz.com
Modern vintage cool meets impeccable coffees, cocktails, and a small, ever-changing menu of comfort food at this hotspot on Central Avenue popular with the see-and-be-seen crowd.
4402 N. Central Ave., 602-327-1396, www.luxcoffee.com