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Best Of :: Bars & Clubs

Best Hip-hop Night

Gosh and Begorrah, isn't this where you'd expect to find great hip-hop? At a strip-mall hangout with an Irish name on the west side of town? O'Mally's has long juggled its two identities: sports bar by day, dance club by night, shifting musical genres depending on the day of the week. A year ago, O'Mally's gave hip-hop a shot on Tuesday nights, and the results have been explosive. The Tuesday night freestyle contests -- in front of packed, hyped-up crowds that form circles around the competitors -- have been so fierce that at least one freestyler had to be carried out of the place when he took umbrage at a rival diss. And the club has become home to Kitch Kitchen, probably the Valley's most charismatic MC and surely the best rapper ever to play point guard for ASU's women's basketball team.

Readers' Choices

Best Bar Food
Native New Yorker
several Valley locations

Best Bar For Conversation
Merc Bar
2501 East Camelback
602-508-9449

Best Bar To Be Seen
Six
7316 East Stetson, Scottsdale
480-703-3383

Best Bar To Watch The Game
Goldie's Neighborhood Sports Cafe
10135 East Via Linda, Scottsdale
480-451-6269

Best Beer Selection
Timber Wolf Pub
740 East Apache, Tempe
480-517-9383

Best Brew Pub
Four Peaks Brewing Company
1340 East Eighth Street, Tempe
480-303-9967

Best English Pub
George and Dragon English Restaurant and Pub
4240 North Central
602-241-0018

Best Gay Bar
Crowbar
710 North Central
602-258-8343

Best Lesbian Bar
Ain't Nobody's Bizness
3031 East Indian School
602-224-9977

Best Martini
Martini Ranch
7295 East Stetson, Scottsdale
480-970-0500

Best Pool Hall
Pink E's
3227 East Bell
602-482-8350
and 93 East Southern, Tempe
480-829-1822

Best Cigar Bar
The Famous Door
7419 East Indian Plaza, Scottsdale
480-970-1945

Best Bar For Conversation

With its cushy, '40s-era floral-print-upholstered furniture arranged into intimate clusters, its warm amber lighting, and its generous cocktails, the Royal Palms bar is the most inviting place in town to go when your focus is on the person -- or people -- you came with. There's no dancing, and there's no "scene," although the people-watching isn't bad. The pianist supplies a soundtrack for that evening that's spirited but not noisy, so there's no need to shout over his arpeggios. And consider yourself lucky to snag the highly desirable little room to the left of the bar, the one with the cozy couches arranged around a roaring fireplace. This elegant spot, like the rest of the small bar, offers atmosphere in spades.

Best Sports Bar

Don't dismiss McDuffy's just because it's popular and smack dab in the weekend chaos that is Mill Avenue (next to the Bash on Ash). Be wary only if you have a phobia involving multiple TV screens. (McDuffy's has 77 screens featuring every imaginable sports event on the planet.) The vibe is comfortable and festive, the beer selection is ample, and the chicken fingers are licking good. McDuffy's is the ultimate haven for Valleyites who can't get enough athletic support at home.

Best Pool Hall

The bar is almost an afterthought at Pink E's; there's no question the place is all about billiards. In the middle of a shopping mall, with darkened windows and grunge music pounding inside, Pink E's draws a young bar crowd looking for that old-time pool hall atmosphere. More than 60 pink-and-green pool tables circle the bar, but the action is in the outer ring of tables, which are packed so close together you're likely to jab a neighboring player before the night is over. Some customers complain that a few tables lean to one side, but the pool sticks are relatively new, and the atmosphere is relentlessly hip. Slide three quarters onto a table, and you're in; Mondays and Tuesdays are free pool nights, with pool sticks renting for a mere $2 each. You won't have to wrestle for space with snooty professional players or wait in line behind a local tournament.

Best Place To Wait A Long Time For A Table
Bar Bianco

If there's going to be a long, long wait for a table -- and Pizzeria Bianco still packs them in on any night of the week, so that's a given -- then the time might as well be spent in the comfortable confines of the little building next door known as Bar Bianco. Housed in an early 20th century bungalow, this lovely wine bar's selection is short and sophisticated, and the mood manages to be at once chic and relaxed. Imagine being invited to a small party thrown by an elegant, gracious friend whose greatest concern is your comfort. (Okay, we don't know anybody like that either, but here's a good place to pretend.) There's no straining to hear your name called, and certainly no vibrating pagers; they'll just call the bartender from next door when they're ready for you. After sinking into an armchair for a while, it's easy to forget that you came here just to kill some time.

609 E. Adams St., Phoenix, 85004
MAP
602-528-3699
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Best Hip-hop Night: O'Mally's Sports, Spirits and Grill

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