Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2001


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Best Of :: Bars & Clubs

Best Place To Smoke A Cigar

Dark and sultry like a Sinatra song, the Famous Door practically beckons you to pull up a barstool and blow smoke rings toward the bass player. Cigar smoking is almost expected in every dark corner of this swank supper club, with waiters ready to serve -- alongside a chilly martini -- almost any cigar brand you can name. Stogies are burning at the dinner table, at the bar, and all around the jazz performers who play in a haze every night after 8 p.m. Instead of a quiet, smoke-filled cigar room, the Famous Door makes its entire establishment a pseudo-cigar bar.

Added extras like a reverse happy hour every Thursday from 11 p.m. to midnight and a Sunday night jazz workshop have made the Famous Door a happening hangout for the have-a-Havana crowd -- for men both young and old and a surprising number of women.

Readers' Choices

Best Bar Food
Native New Yorker
several Valley locations

Best Bar For Conversation
Merc Bar
2501 East Camelback

Best Bar To Be Seen
7316 East Stetson, Scottsdale

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

Best Beer Selection
Timber Wolf Pub
740 East Apache, Tempe

Best Brew Pub
Four Peaks Brewing Company
1340 East Eighth Street, Tempe

Best English Pub
George and Dragon English Restaurant and Pub
4240 North Central

Best Gay Bar
710 North Central

Best Lesbian Bar
Ain't Nobody's Bizness
3031 East Indian School

Best Martini
Martini Ranch
7295 East Stetson, Scottsdale

Best Pool Hall
Pink E's
3227 East Bell
and 93 East Southern, Tempe

Best Cigar Bar
The Famous Door
7419 East Indian Plaza, Scottsdale

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

Best Place To Smoke A Cigar: The Famous Door


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