Best Dive Bar (2002)

Mecca Lounge

Requirements: Darkness. Wood wall coverings a plus; and a wood bar itself, better. A hard-to-define but present odor, either coming from the belly-up buddy next to you or the ancient, labyrinthine pipes also preferred.

Plus: a sense of history (in Phoenix, this means at least 25 years old). Draft beer, of maximum three flavors. A less than six-dollar pitcher. A cold-ass bottle of Bud for around two bucks. Affordable shots of your favorite amnesia. At least one pool table and one pinball game; shuffleboard and darts a bonus.

Finally, a jukebox featuring '70s rock, tear-in-my-beer country and eclectic oldies. And a good, take-no-shit bartender.

Mecca fills the bill. It's dark and smoky, old and wonderfully worn. The indoor/outdoor carpet was once burgundy, the patrons range from neighborhoody to weekend hipsters to indigent.

Having opened in 1933, it boasts the second-oldest continuous liquor license in the county. The paneled-cum-patchwork ceiling droops poetically in the right places, making the average Joe feel 10 feet tall. The bar has a seasick quality to it, seemingly designed by munchkins with a desire to add on, like a vortex house on the side of the highway.

And if you have to break the seal, the rest room features a green shower curtain tween urinal and toilet for moments of reflection.


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