Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2004

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Best Of :: Bars & Clubs

BEST DIVE BAR
Bikini Lounge

The Bikini Lounge is the kind of watering hole Charles Bukowski would have immortalized in poem or Jack Kerouac would have lived across from while banging out On the Road. A place where the beer is cheap and the chicks are extra-friendly. The sort of taproom where you can meet anyone from a teamster to a mad artist to a street philosopher all in as much time as it takes you to amble the length of the lounge. This is especially true on First Fridays, with all roads leading to this 57-year-old tiki tavern with its regulation pool table, jukebox, and grass-skirted wahine painting hanging behind the bar. There's the feeling that anything can and probably will happen, like being in a central London pub on a Friday night or playing blackjack on the Strip in Vegas. Off nights, the Bikini Lounge reverts to a neighborhood hang, but on First Fridays it's like a little bit of New York's East Village right here in Phoenix. And for our money, it's the greatest dive bar ever. Readers' Choice: Chez Nous

1502 Grand Ave., Phoenix, 85007
MAP
602-252-0472
BEST LOCAL BEER

One of the surprises of moving to Phoenix for the first time from some place like Los Angeles or New York is being able to have a pint of P-town's "home brew" -- Kiltlifter Scottish Ale -- on tap at a local saloon. Let's be honest, when you're a newbie transplant with some of that El Lay or Gotham 'tude, your first reaction to PHX -- not knowing the area -- might be, "Why, God, why?" But a draught of Kiltlifter, the flagship ale of the Four Peaks Brewing Company in Tempe, is enough to convince you that not only is there civilization in P-town, but it has produced a damn fine brew-ha-ha, one worthy of incessant quaffing. Kiltlifter is an award-winning, Scottish-style amber ale that uses peat-soaked malt (the same used in making Scotch) to give the beverage a smoky sweetness, accented with a touch of English hops. It's a sophisticated, refreshing drink, and Phoenicians should be as proud of it as they are of the Arizona flag.

BEST BEER SELECTION
McDuffy's Wide World of Entertainment

To borrow a line from John Belushi in Animal House, now that Arizona has gotten off its keister and extended the drinking cutoff until 2 a.m., we advise you to start drinking heavily. And there's no better place to start drinking heavily than at McDuffy's Wide World of Entertainment in Peoria, which has 21 different beers on tap and at least the same number in bottles. This sleek, 13,000-square-foot sports bar is jam-packed with large-screen TVs tuned to all of your favorite athletic competitions, and then some. McDuffy's also offers off-track betting year-round, so you can lose your shirt (or win a bundle) while getting hammered. And the kitchen prepares some of the best bar food, bar none, everything from beer-battered fish and chips and roast beef sliders au jus to hand-crafted pizzas, made to your exacting specifications. Moreover, with its half-price happy hour -- and a reverse happy hour on Sundays that includes Sabbath tourneys of "beer pong" (Yahweh must love that one), McDuffy's has become a destination drinking, dining and fun zone for the entire west side. If only Belushi were still around, he'd love it. Readers' Choice: Four Peaks Brewing Company

15184 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria, 85382
MAP
623-334-5000
BEST DANCE FLOOR

Hey, Dancing Queen, if those shoes haven't scuffed a dance floor since disco, it's time to leave the house. Deciding where to bust your latest Beyonc moves isn't easy, but there are a few diva-worthy dance floors out there -- all of them inside the confines of The Buzz.

The Buzz is perfect for the schizophrenic dancer who's not really sure what groove to follow. The maze of bars and themed rooms surround a large dance floor lighted by hypnotic lasers and energized by scratch-happy DJs who spin everything from house to funk to hip-hop.

Save the last dance until you've perused the rest of the two-story fun bar. The Rat Pack Lounge offers a little Sinatra-inspired R&R -- perfect for rejuvenating yourself -- and the rooftop patio is essential for airing out those sweat-soaked digs of yours. Don't lounge around too long, however. The Buzz is best experienced by dancing yourself dizzy. Readers' Choice: Axis/Radius

BEST GAY BAR
Amsterdam

This place would impress even the Queer Eye guys. From the opera bar to the leather couches to the jumbo shrimp appetizer, everything about Amsterdam is perfectly appointed, particularly the help -- and the clientele. You'll feel like you've died and gone to cable when you sink back with a martini (we recommend the French) and enjoy the, er, view, as well as the live piano music and frequent drag shows. For you fag hags (and boys who do the mani-pedi thing), we highly recommend "Martinis and Manicures" -- just $5 for a mani, $10 for a pedi, 7 p.m. to close, plus $5 martinis.

Don't bother asking for a "facial." It's not that kind of place. Readers' Choice: Amsterdam

718 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 85004
MAP
602-258-6122
BEST LESBIAN BAR

Thankfully, you'll be hard-pressed to find a mullet here. E-Lounge draws patrons of all ages, but its largest draw is the twentysomething crowd. With ample, cushy couches, reasonably priced drinks, and hordes of hot women, E-Lounge is fast becoming the nightclub that local lesbians have wanted for years. The inside decor resembles a grotto inferno, with dark red brick walls, paintings of exotic, scantily clad women, and a spacious, sunken dance floor -- a perfect pit for exhibitionists, and a great eyeful opportunity for voyeurs. Add some of the Valley's hottest DJs (Domenica, Pete, and Laura B.) to the mix, and there's bound to be beautiful booty shakin' until last call -- and maybe more booty after that. Readers' Choice: Ain't Nobody's Bizness

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BEST DIVE BAR: Bikini Lounge

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