BEST C&W NIGHTSPOT - 2003
Handlebar-J Restaurant and Saloon
If the saying "wherever you hang your hat is home" means anything, at least a hundred cowboys with names like Buck and Billy have hung, dated and donated their head coverings to the rafters of this country and western institution, which has been here in north Scottsdale since the barren days of 1966. Back then, it was called Wild Bill's and provided singer Waylon Jennings with yet another home away from home (his widow Jessi Colter and Handlebar-J owner's son Ray Herndon will soon be performing an "Outlaw Connection" tribute here). Since then, it's been a visiting spot of luminaries like Loretta Lynn, Lyle Lovett and Toby Keith. And unlike other now-you-see-'em country bars that book an occasional rock band or karaoke night, Handlebar-J hosts live C&W seven nights a week. Plus, it has been a safe haven for porterhouse carnivores and protectors of the two-step at a time when country music seems to have lost its cultural identity to cosmopolitan cowpokin' and records that aren't even worth their weight in tobacco spit.
Readers' Choice: Handlebar-J