BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, SOUTH PHOENIX - 2005
Federico's Bar and Pool Hall
For many Valley urbanites, the portions of Phoenix located south of Interstate 17 might as well be south of the border. Ask 'em for the hookup on any hip hangouts or cool clubs among the blighted badlands of junkyards, dollar stores, or industrial parks, and you'll usually get blank stares or suggestions of "Um . . . Applebee's?" instead. If you can brush aside these pathetic profferings and search around a bit, some gems can be found -- like the flavorful fiestas at Federico's. Whatever this grimy hole-in-the-wall nightspot lacks in style, it makes up for in character, with rancheros and duded-up Mexican cowboys working the cue ball on five different pool tables, congregating at secondhand tables covered with red cloths, or dancing with exotic-looking diva Latinas to styles like norteño and sweet cumbia spun by DJs on the weekends. It's standing room only come 11 p.m., so arrive early and prepare for a pat-down from one of the tough-looking security guards frisking for weapons at the door. If illegal intentions are your thingo, gringo, look for potential marks elsewhere.