Bars & Clubs

  • Clicks Billiards

    Best Place to Shoot Darts

    Clicks Billiards - CLOSED

    We've got a passion for anything old school. Vinyl's way better than MP3, Grandmaster Flash will always trump Jay-Z, and the original Nintendo is far more fun than the Xbox 360. And when it comes to the game of darts, we prefer old-fashioned boards made from sisal fibers to them new-fangled electronic Galaxy machines. Call us crazy, but we prefer… More >>
  • Golfland SunSplash

    Best Arcade

    Golfland SunSplash

    Video games are an absolute religion for some people. Magazines like GamePro and Electronic Gaming Monthly, their bibles; digital heroes like Master Chief and Mario, their gods. And arcades like King Ben's Castle at Golfland SunSplash are virtual temples, where vidiots genuflect (so as to better insert tokens, natch) and become joystick Jesuits among the 200 different games available here.… More >>
  • Sadisco*

    Best Countercultural Carnival


    You won't find any death-defying rides, outrageous animals, or complicated midway games at a monthly Sadisco* affair. Just freaks . . . and plenty of them (like, enough to fill an insane asylum or a sideshow). Be they leather-clad rivetheads, mayhem-craving punks, or gloomy Goth types, the monthly dance parties put on by the debaucherous dance collective draws out nightcrawlers… More >>
  • Celebrity Theatre

    Best Musical Carousel

    Celebrity Theatre

    The musicians, singers, and comedians that hit the stage at Celebrity Theatre not only get to perform in the round but get to experience the rotating stage, which may be as unique an experience for them as it is for us. How do we know? Well, Celebrity stage newbies tend to remark on their rotation virginity, while returning artists often… More >>
  • Best Place to Catch a House Show

    Mitchell Park Neighborhood, Tempe

    Mill Avenue may be known as Tempe's main drag, but you'll find us off the beaten path, most weekends: There's a sleeping sonic giant just steps away from Mill known as Mitchell Park, an old-timey 'hood built between the '30s and '60s. Some of our town's best musical talent, such as Foot Ox, Bri White, James Fella, and the members… More >>
  • Best Place to Find a Rave


    Old-school ravers around here love reminiscing about the good ol' days of the Valley's underground dance party scene. Back in the early- to mid-'90s, they ramble, Phoenix was rife with non-stop illegal and illicit all-night dance affairs, boasting big-time DJs, massive cuddle puddles, abundant X, and tons of "P.L.U.R." (as in, "peace, love, unity, and respect"). After waxing poetic, they… More >>
  • Best Hipster Dance Night

    Shake! With William Fucking Reed

    DJ William Fucking Reed has a knack for bringing sexy back while simultaneously bringing breaking national acts to the party. His weekly dance night, Shake!, has been going strong since 2005, thanks largely to the litany of luminaries Reed finds to spin tunes. Guest DJs have included JD Samson of Le Tigre, Marky Ramone, Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols,… More >>
  • Best Place to Party on a Yacht Without Getting Seasick

    Yacht Rock Sundays

    Sail away to the calming sounds of Steely Dan, Michael McDonald, and more whenever your captain of smooth, DJ mig50, plays yacht-rock classics at the Ruby Room. The event emcee spins those heavy-on-the-cheese hits by Boz Scaggs, Hall & Oates, and the Doobie Brothers on good ol' fashioned vinyl. You may not actually be coasting on a boat in the… More >>
  • Best Bull Ride

    Saddle Ranch Chop House - CLOSED

    In the climax of the '80s flick Urban Cowboy, a duded-up John Travolta managed to hang onto a bucking mechanical bull for almost 30 seconds. Man, if only we coulda lasted that long. We were attempting to replicate the actor's feat on the faux toro at one of the Valley's two Saddle Ranch Chop Houses recently but came up a… More >>
  • Best Dance Floor

    Bar Smith's Rooftop

    Bar Smith is an early adopter of great DJs, great dance floors, and an overall big-city vibe we love to see hitting our bit of Sand Land. The upstairs outdoor dance floor is our fave in this town. Sure, it might be toasty in the summer, but it's worth it for the view — high-rises lookin' you eye to eye,… More >>
  • Best Local Vaudeville Show

    Romantasy Cabaret

    The day that the eggheads finally invent a time machine can't get here soon enough, because we've got some major plans for that wondrous doohickey. Besides heading back to eighth grade to confront the bully whose daily thrashings stunted our self-confidence to this day, we're warping back to the 1920s to witness a bona fide vaudeville show. We've seen only… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    Bullock's Cocktail Lounge

    There are a few reasons why we visit Bullock's for its karaoke. Besides offering more than 10,000 songs for us to sing along with — either on key or off — the Phoenix bar also attracts a diverse clientele that comes for karaoke action seven nights a week. It's a wide cross-section of humanity that's just as entertaining as any… More >>
  • Best Karaoke for Introverts

    Geisha A Go Go

    We're free as a bird while singing along to tunes in the car or alone at home. But the word "karaoke" always makes us want to run and hide because we're too desperately insecure to croon in front of people. That's why we think the private karaoke rooms at Geisha A Go Go — one of the newest nightclubs in… More >>
  • Best Open Mic Night

    Mondays at Yucca Tap Room

    What better way to start the workweek than to watch people get onstage and share their talent? Whether it's a longhaired hippie dude with a guitar doing a Simon & Garfunkel cover, a disgruntled college kid performing a spoken-word piece about the war in Iraq, or two inebriated girls just giggling at each other because they signed up on a… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Cornhole

    R.T. O'Sullivan's Sports Grill - CLOSED

    Midway games can humble one's pride. We've had our egos bruised many a time while seeking victory at impossible-to-win contests involving catapulting frogs or coins flipped at dishes. Particularly humiliating are games that require objects (be it baseballs or beanbags) flung through holes. Our throwing arm and hand-eye coordination are both weak, so we usually walk away empty-handed. But our… More >>
  • Best Place for Guitar Hero Tournaments

    Uncle Monkeys

    Don't tell your professor we told you, but now Mesa Community College and ASU students have an excuse to ditch class on Tuesday nights. This strip mall bar across the street from MCC and just a few miles from ASU's Tempe campus hosts competitions for the play-along, interactive guitar-shredding video game. The place is definitely a dive that's known for… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Rock Band

    Sandbar Mexican Grill

    The latest craze among Valley bars and clubs these days isn't some overpriced fruity martini or even playing host to the hottest DJs around. Nope, it's Rock Band nights, where patrons test their mettle at the ultra-hot video game (which involves groups of three or four playing simulated instruments and singing in time to chart-busting songs like Foo Fighters' "Learn… More >>
  • Best Hookah Bar

    Layalena Restaurant

    Layalena reigns supreme in indulging your Middle Eastern fantasies. It's a far cry from Tempe's swath of seedy college hookah hangouts. Think belly dancing, gourmet Lebanese-inspired eats, and a sumptuous interior with brick columns and stained-glass lanterns. There's an upscale-casual dress code, which scares off most of the students, and a separate hookah lounge with full bar for guests over… More >>
  • Best Brew Pub

    Papago Brewing Co.

    Papago Brewing Company in Scottsdale is everything a brew pub (and your date) should be — comfortable, relaxed, and completely loaded. Beer oozes from every corner. There are beer taps decorating the lodgepole bar, beer signs on the walls, and a beer engine for cask-conditioned ales. No shit, a beer engine! The bar food's pretty decent — especially the wraps… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Downtown Phoenix

    The Roosevelt - CLOSED

    Every good neighborhood bar has a few key things — a great selection of drinks, a fair pour, a great staff, and maybe a snack or three to help pace yourself. The Roosevelt has those essentials in spades, plus a couple of others for good measure, like a gorgeous building, lovingly restored, and the most wicked music choices around. We're… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Central Phoenix


    Who'd have thought a tiny bar with a sign that gives a nod to '80s and ska scenesters would be such a friendly, welcoming spot? Usually, a bar that dips its toe in the too-cool pool will pack an attitudinal wallop. Instead, Shady's '60s interior is retro and relaxed. Pick a drink, any drink, and their engaging bartenders will remember… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Scottsdale

    Coach House

    Coach House is an anomaly among the glitz and glamour of Scottsdale's nightlife scene. It doesn't boast an ample dance floor or a million-dollar sound system or even bottle-flipping bartenders who pour the latest designer drink. What this tiny, wooden-walled roadhouse, circa 1959, does have is plenty of homespun allure and old-school Scottsdale cool. So much so that after knocking… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Arcadia

    JT's Bar & Grill

    Ah, the typical Arcadian. If you live in the neighborhood, and you want breakfast, you hit La Grande Orange. Light lunch? It's all about Pita Jungle. For your swankier dining needs, radioMILANO, the Vig, and Postino fit the bill. Coffee time? Stop by Mama Java's. And when you want to slum it up for some cheap cocktails, it's time for… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Tempe

    Casey Moore's Oyster House and Seafood Restaurant

    The first time we tried to find Casey Moore's Oyster House and Seafood Restaurant, we got lost. Located on Ash Avenue just two blocks from Mill Avenue, it's actually in a real neighborhood, historic Maple-Ash. By the end of the night, we were cursing the lucky stiffs who have houses just across the street. Whether you're looking for a Friday-night… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Southeast Valley

    Crabby Don's Bar & Grill

    It's kinda ironic that Crabby Don's has such a surly-sounding moniker (as well as a menacing, frown-face logo), considering that this Gilbert watering hole is a place where many nearby drinkers stop by to have an awesome time. Nearly every time we've visited, the place is usually packed with energetic and upbeat urbanites, ranging from bros dressed in their Volcom… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, West Valley

    Exit 7 Bar And Grill

    Wanna know what really bores us? To tears? Adam Sandler flicks, for one. Not to mention flaky artist-types. Another thing we find particularly tedious and mind-numbing are bars in which there's absolutely nothing to do other than drink, stare at the boob tube, or endure depressing stories from dour drunks. But Exit 7 doesn't roll like that, yo, because the… More >>
  • Best Place to See the Main Events

    R.T. O'Sullivan's Sports Bar and Grill - CLOSED

    The wait is over. The heavyweight champ's finally squaring off against the persistent challenger and the title belt is most definitely on the line. The hype has been relentlessly building for months, and it's sure to be an unforgettable donnybrook, with the irresistible force truly meeting the immovable object. And if your broke-as-a-joke ass only had the $49.95 to spring… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Downtown Phoenix

    Networks Bar & Grill

    This watering hole, located inside the downtown Phoenix Hyatt Regency, is one of our favorite drinking establishments to pop into after a game, concert, or art shindig. The interior is bathed in sleek hardwood floors, faint lighting, and flat-screen TVs. The crowd is different from a typical sports bar — there are tourists, business professionals, regular-looking Joes/Janes, and musicians from… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Central Phoenix

    Half Moon Sports Grill

    People living in Phoenix proper are spoiled. Two of our three major stadiums are practically in their backyards, and with that comes a whole bunch of marquee-name sports bars downtown. But where do Phoenicians go to catch a game when they can't make it to the stadium and don't want to deal with trying to park, or navigate the construction… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, West Valley

    Santisi Brothers Pizzeria Sports Bar

    We come to Santisi Brothers to indulge our sports-based ADD. It's easy to do here, since there are well over 100 TVs. That's enough to play all of this year's Kobe Bryant temper tantrums at once. Not that we'd want to, since all that snarking would distract from the pool tables, dart boards, and regularly scheduled Texas Hold'em tournaments that… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Northwest Valley

    McDuffy's - CLOSED

    Mere minutes by car from the Cardinals' stadium, this Peoria sports bar is the overachieving older brother of the now-defunct Tempe location. (Sure, we might have downed a drink or two there, back in the day.) This is no college bar — it's all grown up and gone Sports Bar, and a great one at that. At this McDuffy's, we're… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, East Valley

    Woodshed II

    We've been going to the Woodshed II for more than a decade and, we gotta admit, we never tire of this way-off-the-radar, low-key dive. The location is in a dimly lit strip on the northwest corner of Dobson Road and University Drive that looks as though it's been abandoned for 20 years. Inside, signed photographs from professional athletes and autographed… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Scottsdale

    Upper Deck Sports Grill - CLOSED

    This converted two-level nightclub in Old Town Scottsdale proudly flies Arizona teams' flags outside along with those of Michigan and Illinois teams, for all the Midwestern transplants to our fine state. We like it because the laid-back atmosphere and comfortable setting ensures all fans can get along amongst 40 screens and two big projectors. (These are crucial to any sports… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Tempe

    Four Peaks Brewery

    It took us a long time to choose this one. The Arizona Cardinals' (and subsequent Fiesta Bowl and Super Bowl) exodus from Sun Devil Stadium left Tempe without the sports scene the East Valley was accustomed to. Longtime game-day favorites like McDuffy's and Bandersnatch vanished and, apparently, locals were left without a good gathering place. We should know — we… More >>
  • Best Pool Hall

    Kolby's Corner Pocket

    If you're serious about billiards, follow the pros. Literally shoved into the corner pocket of a Tempe strip mall, Kolby's Corner Pocket attracts the top names in pool. Last year, trick shot pro Johnny Archer took on fans at Kolby's, and earlier this year, local superstar Scott Frost bested world-famous One Pocket player Efren Reyes on his home turf. Sure,… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    Cash Inn Country

    Cash Inn has managed to persevere where other lesbian clubs have closed, and there are many reasons for this. The club gets its share of regulars, for one thing, but Cash Inn's combination of cheap drinks (including $1 draft beers on Tuesdays, $2 pitchers on Thursdays) and expanded entertainment events draws lesbians from both other bars and out of town,… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Amsterdam - CLOSED

    The décor in this chic lounge is striking — a beautiful, wood-paneled Art Deco bar; white Roman pillars; sparkling chandeliers; burgundy leather couches, and a black baby grand piano all add to the classy ambiance. The drink of choice is the martini, of which Amsterdam serves more than 100 different variations, each served with a huge chunk of fruit. The… More >>
  • Best New Gay Bar


    The building that formerly housed the clubs Shepherd's and The Eagle is now Retrobar, a groovy, space age-themed club that combines vintage fashion with retro imagery. Guests are greeted by a cluster of mannequins, all dressed in Studio 54-style garb and huddled around tables. A gigantic flat-screen TV covers half the south wall of the bar and plays muted music… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    Dilly Dally

    Some things are just classic. Hard to top. If you have a fetish for dank smells, dirty fish tanks, and hot salty nuts, then there is no better dive for you than the Dilly Dally. If you're turned on by doing tequila shots with old men and staring at titty photo collages, then you won't be disappointed. We can't resist;… More >>
  • Best Place to Turn Green — Without Envy

    Skeptical Chymist Irish Restaurant & Pub

    Whoever invented the phrase "green around the gills" was Irish, probably from war-torn Belfast. How do we know? 'Cause we braved Skeptical Chymist's annual Guinness & Oyster Festival last St. Pat's and personally experienced the culinary terrorism — er, hallowed Irish tradition — of swallowing raw marine slime and then chugging a pint of thick, black beer. We revisit the… More >>
  • Best Place to See and Be Seen

    SkyBar at the Mondrian

    There is so much eye candy on display at SkyBar, it's hard to figure out exactly where to rest your gaze. (Just make sure that when you go in for the kill, your target's legal — the place was busted on Valentine's Day with more than 20 underage drinkers inside.) But it's not quite your typical Scottsdale fake-tit fest; you're… More >>
  • Best Bar to Run into Old Phoenix


    Technically, this place is a restaurant, a solid, old-school prime rib joint that also does great seafood and still features a salad bar. (You know the type.) But the real secret here is the bar, which is dark and friendly and filled with the most interesting people. You never know if you're going to run into the criminal defense attorney… More >>
  • Best Hotel Bar

    Wright Bar at the Biltmore

    When it comes to hotel bars, we don't want one of those sealed-off, hipper-than-thou Ian Schrager nightclubs. We want a place to chill out, chat up the bartender, and watch the foot traffic. And, on every count, the piano bar tucked into the lobby of the Biltmore delivers. The look is pure Frank Lloyd Wright, but the vibe is casual:… More >>
  • Best Place to Lounge

    Vocé Ristoranté & Lounge - CLOSED

    Clubbing is fun, yes. But after a few nights of pulsating lights that keep your pupils in a constant state of dilation, bass beats that shake your arm hairs, and chemical poisoning from your spray tan, you're on the verge of a code 10 anxiety attack. It might be time to peel off your sparkly dress and kick off your… More >>
  • Best New Bar

    Chez Nous

    Whether it's rock bands or baseball stadiums, re-creating the old charm just never quite seems to work. That's why we were skeptical when Chez Nous — the super-dark '60s cocktail lounge on Seventh Avenue and Indian School Road that was torn down and replaced by a British supermarket — announced that it was reopening the Nous at the old Fat… More >>
  • Best New Nightclub

    PHX Nightclub - CLOSED

    The club scene in Phoenix can be as fickle as a pickle. Some new nightspots throw open their doors and are the place to see and be seen, packing in the hotties by the hundreds. Meanwhile, other places can debut to much pomp and circumstance but remain emptier than a ghost town. Thanks to its swank environs, bangin' DJ lineup,… More >>
  • Best Strip Club

    Centerfold's Cabaret

    The charm of Centerfold's is threefold: hot chicks, cheap drinks, and good music. The dancers here run the gamut, from blue-eyed blondes with enhanced breasts to petite Asians in tiny neon thongs to beautiful black women with sparkling body jewelry. The common thread among them is a desire to make money — and the more money you flash, the more… More >>
  • Best Rock Club

    Joe's Grotto

    This long-standing north Phoenix rock club got a new, state-of-the-art sound system in the past year, allowing for concert-hall sound in a small room. Owner Joe Grotto has been booking bands that know how to take full advantage of a sonic boom, from the manic rockers of -itis to the brutal metal of Hellen to the roaring blues guitar of… More >>
  • Best Place to See Jam-Rock Bands

    The Goat Head Saloon - CLOSED

    Here's some groovy news for you: Ever since opening its doors last spring, Goat Head Saloon has become a destination place for fans of jam rock. Every month, this charming Mesa watering hole hosts gigs by bands specializing in the funky, Grateful Dead-style genre, usually featuring extended solos and fits of psychedelic jamming. Groups such as Xtra Ticket, Endoplasmic, and… More >>
  • Best Blues Club

    The Rhythm Room

    There are other blues clubs in town, so what it is about the Rhythm Room that separates it from the pack, year after year? At first, we thought it could be the sheer number of shows at the place — there's live music almost every single night of the week. Then we thought, it's gotta be because the Rhythm Room… More >>
  • Best Country Nightclub


    From the hundreds of cowboy hats adorning the walls to the sawdust on the floor, there's no place more "country" than Handlebar-J. This steakhouse/nightclub has been owned and operated by the Herndon family since 1975, and owner Gwen Herndon's sons, Ron and Ray, can often be found performing as the Herndon Brothers on stage. Guests such as Starfire and Jessi Coulter… More >>
  • Best Country-Western Bar

    Spirits Bar & Grill

    This bar — formerly Thunder Pass, located in the no man's land between Mesa and Apache Junction — is one of the most eclectic watering holes around, a place where cowboys, biker dudes, and young Republicans somehow mingle with one another without overturning tables and tearing out ceiling fans. The focus is definitely on the bygone Western era, when men… More >>
  • Best Texas Jukebox

    Texaz Grill

    There's more to Texaz Grill than great Texas comfort food. When you're chowing down on a Texas-size chicken-fried steak, with a massive mug of iced tea waiting for you to slurp down your gob, you may think there's nothing that could possibly enhance your experience. Well, pardner, you'd be wrong. Just ask owner Steve Freidkin. If there's one thing a… More >>
  • Best Venue for National Music Acts

    Marquee Theatre

    Sure, the parking costs $5 (and there's never enough of it), the security can be rude, and all shows are general admission and standing room only. So what makes the Marquee Theatre the best place to see national acts? Well, one reason the shows rock at the Marquee is because of the venue's sound and light system, which is state… More >>
  • Best Music Venue for Local Acts

    The Sets - CLOSED

    Sure, The Sets hosts its share of mid-level national shows (everything from punk legends The Dwarves to underground hip-hop act Bear The Astronaut), but this massive venue hosts more local shows than national ones and, indeed, more local shows than any other venue of its size. The bulk of The Sets' calendar is filled with Valley artists' gigs, from local… More >>
  • Best Local Band Destined for the Big Time

    Digital Summer

    Since they debuted on the Phoenix music scene in January 2006, the rockers of Digital Summer have experienced a level of success that many local bands would kill for. The five-member outfit has not only gotten its songs in regular rotation on Valley radio powerhouse KUPD, it's also landed gigs opening for major-label bands like Godsmack and Sevendust, and amassed… More >>
  • Best Cover Band

    The Chadwicks

    Formed in 1994, Tempe-based quartet The Chadwicks is one of the few bands in the city whose repertoire consists almost entirely of cover songs. Even The Chadwicks' "alter ego" band, Rock Lobster, plays covers exclusively. What makes the band stand out is the scope of its playlists — these guys cover more than a hundred songs, spanning several genres and… More >>
  • Best Tribute Band

    UnSkinny Bop

    Very few tribute bands attain such a degree of national success that members of the original band recognize or perform with the tribute band or such that the tribute band is able to sustain itself on a national tour. There are The Atomic Punks (a tribute to Roth-era Van Halen) and Led Zepagain (Led Zeppelin tribute), both from California. And… More >>
  • Best Jam Band

    Ten Dollar Outfit

    TDO rocks on the contemporary tip, with an original sound that blends folk, rock, jazz, and pop — sometimes in a single song. The band's latest (and only) studio album, East Meets West, displays the Phoenix trio's ability to merge smart acoustic arrangements with unbridled jams, but it's Ten Dollar Outfit's two live albums — Live at The Clubhouse and… More >>
  • Best SXSW Buzz for a Local Band

    What Laura Says Thinks and Feels

    You couldn't go anywhere at the 2008 SxSW music festival in Austin without hearing somebody rave about Tempe band What Laura Says Thinks and Feels. They were named in Soundcheck magazine's "Label Alert: The 411 for Lovelorn A&R Reps" section, which proclaimed that WLSTaF "will slay you" live, and "you will die of pure, unadulterated happiness." They received a shout-out… More >>
  • Best Local Supergroup

    Los Guys

    Led by singer/guitarist Mark Zubia (formerly of the Chimeras, the Pistoleros, and the Zubia Brothers), Los Guys provide the perfect medium between drunken dance-party music and straight-up rockin' Americana. The core is the soulful 'n' tough twang of Zubia, the consistency of drummer Gary Smith (also of alt-rock trio Storyline), the coiling rhythms of bassist Paul Cordone (also of Phoenix… More >>
  • Best Live Karaoke Band

    The Instant Classics

    This six-piece band was formed in 2002, after a group of musicians got together for a last-minute gig at a company awards party in Hawaii. When the new band was informed it'd be playing five nights, it assembled a list of cover songs that it could quickly learn. At the party, the company vice president dared the band to let… More >>
  • Best Band Revival


    When the young, petite sisters of death-metal band Hellen, Mindy and Desiree Duponte, first caught our attention two years ago, we were impressed with their raging brand of guttural metal and psycho-operatic vocals. But before the sisters could fully realize their potential as Hellen, Desiree passed away suddenly in April 2007. Mindy took a hiatus, unsure whether she would even… More >>
  • Best Band Featuring a Random Assortment of Instruments

    Dry River Yacht Club

    Onstage there's a bassoon, a bass clarinet, a cello, an assortment of percussive instruments stacked and hanging near a Mac, an acoustic guitar, and, beside the singer's microphone, an accordion. The band members pick up their respective instruments and begin to play. The sounds they construct are as haunting as they are unique. Even in a music scene as varied as… More >>
  • Best Battle of the Bands

    98 KUPD's Rock Fight - CLOSED

    When the grand prize for a Battle of the Bands series includes 70 hours of recording time at Highland Recorders (birthplace of recordings and mixes for the likes of Fall Out Boy and Phunk Junkeez), $500 cash, a $750 shopping spree at Highland Clothing in Scottsdale Fashion Square, and an opening slot at U-Fest to set the stage for acts… More >>
  • Best Stage Show


    Attending a Peachcake show is like taking a messy frolic on acid through Candyland with a bunch of demented children's show characters. You're liable to be covered in confetti, candy, and silly string, and you're actively encouraged to dance and sing along with vocalist/percussionist/bassist Stefan Pruett, who's seldom seen without some sort of superhero mask on and who often runs… More >>
  • Best House DJ

    DJ Tranzit

    To say that a little backbiting and trash-talking goes on in the Valley's DJ scene is about as obvious an understatement as admitting that Amy Winehouse likes to let loose once in a while. We've lost count of the times boastful beat-jugglers have bent our ears dissing the skills of their fellow wax workers. So it's kinda refreshing when the… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Weekly

    Blunt Club

    This year, the Blunt Club moved from its longtime location, Hollywood Alley in Mesa, to set up shop at Club Red in Tempe. Part of the reason for the move was that the Blunt Club founders wanted a change of scenery, but they also just plain needed more room. Other hip-hop weeklies have hosted live music to decent-size crowds on… More >>
  • Best Place to Rub Shoulders with Future Hip-Hop Breakouts

    Groove Candy

    This weekly dance night draws major players from the Phoenix hip-hop scene, whether it's old-school producers like 5Fith Coast Records head Roca Dolla, industry peeps like Power 98 deejay Karlie Hustle (founder of Groove Candy) and DJ M2, or cutting-edge MCs like Kavy, Grime, and Knawledg. Local hip-hop artists know that this is the place to network, and collectives like… More >>
  • Best Local Hip-Hop Radio Program

    Friday Night Flavas on Power 98.3

    This radio program really plays up local hip-hop in a way that no other commercial radio show has ever done. Every Friday, from 1 to 4 a.m., hosts Ramses Ja and Bootleg Kev spin tracks by the Valley's best hip-hop artists, highlighting fresh cuts from the likes of Justus, Tha Formula, and Grime, and doing on-air interviews with locals including… More >>
  • Best Collaboration

    Justus and KRS-One

    Justus, one of the MCs of long-standing local hip-hop group Cut Throat Logic, felt he might've been going out on a limb when he asked the legendary KRS-One to perform on a track for his first solo album. After all, the two had just met after Justus opened for KRS-One's show at the now-defunct Brickhouse last fall. But that show… More >>
  • Best Monthly Blues Jam

    Rhythm Room All-Stars

    This supergroup includes some of the most talented blues players in Phoenix — Big Pete Pearson (vocals), Chris James (guitar, vocals), Bob Corritore (harmonica), Brian Fahey (drums), and Patrick Rynn (bass) — and they've been bringing a classic Chicago blues sound to the Valley since 1991, when Corritore founded the band. They've been bringing down the house at their home… More >>
  • Best Place to Hear Jazz in Downtown Phoenix

    The Lost Leaf

    Every Sunday and Monday night, two of the Valley's best jazz ensembles, Jiggle and Moseyhorse, nestle themselves in the exposed-brick corner of this artsy beer/wine bar and play the hippest burning jazz in town. Jiggle, which starts at 9 p.m. each Sunday, is an experienced quartet that plays both originals and standards and features ASU prof and tenor saxophonist Bryon… More >>
  • Best Place to Hear Jazz in Scottsdale

    Nello's - CLOSED

    When we were young, we threw a temper tantrum when Mommy tried to force us to take those dreaded piano lessons. Now, as slightly more mature adults, we wanna cry out of jealously when we watch the amazing piano-based trios who gig every Tuesday night at Nello's in Old Town Scottsdale during their Moonshiner Jazz series. Jazz pianist Dan Delaney… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    Mickey's Hangover

    This place will ruin your diet. But isn't the point of happy hour to get all nasty on some bar food and cheap beer after a frustrating day at work? We know that after a long day of calling people who don't want to talk to us, that's about all we're good for. And Mickey's is the perfect place to… More >>
  • Best Place to Drink Agwa

    Big Fish Pub - CLOSED

    If you read our feature story about Agwa de Bolivia Coca Leaf Liqueur ("Liquid Blow," Niki D'Andrea, June 26, 2008), a new liqueur made from Bolivian coca leaves, you may have tried to order it at your favorite local bar, only to find that it either didn't carry Agwa or was completely out of the tasty new booze. Thank goodness… More >>
  • Best Cosmopolitan

    Merc Bar

    When it came time to round up our 10 best girlfriends for the long-awaited Sex and the City movie, we knew there was only one place to go afterward, for a round of cosmopolitans: Merc Bar. We love this Biltmore hotspot because it's not only dark and sexy but comfy — the perfect place to talk, sip, and ogle eye… More >>
  • Best Martini


    Flashy, trendoid nightclubs have tried their best to Disney up the martini, essentially dumping the dessert of the day into a cocktail glass, splashing around some alcohol, and slapping the suffix "-tini" on it. The result is a concoction that looks like something a Kool-Aid-swilling, Skittle-chomping Muppet might have vomited. The beauty of the martini is its crisp simplicity. Durant's, the… More >>
  • Best Daiquiri

    Padre's Modern Mexican Cuisine - CLOSED

    We'd always been big fans of the margaritas at Padre's, but, as every drinker knows, man cannot live on margaritas alone. So we scanned the menu one night and found Padre's signature daiquiri — and we're pleased to say we've never looked back. Named for Ernest Hemingway, who was a daiquiri lush, Padre's version isn't the stiff slush that you… More >>
  • Best Tequila Selection

    Barrio Café

    Finding the best liquor selection is just a matter of geography. If you want a killer poured pint, visit an Irish bar. For wine, try a European bistro. So, it's no surprise that we discovered the best tequila selection at a top-rated Mexican restaurant. Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza's neighborhood cafe boasts more than 250 top-shelf, premium, and Super-Jalisco tequilas, from… More >>
  • Best Sangria

    Ticoz Resto-Bar

    This colorful hotspot — popular both with stylin' gay guys and ladies who lush — does a great job with every drink on the menu. Lychee mojito? Guavatini? Trust us: You can't go wrong. But our quaff of choice has become Ticoz's passion fruit sangria. Think Cabernet, passion fruit, pineapple, and orange, all in a lightly iced blend. Yum! And… More >>
  • Best Mojito

    Fuego Bistro

    The perfect mojito is light and refreshing, with a sweet overtone that masks the kick of the rum. That's why we love the Prickly Pear version at Fuego Bistro, in central Phoenix. The flavor is subtler than the mojito's standard lemony notes, and tastes a little like watermelon without the sickening sweetness that comes with most fruity drinks. Mojito purists… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Cien Agaves

    They've got nine very interesting margaritas on the menu at Cien Agaves — and though we are normally a sucker for things flavored with pomegranate or tinged with tamarind, we never exactly got around to trying any of the specialty versions here. Why? The house margarita — just $4 during happy hour and $7 the rest of the time —… More >>
  • Best Local Beer

    Cordillera Blanca White Chocolate Ale

    Sonoran's commercial description calls Cordillera Blanca White Chocolate Ale "light, refreshing, and completely unique," and, for once, it's not just a bullshit company line. Chocolate stouts are pretty commonplace now, but this is the first time we've had a light, honey-colored chocolate beer at a local pub. We adore Cordillera Blanca because it's potent, but pale and sweet enough to… More >>
  • Best Beer for Wine Snobs

    Hopsquatch Barleywine at Four Peaks Grill & Tap

    So you won't drink anything not served in a crystal goblet. You sneer at the thought of second-growth Bordeaux. Well, wine snobs beware, there's a new kid in town — and he's knocking down your asinine assumptions about beer faster than you can say Gewurztraminer. Four Peaks' Hopsquatch Barleywine comes from a centuries-old English recipe that uses extra malt to… More >>
  • Best Drinking Story

    Mary Cope at Yucca Tap Room

    Mary Cope has tended bar at Yucca Tap Room for 22 years. A lot of her stories are too graphic (even for us) to print, but she does have one that qualifies as a classic. A man walks into the bar and orders a drink from Ms. Cope. She can tell right away that he's three sheets to the wind. She… More >>