Bars & Clubs

  • Best Drinks on Ice

    Ice House Tavern

    How is it that we've scraped this town, year after year, searching for drinking digs without ever coming across this little gem? The Ice House Tavern is really kind of a messed-up idea — but in a creepy, fantastic way. Anyone who grew up in Phoenix probably skated at Arcadia Ice Arena at least once in his or her life.… More >>
  • Best Place to Drink While Roasting Marshmallows

    San Tan Flat Saloon and Grill

    It's a bit of a haul for most Phoenicians — just over the Pinal County line south of Queen Creek — but a trip to San Tan Flat on a Saturday night is a real treat. Live music from a rollicking country band, a nice wide dance floor, and great food give this place an overall excellent atmosphere, but it's… More >>
  • Best People Watching

    Postino Central's back patio

    We love the Autostrada panini. And we love the smoked salmon bruschetta. And Postino Central's wine list is not only imaginative but always features several of our favorite libations. But what we really love most about this new-ish cafe (located in the old Katz's Deli building on North Central) is that seating on the patio lets us watch three entirely… More >>
  • Best Comeback

    The Sail Inn - CLOSED

    We've always wondered: Where do bars and clubs go when they die (i.e., close)? Whisked away to the nightspot great beyond after falling to a wrecking ball, perhaps, never to return (like Tempe's Long Wong's)? Or maybe reincarnation into a completely new identity is in order, like when the old Mason Jar became gay dive Velocity 2303. In the case… More >>
  • Best New Club

    Cream Stereo Lounge - CLOSED

    Since debuting in January, Cream Stereo Lounge has endured a significant amount of both love and hate, much like any new nightspot. Its supporters easily gush about its mix of European and Las Vegas-style touches, including swimsuit-clad models engaging in burlesque-like bathtub shows. The haters, on the other side of the coin, have groused about alleged rude service, the club's… More >>
  • Best New-School Martini

    Cashmere Martini

    This is not your cigar-smoker's martini. And don't put an olive near it. The Cashmere Martini — one of the signature cocktails at one of our favorite new CenPho eateries — is luxury in a glass: vanilla vodka, pineapple juice, and a splash of Chambord. The soft pink hue and exotic aroma move this cocktail to the top of our… More >>
  • Best Old-School Martini

    Hanny's

    For a long time, we were great admirers of the "super-size me" martini trend. So what if a Hendrick's martini at Durant's set us back $20? There were at least four shots of gin in that baby — and we had the buzz to match our bar bill. But this is 2009. We're broke, we're terrified of DUIs, and (frankly)… More >>
  • Best Artisanal Cocktails

    Digestif

    A shakeup within Peter Kasperski's Old Town empire earlier this year ended with two unfortunate developments: the closing of his award-winning Sea Saw, and the downsizing of his new-yet-admired Digestif. Now, Digestif inhabits a much smaller space across the street (in fact, it's the same sleek room that used to house Sea Saw) and has a much trimmer menu. But… More >>
  • Best Local Beer for a Novice Drinker

    Four Peaks' Peach Ale

    Ah, beer: the most humble and refreshing form of recuperation after the daily beatdown that is your job. Just gather your friends and head to a bar for a happy hour (or two). What? Your friends don't like beer? Teach them the error of their ways, starting with the Peach Ale at Four Peaks. Forget hoppy goodness and the power… More >>
  • Best Local for a Pro Drinker

    Sonoran Brewing Company's The Inebriator

    We don't remember drinking the Inebriator. Then again, how could we remember drinking anything containing 9 percent alcohol by volume? What we heard from our friends after re-hydrating, cleaning ourselves up, and figuring out which surface was the floor (without hitting it with our heads this time) was that the Inebriator from Sonoran Brewing Company is dark and delicious, like… More >>
  • Best Bottled Beer Selection

    The Lost Leaf

    We didn't know what the hell Delirium Tremens was. Framboise Lambic? Sorry, we don't speak French. Or German. Especially not at the same time. Luckily, we stumbled into the Lost Leaf, where we took to the finer points of beer education. The coursework? One bottled beer at a time from the hundreds available: Dead Guy Ale, Ska Brewing, Nimbus Ale… More >>
  • Best Beer Festival

    Arizona Strong Beer Festival

    In Germany, it's October. In Arizona, it's March. Yes, we're referring to that magical time when every weekend seems to bring a new opportunity to engage in the drunken debauchery of a massive outdoor beer festival. Kicking things off on the last Saturday in February, the Arizona Strong Beer Festival in Mesa gets many of the same brewers as the… More >>
  • Best Place to Drink PBR

    Brigett's Last Laugh

    Like karaoke and pool, Pabst Blue Ribbon is an American bar tradition, and Brigett's Last Laugh has all three. Sure, there are other places in town that serve PBR, but few serve it as cold or as cheap ($1.50 per can) as Brigett's. And because PBR has been associated with things like trailer parks, cheap drunks, and punk rock, many… More >>
  • Best Wine on a Budget

    The Vig

    We like to party and we're not ashamed to admit it. And since we've left college, our tastes have evolved beyond flip-flops and beer bongs. We crave an environment with a little more class, where we can relax and get faded while polishing off a few nice bottles of wine. Unfortunately, thanks to the crap state of our economy, we're… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    Wildfish Seafood Grille

    Seventy-five-cent oysters? Five-dollar blood-orange margaritas? Five-dollar Bacardi mojitos? With prices this good, you could surely be forgiven for assuming that we were talking about some desperate hole in the hinterlands, offering incredible deals in hopes of luring someone — anyone — to spend happy hour at their place. But no. Unbelievably, all this is going on in one of the… More >>
  • Best Ladies Night

    Hurricane Bay - CLOSED

    What woman doesn't fantasize about relaxing under a palm tree on a sandy beach, being tended to by sexy waiters bearing fruity cocktails with little umbrellas? Well, we can't promise the sand or the tree, but ladies can live out the rest of their fantasies at Hurricane Bay's Wednesday Luxe Ladies Night. The 10,000-square-foot space was renovated earlier this year… More >>
  • Best Girl Power

    Muff Mondays at The Ruby Room

    Rodney Dangerfield complained about receiving no respect, but we wonder how he would have done in a dress and high heels. Women in comedy nowadays don't have to play second banana to any dude, so Ronnie Deleski, Jacki Orr, and Amy Jean Page birthed Muff Mondays as a yonic-slanted comedy showcase. The monthly variety show is a mix of stand-up,… More >>
  • Best Strip Clubs for Ladies

    Dick's Cabaret and II Dick's

    While there's a slew of bars around this 'burg — both gay and straight — offering "all-male revues" (read: hunky men stripping down to their unmentionables), only two clubs in the Valley dare go for the "Full Monty": Dick's Cabaret and its recently opened spin-off, II Dick's. Both flesh parlors serve up more lean meat than a butcher shop, featuring dozens… More >>
  • Best Strip Club for Narcissists

    Pink Cabaret

    Usually, people go to strip clubs to look at the strippers. But at Pink Cabaret, patrons are encouraged to check themselves out, too. The ground floor of the large cabaret is covered almost entirely with floor-to-ceiling mirrors, which means guys can check their hair (or bulge) on their way to the bar, bathroom, or stage. Meanwhile, the dancers can fixate… More >>
  • Best Strip Club

    Babylon Show Club - CLOSED

    Babylon Show Club's design reflects its hedonistic sensibilities — a giant gargoyle greets patrons outside, while the interior is filled with red zebra-stripe carpet, red and black leather booths, five giant-screen TVs, and a "custom smoking section." There's a full kitchen, too, which serves up nachos and hamburgers, and an awesome sound system that pumps out 6,000 watts of power.… More >>
  • Best Place to See Girls Behaving Badly on the Dance Floor

    Pussycat Lounge - CLOSED

    Alcohol does some funny things to people. Get a few drinks inside the wallflowers and they'll instantly bloom into the biggest social butterflies. For evidence of this axiom, hang out in Scottsdale on any given weekend and watch bookish babes turn into rampaging party girls after only a few shots. This nightlife phenomenon is most apparent at Pussycat Lounge, the… More >>
  • Best Dance Floor

    Norton's Country Corner

    Though we understand the place lost some of its atmosphere in the move from Gilbert Road and Chandler Boulevard to the center of Queen Creek, and though they don't always have a band on both weekend nights, we still love the natty little dance floor at Norton's Country Corner. This humble little roadhouse traces its lineage back to 1918 and… More >>
  • Best Glam Replacement

    Party Foul! Fridays at Homme Lounge

    Not that anything could really replace Glam. With Faux Show Friday Nights and Word Up! Saturdays, the unsuspecting club in a forgettable strip mall in Phoenix — which, sadly, closed a while back — exploded every weekend. It was our nightlife diamond in the rough. Its Saturday Night Fever light-up dance floor and one-stall stinky bathroom will forever hold a… More >>
  • Best Place for Drunken Distractions

    Marc's Sports Grill & Nightlife

    If you subscribe to the theory that alcohol makes you more attractive, a wittier conversationalist, or even a fearless pugilist, then you likely believe a few beers can transform you into a championship billiards player or an ace rifleman. Put your theory to the test at this West Valley watering hole, where a large variety of bar games and drunken… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Downtown Phoenix

    Coach & Willie's - CLOSED

    Stationed less than a block's walk from both US Airways Center and Chase Field, Coach & Willie's is so close to the big-league fun that you can practically smell the locker-room funk. Sports nuts, clad in their snazziest team shop gear, usually make pit stops here either before the game (carbo-loading on moderately priced upscale comfort grub) or afterwards to… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Central Phoenix

    Hazelwood's First Place Sports Grill

    The moniker of this CenPho player's paradise is as dead-on as a Dan Haren fastball, considering it ranks far above any other sports bar in the vicinity. It boasts a relaxed, low-key feel and homey décor that could double as some suburbanite's den (albeit one with more hi-def TVs than a Best Buy store, a swank pool table, a long-ass… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, West Valley

    Lighthouse Sports Bar

    It's a safe bet that Phoenix sports fans probably need a drink or two (no, make that several . . . dozen) to help forget all those underwhelming performances by multimillion-dollar buffoo . .  . er, athletes during 2009. Aside from the Arizona Cardinals' miraculous berth in the Super Bowl, it hasn't exactly been a banner year for our city's sports squads. Steve Nash and… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Glendale

    Max's Sports Restaurant

    Having opened way back in 1979, Max's is definitely old school, just like us. We've got golden memories of watching some of Phoenix's biggest ballgames from within the darkened confines of this West Valley sports institution. (Like when our voice went hoarse cheering on Sir Charles and the Phoenix Suns as they beat the dreaded Chicago Bulls in triple overtime… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Southeast Valley

    Teakwood's Gilbert

    There's a lot to like about Teakwood's Tavern and Grill in Gilbert — great food, plentiful TVs, friendly staff — but we have to admit what we like best about it, sports bar-wise, is the way they allow you to re-create the experience of being at the game by tossing your peanut shells on the floor. That's right, even though… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Mesa

    Diamond's Sports Grille

    We know what you're thinking: How could we not name Sluggo's the best Mesa sports bar? Well, we are (sorta) because the legendary Sluggo's is now Diamond's Sports Grille. The bar was opened by former Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray and his partner in the booth, Steve Stone, and it's gone through a few names en route to its current one.… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Tempe

    Doc & Eddy's

    Tempe probably has five of the 10 best sports bars in the Valley, so picking just one spot is a challenge. Luckily, Doc & Eddy's has a little bit of everything, making it easy to justify our choice here. It's just dive-y enough to feel homey, but with clean and plentiful restrooms, varied seating options, good service, and great food.… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Scottsdale

    American Junkie

    Seeing this place on a Saturday night, you'd never know that this hip club is actually a fantastic sports bar during the day — even better than perennial favorite Duke's. The high-end modern furniture looks a little fancy for watching the big game, but it turns out it feels just like a Laz-Y-Boy. Your ass won't know the difference. Trust… More >>
  • Best Family Sports Bar

    Mac's Broiler and Tap

    We'll admit it: We aren't as young as we used to be. Heck, some of us even have kids now. But in spite of that fact, we want to get out of the house every now and again, go someplace low-key, eat greasy bar food, and watch the game. It's times like these that we're thankful for Mac's. This quaint… More >>
  • Best Place to See Real Football Fans

    Harold's Cave Creek Corral

    You probably remember watching the Arizona Cardinals suffer a narrow defeat in the Super Bowl, after officiating that made Tim Donaghy's showing at those Phoenix Suns playoffs games look professional. Would you like to relive the humiliation of that beating? Just head up north to Cave Creek, that little outlaw hamlet that's housed rapper DMX and Hell's Angels founder Sonny… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Your Game On

    Paradise Lounge

    So you go to a dive bar and you have your choice of darts, pool, or electronic trivia. With those generic options, you're bored out of your mind. No wonder you're such a drunk. Find alternative stimulation at Paradise Lounge, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it dive bar that has a selection of board games unlike any other. Once inside, you'll find a mountain… More >>
  • Best Bar Trivia Night

    Boulders on Broadway

    Though it looks a little like a barn from the outside, Tempe's Boulders on Broadway is pure class inside, with a sophisticated brick-floored lobby and a cozy, ski lodge-like loft upstairs. They've got great beers on tap, a well-placed tabletop Ms. Pac-Man game, and a Tuesday night team trivia competition that's our pick for the best in town. First, obviously,… More >>
  • Best Place to Shoot Darts

    Stinger's Sports Bar

    Imbibing copious amounts of alcohol while throwing sharp, pointy things usually ends with someone at the hospital with a dart lodged in his or her ass. So it was no surprise when most of Arizona's pubs and clubs started ripping down their dartboards. Stinger's Sports Bar in Glendale compromised, eschewing lawsuit-provoking metal darts for plastic ones and a traditional board… More >>
  • Best Pool Party

    Adult Swim

    Okay, so one of our favorite nightlife offerings starts before it gets dark, but the party often goes far into the night. Close enough. The DJ duo of Jared Alan and William Fucking Reed are two of the biggest party monsters Phoenix has to offer. Their respective Saturday night wingdings Cheap Thrills and Shake! have drawn in the hipsters and… More >>
  • Best Pool Hall

    Main Street Billiards

    Most of Phoenix's seedy pool places pale in comparison to this Mesa billiards establishment, since it's (gasp) clean, safe, and well lit. It's ruled by tough-looking bouncers and counter help, so you'll never worry about a cut-throat game of eight-ball resulting in your throat actually getting slit by some shark. All jokes aside, Main Street Billiards offers 42 tables (the… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Downtown Phoenix

    Philthy Phil's - CLOSED

    Don't let the name fool you, as this watering hole on the edge of downtown Phoenix is actually pretty clean (well, as far as dive bars go). Frankly, the dirtiest thing here is the longshoreman-grade obscenities we've heard coming from regulars who are as colorful as the décor. Besides a few murals depicting an array of funky blues artists lining… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Central Phoenix

    Roxy's Great Escape - CLOSED

    If you haven't been to the Great Escape anytime in the past year or so, be prepared for a huge shock. The rough-and-tumble dive you'd grudgingly grown to love is completely gone. As in 86'd. Vamoosed. Even the free popcorn machine that spat out wilted, tasteless kernels, you ask? Yup, it went away when the bar was sold last year… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, West Valley

    Stinger's

    It's time to bust some science: Centruroides sculpturatus (a.k.a. the common Arizona bark scorpion) comes out only after dark, constantly on the prowl for places that are cool. Because of this fact, our fearsome arachnid friend is not unlike the patrons at this Glendale watering hole, who tend to flock here during the evening in search of the rampant post-dusk… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Southeast Valley

    Lilly's Grill & Bar

    Formerly known as QC Cafe, and Jim's Cantina before that, this bar and restaurant at the center of Queen Creek recently underwent renovations to make it a little more in step with the influx of yuppies making their home in this former cow town. It's still, along with Rudy's, a major landmark in town, though, and a comfortable place to… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Mesa

    Pub 'N' Grub

    The term "Cheers-style" gets thrown around a lot in the discussion of neighborhood bars, but we're certain it's not usually as appropriate as it is with Mesa's Pub 'N' Grub. This little corner dive has fryers behind the bar and a selection of cheap domestic beers served in frosted mugs or hearty pitchers. It's a consistently pleasant crowd, mostly folks… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Tempe

    Time Out Lounge

    So many bars have an informal dress code — a sort of de facto aesthetic agreement rendering anyone who doesn't fit the bill uncomfortable in the establishment, even if they're not, technically, unwelcome. Not Tempe's Time Out Lounge. This is the sort of place where, when a girlfriend asks your advice on what to wear, you can say "anything" and… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Scottsdale

    El Dorado Bar & Grill

    There aren't any high-stakes Texas hold 'em poker games to be had at the El Dorado. The same goes for goldfish races, "name that tune" competitions, or any other kind of bar game or nonsense. Just a bunch of surly regulars downing alcohol, and lots of it. So why are we highlighting this dour-sounding booze bunker? Because it's an under-the-radar… More >>
  • Best Place to Drink a Pint and See a Ghost

    Casey Moore's Oyster House

    Everyone knows that Casey Moore's is a great place to down a brew and eat delicious pub grub, but did you know it's haunted? The story is that an ex-ASU student was murdered on the second story. Now her ghost throws the occasional plate or two at guests who disturb her in the afterlife. As long as those plates contain… More >>
  • Best Kid-Friendly Place to Get Your Drink On

    The Patio at Aunt Chilada's

    Now, let's be clear about one thing: Nobody here is promoting the idea of excessive drinking while children are in your care. But anyone with small kids knows that the typical dining experience is about as much fun as a visit from the IRS. So what a welcome change it is to have a relaxing time sipping, say, a nice… More >>
  • Best Dance Night for Grownups Pretending to be Kids

    Cheap Thrills at Black Forest Mill Restaurant - CLOSED

    When you're getting a little long in the tooth, it's all about strategy. You've gotta embrace your age during the day (mostly because there's no other choice with that damn sun highlighting your wrinkles) by playing it classy and conservative. Then at night, go away from the light — get as far away as you can and stay there. Black… More >>
  • Best 18-and-Over Night

    Twist Thursdays at Myst - CLOSED

    Bar and club owners have a love affair with the underage crowd during these threadbare times. Though barely legal types can’t pop bottles or down a few drams of Stoli, they can clean a place out of Red Bull and other non-alcoholic drinks. No one knows this better than the cats of Platinum Nightlife, who’ve seen big turnouts at their… More >>
  • Best Rock Club Without a Liquor License

    Chyro Arts - CLOSED

    Chyro Arts has booked some amazing shows in the past year — including an unforgettable night with banjo-playing bluesman William Elliot Whitmore — and it has a cool vibe. Plus, the sound is great in this dark and cozy room. Oh, and we love the collection of mismatched couches and futons lining the walls, which tend to make seeing a… More >>
  • Best Big Show

    Calexico at Heritage Square

    Tucson's Calexico, a Western- and Latin-tinged rock act that's arguably the biggest indie band in the state, plays Phoenix only every few years. When they do, though, they go all out, as evidenced by their April concert at Heritage Square. The show was promoted by Stateside Presents and Chris Bianco, proprietor of the famous pizzeria next to the wooden structure… More >>
  • Best Small Show

    No Age at Modified Arts

    When a band's latest album is less than a half-hour long (as Los Angeles-based noise-pop act No Age's is), it's not surprising when their headlining set comes in under an hour. Actually, the band behind Nouns — one of the best-reviewed releases of 2008 — played only 45 minutes in Phoenix. But, oh, what a 45 minutes it was, packed… More >>
  • Best Local Band Made Good

    Miniature Tigers

    Charlie Brand works the self-deprecating-artist shtick better than any other musician we've met. Where most artists may brag about touring with marquee-level acts or getting their faces on TV, the soft-spoken guitarist/vocalist for indie quirk-poppers Miniature Tigers tends to shrug off their numerous successes. So we estimate that Brand's been shrugging a lot over the past 12 months, as he… More >>
  • Best Tour by a Local Band

    Jimmy Eat World's Clarity x 10

    Hundreds of Valley bands toured this year, but no one did it with as much panache as Jimmy Eat World, who played their 1999 magnum opus Clarity front-to-back in 10 cities across the country. Sure, those confused, lovelorn teenage anthems like "Can You Still Feel the Butterflies?" sounded great in the suburban bedrooms of a typical Millennial's childhood, but the… More >>
  • Best SxSW Buzz for a Local Band

    Dear and the Headlights

    Though they were already signed to a record label — and quite probably already tapped to make an appearance at California's Coachella music festival — before their Texas adventure this year, local indie act Dear and the Headlights seemed to make a breakthrough at Austin's South by Southwest music industry showcase. Leading a contingent of seven Phoenix bands, Dear and… More >>
  • Best Grammy-Winning Group You May Have Never Heard (or Heard Of)

    Phoenix Chorale

    Quick. Name an Arizona-based artist who scored consecutive Grammys for 2007 and 2008? Alice Cooper, George Benson, or DMX? Nope. It's the Phoenix Chorale. Never heard of them? Then you need to wake up, because the choral ensemble formerly known as the Phoenix Bach Choir is a heavy-hitting enterprise in the classical music world, taking home a bronze phonograph statuette… More >>
  • Best Band Breakup

    The Medic Droid

    Okay, so the timing was bad: The Medic Droid broke up a week after we put them on our cover. But, we've gotta hand it to this MySpace success story. They broke up in style, starting with onstage spats and continuing through an exchange of online barbs. This electro-pop act (imagine if Perez Hilton had a band) was poised for… More >>
  • Best Open Mic Night

    Tuesdays at Goat Head Saloon - CLOSED

    Attending open mic nights at Valley bars is often akin to being an excited kid on Christmas morn: You're hoping for something good, like an unsigned troubadour who croons beautifully, instead of something lousy, which in this case might be some no-talent freakazoid who should be singing only in the shower. Thankfully, the wanna-be musicians, comedians, poets, and other participants… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    Korean BBQ

    Karaoke rooms aren't a total novelty in the Valley anymore, thanks in large part to Scotts­dale's posh Geisha A Go Go, but there's still nowhere that gives you an experience quite as authentic as this Mesa restaurant. Most folks in here are Asian, and the cramped (yet surprisingly comfortable) karaoke room is stocked with songs by all your favorite Japanese… More >>
  • Best Karaoke with a Live Band

    Rockaroke at Yucca Tap Room

    What's better than rocking out to karaoke? How about doing it with a live band instead of a poorly translated laserdisc with incongruous video footage? The four-member posse of Rockaroke has a repertoire of oldies-but-goodies and a few newer tracks ready for you to obliterate with your drunken renditions. Try belting out The Beatles' "Hey Jude" or Radiohead's "Creep." Whatever… More >>
  • Best Cover Band

    Hairforce

    Tossing the fat guy out of your hair metal cover band seems like a good idea. Sure, maybe the dude can play, but if you're getting all dolled up in lipstick and leather pants, and maybe growing a real mullet to increase the authenticity (you know, so you can make this a career, man), you need to make sure everyone… More >>
  • Best Tribute Band

    UnSkinny Bop

    For the second year in a row, UnSkinny Bop, a local Poison tribute band, is the undisputed best in Phoenix. When we wrote about them last year, we discussed the amazing potential they have, given their physical resemblance to the original act along with their ability to either do spot-on renditions or go with the flow, reinterpreting the songs where… More >>
  • Best Tribute Song

    "Hey Jordan" by Dierks Bentley

    Throughout his decade-long career as a guitar-wielding country music star, Phoenix native (and Capitol Records artist) Dierks Bentley has penned many a heartfelt song for his fans. There's "My Last Name," an emotional number from his 2003 self-titled album in which he sings about his family's history and legacy, or "I Can't Forget Her," an aching and remorseful post-mortem of… More >>
  • Best Country & Western Nightclub

    Graham Central Station - CLOSED

    Are you a little bit country, but your friends are more rock 'n' roll? Then Graham Central Station in south Tempe is where you should head, partner, as everyone in your party will find a rip-roaring good time every Wednesday through Saturday night. While the multi-room nightspot boasts different club areas (offering karaoke, hip-hop, and retro music), cowboys are treated… More >>
  • Best Country & Western Bar

    Tom Ryan's - CLOSED

    The Chandler strip mall that houses Tom Ryan's is turning into a virtual ghost town, for all intents and purposes, with more than a half-dozen shuttered retail spaces looking more vacant than Boot Hill Cemetery at midnight. But the bar has managed to cheat death (à la Clint Eastwood's badass bounty hunter in Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars), thanks… More >>
  • Best Place for Rockabilly Shows

    The Blooze Bar

    Every Thursday, The Blooze Bar dusts off its blue suede shoes and greases its gears for "Rockabilly Night," a roof-raising weekly that features some of the Valley's best rockabilly bands, including The High Rollers, The Jump Back Brothers, The Toomstoners, The Rhythm Dragons, and Voodoo Swing. National acts light up the stage, too, with performers like Johnny Falstaff coming from… More >>
  • Best Punk Bar

    Jugheads - CLOSED

    The late Sid Copeland was reportedly a helluva guy. The former owner of this east Phoenix punk institution, who sadly passed away in 2006, had a reputation of being easygoing and generous. He was a much-beloved figure in the local scene, providing his customers with a shoulder to lean on in times of woe or making sure every musician who… More >>
  • Best Place to Find an Underground Hardcore Show

    Arizona Hardcore

    It's likely that you've never heard of underground music venue The Slurp before, and it's probably gonna stay that way. The hush-hush all-ages show space, which is located in an industrial plaza somewhere in the Valley sprawl (we're not dropping a dime), is a clandestine operation that's hosted dozens of under-the-radar hardcore and punk shows in the past six months,… More >>
  • Best Place to Catch a House Show

    The Tribe House

    The rarity of live-music shows taking place in Valley homes isn't so much about a lack of interest as it is a by-product of our desert ecology. You see, the impenetrable Sonoran Desert prevents many dwellings from boasting a basement, so noise from amplified bands tends to leak into neighbors' bedrooms and, we imagine, peeve the neighborhood. That's why The… More >>
  • Best House DJ

    DJ Senbad

    It's been 13 years since Senbad (a.k.a. Sean Badger) first burst upon the Phoenix DJ scene, and a lot has transpired in that time: Nights have come and gone, killer clubs like Freedom in Tempe and Next in Scottsdale were born only to (sadly) die, and the musical tastes of ever-fickle crowds have constantly changed. (Remember big beat, anyone? How… More >>
  • Best Electro DJ

    Death to the Throne

    In 2007, Jimmy Martin-Nelson was toiling away as Kid Vicious behind the turntables at Scottsdale spots like Dirty Pretty and Pussycat — just another DJ working the monotonous club scene grind. Spin that Kanye remix, pimp that bottle service deal. Rinse, lather, repeat. Fast-forward to today: The 20-something is now known as Death to the Throne and is arguably a… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Homme Lounge

    The stylish Homme Lounge sets itself apart from other Valley gay bars by hosting an array of events for all kinds of people. In addition to the stereotypical house and electro dance nights with rippled, shirtless men, the club's also home to the monthly goth/industrial Sadisco* events, a weekly hip-hop night called "So Paid" on Thursdays, and the metrosexual hipster… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    zGirl Club - CLOSED

    We're not saying all lesbians are lushes, but good drink specials can go a long way in attracting hordes of hot gay women. zGirl Club's got specials almost every night of the week, including two-for-one well and domestic bottles on Tuesdays and $2.50 pitchers on Thursdays. And despite its modest dance floor, the club always manages to get booties moving,… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    Roadrunner Lounge

    A humble confession: When we discovered this place, we rushed back to the office to see what we had written about it. Nothing in the archives. Well, friends, The Roadrunner Lounge shall not be ignored ever again, because it's soooo good. This rundown piece of you-know-what on Hayden Road north of Osborn Road is just steps away from Carlsbad Tavern,… More >>
  • Best Lounge

    The Crown Room - CLOSED

    The name of the game here is chillaxing, which patrons seem to do in spades. Although this Scottsdale nightspot sits only a few blocks from the Scottsdale club hubbub of places like Axis/Radius and Pussycat Lounge, it feels like the usual crowd of d-bags and trouts is miles and miles away. The Crown Room is almost atypical of Old Town… More >>
  • Best Hotel Bar

    The Living Room at the W Scottsdale

    Of all its many amenities (30-foot-long martini bar, handcrafted artisan cocktails, posh Mid-Century Modern furnishings), the main benefit of spending an evening at this lobbyside salon at the W is the nonstop cast of characters who parade by you. There's the ditzy chickadee with the fake-bake tan who's had a little too much to drink and can't seem to navigate… More >>
  • Best Fire

    Lon's at the Hermosa

    Don't make the mistake of hightailing it home after dinner at Lon's, a longtime favorite restaurant of ours. Instead, saunter onto one of the patios around the old joint and curl up (alone or with a loved one) on a comfortable chair or couch. Now, experience one of Arizona's warmest, coziest, and most romantic settings. Perhaps (on certain nights) a… More >>
  • Best Smoking Patio

    Smokey's Bar & Grill - CLOSED

    This Main Street spot doesn't look like much from the outside, but there's a grip going on inside this laid-back, off-the-radar watering hole. There's live music basically all the time, an 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. happy hour every day of the week, and awesome video games like Big Buck Hunter. Then there's the bar's namesake, an indoor smoking patio… More >>
  • Best Hookah Bar

    Harem Lounge - CLOSED

    If I Dream of Jeannie's magically delicious heroine had a secret lair, it would be the Harem Lounge. Part coffee shop, part hookah lounge, this Moroccan-themed strip-mall jewel is bathed in sumptuous red light cast by stained-glass lanterns that twinkle in the sexy loft above the cave-like shop. Soothing, exotic beats blare in the background as customers mellow with water… More >>
  • Best Bar to Avoid Downtown Drama

    Renee's Grand Avenue Tavern - CLOSED

    You saw your ex hanging out at downtown's Lost Leaf, but she didn't see you — under no circumstance do you want to cross paths with her — so you head over to the Bikini Lounge and run into the dude that's dating your ex. Ugh. You should just go home, but you're dolled up and rocking a sweet pair… More >>
  • Best Bouncer

    Ami Johnson of Modified Arts

    You wouldn't think an all-ages, alcohol-free music venue that doubles as an art gallery would need an aggressive bouncer, but Modified Arts' Ami Johnson has stories that suggest it does. Like the story about the time some guy pulled a knife on her for giving him a small bottle of water instead of a large. Or the story about the… More >>
  • Best After-Hours

    Afterlife - CLOSED

    Just because those officious bastards at the Department of Liquor License say you gotta stop boozing by 2 a.m., that don't mean it's time to hit the sheets. (Who are they, your effin' mother?) The nightlife game's still afoot in Scottsdale long after last call, and we ain't referring to what's transpiring at that Denny's over near Osborn. Nightclub entrepreneur… More >>
  • Best Night Light

    The Icehouse

    Helen Hestenes, performance artist and owner of the Icehouse, on Jackson Street in downtown Phoenix, has never given up on her dreams for the city — or her arts venue. When she purchased the neglected historic property with then-husband David Therrien in 1990, Hestenes imagined an avant-garde gallery and performance space with an edgy, urban heartbeat married to a solid… More >>
  • Best Prankster

    DJ Chromatest

    The extracurricular activities of Chromatest J. Pantsmaker are just as colorful as his nom de guerre, if not more so. As a member of such DJ collectives as the Salacious Beat Slingers and Warsaw Pact Entertainment, the 33-year-old broadcast engineer has spun pulsating breakbeats and glitch-hop at more raves and desert parties than you can shake a glowstick at. He's also… More >>
  • Best DJ

    DJ Z-Trip

    Zach Sciacca, a.k.a. Z-Trip, is arguably the biggest DJ ever to come outta Phoenix. Enjoying a level of superstardom that many local turntablists and mix masters can only dream about, the 38-year-old Valley native has spent the past decade and a half using his stellar scratching skills to propel himself to international fame and glory. His list of coups and kudos… More >>
  • Best New Bar

    SideBar

    SideBar is so elegant, and has so much bon vie, that when we first walked in, we couldn't believe we were standing over a Pei Wei on West McDowell Street. Believe it. The best new bar in the Valley is a happy, social, stylish place — a place where you're just as likely to run into an old friend as… More >>
  • Best Gin and Tonic

    Tuck Shop

    We're not sure whether it's the small-batch Scottish Hendrick's gin they use, which boasts "infusion of cucumber and rose petals," or the housemade tonic water, or that thin slice of cucumber garnishing this refreshing adult beverage, but the combo rocked our palate. Beware, once you've experienced this magical toddy, you might not settle for a G&T anywhere else, ever again.… More >>
  • Best Rock Club

    Hollywood Alley - CLOSED

    When Hollywood Alley debuted in 1988, bands didn't exactly beat a path to its door. Back in those days, the epicenter of the local music scene was undoubtedly Mill Avenue and such venues as Long Wong's and Chuy's, and not some pissant bar and grill off the beaten path in Mesa. In fact, owner Ross Wincek didn't start booking bands until… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Night

    The Blunt Club

    Though we've had a feud or two with the Blunt Club posse in recent years, it's time to man-up and give 'em much respect for putting on the biggest and best weekly in the city. After all, mic-wielding luminaries like host Emerg McVay, as well as turntablist talent Pickster One and remix king Element have done their Thursday-night thing for… More >>
  • Best Art House

    Alwun House

    Before there was a First Friday or a Roosevelt Row, the best — and for a while, the only — place to find alternative contemporary art was Alwun House. Folks looking for a funky, big-city art scene had only Alwun, downtown's first gallery, to rely on for "something different," art-wise. The first independent non-profit art space, Alwun set the current… More >>
  • Best Blues Man

    Bob Corritore

    Bob Corritore arrived in Phoenix in 1981, figuring he'd be here only for a year, at most. Almost three decades after the fact, the Chicago-born harmonica player is still around, and local blues connoisseurs are grateful he decided to stay put. He's been plenty busy in that time, using his lifetime love of the blues to help the Valley get hip… More >>
  • Best Drink That'll End Your Night

    The Trashcan at the Rogue Bar

    James Bond would not drink the Trashcan. Elegant, classy, or sophisticated it is not. It is, however, effective. Very effective. This mysteriously delicious elixir is served in a mini-pitcher and made with generous pours of whatever liquors and liqueurs the bartenders grab (we really don't believe it's consistent) garnished with a crushed can of Red Bull. Completed, it takes on… More >>

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