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  • Best Place to See an Underground Punk Show

    Inner City Youth Center - CLOSED

    There's no glowing neon sign marking the South Phoenix location of the Inner City Youth Center. Nor are there glossy advertisements, slick radio spots, or other primo promotional tactics trumpeting the underground all-ages gigs held at this under-the-radar music venue. Hell, it barely even has an online presence, as its proprietors maintain a cluttered-looking blog announcing upcoming shows. Even then,… More >>
  • Best Underground Bar

    Rokerij

    Behind heavy wood doors and down a dark stairwell, Rokerij exudes the quiet air of a secret club. A fireplace burns even in the middle of the summer, but the cool, dark atmosphere of the place is well suited to the subtle blaze. Named for the Dutch word meaning smokehouse, Rokerij features the menu from nearby Dick's Hideaway, making the… More >>
  • Best Basement Bar Awaiting a Comeback

    Monroe's Food & Fine Spirits (RIP)

    Located down a steep flight of well-worn wooden steps, the late, great Monroe's was a classic basement bar in downtown Phoenix. During the day, this cramped cellar was a great place to nosh on pub grub and maybe knock back a few lunchtime beers in a place where the sun (and your boss) could not find you. (Unless your boss… More >>
  • Best Underground Bar Legend

    Incognito at the Safari Hotel

    All too often, the best-kept secrets stay underground — and so, it appears, will the full story of the Incognito. Legend places the underground bar in the basement of the Safari Hotel, built in Scottsdale by local architect Al Beadle and owned by Bill Ritter and Ernie Uhlmann. The Safari swung its luxury resort doors open in 1956 to crowds… More >>
  • Best Underground Music on Mill Ave

    The Big Bang

    To get to The Big Bang, you literally have to go underground — there's a flight of stairs next to the entrance, leading to what's essentially a basement. The space used to house blues joint BeLo's, and the exposed brick and industrial piping on the ceiling adds to the "speakeasy" feel of the place. Patrons can sit at a table… More >>
  • Best Underground Music Venue

    The Underground

    Located below the larger Nile Theater venue, The Underground harks back to those underage days, when the best shows you saw were hosted in someone's basement. The Underground is quite literally a basement — you can see utility beams and pipes on the ceiling, and there are mounds of crumbling dirt and drywall in the corners of the room, where… More >>
  • Underground Beer Society

    Arizona Society of Homebrewers

    The Arizona Society of Homebrewers is one of the biggest home-brewing clubs in the entire country. Attending one of the society's monthly meetings means rubbing shoulders with some of Arizona's home-brewing greats. Want to discuss the effect of noble hops on your American-style pale ale? Need some advice on getting a mead off the ground? Hoping to learn more about… More >>
  • Best Speakeasy

    The Black and Tan

    For years, people tried to keep The Black and Tan a secret, closely guarding its location, despite the fact that a Google search for "Black and Tan Phoenix" neatly pulls up an address and phone number. That's because The Black and Tan actually is a legitimate recording studio and rehearsal space. But that's not what this building in an industrial… More >>
  • Best Basement to Sneak Into

    Hanny's

    Stop into Hanny's on a weekend night in downtown Phoenix, and you'll see why there's no one on the street. The swanky bar and restaurant is a great place to spot who's who in the downtown scene, and an even better place to do some exploring. The building was designed by local architects Ryal Lescher and Leslie Mahoney and opened… More >>
  • Best Place to Find an Underground Dance Party

    Stratus

    It's a good thing that the fabrication facilities and other blue-collar businesses surrounding Stratus close up shop after the sun goes down, since there's no one around to file a noise complaint when the West Valley venue gets wild on weekend nights. And believe us, we're talking wild. A colorful cornucopia of costumed kids and vibrantly dressed electronic music fans… More >>
  • Best Bar with a Pool

    Spanish Fly - CLOSED

    As any Phoenician who's had his brains melted and skin seared by the sun can ascribe, it's hot here for a majority of the year. Damn hot. Hence the number of swimming holes around these parts, particularly in Scottsdale. There are pools aplenty in the stylish suburb, even in the unlikeliest of places. Like, say, smack dab in the middle… More >>
  • Best Pool with a Bar

    Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa

    After the architects and designers of the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale designed the swim-up bar located in one of the ritzy resort's many posh pools, we sincerely hope they got a hearty pat on the back for genius thinking. Why? Because the ability to have a drink while swimming around in the drink is one of the greatest ideas ever. What… More >>
  • Best Poolside Bars

    Shade Lounge and Sunset Beach

    Posh doesn't even begin to describe the indoor/outdoor lounges located next to the W Scottsdale's second-floor WET Deck, which features lavish brown and white couches, Mediterranean-inspired décor, and a fully stocked bar armed with a classy staff tending to whatever boozy need may arise. Waterfalls are located throughout the place, rippling water at just the right volume for conversation among… More >>
  • Best Place for a Twilight Drink

    The Thirsty Camel Lounge

    Sitting on the patio of The Thirsty Camel Lounge at day's end with a frosty cocktail in hand is a nice reminder of why we live here; even on the hottest days, we've got some of the prettiest sunsets around, and the classy terrace offers a gorgeous vantage point from which to watch as that ball of heat fades away… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Central Phoenix

    St. Francis

    The happy hour offerings at this CenPho dining destination not only save your wallet on urban-inspired high-quality food and drink, but the ambiance and décor boost Pho-town's big-city cool points without a doubt. Choose from six inspired cocktails — offered at $5 and $7 — that are just as uniquely adapted as their food counterparts. The happy hour menu items… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Downtown Phoenix

    The Main Ingredient Ale House & Café

    We would have preferred to keep this Coronado secret to ourselves, but it's time to let the cat out of the bag. The Main Ingredient's patio is the best place to kick back and relax after a long day of doing, well, anything, really. There are no food specials and no gimmicks — just a shady patio full of friendly… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, South Phoenix

    The House at Secret Garden

    Garden dining is hard to come by in the desert. That's why The House at Secret Garden is a hidden delight. We like to hit up The House's happy hour to experience the tall shade trees, whimsical gardens, and historic Spanish-style mission at a fraction of the price. Snag a Bakon Maria (a bloody Mary made with bacon-flavored vodka) or… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, North Phoenix

    Blue Martini Lounge

    CityNorth has been one of Phoenix's more controversial projects in recent years, with lots of financially strapped folks wondering why taxpayers were stuck with an "incentive" package to prospective tenants of about $100 million. Politics and big-money deals aside, we just love this open-air bar/restaurant right off the 101, especially between 3 and 7 p.m., when happy hour rules. Almost… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, West Valley

    Tim Finnegan's

    At Tim Finnegan's, happy hour is every day of the week, so even weekend warriors can nosh and get sloshed on the cheap. Premium wells for a mere three bucks, as well as half-price appetizers? We're sold. Especially when those half-price apps exemplify Old World Ireland transplanted smack-dab into the middle of the Southwest, like the corned beef and cabbage… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Southeast Valley

    Cork

    If you happen to be in the East Valley between the hours of 4:30 and 6 on a Tuesday through Friday, consider yourself lucky. Cork's magnificent (and cheap!) happy hour is within reach. If you find it hard to choose among $3 champagne cocktails — like the Bellini and the Kir Royal — we suggest you get there early. And… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Tempe

    Robbie Fox's Public House - CLOSED

    Mill Ave isn't usually our first pick for an after-work hang, but we can easily be swayed in that direction when tempted by Robbie Fox's killer happy hour specials. The hoppin' Irish pub serves up its entire menu of mouthwatering appetizers for half price from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Enjoy a heaping plate of Robbie's nachos, a… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Scottsdale

    The Roaring Fork

    This $5 Scottsdale happy hour spot can be summed up in three words: frozen huckleberry margarita. But we'll go ahead and offer a few more highlights to the discounted delectable goodness that's been taking place for years in the cozy, classy digs of this Old Town dining establishment. Happy hour at RF doesn't mean limiting options and lowering standards on… More >>
  • Best Sushi Happy Hour

    Hon Machi

    At the corner of Dobson and Ray roads, you'll see a neon sign that lures barflies like a moth to flame: "sushi and cocktails." You can trust that sign, because Hon Machi is one mom-and-pop sushi shop that will make good on those neon promises. During happy hour, you can stuff yourself to the gills with raw fish, thanks to… More >>
  • Best Place for a First Date

    Cibo

    Ah, the first date. A mixture of hope, fear, and possibility all rolled into one, and if you're going to take a leap into the unknown, the best place to do it is Cibo. The warm, intimate atmosphere, combined with a stellar peach Bellini, will push awkwardness to the wayside. Set in a historic, restored 1913 bungalow, you and (maybe… More >>
  • Best Street Scene

    The crowd outside Hanny's

    A friend of ours was visiting from Los Angeles, and he wanted to go out for a drink after we'd had dinner at District, the restaurant at the downtown Phoenix Sheraton. We walked over to Arizona Center, and it was dead (except for Hooters, but, um, we were trying to impress our friend, not frighten him). We headed back to… More >>
  • Best Place to Be Seen

    The Icehouse

    It's really only fitting that this historic downtown warehouse was known as Constable Ice Storage in 1910 because, since then, there's really no question that the happenings taking place within the various rooms of this buildings have been kept raw and very cool. Between its recent art installation by Barry Schwartz, the killer acoustics of live music shows, after-hours events… More >>
  • Best Sign of Youth Culture in Downtown Phoenix

    Bar Smith

    If you're the cynical bastard still saying, "downtown Phoenix will never happen," we suggest going to Bar Smith on a Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday night, taking a look around at the rooftop full of diverse youngsters flailing their drunk and happy limbs, then shutting the hell up. Yes, watching downtown Phoenix flourish has kind of been like watching the little… More >>
  • Best Sign of Lounge Life in Downtown Phoenix

    Copper Blues

    A new addition to 2011's lounge and music venue scene, Copper Blues already stands out among the rest. Making a home at downtown's CityScape, it's certainly the classiest joint on the block. Sure, you can get your cocktail on and, just as the name suggests, hear some great live blues acts. But you wouldn't expect this kind of place to… More >>
  • Best Place to Keep It Real in Scottsdale

    Coach House

    Serving Scottsdale since 1959, the Coach House is one of the most unpretentious places in a city known for being more champagne than PBR. During spring training, it's not uncommon to see baseball royalty sitting on the patio enjoying a cold one; major-leaguers have been hitting the Coach House since the 1960s. We can see why. Not only does the… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Comedy Show

    First Friday Night Live, The Firehouse

    Downtown Phoenix's First Friday art walk experienced some growing pains in the past year. Streets were closed off and then reopened. Merchant tents relocated or disappeared. But this flux birthed a host of new First Friday events, including The Firehouse's new sketch comedy-slash-variety show starring such locals as Shaikh Sammad, Anna Moncada, Dwayne Holmes, and John Luther, of the band… More >>
  • Best Drag Show

    "Scandaleyez," Fridays at The Rock

    Savannah Stevens, the Phoenix drag queen who hosts Scandaleyez, isn't from the RuPaul school of drag, in which men try their best to look like beautiful women. Stevens looks more like the Divine school of drag, in which the aesthetic is more about crazy, outlandish makeup (including pinkish-red blush that makes cheekbones look like T-bones) and provocative performances that look… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Amsterdam - CLOSED

    Amsterdam — with its bordello-meets-swanky-speakeasy décor and endless martini menu — has always been a nightlife destination for gays, lesbians, and their straight friends. The music, which usually leans toward Euro dance/techno tunes, is always booming and inspires plenty of booty-shaking. The drag queen shows are equally entertaining, and the booze (again, there are hundreds of martinis here) is always… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    Cash Inn Country

    The Cash Inn has long been a nightlife destination for Valley lesbians looking to hang out, hook up, or both. A few years ago, the bar was suffering from a case of homogeneity — the music was almost all country, all the time, and line dancing was the big thing. Cash Inn still plays plenty of country and still offers… More >>
  • Best Hookah Lounge

    Crave Cafe & Lounge - CLOSED

    Crave Cafe & Lounge may not offer the most authentic Middle Eastern hookah experience, but it does provide the most relaxing and hip atmosphere we've found. The interior looks like a swanky bordello, with deep red walls, black leather couches, and mirrors everywhere. Music videos (ranging from The Killers to PM Dawn to U2) play on big-screen TVs and also… More >>
  • Best Smoking Patio

    The Stray Cat - CLOSED

    Packed with hip-hoppers, coeds, and rockers, The Stray Cat serves a diverse clientele. But no group is better taken care of at the Tempe spot than hardcore smokers. The bar doesn't feature a smoking patio, per se, but it does house a ventilated room complete with tables, couches, TVs, and fans, all dedicated to the Cult of Nicotine and its… More >>
  • Best Non-Smoking Patio

    Four Peaks Brewing Company

    Ahh, there is nothing like relaxing on a patio while drinking one of your favorite beers and noshing on a plate of cheese puffs on a crisp autumn day — and then your neighbor has to go and ruin it by lighting up a dirty cigarette. We hate when that happens! It won't happen at Four Peaks — the brewery's… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Central Phoenix

    Hazelwoods First Place Sports Grill

    Any bar can plaster a couple of flat-screens on the wall and call itself a sports bar, but a true sports fan knows that it takes a lot more than a few plasmas from a big-box store to be drafted as a game-day watering hole. Hazelwoods understands this. In addition to the more prominent flatscreens, the bar provides a mini… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Downtown Phoenix

    Coach and Willie's - CLOSED

    One of the perks of being within walking distance of the major sports arenas in downtown Phoenix is that you end up drawing a pretty respectable crowd of pre- and post-game sports fans. Though there's no shortage of sports on every big-screen TV at Coach and Willie's, what really makes us sweet on this bar is the above-average menu (bacon… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, South Phoenix

    CK's Tavern and Grill

    As far as neighborhood sports bars go, CK's Tavern and Grill hits it out of the park. Plenty of TVs for rabid sports fans to catch the game and generous daily specials — both food and drink — make it worth the visit even in the off season. Plus the atmosphere attracts a diverse crowd from families to weekend warriors,… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, North Phoenix

    Catch 22 Sports Grill

    Every neighborhood needs a solid sports bar where you can catch the big game, and Catch 22 is on deck to appeal to any and all sports fans. From the Monday Night Football crowd to the UFC fight-night fanatics, we consider Catch 22's many flat-screen TVs and extensive sports packages a home run. The menu goes above and beyond fried… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, West Valley

    The Moon Saloon

    Peoria can sometimes be a land of chain restaurants, where the closest you'll get to a sports bar is a Hooters. But look carefully at the corner of 83rd Avenue and Bell, because right behind that Hooters (we wish we were joking) is The Moon Saloon. The homey joint, with red vinyl booths and wood-paneled walls, is frequented by plenty… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Southeast Valley

    Zipps Sports Grill

    If you root for the home team, you'll fit in nicely at Zipps in Chandler. Here, fans turn out in numbers and are very vocal in their support, from ASU football to big-deal NFL playoff games. There are tons of TVs positioned at all angles, so there's not a bad seat in the house. Though there's plenty on draft or… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Tempe

    Boulders on Broadway

    "Sports bar" can be a generic term, but at Boulders on Broadway, the designation truly fits. The bar is stuffed with bikers — not the leather-sporting, tattooed, and bearded types, but the toned and slim bicyclist variety, along with all sorts of sporty, fit athletes-cum-hipsters. It's easy to see the appeal. The multi-floor bar and eatery boasts a massive beer… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Scottsdale

    Majerle's Sports Grill

    The fourth location in the sports bar empire owned by Phoenix Suns legend and assistant coach Dan Majerle, Majerle's Old Town may be "Thunder" Dan's best yet. The upscale décor of the place sets a new standard, and the glowing purple and orange accents that dot the bar make it clear that this is Suns territory. Jerseys and dozens of… More >>
  • Best Place to Watch a UFC/Boxing Match

    Gametime Sports Grille

    With 15 flat-screen televisions dominating the walls, and smaller flat-screens at each booth, you won't miss a minute of the fight at Gametime. Owners order all the UFC fights and most boxing matches, in addition to NFL Sunday Ticket, the NBA League Pass, and college football's Big Ten Package. This family-friendly restaurant by day starts hopping at night, when music… More >>
  • Best Pool Hall

    Q & Brew

    You have to hand it to the Q & Brew. In all its years (the hall opened in 1968 before moving to its current location in 1987), the joint has never catered to anyone other than pool-shooting folks, resisting the urge to get gentrified by hipsters or hepcats looking for the next "authentic" place to hang out. "The Q," as… More >>
  • Best Bar Trivia Night

    Team Trivia Tuesday Nights

    Juggernauts of trivial knowledge team up every Tuesday night to test their might against some of the most hardcore trivia teams in the Valley. The teams are big, the happy hour specials are plentiful, and the beer selection is phenomenal — but the tables are sparse. Rally your team and get there well before the 6:30 p.m. start time to… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Drunken Jenga

    Papago Brewing

    You know the feeling. Everything's hazy. Your balance is shot. Standing up becomes an accomplishment. And yet something delicious and cold keeps passing over your lips and down your throat. You realize that it's beer. Your 12th beer, to be exact, but you can't concern yourself with that right now because a towering column of blocks threatens to topple at… More >>
  • Best Place to See an Authentic Pachinko Machine

    Geisha A Go Go

    Walking into Scottsdale's Geisha A Go Go, one is overwhelmed with sights and smells. Sashimi-grade tuna puts salivary glands to work at first sight. Flavored sake in massive taps ensures that a night of drunken karaoke is not far off. But the first real sign one sees of the Land of the Rising Sun is a trio of actual pachinko… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    Rips Ales and Cocktails

    With that funky geometric sign and off-kilter building structure, you won't expect anything at Rips Ales and Cocktails to be run of the mill. The bar's Sunday-night karaoke is no exception, with hipsters, barflies, and wanna-be pop queens all taking to the mic to belt out renditions of their favorite tunes. The diversity of the singers is matched by the… More >>
  • Best Karaoke with a Live Band

    Rockaroke with The Zen Lunatics

    The Zen Lunatics have hosted rockaroke (karaoke with a live rock band, get it?) at Tempe spots like the Yucca Tap Room and The Sail Inn in the past, but the stage at Tempe Tavern may just be the perfect fit for the band. You'd be hardpressed to find a cover band with the chops these guys have, able to… More >>
  • Best Place to Drink and Get Inked

    Jake's-O-Mine Saloon

    Alcohol has a tendency to stir up emotions, annihilate shyness, and encourage certain risky behavior. Inhibitions start to evaporate while inebriated, leading some folks to consider daring activities they might not otherwise engage in. For example, many a tattoo has been acquired after staggering to a nearby body art parlor after a few (okay, more than a few) snifters of… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    Swizzle Inn

    Like most good dive barflies, we're not exactly stoked to share our favorite hideout with the masses. But what the heck — we love this place! It's dark, it's grimy (though the ladies room is so clean, it won a Best Of), and it has an atrium. It's the Swizzle Inn. Lurking behind the Starbucks on the southeast corner of… More >>
  • Best Champagne Bar

    Narcisse Champagne Lounge - CLOSED

    Did you know Phoenix has a champagne bar? Well, you've been missing out if you didn't. These folks have 200 bottles in stock at all times, they offer tastings, and they serve food and have live music a few nights a month. And the sexy servers make the atmosphere a true Scottsdale good time. Oh, and by day, Narcisse is… More >>
  • Best Pub

    Seamus McCaffrey's

    These days, being Irish is cooler then cool, which is probably why we have seen more than a few so-called Irish pubs pop up around town. But Seamus (pronounced shay-mus) has been keepin' it real for more than 20 years. Like any good Irish pub, the downtown no-frills joint keeps football (soccer) on the TV and a huge selection of… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Wesley Nieto at Bikini Lounge

    It's hard to imagine all the insane things Wesley "Wes" Nieto has seen over the 23 years she's worked at Bikini Lounge, one of downtown's most cherished dives. Naturally, Nieto is one tough lady, never one to mince words, and more than apt to deliver a stinging insult if she finds your drink order less than worthy. But that's all… More >>
  • Best Wine Bar

    Postino Winecafe

    The best way to experience Postino is to hoof it, bike it, or cab it before 5 p.m. any day of the week to this wine bar. Every glass of wine in the house is only five bucks, and if you're anti-vino, Postino serves pitchers of beer for the same price. The servers are well versed in the wine list,… More >>
  • Best Brewery

    SanTan Brewing Company

    There is no place we would rather be than lively SanTan Brewery. Converted from a bank into a traditional brewpub, SanTan cranks out great handcrafted brews and — as far as brewery food goes — the food is amazing. What really keeps us coming back is the friendly staff; they have mastered the art of customer service, something that is… More >>
  • Best Local Beer

    Four Peaks Brewing Company

    Admittedly, we liked Four Peaks' American IPA well enough before. What's not to like? It's made with seven different hops added at different times in the brewing process to combine in piney, grassy harmony. It's bitter but not biting, and it's backed by mild honey sweetness. It smells and tastes like a bowl of hop nuggets. We were just fine… More >>
  • Best Independent Liquor Store

    Taste of Tops

    Is anyone really surprised that a beer-and-wine bar attached to one of the biggest indie liquor stores in town is going to have its coolers stocked with anything but the best? If you can't find something you like on one of the 20 tap handles, mosey over to the coolers, where you will find a selection of ciders, IPAs, double… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Wine by the Bottle

    Kazimierz World Wine Bar

    Kazimierz World Wine Bar is a lot like an old-time speakeasy, except instead of making booze in bathtubs, they serve wine in bottles. (It's more sanitary that way.) What they're doing isn't illegal, but it's kind of fun to pretend it is, and clearly the owners agree. A single, nondescript door in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale leads down… More >>
  • Best Sangria

    Fuego Bistro

    Everyone needs his or her daily dose of fruit, and if that fruit just happens to be liquor-soaked, who are we to complain? Fuego Bistro understands this frame of mind and serves up bold, red sangria spiked with all sorts of fruit. It is full-bodied, lightly sweetened, and strong enough that you'll be more than happy with just a glass.… More >>
  • Best Arizona-Inspired Sangria

    La Grande Orange

    La Grande Orange, or LGO for those in the know, is a classy Arcadia pizzeria, bistro, and market that pays homage to the orange orchards of Arizona's history. (After all, citrus is one of the five Cs every native learns growing up in Arizona, along with copper, cattle, cotton, and climate.) It only makes sense that LGO makes use of… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary

    Vig Uptown

    You can drink a bloody Mary any time of the day, but the optimum time is mid-morning, just after you've somehow managed to get out of bed, hangover headache pounding, and showed up a few minutes late to that brunch date you poorly scheduled the day before. "Hair of the dog" doesn't sound appetizing, but in the hands of the… More >>
  • Best Martini

    Durant's

    Durant's is a Phoenix institution synonymous with old-school charm, from the "humble kitchen" to the low-lit bar that transports you to yesteryear. In honor of the vintage Rat Pack environment, we recommend you indulge in a cocktail that defined that era: the martini. Leave the appletinis and cosmos for girls' night out, because, at Durant's, you should be sipping a… More >>
  • Best Specialty Cocktail

    FEZ

    Nobody really likes vermouth. It's just a necessary evil that allows you to justify drinking a double shot of gin in martini form. FEZ understands this and offers the "Straight Up" martini — so strong that it will curl your toes. But what this chic eatery is really known for is ignoring the classic martini rules in favor of fruity… More >>
  • Best Lounge

    Merc Bar

    We have seen quite a few so-called lounges pop up recently, but none of them have the authenticity of Merc Bar. Dress to impress and be prepared to drop a pretty penny at this Phoenix installation. The timeless dim lighting, low-set seating, and dark wood surroundings set the stage for a proper evening of libations and eye candy. Lurk in… More >>
  • Best New Nightclub

    Smashboxx

    Nightlife impresario Chad Landau and the other proprietors of Smashboxx must've hired a shaman to bless the nightclub before they opened for business late last year. How do we know this? Because every previous business that's occupied the property that houses the stylish Scottsdale spot was practically cursed. Each nightlife endeavor that launched at the Indian Plaza location in recent… More >>
  • Best Blues Club

    The Rhythm Room

    Simply put, the Rhythm Room is a Phoenix blues institution. There are plenty of great places to catch the blues in Phoenix, but no other spot brings the blues on a scale comparable to Rhythm Room. Owner Bob Corritore's deep ties to the roots and traditional blues scenes ensure that even as nights during the week feature indie rock, alternative,… More >>
  • Best All-Ages Club

    Afterlife - CLOSED

    There isn't a liquor license plastered on the wall at Afterlife in Scottsdale, which means there aren't any patrons getting plastered inside the club, either. Hence, owner Aron Mezo doesn't offer any primo bottle service, chic cocktails, or cheap-ass drink nights. While the lack of liquor sales definitely cuts into his bottom line every month, there are two upsides to… More >>
  • Best Rock Club

    The Sail Inn

    We really love The Sail Inn. It's got a great location, just off Mill. Oh, and friendly bouncers, stiff drinks, and, of course, great bands. Though the place skews a little hippie, between the indoor and outdoor stages they book just about everything other than death metal. There's plenty of parking, lots of little nooks to have a conversation, and… More >>
  • Best Dance Floor

    Shaker Room at Martini Ranch - CLOSED

    Billed as a "club within a club," the Shaker Room is located on the top floor of Old Town's Martini Ranch. Bathed in cool red lights, the whole room feels like a VIP exclusive, with plush booths, subtle anime-inspired art, and dancing poles. (Don't worry, there's a chic glass bar stocked with enough liquor to potentially convince you to actually… More >>
  • Best Swing Dance Night

    Savoy Hop Cats

    Nathan and Elizabeth Smalley grew up in the wrong decade. Though the 30-something couple's birthdates place them firmly within Generation X, one gets the sense that they shoulda been members of "The Greatest Generation" that lived in the 1940s. They both dig vintage threads from those days, consider Benny Goodman and Paul Whiteman some of their favorite musicians, and possess… More >>
  • Best Monthly Dance Night

    Obscura

    Held on the second Saturday of every month, Obscura is a mix of '80s new wave, indie, and Britpop spun by DJ Roya. This grooving monthly dance party also is an opportunity to snap up giveaways during CD-release parties. If you've got the need to move and shake it, then this is the night to get out and sweat to… More >>
  • Best Hipster Dance Night

    Sticky Fingers

    Here's a fun game to try sometime: Hang out among the throng of clubgoers gathered on the sidewalk along Washington Street's block-long nightlife district on a typical Friday evening and see if you can spot the hipsters. It ain't hard to miss 'em, as they stand out from the Latino-heavy crowd with their ironic T-shirts, porkpie hats, and shabby-chic threads… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Night

    Blunt Club Thursdays

    After nine years of pumping out the jams, Blunt Club is as strong as ever, thanks to local artist Dumperfoo and resident DJs Pickster and Element. The Thursday-night tradition got its humble start in the dark confines of the now-defunct Priceless Inn and, after a couple moves, is currently enjoying its second year at Tempe's premier nightclub, the Yucca Tap… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Club

    Trinity

    Revenge may be sweet, but redemption is even better. A decade ago, the property that houses Trinity was home to CBNC, a similarly fly hip-hop hotspot that packed in patrons and hosted celebs like Busta Rhymes and Britney Spears. It also had a notorious reputation, as onetime Sun Devil football star Loren Wade gunned down a fellow ASU teammate in… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop DJ

    Pickster One

    Word to the wise: Don't ever refer to Dusty Hickman as a DJ. The 34-year-old turntable artist, who performs under the moniker Pickster One, is far more talented than the ordinary rank-and-file selectas working the Valley's nightlife scene. First off, his skills at scratching (a lost art, in our humble opinion) are of the highest order. Then there are his… More >>
  • Best Dubstep DJ

    Sluggo

    Nick Suddarth always looks pretty beat, but there's a very good reason for it. The local dubstep producer doesn't get much sleep these days, because he's always in demand. Whenever he isn't in his Surprise recording studio crafting face-melting tracks to post on his Facebook page, the 20-something is hella busy gearing up to jet off to club gigs all… More >>
  • Best Remixes

    Death to the Throne

    James Martin Nelson is hesitant to speak about his killer remixes of indie rock, electro-house, and dance music. A reclusive guy by nature, he generally shies away from both fame and the spotlight. He's one of the Valley's better DJs, but you'll probably never hear the humble 26-year-old, who performs as Death to the Throne, singing his own praises. Instead,… More >>
  • Best "I've Never Heard This Song in My Life" DJ Night

    The Hot Plate

    DJ Smite, a.k.a. Sir Smeezy, is an eclectic guy. Accordingly, The Hot Plate, the DJ night he hosts every first and third Tuesday at The Lost Leaf, is an all-over-the-map affair. Smite mixes up everything from jazz, punk, rockabilly, and obscure soul cuts, like Darondo's "Didn't I," to create a listening experience that's as schizophrenic as it is enjoyable. Some… More >>
  • Best Local Band

    Andrew Jackson Jihad

    Things are looking pretty damn good for Arizona music. Bands like What Laura Says, The Summer Set, Kinch, and The Maine are making national waves, proving that the Valley of the Sun has a thriving music scene. So what makes Andrew Jackson Jihad, the folk-punk duo of Sean Bonnette and Ben Gallaty our best local band? Lines like "I wish… More >>
  • Best Electronica Tribute Act

    Daft Punk'd

    If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Ron Diep and Nathan Black send flowery love letters to Daft Punk every time they perform as a two-man tribute to the French electronica duo. And it's quite the tribute, to say the least. Each time the local act stages a gig (usually at such popular hipster affairs as Sticky Fingers… More >>
  • Best Heavy Metal Tribute Act

    The Rÿche

    The Rÿche are hardcore about their dedication to the music of Queensrÿche. While many tribute acts aim to nail the superficial aspects of a band's career — the outfits, hairstyles, and mannerisms —The Rÿche keep their goal strictly music, expertly mimicking the sounds of Queensrÿche's biggest albums, The Warning, Rage for Order, and Operation: Mindcrime. Though the members of The… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Metal Show

    Club Red

    There is a variety of music on display at Club Red, from indie rock to hip-hop, but the bar really shines when it comes to heavy metal. Saturday nights at the East Tempe venue crackle with the smell of Aquanet-stiff hairdos. Rockers like Y&T and Dizzy Reed of Guns 'n' Roses share the massive stage with tribute acts like The… More >>
  • Best Live Music with Dinner

    The Compound Grill - CLOSED

    The concept at The Compound Grill is fresh Southwest selections, with the majority of its ingredients incorporating an organic, local-first, farm-to-table philosophy. Good food is a plus of this joint, but the real treat is the steady steam of great live music. The Compound Grill is a regional music venue where you can find a mix of offerings such as… More >>
  • Best Club Show

    The Black Lips, June 22 at The Rhythm Room

    It wouldn't be a rock 'n' roll show if someone wasn't carried out on a stretcher. Or if a handful of concertgoers didn't need to hold ice packs to their cheeks. The kind of show where people go home without a cut or five is an unsuccessful attempt at appearing to look rock 'n' roll. You might as well attend… More >>
  • Best Theater Show

    Arcade Fire, April 13 at Comerica Theatre

    It's not often a band plays a tiny mixed-use venue like Modified Arts on their first tour through Phoenix and the city's biggest theater, Comerica, on their second. But there aren't many bands like Arcade Fire. The standard-bearing indie band based in Montreal came through town in April, staging an incredibly memorable show that saw the band spot-on yet humble… More >>
  • Best Arena Show

    Lady Gaga, March 26 at US Airways Center

    When everyone's favorite pop weirdo stopped by US Airways Center in March, Lady Gaga brought the spectacle that follows her wherever she goes. That was to be expected. The woman who once wore a dress made of meat and showed up to the Grammys in a giant egg has a bizarre legacy to live up to, for sure, but seeing… More >>
  • Best Once-in-a- Lifetime Show

    Gorillaz, October 26, 2010, at Comerica Theatre

    There are some experiences in life that happen so rarely that one absolutely has to partake in them. Seeing Halley's Comet is one, as the famed celestial object makes it to our corner of the solar system only once every 76 years. Almost as rare is getting to watch Gorillaz performing a live gig in Phoenix. The British alt-rock/hip-hop music… More >>
  • Best Venue to See National Acts

    Mesa Arts Center

    Mesa Arts Center is known for bringing plays, guest speakers, and classical dance to the Valley, but the venue has established itself as a prime concert spot in recent years. Indie acts like The Weepies and The Decemberists are given equal footing with bluegrass acts like Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers and avant-jazz from Return to Forever. The… More >>
  • Best Venue for Local Acts

    The Trunk Space

    It's all true: The Trunk Space doesn't have the best sound system in town, it gets way too hot, and plenty of times the crowd smells like it needs a collective introduction to the deodorant aisle at Fry's. So why is it the best venue for local musicians? Simply because proprietors JRC and Steph Carrico sweat it out for local… More >>
  • Best Rockabilly Bar

    The Blooze Bar

    The Blooze Bar boasts the longest-running rockabilly night in the Valley — just take a second to think about how many tricked-out custom cars have sat in that parking lot, how many Reds have been casually smoked, and how many combs have nonchalantly been raked through grease-stiff hair under the bar's glowing electric blue neon sign. Some of the Valley's… More >>
  • Best Country and Western Nightspot

    Norton's Country Corner

    Don't go cruising into Norton's Country Corner wearing anything but standard cowboy gear — boots, Levis, and a Wrangler button-down — or you'll be in for some sideways looks from the regulars. Norton's is about as "country" as it gets, located out in Queen Creek, where the locals gather to sip cold ones and catch western bands tearing it up… More >>
  • Best Country Nightclub

    Handlebar J

    Handlebar J comes loaded with no shortage of honky-tonk history. Opened in 1966, the club has been under the management of the Herndon Brothers, whose family band, The Herndon Brothers Band, plays both kinds of music — country and Western — Wednesday through Sunday nights at the longstanding establishment, attracting visiting Nashville stars and Scottsdale urban cowboys alike. The bar… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Central Phoenix

    Shady's

    Celebrating its sixth anniversary, Shady's is the not-to-be-missed neighborhood bar in Central Phoenix. With its dark, retro interior, friendly bartenders, and amazing jukebox, Shady's has become a staple for service-industry employees and mature hipsters who like to throw back a few after a long day. Not only does the bar offer custom cocktails (try the signature Drink to Forget, a… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Downtown Phoenix

    The Lost Leaf

    You won't find booze or a jukebox. You can't play a game of pool here, and you sure as hell won't be able to stare mindlessly at a TV at this little circa 1920s house turned bar — which is exactly why we love it. What you will find is a huge selection of the best craft beer around (including… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, South Phoenix

    Fox & Hound Cocktail Lounge

    Boasting a retro look that's a kitschy mix of English décor (Renaissance-style oil paintings, wrought-iron fixtures, and stuffed deer heads) and more wingback chairs than your grandpa's wood-paneled den, the Fox & Hound gives off the vibe of an old-timey hunting lodge. Since it's located in South Phoenix instead of Southampton, you're more likely to see the blue-collar crowd enjoying… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, North Phoenix

    Do Drop Inn

    With a glowing vintage "Cocktails" sign illuminating the night, Do Drop Inn makes no bones about being the kind of place you go with one thing in mind: hammering a few drinks. The wood-paneled walls of this Sunnyslope standby make the place feel like a rec room straight out of the '70s, but it's hard to imagine an arts-and-crafts nook… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, West Valley

    The Hoot Owl

    Night owls in Glendale have been flying by this neighborhood favorite for more than 30 years, probably because of its homey atmosphere, relaxed vibe, and cheap booze. Duck inside its darkened interior and you'll witness drinkers of every stripe huddling and engaging in quiet conversation in the vintage-looking tuck 'n' roll leatherette booths lit by soft blue light. Meanwhile, regulars… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Southeast Valley

    What the Hell Bar & Grill

    Given its location in the dusty fringes of the Valley, it isn't surprising that a curious cross-section of society rendezvous at this Apache Junction juke joint. Much like in the fabled cantina in Star Wars, What the Hell is a bizarre bazaar, populated by beefy bikers, crusty desert denizens, duded-up cowboys, and Ed Hardy-clad 20-somethings. This mixing of the masses… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Tempe

    Casey Moore's Oyster House

    It doesn't get much more "neighborhood" then good ol' Casey Moore's. Situated on the outskirts of the coveted Maple-Ash neighborhood, droves of Tempe locals have called Casey's their home for more than 20 years. Whether you're mobbin' out with your hipster girlfriends on a Friday night, curing your Sunday hangover with a bloody Mary (made famous in these parts by… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Scottsdale

    T.T. Roadhouse

    There's no denying that Scottsdale has got the club scene locked down, but sometimes you don't feel like waiting in line for a drink or getting all gussied up to go have one. That isn't to say that T.T. Roadhouse is slouchy, but it's certainly relaxed. Styled as a British biker bar, the Roadhouse is stocked with ales and harder… More >>
  • Best Place to Find a One-Night Stand

    Myst Nightclub - CLOSED

    The music at Myst — deep, pounding house and flashy electronica — is loud. Real loud. That means you've got to get up close and personal to talk. And talking leads to touching and that leads to . . . well, you know. We're not saying that the glitzy lights and top-shelf liquor at Myst has never led to a… More >>
  • Best Underground After-Hours Open Mic

    The VYBe at Suite Twentyfive

    If we were to just give you the address of this sweet underground artist venue, it would take the fun out of being cool enough to know about the spot and the late-night musical magic happening within. There's no doubt that a cool vibe is very much required to attend The VYBe at Suite Twentyfive, but you can start by… More >>
  • Best After-Hours, Downtown Phoenix

    The Q+

    Quincy Ross and Jason Ayers throw great after-hours parties. On one mild Saturday night in July, they took over a building (which functions as a business by day) in downtown Phoenix for their "Sub: Confusion" party. The shindig started at 1 a.m. and filled the entire main room of the building. A slick sound system was set up, and DJs… More >>
  • Best After-Hours, Scottsdale

    Firehouse Bar & Grill

    Last call in Scottsdale is usually a madhouse, as hundreds of clubgoers and revelers spill into the streets and sidewalks of Old Town. Some folks who've had their fill of drinking and dancing usually call it a night, grabbing the nearest cab home. Those with more chutzpah (or energy for that matter), head for The Firehouse for some five-alarm, all-night… More >>
  • Best After-Hours Feast

    Renetto-Mario Etsitty's Post-First Friday Dinners

    You don't need a reservation to attend one of the lush, late-night banquets put on for local artists by Renetto-Mario Etsitty every First Friday. Just be a creative type who regularly participates in the monthly art walk and has the wherewithal to stay up late. The word-of-mouth gourmet spreads whipped up by the 36-year-old artist and sous chef at Phoenix… More >>
  • Best Hangover Breakfast

    Matt's Big Breakfast

    The morning after can be rough, and the last thing you want to do is stand outside in the scorching heat waiting for grub. Luckily, with a raging hangover you won't even roll out of bed until noon, and by then the line at Matt's Big Breakfast is nearly nonexistent — let the early birds stand in line pecking for… More >>

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