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Bars & Clubs

  • Best Place for a Twilight Drink

    El Chorro

    A few years ago, the elegant but crumbling old El Chorro — a Paradise Valley icon — was completely redecorated. On the inside, it doesn't look the same, but one thing no one changed was the view, and the patio is and always will be the best place to enjoy El Chorro. Another constant: You're here for the drinks, not… More >>
  • Best 21st Century Speakeasy

    Citizen R+D

    Scottsdale's cocktail lovers have been singing the praises of this tiny, semi-secret spot above Citizen Public House since it opened in 2011. Yes, the rules are strict and the prices steep, but then again, where else can you get a cocktail served in a freshly cracked coconut? And don't even get us started on the tableside gin or the flaming… More >>
  • Best Shot

    Pickle Shot, Palo Verde Lounge

    It's a self-explanatory concept — a shot of well tequila, chased with a half-shot of leftover pickle juice. It may sound gross or weird, but the briny, sour pickle juice completely cuts the burn of the tequila (and masks some of the not so high-end flavor). If you're still not sold, think of it this way — you'd typically pair… More >>
  • Best Punch

    Renegade by MOD - CLOSED

    Chef Michael O'Dowd may have stepped down from Kai, Arizona's most decorated restaurant, but he didn't entirely leave the theatrical side of dining behind when he opened his own restaurant, Renegade by MOD, this spring. And while the "American West"-inspired eats may not be the most accessible offerings, we're happy to belly up to the restaurant's spacious indoor-outdoor bar, where… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary

    Dick's Hideaway

    Wake up! It's a new day — and last night seems to be ruining it with the gift of a massive hangover. Never fear, Dick's Hideaway is here to smack the sick right out of you. Dick's take on the classic brunch cocktail is kicked up with a hefty dose of spice in the tomato juice mixture prepared special by… More >>
  • Best Martini

    Durant's

    For us, a good martini is as much about the ambiance as it is about what's in the glass, and Durant's delivers on both fronts. The seasoned bartenders know how to make a damn fine martini — whether you're looking for a classic or something more modern. And rest assured, you'll enjoy it in a seat where thousands before you… More >>
  • Best Specialty Cocktails

    Bar Crudo

    Imbibe your way to cocktail bliss at Bar Crudo in Arcadia. The ever-changing seasonal drink specials pretty much define craft cocktails. Freshly made herbal and fruity simple syrups, boutique bitters, and a host of fresh ingredients combine with top-shelf small-batch spirits to create some of the tastiest drinks in the Valley. You can taste the passion for mixology in every… More >>
  • Best Skinny Cocktail

    Skinny Chola Margarita at Barrio Queen

    When the drinking is done and the hangover is gone, it's those damn calories that always seem to stick around — souvenirs from sipping one too many rich cocktails. Fortunately, there are drinks out there for those who want to be health-conscious while still drinking themselves unconscious. Take the Skinny Chola Margarita at Barrio Queen. This light Latin beverage is… More >>
  • Best Sangria

    Rita's Kitchen

    A few years ago, we got our hands on the recipe for the red sangria from Rita's Kitchen, but try as we might, we just can't perfect the blend served at the casual restaurant at the Camelback Inn. Red wine, orange juice, vanilla, sugar, cut-up fruit, and — what? We suspect we weren't told the whole truth. But we can't… More >>
  • Best Wine Bar

    Kazimierz World Wine Bar

    Some might argue about how to pronounce the name (for the record, it's "Kaz-MEER-ehz"), but most locals can agree that Kazimierz World Wine Bar is the go-to spot for fine vino. As the more reclusive sister to restaurant Cowboy Ciao, Kazimierz makes you feel as though you've stepped out of Scottsdale and into your own underground speakeasy, complete with dark… More >>
  • Best Brewery

    SanTan Brewing Co.

    In a phrase popular among douchey business types, SanTan crushed it this year. Not only did the Chandler-based brewery pioneer the AmeriCAN Craft Beer Festival (which we named the year's best fest in this issue), they did it while opening a new 35,000-square-foot warehouse that soon will enable them to increase distribution outside the state. The past year also saw… More >>
  • Best New Brewery

    Fate Brewing Co.

    We knew Fate Brewing Co. owner and head brewer Steve McFate, with his experience at the Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery in Ridgeway, Colorado, was good at making beer. We just misjudged the madness of his mad skillz. For the past few months, Fate's been burning up the leadership boards on beer-rating sites with concoctions like his dank, grapefruity Double… More >>
  • Best Local Beer

    Orange Blossom Ale, Papago Brewing Company

    Every so often, you find a beer that is so incredibly delicious that it haunts your drinking regimen, popping into your mind every time you crack open a different brew. Like the one that got away, you want it, even though you've already got something else. Luckily, Papago Brewing Company's Orange Blossom Ale doesn't have to get away from you.… More >>
  • Best Patio Dining

    The House Brasserie

    According to chef Matt Carter, the stately tree that rises over the sprawling patio of The House, his newest restaurant set in a charming 1920s bungalow, was planted over 70 years ago and once was used as a Christmas tree by the home's previous occupants. If that isn't homespun enough to make you want to pull up a chair and… More >>
  • Best Beer Cocktail

    Gooseneck, Handlebar Tempe

    Generally, we're purists when it comes to beer — keep your shandy to yourself — but we make one exception, and that's for Handlebar's Gooseneck. The beer/liquor blend, which the Mill Ave bar also calls a Hopped Collins, is itself based on a classic cocktail called the Tom Collins, traditionally crafted with lemon juice, soda water, gin, and simple syrup.… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Central Phoenix

    Bink's Midtown

    Phoenicians, rejoice — well, actually, pretty much anyone outside of the vicinity of Carefree and therefore far from Café Bink can rejoice too, because the new Bink's Midtown location has made Kevin Binkley's heavenly cuisine even more accessible for the rest of us. The cozy, homey spot may not look like anything too fancy, but the finger food and appetizers… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Downtown Phoenix

    Bonjour Vietnam

    Drop in on this restaurant in downtown's San Carlos Hotel during weekdays from 3 until 6 p.m., when the deals are in full bloom. Most food options range from $5 to $8 during happy hour, including the crunchy, fresh, light and flavorful soft shell crab spring rolls. However, if you're not looking for healthy, the French onion soup is also… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, South Phoenix

    The House at Secret Garden

    Not every happy hour has to be so dang hip, ridden with experimental cocktails and a flavor-of-the-week menu. The House at Secret Garden proves this with a quaint, charming setting that is relaxed and entirely unpretentious. While the happy hour offerings are only available from a narrow 5 to 6:30 p.m. time slot Tuesday through Friday, it's definitely worth it… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, West Valley

    Irish Wolfhound Pub

    There are a lot of sports bars on this side of town, but comfy, approachable Irish pubs? Not so much. Which is exactly why we were so happy to stumble upon Irish Wolfhound Pub in Surprise. The restaurant and bar looks like nothing special from the outside, sure, but walk in and you'll find a modern pub with pool tables,… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, North Valley

    BLT Steak

    BLT Steak's happy hour just might be the best of the best. Every day from 5 to 7 p.m. the Paradise Valley restaurant slings some of the classiest cocktail and appetizer options known to the deal-obsessed. Make sure to come early because seats fill up quick. While that's a good sign, you wouldn't want to waste a moment of the… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Scottsdale

    Pig & Pickle

    Oh, Pig & Pickle. How quickly it's found a permanent place in our hearts for its savory and briny, sweet and salty combos that often feature its namesakes. Its greatness is really only enhanced during happy hour, when you can try out what all the fuss is about without shelling out too much money. The pork-centric menu features overloaded pork… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Tempe

    House of Tricks

    Some happy hours are about the ambiance, some the drink, some the deals. House of Tricks is one of those happy hours you drop into time and time again to get fed right. The seasonal menu is always evolving, but after years of tasting House of Tricks offerings, it's assured that, regardless of what's on the new menu, it's going… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour, Southeast Valley

    Barrelhouse American Kitchen & Cocktails

    Chandler has officially arrived on the culinary scene thanks to Barrelhouse American Kitchen & Cocktails. Located in an unassuming strip mall storefront off Alma School and Warner roads, the modest yet modern spot quickly gained attention with great food and unique drinks. You can take advantage of both options during happy hour Monday through Saturday from 4 until 6:30 p.m.… More >>
  • Best Poolside Happy Hour

    Lustre Rooftop Garden

    The grind of late-afternoon traffic in downtown Phoenix ain't so bad, particularly if you're like us and are watching it from three stories above. And perched alongside a gorgeous swimming pool with an elegant crafted cocktail in our hand. It's the sort of lofty situation that's available while checking out the happy hour scene up at the Lustre Rooftop Garden… More >>
  • Best Place to Be Seen

    The Lost Leaf

    Since 2007, the Lost Leaf has been the epicenter of downtown Phoenix's growth as a nightlife destination. For all intents and purposes, the rehabbed 1930s bungalow, with its gorgeous wood floors and exposed brick, is the unofficial hangout for downtown artists and musicians of a certain boho aesthetic. It's a good bet that if you run with either crowd, you'll… More >>
  • Best Place to People-Watch

    The Firehouse

    It's like clockwork. Around 9 p.m. on any given Friday or Saturday, Scottsdale's vast population (221,000 and change, last we checked) starts swelling by several thousand as the 21-to-35 crowd begins its weekly invasion of the city's downtown entertainment district. Stake out a spot on the outdoor patio at The Firehouse, conveniently located along one of the main drags into… More >>
  • Best Local Band

    ROAR

    ROAR's 2010 EP, I Can't Handle Change, is perfectly self-contained not just as music but as music-writing; it's frustratingly hard to avoid cliché autopilot when talking about it. It sounds like nothing so much as an earnest reimagining of Phil Spector's hermetic maximalism, and — voilà — Phil Spector is on the cover. The careful melodies and harmonies gradually draw… More >>
  • Best Tribute Band

    Cowboys N Hell

    The members of Cowboys N Hell are modest, above all things: When we asked them who the best tribute band in town was, earlier this year, they suggested the White Zombie aficionados in Grindhouse, on the grounds that they "get every titty in the house shaking, every time they play." We didn't do the titty math for Cowboys N Hell,… More >>
  • Best House DJ

    Tranzit/Juheun

    Given his ultra-packed schedule of weekly club shots, warehouse parties, production work, and remix sessions, Steven Chung does the work of two DJs. And, depending on when and where you catch the Scottsdale scene veteran performing, that sometimes is literally the case. Over the past few years, Chung has pulled sort of a Tyler Durden thing with two distinctive alter… More >>
  • Best DJ Duo

    Collective Chaos

    Despite the turmoil and discord implied by their moniker, things are rather harmonious with the DJ duo of Thomas James and Anthony Mastamonk. And we're referring to the utter listenability of the intricate and electro-infused mixes and bootlegs they create, as well as their interpersonal relations. "We don't really ever clash much on things," Mastamonk says. Well, there are the… More >>
  • Best Hipster DJ

    Boris, Saturday nights at Bikini Lounge

    It's Saturday night and you're in the mood to dance. You're tired of EDM and cover charges. You don't want to listen to Top 40s or old school hip-hop. Basically, you have two options now — stay at home and shimmy in your mirror to a Spotify playlist you made or head down to Bikini Lounge off Grand and 15th… More >>
  • Best Goth DJ

    DJ Apollynon

    Mark Peskin is a gigantic nerd, and proud of it, too. Like any successful geekazoid, the 34-year-old has parlayed his niche passion into getting paid. As DJ Apollynon, Peskin gets to combine his longstanding love affair with retro goth, industrial, and other doomy throwback genres at nightclubs and local fetish fetes with a particular yen for colorful cosplay. And he's… More >>
  • Best Dubstep DJ

    Liquid Stranger

    Somewhere up in the hinterlands of North Scottsdale, Martin Stääf is likely very busy crafting some of arguably the world's finest (and most brutal) dubstep tracks. The 34-year-old electronic musician and DJ, better known by his nom de guerre Liquid Stranger, is big on blending insane amounts of thuggish bass into his fierce mixes that he posts to his Soundcloud… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop DJ

    DJ M2

    Whatchu know about M2? Mention his name to other local DJs and you'll get nothing but mad respect for the esteemed platter jock (real name: Michael McDowell) and his meticulous mixing, cutting, scratching, and selecting talents. Ditto for folks from the Valley's hip-hop community and pretty much anyone else who's heard him dominate the decks on Power 98.3 during its… More >>
  • Best Rave DJ

    CIK

    David "CIK" Sankey has an aversion to the local club scene. The 36-year-old DJ is more likely to be found doing his thing at warehouses, event spaces, or off-the-radar dance fests in the desert. And what about the danceterias of Scottsdale or elsewhere? Eh, not so much. Frankly, he's more into either gigging for gigantic European crowds or Valley ravers,… More >>
  • Best Turntablist

    LES735

    Les Sias is nothing if not humble. Back in April, the 30-year-old local DJ and producer absolutely killed it during the Phoenix regionals of the DMC World Championships, but he modestly shrugs off any notion of being the best in town. A strong case could be made otherwise, based on his victory at the contest — part of the prestigious… More >>
  • Best Non-Turntablist Turntablist

    DJ Ruthless Ramsey

    Ramsey Higgins is quite prolific when it comes to the DJ game. He's down with Traktor, skilled with Serato, and knows his way around both a Numark and a pair of Technics 1200s. So skilled is the 36-year-old, who performs as Ruthless Ramsey, that he's also an instructor with Scottsdale Community College's illustrious DJ program. And this prof has a… More >>
  • Best Place to See Turntablists

    The Monarch Theatre

    Neither Sean "Senbad" Badger nor Pete "Supermix" Salaz are particular shy about their love for DJ Qbert. So after the Monarch Theatre co-owners, both of whom are considered ultra-talented DJs in their own right, got word that the renowned turntablist was eager to perform at their joint last November, Badger estimates it took "like two seconds" to book the event.… More >>
  • Best Dance Floor

    Smashboxx

    Subtlety has never been Smashboxx's style. (Hell, it's never been Scottsdale's style, period.) Like most other Old Town clubs, the overriding philosophy at this Indian Plaza favorite is to go all out and as over-the-top as possible. So when the proprietors decided to beef up the dance digs last October, they added more room by relocating the DJ booth, more… More >>
  • Best Weekly Dance Night

    Foul Play, Fridays at Bar Smith

    Thomy Hoefer is sort of a Renaissance man when it comes to nightlife. The DJ and visual artist has a knack for crafting ear-pleasing electro mixes, unique-looking club staging, and eye-catching video feasts, which are projected onto the walls at the events he helps promote. Oh, and he's good with cocktails, too. One of the latest things that Hoefer, who… More >>
  • Best Place to Find a Rave

    Arizona Event Center

    Raves and underground dance parties have a tendency to get messy at times, particularly those with colorful themes. Just ask Arizona Event Center owner Wayne Craig, since his cavernous Mesa venue has hosted a few such events in the past year that left things gloriously sloppy by the end of the night. To wit: The annual Bloodfest last October saw… More >>
  • Best Place to Hear EDM

    Wild Knight - CLOSED

    There's an important rule in the club world that any and every newbie DJ would be wise to follow: Never attempt to outdo the headliner. As in ever. Especially not at Wild Knight. You won't impress anybody, least of all the big-name artist you're trying to show up. And, even worse, if you pulled that shit at this Scottsdale hotspot,… More >>
  • Best Reboot

    Pub Rock

    In the Valley's music scene, change is sometimes a good thing. Yes, it's always a buzzkill when a favorite band or concert hall goes kablooey. But more often than not, something better will come along. Case in point: When longstanding rock bar Chasers was purchased by KUKQ's Nancy Stevens and concert/event production guru Jeff Stotler in 2012, it got a… More >>
  • Best Comeback

    Last Exit Live

    Confession time: When Brannon Kleinlein announced he was reopening his bygone venue Last Exit, we had a few doubts. Not about the man himself, since the 39-year-old is dialed into the Phoenix music scene, but rather the location he was moving into. Not only is the cozy music venue located along a confusing one-way stretch of Central Avenue, it's also… More >>
  • Best Venue for National Acts

    Crescent Ballroom

    Whichever way your tastes run — local or national, indie or iconic, hardcore or hip-hop — it's ultimately impossible to avoid Crescent Ballroom, which means it's a good thing there's no reason to avoid it. By day, it's a bar and lounge, soundtracked by free music and unsolicited burrito recommendations from your friends and acquaintances. At night, it's a remarkably… More >>
  • Best Venue for Local Acts

    The Sail Inn

    It's like that old weather joke that people in basically every state think they invented: If you don't like the music at The Sail Inn, wait five days. Actually, one day is usually enough. A given week might see a Grateful Dead tribute show followed up with an album-release party for an early-20-something dance-pop band. And in June, the place… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Metal Show

    Joe's Grotto

    Hosting a metal show is a stressful prospect, even if it doesn't come with all the Satanic accouterments parents worried about in the '80s. For one thing, nothing else in rock 'n' roll makes noises quite comparable to metal's guttaral screaming and layered, loud guitars; for another, no other genre has thrown off quite so many warring, not-quite-compatible subgenres. Without… More >>
  • Best Club Show

    Jeff Mangum

    Within a week of each other, two influential musicians making tentative returns to the public eye hit the Valley. It was difficult to pick Jeff Mangum over Aaron Carter of "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)," but the infamously reclusive genius behind Neutral Milk Hotel did a slightly better job of living up to the reputation that sprang up in his… More >>
  • Best Theater Show

    Jimmy Eat World

    After their customary three-year hiatus following 2010's Invented, the Mesa natives announced their eighth album and an Arizona tour in rapid succession in April. The album, Damage, was prototypically Jimmy Eat World; the tour was a little unusual. Bypassing Phoenix and Tucson entirely, Jim Adkins and company scheduled much smaller shows in not-quite-hotspots like Yuma, Wickenburg, Sierra Vista, and Casa… More >>
  • Best Arena Show

    Taylor Swift

    This has been a good year for Taylor Swift: The jokes about her various exes were finally played out, last year's Red continued to sprout hits, and she emerged, with that album's capital-e Extravaganza, as one of the most compelling arena acts of her generation. The category isn't labeled Best Arena Show Ever!!!, but it's close enough — in late… More >>
  • Best New Music Venue

    The Western

    We've heard The Western's ambiance described as "honky-tonk bar and restaurant without the Disney-esque trappings" of a honky-tonk bar and restaurant, which is exactly how it'll charm you: If you're the kind of person for whom boots will always feel a little like a Halloween costume, The Western just might make you comfortable. Brainchild of Charlie Levy and Tucker Woodbury,… More >>
  • Best New Nightclub

    Maya Day and Nightclub

    In Scottsdale, no one ever seems to stay satisfied with much of anything for too long. Hence the constant state of reinvention in the entertainment district, where the clubs gods have giveth and taketh away much in the past few years. They've been especially busy along Saddlebag Trail just south of Camelback Road, which has become Scottsdale's current "it" area.… More >>
  • Best Rock Club

    Yucca Tap Room

    That 99 percent of all the shows going off at the Yucca are free would be nearly enough reason to give this longtime Tempe bar such an honor. But even if owner Rodney Hu charged us a cover, we'd be hard-pressed to find a better all-around place to see music in the Valley, because it seems that just about every… More >>
  • Best Rockabilly Bar

    Rips Ales & Cocktails

    True story: The late outlaw country artist Waylon Jennings once filled the cozy interior of Rips with his dulcet croonings during a performance at the 16th Street bar way back in the day. Ditto for fellow legends Willie Nelson and Charley Pride, both of whom also performed inside the joint when local country singer Jimmy Aims ran it from the… More >>
  • Best Punk Bar

    Ice House Tavern

    Affectionately known as "the hockey bar" by those in the know, this low-key Arcadia drinking spot gleefully defies any conventional notions of punk rock. And that is exactly why it is the punkest bar around. For starters, it's very tidy. It's also not really that loud, thanks to a carpeted, low-ceilinged room, and patrons are more likely to politely sit… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Club

    Club Red/Red Owl

    Just like 50 Cent, we ain't gonna lie — Club Red/Red Owl is the go-to venue for hip-hop in the Valley. Fact. Not only for the sheer number of shows it hosts, but also the wide diversity of gifted lyricists and rhyme-spitters slinging game from its mics and stages. The double-sided Tempe club has had live hip-hop on lock in… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Night

    WTFunk? Fridays at Red Owl

    If you're looking to get up to speed on what's happening in the oft-underappreciated Valley hip-hop scene, WTFunk? Fridays is as close as you'll get to a cram school. Every month's WTF Funk? is packed with local MCs and DJs — not just the ones performing but the ones who are there to watch — and the venerable hip-hop night… More >>
  • Best Jazz Joint

    The Nash

    Before last fall, downtown Phoenix hadn't had much in the way of a dedicated jazz joint in like, well, a while. Lots of actual jazz musicians, yes, and a smattering of great bars that hosted their gigs, but no place that was entirely focused on the genre. Thanks to Jazz in AZ, however, that all changed in October when the… More >>
  • Best Blues Club

    The Rhythm Room

    The Rhythm Room isn't only a blues venue, and it's not the only blues venue in town. But Bob Corritore's 22-year-old venue is synonymous with blues in Phoenix anyway, and for good reason: It can't be beaten for sheer blues density, in the form of regular jam sessions from influential locals and the cream of each year's touring crop. For… More >>
  • Best Country & Western Nightclub

    Denim & Diamonds

    Eric Church's "Drink in My Hand" tends to rile the crowd up and incite activity at Denim & Diamonds on weekends, so brace yourself, buckaroo, for a tornado of two-steppin' and hollered sing-alongs when the chartbuster blares out here. Ditto for any of the other party-hearty new-country hymns that dominate the playlist. The Wrangler-clad masses at this barn-size Mesa megaclub… More >>
  • Best Country and Western Night

    Valley Fever, Sundays at Yucca Tap Room

    Valley Fever picked up a new venue to rotate out to when The Western opened earlier this year in Scottsdale, but its mission remains unchanged: Bring out the vintage country sounds nobody else is playing, and play them. Valley Fever doesn't discriminate on the medium — if the sound is right, they'll bring a record, a local act, or a… More >>
  • Best Country Bar

    Rusty Spur Saloon

    The Rusty Spur Saloon was around decades before Scottsdale earned its reputation as a fine place to buy and wear expensive watches, and it'll probably be around after the last Lincoln Blackwood has been buried in a luxury-truck graveyard in the desert. In the meantime, it'll be there to surprise people who go into Old Town expecting nothing but expensive… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    Brigett's Last Laugh

    There are a lot of very unnerving, questionable things about karaoke. You'll have to convince yourself you can sing. You'll have to convince yourself you can get your friends to sing. You'll have to convince all the people in front of you you can sing. You should not have to wonder when and whether a bar is even doing karaoke,… More >>
  • Best Karaoke with a Live Band

    Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill

    Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill was originally named Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill for Its Live Karaoke Events, but we suppose they thought it sounded silly. In any case, the live-action karaoke is still around, and if you've never made the leap from a MIDI backing track (maybe with a low-budget music video starring… More >>
  • Best Karaoke with Bootleg J-Pop Songs

    August Karaoke Box

    If you don't already spend a lot of time listening to syrupy Chinese ballads as loud as local ordinances will allow, your first visit to August Karaoke Box might prove a little intimidating. From minimally soundproofed booths, exchange-student cliques speaking every Asian language will be singing an unplanned mash-up of J-Rock, K-Pop, and American Top 40. At the front desk,… More >>
  • Best Open Mic Night

    Fatso's Pizza

    The difference between a good open mic night and a bad open mic night, besides the music itself, is how invested the venue is in it. Fatso's Pizza might not look or sound like a gathering spot for Phoenix's acoustic guitars, but every Thursday night Fatso's and guitarist Gram Benike come together to host an open mic that's gradually become… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Comedy Show

    Tempe Improv

    Comedy, as the saying goes, is tragedy plus time. At most stand-up joints, it's the standard formula for good jokes. At the Tempe Improv, however, it also sums up the drama the renowned establishment has endured over the past 16 months. In June 2012, the iconic club shut its doors after 25 years, following heated allegations by owner Mark Anderson,… More >>
  • Best Pub Quiz

    Brainstormers Pub Quiz, Tuesdays at Skeptical Chymist

    A word to the not-so-wise, fella: You needn't bother reaching for any of the thick volumes lining the walls of Skeptical Chemyst for any answers during its weekly pub quiz. Firstly, it's as off-limits as fishing your smartphone out of your pocket and hitting up Google. And second, those are all boring legal tomes and are just for show, dummy.… More >>
  • Best Arcade with a Bar

    Dave & Busters

    When it all boils down to it, all video games essentially are about one thing: escapism, pure and simple. You hit start, leave reality behind, and get in some CGI-animated wish fulfillment of the bullet-slinging, ass-kicking, or fast-driving variety; at least until your energy bar (or money) is exhausted. And at either of the Valley's two entries into the Dave… More >>
  • Best Bar with an Arcade

    Gypsy Bar

    Good friends can become bitter rivals when hanging out in Gypsy Bar's arcade, ahem, game lounge. Believe us, we've seen it happen, usually over one of its many player-versus-player sports games (like 2 Minute Drill or NBA Hoops) and definitely after imbibing something ice-cold and intoxicating from the large, fully loaded bar. Sure, egos might get a little bruised, and taunts… More >>
  • Best Place to Drink Guinness and Play OTB

    The Turf Irish Pub

    What are the two things Charles Bukowski loved more than women? Playing the ponies and drinking like a fish — if a fish drank beer. So if the poet laureate of the barroom were alive today and visiting Phoenix, where would he hang? No doubt at the Turf Irish Pub, where you can suck back the brew of your choice… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Pizza, Tempe

    Venezia's New York Style Pizzeria

    The best un-kept secret at Venezia's (besides the hero sandwiches) for the area's large population of cash-strapped college kids and underemployed recent grads is its very good handcrafted pizzas. The Montanile family, which opened the joint in 1995, serves up handcrafted pies with thin, crispy crusts, tangy homemade marinara, and 100 percent mozzarella cheese. You can get them whole or… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Central Phoenix

    Zipps Sports Bar & Grill

    High-fives and fist-bumps are common at this particular Zipps, dished out by either celebratory jock junkies or actual pro jocks themselves. That's because superstar athletes and retired greats from the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Cardinals, and other local teams have swung by Zipps over the years to glad-hand with fans, sign autographs, or just load up on its primo sports bar… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Downtown Phoenix

    Friday's Front Row

    It's not much of a mystery which particular team Friday's Front Row rallies behind, considering it's heavy on Sedona Red décor, teeming with Arizona Diamondbacks ephemera, and, uh, located inside Chase Field. The latter fact facilitates its most obvious amenity (and biggest draw): giving folks opportunities to catch the D-backs in action during their 81 home games each year. Setting… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, West Valley

    Red Embers Bar & Grill at Uptown Alley

    If the yardstick of any sports bar ultimately is the size, quality, and visibility of its screens, then Red Embers is the heavyweight champion of the West Valley. Most everyone else? Mere 90-pound weaklings when compared to this upscale bar and grill inside Surprise's labyrinthine Uptown Alley entertainment complex (read: bowling alley on steroids). Though not a sports bar in… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, South Phoenix

    CK's Tavern & Grill

    On game day in Ahwatukee, you'll find the serious sports fan at this friendly neighboorhood hub. It's easy to see why: about three-dozen flat-screen high-def TVs, subscriptions to all the major sports packages, a congenial atmosphere, a major-league selection of beers, and respectable bar-food options. In business for a nearly a decade, the family-run CK's also offers daily drink and… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, North Valley

    Connolly's Sports Grill

    Like North Phoenix itself, Connolly's Sports Grill might leave you with the subconscious urge to stretch out a little. It's not that it's big, just more open than you might be used to — an airy outparcel made artificially sports-bar-dark with blackout curtains. Well-spaced tables are all that stand between the entrance on one side and a well-stocked bar on… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Scottsdale

    Goldies Neighborhood Sports Cafe

    The best sports bar in Scottsdale doesn't look very much like a sports bar at all, which seems appropriate — from the outside, Goldies could easily be a trendy breakfast place or the kind of dentist's office that makes you worry about how much your filling is going to cost. Inside, things are a little more conventional, which is good… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Tempe

    Lucky Break

    The sports bar industry continues to attempt to redefine itself with establishments striving to offer more than cheap domestic beer in pitchers, pathetic frozen pizzas and wings, aging TVs, and boorish dudes in football jerseys. It's all about upscale these days. You know, a nice place, where you can feel comfortable watching the game in mixed company because some loudmouth… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar, Southeast Valley

    Stadium Club

    The jock and nerd crowds supposedly don't mix well, right? Maybe only in hackneyed movies, bro, because things are a bit different at the Stadium Club. The brainiac brigade and sports nuts seem to get along like peas and carrots whenever the twice-weekly Team Trivia competitions on Wednesdays and Fridays coincide with some can't-miss game airing on the two-dozen high-end… More >>
  • Best Pool Hall

    BullShooters

    Bull Shooters comes by its Best Pool Hall crown in one obvious way — it boasts 44 tables, and they're all better maintained than the sad one that sits moldering all alone in the average bar. But tables aside, this place'll keep you around between games with its grasp of all the other ways people who would go someplace with… More >>
  • Best Smoking Patio

    Hazelwood's First Place Sports Grill

    Taking a drag at Hazelwood's isn't much of a drag, since the 2,000-square-foot smoking patio's a fairly pleasant place. A gigantic metal awning cloisters things from harsh sunlight, while the shoulder-high cement fence dampens the traffic noise from Indian School Road. Several ceiling fans keep the fresh air circulating, and strategically placed air conditioners and heat lamps make temperatures tolerable,… More >>
  • Best Go-Go Boys

    BS West

    There's nary a trace of body fat to be seen gracing the chiseled shapes of BS West's hunky crew of go-go boys. It's to be expected, considering that these musclebound specimens of hunkitude not only practically live at the gym but get in upwards of four hours of hardcore cardio shaking their nearly naked moneymakers during twice-weekly appearances at the… More >>
  • Best Go-Go Girls

    Martini Ranch - CLOSED

    Martini Ranch's upstairs Shaker Room is aptly named, considering the vast amount of hip-shimmying and rump-bumping that gets unleashed between its walls on weekends. The most eye-catching booty shakers in the place, however, typically are the go-go girls prancing on the bar, steel boxes, or any of five different stripper poles. The leggy, scantily clad dancers and their sexy moves… More >>
  • Best Strip Club

    The Candy Store

    The sweet strip club thrills doled out at The Candy Store pack much more of a kick than your average sugar buzz — and it's almost as inexpensive. The North Phoenix topless showclub charges only $5 to get in after 6 p.m. nightly (with no cover on Sundays), various drink deals are offered throughout the week, and there's a coupon… More >>
  • Best Place to See Strippers and Rockers

    Elite Cabaret at 910 Live

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a single strip club in the Valley that doesn't feature rock 'n' roll blaring as exotic dancers bump and grind away. Elite Cabaret at 910 Live is no exception, as its music mix is heavy on classic jams from the likes of Gary Glitter, Cheap Trick, and The Doors. Thing is, this Tempe strip club… More >>
  • Best Gay Dance Club

    Charlie's

    DJ Tsunami has a secret for getting things moving at places like Charlie's: "In an LGBT club," he tells us, "you target the males." And when largely young and decidedly fashionable gay guys mosey into the notorious cowboy-themed establishment during his late-night sets on Tuesdays and Saturdays, he rocks their bodies (and, thus, the party) with rhythmic pop, urban dance,… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Nu-Towne Saloon

    Nu-Towne Saloon is sort of a scrappy place, and we're not saying that because of all the rough trade that stops by. This East Phoenix gay bar landmark and grand dame of the scene first opened near the equally historic Tovrea Castle in 1971 and has survived a lot of drama throughout its four-decade lifespan. We're talking recessions, the fickleness… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    Zoan

    At Zoan, the drinks are strong, the social scene is busy, and the thrills come cheap. Rhonda Walden, longtime owner of this lesbian-oriented Melrose Curve mainstay, keeps her die-hards and girl groupies happy with daily drink specials and free entertainment four nights a week, including open mic on Mondays and karaoke on Wednesdays. Even livelier times, however, come on the… More >>
  • Best Place to Find a One-Night Stand

    The Mint

    Daft Punk's newest chart-scorcher, "Get Lucky," gets bumped almost hourly at The Mint, and it's a rather fitting anthem for this Old Town ultra-lounge's libertine vibe. Its busy social rites and the packed milieu of its weekend scene offer ample opportunities for those on the prowl, whether they're looking for some face time or something entirely more carnal. After all,… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    Royale Lounge

    If things look a little, ahem, cleaner than usual inside the Royale, it's because some changes have been taking place over the past year. Proprietor Mark Bolin, who also owns the equally iconic Do Drop Inn and Wanderin, sprung for new vinyl fixtures around the bar, ditched that old hot nuts dispenser (gasp), and had his staff remove the inch… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Central Phoenix

    Chopper John's

    Motorcycle aficionado John McCormick bought the former home of Warsaw Wally's and 26th Street Blues Bar in 2008 and quickly turned it into an amiable drinking hole. It's in the darkened black-and-red environs where urbane 20-somethings and downtown rocker types comfortably rub shoulders with hard-partying mustachioed bikers and neighborhood barflies. The diverse crowd is just one of many appealing elements… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Downtown Phoenix

    Seamus McCaffrey's

    The convivial vibe at this venerable downtown Irish pub is as intoxicating as the surfeit of firewater behind the antique wooden bar — and just as potent. Laughter and cheery banter spill from Seamus McCaffrey's pub's patio and perpetually open door onto Monroe Street on an almost nightly basis, getting louder as said spirits (including its wealth of imported U.K.… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, South Phoenix

    Cactus Jack's Ahwatukee Tavern

    Everything seems bigger at Cactus Jack's, which is one of its many charms. Well drinks come in pint glasses and aren't stingy on booze, daily happy hour food and alcohol deals offer big-time savings, and the $3.99 brats served on Saturdays are downright hefty. Plus, the digs at this Ahwatukee neighborhood bar not only are spacious but loaded with distractions… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, West Valley

    Tony's Cocktail Lounge

    An amiable neighborhood spot with the soul of a dive bar, Tony's offers its patrons the best of both worlds with heavyweight pours, sporty thrills, and an impressive (for a gin joint, that is) beer selection. And though the Glendale favorite features a spit-and-polish vibe, new-ish carpet, and faux brick from a remodel a few years back, its cocktail lounge… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, North Valley

    The Blooze Bar

    Hang out at the Blooze long enough and eventually you'll cross paths with its enigmatic and unforgettable owner, Tumbleweed. And, yes, most of the wild tales you've heard about this mountain of a man (whose enormous salt-and-pepper beard puts the dudes from Duck Dynasty to shame) are likely true. And his establishment is more or less a monument to his… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Scottsdale

    Closing Soon Saloon

    First, the good news: The Closing Soon won't be doing that anytime soon, so there's plenty of time to visit this Scottsdale dive institution. Just head up 68th Street and look for the word "BAR" painted in tall white letters and surrounded by twinkling Christmas lights (natch) on its front window. Second, a few patrons might eyeball you upon entry,… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Tempe

    Baseline Pub

    If it happens to be your first-ever time ever inside the Baseline Pub and co-owner Tom Panopoulos is about, don't be surprised if a free shot somehow winds up in front of you. The 52-year-old proprietor is known to occasionally offer a complimentary dram of spirits to newbie customers (usually after barking "Get 'em a shot" at his bartenders), a… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Southeast Valley

    Jupe's

    Jupe's isn't exactly what you'd call stylish, but it's certainly charming as hell. A homespun and comfortably shabby townie bar serving Mesa drinkers since 1982, it's operated by an amiable clan of Midwestern transplants who keep the lighting low, the drink prices even lower, and a freezer stocked with frosty mugs. Named for the family's dearly departed patriarch, whose portrait… More >>
  • Best Place to Stay Up Late on a Sunday Night

    4-2-10 Sundays at El Hefe Super Macho Taqueria

    As is widely thought in some circles, Sundays are supposed to be a day of rest. That obviously doesn't include the party fiends that cram into Scottsdale's El Hefe every week for one final fete before the weekend's done. Kicking off in the afternoon, 4-2-10 Sundays are five-alarm ragers of beats, booze, and scandalous behavior that typically go past midnight… More >>
  • Best After-Hours

    Karamba

    It's last call, which typically means hitting the bricks, hitting up fast food, then hitting the sack, right? Maybe for you, quitter, but we're not letting the state-mandated buzzkill end our night. We're bound for Karamba, where after-hours adventures await and the party keeps going up until 4 a.m. on weekends. And once the taps are turned off and the… More >>
  • Best Way to Get Back to Your Car

    Swift Rides

    It never fails. Every single weekend, Swift Rides manager Matt Simon gets asked the same annoying question by potential fares and inebriated coeds: Do you go all the way to North Scottsdale? And the answer, as always, is no. Same for Tempe, Mesa, or any other location more than a few miles away from Old Town Scottsdale or the entire… More >>
  • Best Vintage Cocktails

    Mabel's on Main

    Speakeasies are totally awesome and all, but when it comes to getting our hands on an old-school drink that doesn't require a top secret password or a 30-minute wait, our go-to spot is Mabel's on Main. From the outside, the nondescript patio and building do nothing to indicate what you'll find inside: wingback chairs, dark wooden bar, and leather booths… More >>
  • Best Vintage Bar Games

    The Little Woody

    As old-school gamers at heart, we're partial to any sort of quarter-fed thrills of a throwback nature. So when The Little Woody opened its side room filled with retro bar games last November, it gave us yet another reason to be twitterpated with the place. It does for old, wood-paneled rec rooms what the Arcadia bar did for slummy dives,… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    MacAlpine's Soda Fountain

    Now that iPods have themselves been obsolete for almost five years, it's important to know exactly why you're still looking for a jukebox. It's definitely not the selection, though the selection is important. It's not the sound quality, either, though the warmth of vinyl probably would take your mind off all the MP3s on your phone. The point of a… More >>
  • Best Valley Music Legend

    Hans Olson

    Hans Olson arrived in Phoenix from San Bernadino, California, in the late '60s, not long after many of the town's musical rising stars — like Alice Cooper and Mike Condello — had departed for bigger cities. With self-deprecating wit, the guitarist, songwriter, and blues harp-blower says there was no one else around to keep him from becoming the city's biggest… More >>
  • Best Vintage Nightclub

    Apollo's Lounge

    God, we love this job. It seems obvious now that there's an online history of greater Phoenix gay bars (other than our Facebook friends list), but we never thought about it before. Inspired by a random remark at a party a couple of years ago, we were able to confirm, at www.azgays.com, not only that what is now Apollo's Lounge… More >>
  • Best Vintage Concert Venue

    Celebrity Theatre

    When your parents were just gleams in your grandparents' eyes, Phoenix had few venues for popular music concerts. (This was also when pop encompassed just about every genre.) There was the Coliseum, Sun Devil Stadium, the original Compton Terrace (eventually), and, since 1963, Celebrity Theatre, which was — and still is — the classy hall with the rotating stage. The legroom… More >>
  • Best Vintage Restaurant

    Don & Charlie's

    Back in the good ol' days of baseball, players could be alarmingly fat, surprisingly skinny, and just about everything in between and still be considered professional athletes — not the 'roided-up monsters of the past 15 years. And it's these men whose deeds are enshrined at Don & Charlie's, the 32-year-old steak house in Scottsdale. It's more or less the… More >>

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