Dive In: A Field Guide to Neighborhood Dives and Bars in Metro Phoenix

Phoenix's Royale Lounge.
Phoenix's Royale Lounge.
Lauren Cusimano

It’s hard to nail down a definition for the term “dive bar.” Outlaw country singer David Allen Coe used the phrase “Where bikers stare at cowboys who are laughing at the hippies,” in 1976, and that may still apply today.

A few common denominators apply. Dives have full-service bars, usually close at 2 a.m., and are often so dark, it’s tough to tell the time of day. If there’s no bike rack, it doesn’t mean you can’t bring your rig inside or lock it somewhere. Other telltale signs include pressboard walls, bathroom graffiti, and maybe a bucket of sand serving as an ashtray/doorstop somewhere on the premises. But above all, almost every dive is considered a neighborhood bar — a place where the bartender knows your name, and, more importantly, your drink.

With that, here is a breakdown of dive bars in neighborhoods and cities across the Valley where you can find chatty regulars, sing-alongs, and cheap drinks.

Wander in to Wanderin if you want to party.
Wander in to Wanderin if you want to party.
Lauren Cusimano

Arcadia Outskirts

Wanderin

4140 East McDowell Road

602-275-1062

Opens at: 6 a.m. daily

Accepts Credit Cards ($10 minimum)

Bike Rack: No

Opened in 1972, Wanderin has always gone by that name, according to the manager, Joyce, who’s been here for 14 years. The Wanderin offers pool tables, dart machines, card tables, an internet jukebox, karaoke, and an L-shaped bar for just sitting and drinking. Food ranges from the vending machine at the entrance to pizza, pickles, and popcorn. There’s also a cool Kraken Black Spiced Rum 3D octopus on display behind the bar. Best thing about this place: The patron murals on the west-facing side of Wanderin are clearly from another, beautiful era.

Gypsy's Roadhouse.
Gypsy's Roadhouse.
Lauren Cusimano

Gypsy’s Roadhouse

5122 East McDowell Road

602-286-9251

gypsysroadhouse.com

Opens at: 10 a.m. daily

Accepts Credit Cards

Bike Rack: Yes

Formerly The Lark, Baja Red’s Cantina, and Daisy Duke’s (and back-dropped by Papago Park), Gypsy’s Roadhouse is named for the wife of owner and cook Bill Voss. This biker-themed bar was once packed with Motorola employees, and referred to as the “Building L” of the complex that once existed across the street during the Lark days. Now Gypsy’s Roadhouse has a full menu, darts, karaoke, live music, and free pool on Monday and Tuesday. Best thing about this place: Retirees call their section of the bar “Heaven’s Waiting Room.” Wisconsin native and 30-year regular Rich Pollack will let you know, “I only drink alone or when I’m with somebody.”

Break Room Bar & Grill

4729 East McDowell Road

602-267-1010

www.breakroombarandgrill.com

Opens at: 10 a.m. daily

Accepts Credit Cards

Bike Rack: No

One of the oldest buildings in the area, Break Room Bar & Grill is a stand-alone bar that used to be The First Quarter and Johnny’s East Side. The Break Room used to just be the bar area, according to Linette, a bartender and former patron for 15 years, and was expanded to include the four-pool table area. Other activities include dart tournaments, karaoke, poker, and live comedy — and you can reserve the place for parties. Best thing about this place: Their full menu includes Bank Shot Appetizers, Run the Table Wings, Scratch Handmade Burgers, Bullseye Sandwiches, Hat-Trick Pizza, and Hot Seat Favorites.

A standing offer at Aguila's Hideaway.
A standing offer at Aguila's Hideaway.
Lauren Cusimano

Avondale

Aguila’s Hideaway

1235 North Dysart Road, Avondale

623-932-9394

www.facebook.com/aguilashideaway

Opens at: 11 a.m. daily

Accepts Credit Cards

Bike Rack: No

You really need to know how to get to Aguila’s Hideaway to have any hope of finding it. (Hint: It’s nestled behind Dysart Liquor.) Once Wendy Jack’s Hideaway, and just Hideaway, this historic establishment was built as a bomb shelter, and opened in 1962 as an underground bar in the dry city of Avondale, according to owner Javier Aguila. An above-ground bar and kitchen were built in 2006, and both levels offer plenty of seating, TVs, and of course, inexpensive drinks. The newly renovated underground part goes nightclub Thursday through Saturday, while the surface level offers pool, darts, karaoke, and arcade games. Best thing about this place: During the dry days, Avondale law said no alcohol could be sold on the premises, but Hideaway won because they were selling alcohol below the premises.

A dapper dude at Roman's Country Line.
A dapper dude at Roman's Country Line.
Lauren Cusimano

Roman’s County Line

10540 West Indian School Road #8

623-877-8191

Opens at: 11 a.m. daily

Upcoming Events

Cash Only

Bike Rack: No

Though technically in Phoenix, Roman’s County Line has had the surrounding Avondale and Villa De Paz neighborhoods two-stepping since it opened in 1991. The second installment of Alabama-born owner Roman after Roman’s Oasis opened in 1988, Roman’s County Line features live music, lots of dancing and lessons, plenty of seating, Texas Hold ’Em, shuffleboard, darts, and off-track betting. Best thing about this place: There is so much country décor you’re amazed the walls are still standing.

Phoenix's The Recovery Room.
Phoenix's The Recovery Room.
Lauren Cusimano

Christown

Recovery Room

2027 West Bethany Home Road

602-246-6456

Opens at: 10 a.m. daily

Accepts Credit Cards ($10 minimum)

Bike Rack: No

As the worn sign indicates, the Recovery Room has been around since 1984. Features include four pool tables, an internet jukebox, seven TVs, an arcade game area, and a Lethal Weapon 3 pinball machine. Plus there’s some fun, like the buffalo head hung above the Big Buck Hunter Pro machine, and the Bedrock-looking walls behind the bar. Best thing about this place: It used to be a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Just look around.

Notable past patrons of Rips.
Notable past patrons of Rips.
Lauren Cusimano

Coronado

Rips Bar

3045 North 16th Street

602-266-0015

www.facebook.com/rips.bar.7

Opens at: 6 a.m. daily

Accepts Credit Cards ($5 minimum)

Bike Rack: Yes

Previously the Pick Lick House, Dodge City Saloon, Dutch Inn, Bourbon Street Blues, Poca Poca, and a sandwich shop, Rips Bar has been under that name for 15 years. According to Davey Tanberg, owner since 2009, the unique architecture of Rips is credited to a Native American protégée of Frank Lloyd Wright. Rips offers pool, arcade games, pinball, darts, 80s nights, and live music from local and touring rockabilly, punk, metal, etc. bands. Best thing about this place: These are the former drinking grounds of Waylon Jennings and Charlie Pride, and there are photos of them with former bar owners.

Royale Lounge

2428 North 16th Street

602-253-2217

Opens at: 10 a.m. daily

Cash Only

Bike Rack: No

The Royale Lounge has been serving drinks to the Coronado neighborhood for more than 60 years — though not always under that name — according to Kim, a bartender here for six years. Kim says they get a diverse crowd at the Royale, from lawyers to kids in bands to artists — much like the neighborhood itself. The Royale is a smallish room with a pool table, claw machine, internet jukebox, TVs behind the bar surrounded by string lights, card tables, darts, and pinball. Snacks range from egg rolls, pizza, and chicken nuggets to popcorn. Best thing about this place: That classic, brilliantly red neon “Cocktails” sign seen off 16th Street.

Gilbert Heritage District

Champions Sports Saloon

211 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert

480-545-9669

Opens at: 10 a.m. daily

Accepts Credit Cards ($10 minimum)

Bike Rack: Yes

Found on the main drag in downtown Gilbert, Champions Sports Saloon has been some sort of bar since the 1940s, according to Lindsay, a bartender on her 16th year at Champions who will eventually call you “babe.” Amenities include pool tables, TVs, darts, pinball, arcade games, and retro Arizona sports team posters. They also have snacks, a deep fryer, and a pizza oven, or you can bring in food from one of the many surrounding restaurants (hint: Lindsay likes the cornbread from the nearby Joe’s Real BBQ). Champions also hosts poker on Tuesday nights and dart leagues, plus an annual charity dart tournament. Best thing about this place: As this joint was once the Copper Coin, you’ll find pennies beneath a layer of epoxy at the bar.

Glendale

Overtime Lounge

5304 North 59th Avenue, Glendale

623-939-2576

Opens at: 6 a.m. daily

Cash Only

Bike Rack: No

The Overtime Lounge is another place with a lot of activity. There’s an enclosed smoking patio, two pool tables, TVs, a claw machine, and a dedicated arcade game area. There’s also a lengthy bar, the westernmost point of which has been dubbed the “Horny Corner” thanks to a little wooden sign dangling above patrons. It’s been serving thirsty customers of eastern Glendale and Maryvale for 30 years, give or take, according to the manager, Bonnie, who started off as a patron 10 years ago. Best thing about this place: During a karaoke rendition of “Leader of the Pack,” an Indian motorcycle might roll through the front door to assist with the revving effects.

Jimbo’s Bar & Grill

12224 North 51st Avenue, Glendale

602-298-1500

www.facebook.com/jimbossportsbarandgrill

Opens at: 7 a.m. daily

Accepts Credit Cards

Bike Rack: No

This northwest Valley haunt is more like an adult activity center. At Jimbo’s Bar & Grill, you can grab a stool at the horseshoe bar, order off a full menu (including the famed wine burger), put on your jam at the internet jukebox, post up by one of the TVs or projectors, and play pool, darts, or shuffleboard. There’s also exposed plywood, a urine trough in the men’s room, and a sweet little retro, martini glass-adorned sign out front. Best thing about this place: Patrons get a free breakfast — including three eggs, two bacon, two sausage, hash browns, and toast — with purchase of a drink from 8 a.m. to noon.

Goodyear

Roman’s Oasis

16825 West Yuma Road, Goodyear

623-932-0922

Opens at: 11 a.m. daily

Cash Only

Bike Rack: No

When Roman opened his Oasis in 1988, he could count about four houses that he could see from the premises, according to the manager, Travis. In fact, the Sarival Avenue exit to Roman’s off Interstate 10 was only a recent addition. Roman’s Oasis is the kind of place where they offer both kinds of music — country and western. Roman passed in 2012, but the Oasis lives on with dance lessons, Texas Hold ’Em, a full kitchen, two dance floors, shuffleboard, live music, and cold beer. Best thing about this place: the John Deere equipment, wagon wheels, and a comically large chicken as roadside décor.



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