Forget about the DJs, the glitz, the glamour, and the excitement of the club scene -- sometimes you just want a cheap drink in a comfortable place to meet up with your friends to gossip over a cocktail. A place where everybody knows your name.
Welcome to the coveted neighborhood bar.
There's plenty of great spots around town to stop in and grab a drink, but these happen to be our favorite neighborhood waterholes.
10. The Hoot Owl, Glendale -- A blast from the '70s past, this 30-year-old-plus bar is worth a trip to the West Valley just to check out the décor. The retro strip mall hideaway is decked out with big, tufted leather booths, a pool table, and a ridiculous amount of caricatures. The homey atmosphere is perfect for wasting a Tuesday afternoon drinking with the regulars or knocking back ultra-cheap cocktails after a west-side thrift store excursion.
9.Time Out Lounge, Tempe -- Across the street from the popular Yucca Tap and a few miles down the road from Tempe's infamous Palo Verde (and Casey Moore's) sits the secluded TO. Tempe drinkers flock to this establishment for dirt-cheap drinks, plenty of pool, and even a hug or two from hands-on owner Laura. The Internet jukebox plays everything from Lady Gaga to Morrissey to the occasional Nickelback, the comfy booths are some of the best hiding spots in the East Valley, and the ladies behind the bar pour a mean drink. Just don't piss the girls off -- they all have tempers and they're not afraid to toss your ass right on the sidewalk.
8.SideBar, Phoenix -- The intersection of Seventh Avenue and McDowell Road may be going to the corporate birds but at least the F.Q. Story And Willo locals can still escape to this independent neighborhood cocktail lounge that's perched above a Starbucks and a Pei Wei. SideBar's friendly barstaff serves up some of the highest quality cocktails (fresh-squeezed juices! Horchata martinis!) in the quaint, contemporary setting. Fridays and Saturdays are prime nights for the neighborhood trend setters but you can almost always find a spot to kick back and people-watch.
7.British Open Pub, Scottsdale -- It's dark, it's a little dreary, and if you aren't a regular, you might get a few odd looks but when the South Scottsdale locals are looking to get away from the packed bars along Scottsdale Road, they hit this neighborhood strip mall bar for a pint or two of Boddingtons or a classic cocktail. The cavernous interior is brought to life by a semi-rowdy crowd of unpretentious Scottsdale drinkers and the cocktails are poured strong by the friendly ladies behind the bar. Live music happens on occasion and the English-style grub isn't half bad.
6.The Little Woody, Arcadia -- We were quite sad when we heard our favorite Arcadia dive bar, The Great Escape, shut its doors -- and then we saw what The Vig folks did with the space. The Little Woody is the furthest thing from a "dive," but it still manages to keep the dark, cozy neighborhood bar feel. It's also, hands down, one of the coolest tiny bars in the city. Beware: The cozy lodge feel and the ultra-friendly bar staff have the ability to turn evening into night. Stay away from The Codger (one can of Old Style + one shot of Old Grand Whiskey) unless you plan on having The Vig Rig drive you home. Stick with their $5 pints of local brews or one their specialty crafted cocktails.
5.Jupe's, Mesa -- Yes, Jupe's is a grungy dive bar but it's a neighborhood dive bar, which is why it made our list. Jupe's is nothing fancy (you'll find it in a run-down strip mall on the border of Mesa and South Tempe), but it sports a nice pool table, a good set of darts, and a jukebox. The beers are cold, the jello shots are tasty, and the close-knit regulars range from the tattooed 20-somethings to the seasoned barflies. Don't let them scare you off; they eventually warm up to newcomers.
4.Casey Moore's Oyster House, Tempe -- When ASU's in session, the expansive patio of this Tempe neighborhood hangout may resemble more of a super-stylish frat party than a bar for the locals, but if you look beyond the denim shorts with stockings and striped tank tops you can find most of the Maple-Ash neighborhood enjoying a cold beer at the back bar. This Tempe staple started out as just a small watering hole in an old house and has expanded into one of the biggest and best patio bars in the area. Drink prices are moderate, and the food could be better, but quirky locals and the efficient staff keep us coming back.
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3.TT Roadhouse, Scottsdale -- Leave your Affliction shirts at home, boys and ladies. We suggest you take your bedazzled back pockets some place else, because they won't get you far in this South Scottsdale tavern. The no-frills bar is home to a eclectic mix of neighborhood 20- and 30-somethings sporting full-sleeve tattoos and black shirts (and a few ties) enjoy ice-cold cans of PBR. The crowd can be a little rough at times, and it's decorated to resemble a biker bar, but once your favorite tune is playing on the classic jukebox and one of the beautiful bartenders puts a drink in front of you, you'll feel right at home.
2.Tuck Shop, Phoenix -- Smack dab in the heart of the Coronado Historic District sits the neighborhood's favorite spot for handcrafted cocktails and amazing small plates in a sleek, modern setting. The refurbished historic building is the perfect place to meet with friends when you need some thing a little more upscale than the Royale but with a laid-back atmosphere. The charming bar (and restaurant) is open only from 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, which puts a damper on our dreams of Sunday afternoon vodka tonics made with housemade tonic water and Monday evening Dark and Stormies but that just makes them taste that much sweeter when they're open.
1.The Lost Leaf, Downtown Phoenix -- Ever since this house turned bar opened the doors back in 2007, it's been the go-to spot for relaxing downtown drinkin'. You won't find a pool table or a TV, but the great artwork on the exposed brick walls, usual shenanigans from the locals and the live bands and DJs should keep you well entertained after 9 p.m.