BEST PLACE TO DEBUT YOUR DREADLOCKS

Sail Inn

Sail Inn
Poor hippies. Mill Avenue used to be a place where patchouli and sage were always in the air and the irie goodwill ran wild. Now, it would be a miracle to find so much as a drum circle that wasn't broken up by the cops in five minutes. Fortunately for the city's disgruntled Deadheads, dread heads, parrot heads and maybe even a few redheads, there's the Sail Inn. This place has taken its nautical theme and run with it. The main dining area has shiplike wood paneling and a Day-Glo aquarium mural decorating the wall behind the stage. There's Phish on the jukebox and $5 beer in generous-size pitchers. And the live music that ranges from bluegrass to reggae to Grateful Dead covers to a sorta Middle Eastern-influenced group called Maruma is perfect for dancing in long twirly skirts or shaking dreadlocks to the beat.

Fibber Magees
Irish pubs in the U.S. like to brag about their "authenticity" -- Guinness on tap and a bartender in a silly cap with a pompom. Luckily, the Valley's Irish pubs are a little more true to themselves than most. For atmosphere, we'll take Fibber Magee's. The wooden floor creaks like the ships used during the potato famine; stained-glass windows advertise the homeland's beers. Penciled renditions of James Joyce and an ancient Irish bicycle sit on the walls. On packed Friday and Saturday nights, the bar offers music, mostly from bands that play traditional Irish folk tunes, i.e., the most festive drinking music on Earth. The prevailing spirit unleashes what the Irish call craic, an insatiable desire to be merry, lit and carefree.

Of course, we mean "dive" in the most affectionate sense of the word. Chez Nous is a Phoenix institution because it's so darn welcoming -- as unpretentious as it gets, and that applies to the drink prices, too. Frankly, it's impossible to bar hop once you stop by here, because you'll find no reason to venture elsewhere. It could be high noon outside, but it's always a nighttime adventure inside the dimly lighted bar. As the house band plays favorite funk hits, the minuscule dance floor gets packed with the most diverse, jubilant crowd in town. Whether you're dressed up or down, nursing a martini or knocking back beers, you'll fit right in at Chez Nous.

Readers' Choice: Chez Nous

Girls have always been about having fun. The Biz is a cornerstone of the gay community that has been housing local lesbians since '93. Live bands play from time to time, but the real draw is the DJs, who play eclectic dance music from Top 40 hits to patron requests (yes, they actually will play the song that you ask for). There's also a karaoke night and weekly drink specials to pack the house. If you want to fit in, we suggest ordering a beer served in and drunk from a mini-pitcher. If you're looking for a certain style to your woman, the Biz will definitely have her there. Always pulling in the largest and most diverse crowd, the place is also receiving a much-needed face-lift, and more rest rooms are being added. So expect a bit of change to this classic bar.

Readers' Choice: Ain't Nobody's Bizness

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