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Readers' Choice for Best Bar Food: Bar Nun
Unfortunately, most bars around here serve it cold, in a frosty glass, with no head. But we stumbled upon the Friendly Irish Pub quite by accident -- and much to our delight. Not only are the people quite friendly at the Friendly, but they know how to pour and serve the nectar of the white and pasty, for a shocking $2 a pint.
No, we're not kidding. Sit down at the long oak bar, light up a cigarette (one of the few smoker-friendly establishments in Mesa) and imbibe the dark liquid, or order anything from the staggeringly complete selection of libations. The pub has more cowboy hats than any Irish bar in the universe, but the happy hour is hopping, the beer is perfect, the food is good, and the pool sharks are ready to take your money after you drink too much.
Readers' Choice for Best Bar for Conversation: Copper Canyon Brewing & Ale House
Readers' Choice for Best Happy Hour: Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar
Afro-Cuban salsa jammers Cascabel (that's "rattle" to you) liven the atmosphere for the drinkers -- and themselves -- with their unique blend (for Phoenix, anyway) of Latin jazz, samba and Gypsy swing. Their stage sits literally outside of the club, acting as a sort of musical barker to Washington Street cruisers.
Upstairs, the place is pure salsa nirvana. The balcony is great for breathers and the back bar is jammed with cool alter-Latinos. The room routinely rocks, but not until 1 a.m., when DJs spin nonstop Latin techno-pop and rock en espaol for a packed and sweaty dance floor. If there's no room, and that's usually a given, people just make their own dance floors wherever they are. People walk, stop to dance, then keep on cruising.
Until that after-hours scene explodes, the night belongs to salsa and chicks -- lots of them. They're the prize that longhaired Mexican rockeros and Pan American salseros compete over for the honor of an electrifying dance.
Readers' Choice for Best Club for Latin: Pepin
Readers' Choice for Best Beer Selection: Timber Wolf Pub
Readers' Choice for Best Brew Pub: Four Peaks Brewing Company
Readers' Choice for Best Sports Bar and Best Bar to Watch the Game: McDuffy's