BEST BAR TO TAKE YOUR MOM ALONG 2004 | The Big Bang | Bars & Clubs | Phoenix
We have a theory about The Big Bang: Your mom will love it. Now, we have to offer a caveat. Not just any mother will appreciate this place. It's true that the first time we walked in with Mom, happy hour was in full swing and an America West Airlines employee in tight jeans happened to be gyrating across the surface of one of the two dueling pianos, singing along to Madonna's "Like a Virgin." Really, though, it's all good, clean fun, as the "dueling" piano players keep the tunes (mostly hits from the '60s, '70s and '80s, crowd favorites like "Red, Red Wine" and "American Pie") coming, and waitresses make the rounds with test tube Jell-O shots. Soon our mom was dancing in the aisles, guzzling beer and belting out "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" with the best of them.

Just don't tell Dad.

There are bars where you go to watch the games, and then there's the bar you go to be a sports fan. Not only does McDuffy's in Tempe stay true to the holy trinity of sports -- beer, big screens and betting -- it offers a little something for every sports fan.

Only a 10-minute walk from Sun Devil Stadium, which comes in handy for brewski-packing bargoers who need to sober up on the way back to the car, McDuffy's has been a favorite refuge for avid sports fans since it opened in 1988. It's got off-track betting on horse and greyhound races, and the bar boasts more than 30 beers and a reverse happy hour after 10 p.m. for those post-game munchies. With 12 giant screens and more than 70 additional televisions, it's no wonder McDuffy's is able to show every available NFL and NCAA tournament game, in addition to most match-ups in baseball, hockey, golf, boxing, water polo, wrestling, skiing, log rolling . . . need we go on?

See you there. Readers' Choice: Zipps Sports Grill

Slinky, suave, sophisticated, and about a dozen more s-words besides, the Merc Bar is the sort of place where you can expect to see drop-dead dime pieces in backless black dresses sipping French martinis with Ketel One and Chambord, while GQ-gorgeous guys enjoy their Belvedere vodkas straight up. The interior is dark with wood paneling plucked from some Eurotrashy '60s ski-resort flick starring Elke Sommer. And all about are low couches, chairs and ottomans that the beautiful people of PHX rearrange like some giant, earth-toned game of mah-jongg. Lush, loungey music emanates from the stereo, and for a moment you can pretend that Bill Clinton's still the prez, the stock market bubble never burst, and all's right with the world. The name refers to Mercer Street in Manhattan, on which Gotham's Merc Bar, the sister to the P-town establishment, sits. The waitresses look like supermodels, and the clientele on any given night comprises a meet market that only peddles filet mignon, if you catch our drift. The self-assured and the self-appointed make the scene, and to appear there tells the world you're a person of refinement and taste, a player who can afford the better things in life, even if you're not rich -- yet. Readers' Choice: J Bar in the James Hotel

Hungry for a slab of beefcake? No one could accuse Dick's Cabaret of false advertising -- the club's got plenty of its objectified namesake, bobbing in the bare air beneath rippled six-pack abs. Like their cultural kin the Village People, the dancers at Dick's Cabaret fit a flurry of fantasy roles, performing as sailors, construction workers, cowboys, and whatever else tickles their, uh, fancy. Dick's boys are hard workers, too, performing every day but Monday, when the club is closed. A warning to would-be lascivious lushes and tipsy tippers: Dick's Cabaret doesn't serve liquor -- hard or otherwise -- and no alcohol is permitted on the premises. It's a good thing the shows are so intoxicating.

Okay, so Postino's a little metrosexual. It's the patio that's not a patio, the couches swiped from an old issue of Real Simple, and those little cocktail tables where you're crammed right up beside some couple making Nick and Jessica eyes at each other. The ambiance is perfect for you if your favorite mag is Marie Claire, but what about us Maxim, Playboy and FHM readers? Fortunately, when we get dragged to Postino by our significant others, there's always the compensation of the comestibles; i.e., some of the best bruschetta you'll ever eat -- dare we say it, manly bruschetta with a variety of toppings such as white Tuscan bean, ricotta with pistachios, crushed tomato basil or prosciutto with figs and mascarpone. Or you can go for a bowl of assorted nuts or big, fat Italian olives, both just salty enough to make you want another glass of Kiltlifter to drink as she sips her Zinfandel and talks about how much it sucks that Friends is off the air. Ain't relationships grand, fellas? Too bad the food's not as good when she forces you to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond with her.

Last call is a sad, sad song, at any hour. You're boozed up, you're having fun, and before you know it, the bartender is pulling your drink and kicking you out. There's nothing more hated than the bartender's mantra "you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here." Well, if you're in the vicinity of Farmer Avenue in Tempe, there's a party waiting. Just east of Farmer is Ash, the street that's home to Casey Moore's, a longtime favorite neighborhood watering hole. After the bar lets out on a Friday or Saturday night, it's common to see inebriated twentysomethings wandering the street, stumbling and laughing their way from house to house until they find something interesting. Our advice: You'll find it on Farmer, between Ninth and 13th streets. Somehow, there's always a party on Farmer. But be warned: If you're more into Hurley than hairdos, it's best you find your after-hours fun somewhere else. The hip kids might eat you alive. Readers' Choice for Best After-Hours: Mickey's Hangover

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