The ongoing redevelopment of downtown Phoenix has been something of a love-hate thing for us. We're down with revitalizing our city's urban core, but for every new posh loft and upscale eatery that debuts in and around Copper Square, cool places like Emerald Lounge and Newman's get shuttered. Which is why we're holding onto The News Room for dear life. It's a dope dive that's a little rough around the edges, because of its shabby decor and working-class regulars, but it's also one of the few downtown drinkeries that values character over kitsch. There ain't no highfalutin mixed drinks or overpriced bar food here, just plenty of cheap beer and booze, a jukebox, a pool table, and old-school bowling games. As the ultimate sign of hipster acceptance, punky and funky scenesters from the nearby arts district have started stopping by the joint, rubbing elbows with grizzled retirees and construction workers. You'd better get down there soon before Mayor Phil Gordon and company decide to raze it in favor of some ugly urban renewal project.
Hilary Griffith is not your typical beauty queen. Yes, she's a broadcast journalism major and she twirls a baton. But she also spins an amazing tale all true of what happened to her one night in November 2004, her sophomore year at Arizona State. A man broke into her Tempe apartment and raped her at knifepoint. Hilary has made it her cause to educate others; she's even taken part in a program sponsored by the Arizona Department of Corrections, in which victims visit prisons to share their stories with inmates. We can't imagine how hard that must be, and for that we applaud Hilary. She's definitely royalty in our book.
Carly's Bistro
If there was ever an excuse to mosey on down to Roosevelt for something other than the gallery scene, Carla Wade and John Logan's funky bistro is the reason. The arty couple opened the cozy eatery and wine bar to satisfy a need to feed hungry lunch folks and the libation-seeking arts crowd. A four-by-six-foot customized Steven Yazzie painting overlooks the bar, and rotating First Friday exhibits hang next to the funky sky-blue-and-tangerine-painted walls. Enjoy a wide selection of cheap domestic beer, affordable wine, and an assortment of luxurious imported beers, including three variations of Chimay, and the full-bodied Trappistes Rochefort, a Belgian creation brewed by Trappist monks. The bistro serves up southern European and Mediterranean fare ranging from healthful salads and soups to yummy appetizers (the Trio with three types of hummus) and grilled panini sandwiches on ciabatta we suggest the Ex-Patriot (turkey, Brie, tomato, and onion relish) and the Tuscan (sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red pepper, spinach and provolone with pesto). A full week of entertainment includes local bands Colorstore and Fatigo gigging on Tuesdays, a $3 wine special and live jazz by Alan Jones on Thursdays, and DJs spinning beats on Fridays and Saturdays.
Until this, the closest we'd come to knowing anyone whose work had appeared in The New Yorker was the time our friend Doug was a finalist in the caption-writing contest on the magazine's last page. That was cool, but this was cooler: Picking up the January 16 edition of the magazine and seeing a full-page drawing by Tempe artist Jon Haddock, illustrating a short story by Samantha Hunt (and she's from Arizona State University, another local connection!). Even now that he's been in The New Yorker, our favorite comic son remains humble and sweet and so talented.
The Dubliner Irish Pub & Restaurant
Lauren Cusimano
Here's an Irish-themed pub that's got everything non-leprechauns need to unwind after a long day at the office (or to get fugged up with friends on the weekends). There's a bar, of course, stocked with all sorts of brews and beers, usually served by the pint. There's a jukebox, stocked with country, pop, hip-hop, and rock. There are a couple of pool tables, and a couple of dartboards. The bar hosts karaoke and live music, and one of the most packed St. Patrick's Day parties in the Valley. But best of all, the walls are decorated with neon beer signs; the green felt on the pool table is faded and worn; the floor is almost always sticky; and the booths and tables are often full. The whole place gives off the vibe of a well-loved, über-used drinkin' hole.

BEST LOCAL ARTIST WHO BUYS HER SUPPLIES AT TARGET

Lisa Albinger

Over the past year, you may have been wowed by painter Lisa Albinger's stunning depictions of relationships gone wrong, womanhood, and growing up with scoliosis. Her work's been on view at monOrchid, Studeo Tad and Soul Invictus. But did you know that Albinger's painted women and rabbit guides some housed in the private collections of Tori Amos, The Cure's Robert Smith, and fantasy author Charles de Lint were not created using the quintessential brush, but from household items purchased at Target? In college, the Wisconsin-born and -bred artist painted large format canvases up to four by six feet using palette knives and a few large brushes. When she began showing in Milwaukee museums, the gallery owners told her everyone loved the work, but the pieces wouldn't fit in the area's small homes. Unable to dance around on the smaller format, the only answer was to downsize the tools; hence, the birth of the cotton swabs and paper towel method, which has created a more intimate exchange between Albinger and the canvas, while adding a unique scratchy/wispy/playful touch to her work. She uses the occasional brush for face detail and still visits the local art supply stores for oil paints but after a trip to Target, she's got cash in her pocket for the really high-quality oils.
Oggi's Pizza & Brewing Co.
A newer addition to the swanky section of 67th Avenue just south of the Loop 101, Oggi's features a tempting mix of homemade brews and grub as inviting as it is reasonably priced. The real plus: All the drinks and eats can be enjoyed while taking in any and every sporting event via the 21 huge TVs that pepper the main room. Much more than a stinky dive with a boob tube, Oggi's is classy, clean and boasts as great a staff as its menu. Many drinkers will gravitate toward Oggi's home-brewed Paradise Pale or the Sunset Amber Ale, which is a bit darker, and richer than the pale. We got stuffed on Oggi's personal-size pizza the Slam Dunk, like "hot wing pizza" complete with spicy wing sauce and spicy marinated chicken, was wicked good. Located right off the freeway, Oggi's is a great place to grab a quick drink after work, or plan a weekend visit to take advantage of its DirecTV's Sunday Ticket.

BEST LOCAL ARTIST WHOSE WORK HAS BEEN SOLD AT TARGET

Josh Wiley

Joshua Dean Wiley was already known locally for his serene, high-color landscapes and lively abstracts before busting out big with a national distribution deal that brought his bright, metallic-tinged paintings to department stores all over the U.S. The 34-year-old Iowa transplant's work can be found in Target, JC Penney, Bed Bath and Beyond, Linens 'n Things, and Mervyn's, although local art collectors still seek out his one-of-a-kind work, too. Good news: When he's not preparing a new line of mass-market prints for the unwashed masses, Wiley is still making gorgeous paintings and his giant Plexiglas hanging wall sculptures. Look for him at smart local galleries and at a Mervyn's near you.
Doc & Eddy's Sports Bar
Tucked inconspicuously behind a Bank of America at the northeast corner of Rural and Baseline roads is this friendly neighborhood sports bar, where twenty- and thirtysomethings, college kids and working professionals, singles and couples, and sports fans and the happy hour crowd peacefully co-exist over cheap grub and tap beers. The main attraction is the huge outdoor misted patio, where large wooden tables that easily seat 15 people surround the trunks of olive trees, making friendly banter with new acquaintances the standard. Inside, you'll find several TVs, and a separate room with billiards tables, air hockey, Golden Tee, and Big Buck Hunter. You'd expect some greasy eats here, and the bar won't disappoint, with offerings including Doc's Fish Sandwich: fried white fish served on a kaiser roll. The bar was one of the first in these parts to pour pints of Kilt Lifter, and drink specials include a daily happy hour from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and $2 hour of power shots beginning each evening at 10. There's never a cover, and entertainment includes karaoke every Thursday, poker tournaments throughout the week, and acoustic music on the patio during the weekends.
Everything you could possibly want in a neighborhood watering hole can be found at this laid-back Scottsdale roadhouse: a rollickingly entertaining karaoke show every night of the week, a fully stocked bar and seven different beers on tap, wait staffers who eagerly provide service with a smile instead of serving up their surly disposition, amusements ranging from arcade games to pool tables, and even televisions in the restroom. That's right, thanks to a few strategically placed boob tubes inside the Longshot's toities, the need to hit the head after a few rounds with your friends will never again keep you from missing out on the big game. After you've finished flushing, mix and mingle with the diverse crowd of regulars who frequent the joint, cashing in on plenty of primo drink specials or a little conversation with their neighbors. Just don't forget to wash up before you start glad-handing anyone, pal.

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