BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, DOWNTOWN PHOENIX

The Lost Leaf

The Lost Leaf
The Lost Leaf
If you've spent any time bar-hopping downtown, you've probably followed a well-beaten path from Carly's to Bikini Lounge, along with the rest of the downtown drinking crew. And while we still love to haunt both establishments, we're thrilled to add another stop on our weekend pilgrimages to get sauced. The Lost Leaf, on Fifth, just south of Roosevelt, has become a super-popular pit stop. The renovated historic home has a gorgeous interior with original wood floors and exposed brick walls showcasing artwork by neighborhood artists. They serve more than 60 beers, along with wine and sake. And if that's not enough, you can always order "off the menu" drink options of new wines and beers or check out their wine tastings every second Friday. But the very best part is that the place is one of the only bars in the area that stays open until 2 a.m. every night of the week.
Four Peaks Brewing Company
New Times Archives
Tempe is an entire city of neighborhood bars, so narrowing it down to one is no easy feat. But there's just something about Four Peaks — maybe it's that amazing spinach artichoke dip or the fact that they brew their beer on- site, or the excellent preservation of the building's mission revival style, and its location on Tempe's historic old Eighth Street. Most likely it's some combination of the three. There's something really cool about walking past the grain silo in the parking lot (um, if you're lucky enough to get a spot, that is — the lot's almost always completely full) and knowing that eventually the 40,000 pounds of malted barley inside will be turned into a delicious beer. Inside the place, it's awe-inspiring — at least to the habitual beer guzzler — to realize that the brewery has about 10,000 barrels of beer at any given time. That's 20,000 kegs, guys. Twenty thousand. And we have to say, we pretty much live for that Pumpkin Ale they make starting every October. But it's not just the beer that keeps us coming back. We also like that the place is mostly about good drinks and good food, without the pretension that some other neighborhood bars are thick with after 10 p.m.
TT Roadhouse
Lauren Cusimano
A neighborhood bar needs to be the kind of place you can wander into wearing jeans without having to worry that you're underdressed. The kind of place where you can play darts or shoot pool and knock back a couple of cheap drinks without some jerk in a shiny shirt asking for your number. That's why we love TT's. A refreshing break from the dance clubs just up the street in Scottsdale, at TT's, tattooed arms and neighborhood drinkers far outnumber bottle blondes trolling for a sugar daddy. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the pool tables are free until 7 p.m. The bar brags about its jukebox, and we have to say it's pretty great, especially for the beer-swilling, Johnny Cash-loving set.

The patrons tend toward the OG punk rock, roller derby crowd, but if you leave pretension at the door, you're pretty much guaranteed to have fun. And really, that's neighborhood bar rule number one: good times, great music and people you can actually talk to.

Brennan's Pub 'n Grub
Happy hour can turn into payday at Brennan's on Wednesday nights, when patrons are invited to participate in "Trivia Wednesdays." The games start at 8 p.m., with eight questions and two bonus questions, pertaining to everything from music and sports to history and geography. Participants can play alone or in teams, and the top three winners each week receive cash prizes (anywhere from $20 to $40). Afterward, you can spend your winnings on greasy grub like Texas Toothpicks (battered onions and jalapeños) and Irish Nachos before challenging friends to a game of pool or darts. Or you can simply sit back and watch the game on one of the bar's big-screen televisions. With a laid-back atmosphere, stiff drinks, good friends, and friendly competition, everyone's a winner at Brennan's, whether they nab the cash or not.
It's not unusual for the regular boozer to make friends with a favorite bartender. He totes the familiar formula of listening to problems, lighting up smokes, and suavely saving you from an overzealous solicitor seeking a one-night stand. Those qualities are useful and appreciated, but could describe any number of barkeeps in the valley. It's not often we run across a libation lobber like Devon, who, for the past year, has worked his magic on Friday nights at Glam (and you can catch him on Monday nights at The Rogue). The sweet-smiling, soft-spoken blonde has personal style like no other, landing somewhere in between '80s glam and vintage indie. Nobody can rock flowing leopard-print vests paired with bright turquoise stretch pants like Devon. Not only does he look amazing, but the man can make one helluva drink. His stiff mixes will make any experienced drinker feel like a lightweight. And after 2 a.m. when the bar dries up but the music is still bumpin', Devon will hop over and shake it as a last hurrah before he heads home.
Bikini Lounge
Benjamin Leatherman
Wes, as she's known to friends and regulars, is from the old school. Not the fancy spinning-shaker-of-death-thru-fire bartender, but the give-it-to-me-straight school of bartending. We couldn't be happier about that.

It's true that Wes doesn't take any guff, so you'd better be nice to the staff and the regulars. There's no snapping your fingers or waving bills at the Bikini Lounge. We dare you to try. We saw someone do that once — rumor has it they're still waiting for a drink. Wes has made every drink you've never heard of, twice. And if you're not sure what you want, she'll create one for you that will scratch the itch you didn't know you had. She's quick with the quip, ready with the laugh, and serves up drinks faster than you can say "tiki bar." If you're a downtown boozer, there's no one better than Wes.

To hell with hitting up Wikipedia. Whenever we wanna get the 411 on house music, we hook up with DJ Joe DiPadova. The laid-back record-spinning cat is a virtual walking encyclopedia on the subject — both its history and how to lay it out on the one's and two's, the latter of which he's been doing since his love affair with the genre began more than a decade ago.

After getting his start in the clubs of Boston, DiPadova relocated to the PHX in 2002 and started making appearances at Pete "Supermix" Salaz and Senbad's legendary house night Batucada, as well as at nightspots like Sky Lounge and Scottsdale's Next, before striking out on his own with StraightNoChaser at Tempe's The Loft in 2005.

DiPadova relocated the night to chic gay lounge Homme in 2006 and rechristened it "StraightNoChaser Presents: one," where the 31-year-old slung out different flavors and subgenres of house (including deep house and Loft Classics to more global variations like Afrobeat and Italio) and brought in guest DJs to share turntable duties, including the legendary JoJo Flores.

Shady's
Lauren Cusimano
The jukebox inside this central Phoenix neighborhood bar is an absolute gem. Aside from the fantastic selection, it's one of the few "real" jukes left in our favorite dimly lit haunts. So many bars have gone the way of the Internet jukebox. Sure, it's kind cool to be able to play literally anything, but it's also boring — we've got iTunes on our laptops. Part of the fun of a bar jukebox is being forced to hunt for a song, and, often, you remember songs you haven't listened to for years. The juke at Shady's sits unpretentiously next to the bathroom — no flashy lights or wireless connections here — and is full of forgotten favorites. The usual suspects are there — Joy Division, The Smiths, Bauhaus, Velvet Underground. But you also get Aretha, Roy Orbison, the Cramps, Detroit Cobras, and Otis Redding. A buck will buy you three plays, $2 gets you seven, and if you wanna be "that guy," you can choose 18 songs for $5.
Bikini Lounge
Benjamin Leatherman
This fast-paced world of today? We are not entirely down with it. Take last year, when Bikini's jukebox was replaced by some digitized interwebby thing mere days before its (perhaps no longer deserved) Best Jukebox award went to press. But this artsy-skeevy-tiki bar is a delicate ecosystem. Knowing this, its proprietors maintain some balance by designating a surly, savvy Homo sapiens to finesse the weekend's sounds (at an event called Sophisticated Boom Boom — though if you're really sophisticated, you'll remember when it was called Scratchy Rekkid Night). DJ HFE (Hooray For Everything, a.k.a. Shane Kennedy) makes moment-by-moment selections from a rangy, quirky play list just about every Thursday (when people tend to sit, drink, and mumble), and most Fridays and Saturdays (when it can get a little dancy and/or crowded up in there). HFE considers requests — you can even bring your own — but his mood is law. You'll learn a little more about music and your community. Or you'll just have fun.
Brigett's Last Laugh
Brigett's Last Laugh isn't much different from any other neighborhood bar in the Valley, except it's the reigning karaoke capital. Seven nights a week, DarkHorse Productions lets customers croon favorite tunes by everybody from Alanis Morissette to Judas Priest, and almost everybody gets in on the action. Brigett, the owner, can often be seen dancing along to the music or singing her version of Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55" while regulars rush to sign up for their favorite songs. Some of the singers are actually pretty good (one regular does a rendition of Tommy James' "Mony Mony" that always brings down the house), while others are clearly there to see how badly they can butcher a song for comic effect. The karaoke carries on from 8 p.m. until close on some nights, but there's plenty for patrons to do if they won't brave the mic — the bar's got a full kitchen that serves up greasy grub, there are two pool tables, and a lot full of high-end Harley-Davidsons outside.

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