Best Dive Bar 2008 | Dilly Dally | Bars & Clubs | Phoenix

Some things are just classic. Hard to top. If you have a fetish for dank smells, dirty fish tanks, and hot salty nuts, then there is no better dive for you than the Dilly Dally. If you're turned on by doing tequila shots with old men and staring at titty photo collages, then you won't be disappointed. We can't resist; we've gotta say it: Don't dillydally. Get over there.

Whoever invented the phrase "green around the gills" was Irish, probably from war-torn Belfast. How do we know? 'Cause we braved Skeptical Chymist's annual Guinness & Oyster Festival last St. Pat's and personally experienced the culinary terrorism — er, hallowed Irish tradition — of swallowing raw marine slime and then chugging a pint of thick, black beer. We revisit the experience in our nightmares. Often.

However, watching other people screw on that what-the-hell-have-I-just-done face makes for great spectator drama on St. Patrick's Day, and the Chymist is the only joint in town we've found that honors this (most questionable) custom. BYO barf bag.

There is so much eye candy on display at SkyBar, it's hard to figure out exactly where to rest your gaze. (Just make sure that when you go in for the kill, your target's legal — the place was busted on Valentine's Day with more than 20 underage drinkers inside.) But it's not quite your typical Scottsdale fake-tit fest; you're likely to see a model or two from The Agency, located downstairs at the Mondrian, gliding around the room as well. It's set up to feel kind of like you're lounging on a wealthy friend's outdoor patio, and the fireplace burning in the winter months is a nice touch. If you've got the cash, you can rent a bed (well, the bar calls them "veiled cabanas") and get a little cozier with your date. This is definitely a place to look sharp at — the ambiance is just swanky enough to let you know you're in Scottsdale, but not grossly over the top, like other Old Town bars we can think of.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

Technically, this place is a restaurant, a solid, old-school prime rib joint that also does great seafood and still features a salad bar. (You know the type.) But the real secret here is the bar, which is dark and friendly and filled with the most interesting people. You never know if you're going to run into the criminal defense attorney who got off Bishop O'Brien after he hit a drunk Indian and just kept driving — or a Deep Throat-type who whispers that he's got the real goods on who ordered Don Bolles' death. It's not a Scottsdale crowd, that's for sure.

When it comes to hotel bars, we don't want one of those sealed-off, hipper-than-thou Ian Schrager nightclubs. We want a place to chill out, chat up the bartender, and watch the foot traffic. And, on every count, the piano bar tucked into the lobby of the Biltmore delivers. The look is pure Frank Lloyd Wright, but the vibe is casual: You can watch the Suns game and even play checkers. Don't miss the Tequila Sunrise — the classic drink was invented here, and the bartenders are happy to show off their skill.

Clubbing is fun, yes. But after a few nights of pulsating lights that keep your pupils in a constant state of dilation, bass beats that shake your arm hairs, and chemical poisoning from your spray tan, you're on the verge of a code 10 anxiety attack. It might be time to peel off your sparkly dress and kick off your eff-me pumps for something a little more relaxed. Head to Vocé Ristoranté and Lounge for a night out that won't wear you out. Revive your protein levels with fine Italian cuisine cooked up by chef/owner Michael Lepore and give your eardrums a rest by taking in the smooth sounds of live jazz musicians like Dennis Rowland, Khani Cole, and Rachel Eckroth. With a rotating list of national performers, Vocé draws a sophisticated crowd every evening. So instead of cramping your calves all night freaking with some duder on a dance floor, cozy up in a booth or at a table for some luscious lounge time.

Whether it's rock bands or baseball stadiums, re-creating the old charm just never quite seems to work. That's why we were skeptical when Chez Nous — the super-dark '60s cocktail lounge on Seventh Avenue and Indian School Road that was torn down and replaced by a British supermarket — announced that it was reopening the Nous at the old Fat Cat's bar on Grand Avenue. However, it's pretty insane how dead-on the new Chez Nous looks compared with the old one (that is, after your eyes adjust to the dungeon-like lighting). There's the same weird rock water shrine behind the bar, carbon-copy cushion-y booths, and identical vintage velour wallpaper. Plus, many of the resident jazz, blues, and soul bands still jam at the space, including Roscoe's Motown Mania on Friday nights. Something else that hasn't changed: They still accept cash only.

The club scene in Phoenix can be as fickle as a pickle. Some new nightspots throw open their doors and are the place to see and be seen, packing in the hotties by the hundreds. Meanwhile, other places can debut to much pomp and circumstance but remain emptier than a ghost town. Thanks to its swank environs, bangin' DJ lineup, and numerous off-the-chain elements, the brand-new PHX Nightclub has been chosen by fate to be the former. Every night it's been open there's been a line out the door, populated by hopeful honeys and homies waiting to gain access to the joint, which rocks an upscale urban vibe. On Fridays and Saturdays, hip-hop, R&B, and Top 40 jams get dropped by the DJ crew. Break out your best threads if you're thinking about dropping by, because the upscale club is strictly "dress to impress," yo.

The charm of Centerfold's is threefold: hot chicks, cheap drinks, and good music. The dancers here run the gamut, from blue-eyed blondes with enhanced breasts to petite Asians in tiny neon thongs to beautiful black women with sparkling body jewelry. The common thread among them is a desire to make money — and the more money you flash, the more attention you get (we recommend leaving a stack of singles sitting on your table — but keep an eye on it). The stage at Centerfold's includes not only the traditional stripper poles but a nifty "spinning handle" suspended from the ceiling that dancers can use to twirl themselves in circles. Patrons who aren't ogling the goods at seats around the stage can relax in the club's plush velour chairs, or kick it in the VIP area with a titillating private dance. Drink specials vary, but are ever-present, and the pitchers of beer here are never anything but ice cold. And the music is the best exotic dance soundtrack in the city, covering everything from contemporary hip-hop to classic metal to blues and industrial. Centerfold's gets bonus points for the sidewalk banter, too, as customers who step outside to smoke usually get regaled with other peoples' tales of arrests, new tattoos, and where so-and-so got her new boobs.

This long-standing north Phoenix rock club got a new, state-of-the-art sound system in the past year, allowing for concert-hall sound in a small room. Owner Joe Grotto has been booking bands that know how to take full advantage of a sonic boom, from the manic rockers of -itis to the brutal metal of Hellen to the roaring blues guitar of Carvin Jones. The Grotto has been hosting more all-ages shows in the past several months, and Joe Grotto recently relaxed his covers policy (bands used to be required to incorporate a certain percentage of cover songs into their sets). Now the club hosts more original music than any other club on the north side and packs the house on weekends. It's bumpin' on weeknights, too, as the pool and dart tournaments at Joe's — combined with such drink specials as $1.50 domestic longnecks — attract plenty of people looking for a friendly, good-time vibe.

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