Best Neighborhood Bar, Downtown Phoenix

The Roosevelt

The Roosevelt Tavern

Every good neighborhood bar has a few key things — a great selection of drinks, a fair pour, a great staff, and maybe a snack or three to help pace yourself. The Roosevelt has those essentials in spades, plus a couple of others for good measure, like a gorgeous building, lovingly restored, and the most wicked music choices around. We're not sure what we like more, the House Beer, brewed by Four Peaks and chilled with an argon cooling system so effective it'll bring tears to your eyes, or the deviled eggs that are so delicious they might trigger a war to see who gets the last one. These are important things, to be sure, so we'll be content to ponder them as we listen to old Radiohead songs that make us long for the carefree days of youth. Good thing the staff always remembers our names; they'll need them to nudge us out of our nostalgic haze. No matter, because The Roosevelt is, most importantly, a neighborhood bar, and a reminder that downtown is for livin', not just driving through. We'll ponder that, too, as we ride our bikes home from our favorite local bar.

Best Neighborhood Bar, Central Phoenix

Shady's

Shady's
Lauren Cusimano

Who'd have thought a tiny bar with a sign that gives a nod to '80s and ska scenesters would be such a friendly, welcoming spot? Usually, a bar that dips its toe in the too-cool pool will pack an attitudinal wallop. Instead, Shady's '60s interior is retro and relaxed. Pick a drink, any drink, and their engaging bartenders will remember it the next time you visit, even if it's months later. How do they do it? We don't know, but we're sure they've harnessed some of that mojo to stock a cool jukebox. From The Police to The Clash, this collection hits every disaffected teenage music fan's faux-nostalgic spot. We're not kidding about the friendly vibe. At Shady's, flying solo isn't an anomaly or prelude to a hookup; it's an invitation to make new friends. Good neighbors, indeed.

Coach House
Lauren Cusimano

Coach House is an anomaly among the glitz and glamour of Scottsdale's nightlife scene. It doesn't boast an ample dance floor or a million-dollar sound system or even bottle-flipping bartenders who pour the latest designer drink. What this tiny, wooden-walled roadhouse, circa 1959, does have is plenty of homespun allure and old-school Scottsdale cool. So much so that after knocking back a few beers here, you'll feel like heading over to the Pink Pony for a juicy porterhouse and then poking around the Winfield Place Condos in search of Bob Crane's ghost. Speaking of spirits, Coach House also serves up plenty of great barfly standards like boilermakers, screwdrivers, and a mean Jack and Coke. It's a no-frills kinda place that draws in hardscrabble blue-collar types who kill their livers alongside the high-stylers.

J.T.'s Bar & Grill

Ah, the typical Arcadian. If you live in the neighborhood, and you want breakfast, you hit La Grande Orange. Light lunch? It's all about Pita Jungle. For your swankier dining needs, radioMILANO, the Vig, and Postino fit the bill. Coffee time? Stop by Mama Java's. And when you want to slum it up for some cheap cocktails, it's time for the Dilly Dally. But there's one spot we love to hit that's a little off the radar — as all great neighborhood bars should be.

Keep your eyes peeled when you drive on Indian School east of 44th Street, because you might miss this little jewel if you blink. JT's Bar & Grill is tucked away, marked by a small patio adorned year-round with Christmas lights. Step in and prepare yourself: The place is so little it overflows if just 40 people show up. But that makes things cozy as you settle up to the bar and order a few rounds of reasonably priced drinks. The smell of deep-fried goodness and cooking burgers fills the place as you watch your favorite sports game and relax. The place is a fave with the locals, and after one visit, it's easy to see why.

Casey Moore's Oyster House
Tom Carlson

The first time we tried to find Casey Moore's Oyster House and Seafood Restaurant, we got lost. Located on Ash Avenue just two blocks from Mill Avenue, it's actually in a real neighborhood, historic Maple-Ash. By the end of the night, we were cursing the lucky stiffs who have houses just across the street. Whether you're looking for a Friday-night hangout or just a place to grab a drink after a gig, Casey's hits the spot with great specials on frosty mugs of Kilt Lifter and plenty of wait staff to bring it directly to you.

Stay inside and watch the game or chill outside on the spacious wrap-around patio and enjoy the night air.

Sure, the outdoor seating doesn't hold as much appeal in the dead of summer, but Casey's chipotle chicken wings make up for just about any slight. Yum.

Crabby Don's

It's kinda ironic that Crabby Don's has such a surly-sounding moniker (as well as a menacing, frown-face logo), considering that this Gilbert watering hole is a place where many nearby drinkers stop by to have an awesome time. Nearly every time we've visited, the place is usually packed with energetic and upbeat urbanites, ranging from bros dressed in their Volcom T's and watching extreme sports on the numerous large-screen plasma TVs, to jockish frat boys downing Heinekens while competing in fierce shuffleboard contests, or tattooed rocker-types standing near the stage during weekend gigs by local bands. (Call us crazy, but even the barflies seem a little happier here). The bar also has one of funniest slogans we've ever heard: "The liver is evil and must be punished!" Believe us, said internal organ gets plenty of abuse during happy hour every weekday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (in addition to reverse happy hour every Monday through Thursday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.), when drink specials abound. It probably explains why everyone's so damn happy . . . because they've had a snootful by the time we show up.

Wanna know what really bores us? To tears? Adam Sandler flicks, for one. Not to mention flaky artist-types. Another thing we find particularly tedious and mind-numbing are bars in which there's absolutely nothing to do other than drink, stare at the boob tube, or endure depressing stories from dour drunks. But Exit 7 doesn't roll like that, yo, because the Glendale tavern features plenty of lively diversions to engage in with your mates while sampling more than a dozen different brews on tap (including Stella Artois, Blue Moon, and Widmer). Four pool tables are available for play, in addition to three dart machines, three MegaTouch touch-screen units, and a few arcade games like Big Buck Hunter and Silver Strike Bowling 2007. But if an argument over who sunk the 8-ball ensues, don't head out to the parking lot to settle things. Instead, go a few rounds on the Dragon Punch boxing game in the corner. It'll probably keep the bartender from calling the cops.

R.T. O'Sullivan's Sports Grill

The wait is over. The heavyweight champ's finally squaring off against the persistent challenger and the title belt is most definitely on the line. The hype has been relentlessly building for months, and it's sure to be an unforgettable donnybrook, with the irresistible force truly meeting the immovable object. And if your broke-as-a-joke ass only had the $49.95 to spring for the pay-per-view, you could witness history in the making. So unless you'd rather catch the highlights on YouTube or the evening news, head for either R.T. O'Sullivan's, as the mini-chain of Irish-themed taverns shows all the pay-per-views for World Wrestling Entertainment, mixed-martial-arts events like Ultimate Fighting Championship, and the major boxing cards. And while you're watching Triple-H body-slam Randy Orton (or, perhaps, Tito Ortiz bitch-slapping Ken Shamrock), enjoy the tavern's brewpub repast. Sure beats the cold pizza you were gonna nosh during the fight.

Networks Bar & Grill

This watering hole, located inside the downtown Phoenix Hyatt Regency, is one of our favorite drinking establishments to pop into after a game, concert, or art shindig. The interior is bathed in sleek hardwood floors, faint lighting, and flat-screen TVs. The crowd is different from a typical sports bar — there are tourists, business professionals, regular-looking Joes/Janes, and musicians from the Phoenix Symphony, who sometimes walk across the street from Symphony Hall to take the edge off their post-performance energy. Entrees, such as the chicken relleno sandwich and seven varieties of burgers, are around $11, and drinks are affordable, especially on Thirsty Thursdays, when mojitos are $2 off the regular price.

Half Moon Sports Grill

People living in Phoenix proper are spoiled. Two of our three major stadiums are practically in their backyards, and with that comes a whole bunch of marquee-name sports bars downtown. But where do Phoenicians go to catch a game when they can't make it to the stadium and don't want to deal with trying to park, or navigate the construction downtown? Half Moon Sports Grill, in the Biltmore 'hood. This upscale sports bar covers all the bases with a large, misted patio, spacious multi-room seating, and parking garage. Mingle with the business crowd and sports rowdies during their 3 to 7 p.m. happy hour as attentive staff satisfies your cravings for above-average bar food and strong drink. There are more screens than you can count, including several all-important extra-large projection screens. And unlike the downtown sports bars, Half Moon gives discounts when the D-Backs are playing.

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