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.

Santisi Brothers Pizzeria & Sports Grill

We come to Santisi Brothers to indulge our sports-based ADD. It's easy to do here, since there are well over 100 TVs. That's enough to play all of this year's Kobe Bryant temper tantrums at once. Not that we'd want to, since all that snarking would distract from the pool tables, dart boards, and regularly scheduled Texas Hold'em tournaments that make this spot a mini-Cheers in the West Valley. Peep their monthly roster — this sports bar has a busier event calendar than most socialites we know. The friendly staff will remember you, and your foodie friends will thank you, because the food here is no mere afterthought. Their wings, pizzas, and the best stromboli on the west side are so tasty we've been known to drive all the way across town just to indulge in some Santisi Brothers magic. Sure, we'll probably be drawn to their wall of 11, count 'em, 11 65-inch TVs like moths to a flame, but when there are more than 20 different beers to choose from, and sports we've never seen before played in front of us, we're hard pressed to rush back to our living rooms. Our one lonely little TV seems so sad in comparison.

McDuffy's

Mere minutes by car from the Cardinals' stadium, this Peoria sports bar is the overachieving older brother of the now-defunct Tempe location. (Sure, we might have downed a drink or two there, back in the day.) This is no college bar — it's all grown up and gone Sports Bar, and a great one at that. At this McDuffy's, we're loving the large tables that are perfect for packing in fans for game night. It's easy to watch the big game from any of the 80 large-screen TVs that light up the place. We love the loud vibe here — it's a sports bar, people; join the chorus of boooos for a bad call or the cheers for a great play. Dive right in to the hearty food — not just your regular bar burger and fries. We hear the French toast is good, but we're not aware of a sport starting quite early enough to get us out of bed to try it. Good luck with that, yourself, since McDuffy's sports a huge following after the game, with dancing five nights a week until 2 a.m. Good idea — time to practice your grown-up game after watching the big game.

Woodshed II

We've been going to the Woodshed II for more than a decade and, we gotta admit, we never tire of this way-off-the-radar, low-key dive. The location is in a dimly lit strip on the northwest corner of Dobson Road and University Drive that looks as though it's been abandoned for 20 years. Inside, signed photographs from professional athletes and autographed pennants by Sun Devil greats from back in the day hang behind the bar, in the billiards room, and next to the 10-plus televisions tuned to the evening's games. The menu is pub grub, but everything we've eaten (and we've tried a lot) kicks butt, especially the wings and chicken sandwiches. So rub shoulders with the blue-collar clientele, which usually consists of duders fresh from a softball game, and chillax.

Blitz Sports Bar & Grill (formerly Upper Deck Sports Grill)

This converted two-level nightclub in Old Town Scottsdale proudly flies Arizona teams' flags outside along with those of Michigan and Illinois teams, for all the Midwestern transplants to our fine state. We like it because the laid-back atmosphere and comfortable setting ensures all fans can get along amongst 40 screens and two big projectors. (These are crucial to any sports bar. Upper Deck could teach many of the other bars around town claiming the "sports bar" label.) Upper Deck goes the extra furlong over its competition with off-track betting upstairs. And once you're in the door, it does its best to keep you there with free Wi-Fi, cheap weekly food specials, and occasional live bands or DJs at night.

Four Peaks Brewing Company
New Times Archives

It took us a long time to choose this one. The Arizona Cardinals' (and subsequent Fiesta Bowl and Super Bowl) exodus from Sun Devil Stadium left Tempe without the sports scene the East Valley was accustomed to. Longtime game-day favorites like McDuffy's and Bandersnatch vanished and, apparently, locals were left without a good gathering place. We should know — we grew up here and visited five of Tempe's so-called best sports bars before choosing Four Peaks Brewery. If you live in Tempe and don't want to drive far to catch a game, this is your spot. Though not technically a sports bar, it's still packed on game days with fans rooting for the local teams (and the Vikings during the NFL season). What it lacks in flat-screens, it makes up for with a nice selection of tasty microbrews and relaxing patio atmosphere.

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