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.

Kolby's Corner Pocket Billiards

If you're serious about billiards, follow the pros. Literally shoved into the corner pocket of a Tempe strip mall, Kolby's Corner Pocket attracts the top names in pool. Last year, trick shot pro Johnny Archer took on fans at Kolby's, and earlier this year, local superstar Scott Frost bested world-famous One Pocket player Efren Reyes on his home turf. Sure, there are cheaper pool halls in town, but cheap often equals moth-eaten felt, shabby balls, and rickety old cues. Trust us: You want your balls to be smooth and fresh, and Kolby's equipment is in tip-top shape. The hall has 15 nine-foot regulation tables, a full menu, and bar. There are also a few less expensive (but smaller) hourly tables, if you're not on par with the pros.

Cash Inn Country

Cash Inn has managed to persevere where other lesbian clubs have closed, and there are many reasons for this. The club gets its share of regulars, for one thing, but Cash Inn's combination of cheap drinks (including $1 draft beers on Tuesdays, $2 pitchers on Thursdays) and expanded entertainment events draws lesbians from both other bars and out of town, and the girls run the gamut, from feminine, politically minded college girls to the older, mullet-sporting types. Contrary to its name, Cash Inn Country isn't dominated by a huge yee-haw vibe (although there is country dancing on Fridays and Saturdays). DJ Sting spins Top 40 and hip-hop on Thursdays, and the bar also hosts everything from Rock Band competitions and karaoke to Texas Hold'em.

Amsterdam

The décor in this chic lounge is striking — a beautiful, wood-paneled Art Deco bar; white Roman pillars; sparkling chandeliers; burgundy leather couches, and a black baby grand piano all add to the classy ambiance. The drink of choice is the martini, of which Amsterdam serves more than 100 different variations, each served with a huge chunk of fruit. The music is a mix of dance tunes, diva crooning, and avant jazz, but the place is so crowded with warm bodies and loud voices on weekends that you probably won't hear the music much anyway.

As for eye candy, Amsterdam's got something for everyone. Though it's one of the most celebrated "gay bars" in the city and draws the lion's share of young, hot gay men (and a good portion of lesbians, too), it's also become a magnet for stylish straight women and the hetero-metrosexual men who pursue them. Amsterdam's element of refinement is balanced with tongue-out flamboyance — the club offers everything from $5 Martinis & Manicures on Mondays to "live boys" from brokestraightboys.com dancing on the patio for special events.

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