Max's Restaurant & Sports Bar

Having opened way back in 1979, Max's is definitely old school, just like us. We've got golden memories of watching some of Phoenix's biggest ballgames from within the darkened confines of this West Valley sports institution. (Like when our voice went hoarse cheering on Sir Charles and the Phoenix Suns as they beat the dreaded Chicago Bulls in triple overtime during game three of the 1993 NBA Finals.) Sure, a host of bigger and flashier jock joints, like McDuffy's and Marc's Sports Grill, have sprung up nearby over the past three decades. We consider Max's the antithesis of those jacked-up, high-adrenaline establishments. At Max's, you can stay abreast of the latest sports action on almost 100 TVs, check out the collection of more than 250 football helmets on display, or head over to the off-track betting area to make a wager. It beats having some tatted-up, Ed Hardy-clad bro yelling in your ear while the game's on.

Teakwoods Tavern & Grille

There's a lot to like about Teakwood's Tavern and Grill in Gilbert — great food, plentiful TVs, friendly staff — but we have to admit what we like best about it, sports bar-wise, is the way they allow you to re-create the experience of being at the game by tossing your peanut shells on the floor. That's right, even though this is a pretty nice place — not some juke joint on the outskirts of town — you're welcome to crack, eat, and discard. On the downside, anyone with a severe peanut allergy could probably die just driving by this place, but on the plus side, it's as close to Chase Field as you can get in the flatlands of the San Tan area.

We know what you're thinking: How could we not name Sluggo's the best Mesa sports bar? Well, we are (sorta) because the legendary Sluggo's is now Diamond's Sports Grille. The bar was opened by former Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray and his partner in the booth, Steve Stone, and it's gone through a few names en route to its current one. The ties to the Cubs, who are immortalized in murals on the walls of this bar near the Cubs' spring training site north of downtown Mesa, are still strong, though. We hope they get a less generic name paying tribute to the spot's history — "Holy Cow's," maybe, or "Something Funny Will Farrell Said in That SNL Sketch" — but even if it that never happens, Diamond's is still the best sports bar in Mesa.

Doc & Eddy's Sports Bar

Tempe probably has five of the 10 best sports bars in the Valley, so picking just one spot is a challenge. Luckily, Doc & Eddy's has a little bit of everything, making it easy to justify our choice here. It's just dive-y enough to feel homey, but with clean and plentiful restrooms, varied seating options, good service, and great food. It always seems to be just busy enough — never dead or overcrowded — and we enjoy the fact that the pool hall and game area doesn't feel segregated from the rest of the restaurant, making it a fun place to hang out with a big group of rowdy fans, some who prefer to take in the game while shooting some pool.

American Junkie

Seeing this place on a Saturday night, you'd never know that this hip club is actually a fantastic sports bar during the day — even better than perennial favorite Duke's. The high-end modern furniture looks a little fancy for watching the big game, but it turns out it feels just like a Laz-Y-Boy. Your ass won't know the difference. Trust us. Toss in a nice collection of well-placed screens, great drinks, and a decent menu, and you've got a place Scottsdale types can watch the game without feeling too déclassé. The name is the biggest drawback. (How are you going to tell your buddies to meet up at "American Junkie" to watch football?) But once you get past the name, it's clear this place is doing a lot more than making their food-to-liquor ratios by serving food during daylight hours.

Mac's Broiler and Tap

We'll admit it: We aren't as young as we used to be. Heck, some of us even have kids now. But in spite of that fact, we want to get out of the house every now and again, go someplace low-key, eat greasy bar food, and watch the game. It's times like these that we're thankful for Mac's. This quaint little sports bar has everything a fan could want: good beer, good food, multiple TVs, and an atmosphere that is good for the whole family. In fact, the food and drinks are so good that we've even considered stopping by during the off-season. Why not? You're only young once.

Harold's Cave Creek Corral
Sara Weber

You probably remember watching the Arizona Cardinals suffer a narrow defeat in the Super Bowl, after officiating that made Tim Donaghy's showing at those Phoenix Suns playoffs games look professional. Would you like to relive the humiliation of that beating? Just head up north to Cave Creek, that little outlaw hamlet that's housed rapper DMX and Hell's Angels founder Sonny Barger. Up there, you'll find a bar called Harold's that caters exclusively to dirtbag Steelers fans. And those fans — every single one of them, up and down the bar — are louder, tougher, and more dedicated than any Cardinals fan in Phoenix. This bar is a little piece of Pittsburgh, readily showcasing what you'd find in a real NFL city, from wall-to-wall memorabilia to ridiculously fatty food and whiskey on tap. They may be "White Trash America's Team," but the Steelers also have a fan base Arizona should envy in every way. Go up for the game, but leave your red and white at home.

Paradise Lounge

So you go to a dive bar and you have your choice of darts, pool, or electronic trivia. With those generic options, you're bored out of your mind. No wonder you're such a drunk. Find alternative stimulation at Paradise Lounge, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it dive bar that has a selection of board games unlike any other. Once inside, you'll find a mountain of games like Pictionary, Taboo, Loaded Questions, Skip-Bo, and just about every version of Trivial Pursuit on the market. It's free and it's fun, as long as you can keep your wits as you drink. And if you're in the mood for an old standby, they have darts galore, too.

Boulders on Broadway

Though it looks a little like a barn from the outside, Tempe's Boulders on Broadway is pure class inside, with a sophisticated brick-floored lobby and a cozy, ski lodge-like loft upstairs. They've got great beers on tap, a well-placed tabletop Ms. Pac-Man game, and a Tuesday night team trivia competition that's our pick for the best in town. First, obviously, the confines are comfy; then there are the questions, which aren't too hard or too easy. Toss in some great people from the grad-student-and-above age group in that area of Tempe, and you've got the makings of an enjoyable evening of head-scratching, whispering, and cheering.

Stinger's Sports Bar
Benjamin Leatherman

Imbibing copious amounts of alcohol while throwing sharp, pointy things usually ends with someone at the hospital with a dart lodged in his or her ass. So it was no surprise when most of Arizona's pubs and clubs started ripping down their dartboards. Stinger's Sports Bar in Glendale compromised, eschewing lawsuit-provoking metal darts for plastic ones and a traditional board for four electronic ones. We come here because dart games are cheap, and the bar isn't too dive-y, despite the $2 beer specials and free breakfast from 6 to 9 a.m. If you're serious about darts, Troy Vending hosts a seasonal league at Stinger's on Wednesdays and Sundays. Though you'll likely miss the feel of sharp steel in your trembling functional drunk hands, at least with the electronic boards you don't have to keep score. Or hear how your buddy got "nailed in the ass" by a stranger.

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