Best Legacy Bar 2010 | Long Wong's at the Firehouse | Bars & Clubs | Phoenix
The name Long Wong's is legendary, and the wings have little to do with why. The old location on Mill Avenue birthed some of the state's biggest and best bands, including the Gin Blossoms and The Refreshments. Okay, so the new Long Wong's at the Firehouse isn't on the old strip. And, sure, though the owners are the same, the people booking shows are different. There's still some magic in this venue, which claims a piece of the bulldozed bar's history and is committed to the credo that "Arizona still produces some of the best music in the entire US of A." We like some of the new traditions — like the "Fire Drill," during which any drink at the bar is $1 when a fire truck drives by with its lights on — and we're confident the joint will grow more homey as it ages.
Benjamin Leatherman
In the mid- to late '90s, the Nile Theatre in Mesa was the shiznit. The indie concert venue on Main Street was one of the places for local music fans. The biggest names in rock, punk, hardcore, and hip-hop hit up the Nile, and locals bands aplenty performed in the basement. Unfortunately, the Nile was shut down in 2002 after issues with the city of Mesa. Then, in January, employees of indie concert promoter the Mantooth Group just happened to ride by the then-vacant building as the rental agent was putting a sign up. They spent the next month restoring the basement and re-opened it as theUnderground. In late July, the Nile Theatre followed. And all was right with the world.
What would Jesus do at Padre's? Probably conjure up some cod for the all-you-can-eat Friday fish fry or transform the club soda into a crisp chardonnay. All blasphemy aside, we suspect J.C. could have an almighty good time at this neighborhood bar. After all, it's named after an Irish Catholic priest, and one of the Lord's quotes ("Go and sin no more") graces the menu. Then again, the Messiah might not cotton to all the sinful shenanigans available here, including six OTB windows and an abundance of cheap liquor. It's the sort of divine dilemma that's best discussed over a few beers.

Best Place to Reenact Saturday Night Fever


It wouldn't surprise us one bit if Saturday Night Fever's Tony Manero somehow strutted his way off the silver screen and into Disco, white suit and all. That's because the proprietors of this dapper danceteria dropped some major bank in re-creating their own version of the legendary illuminated dance floor that John Travolta ambled across with aplomb in the 1977 disco flick. Measuring 10 feet by 20 feet and powered by a rainbow of pressure-sensitive LEDs, it looks as if it were lifted directly from the Odyssey 2001 (the film's fictional NYC discotheque). It's also completely interactive, responding to dance steps with explosions of color. Plus, Disco's DJs are known to throw a few songs by The Bee Gees and The Trammps into the mix between Top 40 tracks. Hope you can remember how to do "The Hustle."
Got the pipes to be the next Kelly Clarkson or Lee DeWyze? Your vocal destiny awaits at Lone Butte Casino's Lucky Break singing competition, now in its fourth season. Savvy singers compete each week to advance to the grand finale, where one winner will receive $10,000 and a trip for two to Nashville or Las Vegas for a chance to audition for major record executives. Soloists who soar through the tryouts will find themselves in front of a panel of (thankfully) un-Simon-like judges for a show taping at the casino's Cascades Lounge, where their crooning conclusions are broadcast on KPHO every Saturday night.
This cheery CenPho sports bar is almost always packed with armchair athletes, people who want to watch the game on the place's 31 (count 'em!) TVs, eat a burger, and maybe play some trivia. But around 10 on Tuesday and Saturday nights, a different kind of group shows up en masse: the karaoke crowd. And hot damn! It's fun to watch. The singers are good but not too good, and (on Tuesdays at least) it's not hard to get a seat and a chance at the mic, should you be so inclined. Best of all: The peeps running this show are pros at subtly turning down the mic for singers who can't quite, um, sing. Hazelwoods is nice that way, both to the unfortunate warblers and our grateful ears.
What is box karaoke, you ask? Imagine you and your circle of friends had a private room for laying down some Journey or screaming out some Bowie. Now imagine a waitress on hand to bring you beer continuously. This, friends, is the box karaoke experience. Sure, you can go to those fancy karaoke boxes in Scottsdale, but the one at Korean BBQ in Mesa is far cheaper and available for reservations. Should you feel peckish between sets of Springsteen, step out of the box and grab a menu.
Rusty Spur Saloon
Glitz is what Scottsdale does best, so we'd understand if you were a little skeptical of anything cowboy-style in Old Town. The Rusty Spur quickly puts to rest any fears you might have about authenticity. For starters, if Rusty Spur were the nightclub equivalent of a dude ranch, it'd probably start by expanding to have enough space to actually accommodate the huge weekend crowds, which sometimes squeeze in shoulder to shoulder and buckle to buckle. Nope. For better or worse, the tiny storefront that used to house a bank (the vault is still there, as we understand it) is all they've got. "Scottsdale's Last Real Cowboy Bar" has been open as a cafe since 1951 and got a liquor license in 1958. It's advertised as the oldest saloon in Scottsdale (Coach House, opened in 1959, makes a similar claim), and it's a place you can still hear stories of when cowboys offered their horses beer and reserved the liquor for themselves — just like the Willie Nelson song says. The bar still has live music seven nights a week including four weekly sets by the stellar Psychobilly Rodeo Band.
Lauren Cusimano
Yep, that's a live bull. And, yep, that cowboy is about to ride him. Every Wednesday and Friday, that cowboy has eight seconds, but you have as long as you like to check out the house band, take a free dance lesson, or chomp on catfish and fries (but don't forget the $10 all-you-can-eat BBQ). More than 50 years ago, the Buffalo Chip was just was a feed-and-bait shop on the way to Horseshoe and Bartlett lakes. Today, the 6,000-square-foot saloon sits on five acres. The amateurs are in the bullpen on Wednesdays and the pros hit the saddle on Fridays. There's never a shortage of true cowboys and cowgirls around — and there's enough dust kicked up in the place that you might be able to get away with a few things.
Rogue West is a rockabilly fan's wet dream come true. The sleazy yet stylish West Valley punk dive has everything y'all could want in a bar, including $1 cans of cheapo beer, Sailor Jerry and skateboard artwork decorating the place, Bettie Page look-alikes as regulars, and free pool on two tables. Oh, and local rockabilly and psychobilly bands — including such scene veterans as Anthony Vincent and the Rhythm Dragons, Buried in Red, The Limit Club, and Koffin Kats — also perform every weekend, busting out with some upright bass and maybe even a few sneers. German act The Booze Bombs stop by once every few years, as well. And though he's more of a roots artist than a 'billy boy, Windy City singer-songwriter Jake La Botz is an occasional guest. So what are you waiting for, daddy-o? Hop in your hot rod and head on down.

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