Mother's Bar & Grill
The ceilings are low, the floors are dusty, the patio is littered with cigarette butts, and there are only four beers are on tap. Suffice it to say this ramshackle roadhouse located along a lonely stretch of Buckeye Road is the kinda place only a mother could love.It's not without its charms, however, as kitsch and character are in abundance in the form of the vintage RC Cola cooler behind the bar or the antique beer signs sharing wall space with photos of John Wayne and former Arizona Governor Rose Mofford. Equally quaint and colorful is the clientele of neighborhood folk, warehouse workers, and other hardscrabble imbibers who've been partaking in the place since it opened in 1972. They're a quirky bunch (one gentleman prefers his brews served over ice in a tall plastic cup mixed with Tapatio hot sauce and salt), and they've left their mark over the years in the form of autographed dollar bills stapled to the ceiling. They don't complain much, however, as a sign nailed to the wall requests "No Sniveling" from patrons.
Steel Horse Saloon
As much as we're fans of comedian Ed Helms, our blood kinda boiled years ago when the co-star of TV's The Office cracked on one of our favorite Valley bars. See, in 2004, the bespectacled actor visited this notorious biker bar while reporting for The Daily Show about a then-merely-proposed Arizona law permitting guns to be carried in drinking establishments. Helms insulted the manhood of Steel Horse's Harley-loving patrons and staff during the segment, getting himself run off the property in humorous fashion. Though it was just a comedy bit, the fact that the proprietors were willing to get joshed on basic cable is just one reason to love the place. Here's another: Major drink discounts are on tap nearly every evening, ranging from $1 PBRs on Thursdays to $1.50 you-call-its on weekends. Rockabilly faves Pat Roberts and the Heymakers also have a monthly gig here, and pool games are only 50 cents. Plus, board game night is held on Mondays, enabling the amusing chance of playing Battleship or Candy Land against some tough-looking easy rider. Make sure to lose, lest you wanna get 86'd like Ed.
Sevens Lounge
Exit 7 is a laid-back neighborhood bar that draws a motley crowd, has a weekend DJ that spins a variety of music, including old-school rock and hip-hop, and offers the best drink specials ever. We're talking 50-cent Coronas on Thursdays and $1 drinks on Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. with a $7 cover for guys and $5 for the ladies. On Saturday, it's $7 for everyone. Bring your friends for a little dancing, a little drinking, and a whole lot of craziness. You can even do a little dart-flinging or cue up your balls at the bar's pool tables.
Buffalo Wings & Rings
Yes, this place has wings (chicken) and rings (onion) but the beer is the real draw here. Unlike most Southeast Valley bars content to offer Miller, Coors, and Bud, BWR always brings in something we've never tried before — we could drop names, but they'd surely be obsolete well before this went to print. The bartenders are as knowledgeable and friendly as you'll find anywhere in town and really seem to want to pair you with a beer you'll love. On top of that, the atmosphere is wonderful, with a nice assortment of regulars and just enough TVs to offer a distraction if you want one, but not so many that you're overwhelmed if you're not. Trust us, that is a fine line to walk.
Boulders on Broadway
Tempe's Boulders on Broadway feels like a ski lodge in the summer: floored with brick, walled with wood, and packed with mountain bikes from neighborhood drinkers who've pedaled to the bar to enjoy the atmosphere. The hulking two-story structure has plenty of room for everyone, but most of the action happens in the small-ish bar area, which tends to fill up and feel intimate. The pub draws a diverse clientele — it seems like the sort of place students might run into their professors — and there's usually a game on, though the place doesn't feel like a sports bar. The drink selection is great, the service is stellar, and there always seems to be someone interesting to talk to if you're in the mood to mingle. If there's something else you're looking for in a great neighborhood bar, you're pickier than we are.
TT Roadhouse
Lauren Cusimano
TT Roadhouse likes to present itself as a quasi-biker bar, but it's far from it. Actually, despite the posturing (this is Scottsdale, after all), it has more the feel of a British pub than anything. Dimly lit, lined with heavy wood, and staffed by bartenders who are wary of folks they don't know, it's everything a neighborhood bar should be. TT has pool, darts, and a solid jukebox, but the conversation you'll find bellied up to the cramped but comfortable bar is the real draw. TT's been hipstering it up with DJs lately — and though we like whom they've got spinning, we still prefer it quiet and without a line for drinks.
Long Wong's at the Firehouse
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.
The Nile Theater
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.
Padre Murphy's
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

Disco

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."

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