Best Place to Find an Underground Dance Party

Stratus

Stratus
It's a good thing that the fabrication facilities and other blue-collar businesses surrounding Stratus close up shop after the sun goes down, since there's no one around to file a noise complaint when the West Valley venue gets wild on weekend nights. And believe us, we're talking wild. A colorful cornucopia of costumed kids and vibrantly dressed electronic music fans slide into Stratus almost every Friday or Saturday to partake in a melodic maelstrom of bright lights and big beats. Hit up the info lines for any of the handful the underground raves and word-of-mouth dance parties that transpire into the wee hours each weekend and you're likely to get directions to Stratus. It's popular among local promoters because of its location in the middle of an industrial neighborhood, as well as the posh amenities located within. While its plain-looking exterior resembles the workmanlike façades of neighboring businesses, the interior boasts high-definition video screens, two VIP lounges, a pimp Dynacord sound system, and various laser light displays. There's also a fully stocked bar slinging drinks to those patrons who are of age (and have proper ID), but you usually have to wade through a sea of glowstick-wielding teenagers to get there.
Spanish Fly
As any Phoenician who's had his brains melted and skin seared by the sun can ascribe, it's hot here for a majority of the year. Damn hot. Hence the number of swimming holes around these parts, particularly in Scottsdale. There are pools aplenty in the stylish suburb, even in the unlikeliest of places. Like, say, smack dab in the middle of Old Town nightspot Spanish Fly, which features an oasis-like swimming pool encompassing most of the outdoor patio. Where other Scottsdale beach bars boast paltry wading pools, Spanish Fly — formerly the home of upscale Polynesia place Drift — trumps 'em all. The proprietors exchanged tiki shtick for chic couches, posh cabanas, and a glimmering waterfall. As its name portends, the joint also serves Mexican-style nosh, but be sure to wait an hour after eating before taking a dip.
Lobby Bar at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa
After the architects and designers of the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale designed the swim-up bar located in one of the ritzy resort's many posh pools, we sincerely hope they got a hearty pat on the back for genius thinking. Why? Because the ability to have a drink while swimming around in the drink is one of the greatest ideas ever. What better way to imbibe than with the scantily dressed and dripping wet? Patrons of the resort (or anyone crafty enough to sneak in) can toss back a few adult beverages and handcrafted cocktails at the swim-up bar tucked away far from the kiddy-laden beach area without a care in the world. It almost makes the steep drink prices ($5 for a Pacifico?!) worth it.
W Hotel Scottsdale
Posh doesn't even begin to describe the indoor/outdoor lounges located next to the W Scottsdale's second-floor WET Deck, which features lavish brown and white couches, Mediterranean-inspired décor, and a fully stocked bar armed with a classy staff tending to whatever boozy need may arise. Waterfalls are located throughout the place, rippling water at just the right volume for conversation among well-heeled types. Across the pool from Shade Lounge is the W's Sunset Beach, consisting of a white-sand landscape occupied by cabanas and daybeds, as well as color-changing lights and blazing fire pits encased in onyx marble. Good luck trying to sneak in, as the doormen at the W are particularly vigilant when it comes to stopping freeloaders.
The Phoenician, Scottsdale
Sitting on the patio of The Thirsty Camel Lounge at day's end with a frosty cocktail in hand is a nice reminder of why we live here; even on the hottest days, we've got some of the prettiest sunsets around, and the classy terrace offers a gorgeous vantage point from which to watch as that ball of heat fades away and darkness overtakes views of the Papago Hills and South Mountain. Located in the swanky Phoenician, the Thirsty Camel has all the right liquors and, better yet, an unparalleled chance to view one thing our desert state does better than any other.
St. Francis
Evie Carpenter
The happy hour offerings at this CenPho dining destination not only save your wallet on urban-inspired high-quality food and drink, but the ambiance and décor boost Pho-town's big-city cool points without a doubt. Choose from six inspired cocktails — offered at $5 and $7 — that are just as uniquely adapted as their food counterparts. The happy hour menu items also are offered in the low price range of $5 to $8 (including St. Francis food faves like green chile pork and roasted fingerlings). It's safe to say chef/owner Aaron Chamberlin knows food and what it takes to keep locals oh so happy. This saint sure knows how to pull his happy hour weight and then some.
The Main Ingredient Ale House
Evie Carpenter
We would have preferred to keep this Coronado secret to ourselves, but it's time to let the cat out of the bag. The Main Ingredient's patio is the best place to kick back and relax after a long day of doing, well, anything, really. There are no food specials and no gimmicks — just a shady patio full of friendly souls chillin' out listening to the sweet sounds of classic '90s hip-hop while enjoying a cheap drink or two. The beer selection is limited to just eight tap handles but offers a rotating selection of refreshing local favorites and rarely seen national craft brews — and they taste even better when they are only $2.50 a pint. Classy crafted cocktails are half-price, and glasses of wine are just $4.
The House at Secret Garden
Jackie Mercandetti
Garden dining is hard to come by in the desert. That's why The House at Secret Garden is a hidden delight. We like to hit up The House's happy hour to experience the tall shade trees, whimsical gardens, and historic Spanish-style mission at a fraction of the price. Snag a Bakon Maria (a bloody Mary made with bacon-flavored vodka) or a Cactus Fig Margarita at $2. Then order a platter of golden polenta fries, sweet potato planks, or pulled-pork sliders on the cheap. Snack and sip away your work worries in the shadow of South Mountain.
Blue Martini Lounge
CityNorth has been one of Phoenix's more controversial projects in recent years, with lots of financially strapped folks wondering why taxpayers were stuck with an "incentive" package to prospective tenants of about $100 million. Politics and big-money deals aside, we just love this open-air bar/restaurant right off the 101, especially between 3 and 7 p.m., when happy hour rules. Almost everything on the menu is half-price, and the food is awfully good and plentiful — the lamb chops, the hummus plate, the cheese board, and so on. The munchies are presented beautifully, and the servers who do the presenting aren't half bad, either. The happy hour crowd is distinctly different from the meat-market bunch that seems to dominate on the weekends and later on most evenings. The demographic is somewhat older, less (visibly) tattooed, and not nearly as rowdy. You can't beat the value at this uptown establishment, and that's why we find ourselves returning there again and again.
Tim Finnegan's Irish Restaurant & Pub
At Tim Finnegan's, happy hour is every day of the week, so even weekend warriors can nosh and get sloshed on the cheap. Premium wells for a mere three bucks, as well as half-price appetizers? We're sold. Especially when those half-price apps exemplify Old World Ireland transplanted smack-dab into the middle of the Southwest, like the corned beef and cabbage taquitos. It's an Irish classic with an identity crisis and it's served with both salsa verde and spicy mustard, further confusing its origins. We also recommend the half-price braised short rib sliders with onion strings, and a side of curry fries. Finally, you have a reason to visit Metrocenter.

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