Hillside Spot
Jackie Mercandetti

As far as we're concerned, the only spot to go for happy hour in Ahwatukee is chef Doug Robson's Hillside Spot for a bowl of crispy chips served with his nearly famous extra-hot red sauce for just $1. There's other stuff on the menu, like the absolutely horrible-for-you-but-tastes-so-good fried cheese crisp and an open-face grilled cheese sandwich — but the real draw is that hot sauce. Local brews from Oak Creek Brewing and Four Peaks are just $3, or you can knock $3 off specially selected wines by the glass. Happy hour runs from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. We highly recommend the patio, but sitting at the bar watching the kitchen do its thing is fun, too.

Johnny Fox's

Robbie Fox's little brother Johnny is just as much as a happy hour troublemaker as his older Tempe sib. Half off the entire menu from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday means $3 Jameson shots, $6 shots of Macallan 15-year, and $7 bowls of lamb stew. The public house is full of old-school Irish character and gets packed during happy hour and on weekend nights. But for $3 shots of Jameson, we're willing to brave the crowd. Bottoms up!

Vintage 95

The baby of the Boston Street block of eating and drinking hot spots, Vintage 95 gets our business when we want to relax with a couple of friends. The dimly lit wine bar reminds us of wintertime, with its plush leather couches and crackling fireplace — a welcome escape from the searing sun during the summer months. During the "Official Hours of Happiness" — that is, 4 to 6 p.m. daily and all day Wednesdays — you can score cocktails, bottle and draft beer, and wine by the glass or bottle for a discounted price, or you can go the smart route and take Vintage 95 up on this offer: Buy a bottle of wine and receive a free bruschetta board. For about $35, enjoy a whole bottle of a nice red with your choice of four different bruschettas topped with fab ingredients such as mascarpone, dates and pistachios, fig chutney, or housemade mozzarella.

Canteen Modern Tequila Bar

Tacos, tacos, and more tacos — that's what's on the menu at this popular Tempe hangout. Snag a seat on the restaurant/tequila bar's wrap-around patio for prime people-watching and killer margaritas. From 4 to 6:30 p.m., the appropriately named "Halfy Hour" offers everything on the beer and tequila menus for half price, as well as house margaritas, well drinks, and a decent-size selection of food. Skip the fish tacos and go straight for the pibil pork variety — and don't forget the chips and salsa.

Mabel's On Main

If you look up the word "swanky" in a dictionary (a big book of word definitions), there is a good chance that a picture of Mabel's on Main's sleek and inviting interior will be front and center. The lounge pays homage to its classic gentlemen's club roots with heavy chandeliers, leather wingback chairs, wood-paneled walls, and roomy booths. From 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, the lounge offers its whole menu at half-price. That means everything, including tangy mac and cheese for $4, a gourmet grilled cheese with prosciutto for $5, and any of its signature cocktails. And don't be scared of the happy hour clientele. The atmosphere is a bit more chill than the posh late-night scene.

Yucca Tap Room
Lauren Cusimano

If you've ever been to a weeknight show at the Yucca, you've no doubt seen Venus Salin behind the bar. Slaving away, pouring PBRs and craft beers, she serves not only as bartender but also as the front-of-house manager, turning off the jukebox when bands are ready to play and dispensing drink tokens to musicians who doubtless are scheming for free beer. It's a hard job, no doubt, but you wouldn't know it watching Venus, whose smooth moves and effortless smile make it seem as if she's been doing it forever — though her youthful looks certainly don't betray that she has.

Punk rock is a cyclical beast. It tends to blow up big once every decade, only to slink back into the shadows and reinvent itself before emerging once again. The same could be said for the Valley's punk scene, which has endured its fair shares of ebb and flow over the past 30-odd years as bands break up and bars close, only to be replaced by fresh faces or different venues. To wit: While punkers suffered through the loss of such landmark bars as Jugheads or Rogue West in recent years, they've recently embraced the Eastside Tap as a frequent destination. Probably because it has the hallmarks of a great punk spot: a divey feel, PBR and Hamm's on tap or in cans, and a diverse jukebox loaded up with everything from psychobilly to ska. More important, owner Johnny Tabeek has started bringing in local bands that rock a rebellious vibe, whether it's the three-chord vulgarity of Dirty Hairy and Gunrunners, the rockabilly strains of 13 to the Gallows, or the outlaw alt-country of Adam Lee Cogswell. Fittingly, the joint is just down the street from the old Jugheads, which means punks will be in familiar territory when visiting the Eastside Tap.

Meat Market Garment Factory
Jason P. Woodbury

At Meat Market Garment Factory, it's business up front, party in the back. We're not suggesting that Ben Funke or Cory Martinez, the fashionable young couple who run this small DIY venue, proudly sport Kentucky Waterfalls. We simply are describing how things are set up here. The anterior portion of this under-the-radar space, located in a Tempe office park, is devoted to storing stock for their Mill Avenue clothing shop Meat Market Vintage, while the rear is where underground punk, hardcore, and indie rock shows are staged. Despite being in the same ilk as other lo-fi industrial storage venues like the dank (and now-shuttered) Yellow Canary Dancehall, MMGF has some charm and actual décor to it, including retro-style salon hairdryers serving as seating and a variety of quirky-looking sweaters and shirts hanging from the ceiling rafters. And then there's the old neon signage from defunct punker haven Eastside Records, which Funke (a longtime member of the local music scene) somehow got his hands on and placed along one wall. It adds an extra bit of punk legitimacy to the proceedings.

Hollywood Alley

Mesa bar Hollywood Alley is a longstanding fixture in the Phoenix scene, known as a home to hip-hop, punk, garage, and, notably, metal. In recent years, a specific brand of powerful and crushing Phoenix metal has found a home at the venue, with bands like Daughters of Fission, TwinGiant, Enirva, and Hogjaw lugging heavy amps into the bar to blast the down-tuned stuff. It's not bonehead metal, the scene that gathers at the Alley — it's something else, something knottier and more complicated, but not lost up its own rear end or lacking soul. The Alley's been around forever, and if it's home to this kind of stuff, we hope it never goes away.

Gammage Auditorium

You can't ask for much more. On a cool evening (Saturday, January 21, to be exact) Wilco performed at beautiful Gammage Auditorium. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the pink wedding cake of a structure is, arguably, not the best when it comes to acoustics. Didn't matter this night. Carefully blending disparate elements of country rock, experimental German art music, driving pop, and blue-eyed soul, songwriter Jeff Tweedy and his band had the sold-out audience swooning. The stage was gorgeous, bathed in blue light with orange accents on hanging papier-mâché cut-outs. The set was perfect, featuring crowd favorites like "Hotel Arizona" and the ecsatic "Impossible Germany." It's one of those shows you lie and say you were at even if you weren't. In a word, legendary.

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