Best Neighborhood Bar, Downtown Phoenix

FilmBar

FilmBar

It would be enough for FilmBar to provide downtown Phoenix patrons with the kind of art-house fare you don't get at mall cinemas, but FilmBar doesn't stop there. The "bar" in FilmBar is just as impressive, offering not only a chill place to hang out and a nice selection of craft beers, but music unlike any other club in town (courtesy of selectors like Djentrification, whose Saturday night Palace World Music party is the most unique sound going). The seating is communal, low, and plush, and the vibe on a Saturday night is energetic but friendly, mellow, and, like the neighborhood that houses it, funky enough to freak out uptight squares.

The Loft Again Lounge

It's a good thing that the proprietors of this North Valley gin joint have a couple of large clocks hanging near the bar to remind patrons of the passage of time. Otherwise, it's likely that they might waste away the entire day huddled away inside The Loft Again. (As a matter of fact, it seems a few of the regulars wind up doing so anyway.) It's hard to pry yourself away from any of the comfy barstools and head home when this darkened drinking den offers so much: They keep the AC blasting and the lights dimmed inside, allowing you the chance to drink in both comfort and seclusion. A daily happy hour showcases $2.50 well cocktails and $2.25 domestic longnecks, the bartending staff has a tendency toward heavy pours, and salty snacks like popcorn and potato chips are readily available. If your stomach's rumbling for something other than bar snacks, the staff occasionally brings in home-cooked dishes like chili or sloppy joes. If you get bored, there's music trivia bingo on Tuesdays, open mic on Wednesdays, and live rock bands on the weekend. Hang out here long enough and your mug might be pasted onto the ongoing photo collage of regulars along one wall, or maybe on a "missing" poster that your family will end up circulating.

Brad's Place

Cozy neighborhood bars are hard to come by in the corporate strip-mall haven of Ahwatukee, but there is at least one place you can go where everybody knows your name. Brad's Place is a little bit dive bar, a little bit sports bar, and a whole lot of neighborhood friendliness. The beers are always cold, the burgers are big, and if there's a Vikings game on, you'd better be rooting for the Vikes.

Enoch's Sports Lounge

So you say like to sing, huh? This colorful West Valley watering hole, tucked away in the corner of a Peoria strip mall behind a McDonald's, offers some extremely lively karaoke nights four nights a week from Thursday until Sunday. It's just one of the many draws of Enoch's, which also offers a daily happy hour commencing at 6 a.m. each day and a menu filled with tasty bar grub. People-watching also is a favorite pastime, as patrons run the gamut, from the blue-collar crowd and neighborhood regulars who stop by after the workday is done to the beautiful babes who pack the place on nights and weekends. Still bored? Try your hand at billiards, darts, or perhaps some arcade games, or maybe just listen to the informative-yet-inane pontifications of some barstool philosopher perched next to you.

Best Neighborhood Bar, Southeast Valley

Groggy's

Groggy's

As the cocktail-swilling frog depicted on the vintage neon-filled sign portends, Groggy's is a neighborhood bar of the dive variety. As such, this Mesa drinking destination possesses just the right mix of laid-back charm and slummy thrills, not to mention all the appropriate hole-in-the-wall trappings: a claw game stocked with adult novelties, hipster college kids from nearby schools, a menu of cheap and greasy snacks, and chairs with a little bit of wobble to 'em. Thankfully for pool sharks, the joint's billiards equipment is kept in pristine condition — that is, all the cues are straight and the felt on each of the half-dozen tables doesn't boast any stains or rips. Games are always 50 cents, daily food specials are available, and the weekday happy hour offers $2.50 well drinks and $2 domestic pints. While one can drink and dine on the cheap, try not to overindulge unless you wanna resemble the inebriated amphibian outside.

Baer's Den

Baer's Den used to be one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of bars, as its teeny-tiny former location tucked alongside a motel was literally about the size of a one-car garage. After moving about 200 feet down Apache Boulevard earlier this year, however, this sports and spirits paradise is now housed in bigger and much more prominent digs. Thankfully, owner Scott Baer kept the bar's wood-paneled walls, as well as the cozy aura and amiable atmosphere that's not unlike the convivial dives that the East Coast native used to frequent before moving out west more than two decades ago. Since there are more HDTVs around the place and the bar and patio are both larger, there's less jockeying for elbow room amongst the ASU coeds who frequent Baer's for a drink or a glimpse at the game. Sun Devils looking for an after-class adult beverage or residents from the surrounding neighborhood enjoying any of the 10 beers on tap or $2 tequila shots on Tuesdays aren't the only ones who cruise into Baer's Den, as it's a major haven for Red Sox fans and other devotees of Boston's fabled sports franchises. So it might behoove you to never besmirch Tom Brady or utter the names Bucky Dent and Bill Buckner when stopping by for a cocktail.

Roadrunner Lounge
Lauren Cusimano

For some barflies and day drinkers, neighborhood watering holes practically serve as virtual homes away from home. This seems particularly true at this homey Scottsdale dive, which boasts den-like décor and has the well-worn comfy feel of a personal bar set up in someone's basement, right down to the pressboard walls and cheesy billiards-themed fabric lining the barstools. Heck, even the smoking patio could double as a laundry room, as patrons sit at a makeshift table made from an old washtub sink or set their drinks on a percolating water heater. As such, stepping into the Roadrunner on any given night is like stopping by a neighbor's house to down some cheap beer (cans of Milwaukee's Best and Pabst Blue Ribbon are always $1.50) or a strong cocktail, check out the game, or possibly engage in a friendly game of pool. The place always seems packed with a colorful mix of people who sometimes engage in the sort of weirdly inspired conversations you'd hear only at a backyard barbecue or house party.

Cafe Bink
Timur Guseynov

A food lover's dream is being able to afford just one six-course tasting from top Arizona restaurant Binkley's. At $96 per person, it probably won't happen for us anytime soon, but now that Binkley's sister restaurant, Café Bink, has a happy hour, we can try a little bit of Bink for just a little bit of cash. From 3 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, you can experience creative tastes from James Beard Award finalist Kevin Binkley without a Binkley price tag. Roast beef sliders ($2.50), wagyu beef burgers ($7), award-winning fries ($5), and crisp green salads ($4) all are on the dirt-cheap menu. Pair your gourmet eats with half-price glasses of wine, draft and bottled beers, and well drinks for the best happy hour deal in town. You may have to ditch work to drive to Carefree (which isn't technically in Phoenix, but it is north), but sometimes you have to sacrifice a silly report to please your taste buds.

Christopher's Restaurant and Crush Lounge
Lauren Saria

When we need more than just a cheap plate of nachos and a room-temperature Coors Light, we call up our favorite happy hour buddies and head over to James Beard Award-winning chef Christopher Gross' restaurant at the Biltmore. From 3 to 6 p.m. every single day of the week, you can score gourmet burgers, truffled frites, wood-fired pizzas with exotic toppings, and cheese plates — all of which are half-price at Christopher's Kitchen Bar or at Crush Lounge. If you're thirsty, all well cocktails, wine, and beers also are half-price.

The Main Ingredient Ale House
Evie Carpenter

After a long day at our 9 to 5, there is nothing we want more than to be drinking a pint of cold craft beer and listening to our favorite old-school jams on the patio of The Main Ingredient. The renovated 1920s Coronado neighborhood bungalow turned restaurant always has an enticing selection of local and craft beers on tap and a glass of wine for as little as $4, as well as cocktail specials. Main Ingredient doesn't feature specials on food, but with its drink prices so cheap, we're willing to shell out $4 for a bowl of housemade salsa and our favorite chips, made at La Tolteca.


Editor's note: This Best of has been edited from its original version.

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