Stinger's Sports Bar
Benjamin Leatherman

There are more than enough sports bars in Stinger's neighborhood, and they all seem to embrace their rough-around-the-edges appearance. But no one likes to walk into a bar full of regulars and feel the burning stare of patrons and employees demanding, "Why are you here?" Though Stinger's is sure to be full of regulars on any given night, we like its sociable attitude and the bartenders' welcoming service. Whether you're in to watch the game or just grab a drink, there's going to be plenty to watch at this true sports bar. Considering the in-house pool league, off-track betting, dartboards and other games, Stinger's offers quite a showing — besides the action on the numerous TVs, of course.

Cactus Moon Sports Grill

There's no shortage of places to catch a game in the East Valley, but forget about finding a seat if you don't stake out a spot well before kickoff. That's when we head to Cactus Moon. Because whether we show up in the first half or the bottom of the ninth, there's always room for us and our beer. We'll admit we were skeptical of a sports bar in the Mesa Riverview shopping complex, but there's nothing corporate about this family-run operation. Even after the final whistle blows, we stick around for when they clear the floor for late-night fun. Our favorite is Thursday's country-Western theme.

Native New Yorker

Okay, so it's a chain. But being located within spitting distance of a college campus means this sports bar — excuse us, "sports-themed family restaurant" — gets real rowdy on game day. Our favorite nights of the week are easily Tuesday and Thursdays, when we can order a plateful of wings for just 45 cents apiece. This place bleeds college-casual atmosphere, and with its recent renovations, we're happy to stay for this game and the next. Bar food is bar food, but Native New Yorker's unique wing flavors such as Honey Hot, Parmesan Dusted, Strawberry Hot, and Spicy Honey Mustard mean your taste buds don't have to get bored or burned.

Duke's Sports Bar & Grill
Lauren Cusimano

There are quite a few reasons we love coming to Duke's, not the least of which is owner Al McMarthy, a man who's not afraid to hop on the mic and make the whole place cheer for a table of champion beer league softball players. We also love Duke's because it has enough TVs to satiate our totally neurotic need to view every sporting event at once. And because the place respects our waistlines. While we're sure to guzzle well over our daily allowance of calories in beer, we can reconcile our conscience with Duke's extensive salad menu. We appreciate a sports bar where greens aren't a just a second thought or a sad excuse of a side dish. Most importantly, with three rooms and large patio spaces, you don't have to sit anywhere near the enemy fan camp.

Palo Verde Lounge
Jacob Tyler Dunn

They don't call it the "Dirty Verde" for nothing. The Palo Verde Lounge in Tempe has earned its reputation as a thoroughly rock 'n' roll watering hole the old-fashioned way: serving up cold domestic beers, not spending too much time mopping the floors, and never catering to the snooty hipster set. The kind of bands that take stage (the floor space directly in front of the arcade machines) are hip, but the kind of hip that understands that the coolest thing anyone or anything can do is not waste valuable drinking and rocking time worrying about what's cool and what isn't. The jukebox is stocked with the same kind of "take no guff" classics — so don't visit expecting some cheap chic façade. The P.V. is the real deal, and thank the rock 'n' roll gods for it.

Blooze Bar

If the black walls of the Blooze Bar could talk, they'd probably sing some rollicking yarn in 4/4 time about all the evils that both women and the bottle hath wrought. After all, they are the sort of ditties that are dispensed in this North Phoenix venue during its long-running rockabilly night every Thursday. A big portion of Valley rockabilly history has unfolded on its stage each week for more than five years, as a nonstop parade of local hepcat bands have primped their pompadours and plucked their standup basses here. Any local rockabilly or psychobilly act worth mentioning has pulled a gig at the Blooze, whether it's veteran favorites (like The Rhythm Dragons or Pat Roberts and the Heymakers) or scene newbies like Trailer Queen. Meanwhile, flocks of femme fatales sporting Bettie Page 'dos and countless tattoos break plenty of hearts of would-be suitors in the audience, and local custom-car clubs are known to show off their supercharged vintage hot rods in the parking lot.

Kobalt
Lauren Cusimano

The drink pixies behind the granite-topped bar at this upscale gay-oriented drinkery in the heart of Park Central Mall aren't stingy with either their smiles or their pours. Kobalt's cocktails are ridiculously potent, which may explain why the place always buzzes with laughter, vivacious conversation, and enlivened antics. It's also one of the reasons why Kobalt draws a diverse clientele from across the LGBTQ spectrum into its mellow and immaculately decorated milieu, where anything goes and everyone's welcome, even if they happen to be straight. No one bats an eye when a 6-foot-2 drag queen teeters into the place on stiletto heels for Taylor Made's illusionist extravaganzas on the first Saturday of the month, nor do they care when singers vocalize at the twice-weekly karaoke sessions on Sundays and Tuesdays. Ditto for whenever club kids tromp around during the high-energy dance night on Fridays and Saturdays or when well-groomed types stop by for massages and martinis on Wednesday. Kobalt's bartenders simply give a knowing wink and fill the glass with something strong.

Cash Inn Country

Spend a Friday or Saturday night at the Cash, as some regulars refer to it, and you're likely to witness a real life episode of The L Word, writ large. Crammed to the rafters every weekend with members of the Sappho set, this CenPho saloon is one of the most enduring lesbian bars in the Valley, kicking around the scene for nearly two decades. Catering to a colorful cross-section of unforgettable patrons — ranging from jockish-looking ladies in shorts and T-shirts to femme fatales in revealing outfits and tattooed punk princesses sporting belt buckles that state "It ain't gonna lick itself" — Cash Inn features poker on Sundays and Wednesdays, free darts and $2.50 domestics and well cocktails on Tuesdays, and sassy bartenders who call you "honey" seven nights a week. Hit the place during line-dancing night on Thursdays and you'll see nothing but cowgirls learning how to two-step. Meanwhile, weekends have a more diverse musical menu of rock and hip-hop from DJ Steele.

Hookah Mania

No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. The manager did, in fact, stick a small bowl hewn from an apple and packed with shisha atop your water pipe. Or maybe it was made from watermelon or a pear. Regardless, adding the fresh-cut produce helps accentuate any of Hookah Mania's 40 flavored tobaccos with a fruity zest. It's one of the many amenities that the staff at this Tempe hookah lounge adjacent to Lebanese restaurant Mijana provides to its patrons. Attentive service is another, as they'll eagerly whisk out aromatic pots of potent Turkish coffee, dishes laden with Middle Eastern cuisine, or a few extra coals for your nargile. The atmosphere is both communal and chill as couples, families, and college kids gather in cozy seating areas filled with vintage and velvety furniture and decorated with warm colors, exotic-looking artwork, and glowing candles. A mellow buzz of conversation fills the air along with wafts of Arabic pop music, the chatter of friends playing card games, and the ever-present bubbling of sweet-smelling smoke being huffed.

Zoan

Long ago and far away, lighting up a cigarette used to signify style, sophistication, and class. (Try picturing the iconic Humphrey Bogart prowling around Rick's Café Américain in Casablanca without a Camel clutched in hand). That era, however, is long since past. These days, smokers have been relegated to pariah status and exiled to butt-strewn smoking areas outside local bars or banished to the parking lot to take a puff. Well, unless they happen to be hanging out at Zoan, that is. This CenPho establishment offers nicotine fiends a tony-looking parlor adjacent to the main bar in which to smoke away until their lungs cry uncle while still being able to enjoy their drinks. Earlier this year, owner Rhonda Walden had one wall of Zoan's posh lounge replaced with a latticework of metal bars and screens, transforming it into an open-air smoking patio. It's 100 percent legal in the eyes of the law, not to mention being easy on the eyes. Abstract art lines the walls, while ornate furnishings and warm light decorates the room. A flatscreen TV broadcasts high-energy dance music videos and the both a pool table and dart machine are available for play. Best of all, the room is so well ventilated that it doesn't reek of tobacco, unlike many of its patrons after they get done sucking on a few Marlboros.

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