Cactus Jack's
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Everything seems bigger at Cactus Jack's, which is one of its many charms. Well drinks come in pint glasses and aren't stingy on booze, daily happy hour food and alcohol deals offer big-time savings, and the $3.99 brats served on Saturdays are downright hefty. Plus, the digs at this Ahwatukee neighborhood bar not only are spacious but loaded with distractions aplenty, including felt-covered tables for Texas Hold'em sessions, basketball and bowling games, ping-pong, dart machines, and one of the longest shuffleboard tables we've ever seen. So roomy is that particular corner of the bar that it's usually where local bands and musicians perform during Friday night shows, including local blues guitarist Carvin Jones, who's been known to strut around venues while wailing away on his six-string. He'd better bring along one of his extra-long guitar cables.

An amiable neighborhood spot with the soul of a dive bar, Tony's offers its patrons the best of both worlds with heavyweight pours, sporty thrills, and an impressive (for a gin joint, that is) beer selection. And though the Glendale favorite features a spit-and-polish vibe, new-ish carpet, and faux brick from a remodel a few years back, its cocktail lounge roots are still evident via all the pressboard wood paneling peeking out, photos of regulars taped to cracked mirrors, and its $2.50 PBR tallboy cans. It ain't the only trendy brew getting snatched up for cheap by the younger-skewing crowd (which includes students from the Thunderbird School of Global Management across the street), as pints of Stella, Rolling Rock, and Goose Island IPA are $3 apiece, and Peroni and Guinness are among the bottled imports and domestics. Check the whiteboards for other specials (like $3.75 Seagrams Bombers) and apply any dollars saved toward a game of pool, which has a major following here, as evidenced by a wall heavy on league plaques. Should some shark run the table on you, there's an ATM over in one corner.

Blooze Bar

Hang out at the Blooze long enough and eventually you'll cross paths with its enigmatic and unforgettable owner, Tumbleweed. And, yes, most of the wild tales you've heard about this mountain of a man (whose enormous salt-and-pepper beard puts the dudes from Duck Dynasty to shame) are likely true. And his establishment is more or less a monument to his passions in life, including hard rock, motorhead culture, and NASCAR. A row of black-and-white illustrations of famous drivers like Dale Jarrett, Kevin Harvick, and the late Dale Earnhardt hangs alongside the bar, pics of hot rods and explosive crashes are underneath lacquered tabletops, and there are checkered flags everywhere, like the large sign advertising inexpensive beer prices. That includes the PBR that's drunk by the gallon during its famously rowdy rockabilly sessions, held weekly since 2005. "We never have a happy hour. Everything's just cheap," remarks one purple-haired and overly tattooed female bartender. Tumbleweed wouldn't have it any other way.

Closing Soon Saloon

First, the good news: The Closing Soon won't be doing that anytime soon, so there's plenty of time to visit this Scottsdale dive institution. Just head up 68th Street and look for the word "BAR" painted in tall white letters and surrounded by twinkling Christmas lights (natch) on its front window. Second, a few patrons might eyeball you upon entry, but it's nothing personal. They're a tight-knit but fun bunch here, probably because they're packed quite cozily into the short-on-space digs and as salty as the peanuts you can nab for 75 cents. Use the change to pick up one of the used paperbacks for sale, light up the Addams Family pinball machine, or dunk in the "quarter drop" game on the bar. If you're lucky (or skilled) enough to hit the shot glass in the center, the bartender knocks a buck off whatever cocktail or draft you desire. Consider using the discount to buy a stiff one and break the ice with one of the blue-collar regulars, although they'd probably prefer a no-frills cocktail or cold one instead of a pudding shot or drunken gummy bears.

Baseline Pub

If it happens to be your first-ever time ever inside the Baseline Pub and co-owner Tom Panopoulos is about, don't be surprised if a free shot somehow winds up in front of you. The 52-year-old proprietor is known to occasionally offer a complimentary dram of spirits to newbie customers (usually after barking "Get 'em a shot" at his bartenders), a practice that illustrates the affable nature of Panopoulos and his establishment. It's earned the Tempe neighborhood joint a loyal patronage who dig its lovably well-worn atmosphere, the seemingly never-ending buckets of free peanuts, hanging out in the den-like game room (complete with ping-pong table) in the back, or the fact they can stash their purses or pool cues in a curtain-covered closet next to the bar without worry. Plus, those who visit often enough tend to be hip to when the next time the free "I'm a Pubber" T-shirts will be given out. Riffing on the old Dr Pepper slogan from the '70s, these crimson-colored shirts are produced in batches of around 100 or so and tend to go quickly, as regulars sport them with pride as proof of their O.G. status. Wanna be a Pubber too? Better start visiting more often.

Best Neighborhood Bar, Southeast Valley

Jupe's

Jupe's
Lauren Cusimano

Jupe's isn't exactly what you'd call stylish, but it's certainly charming as hell. A homespun and comfortably shabby townie bar serving Mesa drinkers since 1982, it's operated by an amiable clan of Midwestern transplants who keep the lighting low, the drink prices even lower, and a freezer stocked with frosty mugs. Named for the family's dearly departed patriarch, whose portrait graces one wall, Jupe's features a downright folksy and come-as-you-are atmosphere, as illustrated by the occasional regular wearing pajama pants. There's also a vintage Marlboro Man clock above the bar that never seems to work and at least one TV perpetually tuned to CMT. Well, unless it's pigskin season, which means every screen in the house showcases the jocks of either the Minnesota Vikings or the University of North Dakota. And if you decide to visit during the game in your jammies, be sure you're wearing the purple and gold variety.

El Hefe Super Macho Taqueria

As is widely thought in some circles, Sundays are supposed to be a day of rest. That obviously doesn't include the party fiends that cram into Scottsdale's El Hefe every week for one final fete before the weekend's done. Kicking off in the afternoon, 4-2-10 Sundays are five-alarm ragers of beats, booze, and scandalous behavior that typically go past midnight and fill the Saddlebag Trail taquería to capacity. As a result, the SRO situation includes tabletops and booths becoming improvised dance floors as DJs like resident Thomas James sling Top 40 and electro-house from a catwalk. Hits aren't the only thing raining down, as go-go girls fire off CO2 cannons and confetti poppers while standing atop El Hefe's bar. And at one off-the-hook party 4-2-10 party last month, a number of inflatable zebras were dropped from the ceiling, adding a touch of wildlife to an already wild scene.

Karamba

It's last call, which typically means hitting the bricks, hitting up fast food, then hitting the sack, right? Maybe for you, quitter, but we're not letting the state-mandated buzzkill end our night. We're bound for Karamba, where after-hours adventures await and the party keeps going up until 4 a.m. on weekends. And once the taps are turned off and the booze bottles get stowed, the mood, music, and energy level at the popular discoteca (which has offered wee-hour wingdings for Valley insomniacs for more than a decade now) begins to change. DJ Jesus Vega holsters all the cumbias, salsas, and other Latin sounds in his extensive arsenal in favor of Top 40 music videos and uptempo EDM mixes. Meanwhile, 18-and-over types (who are allowed in after the liquor service ceases) begin to deluge the place, drain its energy drink supply dry, and get in some late-night booty-shaking alongside Karamba's always-colorful Latino clientele. Who says youth is wasted on the young?

It never fails. Every single weekend, Swift Rides manager Matt Simon gets asked the same annoying question by potential fares and inebriated coeds: Do you go all the way to North Scottsdale? And the answer, as always, is no. Same for Tempe, Mesa, or any other location more than a few miles away from Old Town Scottsdale or the entire entertainment district. "When I get that question, I usually start joking about how it'll take four hours and I don't have the gas," he says. Per city code, each of the company's fleet of gas-fueld or electrically powered golf carts is verboten from most major thoroughfares and sticks to side roads. (According to Simon, the area of coverage runs from Hayden Road west to 68th Street, and from Earll Drive north to Chaparral Road.) For most of the operating hours (which run from the early afternoon until 3 a.m. daily), Swift Rides drivers are running entire entourages between bars, taking tourists from their hotels to the hottest restaurants, or spiriting folks to a drive-thru for late-night eats. Then comes last call, when the mass exodus begins and every single cart is packed. Because who in their right mind wants to endure the walk of shame?

Mabel's On Main

Speakeasies are totally awesome and all, but when it comes to getting our hands on an old-school drink that doesn't require a top secret password or a 30-minute wait, our go-to spot is Mabel's on Main. From the outside, the nondescript patio and building do nothing to indicate what you'll find inside: wingback chairs, dark wooden bar, and leather booths — in fact, the only thing keeping you from feeling totally lost in time might be the flat-screen televisions mounted on the walls. And the retro vibe doesn't stop there. The cocktail menu always includes at least one back-from-the-dead cocktail (think, a French 75 or a classic Hemingway), as well as plenty of other vintage beverage options. It also doesn't hurt that the barkeeps usually sport old-school attire like buttoned-up vests or suspenders and always are ready to chat up a storm or give you the history behind the drinks.

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