Best Gay Bar 2014 | Charlie's | Bars & Clubs | Phoenix
Matt Hennie

Trust the well-toned, denim-clad cowboys behind the rustic bar at Charlie's — there are more than a handful of reasons to get there early and stay late. Beyond afternoon volleyball, evening dance classes and nightly drink specials, this downtown staple is home to regular entertainment from a cast of characters, after-hours parties and drink specials including "undie Mondays" and "half off with your pants off." Drink to your line-dancing heart's desire and soak it up with a plate of tacos and quesadillas from the regular taco truck, Taqueria Los Yaquis (with a very convenient service window into Charlie's back patio). You'll thank the cowboys in the morning.

Prepare to see and be seen when you walk through the unassuming doors of what regulars call "The Cash," a longtime favorite of local gays and lesbians. At the Western-themed bar, line dancing, dart-throwing, pool-shooting, and karaoke-ing are queen — and can all be the center of attention from the barstools that line the dimly lit bar and dance floor. The Cash is home to regular (and free!) dance lessons and an eclectic playlist, which make for an entertaining view.

Mountain views and resort bars go together like gin and tonic, but BLT Steak is more than just a pretty face. Classy digs and a comfy lounge area make you feel right at home — you know, if your home were a pricey resort. Add to that those cheesy, warm, and gooey popovers, some herbaceous escargot, and bright, citrusy hamachi and you have some fancy eats to match the atmosphere. Local and national craft brews on draft are available, but chances are you won't be able to pass up cocktail creations like the fig-infused Old Fashioned, apricot pie sidecar, or the mango Moscow Mule. For those looking for a romantic spot that's sure to woo, BLT Steak is the place.

Benjamin Leatherman

Nestled among the carnicerías and bodegas of 16th Street, the Royale Lounge is a dive in the classic sense of the word. Low lit and adorned by the humming red neon of its classy sign, the Royale is big on cheap drinks and low on pretension. Eighty-something bartender "Miss Lil" knows the regulars, and she's so sweet you'll feel like one in no time. Hip bars love to aim for the dive bar feel, but there are some things that can't be faked, and the lowdown warmth of the Royale Lounge is as real as it gets.

When we get to missing Jolly Old England, we head over to Rose & Crown, where we can tip back one (or two!) of 50 local and imported beers. Belhaven Scottish Ale, anyone? How about an Old Speckled Hen? The Ploughman's Plate — an assortment of cheese, crackers, seasonal fruit, vegetables and a dollop of Scotch Egg — is London-perfect, as are the fish cakes and pub wings, just like we remember them from the Cotswalds. We love the cheeky yanks who work there, and the always-friendly crowd gathered round to watch the game or chew the rag. Cheerio, old bean — see you at the laid-back and veddy veddy British Rose & Crown.

We'll admit we've never been to Ireland, but from what we can tell, Rosie McCaffrey's is everything that a good Irish pub should be. Everything from the dark and cozy wooden booths to the top-notch fish and chips makes us feel like we've left the Valley of the Sun for greener — and we mean that literally — pastures. At Rosie's, there's always plenty of whiskey to be had and a seemingly endless supply of dark Irish beers, whether your brew of choice be Guinness or something else. The food, though nothing particularly gourmet, is just the type of hearty bar food to keep you going through a particularly whiskey-soaked day of drinking. We're big fans of the Irish Reuben egg rolls, which combine corned beef and sauerkraut in handy egg roll form. A perfect drinking snack that still leaves a hand free for your beer.

Jennifer Goldberg

Coffee and cigarettes may claim to be the classic combination of the starving artist — the peanut butter and jelly of hipsters, if you will — but Shady's begs to differ. This neighborhood hub has established itself as the go-to nightlife designation for nicotine lovers. While Shady's keeps the interior interesting with a full bar, pool table, lounge chairs, and a jukebox, the outdoor patio is the place that truly packs in the people. Whether you're blowing smoke literally or figuratively, Shady's patio is the perfect spot for conversation, cocktails, and a cold hard cigarette or 10.

Lauren Cusimano

We really do try to get to other sports bars around town, but for some reason, we always seem to end up at Duke's.

Aside from the fact that this standby Scottsdale bar boasts more television screens than a Best Buy, we love that it's got several separate spaces for multiple games' audio to be on at once. Plus, this place covers all the basics: The staff is always friendly, the food is always greasy and good, and there's always plenty of cold beer on tap. Duke's Sports Bar's icing on the cake includes the Sunday morning Bloody Mary bar and the dog-friendly patio that's conveniently located next to a large park.

The Q & Brew is not about the bells and whistles of billiards. It's a straight-ahead place, but its charms are simple and palpable. You go here for cheap drinks, a solid jukebox, and pool tables. There are bonuses, too, like the excellent pinball machine near the entrance and a top-notch smoking patio, but at the end of the day, it's really all about those great pool tables. On a Friday night, the place can get pretty popping, and a couple of local pool leagues meet there throughout the week. The Q & Brew is as legit as it gets, with a plush leather bar and snacks if you're hungry, and it's stood proud in its current location for 27 years. Here's to another couple decades in Tempe.

When the kids are away, the adults will play — most likely, at CityScape's Gypsy Bar in downtown. This recess from responsibility is the go-to spot for grownups looking to get down. At Gypsy bar, the dating game gets literal with arcade favorites Pac-Man, Guitar Hero, NBA Hoops, skee ball, air hockey, and more than 30 others in the Gypsy Game Lounge.

Sure, pimping may not be easy, but playing sure is, thanks to Gypsy's full bar, club dance floor, and weekend nightlife events like Socialite Fridays, Peep Me Saturdays, and Gypsy Moon Sundays in the summer. With the always-flowing drinks and distractions, it's easy to see why this downtown barcade scores serious points.

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