Best Gay Bar 2017 | Kobalt | Nightlife | Phoenix
Lauren Cusimano

Everyone's favorite Park Central Mall hangout also happens to be the Valley's best gay bar. Kobalt makes the grade for two main reasons: killer karaoke nights and even better happy hour specials. But what keeps locals returning to this CenPho hot spot is the community vibe. Service is great, and the staff is friendly. And these folks know how to host events. Whether it's show tunes on Saturdays, all-day happy hour on Fridays, or drag bingo on Mondays, Kobalt has you covered every night of the week. And we certainly aren't mad about the free popcorn and condoms.

Kinda gay. Kinda goth. Kinda sounds like the perfect combo, no? That's the vibe you'll find at Stacy's @ Melrose, a central Phoenix staple of the LGBTQ community. As the name indicates, the bar is located on the Melrose Curve, a stretch of Seventh Avenue that's long been known for being gay- and lesbian-friendly. And Stacy's has fit right in since opening in 2013. Inside the bar, which you might mistake for a church at first glance, patrons can expect tasty cocktails, craft beer, evenings dedicated to music trivia bingo and house music, and the long-running Sour Times dark indie night on Wednesdays, when drinks are two for one.

The drag scene in this town is anything but a drag, and Friday nights at Plazma in the Coronado district prove it. The rules to Celia Putty's Freaky Friday are simple: There's no cover if you order a cocktail, stay open-minded, and get ready to join a conga line at the end of the show. One of the Valley's staple drag queens, Celia Putty has started the show at 9 p.m. on the Plazma stage for years, and it usually begins with opening acts from friends like local queens Egypt, Coco St James, and Devina Ross. Expect jokes, gowns, costumes, lip-syncing, dancing, a weird movie playing on the flat-screens in the background, and this being Celia Putty, a lot of props.

Lauren Cusimano

Named for the Isle of Man motorcycle race, Roadhouse is a fitting title for this motorcycle and regular cycle neighborhood dive bar in south Scottsdale. There's a punk vibe inside the wood-paneled walls (one of them supporting a massive print of Brigitte Bardot) of the two-room hangout, and when owner Skoog and crew aren't hosting live shows or DJs, the jukebox is usually on full blast. Packed with punk, rock, punk rock, and lots of outlaw country, you'll typically hear jams from early AFI, NOFX, Hank III, The Pixies, Manic Hispanic, Agent Orange, Johnny Cash, and others. There are also quite a few punk and country compilations featuring everyone from Strung Out to Johnny Paycheck. You can also look forward to the high-end whiskey and craft beer at the bar, the custom-felt pool table, the shady smoking patio, and some of your new favorite bartenders and drinking buddies.

Lauren Cusimano

Who puts the "eff you" in fun? The Rock. And we don't mean Dwayne Johnson. This Melrose Curve gay bar is a go-to for karaoke — and it's no slouch when it comes to drag shows and dance parties, either. On Monday nights, however, karaoke queens take over the small dive. You might not encounter would-be pro pop stars on the mic, and that's totally the point. Here, it's about enthusiasm, vodka cocktails, and not necessarily about showing off your wannabe Christina Aguilera pipes. Nobody's gonna be mad if you just so happen to belt out some flawless Whitney or Dolly. Same goes if you can't quite carry a Britney tune.

Ryan Rousseau is a man of few words and a whole lotta records. When the longtime rocker isn't fronting psych-punk outfit Destruction Unit (or one of his many other musical projects), chances are good you'll find him out and spinning select vinyl oddities at Valley Bar or The Womack under the moniker DJ Gila Man. Expect stoned psychedelic grooves, outer-space trips, and assorted far-out sounds when Rousseau mans the ones and twos. In other words? The Gila Man will serve up out-there shit that's probably playing nowhere else in town.

You might know Les Sias better as Les735 or simply DJ Les. Regardless, the Phoenix turntablist knows a thing or three about scratching. Sias showed off his mad spinning skills during the 2017 DMC Phoenix Regional DJ Battle at The Rebel Lounge. Let's just say he wowed the crowd while going head-to-head with the Southwest's most notable scratch kings, because Sias earned himself a spot at the DMC National DJ Battles, held in August at New York City's Highline Ballroom. Les took his tables on the road, and the trip marked the Valley DJ's second shot at competing at the national showdown, as he also competed back in 2013.

Benjamin Leatherman

What is Elaine's fake phone number? Which Seinfeld episode title is the only one to not start with "The?" If you could possibly know the answer to these questions, your place is Seinfeld Trivia at Valley Bar. This free, basement-based competition is known as The Trivia Night About Absolutely Nothing, and they are right. What is Jerry's apartment number? You see? Team names are always fun, like "They're Real and They're Spectacular" and "Cherry Binaca," and prizes include everything from big stickers of Kramer and George to muffin tops and Junior Mints. Seinfeld Trivia is hosted by Emily The Lewis, and music is often provided by DJ Shane Kennedy. Craft cans are often a dollar off, and there is but one major rule: no phones.

Leave it to Anwar Newton and Dan Thomson to turn something called Literally the Worst Show Ever into literally one of the most talked-about events in downtown. The local comedians teamed up back in 2015 to launch the underground variety show, and they've been more or less selling out tickets ever since. Almost every month, Newton and Thomson take the stage with a live band and four comics of their choosing. What follows is two hours of well-planned unpredictability and entertainment. Get your tickets fast and grab a seat early, because Literally the Worst Show Ever is currently one of best ways to spend a Friday night.

Courtesy photo

If sports bars are supposed to be large, dark rooms with wall-to-wall TV screens airing every game under the sun, and maybe a lengthy, Italian-themed menu of pizza, wings, subs, and beer, then Santisi Brothers in north central Phoenix knows how to satisfy. Set in the Bell Canyon Pavilions off Interstate 17, Santisi Brothers has more than 100 televisions and features the "Wide Wall of Sports" — meaning one wall alone has over 60 televisions (including 11 65-inch screens). This joint also runs every operation from fantasy football and paint nights to karaoke, poker, and a game room with pool tables and arcade cabinets. Of course, super-loud football games and fights are best paired with calzones, strombolis, and their famous garlic knots.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of