Charlie's
New Times Archives

Charlie's is a clear staple of the local queer community because it's always been one of the best places to dance, grab a drink, or watch a drag show. RuPaul's Drag Race cast members and alumni often tear the house down, and Charlie's doesn't charge a cover for these Thursday night shows. But the best part of Charlie's is what separates it from everyone else. The delicious Taqueria Los Yaquis provides the perfect drunk munchies Thursday through Sunday, offering tacos, quesadillas, and other snacks for a few dollars via a taco truck window. On the weekends, the huge indoor dance floor opens up and the resident DJs play the best in pop music, never forgetting the gay favorites (read: Madonna, Lady Gaga, etc.).

Located in the heart of Phoenix's very own "gayborhood," Stacy's @ Melrose is reliable for a good time and fantastic drink specials. Despite the discreet exterior, the bar/nightclub is full of ambiance, from high ceilings to dim lights and gothic-inspired decor. The staff ensures that there's always something to do at Stacy's, which makes for fun programming like weekly bingo, karaoke, and DJ nights. On Tuesdays, Stacy's hosts The Queer Agenda, an alternative and inclusive drag show that's enlisted some of Phoenix's hippest queens. Stacy's also features the coolest all-gender restrooms in the Valley, which continue the gothic aesthetic found throughout the building. Established in 2013, it's a newer venue, but there's nothing else like it in metro Phoenix.

Who doesn't love an all-day happy hour? (Answer: no one.) The Cash Nightclub and Lounge offers one daily from 4 to 8 p.m. that features $3 domestic beers and well drinks, among other discounts. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, it hosts karaoke and bingo, respectively, but it's the Tuesday night two-step and line-dance lessons that make this country-themed, lesbian-slanted bar the Phoenix staple it is. But The Cash — as it lovingly has been known since it originally was named Cash Inn Country — is inclusive in more ways than one. Although the crowd is often cut from the lesbian cloth, there's always a variety of patrons who fit under the other letters of the LGBTQ+ abbreviation, and everyone is welcome. And fortunately for those who can only handle so much Americana twang, The Cash plays music that crosses genre lines, including Top 40, pop, and hip-hop.

Club VOLT's 4Some Revue recently has undergone changes, altering the original cast that has been performing at the relatively new venue for over a year. Toothpick and Joey Jay have been added to the show, joining original cast members Luna Love St. James and Gia DeMilo to bring the roof down every Friday starting at 10:30 p.m. The weekly cast is talented, bringing their own brands of fashion, comedy, and lip-syncs time and time again. But it's the rotating special guest spots (filled with some of the Valley's most interesting performers, veterans and newbies alike) that make the show truly pop. Be sure to try one of the special 4Some cocktails, which have to be the booziest $4 drinks offered in metro Phoenix.

The Grapevine

At most local bars, karaoke seems like an afterthought or off-night lark aimed at bringing in bodies when it's ordinarily dead, dead, deadski. Not so at The Grapevine in Old Town Scottsdale, where the spot's nightly singing sessions in the downstairs bar are its most popular attraction. Grapevine's proprietors fully embrace its rock-star status as a karaoke destination and offer a fun, come-as-you-are atmosphere, where a diverse crowd croons an equally diverse variety of tunes. KJs (or "karaoke jockeys" for you rookies) James, Monica, DJ Rey, and Frank are your affable hosts and can suggest something from the 400-page songbook if you can't decide. They might even join you on vocals, as will the bartenders, waitstaff, and other patrons, particularly if it's a crowd-pleaser like "Don't Stop Believin'" or "Bohemian Rhapsody." If you're eager to grab the mic and step into the spotlight, things get going at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Talent is, of course, optional, but enthusiasm is always appreciated.

Game bar Bonus Round is total geek heaven. Besides the fact that it's literally next door to a comic-book shop, the bar features signature drinks inspired by Star Wars and other nerdy subject matter (we like the fruity, potent Plasma Grenade), weekly bar trivia sessions, movie screenings, and tons of fan art dotting its walls. Oh, and Bonus Round has games. Lots of games. Like, an insane amount of games. Beyond its selection of 18 arcade titles (including the popular multiplayer title Killer Queen), there's a living room-like area outfitted with a big-screen TV equipped with a number of emulated old-school consoles. Nearby, you'll find shelves overflowing with games of the board, card, tabletop, and party variety, ranging from old favorites like Risk and Clue to more modern examples like Settlers of Catan. They don't stay shelved for too long, and frequently can be found being played at tables by groups of friends eager to pwn one another for fun. Game on!

Gracie's Tax Bar
Charles Barth

Technology and credit cards have made cash practically obsolete, but the jukebox at Gracie's Tax Bar is the perfect reason to bring some crisp green bills for a night chugging down some libations. Smooth out some Washingtons and Lincolns against the edge of the multidisc machine, and you can craft an eclectic soundtrack for your drunken evening. Filled with music selected by local businesswoman and musician Grace Perry, the jukebox allows you to dance to some Otis Redding, rock out to The Clash, or put on some Johnny Cash and cry in your beer. (Note: We never recommend crying in your beer. Ever.)

H.B. Hanratty's Pub
Benjamin Leatherman

Is it a saloon? An Irish pub? A dive bar? All of the above? This bar on Camelback Road has a front porch that would fit in during the days of the Old West, a name that suggests Irish heritage, and an interior that could only be described as dive-y. Still, in an era when brand is everything and most restaurants and bars rely on gimmicks to get customers in the door, you have to respect H.B. Hanratty's amazing generalness. There's alcohol. There are darts. There's billiards. There are even pinball machines and the classic arcade hunting game Big Buck Hunter. If you want more in a bar, go somewhere else.

Santisi Brothers Pizzeria & Sports Grill

Let's face it, sports bars can be a dime a dozen. When it really boils down to it, they're all pretty much the same, offering the standard mix of bar food, televised action, and brews aplenty. Frankly, it takes something special to stand out from the lineup of other jock joints in town, which Santisi Brothers does with ease. Its enormous selection of 130 television screens (a.k.a. the "Wide Wall of Sports") trumps any other sports bar in town by itself. There are also plenty of activities taking place nightly at this north Phoenix hangout, ranging from karaoke and poker to fantasy sports sessions. Add in its similarly staggering selection of food and drink options (which include a wealth of hand-tossed pizzas, delicious wings, and a variety of Italian favorites), and Santisi Brothers stands tall over its competition. 

Hambone Sports Bar and Grill
Benjamin Leatherman

There are many, many dive bars gracing the neighborhoods of our vast metropolis, but Hambone Sports Bar sets itself apart with a couple of distinct attributes. First, the Mesa strip mall bar has been The Hambone since 1958, or whatever year it opened — no one really knows for sure. It's first and foremost a pool bar, meaning six or so billiards tables dominate the room. The best part? You can smoke inside as there technically aren't windows, just screens. Yes, it's also a little warm, so good thing there's a bar and experienced bartenders to go with it. And here are some more fun facts: There used to be a menu, but now it's just drinks and snacks, so it dropped the "and grill" from the name. It opens at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday — a classic dive bar move — and at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. It does accept credit cards, it does have an internet jukebox, and yes, it does have a claw machine packed with stuffed and adult toys.

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