The Wayward Taphouse | Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

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JUNE 1, 2023

Looking for a masterfully mixed cocktail? How about an ice-cold beer? Well, cheers, we've got 'em both. Welcome to the 2023 list of the Top 100 Bars in metro Phoenix.

Watering holes are sprinkled throughout this desert city, from corners of strip malls to underground hideouts, rooftop bars, and downtown destinations. We've got beer bars, wine bars and dive bars galore. We've got mixologists making waves in national circles, bringing the Phoenix cocktail scene to new heights, alongside bartenders who specialize in remembering their regulars' names.

All of these fine establishments have something to offer and are an integral part of life in this dusty sprawl. From all of your options out there, these are our top 100 favorite spots to belly up to the bar and order a cold one. Bottoms up!

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

The Wayward Taphouse

The Wayward Taphouse
Lauren Cusimano
The Wayward Taphouse arrived during the COVID era, a time when Phoenix was in great need of patios. The outdoor seating here seems to have been arranged with care. There are good sun and shade options, the space is outside food- and dog-friendly, and it’s surrounded by the casitas (which many know were once prisoner-of-war houses) that are home to Novel Ice Cream and other small businesses in the Grand Avenue Arts District. The Wayward was opened by Tyler Goolie and Hilda Cardenas, who both spent about five years at the also-beloved Wren House Brewing Co. The menu here offers an expansive selection of Arizona beer and wine as well as craft brews from across the country and even Mexico and Japan. But be advised: There’s also a beer fridge with more well-known stuff such as Coors Banquet and Modelo and a well-poured Guiness on tap. Order inside the funky space, or from the ordering window, which is easily accessible from the patio.
1028 Grand Ave., Phoenix, 85007

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

AZ/88

AZ/88
Allison Young
Did someone say martinis? At this off-the-beaten-path bar in Scottsdale, you can get a London favorite Pornstar Martini with vanilla vodka, passionfruit, lime juice and a shot of Champagne. If that’s too fruity for your taste, there are always the classics, such as the espresso martini and Manhattan. But AZ/88 is not your regular neighborhood spot. The people-watching here is outstanding, with crowds ranging from longtime Scottsdale locals to groups of friends celebrating 21st birthdays and bachelorette parties, from dates to businessmen holding lunch meetings, and much more. Rotating art installations also demand attention. Sometimes a cluster of disco balls dangle from the ceiling, casting specks of light around the bar; at other times, fluffy illuminated clouds fill the ceiling. During the holidays, Christmas trees made of anything other than wood and pine needles land smack in the center of the dining room. Meal options include burgers, salads, sandwiches and a small selection of plates. Insider tip: Make sure to visit the restrooms. You won’t be disappointed.
7353 E. Scottsdale Mall, Scottsdale, 85251

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

Bar 1

Bar 1
Matt Hennie
Far from the leather bars, rainbow-flagged saunas and diva-filled discotheques found elsewhere, Bar 1 is casual gay nightlife that still knows how to have fun. Established in 2008, its easygoing, candlelit atmosphere allows patrons to talk in their (gasp!) indoor voices whether relaxing in the lounge seating, playing pinball or unwinding on the outdoor patio. Daily specials rotate throughout the week, including beer busts on Monday, Long Island Wednesdays, 2-4-1 Thursdays and multiple happy hours. Menu options include a long list of craft cocktails to pair with bar snacks and specialty shots.
3702 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 85016

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

Bar 1912

Bar 1912
Georgann Yara
Hidden behind the restaurant on Seventh Avenue, Valentine’s love letter to Arizona cuisine continues in drink form. The entry of Bar 1912 is marked only by a neon sign that reads “Cocktails.” Inside, Mission revival-style niches behind the bar frame bottles, but the space’s feeling, down to its staff-curated vinyl, is a nod to Japanese listening rooms. Bar 1912’s menu takes cues from Arizona, including a quintet of cocktails inspired by the state’s five Cs. Try Cotton or Cattle. Cotton packs a playful pistachio flavor that conjures thoughts of pistachio cotton candy, while Cattle riffs on a classic Manhattan, infusing rye whiskey and añejo tequila with bone marrow. The fat-washing results in a velvety spirit-forward drink without the bite. Chef Donald Hawk and his team crank out elevated bites inspired by classic bar snacks, such as foie gras-stuffed olives and whipped pimento-raclette cheese. This all makes Bar 1912 a solid standalone spot or a perfect part of a splurge-worthy night that includes dinner at Valentine.
4130 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, 85013

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

Bar Bianco

Bar Bianco
Sara Crocker
Bar Bianco may be the most and least Phoenix bar. It reaches peak-Phoenix because, if you’re there, you’re likely killing time while waiting to enjoy the pizza that in many ways put the Valley’s culinary scene, and its connection to incredible local ingredients, on the map. At the bar, you can enjoy curated wines, local craft beers and a handful of classic cocktails while you wait, or you can satiate your hunger with fresh, slightly charred bread and olive oil or a plate of soppressata with dried cranberries. So, what makes Bar Bianco feel so not Phoenix? Its location next to the flagship Pizzeria Bianco in Heritage Square in a home that — gasp — predates air conditioning is surrounded by mature trees and in a rare area reserved for pedestrians, not cars. As such, the bar is transportive and invites you to linger and maybe, just maybe, forget about that wait.
609 E. Adams St., Phoenix, 85004

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

Barcoa Agaveria

Barcoa Agaveria
Tirion Boan
Food festival producer David Tyda says he never set out to be a bar owner. But when he opened Barcoa with Ryan Oberholtzer in 2020, the space quickly became a haven for agave spirit enthusiasts. And, you can choose just how far down the rabbit hole you’d like to go, as Barcoa houses not one bar but two. The cantina on the main level is energetic and connected to Latino and indigenous arts organization Xico. Browse artists’ work on First Fridays and sip on a Mezcalrita on the patio. There’s also a solid rotation of food trucks thanks to Tyda’s food festival connections. For a more intimate evening, make reservations for the basement bar. Choose from a wide selection of agave spirits, or have one of the bartenders make you a craft cocktail, such as the Leche de Pistachio, made with mezcal, pistachio milk and lime.
829 N. First Ave., Phoenix, 85003

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

Bikini Lounge

Bikini Lounge
Benjamin Leatherman
In a town as young as Phoenix, a bar that’s been around since 1947 certainly counts as a grande dame of the local drinking scene. Long before Interstate 10 connected us to California, The Bikini Lounge welcomed visitors from the west into town as they exited the U.S. 60. Today, there are divier dive bars and tiki-er tiki bars, but there’s no other establishment in the Valley with The Bikini’s exact flavor of lowbrow kitsch. The bar has no windows, so the place is always as dark as a confessional, conferring intimacy on the most casual of interactions. Thatched coverings, vintage paintings and tiki masks watch over the patrons, who are a mix of grizzled regulars and hipsters dropping in after First Fridays or a show at The Van Buren. Drinks aren’t fancy, but they’re strong and cheap — just how we like them (make sure you bring cash, though). Over the decades, The Bikini has seen plenty of growth around its Grand Avenue location, but we love it best because, despite the passing of the years, it never seems to change.
1502 Grand Ave., Phoenix, 85007

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
Heather Hoch
A self-described “cocktailian,” Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted is known for his tome-like illustrated menus that offer studied riffs on legions of classics, resulting in libations that are proudly “whimsical as fuck.” Among those is the coldest old-school martini in town, which can be sipped in expansive booths upholstered in red leather under sky-high ceilings. Whether you're in downtown Phoenix for a show, or you make a special trip, be sure to stop in at Bitter & Twisted. Pro tip: Join the wait list online to secure an earlier spot in the queue.
1 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix, 85003

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

Boycott Bar

Boycott Bar
Benjamin Leatherman
This lesbian-leaning Melrose District spot has cold beers, well-mixed cocktails, dancing, drag shows and good people. Boycott also maintains a varied and thoughtful event calendar: Patrons can expect everything from Pride-related events to Latin and country dance nights. It’s a solid stop while bar-hopping along the Melrose curve — and a sturdy local watering hole as well. Look for the pink light.
4301 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, 85013

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

The Brickyard Downtown

The Brickyard Downtown
Tirion Boan
When visiting downtown Chandler, a stop at The Brickyard is a must. This cocktail bar and restaurant is located inside the former home of the Chandler Arizonan, a newspaper that dates back to 1912. But you’ll find more than just history here. Start with the cocktail menu, which is located inside the plastic DVD case dropped off at your table. The video game-themed booklet outlines your drink options by such creative categories as Arcade, Disc, Multiplayer and Next Gen. From the Console section, we love Save the Princess, a bright refresher with Ketel One peach and orange blossom vodka, Leblon cachaca, crème de pêche, orgeat, lemon and yuzu. While the cocktail menu shines, don’t forget about the food. The lamb chimichangas and pork belly skewers are winners.
85 W. Boston St., Chandler, 85225

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

BS West

BS West
Benjamin Leatherman
BS West is a rarity among Scottsdale bars. It’s the only LGBT spot in the city, a distinction it's enjoyed for over 30 years. In that time, the two-story bar, dance joint, and drag club just off Craftsman Court has established a loyal following that’s spanned generations. (Historically, its been more of a gay male crowd, but everyone’s invited, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.) BS West’s appeal lies in its electric atmosphere and a combo of live entertainment (drag shows, go-go boys, rowdy karaoke sessions), music selection (ranging from club hits to Latin), sex appeal (the male bartenders go shirtless), and nightly drink deals. Plus, you gotta love a place where the staff occasionally answers the phone with “This is BS.”
7125 E. Fifth Ave., Scottsdale, 85251

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

Buffalo Chip Saloon

Buffalo Chip Saloon
Lauren Cusimano
This good-times country bar and grill brims with Stetson hats, neon beer signs, and caddies full of barbecue sauce. It’s an ideal spot for watching a Packers game, taking free dancing lessons on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday nights, and catching some live country music and cover rock. It is also huge: 6,000 square feet, with multiple bars and a small rodeo arena out back. The amateur bull riders are in the bullpen on Wednesday and Friday nights. The food menu includes Texas barbecue and burgers to complete the Wild Western experience.
6823 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, 85331

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

BullShooters

BullShooters
Bull Shooters
Bull Shooters in north Phoenix has a bevy of pool tables – 44 of ‘em, to be exact – on which you can put your skills to the test. The high-quality 7 and 9-foot tables inside this spacious pool hall and sports bar take center stage for northsiders in search of stick ’n’ sip action. Owners Mike and Julie Bates have kept things largely the same since opening in 2007, including offering poker, dart games (both electronic and otherwise), karaoke, and various distractions in an adjacent game room. They also offer 34 drinks on tap, ranging from beer to cider, and daily specials. Just keep your drink far away from the pristine felt (or use a coaster, dammit!), since you’ll get hard looks or harsh words from the staff. And that ain’t no bull.
3337 W. Peoria Ave., Phoenix, 85029

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

Carly's Bistro

Carly's Bistro
Lauren Cusimano
For 15 years, diners have been lining up to order salads and sandwiches at Carla Wade Logan’s café on Roosevelt Street. But the cocktails here are first-rate, too. The Prickly Pear Margarita is hot pink and ice-cold, a must-try for visitors to the desert or those just bar-hopping on a hot day. The Whiskey Sangria is sought after by many a happy hour patron. Don’t sleep on the classics, either: We’re big fans of the mojito and the bloody mary here. Carly’s was an early RoRo spot, and it’s still one of the best in the neighborhood.
128 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, 85004

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

Casey Moore's Oyster House

Casey Moore's Oyster House
Jennifer Goldberg
Casey Moore's Oyster House is a Tempe mainstay, known for its sprawling patio surrounding the former home of William A. and Mary Moeur, built circa 1910. The bar itself is named after an Irish woman who was born even earlier, in 1886, and who was known for singing, playing the piano and hosting frequent gatherings. (She is said to still haunt the place.) The home was rehabilitated in 1973, and a few bars came and went in the space until 1986, when it became Casey’s. The bar attracts students from nearby ASU, as well as neighborhood regulars, cyclists, tourists and service industry types. Indoors, you’ll find neon décor, some seating and a cozy bar; on the patio, you may smoke, bring your dog till 5 p.m. or bend elbows at the always-packed outdoor bar. The beer selection features a mix of local, domestic and imported brews, and the pub fare is above average. Go with the oysters or the neighborhood favorite, French onion soup.
850 S. Ash Ave., Tempe, 85281

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

Central Records

Central Records
Tirion Boan
On a quiet stretch of Central Avenue, close to the bustling district of Roosevelt Row, Central Records has put down roots. This new space is a wine bar, record store, coffee shop and cafe all in one. Stop by for a coffee, and then work on your laptop until it’s time to order a bottle of wine to split with friends. In the evenings, DJs spin vinyl records while a giant disco ball casts sparkles across the warmly lit room. Sit near the window, at a table with raw wood banquette seating or at the low bar if you want to chat to the barista-cum-bartender about the latest offerings.
824 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 85004

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

Charlie's Phoenix

Charlie's Phoenix
Matt Hennie
Charlie’s is a slice of Phoenix gay bar history that has huddled along Camelback Road just west of Seventh Avenue since its debut in 1984. In those days, the “lil bitty ol’ pissant country place” and dance hall opened by John King (co-founder of the International Gay Rodeo Association) was aimed at gay urban cowboys and country music fans. As times and interests changed (and competition increased), so did Charlie’s. Today, the place boasts a larger dance floor, an even bigger parking lot, a taco truck out front, an outdoor patio with two bars and bleacher seating in the back, and a wide cross-section of the entire LGBT community. Charlie’s events calendar is just as diverse. Drag performances, bingo games, Latin and country dance nights, and karaoke are some of its most popular activities. It's also famous for its after-hours weekend dance parties.
727 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 85013

Your complete guide to the 100 best bars in metro Phoenix

Chopper John's

Chopper John's
New Times Archives
Chopper John’s is primarily known as a biker bar, thanks to owner John McCormack’s taste for steel steeds and the open road. It’s also one of central Phoenix’s best small venues — a rip-roaring dive, neighborhood hang and low-key sports bar. Music fans have known about the place for years, as the former residence was home to a string of blues bars from the ’70s onward, including Louie’s, VJ’s, McGuires, Warsaw Wally’s and Bogie’s. Once McCormack took over in 2008, the multiroom establishment became a rock haven with framed T-shirts from local bands covering the walls, rowdy shows, cheap drinks and cheap thrills. Punks, tattoo artists and other rock ’n’ roll types hang out here even when there isn’t a show, and the turnout is big on Sundays when Chopper John’s whips up loaded Bloody Marys topped with impossible amounts of skewered food items (we’re talking full-sized cheeseburgers and and Sonoran hot dogs loaded with fixings). At only $5 a pop, they’re a steal and tend to go quickly. Rock on.
2547 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 85016