Metro Phoenix is a country town if there ever was one. Proof? There are plenty of good saloons to choose from when you want to get duded up in your Stetson. Whether you're looking for to pull up a bar stool for a longneck, kick up your heels, or hang out and listen to a smokin' good country band, there's a bar to suit your mood.
Here's your guide to the 10 best country bars in the Valley, which includes several rootin' tootin' spots where one might imagine John Wayne dropping by for a brew after a day plugging the bad guys full of lead, and there are a few of the more newfangled spots, too.
11 West Boston Street, Chandler
There’s loads of historic charm at this Chandler joint, and it extends beyond the collection of vintage pictures and décor lining the walls. Bourbon Jack's is situated in the circa-1918 Arrow Pharmacy building, which dates back to the days when many folks in the suburb rode horses to get around. (These days, however, you're more likely to see folks riding up to Bourbon Jack’s on their steel steeds rather than the four-legged variety.) And if you stop by on any of the four nights the spot features live music, you might hear a local band performing a song or two by old-school country kings like Hank Williams.
Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row
Dierks Bentley’s namesake nightclubs in Scottsdale, Tempe, and Gilbert were designed with the country party crowd in mind. But you city slickers are welcome, too. If you’re eager to “tip it on back” like Bentley suggests in the song of the same name, there are six themed boilermakers (including "Redneck Mouthwash" and "Working Class Hero”), a dozen specialty concoctions, a chalkboard menu of crafts and imports, and several tabletop taps with liquor and beer. Local and touring country bands regularly perform, and DJs spin on weekends. In short, Whiskey Row gallops ahead of most other local honky tonks by a country mile.
7116 East Becker Lane, Scottsdale
Known nationwide as the go-to country bar when visiting Scottsdale, this long-running joint is owned by the legendary Herndon family (the Herndon Brothers, featuring the great Ray Herndon, regularly provide the live music). And it's also the cream of the crop when it comes to urban honky tonks. Handlebar J has stuck to its old-school country roots and has always revered Valley honky-tonk history, so much so that the bar has introduced the "Back to Mr. Lucky's Night" (in honor of the greatest Arizona honky tonk of all time, the late Mr. Lucky's) featuring the granddaddy of all Arizona country and Western singers, J. David Sloan. The bar and the Herndon Brothers were inducted into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame back in 2007.
Norton's Country Corner
20835 East Ocotillo Road, Queen Creek
Roadhouse honky tonks don't get more authentic than this far-flung East Valley dive, a Hollywood location scout's dream come true for the perfect country-and-Western bar. Norton's Country Corner's jukebox is loaded with country music from back when Waylon and Willie ruled the roost, and the regulars look like they're cutting loose and whoopin' it up after a long day of bustin' broncs on the ranch. The live country music always gets 'em two-steppin' out on the bar's renowned dance floor to boot.
16825 West Yuma Road, Goodyear
With a tin-roofed shack festooned with wagon wheels, a huge white rooster standing sentry out front, and a down-home interior decorated with NASCAR memorabilia, Roman's Oasis doesn't pretend to be anything other than a dive. And it's the best country dive in the West Valley. Try your hand at crooning country karaoke during the week or drop in for some boot-scootin' on one of several dance floors with the live bands that juke up the joint on the weekends. Both Roman joints — this one and Roman's County Line — are named for the Alabama-born owner who passed in 2012. This place is also, absolutely, cash only.
Read on for more of the Valley's best country bars.
Roman's County Line
10540 West Indian School Road, #8
Roman’s County Line is the 1991 follow-up country bar to Roman’s Oasis. This strip-mall bar has a dance floor, stage, and large bar in the middle of the room – all ideal for the regularly scheduled live country music, dancing and dance lessons, Texas Hold ’Em, shuffleboard, darts, and off-track betting. The Avondale and Villa De Paz country stop is packed with hokey cowboy décor and wall hangings, from the black-and-white checkered floor to the neon beer signs. It’s cash only, so bring your billfold or you'll have to hit the ATM inside.
8383 South 48th Street
Nestled in the South Mountain buttes, Ruster's Rooste is the premier place to bring folks who want to experience an old-time Arizona steakhouse vibe. It's family-friendly, there's a tin slide for the little rascals to play on (though adults are more than welcome to take a turn), and the general store inside has just enough cowboy kitsch to impress your Midwestern relatives who don't know about a glass scorpion paperweight. Get duded up in your best Western duds, order up a frosty one, and listen to the live country music with an unrivaled view of the twinkling lights of civilization below.
Rusty Spur Saloon
7245 East Main Street, Scottsdale
Surrounded by the glitz and glamour of Old Town Scottsdale's tourist destinations, the Rusty Spur brings some sorely needed honky-tonk authenticity to the "West's Most Western Town." Smaller than a horse stable and usually packed to the rafters with neighborhood regulars and out-of-towners who want to throw back a brew in a real Western saloon, the Rusty Spur is a favorite of the local-boy-done-good, country star Dierks Bentley, who has been known to drop in when visiting his old stomping grounds.
San Tan Flat
6185 West Hunt Highway, Queen Creek
Wanna have a cowboy campout without having to rough it among irritated rattlers and pugnacious javelinas? San Tan Flat is always a hootenanny, with two-stepping and live country music provided by the likes of Josh Roy, Rod Kent, and Lee Alexander inside the compound. Out on the huge patio, campfires surround a plethora of picnic tables perfect for setting up camp with the whole family and digging into such chuck wagon fare as burgers, steaks, and barbecue chicken.
The Silver Pony
620 West Dobbins Road
A dyed-in-the-wool good ol' boy neighborhood dive, The Silver Pony is that rarest of beasts, a country joint that occasionally features live, local, original country music from the likes of honky-tonk twang faves Junction 10 in lieu of the live acts who play the usual Top 40 country covers in most of the Valley's other country bars. Drop in for the great live music, warble some karaoke in Spanish or English, shoot some pool, or just hang out and down a few cheap ice-cold brews.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.