Bourbon Jack’s11 West Boston Street, Chandler
There’s loads of historic charm at this Chandler joint, and it extends beyond the collection of vintage pictures and decor 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 a night with live music, you might hear a local band performing a song or two by old-school country kings like Hank Williams.
The Dirty Drummer Eatin’ and Drinkin’ Place2303 North 44th Street
Wood-paneled walls, a jukebox packed with Merle, Willie, Waylon, the Hanks, and the open grill behind the bar — all great touches. But the best thing about the Drummer is the origin story. The honky-tonk first opened in 1975 by Frank “Drummer” Armstrong and his partner, “Dirty Dave” Werner. The former owner’s daughter, Dana Armstrong, reopened the spot in 2019 with a strong nod to the Drummer of yesteryear. Armstrong is also the creator of Valley Fever, a DJ night of Arizona country that started it in 2005 at Yucca Tap Room. She’s brought much of that outlaw ambiance to The Drummer. Here, patrons are encouraged to pop on George Jones, order a Drummer Burger, and crack one of the house beers — Miller Lite.
Handlebar J7116 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 Corner20835 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. When's there's live country music, it usually gets patrons two-steppin' out on the bar's renowned dance floor to boot.
Roman's Oasis16825 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 tin and neon beers signs and NASCAR memorabilia, Roman's Oasis doesn't pretend to be anything other than a dive. And it is without a doubt the best country dive in the west Valley. Try your hand at crooning country karaoke during or scoot your boots in for wings or a steak. Both Roman joints — this one and Roman's County Line (see below) — are named for the Alabama-born owner who passed in 2012. This place is also, absolutely, cash only.
Roman's County Line10540 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 decor 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.
Roosters Country3731 East Main Street, Mesa
Local country music history rests on Main Street in east Mesa. Seated next to an automotive repair shop, Roosters Country has been one of the Valley’s premier honky-tonks since 1972 — complete with motorcycles parked out front, pool tables, American beer, and zero interior lights. Owners Cherié and Steve Dunn bought the bar in 2014 from the original owners, the Luge family. And after nearly five decades, Roosters Country is still known for booking live country shows, hosting open mics, and offering daily happy hour specials like $3 PBR tallboys and $6 Jack Daniels mixed drinks.
Rusty Spur Saloon7245 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 Flat6185 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 Pony620 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.
Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey RowMultiple Locations
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” as 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.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on March 18, 2013. It was updated on March 26, 2021.