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Start early, stay late, at Wanderin.EXPAND
Start early, stay late, at Wanderin.
Lauren Cusimano

Dive In: A Field Guide to Neighborhood Dives and Bars in Metro Phoenix

It’s hard to nail down a definition for the term “dive bar.” Outlaw country singer David Allen Coe used the phrase “Where bikers stare at cowboys who are laughing at the hippies,” in 1976, and that may still apply today.

A few common denominators apply. Dives have full-service bars, usually close at 2 a.m., and are often so dark, it’s tough to tell the time of day. If there’s no bike rack, it doesn’t mean you can’t bring your rig inside or lock it somewhere. Other telltale signs include pressboard walls, bathroom graffiti, and maybe a bucket of sand serving as an ashtray/doorstop somewhere on the premises. But above all, almost every dive is considered a neighborhood bar — a place where the bartender knows your name, and, more importantly, your drink.

With that, here is a breakdown of dive bars in neighborhoods and cities across the Valley where you can find chatty regulars, sing-alongs, and cheap drinks.

Arcadia Outskirts

Wanderin

4140 East McDowell Road
602-275-1062
Opens at: 6 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards ($10 minimum)
Bike Rack: No


Opened in 1972, Wanderin offers pool tables, dart machines, card tables, an internet jukebox, karaoke, and an L-shaped bar for just sitting and drinking. Food ranges from the vending machine at the entrance to pizza, pickles, and popcorn. Best thing about this place: The patron murals on the west-facing side of Wanderin are clearly from another, beautiful era.

Say hi to the regulars at Gypsy’s Roadhouse.EXPAND
Say hi to the regulars at Gypsy’s Roadhouse.
Lauren Cusimano

Gypsy’s Roadhouse

5122 East McDowell Road
602-286-9251
Opens at: 10 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: Yes


Formerly The Lark, Baja Red’s Cantina, and Daisy Duke’s (and back-dropped by Papago Park), this biker-themed bar was once packed with Motorola employees, and referred to as the “Building L” of the complex that once existed across the street during the Lark days. Now, Gypsy’s Roadhouse has a full menu, darts, karaoke, live music, and free pool on Monday and Tuesday. Best thing about this place: Retirees call their section of the bar “Heaven’s Waiting Room.” Wisconsin native and 30-year regular Rich Pollack will let you know, “I only drink alone or when I’m with somebody.”

Make a night of it.
Make a night of it.
Lauren Cusimano

Break Room Bar & Grill

4729 East McDowell Road
602-267-1010
Opens at: 10 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: No


One of the oldest buildings in the area, Break Room Bar & Grill is a stand-alone bar that used to be The First Quarter and Johnny’s East Side. The Break Room used to just be the bar area, according to Linette, a bartender and former patron for over 15 years, and was expanded to include the four-pool table area. Other activities include dart tournaments, karaoke, poker, and live comedy — and you can reserve the place for parties. Best thing about this place: The full menu includes Bank Shot Appetizers, Run the Table Wings, Scratch Handmade Burgers, Bullseye Sandwiches, Hat-Trick Pizza, and Hot Seat Favorites.

A second home in the west Valley.EXPAND
A second home in the west Valley.
Lauren Cusimano

Avondale

Aguila’s Hideaway

1235 North Dysart Road, Avondale
623-932-9394
Opens at: 11 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: No


You really need to know how to get to Aguila’s Hideaway to have any hope of finding it. (Hint: It’s nestled behind Dysart Liquor.) Once Wendy Jack’s Hideaway, and just Hideaway, this historic establishment was built as a bomb shelter, and opened in 1962 as an underground bar in the dry city of Avondale, according to owner Javier Aguila. An above-ground bar and kitchen were built in 2006, and both levels offer plenty of seating, TVs, and of course, inexpensive drinks. The newly renovated underground part goes nightclub Thursday through Saturday, while the surface level offers pool, darts, karaoke, and arcade games. Best thing about this place: During the dry days, Avondale law said no alcohol could be sold on the premises, but Hideaway won because it was selling alcohol below the premises.

Spend too much time at Roman's.EXPAND
Spend too much time at Roman's.
Lauren Cusimano

Roman’s County Line

10540 West Indian School Road #8
623-877-8191
Opens at: 11 a.m. daily
Cash Only
Bike Rack: No


Though technically in Phoenix, Roman’s County Line has had the surrounding Avondale and Villa De Paz neighborhoods two-stepping since it opened in 1991. The second installment of Alabama-born owner Roman after Roman’s Oasis opened in 1988, Roman’s County Line features live music, lots of dancing and lessons, plenty of seating, Texas Hold ’Em, shuffleboard, darts, and off-track betting. Best thing about this place: There is so much country decor you’re amazed the walls are still standing.

The iconic sign for Rips.EXPAND
The iconic sign for Rips.
Benjamin Leatherman

Coronado

Rips Bar

3045 North 16th Street
602-266-0015
Opens at: 6 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards ($5 minimum)
Bike Rack: Yes


Previously the Pick Lick House, Dodge City Saloon, Dutch Inn, Bourbon Street Blues, Poca Poca, and a sandwich shop, Rips Bar has been under that name for over 15 years. Rips offers pool, arcade games, pinball, darts, '80s nights, and live music from local and touring rockabilly, punk, metal, etc., bands. Best thing about this place: These are the former drinking grounds of Waylon Jennings and Charlie Pride, and there are photos of them with former bar owners.

The neon sign outside of notorious central Phoenix dive bar Royale Lounge.EXPAND
The neon sign outside of notorious central Phoenix dive bar Royale Lounge.
Benjamin Leatherman

Royale Lounge

2428 North 16th Street
602-253-2217
Opens at: 10 a.m. daily
Cash Only
Bike Rack: No


The Royale Lounge has been serving drinks to the Coronado neighborhood for more than 60 years — though not always under that name. The Royale is a smallish room with a pool table, claw machine, internet jukebox, TVs behind the bar surrounded by string lights, card tables, darts, and pinball. Snacks range from egg rolls, pizza, and chicken nuggets to popcorn. Best thing about this place: that classic, brilliantly red neon “Cocktails” sign seen off 16th Street.

Famed Gilbert dive Champions Sports Saloon.EXPAND
Famed Gilbert dive Champions Sports Saloon.
Benjamin Leatherman

Gilbert

Champions Sports Saloon

211 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert
480-545-9669
Opens at: 10 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards ($10 minimum)
Bike Rack: Yes


Found on the main drag in downtown Gilbert, Champions Sports Saloon has been some sort of bar since the 1940s, according to a bartender. Amenities include pool tables, TVs, darts, pinball, arcade games, and retro Arizona sports team posters. It also has snacks, a deep fryer, and a pizza oven, or you can bring in food from one of the many surrounding restaurants (hint: Lindsay likes the cornbread from the nearby Joe’s Real BBQ). Champions also hosts poker on Tuesday nights and dart leagues, plus an annual charity dart tournament. Best thing about this place: As this joint was once the Copper Coin, you’ll find pennies beneath a layer of epoxy at the bar.

Put in your hours at Overtime Lounge.EXPAND
Put in your hours at Overtime Lounge.
Lauren Cusimano

Glendale

Overtime Lounge

5304 North 59th Avenue, Glendale
623-939-2576
Opens at: 6 a.m. daily
Cash Only
Bike Rack: No


The Overtime Lounge is another place with a lot of activity. There’s an enclosed smoking patio, two pool tables, TVs, a claw machine, and a dedicated arcade game area. There’s also a lengthy bar, the westernmost point of which has been dubbed the “Horny Corner” thanks to a little wooden sign dangling above patrons. It’s been serving thirsty customers of eastern Glendale and Maryvale for 30 years, give or take, according to the manager, Bonnie, who started off as a patron 10 years ago. Best thing about this place: During a karaoke rendition of “Leader of the Pack,” an Indian motorcycle might roll through the front door to assist with the revving effects.

Jimbo’s Bar & Grill in Glendale.EXPAND
Jimbo’s Bar & Grill in Glendale.
Lauren Cusimano

Jimbo’s Bar & Grill

12224 North 51st Avenue, Glendale
602-298-1500
Opens at: 7 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: No


This northwest Valley haunt is more like an adult activity center. At Jimbo’s Bar & Grill, you can grab a stool at the horseshoe bar, order off a full menu (including the famed wine burger), put on your jam at the internet jukebox, post up by one of the TVs or projectors, and play pool, darts, or shuffleboard. There’s also exposed plywood, a urine trough in the men’s room, and a sweet little retro, martini glass-adorned sign out front. Best thing about this place: Patrons get a free breakfast — including three eggs, two bacon, two sausage, hash browns, and toast — with purchase of a drink from 8 a.m. to noon.

This paradise is cash only.EXPAND
This paradise is cash only.
Lauren Cusimano

Goodyear

Roman’s Oasis

16825 West Yuma Road, Goodyear
623-932-0922
Opens at: 11 a.m. daily
Cash Only
Bike Rack: No


When Roman opened his Oasis in 1988, he could count about four houses that he could see from the premises, according to the manager. In fact, the Sarival Avenue exit to Roman’s off Interstate 10 was only a recent addition. Roman’s Oasis is the kind of place where they offer both kinds of music — country and western. Roman died in 2012, but the Oasis lives on with dance lessons, Texas Hold ’Em, a full kitchen, two dance floors, shuffleboard, live music, and cold beer. Best thing about this place: the John Deere equipment, wagon wheels, and a comically large chicken as roadside decor.

Everyone's favorite part of Bikini Lounge.EXPAND
Everyone's favorite part of Bikini Lounge.
Lauren Cusimano

Grand Arts District

Bikini Lounge

1502 Grand Avenue
602-252-0472
Opens at: 3 p.m. daily
Cash Only
Bike Rack: Yes


Named after Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, the Bikini Lounge is a history lesson as well as a neighborhood bar. It’s been around since the late 1940s as one of the last of the first-wave tiki bars in Phoenix. The Bikini was remodeled in the ’60s, ornamented by Polynesian-lady-themed Tom Cooper murals, and has recently gained an enclosed patio and a bamboo-seeming bike rack out front. Bikini features an internet jukebox, a pool table, and DJ nights. Best thing about this place: the limited-edition, Jimmy Smith tiki mugs.

The Quail Lounge has some drink specials for you.EXPAND
The Quail Lounge has some drink specials for you.
Lauren Cusimano

Melrose District

The Quail Lounge

4134 North Seventh Avenue
602-265-1148
Opens at: 9 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: Yes


Just north of the Melrose District Arch, the Quail Lounge was known as Garnett’s Rite Inn for at least 30 years. Inside the boxy structure there’s a bar backed by two pool tables, some tables and chairs, a few TVs for football season, and an internet jukebox. The bathrooms are remodeled, but the rest is pure dark dive. You can bring your own food (BYOF) or come for Taco Tuesdays or a Cardinals game potluck. Best thing about this place: Each day the staff picks a letter, and if your last name starts with said letter, your drink is $1.

Keep your chill at Kay’s Place.EXPAND
Keep your chill at Kay’s Place.
Lauren Cusimano

Mesa

Kay’s Place

315 South Alma School Road, Mesa
602-666-6634
Opens at: 10 a.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: Yes


One of the only freestanding bars in Mesa, Kay’s Place was built in the 1960s as a diesel truck repair shop. This Mesa dive features pool tables, karaoke, a jukebox, and DJ nights. Sustenance comes in the form of pizza, pickled items, chips, and hot dogs, or you can BYOF. Best thing about this place: The fridge has three shelves of $2 beers like Hamm’s, Busch, and PBR.

The "entrance" to Gabby’s Bar & Grill.EXPAND
The "entrance" to Gabby’s Bar & Grill.
Lauren Cusimano

Gabby’s Bar & Grill

635 North Country Club Drive, Mesa
480-827-9776
Opens at: 10 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: No


A well-known watering hole along the Old 87, Gabby’s Bar & Grill has been around for 33 years, and always as Gabby’s. Several Greg Sheldon (former Phoenix Suns artist) cartoons adorn the walls, along with the usual neon signs and collages of current and former regular patrons. Gabby’s has that old bar smell, but also karaoke nights, a jukebox, pool, darts, satellite TVs, and a full menu. Best thing about this place: The well-known half-pound Monster Burger and fries are $4.95 daily from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Hambone Sports Bar in Mesa.
Hambone Sports Bar in Mesa.
New Times Archive

Hambone Sports Bar

903 East Main Street, Mesa
480-833-9839
Opens at: 6 a.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: Yes


The Hambone Sports Bar is definitely unique. A note for new visitors: You can smoke inside this pool hall and neighborhood bar, as there aren’t technically windows, just screens. It has always been Hambone and dates back to 1958, but we only know that because one patron remembers his dad coming here at that time. That classic sign was grandfathered in, which guides patrons to a place with six pool tables, internet jukebox, darts (their dart team is the Hambone Hot Shots), arcade games, karaoke on Saturday nights, and an adult claw machine. Best thing about this place: Mel’s own Bloody Mary recipe, and Alex’s German chocolate cake shot.

Start your drinking early at Brigett's Last Laugh.EXPAND
Start your drinking early at Brigett's Last Laugh.
Lauren Cusimano

North Phoenix

Brigett’s Last Laugh

17222 North Cave Creek Road
602-788-0507
Opens at: 11 a.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: No


Billed as “Your Five Star Dive Bar,” Brigett’s Last Laugh is the kind of place where you have to let your eyes adjust when entering during the day. Once they do, there’s pool, lots of seating, TVs, and a full menu with some well-known tacos on there. There’s also nightly karaoke, Tuesday night comedy, Wednesday and Friday night trivia, and Ladies Night on Thursdays. Best thing about this place: The “Shit Happens” sign above the bar has been there for years and serves as a humbling piece of bar decor.

An Old Town Scottsdale classic.EXPAND
An Old Town Scottsdale classic.
Lauren Cusimano

Old Town Scottsdale

Coach House

7011 East Indian School Road, Scottsdale
480-990-3433
Opens at: 6 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: Yes


Formerly a bunker house, farmhouse, and dress shop, the Coach House has been around since 1959 and always under that name. Regulars and Old Town visitors find a large outdoor patio, video games, darts, TVs, internet jukebox, and a “Kraft” beer section, which consists of PBR, Hamm’s, and Busch Light. Best thing about this place: The yearly Christmas decorations involve 1,000 man-hours, which starts at Halloween and might be distracting to some of Sky Harbor’s air traffic.

Pick your poison at Pattie's.EXPAND
Pick your poison at Pattie's.
Lauren Cusimano

Pattie’s First Avenue Lounge

7220 East First Avenue, Scottsdale
480-990-0103
Opens at: 7 a.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. Sunday
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: No


A dive among the restaurants and tourist traps of Old Town, Patties First Avenue Lounge offers table tennis, pool, dancing, and regulars ranging from millionaires to spring training visitors to old timers who’ve been coming here since it was called Gordy’s. Known as Pattie’s since 1992, this spot is divided into three sections: the side bars, the main bar, and the open middle hallway — where patrons are allowed to smoke since that “ceiling” is actually dense tiger’s claw. Best thing about this place: There are about $4,000 to $5,000 worth of singles hung in the main room, which started with Pattie’s sons 15 years ago. Bobby the bartender calls it the 401K plan.

Neighbors bar in Peoria.EXPAND
Neighbors bar in Peoria.
Lauren Cusimano

Peoria

Neighbors

7530 West Peoria Avenue, Peoria
623-878-4154
Opens at: 8 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: No


Since it opened in 1992, Neighbors hasn’t gone through a lot of major changes. Found in a tidy strip mall, Neighbors features pool tables, dart machines, card tables, TVs, and an internet jukebox playing mostly ’80s and country music. The wooden walls are covered in neon, and the 360-degree bar to the left of the entrance surrounds one of those iconic rounded Budweiser Clydesdale lamps. Best thing about this place: A late patron illustrated the happy crowd window art outside, and some of the cartoon people were actual regulars at the time.

Start early at the Roadrunner Lounge.EXPAND
Start early at the Roadrunner Lounge.
Lauren Cusimano

South Scottsdale

Roadrunner Lounge

3219 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale
480-941-8340
Opens at: 6 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards ($10 minimum)
Bike Rack: Yes


Previously Bucky’s and Castaways, the Roadrunner Lounge was run by mother and daughter Cassie and Willie, though Willie has passed. Roadrunner Lounge features an internet jukebox (play Johnny Horton and you’ll instantly make friends), pool, arcade games, and a dog-friendly smoking patio. Best thing about this place: The human-size dog sitting at the bar belongs to Linda.

There's no shortage of or beer or good times at TT Roadhouse.EXPAND
There's no shortage of or beer or good times at TT Roadhouse.
Lauren Cusimano

TT Roadhouse

2915 North 68th Street, Scottsdale
480-947-8723
Opens at: 11:30 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: Yes


A bar since the early ’60s, and formerly Caddy Shack and Lolita’s, TT Roadhouse was named after a motorcycle race on the Isle of Man. Skoog, the owner since 2009, offers American craft beer and high-end whiskey (like Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, Booker’s Bourbon, and Woodford Reserve) behind the bar, while the rest of the place includes a custom-felt pool table, a tucked-away smoking patio, and a jukebox packed with punk rock and outlaw country. This bike- and biker-friendly bar also hosts a number of events, including Outlaw Country Brunch, Punk Vinyl Night, cookouts, and Tuesday Industry Nights. Best thing about this place: Skoog might be airing a punk rock documentary.

The back "patio" at Palo.EXPAND
The back "patio" at Palo.
Lauren Cusimano

Tempe

Palo Verde Lounge

1015 West Broadway Road, Tempe
480-968-9221
Opens at: Noon Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
Cash Only
Bike Rack: Yes


This is the kind of college-town dive that’s more of a retreat for local industry types than students. There used to be hitching posts out front, and a small airport out back (where the proprietors at the time would post up to shoot jackrabbits off the tarmac). The Dirty Verde offers two pool tables, the Cramps, Beastie Boys, and Brooks & Dunn on the jukebox, a Tekken 2 arcade game, famed pickle shots, super-loud punk and metal shows, and some strong drinks. Best thing about this place: Palo is the frequent host of neighborhood events like dance parties and holiday potlucks.

Take a breather at Time Out Lounge.EXPAND
Take a breather at Time Out Lounge.
Lauren Cusimano

Time Out Lounge

3129 South Mill Avenue, Tempe
480- 968-6491
Opens at: 11 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards ($10 minimum)
Bike Rack: Yes


Go to Time Out Lounge when you don’t want to be on Mill Avenue anywhere north of University Drive. Time Out was established by known bar owner Sandy Sunstrom and the late Greg Sheldon (artist behind the Phoenix Suns gorilla, hence the motif), and was taken over by Laura Kelly-Phillips and Ed (a.k.a. the Tall Man) in 1988. Marked by the “Sorry We’re Open” door in the back corner of the Huntington Square Shopping Center, Time Out is known for free pool Sundays, intimate rock shows, soul music dance nights, and its regulars. Hungry patrons can BYOF, order pizza from Venezia’s, or ask for some chips. Best thing about this place: Look for the forgotten keys and credit cards in the ceiling tiles.

Yucca Tap Room is world famous, or so it claims.EXPAND
Yucca Tap Room is world famous, or so it claims.
Melissa Fossum

Yucca Tap Room

29 West Southern Avenue, Tempe
480- 967-4777
Opens at: 6 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: Yes


A neighborhood hangout and well-worn music venue since the early ’70s, Yucca Tap Room is known for its local and touring acts, DJ Organic dance nights, crave-worthy full menu, and recognizable group of regulars. There’s also a pool table, shuffleboard, smoking patio, and an impressive selection of craft beers and spirits. This spot happens to be the official Arsenal football club pub in metro Phoenix to boot. Best thing about this place: Tempe residents not much interested in sleeping are usually found here at 6 a.m., which may be credited to the breakfast burritos.

Sashay your way into the Swizz.EXPAND
Sashay your way into the Swizz.
Lauren Cusimano

Uptown

Swizzle Inn

5835 North 16th Street
602-277-7775
Opens at: 10 a.m. daily
Accepts Credit Cards ($10 minimum)
Bike Rack: No


The first rule of the Swizzle Inn is: No Starbucks Parking. Pinned by a Jolly Roger flag within a strip mall, this beach vacation-themed haunt has been around since ’96. Visitors can pull up a stool at the half-circle bar, shoot a game at the pool table, flip through a jukebox with The B-52s, Queen, and Willie Nelson, catch the game on one of many TVs, or admire the current window dressing theme in the back-corner atrium. Best thing about this place: Just about every single square inch is covered in Christmas lights and decor during the holidays.

One of the most "bar" bars in Phoenix.EXPAND
One of the most "bar" bars in Phoenix.
Lauren Cusimano

Pomeroy’s

5551 North Seventh Street
602-264-5411
Opens at: 11 a.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
Accepts Credit Cards
Bike Rack: Yes


Pomeroy’s has always been Pomeroy’s since it opened in 1983. The wood paneling makes you feel like you’re inside a dark woodshed, and you’re fine with it. Mingle with a mix of old timers to new people in the rapidly renovating Uptown neighborhood, and order something from their full menu. Find four pool tables, darts, foosball, arcade games, shuffleboard, and plenty of seating. Best thing about this place: There’s still a cigarette machine here.

Editor's note: This article originally ran in October 2016.

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