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Phoenix & Scottsdale Bars & Clubs

Best of Phoenix 2002 1889 Bar
5001 East Washington, Phoenix AZ; Tel. 602.273.7378
Among the titty bars, porn parlors and machine shops of East Washington, it's hard to resist its charms. In the giant asphalt pasture that is the parking lot of the Stockyards steak house, you'll find the 1889. And once you reach its swinging saloon doors, you just might feel like you've stumbled from a dusty frontier street into a Tombstone-style watering hole, complete with card games, whiskey by the bottle and painted ladies.

Best of Phoenix 2003Axis/Radius
7340 East Indian Plaza, Scottsdale AZ; Tel. 480.970.1112
Interested in shakin' that booty to good vibrations? Then shuffle your feet over to Axis/Radius. It's not one nightclub, but two under one roof. Start off at Axis, and when we dip, you dip, we dip in front of the 10-foot video screen. Bust a move to your favorite songs or enjoy live music once a week from sexy Shalom and Pazport. It's getting hot in here; take off . . . across the glass catwalk to Radius. At Radius you will find the top DJs spinning the hottest dance music under an extraordinary light show. If you're having problems finding your groove thang, look to one of the sultry go-go dancers for it. Whichever side you are on, there will be plenty of bodies to grind; the dance floors are always packed. So get up on the dance floor (or both) and move that body to the pounding beats.

Best of Phoenix 2002 Batucada
6810 East Fifth Ave., Scottsdale; Tel. 480.222.SOHO
Looking for a place that plays more than just the four most popular dance songs? "Batucada" has moved to Soho on Wednesday nights, and if it weren't for the musical stylings of DJs Sinbad, Pete Salaz, Maji and others, you wouldn't be able to get the house-heads from Phoenix to mix with the posh Scottsdale crowd. This sultry music will make you want to move, and the atmosphere is relaxed and sexy. Plus, we guarantee that you won't hear another remix of "Rapture" or "I Can't Get You Out of My Head."

Best of Phoenix 2001 Blue Ox
2401 North 32nd St., Phoenix AZ; Tel. 602.955.3249
Full review available from the Phoenix New Times.

Best of Phoenix 2003Chez Nous
675 West Indian School, Phoenix AZ; Tel. 602.266.7372
Of course, we mean "dive" in the most affectionate sense of the word. Chez Nous is a Phoenix institution because it's so darn welcoming -- as unpretentious as it gets, and that applies to the drink prices, too. Frankly, it's impossible to bar hop once you stop by here, because you'll find no reason to venture elsewhere. It could be high noon outside, but it's always a nighttime adventure inside the dimly lighted bar. As the house band plays favorite funk hits, the minuscule dance floor gets packed with the most diverse, jubilant crowd in town. Whether you're dressed up or down, nursing a martini or knocking back beers, you'll fit right in at Chez Nous.

Best of Phoenix 2002 El Capri
2135 East Van Buren, Phoenix AZ; Tel. 602.244.0551
Start polishing those cowboy boots and dusting off that big sombrero, because if it's Tejano or norteño music you're looking for, El Capri is waiting. For a $5 cover charge on weekends, you get admission to Tejano heaven. Inside you'll find two massive dance floors packed with couples moving and grooving quebradita-style -- like a Mexican tango -- fun to dance to and even more fun to watch. Plus the bar's got a vast assortment of Mexican and domestic beers, and the service, like the clientele, is strictly Spanish-speaking. Want to sing instead of dance? The always-packed Sunday nights are Noche de Aficionados featuring open mikes with live music.

Best of Phoenix 2001 The Emerald Lounge
1514 North Seventh Avenue, Phoenix AZ; Tel. 602.256.9705
Mermaids, manicures and specialty martinis usually don't mix with the aesthetic of a dimly lighted, seedy dive bar, but the Emerald Lounge pulls it off with panache every Monday night. That's when the Emerald, known for its nightly live music, strikes up the song of Lorelei and transforms itself into "The Mermaid Lounge." The decor is strictly Polynesian-a-go-go: multicolored strands of lights, hula girls, tiki gods, mermaid collages, kitschy ashtrays and vintage tablecloths. Add a personal manicurist doing $5 nail jobs, a live DJ, and a friendly hostess/bartender serving colorful martinis that go down smoother than ice water on a blistering Arizona afternoon, and you've got the Mermaid Lounge -- the ultimate evening for girls who wanna have fun and be pampered at the same time.

Best of Phoenix 2003Merc Bar
2501 East Camelback AZ; Tel. 602.508.9449
Call it novel inspiration: On many a sweltering Havana day, Ernest Hemingway kept cool at his favorite watering hole, La Bodeguita, with a steady supply of ice-cold mojitos. Not surprisingly, the famous Cuban concoction helps beat the heat here as well -- if it's good enough for the literary legend, it's good enough for the parched souls of Phoenix. A tall, refreshing glass of rum, fresh mint, sugar, lime juice and soda, the mojito's been popping up on drink menus around town. But let the drinker beware. While it's hard to screw up cocktails such as gin and tonic or whiskey sours, there is absolutely a right way and a wrong way to make a mojito. And Merc Bar -- a dimly lighted, low-key-chic lounge discreetly located in the Camelback Esplanade -- does the drink justice, keeping it tart but sweet, strong but slurpable.

Best of Phoenix 2002 O
4720 North Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale AZ ; Tel. 480.946.4466
Beautiful places attract beautiful people. And O is just that kind of place: a voyeur's paradise. Sit back and enjoy the people, the decor or the TV screens playing music videos. The people here are the cream of the crop, at least as far as looks go, in a city that is already known for its highly groomed folk. These guys and girls are hot and dressed to kill. Still, don't be fooled into thinking that the lack of a cover charge means you are getting a free show. You will more than make up for it in the price of drinks.

Best of Phoenix 2001 O'Mally's Sports, Spirits and Grill
3544 West Glendale Ave., Phoenix AX; Tel. 602.589.7180
Gosh and Begorrah, isn't this where you'd expect to find great hip-hop? At a strip-mall hangout with an Irish name on the west side of town? O'Mally's has long juggled its two identities: sports bar by day, dance club by night, shifting musical genres depending on the day of the week. A year ago, O'Mally's gave hip-hop a shot on Tuesday nights, and the results have been explosive. The Tuesday night freestyle contests -- in front of packed, hyped-up crowds that form circles around the competitors -- have been so fierce that at least one freestyler had to be carried out of the place when he took umbrage at a rival diss. And the club has become home to Kitch Kitchen, probably the Valley's most charismatic MC and surely the best rapper ever to play point guard for ASU's women's basketball team.

Best of Phoenix 2001 Royal Palms Inn
5200 East Camelback, Phoenix AZ; Tel. 602.840.3610
With its cushy, '40s-era floral-print-upholstered furniture arranged into intimate clusters, its warm amber lighting, and its generous cocktails, the Royal Palms bar is the most inviting place in town to go when your focus is on the person -- or people -- you came with. There's no dancing, and there's no "scene," although the people-watching isn't bad. The pianist supplies a soundtrack for that evening that's spirited but not noisy, so there's no need to shout over his arpeggios. And consider yourself lucky to snag the highly desirable little room to the left of the bar, the one with the cozy couches arranged around a roaring fireplace. This elegant spot, like the rest of the small bar, offers atmosphere in spades.

Best of Phoenix 2003SIX
7316 East Stetson, Scottsdale AZ; Tel. 480.663.6620
Looking good is only the half of it. You also need to be seen by other good-looking people to truly pull off an ensemble. SIX is the place to be seen in the Valley. This čber-chic lounge with its mood lighting and modern decor is the place to flaunt your style. Each night of the week there is a different theme to tantalize your senses. The bar is backed by lights that change color with the music and is lined with an ice strip to keep those drinks cold. DJs spin mellow mixes as background music. This way, you're still able to mingle and network without having to scream, which never looks attractive anyway. SIX brings together professionals who are not only fashionable but are cool and confident. Just a tip: When using the rest rooms, remember to lock the door (they'll fog up). Otherwise, the entire bar will get a free peep show. And that's something you don't want to be seen.

Best of Phoenix 2002 Zen 32
3160 East Camelback, Phoenix AZ; Tel. 602.954.8700
We'll keep this one simple. How can you go wrong when you mix two crowd-pleasers: a martini and bubbly? You can't, and the proof is in The Flirtini, a concoction of champagne, vodka and vermouth you'll find at Zen 32. The result is the confidence of a martini and the lightheaded delight of champagne, quite the social lubricant. And the taste is even better than it sounds. But be warned: It goes down a lot easier than a regular martini and hits you a lot faster, too. Don't say we didn't warn you

Excerpts from the Phoenix New Times are ©2004 Phoenix New Times and republished with publisher's permission.

Best of Phoenix 2001
The Best Of Phoenix 2001

Best of Phoenix 2002
The Best Of Phoenix 2002

Best of Phoenix 2003
The Best Of Phoenix 2003


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