Nightlife in Phoenix: Best Bars, Clubs, & More

Old Town Scottsdale
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In the past, Phoenix hasn’t had much nightlife, at least not compared to other large cities. But the city—and the Valley as a whole—is stepping up its late-night game.

Drinking establishments in the Phoenix metropolitan area run the gamut from craft cocktail joints and breweries to clubs and live music venues. While the most popular watering holes are in downtown Phoenix (especially around CityScape), Scottsdale and Mill Avenue near Arizona State University have a fair number as well. 

Breweries

Nothing quenches one's thirst quite like a cold beer, especially in the desert. Luckily, Phoenix breweries rank among some of the nation’s best, and since they're spread evenly throughout the Valley, you’ll never have to go far for a late-night frosty one. 

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.

Opened in Gilbert in 2013, Arizona Wilderness is considered one of the best breweries in the state. Check out its second location in downtown Phoenix. 

Wren House Brewing Co.

This 10-barrel brewery in Phoenix has collected accolades and Great American Beer Festival medals for its experimental brews and traditional American lager, Valley Beer.

Four Peaks Brewing Co.

Four Peaks launched the craft beer movement in the Valley when it opened in 1996. If you like strong, Scottish-style ales, try its flagship beer, Kilt Lifter. Or, go for the easy-drinking 8th Street Pale Ale.  

UnderTow
Courtesy of UnderTow 

Craft Cocktail Bars

Valley resorts have always mixed distinctive cocktails for their guests. (In fact, the Tequila Sunrise was invented at the Arizona Biltmore.) But today, the best craft cocktails are being shaken, stirred, and poured downtown. 

Bitter & Twisted

Housed inside the former Arizona Prohibition headquarters, this acclaimed craft cocktail bar seasonally creates a book—not a menu—of themed libations. Come early for first-come, first-served seating, or be prepared to wait. 

Little Rituals

The sister bar to Bitter & Twisted celebrates the “little rituals” that make craft cocktails amazing, like house-made infusions and the perfect ice. In its debut year, it was a finalist in the 2019 Spirited Awards' Best New Cocktail Bar.

UnderTow

For an immersive, nautical-themed experience, head to UnderTow. Its seasonal menu tells the evolving saga of a South Seas trading ship, with drinks that reflect the current storyline. 

Century Grand

This Art Deco bar pours Roaring Twenties-inspired cocktails and serves dim sum-style bites from carts. Make a reservation specifically for Platform 18, a replica Pullman car that takes you on a 90-minute “train ride” through the Rocky Mountains.

Specialty Bars

Phoenix has seen an influx of bars in recent years that not only serve craft cocktails, they also focus on fun (think video games, movies, and bowling). If you're looking for something to do while sipping your drink, these establishments might be right up your alley—literally. 

Cobra Arcade Bar

Open daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., this bar features a rotating collection of vintage arcade games, including pinball. There’s no cover charge, but plan on coming early to avoid waiting in line. The bar fills to capacity on weekends after 10 p.m. 

Gypsy Bar

Sharing space with a swanky 12-lane bowling alley, this 10,000-square-foot bar is part dance club, part gaming area. Head here for billiards, ping pong, and video games along with bottle service and reserved VIP tables.

Clubs

While locals prefer live music to DJ-spun tunes, the Valley does have a couple of dance clubs that are usually packed with the see-and-be-seen crowd. Bring your ID, and come prepared to party.

Riot House

Gold, marble, and sandalwood decorate this tropical-themed dance club bar. Considered the best in the Valley, it features state-of-the-art audio visuals, private booths, and VIP bottle service. 

Bar Smith

Dance to hip hop on the rooftop under the stars, or inside where bottle-tossing mixologists craft artisan cocktails. Be sure to check out the chalkboard wall, which features temporary works by street artists.

Delux Burger
Courtesy of Delux Burger

Late-Night Restaurants 

A surprising number of restaurants remain open until 2 a.m. Most of these are in downtown Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale, serving burgers and greasy foods meant to soak up a night’s worth of alcohol. There are a few exceptions, though, that offer vegan, Asian, and other fare.  

Welcome Diner

One of Phoenix’s most celebrated eateries, Welcome Diner serves up farm-to-table biscuits and gravy, mac n' cheese, and vegan options like jackfruit po’ boy. Of course, you can’t go wrong with any of the burgers.  

Delux Grill + Sushi

Home to arguably the best burger in the Valley, Delux also offers sushi, sake, cocktails, and 40 craft beers on tap every night. Reverse happy hour runs from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m., with different specials depending on the day of the week. 

Cornish Pasty Co.

Opened by a Cornwall native, this restaurant specializes in pasties, a savory pastry traditionally filled with steak, potato, and rutabaga. Fillings here can get creative—think chicken tikka masala or carne adovada. Valley locations are open until 2 a.m. 

Live Music

Besides the superstars that regularly roll through on tour, Phoenix attracts a steady stream of indie acts along with talented local musicians. Although country music would have once dominated the music scene, you’ll hear everything from jazz to hip hop and rock ‘n’ roll. 

Crescent Ballroom

This 21+ venue (with some exceptions) attracts some of the biggest names on the indie circuit. For the most part, shows are standing room only, although some limited bleacher-style seats are available. No bags or backpacks are allowed. 

The Van Buren

A massive concert space located in a vintage auto dealership, The Van Buren has brought the likes of Billie Eilish, Sting, and the Violent Femmes to the Valley. Most tickets are general admission and standing room only, although you can purchase mezzanine-level seats. 

Valley Bar

Known for craft cocktails named after infamous Arizona politicians, this downtown bar has a Music Hall that hosts everything from alternative rock concerts to comedy shows.

Bourbon Jacks

For country music (with the occasional acoustic or rock act thrown in for good measure), head to Bourbon Jacks. The Chandler restaurant and bar has live music five nights a week, plus free two step lessons on Tuesdays.  

Comedy Clubs

While Phoenix doesn’t launch comedic careers, it does draw touring comedians like Joel McHale and Chelsea Handler. It also has several improv clubs, some with family-friendly shows. Be prepared to show your ID since many require ticket holders to be at least 21 years old. 

Stand Up Live

Nationally known comedians perform 90-minute shows at this two-drink minimum club. Seating is first come, first served, so arrive at least 45 minutes before the show starts. The kitchen serves burgers, salads, roast chicken, salmon, and similar entrées. 

The Comedy Spot Comedy Club

Located in Old Town Scottsdale, The Comedy Spot has two shows on Friday and Saturday nights and one on Sunday nights. It enforces a two-drink minimum, and seating is first come, first served. Stop by on Wednesday for the $10 drop-in improv class. 

Jester’Z Improv Comedy

Family-friendly Jester’Z Improv Comedy in Mesa solicits audience suggestions for its two-hour, improvised shows. Alcohol is not served.

Tempe Improv

This club near Arizona State University regularly brings “Saturday Night Live” alums and other big names to its stage. Doors open 30 to 90 minutes before the show, and seating is first come, first served. There’s a two-drink minimum.

Events and Festivals 

With temperatures topping triple digits during the summer, events and festivals in Phoenix are seasonal. Most take place mid-January through March, with some in the fall. But no matter the time of year, these events and festivals often continue late into the night with live music, dancing, and other activities.

Coors Light Birds Nest

Held in a giant tent near the Waste Management Phoenix Open, this 21-and-over party kicks off every night of the tournament. Top-name acts like Snoop Dog and Toby Keith take the stage at 8:30 p.m.; tickets are sold separately from the tournament. 

Four Peaks Oktoberfest

The largest Oktoberfest in the Valley, the Four Peaks Oktoberfest features 20-plus varieties of beer, three stages with live music, carnival rides, and dachshund races. Lederhosen is optional, but encouraged.

Arizona State Fair

During the state fair, concerts are held every Wednesday through Saturday night, and feature some of the biggest names in entertainment. Tickets for these premium concerts cost $30 to $60. 

Tips for Going Out in Phoenix

  • Bars and clubs in the Phoenix metropolitan area generally close at 2 a.m., even on weekends. 
  • Valley Metro runs daily from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. If you plan to stay out later, call a taxi, Uber, or Lyft. 
  • Open containers of alcohol are strictly prohibited in Arizona. If you are caught drinking on the street or transporting an open bottle, you could be sentenced to four months in jail and fined up to $750. However, the state does permit passengers of taxis, limousines, chartered buses, and ride-hailing services to have open containers.
Article Sources
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  1. Tails of the Cocktail Foundation. "Regional Top 10 Honorees for the 13th Annual Spirit Awards Announced." June 05, 2019.

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