Phoenix Gay Bars Guide - Best Gay-Friendly Restaurants and Bars in Phoenix

With some 30 bars and clubs catering to the GLBT community, Phoenix is the gay nightlife hub of the Southwest and has one of the largest selections of gay bars in the nation. This is a city where folks love to party, and the scene is generally friendly, unpretentious, and - in many cases - downright cruise-y. Here's an alphabetical list of the most inviting gay-oriented after-dark venues in the region, including a handful of mixed bars, restaurants, and GLBT-popular coffeehouses of note. Check here for a guide to Phoenix Gay Bathhouses and Sex Clubs.

Also, see the Phoenix Gay Hotels and Resorts Guide for tips on where to stay.

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  • 01 of 35
    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    Located on the east side of Phoenix, Anvil Bar (2303 E. Indian School Rd., 602-956-2885) is the region's favorite leather bar. Popular theme nights include Monday's and Friday's "undie night" (you get $1 off your drink if you're clad in underwear) and the Sunday beer bust. It's owned by the same team behind Cruisin' 7th and Club 24.

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    Set along the landscaped, pedestrian-friendly Civic Center Mall in downtown Scottsdale, AZ 88 (7353 Scottsdale Mall, 480-994-5576) has been a steady favorite among gay and straight A-listers, resort-goers, and scenesters for years. The snazzy, modern space is a great place to sip creative cocktails and enjoy a snack or a full meal of wallet-friendly comfort dishes, including chicken wings, Cobb salads, au poivre burgers, Portobello mushroom sandwiches, and ice cream sundaes. It's a little tricky to find, as you can't drive right up to the entrance - rather, park at the garage at N. Wells Fargo Ave., just north of East 2nd Street, and AZ 88 is atop this structure overlooking the courtyard.

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    With a spacious patio, huge video screens, and a stylish interior with a fireplace and cushy seating, Bar 1 (3702 N. 16th St., 602-266-9001) is a nice alternative to the city's pulsing dance clubs and cruisy dive bars, which is not to say you can't meet and make the moves on plenty of cute guys in here. This is a pretty relaxed video bar with a nice vibe and plenty of diversions, including pool tables and darts.

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    Bliss on Fourth (901 N. 4th St., 602-795-1792) and its cocktails component ReBar are noted fixtures in the hip and lively Roosevelt Row Arts District, on the east edge of downtown Phoenix. These attractive spaces, along with the sprawling patio out front, are terrific venues for dining and drinking, whether it's weekend brunch, a romantic dinner, or late-night carousing and noshing (the bar menu doles out tasty sandwiches, burgers, and salads well into the evening). You can dine in ReBar, but many patrons in here swing by for a selection from the excellent wine and beer list, or a deftly mixed cocktail. The food here is classic American with some nouvelle touches, such as a bacon-meatloaf sandwich with house-made ketchup on toasted pretzel bread, and pan-seared shrimp and cheesy grits with a beurre blanc sauce. Weekend brunch has fast become a de rigueur with see-and-be-seen gays and lesbians.

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  • 05 of 35
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    GLBT-popular Kimpton Hotels opened the much-anticipated Hotel Palomar in the downtown Cityscape development, which includes retail and restaurants. A major asset here, for both hotel guests and others, is the property's Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, a chic but casual restaurant and bar serving terrific mod-American cuisine, from bar snacks (deviled eggs, cheddar-scallion biscuits, mac-n-cheese with braised ham hocks, butterscotch popcorn with ancho chile) to more substantial fare (pork porterhouse with cassoulet, monkfish schnitzel. Stop by for happy hour on weekdays (4 to 6 pm) for some enticing food deals. Head up to the next level to the hotel's breezy poolside bar, Lustre, to sip cocktails while enjoying fabulous views of the downtown skyline.

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    Your best bet if you're staying out at one of the glam resorts of Scottsdale, BS West (7125 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale, 480-945-9028) is a very fun, long-running video bar (opened in 1988) with two patios, a small dance floor, - it's tucked behind a row of galleries and boutiques in downtown Old Scottsdale, and is a little tricky to find - walk toward the northwest side of the parking structure between 3rd and 5th avenues). The attractive, warmly lighted bar pulls in an eclectic crowd, from students who attend relatively nearby ASU to visiting tourists. The staff is friendly and welcoming, and there are fun drag shows on Friday nights. Come on and watch the go-go boys work the crowd on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

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    Bears, leather daddies, and blue-collar guys have long patronized this super-friendly, no-bullshit cruise bar near several other zero-attitude gay hangouts on North 7th Avenue. The Bunkhouse (4428 N. 7th Ave., 602-200-9154) has a racially diverse crowd, is quite friendly toward women for a pretty cruisy guys' bar, and has some fun events, like monthly "bear-b-que" cookouts, Southwest Leather Pride parties, and Thursday underwear nights.

  • 08 of 35
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    Serious java aficionados favor Cartel Coffee Lab (1 N. 1st St., Phoenix; 7124 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale; 225 W. University Dr., Tempe; 480-432-8237), which has locations in downtown Phoenix, along gallery-studded 5th Avenue in Scottsdale (this is the one pictured in the photo here), and near ASU in Tempe - there's also a Tucson location. The baristas here know what they're doing, and the beans are sourced from high-quality coffee farms in Mexico and Central America. The original location in Tempe is where all the roasting is done, and they're going to be opening a microbrewery here soon, too. There's good food at these coffee bars, and the Scottsdale location also carries a nice selection of beers and wines by the glass - it's open late, until 9 on weekdays and 11 on weekends.

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  • 09 of 35
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    Drawing a predominantly lesbian crowd, this is one of the country's top country-western-themed women's bars and an extremely popular hangout in Phoenix. Line-dancing and two-stepping are a big part of the fun at Cash Inn Country (2140 E. McDowell Rd., 602-244-9943), but there's also darts and pool, free Wi-Fi, and an expansive patio out back. Many nights the DJs spin other types of music, too - from Latin to standard dance tunes. If you're not so big on cocktails, just drop in and hang out in the coffee bar. It's a very friendly place, with an especially nice bunch of folks working behind the bar.

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    A rather butch bunch of guys, many who favor cowboy garb, frequent this long-time Phoenix favorite - Charlie's (727 W. Camelback Rd., 602-265-0224) also has branches in Chicago, Denver, and Las Vegas. An expansive dance floor, regularly updated decor, and great lighting and sound systems help this dependable country-western club keep up with the times and continue pulling in a dedicated crowd. Line-dancing and two-stepping are the dance styles of choice (lessons are offered many evenings), and on Friday and Saturday the place is open after-hours (til 4 am), when it draws a more eclectic crowd and plays popular dance music starting around 11 pm on Fridays and 1 am on Saturdays (when the crowd shifts dramatically, drawing more young clubbers - both men and a fair number of women). There's volleyball on Sunday afternoons.

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    A hip gastropub in Old Scottsdale's trendy 5th Avenue neighborhood, Citizen Public House (Craftsman Court at 5th Ave., 480-398-4208) serves stellar craft cocktails and creative renditions of classic American dishes. From the drinks list, consider the Bijou 13 (with Beefeater 24 and green Chartreuse) or the Rye's Wide Open (Wild Turkey, spiced apple cider, Fever-Tree bitter lemon soda, and sage on the rocks). The food is every bit as interesting, and perfectly prepared, including pork belly pastrami with rye spaetzle, chicken-and-waffles with almond butter and blue-clover honey, and a memorable dessert of pina colada bread pudding with brown sugar-rum praline.

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    A casual neighborhood spot that's popular with bears and leather dudes, Club 24 (2424 E. Thomas Rd., 602-334-1462) is owned by the same team behind Cruisin' 7th and Anvil. The "Bears Den" happy hour on Fridays from 3 until 7 is a popular event, and Sundays are big with the leather crowd.

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  • 13 of 35
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    Yeah, yeah - go ahead and roll your eyes. There's not much new to say about the food and beverages served at the ubiquitous chain diner Denny's (5002 N. 7th St., 602-279-7721), but this particular location at Camelback and 7th Street has for many years been a favorite rendezvous for post-clubbing gays into the wee hours. It's pretty fun for people-watching, especially late at night, which is also the time of day when a Lumberjack Slam can seem like a great idea.

  • 14 of 35
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    An old-school neighborhood bar that's been a hit with fans of strippers, drag shows, and the transgender scene since the late '70s, Cruisin' 7th (3702 N. 7th St., 602-212-9888) is just a laid-back, low-frills cruise bar. It's an all-welcoming place, and without any attitude.

  • 15 of 35
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    The city's most popular gay strip bar, Dick's (3432 E. Illini St., 602-274-3425) moved to a new location just south of Sky Harbor airport several years ago. It's a bit of an effort to find, as it's tucked amid a row of industrial concerns, but it's also very near several airport hotels along University Drive. The bar is well-regarded for its hunky dancers, and it's perhaps most famous because one of those handsome guys - David Hernandez - went on to show off his considerable vocal endowment as a finalist on American Idol (in 2008). That claim to fame aside, it's a pretty fun spot to ogle strippers.

  • 16 of 35
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    Attractive and modish Fez (3815 N. Central Ave., 602-287-8700) is a hot spot among the GLBT set for brunch as well as cocktails, dinner, and late-night happy hour. Cocktails like the mint chipper (vanilla vodka, creme de menthe, Godiva white chocolate, and cream) appeal to sweet-tooths, while the food menu tends toward share-friendly, eclectic dishes (many with Middle Eastern influences), such as spicy harissa hummus, apricot-honey-glazed salmon, kisra flatbread pizzas, cuman-cinnamon-carrot soup.

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  • 17 of 35
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    Set right in the heart of the city's Central Avenue corridor, which is convenient to nightlife and attractions (as well as the super-cool new Light Rail), the Clarendon Hotel (401 W. Clarendon Ave., 602-252-7363) is a favorite, mid-priced lodging option for GLBT travelers (and other hipsters, artists, and the like). But whether you stay here or not, be sure to check out the fabulous Skydeck Rooftop Bar, with its nifty skyline views and stylish patio furniture. It's a swank spot to sip cocktails and soak up the desert skies. There's also Cafe Tranquilo restaurant off the lobby, down on the main level.

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    Harley's Bistro - restaurant

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    Close to One Voice LGBT community center and several gay bars along North 7th Avenue, Harley's Bistro (4221 N. 7th Ave., 602-234-0333) is a gay-popular Italian restaurant serving traditional dishes like fried calamari with marinara sauce, meatball subs, prosciutto-fig pizzas, fettuccine Alfredo, chicken marsala, and the like. This intimate, cozy spot with friendly service has been a neighborhood fixture since 1950.

  • 19 of 35
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    One of the city's best gay dance clubs and as fun a Latin gay bar as you'll ever find, Karamba (1724 E. McDowell Rd., 602-254-0231) has an edgy, post-industrial look and a thunderous sound system. There are three large indoor areas plus a decent-size patio, and a small restaurant inside serves Mexican food on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The music and the crowd are heavily Latin-influenced, but you'll see all kinds of revelers here, from shirtless and buff gym kids to veteran circuit-party addicts to straight-but-progressive types who love the great music. There's nothing quiet or intimate about this place - it's where you go when you're looking to cut loose and party into the wee hours.

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    You walk down a short alley behind the stellar downtown Scottsdale restaurant Cowboy Ciao to reach Kazimierz (7137 E. Stetson Dr., 480-946-3004), a charmingly secretive-seeming spot with a warm, inviting interior of cushy chairs and antique wine barrels. The wine selection here is astounding, and there's live music some nights. You can order delish bar food (Egyptian flatbread pizzas, chicken kabobs, three-cheese fondue), but if you're really hungry, slip next door to Cowboy Ciao, which features some of the most creative and delicious globally inspired American food in the valley.

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  • 21 of 35
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    A friendly gay bar a short drive north of downtown at Park Central Mall, Kobalt (3110 N. Central Ave., Suite 125, 602-264-5307) is popular for its variety of theme nights, including karaoke on Sunday and Tuesday, piano cabaret on Friday and Saturday, and Broadway tunes on Thursdays. An upscale, attractive layout with dim lighting and glass-top bar tables lend a warm and welcoming ambience and there's a patio, too. Tends to get some of the overflow from Bar on Central, which isn't too far away from here.

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    A hipster favorite on Central a short drive north of downtown, Lux Coffee (4400 N. Central Ave., 602-696-9976) is renowned for its artisan-roasted coffee as well as fine teas and a nice selection of microbrew beers, well-chosen wines, and expertly poured cocktails. There's a good-size patio at this trendy hangout with a mixed gay/straight scene, and delicious baked goods as well as light breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare - much of it from a daily-changing menu - are also featured.

  • 23 of 35
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    You can't miss the 17-foot model Eiffel Tower that rises from the rooftop of this cruisy gay men's bar that opened in 1971 and then underwent a complete rebuild following a fire a few years ago. Nu-Towne Saloon (5002 E. Van Buren St., 602-267-9959) lies just east-northeast of the airport, not too far from Scottsdale or Tempe, and caters to a mostly male, bearish bunch. The drinks are potent and affordable, the staff fun-loving and friendly. This is the longest-running gay bar in Phoenix. Note that the Sunday beer blast is one of the more popular gay party events in the city.

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    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    Just a low-key neighborhood gay bar on the east side of downtown Phoenix, Plazma (1560 E. Osborn Rd., 602-266-0477) is fun for karaoke or as part of a general bar crawl. It's mostly the domain of locals who live in the area.

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    A laid-back neighborhood bar, the only gay hangout in far northeast Phoenix, Rainbow Cactus Saloon (15615 N. Cave Creek Rd., 602-971-1086) takes some effort to get to - at least if you're coming from central Phoenix or Scottsdale. But this friendly spot has a loyal following among those who live in the area - it's a welcoming place drawing women and men of all ages.

  • 26 of 35
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    The Rock (4129 N. 7th Ave., 602-248-8559) is one of the best gay venues in the area for catching live entertainment of all kinds, from drag cabarets to concerts to comedy shows. There's a large show stage, a spacious patio, and a nicely decorated bar with videos, a juke box, and karaoke. Regular events include drag bingo on Mondays, viewing parties of Ru Paul's Drag Race, and fetish nights. Although drawing mostly a gay and lesbian crowd, The Rock is popular with everybody when there's a fun and campy show scheduled.

  • 27 of 35
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    This is a convivial little sports bar with an extremely popular happy hour. The big draw are more than a dozen video monitors, which show every kind of sporting event imaginable. But Roscoe's (4531 N. 7th St., 602-285-0833) is also known for its cheap drink specials and for hosting area gay sports leagues and teams. The bar's All-Star Grill serves lunch and dinner, too.

  • 28 of 35
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    On the edge of the steadily gentrifying and quite diverse Willo Historic District, lively and somewhat trendy SideBar (1514 N. 7th Ave., 602-254-1646) is a short distance from several good restaurants and an easy drive from downtown hotels. Although not a gay bar, it does draw a very mixed bunch to its cozy, stylish interior, with exposed-brick walls and mod lounge chairs and banquette seats. The main reason to consider SideBar is the very extensive beverage list - more than 40 craft beers and the same number of wines by the glass, as well as first-rate cocktails using fresh-squeezed juices. The bartenders here are real pros, and quite convivial, too (they're great about making recommendations, if you're unsure of what to order).

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  • 29 of 35
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    Along downtown Phoenix's up-and-coming Roosevelt Row gallery and retail district, Songbird (214 E. Roosevelt St., 602-374-4192) is a homey, bohemian space that presents rotating art exhibits, hosts poetry and spoken-word, and books acoustic, jazz, and rock musicians. It's only open until 7 pm on weekdays (and 4 on Saturdays), but as daytime hangouts go, it's one of the better venues in downtown Phoenix for meeting and mingling with creative spirits. The food and drink comes from Cortez Coffee Roasters, Maya Tea, Treehouse Bakery, SweetArt Bakery, and Latin Fusion Foods.

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    With its icy-blue-hued interior, Switch (2603 N. Central Ave., 602-264-2295) is both a snazzy cocktail and wine bar and a terrific restaurant specializing in casual sandwiches and comfort foods prepared with fresh ingredients. Popular standbys include the lobster-seafood crepes, spinach-feta salad, Thai-braised beef tacos, and smoked turkey, avocado, and bacon panini. Breakfast is served on the weekends, too. There's an eclectic selection of wines by the glass, plus old-school (Gibson martinis, side cars) and new-school drinks.

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    The acclaimed contemporary Italian restaurant inside Scottsdale very gay-popular Kimpton property, FireSky Resort & Spa, indoor-outdoor Taggia (4925 N. Scottsdale Rd., 480-945-7666) serves food inspired by the northern Italian coast - think gnocchi with chorizo and crab, house-smoked duck carpaccio, and wood-fired pizza topped with dates, caramelized onions, bacon, goat cheese, and rosemary. There's also quite a lively and sexy scene at the resort's Aqua Bar, especially early in the evening for happy hour.

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    Ticoz (5114 N. 7th St., 602-200-0160) is an upscale, gay-popular lounge and restaurant in north-central Phoenix, just a short distance from the city's famously gay Denny's. Plenty of regulars drop by here for the cocktails, including top-notch mojitos and margaritas in many flavors (lychee, blackberry, guava, etc.) - grab a seat on the patio for optimum people-watching. Top picks from the food menu include shrimp ceviche, shredded-pork torta sandwiches, paella, and sweet-corn tamales. It's also a noted venue for weekend brunch with cheap bloody Mary's and mimosas.

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  • 33 of 35
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    A GLBT-popular cafe that shifts steadily from coffee joint and breakfast spot to light-dinner and wine-beer bar as the day progresses, Urban Beans (3508 N. 7th St., 602-595-2244) is bright and attractive, with comfy seating inside and on a shaded patio. The "farm egg" sandwiches are a great way to start the day off, and the high-quality coffee is strong and available in the usual formats, from espressos to cold-filtered iced toddys. Healthy salads and creative sandwiches are available, too.

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    The region's premier women's bar and dance club, The Zoan (4301 N. 7th Ave., 602-265-3233) - formerly known as Z Girl Club - is along a stretch of LGBT-friendly businesses, including One Voice Community Center, along the 4000 block of North 7th Avenue. The attractive bar has a great staff, fun happy hours, a great karaoke night on Wednesdays, a wildly popular Friday beer bust, and serious dancing on weekends. The smoking patio fills up most nights and is a good place to escape the music and strike up a conversation with the hot number you've been checking out on the dance floor.

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    The Mid-Century Modern, retro-chic Hotel Valley Ho is a great place to stay near Old Town Scottsdale, but regardless of whether you spend a night here, the relaxing indoor-outdoor ZuZu Lounge (6850 E. Main St., 480-248-2000) is well worth trying for dinner, weekend brunch, or cocktails. This stylish but fair-priced restaurant serves great renditions of American classics: giant-shrimp cocktail, iceberg wedge salad with bacon and Maytag blue, burgers topped with Tillamook Cheddar, and twice-cooked fries with spicy sriracha aioli.