Dive bar. Pub. Neighborhood joint. Watering hole. Whatever you call them, we love their unapologetic lack of pretense, well-worn edges and universally welcoming spirit that invites the masses to have a good time. If you want to belly up in an establishment that doesn’t have a flashy marquee or snobby dress code, but generously pours cheap drinks, serves filling nosh and makes everyone feel like a regular, check out these popular Phoenix dive bars.
Don’t let the name fool you. Shady’s dark interior suggests something sinister, but the small and cozy ’60s-style watering hole is transparent in its eclectic dive bar endeavors. A large selection of beers, old-time craft cocktails, a fireplace pool table, a retro jukebox and TVs that silently loop classic and cult movies create a hipster vibe that makes Shady’s a must-stop neighborhood bar. While it doesn’t have a kitchen, Shady’s features all sorts of quirky dining opportunities like bring-your-own Taco Tuesday and partners with local food trucks to help wash down all the pub shenanigans.
2701 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix 85016
This Arcadia joint is hard to find—though once you discover the entrance, you’ll keep coming back. Just follow the lit-up owl sign. Once inside, the log-cabin wallpaper, zigzag wood paneling and a glowing red bar read nocturnal, illegal speakeasy. The “underground” experience includes signature cocktails and an extensive whiskey collection with a superb happy hour. Darts, skee ball and foosball are part of the fun and games, as is the above-average dive lineup of appetizers, such as the house-baked pretzel knot served with house-made beer cheese and grain mustard, plus flatbreads and sandwiches.
4228 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix 85018
Staffers don’t wear skimpy swimsuits at the Bikini Lounge, but the cash-only hotspot does strip it down with an authentic and kooky dive bar personality. The Phoenix institution, which sits at the crossroads of the Garfield arts district, opened in 1947 and takes it way back with a pool table at the entrance and vintage, half-moon lounge booths. A DJ spins groovy tunes spanning decades on multiple nights as a diverse mix of regulars converge to throw back traditional beverages, groove on the dance floor and grub on hearty eats like poutine with fries—all while keeping it real.
1502 Grand Ave, Phoenix 85007
Most dive bars will never earn “best of” for cleanest women’s bathroom, but that’s what makes the Swizzle Inn, located in a strip mall in midtown, a drinking spot anomaly—that and the nonsensical atrium and Christmas lights that are perpetually illuminated. What does make sense is the friendly bar service and pleasant conversations occurring between the young and old alike, who frequent this off-beat, but charming lounge that pours a stiff cheap drink, has competitive trivia nights, and sometimes offers free buffet-style comfort food served in chaffing dishes to satisfy your social hunger needs.
5835 N 16th St, Phoenix 85016
HB Hanratty's Pub
When a neighborhood joint’s only rules are “Rule #1: Bartender is always right. Rule #2: If bartender is wrong, see Rule #1,” you know it means business. Such is the case at HB Hanratty’s in midtown Phoenix, where you can shoot pool, throw darts and drink in familiar company—especially if you’re an Ohio State fan (come football season, the bar is the unofficial “official” game-watching venue for OSU alumni). For cheap Bud Lights, well cocktails and drafts, drop in for happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. And if you work in the bar biz, stop by Sundays and Mondays for industry night deals from 9 p.m. to close.
537 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix 85012
JT's Bar and Grill
We can all agree: Nothing goes better together than a heaping plate of wings and good game playing on the tube. If this sounds like the makings of a perfect night out, make your way to JT’s Bar & Grill in Arcadia. Better yet, come Monday nights when you can score a dozen wings—with flavors that include hot, suicide, spicy and “the works”—for $8. Voted “best wings of Phoenix” by the Phoenix New Times, you can chase ’em down with your choice of beverage from an uncomplicated drink menu made up mostly of beers and wine.
4829 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix 85018
Dilly Dally Lounge
When a dive bar gets a makeover, is it still considered a dive bar? For Dilly Dally Lounge, a revamp in 2016 still maintained (thankfully) its dive vibe, giving longtime patrons a reason to breathe a big sigh of relief. A neighborhood bar at its core, the Dilly Dally keeps things simple with a selection of cold beers (bottle or draft) and stiff drinks served in a low-key, laid-back, friendly atmosphere. The warm glow of neon lights set the mood for a night of shooting pool, throwing darts or grooving to the beats mixed by DJ T-Last.
3639 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix 85018
One of the most redeeming qualities of a dive bar is that there are no expectations. You can simply pull up a seat at the bar and enjoy a drink, no questions asked. But if you’re looking for a little fun—and friendly competition—with your adult beverage, look no further than Paradise Lounge in north Phoenix. Offering more than just the standard pool table and game of darts, the bar carries a variety of the old-school board games you grew up with: Candy Land, Battleship, Clue, you name it, they’ve got it. And for even more entertainment, swing by on Sundays for live entertainment by Valley musicians.
4541 E Cactus Rd, Phoenix 85032