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

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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.

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1. Anvil Bar - gay bar

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.

2. Apollo's - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
This locals' favorite in north-central Phoenix has a popular patio out back. Apollo's (5749 N. 7th St., 602-277-9373) draws a primarily male crowd and is well-appreciated for its affordable drinks.

3. AZ 88 (in Scottsdale) - restaurant/mixed bar

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.

4. Bar 1 - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
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.

5. Bar on Central - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins

Formerly known as Amsterdam, the Bar on Central (718 N. Central Ave., 602-258-6122) was purchased in 2013 by the same owner as Bliss/ReBar (see below) and has since undergone a major renovation. This longtime favorite downtown nightclub has always drawn a varied, mostly gay crowd, although tending toward a well-heeled, well-coiffed, if in some cases cliquey stand-and-model bunch. The elegant decor, spacious back patio, large dance floor, hot go-go boys, late-night pizza menu, and extensive martini list draw a sizable after-work crowd, and the place keeps buzzing into the evening. This 10,000-square-foot space is the definite gay clubbing option, especially on weekends - note the lines out the door after midnight on weekends. It's conveniently situated a few steps from a light rail stop. There's an 18-and-over college night on Wednesdays, a cabaret revue on Thursdays, and the patio is very much a place to hangout on Sunday afternoons (starting at 4 pm).

6. Bliss on Fourth/ReBar - restaurant/mixed bar

photo by Andrew Collins
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.

7. Blue Hound Kitchen/Lustre Bar at Hotel Palomar - restaurant/mixed bar

photo by Andrew Collins
GLBT-popular Kimpton Hotels opened the much-anticipated Hotel Palomar in 2012 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.

8. BS West (in Scottsdale) - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins

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.

9. Bunkhouse - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
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.

10. Cartel Coffee Lab (in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe) - coffeehouse

photo by Andrew Collins
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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