search

10 Best Nightlife Destinations in Downtown Phoenix



Downtown Phoenix nightlife has become a much busier place after hours in recent years, with a spate of new nightclubs, lounges, and other late night attractions opening their doors in the past decade. More accessible (and, some would argue, more hip) than the Scottsdale nightlife scene to the north, downtown Phoenix nightlife attracts both young and old, urban-dwellers and surburbanites, locals and those just passing through.

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour has become a destination for serious cocktail hounds. Behind the bar, knowledgeable mixologists create mouth-watering cocktails artfully crafted from fruit- and herb-infused spirits. There's no standing or bumping into strangers at this hip cocktail bar. Comfy seating, intimate ambiance, and a fun and extensive selection of drinks makes this a must-try when you're in downtown Phoenix.

For sheer exuberance and cool factor, Bar Smith remains one of the biggest nightlife draws in downtown. Take a breather on the plush couches to enjoy the people-watching, and don't forget to go up to the roof for excellent views of the city at night.

If your group can't decide whether to go out for drinks, games, live music, or food, why not go out for all the above? GypsyBar, at the sprawling CityScape complex, is a nightlife spot featuring 10,000 square feet of space to play, eat and dance. There's a dance floor, game lounge (aka arcade), food service, and of course, a bar.

Finally, let us draw your attention to the Crescent Ballroom, a live music venue that doubles as a gourmet Mexican food kitchen, bar and lounge. There is free live music in the lounge on most nights, hand-crafted cocktails awaiting behind the bar, and gourmet burritos in the kitchen. What more could you ask for? 


Advertisement

Monarch Theatre


If electronic dance music and fashion are your twin passions, it's time to hit the dance floor at the Monarch Theatre. The dance floor throbs at this downtown Phoenix dance club, located right off the light rail on Washington Street. The club holds a little more than 700 people and features a 30,000 watt sound system. The visual and lighting systems are also state of the art, which lend the club with a high-energy, visually stimulating dance club experience. The club frequently hosts some of the top DJs in the country, and holds special events like fashion shows and corporate gigs. Bring your A-game in terms of fashion, because this place attracts the region's fashionistas.




It's a movie theatre, it's a bar--it's FilmBar. This appealing venue is a beer/wine bar dedicated to screening hard-to-find cult classics, local independent films as well as new releases. FilmBar is described as a "microcinema," meaning that there are only about 70 seats on the house. On any given night, you'll find the latest independent hit, nostalgia cult classic, or little-known foreign flick being screened. Behind the bar, you'll find over 25 different craft beers, 12 different wines, and popcorn, of course. FilmBar is the brainchild of Kelly Aubey, who conceived of the film-bar concept to bring independent movies to downtown Phoenix in a fun and totally unique venue.




The creators of Bliss Rebar were seeking to establish a relaxed place where people could meet for good drinks and good food. The combination of shaded patios and indoor seating areas gives the bar and restaurant a feeling of seclusion, making it a pleasant escape after a busy day in Phoenix. The menu of upscale bar food is both inventive and satisfying, particularly the signature mac & cheese. This neighborhood hangout features a live DJ on the patio every Sunday. Happy hour happens everyday from 3 pm to 6:30 pm, with deals on appetizers, martinis, domestic bottle beer, and select wine.


Advertisement
Bar Smith


Downtown Phoenix scenesters crowd the small but busy dance floor at Bar Smith, a hip downtown bar, lounge and club located steps away from major attractions such as the US Airways Center and Chase Field. Swanky couches let you take a break from dancing, while providing an excellent perch for people-watching. A friendly bar staff and diverse crowd make this sleek club a nice break from the college student crowds found in Tempe and Scottsdale. Enjoy one of the best city views on the rooftop bar, which can be a fist-pumping spectacle or laid-back urban sanctuary, depending on the night of the week.




If vintage arcade games, craft beers and cleverly-named cocktails sound like a great combination to you, plan a visit to Cobra Arcade Bar. As its name implies, this is a hybrid arcade and bar situated in the Roosevelt Arts District in downtown Phoenix. Not only will you find dozens of vintage arcade games, including popular games like The Simpsons, Donkey Kong and Double Dragon, you'll also find a bar serving up stiff cocktails with names like Crazy Kong and Game Over. Although the bar does not serve up food, you can reboot with the gourmet food truck parked in front of the bar.




This sprawling nightclub features over 10,000 square feet of space to roam, drink, meet and be merry. Drinks are served at a three-sided island bar surrounded by plush lounge sofa sectionals, perfect for sipping on your hand-crafted specialty cocktail. The neon-lit dance floor features nothing less than confetti canons, C02 blasts and hazer machines. A raised stage is surrounded by a DJ booth, state of the art and scrimmed cut-outs featuring the silhouettes of the club's live go go dancers. GypsyBar's also features a game lounge featuring 40 arcade games in an adult-oriented environment. Young, hip and an eyeful every night.


Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
Photo courtesy of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour


Bitter & Twisted is a welcome addition to the downtown Phoenix scene. This cocktail parlour, tucked away in the historic Luhrs building, promises to deliver hand-crafted cocktails made from scratch using the finest house-infused spirits. Stop in for globally inspired bar bites, live music and, of course, an extensive cocktail selection featuring locally grown fruits and produce. Not sure what to order? Check out the handy bar guide on the menu, which will guide you to the perfect sweet, savory or tangy drink. The stylish venue offers an intimate place to enjoy a nightcap with friends.




The Van Buren is a 20,000-square-foot, 1,800 capacity concert venue located in downtown Phoenix. The Van Buren, along with its sister venue Crescent Ballroom, is helping to bring an increasingly diverse roster of nationally touring artists to downtown Phoenix. The venue is located in the former home of the Phoenix Motor Company dealership, and much of the building's vintage 1930s-era charm has been left intact. A large stage and mezzanine offers good vantage points from many points throughout the venue. Glittering chandeliers, exposed brick and a striking design work from Tucson-based artist and designer Gary Patch (who designed the venue's signature Sonoran Desert-themed murals) makes The Van Buren one of the most attractive live music venues in Arizona.




Valley Bar is rarity in Phoenix: a hip downtown bar that just happens to be located in a basement. Basements are uncommon in the southwest, so it's a treat to escape to the cool surroundings of a well-finished basement space - especially in the heat of summer. The bar is located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, just off Monroe and Central Avenue, and features lots of original woodwork and clean, hip decor. There is a game area with two Skeeball machines, vintage arcade video games, board games, along with a performance space, and separate lounge, The Rose Room. Come here for great hand-crafted cocktails, live music and game nights with friends.




Part concert venue, bar, and gourmet kitchen, the Crescent Ballroom is one of downtown Phoenix's newest hot spots. The Crescent Lounge hosts free nightly music, while the ballroom sees some of the country's top touring acts perform on the intimate stage. This renovated warehouse-turned-music venue features hardwood floors, exposed brick and vaulted ceilings, all adding to the character of this unique nightlife destination. The Ballroom has become one of downtown Phoenix's most exciting music venues, drawing acclaimed national touring artists and providing a stage for local up-and-comers. Aside from the great food and music, the lounge at Crescent Ballroom is an excellent place to mingle with the downtown crowd.


Map

Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.

×