When you think of the bar scene in greater Phoenix, visions of dusty cowboy saloons or flashy country bars lined up in Old Town likely come to mind. But the urban desert city also specializes in another kind of watering hole – speakeasies. Here are five clandestine bars that are worth dropping by the next time you’re in the mood for doing something different.
1. Valley Bar
When Valley Bar came to Phoenix in 2015, it was an instant success – probably because it was so different from any other bar in the city. Like true speakeasies, it isn’t the easiest to find (the entrance is in a back alley between First and Central Streets) and it’s located fully underground. In addition to a cocktail menu that includes drinks named after famous Arizona politicians, Valley Bar boasts a large selection of beer and a full food menu. Entertain yourself with billiards, darts, and board games, or enjoy the live music and entertainment that’s provided nightly.
2. Melinda’s Alley
Located not too far from Valley Bar is Melinda’s Alley, which is also an underground speakeasy. This one’s outfitted with Victorian décor and lit with glowing, red lights. It really embraces the speakeasy vibe, as there’s no website and not even an official address you can plug into Google maps. But finding it is half the fun – and your reward is a brilliantly mixed cocktail and the satisfaction of completing the hunt. (For a little help: Start on Central Avenue between Monroe and Adams and start asking around.)
Post-sunset Scottsdale is known for being a party scene, but if you’re looking for more of a laid-back atmosphere with live entertainment, wander into Kazimierz. Though bartenders are at your service for both beer and spirits, this speakeasy is known for its wine selection. In fact, it proudly boasts more than 2000 options, which go perfectly with its small plates. Kazimierz – referred to by the locals as “KazBar” – is easier to find than the first two on our list, though its unassuming facade could throw you off the first time you visit.
4. The Ostrich
If you find yourself in the southeast valley, specifically Chandler, budget in some time to hit The Ostrich. This nondescript speakeasy is located underneath Crust Pizza, so consider doing dinner first and then having your waiter show you the way. The Ostrich is located in what it calls a “forgotten basement” that once served as an ostrich feather storage facility during the flapper era. It’s since been reinvented as a trendy cocktail lounge complete with historic furniture, dim lighting, and a bevy of handcrafted cocktails to choose from.
5. The Little Woody
Anyone craving a dive bar scene ought to head to The Little Woody, a newish speakeasy located in central Phoenix’s Arcadia district. This one probably gets its name from the wood-lined interiors, which make it feel like you’re hanging out inside a cabin. While sipping on an expertly made cocktail (try the Night Owl or Gun Shy Sour), partake in a round or two of Skee-ball, darts, or foosball. The Little Woody is located near the corner of Indian School and 42nd Place and you’ll know you’ve found it when you see the glowing red light and wooden owl perched above the door.
Once you’ve experienced the best of Phoenix’s speakeasies, bed down at a Hilton.