Voted the Best Local Performing Arts Troupe by readers of the East Valley Tribune in 2011, National Comedy Theatre’s ensemble of players concocts improvised situations at lightning-fast speeds, relying on audience participation and their own wits to elicit thunderous laughter and applause. After turning to their all-ages crowd for assistance in shaping games and scenarios, the cast employs knowledge gleaned from operating-room sketches to tickle ribs with anatomical exactitude. The show often favors spontaneity over prudence, with performers gleefully stepping into their roles as acrophobic skydiving champions or long-winded court stenographers. Audience members get to select the winning team at the conclusion of the show, and can learn the form themselves during improv classes.
The scene inside White Cloud Hookah is both intimate and party-like. Throughout the modern space, groups sit around double-nozzled hookahs and pass hoses to puff on one of the 120 flavors of aromatic tobacco. They can take pulls on tobacco varieties from brands such as Al Fakheer, Starbuzz, and Fantasia, and can even blend flavors to create their own flavor creations. Big screen TVs flash as music fills the space with party beats and dim lightening gives the space a chill, nightlife atmosphere.
d'vine's wine club boasts a globe-spanning array of rare and celebrated fermented fruit nectar, giving new and seasoned oenophiles a heady taste of the world of wine and fine dining. In addition to free weekly wine tastings each Wednesday, club members score their choice of two bottles of wine every month from a rotating selection of two reds and one white, ensuring easy removal of accidental grape stains. The two bottles must be consumed at D'Vine, though any club member ambitious enough to want a third or more receives an additional 10% off their decadently Dionysian purchase. The wine bar's unpretentious staff fills members' minds with tantalizing wine facts and fills goblets with vintages that may include 2009 Isabel Mondavi I'M chardonnay or 2008 Rock & Vine cabernet sauvignon. Drinkers transform into diners when they activate members' 10% discount on meals from d'vine's vino-friendly menu of tapas, salads, grilled pizzas, and rotating specials.
Imagined and founded by country singer-songwriter Toby Keith, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill combines Southern-style eats with mason jars full of beer, plus daisy-duke-clad waitresses pouring top-shelf whiskeys. This all takes place beneath complex light and sound systems for the restaurant's full-on concert stage. The staff keeps the calendar stocked with events, hosting sports nights, poker tournaments, karaoke, and live bands such as Due West and Colt Ford. Performers croon, their guitars twang, and the lights dim to shades of purple, blue, and red—colors scientifically proven to make mediocre dancers look like Russian ballet stars.
When both the plasma-screen TVs and stage lie dormant, the entertainment continues aboard the bar's mechanical bull, appropriately dubbed “Toby.” Even ordering a drink comes with the thrill of sidling up to the 85-foot, guitar-shaped bar, originally intended to be strummed by a giant robot Elvis.
Stone-tiled floors lead guests into Conti’s Bar and Grill, where four 120-inch high-definition projection TVs glow with power drawn from the tiny sportsmen running in circles inside them. Sunlight streams in through slotted window shades, illuminating exposed-brick columns and warm wood paneling. Guests can snuggle into booths as they munch on burgers, salmon, or full racks of ribs. Eight beers on tap wash down bites of confetti nachos or wistful licks of chocolate cake.
The Phoenix New Times pick for Best Rock Club in 2010 and 2011, this live-music venue draws crowds that huddle around indoor and outdoor stages to groove and wail every night of the week. Concerts and festivals stage local bands, indie rockers, and national acts playing genres ranging from bluegrass and reggae to jam music and rock 'n' roll. Amid the big-name acts, the house upholds beloved traditions; Grateful Dead fanatics and people with tie-dyed flesh emerge to party on Sunday nights, and each Thursday, burgeoning starlets perform karaoke with the support of a full live band. Beside the outdoor stage, a spacious patio facilitates mingling under the sky's star-freckled firmament. At the indoor bar, barkeeps fill glasses with mixed drinks and brews while colorful lights flash against walls. Black leather couches and huge art canvases line the lounge area, and a dance floor carved before the stage affords up-close views of the passport stamps canvassing rock star's wrists. AZCentral noted: "Not far from Mill Avenue, the Sail Inn offers a whole different scene, with a cool vibe and laid-back people."