Nightlife in Tempe


Select Local Merchants

Fat Tuesday has achieved the impossible dream of bringing authentic bayou eats and Mardi Gras libations into the swamp-free lands of Arizona. Sample their transported tastes with snappy appetizers such as the alligator nuggets, shipped fresh from New Orleans before being breaded, fried, and served with a Cajun remoulade ($9.95), or the 10-piece hand-breaded shrimp, slathered in sauces that range from mild to mildly indignant ($7.95). For the main meal, try the Tuesday burger, a half pound of seasoned ground beef cooked to order accompanied by an entourage of tongue-lashing Cajun fries ($6.75). Fat Tuesday's ice-crowned claim to fame is the daiquiri menu, showcasing 25 sweet, potent deliriums. Obliterate boring tipples with a large barrel of Banana Banshee, concocted from creamy banana and coco liquors ($7.75), or challenge mortality with a medium Triple Bypass, in which tasty cherry flavors collide with vodka and grain alcohol ($6.50).
680 S Mill Ave
Tempe,
AZ
US
Restaurateur Julian Wright, who's known for local hotspots Canteen Modern Tequila Bar and La Bocca Urban Pizzeria, has expanded his multicultural culinary empire—this time with an American beer garden. At Handlebar Tempe, he introduces guests to European-style communal dining around elongated counters and tables without shifting focus away from the main draw: a sizeable and largely American craft beer list. The resident beer expert—a self-professed "beer geek"—rotates 24 taps and 24 bottles from state-side and European craft breweries, highlighting local beers from Four Peaks Brewing Co. and Mother Road Brewing. But manning the 60-foot indoor/outdoor bar requires more than just pushing taps and opening bottles. The bartenders also help guests navigate the beer and wine lists while concocting specialty cocktails jazzed up with organic liqueurs and agave nectar. There may not be much by way of food at The Handlebar Tempe, but the dishes they do serve find an easy foothold with both the casual atmosphere and all-important beer list. Locally made sausages dominate the small menu, including tangy sauerkraut and pickled fresno peppers atop juicy bratwurst, southwest smoked turkey, and chicken-and-apple sausages. The eatery's chefs also braid house-made pretzels, cook locally raised burgers, and fry hand-cut fries served with five dipping sauces—including blue cheese bacon and Thai ketchup. Reclaimed barn wood, exposed ceilings, and brick lend the chicness of a loft to the comfortable space. And when the garage doors behind the bar go up, The Handlebar doubles in size, welcoming guests to mingle on the 2,000-square-foot outdoor patio. Amid the dog-friendly patio's lighted trees, fire pits, and park benches, the defining feature from which The Handlebar Tempe gets its name—hooks for hanging bicycles—encircle the space.
680 South Mill Avenue
Tempe,
AZ
US
Four Peaks Brewing Company Before it became a brewery, the space that now houses Four Peaks churned out ice cream. Built in 1892, the brick building began as Pacific Creamery, transformed into Bordens Creamery, and finally traded hands to a band of local beer enthusiasts. A few things haven't changed though––today, guests will still see the same wooden ceilings and glass clerestory,, and while there aren't any cows wandering around, there is a silo. That's where more than 45,000 pounds of two-row malted barley—the base of all Four Peaks’ brews—wait to be milled and infused with specialty malts in different colors and flavors, from black coffee to red candy. Brewers then transfer the milled grains, or “grist”, to a hopper, where a computer weighs and divvies out the appropriate amount for each batch of beer. The meticulous process results in some of Arizona’s favorite beers—at least according to reviews by Frommer’s and Local Eats. Which was exactly what its founders, a crew of beer lovers, wanted to achieve. Some of their award-winning “regular” beers include Arizona Peach—light and fruity, with a subtle peach scent—and Oatmeal Stout, a thick, heavy English-style brew traditionally eaten with a spoon. They also pour seasonal beers along with naturally carbonated cask ales that rotate every Wednesday. And since the kitchen and brewery are next-door neighbors, many dishes––Angus beef burgers, chicken enchiladas––pair seamlessly with the pours, while others––pub fish and chips, Oatmeal Stout-soaked tiramisu––have the brews baked right in.
1340 E 8th St
Tempe,
AZ
US
The first Improv comedy club had virtually nothing to do with comedy. Broadway producer Budd Friedman founded the now legendary franchise in 1963 as an intimate spot where performers could eat, drink coffee, and sing along to piano ditties after their shows. Soon after, the club's first comedian, Dave Astor, tried out some new material on a whim. The stand-up set was a hit and led to the venue's eventual transformation into a full-blown comedy club. New York's hottest comedians would do nearly anything to be featured on the Improv stage; for instance, it's rumored that Lily Tomlin hijacked a parked limousine in order to make a stunning entrance when first meeting Budd. Since 1988, Tempe Improv has lived up to the lofty reputation of its parent club by showcasing comedic heavyweights such as Kevin Nealon, Carlos Mencia, and Pablo Francisco. A diverse calendar draws instantly recognizable comics from the airwaves of the E! channel and Comedy Central, but it also opens up the stage to promising up-and-comers. A menu of bar food and drinks ensures audiences stay fueled and ready to laugh throughout the evening.
930 University Drive
Tempe,
AZ
US
At Mad G’s Grill & Tavern, beer is considered the universal mixer, which is why the chefs pour it into pint glasses, cocktails, and pizza. Traditional drinkers can grab a domestic, craft, or bottled brew from the menu of more than 40 beers—including Deschutes Obsidian stout and The Lost Abbey—and those looking for a modern twist on the classic beverage can turn to the menu’s 12 beer cocktails, which come blended with other beers, liquors, and spices. Mad G’s chefs also pour the hoppy drink into many of the menu’s pub-grub meals, which are served nightly until 2 a.m. Pabst Blue Ribbon makes an appearance in beer-battered appetizers, and Lumberyard IPA simmers around braised mushrooms. Even the crusts of the house pizzas are mixed with Mad G’s house brew, creating a distinctive taste beneath toppings of roasted garlic, marinated artichokes, and house-pulled mozzarella. As patrons appreciate brews in their medium of choice—whether it's in a cocktail glass, a slow-cooked chili, or impressionistically dribbled onto a napkin—they can partake in weekly events including pool tournaments, trivia nights, and fish racing.
19 East Broadway Road
Tempe,
AZ
US
Strung from the ceiling are mason jars transformed into light fixtures, illuminating the wood-paneled walls and spacious dance floor of Moonshine Whiskey Bar & Grill. It’s a fitting touch for the country western bar, whose bartenders also fill mason jars with 39 whiskeys, bourbons, moonshines, and scotches, reports the East Valley Tribune. Within the three-story, 11,000-square-foot establishment, libations flow from four bars, as well as in the kitchen, where head chef Chad Holmes pairs housemade blueberry pancakes with housemade blueberry moonshine syrup. Chad incorporates local ingredients into every item on his from-scratch menu, such as the free-range chicken tenders with bourbon peach BBQ sauce. The kitchen serves up grub into the wee hours of the night, and bartenders stick around an hour after last call to supply patrons with complementary soft drinks and water. The bar itself stays open until 3 a.m. four nights a week, giving patrons plenty of time for line dancing, riding the bar’s mechanical bull Willie, or cheering up William, the bar’s bored rodeo clown.
410 South Mill Avenue
Tempe,
AZ
US