Phoenix After Dark: Music, Dragons, and Horchata Cocktails
Phoenix nightlife is hot no matter what you’re into, and that’s not just a figure of speech. After dark, you might literally stumble onto a fire-breathing dragon. Or you might experience another kind of sizzle, be it in your food or while smoking on a bar’s fire escape. Want in on this action? Our itinerary for a night out in Phoenix runs from sunset to closing time, and we promise the dragon won’t eat you.
Evening Entertainment: Iconic Architecture with a Side of Dragon
Taliesin West | 12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale
Legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright built Taliesin West as his winter home, and on the Night Lights tour of the premises, visitors see it at its most romantic. Lit from within, it looks more like a glowing boat sculpture than a place where anyone ever ate dinner—and that’s by design. Wright wanted the structure to look surreal, like a ship sailing on the desert. An added touch of magic? There’s a dragon sculpture in the garden that, while placid by day, breathes real fire at night.
Dinnertime: Braised Artichokes, Braised Chicken Thighs
Rancho Pinot | 6208 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale
If Arizona had a flavor, it would likely be sand. But Rancho Pinot proves otherwise with its elegant, locally sourced dishes. Helmed by Chef Chrysa Robertson, the team here has been crafting plates from fresh area produce—like braised Arizona artichokes—for more than two decades. One of their most beloved dishes, also one of their most time-tested, is Nonni’s Sunday Chicken: tender chicken thighs braised in white wine and served with crispy polenta. Even better? It’s served every day, not just on Sundays.
After Dinner: Free Music and Almost-Free Bean Dip
Crescent Ballroom | 308 N. 2nd Ave.
If you’ve ever been strapped for things to do in Phoenix, this concert venue might sound like a fever dream. Not only does it have plenty of space (capacity is 550), but the shows are always free—a rare gem for downtown Phoenix nightlife. Drinks and food from the onsite restaurant are all that will require an appearance by your wallet. Make the most of your time here with a draft beer and an order of cheesy bean dip while while vibing to the eclectic, expertly curated shows. In one week, artists might include a group with Latin beats, a singer-songwriter showcase, and a Friday-night ‘90s hip-hop and R&B show.
The Home Stretch: An Horchata Nightcap
SideBar | 1514 N. 7th Ave.
You’ll find this small, chic bar tucked away above a casual chain eatery. It only fits about 30 people, and the fire escape, where smokers retreat for cigarettes, fits only a few bodies on a good day. But all that intimacy breeds camaraderie, and so do the tasty cocktails. The bartenders squeeze fresh fruit juice for their drinks every day, though the crowds also love their other creations—like the White Rabbit’s horchata and white-chocolate liqueur—just as much.
Mae Rice is a staff writer who writes about eyelash extensions, French food, what "business casual" even means, and other style and food topics.