The Top Bar of Tempe: When Cultures Clash Who Emerges the Winner?
A school like Arizona State University has something that appeals to everyone. The University has a reputation as a “party school” but the student life consists of innovative and rigorous academic programs. When students want to shut the books and go out, the surrounding nightlife has to cater to all types, since not all students like the same things or have similar interests. Some students enjoy loud nightclubs while others prefer a dive bar with a good patio. To accommodate these distinctive tastes there are two high quality but very different nightlife locales for students looking to unwind.
Tempe’s Mill Avenue is notorious for it’s nightlife. Dotting the street between University Dr. and Rio Salado Parkway are a dozen bars each offering it’s own unique vibes and atmosphere. It’s known for its carnival-like weekends, when the ASU students discard the books they’ve been absorbed in all week and break free. It’s Tempe’s own “turn-up” capital, located just adjacent to the main campus. Scoping out the bars along the street, it’s not hard to see where the center of the energy is: on the corner of sixth street stands unofficial king of the night clubs, El Hefe Supermacho Taqueria.
On an average weekend night there’s a line over an hour long of people waiting eagerly under the neon glow of El Hefe’s logo: the glowing skull with a gold tooth. Music from the DJ emanates onto the street and inside is dense with bodies while lights strobe and confetti is launched out of cannons. The bar staff (usually girls) party on top of the bar and deliver shots
straight out of the bottle into the mouths of eager partiers. Most of the surfaces inside, including tables which are sold out to bottle service and the panelling, are allowed to be stood on.All the while, the DJ plays an eclectic amount of popular club hits while students shake it on the dance floor.
On the same night, not even half a mile away on Ash Avenue is the gem of the Tempe neighborhood scene, Casey Moore’s Oyster House. You can tell the difference instantly. As you leave the loud bustling atmosphere and sidewalks of Mill and walk toward Casey’s the hum of the night returns. That is, you’re out of the sensory overload of the flashing lights and thumping music and back where you have space to think.
Walking into Casey’s you can tell that this is where the students come who enjoy the raw and real over the surreal. A converted historic house in Tempe’s Maple-Ash neighborhood, the outside is a modest wooden wall that hides the large patio inside. Housing two bars and full restaurant service, Casey’s combines an indoor traditional pub atmosphere with patio reminiscent of a South American cafe. The koi pond with a statue of a catholic saint is a distinctive addition.
At the tables of Casey’s are a crowd of a completely different kind. These are the students who seem to have a little bit harder time discarding the books when they go out and catching a discussion on philosophy or literature among the patio isn’t out of the ordinary. The bar is also one of the few places in the area (and depending on who you ask, the best) to score fresh seafood. As the name gives away, they are known for the oysters. The oysters at Casey’s are a must, but if seafood is not your thing, they also provide classic bar fare like sandwiches and fries.
So, you’re a student at ASU and want to grab a drink, where do you go? If you’re looking for grade-A tacos made from scratch it’s hard to beat El Hefe, just be careful when you go- if it’s a weekend be ready for the packed party inside. Traditional bar food more your prime? Casey’s is the winner here as they offer a wide selection of cuisine. What about the drinks? If you’ve got the means to, there’s no place like El Hefe to get bottle service in Tempe. If you’re just stopping by for a relaxing beer, Casey’s got a wide selection of rotating drafts for a killer price. Atmosphere? Again, El Hefe tends to be a bit more high-key. If you’re trying to dance Hefe is definitely your choice. If you’re trying to have a conversation you may want to opt for Casey’s as the environment there is at the same time intellectual, rowdy and romantic.
Both establishments provide five-star experiences with a combination of their environment, the drinks, the food and above all else their dedication to providing something unique. The vibes and atmosphere of each bar are vastly different than the other. Which one is the best fit for you?
Written By: Logan Saether
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