READERS' PICK: Admit it. Sometimes you wanna go where only really affluent, beautiful, Downtown-hip people know your name. The bar at Barrio is the place to go. Located inside the hip-for-good-reason Barrio restaurant, just south of Broadway in the heart of the Downtown arts and nightclub district, Barrio's bar is about as close as one can get to big-city cool. The decor is Mediterranean minimalist, the staff is Upper East Side easygoing chic, and the resulting atmosphere is sure to impress the most jaded date or client. Stockbrokers, lawyers, artists and musicians line the bar most nights and sip their martinis (Beefeater, very dry, up, with an olive and a twist) or Manhattans (V.O., rocks, cherry and a twist) while stealing glances at the little televisions or the beautiful people. If a well executed cocktail isn't enough to entice you, the food surely will. Barrio serves a full dinner menu as well as "Little Plates," which make perfect upscale bar food. Some stars among these "Little Plates" include an Anaheim chile stuffed with black beans, garlic, and goat cheese in a pepper cream sauce, and a spinach and tomato laden bruschetta. Amazing cocktails, delicious food, and incredible people-watching opportunities make Barrio a great bar to hit when you are looking and feeling so right.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: J Bar, 3770 E. Sunrise Drive. It isn't exactly fair to call J Bar a bar, since it's primarily a restaurant capturing the casual side of super-chef Janos Wilder's eponymous five-star restaurant. But as a bar, J Bar certainly has ambiance to spare, and appetizers presented more like art than food. An airy and open interior space is walled by windows that capture the changing light and desert views of its foothills location. Then there's the patio, which wraps around the exterior to bring you even closer to the sunset. Our favorite memory is sipping a chilled Metropolitan from an elegant martini glass, and watching a patented Arizona sunset turn into twilight, leaving us in a gentle darkness illuminated only by candlelight. Perfect.
LOOSE CHANGE: Arizona Inn, 2200 E. Elm St. In the heart of the city, built in 1930, this hotel, restaurant and bar has the kind of class that is so much more that just ritzy. Watch an evening monsoon roll in from the tables outside the bar, while looking out over the 14 acres of gardens and historic buildings. A good place to give visitors a feel for a part of Tucson that didn't sprout up yesterday, or to go with someone for an intimate conversation.
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