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Best Bar Food (Entrees)
Best Bar For A First Date
Best Bar For Live Entertainment
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Best Bar Food (Entrees)

Famous Sam's
12 Locations

READERS PICK: We know a guy who swears that he goes to a local strip joint strictly for the lunchtime cheeseburger special. Of course, his name is Leslie, so he's had a hard life. On the other hand, we know lots and lots of people who go to Famous Sam's for the food. The place has great burgers, chicken, sandwiches, and mildly spicy French fries that are simply to die for. Of course, Sam's doesn't offer quite the "entertainment" side-dish that Leslie gets; but after seeing some of those NFL cheerleaders on the big screens at Sam's, you're probably glad they keep on what little they're wearing.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP--TIE: Frog & Firkin, 874 E. University Blvd., has that college-town camaraderie feel: You're right out there, with a bird's-eye view of the traffic to and from the Main Gate, and everyone around you is drinking beer. Good beer. What you want to go with it is bar food. Not dinner; just food to get you home to dinner. Maybe it'll end up being dinner, who knows. The best thing here--and you listen up now--are the Skins. Red Skins, Green Skins and Yellow Skins. Red is marinara sauce, mozzarella and black olives baked on potato skins. Green is fresh tomatoes, artichoke hearts, pesto and brie. Yellow is chicken on potato, real simple. Really, really good and a lot of them. Also popular: an artichoke heart and herbed pesto spread served with sourdough baguette. FYI: A firkin is not something obscene/unseen worn by aforementioned frog. A firkin is an English term for a three-quarter keg of beer.

No one can really remember, but TGI Friday's (4901 E. Broadway Blvd.) may have been the place that popularized the fried potato skin. At least, that's the way we remember it. Tucsonans may remain recalcitrant toward Californian expatriates, but they love this one-time California restaurant chain, whose striped awning on busy East Broadway has lured in many a passing commuter for a hearty sandwich or bowl of clam chowder. Friday's menu is geared toward family dining, with a full array of grilled, fried, baked and "heart smart" options from which to choose. The perfect foundation for their fancy cocktails and mocktails.

CLUE IN: Third Stone Bar & Grill, 500 N. Fourth Ave., offers a refreshing departure from standard bar-food fare. There's nary a breaded item in this joint. Instead, choose from bruschetta, hummus dip with raw veggies, mild chili peppers, black-bean chili, or wedge-cut, seasoned fries. Try the grilled chicken tacos with shredded cabbage and all the other fixins in a lightly toasted flour tortilla. In addition to these appetizers, Third Stone also features a decent variety of salads, sandwiches and burgers for your bar-munching enjoyment.

CLUE IN: You are frazzled, over-stimulated, and hungry. Sometimes you wanna go where not just anybody knows your name. Drive to Kingfisher Bar and Grill, 2564 E. Grant Road, and head straight to the bar. As you pull open the heavy front door your nerves begin to settle. The lovely teal walls and a huge vase of fresh flowers in the foyer calm you. Your eyes quickly adjust to the slightly darkened bar area (this is not the Bat Cave that so many bars try to be). The bartenders are courteous and professional and soothing. Now your cocktail is in front of you, and you're ready to settle down to after-hours business: The late-night menu/bar menu is about to become your best friend. Kingfisher offers this menu at all times. You may also order from the regular restaurant menu until 10 p.m. But the slightly scaled-down bar menu is a star in its own right, featuring fish and chips, burgers, BBQ ribs, shell pasta, Caesar salad, grilled and chilled shrimp, mussels and shrimp cakes, as well as several other offerings. Kingfisher uses fine, fresh ingredients, expertly seasoned and prepared. Not only will you emerge a new person, you'll think about the lovely experience for days to come. Not bad for someone who began the evening frazzled, over-stimulated and hungry, ay?

Case History

1997 Winner: Bob Dobbs'
1996 Winner: Bob Dobbs'

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