6 P.M. – The Clarendon Hotel
Touch down in Phoenix and feel the heat immediately. The sun here is serious and basking in it is a local religion, so you’d best start worshipping now. Check into the Clarendon Hotel and hit the Skydeck, a rooftop paradise that offers not just the chance to recharge before taking off but also panoramic views of the Sonoran Desert. And if things get high and dry, head down to the Oasis pool that features a mirage of a light installation at its bottom, mimicking the night sky after dark.
9 P.M. – The Mission Tequila Bar
Having rested at the sun’s altar as it sets in the west, head east for Scottsdale and The Mission, a Latin cantina with a list of premium and small-batch tequila to match, natch. Sample it liberally to cleanse your palate of the menu standout: citrusy, savory pork shoulder tacos served tender as the night. And for the more tender members of your party, the smooth, cooling and adventurous Aguacate Margarita featuring, si, avocado in the starring role. Inspired.
Midnight – Wild Knight
Enter the home of some of the city’s best DJs in residency. Wild Knight runs on the exclusive side, preferring to cull the pack that lines up so only the sharpest make it through the gates. After-party performances by EDM royalty like Skrillex have only served to raise the profile of its clientele. The club is big and dark, and the law of the land dictates that what happens on the inside, well… you’d have to be in the thick of it to know. We say enter and enjoy. Within reason. (Photo courtesy of Wild Knight.)
2 A.M. – Firehouse
Located in a former fire station, Firehouse after hours is like a secret coed clubhouse for late-night games, and how that plays out is subject to your own interpretation of the rules. But this being the former Wild West, you wouldn’t be wrong in suspecting there aren’t any. Just know this place attracts a casual crowd that is nonetheless among Phoenix’s hottest, and that’s saying something. The hydrant shuts off around two A.M., but you’d be remiss not to grab a few while they run cheap.
7 A.M. – Carolina’s
There are legends imagined and legends earned. Your night in a city named after one of the former can still become something closer to the latter by ending it in the presence of a living, breathing one: Carolina Valenzuela. Serving up the freshest possible border-style Mexican food since 1968, Carolina’s is more than just a Phoenix institution, it’s an experience bordering on the religious, and a missed opportunity surpasses blasphemy. You’ll want to eat everything on the menu, but you’ll thank us for suggesting the nourishing breakfast burro so you can replenish before ending where you started, overlooking Phoenix from the Clarendon Hotel. (Photo courtesy of Adrien Bruneteau on Flickr.)