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Things to do in Tucson : best dive bars

the buffet Tucson dive bar

5 great Tucson bars that offer a fun and unique night out on the town

Looking to have an interesting night out in Tucson? These 5 neighborhood night spots each offer a fun filled, and exciting evening excursion. a perfect way to wind down after hiking up Tumamoc hill, or in the evening after going to the Tucson gem show. I have selected these based on their own uniqueness, but also, for their contrast to each other. Each one has it’s own stand alone style, and offer a different mood. however, each space is welcoming and inclusive; and you could visit just one, or collect them all. BTW, these are not sports bars, so no distracting televisions!

buffet bar tucson dive bar

the owls club

The owls club is probably the hippest and newest spot on the list, and the least likely to be considered a dive bar. Housed in a former mortuary. when inside, it is dim and candle lit, with a mission-style timber and plaster cottage aesthetic. It delivers a cozy but hip vibe. craft cocktails are the mainstay here, with a crazy selection of whiskeys. And although the inside is dark, warm and inviting, i usually head out to the huge parking lot sized outdoor area. How do i know its parking lot sized?

Up until a year ago, it was the parking lot for the now defunct mortuary. However, they have given it a new life. It is now filled with pea gravel, and offers a few rings for nightly bonfires. There are several old whiskey barrels to gather around. When the bonfires are lit, it’s vaguely reminiscent of the beach parties from the 80s movie ‘the lost boys‘, unfortunately minus the shirtless beefcake saxophone player. Instead they occasionally have live bands set up. Sometimes a wood -fired pizza pop-up appears on the weekend. It’s just a great set up inside and out. Plus, the bartenders know a thing or two about serving up fancy drinks as well! get directions here.

St Charles tavern

Located a bit further out than the rest, the St. Charles tavern is probably the most eclectic. Reflecting the truest sense of Tucson’s diversity. It contains elements of the four other bars on the list. Its a true juke joint, featuring a couple of pool tables, pinball, and an amazing selection of bourbons and tequilas. It’s neither too low brow to serve a budweiser, nor is it too high brow to serve a necromancer or other fancy cocktails.

This is another space with a great outdoor patio seating area with stage for occasional local bands. The crowd here is primarily gen x, with a handful of millennials and a couple boomers tossed in for good measure. its an unpretentious and a fun gathering spot, if you’re with a few friends, or if you just happen to be out by yourself. get directions here.

Che’s lounge

Situated on lively 4th avenue, this spot is not too old, but also not a youngster. this bar has cheap drinks, and the crowd is usually pretty good. This place is vibrant and welcoming, decorated well, and has pretty speedy service! by comparison, its probably the most neutral option of all five of the bars. but is always a good destination. it’s a little artsy and rock n roll, with changing local artwork and frequent live music. bands set up and perform on the stage in the back open air patio. Che’s lounge is always lively and fun, and its just a couple blocks from both the Buffet and the Surley wench. get directions here.

che’s lounge

Surly wench pub

Also on 4th ave just a couple blocks away from Che’s lounge, is the Surly wench pub. The surly wench pub is a haven for Tucson’s goths, new wavers, punk rockers and even metal heads. despite that, It’s still a very mixed crowd. Events here include several themed dance nights a month, that revolve between 80s industrial and new wave, to occasional drag shows. It’s also quite spacious and welcoming to anyone. Besides being Halloween everyday here, there’s a lot going on with this space. There’s nice horseshoe booths to relax into, pinball machines, a stage, dance floor, a pool table, large outdoor patio, a bar food menu, and whole annex with another bar for busy nights and special events. So, if you miss the 80s or early 90s, this spot should be on the top your list. get directions here.

the buffet

The Buffet is the oldest operating bar in Tucson, plus the most dive-tastic bar on the list. This place can get a little crazy at times with a random mix of locals, service industry folks and people that come from all the other places as a last stop. But don’t let that stop you from starting the night out here either. There’s a good happy hour vibe earlier on in the day. It’s not just the cheap drinks and original old neon sign that make this place a dive. there’s kooky regulars, layers of of unintelligible graffiti on the walls that compliment the random dive bar decorations. Dark, dingy and fun, the buffet delivers the purest dive bar experience around. get directions here.

the buffet tucsons oldest dive bar
abandon hope, all ye that enter

1 thought on “Things to do in Tucson : best dive bars

  1. Great suggestions. All great places to stop in for a drink for different reasons.

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