Chain restaurants are fine, since you know exactly what you’re getting every time. But they don’t have something that local dive bars can offer: character.
There’s something special about clocking out, heading somewhere only locals know, and ordering a drink.
Here are seven dive bars in Tucson to check out next time you’re looking to grab a cold one:
538 E. Ninth St.
The Buffet originally opened in 1938 as the Lantern Buffet in the historic Iron Horse neighborhood.
Drop in after work for their “Happy Minute” special, where every day at 6 p.m. it’s two drinks for the price of one, and at 11 p.m. they have a buy one drink, get one for $1 special.
The bar took the No. 1 spot on popular Twitter account Clue Heywood’s unofficial 2022 Arizona dive bar rankings.
The Buffet was also named the best dive bar in the city by Tucson Weekly.
Danny’s Baboquivari Lounge
2910 E. Fort Lowell Road
Take one look at the outside of Danny’s and you’ll get the vibe of a typical watering hole. The inside matches the exterior. The no-frills bar, open since 1975, has wood panel walls, billiards tables, pinball machines, and a patio with a fire pit for the cooler winter evenings.
Keep an eye on their Instagram for a schedule of what food trucks show up outside.
350 N. Fourth Ave.
Che’s Lounge is so dive-y that all links to its former website just bring you to a GoDaddy landing page, prompting you to buy the domain page.
This Tucson dive and music venue has been around since the turn of the millennium.
After you check out the jukebox, give the art on the walls a look—some pieces are for sale, and you can support local artists by buying one.
The Shelter Cocktail Lounge
4155 E. Grant Road
The Shelter was built back in the 1960s, and has the JFK memorabilia to match.
The Clue Heywood Twitter account described it as a “former church that looks like a rec room in 1962, complete with Bobby and Jack Kennedy watching you get absolutely wrecked.”
It also took home Tucson Weekly’s 2022 award for best neighborhood bar.
673 S. Plumer Ave.
If you’re looking for exemplary happy hours, look no further than the Silver Room.
Their happy hour stretches from 4 to 6 p.m., and you’ll typically find domestic beers for $2 and import beers for $3.
If you’re feeling brave, grab the mic and serenade the bar with your rendition of “Get Back” by the Beatles or maybe “Willin’” by Linda Ronstadt—both songs that namedrop Tucson.
Wooden Nickel Tavern
1908 S. Country Club Road
Home of the self-proclaimed best wings in Tucson, the Wooden Nickel Tavern is a great place to stop by for a drink, or hang out on Sundays for brunch while watching the Cardinals.
The bar is surrounded by wood panel walls and has four billiards tables off to the side, with plenty of tables and high-tops for gathering.
Bay Horse Tavern
2802 E. Grant Road
Bay Horse Tavern has all the markings of a local dive: a jukebox, a dartboard, a shuffleboard, a patio, and plenty of beer.
Keep an eye on their Facebook page for trivia nights, upcoming drink deals, and other local happenings.
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