The Best Dive Bars In Tuscon, Arizona

| © Shedrick Mask/Flickr
Catrina Pang

Whether you’re looking for a casual night out with friends or a crazy unforgettable experience, you won’t be disappointed by Tucson’s dive bars. A city filled with college students and longtime residents who appreciate a good cheap drink, Tucson sets the bar high when it comes to the neighborhood dive. Below, we guide you through some of the best dive bars this exciting Arizona city has to offer.

1. The Meet Rack

Bar, American, Pub Grub, Wine, Beer, Cocktails

A must see for anyone who visits or lives in Tucson, The Meet Rack is unlike any other bar you’ll find. From the art and pictures to the cool patio to the urinal targets to the ‘sex room,’ this in one place you’ll never forget. The unassuming bar layered in bright yellow paint is unmissable thanks to the owner’s unique car out front with an image of his face plastered on its hood. Upon arriving, guests will see an assortment of ladies’ undergarments hanging from the ceiling, a giant oak bar, and drinks served in mini pitchers. They can order a dirty-sounding cocktail or a beer, then ask to see ‘God’ (the owner, Jim Anderson, though he legally changed his name to God) so that he can take them on a tour of the place, filling everyone in on all of the sordid details around the bar and maybe even throwing in a free keychain. Besides the famous tour, people also love to hang out and play pool, chat with the staff, and eat tasty burgers with cheap drinks. The staff will be happy to show you photo albums full of pictures of people who’ve branded themselves with a profile of ‘God’s’ face in order to receive free drinks for life. Definitely not a place for the modest, The Meet Rack is a truly unique experience that fun-loving folks with a sense of humor and an open mind won’t want to miss.

2. The Buffet

Bar, American, Pub Grub, Wine, Beer, Cocktails

Established in 1934 after the repeal of Prohibition, The Buffet is known as Tucson’s oldest bar. Still in its original location in the historic Iron Horse neighborhood, the bar is a convenient spot for anyone coming from the University of Arizona or Downtown Tucson. It’s become a cult favorite over the years, with all the hallmarks of a serious dive bar spot: a wide variety of regulars, a great jukebox, a pool table, shuffleboard, sketchy bathrooms, graffiti on the walls, friendly bartenders, cash only, and greasy food choices. The bar is a favorite stop for graduates to come and get a 6am cocktail or two before graduation, and it’s widely considered to be a Tucson staple. Patrons love the cheap prices on all the drinks, the great hot dogs, and the heavy pours, as well as the ‘Happy Minute’ at 6pm, when the bartender passes out coupons for a free drink and you can get one more of whatever you were drinking. Locals especially love the the bar is next door to a laundromat, so they can stop by for a drink while doing laundry.

3. Che’s Lounge

Bar, American, Pub Grub, Wine, Beer, Cocktails

For over 14 years, Che’s Lounge has brought quality cheap drinks, great art, and a fantastic jukebox to the Tucson area in a classic dive bar setting, never charging a cover. The bar hosts frequent artist showcases and events, helping connect the bustling Tucson music community with the area’s audiences. Even when there aren’t any bands playing, people still have a great time listening to songs from the jukebox and playing pinball and other arcade games. There is even a neat sticker dispense with designs from local artists, as well as cool artwork everywhere you look. The ambience is divey, and there are usually hipsters as far as the eye can see, but both the staff and patrons are usually friendly and down to earth. The drink prices are truly exceptional, with great deals on PBR cans, Sierra Nevada pints, and well drinks, in addition to fantastic daily specials. They also make some of the most tasty seasonal cocktails, including fresh watermelon margaritas, muddled mixed berry collins, and blueberry kamikazes. On weekends, it tends to get pretty crowded, but there is a comfy and spacious outdoor patio people can hang out in where there are more tables.

4. Rusty Nail Tavern

Bar, Pub Grub, American, Beer, Wine, Cocktails

If you’re looking for that local bar that will make you feel like a character on ‘Cheers,’ Rusty Nail Tavern is the place to be in Tucson. Always filled with neighborhood regulars, the bar is a favorite thanks to its great prices, friendly bartenders, and cozy atmosphere. When you walk in, the door gives a good thud behind you as the bell at the top jingles, and you’ll see a wall of rarely used booths and a U-shaped bar in the middle of the place. There’s an outdoor patio at one end, as well as two dart boards and two pool tables in the dark interior of this dive. When business is slow, bartenders will often take breaks to play darts with the customers. The bar also has a great TV set up and good beers on tap, making it a popular spot for watching football games on Sundays. In addition, patrons love that you can order food from the taco truck, El Nene, that’s parked outside, and they will bring your order in to you. Rusty Nail Tavern is the kind of place neighborhood folks go to hang out with friends and chat for hours without worrying about fights breaking out or hipsters making you feel uncomfortable. The place is simple and upbeat, with a crockpot in the corner filled with hot dogs and non-well alcohol with the prices written on the bottle.

5. Golden Nugget Tavern

Bar, American, Pub Grub, Beer, Wine, Cocktails

Opened in 1965, Golden Nugget Tavern is a cozy neighborhood bar with friendly bartenders and regular patrons who like to strike up conversations with newcomers. The bar is home to several TVs, four pool tables, a great touch screen jukebox, shuffleboard, video games and pinball, karaoke on Wednesdays and Sundays, and a scratchers machine. It has a large selection of premium liquor, draft beers, and domestic and imported beers, and even carries a nice Chardonnay and a tasty Merlot. All the drinks they serve are strong and at lower than average prices, and people like that the place is cleaner than most of the other dives in the area. It also tends not to get as crowded as many of the other dive bars, so it’s a great place for people who just want to kick back and have fun with friends while playing games or singing karaoke. High-backed wooden booths with decorations resembling stained glass give the place a comfy local feel, and everyone from old longtime Tucson residents to young college students enjoy their time at the bar.

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