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10 nightlife spots you should visit in Tucson



The Tucson nightlife scene is a diverse array of hipster hot spots, college hang-outs and dive bar glory. Whether it's your aim to dress up or dress down, see or be seen, rest assured that the Old Pueblo offers something for every mood.

For a night of great hipster people-watching around downtown, head to the venerable Club Congress, where the music is always loud and the Tap Room is (almost) always open.

For one of the best people-watching spots in downtown, try Playground Bar and Lounge, a stylish spot serving cocktails and gourmet bar grub. Catch a show at the Rialto Theatre, and then stroll over to Fourth Avenue for a nightcap.

For urban cowboys of all stripes, enjoy a rollicking night of beer and two-stepping at the Maverick, "King of Clubs," the east side's venerable country-western nightlife club. This eastside bar and club has been keeping the heart and soul of country music burning strong in the Old Pueblo for more than 50 years. 

If craft brews on tap are your thing, head to Tap & Bottle, a central Tucson magnet for beer connoisseurs. Come for the delicious array of high-quality local, regional and international beers, and stay for the gourmet food trucks that regularly make an appearance at this beloved watering hole. 


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Ermanos Craft Beer and Wine Bar is located in the heart of Tucson's busy Fourth Avenue shopping and restaurant district. The bar specializes in local and regional craft brews, with several Tucson, Arizona and Western breweries well represented on tap, including popular breweries like Dragoon, Barrio Brewery, and Sonoran Brewing Company. The bar also has an expansive and thoughtful wine list. In addition, Ermanos features a menu of gourmet gastropub dishes, including burgers, salads and shareable small plates. The bar hosts live music nights and has a private tasting room that can be reserved for special events.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Ermanos is a stylish craft beer and wine bar located in a lively and historic Fourth Avenue building.

Patricia's expert tip: Happy hour happens every day and happens from open until 6 p.m. Enjoy $6 glasses of wine until 6 p.m.

Read more about Ermanos Craft Beer and Wine Bar →


Maverick, King of Clubs


Country and Western music is extremely popular in Tucson, and this honky-tonk is a classic example of where locals meet up for conversation, drinks, and a few spins on the dance floor. The simple, country-style interior is always full of regulars in their best Western gear. Live music sometimes featured. Great drink specials and a friendly, laid-back vibe. This is a great destination if you've ever wanted to learn how to two-step like an authentic Tucson cowboy. The dance floor is packed on the weekends, and the venue regularly hosts dance lessons. The kitchen opens at 5 pm daily, so it makes a good dinner spot too.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: In operation since 1962, Maverick is Tucson's premier country night club, featuring live music, dancing and drink specials nightly.

Patricia's expert tip: The Maverick regularly hosts line dancing classes. Call the club for the latest class offerings.

Read more about Maverick, King of Clubs →


Tap & Bottle


Tap & Bottle is a beer lover's paradise. The intimate taproom at this beloved Tucson bar is home to one of the city's best-curated selections of craft brews. Tap & Bottle celebrates home-grown Southern Arizona beer, as well as many of the best regional and international brews currently being made. The brewpub atmosphere is lively and friendly, making this a great place to rub elbows with locals and fellow beer connoisseurs. Tap & Bottle even hosts their own monthly curated "Beer Club" dedicated to pleasing the palate of even the most ardent beer snob. There's no food menu at the bar, but the city's best food trucks regularly feed the hungry masses at Tap & Bottle.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: If you're discriminating about your beer, don't miss Tap & Bottle, one of Tucson's best bars for lovers of craft brews.

Patricia's expert tip: The downtown location of Tap & Bottle is a hotbed of food truck action (check out the Tap & Bottle website for a list of the latest food truck offerings).

Read more about Tap & Bottle →


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Scott & Co.


Established in 2010, Scott & Co was founded by the same folks that brought 47 Scott to Tucson, downtown's popular destination for modern American comfort food in an intimate bistro-style space. Scott & Co. is an intimate speakeasy style bar with a seasonal menu of hand-crafted cocktails. Head bartender Ciaran Wiese and the team of mixologists at Scott & Co. display a genuine passion for developing new and delicious infusions. Although the atmosphere at Scott & Co. is great, this is the kind of place you go to for truly exceptional mixed drinks. You won't be disappointed by house-crafted creations like The Lionheart, made with Blanco tequila, green chartreuse, bitter orange amber, rich allspice dram, and agave nectar.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Speakeasy-chic sums up the charm behind this intimate downtown Tucson bar, which is known for its unique and refreshing hand-crafted cocktail menu.

Patricia's expert tip: Can't decide what to order? Ask for the bartender's choice, a unique mixed drink based on your preferences.

Read more about Scott & Co. →


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Northeast
The Shelter


A lot of folks will tell you that this bar used to be a fallout shelter, but the truth is it was actually built as a bar back in 1961. The round, windowless structure is packed to the rafters with 60s era kitsch, from JFK memorabilia to black velvet paintings and groovy lamps. The retro vibe is augmented with a continual showing of 60s B movies and plenty of period music, occasionally provided by DJs fond of deep cuts and rare grooves. Bartenders mix up all the retro cocktails you can handle, but don't fret if your personal favorite is something invented last year, they can make those too. And if you're in the market for some new bad jokes to share with your friends, a visit to the restrooms here should be high on your list of things to do.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: The Shelter Cocktail Lounge brings the charm and kitsch of a vintage bar to Tucson, complete with pinball machines and black velvet paintings.

Patricia's expert tip: Happy hour specials are available every day from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Read more about The Shelter →


Sky Bar Tucson


"Cafe by day, solar-powered astronomy bar by night." That's the Sky Bar, in a nutshell. This unique Tucson cafe and bar is 100 percent solar-powered and is outfitted with powerful telescopes so you can observe the cosmos after dark. The bar regularly hosts open mic nights and live music. Plus, there are even DSLR photography nights where you can bring a camera and snap amazing pictures of the night skies. At midnight, there is a special 15-minute happy hour where you can order $1 well drinks seven nights a week. Every Wednesday there is a popular open mic night, where local and traveling musicians come together for music under the stars.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: This astronomy-themed bar features telescopes, astronomy lectures, and a fun, completely unique and irreverent take on the typical bar experience.

Patricia's expert tip: Swing by on a Monday night for the popular "Skyraoke" karaoke night, featuring a 24,000 song library with lyrics projected on three big screens.

Read more about Sky Bar Tucson →


4
North Tucson


Looking for a place to hang other than a simple bar or club? Okay, The Loft Cinema is kind of a bar. You can sip wine and beer on its patio. But it's also a movie theater. Main events range from showings of cult classics like Rosemary's Baby to almost any other thing you'd expect from an independent theater, including indie, foreign, alternative and classic narrative films and documentaries. And here's where the Loft's bar part really merges with its movie theater part: You can bring your booze into the theater and drink while you watch the film. The Loft is also an event venue. It hosts two free film series: the Tucson International Children's Film Festival in July, and Essential Cinema, a series of classic art films on the big screen in new 35mm prints.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: The Loft is a midtown Tucson mainstay featuring late-night screenings of cult favorites and movie sing-alongs in a beer-friendly moviehouse.

Patricia's expert tip: On the first Friday of each month, comedians host a popular monthly contest featuring screenings of short films, fun B-reel footage and lots of laughter.

Read more about The Loft Cinema →


Rialto Theatre


This venue, located in the heart of downtown, had a fascinating past as a vaudeville theater. Now the refurbished facility is a great place to catch a touring band. Many styles of music, from blues to salsa to alternative, are represented, and big names often perform. Located across the street from the Hotel Congress, the Rialto Theatre is a hub of activity on any given night. Bar concessions are available during most shows. Recently, the management at the Rialto have started to paint temporary murals on the side of the venue to advertise upcoming shows. The venue has stand-up general admission for most shows, although chairs are set up for some performances.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: The Rialto Theatre is Tucson's top live music venue, hosting regional and national touring acts almost every night of the week.

Patricia's expert tip: Tickets sell out fast for headlining acts at this medium-sized venue.

Read more about Rialto Theatre →


Playground Bar & Grill


If you're looking for a sleek, modern bar and lounge in downtown Tucson, look no further than Playground. The hybrid bar and lounge manages to be both hip and inviting, marrying traditional southwestern hospitality with the stylishness of a modern bar and lounge. Keep moving on the dance floor, enjoy a cleverly-named cocktail at the bar, or enjoy a bit of people-watching on the patio. The bar hosts a popular Sunday brunch where you can enjoy a Bloody Mary made to order. If drinking and dancing make you hungry, check out the taste bud-pleasing food menu, featuring gourmet burgers, salads, and appetizers.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Playground Bar & Lounge brings style, flair, fun specialty cocktails, and a thumping dance floor to the downtown Tucson scene.

Patricia's expert tip: If you're looking for a lively brunch spot in downtown Tucson, Playground Bar & Grill hosts one every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Read more about Playground Bar & Grill →


Club Congress


This upbeat dance club offers a wide range of popular theme nights, with some of the best DJs in the area spinning nostalgic tracks or the best alternative music of today. Club Congress is also a popular live music venue for touring national acts. Mondays are 80s nights, Friday is live music, and Saturday night DJs spin music for Tucson's hippest crowds. Club Congress is located inside the historic Hotel Congress, which offers plenty of atmosphere for a night out in downtown Tucson. Club Congress has also been named one of the country's best rock clubs by numerous publications over the years.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Club Congress is downtown Tucson's top nightlife attraction, pumping out music and drinks seven nights a week.

Patricia's expert tip: Swing by on a Thursday night for the "Optimist Club," one of Tucson's most popular alternative club nights, featuring a rotating cast of DJs playing house party favorites.

Read more about Club Congress →


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Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.

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