Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2022 and updated in 2023.
In 2021, I wrote a little guide about where to eat downtown along the streetcar route. I talked about how I loved having the streetcar as an option when Tucson is such a car-dependent city: it’s more affordable than ride-shares and easier to coordinate than finding a designated driver. In the years since, a lot has changed — menus have shifted, new restaurants have cropped up.
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Here’s a follow-up guide to take advantage of all Tucson’s downtown area has to offer, including nine picks.
This summer, catch me on the Agustin Kitchen patio with a $7 daiquiri and $5 garlic frites. Their happy hour lasts from 3-6 p.m. and features a roster of simple, classic cocktails: the daiquiri is my drink of choice this summer, but sangrias and margaritas suit the heat just as well.
Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m. daily
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
The sister restaurant of The Parish brings eclectic, daring Southern cuisine downtown. The Delta offers both happy hour and late-night specials. For happy hour, you can get $3 off both specialty cocktails and a variety of rich appetizers like Texas poutine and seafood gumbo. If you have a flair for old fashioneds, you can get them at The Delta’s happy hour for only $6.
Location: 135 S. Sixth Ave.
Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday | 3-7 p.m. Friday | Late night specials until midnight Friday-Saturday
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday | 4 p.m. to midnight Friday-Saturday | 4-9 p.m. Sunday
When going out, I find it’s best to have a meal that can sustain you. One of my favorite comfort foods is quesabirria: you can’t go wrong at La Yaquesita, which started on the far west side. Their indulgent tacos and dogos can sustain anyone embarking on a long night out on the town.
Location: 500 N. Fourth Ave.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
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After a brief but impressive stint on Fourth Avenue, Fullylove’s found a permanent home in Main Gate Square. With vegan options as delicious and indulgent as anything else on their comfort food menu, it’s my favorite place to go out with herbivorous friends.
Location: 994 E. University Blvd.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4:30-8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. Sunday
The Owls Club
The Owls Club is great if you want to be on the scene. Hipsters, normie Bumble dates and everyone in between who’s looking for a little something funky has passed through this mortuary-cum-jazz bar on a Friday night. Happy hour, featuring $8 classic cocktail specials, runs from 5-7 p.m.
Location: 236 S. Scott Ave.
Hours: 5 p.m. to midnight Tuesday-Sunday
For a more intimate evening, try The Shanty. It boasts Arizona’s oldest liquor license and has a quiet patio. Even though it’s a stone’s throw to high-key discotheques like Hi-Fi, it’s a world apart. Here, you’ll find an extensive beer list and pool tables. All the making for a neighborhood joint, within striking distance of a big night out.
Location: 401 E. Ninth St.
Hours: 5-11 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. to midnight Sunday
Revel is a fun, accessible wine bar, where you can either kick off a night or hunker down for an evening. Whether you want to impress a date or chill out with friends, it’s a setting for all of Tucson. Revel often books jazz shows on the weekends and if you’re interested in learning more about wine, they offer tasting classes on Sundays, usually for $15.
Location: 416 E. Ninth St.
Hours: 4-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday-Saturday
Empire Pizza has been the safe harbor after every night out I’ve had downtown. Their perfectly greasy cheese pizza is the panacea to whatever drink you had previously imbibed. Tucson has a lot of good pizza, and this is my favorite New York-style slice. It’s the special treat, cherry on top, of every night out — good or bad, a slice of Empire's pizza will make it better. And they’re open until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Oh, and there’s a hidden bar in the back.
Location: 137 E. Congress St.
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday-Thursday, 11-3 a.m. Friday-Saturday
If you're looking for something you can't find anywhere else, check out La Merguez's food cart, slinging Moroccan-style lamb, chicken and vegan sandwiches at Che's Lounge most Saturdays.
Location: Che's Lounge, 350 N. Fourth Ave.
Hours: For the most up-to-date information, follow La Merguez on Instagram.
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If you’re looking for more places to grab a bite after midnight, Main Gate Square is replete with student-focused options open until around 2 a.m., like The Blind Pig.