The Buffet

The Buffet, is an icon as well as one of the oldest bars in Tucson. Two years ago, Esquire magazine crowned it one of the 12 best dive bars in America. 


The melancholy march to Christmas beats on as I sit down to write this article at the coffee shop. "Pa-rum pum pum pummm. Me and my drum ..."

Seriously, where are my headphones!? 

Ooops, I went all Scrooge again. Sorry, I've been working on that this year. If you're reading this though, you're probably in a similar place of anxiety and/or listlessness about Christmas. Maybe you're sad. Maybe you're looking forward to it this time. That's all okay.

Last year I found myself wandering the neighborhood by myself, trying to be okay with the situation. I'd stocked up on all my favorite foods to prepare, but it just didn't feel right eating Italian cheeses and prosciutto all by myself. My walk was peaceful, but I still felt empty ... until I saw it, and suddenly everything was clear: The Buffet. 

The streets outside were a Christmas ghost town, but this place was bumping. Maybe it's the lush in me, but I felt so comfortable, like I had found my people. I took my place at the bar and had several Coors-fueled conversations with different regulars who were processing the whole Christmas thing just like I was. It made me feel better to talk to people about it. And guess what, they even had a potluck!  

It helps to have a Christmas tradition, so I'm grateful for The Buffet. And this year, I'm looking forward to taking a few friends/Christmas stragglers along with me! 

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few other places you can go in Tucson to be around other people. Or maybe you just want some Chinese food, because honey ham sucks! Okay sorry again, just had to throw that in there. 🤣 

The Buffet, 538 E. Ninth St., is open its regular hours 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. this year. The potluck hasn't been confirmed but hey, there's beer! And at the least, pickled eggs. 

Che's Lounge, 350 N. Fourth Ave., is open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Christmas, with festive cocktails! 

— Fatman Kitchen, 2610 N. First Ave., is the new Chinese restaurant where Impress Hot Pot used to be. A sign posted on the door says it's open Christmas Day, from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Here's an idea of what they serve.

Sher-E-Punjab, 853 E. Grant Road, is open on Christmas Day! It will serve its regular menu, which includes classic entrees like chicken biryani, $8.50, and palak paneer, $7.75. Walk-ins welcome. Phone: 520-624-9393

China Phoenix, 7090 N. Oracle Road, is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Reservations are recommended for larger groups of people. Call: 520-531-0658

Piazza Gavi, 5415 N. Kolb Road, is open all day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Reservations are almost booked for dinner. But the rest of the day is a little more free. Phone: 520-577-1099.

You can find the Star's digital food writer Andi Berlin at a taqueria near you, taking tiny bites and furiously scribbling into an old notepad.