Tucson’s best bars on a budget

by ANNA STILTNER

Sky Bar operates as a café during the day and astronomy themed bar at night.

Sky Bar operates as a café during the day and astronomy themed bar at night.

Sky Bar

536 N. Fourth Ave., Tucson, AZ

622-4300

A solar powered café by day and astronomy bar by night, Sky Bar offers the best of both worlds.    

The large open space is multifunctional.  Equipped with plenty of seating, tables and outlets, Sky Bar is the perfect place for studying or meeting a friend.   

Cass Schlichtholz, a bartender at Sky Bar, describes their atmosphere as friendly and welcoming.

Sliding garage-type doors open during the day, bringing in lots of natural light.

Its café serves breakfast calzones, sandwiches, juices, smoothies and even wheatgrass shots, which are all inexpensive.   

At night, images from the telescopes on the roof and patio are projected onto screens inside.  Recently, they added Game of Thrones and NFL Sundays to their viewing schedule.      

Their best deals are offered during happy hour, which is everyday from 4-7 p.m. They’re currently introducing a new cocktail menu.  Each week, the featured cocktail will be only $4, any time of any day.

Playground is divided into unique areas, offering something different for guests.

Playground is divided into unique areas, offering something different for guests.

Playground

278 E. Congress St., Tucson, AZ

396-3691

Spend your next recess at Playground – a hip bar and lounge located on the historic corner of Congress and Fifth Avenue in downtown Tucson.

Modern décor and plenty of big screens give this venue a lively and youthful environment.

Leah Schwersinske, Playground’s event coordinator, says the venue attracts a large demographic, varying by event and time of day. Like the crowd, their music is also eclectic. “Anything from Top 40, house, old school hip-hop – it’s a big variety,” Schwersinske said.

Their happy hour, or “After School Specials,” is Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. and includes deals on select cocktails, wine, beer and appetizers.

Take a load off under one of their cabanas outside. Don’t forget to check out their 360-degree roof-top deck with views of Congress Street and the Catalina Mountains. It’s the only one like it in Tucson.

Known for its glass art and immense selection of quality and craft beers, Mr. Heads is the perfect place for perusing and boozing.

Known for its glass art and immense selection of quality and craft beers, Mr. Heads is the perfect place for perusing and boozing.

Mr. Heads

513 N. Fourth Ave., Tucson AZ

792-2710

Mr. Heads art gallery and lounge is a cool, laid-back hangout, especially for creative minds. In addition to being a venue for local artists’ work, Mr. Heads is also the only bar in Tucson with a glass-blowing studio. For any piece sold, all proceeds go to the artist.

Micah Blatt, owner of Mr. Heads, said everyone is welcome there.

“It’s a good, mellow vibe,” Blatt said.

So if you’re looking to booze while you peruse art, check out Mr. Heads. It’s also the only place in town you can find a $2 20-ounce PBR.

Che’s Lounge is located on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Seventh Street.

Che’s Lounge is located on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Seventh Street.

Che’s Lounge

350 N. Fourth Ave., Tucson, AZ

623-2088

Another classic Fourth Avenue hangout, Che’s Lounge is a local favorite.

Their jukebox – which has a wide collection of oldies, indie and even local music – is said to be the “best in town,” according to online reviews. A stimulating array of pictures, stickers and other art cover the walls.

Nicole Dybel, a bartender at Che’s, said they don’t have happy hour because their everyday deals are “already so good.” Order their seasonal cocktail, always made with fresh fruit.  Also be sure to check out their spacious outdoor back patio.

“It’s a bar for everyone,” said Dybel.

The Buffet

538 E. Ninth St., Tucson, AZ

623-6811

Tucson’s oldest and diviest bar, The Buffet, is celebrating its 81st year of serving locals and visitors with cheap and strong drinks.

Maria Campas, bartender, said the people are what keep her there.

“It’s like a family here,” Campas said.

Their famous “happy minute” occurs at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.  At 6, they will match whatever you’re drinking, for free. At 11, they will match your drink for $1.

P.S. Bring your cash—they don’t accept cards.

Don’t feel like getting dressed up, or maybe even showering? No worries. The Buffet has its own distinct smell too and will serve you with no judgment.

They’re also the only place that opens at 6 a.m. Tuesday-Sunday, so if you’re working late, stop by The Buffet for casual after-shift drinks.

Filed Under: Arts/Entertainment

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