As of a few days ago, it's impossible to avoid the influence of Pokémon GO.
The free-to-play augmented reality game for iOS and Android mobile devices encourages players to travel to real world locations, using their device's GPS to locate Pokémon to capture, receive in-game items at Pokéstops, and battle at Pokémon gyms. Places of interest such as statues, memorials, and public art exhibits end up being the most attractive Pokémon destinations.
While it might sound like just another video game, the popularity has skyrocketed to astronomical heights. Pokémon GO is projected to surpass Twitter in daily active users on Android. The market value of Nintendo Co. has increased by $9 billion in just a few days.
On a local scale, it's become common to witness groups of hundreds of adults at Reid Park around midnight hunting for the elusive Charizard. Foot traffic downtown and around the University of Arizona campus has also increased. It's a welcome contrast to the scorching summer streets that are nearly empty this time of year, so local businesses are getting in on the Pokémon GO action too.
"I got a message two days ago from a patron saying, 'hey, just wanted you to know you're the only gym on Fourth Ave and you might want to cash in on that,'" said Betsy Besenick, bartender at the Hut. "We were really rather impressed by the foot traffic we've seen. We had a couple groups come in last night that we would never have seen before, definitely not our Monday clientele. We want people to come in, sit down, and meet other people."
"Pokémania" has reached beyond urban Tucson, as well. Tucson Hop Shop joined in on the fun since its location in the Metal Arts Village area is home to a few Pokéstops.
"We were inspired by my sisters, who found a Vulpix on the bar a couple days ago," said Jessie Zugerman, co-owner of Tucson Hop Shop. "My kids and I are currently a little obsessed. Once we found out that two Pokéstops are in the village, we were decided. I think we will run the promo at least for a couple weeks, or until people burn out on Pokémon hunting."
In-game items have become a source of business strategy as well. One particular in-game item, the Lure Module, increases the encounter rate of wild to a Pokéstop for 30 minutes. As a bonus, the effect is visible to fellow Pokémon trainers, luring in additional foot traffic.
"We are going to drop a couple lures throughout the week, and definitely one at the Ten Fifty-Five Brewing event on Saturday," Zugerman said.
Although Tucson Parks and Recreation has been embracing Pokémon GO attracting activity, it's currently figuring out what to do about all the visitors after hours. However, many of Tucson's beer joints happen to be surrounded by Pokéstops, making it easy to socialize with other Pokémon trainers with a cold one and air conditioning.
Most of them happen to be within walking distance of each other, so gather a few buddies to hatch some eggs and go on your own beer crawl to be the best, like no one ever was.
With 46 beers on tap and a bottle shop, 1702 has a selection that only the most obsessive beer drinkers could exhaust over the period of a week. It also serves its own beer under the moniker of The Address Brewing Co. — the Rainy Day IPA is a must when it's available. 1702 and its neighbors G's Barbershop and Bentley's House of Coffee & Tea are all Pokéstops, though there's no shortage in the surrounding campus area.
Keep up with 1702 on Facebook.
The brewery itself is a Pokéstops, so you can relax with a few beers while stocking up on Pokéballs and Potions. Abra and Growlithe make common appearances. Barrio has an outstanding happy hour 3 - 7 p.m. Monday through Friday with a wide variety of appetizers, making it great starting point for your beer crawl. The Beach Brew is a blonde ale with sweet grapefruit flavors added, making it a refreshing summer seasonal choice.
Keep up with Barrio Brewing Co. on Facebook.
Borderlands displays local paintings and sculptures throughout its large space, making it a cool spot to appreciate art while accumulating steps for hatching your eggs. Sit in the middle of the bar in order to reach both of the nearby Pokéstops at once. The Citrana Wild Ale's tartness and slight salt make it one of the preferred adventurous beers while the Prickly Pear Wheat is also another light summer choice.
Keep up with Borderlands Brewing Company on Facebook.
Though Casa Film Bar is just a bit far for the beer crawl walk, it's a great stop on the way home. Casa Video is its own Pokéstop, so once you're done drinking from the twenty beers on tap, you can browse for a video to rent and watch for the night. Sacred Art Tattoo down the street is a gym close enough to walk to.
Keep up with Casa Video and Casa Film Bar on Facebook.
Next door to La Cocina, Dusty Monk Pub has an extensive selection of Belgium beer, whiskey, and pub fare. It's also a few feet away from the Tucson Museum of Art and assorted public street art, making it one of the most Pokéstop-dense areas in Tucson. The surrounding 18th century Spanish colonial style neighborhood makes it great for walking tours, Pokémon-related or not.
Keep up with Dusty Monk Pub on Facebook.
One of the most iconic parts of downtown Tucson, it shouldn't be surprising that Hotel Congress ended up being the hippest downtown Pokémon gym. If you're starting your Pokémon GO tour early, come into the Cup Café for the Cast Iron Baked Eggs. Though the bars in Hotel Congress offer a variety of beers, their Bloody Mary is among Tucson's best.
Keep up with Club Congress on Facebook.
While being the gym leader is mostly a matter of pride and points, The Hut ups the ante. Only the gym leader can receive $2 you-call-its, so expect competition to be fierce. Players not worthy of the gym leader title can drown their sorrows in $1 shots. The Green Flash IPA is the best craft draft they have on tap for hopheads. Tuesday nights have gaming consoles out to play with, so it's perfect for socializing with nerdier friends.
Keep up with The Hut on Facebook.
Pueblo Vida won the People's Choice awards for 'Best Flagship' and 'Best Specialty' beers at Born & Brewed 2015, so it's easy to confide in their beers. Go for the coffee and chocolate-forward Breakfast Stout or citrusy and hop-heavy Northwest IPA to start. You can have food delivered from Johnny Gibson's Downtown Market around the block (try Mama Gibson's Grilled Cheese), making it a pleasant joint to unwind for a few hours. If you lose track of time and it's past midnight, walk to the Pokéstop next door Shot in the Dark Cafe, which is open 24 hours.
Keep up with Pueblo Vida Brewing Company on Facebook.
Tap & Bottle's impressive selection helped it earn recognition as one of the top 100 beer bars in the U.S. by Draft Magazine. With one of the best bottle and tap selections in town, regularly hosted events, and easy-to-follow social media, it's easy to see why. Sit by the front and you can access the additional Pokéstop across the street at Miller's Surplus. The nearby wash appears to be recognized as a river via Pokémon GO, so you might encounter more water-type Pokémon as you level up.
Keep up with Tap & Bottle on Facebook.
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At the eastern edge of downtown with a full kitchen, Thunder Canyon Brewery is an ideal spot for starting or ending your urban Pokémon beer crawl. Its convenient location next to the Sun Link also makes it a favorite destination for trainers to drop Lure Modules. For a bold pairing, order the Jamaican Jerk TCB Pub Wings and a glass of Quad the Impaler.
Keep up with Thunder Canyon Brewery on Facebook.
The beer menu at Time Market tends to carry brews from Bell's Brewery, so you'll often have the chance to try the summer favorite Oberon Ale or the hoppy Two Hearted Ale. Their $4 pizza slice is a steal, but any other food there tends to be outstanding regardless. Time Market and the Sun Link stop next to it are both Pokéstops.
Bonus: I caught a Charmeleon here.
Keep up with Time Market on Facebook.
Though Tucson Hop Shop wouldn't be considered walking distance from the other bars, its beer selection and lovely patio make it a worthy stop. The cozy upstairs area is perfect for beer-studying. Though the nearby Pokéstops are convenient, Hop Shop ups the ante by occasionally dropping Lure Modules. As another sign of love, tag them in a picture with a Pokémon while at Hop Shop for a dollar off your draft beer.
Keep up with Tucson Hop Shop on Facebook.
BrushFire owner Benjamin Rine is a Pokémon GO fan himself and made these sweet metal lawn markers. If you'd like to purchase one, please contact him at email@example.com. BrushFire is a Pokéstop, along with the nearby Climbing Ivy art.
Where's your favorite eatery or bar to play Pokémon GO? Let us know in the comments.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he is best known locally for his work for Tucson Foodie, his work has also appeared in publications such as Bon...