People don’t expect to hear Mozart while eating pancakes. Selecting music for a restaurant’s vibe can be as thoughtful as constructing a menu.
The playlist can serve as a conductor, setting the tempo for the environment for an upbeat or chill ambiance. It can be a cultural window, matching the cuisine’s country of origin and make you feel like you’re no longer in Tucson.
While the music usually provides guests entertainment, it can be a stress reliever for staff. If you’re lucky to hear a soulful voice singing along in the kitchen, it’s nice to hope that passion translates to wonderful food.
Although live music is the most energizing, we’ve gathered these playlists so you can enjoy the vibes of these hip joints from the comfort of your own kitchen, car, or shower.
402 E. 9th St.
Global musicians such as gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and Brazilian duo Los Indios Tabajaras mesh with Tucson musicians Naim Amor and Calexico to form the Coronet’s bistro playlist. For the summertime when they’re open after 10 p.m., they shift into a smaller playlist for late night vibes.
For more information, visit cafecoronet.com.
OBON Sushi Bar Ramen
350 E. Congress St.
Even though sushi and ramen are Japanese, OBON rocks a fun poppy vibe that embraces a melting pot of cultures.
Executive Chef Paulo Im:
“We have a couple of different playlists throughout the day. A lot of it is reactionary. We try and get a feel for the vibe in the dining room. Monday through Friday we have lunch. During those times, we get the business crowd. We usually play either the seventies/eighties playlist or feel good radio on Spotify. The playlist on our computer is called “Never Ending 80s” but it has so much more. Lots of The Cure, and Hall & Oates. Brandon (OBON owner) says that BPM (beats per minute) should match the vibe of the dining room. Happy hour and during Saturdays when we open we like to play Kygo radio, or Upbeat + Summer Sun. I love playing the “Awake” album but Tycho during the dinner rush during the weekends.”
For more information, visit obonsushi.com.
Prep & Pastry
3073 N. Campbell Ave. • 6450 E. Grant Rd. #160
Prep & Pastry plays music from their Fitz and the Tantrums station via Pandora for Business, which provides an upbeat feel matching the sunny environment. While pop rock dominates the list, oldies such as “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” make appearances.
For more information, visit prepandpastry.com.
Red’s Smokehouse + Taproom
943 E. University Blvd.
Owner/chef Ramiro Scavo can jam out with a convincing air guitar to this blues and rock playlist when he’s not on the line. Play this at home while slinging back a cold one or tending to the grill.
For more information, visit redsuofa.com.
Sushi On Oracle
6449 N. Oracle Rd.
Nujabes and the version of Ghibli Jazz played at Sushi on Oracle are unfortunately unavailable on Spotify. However, you can still find Sushi on Oracle-frequent artists such as DJ Okawari and Yuna.
Sushi chef Tommy Begay:
“I love music. The music I choose needs to first of all fit the dining room. It needs to fill the space without taking it over. Second I like having music that no one else is playing. There’s kind of a sense of crate digging that I like. Third, if it’s produced by Japanese artists is a plus. I love it when guests ask ‘where did you find this?‘ or ‘where did you get this instrumental?’ That’s why most of Sushi on Oracle’s music can’t be found on Spotify.”
For more information, visit sushionoracle.net.
902 E. Broadway Blvd.
While Welcome Diner features a different playlist every Sunday from different Tucson culinary figures, their main playlist features an eclectic selection of artists ranging from jazzy hip hop instrumental group BadBadNotGood to the psychedelic rock of Rodríguez.
Partner/chef Michael Babcock:
“We actually have a Welcome playlist that’s been evolving for the past four years from one of our dishwashers in Phoenix. It’s named after him as he’s affectionately called ‘Creble’ around us diner rats.”
For more information, visit welcomediner.net.
Which Tucson restaurants have your favorite playlists? Let us know in the comments.