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Haiku Hike (JJ Snyder Photography for Downtown Tucson Partnership)

Where to Eat & Drink While Exploring Tucson’s Haiku Hike

Updated March 20, 2024

Oh, the weather is warming up, the birds are chirping, and downtown is blossoming with haikus. No, a haiku isn’t something you can eat — it’s a poem of 17 syllables in three lines of five, seven, and five. The fifth annual Haiku Hike, presented by the Downtown Tucson Partnership (DTP) and the University of Arizona Poetry Center, is a literary competition showcasing 20 winning haiku poems printed on acrylic signage in planters located on Congress Street and Stone Avenue.

Half of the fun is finding where they’re hiding.

This year, they got to sift through 2,069 submitted poems from all over the world. More than 1,385 were from Tucson and the other poems were submitted from 29 states and 27 countries. From now until Saturday, June 1, these poems will be scattered along Congress Street and Stone Avenue.

Check out our full downtown dining guide for even more local businesses. 

a group of people standing in front of a store
Wall of whiskey at Batch (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Batch Whiskey & Donuts

Known as one of America’s Best Bourbon Bars, Batch Whiskey & Donuts is a must-visit for its extensive collection of over 1000 unique bottles of whiskey and delicious donuts. Located in a historic building on Congress St., this cozy spot also boasts a basement cocktail lounge and boutique whiskey shop.

Caffe Luce on Congress (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Caffe Luce – Congress

A gem among Tucson cafes, Caffe Luce is notable for its dedication to perfecting the art of coffee roasting. Try their Espresso Luce, a blend crafted to achieve the perfect latte, and pair it with their tasty scones and perfectly cooked rolls!

a picture taken on stage at a jazz club
On stage at The Century Room (Photo courtesy of Hotel Congress)

The Century Room

The Century Room at the Hotel Congress is where it’s at for live jazz and crafty cocktails. It’s the first jazz club in Tucson and it’s adding some real style to the city’s nightlife. Their Sonoran Sazerac goes down smoother than that baseline and their charcuterie boards hit those high notes just right!

a photo of a bar
Cobra Arcade (Photo credit: Tucson Foodie)

Cobra Arcade Bar Tucson

Two floors of all your favorite retro games like pinball and Dance Dance Revolution will have you gaming the night away. Plus, the drinks are top-notch – they’ve got a whole slew of cool cocktails that’ll make you feel like a kid in a candy store, but, like, as adults. Did we mention the super chill patio seating? Yeah, it’s awesome.

a group of people standing in front of a store
Photo courtesy of Hotel Congress

Cup Cafe

Nestled in the heart of Tucson, the historic Hotel Congress offers not just a stay but a culinary journey through its in-house restaurant, Cup Café. Known for its innovative and delectable menu, the Cup Café boasts a mix of American and Southwestern fare; the Cast Iron Baked Eggs and Congress Burger are must-tries for a taste of the rich history blended with modern innovation.

a picture of cheesy, gooey jalapenos
Jalapeno Peppers at Elliott's on Congress (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Elliott’s on Congress

Elliott’s is an American restaurant that provides a relaxing ambiance and great food to match. The eatery features a fully stocked bar with house-infused specialty vodkas, sporting flavors from basil to key lime. There is even Chocolate Covered Bacon. It is safe to say Elliot’s is nothing short of an experience.

Elote Pizza at Empire Pizza (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Empire Pizza & Pub

Craving a slice of New York pizza in Tucson? Empire’s got you covered with their hand-tossed, fresh-out-the-oven pizzas. And hey, while you’re there, give their Elote Pizza a whirl – it’s got foodies all over town raving. They’re open late, so don’t stress!

A photo of the interior of Good Oak Bar in Tucson
Good Oak Bar, Downtown Tucson (Photo Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Good Oak Bar

Good Oak Bar is your go-to place for a wide range of bites and brews. They make their own chips and guacamole, and you can order pizza from Jaime’s Pizza Kitchen next door! They’re open ’til midnight almost every day, so it’s a great place for evening drinks and late-night munchies.

(Photo by Jackie Tran)

HeeMee Coffee + Bakery

The family-run cafe on East Congress Street serves coffee and scratch-made baked goods with French, Japanese, and Korean influences. Menu items include assorted cakes, daily specials, doughnuts, tarts, buns, and Chicken Katsu Brioche Sandwiches.

HighWire Tucson

This is a cool spot right behind Johnny Gibson’s. They’ve got a wide-open space with live music and a menu that’s all about fun. And hey, their vegan drinks? Worth it.

HUB Restaurant (Photo by SWOON Media)

HUB Restaurant & Ice Creamery

HUB offers brunch, lunch, dinner, but most importantly, homemade ice cream. This loft-feel surrounded with brick walls and unique décor offers a dark, intimate ambiance in the evening. They serve menu items such as pastrami HUB Hash and Chicken Pot Pie. End your meal with creamy, homemade ice cream in unique flavors like Oatmeal Cookie Dough and Spiced Cider.

(Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Iguana Cafe & Bar

A combination of a bar and a restaurant, is a friendly spot that offers great service in a cozy cafe with a horseshoe bar. The Hispanic music is always pumping, and their Mexican dishes like the burritos and mini chimichangas are a total hit. Plus their refried beans may be some of the best we’ve ever had.

a pizza sitting on top of a wooden table
Jaime's Pizza Kitchen (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Jaime’s Pizza Kitchen

“We’re passionate about what we do. Everything is still made from scratch,” said Gabriel Moreno, owner and chef of Jaime’s Pizza Kitchen. “Everything’s got our entire heart and soul in it, and it will continue that way as long as this brand is alive.” From their pizza and salads to their garlic knots and sauce, we can vouch for the taste of that depth of care.

(Photo courtesy of Johnny Gibson's Downtown Market)

Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market

This spot is more than a restaurant, it’s a whole market filled with fresh goodies right in downtown Tucson. You gotta try Johnny’s Cubano, loaded with ham, pork, and Swiss cheese, or the Laaamb Burger with its delicious mix of lamb, beef, and curried eggplant. It’s like a grocery store and your favorite deli combined!

Photo courtesy of Juniper

Juniper

Downtown Tucson just got a gin bar. Located in the same spot where Iron John’s Brewing Co. used to reside, Juniper boasts a full wall of different kinds of gin, which are used to create a selection of large and aromatic gin and tonics, magnificent martinis, novel negronis and a range of other carefully crafted classic cocktails.

a store inside of a building
(Photo courtesy of The Monica)

The Monica

Run by the same folks who brought us El Charro Café, The Monica is a cool restaurant in downtown Tucson. Their menu is a mashup of family recipes crafted by a team of ace chefs. It isn’t just Mexican food — think artisanal pizzas, baguettes, and dishes like Albondigas Béchamel and Short Rib Rustico. Plus the open-air bar and indoor/outdoor seating make it great for just about any time of day!

a sandwich sitting on top of a table
(Photo courtesy of The Neighborhood)

The Neighborhood DWTN

Much like the incredibly stylish mullet hairstyle being business in the front and a party in the back, The Neighborhood’s downtown spot is more than one concept. Think of it as a restaurant and bar during the earlier hours of the day and a total party by night.

Nook

Swing by this funky, quirky restaurant tucked away out of sight downtown. Perfect for a chill Tucson brunch after your morning jog, a quick bite between classes, or even a work lunch. Their Steak and Eggs, Godfather Benedict, and Chocolate Chip Griddle Cakes are total crowd-pleasers, so don’t miss out on them!

Obon (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

OBON

Whether you are coming in for a quick bite during a night out, dinner with friends, or stopping by for lunch, OBON is a must-try. Named after the vibrant Japanese celebration of family and life, Brandon Katz hopes to bring a taste of Japan to Tucson. The menu offers everything from small plates of Pork Dumplings to Bibimbop, poke, an extensive sushi menu, ramen, and steam buns.

Jalapeño Popper Burger at Playground (Photo by SWOON Media)

Playground Bar & Lounge

Smack in the middle of Tucson’s lively downtown, Playground is perfect for a pre-concert drink, a chill after-work bite, or a sports night out with friends. They’ve got everything from Carne Asada Fries (drool-worthy!) to a mouthwatering selection of burgers and sandwiches, plus a full bar. You won’t leave wanting, we promise!

(Photo courtesy of Proper Shops)

Proper Shops

It’s a place for shopping and mingling but there’s also a nifty bar for plenty of sippin’. Proper Shops also shares a patio with Jaime’s Pizza Kitchen, Scented Leaf Tea, and The Good Oak Bar — it’s a great spot to sit, have a conversation, and listen to the sounds of downtown.

a store inside of a restaurant
R Bar (Photo by Rachel Dacquisto)

R Bar

R Bar isn’t just a spot for drinks—it’s part of The Rialto Theatre Foundation, helping to keep Tucson’s history alive. So, every drink you enjoy there is for a good cause! You gotta try their cocktails, especially the “Bee’s Knee’s” and “El Guapo”—they’re top-notch.

The Screamery – Congress

The Sarnoskis opened The Screamery in 2014 when they couldn’t find an ice cream that offered the quality of ingredients they desired. Similar to the other locations in Tucson, The Screamery’s downtown location offers several original handcrafted flavors, such as Blueberry Cheesecake, Sweet Cream Honeycomb, and Orange Dreamsicle (flavors are always rotating).

(Photo courtesy of The Scented Leaf on Instagram)

Scented Leaf Tea House – Congress St.

This isn’t just your typical tea shop- it’s a hotspot hangout with a cozy, chilled-out atmosphere. With a wall full of loose leaf teas (with flavors like mango and orange vanilla cream), hot or cold brew coffee, and the always exciting and innovative “Teas-On-Tap,” you’ll be spoilt for choice at Tucson’s best tea store downtown. Plus, who can resist the smell of baking brownies? Not us, that’s who.

a group of people in a restaurant
Snake & Barrel (Photo by Taylor Noel Photography)

Snake & Barrel

Ever wanted to step into a movie? Well, Snake & Barrel is your chance! This cool underground bar has a speakeasy vibe and seriously good drinks. They keep it simple but high-quality, so every cocktail is a hit. The “Polaroid Picture” and “Living After Midnight” are total game-changers.

a dining room table
Bar (Photo courtesy of Tabu)

Tabu

The owners, who have spent several months renovating the location inside the building that’s more than 100 years old, credit their fusion of inspiration to South American cuisine, native ingredients, and even a bit of European and Asian influences. With plenty of tables for groups and comfy seating at the bar, Tabu has transformed into yet another unique downtown destination.

The Taproom at Hotel Congress (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

The Tap Room at Hotel Congress

Step into the past at the Congress Tap Room, a cool pub that’s been around since 1919. Dig the art deco vibe, check out the live music, and enjoy a martini or Bloody Mary. And hey, they even nabbed John Dillinger here back in the day. Yeehaw!

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