The Buffet, 538 E. Ninth St., is the ultimate Tucson must-see dive bar. Though it may not have some bizzarely far-out, strange aspect to it, its appeal stems from its opening time: 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
The Buff is one of the bars you hear about a lot, yet never really know what it was you heard. I heard the name mentioned so many times when I was an under-ager, mostly for two reasons: 1) people raved about playing shuffleboard and 2)the bar was really lenient with fake IDs.
On the contrary, my first experience at the Buff proved that wrong. It was a friend's 21st birthday and the Buff was our second stop. The bartender requested that we show our IDs as soon as we walked in. We stood around the bar, patiently waiting our turns. The door man went to a back room to retrieve a book. It was soome sort of book that showed and described every state's driver's license. One of the girls had a California license (and believe me, she really was 21) and the expiration date was 3 years after the issued date. California licenses are supposed
to expire 5 years after the issue date. The confusion with the years could have come about because the girl had to replace a stolen license over the summer. Nevertheless, the bouncer would not let her remain in the bar. He took her ID for a few minutes and gave it back to her a lfew minutes before the cops came and verified that it was in fact a legitimate ID. Ironic that this was the same bar so many under-agers bragged about getting into easily.
The place was pretty small, though it seemed like an okay size for the amount of people who were there that night. I'm sure it gets crowded on busier nights. As you look around you notice that behind the bar there are snacks for sale - not your typical bar sight. The next interesting sight was the sign for hotdogs. This actually seemed like a great idea seeing that hotdogs seem to be the greatest remedy for the drunken munchies. I sadly did not try it, though next visit I might take the plunge.
The Buff is known for being the oldest bar in Tucson in the same location (its nearby neighbor, the Shanty, opened earlier but at some point in its history switched locations). The decorations were nothing too extraordinary, kind of your typical rusty-looking place, cluttered with random pictures and of course a moose's head hanging on the wall. The pool table area seems to take up about one-fourth of the bar. On the opposite end of the bar, tables are lined up against the walls for extra seating (aside from the bar).
Now here's the special you might have heard of: "Happy Minute." Two times a day - 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. - you will receive a replica of the exact same drink you possess. At the 6 p.m. Happy Minute, you'll get the extra drink for free. At the 11 p.m. Happy Minute, it'll cost you $1. This is a very surprising treat for visitors who are there and don't know the rules. Like magic, one drink becomes two!
The Buffet is also home to many crazy stories. You hear people talk about drunken memories that ended at the Buff. One time, some friends and I randomly went on a road trip to In-N-Out Burger at around 11 p.m. one Sunday night. It was a 3-day weekend, so we were all pretty drunk (aside from the sober driver of course). Well 7 hours later we finally made it back to Tucson and two of the guys made their way to the Buff to continue their night. Yes, it is a feat for college students to drink at 6 in the morning.
Another story I heard was from a 36-year-old man I met at a bar on my birthday. He happened to be a UofA alumn visiting for his flying certification (something like that). Back when he was in college, he and his SAE fraternity brothers construed a plan to see how long they could spend at the Buff. They arrived at 6 a.m. The rules were that they could not step foot out of the bar and they had to have an open drink at all times. They snacked on hot dogs and a pizza they had delivered. They made it to about 12 hours there. Being anywhere for 12 hours straight is an accomplishemnt in itself.
So now it's time for you to make your
memory at the Buff. See you there bright and early!Here are some other reviews of The Buffet:Arizona Daily Star ReviewTucson Weekly ReviewAnother Tucson Weekly ReviewCity Search Review