Campus Guide '17: Tucson metro and downtown are home to unique local businesses

Amanda Delgado | The Daily Wildcat

Hippie Gypsy, located on Fourth Avenue and 7th Street, is a local shop that sells bohemian themed clothing and items, along with some other unique goods. The building's iconic murals make it a recognizable landmark of Fourth Avenue.

If you know where to look, you’ll find that Tucson has an impressive, vibrant city life. In fact, just by hopping on the SunLink streetcar, you can visit most of the historic and popular spots downtown has to offer.

Grab a bite to eat at Main Gate Square, shop along Fourth Avenue or explore the nightlife on Congress Street. To get an idea of how Tucsonans have fun — and to learn about what places not to miss — read on.

Fourth Avenue

Amanda Delgado | The Daily Wildcat

Hippie Gypsy, located on Fourth Avenue and 7th Street, is a local shop that sells bohemian themed clothing and items, along with some other unique goods. The building's iconic murals make it a recognizable landmark of Fourth Avenue.

Hippie Gypsy

Travel back to the 1960s by stepping into Hippie Gypsy for unique hippie-themed belts, candles, incense, clothing, blankets and more. Hippie Gypsy is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Located at 313 N. 4th Ave, the distinctive building decorated with groovy murals is hard to miss.

Mr. Heads Art Gallery and Bar

Grab a beer and relax at Mr. Heads Art Gallery and Bar. More than just a place for drinks, this spot offers live entertainment, local artwork, drink specials and karaoke nights. Also visit Fathead Glass, the glass-blowing studio connected to the bar. Mr. Heads is open every day from 1 p.m. to 2 a.m., and happy hour is offered all day on Sundays. Check it out at 513 N. 4th Ave, next to Dairy Queen.

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Brooklyn Pizza Company

Brooklyn Pizza Company offers the dynamic duo of pizza and beer. In 2016, Tucson Weekly voted it best pizzeria for whole pies and best place to grab just a slice. Pick up some hot wings, garlic knots, pasta and calzones to go with your pizza. Got a sweet tooth? Try their gelato, sorbetto or Italian ice. Brooklyn Pizza Company is open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with late night hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Located at 534 N. 4th Ave., the pizzeria is next to Sky Bar, an astronomy-themed bar with telescopes that’s open from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day.

The Hut

Escape the heat and visit the Tiki lounge at The Hut. This spot offers tropical cocktails and draft microbrews. Belt out your favorite songs at karaoke nights on Thursdays, or relax and listen to some live music on Saturdays. You can’t miss the giant Tiki head outside its location at 305 N. Fourth Ave.


Lindy’s on Fourth is a long-time staple of the Tucson community — it’s even been featured on Man vs. Food. The diner offers gourmet burgers like the Dirty Sanchez, featuring diced green chiles, jalapeños, pepper jack cheese and guacamole. Another option, the OMFG burger, is not for the faint at heart. It’s six half-pound patties stacked with a pound of cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions and sauce. And if you can finish the burger in 20 minutes or less, it’s free. The Burnout is the newest burger challenge; it includes ghost peppers, jalapeños and green chiles.

“[Tucson is] a small town where everybody knows each other,” said Kate Wheat, a part owner of Lindy’s. “We love being a part of that. We love being a part of the community, and we love to welcome people to join our community.”

Lindy’s is located at 500 N. Fourth Ave.


Ian Green | The Daily Wildcat

Hotel Congress, located downtown on the corner of Toole Avenue and Congress Street, remains a historic landmark and community hub of Tucson. Located across from the Rialto Theater, Hotel Congress houses new and local artists’ concert venues as well as a cafe and a handful of bars.

Hotel Congress

One of Tucson’s most historic buildings was built in 1919. Hotel Congress has withstood both fire and time — and is partially responsible for the capture of notorious bank robber John Dillinger. The third weekend each January, the hotel celebrates this piece of history with reenactments during Dillinger Days. Located at 311 E. Congress St., Hotel Congress is now famous for its live entertainment, Cup Café and Tiger’s Tap Room.

Rialto Theatre

The Rialto Theatre, one of Tucson’s premier concert venues located at 318 E. Congress St., was built in 1920. Back then, the Rialto had vaudeville shows every Wednesday. Today, concerts are held there every week. In fact, the Rialto is the main venue for popular shows in Tucson, having hosted artists such as Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino.

HUB Restaurant & Ice Creamery

The HUB is best known for its tasty cuisine and unique ice cream flavors. Across the street from the restaurant, you can visit its ice cream shop or grab a beer at Playground Tucson. All of the establishments are owned by Martin Drug Co. Located at 300 E. Congress St., the HUB is a must for Tucson newbies.

El Minuto Café

El Minuto Café is a historic family diner that opened in 1936. Zulema Salinas helps her grandmother, Rosalva Shaar, run the business. Juan Shaar, who was actually from Lebanon but loved Mexican food, decided to open a restaurant to share his love for the cuisine with others. El Minuto Café was originally located on Congress Street, but relocated to 354 S. Main Ave. because of Tucson Convention Center construction. The most popular dishes are the red chile con carne, enchiladas, cheese crisps and anything with carne seca.

“For my grandmother and mother, I know Tucson is special to them because of how long we’ve been able to stay a family owned business,” Salinas said. “We have customers who have just been coming for years, starting with their kids and some now with their grandkids.”

Main Gate Square

Brandi Walker | The Daily Wildcat

Illegal Pete's is one of several restaurants on University Boulevard that offers students a place to grab a bite or sit at the bar. Originally from Colorado, the Mexican restaurant has seen a lot of success since opening in 2015.

Illegal Pete’s

New to Main Gate Square, Illegal Pete’s has become one of the most popular gathering spots for UA students. Known for its tasty queso and early-morning breakfast burritos, this eatery also has one of the best happy hours in the area, starting at 3 p.m. and going until 8 p.m. daily with free chips and salsa included alongside purchase of a drink. The line for food may always seems long, but is definitely worth the wait. 

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Frog & Firkin

Frog & Firkin provides some of the best burgers, pizza and tots in town. This English-style pub, located at 874 E. University Blvd., has a wide selection of bottled beers as well as live music, a jukebox, pool tables and darts. The tavern is open for business from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. from Monday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Frog & Firkin is a great place for students to catch an Arizona game or grab a bite to eat.

Scented Leaf

If you feel like switching from coffee to tea, Scented Leaf Tea House and Lounge will win you over. Located at 943 E. University Blvd., this unique shop offers a variety of teas on tap, mixed drinks and pastries paired with a relaxing atmosphere for working on homework or hanging out with friends. What brings UA students coming back for more are the two 50-cent refills and a third “free-fill”. Scented Leaf has opened a second location at 308 E. Congress St.

Gentle Ben’s

For years, Gentle Ben’s has been serving the UA community with great food, drinks and dancing at 865 E. University Blvd. The restaurant welcomes all ages, and has a 21-and-over area upstairs. With large TVs and speakers, Gentle Ben’s is also a great spot to watch basketball and football games.

While the above list doesn’t include all of the noteworthy places in the heart of Tucson, it will give you a start. Grab a ride and go explore what other gems are out there waiting for you.

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