Empire Pizza and Pub.
Overall Rating B+
I’ve been on the proverbial hunt for what I call “the place” to hang out since arriving in Tucson several years ago. I know, I know, you are thinking that if I can’t find a cool place in Tucson I must be a bar snob or something. Before you indict me for bar and restaurant snobbery, let me qualify what I am looking for. In order to qualify for “the place” it need not be the cheapest, the cleanest, and it certainly doesn’t need a gimmick and for god sakes, NO THEMES. While I could give you a long list of honorable and not so honorable mentions here in Tucson, this article is about Empire Pizza and Pub and this is what happened.
We jumped on the Victory and headed towards Empire Pizza and Pub after reading a couple of positive reviews about it online. Plus, according to my wife, I am way hotter after a couple of slices, a beer or two, and a motorcycle ride. It’s true.
Empire Pizza is located on Congress and so we whipped into a parking spot and headed in. As you enter you’ll pass a few nothing to speak of metal tables and chairs on the outside, and then once inside you run right into the counter and kitchen.
If you didn’t know, you’d never think to go left down a narrow path by the pizza kitchen and keep going. If you do, you’ll be pleasantly rewarded by finding yourself standing in dark classically upscale dive bar.
And that is what I am looking for. A classically upscale dive bar that serves better than mediocre food, with real bartenders that can make a drink.
If the owner can add in reasonable prices, and make sure they have 32 degree Jagermeister on tap, AND DID I MENTION A BARTENDER that WANTS TO be a bartender and is happy to see me (even the first time), and a few interesting people to chat with; You’ve got me.
Oh yeah, and only because we are going into the realm of the positive qualities of a good dive bar, I’d like to not have to fight my way out of the place. Don’t get me wrong, I owned a bar for 14 years and if need be… how shall I put this…well let’s just say I am too old and far too lazy for that crap these days.
I like for the tables and the bar stools to not wobble and the bathroom to not smell too awful. I like to experience the kind of friendly where the bartender engages by being ready to pour you a drink or tab you out. Whatever you need man, just let them know. A place where less than 3 out of the 20 guys in it are wearing hair product. I want to see tattoos, boots, chicks with piercings and at least one person that looks like they don’t belong there that is not me. I like enough space to be comfortable but not enough to be able to get a full court basketball game going. If the place holds about 60 seated and 90 max, it’s my kind of bar.
So to get back to Empire, Really Good Pizza slices that are closer to thin style, wings that are delicious but consistently a little over cooked, excellent prices, really good drinks and bartenders, cool conversations and an eclectic interesting group of people hanging at the bar. Well there is that one creepy guy that keeps staring at my wife, but hey, she’s really beautiful and I think I can take him.
So yes, go, enjoy, repeat as necessary. I know I have been. They’ve got a rockin daily happy hour from 5 – 7pm where it appears damn near everything is included but you’ll need to check on that before ya order. Get there early because late arrivals will not find a seat.
Here is everything you need to know about them https://www.empirepizzapub.com/
P.S. They’ve got coupons at their website.