The Tap Room
311 E. Congress St., Tucson
HOURS: Daily 11 a.m.–2 a.m.
This cramped old bar (it has been around since 1919) still packs them in, especially when there’s a band playing at Club Congress, to which The Tap Room serves as a kind of hideout from the crush and noise. But if you belly-up here of an afternoon, or on a slow midweek night, you’ll notice the details: the retro booths and stools; the scratchy juke in the corner; and especially the cowboy-life art of Pete Martinez, one of several lauded Western artists who once called Tucson home.
Martinez, who lived in Tucson from 1935 until his death in 1971, was neighbor to the painter and illustrator Maynard Dixon and friend to Ted DeGrazia, and he reportedly spent a good deal of his time drinking at The Tap Room. Martinez’s art can be seen on the bar’s walls. People always used to say that he would from time to time trade his work for his drinks, and that’s how they got there. But the management says that’s just a rumor, and that the artist gifted the paintings to his favorite bar.
© Tim Hull from Moon Tucson, 1st Edition