Tucson’s legendary Buffet Bar will celebrate its 80th anniversary on Nov. 1. As the oldest bar in the city, it’s still clinging to its reputation as a UA hangout.
But The Buffet’s 80 years makes it a teenager alongside the state’s granddaddy of historic bars, Prescott’s Palace Restaurant & Saloon. From Tombstone to Jerome, Arizona has bars and saloons that predate statehood and beyond.
Some of those bars have been rebuilt after fires while others stand as straight as they did when they were first built. But every crack, splinter and nail tells a story in these Arizona landmarks. Here are a few of them.
Palace Restaurant & Saloon – 1877
120 S. Montezuma St., Prescott, AZ 86303
When its doors opened in September 1877, The Palace Restaurant & Saloon was much more than just a “watering hole.” It served as election central for several local political races and the place where men gathered to check for job notices. Mineral claims could be brought in and sold over the bar, according to the website.
On July 14, 1900, the bar caught fire in the famous Whiskey Row blaze. Patrons carried the original 1880s Brunswick bar top to safety in a nearby plaza. When The Palace was remodeled after the fire, they resurrected the bar, which is still in use today.
The only other major remodel was in 1996, said the office manager Hillary Joyner. Office Manager for The Palace.
“It took a lot to get the kitchen back to how it was,” she said.
Among the historic footnotes and notable residents: Doc Holliday took up residence at the saloon in the late 1870s after going on a poker winning streak. President Theodore Roosevelt stopped in in 1907 when he was in Prescott commissioning the Bucky O’Neil statue. O’Neil, a captain in the Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, died in battle.
Crystal Palace Saloon – 1879
436 East Allen St., Tombstone, AZ 85638
The Crystal Palace Saloon opened in 1879 as the Golden Eagle Brewing Company, one of Tombstone’s first saloons. Two years later, the bar was damaged in the July 22, 1881, fire that blazed through much of the Old West town. The Golden Eagle escaped relatively unscathed but wasn’t so lucky the following year when another fire swept through and completely destroyed the bar. It was quickly rebuilt and renamed The Crystal Palace Saloon.
Drift Inn Saloon – 1902
636 N. Broad St., Globe, AZ 85501
The Drift Inn Saloon opened in 1902 and has remained open since. The only thing that has changed has been the name. The saloon has a reputation as being haunted including by an old man and a girl who occupies the space that used to be a brothel.
“The ghosts, they were either customers or workers here,” said Barbara Loy, a bartender.
Loy has been going to the Drift Inn since she was 19, and has been working there for about 20 years.
The Drift Inn Saloon is most famous for its Bloody Marys, but they still “have your bourbon, your whiskey, all the drinks. We’re a full bar,” Loy said.
St Elmo Bar – 1902
36 Brewery Ave., Bisbee, AZ 85603
St. Elmo Bar in Bisbee opened in 1902 and is the longest, continuously operating bar in the state. St. Elmo Bar had a brothel upstairs and the bar downstairs. It also shared ghost stories with neighboring Bisbee hotels and restaurants.
The Buffet – 1934
538 E. 9th St., Tucson, AZ, 85705
Located in Tucson’s historic Ironhorse neighborhood, The Buffet sits just as tall as it did when it opened on Nov. 1, 1934, just after the repeal of prohibition.
The Buffet is known for heating hot dogs in a coffee pot and serving pickled eggs as bar food.
Malcolm Fuller is a reporter at Arizona Sonora News, a service from the University of Arizona. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @malcolmfuller.