The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

88° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


A book-lovers guide to Tucson

Bill Mason, Cat Tran Driver (Brown hair) Dennis Cady, Cat Tran Driver (black and white striped shirt) AJ Dowgiert, Cat Tran Driver (Plaid/Checkered Shirt)

Coming to a new city is what one makes of it. Despite its large size, Tucson is the quintessential “small town” that reflects the uniqueness of the people who reside in it. Book lovers, coffee lovers and people lovers can always find a unique spot to grab a book, read the paper or just sit and chat with a friend at these eclectic gems around the city.

Café Passé

Located on Fourth Avenue and Seventh Street, Café Passé is a charming coffeehouse that takes one out of the bustle of the thoroughfare and into a softly lit shop always full of students working, reading or chatting with friends, acquaintances or professors.

In the back is a shaded garden with several seating areas that are great during cooler weather. Students can camp out at the quaint wooden tables to do work, or sit by the bar where freshly made coffees are always high quality.

Additionally, the café features art from students at the university, which Jessie Marman, a visual communications senior, says she loves.

“Passé is such a great space,” Marman said. “Aside from the quality drinks and amazing backyard patio, they also exhibit local artists. As a B.F.A. student, it’s a really enjoyable experience getting to see the work of classmates hanging on Passé’s walls.”

Epic Café

Located on the corner of Fourth Avenue and University Boulevard, it is easy to walk past the small coffee shop and bakery. However, inside there are walls covered with bright and unique graffiti, soft couches surrounding low coffee tables and hand-crafted coffees along with pastries and baked goods made fresh daily by the café’s in-house baker.

During the day, families can be found bringing their kids in for a quick bite. During their late-night hours, students can be found slouched over textbooks or working on laptops in the back of the shop, which features a slightly quieter atmosphere.

Jameelah Kollere, a barista at Epic, says the café accommodates its patrons in every way it can, even keeping the music relaxed or low during finals week for students to work. One of its unique items is the Prickly Pear Lemonade, which is made fresh from Epic Café’sown garden.

A truly unique spot, Kollere describes Epic as “artsy, eclectic and free-loving.”

Espresso Art Café

Espresso Art Café is a coffee shop unlike any other. In the front is a coffee shop that serves hand-made coffees and a full shisha menu. Patrons can order a variety of hookah flavors, most of which are unique creations put together by the staff at Espresso Art. In the back of the café is a full bar, with lush velvet seating and a rich atmosphere. Espresso features live music, eclectic art and tables that double as chess boards for students to use. If you stop by, try to find the portrait of Albert Einstein holding an orange ice-cream cone.

During the day, Espresso is bright and airy; the prefect spot to read quietly by the large open windows or chat with a friend over coffee. In the evenings, the bar is packed, and live shows ranging from musicians to belly dancers wielding Arabian swords are free to enjoy.

“The ambience definitely sets us apart,” said Moria James, a barista at Espresso Art. “There’s something really unique and different here that you can’t find in any of the other shops in Tucson. From the frequent patrons, to the drinks we serve, to the decor—it’s just different.”

Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

With a location on Speedway Boulevard as well as on Grant Road, Bookmans has expanded from a one-store location in Tucson to Mesa, Phoenix and Flagstaff.

Bookmans is a bookstore that features much more than books. Musical instruments, sheet music, CDs, records, antique household items and collectable items are all sold and exchanged here. The Tucson business has several large tables, comfy chairs and meeting rooms where people can sit and read.

The store also offers many monthly events including author readings, gaming competitions and live music. Rebecca Vallenger, web editor and social media manager for Bookmans, describes the store as a “third place” where people can find a relaxed atmosphere to meet with friends outside of home or work. A staple in Tucson since 1976, Vallenger said the success of the store comes from its ties to the community.

“I think that Bookmans and the community are so integrated at this point—exactly the way the founder envisioned [the store,] as that third place for people,” she said.

The Book Stop

Located on Fourth Avenue, The Book Stop is a place to get books, and only books. For book lovers who don’t want the distractions of a busy shop, The Book Stop is a no-nonsense solution. Patrons can browse through the quiet store, and buy and trade books. Claire Fellows, co-owner of The Book Stop, said despite a formal reading space, she encounters “people that can sometimes spend hours” looking through the store’s general stock.

Antigone Books

Also on Fourth Avenue is Antigone Books, a bookstore that loosely resembles Barnes and Noble in its stock. Antigone is a great place to find gifts, notebooks and brand-new books. While some of their items may be a bit pricier, the shop is friendly and open, and has a large kids’ section.

Cartel Coffee Lab

With one location on Campbell Avenue and another downtown, on Broadway Boulevard, Cartel has set itself up as a hip, unique spot in Tucson.

Although Cartel has locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe, the coffee shop has kept its unique style and flavors. Cartel not only grinds their own coffee, they also brew their own beer.

The location on Campbell is larger, with a wide-open space filled by long tables with barstools, which almost always host students working on laptops. With bicycles hanging from the ceilings and recycled light fixtures, Cartel provides an atmosphere that is as comfortable as it is eclectic. Their macchiato is especially good, served Italian-style with a strong brew and rich foam in a small glass cup.

The Cup Café at Hotel Congress

Located in downtown Tucson, Hotel Congress is a mix of several venues. It holds a hotel, concert stage, bar and café. The hotel incorporates all its components seamlessly and is neither cramped nor loud.

In the back of Hotel Congress is a large outdoor patio, which is great during the early mornings to enjoy a cup of coffee with a book. During the evening, the café becomes much busier, featuring live acoustic music on the weekends and turning into a full 21-and-up bar after 9 p.m. Their coffee is excellent, and is served all hours of the day and night.

More to Discover
Activate Search