Driftwood Pub & Kitchen has closed as of February 2017. This post will remain on my website as a reminder of the good times we had together.
Dive bars tend to get a lot of love from people. Sometimes for reasons I don’t understand. Scroll through some Yelp reviews and you’ll find people who describe a dive bar as “disgusting” and consider that a compliment. Also they think being served by bitter, disaffected bartenders is somehow more authentic than someone who’s, like, nice to you?
While I definitely appreciate that many dive bars have cool regulars and strong drinks for cheap I never want to drink somewhere so divey that I have to worry about walking out with a staph infection. And I’m not the kind of guy who thinks a bar is great because the bartender with the hook for a hand pours your shitty light beers aggressively and visibly hates you for making him do his job. If I wanted to be openly resented for my heavy drinking by someone with anger issues I’d go back and ruin my ex-girlfriend’s mom’s funeral again.
It doesn’t matter if I’m at a brewery, a dive bar or a bro bar. I always want the same thing out of the experience: to unwind with good drinks, friendly people and mountains of my own self-loathing. Which is why I always approach any new dive bar with caution.
Driftwood Pub & Kitchen is on the East side of Tucson and I hesitated going in at first because it’s located in a windowless building that could easily be mistaken for a murder shack if it weren’t for the large, admittedly fancy sign out front.
I walked in wearing my usual outfit: a suit, tie and pocket square and looked a bit out of place from the rest of the casually-dressed customers. As expected there was a full bar and lots of bottled macrobrews but my mind was blown when I saw six taps pouring exclusively craft beer. They had mostly Arizona beer like Barrrio, Dragoon and Huss and the biggest name on tap was something from Sierra Nevada. I immediately thought it was a trap. The last time I asked for a craft beer at a dive bar the biker with a face tattoo sitting next to me was so offended that he ate his Coors Light bottle in a rage and tried to run me over with his Harley. INSIDE the fucking bar.
But when I saw another Driftwood customer order the Barrio Blonde I realized it was safe. I asked for the same and the very friendly bartender asked me if I wanted a menu. I was taken by surprise. The last time I asked for a menu at a dive bar the bartender handed me a cocktail napkin with the word “DICK” scribbled on it and told me I was in luck ’cause it was all-you-can-eat night.
But apparently Driftwood’s chefs take a lot of pride in their menu and the food is a major highlight at this place. They’ve got typical pub fare like burgers and fish & chips but, believe it or not, Driftwood has the best fish and shrimp tacos you’ll ever have. I’m a man whose heart sinks whenever I look at the measly seafood options available in Arizona but Taco Tuesdays at Driftwood are definitely worth the trip. And I didn’t even mention that they have bacon-wrapped wings.
Did you hear what I said, asshole? BACON-WRAPPED WINGS! Seriously, Bacon-wrapped wings are like if you took the movie Die Hard and then wrapped it around the movie Die Hard With A Vengeance.
And I haven’t even mentioned that everyone who works at this bar, including the owners and chefs, are super cool and nice and make you feel at home every time you come in. What’s your favorite neighborhood bar? Doesn’t matter, that place sucks compared to Driftwood. What’s your favorite bar food? Doesn’t matter, it all sucks compared to Driftwood’s grilled shrimp tacos with sweet chili lime sauce. Driftwood makes a point to always have craft beer on tap and they rotate their taps often enough that you’ll almost always find something new when you come in.
I started this blog to highlight Arizona breweries because there’s something special to me about drinking a beer right next to the tanks where it’s born. But when I find a place with great food and great people that’s dedicated to supporting the local craft beer scene, I can’t help but spread the word.
So what are you waiting for? Go down to Driftwood and tell them The Classy Alcoholic sent you. And if they tell you they had to bounce me last week because I got super hammered and tried to sexually assault their jukebox then, um, they must be talking about a different Classy Alcoholic ’cause I didn’t do that. Of course not.