READERS' PICK: The Shelter is famous for its dark atmosphere, black velvet paintings and other kitsch dedicated to the Kennedys and other famous 60s personae. Witness the just-as-dated vintage pinball machine and booths. But what grabs the eye when you take a seat at the Shelter's bar are the huge ashtrays awaiting any ash deposit that you or the next chain smokin' barfly has to offer. That's right, The Shelter is an establishment that caters to smokers. In fact, with trays of this dimension and attraction, they pretty much insist on it! But wait, there's more! If you're of the cigar-smoking ilk, you're welcome to puff away while you enjoy the atmosphere that only The Shelter can provide. Make a trip down tonight; they've got a stool or booth with your name on it!
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: The Buffet, 538 E. Ninth St. More so than any other establishment in Tucson, the Buffet looks like the basement kegroom of a frathouse. This is a good thing. In fact, the only thing connecting the disparate crowd that frequents The Buffet is the fact that they have done their time in said kegrooms. From cherub-faced newbies in Morrissey-hairdos and white turtlenecks to grimy old mugs (wasn't he the dude who bummed 50 cents off you to "fix his car" on your way in?), The Buffet attracts 'em all. The Buffet's special something makes it a haven for everyone from hipster-than-thous to last-ditch players who should just give up and put an ad in the personals. The Buffet is a place where smoking is a given, not an extra. The bartenders emptied our ashtray more often than they refilled our drinks, which is saying a lot. (Props, guys.) Here, you can watch ESPN on one television and Amaerica's Greatest Ski Fatalities on the other. The people who attend The Buffet write not Nietzche quotes, not Beck lyrics, but their names on the wall. The more mathematically ept amongst them may put the date as well, but that's probably the height of pretension you'll find at The Buffet. Old and young alike, the people are here to hit and be hit upon. (One dude tried to pick up a girl with the old "So a skeleton walks into a bar and sez, 'get me a beer and a mop.'" joke.) You wanna know what type of place The Buffet is? The only beer on tap is Coors. Word is bond. If that doesn't say enough, you should go to a bar with the word "Le" in its name.