Snakes and Lattes: Not Your Typical “Restaurant”

December 2, 2022

Being the most recent addition to the corporate chain, Snakes and Lattes Tucson is unlike any of the other seven restaurants that share its name. Originating in Toronto, Canada, Snakes and Lattes is the “first and biggest board game bar and restaurant in North America.” While it may not be a local small business, bar manager Wesley Kirvan describes the University Boulevard location as “the odd child of the corporate chain.” 

Opening on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, Snakes and Lattes brought its one-of-a-kind atmosphere to the University of Arizona’s college town. Located right next to Cost Cutters and across the street from Scented Leaf, the bright neon yellow sign reading “Snakes and Lattes” is something you can’t miss when walking or driving along University. Hearing about Snakes and Lattes through my friends who had previously attended, the fun and comforting atmosphere sounded like something I needed to experience for myself. 

My first experience

When I first met with Wesley and the general manager, Christina Umfress, I was unsure of what to expect. Within seconds of being there, I was instantly greeted with an embracing and free-spirited energy. From the background conversations and laughter to the kind and helpful employees, I immediately knew this place was one in which you could relax and wind down without any judgment. Before even getting a single question in, Wesley offered me a self-made caramel latte on the house, which was one of the best lattes I’ve had in a while. 

Coming in with a list full of questions I planned to ask about the establishment and its purpose, the conversation ended up being about half an hour long as the topic of personal lives, passions, and interests was brought up. Within the personable conversation, Westley explained to me the enjoyment of seeing regular customers, his passion for meeting new people, the fun he sees at each table, and much more about the place he considers more than just his job. It was so easy to converse with Wesley, and I left the establishment feeling ecstatic and excited that I had not only met a nice, down-to-earth person but that I had also discovered a new comfortable yet entertaining place to hang out off-campus. 

So, what’s it like?

 Although it appears to be a typical restaurant from the outside, the unique experiences begin once you step inside and immediately feel the eccentric energy of the place through its modern, 21st-century interior design. From the wooden tables and chairs to the fun chalkboard-inspired wallpaper, it’s easy to tell that they are catering towards their audience of college students and making their environment feel like a warm, welcoming, and comforting place. This vibe is conveyed not only through the interior but also through their extensive college-student catered and location-specific menu.

Whether it be a quick little snack like the nachos or a homemade meal like grilled cheese and tomato soup, every item was hand-chosen by the managers of the Tucson location and made fresh by the chefs—in a kitchen that doesn’t even own a microwave! Furthermore, their bar menu doesn’t just cater to alcohol. In addition to popular cocktails like their Monstrous Mule and Lemon Drop Martini, they have over 20 different flavors you can choose from to create your own caffeinated beverage. Whether it be a Lavender Flavored Latte or an Espresso Martini, the personable bartenders satisfy any and every thirsty need.


So what exactly makes this place different from any other restaurant in the college town of Tucson? Well, that would be the board game library, home to hundreds of classic and new board games. Employees that specialize in the games, known as “Game Experts,” aid in helping you pick out the perfect game for you and whatever company you’re with. From drinking games like Bad People or Tattoo Stories to iconic oldies like Shoots and Ladders or Monopoly, this location gives you the opportunity to interact, make memories, and genuinely socialize with your company. What’s even better though? Board games aren’t the only entertainment offered. Every third Sunday of every month, “Drag Queen Bingo” is hosted in the establishment, as well as random themed trivia nights. Employees participate and dress in theme, turning this already incredible experience into an unforgettable one. While I personally have yet to experience these nights for myself, I hope to sometime soon!

Coming back

Returning a few days later, I decided to experience the place as any other customer would. Taking the trek to University at around 7:30 at night, my friends and I easily found a seat and got comfortable. Not shortly then after, we were greeted joyfully by our waiter, who also had some glasses of water. After giving us a moment to look at the menu, via QR code, and set up our laptops as we planned to get some work done, he then came back and took our order. In between cracking jokes and exchanging the contents of our day, we made the difficult decision and ordered the tater tots, caesar salad, rice bowl, and our waiter’s recommendation, which were the “must try” nachos. While waiting for food, we decided to start the “simple” game of Monopoly. The night went on, filled with laughter, competitiveness, great service, and not to forget the amazing food. I left with my friends in my ears, saying how much fun they had and how we had to go back. 

When asked about what they want customers to feel when leaving, Wesley stated that he hopes “everyone can have a one-of-a-kind experience and feel comfortable enough to stay as long as they want,” and I can absolutely say that each and every time I have indeed left with this feeling. Even after overstaying an extra 20 minutes to finish the game of Monopoly, there was no rush or negative energy from any of the employees; in fact, they were just as invested in our game as we were. 


Snakes and Lattes is the place to go if you want a good bite of comfort food, a place to hang out with friends, or even just a place to study and relax. It feels like home, and having access to it in this college town is ideal for anyone who needs that comforting and welcoming feeling, not just college students. Snakes and Lattes was an amazing find and a fantastic experience for me, and it will definitely be a frequently visited place during my time at the University of Arizona. I highly recommend Snakes and Lattes with their unique atmosphere to anyone and everyone in the Tucson area, and I hope they find their experience just as intriguing and memorable as I did.

For further information or interest, check out their website and social media platforms!




Azalia McKasson is a freshman at the University of Arizona, majoring in Chemistry.