Restaurant Guide–Tucson

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  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)

Tucson

Aqui Con El Nene–4415 N. Flowing Wells Rd. (Mexican) Open 10 am to 11 pm (closed Sun).  This is a food truck that serves Sonoran hot dogs that are supposed to be better than Guero Canelo and a lot cheaper (at $2.50 per hot dog it might be worth trying it to find out). Also has tacos. (Outside patio dining 6-19-20)

Beyond Bread–6260 E. Speedway Blvd. (Sandwiches) Open 7 am to 6 pm(8 pm Fri & Sat).  There are several locations around town. This seems to be the most recommended restaurant in Tucson by locals (I know from living in El Paso that you don’t necessarily want to eat Mexican food all the time). Bread is especially good and vegetarian options are recommended if you like this sort of thing. Reviewers say the soup is just OK. (Takeout and delivery only 6-19-20)

Cafe Poca Cosa–110 E. Pennington St. (Mexican) Closed Sun & Mon.  Mole is good, menu changes frequently. Food is upscale and very good. However the most expensive dishes (shrimp, etc.) do not give a good value for the money according to reviewers. This is “modern Mexican” and the menu changes daily-uses locally sourced fresh ingredients. (Temporarily closed 6-19-20)

Chef Alisah’s–5931 N. Oracle Rd. (Bosnian) Closed Mon (and closed from 1:30 to 5:30 pm).  Very good reviews and unusual items served (it is very similar to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean style). (Dining room is open 8-22-20)

China Phoenix–7090 N. Oracle Rd. (Chinese) Open daily until 9:30 pm.  Authentic Hong Kong style food (not Americanized). It’s mostly upscale and expensive (banquet style). I really enjoyed the items I tried. (Takeout only 8-22-20)

China Szechwan–1800 E. Fort Lowell Rd. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Sichuan style. Reviewers say they are in “Chinese food heaven” with the authentic Sichuanese menu here. (Takeout and delivery only 8-22-20)

Thai China Bistro–5121 E. Grant Rd. (Thai) Open daily except Sat lunch & Sun lunch.  Reviewers say get green, red, or masaman curry. (Takeout and delivery only 8-22-20)

Dao’s Tai Pan’s–446 N. Wilmot Rd. (Vietnamese) Open daily 10 am to 8 pm.  Flavorful Vietnamese that is a popular spot for the nearby hospital workers. Some reviewers say this is the best place in Tucson for bun (vermicelli bowls), while Miss Saigon has the best pho. Now has a location at 4206 N. 1st Ave. (Dining room is open 6-19-20)

El Charro–311 N. Court Ave. (Mexican) Open Daily.  Famous for its carne seca. (Dining room is open 8-22-20)

El Guero Canelo–5201 S. 12th Ave. (Mexican) Open daily (open to midnight on weekends).  Sonoran hot dogs. This is a regular restaurant (not a food cart) with seating that apparently looks like picnic tables. Not exactly fine dining, but people say these hot dogs are the best (and the condiments are quite good also). Additional locations at 2480 N. Oracle and 5802 E. 22nd St. (Takeout only 6-19-20)

Gee’s Garden–1145 N. Alvernon Way (Chinese) Open daily until 9 pm.  Authentic Cantonese–dim sum every day. (Temporarily closed 8-22-20)

Guilin Healthy Chinese–4445 E. Broadway Blvd. (Chinese) Open Daily.  I am not convinced it has anything but Americanized Chinese food, but it specializes in vegetarian and MSG free food (and supposedly is very good). With black bean sauce, curry tofu, and other interesting looking dishes, it may very well have authentic Chinese food. Note: they have a full menu of meat dishes, it’s just that you can get vegetarian if you want it. (Takeout only 8-22-20)

Ikkyu–2040 W. Orange Grove Rd. (Japanese) Open until 8 pm (closed Sun).  What stands out here is the ramen (many say this is the best dish). (Dining room is open 8-22-20)

Island Plate Lunch–5575 E. River Rd. (Hawaiian) Open 7 am to 7 pm (closed Mon and closes at 4 pm on Sun).  As the name implies it serves Hawaiian style lunches, but apparently it is luau style (a term I use to indicate it is fancier than the typical plate lunch restaurants). In any case, it looks as if it’s worth a try. (Some report that it is closed and some report that it moved, but the web site does not give a new address 8-22-20)

Jonathan’s Cork–6320 E. Tanque Verde Rd. (American) Dinner only (closed Sun). The owner is an expert New Orleans style chef, and the blackened prime rib he prepared was one of the best taste treats I have had (but it is by special request–it is not on the menu).  Steakhouse atmosphere, but has a variety of main dishes. (Dining room is open 6-19-20)

Jun Dynasty–2933 E. Grant Rd. (Chinese) Open Daily. Reviewers say this is authentic Sichuan style food. Pork with preserved vegetables, dumplings in red chile, water boiled fish, dry pot beef flank, kung pao. (Takeout only 8-22-20)

Old Peking–2522 E. Speedway Blvd. (Chinese) Open Daily. Apparently they have authentic food available–both Cantonese and Sichuanese. Food comes with MSG unless you ask them to omit it. Dishes here are more “home style” Chinese and reasonably priced. (Takeout only 8-22-20)

Poco and Mom’s–7000 E. Tanque Verde Rd. (New Mexican) Open 8 am to 9 pm (closed Mon).  New Mexican style food that most reviewers say is very good. The reviews on Yelp make me want to go, while some of the photos indicate that I should skip it (because of the color of the red and green chile). I know that it is hard to take good photos, though, so most likely I will try it. (Dining room is open 6-19-20)

Polish Cottage–4520 E. Broadway Blvd. (Polish) Open daily to 7 pm. Stuffed cabbage, reuben, apple pie & apple cake are recommended. Mixed reviews on the pierogi–some say they are not made in house and are not very good. (Dining room is open 6-19-20)

Sher-E Punjab–853 E. Grant Rd. (Indian) Closed Mon (closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  Good Indian food with a good selection of choices, and has a good spice level appropriate for Indian food for customers who order it this way. The naan is the biggest complaint here (but they say rice is good). (Takeout only 8-22-20)

The Quesadillas–2418 N. Craycroft Rd. (Mexican) Lunch only (closed Sun).  Yelp reviewers say this is one of the best Mexican restaurants in the city. Its best feature is the flavorful meats (al pastor, etc.). (Dining room is open 8-22-20)

Wildflower–7037 N. Oracle Rd. (New American) Open daily 11 am to 8 pm.  Excellent place for upscale dining (much like Jonathan’s Cork). Menu is less traditional than Jonathan’s, though. (Dining room is open 6-19-20)

Zemam’s–2731 E. Broadway Blvd. (Ethiopian) Closed Mon & Tue.  Can get a very good vegetarian meal. Also at 119 E. Speedway Blvd. (Takeout only at Broadway location; Speedway location is temporarily closed 8-22-20)

 

Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

 

Sources:

Chowhound (Tucson)

City-Data (Best Mexican Restaurants in Tucson)

City-Data (Tucson eats)

e-Gullet (Tucson eats)

Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (Tucson)

Zomato (Tucson)

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