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Posted by on Jan 24, 2016 | 73 comments

8 Great Restaurants to Try in Tucson

I am not done with Tucson.

Let me clarify.

I am not done talking about the food scene in Tucson.

Last week, I described how I ate the town on a food tour.  But, let’s be honest.  The tour lasted 4 hours.  I was there five days.

Therefore, it is easy to assume I ate way more than what was presented in last week’s post.

And, let me tell, we had an incredibly delicious food related ride under the Arizonian sun.  I had plans to spend the last night of the trip somewhere else.  Plans were changed and we made it back to Tucson to have one last meal before returning to California.

As I have already mentioned, Tucson is more than Mexican food. If you want to satiate your Mexican cravings, this is the place to do it.  If on the other hand, you want to enjoy eclectic and varied options, this is the place to do it too.

Now, without further ado, here are 8 places you should try in Tucson.

The Cup Café

Our food adventures started on Christmas Day.  We loaded the car with food because we knew the eating options were going to be limited.

Once we arrived to Tucson, we drove to Downtown and parked in the street.  I just got off the car when I saw “The Christmas Menu” on a window. Turns out we parked in front of the historic Hotel Congress and its restaurant, The Cup Café, was serving lunch and dinner.

Hotel Congress, Tucson, Arizona

My husband had the cast iron baked eggs and I had the Cubano sandwich.

The Cup Cafe, Tucson, Arizona

We finish out meal with a chocolate mousse cake.

The Cup Cafe, Tucson, Arizona

This is a great place to have creative entrees and old-style desserts.

Nook

I almost gave up on Nook because we walked like three times in front of it and we couldn’t see it.  I am glad we kept searching for it because the food was delicious.  This New American establishment is known for its inventive dishes.

I had the hanger steak with eggs and chimichurri sauce.

Nook, Tucson, Arizona

My husband had the huevos rancheros.  He liked them so much that he wanted to order another plate.  I had to stop him.

Nook, Tucson, Arizona

We also had a side of griddle cakes.

Nook, Tucson, Arizona

Prep & Pastry

Please, do me a favor.  Do not leave Tucson without going to Prep & Pastry.  You are going to thank me later.

The place is a little afar from Downtown but that shouldn’t stop you from going. First, the décor is gorgeous and the service is impeccable.

Prep & Pastry, Tucson, Arizona

Second, their house made pastries are creative and delicious.  If you do not want to wait for a table, you can sit in the counter area and have a pastry and coffee.

We had the churro donut with cream cheese frosting.

Prep & Pastry, Tucson, Arizona

For breakfast, I had the French toast with berries and vanilla whipped cream.

Prep & Pastry, Tucson, Arizona

My husband had two eggs, bacon, potatoes and toast.

Prep & Pastry, Tucson, Arizona

I can’t stop recommending this place.

Bobo’s Restaurant

This is the most famous greasy spoon in town.  Their breakfasts are huge and dirty cheap.  In addition, it opens at 5:30 a.m., a rarity in Tucson (looks like breakfast places open at 8 or 9).

I had the corned hash and eggs.  My husband ordered steak and eggs.

Bobo's, Tucson, Arizona

Bobo's, Tucson, Arizona

We made a mistake though.  We ordered two pancakes and ended up with monster cakes! Those things were bigger than my head.  So, order with care even though you feel like eating the entire menu.

Pizzeria Bianco

This pizzeria, which started in Phoenix, is kind of a big deal. Its pies have been rated the best in the United States by several prestigious publications.  Its creator, Chef Chris Bianco, has won a James Beard Award and the admiration of its peers.

Since I have heard about this place so much, I had to try it.  The best part is that in Tucson you basically walk and get a table right away.  In Phoenix, you may have to wait hours to eat in there.

Pizza Bianco, Tucson, Arizona

The pizza is prepared in a wood oven and it is very thin (Bianco has studied pizza making in Italy).  I liked what I had but to be honest, I wasn’t impressed.  I have had other pizzas that have pleased more my palate.  Anyway, I still think it is a very good place to eat.

Pizza Bianco, Tucson, Arizona

Proper

Full disclosure: I only had appetizers at Proper.  Judging for what I had, I am pretty sure the food in here is great.

We ordered the Prop Prop Wings (garlic, sesame seed and cilantro) and the House Board (cheese, chicken pate, parmesan lavosh, figs, grain mustard and pickled vegetables).

Proper, Tucson, Arizona

 

Proper, Tucson, Arizona

Everything was tasty and fresh. Service was fantastic.

El Guero Canelo

There is one dish that can be considered Tucson’s emblem: the Sonora dog.  It consists of a hot dog wrapped in bacon, served in a soft bolillo and topped with pinto beans, pico de mayo and mayo. It is one of those things that explode with flavor in your mouth.

Most sources tell you that El Guero Canelo has the best Sonora dogs in town.  I couldn’t resist. I had to try this treat.

El Guero Canelo, Tucson, Arizona

Here is the thing, I was disappointed.  So disappointed that I felt bad.  Not sure if there was something wrong with the particular location we visited but the hot dog tasted bland to me.  We tried the famous carne asada too.  Same story.

Why then I am including this place on the list?  Mainly, because I want to bring your attention to the Sonora dog.  Try it for yourself or try to find a better version of it on other establishments.

Maynards Market and Kitchen

This was my least favorite restaurant in Tucson.  It is a shame since the place is located at the historic Train Depot.  You can see the trains zooming by as you dine (so exciting!).

My whole problem was with the server.  I felt a hostile and uptight attitude when I was given the menu.  I really wanted to stand up and leave since there is no reason to stay on a place where you are not welcomed.  After a moment, I recognized it was rude to leave.

We decided to order appetizers and move on.  We decided for the poutine topped with duck confit, roasted duck gravy and cracklings.

Maynards Kitchen, Tucson, Arizona

We also got the chef’s board (three cheeses, two cured meats, quince paste, house-made mustard, pickled vegetables, seasonal fruit).

Maynards Kitchen, Tucson, Arizona

My experience does not take merit from the quality of the food.

Bonus: Santiago’s in Bisbee

Bisbee is a small mining town located about 90 miles from Tucson.  If you are road tripping around the area, Santiago’s is a great place to get your Mexican fix.

I ordered a sampling containing a fish taco, a chilorio taco and an enmolada.  Ah, it was so good!

IMG_0319

My husband ordered the fajitas and those were great too.  I feel so happy when restaurants get Mexican food right.

IMG_0321

What do you think of Tucson’s food scene?

Ready to pin? Let’s do this!

Eight must try restaurants in Tucson, Arizona. You will love any of these.

73 Comments

  1. yum! you make feel hungry now! That pizzeria feels very very promising!I also share your feelings about Bobo’s…I had a similar experience on Saturday when I went for brunch!
    Anna recently posted..Brunch at Monsieur Barbu, AthensMy Profile

    • The pizza place was really good. Wish I had time to go back. I love to go to brunch. There is always something delicious to try.

    • Thanks! I think you do not need a lot of words to describe a place. You either like it or not. Plus, I will always give my honest opinion. I am not sure which will be my next destination. So far this year we have been a weekend in Baja California and another in San Diego. We ate very well during those two trips.

  2. My gosh, everything looks good. I’ve only been to Phoenix, AZ, but that was a long time ago. I’m a foodie myself and I’m quite adventurous in terms of food. Thank you for sharing. I’d love to visit Tucson one day.

    • I love when people who love food stop by. It feels good to share a bit of the effort locals are putting into revitalizing certain parts of the city.

  3. My goodness, you’ve made my mouth water! My favorite would be the chocolate mousse cake. All the breakfast foods (French toast!) look so yummy, too. What a fun way to experience Tucson!
    Sharon recently posted..Fun at the Dog ParkMy Profile

    • That mousse cake tasted like heaven after the 7 hours drive from Los Angeles. I devoured all my food in minutes.

  4. Wowowow, I’m so impressed by how much you guys ate in 5 days! I’m absolutely drooling over Prep and Pastry. Churro donut and berries French toast! A good French toast is one of my favorite American breakfast items! I can’t wait to see what you come up with next week!
    Anna recently posted..Fawned of NaraMy Profile

    • Well, it is worst since I was in the area five days and from those 3 were in Tucson. So, we ate what you see in here plus the stuff on the food tour in 3 days. I spent weeks reading where to eat.

    • I am a French toast fanatic. Sometimes, I have to tell myself to try something different for breakfast.

  5. The pancakes look great, but the baked eggs look amazing. But then, I’m a fool for breakfast.
    Driller’s Place recently posted..Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

    • I need to have my breakfast too. And, I think I need it more when I am traveling. Sightseeing can be tiring, so, I need special energy ;0)

    • That is a true statement. I already want to go back to try new places. Some were closed because of the season.

    • I am happy to live close to fish taco heaven. It is what we tend to eat the most for Taco Tuesday.

  6. Wow, some of that looks glutinous and over the top and then some of it makes me miss America and all the tasty gluttony.

    • Hello Brooke, I guess you can say that. I know here in the United States portions tend to be bigger than in other countries. With that said, the portions on all the restaurants in here (except for Bobo’s) were very manageable (I do not think they were exaggerated). Let me also say that my husband and I are not into wasting food. We eat what we order (we usually do not order appetizers, additional salads or soups). If we cannot eat it, we take it home and eat it later.

  7. YUM!!! You make everything look so delicious and enticing. Now I want to turn every adventure into a food trip. I should brush up on my food photography, though. 🙂

    • Liz, my husband is my travel partner. We like different things, so, our travels have to revolve around things that we both enjoy. Since both of us enjoy food, we try to be adventurous on that area. I also need to improve my food photography skills.

    • That is funny. Imagine how many pounds I would gain since I am checking pictures of food every day (it is Instagram’s fault).

  8. Tuscan looks delicious! Nook and Prep & Pastry make me the most hungry, plus your tacos at Santiago’s.
    Karen recently posted..Impressions of BangkokMy Profile

    • Those were my favorite places. Wish I can go back.

    • I still have hope. I am sure a good Sonora dog will cross my way one day. I saw a guy selling them on the streets. I pretty sure those were the real deal.

  9. Wow… loved the food tour of Tucson! Great photos!

    • Thanks! Nice to see you liked it.

    • My husband is turning into a baked and Benedict eggs fanatic. I think I have like a 100 photos of eggs on those styles.

  10. Wow! It seems to me you were on a quest to discovering great places to eat in Arizona and you did. Your post made me really hungry! I’ve experienced some great restaurants in Scottsdale, but I’ve never been in Tucson. Those cast iron fried eggs look really yummy!
    Anda recently posted..20 Amazing Photos From HawaiiMy Profile

    • Arizona has not dissapointed me in terms of food. Previously, I have eaten very well in Sedona, Jerome and Prescott. This week I read an awesome post about Scottsdale restaurants. I that is where I am going next.

    • That is a good way to put things in perspective. I think I had the best food stories in the office after the holiday break.

  11. That chocolate mousse cake looked absolutely delicious! Tucson is a place I’d love to visit, as I’ve seen a lot of photos of the architecture there and once I get over to the US I’ll definitely have to explore these restaurants too. – Tasha
    Natasha recently posted..Sunsets on the HorizonMy Profile

    • You are right! Tucson is a place full of beautiful buildings and interesting history. I will post more about the city later.

    • Thanks Rhonda. hope you find something delicious to eat ;0)

  12. Oh my goodness Ruth, you’ve done it again! Such great photos of all your delicious meals in Tucson. I think my favourite is the french toast with berries – mmmmmmm! 🙂

    • it doesn’t hurt lo learn about certain places. Y never know where you are going to end.

  13. First, it’s not quite 7 a.m. and I HAD to get something to eat. I got hungry just looking at your photos.
    Okay, so now that I’m not as hungry, I can read your reviews. I’ve not been to Tucson and didn’t realize you could get such a good variety of Mexican food. I’m impressed and will have to make a trip. Every plate looks delicious and fresh.
    So, Ruth, did you do anything else in Tucson besides eat? Lol, not that there’s anything wrong with that!
    Marcia recently posted..On Location in New York CityMy Profile

    • Marcia, believe me, we did a lot of things. I justify the eating by saying I needed the energy for all the activities we had planned.

      • Rob, I have been to all the places you have mentioned in here and they are great. I think small towns in Arizona are the real deal.

    • Oh, you are going to have a blast in the area. What other places are you visiting?

  14. Oh my, they all look so GOOOOOD!!!! I’m starving now!! #TravelTuesday

    • At least, we can say you are starving for a good reason.

  15. I had no idea that Tucson was such a foodie place! TBH I don’t know much about Tucson other than it being a University town. It looks like a few days are in order though to eat your way properly through this city!
    Shobha recently posted..Five Reasons to Visit Bologna with KidsMy Profile

    • I wasn’t expecting so much in terms of food to be honest. And, I have to tell you, we didn’t have any of the popular eateries near the university because we didn’t have time. A couple of days are needed in order to try several places.

  16. I don’t even know where to start. Yes I do: BOBO’S! So not fancy but so great. Down the street is another breakfast institution, Mother Hubbard’s – same sort of place and super early hours, too. The Cup, El Guerro Canelo…oh heck…I want to just gonna pack up and move back to Tucson! 🙂
    RobRob@TravelLatte(.net) recently posted..ICYMI – This week in Travel News (29 January 2016)My Profile

    • Thanks for the the recommendation. And, thanks for actually recommending a place that opens early. We like to eat before going out to explore. We had problems finding those places in Tucson.

    • Believe it or not, those are quesadillas made from blue corn tortillas. I think that was the best part of the dish (my husband gave me one).

  17. My son just loves Pizza, he is becoming quite the pizza connoisseur. I think we would have to visit the pizzeria and add our rating 😉
    Sally@Toddlers on Tour recently posted..Arm Chair Travel #1My Profile

    • Then, Tucson is the place for him. There are so many pizza places that is hard to chose where to eat.

  18. Oh my goodness, so much fantastic good! Sounds like Tucson is a great place for foodies…and very honest reviews of the restaurants – extremely helpful..I hate places where there’s bad service! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    • Thanks! I will always tell the truth in here. With all the competition, businesses should now that bad service makes them look bad.

  19. Note to self: never read food roundups just before lunch! I never would have pegged Tucson as a place for anything but Mexican food, but this all looks amazing! I’d positively waddle after a week there!
    Rachel Heller recently posted..Citizenship MattersMy Profile

    • I love Mexican food but I am happy Tucson is more than that. It shows how hard work and a good product (or service or offering) pays.

  20. Yet again you have me droooooling! Breakfast foods are my favorite and these pictures are killing me! I seriously want that french toast. Right. Now!

    • I love my breakfasts too! Feels so good when you find a place where they have all your favorites and they even improve them.

  21. Aaaaah – I think I’ll have to start writing food blogs! Your photos are great and I really like your comments, too. This all looks delicious. And as usual, I’m now hungry…

    • That would be nice. I am sure you have a lot of great food during your trips.

    • Where do you lived? To me, Arizona is great in terms of food. Tucson was awesome but other places in the state are great too.

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