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What are your favorite places to eat in Tucson?

September 20, 2010

This isn’t as much a post as reconnaissance.  I want to know your secrets – what do you, dear readers, think are some of Tucson’s hidden culinary gems?  They don’t even have to be all that hidden – I’m just looking for new places to scope out, and I don’t want to just start working my way through the phonebook.  What is the first restaurant listed in my actual paper phone book, you ask?  A Great Location at 20 N. Sarnoff.

So what do you think?  Where should I go?  What should I try?  Tucson is a really spread out place, so I’m sure my horizons are ripe for expansion!

Just leave me a comment down below and let me know.

Thanks, Tucson!  You’re the collective bomb.

Added about 1 hour after original post: Wow!  Thanks to everyone for the great response!  I totally stand by my collective bomb comment above.  If you don’t see the comments, click the post title up there.  That’ll take you to the page with the good stuff.


23 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2010 10:06 pm

    Miss Siagon at the Ina/I10 location, behind the equipment rental place and fast food joints in front of Motel 6. The location is horrendus but the food is fanstastic, Try the appetizer #15, the chicken bun and the soups.

    For DimSum try China Phoenix oracle / Ina in the Safeway shopping center. Sat/Sun only 10 to 3 pm.

    Indian try Saffron on Oracle just south of Magee.

    • September 20, 2010 10:26 pm

      Hiya Sheri!

      I’m a fan of Saffron – in fact I got to interview Saffron’s owner Mintu Sareen when I guest hosted On the Menu…Live! a few months ago. He’s a nice guy, and makes great food! If you’re ever in a hurry and down by U of A, his family also owns Kababeque in Main Gate Square on University. It’s a little different menu, but still good stuff!

      Speaking of UA, I work right by the other Miss Saigon location at Speedway & Campbell. I just haven’t made it up to their other location. Have you been to the central one, and if so how do you think it compares?

      I looove Dim Sum but I’ve never been to China Phoenix. I’ll have to try them out some weekend soon!

      Thanks for letting me know about your faves!


  2. sherry permalink
    September 20, 2010 10:22 pm

    New york pizza, broadway & camino seco. good pizza crust and cheap beer.

    • September 20, 2010 10:29 pm

      Hi Sherry

      Good pizza AND cheap beer – that’s a winning combination anytime! Maybe I’ll have to do a side-by-side comparison with Venice Pizzeria next time I’m out that far east. Have you ever tried Venice? I just got a comment on another post that they’re really good!

      Thanks for letting me know about New York Pizza!


      • ScottE permalink
        September 21, 2010 7:32 am

        Well, it was over 10 years ago, but I witnessed a baby being changed on the kitchen counter at NY Pizza. Thankfully I just had a bottled beer and no food. Maybe they’re more sanitary these days, but….

        I’m partial these days to all the non-Mexican Latin joints around town, El Coqui on 22nd, Cilantros’s Columbian on S Park, the Guatemalan place on 4th. I mourn the loss of El Cubanito on 6th.

  3. September 20, 2010 10:38 pm

    I’ve got a few that we’ve really enjoyed:

    1) LaBotana Grill
    NE corner of 1st / Ft. Lowell.
    Pros: Great food, terrific specials, sweet deals, decent patio, free wifi.
    Cons: No the nicest view from the patio.

    2) Leo’s Mexican
    SE corner of Speedway / Rosemont
    Pros: Excellent food, terrific enchiladas mole, engaging owner.
    Cons: Intimate atmosphere, no patio, no free wifi.

    3) Frankie’s South Philly Cheesesteaks
    East side of Campbell between Grant / Glenn
    Pros: Delicious/Authentic Philly-style cheesesteaks, free wifi, friendly atmosphere, engaging owner.
    Cons: No patio.

    • September 20, 2010 10:46 pm

      Thanks, Ted!

      La Botana has been on my list for a while. In fact I came SO close to stopping there after not being able to get near Five Guys on Friday. Next time they’re in!

      Is Leo’s on the SW corner at that intersection? Where the Verizon store is? Mole is one of my favorite treats (that I don’t get to have nearly as often as I want), so that’s plenty to get me there.

      You know, I went to Frankie’s once and had kind of a negative experience there so I usually go back to East Coast Super Subs on Park for my cheesesteak fix. I may have to give them another try based on your recommendation, though.

      I appreciate the extra details like website and pro/con lists – thanks for sharing your favorites and being so thorough!


      • September 20, 2010 10:58 pm

        Click that link for Leo’s.
        It’s kind of in a “shady” location, right next to Ten’s Showclub, just behind a Circle K. =/

        I’ll have to try East Coast Super Subs. I’m always willing to try a new sub shop!
        The lady who took my order today at Frankie’s remembered my name! So I thought that was cool.

      • September 20, 2010 11:16 pm

        Ah, yes. Now I know where Leo’s is (because of the Circle K, of course).

        If you ever want to hit up East Coast, let me know. I’m always down for a sub!


  4. Colleen K. permalink
    September 20, 2010 10:38 pm

    Yoshimatsu Healthy Japanese
    Lotus Garden
    Blue Willow
    Brushfire BBQ
    Seoul Kitchen

    • September 20, 2010 10:57 pm

      Colleen, that’s a diverse list!

      I’ve been to Yoshimatsu, Lotus Garden, Brushfire, and Seoul Kitchen and enjoyed all of them (some multiple times!).

      I don’t want to bash on a place you like enough to include in your list, but I sort of feel like Blue Willow has let their quality and service slide over the years. I know they’re a local institution and people love, love, love them, but there you go. It’s been a few years since I’ve been there, though, so what do you like best about them?

      My main question, though, is what is Zanya’s?? Ok, that’s not really a valid question since I just looked them up, but I had never even heard of them. Looking at their Urbanspoon reviews, they sound great! I’ll have to give them a try – thanks for mentioning them!

      And thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!


  5. Kerry permalink
    September 20, 2010 10:43 pm

    Zachary’s Pizza on 6th – take it home on a Sunday night
    Maynards for dinner on a weekend
    The pool at the AZ Inn on a Sunday morning
    Create Cafe’s curry chicken sandwich
    Cheese crisp from Club 21

    • September 20, 2010 11:06 pm


      It’s great of you to reply!

      I’m totally down with Zachary’s. Oddly enough I’ve got sentimental ties to that place, and even mentioned them as one of my three favorite pizza places in an older post….digging around…. here it is:

      The one time I had ‘dinner’ at Maynards it wasn’t really dinner. If I remember right, it was mostly french fries (but they were good!). You’ll have to ask Kristine about that evening…

      Now for my confessions: I’ve never been to Create Cafe or Club 21. Create is off my beaten path, but I’ll have to make it over to them. Did you know they tweet coupons daily? They’re @createcafe. As for Club 21, for some reason they’ve always scared me. I’ll take your including them on your list to mean that they’re not scary!

      Thanks for letting me in on your faves!


      • October 1, 2010 11:38 pm

        Hey Kevin,

        I’ve only made it over to Create once, with my preschooler. I was really under impressed by the kid’s meal and by my burger, but I love being able to take my kid to a casual dining place at lunch time that serves beer and caters some to families.

        ps. can’t believe I’m just finding your blog now. Hope you and yours are well.

  6. September 20, 2010 10:51 pm

    I am sure you have definitely been to El Guero Canelo, but I have to tell you to try their burro’s if you have not! Most people talk about their sonora dogs which of course are great but i’m telling you, those burritos are the best thing on the menu- in Tucson! Other places i recommend: Anita st. Market, Pats chili dogs, Time market.

    • September 20, 2010 11:13 pm

      Hi Gina!

      We’re on the same wavelength. I usually get a burro from El Guero Canelo. I should also be ashamed to mention this, but I also usually get a caramelo to go along with it. Those things are so simple it’s ridiculous but they’re super-good – have you tried them?

      It’s hard not to love Anita St. Market with their fresh hot tortillas. I used to work with Davis Bilingual Magnet School, so when I’d go there I’d buy tortillas and just sit in the car and eat them. Totally decadent! I so wish my metabolism was like it was back then…

      And it’s not easy to beat the value of Pat’s family pack of dogs & fries!

      Thanks, Gina. Now I’m reallllly hungry. :0


      • September 21, 2010 6:03 pm

        Yes, I have tried a caramelo, don’t feel too bad, I ate half my friends caramelo along with my burro on my last visit! I guess we have the same taste! I live in barrio anita so I have LOTS of Anita st. market tortillas at my house- melt in your mouth good! The burritos they make there are really good too, the nachos are like nacho’s you would get at a baseball game but there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion!

  7. September 21, 2010 9:04 am

    Hey food dude, two of the editors of Arizona Gourmet Living love love love Zayna’s Mediterranean and Le Buzz Cafe, both located in the Safeway plaza at Tanque Verde and Catalina Highway. Zayna’s offers some great combo plates, and Le Buzz does this terrific cup of soup, half sandwich, and small side salad plate.

    I’m also going to throw a word in for Mosaic Cafe, made famous for their huevos rancheros, but I personally think they’ve got the best chicken tortilla soup. Delightfully light and fresh.

  8. Cat permalink
    September 21, 2010 9:46 am

    We like Viro’s Italian Bakery, Monkey Burger (who, coincidentally, uses rolls from Viro’s, although you probably already knew that!), Frankie’s, Mama’s Pizza, Baggin’s, to name a few. Then there’s Acacia @ St. Phillips, which we love but can’t afford to go there very often, guess that’s why they call it “fine dining”!

  9. September 21, 2010 12:33 pm

    My first thought is Le Delice French Bakery & Bistro on Tanque Verde across from Udall Park. Delicious well made authentic french country fare and not overly expensive. And great pastries & desserts too.

  10. September 23, 2010 9:42 am

    We love pizza at Pizzaria Vivace. Dim Sum at China Phoenix is fabulous although I can’t bring myself to eat the chicken feet (even though my husband insists they are quite tasty). Amerinos was delicious with great service during a visit not too long ago. And, for many reasons, I am partial to the Bamboo Club with my current favorite dish being the Miso Chilean Sea Bass. Divine. I could think of more but I am now hungry and have to go…

  11. Tasha permalink
    October 14, 2010 7:23 am

    Grimaldi’s Pizza.

    As a native New Yorker the original location in Brooklyn is what I compare ALL pizza to. When I visit home, Grimaldi’s is always on my itinerary. There simply is no comparison here in Atlanta.
    Now while I haven’t been to the location in Tucson I know that Grimaldi’s has gone to huge lengths to recreate their pizza in Arizona. They’ve hand built their coal fired oven and have hired a chemist to recreate “New York water”. With that kind of dedication, I can see why they’ve been open since 1905 (In Brooklyn).

    We will be relocating to Tucson early next year and my first stop will be to Grimaldi’s. So if you do decide to visit let me know. I hope that the Arizona locations can stand up to the original.

    Happy eating.

    • October 14, 2010 8:01 am

      Hi Tasha –

      Thanks for leaving your comment! I’ve been to the Grimaldi’s here; in fact, it’s about a 1/2 mile down the street from where I work. I can’t say how it compares to the Brooklyn’s Grimaldi’s, but it was very good. It was different from any other pizza I think I’ve had – that coal-fired oven really does something to the crust.

      For me, the standouts were the white & pesto pizzas. Both very, very good. I’d be interested to hear how you think the Tucson location stacks up against the original once you get here.

      I hope your relocation goes smoothly, and thanks for stopping by!


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