Your Guide To 43 Downtown Tucson Restaurants

Last modified on August 17th, 2017 at 9:33 am

Ever wonder if you’re missing out on a hot new restaurant or just aren’t aware of a cool, hidden spot?

Below is a list of various restaurants located around downtown Tucson. From authentic Mexican cuisine to local cafés and coffee shops, each restaurant offers a unique atmosphere with diverse menus and experiences.

Whether you just want to pop into a café for a hot drink or enjoy a sit-down dinner with your significant other, downtown has a lot to offer.

47 Scott

47 N. Scott Ave
Chicken and Waffles 47 Scott Brunch (Photo Credit: 47 Scott)

Chicken and Waffles 47 Scott Brunch (Photo Credit: 47 Scott)

What does 47 Scott bring to the table? Quintessential American comfort foods combined with high quality ingredients and a cozy, brick decor make for the perfect night out. Mac & Cheese and Steak Frites are just two dishes easy to find in many restaurants, but not the way 47 Scott does them. Pair their menu with an extensive drink list and you’ve got yourself quite the get together spot with family and friends.

Favorite Items:

  • Hot Chicken and Waffles – Hot, spicy peanut oil-fried chicken breast, buttermilk waffle,  100% Grade A Maple Syrup
  • Mussels and Pommes Frites – Steamed muscles, andouille sausage, white wine and garlic clam broth, red pepper aioli, grilled baguette, peanut oil-fried kennebec potatoes

For more information, visit 47 Scott.

Agustín Kitchen

100 S. Avenida del Convento
Agustin Kitchen (Photo Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Agustin Kitchen (Photo Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Take the streetcar to its final stop and you will arrive at Agustin Kitchen, a modern American restaurant with classic french techniques. Relish over a menu of Brûléed Local Goat Cheese, Oysters, and homemade Gelato in their bright and open dining space. After your meal walk around the Mercado San Agustin courtyard and enjoy the nearby shops.

Highlighted Items:

  • Baby Spinach Salad – Candied pecans, apple, blue cheese, B.K.W Farms wheat, honey vinegar 
  • Cast Iron Seared Diver Scallops – Celeriac risotto, house lardons, brussel hash 

For more information, visit Agustin Kitchen.

Alejandro’s Cafe

31 N Scott Ave
Alejandro's Cafe (Photo Credit: Sarah Pelfini)

Alejandro’s Cafe (Photo Credit: Sarah Pelfini)

Alejandro’s Cafe offers classic Mexican fare in the heart of downtown and promises to give the best bang for your buck. Menu items include Enchiladas and Pozole Soup, made with pork shoulder, chiles and hominy corn. Make sure to come in for the lunch time specials costing less than six dollars on most days of the week.

Standout Items: 

  • Eggs Scrambled with Chorizo – Served with beans, tortilla, lettuce, tomato and cucumber
  • Chile Relleno and Beef Taco Served with beans, tortilla, lettuce, tomato and cucumber
  • Carne Seco Tosada – Topped with lettuce, tomato, cheese, cucumber, salsa

For more information, visit Alejandro’s Cafe.

Baggin’s

33 N. Stone Ave
Baggin's (Photo Credit: Baggin's)

Baggin’s (Photo Credit: Baggin’s)

Baggin’s has been bringing sandwiches with a kick of southwestern flavor since 1984, and continues to provide lunchtime favorites for on-the-go customers. While you’re downtown don’t forget to try one of their specialty sandwiches like the Unforgettable Baggin’s or indulge in a grilled creation like the Southwestern Tuna.

Favorite Sandwiches: 

  • The Cowboy – Grilled chicken breast, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato and homemade ranch dressing on an eight inch roll
  • Southwestern Tuna – Grilled tuna, jalapeños, cheddar cheese, tomatoes on sour dough
  • Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese – Perfectly melted cheddar cheese, cream cheese, chopped jalapenos on Italian white bread

For more information, visit Baggin’s.

Barrio Brewing Co.

800 E. 16th St.
Hola Hefeweizen from Barrio Brewing (Photo credit: Barrio Brewing)

Hola Hefeweizen from Barrio Brewing (Photo credit: Barrio Brewing)

Barrio Brewing Co. offers a range of house-made microbrews, including Taylor Jayne’s Raspberry Ale and the well known Barrio Blonde. Enjoy your favorite beer with classic pub food, including their Beer Sponges, two soft pretzels served with beer mustard. Make sure to try the Barrio Blanco IPA, while you nosh on a warm pretzel.

Popular Items:

  • Potato Skins –Five potato skins loaded with cheddar and monterey jack cheese, bacon, and scallions, served with a side of buttermilk ranch.
  • Pub Fried Fish Tacos – Lightly battered and flash fried cod in fresh flour tortillas with cabbage, fresh pico de gallo and habanero cream sauce, served with Charro beans.
  • The White Out Burger–Sweet white onions deglazed in white balsamic vinegar and crowned with aged Wisconsin sharp white cheddar cheese.

For more information, visit Barrio Brewing.

Batch Cafe & Bar

118 E. Congress St.
Donuts at Batch Cafe & Bar (Credit: Batch Cafe & Bar)

Donuts at Batch Cafe & Bar (Credit: Batch Cafe & Bar)

Batch certainly isn’t your typical craft cocktail bar. Opened in January 2016, Batch is known for its whiskey and doughnuts. They have no fancy mixers, but instead, just whiskey and bourbon. For their doughnuts, their creativity is key. They have unusual doughnuts, such as Pink Blueberry with Fruity Pebbles.

Go-To Items:

  • The OGD – Glazed donut, sharp cheddar cheese
  • Hot Fudge Doughnut – Vanilla ice cream, candied nuts, whipped cream, hot fudge, cherries

For more information, visit Batch Cafe & Bar.

Cafe 54

54 E. Pennington St.
Cafe 54 vegetables (Photo Credit:Cafe 54)

Cafe 54 vegetables (Photo Credit:Cafe 54)

Located in Tucson’s art district, Cafe 54 is the perfect spot to grab a quick bite for lunch. It also serves as more than just a restaurant by offering “a unique employment training program for adults recovering from mental illnesses.” Menu items include salads, veggie burgers, Gyros, and Flat Breads. Make sure to try the desert of the day!

Highlighted Lunch Items: 

  • Turkey BLT – Turkey breast, center-cut bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo and swiss cheese on grilled white or wheat bread
  • The Hero’s Gyro – Tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, tzatziki sauce wrapped in a toasted pita. Choice of gyro beef, all natural grilled chicken breast or marinated baked tofu

For more information, visit Cafe 54.

Cafe a La C’Art

150 N. Main Ave
(Credit: Jackie Tran)

(Credit: Jackie Tran)

Café à la C’Art provides a memorable experience for its customers with a close attention to detail and Southwest Cuisine menu items. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this café provides specialties like Green Eggs and Ham and Parmesan Crusted Turkey Croissant. You’ll feel like you’re at home in this quaint, country-style café surrounded by a patio covered in mosaic.

Go-To Items: 

  • The Rothschild – Wine-braised beef brisket, roasted red peppers, chipotle aïoli, melted pepperjack, toasted kaiser
  • Chicken Prosciutto – Provolone, oven cured tomatoes, olive tapenade, arugula, toasted ciabatta

For more information, visit Café à la C’Art.

Caffé Milano

46 W. Congress St.
Caffe Milano (Credit: Caffe Milano)

Caffe Milano (Credit: Caffe Milano)

Looking to take a trip to a quaint cafe in the heart of Italy? Caffe Milano will transport you in time with the help of chef Fulvia Steffenone. After establishing her own school of haute cuisine in Italy, Fulvia brought her art of cooking to Tucson. Sample from a range of Italian dishes including, Veal Scaloppine, homemade Tiramisu, and tomato, basil and mozzarella Bruschetta.

Featured Items:

  • pollo al marsala – Lightly floured and pan-sauteed chicken breast in Marsala cream sauce with garden peas
  • Spaghetti allo Scoglio – Shrimp, mussels, clams, sea scallops in  a spicy tomato sauce over spaghetti
  • Fragole al Limoncello – Strawberries with limoncello, ice cream and whipped cream

For more information, visit Caffe Milano.

Cafe Poca Cosa

110 E. Pennington St.
Chicken mole on the patio at Cafe Poca Cosa (Credit: Cafe Poca Cosa)

Chicken mole on the patio at Cafe Poca Cosa (Credit: Cafe Poca Cosa)

Cafe Poca Cosa offers “imaginative” cuisine highlighting different regions in Mexico. The menu changes twice throughout the day, providing customers with a unique experience each time they come in. Look out for a portable chalkboard menu that is brought to every table highlighting what chef and owner Suzana Davila is featuring for the night.

  • Menu items rotates twice daily, stop by to experience the cuisine. 

For more information, visit Cafe Poca Cosa.

Casa Vicente

375 S. Stone Ave
Casa Vincente (Photo Credit- Casa Vincente)

Casa Vincente (Photo Credit- Casa Vincente)

Another tapas spot makes it on our list. Casa Vicente’s Spanish-style dinners, wine and live music will leave you feeling like you are in Madrid. The menu feature small plates of Spanish chorizo, pork scallopini, lamb chops, mussels, jumbo shrimp, and Paella, a traditional rice dish with various meats, seafood, or vegetables. Don’t forget to bring your friends and your dancing shoes!

Favorite Tapas Items:

  • Queso Manchego con Uvas– Classic sliced Manchego cheese (from La Mancha) served with grapes
  • Pato Sol y Sombra – Duck breast flambéed with brandy and anis served over couscous

For more information, visit Casa Vicente.

Charro Steak

188 E. Broadway Blvd
New York Strip Steak en Estillo Charro at Charro Steak (Credit: Jackie Tran)

New York Strip Steak en Estillo Charro at Charro Steak (Credit: Jackie Tran)

If Charro Steak sounds familiar to you, it is.

Ran by the famous Flores family of El Charro restaurants, Charro Steak is the family’s take on a Sonoran steakhouse. Don’t expect Charro Steak to be anything like Fleming’s, Outback Steakhouse, or Pinnacle Peak. The ranch-to-table meats provide an outstanding local experience.

For more information, visit Charro Steak.

The Hotel Congress’s Cup Cafe

311 E. Congress St. 
Branzino at Cup Cafe (Photo Credit: Cup Cafe)

Branzino at Cup Cafe (Photo Credit: Cup Cafe)

Cup Cafe offers a full bar and dining room with features like a, Build Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar and Omelet Bar. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Cup Café’s menu offers items from their Tofu Scramble to Pan Seared Ruby Trout. Enjoy brunch after a long night dancing and enjoying live entertainment at Club Congress.

Standout Items: 

  • Cast Iron Baked Eggs – Two eggs, ham, leeks, and gruyère cheese, baked in cream and  fines herbes, with hotel potatoes, toast
  • Heartbreaker Warm goat milk’s brie, artichokes, harvest berry jam, roasted garlic, fresh apple, with crostini

For more information, visit Cup Cafe

Cushing Street Bar & Restaurant

198 W. Cushing St.
Cushing Street Bar and Restaurant (Credit: Wikimedia)

Cushing Street Bar and Restaurant (Credit: Wikimedia)

Cushing Street dates back to 1860’s, with historic furnishings and original walls made of mud and straw. Their menu items include flavorful fare such as the Sueño Burger with fresh roasted green chiles, bacon, and Swiss cheese. Every Saturday a Cool Jazz Band fills the restaurant with vibrant music and brings back memories of early Tucson.

Menu Items: 

  • Grilled Shrimp Quesadilla – Roasted Poblanos, and garlic sour cream
  •  Homemade Chocolate Mousse Parfait 

For more information, visit Cushing Street.

Diablo Burger

312 E. Congress St.
Señor Smoke from Diablo Burger (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Señor Smoke from Diablo Burger (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Diablo Burger offers burgers that are made from “100% local, grass-fed, open-range raised, antibiotic-free, and growth-hormone-free beef”. Not only are these burger good on the conscious, but good for the appetite as well. Burgers such as the Monk and Big Daddy Kane, Diablo Burger are standouts on the menu. Don’t pass up on a side of their fries with a variety of delicious sauces!

Noteworthy burgers:

  • Señor Smoke – ancho grilled onions, grilled avocado, bacon, cilantro & sriracha mayo
  • Big Daddy Kane – Bacon, sharp cheddar, sliced pickles and a house made special sauce
  • DB House – blackening spice, homemade pesto, topped with an over-easy fried egg

For more information, visit Diablo Burger

Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails

135 S. 6th Ave
Oaxacan fries with mole at Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Oaxacan fries with mole at Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Downtown Kitchen and Cocktails delivers an especially unique dining experience. Menu items change seasonally and are inspired by flavors ranging from Asia to Latin America. Tantalize your senses with Bacon and Cabbage Stuffed Rainbow Trout and a Dark Chocolate and Jalapeño Ice Cream Sundae. Great for group gatherings to enjoy specialty cuisine and drinks!

Must-Try Items: 

  • Marinated Lamb Barbacoa – Stewed Peruano beans with bacon, achiote vinaigrette, jicama, pineapple, red onion, cilantro salad
  • Chocolate Cajeta Torte – Flour-less chocolate cake, vanilla bean mousse, chocolate sauce, Oaxcan peanut brittle

For more information, visit Downtown Kitchen

El Charro Cafe

311 N. Court Ave
Carne Seca Burro at El Charro on Court Avenue (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Carne Seca Burro at El Charro on Court Avenue (Credit: Jackie Tran)

El Charro is the nation’s oldest Mexican restaurant, featuring award-winning recipes like their Banderas Enchiladas and Hand-Made Chicken Tomatillos Tamales. The colorful and historic atmosphere provides an authentic Mexican experience; just order their special ¡Cerveza-Rita! and you’ll be dancing on the tables in no time!

Standout Items: 

  • Queso Fundido Melt – Queso and crema with roasted corn and chips
  • Vegetarian Enchilada– Calabacitas, avocado, roasted poblano peppers baked with cheese, sour cream with grilled fajita vegetable
  • Carlotta’s Clásico Chicken Mole–The chef’s famous chicken mole recipe served with rice and pinto beans stewed with bacon and vegetables
 For more information, visit El Charro.

El Minuto Cafe

354 S. Main Ave
Carne asada burro from El Minuto Cafe (Photo Credit: Jackie Tran)

Carne asada burro from El Minuto Cafe (Photo Credit: Jackie Tran)

El Minuto Cafe has been serving Fine Mexican Food since 1939 in the original Barrio Viejo. This local, authentic restaurant offers items like Shredded Beef Chimichangas and their Combination Plate with a beef taco, tamale, cheese enchilada and beans. After your meal, take a walk around the historic  neighborhood and take in the colorful homes and scenery.

Mouthwatering Items:

  • Cheese Crisp–Topped with tomato, onion and green chilies
  • Topopo Salad – Bean tosada, chicken, lettuce avocado and cheese
  • Breaded Fried Shrimp –Served with rice and beans

For more information, visit El Minuto.

Elliott’s On Congress

135 E. Congress St.
Bacon cheeseburger w/ buffalo chicken pasta salad (Photo Credit: Elliots)

Bacon cheeseburger w/ buffalo chicken pasta salad (Photo Credit: Elliott’ss)

Elliott’s is an American restaurant that provides a relaxing ambience and great food to match. The eatery features a fully stocked bar with house-infused specialty vodkas, sporting flavors from basil to key lime. There is even Chocolate Covered Bacon, and fried PB&J’s. It is safe to say Elliot’s is nothing short of an experience.

Must-Try Items:

  • Jalapeno Boats – Jalapenos baked with a mix of cream cheese, cheddar, shrimp and bacon. topped with a drizzle of sweet agave
  • Deep Fried PB&J – Deep fried peanut butter and jelly pocket, accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream

For more information, visit Elliot’s

Elvira’s

256 E. Congress St.
Mole pipian rojo at Elvira's Restaurant in Tucson (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Mole pipian rojo at Elvira’s Restaurant in Tucson (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The up-scale Mexican restaurant Elvira’s expanded from their Tubac location and opened their second location in Tucson. The beautiful space features contemporary interpretations of Latin cuisine. Expect to see complex moles, Caribbean and Thai fusions, and tequila, lots of tequila.

Highlighted Tubac Menu Items:

  • Grilled Founder – Served with a fresh salsa fresca of mango, cilantro, onion and lime
  • Rib-eye Tamarindo – Grilled rib-eye smothered in a tamarind and chipotle sauce served with rice and vegetables
  • Caribbean Treat – Flamed bananas with Captain Morgan rum butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts over vanilla ice cream

For more information, visit Elvira’s.

Empire Pizza & Pub

137 E. Congress St.
Pizza from Empire (Credit: Empire Pizza & Pub)

Pizza from Empire (Credit: Empire Pizza & Pub)

Empire is a pizza joint with TV’s, a jukebox and the atmosphere of a classic style bar. They serve Authentic NY Style Pizza, Salad, wings and dessert. If you spend your weekends dancing into the wee hours of the night, don’t worry they are open until 3 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Empire is the perfect place to enjoy a late night slice of pizza downtown!

Favorite Pies:

  • Blanco – White pizza with ricotta cheese, garlic and mozzarella
  • Bensonhurst – Pepperoni, Canadian bacon, meatball and Italian sausage
  • Chelsea –Mushroom, green pepper, onion, black olive and garlic

For more information, visit Empire Pizza.

Fired Pie  

350 E. Congress St.
Fired Pie (Photo Credit: Fired Pie)

Fired Pie (Photo Credit: Fired Pie)

If you want a customized pizza or are just eating on-the-go, come to Fired Pie and build your own original pizza and salad creation. Choose from a list of ingredients including, steak, capicola, fresh basil and oregano. If you have room for dessert make sure to try their warm chocolate chip pizookie with vanilla ice cream.

Pre-Constructed Options:  

  • Steak and Blu– Mozzarella, thin sliced steak, mushroom, peppers, onion, and gorgonzola
  • Spicy Southwest Salad –Mixed greens, chicken, tortilla chips, roasted peppers, onions, olives, jalapeño, cilantro, mozzarella, chipotle ranch dressing
  • Fired Pookie–Fired chocolate chip cookie dough topped with vanilla bean ice cream

For more information, visit Fired Pie.

HiFi Kitchen & Cocktails

345 E. Congress
Hi Fi Kitchen and Cocktails (Credit: Hi Fi Kitchen and Cocktails)

Hi Fi Kitchen and Cocktails (Credit: Hi Fi Kitchen and Cocktails)

Club by night, restaurant by day, Hi Fi Kitchen and Cocktails provides an open atmosphere and huge patio in a highly stylized setting. You’ll want to get there semi-early if the club scene isn’t your cup of tea. But it is definitely a great place to sit and people watch while enjoying elevated pub food such as adult milkshakes and burgers.

Highlighted Lunch Items:

  • Cuban Sandwich – Slow roasted pork, ham, pickle, swiss, mustard and mayo on toasted ciabatta
  • Sunny Side Burger – Applewood smoked bacon, vine ripened tomatos, shredded lettuce, fried egg
  • S’mores Milkshake–Marshmallow vodka, graham cracker crumbles, marshmallow, chocolate syrup, whipped cream

For more information, visit Hi Fi Kitchen and Cocktails

Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery

266 E. Congress St.
Pastrami & Rye at Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery

Pastrami & Rye at Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery

Hub offers brunch, lunch, dinner, but most importantly, homemade ice cream. This loft-feel surrounded with brick walls and unique décor offers a dark, intimate ambiance in the evening. They serve menu items such as Corned Beef Hash and Chicken Pot Pie. End your meal with creamy, homemade ice-cream in unique flavors like Oatmeal Cookie Dough and Spiced Cider.

Favorite Items:

  • Shrimp and Grits – Cheddar grits, pearl onion, peas, red bells, carrots, portobello, spicy tomato broth and parmesan
  • New York Steak –Horseradish smashed potato and brussel sprouts with a smoked tomato compound butter
  • Bourbon Almond Brittle Ice Cream –Vanilla bean ice cream, Makers Mark, and house-made almond brittle candy

For more information, visit Hub.

Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market

11 S. 6th Ave.
Deli at Johnny Gibson's Downtown Market

Deli at Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market

Johnny Gibson’s Market provides customers with an affordable breadth of items from tasty sandwiches to local cheese to a forgotten toothbrush. With an emphasis on locally sourcing produce, make sure to sample their variety of baked goods, deli offerings, fresh seafood, ice cream, and a wide selection of craft beer.

Standout Sandwiches:

  • Wildcat – Turkey, herb cream cheese, avocado, onion bacon spread, onion, lettuce tomato
  • Roasted Veggie– Poblano, red pepper, hummus, onion, blistered tomatoes, mozzarella and choice of spread
  • Ham-Onion-Mustard– Grilled onion, honey mustard, arugula

For more information, visit Johnny Gibson’s Market

La Cocina

201 N. Court Ave
Brunch at La Cocina (Credit: La Cocina)

Brunch at La Cocina (Credit: La Cocina)

La Cocina is known as “Tucson’s Venue with a Menu”. Dig into one of their fresh, healthy dishes like the Quinoa Bowl with Braised Spinach and Roasted Vegetables. With a courtyard surrounded by plants, string lights, and candles, you’ll be sure to enjoy a refreshing experience for brunch, lunch and dinner.

Standout Dinner Items: 

  • Polenta Fries –Topped with parmesan and served with remoulade
  • Southwestern Pot Roast –Sirloin braised in a red wine gravy with onions, potatoes, and carrots, topped with a chile relleno and corn tortilla
  • Lemon Caper Penne  House smoked salmon or grilled chicken breast, lemon caper cream sauce, parmesan, and roasted red peppers

For more information, visit La Cocina.

Little Cafe Poca Cosa (The Little One)

151 N. Stone Ave
Pork and Rice at Little Poca Cosa (Credit: Stu Spivack)

Pork and Rice at Little Poca Cosa (Credit: Stu Spivack)

Little Cafe Poca Cosa (The Little One) is considered “the tiny restaurant with a big heart”. Sister to the big Café Poca Cosa, this casual setting offers an experience you’ll never forget. The best part about this one is that you won’t leave without a hug and a kiss! But make sure to bring cash, as cards are not accepted.

Must-try Items:

  • Vegetarian Chile Rellenos – Green Anaheim chile stuffed with cheese and lightly pan fried. smothered in tomato based salsa ranchera
  • Quesadillas Con Pollo en Mole Negro –Two corn tortilla quesadillas stuffed with meted Monterey Jack cheese and topped with chicken mole
  • Cochinito Crema De Chipotle –Tender pork slow roasted in a creamy, spicy smoked chipotle sauce

For more information, visit Little Cafe Poca Cosa.

Maynards Market & Kitchen

400 N. Toole Ave
Duck Confit Panini from Maynards Market Spring Menu

Duck Confit Panini from Maynards Market Spring Menu

Maynards is a light, airy market where you can buy a variety of food, drinks, and other goods. This intimate area features a deli, coffee bar, bakery, and provides food such as Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins and Truffled Egg Salad. Maynards also features a small retail section where you can purchase items from vendors around the Tucson area.

Lunch Time Favorites:

  • Duck Confit Panini –Duck, arugula, fig spread, pickled fennel, herb mayo, on sourdough
  • Smoked Brisket Po’Boy –Braised beef brisket, gravy, pickled red onions, white cheddar, tomatoes, horseradish mayo, and bibb lettuce on a baguette
  • Gila Monster – Southwestern meatloaf with corn, green chili, poblano mayo, caramelized onions, white cheddar, on sourdough

For more information, visit Maynards.

Nook

1 E. Congress St.
The Godfather Benedict at Nook

The Godfather Benedict at Nook

Nook promises a kick in the morning with their menu of Cinnamon Roll Griddle Cakes, Maple Belly Benedict and Avocado Toast. Tucson’s vibrant personality is translated into their urban interpretations of home cooked food. If you are in a rush, don’t forget about their Grab and Go Delivery service, which will bring you your favorite items in 30 minutes or less in the downtown area.

Tasty Brunch Bites: 

For more information, visit Nook.

OBON Sushi + Bar + Ramen

350 E Congress St. 
Rainbow Poke Bowl at OBON Sushi + Bar + Ramen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Rainbow Poke Bowl at OBON Sushi + Bar + Ramen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Whether you are coming in for a quick bite during a night out, dinner with friends, or stopping by for lunch, OBON is a must-try. Named after the vibrant Japanese celebration of family and life, Brandon Katz hopes to bring a taste of Japan to Tucson. The menu offers everything from small plates of Soft Shell Crab with hafu sauce to Bulgogi Ribeye Steak, bento box lunch specials, an extensive sushi menu, ramen, and steam buns. 

Standout Items:

For more information, visit Obon Sushi.

Penca Restaurante

50 E. Broadway Blvd
Grouper with mole verde at Penca Restaurante (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Grouper with mole verde at Penca Restaurante (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Penca offers upscale Mexico City Cuisine and an extensive bar with international cocktails. Enjoy a variety of tasty bites within their modern and cozy space with old wood and brick surrounded walls. Menu items include Ceviche and Tacos and a Guacamole Board, with queso fresco, pico de gallo and tomatillo salsa.

Specialty Tacos:

  • Cabeza Taco –Wine braised beef cheek, onion, cilantro, salsa verde and fresh radish
  • Nopales Taco –Grilled prickly pear cactus, onion, cilantro and queso fresco
  • Pescado – Seared cod, cabbage, pico de gallo, avocado and chipotle crema

For more information, visit Penca.

Pie Bird Bakery & Cafe

177 N. Church Ave
Pie Bird Pitaya Bowl (Photo Credit: Tucson Foodie)

Pie Bird Pitaya Bowl (Photo Credit: Tucson Foodie)

Pie Bird Bakery and Cafe will transport you into your grandmother’s kitchen with a delectable menu of freshly baked pastries, fresh fruit, Pitaya Bowls and homemade Quiche. Decorated like a kitchen from the 1950’s, enjoy a quick breakfast before work, or a weekend brunch with friends. Located in the Transamerica Building, don’t forget to check out this quaint dining experience.

Breakfast Options:

  • Oatmeal – Oats steamed in coconut and almond milk, topped with a peach pecan crumble
  • Ham and Swiss Quiche – Ham and swiss cheese wrapped in a homemade crust, with a fresh green salad on the side
  • Pitaya Bowl – frozen dragon fruit, coconut flakes, house-made granola, seasonal fruit and bee pollen

For more information, visit Pie Bird.

Reilly Craft Pizza + Drink

101 E. Pennington St.
Charcuterie Plate from Reilly Craft Pizza + Drink (Photo Credit: Reilly Craft Pizza + Drink)

Charcuterie Plate from Reilly Craft Pizza + Drink (Photo Credit: Reilly Craft Pizza + Drink)

Reilly is a modern Italian restaurant and artisan pizzeria with a casual setting. It has an urban feel with its vaulted ceilings and original chalk art on the walls. Menu items include delicious Stuffed Mushrooms in Lemon Broth and Fennel Sausage and Roasted Pepper Brick-Oven Pizza. Great for a relaxing meal paired with a glass of red wine!

Must-Try Items:

  • Burrata –Burrata with peaches, prosciutto, and a balsamic drizzle
  • Goat Cheese Mezzaluna –Summer squash, browned butter, thyme, pecorino
  • Yukon Gold Potato Pizza – Mozzarella, roasted garlic, rosemary, pecorino

For more information, visit Reilly Pizza.

Sparkroot

245 E. Congress St.
Gibraltar at Sparkroot (Photo Credit: Jennifer Stash)

Gibraltar at Sparkroot (Photo Credit: Jennifer Stash)

Sparkroot offers coffee and tea, along with simple made dishes such as House-Made Walnut Granola and Artisanal Pressed Sandwiches on Ciabatta. The construction of this coffee bar has a busy, urban-feel, using reclaimed barn wood and stainless steel accents, where customers can enjoy high quality coffee. Relax during the day or later in the evening where you can enjoy a selection of beer and wine.

Favorites to Enjoy With Coffee: 

  • Warm nut butter and jam – Peanut, almond butter or sun-butter with blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, apricot or fig jam
  • Pressed Sandwich – Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, arugula and house made mustard on sourdough
  • Frittata –With mixed greens and multigrain sourdough toast

For more information, visit Sparkroot.

Street Taco & Beer Co.

58 W. Congress St.
Tacos at Street Taco + Beer

Tacos at Street Taco + Beer

Street Taco and Beer Co. is bringing the heat with a menu chock full of delicious Tacos, Ceviche, and Warm Churros. Enjoy two or maybe five tacos at only 3 bucks a pop with a refreshing Agua Fresca. After an evening at the nearby Fox Theaters, sit along the outdoor bar and enjoy fresh tacos while watching the vibrant scene downtown. 

Tasty Tacos: 

  • Al Pastor –A marinated pork taco with fresh cabbage slaw and condiments
  • Pollo Asada –Grilled chicken taco with fresh cabbage and condiments
  • Asada – Steak taco with fresh cabbage slaw and condiments

For more information, visit Street Taco and Beer Co..

Thunder Canyon Brewery

220 E. Broadway Blvd.
Thunder Canyon Brewery (Photo Credit: Thunder Canyon Brewery)

Thunder Canyon Brewery (Photo Credit: Thunder Canyon Brewery)

Since opening in 1997, Thunder Canyon Brewery has become an ample part of the brewing community. The brewery continues to celebrate their love of craft beer with a menu of pub favorites and classic comfort food. Enjoy a selection of local brews with a menu of Chicken pot pie, Wings and Fish and Chips. Happy hour is everyday from 3-7 p.m.

Highlighted Items:

  • Bangers and Mash – house-made banger sausages simmered in beer, then grilled and served with garlic mashed potatoes and creamed leeks
  • Guacamole Bacon Burger – 1/2 pound burger or 6 oz chicken breast, smothered in guacamole and topped with house-made bacon
  • Jalapeño Cheese Dip –Chicken breast tenders served with a fresh baked bread bowl filled with jalapeno cheese sauce, surrounded with corn tortilla chips

For more information, visit Thunder Canyon Brewery.

Urban Fresh

73 E. Pennington St.
Peach Smoothie from Urban Fresh in Tucson (Photo Credit: Urban Fresh)

Peach Smoothie from Urban Fresh in Tucson (Photo Credit: Urban Fresh)

Urban Fresh is known as a “Vegucational Experience” due to its fresh, natural ingredients and health and wellness education. This plant-based restaurant offers quick and easy lunch options such as Nourishing Smoothies and abundent Green Salads. With its intimate, café-feel, Urban Fresh offers a unique and healthy experience.

Delicious Items: 

  • Rainforest Purple Haze – A smoothie of blueberries, acai, apple and black cherries
  • South of the Border Wrap –Roasted corn and green chilies, salsa, guacamole, beans, lettuce,  vegan sour cream wrapped in a red pepper tortilla
  • Yin and Yang – Rice noodles, pea shoots, sugar snap peas, carrot, daikon, celery, zucchini, kale, shredded mixed greens and cabbage, mint, cilantro, orange segment, toasted cashews, sesame ginger dressing

For more information, visit Urban Fresh.

Veg in a Box

75 E. Pennington st.
Veg in a Box (Photo Credit Veg in a Box)

Veg in a Box (Photo Credit Veg in a Box)

After seven months as a food truck traveling around Tucson, Veg in a Box is now open in their stationary downtown location. The vegan eatery promises to provide plant based food with flavor. Menu items include an array of healthy options such as veggie burgers, sandwiches, and salads.

Must-Try Items: 

  • Mushroom Burger – House-made mushroom patty grilled with tomato, caramelized onion, house sauce, pickles and greens on a toasted GF bun
  • Papas Bravas – Non-GMO Idaho potato cubes tossed in our signature house sauce, then sprinkled with crushed red pepper, parsley, and lemon juice

For more information, visit Veg in a Box on Facebook

Wasted Grain

350 E. Congress St.
Nachos at Wasted Grain Tucson (Credit: Wasted Grain on Facebook)

Nachos at Wasted Grain Tucson (Credit: Wasted Grain on Facebook)

Wasted Grain offers a wide variety of beer with

Favorites: 

  • Taco Pizza – Ground beef, jack, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, taco sauce, Doritos
  • Meatball Trio – Pomodoro dipping sauce
  • House-Baked Pretzel Sticks – Roasted pepper cheese sauce

Keep up with Wasted Grain on Facebook.

Restaurants within walking distance of downtown:

5 Points Market & Restaurant

756 S. Stone Ave. 
5 Points

Smoked Salmon Benedict (Credit: 5 Points)

Just a few minutes from downtown, 5 Points Market & Restaurant offers a menu of fresh and delicious samplings. 5 Points is the perfect place for Sunday brunch, or a quick breakfast or lunch throughout the workday. Make sure to sample the Smoked Salmon Benedict, the Giant Pancake and the freshly squeezed juices. 

Breakfast items:

  • Smoked Salmon Benedict – English muffin, garlic basil cream cheese, smoked wild alaskan salmon, poached egg, and a balsamic reduction, served with a mustard potato pancake
  • Bandito Blanco –Mustard potato pancake, grilled shaved ham, poached egg, mornay sauce and pico de gallo with fresh herbs
  • The Giant Pancake – homemade pancake, clarified butter, pure maple syrup, and blueberries

For more information, visit 5 Points.

Cafe Desta

758 S. Stone Ave.
Cafe Desta Ethiopian Cuisine

Cafe Desta Ethiopian Cuisine

Looking for something off the beaten path? Try Cafe Desta, one of only two locations in Tucson (three if you count both Zemam’s) for authentic Ethiopian cuisine. Each menu item includes a complex and rich variety of spices highlighting the flavors of Ethiopia. Menu items include a variety of meat, vegetarian, and vegan stews. Mix and match dishes to create a truly unique experience.

Items to Try:

  • Kik – Yellow split peas cooked with onion, turmeric and herbs
  • Kaye Beg – Lamb cooked in a mixutre of spices with hot chilies and onions.
  • Kaye Asa –Fish cooked in hot chili powder onions and various spices

For more information, visit Cafe Desta.

The Coronet

402 E. 9th St.
Ratatouille Tartine

Ratatouille Tartine at Coronet (Photo: Adam Lehrman)

The Coronet is nestled between downtown and 4th avenue in what was originally the Coronado Hotel. Filled with historic undertones, the Coronet doesn’t disappoint in offering a memorable dining experience. The menu is whimsical and seasonally inspired, offering an afternoon trio of salads, Fruit Tartines, and Sparkling Lemonade.

Highlighted Dinner Items: 

  • Tilapia en Papillote –Fennel, peas, spinach cardamom creme, black lentils, sauce verte
  • The Tack Room’s Chocolate Mousse – Dense mousse with pecans and Cointreau cream

For more information, visit Cafe Coronet

Ermanos Craft Beer & Wine Bar

220 N. 4th Ave.
Beer and dinner menu at Ermanos Craft Beer & Wine Bar

Beer and dinner menu at Ermanos Craft Beer & Wine Bar

Come to Ermano’s and enjoy your favorite local beer or wine over gourmet gastropub fare. Beers range from Dragoon, Iron John’s, Pueblo Vida to New York’s Ommegang and the well-known Tecaté. Bring your friends and share a few plates of Ceviche with avocado and Hawaiian black sea salt, Corn Bread, and Kabobs. Happy hour is from 2-6 p.m.
Must-Try’s:

For more information, visit Ermano’s.
Let us know in the comments if we missed your go-to Downtown spot!

Sarah Pelfini is Tucson Foodie's 2015 summer intern. She is currently studying journalism and Chinese at the University of Arizona.
  • GayhawkAZ

    Oh, Ms. Pelfini, how it pains me to read a food blog and have the writer not proofread their spelling. (Please don’t tell me you relied on spellcheck to find your errors.)

    I certainly hope 47 Scott is selling MUSSELS and pomme frittes and not the “muscles” you mention in two(!) places. Cannibalism is so overdone these days.

    Good luck with your program at UA.

    • Sarah Pelfini

      Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention, GayhawkAZ. As a developing food writer, I genuinely appreciate your feedback.

      Although 47 Scott’s mussels are quite delicious, you must admit, pommes frites and muscles does sound rather scrumptious.

    • Stephanie

      More cannibalism with Grilled Founder at Elvira’s!