16 East Side Restaurants in Tucson Worth A Visit

Last modified on March 10th, 2016 at 9:55 am

Zinburger and Barrio Brewing Beer Dinner

Tucson’s selection of east side restaurants is often disregarded by food lovers, with little to draw crowds outside of a trip to Park Place Mall or Saguaro National Monument.

However, a number of restaurants exist that make it worth the trip, whether you’re seeking a thin crust pizza from a walk-up counter, authentic Chinese cuisine, a killer breakfast, or family-style Italian eats.

Keep in mind, this isn’t everything worth visiting on the east side. If you think we’ve left something off, let us know in the comments.

Ba-Dar Chinese Cuisine

7321 E Broadway Blvd.
(Credit: Ba-Dar)

(Credit: Ba-Dar)

Good Chinese food is hard to come by in Tucson. But this is not the case for those living within delivery distance of Ba-Dar.

The menu offers American favorites like Chinese Orange Chicken and authentic classics like Crispy Eggplant or Beef with Black Bean Sauce. A special Chinese menu is available by request.

For more information, visit ba-dar.com.

Baja Cafe

 7002 E Broadway Blvd.
Baja Fish Tacos at Baja Cafe

Baja Fish Tacos at Baja Cafe (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

If you’re looking for breakfast, look no further than Baja Cafe. Whether you’re in the mood for regional favorites like Huevos Rancheros or decadent pancake specials like Red Velvet and Snickerdoodle, you’ll surely leave this small cafe satisfied.

Don’t forget, they’re also open until 2pm for lunch.

For more information, visit bajacafetucson.com.

Buddy’s Grill

7385 S Houghton Rd.
(Credit: Buddy's Grill)

(Credit: Buddy’s Grill)

Buddy’s is long time favorite from when they reigned supreme in what now houses a Smashburger at Grant and Swan. Many Tucsonans are under the impression that Buddy’s is no more– not so.

Hefty portions of American pub classics continue to make Buddy’s a favorite for eastsiders. Despite the occasional long wait, regulars rave about the Oysters Rockefeller, Blackened Salmon or Mahi Mahi, and zucchini muffins. They also offer 50% off military discount on Mondays.

For more information, visit buddysgrill.com.

Calle Tepa

6151 E Broadway Blvd.
Chicken Adobada Burrito (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Chicken Adobada Burrito (Credit: Jackie Tran)

An extensive salsa bar, quick service and burritos. What more could anyone ask for?

Drop by during happy hour from 3 to 5pm to add $4 margaritas to the list.

For more information, visit calletepa.com.

Dry River Company

800 N Kolb Rd.
(Credit: Dry River Company)

(Credit: Dry River Company)

Fans of Dry River rave about the Napoletana style pizza, delivered fresh from the wood fired oven with a thin, chewy crust and San Marzano tomatoes. But the out-of-the-box Tomatillo pizza is also a stand-out, with roasted tomatillo sauce, chicken, caramelized onion, cheddar, and jack cheese.

For more information, visit dryriverco.com.

El Sur Restaurant

5602 E 22nd St.
Red Chile Burrito at El Sur (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Red Chile Burrito at El Sur (Credit: Jackie Tran)

El Sur opened in 2001 and has been serving up their home-style Mexican food ever since. The extremely affordable and authentic fajitas, tacos and burritos are always accompanied by jalapeños and grilled onions for the table.

Last visit for two, which included drinks, entrees, and a side of guac, barely topped $20.

For more information, visit elsurrestaurant.com.

Mama Louisa’s

2041 S Craycroft Rd.
Scallops on Butternut Squash Risotto at Mama Louisa's (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Scallops on Butternut Squash Risotto at Mama Louisa’s (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

If a restaurant is celebrating 60 years in business, you know they’ve gotta be doing something right. Mama Louisa’s fresh, homemade pastas certainly fit the bill, especially the incredibly popular Joe’s Special.

For more information, visit mamalouisas.com.

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Renee’s Organic Oven

7065 E Tanque Verde Rd
(Credit: Renee's Organic Oven)

(Credit: Renee’s Organic Oven)

Renee’s Organic Oven spares no expense in sourcing some of the highest quality ingredients they can get their hands on. Now offering breakfast in addition to lunch and dinner, be sure to order a side of meatballs with whatever else you get.

More information at reneesorganicoven.com.

Sachiko Sushi Restaurant

1101 N Wilmot Rd.
Beef Broth Tonkotsu at Sachiko in Tucson

Beef Broth Tonkotsu at Sachiko (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Sachiko, opened in 1994, is known across Tucson for their fresh and flavorful sushi and sashimi. According to the website, the restaurant receives “a shipment of tuna, yellowtail, salmon, shrimp, squid, mackerel, eel, crab, clam, and octopus” straight from Los Angeles every day to continue providing their sought after Japanese cuisine.

A top pick for sushi in Tucson.

For more information, visit sachikosushitucson.com.

Sa-ing Thai Cuisine

9136 E Valencia Rd.
Shrimp Pad Thai at Sa-ing Thai (Credit: Theresa Delaney)

Shrimp Pad Thai at Sa-ing Thai (Credit: Theresa Delaney)

Don’t be deceived by the unassuming Rita Ranch shopping mall that Sai-ing Thai is tucked away in. The owners have been serving their authentic Thai cuisine from this location for 12 years, and have the fan base to prove it.

Be sure to try the day’s soup special and specialty Thai curries. Check out our full feature on Sa-ing Thai.

For more information, visit Sa-ing Thai on Facebook.

Serial Grillers

5737 E Speedway Blvd.
(Credit: Serial Grillers)

(Credit: Serial Grillers)

While an initial glance at the menu may be off-putting, considering each burger, cheesesteak, and grilled cheese sandwich is named after fictitious and real-life serial killers, there is nothing scary about the food. Except maybe the calorie count.

Favorites include the Psycho Ribeye Cheesesteak with ribeye, grilled onions, jalapeños, avocado, cilantro mayo, tomatoes and pepper jack cheese, and the Chucky burger, with Sriracha ranch, jalapeño poppers, onion crunch and cheddar.

For more information, visit serialgrillers.com.

Snow Peas Modern Asian Kitchen

1402 S Craycroft Rd.
Japanese Curry (Credit: Snow Peas Modern Asian Kitchen)

Japanese Curry (Credit: Snow Peas Modern Asian Kitchen)

Snow Peas unique menu includes a variety of authentic Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai and Filipino dishes, from Mango Chicken to Singapore Curry Fried Rice.

For more information, visit Snow Peas Modern Asian Kitchen on Facebook.

Trident Grill II

2900 N Swan Rd.
H1 wings at Trident Grill

H1 Wings at Trident Grill (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Trident Grill has been a staple sports bar by The University of Arizona campus for years, famous for their burgers and East Coast staples like steamed Old Bay shrimp. So, it was exciting news when they announced a new location further north. The Swan Road location is now open, with dog-friendly patio and expanded bar options.

For more information, visit tridentgrill.com.

Tucson Tamale Company

7159 E Tanque Verde Rd.
Blue Corn Tamale (Photo Credit: Tucson Tamale Co.)

Blue Corn Tamale (Photo Credit: Tucson Tamale Co.)

While Tucson Tamale Company is becoming known for bringing one of Southern Arizona’s favorite cuisines to the rest of the country, they’re still serving up their staple tamales all over town. The East Side location offers all the classics, including vegan and vegetarian options.

For more information, visit tucsontamale.com.

Vero Amore

 2920 N Swan Rd.
Pizza at Vero Amore

Pizza at Vero Amore (Credit: Vero Amore)

When you’re the first certified Neapolitan pizzeria in Arizona, you have to put out food that lives up to the title. And Vero Amore does just that, with their wide selection of pizzas, fresh pastas and Italian specialities like Chicken Marsala and Copping.

Now, you can even enjoy breakfast on the weekends.

For more information, visit veroamorepizza.com.

Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar

6390 E Grant Rd.
Zinburger and Barrio Brewing Beer Dinner

(Credit: Zinburger)

Fox Restaurant Concepts’ Zinburger has been a favored burger destination among locals about as long as they’ve been open. The spacious Grant Road location offers a variety of burgers, including those of the Ahi Tuna, Chicken, Turkey and Veggie variety, as well as a daily happy hour from 4 to 6pm.

For more information, visit zinburgeraz.com.

Zona 78

7301 E Tanque Verde Rd.
Rigatoni Bolognese at Zona 78 (Credit: Lacey & Suede)

Rigatoni Bolognese at Zona 78 (Credit: Lacey & Suede)

Now that this is Zona 78’s only location in town, it is sure to become a popular destination for happy hour and dinner. The restaurant’s commitment to fresh food and excellent service results in delicious Italian classics and a consistently enjoyable dining experience.

For more information, visit zona78.com.

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Theresa is a copywriter, food explorer and pursuer of all things creative. Find her at theresadelaney.com.
  • LittleJoe

    Saguaro Corners is the quintessential great eastside eatery. How did that get passed over for some midtown locations?

    • It can be difficult deciding who to include/exclude, but this is by no means a list of the only worthy spots (as we express in the introduction).

  • natebarnz

    I personally find that Don’s Bayou on Tanque Verde is one of the best on the far east side. People often complain about the wait but when fresh quality food is made to order by a one man chef owner operation you expect it to take it’s due time. I eat there often and the quality and consistency is exactly what you would expect when the owner is the chef, fantastic!

  • Karyn_Zoldan

    What about Poco & Mom’s? Either location, the Tanque Verde locale has more ambience and a bar

    • At some point we had to call it – but, yes they are worthy.

  • Anahata

    Commoner & Co, Canyon’s Crown, Inca’s

  • Deborah Richards

    How about The Eclectic Cafe at Tanque Verde and Sabino Canyon? They have been serving the East side since around 1980 with a menu that is diverse and service that is friendly and quick. Always amazed at how fast my food arrives, and how big the portions of my tasty treats are!

  • Gray

    Eclectic Cafe is the go-to place for locals in the Sabino Canyon area. Also, Harvest is very good.

  • Richard Dietzel

    The link to the writer reads, “The owner of http://www.theresadelaney.com has configured their website improperly. To protect your information from being stolen, Firefox has not connected to this website.”, I had just wanted to say that I’d lose the first, “creative”, from the bio.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
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