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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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, 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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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