While Tucson’s agricultural history goes back thousands of years, at least one of handful of Tucson restaurants go back almost 100 years.
El Charro Café takes the oldest crown, but the variety of legacy restaurants goes beyond Mexican cuisine. Italian restaurants, breakfast spots, western steakhouses, and divey fast food joints also have a special place in Tucson’s heart.
Below is a list of some of Tucson’s old reliables.
Bianchi’s Italian, Est. 1976
1110 N. Silverbell Rd./ 3260 W. Tangerine Rd.
(Credit: Bianchi’s Italian)
This Italian eatery has been serving generous portions of Italian food at a great price. It’s hard to top their everyday special: Single Slice (1 Item), Side Salad & Drink for $ 8.25. Come get a pizza this.
For more information, visit bianchisitalian.com.
Blue Willow, Est. 1978
2616 N. Campbell Ave.
Blue Willow Summer Menu Items (Credit: Jackie Tran)
This quirky gift shop meets restaurant has something for everyone. With a menu friendly to both vegans and carnivores alike, it’s hard to go wrong. You almost hope they’re on a (slight) wait so you’ve got a reason to peruse the gift shop and pastry case.
For more information, visit bluewillowtucson.com.
Bobo’s Restaurant, Est. 1975
2938 E. Grant Rd.
Bobo’s Restaurant (Credit: Theresa Delaney)
Legend has it, Bobo’s hasn’t met a hangover it can’t cure. Diner-style breakfast, huge portions, nominal prices – this is the holy breakfast grail of Tucson restaurants. Bobo’s hasn’t changed much in the past 25 years, but then again why would it? And pancake anyone?
For more information, visit bobostucson.com.
Caruso’s Italian Restaurant, Est. 1930
434 N 4th Ave.
Caruso’s (Credit: Jackie Tran)
A flood may have washed away the original Caruso’s location in the 1930s, but at least their Chicken Parm recipe was safe. The secret is in their “big copper pot”.
For more information, visit carusositalian.com.
Casa Molina, Est. 1947
6225 E. Speedway Blvd.
Gilbert Molina Sr. (Credit: Casa Molina)
Casa Molina started in 1947 with seats for 16, but can now accommodate over 300. Founder Gilbert Molina Sr. built the furniture and even his patented taco maker, pictured above.
For more information, visit casamolinadelnorte.com.
Crossroads Restaurant Drive In, Est. 1936
2602 S. 4th Ave.
Tamales from Crossroads Restaurant (Credit: Mark Navarro)
It’s not easy to be a competitor in South Tucson, but Crossroads has kept its head in the game since 1936. Their daily buffet from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. offers an assortment of chimis, soups, enchiladas, seafood, and more.
For more information, visit crossroadsfinemexican.com.
Eegee’s, Est. 1971
Oh Eegee’s, quick to oblige the Mayor of Tucson and the bellies of many, many Tucsonans. What would we do without your yearly April Fools jokes or your Ranch Fries or your flavor of the month? We’d be nothing.
For more information, visit eegees.com.
El Charro Café, Est. 1922
311 N. Court Ave.
Carne Seca Burro at El Charro Café on Court Avenue (Credit: Jackie Tran)
To say that Charro’s carne seca is the greatest thing since sliced bread would be incorrect, since sliced bread was invented six years later in 1928. Home to the chimichanga and many critical acclaims, this is where experience meets flavor. Check out their 95th Year Anniversary menu at all locations.
For more information, visit elcharrocafe.com.
El Corral, Est. 1926
2201 E. River Rd.
(Photo Credit: El Corral)
Another restaurant that made it through the Great Depression, El Corral has been in the same building since 1926. It’s gone through various iterations, but has developed its reputation for prime rib over the past 40 years.
For more information, visit elcorraltucson.com.
El Minuto Cafe, Est. 1936
354 S. Main Ave.
El Minuto Cafe facade (Credit: Adilene Ibarra)
The original location opened in 1936, but was torn down to make room for the freeway and rebuilt in its current location in 1944. It’s even owned by the same original family. Come for the cheese crisps and carne seca.
For more information, visit elminutotucson.com.
Ghini’s French Caffe, Est. 1992
1803 E. Prince Rd.
Eggs Provençal at Ghini’s French Caffe (Credit: Jackie Tran)
A long-standing advocate of local and organic produce, chef “Ghini” (aka Coralie Satta) brought a taste of Marseilles to Ghini’s when it opened in 1992. The Eggs Provençal have become one of Tucson’s iconic brunch dishes.
For more information, visit ghiniscafe.com.
Guillermo’s Double L Restaurant, Est. 1948
1830 S. 4th Ave.
Facade at Guillermo’s Double L Restaurant (Credit: Adilene Ibarra)
Guillermo’s isn’t just an overflow parking spot for Mi Nidito — they’ve served Tucson since 1948. It originally started as a BBQ joint and later switched to Mexican cuisine.
Keep up with Guillermo’s Double L Restaurant on Facebook.
Gus Balon’s Restaurant, Est. 1965
6027 E. 22nd St.
Facade at Gus Balon’s Restaurant (Credit: Adilene Ibarra)
You’ll find consistently good breakfast and lunch, reasonable prices, and enough daily features on Gus’ menu that you’ll wonder why you even cook. Don’t miss out on the cinnamon roll.
For more information, visit gusbalonsrestaurant.com.
Kon Tiki, Est. 1962
4625 E. Broadway Blvd.
Facade at Kon Tiki (Credit: Adilene Ibarra)
Home of the hangover. Kidding. Here you’ll find tiki drinks such as the mighty Scorpion Bowl and Polynesian-influenced dishes such as coconut shrimp.
Keep up with Kon Tiki on Facebook.
Lil’ Abner’s Steak House, Est. 1947
8501 N. Silverbell Rd.
(Credit: Lil’ Abner’s Steak House)
Even with all the customers and cowboys over the years, Lil’ Abner’s just recently ditched their swamp cooler for their first air conditioner ever. The site was originally opened up as a bar named after Dutches and Larry Lewis’ dog Abner.
For more information, visit lilabnerssteakhouse.com.
Lucky Wishbone, Est. 1953
4872 S. Sixth Ave.
Combo meal at Lucky Wishbone (Credit: Melissa Stihl)
Possibly Tucson’s first fast food restaurant, Lucky Wishbone’s original location opened at 4872 S. 6th Ave. in July of 1953. With locations all around Tucson, satisfy your fried fix wherever you want it.
For more information, visit luckywishbone.com.
Mama Louisa’s, Est. 1956
2041 S. Craycroft Rd.
1963 signage photo of Mama Louisa’s (Credit: Mama Louisa’s)
Mama Louisa’s Heritage Menu features classics like Joe’s Special, while the Third Generation Menu features more contemporary options such as the Sicilian Grilled Skirt Steak.
For more information, visit mamalouisas.com.
McGraw’s Cantina, Est. 1984
4110 S. Houghton Rd.
(Credit: McGraw’s Cantina on Facebook)
McGraw’s hilltop location provides one of the most scenic sunset views in Tucson. This east-side eatery features nightly specials such Prime Rib on Sundays for $10.95 and homemade pies topped with fresh whipped cream.
For more information, visit tucsonmcgraws.com.
Mi Nidito, Est. 1952
1813 S. 4th Ave.
Facade at Mi Nidito (Credit: Adilene Ibarra)
The 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, enjoyed his Mi Nidito meal on February 25, 1999. You too can order the President’s Plate for $15.50 with a bean tostada, birria taco, chile relleno, chicken enchilada and a beef tamal.
For more information, visit minidito.net.
Pat’s Chili Dogs, Est. 1961
1202 W. Niagara St.
Chili Dog at Pat’s Chili Dogs (Credit: Adilene Ibarra)
How does a hot dog stand stay in business for over 50 years? The chili. A Tucson gem because of its pure simplicity. Like their sign says, “Keep a supply in your freezer, pop them in the oven when the munchies get you.”
Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse, Est. 1962
6541 E. Tanque Verde Rd.
Facade at Pinnacle Peak (Credit: Adilene Ibarra)
It’s easy to make a day of it when you go to Pinnacle Peak. Plus, how else are you going to work off the Cowboy Steak? Stay for the Wild West stunt show, attractions, shops, and more. P.S. Don’t wear a tie unless you want it sheared off.
For more information, visit pinnaclepeaktucson.com.
Saguaro Corners, Est. 1956
3750 S. Old Spanish Trail
Saguaro Corners (Photo: Saguaro Corners)
About 23 years after the Prohibition ended, Saguaro Corners opened its doors and hasn’t looked back since. You’ll find a monthly beer dinner here prepared by chef CJ Hamm, live music, local, rotating craft-beer selection, and fun food such as Shrimp & Grits and BBQ Pulled Pork Mac.
For more information, visit saguarocorners.com.
Sausage Shop Market and Deli, Est. 1982
1015 W. Prince Rd.
Pastrami & Swiss at The Sausage Shop (Credit: Adam Lehrman)
It would be a missed steak to not ever step foot inside of Sausage Shop Market & Deli. They cater to all of your deli needs such as sausage, chicken, beef, bacon, bacon, and more bacon. And with 35 years in business, they know a thing or two about making some stellar deli sandwiches.
Keep up with Sausage Shop Market and Deli on Facebook.
Tino’s Pizza, Est. 1984
6610 E. Tanque Verde Rd.
Facade at Tino’s Pizza (Credit: Adilene Ibarra)
Solid pizza and great beer, sounds like Tino’s has learned that the way to Tucson’s heart is through its stomach. They now deliver pizza, salads, and oven-baked hot wings to Three Canyon Beer & Wine Garden on Sundays.
For more information, visit tinospizza.com.
Yamato Japanese Restaurant, Est. 1988
857 E. Grant Rd.
Tonkatsu Ramen at Yamato Japanese Restaurant
Old sushi isn’t good for you, but this ol’ restaurant serves up good sushi. Want to know how good the food is? Chef Noboru Nakajima, with over 50 years experience, makes his own teriyaki and eel sauces – a process that takes days. Try them during lunch and thank us later – the truth is in the sauce. Or you could not go, and keep this gem a hidden secret.
Keep up with Yamato Japanese Restaurant on Facebook.
Know of any 25 years or older Tucson restaurants we need to add? Let us know in the comments.