A look back on Tucson restaurant openings and closings in 2017

This year, 2017, was a roller coaster of restaurant closings and openings.

While it’s sad to see a favorite restaurant close, it’s exciting to see a new restaurant carry on the torch.


The year started out promising with the opening of Sazerac (‘Sazerac Creole Kitchen & Cocktails’ To Open at St. Philip’s Plaza January 16), but that venture didn’t quite reach the one year mark (Sazerac at St. Phillip’s to close; Union Public House, Reforma owners to introduce new concept). Northwest Tucson gained a second Serial Grillers location with an expanded tap room (Serial Grillers River & La Cholla Location Set To Open Monday), while northeast Tucson gained a gourmet eatery (‘Jackson Bar + Eatery’ to Open in Northeast Tucson March 16). Seis Kitchen expanded with a location at Joesler Village (Seis Kitchen to Open Second Location at River & Campbell’s Joesler Village).

Sum Sum Summertime

As summer drew near, Marana gained a beer spot (Growler’s TapHouse To Bring Marana Residents a New Beer Mecca to Tap Mid-May) and downtown gained Tucson’s first poke-centric restaurant (Poke-Focused ‘PokeZone Sushi’ to Open Downtown May 6). On the flip side, Tucson lost two classic restaurants (Molina’s Midway Restaurant To Close After 64 Years in Business, Delectables Restaurant to Close After 44 Years of Business).

After a notable amount of controversy, two particular restaurants closed during the summer (Cup It Up American Grill Permanently Closes After Social Media Backlash, Turns out US Fries is indeed closing, as we originally reported, today at 5 p.m.).

Although summer is generally tougher on the Tucson food industry, this year it generated multiple buzz-worthy openings (Amy’s Donuts Tucson Grand Opening June 19BIRD Modern Provisions & Bar Now Open at Casas AdobesAngry Crab Shack Tucson to Open September 1Tucson’s Culinary Dropout at Grant Road Lumber Yard To Open Mid-September).

Food truck favorite Twisted Tandoor opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant (The Twisted Tandoor Brick & Mortar Restaurant Now Open), but decided to close a few months afterward to focus on the food truck instead (Twisted Tandoor returns to food truck origins, closes restaurant).

The Busy Season Begins

At the turn of the season, downtown gained a kickass sandwich shop (‘Barrio Sandwiches’ To Feature Barrio Bread’s Don Guerra & Pop-Up Tucson’s Riley Chandler at Temple of Music & Art), the Warehouse Arts District gained a gourmet minimalist pizzeria (“Anello” Pizzeria Open in Warehouse Arts District October 3) and a hip wine bar (Mid-century Inspired Wine & Beer Bar “The Royal Room” to Open October 17).

No slow-down heading into 2018

To wrap up the year, Tucson lost its only Grimaldi’s location (Tucson’s Grimaldi’s Pizzeria to Close After Thanksgiving). Brunch favorite Baja Cafe opened a third location in Marana (Baja Cafe Marana Location to Open Late November). Michelangelo Ristorante Italiano, an Oro Valley staple for almost three decades, welcomed a modern vibe (Oro Valley’s Michelangelo Ristorante Italiano renovates, rebrands into Bottega Michelangelo). South 12th Avenue expanded beyond the classics (Rollies Mexican Patio brings fun, modern Mexican to South 12th Avenue). Pasco Kitchen & Lounge closed for renovations, but its final fate with a new concept or new owner is to be determined (Pasco Kitchen closes for renovations; new concept or ownership uncertain). Downtown hot spot Playground Bar & Lounge completed its transformations just in time for New Year (Playground Bar & Lounge to reopen after seven months of extensive renovations).

Interior at Rollies Mexican Patio (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Interior at Rollies Mexican Patio (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com.