Spring is here and summer is near. While it's easy to lament over Tucson's scorching heat, let's take a moment to appreciate the bountiful fresh produce the season brings.
Local restaurants are finding creative ways to utilize the season's highlights. Here are our picks for new spring and summer menus to check out in 2018.
Don't sleep on the Summer Spaghettini, as its range of umami, sweet, and acidic flavors meld marvelously.
The AZ Filet Mignon might be one of the most tender filets in town. The corn puree brings it all together with summer freshness and richness.
For more information, call (520) 398-5382 or visit agustinkitchen.com.
The patio at Cafe a la C'Art is perfect for evening al fresco dining. To start off, order the addictive Beet Pickled Deviled Eggs.
For a hearty but not too heavy dish, order the Sonoran Spring Chicken — it utilizes the bright flavors of citrus, mango, and tomatillo to brighten up the rich chicken leg.
For more information, call (520) 628-8533 or visit cafealacarttucson.com.
We're always excited for the seasonal updates at Commoner & Co. — with chef Kyle Nottingham now part of the team, Commoner's changes will be the biggest yet. The details aren't public yet, but expect another article once they're available.
For more information, visit commonertucson.com.
Diners that avoid offal need to make an effort to try the Seared Duck Heart Flatbread. With a complex blend of spices, bright pickled veggies, and charred tangerine, each bite is an eye-opening burst of flavors. If duck hearts are too adventurous, feel free to substitute roasted beets.
Veggie lovers will fall in love with the Roast Cauliflower. The charred ends provide a nutty flavor that compliments the dish's Mediterranean flavor profile.
For more information, call (520) 222-9889 or visit cafecoronet.com.
This might be the springiest menu on the list based on the quantity of green vegetables alone. The Spaghetti Primavera highlights a cornucopia of spring vegetables with mushroom broth and pesto.
For a fun yet elegant desert, get the Mexican Lime Ice Cream + Sopapilla — don't forget to snack on the sopapilla.
For more information, call (520) 623-7700 or visit downtownkitchen.com.
While Kingfisher has a reputation for their strong kitchen fundamentals and classic dishes, they know how to throw down with seasonal ingredients too.
The Roasted Chile Verde Soup features the bright green flavor of various fresh chiles, while the Grilled Sea Bass goes tropical with a pineapple barbecue glaze. And don't forget about the new desserts.
For more information, call (520) 323-7739 or visit kingfishertucson.com.
Yes, you can eat Joe's Special every single visit, don't miss out on the newer gems.
The Italian Ramen features house-made pasta with alkaline for the distinct ramen noodle chew. The flavor profile is entirely Italian however, with Italian herbs and a pork and veal stock.
For more information, call (520) 790-4702 or visit mamalouisas.com.
Maynards' seasonal risottos never let us down and the AZ Red Risotto is no exception.
For a satisfyingly savory course, order the Sonoran Mushroom Toast. The Barrio levain is topped with several umami components with a touch of bright acidity.
For more information, call (520) 545-0577 or visit maynardstucson.com.
Don't be ashamed of ordering vegetables at a steakhouse. The Roasted Baby Carrots features the umami of grass-fed beef heart "bottarga" to balance the sweetness of the carrots.
For a graceful pasta dish, order the Spring Lamb Cannelloni. The mint and spring vegetables help lift the tender lamb and silky ricotta.
For more information, call (520) 324-9350 or visit casinodelsol.com.
While Reilly has a reputation for their pizza and cocktails, they deserve a following for their pasta too. The house-milled flour makes a noticeable difference in dishes such as the Goat Cheese Agnolotti.
The Charred Sugar Snap Peas are good enough to hoard in your pocket, while the Roasted Cauliflower boasts spectacular savory depth with bagna cauda.
For more information, visit reillypizza.com.
Senae's new menu items aren't available quite yet, but they're worth getting excited over. The Gaeng Pá features a medley of seafood in a complex-yet-light red curry broth.
Kao Op Sapparod is a hybrid of Thai fried rice and paella in a fun pineapple presentation.
While the tiny menu might not change any time soon, the seasonal veggies supplied from Pivot Produce vary on a regular basis. Anello takes a minimalist approach to highlight the produce beautifully — often a roast in the pizza oven with a light char, a drizzle of olive oil, and lemon or vinegar — sometimes some chopped nuts for texture or a kiss of garlic for a kick.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit anello.space.
Considering how young this restaurant is, chances are you haven't tasted your way through their menu yet. Don't go in a rush, since it can take a while for your food to be ready. It's worth the wait though.
If you can handle spice, absolutely do not miss out on the Chaoshou Dumplings or the Guilin Spicy & Sour with crispy roasted pork. Already a strong contender for new restaurant of the year along with the next restaurant on this list...
For more information, visit noodleholics.com.
While our expectations were already high for Monsoon Chocolate, they still managed to wow us in countless ways. The house hot chocolate is as spectacular as you would expect at a chocolate factory, and Monsoon also carries the hard-to-find cacao fruit juice (it's surprisingly sweet and tastes like guava and lychee).
However, the house-baked Black Hill Bread in the Smoked Avocado Toast and sophisticated sandwiches will keep us coming back for breakfast and lunch.
Keep up with Monsoon Chocolate on Facebook.
In case you missed the news, TCB went through a complete rebranding along with a new menu. The culinary team has gone through admirable lengths to improve the quality of ingredients and make everything from scratch. One of the dishes to best highlight this is the Burrata Toast with its house ciabatta and house-pulled mozzarella with sweet vermouth ricotta cream.
For a one-of-a-kind dish that will surprise you in the best way, order the Scallop Bread and don't waste a drop of the leek whiskey cream sauce.
We don't know why, but gourmet pizza places tend to have the best salads. Take advantage of radicchio season with Pizza Luna's Radicchio Caesar, which was unexpected love at first bite with its zingy, garlicky dressing. While their pizza is excellent, we can't wait to go back to try their other salads too.
For more information, call (520) 344-7637 or visit pizza-luna.com.
Have an addition for our spring and summer menus roundup? Let us know in the comments.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he is best known locally for his work for Tucson Foodie, his work has also appeared in publications such as Bon...