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Last modified on July 9th, 2018 at 11:28 am
Cycling is an intrinsic part of Tucson culture. The weather is great year-round and there are miles of trails to explore. But at some point, hunger kicks in. If you didn’t pack a lunch, you’ll need to stop somewhere to eat and certain stops are a better fit for cyclists on the go than others.
The joints listed below have a few things in common — they are on a common cycling route such as Mount Lemmon, accept credit cards, and provide outdoor seating so cyclists can park their bike within view and don’t have to lug around a heavy lock.
Whether you’re headed to Starr Pass for some rough mountain biking, out to Vail for some long road miles, or touring through Tucson, there are a number of excellent places to stop for food. Keep in mind, cyclists don’t always look for healthy options, but instead for calories and energy for the long road ahead. The options below offer a little bit of everything.
Cycling is tightly linked to coffee culture, possibly from Italy’s tight ties to both. At any rate, there are a few key spots for a quick espresso before, during, or after a ride. On the east side near Mount Lemmon is a Tucson classic, Le Buzz. Offering a large selection of pastries, breakfast and lunch, and a full espresso bar, grab a shot of their locally roasted espresso before the ride, and a sandwich or salad afterwards in their bistro-style seating. They even have spare tubes and pumps if you have a flat along the way.
For more information, visit lebuzzcaffe.com.
On your way up the unforgiving (roughly) 26-mile climb of Mt. Lemmon, let the idea of a perfectly underdone chocolate chip cookie the size of a paper plate be the sole motivation behind your last five miles. The melty-gooey middle ground between raw cookie dough and crisp edges is served up fresh at the Cookie Cabin in Summerhaven at the top of Mount Lemmon. It’s also available with scoops of vanilla ice cream. A glorious reward for a few hours’ climb.
For more information, visit thecookiecabin.org.
And when you’re not in the mood for a huge cookie, the General Store at the top of Mount Lemmon has most other provisions for an energy fix. From house-made fudge to Cheez-It crackers, root beer to hot chocolate, the General Store has a bit of everything else. Even long sleeve shirts in case it’s 30 degrees cooler at the top.
For more information, visit mtlemmon.com.
Along the eastern edge of the Tour de Tucson route, Saguaro Corners also hosts a full moon bike ride event for every full moon. They also partner with Ben’s Bikes regularly for bike events.
Enjoy comfort food classics such as Shrimp & Grits or new light summer fare such as the Quinoa Kale Salad. The 22 beers on tap are also a rewarding post-ride plus.
For more information, visit saguarocorners.net.
In St. Philips Plaza is the new Ren Coffeehouse, which offers Colectivo Coffee from Milwaukee and local Yellow Brick nitro cold brew. Having opened in April, the shop is right off the Rillito bike path section of the The Loop — the owner discovered the space after a bike ride.
Ren focuses on clean eating, organic ingredients, and refueling. Try their golden milk – warmed with turmeric, it has anti-inflammatory properties that are good for muscle health.
Keep up with Ren Coffeehouse on Facebook.
Presta Coffee Roasters is on the west side in the Mercado San Agustin for those riding out by Gates Pass. With abundant outside seating in the courtyard of the mercado, customers can stretch their legs and power up with a beautifully made cappuccino. They might even pour you a heart or swan on top with their silky organic milk or Oatly oat milk. For casual food options, check out the two neighbors listed below.
More information at prestacoffee.com.
In the same Mercado as Presta Coffee is La Estrella, a panaderia, or Mexican bakery. It’s best visited first thing in the morning for a fluffy and delicately glazed doughnut, crisp, flakey oreja, or plump fruit-filled empanada, still warm and fragrant. And what’s more, each treat is around 50 cents; it’s hard not to stock the pockets of your jersey with snacks for later.
For more information, visit laestrellabakeryincaz.com.
If you’re needing something more than a pastry, Seis is in the same square of shops as Presta and La Estrella. They focus on Mexican street food, offering tacos in fresh-made corn tortillas and house-roasted salsas that focus on flavor instead of heat. Bite into crispy avocado tacos with chipotle crema or a breakfast burrito with chorizo, eggs, green chile, potatoes, and cheese for a savory, filling breakfast. This is a perfect stop after you ride Gates Pass.
For more information, visit seiskitchen.com.
Time Market is near the university and a central hub for local eats, whether hauling across town or headed to the mountains it’s an easy stop for a quick bite. They have arguably one of the best bread and produce programs in town, focusing on quality and source of ingredients. After a long ride, a slice or two of their thin crust house-fired pizza hits the spot. They also have great options to go from the market, including granola bars, beef jerky, and bananas (for potassium, a good option for sticking in your jersey pocket for later).
For more information, visit timemarket.xyz.
Cup Cafe is an iconic pit stop in a beautiful historic building. Fill up on their classic cast iron baked eggs with crisp hotel potatoes, cool and creamy creme fraiche, and fines herbes. Or if you’re really hungry, try their rendition of a Benedict with smoky trout brightened with a whole mustard hollandaise and a tomato chutney on chewy English muffins alongside a heavy diner mug of coffee.
For more information, visit hotelcongress.com.
Five Points just south of downtown works with ingredients from local vendors and farmers like E&R Ranch and Maggie’s Farm (named after the Bob Dylan song), and do a lot of preparation of their ingredients in-house for a unique take on breakfast and lunch dishes. The menu is intentionally limited. Each item is consistently made well and delicious, but remember to check the specials board to find new favorite dishes. The Huevos Rancheros are a Five Points signature, with perfectly done eggs every time, pools of toothsome house ranchero sauce and melty cheddar over la noria corn tortillas. To wash it down, try a prickly pear and white peach shrub or tangy fresh orange juice.
For more information, visit 5pointstucson.com.
[Editor’s note: the writer of this article is an employee at Presta Coffee Roasters, but we wanted Presta included regardless of who wrote this article]
Have another cyclist-friendly cafe or restaurant addition? Let us know!
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