5 of the Best Dishes You’ve Probably Never Tried in Tucson, Vol. 1

Delicious dishes off the beaten path need some love.

Last modified on November 16th, 2018 at 10:26 am

Steak and rib eye tacos at the Quesadillas (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Tucson has signature dishes that friends will casually recommend; Eegee’s fries or Sonoran hot dogs, for example.

But what about other dishes found elsewhere that are straight-up delicious? Or the ones off the beaten path? You should order these anyway because they need love, too.

Here are five of the best dishes you’ve probably never tried in Tucson.

Parrillada at Contigo Latin Kitchen

3770 E. Sunrise Dr.
Parrillada at Contigo Latin Kitchen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Parrillada at Contigo Latin Kitchen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

A meat lover’s dream, the Parrillada ($59) feeds two with a plate packed with rib eye steak, Spanish chorizo, morcilla, a lamb chop, beef heart, roast marrow, salsa verde, chimichurri, and seasonal vegetables.

For more information, visit eatatcontigo.com.

Birria Tacos at El Chivo de Oro

457 W. Irvington Rd.
Taco de Birria at El Chivo de Oro (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Taco de Birria at El Chivo de Oro (Credit: Jackie Tran)

While the Jalisco specialty is traditionally made with goat or mutton, you’ll often find it made with commonly-available beef instead. At El Chivo de Oro (the Goat of Gold) however, they go goat.

Walk up to the window, where someone outside next to the window will take your order (cash only) and bring a tray of onion and cilantro with molcajetes of salsas to your table.

The Birria’s tender braised goat has a faint hint of pleasant gaminess, balanced by the mild chiles and spices. The connective tissue has broken down to pure succulence, barely held by the freshly-made fluffy corn tortillas.

If you can handle your heat, then dive right into the red chile de árbol salsa. The acidic green salsa helps brighten up the rich meat as well — feel free to enjoy both salsas on your tacos.

Keep up with El Chivo de Oro on Facebook.

Tiraditos Clasicos at Inca’s Peruvian Cuisine

6878 E. Sunrise Dr.
Tiraditos Clasicos at Inca's Peruvian Cuisine (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Tiraditos Clasicos at Inca’s Peruvian Cuisine (Credit: Jackie Tran)

If you enjoy modern sushi and crudo, do yourself a favor and venture into the world of Peruvian seafood. At Inca’s, the Tiraditos Clasicos features raw red snapper marinated in a bright sauce with lime and Peruvian peppers. Choose ají amarillo sauce for a fruitier flavor or suave rocoto sauce for a spicier kick. The kernels of Peruvian corn and disc of sweet potato provide some earthiness to balance the acidity.

For more information, visit incasperuviancuisine.com.

Surly Wench Pub

424 N. Fourth Ave.

You don’t need to be hungover to enjoy the Hangover Tots, which are topped with a fried egg, Swiss cheese, and a poblano pepper sauce. Since the kitchen is open late, you’ll probably be drunk. Drunk or sober, you’ll still love it.

For more information, visit surlywenchpub.com.

Rib Eye Tacos at the Quesadillas

2418 N. Craycroft Rd.
Steak and rib eye tacos at the Quesadillas (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Steak and rib eye tacos at the Quesadillas (Credit: Jackie Tran)

While the carne asada is worth a trip on its own, the Quesadillas has another ace up its sleeve: Rib Eye.

The well-marbled cut of meat is seared over mesquite and sliced thinly for tender, smoky bites. The delicate house-made flour tortilla has just the right amount of pliability to contain the beef.

You won’t have trouble eating the taco on its own, but don’t miss out on the superb fresh salsa bar.

For more information, visit queso520.com.

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.
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