22 November, 2019, 23:18

5 Under-the-Radar Hidden Gems in Tucson, Volume 1

These amazing restaurants deserve to have a line out the door.

Writing this article presents a dilemma; I enjoy not having to wait in line for amazing food. However, these amazing restaurants deserve to have a line out the door.

If restaurants went to high school, none of the options below would win homecoming queen or king. Instead, they’d be the friend that you actually bothered to keep in touch with and hang out with on a regular basis, rather than the classmate you awkwardly hug when they see you standing in line at the grocery store.

Why don’t these restaurants have a wait all the time? Who knows. It could be because they’re easy to drive by and not notice. They could be out of the way for most folk. Maybe their sign isn’t bright enough. Regardless, they put out exceptional food that deserves to be recognized and shared.

Here is the first list of under-the-radar hidden gems in Tucson. Stay tuned for additional volumes.

Birrieria Guadalajara

304 E. 22nd St.

When it comes to Mexican soups and stews, Birrieria Guadalajara covers a wide spectrum of choices.

Whether you want a hearty bowl of menudo blanco, comforting bowl of albondigas, or just a cup of birria, they’ll do a mighty fine job. Just make sure to bring cash; they’re cash only.

Keep up with Birrieria Guadalajara on Facebook.

Chef Alisah’s Restaurant

5931 N. Oracle Rd.

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Bosnian dinner for 4 ?????

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Considering there are only a handful of Bosnian restaurants in all of the U.S., Tucson is lucky to have chef Alisah.

Order the signature Cevapi on their own or get them in a massive mixed grill feast, the Mješano Meso, which also includes steak, chicken breast, pljeskavica (a ground beef patty), rice, veggies, ajvar sauce, tzatziki, cabbage salad, and fresh homemade bread. The portions are gargantuan — you won’t leave hungry.

For more information, visit alisahrestaurant.com.

Contigo Latin Kitchen

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

Parrillada at Contigo Latin Kitchen (Photo courtesy of Contigo Latin Kitchen)

Contigo lives up to the Latin Kitchen part of its name with Latin dishes from all over the world.

The Spanish paella is a classic date night option, while the Frita Cubana is a popular burger from Cuba that hardly anyone in Tucson knows about. The Moqueca de Peixe is a delectable Brazilian seafood and coconut stew (available vegan), while the Parrillada is a bounty of meat that will impress any carnivore.

For more information, visit eatatcontigo.com.

Desert Island Eatery

2513 N. Campbell Ave.
Black Beans, tofu scramble, spinach & mushrooms (Photo courtesy of Desert Island Eatery on Facebook)

Black Beans, tofu scramble, spinach & mushrooms (Photo courtesy of Desert Island Eatery on Facebook)

Desert Island Eatery lures you in with Caribbean eats such as oxtail stew and jerk chicken.

However, they’ve taken off with their constantly-changing vegan specials. Past vegan highlights included Banana WafflesJerk Lentil Ball Tacos, and Lentil Loaf with Guava Marinara.

Keep up with Desert Island Eatery on Facebook.

Island Plate Lunch

5575 E. River Rd.
Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Plate and Poke Bowl at Island Lunch Plate (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Plate and Poke Bowl at Island Lunch Plate (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Island Plate Lunch is hidden out of sight in a Whole Foods Market strip mall but they still managed to develop a fiercely loyal following.

Prices are reasonable considering the mammoth portions. While Hawaiian BBQ Chicken and giant Poke Bowls are among the most popular, don’t miss out on specials such as Oxtail SoupCurry Katsu Udon, or Peanut Butter and Jelly Pork Belly.

For more information, visit islandplatelunch.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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