Catfish Sandwich at BXQ - "Where else can you get a catfish sandwich? Not overcooked, crunchy slaw, and great bread."
Jennifer Teufel Schoenberger, Catalyst
Pickled Sides at Nhu Lan Vietnamese Food - "The pickled carrots and daikon at Nhu Lan Vietnamese Food, newly opened at The Boxyard, brought the crunchy brightness I always hope for in a pickle — and left squishy sweetness out of the equation. It was a beautiful day for a picnic, shared with our Tucson Foodie crew. We were munching on all things yummy, but the slivers of tang stood out for me!"
Cranberry Mule at The Parish - "The Parish’s bar slays, but I don’t drink alcohol. What to do when you want a special drink without booze? Ask Stephanie Kingman, mixologist extraordinaire! Her cranberry-ginger cocktail was fresh, delicious, and beautiful."
Brunch at Tito & Pep - "So, Tito & Pep is back on my list for their terrific brunch. It’s a tie between the Churro French Toast and John Martinez’s take on eggs benedict — El “Siesta Despues”. So our little family orders both and we steal off of each other's plates — ‘cuz sharing is caring ;-)"
Cheesecake Brownie at Beyond Bread - "As usual, my sweet tooth got the best of me this month. I had a bite of the Cheesecake Brownie from Beyond Bread and have been craving it every night since then. The dense and chewy dark chocolate base is topped with a tangy (yes, the second use of “tang” in this list) cheesecake layer — the perfect balance of sweet-tart. More please."
Kate Severino, Editor
Margherita Pizza at Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink - "Chewy, bubbling crust; sauce; mozzarella; and basil. The simple slice was a stellar accompaniment to bingo cards and a glass of bubbly in the beer garden. And, it’s famous — in full view on the local billboard on Broadway… same delectable pizza. Order it with a side of Brussels Sprouts (those pecan-brittle crumbs, gah so good)."
Traditional Margherita Pizza at Pizza Luna - "House-made every damn thing. Well, almost. The cheese, the crust, and the sauce are indeed made in house — they probably even have a basil plant growing on the back patio, that’s how fresh it is. Pizza Luna distracts me from my weekly Trader Joe’s push from across the lot and sometimes (when I’m too weak to walk away) I head on over to indulge in the Traditional Margherita — fresh house-pulled Fior di Latte, fresh basil, and San Marzano tomatoes."
Margherita Pizza at Anello – "The ingredients, space, and menu are all simplified and focus on delivering a quality experience. No signage needed for this cozy spot — the lure is the comforting conversation, seats beside strangers at a long table headed by a pizza oven, dough being tossed in the air, and pleasant mouthfeel as you fork crunchy Brussels and warmed olives while you take it all in. The "fermented natural sourdough pizza" topped with tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, olive oil, and basil is a bonus. (You'll be licking your fingers under the table, wanting more)."
Goat Cheese Calabrian Chili Honey Toasts at Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink - "I am a fan of this small bite that is so big on flavor. The goat cheese is whipped and formed into soft, tangy swirls. The Calabrian chili honey is generously drizzled over the top, providing a sweet heat and hint of spice. Every bite of food I've had at Reilly is delicious, but these little toasts are the real hidden gems."
Pork Katsu at Maru Japanese Noodle Shop - "Maru's grab-and-go style set-up is pretty sweet. When we went to grab some photos during a staff lunch, we sampled a selection of items from the menu. All our choices were solid, but the Pork Katsu was the stand out dish that really impressed me. Despite sitting under a heat lamp, the crispiness of the Panko really held up (even after our 25-minute photoshoot). It's inexpensive, light, and delicious. Grab the Katsu sauce and the sweet chili sauce if you manage to score one."
Smoked Alligator at The Parish - "The Parish pulls out all the stops for their annual Mardi Gras celebration. They boil crawfish, make hundreds of hushpuppies, smoke (multiple) alligators, and don't even get me started on the Hurricane drink situation. But the alligators... the alligators were the star of the show. Chef Travis Peters rubbed them down with Japanese mayo and smoked them over mesquite to perfection. The alligator was light and delicate with so much flavor coming through. I wish The Parish smoked gators more than once a year, but I guess that's part of the reason that it's a special event."
Persian Ice Cream at Persian Room - "I don't know how to begin explaining the dinner that I had in celebration of Persian New Year with some friends. I literally couldn't pronounce a single dish that was ordered and was so grateful to have a culinary guide who knew what to order. Every bite I sampled was delicious, but the memorable moment came at the end of the meal — Persian Ice Cream was ordered for the table and I watched in awe as a bowl of bright yellow ice cream was placed down in front of us and lit up our table. This ice cream was neon and sparkly. Persian Ice Cream is made with a combination of flavors including rosewater, saffron, and pistachio. Nothing overpowers the flavor of the dish and it's subtly perfumed— no one wants to taste Chanel No. 5."
New Mexican Panko-Fried Broccoli Taco at Ermanos- "Every Tuesday, the crew at Ermanos crafts weekly taco specials: one vegetarian option and one for carnivores. I'm typically partial to the meat options, but this veggie bite was a true delight. The New Mexico-inspired taco was made with Panko-fried broccoli and topped with red wine slaw and goat cheese poblano crema. The taco was perfect — crispy and well spiced with a hint of vinegar from the slaw that restored my faith in cabbage. My biggest regret was not ordering more than one."
Hot Chicken Sandwich at Pop's Hot Chicken - "Their chicken thighs are deep fried with the skin on (to give that crunch) and they accommodate all tastebuds by having a range of heat options. A lot of love and labor goes into Pop's menu — from deboning pounds of chicken thighs and making slawvocado and Yoncé sauce from scratch to always having rotating agua fresca flavors on deck."
New Mexican Panko-Fried Broccoli Taco at Ermanos - "Fried and roasted veggies are my favorite way to devour them — and the red wine slaw and goat cheese poblano crema brought everything together perfectly. I can't leave out the Argentinian steak taco they paired it with. Both tacos, sadly, were only specials for Taco Tuesday. (I hope to see these two again soon.)"
Jackie Tran, Lead Writer & Photographer
E & R Pork Leg and Monsoon Chocolate Beet Cake at a birthday party - "Access to local ingredients of this quality would have been nearly impossible a decade ago. Everybody has heard that quality ingredients don't need much; however, proper technique goes a long way. The pork was juicy and fragrant with rosemary and garlic with E & R's beautiful distinct fat. The Monsoon Chocolate earthiness paired marvelously with beets — the first time I've had the combo, but I loved it."
Regalo de Vida Gran Rum at Elgin Distillery - "I'm always skeptical of awards as an indication of quality. However, this rum was freshly awarded Best Dark/Gold Rumin the world. A taste was only $2, so I tried it and was immediately blown away with what I consider the best rum I've ever tasted. And it was only about an hour away from Tucson."
Nirvana cocktail at The Parish- "I love all the ingredients included in this cocktail: house-infused bathtub gin, Domaine de Canton French ginger liqueur, lemon curd, thyme-honey syrup, lemon juice, and Chartreuse. The use of the egg from lemon curd for a shaken cocktail is genius."
Thai Curry Shrimp at Dante's Fire- "This interpretation of Thai coconut curry with shrimp is something I can shovel out of the bowl and into my mouth while watching re-runs of Futurama on my couch. The orange zest added an unexpected but welcome brightness."
What was the best thing you tasted in Tucson this month? 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...