14 November, 2019, 22:17

Your guide to 52 downtown Tucson restaurants

From authentic Mexican cuisine to local cafés and coffee shops, each restaurant offers a unique atmosphere with diverse menus and experiences.

Ever wonder if you’re missing out on a hot, new restaurant or some cool, hidden spot?

The various downtown Tucson restaurants span the gamut. From authentic Mexican, to Thai, to local cafés and coffee shops, each restaurant offers a unique atmosphere.

Whether you’re wanting to pop into a café for a hot drink, grab a cocktail at a speakeasy-style bar, or enjoy a sit-down dinner, downtown has a lot to offer.

47 Scott

47 N. Scott Ave.

Happy hour at 47 Scott (Credit: Melissa Stihl)

Quintessential American comfort food combined with quality ingredients and a cozy, brick decor make for the perfect night out. Pair their menu with an extensive drink list and you’ve got yourself a great get-together spot for family and friends.

Favorite Items:

  • Stack of Grilled Cheese – sourdough, three cheese blend, sweet & spicy dipping sauce
  • Brick House Old Fashioned – bacon-washed rye, demerara syrup, Angostura bitters

For more information, visit 47 Scott.

Agustín Kitchen

100 S. Avenida del Convento
AZ Filet Mignon at Agustin Kitchen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

AZ Filet Mignon at Agustin Kitchen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Take the streetcar to its final stop and you will arrive at Agustin Kitchen, a modern American restaurant with classic French techniques. Relish over a menu of Braised Mushrooms and Oysters in their bright and open dining space. After your meal walk around the Mercado San Agustin courtyard and enjoy the nearby shops.

Highlighted Items:

  • AK Baked Oysters – Piave, lemon, roasted garlic, citrus moonshine 
  • Az Prime Steak Frites – 10-oz sirloin, frites, whiskey béarnaise

For more information, visit Agustin Kitchen.

Baggin’s Gourmet Sandwiches

33 N. Stone Ave.
Baggin's (Photo Credit: Baggin's)

Baggin’s (Photo Credit: Baggin’s)

Baggin’s has served bagged sandwiches with a kick of southwestern flavor since 1984. They continue to provide lunchtime favorites for on-the-go customers. While you’re downtown, try one of their specialty sandwiches like the Unforgettable Baggin’s or indulge in a grilled creation like the Southwestern Tuna Melt.

Favorite Sandwiches: 

  • The Cowboy – carved chicken breast, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato and homemade ranch dressing on an eight-inch sub roll
  • Southwestern Tuna Melt – grilled tuna, jalapeños, cheddar cheese, tomatoes on sourdough
  • Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese – melted cheddar cheese, cream cheese, chopped jalapeños on Italian white bread

For more information, visit bagginsgourmet.com.

Barrio Brewing Co.

800 E. 16th St.
Hola Hefeweizen from Barrio Brewing (Photo credit: Barrio Brewing)

Hola Hefeweizen from Barrio Brewing (Photo credit: Barrio Brewing)

Barrio Brewing Co. offers a variety of microbrews, including the well known Barrio Blonde. In fact, it’s the longest running, continuously brewed beer in the state of Arizona. Enjoy with classic pub food, like “Beer Sponges,” two soft pretzels served with beer mustard.

Popular Items:

  • Potato Skins – five potato skins loaded with cheddar and Monterey jack cheese, bacon, and scallions, served with a side of buttermilk ranch
  • Pub Fried Fish Tacos – lightly battered and flash-fried cod in fresh flour tortillas with cabbage, fresh pico de gallo and habanero cream sauce, served with Charro beans
  • Diane Burger – sliced white mushrooms and onions sautéed in butter, fresh garlic, parsley, and red wine topped with melted Swiss cheese

For more information, visit barriobrewing.co.

Batch Cafe & Bar

118 E. Congress St.
We Fly High cocktail and Creme Brulee doughnut at Batch Cafe & Bar (Credit: Jackie Tran)

We Fly High cocktail and Creme Brulee doughnut at Batch Cafe & Bar (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Batch certainly isn’t your typical whiskey bar. Opened in January 2016, Batch is known for its whiskey and doughnuts. For the doughnuts, creativity is key. They offer unusual creations, such as Pink Blueberry with Fruity Pebbles.

Go-to Items:

  • El Churro – holed doughnut, cinnamon sugar coating
  • Hello Mr. Cobb – romaine, greens, avocado, chicken, blue cheese, bacon, tomato, hard-boiled egg, poppy seed dressing
  • Jon Hamm & Cheese – Provolone, black forest ham, housemade bourbon mustard, sourdough

For more information, visit batchtucson.com.

Beaut Burger

267 S. Avenida del Convento
B8 and B4 burgers at Beaut Burger (Credit: Jackie Tran)

B8 and B4 burgers at Beaut Burger (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Jump off at the Cushing Street and Avenida del Convento stop on the Sun Link (Tucson’s streetcar) and you’ll find yourself at the MSA Annex. The businesses and restaurants here are based out of shipping containers. One of which is Beaut Burger, a vegan-friendly eatery specializing in house-made “burgers” made with grains, beans, vegetables, walnuts, and spices. You’ll want a side of sweet potato fries.

Popular choices:

  • B2 – vegan burger with cheddar cheeze, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, onion, and pickles
  • B8 – vegan burger with fried onions, pickled poblano, and smoked tomato aioli
  • Scotcheroos – Rice Krispies treat topped with chocolate

For more information, visit beautburger.com.

Berry Divine

245 E. Congress St.
(Credit: Berry Divine Acai Bowls on Facebook)

(Credit: Berry Divine Acai Bowls on Facebook)

Sedona-based acai bowl restaurant Berry Divine opened it’s first Tucson location in 2019.

Although it is known for acai bowls, it also serves delightful smoothies.

Menu highlights:

  • Sedona bowl – a blend of acai, almond milk, strawberry, banana topped with hemp seed granola, strawberry, banana, honey
  • Vortex bowl – a blend of acai, coconut water, strawberry, blueberry, banana topped with hemp seed granola, blueberry, banana, chia and flax seed, toasted coconut, honey
  • Volcano bowl – a blend of acai, coconut water, pineapple, mango, strawberry, guarana topped with hemp seed granola, strawberry, blueberry, kiwi, coconut oil

For more information, visit berrydivineacai.com

Bombole Eatery

100 N. Stone
Empanadas at Bombolé Eatery (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Empanadas at Bombolé Eatery (Credit: Jackie Tran)

One of our favorite downtown Tucson restaurants, with fast counter service, great food, and a low price point. Bombole offers a hybrid of Indian and Mexican cuisines with their Indian empanadas. They also offer a fantastic lunch special.

Empanada options change frequently.

More info at eatbombole.com.

Cafe 54

54 E. Pennington St.
Interior at Cafe 54

Interior at Cafe 54 (Photo courtesy of Cafe 54 Bistro and Catering on Facebook)

Cafe 54 is the perfect spot to grab a quick bite for lunch. It also serves as more than just a restaurant by offering “a unique employment training program for adults recovering from mental illnesses.”

Menu items include salads, veggie burgers, gyros, and flatbreads. Make sure to try the dessert of the day.

Highlighted Lunch Items: 

  • Half Sandwich and Soup or Salad – Your choice of a half turkey and Swiss, tuna salad, or BLT sandwich paired with a cup of soup or side salad.
  • The Hero’s Gyro – Tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, tzatziki sauce wrapped in a toasted pita. Choice of gyro beef, all-natural grilled chicken breast or marinated baked tofu

For more information, visit Cafe 54.

Cafe a La C’Art

150 N. Main Ave.
Parmesan Crusted Ham Croissant at Cafe a la C'Art

Parmesan Crusted Ham Croissant at Cafe a la C’Art (Photo courtesy of Cafe a la C’Art on Facebook)

Café à la C’Art offers a memorable experience for its customer. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this café offers specialties like the Parmesan Crusted Turkey Croissant. You’ll feel like you’re at home in this quaint, country-style café surrounded by a patio covered in mosaic.

Go-To Items: 

  • The Rothschild – wine-braised beef brisket, roasted red peppers, chipotle aïoli, melted pepperjack, toasted kaiser
  • Grilled Flank Steak Salad – honey hoisin marinated, kalamata olives, roasted mini peppers, grape tomatoes, feta, grilled red onion, mixed greens, crispy onions, honey balsamic vinaigrette

For more information, visit Café à la C’Art.

Cafe Poca Cosa

110 E. Pennington St.
Plato Poca Cosa at Cafe Poca Cosa owner (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Plato Poca Cosa at Cafe Poca Cosa owner (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Cafe Poca Cosa offers “imaginative” cuisine highlighting different regions in Mexico. The menu changes twice throughout the day, providing customers with a unique experience each time they come in. Look out for a portable chalkboard menu that is brought to every table highlighting what chef and owner Suzana Davila is featuring for the night.

For more information, visit Cafe Poca Cosa.

Caffe Luce

245 E. Congress St.
Gibraltar at Sparkroot (Photo Credit: Jennifer Stash)

Gibraltar at Sparkroot, which has since become Caffe Luce. (Photo Credit: Jennifer Stash)

Caffe Luce offers coffee and tea, along with simply made dishes such as steel-cut oatmeal and pressed sandwiches. The interior of this coffee bar features a busy, urban-feel, using reclaimed barn wood and stainless steel accents.

The coffee is more of a dark roast as opposed to the third-wave trend of lighter roasts. Relax during the day or later in the evening when you can enjoy a selection of beer and wine.

Favorites to Enjoy With Coffee: 

  • Warm Nut Butter & Jam Sandwich on Classic Sourdough – peanut, almond butter or sun-butter with blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, apricot or fig jam
  • Pressed Gruyere Sandwich – Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, arugula ,and house-made mustard on sourdough
  • Sweet Potato Tacos – three corn tortilla tacos with chevre, purple cabbage, pico de gallo

Keep up with Caffe Luce on Facebook.

Caffé Milano

46 W. Congress St.
Interior at Caffe Milano

Interior at Caffe Milano (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Looking to take a trip to a quaint cafe in the heart of Italy? Caffe Milano will transport you in time with the help of chef Fulvia Steffenone. After establishing her own school of haute cuisine in Italy, Fulvia brought her art of cooking to Tucson.

Sample from a range of Italian dishes, including veal scaloppine, homemade Tiramisu, and tomato, basil and mozzarella bruschette.

Featured Items:

  • Pollo al Marsala – Lightly floured and pan-sauteed chicken breast in Marsala cream sauce with garden peas
  • Linguine allo Scoglio – Shrimp, mussels, clams, sea scallops in  a spicy tomato sauce over linguine
  • Strawberry & Limoncello – Strawberries with limoncello, vanilla ice cream

For more information, visit lafuficaffemilano.com.

CERES

77 W. Washington St.
Cacio e pepe at CERES

Cacio e pepe at CERES (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The Presidio newcomer transports you out of the desert and straight to Europe.

Although handmade pasta is the star, CERES offers fresh focaccia sandwiches, sweet baked treats, and a full espresso menu using locally roasted specialty coffee. The menu features the classics along with seasonal specials.

Menu Highlights:

  • Focaccia sandwich – light pesto, mozzarella, juicy slices of tomato, arugula, salami, and wisps of prosciutto
  • Tagliolini Cacio e Pepe – Parmesano Reggiano, pecorino, cream, black pepper
  • Salted Caramel Cheesecake 

Keep up with CERES on Instagram. For more information, visit cerestucson.com.

Charro Del Rey

178 E. Broadway Blvd.
Lobster Tower del Rey at Charro del Rey (Credit: Melissa Stihl)

Lobster Tower del Rey at Charro del Rey (Credit: Melissa Stihl)

Downtown restaurant Charro Del Rey, sister restaurant to Charro Steak, opened in 2019 with a focus on seafood and prime rib.

Not only is it making waves with its eco-friendly approach to business and half-off happy hour, but you can’t miss out on these menu favorites.

Favorites:

  • Branzino Veracruz – topped with a savory tomato sauce, olives, capers, nopalito, oregano, and roasted asparagus spears
  • Tower del Rey – seafood sampler built for two with lobster, oysters, crab legs, dos coronitas, oyster shooters, and shrimp.

For more information, visit charrodelrey.com.

Charro Steak

188 E. Broadway Blvd.
New York Strip Steak en Estillo Charro at Charro Steak (Credit: Jackie Tran)

New York Strip Steak en Estillo Charro at Charro Steak (Credit: Jackie Tran)

If Charro Steak sounds familiar, it is. Owned and operated by El Charro restaurants Flores family, Charro Steak is the family’s interpretation of a Sonoran steakhouse. The ranch-to-table meats provide an outstanding local experience.

Highlights:

  • Boneless Rib Eye – fourteen-ounce rib-eye steak topped with melted queso manchego, mesquite-charred chiles
  • Esquites con Crema – charred corn, crema, cotija, chile dust

For more information, visit charrosteak.com.

Cup Cafe at Hotel Congress

311 E. Congress St. 
Cast Iron Baked Eggs at Cup Cafe in Hotel Congress (Credit: Melissa Stihl)

Cast Iron Baked Eggs at Cup Cafe in Hotel Congress (Credit: Melissa Stihl)

Cup Cafe offers a full bar and dining room with features like a Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Cup Café’s menu offers items from Tofu & Tamale to Heartbreaker and Pan Roasted Salmon. Enjoy brunch after a long night dancing and enjoying live entertainment at Club Congress.

Standout Items: 

  • Cast Iron Baked Eggs – Two eggs, ham, leeks, and gruyère cheese, baked in cream and  fines herbes, with hotel potatoes, toast
  • Quiche du Jour – quiche of the day prepared from scratch, mixed greens, fresh fruit

If you’re looking for something a little more casual, head to the patio and taste Cup Cafe classics from their food trailer, Plaza Eats. The street-food focussed menu is ideal for an urban picnic vibe.

For more information, visit hotelcongress.com/family/the-cup.

Diablo Burger

312 E. Congress St.
Señor Smoke from Diablo Burger (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Señor Smoke from Diablo Burger (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Diablo Burger offers burgers that are made from “100% local, grass-fed, open-range raised, antibiotic-free, and growth-hormone-free beef.” Not only are the burgers good on the conscience, but good for the appetite as well. Options such as the Monk and Big Daddy Kane are standouts on the menu.

Noteworthy burgers:

  • Señor Smoke – ancho grilled onions, grilled avocado, bacon, cilantro & sriracha mayo
  • Big Daddy Kane – Bacon, sharp cheddar, sliced pickles and a house-made special sauce
  • DB House – blackening spice, homemade pesto, topped with an over-easy fried egg

For more information, visit diabloburger.com.

DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails

135 S. Sixth Ave.
Warm Oaxacan Bread Pudding at DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails

Warm Oaxacan Bread Pudding at DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Famed local chef Janos Wilder delivers a special dining experience at DOWNTOWN. Menu items change seasonally and are inspired by flavors ranging from Asia to Latin America, and everything in between. Great for group gatherings to enjoy specialty cuisine and drinks.

Must-try Items: 

  • Brazilian Feijoada with Picanha Steak – rich, meaty black bean stew with grilled picanha steak + chimichurri
  • Warm Oaxacan Bread Pudding – chocolate ganache, candied pecans with whipped cream

For more information, visit downtownkitchen.com.

El Charro Cafe

311 N. Court Ave.
Vegan Nopalito Enchiladas at El Charro Cafe

Vegan Nopalito Enchiladas at El Charro Cafe (Credit: Dana Sullivan)

El Charro is one of the nation’s oldest Mexican restaurants and definitely the oldest of the downtown Tucson restaurants. Featuring award-winning recipes like Banderas Enchiladas and the house carne seca, which is dried in a special cage outside the restaurant in the sun.

Standout Items: 

  • Queso Fundido – queso and crema with roasted corn and chips
  • El Charro Carne Seca Enchiladas – enchiladas baked in your choice of sauce and queso casero
  • Carlotta’s Chicken Mole – the chef’s famous chicken mole recipe served with rice and pinto beans stewed with bacon and vegetables
 For more information, visit elcharrocafe.com.

El Minuto Cafe

354 S. Main Ave.
Tomato, Onion, Green Chile Cheese Crisp at El Minuto Cafe

Tomato, Onion, Green Chile Cheese Crisp at El Minuto Cafe (Credit: Jackie Tran)

El Minuto Cafe has served “fine Mexican food” since 1939 in Tucson’s Barrio Viejo neighborhood. El Minuto offers items like Shredded Beef Chimichangas and their Combination Plate with a beef taco, tamale, cheese enchilada, and beans. After your meal, take a walk around the historic neighborhood and take in the colorful homes and scenery.

Mouthwatering Items:

  • Cheese Crisp – topped with tomato, onion, and green chilies
  • Chicken Enchiladas
  • Carne Seca Combination Plate – served with rice beans, and tortilla

For more information, visit elminutotucson.com.

Elliott’s On Congress

135 E. Congress St.
Jalapeño Poppers at Elliott's on Congress (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Jalapeño Poppers at Elliott’s on Congress (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Elliott’s is an American restaurant that provides a relaxing ambiance and great food to match. The eatery features a fully stocked bar with house-infused specialty vodkas, sporting flavors from basil to key lime. There is even Chocolate Covered Bacon. It is safe to say Elliot’s is nothing short of an experience.

Must-Try Items:

  • Jalapeño Boats – jalapeños baked with a mix of cream cheese, cheddar, shrimp and bacon. topped with a drizzle of sweet agave
  • Duck Sliders – orange-chili marinated duck, bacon, lettuce, tomato, Mandarin-mayo, wheat berry bread

For more information, visit elliottsoncongress.com.

Elvira’s

256 E. Congress St.
Flank Steak Molcajete at Elvira's (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Flank Steak Molcajete at Elvira’s (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The up-scale Mexican restaurant Elvira’s expanded from their Tubac location and opened their second location in Tucson. The beautiful space features contemporary interpretations of Latin cuisine. Expect to see complex moles, Caribbean and Thai fusions, and tequila, lots of tequila.

Highlighted Menu Items:

  • King of the Moles
  • Flank Steak Molcajete

Keep up with Elvira’s Restaurant on Facebook.

Empire Pizza & Pub

137 E. Congress St.
Elote pizza at Empire Pizza & Pub (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Elote pizza at Empire Pizza & Pub (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Empire is a pizza joint with televisions, a jukebox and the atmosphere of a classic style bar. They serve Authentic NY Style Pizza, Salad, wings and dessert. If you spend your weekends dancing into the wee hours of the night, don’t worry they are open until 3 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Empire is the perfect place to enjoy a late-night slice of pizza downtown.

Favorite Pies:

  • Blanco – white pizza with ricotta cheese, garlic, mozzarella
  • Bensonhurst – pepperoni, Canadian bacon, meatball, Italian sausage
  • Elote – roasted corn, cotija, cilantro, chipotle mayo, Tajín

For more information, visit empire.pizza.

Fired Pie  

350 E. Congress St.
Fired Pie (Photo Credit: Fired Pie)

Fired Pie (Photo Credit: Fired Pie)

If you want a customized pizza or are just eating on-the-go, come to Fired Pie and build your own original pizza and salad creation. Choose from a list of ingredients including, steak, capicola, fresh basil, and oregano.

If you have room for dessert make sure to try their warm chocolate chip pizookie with vanilla ice cream.

Pre-Constructed Options:  

  • Hawaiian BBQ – Barbecue sauce, mozzarella, Canadian bacon, pineapple, cilantro
  • Steak & Blue – Garlic and oil, mozzarella, thin-sliced steak, roasted mushroom, peppers, onion, gorgonzola
  • Meaty Italian – Tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, salami, capicola, sausage or spicy sausage

For more information, visit Fired Pie.

The Funky Monk

350 E. Congress St.
Disco-tec-a pizza at Funky Monk in Tucson (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Disco-tec-a pizza at Funky Monk in Tucson (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Loungey restaurant and nightclub Funky Monk is all about having fun. Get funky on the dance floor with booming music and psychedelic vibes.

Highlighted Lunch Items:

  • Disco Inferno – salami, Italian sausage, pepperoncini, red onion, mozzarella, red sauce
  • Buffalo Tots – tater tots, crispy chicken, cheddar, bleu Buffalo sauce, ranch drizzle, green onion

For more information, visit funkymonktucson.com.

HeeMee Coffee + Bakery

20 E. CONGRESS ST., STE. 110

Blueberry Cake at HeeMee Coffee + Bakery (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The family-run cafe on East Congress Street serves coffee and scratch-made baked goods with a French, Japanese, and Korean influence. Menu items include assorted cakes, daily specials, doughnuts, tarts, buns, and Chicken Katsu Brioche Sandwiches.

For more information, visit heemeebakery.com.

HiFi Kitchen & Cocktails

345 E. Congress St.
Tacos at HiFi Kitchen & Cocktails on Facebook

Tacos (Photo courtesy of HiFi Kitchen & Cocktails on Facebook)

Club by night, restaurant by day, Hi Fi Kitchen and Cocktails provides an open atmosphere and huge patio in a highly stylized setting. You’ll want to get there semi-early if the club scene isn’t your cup of tea. But it is definitely a great place to sit and people watch while enjoying elevated pub food such as adult milkshakes and burgers.

Highlighted Lunch Items:

  • Cuban Sandwich – slow-roasted pork, ham, pickle, swiss, mustard and mayo on toasted ciabatta
  • Sunny Side Up Burger – Angus-choice beef, pplewood smoked bacon, vine-ripened tomatos, shredded lettuce, fried egg
  • S’mores Milkshake – marshmallow vodka, graham cracker crumbles, marshmallow, chocolate syrup, whipped cream

For more information, visit hifibars.com/locations/tucson.

HUB Restaurant & Ice Creamery

266 E. Congress St.
Prime Fries and Glory Curds at HUB Restaurant & Ice Creamery (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Prime Fries and Glory Curds at HUB Restaurant & Ice Creamery (Credit: Jackie Tran)

HUB offers brunch, lunch, dinner, but most importantly, homemade ice cream. This loft-feel surrounded with brick walls and unique décor offers a dark, intimate ambiance in the evening. They serve menu items such as pastrami HUB Hash and chicken Pot Pie. End your meal with creamy, homemade ice-cream in unique flavors like Oatmeal Cookie Dough and Spiced Cider.

Favorite Items:

  • Glory Curds – Wisconsin cheddar curds flash-crisped with sriracha ketchup
  • Braised Pork Belly – 10-hour braised pork belly, serrano apple mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, agave cranberry gastric, micro greens
  • Lobster Pot Pie

For more information, visit hubdowntown.com.

Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market

11 S. Sixth Ave.
Deli at Johnny Gibson's Downtown Market

Deli at Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market

Johnny Gibson’s Market provides customers with an affordable breadth of items from tasty sandwiches to local cheese to a forgotten toothbrush. With an emphasis on locally sourcing produce, make sure to sample their variety of baked goods, deli offerings, fresh seafood, ice cream, and a wide selection of craft beer.

Standout Sandwiches:

  • Wildcat – turkey, herb cream cheese, avocado, onion bacon spread, onion, lettuce tomato
  • Veggie Heaven – hummus, herb cream cheese, hummus roasted veggies on 12-grain
  • Johnny’s Cubano – spicy dijonnaise, pickles, roasted jalapeños, ham, shredded pork shoulder, Swiss cheese

For more information, visit gibsonsmarket.com.

Kukai

267 South Avenida del Convento
MSA Annex Courtyard

Kukai in the MSA Annex Courtyard (Photo by Kate Severino)

Kukai, also based at the MSA Annex, opened in February of 2019. If you’ve never had onigiri, you’re going to want to try it here. The traditional Japanese dish is essentially a seaweed-wrapped rice ball that comes with assorted fillings like pork belly, salmon, or, for the adventurous eater, umeboshi (that’s pickled plum).

Favorites:

  • Grilled Salmon Onigiri
  • Pumpkin Korokke – Panko-battered potato croquettes
  • Spicy Tuna Hand Roll

If you can get your hands on a bowl of ramen, made with Hakata-style pork broth, lucky you! It’s only available from Thursday (until it runs out).

Read our October 2019 article If you haven’t visited MSA Annex yet, here’s what you’re missing for more.

For more information, visit eatkukai.com.

La Cocina

201 N. Court Ave.
Brunch at La Cocina (Credit: La Cocina)

Brunch at La Cocina (Credit: La Cocina)

La Cocina is known as “Tucson’s Venue with a Menu.” Dig into one of their fresh, healthy dishes like the Quinoa Bowl with braised spinach and roasted vegetables. With a courtyard surrounded by plants, string lights, and candles, you’ll be sure to enjoy a refreshing experience for brunch, lunch, and dinner with occasional live music.

Standout Dinner Items: 

  • Polenta Fries – topped with parmesan and served with remoulade
  • Southwestern Pot Roast – sirloin braised in a red wine gravy with onions, potatoes, and carrots, topped with a chile relleno and corn tortilla
  • Lemon Caper Penne – house-smoked salmon or grilled chicken breast, lemon caper cream sauce, parmesan, and roasted red peppers

For more information, visit lacocinatucson.com.

The Little One 

151 N. Stone Ave.
Breakfast Plato at the Little One, formerly Little Cafe Poca Cosa (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Breakfast Plato at the Little One (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Little Cafe Poca Cosa (The Little One) is considered “the tiny restaurant with a big heart.” Sister to Café Poca Cosa, this casual setting offers an experience you’ll never forget. The best part about it is that you won’t leave without a hug and a kiss!

Pro tip: Check out the chalkboard for daily specials and fresh juices; make sure to bring cash, as cards are not accepted.

Must-try Items:

  • Vegetarian Chile Relleno – green Anaheim chile stuffed with cheese and lightly pan-fried and smothered in tomato-based salsa ranchera
  • Quesadillas Con Pollo en Mole Negro – two corn tortilla quesadillas stuffed with melted Monterey Jack cheese and topped with chicken mole
  • Cochinito Crema De Chipotle – tender pork slow-roasted in a creamy, spicy smoked chipotle sauce

Keep up with Friends of The Little One on Facebook.

Maynards Market & Kitchen

400 N. Toole Ave.
Spread of happy hour items at Maynards Market

Spread of happy hour items at Maynards Market (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Maynards Market is a light, airy market where you can buy a variety of food, drinks, and other goods. This intimate area features a deli, coffee bar, bakery, and provides food such as Pain au Chocolat and Avocado Barrio Toast. Maynards also features a small retail section where you can purchase items from vendors around the Tucson area. Maynards Kitchen features an elegant restaurant for dinner.

Seasonal Kitchen Favorites:

  • Prince Edward Island Mussels – steamed in dry white wine, charred fennel, espelette, garlic, orange butter, mint
  • Green Chile Roasted Pork Belly – tepary bean puree, potato escabeche, young greens
  • Piña Colada Cheesecake – Passionfruit Sauce

For more information, visit hotelcongress.com/family/maynards.

Miss Saigon

47 N. Sixth Ave.
Pho xe lua dac biet at Miss Saigon (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Pho xe lua dac biet at Miss Saigon (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Although Miss Saigon on Campbell is the most popular, the downtown location is open late and convenient for post-drinking slurping.

Favorites:

  • Vietnamese Spring Rolls – shrimp and broiled pork shredded green vermicelli wrapped in chilled rice paper
  • Miss Saigon Special Beef Noodle Soup – rare beef, broiled beef slices, tendon, tripe and beef meatballs
  • Jasmine Rice with Grilled Pork Chops Combo – Charbroiled pork chop, shrimp paste and shredded pork, served with jasmine rice

For more information, visit misssaigontucson.com.

Nook

1 E. Congress St.
Korean Burger at Nook

Korean Burger at Nook (Photo by Jackie Tran)

Nook promises a kick in the morning with their menu of Cinnamon Roll Griddlecakes, Honey Chipotle Carnitas Benedict and Nourish Bowl. Tucson’s vibrant personality is translated into Nook’s urban interpretations of home-cooked food. If you are in a rush, don’t forget about their Grab and Go Delivery service, which will bring you your favorite items in 30 minutes or less in the downtown area.

Tasty Bites: 

  • Steak Salad – hanger steak, arugula, goat cheese, granola, roasted sweet potatoes, lemon vinaigrette

For more information, visit nookdowntown.com.

OBON Sushi Bar Ramen

350 E. Congress St. 
Rainbow Poke Bowl at OBON Sushi + Bar + Ramen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Rainbow Poke Bowl at OBON Sushi + Bar + Ramen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Whether you are coming in for a quick bite during a night out, dinner with friends, or stopping by for lunch, OBON is a must-try. Named after the vibrant Japanese celebration of family and life, Brandon Katz hopes to bring a taste of Japan to Tucson. The menu offers everything from small plates of Pork Dumplings to Bibimbop, poke, an extensive sushi menu, ramen, and steam buns. 

Standout Items:

  • Rainbow Poke – fresh fish, cucumber, jalapeno, poke dressing, seaweed salad, avocado, sushi rice or mixed greens

For more information, visit fukushuconcepts.com/obon/tucson.

Penca

50 E. Broadway Blvd.
Ensalada de Betabel at Penca

Ensalada de Betabel at Penca (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Penca offers upscale Mexico City Cuisine and an extensive bar with international cocktails. Enjoy a variety of tasty bites within their modern and cozy space with old wood and brick surrounded walls. Menu items include Ceviche and Tacos and a Guacamole Board, with queso fresco, pico de gallo and tomatillo salsa.

Fall menu specialties:

  • Ensalada de Betabel – pickled beet, roasted beet, goat cheese, pumpkin seed salsa, and orange vinaigrette
  • Albóndigas – meatballs with pork, beef, and chicharrón served on grits, with guajillo morita salsa
  • Chamorro en Pipián Rojo – lamb shank, grilled corn, chayote squash, pickled vegetables, and corn horchata dumplings

For more information, visit pencarestaurante.com.

Mo’s Burger & Poke Bar

54 W. Congress St.
Salmon Poke at Mo's Burger & Poke

Salmon Poke at Mo’s Burger & Poke (Photo courtesy of Pokezone on Facebook)

Earlier this year, PokeZone rebranded as Mo’s Burger & Poke Bar. While poke is still available, burgers, loaded fries, flatbreads, and poke tacos have been added to the menu.

Featured:

  • Poke Bowl
  • The Fire Fries – melted cheese, Hot Cheetos, Jalapeños, and spicy mayo drizzled on top
  • Jalapeno Chicken Avocado Flatbread – marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, chicken, fresh jalapenos, avocado, with spicy mayo sauce drizzled on the top

For more information, visit mbptucson.com.

Raptor Canyon Cafe

75 E. Pennington St.
Raptor Canyon Cafe Cookie Varieties (Credit: Melissa Stihl)

Raptor Canyon Cafe Cookie Varieties (Credit: Melissa Stihl)

Husband-and-wife team Dennis and Konni Calello operate the family-owned restaurant along with their sons Ken and Frank Calello.

An interest in birds of prey drew them to Arizona and has inspired this homestyle cafe. The menu focusses on breakfast, lunch, and baked goods.

Locally roasted coffee and the smell of freshly baked cookies will greet you on entering — don’t leave without a stack of the warm, sugary treats.

Menu highlights:

  • One Egg Biscuit with Meat and Cheese – homemade biscuit with one egg and cheese with your choice of our breakfast meats
  • Chicken Bacon Guac Sandwich – Chicken, Bacon, Guacamole, Lettuce, Tomato
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookie

For more information, visit raptorcanyoncafe.com.

Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink

101 E. Pennington St.
TF-Cheese-Board-Reilly-Craft-Pizza-Drink

Cheese Board at Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink (Credit: Melissa Stihl)

Reilly is a modern Italian restaurant and artisan pizzeria with a casual setting. It has an urban feel with its vaulted ceilings and original chalk art on the walls. Menu items include delicious Stracciatella Cheese with Toast and Fennel Sausage and Roasted Pepper brick-oven pizza. Great for a relaxing meal paired with a glass of red wine.

Must-Try Items:

  • Brussels Sprouts – house hot sauce, sherry vin., pecan brittle crumbs
  • Rigatoni – vodka sauce, basil, grana padano
  • Yukon Gold Potato & Pecorino Pizza – mozzarella, roasted garlic, rosemary

Don’t sleep on Reilly Beer Garden or underground bar Tough Luck Club either.

For more information, visit reillypizza.com.

Seis Kitchen

100 S. Avenida del Convento
Seis-Chata, Chorizon con Papas breakfast tacos at Seis Kitchen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Cochata, Chorizon con Papas breakfast tacos at Seis Kitchen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Located in the Mercado San Agustin, Seis offers cuisine from several regions of Mexico. The restaurant also offers fresh market fish selections for a gourmet step up from the typical fish taco. Handmade corn tortillas and house-made chorizo are also the main draws.

Favorites:

  • Cochinita Pibil – achiote roasted pork, pickled red onion, cilantro, queso fresco
  • Birria – guajillo chile-stewed beef, pico de gallo, queso fresco, fresh lime
  • Cochata – cold brew coffee, house horchata

For more information, visit seiskitchen.com.

Senae Thai Bistro

63 E. Congress St.
Gaeng Pa at Senae Thai Bistro (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Gaeng Pa at Senae Thai Bistro (Credit: Jackie Tran)

For a blend of authentic and contemporary Thai dishes with hyperlocal ingredients, visit Senae. Even though the vibe is elegant, lunch specials are still quite affordable.

Must-Try Items:

  • Som Thum – shredded green papaya, mixed with long beans, cherry tomatoes, and peanuts
  • Kao Soy – crispy egg noodles, served in yellow curry and coconut milk, garnished with pickled cabbage, red onions, and beansprouts
  • Pra Ram Steak – grilled steak, served with fried Brussels sprouts, glazed with peanut sauce

For more information, visit senaethai.com.

Street Taco & Beer Co.

58 W. Congress St.
(Image courtesy of Street Taco and Beer Co. on Facebook)

(Image courtesy of Street Taco and Beer Co. on Facebook)

Street Taco and Beer Co. is bringing the heat with a menu chock full of delicious Tacos, Ceviche, and Warm Churros. Enjoy two or maybe five tacos at only 3 bucks a pop with a refreshing Agua Fresca. After an evening at the nearby Fox Theaters, sit along the outdoor bar and enjoy fresh tacos while watching the vibrant scene downtown. 

Tasty Tacos: 

  • Al Pastor – marinated pork taco with fresh cabbage slaw and condiments
  • Pollo Asado – grilled chicken taco with fresh cabbage and condiments
  • Asada – steak taco with fresh cabbage slaw and condiments

Keep up with Street Taco & Beer on Facebook.

Ten55 Brewing Company

110 E. Congress St.
Ten55 Brewing Company

Ten55 Brewing Company (Credit: Melissa Stihl)

Phenomenal local sausage on equally phenomenal local bread packaged into a local brewhouse. And those beers are phenomenal, too.

Menu highlights:

  • BBQ Brisket Sliders – Slow-braised brisket made with our XOXO Stout barbeque sauce and cabbage slaw on Viro’s Bread
  • Bratwurst
  • Exo Stout

More info at 1055brewing.com.

Urban Fresh

73 E. Pennington St.
Healthy Heart Taco Salad at Urban Fresh (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Healthy Heart Taco Salad at Urban Fresh (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Urban Fresh is known as a “Vegucational Experience” due to its fresh, natural ingredients and health and wellness education. This plant-based restaurant offers quick and easy lunch options such as Nourishing Smoothies and abundant Grateful Greens salads. With its intimate café feel, Urban Fresh offers a unique and healthy experience.

Delicious Items: 

  • Rainforest Purple Haze – smoothie of blueberries, acai, apple and black cherries
  • South of the Border Wrap – mushroom-adzuki bean mix, guacamole, pico de gallo, corn, spinach, roasted green chiles, wrapped in a chipotle tortilla
  • Yin and Yang – rice noodles, sunflower shoots, carrot, celery, zucchini, mint, orange segments, cashews, romaine mix, sesame ginger dressing

For more information, visit urbanfreshtucson.com.

Urban Pita

345 E. Congress St. Ste. 135
Baklava and meat plate at Urban Pita (Credit: Taylor Noel Photography)

Baklava and meat plate at Urban Pita (Credit: Taylor Noel Photography)

If you’re a fan of flavorful Mediterranean food and want to sample creamy, fragrant sauces, fresh salads, soft pita, and a juicy gyro meat plate, you’ve come to the right place.

Urban Pita is a great lunch-time or late-night spot with swift service in a fast-casual environment.

Highlights:

  • Meat Plate Combo – gyro and chicken shawarma served with Greek salad, hummus, and pita
  • Chicken Shawarma Plate – served with Greek salad, hummus, pita, and garlic sauce
  • Couscous bowl – topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sauce, and your choice of gyro or chicken

For more information, visit urbanpitaaz.com.

Restaurants within walking distance of downtown:

5 Points Market & Restaurant

756 S. Stone Ave. 
5 Points

Smoked Salmon Benedict (Credit: 5 Points)

Just a few minutes from downtown, 5 Points Market & Restaurant offers a menu of fresh and delicious samplings. 5 Points is the perfect place for Sunday brunch, or a quick breakfast or lunch throughout the workday. Make sure to sample the Smoked Salmon Benedict and the freshly-squeezed juices. 

Breakfast items:

  • Smoked Salmon Benedict – English muffin, garlic basil cream cheese, smoked wild Alaskan salmon, poached egg, and a balsamic reduction, served with a mustard potato pancake
  • Bandito Blanco – Mustard potato pancake, grilled shaved ham, poached egg, mornay sauce and pico de gallo with fresh herbs
  • Smoked Beet Sandwich – house-smoked organic beets, local pecan ‘cheese,’ jalapeño-cabbage slaw, house-made organic ciabatta

For more information, visit 5pointstucson.com.

Cafe Desta

758 S. Stone Ave.
Cafe Desta Ethiopian Cuisine

Cafe Desta Ethiopian Cuisine

Looking for something off the beaten path? Try Cafe Desta, one of only two locations in Tucson (three if you count both Zemam’s) for authentic Ethiopian cuisine. Each menu item includes a complex and rich variety of spices highlighting the flavors of Ethiopia. Menu items include a variety of meat, vegetarian, and vegan stews. Mix and match dishes to create a truly unique experience.

Items to Try:

  • Kik – Yellow split peas cooked with onion, turmeric and herbs
  • Kaya Beg – Lamb cooked in a mixture of spices with hot chilies and onions
  • Kaye Asa – Fish cooked in hot chili powder onions and various spices

Keep up with Cafe Desta on Facebook.

The Coronet

198 W. CUSHING ST.
Interior at the Coronet

Interior at the Coronet (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The location features over 5,000-square-feet of space, almost tripling the current 1,700-square-feet housing The Coronet’s former location at 402 E. Ninth St.

For more information on the transition, read our May 2019 article Cushing Street Bar & Restaurant to Reopen as the Coronet and our August 2019 article Photo Feature: The Coronet to open on Cushing Street, August 29.

Highlighted Dinner Items: 

  • Tuna Crudo – House harissa, new potatoes, Moroccan olives, scallion, extra-virgin olive oil
  • East African Lamb Tenderloin – House lebneh, Moroccan olive tabbouleh, root vegetable cakes, butternut squash, fried mint
  • Beet & Halloumi – Grilled halloumi, shallot, toasted hazelnut, roasted beets, lemon tahini vinaigrette
  • Tennessee Bird Walk – Bourbon, Averna, lavender, egg white, lemon, orange bitters

The Coronet’s sister restaurant Fonda La Hermanita is on the same property. The menu features a small selection of fresh, wholesome Mexican dishes along with a few daily changing baked goods.

For more information, visit coronettucson.com.

Ermanos Craft Beer & Wine Bar

220 N. Fourth Ave.
Fried chicken at Ermanos Craft Beer & Wine Bar (Credit Jackie Tran)

Fried chicken at Ermanos Craft Beer & Wine Bar (Credit Jackie Tran)

Come to Ermanos and enjoy your favorite local beer or wine over gourmet gastropub fare. Beers range from Dragoon, Iron John’s, Pueblo Vida to New York’s Ommegang and the well-known Tecate. Bring your friends and share a few plates of nachos, fries, and more.

Essentials:

For more information, visit ermanosbrew.com.

The Libertine

402 E. NINTH ST.
Facade at the Libertine (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Facade at the Libertine (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The original space for The Coronet has transformed into a cocktail lounge known as The Libertine. Guests can indulge in a handful of snacks, cocktails, and other drinks on one of the best patios in town.

For more information, visit libertinetucson.com.

Let us know your favorite downtown Tucson restaurants in the comments! (Especially if we missed one…)

[This article was originally written on May 3, 2019, and most recently updated on November 13, 2019.]

Tucson Foodie is the leading online source for all things food in Tucson, Arizona. Have an event, recipe, or piece of news we should know about? Send it to info@tucsonfoodie.com.

X