Tito & Pep makes a strong showing, but read on for 16 other items you might love, too.
Adam Lehrman: Maru Japanese Noodle, I Love Tacos & Divine Bovine
Maru Japanese Noodle Shop
Full disclosure on this one – these guys are advertisers of ours. But that’s by no means why I’m including them. I don’t actually tag along on photo shoots like I used to, but I was curious about their ramen and went along. I wasn’t expecting 4 bowls of ramen to shoot – only one. But Maru served us the Tonkotsu, Tantan, Creamy Vegetable, and Cold Ramen and I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you it was some of the best ramen I’ve had in town. They don’t use MSG, which is not something I typically care about, but it’s good to know. The flavors are still up front and bold, but not as bold as some of the other spots in town.
I Love Tacos
This truck can be found in the Naughton’s Plumbing parking lot on west Prince. It’s white with black spots, like a cow. Everything I tasted was pretty darn delicious, but the chicharron was the most original version I can remember trying.
This newcomer burger joint, helmed by former Brushfire BBQ owner, Ben Rine, opened in the former La Salsa at Speedway and Wilmot. On a recent visit, we tried the restaurant’s namesake burger, along with the Funny Farm Hand and some of their triple fried French fries. These are high-level burgers. Zinburger-level and beyond. Great execution, phenomenal buns. I was told that the first 4 months were a little tough as they dialed in their systems, but it sure seemed dialed in and delicious on our visit.
Adam Lehrman is Tucson Foodie’s founder, publisher and creative director. And sales guy.
Jennifer Teufel Schoenberger: Piazza Gavi, Pop’s Chicken, Ruiz Hot Dogs
Hadn’t been to Piaza Gavi’s in years. I was in the Bolognese-on-the-patio kinda mood so I dropped in. I had forgotten how really on the nose he does that bolognese sauce. Warm, rich, layered, and just a bit creamy with lots (lots) of extra Parmesan sprinkled on top. Perfect thing to share (it’s a huge portion) with a friend while watching the monsoon drench our town.
Pop’s Hot Chicken
Had the XHot Fried Chicken Sandwich from Pop’s Hot Chicken truck about 5 days ago. I’m still sweating. SPICY, all caps intended. It is deliciously paired with a creamy avocado slaw and the crunch from the fried chicken on the soft roll made this, my favorite sandwich of the month. If you don’t like the heat get “no spice” or “mild” both are delicious and fresh. Get there early because there is always a line. Follow them on IG to get their schedule.
Ruiz Hot Dogs Los Chipilones
National Hot Dog Day took me down to Ruiz’s Hot Dog Cart (on 22nd at 6th Ave) for a Sonoran Dog. Now that, of course, was delish, but the kicker for me is a true vice of mine: Tostilocos. A bag of Tostitos cut on the horizontal side and covered in Chamoy. It’s difficult for me to limit myself to one bag. There is absolutely no way for me to frame this in any other way: #PureGluttony
Jennifer Teufel Schoenberger joined Tucson Foodie in 2018.
Kate Severino: Elvira’s, Apple Annie’s, Tito & Pep
From the service to the quality of food and drink presented at Elvira’s downtown, the experience was memorable from start to finish. If you’re looking to be blown away, I’d recommend starting your night with the Farm Fresh cocktail while you await their Cheese Crisp appetizer. You’ll need a friend/date/eating partner to help you through because both the bubbling Flank Steak Molajetes and smoky Mole Negro entrees are too good to pass up. You won’t have space for dessert but their Chile Flan with vanilla bean ice cream is fantastic — give it a try, even if you can only manage a bite. Each dish was generously portioned and big on flavor — an easy choice for my highlight of the month.
Roasted corn from Apple Annie’s Produce & Pumpkins. Fresh roasted corn with a variety of seasonings that include chile lime and lemon pepper. I’m aware that it’s peach-picking season but I’d drive all the way to Willcox just for the corn.
Tito & Pep
I’m going to jump on the Bibb Salad bandwagon. We all loved it. I might go back for round two (with the addition of their Cactus Cooler cocktail) before it departs from the seasonal menu. Summer ingredients, such as ripe stone fruit, make a spectacular appearance on the bed of well-dressed lettuce and pair well with the creamy chèvre and surprise crunch from the hazelnuts. The guajillo vinaigrette is the stand out and draws you in bite after bite.
Kate Severino is the Tucson Foodie online editor.
Melissa Stihl: Taqueria Juanitos, Kukai, Tito & Pep
Carne Asada & Eggs Plate at Taqueria Juanitos
The Eggs are super light and fluffy, piled high with chewy nuggets of Carne Asada throughout the scramble. Served with slices of fresh avocado, rice and refried beans, with your choice of corn or flour tortillas. Don’t skimp on the fresh house-made salsa. This $6 meal could easily serve two, or take some home and eat with leftover tortillas when your hangover subsides. That’s what I did, and I highly recommend it. Be sure to grab a $1 cream-filled churro, fresh outta the fryer for the drive home on your way out the door.
Tuna Mayo Onigiri at Kukai
This tastes just like the mayo-laden canned tuna you ate on Wonder Bread in your suburban kitchen before you ran out the door to the neighbor kid’s house. But it’s a Japanese version, and I mean that in the best possible way. The rice is perfectly cooked, you get salt from the Nori wrap, and the tuna and mayo combo is so perfectly creamy. It’s an ideal snack to grab while you wander through the MSA Annex, or pair it with a beer at Westbound.
Bibb Lettuce Salad from Tito & Pep
This is the salad that I want to eat all day, every day for the rest of summer. The stone fruit was perfectly ripe, the lettuce was crispy and the creamy chevre complimented each bite. The real star of the show was the guajillo vinaigrette, and it’s something I am actively trying to recreate the flavor of at home. It’s like a lightened up version of my favorite Sriracha ranch dressing and I want it on everything in my life this summer.
We refer to Tucson Foodie team member Melissa Stihl as Goddess & Guardian of the ‘Grams. As in, “Instagrams.”
Matt Sterner: Brother John’s, Tumerico, Tito & Pep
Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon & BBQ
I recently made my way into Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon & BBQ and powered through the Pulled Pork Cobb Salad. The salad meaty and so dense that it took me a couple sittings to finish. It’s the perfect salad if you’re looking for a hefty meal.
I’m a part-time vegetarian, meaning that I tend to avoid meat a couple times a month, and when I’m craving something really tasty and so good that you forget you’re not eating meat, I go to Tumerico. I recently had the Cuban Tacos and they always knock me out of my seat – in a good way.
Tito & Pep
My first time visiting Tito & Pep wasn’t a disappointment and it’s mainly because of the new Sea of Cortez Shrimp. They’re much spicier than they appear. In fact, just the right amount of spicy.
Matt Sterner, Tucson Foodie event contributor, never sleeps.
Jackie Tran: Nook, Chef Wang’s, El Taco Rustico & Senae Thai
Hanger Steak & Eggs at Nook
Arizona raised-beef as a steak for a $12, what a deal.The smoked red chimichurri has a nice heat and acidity that balances the richness of both the beef and the crispy, fluffy smashed potatoes. Mix in the egg yolk et voila.
House Spicy Dry Chili Pig Feet at Chef Wang Chinese Restaurant
Pig feet aren’t for everybody; you need to pick at the bones for barely any meat. The tender-yet-slightly-chewy tendon and thick, barely crunchy skin is packed with gelatin, so your napkin will stick to your fingers and fall apart. The savory spicy seasoning is just spicy enough to get your nose flowing.
Costilla at El Taco Rústico
There’s something romantic about gnawing on a lime-spritzed beef rib at an open air taco stand while enjoying the mesquite-perfumed breeze from a mounted fan.
Guoy Theow Reuh at Senae Thai Bistro
This Thai soup features rice noodles in a beef stock, aromatic with with star anise, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, and lemongrass. It tastes similar to pho, but the sweetness from cinnamon comes through stronger here. Senae’s version in particular stands out thanks to their use of locally sourced herbs, which provides an integral freshness that makes Senae easily my favorite Thai in Tucson.
Bibb Salad at Tito & Pep
Fresh off their new summer menu, this balanced salad features lettuce properly dressed with a bright guajillo vinaigrette. Stone fruit provides a soft sweetness, while hazelnuts and chevre provide a crunch and soft richness to complete the balance for an exceptional salad.
Tucson Foodie team member Jackie Tran is the lead writer and photographer for Tucson Foodie.