Here are the best things the Tucson Foodie team tasted in September

September 26, 2019
By Tucson Foodie

Highlights include new spots in town and timeless favorites.

Looking for fresh bites and forgotten treasures to return for?

Here are the Tucson Foodie staff picks of the best things we tasted this month.

Adam Lehrman, Founder

Cemita at El Antojo Poblano (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Cemita at El Antojo Poblano (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Cemita at El Antojo de Poblano

We’ve talked about this sandwich before, but possibly not as a best bite. Really, it’s such a unique and tasty sandwich. And it’s at a food truck.

Breakfast Tacos at Raptor Canyon Cafe

Alright, these things might not be winning any awards, but I’m a sucker for breakfast tacos. And these babies got every last bite of ’em eaten.

Kate Severino, Editor

Carnitas at Carnitas Estilo Michoacán Los Gordos
Carnitas at Carnitas Estilo Michoacán Los Gordos (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Carnitas tacos at Carnitas Los Gordos (aka the pink school bus)
Brand-spanking new to Tucson, the pink taco bus rolled in with the flavor and delivered. The whole experience was excellent — the service, the seating inside the bus (a fun addition), and the juicy carnitas, a pork dish from Michoacán, Mexico. Get it as a plate and help yourself to the freshly stocked self-serve salsa bar inside.
Queen Creek Chopped Salad at Queen Creek Olive Mill

Last weekend was my first experience at Queen Creek Olive Mill. If you haven’t been, get over there. The Olive Oil 101 Tour is informative, the gardens a delightful escape from the desert scenery, and you’ll likely leave the store with several bottles of their olive oil (extra virgin and infusions). What takes a salad — featuring mixed greens, cukes, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, Genoa salami, red onions, and feta — to the next level? Queen Creek Meyer Lemon Olive Oil dressing, of course. 😉

Side note: There’s a family-friendly Garlic Festival taking place at the Olive Mill this weekend with live music, food trucks, and a beer and wine garden — check it out if you’re up for a day trip on either Saturday or Sunday, it’s a 90 minute drive.

Grilled Trout at Tito & Pep
A whopper of a trout met us upstream (well… found its way to our table) on a glorious, quiet weekday evening. The dish, paired perfectly with sautéed Swiss chard and guajillo chile, was topped with crunchy fried garlic, which provided unbelievable texture. Why yes, I was licking my lips all the way home.
Barrio Hochesso (horchata with espresso) at Barista del Barrio

Post-Community Food Bank Hunger Walk, I whipped on over to the pup-friendly neighborhood coffee spot for refreshment. Barista del Barrio’s iced, house-made cinnamon rice drink with espresso, aka Barrio Hochesso, is my favorite on the menu and never fails to satisfy. Real question though… how many is too many? Asking for a friend.

Melissa Stihl, Content Creator

Elote pizza at Empire Pizza & Pub (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Elote pizza at Empire Pizza & Pub (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Hub Burger at HUB Restaurant & Ice Creamery

I am usually a purist when it comes to burgers. I only want lettuce, tomato, onion slices, and cheese (Swiss preferably). But I recently got to try the Hub Burger and it was amazing. Perfectly charred on a toasted bun with thinly sliced house-made pastrami, creamy coleslaw, and melty Swiss cheese. Burger fans: do yourself a favor and head to The Hub to try this burger.

Pepperoni Pizza with Spicy Honey at Charred Pie

This is the pizza in Tucson that I have been searching for. There’s a place in New York that I used to go to all the time called Prince Street Pizza. I went there often for two reasons: tiny pepperoni and spicy honey. The little pepperoni cups curl up around the edges when cooked and form little bowls filled with hot oil. Jackie Tran describes them as “cuppy pepperoni.” Newly opened Charred Pie has the cuppy pepperoni. They also have a hot honey that they infuse with jalapeno in house. The combination is perfect and it instantly transported me back to Prince Street, sitting on the curb chowing down on my favorite pizza.

Costine di Manzo al Barbera di Paolo (Braised Short Ribs) at Tavolino Ristorante Italiano

Fall weather is upon us in Tucson and I’m craving hearty dishes and braised meats. The braised short ribs at Tavolino are cozy perfection. The meat is tender and falls off the bone, and the toasty gnocchi is the perfect complement. If you’re craving something cozy, try this dish.

Elote Pizza from Empire Pizza

With the end of summer came a lot of poolside hangs for me and my group of friends. Delivery Elote Pizza from Empire is the perfect go-to move for poolside dining. Seriously… I’ve ordered it three times in the past month. We’ve mentioned the Elote Pizza before on Tucson Foodie (we even have a video of it), but it’s so good it’s worth repeating.

Jackie Tran, Lead Writer & Photographer

Birria taco and bistek encebollado taco at El Taco Rustico
Birria taco and bistek encebollado taco at El Taco Rustico (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Suadero tacos from Carnitas Los Equipales

I’ve come back at least four weekends in a row for these juicy, crunchy pork belly tacos. They are ready at around 9 a.m. and often sell out within two hours. If you can handle spice, ask for the superb extra-hot salsa.

Bistek Encebollado tacos from El Taco Rustico

I’ve also had these a few weeks in a row. Carne asada is already fantastic with just salt, but it becomes a guilty pleasure with grilled onions and bacon.

Couch Potato Pizza at Charred Pie

I was happy to see pizzaiolo Luke back in Tucson at Charred; I was always a fan of his crust, and he hasn’t lost his touch. While all the Charred pizzas I tasted were great, the soft egg yolk on the Couch Potato melded beautifully with the slices of Yukon, sharp pecorino, and fragrant rosemary.

Chicken Mole at El Torero

I’m proud of my ability to reverse-engineer dishes through tasting them, but mole is outside of my grasp. At El Torero, their mole features the expected earthiness and spice complexity, but the fruit forwardness brought a lovely balanced sweetness and acidity that was difficult to pinpoint.

Regular Pupusa at Selena’s Salvadorian Restaurant

Although a patty of thick masa sounded too heavy for me, the dish ended up being light thanks to the Salvadorian coleslaw curtido and catch-you-off-guard spicy pickles. Definitely a must-try.

What was the best thing you tasted in Tucson this month? Let us know in the comments.

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Want more? Read up on other best bites in 2019 (organized by month):

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