Writing these articles 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 wave to 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 our second list of under-the-radar hidden gems in Tucson. Stay tuned for additional volumes.
Tucked away in the northeastern outskirts of Tucson, Ginza doesn't get enough traffic from the rest of Tucson. However, Ginza's cuisine makes it worthy as a culinary destination. While you can have a once-in-a-lifetime caliber meal by ordering omakase at the sushi bar, you can also gather with friends for libations and shared food izakaya style.
For more information, visit ginzatucson.com.
JPS features a wide variety of mariscos, or Mexican seafood. Enjoy quality Gulf shrimp raw on a towering tostada or sauteed with garlic and peppers.
While the restaurant itself makes it a worthy destination for lunch, check out the market as well. The wild-caught seafood comes in an impressive array of options ranging from Gulf shrimp and oysters to geoduck and blue crab. The kitchen will also prepare or fry your order upon request.
Read our October 2018 article Swimmingly Successful: JPS Seafood Hooks the Market.
For more information, visit jpsseafood.com.
Hidden west of downtown, Los Olivos has a loyal following just for its pizza. However, you'll find a variety of other Italian dishes at an exceptionally affordable price.
Read our January 2018 article Los Olivos Pizzeria is a charming hidden gem on Tucson's west side.
Keep up with Los Olivos Pizzeria en Menlo Park on Facebook.
"Cooking with love" might be a tired trope, but you can feel it as soon as you walk into the door at Renee's. They've focused on local and organic ingredients since before it was cool, and they list their local vendors online too.
See the pizza above? If you happen to have leftovers, eat it the next day with a fried egg on top. Magic.
For more information, visit reneesorganicoven.com.
While Tucson has a beautiful bounty of Sonoran cuisine available at its fingertips, our other Central American options are lacking. Thankfully, Selena's brings the cuisine of El Salvador.
The pupusa is the star here. If you enjoy tacos with corn tortillas, then you will love the pupusa with ingredients such as cheese, loroco buds, beans, chicharrón, slaw (curtido), and spicy tomato salsa.
Read our September 2019 article Selena’s brings Salvadorian food to former Desert Island Eatery space.
Keep up with Selena’s Salvadorian Restaurant on Facebook.
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...