From scallops to other flan-tastic choices.
Looking for fresh bites and forgotten treasures to return for?
Here are the Tucson Foodie staff picks of the best things we tasted in December.
Jenn Teufel, Partner
Parisian Gnocchi at Maynards – These perfect pillows were light and lemony and browned in butter just a bit. They were, quite possibly, my favorite gnocchi ever. Rich enough with the ricotta but the dough was perfectly worked so as not to be gummy. Loved it.
Cochinito en Crema de Chipotle at The Little One – I have great affection for this sweet Mexican cafe. My favorite lunch, perhaps in Tucson, is a side order of their Cochinito en Crema de Chipotle. I just get that little bowl of warmth—the tender pork simmered in a cream sauce with just a hint of peppery heat—and I ignore the delicious chips et al and mack that perfect yumminess down. I always return to work happy.
Baba Ghanoush at Med Cuisine – I know, a food court stall as a favorite bite, WHAT? Here’s the deal, I love Baba Ghanoush and they do it right. The smoky eggplant with garlic, lemon, tahini…yes! I get their pita chips instead of the pita bread and I’m done.
Kate Severino, Editor
Hawaiian Latte at Coffee X Change — There’s only one wake-up solution for 2 p.m. around the holidays: espresso. Although caffeine usually has adverse effects on my body, my wandering mind (settling on beach locations far and wide) needed to refocus. The pep to my step came in what I will now refer to as Hawaii in a cup: espresso, coconut milk, honey, and cinnamon. Cue the luau.
Blueberry Pancake at Baja Cafe —I’m not usually a sweets-for-breakfast kind of gal but I’ll do it for the syrup pour. I only *intended* to eat half the blueberry pancake in my Eggs and a Pancake Combo breakfast. Each bite was fluffy with bursts of real blueberry and spongy sweetness from the syrup stream. Oh, and too good to save.
Pollo en Mole Negro at The Little One — I celebrated a birthday this month and was granted my restaurant pick for lunch. With the dropping temps in the Old Pueblo, the mission was for something cozy that packed a flavorful punch. Enter Pollo en Mole Negro — a rich dish featuring shredded chicken robed in a blend of bitter-sweet chocolate, mild red dried chiles, ground peanuts, sesame and pumpkin seeds… “and a few other Davila secrets.” Warmth in each hearty bite—birthday wishes do come true.
Chicken Tortilla Soup at Salsa Verde — Don’t wear a white shirt when you visit. The firey soup, both in color and spice, needs no addition. Bright flavor, fresh veg, unexpected chunks of creamy avocado, and thin crispy strips atop the molten broth make this a go-to order.
Scallops at Maynards — Four plump scallops arrived dripping in decadent quince butter, showered with cubes of roasted sweet potato and pecans, and a sprinkling of dill. The dish provided hints of sweetness with each succulent bite. And the char on the scallops, heavenly. I ordered it as an entree: portion and satisfaction doubled.
Chorizo Hash at Le Buzz Caffe — It’s back! Well, it’s on the Weekly Specials menu once again, served with tortillas rather than toast. If you see it, order it. If it runs out before I get there, I will find you.
Matt Sterner, Event Contributor
Breakfast Pizza at Teaspoon — I was feeling fancy and decided to go to brunch one weekend, and I found myself having a pretty good time at Teaspoon. I ordered the Breakfast Pizza, which was loaded with chorizo, sausage gravy, potatoes, red peppers, parmesan, and mixed greens on top of sourdough bread. It went well with my Huss Brewing Company’s Koffee Kolsch.
Tableside salsa at Guadalajara Grill — I didn’t eat out much this past month but I did step away to enjoy the tableside salsa at the original Guadalajara Grill. It’s one of my favorite things about visiting the restaurant, and don’t skip out on one of their hefty margaritas either.
Melissa Stihl, Content Creator
Dinner with Chefs at PY Steak House – Chef Ryan Clark and the team’s Charred Beed Tenderloin at the most recent “Dinner with Chefs” experience might just go down in my personal food history as the beef tenderloin that made me believe in beef tenderloin again. A cut of meat that I typically eschew, I firmly believed that this prized cut of meat was usually bland and unremarkable. I sliced into the filet at PY Steakhouse and happily realized that this steak was anything but unremarkable. It was perfect and tasty with a triple cream blue cheese and walnut crust, served with an agave heart demi-glaze. Thanks for making me a believer again, chef Clark.
Ground Beef w/ Bean Sauce Mixed Noodles at Just Noodles – I got called in last minute to assist on a recent photoshoot at Tucson’s newest noodle spot, Just Noodles. And holy cow, I am so glad I did! I had come from lunch and was headed to dinner, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying three giant scoops of these noodles. The fermented bean sauce was sweet and funky (in a good way) and the fresh veggies were crisp and provided a great contrasting texture to the noodles. If you go check out Just Noodles, be sure to try this dish.
Jackie Tran, Lead Writer and Photographer
Verde Pizza at Anello – After being disappointed by a high-profile pizzeria in Sedona, I ended up craving Anello; it hit the spot. The Verde pizza featured smoked mozzarella, arugula sauce, and pistachios on Anello’s signature leopard-spotted crust with a beautiful balance of char, crispness, tenderness, and acidity.
Flan at Mestizos – After a bountiful meal at the vibrant newly opened Mestizos, I casually scooped into their flan without expecting much. I had to stop chewing and pause I stared at it, realizing it might have been the best flan I’ve had to date. The rich custard was decadent without any egginess and featured a kiss of cinnamon.
Rojitos at Ensenada Street Food – Cheesy birria tacos dipped in birria broth with some lime, onion, and cilantro. Need I say more?
Scallops at Maynards Market & Kitchen – This seasonal dish was served with sweet potato, quince butter, dill, and pecans. However, what made this bite so memorable for me was how perfectly it was seared. The deep crust highlighted the scallop’s natural rich umami and sweetness, while the inside was still tender.
Chongqing noodles w/ veggies from Pivot Produce and ground produce from 5 Points Farmers Market – Nothing like making a meal from scratch using fresh local ingredients.
Want more? Read up on other best bites in 2019: