The Cup Cafe named “Best Neighborhood Gem” by OpenTable, expands dinner menu, hours

November 1, 2021
By Adam Lehrman

The expanded menu includes dishes like Rack of Lamb, Seared Duck Breast, Salmon Caprese, and the return of Stuffed Chicken Gnocchi.

It’s easy to fall in love with The Cup Cafe.

Located inside Hotel Congress, the restaurant has, for decades, served as a mainstay and unofficial gateway to downtown Tucson. And they’ve maintained that status since long before downtown’s semi-recent revitalization. It make sense that, based on the data OpenTable has — and what we locals know anecdotally– The Cup Cafe was named one of 100 Best Neighborhood Gems in America for 2021.

You couldn’t get more charm out of the Cup if you bought a can of it and smeared it on the front door. With it’s narrow shotgun style layout, large windows, and extensive patio it really is a must-visit for tourists and locals. Fortunately, they’ve expanded dinner hours since the pandemic began, opening from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and until 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday. For now, The Cup is remaining closed for dinner onTuesday and Wednesday.

The Cup Cafe (Photo provided by Hotel Congress)
The Cup Cafe (Photo provided by Hotel Congress)

As any Cup Cafe regular knows, the menu doesn’t change much, whether that’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Most dishes are so beloved that tampering with anything might upset too many. But small tweaks happen often, specials, and promotions, too. However, this is a new era and The Cup has introduced a handful of new dishes.

Start with the starters

Seasoned foodies know that starters are a fun place for restaurants to get creative. The Cup added three items to the starters menu, which include Sweet Chili Calamari (fried calamari, sweet chili Mae Play sauce, smoked cashews, scallions, peppered cabbage, pickled jalapeño), Venison Noisette (seared venison*, zucchini cakes, cognac demi glace, crispy parsnips), and Brussels Sprouts (crisp Brussels sprouts, pancetta lardons, olive oil, balsamic reduction, pickled red onion).

Brussels Sprouts starter at The Cup Cafe
Brussels Sprouts starter at The Cup Cafe (Photo courtesy of Hotel Congress)

Also, while technically not a starter, there’s a new salad in town: the Harvest Salad, which includes spinach, arugula, butternut squash, chickpeas, goat cheese, dried cranberries, sliced apples, blood orange supremes, and red onion, dressed with a blood orange vinaigrette.

Gimme the meat (and fish)

The Cup has always been vegetarian friendly, however the new entrees venture into exotic meat, game meat, fish, and fowl territory. There is one exception: Pasta Carbonara (pappardelle pasta, lardons, leeks, roasted garlic, peas, Chablis butter, whipped egg yolk, parmesan). Note that carbonara, which is a traditional Italian dish, does include egg yolks.

Rack of Lamb features smoked New Zealand lamb from one of New Zealand’s oldest distributors of the meat, Thomas Foods International. This distributor has also been recognized for sustainable farming practices, compassion for the animals, and hormone and additive free production. Additionally, The Cup’s new lamb dish includes truffle, cashew polenta, mint demi glace, and grilled asparagus.

Rack of Lamb at The Cup Cafe
Rack of Lamb at The Cup Cafe (Photo courtesy of Hotel Congress)

The Cup’s Seared Duck Breast features a French seared duck breast with a root vegetable sauté, blood orange gastrique, and seasonal vegetable while the Seafood Cioppino features clams, mussels, shrimp, salmon, crushed tomatoes, shallots, fennel, and white wine, served with grilled Barrio Bread baguette.

Other addition highlights include Salmon Caprese (grilled salmon, cherry heirloom tomato, basil chutney, creamy parmesan risotto, broccolini, black and white balsamic pearls), and the return of a dish that had been taken off them menu, Stuffed Chicken Gnocchi (white wine brined 8oz chicken breast stuffed with mushroom duxelle and herb goat cheese, butternut squash gnocchi, sautéed spinach, wild mushrooms, thyme madeira beurre blanc).

The Cup Cafe also offers a wide selection of desserts, wines and cocktails.

The Cup Cafe is located inside the historic Hotel Congress at 311 E Congress St and is open from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. daily for breakfast and lunch and from 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (9 p.m. Sunday and Monday). for more information, including menu and contact information, visit

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