4 October, 2022, 17:36

Sonoran Restaurant Week: 5 Fine dining menus you need to check out

Sonoran Restaurant Week and upscale dining are two things I have always enjoyed in Tucson. Like everyone living in the Old Pueblo, I’m grateful to have an array of options to choose from when it comes to “date night” and special occasions.

So, here are my top five recommendations on where to experience an upscale experience during this year’s Sonoran Restaurant Week. This list focuses on restaurants that I have dined in over the years, and all five include a three-course $45 prix-fixe menu.

Maynards

400 N. Toole Ave.
Dining room at Maynards (Photo by Natalie Moe)

Dining room at Maynards (Photo by Natalie Moe)

You feel as though you’ve been transported somewhere else when you step foot into Maynards. Nestled in the historic train depot, the restaurant is always a dreamy and romantic location for me because of its unique architecture. My favorite, being a tie between the high ceilings and the windows that stretch across the restaurant to offer a soft, natural light.

When you move beyond the first impression, you quickly recognize the exceptional wine list (awarded by Wine Spectator), a creative bar program, and of course, a seasonal menu that’s constantly evolving.

Halibut, yellow finn potatoes, whey butter at Maynards (Photo by Natalie Moe)

Halibut, yellow finn potatoes, whey butter at Maynards (Photo by Natalie Moe)

One of the highlights for me on this year’s menu is the marinated cucumber toast on the housemade focaccia.

Dining room at Maynards (Photo by Natalie Moe)

Dining room at Maynards (Photo by Natalie Moe)

After being lightly toasted, it’s freshly piped with ricotta made with Golden Rule Dairy, a small family-owned and operated Jersey cow dairy farm in Arizona. From there it’s drizzled with EVOO from Queen Creek Olive Mill and lightly spritzed with special vinegar. If I could, I would eat this all day.

For more information, visit sonoranrestaurantweek.com

Agustin Kitchen

100 S. Avenida del Convento

Photo by Natalie Moe

Agustin Kitchen is located in the picturesque Mercado San Agustin. The decor is elevated but welcoming, and one of the finer details is the bar’s 500-year-old tile that originated from an Argentinian estate. In the dining area, towards the open kitchen, you’ll spot freshly-shipped oysters on ice. If you appreciate oysters, I’d recommend ordering them with your menu.

Duck Confit at Agustin Kitchen (Photo by Natalie Moe)

Duck Confit at Agustin Kitchen (Photo by Natalie Moe)

The highlight for me is the Cauliflower Soup, which is then followed up with a Duck Confit that includes riced cauliflower. The aromatic scent of truffle oil with the cauliflower soup is enough to make you want to take a bite before the bowl can even touch the table. The savory granola added a nice crunch, and I appreciated the thinly-slice apple.

For more information, visit sonoranrestaurantweek.com.

Tito & Pep

4122 E. Speedway Blvd.

Shrimp and Scallop Albondigas at Tito & Pep (Photo by Natalie Moe)

In the heart of midtown Tucson, Tito & Pep is easily spotted on the bustling Speedway Boulevard. Posted outside a brick building, is mid-century modern art with the bright teal and burnt orange colors identified as the restaurant’s iconic branding. The upbeat, contemporary neighborhood bistro serves mesquite-fired cuisine that embodies the spirit of Tucson and the Southwest.

When I want to have a fun time with friends or out-of-town guests, Tito & Pep is my go-to.

The highlight of this year’s Sonoran Restaurant Week’s menu is the Shrimp and Scallop Albondigas. I was instantly intrigued because this was my first time having seafood albondigas since I had only ever been acquainted with beef as the main ingredient. The end result made me mentally award this as Tito & Pep’s best dish.

Shrimp and Scallop Albondigas at Tito & Pep (Photo by Natalie Moe)

Shrimp and Scallop Albondigas at Tito & Pep (Photo by Natalie Moe)

Accompanying the albondigas is sweet corn that is charred by the restaurant’s iconic mesquite-wood fire. It serves two purposes, as the base of the dish and as a rich crema. You’ll notice a slight black dusting and that’s the charred skin of the poblanos blended up into a fine powder.

For more information, visit sonoranrestaurantweek.com.

Charro Steak & Del Rey

188 E. Broadway Blvd.

Iceberg Wedge at Charro Steak (Photo by Natalie Moe)

For a more urban aesthetic, I go to Charro Steak & Del Rey. On the Charro Steak side, you will find modern and minimalistic decor, whereas the Del Rey side has a curated and colorful approach. The restaurant focuses on sustainable seafood and hormone-free beef and chicken.

If the name Charro sounds familiar, it’s because it is another successful concept helmed by the same owners who brought Tucson the famed El Charro Café, which celebrates 100 years in business as America’s oldest Mexican restaurant in continuous operation by the same family.

Green Chile Churro Fried Relleno (Photo by Natalie Moe)

On the creative side of things, I was impressed with the dessert on the Sonoran Restaurant Week menu. The team took an indulgent approach with a savory Green Chile Churro Fried Relleno. After lightly frying the chile relleno, it is then rolled in cinnamon sugar and topped with a scoop of dulce de leche gelato. To complete the plate, it’s drizzled with dulce de leche and sprinkled with Tajín spiced peanuts.

For more information, visit sonoranrestaurantweek.com

PY Steakhouse at Casino del Sol

5655 W. Valencia Rd.

Sonoran Restaurant Week at PY Steakhouse (Photo by Natalie Moe)

Pristine tablecloths. Twinkling chandeliers. Elegant decor. When you think of traditional upscale dining, you think of PY Steakhouse at the Casino del Sol. But at the same time, you’re greeted with a few surprises, like a dry-aging cooler that ages their steaks and charcuterie. On the extensive award-winning wine list, your tasting palate has more than one thousand choices to choose from.

As someone with a sweet tooth, I loved the dessert on the Sonoran Restaurant Week menu. I always enjoy it when savory and sweet elements are combined. On the sweeter side, there’s a dense almond cake served with a silky sauce that consists of vanilla and Flying Leap Vineyard’s Arizona Orange brandy. Savory ice cream made with Queen Creek Olive Mill’s EVOO accompanies the cake, along with toasted, candied almonds.

For more information, visti sonoranrestaurantweek.com.

Take advantage of the last couple of days of Sonoran Restaurant Week and book a reservation at one of these upscale restaurants.

Natalie is a born and raised Tucsonan. When not drinking matcha or enjoying a nice dinner, you can find her cycling around Tucson. For more food and travel content, follow her at @happilypinkblog on Instagram.

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