Here are the best things the Tucson Foodie team tasted in January 2023

February 1, 2023
By Tucson Foodie

What’s cookin’, Tucson?

This month marked a new year of new dishes, beverages, and experiences at local restaurants, bars, pop-ups, events, and more. We ended up with a pretty diverse list this month.

Obon (Photo by Addie Ibarra)

Here’s a look back at what the Tucson Foodie team enjoyed the most in January. Also, not only are these reminders of the dishes we ate, but they can also be a guide for your own decisions on what to eat here in Tucson.

Addie Ibarra

Obon Sushi- + Bar + Ramen

I’ve eaten incredibly well this month! I enjoyed one of the most satisfying meals ever at Obon. Their new lunch menu is what dreams are made of. I couldn’t leave without street noodles and Bird Buns.

Obon (Photo by Addie Ibarra)
Le Rendez-vous

I went to Le Rendez-vous and it was abundantly clear why they were listed as one of Arizona’s Best French Restaurants. I usually wouldn’t have opted for a puff pastry for dessert, but the pithivier was in a league of its own. This reminds me, and it pains me to have to say, but be nice to your servers. Show some kindness.

Dessert at Le Rendez-vous (Photo by Addie Ibarra)
The Little One
I also went to The Little One for the first time. I cannot believe I’d never been. I will never make that mistake again. I was so glad to be able to have an opportunity to order the Surprise Plato.
The Little One (Photo by Addie Ibarra)
Tito & Pep

I also went to Tito & Pep. I made an entire meal out of their apps and desserts. It was the perfect date night; it always is.

Tito & Pep (Photo by Addie Ibarra)

Da’Lice Shepard

Zio Peppe

I felt kinda boring ordering the Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo but turns out, it was a masterful choice. Bravo, Zip Peppe!

Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo at Zio Peppe (Photo by Da'Lice Shepard)
Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo at Zio Peppe (Photo by Da’Lice Shepard)
Donut Bar

WTF… Are You Nuts? is a perfect name for the outrageous donut burger special at the locally-owned Donut Bar downtown. This thing is extreme and oh so damn delicious!

WTF... Are You Nuts? sandwich at Donut Bar (Photo by Isaac Stockton)
WTF… Are You Nuts? sandwich at Donut Bar (Photo by Isaac Stockton)
COMBO: Ray Ray’s Sonoran Spirit Tea and Go Dim Sum at Saint Charles Tavern

Want to have a perfect day? Here’s the ingredients – pick a sun-filled spot on the patio at Saint Charles, order a Ray Ray’s Sonoran Spirit Tea (it’s on tap there), and DoorDash Go Dim Sum. Best day ever!

Photo by Da’Lice Shepard

Edie Jarolim

Cafe at the J

Post-Hanukkah latkes, happily on the menu at the JCC’s Cafe at the J in January. It’s always the right time of year for potato pancakes and these come with a generous salad and sour cream.

Latkes at the JCC’s Cafe at the J (Photo by Edie Jarolim)

Feng-Feng Yeh

El Minuto Cafe

It really had been a minuto since me and two of my friends had eaten at El Minuto (probably at least 10-15 years) It felt nostalgic. Even a woman sitting next to us was recounting her pride in the Tucson cheese crisp. It made us all realize how special this not quite a quesadilla, not quite a pizza crispy crunchy cheesy goodness really is! The green chili at El Minuto Cafe is a rite of passage.

Tucson Cheese Crisp at El Minuto Cafe (Photo by Feng-Feng Yeh)

Only available by pop up but probably the most interesting and beautiful iteration of Southeast Asian and Mexican fusion I’ve ever had was this tostada by chef Kusuma Rao that complimented an intimate art retrospective of their father’s incredible painting and drawings. Follow @ruchikala.

Ruchikala (Photo by Feng-Feng Yeh)
5 Points Market & Restaurant

New on the 5 Points dinner menu is this hearty Kale Caesar Salad that has a thick cashew-based sauce so vegans and almost all eaters can rejoice for a non-wimpy salad classic Fun fact: did you know the Caesar salad was invented in Mexico by an Italian man? The toasted fatty bread chunks take you to another dimension. Go pro and have it with cheese, anchovies, and/or chicken.

Kale Caesar Salad at 5 Points (Photo by Feng-Feng Yeh)
Kale Caesar Salad at 5 Points (Photo by Feng-Feng Yeh)

A James Beard nomination is a great excuse to try chef Wendy Garcia’s Tumerico but I love using the excuse of going there to fulfill my veggie intake. Why drink a smoothie or a salad when you can have the tastiest huitlacoche tostadas, and red chile tamales stuffed with perfectly seared potatoes and jackfruit? These veggies definitely have “all the powers.”

Tumerico (Photo by Feng-Feng Yeh)

Hannah Hernandez

Ensenada Street Food

Ensenada Street Food’s new breakfast menu is here! Chilaquiles, pancakes, breakfast burritos, and more. The chorizo and potato breakfast burrito is my favorite. Breakfast is available Tuesday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Breakfast at Ensenada Street Food (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)
Tran’s Fats

Jackie’s food is so good. Vegan and gluten-free options. On my latest visit, I enjoyed the Shroom Dumplings, Crunchy Potato Mochi, Crunchy Cauliflower, and Potato Tots.

Crunchy Cauliflower at Tran's Fats (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)
Crunchy Cauliflower at Tran’s Fats (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Chef Wendy Garcia is a James Beard semifinalist, and Tumerico made Yelp’s list of ‘Top 100 Places To Eat!’ Pretty cool. My favorite order at Tumerico: the red chili vegan tamale plate, a lavender latte, and a 1220 Bakery scone.

Tumerico (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)
Tumerico (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Kim Johnston

Blue Front

Pies? Downtown? Genius.

Pie at Blue Front (Photo by Kim Johnston)

Mark Whittaker

Panda One

As a certified curry fanatic and a longtime fan of Panda One, I had to try their #37, the Singapore Noodle. Never had it before but one cold, cold night I decided to give it a go — so glad I did. This dish is now one of my regular customers and the not-so-great photo I took of it recently was probably my third or fourth time eating it this month. It was late and I just wanted to eat. The curry isn’t overpowering, a good amount of heat, and the cuts of vegetables, pork, chicken, and a bunch of shrimp hiding in a vast nest of perfect al dente thin noodles always make me really happy. Definitely give this dish a shot because yum. 

Panda One (Photo by Mark Whittaker)
Sleeping Frog Farms

As a food writer, as a guy with a metabolism the speed of slugs racing in syrup, and as a guy officially in the middle of his middle age, I have to eat as healthy as possible when not working. Thankfully, the good kids at Sleeping Frog Farms provide the best-tasting pink grapefruits I have had the pleasure to eat since moving to Arizona almost 20 years ago. These are pink grapefruits — not those ruby reds you get at the supermarket which is way too bitter and probably the reason you’re not all that into grapefruits. Sleeping Frog Farm’s grapefruits are juicy, tart, tasty, and packed with tons of nutrients that my well-abused belly and system definitely need. 

Sleeping Frog Farm (Photo by Mark Whittaker)
Ador Cuisine

Recently the wife and I were extremely fortunate to be a guest at one of Ador Cuisine’s coursed dinners which were so extraordinary that it easily became an article. Chef Adrian Ortega, along with his partner Raymond Felisicimo, created a dazzling display of ideas, flavors, and textures but a standout that night, for me anyway, was the dish titled “Metamorphosis”. Fourth in the line of scrumptiousness, Metamorphosis featured herbed shrimp, gaia spirit cabbage, a caper cherry tapenade, spiralized butternut squash, locally grown arugula, and white Sonoran wheat beans. It was so delicious as it was but when you poured this gaia water Moscato reduction over it the whole sense and sensation of the dish transformed. Hence the name. It’s really difficult to explain in words that incredible experience so all I can think of how to describe it is you know that meme of some dude having his mind blown while the universe explodes around him? Yeah, that.

Ador Cuisine (Photo by Mark Whittaker)

Matt Sterner

Time Market

If you’re looking for some of the best pizza by the slice in town, Time Market’s got your back. After enjoying one of their craft beers on tap I was only able to eat one of these jumbo slices.

Huge slices of pizza at Time Market (Photo by Matt Sterner)
The Delta

The Seafood Gumbo and all of its dark roux gumbo, Gulf shrimp, and crawfish made me feel like I was in New Orleans again. Grab an order of hushpuppies, too, so you can dunk those suckers in the gumbo.

Seafood Gumbo (Photo courtesy of The Delta)
Seafood Gumbo (Photo courtesy of The Delta)

Rita Connelly

El Charro Café

Uptown, Downtown, you know I’ve had my share. Here’s a tasty chile relleno on the patio at Downtown’s El Charro Cafe.

El Charro Cafe (Photo by Rita Connelly)

The outstanding pan-fried salmon at Feast. A huge portion and cooked to perfection. Also, the lobster bread pudding. Try it.

Salmon & Lobster Bread Pudding at Feast (Photo by Rita Connelly)
Salmon & Lobster Bread Pudding at Feast (Photo by Rita Connelly)
 Aqui Con El Nene

Finally, my first time at El Nene. Birria this time. Going back soon to try everything else.

Aqui Con El Nene (Photo by Rita Connelly)

Sariya Jarasviroj

Del Cielo Tamales

Del Cielo’s vegan breakfast with new coconut flour pancake recipe. Delish!

Del Cielo’s vegan breakfast (Photo by Sariya Jarasviroj)
Del Cielo’s vegan breakfast (Photo by Sariya Jarasviroj)

Shane Reiser

Cafe Desta
Kung Fu Noodle

Sizzling Eggplant Tofu from Kung Fu Noodle.

Sizzling Eggplant Tofu (Photo courtesy of Kung Fu Noodle)
Sizzling Eggplant Tofu (Photo courtesy of Kung Fu Noodle)
Photo by Janelle Montenegro

The El Perfecto Manhattan from Kingfisher.

(Credit: Sidecar)
(Credit: Sidecar)

If you order an NA cocktail from Sidecar and tell me it’s not the adult beverage experience you were looking for, I won’t believe you

Xochitl Gracia

Tran’s Fats

Crunchy Potatoe Mochi from Tran’s Fat.

Crunchy Potatoe Mochi from Tran’s Fat (Photo by Xochitl Gracia)
Samurai Sombrero
Sweet Potato Vegan Roll from Samurai Sombrero.
Sweet Potato Vegan Roll from Samurai Sombrero (Photo by Xochitl Gracia)
Del Cielo Tamales

Vegan Chicken Soup from Del Cielo.

Vegan Chicken Soup from Del Cielo (Photo by Xochitl Gracia)
Vegan Chicken Soup from Del Cielo (Photo by Xochitl Gracia)

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