Beautiful weather and gorgeous dishes paired nicely in April.
Here's a look back at what the Tucson Foodie team enjoyed the most in April. 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.
My favorite lunch plans include Samurai. This is one of the few places where I've never deviated from my regular order because why would I? The Volcano Spicy Tuna Don hits harder than a ton of bricks. Spicy tuna piled high and topped with tempura flakes, eel sauce, spicy mayo, and masago on top — it's a religious experience.
I went to Penelope's pasta pop-up and I've decided to clear my schedule on every last Tuesday of the month because, in the wise words of Aerosmith, "I don't wanna miss a thing". The bread was perfection. They had a cabbage salad that I typically wouldn't have given a second glance to and now I can't stop thinking about it. The pasta was exactly how you'd want it to be, and to end things on the best note possible, we ordered the olive oil cake with a side of semifreddo. This could've been my last meal and it would've been just fine with me.
I went back to the Turkish Grill House this month with some adventurous friends (shoutout to Eva and Mikael!) who are constantly on the lookout for exciting new cultural cuisine. Our order comprised of the Lamb Shish Kebab, Curry Chicken, and Mixed Shish Kebab, which turned out to be a generous serving of delicious food. I love sipping Turkish tea out of the tiny cups, I can't wait to go back to try more of their cold appetizers during the warmer months.
This month, Spaghetti (the dog) paired her favorite wines and pool activities with her favorite Farmer's Dog meals. This month she got to try chicken, beef, and turkey. If you're interested in your dog eating as well as you do, check out Farmers Dog for more details. You can even take 60% off when you use our Tucson Foodie affiliate link.
Housemade mozzarella sticks at Fentonelli's were piping hot, gooey, and creamy in all the right ways. Crunchy breading and aromatic marinara. I even dunked a few in their fresh pesto.
I met Malta Joe at the Heirloom Farmer’s Market on a tepid Sunday morning. He reinforced just why I love the go-getters of the culinary and cannabis field: it’s all about the passion. You can taste it, alongside their creations. Malta Joe is no exception. He greeted me with a huge smile, warm heart, and friendly open energy. He spoke of the cultural history of pastizzi while placing the delicate handmade phyllo-wrapped (and oil-free!) goodness in a bag for me to savor later. And that I did! I adored the pea curry pastizzi, golfed down the ricotta pastizzi, and slowly enjoyed the sweet blueberry cheesecake as a final anecdote. My meat-eating daughter declared the cordon blue and southwest pastizzi to be “so good, Mom! I loved it!” To Malta, to Joe, to Pastizzi, and forever to good energy and a warm smile. Hop over to Malta Joe for a satisfied heart and tummy!
Breakfast of champions! I went to breakfast at BK with my niece, who lives in Atlanta and had never had a Sonoran hot dog. I urged her to try one, even though it was 10 a.m. because BK has some of the best Sonoran hot dogs in town. She ordered it, tasted it, and loved it. Of course.
Another foodie adventure with my niece: mojitos at Mojo. Hers was guava, mine standard, both hit the taste and refreshment spot.
The pies at Jaime's Pizza Kitchen, now take-out and delivery only, are designed to stay hot by the time you get them to your kitchen table — and to remain tasty whether you enjoy them on the spot or savor them the following morning. The Sweet Swine, topped with pork belly, mozzarella, goat cheese, and roasted tomatoes, also offers proof of what Jaimie Moreno, for whom the pizzeria is named, says: "You eat first with your eyes."
On the Fly Kitchen Soul food pop up at Prep & Pastry are crunch masters. If you’re a texture person like me, try the fried okra and cauliflower wings. They are so easy to pop in your mouth that by the time you reach the bottom of your bowl, you’ll want to ask for seconds.
The Chinese chorizo is back for a special collab with Tucson Tamale for the Pueblos Del Maiz Festival on May 6th at Kennedy Park 4-10 p.m. I’ll be serving some vegan fried tamale Chinese chorizo bites! They are like baby chorizo corn dogs! Don’t forget to try the other must-try vendors at the festival like Phat Boii BBQ and Nopalinda who make some of the best (meat and vegan) birria in town!
Chef Adrian Ortega’s pop-up Las Naches Nachos. “Las Naches” refers to “curves” so not only is the name a play on words but the nachos are named after some divas we love like La Jenni Rivera: Corn tostadas with a cashew cream guajillo sauce, a poblano, roasted corn, cilantro, piloncillo pico de gallo, topped with queso fresco and pepitas.
I got off a plane and immediately got the giant michelada at Mi Nidito. I’m convinced it is all you ever need.
Felt super nostalgic eating the tuna melt and onion rings at Blue Front. These classics were comforting yet elevated and perfectly executed.
You’ll find fluffy vegan pancakes at Del Cielo.
If you're looking to try something new at Fatboy Sandos, I recommend their vegan Spicy 'Tuna' Onigiri, made with jackfruit, as well as their Sweet 'Pork' Onigiri, made with mushrooms. For something sweet, their Fruit & Cream Sando is perfection. Vegan and non-vegan options are available, so be sure to ask for the vegan versions.
The combination of pesto and sourdough is magical. Maynards Market's VBLT stands out from the rest.
The different Rice Krispie treats from Guido-Q make me feel like a kid all over again!
Having grown up on the California coast, In N’ Out is no big thing. Just part of the landscape and routine. After a long day of skating or pregame before going to a show, I always ordered a double-double. When the first In N’ Out came to Tucson all those years ago, I wondered why there was such a traffic jam of cars lined up on Broadway. Pretty sure I thought it was for a concert or something, like One Direction was playing El Con. Turned out it was for In N’ Out Burger. Look, I love me a good burger, but waiting for over an hour for an In N’ Out? C’mon. So when the good folk of Midtown Vegan Deli, inspired by our own Hannah Hernandez, decided to make a vegan burger in the likes of In N’ Out, you better believe I was there. It was messy and delicious and it brought me back to those sunset days in L.A., that time when the day was winding down but the nighttime antics had yet to begin, where you’re sitting on a wall by the beach eating a sloppy In N’ Out burger. At that exact moment, all was temporarily right with the world.
Let’s just get this out of the way — I am not a fan of boba tea. It's not that I tried, or try, I just don’t get down with those bobbles that gum up the straw works. Now, the Thai Tea from Banhdicted is a milky tea I can seriously get behind. Mainly because it's not boba. When I was hanging out with Don of Banhdicted, it was a hot afternoon when his truck was parked and before he brought out the food, he delivered that Thai Tea. Blame it on the heat but it was so refreshing. Made with Thai black tea leaves, star anise, crushed tamarind, cardamom, and some half and half and packed down with ice, I slurped that mofo as if it was going out of style. Of course, the food was fantastic but that Thai Tea though. Just a reminder that summer is nibbling at our ankles and thermostat, so you can get this gelid delight from either the Banhdicted truck or at the restaurant inside Lee Lee Supermarket on Orange Grove and La Cholla. What are you waiting for? Go get one!
For two lovely years, I was proud to call Gallery of Food my day job. It was so rewarding to support a women-owned local small business and work in a fun and inviting environment. One thing that made that gig even sweeter, was the food. Owner Kristine Jensen along with chef Chris Baldwin would come up with some of the tastiest treats using farm-fresh ingredients, but the standout, for me anyway, was their soups. If there were some leftovers from a big catering or items that weren’t moving quickly enough in the bodega, Baldwin would just whip something up and the result was always stunning. One of my duties, when summer rolled around, was to make their smoked watermelon gazpacho, but it was the soups that reigned supreme. Now that I have had to move on, I still pop in on a regular basis to get a supply of soups, a constant mainstay in our fridge going on year three. All of the fare at Gallery of Food is amazing but try one of their soups. If you already have, it's freakin’ good right?
The Traditional Benedict at Baja Cafe on Campbell.
Nicoise Salad with Salmon at Café 54.
These sweet potato fries were a fantastic side — sizzling hot, salted just so, and a yogurt dipping sauce to add tang to the sweetness.
I can’t imagine a more pleasant companion to my morning coffee than the unexpectedly earthy, grounding tones of this vegan chocolate macadamia muffin from Houlden’s Rise Above. Can we please add the magic of whole macadamia nuts and not overly sweetened chocolate to more foods? Please and thanks.
Lady Spring sent me hopping to Pure Love Juice for my current smoothie and smoothie bowl craves. I can't get enough of the Pure Lavender or Pure Blue Majik smoothies. The Pure Lavender reminds me of honey lavender ice cream from Salt & Straw in Portland, Oregon except that this smoothie is sweetened by dates and its deluxe texture comes from cashews and coconut milk. The lavender bouquet also melts right into the taste of the smoothie. Before I tried The Pure Blue Majik, I didn't realize that spirulina could create such a cool blue color in a food or beverage. If you have a sweet tooth, this one is for you because of the ripe pineapple and agave. Blended with coconut milk, you could fool yourself into thinking that you're sipping on cotton candy. The big splash, though, comes from The Mermaid Wholeness bowl. With layers of acai, pitaya, and blue majik chia pudding, topped with beautiful rose petals, bee pollen, and honey, every single bite makes me want to backflip.
Every time a new release comes out from Sand-Reckoner Vineyards (SRV), I get gleeful. This wine made from the Carmenere grape is crafted from a single vineyard site called Chiracaua Ranch Vineyards which is in the foothills of the Chiracaua Mountains south of Tucson. Carmenere is known as one of the original blending grapes from Bordeaux, France but was made even more famous when it was planted in Chile. The SRV Carmenere has a beautifully silky texture with a fleshy, plummy fruit middle and a hint of honeysuckle in the nose and on the palate. It's a terrific springtime red wine. I also tried their newly released 100% Fiano, which is a white grape that originates from Italy. SRV gets theirs from the bucolic Red Tree Ranch vineyard that also is near the Chiracauas. If you want a cross between a white wine that has the weight of a Chardonnay but the minerals and floral tones of an aromatic variety like Sauvignon Blanc or dry Riesling, this is a great one to try. I enjoyed both wines and immediately began dreaming about dinner menu pairings.
By now, you're probably starting to realize that I'm a beverage kind of gal. I couldn't resist adding the Maya Golden Milk latte made with oat milk that was beautifully prepared for me at Locale Bakery. I love Locale's wine list and I was delighted to taste that the before 10 a.m. beverages are just as expertly curated and crafted. Maya Tea Company does it again with a balance of sweet and spicy in their blend. In the hands of a good barista, it's very satisfying!
The Dirty Thunder Style Loaded Fries at Thunder Bacon Burger Co. at Donut Bar (Thunder sauce, jalapeño, Flamin' Hot Cheeto dust).
The Steelhead at Coronet.
The bread they're servin' up during pasta night at Penelope Pizza.