Sopapillas at La Olla Mexican Cafe (Photo by Matt Sterner)

Best Things the Tucson Foodie Team Tasted in October 2023

November 1, 2023
By Tucson Foodie

Here’s a look back at what the Tucson Foodie team enjoyed the most in October. 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

Cafe Francais
7831 E. Wrightstown Rd #113

Oh man, I finally tried Cafe Francais and I now feel like I’ve got access to an authentic patisserie just down the street. The smart thing would’ve been to take a photo of what I actually ate, but I was too excited. I tried their chocolate croissant, their ham and Swiss croissant sandwich, a regular croissant, and one of their petite baguettes — all were excellent. The chocolate croissant managed to have chocolate in every bite. 20/10 will be going back.

Cafe Francais (Photo by Addie Ibarra)

CJ Hamm

Tandem American Eatery 
8864 E. Tanque Verde Rd.

The classic pairing of beef and mushroom, Mushroom Sacchetti, gets a swanky makeover at this new, far, east side restaurant. Porcini and fontina stuffed pasta, fresh spinach, roasted wild mushrooms, served in an unctuous umami bomb of a mushroom demi sauce, then topped with braised beef short rib. 

a plate of food
Mushroom Sacchetti at Tandem American Eatery (Photo by CJ Hamm)
Asian Spice Restaurant 
7850 N.  Silverbell Rd. #144

Fall festivities brought the family and I out to Marana one evening around dinner time. A suggestion from a friend, much more in tune with the area, led us to this quaint little restaurant nestled in the middle of a strip mall. The family-run business is the culmination of making authentic food, quickly, with quality ingredients and serving it with joy. My litmus test for a Chinese/American restaurant, Kung-Pao Chicken, hit the table steaming hot and riddled with fresh vegetables, well-cooked protein, and perfectly sauced. The only complaint I have is that it isn’t closer to my house! 

a plate full of food
Kung-Pao Chicken at Asian Spice Restaurant (Photo by CJ Hamm)
Cup Cafe 
311 E. Congress St.

Creole Breakfast and Cowboy Coffee: Biscuits and sausage gravy, grilled andouille sausage, two over medium eggs, crispy potatoes, drip coffee with a shot of espresso in it. This is the standard of which all breakfasts should be held to. Seriously, one of the best “most important meals of the day” I have had anywhere, ever. 

a plate of food on a table
Creole Breakfast and Cowboy Coffee (Photo by CJ Hamm)

Edie Jarolim

Ermanos Bar
220 N. Fourth Ave.

Ah, Ermanos, where the rich lobster roll, crispy fries, and pretty-in-purple coleslaw create a perfect melange of tastes and textures that is also pleasing to the eye.

a pile of fries
Lobster Roll at Ermanos Bar (Photo by Edie Jarolim)
Pho Ngan
4951 E. Grant Rd. #119

At Pho Ngan, the Banh Xeo “crepes” come in a miniature size, the better to pop these delicious crispy rice cups into your mouth.

a dish is filled with food
Pho Ngan’s Banh Xeo (Photo by Edie Jarolim)

Hannah Hernandez

Pure Poke & Prep
6501 E. Grant Rd. #1217315 N. Oracle Rd. #105

Building a vegan poke bowl at Pure Poke & Prep is a piece of cake. I always toss in some tofu, edamame, sweet potatoes, and a ton of other veggies. It’s one of my favorite meals to grab when I’m running around town.

a plate of food with broccoli
Vegan poke bowl at Pure Poke & Prep (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Matt Sterner

76 W. Washington St.

TallBoys Tots are back at JoJo’s (formerly LaCo). They were always my favorite dish to order when TallBoys was on Fourth Avenue. It’s nice to know they’re hangin’ tight and stayin’ put.

a bowl of food on a plate
TallBoy Tots at JoJo’s (Photo by Matt Sterner)
La Olla Mexcian Cafe
8553 N. Silverbell Rd. #102

The dessert menu is awesome at La Olla in Marana. Here’s their sopapillas and seasonal pumpkin cheesecake.

a plate of food with a slice of cake on a table
La Olla Mexican Cafe (Photo by Matt Sterner)
Iron John’s Brewing
5350 E. Broadway Blvd. #128

The Buff Chick pizza at the new Iron John’s Brewing on Broadway. Beer + Pizza = Happiness.

a close up of a slice of pizza
Buff Chick pizza at Iron John’s Brewing (Photo by Matt Sterner)

Max Wingert

Tucson Afghan Community
Multiple Locations (pop-ups)

I didn’t know what to expect when I went to Tucson Meet Yourself other than I was determined to only order foods I hadn’t tried before, or hadn’t heard of, or didn’t know how to pronounce properly. This ended up being a great decision when I ordered the Chickpea Qorma — an Afghani dish with rice and spice so nice I almost ordered it twice.

a bowl of food on a plate
Tucson Afghan Community (Photo by Max Wingert)

Rita Connelly

Ermanos Bar
220 N. Fourth Ave.

The weekend special at Ermano’s. A pan-fried Branzino with a slightly spicy salsa… Delish!

a half eaten sandwich sitting on top of a wooden cutting board
Branzino at Ermanos Bar (Photo by Rita Connelly)

Sam Jump

76 W. Washington St.

The corn cakes have also been revived from the old TallBoys menu via the new brunch menu at JoJo’s! Get ‘em straight up or a la carte.

a plate of food and a cup of coffee on a table
Corn cakes at JoJo’s (Photo by Sam Jump)
Istanbul Mediterranean Cuisine & Bar
2945 E. Speedway Blvd.

Istanbul may be — dare I say it — my favorite restaurant in town. Whether you choose from their long list selection meat-inclusive options (all Halal proteins) or go veg-based, as shown in this stacked Vegetarian Combo Plate, you’ll leave feeling glad you stopped by and likely with leftovers to craft from the next day.

a sandwich cut in half on a plate
Istanbul Mediterranean Cuisine & Bar (Photo by Sam Jump)
La Olla Mexcian Cafe
8553 N. Silverbell Rd. #102

Going strong for the last 17 years, may La Olla never be overlooked as a Mexican food staple here in town. I went for their combo option that included a fried fish taco – filleted, battered, and fried in-house – and shrimp empanada (also made in-house), and I savored the heck out of every bite. The side of calabacitas did not disappoint either.

Bonus: see Matthew Sterner’s review of La Olla’s pumpkin cheesecake! It became one of my all-time favorite desserts after the first bite. Yowza.

a plate of food with rice meat and vegetables
La Olla Mexican Cafe (Photo by Sam Jump)

Shane Reiser

1730 E. Speedway Blvd.

The sorbetto/gelato special at Noodies. They change it up every week so you won’t get this specific one, but everything they do is delicious and it’s all handcrafted in-house with love. Pictured here is a swirl of two flavors: Green Apple Sorbetto and Cinnamon Apple Gelato with caramel and mixed apple bits on top. It tasted like one of those caramel apple lollipops. I was transported back to trick-or-treating as a child. Pure nostalgia.

Green Apple Sorbetto and Cinnamon Apple Gelato at Noodies (Photo by Shane Reiser)
Ermanos Bar
220 N. Fourth Ave.

The new fried cauliflower appetizer at Ermanos is perfect!

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