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The Loft Cinema (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Where to Eat During the 2024 Arizona International Film Festival

Updated May 17, 2024

The Arizona International Film Festival is returning to five different venues around Tucson on Wednesday, April 17 – Sunday, April 28. You can check out the full film schedule online and below is the list of local businesses hosting screenings.

Participating Venues
  • Hotel Congress
  • The Loft Cinema
  • Main Gate Plaza
  • MSA Annex
  • The Screening Room

These are just a few of the spots near each venue so explore some of our other guides for more options.

Learn how we create our guides here.

a tray of food on a plate
Elote (Photo courtesy of Agave House)

Agave House

A newcomer to the UArizona scene, Agave House is already getting praise for its authentic Mexican cuisine, with a particular emphasis on its extensive tequila selection. The restaurant’s appeal also lies in its lively atmosphere and colorful decor, which complement the flavorful dishes. Try the Carne Asada and the Agave Margarita, for starters.

Beaut Burger

Veggie lovers, this one’s for you! Beaut Burger cooks up amazing vegan burgers that even meat lovers rave about. Their B2, B4, and B6 burgers are crowd favorites, but their Beer Battered Cauli Bites are also a hit. All are made with fresh, plant-based ingredients that make your taste buds dance.

a group of people standing in front of a store
Photo courtesy of Hotel Congress

Cup Cafe

Nestled in the heart of Tucson, the historic Hotel Congress offers not just a stay but a culinary journey through its in-house restaurant, Cup Café. Known for its innovative and delectable menu, the Cup Café boasts a mix of American and Southwestern fare; the “Cast Iron Baked Eggs” and “Congress Burger” are must-tries for a taste of the rich history blended with modern innovation.

a picture of cheesy, gooey jalapenos
Jalapeno Peppers at Elliott's on Congress (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Elliott’s on Congress

Elliott’s is an American restaurant that provides a relaxing ambiance and great food to match. The eatery features a fully stocked bar with house-infused specialty vodkas, sporting flavors from basil to key lime. There is even Chocolate Covered Bacon. It is safe to say Elliot’s is nothing short of an experience.

Elote Pizza at Empire Pizza (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Empire Pizza & Pub

Craving a slice of New York pizza in Tucson? Empire’s got you covered with their hand-tossed, fresh-out-the-oven pizzas. And hey, while you’re there, give their Elote Pizza a whirl – it’s got foodies all over town raving. They’re open late, so don’t stress!

Fresco Pizzeria & Pastaria (Photo by Jackie Tran)

Fresco Pizzeria & Pastaria

Fresco’s impresses with homemade sauces, salad dressings, dough, desserts, and meats. The menu features wholesome salads, calzones, parmesan-style oven-baked subs, and a mountain of linguini, fettuccini, ravioli, and other pasta favorites, and the pizzas are available in several flavors, with vegetarian, Greek, white-sauce ricotta, barbecue, 5-Alarm! extra-spicy, and vegan as just a handful of the varieties.

Photo courtesy of Fuku Sushi

Fuku Sushi

At Fuku Sushi, Asian culinary artistry takes center stage. From innovated Japanese dishes to a vibrant nightlife scene complete with live DJs and spirited cocktails, their team is set on creating unforgettable experiences. Their Miso Glazed Blackened Cod is a good start!

a plate of food on a table
Gentle Ben's (Photos by Kaylee Prinz & Javier Castillo)

Gentle Ben’s Brewing

A staple on University Boulevard since 1971, Gentle Ben’s was the sole brewery in Tucson when its owners started creating craft brews. In addition to excellent suds, you’ll also find some really tasty food. The Fish Tacos and California Burger are crowd favorites. Whether you’re looking for a chill lunch spot or a place to let loose at night, Gentle Ben’s has got you covered.

a close up of food on a plate
Istanbul Mediterranean Cuisine (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Istanbul Mediterranean Cuisine & Bar

Istanbul is Tucson’s Best Authentic Turkish & Mediterranean restaurant. The great food, excellent service, and pleasant atmosphere make Istanbul a restaurant you don’t want to miss! Istanbul prides itself in offering a full menu complete with appetizers, Mediterranean soups, fresh salads, pita sandwiches, grilled wraps, kebab plates, Mediterranean seafood, vegetarian plates, and delectable desserts.

a table topped with plates of food on a plate
Jaime's Pizza Kitchen (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

Jaime’s Pizza Kitchen

“We’re passionate about what we do. Everything is still made from scratch,” said Gabriel Moreno, owner and chef of Jaime’s Pizza Kitchen. “Everything’s got our entire heart and soul in it, and it will continue that way as long as this brand is alive.” From their pizza and salads to their garlic knots and sauce, we can vouch for the taste of that depth of care.


If you’re a fan of Japanese food, Kukai, in the MSA Annex, is the place to be. They’ve been serving up awesome ramen, sushi, and onigiri since 2019. The Hakata Ramen is a must-try – it’s like a big, warm hug in a bowl. And don’t forget to order the Salmon Onigiri. It’s a tasty rice ball filled with salmon, perfect with the ramen.

a plate of food with broccoli
A5 Wagyu Wrapped Scallops Skewers at Obon (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)


Whether you are coming in for a quick bite during a night out, dinner with friends, or stopping by for lunch, OBON is a must-try. Named after the vibrant Japanese celebration of family and life, Brandon Katz hopes to bring a taste of Japan to Tucson. The menu offers everything from small plates of Pork Dumplings to Bibimbop, poke, an extensive sushi menu, ramen, and steam buns.

Raijin Ramen (Photo by Jackie Tran)

Raijin Ramen

Raijin Ramen is brought to you by the owners of Ginza Sushi. We had the Black Roasted Garlic Tonkotsu Ramen, Spicy Miso Ramen, and Veggie Ramen. While we loved all three, we were particularly impressed with how much complexity and richness was coaxed out of the vegan Veggie Ramen.

a picture of tacos
Tacos Al Pastor (Photo courtesy of Seis Kitchen in Oro Valley)

Seis Kitchen – Mercado

Comfy and stylish with a rep for amazing Tucson tacos. There’s a bunch of options to choose from like crispy fish, grilled shrimp, El Pastor, and Adobo Steak tacos. And while admittedly the tacos would steal the show, a few members of our team swear by the side salad. Oh, and if you’re in the mood for a dope margarita, the Tres G is the way to go.

Big Kahuna (Photo courtesy of Thunder Bacon Burger Co.)

Thunder Bacon Burger Co.

Are you in the mood for a burger that’s a cut above the rest? Thunder Bacon Burger Co. has got you covered. They’re serving up diner-style burgers that are both innovative and satisfying without leaving you overstuffed​​. Their “Thunder Classic” and “520 Burger” with a chorizo patty are not-to-miss items on their menu, and they even brand their buns with a cool lightning bolt for extra sizzle.

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