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Photo courtesy of Monster Jam

Foodie 15: Where to Eat During the Tucson Monster Jam

Updated March 19, 2024

Get ready to rev your engines and feel the adrenaline rush when Monster Jam makes its way back to Tucson from Friday, March 22, through Sunday, March 24 at the Tucson Convention Center. Picture massive trucks roaring to life, defying gravity with jaw-dropping stunts and thrilling maneuvers. It’s not just a show; it’s an experience where the cheers are thunderous and the sense of competition from drivers and event-goers alike is palpable.

And if you live your life like a hot shoe and are planning a night out around the Monster Jam madness, this guide has you covered with 15 options that are all within one mile of the Convention Center. Take the whole family and brace yourselves for a memorable time.

Beaut Burger (photo credit: Hannah Hernandez)

Beaut Burger

Jump off at the Cushing Street and Avenida del Convento stop on the Sun Link (Tucson’s streetcar) and you’ll find yourself at the MSA Annex. The businesses and restaurants here are based out of shipping containers. One of which is Beaut Burger, a vegan-friendly eatery specializing in house-made “burgers” made with grains, beans, vegetables, walnuts, and spices. You’ll want a side of sweet potato fries.

Photo courtesy of The Coronet

The Coronet

Classic sensibility gracefully meets international culinary flair at The Coronet, where a deep love for food is the driving force. Serving up meticulously sourced ingredients and a commitment to sustainability showcase the dedication of the phenomenal staff, the collaborative genius of this team is evident on the plate, and the environment creates a place where everyone is cared for and can revel in the pleasure that comes from savoring intentional food and drinks from the seat of the present moment.

A photo of the interior of the Tucson mezcal bar known as El Crisol
El Crisol (Photo Credit: Anna Smirnova)

Crisol Bar

Embark on a mezcal-infused adventure at Crisol Bar, where craft cocktails become a celebration of tradition and innovation. This Tucson gem beckons with a curated selection of libations and menu of small plates, all crafted to deliver a memorable experience rooted in the vibrant spirit of the region’s flavors and ingredients.

Carne Seca Burrito at El Charro Cafe (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

El Charro Café Downtown

With a history dating back to 1922, El Charro holds the title of the nation’s oldest Mexican restaurant in continuous operation by the same family. Steeped in tradition, this beloved establishment offers a menu that pays homage to authentic Sonoran cuisine, featuring timeless classics like carne seca and the iconic chimichanga. The warm and welcoming atmosphere, coupled with the vibrant flavors, makes El Charro Café a must-visit destination for those seeking an immersive experience in Tucson’s culinary legacy.

a picture of food on a plate
(Photo courtesy of El Mezquite Grill & Taqueria)

El Mezquite Grill & Taqueria

El Mezquite Grill & Taqueria offers contemporary Southwest cuisine highlighting fresh, healthy, creative and local ingredients playing off the traditional flavors of Mexico. Bespoke cocktails, interesting wines and hand-crafted local brews available from El Mez Bar.

Carne Seca Combo Plate at El Minuto Cafe (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

El Minuto Cafe

El Minuto Cafe has served “fine Mexican food” since 1939 in Tucson’s Barrio Viejo neighborhood.  El Minuto offers items like Shredded Beef Chimichangas and their Combination Plate with a beef taco, tamale, cheese enchilada, and beans. After your meal, take a walk around the historic neighborhood and take in the colorful homes and scenery.

a close up of a plate of food on a table
Assorted Dishes (Photo courtesy of JoJo's)

JoJo’s Restaurant

Tucked away in Downtown Tucson’s Historic Presidio District, JoJo’s Restaurant is a real gem for anyone on a foodie adventure. With its cozy courtyard perfect for some open-air dining and a laid-back Cantina setting, it’s the place to be. The live tunes under the stars crank up the vibe, making every meal a mini event. And oh, the Southwest cuisine on the menu is a tasty voyage all its own.

Assorted dishes at Kukai (Photo by Dana Sullivan)

Kukai

Kukai, also based at the MSA Annex, opened in February of 2019. If you’ve never had onigiri, you’re going to want to try it here. The traditional Japanese dish is essentially a seaweed-wrapped rice ball that comes with assorted fillings like pork belly, salmon, or, for the adventurous eater, umeboshi (that’s pickled plum).

an overhead photo of flatbread pizzas
Photo courtesy of The Monica)

The Monica

Rooted in scratch cooking and cherished family recipes, The Monica aims to bring a diverse range of flavors to your table. With a passionate team of chefs and food enthusiasts backing this Si Charro, a unique dining experience that reflects the rich culinary tapestry of Tucson is what you can expect visit after visit.

The Neighborhood DWTN

Much like the incredibly stylish mullet hairstyle being business in the front and a party in the back, The Neighborhood’s downtown spot is more than one concept. Think of it as a restaurant and bar during the earlier hours of the day and a total party by night.

a picture of food on a plate
Albondigas at Penca (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Penca

Penca is known for its elevated Mexican cuisine taking classic, even simple staples, to the next level with their very own Penca twist. The combination of flavors and textures is something that puts Penca at the top of dining choices in Southern Arizona and brings a sense of sophistication through a changing seasonal menu.

a room filled with furniture and a fire place
(Photo courtesy of Perche' No Italian Bistro)

Perche’ No Italian Bistro

Perche’ No is an Italian bistro that seamlessly blends the charm of traditional recipes with the excitement of contemporary creations. The menu is a testament to the chefs’ passion, featuring a mix of timeless favorites and innovative specials that never fail to delight. Among the standout dishes are the Ravioli di Zucca and the Penne al’Alce. The name Perche’ No, which means “Why Not” in Italian, reflects the owners’ journey back into the culinary world, driven by an irresistible opportunity and a longing for the joy that sharing food brings.

 

 

 

a bowl of food on a table
Spinach Dip at The Red Light Lounge (Photo by Isaac Stockton)

The Red Light Lounge at the Downtown Clifton

Walking into The Red Light Lounge at the Downtown Clifton Hotel is similar to entering a cozy room lit only by wicked firelight — where one isn’t too sure if this is a bar or a bistro. You’ll be happy to discover that it is indeed both. It’s angular, it’s dark, it welcomes whispers and singing alike and, best of all, the food is exquisite and the drinks are definitely on your side.

 

an overhead photo of tacos and condiments
(Photo courtesy of Seis Kitchen)

Seis Kitchen – Mercado

Seis Kitchen is a renowned destination in Tucson, Arizona, celebrated for its regionally-inspired Mexican cuisine. The restaurant is well-known for its authentic and delicious birria tacos and its commitment to quality, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner being served all day. Seis Kitchen also stands out with its innovative menu items like “The Bomb”, a soft tortilla wrap filled with beef, chicken, bacon, beans, rice, cheddar, tomato, lettuce, and mayo.

(Photo courtesy of Street Taco & Beer Co.)

Street Taco & Beer Co. (Congress)

If you’ve been to any of the other three locations, you can expect the same quick-service menu stacked with build-your-own tacos, burritos, and bowls as well as housemade beverages like horchata and aguas frescas. Taco Tuesday, anyone?

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