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Latkes at Claire’s Cafe & Gallery (Photo by Taylor Noel Photography)

The Best Places to Find Latkes in Tucson during Hanukkah

Updated March 5, 2024

Ah, Hanukkah! ‘Tis the season when menorahs are lit in Jewish homes, and the sounds and smells of frying oil waft from the kitchen.

After a victorious rebellion and the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, so the Hanukkah story goes, only a single day’s worth of consecrated oil remained to keep the holy site’s eternal flame burning. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, until a new supply arrived. The lighting of candles alludes to the flames of the sacred lamp, while the consumption of fried food commemorates the miracle of the oil.

The potato pancakes known as latkes are the most commonly served of the traditionally — if not medically — sanctioned fried treats among American Jews, with sufganiyot (jelly donuts) coming in second. The culinary history of latkes is long and complex, involving cheese and the biblical tale of Judith beheading Holofernes, but we’re talking here about the version popularized in Eastern Europe in the 19th century. Typically consisting of grated potatoes, onions, eggs, matzo meal or flour, and salt, made into a patty and fried in vegetable oil, today’s latkes are generally eaten with applesauce and/or sour cream.

Some home cooks use food processors to create the latke mix, but many hand grate the potatoes and onions — and accidentally scrape their knuckles. Don’t even ask about the numerous splattering-of-hot-oil incidents.

Our Hanukkah gift to you? A list of places where you can enjoy potato pancakes without potential injury or lingering frying odor.

Learn how we create our guides here.

Smoked Salmon Benedict (Credit: 5 Points Market & Restaurant)

5 Points Market & Restaurant

This appealing farm-to-table eatery just south of downtown does a spin on bagels and lox — latkes and lox? — with the Smoked Salmon Benedict, perching a schmear of herbed cream cheese, house-smoked salmon, and poached local eggs on an English muffin and siding it with fresh greens and a chunky potato pancake. It’s a miraculous brunch spread. Potato pancakes are also available as a side.

a plate of food on a table
D's Potato Cakes at Bisbee Breakfast Club (Photo courtesy of Roadfood)

Bisbee Breakfast Club on Ina

Foodie Favorite:
a man wearing a hat

“The D’s Potato Pancakes are Bisbee Breakfast Club’s own spin on the latke. These potato cakes come with a side of applesauce and sour cream and a couple of eggs — a great way to start your morning! They’re available at all of the Tucson locations, too, year-round.”

a man standing in a kitchen preparing food
Cafe at the J (Photo courtesy of the JCC)

Cafe at the J

The small kosher cafe in the Jewish Community Center highlights dairy and fish in a variety of traditions, from Middle Eastern (felafel/hummus) and Italian (paninis) to Mexican (quesadillas). During the eight days of Hanukkah, fresh-from-the-fryer latkes bring Eastern Europe into the international culinary fold.

a plate of food on a table
Latkes at Claire’s Cafe & Gallery (Photo by Taylor Noel Photography)

Claire’s Cafe & Gallery

Up north in the town of Catalina, tucked away on a voluminous menu featuring typical diner fare, you’ll find some unlikely dishes: matzoh brei, blintzes, and latkes. Blending a recipe derived from her family traditions with one from the Love and Knishes cookbook, chef/owner Claire Johnson creates hearty potato pancakes that are a meal in themselves. Bonus: The café doubles as a gallery for local artists. You can purchase a beautiful handcrafted menorah from Claire’s small Judaica section.

Latkes and prosecco at Ermanos Bar (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Ermanos Bar

Good news! The uber-popular latkes special that Ermanos featured before the pandemic returns for a limited time each year. Grab a seat at a banquette table or at the chic bistro-style bar. Hanukkah has never been so romantic or so much fun for a pals’ night out. In 2023, the latkes will be on the menu starting Friday, December 8 and then throughout the weekend (until they run out).

Latkes at Polish Cottage (Photo courtesy of Polish Cottage)

Polish Cottage

Featuring the cuisine of the country that popularized the type of latke enjoyed during Hanukkah today, this homey storefront dining room can be relied upon to provide stellar potato pancakes along with other Polish specialties. Get them as an appetizer or as part of the generous vegetarian plate, which also includes a vegetable salad and choice of nonmeat pierogi: potatoes and cheese, sauerkraut and mushrooms, or sweet farmer’s cheese.

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