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The outdoor screen at Main Gate Square (Photo courtesy of Tucson Film Fest)

Where To Eat & Drink During Film Fest Tucson 2023

Updated March 5, 2024

Film Fest Tucson 2023 is not simply where moviegoers can meet filmmakers and experience their works of art — it’s also an opportunity for the local food scene to shine.

The films are shown in multiple locations Downtown (including the Historic Scottish Rite Cathedral, AC Hotel Tucson Downtown, and Playground), as well as an outdoor screen just off University Boulevard near Main Gate Square. The venues are the first seven on the list below, with their accompanying film/event times, and they are marked by STAR ICONS on the map.

This guide is designed to provide you with the best recommendations and insights in regards to where to eat & drink during the 2023 Film Fest Tucson experience.

Learn how we create our guides here.

a city street filled with traffic surrounded by tall buildings
(Photo courtesy of Hotel Marriott)

AC Hotel Tucson Downtown

Foodie Favorite:
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Friday, October 13

  • Mexican Shorts5:30 PM, 90 mins
  • Drift  7:30 PM, 93 mins

Saturday, October 14

  • Tin Tan 1:00 PM, 90 mins
  • El Rey del Barrio (1950 Tin Tan Film)  5:30 PM, 90 mins
  • Robert Irwin: A Desert of Pure Feeling7:30 PM, 93 mins
a picture of pub grub and drinks on a bartop
Playground Bar & Lounge (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Playground – Rooftop

Foodie Favorite:
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Thursday, October 12

  • Food & Films 520 6:00-9:00 PM

Friday, October 13

  • The Stones & Brian Jones – 5:30 PM, 93 mins
  • The Space Race 7:30 PM, 91 mins

Saturday, October 14

  • Industry Panel1:00 PM, 60 mins
  • Industry Panel 2:00 PM, 60 mins
  • I Used to Be Funny  4:00 PM, 105 mins
  • The Hong Konger – 7:00 PM, 74 mins
a large room
Scottish Rite - Red Room (Photo courtesy of Film Fest Tucson)

Tucson Scottish Rite Cathedral – Red Room

Foodie Favorite:
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Friday, October 13

  • VIP Room Opens — 5:30 PM
  • Eileen – 6:00 PM, 97 mins
  • Rachel’s Farm 8:00 PM, 84 mins + Q&A

Saturday, October 14

  • VIP Room Opens — 5:30 PM
  • Sometimes I Think About Dying  4:00 PM, 91 mins
  • Taste of Things6:00 PM, 145 mins
Scottish Rite - Blue Room (Photo courtesy of Film Fest Tucson)

Tucson Scottish Rite Cathedral – Blue Room

Foodie Favorite:
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Friday, October 13

  • Sonora – 6:00 PM, 94 mins + Q&A
  • Trigal – 8:00 PM, 116 mins + Q&A

Saturday, October 14

  • Minted – 1:00 PM, 94 mins
  • Shorts Program – 5:30 PM, 90 mins + Q&A
  • Robe of Gems – 7:30 PM, 118 mins
a store front at night
Historic Scottish Rite Tucson Downtown (Photo courtesy of Film Fest Tucson)

Tucson Scottish Rite Cathedral – Purple Room

Foodie Favorite:
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Friday, October 13

  • Immediate Family – 6:00 PM, 102 mins + Q&A
  • Ivan Doig: Landscapes of a Western Mind – 8:00 PM, 57 mins + Q&A

Saturday, October 14

  • Peak Season – 5:30 PM, 82 mins
  • A Bunch of Amateurs  7:30 PM, 95 mins
a group of people standing in front of a crowd
The outdoor screen at Main Gate Square Plaza (Photo courtesy of Tucson Film Fest)

Main Gate Square Plaza

Foodie Favorite:
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Friday, October 13

  • Trilogy: New Wave – 6:00 PM, 73 mins

Saturday, October 14

  • Mr. Jimmy – 6:00 PM, 113 mins
a group of people sitting on a bench in front of a store
CORBETT'S (Photo by SWOON Media)

CORBETT’S

Foodie Favorite:
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Saturday, October 14

  • Wrap Party — 9:00 PM
a plate of food
Salmon Pastel de Elote at Agave House Modern Cocina

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 sure!

Antipasto Plate from Bacio Italiano (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Bacio Italiano

Known for its authentic Italian cuisine, the restaurant is particularly notable for its house made pasta dishes like the Fettuccine Alfredo and the Lasagna Bolognese. The warm, inviting atmosphere and friendly staff make it a favorite among students and locals alike.

barbata, in the basement (Photo courtesy of BATA)

barbata

BATA’s basement bar which offers a different vibe but the same commitment to quality. It’s got a European feel, and it’s a great place to kick off or wrap up your evening. They’ve got a solid selection of spirits, cocktails, beers, and wines, and their small plates are designed to pair well with drinks. Remember, they’re not open every day, so plan your visit accordingly​!

a picture of food
Green Cabbage & Potatoes at Bata (Photo credit: Natalie Moe)

BATA

If you’re looking for a unique and adventurous foodie experience in Tucson, BATA is your spot. They’re all about regionally-sourced ingredients, and their menu changes based on what’s fresh and in-season — you’ll find something new each time you visit. Oh, and they cook everything over an oak fire, which adds a special touch to their dishes.

(Photo courtesy of The Blind Pig)

The Blind Pig

This restaurant offers a unique blend of American and Mexican cuisine, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients. Their signature dish, the Blind Pig Burger, is a crowd favorite, boasting a juicy patty topped with green chile and a secret sauce that leaves customers coming back for more.

a picture of three pints of beer
(Photo courtesy of Borderlands Brewing Co.)

Borderlands Brewing Company

A well-established venue known for serving a diverse array of craft beers, including IPAs, sours, and even a rotating cider on tap. A rustic interior design that incorporates train station elements and artful cacti bar taps brings a distinctly Tucson ambiance to the experience.

A photo of the interior of The Century Room cocktail lounge
The Century Room (Photo courtesy of Hotel Congress)

The Century Room

The Century Room at the Hotel Congress is where it’s at for live jazz and crafty cocktails. It’s the first jazz club in Tucson and it’s adding some real style to the city’s nightlife​​. Their Sonoran Sazerac goes down smoother than that base line and their charcuterie boards hit those high notes just right!

A photo of a steak and lobster combo plate
Surf and Turf (Photo courtesy of Charro Steak & del Ray on Facebook)

Charro Steak & Del Rey

Surf ‘n’ turf! Charro Steak & Del Rey is a culinary vision brought to life by America’s First Family of Mexican Food. Using only the finest grass-fed beef, sustainable seafood, and cage-free poultry, this restaurant serves simple and delicious foods typical of the State of Sonora, Mexico, and is one of the most authentic farm and sea restaurants in the United States.

a picture of oysters on the half shell
(Photo courtesy of Cruda Mariscos)

CRUDA Mariscos & Oyster Bar

Cruda is your go-to spot for top-notch seafood in downtown Tucson. From fresh oysters to heart-warming seafood pasta, everything’s prepared with care. Don’t leave without trying their excellent Arroz Marinero or Lobster Toritos!

(Photo courtesy of The Delta)

The Delta Bar & Grill

Your ticket to a Southern-style Mardi Gras party in Tucson! Chef Travis whips up delicious dishes like the “Dr. Pepper Tri-Tip,” and the “Quesabirria Smash Burger.” Oh, and the “Sono Hot Fried Chicken” is legit. Their “Muffuletta” will make you feel like you’re chilling in New Orleans, and their “Seafood Gumbo” is off the charts. And that cocktail menu…you just gotta go check it out for yourself!

a picture of donuts
(Photo courtesy of Donut Bar)

Donut Bar

Donut Bar is your go-to spot for crazy-good donuts. They’ve got everything from vegan to grilled cheese donuts, with flavors changing every week. Don’t miss their outstanding Oreo Donut, and, before you ask, yes, you CAN sip on craft beer and mimosas while you’re there.

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!

(Photo courtesy of Frog & Firkin)

Frog & Firkin

Imagine a chill English pub vibe in Southern Arizona. That’s Frog & Firkin for you. There are loads of beers to choose from, both local and international, and the menu offers everything from the fresh and tasty “Power Salad” to the hearty, loaded “Firkin Burger.” Bonus: The outdoor patio features regular live music!

Bacon Cheeseburger & Fries (Photo courtesy of Gentle Ben's Brewing)

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 photo of the interior of Good Oak Bar in Tucson
Good Oak Bar, Downtown Tucson (Photo Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Good Oak Bar

Good Oak Bar is your go-to place for a wide range of bites and brews. They make their own chips and guacamole, and their collab with Little Love Burger next door produced the Good Love Burger — gruyere cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and caramelized onions, oh my! They’re open ’til midnight almost every day, so it’s a great place for evening drinks and late-night munchies​.

A photo of the interior of Highwire Lounge in downtown Tucson
(Photo Courtesy of Highwire Cocktail Lounge)

HighWire Tucson

This is a cool spot right behind Johnny Gibson’s. They’ve got a wide-open space with live music and a menu that’s all about fun. Try the Sonoran Corndog or Avocado Toast first, but don’t miss their Chips & Dip Trio. And hey, their vegan drinks? Totally worth it.

Photo Courtesy of Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery

HUB Restaurant & Ice Creamery

HUB offers brunch, lunch, dinner, but most importantly, homemade ice cream. This loft-feel surrounded with brick walls and unique décor offers a dark, intimate ambiance in the evening. They serve menu items such as pastrami HUB Hash and chicken Pot Pie. End your meal with creamy, homemade ice-cream in unique flavors like Oatmeal Cookie Dough and Spiced Cider.

Breakfast Burrito (Photo courtesy of Illegal Pete's)

Illegal Pete’s

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.

John Henry's Facade (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

John Henry’s

John Henry’s is a cool cocktail lounge on 6th Avenue in downtown Tucson. It’s got a chill vibe with live music and top-notch staff who know how to mix a good drink. Definitely a great bar for a classic Lone Star + Whiskey combo.

Juniper Negroni Swizzle (Photo credit: Shane Reiser)

Juniper

Downtown Tucson just got a cool gin bar. Located in the same spot where Iron John’s Brewing Co. used to reside, Juniper boasts a full wall of different kinds of gin, which are used to create an entire array of large and aromatic gin & tonics, magnificent martinis, novel negronis, and a range of other carefully crafted classic cocktails.

a plastic container filled with meat and vegetables on a plate
Birria tacos (Photo courtesy of La Chingada)

La Chingada Cocina

You need to check out La Chingada Cocina, a popular spot right in the heart of downtown. They’re dishing up some of the best Mexican food in Tucson, made with locally sourced ingredients and real authentic flavors. Plus, they’ve got live mariachi music on Sunday nights and some pretty amazing margaritas. Definitely worth a visit!​

Parisian Gnocchi at Maynards Market Kitchen (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Maynard’s Market & Kitchen

Maynards Market is a light, airy market where you can buy a variety of food, drinks, and other goods. This intimate area features a deli, coffee bar, bakery, and provides food such as Pain au Chocolat and Avocado Barrio Toast. Maynards also features a small retail section where you can purchase items from vendors around the Tucson area. Maynards Kitchen features an elegant restaurant for dinner.

a bowl of food on a plate
(Photo courtesy of Miss Saigon)

Miss Saigon (Downtown)

When it comes to Vietnamese food, Miss Saigon is the place to be. They’ve been dishing out fresh and flavorful meals since 2000, and their service is top-notch. The pho and chicken broth pho with catfish are crowd-pleasers, and the Shrimp Paste Spring Rolls and Orange Chicken are also worth a try.

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

The Monica

Run by the same folks who brought us El Charro Café, The Monica is a cool restaurant in downtown Tucson. Their menu is a mashup of family recipes whipped up by a team of ace chefs. It ain’t just Mexican food—think artisanal pizzas, baguettes, and dishes like Albondigas Béchamel and Short Rib Rustico. Plus the open-air bar and indoor/outdoor seating makes it great for just about any time of day!

Margerita Pizza at No Anchovies (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

No Anchovies

As one of Tucson’s most popular pizza joints, No Anchovies stands out with its eclectic variety of toppings and New York-style thin crust pizzas. Grab a slice, grab a beverage, and dig in!

Rainbow Poke Bowl at OBON (Photo by Jackie Tran)

OBON

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.

a picture of a bar
(Photo courtesy of Owls Club)

Owls Club

Imagine a classic Western bar with a twist. Located in Tucson’s historic Armory Park, the Owl’s Club is the go-to spot if you’re into whiskey, wine, or spirits. The setting? A cool 1920’s building with stained glass and chandeliers. Be sure to try their unique “Aspirational West” cocktail. It’s like a classic whiskey cocktail, but with a hint of absinthe and Spanish sherry thrown in​.

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

Penca

Penca is a downtown Tucson treasure that serves up authentic Mexico City cuisine with a contemporary twist. With a cozy ambiance and a delightful menu, Penca’s “Tacos al Pastor” and “Chile en Nogada” are standout dishes that showcase the vibrant flavors of central Mexican cuisine. Don’t forget to pair them with one of their handcrafted cocktails, such as the “Oaxacan Old Fashioned,” for a complete dining experience.

a slice of pizza
Photo courtesy of Penelope Pizza

Penelope Pizza

This delightful pizzeria, nestled inside Cartel Roasting Co, is a Tucson treasure. Born from a mobile wood-fired pizza oven formerly known as Over the Counter Pizza, Penelope serves up artisanal pizzas that pair perfectly with a cup of Cartel’s coffee.

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

Perche’ No Italian Bistro

At Perche No (Italian for “why not”), expect to be welcomed into a family atmosphere and served up some amazing Italian dishes. Owners Bruno and Krissy whip up a mix of classic and contemporary Italian dishes, alongside Bruno’s mouth-watering homemade desserts. Some must-try dishes include Penne al’Alce and the Asiago Crusted Ling Cod

(Photo courtesy of R Bar)

R Bar

R Bar isn’t just a spot for drinks—it’s part of The Rialto Theatre Foundation, helping to keep Tucson’s history alive. So, every drink you enjoy there is for a good cause! You gotta try their cocktails, especially the “Bee’s Knee’s” and “El Guapo”—they’re top-notch​.

Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink

Reilly’s has it all: hot pies, cold drinks, good wines, and great vibes. There is a patio and seating is communal, so it’s a great spot for large groups. Oh, and you won’t believe the dish everyone’s raving about – it’s not pizza, but Brussels sprouts! These babies are served with house hot sauce, sherry vinegar, and pecan brittle crumbs. SO good!

The Taproom at Hotel Congress (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

The Tap Room at Hotel Congress

Step into the past at the Congress Tap Room, a cool pub that’s been around since 1919. Dig the art deco vibe, check out the live music, and enjoy a martini or Bloody Mary. And hey, they even nabbed John Dillinger here back in the day​. Yeehaw!

a close up of a sandwich on a cutting board with a cake
Thunder Bacon Burger (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

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​1​. 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.

(Photo courtesy of Thunder Canyon Brewery)

Brick Box Brewery (formerly Thunder Canyon Brewery)

As Tucson’s most award-winning brewpub, Thunder Canyon Brewery is a must-visit for beer enthusiasts. With over 40 beers on tap and some awesome bistro-style eats, it’s the perfect place to hang out and unwind.

a picture of cocktails
Cocktails at TLC (Photo courtesy of Tough Luck Club)

Tough Luck Club

Tucked beneath Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink in downtown Tucson, the Tough Luck Club is a stylish basement bar that has quickly gained a following for its intimate character and inventive craft cocktails. Choose from a cheekily-named drink menu, featuring a unique medley of mixology.

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