A week in Tucson coming up and need help!
We will be staying at Starr Pass, about 6 miles west of downtown and would love to hear any recommendations for any of the following:
a great steak
any other good ethnic food
a moderately upscale place in the Marana/Oro Valley area to take half a dozen family members (all adults) who live in that area.
I haven't been to Sullivan's, but there is gentle upselling at Flemings, and gross upselling at McMahon's (the universally-best-rated steak house but we hated it). Lots of people like Daisy Mae's (just a few miles from StarrPass) but I haven't tried it yet.
Primo's at the StarrPass Marriott is wonderful; the Signature Grill and Catalina Steakhouse there are both okay.
Been eating at Char's Thai for over 20 years. Outstanding.
El Charro has seen better days. Their expansions have left them a bit thin these days.
Barrio downtown is good. Primo where you will be staying has gotten superb write ups, although I've not eaten there.
For steak I'd avoid those chains like Flemings and Sullivans and hit Jonathan's Cork, but then again, I'm more into patronizing independent restaurants rather than chains, no matter how good.
Some further recommendations:
For Thai, try Chars, at Fifth street and Rosemont. This is my favorite Thai in town.
I can't think of a really good Indian place here in town, there are a lot that are ok, but I wouldn't recommend them. Instead, look to the Central and South American restaurants. I'll throw out Candella's (5845 N Oracle Rd; (520)407-0111) for starters.
For great steak, you have a few options. Sullivan's and Flemings are both pretty dependable, although I've not had great meals at Sullivan's lately. Everything seems just a little "less" lately, and the servers are really heavy into "upselling." Local choices are McMahon's--upscale and OK--and Lil Abner's. Lil Abner's has tons of local flavor, good food and is lots of fun. It is NOT, however, a high-end steakhouse.
I don't do Indian or Thai. The great ethnic food in Tucson is Mexican. Try Cafe Poca Cosa, downtown, for a great and very different Mexican experience. No tacos or chimichangas. High end dining with wonderful, different tastes. For more "expected" Mexican, Pico de Gallo is very good and very casual--order at a counter and find a mismatched table in one of several rooms. Also good are El Charro (expensive for what you get, but good) and any of several South Tucson places (Mi Nidito, Double L, Crossroads).
Other really good Tucson restaurants are Vivace (everyone's favorite for great Italian), North, Bistro Zin and Wildflower (Fox Restaurant chain), Tavolino and Kingfisher. For your Marana/Oro Valley crowd, all of the restaurants in the previous list, save Kingfisher, are close. Vivace is a must reservation, and I'd make it soon.
Many of these restaurants have been reviewed/discussed on the board. Check them out.