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suggestions for tucson

Okay, how about some additional places in Tucson for:

Asian
Hamburgers
Salads
Pizza
Southwest
Whatever!
Italian

Among our favorites to date are:

Cup
Vera Amore
Sauce
Beyond Bread
"J" Bar
Wildflowers
Montana Avenue
Cuvee
Feast
North (sometimes)
Zona 78

Thanks.

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  1. Jonathans Coak - steak, seafood, great food.
    Dirtbags - for french fries, cheap drinks, big college hang out
    Sausage Deli - sandwhiches
    Kingfisher - fish
    Pastiche
    Bistro Zen
    Wildflower - another sam fox place (same as North and Sauce)

    There are more places in Tucson, one of my favorite towns to eat in. Hope you enjoy it too.

    1. Asian :
      Yamato Japanese. its tucked into a crappy strip mall on grant and first or something next to a CVS. its kinda a hidden gem in my opinion. its got some of the freshest tasting fish... but its one of the more traditional sushi places. they don't do a lot of new fangled things some of the other places do, like batter and fry the rolls and such. but its great for some fresh tasting food. The price however, never fails to creep up on me though whenever I go there. Takamatsu is also good for good inexpensive rolls (which I was surprised by) As a side note, RA sushi has to be the worst sushi in tucson. Their sushi chefs are incredibly under trained - the sushi rolls are never rolled correctly. it falls apart everywhere. the rice is never seasoned correctly. Never order sushi at RA. only the hot food which is passable. Better yet, don't step foot inside this commercial monstrosity. Its all marketing and no substance.

      Hamburgers:
      Duno. The only time I've seen a hamburger worth paying for, it was at McMahon's steak house, but you shouldn't have to go to a fancy shmancy restaurant for a good burger. Many people would say Fudruckers. They have great burgers if you like overcooked meat patties that are dripping in grease that taste like crap and suck a whole lot that you then have you ad a semblance of flavor to by piling it high with condiments. It is conceivable some of those grill bars like Trident or Dirtbags have good burgers, but I honestly can think of better ways to spend my time than wading through the future business criminals and political lackies that are todays frat douchesbags who seems to regular stuff themselves into those two places.

      Salads -
      anywhere except Chopped! Don't be fooled by the fact that their main product is the salad. They haven't mastered it yet. The ingredients they chop into the salad are so minuscule you don't actually get a big bite of it to actually notice its in your salad in the first place. Roccos actually has good salad, but simple. They also have an excellent caprese salad.

      Pizza:
      There has been little change in tucson concerning Pizza. I mean. the answers are pretty cliche. Roccos for deep dish, Brooklyn for New York style. La Ferlita and
      Zona 78 have good California style gourmet/ cracker style pizza with good toppings.

      Southwest:
      There are only 3 southwestern restaurants in tucson that I have ever been that have been worth going back to. El Charro of course is pretty ok. Guadalajara grill is a nice twist, and there is a small incredibly cheap very tasty place on 4th, called La Indita. They serve food on fry breads, as opposed to the traditional tortillas or hard shell tacos. Everything else either blends in with the crowd or blatantly sucks. Never go to El Minuto. their food is indistinguishable from food you buy at your grocer's freezer and nuke. Yes, Clinton ate there, but Clinton never met a fast food joint he didn't like... sooo.. Oh yea, there is a new place called Zivaz on broadway that is very tasty. Not exactly traditional southwestern. but I think thats a good thing. Its like they took Mexican food and added flavor and found out that they sell more than beans and ground beef at the restaurant distribution companies. The shrimp is pretty good there.

      Whatever!:
      My biggest surprise was Bistro Zin. Fully expected a plate full of over stylized, under flavored crap. Turns out they actually have a chef back there who knows what he's doing. Got a wrack of lamb, cooked perfectly with awesome mashed sweet potatoes I think it was. I'm always waiting i guess for one of the Fox concept restaurants to suck. I'm pretty cynical of anything that resembles big corporation style food solutions, but so far they've done a good job.

      Italian:
      I'll refer once again to Zona 78. In all the things i've tasted in tucson, they seemed to come closest to authentic tuscan cooking. im not saying that they come close to authenticity at all.... I'm just saying they come the closest. I really like their california style pizza, and I had some sort of white beans soup in broth that was really simple and satisfying. There is an Italian place downtown called Enoteca that is very hit or miss. Had a pasta with seafood with them once which was very good, but then I had a chicken in a cream sauce which i couldn't even take more than three bites out of. The chicken was at best flavorless, and at worst, tasted way past its freshness date. Its a reoccurring problem I have in tucson. For whatever reason, chicken just does not taste good in a lot of places around here. If im at a new restaurant, i won't order the chicken unless i know the other stuff is good first. .

      so thats my take. anybody try that new downtown place called Escoleses or whatever?

      3 Replies
      1. re: ciantgock

        "Takamatsu is also good for good inexpensive rolls (which I was surprised by).."

        Takamatsu is actually three restaurants in one. I have found the Japanese part really awful, but the Korean part is EXCELLENT and attracts a lot of Koreans. I haven't tried the hibachi part, but it seems to be popular with people who like to watch the chef put on a show with knives and flames.

        "As a side note, RA sushi has to be the worst sushi in tucson."

        My vote for the worst sushi goes to Sushi Ten, which used to be the BEST in Tucson, but it was sold to some commercial chain, maybe the same one that owns your worst. The REAL S10 is now up north in Awataukee and is called Sushi Ken and is as great as ever,

        1. re: werewolf

          Do you happen to know how long ago Sushi Ten was sold? It used to be my favorite sushi place in Tucson, but I haven't been since December and am wondering if the owners switched before then or since then. Thanks! Also, the worst sushi places I have found in Tucson to date are Kampai, Sushi Garden, and Sushi Cho. It seems really difficult to find good fish in this desert!

          1. re: Jess321

            It must be almost two years ago that Sushi Ten was sold. I've also been to a number of other bad sushi places in Tucson, most of whose names I have mercifully forgotten. But in my opinion the old Sushi Ten was not only the best value sushi place in Tucson but in all Arizona and probably in the whole country and probably in the whole world! If you go north to Awataukee you'll find the same staff and the same great food.

            Now I'm a sushi traditionalist and I have zero interest in spicy tuna rolls and the like. I judge these places by their chirashi.

      2. i take back the clinton thing. i think that was mi nidito

        1. I have to disagree about Chopped. I really enjoy the salads there, and I love that I can create my own, and make it different each time. No "chopped salad" I've ever eaten anywhere else had large pieces, either...the point is that all the pieces are small and then the tastes blend together.

          1. Bluepoint for seafood. Tera Cota for SW.

            1. Hamburgers: your best bet, by far, is the Wildcat House on Stone S of Grant. Best and cheapest Monday and Friday. WH is a cavernous and rather grim college beer hall, probably best avoided by adults on weekends. The burgers are huge, char-broiled to order, and I've never had a bad one in the 25 years or so I've been eating there. One of Tucson's best bargain meals, and best-kept secrets. Don't miss.

              1. Given your list, I'd add B-line on Fourth Ave.

                1. Casa Vicente...where a friend and I had some really nice tapas and wine a few weeks ago...

                  1. Acacia in the St. Philips Plaza at River and Campbell is phenomenal. Service and food are consitently impeccable.

                    Elle is also a favorite of mine; it must not have always been good, though, because there never seem to be very many people there. So to Tucson locals, I would definitely recommend giving it another chance. The porkchops were amazing!

                    I used to work at Chopped, so in response to previous comments, I personally think a better quality and value salad can be found at countless other establishments. As far as customization, though, they are pretty much the best game in town (besides salad bars, I suppose).

                    Bistro Zin has closed, FYI, but a sign on the door said that a new Fox concept restaurant is going in soon. A casual burger place, I think (bummer).

                    I second the suggestions about Wildflower, Feast, Kingfisher. I would also suggest trying some hole-in-the-wall ethnic places here. For authentic Chinese, hit GOlden Phoenix on 22nd St. and get the Chinese menu. Ambience is terrible and most of the customers are usually there for the buffet, but the food is always great. For sushi, Sushi Cho on Broadway is great, but same thing about ambience. Luxor Cafe on Campbell at Prince is great for Mediterranean food.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: allison325

                      I actually ate at a Chopped restaurant yesterday for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised by it. I had the Mediterranean salad, and it was large portion with fresh green, plenty of sun-dried tomatoes and olives with a good feta-cheese vinaigrette. Perhaps a bit over-priced, but not bad.

                      1. re: allison325

                        Yea, I noticed Bistro Zin was closed. We showed up there the other day and were extremely disappointed. It was one of the better mid-upscale restaurants here.

                      2. "Never go to El Minuto. their food is indistinguishable from food you buy at your grocer's freezer and nuke. Yes, Clinton ate there,.."

                        Mi Nidito, not "El Minuto".

                        1. Bob Dobbs has great burgers. The downside is that it might not be the place you want to be if you are opposed to a few drunk university students...

                          1. Bistro Zin, my favorite restaurant before it closed, is now ZinBurger. The burgers and the fish sandwich are great. But it's become such a singles hangout that it is too loud to eat there. Either sit outside or get take-out.
                            Agree with the comments about Wildflower, Acacia, Zona 78, and the variable quality of North (also noisy, btw.)
                            Best sushi is Sushi Cho on Broadway, and strangely, AJ's, which clearly has the freshest fish in town. No atmosphere and not cheap, but who goes to a sushi place for atmosphere? Both places have excellent, informed chefs.
                            My personal favorite secret place is Samurai, in the strip center on the SE corner of Roger and Oracle. Great, cheap, fresh Japanese fast food (no real sushi.)
                            Mexican is Rosa's, hands down. Genuine, old-home Tucson.
                            Beyond Bread for soup and sandwiches.
                            And there is a great new Greek place on Campbell next to Sauce called Opa! Good food, and very friendly service. Avoid the beef and stick to the chicken and souvlaki dishes.

                            1. I realize it has been over a year since your original post. The first week in Tucson this year found us at Vivace. We would highly recommend it for great Italian food. Hope the info isn't too late for you.