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New Tucson Restaurants (Are there any?)

Hey, Tucson / AZ hounds... is it just me, or has there been a dearth of good new restaurants in Tucson for the last 6-8 months? Anyone know of any recently opened tasty spots? Last one I can think of is Fox Groups Montana Avenue.

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  1. I've heard very good words about Trattoria La Famiglia, at Oracle and Limberlost. Also, the vibe and food are supposed to be great at Vin Table (although it sounds like more than a touch of Scottsdale/Beverly Hills snootiness pervades the hostess stand.) Vin Table is at Campbell and Skyline.

    As an aside, I had a terrific lunch at Kingfisher and great dinner at Vivace on this very day. My stomach and esophagus are killing me, but the food, service and ambiance were great.

    8 Replies
    1. re: lawyerbriefs

      I had lunch at Vin Tabla last month. The food was good, the service was prompt and the hostesses were friendly. No complaints. I don't live in Tucson, but will probably go back to Vin Tabla next month when I'm in town.

      1. re: lawyerbriefs

        It'll be interesting to see the new Fox effort at La Encantada - Bianca something. All of their venues are terrific.

        1. re: binky Luckhurst

          La Encantada has two new very exciting restaurants opening soon!

          **** Blanco ~ Tacos + Tequila ****
          *Opening beginning of April*
          Featuring the updated flavors and spirits of Mexico, guests at Blanco will enjoy delicious creations from the open kitchen where food will be prepared using the freshest most delicious ingredients. A demonstration window on the exterior will allow guests to watch tacos and other specialty dishes being prepared to order. The full bar will feature one of Tucson’s finest selection of wines, beers and tequilas. This new restaurant will be located on the upper-level next to Louis Vuitton.

          **** Armitage Wine Lounge & Café ****
          *Opening May*
          A premium wine and cocktail lounge that serves a variety of light fare, an eclectic selection of fine wines, premium spirits, specialty martinis, and imported beers in a non-smoking atmosphere. This new restaurant will be located on the lower-level near Gymboree.

          2905 E Skyline Drive
          Tucson, Arizona 85718
          * on the North West corner of Skyline & Campbell *

          Phone: (520) 299-3556

          Additional Dining Experiences at La Encantada:

          A.J.’s Fine Foods - 232.6340
          Lunch or dinner can be more than a meal; it can be an international culinary adventure thanks to the chefs at A.J.s Bistro. Every day, each A.J.’s bistro brings something unique and flavorful to our neighborhood.

          Bluepoint Kitchen & Bar - 577.6000
          Fresh seafood, prime steaks, chops, premium cocktails and spectacular views of the valley are just a few of the highlights of Bluepoint Kitchen & Bar. A sexy, “big city” atmosphere showcases a bustling open kitchen, high ceilings, custom light fixtures, unique round martini bar, mahogany walls and plasma televisions.

          Firebird’s Rocky Mountain Grill - 577.0747
          Highlights include aged, hand-cut steaks, prime rib, fresh seafood, rotisserie chicken, pasta, sandwiches and salads. Reminiscent of a Colorado lodge, with high vaulted ceilings, exposed beams and both indoor and outdoor fireplace.

          NoRTH - 299.1600
          North features delicious modern Italian cuisine, great hospitality in a chic New York City loft interior, the fabulous bar, intimate, private dining room and great sofa seating on the patio in town are matched only by the breathtaking views of Tucson!

          RA Sushi - 615.3970
          RA features “the best damn sushi in the ocean” and a full menu of Pacific Rim dishes in an upbeat and stimulating atmosphere where Iron chef meets Girls Gone Wild.

          1. re: ezra_245

            Had lunch at Armitage a few weeks ago. It was wonderful. Very upscale, but friendly. Two of us split an antipasto plate (grilled bread, cheeses, prosciutto, salami, etc.) and some bruschetta. The quality and preparation were exceptional. The place is a little hard to find at La Encantada, but certainly worth it.

            1. re: bb4226

              What section of the mall is it in? I've never seen it.

              1. re: Claudette

                Armitage is on the lower level. From the parking lot, it's just east of Crate and Barrel. There's a mall entry passage there, with a few empty shops, and Armitage is on the right.

            2. re: ezra_245

              La Encantada epitomizes everything I hate about living in most of America. No matter how fancy they dress it up to be, the fact is you are still at a strip mall. yes, a very nice strip mall, but a strip mall none the less. It's like souping up a station wagon with 30,000 dollar rims. It feels sooo wrong

          2. re: lawyerbriefs

            Trattoria La Famiglia in Tucson is excellent. It is located at Oracle and Rudasill not Limberlost. The cuisine, is outstanding, the prices a bit steep but not too bad considering the amount of food you get. The ambiance is superb which makes for a great night out.

          3. A new desert place opened on University - not bad.

            1. I absolutely HATE the style of Mexican food here in Tucson. You wanna talk boring????
              So, it was with great trepidations that I agreed to meet a friend up a El Encanto at the new Mexican restaurant, Blanco. I have to say, I will definitely return. Everything I tasted was really delicious. The complimentary salsa was way-smoky, the chips were freshly done and the guacamole was absolutely fabulous. So, that's a new restaurant here.

              By the way, does anyone have the phone number for La Famiglia? They are hard to locate in any directory for whatever reason. I do agree the food there is exceptional. The one caveat I offer is to try to offer the special(s) of the day to insure freshness. I also miss smelling the aroma of food in that place. I love to walk into a restaurant that has that fine addition of freshly cooking food. What ever do they do with it at La Famiglia?

              3 Replies
              1. re: Tucson Tessie

                I was a little disappointed in Blanco: chips were tough and greasy, but the salsa was good; pescado veracruz had nicely cooked fish on an overwrought melange of veggies, but the olives overpowered everything; short rib queso crisp was light and tasty, but not worth $11. Great views, nice decor, friendly service.

                1. re: Tucson Tessie

                  I agree 100%. Mexican food should not be that expensive. I think they are charging to pay for the high cost of renting in El Encanto.

                  1. re: USCMOM

                    are all these references to "el encanto" supposed to be La Encantada? also, you aren't paying for the food when you go to a restaurant up there, you're paying for the atmosphere, so obviously the food doesn't need to be very good.

                2. When I was at Blanco, there was a little blurb about Zinburger opening in November. If anyone goes, I'd love to have a report, since I won't have a chance to try it until after the new year. TIA!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Claudette

                    I'm sure I'll check it out shortly after it opens, but I'll probably be carrying some pretty heavy prejudice, as Bistro Zin was one fo my favorite restaurants, and it still irks me that it was shut down to make way for a burger bar.

                    1. re: Booklegger451

                      LOL. Well, I'd still like your review, prejudiced or not. TIA.

                      1. re: Claudette

                        I loved Zin Bistro too, just to let ya know, the burgers are good, not the best in town, and quite pricey. The ambiance of the restaurant is still nice, but for my money there are other places I would go.

                        1. re: darcyd

                          I had lunch at Zinburger last week. The burger menu was somewhat limited. I had a burger with carmelized onions, mexican cheese. They brought me catsup, but all other condiments were a dollar each extra. Nothing came with the burger. I ordered a side of fried zuchinni for an extra $5. Total lunch was greater than $20. A better burger with fries or onion rings at half the price to be found at Fuddrucker's with unlimited condiments!

                  2. A friend of mine in the food biz RAVED about McClintock's Restaurant - has anyone tried it yet? We're not able to go until Dec. TIA!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Claudette

                      We're going tomorrow night - I'll report on our visit

                      1. re: DriverPhil

                        Interesting evening. You drive up Thornydale past civilization and through a tunnel to the guardhouse. They check that you have a reservation and then provide an escort vehicle to guide you the two miles further to the restaurant. The view was probably fabulous but we arrived at 6:30 and it was too dark to see anything.

                        We (party of five) sat on the porch by a mesquite fire for a predinner drink and then went into the dining room.

                        The dining room is western fancy, reminded me of an upscale resort hotel for some reason. Lots of waitstaff, very accommodating too. Before I forget, the website is http://www.saguaroranch.net/ - you can find their complete menu there.

                        I had Rack of Colorado Lamb, my wife had Cioppino. We shared the Yellow Velvet soup and the Trio Tasting for dessert. Please look at their menu for full descriptions.

                        Well you say, did I like it? The ambiance was good, the food properly prepared and we really liked the dessert. Our entrees were good but not out of this world .

                        We'd give them one more try but it wasn't love at first sight.

                        1. re: DriverPhil

                          Thanks for the link; I just looked at their menu and must admit, it's not quite what I expected. I guess I would've guessed it'd be a bit more "southwest" and for the price, there'd be some "wow factor". Except for the ambiance, I don't see anything anything on the menu that'd make me eager to get a reservation there. Not at all what I'd expected, based on some earlier reviews.

                          1. re: DriverPhil

                            Thanks for the report; when you say "properly prepared," and "not out of this world," - does that mean it wasn't good value for the price?

                            1. re: Claudette

                              hmmmmm, good question. The service was excellent and the surroundings were certainly upscale. But the food just didn't seem to live up it.

                              So, for me, the price=quality part of the evening didn't work. My wife says that to be fair we have to give them a second try, and we will.

                              The 'new' Dish restaurant is a better dining experience in my opinion.

                      2. Tucson - anything new to know about? Armitage ok, but, dark, and, noisy - outside seems nice. Zinburger, good. Anyone know what is happening with Amerano (?) on Grant - seems that has been being constructed forever - loved it before it closed, at its previous location. Too - the new Italia on Tanque Verde, and, that CAfe East on TV. Looking forward to some updates. Thanks.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: binky Luckhurst

                          Went to the new Bistro Phillippe out where Firecracker used to be and found it quite enjoyable. My husband's sole was especially good -- and served on the bone, which we appreciate for its greater flavor. Also really liked the octopus carpaccio.

                          1. re: Joan Kureczka

                            Went to Bistro Phillippe with my girlfriend for dinner about a week ago and had a very disappointing meal. The service was extremely amateurish and awkward. The server was definitely trying to rush us through the meal. He would try to clear plates before we were done with them and asked us to place our dessert order just a few minutes after dropping our entrees. He also came by three times after dropping the check (within a few minutes) even though we both had full glasses of wine that we were still enjoying. On the food side, it was okay, but nothing to write home about. We both thought the flavors were fairly bland and we both agreed that it wasn't a bad meal, but not a place that we would go back to.

                            1. re: Royiv

                              Thanks for the report, as I've been curious. How disappointing, since we have so few new restos in Tucson!

                              1. re: Claudette

                                Bistro Phillipe has now closed. Soon to be replaced by another Italian restaurant by Steve Schultz who owns Red Sky in the same complex.

                                1. re: Claudette

                                  Bistro Philippe has now closed, soon to be replaced by another endeavor by Steve Schultz of Red Sky.

                            2. re: binky Luckhurst

                              Wait a few months on Italia - they still have their sea legs. Service was spotty, food was fair at best.

                            3. Not upscale at all, but recently Cocina Loca, recently opened on 6th street near the U of A. They have some interesting menu options including a burger that is made of ground pork shoulder. I had it and it was amazing.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: tucsontt


                                What sort of food do they serve? I'll be in the University area this weekend, maybe I'll give them a try.

                              2. Casa Vicente downtown. Spanish tapas, regular menu, sangria, flamenco dancing on the weekends. More than enough variety, even for my 12 year old.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: personalcheffie

                                  I heard through grape vine of a south american type place opening soon possibly the river/craycroft area. Cant confirm it just heard from a friend who is in the bus.

                                  1. re: localfoodie72

                                    Could be. I understand that Candela has been doing pretty well up north with it's Peruvian menu. (They should certainly be, their food is great.)

                                2. Zona 78 on Tanque Verde near Sabino Canyon Rd. is wonderful. They make their own mozzarella on-site. Everything we had there was really really good. The service is a bit young, but the food is worth putting up with that.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: wyf4lyf

                                    This place is just up the street from me. I've been there quite a bit, and have to agree, it's a really good place. Their pizza's are very nice, their pasta dishes are tasty, and their lunch menu has some nice surprises. I'm not sure, though, how they'll hold up through the hot months. Lots of heavy, hot food.

                                  2. If you like Thai, Vila Thai on University is outstanding.

                                    1. For N. Ital pizzas and salads - Vero Amore. Consistently fresh ingredients. Real wood oven - you can taste. Homemade (by them) Mozz.

                                      1. For N. Ital Pizza & salads - Vero Amore. Consistently fresh ingredients. Real oven, you can taste it in the crust & bread. Homemade ( by them) Mozz.

                                        Dessert place on Speedway & Beverly, Something Sweet. Cakes and Pies. Not fancy but the real deal.

                                        Mexican and/or Seafood - El Mezon Del Cobre. If you are taking people out to dinner from out of town like midwest or east, try there or the showplaces like El Charro.

                                        Fish & Chips - Montana or Firkin & Friar.

                                        North at La Encantada has good burgers, rosemary chicken, Zuca fries. Generally, the La Encantada restaurants are good but you pay for the location, not the unique qualities of the food.