Where to eat in Tucson?
I'm going to be in Tucson for the first time in late May. Where should I eat? Any food or price range is fine. I'm especially interested in the best food overall in a real nice place and the best Southwestern/Mexican food. I'm staying at the Marriott StarPass and won't have a car.
Well, let;s start with the "standard" list for Tucson:
Janos' ( www.janos.com ) is probably our most famous restaurant, and while it is always at least very good, and occasionally mind-blowing, it has been unpredictably variable between those marks for a few years.
Cafe Poca Cosa is the Mexican place everyone should visit while they're in town. It's not traditional Sonoran fare, but rather an upscale and modern Mexican restaurant serving a highly variable menu, and always outstanding. (No website, but can be easily googled for info / reviews)
El Charro/ Mi Nidito / El Minuto / Etc... There are easily two dozen really good Sonoran Mexican restaurants, and the "which one should someone be sent to" is always vigorously debated. Tons of posts out there on this.
Bistro Zin (http://www.foxrestaurantconcepts.com/bistrozin.html) A step down from the super-premium dining rooms at the best resorts, the food is consistently wonderful, the wine list is large, and fun, with a nice selection of flights.
There are certainly other "go-to" restaurants in town, but these are the ones that come first to mind. Now, a couple of my personal favorites:
Feast ( www.eatatfeast.com ), Doug Levy's restaurant is terrific, the staff friendly, the food interesting with a monthly menu, the prices reasonable, and the wine list fun and varied.
Tavolino (7090 N Oracle Rd, (520) 531-1913) wins my vote for best Italian in Tucson, transcending the red gravy and noodles Italian standard, it is much more reminiscent of vacations taken in Rome and Venice.
You DO need a car in Tucson. I second booklegger's recs for Janos, Poca Cosa, El Charro, and Feast. I would also add: Primo (at your Marriott hotel, and it'ss my favorite upscale Tucson restaurant), NoRth, Willow Cafe, Cup Cafe, Cafe Jasper. The Signature Grill at the StarrPass Marriott has a wonderful southwestern salad with spicy cornbread croutons, and terrific salmon at the weekend brunch.
Great ideas below, but one fun spot and idea (if you are doing some shopping!) is to get a late afternoon, early evening glass of wine on the patio at NORTH (also a Fox Concepts Restaurant.) This is located in our upscale shopping venue La Encantada. The food is consistantly good but the sunset views with wine and their anti-pasto platter is even better! If you are looking for a true gourmet room and don't mind the drive, The Ventana Room at Loews Ventana is still excellent. Hacienda del Sol is still very good, although their chef left last year for Loew's! The overall atmosphere and great filets (not to mention a delicious prickly pear margarita and lovely patio with live latin music and delicious tapas) makes this drive to the Foothills very worth it. AND PLEASE, GET A CAR! This just isn't a great city for cabbing it around :)