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Planning A Chow Tour of Tucson

Years ago, I lived down in Tucson. I haven't been back in quite some time, and a friend just invited me down to stay for a couple of days. Naturally, this has me thinking about all of the great places that I used to go to eat, and how they're all holding up. So far for the gotta-go-there places, I have Cafe Poca Cosa, Feast, Mi Nidito, Beyond Bread, eegee's (the recent eegee's thread is the one that spawned this one, actually) and Mt. Lemmon Cafe. Are there any other places that you think a visitor to Tucson absolutely HAS to visit, whether a special occasion place or that little spot all the locals know about?

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  1. I don't know if you are into coffee or beer. If so, I recommend Coffee X-Change on Campbell and the Nimbus brewery down around 34th Street and Dodge. You really have to be a local to find Nimbus -- it's virtually impossible for an out-of-towner. I've been there 4-5 times over the years and it still takes me 45 minutes to locate it (being a guy, of course I can't call for directions).

    Mi Nidito has its Clinton claim to fame. I liked El Dorado down in the next block but it's been many years since I've been there. Farther south on 4th Ave, near 36th Street just past the old dog track is Micha's. I had a yummy lunch there recently and many locals swear by it as the best of that genre and neighborhood. Excellent machaca. For carne seca, though, the original El Charro downtown is the place. They hang it in an A-frame cage that's screened to keep birds out and literally run it up the flagpole to dry it in the sun. Sabroso!

    1 Reply
    1. re: misohungrychewlow

      Coffee X-change sucks. Go across the street to Raging Sage, trust me.

    2. We spent some time down there last week. One place we wandered into and really really really loved was a Guatamalen place called Maya Quetzal on 4th Ave. We went in at opening but it was quickly packed for lunch so must be popular. I asked my sister who used to live there if she knew it and she said "oh yeah, I LOVED that place. I'm so glad they're still in business!"

      Definitely worth a visit for some cheap and cheerful DELICIOUS chow.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ziggylu

        I also had a great experience at Maya Quetzal last time I was in Tucson. It was my first experience with Guatemalan food and my only source for it until I found out about Grill El Quetzal in Mesa.

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        Maya Quetzal
        429 N 4th Ave Apt 5, Tucson, AZ 85705

        1. re: silverbear

          How does the place in Mesa compare? We were wondering if there was anywhere similar here in Phoenix as we don't get to Tucson as often as we'd like...

          1. re: ziggylu

            I'd say the food is quite good at both restaurants. Maya Quetzal in Tucson has a broader menu with more vegetarian options. It's clearly targeting a U of A crowd given its location on 4th Ave. Grill El Quetzal, on the other hand, is more focused on serving the local Central American population. It's in an unglamorous strip mall and has a more straightforward menu. I like them both, but they are different.

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            Grill El Quetzal
            1933 W Main St, Mesa, AZ 85201

      2. El Torero
        Sausage Deli / Baggins / Rincon Market lunch
        Robert's for breakfast
        Special Occasion Janos or the more casual J-Bar or Ventana Room on Hunt's review
        I can not remember the name of the Coffee place that is now next to Dirtbags

        4 Replies
        1. re: Molto E

          Crave Espresso is new, and has wonderful coffees and pastries! Definitely worth a visit: www.craveesspressobar.com

          Our favorite modeartely upscale place is Primo in the StarrPass Marriott (call for reservations, though) and be sure to save room for the zeppole! http://local.yahoo.com/details?fr=dd-...

          1. re: Molto E

            Thanks for mentioning Roberts.

            Roberts brings back memories. Esp because the last meal I shared with my grandmother who died this spring was a to-go meal from Roberts.

            Its still painful but at the same time a real and lovely memory. Amazing what food can do...

            1. re: HomeCookKirsten

              That is a nice memory and Robert's has been there for so many people to share that warm experience...was there some pie in that to-go order :)

          2. El Guero Canelo for Sonoran hot dogs. And Pat's Drive-in for chili dogs and superb fries.

            1. Casa Molina (east side) is one of my favorite restaurants in the world, hands down.