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4 days in Tucson, AZ from L.A.: Recs?

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I'm going to be in Tucson for 4 days. I'm from Los Angeles. The last time I came I really enjoyed City Grill, but I see that it is closed for renovations. I'm staying at the Radisson Suites on E. Speedway.

Here are the criteria:
1) Not too pricey (entrees under $30 per person)
2) No Japanese, Chinese, or anything else that L.A. has more of or is better at
3) Like American, Italian, Mexican, French, etc.
4) Want some nice dinner places as well as good lunch places around Randolph Park area
5) Want a few recs for dinner places that are good for groups.

Which places would you recommend?

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  1. Cuvee at Speedway near Country Club (just east of Randolph Park).
    Dish in that same block.

    1. For Italian food everyone loves Vivace. It's at River and Campbell, 20 minutes or so from your hotel. It's terrific, reasonable and very popular. Even at lunchtime a reservation is wise, and for dinner it's a must. Closed on Sundays.

      For Mexican Poca Cosa, downtown, is very good and very different. It's worthy of an evening meal.

      Try Dakota in Trail Dust Town, on Tanque Verde about 3 minutes from your hotel. The food is good. Sit outside and the passing people are fun to watch.

      Montana Avenue, on Grant near Wilmot--also just a few minutes from your hotel--is very good. It's near the high end of your budget--entrees run from $15 to $25 or so--but I've never had a bad meal there.

      I don't know how big your group is. None of these places are best for large groups, but all of them can handle 6-8 with ease.

      Enjoy!

      4 Replies
      1. re: lawyerbriefs

        I can't recommend Cafe Poca Cosa enough. It's better than anything we have here in Phoenix by a long shot, and there's some serious Mexican chow up here! There is one thing on the menu to get, and that is the Plato Poca Cosa. It's three of that shift's items, and you find out what they are when they hit the table. The great thing about this is that if several people at the table get this, they make sure to do different dishes on everyone's plates. This way, four people can taste the entire menu.

        1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

          I second this rec. - there's nothing in LA like Poca Cosa. All of the previous recs are okay (except Vivace - LA has much better Italian). For uniquely Tucson, I would recommend Feast for dinner (it's small, so plan ahead if you take a large group) and Cafe Jasper for lunch or breakfast.

          Cafe Terra Cotta used to be uniquely Southwest, and it still is, but my last 4 meals there were very disappointing.

          1. re: Claudette

            I have to agree w/ Cafe Poca Cosa....I missed it my last trip to Tucson....
            but will definitely hit it later this month when I am in town on business! It is a Signature Tucson Experience! Fresh Ingredients and creativity and Native to the Region...what more can you ask for?

            http://pocacosatucson.com/

            1. re: ciaogal

              I'll also recommend Cafe Poca Cosa and suggest the Plato Poca Cosa. I lived in Los Angeles for five years and have been a regular visitor for the subsequent 14 years, and L.A. doesn't really have anything quite like Cafe Poca Cosa.

      2. La Parilla Suiza is right down the street from your hotel for Mexico City style.

        -----
        La Parilla Suiza
        5602 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85712

        1 Reply
        1. re: ajs228

          We go to Tucson from Boston every year to visit relatives. If you go to La Parilla I recommend the Tortilla Soup. The salsa is great too (three types). We also like the mixed platter at Cafe Poca Cosa.

        2. You need to try Feast - casual, fun, vegetarian selections, huge (wonderful) wine list, very diverse menu, fun little groceries, teas and chocolate, great staff, kooky (but cool) owner who travels around the dining room meeting and greeting folks - just a fun place!
          Closed on Monday, though. And no reservations - call ahead for big groups or to see if there is a wait - if so, they will put you on the list when you call!

          For Mexican, try El Sur on 22nd & Craycroft.
          Small family-owned place - food is good quality, fresh and inexpensive - great when you do not want to go downtown or on the South side. This place is a little jewel - I could not believe the low prices...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Annee

            El Sur is fabulous. They walk around with roasted jalapenos and onions to top your plates with, a nice extra touch. They are authentic and more than reasonable.

            Coming in right along side Poca Cosa is Zivaz for Mexican. Order their Plato, and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

          2. I think all that have been mentioned are good recs, especially Poca Cosa, but I would recommend Tavolino for Italian over Vivace. Vivace is good but I think Tavolino is better. I kind of sound like a broken record sometimes about this place but it really is very good.

            Somewhere else to try is Soleil. I am not sure why it doesn't get more pub. on this board. To me it is one of the best restaurants in Tucson. Plus it has a wonderful view of the vallley from its dinning room, probably one of the best dining room views in Tucson. It will be right at your $30 per person limit, but to me it is well worth it. On their website (www.soleiltucson.com) they say their food is modern american, I just call it yummy!!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: bluedevil33

              I like Tavolino also, although I am partial to Vivace. I believe Soleil is now closed. I thought I saw something that said "coming soon" to that location; however, the website is still up. I'm not a big Soleil fan, although the views are spectacular.

            2. J Bar is the less expensive, more casual version of the famous Janos, at the La Paloma resort on Sunset. It's more of a drive, but it's a beautiful setting and the food is very good. Here's the web site: http://www.janos.com/