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Looking for great Mexican in Tucson

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With our son now in school in southern Arizona, we find ourselves in Tucson on a monthly basis. We are looking for a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant with great food. At a friend's recommendation, we tried Mi Nidito yesterday. We were not impressed with the food or the ambiance. We would like something smaller and more authentic.

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  1. For authentic, try Cafe Poca Cosa. For authentic and smaller, try little Poca Cosa. Both are downtown. Cafe Poca Cosa is a fine dining restaurant, while little Poca Cosa--same owners--is much more casual and very reasonable.

    For more traditional (read: tacos, tamales, etc.), I like El Mezon del Cobre, which features seafood, as well. A small place with very good food and reasonable prices is Lerua's,

    On the southside some options other than Mi Nidito are El Dorado and Crossroads. All are OK. Frankly, I'm not a huge fan of South Tucson Mexican food.

    1. the burritos at St Mary's Mexican Food are amazingggg! I've only tried the chicken one, but its huge, the tortillas are very fresh, and its stuffed with only chicken, so you get a lot! Melt in your mouth delicious, and its great with the little sauce cups they give you. Pretty cheap too! It's an order-at-the-counter type place...fast food, but with no drive thru. It's on St Mary's (which turns into 6th street), just past I-10 (west of it) on the north side of the street a few blocks down.

      1. It's so sad that Mi Nidito isn't what it used to be, I've been going there for 35 years, and last time I went I cut into my chile relleno to see what looked like Velveeta oozing out. I may not return, because the old "feel" is pretty much gone. Not at all like the old times. There are lots of good Mexican restaurants, though. The Poca Cosas are a little more exotic, and really good, For Sonoran without the gringo accent, try Rigo's, on south 4th Avenue. El Mezon de Cobre is very good if the mariachi don't make you go deaf. The original El Charro downtown is good, but the other two locations have been "nouveaued" up and I don't care for them. Finally, if you're willing to forego ambience, you should try La Parrilla Suiza. It's a chain from Mexico City and it's muy sabrosa- their grilled steak tacos and the chorizo dishes are habit-forming.
        Last but not least, you ought to give one of the Mariscos Chihuahuas a try for their seafood. In fact, seafood is all they have. I crave it often.

        1 Reply
        1. re: EWSflash

          Marisco Chihuahua is a good choice. They are all run by different family memebers. The one on Grande is, in my humble opinion. The best. Little Poca Cosa is only open for breakfast and lunch and takes cash only. Maico on 22nd near Park Ave recently got a good review but you have to sit outside on picnic tables. I have not tried it. Go to El Guerro Canelo on 12th Avenue for the Sonoran hot dogs and carmelos.

        2. Here some suggestions:

          El Merendero(12th Ave, just south of Nebraska)- Been there for about 20 years and has become one of our favorite all-around places. Standouts include: shrimp quesadillas, chicken/chipotle quesadillas, chicharones de cameron(shrimp balls!), toritos, carne deshebrada, great chile colorado. Salsa also very good.

          Taqueria Juanitos(Grant and Fairview)- Best little tacos in Tucson. The carnitas and the al pastor tacos are out of this world.

          El Guero Canelo- I agree with noshingaround but would add the carne asada burro with cabbage, frijoles and cheese.

          1. is carichimaca (sp) still around??

            1 Reply
            1. re: jock

              As far as I know, yes... I still need to go there, my Spanish teacher in college recommended it quite highly. She said she always went there on the way back from the San Xavier del Bac mission,

              Karichimaka Restaurant
              5252 S Mission Rd, Tucson, AZ 85746

            2. Not a hole-in-the wall, and a bit tricky to find, is Teresa's Mosaic. Casual and good, a nice mix of locals and winter-visitors tend to dine there.

              Teresa's Mosaic Cafe
              2456 N Silver Mosaic Dr, Tucson, AZ 85745

              1 Reply
              1. re: DriverPhil

                Yeah, Teresa's is great Sonoran food. They get a little crazy-busy, though. You should still try them.

              2. El Charro, the original location downtown. My whole family LOVED the food.


                1. We're heading to Tucson on the 26th. We'll let you know what we try.
                  Thanks so much for your suggestions.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ola

                    We are headed to Tucson for the ASU/UofA game today.....we always make it a tradition to stop @ El Minuto Cafe on 354 S. Main ....it may not be fine dining...it's good family style Mexican food!

                    Go Devils!

                    1. re: ciaogal

                      My favorite breakfast spot in Tucson is Frank's, but at night it turns into Francisco's and dishes out some pretty good mexican fare.

                      Bear Down!

                      Frank's Restaurant
                      3843 E Pima St, Tucson, AZ 85716

                  2. Little Poca Cosa is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday only, but is well worth a visit. The larger Cafe Poca Cosa is definitely not a hole in the wall, but more like a special occasion restaurant with reservations recommended. My two favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants in Tucson are Taqueria Pico de Gallo (2618 S. 6th Ave.) and El Torero (231 E. 26th St.). El Torero features great turkey burros.

                    I agree that El Mezon del Cobre is good, but would not bother going to El Charro. El Guero Canelo has a newer location on Oracle near Grant. If you've never had a Sonoran-style hotdog and are leery of food carts, this is the place to go.

                    Taqueria Pico De Gallo
                    2618 S 6th Ave Unit A, Tucson, AZ 85713

                    Guero Canelo El Segundo Restaurant
                    2480 N Oracle Rd, Tucson, AZ 85705

                    1. The 'hole in the wall" small authentic Mexican restaurant you are looking for is 'LA INDITA" on Fourth Avenue. They serve Mexican and American Indian fare such as the flat bread tacos. I assume that your son is at the U of A ........La Indita is just off University Avenure on 4th about four blocks down. My son used to eat there all the time as a University student since the food was great and the prices even better ..........for a student.

                      1. Try MI Tierra in Catalina - right on Oracle Rd