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Jan 15, 2009 01:18 PM

Best pre-concert restaurant near the Rialto Theatre in Tucson

I'm looking for recs for a pre-show meal near the Rialto Theatre in Tucson. We can walk from there to the show or we will have a car, but don't want to drive too far. Also, any recs for post-show good late night eats?

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  1. The nice thing about the downtown Tucson area is that since it's pretty small, everything in downtown is quite walkable. 4th Avenue also has a good selection of places, and is either a medium-long walk or a short drive; the north end of the 4th Avenue area is about 3/4 mile from the Rialto.

    My go-to for downtown Tucson dining always has been, and likely always will be, Cafe Poca Cosa. If better Mexican exists in this state, I have yet to find it. Nothing up here in Phoenix comes close. Get the Plato Poca Cosa: Three of that shift's items, chef's choice. It's the only thing that's always on the menu (the menu completely changes twice daily), and I've always been thrilled with it. If multiple people at the table get the Plato, the chef will give different people different dishes so that you can try as many dishes as possible. I recommend Poca Cosa more for lunch than for dinner simply because the lunch prices are considerably less for the same food. It's still a worthwhile value at dinner (the last I knew, entrées were around $20, but this was years ago), just not the screaming deal you get at lunch.

    One I hadn't tried but have had friends come back raving is Barrio. The menu certainly does look like an enjoyable one. Dinner entrées are $15-$20 for the most part, and top out at $28 for rack of lamb.

    If you're in the mood for more of bar-casual, there's Bison Witches on the south end of 4th Avenue, about a third of a mile from the Rialto. They're one of my reliable standbys for when I want something reasonably priced that still tastes good. The thing everyone gets is the half-sandwich and soup special: Half of one of their sandwiches (I haven't had a bad one yet, order whatever sounds good to you that night), a bread bowl of soup, and potato chips, all for $7.50. Note that the whole sandwiches are enormous; half a sandwich is still decently sized.

    the Cup Cafe at Hotel Congress is right across the street from the Rialto, and if it's anything like what it was when I lived down there, would be a worthwhile place for late-night. They serve food until midnight.

    If my memory serves me correctly, there's a place on Congress simply known as The Grill, three blocks west of the Rialto. They're open 24/7, and are a pretty hot spot for the post-nightclub crowd. I don't remember too much of it (it's much like the 60s in that respect: If you remember it, you weren't doing it right), but I do remember it's a good old fashioned dive of a diner with snarky waitstaff, and food that's better than it has any right to be. If you can't find anything on the menu that tickles your fancy, there's always the big bowl of Cap'n Crunch. You'd feel like you're in an Edward Hopper painting if it wasn't for the tattooed and pierced guy in the next booth over. The more I think about it, the more I'd select it over Cup. Be warned, the place is a zoo starting around 1:30 or 2 when the clubs let out.

    Bison Wiches
    326 N 4th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705

    Cup Cafe
    311 E Congress St, Tucson, AZ

    Barrio Food & Drink
    135 S 6th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701

    100 E Congress St, Tucson, AZ 85701

    Cafe Poca Cosa
    110 E Pennington St, Tucson, AZ 85701

    2 Replies
    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

      JKGCL- Thx for the awesome tips/list. I'm always up for a killer Mexican place! The Grill sounds like the place if the late night munchies/alcohol soak up is necessary.

      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

        We're in Tucson every February, and the Cup Cafe has gotten to be very good indeed and definitely open late.

        Barrio is pretty good -- and has an excellent bar with great cocktails as well as a good selection of wines by the glass. Food is reasonably good, although always more than we can eat. Menu sounds better than it actually is but the place is enjoyable enough.

      2. A new restaurant at the train station is Maynards. We have not dined there, other than a good dopio at the bar, but it is run by the Hotel Congress & Cup Cafe people, so the bloodlines are good.

        1. I heartily second the choices of Cafe Poca Cosa for dinner and the Grill for after-show food/libations. I have never had a good meal at Barrio. I think of it as all show and no go.

          1. P.S. Maynard's is delicious, well-prepared, well-sourced and underpriced. One of my favorite new places. The beet salad is terrific and their semi-fredo is one of the best deserts I have had in recent memory.