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Jun 4, 2009 06:42 AM

Tuscon and Tonopah recommendations?

I'm driving next week from San Francisco to Dallas via Tonopah, AZ, Tuscon, and Marfa, Texas. I've got some good restaurant recommendations for Marfa but nothing on Tonopah or Tuscon (staying at the Arizona Inn).

Any Chowhound thoughts on these two Arizona cities?


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  1. Everyone seems to like the AZ Inn, but my last dinner there was inedible, except for the dessert. For exceptional, only-in-Tucson dishes, I'd recommend either Poca Cosa's chef's plato or the carne seca at El Charro. Also check the previous Tucson threads.

    El Charro Cafe
    311 N Court Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701

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

    3 Replies
    1. re: Claudette

      Funny, I had the exact opposite experience last time I ate at AZ Inn: we really enjoyed all of the food, except for the dessert, which I thought was entirely skippable. Nice dining room, great service, solid meal.

      That said, if I were to be passing through Tucson for one meal only, I would definitely head for Cafe Poca Cosa, as Claudette recommended.

      1. re: crsin

        Yes, it's very odd. Everyone had a nice meal except me, and they all agreed that my salad and entree were inedible. I pointed out the problems to the server, who merely shrugged.

      2. re: Claudette

        Last time I had the chef's plate at Cafe Poca Cosa it was awesome. It was a slow meal but, very very good.

        For something completely off the wall, Sonaran hotdogs at BK's or Guero Canelo are very good.

      3. Are you planning to stop in Tonopah? It's only about 2 1/2 hours from Tucson, and about 45 minutes from the heart of Phoenix. I'm not sure there is much there food-wise -- I've only used it as a gas stop. If you want to stop to eat before Tucson, I would highly recommend holding out until you get to Phoenix. Is there any particular food in which you are interested?

        3 Replies
        1. re: kjhart

          My potential stay in Tonopah is based solely on distance from San Francisco. I'm meeting friends in Tuscon but don't think I can/should make that drive in one day. My plan is to drive for 10-12 hours from SF (thus to Tonopah), sleep over, and make it to lunch the next day in Tuscon. No stop anticipated in Phoenix.

          Based on that schedule, any Tonopah places of interest?


          1. re: cortez

            You might consider having a nice big dinner in the Palm Spgs area and then buy stuff for supper or snack when bedding down in Tonopah. If you read previous threads, chowhound eats seem pretty slim between PS and Phoenix.

            1. re: Claudette

              I agree with Claudette's suggestion about Palm Springs. I did a bit of research because I was not even sure if there was anywhere other than gas station convenience stores to get food in Tonopah, and came across Tonopah Rob's Farm Stand, If you happen to be there on a Saturday, you can check out what Tonopah Rob and his "cadre of vendors who also have all-natural locally produced yummy stuff" have to offer. Best of luck!

        2. Definately don't miss Ice Cream by the pool or Brunch by the pool at the Az. Inn. It is an old wonderful place with the grand hotel ambiance of The Del in San Diego and a few other Grand hotels.Also just relax and enjoy awalk through the gardens.
          I am old Nevada and I have been going to Tonopah for ages and have never had a good meal there , but have had many a good time at the MiZPAH hotel bar, which is now closed. Several people have given you good rec's for Tucson . About the rest of your Trip all I can tell you is I've never found anything in Alpine Tx . which is down the road from Marfa and have never had the pleasure of eating in Marfa so if you will after your trip please give a report of the expierences.

          3 Replies
          1. re: zephyr53

            Thanks to all for the suggestions. I started the trip today.

            Very tough beginning: blew a tire (razor blade inbedded in the tire, destroying it) in the SF Bay Area 20 minutes from home in Napa. Cost me a new tire and 3 hours driving time as I searched for a tire dealer very early on a Sunday morning. Firestone in Pleasant Hill helped me out -- Bridgestone run flat installed fairly quickly after it opened up.

            However, we recovered and made it to Palm Springs by 5pm. Had drinks and then dinner at Citron outside by the pool at the Hotel Viceroy. A little self consciously "cool" in the 50's mode. But, nonetheless terrific for a roadside hotel for an unexpected stop. Crowd around the pool was the fashion/entertainment set from LA. Entertaining. Service was laid back to the point of sleepiness.

            But, a wonderful end to a tough driving day. Dip in the pool while enjoying a margarita pre-dinner.

            On to Tuscon and the Arizona Inn in the morning.

            1. re: cortez

              Maybe my blown tire to start the trip was a blessing. Stopped for gas yesterday in Tonopah. Yikes! I am so glad we didn't stay there. Depressing, desolate. Grabbed a sandwich from Subway (inside the gas station) and got out of there fast.

              Stopped by Miraval just outside Tuscon for a lunch visit just to see the place for possible future stays. Wow. Restful, lovely with absolutely delicious food. Although low calorie, the spicy albocore tuna entree was wonderful as was the multi item lunch buffet. The new villa units (modernist 2br units, 2600 sq. ') are spectacular. A definite place to go to relax, exercise and get healthy in a non-regimented spa way.

              Made it in late afternoon to the Arizona Inn. Beautiful buildings and grounds as all have said. Welcoming service. Extremely well maintained historic property. Had drinks and then the ice cream bar by the pool -- thanks much for the tip. It was very fun putting M&M's, oreos and heath bars on my ice cream. Felt like a kid again.

              For dinner, Poca Cosa was closed on Monday so we went the Hotel's main dining room. Beautiful room, stiff heavy linens, helpful if inexperienced staff. Menu was uber traditional (Vichysoisse, French Onion soup, filet mignon, lamb chops, Beef Bourguignon, etc.) and only so so. Salad was a bit boring and my bouillabaisse had nice chunks of seafood but no discernible garlic or spicing of any kind. It's the kind of place you might take your mother or grandmother for a very traditional birthday or Mother's Day. Perfectly lovely environment with routine and unremarkable food.

              So, I would definitely stay at the Arizona Inn again. A big "yes" to the grounds, the pool and the ice cream bar. But, I'd skip the dining room and venture out a bit more in Tuscon.

              1. re: cortez

                Thanks for the report - glad your trip is going well.