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Tucson - Mexican restaurant?

Constancia Sep 18, 2009 10:37 AM

Our kids have just moved to Tucson, and they're still trying to find a GREAT Mexican restaurant. One that was recommended (can't remember the name) was notable for its carne seca, and it was probably one of the worst meals any of us has eaten. Meat was way too salty, and the other dinner choices were mediocre, at best. We lived in Mexico for a few years, so we're not unfamiliar with the cooking. The sort of Tex-Mex fare in Tucson is a favorite of ours. I hope to learn of some places recommended by Chowhound readers. Thank you!

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  1. mrbigshotno.1 RE: Constancia Sep 18, 2009 11:51 AM

    Sonoran is the prevalent type of Mexican fare in Tucson. You probably ate at "El Charro" way overrated, way over media saturated. I suggest you start at the southern end of S. 4th ave. at a great place calle "MIchas" and work your way north to 22nd st., over a dozen places on that strech of road. My personal favorites besides Michas is El Molinito on 22nd west side of Craycroft. Laruas, Broadway east of Campbell. Molina's Midway on Belvedere block south of Speedway. These places have been in business 30-40 years. There are tons of other places/holes in the wall/taco trucks etc. that may have a single item that blows all others away. The best Mexican food in Tucson is a very hotly debated topic as you will probably see after my post here. I'm surprised I was the first. Good luck and have fun.

    7 Replies
    1. re: mrbigshotno.1
      Constancia RE: mrbigshotno.1 Sep 20, 2009 04:54 PM

      Thank you SO much! Yes, it was El Charro - just not good at all. I will send the kids your restaurant list and tell them to check them all out, so that the next time we visit them, they'll be able to take us to a really good place!

      1. re: mrbigshotno.1
        francelle RE: mrbigshotno.1 Dec 30, 2009 07:14 PM

        I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head, however, my favorite is still El Minuto on Main. The service is fast, the waiters are charming but most of all, the food is delicious. I have never had a bad meal there. I happen to like menudo and they have the absolute best! Cafe Poca Cosa has delicious food but you shouldn't go there expecting Mexican food. I have never understood why El Charro is written up in magazines when their food, I think, is awful. The carne seca is good but that's it!

        1. re: francelle
          EWSflash RE: francelle Jun 28, 2010 07:30 PM

          You said it all. Especially El Charro. I think they made a deal with the devil (almost literally) when they went into partnership with Bob McMahon. You do that, you're dead to me. I'm told that the new east side Nimbus has the old menu, but I'm very skeptical since they made a deal with the same devil. The guy is a heartless greedy mercenary.

          1. re: EWSflash
            jellybeany RE: EWSflash Jul 10, 2011 05:36 PM

            El Charro is one of the oldest and best restaurants in Tucson, The Devil you refer to has one of the best Steak Houses I have ever experienced and if you travel anywhere in the world especially if you are serving our country you will experience from any AirForce service personel along with the most sofisticated and wonderful group of men and woman that support Tucson that Mr. McMahon is one of the most generous and gracious people you will ever have the honor to meet. You must own a restauant that can't compete.

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

            1. re: jellybeany
              EWSflash RE: jellybeany Jul 11, 2011 06:29 AM

              He treats our military people well? Good for him. Everybody should.

              1. re: jellybeany
                EWSflash RE: jellybeany Jul 11, 2011 08:18 PM

                Nope, no restauranteurs in my family or circle, just a bunch of shitty meals at his restaurants over the years.

                1. re: jellybeany
                  EWSflash RE: jellybeany Jul 11, 2011 08:23 PM

                  The original downtown El charro, i've never had a bad meal at, the others, I definitely have. I'm sorry that El Charro sold out to McMahon, aka MaMahon per your spelling.

          2. w
            wolive RE: Constancia Sep 22, 2009 01:30 PM

            Here are some of my favorites:

            Little Cafe Poca Cosa (open Mon-Fri for breakfast and lunch only)
            Tacqueria Pico de Gallo
            El Guero Canelo (great Sonoran-style hot dogs)
            Tucson Tamale Company (not a typical Mexican restaurant, but they have great tamales)
            Tacqueria Juanitos
            El Sur

            4 Replies
            1. re: wolive
              Claudette RE: wolive Sep 22, 2009 04:43 PM

              While at El Guero Canelo, don't miss the carne asada tacos.

              1. re: wolive
                hans RE: wolive Sep 28, 2009 01:53 PM

                This really is a "your mileage will vary" question but we love La Indita on 4th. Their menu shows its Michoacan Tarascan Indian heritage and I love the "green sauce."

                1. re: hans
                  mrbigshotno.1 RE: hans Sep 28, 2009 04:34 PM

                  That's a great place too hans!

                  1. re: hans
                    ibsulon RE: hans Jan 26, 2010 01:15 PM

                    Have they come back up? I heard they took a major dip for a while, and we've avoided it since.

                2. jillita RE: Constancia Nov 14, 2009 04:22 PM

                  Alas, I have eaten my way around town and nothing compares to the real Mexico. Sonoran-American-mess on a plate: no subtlety, no savory, too much of the carb, grease, cheese, not enough sauce, meat, or bean, and it sucks. I've been accused of being a snob, and I just don't care. I became a cook at home because I can't get out what I want. Exceptions are Cafe Cosa Poca, but it's pricey, and uneven, and it's also Mexican City Food, not Sonoran, and then there's my favorite taco truck that zips up from Acapulco but only on rare occasions, and El Guero Canelo for fat burros -- if you're in the mood. I've eaten at the vaunted El Molinito and I just can't understand why people continue to extol its praises. If you like dipping a stale, over-salted chip in red colored salted, smoke water, hey, who is to argue? Or dry, ancient, lukewarm flatulent-producing pintos hugging deflated crusty enchiladas, then it's the place for you.

                  El Sur USED to be fab, but somewhere down the line they started using the MSG, liberally, and the wonderfully caramelized, fragrant onions offered table-side, now smell and taste like something you might find on the floor of a monkey cage at the zoo.

                  My advice is, if you can't afford regular pilgrimages to Cafe Poca Cosa, is to get yourself some good Southwestern-Mexican cookbooks and spend time shopping for the fresh stuff at Food City and try cooking your favorites at home. You can buy fresh tortillas at places like La Mesa at Broadway and Pantano and go to Hatch Chile fest in New Mexico with a cooler and buy twenty pounds of roasted chiles for your freezer and have a ball making wonderful, authentic stuff at home, rather than relying on Tucson Mexican.

                  My opinion only.

                  Among others, I have eaten at:

                  El Minuto
                  El Charro (all locations)
                  Old Pueblo Grill
                  El Molinito
                  Mi Nidito
                  Los Betos
                  El Guerro Canelo
                  Cafe Poca Cosa
                  El Sur
                  Poco and Moms
                  Rosa's Mexican

                  Poco and Mom's is New Mexican cuisine. Also used to be grand, made to order, fresh, savory, wondrous food. Now, not since they expanded hours and I also believe the owners divorced, and they have resorted to the bloody MSG!

                  I get a tell-tale MSG headache, which is how I know.

                  I wish Tucson would try harder. Missed opportunities abound in becoming a foodie town.

                  But a P.S. Cilatro's Cafe on the Southeast side is Columbian, and I know it's not quite what you're looking for, but it's wonderful. Especially, the stews and soups and grilled chicken dishes.

                  Disclaimer: haven't tried some of the places mentioned here, like La Indita, but will with the hope that it challenges my snotty attitude.

                  Food City
                  2124 E Mcdowell Rd, Phoenix, AZ

                  El Guero Canelo
                  5201 S 12th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85706

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

                  435 E 400 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

                  La Indita
                  622 N 4th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705

                  El Sur Restaurant
                  5602 E 22nd St, Tucson, AZ 85711

                  El Minuto Cafe
                  354 S Main Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701

                  Mi Nidito Cafe
                  1813 S 4th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85713

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: jillita
                    Claudette RE: jillita Nov 15, 2009 01:18 PM

                    LOL!!! As my husband would say, "Why don't you tell us what you really think?" Thanks for the post!

                    1. re: jillita
                      sekelmaan RE: jillita Nov 24, 2009 04:24 AM

                      What a great post! Thank you so much. I am a DC hound heading to Tucson today. I was reading on the SFO board recently that if you want truly great mole fly to Tucson and go to Cafe Poca Cosa, so I plan on eating there tonight.

                      I really would love to find some great tacos or a pozoleria. Any ideas?

                      1. re: sekelmaan
                        Claudette RE: sekelmaan Nov 24, 2009 07:48 AM

                        Be sure to order the Plato at Poca Cosa so you get a sampling. Otherwise, it's a huge plate of just one mole. BTW: they have the best margaritas, IMHO.

                        Have fun in Tucson - you'll love the weather.

                        1. re: Claudette
                          sekelmaan RE: Claudette Nov 25, 2009 07:11 AM

                          We went last night. I was not very impressed with Cafe Poca Cosa. I had the chicken mole negro and thought it was quite bland. It had a good sweetness and a hint of spice, but it did not have the complexity of mole negro's I have had in the past with layers and layers of flavours from the dozens of seeds, nuts and spices that go in to that kind of mole. Also, I don't think dried out chicken breast is appropriate. Gimme a thight or a leg! Something with some bone in it. We thought the portions were way too large covered in not very Mexican mix of greens and a way too sour red wine vinagrette. I would say this restaurant is not very authentic, but elevated for trendy american palates.

                          When I got here and found out that 4th street is on the North side of town I was confused. It would seem to me that all the really good and authentic Mexican restaurants would be on the south side of town in the areas where the poplation is largely Mexican/Latino. That is where I am going to try to head today to find a restaurant where you have to order in Spanish. Ahhh yeah!

                          1. re: sekelmaan
                            Claudette RE: sekelmaan Nov 25, 2009 09:29 AM

                            Too bad you didn't enjoy it; that's why I suggested the Plato - at least one of the three would have been a home run for you. She has over a hundred recipes, it is said, and I can't remember having any mole repeated, but then we only dine there a couple times a year. Once we had a yellow almond mole over a fish, and it was divine.

                            1. re: sekelmaan
                              jillita RE: sekelmaan Dec 18, 2009 12:59 PM

                              Sorry Cafe Poca Cosa was not up to par. I have talked to friends and neighbors many of whom agree that the cafe has not been the same since they moved to the new digs. This is a deep shame. I had one of the most memorable meals of my life there, ordering the chef's plate. so complex, earthy, tangy, bitter, sweet, everything you could want, the raw and the cooked, the simmered, the seared. Was just a beautiful eating experience. So much care and love in every bite. I hope they can improve and restore it to the way it was.

                              1. re: jillita
                                jillita RE: jillita Mar 3, 2010 05:12 AM


                                1. re: jillita
                                  jillita RE: jillita Mar 3, 2010 05:20 AM


                                  I revisited Cafe Poca Cosa and had the worst experience yet (see link above).

                                  I will definitely try El Indio.

                                  Went to the Ft. Lowell El Guero Canelo and had a giant and most excellent mas mucho carne asada burro. Cheap, full salsa bar, family crowd, outstanding service, the perfect companion food to a big hike.

                                  Perfection green sauce, to be had there, by the way.

                                  Unfortunately, the Mexican Coke we can get at certain Tucson restaurants now uses high fructose corn syrup. I buy Blue Sky Cola at Sunflower. This cola is made with sugar and tastes like the Pepsi we remember growing up in the 70s. Nothing like the sugar and pepper bite in a real cola. I wish coke would introduce a sugar version again. Alas, it gets harder and harder to find food without the poisonous HFCS.

                                2. re: sekelmaan
                                  ibsulon RE: sekelmaan Jan 26, 2010 01:21 PM

                                  4th breaks at downtown. You want the 4th that is south of 22nd. (I believe Pico de Gallo is on 6th and 29th, but I dare say it's the best Mexican restaurant in town.)

                                  4th north of broadway is more of an arts district. Maya Quetzal is okay Guatamalan food, but I'd honestly head over to Main Gate for chow most days. (No Mexican really, but Vila Thai is good, as is an Afghani restaurant hidden in there. It used to be much better before they moved, though.)

                                  1. re: ibsulon
                                    tucdan RE: ibsulon Jul 30, 2010 02:57 PM

                                    The majority of STREETS in Tucson go east and west. The majority of AVENUES in Tucson go north and south. Stone Avenue divides east and west, Broadway divides north and south. There are numbered STREETS and AVENUES. You want SOUTH 4th Avenue for the majority of the really good and old Mexican restaurants. For the most part these are along 4th avenue from 22nd Street to the Freeway (I-10) -- (by really good I mean Sonoran mexican food, not Tex-Mex).

                                    Maya Questzal on North 4th Ave is a Guatemalan restaurant (The Quetzal is a beautiful bird and the monetary unit of Guatemala.

                                    North 4th Ave, north of the underpass to University Blve (1st St.) is a fun shopping, dining and dining experience in Tucson, especially on the weekends.

                                    There are many fine Sonoran mexican food restaurants in Tucson.

                                    Much like the expression that one man's trash is another's gold, so is mexican food. Having lived here for about 50 years, I find that people who grew up in Arizona really enjoy the local restaurants and will lead you to the old reliable & usually family-run restaurants. Others will lead you to the first or second place they ever tried in town -- that could be the chain restaurant "On the border." Some may like "La Parilla Suiza", a chain out of Mexico City with locations in Mexico City and Guadalajara as well as Tucson. They serve consistently good, Mexico City style food but I think they are pricey.

                                    If you like Tex-Mex you may not find it in Tucson, but remember, Mexican food, just like Italian food, is regional. I don't remember eating soft tacos in the 50s and 60s, but they are everywhere today. Fish tacos were not common. Sometimes tacos were "caseros" with a patty of meat or some other meat or chile, peas, potatoes, lettuce or cabbage and white queso cotija -- usually not yellow cheese.

                                    There are times that you may think you are ordering something that you are familiar with and you may receive something different. Chalupas are prepared at Taco Bell, tostadas (essentially a chalupa) are served in most Tucson mexican restaurants.

                                    Soooo, when you eat in almost any of the great Mexican restaurants in Tucson,, expect them to vary much like the difference between your mother's sloppy joes are not the same as your friend's mother's sloppy joes. But they are both probably good.

                                    A rose, is a rose, is a rose, but in Tucson a Chalupa may be a Tostada. Try it, you'll like it.

                                    1. re: tucdan
                                      francelle RE: tucdan May 24, 2011 03:00 PM

                                      OMG! I remember the caseros, although I didn't know they had a name other than taco! The lettuce filling had to have peas and/or sliced radishes. I still make them like that and friends call them "real tacos". And they had to have the white Mexican cheese!

                                      1. re: francelle
                                        mrbigshotno.1 RE: francelle Jan 1, 2012 09:42 AM

                                        That's the way they used to make them at the old "La Suprema" on 22nd & 4th, 40 some odd years ago.

                                        1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                          nohurry RE: mrbigshotno.1 Jan 1, 2012 04:13 PM

                                          Hey, mrbigshotno.1---you remember that place...? They had a restaurant [of sorts] next door in the same building...on the corner way back then- CAZADORES.
                                          I have several of their sombrero-shaped ceramic ashtrays...assorted colors... in my permanent collection...!

                                          1. re: nohurry
                                            mrbigshotno.1 RE: nohurry Jan 2, 2012 09:56 AM

                                            Yep, my mom would only buy tortillas from there and I had chili con queso at Cazadores for the first time back like around 1970 or so, the real thing, not this cheese sauce jive they pass out now in most places. Days gone by..........

                                            1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                              francelle RE: mrbigshotno.1 Jan 2, 2012 06:29 PM

                                              What exactly do you call "chile con queso"? The first time I saw that on a menu, it turned out to be caldo de queso and I have loved it ever since. That was at the old, old El Charro downtown when Monica Flynn was alive. I'm enjoying your conversation with nohurry

                                      2. re: tucdan
                                        EWSflash RE: tucdan Dec 31, 2011 08:03 PM

                                        Thank you for pointing that out, it may totally change a visitor's vision!

                                    2. re: sekelmaan
                                      EWSflash RE: sekelmaan Aug 11, 2012 07:18 AM

                                      This is an old thread, but to clarfy, fourth STREET runs east-west and is indeed on the north side of town- and residential the whole way. 4th AVENUE runs north-south and the good stuff is indeed south of 22nd street-which also runs east-west.

                              2. jillita RE: Constancia Nov 14, 2009 04:27 PM

                                Forgot I also ate at Michas and was similarly disappointed. I think it really boils down to whether you like Sonoran or not. I really don't. Having lived in New Mexico I suppose did spoil me. Also, having real Mexico Mexican did as well.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jillita
                                  EWSflash RE: jillita Jun 28, 2010 07:37 PM

                                  I ate at Micha's once- food wasn't too bad but it bothers me when I go to a resto on the south side of Tucson and the only Mexicans in the place are working there, none of the customers are Hispanic, it bothers me. It's turista food. We've eaten at Rigo's, and it was always really good. I don't remember if it was on south 4th or south 6th, but it's worth seeking out.

                                2. e
                                  estone888 RE: Constancia Dec 18, 2009 02:20 PM

                                  The last two times I've been in Tucson, I've eaten at El Indio Mexican Restaurant, 3355 South 6th Avenue, Tucson, AZ just south of interstate 10 on the east side of the street. I'm a Los Angeles hound who has eaten Mexican food all over the Southwest and in Mexico, (not to mention a lot of the world - if you're in Jakarta or Hong Kong, don't bother). The first time at El Indio I had the chili verde with pork, which I thought was excellent. The second time the chili colorado with beef, which was also excellent. The flour tortillas were housemade and very fresh, the salsa and chips were good. The place is cheap. I haven't found much good Mexican food in Tucson - I do not like Cafe Poca Cosa, that seems to be a favorite with a lot of people, and I am not much of a fan of the ubiquitous Sonoran hot dog - but I will happily return to El Indio whenever I am in town.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: estone888
                                    sekelmaan RE: estone888 Dec 21, 2009 01:58 PM

                                    Somewhere down there where the two freeways meet near a high school is a place called Taco Apson. I think it is a great taqueria and have gone there everytime I have been in Tucson. Great little hole in a wall taqueria.


                                    1. re: sekelmaan
                                      EWSflash RE: sekelmaan Aug 14, 2012 07:49 PM

                                      I MUST go there

                                  2. v
                                    versailles RE: Constancia Dec 30, 2009 12:09 PM

                                    I have a few favorites: Guillermo's (also known as L& L or Double L) on Silverlake and 4th Ave. I started going there in 1971, just after I moved to Tucson. For authentic Mexican food (with few Gringos present), go to El Indio on S 6th Avenue, just south of the I-10 overpass. Another good one is the Crossroads, also on south 4th Avenue.
                                    The Guadalajara Grill on Prince and Mountain is pretty good. Salsa is made at your table, and you're expected to tip the server who creates it to your specifications. It's a bit fancier than the other places.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: versailles
                                      bswolfe RE: versailles Jan 13, 2010 11:22 AM

                                      I second the suggestion for Guillermo's (L&L as I call it). My favorite Mexican in Tucson and really good green tamales (if they are in season).

                                    2. redroses RE: Constancia Dec 30, 2009 08:10 PM

                                      just went to pico de gallo twice this week,. really tasty tacos. tried the barbacoa, birria, cabeza, chicken, shrimp, and carne asada. i didnt think there was a big taste difference between the three first taco types (birria, cabeza, and barbacoa) but they were still tasty. love the veggies carrots and onions that come with the plate, so colourful and tasty. also had a cheese quesadilla. the tortilla was delicious. i asked what kind of cheese and he said monterrey jack which kind of dulled my enthusiasm.
                                      any thought?

                                      Tacqueria Pico de Gallo
                                      Tucson, AZ, Tucson, AZ

                                      1. i
                                        Inspector RE: Constancia Jan 23, 2010 08:50 PM

                                        Well, there is only one truly GREAT Mexican restaurant in Tucson.....Rosa's. Simply NONE better. And I say this as a native and life-long resident of New Mexico which is the epitome for chile-related food.
                                        Rosa's-- E Ft. Lowell Rd at N Campbell Ave (SW corner)

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Inspector
                                          EWSflash RE: Inspector Jan 6, 2011 04:05 PM

                                          I went to rosa's- there was so much cheese all over everything it was actually disgusting, and I've only said that two or three times in my entire life. There was not much taste other than cheese. There was a lot of grease, too.

                                          1. re: EWSflash
                                            Claudette RE: EWSflash Jan 6, 2011 06:20 PM

                                            I totally agree, EWSflash, yet Rosa's was the alltime favorite restaurant of my local Tucson friends - they proudly took me there the first time I visted them in Tucson, and it was their regular haunt for years! And they've been to many 4-star restaurants in San Francisco with us, so I know that they know good food, but it's still a mystery to me.

                                          2. re: Inspector
                                            personalcheffie RE: Inspector Jun 7, 2011 01:14 PM

                                            I like Rosa's.

                                          3. i
                                            italianscallion RE: Constancia Feb 11, 2010 09:45 AM

                                            My favorite all-around Mexican restaurant in Tucson is El Merendero on 12th, just south of Nebraska. Standout Items include: chile colorado, toritos, shrimp chicharrones, chicken/chipotle quesadillas, shrimp quesadillas, chicken enchiladas with the chipotle cream sauce, ceviche, soups. Nice family atmosphere, clean as heck, and a very friendly staff. Always feel good coming out.

                                            Other places for certain items.

                                            Guero Canelo- sonoran dogs, carne asada
                                            Taqueria Juanitos- carnitas and al pastor are superb. carne asada is fine. don't get chicken or beans ever.

                                            1. s
                                              Saguaro RE: Constancia Feb 15, 2010 03:08 PM

                                              Buy them a cookbook. Eating out in Tucson is a waste of time. Poca Cosa is the only place in town worth talking about. El Charro would rate as a medium quality restaurant in a real city. The Sonoran hot dogs are the height of gastronomy in So AZ.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Saguaro
                                                mrbigshotno.1 RE: Saguaro Feb 15, 2010 04:41 PM

                                                I don't think you are a real saguaro, maybe just one of those little cacti people buy at the airport and take back east. No?

                                                1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                                  EWSflash RE: mrbigshotno.1 Mar 24, 2010 02:17 PM


                                                2. re: Saguaro
                                                  Kevin8989 RE: Saguaro Mar 10, 2010 06:46 AM

                                                  One would think that Tucson would be a mecca for Mexican dining but it is a minefield of hit-or-miss and inconsistency. Throw a rock out your front door and you'll probably hit a taco shop or burrito wagon hawking Sonoran hot dogs. I shudder to think of the cleanliness of some of these places. Saguaro hits it right on the head: dining out in this backward town is largely a waste of time unless you like high priced steakhouses or dining at the resorts. Poca Cosa is good and makes great drinks and there are a handful of others decent places, but if you live here long enough you'll run out of good places to go before too long. For much less money I can grill at home, mix up my own drinks and not run the risk of a DUI or getting hit by an uninsured Mexican driver on a Saturday night.

                                                  1. re: Kevin8989
                                                    dr_girlfriend RE: Kevin8989 Mar 11, 2010 11:32 PM

                                                    I agree with you for the most part but there are some really good random hole in the wall places that are worth going to. The one that immediately comes to mind is Pho Thu, off Stone. Its consistently good, cheap Vietnamese place; its one of maybe three restaurants I still go to.

                                                3. d
                                                  dolly52 RE: Constancia Feb 20, 2010 04:19 PM

                                                  El Mezon del Cobre and Teresa's Mosaic are nice

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: dolly52
                                                    EWSflash RE: dolly52 Mar 24, 2010 02:18 PM

                                                    I've had great meals at both.

                                                    1. re: dolly52
                                                      vbutterfly72 RE: dolly52 Dec 10, 2012 02:24 PM

                                                      I agree with you

                                                    2. h
                                                      hoops9924 RE: Constancia May 23, 2011 04:08 PM

                                                      Any votes for Elvira's in Tubac. Probably the best chile relleno I've ever had!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: hoops9924
                                                        francelle RE: hoops9924 May 24, 2011 02:49 PM

                                                        I haven't eaten there but I do remember eating at Elvira's one time when they were located in Nogales, Sonora. They used to serve every customer a complimentary shot of tequila and they brought one to my then 13 year old daughter! I don't even remember what we ate but it was a very popular place back then, especially for tourists.

                                                        Elvira's Restaurant
                                                        2221 E Frontage Rd, Tubac, AZ 85646

                                                        1. re: hoops9924
                                                          bitchincook RE: hoops9924 Sep 16, 2011 06:45 PM

                                                          I was there in July, and the food was good but it was very pricey, and that was at lunch. I had one of the moles (they offer five different varieties) and it was $16, the cheapest thing on the menu. Most other entrees were above $20. For lunch! It's no wonder why they don't post menu prices on their website.

                                                        2. EWSflash RE: Constancia May 30, 2011 10:23 AM

                                                          Is it the same Elvira's?

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: EWSflash
                                                            francelle RE: EWSflash May 30, 2011 03:02 PM

                                                            I remember reading about them moving to this side of the border but I don't know if they have changed owners since that time.

                                                          2. a
                                                            azsparky RE: Constancia Jul 4, 2011 04:08 PM

                                                            Anyone, anyone......there used to be a mexican restaurant on N. Oracle called El Sauguarito, but they moved to somewhere near the university. Not sure if they exist any longer. Their slogan was "Ola Canola", they used canola oil for their frying. They were also selling at a little stand at TEP during Diamondback spring training games..........delicious food. Anyone know if it still exists and where it is? I'd love to visit it when I come into town.

                                                            UPDATE: Found it....it's moved a few times. Love their food, Highly recommend it (if it hasn't changed, and it still has the same owners, the Vasquez family).....it's in the Safeway Plaza on Prince/Campbell

                                                            1. t
                                                              tucdan RE: Constancia Jul 10, 2011 08:37 PM

                                                              "El Charro" is way overrated. It joined a conglomerate and expanded, but the food is no longer the same. Strongly recommend restaurants such as "Rigo's across from the dog track at 36th St. and 4th ave. Diagonally across from Rigo's is "Crossroads," also a long time favorite. Farther up 6th ave, across from the extremely overated "Mi nidito" is "Guillermo's LL" restautant. On the northr side of town is the "Guadalajara Grill". It is very good and very popular.

                                                              The yuppie favorite, "Mi nidito,"with their traditional tacos dorados, .popular with those who read the papers but wouldn't know mexicn food if they were choking on it, is much better than "El charro" . Other oldy but goody favorites "El torero" (near 22nd St and S. 6th Ave)and "Lujan's" at Broadway and Campball. If you want tamales, don't be bamboozled into going to the gringo favorite tamale store just east of Tucson Blvd. when you can get the REAL THING at "Lujan's", across from Safeway on Broadway, just east of Campball Ave.

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: tucdan
                                                                mrbigshotno.1 RE: tucdan Jul 11, 2011 05:42 AM

                                                                tucdan, (not being critical) it's Leruas, not Lujans. They are one of the best places in town and they also own El Torero, I've eaten at Leruas since the mid '60's and never had a bad meal. The yuppies and publications like "Tucson Weekly" put their mark on places and they are usually wrong. Another fantastic gem is Molinas Midway on Belverdere just a block north of Speedway, been there for 50 years. I also love Rigo's and the Crossroads, pretty much agree with you on everything.

                                                                El Torero Restaurant
                                                                231 E 26th St, Tucson, AZ 85713

                                                                1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                                                  tucdan RE: mrbigshotno.1 Jul 11, 2011 12:31 PM

                                                                  Thanks for correcting my mistake. I don't know how I made that error.

                                                                  1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                                                    francelle RE: mrbigshotno.1 Jul 11, 2011 06:31 PM

                                                                    I totally agree with you and tucdan on all counts.

                                                                    1. re: francelle
                                                                      EWSflash RE: francelle Jan 2, 2012 08:48 AM

                                                                      I only ate at Lerua's once, not sure if my taste buds were turned up to combat level or what, it was one of the best meals I ever ate. I need to return, and soon. It may be that it's far enough from home that if i'm foing that distance I might as well continue to South Tucson? Dunno, but it really stands out as one of the best Sonoran meals I ever had.

                                                                      1. re: EWSflash
                                                                        mrbigshotno.1 RE: EWSflash Jan 2, 2012 05:01 PM

                                                                        Go into Learu'a about 11am (go hungry) have a ground beef chimi and a sonoran flat enchidada, ask for a side bowl of their warm taco sauce. To put on the chimi . Can't beat it!

                                                                        1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                                                          EWSflash RE: mrbigshotno.1 Jan 12, 2012 05:42 PM

                                                                          I bet- I need to go there again, and soon. At 1100 hours. Saturday, i think.

                                                                2. j
                                                                  jellybeany RE: Constancia Jul 11, 2011 12:04 PM

                                                                  One of my favorites is Miquels on 4th Ave, inexpensive the owner / cook is a chef at PCC and everything there is exceptional, he also makes vegetarian dishes if you prefer.

                                                                  1. n
                                                                    nohurry RE: Constancia Dec 31, 2011 02:42 PM

                                                                    The portions at LITTLE MEXICO on Nebraska (west of South 12th Avenue) were large, the prices fair, the flavors acceptable...but, I was in the mood for a bowl of MENUDO, and their version
                                                                    missed the boat. Actually, the prepared-foods department at FOOD CITY super market on South 6th
                                                                    Avenue serves quite a decent menudo...you'd be surprised!

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: nohurry
                                                                      EWSflash RE: nohurry Dec 31, 2011 08:37 PM

                                                                      I wouldn't be surprised at all- what a great Mexicn grocery store that is. I go there when I can and love every minute of my trip there.

                                                                      1. re: EWSflash
                                                                        EWSflash RE: EWSflash Aug 11, 2012 01:07 PM

                                                                        but I love the menudo at Little Mexico, too. I like the restaurant a lot.

                                                                      2. re: nohurry
                                                                        francelle RE: nohurry Dec 31, 2011 09:23 PM

                                                                        For really good menudo, try El Minuto downtown. It's very fresh, made daily, and delicious!

                                                                        1. re: nohurry
                                                                          francelle RE: nohurry Dec 31, 2011 09:26 PM

                                                                          This picture totally makes me want a bowl of menudo - NOW! I'm too lazy to go get some though.

                                                                        2. n
                                                                          nohurry RE: Constancia Feb 5, 2012 12:53 PM

                                                                          El Guero Canelo seems to specialise in the ubiquitous Sonoran Hot Dog [I haven't tried it yet], but
                                                                          my favorite menu-item there is the Burrito-Junior...! You fill it up with toppings from the condiments table and you're good to go...$4...!

                                                                          'Way back in the day...we're going back to the early '70s... the CROSS ROADS was a funky neighborhood drive-in with carside service. Because it was in South Tucson (as opposed to regular Tucson)...they were permitted to serve PITCHERS OF BEER along with your meal to
                                                                          a window-mounted car tray...! CAN YOU IMAGINE...? That's long-gone of course, and they've gone a little more upscale over the years, but the food is still good and the portions are ample.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: nohurry
                                                                            mrbigshotno.1 RE: nohurry Feb 5, 2012 02:25 PM

                                                                            And they would ask "Are you 21 mihijo"? and I would say "Of course I am", One ice cold pitcher of Coors coming up! While KHOS or KTKT was blaring on my truck radio.

                                                                          2. n
                                                                            nohurry RE: Constancia Feb 6, 2012 04:59 AM

                                                                            Have any of you been to the ANITA STREET MARKET...? Another place that's been there for decades, but seemingly only dedicated Tucsonans even know about it...! They've had great tortillas and tamales (to take out) for years, but have recently expanded their prepared-foods menu. It's a family run one-room place in an out-of-the-way antique neighborhood...but it's worthwhile to try and find it. Their homemade RED SALSA (in plastic containers in the fridge) is the best in town...and dood, that's no lie! This is No Hurry talking...I know about these things...!

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: nohurry
                                                                              EWSflash RE: nohurry Feb 6, 2012 07:20 PM

                                                                              DH has, and bro-in-law while on a site visit for Sundt. They like it a lot, and we've had a few dishes that managed to make it way back to the east side AKAmidtown aka our house. Haven't had anythng that wasn't realy good.

                                                                              1. re: nohurry
                                                                                vbutterfly72 RE: nohurry Dec 10, 2012 02:21 PM

                                                                                their red chile beef is awesome!

                                                                              2. n
                                                                                nohurry RE: Constancia Feb 18, 2012 03:44 PM

                                                                                Here's one Even EWSflash, mrbigshotno.1, and francelle don't even know about:

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: nohurry
                                                                                  francelle RE: nohurry Feb 18, 2012 04:28 PM

                                                                                  El Rapido used to be located downtown on Washington Street. There was no seating, strictly take-out, and they specialized in tamales which were delicious. If there is another one, I'm not aware of it and I know the family who owned this El Rapido.

                                                                                  1. re: nohurry
                                                                                    EWSflash RE: nohurry Nov 3, 2012 02:18 PM

                                                                                    You're right- I'd never heard of it.

                                                                                  2. n
                                                                                    nohurry RE: Constancia Feb 23, 2012 05:17 AM

                                                                                    Nobody has yet mentioned SAINT MARY'S MEXICAN food [west of the Freeway]. It's another longtime local, family owned place...it's a near-to-downtown-but-not-really working class lunch stop...most definitely not on the regular tourist trail because it's mainly just a takeaway.

                                                                                    I don't collect T-shirts but if I did, theirs is a cute one.

                                                                                    For years it used to be NoHurry's favorite...there are other choices now, but it's still spot-on for
                                                                                    that "Carne Seca" burro [a specialty of Tucson and southern Arizona] to take out; or a bag of
                                                                                    a dozen tamales double-wrapped for out-of-town travel.

                                                                                    I don't have a photo of it, but it's been painted some bright color [purple?], so...easy to spot.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: nohurry
                                                                                      mrbigshotno.1 RE: nohurry Feb 24, 2012 01:53 PM

                                                                                      Best flour tortillas in town! If you threw them big ol' things in the air like a frisbee, they'ed scramble the jets from DM thinking it was a UFO!

                                                                                      1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                                                                        nohurry RE: mrbigshotno.1 Feb 24, 2012 02:18 PM

                                                                                        no, mrbigshorno.1...I'm talking about the little BABY-siz'd ones...

                                                                                    2. n
                                                                                      nohurry RE: Constancia Aug 4, 2012 04:09 PM

                                                                                      Gee...I wish THIS place was still open...

                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: nohurry
                                                                                        EWSflash RE: nohurry Aug 11, 2012 07:08 AM

                                                                                        Awesome, nohurry, thanks for the two updates and stroll down memory lane,where was La Mexicana?

                                                                                        1. re: nohurry
                                                                                          francelle RE: nohurry Aug 11, 2012 08:13 AM

                                                                                          Now that is one I don't recognize. Where was this? This past week was my birthday and we went for Mexican food twice - first to Paco and Mom's because I had heard such good things about it but I wasn't really impressed with their food. They do use fresh Hatch chiles a lot which was good but their beans they claimed to be "homemade" tasted like canned to me and the rice was very tomato-ey. We also went to Taco Giro on E. 22nd and this was much better. I had a shrimp ceviche tostado because it was like the shrimp cocktails they serve in Rocky Point and it was very good. Forget about the tostado shell and just eat the shrimp concoction! I also had a chile, relleno, chicken enchilada with rice and beans. (I had ordered just a chile relleno but they brought me the combination plate which I DID NOT finish!) Every thing was quite good. I will go back again, especially since they do have a take-out window!

                                                                                          1. re: francelle
                                                                                            EWSflash RE: francelle Aug 11, 2012 01:19 PM

                                                                                            I agree re P&M's, just not as impressed with it as my husband and son. I have to try taco Giro soon, it sounds good
                                                                                            For a Sonoran seafood meal, try Mariscos Chihuahua, they have several locations. Their coctel de camaron is Mexican-style and wonderful, and the shrimp culichi is one of the best things i've ever eaten.
                                                                                            BTW, Mariscos is a very casual, cash-only place.

                                                                                            1. re: EWSflash
                                                                                              mrbigshotno.1 RE: EWSflash Aug 11, 2012 04:58 PM

                                                                                              Taco Giro is really good just don't get there when they first open, they never seem to be set up and ready, hit it for a late lunch or early supper as they are ususlly packed during lunch/dinner hours.

                                                                                              1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                                                                                EWSflash RE: mrbigshotno.1 Aug 11, 2012 09:48 PM

                                                                                                Thanks for the heads up. I feel dumb that theres so much good grub a mileand a half south of me that I haven't tried yet. Do you remember the Bar22 on Wilmot just north of 22nd?

                                                                                                1. re: EWSflash
                                                                                                  mrbigshotno.1 RE: EWSflash Aug 12, 2012 11:10 AM

                                                                                                  Don't recall that one.

                                                                                        2. n
                                                                                          nohurry RE: Constancia Sep 30, 2012 06:27 PM

                                                                                          This is the season to get those in-house fresh-roasted green chilies at the FOOD CITY
                                                                                          supermarket...I think they're sold in 'ziplock' bags in each of the locations (especially on weekends),
                                                                                          but the South 6th Avenue store puts the roaster outside near the front door so you can see and
                                                                                          smell the freshness before you even walk into the place...! And you can't beat that...

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: nohurry
                                                                                            mrbigshotno.1 RE: nohurry Oct 1, 2012 09:29 AM

                                                                                            I can buy a bag of those still warm, and a pack of fresh flour tortillas, pull off the stem, knock as many seeds out as I can, wrap 'em up and start chowing!

                                                                                            1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                                                                              nohurry RE: mrbigshotno.1 Nov 5, 2012 05:15 AM

                                                                                              Yes, mrbigshotno.1...I can see [that] you know how to LIVE...

                                                                                              1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                                                                                francelle RE: mrbigshotno.1 Dec 10, 2012 04:00 PM

                                                                                                Anyone know a good place to get tamales for
                                                                                                Christmas - green and red? That's what I miss about working - there were always employees with families who made these and sold them but now I don't have that opportunity! Appreciate any suggestions!

                                                                                                1. re: francelle
                                                                                                  mrbigshotno.1 RE: francelle Dec 10, 2012 07:32 PM

                                                                                                  Shopping center parking lots.

                                                                                            2. vbutterfly72 RE: Constancia Dec 10, 2012 02:18 PM

                                                                                              Ive eaten at all the mexican restaurants in Tucson and lived here since I was 12. I am now 40 and the best place is a whole in the wall called Taqueria Juanitos
                                                                                              708 West Grant Road near Oracle. No need to dress up. Best tacos are at BK's or at guerro canelos. Sane goes for the hot dogs, but they are good from any truck you find.

                                                                                              1. n
                                                                                                nohurry RE: Constancia May 17, 2013 07:38 AM

                                                                                                Hey, mrbigshotno1...do you remember when LERUA'S was located near the University of Arizona's Main Gate...their original (mainly takeaway) restaurant...? Those were the days...!!

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: nohurry
                                                                                                  mrbigshotno.1 RE: nohurry May 17, 2013 05:29 PM

                                                                                                  Something tells me they did that but it closed, I'm not for sure. I was in town last month (for about a month) and ate at Lerua's( that's the original Bdwy near Campbell) about 3 times, still the best chimi in town & GC tamales. Great memories, ate lunch there with Mi Compadres when we went to THS 45 some years ago. I miss those days something fierce.

                                                                                                  1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                                                                                    nohurry RE: mrbigshotno.1 Feb 2, 2014 07:13 AM

                                                                                                    Me too, Mrbigshotno1...

                                                                                                2. n
                                                                                                  nohurry RE: Constancia May 19, 2013 09:44 AM

                                                                                                  Does anybody like Perfecto's on South 12th Avenue...?

                                                                                                  It's another family owned place...limited menu but the home made chips and spicy salsa were good.

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