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Starving artist...PHX/TUCSON

I'm heading out to Phoenix for a weekend, then Tucson for a week and a half from my redoubt in San Diego. Looking for advice from the Zonies I've steered in the right direction over the years- payback time. I work for the opera and am looking for places to eat that fit into a few tricky categories, but I do plan using your great "10 Best of Phoenix" chowlist list- any particular MUSTS for me on that one? Here're the rules:

The deal is that the company puts me up in hotels and I am usually pretty exhausted after work, but enjoy a stiff drink/good brew and a little something to eat when we're done. Late night (at least open 'till midnight) places near downtown Phoenix that serve decent food and drink (I have discovered that "historical plaza" toward the east that has a Pizzeria Bianco and a nice pub, but am hoping to find something that combines both food goals and is still serving), would be great. I have a car, though, so I can expand the radius a bit.

Breakfast places in both Phoenix and Tucson that need not serve huge plates of food- I kill for a simple but great breakfast sandwich and a nice cup of coffee (I digg Matt's Big Breakfast, but am usually too pressed for time to mess around with a waiting crowd in the morning.)- a surprisingly hard thing to find in a given town.

I'll be in Tucson for the majority of my AZ time, downtown, and have done Cafe Poca Cosa (nice flavors, overkill on the "experience"), and love carne seca tacos at Mi Nidito (not to mention their textbook albondigas), but am in need of handy breakfast/lunch/dinner suggestions that are good, reasonably priced and doable with a party of one (of which I am a courageous proponent- I barrel right into a dining room and sit alone at a table happily if the food is worth it).

I know this is pretty sweeping, but hell- I'll take anything...Just going to be enjoying the scenery on the many days off, and would love some food discoveries to go down while I'm out there...

Cheers.

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Matt's Big Breakfast
801 N 1st Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004

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

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

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  1. Open late in and near DT Phoenix:

    Hanny's -- old menswear store updated to be a restaurant and bar. Nice pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and drinks. Open late every night.

    PastaBAR -- handcrafted pastas; specials deals after 10 PM some nights.

    the Roosevelt -- pub food done right with a selection of craft beers and wines by the glass

    Sens -- Asian tapas and interesting drinks

    Nine 05 -- pan-Asian with a really nice patio

    Some of these places are open late (past 10 PM) every night; others focus more on the weekends. Call ahead or check their Web sites for hours.

    For breakfast, let me suggest Azteca Mexican Bakery. I don't know about the coffee there, but it's a great place to get eggs, chorizo, etc.

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    Roosevelt
    816 N 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

    Azteca Bakery Tortilla Shop
    416 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85007

    Hanny's
    40 N First St, Phoenix, AZ

    Azteca Mexican Restaurant
    78336 US Highway 40, Winter Park, CO 80482

    1. Trying to add more place links with only mixed results.

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      Roosevelt
      816 N 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

      Azteca Bakery Tortilla Shop
      416 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85007

      Sens
      705 N 1st Street 120, Phoenix, AZ 85004

      Hanny's
      40 N First St, Phoenix, AZ

      3 Replies
      1. re: silverbear

        Great! Thanks for these recs. I've been to the Roosevelt and am glad that it's there- otherwise downtown would be pretty lonely at night. Glad to know that Hanny's is now open- my father (who grew up in Phoenix) remembered when the menswear store in that location had the first escalator in AZ and how the family took a trip there just to ride on it...

        Cheers!

        1. re: SaltyRaisins

          One who can recount old Hanny's stories deserves to be appointed an honorary Zonie. Consider yourself one of us now!

          1. re: AllPhoenix

            Thanks for the honorary status...hope I can contribute something here at some point.

            Here's a bit more of my bio to up my Zonie cred: Downtown Phoenix is in my blood- it was the site of our family's store (a mega-pawnshop formerly known as The Fairway) for 50 years- now a gay bar. There are lots of stories recounting the days when cowboys would come in on a Friday evening, pawn their belt-buckles for quick cash to take to the bars, and return the next week after payday to buy them back. These guys were regulars.

            The Matador was the site of my first greasy taco dorado, back in the 1970's. They don't taste the same anymore. Glad so see the neighborhood reinventing itself a bit, though.

            Cheers.

      2. Tucson breakfasts near downtown: Cup Cafe (in Hotel Congress); Little Poca Cosa; B-line Cafe

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        Little Poca Cosa
        Stone and Alameda, Tucson, AZ

        B-Line
        621 N 4th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705

        Maynard's Market
        400 N Toole Ave, Tucson, AZ

        3 Replies
        1. re: Claudette

          Thanks Claudette! Any Sonoran or general Mexican places you love?

          A non-food question: is the 10 still cut-off from downtown?

          Cheers.

          1. re: SaltyRaisins

            Sorry, SaltyRaisins - I don't live in Tucson, I just go every couple of months to play golf and eat. However, someone told me that the work along 10 is finished, and all exits are available now. (Can a local please confirm?)

            There are good old threads about Mexican in Tucson; the most recent:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/653270
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/643945
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/319975

            Have fun!

            1. re: Claudette

              Just back from El Guero Canelo- great place. Had carne asada tacos with an order of beans and well, the thing that struck me the most was the very nice flavor of the beef (didn't sense the MSG that is typical of the same filling in San Diego) and the simplicity of pintos- seemed like nothing but beans, water and a little salt. Not a hint of tocino et al, and I love that. Lots of clean taste and not a gut bomb. (went to the Oracle location, contrary to the restaurant locator on this website)

              Also had a great meal at the Cup Cafe- really nice to see that area have so many good choices- I no longer am limited to grill on congress and the tatoo'ed masses (not that there's anything wrong with them, just those kids are barely running that place).

              Thanks for the links. Cheers!

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

        2. For sonoran style mexican food we like El Torero on 26th St 1/2 block off South 4th Ave Fairly close to downtown. We get the 2x2 which is 2 tacos (pan fried with the beef patty style) and 2 cheese enchiladas (we get one flat and one rolled style) at dinner its $6.95 cheaper at lunch-pretty hard to beat

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

          1. There's a lot of good things to eat in Tucson. Here's a mini rundown of my visit:

            El Guero Canelo is very good for reasons I mentioned above.
            Little Poca Cosa is like eating at somebody's home- and the owner's hugs are a nice thing for a traveler to receive. Again, the simple and lighter take on Mexican is always welcome.
            I even drove out to Sells to see the country a bit and eat at Desert Rain cafe- good food with some distinctive flavors: ribs with prickly-pear glaze and excellent tepary beans. Quite healthy and good to know that there is something culinarily interesting going on out there.
            Ginza restaurant on Kolb: recommended by a local friend, and glad to know that there is izakaya-style Japanese food out here. Pretty good, although I found their menu a bit too broad for a single kitchen, and you can taste that.
            Great scene and food at The Cup Cafe.
            And my vote for winner: a pizza from Maynard's Market on the old station platform- great crust (crispy/chewy) and delicious toppings. And fun to eat while the super intermodal trains trundle by. Great addition to downtown.

            Cheers!

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

            Little Poca Cosa
            Stone and Alameda, Tucson, AZ