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Nov 9, 2000 06:16 PM

3 nights in Tucson - where should we eat?

  • c

I have read quite a few of the recommendations posted here for Tucson (and have made notes) and now would like to know which places anyone would consider a no-miss for our short trip. Cafe Terra Cotta? Jolie for breakfast? St. Mary's? Taqueria Pico de Gallo? Lerua's? Yoeme (is it closed?)? Has anyone been to John Jacob's El Parador (I read about it on a website)? El Torero? El Minuto? Jano's? Los Betos? Firecracker Grill? Price range doesn't matter but we are not looking for a Charles or Tack Room type of food. One "nice" place & the rest casual & moderate $ would be ideal. Mexican would be great along w/other Southwestern (not particularly Sonoran, though). TIA, Cara (who used to live in Tucson & never got to any great places to eat).

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  1. For a "special" place, try Janos or Hacienda del Sol. For more casual you might try Vivace, Cafe Poca Cosa(regional food from all over Mexico). The Sunday brunch at Ventana Canyon is elegant, but not regional in flavor palette). Many of the Mexican restaurants here serve breakfast buffets, but I don't know of a specific one to recommend. Oh, yes, Presidio Grill also does a very nice job of bistro style cooking with definite Southwest flair and they are moderately priced. Have a wonderful time!

    14 Replies
    1. re: roberta

      definitely try cafe poca cosa. it's delightful.

      1. re: patricia

        Thanks for your suggestions - much appreciated!

        1. re: cara
          michael board

          jeez, well, yer choices are a bit ritzy for my taste. us ordinary folk can't afford janos... but i do have to admit, it's darned good.

          i'd try something like mi nidito. it's far from the snooty atmosphere of any resort in town. food i think is just as good... if not better. granted, it's not in the best part of town. but it's not like we're living in a war-torn country. nobody will kill you 'cause yer whitey.

          bison witches on south 4th has great flavor and is no doubt one of the most popular restaraunts in town. a hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop on 4th ave. and with a huge sandwich and a breadbowl of soutp for $5.50, it really is great for a weekend lunch. the stroll up and down 4th ave is also a great way to see the city.

          1. re: michael board
            Missing Mexican Food in Seattle

            I second the motion for Mi-Niditos!!!! I used to go there 13 years ago when I was in college. I miss it dearly. The food is by far the best mexican that I have ever had. Have fun and enjoy a beer on their porch while you wait for a table. I also recommend the cheese crispy with guacamole!

            1. re: Missing Mexican Food in Seattle

              Oh, come on folks! Sonoran Mexican food is soooo boring! A base, viz, a tortilla, e.g, a little filling,maybe shredded chicken or ground beef, and a lot of shredded lettuce, tomato, and cheese. What is to commend this cuisine? Nothing as far as I'm concerned. At least at Cafe Poca Cosa you get a chance to explore other more interesting Mexican regional dishes.

              1. re: roberta

                "Sonoran Mexican food is soooo boring! A base, viz, a tortilla, e.g, a little filling,maybe shredded chicken or ground beef, and a lot of shredded lettuce, tomato, and cheese. What is to commend this cuisine? Nothing as far as I'm concerned."

                That's like dismissing Neopolitan cooking after only eating a Pizza Hut pie. True Sonoran is home cooking that seldom translate well in restaurants. Although simple, and often using few ingredients, the dishes reflect Sonora's cattle and wheat culture. In the hands of good cooks Sonoran food is no more boring than an excellently roasted chicken, or a beautifully baked bread. Sadly however, the food is often confused with Tex-Mex or other "border" styles--even by Sonoran decendents.


                1. re: Pete Feliz

                  Pete, I'll have to take your word for it. I cut my teeth on Chihuahuan-style in Juarez which I adored.(This was not Tex-Mex.) The home-cooked Sonoran food you say is so much more exciting certainly doesn't translate into interesting restaurant fare, as you state. I'll have to wait for an invitation sometime.

                  1. re: roberta

                    Baja, Sonora, Chihuahua all get poorly represented-even in their "best" restaurants. It's part of trying to cater to the tastes of the gringos just across the border.


                    1. re: Pete Feliz

                      Well, I have to say I had some mighty fine meals in Juarez when I lived in El Paso for 4 years. I loved the food and missed it terribly when I moved from there to Kentucky. Then, moved here and so looked forward to romancin' the chile once again, but alas, repeatedly disappointed and have given up except for an occasional foray to Poca Cosa. I work in South Tucson and just don't find anything that lures me to eat there after all the dullness. Do you have any restaurant suggestions?

                      1. re: roberta

                        I've lived in NYC for over 20 years. The only place that served great Sonoran food were the homes of my friends and relatives. And even before I left Arizona they didn't accept reservations.


                        1. re: Pete Feliz

                          Dear Roberta: After several months away from Chowhound, I observe that Pete Feliz is as haughty and uncommunicative as ever (except about his opinions!). I myself have been away from Tucson for a decade or more, but there are people in Tucson who KNOW AND WILL TELL. Try my South 5th Ave. friend Nancy Bissell atEmail:, and tell her I sent you there. Sonoran food is indeed as delicious as Pete says and many more Tucsonans than his relatives know how to cook it well. With more traditional Sonoran cordiality, Clint Fowler

                          1. re: Canon Fowler

                            John, how nice to read your response. I thought this "thread" had ended awhile ago and was so delighted that you had not only responded but that you offered a potential guide to good Sonoran food in Tucson. (again, I'm sceptical and think the phrase "good Sonoran food in Tucson" is an oxymoron, BUT, BUT, having said that, I'm gonna E-mail Nancy and ask her for a "tour". Thanks so much.

                            1. re: Canon Fowler

                              Hi, John, I just wanted to get back with you to let you know that your friend Nancy really came through for me! Yesterday, at her recommendation, I ate at an authentic fabulous Mexican restaurant deep in south Tucson, "El Guero" where they grill meat and chicken all day and serve it up in various ways with the most delicious help-yourself condiments-grilled scallions and grilled jalapenos, radishes, cucumbers, salsas, etc etc. It was just marvelous. Informal, outdoor seating only or take out. I can't wait to return over and over. Thank you so much for the help.

                              1. re: roberta
                                Canon Fowler

                                Dear Roberta: My pleasure! Nancy Bissell knows her stuff, a true Chowhound, I assure you. She herself is an outstanding cook, in several cuisines (a word I seldom use, by the way--it sounds pretentious, except from a Frenchperson). Good wishes, Clint Fowler