Calling All Tucsonites!
Hi everyone--boy am I happy to have found this website!!!
Ok, I will be in Tucson in March (away from NYC...yeah!) and have two food issues to solve:
1. Good Mexican place for dinner on a Thursday night(current ideas are El Charro, Cafe Poco Cosa, El Mezon del Cobre, Mi Nidito). I am from SF originally and I LOVE great Mexican food. There will be about 12 of us for dinner, so a place that is good for large groups would be great. Pros and cons regarding the above mentioned places would be greatly appreciated. Oh, and I'm staying near the U of AZ, so nothing too far awary (ie. short cab ride).
2. A good caterer for a business breakfast and lunch. We'll be at the U of AZ and I am already having nightmares about my own college dorm food experiences...I would love to bring in a great outside caterer.
Thanks in advance!
The only two Tucson Mexican restaurants I've been to are El Charro and El Mezon del Cobre; I definately prefer the latter. Although El Charro is an institution, the food was very uneven and the main entree was mediocre. Although I enjoyed walking around the historic building, I wouldn't eat there again.
El Mezon del Cobre is so good, my wife and I plan our southern Arizona trips to ensure we pass through Tucson at meal time. The service is the best I've received in any Mexican restaurant, and I've dined in hundreds (thousands?). The ambiance is clean and elegant, even though the price is compatible with most Mexican restaurants. And the food... WOW! As you can tell, I can't recommend El Mezon more highly.
Note: My guilty food pleasure in Tucson is going to one of the many Eegee's fast food joints and getting their Lemon Ice (I think it's called an "eegee"). Eegee's used to exist in my area (Mesa/Phoenix), but now I have to drive a couple hours south. But the good thing is, there's one just north of El Mezon del Cobre!
I've been to all but El Mezon Del Cobre. El Charro is DEFNITELY not worth what they're charging. Cafe Poca Cosa is easily the best Mexican food I've ever had (I've lived in AZ all my life, BTW), but dinner costs almost double what lunch does for the exact same food. Mi Nidito is also outstanding- they're my first choice in a heartbeat if I want Sonoran style instead of Poca Cosa's more regional Mexican fare. The rellenos at Mi Nidito are wonderful things, and try your best to save room for one of their mango chimichangas for dessert. One warning about the mango chimis- they are HUGE. The first time I went there, my dining companion and I decided to split one. When I saw the chimi coming towards our table, I saw two large chimichangas coming our way and thought the kitchen screwed up and sent us two of them. When it hit the table, I saw that they had in fact split it- the full one is the size of a small marsupial.
re: JK Grence
I was born in Tucson, and have lived here all but 3 years.
El Charro is awful. It is overpriced, and the owners are obnoxious. They actually told me one day that people didn't care about service. I responded that they did, and that I would tell everyone I knew how horrible they were.
Mi Nidito is nice, but they don't take reservations, so you either have to go at ll a.m. or sometime after 2:30 p.m. If you go at a regular lunch or dinner time, you will have a long wait, which isn't worth it.
I would recommend La Parrilla Suiza. There are now three in town, and one is at Oracle and Kelso, which would not be a bad taxi ride from the U of A. They are a chain, which I normally try to avoid, in the southwest and throughout Mexico.
They have an appetizer, of melted cheese, that you scoop up with hot little tortillas, which is wonderful.
They also have great soups and entrees. I am hooked on Chicken Melt #34, which is grilled pieces of white chicken with chopped bacon, avocado, and tomatoes, with hot tortillas, charro beans, and rice. It is around $7. Everything is very reasonably priced.
They also have the best salsa, and they come to the table with 3 different types.
I don't think they take reservations either, so I would go on an off hour as well.
A caterer for how many people at breakfast? I know more about restaurants than caterers, but I do know a few of them.
Also, downtown, but a more expensive taxi ride from the U of A, is El Minuto, a Tucson institution. They have a very friendly, sweet owner, great food and great prices. They are also open very late at night.
We recently went to Tucson and took some friends who have moved there recently to El Mezon del Cobre, on your recommendation. It was a Saturday night and crowded; there was a birthday party of 25 occupying one side of the main room and a baby shower in the corner, so the place definitely had a neighborhood feel. We enjoyed just watching the festivities while waiting for a table. We also noticed mariachis having dinner, who then proceeded to perform. I am generally not crazy about mariachi music, but these folks were very good, and they did not wear huge sombreros, in fact they wore no hats at all.
The food was very good and reasonably priced, and the service was attentive. Thanks for the tip. Our Tucson friends think El Mezon is a keeper.
Hope you are not disappointed in Mexican food in Arizona, especially if you are from Santa Fe. I never found a really good place there, but I compare all Mexican with New Mexico food.
Go to Rosa's on Fort Lowell and Campbell. It used to be over behind the University and it's still great. Generally it's -packed- so you might call and see if they will take a reservation for 12. If not, just sneak in by yourself and have some salsa. Yum.
I suggest Poca Cosa, which is more Mexico City food. The other named restaurants serve Sonoran Mexican food which, in my opinion, is the least interesting, least complex, most bland of all Mexican food.
If you get time, come on down to Bisbee, two hours from Tucson, stop by Cafe Roka (a truly excellent restaurant-ya can't go wrong eating here) and knock a greet to me, I'm the bartender. Chow forever.