Tucson Restaurants

Tucson boldly proclaims itself to be the "Mexican Food Capital of the United States," and most of the Mexican food in town is Sonoran-style. This means prolific use of cheese, mild peppers, corn tortillas, pinto beans, and beef or chicken. It's the birthplace of the chimichanga (Spanish for "whatchamacallit"), a flour tortilla filled with meat or cheese, rolled, and deep-fried.

The best Mexican restaurants are concentrated in South Tucson and Downtown, although some favorites have additional locations around town. If Mexican's not your thing, there are plenty of other options: you won't have any trouble finding excellent sushi, Thai, Italian, and Ethiopian food at reasonable prices.

For sampling regional flavors, upscale Southwestern cuisine flourishes at several resorts in the Foothills, most notably the Grill at Hacienda del Sol and Flying V Grill at Loews Ventana Canyon. A recent trend in Tucson dining is combining hip restaurants with chic shopping locations. Choose from sushi, steak, Italian, or Mexican at La Encantada in the Foothills. Casas Adobes Plaza, in the Northwest, is home to upscale shops alongside Wildflower Grill and trendy, thin-crust pizza at Sauce—and the gelato shop, Frost, is handy for dessert. Downtown has recently exploded with first-rate dining and drinking establishments, from modern comfort food and homemade ice cream to gourmet pizzas, craft beers, and contemporary Mexico City cuisine.

Tasty fare as varied as Indian, Greek, and Middle Eastern can be enjoyed on the west side of U of A's campus, along University Boulevard and 4th Avenue—another great area for people-watching and barhopping as well as quelling hunger pangs.

On Friday and Saturday nights and during the Gem Show (first two weeks of February), reservations are usually a good idea at upscale and popular restaurants. Dress ranges from casual to casual-dressy here; jackets for men aren’t required at any restaurant, even at resorts.

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  • 1. Café à la C'Art

    $ | Downtown | Café

    Tucked inside the Stevens Home, part of the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block, this gem of a café serves breakfast frittatas, burritos...Read More

  • 2. Café Poca Cosa

    $$ | Downtown | Mexican

    At what is arguably Tucson's most creative Mexican restaurant, the chef prepares recipes inspired by different regions of her native country...Read More

  • 3. Elvira's

    $$ | Mexican

    This colorful and deservedly popular restaurant serves delicious Sonoran classics in Tubac village. Try one of the five chicken moles, ranging...Read More

  • 4. Maynards

    $$$ | Downtown | French

    An anchor in the downtown district, this French-inspired bistro, bar, and gourmet market takes up part of Tucson's historic train depot. Clever...Read More

  • 5. Mi Nidito

    $$ | South | Mexican

    A perennial favorite among locals (the wait is worth it), Mi Nidito ("my little nest") has also hosted its share of visiting celebrities: following...Read More

  • 6. 47 Scott

    $$$ | Downtown | Modern American

    Hip in an understated way, this classy bistro and bar is firmly ensconced at the top of local "best of Tucson" lists, and its cocktails have...Read More

  • 7. Acacia

    $$$ | Foothills | American

    One of Tucson's premier chefs, Albert Hall, relocated his fine-dining restaurant to high in the Catalina Foothills, so now patrons can enjoy...Read More

  • 8. Arizona Inn Restaurant

    $$$$ | University | European

    At one of Tucson's oldest and most elegant restaurants, dine on the patio overlooking the lush grounds or enjoy the view from the dining room...Read More

  • 9. Bangkok Cafe

    $$ | Central | Thai

    Easily the best Thai food in town, this bright, spacious café serves favorite Thai dishes and has pleasant service. The Thoong Tong appetizer...Read More

  • 10. Beyond Bread

    $ | Central | Café

    Twenty-seven varieties of bread are made at this bustling bakery with Central, Eastside, and Northwest locations, and highlights from the menu...Read More

  • 11. Cup Café

    $$ | Downtown | American

    This charming spot off the lobby of Hotel Congress is at the epicenter of Tucson's hippest scene, but it also serves up excellent food from...Read More

  • 12. Downtown Kitchen & Cocktails

    $$$ | Downtown | Modern American

    Ever-evolving maverick and master chef Janos Wilder draws inspiration from warm-weather regions around the world as he fuses French technique...Read More

  • 13. El Charro Café

    $$ | Downtown | Mexican

    Started by Monica Flin in 1922, the oldest Mexican restaurant in town still serves splendid versions of the Mexican-American staples Flin claims...Read More

  • 14. El Minuto Café

    $$ | Downtown | Mexican

    Popular with local families and the business crowd at lunch, this bustling restaurant in Tucson's Barrio Historico neighborhood has been serving...Read More

  • 15. Feast

    $$$ | Central | Eclectic

    One of Tucson's most popular upscale bistros, Feast has a contemporary setting that is bright, cheerful, and conducive to conversation. The...Read More

  • 16. Gentle Ben's Brewing Company

    $ | University | Burger

    Beer lovers should head to Gentle Ben's, a friendly, laid-back burger-and-brew pub that also makes a scrumptious veggie burger. The deck upstairs...Read More

  • 17. Kababeque

    $ | University | Indian

    From curry to kebab, the tasty and plentiful dishes at Kababeque satisfy for a quick bite Indian-style. ...Read More

  • 18. Kingfisher Bar and Grill

    $$$ | Central | American

    A standout for classic American cuisine, Kingfisher has an emphasis on fresh seafood, especially oysters and mussels, but the kitchen does baby...Read More

  • 19. Molina's Midway

    $ | Central | Mexican

    Tucked into a side street just north of Speedway, this charming, unassuming Mexican restaurant holds its own against any in South Tucson. Specialties...Read More

  • 20. North

    $$ | Foothills | Italian

    This trendy eatery in upscale La Encantada Shopping Center melds an urban-loft look with rustic Italian touches, including bright red chairs...Read More

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