Blessed be the brunch revolution and its surge in the Old Pueblo. One of the best spots in town for the hybrid meal, Prep & Pastry, waxes the meal poetic on their chalkboard wall, which says, "brunch without booze is just a sad, late breakfast." Cheers to that and to spots like the Cup Café, which offer an extensive and very customizable bloody mary bar, but the truth is you don't have to feel excluded at all if you're a daytime (or all of the time) teetotaler.
Restaurants like 5 Points Market, Mother Hubbard's and more prove you can have a perfectly lovely brunch without the liquor, but no matter where you stand, it's clear brunch is all about the dishes. Breakfast with south of the border spice, runny egg topped pizzas and a duck confit hash with cherry goat cheese mousse might end up in a post-brunch afternoon nap. However, the mid-day meal also has plenty of lighter options paired with local produce and quick bites for meals on the go.
So wake up, greet the day and start eating your way through this list of some of our favorite morning time meals:
5 Points Market
756 S. Stone Ave., 623-3888
There's a time and a place for sloppy, greasy diner breakfast, but if you're looking for something a little more refined, the breakfast toast at 5 Points is light and bring with a creamy pesto chevre, over medium eggs, and a tart and sweet chianti jelly all atop red fife grain bread and served with a lightly-dressed side of greens.
444 E. University Blvd., 622-0761
$6.50 - $9.95
Pizza for breakfast? Of course. Time Market's selection of runny egg topped pizzas are a great way to wake up. You can go standard with mozzarella, grana padano, cilantro and green onion; Sonoran-style with all of that plus green chile, queso fresco, coriander and cumin; or with house-cured salmon, dill and capers.
Le Cave's Bakery
1219 S. Stone Ave., 624-2561
A dozen for $8.99
Le Cave's is the true OG of vegan baking, and their mango-filled doughnut is número uno. The fusion of that soft dough, sprinkled with powdered sugar and a very, very generous amount of filling—a mango puree with other sweet goodness—is just, yes. Take a bite, let that filling drip on your body and then lick it off.
Café a la C'Art
150 N. Main Ave., 628-8533
Scramble a few eggs with locally sourced chorizo from the Anita Street Market, roasted red peppers, carmelized onions and pepperjack cheese. Lay down a side of roasted potatoes and multigrain toast. Then you have one of Tucson's best breakfasts in one of its finest historic homes. Special bonus: The Tucson Museum of Art shares its collection with the restaurant to whet your appetite for a stroll around TMA after brunch to work off those calories.
7002 E. Broadway Blvd., 495-4772
There are plenty of innovative plates on Baja Café's menu, but one standout is the healthy breakfast tacos: The corn tortillas are steamed and the scrambled eggs are topped with pico de gallo, habanero chicken sausage and tomatillo sauce and served with a side of fresh fruit. Baja Café is a welcome newcomer to the Tucson restaurant universe.
Applewood Smoked Bacon,
Avocado and Swiss Cheese
2616 N. Campbell Ave., 327-7577
How much detail do you need to convince you that this Blue Willow omelet is perfection? It has the three basic ingredients for a happy stomach: bacon, avocado and a lot of Swiss cheese. That trifecta is wrapped with fluffy eggs and topped off with slices of avocado and bacon on top.
Cinnamon Swirl French Toast
Tohono Chul Park's Garden Bistro
7366 N. Paseo Del Norte, 742-6455
Cinnamon. There is never enough cinnamon in French toast. It's obvious Tohono Chul's Garden Bistro knows that and decided to create this dish. Three slices of thick bread with cinnamon paste swirled into it, cooked in egg batter with more cinnamon. Oh, and you can pair the toasts with pecan smoked bacon. You may not even need maple syrup with this one.
Green Corn Waffle
14 W. Grant Road, 623-7976
Mother Hubbard's is waffle heaven and especially great if you're gluten free. With options ranging from classic and sweet to regional and savory, there's not a wrong way to go, but the fluffy green corn waffle topped with green chile and cheese is a definite standout. Just make sure you get a side of the thick-cut in-house smoke mesquite bacon too.
The Little One
151 N. Stone Ave.
Never mind the recent name change from Little Café Poca Cosa to The Little One: They food is still just as great, the music is still loud and you still get a hug before you're out the door. Try the breakfast combo: A green corn tamal, a chile relleno and a couple of eggs—anyway you like them—along with beans, rice and fresh fruit. Start your day with this and you will be invincible.
Cast Iron Baked Eggs
311 E. Congress St., 798-1618
It's no secret that this Hotel Congress dish is a crowd favorite. Presented in a real (hot) cast iron pan, two runny eggs are left to mingle flavors, simmering in ham, leeks and gruyere cheese with cream and herbes fines. Decadent? Maybe, but we won't tell if you don't.
Duck Confit Hash
Prep & Pastry
3703 N. Campbell Ave., 326-7737
If the prospect of booze-soaked cherries whipped in with a goat cheese mousse atop tender duck confit, over medium eggs and potato slices doesn't wake you up and get you moving, it's likely that nothing will. Paired with a Madras Mimosa with orange and guava juices, this truly is a brunch of champions.
Baked French Toast
La Encantada 2995 E. Skyline Drive, 299-1600
North Italia is known primarily for lunch and dinner, but they also have a great menu for brunch, including one of the best French toast dishes in Tucson. This is not your ordinary French toast dipped in an egg batter and finished on a grill. North's chefs put special effort into their French toast, baking it and then finishing it with a vanilla syrup and fresh fruit.
La Mesa Tortilla
3684 W Orange Grove Rd., 297-2640
As the company motto states: every good burrito starts with a good tortilla. La Mesa Tortilla's west location starts by focusing on great tortillas and finishes its breakfast burritos with a great balance of eggs, potatoes and any meat of choice for the day. Breakfast burritos are served between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
8270 S. Houghton Road, Ste. 140, 574-2294
With two locations in Tucson, Rancho Rustico filled a void for good, family dining in Rita Ranch. One of the best breakfast dishes is the chilaquiles platter. For chilaquiles to work, the corn tortilla strips need to be softened by the sauce—but not too much. The dish works best with over-medium eggs.
Pear, Apple, Brie and Honey Crepe
Café Marcel Creperie and Espresso Bar
2281 N. Oracle Road, 623-3700
There is a lot of melted Brie in this crepe, which is a good sign. The flavor of that Brie blends in with the honey and then you get crunchy bites of fresh pear and apple. It's OK to stare while they make it too because it is topped with whipped crème and more fresh fruit.
402 E. 9th St., 222-9889
Turns out The Coronet, at Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street, is a brunch sanctuary that understands this simple morning meal is best, well, simple. This dish proves it so—baked egg with a spicy middleeastern tomato sauce, chickpeas, feta and cucumber salad.
Cheddar Biscuit Sandwich
Maynard's Market and Kitchen
400 N. Toole Ave., 545-0577
Four words: homemade cheddar onion biscuit. After all, if the biscuit isn't homemade, it isn't worth your time so skip the wannabes and go to Maynard's where you can top it with scrambled egg, white cheddar cheese, Applewood bacon and peppered gravy.
828 E. Speedway Blvd., 520-777-8134
For some reason this place has made folks realize you can put a poached egg on a taco and life only get’s better. It started with this particular one though – steak with grilled onions chopped up and topped with a poached eggs—yellow yokey goodness. Don’t forget Chef Maria’s salsas and you’re set.
943 E. University Blvd., 792-6684
What makes this one of the top sandwiches in town is the apple butter, though the tender turkey pastrami, peppery arugula, cucumber and brie round the whole package out into a thing of beauty … but so do those herb fries, am I right?
Scones and Jam
425 N. 4th Ave., 624-4411
You can get an eggs breakfast entrée at this Fourth Avenue café with one of its trademark sweet or savory scones, but on their own they always seem to do the trick. Pair that with butter and if the café has any of its homemade freezer jams, and, well, you have a breakfast that makes the drive, “Potholes? What potholes?”
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