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The fact that Tucson has a food truck that serves out delicious Indian food should all make us feel damn lucky Baja Arizona is the safe zone for sanity in this state. Their samosas, however, beautiful crispy outside love, and inside—potatoes, a little meat and more spices, with hopefully some steam rising out from its middle.
Mission Street Tacos
311 E. Congress St., 622-8848
Although Cup Café might get all of the culinary cred at Hotel Congress, you should know the menu of cheap bar bites at the club and taproom is just as good. Take, for example, the pork belly tacos. Crispy seared pork belly, dangerously spicy pickled jalapenos and a cilantro aioli sit nestled in a warm, tender flatbread. Two for $6 is a pretty good deal, too.
312 E. Congress St., 882-2007
The star of Diablo Burger’s operation is the meat, which is locally sourced from Northern Arizona ranches. But once you slap homemade hatch chile mayo, roasted green chiles and sharp cheddar on top and slide it in the middle of an English muffin, you’re talking burger bliss.
The Dish Bistro Bar
(Rest In Peace)
The Dish has closed, but the steamed mussels were some of the best in Tucson with saffron broth, diced tomatoes, garlic and fresh oregano – this dish pairs nicely with a glass of wine and plenty of bread for dipping.
Don Pedro’s Peruvian Bistro
3386 S. 6th Ave., 209-1740
Think of this as the Latin American version of French fries. Don Pedro’s serves the yucca frita with a side of huancaina sauce—a cold sauce made with queso fresco, aji amarillo (Peruvian yellow pepper), evaporated milk and vegetable oil. Go get your Peruvian fix.
Sense of Place Menu
Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails
135 S. Sixth Ave., 623-7700
Janos Wilder’s Sense of Place menu changes with the seasons—after all, he was a farm-to-table locavore long before it was cool. The latest work of Sonoran-inspired wizardry is short ribs braised in pasilla chile and Dragoon Porter with a chile colorado sauce, vegetable chilequiles and escabeche. Get it while you can—with spring in the air, Janos is surely dreaming up the next creation already.
Dry River Pizza
800 N. Kolb Road, 298-5555
Dry River Pizza on Kolb Road does a good job at keeping the Margherita pizza simple and tasty—just like how the classic Neapolitan pie should be. You can expect a simple tomato sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil, and, really, why would you want any more than that?
Green Chile Pork Nachos
10000 N. Oracle Road, 544-1705
In the small plate and bar menu, Epazote Kitchen’s green chile pork nachos provide a new take on the traditional snack dish. Piled high with pork and soaked in green chili, the smothered chips are then topped with Oaxaca cheese, black beans and guacamole.
La Estrella Bakery
100 S. Avenida del Convento Ste. # 100, 393-3320
Everyone has their favorite empanada place, but if you’re looking for pillowy dough filled with unique flavors, it’s time to head to La Estrella. Mango, pineapple, apple, cherry and more are available, but the best at this bakery is the pumpkin. You might be thinking, “I am so over pumpkin flavored foods,” which is fair, but give this delicately spiced treat a try.
Feast Grilled Cheese
3719 E. Speedway Blvd., 326-6500
As spectacular as it always is, you don’t want to get too attached to anything on Doug Levy’s Feast menu because he changes it around so much that you might be out of luck the next time you walk in. But one constant is that grilled cheese sandwich with honey-roasted eggplant, tomato and red onion on a French roll. That’s some pretty high-class comfort food right there.
Indian Frybread Manna from Heaven
1118 W. St. Mary’s Road, 344-7725
Fluffy, and chewy on the inside, crunchy and crisp on the outside, Manna from Heaven’s frybread is definitely the star of the show. While the spot offers a range of sweet and savory toppings or even just plain frybread, the Navajo taco with beans, cheese, lettuce and tomato is sure to satisfy.
Squid and Pork Bulgogi
2900 E. Broadway Blvd. Ste. # 186, 305-4900
You can find authentic Korean food in Tucson and you can find it at Kimchi Time. The husband and wife team who runs the joint are very secretive about a few things—especially their coveted banchan recipes. However, they’ll freely share dish reccomendations and one you can’t pass up is the squid and pork bulgogi. Tender squid and fatty pork play together nicely in a bright red, lightly sweet and spicy sauce.
Grilled Sea Bass
2564 E. Grant Road, 323-7739
Finding good seafood in Tucson can be a lot like fishing. Luckily, Kingfisher is one of those places where the catch is always good. For a fresh experience, go for the grilled sea bass, served with ginger gastrique, wild mushroom salad, Forbidden rice pilaf, glazed baby bok choy.
201 N. Court Ave., 622-0351
Spend your Thursday nights at La Cocina for live music and the taco du jour served up by Kyle Araishi. The unique taco options focus on fusion, which can mean anything from herby chimichurri to Korean kimchi tacos.
Bun Cha Ha Noi
1072 N. Campbell Ave., 320-9511
It’s hard to tear yourself away from always ordering pho tai at Miss Saigon, but branch out and get the bun cha ha noi. Perfect for summer, the salad-like assemble yourself plate of rice vermicelli, lettuce, cilantro and crispy, crunchy pork bits in a fish sauce has all of those flavors you want but without the steamy hot broth.
Any of the Steaks
Mountain Oyster Club
6400 E. El Dorado Plaza, 623-3417
Top Secret Price
OK, this one is kind of a cheat: It’s a private club, so you’re only sinking your teeth into this beef if you’re a member or you’ve managed to cozy up to one. But that makes the ribeye and tenderloin all the juicier once you’ve gotten inside this historic cattlemen’s club.
7131 E. Broadway, 296-6465
Oink may have just opened a few months ago, but those bacon flights have already caused quite a buzz. Complete witheight slices of bacon: applewood smoked, honey cured, sugar cured, apple cider, pepper, hickory, jalapeño, and the chef’s choice, if eating this is wrong, we don’t want to be right.
Big Boy Burger
820 E. University Blvd., 882-8013
One of the Old Pueblo’s most devilishly over-the-top burgers can be found at Pasco Kitchen. Using grassfed beef and country bread toast as the base, braised pork belly, a fried egg, hollandaise, Oaxaca cheese, greens, tomato and onion all take this behemoth to the next level. You might want to consider sharing this big, bad boy.
50 E. Broadway Blvd., 203-7681
If you’re shy about eating an the meat from an animal’s head, it’s time to give the offal another shot because Penca’s tender cabeza meat makes for one crave-worthy taco experience. With a corn tortilla on the bottom and cilantro, onion, radish and salsa verde over top, you’ll definitely be ordering more than one of these.
2226 N. Stone Ave., 670-1705
What once was Pho Thu is now Pho #1. Like the kitschy dragon-laden décor, the food hasn’t changed much with the name change, which is actually a good thing. Get the pho tai and experience your first broth high. It’s a real thing, trust us. If you’re a vegetarian, this spot is one of the few in town with a legit veggie pho broth, too.