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754 E. Grant Road, 623-8182
As they say at the Sausage Deli: “Embarrassing to order, easy to eat.” Turkey, harvati, lettuce, tomato, and sprouts between two slices of whole-wheat bread slathered with mayo. Thank goodness this landmark sandwich shop was able to find a new home when the wrecking ball came for its old one—Tucson wouldn’t be the same without the Sausage Deli.
Seared Rare Ahi Tuna
1785 E. River Road, 299-4275
As one of the top steakhouses in the city, Sullivan’s is also adept with lighter lunch fare. Consider the seared ahi tuna served up rate in the middle. For this dish to work, you’ve got to start with only the best fish and let the ingredients speak for themselves.
614 N. Grande Ave., 622-0685
$2 for a cup
A lot can happen in cooking when it isn’t reliant on meat to carry the dish. Tania’s 33 in Barrio Hollywood gets this right with the spicing in their vegan fideo caldo. The comforting vermicelli-based soup might skip the meat but it doesn’t skip on flavor.
Gnocchi with Pesto
5541 N. Swan Road, 577-6992
When it comes to Trattoria Pina the restaurant really is a family affair. The owner’s 83-year-old father, Cosmo Ali, makes the gnocchi fresh by hand, while the kitchen pairs it with your choice of sauce: a creamy herby pesto, a classic marinara or a spicy arrabiata. We’re partial to the impossibly smooth and tender potato dumplings combined with a traditional herbaceous pesto with a comforting cream sauce.
Tucson Racquet and Fitness Club
4001 N. Country Club Road, 795-6960
What a way to put those calories right back on after a workout: Turkey, mozzarella, avocado, raw onions, sun-dried tomatoes grilled between slices of whole wheat from Beyond Bread. It’s worth an extra half-hour on the stairmaster.
New Delhi Tamales
Tucson Tamale Company, three locations
2545 E. Broadway Blvd., 305-4760
A corn meal mash-up of Indian flavor and the humble tamal? Yes, please. Inside these husks you’ll find tamales spiced with curry and packed with potatoes, carrots, green beans, corn peas and onion. Curry up and get us a six-pack of these samosa-like bad boys!
Banh Mi Dat Biet
Various Locations, Food Truck, 270-7779
You can almost always find the Vina Baguette truck outside of the convenience store at 1540 E. Broadway Blvd. and when it’s there, you absolutely have to get the banh mi dat biet. Filled with bright red Vietnamese BBQ pork, ham, pate, carrot, jalapeno, cilantro and daikon, the eight-inch buttered crispy baguette is at least two meals.
Seared Ahi Sunomono Salad
7037 N. Oracle Road, 219-4230
Wildflower always has a great selection of salads, including the ahi salad, which is refreshing in the spring and necessary in the summer heat. The lightly-seared ahi tuna, sunomono, fresh avocado and cilantro-ginger vinaigrette blend together for a feel good meal.
857 E. Grant Road, 624-3377
Whoever said the Old Pueblo doesn’t have good ramen hasn’t been to Yamato. The savory, unctuous pork broth has a beautifully smooth texture, adding subtle flavor to the long noodles. A bit of nori, a boiled egg, tender char siu pork and a narutomaki fish cake complete this authentic bowl.
Zivaz Mexican Bistro
4590 E. Broadway Blvd., 325-1234
Zivaz is a Tucson treasure and the low-cost, but flavorful, chicken chipotle is proof. The key to this dish is the sauce, which is a cheesy, mushroom cream over grilled chicken breast strips with mushrooms, red bell peppers and, of course, another layer of cheese.
921 W. Congress St., 623-3020
Eat your fruits, kids. The Sonoran Delight’s Macedonia raspado (snow cone) has you covered. Here’s a breakdown of what your mouth will encounter: vanilla ice cream with pineapple, peach, mango and strawberry, topped with more ice cream, pecans and condensed milk. It’ll get your hands and face a bit sticky, but it’s worth it.
2731 E. Broadway Blvd., 323-9928
Yedoro Alicha is definitely in the running for most tender chicken in town. It’s shredded and cooked with garlic, ginger root, onions and other Ethiopian spices that give it a distant sweetness. Chances are you’ll find yourself soaking up all of those juices with the soft injera (a sourdough-like, spongey flatbread).
Chicken Shawarma Plate
1800 E. Fort Lowell Road, # 160, 319-5554
This plate contains the best of the Mediterranean world. The chicken is marinated in olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, onions and spices from the region, and then perfectly grilled with just a little char. That’s not all, though. The plate also comes with rice (with more garlic), hummus, tabbouleh, warm pita bread and a big dollop of garlic paste.
Prosciutto and Parmesan Pasta
Ghini’s French Caffe
1803 E. Prince Road, 326-9095
Let’s get a little fancy. At Ghini’s the chef gets to choose the pasta and you choose the ingredients. Some of the best add-ins include salty prosciutto, champignons, cream and parmesan. While the spot is known primarily for breakfast and the bakery, dinner at Ghini’s is great too.
Kalina Russian Cuisine and Tea House
8963 E. Tanque Verde Road, #201, 360-4040
It’s 100-percent worth driving to the outskirts of Mount Lemmon for this chicken kiev. Kalina’s grounds the chicken, season it with garlic and herbs (the dill really stands out), and then fries it in bread crumbs and olive oil. It comes with three sides, but you’d be silly to pass up the Georgian marinated red cabbage in particular.
Martin’s Comida Chingona
557 N. 4th Ave., 884-7909
Don’t know what to eat tonight? Bring your favorite beer or wine to Martin’s and pair it with three veggie tacos on flour tortillas. The sauteed and very well-seasoned calabacitas are brightened and lightened with shredded cabbage, carrots, cilantro and queso fresco. All it needs is a squeeze of lime and a dip in Martin’s special hot sauce.
The Melty Burger with Mushrooms
5350 E. Broadway Blvd., Suite 128, 514-9797
$10.75 Weighing in with 2/3-pound of beef and topped with four melted cheeses, this burger isn’t kidding around. Swiss, American, smoked cheddar and smoked mozzarella can only get you so far, though, so be sure to add the mushrooms to take it to the next level.
1702 E. Speedway Blvd., 325-1702
1702’s slices of pizza are so gigantic and that’s a good thing. The Mexicali in particular is loaded up with mildly spicy chorizo, black olives, green peppers and tomato for a beautiful fusion of flavor. Make sure to put a lot of crushed red pepper on top too to add an extra kick.
Tempura Ice Cream
2660 N. Campbell Ave., 320-1574
Although anything tempura-battered is usually a pleasure to eat at this Tucson institution, the tempura vanilla ice cream goes beyond any of its savory accomplices. You might just find yourself getting seconds of this chocolate syrup topped treat.
Tortitas de Espinaca
429 N. 4th Ave., 622-8207
Maya Quetzal is the only Guatemalan restaurant in town, so, it automatically stands out in the crowd. The tortitas de espinaca, or spinach patties, blend the leafy green with tomato, garlic, onions and the walnuts to top it for a very traditional and lightly crunchy dish.