First, let's get something out of the way: We're sorry. We're sorry we missed your favorite dish in town. The place you recommend to everyone you know? We should have included it. If this is some consolation, we'll take the best of the likely-angry emails and comments we get from this feature and we'll publish them somewhere in the near future. We want you to have you say.
But, we did try. We asked our staff, talked to restaurant owners, chefs and smart people who love food. We put the question out on Facebook and our blog. This is what we came up with. The 100 dishes (and we use that term somewhat loosely) that are most important to what we call food culture here in Tucson. The items you just have to try, the ones we'll miss if we ever move away (although we probably never will). It's a list, created by people with limited memories, so it's inherently flawed, but we think it came out well, from breakfast joint biscuits and gravy to Janos Wilder's favorite fine dining menu item. Have fun reading it, enjoy trying some new food referenced here and we'll try harder next year.
The Eegee's Frozen Fruit Slush
If this wasn't on our list, you should have thrown the paper away.
All of the pizzas at Vero Amore are amazing—the crust is thin, bubbly and that perfect balance between crunchy and chewy—but the lussuria is my favorite with Genoa salami, red sauce, just the perfect amount of garlic, and that amazing house-made fresh mozzarella. — JK
The Original Mr. K's BBQ
6302 S. Park Ave.; 792-9484
Mr. K's is the best BBQ in Tucson, and the hot links are my go-to item (though the sliced beef is a close second). The combination of the spicy sausages with their snappy casings, and the slightly-sweet sauce that has a nice kick to it is unbeatable. — JK
Spicy chili dogs
1202 W. Niagara St.; 624-0891
There's a reason this place has been around for as long as it has, and it's not because of the hamburgers. In fact, I'm not even sure what all is on the menu besides chili dogs. You have to get the chili dogs with onions and mustard though—or it's just not a proper chili dog. Delicious. — JK
7286 N. Oracle Road; 219-1235
Buttery bun. Bacon. Gruyere (often overused but oh-so-tasty). LTO. Get it medium rare. Anything else is unacceptable. — JK
1702 E. Speedway Blvd.; 325-1702
OK, OK, it's not a meal. But it could be (just be responsible and have a friend drive). But seriously, they have, hands-down the best beer selection on tap in town. You could make a meal out of some of the stouts and porters alone. The pizza is pretty delicious, too. — JK
Wings Over Broadway
5004 E. Broadway Blvd.; 323-8805
WOB, as it is affectionately known, is a serious wing contender in Tucson. Their wings are consistently amazing, super crunchy on the outside while still being juicy, tender and meaty on the inside. They hit all the right notes with the honey hot flavor—it's sweet but definitely has a nice spice to it, too. — JK
Maynards' Market & Kitchen
400 N. Toole Ave.; 545-0577
Chef Addam Buzzalini takes the national dish of Canada into the stratosphere with hot crispy pomme frites topped with duck confit, duck gravy, duck cracklins, foie gras and local cheese curds. It's the kind of dish that I wake up dreaming about. — RC
Frankie's South Philly Cheesesteaks
2574 N. Campbell Ave.; 795-2665
This is the very definition of the Philly Cheesesteak. Philly natives have been known to travel all the way across town to have the iconic 'wich from their hometown. Have it with the 'Wiz to make it authentic. Once you have a cheesesteak at Frankie's, you'll never go back to the imitators. — RC
Top Five: Joseph Blair- Wildcat, Philanthropist
Carne Asada tacos
How can you not love these?! They're served quick and at only $1.50 each! Not to mention the salsa bar is always filled with other great items that can fill you up on a cheap budget.
Breaded Chicken Breast
4310 N. Campbell Ave.; 795-7221
The black pepper sauce on top of this chicken and the perfect and delicate way in which they fry the chicken works so wonderfully with the flavorful mashed potatoes. Perfect for any business lunch or just add a bottle of wine for a romantic night out.
Chopped Beef Brisket sandwich
Mr. K's Barbecue
4911 N. Stone Ave.; 408-7427
If you want a full meal in the palm of your hands, there is no better place to go. The brisket is always cooked perfectly and the selection of barbecue sauces is amazing. I personally add their chopped onions and spicy pickles that come complimentary at their condiment bar. Happiness in a bun!
Beef Satay skewers
1785 E. River Road; 299-4275
Not just for happy hour anymore! These are one of the great small plates menu items in Tucson. The soy flavored sauce that these are cooked in could easily be a shot! Love it! And you know at Sullivan's, they will always cook the meat perfectly. Plus, the happy hour deals make it impossible to miss. Add a Knockout Martini and just wait for your socks to be knocked off!
Caldo de Queso soup
1813 S Fourth Ave.; 622-5081
Does it get any better?! I've had Caldo de Queso all over town and nothing, I repeat, nothing compares to that of Mi Nidito. Besides the fact that they should give you a trophy if you can finish a bowl, the flavor and perfect combination of all the ingredients is just amazing! The potatoes are always cooked perfectly and they aren't scared to throw in the cheese! Love, love, love it! And while you're there be sure and have a michelada. One of the absolute best in town!
Armitage Eggs Benedict
Armitage Wine Lounge & Café
2905 E. Skyline Drive, No. 168; 682-9740
There is a decidedly modern spin to this classic dish at Armitage. Prosciutto instead of Canadian bacon, Asiago toast instead of English muffins, havarti cheese, thin asparagus spears and a Hollandaise sauce with a pink hue all add up to a great weekend brunch (and sadly, this in only available on weekends). Yes, this is a wine bar but the Armitage's Bloody Mary is the way to go. — RC
Kingfisher Bar & Grill
2564 E. Grant Road.; 323-7739
From the presentation to the last glorious slurp, the steamers that Tucson's best seafood restaurant serves are in a word wonderful. They're tiny—as all good steamers should be—but their natural juices and the white wine come together in a most heavenly broth that enhances the clams rather than competes with them. They can be a stand-alone meal or a great beginning. — RC