[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Best All-You-Can-Eat Buffet
Best Bagel Bakery
Best Bagels
Best BBQ
Best Bread Creations
Best Breakfast Under $5
Best Breakfast
Best Burgers
Best Butcher Shop
Best Cannoli
Best Casual Dining
Best Chinese
Best Delicatessen
Best Desserts
Best Dim Sum
Best Diner
Best Fine Dining
Best Fish Market
Best Food On I-10
Best Formal Dining
Best Free Snacks
Best Fresh-Baked Bread
Best Greek
Best Hot-Links
Best Ice Cream
Best Indian
Best Italian
Best Korean
Best Late-Night Restaurant
Best Local Flavor
Best Lunch Over $5
Best Lunch Under $5
Best Margarita For Kids
Best Margaritas
Best Marinara Sauce
Best Mexican (No Lard)
Best Middle Eastern
Best Middle-Eastern Market
Best New Restaurant
Best Omelet Bar
Best Outdoor Dining
Best Pizza
Best Place To Eat Fried Pickles
Best Produce
Best Salads
Best Salsa
Best Sandwich Advocate For Fire Safety
Best Sandwiches
Best Smoothie Bar
Best Sonoran Hot-Dog
Best Sunday Brunch
Best Sushi
Best Sweet Shop
Best Taco Stand & Hot-dog Stand
Best Take-Out
Best Taste Of New York
Best Thai
Best Tortillas
Best Truck Stop
Best Vegan Selections
Best Vegetarian Fine-Dining
Best Veggie Burger
Best Vietnamese Soup

Best Outdoor Dining

Café Terra Cotta

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP--TIE: Blue Willow Restaurant, Bakery & Poster Gallery, 2616 N. Campbell Ave., is a Tucson institution with its eclectic menu of quiche, burrito and vegetable-rice specialties. The inner courtyard is well shaded and provides a genuinely organic inner sanctum with its combination of brick, natural light and live plants. There's also air conditioned seating for those 100-degree-plus days. The range of offerings make this an excellent compromise for mixed parties of vegans and carnivores for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The Tohono Chul Park Tea Room, 7366 N. Paseo Del Norte, is the place to impress your winter visitors. Nothing will gall those frozen Midwesterners more than knowing that you can sit outside in the middle of December, eating great food while enjoying the desert landscape and a view of the Catalina Mountains. There's nothing like a Tea Room burger and delicious lime-jicama slaw while watching the sparrows and doves flitting in the foliage. You can go for breakfast or lunch (they close at 5 p.m.), or really show your relatives how sophisticated you are by taking them to afternoon tea after 2:30 p.m. The dainty finger-sandwich and pastry selections, along with a choice of traditional, flavored or herb teas, will show them just how refined the art of relaxed noshing is in the Old Pueblo. They'll love you and hate you, seeing what you can enjoy year 'round.

CLUE IN: Have you ever been to the Mt. Lemmon Café, 12976 N. Sabino Canyon Parkway? Come find yourself and a fine slice of pie at this gemütlich, mountain café, just a yodel away from our fair city. A buffalo burger and a tasty, fresh-baked dessert are pure manna at the end of an afternoon of wandering in the woods (or just driving). With mostly outside seating, this café makes it easy to beat the Tucson heat and enjoy some amazing mountain weather all summer long. Lots of umbrellas ensure a dry experience even during Mt. Lemmon's beautiful late-summer showers. A true delight.

CLUE IN: There are lots of great outdoor restaurants in Tucson, but few offer the opportunity to stretch out on the table after dinner, make out with your honey and admire the starry sky. The road to the Saguaro National Park West's Sus Picnic Area is closed to cars at night, so be prepared to walk a mile or so from the main road. Take a simple picnic: some bread, olives, really good tomatoes, red wine, goat cheese and something sweet. Your only company might be a fox or a group of snuffling javelinas. On warm summer nights, midnight creeps up before you know it. Watch your step for rattlesnakes on the walk back.

CLUE IN: Located within a stone's throw of the Tucson Museum of Art downtown, La Cocina, 201 N. Court Ave., shares its digs with the ever-popular Old Town Artisans gallery. Each offers visitors and residents alike a real glimpse into Southwestern hospitality. Although eating inside the century-old building, with its polished wood floors and beamed ceilings, is a welcome retreat on days of inclement weather, the large patio at La Cocina is as restorative to the soul as the food is nourishing to the body. The walled, bricked interior courtyard houses several tables in various degrees of dappled shade, and the lush foliage tends to keep the temperatures to comfortable levels. Flowers pepper the area with bursts of color; and pottery and stonework additions line the exterior wall of the gallery to imbue the patio with a distinctive charm. An outdoor station for grilling burgers is fired up on occasion, with tables close by for a bird's eye view of your meat as it cooks. Service is generally excellent, with none of the "out of sight, out of mind" compromise one often pays elsewhere for the pleasure of dining al fresco. There really is no better way to pass a lunch hour on a mild day than to bask at a table on La Cocina's patio.

Case History

1997 Winner: The Cottonwood Café
1996 Winner: The Blue Willow
1995 Winner: Café Terra Cotta

Page Back

Home | Arts & Culture | Cafés | Chow | City Life | Kids | Outdoors
Saloons | Shopping | Most Wanted | Credits | Search

Copyright © 1995-98 Tucson Weekly

Page Forward