As the second largest city in Arizona, Tucson has a lot to offer visitors, from outdoor adventures and contemporary art to cultural events and culinary delights. With dining options spanning everything from Italian restaurants to Mexican establishments, there are a host of restaurant venues for every budget and taste. Here are ten of the best restaurants in the area.
Café à la C'Art
Cafe, Restaurant, American, $$$
Café à La C'Art, Tucson | Courtesy of Café à la C'Art
Owned and operated by a mother-son duo, Judy Michelet and Mark Jorbin, for over 18 years, Café à la C’Art is a delicious cafe located in the historic Stevens House, which is part of the Tucson Museum of Art. Featuring creative American fare with an emphasis on Southwest flavors, this charming restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, plus hosts a weekend brunch. Within an arty interior or on the lovely brick patio, guests can savor flavorful options, including the herb-roasted breast of chicken served with pan jus with roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash. This family-friendly cafe also hosts events throughout the year, including live music and sing-along events for children.
Owned by Steve and Renee Kreager, Renee’s Organic Oven is an award-winning restaurant specializing in pizzas made with top-quality ingredients, with an emphasis on organic products. Sourcing organic produce from local purveyors when possible, the crew at this pizzeria also offers diners nitrate-free meats, grass-fed beef, and free-range chicken as toppings. Guests can create their own pizza or order a specialty pie, such as the Thai curry topped with red curry sauce, spicy Mary’s chicken, mozzarella, red pepper, zucchini, onion, basil leaves, and parmesan. The menu also offers many other enticing options, from appetizers including organic bread baked fresh to order, to sandwiches to pastas. Respecting guests’ dietary needs, Renee’s also features vegan and gluten-free pizzas.
Serial Grillers (Speedway Blvd.), East Speedway Boulevard | Courtesy Agustin Kitchen
One of the 25 coolest food trucks in the USA according to Forbes, Serial Grillers also has a brick-and-mortar store where they serve the entire food truck menu plus fantastic pizzas. Owned by William and Travis Miller, this unique haunt features a flavorful menu with dishes named after serial killers and horror flicks. Guests can savor items such as the Hannibal rib eye cheese steak with grilled onions, jalapeños, cherry peppers, sweet peppers, tomatoes, pickles, and American white cheddar, or the Saw pizza topped with marinara, mozzarella and provolone cheese, feta, pancetta, pineapple, and brown sugar. Open seven days a week, this lively venue also offers vegetarian options, appetizers and side dishes, and dessert options.
Founded in 2013, Agustin Kitchen is a downtown restaurant located in the Mercado District, specializing in American and French cuisine with a local twist. Inspired by the flavors of Tucson, Chef Ryan Clark creates innovative farm-to-table dishes using the best and freshest locally sourced ingredients available. Within a beautiful light-filled interior, diners can feast upon delicious seasonal fare, such as the succulent sous-vide hanger steak served with roasted fingerling potatoes, fresh vegetables, crispy onions and chimichurri demi or the comforting vegetable pot pie. Lunch, weekend brunch, desserts, handcrafted cocktails and infusions, plus a wine list featuring domestic brands, round out the menu at Agustin Kitchen.
Established in 1998, Beyond Bread is a Zagat-rated Tucson bakery and cafe specializing in delicious baked goods, breakfast and lunch items. Voted as having the best bread and sandwiches by Tucson Weekly year after year, this establishment now has three locations within Tucson, providing numerous guests with their tasty treats on a daily basis. Customers can purchase a host of savory and sweet treats, including multi-grain and cranberry pecan bread, pastries, brownies, and chocolate mousse tortes to name but a few. Breakfast and lunch options are plentiful, with highlights being the Mediterranean omelet with tomatoes, feta, and artichoke hearts, and Pauley’s pesto sandwich with chicken, provolone, basil pesto, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and Italian dressing on focaccia.
A family-owned and operated establishment since 1972, Cushing Street Bar and Restaurant is a downtown Tucson staple featuring New American cuisine. The food here is impressive and includes tasty delights, such as Cajun meatloaf with an ancho maple glaze, accompanied by mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables, as well as the artichoke and carrot sauté with roasted veggies and penne pasta in a white wine-butter sauce. Live jazz music is featured Saturday nights, adding to an already lively ambiance.
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Established in 2013, Prep & Pastry is a delightful bakery featuring New American cuisine. Serving breakfast and lunch daily plus a weekend brunch, this restaurant’s culinary team uses only the freshest ingredients sourced from local purveyors in their tasty dishes, which will appeal to a wide range of tastes. With an array of delectable options from sweet to savory, guests can try carrot cake French toast, biscuits and gravy and a meatloaf sandwich with bacon, truffled arugula, tomato-golden raisin ketchup, and garlic aioli. Their bakery also turns out scrumptious selections, such as doussants — a local take on the infamous cronut — in a variety of flavors like chocolate chip cookie dough.
The Tasteful Kitchen is a delectable vegetarian restaurant owned and operated by two sisters, Keanne and Sigret Thompson. Offering an array of vegetarian, vegan and raw dishes, the sisters keep everything natural at this restaurant, which means diners will not find any type of artificial meat or tofu on the menu. What they will find is the freshest seasonal fruits and vegetables with an emphasis on organics and produce that is locally sourced. Open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, guests can take delight in recipes such as butternut squash noodles with organic kale, mushrooms, shallots, and white wine-cherry tomato sauce, or the herbed cashew gnocchi with red pepper cream sauce, marinated seasonal greens, and crispy matchstick veggies. A cozy space filled with art, reservations are recommended.
Established in 2008 by Todd Martin, Tucson Tamale Company is an establishment that specializes in tamales, but not just any tamale; they feature gourmet tamales inspired by international flavors. Made with the freshest ingredients available, including organic corn masa, customers might be surprised at how versatile the tamale can be. With over 25 varieties available, diners can try the breakfast-inspired sunrise with sausage, potato, and cheese in red chilli masa, the Indian-inspired New Delhi with a vegetable medley, coconut milk, and mild yellow curry or the more traditional jojo with chipotle beef and cheese in jalapeño masa. Guests can dine inside or on the lovely patio, order for takeaway, or if they are not in the Tucson area, they may order online and have their meal delivered.
Founded in 1993 by chef and restaurateur Daniel Scordato, Vivace is a fine dining establishment specializing in creative Northern Italian cuisine. Voted as having the ‘Best Italian’ food by Tucson Weekly, this restaurant procures the highest quality ingredients for the dishes featured on the menu. A local-favorite, discerning diners can savor mouth-watering dishes, such as seafood lasagnette with hand-made pasta, seafood, spinach, and a tomato-basil broth, artichoke-goat’s cheese cannelloni with mushroom broth on a bed of spinach, or a crab-filled chicken breast served with a cream sauce and vegetable rice. With scrumptious desserts, a seasonal wine list plus gorgeous views overlooking Tucson and the mountains, this is a must-try culinary experience for any foodie.