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Ellen Shapiro

Tucson Dining: Where Should I Eat?

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sorry, but i haven't lived in tucson for a few years so i may not know what is "new" these days, although i was there a couple months ago. what i do know is that many restaurants come and go.

that said, check out these threads on chowhound:

http://www.chowhound.com/southwest/boards/...sages/8227.html

http://www.chowhound.com/southwest/boards/...sages/8323.html

also, i forgot to mention hacienda del sol. the dish is (or was) considered one of the better places. i don't recommend cafe terracotta - overpriced half-assed californian cuisine (it may be different now, but cynical me doesn't think so.)

http://www.haciendadelsol.com

http://www.janos.com/index3.html


Edited by oh toro (log)

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Thanks for the additional suggestions and thoughts, oh toro.

I'm following all the links.

Yes, I know what you mean about half-assed California cuisine. I lived in CA for most of my life and other than New York I haven't come across cuisine to rival LA or San Francisco when it comes to that light touch with French-inspired cooking. It's foo-foo but it's good!

Sticking to regional cuisine seems to work best when traveling. Can't beat the ribs in St. Louis, for example or the seafood in New England.

But, that said, I always ask local people, newspaper food writers, etc. for their suggestions. Thankfully eGullet has food-crazed people all over the country for me to rely on!

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Hope this isn't too late, would like to add a few comments:

Cafe Poca Cosa - would concur with Oh Toro about lunch being better. Also, it's much cheaper for lunch than dinner, though you get basically the same kind of food. Go for the "Suzanna's Combination" or whatever they call it - 4 entrees, though your ability to pick is limited. Ask them to serve the salad on the side, otherwise it can obliberate your entrees. I never could figure out why they did it.

El Charro - since this is the first place the appears on a lot of tourist-oriented lists and has a cookbook authored by the Sterns, perhaps the previous posters though it wasn't necessary to mention it or that it was overpublicized. But go anyway - the Carne Seca and Cheese Crisps are really defining Tucson / Sonoran dishes that a lot of other places imitate.

Mariscos Chihuahua - go there for the seafood cocktails. Two locations, one on Grant @ Grande on the west side and the other on 22nd near Reid Park Zoo on the East.

La Parilla Suiza (i.e. The Swiss Grill) on Oracle serves chilaquiles, though perhaps not the kind you are looking for - huge amounts of cheese on it. It's a branch of a Mexico City chain - most people seem to order one of the chorizo / cheese / carne asada combos with plenty of tortillas.

If you want to try the real thing in Sonoran / Arizona fast food, go to any of the Los Betos drive-throughs around town. Order the carnitas burro or torta. The food is not great and the ambience grungy but a huge contrast to Taco Bell if you're looking for things you wouldn't be able to find in Podunk.


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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skchai....no, you're not too late. Not going for a short while but I like to know as much about the food scene before traveling to a new destination.

I've only been to Tuscan once and stayed at Canyon Ranch (fat farm) for the entire week and never ventured out for meals.

Sounds like sticking to regional Mexican cuisine is the way to go, with the exception of Janos, perhaps, for something with a little more ambience.

Thanks again...I'll keep checking the board or feel free to email me with any other thoughts....charcoop@yahoo.com.

Thanks

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Had a fantastic, fabulous, frabjous meal at Café Terra Cotta a few years back. The garlic-hazelnut custard with warm salsa-vinaigrette was outstanding. My sister and I enjoyed it so much we both came away with her cookbook, which is something I've never done in my life.

We stayed at the beautiful Arizona Inn, and the dining there is lovely as well. I don't know that the meal itself is a destination (though it was voted one of Tucson's Ten Best), but the Inn is one of my favorite places on earth. You might enjoy visiting and wandering through the gardens...14 acres of beauty.

Please go to Café Terra Cotta have a garlic custard for me!


Edited by tanabutler (log)

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Appreciate all the suggestions for restaurants near the La Paloma area.

So far JANOS, J-BAR & GRILL AT HACIENDA DEL SOL are the best among those we tried.

SOLEIL was good...though one dish (stripped bass ) fell flat.

I would not recommend CAFE TERRA COTTA .

SO....I would use a suggestion for a lunch spot (authentic Mexican being my first choice) on the way to the airport from La Paloma area.

THANKS

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Did you happen to try Anthony's in the Catalinas while you were in Tucson? If so, what did you think?

As for a Mexican lunch place between La Paloma and the airport... try the lunch location of Cafe Poca Cosa. I've only had dinner at the dinner location (half block south and across the street) but I've heard only good things about the lunch place. It's not Sonoran Mexican food (tacos, burritos, tostadas), but rather a lot more imaginative than that... pork in chipotle plum sauce, that sort of thing. Warning: the chef does not allow special orders - her own little quirk.

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No we didn't get to Anthony's but made Janos our 'fancy dinner' restaurant for a couple of nights along with The Grill at Hacienda Del Sol.

We did find a great little Mexican restaurant for breakfast/lunch...sorry the name escapes me...and that was a treat!

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I'm going to Janos on Saturday.

I'll let you all know.

Bruce

How was Janos?

Anyone have other Tucson suggestions?


"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"

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It seems they are all called "The [something]" Room for some reason. The Gold Room. The Tack Room.

The venerable Tack Room finally closed. End of an era. Truly.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I'm going to Janos on Saturday.

I'll let you all know.

Bruce

How was Janos?

Anyone have other Tucson suggestions?

I have some, depending on how long you're going to be there. One thing I'd recommend is that if you go to Poca Cosa, which you should, order the Poca Cosa 'plate' which is sorta like a chef's choice. You get what the chef thinks is best that day. It's fun, and interesting, and the food is always good.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I have some, depending on how long you're going to be there.  One thing I'd recommend is that if you go to Poca Cosa, which you should, order the Poca Cosa 'plate' which is sorta like a chef's choice. 

We'll be there for 3 full days.


"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"

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I was so happy to see a post on Tucson restaurants! Unfortunately, my husband and I drove out to La Pianola and discovered the restaurant shutdown!!!!!! This was after driving around trying to look for Cafe Poca Rosa which everyone seemed to rave about... as soon as E. Broadway turned one way we got lost. We should have mapquest before we left! Since it's really tough to find good Mexican food in Canada, I am determined to go while I'm down here. Maybe if I can't in Tucon, I will go somewhere in Phoenix on my last night in AZ. Any good suggestion for good Mex in Paradise Valley area?

Last night however, we did have a very delightful dinner at Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort. Their service was incredibly well synchronized and their wine list was impressive (didn't expect this in Tucson!).


ahh where's the button for the fries?

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I'm going to be spending a few days in Tucson, staying with friends. Does anyone have a good suggestion for a nice restaurant I can take them to as a thank-you? Nothing spicy, please.

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i lived in tucson for about 6 months last year while working at canyon ranch. about what part of tucson will you be staying in? i recommend Wildflower. http://www.foxrestaurantconcepts.com/wildflower.html

don't miss the awesome desserts made by Spike, one of Tucson's best pastry chefs.

it's also in the same shopping center as a very nice gelato place named Frost. http://www.frostgelato.com

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Depends how nice you mean-Janos at La Paloma is VERY NICE or J-bar next door is his casual concept.

http://www.janos.com/

I like Bistro Zin on River as a casual restaurant as well.

Bistro Zin

1865 East River Road

Tucson, AZ 85718

P: 520.299.7799

Molto E


Edited by molto e (log)

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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i lived out in tucson for a number of years... close to twenty..too bad about the tack room.it was a great place...mexican food...one major suprise for what was not mentioned...club 21 ..used to be out on oracle road right around the miracle mile turn..it may still be there..may have moved..not sure..but they served fabulous green corn tamales..if they r still around they are not to be missed for that alone...they used to be quite good


a recipe is merely a suggestion

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Hello! I'm a concierge at a premier resort in Tucson. Tucson has a lovely assortment of excellent restaurants.

For fine dining I would highly recommend Janos and The Ventana Room. Janos is located at the Westin La Paloma resort and is a Southwestern restaurant with city views. Janos Wilder, the chef and owner, has received the James Beard award. The Ventana Room is located at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort and is one of only 2 Four-Star restaurants in Tucson. Their specialty is contemporary Continental food. Both have excellent wine lists. Their chef, Phillippe Trosch, is originally from France.

For excellent food in a more casual setting, Cafe Terra Cotta specialises in Southwestern food. Owner and chef Donna Nordin is nationally known as one of the original pioneers of Southwestern cuisine. Cafe Poca Cosa is a unique Mexican restaurant, not the traditional tacos and burritos, but a very fresh menu that is created and changed twice daily by chef and owner Suzana Davila. For traditional Mexican food, La Placita Cafe is a local favourite, with friendly service and excellent seafood specialties.

As far as food-related activities, there is a Farmer's Market on 17th St., near the downtown area. An excellent source for fresh produce, seafood, and especially for spices indigenous to the area that may be difficult to find in other parts of the country/world. Culinary Concepts is a lovely cooking shop that specialises in gadgets and utensils, and also offers ongoing cooking classes. Wild Oats is a chain of speciality grocery markets with gourmet and health foods, some from the local area as well.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

Phone numbers:

Janos (520) 615.6100

Ventana Room (520) 299.2020

Cafe Terra Cotta (520) 577.8100    www.cafeterracotta.com

Cafe Poca Cosa (520) 622.6400

La Placita Cafe (520) 881.1150

17th Street Farmer's Market (520) 792.2588

Culinary Concepts (520) 321.0968    www.culinaryconcepts.net

Wild Oats Market (520) 299.8858    www.wildoats.com

you forgot trader joes and the itlian deli , if i remember correctly i think it was called romas or something to that effect..small hole in the wall place with wonderful smells inside..they also do some great sandwhiches ..all italian style of course...another place not mentioned as a destination...tanque verde swap meet..large flea market..though it has not been on tanque verde for quite some time...i think it moved over to palo vrde... but since its been a while since ive lived out there and have only visited three or four times in the last nine years ( twice last year) you might want to get some oen else to tell you exactly where it is...have fun


a recipe is merely a suggestion

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:smile: I grew up in Tucson but when I was younger my pockets were smaller and my taste buds accepted a lot less if it meant more money to go out with friends. :biggrin: Well I am much older and my palate has changed considerably and after not being in Tucson for over 15 years I am hoping for some good recommendations on where to go now.

For those in the area my parents opened and ran Bobo's Restaurant until my Dad died :sad: and we had to sell the restaurant. I worked there from 7th grade until graduate school--so you might even remember me if you ever went there. Funny I saw a review that had a picture of someone eating my Mom's creation of the Flying Saucer and it was a bit bittersweet. Sad because my Mom created it but also amazing that years after my parents sold the restaurant it still continues to be thrive. But I digress...

We are staying at La Paloma so we plan on eating at Janos one night.

Any good recommendations for Mexican and/or steak houses?

Thanks! I appreciate the help.

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For those in the area my parents opened and ran Bobo's Restaurant until my Dad died  :sad: and we had to sell the restaurant.

We are staying at La Paloma so we plan on eating at Janos one night.

Any good recommendations for Mexican and/or steak houses?

Thanks! I appreciate the help.

I enjoyed breakfast at Bobo's many times back in the day...Robert's and Gus Balon's are still great

Cafe Poca Cosa is a good bet for Mexican. I am sure some of your old fourth avenue favorites have not changed a bit.

Cafe Poca Cosa

88 E Broadway Blvd

Tucson, AZ 85701-1720

(520) 622-6400

Steaks...

McMahon's Steak House

2959 N Swan Rd

Tucson, AZ 85712-1222

(520) 327-2333

There is a Flemings or Sullivans but you can get that anywhere.

Good Eating,

Molto E

p.s. Janos and the more casual J-Bar at your hotel are great choices

maybe Acacia in the St. Philip's Plaza, same place where Cafe Terra Cotta used to be


Edited by molto e (log)

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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I enjoyed breakfast at Bobo's many times back in the day...

Thanks. Perhaps I waited on you (if you ate there 1991 or earlier)! My parents were Bob and Mary...the restaurant has changed hands a few times since my Dad passed. Roberts was always our biggest competitor.

Thank you so much for the suggestions on places to eat as I am sure many things have changed since I have been there so I appreciate it.

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I enjoyed breakfast at Bobo's many times back in the day...

Thanks. Perhaps I waited on you (if you ate there 1991 or earlier)! My parents were Bob and Mary...the restaurant has changed hands a few times since my Dad passed. Roberts was always our biggest competitor.

Thank you so much for the suggestions on places to eat as I am sure many things have changed since I have been there so I appreciate it.

I was there between 86-90...By your hotel there is also Anthony's in the Catalinas, that has a great view over looking town. The Grill at the Hacienda also gets raves and that is minutes away from your hotel as well.


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Yes that was still while my parents owned the place. I worked less at that time as I was in graduate school.

Thank you so much for the recommendations. I'm looking forward to our trip.

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