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Tucson Area Restaurants

 
  Categories
  Star Ratings
  Price Range*
Uniquely Tucson The very best in the region Inexpensive (less than $35)
Romantic Distinguished; many outstanding features Moderate (between $35 and $65)
Family Fun Excellent; some wonderful qualities Expensive (between $65 and $100)
Good Value A good place Very expensive (more than $100)
* Based on dinner for two, with dessert, tax, and tip (no alcohol).

Anthony's In The Catalinas  
6440 N. Campbell Avenue; 520/299-1771
In the mountain skies above North Campbell Avenue, a new star can be hung for Anthony's in the Catalinas. Boasting a magnificent view of both the mountains and city lights, Anthony's offers an enticing variety of appetizers, but the list of 26 entrees is sweet torment for the indecisive.

Blue Willow

2616 N. Campbell Avenue; 520/327-7577
Enjoy beautiful patio dining at this full-service restaurant featuring vegetarian dishes, breakfast specialties, homemade soups, dinner specials, and fabulous desserts. $; Open Mon.-Thurs. 7 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri. 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Sun. 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

Bluepoint Kitchen and Bar
2905 E. Skyline Drive; 520/577-6000
This urban kitchen & bar showcases one of Tucson's finest selections of fresh seafood, prime steaks and more in intimate surrounds with a clubby feel. An interesting drink list includes premium cocktails and an award-winning wine list with many choices by the glass. Bluepoint is an ideal destination for lunch, dinner or late night dinning. Daily 11:00 a.m. - midnight.
 
Bistro Zin
1865 E. River Road; 520/299-7799
The award-winning restaurant features French inspired bistro fare with a modern American twist. The excellent food, impeccable service and hip atmosphere have made Bistro Zin one of the most popular places to wine and dine in Tucson. Bistro Zin's wine list offers more than 60 wines by the glass as well as the popular tasting - "fights"- three wines from different vintners that are related in style. The speciality martini menu is not to be missed. Serving lunch Mon-Sat: 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. & dinner daily 5:00 pm-11:30 p.m. Reservations are suggested.
 
Cafe Poca Cosa
88 E. Broadway Blvd. (Clarion Santa Rita Hotel); 520/622-6400
Mexican food can be much more sophisticated and complex than Arizona's Sonoran-style restaurants suggest, and chef-owner, Suzana Davila, proves that every day by featuring alta cocina Mexicana, the high cuisine of Mexico that seldom makes it past the US border. Nobody gets bored, visually or gastronomically, at this wildly exotic cafe, where red and purple walls are hung with Mexican folk art and the chalkboard menu changes twice a day, every day. Moles (26 of them) are Davila's specialty but she's equally famous for her pork with plums in chipotle sauce, and tamale pie with habanero cream and mangos. Lucky for you, the Tia Maria-spiked chocolate mousse makes the list every blessed day.

Cafe Terra Cotta -
3500 E. Sunrise Drive; 520/577-8100
Donna Nordin and Don Luria created this comfortable venue for Southwestern Cuisine in 1984, and although the restaurant has moved to fancier bi-level digs in the Santa Catalina foothills, the ambience still says "come-as-you-are" (barring nudity and exceptionally bad taste). And locals do, bringing out-of-town guests to soak up the casual atmosphere created by Southwest art, copper accents and cactus. Two roomy patios encourage lolling over colorful margaritas (try the prickly pear) or Luria's extensive selection of Zinfandels (his grape fave). Nordin's garlic custard appetizer, served with warm salsa vinaigrette and herbed hazelnuts, made the cover of Bon Appetit. But there are plenty of other picture-worthy selections here, including wood-fired pizzas, spicy pork tenderloin adobado, goat cheese-stuffed prawns with tomato coulis and a lusty vegetarian platter that hardly brings virtue to mind. $$-$$$$; Lunch and dinner every day; no checks; full bar; reservations recommended.

El Charro Mexican Cafe
311 N Court Ave; 520/622-1922
Although many locals swing by the newer Broadway location for a Mexican food fix and weekend dancing, it's the original downtown site that draws tourists and historical romantics. Built of lava rock, this old house—listed on the National Historic Register—is cluttered with vintage calendars and relics of Tucson's territorial past. Whether you opt for dark coziness inside or the sunny, fountain-furnished patio, a festive margarita should be your first order of business. The restaurant not only offers an extensive list of premium tequilas but has also written the book (literally) on margarita making. Make a meal of hearty Sonoran standbys such as green corn tamales, sour cream enchiladas and carne seca, a beef specialty dried on the restaurant's roof. Then drop by the gift shop for Southwestern tchotchkes and El Charro cookbooks that explain how to duplicate all this deliciousness at home. $; Lunch and dinner every day; no checks; full bar; reservations recommended (must be made one day in advance).

Gavi Italian Restuarant
7865 E Broadway Blvd; Suite #165, 520/290-8380; 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd; 520/219-9200; 6960 E Sunrise Dr; 520/615-1900
All three of these friendly Italian restaurants are consistently crowded for three obvious reasons: the food is well prepared, reasonably priced and gigantically portioned. Pasta stars here, with at least a dozen different selections of spaghetti alone, but the menu also features legendary calamari, creamy mussels and shrimp Serenata, and combo plates of eggplant, veal or chicken Parmesan. Kids will love the green and white soccer-themed decor (featuring uniforms from around the world) almost as much as the s'ghetti, but they may be less than thrilled over the inevitable wait. Call ahead to put your name on the waiting list before driving to the restaurant; it'll cut tick-tock testiness in half. $$: Lunch and dinner every day; no checks; full bar (no blended drinks); reservations for parties of six or more.

India Oven
2727 N. Campbell Avenue; 520/ 326-8635
Features a wonderful array of Indian food, including vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Great samosas, excellent lunch buffet. Offers a full bar with Indian beer and wine. Voted best of Tucson in '95, '96, '97 and runner-up in '98. $

Janos -
3770 E. Sunrise Drive (The Westin La Paloma); 520/615-6100
Although Tucson's dining scene gets more sophisticated by the minute, Janos Wilder is still the city's brightest culinary star. His eponymously-named restaurant, once a downtown fixture, is now ensconced in high-ceilinged, Spanish Colonial splendor at the Westin La Paloma Resort, which provides a more refined setting for Wilder's French-inspired Southwest cuisine. The seasonal menu features indigenous ingredients in elaborate presentations, and is so dazzling that decision-making can be difficult. Will it be lamb with pomegranate sauce, shrimp mojo de ajo with chiltepin salsa, or chicken with habanero-pepito pesto and cornbread pudding? Make life simple and go for the 6-course tasting menu, paired with wines culled from an award-winning list that favors boutique wineries. When you're feeling carefree (and a little less flush), head for J Bar, Wilder's Latin grill adjacent to Janos. The Mexican-influenced menu here gives you Janos distinction at half the price (plus excellent views from the patio). $$$-$$$$; Dinner Mon-Sat; no checks; full bar; reservations recommended.

Kingfisher -
2564 E Grant Road; 520/323-7739
Seafood in the desert is not an oxymoron at Kingfisher, a funky neon-lit roadhouse that specializes in regional American cooking and bi-coastal seafood in particular. No place in town offers a better selection of fresh oysters, while the shrimp cakes, dappled with lemon-horseradish aioli and sriracha (Vietnamese hot sauce) are a menu staple. Hearty partiers can drop by after 10 pm (when the rest of Tucson has gone to bed) for Kingfisher's substantial late-night menu, offered until midnight every night. By the way, meat-and-potatoes types can make do very nicely with baby back ribs basted in prickly pear sauce, or Kingfisher's hamburgers, deemed the best for miles around. $$-$$$; Lunch Mon-Fri, dinner and late-night menu every day; no checks; full bar; reservations recommended.

La Fuente Restaurant & Lounge
1749 N. Oracle Road.;520/623-8659
La Fuente is one of Arizona's finest Mexican restaurants. This family-owned restaurant has been a tradition since 1960. Decorative plants and artifacts from Mexico recall the atmosphere of Mexico City and Acapulco. Combines beautiful surroundings with fine cuisine, music, hospitality and warmth. $-$$

Maya Quetzal
429 N. 4th Ave.; 520/622-8207
Chile relleno filled with cheese, spinach, and walnuts, boneless breast of chicken simmered in a flavorful cilantro sauce, traditional black beans and rice. Guatemalan owner/chef Sandra Salazar believes creative cooking, generous portions, and an informal atmosphere combine to offer a real experience of her country. Patio dining. No smoking. $ open daily for lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and dinner from 5-8:30 p.m.


North
2995 E. Skyline Drive in the La Encantada Center; 520/299-1600
North features Modern Italian Cuisine & impeccable hospitality in a chic urban loft setting. The fabulous bar & dining room, intimate private dining room and sofa seating on the patio are matched only by the breathtaking views of the city of Tucson. The excellent menu features specialties from the wood fired oven including Fire Roasted Steak "Delmonico," Frilled artichokes, fabulous thin crust pizza, seasoned fresh fish, pastas & more. Offering award-winning food with a wine list to match. North is open daily for lunch and dinner beginning at 11:00 a.m.
 
Soleil
3001 E. Skyline Drive, Suite 133, 520/299-3345
Soleil offers casual-chic dinning in an art-filled foothills setting with spectacular city & mountain views. Enjoy award-winning cuisine by Chef Michael Powell, which features seasonal specialties. Notable entrees include Caramelized Maine Diver Sea Scallops with Asian Vegetable Roll & Mandarin Orange Sauce, Filet Mignon with Fricassee of Sweet Corn & Shitake Mushrooms, Pan Roasted Sea Bass with Fines Herbs Potato Cake & Fresh Morels, Honey Glazed Duck Breast with Lingonberry Sauce. Champagne by the glass at Tucson's only Champagne Bar, well-priced wine, patio dining & private party accomodations available. Serving lunch and dinner.
Grill Hacienda del Sol
5601 N. Hacienda del Sol Road (Hacienda del Sol Resort); 520/529-3500
Housed in an historic resort that was once a finishing school for girls, the wood-beamed rusticity of The Grill exudes old Arizona charm. What impresses locals more than the Spanish Colonial architecture or punctuation points of cactus, however, is the breadth of the award-winning wine list and the great bar, known for its eminently slurpable martinis. Live jazz on the weekends, and classical or Flamenco guitarists on Wednesday nights, keep this place jumping all week long. The four-course champagne Sunday brunch ($29.95) is justifiably popular, while the weekday New American menu, which changes seasonally, features everything from excellent cioppino to mint/zinfandel glazed rack of lamb and dry-aged New York strip with ancho chile chutney. Another plus? The Grill just may the best place in town to catch a glorious Arizona sunset. $$$; Dinner every day, brunch Sun; no checks; full bar; reservations recommended.

Ventana Room
7000 N Resort Drive (Loews Ventana Canyon Resort); 520/299-2020
When romance is the objective and money is no object, make reservations for a window-side table at this quietly elegant resort restaurant nestled in the foothills, overlooking Tucson's city lights. Gracious service and fine wines are hallmarks of this plush, but contemporary room, decorated in muted jewel tones and softened by the music of a classical guitarist. Chef de Cuisine Jeffrey Russell does a little wowing of his own, offering signature New American dishes, such as grilled Dover sole in herbed truffle beurre blanc and mixed grill of game (elk, venison and organic partridge, for example) served with spinach spaetzle and Cabernet game jus. For a livelier evening, make reservations at the chef's table, where you can chat with the chef, appreciate the bustle of a working kitchen and watch your dinner being prepared. $$$$; Dinner Mon-Sat; no checks; full bar; reservations highly recommended.
 
Vivace Restaurant
4301 N. Campbell Avenue; 520/795-7221
Daniel Scordato, the proprietor of this contemporary Italian cuisine trattori, offers a casual and unique setting in Tucson. Established as one of Tucson's premier eateries, fare includes the light seafood entrees, as well as innovative pastas.

Wildflower Grill
7037 N. Oracle Road; 520/219-4230
Looking for a quiet, romantic dinner? Better bypass this lively New American bistro, where fresh flowers, a trompe l'oeil ceiling of fluffy clouds and eye-popping pictures of Gerbera daisies belie the decidedly urban flavor of Tucson's favorite hangout. Here's where the young and restless (as well as the middle-aged and moneyed) gather for a wine list with depth and 30 wines by the glass. Raves go to the ethereal warm Maine lobster salad drizzled with white truffle vinaigrette, and to the earthier center-cut pork chop served in port wine reduction with caramelized apples, mashed potatoes and wilted spinach. Save room for the fabulous dessert list and consider ordering creme brulee or cheesecake, both of which are subject to startling flavor infusions, such as Earl Grey or cappuccino respectively. Wildflower's new sister restaurant, the white-hot Bistro Zin (1865 E. River Road; 520/299-7799), draws a hip crowd with its supper club/wine bar atmosphere and French-inspired American bistro food. $$$; Lunch Mon-Sat, dinner every day; local checks only; full bar; reservations recommended.









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