We’ve had so many people ask us to recommend a good restaurant in Tucson that we decided to put together this list. We also wanted an easy way for people to learn more about each place, and get the address/directions. Click the restaurant name to view the website.
There are three important things to know about food + drink in Tucson:
- Tucson is the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the United States. Tucsonans take eating seriously. We have many, many creative food artisans here, including multiple James Beard award winning chefs. And we have more independently owned restaurants per capita than nearly all major US cities.
- Tucson does amazing things with tacos. If you leave without eating tacos prepared by one of our creative chefs, you have missed the point of eating in Tucson. We've pointed out a few places, but this list of 50 taco places did it so much better than we could.
We make excellent craft beer. In addition to the usual suspects like Hef, IPA, amber, and ale, Tucson brewers make sour ales fermented with cactus fruit, stouts infused with Mexican spices, and other styles that include local ingredients and flavors inspired by the Sonoran Desert.
An asterisk (*) means it’s one of our favorites.
LOCATED WITHIN A 1/2 MILE OF THE AIRSTREAM LIFE RETAIL STORE
Visitors to our retail store often arrive hungry and just want something quick and close by. Here's that list.
Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe (Mexican) - Opened in 1984, traditional Mexican food in a traditional setting. Restaurant is on a hill, with a great view of the Catalina Mountains.
*Dragoon Brewing Co. - One of our top three favorite craft breweries in Tucson. Famous for their many IPAs, pilsners, and ales. No menu; rotating food trucks.
Rusty’s Family Restaurant and Sports Grill - Their website boasts "Delicious foods and comfortable seats.”
Famous Sam’s Sports Grille #10 - Locally owned and operated since 1963.
KG’s Westside Cafe - Small, cozy diner with a breakfast bar. American + Mexican food, open until 2PM.
Subway - Corner of Grant Rd. and Silverbell.
Safeway - Corner of Grant Rd. and Silverbell. If you just want to refill your fridge or grab something from the deli, this is the closest grocery store.
DOWNTOWN + WEST DOWNTOWN
There are so many great places to eat and drink downtown! Park near Broadway and Congress, near The Armory on Sixth Avenue or anyplace in between, and you can walk to everything.
*The Monica (NEW!) - Modern, urban spot with fresh and fast breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch. Indoor/outdoor seating, many options for non-meat eaters.
*Ermanos Craft Beer & Wine Bar - Excellent food and service in a cozy environment surrounded by brick walls and art. Menu faves: Calabrian Buffalo Cauliflower, Elote, Grilled Cheese with Onion Jam. Something like 50 beers on tap, many of them local.
*Mercado San Augustin + MSA Annex - Just half a mile west of I-10 at the Congress St. exit "the Mercado" houses a number of independently owned restaurants and shops around a beautiful courtyard. Next door, the Annex is a collection of independently owned restaurants and shops in shipping containers, oganized around beautifully landscaped areas. If you are biking the Santa Cruz River portion of the Loop, this district is a great stop. Dog friendly.
*Cup Cafe at Hotel Congress - Interesting and eclectic menu served in the historic Hotel Congress. Something for vegetarians, meat lovers, and the gluten-free. Excellent breakfast and brunch menu. They smoke their own meat. Have amazing pies. Offer a terrific wine and cocktail menu. Excellent breakfast and brunch (make a rez for the latter on weekends). Outdoor cafe is dog friendly.
*BOCA Tacos + Tequila - Maria Mazon is a James Beard nominated chef who was born in Tucson and raised in Sonora. Her tacos are a flavor explosion in your mouth. The homemade salsas are to-die for. Great options for veg + meat eaters. If you leave without ordering BOCA Balls you will regret it forever.
*Cafe Luce - More than great coffee, this bright, urban spot has a creative and tasty breakfast and lunch menu. Also a location near Main Gate at UA.
*The Coronet - Seasonally-inspired international cuisine, set in an historic space with a great outdoor dining patio. One of Tothie’s favorite restaurants in Tucson. Owner/chef Erika Bostick-Esham’s menu offers classic sensibilities and creative dishes. Often has jazz on the patio on weekend nights.
Little Love Burger - Modern decor, interestingly-styled burgers and great French fries on a simple, no-nonsense menu. Vegetarians can substitute an Impossible Burger for any burger option!
*REVEL Wine Bar - Hands down the best wine bar in Tucson with a well-curated list that changes often. Offers simple meat/cheese/bread plates but no full menu.
*Penca - Excellent all around comida Mexicana menu (think Mexico City food, not burritos and enchiladas), with an extensive selection of mezcal and tequila served by knowledgeable bartenders.
*1055 Brewing Co. - Great brews and a very tasty, yet small, pub menu. The vibe here is super comfortable, with excellent outdoor seating–the streetcar goes by just feet away from you.
*HUB Restaurant and Ice Creamery - Everything is good here - the atmosphere, the menu, the outdoor seating, and the bar. Try the mac & cheese and the pot pies. Save room for ice cream.
*Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink - Fantastic variety of pizza, oven baked and served in an old mortuary. Don’t worry, the embalming room was downstairs and you’ll be eating upstairs.
Delta Bar & Grill - Opened in early 2022 by the chef of the popular Parish on the northwest side, this place has exceptional atmosphere, genuine Southern cuisine, and service to match. Tapas, salads, entrees and a colorful, hopping bar with craft cocktails. Wonderful outdoor patio. No reservations are accepted; prepare to wait
El Charro - Established 1922 by Monica Flin, it’s the oldest continuously open, family-owned Mexican restaurant in the United States. The food is delicious and they still dry their meat on the roof like in the old days. Traditional, excellent food, great margs, vibrant colors. Be prepared for long waiting times during the winter season.
Charro Steak & del Rey - Two separate restaurants, located next door to each other, both excellent. Owned by the El Charro family. Mesquite grilled steaks and American fare at Charro Steak - which has a vibrant atmosphere and surprisingly good options for non-meat eaters. Charro del Rey is our preference of the two restaurants - eclectic atmosphere and a more diverse menu.
*Barrio Brewing Co. - One of the best hangout spots for beer and pub food, right next to the train tracks. We visit regularly! Dog friendly.
Cafe a la Cart - Amazing pastries and a new American cuisine menu, right next to the Tucson Museum of Art, in the historic block. Popular for Sunday brunch. Great outdoor patio.
*5 Points Market - A local favorite! Amazing menu of hearty and healthy food in a charming neighborhood spot. The chia pudding is some of the best around.
*Nook - Urban breakfast eatery with amazing coffee, pastries, and all around menu. Gets packed on weekends; make a reservation. One of the most interesting outdoor patios downtown.
Obon Sushi and Ramen Bar - Great food in a cool atmosphere, with a wonderful outdoor patio.
Cafe Desta - one of several excellent Ethiopian restaurants in Tucson and the only one downtown. Located next to 5 Points Market at the 5 points intersection.
Miss Saigon - Voted Tucson's best Vietnamese restaurants for 11 years in a row, the downtown location is centrally located.
NEAR CATALINA STATE PARK
Oro Valley is dominated by corporate franchises and generic American food, but there are a few exceptions. Head south on Oracle to the intersection of Oracle and Ina Rd to find these excellent spots.
*Charro Vida Plant+ - Our favorite of the El Charro family restaurants. Amazing menu that pays homage to the owners’ Mediterranean and Sonoran Desert heritage. Great atmosphere, outdoor patio, super creative menu that has many options for vegetarians, vegans, and gluten free.
*Sauce! Pizza & Wine - Fast, fresh, and casual pizza joint with always-friendly service. Order from their creative selection of oven ‘za, panini, salads and more and they bring it to your table.
Teaspoon - Creative, modern eatery for breakfast, brunch, and lunch.
*Wildflower - Modern American menu with flavors from around the world. Owned by a Phoenix restaurant group, this upscale spot is as beautiful as the menu is tasty. Great service, lovely patio.
*Garden Bistro at Tohono Chul - Tohono Chul is the former property of a philanthropic couple that's now a botanical garden, art gallery, and event space. It's lovely cafe serves delicious breakfast, brunch and lunch in a glorious outdoor setting (there is also limited indoor seating). Many options for non-meat eaters.
MIDTOWN / NEAR THE UNIVERSITY
*Tumerico - Fresh, Latin-inspired vegan and vegetarian that will blow your mind–even if you eat meat. Creative smoothies and coffees you can’t find anywhere else. A must-try. 2 locations.
*Flora’s Market Run - Restaurant + upscale grocery with incredible deli/bakery/meat counter and produce section.
*Bisbee Breakfast Club - A fantastic all-around breakfast menu. Locally-owned with several locations in Tucson. Some are paired with their coffee shop, Ombre. The pancakes are out of this world.
*Locale Neighborhood Italian - Delicious food, handmade pasta, and bakery. One of the most glorious and largest outdoor patios in Tucson. Busy so make a res.
*Sushi Garden - You don’t think sushi when you think Tucson, but this place is decent and has a huge menu. We eat at the sushi bar or the bar-bar as the restaurant doesn’t have much atmosphere.
*Falora - One of Tothie’s favorites for its mid-century modern atmosphere, vinyl records, and food. Artisan thin-crust pizza, breads & salads, plus Italian wines, with counter & communal table seats.
Tito & Pep - A neighborhood bistro with a mid-century modern vibe and incredible American modern menu. The website doesn’t have much info on it, so you’ll have to trust us. Plus, the owner/chef was just named a semifinalist for the James Beard award.
The intersection of River Rd. and Campbell has a place called St. Philip’s Plaza. Really cool open space with shops and restaurants and a create farmers/craft market on Saturdays.
*Reforma - Modern Mexican with 300 mescals and tequilas. Terrific food, cozy bar and great outdoor dining.
*Union Public House - All around great bar and American pub food spot. Just what you would expect for a public house. Good place for watching games on TV. Large bar, outdoor dining.
Proof - Artisanal pizza and pasta.
*Arizona Wine Collective - Arizona wines by the glass, flight, or bottle. The Collective serves about 20 different AZ wines from across the state. Great atmosphere and patio. Crackers, meats, cheeses (and the like) but you can order dinner from the restaurants above and have it delivered.
*Seis Kitchen - We love Seis for their to-die-for tacos and regional Mexican cuisine. Just west of Campbell on the north side of River Road. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Great atmosphere and outdoor patio.
Zinburger - A local favorite with excellent burgers and menu. Try one of their delicious milkshakes. Also just west of Campbell on the north side of River Road.
TOTHIE’S FAVORITE CRAFT BREWERIES
Pueblo Vida - One of the best Bavarian Hefs you will find anywhere + a wide range of top notch brews. Very cool urban spot on Broadway downtown.
Dragoon Brewing Co. - Their Dragoon IPA (West Coast style) put Tucson beer on the map.
Barrio Brewing - Their Barrio Blonde (pilsner with a slightly nutty finish due to the Czechoslovakian Saaz hop) is a bestseller and they make a variety of consistently excellent beers. Outdoor patio is dog friendly.
1055 Brewing Co. - Great brews and a very tasty, yet small, pub menu.
Crooked Tooth Brewing Co. - Fun and creative brews with frequent collaborations. Bustling, friendly atmosphere.
Tap & Bottle - Huge selection on tap as well as grab and go. Friendly place for hanging out and listening to music. Original location is downtown in a renovated old space. Second location is at Ina and Oracle.
Ermanos Craft Beer & Wine Bar - Gastropub with 50 beers on tap. Many of them are local but you will also find great picks from breweries like Founders, Bell’s, Stone, Dogfish, etc.