While different cities have various accolades when it comes to food, there’s no denying that Tucson’s food scene is a hidden gem among the more touted cities. You’d be hard-pressed to find a city with better restaurant options than here in the Old Pueblo.
So where do you go to eat like a local in Tucson? To help out, here are a few of the best spots, as well as what you’ll find there.
Let’s be honest: It’s hard to make a Tucson must-try restaurant list without including eegee’s. That’s like making a list of the best basketball players of all time and leaving off Michael Jordan. But seriously, though: At eegee’s, we pride ourselves as being one of the city’s top places to go for delicious subs, salads, fries and our iconic frozen deliciousness aptly named the eegee. Take your friends, your family, your friend’s family and head a block or two to the nearest location. Don’t worry, we know you’ll be back for more! Each month, we debut a new eegee flavor that you can only get that month and our fans flock to the drive-thru to get their flavor fix before it’s gone. Oh, and trust us when we say you want the ranch fries. Our mouths are watering just talking about it! No, seriously.
So just how big is the eegee’s cult? Well, with now over 25 restaurant locations here in Arizona, it’s becoming a secret hard to keep. The majority of our restaurants are located in the Tucson area (Bear Down!) with an additional location in Casa Grande. Several new restaurants have been announced recently, with two more restaurants sprouting in Tucson and several others destined for metro Phoenix. The universe will soon be ours!
The hotel itself is legendary. Tucked into the Catalina Foothills, this hotel is everything Tucson and so much more. You’ll instantly feel the old west vibe that breathes throughout the grounds. While the best way to experience the hotel is to book yourself a room, even if you’re not staying the night, you can still enjoy some truly exceptional food at The Grill at Hacienda del Sol.
The outdoor seating area provides some of the best views of the mountains, which is picture perfect most days of the year (outside of the occasional rainstorm during monsoon season, but even then the smell of fresh rain is refreshing in itself).
So stop by for your favorite cut of meat and then make sure you have time set aside to walk the grounds and discover one of the most beautiful hotels in all of the American Southwest.
Who doesn’t love a throwback 50’s diner? From the design of the building to the glow of vibrant neon lights on the exterior, there’s just something magical about it. Little Anthony’s Diner takes this to the next level. It’s one of the larger diners you’ll find, and as soon as you walk through the doors you’ll be wanting to jump and jive to some killer swing music almost immediately.
And if you’d rather leave dancing to the professionals you have the historic Gaslight theater next door, so whether you grab dinner and then head in for the show, or you do the show first and then grab a meal, when it comes to favorite Tucson restaurants, it’s hard to beat this joint.
This historic Mexican restaurant officially turns 100 next year. Yes, you read that right. The restaurant is 100 years old. If you were to look around the United States for not only 100-year-old restaurants, but century-old restaurants that have been in the family from day one, you might only need two hands to count the limited number of restaurants (we do know it is the oldest continually family-owned Mexican restaurant in the entire country).
When a Mexican restaurant in a sea of Mexican restaurants is able to stand out for 100 years, it means it absolutely is doing something right. Plus, how often are you able to go to a restaurant where a particular fan-favorite food item was invented?
In this case, it’s the chimichanga. You’ve probably had a chimichanga more than a few times in your life. So why not grab one where it all began? The word chimichanga basically means “thingamajig,” and while the chimichanga at El Charro is so much more than that, it’s a true legend in the culinary world and is absolutely something you need to try out at least once while in Tucson.
Lindy’s on 4th is a rather interesting burger joint. This particular location is king to the oversized, unique burgers. You know, the kind of burgers that attract food lovers who want to partake in crazy eating competitions. It’s exactly what brought Man vs Food and other Food Network programs to Lindy’s on 4th.
What’s interesting is Lindy, the man behind the restaurant, no longer runs it (although his old family does and all the recipes are the same). However, Lindy’s has opened up several other burger joints around Tucson. You’ll find Thunderbacon Burger Co. also on 4th Avenue, which Lindy (his full name is Lindon Reilly) opened and is now running, although it’s not made up of the oversized, overstuffed burgers.
The great thing about burgers is you’ll probably always be hungry for one. So check out Lindy’s one day, and one of Lindon’s joints on another.
This is a recent addition to the food scene here in Tucson. It also has a unique partnership with the University of Arizona’s School of Agriculture. The school provides fresh produce to the restaurant (almost all of the ingredients are locally sourced), which makes it one of the most “Tucson” restaurants based on what kind of ingredients the restaurant uses.
It’s by using these locally sourced ingredients that Charrovida is a certified Tucson City of Gastronomy location, which is something the city of Tucson provides restaurants in the city that take advantage of local farmers and manufacturers in order to provide farm to table Tucson food.
We could create an entire list of the best Mexican restaurants here in town. And even if we listed a dozen various restaurants there would still be some we missed, because not only does everyone have their own favorite, but often you need to pick the Mexican joint based on the kind of food you’re hungry for. For instance, do you want flour or corn tortillas, fish or steak or tripe tacos, or are you feeling more Gulf seafood or Pacific seafood-style Mexican? What kind of salsa do you like?
This list is simply a starting point for restaurants here in the city, but really the best way to discover a new favorite is by getting out and trying different restaurants on your own. And, of course, when you need a break and want to grab an old reliable, fan-favorite, you always have a local eegee’s ready to serve you up something delicious.