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Mexican Food Generally and in Tucson, Question for Hounds at the End.

Well, seeing as I'm the only local CH here, I'll put some perspective here for you.

I have not eaten at Cafe Poca Cosa. I have yet to meet another local who has eaten at Cafe Poca Cosa. There's a reason for this.

It's a tourist trap. Promoted by the city's tourism board, pimped out on national travel programs and in magazines.

Tucson does Sonoran Mexican food extremely well - the cuisine of the Northern Mexican state that borders Arizona. The food of Sonora is the food of the vaqueros and rancheros - carne asada, carne seca, machaca, etc. The food at Poca Cosa is nothing like that at all.

And yes, RobConnoley is right, there are a few places downtown that got 'sweetheart deals' from the city, which is bull, because a lot of the newer, much better places have been screwed out of their downtown businesses because of rent.

I'm sorry you got lured into the tourist trap that is Cafe Poca Cosa. There are plenty of far, far better places here in Tucson.

Tucson Mexican with gringo friendly dishes

I highly recommend Poco and Mom's for breakfast. Excellent New Mexican-style breakfasts with the heat and flavor you want, and a 'traditional' American breakfast side for your husband.

Their Chile Rellenos are some of the best in town, and are available for breakfast.

Jan 09, 2015
missvenuz in Southwest

Looking for excellent Hawaiian and Vietnamese

Hi LV-based Chowhounders,

I'm getting married in LV next weekend, and my future husband and I are going to spend the week in town.

We both love Hawaiian food (he lived on the Big Island for 4 years), but it is a cuisine that we are deprived of in our city.

So, my question to you fine CH-ers is, where is da local grinds? We would be happy with a great plate lunch, but somewhere that served high quality poke would make our trip. We do have a car available and are willing to drive up to a half hour from the Strip.

We are also big into Vietnamese cuisine, so any place that serves a good banh mi would be appreciated as well.

Mahalo in advance!

Dec 11, 2014
missvenuz in Las Vegas

The Wedding Won't Go On Without Your Help!!!! [Tucson]

Well, that's nice and all, but OP is having around 80 people...that's not a 'traditional rehearsal invite list'. Does Penca even hold 80 people? They surely don't have a private room for a party that large. Also, parking near Penca should be a mess as well, no?

Sep 14, 2014
missvenuz in Southwest

The Wedding Won't Go On Without Your Help!!!! [Tucson]

Okay, I now see why you are having a hard time here, with no real contacts/connections to anyone who lives here in town. We call older folks that live here half the year "snowbirds", definitely not real residents.

$75/head with alcohol will get you quite far here, so that should work.

La Cocina, although I have not been to it personally, has somewhat mixed reviews, and since it is in a courtyard in downtown, makes me think that there may not be enough space for your party. Also, same problem with the parking.

A Friday night in April downtown is probably going to be an issue parking-wise any way you look at it.

On the other side of I-10 from downtown (and on a streetcar stop) is Augustin Kitchen, in the revamped Mercado San Augustin. CIA graduate Ryan Clark heads the kitchen, and they have fun cocktails, locally minded food. A nice space as well.

Further away from downtown is Union Public House. It is a gastro-pub with great food, good alcohol selection, a nice atmosphere, and they do private events. And it is on the way back to La Paloma from downtown, has plenty of parking, and will have enough room. It is not Southwestern, but it should fit the bill. I would also check out Old Pueblo Grille anyway, since they do Southwestern fusion.

I hope for your sake that the wedding is in the beginning of April and not the end of April - the difference in temperature is stark.

Will still check this thread daily to answer any other questions.

Aug 28, 2014
missvenuz in Southwest

The Wedding Won't Go On Without Your Help!!!! [Tucson]

No, I think you're missing the right restaurant by trying to find "pretty enough" and "middle of town" and "affordable". As I said, Tucsonans only care if the food is GOOD and REASONABLE. "Pretty" does not add to the equation.

There are plenty of gorgeous restaurants with fantastic views in the Foothills part of town, but after living here for nearly 15 years, I have not found them to be worth the money or the drive.

A few other options come to mind, however - Penca does Mexico City food, and has floor to ceiling windows that look onto downtown. The Cup Cafe inside of Hotel Congress is lovely and historic, but might be too pricey for what you are looking for.

Also in a completely different direction, legendary pizzaolo Chris Bianco (of Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, multiple James Beard awards, etc.) has opened his first outpost of Pizzeria Bianco in downtown Tucson. You could opt to rent out the restaurant for the evening, though I do not know if that is possible. But once again, it is pizza and salads, parking will be a nightmare, and it could be over your budget.

Basically, central/downtown rents are high, especially with the Rio Nuevo development and new streetcar, and the prices of the food reflects that.

Also, Tucson is kind of an odd place to get married for out-of-towners - do your son and future daughter-in-law live down here? Also, what is your budget? I'm racking my brain trying to give you ideas here, and I'm more than happy to do so.

Aug 27, 2014
missvenuz in Southwest

The Wedding Won't Go On Without Your Help!!!! [Tucson]

Well, seeing as I'm the only person who has posted on this board who actually lives here, I've got a few ideas for you.

Old Pueblo Grille might not be a bad choice, they have a nice outdoor space and all right food (most of which reflects the Southwest).

El Charro downtown can probably do that. Not a lot of locals hit up El Charro, but the out-of-town crowd seems to like it a lot.

El Minuto (also downtown) is probably better than El Charro, but it's not exactly a beautiful restaurant.

Honestly, you will not find beautiful, affordable AND reflects Southern Arizona anywhere in Tucson. We like our food here to taste good and be reasonable - and our best restaurants reflect that. Ambiance is simply not a priority. Old Pueblo Grille is likely your best bet.

Aug 26, 2014
missvenuz in Southwest

Tucson - Proper and Diablo Burger

Not surprised about Diablo Burger. $14 is a lot for mediocrity. Much better expensive burgers at Zinburger on the north side.

Jul 30, 2014
missvenuz in Southwest

Kitchen Goods Stores in Tucson

If you want a selection of good quality knives, there is a Williams-Sonoma store at La Encantada, which carries Global, Wustof, and J.A. Henkels knives.

Mar 12, 2014
missvenuz in Southwest

Tucson Fancy Lady Lunch with Great View?

Okay. Two places in particular come to mind.

North Fattoria - Housemade pastas, great wine list, good views of the city. La Encantada.

Blanco - "Mexican" (tacos, burritos, enchiladas, margaritas, etc.), same views as North, large tequila list. Also at La Encantada.

If it were me, I would not bother with Blanco. I don't feel as though they do great Sonoran Mexican in a city filled with excellent (and frankly, cheaper) Mexican. However, if you're just looking for something with a Sonoran bent that's decent but not extraordinary, Blanco might just fit the bill.

Both places are about $12-20 for mains.

Jan 18, 2014
missvenuz in Southwest

Tucson Fancy Lady Lunch with Great View?

Could you be a bit more specific? There are a lot of places in Tucson with good food and a view.

What cuisines are you looking for? Where will you be staying? How far are you willing to drive? Any dietary restrictions? How much are you willing to spend?

Jan 18, 2014
missvenuz in Southwest

Tucson Mexican?

Although I have not been, plenty of good things have been said about Penca (50 E. Broadway).

Jan 16, 2014
missvenuz in Southwest

Is Yoeme Cafe in Tucson Closed?

It's definitely closed, and has been for a while now. Nothing has been in that building since 2010.

Dec 23, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Going to be in Tucson for a week over Christmas w kids 6 and 9...need recs for kid friendly and relatively cheap eats (without resorting to greasy chains). Thanks!!

Could you be a bit more specific? Any foods the kids like/dislike? Where in town you're staying? How far you're willing to drive?

Dec 22, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Artisan Cheese in Tucson

Well, that's probably the best we've got right now, sadly. Sorry it didn't work out that well.

Nov 29, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Artisan Cheese in Tucson

Your best bet is the cheese counter at the new-ish Whole Foods at River and Craycroft. They will let you try any cheese they have, and the folks that are working there are extremely knowledgeable.

Nov 26, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Tucson Great Eats and Food Shopping

If you're into fish, I recommend a trip to any of the Mariscos Chihuahua restaurants in town for inexpensive ceviche, marlin tacos, and uniquely sauced shrimp and fish plates.

As others have said, you are close to the two best high-end grocery stores in Tucson - AJ's Fine Foods and the new-ish Whole Foods.

If you can make it into town for sushi, I definitely recommend Yamato at 1st and Grant.

Also, if you have the time, be sure to head down to downtown Tucson. A lot has changed in the last 5 years, and quite a few high-quality bars and restaurants have opened.

Oct 21, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Where to find premium/artisan pork in Southern Arizona?

Have you tried the meat purveyors at the St. Philip's Plaza Sunday farmers market? There are a few local ranches (ie, from south and east of Tucson) that sell various cuts from various animals.

That said, if you go up to the meat counter at AJ's Fine Foods, they will order ANYTHING you want.

Hope this helps.

Oct 21, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Restaurants near ritz dove mountain [Tucson]

Ouch. That's going to be a bit difficult, to be honest. The really good Mexican places are going to be at least a 40-60 minute drive from Dove Mountain.

And, looking at nicer options such as Jax Kitchen and The Abbey...you're still looking at a 40 minute drive.

All of these estimates are without traffic, by the way. I had a roommate who used to regularly commute from Marana to her job in Tucson, and it would take her 45 minutes on a good day.

Generally, folks who end up staying at Dove Mountain stay there because they want to really get away or they want to play golf. Most of us who live here don't live anywhere near Dove Mountain - it's not practical unless you work there.

ALL OF THAT SAID, there is a Mariscos Chihuahua at 4185 W Ina Road, about 24 minutes without traffic. Excellent Mexican seafood, reasonable prices. The camarones in either the culichi or mojo de ajo sauce are excellent. Great ceviche, too.

May 09, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Restaurants near ritz dove mountain [Tucson]

What do you consider to be 'not too far away'? I have plenty of suggestions, but that depends on how far you're willing to drive.

May 09, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Pizzeria Bianco opening a location in TUCSON!

Saw this on the Tucson Weekly today.


IMHO, this is excellent news. It's nice to see that better chefs are seeing Tucson as a good place to set up shop, instead of the myriad of fast-casual burger chains.

Apr 16, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Tucson, it's been a while since I've gone out for a nice, celebratory dinner. Any rec's for places you've been to recently?

Greetings, Chowhounders.

My boyfriend and I are celebrating our 2 year anniversary next week, and I haven't had a clue of where to go. Last year, we had a spectacular meal at Maynard's, but I think we should go try somewhere else. We tend to eat at home a lot and when we do go out, it's usually for Vietnamese, Korean or other relatively inexpensive, homely fare. We're not picky at all, have quite a large budget, and are just looking for something nice and different.

Have you had a great, mid to high end romantic meal here recently? I'd love to know where and what you had.

Thank you!

Apr 09, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Tucson Qs

Glad you enjoyed Mariscos Chihuahua. I always send guests to one of their locations.

I've lived in Tucson for over a decade, and I've never been to/never recommended Poca Cosa for that reason. It can't be that great, especially when there are so many amazing Mexican restaurants in town.

If you come back for another visit, try staying a bit closer to town. The Lodge on the Desert is an awesome boutique hotel with one of Tucson's best upcoming chefs at the helm, and it's right in the heart of the city.

Apr 04, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Tucson, where to buy lamb shoulder?

You might want to try Babylon Market on Speedway east of Alvernon. They are a Halal market with a small but lamb-heavy butcher counter.

Apr 04, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Yamato. Extraordinary Sushi and Ramen in Tucson

You're welcome for the recommendation. ;)

Apr 04, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Kosher for Passover Matzo in Tucson?

Nevermind - I found some at the Fry's on 22nd. Apparently I did not give my gentile boyfriend sufficient enough instructions. ;)

Thank you, though!

Mar 28, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Asian and Korean options in Tucson/Pima county?

I highly recommend Kimchi Time on Broadway between Tucson and Country Club (over by Laff's). Korean owners. Korean chef. The chef makes his own gochujang, doenjang, and ssamjang. No grilling at the table, but the food is extraordinary. Best Korean food I've had outside of Los Angeles, and I grew up in a Korean-heavy neighborhood.

Mar 27, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

Kosher for Passover Matzo in Tucson?

I've gone to several grocery stores in town that claim to have matzo (Safeway, Fry's) that's kosher for passover, but there was none.

Does anyone know of a place that has some as of now? I'm in a bind here, and 5th Street Deli is closed for the holiday.

Thanks folks.

Mar 27, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest


A few places that I like for drinks are the following:

Kon Tiki. (http://www.kontikitucson.com/) Virtually unchanged since 1963, an old school true Polynesian bar with strong inexpensive drinks to match. Friday and Saturday are busy days. $4 appetizers and a free buffet during happy hour.

The Shelter. (http://thesheltercocktaillounge.com/) Also straight out of the 60's with plenty of JFK memorabilia, unique cocktails and a fun atmosphere.

I'm also partial to the cocktails at Lodge on the Desert, a little pricey but Chef Ryan Clark has won the World Margarita Championship before.

This is a city that loves it's dive bars, so don't expect a super fancy atmosphere. Enjoy your trip!

Mar 27, 2013
missvenuz in Southwest

What was the most memorable thing you ate in Hawaii?

Yeah, I've never used relish or anything sweet (except a little shredded carrot)...because I know it's not sweet.

However, I use Best Foods in large quantities when I make it, but there's some strange vinegary-sweet taste anyway, which is why I can't seem to get it right.

I've been thinning it out with milk, which has been helping a bit. Still not quite there, though.

Jan 28, 2013
missvenuz in Hawaii