Monday, July 29, 2013

Ten Best Places to Eat in Tucson

Since I've lived in Tucson my entire life, I feel like I've got a pretty good grasp on what this city has to offer. While it's constantly changing and evolving and I'm hunting the next new thing, I do know more about this city than most. Most of these places are also on the list because of sentimental reasons. Many big life events were celebrated at these places. So, this post goes out to anyone wanting to visit Tucson to see what we're all about, because, let's be real, whenever I travel to somewhere new, the first thing I look up is a good place to eat.

1) Eegee's: this is our local fast food chain, only found in Tucson, AZ. It's the place that fast food workers get their start, before moving up to McDonald's. So, the service is terrible and the sandwiches are pretty good, but the reason to stop in is their frozen drinks. Well, they aren't really drinks. It's kind of like a thicker version of a slushie that locals know to only eat with a spoon, not a straw. Three permanent flavors plus a monthly flavor are great to mix and match, especially on a hot summer day. Also, they cater and we ate like cheap kings at my bridal shower.

2) Los Beto's: OK, so Eegee's isn't the only local chain, but it's one of a kind. On the other hand, there are a lot of Mexican food chains around town, but Los Beto's is the best. You know how people go to Philadelphia and try to find the best cheesesteak and it's not in the fancy restaurants but the places where the bag goes clear from the grease? Los Beto's is the border food equivalent. {Sidenote: there are three types of Mexican food in Tucson: 1) Mexico City food, which tends to be fancier and have things like mole 2) Coastal food, focusing on seafood which aren't that great considering the closest coast is six hours away and 3) Border food which is some combination of cheese, tortilla, meat, and beans.} Their portions are huge, come in styrofoam with hot sauce on the side, and are the best bang for your buck.

3) El Charro: This is probably the best Mexico City style restaurant in town, if you go to the downtown one. It's the oldest restaurant in the state and the building has expanded with cute additions over the years. It's great to sit out on the patio on a cool night, eating the never ending baskets of tortilla chips and salsa. The food is good, but the service can be hit or miss, mainly because it's so popular. For better service, go with a bigger group. A party of two can easily be lost in the shuffle. It was the last minute location of our rehearsal dinner when our original (and cheaper) place canceled.

4) Mi Nidito's: This is the best Border style restaurant, not fast food joint, in town. Technically, it's not in town, it's in South Tucson, which is its own city just south of downtown. It can be a bit sketchy at night, which is why this is our lunch spot. Any time there is something to celebrate at work, we head here. It's got its wall of All-Star customers, including President Clinton and people line up at the door before it even opens. The food is simple, but tasty, and worth the bad parking and inevitable wait.

5) Lindy's: the best burger place in town. This is the definition of a hole in the wall restaurant, down on trendy 4th Ave. It feels more like a tattoo parlor inside than a burger joint. The burgers can be gigantic, have dirty names, and are so delicious that I get a cramp every time because I eat it so fast. The wait can be ridiculous (we waited over an hour in the cold at my Bachelorette party), but it's definitely worth it. Mmm, I'm starting to drool thinking about a Hawaii veggie burger with cheese fries...

6) Millie's Pancake Haus: I'm pretty sure this is a German pancake restaurant, annoyingly only open for breakfast and lunch. The interior is lined with duck knick-knacks, carved wooden booths, and the feeling that you're grandma is cooking in the kitchen. It's my favorite breakfast place in town when I want breakfast food in the AM. Somehow, the waffles are crispy and golden brown, yet fluffy and moist, and impossible to resist with apple topping. Even though it's so far from campus, it's where our families celebrated after Dan and I graduated from college.

7) Traildust Town: this isn't technically just a restaurant. It's two restaurants, a chocolates shop, several gift shops, a carousel, and an arcade. Traildust Town is a old western style 'town' in the center of town. You can get a great hunk of meat in their steakhouse or celebrate your 26th birthday over a big bowl of fancy pasta in their cafe. It's a wonderful place to spend the evening, especially a date night, when you want something different than dinner and a movie. Grab some dinner, ride the tiny train and the carousel, pick out candies in the chocolates shop, and finish it off with some old fashion video game rifle shooting.

8) Little Anthony's Diner: classic Americana. When I don't feel like driving all the way across town to Lindy's for a burger or when I want the best shake imaginable, we head to Little Anthony's. Great diner food and pizza. Amazing and gigantic shakes. Car shows in the summer, character cut-outs, and the best part? The comedy theater right next where you can order the full menu while watching a great performance. And for the sentimental attachment, we had our engagement pictures taken here during one of their car shows.

9) Guadalajara Grill: this is probably Dan's favorite restaurant. The food is pretty standard, yummy Mexican food. The main thing that sets this place apart is that they make your salsa for you at your table. It. is. awesome. It can be as mild or as spicy as you want it. Plan on filling up on chips and salsa and taking whatever you order home.

10) Pin-Up Pastries Food Truck: the best whoopie pies ever. This one technically isn't a restaurant, but it's one of the best dessert places in town. I follow this food truck on facebook and whenever they are within a fifteen minute drive, I grab some cash and speed off for a salted caramel whoopie pie. If I could cook half as good as their whoopie pies taste, I'd be 100% happy with that.

So, there you go. The best places to eat in town. Trust me.

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