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Tucson is experiencing a boom in great restaurants getting excellent reviews. High on our list include:

Maynards Market and Kitchen: I highly recommend the attractive restaurant and the attached market featuring over 40 Arizona vendors of quality food products. I had a great brunch in the restaurant. It is located in an historic railroad depot on the East side of Downtown. The Tucson Farmer’s Market is held on the plaza every Saturday.

Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails: Located at 135 S. 6th Street, this is a perfect spot for dinner downtown. I had a great meal and great service. Chef Janos Wilder received The James Beard Foundation award as the top chef in the Southwest in 2000. This restaurant is his most recent addition to the Tucson restaurant scene.

Playground: After dinner checkout the rooftop bar at Playground at 278 East Congress, across from the Historic Hotel Congress.

Café Poca Cosa, 110 E Pennington: I had a great meal in this restaurant recommended by The New York Times. The chef, Suzana Davilia, prepares innovative Mexican cuisine in a chic, contemporary space.

La Cocina, at Old Town Artisans downtown, is a fun spot for Mexican and Southwestern specialties.

El Charro, 311 N. Court St.: This is America’s oldest Mexican restaurant, operated by the same family since 1922.

Epic Café, 745 N 4th: I tried the café for a mid-afternoon snack at the suggestion of the New York Times. It had a fun vibe. The staff was very helpful in helping me find some other Tucson areas to explore. It is located on the street car line of 4th Street.

Mercado San Agustin: My new favorite is the popular, public market at 100. S. Avenida del Convento, at the corner of W. Congress west of the interstate and downtown. Here you will find 12  locally owned shops and restaurants. There is a Thursday Farmer’s Market, a weekend brunch and other special events and concerts.

There is La Estrella Bakery for traditional Mexican pastries and pan dulce, San Agustin Trading Company featuring Native American crafts and jewelry, Dolce Pastello featuring Mexican home-made cakes and tamales. Sonoran Sno-Cones, Stella Java for coffee drinks, La Cabana for furniture and home decor, Mast a local boutique specializing in accessories, jewelry and home goods and Seis Kitchen for Mexican street food. There is also Transit Cycles, a local bike shop.

You will enjoy Blu: A Wine & Cheese Stop in Suite #126. They brought a concept they found in Chicago at Pastoral to Tucson and feature cheese plates, sandwiches, salads along with wines and craft beer.

The highlight is Agustin Kitchen at 100 S Avenida Del Convento Suite 200, where I had dinner with a local friend. It has a warm, contemporary design and has very good food.

Feast: Recommended by the Chef at the Curious Kumkuat in Silver City NM, this is 3719 E. Speedway. Feast and Feast’s chef/owner, Doug Levy, have been positively featured in The New York Times, Food & Wine Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, The Arizona Daily Star, Phoenix Magazine, Arizona Highways, The Tucson Citizen, The Tucson Weekly, and The Desert Leaf.

I had a really excellent meal at this popular Tucson restaurant and wine store. My scallop entree with lobster served over a shrimp and cauliflower hash with a coconut milk reduction, tat soi and vadouvan, was perfectly prepared. My friends enjoyed their entrees as well. Chef/Owner Doug Levy was delightful and spent time talking to every table and describing the creative menu.

Penca: 50 E. Broadway Blvd.:  This fun spot in downtown Tucson, perfect for Mexican City street food and cuisine, has received good press and reviews. I loved the decor and food.

5 Points Market & Restaurant: Located just south of downtown, this is a casual market and restaurant serving coffee, excellent baked goods, a great selection of breakfast items from huevos rancheros to a smoked salmon benedict and a good selection of salads and sandwiches for lunch. 756 S. Stone Ave. 

Next door, at 758 S. Stone Ave., is Café Desta for Ethopian Cuisine and Coffee and Bon which is a really lovely boutique featuring clothing, accessories plus home furnishings and accessories, owned by a Mother and Daughter team. 760 S. Stone.

Thunder Canyon Brewery & Distillery: This local microbrewery and distillery has a restaurant and pub downtown. They brew their beers locally and are adding spirits in the near future. 220 E. Broadway. They feature ales, stouts and porters.

The Independent Distillery: Located in a most attractive facility downtown, this is a local distillery that is soon releasing its new gins, rums, vodkas, whiskeys, bourbons, absinthe and bitters. 30 S. Arizona Ave.

Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery: At 266 E Congress, this is a popular restaurant and ice creamery. They recently opened a store across the street at 245 E. Congress just for their great ice cream.

Exo Coffee: Locals recommend Exco at 403 N. 6th Ave. near the Warehouse Arts District. I tried it and enjoyed the coffee and the atmosphere. Stop in as you explore the galleries.

Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market: This is a fun new addition to downtown Tucson. In addition to grocery, deli and take out items, you can select from coffee drinks, sandwiches, salads and breakfast items.  11. St. 6th Ave.

Sparkroot Coffee: Sparkroot Coffee, at 245 E. Congress, is a great spot for coffee downtown. It has an attractive 2 level store. 

My growing list of places to try based on recommendations and recent articles includes:

Zinburger, a wine and burger bar. Inca’s Peruvian Cuisine, Blancos Tacos + Tequila and Wild Garlic Grill are on other lists. Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink downtown is good for pasta, pizza and beer, according to a local friend, “Foodie” and chef. He also loves Inca’s, Contigo Cocina and Wild Garlic.

Public Brewhouse: This is a micro-brewery at 209 N. Hoff Ave.

Locals also recommend El Indio for Mexican and seafood and Mi Nidito for casual Mexican.

Little Poco Cosa: A part of Cafe Poco Cosa, this is a casual breakfast and lunch spot that also serves coffee. 151 N. Stone.

Cartel Coffee Lab, 210 E. Broadway: With other locations in Scottsdale, Phoenix and in Tucson at 2516 N. Campbell. They are known for sourcing, roasting and brewing good coffee.

There is also Presta Coffee Roasters at 2502 N. 1st Ave.


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