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Pamela and Roger Harlan
Tucson - River Campbell
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(520) 977-8660
p-r@harlans.com
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Pamela & Roger's Favorite Tucson Restaurants

Tucson is a city known for its many excellent restaurants, and we have listed only a few here. We are always frustrated in a new community to go through the paid advertisements and try to determine how much is "hype" and how good each one really is. These are our personal favorites -- although we may have missed many worthy choices. We'll continue to add to the list.

We've tried to classify the restaurants by style and relative cost (an arbitrary division). Even with more expensive restaurants you can often have a very nice lunch at a modest price. Click on those highlighted in blue to go directly to their websites.

Quick Lunch Spots ($)

Baggin's Deli  Great spot for a quick lunchtime sandwich or salad -- eat-in or take-out. (Check website for locations).

Beyond Bread  Artisan bread--fresh and hot. Good place for breakfast or lunch. Check out their scones and pastries. (3 locations)

La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill  Grilled chicken, beef, or seafood soft tacos, with a salsa bar of fresh, varied salsa choices (several locations).

Sauce  Thin crispy pizza crust with wonderful combinations of ingredients, such as rosemary, thin potato slices and spinach, or wild mushrooms with truffled arugula, or roasted eggplant and hummus. Also salads (a fabulous Caesar Salad) and pasta (3 locations)


Moderate Lunch or Dinner ($)

Falora Pizza & Espresso  A wonderful addition to the mid-town Broadway Village complex. Owner Ari Shapiro has an envious track record with his Xoom Juice smoothie spots, and Sparkroot coffeehouse downtown. Here he packs a lot into a modest space, which is very modern looking but homey. His wood-fired pizzas are Neopolitan-style with delicious thin crusts. Toppings lean toward unusual veggie combinations which are truly inspired. The "Arrosto" comes with feta, eggplant, thin purple potato slices, dates & white truffle oil. Several salads are on the menu plus Italian wines. .  3000 E Broadway at Country Club  325-9988

Contigo Cocina Latina  This cozy restaurant is one of our all time favorites. Tucked in along restaurant row on the NW corner of Campbell & River. Specializing in culinary traditions of Latin America. Happy Hour drinks and tapas is a real deal. And if you love Sangria, Contigo's is the best in town. 1745 E. River Rd (W. of Campbell) 299-1730

Dakota Café and Catering Company  The Dakota has a wonderful patio and is located in the heart of Trail Dust Town. We've tried Margaritas in lots of restaurants, but...ay, carumba...Dakota's Margarita is the best. Not too tart. Not too sweet. Just right! Be sure to try the shrimp in coconut tempura appetizer with a mango chutney. Good choice for lunch or dinner. 6541 E. Tanque Verde Road   298-7188

Feast  Owner and Chef Doug Levy has created a wonderful spot for special dining. The new building is chic and intimate and the menu is ever-changing, and includes influences as varied as Cuban, Vietnamese and Italian. Always the hum of people enjoying dining, and Doug and his staff seem to enjoy bringing us the best.  3719 E. Speedway (west of Alvernon)  326-9363

Jasper Neighborhood Restaurant & Bar    A great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Special Happy Hour prices on tapas and drinks. 6370 N. Campbell (SE corner of Campbell and Sunrise)  577-0326

Om Modern Asian Kitchen  Asian sushi bar and restaurant. A festival of tastes -- whatever you order -- and it's all wonderful! The appetizers are particularly note-worthy. 1765 E. River Road (just west of Campbell)  299-7815

Pastiche Modern Eatery  American food with international influences that's become a favorite of Tucsonans who enjoy an unusual twist on familiar dishes. One of the few places you can catch a late after-theater dinner. Thyme-crusted seabass and jerked spiced chicken breast are two specialties. The green salad with walnuts, blue cheese and citrus vinaigrette dressing reaches new heights. Many dishes available in half portions, which allows for a variety of tastings.  3025 N. Campbell Avenue (between Glenn and Ft. Lowell)  325-3333

Athens on 4th Avenue European Bistro  Authentic Greek food at a small casual and comfortable restaurant. This delicious food will make you imagine that you are in the Greek Isles -- lots of atmosphere without having to pay for the round-trip plane ticket.  500 N. 4th Avenue (6th Street & 4th Avenue)  624-6886

Vivace Pizzeria  Not to be confused with its sister Vivace Restaurant which has moved to 6440 N. Campbell Ave (at the corner of Campbell & Skyline). No pasta here -- just appetizers, salads, and very, very good pizza.  4280 N. Campbell Avenue (in St. Phillip's Plaza)  529-2700


Ethnic Restaurants ($)

Bangkok Café  Wonderful Thai cuisine with emphasis on fresh and healthy. Pad Thai is outstanding. Closed Sundays. 2511 E. Speedway,  323-6555

Café Desta  The newest addition to the ethnic food scene. Authentic Ethiopian cuisine--tasty "wat" (sauces) that can be chicken, lamb, fish, lentil, vegetable, served with pancake-like "injera". You tear off a piece of injera and scoop up a portion of wat. 758 S. Stone (at intersection with 18th Street south of downtown). 370-7000

Dao's Tai Pan's Restaurant  Store-front Vietnamese restaurant in front of St. Joseph's Hospital. Everything is fresh and tasty. 446 N. Wilmot Rd.  722-0055

India Oven  Wonderful hot naan bread, tandori chicken, sag paneer, lamb, fish and shrimp dishes. Steaming hot in rich sauces served with fluffy rice. It's all so good.  We like the noon-time buffet lunch too. 2727 N. Campbell Ave. (between Grant and Glenn) 326-8635 (No website)

Lerua's Fine Mexican Foods  Lerua's is well known in the Old Pueblo for catering, but it's also a nice place to go for lunch. Their burros, enchiladas and chimichangas are very good but they excel in the most delicious, lightest, best green-corn tamales that we've ever had. 2005 E. Broadway (1 block east of Campbell) 624-0322

Little Café Poca Cosa  A favorite if we're near the downtown area at noon. The ambiance is bustling and wonderful, and their lunch fare is the very best of Mexican cooking. Try their Plato Poca Cosa or Tamal de Elote. Open for breakfast and lunch only. 151 N. Stone Ave (north of Main Library) no phone

Lotus Garden  A Tucson institution, Lotus Garden is a quiet relaxed respite in which to enjoy Szechwan and Cantonese cuisine. A family favorite of ours for nearly 40 years. 5975 E. Speedway (just west of Wilmot) 298-3351

Mariscos Chihuahua  Friends introduced us to this modest seafood, and we've been back repeatedly. The Mexican-style seafood dishes are superb! There are a couple of other locations, but we like this one best. 1009 N. Grande Ave (south of Speedway and the AZ School for Deaf and Blind) 623-3563

Mi Nidito Mexican Restaurant  Don't bother calling to make reservations; they don't take reservations, and there is always a wait. But you can enjoy chips and salsa and a great Margarita while you wait shoulder to shoulder for a table. That's part of the fun at Mi Niditos (and that's coming from someone who hates waiting). This is definitely the place people want to be for great Sonoran Mexican food. Big, big servings of enchiladas, splendid chili rellenos, huge burros and absolutely light, light tortillas. Mi Nidito has been around a long time and while you're waiting you can enjoy the walls of photos of famous people who have eaten there -- Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright among them.   1813 S. 4th Ave (south of 22nd Street)   622-5081

Neo of Melaka  A fusion of Malaysian and Chinese cuisine, Neo offers the best of Southeastern Asian dishes, including noodle dishes as well as clay pot dishes, lemak and curry. Ask for "mild" or "medium" spicyness unless you're already inoculated against heat. 6133 E. Broadway (west of Wilmot)  747-7811

Rosa's Mexican Food  Tucked away at the back of corner shopping center, this is worth the search. A favorite of many Mexican food aficionados.  1750 E. Ft. Lowell Rd. (SW corner of Campbell and Ft. Lowell)  325-0362  No website

Saffron Indian Bistro  Delicious East Indian cuisine in a contemporary atmosphere. This is our other favorite Indian restaurant --everything is savory, with subtle flavors and pungent spices. 7607 N. Oracle Rd (north of Ina) 742-9100


Upscale Lunch or Dinner ($$)

Arizona Inn  We couldn't make a list of favorite restaurants without including the Arizona Inn. The food is good, but it's the ambiance and the elegance, and experiencing this wonderful old 1930s country inn that is so grand. Beautiful grounds all year round (and of course you can eat on the patio), a beautiful complex of old adobe buildings. So beautifully elegant and charming!  2200 E. Elm (north of Speedway, east of Campbell)  325-1541

Cafe Poca Cosa  This is Mexican cuisine like you've never had outside Mexico City. The menu changes daily depending largely on the produce that is freshest that day at the market. On your first visit we suggest you try to Plato Poca Cosa, a three-item sampler plate that will maximize your experience.  110 E. Pennington (in the heart of downtown)   622-6400

Le Rendez-vous  Classic French cuisine at one of Tucson's top restaurants. Chef Jean Claude Berger has won many awards including recognition by Zagat as one of the nation's best. Perfect place for a romantic evening out. 3844 E. Ft. Lowell (at the corner of Alvernon)   323-7373

Wildflower Grill  Featuring New American cuisine. Eating inside can be a little on the noisy side, so we always prefer the patio (space heaters in the winter months). The food is always good and so is the service. It's a nice place to linger over coffee and dessert (outrageous desserts!). This is the perfect place for lunch or dinner.  7037 N. Oracle Road (in Casas Adobes Plaza at Ina & Oracle).  219-4230


For that Special Occasion ($$$)

Hacienda del Sol  Tracy and Hepburn found romance here -- what could be a better recommendation? The resort is still wonderful after all these years, and the Grill is superb! A fine choice when you're looking for a special romantic evening with unparalleled ambience and fine food...and thou? An extensive wine list of over 2,000 labels.  5601 N. Hacienda del Sol Road (halfway between River and Sunrise)  529-3500

Vivace Italian Restaurant  Sophisticated and smart dining inside or on the patio in their new home at the corner of Campbell & Skyline. Classic Italian cuisine gone contemporary. Roger recently had a vegetable lasagna that was made with the most tender, thin homemade pasta; he talked about that dish for days!  6440 N. Campbell Avenue   795-7221

Ristras of dried chili peppers
Baggin's (many locations around town)
Ethiopian cuisine (south of downtown)
Beyond Bread (3 locations)
Feast (ever-changing menu)
Saffron Indian Bistro
Om (Asian sushi bar & restaurant)
Sauce Restaurant
Mexican Bird of Paradise
Contigo Cocina Latina
Wildflower
Lemons
Hacienda del Sol
Cholla cactus in bloom
Aloe in bloom