4/19/2014: Over the past 6 months or so, and in no particular hurry, Ms. Karen & I went in search of the best Sunday Brunch in Tucson as rated by friends & family, as well as the usual online suspects: Trip Advisor; Yelp; and Urban Spoon.
"Honest Customer Reviews"
I say “suspects” because we should all be suspect of their so-called “honest customer reviews”. Anyone that understands the modern restaurant industry knows that negative reviews on these online sites can quickly ruin a business. So those restaurants that want to stay in business, very secretly, hire PR firms to write glowing reviews as if they are written by their average customer. It’s called “cheating” and none dare admit it.
Moreover, the “real” customer reviews are definitely suspect. You seldom know what credentials the reviewer has to write those opinions or what criteria they use to judge one meal at one restaurant over another. You just know what they liked & disliked. But you don’t know who they are; how discriminating is their taste; how extensively they have traveled; or just lived long enough to have thousands of unique dining experiences at the best restaurants in many parts of the world.
For example, I’ve read many “real customer reviews” of local Chinese cuisine. But I don’t ever recall reading that the reviewer has actually travelled extensively in China, dined at China’s best restaurants, or otherwise had some reasonable basis for their critique. By contrast, when we reviewed Tucson’s Chinese restaurants, we took as our guest a serious foody who was born and raised in China and is now a scientist at U of A. She taught us a lot and said that only one of the Tucson Chinese restaurants we visited might be considered a 3-Star restaurant in any of China’s big cities. She pronounced the others “unauthentic”.
Before we offer our recommendations for the Best Sunday Brunch In Tucson, we have to establish several categories. We reviewed 3 different types of Sunday Brunches. They are:
1. Mega-Buffet Brunch Including Mimosas
These huge buffets include alcoholic beverages, such as a Bloody Mary, local beers, and endless mimosas in the price, usually around $42 per person. (Note: at the Ritz you will pay $60, a price-point we consider so ridiculous that we did not review it.)
2. Mega-Buffet Brunch Excluding Mimosas
These buffets do not include alcoholic beverages in the price, typically $25 per person. However drinks are available for an additional price, about $4 to $9 each. There may be others, but Tanque Verde Guest Ranch is the only Sunday Brunch Buffet that we found that does not include unlimited mimosas. Fortunately, their brunch was excellent. And price-wise, this is a much better value unless your intent is to get tipsy.
3. Off-The-Menu Brunch
These allow you to chose items from both the breakfast and lunch menus.
Of the six Sunday Brunches we reviewed, this is how we rank them. Click on any of them to read our review.
Mega-Buffet Brunch Including Mimosas
Loews Ventana Canyon Resort
Mega-Buffet Brunch Excluding Mimosas
You might wonder how we would rank the #1 in each category. Is Loews Ventana Canyon better than Tanque Verde Guest Ranch better than Cushing Street Bar & Restaurant?
We can’t tell you. It’s purely a matter of personal choice. Each is a unique and distinctly different dining experience. It’s a question of what kind of dining experience you want on any particular Sunday?
Loews Ventana Canyon is a 5-Star resort with two of the finest golf courses on the planet. If you want a first-class hotel experience, before or after brunch you can play a round of golf. No matter which course you play, it’s likely you will remember it fondly for a very long time. We are fairly certain you will not be hiking the Ventana Canyon trail (very difficult) after this brunch.
Tanque Verde Guest Ranch is one of the finest dude ranches in the West. If you want a true Western experience, before or after brunch you can go on a trail ride through one of the most scenic regions of our Sonoran Desert.
Cushing Street Bar & Restaurant is in one of the oldest buildings in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Tucson. A leisurely walk around the block after brunch will take you back to mid-19th century Tucson. Cushing Street is located in the historic Downtown area where there are now so many interesting things to see and do, such as take a Sentinel Carriage ride or enjoy one of many Downtown festivals.
We look forward to returning to these three time and again. In their own unique way they are 5-Saguaro dining experiences: the Best of the Best!