About the List
Dining In Tucson is our list of the best Tucson restaurants. By the Best Tucson restaurants, we must include Southern Arizona, including Bisbee, Tombstone, and Tubac.
There are well over 1,000 restaurants in Southern Arizona, and we have not come close to dining at all of them. We will surely add others to this list over time. Feel free to send us your suggestions here.
Of those we have reviewed since Fall 2011, all on this list received a 4-Saguaro rating or higher. Meaning, if you go, you are likely to have a very good dining experience. So far, there are only 9 that we rated 5-Saguaro, the best of the best.
Best of the Best Restaurants
You can find the 5-Saguaro list by clicking here. Not surprisingly, they’re not the cheapest. With very few exceptions, exceptional quality is exceptionally expensive. Such is life.
We have enjoyed dining at many on this list more than once. And we have included just a few that we want to visit and review because they are so highly recommended by friends we know to have discriminating tastes.
If you go to one of these establishments, we have every reason to believe that you will have the same delightful experience that we, along with our friends and family, enjoyed. But your experience could be different based on many factors we cannot control.
Expect A Delightful Dining Experience
Over the years, we have recommended most of these establishments to our friends & family and, with the rarest exception, they have come back and told us that our appraisal was accurate.
The list is by category in alphabetical order. It will be updated periodically.
Most recent update: December 2021.
December, 2011 – We two had completed our errands and were trying to decide where to eat lunch. I used my mobile device to consult tripadvisor. Their customer reviews rate … Continue reading
Summer 2013 – Neighbor Roy & I enter Stables Ranch Grille at Tubac Golf Resort with just enough local historical knowledge to be dangerous. Once past the thick mesquite front … Continue reading
Maynard’s is located in the historic Tucson Train Depot a few yards from where Wyatt Earp killed Frank Stillwell after the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
No point in going to elaborate, detailed descriptions of their extensive menu.
Editor’s Note: 05/31/2017 – We have recently learned that Delectables will soon go out of business. The owner is retiring. Spring 2013. It’s been a while since I ventured down … Continue reading
We made reservations for a show at Desert Diamond Casino and, as an after thought, also made reservations at their Agave Restaurant. The show was a dud, but the Agave was a delight.Continue reading
This is a review of a Tucson Japanese restaurant. But first … Disclaimers: I have never been to Japan, so I have no idea what REALLY GOOD Japanese cuisine is suppose to taste like. Asian food is not my favorite. I have an aversion to the idea of eating seaweed and raw fish. Besides, […]Continue reading
May 2012 – I have discovered a second Asian restaurant that I can whole-heartedly recommend. The first was OM Modern Asian Kitchen with its delicious and eclectic choices of Thai, … Continue reading
Arizona Inn: An experience.
Blue Willow: Tucson on Campbell. Arguably the best in Tucson.
Grill at Hacienda del Sol: Tucson on Hacienda del Sol Rd. in the Catalina Foothills
Gourmet Girls Gluten-Free Bakery & Bistro: Tucson on Oracle south of Rudisill. If you think gluten-free means bland, go introduce yourself to the Gourmet Girls. You can thank us later.
Cup Café in the Hotel Congress. Eat on the patio if it is warm.
Tanque Verde Ranch Breakfast Ride. An experience in the desert.
Prep & Pastry is a new favorite of ours and everyone else for that matter. Reservations. Outdoor Seating.
La Cocina Cantina: Tucson Downtown Historic Block across from El Presidio de Tucson and adjacent to Old Town Artisans. This is a cross between a Mexican cantina and an Arizona roadhouse. Decades ago, what is now a bar was a downtown Tucson gas station. Live music. Good food. Great fun!
La Gitana Cantina: Arivaca. According to Esquire Magazine, one of the 100 Best Bars In America. So there!
Cowboy BBQ Dinner Around A Campfire
Tanque Verde Guest Ranch: Tucson at the far east end of Speedway
Fine Dining (relatively expensive but worth it.)
Arizona Inn: Tucson on Elm near University Medical Center
Cafe’ Roka: Bisbee on Main Street
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse: Tucson on N. Campbell
Grill at Hacienda del Sol: Tucson in the Catalina Foothills. Best dining experience I’ve ever had in The States was Christmas (2011) with my family (13 of us) at the Grill. Superb in every way!!!
Vivace Italian Restaurant: Tucson, St. Philip’s Plaza on N. Campbell
Opa! Greek Cuisine & Fun: Tucson on Campbell
High Altitude Dining
Sawmill Run Restaurant: Summerhaven on Mt. Lemmon. Elevation: 8,200 feet. Great outdoor seating when warm. Spacious indoors. Interesting menu.
Iron Door Restaurant: A Tucson tradition. Great Chili and Pies. Just show up and wait. Thursdays – Sundays. Your experience will differ depending on the crowd. We like it.
Hub Restaurant & Creamery: Tucson Downtown. Hub is not just for ice cream. They serve good ol’ American comfort food in a historic old building delightfully under-restored.
The only Indian restaurants I’ve been to were in London. However, I hear Saffron Indian Bistro is one of the better ones locally: Tucson on N. Oracle.
North Modern Italian: Tucson at La Encantada
Pizzeria Vivace: Tucson, St. Philip’s Plaza; River & Campbell
Trattoria Pena: Tucson on N. Swan
Vivace Italian Restaurant: Tucson, Skyline & Campbell
Zona 78: Tucson on E. River Rd. and also E. Tanque Verde Rd.
Good But …
Those of you who read my reviews know that I particularly do not enjoy dining where the ambient music and/or patron chatter is so loud that I and my companions have to shout across the table in order to have a conversation.
I also understand that many people don’t mind shouting at each other over a meal. For that reason, the following is a shortlist of dining establishments that offer very high-quality food and service to match their very high decibel levels.
At regular mealtimes, these places are crowded, which speaks to their quality, but also adds A LOT OF NOISE.
Union Public House: Campbell & River in St. Philip’s Plaza. I had lunch here and it was very good: Fettuccini w/ roasted chicken, bacon, charred grape tomatoes, spinach, fresh herb, & goat cheese. The tomatoes were the best I have ever had; so good in fact that I asked my waitress to ask the chef where he got them. Turns out they came from Willcox and 2012 was a particularly good year for Willcox tomatoes. But the “ambient” music wasn’t ambient; it was overpowering even though it was mid-afternoon and there were hardly any patrons. As I was dining alone and had a book to read, I didn’t much care, but I would never go to Union with a dining companion. The waitress said she gets that complaint a lot.
Lunch / Sandwiches / Salads
Arizona Inn (at the bar by the pool): Tucson on Elm near University Medical Center
Baggin’s Gourmet Sandwiches: Tucson, several locations
Beyond Bread: Tucson, 3 locations
Gourmet Girls Gluten-Free Bakery & Bistro Tucson on Oracle south of Rudisill
Blanco Tacos + Tequila: Tucson at La Encantada Mall
Café Poca Cosa: Tucson Downtown
El Charro Café: Tucson Downtown
Santiago’s Mexican Restaurant, Bisbee
Theresa’s Mosaic Cafe’: Tucson on W. Grant well-hidden behind the McDonalds at Silverbell & Grant
Wisdom’s Cafe’: Tumacácori. I, along with friends & family, have dined at Wisdom’s almost every time we have visited the old mission. If you’re looking for seriously good Mexican food, dine at Wisdom’s – either before or after you visit Mission Tumacácori just down the road.
Brooklyn Pizza Company: Tucson on 4th Avenue
Magpies Gourmet Pizza: Tucson on 4th Avenue
Scordato’s Pizzeria (formerly Vivace Pizzeria): Tucson at St. Philip’s Plaza, River & Campbell
Velvet Elvis: Patagonia. Governor Janet declared Velvet Elvis an Arizona Treasure. And so it is.
Kingfisher: Tucson on E. Grant
Tucson Tamale Company: Tucson on E. Broadway
Where To Take Out-Of-Town Visitors
El Charro: the original on Court Street in the Historic District
Ocotillo Cafe’: fine dining at our wonderful Desert Museum
Pinnacle Peak: in Trail Dust Town on Tanque Verde Road just for the Wild West fun of it.