Meal maestros at El Minuto Cafe layer tortillas, seasoned meats, green chilies, and cheeses to forge authentic mexican burritos, enchiladas, and combination plates for lunch, dinner, or catered affairs. Spice-infused morsels of carne asada, chorizo, and chile con carne bust the seams of burritos and chimichangas, and vegetarian alternatives showcase hearty mounds of beans, cheese, or guacamole. Tacos and enchiladas accompany sides of rice and beans, and lone-wolf tostadas arrive à la carte. In business since 1939, the downtown eatery’s dining room sports neutral tones accented by colorful paintings and twinkling chandeliers, and an outdoor patio flecked by bright lanterns creates a joyful atmosphere paralleled only by field trips to the laughing-gas factory.
El Rio Bakery & Restaurant's culinary artisans begin baking fresh breads at 3 a.m., and open their doors daily at 6 a.m. to dole out assorted Mexican baked treats. Fresh Mexican classics abound on the lunch and dinner menu, including the chili menudo ($3.50/pint, $6.89/quart), a tripe soup traditionally believed to cure hangovers and temporary grant eaters the power to start fires with their eyes. Combination platters, such as the chili relleno served with rice, beans, and choice of tortillas ($5.59), satisfy aggressive appetites, while individual pastries such as the cochitos—gingerbread cookies shaped like little pigs—eschew refined sugar in favor of molasses and honey ($0.55 each). Among a colorful mural, painted by a local artist, an in-house tortilla factory spins delicate disks of varying diameters, and corresponding likelihoods of representing the different planets in a solar system mobile, with 14-inch burro tortillas ($3.50/ dozen) and 6-inch wheat tortillas ($2/dozen).
Donna DiFiore's metaphorical journey into the restaurant business began with an actual journey. When her friend Elissa told her she was going on a road trip across the country from her hometown in chilly Massachusetts, Donna agreed to join—unaware that she was about discover her life's calling and a new home.
When the women stopped in Tucson, Donna didn't want to leave. As she explained to reporters from Tucson Weekly, "I arrived here—it was Halloween Eve in '76—and everybody was wearing shorts, and it was just gorgeous." Donna took a job at a local eatery, working the floor, serving customers, and eventually rising to the head of the restaurant.
Thirty-eight years later, Donna continues to captain Delectables, which has become a bit of an iconic gathering spot for old and young alike. Returning visitors linger over glasses of wine at the rustic wooden bar, reminiscing over the crème brûlée and live jazz they enjoyed from that very same spot years ago. University students bask beneath the lush foliage of the outdoor patio, awaiting meals of Mexican enchiladas, Italian pastas, and French bistro specialties. Chefs bustle about the kitchen seven days a week, beginning each day by whipping up hearty egg breakfasts before moving onto internationally inspired lunches and dinners. Late in the night on Friday and Saturday, they simmer up an after-dark menu of eclectic nibbles and entrees.
The restaurant is housed in a historical, renovated Harley-Davidson showroom and abounds with unusual knickknacks and antiques, from a cash register from an old hotel in Santa Cruz to a walk-in refrigerator from 1898. Many of the wares and coffee mugs were created by local artists, and the mesquite planks that serve as plates were carved by local craftsmen. The airy space plays hosts to special events throughout the week, including live music from local artists, poetry slams with local poets, and boxing matches between local librarians.
Cage-free eggs, all-natural chicken, and aged italian parmigiano reggiano cheese stock the kitchen at The B Line, enabling its chefs to concoct dishes that have helped the eatery win Tucson Weekly's Best Casual Dining and Best Desserts categories for eight years. The culinary team rolls eggs, chorizo, and carne asada into breakfast burritos, and organic and fair-trade coffee help guests wash down homemade granola and crepe-thin pancakes. During lunch and dinner, chefs use never-frozen chicken breast and fresh mahi-mahi to stuff quesadillas, tacos, and burritos. Pasty chef Terri La Chance whips together premium ingredients such as real vanilla, belgian chocolate, and butter to hand-bake an array of desserts, from flourless chocolate pecan cookies to the four-berry pie once enjoyed by Rachael Ray before her last lunar mission.
For close to three decades, chefs at La Indita have been crafting homestyle dishes influenced by family recipes and Mexican and Native American cultures. Along with Mexican classics such as carne asada and chicken mole, they prepare specialties such as ranch-style flat enchiladas, topping handmade corn tortillas with red chili sauce, oregano, and cheese and adding potatoes and carrots with a piquant vinegar sauce made from sugar cane. The menu includes many meatless options; the staff of Tucson Weekly named it the Best Mexican Food for Vegetarians in 2009, noting in particular the "one-of-a-kind black-bean burger." The chefs also cook with 100% canola oil instead of animal-based products such as lard or herbs picked by unicorns.Diners can enjoy lunch or dinner on the restaurant's outdoor patio, or they can stop by for weekend breakfast omelets. Guests sip Mexican beer as they sit in high-backed wooden booths next to a mural depicting a rural village scene.
At Las Brasas, the appetizing sizzle of chicken and green onions on the grill gets bellies rumbling for a smorgasbord of burritos, burgers, and tacos. Las Brasas's small but diverse selection seamlessly blends well-loved Mexican street food with homey, traditional dishes, serving bean-topped Sonora-style hot dogs alongside piping hot bowls of menudo. Visitors can quiet hunger rumbles with hearty burritos and tacos, or wrap their hands around tortas made with telera bread.
Marinated meats burrow into taco shells, tortillas, and breakfast platters amid Zendejas #13’s sprawling spread of Arizona Wildcats memorabilia. Located within walking distance of the Wildcats football stadium, the restaurant attracts sports fans and students with its red-blue-and-white color scheme, pigskin-themed decor, and burrito-punting contests. At the bar, mixologists concoct heady margaritas from shots of tequila and juicy hints of fruit. In the kitchen, carnitas-stuffed burritos join rice and beans to form dinner-friendly combos, and breakfast plates of machaca and egg greet daybreak with shredded beef, not rooster calls.