Founded by ice-cream enthusiasts Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone Creamery has grown to more than 1,400 locations across North America. Each day, the shop's scoopers mix up fresh batches of ice cream, yogurt, and sorbet, which are served by the scoop, piled high in sundaes, and blended into shakes. After customers choose their desired flavor, the staffers toss the chilly sustenance upon a slab of frozen granite and fold in a smorgasbord of candy and nuts to achieve the ideal ice-cream-to-add-in ratio. Customers can dream up their own creations or opt for a signature masterpiece, sampling one of more than 11.5 million possible flavor combinations, which still await a brave conqueror to unlock them all. To accommodate sweets cravings at celebrations, staff members also dish out ready-made treats, such as ice-cream cakes, cupcakes, and cookies.
Rusty's sports a hefty menu of salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, melts, and more in a lively sports-stuffed environment. Belly up to a booth for a plate of hot wings available in seven sauces such as barbecue, teriyaki, and smokin' hot to leave sticky, incriminating evidence of who changed the channel on the booth's personal TV set ($7.99+). Leaf lovers fork through the cucumber, tomato, roast beef, and turkey-topped chef salad ($7.95), while hands-on consumers contemplate the selection of 10 melts, including the Hot-N-Heavy ham melt, a porcine pairing of ham and bacon under american and swiss cheeses ($7.95). Patty pilgrims celebrate Rusty's line up of 16 charbroiled burgers, including the pineapple-enhanced Hula burger ($7.95), barbecue-bathed Brandin' Iron ($6.95), and the of Fame burger, a one-pound round buried under tasty tiers of ham, turkey, bacon, two types of cheese, and a fried egg ($10.95). Patrons practice their knife and fork aptitude as they slice and spear through hefty helpings of Rusty's pot roast dinner ($9.95) or the oversized italian lasagna dinner ($9.95).
Shucked from their shells at the raw bar, a daily selection of oysters travels from the open-air kitchen out into the dining room, where conversation buzzes beneath the high-hanging lights that cast a glow on an expansive leather banquette and dark wood paneling. Behind the long, white bar, the mixologists of Agustin Brasserie shake, stir, and pour a selection of classic cocktails alongside beers pulled from a chrome tap. Upstairs, an outdoor rooftop deck allows visitors to sip libations while watching the sunset. Crafting a simple, French-inspired menu consisting of staples such as duck confit, steak and frites, and roasted chicken, the Brasserie’s chefs construct simple, artful dishes that are at once delightfully complex and wholly accessible—much like cartoon drawings of quantum physics theories.
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).
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.
The wait staff at Las Cazuelitas de Tucson does more than just refill water glasses and serve piping-hot dishes: they take the time to describe each dish in detail, helping diners select entrees based on their unique preferences. Open since 2000, the eatery serves traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex food, but specializes in seafood dishes such as bacon-wrapped shrimp, red snapper and the mariscada, a house specialty combining oysters, scallops, shrimp, octopus, onions, avocado, cucumbers, and tomatoes in a simmering broth. A full bar pours domestic and imported beers plus margaritas and signature cocktails such as the michelada, a blend of beer, fresh lime juice, and salt. On Friday and Saturday nights, Las Cazuelitas hosts a live mariachi band, allowing diners to enjoy dinner and a show while synchronizing their chewing to the upbeat riffs.
The menu at On A Roll is a sprawling list of authentic Asian cuisine, sushi, and Southwestern flourishes. Tuna tacos eschew traditional tortillas in exchange for crunchy wontons, paving the way for entrees such as bulgogi or peppered shrimp. In addition to traditional sashimi and rolls such as tuna, scallops, or yellowtail, specialty rolls invoke combinations such as the "Dang Good," a roll with shrimp tempura, cream cheese, and avocado, all topped with sweet chipotle-sauce.