Led by prolific and award-winning chef Janos Wilder, J BAR's culinary team blends together the tasty traditions of Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean to fill their menu with innovative food preparations. Diners can safely remove protective finger helmets when sharing salvers of crispy calamari served with roasted sweet potatoes and a ginger barbecue sauce ($8). Teeth taste the tenderness of the bistro's grilled filet of beef, which awakens palates to the flavors of mushroom chilaquiles, calabacitas con queso, basil chimichurri, and grilled onions ($18). Cranberry habanero chutney cascades over helpings of jerked pork ($15.50), while toasted buns ensconce 9 ounces of ground sirloin with foie gras, chilies, and cured bacon before emerging from kitchens alongside a heap of garlic fries perfect for cross-stitching into a bib ($13). When possible, J BAR crafts meals using fresh ingredients from local gardeners.
Helmed by Marseilles-born chef Coralie Satta, Ghini's offers a bevy of made-to-order eats crafted from locally grown ingredients. The exhaustive menu ensures palate-pleasers for all tastes. Early-morning cereal swillers can branch out with an international breakfast, including a café au lait with croissant ($5.25), a three-egg omelette ($6.75) served with sliced hot-house tomatoes or sliced oranges and toast, or a duo of stuffed ham and Swiss crêpes ($8.25). For a more-decadent day-starter, try the hot, buttered apple rum and chocolate crêpes ($8.25). Lunch options include thick sandwiches, crisp salads, and Ghini's originals. Wrap lips around a quarter pound of oven-baked turkey breast, imported swiss, cranberries, lettuce, and mayo stacked on a French baguette ($6.55 for a half portion, $7.55 for a whole), or fork heaping bites of parmesan-sprinkled romaine, garlic croutons, and black olives ($5.95 for half portion, $7.95 for whole). On Tuesday, social eaters can take advantage of Ghini's tapas menu by passing small plates of freshly baked ciabatta bread ($6), French melted double-cream brie and grapes ($6), and house-made pâté with cornichons and hot-house tomatoes ($8) in between devising plots to wipe out the Superfriends.
Le Rendez-Vous French chef Jean Claude Berger established Le Rendez-Vous in 1981 in order to deliver the classic French cuisine he thought the surrounding area lacked. Now that the restaurant has more than 30 years under its enormous, building-sized belt, it would appear as though he succeeded. Jean Claude—now joined by his son, Gordon—has kept diners coming back for so long by serving up homemade pâtés, roast duck, and crêpes suzette. The menu is the same during lunch and dinner, and it also includes fresh fish of the day, veal sweetbreads, and poached-salmon salads.
The secret to Primo's ever-fresh Mediterranean dinners lies not in the kitchen, but beneath the patio. There, a terraced garden grows the vegetables and fruits that Chef Melissa Kelly?a two-time James Beard Award winner (2013 and 1999)?harvests for the day's menu. Its lush tiers mimic those found beside Italian villas, abounding with tomatoes and flavorful herbs. It's a living sign of the restaurant's devotion to organic, local foods, and what Chef Kelly doesn't source from its plants, she finds through other local purveyors: Sleeping Frog Farms, for example, or farming members of the Tohono O'dam Native American Nation.
The produce and meats from these places come together in dishes inspired by France, Spain, and Italy. Dinner plates mix tagliatelle pasta with bolognese, or pair seared diver scallops with Nueske bacon-peach compote. A brick oven also cooks Naples-style pizzas, decorated in toppings that are chosen by the chef instead of plucked at random from unattended colanders. Viewed through the dining-room windows or the patio's edge, the surrounding mountains and cacti immerse diners in the desert's natural beauty, while the lights of Tucson glimmer in the distance.
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.
Although botana means "snack” in Spanish, La Botana Grill specializes in full-grown Mexican meals. Starters of house-made tortilla chips come with freshly made salsas and chipotle bean dip. After this prelude come entrees of fresh shrimp and tilapia, grilled to perfection in the house-specialty dishes. Then there’s the cantina tacos, which pull together flavors from various regions throughout Mexico, and fusion plates such as the sonoran dog—a beast of a hot dog that comes wrapped in bacon and smothered with beans, chorizo, and heaping piles of condiments.
La Botana's hearty breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes can be enjoyed al fresco on a patio lit by fiesta lights and a flat-screen TV that often broadcasts the latest Mexican soccer games. Live music sometimes rings out over the open space, a much better meal soundtrack than recordings of synchronized chewing.