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).
Fresh bagels with cream cheese and café drinks are just a few specialties available in the mornings at Cafe Sol. Later in the day, cooks prepare roast beef sandwiches with provolone cheese and au jus, BLTs with avocado, and other satisfying handhelds.
A diverse array of evocative and provocative pieces adorn the hallowed halls at the Tucson Museum of Art, which has served up a sensory feast to art-hungry hominids for more than 85 years. Armed with a year-long membership, budding art archivists can light their Blackberry torches to explore the museum's cavernous archives of current and permanent exhibitions, eventually discovering the wormhole that thrusts them forward to upcoming exhibitions. More than 1,900 works representing approximately 2,000 years of pre-Columbian art populate the Art of Latin America collection, including some galleries hosted in the historic Stevens/Duffield House, and the Art of the American West collection showcases expressions of the regional landscape and cultures. Perched atop the former Presidio of San Agustín del Tucson, the museum complex includes access to five restored historic homes donned in distinct styles that span centuries of architecture, décor, and La-Z-Boy upholstery.
The experienced baristas at Ike’s Coffee & Tea, one of Tucson’s oldest coffee shops, brew a daily selection of four varieties of coffee while also offering a selection of espresso drinks and tasty comestibles. In addition to its flavorful, three-bean, custom-brewed house blend, the shop's quartet of java offerings includes Mexican organic and Italian varietals as well as a decaf variant ($1.95 for medium). Skillful baristas craft espresso drinks, such as lattes ($2.65 for small) and mochas ($3.15 for small), using old-fashioned, manually operated machines to create beverages reflecting the sort of care and precision missing in the work of today's shiftless robots. Customers can also sip teas, such as chai ($3.55 for medium) or gulp milkshakes in one of six single or blended flavors ($3.50–$4.60). Meanwhile, pastries ($2.15), bagels ($1.25 or $2.10 with cream cheese), and grilled cheese sandwiches ($5) stand by to sate solid-food cravings.
Within sight of the beautiful mosaic-tiled dome of the Pima County Courthouse resides another Tucson treasure: Roasted Tea & Coffee Shop, where passionate coffee aficionados brew earthy, aromatic cups of joe from small batches of locally roasted beans. The coffee curators' insistence on organic and fair-trade products ensures top-shelf quality for each satisfying sip of espresso and each sweet, creamy latte. Cold-brewed iced coffee, spicy cold chai, and frosty chocolate-milk mochas cool down overheated taste buds while delivering all the rich, complex flavors of the house's carefully selected coffee beans.
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.