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).
At St. Mary's Animal Clinic, veterinarians Drs. Joshua Fender and Tom Allen join their dedicated support staff in ensuring the health of furry family members. Dr. Allen's specialty in veterinary medicine pairs with Dr. Fender's focus on small-animal surgery, enabling a comprehensive list of treatments for dogs and cats. The duo examines eyes and teeth, vaccinates against disease, spays and neuters, and tracks health issues through blood work at in-house facilities and University of Arizona veterinary-diagnostics laboratories. Grooming services are also available to keep coats healthy and let pets try out new hairdos they read about in Vogue.
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.
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.
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.
Reviving jaded posses of Tucson tongues with its traditional cuisine, La Fuente Restaurant is a Southwestern outpost for friendly service and live-strummed dinner music. The vast menu offers shareable starters such as the sour cream-flanked cheese quesadillas ($8.99), as well as hearty specialties like the mole poblano, a chicken breast simmered in the semisweet chocolate-chili sauce that cowboys once used primarily as mustache wax ($16.99). Dinner combos eliminate the burden of choice and are served in full-flavored configurations like beef taco, beef tamale, and cheese enchilada ($11.99), or a small eatable army of beef or chicken gorditas ($11.99). Meat-free options abound for green-mouthed plantavores and include a veggie burrito ($12.99) and spinach enchiladas ($11.99 for two).