Dancing flames erupt from teppan grills, illuminating the captivated faces of diners seated around the tabletop grill. The roaring fires are tamed by Sakura's highly skilled chefs, who playfully flip spatulas in the air before sizzling up plump morsels of teppanyaki steak, chicken, and seafood. Behind the sushi bar, chefs fold fresh fish into both raw and cooked specialty rolls, which reporters from Tucson Weekly lauded as "some of the most delicious seaweed, sweet vinegar rice and raw fish concoctions imaginable."
Kimono-clad waitresses glide through the lively dining rooms, bearing plates of sushi, vegetarian and vegan dishes, and colorful specialty cocktails. In the sports bar, the walls grasp massive flat screens and hundreds of pictures of the owner posing with local celebrities—from weather girls to the neighborhood grocery’s bag boy of the month. Towering chrome heaters warm the tabletops of the expansive outdoor patio, where colorful lights and hanging flags set the stage for live music performances each night.
The Empire Pizza & Pub staff assembles a mix and match of 23 ingredients—including barbecue sauce and genoa salami—atop 13 New York-style pizzas. Their efforts helped earn the eatery a Best Pizza nod in 2011 by Metromix. They name their specialty pies after notable places in New York, such as Soho’s white pizza with tomatoes, basil, and parmesan and the Jackson Heights slathered in barbecue sauce and sprinkled with chicken, green pepper, and onion. By preparing the pies, subs, and salads for carry-out, delivery, or serving them at the restaurant as late as 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday (11 p.m. other days) and as early as 835 B.C.E., the staff accommodates diners of many tastes and schedules.
The arena in which the team’s servers operate features exposed-brick walls lining the narrow layout. A bar at the back pairs libations with pizzas, while vintage lights illuminate the copper ceiling.
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).
Rhino Pub welcomes ravenous revelers with a spacious, sports-centric atmosphere and an appetite-appeasing menu stocked with mouth-watering grub and energizing coffee drinks. Twenty-four beers on tap paired with the luminous glow of 12 TVs attract suds-loving sports fans, and Tuesday's karaoke and Thursday's live music lure a mix of singers, dancers, and the occasional lonely tambourinist. Customers can take an entertainment break and quell carnivorous yens with a bacon cheeseburger, served with a choice of fries or tots ($7.95), or replenish dance tanks with a 16 oz. cappuccino ($3.25). Rhino Pub's inviting atmosphere sports neon lounge lights, long black high-top tables, and free WiFi, making it the ideal place to flirt with a like-minded super-fan or exchange romantic emails with the cute laptop across the bar.
Raising their jokes on a steady diet of worldly observation and offbeat experiences, Laffs' seasoned yuckwranglers re-release laughter into its natural habitat during their weekly standup spectacles. Guffaw-seeking guests are strapped into a pair of preferred seats before being buffeted by buffoonery as Laffs buses in an invigorative mix of nationally recognized comedians and promising local talent. Join in jesterly jabs during performances from pedigreed jokesters, including Joey Medina of the Original Latin Kings of Comedy (February 18–19) and Last Comic Standing competitor Dave Landau (March 4–5), or snicker intently through Kevin Jordan's tales of life as an L.A. police officer during the city's tumultuously delicious 2003 waffle riots (February 25–26). Check out the schedule for a full list of available show times.
For more than 17 years, Chad's has offered a casual, relaxed atmosphere with a dinner menu that centers largely on its specialties: prime rib and a slew of succulent steaks. All steaks—including Chad's signature rib eye ($21.95), the filet ($21.45), and the sizzling mushroom steak ($17.95)—come with a dinner salad, fresh baked cheese bread, cowboy beans, and choice of baked potato, sweet potato, french fries, or rice. At many steakhouses, non-beef eaters are taken out back and impaled with a barbecue fork, but Chad's respects other diners with a menu that includes charbroiled chicken breasts ($14.95) in a lemon-butter or teriyaki sauce, the delicious oxymoron that is jumbo shrimp scampi, grilled and smothered in garlic butter ($16.95), and a fresh-catch seafood option offered at market price. Chad's is also open for lunch, with a range of sandwiches, burgers, salads, and soups.