There was a time when the downtown section of Tucson was not showing up on anyone's list for desirable travel destinations. It was where you went to hit rock bottom. But today skid row has given way to skim lattes and the area is thriving with cocktail bars, new restaurants and serious coffee joints. Walk from place to place and check out the historic architecture in-between your eating, drinking and shopping.
Breakfast is served from 7am until 4pm with dishes like cast iron baked eggs, omelets, chilaquiles and bagels and lox.
"You can order anything from the Heart Attack Slam, which is like a bunch of brisket on toast with gravy and egg to pancakes or French toast. This is a fairly American breakfast, without very much spin on it. You can also do the classic bacon and egg." - Chef Kris Vrolijk of Proper Tucson
311 East Congress Street, Tucson, Arizona 85701 | T: 520.798.1618 | hotelcongress.com/food
A micro-roaster making small batches manually in a gas-fired German Probat roaster.
"For great coffee." - Chef Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco
"For a Mesquite Toddy during season. I can brew coffee or make a drink at home, when I go out I want it to be extra special." - Chef Ryan Clark of Agustin Kitchen
403 North 6th Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85705 | T: 520.777.4709
The newest location of the mini-chain Cartel. They have a wood-fired oven here for craft pizzas to go with your coffee or opt for a craft beer.
"They have amazing locally-roasted coffee and outstanding baked goods. It's a beautifully designed place to enjoy the morning." - Restaurateurs Nicole Flowers and Travis Reese of 47 Scott and Scott & Co
210 East Broadway Boulevard,Tucson, AZ | T: 480.432.8237 | www.cartelcoffeelab.com
A Mexican bakery selling flour tortillas, pastries and breads.
"The pineapple empanadas are so good here." - Chef Kris Vrolijk of Proper Tucson
5266 South 12th Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85706 | T: 520.741.0656 | laestrellabakeryincaz.com
If you like craft beer, you'll be happy at this beer and wine tasting room that also has a bottle shop.
"This is a craft beer spot that doesn’t serve food, but on the weekends they offer a 'beer brunch' with a rotating selection of food trucks out front selling great breakfasts that you can enjoy inside with your favorite beer." - Restaurateurs Nicole Flowers and Travis Reese of 47 Scott and Scott & Co
“This is one of the best beer selections in downtown, let alone the greater Tucson area. They have a great rotating tap selection and an extensive selection of obscure bottles in their coolers.” - Bartender Ciaran Wiese of Agustin Kitchen
403 N 6th Avenue #135, Tucson, AZ 85705 | T: 520.344.8999 | www.thetapandbottle.com
Their burgers are made from 100% local, grass-fed, open range-raised, antibiotic-free and growth-hormone-free beef. They work with local farmers, ranchers, bakers, cheese-makers, brewers, vintners, and source as much as they can from within a 250-mile radius.
"Killer burger with custom-ground beef." - Chef Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco
"They use grass-fed beef from Arizona and local Arizona beers. It’s hard to go wrong with any of their burgers, but the Big Daddy Kane is a must-try." - Restaurateurs Nicole Flowers and Travis Reese of 47 Scott and Scott & Co
312 East Congress Street, Tucson, AZ 85701 | T: 520.882.2007 | www.diabloburger.com
The lunch-only informal sister restaurant to Poca Cosa, run by chef Suzana Davila's sister Sandra.
"The little one is better than the big one Cafe Poca Cosa, owned by her sister. She is is really wild, lives in Mexico and rides a motorcycle. This used to be right next to the Federal Courthouse in a tiny space, but after 9/11 they made her move because she was too close to the courthouse. It’s breakfast and lunch only." - Master Sommelier, mezcal and tequila producer and winemaker Richard Betts of Sombra
151 North Stone Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701
This is a tortilla/Mexican food take-out shop. Homemade tortillas, burros, chorizo and gorditas. The tortillas are hand-stretched and served warm.
"This is a place to come to find awesome tortillas. It's in a little house and they have excellent red and green salsas and flour and corn tortillas. You can use them for enchiladas or tacos." - Chef Kris Vrolijk of Proper Tucson
849 North Anita Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85705
A cheese and sandwich shop. Tana Fryer is the cheesemonger and aside from their retail gourmet foods, wine and beer, they sell panini, tapas and salads.
"They have great cheeses and a knowledgeable staff to help you understand your goudas from your goat cheeses." - Restaurateurs Nicole Flowers and Travis Reese of 47 Scott and Scott & Co
100 S Avenida del Convento, Tucson, AZ 85745 | T: 520.314.8262 | www.bluarizona.com
Brasserie-style food, full coffee bar, cocktails and dishes like pâté de campagne, chilled seared steak, shrimp en papillote, cheese, salads and platters for sharing.
"One of the best patios in town." - Bartender Ciaran Wiese of Agustin Kitchen
Happy Hour from 3pm - 6pm
402 East 9th Street, Tucson, AZ 85705 | T: 520.222.9889 | www.cafecoronet.com
Owned by the folks from next door's 47 Scott. Soft lighting, brick walls, a few wooden tables and cocktails that range from the Rick Moranis with pine liqueur and amaro to the FOAD, Eat A Pie with sweet vermouth, cream sherry and pecan orgeat. They also make the classics or order their bartender's choice.
"I'm a little biased, I'd have to say my alma mater Scott & Co is a great place to take guests. It's a very tiny, dimly lit bar dedicated to cocktails and the folks who drink them. They make a great Old Fashioned, but they also enjoy coaxing guests into taking chances without falling into pretension." - Bartender Ciaran Wiese of Agustin Kitchen
"They have super professional bartenders and a great selection. You’re not coming here if you’re an Applebee's person and want a strawberry margarita. Here you’re going to get something that’s made with care and crafted really well, and tasted right before it comes to you. The industry drinks here." - Chef Kris Vrolijk of Proper Tucson
Happy Hour from 6pm - 7pm
49 North Scott Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701 | T: 520.624.4747 | www.47scott.com
James Beard Award winning chef Janos Wilder serves a mash-up of cuisines from New American to Asian to Latin American. One month the menu might focus on Charleston and another on Singapore or Lima.
"Janos Wilder is a great chef using local ingredients." - Chef Ryan Clark of Agustin Kitchen
Serving Mexico City cuisine and an international bar inspired by owner Patricia Schwabe's background. The space in minimalist in a 1920s building with materials that were salvaged from other historic downtown buildings.
"This is a great Mexican restaurant with beautiful architecture. The food is Nouveau Mexican. The owners have a very clean palate, you’ll see a mole on the menu and eclectic things. They have a great breakfast on Sundays with local eggs and hand-made tortillas. It’s also a very cool cocktail bar." - Chef Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco
"Get the Chilaquiles here. Just order them." - Restaurateurs Nicole Flowers and Travis Reese of 47 Scott and Scott & Co
50 East Broadway Boulevard, Tucson, AZ 85701 | T: 520.203.7681 | www.pencarestaurante.com
Everything from jam to churros to pork belly is prepared in-house. They work with local and regional farmers, ranchers, brewers, winemakers and vendors to bring you best from the Arizona bounty.
"Originally from flagstaff, they serve a seasonal New American menu in a very cool space." - Chef Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco
Chef Ryan Clark calls his restaurant 'classic American with an Agustin twist.' They support over 50 local farms, ranches, brewers, wineries and purveyors. He recommends ordering the AK Tartare, made with local Wagyu beef, open farm raised eggs and house-made aioli. Also ask about their hard-to-find Mesquite Smoked Del Bac Whiskey.
"Chef Ryan Clark is a great chef. He’s got good access to local farms and is really active in a lot of the local food organizations. He puts a lot of local products on his menu." - Chef Kris Vrolijk of Proper Kitchen
"Come here to visit Ciaran Wiese, he's a madman and an uber-talented bartender." - Barman Brooks Reitz of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co, Leon's Oyster Shop
A wine bar focusing on Old World wines. They also serve beer, small plate dishes and pizza. It is co-owned by a wine maker and an importer.
"This is a wine bar that's fun for a glass of wine and a little jazz. They have live music almost every night." - Restaurateurs Nicole Flowers and Travis Reese of 47 Scott and Scott & Co
"I love it here for wine. It's a quiet easy late night spot with a surprising collection of rare German wines and much more." - Bartender Ciaran Wiese of Agustin Kitchen
Open until 1am on weekends
118 East Congress Street, Tucson, AZ 85701 | T: 520.884.1800 | unpluggedtucson.com
This is a bar with no TVs, but they do have a jukebox and a pool table with craft beers on draft and a DJ on Saturdays. From 2pm to 2am, they serve a High Life and a shot for $3.
"Tucson is known for its dive bars for a reason. You don't have to go far to see the heart of Tucson." - Bartender Ciaran Wiese of Agustin Kitchen
Open until 2am | Cash Only
260 East Congress Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701 | T: 520.791.0082
Chef Ryan Clark of Agustin Kitchen calls this one of his favorite local delicacies,"It is hard to find around town but if you could find it anywhere it would no longer be a delicacy."
Canyon Ranch chef Scott Uehlein recommends Hayden Mills, "It's high quality and delicious flavor, but also because the wheat is a heritage variety (not hybridized in any way), the fields are not treated with any chemicals. And it make delicious bread and pizza dough!"
Chef and owner of Agustin Kitchen in Tucson, AZ.
Chef and owner of Pizzeria Bianco in Tucson and Phoenix, AZ.
Chef at Proper Kitchen in Tucson, AZ.
Head bartender at Agustin Kitchen in Tucson, AZ.
Owners of 47 Scott and Scott & Co. in Tucson, AZ.
Chefs and co-owners of Al Forno in Providence, RI.
Bartender and creator of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co and co-owner of Leon's Oyster Shop in Charleston, SC.
Master Sommelier, author, mezcal and tequila producer and winemaker for Sombra, Betts & Scholl.