Tucson, you're a woman of the world now! Fall is here and with it comes handmade pasta cafes, Japanese curry restaurants and lavish Brazilian steakhouses.
There's a lot going on this month, but I'm especially excited about the new Ceres Pasta + Bread in the Presidio District downtown. This new cafe is all about fresh, handmade pasta, which they sell in paper containers for eating-on-the-go. It's a simple menu, but there's a lot of care here (and the Bolognese sauce is A+). I'm also super pumped about Ja Ramen / Curry, which brings a whole world of Japanese curry dishes never before seen in The Old Pueblo. Curry clams anyone?
Here are six brand-new restaurants to put on your list. Make sure to check out the "on the horizon" section at the bottom for what's coming up. Our blessed Fuddruckers may have closed down, but there's a silver lining for everything. In this case it's KOREAN BARBECUE. 🥩
Ceres Pasta + Bread
This little spot is downtown's best-kept-secret ... until now! (*maniacal laugh) Located in the old Fanny's space across from La Cocina, Ceres Pasta + Bread is an airy walkup cafe that serves handmade pasta. Carolyn O'Connor makes a few varieties every morning. During our visit they had two types of egg noodles: the thinner tagliolini and the flat and wide tagliatelle. You choose your own sauce and have her cook it up for you right there. The noodles had a toothiness to them that you just can't get with dried pasta. Divine. Ceres also had fresh bread, pastries, coffee and fabulous focaccia sandwiches.
Hours: Monday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Friday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., closed Saturday and Sunday
Churrasco de Brasil
The Tucson Mall now has its very own version of Fogo de Chão, the famous Brazilian steakhouse that introduced the world to gaucho cuisine. Alums from the national chain went on their own and developed a menu that's similar to Fogo, but locally-owned. For $39.95, each diner gets unlimited meats sliced tableside, as well as unlimited trips to the salad bar and hot dish stations. Churrasco de Brasil's protein selection includes filet mignon, the iconic Brazilian picanha, linguica pork sausage, lamb chops and more. Read more.
Hours: Monday through Thursday 5-9:30 p.m., Friday 5-10 p.m., Saturday 4-10 p.m., Sunday 3:30-8:30 p.m.
Ja Ramen / Curry
Ramen and Japanese curry are the name of the game at this new shop on Campbell Avenue. After an initial visit, we suggest sticking to the latter. Japanese curry is a different beast than Indian or Thai curry: It's always brown and at Ja, it comes with different proteins like pork cutlet, garlic shrimp, beef meatballs and more. You can also choose your spice level from one to 10: We got a five and it had a slight, sweet burn. Get some fried meats like the shrimp tempura to dip in there. Read more.
Hours: Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The old Manna From Heaven fry bread spot on St. Mary's Road is getting new life as a contemporary Mexican restaurant. Mestizos is the product of Patricia Gomez of Nogales, Sonora, who's cooking a mixture of Sonoran and Sinaloan mariscos dishes, as well as recipes from further south in Mexico. The menu is still being built out, but Patricia recommended the blue corn quesadillas and the Tacos Mestizos, which are actually more like empanadas. The space also has a nice patio out back that feels like you're in a garden rather than on a busy street. FYI: It's cash only right now.
Hours: Wednesday through Monday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., closed Tuesday
Red Light Lounge at the Downtown Clifton
The Downtown Clifton boutique motel just completed its expansion this month, and the new wing includes a cocktail bar with a full menu coming soon. The Red Light Lounge is manned by Donald Murray, formerly of The Dusty Monk. He's doing some interesting cocktails here, including a Bacanora margarita and drink with Tequila and Pimm's called the Inglaterra. On Don's recommendation, I enjoyed a Cuba Libre-style rocks cocktail called the Barrio Libre, which had Mexican rum as well as a house blend of whiskey and mezcal. The space was definitely part of the lobby of the hotel, but it still had its own cozy vibe.
Hours: Monday through Friday 3 p.m. to midnight, Saturday and Sunday noon to midnight
Sonoran Brunch Company
Brunchers set your engines! The original Poco and Mom's space on Kolb Road has gotten a total refresh, complete with a license plate ceiling and Danny Martin and Jessica Gonzales murals brightening up the space. The menu at Sonoran Brunch Company goes for an eclectic Tucson hip vibe, with bright takes on huevos rancheros, chorizo skillet pie and more. On our recent visit, we really enjoyed the Wings and Waffles with "Sonoran" fried chicken wings and a housemade sweet corn waffle drizzled with honey. Dab on some of that local Chubasco hot sauce. You may recognize the stuff from the owner's previous employer, Fini's Landing.
Hours: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily
On the horizon:
— There's a colorful sign for a new elote place in front of the former Queen Doughnuts at 1108 W. St. Mary’s Road. The place is called El Chapo, which makes perfect sense?
— Marana is getting a new brewery when Wicked Monkey opens next year, writes Cathalena E. Burch in the Star.
— Two sisters from San Diego plan to open another location of their Taegukgi Korean BBQ House in the old Fuddruckers building on Speedway. The space will also include a boba shop, writes Cathalena E. Burch.
— The Lemon Shark Poke chain is sporting a "now hiring" sign on its front window at 2501 E. Grant Road next to Culinary Dropout.
— Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink is opening a second location next to Tap + Bottle North early next year.