Brrr, it was cloudy today? I'm currently wearing a turtleneck sweater and thinking about the crunchy tripas tacos I ate for lunch. How lucky are we to live in a place where you can walk down the street in January and feast on Mexican lobster and oysters splashed in Modelo beer?
I've felt very fortunate lately on Fourth Avenue, strolling past ice cream shops and a shipping container food hall. (And now you can get Nashville hot chicken by the Hippie Gypsy? More on Pops Hot Chicken truck later, but definitely check them out.)
Tucson has seen a lot of fun new concepts open in the past couple months, but everyone is buzzing over a Chinese restaurant called Fatman Kitchen. If you haven't had their housemade splashing noodles yet, you know what to do. They've also got spicy soups to warm your belly.
Anyway, take a look at these options and tell me you're not hungry. Well, don't actually tell me that because it makes me sad. But you know what I mean.
628 N. Fourth Ave., 520-867-6886
The Blind Tiger opened late last year in the space that used to house Casbah Tea House and more recently The Kitchen. The Star recently reported that the menu has pizzas, burgers and appetizers like carne asada fries. The restaurant also has a strong bar menu that puts Tucson twists on cocktails like the Monsoon Storm, with rum, ginger beer, prickly pear syrup and a chamoy rim.
Hours: Thursday through Saturday 4 to 11 p.m.
238 N. Fourth Ave., 520-405-1835
More than two years after the initial announcement was made, Fourth Avenue is finally getting its shipping container food hall. The bar portion of The Boxyard opened for business in January but the food vendors are still in limbo. The owners are in the last stages of pulling everything together, so expect more info from them in the next few weeks. For now, the bar has 15 beers on tap including a house Boxyard lager from Odell Brewing.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily
Charro del Rey
178 E. Broadway, 520-645-1922
The iconic Mexican restaurant El Charro is pushing forward in its quest for fine dining in downtown Tucson. This January it opened its seafood spot Charro del Rey in the historic Julian Drew building next to Charro Steak. Del Rey is essentially serving Sonoran and Sinaloan mariscos, but in a lavishly vintage setting. The draw of the restaurant is its raw bar, which features lobster, caviar and more.
Hours: Monday through Thursday and Sunday 4 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4 to 11 p.m.
Desert Dream Ice Creamery
210 N. Fourth Ave., 520-347-6808
Isabella's ice cream moved out of its Fourth Avenue location late last year, but the space is hosting a new ice cream shop called Desert Dream. Brothers Zech and Noah Bergeron recently took over Desert Dream Ice Creamery when it closed its former location on Speedway and Campbell. They still make their own ice cream flavors like Coyote Tracks and Elvis Pretzel with help from the original owner.
Hours: Tuesday through Friday noon to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., closed Monday.
2610 N. First Ave., 520-882-3059
This midtown Chinese restaurant has taken off in a big way since it opened late last year. Fatman Kitchen's menu is made up of Sichuan specialties as well as housemade wheat noodle dishes from the Shanxi province of Northeastern China. The star of the show here is the Xian Oil splashing noodles; thick belts of wheat as long as your arm. But they also make thinner spaghetti-like noodles, which you can order in a heady brisket noodle soup as well as a dry soybean Zha jiang mian. There might be a bit of a wait these days, but it's worth it.
Hours: Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Friday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Jimmy’s Pita and Poke
3820 W. River Road, Suite 130, 520-912-4972
The Main Gate Square pita joint started serving poke bowls in 2017, which seems to be a successful formula. Jimmy's Pita and Poke just opened its second location near Caps & Corks on Orange Grove and the freeway. The formula is the same: You build your own pita wraps and poke bowls with ingredients like edamame beans, tuna and more. You can even combine the two by putting the fresh fish in a pita wrap. The restaurant also offers hot rice bowls, salads and more.
Hours: Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
2908 S. Fourth Ave., 520-623-5307
Micha's, which has anchored the southern end of South Fourth Avenue for more than four decades now, reopened in December. The restaurant had been closed since last April when a kitchen fire destroyed the interior of the restaurant. Expect the same menu of classic borderlands dishes like beef patty tacos, chimichangas, cheese crisps and more.
Hours: Monday 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Millie’s Pancake Haus
6541 E. Tanque Verde Road, 520-298-4250
This German-inspired breakfast restaurant spent 36 years on Tanque Verde Road, but recently moved across the street to Trail Dust Town. Its new digs inside the former Dakota Cafe are actually smaller than the original location, but have a more efficient kitchen to cut down on long wait times. You should check out Millie's Pancake Haus if you're into the sweeter side of breakfast; They've got a huge variety with rare items like Swedish pancakes, crepes, blintzes and more. The stunner here is the German pancake, pictured above. It's baked in the oven and stuffed with cinnamon apples.
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., closed Monday
4590 E. Broadway, 520-838-0687
This Greek restaurant in the former home of Zivaz Mexican Bistro is not actually associated with Opa Time! at American Eat Co. Opa's Best is owned by brothers Qais and Nawid Esar, who hail from Turkey and have crafted an extensive menu of Mediterranean specialties. In addition to the gyros and souvlakis you might expect, the restaurant also has a big selection of Greek burgers. I'm intrigued by the saganaki burger which features that wonderful sheep's cheese that restaurants love to set on fire. Opa!
Hours: Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with lunch specials every day from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Sweetscape Desserts at Casino del Sol
5655 W. Valencia Road, 855-765-7829
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Casino Del Sol is looking (and tasting) a little sweeter with the launch of our newest eatery, SweetScape! This new concept created by Executive Chef Ryan Clark and his team will offer guests sweet treats like gelato, donuts, sundaes and even savory items like breakfast sandwiches! 🍩 Open daily from 7am-11pm and located next to our bingo hall, SweetScape is sure to have a treat for everyone! 🍦 #casinodelsol #sweetscape #sweettooth #tucsonfoodie #desertdesserts #dessertqueen #dessertking
This dessert shop opened early January near the bingo hall at Casino del Sol. The eclectic menu at Sweetscape Desserts was created by Chef Ryan Clark and his culinary team, and includes gelato, shakes, floats, sundaes, breakfast sandwiches and more. But you'll probably be drawn in by the colorful donuts from pastry chef Gina Skelton. Her whimsical flavors include fluffernutter, fruit cereal, maple bacon and more.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
El Taquito King
4602 E. 29th St., 520-747-3313
This southside taqueria is owned by the popular El Sur restaurant on 22nd Street. The space was formerly El Sur #2, but the owners recently decided to mix things up and create a different menu with tacos, wings, Sonoran dogs and more. The cool thing about El Taquito King is that they make their own corn tortillas, which were thinner and had a pleasingly clean taste to them. Also if you like the funkier cuts like tripas and buche (pork stomach), they do a great job here making them crispy delicious.
Hours: Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., closed Sunday
Trident Pizza Pub
446 N. Campbell Ave., 520-274-7068
Popular campus-area bar and restaurant Trident Grill recently took over the Grimaldi's space on Campbell, opening up Trident Pizza Pub. They're keeping the glorious pizza oven but switching over from a coal-fired method to local woods like mesquite and pecan. Oh yeah, and they also brought in a world-renowned pizza acrobat to execute the menu? Eric Corbin brings his expertise and knowledge to create an excellent crust, but the toppings keep this pizza in the realm of yummy bar food.
Hours: Sunday through Thursday 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to midnight
On the horizon:
— Che West is getting close to announcing an opening date for his own tortilla shop at 2105 S. Sixth Ave.
— Just Kabab plans to open soon at 10420 N. La Cañada Drive in Oro Valley.
— Holy Smokin' Butts BBQ announced on Facebook a tentative opening for its Broadway and Kolb location Feb. 12
- With reporting by Cathalena E. Burch