A customer takes a look at the menu at Tanias 33 on Feb. 1, 2022.

Editor's note: #ThisIsTucson's food writer Ellice Lueders has been working with students at City High School, after they were tasked with an assignment to write a review of a local restaurant. This story, by student Molly Lenertz, was selected as the winning review of the class and we wanted to share it!

In the heart of Tucson's Barrio Hollywood, 614 N. Grande Ave. to be exact, is a hidden gem.

Tanias 33 is a Mexican and Sonoran restaurant that may not look like much from the outside, but is an all-out delight when you come through the doors. They have tacos, burritos, enchiladas, flautas, tostadas, quesadillas, my personal favorite — menudo, and more. Along with some desserts, drinks, sides and vegan options, I think it would be a challenge to walk out of the restaurant unsatisfied.

Burritos being wrapped for a to-go order on Feb. 1, 2022 at Tanias 33.

Tanias 33 sits along the east side of Grande Avenue, in a large gray building with a purple canopy for a splash of color. Signs and menus are plastered around the entrance, but it still has a very hole-in-the-wall feel to it. When you walk through the doors, you are greeted with comfortable and very homey seating arrangements, an easily accessible counter with the menu projected on TVs hanging on the wall, and a large floor-to-ceiling cooler filled with all kinds of sodas and drinks.

They have a large cardboard cutout of a T-rex holding a burrito, a fun addition to the atmosphere and an advertisement for their "Burrito Rex," an inhumanely large burrito they serve as a fun challenge for willing participants. Along the counter are bags of pan dulce, chips and many other snacks.

A gallon of menudo gets poured for a to-go order on Feb. 1, 2022 at Tanias 33.

When it comes to food, Tanias 33 dominates the game. They have an overwhelming assortment of items, all of which can be altered to your exact liking.

My all-time favorite of theirs — and one of my comfort foods — is their white menudo with cilantro, chopped onions, lemon and toasted bread. It has hominy, which are soft dried maize kernels; and tripe, which is the lining of cow stomach; all soaking in warm broth. The lemon adds a welcome pinch of sour to the soup, the cilantro and onions add a nice crunch and refreshing taste, the tripe is soft and chewy with a warm savory flavor, and the hominy has a wonderful chewy-like texture with a very mild taste.

I enjoy soaking the toasted bread in the broth for a minute or two and eating it like that. The bread holds the broth very well and adds a nice crunch and buttery taste.

I will never get tired of menudo, and I have Tanias to thank for that.

Bread for the menudo toasts and gets turned by employee on Feb. 1, 2022 at Tanias 33.

If you cannot already tell, I think rather highly of Tanias 33. I've been eating there since I was small and I will continue to do so for as long as I am in Tucson. They have remarkable service, food and atmosphere. There are very few restaurants that I feel so comfortable inside of and welcomed into, and I am beyond grateful that Tanias has always been a safe — and tasty — place for me to enjoy time with my family.

The only thing I can think to complain about are the dinner rushes, when they get very busy due to their overwhelming popularity. Despite however busy they might be, the space is always clean and welcoming, the workers are always kind and looking to help in any way they can, and the food is always made with the utmost care and quality you can look to receive.

They care for their customers, and not just their taste buds. They have very affordable prices, cheap enough that you can easily sit down and enjoy a meal with some friends, while still knowing you're paying for quality ingredients.

I have been to many restaurants in Tucson, and many of them are in competition for placements on my list of favorites. Places like Zemams, El Minuto, Yoshimatsu, Bumsteds, and the now-closed Cafe Poca Cosa — all very good and I highly recommend them, but there was no contest for who I was going to write about.

Tanias 33 is the silver lining to any dark cloud, and I really wanted to write and share about its wonderful cooking and community.

Tanias has been with me through sick spells, bad days, celebrations, family dinners, solo lunches and more. I look forward to the next time I can eat there, and I strongly encourage you to try them too.

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