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Tucson Faves: the food

Hi guys! How’s your day going so far? So glad to hear that so many of you are joining in the “Plank a Day” challenge! Abs in April, babyyyy. Not only is the plank one of my favorite total-body strengthening moves (targeting the transverse abdominis + all of the muscles you use to support yourself, including shoulders, chest, quads), it’s also one of the most functional. By improving your core strength, it can help to protect your back from potential compensation and injury, but can also improve balance, posture and alignment. I’ll plank to that πŸ˜‰

We’re here getting settled at on base, which is one temporary home until we move into our new one in San Diego this weekend. I really love it here. They gave us a two-bedroom pet-friendly little townhouse, and it’s close to everything. Much better than staying at our totally empty home!

Today, I thought I’d post the rest of my Tucson faves, which I’m going to go ahead and say is the most important one: THE FOOD. The food here in Tucson is unlike anything I’ve ever had. It’s a beautiful variety of multiple cuisines, but our close distance to Mexico means there’s lots of spiciness and Mexican flair.

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Here are my all-time favorite Tucson restaurants:

Date Night:

Acacia

Acacia

I love the fact that Acacia uses local and season ingredients in their menu offerings + they have a glorious spicy tropical margarita. The bummer: they close pretty early!

Cafe Poca Cosa

Poca menu

This is my “you have to go here” restaurant for Tucson. It’s modern Mexican food, made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Servers walk around presenting the day’s menu, which was created based on what the executive chef bought fresh at the market that day. The menu changes frequently, and there are so substations allowed to preserve the integrity of each dish. Feeling like a gamble: go for the Plato Poca Cosa, which includes samples of three dishes that the chef chooses for you. No two plates are alike, and it may include something from the menu or not. Each dish is served with chips, homemade salsa, salad (with chopped fresh veggies and fruits mixed in), and family-style rice, beans and tortillas. The chocolate mousse is to.die.for.

Blue Willow

Blue willow

Blue Willow offers a variety of dishes, and also has a lot of fantastic gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian offerings. I especially love their breakfast options (you can get traditional breakfast potatoes, toast, beans and rice, or tortillas with your bfast) and Greek salad with blackened salmon.

North

North is one of our frequent dinner stops because even though it’s a nicer restaurant -great for date nights- they’re also very kid-friendly. North is a modern Italian eatery with house-made pasta, great salads and entrees. The kale salad with salmon is my favorite, but I also love their gluten-free pasta dishes.

The Abbey

The board

This is another one of our frequent stops because they have INCREDIBLE date-night quality food, but we can take Livi with us. She loooves the truffle popcorn, “the board” (with charcuterie, pickled veggies, cheese, dried fruit and olives) and kid’s grilled cheese. My favorite is the crispy salmon + whatever dessert they’re offering that night. The Abbey also has a “breakfast for dinner” special, sandwich of the day, and an insane Sunday brunch.

The Flying “V” at Loew’s Ventana Canyon

This is also a wonderful date night spot. The table side guacamole is insane! They offer a variety of dishes with international flair. Everything we’ve had there has been amazing, but my faves are the sea bass tacos and the cioppino. 

Proper

Awesome local food in historic downtown Tucson. Their appetizers and wine selection are especially fantastic.

Lunch spots:

Little Poca Cosa

Pocacosa2

THE BEST. It’s like a casual, loud and family-friendly version of the bigger Cafe Poca Cosa. It’s very crowded and only takes cash, but it is so worth it. The menu offerings also change daily, with fresh juices and horchata too, and everything is served with rice, beans and tortillas. The breakfast is out of this world, and so are the tamales. 

Lovin’ Spoonfuls

This is an all-vegetarian restaurant closer to the central part of Tucson. Everything is made fresh in house, and the portion sizes are extremely generous. 

Renee’s Organic Oven

This is a great, casual lunch or dinner option with salads, pizzas and sandwiches using local and organic ingredients. They have a ton of gluten-free and vegan options, and their pizza is my favorite. The dessert and local wine selections are wonderful, too!

Guadalajara Grill

G grill2

This is where we take friends or family that are visiting and want casual Mexican food. There are mariachis performing over the weekend, and all of the salsa is made at your table according to spiciness preference. The east side location also has patio seating, which is perfect during the summer months with a giant margarita πŸ™‚

Beyond Bread

This is a delicious local lunch and breakfast spot. It’s more quick service, like a deli, and all of the bread is made fresh. They also offer salads and killer pastries/desserts. My favorite is the Kalid’s curry (curried chicken salad) on lettuce.

Breakfast:

The Good Egg

A classic breakfast option, very family friendly and fresh. I definitely recommend the east side location. The Grant one has much slower service and the food at Craycroft isn’t quite as good.

Blue Willow (again)

Blues n BBQ at Loew’s Ventana Canyon

Mothers day brunch  1 of 1

This is another spot that we’ll go to for special occasions (like Mother’s Day brunch) or to take out of town visitors. The brunch is INSANE. Everything you could ever wish for is there: grill station (with salmon, chicken, ribs, steaks, veggies), raw bar (sushi and oysters), classic breakfast and lunch staples, desserts (like the cobbler in a jar!), Bloody Mary bar and all-you-can-drink mimosas. It’s kind of pricey, but 100% worth it.

Cup Cafe

A cute spot on Congress with great food (LOVE their tortilla soup), coffee and drinks. They’re also open late.

B Line

Tacos, salads, sandwiches, breakfast, a giant dessert case… anything is delicious here πŸ™‚

Smoothies, snacks, Tucson staples, cocktails:

Union Public House

We’ve only been here once, but I wish we would have gone back more often. They serve their drinks in unique and antique vessels, and have killer specials. 

eegees

Eegees  1 of 1 2

The Tucson classic! It’s like a slushy/icy.. kind of hard to explain, but there’s nothing else like it. Each month they have a flavor of the month, in addition to the classic lemon, strawberry and pina colada eegees. Also amazing: the ranch fries. Do it. 

Xoom Juice

Smoothies! They have unique smoothie options (like coffee smoothies) and lots of fun combos. Higher quality ingredients than the usual smoothie spots.

Cartel Coffee

The breakfast here is surprisingly good, but I also love the vibe at Cartel. The music is loud, and it’s the kind of place where you can park for hours to study/write. 

Coffee Xchange

This is another one of my favorite study/writing spots. Local coffee + great food (hummus sandwiches, bagels, salads, pastries, etc). They also have almond milk lattes, which automatically makes them my fave πŸ˜‰

Other must-see Tucson spots:

Sabino scenery  1 of 1

Sabino Canyon <– my favorite hiking spot

4th Ave Street Fair: local vendors, crafts and food

Dia de los Muertos events and parade: so many fun and unique-to-Tucson events. The parade is especially amazing πŸ™‚

Tucson Meet Yourself, also known as “Tucson Eat Yourself.” 

Hope you guys enjoyed this little series! 

What’s your favorite restaurant in your hometown??

xoxo

Gina

 

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37 Comments

  1. Haley @Cupcakes and Sunshine on April 1, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Yuuuummmm! I want to try them all! I’ll have to make my way out to Tucson!

    • Fitnessista on April 1, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      it’s worth it for the food alone πŸ˜‰

  2. Danielle on April 1, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I’m visiting San Diego in September with my girlfriends – We would loooove a post like this on San Diego once you get settled in and find the best shopping & dinning! πŸ™‚

    • Fitnessista on April 1, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      it will probably be when we move again haha πŸ™‚ i’ll definitely write about amazing places as i find them!

  3. JG on April 1, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    If you haven’t been already, you should check out Tender Greens: http://www.tendergreens.com/ There used to only be the one in Point Loma, but it looks like there are lots of locations now! Yummm.

    • Fitnessista on April 1, 2014 at 6:40 pm

      omgggg that sounds amazing

      • JG on April 1, 2014 at 6:47 pm

        It’s my most favorite non-fancy place to eat in SD. I hope you like it! πŸ˜€

        • Fitnessista on April 1, 2014 at 6:51 pm

          i’m sure i will! πŸ™‚

          • Allison on April 2, 2014 at 10:33 am

            TENDER GREENS IS INNNNCREDIBLE! I love it. The UTC location gets super crowded but they have a Harvest salad (which has local fruit/nuts/cheese depending on what’s available) and the one in Liberty Station doesn’t have that option. Also in Liberty Station: Con Pane. Incredddible sandwiches from this bakery (not sure if they have gluten free). Another place similar to Tender Greens which you’d love is Urban Plates, in Carmel Valley area. Other things: chocolate dipped macaroons and well, everything else from Bread & Cie in Hillcrest, and Chocolat (also Hillcrest) has the most incredible spicy dark chocolate gelato in the world.

            I honestly have a gazillion more suggestions but I’m sure you will be discovering them in your own time!



          • Fitnessista on April 2, 2014 at 11:32 am

            you’re making me so excited! πŸ™‚



  4. Paula on April 1, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    You make me miss having so many good dining options so close at hand! My fave place in my new town is this little place called Southern Charm. Their meatloaf inspired some serious experimentation in my kitchen; and they make this roast chicken with sea salt and caramel that sounds a little wacky but totally works. It’s like a once-quarterly-at-most kind of food, though.

  5. jodie on April 1, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Thanks for posting the Tucson faves will check them out when I visit. Going to IDEA this year, cannot wait.

    • Fitnessista on April 1, 2014 at 7:33 pm

      yay, i’ll see you there!

      • jodie on April 1, 2014 at 7:52 pm

        Awesome!!

  6. Bron on April 1, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Oh I would love if more bloggers did this!! I see restaurant reviews but you have to trawl through pages, which isn’t worth it if you’re just visiting for a day or two!

  7. Lauren @ Sassy Molassy on April 1, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    I love the idea of the plank challenge and it reminds me of one of your ab videos I’ve done a few times where you say you think having a six pack under your sweater is more shocking that way. Ha! Someday, I want to visit Tucson just for the food as all of your meals out sound amazing.

    Oh my, just fyi, Disney’s Pirate Fairy ad just populated your whole background rather than being the usual pink.

    • Fitnessista on April 1, 2014 at 7:34 pm

      yes, sorry about that. it ends today! and tucson is totally worth the trip for the food! πŸ™‚

  8. Katrina on April 1, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    THANK YOU for this wonderful snapshot of all the cool handouts! Just moved to tucson and excited to check them out. Is it date night yet? Lol

    • Katrina on April 1, 2014 at 8:19 pm

      *hangouts* not handouts, silly autocorrect

    • Fitnessista on April 1, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      haha, it changed “naptime” to “baptisms” for me today πŸ˜‰ hope you find some new spots you love!

  9. Jackie on April 1, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    My favorite restaurant is Papa Joes and it is a total hole in the wall Mexican joint but they have the BEST salsa ever!

  10. Christina on April 1, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    I still miss beyond bread’s Bart’s bag..soooo good. I also love Wilko on university and Sauce!

  11. Sara @ LovingOnTheRun on April 1, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Looks like such delicious food! Hope you enjoy these “in between” days and that the move goes smoothly this weekend!

  12. Megan @ The Skinny-Life on April 1, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Which one is your ultimate favorite? I would say cafe poca cosa. It tough to choose so many Tucdon charms!

  13. Cinthya T on April 2, 2014 at 12:03 am

    That’s it…you’ve convinced me..I’m packing my stuff and moving to Tucson.

  14. Kat on April 2, 2014 at 9:03 am

    I’m doing a girls weekend with my mom in Sedona and Phoenix in May–any chance you have recs for eating there? Also we are looking for a good yoga studio in Sedona. Totally unrelated, are you selling your house in Tucson or renting it out?

  15. April on April 2, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I have never been to Tucson, but now i know where to eat, thanks!!! I am SO jealous of all the Mexican restaurants – I am from California and live in Boston so I don’t get good Mexican:( And in SD you will also get good Mexican, again so jealous:)
    Good luck with the move, it already sounds like it’s going well!

  16. Sam @ The Balance Artist on April 2, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Ohhhhh this post made me REALLY miss Tucson!!! I haven’t been there since I graduated in 2010…this U of A girl has been to SO many of these places and now I REALLY can’t wait to go back. The food seriously is the BEST!!! I could realllly go for an Eegees right now, with a side of Guadalajara spicy salsa….and Blue Willow blackened salmon….and Cup Cafe soup…..AH!

  17. Rhiannon @ Bound to be a Buckeye on April 2, 2014 at 10:30 am

    I love all of your restaurant tips! You’ve helped me so much when we venture to Vegas. Our favorite spot to eat in our town is West Texas Roadhouse. If you’re a steak lover, they are delicious and cooked to perfection. The owners are wonderful people which adds to the great atmosphere. This was our go-to spot when we didn’t have a house here yet and they have remembered us each time we stop in. There’s definitely something special about locally owned businesses.

  18. Emily on April 2, 2014 at 10:41 am

    You are making me miss Tucson! Blue willow is the bomb!

  19. Laura B @ FitMamaLove on April 2, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Welcome to California! πŸ™‚

  20. Tracy on April 2, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    What a great list of restaurants! Makes me want to make a trip back soon πŸ™‚ I bet it’s hard to leave all those great restaurants behind…luckily you’ll have plenty of chances to get your fix when you’re home visiting family. You’re about to be exposed to so many amazing restaurants in SD though!!

    Hope the move is going well!

  21. Kirsten | Fit + Fab on April 5, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    My first trip to Tucson I am definitely going to visit some of these places. I’ve never been, but this list (because my world revolves around food… or as of lately since I’m in training and prep it revolves around dreaming about food) really makes me want to visit Tucson very soon!

  22. courtney b on October 15, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Ah I knew you’d have a good list of Tucson spots! I tried Cafe Poca Cosa a month or so ago on your recommendation. Loved it! I have a list of one’s to try for my bday this weekend. Thank you!!

    • Fitnessista on October 15, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      so happy you liked it!!! let me know where you go for your bday πŸ™‚ xo

      • courtney b on October 16, 2014 at 2:21 pm

        So far, Guadalajara grill is closed(reno) and the Abbey is closed closed! So sad!

  23. Jill on April 17, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    We’ll be in Tucson next weekend. I used this post to line out all of our meals! Vacations are all about the meals, right? πŸ˜‰ Love your blog!!

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