Not that long ago, some of Tucson’s elite could be heard remarking that they didn’t see the need to go east of Country Club Road, but if they hold that view now, they’re missing out. If you’re looking for somewhere in the area between Craycroft Road and the Rincon Mountains, you won’t have to make concessions on quality.
3750 S Old Spanish Trail
If you’re visiting the east section of Saguaro National Park (and you should!), why not finish the experience with some comfort food and a cold beer? Saguaro Corners is a Tucson classic, recently updated without taking away the tucked-into-nature charm. Plus, they serve mini-Sonoran hot dogs as an appetizer. What more could you really want?
7002 E Broadway Blvd
Sometimes you just want pancakes and Baja Cafe takes the humble breakfast food and riffs on it like a jazz musician taking on a standard. Let us just tell you this: they have snickerdoodle pancakes, cinnamon roll pancakes and generally some out-there-but-crazy-delicious daily special. If you’re not in the mood for sweet, the fresh take on diner food continues on the savory side with chorizo tamale cakes and Venezuelan popovers called pupusas also available.
Renee’s Organic Oven
7065 E Tanque Verde Rd
The key to Renee’s Organic Oven is the second word in its name: organic. It’s not just that Renee picks out ingredients that can carry that tag, but that she’s dedicated to providing smart, conscientious cuisine across the board - seasonal, sustainable, yet always delicious. Great news for the gluten-free folks as well: Renee’s takes the trend to an entirely different level, preparing those dishes on a separate prep line to avoid contamination.
Poco and Mom’s
1060 S Kolb Rd
7000 E Tanque Verde Rd
It hurts a little bit to represent for a New Mexico-style restaurant here in Southern Arizona, but the red and green chile at Poco and Mom’s forces us to overcome our general cross-state antagonism. The Kolb Road location is a tiny spot focusing on breakfast and the cantina on Tanque Verde puts on a great show all day.
2400 N Pantano Rd
Also, a truck on 22nd Street between Craycroft and Wilmot
It could be argued that the best Mexican food comes from food trucks and Taqueria Jason has been cranking out tasty and affordable meals, complete with a superb salsa bar on 22nd Street for awhile. Then they opened a location not on wheels. Would it still feel the same? Was mobility part of the secret of success? Turns out they could replicate quality, so if you’d like a great burrito or a Sonoran hot dog on the eastside, Jason is here to serve.
Tucson Tamale Company
7159 E Tanque Verde Rd
Tamales are a big part of the culture here, and while we’re not disparaging the ones your nana makes with an olive stuffed inside the masa, the ones made here at Tucson Tamale Company are a must try. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options here (and nearly everything is gluten free), but there’s also the Arizona filled with chipotle beef for the carnivore crowd.
6260 E Speedway Blvd
Beyond Bread has great sandwiches. On great bread they make at each location. Oh, and an array of tempting desserts. It’s not a massively-complicated concept, but it works. It sounds trite, but if you want a wide variety of great sandwiches, possibly with a lemon bar as a chaser, Beyond Bread’s a great choice.