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Pizza at Fiamme
Photo: Fiamme Pizza

The 13 Hottest New Restaurants in Tucson, Arizona

Neapolitan pizza, Hawaii-style loco moco, and cocktails in a former funeral home

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Pizza at Fiamme
| Photo: Fiamme Pizza

coToday, Eater returns to Tucson, Arizona, to check in on 13 new restaurants that have been garnering some serious buzz. Once again, Tucson Foodie's Adam Lehrman has kindly offered up his recommendations for the hottest openings of the past 12 months.

Among his selections are a bevy of farmers-market staples that have recently gone brick-and-mortar (Tumerico, Barrio Bread, Fiamme Pizza), an all-day breakfast and beer spot (Tallboys), and a cocktail den housed inside a historic former funeral home (Owls Club).

Without further ado, and in geographic order, the Eater Heatmap to Tucson:

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Bird Modern Provisions & Bar

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The third restaurant from up-and-coming local restaurant group Fukushu Concepts offers new interpretations of a range of Southern dishes, like deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes, and creamy grits, inside a beautiful, bright, fully glass-enclosed dining room. The cocktail and bar program, filled with classic cocktails like mint juleps and Sazeracs, is equally impressive.

Fried chicken at Bird Modern Provisions & Bar
Photo: Bird Modern Provisions & Bar / Facebook

Teaspoon

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Although downtown Tucson gets most of the love (and press) these days, not all the new top dining destinations are in that area. Teaspoon, located on Tucson’s north side, features kitchen classics with just enough of a reinterpretation to keep things interesting. And while it’d be easy to peg the restaurant as a breakfast spot, its menu extends well beyond the morning meal. Don’t miss the cast-iron Dutch Baby pancake or the Hong Kong street food-inspired bubble waffle.

Bubble waffles at Teaspoon
Photo: Teaspoon / Facebook

Fiamme Pizza

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Italy-trained pizzaiolo Scott Volpe started out with a mobile pizza oven at local farmers markets before going brick-and-mortar. But whether he’s on wheels or stationary, Volpe — who recently won the 2017 World Pizza Championship for his pizza acrobatics skills — makes some of the best Neapolitan pizza in town, with a charred crust and traditional ingredients. Plus, the restaurant happens to serve the only fried calzone in Tucson, a Wednesday-only special.

Pizza at Fiamme
Photo: Fiamme Pizza / Facebook

Island Plate Lunch

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What Island Plate lacks in ambience, it makes up for in fresh, Hawaii-inspired dishes. Find hearty portions of classic plate lunches, like loco moco and kalua pork, alongside standards with a twist, such as poke bowls with crab salad and ahi-topped bruschetta. A variety of imported Hawaii snacks and drinks are also on hand.

Saimin at Island Plate Lunch
Photo: Island Plate Lunch / Facebook

The Twisted Tandoor

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Although this beloved former food truck missed its brick-and-mortar opening date by six months, it was well worth the wait. Twisted Tandoor’s creamy, spicy chicken tikka masala is unrivaled, and its new modern, open space allows for a view into the kitchen. The India-inspired cocktail menu, with drinks like the Indian Vesper, made with a saffron infused gin, is a highlight.

The Twisted Tandoor
Photo: The Twisted Tandoor / Facebook

Jackson Bar + Eatery

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Hidden in a strip mall on Tucson’s far northeast side, Jackson Bar + Eatery proudly makes everything on its menu — from flatbreads to ranch dressing — from scratch. Its northeast location brings in share of golfers and Maseratis, but guests don’t have to spend a fortune for well-executed dishes such as the black truffle burger and dry-rubbed hanger steak. While the tile ceiling dresses up the space just a bit, Jackson is still casual enough to serve as a neighborhood joint.

Dessert at Jackson Bar + Eatery
Photo: Jackson Bar + Eatery / Facebook

The Dutch Eatery & Refuge

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The Dutch’s new digs could indeed qualify as one of the most breathtaking buildings in Tucson for its prime University Boulevard location, excellent people watching, and massive footprint. Wood floors and thick wooden tables provide a solid anchor to the Dutch’s ultra-high ceilings, and the bright, well-lit restaurant is an Instagram food photographer’s dream. Chef and co-owner Marcus van Winden builds beautifully upon that foundation with a well-thought-out menu that zig-zags between American and traditional Dutch cuisine.

A burger at The Dutch Eatery & Refuge
Photo: The Dutch Eatery & Refuge / Facebook

Tallboys

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Self-described as “breakfast AF,” Tallboys serves breakfast sandwiches and huevos rancheros from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, along with a massive selection of its namesake tallboy cans. The exposed brick mingles with string lights and lacy white curtains, giving the space a laid-back vibe. For the ultimate hangover slayer, order the eponymous Tallboy tots with two over-medium eggs, cheese, green chile, bacon, chipotle crema, pesto, pickled veggies, and avocado.

Breakfast at Tallboys
Photo: Tallboys / Facebook

Sand Reckoner Tasting Room

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Wine bars have come and gone in Tucson, but Sand Reckoner seems here to stay. Located in a converted loft space that doubles as an art gallery, the high ceilings, minimalist decor, and long layout lend the space a big-city vibe. Fair warning: Sand Reckoner is a winery, and this is merely the Tucson tasting room, meaning it’s just their wine. But it’s without a doubt some of the best wine produced in the state.

A glass of Sand Reckoner rose
Photo: Sand Reckoner / Instagram

Tumerico

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Owner and chef Wendy Garcia doesn’t hold back with the vegetarian dishes at this no-frills, no-ambience-makes-the-ambience breakfast and lunch spot. It’s Mexican inspired, but by no means “Mexican food.” The menu changes often and the heaping plates are filled to the brim with colorful items, like butternut squash tamales and sweet potato pancakes.

A plate at Tumerico
Photo: Tumerico / Facebook

The Drunken Chicken

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Another new Fourth Avenue restaurant with a self-descriptive name, the Drunken Chicken features a wide range of craft beer alongside chicken and waffles. Although the menu is short, it’s creative with dishes like fried deviled eggs and the “Beast,” a chicken strip wrapped in bacon and dipped in waffle batter. A variety of quality dipping sauces, such as bourbon maple syrup and ancho ranch, take the simply seasoned items to the next level. The long, narrow space features ambient yet bright lighting with an unpretentious vibe for anyone who wants to sit down for a meal or just swing by for a beer.

Chicken and waffles at the Drunken Chicken
Photo by Andi Berlin / Arizona Daily Star

Barrio Bread

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After making the jump from (literally) baking in his garage to opening an actual storefront bakery, Barrio Bread’s Don Guerra and his legions of fans — who lined up for his bread at the farmers market, CSA, and other spots around town — increased tenfold. While certain loaves make daily appearances, others, like the cranberry walnut and heritage grain, are only offered one day a week. Just make sure to stop in on at least one Wednesday for the olive bread.

A loaf of bread at Barrio Bread
Photo: Barrio Bread / Instagram

Owls Club

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This dark and divey cocktail lounge in a former historic funeral home is what dreams are made of — if those dreams are of high-end whiskeys and craft cocktails, that is. Owls Club owner Patricia Schwabe, who also owns Penca Restaurant, tapped her own star bartender Bryan Eichorst to develop the cocktail menu. With its shortened pews for booth seating and awkward nooks for quiet, more intimate conversation, Owls Club is the spot to hit downtown for those looking for something just off the beaten path.

Owls Club
Photo: Owls Club / Facebook

Bird Modern Provisions & Bar

Fried chicken at Bird Modern Provisions & Bar
Photo: Bird Modern Provisions & Bar / Facebook

The third restaurant from up-and-coming local restaurant group Fukushu Concepts offers new interpretations of a range of Southern dishes, like deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes, and creamy grits, inside a beautiful, bright, fully glass-enclosed dining room. The cocktail and bar program, filled with classic cocktails like mint juleps and Sazeracs, is equally impressive.

Fried chicken at Bird Modern Provisions & Bar
Photo: Bird Modern Provisions & Bar / Facebook

Teaspoon

Bubble waffles at Teaspoon
Photo: Teaspoon / Facebook

Although downtown Tucson gets most of the love (and press) these days, not all the new top dining destinations are in that area. Teaspoon, located on Tucson’s north side, features kitchen classics with just enough of a reinterpretation to keep things interesting. And while it’d be easy to peg the restaurant as a breakfast spot, its menu extends well beyond the morning meal. Don’t miss the cast-iron Dutch Baby pancake or the Hong Kong street food-inspired bubble waffle.

Bubble waffles at Teaspoon
Photo: Teaspoon / Facebook

Fiamme Pizza

Pizza at Fiamme
Photo: Fiamme Pizza / Facebook

Italy-trained pizzaiolo Scott Volpe started out with a mobile pizza oven at local farmers markets before going brick-and-mortar. But whether he’s on wheels or stationary, Volpe — who recently won the 2017 World Pizza Championship for his pizza acrobatics skills — makes some of the best Neapolitan pizza in town, with a charred crust and traditional ingredients. Plus, the restaurant happens to serve the only fried calzone in Tucson, a Wednesday-only special.

Pizza at Fiamme
Photo: Fiamme Pizza / Facebook

Island Plate Lunch

Saimin at Island Plate Lunch
Photo: Island Plate Lunch / Facebook

What Island Plate lacks in ambience, it makes up for in fresh, Hawaii-inspired dishes. Find hearty portions of classic plate lunches, like loco moco and kalua pork, alongside standards with a twist, such as poke bowls with crab salad and ahi-topped bruschetta. A variety of imported Hawaii snacks and drinks are also on hand.

Saimin at Island Plate Lunch
Photo: Island Plate Lunch / Facebook

The Twisted Tandoor

The Twisted Tandoor
Photo: The Twisted Tandoor / Facebook

Although this beloved former food truck missed its brick-and-mortar opening date by six months, it was well worth the wait. Twisted Tandoor’s creamy, spicy chicken tikka masala is unrivaled, and its new modern, open space allows for a view into the kitchen. The India-inspired cocktail menu, with drinks like the Indian Vesper, made with a saffron infused gin, is a highlight.

The Twisted Tandoor
Photo: The Twisted Tandoor / Facebook

Jackson Bar + Eatery

Dessert at Jackson Bar + Eatery
Photo: Jackson Bar + Eatery / Facebook

Hidden in a strip mall on Tucson’s far northeast side, Jackson Bar + Eatery proudly makes everything on its menu — from flatbreads to ranch dressing — from scratch. Its northeast location brings in share of golfers and Maseratis, but guests don’t have to spend a fortune for well-executed dishes such as the black truffle burger and dry-rubbed hanger steak. While the tile ceiling dresses up the space just a bit, Jackson is still casual enough to serve as a neighborhood joint.

Dessert at Jackson Bar + Eatery
Photo: Jackson Bar + Eatery / Facebook

The Dutch Eatery & Refuge

A burger at The Dutch Eatery & Refuge
Photo: The Dutch Eatery & Refuge / Facebook

The Dutch’s new digs could indeed qualify as one of the most breathtaking buildings in Tucson for its prime University Boulevard location, excellent people watching, and massive footprint. Wood floors and thick wooden tables provide a solid anchor to the Dutch’s ultra-high ceilings, and the bright, well-lit restaurant is an Instagram food photographer’s dream. Chef and co-owner Marcus van Winden builds beautifully upon that foundation with a well-thought-out menu that zig-zags between American and traditional Dutch cuisine.

A burger at The Dutch Eatery & Refuge
Photo: The Dutch Eatery & Refuge / Facebook

Tallboys

Breakfast at Tallboys
Photo: Tallboys / Facebook

Self-described as “breakfast AF,” Tallboys serves breakfast sandwiches and huevos rancheros from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, along with a massive selection of its namesake tallboy cans. The exposed brick mingles with string lights and lacy white curtains, giving the space a laid-back vibe. For the ultimate hangover slayer, order the eponymous Tallboy tots with two over-medium eggs, cheese, green chile, bacon, chipotle crema, pesto, pickled veggies, and avocado.

Breakfast at Tallboys
Photo: Tallboys / Facebook

Sand Reckoner Tasting Room

A glass of Sand Reckoner rose
Photo: Sand Reckoner / Instagram

Wine bars have come and gone in Tucson, but Sand Reckoner seems here to stay. Located in a converted loft space that doubles as an art gallery, the high ceilings, minimalist decor, and long layout lend the space a big-city vibe. Fair warning: Sand Reckoner is a winery, and this is merely the Tucson tasting room, meaning it’s just their wine. But it’s without a doubt some of the best wine produced in the state.

A glass of Sand Reckoner rose
Photo: Sand Reckoner / Instagram

Tumerico

A plate at Tumerico
Photo: Tumerico / Facebook

Owner and chef Wendy Garcia doesn’t hold back with the vegetarian dishes at this no-frills, no-ambience-makes-the-ambience breakfast and lunch spot. It’s Mexican inspired, but by no means “Mexican food.” The menu changes often and the heaping plates are filled to the brim with colorful items, like butternut squash tamales and sweet potato pancakes.

A plate at Tumerico
Photo: Tumerico / Facebook

The Drunken Chicken

Chicken and waffles at the Drunken Chicken
Photo by Andi Berlin / Arizona Daily Star

Another new Fourth Avenue restaurant with a self-descriptive name, the Drunken Chicken features a wide range of craft beer alongside chicken and waffles. Although the menu is short, it’s creative with dishes like fried deviled eggs and the “Beast,” a chicken strip wrapped in bacon and dipped in waffle batter. A variety of quality dipping sauces, such as bourbon maple syrup and ancho ranch, take the simply seasoned items to the next level. The long, narrow space features ambient yet bright lighting with an unpretentious vibe for anyone who wants to sit down for a meal or just swing by for a beer.

Chicken and waffles at the Drunken Chicken
Photo by Andi Berlin / Arizona Daily Star

Barrio Bread

A loaf of bread at Barrio Bread
Photo: Barrio Bread / Instagram

After making the jump from (literally) baking in his garage to opening an actual storefront bakery, Barrio Bread’s Don Guerra and his legions of fans — who lined up for his bread at the farmers market, CSA, and other spots around town — increased tenfold. While certain loaves make daily appearances, others, like the cranberry walnut and heritage grain, are only offered one day a week. Just make sure to stop in on at least one Wednesday for the olive bread.

A loaf of bread at Barrio Bread
Photo: Barrio Bread / Instagram

Owls Club

Owls Club
Photo: Owls Club / Facebook

This dark and divey cocktail lounge in a former historic funeral home is what dreams are made of — if those dreams are of high-end whiskeys and craft cocktails, that is. Owls Club owner Patricia Schwabe, who also owns Penca Restaurant, tapped her own star bartender Bryan Eichorst to develop the cocktail menu. With its shortened pews for booth seating and awkward nooks for quiet, more intimate conversation, Owls Club is the spot to hit downtown for those looking for something just off the beaten path.

Owls Club
Photo: Owls Club / Facebook

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