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Umi Star, Tucson
Umi Star, Tucson
Photo: Umi Star / Facebook

The Eater Tucson Heatmap: Where to Eat Right Now

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Umi Star, Tucson
| Photo: Umi Star / Facebook

Today, Eater takes a first-ever look at the city of Tucson, Arizona, focusing on nine newish restaurants and bars that have been garnering serious buzz. For the list, Eater has asked Tucson Foodie's Adam Lehrman for his picks of the hottest openings of the last year. So what's hot in Tucson? The last year has seen a huge burst of energy in Tucson's downtown. Two locavore restaurants from Flagstaff, AZ have set up shop downtown (Diablo Burger, Proper), and new Mexican restaurant Penca has established itself as a favorite for downtown date nights.

Pizzerias like Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink and Falora are satisfying the city's pizza cravings as it eagerly awaits the arrival of master pizzaiolo Chris Bianco's first Tucson location of Pizzeria Bianco. Also note-worthy are an Indian food truck serving old family recipes (The Twisted Tandoor) and a sin-inspired gastropub (Dante's Fire). Here now, the Eater Heatmap to Tucson, a chronicle of the city's restaurants of the moment.


· All Tucson Coverage on Eater [-E-]
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Diablo Burger

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One of two new downtown restaurants from Flagstaff's farm-to-table scene to arrive in Tucson this Spring, Diablo Burger stands out for serving as many locally sourced ingredients as they can find. Tractor seat stools and a Vespa hanging on the wall give DB an urban farmhouse feel. It's the only place in town to offer a classic American burger served on a cattle-branded english muffin.
[Photo]

Venturing into full-on restaurant territory after a successful trifecta of smoothie shops (Xoom Juice) and a modern lofty downtown cafe (Sparkroot), restaurateur Ari Shapiro's take on authentic Neapolitan pizza does not disappoint. With a mostly vegetarian menu, an Italian pizza oven, and a clean, modern vibe, Falora has become a favorite spot for business lunches and romantic nights out.
[Photo]

Another newcomer to Tucson's downtown revival, Penca adds a style of Mexican food typically uncommon in Tucson: Mexico City cuisine. Think pork, plantains, and poblanos. Penca has an A-list beverage menu, artisan cheese selection, plus breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. The modern rustic interior of wood and steel makes Penca an excellent place to sit, eat, drink, and observe.
[Photo]

Wild Garlic Grill

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After closing Red Sky Cafe, chef Steven Schultz is back with Wild Garlic Grill. With Schultz's signature California French style, a menu that nods to Red Sky Cafe, slashed prices, and a strange, but endearing building in a nondescript area of town, Wild Garlic Grill continues to pop up on local critics' favorites lists.
[Photo]

Dante's Fire

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Located in the space that housed the now-closed Rio Cafe, Dante's Fire is a gastropub with a menu of small plates divided into Greed, Anger, and Lust categories. The bread and butter is a draw in and of itself, while chorizo sliders and exceptional baked in-house kalamata olive bread keep guests happy as they sip unique cocktails with names like The X Rated and Sunstroke.
[Photo]

Proper Tucson

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Another farm-to-table Spring arrival from Flagstaff, Proper prides itself on sustainability and local and organic ingredients. Smaller plates, spot-on menu options, a long list of drinks, and a modern, open interior with salvaged wood table tops have made it a hit with locals. Keep an eye out for the Fried Rabbit and Steak Frites.
[Photo]

The Twisted Tandoor

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While Tucson is no stranger to good Indian food, The Twisted Tandoor food truck takes it to the next level with their ultra-authentic dishes from old family recipes. Chicken Tikka Masala and Tandoori Chicken are popular orders, along with vegetarian dishes such as Chana Masala and Paneer Rolls. The Twisted Tandoor is a must try and, thanks to their frequent Facebook posts, easy to find.
[Photo]

Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink

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This historic funeral house turned pizzeria and bar was an early player in downtown Tucson's resurgence. Reilly walks a fine line between Italian, comfort food, and gastropub. The menu ranges from note-worthy pizza to shrimp and grits. Reilly's bar program features new twists on old classics like the Gentleman's G&T with Plymouth gin, Domaine de Canton, mixed-berry preserves, cracked pepper, mint, and ginger beer.
[Photo]

Umi Star

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What started out as primarily a fresh SoCal take on sushi and Asian street food seems to be slowly inching more towards street food. But, whichever way they go, Umi Star has it down. With a super-minimalist, modern decor by architect-turned-restaurateur owner Jason Anderson, Umi Star brings a stylish burst of energy to the North Campbell corridor.
[Photo]

Diablo Burger

One of two new downtown restaurants from Flagstaff's farm-to-table scene to arrive in Tucson this Spring, Diablo Burger stands out for serving as many locally sourced ingredients as they can find. Tractor seat stools and a Vespa hanging on the wall give DB an urban farmhouse feel. It's the only place in town to offer a classic American burger served on a cattle-branded english muffin.
[Photo]

Falora

Venturing into full-on restaurant territory after a successful trifecta of smoothie shops (Xoom Juice) and a modern lofty downtown cafe (Sparkroot), restaurateur Ari Shapiro's take on authentic Neapolitan pizza does not disappoint. With a mostly vegetarian menu, an Italian pizza oven, and a clean, modern vibe, Falora has become a favorite spot for business lunches and romantic nights out.
[Photo]

Penca

Another newcomer to Tucson's downtown revival, Penca adds a style of Mexican food typically uncommon in Tucson: Mexico City cuisine. Think pork, plantains, and poblanos. Penca has an A-list beverage menu, artisan cheese selection, plus breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. The modern rustic interior of wood and steel makes Penca an excellent place to sit, eat, drink, and observe.
[Photo]

Wild Garlic Grill

After closing Red Sky Cafe, chef Steven Schultz is back with Wild Garlic Grill. With Schultz's signature California French style, a menu that nods to Red Sky Cafe, slashed prices, and a strange, but endearing building in a nondescript area of town, Wild Garlic Grill continues to pop up on local critics' favorites lists.
[Photo]

Dante's Fire

Located in the space that housed the now-closed Rio Cafe, Dante's Fire is a gastropub with a menu of small plates divided into Greed, Anger, and Lust categories. The bread and butter is a draw in and of itself, while chorizo sliders and exceptional baked in-house kalamata olive bread keep guests happy as they sip unique cocktails with names like The X Rated and Sunstroke.
[Photo]

Proper Tucson

Another farm-to-table Spring arrival from Flagstaff, Proper prides itself on sustainability and local and organic ingredients. Smaller plates, spot-on menu options, a long list of drinks, and a modern, open interior with salvaged wood table tops have made it a hit with locals. Keep an eye out for the Fried Rabbit and Steak Frites.
[Photo]

The Twisted Tandoor

While Tucson is no stranger to good Indian food, The Twisted Tandoor food truck takes it to the next level with their ultra-authentic dishes from old family recipes. Chicken Tikka Masala and Tandoori Chicken are popular orders, along with vegetarian dishes such as Chana Masala and Paneer Rolls. The Twisted Tandoor is a must try and, thanks to their frequent Facebook posts, easy to find.
[Photo]

Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink

This historic funeral house turned pizzeria and bar was an early player in downtown Tucson's resurgence. Reilly walks a fine line between Italian, comfort food, and gastropub. The menu ranges from note-worthy pizza to shrimp and grits. Reilly's bar program features new twists on old classics like the Gentleman's G&T with Plymouth gin, Domaine de Canton, mixed-berry preserves, cracked pepper, mint, and ginger beer.
[Photo]

Umi Star

What started out as primarily a fresh SoCal take on sushi and Asian street food seems to be slowly inching more towards street food. But, whichever way they go, Umi Star has it down. With a super-minimalist, modern decor by architect-turned-restaurateur owner Jason Anderson, Umi Star brings a stylish burst of energy to the North Campbell corridor.
[Photo]

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