Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit homesick for my last base. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job and my team I have here at the Air Force Academy, but something just gets you when you’ve been at a base for almost five years. This is also despite how busy and hectic it was over there.
I think what I mostly miss about Tucson was its food… I mean, in 2015 or 2016, Tucson was awarded the UNESCO World City of Gastronomy, apparently the first city in the United States. Ever. While I wasn’t so much of a fan of it’s Mexican food (ironically) besides the Sonoran hot dogs, there were a lot of great eats there that my husband and I discovered. Below are were, and still are, our favorite places to eat in Tucson:
– Dao’s Tai Pan’s (Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai)
Our usual order: #1 Goi Cuon Tom Thit (Fresh spring rolls with shrimp and pork), #12 (Pho Tai – Rice noodles with rare slices of beef steak), & Thai teas
There are two locations in Tucson, and we’ve made the mistake of ordering carry out from the wrong one once (oops). The one we often frequented was the one located just in front of St. Joseph’s hospital on Wilmot and Broadway. There was a time where, I swear, we probably ate there almost every day of the week, but it never got old. And while a lot of people say that Miss Saigon is the best place for pho in Tucson, we beg to differ considering they didn’t give us Thai basil at that time. Who knows, they might offer that now, but that was basically a deal-breaker for us. Anyway, if you’re a Pho-lover like my husband, be sure to check this place out!
– Renee’s Organic Oven(Italian)
Our usual order: Caprese board, custom calzone, and custom pizza
This place has been under my nose for the longest time and I didn’t realize it when I used to live so close to it. Had I known, I would’ve been a weekly frequent! It’s located on Tanque Verde and Sabino Canyon. This restaurant is small and quaint, in which their web-site recommends to make reservations ahead of time, and is a good idea. I also saw that Guy Fieri checked out this place and featured it on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” which is awesome! The atmosphere is what I loved most about this place, its got a very low-key and relaxing vibe to it. Be sure to check out their organic wine selection!
– Baja Cafe of Tucson (Breakfast)
Our usual order: The special of the day, biscuits & gravy & eggs combination, the burro, and bloody marys
Our frequent location was the one on Broadway and Kolb, although the two other locations are just as good as our main. My husband has a penchant for choosing the best breakfast diners with good bloody marys. Like Renee’s, Baja Cafe was also featured on a Food Network show and also shows for its popularity. If you’re planning on grabbing breakfast at this place on the weekend, you better get their early or you’ll be waiting for a good while. However, the weekdays are a lot milder for obvious reasons. Their specials are usually very tasty and is in a big portion size that my husband and I typically split it. As an added bonus, they do offer a 10% military discount.
– Kimchi Time (Korean)
Our usual order: Kimchi chigae and bibim bap
Located on East Broadway, just after the El Cajon shopping center. While this restaurant doesn’t have a direct web-site to view the menu, I was able to find a web-site that had their menu. I felt like this restaurant had somewhat of a “homey cafe” feel to it, in that its not extensively decorated. Unfortunately, I can’t say much besides the fact that I absolutely loved their bibim bap, because we only discovered this place about a month or so before leaving Tucson. My best friend also enjoyed this place as she was stationed in South Korea for a year just before she moved to Tucson. You can essentially take that as a great recommendation for good Korean food.
– Sa ing Thai (Thai)
Our usual order: Tom kah gai (Coconut soup with chicken), tom yum gai (hot and sour lemongrass soup with chicken), pad thai with shrimp, and thai tea
Located on Valencia in Rita Ranch. I considered this place to be on the outskirts of town, and it was a definite trek for us if we really wanted some Thai food. Nonetheless, everytime we went, it was sure to satisfy what we were craving. We often came to this place when one of us was sick because the soups were spicy enough to clear up our congestion. Plus, whats not to love about Thai food? This place also offers a 10% discount.
– Kazoku (Japanese)
Our usual order: Everything
Located on Speedway. I’m completely exaggerating when I say that our usual order was everything since its a sushi bar. Though, we’ve eaten lunch there a couple of times and had the tempura and chicken teriyaki bento boxes. I’m also beginning to see a theme in our choices of eateries in that they were all quite small. I suppose big things come in small packages? I believe with certain orders, like the dinner boxes, you also receive a free scoop of ice cream, which is a nice touch to an already large meal. Side story, this is also the place that my husband brought his friends to for dinner while I was in labor with our youngest -_-
– Serial Grillers (American)
Our usual order: Leatherface and red dragon
Located on Speedway and Craycroft. There are two locations, but we’ve only been to the one of Speedway since it was closer to the base. This place was recommended to us by our friends twin brother who was also stationed with me at one point (small Air Force, eh?). If you want a great-tasting burger or pizza, Serial Grillers is a great place to kill you taste buds… In flavor, of course!
Be sure to try out one of these places the next time you find yourself in Tucson, AZ. Tell us what you think and your experiences with one of our favorites!