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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Best local restaurants

    Eager to impress your new date? Fret not; Tucson’s got a wide variety of great restaurants to choose from. The Wildcat went in search of the best of the best, and this is what we came up with.

    There might be a ton of campus-vicinity restaurants; the assortment of fast-food joints in the Student Union Memorial Center, the long line of vaguely exotic places on University Boulevard, but you’re bound to get sick of them sooner or later. When that happens, here are a few alternatives to get you started.

    Pancho Villa’s Grill
    401 E. Fifth St.

    Tucson is crammed with cheap, 24-hour Mexican restaurants, from Nico’s to the Taco Shop to the ubiquitous Los Betos (the veritable Starbucks of burritos, with an establishment on nearly every corner). For our money, the best is Pancho Villa’s, which boasts a deliciously crumbly quesadilla (light on the grease, thank goodness) and some of the best Sonoran hot dogs you’ll ever encounter. Open late Friday and Saturday.

    3843 E. Pima St.

    This restaurant, like Superman, has a secret identity. By day (from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.), it’s an old-fashioned American-style roadside diner featuring ham sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers – all grilled up for you on the spot. By night (after 5 p.m.) it’s a Mexican diner featuring some of the cheapest, and most delicious, eats in the Southwest. We recommend their soft tacos (compact, meaty) and their burritos (sprawling, cheesy). Also features one of the best advertisement signs we’ve ever seen: “”Elegant Dining Elsewhere.””

    100 E. Congress St.

    One of Tucson’s more beloved institutions, the open-24/7 Grill is far and away your best bet for quality food in the middle of the night. They’ve also got one of the best menus in town. They’ve got steaks, burgers, omelettes – as well as tater tots and Cap’n Crunch. (They’ve also got a fine bar, but you’ll be a senior before you can enjoy that.) They also have one of the oddest assortments of regulars you’ll ever lay eyes on. It might take you a while to get used to the unique ambience, but sit around and soak up the atmosphere and you’ll be won over in no time. Incidentally, don’t be fooled by the menu’s long list of things you’re not allowed to do – they’re pretty nice most of the time, though they’d kill us for saying that.

    Brooklyn Pizza Company
    534 N. Fourth Ave.

    To be sure, Tucson’s got all the usual pizza joints – Domino’s, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut – but treat them as last-minute resorts. Next to the huge, pungent, gloriously greasy slices you can get at the ever-reliable Brooklyn, those places are serving you cardboard with ketchup on it. They serve other things – garlic knots, calzones, sandwiches – but the pizza is what you’ll come back for again and again. If you’re feeling overheated, try a cup of the Italian ice or gelato. Bonus round: If you’re in the mood for a more expensive but less greasy pie, Magpie’s (across the street at 605 N. Fourth Ave.) can’t be beat.

    The Auld Dubliner
    800 E. University Blvd.

    Sure, you won’t be able to eat there every week – they’re not exactly cheap for student wages – but they’ve got good lunch specials and the dandiest appetizer – the inimitable, unbeatable curry fries – in town. If that weren’t enough, this Irish pub has atmosphere to spare and fine, authentic dishes like shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes, for the culturally deprived).

    Beware, though – we’ve occasionally heard the sound of bagpipes floating out of the window. If that doesn’t do it for you, bring earplugs and concentrate on your beer. Only complaint: Their restroom is about a million miles away.

    El Charro Café
    Several locations; closest to campus is 311 N. Court Ave.

    They’ve been around since 1922, but they haven’t gone a bit stale. An El Charro cook allegedly invented the chimichanga way back in the day, and they still serve a very fine one – including a “”USA Today”” one that’s the size of a rolled-up newspaper. When you’re feeling fancy and Nico’s just won’t hit the spot (it feels vaguely wrong to go there before at least 9 p.m.), hit El Charro up – and, while you’re waiting, try one of the cheese crisps.

    2660 N. Campbell Ave.

    This definitely isn’t Panda Express. Renowned as the best Japanese restaurant in Tucson, Yoshimatsu serves ramen and rice and everything in between. They’ve also got green tea ice cream, though we’ve never quite understood the appeal of that. The not-quite-cluttered décor is a bonus. When you just have to drown your sorrows in a bowl of miso soup (or club them into submission with a California roll), drop by Yoshimatsu.

    Sultan Palace
    943 E. University Blvd.

    A relative newcomer to the University Boulevard area, Sultan Palace serves up authentic Afghani food – and in enormous portions, too. It’s a tad pricey for the area – you’ll probably be paying $12-15 for a meal – but it’s definitely worth it. We recommend virtually anything on the menu – you literally can’t go wrong here. If you’re as tired of teriyaki chicken as you are of burgers and fries, give this one a try. You won’t regret it.

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