Best Kept Secret Restaurants in Tucson


Tucson offers everything from traditional Sonoran cuisine to contemporary munchies – and everything in between! Food courts throughout Tucson give local entrepreneurs a platform for their culinary endeavors.

At this Westside joint, guests can indulge in delicious grilled deli sandwiches and bread-bowl soups, such as Tasso ham with marbled rye bread.

El Charro Cafe

Tucson offers many places to eat Mexican cuisine, but for an authentic local flavor and authentic experience, look no further than El Charro Cafe. Since 1926, this family-run restaurant has served traditional Northern Mexico-Sonoran style and innovative Tucson-style Mexican food to visitors across Tucson. Their recipes have won international recognition, serving as an introduction to Tucson’s culinary history.

Monica Flin opened this restaurant in 1922 and became famous for creating the chimichanga, an immensely popular deep-fried burrito made out of folded flour tortillas filled with filling and placed inside a metal mesh cage for deep frying. Carne seca is another must-try item at this restaurant: air-dried beef served alongside sweet onions, chilies, and tomatoes for an exquisite flavor sensation.

Carlotta Dunn Flores, Monica’s great-granddaughter, currently operates the restaurant, and it remains one of America’s oldest family-owned establishments, managed by the same family for almost 100 years. Offering delicious dishes such as tamales, tacos, and burros, Carlotta Dunnores ensures there’s always something delicious and comforting at her establishment.

In addition to offering authentic Mexican fare, this restaurant also provides an impressive beverage selection. They specialize in margaritas that will satisfy any craving, with happy hour running daily from 2 pm to 6 pm – they even have jalapeno-infused versions available if something special is desired!

The staff at this restaurant is friendly and accommodating, creating a relaxed, homey ambiance at reasonable prices for dining out with the whole family. Their homey decor adds charm, while their affordable prices make this an ideal destination. With flan and vanilla ice cream as delicious dessert options, reservations should be completed soon! This Tucson establishment can be found on the south side, with parking available both streetside and behind them and valet parking service available if necessary.

Drunken Chicken

Food courts often conjure images of corporate cafeterias or upscale gourmet food halls, but Tucson’s court scene boasts some of the city’s best-hidden restaurants. Ranging from east-side parking lots to big-time malls, Tucson food courts give innovative small-scale chefs a way to build their brands without incurring the high overhead costs associated with traditional restaurant spaces – offering authentic Mexican meals or American classics with an Arizona flair – Tucson food courts provide something delicious for every palate!

Since opening its doors, this family-run eatery has become an institution in Tucson. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner options that span from eggs and bacon to huevos rancheros and scrambled tofu, as well as fresh salads, sandwiches, and desserts, this diner offers something delicious every time a customer walks through its doors – there’s even an adorable gift shop located within its lobby!

Tito & Pep is known for its award-winning grilled steak, Sonoran hot dogs, and mesquite-fired dishes like an array of mesquite-fired fare such as mesquite-roasted duck. Tito & Pep offers family-friendly dining at this Tucson institution known for its cocktails and Southwestern food – in a historic building next to train tracks, making this establishment one of the city’s unique gems!

Before heading to any restaurant location, visit their website and confirm they’re open when planning your visit. In addition, this allows you to read reviews and see photos to decide if the place suits your tastes.

Drunken Chicken offers a cozy, inviting atmosphere perfect for casual dinner dates with delicious fried chicken dishes such as the OMG (with beef and cheese), Dirty Sanchez, and Velvet Hammer on its menu. Order-at-the-counter service makes pickup and takeout simple.

Birrieria Guadalajara, a Mexican soup joint offering traditional Mexican soups and stews, is well worth exploring as an under-the-radar gem worth discovering. While you sip on beer or margaritas while enjoying delicious conventional soups like spinach phyllo, eggplant Parmesan, quiches, and veggie burgers, organic salad bar offerings are available here.


Tucson is an internationally recognized UNESCO City of Gastronomy and an absolute delight for foodies, with classic Sonoran cuisine as well as contemporary eateries serving everything from street tacos to fine steakhouses – there’s something here for every palate in Arizona-Sonora desert town Tucson. Additionally, locals know of many lesser-known gems not known even to outsiders!

Coronet Restaurant in Tucson is one of Tucson’s best-kept secrets. Situated in a 160-year-old adobe building, the restaurant serves international cuisine from a dimly lit dining room, pub-style bar, market cafe, gift shop, market cafe, and market cafe all under one roof. Owner Sally Kane takes great pride in creating dishes inspired by her travels.

Kazoku (Japanese for “family”) offers authentic dishes from various regions of Japan. Chef Mostafa Gabr specializes in sushi and has created signature rolls such as Arizona (cucumber, avocado, and jalapeno) and Tiger Eye (salmon and squid). In addition to sushi offerings, the restaurant boasts an impressive selection of hot and cold appetizers.

Dinner options at Baky Hospitality Restaurant include five-spiced half chicken in Thai red curry or grilled sea bass with tomato relish. A dessert bento box featuring chocolate and caramel fondants, matcha brulee, and semifreddo is a must-try! Sachi and Reif Kushiyaki restaurants also belong to this esteemed chain of hospitality establishments.

This hidden treasure offers something unique in a town known for Sonoran-style hot dogs. The toasted buns encase the toppings for less messy bites, while the fiery pepper adds a fiery kick. Finally, sweet, prickly pear gummies provide the ideal sweet ending. Looking for somewhere inexpensive yet tasty to get something to eat? Look no further.


This restaurant is in a historic Tucson building; this location makes it the ideal venue for romantic date nights. Offering gourmet dishes that will surely impress and offering an extensive wine selection. Choose between dining at their bar or patio depending on your preferences – their staff members are knowledgeable in this field and can help you find your ideal bottle!

King’s Kitchen provides an authentic Chinese menu featuring stir-fries, noodles, and other delicacies. Their menu also caters to various dietary restrictions, including vegetarian and gluten-free offerings. Their food is deliciously fresh while serving generous portions!

Dine-in or takeout, this local favorite offers delectable dishes like beef, chicken, and seafood chow mein. Their friendly staff provides fast service daily in an intimate, cozy setting!

Tucson boasts world-class restaurants, but many remain underappreciated. While Sonoran cuisine remains one of the city’s main draws, other eateries specialize in global fare or offer something unique, such as incredible Pho or specialties that highlight Tucson’s diverse culture. Tucson is indeed home to great dining options.

El Charro Cafe offers some of the finest Mexican cuisine in Tucson and claims to have invented the chimichanga, taking its name from Spanish for “fried burrito.” Additionally, El Charro also provides vast burgers and fries.

Penca Restaurant in Tucson serves traditional Mexican fare in an inviting and vibrant setting along busy city streets, making it a must-visit spot for anyone searching for authentic cuisine. Their extensive menu boasts meat and fish entrees and homemade desserts; diners should expect to pay more, however. But such delicious food makes this expense well worth your while!