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Tucson is noted for its authentic South-Western and Mexican food

The Downtown Kitchen serves American food with worldwide influences
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Everyone visiting Tucson should try some of its Mexican restaurants, which are as good as any you'll find anywhere in the USA. The food is spicy but full of flavor, and the best-known Mexican restaurant in the city is El Charro. It now has several locations in and around Tucson, and they all maintain the high standards of the original. This is in the old historic part of central Tucson, the Presidio District, and one of its special dishes is Carne Seca - Angus beef which is dried and marinated then grilled with spices.


El Charro is one face of Tucson cuisine, and the Arizona Inn is another. This is formal American dining at its best, but with dishes that have a South-Western feel and a stylish presentation. The restaurant is open to non-residents - indeed, it is one of Tucson's most popular dining spots for Sunday lunch or to celebrate a birthday or anniversary.


A favorite place for Sunday brunch is the Grill at the Hacienda del Sol resort, well worth driving to the foothills for, just to taste their Eggs Benedict. It's another place which the locals know about and flock to, and has been voted the most romantic restaurant in Tucson. Its wine list has also won numerous awards, and it is the only wine cellar in Arizona to have earned the Award of Ultimate Distinction by Wine Enthusiast magazine.


Not far from the Hacienda and run by the same owners is Zona 78, a more casual Italian kitchen. It has also won all kinds of accolades, including Tucson's Best Casual Dining Restaurant and Tucson's Best Family Restaurant - quite a distinction.


There are two types of dining at the Tanque Verde Ranch. One is the regular cowboy-style cook-outs they do, with musicians playing and hearty dinners round the camp fire. The other is in their gourmet restaurant (also open to non-residents) where the menu features dishes such as Jamon Serrano-Wrapped Seared Scallops, Citrus-Roasted Half Chicken, or Mexican flavors in its Stuffed Chicken Tinga Poblano. They also serve Arizona wines - and yes, there are good wines made in Arizona.


The most famous chef in Tucson is Janos Wilder, who was the first to really combine South-Western cuisine with the fine-dining techniques he had picked up while working in France and various parts of the USA. He is a Tucson food hero, and you can sample his skills at the Downtown Kitchen where Maple-Brined Pork with a Dried Cherry Bourbon Glaze is one of the house specialities.


Naturally the big golfing and spa resorts around the city all have fine restaurants too, but you would be missing out on the best local food if you didn't venture out and try some of the top places in Tucson.


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