By Nate Buchik
JOSH FIELDS/Arizona Summer Wildcat
Sandra Luz Balacazar serves a table during a busy Sunday afternoon at Mi Nidito Mexican Restaurant, 1813 S. 4th Ave. Mi Nidito is open 11 a.m. - 2 a.m. Wednesday - Sunday.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
If you've spent time anywhere east of Arizona, chances are you think Taco Bell is pretty good Mexican food. And if you are east of Arizona, Taco Bell might actually be the best option.
But the Southwest, and Tucson in particular, is home to some of the best Mexican food north of the border. While we can't list every place in Tucson, here are some of the highlights.
Mi Nidito - 1813 S. Fourth Ave., 622-5081
Why not start at the top? Mi Nidito has been one of Tucson's most popular Mexican restaurants since it opened in 1952. While staying in the same location, it has expanded time and again to meet the needs of the growing clientele.
Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays but open late on weekends, their chile relleno has been voted Best of Tucson consistently. Solid staples like tacos and burritos are safe bets, but the birria (shredded beef) and carne seca (dried beef) are out of this world.
While it's a little pricey and there's usually a wait for a table, Bill Clinton ate there when he came through Tucson a few years back. And that man knows how to eat.
El Charro Café - 311 N. Court Ave., other locations, 792-9922
Billed as the nation's oldest Mexican Food restaurant, El Charro now has four Tucson locations. Great chimichangas and the best carne seca in town are the highlights of the menu, which is so massive that you should try something different on every visit. Their complementary chips and salsa also might be the tastiest in town.
This is a classier joint than most Tucson Mexican restaurants, and the prices reflect that. For a poor college student, this place should be reserved for special occasions. If you're rich though, eat to your heart's content.
Rosa's Mexican Food - 1750 E. Fort Lowell Road, 325-0362
Cheap, fast and delicious, Rosa's is home to the best combo plates in Tucson, and a perfect lunch spot. All the classics are done well, with enchiladas, tamales, tacos, burritos and tostadas. Their tasty salsa should top everything.
Taqueria Pico de Gallo - 2618 S. Sixth Ave., 623-8775
A famed South Tucson taco shop that was featured in Gourmet magazine, this hole-in-the-wall serves up great quesadillas and soft tacos. It's incredibly cheap, and you can get a bottle of Coke to make it an overall authentic experience. Great for takeout or for reminiscing about the beaches in Mexico.
Café Poca Cosa - 88 E. Broadway Blvd., 622-6400
A classic spot in the heart of downtown Tucson, Café Poca Cosa's rotating menu always has something fresh and delicious. Fabulous mole and a great staff make this one of the best and most popular lunch destinations in Tucson.
Los Betos/Viva Burrito/Nico's - everywhere
Fast food Mexican can sometimes make you sick, but will usually just make you full to the brim. Most places are open 24 hours, so they're the best option you have during the peak hours of the night. Breakfast burritos, carne asada rolled tacos and even simple bean-and-cheese burros are delightfully greasy treats before bed. Dump on as much hot sauce as you can.
In Contention for Mention:
Macayo's (7040 E. Broadway Blvd.), Micha's (2908 S. Fourth Ave.), Casa Molina (3001 N. Campbell Ave.) and Lerua's (2005 E. Broadway Blvd.).