Where to take your parents for lunch and have enough left over groceries

By Doug Cummings and Noah Lopez

Arizona Daily Wildcat

So your parents are coming to town, and you probably want to get some good meals out of them. But you also want them to stock your refrigerator, buy last minute furnishings for your place, clothe you for winter, etc. Maybe you better suggest some cheaper places to eat.

That's where we come in. Despite our hefty salaries as editors for Mutato, and all of the other residual perks that come with being Wildcat employees, we have made an art out of eating good and eating thriftily. So, rather than embarrass yourselves by taking your parents to the sleazy pizza-by-the-slice joint you frequent, try these great, reasonably priced, UA eateries:

CAFE PARAISO

800 E. University Blvd.

624-1707

One of my closer Mutato colleagues forced me to try this Cafe after I had intentionally avoided it for more than a year. In retrospect, I don't know what I was thinking. Cafe Paraiso has none of the negative aspects that tend to drag down other local coffeehouses. There are no annoying customers (at least, not while I was there), no kitschy, retro-hip crap adorning the walls, no over-priced, bad coffee (well, actually, I don't drink coffee anymore, so I didn't try Paraiso's), no precious hard to pronounce names . Well, you can't have everything.

For under five bucks ($4.95 to be exact), I had one of the best vegetarian sandwiches I've ever had in my entire life. Grain bread bursting with avocados, cream cheese, red onions, sprouts, dressings, cheese I was constantly wiping my mouth, hoping that my lunch companion wouldn't notice my sandwich's sloppy wealth spread across my face.

Cafe Paraiso also offers some great looking salads, quiches and desserts (admittedly, your typical coffeehouse fare, but done right) all reasonably priced. Very good stuff. N.L.

LOS BETOS

754 E. Grant and various other Tucson locations

622-2503

It seems this Mexican food stand on Grant Road and Park Avenue has taken over a Rally's Hamburger drive-through, but don't let its quick service and small size throw you off. Los Betos is a great solution for quality food when you're on the go.

Their menu includes traditional Mexican food standbys like chicken, bean or chorizo burritos, tacos, tostadas and enchiladas. But the food is prepared with a restaurant-style quality that easily outdoes the pre-packaged filler from other fast food stops like Taco Bell. Their servings are enormous, as proven by combination meals for roughly $5 that threaten to break their Styrofoam carriers with beans, rice, and tortilla supplements.

While most visitors to Tucson may want to dine in a relaxed environment, Los Betos provides a convenient source of fine Mexican food when keeping a tight schedule.D.C.

CASA BLANCA

974 E. University Blvd.

623-7888

This isn't exactly a well-kept secret. A typical lunch hour will have all nine or ten tables full with only one wait person to take care of them all. But, if you hold off until the afternoon, you can have one of the best moderately priced Mediterranean lunches the UA area has to offer.

The main selling point here is Casa Blanca's falafel sandwich. Three bucks will get you a giant pita bread packed with great falafel, lettuce, tomatoes and dressing. Add a dollar or so and you can have the Cal's special a combination falafel and gyro meat pita sandwich. Neither of these could leave you wanting for more.

I have a girlfriend that swears by their grape leaves and other friends that maintain that their hummus is the best in town, so you might want to go as a family and sample a little bit of everything.

Just don't expect fast food.

N.L.

BOSTON MARKET

1903 E. Speedway and various other Tucson locations

322-6677

One of the more popular dining locations for UA students is Boston Market on Campbell Avenue and Speedway Boulevard. The traditional American decor, checkered tablecloths and vegetable crates, creates a relaxed, homey atmosphere.

The dining selection is reminiscent of home-cooking as well, offering baked ham, turkey and rotisserie chicken with a variety of side dishes like steamed vegetables, breaded stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cornbread.

The meals are served deli-style, allowing patrons to select from the variety of foods available that are displayed in front of the turning rotisseries that cook the meats to perfection.

Most of the meals at Boston Market can be purchased for around $5 and the service is quick. For a satisfying dinner from a conventional American menu, Boston Market is an enjoyable solution.

LA INDITA

622 N. Fourth Ave.

792-0523

If you're looking to show your parents some southwestern flavor, but in a more relaxed, sit down fashion, be sure to try this great Forth Avenue hole in the wall.

La Indita boasts a full menu of Indian and Mexican food. While the friendly restaurant offers the typical Sonoran fare, such as burritos and enchiladas, the greater pleasures can be found in its specialties from the Mexican Tarascan Indian tribe, such as their great ranch enchiladas and the Tarascan taco.

The latter is my favorite here, an Indian fry bread smothered with red chile (though I opt to skip it) and La Indita's great beans. Top it off with lettuce, salsa and cheese and you have more than a meal.

And again, all under $5.N.L.

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