Places to Eat & Things to Enjoy Around the Annual Tucson Gem Shows
While you’re enjoying the 2019 Tucson gem, jewelry, mineral, fossil, and bead shows, don’t forget to take some time to enjoy Tucson and all it has to offer! Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist contributor Terri Haag has compiled a list of some of the top restaurants in Tucson — as well as some of the major local attractions that are well worth a visit during your Tucson gem show trip.
Above: Hub Restaurant. PHOTO: COURTESY VISIT TUCSON
Terri’s list is below, and you can also download the PDF to carry around with you in Tucson for quick reference. Of course, it’s also available in the 2019 Tucson Show Guide, along with complete information on all the Tucson gem shows.
Around Tucson: Restaurants & Attractions at the Tucson Gem Shows
Food, drink, and fun in and around Tucson
By Terri Haag
Reprinted from the 2019 Tucson Show Guide
Tucson Gem Shows; Food & Drink
Baggins Sandwich Shops
520-575-8878 • $$, NA, P
CALL FOR SPECIFIC LOCATION HOURS: GENERALLY MON.–SAT. 10AM–7PM, SUN. 11AM–5PM
These ubiquitous local sandwich shops deserve their popularity — fresh ingredients, attractive interiors, fast service, and a free chocolate chip cookie with every order pretty much guarantees satisfied customers. There are lots of sandwiches to choose from so stand back and peruse the menu, then eat in or take out or have your favorites delivered — everything is delicious.
Guillermo’s Double L
1830 S. 4TH AVE. • 520-792-1585 • $$, FB, HH, P
MON.– SAT. 11AM–10PM, SUN. 11–9, HAPPY HOUR DAILY 3–6
This venerable (70 years and counting!) Tucson favorite serves up real Tucson-style Mexican food. In fact, it was recently awarded a place in “The Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food in Tucson.” Try the old-fashioned ground beef patty tacos or the posole. It’s all good. Happy hour features $.99 Bud and Bud Lite, $2.50 margaritas.
Hub Ice Cream Factory
245 E. CONGRESS • 520-622-0255 • $$$, SP
SUN.–THURS., 12PM–10PM, FRI.–SAT., NOON–MIDNIGHT
This little Tucson gem is owned by the same folks across the street at the Hub Restaurant. This is an actual ice cream factory and shop that makes and serves the Hub’s glorious range of handcrafted ice cream. With over 300 rotating flavors and 24 on offer at any one time, you can find a little bit of heaven right here in Tucson. Try the Rocky Balboa or Drunken Brunch as one of the sensational but random flavors that find their way onto the menu at any given time. They make their own cookies and ice cream sandwiches, or go for a sundae, shake, float, or other amazing treat.
Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery
266 E. CONGRESS • 520-207-8201 $$$, FB, HH, RH, SP
MON.– SUN. 11AM–MIDNIGHT, HAPPY HOUR 3PM–7PM, REVERSE HAPPY HOUR 10PM–MIDNIGHT
This trendy downtown eatery and associated factory right across the street is a great favorite due to the nice vibe and dependable menu, but the best reason to eat at Hub is dessert: anywhere from 16 to 24 flavors of gorgeous home-made ice cream keep you coming back. Traditionalists should go for the salted caramel, while more adventuresome palates will enjoy the Queen Bee Honeycomb, but every flavor is lovingly hand-crafted. Good happy and reverse happy hours. Also see Playground Bar and Lounge, another Hub eatery and venue.
2727 N. CAMPBELL AVE • 520-326-8635 • $$, BW, P
MON.–SAT. LUNCH BUFFET 11AM–2:45PM, DINNER SERVICE 5–10PM
This family-owned and -operated restaurant is one of Tucson’s revered institutions. Featuring northern Indian and Punjabi cuisine, India Oven offers a wide assortment of authentic, tasty meat dishes as well as a large selection of vegetarian and gluten-free meals. Unpretentious atmosphere, good service.
6342 N. ORACLE RD. • 520-297-2712 • $$, NA, P, TAKE OUT ONLY
105 S. HOUGHTON RD. • 520-751-9949 • $$, BW, P
605 N. 4TH AVE. • 520-628-1661 • $$, BW, SP CALL FOR SPECIFIC LOCATION HOURS: GENERALLY OPEN UNTIL 10PM MOST DAYS
Gorgeous, gourmet, hand-made (start to finish) pizza that’s perfect every time. Real cheese, home-made dough, and always freshly made-to-order, Magpies will satisfy your pizza jones in style. They deliver and offer vegetarian and gluten-free options.
505 W. MIRACLE MILE • 520-207-2429 • $$$, FB, HH, P
TUES.–SAT. 11AM– 9:30PM, FRI.– SAT. 11AM–10PM, SUN. 10AM–9PM, CLOSED MON.
CHECK SCHEDULE AT WWW.MONTEREYCOURTAZ.COM OR ON FACEBOOK
This Miracle Mile venue is indeed a miracle: owners Greg Haver and Kelly McLear took a giant leap of faith seven years ago by turning the antique Monterey Court Motel into a hotbed of (affordable!) eclectic live music, shops, food and drink, and it’s been growing ever since. New this year is the Feather, Fire and Ice Show, an artisan marketplace offering a wide variety of jewelry, gems, clothing, and crafts. Don’t forget to browse the year-round shops, grab a bite to eat, try one of the rotating selection of local craft beers, or enjoy a glass of wine or hand-crafted cocktail while the Titan Valley Warheads, Nancy Elliot & Friends, P.D. Rondstadt & The Company, Key Ingredients of African Soul, the Virginia Cannon Singer-Songwriter Showcase, Nick McBlaine and the Logtrain, or a host of visiting artists rock the patio. Bring a coat: the music is mostly outside! (But there are outdoor heaters for warmth.)
Mr. An’s Teppan Steak & Seafood
6091 N. ORACLE RD. • 520-797-0888 • $$$, FB, HH, P, RS
MON.–TH. 4–10PM, FRI. 4–11PM, SAT. 2–11PM, SUN. 2–10PM
Mr. An and his family have been feeding Tucsonans delicious made-to-order Japanese and Asian food for 27 years. Diners can sit at the Teppanyaki grill and enjoy the show, eat at tables or the bar, or enjoy the wonderful outdoor patio. There’s a great happy hour (try the Sorry Charlie and the always fun Troy Roll that arrives in flames) with assorted beers on tap and an impressive selection of sake. Daily happy hour specials, all-day “happy hour” prices on Sun., and buzzer-to-buzzer happy hour during all U of A football and basketball games. Reservations for tables and teppanyaki, open patio, and bar seating.
The Playground Bar and Lounge
278 E. CONGRESS ST. • 520-396-3691 • $$, FB, HH, SP
MON.–WED. 4PM–MIDNIGHT, THURS.–FRI. 4PM–2AM, SAT. 8AM–2AM, SUN 8AM–MIDNIGHT
HAPPY HOUR MON.-FRI. 4-7PM
Smack in the center of the Tucson Downtown renaissance, the eclectic Playground professes to cater “to all.” And darned if they don’t: drinking, dancing, watching sports, generally having a great time is all here. The menu rounds up classic American macaroni and cheese, tostitos locos, Sonoran Caesar salad, chicken wings in strawberry BBQ, and dozens of other yummy appetizers and entrees. Great signature cocktails (try the Monsooner or the Tucson Tea). Happy hour offers $1 off beers and wines and appetizer specials. You can park for $2.00/hour at the One N. 5th Apartments, and valet parking is available at the nearby AC Hotel. Free street parking Sat. and Sun. and every evening after 5:00pm.
2905 E. SKYLINE DR. STE. 289 • 520-615-3970 • $$$, FB, HH, P, RH
11AM–MIDNIGHT DAILY, HAPPY HOUR 3–7,
REVERSE HAPPY HOUR 10–MIDNIGHT
Located at the lovely La Encantada Plaza, Ra Sushi is just the spot for trendy and tasty Asian fusion cuisine. Dine inside or out on the patio and enjoy up-close-and-personal views of the Catalina Mountains. Good happy and reverse happy hours, call for specifics.
3844 E. FT. LOWELL RD. • 520-323-7373 • $$$$, FB, HH, P, RS
LUNCH TUES.–SAT. 11:30–2, DINNER TUES.–SUN. 5–9PM/GEM SHOW HOURS UNTIL 10PM, HAPPY HOUR SPECIALS: TUES.–THURS. 5–7PM, CLOSED MON.
Le Rendevous, Tucson’s premier French restaurant, has been delighting anniversary, birthday, and prom celebrants for decades. Serving classic French food in a romantic, intimate venue, reservations are strongly suggested for dinner.
Silver Saddle Steakhouse
310 E. BENSON HWY. (ON THE FRONTAGE ROAD BESIDE 1-10E*) • 520-622-6253$$$, FB, P, R • TUES.–FRI. 11AM–9PM, MON.–SAT. 2–9:30PM. SUN. 1–8PM, CLOSED MON.
*Getting here is tricky so ignore GPS and call for precise driving directions from your location.
Silver Saddle feels like a Tucson steak house should feel, and delivers great, freshly mesquite-grilled meats right off the flames. This place has been voted “best steak house” since forever. The standard, all-you-can-eat salad bar is a big favorite. Reasonable prices, an unpretentious atmosphere, and consistent quality have made this a local favorite for over 34 years.
$$, FB, HH, P
3048 E. BROADWAY • 520-326-4700 • MON.–WED. 11AM–10PM, THURS.– FRI. 11AM–11PM, SAT. 12–11PM, SUN. 12–10PM, HAPPY HOUR MON. –FRI. 3–6PM
7401 N. LA CHOLLA BLVD. ON THE WEST SIDE OF FOOTHILLS MALL • 520-877-8744 • OPEN UNTIL 10PM
These reliable sushi restaurants do a nice lunch buffet and feature an all-you-can-eat sushi menu, as well as à la carte sushi rolls, salads, and the usual sake and beer. Sushi Garden is open, light, and always busy, especially the Broadway location. Call ahead for 8 or more.
600 N. 4TH AVE. • 520-999-8269• $$, FB, SP
MON.– WED. AND SUN. 9AM–10PM, THUR. 9AM–MIDNIGHT, FRI.–SAT. 9AM–2AM
The name Tallboys comes from the cooler full of very tall cans of beer, cider, and other exotic alcoholic beverages on display in this small, hip bar/restaurant. Tallboys has lots of 4th Ave. charm and some seriously good food going for it. Vegan and vegetarian dishes, take out or eat in. They serve breakfast, brunch, and lunch all day; they do not serve dinner but have the same menu at dinnertime and for late-night dining.
7265 N. LA CHOLLA BLVD. • 520-797-7799 • $$, FB, HH, P
TUES.–SUN. LUNCH BUFFET & MORNING HAPPY HOUR 11–3, HAPPY HOUR 4-6:30 (BAR ONLY) DINNER 4–9:30
* Ina Road at I-10 may still be closed: consider alternate routes.
Chef Saumil, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, “has his eyes on the people of Tucson, Arizona,” and we’re all glad. Hence: Tamarind. This “little bit twisty, little bit tangy” restaurant brings unique Indian and Indian/Chinese fusion foods to the northwest side. Great buffet, and morning and evening happy hours. For seven or more diners, an 18% gratuity will be added to the bill.
2890 E. SKYLINE DRIVE • 520-531-1913 • $$$, FB, HH, P
MON.– SAT. 11AM–10PM, SUN. 11AM—9PM, HAPPY HOUR DAILY 3–6PM
Chef Massimo Tenino was born in San Remo, Italy, on the coast between Nice and Genoa, and Tavolinos is all about authentic Italian cuisine. A wood-fired oven, fresh hand-made pasta, and creative cocktails insure sensational Italian food in an elegant, upbeat atmosphere. Dine inside or outside on the patio and enjoy what Tucson’s all about. Dinner reservations are suggested.
Two Boots BBQ Shop
1850 S. PARK AVE. • 520-347-5769 • $$, NA, P
TUES.–SAT. 11—6:30 (OPEN UNTIL 7 DURING THE GEM SHOWS), CLOSED SUN. AND MON.
Offering the best BBQ in Tucson, this centrally located restaurant offers home-made, slow-cooked barbecue and soul food: ribs, chicken, and brisket as well as the house specialty, pulled pork. Be sure to try the sides of slaw, beans, mac ‘n’ cheese, greens, and corn bread. Dine in or take out. Catering available. Family owned and operated.
2310 N. COUNTRY CLUB RD. • 520-323-4074 • $$, NA, P
Za’atar is an aromatic spice and also the name of a Tucson eatery and bakery featuring Mediterranean cuisine. Homemade gyros, shawarma, kabobs, manakish, and other delicacies are baked right in front of guests in a traditional brick oven. Dishes are fresh and tasty — try the baba ganoush made from fresh eggplant and the traditional Assyrian bread called samoon. No alcohol served but you can bring your own (unopened). Eat in or take out.
Tucson Gem Shows: More Attractions
Casino del Sol
5655 W. VALENCIA RD. • 855-765-7829
CASINO AND HOTEL OPEN 24/7
FOR INDIVIDUAL VENUES AND TIMES, PLEASE VISIT WWW.CASINODELSOL.COM/DINING-OVERVIEW
This four-star hotel and casino is operated by the Pasqua Yaqui Tribe and offers a golf course, a wide variety of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and first-class acts and events, and of course, all the usual casino games.
- PY Steakhouse: Named for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, this is a multiple Forbes Four-Star and Wine Spectator winner. With an extensive wine list, steaks, seafood.
- Festa International Buffet: Hailed as one of Tucson’s best buffets, with a variety of salads, main dishes, eclectic desserts, and more.
- Ume: Enjoy Asian fusion with fresh sushi and Japanese creations and a full Chinese menu.
- Tequila Factory: Traditional regional and unique signature Mexican dishes and cocktails.
- Moby’s: This fun and funky “beach diner” offers rock-around-the-clock burgers, chicken-fried steaks, and breakfast foods.
- Abuelitas: The name means Grand¬mother’s, and she’d be proud of the quick but classic Mexican food — and it’s open late.
- Tropico Bar: Live music every Thurs., Fri., and Sat.
- Sunflower Café, StreetScape Pizza & Deli, Wildcats Grill, Starbucks, and numerous bars and nightclubs on site.
- Sewailo (Land Where Flowers Grow in Yaqui): This famous golf course was designed by Native American Notah Begay III, a Navajo who made his name both as a player on the PGA Tour and as a commentator on NBC and The Golf Channel. Specially created to fit into and blend with the natural Sonoran Desert landscape, Sewailo is also home to the University of Arizona Men’s and Women’s golf teams.
5954 E. SPEEDWAY BLVD. • 520-748-8169 • $, FB, HH, P
MON.– SUN. 11AM–2AM
FREE ADMISSION SUN.-WED., COVER CHARGE THURS.-SAT.
This popular Tucson institution has been around for 30 years and is still having fun. According to their website, “Our bartenders are high volume, kick-ass, friendly and the best pourers in town.” Karaoke, nationally known and local bands, an open jam session, pool tables, sports TV, and a well-used dance floor make Chicago Bar a great place to end the evening. Don’t miss Heather Hardy the first Sunday of the month and Peter Ronstadt (yes, those Ronstadts) and Los Tucsonenses for old and new favorites with a uniquely Tucson sound. No food but if you’re starving, they’ll organize fast food delivery for you.
Desert Diamond Casinos
These casinos have the whole enchilada of gambling options and are both on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation.
CASINOS ARE OPEN 24/7, FOR INTERNAL VENUE HOURS, PLEASE VISIT WWW.DDCAZ.COM.
AT 7350 S. NOGALES HWY • 520-294-7777
- Diamond Café: Grab a meal in a comfortable setting with cool vibes and a friendly atmosphere — just steps away from the casino floor.
- Diamond Grill: Hearty soup, quick-serve salads, grilled to order sandwiches and even breakfast.
- Classico Pizza: All of your favorite specialty pies or create your own.
- Coffee Bar: Also sandwiches and salads.
- Ko:Sin Ki Buffet: Full menus from Sunday brunches to seafood dinners.
- Monsoon Nightclub: Varying schedule of hot Latin and cool country live music. Check website for strict attire requirements, www.ddcaz.com/tucson/dining-nightlife/monsoon-nightclub.
AT 1100 W. PIMA MINE RD., SAHUARITA, AZ • 866-332-9467
- Diamond Grill: Fast and varied.
- Agave Restaurant: Fine dining featuring beef, seafood, pasta, and specialty dishes.
- Diamond Buffet: Variety at one low price.
- Sports Bar: Beer on tap, food specials all day long.
- Lounges: Entertainment features acts such as Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White, and more music, dance, and comedy shows. Check website for upcoming performances and attire regulations. $$, FB, P
Fox Tucson Theatre
17 W. CONGRESS ST. • BOX OFFICE 520-547-3040
TUES.–FRI. 11AM–6PM, 2 HOURS PRIOR TO EACH PERFORMANCE
UPCOMING EVENTS AT FOXTUCSON.COM
The Fox Tucson Theatre’s opening night on April 11, 1930, proved to be the biggest party Tucson had ever witnessed. Congress Street was waxed for dancing, four live bands per¬formed, free trolley rides took people “downtown,” and the whole spectacle was covered in a live radio broadcast. Thus began the Fox Theatre’s 40-year reign as the “crown jewel” of down¬town Tucson. The theater closed in 1974 and sat empty for 25 years, rendering it almost beyond redemption. In the late 1990s the non-profit Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation purchased the building, and six years and $14 million later, the theater reopened on New Year’s Eve, 2006. Today the Fox hosts between 150–160 events and ushers over 75,000 patrons into the 1,164-seat auditorium annually to enjoy the beautiful Art Deco décor, live performances, classic movies, and an elegant, entertaining venue for corporate and private events.
Laffs Comedy Café
2900 E. BROADWAY BLVD. • 520-323-8669 • $$$, FB, P, R
OPEN MIC NIGHT, THURS. 8AM–10:30PM, FREE ADMISSION, OPEN SEATING, DRINKS SPECIALS IF 21 OR OLDER FRI. DOORS OPEN 7PM, SHOWS AT 8PM AND 10:30PM SAT. DOORS OPEN 6PM, SHOWS AT 7PM AND 9:30PM (MUST BE 21 OR OLDER)
ADMISSION $12.50–$17.50 FOR MOST SHOWS
For current comedy line-up, please visit www.laffstucson.com.
This place is a hoot. Nationally known comedians, a full food menu, and a panoply of kickin’ hand-crafted cocktails like Pineapple Upside Down and Boston Cream Pie martinis, plus beer, wine and belly laughs make this a fantastic place to end a grueling day at the gem and fossil shows.
Old Tucson Studios
201 S. KINNEY RD. • 520-883-0100
DAYS, HOURS, AND ADMISSIONS VARY; PLEASE VISIT HTTP://OLDTUCSON.COM
If you’ve ever seen an old Western, you’ve almost certainly seen Old Tucson Studios. Immortalized in more than 400 films and commercial productions, Old Tucson remains the region’s premiere film location. Features live action stunt shows, shops, saloons, live entertainment, vintage rides for the kids, genuine southwest BBQ, and special events throughout the season. Step back in time and walk the same streets as John Wayne, Clint East¬wood, Elizabeth Taylor, Steve Martin, and dozens more movie legends. “Located 10 miles and 100 years from Tucson!”
Tucson Botanical Gardens
2150 N. ALVERNON WAY • 520-326-9686
MON.–SUN. 8:30AM–4:30PM, THURS.–SUN. 8:30AM–4:30PM AND 5:30AM–8:30PM, CLOSED MAJOR HOLIDAYS
ADMISSION $15 ADULTS, $13 SENIORS AND MILITARY, $8 CHILDREN 4–17, FREE CHILDREN UNDER 4
CAFÉ BOTANICA • 520-326-9686 X*37 • CALL FOR HOURS • $$$, NA, P
This 5-acre gem of a public garden has been lovingly nurtured and cherished by generations of Tucsonans and it shows: lush plantings, kitchen gardens, a Zen contemplation garden, cactus and succulents garden, children’s garden, bird garden, Thornville miniature railroad, and the marvelous Café Botanica (don’t miss the cornbread!) insure an educational, fun, yet renewing experience. The gift shop is a delight, so save some funds for shirts, hats, art, seeds, soaps, and a slew of cool gardening accouterments. Also offers several annual special shows and educational events.