Mexican combo plates, for when you can't be bothered to choose ... and why should you? This is the #15 at Perfecto’s Mexican Restaurant, 5404 S. 12th Ave.

Ron Medvescek / Arizona Daily Star

Welcome to Tucson! We do things a little differently down here. For example, when a Tucsonan says "Let's get On the Border," they're probably suggesting a trip to Mexico, and not a mediocre strip-mall chain with Ultimate Fajitas®. 

This may be a little bit unclear if you're new to town. But don't worry, you'll get the hang of it. For now, why not try eating your way through this handy list of iconic Tucson foods (and drinks)? You don't have to take notes, this should be easy to remember ...  

1. Breakfast burrito


We recently named this breakfast burrito the best in Tucson. Because, look at it! 

They may have these in other cities, but you know the tortilla ain't gonna be as good. Get the real deal at Anita Street Market, 849 N. Anita Ave. And if you have some more time, check out my list of 24 different breakfast burritos to eat in Tucson. I rank them, and weigh them all for your enjoyment. 

2. Real tacos, minus that sickly mango sugar salsa


Carnitas taco at Street Taco and Beer. 

I've had tacos in California where you're from. They were okay. But you know the tacos here are gonna be better, mostly because of the fresh flour tortillas that are so prevalent in our little desert town. If you're downtown, hit up Street Taco and Beer Co., 58 W. Congress St., for the juicy carnitas. Or go straight Sonoran style with one of these picks.  

3. Sonoran hot dog


Sonoran hot dog from El Güero Canelo.

If you only eat these once a year, let it be now. You're just not gonna get them anywhere else, even if they call it a Danger Dog or whatever. They may wrap it in bacon, but if it doesn't have beans, tomatoes, onions, mayo, cheese, etc., it's just NO GOOD! Hit up BK Tacos or El Güero Canelo, you know the drill. 

4. Margarita


Prickly pear margarita at Reforma.

They have margaritas in other cities, but they may come from a slushie machine. And I bet they don't have prickly pear, a hallmark of Arizona resorts and gourmet Mexican joints like Reforma, 4310 N. Campbell Ave. It adds a sweet little punch, and it's less syrupy than strawberry. Check out our margarita guide here. 

5. Eegee's


It's Eegee's, dummy!

Do I really have to write anything here? You know what it is. Go get some! 

6. Raspados


Strawberry raspado from Oasis Fruit Cones. 

Shaved ice + syrupy fruit + ice cream = Tucson in a nutshell. You can find raspados joints all over the south and west sides. Browse the menu and you'll also see savory snacks like duros and loaded bags of corn chips that go by the name tostiloco. Check out our guide to raspados here, and then hit up Oasis Fruit Cones at 1002 W. St. Mary’s Road for an introduction. 

[Editor's note: This story originally ran last May as 6 things to eat (and drink) before you get the heck outta Tucson, but we thought this year's pack of newbies deserved to know too.]


You can find the Star's digital food writer Andi Berlin at a taqueria near you, taking tiny bites and furiously scribbling into an old notepad.