The downtown Tucson building that once housed famed restaurateur Janos Wilder will open its doors this summer, this time as a Southern-style bar and grill.
The owners of Parish Restaurant Concepts have leased the former Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails space at 135 S. Sixth Ave. to open The Delta, which they describe as a “libation and culinary thrill ride.”
Owners Steve Dunn, Bryce Zeagler and chef Travis Peters also operate The Parish, 6453 N. Oracle Road, and said The Delta will be its “rebellious punk rock cousin.”
“As the dishes are being created we’ll bring some classic familiar influence from The Parish but The Delta will have its own personality and flare, filled with plenty of culinary surprises like seafood meatballs, a whiskey bone marrow luge and Sonoran elote,” said Peters.
The food will feature cuisines from Arizona, Texas and Louisiana reflecting the trio’s roots.
“At the end of the day, we really want a neighborhood hangout that’s fun, laid-back and comfortable,” Zeagler said.
Dunn said the bar offerings will be both classic and playful.
“We also want to leave room for those who dare to dive down an Absinthe or Agave rabbit hole,” he said.
The building’s owner, local developer Ross Rulney, plans to add outdoor dining to the property for The Delta customers.
“Parish is one of Tucson’s most successful independent restaurants and I couldn’t be more excited to see them expand into downtown,” Rulney said.
Earlier this year, the Rio Nuevo board voted to add the property to a previously approved incentive package on the same block.
Rulney is remodeling the former Access Tucson building, 124 E. Broadway, and expanding the Julian Drew Lofts, 140 E. Broadway.
The board has agreed to a $1.75 million loan for 25 years after an economic-impact study showed the return to taxpayers is greater than to the developer.
The Delta is expected to open in June and The Parish will remain open.
INVESTING IN DOWNTOWN
Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails closed last fall due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, following the shuttering of downtown’s Café Poca Cosa, which served the area for decades, and the Tucson outpost of Tubac’s Elvira’s Tequila, Cocina & Vino.
With many downtown entertainment venues remaining shuttered a year into the health crisis, efforts continue to be made to bring life back to the area.
The Rio Nuevo Board recently voted to provide $300,000 to Hotel Congress to support expansion plans that will allow for the creation of a daytime tasting room and evening bistro and lounge in the former Copper Hall space, as well as improvements to the plaza to accommodate more music events and dining.
Additional support for outdoor dining downtown is coming in the form of five stipends of $10,000 each for restaurants wanting to open outdoor seating in the parallel parking spaces directly in front of their establishments.
The combined $350,000 in funding is dependent on the closing of the Rio Nuevo-owned parking lot at Council Street and Church Avenue, just north of the downtown YMCA, which sold for $750,000.
Other efforts to support downtown businesses have included fundraisers, funding for outdoor dining spaces, providing outdoor heat lamps in the winter months and supplying personal protective equipment.
The Tucson area welcomed these restaurants and bars in 2020
81 Hong Kong Cafe
This cafe at 625 E. Wetmore Road, features an extensive menu of Cantonese classics.
Banhdicted, 1980 W. Orange Grove Road, says it brings Banh Mi with a "modern twist" to Tucson.
This cider house, 400 N. 4th Ave., is named for the sound chickens make — and it's the first cider house in Tucson.
Bellissimo Ristorante Italiano
The restaurant inside Casino del Sol has reopened with some contemporary updates using local sources.
Boulevard Barbecue & Fixins
The team behind Serial Grillers opened its barbecue restaurant at 5737 E. Speedway in October. Travis and William Miller have four Serial Grillers locations and two other restaurants.
Anyone old enough to have regularly read the comic strip, "Blondie," know that a Bumsted is an overloaded sandwich. The sandwich shop has moved and is now called Bumsted's at Wonderwall, 1003 N. Stone Ave. The menu is the same and karaoke has been added.
The coffee shop Epic Cafe was almost a goner. The business was permanently closed and put on the market earlier this year, when it was saved by new owner George Shaar. He gave the place a once-over and renamed it Cafe Maggie, 745 N. Fourth Ave.
This Southern California chain, which opened at 33 N. Sixth Ave., features some unusual offerings that has people lining up for the treats.
eHotPot, 243 E. Speedway, serves up Taiwanese food from curry chicken and Taiwan sausage to pinched dough beef soup and pork chop.
The restaurant at 1108 W. St. Mary's Road specializes in raspados and has drive-thru service. Of course there are other menu items.
When they closed the Tohono O'odham Swapmeet due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of its food vendors struck out on his own to open his first brick and mortar restaurant. El Rustico, 2281 N. Oracle Road, serves grilled meats like carne asada, tripas and roast cabrito (goat), a specialty of Coahuila, Mexico where chef Juan Almanza is from.
Firetruck Brewing Company opened at 9630 N. Oracle Road in November. The company was formerly known as Sentinel Peak Brewing Company. Two other locations already open include 4746 E. Grant Road and 9155 E. Tanque Verde Road, and others are planned.
Frankie's South Philly Cheesesteaks opened a second location in Marana at 3780 W. Ina Road, between Mod Pizza and a new Lucky Wishbone.
Gamar Family Market
This Middle Eastern grocery now has a takeout counter in the back of the shop. The menu is simple but growing. It's at 1800 E. Fort Lowell Road.
Habanero’s Steak and Wings
The owner of Habanero’s Steak and Wings Restaurant in Tubac opened an additional location at 6910 E. Tanque Verde Road. Owner Armando Gill says the restaurant walks the line between casual and fine dining with a menu that covers dishes ranging from mole poblano chicken and enchiladas suizas to lamb shank and osso bucco.
If you want fresh churros made to order, this is the place to go. You can even get your churro customized with additional ingredients. It is at 1800 E. Fort Lowell Road.
Owner Amane Shakuchi opened Kiwami Ramen in the former Jack in the Box at 4610 E. Speedway. Shakuchi found the location earlier this year before COVID-19 had even started, but decided to keep the drive-thru for safety reasons when the pandemic hit.
The kitchen at L Station, 500 N. Fourth Ave., is headed up by Adrian Castillo, formerly of Lodge on the Desert, who's doing a mix of Spanish small bites like garlic mushrooms and blistered shishito peppers, as well as some flatbreads and salads.
La Chaiteria by Tumerico
Wendy Garcia, owner of Tumerico restaurant opened La Chaiteria in an old convenience store at 1002 W. Congress St. It's part restaurant and part vegan market.
La Chingada Cocina Mexicana
La Chingada Cocina Mexicana is a new effort by the owner of the popular southside sports bar The Neighborhood. The space at 31 N. Scott Ave. looks nothing like it was before, when it housed the casual burrito joint Alejandro's Cafe until it closed in 2018.
And there's a long bar area, which will serve custom margaritas and The Neighborhood's award-winning specialty, the michelada.
In a spot on Fourth Avenue that once sold crepes is now Lemongrass, which bills itself as an eastern Asian health food restaurant. Find it at 344 N. Fourth Ave.
Locale Neighborhood Italian
Locale Neighborhood Italian, 60 N. Alvernon Way, comes from restaurateurs Deborah Tenino and Nick Kreutz. This is the second restaurant for the pair, who are partners in Contigo Latin Kitchen at 3770 E. Sunrise Drive.
Med Cuisine's second location, 1763 E. Prince Road, serves classic Middle Eastern dishes and has drive-thru service.
MotoSonora Brewing Co.
After more than a year of hard work, heavy investment, and planning, brothers Jeff and Jeremy DeConcini were eager to see their new venture, MotoSonora Brewing Co., 1015 S. Park Ave., get off the ground.
Ni Hao Tea
No longer a sandwich shop, this location at 4726 E. Broadway, has a wide variety of teas and other beverages.
This is owned by the same Qais Papoutsis as Opa's Best in East Broadway. The menu at this restaurant on Fourth Avenue is much the same.
This restaurant, at 4951 E. Grant Road, serves flavorful Vietnamese dishes and also offers takeout and delivery via several delivery services.
Located behind the main dining room of Ermanos Creft Beer and Wine Bar, at 220 N. Fourth Ave., is a feat of modern engineering and serves modern cocktails.
Lauren Bailey opened her wine cafe in the 2500 block of East Grant Road with several other new restaurants.
Healthy fast food may seem like an oxymoron. but restaurateur Daniel Scordato is trying to make it a reality. The new restaurant at 6370 N. Campbell Ave., serves salads, sandwiches, healthful bowls and made-to-order pizza.
Public Brewhouse has opened its second location at 6720 E. Camino Principal, Public Taphouse. It offers beer on tap, wine and other craft beers in cans.
Pure Poke and Prep
Hoki Poki closed, but now Pure Poke and Prep has opened in the same location, 6501 E. Grant Road, so poke is still available. The restaurant focuses on traditional Hawaiian poke methods.
Rae's Classics Burgers, Fries & Pies
The mother and son team behind Fat Noodle ramen shop opened a "ghost" kitchen to sell classic burgers, fries and pies, as the name implies. The burgers are fresh and the takeout business will supplement lagging income from the restaurant that is serving at 25 percent capacity.
Raspados el Paraiso
The family-owned shop, which has been selling raspados, Tostilocos and other Mexican delights for the last five years, is one of only a handful of raspado shops on the east side of town. In 2020, the shop opened a second location at 7701 E. Golf Links Road.
Slice and Ice
One of the original founders of Eegee's, Ed Irving, opened this restaurant at 1905 W. Grant Road, selling pizza, sandwiches and Italian ice.
Snooze delayed its opening by three months after coronavirus hit and opened in July. The restaurant, at 2500 E. Grant Road, serves breakfast and lunch.
So Fresh Salads at American Eat Co.
One can find a simple menu of fresh salads here, some customizable.
This Indian restaurant opened in Marana mid-April, in the suburban shopping area Arizona Pavilions Marketplace, 5815 N. Arizona Pavilions Drive. Spice Garden is also the only place in town to serve South Indian food like dosas, the spongy Indian crepes eaten with coconut chutney.
Sydney's Sweet Shoppe
This new spot can fulfill the wishes of any sweet tooth, especially if that tooth craves pie. The shop sells pies and cakes at 8969 E. Tanque Verde Road.
The Marana location of this restaurant, 6741 N. Thornydale Road, will feature the same menu as the southside location: tortas, burritos, caramelos, and of course, tacos.
The Blacktop Grill
A former food cart, the restaurant, 8300 N. Thornydale Road, is owned by Gabe Ceniceros, whose crazy hot dog combinations include The Elotero with fire roasted corn, lime and Cotija cheese on top. The menu is a greatest hits of all the best stuff from his cart, and includes some sandwiches and quesadillas in addition to his all-beef hot dogs.
The Dapper Doughnut
With a name like The Dapper Doughnut, it must be a gourmet doughnut shop. This one opened at First Avenue and East Roger Road.
The Korean Rose and Taegukgi Korean BBQ House
Taegukgi, 6118 E. Speedway, is an import from San Diego, and is also the first all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue joint in Tucson. There's also a tea and boba spot in the front.
This rooftop bar is at the top of the new Graduate hotel at 930 E. Second St. The view from the patio bar is stellar.
Toss Fried Chicken and Ramen
Toss Fried Chicken and Ramen at 1655 S. Alvernon Way is owned by the same family as Izumi sushi bar on Speedway. Chef and co-owner Jake Lin said that his wife Cooky came up with the idea to pair fried chicken and ramen together because both of those items are trendy and well-liked by American restaurant-goers.
Toto's Taco Restaurant
This restaurant is part taqueria and part homey Mexican restaurant serving breakfast and lunch. It is at 1118 W. St. Mary's Road.
Tuk Tuk Thai
This restaurant serves what it calls Thai street food. Owner Bud Sayso came to Tucson in 2020 from Portland, Ore., where he owned a Thai restaurant.
Voltron Brewing Company
Named after a Japanese cartoon and the colaboration of two brewing companies, Voltron Brewing Company, 330 S. Toole Ave., began in 2018. In January, the colaborators opened their tasting room to the public.
We said farewell to these Tucson restaurants and bars in 2020
The Independent Distillery
The 5-year-old downtown cocktail bar, 30 S. Arizona Ave., announced its closure in early November, saying that eight months without revenue was the dealbreaker.
El Indio Mexican Restaurant
El Indio Mexican Restaurant, 3355 S. Sixth Ave., closed in March, when many restaurants closed because of the pandemic. Now the owner, Pedro Estrella, has decided to retire and the restaurant will not reopen.
Rigo's on Oracle Road
Rigo's closed its second location, 5851 N. Oracle Road, after 10 years.
Mestizos, 1118 W. St. Mary's Road, opened in November 2019, but announced in April it wouldn't be able to continue.
Gee's Garden, 1145 N. Alvernon Way, opened in 1975, but the new owner fell behind on rent and it closed in June.
Chicago Bar, 5954 E. Speedway, opened in 1978. The owners announced it would be closed because of the pandemic in late June.
Athens on 4th
Athens on 4th had served up Greek food for 27 years when it closed in late June.
Alibaba Mediterranean, 2545 E. Speedway, closed in late June. This sign was gone and the doors locked.
Rincon Market, 2513 E. Sixth St., closed in June after the owner was unable to pay rent.
Public Brewhouse, 209 N. Hoff Ave., closed for good in October. The nanobrewery was losing money doing takeout only.
Meet Rack, known for branding its customers and an owner who called himself God, closed in October.
Green Feet Brewing
Green Feet Brewing, 3669 E. 44th St., opened in 2016, announced in August that it would close "when the beer ran out."
Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails
Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails had closed temporarily because of the pandemic, but Chef Janos Wilder announced in October that the restaurant would close for good.
Elvira’s Tequila, Cocina & Vino, 256 E. Congress St., closed permanently after months of closure during the pandemic.
Cafe Poca Cosa
After months of a pandemic closure, Cafe Poca Cosa, 110 E. Pennington St., closed its doors for good.
Perfecto's Mexican Grill Express, 1055 E. Irvington, is another casualty of the pandemic. It was a spinoff of Perfecto's on South 12th Avenue.
Bianchi’s Italian in Marana
Bianchi’s Italian in Marana, 3620 W. Tangerine Road, is the second Bianchi's location, and is now closed.
Irene’s Holy Donuts
Irene’s Holy Donuts, 340 N. Fourth Ave., will be unable to satisfy the sweet tooth of Tucsonans because it closed in February.