Visitors to the 2019 Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase don’t have to settle for the same restaurants as last year. New places have popped up all over town. Here are 10 that have generated some buzz:
American Eat Co. — 1439 S. Fourth Ave.
American Eat Co. opened in the old American Meat Co. on South Fourth Avenue last April, giving the south side several new cuisine options offered in a food court setting.
The popular spot sells everything from pizza and Greek food to sliders and poke. Oh, and beer and wine options to try after a long day of treasure hunting.
The best part: American Eat Co. is a ten minute drive from most of the gem, mineral and fossil shows along the frontage roads downtown.
Cobra Arcade Bar — 63 E. Congress St.
While not a restaurant, Cobra Arcade Bar in downtown Tucson is the perfect way to relieve a little stress after hours.
The bar, on the northwest corner of East Congress and North Scott Ave., offers hundreds of classic arcade games and pinball machines, from Street Fighter II to Tron.
Try one of their game-themed cocktails (with names like the Kirby and Krazy Kong), then hit any of the surrounding restaurants along Congress for some evening eats.
This is the second Cobra Arcade Bar in Arizona, with its sister location in downtown Phoenix.
Hoki Poki — 6501 E. Grant Road
This fast/casual poke restaurant with a clever name opened at the end of April last year on East Grant Road, just north of East Tanque Verde Road.
The brainchild of local restauranteur Bin An, Hoki Poki follows the build-a-bowl method, allowing customers to choose the protein (fish) and toppings they want piled onto their plates.
An has since opened a second location at 2643 N. Campbell Ave. and serves Hoki Poki during lunch at his downtown restaurant MiAn Sushi and Modern Asian Cuisine. Locations in Vail and Marana are expected to open this year.
Ten 55 Brewing and Sausage House — 110 E. Congress St.
Gem show visitors who enjoy the beer that 1055 Brewing Company has produced over the years have more to look forward to in 2019.
Now called Ten55 Brewing and Sausage House, the company has moved into new digs downtown and offers a selection of meat and vegan sausages in a German beer garden-style setting.
You can find Ten55 just east of the East Congress/South Scott Avenue intersection.
Tito & Pep — 4122 E. Speedway
This midtown restaurant has quickly risen in the ranks of popular fine dining in Tucson.
“We really want to be a neighborhood spot. A comfortable spot,” chef and Tito & Pep owner John Martinez told the Star in November.
Dishes range from grilled lamb chops ($22) to sea bass crudo ($12). Tito & Pep also sports a solid menu of craft cocktails.
The Boxyard — 238 N. Fourth Ave.
The Boxyard is brand spanking new to North Fourth Avenue. So new that, at last check, the outdoor beer garden and boxcar food court was still getting all of its dining options in order.
When food is available, you’ll tentatively be able to nosh on Sonoran dogs, Vietnamese food, barbecue and pita plates.
In the meantime, enjoy a beer, glass of wine or cocktail while looking out over North Fourth Avenue from a second-floor boxcar balcony that faces the street.
Charro Del Rey — 178 E. Broadway
El Charro President Ray Flores told the Star last October that the restaurant will pay homage to his father, Ray Sr. whose name was often misspelled “Rey.”
The restaurant's website describes its cuisine as a "gallery-like menú of classic and delicious 'Charro Family' takes on seafood and prime dishes that range from the staples of legendary coastal dinner house menus of our childhood to the marinated mariscos made famous in such Mexican regions as Sinaloa and Sonora."
Caps & Corks — 3830 W. River Road
This new taproom in the northwest suburb of Marana offers 25 rotating taps that includes local breweries, such as 1912 Brewing, Button Brew House, Borderlands Brewing, Pueblo Vida Brewing and Crooked Tooth Brewing.
Launched by brothers Ty and Tad Hammett - and their wives - Elyse and Dulce, respectively, Caps & Corks joins several spots producing and/or selling craft beer on the northwest side of town, including Button, Casa Marana (an outpost of Casa Film Bar), Catalina Brewing, Growler's Taphouse and Serial Grillers on West River Road.
Fatman Kitchen — 2610 N. First Ave.
This noodle shop, which replaced Impress Hot Pot in a strip mall on North First Avenue, makes its own noodles, including biang biang noodles, according to This is Tucson food writer Andi Berlin.
Berlin describes the noodles as “belts of hand-pulled wheat.”
“They’re hearty and thick and taste like Chinese lasagna,” she added.
Rollies Mexican Patio — 4573 S. 12th Ave.
Technically, Rollies opened just before last year’s gem show, but we felt it deserved a second mention. This outdoor dining establishment, located on Tucson’s south side, offers a new take on traditional Mexican dishes, in a concept developed by local chef Mateo Otero.
The atmosphere is fun and funky, with a menu that includes burros, tortas and rolled tacos.