If you care about this lovely city of gastronomy, there has never been a more important time to support its culinary scene.
No doubt you’ve heard the small talk: restaurants emptying out, managers seeing up to an 80% drop-off in customers, and now, a city-mandate to close dining rooms, forcing restaurants to offer drive-through service or takeout only. Restaurants already work off insanely thin profit margins, but the COVID-19 pandemic is a test like no other.
If this trend continues, many of our beloved Tucson restaurants will not make it. And that is a complete shame. Because even through this crisis, we have the power as Tucsonans to recognize how important food is to our culture, and to support it in any way we can.
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::C O V I D 1 9:: Some words and intentions in these Strange & trying times. Our greatest hope is that by moving forward rationally, intentionally & compassionately, we can navigate this well and take care of one another. Below is a list of things we’re doing to ensure the safety of our community (you!) and of our work family: 🌏 we’ve implemented many new sanitization and safety protocols & procedures. This includes sanitizing pens and all table top service items thoroughly between each use, sanitizing door handles, etc etc. Please exercise patience as we might move a little more slowly through service- this is for the health & well being of all of us. We’re printing single use menus and installing a scannable QR code menu for use on your personal devices to eradicate shared paper surfaces. Yes the single use menus are wasteful, but the paper is recyclable and we feel this is the safest option. Most folks will be able to access the QR menu and save paper. 🌎 we’ve issued health & safety guidelines and recommendations for the immunity of our crew, and are providing herbal and other recommendations based on the advice of infectious disease specialists, physicians, and personal experience. Please do everything in your power to increase your health & resilience as well. Daily exercise, a clean balanced diet, hydration & supplementation are all invaluable. Consider Zinc, Astragalus, Elder Berry, Vitamins A&D together, vitamins C & B12, echinacea, mullein, elecampane, nettle, marshmallow root. Coconut oil ingestion is beneficial as this virus is a lipid-coated virus is susceptible to coconut oil's MCFAs or monoglycerides. Gelatin rich bone broth helps to bolster immunity and detoxify the body. Zicam, airborne, grapefruit seed extract are great too! Whatever works for you! Take precautions to bolster your immune defense! Please feel free to make healthful recommendations in the comments below! 🌍We’re applying for loans to try to ensure the continuation of our staff’s health insurance policy and ability to pay bills if this pandemic forces a closure- and we’re exploring other options to maintain income for all of us during this strange time, [cont. in comments]
Here are three major ways you can support restaurants through this tough time. (Besides not going out if you're sick. That's a biggie.)
1. Even though you can't go inside, you can still order takeout or delivery from Grubhub, etc. Over the next few weeks we'll see restaurants all over town upping their takeout games with curbside pickup, and new delivery options.
2. Tip your restaurant workers. And tip them well, because they're going through hell.
3. Consider buying a gift card and using it later, when everything is good again! Many restaurants also have online merch like t-shirts and hats that you can buy too.
Below I have put together a list of places with reliable takeout situations (Note: This list is far from complete, now that everyone in town is doing takeout. But it's a jumping off point.) I've also broken down all the food delivery companies, telling you what makes them unique and which local restaurants they work with. And at the bottom, I have a few places you can buy gift cards.
I will be updating this article as new information comes in, so people can bookmark it and use it as a resource going forward.
Last thing! While we're talking about local foods, let's not forget our independent grocery stores like Johnny Gibson's Market, Grant Stone Supermarket and The Food Conspiracy Co-Op. I heard a little whisper that they might have TP. And theirs is good for the planet too. 🌎
Local restaurants that are doing takeout
The northside Cajun restaurant is doing curbside takeout and delivery through Door Dash. The Parish is also doing bulk items like quarts of gumbo, collard greens, red beans and rice, as well as Carolina Pibil Pork by the pound in vacuum-sealed bags for easy freezing. They're also offering half-off deals for healthcare workers, fire department employees, police, EMT's, grocery store workers and musicians with canceled gigs and music venue employees. Call for more info. View the menu here.
This British pub on the east side is doing takeout on its entire menu. They announced on Facebook this morning that they had 19 guests come in the previous day, down from the usual 400. They're offering a 10 percent discount on all orders. View their menu here.
The Phoenix-based diner will also do takeout, and is adapting its menu as the Coronavirus crisis plays out. We love their fried chicken sandwiches, but they also make a mean mac and cheese. You can also purchase a gift card by going into their store or purchasing one over the phone; they will mail it out to you. View the menu here.
This South Tucson Mexican restaurant announced on Facebook that it's limitiing its operation to support social distancing by doing takeout on its entire menu, as well as bulk-food orders (which are 20 percent off). It's also changing its hours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. They're encouraging you to pay for your takeout orders over the phone with your debit or credit card. They will take 15 to 20 minutes to prepare. View the menu here.
The east-side Italian restaurant does a robust takeout service and "is working round-the-clock to keep our staff and clients safe and well-fed," says co-owner Stacey Beste in an email. View their menu here.
The Phoenix-area based wine bar Postino is instituting curbside pickup as well as takeout. Just call and place an order, and they will bring it out to your car. Curbside pickup specials include a board of bruschetta, one "snacky thing" and a salad for $25; a board of bruschetta, three "snacky things" and a cheese board for $45; and 2-packs or 4-packs of wine for $30 and and $55. View their menu here.
BrushFire BBQ Co.
In addition to working with food delivery services like Postmates, Grubhub and DoorDash, this barbecue joint also does takeout. They recently announced on Facebook that they're upping their sanitary measures by giving everyone sealed plastic cutlery, removing shared condiments and ensuring all employees wear gloves and are frequently washing their hands. Check out their menu here.
Ghini's French Caffe
The French bistro posted an update on Facebook this weekend with a picture that reads "Buy local or bye-bye local." The post says: "We at Ghini’s French Caffe have been blessed with your loyalty and love for over 27 years, THANK YOU! ... We continue to serve our excellent food from our hearts, and our bathrooms are fully stocked with toilet paper, mouthwash and soap. We are just as happy to pack up our delicious food to-go." View their menu here.
Renee's Organic Oven
Orders must be placed over the phone ahead of time, and can be paid for with credit cards. "In response to the coronavirus and it’s known rate of transmission, we are taking a huge step in limiting our operation to support and encourage social distancing as our best defense," a Facebook post reads. The restaurant is also offering a "comfort food special" of grilled cheese and tomato soup for $12. View a menu here.
Most of Tucson's Chinese restaurants do take-out, but I'm including Panda House in this list for personal reasons: If this Sichuan restaurant went down, I would be extremely upset because I have ordered takeout here numerous times and it is very close to my house and the UA area. I recommend the mustard noodles with pork, oh my goodness! Order online here.
The midtown brunch spot just introduced a new grab-and-go case at the front of the restaurant with items like lasagna, meatloaf, soup, salad and more. You can also purchase a bottle of wine to-go. Check out the pictures on their Facebook page. View Blue Willow's complete menu here.
El Charro family restaurants
Flores Concepts, the owners of El Charro and its sister restaurants Charro Steak, Charro del Rey and Charrovida, announced its offering a 10 percent discount on all carry-out orders until May 1. The restaurant family is also busting out a limited delivery service for small group orders of at least $100. Deliveries must be within three miles of the location and need a minimum-two-hour advance notice.
A quick list of some other popular takeout and meal prep restaurants in Tucson: The Hidden Grill, Roma Imports, Chef Chic, Tony's Italian Deli, ZA'ATAR Mediterranean Restaurant, Urban Pita, Beyond Bread (offering 10 percent off for all online orders), Empire Pizza, Choice Greens, Jun Dynasty, Sher-e-Punjab, Miss Saigon, AZ Fit Kitchen, Stay Naked Kitchen
Food delivery services
Please note that many of these companies extract hefty fees from the local restaurants they work with. So if you want your dollars to go the furthest, your best option is to do takeout directly from the restaurant. But these services do make it easier for all of us, and that's nothing to scoff at.
This locally-owned courier service has been in operation since 2014, and its services go beyond simple food delivery. You can use it to send out your laundry, process bank deposits, grab your pharmaceuticals and more. Onda Güey works directly with more than a dozen local restaurants, but will also deliver from other restaurants upon request. Their partners include: Urban Pita, 1702, Boca, Urban Fresh, The Taco Shop Co., Beaut Burger and more.
National food delivery service Grubhub announced that it's waiving up to $100 million of commission fees for local restaurants that are hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic, writes the New York Post. This is very important, because these fees add up when restaurant profit margins are already slim. The website claims to have 1,773 different food options in Tucson, including: Kababeque Indian Grill, Goodness, Thuan Kieu Vietnamese Restaurant, Guadalajara Original Grill, El Güero Canelo, Zaatar, Charrovida and more. (Lots of vegetarian options here.) They also offer free delivery for first-time diners.
Uber's food delivery service is touted for its reliability and large range of options in Tucson and across the country. The app also has a function where you can send messages to your delivery drivers, allowing for contact-less delivery. They are currently running special offers on: Fish Wok, Mian Sichuan, Alibaba, Urban Pita and more. You can also order from Postino, Cafe Desta, Graze burgers and Obon sushi.
Customers are able to leave instructions for drivers in the app, allowing for contact-less delivery. This service touts 543 Tucson restaurants including Inca's Peruvian Cuisine, Barista del Barrio, Miss Saigon, Beyond Bread, Seis Kitchen, Calle Tepa, Papa Loco's Tacos and Burgers, BrushFire BBQ and more. There are no delivery fees on the first order.
This delivery service pays its drivers more per hour than other leading apps, according to a recent article in entrecourier.com. This San Francisco-based company works with local restaurants like Jun Dynasty Chinese restaurant, Tumerico, Fuku Sushi, Sushi Cho, Empire Pizza, Jimmy's Pita and Poke Bowl, Miss Saigon, Zaatar, Trident Pizza Pub and more. It recently introduced no-contact delivery options in its app. And the website claims to give new users $100 in delivery fee credits.
Restaurants offering gift cards
Note: This list is far from complete. Please chime in and I will add you here.
Monsoon Chocolate has closed down its cafe until further notice, but will keep its online store open and is considering implementing delivery and curbside pickup in the future. Purchase a gift card from them here.
5 Points Market & Restaurant announced on Facebook that it's exploring new options like call-in orders, delivery and curbside pickup. You can also purchase a gift card over the phone by calling 520-623-3888.
El Charro family of restaurants offers gift cards that work at all its sister restaurants El Charro Cafe, Charrovida, Charro Steak and Charro del Rey. Purchase one here.
The Tucson Originals network of restaurants offers gift cards of up to $200 on its website. Restaurants include Bisbee Breakfast Club, Fiamme Pizza, Mama's Hawaiian Bar-B-Cue, Rocco's Little Chicago, Trident Grill, Fresco Pizzeria and Pastaria, The Dutch and more. Buy one here.
The Horseshoe Grill offers gift cards on its website here, or by going into the restaurant.
Beyond Bread sells gift cards online and will mail them out to you in three business days. Buy one here.
Bisbee Breakfast Club is offering a 10 percent discount on e gift cards (maximum $50 discount). Purchase one here.
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