Everyone's talking about ramen, but January has really been an eclectic month for the Tucson restaurant scene. We're seeing newcomers open in every part of town: an experimental brewery on the southside, acaí bowls downtown and an Eritrean restaurant with serious BYOB potential.
After you hit up Raijin Ramen for lunch, you might wanna swing by Caravan Grill for some Syrian pastries cooked in a stone oven by Syrian-native Hudhaifa Alorti. All of them are glorious, but I can't stop thinking about his sweet pistachio logs made from strings of Knafeh dough. It's like baklava mated with a shredded wheat and produced a sweet Freddy Krueger baby who likes nuts and can jump into your dreams. (I'm practically delirious thinking about it ...)
So here we go: eight new options to put into your restaurant roster. Not all of them serve food, but beer offers nutrients, right?
Arizona Wine Collective
4280 N Campbell Ave., 520-329-8595
St. Philip's Plaza has a new wine bar that focuses on wines from across this great state. Arizona Wine Collective is owned by Jeanne and Pete Snell, who cut his teeth working at the tasting room at Sonoita's Callaghan Vineyards. The cozy spot in the former Scordato's Pizzeria has eight wine taps, six beer taps and bottles from 11 different wineries in Sonoita, Cochise County, the Verde Valley and beyond. The duo also serves a small snack menu of charcuterie, popcorn and local cheeses from Peace, Love and Smoked Cheese. There are no TV's, only wine, glorious wine.
Hours: 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 2 to 9 p.m. Fridays, noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 8 p.m. Sundays, closed Mondays
Berry Divine Acaí bowls
245 E. Congress St, Suite 159, 520-274-7936
Brazilian acaí bowls arrived downtown last month with the opening of Berry Divine, a Sedona-based shop owned by former pastry chef Todd Shreve. The blueberry-like fruit, widely considered a superfood, gets blended into fruity smoothies and run through a soft-serve machine for healthy desserts. Each acaí bowl has about a dozen ingredients including fresh fruit, chocolate, granola, flax seed and more.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week
2825 N. Country Club Road, 520-323-0082
The midtown shop formerly occupied by Za'atar has been taken over by the neighboring Caravan Market, who developed a Mediterranean lunch menu with various falafel plates, gyros and chicken shawarma. Caravan Grill still has its beautiful stone oven, which produces Iraqi Samoun breads as well as delicate Syrian pastries like the addicting Burma logs made from shredded filo dough and fresh pistachios.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays
Harbottle Brewing Company
3820 S. Palo Verde Road, Suite 102, 520-499-2518
Tucson's newest brewery Harbottle just opened this week on a southside neighborhood that's also home to Ten Fifty-Five and Nimbus. Originally named Flux Brewing, this 7-barrel brewhouse has a 1,000-square foot tasting room. Tap + Bottle alums Michael Figueira, Andy Shlicker and business partner Sam Kroack are working on some funky stuff like mixed-fermentation ales and lagers. The sour beer Kentucky Sunglasses comes highly recommended, in addition to the English bitter Nigel Tufnel, named after a "This is Spinal Tap" character.
Hours: noon to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, noon to midnight Fridays and Saturdays
4660 E. Camp Lowell Drive, 520-495-5499
Twisted Tandoor closed in November, but now the space holds a Northern Indian restaurant called Indian Twist. The retro chic space has gone unchanged, but now you'll find a simple $10.95 lunch buffet flanking the sides of the open kitchen. The regular menu is filled with familiar Indian restaurant fare like shrimp saag and chicken tikka masala. But the restaurant also has a hefty vegetarian section with moderately-priced lentil dishes, chana masala and more.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. lunch buffet (with regular menu) and 3 to 9 p.m. seven days a week
Kiss of Smoke
663 S. Plumer Ave., 520-270-7917
Tucked back into a residential neighborhood south of Broadway, Kiss of Smoke serves wood-fired barbecue dishes like pulled pork and mesquite-smoked chicken. Brandi Romero and her family originally started out as a competition barbecue team, but transitioned into a popular food truck and now a brick and mortar restaurant. She insists you've gotta try the pulled pork tacos with chipotle bacon slaw, which are fried with a crispy shell. The "fatties" are also a popular snack: Breakfast sausage is stuffed with mozzarella cheese and green chiles, then smoked and sliced into cracker-sized bites.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. breakfast service, and 10 a.m. until they sell out (around 6 or 7 p.m.) Wednesdays through Saturdays
5553 E. Grant Road, 520-276-3476
Welday Gebrezgabher Gezehen brings his native cuisine of Eritrea to a midtown neighborhood near Tucson Medical Center. The northeast African country shares many recipes with neighboring Ethiopia, but Queen Sheba also has some distinctly Eritrean dishes like the volcano-shaped cornmeal porridge ga'at and spongy Himbasha bread. The bright but homey restaurant is also BYOB with a $1 corkage fee.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 9 p.m. Sundays
2955 E. Speedway, 520-795-3123
Tucson's first ramen house has nine varieties on the menu including a spicy tonkotsu pork and a mean bowl of vegan ramen. Raijin Ramen is owned by Jun and Diana Arai of the east-side izakaya Ginza Sushi. Jun learned his craft by working at a ramen restaurant in the Nagano Prefecture outside of Tokyo. The former Saga Sushi has been packed ever since it opened last month, so you might have to wait to get a table. It's worth it.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 4 to 9 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays.
Besties Fish and Burger by Kade Mislinksi announced it'll open in the former Mother Hubbard's next week
Tucson's first food hall American Eat. Co. is expected to open in February
Craft, A Modern Drinkery is set to open in February or March
The owner of MiAn Sushi announced he's opening a poke joint Hoki Poki