La Encantada's newest food spot Nekter serves Brazilian acaí bowls like the mango bowl (left) and the peanut butter bowl.

This month's list of Tucson restaurants took me by surprise ... Now that the season's over and the students/snowbirds have gone bye-bye, I expected quite a struggle finding enough places to fill this list. 

But here we are, at the beginning of June with eight new dining options, including a local chocolate maker and a Jewish deli/music venue? Cool! But the most important development is just around the corner ...

Three new bars are set to open downtown in the next few months. Two of them  Iron John's and Ten Fifty-Five  are actually taprooms for established local breweries. (That's in addition to Series 19 that opened this month. It pours local spirits from Three Wells Distilling Company.) Is downtown becoming a full-fledged brewery district? And more importantly, what's with all these hazy IPA's?!!     

The Buffalo Spot 

760 N. Tyndall Ave., 520-398-4621


The Chain Buffalo Spot opened on N. Tyndall Ave. near the University of Arizona. 

This Southern California-based chain restaurant specializes in ribs, buffalo wings and fries. The Buffalo Spot has more than a dozen wing flavors including pineapple jalapeño, teriyaki and Jamaican jerk. The store's signature item is a big basket of loaded buffalo fries topped with boneless wings. Check it out at Main Gate Square, in the former home of Cup it Up. Read more

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sundays-Wednesdays, and until 1 a.m. Thursdays-Saturdays

Cans Deli 

340 N. Fourth Ave., 520-775-0226

This Fourth Avenue sandwich spot/music venue comes from the owner of TallBoys down the street. Cans is modeled after a Jewish deli, serving a host of meaty pastrami and corned beef sandwiches with housemade pickles. (There are also some genre-bending choices like pork belly? 😳) The back half of the space functions as a music venue where you can rock out to local acts like Vox Urbana. Read more

Hours: Restaurant hours 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day, bar hours 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. every day 

The Chocolate Iguana

431 N. Fourth Ave., 520-798-1211


The Chocolate Iguana moved into the original location of Lindy's on Fourth last Wednesday. 

After losing its home of 28 years, The Chocolate Iguana reopened on Fourth Avenue less than a block from its original spot. With its crisp new paint job and colorful candy jars, it's hard to believe the space used to be the burger giant Lindy's on Fourth. The space is a bit smaller than the original location, but there's still the same candy selection, as well as pastries, espresso drinks and ice cream. Read more

Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays, closed on Sundays for the time being

The Frozen Cactus

5769 E. Speedway, 520-495-5136

News of the month! RJ's Replays on Speedway was one of two local businesses featured on a TV show called "Bar Rescue," where a "nightlift expert" goes full-Gordon Ramsay on a failing bar. The episode hasn't come out yet, but the joint is already sporting a new name ... The Frozen Cactus Ice Bar and Flame Grill? The new menu looks a bit more substantial, with dishes like the Spanish Tilapia with spicy fried potato sticks, $8.95. 

Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays

Monsoon Chocolate

234 E. 22nd St., 520-396-3189


Radish toast with labneh yogurt, $7, is one of the breakfast items at Tucson's new cafe Monsoon Chocolate. 

This southside spot is part artisan chocolate shop, part airy cafe with a trendy breakfast and lunch menu. Monsoon Chocolate specializes in bean-to-bar chocolate confections bursting with local ingredients like chiltepin peppers and Whiskey del Bac. Check out the breakfast toasts, which feature housemade bread and a mosaic of well-placed ingredients. Read more

Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

Nekter Juice Bar


The seasonal coconut vanilla soft serve flavor at Nekter is made with coconut milk rather than cream, $4.25. 

A juice bar just opened this week next to the Apple Store at La Encantada mall. Nekter is a California chain that serves cold-pressed juices, healthy smoothies, acai bowls and gourmet soft serves with mostly vegan ingredients. My menu favorite was the Green Apple Detox juice with cucumbers, lemon, kale, fennel and ginger. It wasn't too sweet; mostly tart and spicy with a fresh taste from the cucumber. 

Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays

Series 19

13 N. Stone Ave., 520-303-1199


Series 19 is primarily a cocktail bar, with not a beer in sight. 

Downtown Tucson's newest cocktail bar Series 19 pours local spirits from across Arizona. It's an offshoot of Three Wells Distilling Company, which produces prickly pear spirits and more from a warehouse on Tucson's south side. The cocktail menu showcases the Three Wells line, which now includes two gins, agave spirits, vodka and even bourbon. We enjoyed the Sonoran Margarita on a recent visit. Read more

Hours: 4 to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 3 p.m. to midnight Fridays, 2 p.m. to midnight Saturdays, and 1 to 8 p.m. Sundays


267 S. Avenida Del Convento, 520-867-8308


Westbound has four cocktails on tap, like the rum-based Punch Drunk Love (left for $7) and the gin-based Orange Cucumber Rhumba ($8).  

Westbound is the first food and drink concept to open at the MSA Annex, a shipping container shopping center just east of the Mercado San Agustin. (The other food concepts are still a few weeks out.) The folks at Tap + Bottle have brought in a taplist of 20 different beers, eight wines and four batch-made cocktails. (Try the gin-based Orange Cucumber Rhumba with spicy dehydrated cucumbers.) The mostly outdoor concept does have air conditioning and plenty of shade, plus a small bottle room at the front.     

Hours: Noon to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, noon to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 8 pm. Sundays

On the horizon ...

 The Cobra Arcade Bar is finishing up construction at 63 E. Congress downtown

The Persian Room is expected to open in early June at 9290 N. Thornydale Road

— Ten Fifty-Five Brewing recently moved its barrels to the new downtown location, expected to open this summer

— Iron John's Brewing released a floorplan for its upcoming tap room at 222 E. Congress

— With reporting by Cathalena Burch and Gerald Gay


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.