April was a surprising month, even after April Fools' Day came and went ... Normally when Tucson begins to heat up and the restaurant season comes to a close, we see more restaurants shut down than open their doors.
That's definitely not the case in 2018! We did have to say goodbye to Alejandro's Cafe downtown, Opa on Campbell and the east-side Mama Louisa's location this month, but we've got a strong list of openings with some real high-profile ones around the corner. Tucson is about to get a Jewish deli, an artisan chocolatier and shipping container shopping center at the Mercado San Agustín.
This month I'm all about Filipino sweets on the southside, and (sorry to gush, guys) my new favorite noodle joint of all time! Noodleholics is bringing homemade noodles and regional Chinese flavors to Tucson, and it's doing it in a contemporary but casual atmosphere on Grant Road. I'm working my way through every dish on the menu; It's that kinda place ...
Before we get to the listicle part you've all been waiting for, I have to vent for a second. What's going on with South Fourth Avenue, guys? Now that American Eat Co. and now Monsoon Chocolate are open, the northern end of the street is lighting up. But meanwhile on the southern end in South Tucson, Micha's is burning down before our eyes, and the city doesn't have enough firefighters to put it out.
Will this city put its resources toward supporting its businesses, so that South Tucson can benefit from the upcoming restaurant boom? Time will tell, but we'll be here, watching and eating ...
1832 E. Sixth St., 520-499-3830
Okay so Halfwheel Coffeehouse technically opened in March, but it managed to slip through our radar. You see, this new coffee counter is actually part of a bike shop called Re-Cycle, which recently took up residence in a former Bernie Sanders campaign office. Halfwheel serves Exo Roast coffee and La Estrella Bakery pastries in a bright but homey space on Sixth and Campbell. Peak around the corner and you'll see a full-service bike shop flanking the back of the store.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
6501 E. Grant Road, Suite 121, 520-500-5551
This east-side shop from Bin An lets you choose your own poke destiny. Hoki Poki's bowls are more substantial than An's downtown venue MiAn Sushi, because you can pile on ingredients like spicy tuna, seaweed salad, mandarin oranges and more. (If you're not feeling the poke bowl you can also choose to wrap it all up into a sushi burrito.) At $9.75 for a substantial two scoop bowl, it's one of the best poke deals in town.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day
Lindy’s off Fourth
8995 E. Tanque Verde Road, 520-721-5855
East-side residents can now get their Blue Suede Cows without having to travel to Fourth Avenue. Lindy's opened a second location on Tanque Verde this month in the former home of Great American Steakburger. The "offbeat" burger menu remains the same, but the space is substantially bigger and roomier, and sports a full bar area with eight beers on tap.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays
Nick’s Sari Sari Store
2001 S. Craycroft Road, 520-406-3593
This Filipino market recently moved to a new location near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and is now sporting a separate cafe with buffet-style dishes at the front counter. Nick's Sari Sari Store is doing all the specialties like lumpia egg rolls, pork adobo and crunchy sisig. ($6.50 will get you two scoops and white rice.) But everyone had a cup of Halo Halo in their hands. This shaved ice with fruit jellies and purple yam ice cream is worth the trip on its own.
Hours: Mondays through Saturdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed Sundays
3502 E. Grant Road, 520-305-4262
Despite the name's all-encompassing nature, Noodleholics actually specializes in homemade rice noodles from a region in Southern China called Guilin. Although, the packed midtown restaurant sports dishes from across the mainland including wonton noodles and spicy Dan Dan. The wonder that is Noodleholics deserves more than a little paragraph here, so I will say this ... go there! Please? If I have done anything to earn your trust, run with me on this one. It's so good!
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Sundays, closed Mondays
4300 N. Campbell Ave., 520-638-6290
This chic coffee shop is tucked back into a sleepy plaza at St. Philip's, where Arizona Cyclist used to be. Owner Lisa Ocker is a Wisconsin transplant and sources her coffee from Colectivo out of Milwaukee. Ren Coffeehouse also has a nice lunch menu of paninis, simple salads and a gorgeous avocado toast with perfectly poached egg on Barrio Bread. A hidden gem!
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays
7265 N. La Cholla Blvd., 520-797-7799
This Foothills mall restaurant Tamarind has a large menu of dishes from all over India, including the burrito-like kati rolls and a whole category of "Mystic Masalas." But, you're probably going to go for the lunch buffet, which looked eclectic and plentiful on a recent visit. I've yet to sit down and try it, but as always, let me know what you think!
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. lunch buffet and 5 to 10 p.m. dinner service Tuesdays through Sundays, closed Mondays
On the horizon ...
— Monsoon Chocolate just opened Wednesday morning at 7 a.m.
— The Jewish deli/music venue Cans on Fourth Avenue has a tentative opening date this for Friday
— The shipping container shopping center MSA Annex at the Mercado San Agustín will hold its grand opening this weekend
— Nekter Juice Bar is set to open at La Encantada in mid-to-late May
— The Serial Grillers spinoff Craft, A Modern Drinkery is still under construction