Tucson's restaurants tops if you steer clear of undercooked burgers

An easy recipe for feeling like crap by Sunday night is to stay up too late all weekend, refrain from adequate napping and eat too much restaurant food.

Bum Steer decor/Ryn Gargulinski

Bum Steer decor/Ryn Gargulinski

The food itself may not be to blame, as many Tucson eateries are simply delightful, but switching to fab fare from a usual diet of cereal and plain turkey sandwiches might have had something to do with it.

And I will lay some blame on the undercooked burger with its grease-sponge bun. I won’t name the place from whence it came but I will warn it tastes even worse cold. The place is not listed below.

When taken in moderation, some Tucson eateries can be tops.

Best pizza: Roccos Little Chicago, 2707 E Broadway Blvd
The pizza debate rages in households across the country: deep dish versus thin crust. Roccos Pizza offers both, with the deep dish and cheese so thick you a single slice serves as a seven-course meal, especially if you get six toppings.

Best Indian food: Sher-E-Punjab, 853 E. Grant Road
Curry everything and spicy everything else. Only caveat is sometimes it’s so crowded getting your delish dish can take some time. Also don’t go for lunch around 2 p.m. as they take a break and close prior to the dinner rush.

Best Thai: Char’s Thai, 5039 E. Fifth St

Lot’s of interesting stuff in this place, from the exotic food combinations to the snazzy table collages featuring pictures of elephants and Princess Diana. Warning: Do NOT order extra spicy or you will actually break out into a sweat so thick it can blind you.

Best ambiance: Bum Steer, 1910 N. Stone Ave
I’ve only tried two sandwiches at this crazy looking place and both were delish. Besides, I was so enamored with the funky décor that I didn’t really care what I was eating. From rifles to deer heads, street signs to suspended old-time wagons, the place is outfitted with some of the zaniest and most fun stuff I’ve seen since I last looked in my backyard.


Cheers!/Ryn Gargulinski

Cheers!/Ryn Gargulinski

What’s your favorite Tucson restaurant?

Did any of them ever make you sick?

Which has the best food? The best ambiance?

Where do you take visitors from out of town?

Bum Steer decor/Ryn Gargulinski

Bum Steer decor/Ryn Gargulinski

Bum Steer decor/Ryn Gargulinski

Bum Steer decor/Ryn Gargulinski

Bum Steer decor/Ryn Gargulinski

Bum Steer decor/Ryn Gargulinski

Bum Steer decor/Ryn Gargulinski

Bum Steer decor/Ryn Gargulinski

KoreyK's elephant hanging from the rafters/Ryn Gargulinski

KoreyK's elephant hanging from the rafters/Ryn Gargulinski


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
This entry was posted in hangout, life, odd pueblo and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Tucson's restaurants tops if you steer clear of undercooked burgers

  1. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! I’ve actually tried some of the places you listed. I agree with you on the pizza and Thai joints. Bum Steer still rocks. I have allot of great memories of this place when it was THE place to go.(not so much for food in those days :)) PS-If the bun is soaked with grease when you receive your burger, might be a good indication that it should be cooked a little more…

  2. Rynski says:

    Mornin’ RadMax – Glad you had the pleasure of trying some of the listings. And yes, I think the grease-soaked bun should have given it away — but I was hungry! Anyway, I’ll be swearing off burgers of all sorts for some time, just like  I swore of chicken sandwiches for some time after one gave me hives.

  3. azmouse says:

    Happy Monday guys!
    I used to go to the Bum Steer back in it’s partying hey-day. Haven’t eaten there in forever.
    When it comes to pizza, I’m stuck on “The King Kong Special’ from New York pizza, and they have a family sized pizza (great for my boys!) that is so big you can hardly fit it through the front door.

    I got dog-cat!! Ohhhhh, she’s so cute, Ryn. I just love her! She’s sitting on my coffee table right, till I decide the perfect place of honor to hang her!
    Thanks so much!!!

    • Rynski says:

      Hiya AZMouse – I guess I missed a heck of a party at Bum Steer! Someone told me there used to be a javelina head there, in addition to the carousel horse, armor, deer head and other jimalajazz…do you recall a javelina head?
      Pizza that’s nearly too big for the door just has to be cool!
      SO happy you got dog-cat, and even happier that you love her. It makes my day when my art goes to a happy home. Did you decide on a name yet? Even though RadMax is weird, I was thinking his suggestion of Fiona was befitting. Dog-cat looks Fiona-ey. What do you think?

      • radmax says:

        Weird Rynski? I resemble that remark… 🙂 PS-Fiona would be a fine name az, if you don’t have one yet. PS, good morning!

      • Rynski says:

        hahaha! you’re weird in a completely charming way – like dragonflies…or Sawyer.
        Yes – two votes for Fiona on the dog-cat.
        Also, anyone who wants to chime in on the name can check out the dog-cat by CLICKING HERE.

      • radmax says:

        Still lookin’ for the ever elusive javelina head Rynski? Maybe Hitler took it to the C-Dance Saloon…

      • Rynski says:

        my quest for javelina heads remains eternal.

      • azmouse says:

        The javelina head sounds familiar at the Bum Steer, but I was so busy trying to survive those stairs in mega stilettos after a few to many shots of tequila, to be able to look around and see what was hanging where. lol

        Fiona is a cute name, and I liked Esmeralda too. (Mornin’ Max-man!) Should we see what other options we might get from peeps?

  4. azmouse says:

    You really cannot appreciate dog-cat’s beauty in a photo…

  5. Jennatoolz says:

    Speakin’ of humongous pizza’s…Mama’s Pizza also offers a very very large pizza. It’s super tasty! There’s a couple Mama’s in town I believe, but the one I used to go to was off of Oracle & Magee. The pizza took up about 90% of the table we sat at, so there was hardly any room for plates and/or elbows! =P

    As for the awesome dog-cat name, I throw in a vote for Fiona too. =)

    • azmouse says:

      Thanks Jennatoolz! Happy Monday to ya.
      I’ve had the big pizzas from Mama’s too. Very good. I think the ones from New York pizza are just as big and delish, but quite a bit cheaper. Only problem is there is just one New York pzza in Tucson and it’s at Camino Seco and Broadway. Very convenient for me, but could be out of the way for some.

    • Rynski says:

      yum on mama’s. if i recall correctly, brooklyn pizza makes a pretty huge (and delish) pie, too.
      OK, AZMouse – see what names come in…although fiona has the lead thus far.

  6. Pingback: Tucson’s restaurants tops if you steer clear of undercooked burgers - Tucson Citizen-Restaurant Locator

  7. Karyn Zoldan says:

    I like Vila Thai for Thai food.  She has one dish with spinach and spicy peanut sauce that rocks my world.

    I like to take out of town guests to:

    Casa Vicente because it’s Tucson’s own little Spanish Hideway that is perpetually packed to the gills. It has live Spanish guitar music on some nights

    JBar for happy hour because of the half priced margaritas and J Dawgs (Janos’ version of Sonoran hot dogs)

    A trip to Maynards Market or Cup Cafe is usually where we go for a dose of downtown 

    And last but not least Cafe Poca Cosa for lunch if we can fit it in. People who go there once, always beg to be taken back.  Much of my company comes from Calif. and there’s nothing like Cafe Poca Cosa there.

    Sorry you got sick…

    • Rynski says:

      thanks for the input, Karyn. I’m ALWAYS looking for places to take my parents when they come to town – you just filled our whole food agenda! those all sound great.
      i’m sorry i got sick, too, thanks for sorry-ness. at least i learned to order WELL DONE burgers if/when i ever eat burgers again.

    • azmouse says:

      I haven’t been to any of your spots, so I have to try em!
      Thanks Karen.

    • Marie says:

      Karyn!  You hit everyone of my favorite spots, though I’m partial to “street” version of the sonoran hot dog, and for that I want it from Guerro Canelo itself.    *Sigh*  I would be very happy to eat every single day at Cafe Poca Cosa and/or Casa Vicente.        

  8. koreyk says:

    I destroyed many a brain cell at the Bum Steer in its heyday, although I have not been there yet since it reopened.

    Ryn, there also was (still is??) a taxidermied baby elephant hanging high up in the rafters.

    • koreyk says:

      …wearing roller skates.

      • Rynski says:

        KoreyK – Found it! I looked through my Bum Steer photos and, sure enough, there was the elephant hanging in the rafters…he doesn’t appear to be wearing roller skates, although he seems to have flight goggles on his head..I’ve added his pick to the post above.
        That place has waaaay too much cool stuff.

      • azmouse says:

        I was to drunk to remember any of the actual stuff hanging around.  It appears I missed allot.
        Seems like the ladies bathroom had naked guy pics all over it…am I right?
        Maybe that was the “Meat Locker”. Wasn’t the Meat Locker the place where they had the ‘duty hut’???
        Jeez….I didn’t realize how much of a blur the eighties were until I had to try and remember them…

      • Marie says:

        AZMouse — It seems you and I had similar experiences.  The “duty hut” was at the “Someplace Else”  which was located on North 6th Avneue.   For some reason, I rememeber naked guy pictures at the Fine Line.   Given that plastering a bathroom with naked pics is a cheap way to decorate, I have to imagine that other places have done that.     My memory of the Meat Rack, (Meat locker perhaps?)  is getting offered a cigarette with my drink purchase.     

      • koreyk says:

        The men’s room had nekkid lady pics all over it, so, I’d guess you are correct about the ladies room.  The ladies room was labeled MEN in large letters, while the men’s room was labeled WOMEN.  Below both signs was an arrow and the words “that way” in small letters.  It seemed like there were always a couple of guys that would “accidently” walk into the ladies room about 50 times a night.

        There was also a collage of  male and female nudes on the wall along one of the stairways.  Many of the pics were cut up and combined in humorous but impossible ways.

        Berky’s was another bar that had the nude “wallpaper” in the restrooms. 

  9. azmouse says:

    We are cut from the same cloth…or decade! LOL
    I wouldn’t be surprised if we knew each other….
    Oh my gosh…Someplace Else! That’s what it was called! The duty hut was a trip.
    The Fine Line…what another great place to see every kind of person walking the planet. I loved going there. I fit right in with my multi-colored hair and over the top make-up. Ahhh, the memories…

    You have just made my day, Marie. I bet we saw each other out and about back in the day.
    Ever go to Chances, Rockefeller’s, Sundances….where else??

  10. Karen Nelson says:

    I’d like to add Vivace as a place to take visitors. Poca Cosa has always been a favorite of mine (although I don’t like the new location as much).  Pastiche has a soft place in my heart due to their community-minedness, bistro portion options, inexpensive wine list and it’s not too out of my way!
    I have yet to find a good Thai restaurant in Tucson. It’s all relative, I suppose. I’ve had awesome Thai food in San Fran, Kona, and San Diego. Nothing compares here.

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