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The Downtown Tucson Burrito Tour, Summer '16 Edition
by Kai Parmenter
It was no surprise when Tucson was designated an International City of Gastronomy last December, as Tucson is home to an array of authentic Mexican food unparalleled in the Southwest, perhaps even the country. Most food tours center on more common mall fare like pizza, burgers or beer, but that won’t do here. No, what we need is a tour that focuses on something uniquely strong in Tucson, something that can vary widely yet almost everyone enjoys in some form.
We need a burrito tour. BURRITOS! (Sorry, the word elicits excitement around these parts.)
And so, without further ado, here’s a rundown of our favorite spots for BURRITOS! nestled Downtown:
EL CHARRO CAFÉ
Fast approaching its hundredth anniversary, El Charro Café is a Tucson staple, and the oldest continuously owned Mexican restaurant in the United States—by the same family, no less! With an emphasis on Sonoran and local-style cuisine, El Charro has some mighty tasty burritos, including chicken, beef and carnitas-based options for their daily lunch special, with even more choices for dinner (vegetarian options included). The restaurant oozes character, filled to the brim with Southwestern/Mexican artwork and cultural pieces. They’ve got a patio and full bar too. 311 N. Court Ave.
First opened in 1936, El Minuto Café is one of the oldest Mexican restaurants around—they’re even owned and operated by the original family. Featuring a relaxed cantina setting, El Minuto offers timeless Sonoran-style cuisine, including burritos, of course. El Minuto has everything from carne asada and chorizo & egg to classics like chicken and shredded beef (the chicken is particularly tasty, and sizable). For those who prefer theirs fried, chimichangas are also available, as well as optional sides like rice and beans. El Minuto Café is located at 354 S. Main Avenue, just south of the Tucson Convention Center.
ANITA STREET MARKET
If a no-frills eatery is more your style, look no further than Anita Street Market. Voted “Best Burritos” by Arizona Highways Magazine in January 2014, Anita has traditional options like green chile, machaca and carne asada, several breakfast options and a red chicken that’s positively divine. Anita’s meat-based burritos are just that—a healthy portion of choice meat wrapped in a fresh tortilla (they make those too!). Select items like chile, beans and rice are also available to take home in pint or quart sizes, in addition to chorizo, salsa and tortillas. They even have empanadas, and really, what more could you want? 849 N. Anita Ave.
STREET TACO & BEER CO.
Great burritos may also be found at Street Taco & Beer Co., a local restaurant that deftly combines simplicity and modernity with a casual atmosphere. Choices include asada, grilled chicken, marinated pork, shredded beef, fish, veggie and more. You can also customize your burrito, choosing between several types of beans and rice, and add salsa and guacamole. As their name implies, they also have tacos, and specialty items like street dogs, quesadillas and churros. Best of all, they have a good selection of beers on tap, most of them local. Beat that, Chipotle! 58 W. Congress Street.
Located in the heart of Downtown, Alejandro’s Café is billed as a simple breakfast and lunch affair, yet features a surprisingly robust menu. Alejandro’s has eight breakfast burrito variants, in addition to daily breakfast specials throughout the workweek. Choices include everything from sausage or bacon with eggs and potato to A la Mexicana (scrambled eggs with tomato, onion and jalapeño). Lunch options include carne seca, beef with red or green chile, chicken, and veggie, each available chimichanga style and/or as a combination plate with rice and beans. Those searching for a simple, tasty burrito to start their day or as a quick lunch have met their match. 31 N. Scott Ave.
BURRITOS! We scream it daily.