Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Noshing Around: Tucson Restaurants, Open and Closed

2008 was a hard year for Tucson restaurants.  Hopefully 2009 will be better but that remains to be seen especially with a high unemployment rate.  Here is a list of restaurants that opened and closed. Some opened and closed in the same year.

Jai Thai – opened end of Dec. 2007
Shlomo & Vito’s New York Delicatessen – end of 2007
Sushi Garden North – end of 2007
Grimaldi’s Pizzeria – 12/31/07
The Steak House in the new Desert Diamond Casino
Miss Saigon Bar & Grill in NW
Cocina Loca – mid Jan.
Reopen – Sultan Palace
Bistro Philippe – 1st week of Feb
Fratelli’s Gelato Lounge
Zona 78 – 2/18 (2nd location)
Fire – 2/17 or 3/1 (Dove Mtn)
Chile Verde
BevMo – end of Feb.– chain wine store
A-Z Eatery
Ma & Pa Donut Store – same owners as Galo
Italia – May
Ginza – end of Jan or Feb
Asian Bistro
College Place
Waverly’s Coffee – drive thru only
Saffron – June
Sertinos Café – June
Native New Yorker
Marcos Pizza – July
Sunny Daze
Oracle Inn Steakhouse – town of Oracle
Jax Kitchen – August  (formerly Conti’s locale)
Crave – Reopen
5th Street Deli – August (formerly Feig’s)
Glass Onion Café
World Sports Grille – August
Casa Sanchez (formerly Sanchez Burrito Co./same family)
Fuku Sushi – September (formerly Café 940)
Total Wine and More – September – big chain wine store
On a Roll – September (sushi)
Midtown B&G – has off track betting which supports the cruel sport of greyhound racing
Taco Giro – has a new name (something like Golden Fish)
Amereno’s – September (reopened after 3 years/new location)
Luna Bella
Chef Alisah
San Carlos Grill #2 – Nov
Wild West Hot Sauce – Nov (store)
My Big Fat Greek Restaurant – Nov (2nd location)
Harvest – Nov (in Torino’s space)
BevMo #2 – big chain wine store
Tucson Tamale Co. – Nov.
Cold Snap Yogurt – Dec.
Local Harvest Marketplace – Nov.
Frost  – Nov. (3rd location)
Maynard’s Market – Dec.
Hong Kong Restaurant – Dec. (formerly Jai Thai)
Boston Gourmet Pizza – Dec. (franchise)
Amber Restaurant – Dec  (formerly Olive Tree)
Sur Real – Dec. (formerly Soleil)

Saguaro Corners – 12/16/07
Ziggi’s – Silverbell –end of 2007
Wine Brothers – end of 2007
Galo’s – 12/31/07
Casablanca – January
Café 940 – Jan/Feb
Olive Tree – March
Art’s BBQ – July (after many years)
Bistro Philippe – June (only open for 4 months)
Sanchez Burrito Co.
Fire – July (only open for a few months with different chefs)
Sushi Hama
Feig’s – July
Cocina Loca
Intermezzo – July
Shari’s – July (long time favorite)
Jai Thai – (their sign kept blowing down)
Crave Espresso
Last Territory Steakhouse – August
Bajio – Tucson does not need another bad Mexican chain)
Mona Lisa – August
Bistro & Bar 58 – August (Campbell location)
On the Border – River Road
Silver Lining Café
Taco Giro
Long Wong’s (6th Street)
Olive R Twist
OK Corral (long time favorite)
French Quarter (long time favorite/new owner)
Charlie’s Tavern
Fratelli’s Gelato Lounge – never had the volume but had great gelato
Casa Sanchez 


For the record, Jax Kitchen is my favorite new restaurant. I love the cool minimalist interior, the frites, the Kobe burger with caramelized onions, the ahi tuna Nicoise salad, the cheese puffs. OMG! The cheese puffs are like none other.

I also liked Fratelli’s Gelato Lounge but really how much gelato could I eat? I don’t know why it never got its groove on but the signage was not that good. It really needed constant volume and probably wholesale sales to make it work.

Another place that I like is the Tucson Tamale Co. It’s not your average tamale and the tamales are lard free, modeled after L.A.’s Corn Maiden, and even has vegan tamales as well as traditional. The owner blogged about his experience of opening the business.

If you do dine out, choose local restaurants. Why? Because chain restaurants get support from corporate whereas local restaurants rely on themselves. Local restaurants also put more money back into the Tucson community than corporate restaurants.

  1. I would love to see you review Amerino’s (you spelled it wrong) Little Italy. And BTW, they were closed 2 years not three but thank god she made it to open. Now she needs good reviews.

  2. BMH,

    According to a source who works downtown and used to eat at Motzi occasionally, yes, they are closed and have been closed for a few months already.

    I don’t think Motzi ever got their groove on. Their awning only said Motzi. It should’ve said Motzi Cafe or Motzi Bakery & Cafe. It’s not a given what Motzi was.

    As for Amereno’s or Amerino’s, it’s spelled both ways in articles on the Web. However, in the Google listing and DexOnline, it’s with an “e”.

    The owners of Amereno’s needs to get some press releases out there and especially do advertising during the Gem Show so for people who used to like their food and go to their previous location, they can be reunited.

  3. What is wrong with chains? don’t get me wrong, some of my favorite restaurants in town are local, such as Samurai, Cafe Poca Cosa, and El Mezon De Cobre. But, this town sorely lacks good quality “chain” restaurants that offer great food. Not the Chilli’s, Applebees, Olive Garden crap, but great chains like Z’Tejas, Fogo De Chao, Kona Grill, etc.

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