We've all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Let's hope that's true, because Tucson boasts an impressive list of great breakfast and brunch spots.
Tucson's best breakfast and brunch spots specialize in fresh ingredients, made from scratch recipes, and inviting early-morning ambiance. Case in point: Frank's Restaurant, a cafe well known around town for its unpretentious atmosphere and great value. Food is served fast, hot and with a friendly smile. And if you get there before 9 am, you can order the popular Early Bird Special, two eggs, your choice of home fries or hash browns, with a side of toast, tortilla or muffin, all for less than two dollars.
If you want to start your day off on a charming note, head to Tucson's Fourth Avenue for breakfast at Blue Willow. The lovely patio at Blue Willow is the perfect place to enjoy a plate of sumptuous French toast with a side of fresh fruit.
For a shot of espresso and a gourmet crepes, head to Cafe Marcel, a charming cafe with a comfy outdoor patio and free Wi-Fi.
Looking for a cool brunch spot in downtown Tucson? Head to Nook - and don't miss their crumpet sandwiches!
For one of the most sophisticated breakfast menus around town, don't miss Prep & Pastry, where you can feast on a killer Bloody Mary and a duck confit hash.
Formerly known as Cafe Zope, this excellent creperie and espresso bar serves Tucson's bustling university neighborhoods. The cafe is one of the best places in Tucson to enjoy traditional crepes. These scrumptious European-style pancakes are stuffed with your choice of sweet or savory fillings. All sweet crepes are topped with fresh berries, powdered sugar and whipped cream. The menu is always changing, with new fillings introduced all the time. However, you can always count on great ambiance. Cafe Marcel has a peaceful patio, free Wi-Fi and a great espresso bar. ((520) 623-3700)
Sunny Daze Cafe
This beach-inspired neighborhood cafe brings the spirit and attitude of the beach to the sunny deserts of Tucson. Sunny Daze Cafe dishes out a great breakfast, with a huge selection of classics including hotcakes, french toast, waffles, omelettes, egg dishes, and hot and cold cereals. Try one of the house specialties, such as the popular Mark's Big Daddy Breakfast, which comes with three eggs, two strips of bacon, two sausage links, three hotcakes, toast and your choice of regular or loaded hash browns. The Huevos Rancheros are quite good too. There is also a build your own omelette option for a custom breakfast specialty. ((520) 295-0300)
The trendy Hotel Congress has a happening little cafe that serves what many consider to be the best breakfast around. All the familiar favorites are offered, along with some more creative options such as the Boom Boom (scrambled eggs, cheese and roasted red potatoes piled on a toasted baguette), Eggs and Gunpowder (a bowl of roasted red potatoes topped with eggs, turkey chorizo and jack cheese), and Bennie's Burrito (a tortilla stuffed with scrambled eggs, spicy black beans, sprouts, jack cheese, diced green chiles, black olives, sour cream and fresh salsa). Lunch and dinner tend to be more international in scope, but the food is equally wonderful. (520-798-1618, 800-722-8848)
Baja Cafe is a hidden gem in midtown Tucson. The small cafe is only open for breakfast and lunch, but it's well worth seeking out when you're craving an authentic southwestern meal. The colorful cafe has indoor seating and a shaded patio with free wi-fi. The menu offers traditional Mexican fare, as well as American classics made with southwestern ingredients and fare. This is the place to go when you're craving nopalitos (cactus), hatch chiles and prickly pear. The cafe serves local Arbuckle coffee. House specialties include the popular Baja Burger, two burger patties seared in an adobo sauce and topped with jalapeno bacon, Hatch green chili, chipotle mayonnaise and pepper jack cheese. Baja Cafe is probably one of the most beloved breakfast and brunch spots on Broadway, too. Come here for early morning delicacies like the house snickerdoodle pancakes. ((520) 495-4772)
Corned beef hash and eggs is the favorite at Robert's, with good reason. It's the real thing! Of course there are other options, including just about every conceivable combination of eggs and breakfast meats is on the menu, along with plenty of freshly-baked bread and pastry. Lunch is hearty comfort food: meatloaf, chicken fried steak or pork chops, all with mashed potatoes, a roll and vegetable of the day. There are a few sandwiches too, of the egg salad-grilled ham and cheese variety, and homemade pies and cakes for dessert. Make sure to try the homemade cinnamon rolls too, a restaurant staple. (520-795-1436)
Tucked away in an old house, Blue Willow is renowned for its comfortable, home-style cooking and its charming patio. Shaded in the summer and heated in the winter, it's the perfect spot for a fun weekday lunch with friends or a relaxing weekend breakfast. The menu is chock full of omelettes and other filling morning meal favorites, all accompanied by fresh fruit and potatoes or rice. Lunch and dinner options range from soups and salads to delicate crepes and vegetarian dishes. The place is equally famous for its desserts, particularly the chocolate confection of the day, which never fails to impress and satisfy. (520-327-7577)
Bobo's Restaurant in Tucson offers home style and country breakfasts in a friendly neighborhood dining environment. This local greasy spoon is a favorite with breakfast-lovers looking for hot, tasty breakfast platters. You'll find the usual suspects of pancakes, omelets and sides, as well as an assortment of house specialties. Sweet tooths will want to try the banana pancakes, french toast or chocolate chip pancakes, enormous, fluffy and sweet. For an out-of-this-world breakfast plate, try the Flying Saucer pancake. Of course, no matter what you order, you'll want to try Bobo's famous fresh-baked buttermilk biscuits. A great place to rub elbows with locals. (520-326-6163)
Frank's & Francisco's
You won't find elegant dining rooms at Frank's, but that alone is part of this mid-century diner's charm. A long-time Tucson staple and one of the oldest diners in town, Frank's Restaurant is famous for its fast, friendly take on breakfast and lunch. The French toast, eggs, bacon and coffee are consistently good. Even better, Frank's is proof that the early bird really does get the worm: if you arrive before 9 am on a weekday morning, you can order The Early Bird Special, two eggs prepared in any style, served with home fries or hash browns and your choice of biscuit, toast or tortilla--all for less than two dollars. Not a bad way to get the day started. (520-881-2710)
Looking for a cool downtown spot to enjoy brunch with friends? Nook in downtown Tucson fits the bill to a tee. This New American "urban kitchen" offers an eclectic breakfast and brunch menu that runs the gamut from light offerings (a frozen yogurt parfait sweetened with agave syrup, for example) to homemade specialties (the restaurant's signature crumpet sandwiches). You can't really go wrong with house specialties like the Godfather Benedict, which features prosciutto and a bright balsamic drizzle. The Pure Breakfast crumpet sandwich is also pretty irresistible, made with a folded egg and Swiss cheese garnished with microgreens. ((520) 622-6665)
Prep and Pastry
Prep and Pastry opened in 2013, announcing itself as a "craft" breakfast, lunch and brunch destination in central Tucson. Essentially, this means dishes are made from scratch and crafted from locally sourced ingredients. The breakfast menu is one of the most unique and sophisticated in town. Highlights include the Chef Omelette, which changes daily and is served with a side of the house hash. Another stand-out is the A.M. Relleno, a savory mix of eggs, pico, queso fresco, poblano pepper, corn tortilla strips, and a rich mole sauce. The duck confit hash is another gourmet breakfast specialty, made with shallots, spinach, chardonnay braised golden raisins, goat cheese mousse, and an over easy egg. ((520) 326-7737)
About Patricia Escarcega
Patricia Escarcega has lived in the Arizona desert since she was a teenager. She works as a writer and editor in Phoenix with her four dogs and two cats.
She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and is working on a novel about growing up in the 1990s.
Read more about Patricia Escarcega here.