Bite into This: Great Deli & Sandwich Spots Around Tucson

What Tucson lacks in traditional deli counters it more than makes up in inventive new takes on classic sandwiches. Head to Delectables for lunch, for instance, and see how this Fourth Avenue gem reinvents the tuna salad sandwich into a gourmet delight. But if you're craving something more traditional, it doesn't get more old-school than Tony's Italian Deli, a little slice of Brooklyn in the Old Pueblo. Quality meats and cheeses are packed into fresh-baked Italian bread for a deli sandwich treat. The Sausage Deli is another must-try for all stripes of sandwich aficionados. Finally, for thick and hearty Chicago-style sandwiches, Luke's Sandwiches fixes up some of the best pastrami sandwiches in town.

10 World Wide Wrappers
This fun, colorful quick service restaurant on busy Fourth Avenue provides a flavorful and healthy alternative to traditional fast food. Although these are not traditional sandwiches and wraps, the quality of the ingredients and creative takes on classics make World Wide Wrappers a stand-out and must-try. Fresh ingredients are wrapped into flavored low-fat tortillas, making for a taste explosion in your mouth that is both delicious and filling. ((520) 884-7070)

9 Delectables
Delectables, as the name implies, serves up delicious lunches, dinners, and beverages on busy Fourth Avenue. The extensive menu features specialty entrees, burgers, sandwiches, and creative salads. Only the highest quality ingredients are used to create a truly unique dining experience. Try one of their gourmet sandwiches, such as the African Tuna Salad on Wheat, which elevates the classic tuna salad sandwich to new heights. ((520) 884-9289)

8 Eegee's
A fixture in Tucson since 1971, this is the preferred stop on sweltering Arizona days when folks drop in for an "eegee," a unique fruity, slushy concoction somewhere between an Italian ice and a slightly thawed sorbet. Choose from lemon, strawberry, pina colada or the changing flavor of the month. Food-wise, the subs, salads, soups, fries and pasta are steps above the usual fast food fare, making it a popular lunchtime destination, too. There are about 20 locations around town, so an "eegee" is never far from hand! (520-792-1828)

7 Cafe Passe
This quiet, charming cafe, tucked away on busy Fourth Avenue, offers great coffee, food, cocktails and ambiance. The espresso bar serves up classic shots, mochas and specialty espresso drinks. Try the 4th Avenue, a delightful blend of espresso, amaretto syrup, chocolate and milk. For a southwestern kick, try the Meso Mocha, made with espresso, a blend of cocoa, cinammon, cayenne and milk. If you're hungry, the breakfast and lunch menu offer fresh fare. The Bagel deLox comes with Nova Scotia smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumbers, capers, greens, tomatoes, onions and fresh basil. The lunch menu features great salads, sandwiches and paninis. ((520) 624-4411)

6 Caffe Milano
Caffe Milano is located in the heart of downtown Tucson on Congress Street. The authentic Italian cuisine is prepared fresh daily. The menu features traditional Mediterranean breakfasts, pasta plates, salads, and some of the best panini sandwiches in town. The panini sandwiches at Caffe Milano are made with Boars Head meats and served on fresh-baked focaccia, ciabatta, or tuscan bread. ((520) 628-1601)

5 Luke's Sandwiches
Looking for authentic Chicago-style sandwiches in the middle of the desert Southwest? You'll find them right here at Luke's Sandwiches. Italian Beef, Ribeye Steak, and the Pastrami all feature quality meats and cheeses served on fresh-baked Italian rolls. Try "the Del," named after the original owner of Luke's, Luke del Principe. The sandwich features Italian beef on a hard French roll dipped in aujus sauce. ((520) 795-6060)

4 Tony's Italian Deli
This southeast-side Italian deli is the closest thing you can get to going back east without having to step on a plane. Tony's Italian Deli evokes the classic Brooklyn corner market, serving up some of Tucson's freshest deli cuts and tastiest specialty sandwiches. Along with cold and hot sandwiches, you'll also find an array of Italian pasta entrees, salads, and pizzas. ((520) 747-0070)

3 Bison Witches Bar
You're probably wondering where the name comes from. Well, if you run the phrase "buy sandwiches" together, it might sound a bit like "Bison Witches." OK, maybe that's not so creative, but the food at this neighborhood college hangout is. They serve sandwiches, soups, salads and beer, but what a selection. Soups and salads are served in big bread bowls, making them a complete meal in and of themselves. But the sandwiches truly are noteworthy, due to their variety, massive size and general tastiness. Try the Hawaiian chicken, brie and roast beef, or the Wildcat (roast beef, smoked turkey, smoked gouda, lettuce and spicy honey-mustard). If you're feeling homesick, there's grilled cheese or PB&J--now that's comfort food! The beverage list is impressive too: 8 domestics and imports on tap, plus more than 30 microbrews and over 20 imports in bottles. Great drink specials (this is a college bar, after all!). (520-740-1541)

2 Sausage Deli
Serving fresh, over-sized sandwiches for over 30 years, Sausage Deli has established itself as a sandwich hot spot for University of Arizona students. However, foodies of all stripes have been congregating here for years now to get a taste of the restaurant's original take on deli. Sit n the cozy dining room and savor the joys of the Hot Omar Sub while sipping on a cold beer, or call in your order for some of the best sandwich take-out in town. ((520) 623-8182)

1 Beyond Bread
For a quick bite on your way to work or a day of sightseeing, bypass all those fast food chains and stop at Beyond Bread. The cinnamon raisin French toast is unbeatable, but if you like protein in the morning, try a made-to-order omelette, stuffed full of your choice of meats, cheese and veggies. Lighter appetites might prefer a simple croissant, muffin or scone. Later in the day, opt for a cleverly named sandwich or salad, a slice of dark chocolate cake or a massive cookie. Breads range from specials like Ancho-Chipotle-White Cheddar and Brie-Scallion-Chive to more traditional varieties such as challah and baguettes there are more than 30 breads in the regular schedule, about half of which are available on any given day. (520-322-9965)

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.

From Our Partners

Maps and Directions

World Wide Wrappers 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Deli, Vegetarian
Eegee's 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American
Dining Options: Catering, Non-Smoking, Take Out
Neighborhood: South Tucson
Cafe Passe 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American
Caffe Milano 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Luke's Sandwiches 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Deli, European, Italian
Tony's Italian Deli 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Deli, European, Italian
Bison Witches Bar 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Non-Smoking
Neighborhood: Downtown
Sausage Deli 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Deli
Beyond Bread 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Bakery
Dining Options: Catering, Disabled Accessible, Family Friendly, Non-Smoking, Take Out
Neighborhood: North Tucson